The Prophet’s (sa) Hajj

Prophet's HajjReinforcement of Tauheed

Tauheed is one of the fundamental principles of Islam that the Prophet (sa) realized and fostered. During the Hajj, he continued to recite Talbiyah (saying, “Labbaik Allah Humma Labbaik”) from the moment he began the ritual, until he had cast Jamratul Aqaba (Aqaba stone) on the slaughter day.

Supplications to Allah

Supplications have special status in Islam, as they aim at expressing total surrender to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said: “Supplication is worship.” (Abu Dawood) During the Hajj, he used to say more supplications than at any other time. He also offered lengthy supplications on the day of Arafat, while riding his camel and by raising his hands close to his chest, as if he were a poor man begging for charity.

Performing good deeds

The Prophet (sa) performed Ghusl before assuming Ihram, wore perfume upon assuming and ending it (Bukhari), and marked and garlanded the Hadiy. (Bukhari) He started Tawaf as soon as he entered Al-Bait (Bukhari), walked briskly, touched the two corners of the Kabah, offered two Rakahs of Tawaf behind Maqam Ibrahim (Muslim), supplicated to Allah on the hills of Safa and Marwah, ran in the middle of the valley, and did Dhikr upon touching the two corners and while throwing the Jamarat. (Bukhari)

Moderation in acts of worship

Islam encourages moderation and censures exaggeration. In fact, equanimity was the most significant attitude of the Prophet (sa) during the Hajj. He adopted a happy medium between his acts of worship (Bukhari) and his responsibilities as a leader of the Muslims. However, he did not neglect his duties to his wives, who needed care and affection.

Physical well-being

The Prophet (sa) equally cared for his body and soul. The awe-inspiring surroundings of the Hajj may compel to observe only the spiritual, entirely forgetting the physical. On Tarwiyah day, the Prophet (sa) moved closer to Mina, in order to be nearer to Arafat (Muslim), slept during the nights of Arafat and Muzdalifah (Bukhari), took breakfast on the day of Arafat (Bukhari), but did not offer supererogatory prayers. (Muslim) He took shelter in a dome made from camel hair, erected especially for him, moved between the sacred sites (Bukhari) and performed some of the Hajj rituals, while riding his camel. (Muslim) Furthermore, he even had someone to serve and help him. (Ibn Majah)

Role as an educator

Allah sent the Prophet (sa) as an educator to make people’s lives and acts of worship easier. Undoubtedly, he excelled in his mission. He publicly announced his intention to perform the Hajj, in order to give those, who wished to accompany him, an opportunity to prepare themselves for the journey. The crowds flocked to Madinah, hoping to learn from the Prophet (sa). (Muslim) The Prophet (sa) ordered Muslims to learn the Hajj rituals from him and made it clear that this could be his last Hajj. (Bukhari)

Giving Fatwas

Giving of Fatwas (religious verdicts) was among the most important tasks that the Prophet (sa) performed during the Hajj. A famous Fatwa was given to a woman from the Khatham tribe, who asked, if she could perform the Hajj on behalf of her aging father. She said: “He cannot ride his camel.” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Perform the Hajj on his behalf.” (Bukhari)

Matters concerning women

Aisha (rta) narrated: “I asked Allah’s Messenger (sa): ‘Is Jihad incumbent upon women?’ He replied: ‘Yes, Jihad which does not include fighting is incumbent upon them, it is the Hajj and the Umrah’.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Abbas (sa) narrated: “I heard Prophet Muhammad (sa) addressing and saying: ‘A man must not be alone with a woman, unless when a man who is a Mahram (a relative she is so closely related to that marriage is not possible) is with her and a woman must travel only when accompanied by a man who is a Mahram.’ A man stood up and said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, my wife intends to go out to perform the Hajj, and I have been enrolled for such and such expedition.’ Thereupon he said: ‘Go and perform the Hajj with your wife’.” (Muslim)

Prophet’s (sa) mercy

The Prophet’s (sa) mercy was always evident. He ordered those, who did not offer Hadiy, to end their state of Ihram completely – this permitted them to have intimate relations with their wives, to be dressed in normal clothes, and to wear perfume. (Muslim) He combined Asr and Zuhr prayers at Arafat (Bukhari) and delayed his prayers, when he moved to Muzdalifah (Bukhari), thereby making it easier for people to perform rituals. He gave permission to the weak to move from Muzdalifa ahead of the rest of the pilgrims at night, right after the moon would set. Thus, on slaughter day, they were able to perform their rituals easily before the others. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) generosity

The Prophet (sa) was so generous in giving alms and charity that he gave away one hundred Badanas (sacrificial camels), including their meat, hides, and coverings. (Muslim) He also donated in other charities on many occasions. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) leniency

The Prophet’s (sa) showed exemplary leniency, while in Hajj. “Seeing a man walking and leading his sacrificial camel, the Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Ride on it’. The man replied: ‘It is a Badana.’ The Prophet (sa) said the second and third time: ‘Ride on it, woe to you’. (Muslim)

The Hajj is not a momentary act of worship that begins with a journey and ends once a Muslim returns home. On the contrary, it is a trial to show that the spirituality earned in the Hajj will be brought back home and implemented in the Muslim’s daily life.

In the sermon delivered on the Day of Arafat, the Prophet (saw) urged pilgrims to hold on to the Quran as the only way to deliverance from sins. “I have left you with the Quran,” he said: “you will never go astray, if you adhere to it.” (Ibn Majah) Now, it is a challenge for all Muslims to obey this advice and bring about a metamorphosis, leading to enrichment and positive transformation of the Muslim Ummah.

Ties With Non-Muslims

ties with non-MuslimsWith a war on terror present worldwide, an invisible divide has occurred between the Islamic world and others. Unresolved long-standing issues, unjust political patronage and media hype fan irrelevant hatred, adding to everybody’s confusion.

Peace is every human being’s right and must be the order of the day. But we see otherwise around us today. In this challenging and dangerous situation, it is difficult to understand our own as well as other’s rights. However, we can learn the code of conduct drawn out for every Muslim for optimum benefits of the society in light of Quran and Sunnah:

1. Tool of ‘Dawah’ (invitation to Islam)

There is an old folk saying: ‘You can draw more flies with honey, than with vinegar.’ Prophet Muhammad (sa) with a pleasant and just demeanor was able to reach out and touch people’s hearts. Countless people entered into the folds of Islam. Even those who did not convert to Islam always attested to his truth and magnanimity.

When Allah’s Messenger (sa) sent Muath Ibn Jabal and Abu Musa Al-Ashari to Yemen, he advised them: “Be lenient and not strict and bring glad tidings and do not repel people.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is precisely because our actions speak louder than our words. At times we are negligent of the fact that we as Muslims are ambassadors of Islam. One questionable act or word from us brings the credibility of Islam in the line of fire. Conversely, our graceful conduct can win many friends and cause foes to think twice.

2. Tolerance, an integral part of Islam

Islam urges Muslims to exercise benevolence with non-Muslims. Believers are encouraged to give gifts, money and visit non-Muslims. This will educate the non-Muslims of social relations in Islam. Quran states, tolerant people will be rewarded with “a garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth.” (Al-Hadid 57:21)

Similarly it is not considered in good taste to ridicule other beliefs. Prophet Muhammad (sa) always gave a fair chance to all his opponents to explain their case explicitly. He never interrupted their speech nor did he abuse them verbally or physically. He made friends to enforce Allah’s Deen and waged wars to defend Islam. There was never a shade of personal ego attached to any of his actions or words.

