Da’wah Books

dawah

Amid the hustle and bustle of Khadda Market’s attractions, some novel and some trivial, there lies a small, cosy outlet. It holds treasures for the intellectual, passionate and eager readers of all ages.

Established in June 2008, Da’wah Books is an independent, non-profit initiative that aims to facilitate the propagation of authentic Islamic knowledge – that, which has a clear basis (Daleel) in the Quran and Sahih Ahadeeth. It is not affiliated with any political or religious group.

The bookstore was inspired by the last sermon (Khutbah) of Prophet Muhammad (sa), delivered on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah, 10 AH (623 AD):

“I leave behind me two things, the Quran and the Sunnah, and if you follow these, you will never go astray. All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listened to me directly.”

The vision of Da’wah Books is to collect Islamic literature from all over the world that is firmly grounded in the Quran and Sahih Ahadeeth and make it conveniently available locally. The bookstore currently stocks authentic Islamic books from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India, UAE, UK, Canada and the USA.

Da’wah Books identifies itself as a service, rather than a business. Its caretakers strive for excellence, honesty and good Akhlaq, being conscious that they are not brand ambassadors for Da’wah Books alone, but that they represent Islam itself. They measure the success of the store not in terms of profit, but in terms of the number of people who benefit from it.

The place is not a typically over-crowded bookshop. Rather, it has a warm and comfortable environment, where one can spend time, relax and explore the selection of books. It has been identified on “karachisnob.com” as one of the must-visit bookstores in Karachi.

Da’wah Books has only one location and no other branches.

Visit Da’wah Books. Insha’Allah, you will enjoy it.

Da’wah Books can be reached at dawahbooks@gmail.com or (021) 3534-2335

The Wayfarer

Jul 10 - The Wayfarer

Maryam Sakeenah pays a humble tribute to Dr. Israr Ahmed.

As I walked through the dust and heat, threading my way through the throng of unfamiliar faces, I felt an indescribable kinship, an invisible bond that linked me to the faces I walked among. We were drawn towards the same – a personage, a symbol, a phenomenon, an institution, an era and a life larger than life. I was a nobody among the crowd, one among many – and yet I felt I needed to be there, to draw in the moment, to feel the meaning in the cool shade of the towering white minaret and the gentle wind’s whisper, to see it writ large, to savour blessedness and to understand what it meant to truly live, and to live well. That was one of the many realizations the departure of Dr. Israr Ahmed brought home to me. As I looked around at the silent, sombre crowd I felt we were all suddenly bereft, forlorn and derelict. There was a huge, gaping void that would take decades, perhaps centuries to fill.

He was rare – not just as a scholar, but as a person too. A family member tearfully confided in me how he had been the unifying factor, helping resolve differences, sorting things out, solving problems and strengthening ties; how he had been the advisor, guide, patron, father figure, guardian, comforter and confidante.

There were tearful eyes; one of them a friend’s, who reminisced of her time at the Quran Academy as a student. She said it had only struck her now that the personal revolution that had given her an entirely new orientation had been just one of the many, many transforming experiences thousands like her had undergone, made possible by the conviction and endeavour of a single ‘possessed’ man – a man obsessed with a Single Idea. I had never before understood with such crystal clarity the meaning of ‘Sadaqah-e-Jariya.’

In one of his interviews, Dr. Israr Ahmed, in his candid demeanour, had said he didn’t think he had been successful in any significant measure, except perhaps that his work had helped create religious awareness and inclination among the country’s educated middle class.

Understated indeed, considering the enormity and significance of the task. His tireless mission spanned decades, and his tenacity in pursuing the goal he believed in with all his soul was commendable. The depth of his knowledge and insight had been garnered over years of painstaking, unaided personal effort. The maturity of his seasoned vision, the sense of balance and the conviction in the face of formidable odds were a rare combination. His passion for the cause he held dear and strove tirelessly for was powerful and moving. He dreamt alone, and dared to act it out. He was thoroughly immersed in the Quran, thoroughly in love with it. You couldn’t doubt the love, it was so there. He had its glow on his face, its brilliance in his eyes, and its ring in his voice.

As I stepped into the place where he had lived for years, I was instantly struck by the simplicity, as it was so utterly shorn of any semblance of comfort and luxury. ‘Live in this world as a stranger or a wayfarer.’ The Wayfarer had lived it out, eyes firmly fixed on the greater beyond, and moved on.

His last Friday lecture, barely days before his passing away, was about the meaning of Shukr – gratitude to Allah I – for being chosen to discover and share and disseminate; for the man that he was, and for the legacy he left. In this last lecture, he mentioned at length the blessings awaiting the believers in Al-Firdous. Only on receiving that true and lasting reward would the actual meaning of ‘Alhumdulillah’ be experienced in its totality.

Alhumdulillah for your being there. Alhumdulillah for passing it on.

In class, when I shared the news with the students, I could not at first explain to myself the calm that suddenly overwhelmed me, perhaps out of a sense of comfort in the hope that he would be in that Happier Place. A student wrote of him, “I would go to Jannah and meet him there Insha’Allah. I would shake hands with him. I always wanted to do that but he has died, you know, so I can’t. But in Jannah, I shall shake his hands and he will smile and say, ‘My son, I am so proud of you.'”

