Read in the Name of Your Lord – Editorial

Read in the Name of Your Lord“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” (Ray Bradbury)

After running a publication for nearly nine years, I cannot agree more. Most Pakistanis have erratic spending patterns, I notice. For many, buying a mere magazine comes as blatant wastage of money. But when it comes to eating out or shopping for clothes, it appears no budgets exist.

If we cannot read a magazine, how can we appreciate the beauty and depths of books along with the spell-binding impact they create? Consequently, those who read nothing or only to achieve academic milestones can almost immediately be identified. And I don’t just mean they have less than eloquent speech or a poor vocabulary bank. They generally have restricted thoughts and trivial conversations; they do very little to enrich their own or others’ lives. Their poor observation, lack of patience and prejudiced actions indicate obvious under-usage of their minds and abilities bestowed to them by Allah (swt).

“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists).” (Al-Alaq, 96:1) Why did our Creator instruct the Holy Prophet (sa) to begin his journey of prophethood with the sublime task of reading, reflecting and acting upon the Quran? Why didn’t Allah (swt) command him to watch, listen, experience or learn by another means? For a nation, whose first revelation was to read in the name of the Lord, how well are we faring today?

Reading is not just an intellectual activity. It serves as a power supply for insight and happiness. Revealed knowledge connects us to our Creator and self. Acquired knowledge further facilitates this process and humbles us to serve the creation. Try asking a surgeon how he recognizes the wondrous miracles of Allah (swt), when he opens up the human body and finds the intricate workings of the organs therein. The books he reads on human anatomy spring to life and help him understand the verses of the Quran with higher meaning.

“Books, like friends, should be few and well-chosen.” (Joineriana) It is almost an appalling tragedy to see some extremely learned and gifted individuals unremorsefully treading the misguided path. One is better off an illiterate than reading rubbish or material that destructs his/her Fitrah.

As rude as it may sound, Georg Christoph Lichetenberg stated that “a book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out”. Developing love and appreciation for books is part of Tarbiyah and growing up. Those, who have not experienced this, will always consider reading as a chore or a duty meant to be put off. This is similar to the way the diets for over-weight people always begin tomorrow.

Reading and books are also deeply associated with today’s educational system. The education sector of a country determines its overall progress and participation in global events. Some of the countries with the highest number of literacy rates are: Vatican City (population: 826 people; literacy rate: 100%) and Andorra, the sixth smallest European country (population: 83,888; literacy rate: 100%). Finland is ranked as the third most educated country in the world with some of the best universities. Besides their rightly set priorities, size of the population being scarce is an advantage they commonly enjoy. For Pakistan, this may not be the case.

Describing education as the single, most important factor for alleviating poverty, the Pakistan Economic Survey 2009-2010 confirms that public expenditure in this sector has declined to a paltry 2 per cent of the gross domestic product. The survey puts the average literacy rate at 57 per cent – 69 per cent for males and 45 per cent for females.

Literacy is the acquisition of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. In other words, literacy is the meaningful acquisition, development and use of the written language. In Pakistan, the definition of literate is structured at the time of Population Census. In the 1998 Population Census, a literate person has been defined as “one who can read newspaper and write a simple letter in any language.”

NGOs and the private sector have a critical role to play in helping to achieve whatever success we have in the education sector. Though we have an uphill task at hand, with capable leadership and a sincere vision, our human resources can be developed to meet their potential. Great responsibility and accountability rests with those who are privileged enough to be called the upscale literates. Reading with understanding should be promoted at every level by every individual and not just by those who are directly involved in the business of education and journalism. Also, reading must be accompanied with an inbuilt filtering process that can separate chaff from the wheat. To attain this goal, our extremely brilliant predecessors learnt the Quran and Ahadeeth, before they took up any other discipline for exploration and specialization. It guided them to stay on track and side step the orbits that led them off the Shariah.

The House of Wisdom library was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1258, along with all the other libraries in Baghdad. It was said that the waters of the Tigris ran black for six months with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river. But today, we refuse to own up our own heritage and pass it on to our next generations. And purposeful reading and writing is one such task. Joseph Brodsky said: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

Beginning to Read

beginning to read

By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at and

Reading is a habit many people set out to cultivate and no wonder! Books can be extremely satisfying companions; they make you laugh, cry and, most importantly, they open up your minds to ideas and information you had never heard of before. Books are indeed our best friends!

Reading is a great habit to develop. If you’d like to cultivate a lifetime habit of reading, try some of these tips!

1 Set reading goals. An initial burst of enthusiasm for reading will not sustain the habit. You need to set goals for yourself, defining how long you will read every day. You can start with ten minutes a day and gradually increase the time. Or you can decide how many pages you will read every day. Find a quiet place where you can read uninterrupted for the time you have specified.

2 Find a book you love. Reading is highly enjoyable, but not if you are reading a book that is boring or one you can’t understand. Explore topics and genres that interest you and those to which you can relate. Make a list of books you would like to read – then, slowly and gradually go through them.

3 Have reading triggers. Every habit has a trigger – a regularly occurring event that immediately precedes the habit. Every time those triggers come up, read. Common reading triggers have been identified as eating, going to bed, travelling in the car, waiting somewhere (outside the school or in a doctor’s clinic), etc. Choose your triggers and read without fail. Also, always remember to carry a book with you whenever you leave the house. Chances are you might not need the book for nine trips out of the ten you make, but the tenth time you’ll be glad you brought the book along.

4 Have a library/bookshop day. Make a weekly trip to a library or a bookshop (second-hand bookstores are always great!). Browsing through different books is a useful way to spend some time and open up your mind to the variety of literature available for your reading pleasure. More often that not, you will end up buying amazing books that you can’t wait to read!

5 Make it pleasurable. Make your reading pleasurable and fun. Settle with a hot cup of tea/coffee or any other treat. But remember – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to read. Reading is for pleasure, and if you get stressed and push yourself too hard, you might give it up altogether. It might be a great idea to discuss books with your friends or join a book club to help you enjoy the reading experience even more.

Is anyone reading out there?

Read in the Name of Your Lord

Hiba Magazine got in touch with AFAQ Publishers to get their input. Muhammad Pervez, Teacher-Educator, AFAQ (Karachi) gave us the following response:

Assessment of readers’ demographics along with what they are reading is a very important topic to explore the tastes of the reader in this modern era.

In the digital age, we think the readers want to peruse material on pertinent issues with an innovative approach. It will be up to the writers and market researchers to find out which topics the audience wants to read along with its segmentation in term of taste, social requirements and age groups.

If we make an analogy with a fantasy novel, Harry Potter, and consider the reason it sold 450 millions copies and has been translated in 67 languages, the answer is very simple. A reader will buy and read if the writer has developed his/her thirst of knowledge and taken into consideration the basic structure of the literature (thrill, adventure, character, romance, etc).

