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.

Timely Justice

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Timely justice

One day, Umar (rta) was seated in Masjid Nabvi, when a man passed by saying: “O Umar! For you is the lowest level of Hell-fire.”

Umar (rta) ordered the witnesses surrounding him to bring this man to him. When the man was brought before him, Umar (rta) inquired: “Why did you say that?”

He replied: “When you appoint your rulers, you educate them regarding the principles they need to adhere to. Later on, you do not check, if they are abiding by those principles.”

Umar (rta) further inquired: “What is your complain?”

The man complained: “The ruler appointed by you in Egypt is acting against the principles you have set forth for him, and he is indulging into the forbidden.”

After listening to the entire case, Umar (rta) appointed two men from the tribe of Ansar to investigate the matter and sent them to Egypt. The investigators were to verify the issue from the common people of Egypt and bring the ruler of Egypt with them to Umar (rta) instantly, if the complaints against him were true.

Both men followed the Caliph’s orders and arrived in Egypt. They initiated their investigations and discovered that all allegations against him were true. Hence, they went to the ruler’s residence and requested to see him.

The ruler’s guard refused to let them in. The men warned the guard that they would break down the door, if not permitted to meet with the ruler. They also prepared a fire to do the same. Seeing that the matter was becoming serious, the guard quickly informed the ruler, who stepped out to meet the visitors.

The Ansaris asked the ruler to accompany them to meet Umar (rta). The ruler requested for time to take care of some business, before he could proceed for the journey. But the Ansaris informed them that they were not permitted to waste even a single moment. The ruler had to come along right away.

When the Ansaris brought the ruler to Umar (rta), the Egyptian ruler greeted the Caliph with Salam. Umar (rta) was unable to recognize the man standing before him. When he was appointed as a ruler, his complexion was quite dark; now, it was much fairer and he had put on weight as well.

Umar (rta) asked in surprise: “Who are you?”

The man replied: “I am the person, whom you appointed as the ruler of Egypt.”

Umar (rta) exclaimed: “Woe to you! You embraced what was declared forbidden for you and forgot what you were told to follow. By Allah! I will teach you a lesson you won’t forget.”

The Amir-ul-Mumineen ordered to bring a torn outfit made of wool, a stick and three hundred sheep that had been received as Sadaqah, and addressed the Egyptian ruler: “Wear this outfit, for I had seen your father wear a much more worn out garment than this one. Pick up this staff, as it is much better than the staff your father used to carry. Take these sheep to so-and-so place, where you will have to herd them.”

Umar (rta) continued: “And do not prevent any travellers from drinking the milk of these sheep, except my own family, as I do not recall permitting them to partake any milk or meat, which was donated as Sadaqah.”

As the Egyptian ruler turned to leave, Umar (rta) summoned him and asked: “Is everything clear to you?”

The ruler knelt to the ground and cried: “O Amir-ul-Mumineen! I won’t be able to carry out this task. You may chop my head off, if you so wish.”

Umar (rta) asked him: “If I reinstate you as a ruler, what will your conduct be like?”

He replied: “By Allah! From now on, you will hear only that about my conduct, which pleases you.”

Umar (rta), hence, reinstated him as the ruler of Egypt. True to his word, the man proved to be an exemplary ruler of Egypt, conducting all his affairs with Taqwa and sincerity.

Adapted from “Sunehray Faislay” published by Darussalam. Translated by Rana Rais Khan.

A Child’s Passing Away

Vol 6 - Issue 3 A child's passing awayBy Ruhie Jamshaid

A birth of a life heralds new hope and dreams for any family. A baby is truly a gift from Allah (swt), the Almighty. Sometimes, we take this gift of life for granted and forget what a blessing it can be.

October 28, 2008, is clearly etched into my memory, because then I felt the most excruciating emotional pain. I went for a routine check-up and expected the doctor to induce me, as it was also my due date. And then I received the devastating piece of news – after carrying my baby for nine long months and feeling its movements, the baby’s heartbeat could not be detected. My baby had passed away within my womb. The doctors did not have an explanation for this. At that very moment, as a shearing pain gripped my heart, I realized that human beings are absolutely nothing before the supreme will of Allah (swt).

We are aware of Allah’s (swt) will governing our every breath. However, we often forget to remember to thank Him for our lives. I had taken good care of myself throughout the pregnancy. My gynecologist expected a smooth delivery, as there were no complications at all. But it was Allah’s (swt) decree that my child would not enter this world alive.

