Defining the Satar

Oct 10 - Defining the SatarBy S. K. Siddiqui and Tasneem Vali

In December, 2001, Nicholas Kristof reported in the New York Times that although Afghan women were no longer required to wear the Burqa, they did so anyway. In his view, only the subjugated and backward women would choose to cover themselves. Islamic law, however, assigns it moral, social and legal dimensions. It is of utmost importance to dress correctly, because your dress is a reflection of yourself.

It is human nature to make even the simplest instruction complicated; the same has happened with Allah (swt) commandment, especially regarding a Muslim woman’s dress. If we study the fundamentals of what Allah (swt) has commanded, there are very few rules to remember – they are clearly defined in the Quran.

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah’s All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur, 24: 30-31)

1. Extent of Covering

The dress of Muslim men must cover the area from the navel to the knee, while women should cover their entire body, except for the face and hands. The area that must not be uncovered in the presence of any person, except the spouse, is called Satar. Some additional instructions are as follows:

(a) A Muslim woman cannot exhibit her beauty and adornment, except for “that which must ordinarily appear thereof”. This prohibition could include:

  • natural beauty,
  • acquired adornment (jewellery, clothes, etc.).

2. Looseness

The dress must not be tightly fitted.

3. Thickness

The clothes should not be transparent, so that the colour of skin or the shape of the body is apparent.

4. Overall Appearance

It should not attract undue attention.

In addition to the above clear requirements, there are some minor considerations:

  1. The dress should not be similar to what the opposite sex wears. Ibn Abbas (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) cursed the men who act like women, and the women who act like men. (Bukhari)
  2. The dress of a Muslim must not imitate/emulate that of another nation. Muslims have their distinct identity and must ‘wear the label’ so to say. Al-Qurtubi says: “Women in those days used to cover their heads with the Khimaar, throwing its ends on their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah (swt) commanded them to cover those parts with the Khimaar.”
  3. It should not be a dress of fame, pride and vanity. “Whoever wears a dress of fame in this world; Allah will clothe him with a dress of humiliation in the day of resurrection, and then set it afire.” (Al-Albani). At the same time, it is imperative to wear clothes that are befitting your socio-economical status – in other words, it is not right to wear rags to appear more pious.
  4. The dress must be clean, reflecting one’s concern for Taharah.

The verses in Surah An-Nur inform us about special relations known as Mahrams. These are the people in front of whom a woman may appear with her head uncovered, but the rest of her still needs to be covered. The spouse is a special case, in front of whom the other party may appear uncovered to any degree.

The basic code to follow is practicing what you preach. Allah (swt) says: “Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (As-Saff 61:3)

The rule never to break is that of decency. In every culture, the norms of decency vary, for instance, in the west, exposing your legs is not considered indecent, and in India, where wearing a Saree is common, exposing the midriff is acceptable.

However, as Muslims, we must interpret everything in the light of the Quran and Sunnah; thus, our dress and actions must follow the aforementioned conventions.

Even though Muslims might be properly covered physically, their eyes must remain open to the world. They may come across things which are Haram for them to see – they should avoid looking at them. This might include lowering the gaze when seeing a person who does not follow the Islamic dress code, exercising caution when watching TV, avoiding looking at billboards and sticking to guidelines of modesty in social interaction with the opposite sex.

Those of us armed with western education ‘know’ that it is rude not to keep eye contact with people when addressing them. However, Islam teaches that believing men and women lower their gaze to protect themselves. We need to unlearn these alien theories.

In addition to this, we should be aware that even though most of these rules apply post puberty, we have a responsibility to create awareness in our children about their bodies as soon as they become conscious of their clothing or actions. Children should be made aware that wearing certain types of clothes or acting in a certain way in front of the opposite sex is unacceptable.

Allah (swt) has given us simple and clear guidelines. It is our responsibility to follow them as closely as we can. We should avoid the trap of such excuses as – “If I cover my face, the other person will not understand what I say.” Do you see a person’s lips move, when you talk on the phone? A nun, who covers herself, is dedicated to God, but a Muslim woman who chooses to do the same, is viewed as oppressed and down trodden.

Break the shackles of your education – think with your heart’s eye! Let Allah (swt) be your sole guide.

“He of the High Desire”

The road shall go with me...

The road shall go with me…

By Maryam Sakeenah

“I will go where no road goes, and the road shall go with me.”

When I first came across this verse by Joscelyn Ortt, it occurred to me how remarkably it fitted in with the story of Ibrahim’s (as) struggle to surrender. Courageously, honest to the innate truth within the self, he sought out the truest ‘God’ – beginning with the negation of false pagan godhood, he ultimately found Allah (swt). It is fascinating to read the account of his search for the truth:

“When he (Ibrahim) saw the sun rising up, he said: ‘This is my lord. This is greater.’ But when it set, he said: ‘…Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifa, and I am not of Al-Mushrikun…’ And that (faith) was Our Proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly, Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.” (Al-Anam 6:78-83)

Ibrahim (as) brings together in his person honesty and courage to proclaim it loud and clear. He attained the truth through his lone, relentless struggle and rejected once and for all whatever impeded the way to his Lord. He fearlessly showed that truth to the world with all his passion. The Quran quotes Ibrahim (as), while addressing those who rejected the truth:

“Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; and it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; and Who will cause me to die, and then will bring me to life (again); and Who, I hope will forgive my faults on the Day of Recompense.” (Ash-Shuara 26:78-82)

Taking the road less travelled demands strength, persistence and honesty. Only the Hanif (uni-focal) can triumphantly go through the trials it involves and ascend to a higher realm of the contented self (Nafs-e-Mutmainna). Ibrahim’s u struggle was a struggle to win Islam (peace through submission). This struggle began with the negation of false gods (La Ilaha) and led the soul on to a recognition and acceptance of the only truth that brought with it the peace of Ill Allah.

“When his Lord said to him: ‘Submit (i.e. be a Muslim!)’ He said: “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Baqarah 2:131)

Having internalized this faith and lived it out with his person, Ibrahim (as) becomes the embodiment of Tauhid.

“Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah’ (a leader having all the good righteous qualities) or a nation, obedient to Allah, Hanifa (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not among those who were Al-Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and those who joined partners with Allah). (He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) Graces. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to the Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism, neither Judaism nor Christianity).” (An-Nahl 16:120-121)

For when the sweetness of Iman is tasted, nothing else satisfies, nothing else fulfills. Ibrahim (as) was possessed by this single idea, which gave meaning to his life and which enlightened, elevated, enriched and purified. Ibrahim’s u faith in and love for Allah (swt) rings through his beautiful prayers:

“My Lord! Bestow Hukman (religious knowledge, right judgement of the affairs and Prophethood) on me and join me with the righteous; and grant me an honourable mention in the later generations; and make me one of the inheritors of the Paradise of Delight.” (Ash-Shuara 26:83-85)

The achievement of the contented self brings out the soul in all the richness, beauty and grandeur that human nature is capable of, till the exclusive title Ahsan-i-Taqweem (the best of all creation) is earned and Allah (swt) Himself bears testimony of it:

“Salamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim (Abraham)! Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves.” (As-Saffaat 37:109-111)

The faith of the contented self expresses itself in ways larger than life, much greater than what is humanly understandable. The patience of Ibrahim (as) in the trials he went through and his exemplary sacrifices were such an expression of the faith of the contented self, the intensity of which transcends the limitations of historical time. Ibrahim’s u faith broke free from the tethers that bind man to the pettiness of the minimal self (Nafs-e-Ammara) – from base desires and egoistic impulses.

Allah (swt) reciprocates, blesses and preserves the glorious deeds of His righteous slaves. Hence, Ibrahim (as), having triumphed over all of life’s trials, received the boundless love of His Lord. The mention of Ibrahim (as) in the Quran resonates with love of the Speaker, the Lord of Ibrahim (as).

“And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follows Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism); and he is a Muhsin (a good-doer). And follows the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism – to worship none but Allah Alone). And Allah did take Ibrahim (Abraham) as a Khalil (an intimate friend).” (An-Nisa 4:125)

“Verily, Ibrahim (Abraham) was, without doubt, forbearing, used to invoke Allah with humility and was repentant (to Allah all the time, again and again).” (Hud 11:75)

Ibrahim (as) was blessed with leadership, honour and respect. He is revered as the patriarch of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim people, from whom all monotheistic faiths spring forth. And yet, the position of Ibrahim (as) in Islam is unique. The pristine Tauheed of Islam, which accepts no resemblance of Shirk in any manifestation, is the continuation of the mission of Ibrahim (as). Allah (swt) insists in the Quran to follow the religion of Ibrahim, the pure monotheistic tradition:

“… it is the religion of your father Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism).” (Al-Hajj 22:78)

Even before Islam, the Arabs were conscious and proud of their Abrahamic ancestry. Despite the corruption of polytheism and many rampant social ills, the concept of the one God of Ibrahim (as) was part of Arab tradition in one form or another. Islam purified, reinstated and revived that Abrahamic faith with its simple declaration of La ilaha il Allah (no god but Allah) and, hence, has a legitimate claim of being a consummation of the Abrahamic mission.

