[Twins of Faith Karachi] Family Matters by Br. Adnan Rashid

familyAllah’s (swt) greatest gift to Muslims is Iman (faith). Something they never pursued and were awarded effortlessly. But what is Iman? It is belief and action combined together based on the Ilm (knowledge) one has acquired. Yes, it’s a pre-requisite that Ilm must be followed up by Amal (action); otherwise, Ilm is not even considered to be Ilm.

Iblees (Satan) is most knowledgeable. He maybe is more learned than all the Ulema of the world collectively. Why? Because he has been around the longest. He was there even before Allah (swt) created Adam (as). And he worshipped Allah (swt). So where did he fail? How did he become Rajeem (the cursed and rejected one)? Significantly, because he failed to act upon the knowledge he earned. He recognized Allah (swt) to be the Supreme Creator, Who solely deserved to be worshipped, but blinded himself to His divine guidance. Hence, Ibless became a Kafir. Ilm without action is a recipe for Jahannum.

Numerous orientalists and non-Muslims have studied Hadeeth and Aqueedah in more depth than many Muslims on Earth. But it doesn’t save them. Knowledge and action are intertwined. One is vain and useless without the other. If we are granted knowledge and we do not act upon it, we are considered to be hypocrites. If we do not have knowledge and we act as per our desires, we can cause Fitnah and perform Bidats (innovations in Deen).

Abu Hurairah (rta) once saw an old man with a young boy. He advised the lad about the Islamic Adab: “Do not walk ahead of your father and do not sit before him.”

We need to approach our families with the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah, especially when delivering their rights upon us. Family is one of the greatest blessings from Allah (swt). It is an important opportunity to please Allah (swt) and enter Jannah. As Muslims, we must recognize who is who in the family. It is essential to understand the value and status of your parents, spouse, children and extended family.

Orphans are the ones, who know the true importance of having a family. Once, our beloved Prophet (sa) was travelling along with his companions (rta). Suddenly, he came to a halt and began to weep. His companions (rta), unable to see his grief, cried along with him, until Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rta) asked him: “Ya Rasool Allah (sa), why are you crying?” He replied: “My mother is buried here.”

Why did Allah (swt) place Jannah beneath the mother’s feet? Because it can only be attained by serving her. After mentioning Shirk as an unforgivable sin, Allah (swt) places disobedience to parents next in line. They can either be our doors to Jannah or gateway to Jahannum.

Once, the Prophet (sa) descended the pulpit thrice, and each time he uttered: “Ameen”. The companions (rta) asked him, why he did so? The Messenger (sa) explained: “Gabriel (as) visited me and informed me: ‘Woe to the person, who finds Ramadan but doesn’t enter Paradise.’ I said: ‘Ameen.’ Then he said: ‘Woe to the person, who, upon mentioning your name, doesn’t send Salawat upon you.’ I said: ‘Ameen.’ Lastly, Gabriel said: ‘Woe to the person, who finds his parents in their old age and fails to attain Jannah.’ I said: ‘Ameen.’ ”

Appreciate your ties with the kith and kin and pave your way to Jannah.

Abu Hurairah (rta) once saw an old man with a young boy. He advised the lad about the Islamic Adab: “Do not walk ahead of your father and do not sit before him.”

Many times kids do not out-rightly misbehave with their parents, but it’s that one shrug of shoulders, gesturing of the eyes or wrinkling with their forehead that does it all. The Quran doesn’t even permit us to utter ‘uff’ to them. If a word shorter than that would have been known, that would also have been forbidden to say against one’s parents.

How Allah (swt) defends the honour of a mother? When Maryam (as) gave birth to Isa (as) and brought him to her people, she was falsely accused. At the moment she pointed to Isa (as,) who was still an infant in the cradle. He spoke for his mother as a miracle. Allah (swt) granted him the power to do so. Isa (as) confirmed to the people that he was special. He was most importantly a slave of Allah (swt), He had been given a book (Injeel) from Allah (swt), he had been made a prophet of Allah (swt) and he was obedient to his mother.

I see the Western society collapsing from within. I have seen kids curse their parents. It’s an unbelievable phenomenon. Their family institution has disintegrated. On the other hand, Islam is great. It gives the right to people they deserve. Appreciate your ties with the kith and kin and pave your way to Jannah.

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan from Br Adnan Rashid’s talk at Twins of Faith Karachi, organized by Mercy Mission.

Classroom Management: Create a Positive Learning Climate and Culture

Sunnah in ClassroomA positive learning environment for children is vital to the success of your classroom. If the learning environment is not positive, curriculum can become monotonous and instruction teacher-focused rather than student-centred. Design a positive learning environment for your students by setting up norms, enforcing consistent consequences and reinforcing positive behaviour.

