Five Weaknesses to Overcome This Ramadan


5 weakness

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The Arabic word for fasting is Saum, derived from the word Saim. Saim is a horse that is kept hungry by his master, and raced to build his stamina for battles. By commanding us to give up on our desires for some part of the day, Allah (swt) intends to build our stamina for our enemy. Who is our enemy? Our enemy is Shaytan (Satan) – man’s clearest enemy. He does not hide his intention to harm us. In fact, that is his purpose in life to cause us to slip, and appear displeasing to Allah (swt).

Ramadan is an annual training month for the Muslims. Through this one month of training, Allah (swt) plans to train us for the entire year. He teaches us what we need to control to strengthen our faith, and become strong soldiers of His army. If one follows the routine in other months as well, by no means can he fail.

Here are the five things – the five weaknesses of man – which one must learn to control.


  1. Hunger


When Allah (swt) created Adam (as), Shaytan looked at Adam’s (as) hollow belly, and knew his place for overcoming this creation. Our indulgence and love for food can be figured out by the number of new restaurants opening up every day in almost every street. The Sunnah is not to eat to our fill. Overeating affects mental, emotional and physical health. Instead of treating yourself to culinary pleasures- eat simple food and feed the deprived instead. Raise your scales for the hereafter.


  1. Desires


Desires lead man to spread corruption. It is desire that provokes a man and a woman to strike an illicit relationship. It is desire to stand-out from the crowd that entices us to buy more and the exclusive. We can splurge without thinking how much Sadaqah could have been given instead. Shaytan knows all his traps well. The day we overcome our desires and only satisfy them through Halal means, we will overcome our enemy.


  1. Sleep


Life of this world is for action while the next life is for rest and leisure. Whenever sleep overtakes, remind yourself of your limited time on earth. Get up and do something that will help in the hereafter. Have extra time? Memorise the Quran. Know it already? Teach a skill to someone especially the underprivileged and help them improve their lives.


  1. Tongue


Misuse of the tongue harms relationships. Therefore, the Prophet (sa) warned us about it, and the scholars have written books narrating the sins of the tongue. Speak good or remain silent. Plant trees in the Paradise by busying your tongue in the remembrance of Allah (swt).


  1. Anger


Returning from the meeting with the Divine when Musa (as) found his people idol worshipping, he flared-up and lost control. Immediately, he made Dua for himself and his brother. Know that anger is from Shaytan. Find the reason for outburst and resolve the matter. Recite the Duas for protection, and ask Allah (swt) to allow you to focus your energies in a better direction.


Keep Your Doors Locked: An Introduction to Shaytan and his Avenues

locked door“O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.”(Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Believers are Momineen, a rank higher than Muslimeen. In the above verse, Allah (swt) addresses the believers- the believers who submit to their Lord. Their thoughts, action, speech and silence- are all out of submission to Allah (swt).

Faith is not like a glass of water you can drink. It rises gradually like tiny droplets of rain showering gently. Faith increases with knowledge and application combined. Allah (swt) brings Deen forward to those who are prepared to receive it out of submission. They don’t question why, what, how, where, who, etc.

What prevents people from submitting to Allah (swt) and entering Islam fully?

The Prophet (sa) warned: “The Shaytan (devil) flows in a man like his blood.” (Abu Dawood). He is naturally aware of our weaknesses. Hence, plots against us. He injects evil ideas and makes them seem fair. He beautifies actions of disobedience.  But, our Nafs is more powerful. Shaytan may throw ideas into our mind and heart like a ball. It is up to our Nafs to catch them or let them pass. We need to be vigilant and strict about our fleeting thoughts. But if, our Nafs forms a treaty with the Shaytan, we will belong to the companionship of Shaytan.

The first door through which Shaytan enters is that of desire

He uses this door for majority of the people. The scholars call this entrance ‘Al-Bahimah’ cattle-like. The trial of Adam (as) and Hawa (as) started with food. They were commanded not to go close to a particular tree, and Shaytan tempted Adam (as) to eat of it in order to become immortal. The consequence was that they had to leave Jannah.

Shaytan builds attraction around food, drink and intimate relationships. This is especially relevant to Ramadan, when Allah (swt) forbids indulgence into Halal to train our Nafs against Shaytan. But, Shaytan’s mission is to make us indulge excessively into food and sexual relations.

How can we guard ourselves?

Make Dua to Allah (swt). Eat Halal (permissible) and Tayyab (pure) only. Ask yourself before eating: “Am I really hungry?” Avoid overeating- as it poorly affects our worship, mannerisms, moods, etc. Don’t force-feed a sick person, a guest in the house or a small child. Do not equate food with love.

The second door through which Shaytan enters is that of anger

The scholars call this entrance, ‘Sabaiyah’ like wild animals. An angry person just wants to attack. He carries a burning feeling in his heart.  Anger also leads us to pride and arrogance. Shaytan whispers to people to take revenge, instead of forgiving them.

As a result, we act disgracefully- regretting our actions later. He turns us into a Zalim (oppressor) whom Allah (swt) hates. Instead, Allah (swt) loves Muhsinun (who act beautifully) and suppress their fury.

The third door through which Shaytan enters is the door of Hawa

Shaytan makes some people obey their moods and conveniences. The scholars call this entrance ‘Shaytaniyah’ demonic. They may worship Allah (swt) as much as they like to, in the manner they like to and not be bothered about what Allah’s (swt) commands are. For them their personal choices matter more; hence, they pick and choose. Hawa is like a stubborn child. It will jump into a deep swimming pool simply because it appeals to it.

This attitude is opposite of Taqwa- the state in which you obey Allah (swt) regardless of your own desires and feelings.This sin can be originally seen in Iblees, who used to worship Allah (swt) out of desires because he found pleasure in it. But, when Allah (swt) commanded Iblees to prostrate before Adam (as), Iblees refused.

There is a difference between Shahwah and Hawa. Shahwah is restricted to excess in food, drink, sleep, relations, etc. But Hawa is dangerous, because it prevents a person from entering Islam completely. He embraces some parts and rejects the rest. He is entirely dictated by his moods. He creates innovations.

The cure is to know Allah (swt). Renew our intentions to gain knowledge only to please Allah (swt). And to analyze every action we take.

Heal with Love

parenMy boy is a wonder. Yes, of course, I am biased! And it’s still not just me; to be honest, many other parents, teachers and everyone else we meet appreciate and comment on his energy. However, it was not so before. He was cranky, ignorant, distracted, selfish, insensitive and afraid – but not anymore.

I have been blessed with two sons. The elder one is a sweet, loving and intelligent kid, who never gave me a hard time; he understood easily, listened and acted, as he was told to, and was an apple of the eyes of the whole family. I thought I was a great parent, until I gave birth to my younger son, who became my greatest parenting challenge.

There is no one way to be a perfect parent but lots of ways to be good. We just have to try to manage our emotions, while sleep deprived, and commit not to yell, stay calm and choose love and hard work. Yet, no one is ever satisfied and is always coming up with advice.

My younger son was born with a skin disease called eczema. It might not seem to be a big issue for others, but for me it proved to be a life-changing experience. He would get small, red, itchy pimples on his body. My husband and I thought it was some allergy, but it was later diagnosed as eczema. On scratching those pimples, they would turn into blisters and get infected; after medication, they would disappear, leaving a black mark on his body. Since our elder son had no had such problems, it was a major issue for us.

We took him to almost every dermatologist we heard of. We tried homeopathy, allopathic, herbal and all alternative treatments – they all worked for as long as we used the medicines; the pimples would disappear, only to reappear a few days later.

