The Wonder Boys Who Became Great Men

July 11- wonder-boys

They were like a couple of scattered pearls during the life of the Prophet (sa), running to and fro like naughty children at any place and time. As their loving grandfather prostrated during earnest prayer, one of them would playfully climb up on his head. Like any innocent child, fond of sweet treats and naturally curious about environmental stimuli, one of them would pick up a date lying on the ground in Madinah and innocently put it into his mouth.

It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of black camel hair. Al-Hasan Ibn Ali (rta) came, and he enfolded him in the cloak; then, Al-Hussain (rta) came, and he enfolded him in it, then Fatimah (rta) came, and he enfolded her in it, then Ali (rta) came, and he enfolded him in it; then, he said: “Allah wishes only to remove Al-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family (of the Prophet (sa)), and to purify you with a thorough purification.” (Al-Ahzab 33:33) (Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Al-Hasan and Al-Hussain are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise, and Fatimah is the chief of their women.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn-Majah and Ahmad)

The Prophet’s (sa) grandsons, Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta), grew up to be laudable leaders and heroes, who shunned worldly glory and honour. Despite their lineage, they didn’t feel “entitled” to occupying positions of authority and power over people. Their deaths as martyrs have raised their status and honourable mention even in this world. But we know that it is not just their blood connection that has earned them supreme success in the hereafter. As the Quran tells us, Prophet Nuh’s (as) pleas were of no avail for his son. He drowned because he didn’t submit to Allah’s (swt) commands.

Therefore, the question is: what did Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) do as youths that paved way for their lofty characters as adults?

  1. They were brought up on a solid foundation of Islamic morals.
  2. They had the correct Aqeedah in their hearts and witnessed it being confirmed by the actions of their parents and extended family.
  3. They were never denied the company and love of pious older people.
  4. Their chaste mother shunned the glitter and glamour of the life of this world.

Their mother will be the chief of the women of Paradise in the hereafter! Without a long string of intellectual achievements or accomplishments to her credit, she lived a life of hardship. She died very young, after living a life of forbearance in the face of abject poverty. Despite her short lifespan, she gave birth to and reared children, who not only carried forward her father’s mission, but also left notable marks in Islamic history.

Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) are role models for Muslim families today: reminders for new mothers that Tarbiyyah begins from conception and is pivotal in the early childhood years. For the youth, “Hussnayain” continue to belie the fact that “youth is wasted on the young”. Rather, when the foundation is strong, in very short lives, young people can achieve what the majority cannot accomplish in decades.


Youth: Future of the Ummah

cover - youth - Jul 11

Compiled by Tooba Mumtaz

It definitely goes without saying that the Muslim youth of today will be the leaders of the Ummah tomorrow. This is a role for which they have to be formally groomed, by their families, educational institutes, and the society at large. Today, the sad reality is that the youth are “lost” – they lack direction and they definitely are in dire need of role models to emulate and leaders to follow. So, what can be done to improve the situation and channel the youth towards a positive future?

Hiba interviewed a few prominent personalities, who have worked with the youth in different fields. These individuals included:

1)      Salman Asif Siddiqui: Director, Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC), Educationist and Parent Counsellor.

2)      Amina Murad: Administrator, Star Links School and author of award-winning Flowers of Islam publications.

3)      Shujja-uddin Shaikh: Academic Director, Quran Academy.

4)      Saulat Pervez: teacher at Generations’ School, content researcher, and writer.

5)      Sumaira Dada: ex-teacher and writer.

The aforementioned individuals gave their valued input on three aspects:

Top three success strategies for working with the youth in order to motivate them to be the leaders of tomorrow

Salman Asif Siddiqui

1)      Respect the youth and nourish their confidence, self esteem and trust.

2)      Educate them about the culturally-rich history of Muslim leaders who were pioneers of the Islamic history/society. Tell them their success stories in the different fields of life.

3)      Thirdly, there should broaden their vision and keep the global perspective of humanity in mind, while being loyal to their regional identities. We want to produce world leaders.

Amina Murad

Act upon what you say

The youth need good contemporary role models to emulate. Be one of them: a sound practicing Muslim and follower of the Prophet (sa). Be a leader at home and in the community.

Communicate vision

Telling is not communication. Be visionary and give them a vision. Be their friend and show them ways of achieving their goal, despite the setbacks. Provide positive feedback to motivate them instead of continuous criticism. Help them focus by removing time wasters that sap their energy. Youth should be taught to find their special talent, develop it, and channelize their energy in that direction.

Involve them and channelize their energy

Muslim youth have fewer opportunities to channelize their energies. Authentic work experience and involvement in schools, colleges and family and community services will channelize their energies. Positive involvement will help them unleash their potential and help them gain confidence to work towards their vision. Their blurred vision of a glamorous world will be shattered and the harsh realities will excite them to share their resources with others. Leadership will thus follow.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

First of all, we should clearly define success. It is crystal clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the ultimate success is that of the hereafter. As such, I propose the following strategies:

  1. Try to inculcate real faith (through company of pious people and teachings of Quran and Sunnah), as faith is the fundamental motivating force for good deeds.
  2. Get authentic knowledge of what is Halal and what is Haram (through the teachings of Quran and Sunnah); we cannot move forward towards success unless we know the right path ourselves.
  3. Keep in view the life of the Prophet (sa) – according to the Quran, his role model is the best, followed by the Companions of the Prophet (sa).

Saulat Pervez

  1. Keep the communication lines open — instead of micromanaging the youth, have a trust relationship where they can come to you to discuss any problem.
  2. Educate them not only in the traditional intellectual subjects, but also in emotional, mental, and social areas so that not only are their SAT scores or O Level results high, they can also learn to empathize, to exercise self-control, and be civic-minded.
  3. Raise them to not only be good Muslims – but to be good humans and understand that the only way you can be a good Muslim, is to be a good human first and foremost.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Trust them: Our youth is constantly kept under check via a strategy of do’s and don’ts till they rebel. We need to realize that after giving them a guideline on the do’s and don’ts that Allah (swt) has laid down for us; we need to trust them to follow that guideline.
  2. Convey the message that the Muslim heroes of yesterday are as relevant for us today as they were then: The Umar and Uthman (rta) of the golden Islamic age are not just paragraphs in books on Islamic history; rather they have been real people who led a balanced life in this world. We need to make our youth realise this so that they stop looking for heroes in un-Islamic cultures.
  3. Channelize their talent in a way that Allah (swt) approves of. We need to guide them to the right kind of friends who will support them in their endeavour.

What are the top three issues facing the youth of today and how do you suggest they deal with them?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

In Pakistan, specifically, the identity crisis is the main issue which has developed in our youth. They have lost confidence in being recognized as Pakistanis and as Muslims. The only option is ‘escape’ from their country and religion. To change this mentality, we need to develop institutions confidence is restored in one’s identity.

Another issue is lack of emotional confidence; the youth has no personal opinion. It’s so easy for them to be moulded by others and react. To deal with it, the thought process needs a radical shift from extremism to a balanced state of mentality. Finally, the youth of the Ummah need to develop native language skills.

