Beautify the World Around your Daughters

 

mother-daughter

 

                                            Image Courtesy https://muslimkidsread.wordpress.com

 

Parents worry mostly about the worldly imperfections which may attract their daughters.

In this case, mother is the key person and a mentor who can guide her daughter to the righteous path.

Following are the tips which will help young mothers to build good relations with their daughters; yet, providing them a secure environment.

 

Communication is the key

Spend an hour or so everyday together- just to bring all the boiling steam out of your daughter’s heart; be like her friend, but make sure the respect between you two remains.

Guide her and make her practice Deen along with yourself.

 

Children learn what they see

Model kindness, practice Deen, and insist on it within your family. Avoid gossiping, and show your daughter how to stand up for others (it’s Sunnah) .The positive relationships she sees, will guide her on the path to building her own—in the home and outside.

 

Set limits

Teach your daughter to accept boundaries. Say “Yes” when you can, but “No” when you need to.

When you set limits, try to come from a place of kindness rather than criticism.

By building a foundation of deep respect at home- you help your daughter to develop respect for others and for herself.

 

Rough times build resilience

Try not to rescue your daughter from feeling negative emotions. Instead, empower her to work through them. When she comes to you to let off steam, honour her feelings- whatever they may be, instead of trying to talk her out of them.

Quote her the stories of Sahabah to learn and practice patience.

 

Laughter heals

Families who have fun together, have happier kids.

You must plan fun activities to do together, but also add humour to your day to day life. You’ll give your daughter an important break from the rest of the world, and provide her with a strong emotional safety net.

Daughters are the reason of your pride and joy, make sure you nurture them in the best way.

Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 14 & 15

pearlGain awareness – ignorance is not bliss

In Surah An-Nahl, Allah (swt) warns us against jumping to conclusions, “And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any but men, whom We inspired, (to preach and invite mankind to believe in the Oneness of Allah). So ask of those who know the Scripture (learned men of the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)), if you know not.” (An-Nahl 16:43) Here we learn the significance of being knowledgeable. People who acquire knowledge have a status above the ignorant ones.

Talking about ignorance, one of the practices in the days of ignorance was to bury the female child alive. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief!” (An-Nahl 16:58) Our Prophet (sa) strove to banish this evil custom from the Arabian Peninsula; sadly however, it has crept into our societies today. Despite all the awareness, people still make faces when a daughter is born. Women are divorced for delivering a baby girl; even though they are not given a choice!

How will we face Allah (swt) in the hereafter?

He decides who gets a son and who gets a daughter. We can’t fight His will. For some people, Allah (swt) has ordained only male children; we don’t know the reason behind it. But Allah (swt) knows. So thank Him. For some people, He has ordained only daughters; they are their Paradise. Thank Allah (swt). Girl is an Amanah; (trust) you only look after her for some time, for someone else. People who don’t have children, perhaps it is destined for them to get closer to Allah (swt) through this test. Having or not having children is not a scale to assess someone’s success. Some people do not benefit from their children at all. Look at the wives of the Prophet (sa). Other than Khadijah (ra) and Mariah (ra); none of them had children from the Prophet (sa). But they were never depressed. All of Prophet’s (sa) children, except Fatimah (ra), passed away before him. The best of creation lost many of his children, but was he depressed? Hence, sit with those who have knowledge and learn from their wisdom.

Justice – order of the day

Allah (swt) commands us to be just, “Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (justice) and Al-Ihsan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet (sa) in a perfect manner), and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahsha (i.e. all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e. all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (An-Nahl 16:90) Notice that justice comes before good conduct. It is because while it is virtuous to forgive people like Yusuf (as) did, no one can expect us to keep forgiving- despite their continuous disrespect and oppression. Seek justice, it’s your right; however, avenge your heart from anger.

Our journey – to this world and back

There are times when one does not have anything. He is low in terms of his worldly status. Then Allah (swt) expands his provision and instead of being grateful, he becomes haughty. “Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever with Allah (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (An-Nahl 16:96)

Presently, man misses his prayer for one more phone call, one more email, one more business transaction and one more task of the world. When he will enter Paradise, he will forget everything that he was given in the world. Jannah contains that which no eye has ever seen. It’s precious and free from filth. Man would look at his own wife and feel as if he is looking at her for the first time. No rancour or grudges. Let us not become arrogant for the blessings that Allah (swt) has gifted us. Rather, let us use those blessings for His cause. Give Him your wealth, your skills and your resources for a better return in the Hereafter.