Kids at school were not friendly with him. They made fun of him and ridiculed him. Parents and all other people stared at him, as if he was some alien. They would ask him questions that he was too young to answer. All these experiences disturbed him, and he became an introvert. The marks were not on his body only but on his mind, too. He had disturbed nights – not only because of itching, but also due to behaviour of others to him. People differentiated him from the rest, and he became a special child for them.

Being only five years old, he was too young to filter, why was he treated differently. Why were others scared of him? And why was he made fun of? He became aggressive, hyper, agitated and abusive; in short, the very opposite of his elder brother. This became a great parenting challenge for me.

Along with medication, I tried to counsel him about why he was different. I tried being strict, hard, harsh and all other strategies that I read about in different articles on the net and heard about from others. I tried reasoning with him but I failed to realize that he was too young to comprehend whatever I told him. I was agitated and agonized to watch him being mocked, to witness him having sleepless nights and mood swings. Despite our explanations, nothing could take him out of the angry state that he was always in – the defiant state, where he refused to eat what was given, to go out to make friends or play, to go out wearing shorts even in the hottest weather. Nothing seemed to work. I then changed my attitude towards him and his tantrums – I made love my weapon.

I changed my regimen completely by showering him with total love – no yelling, no punishment, no shouting and no beating became my rule and… it worked. Now, his tantrums have decreased in number. And after each tantrum, he apologizes. He has become more receptive to what I say, more friendly, more energetic and less worried about what others say. The black marks are now a source of pride for him that only he has them; he now takes it as a special gift of God bestowed upon him. At five years of age, he goes to the mosque himself, without being prompted. It took a lot of patience on my, his father’s and the elder brother’s part, but now my special child is like any other normal kid.

We can’t educate others, but having had several heartfelt conversations with my husband and elder son along with my little bundle of joy, we have witnessed real change in him. The difficult moments have been an opportunity for him and me to connect better.

The ultimate parenting weapon in any relationship is love.

The love I showed him with, the love, with which I treated him and the love I gave him has brought us closer to each other – now, he faces the world with confidence. With Allah’s (swt) help and my endless love, I took care of him and healed him spiritually, mentally and physically.

Being a parent is not easy – I guess, it is the most challenging and toughest job.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Photo credit: elana's pantry / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: elana’s pantry / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Kulsum was happily preparing dinner, when her mother-in-law stepped in and said: “Why have you made this roll? Hamza had this at your mother’s place, and he detests it like anything. You should take care of his likes; and yes, don’t make lots of chicken, it is very expensive, and I don’t have money for such lavish spending!” She finally concluded with this.

Her voice trailing off, she could hardly say ‘yes’ in low tone, pushing away the tears, as she moved to put chicken back into the freezer, her eyes giving away to her downheartedness.

Kulsum was often bombarded with filthy, hurtful words and had begun to question her own worth and self-image.

Many of us have felt this way at some point in our lives – because of a spouse, a sibling, a coworker, or any other family member/ person, from whom we cannot detach; hence, we find ourselves in a fix.

Such situations are as damaging to your psychological well-being, as cholesterol is for heart patients. A negative person will hit you hard with destructive words and sarcasm, using his/her uncanny ability to push your buttons to an extent of explosion. You will find yourself devastated, irritable and in wrath of anger – often, dealing with such feelings is like chewing more than you can digest.

You are doing harm to your own self and giving more power to the person, who can control you in any way he/she pleases – by pushing your red buttons and taking advantage of your reaction.

The following tips will help you deal with stressful situations:

  • First and foremost, try to calm yourself down.
  • Secondly, it is alright to have ill-feelings about your own worth and compatibility; however, you need to tell yourself on regular basis that you are capable to deal with it, without letting such feelings enter your emotional station, alter your synapses and burn your nerve cells. No one can make you feel inferior or sad, unless you allow them to do so.
  • Make Dua for the person, who has caused you pain.
  • Stay close to Allah (swt) by engaging in frequent remembrance of Him.
  • Offer prayers regularly to sooth your nerves and to regulate your fury.
  • Consider the offender as ill and try to understand the reason behind his/her negative attitude: it might be because of any underlying complex or any childhood deprivation and/or any harsh circumstance.
  • Upon finding yourself in a stuck up situation, ponder over the Ayah, which states that Allah (swt) does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear; and feel yourself blessed, as Allah (swt) tests those, who are dear to Him, in order to increase their status.

May Allah (swt) grant all of us wisdom to turn the thrown lemons into lemonade and enjoy our lives to the fullest by pleasing Allah (swt) and obeying His commandments. We are only responsible for what we do. Allah (swt) is there to question the offenders and hold them accountable, if not here, then on the Day of Judgment, Insha’Allah.

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Taubah

perla negraWe now begin Surah At-Taubah. Since it begins with the mention of Allah’s (swt) anger and wrath, we notice that unlike other Surahs it does not begin with Bismillah. May Allah (swt) not deprive us of His mercy and forgiveness. Ameen.

Be cautious – this world deceives

Again, there is a reminder to not to get deceived by the treasures of this world such as wealth and children. He says, So let not their wealth or their children amaze you (O Muhammad (sa)); in reality Allah’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of the this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.” (At-Taubah 9:55) May Allah (swt) make our wealth and children a source of comfort for us and means for entering Jannah. May these blessings don’t pave our way to destruction. Ameen.

Beware of mocking Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)

Then there is a warning against mocking Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and His verses. The hypocrites would come in Prophet’s (sa) gathering, give their verbal acknowledgement to whatever they learnt and when they met each other in private, they would confess their disagreement. Each time that happened, Allah (swt) would reveal their true condition to Prophet (sa). Sometimes, we receive jokes about heaven and hell, the angels and other matters of the Unseen. We read them and laugh with our friends and family. Allah (swt) says, “If you ask them (about this), they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allah, and His verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger (sa) that you were mocking?” (At-Taubah 9:65)

This is not something to be taken casually; read what Allah (swt) says next about such people, “Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.)” (At-Taubah 9:66) Such a person is out of the folds of Islam. A Muslim leads a conscious life; he doesn’t get carried away by what’s happening around him. Delete such a message and reply them back with this verse. It could be that they don’t even know this verse is there in the Quran.

Heedfulness or hypocrisy?

Among the many traits of hypocrites, one is that they will not leave anyone without defaming and ridiculing him in all circumstances, even those who give away charity. If, for instance, someone gives away a large amount, the hypocrites say that he is showing off. If someone gives away a small amount, they say that Allah (swt) stands not in need of this man’s charity. Al-Awfi narrates from Ibn Abbas (ra) that one day while the Prophet (sa) was collecting charity, a man brought a Sa’ of dates (a small measure of food grains). He said, “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! This is a Sa’ of dates. I spent the night bringing water and earned two Sa’ of dates for my work. I kept one Sa’ and brought you the other Sa’.” The Prophet (sa) ordered him to add it to the charity. The hypocrites standing their commented that Allah (swt) and His Messenger are not in need of such small charity. What benefit could it bring? After that, came a rich man who wanted to give four thousand Dirhams in the way of Allah (swt). About him the hypocrites said that he gave this much amount to show off. It is the characteristic of Allah (swt) that He exposes those who lie and defame His righteous believers.

Hence this verse was revealed, “Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah’s Cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allah’s Cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers), Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.” (At-Taubah 9:79) A small or huge contribution does not matter. What matters is the person’s sincerity and that his wealth was earned from Halal means.