It was difficult to implement this simple fact in practice. It was truly time for me to display the extent of my belief in Allah (swt). As I lay there in the morose labour ward waiting to hold a child, who would not be awake or cry for my milk, tears streamed down my face. The labour was painful but surely not remotely comparable to the deep-seated emotional pain I felt within me. I kept reminding myself of the following phrase:

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-156)

It was not easy to act like that at such a time. However, I knew I simply had to put my trust in Allah (swt) and go forward through the daunting labour. And then the worst thing happened – I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. She looked like she was in deep sleep. As I held her in my arms desperately trying to comfort her, I could only burst into tears. I wanted to hear her cry. I wanted to see her eyes spring open. But that was not to be the will of Allah (swt). I had to accept this fate.

I kissed her with promises to meet her in the Hereafter by the will of Allah (swt). As I handed her lifeless and limp body to my husband for burial, I could only console myself with the fact that my child was blessed enough to be entering Jannah.

Later that day, my husband bathed her and shrouded her in a white cloth. I did not attend the burial, but I kept imagining her lying there on the hard ground, and the thought was very unbearable. I needed to make sense of the whole thing. It was then that I read about Prophet Muhammad (sa) and the passing of his beloved son Ibrahim (rta). It was amazing to me how Prophet Muhammad (sa) had wept like any mortal holding the body of his beloved son, as he took his last breath. Even as tears flowed from his eyes, he said: “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything, except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.”

Seeing Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) sorrow, his companions reminded him of his commandment against indulging in self-pity after a death. Prophet Muhammad (sa) is reported to have answered: “I have not commanded against sadness, but against raising one’s voice in lamentation. What you see in me is the effect of the love and compassion in my heart for my lost one. Remember that whoever feels no compassion toward others, will not receive any compassion.”

(Quoted in The Life of Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him), By Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Translated by Ismail Razi A. Al-Faruqi, American Trush Publications, 1976)

Once again, it was easy to read about the exemplary behaviour of our great Prophet (sa) but to imbibe the same behaviour was far from easy. I reminded myself that this was a trial from Allah (swt), and sometimes trials are signs of love from the Lord, for they pull us closer to Him. This grief might actually be a gift from Allah (swt) for me. I had to be strong enough to bear it.

Explaining to my two elder children about the demise of their baby sister was not an easy task. I wondered how I should break the devastating piece of news in a way that their young minds could comprehend. Then, I remembered what some of my other friends had done, when they had lost their young children – they had simply told their children that their sibling was called by Allah (swt) to Jannah, and that he or she would be happy there, and one day they would be able to meet him or her. My children had many questions, but I used this opportunity to enhance their faith in Allah (swt). We openly talked about death but in a way a child could understand. This allowed me to introduce certain principles of Taqwa to my children.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: “If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” (Bukhari)

All of us would also sit down as a family and read Al-Fathihah, Yasin and other Surahs of the Quran. This experience had several effects on us as all:

  • we were reminded of the futility of life. Allah (swt) can take us away, if He (swt) so decreed;
  • we became more conscious in our religious practices and reminded ourselves to obey Allah (swt) more;
  • we learnt to put our utmost trust and faith in Allah (swt).

Despite the pain of any tragedy, we must remember that other people are tested by even worse circumstances and situations. As hard as it may be, we need to practice Sabr and keep our faith in Allah (swt).

“Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial for you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.” (Al-Anbiya 21:35)

This life is nothing but a test, and we need to remain steadfast in our faith and do our best to pass this test. Insha’Allah.

What’s the Big Deal?

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Idea of Remarriage

By Noorjehan Arif

Islam defines the role of men and women in very clear-cut terms, unlike what is construed by the media, other countries and sometimes even by us, Muslims. It is the ignorance of basic Islamic principles, which creates a rift between what is right in Islam and what the culture and society considers correct. And more often than not, individuals feel pressured to do what the society demands, rather than what their religion permits. One such principle is the act of re-marriage after the death of one’s spouse.

Ideally, a widow / widower has enough maturity to decide, whomever he/she wishes to re-marry. However, our society creates several problems and barriers, especially for the widows, towards their remarriage. Even divorced men and widowers sometimes face considerable issues in their remarriage.