The Dream lives on, beckoning us.

Cleansing our Interiors

Jul 10 - Cleansing our interiors

By Darakhshan Siddiqui

It is a beautiful spring morning. Javeria Sumbul, a homemaker, is on her wit’s end. Her elder daughter and son-in-law are coming over for dinner, and Javeria wants to make sure that her house is spick and span. Her younger daughters are extremely grumpy, as they know what their brother-in-law’s visit entails. Javeria is issuing instructions at top speed, and her daughters are running around, dusting, sweeping and de-cluttering the rooms. Javeria herself is taking out her best dinner set and aims to wash it herself, not trusting the maid to do so, lest she breaks even one piece and spoils the whole set.

By the time the family arrives, the house is sparkling clean, the furniture is glowing and the crockery is set out. As the elder daughter arrives, she is quickly surrounded by her mother and sisters, all eager to hear the latest goings-on at her in-laws. The son-in-law is happily sharing his office grievances with his all-ears father-in-law.

What an irony! A house is wiped clean of the last speck of dust. But the inmates either forgot or ignored to purify their hearts and souls along with it.

Islam stresses a lot on cleanliness and provides complete details regarding Taharah. Yet, at the same time, it equally emphasizes on inner cleanliness.

Our heart is also like a home, and it also needs to be purified, reflecting a warm, pleasing personality and portraying the true values of a Muslim identity.

A patient, kindhearted and knowledgeable person, who understands the importance of the relationship of one Muslim with another and is well aware of the modern-day challenges, is not only respected by his/ her family, but also has a wider horizon of relationships that are strengthened by his/her strong bond with Allah (swt) and the love of the Prophet (sa).

His simple living standard does not matter. His glow of Iman always keeps him at peace. Such is the hidden and beautiful power of Iman, which also needs constant nourishment and has to be protected against temptations of evil forces. A famous scholar once said that we should keep our thoughts as clean and pure as water, because our thoughts build our Iman, just as the drops of water make a river.

How many of us feel that our hearts are being polluted when we are thoroughly engrossed in backbiting, lying, taunting and committing other atrocities of the tongue?

By focusing more on these real issues, we will not be psychologically or emotionally disturbed if we are not able to maintain our predetermined criterion of outer cleanliness. We will not have heated arguments with anybody. I request you to recondition your Iman and purify your hearts through Dhikr. May Allah (swt) enable us to nourish our souls through our Prophet’s (sa) best teachings, Ameen.

Taharah – Half of Faith

Clean water and water bubbles

By Hafsa Ahsan and Naba Basar                                                             

We live in a world which gives us mixed messages regarding cleanliness (Taharah). On the one hand, Islam lays great emphasis on cleanliness and encourages oneself to stay clean at all times. On the other hand, the mass media encourages our children to get as dirty as they want. Washing one’s hands is recommended only when selling a certain brand of antiseptic soap. So, what guidance do we derive from the Quran and Sunnah regarding Taharah?

Importance of Taharah

Taharah has been greatly emphasized upon by Allah (swt) in the Quran.

“Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:222)

Types of Impurities

Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Approach not Salah (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter, nor when you are in a state of Janabah, (i.e. in a state of sexual impurity and have not yet taken a bath) except when travelling on the road (without enough water, or just passing through a mosque), till you wash your whole body.” (An-Nisa 4:43)

Impurity may be categorized as ritual impurity (Hadath) and physical impurity (Khabath). A person attains ritual impurity when something comes out of the anus (feces or wind) or the frontal private area (urine or prostatic fluid), or when a person vomits. If a person enters this state, he must abstain from prayers, until he departs from this state. Wudhu would be enough for purification.

Physical impurity, on the other hand, is the impurity of physical substances, which include menstrual blood, urine, feces, pork, canine saliva and vomit. These impurities must be removed from whatever they contaminate (such as the person’s skin, clothing or prayer rug); otherwise, the prayer will not be valid. If you come in contact with any of these impurities, then they must be washed, since it’s a matter of basic cleanliness.

Significantly, if an impurity is invisible or does not smell, it does not affect a person’s worship. Such trivial amounts are unavoidable and are forgiven under Islamic law.

Wudhu

Taharah must precede Salah. One has to be in a state of purity, plus one’s clothes and the place where Salah will be offered, must be clean as well. Wudhu is an essential pre-requisite of Salah, without which one’s Salah is not accepted. The procedure of Wudhu has been described in the Quran as follows:

“O you who believe! When you intend to offer Salah (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba (i.e. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse) and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His favour on you that you may be thankful.” (Al-Maidah 5:6)

Humran (the freed slave of Uthman Ibn Affan (rta)) narrated: I saw Uthman Ibn Affan (rta)asking (for a tumbler of water) to perform ablution (and when it was brought) he poured water from it over his hands and washed them thrice and then put his right hand in the water container and rinsed his mouth and washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out. Then he washed his face thrice and (then) forearms up to the elbows thrice, then passed his wet hands over his head and then washed each foot thrice. After that Uthman (rta) said, “I saw the Prophet performing ablution like this of mine, and he said, ‘If anyone performs ablution like that of mine and offers a two-Rakah prayer, during which he does not think of anything else, then his past sins will be forgiven.’ (Bukhari)

The Fard (obligatory) actions of Wudhu are:

1)        washing the face,

2)        washing both arms, including the elbows;,

3)        performing Masah of one fourth of the head,

4)        washing both the feet, including the ankles.