Amina Murad

Communication revolution

We need to educate the youth about the communication revolution and have one-to-one conversation as parents and teachers. Without any guidance, technology has become a giant monster; information is equated with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Communication revolution can revolutionize the fate of the Ummah if our adults and youth are educated to use it for acquisition of knowledge and dawah purposes.

Freedom from religion

In today’s secular environment, freedom of expression is an attempt to have freedom from religion. The youth are confused. Constant hammering of slogans of freedom to choose their lifestyle is redefining their conceptual framework. The youth need to develop love and relationship with Allah (swt) and Muhammad (sa) as role models with a sound knowledge base.

Bad companionship

All issues are linked with bad companionship; be it media or society. One’s relationship with the Qur’an and its lessons should be stronger than the relation with Facebook and its communities. Without guidance, the blitz of technology leads to self-love and narcissism: the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Sponsoring events that allow the youth to meet like-minded friends, interact with multi-generational society and provide Halal fun and entertainment and remember Allah (swt) is a practical way to deviate them from Haram fun all around.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Lack of direction and supervision

For this, pious people (practicing Muslims) should be contacted who are sincere and willing to help.

Domination of western thoughts and isms

For this, our past history, where we were the leaders, should be revisited through books as well as a study of Muslim thinkers and philosophers, who contributed to human thoughts and civilization.

Limited concept of Deen

For this, they should go back to the original sources of Islamic knowledge (the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (swt)). Furthermore, it should be noted that unless we have a comprehensive concept of Deen, the non-issues would remain the issues and sectarianism will prevail in the society.

Saulat Pervez

Frustration with family and other authoritative figures in their lives

Be patient and understand that no person is truly one-dimensional. If you feel someone is always finding fault in you, stay cool and don’t label him/her. Try to talk to them logically and explain to them your side of the story; be ready to listen to their side, too. Reach a solution together.

Over-reliance on friends

Your friends are important, but do understand that just because they are ready to embrace you just the way you are, with no demands whatsoever, doesn’t mean that it’s always a good thing. Having someone older, wiser and more experienced as a guide post, who can distill all those “brilliant” ideas and plans, is truly essential in this age. Ideally, this person should be a parent.

Too plugged

I know it’s cool to log into your Facebook account on your Iphones and have wires sticking out of your ears all the time, but too often, we are exchanging real, purposeful experiences for virtual, meaningless encounters. Find a healthy balance between staying connected with those who really matter, listening to content which is truly inspiring and having social experiences which really challenge you to learn to live with people despite the differences.

Sumaira Dada

1)      Lack of heroes to look up to

2)      A strong influence of largely un-Islamic culture.

3)      Lack of opportunities to release energy and utilize talents.

What behavioural characteristics do the youth need to instill during the primary stages?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

The youth needs to realize the purpose of their life which has been defined by the Quran and Sunnah. They should have positive goals in their lives. Our youth is mainly inspired by Western ideals and beliefs. The west promotes ‘emotional intelligence’ which is being clever, however, the Islamic paradigm is ‘Tazkiya-e-Nafs’. The West works on cost-benefit analysis, whereas Islam teaches us ‘emotional well-being’. To teach these differences, parents must be trained to act as mentors on the divine principle of ‘falah’.

Amina Murad

Nurture their real nature

An Islamic personality should be our Fitrah. In the polluted environment, our Fitrah is suppressed and little priority is given to the remembrance of Allah (swt). The most beautiful ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) should be made the benchmark for all the characteristics taught.

Time management

Value of time means valuing life and self. Parents and teachers should help young children limit every activity and realize that it’s Satan who makes us lose track of our goals and waste our life. Set a routine and discipline from a very early age. From Salah to sports, from giving time to parents to people around them, all activities should nurture individuality which makes each human being a very independent and special entity in this world.

Creative thinking

With unlimited opportunities, creative thinking is a skill that needs to be developed to help our kids reach the level of excellence in all pursuits. We should remember our kids are and will be living in a very different world than ours. Unless we help them come up with challenging ideas, they will be unable to challenge the world of Kufr around them and become part of it. Leadership demands Muslims to be creative to solve the problems of humanity.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Sense of responsibility

We should remember the purpose of life and the real life ahead.

Live for others

People live for themselves but we, being the Ummati of the Prophet (sa) have to serve others.

Trust in Allah

No matter how many difficulties we face, we should have faith that nothing is impossible for Allah the Almighty.

Saulat Pervez

Foremost, we need to teach our children to think. At school and at home, we must give them practice in developing their thinking skills, so that they grow to be reflective individuals, just as the Qur’an encourages.

Secondly, we need to instill an awareness of their relationship with Allah (swt) from an early age. They need to understand that Allah (swt) loves us and He is Merciful, but He has also made us responsible for our own deeds and we will be held accountable for them.

This brings me to the third point: they need to be cognizant of the fact that “worship” is not only pure Ibadah such as Salah, Sawm, Hajj, Sadaqah, etc. Along with my prayer and my fasting, I must be honest in my dealings with people (even if they are parents and teachers). Too often, we pray, yet we cheat; we recite the Qur’an, yet we backbite; we give charity, yet we spread rumours without verification. Unfortunately, kids learn this dichotomy from adults.
All three reinforce each other towards a common goal: awareness that our life has a purpose and before it ends, we had better make ample preparation for the life which is eternal.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Positive thinking
  3. Realism


It is heartening to note that every individual, who is currently working with the youth, is very clear about their problems and solutions. One can only hope that these problems are addressed and these solutions are implemented, in order to ensure that the youth turn out to be the bright future of our Ummah.

When the Bumpy Ride Begins…

July 11- When the bumpy ride begins

By Sameen Sadaf

“O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a fire (hell) whose fuel is men and stones!” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Adolescence, or the teen years, is a stage in a person’s life between puberty and adulthood. After the first two years in a child’s life, this is the only other stage in which a significant growth spurt occurs, bringing about a lot of physical and emotional changes. At this crucial point in life, the teen needs almost as much attention as a baby. However, the nature of the required attention is different.

The problems start when most parents fail to realize this need of their teen. A common mistake parents make is that they reduce (or sometimes completely let go of) the need to guide the child. Dr. Ron Taffel, a prominent psychologist, says: “Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”

Creating a balance between the ever-changing emotional and physical states during adolescence is a difficult task for the teen to accomplish on his/her own. Parents can quite easily prevent the formation of an unbalanced personality by providing the right environment at home.

If the teen has a loving and friendly environment at home, he/she will never look for solutions outside. It is vital to discuss with the teens the physical and emotional changes at puberty, as each stage comes along. This will save them the trouble of seeking solutions elsewhere.

“Tell them, because if you don’t, someone else will,” says Memoona, a teacher at an Islamic school.

George R. Holmes in his book “Helping Teenagers into Adulthood: A Guide for the Next Generation” says: “It’s important for a teenager to be given as much responsibility as early as he or she can accept it – it promotes a sense of being trusted and a sense of being mature, and gives one an increase in self esteem. When people are ignored or indulged, or must have things done for them, they find themselves inept and inadequate in the world and usually very, very angry.”

