Be Concerned About Others

Be Concerned About Others

By Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Al-Arifi – A prominent figure in the field of Dawah and author of more than twenty published works

People usually like to be valued. This is why we sometimes see individuals acting in a certain manner in order to attract attention.

Imagine this: a person returns home form work, tired. He enters his living room and finds his four children sitting. One is watching television; the other is having his dinner; the third is playing with his toys, while the fourth is doing his homework. The father greets them enthusiastically: “Assalam ualaikum!” The first three children remain engrossed with whatever they are doing, and simply mumble an inaudible reply. The fourth one, however, stands up, rushes to his father, kisses his hand and greets him warmly.

Which of the four children do you think will be the most beloved to their father? I am certain it will be the fourth one. This would not be because he is the most intelligent or the most handsome. It would only be because he showed his father that he valued him. Hence, the more you care for others, the greater their love and respect will be for you.

Here is another example: suppose a person enters a gathering and does not find a place to sit. Someone maneuvers a little, offers him a place and says pleasantly: “Please come here and sit.” The newcomer will immediately appreciate this gesture of concern from a stranger and warm up to him.

The Prophet (sa) would give utmost importance to this. While he was delivering a sermon from his pulpit one Friday, suddenly, a Bedouin entered the mosque, walked through the rows, looked at the Messenger of Allah (sa) and said in a loud voice: “O Messenger of Allah, I am a person who does not know what his religion is. Teach me what my religion is!”

The Prophet (sa) descended from his pulpit and turned to the man. He asked for a chair, sat on it and began to speak to the man and explain to him his religion, until he understood. He then resumed his sermon.

Who knows, if the Prophet (sa) had ignored the man, he may have remained ignorant about to his religion, until he died.

If we were to learn about the Prophet’s (sa) character, we would find that when he would shake someone’s hand, he wouldn’t withdraw his until the other person withdrew it first. If a person spoke to him, he would completely turn towards him, meaning that he would turn his face and body towards him, in order to listen with full attention.

The Prophet (sa) would also make everyone feel as if their issue was, in fact, his own problem, and that their worry was his personal worry. Since he also educated the Companions, they would also show concern for others, be approachable and share with them their moments of grief and happiness.

Experience tells us that whenever you show people that you value and care for them, you capture their hearts and are thus, endeared to them.

Adapted (with permission) from “Enjoy Your Life” published by “Darussalam”. Compiled for hiba by Bisma Ishtiaq.

Pro-activity = A Peaceful Marriage


By Umm Isam – Writer and human resource trainer

A world famous business and family consultant was in the middle of an important meeting and things were running behind schedule. He received a note from his wife that she needed to speak to him urgently. The counsellor stepped out to take the call. His wife impatiently reminded him that they had invited guests that evening and that she needed him to be home on time.

The counsellor, already facing a tough day at work, gave into the pressure of the moment and rudely told her off. While he was walking back to the boardroom, he realized his mistake. But the curt words had already been spoken and the relationship was stressed.

He tried to wrap up what he could and hit the road to reach home. In the privacy of his car, he stepped back to observe his behaviour without being defensive. As he stood apart from his own life, and replayed the conversation in his mind, he realized he had been wrong. He understood his mistake and prepared himself to make necessary changes and improvements.

He realized his wife had only made a reasonable demand, as she was in a tough social situation. Expectations had been created, and he wasn’t there to help fulfill them. Instead of understanding, he had reacted abruptly.

The more he thought about it, the more he realized that his actions had been off track. This was not the kind of relationship he wanted with his wife. Then, he began to think of what he wanted out of their relationship. It was care, empathy, love and patience. If he wouldn’t have been sucked into his worry for work and would have responded to his wife with more consideration, the results of the incident would have been completely different. As he reached home, his irritation had disappeared. The counsellor didn’t think of his work worries, but about his wife only. His heart was filled with feelings of love and understanding. He immediately apologized to his wife. She reciprocated. The closeness and warmth of their relationship was restored. And they enjoyed a lovely evening together.

Isn’t this a very common pitfall for all of us in our family life experiences? Whenever we are caught in the heat of the moment, we almost instantly explode, instead of responding on the basis of our deepest values. The counsellor suggested that “what we all need is the pause button – something that enables us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it, and to choose our own response”.

As individuals, we have the capacity to develop this ‘pause’ button. It can be done by acting pro-actively, using the ability to act on principles and values, rather than reacting upon emotions or circumstances. The four unique gifts that Allah (swt) bestowed upon all the human beings are: self-awareness, conscience, imagination and will power. These are the gifts that we saw the counsellor apply in his example, too.

Initially, it may take time to develop them and undo the habit of reacting. With time, with conscious effort and constant reminder to oneself, spouse and family, it can be possible to control one’s angry thoughts and choose a more decent response.

These gifts can be developed and used over time to improve the quality of family relationships. The counsellor suggests that some families should even determine a signal to help them cut through or prevent angry responses.

Just as the heat is turned on and an argument is imminent, we can say a chosen phrase or word out loud, switch the lights on and off, gesture a thumbs down with our hand. This could compel all to stop and disengage immediately.

As Muslims, for us, the best guidance comes from the Prophet (sa), who advises us to either recite ‘Aoodhu Billahi min As-Shaitan nir Rajeem’ or hasten to change our position, or get a glass of water or proceed to perform Wudhu. This space gives us time to get a grip on ourselves and understand the circumstances better in the privacy of our thoughts before we respond negatively.