It’s not sufficient to pass a wet hand over the feet or shoes. However, certain conditions make an allowance for Masah to be done over certain types of socks.

Wudhu has a great psychological impact on the one performing it. If performed properly, it not only washes away one’s sins, but also cools down parts of the body. Dr. Ghulam Mustafa Khan in his booklet “Personal Hygiene in Islam” states: “The psychological advantages derived from performing Wudhu are clearly evident in the Prophet’s (sa) advice to perform Wudhu when we are overpowered by anger. The psychological changes, brought about by the physical act (of Wudhu), may be compared to a cold sponging of the body to reduce convulsions due to high temperature. In addition to the physical removal of a person from the arena of arguments, all parts of the body instrumental in the expression of anger – the hands, tongue, eyes and teeth – are cooled down and so are the brain centres controlling these parts.”

Tayammum

If water is not available, then Tayammum is one of the options to be availed. Allah (swt) says: “…And if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no water, perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands (Tayammum). Truly, Allah is Ever Oft­ Pardoning, Oft ­Forgiving.” (An-Nisa 4:43)

Tayammum (dry ablution) can be done as follows:

1)      Make the Niyyah (intention) to perform ablution.

2)      Strike the soil/earth with your hands and wipe your face.

3)      Then, wipe your hands up to the wrists. Wipe the right hand first, followed by the left.

In Fiqh-us-Sunnah, the following scenarios have been detailed, which make Tayammum inevitable:

1)      Total non-availability of water.

2)      The amount of water available is insufficient for ablution.

3)      One is ill or injured and cannot use water.

4)      The water is too cold to be used.

5)      It is dangerous to fetch water from a nearby source.

6)      Water has to be saved for things like cooking.

7)      Water is too far away to fetch in time for prayer.

Ghusl

A Ghusl must be performed after completing the monthly period, after ejaculation, after post natal bleeding (Nifas) or after sexual intercourse. It is preferable, but not compulsory, to perform Ghusl in the manner that the Prophet (sa) performed it.

In such cases, you should begin with washing your private parts. The intention is to make sure that pure water reaches every part of your body. However, if you pass wind during the cleansing procedure your Ghusl is still valid, but you will have to perform a separate Wudhu. The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not break off from your prayer, unless you hear or smell the passage of gas.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ghusl is not compulsory in case of medical/vaginal check-up or ultrasound.

Ghusl-e-Janabah

Ghusl after sexual intercourse is obligatory, even if no discharge took place. Noticing wetness on waking up as a result of Ihtilaam (wet dream) necessitates a Ghusl. However, if upon waking from a wet dream, a person does not see any trace of sexual emission on his clothes or his body, he does not have to perform Ghusl.

Aisha (rta) said: “Someone asked the Prophet (sa) about a man seeing himself discharging in his dream though he does not feel wet. The Prophet (sa) said: ‘He does not have to bathe.’ Umm Salamah (rta) asked: ‘What about women, O Messenger of Allah?’ He (sa) said: ‘Women are the full sisters of men.’” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

In another Hadeeth, the Prophet (sa) confirmed that a woman had to perform Ghusl: “… if she sees the liquid.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Some people came to the Prophet (sa) and asked him about Ghusl after sexual intercourse. They told him that they live in a cold place. The Prophet (sa) told them: “It would be enough for the one of you to pour water over his head three times.” In another narration, he said: “For me, I pour water over my head thrice.” (Muslim) This indicates that performing Ghusl accordingly is sufficient to attain purification and no Wudhu is required. But one should bear in mind that rinsing the mouth and cleaning the nose by inhaling and exhaling water is essential.

Sunnah method of performing Ghusl-e-Janabah, as extracted from Bukhari and Muslim, is as follows:

  • Wash hands. With right hand, pour water on left.
  • Wash private parts.
  • Do Wudhu.
  • Wet scalp with fingers (run fingers through hair, so as to wet scalp).
  • Pour three handfuls of water on head.
  • Wash whole body (with or without soap), beginning with the right side and then the left.
  • Wash feet in the end.

It is Sunnah to perform Wudhu before bathing.

It was related by the mother of believers, Umm Salamah (rta), that she asked the Prophet (sa) about a woman’s Ghusl. The Prophet (sa) told her: “If a woman is performing Ghusl after having sexual intercourse, then there is no need for her to unbraid her hair. It is sufficient that she pours water over her head three times. But, when she is performing Ghusl after completing her menstrual period, then she has to unbraid her hair.” (Muslim)

Vaginal Discharge (Fatwah by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qasim)

Any discharge which comes from the vagina, emanating from the birth canal, is pure. It requires neither a ritual bath, nor Wudhu, nor the washing of affected clothing. The reason for this is the absence of any textual evidence that indicates the impurity of this discharge or that it invalidates a woman’s Wudhu.