Devising and assigning different tasks to teens at home helps them to become more responsible and keeps them occupied, leaving lesser time for TV, video games or chatting. Mothers can involve their teens in doing different household chores by assigning such duties as filling up the water bottles, throwing out the trash, washing the dishes or ironing the clothes. You can also give them a choice of chores they prefer to do.

Watching informative programmes on the television as a family, cooking together on the weekends, playing mind games, discussing books, studying the Quran together with your teens and going to the mosque for daily prayers are all positive activities and good alternatives to modern-day technology, which tends to make children more passive than active.

Talking to teens helps. And this doesn’t mean interrogation such as: “Have you cleaned your room?” “Have you prepared for your test?” It also does not mean constant critical evaluation: “Look at your hair!” “You can’t even eat right” It means to hold a meaningful conversation where you are the listener and your teen does the talking. With practice, you will be able to bite your tongue and become a genuine listener, empathizing and understanding your teen’s views.

If some unacceptable habit or event comes into your notice, don’t panic or get angry. Patience is the only virtue that can guarantee success. Patience, love and prayers with consistent effort are the most effective tools to deal with your teens.

What a Teenager Hears Everyday…

July 11 - What a teenager hears everyday

6:00 a.m. Wake up or you will miss Fajr again.

6:15 a.m. The one who misses Fajr is a Munafiq (hypocrite) who will be in Hell. So get up!

7:00 a.m. You’ve got to finish your breakfast!

7:20 a.m. You look like a punk with that hairstyle. And what’s with your crumbled uniform?

7:30 a.m. Put on your sweater. Don’t you know its cold outside?

7:35 a.m. I expect you to get the highest score in your class test today, so don’t goof up like last time!

2:00 p.m. What happened on the test? How much did Ahmed score? He is so smart. You should be more like him.

2:10 p.m. Now, don’t throw your books and bag everywhere; you left enough mess for me to clear in the morning.

2:30 p.m. Eat the vegetables, too. They have all the vitamins.

2:45 p.m. By the way, did you pray Zuhr?

3:30 p.m. God knows what will become of you. With that attitude, you will land nowhere. Get serious about your studies!

5:00 p.m. Can you turn down this rotten noise you call music! One day, you will surely turn deaf.

5:15 p.m. Since I am sure you never heard the Asr Adhan, I have come to order you to pray right away.

5:30 p.m. Turn off that darn TV. Have you finished your homework yet?

6:00 p.m. Oh great! Now you are wasting time with video games. Clean up your room instantly. When I was your age, I did four times more work than you will ever even imagine.

6:45 p.m. Pray Maghrib. Why do I always have to tell you?

7:00 p.m. Why are you eating chips right now? We will be having dinner soon. And throw the wrapper in the dustbin. Really, sometimes I feel I am dealing with a toddler.

7:30 p.m. Don’t your friends have anything better to do than to chat on the cell?

8:00 p.m. Come to dinner. Why do I always have to look for you when it’s time to eat?

8:10 p.m. Try to eat your food when it is served warm. It is the same story everyday.

8:30 p.m. What are you watching now? It doesn’t look very good to me. Besides, did you pack for your school tomorrow?

9:00 p.m. Don’t forget to pray Isha.

9:15 p.m. Sleep early or you will be late for Fajr again.

The above chart was inspired by Dr. Glen C. Griffin’s observation of a typical day in a teenager’s life. If this is what they hear day in and day out, what kind of an emotional state or bonding will these youngsters have? Instructions and accusations will render them either highly sensitive or totally de-sensitized. Well-meaning adults can use some humour, logic or other warm gestures to motivate the youth to act more responsibly.

It’s Just a Mirage

July 11-its just a mirage

By Hafsa Ahsan

Advertisement slogan: “It’s fun to be young…”

Hadeeth: The Prophet (sa) said: “The feet of the son of Adam will not be removed (meaning, he will remain standing for reckoning), until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he has spent it, his youth and how he managed it, his wealth, from where and how it has been spent, and his actions and how close or far they are from his knowledge.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Advertisement slogan: “Do the dew.”

Verse: “That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.” (Al-Zalzalah, 99:6-8)

Advertisement slogan: Feel Free.

Hadeeth: The Prophet (sa) said: “If I forbid something, avoid it and if I order you to do something, do it as much as you can. (Sahih Bukhari)

Advertisement slogan: “Sab Keh Do.” (Say everything.)

Verse: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc.]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.). O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting) . And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Al-Hujurat, 49:11-12)

Advertisement slogan: Maza Kar Lay; Dil Bhar Kay (Have as much fun as you please)

Verse: “Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things. Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.” (Al-Mulk, 67:1-2)

Advertisement slogan: Declare your beauty

Verse: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur, 24:31)

Resisting Peer Pressure

July 11- Resisting peer pressure

A common question of most teenagers is: “I want to practice Islam. But all my friends and cousins are into movies, music, girls and the usual teenage stuff. When I try to avoid them, I am either laughed at or left alone. I feel so isolated that I end up joining them – albeit reluctantly – in their pastimes.”

Is there a way out for such teenagers, who are inclined towards their Deen and yet succumb to peer-pressure for fear of isolation? The answer is – yes. First of all, such teenagers should realize that it is commendable that they are striving to practice Islam at this young age, when they are under considerable peer pressure. We ask Allah (swt) to keep them steadfast in their resolve and grant them the guidance to continue undeterred upon this righteous path and noble intention. Ameen. We hope the following steps will help, Insha’Allah.

Find like-minded friends

Join a class or an online group of similarly inclined young boys or girls and find people of the same age and gender, who share the same ideals.

Pursue extra-curricular activities

“Active Saturdays” in Karachi ( is a great outlet for young boys to combine fun with faith. “Perceptions” and “Quest” cater to girls.

Attend a weekly lecture

Find a men’s/women’s weekly Halaqah or Islamic Dars that you can attend. Make sure you attend this class, even if you have an exam.

Study buddy programme

Look inward for your strengths. What do you enjoy doing? Is there anything that comes naturally to you, which you can teach someone else? Like driving a car, solving math problems, or deploying science practicals? If you are good at something, start helping out others in it, even if it is teaching an illiterate child how to read! There is always someone who needs help. Eventually, as your teaching expertise and experience grows, you can start charging for tuition.

Pray Salah in congregation (for boys)

I cannot stress enough, how important it is to attend congregational prayer in the mosque. You will see how this action will keep you steadfast and strengthen your faith, Insha’Allah. Girls are also advised to be regular with their Salah at home.

Craft clubs

Pottery, stained-glass painting, baking, crochet, knitting, website design or even babysitting – there is so much fun teenagers can have. During my childhood, for example, I remember how the neighbourhood kids would organise an annual funfair in the complex. The end result was a fun, successful event – the result of channelised, collective youthful energy.

Humanitarian or welfare work

There are many welfare organisations that need young volunteers for their work. Whether it is education of poor children, rehabilitation of flood refugees, counseling sick patients in government hospitals, or spending some time in orphanages, ‘giving’ your time and company to the less fortunate is a very fulfilling way to pass extra time.