It will not be an overstatement to say that the ritual of Hajj is in many ways a commemoration of the extraordinary life and struggle of Ibrahim (as) and his family. It celebrates the edifying legacy of Ibrahim (as), who had prayed:

“Our Lord! Make us submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation submissive unto You … send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and indeed Allah answered their invocation by sending Muhammad e, who shall recite unto them Your verses and instruct them in the Book (this Quran) and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom of Prophethood, etc.) and sanctify them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:128-129)

The rituals of Hajj immortalize Ibrahim’s u faith and privilege the believers to take of the immensity of that boundless treasure. The Kabah itself speaks of Ibrahim’s u faith and his belief in the oneness of God.

M. Asad writes: “Never had I felt so strongly as now, before the Kabah, that the hand of the builder (Ibrahim) had come so close to his religious conception. In the utter simplicity of a cube, in the complete renunciation of all beauty of line and form, spoke this thought: ‘Whatever beauty man may be able to create with his hands, it will be only conceit to deem it worthy of God; therefore, the simplest that man can conceive is the greatest that he can do to express the glory of God.’… Here, in the Kabah, even the size spoke of human renunciation and self-surrender; the proud modesty of this structure had no compare in the world.”

Each time the pilgrim performs a ritual, he experiences again for a blessed moment that edifying legacy and revives within him again – in a minuscule proportion – that spirit. When he prays at the Maqam-e-Ibrahim, he as a monotheist reaffirms his association with Ibrahim (as), the Haneef, and realizes how the passionate faith of “those of the high desire” is immortalized by the Immortal, how the footsteps in the sands of time remain, leading, guiding, enlightening and blessing – always showing the way, the Sirat-al-Mustaqeem; going where no road goes, taking the road with them.

The Art of Complimenting

Oct 10 - The Art of Complimenting

“You look amazing!”

“Your eyes are so beautiful!”

“Masha’Allah, what a beautiful house!”

“You delivered this Dars so effectively!”

“I don’t think anybody can cook as well as you do!”

Sounds familiar? I’m sure it does, because either we hear such words from someone or say them to others.

Today, praise is the shortest route to popularity. Be generous with compliments and you are that person’s ‘bestie.’ Criticize, even if sincerely and positively, and you may be thought of as jealous. But is praising an Islamically accepted social exercise? One of the attributes of Allah (swt) is Ash-Shakoor – the Appreciative. As humans, we do need to appreciate others and at times, also need appreciation and encouragement. But how and why are important questions for a Mumin.

Everyone loves a sincere compliment or encouragement. But often encouragement moves on to become praise and exaggerated adulation. Although all the mentioned words are similar, they do have very different meanings. ‘Appreciation’ means ‘a favourable critical estimate, a sensitive awareness or an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude’. ‘Praise’ can mean anexpression of approval, commendation or admiration; but it can also mean the extolling or exaltation of a deity, ruler or hero. ‘Adulation’, however, goes a step further and means ‘excessive or slavish admiration or flattery.’

There is no doubt that Allah (swt) wants us to be appreciative and express gratitude. But in Islam, gratitude is expressed in the form of giving back something in return – a sincere Dua! The Prophet (sa) showed his appreciation for one of his generous hosts by giving him prayers of Barakah. Often, he showed appreciation not in words but by eating what someone got for him or wearing what was gifted to him. In the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, we do not see the exaggerated praise that people often shower on each other nowadays. In fact, according to Sunnah, excessive praise is not healthy, because our Muslim brother or sister can start losing humility. This is why praise even in matters of Taqwa can give a person a false sense of Kibr (arrogance), which can be detrimental to one’s Iman.

The Prophet (sa) did encourage his companions many a times. He praised the Haya (modesty) of Usman Ibn Affan (rta) and the Ilm and intelligence of Aisha Bint Abu Bakr (rta). He gave the title of the ‘sword of Allah’ to Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta) for his bravery in the battlefield. He acknowledged the natural gift of a beautiful, strong voice Bilal Ibn Abi Rabah (rta) had by making him the first Muadhin (caller to prayers) of Islam. Abi Musa Al-Ashari (rta) was praised for his beautiful recitation of the Quran, and the women of Ansar were praised for the fact that they were not shy to ask questions for learning matters of Deen.

Intense admiration can sometimes result in Nazar (evil eye), as we see in this Hadeeth: Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab that Abu Umama Ibn Sahl Ibn Hunayf said: “Amir Ibn Rabia saw Sahl Ibn Hunayf taking a Ghusl and said: ‘I have not seen the like of what I see today, not even the skin of a maiden, who has never been out of doors.’ Sahl fell to the ground. The Messenger of Allah (sa) was approached, and it was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, can you do anything about Sahl Ibn Hunayf? By Allah, he can not raise his head.’ He said: ‘Do you suspect anyone?’ They said: ‘We suspect Amir Ibn Rabia.’” He continued: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) summoned Amir and was furious with him and said: ‘Why does one of you kill his brother? Why did you not say ‘may Allah bless you’? Do Ghusl for it.’ Amir washed his face, hands, elbows, knees, the end of his feet, and inside his lower garment in a vessel. Then he poured it over him, and Sahl went off with the people, and there was nothing wrong with him.” (Muwatta Imam Malik)

The one common factor that we see in the method of complimenting adopted by the earlier prophets, Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his companions is that the credit for any Khair (any praiseworthy attribute) is given to Allah (swt). A Mumin is well aware of the fact that all praise belongs to Allah (swt), Who is the source of all good. Isa (as) is reminded in the Quran that all the miracles he was able to perform were by the Izn (permission) of Allah. In Surah Yusuf, Prophet Yusuf (as) gives the credit to Allah (swt) for the gift of being able to interpret dreams and being able to resist a beautiful woman’s advances. The realization; that all good is actually from Allah (swt) makes a person humble.

In the light of Islamic principles, the following ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of complimenting would be useful to observe:


  1. Encourage and appreciate, where appreciation is due.
  2. Appreciate the people closest to you. Often, we forget to appreciate our families, colleagues and servants, but praise people in our outer circle of friends and acquaintances.
  3. Make special effort to appreciate your spouse, children and parents in particular.
  4. Make sure that your appreciation or praise is genuine and true.
  5. Make sure that your appreciation is to the point.
  6. Appreciate where you think it will encourage a person to do further good. For example, when a child has started to pray or recite the Quran beautifully or when a sister has started wearing the Hijab.
  7. Check your Niyyah (intention) when you praise someone. Is it just so you can become popular? Is it just because you are in that habit? Will it help that person do further good?
  8. Find other creative ways, besides verbal praise, to show encouragement. Sometimes a smile, a single gesture or a gift can say more than words.
  9. Be careful about what you are praising. Rather than praising such inborn qualities as good looks, it is preferable to appreciate a good deed or a good habit someone has acquired, so that they may continue it.
  10. Always say “Masha’Allah La Quwwata Illa Billah” or “Tabaarakallah”, when you like something.


  1. Avoid exaggeration in your praise, so that it doesn’t become an attempt to feed the ego and doesn’t border on adulation.
  2. Refrain from praising someone all the time, unless it would encourage them to continue a good deed.
  3. Don’t praise someone on doing something that displeases Allah (swt) or is forbidden in our Deen. For instance, appreciating the dress of a Muslim woman, who is not observing Hijab/Purdah.
  4. Don’t praise unless it is the truth.
  5. Avoid praising someone in his/her presence all the time!
  6. Never use praise as a social crutch to become popular.
  7. Don’t compliment someone with such adulation that they get afflicted with Nazar (evil eye). Instead, do Dua for them.
  8. Refrain from praising someone, even your children, excessively, as that person may start doing things to fish out praise, rather than for Ajar (reward) from Allah (swt).

As for when someone praises us, the Dua we are supposed to recite is: “O Allah, do not make me account for what they say and forgive me for what they have no knowledge, and make me better than they imagine.” (Bukhari)

The Vanity Affair

Oct 10 - The Vanity AffairBy J. Samia Mair

Raising children to be knowledgeable, practicing Muslims poses many challenges. The Internet, television, movies and the iPod inundate children with visual and auditory messages, often competing and being contrary to Islamic values.

Technology alone, however, cannot be blamed. Long before this communication revolution, Muslim children were learning un-Islamic values. Since the time of our beloved Prophet (sa), may Allah (swt) bless him and grant him peace, cultural beliefs and practices have seeped into the Deen, often masquerading as authentic teachings.

