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.

Hidden Voices

Hidden Voices(Written in memory of the earthquake victims)

Sweet salty water roaring

Stroke sandy seashells,

Black lands stretch afar,

Climbing mountainsides,

Allahu Akbar.

Sun rose, awoke one day,

Shimmering glasses displayed,

Life’s chores taken up,

Light chatter, horns blew:

People hustled-bustled up.

Toddler footprints led to bus stops,

Buses left traces of cheery voices:

‘Wassalam Ami Jan.’

In rushed streets,

Soul-filled bodies filled empty buses:

Once, upon a merry time.

Once, upon a merry day,

Sunshine enlightened souls to rise,

Eyelids fluttered open,

Hands moved to earn life.

Lives with a life to live, once,

Lived, living far away,

Hearts sang peace, were fine,

Once upon a while away.

‘Every worry led me to parks,

The sandbox was my heart…’

‘My life: my garden bliss,

Flowers grown in months, in years…’

‘The dusty earth in my hands lay,

Shifting grace,

I was to build a house of mud today…’

Tissue paper floats unused,

Cemented buildings uprooted,

PetAl-like giggles flitter,


Pages hover, unused,


Ink left to dry,

My time has come.

Seeds left ungrown,

Mothers’ dens shut down,

Who will care?

With the shutting down of minds,

Mouths widen open in horror,

With the made appointments broken,

Faces never seen once more,

What with future plans to live forgotten,

Some bones shattered, some broken.

Children of forgotten names,

Cry unheard,

Voices despair, die out, hearts falter,

There are hidden voices.

Shackled behind humbled walls,

Down by the mountainside,

And away,

Thoughts roam to curries past,

Cooked elsewhere under the sky walls,

When will you come?

Sliding feet over wet dirt,

Aftershocks killing last hopes,

What will I say when Allah asks:

‘Where were you when I had no place?’

This poem was written in light of the recent earthquake and is based on the following Hadeeth:

Abu Hurairah has narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Verily, Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O son of Adam, I was ill, but you did not visit Me.’ He would say: ‘O my Rubb, how could I visit You – You are the Rubb of the worlds?’ Thereupon, He would say: ‘Did you not know that such and such a slave of Mine was ill, but you did not visit him? Did you not realize that if you had visited him (you would have known that I was aware of your visit to him, for which I would reward you), you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked food from you, but you did not feed Me.’ He would submit: ‘My Rubb, how could I feed You – You are the Rubb of the worlds?’ He would say: ‘Did you not know that such and such a slave of Mine asked you for food, but you did not feed him? Did you not realize that if you had fed him, you would certainly have found (its reward) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked water from you, but you did not give it to Me.’ He would say: ‘My Rubb, how could I give You (water) – You are the Rabb of the worlds?’ Thereupon, He would say: ‘Such and such a slave of Mine asked you for water to drink, but you did not give it to him. Did you not realize that if you had given him to drink, you would have found (its reward) with Me?'” (Muslim)

Dear Haadia

Question: I am a 15 years old girl, who wears a ‘Chadar’ (head cover) to school, for which my friends ridicule me. I have asked my mother to permit me to not to wear it but she refuses to do so. What should I do?

Answer: My dear sister, the challenge you are facing is indeed a difficult one. But for your heart’s contentment, let me inform you that many young girls today, who adhere to the rules of Hijab, face similar difficulties. Before I suggest a solution, let’s first try to understand, why a Muslim woman should observe Hijab:

The word ‘Hijab’ comes from the Arabic root ‘Hajaba,’ which means to hide from view, conceal or cover. Hence, it is meant to cover something precious, which in this case is a woman’s charm. The Hijab is a test for a Muslim woman whether she will follow her own desires or submit to the will of her Creator. This injunction is clearly understood in the Quran and Hadeeth as one of the religious obligations. It was a norm in the previous nations as well, for example, the garb of Maryam (as), Prophet Isa’s (as) mother. Chaste Christian and Jewish women even today wear a traditional head covering. Therefore, when a woman opts for being Hijab-free, she is in a state of disobedience to her Lord, which is a major sin in Islam.

Moreover, when a woman carries herself in a garb, which pleases her Lord, she informs the world that she is more than her body. She has a mind and a soul, in which Iman (faith) is thriving.  Hijab is not meant to demote her position in the world. In fact it liberates her, makes her a respectable citizen and repels the evil that can mar her dignity and chastity.

Regarding Hijab, Allah states: “That is more suitable that they (Muslim women) will be known (for their integrity and sanctity) and not abused” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33 : 59).

Experience shows that when women are not Islamically covered, they contribute to their own chances of abuse. Practicing of Hijab, concealing of the face which is also considered essential  and lowering of gaze are tools to control Zina (sexual assault) on oneself.