Today there is a place in Kuala Lumpur that is a symbol of religious tolerance. Here a mosque, a temple and a church share a common boundary and their respective worshippers freely practice their beliefs with no fear.

3. Charity and aid

It is certainly permissible to help poor non-Muslims, unless one knows that they are actively hostile to Islam. It is reported that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) saw an elderly Christian man begging. He inquired about his circumstances and when he was told that the man was a Christian, he ordered that he should be given help from the treasury of the Muslim state. His reasons were that the man paid taxes imposed on non-Muslims when he was able to earn. Therefore, he was entitled to help when he lost that source of his income.

Besides that, voluntary alms in the form of Sadaqah can be given to destitute non-Muslims to uplift their conditions.

4. Relations with neighbours

A neighbour’s rights are of prime importance in Islam regardless of which belief he belongs to. Muslims are encouraged to abide by decent and courteous civic laws and actively participate in community service. For starters, they can begin with their own neighbourhood and ensure their neighbour’s are never placed in a hurtful or awkward position.

Abdullah Ibn Amr (rta) slaughtered a sheep and he said: “Have you presented a gift from it to my neighbour, the Jew, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say, ‘(the angel) Gabriel kept on commending the neighbour to me until I thought he would make him an heir?” (Abu Dawood)

5. Familial relations

Asma Bint Abi Bakr (rta) once asked Allah’s Apostle (sa), if it was permissible for her polytheist mother to visit her and enter her house. He said to her: “Yes, be in touch with your mother.” (Agreed upon)

It is also narrated that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) presented his polytheist brother with a silk dress as a gift, which the Prophet Muhammad (sa), had given to Umar (rta). (Bukhari)

Safiyya (rta), one of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (sa), endowed her Jewish brother with part of her fortune to show him how much she cared and kept good relations with him. (Baihaqi)

Conversely Allah also states: “O you who believe, do not take your fathers and your brothers as friends if they prefer unbelief over faith…” (At-Taubah 9:23) Any relative who deliberately attempts to jeopardize a believer’s faith, is not considered to be a friend. A Muslims’ foremost sincerity belongs to Allah and His Apostle (sa).

6. Quran as a gift to non-Muslims

Some scholars state that if we are certain that our non-Muslim friends will be able to treat our gift of Quran to them with respect and dignity, there is no harm in doing so. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) sent messages to rulers of neighbouring states and included in his letters verses from the Quran, knowing that those rulers were not believers.

Another valid logic that must be remembered is that Quran is applicable to all mankind and we have to make it known to them. It is our duty to convey the message to them and to invite them towards Allah’s final revelation.

Therefore, if we know that a non-believer wants to read Quran to understand and learn, we should encourage him to read Quran, which is the best source of knowledge.

7. Supplication for Non-Muslims

The best supplication for non-believers is to pray for their guidance. Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that Tufayl Ibn Amr Al-Dawsi and his companions came to Prophet Muhammad (sa) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, the Daws (Tufayl’s tribe) have rebelled and disobeyed, so invoke Allah’s wrath against them.” People said: “Now Daws is doomed!” Allah’s Messenger (sa) prayed: “O Allah, guide the Daws and bring them here.” (Bukhari) Allah is the One who can open hearts to the call of Islam. Another great example is of Umar (rta) for whom Prophet (sa) had prayed to Allah to enter him into the folds of Islam and strengthen it. Allah heard his supplication and Umar (rta) not only embraced Islam but proved to be one of the most competent and successful Caliphs.

8. Non-Islamic celebrations

There are two schools of thought here. Some scholars state that it is not permissible to congratulate non-Muslims on their religious festivals since it encourages them to move further on to the road of disbelief. Other scholars are of the view that when diverse religious communities live peacefully together, it is courteous to greet each other in their respective festivities. It is also not forbidden to partake of their food unless we know that they slaughter their animals in a way, which Islam forbids, or use an ingredient that is not Tayyab (pure).

It is not permitted for Muslims to celebrate other religious festivals. The restraint is set in place because such celebrations impact life style and thought processes too. The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever assimilates to a people, becomes one of them.” (Ahmad) By over indulgence there may be a danger of either adapting other religious beliefs or innovating new festivities.

9. Employing expertise

Prophet Muhammad (sa) never hesitated employing expertise of non-Muslims whenever he deemed necessary. In the tenth year of Prophethood, while Allah’s Messenger (sa) was returning from Taif, he rested in Hira Cave. He was unable to enter Makkah due to a grave threat to his life. It was at this stage that a polytheist Al-Mutim Ibn Adi who was also a notable in Makkah provided shelter to Prophet Muhammad (sa). Allah’s Messenger (sa) never forgot Mutim’s favour. Years afterwards, at the conclusion of battle of Badar He said: “If Mutim Ibn Adi were living and had asked for the release of these rotten people, then I would have given them to him.” (Bukhari)

Similarly in the fourteenth year of Prophet hood, Prophet (sa) was commanded to immigrate from Makkah to Medina. For three days he seeked refuge in Cave Thaur, with Abu Bakar (rta) while Quraish continued their frantic search for them. Then Abdullah Ibn Uraiqit, who had not yet embraced Islam, was hired as a guide to take them to Medina by a safe route.

10. Balance in relationship

Islam refuses to compromise its doctrines by either behaving like a doormat to others or like an evil tyrant meant to crush all other ideologies. It wants to set a balance in all its relations.

The Quran states: “O you who believe, do not take as friends those who take your religion as a joke and an amusement from among the ones who were given the Scripture before you and the disbelievers. And be mindful of Allah if you are believers.” (Al-Maidah 5:57)

Likewise Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: “O people, accept presents so long as they remain presents, but when ….the presents are given for the religion of one of you, then leave them alone.” (Abu Dawood)

There is a difference between being allied with someone, confiding in him and taking him as a friend to the exclusion of Muslims and dealing righteously, being just and keeping good relations with him. Once this is clear, we are free to treat non-Muslims with respect and kindness depending on their ability to respect and accept our identity as Muslims.

Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi

Amena Shahrukh Lali recounts the dynamic life of a great Muslim conqueror who opened many lands and brought Islam to their people

Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi was born in 361 AH in Ghaznah southwest of Kabul. His forefathers were Turkish, and his father was a very powerful leader of Ghaznah. Since his childhood, Sultan was a very strong person and as he grew old Allah blessed him with handsome looks too. He was a gifted speaker. Though he didn’t understand the Arabic language, he was well versed in the laws of Islam. He loved poetry, astronomy and math, and would encourage others to learn.

As a leader, Mahmood showed such great capabilities that the whole province of Khurasan rallied under his leadership and his rule extended to Azerbaijan. At the age of 27 he announced his claim to the throne of Afghanistan, when his brother Ismael also announced his claim to be king from the city of Balkh. Mahmood defeated his brother in Ghazni.

The most commendable act of Sultan was his love for Jihad. Every year he would set out to conquer new lands, heading always towards India. Sultan defeated Jeebel the King of Kabulistan, captured Punjab, Tanseer, Kashmir and Qanoch. By 1017 Aliak Khan, an ally of Sultan Mahmood invaded Hirat and Balkh. This was out of the ordinary because Sultan Mahmood was married to his daughter. So, Sultan gathered a powerful force of fifty thousand warriors and attacked the Khan’s army and defeated them. By 1024, Allah granted Sultan such power that he crossed the Amu River.

