Hajj: Exemptions and Misconceptions

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Hajj

“I am going for Hajj this year!” exclaims a family friend at a wedding. As she is engulfed in squeals of delight, warm prayers and congratulatory hugs from other Muslim sisters, she starts off providing details of her preparations for the short-but-sweet winter Hajj. As the days of Hajj in Dhul Hijjah fall in the winter months, more people are opting to perform Hajj while the weather is cool. Hajj in Islam is an obligation that comes with pre-conditions and pre-requisites. Therefore, it is important for Muslims to know all its aspects, in order to ensure that it will be accepted by Allah (swt), once they do perform it.
The first question that arises for a Muslim is: “Is Hajj obligatory upon me?” The answer to that depends upon the following conditions: A Muslim should be over puberty and physically able to make the journey.A Muslim should be able to afford the journey financially. A Muslim woman should be accompanied by a Mahram man (her husband or a male relative, whom she cannot marry). There are several other factors, depending upon the person’s personal circumstances, which determine whether or not they are obliged to go for Hajj. Listed below are the reasons behind exempting some Muslims from Hajj: 

The elderly, who is too weak 

Muslims, who are too old or weak to be able to perform Hajj, i.e., they cannot endure the physical hardships of the journey, are exempted from performing it. However, they may delegate another Muslim, who has already fulfilled their own obligation of Hajj, to perform it on their behalf. This is known as Hajj Badal. Narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta) from the Prophet (sa), who heard a man saying: “Here I am (O Allah), on behalf of Shubrumah.” He said: “Have you done Hajj for yourself?” He said: “No.” He said: “Do Hajj for yourself first; then, on behalf of Shubrumah.” (Abu Dawood)

The sick or physically incapacitated Muslim 

Someone could have broken a leg, undergone recent surgery, or be sick, with risk of his sickness worsening by travelling. If the doctor advises against travelling, Hajj is not obligatory upon such a Muslim, until his or her agility is restored. Shaikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid states: “One of the conditions of Hajj being obligatory is that a person should be free of physical illness and disability that would prevent him from performing Hajj. If a person is suffering from a chronic illness, permanent disability, paralysis (that makes him unable to walk) or is very old and unable to move about, then there is no obligation to perform Hajj.”

The one, who doesn’t possess sufficient wealth/money to afford the journey 

The wealth needed for Hajj is of three types: (1) the fare needed to travel to Saudi Arabia, (2) the money needed for food, lodging, transport and other expenses during the entire Hajj journey and (3) the money needed by the pilgrim’s dependents during his absence. If a Muslim cannot provide for all these expenses, Hajj is not obligatory upon him.
Some Muslim parents assume that Hajj is not obligatory upon them, if they have one or more unmarried daughters, until all of them are married, i.e., they are no longer their financial responsibility. There is no basis for this belief in Islamic Shariah. Having to save for extravagant wedding-party expenses and such un-Islamic customs as dowry cannot be used as flimsy excuses for delaying Hajj. Many Muslims assume that if they cannot afford Hajj at all, they can take money from close relatives, borrow it from others, or win it in unlawful money-making schemes to perform it. For performing Hajj, a Muslim must not resort to asking others for money, taking a bank loan or using money won in a lottery or obtained as Riba. Rather, he should wait until Allah (swt) makes him self-sufficient in this regard, by conscientiously trying to save enough money over time. Hajj that is performed with unlawful wealth is not accepted. 

The one, who is in debt 

If a Muslim is in debt, he doesn’t have to perform Hajj until his debt has been paid off.
“If a person is in debt and can neither perform Hajj nor pay off the debt, then he should start by paying off the debt, and Hajj is not obligatory for him.” (Islam-QA.com) Most Western Muslims assume that since they have acquired houses on mortgage, they are exempt from Hajj for the loan payback period. Shaikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, advises these Muslims:
“If your monthly mortgage payments are due and outstanding, then you are not allowed to perform Hajj, until they have been paid. If they are not outstanding, and you have made arrangements for payments to be made when they become due – should they become due during your absence – then you are eligible to go for Hajj. In other words, you don’t have to wait for your house to be fully paid to be eligible to perform Hajj. Having said this, however, I must add a reminder: one must strive earnestly and sincerely to get out of mortgage as quickly as possible. No Muslim, who is serious about his religion, should ever look at interest lightly.”

The Muslim woman, whose Mahrams refuse to accompany her, despite her insistence 

If a Muslim woman has enough money to perform Hajj, but none of her Mahram relatives agrees to accompany her, then Hajj is not obligatory upon her. Having a Mahram companion for Hajj is an obligatory condition for a Muslim woman. The Saudi Government doesn’t allow a woman to perform Hajj unless she states someone as a Mahram for the trip, i.e., provides a name of a person who is travelling with her, along with the type of Mahram relationship she has with him (i.e. brother, father, husband, son etc.). In that case, it becomes wrong to forge a stranger’s identity as a Mahram to perform Hajj, because it’s a lie.

As for the Islamic ruling, the wives of the Prophet (sa) did Hajj together after his demise without a Mahram; someone was appointed as a Mahram for them. So, Islamically, it’ll be alright to go without a Mahram, in a ladies-only group, as long as proper arrangements for a woman’s safety have been made.

However, it is better to go with a Mahram, since the wives of the Prophet were mothers of the Muslims and hence everyone thought of them as such. Women today might be more vulnerable to fraud etc. on the way if they do not have a Mahram with them. Finally, Muslims should strive to seek authentic knowledge about Hajj and hasten to perform it out of sincere devotion to Allah (swt), if they are among the ones on whom it has become obligatory. The Prophet (sa) said (on authority of Ibn Abbas (rta)): “He, who intends to perform Hajj, should hasten to do so.” (Abu Dawood)

Biddats – Before, During and After Death

Vol 6 - Issue 3 BiddatsBy Uzma Jawed

Allah (swt) says in the Quran that every individual is bound to taste death. Everybody knows that we are in this world for a short period, whereas our life in the Akhirah is eternal. Therefore, we need to think more on how we can improve our life in the Hereafter. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When a man dies, all his good deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous offspring, who prays for him.” (Muslim)

Customs and Rituals Following Death

It is wrongly believed that certain rituals can benefit the dead. For example, gatherings are held on specific days:

  • Soyem/Qul: Held on the third day after death. A huge gathering of relatives and friends is held at the house and a lavish meal is served.
  • Tabarak: Held every Thursday after death to recite the Quran together for the departed soul. In some cases, food is laid out for the deceased, with the belief that the soul of the departed will visit its house on that day.
  • Duswan: Held on the tenth day after death.
  • Beeswan: Held on the twentieth day after death.
  • Chaleeswan: Held on the fortieth day after death. It is a major event, which is organized on a grand scale. It is wrongly believed that if Chaleeswan is not held on the fortieth day or a day or two before, another family member might die.
  • Bursi: Death anniversary is held and all the relatives and friends gather together and condolences are repeated.
  • First Eid: The household of the deceased believe that the first Eid after the demise is a day of mourning and people visit to offer the first Eid condolences.

Other Misconceptions

  • Surah Al-Baqarah is read fourteen times, while the body of the deceased is still at home.
  • Keeping rice or wheat under the bed, where the dead body has been placed, and distributing it among the poor after the burial.
  • Paying someone to recite the Quran at the grave for several days.
  • Illuminating the grave for forty days, believing that the soul of the deceased visits the grave for forty days.

Several of these rituals are practiced in many Muslim countries today. In some Asian countries (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), these are considered part of our Deen. Similar practices are prevalent in some Arab countries. These customs come from pagan religions, especially Hinduism.

For example, in Hinduism, emphasis is placed on gathering in the home of the deceased and remembering the deceased on certain days. They also believe that the deceased may suffer, if the family members do not prepare food and drink for others.

All these rituals are innovations that have neither legal basis nor precedent in Islam. Any Biddat, in the eyes of the Shariah, is highly reprehensible. Aisha (rta) has narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “If somebody innovates something, which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected.” (Bukhari) Thus, we should try to distinguish Haq from Batil and Sunnahfrom Biddat. This can only be done, if we understand the message that Allah (swt) has conveyed to us through the Quran and Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah.

Funeral Rites in Islam

Relatives and friends should only observe a three-day mourning period. Abdullah Ibn Jafar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) delayed coming to visit Jafar’s family for three days after his death; then, he came to them and said:“Do not cry for my brother after today.” (Abu Dawood)

We need to ensure that the funeral is performed in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. We should visit the family of the deceased and offer condolences, help them and supplicate for the dead. Prophet Muhammad (sa) explicitly instructed relatives, friends and neighbours to send food to the bereaved family.