Sincerity in charity

Talking about sincerity, sometimes when we want something, we passionately make Dua and put a condition in it. We say, “O Allah (swt)! If such and such happens, I will be regular in my prayers,” or “I will give some particular amount in charity.” You know what is better than this? That we make ourselves punctual in our prayers and gave Sadaqah out of our willingness rather than putting a condition on it. Why treat Allah (swt) like a baby who you can trick with a candy for getting some work done? Allah (swt) says, “And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakat and voluntary charity in Allah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous. (At-Taubah 9:75). Know that if one can cheat their Maker, they can cheat anyone. May Allah (swt) forgive us and correct what is wrong within us. Ameen.

Zakat – an obligatory charity

Allah (swt) says, “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (At-Taubah 9:103) This command is about the obligatory charity that is Zakat. Zakat is a means for purification and increment of one’s wealth. Therefore, do not be stingy with your Zakat. How can we protect ourselves from the Fitnah of stinginess? By knowing that the wealth that Allah (swt) has given us is not ours to keep. He gave us this wealth so that we could spend it in His cause, helping the needy and the poor. Note that in the verse, the Prophet (sa) has been instructed to make Dua after collecting the Zakat. What does this teach us? It teaches us that when one is collecting donations or charity, he should make Dua for the well-being of donor. The Prophet (sa) prayed in the following words:


بَارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ فِيمَا أَمْسَكْتَ وَفِيمَا أَعْطَيْت

“May Allah bless you for what you kept and what you gave away.” (Ibn Katheer) Such a statement will act as a reassurance for the donors and encourage them to contribute in future as well. Insha’Allah.

Levels of believers

Now we learn about the levels of believers, Allah (swt) says, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:100) Look at their honour. We need to be very careful about what we say about the Companions and the righteous slaves of Allah (swt). We must ask Allah (swt) to bless us with the company of His righteous servants, so that we may aspire to raise our status in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

One is known by the company he keeps. It either guarantees one peace or snatches it away. However, good company promises goodness. An evil company only increases us in evilness. Reflect on your social circle. Are they bringing you closer to Allah (swt) or only distancing you further? If it’s the latter, do not be shy to break away from them or at least maintain minimal contact. Your Iman and Hereafter is more important than anything else in this fleeting world.

Diversity in Ummah

Then we learn about the diversity in Ummah, “And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).” (At-Taubah 9:122) Some people will go out to fight. Some will stay back to teach Quran and matters of religion. This is a great encouragement, especially for the women. Women sometimes feel their task is limited to raising children and managing the house. Allah (swt) has honoured women greatly with these responsibilities. The little Momins, Insha’Allah, will be tomorrow’s scholars and soldiers of Islam. By staying at home, you can focus on your association with the Quran, learn it, live by it and teach it to others. In Islam, no one’s role is insignificant. We make it trivial only by our thoughts. Change your thinking and reflect on your skills: How can I contribute in Allah’s (swt) way.

We have been talking about the certainty of tests in one’s life; in Surah At-Taubah Allah (swt) gives us reminders regarding afflictions. He says, “See they not that they are tried once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine, etc.)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” (At-Taubah 9:126)

Why does Allah’s (swt) test us?

The purpose is that a person may draw himself closer to Allah (swt). There is nothing more that Allah (swt) appreciates than a servant being engaged in Astaghfar. Astaghfar does not mean that you are a sinful person. The Prophet (sa), who was the best being ever lived on the earth, used to seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness 70 – 100 times a day.

Allah (swt) describes His Prophet (sa)

As we are talking about Muhammad (sa), let’s see how Allah (swt) describes him, “Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad (sa)) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he (sa) is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

Here we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Are we kind and merciful to one another?
  2. Do we grieve over the sufferings of one another?
  3. Are we concerned about one another?

Again we are reminded of good conduct. If others do not reciprocate kindness then say, “Hasbiya Allahula ilaha illa huwa alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa rabbu al-arshi al-atheem (Allah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.)” Surah At-Taubah ends at this Dua. These words should be part of our daily remembrance of Allah (swt).

May He open up our hearts and minds to give Him our very best. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Do I Really Love My Baby?

Vol 5 - Issue 2 The flip side of MotherhoodThe love I developed for my baby during the nine months of pregnancy quickly vanished over the long duration of sleepless nights that followed his birth.

I didn’t notice it at first, but it was becoming obvious that this is too much to handle. I was overwhelmed, scared, paranoid and crying over every little thing.

I’ve always looked at babies as innocent, harmless creatures just hanging around, crying when hungry, sleepy or wet. The truth about babies dawned on me, after I took up the mommy duty. The truth about babies became scarier, when I couldn’t differentiate between my son’s hunger and colic cues.

Helpless, anxious and frustrated, I was afraid I’m hurting my baby. I couldn’t figure out why he’s crying. I couldn’t understand, why the women were bombarding me with questions and observations such as “He’s still hungry. Didn’t you feed him?” “You don’t know how to nurse him.” “If you don’t have enough milk, give him a bottle, he’s not taking the bottle, is he gassy, or is he sleepy?” “His diaper is full, when did you change him last?” I’m asking myself these same questions, I don’t know myself. So please just stop.

I was restless inside. I couldn’t sleep due to the fear that he might wake up soon and disturb my slumber anyway. I wanted to scream. I did many times. I pulled my hair, smacked my head and cried a lot. “I just want to sleep! Please, I just want to sleep!” I fought with my husband. I fought about everything existent and non-existent.

I told them I might be suffering from post-partum blues. Nobody believed me. It sounded too dramatic and “western”. I knew my hormonal fussiness reduced after twelve days. But I was still hormonal and crazy, just not as much as the first two weeks after delivery.

In this chaos, I had begun to un-love my son. Yes, I changed him, rocked him to sleep, nursed him and walked with him – did everything else I had to do. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t love him… I tried to find the emotion within myself, I really did.

It was like being in a perfect relationship for nine months and then going through a rough breakup. I wanted to patch things up, but I couldn’t forgive him for the sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. Don’t even ask me, what went through my head regarding my husband and everyone else at home.

In this chaos, I had begun to un-love my son. Yes, I changed him, rocked him to sleep, nursed him and walked with him – did everything else I had to do. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t love him…

I seriously considered packing my bags and leaving with my son. I don’t need anyone! I can do this on my own, without people accusing me of having insufficient milk and lacking diaper changing skills.

But I stayed. I’m glad I did now. It’s been seven months and those sleepless nights seem so far away. But I shudder every time I think of it. He still wakes up during the night, but its okay, because he falls asleep quickly. These nights are better than the ones at the start. I get his cues now. I know what he likes and dislikes. I know what to do most of the time.

Sometimes I catch him looking at me, simply staring at my face. And then he smiles. It’s like he’s checking, if I’m still there and then telling me how much he loves me, too.

I enjoy preparing his food, even on days when I’m totally not in the mood. But I push myself to do it, because I want him to eat healthy, homemade baby food. I don’t want to give in to the packed foods. I know it’s easy, and I’m sure it’s not harmful. But I still can’t get around to introducing foods to my child that were cooked and packed months ago.

He’s the first one; you always do it for the first child, people tell me. Oh really? Are you telling me that you love your first kid more than the others? Okay fine, love is debatable, but the concern regarding their health and diet would always be crucial, wouldn’t it? At least for me it is and would stay the same. My mom had four kids; she fed us all homemade food. She didn’t cook up special pureed meals just for me, because I’m the first child, and then relaxed with my three pesky brothers, who came along later. So, please, don’t tell me about the first kid thing, because it’s not true.