No one should be surprised that purity of belief and practice is deteriorating, and holding onto the Deen is becoming increasingly difficult. The Prophet (sa) stated: “Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim)

“You are in a time when, whoever abandons a tenth of what he has been ordered, he is ruined. Then, there will come a time in which whoever does a tenth of what he has been ordered shall be saved.” (At-Tirmidhi)

One of the areas, where this is evident, is the emphasis placed on beauty. Worldwide, the beauty industry accounts for$500 billion of revenues a year. It has been forecasted that the global market for cosmetic surgery will reach $40 billion by 2013. Plastic surgery in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has skyrocketed over the past decade. An Associated Press article (August, 2009) noted that there are thirty-five plastic surgery centres in Riyadh alone. The most popular surgeries among women are liposuction, breast augmentations and nose jobs, while men opt for hair implants and nose jobs.

Plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons presents a problem. Despite reported Fatwahs drawing the line between Islamically acceptable and unacceptable surgeries, it is hard to deny where things are heading.

But one does not need a cosmetic surgery to become infected with the beauty pandemic. A look at some Muslim fashion magazines and Islamic clothing websites tells its own story. Although the models have properly covered their Awrah, some are breathtakingly beautiful and stylish, completely defeating the purpose of not drawing attention to one’s beauty publicly.

Advertisements for marriage reveal the inordinate emphasis placed on fair skin. A few representative examples are copied below:

“Attractive well-established South Asian Sunni Muslim guy seeks a light-skinned South Asian Sunni Muslim girl…”

“…I am 34, single and never married, graduate [Kashmiri female]…5 ft 5.5 inches tall, very slim and very fair, considered to be very attractive by most people…”

While equating fair skin with beauty is not exclusive to Muslim cultures, the emphasis on fair-skinned mates raises issues in Islam. The Prophet (saw) reminded us in his farewell sermon:

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black, nor a black has any superiority over white, except by piety and good action.”

It is reasonable to pay special attention to what our beloved Prophet (saw) chose to emphasize in his farewell sermon. Judging someone by their skin tone is clearly discouraged.

This does not mean that physical appearance is not a consideration when choosing a mate. Both Bukhari and Muslim report similar versions of the following Hadeeth:

“A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property, her rank, her beauty and her religion; so get the one who is religious and prosper.”

Thus, beauty is a legitimate consideration, but certainly does not take precedence. The Quran and Sunnah repeatedly stress that one’s inner beauty is what ultimately counts. For example, the Prophet (sa) has stated: “Verily, Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth, but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.” (Muslim)

And this is where parental responsibility comes in. Muslim parents need to teach their children that while it is okay to appreciate physical beauty, stress should be placed on a person’s character.

To this end, drawing attention and comparing children’s looks should be avoided. It would be highly inappropriate, for example, to discuss with another parent, especially in the presence of a child, that you think a particular child is so cute, while another child is unattractive. Parents should teach their children not to identify others by appearance, avoiding such words as dark, fat, ugly, etc. And the first step in this lesson is for parents to practice what they preach.

Pick up almost any book on child rearing, and experts will stress that children should not be labelled. When children are repeatedly called ugly, stupid or clumsy, they come to believe it with hurtful and destructive consequences. A child, who believes that he or she is stupid, will give up on intellectual efforts, and a child, who thinks of himself as clumsy, may avoid activities that require agility. A child identified as ugly is likely to develop low self-esteem, possibly leading to permanent emotional and physical trauma and potentially life-threatening behaviour.

Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Ugly Duckling” concerns a homely, young bird that matures into a graceful, beautiful swan. It is a tale of personal transformation – a transformation resulting from nature, not effort. By contrast, the human story of “The Ugly Duckling” entails personal struggle with one’s base desires or ‘the greater Jihad’ as a famous Hadeeth states.

“An old woman came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, pray for me that I will enter Paradise.’ He replied [jokingly]: ‘O mother of so-and-so, old women will not enter Paradise.’ The woman turned to go, weeping, but then the Prophet (sa) recited: ‘We have created them in new creation and made them virgins; faithful lovers, equal in age.’ (Al-Waqiah 56:35-37).” (At-Tirmidhi)

Islam teaches us the difference between ephemeral and eternal beauty. It teaches us that we are all ugly ducklings with the potential to become magnificent swans.

What does a Beautiful Soul look like?


By Ruhie Jamshaid

It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In Islam, however, Allah (swt) sets for us certain guidelines to live and decide by, so that personal human opinions are not involved. Even true beauty is defined in our religion. While in today’s world we fancy silken hair, fantastic figures, beautiful clothes and plastered make-up as the epitomes of great beauty, in Islam, the meaning of true beauty is understood to be something else.

In Islam, beauty of the soul is greatly emphasized over the outer, physical beauty. Therefore, the saying “beauty isn’t skin-deep” is absolutely true. The Quran and the Sunnah repeatedly remind us to avoid Tabarruj or the outer display of beauty.

Allah (swt), being our Creator, is All-Aware of the path to our happiness. Logically speaking, if we (men or women) are consumed by looking physically attractive in a culture of ‘showing-off,’ the development and beautification of our inner souls will inevitably suffer. For instance, we will be consumed with the desire of having lovely hair and spend hours enhancing its beauty, instead of spending that time and effort in uplifting our souls through Dhikr and prayers, or attending to our primary responsibilities, which is also a form of worship. And if we look at the total time involved in embellishing the beauty of such outwardly displayed body parts as eyes, skin and figure, we can well imagine how time-consuming the entire process would be!

Natural beauty, like all other good things, is a blessing bestowed upon us by Allah (swt), and we must appreciate it. It is good to look after ourselves and take care of our physical self. However, it is important to remember that inner beauty is far more permanent than any excellence in external appearance. Time ravages the outer beauty, but a beautiful soul will remain beautiful forever! Therefore, if Allah (swt) has granted us great outer beauty, we must appreciate this blessing. On the Day of Judgement, we will be questioned about it. Did we use this beauty to achieve wrongful means? Did we display it outlandishly and disobey Allah (swt) in the process?

Interestingly, it is no secret that physical beauty attracts others towards us, even if we are not overtly displaying it and are within the confines of the Hijab. If we have been bestowed with pleasant features, it is often easier for us to gain friends and, perhaps, do Dawah more effectively. Hence, we can use the gift of natural beauty to enhance our inner selves and further the cause of Allah (swt)!

We must always remember that the glamorous celebrities or the stunning friends or relatives we might admire are not necessarily more valued in the eyes of Allah (swt) than an average looking individual. Outer beauty as the yardstick for measuring our personality is set by humans, not Allah (swt).

This life, as we know, is temporary. With death being our ultimate fate, it is simply more sensible to spend a larger proportion of time on beautifying our souls for a better hereafter, than spend the same amount of time on enhancing our physical body, which we will leave behind in this Duniya! When life will seep out of us at the point of death, our physical beauty will probably be the least of the concerns. In fact, it will be the beauty of the soul, which will decide the ease of our passing into the hereafter.

It will be this beauty that will confer us a place in Jannah. And when Allah (swt) decrees for us to be the inhabitants of Jannah (Insha’Allah), our beauty will increase manifold.

Hence, in this lifetime, we must strive to obey Allah (swt) and do good deeds, because it will be our beautiful hearts (Qalb-e-Saleem) and not our physical attributes which will be the winners in the hereafter!

The Meaning of Good Character

character-traitsA speech by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani at Masjid Bait-ul-Mukarram

In common parlance, character is said to be good conduct with other people. In Shariah, it has a very wide meaning and besides these things, it also refers to compassion and the conditions of the heart in terms of the sentiments and desires that grow in it. These manners can be good or bad, depending on the kind of sentiments. It is a significant part of the Shariah that man corrects his manners and reforms the sentiments that grow in his heart.

Check your instincts

Every person possesses certain natural instincts in his heart. Everyone has the potential to become angry, lustful and egoistic. These are instinctive qualities present in the heart and they vary in degree from person to person. One must keep them in check and to keep them in check is to possess good character. As long as they are in balance, it is a good sign. If they are below or above moderation, it means the character needs to be corrected. 


Allah (swt) has created the instinctive sentiment of anger in every person – it is a natural instinct. It is also a necessary trait, for if anyone lacks the sentiment of anger, then he cannot defend himself. If anyone attacks another person unjustly and he does not react in the least, it means his sentiment of anger is below the balance. If someone attacks a man’s father or wife, and he quietly watches him, not feeling angry at all, he is a coward and there is no room in Shariah for such a person.