This is very pertinent, especially since this discharge is something that affects all women, from the time of the Prophet (sa) to date. If it had been impure or if it had nullified Wudhu, this would have been clarified by the Lawgiver.

Also, this discharge is not a waste product – like urine and feces, which are the waste products of our food and drink. It is a natural emanation from the womb. This is why it increases with pregnancy, especially during certain months.

Umm Atiyyah (rta) said: “We did not regard yellowish and brownish discharge after Tuhr (becoming pure) as being of any significance.” (Bukhari and Abu Dawood)

General Hygiene

Taharah is not restricted just to Wudhu and Ghusl, as one may believe. A Mumin must strive to attain Taharah in all parts of life. Some basic practices include the following:

1)      Shaving the pubic hair.

2)      Cutting the nails of fingers and toes.

3)      Doing Ghusl, especially on Fridays.

4)      Washing hands, cleaning the nose and rinsing the mouth, after waking up.

5)      Washing hands, before and after every meal.

6)      Cleaning the teeth and rinsing the mouth, after every meal.

7)      Regularly using Miswak.

8)      Washing hands regularly with soap and water.

Conclusion

As one can imagine, Taharah or cleanliness in Islam is not to be taken lightly. All the instructions, which come to us from the Quran and Sunnah, clearly show that Taharah is something that every Mumin has to implement in one’s life consciously. It is the level of importance attached to it that makes it half of one’s Deen.

Towards a Commendable Character

character fair

By Ayesha Khatib

To instill the importance of an upright character in young believers, Star Links School organized a three-day Character Fair in the month of April. It was an effort to make students study, analyze and internalize the character traits, which our role model Rasoolullah (sa) and his companions possessed.

Varied aspects of an ideal Muslim character were taken up by all the three campuses of the school. Children at the Pre-Primary Campus presented Ahadeeth, rhymes and role plays on thankfulness, cooking up good manners, keeping the planet clean, discipline in nature, importance of Sadaqah and sharing to name a few. Prophet’s (sa) favourite food pushcart was decorated in one of the projects, where children as vendors narrated the benefits of having a diet based on the Sunnah.

Students in the primary classes showcased their Quran based projects on honesty, kindness, patience, anger management, cleanliness and character. However, the senior classes took up more imperative traits which they, as Muslim youth, must adopt conscientiously. The project “Lulu-el-Maknoon” exhibited the importance of being modest in everything from speech to your attire, “Unity – The Sure Cure” highlighted the essentiality of unity for progress, the “Dynamic Discipline Doctrines” discussed, how discipline can achieve greatness, the project “Mard-e-Mumin” traced an ideal Muslim character through Iqbal’s philosophy and poetry and the leadership project named “Lead without Title” revealed, what it means to be a Khalifah on earth.

Flowers of Islam, the in-house publishing setup of Star Links School, specially designed and displayed a number of products to promote good character in Muslim youth. It included character calendar, posters, mugs, T-shirts, stickers, bookmarks and folders.

Star Links School plans to organize an inter-school Character Fair 2011. It has invited other schools to join hands in pursuing this cause of inculcating traits of a strong character in Muslim youth, which is a dire need of the society today.

Don’t Confuse Liberal with Tolerant!

Jul 10 - Don't confuse liberal with tolerant

By J. Samia Mair

It’s a beautiful, sunny and crisp fall day. My twin daughters and I are meeting two of my friends and their girls at a local farm for a hay ride, corn maze and whatever else the farm offers. My girls and I arrive first. They jump out of the minivan and run to the entrance.

We decide to wait for our friends inside. I pay, we enter and then I notice something very odd. I am the lone visible Muslim (I wear a Hijab) in an otherwise orthodox Jewish crowd. Needless to say, I stand out and am drawing some attention. My girls, however, run off to play in an enormous tractor tire filled with dried corn.

Finally, after what seems like a very long time, our friends arrive. One of my friends is Jewish and she has a big smile on her face as she approaches. As it turns out, the farm is having a fundraiser for a local synagogue. She whispers to me that she really dislikes this synagogue because they are “militant and hate everybody”. “Me, for instance?” I ask. “You in particular,” she replies. “So, I am probably not welcome here?” “I suspect not at all!”

She begins a small, quiet tirade about this group’s reputation for widespread intolerance. She confesses that it pleases her tremendously that my presence is likely to disturb their otherwise beautiful day. I look to our other friend, who is a Catholic, and gauge her opinion on the situation and whether it is prudent to stay. She says: “Don’t ask me; I don’t know anything about this stuff.” Before the adults decide what to do, our four girls run by us, screaming and holding hands – they are heading straight towards the unsuspecting sheep. Issue resolved. We are clearly staying.