You are going through a vulnerable time. It is understandable that you are hurt by ridicule from your peers. You must educate your friends about facts behind rulings of Hijab. Also, tell them it hurts you, when they laugh at you. If their behaviour persists, you may seriously want to ask yourself, if they are your true friends or not? Allah said: “The servants of All-Merciful are those, who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant speak to them, (they) say: ‘Peace.'” (Al-Furqan 25:63)

Also, try to make new friends, who understand and respect the Islamic dress code. Peer support can always over-ride peer pressure. A teenage programme called ‘Towards the Light’ in Karachi (14 Khayaban-e-Seher Phase 6 DHA Karachi) can be a suitable place to find such like-minded individuals. You may replace your Chadar with any other head cover that is practical yet modest and does not give a shabby appearance. Lastly, pray sincerely to Allah to help you overcome this trial.

We need not to say much, whether to stop Hijab or continue with it. Allah is sufficient to guide us in all such situations. May Allah shower you with best of Sabar (patience) and blessings, and may you always emerge triumphant, when it comes to practicing your beliefs for the pleasure of your Lord. Ameen.

Scaling the Mountains

Vol 2 -Issue 4 Scaling the MountainsThe earth rattled fiercely and the mountains split up. Sudden and gradual deaths struck. News started to pour; some glued themselves to the TV praying earnestly, while others leapt forward to extend whatever help they could. Debates aside, something this earthquake has proven is that a Muslim is a fighter and he rises to the occasion in the hour of need. Countless youth flocked to the mountains to give and find hope in the rubbles. The same youth, who are called ‘reckless’ and considered ‘a risky investment’ of the future, proved everyone wrong. Only Allah proved them right!

Faysal Subhani, a teenage volunteer from Karachi, reports about Balakot:

The week I spent with the Kashmiri earthquake victims changed the way I looked at life. Sure, my mom had been telling me things all my life but for the first time, it actually hit me! Kids wrapped up in their own superficial little worlds fail to look around and understand that there is more to life than cell phones, girls, concerts and cars. There are people out there, who need us. You can be a millionaire one moment and live in a tent the next.

When I saw the aggrieved relatives sobbing for their lost ones, I realized that family is an amazing gift from Allah (swt).

The tragedy took the lives of many young people – I realized that I can die any time. We don’t know the time of our death, so we should be prepared for meeting Allah (swt).

Many think Islam is a religion with no capacity for fun. The people I traveled with, the so-called Mullahs, were continuously cracking Halal jokes, yet became serious, when it came to work. I had more fun with them, than I sometimes do with my friends.

The trip had its ups and downs. The low points were: seeing Balakot flattened (I’ve been there before and was quite attached to its hustle and bustle) and reading Janaza for two girls. The highs were getting a traumatized child, Jawwad, to lighten up. Also, there’s nothing like performing the Eid prayers and listening to a mind blowing Khutbah in the open mountains beside a river. This was an Eid to remember!

Sehr Rasmir Nawaz, an 18 years old student from R.L.A.K. College of Home Economics, reports about Muzzafarabad:

This was the first time in life, when I planned to go for a mission that I wanted to accomplish. All what we could see was a devastating destruction and injured people with broken families.

The stories we heard were heart fretting. Alarmingly, even after experiencing what could be Allah`s (swt) anger, some people still didn’t learn the lesson. For example, a box was found with chopped, women`s hands which were filled with bangles.

My heart broke, and I could not stop crying seeing a dead body of a little girl, which was found after 28 days. There are no words to express my feelings – nothing could be seen except bones, hair, and a rotting face. May Allah (swt) have His Mercy on all, Ameen.

Signs before the Hour strikes!

In less than a year the world has witnessed unimaginable devastation. South Asian tsunamis, American hurricane Katrina, and recently the most gruesome earthquake that struck Pakistan. Whether it is global warming, substandard infrastructure or poor disaster management plans, Allah’s anger cannot be ruled out as an obvious reason to these catastrophes. Especially since we know the rapid speed of evil engulfing everyone, everywhere.

Narrated Abu Hurairah (rta) the Prophet, (sa) said: “The Hour will not happen until knowledge is taken out, time passes quickly, earthquakes increase in number, tribulations (Fitan) appear, and Al-Harj increases in number.” It was asked: “What is Al-Harj, O Rasoolullah (sa)?” He said: “Al-Qatl, Al-Qatl (Killing).” (Ahmed)

It is evident that all the above signs are appearing consistently. Now is the time to turn to Allah (swt) and submit to Him. Allah never lets down a sincere believer, Insha’Allah!