It is an old debate that readers don’t want to read anymore. I think the importance of books and print media is not going to minimize. However, the dimensions and terminologies have changed. We are living in an age of competitive and challenging environments. Globally, we are facing too many issues and social problems. We are searching to get rid of their affects. A reader is keen to know and update oneself along with one’s community and next generation. At the same time, one also seeks escapism and relaxation in fictional literature.

The fact is a reader of today is the leader of the tomorrow.

Read in the Name of Your Lord

Read in the Name of Your Lord

By Dr. Muhammad Abid Ali – Master Mariner, PhD in Education, and founding member of two educational research institutes

Why should our children read? What are the effects of reading on children? How do we choose the books for our children? These are some of the important questions to answer, before giving any book to kids. I believe reading may be one of the most significant activities in the personality and character development not only of our children but any educated human being.

With Destination in Mind

We have around seventy to eighty years of earthly sojourn before our eternal afterlife, which is determined by our performance in this life. Our performance depends on how we are prepared to perform by both the external interventions and self development. Talking of external interventions, the priority falls on the parents’ nurturing of their children. Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Every child is born on Al-Fitrah but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian.” (Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Tabarani – each with slight differences in wording)

Reading and the Process of Learning

If I am a Chinese, will anyone expect me to write like a Pakistani? Isn’t it an unreasonable expectation? Why does a Chinese write like a Chinese and a Pakistani like a Pakistani? This is because of the cultural overtone which is impossible to avoid. A western writing will depict western culture, underlying beliefs and core concepts of life. It is unavoidable, for we are very structured, thinking beings, who make statements around our thinking, or what we call paradigms. No human being can be separated from that. Reading is a strong learning intervention; as such, reading will definitely expose the reader to the culture, underlying beliefs and core concepts of the writer’s life. For a grown-up it may not be as influential as for a child, who is at a very active mode of learning.

Green and Brock have shown through experiments that children exposed to egalitarian reading material show more egalitarian responses and in spite of time passage, despite some reduction, the effect persists. They further elaborate that the narratives are persuasive and the morals rooted in them affect children’s worldview. Mar and Oatley observe that reading influences the process of learning. They claim that reading fiction has more effect, as the reader un-intentionally emulates the characters of the fiction. Hakemulder researched fifty-four reliable and valid experimental studies, in which fictional narratives indicated substantial effect on moral development, norms, values, and self-concepts. Mar and Oatley observe that change in personality is mediated by the emotions experienced while reading. Any intellectual exercise will affect a child’s learning, and reading is considered to be one of the powerful learning tools.

Reading affects the learning process and, consequently, the personality of a child. Perception, or our worldview, is utterly affected by learning processes. Any event or knowledge that casts an impression on the human mind affects this worldview; as such, it is susceptible to modification. For the first few years of life, the changes are major, and as the mental maps become defined, the modifications become more subtle and selective. Muslim scholar Acigenc claims that all human conduct is ultimately traceable to a worldview; worldview is the “framework within which our mind operates”. Ibn Khaldun often compares it to a dye that lasts until the cloth, to which it has been applied, is destroyed. Whereas Stephen Covey claims that we see the world not as it is, but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it. He further emphasizes that the lens, through which we see the world, shapes our interpretation of the world. And one of the major factors, which shape this lens, is an individual’s learning processes.

Furthermore, most Muslim and western intellectuals, such as Miskawyah, Al-Farabi, Ghazali, Ibn Khaldun, Frued, Adler, Millard, Dollard, Montessori, and John Holt, agree that the initial years of an individual are crucial for active personality development; which is the period of active worldview development. The learning interventions, which disrupt Islamic identity and values, will accordingly affect this personality development. Covey calls it the farmhouse rule: you always reap what you sow.

With the logic constructed above, if we take reading as a learning process, which significantly influences a child’s worldview and shapes the personality, it is imperative to keep the above farmhouse rule in mind. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. Any harmful or useless concepts from the Islamic perspective are garbage for us; for example, the concept of world without a creator or the denial of the afterlife. Concepts, which are the main features of the western sciences, reflect in their literature as well. The dependency on western literature is a self-inflicted tragedy in the Muslim societies. The learning interventions develop a mental map or perception, which is based on western thoughts, quite contrary to the Islamic worldview. As a result, we try to find our way through to the destination through the wrong map.

Effects of Learning on Beliefs and Actions

How does the learning and the worldview affect our beliefs and actions? Let’s look at a few examples.

My five-year-old daughter came with her mathematics book, covering a picture with her palm, and insisted that it was something, which couldn’t be shown to me. Upon my repeated requests, she exposed the picture of a lone lady in a bikini lying on a beach, depicting the solitary for the numeral one. She had not yet polluted her perception with the western concept of shame. For her, shame was still the map that we had created in theory. My son was taught from a British published history book in his O’Levels that Tipu Sultan was a rebel. Should we blame the British for this statement? From their perspective, he was; from our perspective – he was a hero.

A sister narrates: “I have noticed that my 9-year-old son is somewhat conditioned to happy endings, which once again can be the influence of children’s subculture and ‘happily ever after’ trends in cartoons. Just recently he read in his reading-aloud time a story in which the main character (11 years old boy) died at the end of the story, and felt very emotionally crushed by such an ending. He even said to me not to give to him such stories anymore, because he felt so very sad reading it. It gave us the chance to talk about the real life scenarios of sad events and how they differ from happy endings of most cartoons/fiction stories/fairytales.”

Another example is from a revert sister, who narrates how effectively the former Soviet Union could condition the students to the Soviet requirements:

“I was growing up in the communist system of the Soviet Union. The focus of government at the time was very much on the schoolchildren – to develop them into loyal citizens of the state. This was achieved by a heavy dose of ideology being pushed into young minds (which I was not aware of as a child, of course) through purposefully written school books infused with ideology and the requirement of Russian language and Russian literature courses in all schools, starting from the very first grade.”

Further, she elaborates about the results of this programming:

“Believe it or not, the system was extremely good and successfully produced the required results. I realized this, when after the break-up of the Soviet Union I went for studies to the US as part of a group of students from the former Soviet Union. We, the students, ourselves were amazed at how similar all of us were. Even though we came from different Soviet states, spoke different languages, had different local cultures, we still had the feeling like we’ve grown up in the same neighbourhood – we laughed about the same jokes, admired the same heroes and had the same sets of moral values.”

Other than the conditioning, the above examples indicate the effect of literature on a child’s mind. Every written matter has a message, and a child reader absorbs it more readily and completely than a grown-up, as the worldview of a young child is still raw and in a state of formation. The effects in childhood are long-lasting and more permanent, as compared to those of adults, who have already developed filters due to a more established worldview. For Maulana Maudoodi, exposing youth to an alien culture certainly results in the loosening of Islamic morals and loss of Islamic identity.

A revert sister, reflecting on the effects of reading English books by children, cautions: “…the foreign language and cultural baggage that comes along with it will leave lasting marks on the personality of the child and the way he/she views the world. This aspect is especially important for us, as parents of Muslims, to understand.”