I’m hygiene crazy; I wash his toys, rinse his bowl and spoon with boiled water before putting in food. I clip his nails, oil his hair and moisturize his skin after baths and before bed. We have a routine now, and most of the time it works. I have time to shower now, use the loo and even brush my hair! I also have time for naps, workout and meals.

This too shall pass is what I kept reading online during my mental frenzy. And, Alhamdulillah, I’m so grateful to Allah (swt) that I’ve made it this far. I know there’s more to the package. Teething is around the corner. Then there’s the constant fear that my son will put something harmful in his mouth, nose or ear. He might fall and bump his head, if he tries sitting up, when I’m not looking. I fear my niece might trip on him, sneeze, cough or maybe sit on him like she’s almost done thrice already. I’m afraid she’ll want to share her snacks of sliced cheese with him or maybe her gummy bears or chips!

I’m always afraid. But then I calm myself down. In my heart, I say a little prayer. I ask Allah (swt) to look out for my son, when I’m not looking or when I’m unaware of things that can potentially harm him. I remind myself that I can’t prevent accidents that are meant to be. Like the time he rolled with his walker outside the kitchen door and down onto the garage floor. The incident unravelled within seconds. There were three people around, yet nobody noticed he was speeding out the door. I was there too. This was last week. The scene is fresh in my mind, and it will always be.

I’m always afraid. But then I calm myself down. In my heart, I say a little prayer. I ask Allah (swt) to look out for my son

So am I finally in love with Abdullah? Is this constant concern evidence of my love for him? Or is it just a fear? Is it both? I think it’s both. You are always afraid for the one you love to be harmed. It was easy to love him, when he was inside the safe, protected home in my womb. But now there are all these external things to worry about.

Like, will he be a loser at school? Will the other kids like him? Will he study well? Am I feeding him well, am I not feeding him enough? Will he love me, will he disrespect me?Will he pray, will he willingly read and love the Quran? Will he hold his dad’s hand and walk to the Masjid for Salah? And then I say a little prayer inside. A prayer my Dad taught me, when I first told him I’m expecting. A prayer he prayed for all his children before and after their births. Ya Allah (swt) make my child healthy, wise and beautiful. (Sehatmand, Hakeem aur Khoobsurat in Urdu)

May Allah (swt) guide my son, my husband, me and the rest of the family onto the Straight Path. May Allah (swt) guide you and your families, too. May Allah (swt) bless us all. Ameen

Till next time, happy parenting!

Manage With Patience

Patience plan aheadIt was 6:15 a.m. Sobia woke up with the buzz of her alarm. She woke up in an instant as it was already late for Fajr prayer. She hurriedly rushed into the bathroom and performed ablution. She prayed and after that she quickly woke up her kids for school and made their breakfast. Then she got busy with her daily household activities. This sounds simple but not for Sobia. She could not manage all her tasks at the same time. She got angry and frustrated at times. She was not able to manage her level of patience. For those who are short tempered or get aggravated over the workload, be it at home or anywhere, you can maintain your patience level by following the few practical ways mentioned below Insha’Allah:

1. List your routine (make a things-to-do list)

Grab a paper and pen and jot down all the tasks you have for the day. In this way you can cross out the ones that are done. This will give you a clear cut idea what sorts of tasks you have. You can also prioritize your list depending on what you need to do first. Remember not to procrastinate. Once the list is done start moving on with the tasks required earlier. This will save you from the havoc of workload, and you will feel relaxed once all your jobs are divided for the day.

2. Learn to manage time

Manage your time according to your duties assigned. Think about what would require less time and which one of your jobs is time consuming. Dividing your time wisely will save you from haphazard situations and you won’t feel guilty later. Time management is the basic element. It saves you from chaotic situations.

3. Stick to your time-table

Try to stick to your time-table. Do not hesitate to relax. Take some time out for yourself also. If you are fresh and relaxed then you can manage chores efficiently. Keep this running in your head that you will enjoy after all the stuff is done. So, get started and take a deep breath.

4. Family time

No matter how busy you may be, you ought to take out time for your family. You can always share your difficulties with your elders and they are likely to give you a wise advice as they know the phase you are going through. So never forget to take a few moments out of your busy schedule and take Dua of your elders.

5. Sit back and relax

Take a preview of your day or week. Think of all the chores that have been accomplished. Feel proud of that. Appreciate yourself. Share your victory with your family or a close friend. Think of your mistakes and weaknesses. Assess it and relax for you accomplished your desired tasks.

Protract patience and live your life peacefully. May Allah (swt) give Barakah in our time and guide us to use it wisely. Ameen!

Ask the Savvy Parent: Positively Handle a Child’s Negative Emotions

muslim-motherMy 5-year-old son is a bit hyperactive. He can’t wait to get something done. He shouts and screams most of the time. He gets angry very quickly. Now, he’s fighting with the younger one too. When he plays with the other children, he is happy; but he can’t tolerate even small arguments. On the other hand, he is a fast learner, interested in learning new things, hearing stories, asking questions, and is also very sensitive. His teachers also say he is naughty but excellent in academics.

He loves books – the only way to keep him sit silently is with books but it is not possible always.

About me, I really enjoy teaching new things to him and clearing all his doubts scientifically. Also, I tell stories whenever he asks. I used to advice him according to Quran and Sunnah. I love him soooo much but the problem comes when he starts irritating me for silly things: crying and crying. I lose my control; then he starts to apologize. He says sorry and starts crying again; then I also feel sad. This happens daily 2-3 times.

I need your help very badly.

Dear Parent,
It sounds like you have a wonderful, active and bright child who just needs a little help with dealing with his emotions, Insha’Allah.

Losses and disappointments can feel like the end of the world to a child, and kids will do anything to fend off these intolerable feelings. So they cry and rage and lash out.

Many parents may be tempted to send an angry child to his or her room to ‘calm down’. It’s important to remember that we can’t reason with them when they are furious. It’s not the right time to teach lessons or ask for an apology. He needs to calm down. Remember tantrums are nature’s way of helping children let off steam. Their brains are still developing and they don’t yet have the neural pathways to control themselves as we do. (And please note that we don’t always regulate our anger very well, even as adults!)

Some parents, not knowing what to do or how to deal with their children, send the child to his or her room. The problem with this is that he will calm down eventually but unfortunately he will also learn that his anger is unacceptable, and that he is on his own when it comes to managing his feelings. No wonder so many adults develop anger-management issues, whether it is yelling at kids, arguing with the spouse, or overreacting to avoid acknowledging angry feelings.

Here are some simple tips and things to remember and will help your child manage his anger.
If kids feel safe expressing their anger, and we meet that anger with compassion, their anger will begin to melt. That’s when they can access the more upsetting feelings underneath:

1.      Take a Deep Breath. If your child is angry, it is even more imperative that you stay calm. If you are one of those people who get angry yourself, take a few deep breaths to calm down before attending to your child. Not only are you modeling emotion regulation, but by remaining calm he too will become calm. I have even taught children to take a deep breath and count to 10 when they feel angry. Counting gives them something else to focus on while their heart rate settles down.

2.      Set limits on actions not feelings. For example: “You’re so angry! You wish you could get what you want right now. I’m so sorry, but you can’t have that. You can be as mad as you want, but hitting is not OK, no matter how upset you are. You can pout or stamp your feet to show how mad you are, but you may not hit”.

It is also important for your son to understand that what is acceptable behaviour for him may not be the same as for his younger sibling.

3.      Empathize. Don’t try to reason or explain. When his emotions and adrenaline is high, it is not the time to explain why he can’t have what he wants. Acknowledge the fact that he is upset and reassure him that you will talk to him when he has calmed down.

