Haya in Danger

haya in danger

By Uzma Jawed – Student of the Quran

“And (there will be) Houris (fair females) with wide, lovely eyes (as wives for the pious) like unto preserved pearls.” (Al-Waqiah 22-23)

When we look around us, huge billboards, movie posters, commercials on TV, and ads in magazines and on the Internet are not portraying our Muslim women as icons of modesty and Haya. In fact, indecency has become so common that it endanger our Iman.

I interviewed a number of people from different walks of life and here is what they had to say:

Sabah Yaseen, student of Arabic

When we create such ads, we are publicly defying our Islamic beliefs and values. We should try talking to the people who are involved. For instance, approach their marketing department and voice our opinions directly to them. Boycotting and not buying their products may not help, as the people who don’t believe in the way they are marketing their products are a minority.

Sara Naveed, student of Quran

Ads can be good, without being vulgar and going against our cultural Islamic values. Companies like Juanid Jamshed, Five Star and Icon are highly successful without defying Allah’s (swt) commands.

Tasneem Riaz, mother

I feel angry when I see Muslim women exposed in such a manner. The best way to speak up against this is by visiting their various outlets and informing them that what they are doing is wrong.

There was once a very pious man named Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. On his deathbed, he requested that the man who leads his funeral prayer has the following traits:

  1. His Tahajjud prayers had never been forsaken.
  2. He attended every prayer in the Masjid on time.
  3. He never missed his Asr Salah.
  4. He never looked at a non-Mahram woman.

Muslim king, Shamsuddin Altamash, reluctantly came forward and announced that he had such traits. He didn’t want to announce his good deeds but he wanted the man to be able to have his funeral as per his request.

While this incident was being related, one friend commented that in those days, there were no billboards with such obscene ads and hence, people could protect themselves from seeing non-Mahrams!

In addition, she quoted the verse of Surah An-Nur: “Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” (An-Nur 24:19)

Dr. Zubeidah Channah, a practicing dentist and a teacher of the Quran

She believes that Fahishah can be curtailed by propagating the Quran. It is the ultimate solution. Creating awareness of the ill-effects of Fahishah in educational institutions, Masajid and in the print and visual media could be effective. People need to realize that the repercussions of such billboards are not limited only to one’s dress code – it also impacts one’s speech, character and how we choose to live.

A practical tip she suggests is that people need to be motivated enough to finance means that would be a substitute to the ones propagating it. For example, one can finance billboards that propagate the message of truth. Moreover for the silent bystander, an alternative ‘trend’ which is easily accessible could be the solution.

Muslim Awareness Programme (MAP) is attempting to educate the masses about the Islamic value system through billboards. Learn more about them here: http://www.facebook.com/muslimawarenessprogram and http://www.map.net.pk

Women Power!

women power

By Dr. Farhat Hashmi

Islamic scholar, teacher and founder of “Al-Huda International”

Women are an important part of the Muslim Ummah, without whom the noblest of goals could not be achieved. Throughout history, they have played significant roles in shaping the future of the upcoming generation. The woman of today needs to know what she has been carved out for; she also needs to learn more about her role models and understand her true status.

Every creation of Allah has a purpose, and complements one another. Allah (swt) first created Adam (as) and then He created Hawwa to give him company and support. Allah (swt) created her from Adam’s ribs. The fact that she was created from his side signifies that they shared companionship. If she had come from his skull bone, she would have had a dominating role. If she would have come from his foot bone, she would have been subservient. She is neither a subordinate nor a dominating controller. Her role is that of a companion, a friend, a supporter and a helper. The very creation of woman defines her role; yet, in the present era, she demands equality and want to assume the same responsibilities that have been given to a man. This has created conflict in today’s world.

The Role of a Muslim Woman

Being a Muslim means that we agree with Allah’s (swt) creation plan and submit to His will. Men and women were created, so that they may fulfil each other’s needs; hence, a natural attraction was kept between both. A woman holds a lot of importance in a man’s life. She is a supportive partner, helping him in discharging his duties as a vicegerent on earth. The role of a woman can be better understood in the light of the examples of the women discussed below.