Camps and clubs

For young boys, camping out, safaris, boating, fishing, karate or playing sports at clubs are healthy options for physical recreation. For girls, picnics at parks, interning at magazines or newspapers, blogging online or organizing bake sales and book clubs can provide healthy outlets for creativity.

Youth is the threshold of adult life. If a believer passes the difficult test of steadfastness during this phase, and wises up about the company they hang out with, they can set forth upon the path of righteousness for life. We ask Allah (swt) to make the teenagers and young people steadfast, grant them high ranks of piety and faith and make them pass this test. Ameen.

Teen Tales

July 11- Teen tales

I am worth it!

When I was sixteen years old, life was like a hell hole at home. My dad and I were constantly fighting. It came to this point that if I was watching television and he walked into the room, I would just shut it off and walk out of the door.

He was upset with me for many reasons. He would also embarrass me in front of my friends. Later, he would try to tell me, how much he cared and that he was eager to listen to my problems. Whenever I would test his sincerity, he would crack up and re-start his tirade. I could sense the disapproval in him that lashed out in the form of anger. He only wanted to shape me up and didn’t really want to hear me out.

Then, one day, something happened. Amongst many of his futile efforts, he once again approached me: “I know you feel as though I haven’t tried to understand you, but I want you to know that I am trying and will continue to try.”

I snapped back: “You have never understood me.” I stood up and reached for the door.

My dad called out: “Before you leave, I want to say that I’m really sorry for the way I embarrassed you in front of your friends the other night. I shouldn’t have done that.”

I whipped around and shouted with tears in my eyes: “You have no idea how much that embarrassed me!”

My dad walked up to me calmly and said softly: “Please come and sit down.”

For the first time, I actually felt that he genuinely wanted to listen to me. It was not some crap surface technique he was fooling me with. I began talking and he just listened. There was no moral evaluation and no judgement. It was as if he didn’t know my past at all. We just started on a clean slate, so much so, that it became and my mom came in to ask if we would sleep at all. I turned around to tell her that we had some more stuff to discuss. And my dad just nodded with a smile.

Later, when I asked my dad how he had managed to do it, he just said: “Because it was the right thing to do and you, my son, are worth it!”

Learning: We need to do a lot more private work inside our own mind and heart, before we begin to understand others. We have to let go off the negative spirit and past baggage inside of us first; otherwise, it will keep hindering us from understanding our loved ones.

Listening empathically means listening to others in their frame of reference. It also means that we might not be trusted initially, until others are certain of our sincerity. They will reject our overtures. But we need to keep coming back because they are worth it. And, eventually, we will win their trust and love with patience.

Life is overwhelming!

As a teenager, one thing that stands out in my mind was the feeling of being overwhelmed. I had to cope with the pressure of doing well at school, being on the debate team and being involved in three or four other extra-curricular activities simultaneously.

Though my mom was very strict about me keeping the room neat and tidy, there were times when she took over, especially when I had exams or my schedule was too time pressured. I would come home and find my whole room clean and organized. There would be a note that said: ‘Love, the Good Fairy.’ And I knew mom had just worked her head off to help me get ahead because I was so overwhelmed with what I had to do.

It really took a load off me. I would enter the spic and span room and whisper gratefully: “O thank you! Thank you!”

Learning: Little acts of kindness go a long way toward building relationships of trust and unconditional love. It could mean performing unexpected acts of service when you can sense that the other family member is struggling with his/her load of responsibilities. For example, you can wash the dishes, take the kids to the store for something they need for school, or call home to find out if the family needs something you might pick up on your way home.

Planned to the minute!

When I was fourteen years old, my dad promised to take me with him to Dubai on one of his business trips. We discussed it for three months, and finally the day came. He and I boarded the plane having planned our weekend to the minute. Dad was supposed to attend a conference all day, while I would stay at the hotel by myself. Later, we had planned to go dune bashing, and for a dow ride and dinner, etc. I couldn’t wait.

After what seemed ages, dad came to pick me up at 5:00 pm as promised for my treat time. But suddenly I saw him bump into his old friend. After warm pleasantries, he started to insist that dad and I accompany him to a thrilling cricket match at the grand Dubai stadium followed by dinner. I could almost feel my heart tear apart, as I knew how much dad loved cricket. I knew that was the end of my plans for the evening.

My dad profusely thanked his friend for the generous offer but explained to him: “Jazak Allah Khair for your kindness, but I have already promised my little angel this evening. And we are very excited to spend it together. Insha’Allah, next time, when I come to Dubai, I will see you.”

My heart just jumped with joy! My dad kept his word and, as expected, I had the time of my life that evening. It will always remain with me as one of the fondest memories of my father.”

Learning: Nothing makes a greater impact in the family than making and keeping promises. Just think about it! How much excitement, anticipation and hope is created by a single promise? Similarly, when we break them, how much heartache, anger and mistrust we create! These promises define our values and are the most vital and tender of all commitments we make.

The Advent of Universities

July 11- The Advent of universitites

By Saulat Pervez

Muslims were the first civilization to institutionalize higher learning through models of systemized education. In fact, modern-day colleges are ‘descendants’ of Islamic universities, which were very common in various cities across the Muslim world. Two of them are the world’s oldest running operations since their inception: University of Al-Qarawiyin in Fez, Morocco, and Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt; they have been continuously operating since 841 AD and 988 AD respectively.

These, and many others like them, originated from mosques. The term for ‘university’ in Arabic is Jamiah, the feminine form of the word Jami, which is used for ‘mosque’. According to “1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World”, this derivation shows that “in Arabic the place of religion and the place of advanced learning are completely tied together.” Therefore, it is no surprise that “some of the mosques of Islam are the oldest universities”.

Al-Qarawiyin mosque and university was built by Fatima Al-Fihri during the Idrisid rule. The university was well-equipped with astronomical instruments and tools to calculate time. Additionally, it offered studies in Quran and theology, law, logic, geography and medicine along with courses on chemistry and mathematics among others. The University had a rigorous selection process which included conditions such as “learning the whole Quran and good knowledge of Arabic and general sciences,” as mentioned in “1001 Inventions”.

Royal families were so keen on furthering the cause of education that, unlike today, students of Al-Qarawiyin did not have to pay tuitions and were actually given stipends for food and accommodation. Many illustrious personalities are associated with this pioneering institution such as Ibn Al-Arabi, Al-Bitruji, and the Jewish figure Musa Ibn Mamun (aka Maimonides). As for Al-Azhar, Ibn Al-Haytham lived there for a long time and Ibn Khaldun taught there.

Universities were equipped with exceptional libraries. In 1050, the book collection of Al-Azhar library had “more than a hundred and twenty thousand volumes, recorded in a sixty volume catalogue totaling about three thousand five hundred pages,” as stated in “1001 Inventions”.

R.S. Mackensen, a contemporary European historian of Islamic librarianship, has remarked: “Books were presented and many a scholar bequeathed his library to the mosque of his city to ensure its preservation and to render the books accessible to the learned who frequented it. And so grew up the great universities of Cordoba and Toledo to which flocked Christians as well as [Muslims] from all over the world.”

