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.

Chatting

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.

Flirting

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.

Halfourdeen.com 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, Purematrimony.com, 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 Halfourdeen.com, 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.

Conclusion

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.