[Ahmad Family Comics] Tick, Tick, Tick…

This episode is about something many of us struggle with on a daily basis and we’re ruining our lives because of it…

Do you struggle with with this problem? How do you overcome it?

[Click Image to Enlarge]Ahmad Family Comic - Tick, Tick, Tick...

Wasted Blessings

Wasted blessingsAllah (swt) has granted us many blessings, for which we should be thankful to Him. We show gratitude to Allah (swt) by saying ‘Alhumdulillah.’ Another way to thank Allah (swt) is to use those blessings in the most appropriate manner. This includes using them for the right purpose, in the optimum amount, and at the right time and place. We should try not to waste these blessings neither by over-using nor under-using, as Islam teaches us moderation.

Our blessings might be tangible, such as food and water, or intangible, such as our health and youth. We must take guidance from the Quran and the Sunnah on how to use them wisely. If we do so, we will benefit from these blessings in this world and in the Hereafter.

1. Water

Water is a precious blessing of Allah (swt), which we often use in excess.

“… eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Wudu is a great Ibadah. However, the wasting of water is not allowed even during its performance.

Once the Prophet (sa) asked a person, who was performing Wudu: “Why are you wasting water?” The person enquired: “Is there waste even in Wudu?” Rasulullah (sa) replied: “Yes indeed, (do not waste) even if you are at the bank of a river.” (Ibn Majah)

Anas (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet used to take a bath with one Sa or up to five Mudds of water and used to perform ablution with one Mudd of water.” (Bukhari)

Aisha (rta) reports: “The Prophet (sa) used one Mudd of water for Wudu and one Sa for Ghusl.” (Abu Dawood)

On the average, most people use more than six litres of water for one Wudu and about 100 litres for a shower. One Mudd is approximately 1.03 litres, and one Sa is approximately 4.1 litres. In other words, we generally use much more water for Wudu and bathing than Rasulullah (sa).

Allah (swt) has made water for sustaining and nurturing life. He has given water for all of His living creation. As Muslims, we must not spoil the water for others by polluting it, nor deprive others by using more than our share.

Tips

  • During Wudu, don’t let the tap run continuously.  Don’t talk while performing Wudu, as you’ll be wasting water while conversing. Moreover, talking of worldly matters during Wudu is inappropriate.
  • Don’t use water excessively, while washing the car or watering the lawn.
  • Mend all leaking flushes, taps, and pipes, as this can lead to a substantial saving of water.
  • Use the shower sensibly. While waiting for the hot water to come in the shower, gather the running cold water in a bucket. You can use it to clean the bathroom.
  • Do not throw garbage, chemicals, industrial waste, and other hazardous waste in any water body.

2. Food

After mentioning all the different fruits and crops that He has given to the humankind, Allah says: “… and waste not by extravagance. Verily, He likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Anam 6:141)

On the Day of Judgement, each one of us will be asked about what we had used and misused, including the food that we consume and waste.

Tips

Smaller portions.  Don’t stack your plate. Take a little food and finish that before taking the second helping. Restaurants also promote bigger servings, which often cannot be finished in one go, especially by children. Take the leftovers home. Two people can even share one serving of an entrée or a dessert. By your own example, encourage your children to finish all the food on the plate.

Donate food.  A social worker once told about extremely poor women, who asked for bones that people left on their plates, so that they could clean them and cook food for their children. Sends shudders down your spine! There are people, who are desperate to make a meal out of throw-aways, and there are people, who are careless enough to throw palatable food in the garbage.

Give away the excess food to the poor in your area or to charity organizations. For instance, Alamgir Welfare Trust Karachi (contact numbers: 0333-315-5369, 0303-729-8052, 493-2283, 493-5824) offers to collect food from your function venue, which saves you the time and effort to arrange the delivery of food.

Recycling. Leftovers and excess food can be turned into a new dish! How about making Parathas with leftover Aloo Bhurta or Qeema! Leftover Salan can be re-cooked with rice to make a quick Biryani.

Food for Plants. Rotting leftovers, stale food, and even kitchen ‘garbage,’ such as vegetable and fruit peels, can be stashed at the back of the lawn in containers, along with leaves, some soil, and cut grass to make homemade fertilizer (or compost), which is excellent for your plants.

Feed animals. Another way to avoid wasting of food is to feed it to pets or birds. I have often observed elders crumbling old bread to feed the birds. Encourage kids to do the same.

3. Talent and Knowledge

Allah (swt) has blessed each one of us with special skills. Some are great at writing, while others at teaching; some are good at listening and giving consolation to the sick and the elderly, while others excel at cooking and sewing. However, many either are not aware of these God-given talents or do not consider them important. Some take these talents for granted, while others might be using them for purposes that are not dear to Allah (swt).

Tips

  • Do a self-appraisal by making a list of things you are skilled at, have a natural flair for or would like to learn or improve upon.
  • Utilize these talents at home and outside, according to the Quran and the Sunnah. Write meaningful articles or books, teach Tajweed or crafts, form a group to visit the sick in a hospital or cook for some elderly relatives on weekly basis.
  • Join organizations, groups or individuals, who are already involved in doing work to please Allah (swt).

4. Wealth

The Quran states: “But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shaitans, and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:26-27)

Tips

  • Buy only when you need and not to hoard or splurge. Avoid impulse buying. Make a list of things you need and stick to it.
  • Don’t be tempted by advertisements.
  • Put a Sadaqa box or envelope in your house and encourage your family to contribute.
  • We hoard clothes, shoes, decorative items, cutlery, dinner-sets, linen… – most of these just lie in cupboards, hardly used. Keep a check on such spending as well.

5. Youth

The Prophet (sa) said: “The feet of a human being will not depart on the Day of Judgment from his standing before his Lord, until he is questioned about five things: his lifetime – how he passed it, his youth – how he used it, his wealth – where he earned it and how he spent it, and how he followed what he knew.” (Tirmidhi)

Youth is the age for high aspirations, productive work, and achievement. Its value is fully realized only when the limbs become less agile, you get tired easily, and start losing that sharp memory. Before that happens, why not strive to achieve Allah’s (swt) pleasure by leaning towards all that He has recommended and staying away from what He has forbidden?

6. Time and Health

The Prophet (sa) said: “There are two blessings, which many people lose. (They are) health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari)

Each moment passes, never to return. Are we doing all we can to make the most of it or are we busy in the matters, which will have scant or no value in the Hereafter? We might think slouching in front of the TV or gossiping over the phone is a good way to pass our free time. Of course, we need to relax, catch a nap, and call up friends. Nevertheless, some of our free time can be devoted on a regular basis to gaining or spreading knowledge, doing Nafl Ibadah or listening to Islamic lectures.

Tips

  • We can make a to-do list of our daily activities, set the priorities, and try our best to finish these tasks.
  • We can analyze our daily, weekly, and monthly achievements. This can slowly become a habit, which will save a lot of misappropriated time and energy, Insha’ Allah.
  • Our health is a blessing, without which we would not be able to enjoy any of the other blessings. When we are in good health, why waste it on frivolous acts, such as non-stop shopping sprees or hours in the beauty salon?

Tips

  • Use the perfect vision to read the Quran, Tafseer, and books of Hadeeth.
  • Use the sharp hearing to listen to the cries of the needy.
  • Use the agile limbs to go to the Masjid for Salah in Jamat and run errands for relatives and community.