Abdullah Ibn Jafar (rta) has narrated: “When the news of Jafar’s (rta) death came, Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Prepare some food for the family of Jafar (rta), for verily there has come to them that which will preoccupy them.’” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi) The family members should not be burdened with entertaining guests, when they themselves are dealing with a calamity. Imam Shafai said: “I dislike gatherings, even if there is no wailing or crying. For it only renews the (family’s feeling of) sorrow and puts burdens on their food supplies.”

Moreover, recitation of the Quran before supplicating to Allah for forgiveness for the deceased can certainly be a means of acceptance of that supplication. However, there is no evidence found in the Quran and Sunnah that several readings of the Quran be completed on specific days. Death is a great tragedy that is combined by the desire to please Allah (swt) and benefit the dead through legislated means. It is a time to remember the deceased by instigating the Sunnah and shunning innovations with all their links to paganism.

Etiquette of Visiting the Graveyard

Muslim_graveyard_in_Tenovo,_MacedoniaBy Naba Basar and Laila Brence 

In Islam, death is a natural part of existence; it is a transition from this world into the Hereafter. Allah (swt) says in the Quran that every soul will taste death (Al-Ankabut 29:57). Likewise, every soul will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement to stand in front of the Creator (swt). For us, the living ones, their graves are constant reminders of death and the Hereafter.

The Prophet (sa) said: “I had prohibited you from visiting the graves, but now I encourage you to visit them, because they are a reminder of the Hereafter.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Although the above Hadeeth encourages Muslims to go to graveyards, we should pay attention to certain guidelines, when visiting the graves.

Sheikh Al-Albani reminds us that the primary purpose of visiting the graveyard must be that of remembering death and contemplating about the Hereafter. The intention for visiting the graves should not be to provide any comfort or benefit to the deceased. Likewise, we should refrain from praising the deceased by saying that so-and-so is in Jannah.

Also, we should not call upon the deceased ones, seeking their help instead of Allah (swt). Even though Muslims are allowed to make Duas at the grave for their deceased ones, these Duas are no more special than the Duas made for the deceased at any location other than the graveyard. Our supplications reach Allah (swt) regardless of where we offer them.

If we choose to say Duas for the deceased while in the graveyard, we should follow certain etiquettes.

First and foremost, we should be facing Kabah (not the grave) when making supplication. According to Sheikh Al-Albani, “The Prophet (sa) forbade prayer (Salah) facing graves, and Dua is the heart and soul of Salah, as is well-known, and is subject to the same rulings.

The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Dua is worship’ then he recited the Ayah: ‘And your Lord said: Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation).’ (Ghafir 40:60)”

Sheikh Al-Albani continues by saying that it is permissible to raise one’s hands, when offering supplication. Aisha (rta) has said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) went out one night, and I sent Bareerah to follow him and see where he went. She said: ‘He went towards Baqee A-Gharqad [the graveyard in Madina], and he stood at the bottom of Al-Baqee and raised his hands, then he went away.’ Bareerah came back to me and told me, and when morning came, I asked him about it. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, where did you go out to last night?’ He said: ‘I was sent to the people of Al-Baqee to pray for them.’”

There are numerous Duas that can be recited at the grave. One of the most common supplications has been passed on by Abu Hurairah (rta): “Assalamu alaykum ahl Al-diyar min Al-mumineen wAl-Muslimeen, in sha Allah bikum lahiqoon, asal Allaha lana wa lakum Al-afiyah (Peace be upon you, O people of the dwellings, believers and Muslims, Insha’Allah we will join you, I ask Allah (swt) to keep us and you safe and sound).” (Muslim)

While visiting the graveyard, we must remember that graves are to be respected. It is not permitted to violate or cause destruction in a graveyard. A majority of scholars agree that it is by no means allowed to demolish or destroy a Muslim graveyard, unless their bones have crumbled and turned to dust. Likewise, it is strictly forbidden to build or erect anything over a grave or have Quranic inscriptions around or on them. It is unlawful to slaughter animals in the cemetery, light candles or fragrant sticks, wipe hands or kiss the grave, as all these acts are done by people belonging to non-Muslim cultures and traditions. There is also no proof that one should visit the graveyard every Friday, on Lailat-ul-Qadr, Eids or during Ramadan.

The opinions of scholars differ on the matter, whether Muslim women are allowed to visit the graveyard or not. Many say it is Makrooh (disliked) by quoting a Hadeeth that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “May Allah curse the women, who are frequently visiting the cemetery.” (At-Tirmidhi) However, if the visiting is not frequent, most scholars say it is permissible for Muslim females to visit the graveyard, provided that the sole purpose of going there is to remember death and Hereafter. If a female does visit the graveyard, she should be properly dressed (without displaying her adornments) and should abstain from wailing or any other un-Islamic behaviour.

The Final Journey

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Final JourneyNaba Basar takes an in-depth look at the burial rites as explained in the Quran and Sunnah.

Allah (swt) says: “Then He causes him to die and places him in his grave. Then when it is His Will, He will resurrect him (again).” (Abasa 80:21-22)

Death is the ultimate reality of life, from which no soul on earth can turn their heads away. The first death on Earth took place, when the two sons of Prophet Adam (as) quarrelled, which resulted in the death of one. Allah (swt) says: “So the Nafs (self) of the other (latter one) encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him to hide the dead body of his brother.” (Al-Maidah 5:30-31)

Burial rites hold great significance in a Muslim’s life. The Prophet (sa) said: “A Muslim has five rights upon other Muslims: responding to his greeting of peace (Salam), answering his invitation (to food), invoking blessings upon him when he sneezes, visiting him when he is sick and following his funeral when he dies.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Our beloved Prophet (sa) also instructed us to make haste in burying the dead saying: “Hurry up in the funeral rites for the dead body. If it had been righteous, then you are speeding it to good, and if it had been otherwise, then you are removing the burden of its evil from your shoulders.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Thus, there should be no delaying in burying the body.

As soon as a Muslim dies, his family is encouraged to pray for the departed soul. It is against the beliefs of Muslims to wail, scream and flog oneself. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “He is not of us who beats his face, tears his clothes and bewails loudly when misfortune happens to him, as was done before, during the days of ignorance.” (Bukhari and Muslim)


The family should prepare the body for Ghusl, as soon as the near and dear ones are informed of the sad demise. Firstly, the family should shut the eyes, close the deceased’s jaw and straighten the body, including fingers and toes. The manner of Ghusl, according to Sunnah, is first to cover the body, so as not to expose any private parts.

The Ghusl should begin by washing the hands, then the private parts, cleaning away all impurities. Then perform Wudhu (ablution) in the same manner that ablutions are performed for prayer, washing the head and face (and beards for men) using water infused with the leaves of the lotus or anything similar (such as soap). Then, pour water on the right side and then the left side, washing the whole body twice or thrice. This may be increased up to five or seven times, until the body is totally clean. In the last washing, it is preferred to add camphor to the water, if available. Non-alcoholic fragrance should be applied on all unseen parts of the body and the places upon which he/she prostrates. It is permissible to use fragrance on the whole body. In case of women, their hair should be plaited in three braids and placed behind them.

Since the deceased holds great respect, care should be taken that the place for Ghusl is secluded, clean and sterile. It should also be ensured that not too many people are present at washing of the body. It is preferable to have only very close family members. There is no proof of reading the Quran or any Duas during the Ghusl. Moreover, the people responsible for Ghusl are not permitted to disclose any unusual mark or sighting that they may witness, out of respect for the deceased.

It is preferable that women wash and shroud the woman’s body, and men wash and shroud the man’s body.

However, some schools of thought agree that it is permissible for the spouse to give Ghusl to each other, with the condition that in case of a deceased husband, there be the woman’s Mahram to help her. The Prophet (sa) said to his wife Aisha (rta): “You do not have to worry, if you die before me. I will wash you, shroud you and bury you.” (Ahmad)


Ghusl is followed by shrouding, and white is the recommended colour for it.

The man’s body should be shrouded in three white sheets. The winding or the wrap-around sheets should be spread out one on top of the other. After Ghusl, the deceased is lifted off with a sheet and placed on the winding sheets. The edge of the top sheet is folded over the deceased right side, then the other edge over his left side. Then, the second sheet should be folded the same way. The third and the largest sheet should be treated the same way. These sheets should be secured with a piece of cloth (tie ropes): one above the head, another under the feet, and two around the body.