One day, news reached him that the Indian people believed that the great idol Suminat brings destructions and peace to their land, and gives life and causes death to them. They also use to make pilgrimage to him. They had accumulated wealth to the point that 10,000 villages were counted as a part of its endowment and thousands of Brahama men were at its service.

Nevertheless Sultan set out to destroy the idol after making Istikhara (asking Allah for guidance in his decision). He left at the head of thirty thousand cavalries and a great number of infantry and volunteers. When the Indians saw the determination of Sultan they offered him a great amount of money. Sultan said: “I have thought about the matter, and I see that when the Day of Judgement comes, I would rather be called ‘Where is Mahmood who destroyed the idol?’ than ‘Where is Mahmood who spared the idol for the wealth of this world?'”

He took his sword and went in. The idol was adorned with gold and rare jewellery that were beyond description. With a mighty blow it fell, broken to pieces. Sultan took the gold and jewellery, and distributed it among his commanders and soldiers. He returned to Ghaznah in Safar 417 AH.

Sultan Mahmood was also among the earlier pious kings. His interest in knowledge had drawn him close to the scholars, as he was known to love hearing the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) being recited to him.

Sultan Mahmood only praised Islam due to its pureness. During Sultan’s reign universities of math, religious studies, humanities and medicine were formed and they used to function only under the law of Shariah. For the first time ever, this region was under one rule, one religion and one language.

In 1030 (421 AH), Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi fell gravely ill and died at the age of fifty-nine. His grave is in Ghaznah.

Beautiful Names

“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them.” (Al-Araf 7:180). Shaikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid lends meaning to your Tasbeehat and Dhikr.

Al-Muqeet

Imam Ibn Jareer mentioned a number of opinions conserning the meaning of this name. Al-Muqeet means Al-Hafeez (the Protector), Ash-Shaheed (the Witness), Al-Hasab (the Sufficient), the One Who is in control of all things. He thought that the last interpretation is the correct one.

Allah, is Al-Muqeet, i.e., the Protector, the Witness, the One Who is able to do all things.

Al-Muqeet is the Preserver, the Omnipotent, the Witness; He is the One Who sends down provision to His creatures and shares it out among them.

Al-Muqeet is the Sustainer; He is taking care of all living beings, for when he causes parts of them to die overtime and He compensates for that. At every moment he gives them what they need to survive, until He wills to put an end to their life-then He withholds what keeps them alive, and so they die.

Some reports give the name Al-Mugheeth instead of Al- Muqeeth. Al Mugheeth is interpreted as meaning the Helper, for He helps His slaves at times of difficulty when they call upon Him; He answers them and saves them. It also has the meaning of the One who responds and One Who is called upon. Ighathah (help) refers to actions and istijabah (responding) refers to words, but they may be used interchangeably.

Ibnul-Qayyim said: “He is the Helper of all His creatures, and He responds to those who are desperate.” (Sharh Asma by Dr. Hissah Al-Sagheer)

Al-Hayiy

Al-Hayiy is the alive. He is all-knowing and His strength is sufficient for everything.

Allah has addressed Himself by this name in the infamous Ayat Al-Kursi: “Allah! (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living…” (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

The modesty of Allah, cannot be comprehended by human understanding, and no mind can understand its nature. It is modesty that is based on kindness, goodness, generosity and majesty. By His mercy, generosity, perfection and forbearance, Allah is too modest to expose His slaves, show them up or carry out His punishment on them. He is too modest to reject anyone who stretches forth his hand to Him, and He loves people who are modest.

Al-Mumin

Al-Mumin is the giver of peace. He who places faith in the heart of his servants, protects those who seek refuge in Him, and gives tranquility.

Al- Mumin is the One Who will fulfill the promise to the sincere. He calls His slaves to believe in Him and He has control over the security of His creation in this world and the Hereafter.

Al-Mumin is the one Who accepts His believing slaves, i.e., He accepts their faith and sincerity and makes them steadfast. And He fulfills His promise to His slave of reward.

Months and More

Sabahat Anwar discusses the significance of the 11th,12th, and 1st months of the Islamic calendar.

Dhul-Qadah – the 11th month

Dhul-Qadah is:

  • The 2nd among the 3 months of Hajj.
  • The 1st among the four sacred months (Ashhurul Hurum). The others are Dhul- Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab.

Meaning: Qada means ‘to rest’. Since the Arabs regarded this month as sacred, they would stop fighting and stay at home, when it started. No specific Ibadat is prescribed for this month.

Events:

  • 5 AH – battle of Khandaq (trench or Ahzab).
  • 6 AH – truce of Hudaibiyah and Bayt-e-Rizwan (oath of allegiance).
  • 7 AH – the Prophet (sa) and Sahabahs returned to Makkah to perform Umrah.

Dhul-Hijjah – the 12th month

Meaning: month of ‘Hajj’ (the pilgrimage), the fifth pillar of Islam. Since Hajj is performed during the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah, these days are considered better than other days of the year.

Virtues and activities of these 10 days:

  1. Allah swears an oath by them, “By the dawn; by the ten nights.” (Al-Fajr 89:1-2) This indicates the importance of these days.
  2. Do good deeds and repent sincerely. “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days. So during this time, recite Tahleel (La ilaha illa Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), and Tahmeed (Alhumdulillah) frequently.” (Ahmad)
  3. Extra reward for fasting. “To observe a fast on any of these days is equivalent to fasting throughout the year, to actively engage in prayer and worship throughout any of these nights holds such rewarding values, leveling with Laylatul-Qadr.” (At-Tirmidhi)
  4. Narrated Abu Hurairah (rta), Allah’s messenger (sa) also said: “An Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) is an expiation for sins committed between it and the next, but an accepted Hajj will receive no less a reward than Paradise.” (Agreed upon)

Events:

  • 2 AH – Fatimah (rta) married the fourth Caliph Ali.
  • 10 AH – Last revelation, farewell Hajj, and deliverance of the “Last Sermon” by the Prophet (sa).
  • 21 AH – Conquest of Egypt by the army sent by Umar (rta).
  • 23 AH – Umar (rta) martyred.
  • 35 AH – Uthman (rta) martyred.

Muharram – the 1st month

Meaning: ‘Forbidden’.

Muharram (sacred) was so named, since it was forbidden to fight during it.

Muharram is the 3rd of the 4 sacred months.

10th Muharram (Ashura) is a day of great significance.

On Ashura:

  1. Allah liberated Musa (as) and Bani Israel from Firawn’s tyranny.
  2. Nuh’s (as) ark settled on Mount Judi after the Great Flood.
  3. Qiyamah (Day of Judgement) will occur.

Ashura activities:

  1. Fast on the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th of Muharram. Although it is a Nafl fast, the Prophet (sa) practiced it. The Jews in Madinah fasted on Ashura to commemorate Musa’s and Bani Israel’s liberation. To differentiate from them, we should fast an additional day – before or after the 10th. “The best of fasts, apart from Ramadan, is fasting during Allah’s month Muharram.” (Muslim)
  2. Spend on one’s family. “He who will be generous to his family on the day of Ashura, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.” (Baihaqi). The orphans, the needy, relatives, and widows should not be forgotten!

Practicing Jahiliyyah (ignorance) activities, such as superstitions, extravagance, and Bidat (innovations) in any month, have been condemned by the Prophet (sa).

Friends Forever

Noorjehan Arif observes: “Making good friends is also a craft, partly learnable and partly a gift of Allah.”

