Choose the Right Topic

Choose the Right Topic

By Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Al-Arifi – A prominent figure in the field of Islamic Dawah and author of more than twenty published works

People unanimously agree that one of the ways of attracting others is to choose the topic their listeners would like to discuss. The Prophet (sa) took this into consideration, and his speech with young men would be different from that with the elderly, the women or the children.

Once, a young man Jabir (rta), travelled with the Prophet (sa) on the Dhat ar-Riqa expedition, and, due to his poverty, he rode a very weak camel that could hardly walk.

The Prophet (sa) struck the camel gently with a whip, and it got up energetically. Jabir (rta) jumped on its back and went alongside the Prophet (sa). The Prophet (sa) turned to Jabir (rta) to converse. Jabir (rta), like other young men, was possibly concerned about marriage and livelihood:

The Prophet (sa) asked: “O Jabir, are you married?”

He replied: “Yes.”

The Prophet (sa) questioned: “To a virgin or to a previously married woman?”

He responded: “Previously married.”

The Prophet (sa) was surprised at his choice: “Why didn’t you marry a virgin so that you could fondle one other?”

Jabir (rta) explained: “O Messenger of Allah, my father was martyred on the day of Uhud and left nine (orphan) daughters, who are my nine sisters. I thus disliked to marry a young girl of their age, and instead, married someone older than them, so she could be like their mother.”

The Prophet (sa) realized that he had sacrificed his own pleasures for his sisters. Thus, the Prophet (sa) decided to tell an appropriate joke for a youth of his age. He (sa) said: “Perhaps, when we head for Madinah and stop over at Sarar (five km from Madinah), your wife will hear of our arrival and lay out the pillows [meaning, she will prepare for his grand arrival].”

Jabir (rta) said: “Pillows?! By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, we do not have pillows!”

The Prophet (sa) said: “Insha’Allah, you will soon have pillows.”

The Prophet (sa) wished to help him, so he returned to Jabir (rta) and asked: “Will you sell me your camel?” Jabir (rta) thought that the camel was his capital, and even though previously weak, it had now become strong! However, he thought it rude to reject the Prophet’s (sa) offer. Thus, he stated: “Make an offer, O Messenger of Allah! How much will you pay?”

The Prophet (sa) said: “A Dirham.”

“A Dirham! You are cheating me, O Messenger of Allah,” replied Jabir (rta).

They continued raising the price, until it amounted to forty Dirhams, or an ounce of gold.

Jabir (rta) said: “Fine, but it is on the condition that I continue to ride it until we reach Madinah.” The Prophet (sa) agreed.

When they reached Madinah, Jabir (rta) went to pray with the Prophet (sa) and tied his camel next to the mosque. When the Prophet (sa) came out of the mosque, Jabir (rta) said to him: “This is your camel, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet (sa) said: “O Bilal, give forty Dirhams to Jabir (rta) and more.” Bilal (rta) gave Jabir (rta) forty plus Dirhams. Jabir (rta) took the money and went away, thinking about what he could do with it.

The Prophet (sa) suddenly turned to Bilal (rta) and instructed: “O Bilal, take the camel and give it to Jabir.” Bilal (rta) took it and went to Jabir (rta), who was surprised and wondered, if the Prophet (saw) had cancelled the sale.

Bilal (rta) said: “Take the camel, O Jabir.”

Jabir (rta) asked: “Why? What’s the news?”

Bilal (rta) replied: “Allah’s Messenger has ordered me to give you the camel and the money.”

What wonderful manners! The Prophet (sa) chose an appropriate topic for conversation with the young man, and helped him with kindness and compassion.

(This story has been narrated in a Hadeeth recorded by Bukhari and Muslim.)

Adapted (with permission) from “Enjoy Your Life” published by Darussalam. Compiled for Hiba by Bisma Ishtiaq.