Prophet Noah’s (as) Wife

She was indifferent to her husband and was not a helpful partner. They were not like-minded and shared different ideologies and beliefs. Prophet Noah (as) was a very patient man – he preached for 950 years and tried to call his nation towards Islam. However, his own wife did not accept Islam.

Ultimately, Prophet Noah’s (as) nation, including his wife, had to face the wrath of their Creator, and they all perished. This brief narration holds valuable lesson for the women of today. It illumes the disparity between two individuals. It is not necessary for a pious man to get married to a righteous wife or vice versa. In this life, sometimes we get what we desire and sometimes, we do not. Women should have positive expectations from Allah (swt) and should not create an ideal in their minds. They should help and support whoever is destined to be their life partner, even if he or she is not their ideal.

Mostly after marriage, people complain that they and their spouses are not of the same mental frequency. The thinking pattern of a man and a woman can never be the same because of the biological differences that are all part of Allah’s (swt) creation plan. We have to work hand in hand, keeping in mind these differences, just like Prophet Noah (as), who did not part with his wife and continued his relationship with her until Allah (swt) decreed doom for her.

Umm-e-Moosa

Prophet Moosa’s (as) mother is yet another glaring example of strength, resolve and complete submission to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) commanded her to place her child in a basket and put it in a river. For a mother to abandon her child is one of the most difficult things to do. Think of her emotions. It was Allah (swt), Who placed the inspiration in her heart and protected her child from harm.

Moosa’s sister followed the flowing basket that was carrying her baby brother. This sheds light on the role of a woman as a sister. She loves, cares for and protects her younger siblings. When Moosa (as) grew up, he had to leave for Madiyan, where he was blessed with a place to stay, food to eat and a good companion. Then he was guided back to Egypt after ten years and commissioned to save his nation.

Where does the story of Moosa (as) begin? Who is the foundation of this story? His mother and the sacrifice she made. If she had not done so, the Pharaoh would not have reached to his rightful end.

Women should put their complete trust in Allah (swt) and hope for the best. Always think positive and wait patiently. Allah (swt) is Merciful and always plans the best for His faithful servants.

Maryam – Umm-e-Isa

Prophet Isa’s (as) mother and his maternal grandmother (wife of Imran) signify a woman’s strength, courage and love for Allah (swt). When Maryam was born, her mother presented her for the service of God, which led to the miraculous birth of prophet Isa (as). Maryam was also a single parent. Can we imagine the impact of women as single parents and how they achieved the remarkable goals, without the aid of any male life partner?

Women in the Life of our Beloved Prophet Mohammad (sa)

Amna – Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) mother: She was another excellent example of single parenting. She raised our Prophet (sa) but did not live long and soon passed away.

Khadijah (rtaf): She was the first woman to accept Islam, an amazing partner with a very strong and supportive role. Time, money, self – she devoted all in the way of Allah (swt). She was a very successful business entrepreneur of her time, and she sacrificed all for her husband’s mission. She donated every penny she owned but never once did she complain. Instead, she was always caring and encouraged out beloved Prophet (sa) at each and every step, raising his children well, too. During the years of the siege, the richest business woman of Makkah had to eat dried leaves, but she did not complain.

Fatimah (rtaf): Daughter of the Prophet (sa) and mother of Hasan (rtam) and Hussain (rtam). Her role is that of a loving daughter, wife and a responsible mother. She spent most of her time at home doing house chores and focusing on her children. She bore all hardships with patience and was given the status of the leader of women in Paradise.

Aisha (rtaf): She was a very intelligent woman, excelling in the field of medicine, literature, poetry, mathematics, laws of inheritance and much more. She had a versatile personality, encompassing multi-dimensional knowledge.

Once, someone asked her how she knew so much about medicine? She replied that all the delegations that used to come to the Prophet (sa) from all around the world, talked about the medical cures from their religion, and she gathered her knowledge from them. This proves that a woman should always strive to gain knowledge. It is very important for a woman to be educated, as she bears the responsibility of raising future generations.

There were hundreds of orphans under the care of Aisha (rtaf), and she looked after them diligently. Aisha (rtaf) preached Islam to men and women alike for forty-eight years. She was also an eloquent speaker.

Umm-e-Atiya (rtaf): She was a brave woman, who participated in six battles along with her husband and fought bravely. It requires a lot of courage to leave one’s home for fighting in the battlefield. Umm-e-Atiya (rtaf) proved that women can do anything for the cause of Islam.