Eighty years ago, another famous revert, Allama Muhammad Asad, sternly warned the Islamic world: “Islam and Western civilisation, being built on diametrically opposed conceptions of life, are not compatible in spirit. This being so, how could we expect that the education of Muslim youth on Western lines, an education based entirely on Western cultural experiences and values, could remain free from anti-Islamic influences?”

The tragedy the contemporary Muslim societies are inflicted with is the uncritical embracing of the Western educational interventions and learning processes. Long ago, Sayyid Qutb also cautioned us that when we indiscriminately use Western educational interventions, we undoubtedly borrow also a general scheme of philosophy and a mode of thought that underlies these interventions, “whether we like it or not”.

As I write this article, I observe my 14-months-old granddaughter and am so awed at the intelligence, which Allah (swt) has bestowed every child with. She has a different approach in behaving with each member of her close and extended family. Before me, she will avoid putting anything in her mouth, she will behave with more tenderness with my mother and has an entirely different behavior with my sister, whom she is extremely fond of. She cannot speak yet but understands our verbal conversation with her and follows our instructions. To think that at another two or three years, she will be less intelligent to absorb the message of any literature that we read to her seems to me extremely absurd.

We have to be very careful in exposing our children to any concepts alien to Islam. For certainly these will leave their impressions, no matter how much we try to control it. It is equal to developing an intimacy with the culture and approach of the presenters. The Quran warns us: “O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you.” (Al-Imran, 3:118)

When we develop deep intimacy with alien thoughts and philosophy, we develop a cognitive structure based on their logic pedestal. As a result, we become alien to the Quran and Islam itself. “They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.” (Al-A’raf, 7:179)

Iqbal quite vehemently advises us that from an educational perspective to use the literature that helps in creating higher ideals and motivates the nation towards acquiring those ideals. On the other hand, Iqbal also warns that this desirous nature of man can be dampened by wrong interventions, literature being an important factor.

I will conclude this article with a reflective insight and prudent advice from a revert sister:

“English was introduced to me at grade four level; however, it has not prevented me or any of my friends from achieving proficiency in it, if that’s what we wanted. No European non-English speaking country uses English as the medium in their classrooms – elementary level children are taught in their native languages. The fear of not becoming good enough in English, unless you start it at the age of 2.5 years and have it as your language of instruction at school, is totally baseless. If you learn how to express yourself well in your native language, you can later do the same in any foreign language you pick up. The foreign language (English in this case) does not magically give the child the skills of self-expression – it’s the child’s overall grooming and intellectual capabilities, which will make him/her good at using the foreign language.

Allah (swt) knows best.

From Paper to Pixels

From Paper to Pixels

By Tooba Asim – Freelance journalist

Don’t have the time to go and buy the original text of Shakespeare’s Othello for the school project? Or would you rather spend that money on something else? Fret not, for now you can get that and millions of other books free of cost in the ‘land of unlimited possibilities’ – the Internet.

E-mail has changed the face of the entire mailing system. E-banking, e-commerce, e-shopping and other such electronic equivalents of conventional means have revamped the way things worked. And now, e-books are making inroads in the world of paper and ink.

Electronic books, better known as e-books, are defined as the ‘electronic equivalents of conventional books’. Technically speaking, an e-book can take quite a lot of forms: image files, rich text format, hyper text mark-up language, CHM format, etc. To put it simply, it’s text on screen or text read aloud.

So what is it about them that makes them so interesting or rather advantageous?

Imagine a library full of books – the kind which has hundreds and thousands of books stacked in neat and orderly piles in old wooden shelves with a librarian behind the desk. How about having those heavy volumes of books in a couple of CDs? Or better yet, how about having a digital library? This is where e-books are set to bring the book industry to.

Gone are the days when one spent money on ridiculously expensive volumes, which were also very difficult to manage. Not only are e-books a cheaper alternative, they are also extremely convenient to keep. A stack of CDs might just be equal to a big library!

The Internet is one of the major sources of e-books, both free and paid for. They can be downloaded and read on screen, or they can be printed and transferred on paper. Here enters the e-book reader.

This amazing little hand-held device is all set to repaint the book reading scenario. Be it the Amazon’s Kindle or the Barnes and Noble’s Nook or any other brand, e-book readers are fast gaining popularity amongst the tech savvy book lovers. These dedicated book readers are especially designed to enhance the onscreen reading experience by having the right hardware to providing all the necessary software without additional hassle. They come with wi-fi as well to enable easy access to books online.

The trend of digital libraries is also growing fast all over the world, especially in schools and universities. The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan also has a National Digital Library Programme for universities. The idea is to provide the students with access to international research journals, articles and a collection of hundreds of e-books. Apart from providing easy access to material, the digital library also ensures that latest and up-to-date collection of journals is available.

With the trend of e-books fast catching up, it’s no more a worry to find an old beloved classic online and that too at no cost at all. Most e-book websites on the Internet provide old classics, but the Pandora’s Box that the Internet is, you can find almost all titles ranging from classic novels to latest popular fiction for free!

Millions of people daily acquire electronic books by paying for them and buying them in the form of audio books or by downloading them on their book readers. Considering the time an average Karachiite spends in the car stuck in traffic jams, audio books or e-books are actually quite a good idea!

Like all other technological advances, e-books are only very slowly making themselves known locally. It’s still very difficult to get hold of a decent collection of e-books in a bookstore. Most don’t even know what they are.

However, the big question is, are book lovers really ready to switch over to the electronic medium to pursue their hobby? What about curling up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and your favourite book on a Saturday night or a lazy Sunday? And that smell of new books and the yellowing pages of your grandparents’ cherished collections? Oh and what about discovering dried up flowers and bits of paper in an old book?

Also, computers, being machines, may snub you at the end of the day if they break down, catch a virus or your internet service provider stands you up. It also involves more complexity as opposed to grabbing a book anywhere and any time for instant pleasure.

Hopefully, the e-books will just compliment the use of traditional books and not replace them.

Some popular e-book sources: [The HEC’s National Digital Library Program] [a meta index of e-books available online]

Making the Most of Book Fairs

Making the Most of Book Fairs

By Hafsa Ahsan – Senior Assistant Editor, “Hiba” Magazine

Book fairs and book expos are definitely the events to look out for – not only do they offer a variety of books on all subjects under one roof, one can also avail much-needed discounts and special offers. However, like any other event, this one also needs to be thoroughly planned out. Here are a few tips to make the most of the book fairs.

Make a List

Entering a book fair without a list has the potential to turn your entire trip into a disaster, especially if it is crowded with no room for browsing. It is best to find out well in advance which publishers will be exhibiting; you can then look up their website to browse and read the reviews of the new and upcoming titles. Of course, this does not mean you cannot pick and choose titles on the go; however, if you have limited time (and space), a list is most handy.