We proceed to follow our girls around the farm from one activity to the next. To my surprise, I find myself engaging in typical, friendly conversation with the other parents. It occurs to me once again – I must stop confusing liberal with tolerant.

In fact, my friends, who embraced my conversion to Islam the most, are my practicing Catholic friends – the very ones, whom I was most reluctant to tell. They were simply happy for me that I had found spirituality and God.

By contrast, many of my friends and colleagues, who I thought would be fairly indifferent to my conversion, actually had some strong, negative opinions on the matter. At the time, I was working in a research university on the East Coast – very liberal, very progressive and, oh yes as it turns out, selectively intolerant. I recall that it was completely inappropriate to belittle anyone, except for three special categories: republicans, ‘hicks’ (country folk) and religious people.

I remember a comment my boss made to me, when I had complained about a computer programme that our team used. “Stop your Jihad against WordPerfect!” he warned me. Legally actionable – I doubt it. Poor taste – unquestionably.

Of course, I would be as narrow-minded as those whom I accuse of narrow-mindedness, if I made a sweeping statement that all liberals are intolerant of religion. I do know self-described liberals, who are not openly hostile to religion, and even a few, who are devout. But my anecdotal, unscientific observations have led me to the conclusion that liberal and tolerant are not synonyms, and I should never assume that a person’s political and social bent will predict his or her outlook on Islam or Muslims.

What perplexes me still, though, is how my belief in Allah (swt) I actually engender disdain in so many people, a significant portion of whom are the champions of the oppressed and disenfranchised. I want to tell them: “Forget about protecting freedom of speech, if you suffocate freedom of thought.”

My experience in this regard has also revealed to me that I suffer from the same narrow-mindedness. I should have known not to ‘judge a book by its cover’ or, in this case, a man by his side locks.

I remind myself of the perfect words of Allah (swt): “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” (Al-Hujurat 49:13) My friend turns to me and says: “You’re like a peacemaker, making friends everywhere you go. That’s what we need to end this craziness – one person talking to another person, one on one. It should be as simple as that.” If only it were – if only it could be.

Is Dirt Good?

Jul 10 - Is dirt good

‘Dirt is good’ is a popular slogan of a well-known brand these days. How bad the impact is on young minds is not a cause of concern to the television channels. The media is reinforcing the message that children who, due to their carelessness, get their clothes dirty must not feel guilty about it, because if they do, they will never learn. How ironic the statement seems? Dirt and learning together? Education helps to purify your thoughts and cleanses your soul; however, if the way to explore the world is associated with ‘how-dirty-you-can-get’ slogans, how can children be expected to become responsible and cultured citizens of tomorrow? And how can education make them remove all dirt from their hearts?

With countless cartoons which show violence without pain and endorse dirty surroundings as elements of fun and enjoyment, the media has reversed the concepts of good and bad.

Dirt is of various forms. Besides visible dirt, there is the impurity of mind, heart and soul. Media is a manipulator of the mind, and children are the worst hit victims because of their impressionable age. Media depicts how a person can get away with any kind of wrong activity by just using a particular product. It shows how ‘the hero’ can do away with any evil deed through the act of spreading goodness. Moreover, it associates the cool image of a popular kid with irresponsibility, dirtiness and bad values.

Taharah promotes cleanliness of body, mind and soul. Keeping your heart free of malice, your mind from bad thoughts and your soul from all impurities is the true concept of Taharah.

How can parents combat these wrong perceptions inculcated through media? First of all, one must be able to differentiate between these messages and educate their child about the true concept of Taharah. Make your child feel uncomfortable with dirt and let him/her identify that learning is fun, but it can always take place without messing around. Play with them and help them organize and keep things in order. Discipline in early life will go a long way in ensuring your child’s mental and social upbringing.

Secondly, spread the word by action. When you are eating outdoors or in a public setting, keep an eye on your own behaviour. Are you the one throwing wrappers around? If you initiate one wrong act, know that there are many who will follow you. Locate a dustbin or if it is not there, keep the wrappers in your handbag for the time being. Those around you will learn that cleanliness is important to you.

“We should always identify and criticize wrong ideas that are promoted through the media, while watching TV together as a family, so that the young ones realize that the message is wrong,” says Saima, a housewife. With this approach, we can thwart the wrong perceptions that the media generates and enable our future generation to distinguish the good from the bad, before the media teaches them to see it the other way round.

Dare to Think!

Jul 10 - Dare to thinkBy Suleman Ahmer

I was surprised by the knock. It was late at night and I was the only guest.

I opened the door. It was the manager along with the cook.

“Sir, we wanted to ask you something that has been troubling us for the past few days.”

“Sure,” I replied, while asking them in.

The guest house belonged to Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Labs (KRL), where I had come to conduct a workshop.

KRL is Pakistan’s nuclear research powerhouse with some of the finest scientists that you can

find under the sun.

After sitting down, the cook spoke: “Sir, our scientists have brains so big that it would take us a few lifetimes to have our brains grow to that size!”