During the later part of the 11th century, Baghdad introduced its precursor to the modern university in the form of a chain of Madrasahs, which housed students and a salaried faculty. They were known as the Nizamiyah, after their founder Nizam Al-Mulk, a Seljuk Vizier. The largest and most splendid of these was located in Baghdad; the great theologian Al-Ghazali and the celebrated historian of Saladin, Baha Eddin, were lecturers there.

Al-Mustansiriyah college was established in 1234 CE by Caliph Al-Mustansir. It was a large two-storied building, oblong in shape, with a courtyard in the center. Housing and food were provided for those students who required it. The curriculum included religious studies, mathematics, medicine, and history, among other subjects.

The Sankore university in Timbuktu, which also evolved out of the Sankore mosque, offered subjects such as Quran, Islamic studies, law, literature, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, linguistics, sciences, etc. Students were also trained in trades and business ethics, with classes in carpentry, tailoring, navigation, fishing and so on.

These are just a few of the many universities which existed during the Golden Age of Islam. While scholars and intellectuals flocked to them to teach, they also produced marvelous theologians, inventors and thinkers who had a lasting impact on the modern world as we know it today.

Islam in Saudi Arabia

July 11- Islam in Saudi Arabia

By Kristine Julika

It all starts with a single ‘Allahu Akbar!’ in the distance. Soon, other voices from other mosques join in. Then, one by one, the Muadh-dhins finish their Adhans, until there is just a single voice left again concluding the choral call to prayer: “La ilaha illa Allah!”

Prayer is a central and very influential part of life in Saudi Arabia; everybody and everything stops for the sake of the Creator (swt). The shops are closed; people stop working to remember the true meaning of this ephemeral world.

My story of Islam in Saudi Arabia is mainly a story about a relatively new Muslim revert, who has lived in both Western and Eastern societies. Since Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam and the Muslim civilization, it is the dream of every Muslim to live there or at least visit once in a lifetime. This is because Saudi Arabia means no obstacles in enjoying a really Islamic life.

In every European country, I felt like a freak. All the stares and whispers made me feel uncomfortable, even in my native country. Although I wasn’t wearing an Abaya or Niqab, the headscarf did the trick. In Saudi Arabia, however, I don’t feel any different from other women. Everybody has a black Abaya (in most cases, also the Niqab). In contrast to the Western countries, here, you might get some uncomfortable looks, if you do not wear Hijab – at least, in Riyadh. In Riyadh, whenever I put on my Abaya and Niqab, I feel so safe and protected, hardly a feeling I had in Europe.

The same thing can be said about food. Here, I don’t have to be extra careful, when I am in the supermarket buying food. I know that all meat is Halal. In general, I can eat whatever I like!

The amount of shopping malls is unbelievable, and they all tend to be really huge, maybe because this is (almost) the only form of relaxation, entertainment and socialization for Saudi women, and people want to make these places as huge as possible.

The Saudi youth, with their iPods and iPads, are more prone to cultural invasion, because they have lots of money; for some of them, Islam seems to be only a tradition. They love travelling to Western countries. But, at the same time, they also love this country because “this is where I was born” (an answer a student gave me in one of my classes).

However, we should remember that Saudi Arabia is not a flawless place to be. It is not Jannah, after all. Although everybody is said to be Muslim, there are some people, who are just following Islam by tradition or default. For example, some behave contrary to Islamic norms of behaviour; they might be arrogant or forget about being kind to other people. If we live with the right attitude in mind – one that is not judgemental of others – and enjoy life in the country where the Prophet (sa) was born, then it really seems a perfect place to be. Alhumdulillah for the great opportunity!

War in Monotheistic Religions – Islam

July 11 - WAr in Monotheistic religion

In the new millennium, the term ‘holy war’ has come in such a frequent use that nearly everyone is ready to offer its interpretation. In her book “Holy War”, Karen Armstrong, a renowned modern religion writer, takes a detailed look at the history of the three Monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – in order to find the origins of war in all three religions. She also discusses the effects these religions have on the current ideas of ‘holy war’ and political situation in general. In the previous two articles in this series, we took a look at the origins of war in Judaism and Christianity. This time, we will search for the roots of the concept of war in Islam, as interpreted by Karen Armstrong.

Armstrong starts her discussion of Islam with a historical look at its founding and early formative years. She describes the situation of the Arabs just before the advent of Islam as a time of crisis for Arabia. The increasing trade had brought prosperity to Hejaz, which facilitated formation of elitist lifestyle among the rich Arabs. The old tribal values of sharing of resources and generosity were breaking down, creating a vast gap in the society between the rich and the poor. Along with this social disaster also came the political disorders in the form of increasing tribal warfare and crisis of faith, which left Arabs feeling inferior in front of the Jews and Christians living along with them. This is because, unlike the other two religions, they had received no revelation of their own.

Islam came as a solution to the many problems Arabs faced at the time, which was reflected in the early commands Allah (swt) gave to Muslims through Prophet Muhammad (sa): they were to believe in One God only, prepare for the imminent Last Judgement and care for the poor and oppressed in the society. Islam, however, was seen not as a new religion but as the ultimate revelation of the Jewish-Christian tradition.

As can be concluded from the above, in the initial years of Islam, there was no concept of war as such. The focus of Prophet Muhammad (sa) was on spreading the message of Islam among his people. The anti-elitist nature of Islam attracted people from the lower classes of society first. But it was only when the nobles of Makkah started to convert that the rich Makkans began to see this new religion as a potential threat to their regime. Soon the Quraish, the ruling clan of Makkah, started persecutions of Muslims and inflicted upon them numerous hardships. However, even at this point Muslims received no command from Allah (swt) to oppose the oppressors. They were to hold onto their faith with patience and perseverance, until finally, in 622 C.E., they received the permission to migrate from Makkah to Madinah – the city, where Muslims would have the chance to build the first Islamic society.

With the support of the inhabitants of Madinah, Muslims started gaining strength and popularity. In fact, according to Armstrong, conversion to this new faith, which raised the self-esteem of the Arabs as recipients of God’s ultimate revelation, became an irresistible trend in the peninsula. The peaceful spread of the influence of Islam was further facilitated by the treaties the Prophet (sa) made with the neighbouring tribes, without forcing conversion upon them, as that would mean denial of freedom of belief, which was one of the central beliefs of Islam. Non-Muslims were granted protection by the Muslim state, in return for paying a Jizya tax.

As the Muslim state grew, Makkans started to see a serious threat in it. They began using their trade caravans for inciting the neighbouring tribes of Madinah to fight against the Muslims. Since these caravans were usually accompanied by an army, they themselves bore a threat to the security of Madinah. Armstrong points out that this was the time, when the Prophet (sa) received revelation that justified the use of violence as a means of self-defence. (Al-Hajj, 22:39-40) However, Muslims were not allowed to open hostilities. If the ancient Israelites were commanded by God to exterminate the Canaanites living in the Promised Land, and Christians denied violence as such, even for self-defence, then the concept of self-defence stood central in the Islamic view of warfare since the very beginning.