In conclusion, let us take inspiration from these words of the Prophet (sa): “Allah will give shade to seven on the Day, when there will be no shade but His. (These seven persons are) (1) a just ruler, (2) a youth, who has been brought up in the worship of Allah (swt)  (i.e., worships Allah (swt) sincerely from childhood), (3) a man, whose heart is attached to the mosques (i.e., to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation), (4) two persons, who love each other only for Allah’s (swt) sake and they meet and part in Allah’s (swt) cause only, (5) a man, who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: ‘I am afraid of Allah (swt),’ (6) a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e., nobody knows, how much he has given in charity), and (7) a person, who remembers Allah (swt) in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.”  (Bukhari)

Tipu Sultan

Hafsa Ahsan lifts up our spirits with an account of a Muslim leader, popularly known as the Tiger King.

In the wake of the current state of Muslim rulers, who succumb easily to their enemies, the life of Tipu Sultan stands as a shining example of a ruler, who chose martyrdom instead of defeat.

Fatah Ali Tipu was born on December 10, 1750, at Devanhalli, Saringapattam. His father was Sultan Haider Ali of Mysore.

He was trained in the art of warfare at a young age – specifically, fencing, sword fighting, and the use of the firearms. He also had a passion for learning, and his personal library comprised of more than 2,000 books in various languages.

Tipu Sultan earned the title of the ‘Tiger King’ as a result of a hunting experience, when he threw his sword and instantly killed a tiger that sprang up in front of his and his French guest’s horse.

In 1782, when Sultan Haider Ali was killed, Tipu Sultan took over the kingdom of Mysore. He proved to be an ideal and benevolent ruler. He treated his non-Muslim subjects justly. He took on many projects, such as the building of dams in order to facilitate agriculture. He built roads to improve the physical infrastructure. In addition, he improved the industrial infrastructure by introducing many new industries. Under his rule, he promoted trade and commerce on a large scale.

When the British came for trade in India, Tipu Sultan foresaw their aim to colonize the country. Hence, driving the British out of the subcontinent became his major aim. Realizing that they could not carry out their ulterior motives with him in power, the British allied with Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marhattas. What ensued were quite a few Anglo-Mysore battles, in which the army of Tipu Sultan fought against the British allied forces.

However, the British still couldn’t defeat Tipu Sultan, so they took help from two main traitors in the Sultan’s camp – Purnia, the military commander, and Mir Sadiq, the Prime Minister. During the fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1798, these two traitors played a major part in aiding the British troops to enter the capital city, without the knowledge of the Sultan.

When Tipu Sultan heard the news, he marched out of the fort with his small army. But Mir Sadiq prevented him by closing the gates of the fort. Fortunately, one of the Sultan’s loyal soldiers managed to kill Mir Sadiq. At the heat of the battle, Purnia suddenly ordered all the troops to go back to the barracks, thus clearing the enemy’s way. British troops started entering the fort. Tipu Sultan ordered for the gates to be opened, but the gatekeeper refused to take the order.

The Sultan was ordered to surrender and sign a peace treaty with the British. To this, Tipu Sultan replied: “A day’s life of a tiger is better than a hundred years of a jackal.” He then plunged into the enemy ranks with swords in both hands. He killed scores of them. Even when his mare was shot, he continued to fight on foot till he embraced martyrdom. Even today, Tipu Sultan’s statement is widely quoted in history textbooks, his name stands out among those, who chose to fight rather than surrender.

Sujood-As-Sahu

SujoodWe often find our minds wandering during Salah: tasks to be done, friends to call, memories of days gone by – all kinds of important and more often unimportant reflections vie for our attention, just as we are trying to call out to our Lord. Prophet Muhammad (sa) warned us that although Shaitan flees on hearing the Adhan and Iqama (calls to prayer): “He returns again, and whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things, which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget, how much he has prayed.” (Bukhari)

Sometimes, we end up omitting from Salah, adding to it, or having doubts regarding a part of our prayer. In all three cases, we have been instructed by our beloved Prophet’s (sa) example to perform Sujood-as-Sahu (two prostrations of forgetfulness).

Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas (rta): “The Prophet (sa) named the two prostrations of forgetfulness disgraceful for the devil.” (Abu Dawood)

Abu Hurairah (rta) describes the way the Prophet (sa) performed these prostrations: “He said Takbir (Allahu Akbar), performed a prostration of ordinary duration or longer, then he raised his head and said Takbir and performed another prostration of ordinary duration or longer, and then raised his head and said Takbir (i.e., he performed the two prostrations of Sahu, i.e., forgetfulness).”

The point of prayer, when the prostrations must be made, depends on the error committed.

The Error of Adding to Salah

When addition is made to the positions of Salah-bowing, prostrating, standing or an entire Rakah (unit or prayer)-Sujood-as-Sahu must be preformed after Salam.

The Prophet (sa) once made five Rakahs, instead of four, for Dhuhr. When questioned about the addition, he made two prostrations (Sujood-as-Sahu). He had also pointed out: “I am a human being like you and liable to forget like you. So if I forget, remind me…” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Note: If you realize you are adding a Rakah while still praying, stop and return to the original position before the addition was made, complete the Salah, and perform Sujood-as-Sahu.

Furthermore, if one adds Salam before completing the required Rakahs (for example, making two Rakahs and then saying Salam (ending Salah), where four Rakahs are required), the missing Rakahs must be prayed as soon as the omission is remembered. In this case, Sujood-as-Sahu should be preformed after Salam. “Once, the Prophet (sa) led the Dhuhr prayer, offering only two Rakat and then (finished it) with Salam. The people then informed him, upon which he proceeded and completed his prayer and then prostrated twice after Salam. He also said Salam after completing the two prostrations.” (Bukhari)

However, if your Wudu needs to be repeated (due to nullification: by passing wind, answering the call of nature or vomiting) before praying the omitted Rakahs of Salah, you must then repeat the entire Salah again, regardless of the Rakahs you had previously prayed.

The Error of Omitting from Salah

If omission is made from the positions of Salah, the prostrations of forgetfulness are preformed before Salam.

“Allah’s Messenger (sa) stood up for the Dhuhr prayer and he should have sat (after the second Rakah, but he stood up for the third Rakah without sitting for Tashah-hud (the sitting position after the second Rakah), and when he finished the prayer, he performed two prostrations and said Takbir on each prostration while sitting, before ending (the prayer) with Salam; and the people too performed the two prostrations with him, instead of the sitting he forgot.” (Bukhari)

The Case of Doubt in Salah

When unsure of how many Rakahs have preformed, the lesser number must be considered and the prayer accordingly completed with Sujood-as-Sahu made before making Salam. The Prophet (sa) has instructed:

“When any one of you is in doubt about his prayer, and he does not know, how much he has prayed, three or four (Rakahs), he should cast aside his doubt and base his prayer on what he is sure of, then perform two prostrations before giving salutations. If he has prayed five Rakahs, they will make his prayer an even number for him, and if he has prayed exactly four, they will be humiliation for the devil.” (Muslim)

However, if a person positively determines the number of Rakahs preformed, then he should complete his Salah accordingly with Sujood-as-Sahu after the Salam.

“If any of you is uncertain about his prayer (how much he has prayed), he should strive to achieve certainty, then complete his prayer accordingly and prostrate twice after Salam” (Bukhari).

Thus, our beloved Prophet (sa) has guided us in correcting unintentional errors in Salah, so we may defy Shaitan by making our prayers acceptable to Allah (swt) and continue to strive for perfection in Salah.

ERROR MADE  EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE ERRORS WHEN SUJOOD-AS-SAHU IS PREFORMED
Addition to Salah. Addition of a prostration, Ruku (bowing), or Rakah (5 made, when 4 required). After Salam.
Salam is made before completing all required Rakahs (the Salam is considered an addition), as a result of what Salah is cut short (2 Rakahs preformed instead of 4). Forgotten Rakahs should be made and Sujood-as-Sahu performed after Salam.
Omission from Salah. A bowing, prostration, or sitting is omitted. Forgetting to say Takbir during the prayer. Before Salam.
Doubts in Salah. Uncertainty about the number of Rakahs performed. Assume the lesser number of Rakahs you are sure about, complete the remaining Rakahs, and make Sujood-as-Sahu before Salam.
At first, in doubt about the number of Rakahs made, but then positively determining the exact number. Complete Salah according to the determined number of Rakahs and make Sujood-as-Sahu after Salam.