I was amazed at the clarity of the expression, knowing that here was an unschooled young man with his whole world limited to his village and now Rawalpindi, a town next to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

“You are right,” I said, knowing that I had in my workshop seasoned PhDs in subjects such as nuclear physics, power electronics, vibrations and vacuum systems. And these scientists know how to make things happen; just ask Dr. ElBaradei, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Sir,” the cook continued, “daily these scientists spend the whole day in your class. We don’t understand what is it that youare teaching them?”

I was stumped. What a wonderful observation!

And what a wonderful predicament!

How do I explain to these simple folks that I teach organizational restructuring based on strategic visions and then introduce the framework for converting these visions into short term actionable and quantifiable plans?

I was pushed into deep thought.

“I cannot teach anybody anything,” Socrates once said, “I can only make them think.”

Socrates believed that people can’t be taught; rather, people can be facilitated to discover what they already know. I disagree with him. It is only partly true. Through prophetic revelations, we learn many things that we didn’t know before.

Socrates was known to exaggerate. I believe that he was purposely exaggerating to provoke people, because provocation forces people to think; for this, I respect the guy for his noble agenda to force people to examine their beliefs, assumptions and paradigms. No wonder he made so many enemies.

I have come to believe that sincere people, who disbelieve us and challenge us, are among our greatest assets. Professors know it. Teachers know it. Trainers, like I, know it. We all know that one of the best rewards of teaching is to come across a sincere, naïve and aggressive man or woman, who doesn’t buy into what we hold to be correct or believe we know well. And if that person happens to be your spouse, then all the better!

On that cold winter night in Rawalpindi, I realized that I had come across such people.

In the few moments of silence that followed, by the grace of Allah (swt), a thought came to me, which has indebted me to those simple men forever.

“You know,” I carefully picked my words, “these scientists have knowledge much greater than mine. They are experts in their fields. I can’t teach anything that is related to their area of expertise.”

I could see that they felt relieved. How can someone much younger and an outsider teach their scientists? It just didn’t make sense to them. And now I had vindicated them. They were right after all.

I looked into their eyes and said: “You know what Iteach?” I held their attention: “I teach people that if what you do today – however big or small – doesn’t impact the world a hundred years later, then doing that is plain useless. It is just a waste of time.”

I sat back.

Amazingly, their eyes glistened with understanding and smiles erupted.

“You are right. This is absolutely true.” They were in complete agreement. I had told them something that they knew all along.

“We now understand what you teach. That is something good that you are teaching. Keep it up.” Saying this and with satisfaction written all over their faces, they left me to rest. Not realizing that they had left me exactly the opposite: restless!

I thought about it for many days. I pondered and reflected, and agonized. “In my urge to make things simple,” I questioned myself, “had I lied to them or misled them?”

Then it dawned upon me that just like them, I had also known this all along my life. I had never clearly articulated it to others and, most importantly, to myself. All I needed was an innocent question from those innocent men, who had no fear of being called naïve, with no reservations and no artificial persona of ‘look we know’!

And they taught me something that I had not been able to learn through books or by my travels across the globe.

Look deep inside your heart and you will realize that you know it too: if what we do today doesn’t impact this world a hundred years down the road, then it is simply a waste of time!

Dr. Yousuf Al Qardawi writes that there are people who die before their death, while being counted amongst the living. Others, however, continue to live after their death, because they leave behind good deeds, beneficial knowledge, pious children and able students, who keep increasing their life. In the words of William Wallace, the character in the movie “Braveheart”: “Every man dies, but not every man really lives!”

Please reflect on things that you know. Seek people who will challenge you. Hear them out patiently. Cherish them. You may have some valuable knowledge that is waiting to be discovered by none other than yourself.

Keep in mind the words of Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

And my advice to you today: please dare to think!

Suleman Ahmer is the Founder and CEO of “Timelenders.”

Travelling with the Quran

Jul 10 - Travelling with Quran

Many of us often deny the presence of the Quran in our daily lives, because of our concern over the rulings surrounding the question of travelling with the Quran. All scholars agree that the word of Allah (swt) is above all other words in the world and has to be treated with respect by every Muslim. While it is important that we are careful of how we treat the word of Allah (swt), especially in Arabic, it should not imply that we do not travel with Quran. Nowadays, when we spend so much time travelling by car, bus, train and plane, it would be a great loss, if we decided not to take our favourite copy of the Quran with us.

There are several ways we can keep the Quran close to us while travelling. We can creatively use technology for not missing out on the holy book:

  1. The Quran can be nicely covered and kept in a safe place in our bags. Most of us are careful and have an outer covering for our phones and electronic gadgets. We can use the same strategy here. SunniPath.com states that it is best to carry the Mushaf that has a plastic cover/jacket, which is not sewn or glued to it – that way, it can be touched even when one is not in Wudhu.
  2. Women, who have their periods, can wear gloves or avoid touching the Arabic script of the Quran.
  3. If we want to be extremely careful, we can carry our favourite Quran in a translated language, which does not have the Arabic text.
  4. The Quran can be carried in the form of digital books or software. Islam-QA.com says that it permissible to have the Quran on one’s mobile phone or in any other digital form.
  5. Many of us have ipods, iphones and cell phones with enough memory to save the complete Quran text on it. There are styluses (or pens), which can be used to scroll up and down within these gadgets. When the electronic gadget is off, the Arabic text will not be in direct contact with anything else and, therefore, cannot be disrespected.