Umm-e-Haram bint-e-Milhan (rtaf): Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to rest in her house often at midday. One day, he sat up from his nap and started to smile. Umm-e-Haram (rtaf) asked him, if he saw something in his dream, and he replied he saw some of the people from his Ummah, crossing the ocean to do Jihad. They appeared like kings wearing shining crowns. She asked the Prophet (sa) to pray for her to be with those men and attain martyrdom. The Prophet (sa) prayed for her. Her grave is still present near the shores of Cyprus, where she fell off her horse and died a martyr, while crossing the ocean with the Muslim army.

We all need to consider the contributions we make to this world. We should analyze what we are planning to give to this humanity. Do we recognize our role? Are we working in any way to perform it in the best possible manner?

Women can contribute immensely, while retaining their natural femininity, without assuming the role of men. They can make their mark and play an important role in the society by fulfilling their duties as a mothers, sisters and wives. If they are helpful, trustworthy companions to their husband, they can move mountains and give worthy and pious individuals to the Muslim Ummah.

Do not waste your time and abilities on self-pity, being bitter all the time and thinking negatively. Allah (swt) has a plan for you. Once we willingly accept the role Allah (swt) has carved out for us, we can work productively achieving our goals and accelerate in the right direction.

Transcribed for Hiba by Umm-e-Ibrahim, Mustafa and Muhammad       

Legacy of a Mominah

mominah

The daughter of a friend of mine, a stunning green-eyed 27-year-old, died on the 2nd of Ramadan. My sons were in the Masjid, attending the translation and Taraweeh session of her brother-in-law. They told me later that when he reached the Ayahs 156-7 of Surah Al-Baqarah: “Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. They are those, on whom are the Salawat (i.e., blessings, etc.) (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones” – at that precise moment, he received a text message stating that his sister-in-law had breathed her last.

Rohma, the grandchild of Dr. Israr Ahmed, had felt pangs of a stomach ache just a month earlier and had a persistent cough. A CT scan revealed lymphoma that was ravaging her entire body. After two failed attempts, the doctors decided to operate upon her yet again to do a biopsy for obtaining a detailed picture, so they could immediately start chemotherapy.

She dropped her three princesses – four-and-a-half year old Maryam, two-and-a-half year old Hajra and nine month old baby Safia – at her mother’s house and went with her husband and mother-in-law (who was also her Khala) to the hospital. Khala advised her to pray Zuhr and Asr together, because they weren’t sure how long the procedure would last. Rohma prayed with such humility and presence that even the nurses couldn’t help being moved. Before they wheeled her away, she said the Kalimah, proclaiming the oneness of Allah (swt) and testifying to the apostleship of Muhammad (saw).

Her condition began to worsen after the surgery – she had to be put on the ventilator.
Her mother and Khala kept a constant vigil by her side, reciting the Quran to her seemingly lifeless form. She was heavily sedated and no movement was detected in her body. However, one day, as her mother read Surah Rahman to her, tears started rolling off Rohma’s eyes. Her lips started moving soundlessly in perfect synchronization with the revealed words. Even though tubes protruded from her nose and mouth, she finished the Surah in a silent yet powerful confirmation of her faith. After ten days on the life support, the soul left her body for its eternal abode.

“(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing onto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, and enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89: 27-30)

Rohma was one of those young people, for whom it can rightly be hoped that they would deserve the honour of being under the shade of Allah’s (swt) grandiose and imperial throne, Insha’Allah, for she, according to a Hadeeth that promises this prize, was raised in complete submission to the will and decree of the Designer of the heavens and the earth. At an age, when teenage girls engage themselves in frivolous activities, she was gaining the understanding of the Deen of Allah (swt). After her marriage to Hafiz Mohsin Mahmood, it seemed like they were made for each other, each excelling the other in virtue and piety. Her husband gave her the impetus to memorize the Word of Allah (swt), and she took to it with a passion and love characteristic of her righteous soul.