Sort the List

Which books are really necessary to purchase at a book fair where there are original, hard-cover editions? Are there any books which can be borrowed from friends or purchased second-hand? You can do some research in order to sort the list.

Make a Budget

Once you have finalized your list, make your budget. It is best to save beforehand or make sure you receive your committee money in the months preceding the book fair. How much you decide to put aside depends entirely upon your list.

On the Day Itself

Make sure you reach as early as possible on a weekday to avoid massive crowds. Try to arrange baby-sitting for babies and pre-schoolers. Arrange a special, separate trip for children on the weekend, so they can have some fun with the activities organized especially for them.

Did you know?

In the very first Karachi International Book Fair in 2005, there were 50 participants in one hall. In 2011, there were three halls and 290 exhibitors.

Deutshe Welle’s Urdu service (Germany) covered the 2011 book fair in Karachi. Updates were sent from Karachi to their Bonn headquarter from where they were relayed across the European Union.

Lahore International Book Fair is the largest annual international book fair; the 2011 event was held in Johar Town, Lahore, where 165 local and foreign publishers and education-related organisations set up stalls.

Eight hundred Arabic and international exhibitors from more than 60 countries set up stalls at the 21st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair held in 2011.

In 2011, the first Arabic Book Fair was held at the Dubai Women’s College as part of the Library Week event under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al-Nahyan, then Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

MV Logos Hope, the world’s largest floating book fair, arrived in Dubai in 2011. It offered a selection of over 7,000 books and had the capacity to entertain 800 visitors on board at any one time. Its International Café hosted many interactive displays and activities, including an opportunity to meet any one of 400 crew members.

Tracing the Forgotten Women Scholars of Islam

Tracing the Forgotten Women Scholars of Islam

By Umm Isam – Writer and human resource trainer

Muslim societies debate on a plethora of issues, but when the conversations drift to the role of women in Islam, there are fireworks you would never see before. Opinions are sharply divided. As Eileen Collins became the first woman to command the space shuttle, some Muslims were still debating the right of women to drive a car on the road.

Sheikh Nadwi, a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, after a decade-long research wrote a book titled: “Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam.” The motivation behind this project was to seek out the real historical record on women’s place in the Islamic tradition. Comprehending the just nature of Islam, what he discovered hardly comes as a surprise.

The Era of Female Scholarship

Sheikh Nadwi unearths: “Since women today participate so little in the teaching of Ahadeeth and the issuing of Fatwas, there is a wide misconception that historically they have never played this role.”

Some 8,000 biographical accounts of female scholars have been unravelled in his study. Furthermore, Imam Dhahabi’s findings confirm that there have been no fabricators among the female narrators of Ahadeeth. Muslim women carried out the responsibility of preservation and development of Islamic learning since the time of Muhammad (sa).

These women were of high calibre in their intellectual achievements. Some even excelled far beyond their male contemporaries. They were exceptional women, who not only actively participated in the society but essentially reformed it. They were narrators of Hadeeth, teachers of theology, logic, philosophy, calligraphy and many other Islamic crafts.

One might assume that this allowed free-mixing and opened doors to Fitnah. These scholars not only had towering intellectual reputations but also immaculate social statuses. By observing the veil and Islamic mannerisms, they were able to seek and impart knowledge to men with dignity.

Just a Few Noteworthy Names

A prominent name is Aisha Siddiqa (rta), who was directly groomed and guided by our beloved Prophet (sa). Her role and contributions as a scholar of Islam continued long after her husband’s death.

It was Hafsah (rta) to whom the original record of the Quran, as it was revealed, was entrusted on parchments and animal bones. It was due to this preserved record that Caliph Usman (rta) was able to disseminate six standardised versions of the Quran to the major political and cultural centres of his times.

In the eigth century, Fatima Al-Batayahi taught Sahih Al-Bukhari to students in Damascus. During the Hajj, male scholars from far flocked to hear her speak in person.

In the twelfth century, Zainab Binte Kamal is known to have taught more than four hundred books of Hadeeth. She was a natural teacher, exhibiting exceptional patience with her students.

Fatimah Bint Muhammad As-Samarqandi was a jurist, who advised her husband (who happened to be more popular than her) on how to issue Fatwas.

Umm Ad-Darda was a scholar who used to attend discourses in the same Masjid as her male counterparts. She assumed the role of a teacher of Fiqh and Hadeeth and taught men. One of her students was a caliph of Damascus.

How Did They Disappear?

The contributing factors towards gross violations of women today and the disappearance of their intellectual contributions are many. Today, some of us are in complete awe of the Western world and eager to follow their footsteps. But how many of us comprehend that women have always had a problematic position in the Judeo-Christian tradition? The most obvious example is the fall of Adam (as) and Hawa (as) from the Garden of Paradise, for which they bitterly accuse Hawa (as). They squarely place the blame on her and consider the pains of childbirth that every woman bears as atonement for the original sin committed by her.

Until the sixteenth century, Western Europe was debating whether or not women have souls. Should they be given rights equal to men? Finally, women’s equality was established (at least on documents) by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When Western authorities began to colonize Muslim societies, the first step taken was to exclude women from teaching in Masajid and assuming political roles. Thus, the trend began to be implanted by the Western colonizers among Muslim men, who by now were a frail picture of cultural baggage, unaware of their own rich Islamic history.

The gradual retraction of women from the public and scholarship circles eventually happened.

The Reactive Measures

When we began to lose balance between genders in the Muslim world, two extreme corrective measures emerged on the horizon. Muslim feminists threw women forward as a model of gender-less Islam, free from the shackles of male scholarship. They propelled women to become Imams and state leaders, in desperation to find a voice for them.

On the other extreme, countless religious clerics began to perceive women’s rights as an import from the Western culture. Hence, they put up their best defence and locked their women inside, keeping them away from education, work and self-awareness. Thus, there is little that separates some misogynistic Mullahs from progressive feminists. Both are reactions to a crisis of confidence in their own faith.

Throughout Muslim history, women who assumed the roles of leadership in scholarship are the same women who followed male Imams in a Masjid and observed the veil. They were nurturing mothers, comforting companions, inspiring teachers and contributing citizens.

Need of the Hour

We need to understand that the Quran lays down the fundamental equality of men and women. Our Prophet (sa) propagated that there is no difference of worth between the believers on account of their gender.

Relegating women only to the role of a mother and a housewife is a phenomenon that has emerged in the recent years. Consequently, women who have little education and plentiful time indulge in fanning home rifts and viewing substandard TV shows. Others, who have a decent education and privileges, prefer to engage in frivolous pastimes. Learning and dispensing Islamic education is not a prerogative.

Aisha (rta) was the beloved companion of our Prophet (sa) yet, didn’t she lead an army? Umm Salamah (rta) was known for her piety and as an exemplary wife. Didn’t she counsel our Prophet (sa) at the crisis of Hudaibiyah?