Islamic Etiquettes of Intimacy

Islamic Etiquettes of Intimacy

By Muhammad Mustafa Al-Jibaly – Islamic scholar and author

Sexual intimacy between spouses is allowed and encouraged in Islam. It is indeed a great favour from Allah (swt) that He does not blame those who lawfully fulfill their desires. Rather, He permits it and even rewards it. Allah (swt) has said in the Quran:

“Successful indeed are the believers…those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame; but whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (Al-Mu’minun, 23:1-7)

There are a number of guidelines, however, that one should observe, when intimately approaching one’s spouse.


The two spouses should retreat to a private room. They should draw the curtains and close the doors to ensure that no one, not even a small child, will be able to watch them. Covering the Awrah in front of individuals other than the spouse is an important obligation.


The two spouses should beautify themselves for each other. Each of them should wear clothes and perfume that pleases the other partner. They should brush their teeth and ensure that no foul odour comes out of their mouths or bodies. They should also avoid clothes and other adornments that are either prohibited in Islam or are known to be specific to the disbelievers and/or the decadent. Ibn Abbas said: “I like to beautify myself for my wife as much as I like her to beautify herself for me.” (Quoted by Ibn Jareer at-Tabari in his Tafseer)


The two spouses should indulge in various acts of foreplay that may include light talk and intimate gestures such as kissing. The husband should not rush into intercourse until he feels that his wife is ready for it. He should be especially kind and gentle with her on the first few nights of their marriage.

It is permissible for both the spouses to undress completely – Hadeeths refraining the same are weak in grade. However, it is advisable to hide one’s intimacy under a shared cover for protection from anyone (a child, for instance), who might unexpectedly come within close range.

Remember Allah (swt)

The two spouses must mention Allah’s (swt) name and the following supplication:

“Bismillah; Allahumma jannib nash-Shaytaan; wa jannib ish-Shaytaana ma razaqtana.”

(“With the name of Allah; O Allah, keep Satan away from us and keep him away from what you grant us.”)

According to the Prophet (sa), once this Dua is recited, Satan will not be able to harm the child who is born as a result of that intercourse. (Bukhari and Muslim)

It is important for the spouses to recall the important goals of their intimacy and the reward that they expect for it from Allah (swt). They should, at the same time, beware of Satan’s plotting, who will whisper to them and entice them to introduce acts of disobedience into their intimacy.


During intimacy, both spouses may take any position that is enjoyable and comfortable for them. Allah (swt) says: “Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth (have sexual relations with your wives in any manner as long as it is in the vagina and not in the anus), when or how you will, and send (good deeds, or ask Allah to bestow upon you pious offspring) for your ownselves beforehand. And fear Allah, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give good tidings to the believers (O Muhammad (saw)).” (Al-Baqarah 2:223)


A Ghusl must be performed to attain purity after intimacy. Between successive intercourses, it is sufficient to wash one’s private parts and perform ablution only.

Prohibited Acts of Intimacy

Anal Intercourse

This is a major sin that must be avoided, as per the following Hadeeth: the Prophet (sa) said: “Verily, Allah forbids you from having intercourse with women in their rectums.” (Tabarani)

Intercourse During Menses

Spouses are forbidden from performing intercourse, if the wife is menstruating. Such intercourse is harmful for both the husband and the wife; moreover, it is a major sin. Spouses may, however, enjoy other forms of intimacy. Allah (swt) has instructed: “They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina)…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:222)

Exposing Intimate Secrets

It is prohibited for a man to expose his wife’s secrets, especially in matters of intimacy that, except for him, no person would normally know. This might include birthmarks, reaction to certain intimate acts and so on. Exposing such secrets might induce mistrust and fear in her heart.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Indeed, among the people who will have the most grievous position before Allah on the Day of Resurrection is a man who, after he intimately approaches his wife and she intimately approaches him, exposes her secret.” (Muslim and Abu Dawud)


At all times, spouses must maintain a realization of Allah’s (swt) closeness and watchfulness. This realization should guide and control one’s actions – even during moments of intimacy and pleasure. Furthermore, one should nurture a feeling of gratitude that Allah (swt) has facilitated the fulfilment of one’s desire in a lawful and pleasurable way. This actually turns the fulfilment of desire to a rewarded act of worship.