She devoted herself completely to being a model wife and ultimate teacher and loving mentor to her little girls. The couple used to spend time listening to each others’ Quran recitation and utilized their time wisely for serving their Master. In contrast to children, who are brought up in a mindless consumption of junk TV, Maryam was being fed the epitome of supreme achievement, the Noble Quran – she knows 16 Surahs by heart and that shows on her intelligent face and in her sparkling eyes. Besides being a fulltime mother, wife and daughter-in-law, Rohma was also assisting her mother in conducting Quran classes, teaching translation, Tafseer and Tajweed.

Although her father is an affluent man, she had no desire for the glint and glamour of this world and hardly ever went to the bazaar. Her unswerving focus was the good pleasure of Allah (swt) and the life of the Hereafter, for which she strove with every ounce of her energy. She had an intense desire for martyrdom, which she confided to her sister just before leaving for the hospital. She knew that the one, who died of a disease related to the stomach, was considered to be a martyr.

Rohma knew the cancer had spread and that she was dying. When people worried about her small girls, she asked them in return if Allah (swt) was not enough for her children and would He not suffice for them?

During Rohma’s brief illness, she saw dreams that held the promise of honour and eternal bliss. She met her deceased grandmother (who was a very righteous woman) in one such vision, wherein she showed her two gardens, one belonging to her and the other to Rohma. She also escorted her to the place, where flowers grew in both their respective Jannahs. After one of her biopsies, she related a near death experience to her grief stricken mother. She said that when her heart had stopped, she had seen five stars of piercing brightness and experienced such an intense feeling of ecstasy that she didn’t want to return to the mundane world. The next thing she saw was doctors bending over her body in their desperate attempt to resuscitate her. This vision was the last thing that she spoke about.

Last Ramadan, this virtuous soul was extremely fortunate to have found the Night of Glory. As she sat in her darkened room doing Ibadah, she saw a radiant light that did not belong to this world, and then her right hand and heart became very heavy, as if angels were greeting her with a warm handshake. Out of her humility and modesty, she did not reveal it to anyone, except her mother – this incident became known only after her death.

The woman, who gave birth to this admirable young lady, Rohma’s kind-hearted mother, is comforted by the fact that she has indeed, Insha‘Allah, fulfilled the purpose of life, which is to please our Lord, the Most High. At Rohma’s funeral, she sat with a saddened face and sinking heart, but there was no wailing and no complaints. Her only utterance was what is pleasing to Allah (swt): “Inna lillahi wa Inna Elaihi Rajioon.”

I still remember the first time I saw Rohma at the occasion of Eid prayer in Bagh-e-Jinnah. “O my God,” I said to myself, “she’s so ravishingly pretty.” That was how Rohma was – beautiful inside and out. May Allah (swt) grant her an elevated rank in Paradise with all her loved ones, Ameen.

Rohma’s small daughters, who were so looking forward to their mother’s return from the hospital, now daily ask their Nano and Dado such heart rending questions as: “Is my mother never coming back? Did my mother die? I also want to die. When will I die?” But at other times, they are consoled by the fact that now they have two mothers: Dado Ammi and Nano Ammi. I pray that these precious girls be granted the good of this world and the next and that their loss is compensated in a way, which cannot be comprehended by us, mortals, Ameen.

The Pakistani Wow-man

wow-man

By Tooba Asim – Freelance journalist

“Educate a woman, educate a nation” is a line often repeated, but educated women are a sight seldom seen. Stories of oppression and abuse, on the other hand, are in abundance. But there’s still light somewhere at the end of the tunnel, a hint of a silver lining in our otherwise dark cloud. The Pakistani woman is rising to face the challenges.

Academics, medicine, technology, politics, sports or arts – we have names to be proud of in all. The following are accounts of two such women, who faced the odds bravely and are now a source of pride.

Sughra Solangi – A Journey of Courage

After being divorced at a young age, Sughra Solangi, mother of two, geared up to face the challenges and started with pursuing her dream of being educated. After passing her matriculation exams, she applied for a teaching job which she got. From then on, her journey started. Yet, she realized that the villagers were not willing to send their daughters to school. Sughra started a door-to-door campaign in order to persuade them otherwise. She started collecting funds and giving interest-free loans to help those in need of financial assistance.