The Sad Reality

Khurram’s wife died in a car accident. He’s about forty-five years old and decided that he should re-marry, so that his children would have a mother to take care of them. Today, he has a young wife; however, life is not easy for him. His children are against their stepmother, and Khurram’s parents believe that his wife does not like her in-laws or step children. Khurram is caught in the middle of the tussle between his wife, his children and his parents. Neither of them wants to live with the other and that is a source of considerable mental stress for Khurram.

Such are the deplorable conditions of the societal concept of re-marriage. Also, the following fears prevent the bereaved spouse from entering into another marriage.

Fear of Children

Although widowers with young children tend to get married earlier, mainly because they need someone to look after the kids, the ones with older children face many difficulties in doing the same. The older children raise a huge fuss and tend to boycott their parent for even thinking of such a thing.

Fear of Step Relations

Widows with young children can never be sure, if their second husband will really accept and provide for those, who are not his biological offspring. She also fears that the step-father may harm the children in her absence. In many cases, the widow is forced to leave her children with their grandparents, in order to get re-married. In such a scenario, the widow feels it is better to stay single for the sake of her children.

Fear of People

Gossiping relatives, skeptical colleagues and nosy, interfering neighbours can make life hell for any sane individual who gets re-married. Snide comments never stop pouring, and this fear of people and their comments is what prevents a widow or widower from even contemplating a second marriage.

The Islamic Perspective

To re-evaluate and establish the concept of remarriage in line with Islamic teachings, we have to consider the Islamic rulings regarding it.

First, there is the concept of Iddah, which is obligatory for every widow. After that, widows can re-marry, as per the following Quranic Ayah: “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, then when they have fulfilled their term, there is no sin on you if they (the wives) dispose of themselves in a just and honourable manner (i.e., they can marry). And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (Al-Baqarah 2:234)

In Islam, re-marriage of widows has been greatly emphasized. At the same time, it has also been often stated that people, who bring up orphans, are very dear to Allah (swt). This should give a very good idea, as to what is the reward for someone who gets married to a widow and supports her children from her deceased husband.

“A giver of maintenance to the widows and the poor is like a giver in the way of Allah (swt), an utterer of prayers all night and fasting during the day.” (Bukhari)

“I and the person, who brings up an orphan, will be like this in Heavens,” said Prophet Muhammad (sa), and he put his index and middle finger together. (Bukhari)

The Success Stories

Amid the gloomy circumstances, there is a small number of success stories, which show that not all is lost. Kamran, a father of three, lost his wife during the birth of his third daughter. While his sister adopted the new-born, Kamran decided to re-marry. In the beginning, his wife Sana faced a lot of difficulty, as everyone compared her with the first wife. But eventually, with her patience and sweet nature, she gained the respect of her in-laws. Today, she has three children of her own, and if you were to visit their home, you would not be able to tell that the elder two are her step-children.

Irfan’s wife passed away after a year long battle with cancer. It was Irfan’s family, which coaxed him into re-marriage, because the children were very small. He agreed, and, Alhumdulillah, the children are now well-adjusted with their new mother.  

Mass Media Blues

It is quite interesting and intriguing to note that while re-marriage of widows is a taboo in society, it is shown as a norm in many soap operas and drama serials. It isn’t uncommon to find every other storyline focusing on a happy marriage, which ends with the death of one spouse. The plot then goes on to show, how the widow gets married to the person she always wanted to marry in the first place; or, how she married the person, who always wanted to marry her. And then the whole process of adjustment continues. If the playwrights want to stretch the drama even further, they bring back the first husband from the dead. In the mass media, re-marriage is portrayed as the easiest and the most desirable thing to do.

On the other hand, the media also portrays many distorted facts related to re-marriage. The period of Iddah is grossly misreported to be forty days long, which is a grave error. One drama serial even went on to show how a pregnant widow got married before the delivery of her baby, which again is a mistake, as the Iddah of a pregnant widow ends after the baby is born. This particular drama serial did provoke some strong sentiments from the audience, but it goes without saying that the producers neither owned up the mistake, nor corrected it.

The Final Word

Widows and widowers have their own rights defined in Islam. They have the right to choose their life partner, in accordance with their own wishes, and cannot be forced into re-marriage without their consent. On the other hand, they cannot be prevented from entering into a re-marriage either. Instead of creating a huge fuss, whenever hearing about anyone’s re-marriage, one should learn to accept it and try to make things easier for the couple.

To protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned in this article, their names have been changed.