Scholars have addressed some of the frequently asked questions regarding carrying the Quran:

  1. Mufti Ibrahim Desai, Darul Iftah, South Africa, has specified that it is permissible to carry the Quran while travelling. However, one must be careful about Wudhu (ablution). If it is difficult to perform Wudhu repeatedly while travelling, then care must be taken only to recite the Quran (from the Mushaf, computer or a digital form) and not directly touch the Quran.
  2. He has also advised to try to sit in the front seat, so that no one has his/her back to the Quran.
  3. Also, according to Islam-QA.com, the Mushaf can be put in one’s pocket, pants or other clothes while travelling, as long as it is protected against tearing or mishandling. Mufti Ibrahim, along with Faraz Rabbani (SunniPath.com), has emphasized that it is best to carry the Quran in one’s shirt or jacket pocket rather than in the pockets of pants, as it is more respectful and keeps the Quran elevated. For similar reasons, it is best to carry the Quran in hand-carry, rather than send it off in the baggage.

Whether it is a working professional commuting to and back from work, a mother dropping her children off and picking them up from school, or someone flying to another city or even country, we all spend a considerable time of our lives travelling. May Allah (swt) give us the opportunity to make the best use of our time and remain close to Him and His word, Ameen.

The Prophet’s (sa) Concern for Taharah

Oct 10 - Allah swt is beautifulBy Halima Khan

Taharah is the first lesson taught by Islam. Ask any neo-convert and his declaration of ‘la ilaha illallah’ is closely followed by a Ghusl. Hence, the cleansing of a soul that was formerly stained by Shirk is complete only once physical cleansing has been observed. The essential connection between Islam and Taharah is already established from this relevant fact.

Tradition has it that the people of a small town near Madinah, who were very particular about Taharah, especially for their prayers, have been mentioned in the Holy Book. The Lord (swt) praises these people in the Quran:

“Never stand you therein. Verily, the mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety is more worthy that you stand therein (to pray). In it are men, who love to clean and to purify themselves. And Allah (swt) loves those, who make themselves clean and pure (i.e. who clean their private parts with dust [i.e. to be considered as soap) and water from urine and stools, after answering the call of nature].” (At-Tawbah 9:108)

After being blessed with Prophethood, the second revelation reminded the Prophet (sa) of his heavy responsibilities and asked him to observe cleanliness:

“O you (Muhammad (sa)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols)!” (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-5)

All blessings that come from Islam, the fountain of blessings, directly stem from cleanliness. The Prophet (sa), set for us the highest example in principles of faith and in cleanliness, which in Islam is not only a physical condition, but also a state of being and existence.

We know from history that the desert environment of Arabia and the nomadic life of its people were not very conducive to cleanliness and refinement. Most of them neglected the basic aspects of Taharah. Hence, it was the Prophet (sa), who instructed them in matters of Taharah, with his lively instruction and to-the-point admonition. Thus, he gradually led them out of their uncouth habits by teaching them refinement and civil manners.

The following incidents will illustrate how the Prophet (sa) used Hikmah in teaching Taharah to those around him.

Once, a Sahabi (rta), with his hair and beard unkempt, came to see the Prophet (sa). The Prophet (sa) asked him to tidy up his hair. He did so, and when he re-appeared before the Prophet (sa), he said: “Is this not better than that one should come with disheveled hair, looking like a devil?” (Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik) This incident illustrates that one should keep one’s hair clean, combed and neat at all times.

Another incident reveals that a Sahabi (rta) in dirty and ragged clothes once joined the company of the Prophet (sa) and his companions. On seeing his condition, the Prophet (sa) asked him about his financial condition. The man answered that he was financially blessed, and that he had everything from camels to horses to goats; in addition to all of these, he also owned a slave. The Prophet (sa) pointed out to him that the blessings that have been bestowed on him should also be apparent in his clothes and style of living. He (sa) said to him: “Since Allah (swt) has given you wealth, let Him see the effects of His favour and bounty upon you.” (An-Nasai) This shows that not using the blessings the Lord (swt) has showered upon us is a sign of ungratefulness towards His favours.

At one occasion, the Prophet (sa) saw a man with untidy hair and remarked: “Does he have nothing with which to comb his hair?” (Abu Dawood)

When he saw another man with dirty clothes, the Prophet (sa) remarked: “Can’t he find anything with which to wash his clothes?” (Abu Dawood)

It was also an instruction of the Prophet (sa) that people attend gatherings and congregations, such as the Friday and Eid prayers, in proper attire. He said that if you can afford it, it is befitting that you wear garments other than your working clothes to Friday prayer. (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (sa) himself was so conscious of hygiene that, when he travelled, he carried with him several items for personal use like: oil, comb, pair of scissors, Miswak, mirror, etc. For oral hygiene, he cleaned his teeth regularly with Miswak – not once a day but several times. Aisha (rta) points out how diligently he used the Miswak every morning when he woke up, and also when he returned home. This was to such an extent that it is recorded that using the Miswak was among his last actions.