Within a year, she had around her a small but a very strong group of women and thus started realizing her dream of getting the girl-child educated. She named her group Marvi Rural Development Organization. Through this organization, she wanted to help the harassed women facing hardships in the patriarchal set-up of our society. Women were denied their right to education and girls were married off at very tender ages, with their lives unjustly dictated by their husbands. Women were also being wrongly murdered under the label of Karo Kari (a cultural practice). Such were the miserable conditions of women in Sughra’s village, from which she wanted to liberate them.

Sughra succeeded in getting the attention of donors towards the ailing conditions of these poor women. Soon, help began pouring in, and Sughra’s little group of women expanded into a bigger, stronger organization working for the betterment of the rural women of Sindh.

In 2011, Sughra Solangi got the prestigious U.S. Secretary of State’s “International Women of Courage” award, which was presented to her by Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, this is not the end of her story. Sughra wishes for all women of Pakistan to start facing the challenges and to start speaking up for themselves.

Jamila Khatoon – The Courageous Ms. Oil

A Rickshaw driver, a motor mechanic and a hawker combined in one superwoman – this is Jamila Khatoon for you. Her journey, however, has been anything but easy.

Jamila was married off to a man double her age. Six months into their marriage, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. She contacted the local labour house to help her with their household expenses. She started receiving Rs. 2000 a month to fulfill all her household needs and get treatment for her husband. This was when she put her foot down and ventured out into the man’s world. She decided to take matters in her own hands and began frequenting her husband’s oil supply shop. After her husband’s death, she completely took over his business.

Being a woman, she met a lot of resistance in the form of people refusing to work with her. Instead of giving up, this brave woman took all the matters in her hands, including the motor mechanic’s job. Fighting with people, circumstances and the society, Jamila Khatoon continued with a persistence rarely seen in a woman.

Soon she started venturing to the newspaper market along with her job as a motor mechanic. People started mocking her and calling her a ‘Ladka (lad) without a moustache’. Life went on for Jamila, and she became a newspaper hawker. But this was not enough for her. Later, defying the general norm, she started taking Rickshaw driving lessons. Jamila Khatoon is now a proud Rickshaw driver, a newspaper hawker and a motor mechanic.

Braving her way through the pitch black night, Jamila is confident of the beautiful bright morning waiting for her.

Sughra Solangi and Jamila Khatoon are just two examples of countless such women trying to face the odds in a man’s world.

A final word

In the absence of a truly Islamic and Shariah-compliant state, the lesser-privileged Pakistani women are left to their own devices, especially when male relatives, who could have assumed responsibility for them, do not step forward. Even if some men do take the initiative, they do not aid these women with dignity and honour. In such a case, women have only two options: they can either accept the injustices of the society silently until death comes to relieve them, or they can fight back to attain an honourable status (which is their right to begin with).

It hurts us deeply to see how Dr. Afia Siddiqui is being tortured at the hands of the foreigners, and today, we raise our voices in her support, for her freedom. What about the dark injustices happening on our own soil? Do we have the license to pass verdicts against anyone and assign them to inhuman treatment? Do we not fear Allah (swt)? Or, is it simply that whatever happens in our own backyard is just not worth giving any attention to?

The cries of the oppressed do reach Allah (swt) sooner than anything else. Ignorance is not bliss. Our Zakat and Sadaqat should be used to rehabilitate destitute Muslim families especially headed by women or comprising females only. They need to be empowered and educated with honour by providing long-range solutions instead of quick fixes. Tarbiyah and character-building should also be a part of this programme so they can raise contributing citizens in the society rather than those who resort to a depressed mindset.

Career or Kids? Every Mom’s Dilemma

career or kids

Is there a way out? There always is. Mary Pipher in her bestseller, “The Shelter of Each Other”, shared the story of a couple caught up in a hectic lifestyle. Both husband and wife worked long hours to meet their financial needs. They realized that they hardly had time for personal interests, each other, or their three-year-old twins. They were guilty as sin to know that the daycare providers had seen their children walk the first steps and heard their first sounds. They were now reporting behavioural problems in the twins. The couple had essentially fallen out of love, as they were operating as machines run on a schedule.

The wife felt even more anguished for her unfulfilled desire to help her mother, who had cancer. But what was she to do? She couldn’t make time for herself due to her demanding career. They seemed trapped in what appeared to be an impossible situation.