According to Armstrong, at the time, the practice of making a Razzia (raid) on an enemy tribe was deemed normal and acceptable. The code of Razzia was such that the raiders attacked only their enemies, capturing their cattle, animals and booty, without killing people. This is what Muslims started to practice against the Makkan caravans. One day in 624 CE, a small group of 313 Muslims went out to Badr for just that – to attack a particularly important Makkan trade caravan, which was accompanied by most of the Quraish leadership. As Muslims attacked the caravan, they were not aware of the fact that Makkans had requested from back home additional forces for support. However, although Muslims found themselves vastly outnumbered, they won the encounter, which later became known as the Battle of Badr – the first battle in the history of Islam.

Comparing the concepts of war in the three religions, Armstrong maintains that out of all three, Islam has the most realistic view of the warfare. Islam neither justifies a total aggressive war of extermination, as was practiced by ancient Israelites, nor insists on complete pacifism, as was advocated by the early followers of Christianity. According to Armstrong, Islam recognizes that war is inevitable and sometimes a positive duty in order to end oppression and suffering. Moreover, the limits and extent of warfare in Islam are clearly defined and must be followed, in order for war to be legitimate.

Although, for centuries, in the West Islam has been described as ‘the religion of the sword,’ Armstrong says such a perception is inaccurate and has been inherited from the time of the Crusades. It is certainly true that war played a role in the establishment and spread of Islam, but it is not correct to see Islam as a bloodthirsty and aggressive religion.

Compiled from Karen Armstrong’s “Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World” published by Anchor Books (

Five Easy Habits to Pick up this Ramadan

July 11- 5 easy habits to pick up this ramadan

By Ruhaifa Samir

With Shaytan locked up for the month of Ramadan, we all find it easier to do good deeds compared to other months around the year. We all do extra Ibadah in the form of reciting the Quran, doing extra Nawafil, performing our prayers on time, etc.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, noticed that amputees took, on average, twenty-one days to adjust to the loss of a limb. From further research, he established that people take twenty-one days to adjust to major life changes and form habits. We engage ourselves in productive activities throughout Ramadan for thirty days, by the end of which we perform extra Ibadah almost habitually! So why not consciously continue them, so that these habits last us not only during Ramadan but for our whole lives?

Here are some easy habits that you can pick up this Ramadan:

Block a slot for the Quran every day

Choose a time during the day, when you find it easiest to sit and recite the Quran and ponder over its meaning. For some, it might be before Fajr and for others, after Maghrib. Choose a time that best fits your schedule and block it for the Quran for the rest of the year.

Plan life around your Salah, not the other way round

Allah (swt) has promised great rewards for those who perform their Salah in their earliest times. Most of us get into the habit of praying Salah on time during Ramadan (especially Fajr and Maghrib). Continue the trend. Set your biological clock to Salah time and plan all other things you need to do around it!

Choose three to five goals every month

A Muslim must constantly strive to better himself. Choose three to five goals to achieve this Ramadan and for every subsequent month afterwards, so that by the time Ramadan rolls around again, you are a stronger, better Muslim. Use these goals to get rid of some of your bad habits, such as procrastination, anger, gossiping, etc.

Use the time before and after Fajr

We all diligently wake up for Fajr during Ramadan; in fact, some of us wake up with enough time to perform Tahajjud as well. By the end of Ramadan, our bodies are wired to wake up early. Don’t let Shaytan dissuade you from continuing this once he is set free at the end of Ramadan. Remember, Allah (swt) waits for us to invoke Him for our needs before Fajr; He has put great blessings and mercy in the time after it. Make it a habit to use this time wisely after Ramadan as well.

Continue fasting after Ramadan
Our bodies get used to fasting during Ramadan, and it gets easier as the month progresses. Don’t let go of this habit. The Prophet (sa) used to fast every Monday and Thursday, and on the 13th, 14th and 15th of every Islamic month. Other special fasts include those of the six days in Shawwal, 9th and 10th of Muharram, and on Yaum-e-Arafa (the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah). Remember, the gate of Ar-Rayyan in Jannah is reserved for those who fast.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Part 8

July 11- 7 habits

The Personal Bank Account

You might be thinking that we are talking of your bank balance or your jewels in the locker. Actually, we are discussing something even more priceless and invaluable. We will be looking at some ways to build self-confidence and a strong character that will help you embrace the first three habits of highly effective teens, as suggested by Sean Covey.

Just as you can deposit and withdraw from your personal bank account (PBA), you can similarly do so with the stuff you think about, act upon or do to others – they, too, impact your PBA. For instance, when you honour a commitment or keep a promise, it becomes an instant deposit into your PBA. Why? Because it makes you feel good inside and happy outside. It boosts your self-esteem and you feel in control of your life. On the contrary, if you break a promise or stand someone up, it’s a withdrawal because you feel disappointed. Later, you try to defend your wrong behaviour through excuses and justifications that nag you from the inside and make you miserable on the outside.

So, are you ready to evaluate your PBA, just to check, if you are loaded or bankrupt? Following are some signs, according to Sean Covey, of both conditions (sounds like a disease). Take the evaluation:

Signs of a poor PBA

  • You cave in easily to peer pressure.
  • You wrestle with feelings of depression and inferiority.
  • You’re overly concerned about what others think of you.
  • You act arrogantly to hide your insecurities.
  • You self-destruct by getting heavily into drugs, pornography, vandalism, etc.
  • You get jealous easily, especially when someone close to you succeeds.

Signs of a healthy PBA

  • You stand up for yourself and resist peer pressure.
  • You’re not overly concerned about being popular.
  • You see life as a generally positive experience.
  • You trust yourself.
  • You are goal-driven.
  • You are happy for the successes of others.

If your current personal bank account is low, don’t worry about it. Just start making small deposits right away. This will eventually win back your confidence. Small deposits over a period of time will make you rich.

Following is a list of some initial yet meaningful deposits you can make to build your PBA. Similarly, an opposite action would end up in a withdrawal from your PBA:

PBA Deposits

  • Keep promises made to yourself
  • Initiate little acts of kindness for others
  • Handle yourself gently
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Renew yourself
  • Let your talents bloom

PBA Withdrawals

  • Break personal promises
  • Be a loner and keep to yourself
  • Beat yourself up
  • Be dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wear yourself out
  • Neglect your talents

Keep promises made to yourself

Have you been friends with people who say one thing and do just the opposite? They promise to pick you up for a party at such-and-such a time but never show up. How humiliating it is to deal with people who take their promises so lightly and habitually break them! You end up mistrusting them.

The same goes for commitments you make to yourself. I will finish my homework as soon as I get home. I will stick to my diet. And when you break a promise to yourself, you stop trusting yourself.

Start making small deposits into your PBA by keeping small promises to yourself, such as: I will eat healthy food for lunch; I will not answer my cell phone until I have offered my prayers, etc. You can make bigger deposits into your PBA once your self-trust is built and you feel more in control of your life. Then, ignoring a nagging brother or sister or sharing with them will be possible, too. These and similar bigger deposits will make you emotionally richer.