I can’t but sadly agree with Sheikh Nadwi’s conclusion that “the irony of our forgotten women scholars is that they spent their lives in the pursuit of historical facts, whereas Muslims have long forgotten the fact of their contribution”.

The Legacy of Sicily

The Legacy of Sicily

By Saulat Pervez – Writer and editor

When we talk of Islam in Europe, we often mention the famous Muslim empire in Spain, also known as Andalus. Lesser known is the fact that Muslims also ruled southern Italy for about two hundred years between the ninth and eleventh centuries.

The Emirate of Sicily, an island off the coast of Italy, was part of the larger Islamic Empire and was governed by a variety of rulers. Sicily prospered during this period in its history. Its population doubled, agriculture and trade flourished, and a spirit of tolerance and harmony existed among its ethnically and religiously diverse population.

Muslims introduced many new crops, such as cotton, hemp, date palm, sugar cane, mulberries and citrus fruits. Related industries grew, such as textiles, sugar, rope-making, matting and paper (which was later introduced to Europe via Sicily). Sicilian silks also became well-known internationally for their fine quality.

Sicily was taken over by the Normans in the late eleventh century, but Muslims continued to live in the multicultural island peacefully. Muslim heritage was preserved by the Normans, so much so that Arabic continued to be the prime language for the next hundred years. Muslim scientists and architects were employed by the royal court. Palermo, the central city in Sicily during Muslim rule, continued to serve as the capital under the Normans.

Along with Spain, Sicily was a major point of contact between Muslims and the rest of Europe. European scholars were attracted by the intellectual culture in Spain and Sicily, and some chose to live there. They would then translate Arabic books into Latin, thereby transferring the rich scholarship of the Muslim world to other parts of Europe. Michael Scot (c. 1175-1232) was one such individual; after spending a considerable time in Spain, he became the librarian for King Frederick II’s vast collection of Arabic works in Sicily.

When Ibn Jubair was shipwrecked on his return from the Hajj in the late twelfth century, he found himself in Sicily. He was very surprised by how warmly the Normans received him. Of Palermo, Ibn Jubair later wrote: “The capital is endowed with two gifts, splendour and wealth. It contains all the real and imagined beauty that anyone could wish. Splendour and grace adorn the piazzas and the countryside; the streets and highways are wide, and the eye is dazzled by the beauty of its situation. It is a city full of marvels, with buildings similar to those of Cordoba, built of limestone. A permanent stream of water from four springs runs through the city. There are so many mosques that they are impossible to count. Most of them also serve as schools. The eye is dazzled by this splendour.”

Unfortunately, this spirit of tolerance and harmony did not last long for Sicilian Muslims; they met a fate similar to the Andalusian Muslims. By the end of the thirteenth century, all the Muslims were evicted from Sicily. However, they left traces of their history behind in the form of Islamic-style architecture, Arabized words in the now-Latinized language, and the Arab-style outdoor marketplace, among others; many of these continue to exist to date.

Above all, the Muslims of Sicily were conduits, who enabled the wider Muslim legacy of the sciences, philosophy, literature and astronomy to be disseminated to Europe as a whole.

The First Task, Before Reading the Quran

The First Task, Before Reading the Quran

By Syed Abul Ala Mawdoodi – Journalist, theologian, Muslim revivalist leader, political philosopher, and Islamic thinker

All kinds of praise are for Allah (swt), Who is the Sustainer of the whole Universe. He is the Only One Who has the right to be worshipped and is the All-Seer and All-Knower of everything we do. We praise and glorify Him, as He should be praised and glorified. We send blessings of Allah (swt) to all His noble messengers, especially the last of them, Muhammad (sa). May Allah’s blessings be upon all of them.

This article is based on an abstract from Tafheem-ul-Quran, a Quranic Tafseer (commentary) written by Syed Abul Ala Mawdoodi. He informs us about the first task which needs to be done before we start learning the word of the Supreme Authority (Allah), the Quran.

He writes:

“There are many people in this world who seek guidance from the Holy Quran for various reasons. Keeping this in view, it is quite impossible to give any opinion about it. I am only interested in those who want to learn the Quran and want to know how this book guides the humankind in their overall life. I want to advise such people about learning the teachings of the Quran and trying to solve certain problems which are faced during the whole experience of interacting with it.

Any one, whether or not he believes in the Quran and who really wants to learn its teachings, the very first thing which is required to be done is to free his mind from any sort of resistance which he might face due to already established beliefs, facts or thoughts and then start reading it with an open mind and heart. People who read this book, keeping in their hearts some specific kind of thoughts and beliefs, keep on reading their own thoughts and beliefs in the lines of the Quran. Due to this, the Quran never exposes itself to them. This way of reading is no doubt the wrong way to read any book. Specifically, the Quran does not open its doors to people who have such an attitude towards it.”

We pray to Allah (swt) that He let us open our hearts and minds before we start reading the Quran.

“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?” (Al-Qamar, 54:22)

Compiled for “Hiba” by Zaki Imtiaz.

No Age for Charity

No Age for Charity

By Naureen Aqueel – Freelance journalist

If you study the lives of great personalities, who have achieved something commendable, you will find a few characteristics that are shared by them all: determination, courage and hard work. Where these traits are present, Allah (swt) extends His help too. There could be no better example than in the case of Major Abbas Ali and his wife Sarwar Jehan Begum, founders of the Muslim Welfare Centre – a couple who defied old age and devoted themselves to provide selfless service to humanity during the ripe years of their lives.

Major Abbas chose to raise funds by charity walks and feats others would only imagine at an age like his. He walked over 10,000 kilometres to support charities in various countries around the world. On April 7, 1985, at the age of 64, on World Health Day, Major Abbas undertook to visit on foot children’s hospitals in the seven emirates of UAE, propagating Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT). He covered 600 km on foot. In 1986, he also participated in the Sports Aid Programme organized by Unicef throughout the world to raise funds for the famine-stricken people of Africa in which he covered 191 km from Dubai to Abu Dhabi on foot.

In 1987, at the age of 66, he walked 2500 km in 90 days through the sandy deserts and camel trails across the Arabian Peninsula to perform Hajj and to collect funds for a charitable hospital in Karachi. He became known as the first man in modern history to walk for the Hajj.

In September 1998, at the age of 77, he sky dived from a height of 10,500 ft to raise funds for the ‘Support a Child, Save the Nation’ welfare project. In 2004, at the age of 82, he walked 100 km from Whitby to Mississauga to raise funds for a Seniors’ Home. His walks earned him the title of the ‘Volunteer Charity Walker from Pakistan’. He would often say “The rich pay Zakat on their wealth, I pay Zakat on my health.”

A retired major from the Pakistan army, Abbas Ali and his wife founded the Muslim Welfare Centre in Toronto in 1993 with the motto “Service to humanity is Service to Allah”. The organization was based in Canada but has operations in Pakistan and other areas of the world.

