“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.

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.

Do

  • 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.

Don’t

  • 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 (www.moralcompass.com). 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

2945810-M

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

Author: Suleman Ahmer

Publisher: Presslenders, 2009

Available at: Timelenders (http://www.timelenders.com)

“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).