Say “please” and “thank you” to students. We should not take these words for granted anymore and keep in mind the importance of giving respect in order to earn respect. We should use these words in tests, homework, worksheets, presentations etc. When you say “thank you” for an answer given by a student, it shows you heard him and appreciated him, even if the answer is wrong.

Listen to Students. Students need our attention. We should be very careful that while listening to the students we are not physically turning away, sighing, frowning, rolling our eyes, talking to someone else or looking away. We show people how much they matter through our body language, whether we mean it or not. Body language can make a difference in the classroom.

Welcome every answer – right or wrong. Instead of students going through the process of their own mind-boggling, we want them to read our mind. Don’t set kids up for failure by just getting one wrong answer from them. In order to enhance learning, don’t damage the students’ self-esteem. When students start getting t all the wrong answers, they start to think something is wrong with them. Ask open-ended questions to promote divergent thinking. Ask “What do you think?” instead of “Why?” Say, “That’s not exactly what I’m looking for” instead of “Wrong answer.”

Allow positive feedback. Write each student’s name at the top and pass the blank papers. All students have to write honest, positive comments about each other. Read and discuss. Ask students to sign their names next to the comment to keep a check on their participation and positive attitude.

Establish expectations. You may be able to avoid many classroom management issues, if you establish your expectations regarding student behaviour early and keep them consistent. Laying down the ground rules early in your relationship with a class is quintessential to your achievement as a teacher. Your goal should be to involve your students in this task to ensure that they are aware of the rules and the consequences. There is another way to add to the ambience of your classroom – post the ground rules and always lean towards the positive, rather than negative reinforcing them throughout the session. When a student does not follow the rules, posting something on the wall will likely affect the entire class in a negative way, but posting something for each student, who did adhere to the rules, serves the opposite.

Set the tone for class. Teachers set the tone for the classroom setting. They are responsible for setting the tone of the class. If as a teacher you make an effort to be even-tempered, fair with your students and equitable in rule enforcement then you have set a high standard for your classroom. Of the many factors that have an effect on a classroom environment, your behaviour is the one factor that you can completely control.

Adjust your personality. The  characteristics of your personality affect the classroom environment. Are you humorous? Are you able to take a joke? Are you sarcastic? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? All of these and other personal characteristics will stand out in your classroom and affect the learning environment. It is therefore important that you take stock of your traits and make adjustments if necessary.

Solve difficult student behaviour. t has been found that disruptive students can really affect the classroom environment. It is vital that you place a firm discipline policy that you enforce on a daily basis. The key is that the teacher should learn to nip in the bud – stop the problems before they start by moving students or diffusing situations before they begin. However, it is difficult when you have that one student who always seems to push your buttons. Use all the resources available at your disposal including mentors, student counsellors, parent teacher meeting and if necessary seek help from the administration to keep the situation under control.

Create seating chart. Laura Stanley, a secondary school teacher in the UK, shares her thoughts about creating effective learning environment and using seating charts:

“Sticking to the seating plan is the best, simplest way to remember names. When you ask a question, use the plan to address the responding student personally. There’s no quick way to learn names, especially in a class of 30-thirty identically-dressed 11-eleven year olds. You’ll hear some staff saying things like ‘I always test myself to make sure I know all of my students’ names by the end of the first week’. Ignore them. There will be some names you still don’t know till the end of the session and this is normal. Your school should have a system with children’s contact details on and it will most likely have a photo. You can use this when you write reports.”

Assign classroom jobs for students. Primary and secondary classroom teachers can find a variety of jobs for their students. When you assign jobs to your students, you allow them to feel needed and important. Moreover, you get a helping hand in keeping your classroom running smoothly.

Here are some duties to get you started. The teacher can give the jobs fun, age-appropriate names like Hygiene Manager for tidying up the room or Foreign Ambassador to welcome visitors and new students:

  • Students can collect and distribute papers.
  • Answer the door, turn off/on lights when required.
  • Keep the classroom library in order.
  • Take the roll call.
  • Keep the classroom clean at the end of a class period or the end of the day.
  • Keep time to make sure that students (and you) stay on track.
  • Attend the class phone or run errands to the office.

Use non-verbal cues to keep students on track. Some ways to change behaviour without stopping instruction which redirects negative behaviour and reinforces positive behaviour – all without saying a word.