While life takes us through the ups and downs, friends and family provide us with some sanity and stability to move forward. Relationship with friends is very unique. Peer influences can either direct us in the positive direction or damage lives brutally. The Prophet (sa) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” (Abu Dawood)

Choosing good friends is an arduous task but by no means an impossible one. One thing to bear in mind is that the person should be virtuous. Sometimes, we prefer hanging out with people, who are fun and cool! In due course, even if this means displeasing Allah, we simply do it. Allah warns clearly that these same friends will lead us to the Hellfire. Quran states: “Friends on that Day will be foes one to another except the Righteous.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:67)

The Day that the wrongdoer will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a (straight) path with the Apostle! Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken such a one for a friend! He did lead me astray from the Message (of Allah), after it had come to me! Ah! The Evil One is but a traitor to man.” (Al-Furqan 25: 27-29)

But, in order to find a good Muslim friend, it is imperative to be a good Muslim yourself. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best friend in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his companions…” (At-Tirmidhi)

Conversely, Hassan Haidi states: “Some argue that our society has become too transient, and it is hard to invest our time in people who are only in our lives for short a while. Others will tell you that they got burnt once, and they are not going to let someone get close again. Many will say they just do not know, how to make friends, and some say they are just too busy.”

In reality, friendship is soul-based, as is proved by the Hadeeth: “Souls are like conscripted soldiers: if they recognize one another, they will become friends, and if they dislike one another, they will go their separate ways.” (Muslim)

TV, the Internet, or magazines can never replace a loving and believing friend. An accessible friend serves as a protection, especially for late adolescents and young adults against various risk factors, such as substance abuse and criminality (Fraser 1997).

Obviously, success will be the order for such people, as Allah states: “As to those who turn (for friendship) to Allah, His Apostle, and the (fellowship of) believers, it is the fellowship of Allah that must certainly triumph.” (Al-Maidah 5:56)

May Allah guide us to right companions, who can steer us towards success now and in the Hereafter.

Travel Uzbekistan

uzbekistanImagine a city as old as Paris with just as attractive sites. Imagine a place where the locals are gracious, hospitable and kind. It gets even better. It’s a place where a dollar gets you a taxi ride to anywhere in town. Plus shopping is cheap, and food is delicious. Give up? Uzbekistan. It’s located in vast Central Asia, with some of the world’s finest Islamic architecture and exotic bazars, and has the virtue of being a traveller’s dream.

Food:

This is the most popular topic among people so I figured I would attend to it first. The Uzbeks eat on a square shaped wooden or metal piece of furniture called topjon. Bread called non is served and eaten with every meal. Generally, the Uzbeks prefer mutton to other kinds of meat. But Kazi-a special sausage made of horsemeat, fat, and special spices-made according to well-preserved ancient recipes is a delicacy served during special occasions. Fruits and vegetables grow in abundance in Uzabekistan, so naturally they are widely used in cooking all year round.

Once there, try the meat and vegetable soup called Shorpa, or the Uzbek noodle soup called Laghmon. The most traditional Uzbek main dish is the Plov that is suitable for daily meals as well as celebrations. There are variations of this dish, but usually it is made with chunks of mutton, shredded yellow and orange carrot for colour and taste, and rice all of which are cooked in a cast iron pot. The meat is usually eaten with the fingers.

Dumplings are also very popular. Manty are steamed dumplings stuffed with chopped onions and lamb or mutton. Chuchvara is another dumpling stuffed with minced meat, onion and spices served with sour cream or yogurt. You might also like Samsa-pastry stuffed with meat, onion, and a variety of vegetables-fresh from a clay oven. Or how about skewered chunks of mutton barbecued over charcoal known as Shashlyk over a bed of raw sliced onions.

Tea is consumed with every meal. And Chai-khanas (teahouses) full of old men chatting the afternoon away over a pot of tea are everywhere in Uzbekistan. Usually tea is served with samsa, bread, halva, and a variety of fried foods. Samarkand and Tashkent have a variety of places to eat, ranging from small local establishments around bazars, to fancy international joint venture restaurants. Take your pick.

Mosques

If you are in Bukhara seize the opportunity to visit its mosques. Kalyan Mosque with its intricately decorated portals is located in the heart of the city. It is the largest mosque in Central Asia, able to accommodate around 10,000 worshippers. It is towered over by the Kalyan Minaret with its bands of decorative brickwork that was said to have impressed Genghis Khan. Magoki-Attori Mosque constructed in the ninth or tenth century is the most ancient architectural masterpiece in Bukhara It was rebuilt in the twelfth century, but only the southern façade and portals remain to this day. An earthquake in 1860 caused the double dome to fall and the mosque destroyed, but it was rebuilt in the twentieth century. It remains one of the most sacred places in Bukhara because its architecture summons up spiritual longing for the Afterlife. Balyand Mosque is for those of you who prefer a small district mosque. It is located in a quiet residential neighborhood southwest of the old city.

If you are in Tashkent you can visit the Teleshayakh Mosque-an interesting ensemble erected in a place called Khast Imam. The ensemble comprises the Barak-Khana Madrassa of the sixteenth century, the Teleshayakh Mosque, a rich religious library, the 16th century Kaffal-Shashi mausoleum built on the grave of Abubekr Mukhmmad Kaffal-Shashi, and the Imam Al-Bukhari Institute.

The minarets of the Juma Mosque dominate the city of Khiva’s skyline, appearing like lighthouses from afar. The mosque has 218 amazingly ornate carved wooden columns.

Cities for Sight Seeing

Bukhara

The city of Bukhara, once a renowned Islamic center of learning, is now an inhabited museum with 140 impressive architectural monuments dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, 2,300 years later, ensembles like the Poi-Kalon, Kos Madras, Ismail Samani Mausoleum and the Kalian Minaret are still favorite tourist attractions. .

Or you may take a break from sightseeing by hanging out at the Laub-i-Hauz. It has a teahouse where you can get refreshments or a hearty meal. Or if you are a shopper, you may want to visit the three remaining dome-covered bazars called toks.

Samarkand

Poets and historians of the past called it the “Rome of the East, The beauty of sublunary countries. The pearl of the Eastern Moslem World.” Its memorial and research complex has become a holy site because of the theologian Imam Ismail Al-Bukhari who has been revered among Muslims for many years.

On the southeast slope of Afrosiab is the burial vault Shahi Zinda, the famous ancient architectural ensemble of Samarkand. The keepers of Shahi Zinda are sure to tell you of the ancient legend of Kussam ibn-Abbas who once lived there. After finishing a sermon one day he removed his own head, tucked it under his armpits and hid in a narrow opening of a cave where he is still thought to live today, hence giving it its name “A Living King.”

Tashkent

Tashkent has always been an important international transport junction. Unfortunately, the destruction caused by the revolution of 1917 and the massive earthquake of 1966 has left us with only a few architectural monuments.

For museum lovers, Tashkent houses many museums of Uzbek and pre-Uzbek culture such as The State Art Museum that houses a collection of paintings, ceramics and Bukharian royal robes; and The Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts with its exhibits of embroidered wall hangings and antique jewelry.

Khiva

Fairy-tale like city Khiva has managed to retain its exotic and oriental image. The old part of the city called Ichon-Qala is where all the architectural monuments are located.

No doubt there is a lot to see and do in Uzbekistan so I do not want to give away all the surprises in store for you there. So, I’ll just leave the rest for you to experience. Happy and safe travelling Insha’Allah.

Tie your Camel: Do Your Part

pilgrimsEvery Muslim, who is physically and financially able, must make the Hajj at least once. It is one of the most memorable and spiritually edifying experiences in the life of a Muslim. So, what is it like to prepare for and perform this physically grueling, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage?