Woman’s body should be shrouded in five pieces of cloth: two winding sheets, a long and loose sleeveless shirt (from shoulders to feet), a waist wrapper and a head veil. All these should be large enough to cover the whole body and may be perfumed with incense. A loin (side) cloth may be used to bind the upper part of her legs. Four tie ropes should be used – each one seven feet long. The loin cloth should be bound round her upper legs (acts like underwear). The waist wrapper is tied in place. Then, the sleeveless shirt should be put on – long enough to cover the body from shoulders to feet. The head veil should be put on as the last.

In case the deceased woman is in her menstrual period or has post partum bleeding, padding should be used to prevent blood from leaving the body.

Extravagance (such as silk fabric or golden threads) for the white shrouding cloth (Kafan) is not recommended. Nothing should be written on or placed inside the shrouds.

Such Biddats as tying Quranic verses around the deceased or applying Henna to the hands are strictly prohibited and should be avoided and discouraged under any circumstances. Also, taking pictures or making a movie of the dead is highly disapproved of, as it shows disrespect for the dead. There is no proof of reading any particular Surah a certain number of times or placing the Quran under the pillow of the deceased.

Funeral Prayer and Burial

Before performing the funeral prayer, the family members should ensure that the deceased was not indebted to anybody. If there was a debt on the deceased, then the family should repay it as soon as possible, even before the burial. If the family cannot afford to do so, then the debt should either be pardoned or someone else should step forward and liberate the family from it. This was the practice of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Funeral prayers have to be performed in congregation, while standing. There are four Takbirs. There is no bowing or prostration. It is a silent prayer except for the Takbirs and Tasleem. It is permissible to offer a supplication after the fourth and last Takbir. This can be supported by the Hadeeth related by Abu Yafur through Abd Allah Ibn Abi Awfa.

He said: “I was with him in a funeral prayer when he made four Takbirs and waited for a while. (He means he was making supplication.) Then he said: “Were you thinking I was about to perform five Takbirs? They said: “No.” He said: “I saw the Prophet (sa) performing four (Takbirs).”

Scholars say you may pronounce the following supplication after the fourth Takbir: “Allahummah la tahrimna ajrahu wala taftinna badahu waghfir lana wa lahu.” The body should be placed in front of the person leading the prayer.

After the first Takbir, Surah Al-Fatihah is read. After the second Takbir, salutation for Prophet Muhammad (sa) is read (preferably the one read right after Tashahhud in Salah). After the third Takbir, Dua for the deceased is read:

“O Allah! Grant forgiveness to our living and to our dead, and to those, who are present, and to those, who are absent, and to our young and our old folk, and to our males and females. O Allah! Whomsoever you grant to live from among us, help him to live in Islam, and whom of us you cause to die, help him to die in faith. O Allah! Do not deprive us of the reward for patience on his loss, and do not make us subject to trail after him.”

This is followed by the last Takbir; then, one Tasleem on the right side is performed. According to Hadeeth it is favourable to have three rows for a funeral prayer. The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever dies and three rows of Muslims pray for him, then he will be entitled to good.” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) also said: “Whoever prays the funeral prayer for someone will receive a mountain of reward. Whoever then follows the deceased until burial will receive double that reward.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Visit the sick and walk with the Janazah, it will remind you of the Hereafter.” (Muslim)

The bier of the deceased is then carried to its final abode, wherein he will dwell until the Day of Judgement. The Quran says: “Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall send you back, and from it We shall bring you out once again.” (Ta-Ha, 20:55)

After the Burial

The mourning period should not last beyond three days, except for the widow, whose mourning period (Iddah) is mentioned in the Quran as follows: “And those of you who die and leave wives behind them, they (the wives) shall wait (as regards their marriage) for four months and ten days.” (Al-Baqarah 2:234) This rule has been given so that the widow observes the memory of her husband, fulfills any obligations towards him, and can ascertain whether or not she is pregnant. If the widow is pregnant, then her waiting period ends, when she delivers her baby: “And for those who are pregnant (whether they are divorced or their husbands are dead), their Iddah (prescribed period) is until they lay down their burden.” (At-Talaq 65:4)

The Final Word

Death is exceedingly one of the greatest trials Allah (swt) causes mankind to pass through. Whether it is gradual or instant, most of us find it painful to bid farewell to our loved ones embarking on the final journey of their lives in this world. It is our correct perspective of the Hereafter, and love and trust in Allah (swt) that helps us overcome our grief and heal gracefully. There is much to look forward to, beyond death – Insha’Allah an eternal life of bounties in the company of our loved ones that we have lost today.

Punishments of the Grave

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Punishments of the graveBy Iqra Asad 

Life is a test, for which we get the exam questions beforehand. We already know which answer will score how many marks – or at least we would have known, if we had bothered to check the grading scheme. With questions and answers already given to us, all we have to do is prepare. There isn’t any excuse for failing such a test, is there?

Yet, whenever we encounter any description of the punishment of the Hereafter, we ask: “What about Allah (swt)’s mercy?” The answer is contained in the very beginning of the Quran, where, in Surah Al-Fatihah, Allah (swt) is described as the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. He is called the Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e., the Day of Resurrection). That is – He is Merciful, but He is also Just.

The time between death and the Day of Judgement is spent in the state of Barzakh or interspace, i.e., the waiting period, which every soul spends according to its actions in life, as Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Verily the grave is the first stopping place for the Hereafter; so if he is saved therein, then what comes after is easier than it. And if he is not saved therefrom, then that which comes after is harder.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim)

“When a person is buried and the people go away, two angels approach the deceased and ask three questions: a) Who is your lord? b) What is your religion? and c) Who is he (the Prophet (sa))? (…) A disbeliever will express regret at not being able to answer the questions. Upon that, an angel, who is blind and deaf, is appointed to punish him – blind so that the angel does not see the punishment and feel mercy, and deaf, so that the punishment is not heard. The hammer used to punish a disbeliever is so heavy that it can reduce a mountain to dust. The disbeliever screams with pain, and every creation can hear him, except humans and Jinns.” (Abu Dawood)

“If you are made to listen to the punishment of the grave, you will stop burying your deceased.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Punishments for… 

The liar: His face is ripped open with an iron hook, from the eyes to the neck, then the mouth to the neck. (Bukhari)

The one who learnt the Quran but failed to follow it: His head will be smashed open with a rock. (Bukhari)

The ones who committed adultery: They shall be roasted in a pit of fire. (Bukhari)

The one who dealt in usury (interest): He will swim in a river of blood or boiling tar, and every time he wants to get out, a person at the bank will smash a rock into his mouth, crushing his teeth. (Bukhari)

The backbiter: They will tear their own faces and chests with copper claws. (Abu Dawood)

Those who turned away from prayer: They will crack their own heads open with stones. (From the collated Hadeeth regarding Miraj by Al-Shami and Al-Ghayti)

The slanderer: They will cut pieces of flesh off from their own bodies and eat them.(seen by the Prophet (sa) during Al-Isra journey) In all of the above, the person is healed and the punishment is repeated until the Day of Judgement.

Avoiding the Punishment of the Grave Avoid sin carefully: In Baihaqi, there is a Hadeeth, in which the Prophet (sa) said that the occupant of a grave was being tormented, because he gossiped and was not cautious about splashing drops of urine on himself. Moral: never consider any act unworthy of correction.

Make Dua to Allah (swt): The Prophet (sa) cautioned people to seek protection from the punishments of the grave. One of the duas that he (SAW) used to make quite often towards the end of his prayer was: “Oh Allah, I take refuge in You from the punishment of the grave, from the torment of the Fire, from the trial of life and death and from the evil affliction of Dajjal.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Recite Surah Al-Mulk before going to sleep: Abu Hurairah (rta) narrates that the Prophet (sa) said regarding Surah Al-Mulk: “Verily, there is a chapter in the Quran, which contains thirty verses that will intercede on behalf of its reciter, until he is forgiven.” (Al-Albani)

Do good deeds: The Prophet (sa), in a detailed Hadeeth, specified that the good deeds, i.e., your prayer, Zakat, Sadaqah, good behaviour with others, etc., form a shield against Azab. (At-Tirmidhi)

Dealing with Pain

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Dealing with pain

Whether we are devout Mumins, indifferent Muslims or uninformed non-Muslims, Allah (swt) has set aside our share of challenges, trials and losses. Clichéd phrases, such as ‘life is a bed of roses’ and ‘they lived happily ever after’ can be believed of Jannah – the perfect abode. While we are here in this imperfect world, our life is highly susceptible to damage and pain.

Alhumdulillah, our Lord (swt) has also granted us a capacity for inner healing. Otherwise, this world would have come to an end centuries ago. It is all about finding strength and moving forward when the stakes are high. This strength exists inside us. However, the magnitude of strength differs from person to person. Some people can overcome great pain gracefully and patiently, while some struggle with a prick of a thorn.