They headed for counselling and set their mind to fix the problem. They made some vital changes to their family life, which created dramatic differences. The husband talked to his employers that he would no longer be able to work on Saturdays. The wife eventually quit her job to stay home with the boys. They invited the wife’s mother to move in with them, pooling their resources. Now, the children had the loving company of their grandmother, and the grandmother was cared for by her own daughter.

But this togetherness didn’t come by a wave of a magic wand. They all agreed to make personal sacrifices, realizing what they were giving up was lesser in value than what they would eventually gain. They cut back in many areas – stopped eating out and quit buying things except for essentials. The husband carpooled to work. The wife didn’t behave like a victim of circumstances, who was forced to surrender her career.

This family understood clearly that either they could have more time with each other or more money – not both. They chose time over money. This choice made a profound difference in the quality of their personal and family life. They were happier, more fulfilled, less stressful, less guilty and more in love.

The point is that there is always an option. You may simplify your lifestyle, consider cutting back, changing jobs, shifting from full-time to part-time work, work closer to home to cut commuting time, create a virtual office in your home, etc. But you need to be honest with yourself, first and foremost. Why exactly do I work? Is it really a financial need or is it that I enjoy the independence? Does it help me earn a more sound reputation in society and family or does it fulfill my craving to pursue my career? Only if you look yourself honestly in the eye and understand the deep reason for your work motives will you be able to prioritize. What weighs more for me: my family or my career?

Steven Covey said: “The bottom line is that there is no need to be held hostage by these lies, if family is really your top priority. And making the family priority will push you into creative exploration of possible alternatives.”

In order to prioritize our values in life we need to understand that parenthood is a unique role. It is about nurturing the potential of a special human being entrusted to our care. There is no substitute for the relationship between a child and a parent. When mothers wish to head for the career world, anyone with a positive attitude and caring disposition appears to them as their substitute for their kid. However, competence and character are a difficult combination to find in caretakers. Urie Bronfenbrenner, a child development expert, puts it aptly: “You can’t pay someone to do for a child what a parent will do for free.”

A working mother should also know that if she doesn’t have time to teach her children, society will. And all will have to live with the results. It is said that when the infrastructure shifts, everything else rumbles. If only we study the changes that have occurred in the four dimensions of society – popular culture, laws, economy and technology – over the past fifty years or so, our findings will put everything into perspective. Following is a brief analysis:

Popular culture

Un-monitored children spend most of their time today either eating or watching TV. They have increasing access to videos, music, movies; hence, they view pornography, illicit sex and violence. Working moms have to beat the clock, so the tone at home is not relaxed, and family members seldom get any meaningful time to bond or share.

 

Hochschild writes: “In this new model of family-and-work life, a tired parent flees a world of unresolved quarrels and unwashed laundry for the reliable orderliness, harmony and managed cheer of work.” At work, a mother receives affirmation, prestige, instant results and compensation. If she decides to stay home, she will be making a pro-active choice that can only come from the heart and results will appear in many years, Insha’Allah.

Laws

Popular culture has impacted the political will and resulting laws, too. Once, the institution of marriage was held as a vow of two individuals not only to each other but to the society as well. Today, marriage is no longer a covenant or a commitment. It simply is a contract between two consenting adults. If this contract is found to be inconvenient, unnecessary or an obstacle in one’s road to desires, it can be annulled without considering the family at all.

This depreciation of the sanctity and solemnity of marriage has unleashed an epidemic of divorce, child neglect, community ruin and loneliness. And the present day laws do very little to prevent this disaster. In fact, feminist movements and others fan the disintegration more. Deviations from Deen and sheer ignorance think it right for couples to divorce each other.

Economy

Cost of the average home has increased, inflation has spiraled, and dream life-styles have emerged. Consequently, homes have nuclear families of parents and children. Intergenerational and extended families are viewed as a source of interference.

Since economic responsibility has been reducing from intergenerational to just nuclear families, it has given rise to a culture of freedom and independence. Escape from responsibility and accountability is available everywhere. Families and individuals are increasingly becoming isolated.

Technology

Steven Covey observes: “Changes in technology have accelerated the impact of changes in every other dimension. It provides unfiltered access to highly impactful visual images, supports saturated advertisement, puts us into materialistic overload, causes a revolution in expectations.” Mass media literally drives the culture in your home.