 

The Call towards Allah (swt)

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Dawah The call towards Allah swt“So the earthquake seized them and they lay [dead], prostrate in their homes. Those who belied Shoaib, became as if they had never dwelt there [in their homes]. Those who belied Shoaib, they were the losers. Then he [Shoaib] turned from them and said: ‘O my people! I have indeed conveyed my Lord’s Messages unto you and I have given you good advice…” (Al-Araf 7:91-93)

This Ramadan, Allah the most Merciful, destined for me to attend Daur-e-Quran (Quran’s commentary and understanding) conducted by Sheikh Abu Khalid. When our discussion led us to the above Ayah, the Sheikh explained a critical requisite for every Da’ee (the one who invites towards Allah’s (swt) Deen): a sense of selflessness and sincerity towards everyone he invites. Vital for Dawah is the presence of an untainted feeling of empathy that is free from ridicule, ulterior motives, accusations, and selfish designs.

As human beings, we all judge a book by its cover, as only Allah (swt) knows what a man’s heart reveals and conceals. Our body language, tools of communication and mannerisms convey to others our purpose of action. If we are successful in translating our sincerity to others, they will realize that our Dawah is only for the sake and pleasure of Allah (swt) rather than material benefit. A selfless Da’ee does it out of care and concern for the well-being of the approximately 4.75 billion non-Muslim of today.

As Da’ees it is mandatory for us to constantly check our intentions: Do we want salvation for those who have not yet experienced the beauty of Quran and Sunnah? Or are we one of those who constantly speaks ill of other faiths and wants to see them doomed? If that is the motive, then it is in grave contradiction to what our Prophet Muhammad (sa) felt for people out of the fold of Islam. Allah (swt) has repeatedly referred to the Apostle’s (sa) love and sincerity towards the whole of humankind, although it distressed him when people refuted the word of Allah (swt). In one of the verses Allah (swt) states: “Perhaps, you, would kill yourself [O Muhammad saw] in grief, over their footsteps [for their turning away from you], because they believe not in this narration (the Quran).” (Al-Kahf 18:6)

Once a Jewish boy was seriously ill and the Messenger of Allah (sa) visited him to inquire about his health. As the boy lay in bed, the Prophet (sa) asked him to repeat: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.” The boy turned his face towards his father asking for permission. His father was silent, expecting Muhammad (sa) to leave upon this cold treatment. So the boy remained silent too. Allah’s Messenger (sa) did not give up; he repeated the request and the boy looked towards his father once again. His father still remained silent. The Prophet (sa) repeated his request a third time. When the boy looked towards his father for approval, his father’s heart melted and he said, “Do as Abu Qasim tells you to.” The boy recited the Kalima and died. The Prophet’s (sa) joy knew no bounds. His face radiated with delight and as he stepped out he glorified Allah for saving this boy from the Hell fire. (Bukhari)

This must be the level of every Da’ee’s earnestness and genuineness. The Quran is full of such examples of our Messenger’s (sa) sincerity, which enabled him to become Allah’s (swt) beloved. As Da’ees, if our motive is just that we will learn to love humanity in general and be concerned about their welfare.

Hope and Fear

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Hope & FearA true believer is like a bird flying with two wings. One constitutes fear and the other hope. Analyzing the optimistic side, concerning the colossal tragedy that struck Pakistan, one may find solace in Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth narrated by Abu Huraira (rta): “The martyrs are of five kinds: One who dies of plague, one who dies of disease of his belly, the drowned, one who dies under the debris (of construction, etc.), and one who dies while fighting in the way of Allah.” (Bukhari and Muslim) This is the reward for all God fearing Momins.

The Prophet (sa) has also said: “There are three (kinds of people) whose actions are not recorded: a sleeper until he awakens, a boy (referring to children) until he reaches puberty, and a lunatic until he comes to reason.” (Abu Dawood) We can earnestly pray that all the innocent children, who were crushed to death, find the everlasting peace in Paradise, Insha’Allah.

Incidentally, in August 2005, I was up in the same mountains, relishing the beauty of North Pakistan that is beyond words. Had I not been there, I would probably have never felt this grief, guilt, and anger, which I feel today.

Even prior to the earthquake, these people had harsh lives with no electricity, gas, and other heating equipment, especially during winters that lasted nearly six months. Last year, they had 17&1/2 ft. of snow. Their survival depended on chopping down trees for firewood and sincere prayers to Allah (swt). Among the many monstrous glaciers that rolled down taking along everybody and everything on their way, stood adamantly one that was still intact even in the heat of August summer.

In remote areas, the roads were no better than they are today, in the aftermath of the earthquake. We were driving at 30 km per hour, which was ‘jet speed.’ Our mobile phones rested in peace due to no signals. We had travelled to another time zone. The medieval times these mountain dwellers lived in made me forget that Pakistan was actually created 58 years ago. For the poor, time had frozen at the top of the mountains, while life, growth, and investments moved forward in the metropolitan areas of the country.

Apparently the habitants prayed regularly, thanked Allah (swt) for His blessings, offered sincere hospitality, and refused any kind of monetary assistance feeling offended.

No mortal can decipher Allah’s (swt) plans however this earthquake could have meant different things for different people. For some it was purification from their sins, for some it was a punishment from Allah (swt) and for spectators such as us, it was a stern warning to quit transgressing and return to the path of Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) states: “Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, and then it should quake? Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) was My Warning.” (Al-Mulk 67:16-17)

Quran also states: “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned…” (Ash-Shurah 42:30)

The killer earthquake swallowed one hundred thousand lives, rendered three hundred thousand homeless, and traumatically billed the government for a loss worth billions of US Dollars. The silver lining to the cloud was the eager spirit of community service that rose from the ashes. It felt good to see strangers going the extra mile to care for the injured and bury the dead. The nation united as one. It was Allah’s mercy that got instilled in our hearts of stone. It was Him, Who sent us relief. The Quran states: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5)

However, the ground reality is still quite sticky. Major cities of Pakistan continue to be rocked every now and then, sending a chill down everyone’s spine. For the Friday (Jummah prayers) following the earthquake, the government announced an official nation wide day of repentance. In all Jummah prayers of that day, Muslims were to seek the forgiveness of Allah (swt). But I just wonder is a day’s repentance sufficient for a lifetime’s sins? Isn’t it about time that we mend our ways for good and start a new?

The International Red Cross released a World Disaster Report for 2005, stating that 360 natural disasters had been counted in 2004 in comparison with 239 in 1995. 901,177 people lost their lives in the last ten years, compared to 643,418 people in the previous decade. Their explanation for the rise in these figures is simply the growth of population.

The scientific and logical explanations to such phenomenon absolve people from their responsibilities and generate excuses, such as population density, poor infrastructure, etc. These are Satan’s devices to prevent people from a deeper introspection. We are so consumed by figuring out the scientific and superficial causes of these disasters that we forget we consist of not just bodies but also souls. Like it or not but every soul has to return to Allah (swt) eventually.

A dear friend of mine commented: “If everybody admits that this was a natural disaster, who is the Owner and the Creator of nature?” Do we not even want to think for a moment that this could have been the penalty of our wrongdoings? May Allah (swt) help us, if the rotting corpses don’t revive our faith and pull us out of this state of denial.