 For example: “You really wanted that; I’m so sorry.” or “I’m so sorry you can’t have the _____ you want. I know this is so hard.”

Once you recognize the feelings under the anger, he will probably pause and get calmer. When you empathize and understand his anger, he collapses into your arms for a good cry. And all those upset feelings just evaporate.

Gradually, your child will internalize the ability to deal with disappointments, and learn that while he can’t always get what he wants, he can always get what he needs: someone who loves him, all of him, even including the unpleasant parts like rage and disappointment. You’ll have taught him how to manage his emotions. He’ll be more resilient over time. And you’ll have strengthened your relationship with him. Remember, you won’t always be able to pull it off. But every time you do, you’ll be one step closer to helping him handle his emotion.

Now about the other part about him bothering you for small things and needing you to be with him and keep him busy. Find activities that he can do independently on his own. Sometimes the problem arises because children don’t know what to do with themselves and look to the parent or another adult to help relieve their “boredom”. As parents, it’s important to spend time with your children but at the same time, children need to understand that you may be busy or need time for yourself and aren’t always able to keep them engaged in activities.

If your son loves books and being read to, designate a time during the day for book reading. If he wants you to play with him, set a time in the day for that too. As you have two children make sure you set times to spend with your other child too. Create a schedule and hang it up

Have a go-to basket with activities that he can go to when he doesn’t know what to do. Another option would be to have a “Busy Box”. Sit together with your child and come up with activities that he likes to do and most importantly can do without you. Write each idea on a strip of paper, fold it so that what is written cannot be seen and place it in the box. When the time arises that he’s unsure what to do and comes to you, direct him to “The Busy Box”. This helps him figure out what to do and at the same time frees you from the responsibility of entertaining him.

Insha’Allah, I hope this helps.

Happy parenting!

The Savvy Parent

Coolness of the Eyes – What Does it Mean?

cool-water-wallpaperThere’s a powerful expression in the Quran. It’s captured in two words. Those two words are “Qurrata A’yun” meaning “Coolness of the eyes.” It is mentioned in a number of occasions and it is also found in ahadeeth of the Messenger (sa).

Before I tell you how it is used in the sacred text, I want to tell you how the ancient Arabs used this figure of speech. We can’t really understand it literally as it means something beyond that.

the Arabs had two figures of speech. One is the “eyes becoming cool” and the other is “eyes becoming warm.”

The first thing I would like you to know is that the Arabs had two figures of speech. One is the “eyes becoming cool” and the other is “eyes becoming warm.” When somebody is shedding tears of sorrow, he is suffering from the worst kind of fate. He is in deep depression, sadness and calamity. If an Arab would look at him, he would say that his eyes have become warm.

One of the worst curses in the ancient Arabic language was: “May Allah make his eyes warm,” which means may he suffer the worst kinds of sorrows in his life.

The exact opposite of this expression is what? The eyes becoming cool. For your sorrows… for your sadness… for your pains to be removed completely and for you to feel peace, tranquillity and joy like nothing else.

I’ll give you a simple example of coolness and warmth of the eyes. Imagine you’re at the airport and there are two pairs – each of a mother and son. One mother is saying farewell to her son as he is flying off somewhere. And the other mother is greeting her son who flew in from somewhere. Both the mothers are crying. But for one the eyes are cool. And for the other the eyes are warm. One is shedding tears of joy as she sees her son after many years; her eyes are becoming cool. But the other is letting go of her son. This is what? The eyes becoming warm. I hope you understand the difference.

A few pieces of context before I go further.

A poet, who was also an assassin in Arabia, said that the eyes of my tribe will remain warm. He was waiting on a sand dune, waiting to kill the tribe leader that had offended his tribe. He made poetry in the meantime (I guess he had got a lot of time). Anyway, he said: “My tribe’s eyes will remain warm…until my dagger isn’t warm with his blood.” In other words, when I kill this guy, only then my tribe’s eyes will become cool. The rage, the frustration, and the humiliation that they felt would only disappear upon this guy’s death. “That’s what I’m here to do, to cool the eyes of my tribe.” So it was a means of relieving frustration, anger and ill-feelings. This is the context in which it is used.

in literature we find the precedent of the “eyes becoming cool” equated with “finding refuge from a storm.”

I want to share a final yet beautiful context in Arabic literature where this expression is found. The Arabs used to travel in the desert and there they would experience sandstorms. And in a sandstorm, the Arab used to wrap his face up because obviously your face is being pounded with sand. That Arab was riding on a camel. Subhan’Allah, Allah (swt) has created the camel in a magnificent fashion. The eyelids of the camel actually trap sand and drop them. It doesn’t even have to blink. It’s got a screen in front of his eyes that captures sand and drops it. We don’t have that ‘screen system’ in our eyes. But the camel does. Now the rider couldn’t afford to cover his eyes… could he? Because if he covered his eyes, he wouldn’t know where he was going! He had to keep his eyes exposed and so finally he found a cave; he found some refuge and he said interestingly, “My eyes have finally become cool.”

In other words, in literature we find the precedent of the “eyes becoming cool” equated with “finding refuge from a storm.”

Original transcription courtesy; edited by hiba’s team with permission.

Dear Savvy Parent – Jekyll and Hyde

handprintDear Savvy Parent,

I have two questions:
1. At times, it seems my son has two personalities: a well-behaved one (in front of his father) and the typical toddler behaviour (in front of me and any female relatives). Is this normal?
2. He behaves fairly well at home, but at grandparents’ and in public (when his father is not there), he constantly pushes the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. It almost seems he wants to check how far he can go before I snap… Again, is it normal for boys his age?


Dear Parent,

It is very common for young children to behave differently at home from when away from parents or away from the home. Do not worry that your child has a case of the “Jekyll and Hyde” behaviour, it is normal and I’m sure many other parents can attest to this.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the worst behaviour that is saved for parents and generally it tends to be the mothers that get the brunt of it.

How does one deal with this?

First of all find a strategy to deal with your anger. Ask yourself, what is your breaking point and how can you prevent yourself from reaching it? Figure out what works for you. For example, take a few slow breaths while reciting some tasbih quietly to yourself when you start to feel yourself getting angry.

When a child insists on something or is unwilling to comply with your wishes, it can be tempting to give in, especially if it means avoiding a tantrum, but all children need boundaries, and the best thing you can do to encourage positive behaviour when your child acts up around you is to be vigilant about setting and enforcing boundaries. Do not get into a power struggle with your child. Generally, in the case of a power struggle, parents feel that their power is being tested and challenged by the child.

The more the parent tries to exert power, the easier it is for the child to win simply by saying “no” or making some excuse and then the focus becomes more about who’s in charge rather than the misbehaviour itself. I am sure many parents out there have found themselves in this exact situation. Remember whatever is going on, whatever your child is doing, losing your temper won’t help. It may feel good or like it’s working in the short term, because you have enforced your parental authority and power, but in the long run the child has learned an ineffective lesson about managing conflict. Ask yourself, “How can I best handle that situation and how can I make this work without fighting?” You’ll have a much better chance of resolving this situation effectively.

Your child is old enough and I’m sure has a pretty good handle on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour, hence the button pushing and testing of boundaries. Again, yes, it is all very normal.

Next, lay the ground rules. Remain firm and consistent; set clear and most importantly FAIR consequences for unacceptable behaviour. For example, if your child doesn’t clean up his toys, then you take those toys away (set a reasonable time limit, such as 2 days). Another example would be, if your child has a nasty attitude around family members, you will send him away to another room (for example). If he can’t be nice to others, he must be alone. Before going out or visiting grandparents, discuss what is expected from him before hand. When deciding on a consequence, avoid situations that put your child in control of others, such as: “We can all go get ice cream after you clean up your toys.” This allows your child to control all family members and does not put any real consequences in place for their behaviour. It will only exacerbate their passive aggressive behaviour.