We have to use anger at the right place. “Fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you, and let them find harshness in you.” (At-Tawbah 9:123) Anger used at the right place is praiseworthy and is a sign of good manners.

Anger should be used within limits. Do not overdo it. Display only so much anger as is necessary. If your children do wrong and do not heed your advice and warnings, then your anger must be directed at a proper place. No doubt, their conduct has called for it. However, if you beat them so much that you disfigure them, it means you have exceeded the limits.

The limits of anger are determined by Shariah. The Prophet (sa) said: “When a child is seven years old, teach him the Salah, so that he is accustomed to it in childhood.” He is not to be beaten at this age.  “When he is ten and he does not offer the Salah, then you may beat him.” Thus, the limit is determined. He e also said: “Do not hit him on the face. And do not give him a beating that leaves marks on the body.”  This is the limit set by the Prophet (sa), who made everything very clear.

Self-respect and arrogance

No man wishes to be disgraced before others; rather, every one desires to be respected as a Muslim and a human being. This sentiment is praiseworthy, because Shariah forbids us to disgrace ourselves. Without a sense of self-respect, a man is like a toy in the hands of the other and anyone can disgrace him. However, if this sentiment increases beyond limit, and he regards himself as superior to other people, it means that he is arrogant. Thus, if a rich man looks down upon a poor hawker, then he is arrogant and has transgressed the limits of self-respect. Arrogance is such an evil trait that Allah (swt) detests it more than any other evil in man.

Arrogance is the root of all evil that breeds such other evils as jealousy, hatred and so on. This is why the Quran says that success awaits those who purge their character of these evils. They must display anger only where necessary and within limits. They must observe self-respect within limits and must not be arrogant. They must be sincere in whatever they do, without being ostentatious. This is the true purification of character, to teach which the Prophet (sa) was sent.

Pious companionship

The method for purifying the character is the same as adopted by the Prophet (sa) and his companions. It is pious companionship. The Sahabah had the company of the Prophet (saw) and their manners were moderate and balanced. They entrusted themselves to him, resolving to mould their lives according to what they heard from him and saw him do, and to obey him in whatever he said. He observed each of them and learnt of their lives and sometimes they told him of their experiences and feelings. He would advise them on what they should do and how far they could go. Soon they had the same manners as he had brought.

In the pre-Islamic days, the Sahabah were very short-tempered. They sought lame excuses to start wars, which would last for a long time, sometimes as much as forty years. But, with the Prophet’s (sa), association they transformed into mild-tempered people, who expressed their anger only where it was necessary and within limits.

Umar Ibn al-Khattab (rta) of the Jahiliyah was known for his anger. He had rushed out of his home once to put an end to the Prophet’s (sa) life because of the new religion he had brought. But, before he could meet the Prophet (sa), Allah (swt) enabled him to hear verses of the Quran, which made him turn over a new leaf. He met the Prophet (sa) and presented his life for Islam.

The Sahabah used the same method with their successors and students (The Tabieen). In their turn, the Tabieen used it with their students (the Taba Tabieen).

Hence, we too should improve our manners and keep the company of those, who are friends of Allah (swt), who have fear of Allah (swt) in their hearts; those, who think about the hereafter and whose manners are clean and bright.

Adapted (with permission) from “”Extracts from Discourses on Islamic Way of Life to Preach and Practice” (Collection of Speeches) By Justice (R) Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani published by Darul Ishaat. 

The Highs and Lows of Modesty

Oct 10 - Highs and lows of modesty

Balzac described modesty as “the conscience of the body.” In Islam, the term Haya (modesty) means ‘to be alive.’ It has been derived from the word Hayat, which stands for ‘life.’ In the Arabic language, Haya is also used for rain, freshness or greenery that beautifies its surroundings.

The life of one’s heart is associated with Haya. If one’s heart is deprived of Haya, it dies. The by-product of Haya is alertness, liveliness and a fully functioning conscience. We can understand it better by considering someone who is in a state of slumber or death.

Such person is oblivious to the surroundings, whether evil or good. The same happens when we are deprived of Haya.

What does Haya bring with it? It brings an overall goodness in one’s relations with the Creator as well as the creation. Following are its types:

Haya Taqseer

It means to admit one’s inadequacy in serving Allah (swt). A good example is of the angels, who do not spare a moment away from Allah’s worship and obedience. Yet, on the Day of Judgement, out of humility they will regret their ineffectiveness and insufficiency in submitting to the Lord (swt). This is a pivotal lesson for humans to learn.

Haya Un Nafs

This is a high category of modesty, when one is unable to face himself after sinning. The person places a system of checks and controls on himself. And when he slips, he reprimands himself and feels embarrassed to confront his own errors. A state of unrest is created within him/herself until he/she asks for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and maybe, cries out in repentance.

Haya in Nature

Allah (swt) has placed a barometer inside every human being, regardless of faith or race. It is an instant reaction for him to hide his faults and cover his body out of modesty. When Adam (as) and Hawa (as) disobeyed Allah (swt) due to Shaitan’s trickery, and their shame became manifest to them,they instantly tried to screen themselves with tree leaves – no one had told them to cover up. That was an inbuilt impulse or reaction, as their faith was still alive.

Allah (swt) forbid, if someone becomes negligent or oblivious to this sense – it means that his Fitrah (natural disposition) is marred. He deserves our sympathy, as he is in Shaitan’s control. This level of Haya also distinguishes between humans and animals, and discredits Darwin’s theory that man has evolved from apes.

Haya in Religion

This means to give up evil for pleasing Allah (swt) – to stand guard against sins. It also entails bearing the quality of Haya, which prompts a person that Allah (swt) is watching. A person having such Haya is embarrassed and bashful to let down his Lord.

Haya in the Life of the Prophet (sa)

It is said about our beloved Prophet (sa): “He was far more modest than an untouched spinster, who stays behind a veil.” (Bukhari) Even the sight of sin or an ill-spoken word was enough to change the colour of his face. Such was his repulsion for evil.

“Haya is all the way goodness (Khair).” (Muslim)

“Immodesty blemishes and modesty beautifies.” (At-Tirmidhi)

“Haya, an inner control, and modesty in one’s talk are two branches of faith, while ill talk and excess in talk are signs of hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi) The Prophet (sa) only talked as per necessity. His conversation was always clear, concise and courteous. On some occasions in life, he even taught the companions simply by staying silent.

When we are in debt to someone or burdened by a favour, we always feel obliged and ashamed. This is the kind of emotion we need to create within ourselves. We have to acknowledge what the Lord has granted us and keeps on granting, whether we ask Him or not. We should feel embarrassed to disobey Him out of gratitude and feel the boulder of blessings upon our shoulders. That will be a state of Haya.

Abu Masood narrated that Prophet (sa) said: “The teachings brought by the messengers of the past included that if you become void of modesty, do as you please.” (Bukhari) It almost sounds as if Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) disown such an individual, who adopts the attitude that screams out loud: “I don’t care!” In such a case, he is also deserted and left humiliated like the Shaitan.

How can we develop this quality?

Modesty is a culture and a lifestyle. Adoption of this wondrous quality gives birth to responsibility, sobriety, depth in thoughts, accountability and reflection. You can embrace Haya through the following suggested actions:

  1. Make sincere Dua for yourself. Admit to Allah (swt) that you have been immodest in the past. Ask Him to accept your repentance and guide you to the straight path.
  2. Be mindful of Allah’s (swt) presence, when thinking of or indulging in sin. Remember His Blessings, Majesty and Might.
  3. Haya is not simply a result of gaining knowledge about the Deen. It evolves gradually. Spend time in the company of noble and modest companions. Observe them in silence.
  4. If you tend to be an ill-tempered person, control your foul language. Learn to bite your tongue. Walk away from the scene which is provoking you. Ask someone to record what you say, if your memory fails when you are angry.
  5. Work on your language. Use beautiful words with sincerity more often in order to develop a habit of using them regularly and unconsciously.
  6. List your most commonly used hate words or phrases such as: shut up, are you crazy? Consciously resolve not to use them.
  7. If you are a great TV fan, try to cut down the viewing time of frivolous programmes. Engage in other activities that you enjoy.
  8. If you are a late night viewer, try to begin your day at Fajr, so that by nightfall you are too tired to plop yourself before the screen.
  9. Try not to undress completely even in private moments, as Hadeeth tell us that Shaitan has the power to see us.
  10. Maintain a strict dress code (Satar) even in the presence of the same gender, especially when you go for a dip in the pool, beauty salon or spa.
  11. Being a lady, if you fancy wearing sleeveless shirts, ensure that you satisfy your cravings within your home, with friends or before your Mahrams only. For outdoors, wear an Abaya over it or in case you haven’t started wearing one, make sure that you cover your entire Satar with loose fitting clothes.
  12. While walking in a mixed crowd or Bazaar, keep your gaze low or away from the opposite gender.
  13. Your mannerisms shouldn’t invite public attention, such as a loud voice, giggling or arguing.
  14. Maintain a distance from the opposite gender whenever you come in contact with them. Whenever you speak to them, adopt a business-like tone, and be to-the-point.
  15. Remember! Haya is not just about clothes and covering up. It is a way of life and the lifeline of your Iman!