One of the most important challenges to be prepared for is protecting yourself from the chances of catching diseases that affect your health. Approximately 2 million pilgrims gather in certain places at specified times. This can present major health challenges to them.

The following are some health issues and present prevention tips anyone should find useful before embarking on Hajj:

Consult your physician

Consult your physician to know about the new preventive procedures and necessary vaccines.

Pilgrims must carry on their personal medical card that explains their medical condition in detail for receiving prompt treatment in case of emergency.

Avoid dehydration

Most of us are not acclimatized to the intense heat that is experienced during Hajj. This leaves us open to the life-threatening conditions of heat stress and dehydration.

Substantial amount of liquid is lost through perspiration; hence, the pilgrim is advised to drink at frequent intervals to compensate the loss.

Limit your sun exposure

Use sunscreen and wear approved sunglasses. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Use an umbrella or other protective gadget.

Wear a broad rimed hat along with loose light coloured clothing (These clothes are to be worn when not in the state of Ihram).

Watch what you are drinking

Water may be contaminated. To avoid such diseases as Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera, try using bottled water, carbonated beverages, boiled water, hot coffee and tea, as these are generally safe.

Wipe bottle and can tops and use your own straws.

Use bottled water or boiled water for cooking and making ice.

Watch where and what you eat

  • Contaminated food can transmit diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and enteritis. Raw, poorly cooked foods, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided unless prepared in a reputable establishment.
  • Wash your hands before and after meals and every time you use the bathroom.
  • All fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before consumption.
  • Do not leave food exposed to open air, dust, and germs.
  • Moreover you may wish to take some antibiotics or anti diarrhea medication on hand.

Avoid unnecessary exhaustion

Hajj requires lots of strenuous physical activity. Although Allah amply rewards all of it, the intense exertion coupled with harsh desert climate can take a serious toll on the body.

The aged, women, patients suffering from heart and respiratory ailments, and the physically challenged Muslims planning on this blessed trip must be accompanied by able bodied and healthy caretakers.

Avoid the usage of contaminated razors

Do not to use contaminated razors while having your hair shaved. A lot of contagious and blood transmitted diseases can be communicated in this way. Use disposable razors and dispose them safely once they have been used.

Use of masks

If you decide on using nose and mouth masks it is highly recommended that you change them frequently because they concentrate a good deal of dust, dirt and germs.

Stay clear of wide-open spaces

To sleep on the streets or under bridges throughout the Hajj season is harmful as these are ideal places for the spread of infectious diseases. It also cause fatigue and exhaustion to those who sleep in the open and exposes them to sunstrokes.

No smoking

The harmful effects of smoking are too evident to be denied. There is a consensus among contemporary scholars that it is prohibited. The harmful effects are not confined to the smoker himself but the non-smokers around him through passive smoking.

First-Aid kits

Remember to pack a personal medical kit containing first-aid supplies, and adequate amounts of prescription medication in original containers.

Practice good personal hygiene

  • Take all the equipment you need for personal cleanliness.
  • Dispose litter in baskets provided for the purpose.
  • Do not spit on the ground.
  • In order to avoid infectious disease, use the toilets for urination and defecation. Use them properly and keep them clean for others.

Exercise

Fatigue and lack of sleep from the physically demanding regimen of Hajj rites can lower immunity and resistance, making pilgrims more vulnerable to disease. Getting and staying in good physical shape by regular exercise can ward off illness.

In conclusion, it is a Muslim’s belief that everything that happens in this world is by the will of Allah. Similarly, any illness or misfortune that may or may not befall us is by the will of Allah. Whilst it is true that we should accept whatever “misfortune” befalls us, we are also taught to avoid or reduce the possibility of these “misfortunes” by taking positive steps. We must make all these preparations as they are in line with a well-known saying of Prophet Muhammad (sa),“Tie your camel, then put your trust in Allah.”

Note: The above are general guidelines and are not intended to be a substitute for a consultation with a knowledgeable Hajj travel physician.

Required vaccines for Pakistani Pilgrims

Pakistani Muslims, travelling to Saudi Arabia require a visa, a passport, and proof of having received the inoculations required of any Pakistani citizen going abroad.

Saudi Arabia mandates that travellers to Hajj be vaccinated against meningitis to help prevent illness from contaminated food and water sources. The large crowds strain Saudi Arabia’s sanitation services.

Some physicians also suggest additional vaccinations to protect against typhoid fever, pneumonia, diphtheria / tetanus and malaria.

Catching Kids Being Good

kids being goodRewarding a behavior is the most effective way of promoting good conduct. Teachers can re-enforce youngsters by a smile, a ‘thank you’, some praise, or food. However, many believe that this method does not actually work – they continue to insist on their negative approaches that often make things worse, not better. Set up the child for success if he is not presently demonstrating the desired behavior. When a child displays positive behavior, recognize it. Do not hold a grudge. When first building a behavior, reward it each time as quickly as possible. The following are some reward suggestions that will encourage kids to strive for ‘being good’.

Tree of Achievements

For increasing the self-esteem in children, make a tree of achievement for each classroom. Make a display with a bare tree on a hillside or in a field and place a basket of brightly coloured leaves below. Whenever a child works hard or shows kindness, their name along with their good deed get written on a leaf and put up on the tree. This will encourage positive behaviour, and the children will love it.

Golden Wall

Use a ‘Golden Wall’ to encourage the circle time in the classroom. Write out the ‘golden rules’ from top to bottom on a wall. Every time a child adheres to some golden rule or successfully displays the focus golden rule of a particular week, write his / her name on a piece of paper and stick it to the Golden Wall. At the end of a half term, tear off all the labels from the wall and count them. The more a child’s name is on the wall, the higher are his / her chances for winning an award.

Behaviour Ladder

Age Range: 5 to 11

Draw a ladder onto a big piece of paper and write the names of children on little cards. Every time a child achieves something in any area, he / she moves a step up on the ladder. Similarly, the child moves one step down, every time he / she does something negative. For winning a secret prize, the child has to get to the top of the ladder.

Warm Fuzzies

The teacher makes on computer 25 squares of small grid for each child and places them on their desks. When a child works quietly on a task, produces excellent work, does homework, consistently follows class rules, the squares get stamped. Children also give them to each other for positive reasons at ‘warm fuzzy time.’ When the grid is filled, the student gets a certificate and sometimes a prize. Then, children aim for the next award, which is 50, 75, 100, 125, etc. Kids enjoy this type of rewards that promote positive behaviour.

Target Tree

Every half term, each student cuts out an apple and writes on it his / her personal target. Then, this apple is hung onto a tree prepared by the teacher. When the child achieves the target, he / she receives 2 merits. The next half term, a new apple gets added onto the tree.

Behaviour Train

Place on the wall a large train engine with several carriages behind. Represent each child in a carriage by writing his / her name and drawing a cartoon character. There should be on the wall also a ‘Missed Playtime Station.’ If during a play session a child misbehaves, his / her carriage gets removed from the train and placed in the station. The carriage can return to the train only if the child modifies his / her behaviour before the next playtime.

Prize Token

Give children a prize token anytime they work well on a task, produce a lovely work, answer a question correctly, etc. Children write their names on a piece of paper and put them in a prize jar. Keep on reminding children throughout the day: “Who is doing the work quietly so that I can give a prize token?” You will be surprised to see that students will stop talking and will get back to their work. At the end of the day, draw the names out of the prize jar. If students have been really good, give out a few more prizes; however, if they had misbehaved, warn them that no names would be drawn from the prize jar, unless they improve their behaviour.