Allah (swt) destroyed all previous nations due to some highlighted sin of theirs, such as trade malpractices in the people of Madyan, arrogance among the followers of Firoun, etc. If today we were asked to conduct an individual self-appraisal, alarmingly, we would find multiple sins prevalent in our lives, for which entire generations were wiped out earlier.

For many of us who think Allah’s (swt) wrath is only for the heedless and we are ever so pious should consider the following Hadeeth narrated by Aisha (rta). Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “An army will invade the Ka’ba and when the invaders reach Al-Baida’, all the ground will sink and swallow the whole army.” Aisha (rta) inquired: “O Allah’s Messenger! How will they sink into the ground while amongst them will be their markets (the people who worked in business and not invaders) and the people not belonging to them?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “All of those will sink but they will be resurrected and judged according to their intentions.” (Bukhari)

Religion is no personal matter for Pakistanis anymore. Its time for every responsible believer to enjoin good and forbid evil if he wants to salvage himself. History proves if a nation indulges too deep in sins, no one will be spared. We have to be mindful, however, that we can be the next ones bearing the brunt of another natural disaster, God forbid.

Beautiful Names

Vol 2 -Issue 4     Beautiful names

1. Ar-Razzaq: The Provider

Allah says in the Quran: “… Is there any creator other than Allah, who provides for you from the sky (rain) and the earth?…” (Fatir 35:3)

Allah (swt) is the one Who provides sustenance as well as the means to enjoy that sustenance. He provides the mankind with different foods, as well as the sense of taste and hunger to enjoy it. ‘Rizq’ is a very comprehensive word that includes everything that we enjoy, benefit from, and make use of. Sustenance is of two types: one that benefits our body such as food, fresh air, and clean water; the other that benefits our soul, which, if properly used, can ultimately lead to Paradise, where Allah’s (swt) provision is eternal. Examples of this kind of sustenance are: knowledge to give guidance, speech to bear witness and to teach, and hands to distribute alms. Allah (swt) extends sustenance to whomever He wills. Allah (swt) alone, the Great and Glorious, is the Provider. We should rely on Allah (swt) and no one else for sustenance. We should understand that people or things are only the means of providing sustenance and not the providers themselves. Indeed, believing in the latter is a grave sin.

2. Al-Fattah: The Opener

By Allah’s (swt) providence, whatever is closed gets opened. He has the keys to the heavens and the earth. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran: “Whatever of mercy (i.e., of good), Allah (swt) may grant to mankind, none can withhold it …” (Fatir 35: 2) Similarly, He opens the doors of sustenance, and success in this world to whomever He wills. Doors of great empires were opened for the Prophets by the will of Allah (swt). The doors of knowledge are opened for those He wants to guide to the straight path. Allah (swt) unveils the hearts of people and shows them the light of Islam. He opens up the earth to provide fruits for its creatures. We should do good deeds so that the Opener opens to us an abundance of goodness.

3. Al-Alim: The All Knower / the Omniscient

Allah’s (swt) knowledge is infinite and perfect. Things are derived from Allah’s (swt) knowledge, while our knowledge is derived from the things we know. Allah (swt) has the knowledge of the seen and unseen, the past and future. Angels, while accepting the fact that Allah (swt) is All Knowing say, to Allah (swt) in the Holy Quran: “Glory is to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:32)

Similarly, our knowledge is limited to what Allah (swt) has given us. Allah (swt) says: “Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” (Al-Alaq 96:4-5) People are liable to fall into Shirk, if they believe that anyone other than Allah (swt) has the knowledge of the unseen. Only Allah (swt) knows the state of the heart of people, for He says in the Holy Quran that He has the knowledge of our faith. So, we must perform good deeds for the sake of Allah (swt) rather than for showing off and be aware of the fact that Allah (swt) has knowledge of ones deeds and He alone can give the reward. At the same time, this attribute of Allah should serve as a warning not to commit sins – since Allah (swt) has the knowledge of our bad deeds, He can also punish us.

Oman: The Essence of Arabia

Vol 2 -Issue 4 OmanOman’s capital city Muscat is recognized as one of the cleanest cities in the world. Another city in Oman, called Salalah, is popular for its cold and rainy weather during the summer and for its luscious greenery. During that period, people might even forget that they are in a Middle Eastern country and confuse it for Europe. But our fascination does not end there.

Located in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman enjoys a variety of landscapes. Mountains, deserts, and beaches are a few examples of this great diversity. While Oman strives for modernity and development, traditions and culture remain an important part of its identity.  Because of this, Oman is frequently called “The Essence of Arabia.” The country is certainly full of surprises, and together we will discover some of its hidden treasures. So, welcome to Oman!

Restaurants

The restaurants in Oman are many, ranging from European cuisines to Arabian and Asian. Let us then whet our appetite with some examples.

Bin Ateeq 

What is unique about this restaurant is that you can dine in a room of your own with a TV in it.  Its specialty is Omani food, and favorites include Biryani, Kabsa, Thareed and Arsiya.

Mumtaz Mahal

This is an Indian restaurant with magnificent views that look out over the city of Muscat. A variety of Indian food is served and particularly that of the Moghul Empire.

Tuscany

In a friendly atmosphere, this restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine and provides both the traditional and popular Italian food, varying from heavy dishes to the lighter ones.

China Mood

Whoever is in the mood for Chinese food should visit this restaurant. Many of the ingredients also come directly from China to ensure high quality.

Tours and Activities

Oman offers its visitors a variety of tours and activities. Many people enjoy boat rides, dolphin watching, rock climbing, hiking, horse-back riding, diving and snorkeling, sand skiing, and even camping out.

Parks

All the parks in Oman are free to enter. You will notice a number of families enjoying a picnic, as their children play in the playground. The largest park is the Qurum Natural Park, which can be seen from distance with its dazzling ‘waterfall hill’.

Forts and Castles

There are over 500 forts, castles, and towers in Oman, which are regarded as the most remarkable cultural attractions. Historically, they have been used to guard and defend the people. Their architectural styles differ depending on their architects and the periods they were built in. Some of the forts are Al-Jalali fort, Al-Mirani fort, Rustaq fort, Nizwa fort, Jibreen fort, and Bahla fort.

Bahla fort is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some of the castles are Al-Hazm castle, Mirbat castle, and Al-Khandaq castle. These historical places must surely have many stories to tell.

Museums

Bait al Zubair

Even though this is Oman’s newest museum, it has quickly gained repute. The museum has a vast collection of ancient Omani weaponry, jewellery, costumes, and household equipment. Visitors will also enjoy a traditional Omani village and Souq.

The National Museum

It exhibits collections of ancient Omani art, including Omani silverwork, jewellery, costume, and pottery. It also outlines the Al-Said dynasty with pictures of the five Al-Said Sultans.

The Natural History Museum

Here you will find an interesting display of Oman’s wildlife and marine life. For example, showcased are the country’s indigenous species. There is also a botanical garden, which is especially great to visit during the cooler days.

The Omani Museum

Founded in 1974, it exhibits the history of Oman through pictures, jewellery, costumes, and pottery. Included is also a wealth of archaeological information along with data about Oman’s minerals, agricultural methods, and unique architecture.

The Children’s Museum

Children also like to have their share of fun. In this blue and white domed museum, they are introduced to the world of science in an interactive and exciting way.

The Grand Mosque

The building of this mosque lasted for six years from 1995 to 2001. It can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers and consists of the main prayer hall, the ladies prayer hall, a meeting hall, and a library. The mosque is also surrounded by many trees and has a picturesque garden. Besides the artistic interior designing, one of the major features of the mosque is the hand-made Persian carpet in the main prayer hall. It took four years to complete the carpet with 600 female weavers working on it. In addition, the mosque has an Islamic Studies institute and holds many Islamic events.