“Allah (swt) is beautiful and He loves beauty” (Muslim)

Oct 10 - Allah swt is beautiful

When studying other religions, one realizes what a blessing Islam is, for it does not associate religiosity with depriving the human nature of its natural urges. In fact, Islam encourages its followers to adorn themselves, when worshipping Allah (swt):

“O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying…” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Furthermore, in the next verse, Allah (swt) says:

“Say ((O Muhammad (sa)): ‘Who has forbidden the adoration with clothes given by Allah, which He has produced for his slaves, and At-Taiyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) things] of food?’” (Al-Araf 7:32)

Therefore, Muslims should bear in mind that Islam does not associate piety with a dishevelled appearance.

During the time of the Prophet (sa), people beautified themselves in various ways – some were encouraged and retained by Islam, whilst other forms were prohibited, as they were repugnant to the human nature.

For instance, during the time of the Prophet (sa), people used to dye their hair. Jabir Ibn Abdullah (rta) reported that Abu Quhafah (rta) was brought on the day of the conquest of Makkah, and his head and beard were white like Thaghamah (a plant whose flowers and fruit are white). The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Change this with something, but avoid black.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) is also reported to have said: “The Jews and the Christians do not dye their hair, so differ from them.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) also recommended which dye to use. Abu Dharr (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “The best things, with which to change grey hair, are henna and Katam (a plant similar to henna, which is used as a dye).” (At-Tirmidhi)

From another Hadeeth, we know that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has hair should care about it.” (Abu Dawood)

Ata Ibn Yasser (rta) reported that a man came to the Prophet (sa), when he was in the mosque, with uncombed hair and an untidy beard. The Prophet (sa) pointed at him, as if ordering him to fix his hair and beard. He did so and returned. Thereupon, the Prophet (saw) observed: “Isn’t this better than one of you coming with his hair uncombed, as if he was a devil?” (Malik in Al-Mawatta)

Whilst reading the Ahadeeth, one gets an insight into the fashion and styles prevalent in that age. For instance, men and women used to shave their heads. The Prophet (sa) allowed men to shave all their heads but made it Makruh (disliked) for women to do so. Ali t said: “The Prophet (sa) told the women not to shave their heads.” (An-Nasai)

He also instructed the men not to shave portions of their heads and leave portions. Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) told us not to have the Qaza haircut [shaving some portions and keeping some].” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) saw a boy, whose head was partially shaved, and told the people not to do so and said: ‘Shave it all or leave it all.’” (Abu Dawood)

Likewise, men used to wear pure silk and gold. Although silk and gold were prohibited for men, they were allowed for women. From a Hadeeth we learn that the Prophet (sa) took silk in his right hand and gold in his left, and said: “These two are Haram (prohibited) for the males among my followers.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nasai and Ibn Majah)

People also used perfume to adorn themselves. One of the sons of Umm Atiyya (rta) died, and on the third day, she asked for a yellow perfume, put it over her body and said: “We were forbidden to mourn for more than three days, except for our husbands.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) encouraged the use of perfume: “Whoever is offered some perfume should not refuse it, because it is light to wear and has a good scent.” (Abu Dawood and An-Nasai)

He always used to accept perfume when presented to him. (Bukhari)

In fact, the Prophet (sa) rebuked people who ate raw legumes and threatened to exclude them from approaching the mosques due to the unpleasant odour that they carried.

Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah (rta) reported: “Whoever has eaten from this malignant tree should not approach our mosque, until its smell completely vanishes.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibban)

Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has eaten garlic should not approach our mosque.” (Bukhari and Muslim) A foul breath is indeed a matter of great discomfort for people around.

Women used to wear earrings and bangles. On Eid day, when the Prophet (sa) preached about giving charity, women started giving their fore-arm bangles and earrings. (Bukhari) It was also a practice to apply Kohl in the eyes.

Umm Atiyya (rta) narrated from the Prophet (sa): “It is not lawful for a lady, who believes in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, to mourn for more than three days for a dead person, except for her husband, in which case she should neither put Kohl in her eyes, nor perfume herself, nor wear dyed clothes, except a garment of Asb.” (Bukhari)

In order to enhance their beauty, women used to pluck their eyebrows, widen and sharpen their teeth, tattoo their skins and attach hair pieces and wigs to lengthen their hair. The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has cursed the Washimat and the Mustawshimat [tattooers and the tattooed], the Namisat and the Mutanammisat [those who pluck eyebrows and those whose eyebrows are plucked], and the Mutafallijat [those who widen the gaps between their teeth] for beauty, who change what Allah has created.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

In another Hadeeth, the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has cursed the Wasilah and the Mustawsilah [those women who make wigs and hairpieces, and those who wear them].” (Bukhari)

However, if a woman has some obtrusive hairs on her face, which are a problem and an embarrassment for her, she may remove them. Aisha y was approached by the young wife of Abu Ishaq. She wished to remove her facial hairs in order to look beautiful for her husband. Aisha y advised her to do so. (At-Tabarani)

In all ages, men and women have paid attention to their personal appearance and spent time, money and effort in beautifying themselves. However, it is disturbing to note that the emphasis on personal appearance is so excessive in the current age.

As Muslims we need to remind ourselves that inner beauty comes before external appearances. After all, we have been taught to pray: “O Allah, just as You have made my external features beautiful, make my character beautiful as well.” (Hisnul Haseen) Ameen.


Spot-Free Action Plan

Oct 10 - Spot-free action planBy Amber Saleem

Everyone knows what a pimple looks like, but not quite so many people know what causes one. A pimple is formed when the natural oils (sebum) produced by your skin become trapped inside a pore. This causes swelling and you get a pimple. If the pimple then becomes infected, the surrounding skin will also turn red and pus may develop. Hormonal activity and stress are the main culprits, causing pimples to develop.

Very few people go spotlessly through their teens and early twenties. When acne becomes irritated, it leaves signs on the skin called acne scars. There are several steps you can take, if you are afflicted with these pimples.

  • Lemon or lime juice is rich in citric acid and can exfoliate your skin to prevent acne spots. Take lemon juice, glycerin, and almond oil in equal quantity. Mix and preserve it in a bottle, and apply on the face at night. It is an excellent lotion to remove pimples and blackheads from your face.
  • If you already have acne, apply a small amount of toothpaste on your pimple before going to bed. Use toothpaste that contains mint, as mint will get rid of the swelling and dry up the pimple.
  • Another remedy is to take one tablespoon of honey and combine it with one tablespoon of yogurt. Apply on the skin for treating pimples.
  • Mix baking soda with water in such amounts that would be sufficient for your face. Gently massage the paste on your face for ten to fifteen seconds, then wash it with water. Baking soda is a very effective scrub for your face to remove acne as well as scars. Repeat this once a week.


  • Use a gentle cleanser or mild soap on your face in the mornings and evenings. Use a medicated soap on the spotty areas of your body.
  • Eat a balanced diet, containing a sufficient amount of essential vitamins and minerals – vitamins A and B are particularly good for skin.


  • Squeeze, pick or touch your pimples – you could cause infection, developing a single blemish into a nasty crop of pustules.
  • Use heavy moisturizers and foundations – light powder or cream is the best make-up choice.

Treating Fever the Herbal Way

Oct 10 - Treating fever

By Amber Saleem

Rafi Ibn Khadij has narrated: “I heard Allah’s Apostle (sa) saying: ‘Fever is from the heat of Hell, so abate fever with water.'” (Bukhari)

Fatima Bint Al-Mundhir has narrated: “Whenever a lady suffering from fever was brought to Asma Bint Abu Bakr (rta), she used to invoke Allah (swt) for her and then sprinkle some water on her body, at the chest and say: ‘Allah’s Apostle (sa) used to order us to abate fever with water.'” (Bukhari)

Home Remedies

  • Saffron is good for treating fever. Boil half a teaspoon of saffron in half cup of water. After the water boils, use this as tea – take one teaspoon every hour.
  • Raisins are also effective for curing fever. Soak 25 raisins in half cup of water. Once they get soft, crush in same water. Strain the mixture and add ½ tsp lemon juice. Take this mixture twice a day.
  • For lowering the temperature, take one tablespoon of honey, with a few drops of lemon and ginger juice.
  • Soak 6-7 potato slices in vinegar for ten minutes. Lie down and place these vinegar slices on your forehead with a wash cloth on top for 2-3 minutes.
  • A simple tip for lowering high fever is to place a slice of raw onion on the patient’s soles and cover the feet with socks.
  • Put one teaspoon of mustard seeds in one cup of hot water, steep for five minutes and drink.
  • Abu Hurairah t narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Eat the olive oil and massage it over your bodies, since it is pure and holy.” (Ibn Majah)
  • Apply a mixture of lime juice and olive oil all over your body.
  • Warm two tablespoons of olive oil with two crushed garlic cloves. Apply this mixture on both the soles and keep your feet wrapped with plastic all night long. You will see wonderful results of this remedy.