Super Stars

This reward system is very simple and designed specifically for younger students. Teacher draws a star and leaves below it some space for writing the names of students. This becomes a ‘Super Stars’ list, into which the teacher writes then names of students any time they do something praiseworthy. When the class is rowdy, the teacher should say: “Twinkle, twinkle super star – can I see where you are?” This gets the attention of students and puts them back to their work. Super Star students can do some special tasks for the teacher.

In order to encourage appropriate behaviour everyone needs to be challenged and motivated. An effort that goes unrecognized or earns no appreciation has no chances to last. Even Allah the most Gracious, has offered Jannah as a reward for all the hard work good believers put in day in and day out. This motivation helps us stay guided and builds an eagerness to do our very best.

Positive attitude and expectation of a teacher from his student eventually enables the child to realize he has the potential to be good. Otherwise he would not have been asked to do good consistently. On the other hand labeling a child as a failure or demonstrating suspicion and anger over his undesired attitude only sends one message that the child is incapable of any improvement or change.

A List of Ideas for Earning Rewards

  • Have the teacher phone your parents to tell them what a great kid you are.
  • Draw on the chalkboard.
  • Be the first in line.
  • Choose any class job for a week.
  • Do all the class jobs for a day.
  • Be a helper in the room with younger children.
  • Help the librarian.
  • Choose a book for the teacher to read to the class.
  • Keep a stuffed animal on your desk.
  • Use the computer.
  • Be the first to eat.
  • Have a special sharing time to teach something to the class, set up a display etc.
  • Read to someone else.
  • Choose a movie for the class to watch.
  • Get a fun worksheet.

Allah (swt) Accepts Only Pure

PureAbu Hurayrah (rta) narrates that Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Verily, Allah the Exalted is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers to do that which he has commanded the messengers. The Exalted has said: ‘O Messengers! Eat of the good things and do right.’ And the Exalted also said: ‘O Believers! Eat of the good things that we have provided for you.'” Then Prophet (sa) mentioned a man who after a long journey is dishevelled and dust-coloured. “This man stretches his hands out towards the sky and says: ‘O Lord, O Lord,’ while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How is he to be answered (in such a state)?” (Muslim)

More importantly, if an act is not pure and good, according to Shariah (Allah’s ordained laws), Allah (swt) will not accept it. He may not even respond to one who calls on Him if his sustenance is not from permissible sources. The Hadeeth explicitly mentions of living off of Haram means. This is one of the greatest and most widespread illness of today’s Muslim Ummah. People do not care about the source of their earnings as long as they have a comfortable life.

Some of the common pitfalls regarding unlawful earnings may be discussed, like Riba (usury or interest). Allah commands in the Quran: “O you who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah that you may prosper. Fear the fire which is prepared for those who reject faith…” (Al-Imran 3:130-131)

Admonishing the people of Madyan, who used to cheat others in trade, Allah states in the Quran: “…Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you if you have faith.” (Al-A’raf 7:85) The people of Madyan continued to earn by non-permissible means and were ultimately destroyed by an earthquake.

Similarly, lying to gain profits, causing damage to another’s livelihood to eliminate competition, accepting and giving bribes and practicing unethical behaviour of the like are also common in the Muslim world today. A disgraceful example is when some Muslim nations are quoted among the most corrupt administrations in the world.

As parents, we have a great responsibility. Firstly, to educate ourselves and secondly, to educate our children in the formative years about the lawful as prescribed by the Quran. Similarly, the Muslim youth when choosing their careers, must stop and think whether the area of education which they are choosing will lead them to lawful earnings or not.

Rizq (provision) is the bounty of Allah which He bestows on His creatures. He states in the Quran: “…All bounties are in the hand of Allah. He grants them to whom He pleases; and Allah cares for all, and he knows all things.” (Al-Imran 3:73) We should never assume that by following Allah’s prescribed means of earnings we, as Muslims, would be afflicted with poverty or disgrace. This is only a trap set by the devil to deviate good people.

If we want our prayers to be responded then we have to fulfill the conditions stipulated by Allah upon us and completely avoid all that is non-permissible.

“Word Wise”

Word Wise“Mummy!”

“Daddy”

“Come Quickly!”

“HURRY!”

I am sure you have heard these phrases often enough and usually when you are in the middle of something you cannot turn away from: talking on the phone, frying dinner, or taking that much needed shower. If you are like me, you probably respond with:

“Coming!”

“I’ll be done in five minutes.”

“Be there in a minute.”

“Give me a second.”

Then you desperately try to finish your work within the next ten minutes and make a mad dash to see, what your little one’s emergency is (usually a squashed bug, a request for a cup of water, or a need for changing shirt because of a spilt cup of water).

This seemed like the usual scheme of things for me, until Mr. Suleman Ahmer (“Timelenders”) stated the obvious: one never completes a shower in five minutes. This seemingly small statement, amongst many words of wisdom and stories of experience (which you can enjoy by attending Mr. Ahmer’s “Strategic Time Management Training Course”), was a splash of cold water in my face. I came to realize, how carelessly we use words, and why our children do not take us seriously.

It all begins with a simple concept: keep your word – all the time, every time. Whenever we say we are going to do something, we are making a promise, without actually saying the word ‘promise’. If we say we are going to finish our work in a minute, it means we will stop our work in a minute. Otherwise, we will break our promise – hence, we should be more realistic regarding the time we need for completing our tasks.

Parents are practical examples that children learn from. They watch us go through our usual mundane routines, adopting things we never give much notice to. Imagine a child, who tosses his book bag on the floor and calls out, “Honey I’m home! What’s for dinner?” Thus, when we break our word, we teach our children several things:

1. Time (especially yours) has no value: Have you ever wondered, why it takes so long for your child to come to you, when you have been yelling: “Come here right now!” for at least five times?

2. You are not to be taken seriously: How many times have our children promised to do (or not to do) something and then done exactly the opposite?

3. You are not to be trusted: Every time you tell your child you will get him something and you do not, you tell her that you cannot be trusted. Do not most children insist that the grown-ups say ‘promise’ in answer to their requests?

4. Allah’s name is to be taken lightly: We use the term ‘Insha’Allah’ to buy time. A familiar scene: at the supermarket, a child is screaming for a toy, and the harassed parent promises to buy it later, Insha’Allah. No longer is such a promise acceptable – the child will yell: “Don’t say Insha’Allah, say yes!”

Breaking promises and teaching our children to do so is not taken lightly by Allah:

“…And fulfil (every) covenant. Verily! the covenant, will be questioned about.” (Al-Isra 17:34)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he is entrusted, he proves to be dishonest; whenever he promises, he breaks his promise.” (Bukhari)

Just as dishonesty and lying are major sins, breaking promises falls into the category of a sin, which will be forgiven only on the following conditions:

  1. Ask forgiveness from the person to whom you made the promise,
  2. Ask Allah to forgive you (make Taubah).

This seems easy enough, but before you go and ask your 4-year-old to forgive you, keep in mind that his statement will not be considered valid, till he reaches the age of puberty.

The Prophet (sa) said: “There are three (persons) whose actions are not recorded: a sleeper till he awakes, a boy till he reaches puberty, and a lunatic till he comes to reason.” (Abu Dawood)

A child below puberty is innocent, which is why he may forget the promises you made (though Allah still remembers them). Because of this, we have to wait till his puberty age, before making our apologies.