Salalah Khareef Festival

Khareef is the Arabic word for autumn. Each summer, the city of Salalah holds a Khareef festival (usually during July and August). This is a must-see attraction, and it has become greatly popular among the Gulf nationals, expatriates, and foreign tourists. Visitors are dazzled with its autumn-like climate during the summer along with its breathtaking natural scenes of soaring mountains, plentiful greenery, and spectacular flowers.

Shopping

Modern shops and traditional shops (or Souqs) are within easy reach. Most of the malls are located in the capital, Muscat. However, many of the visitors are interested in the Souqs, where they will find Omani traditional goods, ranging from clothing to frankincense. A well-known Souq is Souq Matrah, which attracts many tourists. Make sure you learn the skill of bargaining before heading to the Souq. It will certainly save you some money!

Discovering Oman

Many tourists keep coming back to visit Oman and to discover more of its treasures. What inspires them is the country’s safety and tranquility along with its balance between modernity and traditions. Yet, most importantly, many people keep coming back because of the great hospitality and the friendly Omanis.

Shariah Rulings on Smoking

smokingNaissance of Tobacco

Most likely, Mexicans were the first ones to know about tobacco – over 2500 years ago. A Spanish explorer brought the tobacco plant from Mexico to Spain during the reign of King Philip II. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, smoking became quite common all over Europe.

It was through Europe that Africans and Asians learnt about smoking. A Jewish man carried tobacco to Morocco and the neighbouring Arab countries towards the end of the 10th century after Hijra (16th century AD), while a Christian took it all the way from England to Turkey. It reached Egypt, the Hijaz, and the countries of central Africa.

Rulings on Smoking

According to Dr. Ahmed Al-Haji Al-Kardi: “Smoking has not been mentioned during the period of Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence), in which the Shariah was formalized and classified. However, following generations of Fiqh scholars took it upon themselves to study the practice of smoking, since it appeared to be an underlying cause of increasing occurrences of acts of disobedience.”

This was certainly not an impediment. However, scholars have not reached a consensus. Some consider it Haram (forbidden), while others – Makrooh (disliked). Each opinion mentions the sins, with which smoking is associated, and justifies it with Daleel (proof). Following is an analysis of the ruling that considers smoking Haram and substantiates this claim. Allah knows best.

Smoking Being Haram

Based on research, medical doctors report that smoking is harmful to health in general and is the cause of some 25 different illnesses. Hence, scholars categorize it as Haram, based on Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth: “There should be no damage made and no causing of damage” (Ibn Majah). Besides, Allah in Quran forbids believers to harm themselves: “And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever merciful.” (An-Nisa 4:29)

Tobacco kills a smoker every eight seconds. Generally, smokers are known to die 10 to 12 years earlier than non-smokers. According to data released by World Health Organization (WHO), every year tobacco kills 4.9 million people worldwide. About 500 million people alive today will be eventually killed by tobacco.

The FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) requires all tobacco companies to cover at least 30% of every cigarette pack with health warnings and to ban euphemistic adjectives, such as ‘light’ or ‘mild,’ to describe cigarettes. Even those, who manufacture it, concede to this requirement, because they are aware that smoking is injurious to health.

Tobacco contains intoxicating drugs, and all intoxicants are Haram. Umm Salamh says: “The Prophet of Allah (sa) forbade every intoxicant and everything that produces languor” (Abu Dawood).

Smoking causes bad breath, which is not permissible. This is justified by the Hadeeth narrated by Jabir: “The angels dislike, whatever the children of Adam dislike.” (Muslim)

For passive smokers, the danger of smoke doesn’t lessen. For this very reason even in secular countries, such as USA, no-smoking zones have been created not to jeopardize public health.

Smoking is a waste, and waste is Haram. The following Quranic verses support this: “.. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shaitan…” (Al-Isra 17:26-27)

Economically the downside to smoking is copious. In countries, such as USA, medical care for smoking-related illnesses costs about USD50 billion annually. Pakistan government cannot even dream of spending this kind of money on healthcare, though similar illnesses cost exorbitantly households, which have patients suffering from smoking-related diseases.

In the developing nations, where food is scarce, fertile land is used to cultivate tobacco for the top five consumers of the world: China, Japan, USA, Russia, and Indonesia. The poor simply go hungry. Many middle class people spend a large proportion of their income on tobacco rather than food.

In developed nations, careless disposal of cigarettes has been a leading cause for starting forest fires.

Pakistan — A Haven for Tobacco Industry

Dr. Zubair Shaheen reported in Dawn, how the tobacco industry has discovered a haven in many developing countries, where the regulations are often lax. To capture emerging markets, they lower the prices, advertise generously, and promote their product, especially among the youth. Pakistan Paediatric Association states that 1,000 to 1,200 children between the ages of six and sixteen years take up smoking every day.

Pakistan has ratified the FCTC, which is the world’s first global agreement devoted entirely to tobacco control. Issues addressed in the FCTC include tobacco advertising, promotion, smuggling, taxes, cessation, treatment, passive smoking, and tobacco product regulations.

The government of Pakistan has promulgated the ordinance entitled “Prohibition of Smoking at Public Places and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002” aimed to restrict the promotional campaigns of tobacco industry. These restrictions, though partial in nature, are the first statutory move towards restricting smoking. There is urgent need now for effective implementation of laws and regulations.

Ironically, according to Pakistna Tobacco Corporation, since 1947 Pakistan has earned approximately Rs.54 billion worth of revenue. It also offers jobs to nearly 2 million individuals. This can be a temptation for the government to look the other way.

The Irreversible Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

The American Council on Science and Health has disclosed the following ailments that can affect smokers:

Respiratory System

Smoking is a cause of lung cancer. It directly irritates and damages the respiratory tract, leading to bad breath, cough, sputum production, and wheezing.

Heart and Circulation

It is also responsible for Atherosclerosis (the progression of fatty deposits in the carotid artery) and Cerebrovascular accident or stroke that causes brain damage.

Eyes and Vision

Macular degeneration (irreversible form of blindness) and cataracts (clouding of the lenses) are some of the results of smoking.

Mouth and Throat

Smoking can lead to mouth, throat, and esophageal cancer, gum disease, tooth loss, and   permanent damage to the larynx tissues.

Digestive Organs

Smoking decreases esophageal sphincter pressure leading to esophagitis and to permanent esophageal stricture. It is also a risk factor for pancreatic and colon cancer.

Musculoskeletal System

Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones due to loss of bone minerals) in women and spinal disk disease in both sexes can be developed by smokers.

Reproduction

Infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth are more common among smokers. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is another risk factor.

The Skin

Smoking causes premature facial wrinkling through vasoconstriction of the capillaries of the face.

As rational humans, none of us would dare to consume poison, since we realize it will lead us to instant death. However, we ignore all the warnings that do not have an instant impact, such as puffing cigarettes. Whether smoking is a need, social practice, or a stress reliever, kick the habit for lifetime, before you become a statistic, too. No further evidence or debate is required to prove that if you smoke, you are on your way to taking your own life.

Discipline – Noise Control

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Discipline-Noise controlDiscipline is a common challenge for teachers both new and old. Structure and fairness combined with clear goals and lesson planning in a caring, non-threatening environment are the keys to effective and successful teaching. Teaching is not an easy profession, even if you are the most experienced teacher. Through each situation there is a lesson to be learned. Here are some suggestions and ideas for disciplining students and controlling the noise level in classrooms.

Quiet Lights

When the class gets too noisy, switch off all the classroom lights and fans. When the children realize that the room has suddenly turned dark, you have their attention. They will see you at the switch with your finger on your lips gesturing them to be quiet and understand that they need to stop making noise and focus on the task at hand. Don’t do it too often or it won’t be as effective.