Lastly, remember the intent of consequences. They should not be to punish your child for the sake of punishment. Consequences should be logical and a form of discipline that parents should use to teach their child a lesson. So when you remove and reinstate privileges, in a calm manner be sure to explain to your child why/how he misbehaved and what you expect of him next time.

Make sure both you and your husband (and any other family members you may be living with) are on the same page with regards to unacceptable behaviour and it consequences. Consistency is the key!

Insha’Allah, I hope this helps. Happy Parenting!!

The Savvy Parent

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Being a Proactive parent


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Anger Shrugged

Vol 4-Issue 1 Anger Management

A recent incident was all over the media, featuring anti-Islam ads that were posted all over the NY city subway system (trains and stations). How did Muslims counter it? One Muslim spray painted over ONE ad, which caused considerable publicity and awareness. A consortium of rabbis and priests paid for ‘love Muslims’ ads, which caused controversy and awareness. But, there was no collective move to inform, educate, and enlighten the masses that originated from Muslims themselves – inaction was our consensus and resulted in unaware masses.

Writes Ziauddin Sardar in The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought: “At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the Muslim world finds itself in a state of total helplessness and uncertainty, marginalized, suppressed, angry, and frustrated. While a great deal has changed in the last hundred years, little has changed in terms of power politics. …the condition of the Muslim people – the ummah – its subjugation by the West, poverty and dependence, engendered a mood of despondency… most Muslim countries had gained their independence only to discover, after a couple of decades of development and Westernization, that economically and politically they were still the subjects of the West.”

Herein lies our problem, when we feel anger that is misdirected and helplessness. Surah Anfal tells us:

“That is so because Allah (swt) will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. And verily, Allah (swt) is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Al-Anfal 8:53)

We need to primarily accept Islam as our Deen (our way of life), not just our religion.

Learned Helplessness occurs when someone is repeatedly subjected to an aversive stimulus and cannot escape. Eventually, the person will stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if she is utterly helpless to change the situation. Even when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness will prevent any action.[2] The anger we feel is due to the injustice we see around us. We feel it isn’t fair. How to deal with it successfully? To be those who Allah (swt) says will be among the Muflihoon (those who achieve success).

  1. Accept that only Allah (swt) can change people. We should put our energy into praying for the victims and asking Allah (swt) to guide the offender toward Islam. Surah Nur says: “Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he (Messenger Muhammad) is only responsible for the duty placed on him (i.e. to convey Allah’s message) and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to convey (the message) in a clear way (i.e. to preach in a plain way).” (An-Nur 24:54) Our duty is to convey the message, and enjoin good and forbid evil. We cannot and should not strive to do anything beyond what Allah (swt) has ordained for us. It is only when we mistakenly feel we can change the world, that we feel anger and helplessness.
  2. Misdirected self-sympathy causes us to feel we are helpless. The attitude, “what can one person do/how long will this take?” is not acceptable. Remember, little drops make the mighty ocean. Take charge! Do what you can to make people aware of the situation. Write and blog; speak on the radio; hold gatherings in your house; change your Facebook status, or compose a tweet. Whatever it takes, get others aware and care. “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” (Ale-Imran 3:104)
  3. Enlighten and educate yourself and others. Understand the situation. How does it affect Islam and what appropriate action needs to be taken? The Prophet (sa) has guided us in the following Hadeeth: On the authority of Abu Saeed (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever sees something evil should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then (he should do so) with his tongue. If he cannot do even that, then (he should do so) in his heart. That is the weakest degree of faith.” (Muslim) Decide if you can only inform other people (write to the newspaper/blog, get it on the electronic media, etc…), get a group together and take action (organize a protest, give a Dars, etc…) or change policies (get the law revised, appeal to the court etc…). Do not just say what is wrong but offer a solution based on Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence).
  4. Lay the blame where it is due: Do not confuse blame and responsibility. For example when the infamous cartoons were published, Muslims blamed the West. Focus on who is really to blame, the newspaper for publishing it, the Danish government, the press in Denmark? Who? Narrow it down, pinpoint and then concentrate your efforts toward that direction.
  5. Angry Muslims! Abu Hurayrah relates that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Counsel me.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request many times, but the Prophet (sa) kept saying: “Do not get angry.” (Bukhari) If you’ve played Angry Birds on your smart phone you know exactly what anger does. According to “How painfully ironic, that after the Danish cartoon controversy we once again chose to answer the ignorance, anger and hatred of others with even greater bouts of our own hatred and anger.” In the process we destroyed private property, laid waste the country’s economy for days and proved that we truly are the ignorant backward people we are painted as being. Islam tells us to be patient, calm and use logic to prove our point. Blind rage will get you nowhere; it will only serve to amuse the enemy. Exercise forbearance, follow Sunnah – the Prophet (sa) never reacted as he was always proactive.
  6. Learn from the past, and work in the present for the future. Past Muslim glory 500 years ago means nothing to the present superpowers. We need to study it to learn lessons where we went wrong and not make the same mistakes again. Do not use it as nostalgia and live in the past. And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.” (Al-Anfal 8:60) Be ready, and also be educated, enlightened, persuasive, technologically capable and effective.

Anger and helplessness are two emotions that we must bring under our control, not vice versa. Be smart and live well. Ameen.

Anger Management

Vol 4-Issue 1 Anger ManagementAnger has been termed as a strong feeling caused by extreme displeasure. It is a natural response to a particular circumstance. However, a pertinent question here is – can it be avoided? More significantly, can it be controlled? And if not, how detrimental can the consequences of a blind rage be?

Dr. Mamdouh N. Mohammad, an educational consultant and acting director of American Open University, reasons: “Situations that cause anger are not always avoidable; anger can and should be controlled. When anger becomes a habit without efforts to control it, a person will face great difficulty in building quality interpersonal relationships.”

A rapidly intolerant and self-centered culture is growing around us, where at times anger is even justified for making personal gains. Seldom people appreciate the need to defuse a potentially volatile situation and rather feel triumphant in a showdown, no matter how ugly it may turn out to be.

Islam, with all its wisdom and efforts to maintain peace and order in the society, has presented remarkable and doable strategies for controlling our negative emotions. This is simply called ‘anger management.’ Following are some workable solutions for those, who have the courage to break this bad habit and live a less stressful life.

Sensing of one’s moods

Quite often, in the midst of a heated argument, a person’s muscles begin to tense and pulse increases rapidly. Some people even become out of breath, and their voices raise. These are all signs of a temper simmering within.

The Prophet (sa) has advised us to pay close attention to these signs: “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the son of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and redness of his eyes?” (At-Tirmidhi)

Changing of circumstances

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also emphasized the relaxing of one’s muscles. Abu Tharr (rta) narrates the Prophet’s (sa) suggestion: “The Apostle of Allah (sa) said to us: ‘When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise, he should lie down.’” (Abu Dawood)

The idea is simple – the person must change the circumstances, under which he first became angry. His altered position will assist him in relaxing of his tense muscles. Also, getting up and washing one’s face helps. Atiyyah narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution (Wudhu).” (Abu Dawood)

Assessing potential settings

One of the best ways for a person to control his anger is to become more aware of his personal habits. Ask yourself: “What ticks me?” Every person is prone to irritation. If possible, replay the number of times you have lost your temper and examine, what was the launching pad? Most people do not make the effort to understand the kinds of settings or situations that lead them to their blind fury. Once this is identified, precautions can be taken to avoid them.