What does it take to handle suffering and grief? Is there a special diet, some magic Mantra, laughter therapy or nerves of steel? Wrong! The secret lies in our perception of this life. What do we consider the purpose of our existence? For example, if somebody’s aim in life has been to earn wealth, that’s where the gravity of life is for him. If one day misfortune strikes and he is declared bankrupt, or he experiences a financial loss in business, it can render him out of control of his life and throw him right into the arms of depression.

Dealing with momentary pain is still somewhat easier, as there is a hope of a reward, recovery and renewal to one’s former position of comfort. Examples include labour and birth, a medical surgery to remove an ailment, sending a child to a distant college for education, a temporary loss in business, a dispute with a relative, etc.

The real challenge lies when the pain or damage is permanent in nature. This may include death, medical surgery to remove an organ, a financial loss, divorce, etc. Undoubtedly, the scars are deeper.

In such cases, the first question that generally comes to the mind of the grieving person is – why me? There can be many possible answers to this. Allah (swt) tries His beloved slaves by granting or withdrawing His blessings to see how faithful His slaves really are. There may be some hidden benefit (Khair) that the human intellect cannot perceive and which will reveal itself after a certain passage of time. The loss suffered in the world may alleviate an even greater loss likely to occur in the Hereafter. It may be a means to remove sins and return to Allah (swt) in purity. Lastly and most importantly, it may be Allah’s (swt) warning to His slaves to repent to Him and live the remainder of one’s life in complete submission to Him for eternal salvation, especially if one has deliberately been heedless.

How to Tackle Grief

Some real life experiences of people will help you see your own loss in a different light.

Mrs. Kareem’s thirty-four-year-old mentally retarded son passed away one morning in one of his epilepsy seizures. All along she had cared for him like a little child, so he was literally the focus of her life. He was a special child, whom she loved dearly. I heard her say, crying bitterly: “Alhumdulillah, Allah (swt) took him away in my life. I always used to wonder, who would care for him once I was gone. Allah (swt) relieved me of my worries.” For a mother to lose her child is among the greatest trials one can face. But only a woman, who believes in Allah’s (swt) mercy, can accept His decree in such pain. The Prophet (sa) explains, how Allah (swt) reciprocates His love for such slaves: “O son of Adam, if you show endurance and seek your reward from me in the first affliction, I shall be pleased with no less reward than Paradise for you.” (Mishkat and Ibn Majah)

Another courageous woman is Sarah. After nearly five years of her childless marriage, she ended up in a divorce, due to some severe cases of mistrust and misunderstanding with her spouse. Once it was over, she realized how wrong she had been and that her marriage could have been saved. Her ex-husband re-married and started anew. However, as our prejudiced culture hardly gives a divorced woman another chance to re-build her life, Sarah remained single and lonely.

This is when she found strength in the Quran and turned a new leaf. She took up learning her Deen and, Masha’Allah, today she is a well-versed teacher of the Quran, imparting knowledge and wisdom to many. What she could not do for herself, she did for others by guiding them in their marital lives. Allah’s Messenger (sa) states: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn, but Allah (swt) will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” (Bukhari)

One lady, who came from a wealthy and respectable family, had to suffer sudden financial loss. Her husband lost his job, and after a considerable time, he lost all his savings too. She had to step out of the house to support him in earning bread and butter. After Fajr, she would stay up to cook and clean and then, leave for her job. Swinging from one bus to the other, she would run to give tuitions to her students and would return home exhausted by late evening. This would give her enough funds to send her children to school and support her husband and other household expenses. Whenever I would meet her, she would be smiling and thanking Allah (swt). In spite of her own busy schedule, she was always willing to offer help to others in whatever way she could. She shares the secret of her contentment: “I want to work so hard in the day that by the time night falls, I have no energy left to think of my miseries. That keeps me going.” The Prophet (sa) stated: “He, whom Allah intends good, He makes him to suffer from some affliction.” (Bukhari)

Conclusively, it greatly depends on the individual’s own strength to not let grief drown him in the whirlpool of dejection. He/she could rather make the most of what is still left. Shaitan will constantly try to misguide and create animosity when we are struck with misfortune. He makes an attempt to shake the pillars of our faith by planting poisonous thoughts, such as: “Your Lord does not love you, He has forsaken you, you are a sight of pity, etc.”

Here, one needs to be extra vigilant, because in moments of grief, one can earn great rewards by practicing Sabr and offering Salah. But if we fall into Shaitan’s trap of disbelief, the same moments can bring us Allah’s (swt) wrath. The Prophet (sa) said: “Patience is (becoming) only at the first (stroke) of grief.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

A great tool is to listen to a lot of Quranic interpretation. Try to be in the company of those individuals, who offer hope and are close to Allah (swt). If health and pocket permits, it is very fruitful to get involved in community service. Giving joy to others or witnessing other people’s pain reduces one’s own miseries.

Eventually, one must realize that we are here only on a temporary journey. Whatever we own, including our own lives, has been entrusted to us by Allah (swt). We will have to return it to Him, when He demands it back. In such cases, we must pray: “We are from Allah and unto Him we return. Oh Allah, take me out of my plight and bring to me after it something better.” (Muslim) We can ask the King of the worlds (swt) to grant us eternal blessings in Jannah, free of pain and fear of loss. Insha’Allah, this will be a driving force for us, through our misfortunes in this world.

Preparing for Death – What We Leave Behind

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Preparing for Death

Anyone, who has ever been on an out-of-town journey, would testify to the pre-travel stress and jitters. One aspect of the preparations is to make sure that, once the packing is done and the travel arrangements are made, everything the traveller leaves behind (from his belongings and house to his family) is protected and cared for until his return.

This analogy can be appropriately applied to the life of a Believer. Not only does he prepare for his journey to Akhirah, which begins with his death, but he also ensures that what he leaves behind in the world benefits him after he has gone.

“Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever with Allah (of good deeds) will remain.” (Al-Nahl 16:96)

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end, except three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge and righteous offspring, who will pray for him.” (Muslim)

Imam Al-Nawawi said in “Sharh Muslim”: “The scholars said: the meaning of this Hadeeth (above) is that the deeds of the deceased come to an end when he dies, and the renewal of reward ceases for him, except in these three cases because he is the cause of them: his offspring is counted among his earnings, as is the knowledge that he leaves behind through teaching or writing, and ongoing charity, i.e., a Waqf (Islamic endowment).”

The Hadeeth below further elaborates upon this: Narrated Abu Hurairah (rta): “The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are: knowledge which he learned and then spread; righteous offspring whom he leaves behind; a copy of the Quran that he leaves as a legacy; a mosque that he built; a house that he built for wayfarers; a canal that he dug; or charity that he gave during his lifetime when he was in good health. These deeds will reach him after his death.” (Ibn Majah)

Consequently, a Muslim should not just persist in doing good deeds while alive; he or she should also do things that will give benefit after death. Options for such endeavours are listed below:

Remember Death

One of the best ways to do good deeds that will benefit us after the death is to remember death itself, often and consistently.

Invest Money in Welfare Projects

Whether it’s a hospital, school, mosque, domestic shelter or a welfare organization that helps the needy, a Muslim should invest some money in it. This would ensure that the rewards for charity will keep coming even after the person has died. The investment will continue to benefit others in different ways.

Spread Beneficial Knowledge

  • Educate another person or teach others a skill; contribute in starting a regular Islamic class. The more students you have, the farther your trail of good deeds will extend after you leave this world.
    “And We record that which they send before (them), and their traces [their footsteps and walking on the earth with their legs to the mosques for the five compulsory congregational prayers, Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s cause), and all other good and evil they did, and that which they leave behind], and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in a Clear Book.” (Yasin 36:12)
    All it takes is an hour a week to teach others what you know. The point is: just start!
  • Sponsor the printing and distribution of the Quran or Islamic books and magazines.
  • Record and distribute Islamic classes and lectures. Islamic lectures can be recorded on various formats, spread physically among people or uploaded to the Internet.
  • Write articles and books. Now, e-books make it easier for writers to get published. For example, Lulu.com allows its users to publish their own books free of charge.
  • Create an Islamic website or write for other websites: If you are tech-savvy, you can start your own Islamic website! You can easily publish short articles on the Internet by registering on such websites as Helium.com, AssociatedContent.com, Hubpages.com, etc.
  • Start and maintain an Islamic blog. WordPress.com, Blogger.com and IslamicInk.com allow individuals to upload their personal content. Be it personal reflections on the Quran, tips and advice on acting upon Islam or general musings, maintaining a blog will benefit you well after your death, Insha’Allah.