Cooperative Coloured Circles

When working with cooperative groups, you can keep the noise level under control by using colored circles. If a group is on a task and use quiet voices, give them a green circle. If they need to be reminded about the noise level, give them a yellow circle. If a group is way off from the task, give them a red circle and step in to give them assistance. This is a great way to model appropriate behavior, when you are just beginning to establish group rules. It also saves time, because it does not interrupt the entire class, when one group is off track.

Appropriate ‘Talking Times’

Students love to have time to talk. In order to keep them from doing it during instruction, you can apply the ‘My Time’ strategy. During ‘My Time,’ students must pay attention. They neither can talk nor disturb others, who are paying attention. At the end of class, ‘Their Time’ is the last five minutes, when they can talk amongst themselves.

Awesome Noise Control

Write the word ‘awesome’ on the board. When there is noise in the class, erase a letter starting backwards. If the class makes it to break time with the word intact, they sit where they like. If not, they are assigned seats. If they lose the entire word by the end of the day, they are deprived of their lunch break. If the entire word was intact at the end of the day, they are rewarded with 15 extra rewards for the next day. With each next day you will notice an improvement.

Waiting Cards

You can use numbered cards to organize students, who need her individual attention. Laminate the cards made for your classroom and place them in order in a basket. When you are busy talking to someone, a student can come up, take a card, and go back to the seats instead of waiting in line. When you are finished with one student, you can call on the next number and conference with that student.

Safekeeping Box

Sometimes children bring things from home to play with, which, of course, distracts them. You can resolve this problem by creating a safekeeping box. Take a medium-sized box with a lid, decorate it, and put a label on the box that says ‘Items in safekeeping, to be returned later.’ When you see children playing with something that is distracting them, ask them to put it in the safekeeping box and let them know that they can retrieve their item at the end of the day. This validates their personal treasures and assures their return. Additionally, it cuts down on distractions in the classroom, as the students quickly learn to avoid having things put into the box.

Quote the Student

When trying to convince a student to change his or her behavior, you will benefit from framing a persuasive message that quotes the student. You can say: “Danish, you said something the other day that I can’t get out of my mind,” or “Something you said made me start thinking.” You’ll find that many students, who appear to be non-listeners, will be intrigued, when you use this personalized technique. As a result, they will not be able to resist listening and responding to what you have to say.

General Discipline Tips

(1)   Over-correction

There are two types of over-correction procedures that you may be familiar with. During restitution training, a student is required to improve. For example, if Erum writes on the wall, she is required to clean the whole wall, instead of just the space she wrote on. The other type of positive practice involves the student practicing the correct response repeatedly. If Sana turns in an assignment that is too sloppy to read, she must not only redo that task but do better.

(2)   Questioning Behavior

When a student has a discipline problem, just ask him / her to answer the four questions on the discipline questionnaire:

  1. What did I do wrong?
  2. Why wasn’t my action acceptable?
  3. What should I have been doing instead?
  4. What will I do in the future?

Then, mail the form home to the child’s parents. This system forces students to own up to their actions.

(3)   Behavior Notebook

Keep track of irresponsible student conduct by assembling a 3-ring notebook and dedicating a page per student at the beginning of the school year. On the first day of school, show the students their blank pages and challenge them to keep them blank the whole year. Here’s how it works. When a student breaks one of the rules set for the class – (of course, make these known at the onset of the school year), – that student must go to the behavior notebook and write a brief explanation. If you agree with the assessment, sign and date it. Send it home with the report card at the end of the marking period. If a student has a blank page all year, send home the original blank page with a heartwarming note of praise for good behavior all year long.

Sukuk

Vol 2 -Issue 4 SukukWhat is Islamic Sukuk?

Bonds are fixed income securities that promise the holder a specified set of payments. A bond investor has lent money to the bond issuer. In return, the issuer of the bond promises to pay interest and repay the principal on maturity.

Islamic Sukuk is a form of debt financing structured under the rules of Shariah. Sukuk are term finance certificates (TFC) of equal value representing undivided shares in ownership of assets of a particular project or special investment activity.

Difference between Sukuk and Conventional Bonds

The basic difference between conventional bonds and Sukuk lies in the way they are structured and floated. In the conventional system of bond issue and trading, the element of ‘interest’ is at the centre of all transactions. Sukuk, on the other hand, are structured in such a way that the issue is asset backed and is based on “an exchange of approved asset for some financial consideration” that allows the investors to earn lawful profits from transactions. The underlying asset, contract, and payment mechanism of the Sukuk while being commercially viable, has to be aligned with the requirements of the Shariah.

Types of Sukuk

Thus, the issuance of Sukuk requires an exchange of a Shariah compliant underlying asset for a financial consideration through the application of various Islamic commercial contracts, such as the Mudarabah, Musharakah, Ijarah, Istisna’, Salam, and Murabahah. The equity-based nature of Mudarabah and Musharakah Sukuk exposes investors to the risks connected with the performance of the project for which the financing is raised. In contrast, issuance of Sukuk on principles of Ijarah and Murabahah yields deterministic receivable and hence result in predictable and somewhat fixed returns for the prospective investors.

Mechanism of Ijarah Sukuk

The Ijarah Sukuk  is one of the most popular concepts among issuers of global Islamic Sukuk. The structure of Ijarah Sukuk can be understood from this example. If a corporation requires, for example, USD50 million for the purchase of land, real asset, equipment, aircraft, etc., it can issue Ijarah Sukuk equalling that amount in small denominations, say USD10,000 each. The firm then either purchases the asset on behalf of the Sukuk holders (investors or certificate holders) or transfers the ownership of the already acquired asset to Sukuk holders by establishing a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which owns the underlying assets. The investors or Sukuk holders, own the shares of this SPV. The asset is then leased back to the firm and the lease proceeds from the asset are distributed to the Sukuk holders as dividend. The returns on the Sukuk certificates, or shares of the SPV, could be either fixed or floating. The expected returns (pre-determined rental payments) are fixed and can be treated as predictable like the coupon payments of a conventional bond.

Ijarah Sukuk can be issued through a financial intermediary, a bank, a brokerage house or directly by the users of the lease asset. A third party can also guarantee rental payments, and since the yield is predetermined and the underlying assets are not liquid but tangible and secured, the Ijarah certificate can be freely traded in the secondary markets at par, premium or discount.

Note: The prevalent system of Islamic banking the world over is truly not the ultimate and ideal solution. It is only a step towards creating an interest free environment to provide Muslims with an option. Much needs to be achieved keeping in view the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah.

Poison-proofing Your Home

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Poison-Proofing

Children explore the world by putting things in their mouths. That’s one of the reasons why more than 1 million children under the age of 6 are victims of accidental poisonings every year.

What are poisonous substances?

Some hazardous substances most commonly ingested by children are:

  • cosmetics and baby care products
  • cleaning products, such as detergent, bleach, drain openers
  • pain medicines such as paracetamol
  • prescription drugs
  • cough and cold medicines
  • vitamin supplements, especially iron pills
  • household plants
  • paint and varnish products
  • insect and mosquito sprays, mosquito mats
  • petrol, kerosene oil, acids, etc.

How to poison-proof your home?

  • Conduct a room-by-room inventory of non-food substances. This is to ensure poisons are clearly labeled and locked out of reach of children.
  • Lock up all medicines and harmful substances.
  • Secure all cupboards that contain poisons, even those that seem out of reach. Young children can reach them by climbing.
  • Don’t trust child-resistant containers.
  • No bottle top can be made so secure that a child can’t find some way to get it off.
  • Keep medicines, pesticides, even detergents in their original containers.
  • Never store poisonous or toxic products in containers that were once used for food. A child can mistakenly use them.
  • Never refer to any kind of medicine as candy.
  • Even if you’re trying to get a reluctant child to take cough syrup, don’t treat it as something good to eat. Children learn by imitation, so take your own medicine, when they aren’t watching.