Adapted (with permission) from “Closer than a Garment: Marital Intimacy according to the Pure Sunnah” published by Al-Kitaab & as-Sunnah Publishing. Compiled for Hiba by Umm Ibrahim

Quick Facts 1

Needed: Sabr (Patience)

Women are generally advised that it is not permissible for them to refuse marital relations. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he spends the night angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning comes.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) also said: “When a man calls his wife, let her respond, even if she is at the oven (baking bread).” (At-Tirmidhi)

However, husbands should consider the physical as well as emotional conditions of their wives prior to initiating marital relations. It is generally advisable to exercise patience, if one’s wife is exhausted or unwell. Also, according to, some of the excuses given by the Shariah to women include menstruation, advanced stages of pregnancy and post-natal bleeding. Moreover, even if intercourse is physically impossible during such conditions, spouses can still be intimate.

Quick Facts 2

Overcoming the Jitters

Maulana Mufti Nizam-uddin Shamazai has given some useful advice to the grooms to-be in his comprehensive book “Tuhfa-e-Dulha”. Following are some tips he has given with reference to the wedding night:

1) Make a list of your questions and concerns about marital relations. Consult a scholar and clear all confusions.

2) You may also consult one or two close friends, who have been married for some time; however, it is not advisable to ask many friends. These friends might come to you later and ask you questions like: “So? How did it go?” This will only get awkward for you.

3) Let go of the fear that your wife will judge you based on your marital relations during the wedding night; also do not assume that she will discuss anything with her friends, sisters or cousins. This is a life-long commitment, and its quality cannot be judged on the basis of one night only.

4) Last but not the least, pray, pray and pray to Allah (swt) to make matters easier for you and form an ever-lasting bond between you and your wife.

Translated and adapted from “Tuhfa-e-Dulha” by Maulana Mufti Nizam-uddin Shamazai published by Bait ul-Ilm Trust.

The City, the Girl and the Little Rag Doll

The City, the Girl and the Little Rag Doll

By Suleman Ahmer – CEO and the Lead Facilitator of Timelenders, a management consulting and training firm (

The first time I came across her was in the winter of 1992 in the Bosnian town of Mostar. She had long black hair, hazel eyes and a smile that lit her face. Her eyes refused to laugh. They held a look of bewilderment and fear of an uncertain future. Girls as young as Aida had started understanding the misery that wars so easily delivered. They call war ‘raat’ in the Bosnian language, which sounds similar to ‘night’ in my native Urdu. For Mostar and its daughters such as Aida, the Balkan war meant exactly that – a never-ending darkness.

Aida’s father had been a young and aspiring architect before the war. Edin Batlak, or Edoo, had never called any other city his home. It was its sons such as Edoo that Mostar had called upon when confronted by the Serb siege. Educated and experienced, Edoo became the chief of logistics for the Muslims and was the one to receive the supplies that we brought to Mostar from Krilo. As Mostar warmed up to its guests, Edoo happily filled the role of a perfect host, providing home-cooked food and putting us up for the nights. One evening, he introduced us to his daughter.

Aida could not understand the strange language that we spoke. Her nine years of life had not awarded her the luxury of learning a foreign language. We tried to get by in broken Bosnian. Children are expressive and so was Aida. Soon we started understanding each other.

The war had forced the Muslims to take a fresh look at their identity and religion. There was an eagerness, especially among the children, to learn about Islam. Wanting to learn the Salah, she had started learning Fatiha. We would teach Aida a part of the Salah in each trip with a promise of a ‘Poklon’ (gift) which would be candy, a rag doll or tidbits of that sort. The thought that a small girl eagerly awaited us in Mostar would warm our hearts many times over.