The Muslim Welfare Centre established a home for needy women and children in 1995. Over 3500 single women and mothers with children, irrespective of their backgrounds, have benefitted from it. The centre also operates four Halal Food Banks and Halal Meals on Wheels food distribution system for the less fortunate from all faiths in Toronto. Over 6500 needy families are helped by this initiative on a monthly basis.

The centre is also operating two schools and two charity clinics in the poor localities of Karachi. Moreover, it provided emergency aid for flood victims in Pakistan and is operating a water exploration project for the impoverished villages in the Thar desert region.

Major Abbas passed away in 2009 while visiting Pakistan to oversee these projects. Since her husband’s demise, Sarwar Jehan Begum has remained in Karachi and is serving as the President of the organization.

Major Abbas received a number of awards during his lifetime and others posthumously. The McLevin Park in Scarborough Canada was renamed to ‘Major Muhammad Abbas Ali Park’. The couple has taught us that if one has determination and will power, there is no age for charity work.

Colours of the Quran

Colours of the Quran

By Sadaf Farooqi

“Nay, indeed it (these Verses of this Quran) is an admonition, so whoever wills, let him pay attention to it.” (Abasa, 80:11-12)

It was during my teens that I picked up a translation of the Quran in my quest for identity. I wanted to know, why I was born, what Allah (swt) required of me in the form of duties and responsibilities, and how I should spend my life, in order to make Him (swt) pleased.

Since then, more than a decade on, this Glorious Book has filled up my life with the most beautiful and vibrant colours, making it resonate with spiritual fulfillment. Here are my top five tips which will help you feel as fulfilled through it.

  1. Recite it and read a translation/exegesis:

Reciting the Quran fills the heart with solace, the soul with peace and the house with blessings. It makes you feel close to Allah (swt) and alleviates grief. Daily recitation of the Quran, especially after Fajr prayer, is the best remedy for keeping oneself on the path of righteousness. Reading is one of the most fulfilling pastimes; one pursued zealously by millions. A good understanding of reality can be obtained, if the Quran is understood by reading its translation and Tafseer by an approved scholar.

  1. Memorize it:

Having Divine words ensconced in your heart enables you to stand in supererogatory prayers at night and feel especially close to Allah (swt), when He (swt) puts the right Surahs in your mind, granting you insight into the reality of the life of this world.

  1. Listen to it attentively:

One can listen to a tape of the Quran – its recitation or explanation by a scholar – whilst in the car or at home. Alternatively, attending a Quranic class is one of the best ways of reflecting upon it by listening to it intently. Any student of Islamic knowledge would testify to the feeling of enlightenment that is gained at a Quranic class.

  1. Act upon it:

The Quran is a book that was sent as a guidance for all mankind; it should be adhered to in the real life. Therefore, we should act upon its commands or, at the very least, intend to act upon them, when pursuing its knowledge.
From fulfilling covenants, taking loans, leaving behind inheritance, social etiquette and Dawah methodology to family ethics and executing criminal justice – the Quran guides us completely how to live life individually and in society.

  1. Teach it to others:

It sounds very fancy to say, “I teach the Quran”, but in reality, propagating the Quran can be as simple as inviting a few sisters over for tea and spending half an hour reading some Surahs. Everyone can then discuss, how to apply what they have learnt to their lives. The point is to open up the Quran for Dawah and reflect upon it on a regular basis. The benefits of teaching it to others outweigh those of reflecting upon it in seclusion. The bond that forms between Muslims on the basis of studying the Quran together is indescribable. It is sincere and unworldly love, solely for the sake of Allah; one that transcends petty motives for gains, and spans entire lifetimes.

The Quran has filled my life with vibrant colours, enriched my soul with its beneficial knowledge, and guided me to feel especially close to Allah (swt), my Creator. Wouldn’t you also want to do the same?

“I Now Pronounce You …”

“I Now Pronounce You …”

By Madiha Nazeer Khan – Freelance writer

The Prophet (sa) said: “When a person gets married, he completes half his Deen.” (At-Tirmidhi)

In today’s age of cultural upheaval and rapidly disappearing moral values, Fitnah is running rampant. Many young Muslims feel they can protect themselves by getting married. However, this is easier said than done. Unrealistic expectations, coupled with the shackles of culture, have turned the search for a potential spouse into a nightmare.

Predominantly young Muslims in the West face a lot of challenges, when they wish to get married. The offspring of Muslim immigrants desire to find spouses with whom they share the same wavelength and who also understand the challenges of maintaining an Islamic identity in a Western society. Muslim converts have an even more difficult time in finding their soul-mates because they usually do not have the support of family and friends. Consequently, they have to rely on unconventional methods to find their other halves.

“As a convert, I really couldn’t go to my parents,” says A, “and because there weren’t any good matches in my circle of friends, I decided to do something I never thought I would – I joined a match-making website.”

This sentiment is echoed by many Muslims in the West. However, utmost precaution must be taken when joining a match-making website. Some of these so-called Halal websites blur the line between the permissible and the prohibited in Islam, and actually encourage behaviour that breaks the boundaries of the Shariah. Following are some of the problems a person may face in match-making websites.

Online Dating

Many matrimonial websites promote public socializing of Muslim men and women – online dating. Some even provide “Dating Safety Tips” for providing ‘a secure environment’. However, one must realize that a prohibited act done in a virtual environment does not make it any less Haram. Islam restricts free-mixing of non-Mahram men and women: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Online dating may lead to actual dates, thus opening a gateway to graver sins. Despite the pure intentions of both parties, achieving Nikah by means of a Haram relationship is wrong.


Many people justify the frequenting of public chat rooms: “How else will we know if we share any interests with the other person?” However, just like dating is prohibited in Islam, the same applies to informal conversations, with the same underlying wisdom behind the restriction.

F. expressed her concern about these websites: “I am registered in matrimonial websites, but I don’t know if the proposals I get are suitable and reliable, as some of them say they want to meet me or ask for my phone number. I feel someone else, who is Mahram, needs to be involved before I start talking to a non-Mahram.”

If direct correspondence is necessary, it should be done with additional precautionary measures. The Wali (guardian) of the lady should be present during the meeting. The meeting, phone call or chat-session should not last too long. The two interested people should speak to each other in a guarded manner, without any flirtatious or informal under-tones.


While we usually associate flirting with specific actions or language, in cyber-space it can includes such applications as ‘hugs’, ‘kisses’, ‘flirts’ or ‘pokes’. Also, such emoticons as ‘winks’ or other smileys are inappropriate with a non-Mahram. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, simply ask yourself, whether you would indulge in such activities in real life. Similarly, if the other party is behaving inappropriately, you have the option to walk away by reporting or blocking that person’s profile.

What to Remember?

§ Be honest: It is inadvisable to give private information right from the beginning. However, one must be honest with personal details at advanced stages when both parties are serious about matrimony.

§ Involve a guardian: Parents or guardians have valuable advice and can help in reaching the correct decisions.