Get Married and Bear Children

A Muslim should try to get married to a pious person and to raise a family, instilling high Islamic values in their children. Moreover, if the children grow up to be righteous, they’ll benefit their parents even after they are dead. But if they grow up to be disobedient to Allah (swt), their evil actions will bring punishment to the parents in the Hereafter.

Show Mercy for Travellers

Planting trees and other vegetation, particularly the ones that produce fruits, vegetables or grains that provide shade to the passer-bys and oxygen to the environment, is a great ongoing act of charity. Having wells dug, or water-coolers installed on wayfarers’ paths is also an excellent charity.

Anas Ibn Malik (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “There is none amongst the Muslims, who plants a tree or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but it is regarded as a charitable gift from him.” (Bukhari)

Pay your Debts

A Muslim should also think about whether he or she owes anyone any debts at the time of death. After death, their debts will still have to be paid. Consequently, pious Muslims make up Qada fasts of previous years, give Qada Zakat of assets, which they were heedless of in the past, and ensure they live without any debts. Since they constantly think about and prepare for their death, they also ensure that their transition from this world is as smooth as possible. When they return to their Lord (swt), they have no debts – either that of His (swt), or of His servants – left to be paid.


Using all available resources, tools and technologies to benefit others, facilitating the growth and spread of Islamic knowledge and helping alleviate the misery and suffering of the less fortunate enable Muslims to prepare for their exit from the transient life of this world. Even after they are gone, the ‘ripple effects’ of their fruitful actions will still be felt by succeeding generations, Insha’Allah.

Passive Reception or Active Participation?

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Passive receptionBy Zainub Razvi

Almost without any real effort on their part, ordinary individuals of the information age are exposed daily to a sheer wealth of information. It is a huge task to separate valid facts from speculative or downright false information. The Internet, around-the-clock cable television, newspapers and mobile communications combined offer so many avenues for disseminating of information that often news is spread wide and across, before it has even been properly verified.

Although journalists are expected to ensure a higher standard of authenticity than an over-avid SMS user, who forwards any rumours he/she comes across as potential health and security warnings, even the news media often sidesteps important journalistic protocols to cash in on sensational angles or breaking news value. Not only do such practices compromise important journalistic ethics but, more crucially, in a country like Pakistan, where the majority of the viewers and readers comprise less educated, gullible audiences, they mislead people and start a vicious cycle of utterly baseless rumours and gossip mongering, which ultimately becomes so pervasive that it is nearly impossible to separate the facts from the fiction.

A brilliant recent example was the mobile virus hoax propagated in 2007. The mystery virus could allegedly do anything from simply messing up your phone device to downright killing you! What started off as a relatively harmless chain email and SMS message, which originated out of a practical joke, eventually ended up as breaking news health warning on certain news channels. It was only days later, after a full blown education campaign by the telecom regulators, that all needless hysteria finally subsided. Thus, ordinary news watchers cannot trust the news providers to give them the correct information.

A fair deal of the responsibility lies on us to confirm any news we hear or read. It is not only a common sense practice but also a religious obligation, as described in Surah Hujurat: “O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done.” (49:6) Although this verse refers specifically to news brought by a rebellious and evil person, scholars suggest that believers should verify any news brought to them by any source, before believing it and passing it on to others. Here are the top three questions to ask ourselves, whenever we read or hear a news story:

Source: Where is this news coming from? It is vital to determine the authenticity of the source of any news. We shouldn’t just assume that because a certain report is appearing on TV or in a newspaper it will necessarily be correct. We should further check to see, if it’s an original report or news syndicated from another source. If it is an original report, do a background check on the reporter or correspondent breaking the story. In case of a syndicated story, check if it comes from well known news agency. Some newspapers and channels do have a reputation of being more sensationalist than others, and almost every news source has certain inherent predispositions (a liberal or conservative slant, for instance), which should also be kept in mind, when ascertaining the credibility of any source.

Balance: Is the news too one-sided? Every news story has two sides, and any news story that gives you just one side is not balanced. So if you’re tuning in to watch election coverage, and the state television is showing you one government official after another testifying to the fairness and transparency of the balloting process, but does not include any opposition members, let alone their views, you know something’s fishy. Balance is particularly important in news stories about crime and politics. View with suspicion a report, which logs only one aggrieved party’s grievances. Watch out for the bias that editors and producers sometimes deliberately create via selecting and emphasizing some facts and figures over others, strategically placing certain news in headline or front pages and by using specific tones or names to refer to certain incidents or people (for instance, a new report that describes a staunch scholar as a ‘radical cleric’).

Accuracy: Are the facts in this report logically consistent? Make use of your common sense to read and watch between and beyond the lines and tapes. If a news channels is broadcasting something it claims was shot in the Northern Areas, but appears like it could easily have been taped elsewhere in the country, view it with skepticism. A good way to determine the credibility of a report is the amount of citations it has – the more experts or other credible sources it quotes, the higher is the likelihood of accuracy.

By following this simple guide, we can ensure that we are not misled ourselves and prevent the propagation of false or speculative news to others.

Exemplary Lives, Admirable Deaths

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Exemplary livesBy Erum Asif

No nation has the kind of remarkable role models that Muslims are blessed with. These people had exemplary lives and admirable deaths. Allah (swt) has decreed death for all of us, but do we remember?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) remained ill for about ten days before he died. During one of these days, he admonished: “Do not make my grave an idol to be worshipped.” (Muwatta Imam Malik) This is a stern reminder for Muslims who commit Shirk by prostrating and praying to dead ‘saints’ at shrines. He further said: “He, whom I have lashed his back (wrongfully), then, here is my back, let him retaliate. He, whom I have ever blasphemed his honour, here I am offering my honour, so that he may avenge himself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) had not wronged anyone, yet he humbly offered himself for revenge. Have we made amends to those we have hurt? He (sa) reminded the people to be good to the Ansar, adding: “…They have fulfilled their obligations and rights, which were enjoined on them, but there remains what is for them. So, accept the good (deeds) of the good-doers amongst them and excuse the wrong-doers among them.” or “….accept their good side and ignore their faults.” (Bukhari) What a noble approach! Focus on the positive deeds of your fellow-Muslims; overlook their faults, paving the way to a stronger Ummah, Insha’Allah.

A final instruction that the Prophet (sa) emphasized was: “Allah, Allah. Prayers and what your right hands own (i.e., the slaves).” (Dhahabi) Alas! What is the state of our prayers today? Do Muslims head for the Masjid upon hearing the Adhan? How many Muslims pray five times a day? Empty, divided Masjids tell us a sad story! Do we abandon cosy beds for a timely Fajr?

On the day of his death, Prophet (sa) removed his door curtain, looked at the Muslims praying Fajr and smiled. After sunrise, he asked for Fatima (rta) to be brought in. He whispered into her ear, and she cried. He whispered again, and she smiled. First, he had informed her of his death, and then of her being the first relative to join him, and of being the women’s chief in Jannah. He asked for Hasan and Hussain to be brought in and kissed them.

O, Muslim parents, isn’t there a beautiful example for you in Rasoolullah (sa)? This is an example of love and compassion, not of harshness and aloofness. Note his and Fatima’s (rta) mutual focus – the Hereafter.

In his final moments, the Prophet (sa) was leaning against his wife Aisha (rta). Her brother walked in with a Miswak (tooth-stick) in his hand. Aisha (rta) took and softened it, whereupon the Prophet (sa) used it. Such concern for cleanliness and fondness of the Miswak, as he is about to take his last breath! And what a loving relationship he and his wife enjoyed! Muslim couples can beautify their marriages by turning to the Prophet’s (sa) example. He wiped his face with water, saying: “La ilaha ill-Allah; truly, death has its agonies.” And glanced upwards, supplicating: “…O Allah, forgive me, have mercy upon me and unite me with the highest companions.”

(Quoted in “A Biography of the Prophet of Islam”, by Dr. Mahdi Rizqullah Ahmad, Translated by Syed Iqbal Zaheer, Dar-us-salam, 2005 and “Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum”, by Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Dar-us-salam, 1995)

Twelve years later, Umar (rta), the second caliph, was martyred. As he led the Fajr prayer, a Persian slave stabbed him with a poisoned, double-edged dagger. What was Umar’s (rta) concern as he fell fatally wounded? Prayers! He asked: “Is Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf among the people?” They replied: “Yes, he is over here.” Umar (rta) asked him to lead the prayer.

Later, Umar (rta) was taken home. He thanked Allah (swt) for not causing him to die from a Muslim’s hands. He was given milk to drink, which oozed out of his belly’s wound. He asked for the Muslim children to come. He stroked them affectionately. He gave instructions for the settlement of his debt and named the companions to be chosen from as his successor.