Diet in Fever

Along with the aforementioned tips, you can also take the following precautions:

  • Avoid eating such solid foods as Chapatis, until fever is gone. Replace solid foods with rice, bread, fruits and juices.
  • Drink as much water as you can – it will lower your temperature.
  • Mix half a glass of grapefruit juice with half a glass of water. Drink this once a day for relieving burning body and quenching thirst.
  • If your fever does not go down for several days, consult your doctor.

Teaching Moral Intelligence

ethics word cloud

Consider a child performing outstandingly in his studies, being a fine sportsperson, having an avid interest in the latest technology and excelling in co-curricular activities. But when it comes to his personal conduct, he lacks self-control, shows signs of aggression, can be disrespectful to his elders and younger ones and bears a low level of self-consciousness.

This is one concern which almost every parent has nowadays. Parents often experience that their child performs well academically, but, unfortunately, loses the battle on morality grounds.

Have you ever thought about the cause of this problem as a parent or educationist? What areas do we need to improve to teach our children to become better human beings?

The child in the introduction obviously shows signs of higher intelligence. Students who perform well most of the time are considered to have a high IQ. But at times, they have a low moral IQ, which is now considered to be a pivotal attribute in personality development.

Moral intelligence is a mental capacity to determine how to apply universal moral principles such as integrity, responsibility, compassion and forgiveness ( It is also an ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Dr. Michele Borba, a former teacher and an internationally renowned consultant and educator, in her book titled “Moral Intelligence: The seven essential virtues that teach kids to do the right thing” firmly advocates seven vital virtues: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance and fairness. Dr. Borba believes that ethics is a prerequisite for positive and productive personality development. Parents should teach their children these qualities, so that they become better people.

Moral intelligence should be taught during childhood, with parents and teachers playing a vital role in developing an understanding of the importance of morals. It takes a considerable amount of patience to inculcate such virtues in young minds. Following are simple but helpful guidelines for embedding moral intelligence in their children.

Know Your Child

This is the most basic requirement. Before going on to introduce new things, you should know who you are dealing with. Children are different and equally special in their own ways. Try to understand your child. What does your child like? What are his interests? What makes him angry, upset or happy? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Understanding your child will guide you towards helping him in a better way!

Develop a Chat with Your Child

Once you understand your kid, you will eventually realise that he is in need of a conversation. Communication is extremely important for both parties. It is fruitful for parents to conquer grounds through thoughtful discussions. However, this should be a conversation and not a lengthy lecture. Let them express their point of view, which is important in building their character. Always speak in a friendly, mild tone, with gestures assuring that you value, understand and love them. Never abuse or use derogatory or negative language.

Dealing with Mistakes

Even though children have an inclination towards virtue, as per their Fitrah, they still tend to make mistakes. Never instantly talk to a child, when he does something wrong – at that time, he is emotionally shattered and embarrassed, and you, as a parent, are angry and disappointed. Both will behave irrationally. Give him time to analyse what he did, let him understand and learn from his mistakes. He will learn to love, sympathise, apologise, respect and care gradually.

Practicing Virtues Yourself

In order to make your child learn, it is vital that you set an example first. Parents have a habit of telling their young ones to do the right thing, without doing the same themselves. By doing so, they lose their credibility. Practice what you preach! Remember that a parent is a child’s role model. You are his/her teacher, so set the best example for him/her to follow.

Significance of Family

Family holds great importance for a child. This unit works as a major learning institution for young ones, upholding greater values, virtues and morality. Make sure that your family stays together. Good and bad phases are a part of life. Through times of trial, when family members are there for each other, children learn the value of love, sacrifice and respect.

By being in a family, one learns to live with different kinds of people. This helps a child in accepting different ideas, trains him to respect others and develops adjusting approaches in his personality.

As mature and responsible members of this society, we must ensure that our morals remain intact. If we want our future generation to be the torch-bearers of our traditions and flourish as one nation, we have to teach them morals. In that way, our children will be well-behaved. Remember, if rational intelligence can help a child build his life, moral intelligence will help him live that life in a better way!

Moral Education for the Young

An average child is exposed to 9000 obscene scenes per year through the mass media and television. This places a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of parents, who should give to their children proper Islamic education – even when it comes to sex education. Parents should realize that sex is not always a taboo to discuss. One can find various examples in the life of the Prophet (saw), where this subject was discussed extensively with the companions. Our failure to tell children what they need to know is one reason why they face complicated situations when they grow up.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “…Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’…” (Az-Zumar 39:9)

A few tips for parents, who want to instill the moral aspects of life in their children:

  • Start from a very early age to instill in them the notion that the family system and the way of life of a Muslim is very different from others.
  • It is all right to be different and to not engage in what others are doing.
  • Explain that having a feeling in the heart is all right. But to express the same through action is entirely different and should be controlled.
  • Children should be told that just as they cannot drink alcohol and have pork, they cannot engage in immoral relationships.
  • Parents should control the music their children are listening to, TV programmes they are watching, magazines they are reading and clothes they are wearing.
  • Children should be told that what leads to Haram is also Haram in Islam. Adultery is a major sin, so anything that leads to it is also not allowed, e.g., dating, chatting, having flirtatious conversations, etc.
  • Children should be encouraged to spend their free time in extracurricular activities of their interest, so that their energies are involved in doing something constructive.
  • Muslim boys and girls should understand that not all arranged marriages are bad and that sometimes they are more successful than love marriages.
  • Every family member has a responsibility – parents towards their children; elder siblings towards younger siblings and so on.

– By Umm Saad

Book Reviews


“The Embattled Innocence: Reflections of a Muslim Relief Worker”

Author: Suleman Ahmer

Publisher: Presslenders, 2009

Available at: Timelenders (

“The Embattled Innocence” covers the time period when Suleman Ahmer was involved in Muslim relief work. The book consists of three parts – the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia – and each contains stories from the areas he visited.

The Balkans section begins with a story about a nine-year-old Bosnian girl Aida, whom the relief workers saw each time they visited Mostar. The story of Aida was the first one Suleman Ahmer wrote. Since the story drew responses from people he had never met, he decided to start a series of stories. Later, these stories were combined into a single book. The subsequent stories are as full of sincere emotions and vivid experiences as the one about Aida. We meet Kamila, a passionate young Muslimah from England, who, moved by the sufferings of Bosnians, had resigned her secretarial job to come to the war afflicted areas to help her Muslim brothers and sisters. We also meet Basheer, who gave up his engineering studies in Algeria to help out in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and then joined the struggle of the Tajiks. At the age of 34, Basheer embraced martyrdom after he was shot seven times in the chest and the head.

These first-hand experiences of war sufferings draw tears to eyes and bring into heart gratitude that Allah (swt) has blessed us with peace and freedom to practice our religion, which many of our Muslims brothers and sisters died for.

– By Laila Brence

“Guess the Prophets”

“Animal Kingdom in the Quran”

“Excellent Examples”

Publisher: Flowers of Islam

Availability: Dawah Books

“Flowers of Islam” have successfully accomplished the three Es in the stunning flashcards they have created. These flashcards promise to entice, educate and enchant your young ones with their unique approach. If your children are between the ages of seven and eleven, then these flashcards are truly meant for them.

The main objective of “Guess the Prophets” flash cards is to teach about the Prophets in a fun and interactive way. These stories can help young minds get an insight into the lives of the blessed Prophets of Allah (swt) and inspire them to assimilate their teachings in their daily lives.

“Animal Kingdom in the Quran” uses riddles to teach children about the various animal stories mentioned in the Quran. In this manner, the young believers can learn about the diverse animal facts and incidents.

“Excellent Examples” uses a myriad of examples and interesting similitudes to help the young believers understand such concepts as Iman and Mumin. The goal is for the young minds to explore, question and attain a better understanding of the true meaning and purpose of a believer’s role in this world.

The cards can be used as a learning tool in schools or as an educational toy at home, since they simultaneously educate and entertain.

– By Uzma Javed

Do you have Aspendicitis?

