Finding Our Way To Jannah


While reciting the ending verses of Surah Al-Bayyinah, tears do not stop. You cry out to Allah (swt) to make you among those with whom He is pleased and who are pleased with Him. You wonder what a great honour to have it mentioned in the Quran that Allah (swt) is pleased with you.

It is the love and pleasure of Allah (swt) that our souls seek for if that has not been attained, then what have we really achieved? It will be a life wasted.

Allah (swt) tells us that if we follow the footsteps of the prophets, their companions, and the pious predecessors, we too might become the inheritors of Paradise. But to follow them, first we will have to learn the character traits that got them Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

Abu Bakr (rtam) – Truthfulness

After learning that the Prophet (sa) has been given prophethood, it did not take Abu Bakr (rtam) even a second to testify. Embracing Islam, he rushed to convey the message to others. When the Quraysh mocked and refused to accept the miraculous journey of Isra, Abu Bakr (rtam) said: “If he (the Prophet [sa]) said so, then he has told the truth.” It was this incident that earned him the title of As-Siddiq (the truthful).

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Modern Workplace Challenges

workplaceAt times there arises a need to compromise and do things which might be against Islam. Such dilemmas are usually encountered by Muslims in their workplace. We act and try to make people happy because we don’t want to be labelled as ‘extremists’ or because we fear losing our job. On the other hand, we also fear Allah and want to please Him. Nowadays, many things are in direct conflict with Muslims in most of the non-Muslim society. Intricacies encountered in the workplace have become a growing concern for the Muslim Ummah around the globe because of issues ranging from prayer, fasting, attire, food, socializing, handshakes, and much more.

When encountered with such dilemmas, the very first and foremost thing that one needs to do is, stay firm and strong on Deen and not compromise on clear cut matters. Why be shy of people when we should be wary of our Lord? One should only fear Almighty Allah (swt) and have the courage to take the stand and convey one’s opinion and choices without any hesitation.

As mentioned in the Quran: Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). (Al-Ankabut 29:2-3)

Prayer – Salah

To combat the challenges like prayer, communication, fasting, harassment, bullying; the first requirement is firmness in religion. One manifest issue for Muslim employees is prayer. Adherence to the five times daily prayer is a critical part of faith. A neutral space should be allocated for the Muslims, so that they can offer their obligation without hesitation. But in many places this issue is not addressed and no place is designated for prayer, except in rare workplaces where the company has allocated a resting area or meditation room.

Muslims have to find creative ways to fulfil what Allah (swt) has commanded. Islam is a religion of ease and does not want to cause difficulties for its believers.

Prayer is the fundamental tool for a believer to connect with Allah (swt) as it is stated in Quran; “Recite (O Muhammad [sa]) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]. And Allah knows what you do.” (Al-Ankabut 45).

When the Prophet Muhammad (sa), was asked which deed is the best, he said: “Performing the prayer at its due time.” (Muslim).

In most Western workplaces such as UK, places are not designated for Muslims to pray. A lady shared her experience in this regard. She said that due to the unavailability of any designated place she started praying in the public area, but because this would jeopardize her physical safety she began to make up prayers at home. Then she realized that offering deferred prayers at home was also not a good option. She then started praying at her desk while sitting on her chair. Muslims have to find creative ways to fulfil what Allah (swt) has commanded. Islam is a religion of ease and does not want to cause difficulties for its believers.

Maintaining a Halal diet is another major concern. To avoid any risk one should bring food from home or select food that is vegetarian

The next challenge surrounding prayer is ablution. Ablution needs a separate place because performing Wudhu sometimes splashes water on the counter and creates a mess. But one should not fear and go ahead with making Wudhu, because it is an integral routine required before any prayer. Allah mentions:

“O you who believe! When you intend to offer the Prayer, wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

To avoid making a mess, keep a cloth with you to wipe the counter clean. Use water economically.

Food and Ramadan 

Another religious consideration surrounds the holy month of Ramadan. One is required to fast from sunrise to sunset. In the workplace, people are usually not aware of the ones who are fasting. If you have to turn down the invite to lunch or to some other occasion involving food, do so politely.

Maintaining a Halal diet is another major concern. To avoid any risk one should bring food from home or select food that is vegetarian or made by the people of the book, as the Quran says; “The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:5).However, one cannot confirm that the meal is Halal, so to be on the safest side one should bring food from home.

Muslim Identity and Behaviour 

Islam teaches us to maintain good relations and uphold a healthy and friendly environment. Muslims should also greet one another. Prophet Muhammad (sa) taught us to greet another Muslim with “Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah or Assalamu Alaykum” and the response by a Muslim should be “Wa alaykum ussalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The lure of gossip among employees and managers is a very normal act; they think it is a minor matter but it is very big in the sight of Allah (swt) and is highly detrimental to one’s faith.

But nowadays some Muslims do not think appropriate to greet Islamically in their professional realm. As per one interview, even if Muslims respond to Salam, they mumble it so that it is hardly recognizable as a greeting. We must be proud of being Muslims and acknowledge one another. Our Holy Prophet (sa) says: “Muslims should greet those people that they know as well as those people that they do not know.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Therefore, Muslims should be audacious and greet Muslims everywhere eagerly.

Backbiting, stealing or cheating and other unlawful or unacceptable behaviour has become a sort of norm nowadays. Committing such acts undermines one’s faith and makes him or her easily become indifferent and habitual to such attitude without even knowing the greatness of the sin. The lure of gossip among employees and managers is a very normal act; they think it is a minor matter but it is very big in the sight of Allah (swt) and is highly detrimental to one’s faith. Hence, in order to overcome this challenge one should change the conversation and divert peoples’ mind to some other useful and healthy topic.