Don’t strive for more – the day is close

Let us not waste our time here because Allah (swt) says, “(Remember) the Day when every person will come up pleading for himself, and everyone will be paid in full for what he did (good or evil, belief or disbelief in the life of this world) and they will not be dealt with unjustly.” (An-Nahl 16:111) The more things we possess, the more answerable we will be on that Day. It will be said, “(It will be said to him): Read your book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day.” (Al-Isra 17:14) The poor (mentioned as Miskeen in authentic narrations) will be the first ones to enter Paradise, because they had very little rights upon others. Those who have been blessed by Allah (swt) have been informed of their responsibilities towards others. If we fail to honour their responsibilities, there will be people on the Day of Judgement fighting against us. They will take away our good deeds and there will be no help.

Polite invitation towards Deen

As Quran touches our hearts, it is equally important to speak to people in such a way that it has a positive effect on their hearts; especially when one is calling them towards Allah (swt), Invite (mankind, O Muhammad (sa)) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.(An-Nahl 16:125)

Use kind words and good speech to win hearts. Do not be harsh and condescending. The Prophet (sa) won people over by his beautiful conduct and gentleness. (If you lack confidence, recite the Dua of Prophet Moosa (as) (Ta-Ha 20: 25).)

Who deserves our kindness the most?

Our parents! If your parents are alive, exert yourselves in serving them. If they have passed away, make Dua for their forgiveness and an elevation of their status in the Hereafter. May Allah (swt) make us and our children a source of continuous charity for parents. Ameen. Our parents and household was chosen by Allah (swt). No child picks his own parents. Therefore, families are one of the tests decreed. Children are a test for their parents, and parents are a test for their children. Remember the phrase: As you do so shall be done unto you. Be kind to your parents; give them your love and respect, and above all give them your time.

Allah (swt) says, And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy…” (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

“Uff”- the prohibited word!

“Uff” is a word uttered in rebuke. We should remember they are our parents. They fed us, looked after our needs, raised us, made arrangements for our education and upbringing, and did whatever they thought was right for us. If we feel they have failed in some aspects, then we should let it go and forgive them. Look at how the instruction of good treatment is followed by a Dua. Allah (swt) instructs us to say, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small. (Al-Isra 17:24) When we feel cold towards our parents, we should go back and check our Islamic history. Read up stories of the Companions (ra) and learn how they were with their parents. Some of them had non-Muslim parents; yet they never dishonoured them. Some of them were oppressive; yet the Companions (ra) never lost their good conduct.

Parental tyranny

We come across incidences of parental abuse even in Muslim societies. Today, being a parent is not enough. One must beseech Allah (swt) for his own uprightness. If we are not upright ourselves, what would we be teaching our children? Parents complain of their children not respecting them, have you reflected upon your own behaviour? How do you speak to them? How do you carry yourself around them? May Allah (swt) make us responsible and upright parents; and enable us to fulfil the rights of people around us. Ameen.

Spending rightfully

Look at what He says further, “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .” (Al-Isra 17:26) After spending on one’s own family, a person must look at the needs of his relatives, who might not be wealthy, and travellers who are strangers in a new land. Even though begging is despised; but never rebuke a beggar. Utter a kind word and turn away.

Next, Allah (swt) commands us not to be wasteful. Extravagance is one reason why people are unable to give in charity. We spend so much on ourselves in superfluous things that we have little left to give in Allah’s (swt) way. Wastefulness is ingratitude. We should not indulge in the worldly life so much that we lose our focus – the Paradise.

Balanced expenditures

Not being wasteful does not mean living like a miser, And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.” (Al-Isra 17:29) Islam recommends choosing the middle path. Neither be extravagant nor stingy. Keep a balance. Spend on your needs and occasional indulgences. We learn in Hadeeth that the best Dinar that a man spends is a Dinar that he spends on his family. (Muslim)

Why are we stopped from extravagance?

Extravagance instils haughtiness. And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.All the bad aspects of these (the above mentioned things) are hateful to your Lord.” (Al-Isra 17: 37-38) So why be haughty and demean others by means of our wealth when everything is from Allah (swt)?

Peace – the order of Jannah

“And say to My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) that they should (only) say those words that are the best.” (Al-Isra 17:53) Allah (swt) commands us to be careful with our words; which is why we see that one of the treasures of Jannah would be “no foul speech”.