Having said that, a child, whose mother stays at home and resents it, is worse off than if she goes to work. The benefit comes only if the mother understands completely that she is fulfilling a sacred stewardship in life by rearing her children. Nothing on the list of values outweighs her role as a nation builder, and Paradise can be hers just by being a loving and responsible parent. Otherwise, she might just hear herself scream and whine before her children, making them guilty of being a hurdle in the happiness of their mother’s life. Her children would soon start wishing that she goes to work, so that there is peace at home.

It is a great tragedy for a woman to not realize that if today she neglects her professional, developmental and social interests, they can still be pursued tomorrow. However, if she does not invest herself in her kids at their young age, she herself will eventually be the one to reap the whirlwind. As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: “For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Will this regretful mother be able to turn back the clock?

On the Faith of My Friend (Part 1)

faith of friend

By Maria Haqqani – Freelance writer and engineering student

Imagine yourself to be standing in the middle of a garbage dump. The stench is overpowering. Now, imagine somebody pouring a bottle of perfume all over you. Will you smell great? No, you will still stink; well, maybe in a weird sort of way. Such is the example of a person surrounded by foul friends, as expressed by our Prophet (sa):

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. As for the seller of musk, then either he will grant you some, you will buy some from him or at least you will enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one, who blows the blacksmith’s bellows, then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Imam Al-Ghazali (ra) has said: “A bad friend is worse than a snake. A bad friend is worse than Satan.” Why is that so? Let’s think rationally. Satan can only entice a human to do wrong. He will come and whisper in your ear to commit a particular sin and make it all the more appealing to you. But a bad friend will call you up, show you the wrong path, and take you along with himself to tread upon that path. Satan may make you think that drinking is the ‘in’ thing, but a bad friend will not only offer to pick and take you to the bar but also pester you to have a glass of wine.

“And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: ‘Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaitan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.’” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29)

“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).”  (At-Taubah 9:119)

The Deen of Islam is Yusr (easy). In the aforementioned verse, Allah (swt) does not say “be like the truest ones” or “follow the truest ones”. He merely says to associate with them – as a result, their qualities will definitely rub off on us. The same way the bad company will lead us to sin, good company will have the opposite effect and bring us closer to Allah (swt). The Prophet (sa) said: “Solitude is better than being in bad company, and good company is better than solitude.” (Baihaqi) This Hadeeth stresses the importance of good company. Perhaps the biggest advantage of having the company of people close to Deen is illustrated by the following Hadeeth-e-Qudsi;

“Where are those who loved one another for My Glory? Today I will shade them under My shade, on the Day when there is no shade but Mine.” (Muslim)

The First Story: Only Between Allah (swt) and You

Maham, a third year Madrassah student and a pupil at a private university, related the following story:

The journey through classical Islamic learning is highly stimulating – not only does it bring you closer to Allah (swt) and transform your lifestyle, but it also makes your ideas and plans venture into a realm you’d never have possibly imagined. During my second year of studies, I began contemplating the Purdah, meaning the Niqab. Surah Al-Ahzab and Surah An-Nur are two Surahs that, if they hit home, make a woman strive for Allah’s (swt) love and do whatever He has commanded a woman to do. The fire to take this step was kindled, but, as usual, Satan got up to his tricks again and attacked me with inhibitions. “How will I explain to my parents that I want to don the Niqab? They’ll think I’ve gone crazy! How will my friends react? They’ll call me an extremist! I shall never fit into their group again! I’ll be an outcast! This is going to be so hard!

I decided to discuss this issue with one of my classmates, who had been blessed enough to have taken this step already. After lending a very patient ear to my effusions, she replied: “Honestly, Maham, you’ll hate it.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

“Yes, you will,” she ‘reassured’ me, eyeing my startled expression. “After donning the Niqab, you’re just not the same person anymore. You cannot fit into your crowd, your college mates will mock you and you cannot dress up. At times, I just feel like ripping it off and being the ‘old me’ again.”