River Neretva divides Mostar into the east, which was predominantly Muslim, and the west, where both Muslims and the Croats lived. The Serb front lines were a few miles east of the city, cutting off the Muslims from their strongholds in central Bosnia. West Mostar was linked through Croat-held Bosnia to Croatia. Sandwiched between the Serbs and the Croats, East Mostar was vulnerable, a fact the Croats knew very well.

I remember some children insisted that I accompany them. They took me to a school, which had been converted into a refugee camp. The lower floor hosted the office of the Merhamet (a Bosnioan relief agency), the office of the Mufti of Mostar and some rooms for medical emergencies. I was led to the basement, where some young girls were practicing Islamic songs for an upcoming festival. Upon seeing a stranger, they fell silent. I urged them to continue and left after a few minutes, leaving behind my cassette-recorder.

With every spin of the recorder, the songs and the memories were electronically preserved. It was to become a prized possession and a great companion for many months to come. During our long drives in Croatia and Bosnia, Abbas and I would play the tape and sing along in Bosnian:

O Allah (swt), Bosnia bleeds today.

And we suffer.

But we have hope that you will deliver us.

And we don’t complain.

We know You will be with us forever.

A girl had burst into tears and before the tape could be shut off, her sobs had been recorded. Upon reaching this section, we would gently cry ourselves, our tears cementing our determination and pushing away thoughts of giving up. “How can we give up when children in Mostar are calling Allah (swt) and trusting Him?”

Many months thus passed. Once Mustafa, Edoo’s interpreter, smiled when we said good-bye.

“You may not find us upon your return. The Croats will not wait for long!”

“Never mind,” we said, “we belong to this city now. If we go down, we go down together.”

“It is easier said than done, you know,” he said.

“We have been with you all these months; we would not desert you in the end,” we promised.

The Bosnian Croats struck in the early hours of May 18, 1993. The Muslims were outnumbered, outgunned and taken by surprise. Hundreds of Muslim men, women and children were forced to walk in front of the Croat columns to prevent the Muslim army from firing back. The Muslims were pushed to the eastern side, where they stood their ground and prevented the Croats from crossing the river. Thus began a nine-month siege that would later claim thousands more lives, inflicting pain and devastation of unimaginable proportion.

Never in our lives had four words held so much devastation: “West Mostar has fallen.”

We frantically tried to find a way to get to Mostar, but to no avail. The memories of the town came flooding back: the faces, the long hours spent talking, the laughter, the mosques and the walks in the old town. The voices of the girls singing the Islamic songs and the words of Mustafa echoed: “You may not find us…” and then there was the sinking feeling of defeat and the heart-wrenching realization that we had failed Mostar in its final moments. Our promise of being with them had been broken.

We started asking about the people we knew. Some had survived. Some were in concentration camps. Of some, there was no news. What happened to Edoo? Did he make it? How is Aida?

Edoo lived above the offices of the Muslim army, which were the first to be targeted. A huge fire had erupted, catching all by surprise. Edoo and his wife had managed to escape, but Aida had gotten trapped. I shudder with the thought of the painful last moments of the young Aida, trapped in the fire of a war she never fully understood; punished for a crime that her enemies are still not ready to forgive – Islam! Had she lived, Aida would now be in her teens. She would surely have completed learning her Salah.

Aida may not be with us today, but the struggle for which she died so young continues. Bosnia is alive as are many Aidas and many lands like Bosnia. Our failure to keep our promise to Aida must not prevent us from making our promises to others. For Aida, the help was too little, too late. It doesn’t have to be the same for others. The understanding that we are Muslims is a promise to all the Aidas and all the embattled Muslim lands: a promise that we are with you and you shall never be deserted.

When I am down with despair, and hopelessness seems to prevail, I thank Allah (swt) for giving me such treasured memories. As I look back and see a little town with a little girl with a little rag doll, I know that I have reasons to continue.