Many Ahadeeth of the Prophet (sa) also emphasize on Taharah, some of which are as follows:

“When you drink (water), do not breathe in the vessel; and when you urinate, do not touch your penis with your right hand; and when you cleanse yourself after defecation, do not use your right hand.” (Bukhari)

“Cleanliness invites toward faith, and faith leads its possessor to the Garden.” (Tabarani)

Taharah reflects not only personal hygiene but the condition of one’s faith as well. It is significant for us as Muslims to have a strong faith. We should take a good look at how important Taharah is to us – maybe that will tell us, where we stand in matters of faith. Make amends while you can, before the time comes for someone else to take care of your last Taharah rituals for you.

Let’s Compare!

Jul 10 - Let's CompareI am left dumbstruck when I hear comments such as: “Have you been to ——-? Isn’t it immaculate? Their roads, buildings and parks… Their overall concern for cleanliness! But here (referring to Pakistan), God save us! People are so filthy.”

Alhumdulillah, I have had the privilege of globe trotting to at least four of the major continents across the world, and each time I travel, I am faced with such a predicament. I wonder that if this is such a clean country and so are its people, why do I have to carry my own utensils (for a makeshift Lota) to their washrooms? I can almost imagine the toilet paper available there grinning at me out of mockery.

Being a far less pious Muslim, I cannot even bear the thought of not washing up after the call of nature. So can anyone please explain to me the point of overlooking such an important act of personal hygiene and making it up with polished floors, well-swept roads and imposing fine for littering around? (Not that those initiatives are not appreciated.)

To me, both outlooks are extreme. One considers cleaning up only themselves personally and ignoring the surroundings around them to the extent of throwing garbage and spitting right outside their own dwellings. The other bothers a lot about removing their pet’s poo from the pavement, without being concerned about washing up themselves after using the toilet, themselves.

Islam is as wonderful as it is, and it saves us from swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to the other. It offers a moderate and applicable path with detailed instructions to maintain personal and public hygiene, ensuring clean, safe and pure environments. To appreciate the beauty of our Deen, we can draw comparisons with other religions about their stance on Taharah (purity and cleanliness). This is mainly to acknowledge Allah’s (swt) blessings in disguise, which He has bestowed upon us by making us Muslims, and not to malign anyone.

The late Maulana Zafar Ali Khan has translated Dr. Draper’s Book (1882) and called it “Marka-e-Mazhab Aur Science.” In one of the selected paragraphs of his book, he writes:

“In the middle ages of Europe, most of its land consisted of vast jungles or barren terrain. It comprised of quick sands and filthy marshes. There was neither any system of cleanliness prevalent nor was there a sanitary infrastructure built to dispose off unclean water. The inhabitants wore one garment for years, without even washing it. Consequently, their clothes would become dirty and foul smelling. Bathing was considered a serious offence.

“Once, the Pope of Rome had King Fredrick II of Sicily and Germany convicted in 1250. The most glaring crime, for which the King was found guilty, was of bathing every day like Muslims. The Pope declared every such individual as an apostate, who happened to follow even part of the Muslim culture.

“In 1478, the then Pope established a religious court and burnt to death 2,000 people allegedly convicted for tending to personal hygiene. Another 70,000 people were imprisoned and fined.

“The magnitude of filth was such that when Britain’s Lord Priest stepped out in public, countless lice could be visibly seen roaming on his attire.

“Philip II by law ordered the closure of all Hamams (bathing facilities) after the fall of Muslims in Spain. The King suspended his Governor of Isabella for daring to wash himself daily.”

Similarly, not far away from our territory, in our neighbouring India, in 1975 an article was published in one of their dailies. In it, their Prime Minister admitted consuming cow’s urine every day. In Hinduism, the urine and stool of cow is considered to be sacred. Hence, some of their sweet mart makers sprinkle cow urine on their preparations for the attainment of blessings.

In Sikh religion, if one shaves his/her under arm hair, the individual is considered to be out of the fold of faith.

This is but a glimpse into the past and present of some of the nations whom we today constantly look up to for guidance in our lives. Pitifully, in spite of the superficial glamour and dazzle we witness, there lies a darker side that is not so pristine; otherwise, fatal diseases, such as AIDS and many others, would not have come into existence.

Alhumdulillah, in spite of poverty and negligent environments, the Muslim world is not responsible for such ailments. It is the people who do not practice Taharah and opt for unclean and defiled lifestyles.

In light of the above examples, one can realize the revolution that Islam brought to this world. Muslims have always been graceful and close to Fitrah (human nature). Perversion and unnatural habits have no room in our Deen. We are not a nation that has just recently discovered soap bars, fragrant scrubs or the dental floss. We are the ones, who set precedence for the usage of all such personal and public hygiene related products, and that too, 1400 years back.

So, please, dare not call yourself medieval. Just adopt the Sunnah and you will be modern!