In case your child has swallowed something bad, rush to the nearest emergency center as soon as possible. Don’t wait to confirm, if something happens or not!

Call for help (Karachi)

  • Aga Khan Hospital Stadium Road: 4930051
  • Aga Khan Clifton Medical Services: 9250051
  • Civil Hospital: 9215740-28
  • Edhi Ambulance: 115 / 2310066 / 2310077
  • Jinnah Hospital: 9201300-39
  • NICVD: 9201271-5

What to keep in the medicine cupboard

With a young child around, it’s important to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet or medicine bag, so you can quickly deal with the rashes, colds, and other common ailments that children are prone to, as well as handle the basics of daily care. Here are our must haves:

  • thermometer
  • children’s pain reliever (paracetamol or ibuprofen)
  • calamine lotion for insect bites or rashes
  • alcohol swabs to clean thermometers, tweezers and scissors
  • antibacterial ointment for cuts and scrapes
  • tweezers for taking out splinters and ticks
  • a pair of sharp scissors
  • a pair of safety scissors for clipping little nails
  • child-safe insect repellent
  • pediatrician-approved children’s-strength liquid decongestant
  • nasal aspirator bulb syringe for drawing mucus out of a stuffy nose
  • an assortment of adhesive bandage strips in various sizes and shapes
  • sterilized cotton balls
  • mild liquid soap (antibacterial and deodorant soaps may be too strong for children’s sensitive skin)
  • moisturizing cream
  • a medicine dropper, oral syringe for administering medicines
  • a heating pad
  • a hot-water bottle and ice pack
  • a small flashlight to check ears, nose, throat, and eyes
  • rehydration fluids, such as Pedialyte/ ORS

If your child is allergic to bee stings, peanuts, or shellfish, or if he has some other type of allergy, carry an epinephrine kit with you and keep another one in your first aid kit. (Discuss this with your doctor.)

How to Raise a Reader

Vol 2 -Issue 4 How to Raise a readerNot all of us were raised in a house full of books; many of us never began reading early and constantly. Now that we have children of our own, we sometimes worry, whether they will turn out to be good readers.

The best you can do is pave the way for your child to developing love for language and books. The following are a few tips you can follow to improve your child’s interest in reading.

Let your child see you read

There should be role models, who read in the home. Parents, who read, are likely to have children, who read. We should not make the child feel that reading is exclusively a school activity. By setting aside time to read books and letting your child see you read, you subtly inform your child that reading is important.

Share information from your own reading

Children, who read on their own, are not always aware of the informative purpose of the written word. Adults read primarily for information. Prepare your child by sharing information from your own reading. Encourage children to share information from their own reading.

Read aloud

Reading aloud provides time for parents and children to experience the written word together. It focuses your children’s attention on language, providing vital comprehension skills that your children will use in school and beyond. Read with expression, involvement, active questioning, and eye contact. You may read one line and ask the child to read out the next.

Read the newspaper as a family

If you have little time to read to your family, the newspaper can be a lifesaver. Make comments of your own and ask your child to comment from what he has read in the children’s section. Oral commentary encourages children to read actively, and they can retain and appreciate what they read.

Encourage intra-generational reading

Having children read to children benefits the reader, the listener, and you. It teaches children to read with articulation and expression. Hearing their siblings succeed at reading motivates the younger ones to read themselves.

Talk about family members’ reading choices

If you are reading something, talk about it. It does not matter, if your children are too young to read it themselves. It is enough for them to know you enjoy reading, it interests you, and you care enough to share your interests with them.

Act out favorite scenes as a family

Break off after an action packed scene and try on the roles yourselves. Choose a simple scene, assign roles, brainstorm to recall what happened first, second and third in the scene, act it out with movement and dialogue, following with discussion.

Recommend beloved books

Share your enthusiasm for a book with your child. Don’t be disappointed, if your child does not share your passion for a particular author or book. Just the implication that you, also, once were a child with a child’s abilities and interests may open new avenues of communication between you and your child.

Keep reading materials in your home

When reading at home, accessibility is important. Children should not take reading as something that only occurs at school. If you have books at home, you will never have trouble finding a story to read at bedtime. Establish a reference library for school reports.

Take books with you, wherever you go

Children hate to wait (e.g. when the car breaks down). Prepare yourself for emergencies with a variety of distractions. Besides toys and games, books should be a part of your carry on bag. Before you leave the house, have your child select his favorite book or magazine to take.

Invent reading related jobs

You probably have jobs around the house that you don’t feel like doing or have not had the time to do. Children can be lured into taking the chores involving reading. If your telephone directory is worn out, have your child read out the names and phone numbers and write them down in a new book.

Subscribe to children’s magazines

Pride of ownership can make the most unwilling reader eager to turn pages and read. Receiving a magazine in the mail addressed to him or her stimulates a child of any age to want to read. Books are rewards we want them to value. Reward minor accomplishments with a puzzle book, while more significant deeds might merit a picture book.

Introduce your child to series books and books on tape

Once children locate a series they like, they may disappear entirely, only emerging at the end to cry: “Where’s the next one?”

Books on tape exist for children as well as adults. A variety of children’s favorites are available in packages as ‘read alongs.’ The child follows the text as read on the tape.

Make library visits a family routine

The library provides a seemingly limitless resource of reading material, making sure we find something suited to our age and proficiency. Libraries provide a habit of reading that a family can share. At times, your budget may not allow buying books; that is where the library comes in.

Showing your children that you enjoy reading sets an example for them to emulate. Showing that reading is a chore, it is only related to school work, or it is something that must be done to please you, you will be robbing the child the experience of its innate pleasure. You will wind up with children too tense to relax into reading, children, who will never love to read.

How to teach respect for books

  • Remind children to handle books with clean hands.
  • Discourage tearing, folding down pages or coloring and writing in books, especially in library books.
  • Help children design bookmarks and propose they use them, rather than straining bindings by placing open books face down.
  • Work together to repair damaged pages and bindings.

Glory for the Green Thumb!

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Glory for the Green thumbA reader of Hiba Magazine advises us to get our hands dirty and reap rewards in this world and the hereafter

Anas (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “When a Muslim plants a seedling, or cultivates crops and then the birds animals or men eat from it, then it will be an act of charity for him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Jabir (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no Muslim except who plants a seedling then, if it is eaten from it, it will be an act of charity for him, and also what is stolen from it is an act of charity for him, and what the beasts eat will be an act of charity for him, and what the birds eat from it will be an act of charity for him. None of it is a loss for him, and all of it will be a Sadaqah (on the Day of Resurrection).” (Muslim)

Anas (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “If the last hour comes and you have a date palm seedling in your hand, and you are able to plant it just before that, then do so.” (Ahmed)

Sheikh Nasir ud-Deen Al-Albani said: “These noble Ahadeeth clearly encourage one to cultivate, in particular the last Hadeeth. For it contains a strong incentive to seize an opportunity in the last period of one’s life in the path of cultivating, so that people can benefit after ones death. The reward will continue, and it will be recorded as an act of charity until the last day.”

It is reported about the companions that they were keen to act upon this Sunnah, encouraging each other to build one’s deeds for the future, even if it was by planting one seed. Do not waste this opportunity, and do not think that is unbeneficial to grow and water your plant at the end of your life.