  • Hands Up: Raise your hand to show the students that they need to focus on you. When students see that you have raised your hand, Each one should raise their hand until the entire class has hands raised and are paying attention.
  • Lights: Switch off the lights to get students silent.
  • Proximity: If a student is being troublesome, walk over to the student’s desk and stand next to the student, until the behaviour has ceased. If this doesn’t work, put a hand on their desk or the back of their chair.
  • Recognise positive behaviour: Give a smile, a high five in the air, a sticker or “good work” sticky note.

Useful Tips for Managing the Classroom

  • For movement and interaction organize the physical space of your classroom. To do small group work, make it easy for students to pull their desks together. Set it up in such a way that it is easy for you to walk around.  You have thus created a classroom environment in which your movement around the classroom helps to make your teaching more engaging. This will also helps in classroom control.
  • One way to make the classroom safe for the students is make them participate and ask questions. No matter what a student says, make it a habit to react with respect. The best way is to model respect for your students and teach them to show respect for one another.
  • When you teach place mirrors next to the dry erase board and the chalk board so that even when you have to turn your back to write on the board, you can still keep an eye on students.
  • Ask your students to write on the board for you. It persuades students to be directly involved It helps them build up a basic skill –writing so that others can read what they write and most importantly it will save your time and energy and allow you to face your students which helps in good classroom control especially when you’re using active teaching methods that invite student participation. Students involved in the activity are not going to be quiet, hence enabling you to monitor their behaviour and  keep things orderly. Keeping the students engaged in learning in the long run will make your teaching more effective.


Putting together a classroom with the above thoughts in mind will create an environment where your students will thrive. They will feel concerned and responsible for their own learning as well as comfortable enough to actively participate in individual and group activities. Your encouraging reinforcement permits them to build self-esteem and be more successful students which will of course make you a successful teacher!

[Hadeeth Commentary] Avoid Harming Yourself and Others


Related on the authority of Abu Sa’id Sa’d bin Malik bin Sinan al-Khudri that the Prophet (sa) said: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” (An excellent Hadeeth which Ibn Majah, Al-Daraqutni and others related as of sound Isnad, but which Malik related in his Muwatta’ as of broken Isnad, from ‘Amr bin Yahya, from his father, from the Prophet (sa), but dropping (the name of) Abu Sa’id. This Hadeeth has lines of transmission, which strengthens one another (so that it may be regarded as of sound Isnad.)

A pithy Hadeeth, which reflects Islam’s mission statement; preventing harm and being useful/beneficial to others. This Hadeeth is all about the attitude of a believer. Remember, even before you harm Allah’s (swt) creations, you actually harm yourself. This concept is a trait that every Muslim must have if he wants to implement this Hadeeth in his life.

pic2This Hadeeth becomes the basis for the rules of behaviour in Islam. Some of them according to the commentary in 40 Hadeeth of an-Nawawi are:

  1. Harm is to be prevented as much as possible.
  2. Harm is to be eradicated.
  3. Harm is not to be removed by a similar harm.
  4. A greater harm can be removed by a lesser harm.
  5. Based on rule number 4, if one has to choose between two harms, precedence is given to a lower harm, in order to avoid the greater harm.
  6. Preventing harm takes precedence over gaining or attaining benefits.
  7. If there is a conflict between factors permitting something and others prohibiting something, the prohibition takes precedence; that is, it is going to be given the priority.
  8. Something harmful is not given precedence just because it was pre-existing. In other words, the pre-existence of something does not allow it to continue to exist and be the cause of harm.To demonstrate rule number eight, let’s step into Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). There was a Masjid built in a neighbourhood. Many years later, that area became densely populated – houses were built around the Masjid. As per custom, when the Muadh-dhin (caller to prayer) wanted to make the call for prayer (Adhan), he climbed the minaret. The jurists decided that the Muadh-dhin must cease the use of the minaret, so that no harm was caused to the people in the houses below (as from the top of the minaret, he could see into other people’s homes and thus invaded their privacy).

Two words in this Hadeeth are similar. The root word is Dādrārā – to harm – ‘do not harm’ / ‘no harming’. ‘Do not harm’ encompasses not harming yourself and not harming anyone around you whether intentionally or unintentionally. If it is unintentional, then as soon as you realize your mistake, you must correct it. Sometimes you are not even aware of the fact that you are harming yourself – but as soon as you recognize it, you must stop. This is caused by the negative thought patterns or a feeling of superiority; “I am better than…” The application of this Hadeeth in our lives thoroughly depends upon two factors: our thoughts and our attitude. Even though it is a simple concept, it is the hardest Hadeeth to apply upon ourselves. All our actions are the result of our thoughts, so we must control our thoughts from causing harm to ourselves and others.