§ Seek a partner in Deen: While age, education or cultural background may seem important in varying degrees, the essential factor is compatibility in religion: “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.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Where to Look?

Sifting through the plethora of matrimonial websites can be a daunting task. However, there are websites that uphold the guidelines of Shariah. is one such website. It is unique because it creates question-based profiles and encourages the involvement of a Wali (guardian). It also does not allow chat rooms.

Another website,, has taken its inspiration from the Quranic verse:

“…Good women are for good men, and good men for good women…” (An-Nur, 24:26) Like, this website is also private and tailored solely for people who are practicing Muslims and serious about marriage. It has very strict codes of conduct and is Wali-friendly.


For Muslims residing in countries with a predominately non-Muslim population, matrimonial websites may be the only way to find spouses. However, one should keep in mind the fine line between the Halal and the Haram, as our actions will be judged by our intentions.

Box Feature:

By Brother Jamshed who recently got married through “Pure Matrimony”

“As Muslims, we seek for marriage other Muslims, but is that really enough? I have tried several websites that cater to Muslims, but I can honestly say they don’t work! They focus on quantity over quality. The sites are flooded with fake profiles, making it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Pure Matrimony is different. Because each candidate is very credible (by virtue of having been checked and vetted), the degree of compatibility rises exponentially. They target practicing Muslims. You’re not sifting through a barrel of rotten apples to find a good one. Although there were lesser profiles, the ratio of compatibility with what I was looking for was exceedingly high.

Pure Matrimony has no bogus profiles, and for the most part, every profile was for someone with a mindset similar to mine. Within the first month of using the website, I met the families of two different sisters. Unfortunately, marriage didn’t happen with either, but that was due to personal issues. At best, any website can only offer to introduce the couples. By ensuring high quality profiles, the introductions were much more feasible and easier to make.

There are no profile pictures on the website – you have to specifically request to see someone’s picture, and they have to grant permission which can be revoked at any time. Also, all correspondence is monitored by a third party, and the sisters can also opt to CC their Wali.

Pure Matrimony has a strong association with Mercy Mission. It is not run by an individual seeking to make a living from it; rather, behind it is a professional organization, which serves the needs of the Ummah. The site has credibility because it is associated with people who are knowledgeable in the matters of Deen. The website is constantly monitored and has the backing of reputable scholars and Sheikhs.

Although Pure Matrimony is not for everyone, it does fulfill the need for practicing Muslims, who can’t rely on conventional methods.”

Summer Survival

Summer Survival

By Umm Zakariya – Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi

“Summer time often becomes a test of endurance rather than a special time to enjoy children,” says P. M. Saeed in her book, “Summer Survival: A Guide for Mothers”. I am sure a lot of us, parents, would agree with her. We all look forward to the summer vacations so that we can enjoy some time with our children. But, as the days go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with the “I’m bored” chants. Eventually, hot, tired and out of ideas, the poor parents concede defeat and allow their children to spend their summer glued to the idiot box!

Here are some ideas to keep your kids occupied this summer and for you to spend some quality time with them as well!

Craft Activities

Creative Salt

Add 5 to 6 drops of colour to a half cup of household salt. Stir well and cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could spread the salt on brown paper and let it air dry. Store it in an airtight container. Use as glitter or to make coloured sand bottles.

Home-made Finger Paint

Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 tsp salt. Add 2 ½ cups of cold water. Stir until smooth. Gradually add this mixture to 2 cups of boiling water. Boil until smooth and thick. Add food colouring and stir until smooth – you’ll have lots of fun finger painting! Remember to wear an apron and use newspapers to avoid any mess.

Paint Rollers

You can use an empty roll-on deodorant bottle and fill it up with paint to make a giant paint pen or use an empty shoe polish bottle to make an excellent sponge painting tool.

Green Man

Take an empty plastic bottle and cut it ten inches from the bottom. Place it in an old sheer pop sock and fill it with soil. Sprinkle rye or coriander seeds on top. Tie the top end of the sock in a knot. Make a face on the outside with old scraps of material. Water it and watch its hair grow through the sock. Remember to keep the Green Man moist.

Bowling Game

Spray paint 1½ litre plastic bottle and put a little sand or water in the bottle to weighh it down to make bowling pins. Use any ball you have at home and see who can get a strike!

Build an Ant Farm

Find a large jar and a small jar that fits inside the bigger one. Place moist dirt and ants in the narrow space between the jars. Cover tightly. Keep soil moist and feed the ants breadcrumbs, dead insects, small pieces of meat or vegetables. Watch them and learn to be industrious.

Rice Art

Draw a simple picture on cardboard. In shallow containers, use food colouring to dye rice to different colours. Dip a toothpick in German glue and then pick up one grain of rice. Dip it in glue again and place the rice grain on the picture. If this sounds too tedious to your child, rice can be stuck in patches by directly applying glue on the picture and sprinkling rice over it. When the picture is completely covered with rice, brush a coat of glue diluted with water over the entire surface.

Crayon Art

Peel broken or old crayons and put their shavings on a piece of paper. Fold the paper in half and place in between a folded newspaper. Now iron on top of the newspaper, keeping the iron setting low. Open the paper slowly to see a colourful surprise! You could also melt broken crayons in an old aluminum pan. Place in the oven for 10-20 minutes at 350 F degrees. Remove, cool and break into pieces to make new multi-coloured crayons.

Tie-and-Dye T-shirts (100% cotton is must)

Gather a small wad of the T-shirt in your hand and tightly wrap a rubber band around the gathered fabric. Repeat the procedure all over the shirt. Now dip the wads in different dyes (easily available from a dyeing shop.) Place in the sun to dry. Snap off the rubber bands and your tie-and-dye shirt is ready.

Family Activities

Summer time increases opportunities for family bonding. Involve fathers in these activities with the children:

Make a family tree. See how far you can trace back your ancestry!

Lay on a blanket in your garden (don’t forget the mosquito repellant!) and watch the stars or guess the shapes the clouds make.

Have a smile contest. See who smiles the most in a week.

Every week, post a brain teaser, riddle or word puzzle in a central place. The first one to give the answer wins a prize.

Have a family car wash day. Take your buckets, sponges and cloths and give your faithful family car a good summer cleaning!

Fly kites together. Try not to get into a tangle!

Field Trips

Have your children write a letter to themselves with their resolutions or goals. Go to the post office and let your children post it to themselves. Talk to the postman and other people to learn how we get mail.

Get together with a few mothers and make a group to visit a factory.

Check newspapers for art exhibitions. This is a good way to develop your children’s interest in different styles, mediums and techniques.

Drive around town or take a walk. See how many kinds of trees are in your area. Collect the leaves and identify them to make a scrapbook

Send the children on an outing with dad. Have them join up with other fathers and their children and go out for lunch.

The Best Witness

best witness

By Abdul Malik Mujahid – General Manager, Darussalam Publishers and Distributors

The following story was narrated by the Prophet (sa) to his companions. It was transmitted to us through a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta), recorded in Sahih Bukhari.