Shaytan – the open enemy

“(Because) Shaytan (Satan) verily sows disagreements among them. Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy” (Al-Isra 17:53) Shaytan, the known enemy to mankind, provokes us to gossip, back bite, slander, and hurt others. Let us not use the resources that Allah (swt) blessed us with, in evil deeds. Let us indulge our tongues in reciting the Quran, praising Allah (swt) and calling people towards His path. Let us consider another person’s reaction before we open our mouths. Let us remember that the angels near us are recording every word that we speak and every deed that we perform. Let us be people of Shukr and not those of Kufr.

How can one become a Kafir?  

By turning away from Allah (swt) despite enjoying all His favours, “And when We bestow Our Grace on man (the disbeliever), he turns away and becomes arrogant, far away from the Right Path.” (Al-Isra 17:83) What are the repercussions of distancing from Allah (swt)? He loses hope, And when evil touches him he is in great despair.” (Al-Isra 17:83)

Hope vs. fear

A believer should live his life between hope and fear. Hope that Allah (swt) will forgive him and fear for what if He doesn’t. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) would say, “If it were announced from the heaven: ‘O people! You are all entering Paradise except one,’ I would fear to be him; and if it were announced: ‘O people! You are all entering the Fire except one,’ I would hope to be him.”

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

 

Who are my Daughter’s Role Models?

footprintsOnce upon a time, there was a little girl who loved listening to stories. Her favourite were the stories about other little girls – just like her. She would listen to the tales of their adventures and later emulate them in her play. She loved to do everything the way the characters in her books did.

All children love stories and they need someone to look up to: someone to admire and someone to imitate. I’ve got two young daughters Alhumdulillah, and I can tell how the stories that are either read to them or discovered by them influence their imagination. It’s always the female characters that they are most interested in; after all every little girl wants to be a princess.

I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children.

I used to tell my daughters the stories I was told when I was little: all the fairy tales about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and so on. Then I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children. Cinderella and other beauties only dream of getting married to a prince and in times of need, they rely upon the magic wand of the fairy godmother. Needless to say, magic is Haram; however, even in the make-believe world of fairy tales, the characters rely upon it; some events are beyond their control while others happen by pure luck. It gives children a lesson only in wishful thinking and an escapist approach. All the little girls want to be princesses and I don’t think that aspiring to be a ‘princess’ is necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t want them to be the Sleeping Beauty kind of princess.

The history of Islam is full of great stories. There were a number Muslimahs who were pious, courageous, and ambitious. They achieved success in this world as well as in the eternal life. First of all, there are the Greatest Four: the four women mentioned by the Prophet (sa), as those who have achieved the highest ranks in Jannat Al-Firdaus:

  • Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh
  • Maryam, the mother of Isa (as)
  • Khadijah (rta), the first wife of the Prophet (sa)
  • Fatimah (rta), his daughter

Each of these women led a different lifestyle and each had been tried by Allah (swt). Each proved her individual strength.

Financial Status Asiya and Khadijah (rta) were rich, while Maryam and Fatimah (rta) lived in poor conditions
Marital Status Asiya had been tortured upon the orders of her husband, while Khadijah (rta) and Fatimah (rta) were happily married; Maryam was a single mother.
Professional Status Khadijah (rta) was a businesswoman, while Fatimah (rta) was a housewife

 

Each of them was different, but together they tell a story of all women and demonstrate a perfect example as to what it takes to be a great woman and a great Muslimah. And these are the characters that I would like my daughters to hear about and learn from. These are the best role models for young Muslimahs: the Princesses of the Akhirah.

Of course, there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba. As mentioned in the Quran, she was the one who recognized the truth of Islam and converted her nation. I would love to read such stories to my children, but sadly there is not much written about them in a format that would be suitable for young children.

Alhumdulillah, there is a wonderful variety of Islamic literature available in the bookstores nowadays, but most of them tell the stories of the Prophets. There is no doubt that these are very valuable stories, but I think it’s important for young girls to learn about female characters, so they can have someone to look up to and some good examples to emulate.

there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba.

Since there is this gap in the market, I have started reading adult literature on the Sahabiyat. I try to retell these stories to my kids in a language they would understand. And after a more thorough search, I have discovered some children’s literature, in which the main characters are young Muslimahs who have their problems and their adventures; they always come up with a solution that is in compliance with the guidance of Islam and teaches a valuable lesson to young readers. Seeing how powerfully stories influence children’s dreams, I am now much more considerate when choosing books for my daughters.