This puts most of us in a dilemma – if our children are very young, we may have to wait a while before we can speak to them about our broken promises. A brother suggested writing our apologies in our wills, since we cannot predict, if we will still be around, when our children are old enough for forgiving us. Another brother, understanding the gravity of this sin, went to his parents and forgave them for the promises they had broken to him, Subhan’Allah.

Now, that I understand the weight my words hold, I no longer use such phrases as “in a minute” or “give me a second.” I take myself more seriously and make Dua that my children will too. May Allah (swt) help us make realistic promises, keep our word, and teach our children to keep their promises as well. Ameen.

Remember – Promises are meant to be kept.

Murabaha: An Islamic Sale

Vol 1-Issue 2   Islamic FinanceDifferent types of Sales in Islam

Sales are divided into two categories with respect to cost and price:

1. Bargaining Sale (Musawamah): where the buyer and the seller agree on the selling price without taking into consideration the cost of the merchandise.

2. Trust sales: where the buyer and the seller agree on the price of the merchandise, taking into account its original cost. This type of sale is further subdivided into three types:

a. Murabaha: where the price of the merchandise includes an amount greater than the original cost.

b. Tawliyah: where the price of the merchandise is equal to its cost (i.e., with no profit, nor loss).

c. Wadhee’ah: where the price of the merchandise is less than its cost (i.e., a loss).

Necessary conditions for the validity of the Murabaha sale

1. The buyer should know the cost of the merchandise. If he feels that there has been any deception in setting the price, he has a choice to revoke the sale.

2. The profit should also be known

3. The price and merchandise should not be of the same type (or commodity), otherwise it becomes Riba (Riba Al Hadith, in particular). For instance, if gold is traded with gold, with a difference in the amount it would be riba, and therefore not allowed.

How Murabaha is carried out today

A person wants to buy merchandise but cannot pay its price in cash. He asks the Islamic bank to buy it for him and pay its price in full. Thereafter, the bank buys the merchandise or imports it from the local market and sells it to that person in installments, with a fixed profit that is agreed upon in advance.

Answers to some objections

Skeptics argue that the Murabaha contract involves the sale of the merchandise that is not in the possession of the seller. However, one of the conditions of the Murabaha sale is to ratify the contract only after the bank is in possession of the merchandise. Therefore, this allegation becomes baseless. Another objection raised is that it is a type of loan sale, and a way to circumvent Riba. Once again, this is a false claim because the selling and the buying occur effectively.

Yet another objection raised is that there are two sales in one, which has been forbidden by the Holy Prophet (sa). However, a closer look at the transaction shows that this is not the case. In a Murabaha transaction, the person does not say, “buy this merchandise from me and I will buy it from you at a higher price.” The deal is about a merchandise that the client wants to acquire by buying it in installments from the bank, whom he has asked to purchase from the merchant.

Opponents of Murabaha argue that the promise to buy in a Murabaha contract constitutes an obligation that was not enjoined by the Shariah. However, it is to be noted that the mutual promise between the bank and the client, that includes the promise of the client to buy, and a promise from the bank to execute the sale once it is in possession of the merchandise, is simply a promise and not an obligation. Many Quranic verses and many Ahadeeth have encouraged the fulfillment of promises.

(Adapted from “Selling at a Profit: Murabahah”; Al Jumuah, Vol 12, Issue 11)

Perk up your Home

Noorjehan Arif gives tips on low budget makeovers for your home

The house is a home lived in with love and a sense of belonging. Yet, with time, homes tend to lose their charm to the people living in them. More charm can be invoked and the home can be made to look elegant and well designed with a few changes only. Full-fledged innovations and renovations, exploiting a lot of time, money and effort are not required. Here is what you can do with minimum budget, time, and effort.

  1. Flowers are the best way to improve on the freshness and appeal of any room. A glass vase filled with flowers can add to charm. Large vases with drooping and twisted flower arrangements look better in larger parts of the house like the living room or the guest room making them the focal point of that room. While small arrangements blend well with smaller parts of the house like bedrooms.
  2. Cushions decoratively piled on a bed or sofa can compliment an otherwise drab look. They add a touch of comfort and luxury to a room especially if they are made of lace, velvet, chenille or luxurious, textured fabrics like silk. Additionally, they can add new dimensions to the room by their different shapes and sizes. Larger sized cushions can be placed beside the bed for an extra seating place, while small cushions can be strewn around on the bed and on chairs.
  3. Simply changing or adding colours can do wonders for any room. Splashes of colours in children’s or teen’s bedrooms can make them ‘ultra-cool’. Bed sheets and curtains are one certain way to do that. Brightly patterned bed sheets and light coloured curtains will light up the room without too much of a hassle.
  4. For bed sheets, go for bold designs and prints to add colours but make sure the base colour (background) is light or pastel. Light or pastel base colors will help in blending of the particulars with the room’s general décor while the bright patterns will add the much-required colour. A breezy fresh look can be created for the room by sheer curtains as well. In case you are livening up a serious person’s room, simple non-patterned curtains and bed sheets, or ones with slight patterns and light base colours work marvelously.
  5. One sure-fire way of “doing-up” a room or the entire home for that matter, is eliminating clutter. Clutter not only takes up a lot of space, it also makes any room unappealing for living in. So, clear away paper work, trash and old items, and utilize or give away things you don’t need. Clearly, your home will feel more restful and peaceful to live in.
  6. Frames are another easy way to add a new look to any room of the home. There are several types of frames including pictures, collage or glass paintings. You can have a pick from various shapes, sizes, types like glass or canvas paintings and kinds of frames. Several types of wall hangings can be arranged on the wall including mail sorters, key holders, or even simple hangings like those, which have an Ayah or Surah written or painted on them.
  7. If you have some money to spare in your budget then scour flea markets (Sunday Bazar) etc., a sure and easy way to find cheap and quality stuff to decorate your home. There are several things to choose from in such flea markets. From table lamps to decorative paper weights and from different types of racks for your kitchen like spice racks and cutlery racks, to small decorative pieces for the living room, there is a choice for each and every person while little money is required to splash on such items.
  8. You have thought of it all, your home looks gorgeous ready to be featured in those beautiful home magazines, think again. You can do one more thing – rearrange the furniture. This one aspect of home décor has such limitless possibilities that you are sure to find one that will make your home a dream home for yourself and your family. You can put sofas diagonally against the wall and create a wide space look, or eliminate a piece of furniture to clear up space. It all depends on you and your creative ideas.
  9. Bookshelves have a very special purpose and that is to provide space for those volumes of books, which otherwise you would have to store in boxes. Put a few articles on the shelves, which hold a special meaning to you, like that mug your friend gave you on last Eid.

Learning Through Play!

PlaySafe learning through toys

  • Use recommended age labeling as a guide and look for warnings and other safety messages on toy packaging.
  • Consider the home environment and the ages of other, particularly younger, children in the home. A toy intended for an older child may be unsuitable and possibly dangerous in the hands of a younger child.
  • Be especially careful when selecting toys for children younger than three. Avoid toys with small parts that could be swallowed or inhaled, including small balls and un-inflated balloons, and those with sharp points or rough edges.
  • No matter how old a child is, if he or she is still mouthing objects, be sure toys or pieces of toys are too large to swallow or to become lodged in the mouth or throat.
  • Check for sturdy, well-sewn seams on stuffed animals and cloth dolls. Be certain that any decoration is securely fastened and cannot be pulled or bitten off.