There was once a man in Bani Israel, who requested a fellow Israeli for a loan of one thousand Dinars. The creditor said: “Please bring two or three men with you, who can witness this transaction, and I will give you the loan.” The debtor said: “Allah (swt) is the best witness.” The creditor again said: “At least bring one responsible person, who can give your guarantee.” The debtor said: “Allah (swt) is the best of those who guarantee.” The creditor admitted: “You are right.” Thus, he gave him the loan which was to be returned within a specific period of time.

The debtor went overseas and spent the money on his needs. Thereafter, he started looking for a ship for his return journey. He wanted to return and repay the loan. However, he was unable to find any means of transport.

Finally, he took a piece of wood and made it into a box with a lid. Opening the lid, he kept one thousand Dinars along with a letter. Then, he sealed the box, stood on the shore and said: “O Allah! You know very well that I took a loan of one thousand Dinars from so-and-so. He asked me to bring witnesses or serve a guarantee. But I trusted You as the best witness, and he ultimately agreed with me. You know I have tried very hard to find some means of transport for my return journey, but have been unable to do so. Now, I am entrusting You with this Amanah. Do take it back to him only.”

With these words, the debtor put the box in the sea and saw it being carried away by the waves. Then, he turned back and resumed his search for a ship to take him back.

When the period, for which the loan had been granted was over, the creditor set out towards the sea. He thought the debtor might arrive through a ship or send it through a passenger. Suddenly, he caught sight of a wooden box. He picked it up and took it home, thinking the wood might come useful to light a fire. When he came home and sawed the wood, he saw the letter and the money.

After some time, the debtor came to the creditor with the money (since he didn’t know whether or not he had received the amount sent earlier). He said to the creditor: “By Allah, I was constantly in search for transport so that I could return you your money. However, I could not find any ship in time.”

The creditor asked: “Had you sent anything for me?”

The debtor replied: “That’s what I am trying to explain. I could not find any transport to arrive here on time.”

The creditor then informed him: “Allah (swt) made sure that the money you had returned reached me safely. There is no need to give me these additional one thousand Dinars. You have already repaid your loan.”

Adapted (with permission) from “Sunehray Huroof” published by “Darussalam”. Translated and compiled for “Hiba” by Umm Ibrahim.

Plant for Pakistan

Plant for Pakistan

By Sabina Rizwan Khan – Freelance writer and a certified youth trainer

Let’s make Pakistan green, one plant at a time! This was the spirit showed by a group of enthusiastic students from the University of Karachi, as they planted twenty plants a day within their campus to commemorate the Earth Week. Wearing their newspaper-made badges titled “Plant for Pakistan”, carrying small shovels and buckets of water, they planted plants bought by mutual contribution. Even the scorching heat of April could not prevent them from their mission. And the result was a satisfactory end to the Earth Week.

The Earth Day, which is celebrated on April the 22nd, was found by Gaylord Nelson, an American senator, in order to create awareness about the Earth and our environment. However, later on, many people extended the effort of inspiration to a week, thus called the Earth Week (April 17-23). It is now celebrated in more than 175 countries all over the world.

There was an individual, 1400 years ago, who dwelt amidst the sweltering heat and soft sand dunes, and envisioned a green world. Did you know that the very first “green ambassador” was the Prophet (sa) himself? He said: “Whenever Muslims plant a tree, they will earn the reward of charity because of the food that comes from it, and likewise what is stolen from it, what the wild beasts eat out of it, what the birds eat out of it, and what people take from it is charity for them.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) is also reported to have said: “Muslims will always earn the reward of charity for planting a tree, sowing a crop and then birds, humans, and animals eat from it.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) also said: “If the Hour (the Day of Judgement) came and in the hand of any of you was a Faseelah (a small palm) and he was able to plant it before he stands, let him do so.” (Sahih Bukhari and Ahmad)

Over the years, numerous environmental changes, such as creation of artificial lakes, reduction in the growth of certain crops, floods and changing climatic patterns, have showed how vulnerable Pakistan is towards the climatic changes. The devastation caused by the floods has demonstrated how lethal global warming can be. With very little awareness regarding climatic change and its consequences, it was difficult to address these concrete issues and work towards solutions some years ago.

However, the scenario is now altering, as people, especially youngsters, are taking responsibility and showing interest in environmental issues. Extensive media coverage has made the difference to a larger extent. In 2011, the cities of Pakistan witnessed many awareness campaigns on account of the Earth Week in various schools, colleges and universities. Some offices cut down their energy consumption as well. Many seminars were conducted and forums were held to initiate dialogue on energy conservation, especially in a country that is already suffering from its shortage. From purposeful planting and garbage collection to writing blog posts, a lot of action was observed.

As individuals with access to numerous resources, we can make a greater difference. You can play your part in saving the Earth through the following tips:

1. When television is not being watched, turn it off – don’t leave it on standby.

2. People, especially students and professionals, should re-use their Xerox papers by writing notes on the backsides.

3. Instead of using new wrapping paper, use newspaper and magazines for wrapping gifts – collage work will give it a personalized touch.

4. While cooking, keep all pots and pans covered. This will trim the energy expenditure by almost 90 percent.

5. Reuse plastic bags as much as possible. Also, try to use cloth bags for shopping, as plastic bags’ manufacturing discharges an enormous amount of carbon into the atmosphere.

6. If nobody is in a room, turn off the lights, fan and air conditioner.

7. Unplug your cell-phone charger from the socket when it is not being used.

8. Visit your nearby friends by walking or riding a bicycle – this will help cut down the carbon emission in greater amounts.

9. Do carpooling when going to offices or institutions. This is not only environment friendly but also cost effective.

10. Always ensure to run the washing machine with a full load of laundry to save electricity.

11. Keep your food covered in the refrigerator. This stops moisture from escaping and thus, prevents excessive burden on the compressor.

12. Keep your surroundings green. Organize planting campaigns in your campuses and localities not only in the Earth Week but throughout the year.

13. Raise funds for family parks (new and old).

14. Help children create their own nature pond by filling small inflated pools or pottery pots with water and aqua plants. This can be left in the gardens for dragon flies, frogs and other insects to visit and live in as a natural habitat.

15. We can sift our wet garbage from paper, plastic and glass to facilitate recycling. This initiative has been taken by most of the developed countries and has helped them conserve resources tremendously.

Fact File

If insects vanish from this Earth, all forms of life will end in the proceeding 50 years. If humans perish from this Earth, all other forms of life will flourish. As a vicegerent of Allah (swt), we need to restore the damage inflicted by us and rebuild habitats for all other living creatures.

Less than 4% of land in Pakistan is covered with forests.

According to the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, as of December 2008, Pakistan has the world’s highest number of vehicles running on compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The number is 2 million. Pakistan also has the world’s highest number of CNG refuelling stations – 2941(updated July 29, 2009). CNG is less polluting than petrol.