I was speechless. Here I was, asking my friend for some encouragement, when I was in a state of mental turmoil, whilst all she could offer was excuses for me to drop the idea altogether? But, she leaned closer and continued, her eyes shining: “You know what keeps me going? The sole fact that when I step outdoors, I know that whether I’m happy or sad, whether I have a smile playing upon my lips or whether my face depicts anxiety, it is only my Allah (swt) Who can see. It’s mine and Allah’s (swt) little secret. That is what makes the Niqab so special. Oh, and you know another thing that’s so cool? I can see everyone, but nobody can see me. A Niqabi gets the spiritual edge, the edge in Dunya and in the Akhirah.” She smiled a smile that reflected pure satisfaction and contentment.

I suddenly realised I had tears in my eyes. The beauty of the idea and the sincerity with which Lubaina had uttered this statement touched my heart. Next time I stepped out of the house, a three inch cloth covered my face and barred most of my face from view, shielding me from recognition. My friends stared at me in wonder, as though a stranger had stepped into their midst. I smiled. I knew my secret was safe.”

The Second Story: The Power of Ya-Sin  

Zareen, a third year Madrassah student studying at a private college, had a very interesting story to share:

When my best friend visited Pakistan from London during her university holidays, we would sleep over at each other’s place quite frequently. It was a Ramadan night, when she was over at my house. I had been reciting Surah Ya-Sin. I put aside my Quran, with the page open at Surah Ya-Sin, and started talking to her. Her inquisitive nature possessed her, and she asked me what I had been doing. I told her I’d been memorising Surah Ya-Sin.

“Why?” she asked.

“The Prophet (sa) said that Surah Ya-Sin is the heart of the Quran. Hence, I believe that if the ‘Heart of the Quran’ is inside a person’s heart, how can Allah (swt) burn that person and his heart in hell?”

The thought attracted Hooria. “So even if a person is a sinner, but he’s learnt the Surah, he won’t be put into the fire?” was her innocent question.

“Yes, that is what I personally believe,” I replied. “There is a Hadeeth, which implies that one only gets from Allah (swt) whatever he expects to get from Him. I expect this from my Allah (swt) and hence hope for the best.”

Hooria thought this over. “Okay,” she said finally. “I want to learn it, too. Let’s keep each other in check and set a target for every day.”

Excited, I agreed. This was indeed great news. Hooria was not very regular in her prayer; in fact, it was only in Ramadan that she would pray once or twice a day and very rarely the rest of the year, if at all. We kept a check on each other and progressed well into the Surah by the time she returned to the UK.

One day, we were talking to each other and she asked me: “If you give up something in your life, I’ll do something for you, whatever you ask.” I agreed.

After she’d told me what she wanted me to give up, I seized the opportunity and said to her, “Now, it’s my turn – you have to give up eating Haram food and switch entirely to Halal.” She agreed. Now, she began to be more conscious of what she was eating and consequently more conscious of Allah (swt). Soon she grew accustomed to eating Halal.

We kept up this process of doing things for each other. Next, I asked her to begin praying the Jumuah prayer. She agreed. This tiny step awakened her spiritual self. She began offering one prayer a day and that increased to praying five times a day!

When she visited Pakistan next, Hooria said to me: “You know, Zareen, when I came to Karachi this time, it was a different me. My heart was at peace. I was happy internally. Even in one Namaz, whatever I ask Allah (swt), He gives it to me. You always told me to ask Him for Him. I never knew Him. But now I’m getting to know Him a bit more. You know what? I didn’t miss a single prayer yesterday!”

I still marvel at how Allah (swt) helps people, who take a step towards Him. Hooria was most enthusiastic about her Ibadah. Her day was no longer complete without reciting Surah Ya-Sin. She’d feel something was terribly amiss, if she didn’t. She asked me questions and found out about the Chasht and Ishraq prayers and would offer them regularly. I told her that the Asr prayer is actually four Sunnahs and four Fard, although the Sunnahs are not compulsory. But her enthusiasm knew no bounds. Since then, it’s been eight Rakats for her in each Asr prayer. If I would leave my two Nafil in Maghrib, saying that I’m too exhausted, she’d blackmail me and say: “How would you feel, if Allah (swt) said to you that He’s too exhausted to put you in Jannah?”

“Instead of going from zero to ten, Hooria stepped from zero to a ninety-nine, Masha’Allah. She may not have started covering, but when I donned the Niqab, she was my best support,” finished Zareen.