It is said: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”

The marriage counsellor went on to describe how this one paragraph has been so compelling, so memorable and so staggering that it has influenced the rest of his life. In his own words: “I cannot begin to describe the effect that idea had on me. I was overwhelmed by it. I reflected on it again. I revelled in the freedom of it. I personalized it. The more I pondered over it, the more I realized that I could choose responses that would affect the stimulus itself.”

Animals have no space between stimulus and response. They are totally a product of their natural instincts. We need to understand this difference very carefully and behave in a manner that befits Allah’s (swt) best creations in the world – us. May Allah (swt) grant us the strength to be pro-active and help our spouse and families imbibe it, too. Ameen.



By Suleman Ahmer – CEO and the Lead Facilitator of “Timelenders”, a management consulting and training firm

Two weeks ago, I was in a TB sanatorium for orphans at Kofar Nihon, a small town ten miles from Dushanbe, the capital of war-ravaged Tajikistan. As I entered one of the wards, Sham-e-Gul dragged herself to the corner of the bed and sat up. Like many others around her, TB had wasted her legs. I found her in pain and with no relatives at her side to console her. Her brother used to visit her twice a month. Sham-e-Gul was only six years old.

The staff and the children of the sanatorium were Sham-e-Gul’s family. She missed Daulat Shah, another six-year-old, who was sent home when some relatives visited a few weeks ago. “There is nothing more we could have done for Daulat Shah,” said Dr. Nazir Rahimov. “We figured at least he would have a home and hopefully adequate food in his last days.” Sham-e-Gul was not told why Daulat Shah had left suddenly. She was too young to understand.

During the Soviet era, orphans who had TB were admitted to the sanatorium. When the war broke out, Kofar Nihon came under heavy fighting. People fled the area, leaving a skeleton staff that battled to keep the damaged facility running. With no electricity and an acute shortage of medicine, food and money, the orphans had nowhere to go. The sanatorium became a death trap, as the symptoms of TB grew worse. Soon, the children started dying. I found thirty-two children there, between the ages of six and fifteen. Most had been there for the last five years and many with advanced TB.

The four long years that BIF (Benevolence International Foundation) had worked with the Tajik refugees in northern Afghanistan came to an end in the summer of 1997. By the Grace of Allah (swt), the Communist regime in Tajikistan gave in and signed a peace agreement with the Muslim opposition, ending more than four years of bitter conflict. This was a great victory for the Muslims as they now controlled around fifty percent of the territory and were partners in the newly-formed coalition government.

The Tajik refugees from the neighbouring countries had returned to their homes with dignity. Now we could concentrate on projects in Tajikistan that badly needed our assistance like the sanatorium in Kofar Nihon. With the blessings of Allah (swt) and Muslims, we were determined to turn things around in Kofar Nihon. We could, Insha’Allah, initiate surgeries, which were long overdue, provide proper medicine, food and hygiene, fix the building and heating and provide decent salaries for the staff. For Daulat Shah we were too late, but for the remaining thirty-two children, we still had time.

As I was leaving, I gave my pen to Sham-e-Gul to cheer her up. This was the least I could have done. She had smiled and the thought of it still warms my heart. With the pen, I also gave her a silent promise that I would leave no stone unturned to see that she and the other children got a decent chance at life.

Eleven months later…

As I approached her bed, Sham-e-Gul woke up and squinted – it was a bright day and sunlight was streaming into the ward form the large windows. The startled look in her eyes slowly changed to recognition.

I had first met her in Kofar Nihon, a village fifteen miles from Dushanbe, almost a year ago. She was the youngest of thirty-two children with advanced TB in a war-damaged hospital. With no electricity for seven years, no heating, shortage of staff, food and medicine, the children – many of them orphans with no place to go – had started to die. I had given her my pen with a promise that I would leave no stone unturned to see that she and the other children got a decent chance at life.

Now, eleven long months later, I looked around the brightly-lit ward of neatly lined beds with clean linen. I could smell the freshly painted walls. Fifteen children slept peacefully. Now there is no shortage of food or medicine. The repair on the wrecked heating system has started, which means heating for the hospital for the first time in five years. I could hear the clamour of the workers repairing the remaining part of the hospital.

It had been a struggle. Within a month of my return from the last trip, we had moved our staff from Afghanistan to Tajikistan and recruited new officers, including Dr. Nazr-ul-Islam, a surgeon from England. With Kofar Nihon continually under heavy fighting, we shifted our focus to a similarly neglected hospital in relatively safe Dushanbe – only to find what relative safety meant when one of our officers was shot and killed. We decided not to give up.

Taking the hospital from the Ministry of Health, we started the repairs. BIF started to provide food, medicine, lab facilities, salaries and the operating costs. We served fifty-two children with TB between the ages of three to fourteen years.

I asked Sham-e-Gul about the pen that I had given her. She broke into an embarrassed laughter: she had lost it.

By the grace of Allah (swt) – and to the astonishment of the doctors – she recovered from her paralyses. I believe it had more to do with the prayers of the Muslims, who had come to know her, than medicine. I asked her if she could walk for me. When she nodded, I helped her out of bed. She hesitantly took the first step and slowly walked the length of the room.

I handed her the picture that I had taken with her the previous year. She held it in both her hands for a few moments, then looked up and studied my face carefully, as if confirming whether I was indeed the same person. She said she wanted to keep the picture and asked me not to leave. I was saddened as I didn’t know where her parents were or whether they were alive. I promised her that I would come again.

I walked out with tears of gratitude to Allah (swt) and the Muslims who, by their generosity, helped me fulfill a promise made in a far-away, war-ravaged land to a seven-year-old ill girl – Sham-e-Gul.

Adapted (with permission) from “The Embattled Innocence.” Compiled for “Hiba” by Laila Brence.