Beware of the snowballing effect

Another important element in controlling anger is not to allow frustrations to build up. Many individuals agree that they keep suppressing anger, until it gets too much to keep within and they blow up. Hence, all their initial efforts prove futile.

The solution is to take an inventory of one’s feelings occasionally. If an irritant has caused in you some sort of negativity, immediately try to disengage with it. Reciting ‘Aoudo Billahi Mina Shaiytan Ni Rajim,’ offering Salah, diverting one’s mind to some other chore, and complaining to Allah (swt) help. Yes, literally pour your poison out in front of Allah (swt), before you end up inflicting self-damage.

Avoiding the bait

At times, one is unconsciously pulled into a whirlpool by no fault of his own. There are such individuals around us, who seek pleasure by provoking us, especially if they are aware of the bait we get hooked to. We consciously have to practice avoiding those baits.

Once, a Jewish man greeted the Prophet (sa) by saying: “Death be upon you.” He used the Arabic word ‘Sâm’, meaning ‘death’, in a parody of the Islamic greeting for peace, which is the word ‘Salâm’. Though the Prophet (sa) knew exactly, what the man had said: he paid it no heed and gently replied: “And upon you.” He did so without repeating the misused word ‘Sâm’ and behaved, as if he had not noticed it.

However, Aisha (rta), who had also heard what the man really said: immediately retorted: “And death be upon you and a curse as well!” The Prophet (sa) said: “Take it easy, Aisha. Allah loves kindness in everything.” Aisha (rta) complained to the Prophet (sa) saying: “Didn’t you hear what he said?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Did you not hear my reply? I responded to his offensive supplication. My supplication will be answered by Allah, while his supplication against me will not be answered.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Remembering Allah’s (swt) and His Apostle’s (sa) pleasure

Abdullah ibn Umar (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “No one has swallowed back anything more excellent in the sight of Allah, Who is Great and Glorious, than anger he restrains, seeking to please Allah most high.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

On another occasion, Saeed Al Khudri narrated: “The Prophet (sa) mentioned anger saying: ‘Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those, who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those, who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.’” (Tirmidhi)

We also have a responsibility to take care of our health and well-being. Studies have shown that anger is linked to stroke, high levels of cholesterol, and coronary heart diseases; therefore, we must manage our anger in a healthy manner for our own sake.

As for disposition towards others, our choices in reaction to different situations significantly decide the ambience of our home, the culture of our organization, and our overall image as a person. Most certainly, nobody wants to be identified as a grouch on the brink of a sudden eruption. Also, by such unpredictable mood swings we tend to lose respect and drive away the people we love and care about. Consequently, even if we are a well-meaning individual, because of our volatile temperament nobody understands our true sentiments.

Anger is never a wise choice for expression. Next time you are tempted to resort to anger, stop and think for a while. There is always a more effective means of communication or even protest. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength to ignore Shaitan’s whispers. Ameen.

Attitudes followed by anger


Benjamin Franklin once said: “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” Undoubtedly, regret is one of the most common emotions people feel after an angry outburst. But, unfortunately, it does not mend the damage of the initial angry episode. Anger causes serious implications, such as broken relationships, physical abuse, divorce, loss of respect, and even murder.

Regret is only worthwhile, if earlier mistakes are not repeated. But if it is a common occurrence after every fight with no improvement, then it is of no value.


For some individuals anger is a way of life. It is their language to communicate and their means of getting by. Unfortunately, they don’t even acknowledge anything to be wrong. In fact, they feel proud of themselves, if they are able to abuse others, put people down, or throw in a few punches to get their way.

This is the most dangerous of all attitudes – the sense of right and wrong gets displaced. Just as Satan challenged Allah (swt): “I am better than Adam.” Such individuals justify their position and feel no need to change themselves.

For such individuals, sincere and earnest Dua (prayer) is the only solution, so that their hearts soften and take heed of guidance by Allah’s (swt) will.


Once a man was harshly abusing another man, who was gently trying to handle the situation. The abuser went on till his heart’s content and finally walked away. A third man being the spectator of this brawl came to the gentle man and asked him quizzically: “You were behaving like a gentleman with that foul mouthed person. Why didn’t you get even with him?” The gentle man smiled and answered: “I was treating him the way I am. I didn’t want to be pulled down to his level. Instead, I thought of bringing him up to my own.”

Sadly, such grace is not witnessed often today, except among people of high Iman (faith), who can elevate themselves above the momentary madness. They have the courage to put a reign on their tempers and tongues.


Uzma Rizvi, a Hiba writer, in her research found that Dr. Tony Fiore in “Three Tips to Forgiveness: A Key Factor in Anger Management” tells of a 1996 study, which showed that the more people forgave those who hurt them, the less angry they were. He talks about two studies of divorced people, in which the forgivers of former spouses lived on with a “higher sense of well-being and lower anxiety and depression.”

Allah (swt) states recommended qualities of pious individuals: “And those who avoid the greater sins, and Al-Fawahish (illegal sexual intercourse), and when they are angry, forgive.” (Ash-Shura 42:37)

Indeed, to forgive is divine, but as someone rightly said: “Every successful and content individual has a huge graveyard, where he buries the mistakes of people he knows and not knows.”

Anger for Allah (swt)

our role modelAt a time when conflict, distress, and war are rampant, Muslims are facing persecution. As Fitan descend one after another, we, as Muslims, desperately need to mould our reactions to deliberate provocations, according to the lofty moral conduct exemplified by our Prophet Muhammad (sa). At one extreme, we react to traumatic events by abusing, insulting, and threatening to kill the enemies of Islam; on the other end, we befriend some prejudiced non-Muslims so whole-heartedly that we don’t feel anything, when they degrade Islam.

How do we direct our anger to ensure that it lies within the boundaries of ‘anger for the sake of Allah (swt)?’ How do we know, when it is praiseworthy to remain silent and forgive our enemy, and when it is commendable to react with appropriate emotions and words of Naseehah?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) is well-known for practicing self-control when angry. He expressed his fury at the most by a change in facial expression: his cheeks would turn red, and he would become silent. In some cases, he would make a statement of mild or stern rebuke, in order to correct serious errors made by his companions. The term ‘personal revenge’ never existed in his vocabulary.

How and when the Prophet Muhammad (sa) expressed his anger is best described by Aisha (rta): “Allah’s Messenger never once struck anyone with his hand – not a servant of his nor a woman – except when he was fighting in war. He would never seek to punish anyone for their abuses, except when one of Allah’s prohibitions had been transgressed; then, he would do so only for Allah’s sake.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and Ibn Majah)

One of his duties as a Prophet, however, was to ensure that Allah’s (swt) laws and Hudood (restrictions) were not violated. Hence, errors by Muslims in implementing Deen were immediately corrected. Because of this, Allah’s Messenger (sa) expressed his anger on certain occasions. The following Ahadeeth illustrate this point.