What to look for at child care or preschool

  • Teachers asking and answering questions, talking and listening to children
  • Children read to, at regular times and at children’s request
  • Labels on containers, shelves, and other classroom objects
  • Children’s ideas and stories written and displayed
  • Blocks and other materials for building, sorting, and manipulating
  • Opportunities for running, jumping, climbing, and dramatic play
  • Learning through activities and projects rather than direct instruction in skills and facts

Games for pre-schoolers

Vocabulary: Teach vocabulary through pictures and objects

I spy game: I spy with my little eye in this class beginning with “b”

Riddles: It flies in the air and has wings. It chirps and loves to eat worms. (Bird)

Memory Game: Teacher shows objects on a tray and then removes few from them, children to guess which are missing.

Mystery Game: In a bag keep things beginning with “b”. Children have to feel and name them. (bat -bell – bottle)

Concepts: large, larger, largest

Art Activity: Painting With Carrots

Cut real carrots with 2-3 pieces. Use them like rubber stamp – dip in orange tempera and print to make a letter c.

A child’s imagination knows no boundaries. It has wings that can fly higher than we could ever imagine! The best way to teach them is to play with them. Our words, actions, gestures are the tools that help them learn and grow into individuals with emotions, perspectives and attitudes.

It goes without saying that our choice of toys will greatly impact the moulding of a child’s personality. For example, a child growing up with books will develop deep intellect and power of reason. A child playing with educational toys will learn to explore and use his motor skills more adeptly. A child playing outdoors, will be a rough and tough one. Similarly kids playing with violent toys, highly stimulating video games etc. will raise restless and reckless adults who lack stability and focus in life.

Another important factor is not just to buy toys for kids but spend some quality time playing with them. Truthfully there is much developmental opportunity for parents and teachers to observe child behaviour and enhance learning just at play. It factually reveals a child’s personality in the making and facilitates grown ups to adjust their parenting styles and attitudes accordingly.

The First Ambassador of the Prophet (sa)

Rym Aoudia tells us of a companion who sold the pleasures of the world, and bought what Allah had to offer.

Born into a prosperous family, Musab Ibn Umayr (rta) was pampered since childhood. His family, handsome features, and elegant attire further won him a distinguished position among the Makkan community. But that was not all; he was also intelligent.    Musab’s interest in Prophet Muhammad (sa) reached its peak because of Quraysh’s constant conversations about the Prophet (sa). On finding out that the Prophet (sa) was holding secret meetings with the believers at the home of Al-Arqam, he decided to quench his curiosity and personally meet the Prophet (sa). The Prophet’s (sa) recitation of verses from the Quran pierced his heart and he ended up embracing Islam.

Although now a Muslim who frequented Al-Arqam’s home for knowledge, Musab (rta) kept it secret especially from his mother Khunnas bint Malik-a powerful woman feared by many. But one day Uthman Ibn Talha saw Musab (rta) pray in the same way as he had seen the Prophet (sa). He rushed to tell Musab’s mother, who ordered Musab (rta) to proclaim his new faith publicly before the community of Quraysh. Once he did, she ordered his imprisonment. But he escaped to join a group of Makkan Muslims migrating to Abyssinia.

On Musab’s (rta) return from Abyssinia, his mother once again ordered his confinement. But this time he threatened to kill anyone who carried out her orders. He was serious and his mother knew it, so she gave up the idea. Then Musab (rta) tried to guide her to Islam but to no avail. She ended up disowning him and severing all ties between them. It was a painful decision for both of them.

During Musab’s (rta) mission as the Prophet’s (sa) Ambassador in Madinah, he proved himself a man of dignity. His people skills were the finest. One of the incidents worth mentioning was when a man named Usayd Ibn Khudayr approached him while he was introducing and inviting people of Madinah to Islam. Angry and frustrated Usayd scolded Musab for turning his people away from the idols they and their ancestors had worshipped for centuries. Musab (rta) patiently listened to Usayd’s complaint, and then calmly asked him to sit down and listen to the recitation of the Qur’an. Once Musab (rta) had Usayd’s complete attention he explained the Prophet’s (sa) mission. Usayd ended up embracing Islam, as did the rest of Madinah. Musab (rta) became well known as Musab Al-Khayr (the Good).

His death was an achievement in and of itself. During the battle of Uhud, Musab (rta) tried to distract the enemies from approaching the Prophet (sa). But while holding the banner and professing: “Allah is the Greatest” his right hand was cut off. So he carried the banner with his left hand, but that was also cut off. Still determined to carry the banner of Islam, he held on to it with what was left of his arms. However, he did not survive the third blow and was rewarded martyrdom. Allah bless Musab (rta) who endured life’s hardships for the sweet taste of a life in full devotion to Allah. He never hesitated to leave his life of luxury among his prosperous family, or his reputable position among those of Quraysh for the sake of Allah and His Prophet (sa).

Hypocrites Will Be Hit Hard!

Nayyara Rahman observes, as per Quran, hypocrites will be in the lowest pit of hell. How seriously do we take this admonition?

“And in conclusion, respected teachers and fellow students, let me stress once more that speaking ill of others is the most scandalous devilry, the greatest of sins.” With this, the school’s star orator ended her sermon on the vice of spiteful talk, to be followed with a burst of applause and a shield for her ‘sincere, passionate speech’. Later that day, the speaker was discovered deeply indulged in discussion once more. In a voice loud and clear enough to revive even the dead, she was denouncing an unpopular classmate with rumours and lies that could only lightly be described as ‘malicious’.

When the school’s annual magazine finally came out, one of the most praised and highly spoken of articles was one regarding the evils of smoking. Indeed, it was comprehensive, clear and ardent. The catch? A kid, who had been consistently smoking for three years and was responsible for applying much of the peer pressure that caused other classmates to start puffing, had written it.

Do these people sound familiar? Are they the reminders of our own preach-but-do not-practice policy? Maybe, probably, as a matter of fact, and quite definitely. The hypocrisy in our society is just about as common and blatant as the colour yellow during Basant.

As if peers are not enough, some of our role models and mentors have taken it upon themselves to set examples as well. Some teachers tend to rather eloquently state the importance of honesty, hard work and cleanliness. Unfortunately, these are more often than not the same people who encourage students to memorize MCQs, help them cheat during exams and litter the staff-room.

Acquiring knowledge and ethics is easy. Believing in them and applying them is the hard part. And that is where most of us fail. ‘Equality’ seems to be the mantra on every politician’s lips. But look around you: do you find any leader who is honest, fair and considers his servants and subordinates to be on the same footing as himself?

The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “A hypocrite (Munafiq) is a person who observes the prayer and fast in Ramadan, but when he speaks, he speaks untruth. When he makes a promise, he never keeps it, and when something is entrusted to him, he misuses it.” (Bukhari)

Allah has described these double-faced Munafiqeen in the Quran: “When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone with their Evil Ones, they say: ‘We are really with you. We were only jesting.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:14)

Allah has also explained what lies in store for the hypocrites on the Day of Judgement in comparison to the true followers of Islam: “One day will the hypocrites – men and women – say to the believers: ‘Wait for us! Let us borrow (a light) from your light!’ It will be said: ‘Turn back to your rear! Then seek a light (where you can)!’ So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Within it will be mercy throughout, and without it, all alongside, will be (wrath) and punishment!’ (Al-Hadid 57:13)

So the choice is simply in our own hands. Would we like to give out sermons and set standards for others while we can get away with murder, or do we have the honesty and courage to tread the same path that we exhort people around us to follow?