He (rta) also asked his son to seek permission from Aisha (rta) for being buried next to the Prophet (sa) and Abu Bakr (rta). Aisha (rta) agreed, and Umar (rta) thanked Allah (swt), since the most important wish of his was fulfilled. He (rta) said to his son: “Place my cheek on the ground.” And when that was done, he said::“Woe to you and to your mother, O Umar, if Allah (swt) does not forgive you, O Umar.” He then passed away.

(Quoted in “Biographies of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs”, Prepared and Translated by Tamir Abu As-Suood, Dar Al-Manarah, 2001)

More than seventy years after Umar’s (rta) demise, the Ummah witnessed the greatest ruler after the rightly-guided caliphs. That was Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, great-grandson of Umar (rta). Remember the God-fearing lady, who had refused to mix milk with water because of Caliph Umar’s (rta) prohibition? Umar’s (rta) son Asim married her. Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz was Asim’s grandson. This God-fearing ruler would gather scholars to remember death and the Akhirah, and they would cry, as if a funeral were before them.

He died after a short but exceptional rule of two years. In his last speech, he said: “Don’t you know that protection tomorrow will be limited to those, who feared Allah [today], and to those who sold something ephemeral for something permanent? (…) I swear by Allah (swt) that I say those words to you, knowing that I myself have committed more sins than any of you; I, therefore, ask Allah for forgiveness, and I repent.” He lifted up the edge of his robe and began to sob, causing people to burst into tears.

In the agony of death, he addressed his sons tearfully: “By Allah (swt)! I have not left for you anything in inheritance (except for a room). If you are righteous, then Allah (swt) is the caretaker of the righteous ones. And if you are evil-doers, then I will never help you in evil-doing with my wealth.” Each son kissed him, and he prayed for them. He left his sons barely a dirham each, but years later they were seen distributing multitude of horses as charity. Just before his departure, Umar asked to be left alone and was heard reciting: “That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqun.” (Al-Qasas, 28:83)

(Quoted in “Biographies of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs” by Tamir Abu As-Suood Muhammad and Noha Kamal Ed-Din Abu Al-Yazid, Dar Al-Manarah; “Sunehray Huroof” by Abdul Malik Mujahid, published by Dar-us-salam and “Umar Bin Abdul Aziz”, Muslim Heroes Series, by Naima Sohaib, Translated by Eeman Asif Misbah, Sahar Publishers, 2006)

Seriously ill before her death, Aisha (rta) was asked how she felt. She would say she was fine. Visiting her, Ibn Abbas (rta) started praising her. She asked him not to, adding, “I would be happy not existing.” What fear of accountability!

(Quoted in “Aisha (rta)”, Muslim Heroes Series by Naima Sohaib. Translated by Eeman Asif Misbah, Sahar Publishers, 2006)

They were well-prepared, yet fearful. We are unprepared, yet relaxed!

Significance of a Will

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Significance of will

What is a Will (Al-Wasiya)?

Fundamentally, your will is a record of your instructions on how you want your estate to be distributed after your death. It can also include some of your other wishes, for example, directions regarding your funeral rites.

Basic Features of a Will 

There is no specific wording for a will, but it should have the following elements:

  • It must be written in sound mental ability and health – it should not be verbal.
  • It should have the declaration of Faith (Shahadah).
  • It should command the survivors to do good and avoid sins.
  • It should declare all liabilities and assets, including names and contact information for payment of liabilities and ownership of the assets.
  • It should appoint executor(s) and arbitrator(s) of the will and guardian(s) of wealth and children.
  • It should specify the legal heirs and their correct shares.
  • It should bequeath part of the estate, i.e., naming beneficiaries and indicating the amount of estate to bequeath (up to one-third of the total).
  • It must be signed, dated, notarized and signed by two witnesses in a manner provided by law.
  • It is recommended to take the advice of a lawyer, tax consultant and Islamic scholar, while drafting the will.

The following points can also be added in your will:

  • how you would like your funeral to be conducted;
  • details of distribution of your personal items;
  • desire to forgive debts, which others owe to you at the time of your death;
  • details of distribution of one-third of your estate to whomever you wish to – this may include individuals not entitled to inherit under Islamic law.

Why a Will? 

Leaving a will is a responsible act, which will ensure estate distribution to the rightful beneficiaries of your choice, thus safeguarding their interest and financial welfare. Without a will, your family, relatives and friends could face severe difficulties, disputes and bitterness. And, although you may not like it, if you don’t make a will, the law will decide for you, which may not be what you would have wished. A will not drafted according to Shariah requirements is Haram and its punishment is described by the following Quranic verses: “These are the limits (set by) Allah (or ordainments as regards law of inheritance), and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens under which river flows (in Paradise, to abide therein, and that will be the great success. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:13-14)

Benefits of a Will

Protects the Rights: It ensures that our instructions regarding our family, children, wealth, property, assets, debts and our bodies are articulated and clearly understood. It helps in protecting the rights of our kids, our families and ourselves. We don’t want to die without giving someone their rights, nor do we want to die and not have our rights given to us.

Gives Peace of Mind: It ensures that your assets are distributed to your chosen beneficiaries in the manner you desire. Plus, it avoids unnecessary family disputes, which can occur if two people wish to receive the same personal items, investments or property. There are also situations in which the inheritance is not distributed properly among the rightful beneficiaries, causing distrust and discord. “Then whoever changes the bequest after hearing it, the sin shall be on those who make the change. Truly, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Al-Baqarah 2:181)

Ensures Security of Children: Children, by legal definition, are your biological children. According to the Islamic law, legally adopted and step children are not included in this definition. If you wish them to be provided for, they need to be mentioned separately in the will. A will ensures that the future of all your loved ones is secured. If you have minor children, and you and your spouse die together, then the courts or elders may take the decision as to who looks after them, which might not be the person of your choice. By appointing legal guardians in your will, you can ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Makes Financial Sense: Making a will is a relatively straightforward decision. However, in spite of this, many people die without making one. This often causes delays, hardship and worry – and costly legal bills can result, if there is confusion and disagreement among those left behind.

Helps Less Fortunate: By leaving a gift in your will to a charitable cause, you can help not only the beneficiaries but also yourself. Sadaqah-e-Jariya (ongoing charity) is an action that continues to be rewarded after death.

Evidence from the Quran and Sunnah

“It is prescribed for you, when death approaches any of you, if he leaves wealth, that he makes a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable manners. (This is) a duty upon Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” (Al-Baqarah 2:180)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “It is the duty of a Muslim, who has anything to bequeath, not to let two nights pass, without writing a will about it.” (Malik, Bukhari, Muslim and others)

“A man may do good deeds for seventy years, but if he acts unjustly when he leaves his last testament, the wickedness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will enter the Fire. If, on the other hand, a man acts wickedly for seventy years but is just in his last will and testament, the goodness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will enter the Garden.” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah)

Other Quranic verses that contain guidance regarding inheritance are: Al-Baqarah 2:240; An-Nisa 4:7-9, 11, 19, 33; Al-Maidah 5:106-108. 

When to Make a Will? 

It is important that you make a will preferably after attainting the age of eighteen. Making a will is particularly important, if you are anticipating marriage, having a child, getting divorced or getting remarried. Also, do make a will before starting a business, leaving for Hajj, buying property, acquiring assets or making investments. It is recommended that you review and update your will every five years. Changes that should trigger a review of your will include any changes in your financial, marital, health or emotional circumstances. If you draw up a new will, you will need to destroy the old one, so as to avoid confusion in the future.


In short, it is a duty of every Muslim to make a will, and it should not to be neglected because life and death has no guarantees. Life is short. Today, we are here. Tomorrow, we may be gone. Imagine the distress that is caused to the widow or children, or leaving a near and dear destitute by not clarifying your will and by not doing it according to Shariah requirements. It would spare your family from uncertainties, disputes, bitterness and family breakdowns afterwards, as is the case with so many families today.

A Chicken Affair

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Eating HealthyBy Naheed Ansari 

Chicken with Basil

What you need

  • Boneless chicken (cut in small pieces) – 1 kg
  • Garlic (chopped) – 2 tbsp
  • Mushrooms (cut) – 4
  • Green chillies – 3
  • Basil leaves – 1 cup
  • Spring onions (chopped) – 1 cup
  • Oyster sauce – 3 tbsp
  • Soya sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Onions (medium sized / chopped) – 2

What you do

1)      Heat 1 tbsp oil; add onions and garlic.

2)      Fry a little, add chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes.