Oct 10 - Do you have AspendicitisBy Noorjehan Arif and Sumaira Dada

Of the five questions on the Day of Judgement, one will be: “How did you spend your income?” (At-Tirmidhi) It is imperative that, as Muslims, we scrutinize our spending habits and control the urge to splurge. In order to help control our spending habits, we need to remind ourselves of the divine injunction in this regard: “Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan (Devil) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:27)

How do People Control the Urge to Splurge?

Perveen Wali, a grandmother of three, says that she controls the urge to spend by not going out of the house very often. Besides, her mobility is limited. Apparently, that is a blessing in disguise.

Uzma, a lecturer at a business school, quips: “I don’t have to control the urge to spend. It looks at my wallet and controls itself.”

Sadia Hassan, a postgraduate student, surprises us by saying that she hardly gets an urge to spend. In fact, her mother jokes that she likes to go shopping with her, because Sadia doesn’t make her spend much! So, how does Sadia control the urge to splurge? She does it by thinking and evaluating that the more material possessions she has, the more she’ll have to account for before Allah (swt).

Sadia Jibran, a mother of a one-year old, concedes that it’s difficult to control spending, especially after one is married. Nevertheless, she is able to control her desire to spend excessively by taking a friend along during her shopping trips, so that somebody is there to ask her whether she really needs whatever catches her eye. She agrees with a friend that hanging out at malls to window-shop is a real no-no, because window shopping leads to a lot of real shopping.

Ameera Khan thinks that giving purchases a second thought definitely controls spending on unnecessary items. She does admit, though, that it really is difficult to hold yourself back, when you know you can afford to buy something.

Your Wealth Includes a Share of the Needy

Another way to control overspending is to realize that the poor and the needy also have a right to your wealth. Allah (swt) describes the quality of the believers saying:

“And those in whose wealth there is a known right for the beggar who asks, and for the unlucky who has lost his property and wealth, (and his means of living have been straitened).” (Al-Marij 70:24-25)

A Hadeeth also reinforces the fact that the excess wealth, which remains with you, is not yours.

Abu Saeed al-Khudri (rta) reported: “While we were with the Apostle of Allah e on a journey, a person came upon his mount and began to stare on the right and on the left; (it was at this moment) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘He who has an extra mount should give that to one who has no mount for him, and he who has surplus of provisions should give them to him who has no provisions,’ and he made mention of so many kinds of wealth, until we were of the opinion that none of us has any right over the surplus.” (Muslim)

Prioritization of Spending

Prioritizing one’s spending is an effective way of controlling impulse buying. Our priorities should be according to what the Prophet (sa) has outlined.

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) commanded to give Sadaqah. A man said: “Apostle of Allah, I have a Dinar.” He said: “Spend it on yourself.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your children.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your wife.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your servant.” He finally said: “I have another.” He replied: “You know best (what to do with it).” (Abu Dawood)

One of the ways to control overspending is to know the right place to shop for your needs. Here’s a list of affordable places that you can go to for your essential shopping needs.

Sunday Bazaar

Spend some time in Sunday Bazaar and you will get the most amazing of options on the most outrageous of bargains. Make sure that you bargain for at least half the price and settle for a maximum of two thirds, for whatever you want to purchase! Everything you need is available at these Bazaars from books to clothes, to groceries, to shoes and more!

100 (or 50) Rupees Shops

Want to purchase gifts, but don’t know what to buy and how much to spend? These questions will become easier, when you visit the 100 or 50 Rupees shop. You will find a multitude of items at reasonable prices, and you can pick up some nice bargain items for your friends and family!

Discount Book Stores

Are you fond of buying books? Rejoice, for there are a number of discount book shops and stalls, which will have the books of your choice. A little time and a little money can go a long way in finding the books of your choice. Some of these stores also buy and sell books giving one an opportunity to swap old books with the new unread collection that they stock.

Specialized Bazaars

Each city and locality has some specialized Bazaars, where you can get things of your choice. From stationery to cosmetics and more, you will be able to get items cheaper here than in shops near your place, because this is where other shops buy all their items from, on wholesale rates.

Believe that You Can Change

The more you think of ways to control your spending habits, the more ideas you are likely to come up with.

People go as far as suggesting that one should freeze all credit cards and pay for purchases in cash. Others add items to their wish list, give them a second thought and then decide, whether to buy or not. Still others make a proper budget, compare items before purchasing them and refuse to be deceived by attractive advertisements and promotions.

It also facilitates mingling with simple people. Most of us also spend in competition with others, on stuff we can easily do without.

At the end of the day, it’s all about wanting to control the ability to spend and not become a victim of aspendicitis (an inability to control the amount one spends).

Let’s Enrage Him

Oct 10 - Let's enrage him

There was once a man in Arabia called Muan Ibn Zaida. He was very famous for his generosity as well as his mild temper. It was well-known amongst the Arabs that no one could provoke him.

One day, an Arab man claimed: “I will make Muan lose his temper.”

“Well,” said the people, “if you manage to do that, we will give you a hundred red camels.”

The Arab went to Muan. He walked in very rudely and without saying “Assalamu Alaikum” started to recite a few verses which meant, “Do you remember the time, when a goat’s skin was your dress and your shoes were made of camel skin?”

Muan did not mind the rude behaviour. He replied: “Of course, I have not forgotten that time.”

The Arab said: “Glory be to the One, Who gave you the power to rule and taught you how to sit on a bed.”

Muan said: “All praise is to Allah (swt) for that; not to you, my dear brother.”

The Arab said: “By Allah (swt), if you were supporting me, I could not survive one day. Also, I am not impressed with your rule, so I don’t offer you Salam.”

“My dear brother,” said Muan, “saying Salam is a Sunnah. If you obey it, you will receive blessings from Allah (swt). And if you do not say Salam, then you will be sinning.”

“I will leave the very land in which you are living, even if I have to walk all the way,” the Arab continued.

“If you stay here, you will only receive good treatment from us,” said Muan. “And if you leave, our Duas are with you.”

“Well then,” said the Arab. “I am definitely leaving. Arrange for my travel expenses.”

Muan asked his servant to give the Arab one thousand Dinars.

The Arab said: “This is too little. I expected much more from you.”

Muan asked his servant to give him another thousand Dinars.

Now, the Arab admitted his defeat and said: “May Allah (swt) grant you a long life, as your generosity is equivalent to a sea. You are the epitome of Ihsan. I have never met anyone like you before.”

Muan asked his servant to give him another thousand Dinars.

The Arab now explained: “I had heard you were mild tempered, so I came here just to test your patience. I am convinced that you are extremely generous and mild tempered. If your two qualities were distributed amongst every individual on this Earth, they would be enough for them.”

Muan gave the Arab another three thousand Dinars. The Arab thanked him and turned to leave. He was now crying.

Muan called him back and asked: “Why are you crying?”

“I am crying because even a man like you has to die one day,” he replied. “Losing one’s wealth and animals is not such a big deal. But when a generous man dies, quite a lot perishes with him, too.”

Adapted (with permission) from Sunehray Huroof published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Hafsa Ahsan.

Help! My Child Doesn’t Listen!

Oct 10 - Help my child doesn't listen

By Qainaf Najam

“He hit the stone with full might. A few sparks were produced and people backed away, frightened. The jeweller seemed oblivious to his surroundings or to the sparks, for that matter. He kept on hitting the stone with juvenile force. Each impact added an ounce of shine to the stone and with each increase, the force of the jeweller doubled. He hit harder and harder. He was a diamond carver. The more you hit the diamond, the more cuts it has and the more beautiful it is,” grandma ended the story with her ‘wise’ words.

Later, I thought of the story Grandma had shared. My imagination wandered and landed at a spot, where I was the diamond, my mother was the jeweller and the hammer signified the disciplining tool. It all fit. Curiosity welled inside me, and I decided to embark on an arduous journey to discover the ‘hammers’ that mothers use, when the diamond refuses to shine.

Of all the mothers questioned, only one confidently and proudly told me that her kids always obeyed her! For the rest, the level of submission varied from 70 to 80 per cent. Everybody agreed that mothers should try to create a good environment for children, since they are the best imitators – they will do what they see.

Following are some of the tactics that mothers use, when their kids refuse to obey them.

The Understanding Formula

Shaista, a mother of two, said that the basis of any relationship is understanding. To erect a strong building, we must put forth a stable base, and, when it comes to children, that base is understanding. Another experienced mother observed that mothers should try to understand the reasons, for which children disobey or stretch their limits, to be precise. They should act like their friends not their bosses. Mothers should genuinely hear out the kids, placing themselves in their shoes, and not be quick to pass a verdict. Mums should also not interrupt, and let the child do the talking to clearly understand where he/she is coming from. Then, mothers should try to explain to the child, calmly and logically, why he/she should not disobey.