The Quran says: “When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” (An-Nur 24:15)

Interacting with the Opposite Gender

Interaction between opposite genders within the workplace can be another challenge. As a matter of fact, if men and women are working together, then potential temptation and attractiveness are natural phenomena among them. Hence, Allah (swt), the all-knower, prescribes women to cover their entire body (Awrah) except hand and face. A Muslim woman should cover her body by wearing Hijab and every believing woman should understand that it is a matter of religion and not a personal choice.

It is also stated that men and women should lower their gaze towards one another, women’s tone must be low, and the attire should not be appealing neither the saunter be attractive. If a male and female are talking, their conversation should be respectful. In short, an atmosphere of dignity with the fear of Allah (swt) should be maintained.

The Quran says: “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)

In order to combat any unlawful act, a Muslim should always be firm and confident in conveying the religious obligations. One such example is of a man who applied for a job in a large global media company. His interview was conducted on telephone by a lady. At the end of the conversation, she asked if there was anything that the interviewee wanted to ask. In order to avoid embarrassment at any later stages, the man conveyed honestly that being a strict Muslim he did not make any physical contact with women, that is, handshakes. His colleagues understood him and appreciated his outlook. Initially he was a bit embarrassed and afraid of delineating his thoughts but after being clear and upfront, he was respected. None of his peers were rude with him and ladies at work did not shake hands with him, but instead spoke in a courteous and polite manner.

In today’s world such challenges are being commonly faced by Muslims everywhere, but we must constantly be careful against the pressures to engage in the norms and activity that contradict the Muslim’s way of life. Today, it is very hard to maintain a balance between the Islamic principles and those of Western culture. We should always attempt to come closer to Allah (swt) and make preparations for the life hereafter.

The challenges present in the workplace are serious, but a sincere follower of Islam, who will be at his or her best in order to maintain being a true Muslim, will not encounter difficulty in overcoming these dilemmas.

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Personality Ethics vs. Character Ethics


Reaping benefits out of the Quran and Seerah, I always notice, how they place absolutely uncompromising emphasis on the value of character integrity. But what really took me by surprise was reading Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book was so much in line with the core Islamic values. The author narrates his personal experience of the middle seventies, when he was required to review 200 years of success literature published in the USA as part of a doctoral program.

He scanned hundreds of books on self-improvement, popular psychology, and self-help. A startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature was noticed. Much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic troubles untouched to fester and resurface later on.

It was after the World War I that the trend of focusing on the personality ethics emerged. According to Covey, “success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction. Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims such as ‘Your attitude determines your altitude,’ ‘Smiling wins more friends than frowning,’ and ‘Whatever the mind of man conceives and believes, it can achieve.'”

It also focused on clearly manipulative, even deceptive tactics, such as using techniques to make others like us and to fake interest in the hobbies of others for achieving what we want. The personality ethic approved of intimidating others and wearing the ‘power look.’

However, some elements of the personality ethics are essential for success, such as personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking. But they are secondary in greatness. It is like constructing a building, whose foundation is the character ethics, or reaping a harvest, whose seeds lie in our character strength.

Now, let us have a look at the character ethics. In 1776, thinkers and social scientists of United States believed that the foundation of success lied in such values as integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the golden rule. Everything that the Quran has ever taught us – that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can experience true success and enduring happiness only as they integrate these principles into their characters. These are the principles of character ethics.

If we were to use human influence strategies and tactics to get work done, to be more motivated, or to make others like us, while our character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity, then in the long run, we cannot be successful. Once the charm disappears and the real face appears, all techniques will cave in. Frustration will build, relationships will become sour, and in spite of efforts, results will be far from desirable.

Lessons to Learn

As the West compartmentalized the character ethics, rather than recognizing it as a foundational and catalytic ingredient of success, they have paid the price. It gave birth to a ruthless and self-centered perception of life. This can be very blatantly observed in the media campaigns they broadcast and through the behaviors of an entire generation, which skipped the core values to cram in quick-fix solutions into their lives.

But as the saying goes, it is not a pity to sight someone making a mistake but to experience others repeating that mistake, rather than learning from it. Pakistan regretfully is treading the same path.

Last year, when I experienced the ordeal of getting my 3 and ½ year old son into school, my shock knew no bounds. Every reputed school was interested in an extrovert and outspoken child. Every mother wanted her kid to be the most eloquent voice box in town, mainly because that was in demand. God forbid, if the child failed the school entrance test – the parents went into mourning, self-pity, and envy.

I wondered if ever any of these parents went to that length to teach their children the significance of honesty, compassion, or other basic values in life. Instead, at this tender age of learning, they were being conditioned to a whole set of superficial traits, which would mould their mindsets into believing that this is the ultimate key to achievement. Later in life when they fail, they would be left devastated and confused.

Steven Covey has presented his case with a strong example of the law of harvest. If we forget to sow in the spring, play all summer and try to cram in the harvest in autumn, what will happen? Can we expect a shortcut? No. It is a natural system. The price must be paid and process must be followed. This also works for human relationships, whether at work or at home. If marriages are contracted on the pretext of false pretence and a flimsy veneer bringing two families together, when the charming tactics and techniques begin to crack up, relationships will break up, too.

There is an extremely powerful and critical lesson to be learnt here, something that every single one of us can relate to. We need to develop, change, and even train ourselves inside-out. Basic goodness gives life to technique. Once the values are in place, additional tactics can lead us to success. In Islamic terms, we can relate this to Tazkiyah-e-Nafs (self-accountability). Attempting to correct our own faults and constantly trying to improve ourselves by following the primary values (character ethics) and then developing the secondary principles (personality ethics). Once we have sown the seeds of a strong character upholding core values, success is bound to follow in our personal and professional lives and even beyond – in our lives in the Hereafter.