Ibn Jareer related that Umarah bin Khuzaimah bin Thabit (rta) said: “I heard Umar bin Al-Khattab (rta) say to my father: `What prevents you from cultivating your land?’ My father said to him: `I am an old man and I may die tomorrow.’ Umar (rta) said to him: `I think you should cultivate it.’ Then I saw Umar bin Al-Khatab (rta) planting with his hands along with my father.”

And it is reported that Amr ibin Al-Aas (rta) had a huge farm near Ta’if, where he used to grow grapes. It had thousands of wooden posts, and each one cost one Dirham.

Islam encourages the cultivating and farming of the earth. Those, who enjoy gardening and planting trees, go for it! It has countless merits to its effect. It helps clear out air pollution and invites rain. It provides shade, fruits, and flowers. It adds to the beauty of the cities. It gives everyone a chance to appreciate the wonders of nature. It provides animals with habitats and prevents their extinction.

Parents with green thumbs have a deep impact on their children, because they act as positive role models. It sets a chivalrous example for children to respect other life forms, and contribute to improving the environment they live in. When you are gone from this world and lying in your grave, you will continue to reap the benefits from what you have planted, Insha’Allah.

The colour green is said to be sight for sore eyes. People working on their computers are recommended by researchers to place a plant nearby, so that after staring at the monitor for hours, they can refresh their vision by glancing at the plant at intervals.

Preventing Wastage at Home

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Preventing Wastage at Home

Reduce

  • Don’t waste electricity by leaving unnecessary lights and other electrical appliances on.
  • Try to utilize daylight as much as possible during the daytime and do not keep curtains closed, so that you have to switch on lights.
  • In summer nights, if you have to keep the air conditioner running, try to sleep in one room to cut down on electricity consumption.
  • If you plan to buy an air conditioner for the next summer, go for split AC because it consumes less electricity as compared to its counterparts, i.e., window AC.
  • Use energy saver bulbs to reduce energy consumption.
  • When using the e-mail, stop junk mail and faxes through the mailing preference service to save electricity, paper and your time.
  • Cancel delivery of unwanted newspapers, donate old magazines to libraries and doctor’s waiting rooms.
  • Use your own cloth shopping bags, when visiting the supermarket, Sunday Bazar, etc.
  • Grow your own vegetables. Many varieties can be grown in small gardens.
  • Save up washing water for your garden or plant pots.
  • Don’t throw away food. Feed to a poor. Crumbs and leftovers can also be given to pets or animals.

 

Reuse

  • Reuse scrap paper for writing notes, etc.
  • Reuse envelopes – stick labels over the address.
  • Donate old computer and audio-visual equipment to community groups or schools.
  • Buy rechargeable items instead of disposable ones e.g. batteries and cameras.
  • Take old clothes and books to charity shops or donate them to the poor.
  • Reuse aluminum foil and cling film to cover food.

Recycle

  • Some retailers take back old electrical items, when delivering a new one.
  • Local charity shops, schools, and community groups can sometimes use unwanted furniture.
  • Set your printer to print paper double sided.
  • Old greeting cards or paper cartons of tea, biscuits, etc., can be cut up in thin strips to light stove instead of using match sticks for each burner.
  • Give away old newspapers to the Raddi Wala for recycling.
  • Reuse fabric cuttings left over from stitched materials for stuffing cushions and pillows.

Some organizations in Karachi that accept donated household items for re-use:

Alamgir Trust

Edhi Trust

It’s Valentine’s Day!

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Its Valentine's DaySana Zahid and Umm Isam uncover the truth behind the chocolate-heart-flavoured Valentine’s Day.

Love is in the air, so are red hearts of all shapes, sizes, and flavours on billboards and magazine covers! We are not short of better things to think about, it’s just that it’s Valentine’s Day! What we are lately witnessing is pretty astonishing. So, let’s unearth some facts about it all.

There actually are many traditions about how it all began. The story dates back to the Roman rule — an erotic festival, named after Saint Valentine, who was killed for defying the emperor and allowing young couples to marry secretly. The legend has it that Saint Valentine disobeyed the Emperor Claudius of Rome, who had barred all marriages and engagements within the city, because he thought that love-struck men were not joining his legions. In jail, the bishop is said to have fallen in love with the jailor’s daughter. He wrote to her a letter signed ‘Your Valentine,’ which since then has become a tradition. However, Saint Valentine was caught and sentenced to death on the 14th of February, 270 AD.

It so happened that the significant day coincided with a festival organized in memory of Juno Februata, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. The festival was known as Lupercalia. The Romans used to place the names of young women, who would become their dates for the remaining festival, in a box, and men would draw them at random. However, when Christians came to Rome, they sought to superimpose Christian festivals on different holidays at the time. So, in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius officially replaced this pagan festival with Saint Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February.

Pakistan has discovered this phenomenon just recently through the fast paced globalization of foreign products and cultures, which coincides with the media relaxation. Today, on one hand glamorization of this festival offers marketers an opportunity to make money, as love-struck shoppers paint the town red. On the other hand, Muslim communities experience a blatant cultural invasion carrying a loud slogan of vulgar and open dating. This day has come to mean dressing up in red and distributing valentine cards, candy, and chocolate hearts. Through these, apparently innocent acts, a culture of free sex and male-female relations is promoted. Even schools hold such parties for their students. Consequently, young children are fed the idea that it is okay to love anyone and express it openly.

Pseudo intellectuals claim that it is merely an adoption of a joyful custom practiced in a different community — so why do fanatics blow it all out of proportion? However, they seem to have confused themselves. As Muslims, we can have a food fusion, whereby we appreciate the culinary flavours of other countries, as long as they are cooked with permissible ingredients. But how can we have a cultural fusion that promotes immorality? How can they justify one night stands, partner swapping, blind dating, romantic liaisons, etc., and all the filth that follows it. It all tantomounts to illegitimate relations. In Islam, the only permissible relationship between a man and a woman in love is Nikah. Allah has placed a beauty in this special bond that attracts every man and woman. People weave their dreams around it and step into the unknown together. Abdullah bin Abbas (rta) states that the Prophet (sa) said: “We have not witnessed anything better than Nikah for two people in love” (Ibn Majah). Indeed, Nikah means a special beginning for two people. Why opt for immoral options full of hypocrisy and lies?

The societies that celebrate such customs as Valentine’s Day have the need for it, because the institution of marriage has collapsed there and a new tradition of partnership has evolved. This tradition of partnership is free of responsibility, time constraints, and commitments. It can easily be defined as an animalistic instinct meant to satisfy the base desires and lusts as in incase of cats and dogs, who continue to have different partners life long.

Modesty, or the concept of Haya, rules supreme in Islam. Even a married couple has been given a set of behaviour rules in public. Their romantic life in private is their personal matter, however, nobody is allowed to create an embarrassing position for those around them, let alone behave flirtatiously.

Last year, while flipping through satellite channels, my friend came across a Valentine show, where the host introduced the show saying: “Today is the Valentine’s Day – the day of love and the day of lies, because normally people would be telling lies today.” Strange, since this was a program intended to promote the day.

However, I can’t help to ask, what kind of love is this that is restricted to one day in a year? Have we ever thought of loving the One, Who created us, the One, Who gave us a heart that can feel love? Or are we wasting away a beautiful emotion just for a momentary gratification? We know our Lord loves us more than 70 mothers. Just imagine having the Lord of all the worlds being our friend.

“… Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah (swt), certainly, Allah (swt) loves those who put their trust (in Him). If Allah (swt) helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (alone) let believers put their trust.” (Al- Imran 3:159-160)

Surely, love directs all matters concerning our lives. Subsequently, this strong feeling, for which we are ready to go to any extent, should be spent properly. Love is precious, so don’t let opportunists to take advantage of your tender heart. Express it the Halal way – get married and stay married! Every day of your life can be worth celebrating.