Naseem Dilawar, a mother with an experience of about 33 years, beautifully summed up the formula: “Children are like flowers: if you press a flower, it withers. Similarly, strictness and austerity in the beginning deteriorates a child’s personality and shatters his confidence.”

The Cost-Reward Theory

I jumped in excitement, as my psychology lessons came alive during the survey. We had studied that humans tend to calculate the cost and the reward involved in doing anything. If the cost goes up, we show reluctance towards the act. If the reward goes up, we are more than happy to deliver. Farhat Khan, a mother of two, said that she constantly reminds her children of the odds they’ll have to face if they disobey. This presents them with a clear picture and allows them to calculate their decision.

Another mother observed: “I tell them the consequences of their disobedience. I tell my little girl that she won’t be able to play with her favourite toy. And I declare to my 10-year-old son the computer ‘out of bounds’, till he listens to me. I think this is very effective, because the child realizes the magnitude of his mistake. To reinforce good behaviour, I give them sweets of their choice, when they listen to me against their will.”

A new mother replied that she would show her son the right and wrong in the light of Islamic teachings and then let him choose his way. “I’ll make him pay the cost of disobeying and reward him, when he pleases me,” she added. If we think about it, this is the exact tactic Allah (swt) uses for us: He has told us, which is the right path, but He has also granted us the freedom to choose this right path. Besides, good conduct must spring from within to please Allah (swt) and not out of a parent’s fear. Otherwise, it has short lasting value.

The Loving Way

After an in-depth analysis, I must admit that this approach works mainly for little kids.

According to researches, bedtime stories help the grooming of a small child more than anything else. My friend uses this technique for her two kids. She says that when they disobey, she doesn’t talk to them. She shows them that they’ve done something wrong. Usually, this is enough to trigger their emotions, and they come up to her with somber faces, saying: “Mama, Kya Huwa Hai? (What is wrong?)” Then, at bedtime, she tries to come up with a fictitious story, which they can relate to themselves. This reinforces what she had taught them during the day.

Mother of 3-year-old Aayushie wrote all the way from India that she tries to make her daughter understand that she is doing the wrong thing. “I make her sit on my lap, I kiss her and softly tell her, why she shouldn’t do so and so,” said Roopali. “90 per cent of the times, I get a positive response.”

One mother said that a mother should come down to the level of the child and then tackle the situation. 95 per cent of mothers said that in the first stage, they try to tell the child how much they care for them – children need to know that what their mothers say is for their own good, and that they still love them in spite of their questionable behaviour at times.

Penalties and Punishments

This usually comes as the last stage. Many mothers believe that retributions are crucial to children’s grooming, when they become illogically adamant. When children are bent upon defying, they must be shown their limits.

“The game starts with me ignoring my children. When they keep on refusing, I ground them. They are then forbidden to play computer games, go out in the field or with friends and are made to eat alone in their room. But this is only when they violate against the set limits,” expressed yet another mother.

One mother said that little kids should be made to stand in the ‘naughty corner’, or the mother should twist their ears if needed. But for older kids, corporal punishments do not go well, because they retaliate – they think it’s an insult and fly off the handle. For children above ten, penalties usually included grounding and taking away such facilities as the Internet and the cell phone.

Say No to ‘No’

A mother proposed that children should be provided alternative things to do. For example, if your daughter wants to go out with her friends at night and you know that it’s not suitable for her age, invite her friends to your home or take her out yourself. Don’t say ‘no’ to the child. Let them know that you want them to enjoy life but within limits, that are safe for them.

Trust Allah (swt)

When I asked a mother what she does when her kids refuse, she plainly said: “I pray.” She further explained: “This doesn’t necessarily mean that a mother should just sit on the prayer mat and pray; the fact is that you are not with your child at all times, while Allah (swt) is. So when you’ve done your job, entrust your child to Allah (swt).”

The Incessantly Attractive Wife

Oct 10 - Bold and Beautiful

What is it that truly makes a woman beautiful or attractive to her husband? This is probably the most ancient and oft-asked question that women have sought answers to for centuries in their quest to maintain the bliss of their marital homes. Every year, women spend millions on cosmetics, fashion products and fitness programmes, as they go the extra mile in trying to preserve their youth for as long as they humanly can.

For some married women, this zeal increases with age, with the multitude of single, younger women swarming outside their houses and around their husbands, adding to their worries and insecurities about their looks. True, most women beautify themselves for their own happiness, not for the world; but it would be a lie to say that they do not do it to look good in front of others, too!

Yet, in the middle of this beauty paraphernalia, you will find a simple, practicing Muslim woman, who does not go to the gym or the salon as a routine; does not splurge on clothes at boutiques and does not purchase expensive cosmetics. Yet, from the way her husband pampers her, caters to her whims and steals looks at her in social gatherings, it is obvious that he is still in love with her, even after years of marriage and the arrival of children.

You wonder: “How does she do it?”

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (rta) said: “It was said to the Messenger of Allah (sa): ‘Which of the women is the best?’ He said: ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, obeys him when he tells her to do something, and does not disobey him with regard to herself or her wealth in a way that he dislikes.'” (An-Nasai)

Many people misunderstand this Hadeeth to imply that a good wife should be physically very beautiful. Nay, “who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her” means that the wife’s behaviour, character, looks and conduct together please her husband, whenever he looks at her.

Muslim women should realize that the best way to be incessantly attractive to their husbands is to make themselves sincere worshippers and believers of Allah (swt); to love and obey Allah’s (swt) commands and laws and to observe His limits. An indicator of Allah’s (swt) love for a slave is that His creation on the earth also loves that slave. It is a simple solution: love Allah (swt) and others – including your husband – will love you.

Here are some tips for achieving that:

  • Make self-grooming and beautification solely an act of worship intended for Allah (swt) pleasure first, before it being for the world or even yourself. He created the beautiful, unique you, and He deserves gratitude for it.
  • Be grateful to Allah (swt) for what you are, i.e., accept how you look and be comfortable in your own skin. Be happy with your height, natural weight tendency (skinny, chubby or fat), complexion, facial features and quality of hair. If you are short, you can never be tall, so focus on your other positive qualities. Each human being has unique gifts granted to them by their Creator. This acceptance of Allah’s Qadr (decree) will lead to inner confidence.
  • Be self-confident – this happens by gaining knowledge of the Quran and becoming closer to your Creator. Even a plus-sized woman can look attractive to her husband, if she is confident about herself, and a so-called twiggy-skinny woman with a ramp model’s figure can fail to attract her spouse, if Allah (swt) does not will it. Remember, there is no single definition of beauty. What is attractive to one man can turn off another. Nothing makes a person more attractive than self-confidence!
  • An attractive person has no self-esteem issues. Stop pointing out your physical defects to your spouse (“Oh, just look at my big bum!” or “Do I look fat in this?”) and instead, focus on your plus points. Your husband will automatically notice you, when he sees you take care of yourself, without whining to him to say that you look nice.
  • You do not have to go to a beauty parlour and splurge on a makeover worth Rs. 5000 every other month to achieve good looks. An epilator and some good pharmaceutical products (scented bath gels, shower creams, deodorants, conditioners and olive oil) at home can do wonders.
  • Keep yourself clean and fresh-smelling every day, removing unwanted hair from your body every two weeks and maintaining impeccable personal hygiene. This includes fresh breath, a fragrant body, squeaky-clean hair, sparkling teeth and smooth feet, with soles and heels free of unseemly cracks. It does not matter if your nails are short or if you have not applied make-up. Prophet Muhammad (sa) was immaculately clean, so we should focus more on cleaning our bodies and cleansing our hearts from malice than going for hair highlights and a manicure every three months.
  • Stop worrying that your spouse will look at others. Rise above such insecurities. So what if he looks elsewhere? Yes, it is Haram and it hurts, but if you bear it with patience, Allah (swt) will be sufficient for you. A strong, self-sufficient wife is the greatest turn-on for any husband. Self-sufficiency comes from positive thinking and positive actions that benefit others in society.
  • Read up about and keep a keen interest in your husband’s profession. This makes him stay attracted to you. When his wife shows concern about his professional life, he will definitely want to come home to her and discuss career issues.
  • “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Though this does not always apply, there is some truth in it. You do not have to be a gourmet chef a la Naheed Ansari to tantalize his taste buds – just practice making his favourite dishes, until you excel at it. This will nurture his love for you. Just do not try to become his second “mom”!

Your weight, height, BMI (body mass index), age and dress size are nothing but numbers. Either you can let these numbers thwart your optimism and control your self-esteem, or you can lead a balanced life in pursuit of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa). That will grant you the peace of both mind and soul. Then, even if your husband finds you the most attractive woman on the earth, it will no longer matter because through his pleasure, it is the pleasure of Allah (swt) that you actually seek!