3)      Add green chillies and mushrooms.

4)      Then add oyster sauce and soya sauce.

5)      Further, add basil and spring onions.

6)      Your chicken is now ready to serve.

Chicken with Lime Spices

What you need:

  • Chicken (fillets / cut in strips) – 4
  • Olive oil – 2 tbsp
  • Lime (green / marinated) – 1
  • Coriander (ground / pounded) – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric (ground) – ½ tsp
  • Cumin (ground) – 1 tsp
  • Mint (fresh / finely chopped) – 1 tbsp
  • Pita bread (large) – 1

What you do:

1)      Marinate the chicken with lime, coriander, turmeric, cumin and mint.

2)      Fry in a griddle pan with olive oil.

3)      Serve with pita bread and salad.

Stillbirth: A Tragic Reality

Vol 6 - Issue 3 StillbirthBy Ruhie Jamshaid 

Statistics show that approximately three per cent of all births in Pakistan are stillbirths. This is a relatively astounding figure; yet, much mystery surrounds the phenomenon of stillbirth. In a third of all the stillbirths, the causes are unidentified. Since some cases might not be reported, the occurrence of stillbirths might be higher in reality. Stillbirth is technically defined as the death of a foetus during the last trimester of pregnancy, specifically in the twentieth week or later. Only fourteen per cent of stillbirths occur during delivery, whereas the majority occur before. The death of a foetus at such a late stage may prove to be far more devastating for the mother and family than a miscarriage, as the baby is almost fully developed. Since by the last trimester the mother has also felt the movements of the child, the bond between her and the child is greater, as compared to a miscarriage. 


There are several known causes of stillbirth:

Placental abruption: This is the most common cause of stillbirth, which occurs when the placenta strips away from the uterine wall resulting in the lack of oxygen for the foetus.

Chromosomal abnormalities: This is the main cause of early miscarriages. However, death of the foetus can occur at any time during the pregnancy due to chromosomal abnormalities.

Protein-S deficiency: Protein-S is a protein required to avoid blood clots. In a small percentage of pregnant women, the level of protein-S can suddenly drop during pregnancy, resulting in the clotting of blood in the umbilical cord. This can block oxygen transfer to the foetus.

Environmental factors: Malnutrition of the mother, bacterial infections (for example, listeriosis), growth retardation, cord that is tied around the neck of the foetus and physical shock can all lead to foetal death. Despite some known reasons for stillbirth, there are cases, when the cause of stillbirth remains unknown, due to no obvious signs or indications.


Pregnant women can take some precautions to lessen the possibility of stillbirth, such as balanced nutrition during pregnancy. Iodine deficiency, for example, is a known cause of stillbirth. Healthy food and good rest go a long way in safeguarding the baby.

Going for regular prenatal check-ups is also essential, especially if it is a high-risk pregnancy. Careful monitoring of a high-risk pregnancy helps to avoid stillbirth.

Monitoring the foetal movement is perhaps the best way to ensure that the baby is doing fine. After the twenty-fifth week, the pregnant mother can count the number of kicks. If ten or less kicks are recorded in a single day, help from a healthcare provider should be sought immediately.

One way to monitor the baby’s health at home is to invest in a foetal heart monitor. This allows us to ensure the presence of a heartbeat at our convenience. 


Sometimes, even despite the best efforts and care, a stillbirth can still occur. In such cases, it is important to go through the grieving period. For Muslims, having a proper burial gives the family a sense of closure. The grave of the child can serve as physical means for remembering the child. Even naming the child before burial helps the grieving family and serves in appeasing them. The family can feel comforted in the fact that they have fulfilled all their duties towards the child. Reading Surah Al-Fathiha and other Surahs of the Quran are also beneficial to the entire grieving process.

For us, as Muslims, it is important to put our faith in Allah (swt) and understand that life and death are solely in His hands. Understanding this can help us psychologically. It is also possible to try for another child, if Allah (swt) wills so. Keeping a positive outlook and faith in Allah (swt) will give the family of the deceased child the necessary strength for going through the grieving process.

Eating Healthy

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Eating HealthyBy Madeeha Akhtar 

Today, obesity is a widespread problem that inflicts numerous people across the globe. After having struck the developed world, obesity is now making its way into the developing world.

People from middle and high income groups are steadily falling prey to this debilitating condition. The diets of adults and children have gradually changed to include more of fast, fatty and junk foods. Moreover, lives have become largely sedentary and that includes children. Islam lays great emphasis on moderation. Moderation in eating can keep an individual healthy and protect him from obesity, which can further lead to: high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes.

Overeating is strongly discouraged in both the Quran and the Sunnah. The Quran says: “…eat of the Tayyibat (good lawful things) wherewith We have provided you, and commit no transgression or oppression therein.” (Ta-Ha, 20:81)

In addition to the Quran, many Hadeeths also encourage moderation. The Prophet (sa) said: “Man should fill one third (of his stomach) with food, one third with drink and leave one third for easy breathing.” (Ahmad)

To deal with obesity, slimming clinics and health clubs are springing up in various areas. They provide intensive diet plans and exercise schedules that promise as much as 12-15 lbs of weight loss per week. To speed up the weight loss even further, they also offer drugs. Such diet plans that encourage rapid weight loss are not only futile but hazardous. They often lead to such diseases as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, and, to top it all, the weight lost through such programmes is often regained. Islam provides a solution to this problem.

Fasting in Ramadan leads to gradual weight loss of about 1-2 lbs per week. This steady and measured weight loss does not present any health risks. In addition to this, the Quran and Sunnah also recommend certain foods, such as honey, dates, figs, milk and olives, for their healing properties. Here are some tips that an individual can follow to build good eating habits, loose weight gradually and sustain it. 

Never Skip Breakfast 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Our body is deprived of food the whole night and breakfast kick starts our metabolism. We might think that skipping breakfast means skipping calories, but missing breakfast puts our body into a slow mode for the entire day. 

Eat Slowly

Eating slowly enables us to enjoy every bite of our meal and also makes us feel fuller. You should try to take around fifteen to twenty minutes to finish your meal. Take the time to sit and eat, rather than wolf down everything and rush off from the table.

More Meals; Smaller Portions 

Instead of having three big meals, take six smaller portions. Following this tip, you will always feel full. The body will never starve and, hence, there will be no desire to binge on unhealthy foods. 

Eight Glasses of Water Per Day 

You should start your day with a glass of water. The water will keep you hydrated and you will feel less hungry. Water also flushes out toxins from your body, and hence, you will feel less tired. Additional water intake will also be reflected in shiny, glowing skin. 

Cut Down on Sugar 

Avoid soft drinks, chocolates and other sweets. 

Be Physically Active 

Incorporate into your daily routine such small activities as taking the stairs instead of the lift and carrying a basket in the supermarket instead of pushing the trolley. We are living in an age of technology and fast food. So, while on the one hand, we are moving lesser, on the other hand, we are eating more. Being healthy in this scenario is all about controlling your diet and increasing your physical exercise. 

Some foods that help in loosing weight are: 

  • yoghurt,
  • green tea,
  • limes and grapefruits,
  • bitter gourd,
  • watermelon.

Dealing with Hyperactive Children

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Dealing with Hyperactive

Mrs. Salma Ali was extremely perturbed and a little confused as well. She simply couldn’t understand why it was that whenever she went to pick up her four-year-old son from his Montessori, he was fast asleep. And on the days when he wasn’t asleep, he seemed quite drowsy. After engaging in some futile inquiries with his teachers, she decided to investigate further. The result was horrifying. Apparently, her son was so hyper that he just would not let the teacher conduct the class properly. Hence, the teacher made him take some sleep-inducing medicine. This would put the child to sleep, and the class would be conducted peacefully. Mrs. Salma Ali immediately removed her son from that particular school.

This, unfortunately, is the state of affairs nowadays, where most of the people are all too willing to remove the problem instead of solving it. When it comes to hyperactive children, most of the parents and teachers look towards short-term solutions. Such ‘solutions’, unfortunately, will never make the hyperactive child any more educated. On the contrary, such children remain ignorant and are held back in the lower classes, simply because they are not up to standard. Dealing with hyperactive children on an academic level involves, first and foremost, the acceptance that this particular student is hyperactive and, hence, should be treated differently than the rest. The teacher will have to recognize the signs and symptoms characteristic to a hyperactive child and then deal with him/her accordingly.
So what are those signs and symptoms? A few common ones are as follows: 

On the move

There are many students, who will sit still for at least a certain period of time before they start to get restless. The hyper ones will rarely sit still. They squirm in their chair if they are not allowed to move. They like to move around, jump about and fidget with things.