Initiate little acts of kindness for others

Psychiatrists state that if you ever feel depressed, try to do something for others. It will lift you up, maybe because you will focus outwards rather than inwards. When you serve someone else, it generates a natural feeling of goodness inside, as is the law of Allah (swt).

Sean Covey shares a personal example. Once, while travelling, he was upgraded to first class. He was very excited at the prospects of wide seats, edible food, courteous stewardesses, etc. Among the passengers, he noticed a lady travelling alone with a wailing baby. She was clearly in distress.

After battling inside his head for some time, Sean decided to swap his ticket with hers. She was quite surprised at his kind gesture and thanked him profusely. Throughout the flight, Sean kept on thinking how the baby and mother were doing. Unable to curb his curiosity, he went up to the first class just to check on them. The sight brought a smile to his face, and he immediately knew that he had made the right decision. The baby was warmly snuggled up to his mother, and they were both in peaceful slumber. Their peace meant a great deposit for Sean. Kindness always brings comfort that selfishness cannot.

Handle yourself gently

Rita Mae Brown once said: “One of the keys to happiness is having a bad memory.” Some of us are very self-critical. We expect perfection from ourselves; thus, when we make mistakes, we are least forgiving and most uptight.

Especially if we are late bloomers, we should not expect perfection the very next morning after making new attempts to improve. We should be patient with ourselves and give ourselves time to grow. We should also learn to laugh at our mistakes and not repeat them.

Sean Covey shares another example. A ship at sea for many years picks up thousands of barnacles that attach themselves to the bottom of the ship and eventually weigh it down, becoming a threat to its safety. Such a ship ultimately needs its barnacles removed, and the least expensive and easiest way is for the ship to harbour in a freshwater port, free of salt water. Soon the barnacles become loose and fall off. The ship is able to return to sea, free of its burden.

Are you carrying barnacles in the form of mistakes, regrets and pain from the past? Perhaps you need to let yourself soak around in fresh water to rid yourself of the barnacles, too. Letting go of your burden may just be the deposit you need.

Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues we will discuss the remaining three ways to deposit into your emotional bank account and build self-esteem. Be on the lookout…

You will Reclaim Them!

July 11- You will reclaim them

We all realize that this world can be a better place, so we begin to fix what is wrong. Essentially, we start with others. Why do we do that? Why can’t we fix our own self first? It makes more sense to work within our ‘circle of influence’ rather than fret about our ‘circle of concern’.

Family life is no different. Something or the other constantly hinders it from attaining a beautiful ‘we culture’, where family members deeply, sincerely and genuinely enjoy being together and have a shared sense of beliefs and values.

Do you know how a Chinese bamboo tree grows? After you sow the seed of this tree, you see absolutely nothing for nearly four years, except a tiny shoot emerging from a bulb. But during those initial years, all the growth occurs underground. A massive and fibrous root structure spreads deep and wide in the earth. And take a guess at what happens during the fifth year? The Chinese bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet tall!

This is also how our family life works. We invest valuable time and tireless effort to nurture growth. But we don’t witness any results for weeks, months and sometimes even years. However, if we have patience, we will see phenomenal growth, change and results in the fifth year. The problem is that we don’t persevere long enough and abort our hopes long before our efforts can bear fruit.

Doesn’t the Holy Quran say that the road to Jannah is through Sabr and Salah? Then, how can we imagine achieving anything worthwhile in this world, without exhibiting patience? Especially as parents, doesn’t it mean to suffer inside, so that others can grow? It also facilitates the understanding of our inner weaknesses and true motives behind each action. Patience truly means faith in action and emotional diligence.

“Inside each of us is this deep longing for ‘home’, for the rich, satisfying relationships and interactions of quality family life. And we must never give up. No matter how far we feel we’ve gotten off track, we can always take steps to correct the course. I strongly encourage you: no matter how far away a son or daughter seems to be, hang in there. Never give up. Your children are bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, whether physically by birth or emotionally by the bonding of the family commitment you have made. Eventually, like the prodigal son, they will return. You will reclaim them.” (Stephen R. Covey)

Means to Reclaim Your Kin

Principle of self-improvement

Sometimes, as parents, you have had no role-models, or worse, bad memories of your own parents’ fights. In such situations, you are either clueless or repeat the same mistakes they made with you. It is highly recommended that whenever you get into a frustrating situation, pause. Examine your tendencies. Compare yourself with your vision. Avoid speaking impulsively. Retire frequently to the solitude of your inner self to recommit to winning your battles. This will keep your motives straight. It will also give you a clearer perspective and greater control of your own thoughts and behaviour.

Principle of honesty

When implementing change, involve your family and honestly admit the mistakes you have made in the past. This does not mean that you compromise on your values or principles to please them. If you slip into your previous nasty behaviour – apologize. Also, never lie. Their young minds evaluate you on these supposedly insignificant gestures which, in reality, have a long-range impact on your relationship with them.

Principle of respect

Just because you are in charge, you do not have the right to be disrespectful to your children, even when they are off-track. Remember: your children will internalize the very modes you use to resolve conflicts. If that includes name-calling, yelling, threatening, using physical abuse or foul language, it is a clear violation of the principle of respect, whether you are in public or private, regardless of your child’s age. The Prophet’s (sa) winning card was treating others (foes or friends) with courtesy, respect and honour, all the time.

Principle of trust

Do not label your child. If he has been labelled in the past, now is the time to unfreeze it. Your child draws his security from you as a parent, and if you don’t trust his inner strength and capability, he has nowhere to turn for support. Never break promises you make to him. It is one of the greatest withdrawals from any emotional bank account. Weigh your words very carefully. If you are unsure, do not commit.

Principle of empathy

Listen to your child attentively and sincerely, without interrupting, passing judgements and accusing with curt remarks. One of the deepest hungers of the human heart is to be heard and understood. Sometimes, all that your kids want is your time and understanding to de-stress themselves. Give it to them. Your schedule, house keeping, guests, in-laws, etc., should be secondary in priority when your child needs you emotionally. A successful way to do this is to keep a one-on-one meeting/outing/leisure time (of your kid’s choice) at least once a week, so you can find out what’s happening in his life. Please remember this is not sermon time! This is just to figure out where your child needs help. Otherwise, just chill and have fun with him.

Principle of love

Lastly and most significantly, the primary laws of love mean love in its purest form, which is unconditional. It means acceptance rather than rejection, understanding rather than judgement and participation rather than manipulation. This is any parent’s pro-active choice. It is very much within your circle of influence. It is not dependent on anyone else’s behaviour, social status, education, wealth, reputation, etc. When you live according to the primary laws of love, you encourage obedience to the primary laws of life, such as honesty, responsibility, integrity, service, etc.

Most of us wrongly live by the counterfeit laws of love, which is being conditional. We will love him only if he “behaves”. We cannot separate behaviour from the individual and, hence, do not believe in the unseen potential. Goethe said: “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can or should be, and he will become as he can and should be.”

Your greatest joys and your deepest heartaches surround what is happening in your family life. As someone said: “No mother is happier than her most unhappy child.” When you sense a gap between your vision of a rich and joyful family life you want to have and the reality of your everyday family life, you feel disappointed. But do not despair. There is hope, tremendous hope, especially if you have faith in Allah (swt). Just keep working at it and do not give up. The Chinese bamboo tree will eventually grow!