“O You who believe! Make not unlawful the Taiyibât (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons, etc.) which Allâh has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allâh does not like the transgressors.” (AlMaidah 5:87)

So remember, we cannot transgress against ourselves, others, animals and even plants or trees.


Is there ever a justifiable reason to cause harm?
Ibn Rajab says that the Prophet (sa) said: “If the main objective is to actually cause the harm then this is totally prohibited.” Any act that causes harm to others, whether individually or as a community, and whether it is beneficial or not beneficial to the one who causes it, is prohibited in Islam. It should not exist in the first place and if it does, then a deliberate effort should be made to remove or minimize it.

Ask the Savvy Parent: Homework Hercules

homeworkMy son is around 5. Getting him to sit down for homework is a Herculean task. Please suggest proactive tips. I want him to love the process of learning, not dread it.

Dear Parent,

I’m surprised that kids as early as 5 years old get homework. Where did the fun go? I could write on end about the issues I have with homework and why, as a teacher for the most part, I dislike it, but let’s stay on the task at hand.

First off, you are not alone in this and it’s important to know and understand that the problem is not with your child. The homework is the problem. Homework is a constant for most children; it is always there. And for many children, it is often a chore. Just the concept of “homework” can cause multiple anxieties and negative feelings. Students may struggle with and/or resist homework for a variety of reasons. These may include any of the following:

  • The child is experiencing some aspect of a learning disability or learning difference.
  • Your child doesn’t understand or have a strong grasp on the knowledge foundation related to what is being asked of him or her.
  • The child lacks or is not using appropriate strategies or tools.
  • Your child is experiencing fatigue, either processing fatigue or general fatigue.

So how can you work around this? How can you turn that chore into a fun challenge?

Here are 7 strategies that can help:


  1. Fun: Bring fun back into learning by finding creative ways to accomplish the task and try to add more hands on components. It’s a known fact that young children respond well to games as motivational aids. Use Mnemonics, poems, games etc. to make it more exciting. Use a timer. It makes the passage of time more concrete for your child. Identify a reasonable time for your child to complete an assignment or section of the assignment. Turn it into a fun game/race. Make home as much of an enjoyable experience as possible
  2. Consistency: Set up a regular schedule and time for homework. For example every day at 5:00 pm. Stick to this schedule even if, on the off day, there isn’t any homework. Use it as ‘study or review time’ instead. The key is consistency.
    If you live in the America, the “10-Minute Rule” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association, which recommends that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders and so forth
  3. Chunking: Sometimes the amount of homework given can be daunting. Break down the homework into smaller, more achievable tasks. If you have to, spread it out during the day.
  4. Incentives: Some children need external motivators to help maintain focus on the task. Let your child know that they will have access to certain privileges when they have completed their homework. For example, you might say, “Once you’ve completed your homework time, you may go watch a TV programme.” Be clear with your child about the consequences for refusing to complete his homework, or for putting his work off until later. Remember, consequences should be short term, and should fit the “crime.” You might say, “If you choose not to finish your homework during the scheduled time, you will not be allowed to play with your Legos. Tomorrow, you’ll get another chance.” The next day, your child gets to try again. Do NOT take away privileges for more than a day; it is unreasonable and unfair and your child will lose any incentive to do better the next time.
  5. Behaviour vs. Motivation: Kids don’t place as much importance on schoolwork as you do. When you focus on their behaviour, not their motivation, you will begin to see some improvement in their homework skills. You can use your child’s motivation to your advantage if they have something they’d like to earn. For example if your child has been asking you for a pet gold fish. “I know you want to get a goldfish. You need to show me you can be responsible and finish your homework before we can talk about getting a pet.” By doing this, you sidestep all the arguments around both the homework and the permit.
  6. Encouragement: This is one of the most important things a parent can do. Provide encouragement frequently throughout the task, helping your child move forward to finish the assignment. For example, “I know this is hard, but I’m sure you can do it with just a little help. Let’s just start with one small part.”
  7. Practicing Skills for Success: Tying homework compliance with your child’s desires isn’t about having your child jump through hoops in order to get something they want. It’s not even about making them take something seriously, when they don’t see it that way or the same way you do. The goal is to help your child learn the skills they need to live life successfully. We all have to do this. We all have occasions where we have to follow a rule, even when we disagree with it. When you create mandatory, daily homework time, you help your child practice these skills. When you tie homework time to daily, practical incentives, you encourage your child to succeed.

Insha’Allah I hope this helps. Happy Parenting!

The Savvy Parent