Attention deficit

It’s true that there are many students, whose attention span barely lasts an entire class period. However, you cannot make a hyperactive child listen to you for even two minutes. His/her eyes will be constantly darting around, even as you speak. These children are unable to give their full attention to anything and have a very short attention span. 

High energy level

The teacher may get tired running after a hyperactive student, but that student will never get even remotely lethargic. Hyperactive students quickly move about from one thing or another, and never seem to run out of energy. Once the teacher has established that the child is hyperactive and will disrupt the classes, he/she can take some or all of the following measures to ensure that the child is dealt with in an effective manner, and most importantly, in a manner which will be mutually beneficial to both the teacher and the student. The teacher will have a peaceful class, and the student will learn something at the end of the day. Some of the more effective measures are as follows: 

Be firm and exercise self-control

There is nothing more ‘fulfilling’ for a hyperactive student than to see an elder, whether it’s a parent or teacher, lose self-control and vent out all anger at the student. He/she will simply feel accomplished and will probably get worse. At all times, don’t let your temper bring out the worst in you. Keep calm and composed, even if you are seething inside (yes, these children can be highly irritating but there’s no reason, why they should know it is working). 

Channel the energy

If the child is hyperactive and, hence, full of energy, you as a teacher can learn, how to channel that energy into more constructive activities. Instead of consistently telling the child to sit still, you can get him/her to do tasks which involve moving about. Ask them to pin something up on the notice board, fetch the chalk, clean the black board and distribute the exercise books. If they don’t succeed in finishing that task, don’t get impatient. If they drop the books, for instance, help them gather it up and encourage them to get on with the task. 

Sense of belonging

Ignoring hyperactive children can be extremely counter productive as they are usually calling out for attention. On the other hand, if you scold them, you will be playing into their hands – what they want from you is a reaction. Therefore, instead of whiling away your energy in screaming, shouting or scolding, you can make them feel more involved in the classroom through various means. Asking them to do easy yet engaging tasks around the class will make them feel more involved and, hopefully, keep them a little busy for a while. 

Do away with lectures

Create a classroom atmosphere, which involves hyperactive students doing something rather than listening to you. Listening to a monotone voice gets unbearable, even for the average students. You can ask all your students to stand up and stretch; act out the poems they are reciting; act out the stories they are reading. The possibilities are endless and are only limited by your imagination.

Schedule your classes sensibly

If your school does not have a strict timetable, and you are allowed to set your own schedule, then make one which is conducive for the students. Don’t put mathematics and English consecutively. Separate them with art or a recess. Similarly, the attention of students is the most lax in the period before the recess, so you might like to have a lighter lesson scheduled. Keep your schedules flexible, so you can alter them according to the response and attentiveness of your students. 

The above were just some of the possibilities, which can be exercised to keep the hyperactive student in control and direct his/her energy to more constructive activities. The truth is that every child is different. What works for one might not work for another. Therefore, if there are two or more hyperactive children in one class, it might become a teacher’s worst trial. However, these children can be dealt with – it only requires some time, effort and skill. At the end of the day, if a teacher is really willing to work with these children and ensure that they graduate after having learnt something, he/she can definitely do wonders with his/her students.

Dying and Living for Allah (swt)

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Dying living for AllahBy Ayesha Nasir 

Written by: Khurram Murad

Pages: 80

Publisher: “The Islamic Foundation”

Available at: “Darussalam Publishers and Distributors,” Tariq Road, Karachi

In times of grief, you usually turn to a good book. But, the book we are talking about here is not just any book. It’s the last will of Khurram Murad, which is also known as “Dying and Living for Allah (swt)”. This beautifully written book has been translated by Syed Abu Ahmad Akif and deals well with the topic of death – a matter many are afraid to think about.

Khurram Murad was the Director General of the Islamic Foundation in United Kingdom from 1978 to 1986. He had also worked as a chief consulting engineer in Karachi, Dhaka, Riyadh and Tehran. In 1991, he became the editor of the monthly journal, Tarjuman-ul-Quran.

This book is none other than a ‘Nasihah’ as described by Professor Khurshid Ahmed who wrote the Foreword. Khurram Murad has left behind some good and potentially life-changing advice, not only for his family, but for the whole Ummah. As Mr. Ahmed mentions, this compilation is more than advice. It is a gift in the form of a will that deals with what Khurram Murad wishes to tell his people- the knowledge and truth he gained from his sixty-four years which were dedicated to the cause of the Islamic Movement and to fulfilling his duty of being a true servant of Allah (swt).

This publication has four major parts. The ‘Introduction’ deals with the importance of writing a will, and its significance in Islam. He addresses the will to his family at first, but mentions that he would not mind a public circulation of it.

The author also mentions some of the Duas he would recite before going to bed which are: “O Allah (swt), if You seize my soul, then be merciful to it”.

The first part of the book is called “Death and Sabr”. It deals with the pain and grief that comes with a person’s death upon the person’s relatives, friends and colleagues. Being a prominent individual in the Muslim community, Khurram Murad talks about how people should react when he departs this world. He suggests some steps to control the emotional and mental states while facing death of a near one.

He also talks about different levels of Sabr (patience), and how one pleases Allah (swt) by being patient in times of utmost despair. He points out that prayer is the only way to combat emotions of apprehension, anguish and sorrow.

The next chapter is called “Message for Successful Living”. Most of us have read motivational literature on how to make the best use of life, but none of us has ever written a concise document on the best way to live life to its maximum. That is exactly what Khurram Murad has done. This chapter features what Muslims should strive for: Allah’s (swt) pleasure, Jannah, following the Prophet’s (sa) way and so forth. Hence, the author tells us, how we should implement our desires into actions. Even though most of the points seem as the most basic of human virtues, many of us have forgotten, how exactly it feels to do good deeds wholeheartedly and solely for Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

The book ends with a personal message by Khurram Murad called “Journey to Fear and Hope”. When everything has been done, only one thing remains – looking forward to being brought before Allah (swt).

People die each day, and almost all of them forgotten. After their funerals, their wills are referred to because that is what they ‘legally’ leave behind for others. Khurram Murad left behind more than any family or any Ummah could ask for.

The main question that this book puts in front of us is, “Are you ready to face Him (swt)?”

Making a Business Plan

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Making a business planIn the final article of the home business series, Noorjehan Arif explains the why and how of a business plan.

Before establishing a home business, it is imperative that you create a sound business plan. A business plan is not just a concept, but it’s a way of life. It defines the why, how, what, where and when of the home business you are going to set up. The idea is to create a path and define the pros and cons of your business, along with the route you should take for developing and expanding your business.

Why Create a Business Plan

A business plan can help in various ways. A business idea is born in the head, while a business plan incubates that idea, inking the advantages, disadvantages, financial requirements, human resource requirements, projections and products and their features, among other things. Thus, your plan helps you pave the road that will help you successfully launch that idea. A business plan is also created for users other than yourself. For example, you may want to obtain funds from any large organization. In that case, the organization would like to know how sensibly you have planned out the usage of their funds. In such a case, a business plan is going to be quite helpful.

Components of a Business Plan 

A business plan consists of the following elements: 

Executive Summary 

An executive summary is going to be helpful if you want to present your plan to another person or company. It will define and summarize the very essential elements of your plan and present them in a succinct manner for those who want to glean only the basics of the business. 

Description of the Business 

This includes such details as what is the business about and why it is going to be undertaken. Analysis of the market and competition; products and services, delivery, placement and pricing; organizational structure and personnel, structure of the business (whether it is a sole proprietorship, partnership etc.); plans for marketing and advertising, financial details and production of the products or distribution of services, all become an essential part of this section.

Financial Planning

For financial planning, you would have to make different budgets, incorporating your expenses and revenue. Then, you would have to make cash flow statements to see how much in actual cash you would expect to earn and utilize. At the start of the business, startup costs and maintenance costs along with other financial aspects of business would have to be analyzed. This planning will help you evaluate the difference in the budget and the actual earning and expenses for a particular year.

Plan of Action 

Considering the range of items included in the business plan, you would need to assign a timeline to the items in order to get them done. Such time lines need to be realistic, but ambitious to help increase efficiency of the business. Additionally, it will help in streamlining the sequence and phases of the activities that need to be done.

Industry, Market and the Offerings 

It is generally helpful and interesting to conduct a small industry research on how receptive the market would be towards the service or product being launched. It may help in avoiding negative surprises later on.

The Final Word

A business plan, be it formal or informal, can be a very essential tool for establishing and running a business successfully, depending on how well it is structured and researched, and how much effort is put in it. If done properly, it can become the ultimate guide to the future of your business.