Avenge me!

July 11- Avenge me

The caliphate of Umar Ibn Khattab (rta) is considered to be the golden era of Islamic rule. Umar (rta) was settled in Madinah, from where he commanded and guided the companions. He had instructed to inform him immediately, if any new state or land was captured by the Muslim army, so he could give directions for implementing further strategies.

Ahnaf Ibn Qais (rta) was one of the best men in Basra. He had earned the credit of bringing many areas under the Islamic rule. He reports:

“Once, we had news of a great victory that we wished to share with the Amir-ul-Mumineen. He inquired: ‘Where have you stationed your army at the moment?’ Upon reaching the designated location, he observed the camels we had used for our journey. After extensive travelling and hunger, they appeared to be weak and languished. Umar Ibn Khattab (rta) immediately admonished: ‘Are you not afraid of Allah (swt) concerning your mounts? Why did you not let these camels rest a while during your journey, allowing them to graze and replenish their energy?’

We clarified: ‘O Amir-ul-Mumineen! We couldn’t contain our joy over our triumph. We wanted to reach you as fast as we could to share with you the news of our great victory.’

The Caliph returned after hearing us out and we accompanied him. Instantly, a man appeared with a complaint: ‘So-and-so has been cruel to me. Please, help me against him!’

Amir-ul-Mumineen raised his whip and hit the man on his head. He retorted: ‘Why don’t you approach me with your complaints in my spare time? When I am occupied resolving important affairs of the community, you approach and insist to help you right away!’

The man, who had brought the complaint, left. Amir-ul-Mumineen almost immediately ordered for the man to be called back. When the complainant returned, Umar (rta) threw his whip before the man and said: ‘Avenge me!’

The man replied: ‘No, I do not wish to avenge you; instead, I will forgo the matter for Allah (swt) and for you.’

The caliph said: ‘No! Either you pardon me and seek a reward for the same from Allah (swt) or you can avenge me.’

The man chose to pardon the Caliph for the pleasure of Allah (swt).

After that, Umar (rta) left and headed to his house. He offered two Rakahs of prayer and addressed himself: ‘You were an ordinary man, and Allah (swt) granted you a respectable status. You were stumbling in the darkness, and Allah (swt) guided you to light. You were a man of low stature, and Allah (swt) elevated you with a sound reputation and reward. Then, He appointed you as a ruler over people. But when a man, who had been wronged, came to you to seek justice against the wicked, you whipped him. Now, explain: how will you face your Lord on the Day of Recompense, when you are questioned regarding this matter?’

Ahnaf Ibn Qais (rta) states: “While the Amir-ul-Mumineen was reprimanding himself, we were certain that he was the best of men at that time among all of us.”

Adapted (with permission) from Sunehray Faislay published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

Chand Raat: A Thoughtful Perspective

July 11- Chand raatThe announcement of the sighting of the moon is the signal for us to shift from prayer mode to party mode, and why not? After a month of spiritual devotion, we feel like we’ve earned the right to some worldly indulgence. However, the conclusion of the month of fasting shouldn’t mean the end of our awareness of being a Muslim. We should carry that consciousness throughout the enjoyments of Chand Raat as a testament that we haven’t forgotten Allah (swt) in the joy of the new moon. We can enjoy ourselves without losing our self respect as the best creation. Here are some handy tips:

Go easy on the accelerator

I don’t mean just literally. The Quran says: “Eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (God) likes not Al-Musrifûn (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Sure, eat out and buy pretty things, but don’t go overboard. It is best to decide beforehand the exact things you need to get, in order to avoid impulse purchases. Do you really need those silver bangles when you have a perfectly good set at home? If you still fall victim to over-shopping, instead of keeping the extra stuff guiltily among your things, give it as a gift to someone.

Leave the tinkles and shimmers at home…

Every day is not special enough to wear special clothes. We all jump at the chance to wear them, but there is a place for everything, and public places, especially on this night, are not fit for wearing attractive outfits; we all know the kind of crowd that is on the streets on this occasion.

…or stay at home with them

Who says you have to go out for fun? Food can be delivered at home, or someone can go out to get food for the whole party. Whether you go to the people or get the people to come to you, fun is how you make it.

Bazaar and Dhikr are not mutually exclusive concepts

Want the shopping and sightseeing but don’t want to leave the Barkat (goodness) at home? Begin with the name of Allah (swt). “I begin my adventure among the crowded stalls and malls by invoking Allah (swt),” may sound weird, so we have this tailor-made Dua for the marketplace to use: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah alone, Who has no partner. His is the dominion and His is the praise. He brings life and He causes death, and He is living and does not die. In His Hand is all good, and He is Able to do all things.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Don’t let the Isha prayer slip by in all the excitement. It’s the first post-Ramadan prayer. You don’t want to be marked absent on His attendance register immediately after the holy month has ended.

Keep it down

While staying up late at night chitchatting or watching TV, remember that it only seems that the whole world is awake. There are early sleepers, little babies and elderly people all around the neighbourhood. Even if you know that your neighbours will stay up longer than you, you should still avoid making noise out of charity.

Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) has said: “A man is not a Muslim till his heart and tongue are submissive, and he is not a believer till his neighbor is safe from injurious behaviour on his part.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Remember those who work at your house

A set of bangles for the maid is a small price to pay to make her feel special.

Chand Raat: the “night of reward”?

The Hadeeth “Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die” is weak: its chain of narrators is unsound. The night before Eid has not been recommended for worship. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t pray during this night. We just shouldn’t go out of our way to do special worship that we wouldn’t do normally.

Instead of weighing the propriety of an action or practice on the unstable measure of public opinion (“if I do that, what will people think?”), it is better to consider what the Almighty thinks. Unlike our fellow flawed human beings, He will actually reward us for taking His approval into our consideration.

Fast or Feast?


Before visiting any fast food outlet or restaurant, either for Suhoor or Iftar, ask yourself the following questions:

1)      What is my purpose of visiting? Am I going because of an important family occasion or is it simply a mixed gathering of my classmates that can easily be avoided?

2)      Will the venue comply with the sanctity of Ramadan? Will it be free of music, for instance? Will it ensure that the Dua for breaking the fast is recited, either over the speakers or through the television?

3)      What is the cost per head? It is Ramadan and each good deed will have multiple rewards. Do I think that this money could be given to a deserving individual or organization?

4)      Is the Iftar menu simple? Or does it contain twenty plus dishes, which will make me indulge, eat too much, delay my Maghrib prayers and make me too lethargic to perform the Taraweeh prayers properly?

5)      After having eaten out, will I remember that this is Ramadan and the whole point is to rise above food, instead of feasting at the end of the day?

6)      Ramadan is the time to train the soul. Will this feast fulfill the essential purpose of this month or further deteriorate the state of your soul?

7)      How many examples of lavish feasts have been cited from the life of our Prophet (sa) and his companions during the month of fasting?

Compiled by Umm Ibrahim and Umm Amal