Zayd ibn Thabit (rta) reports: “The Prophet chose a place, where he went out at night to pray. Some men saw him doing that, and they prayed with him. They came every night to do that. One night, the Prophet did not come out to join them. They started to make some noises like little coughs, raised their voices, and even threw pebbles at his door. He came out to them in a state of anger and said: “Look, you people! You continued doing what you did, until I thought it might be made obligatory for you. Pray in your own home, because the best prayer a person can offer is the one he offers at home, except for the obligatory prayers.” (Bukhari, Abu Dawood, and An-Nasai)

Once, the Prophet (sa) found his companions disputing with each other over the issue of the divine decree (Qadr). The Prophet’s (sa) face became furious, and he said: “Was this what you were ordered to do? Is this what you have been created for? To toss the verses of the Quran around like that? This is how the nations before you fell to their ruin.” (Ibn Majah)

Another action that angered the Prophet (sa) was when people asked him too many questions. Zayd ibn Khalid (rta) reports: “A man asked the Prophet (sa) about what one should do with what one might find in the street. The Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Publicize it for a year, and then make sure to know its description and spend it. Should its owner come up, give it back to him.’ The man said: ‘What about a lost sheep?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘It belongs to you, your brother or the wolf.’ The man further asked: ‘What about a lost camel?’ The Prophet’s (sa) face was reddened with anger at this question, and then he said to the man: ‘What do you want with it? It has its own hoofs and drink, until its owner finds it.’” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah)

There were some incidents in the Prophet’s (sa) life that made him angry even with his dearest companions.

The Sahihain report a Hadeeth, in which Usama Bin Zayd (rta), a beloved companion of the Prophet (sa), tried to intercede on behalf of a Quraishi woman convicted of theft. On hearing Usama (rta) speak for her, the Prophet (sa) became angry, and his face changed color. He replied: “Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allah (swt)?” He further said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, was to steal, I would cut off her hand.” Then, he ordered the hand of the woman, who had stolen, to be cut off.

Muslim narrates a Hadeeth about Muadh Bin Jabal (rta) lengthening the Isha prayer so much that a man left the congregation and reported the incident to the Prophet (sa), who rebuked Muadh (rta) by saying: “Muadh, do you want to become a Fattaan (person putting people to trial)?” He then instructed him to recite just the shorter Surahs in the night prayer.

A narration in the Sahihain reports, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) once became angry at two of his young wives, Hafsa and Aisha (rta), when he entrusted one of them with a secret taking her into strict confidence, but she disclosed it to the other against his wishes. Vowing to stay away from them both for a month, he moved to an upper room in silent fury. As his wives cried in repentance, Allah (swt) revealed Quranic verses censuring them for having angered him.

Al-Darimi has a narration about Umar (rta) bringing the Torah before the Prophet (sa) and reading from it. The Prophet’s (sa) face changed color as he became angry, until Umar (rta) stopped. The Prophet (sa) then said: “By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moosa were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if Moosa were alive, and he found my prophetical ministry, even he would have definitely followed me.”

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) entered upon me, while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he took hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. He said: ‘Such people, who paint these pictures, will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Bukhari)

We can see, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) became angry, when Muslims exceeded limits of moderation in worship, disputed with each other about Deen, asked too many questions, referred to other sources besides the Quran, or inclined towards neglecting the restrictions ordained by Allah (swt). He expressed his anger, however, with constrained emotions and carefully-chosen but effective words of reprimand. That’s how we should also try to mould our fury: to be ignited only for Allah (swt), and expressed just as His Messenger (sa) did.

“The strong man is not the one, who can throw another down. The strong man is the one, who can control himself, when he is angry.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Just how Harmful is Anger to one’s Health?

By Uzma Jawed

It’s extremely hot, the car’s air-condition isn’t working, and you are stuck in traffic. The traffic slowly starts moving, but for some reason the car in front of you doesn’t. You slowly feel the tension build up, and you start honking and screaming at the car in front of you. Later, when you walk across a busy street, someone bumps into you accidentally, and you start screaming and pushing that person.

We all face situations like this. Everyone feels angry at times due to life stresses, such as financial problems, marital problems, health problems, etc. For some, if anger occurs too frequently, lasts too long or intensifies, it can affect them physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically.

Anger is a powerful emotion, and a myriad of research shows that it can have disparaging results on human health. It can impair our cardiovascular system, have an impact on our immune system, brain, weight, and even cause skin and hair problems.

Cardiovascular system

In his book “Forgive for Good,” Dr. Frederic Luskin says that certain enzymes are released during anger and stress, which causes cholesterol and blood pressure levels to go up. Sue Meyers, a family sociologist, explains in her article that anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This causes the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain then diverts the blood away from the gut towards the major muscle groups. This causes heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration to increase. Furthermore, at times of anger, pulse rate rises above its normal level leading to higher blood pressure in the arteries, hence, causing a greater chance of a heart attack.

An article called “Anger is Hostile to Your Heart,” published in the Harvard Gazette, further proved that irritable old men had three times the risk of heart disease than their more steady peers. Moreover, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine suggested that anger and hostility can provoke the creation of inflammatory proteins, which may, in turn, cause the hardening of the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke.

Scientists of the John Hopkins University at Baltimore have also found that short-tempered men have a higher risk of heart attack, even if there is no family history of health problem.

Immune system

Our immune system also becomes more vulnerable at times of stress, since the rush of cortisol overpowers the white blood cells and makes them less responsive to pathogens, hence, increasing chances of bacterial and viral infections. Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine state that chronic stress delays wound healing from 24% to 40%.


When cortisol and insulin escalate during periods of stress, so does our desire for food. We crave more carbohydrates and sugary foods, as they temporarily reduce the stress levels. As the levels of cortisol remain high even when stress levels go down, we tend to keep eating, even if we are not hungry. As a result – we get fat.

Skin / Hair

The article “Distress Signals” in the Weekend also mentions that anger and stress can release hormones that fuel the overproduction of the sebaceous gland. This can result in hair loss as well as dull and lifeless hair. The oiliness produced by these glands can also block pores, hence, causing pimples and acne.

Psychological symptoms

Some psychological and behavioral symptoms that have also been correlated to anger include: panic attacks, reactive depression, confusion, tearfulness, irritability, and obsession. These are the results of an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hence, if a person does not identify the root of his anger for controlling or redirecting it, he can cause great damage to himself and others around him.

Medicine for Anger

Avoid being too sensitive to provocation. Divert yourself.

“Speak, when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This quote by Ambrose Bierce shows us the advantages of controlling our anger and temper, and redirecting our mind from upsetting feelings. In this way, we can have peace of mind instead of a conflict. An effective method, which Prophet Muhammad (sa) once taught a man, was to take a sip of water and not swallow it, while he was angry with his wife. A couple of months later, the man came back to the Prophet (sa) and told him that it had worked.

We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. As we have two ears and one mouth, we should use them proportionally.

If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation, until you cool down.

Try to identify the problem and think of possible strategies to solve the situation.

Use relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or reading a book.

Do regular exercise, as this will help increase your tolerance level.

Inspiration from the Quran 

It has also been revealed in the Quran that forgiveness is a superior moral trait: “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would tryly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:43)

For that reason, believers are forgiving, compassionate, and tolerant people “who repress anger, and who pardon men.” (Al-Imran 3:134)

“Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An-Nur 24:22)

“The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof; but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:40)

“But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (At-Taghabun 64: 14)

One of the divine attributes of Allah (swt) is patience. The Quran says: “…and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

Sabr in Arabic has a richer meaning than the word patience. It means to stop oneself from despairing and panicking. Additionally, it means to stop one’s tongue from complaining and controlling one’s rage in times of stress. As Javed Mohammad, the author of “Riding the Roller Coaster,” elaborates, it encompasses holding back, as well as moving forward with courage and perseverance.

Conclusively anger is detrimental to a person’s physical health as well as spiritual being. The myth of ‘letting out the steam’ is just that – a myth. It has never helped anyone stay in good shape and acquire a positive frame of mind. So just get rid of those angry thoughts that instigate negative reactions. There is so much more to do than waste precious moments of life!