Of course, the role models for our children are not only the literary characters. It is the adults around them who affect them the most, teaching them by giving an example of everyday life. I know my daughters will learn from their aunties, grandmothers, elder cousins and friends. But first of all, they will learn from me. That’s why I should try to be the best example for them. It’s a huge responsibility, but also a great honour. I pray to Allah (swt) that He would make me the best I can become, so that my daughters would learn good ways from me, Insha’Allah.

The True Essence of a Muslimah

Beautiful-DiamondA daughter once asked her mother, “Mom, I have heard about diamonds and rubies and also gold and silver. Which is the most precious jewel?”

Her mother replied, “Jewels of gold, silver, diamonds and rubies are all only stones, and do not shine, unless they are burnt and polished. For me, you are my precious jewel. In fact, every daughter is a gem, irreplaceable! I would like to decorate you with such jewels and gems, which will bring you honour and respect, and add a glow to your dignity and character.

• Clothe yourself with Taqwa, and adorn yourself with the most precious jewel of piety.
• Take care of your head! It is the closest to Allah (swt) in Sujud, so make your prostrations lengthy.
• Keep your head cool and low (out of humility) when amongst people. Let Allah (swt) raise it high.
• Keep your hands immersed in work and tongue moist in Dhikr. That’s the essence of the women of Jannah.
• Raise your hands, shed tears, and share your thoughts and feelings only in front of Allah (swt).
• Lower your gaze and adorn it with the emeralds of contentment.

If you have gold, it’s not that you will not turn old.
But if you have character, it will build your Akhirah.
If you have lots of brocade and silk in your closet,
But elegance will be disclosed by your deeds’ facet.

If you are not endowed with diamonds or pearls,
Remember, through your speech and smile you glitter.
And scatter the beauty of Islam.
Through reverence in covering your Awrah.
And reveal what is permissible, and be it little, be happy with Halal and pure.
That’s the true essence of a Muslimah.

Her daughter replied: “True! I am blessed to have a mother, who knows my true value and wants the best for me in this life as well as hereafter.”

May Allah (swt) guide my daughter and all the daughters of the Ummah, too. Ameen

The Prophet (sa) and his Daughters

Daughters

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad (sa)) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

“And We have sent you (O Muhammad (sa)) not but as a mercy for the Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists)….” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)

Without doubt, one of the greatest gifts Allah (swt) has given to the believers is perfect guidance, which Muslims can follow with the assurance that it will not lead to a dead end. This guidance is the last revelation – the Noble Quran – and the way of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who practically showed us the religion of Allah Almighty (swt) and explained it in great detail, as is mentioned by Abu Zarrah (rtam): “When the Prophet of Allah left us, we had all the knowledge (even) about every bird which flies above us.”(Ibn Hibban)

One of the most important aspects of every person’s life is the relationship with one’s children. Let us see what our Prophet’s (sa) conduct was as a father.

According to one of the opinions, the Prophet (sa) had three sons: Al-Qasim, Abdullah (At-Tahir) and Ibrahim – and four daughters: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom and Fatimah, whom he called Az-Zahra (the flower). The daughters outlived his sons and they were from his first wife, Khadijah (rtaf). It must also be mentioned that most reports about the Prophet’s (sa) relationship with his daughters date back to the Madinah period – the time, when all of them were of full age and already married. This is due to the fact that most knowledge about his private life came through his wives, all of which, except Khadijah (rtaf), he married either shortly before Hijrah or after it. Most reports came through Aisha (rtaf), who has narrated more than two thousand Ahadeeth, which constitute the fourth largest source from among the Sahabahs.

Pondering over the reason Allah (swt) gave to the Prophet (sa) so many daughters that outlived his sons, the scholars are of the opinion that it was so in order to show that he did not rely on his sons, as was a custom among the Arabs of the time, and in order to confront the Jahiliyah tradition of hating daughters.

The Prophet (sa) was overjoyed about the birth of his daughters, unlike the neglectful attitude Arabs had towards their daughters. This proved that there is no reason to worry about the birth of daughters, and that the Rizq of every person is with Allah (swt). The Rizq does not decrease because of the number of children or the birth of daughters. The Prophet (sa) also has said that a person who will raise two righteous daughters will stand next to him on the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

All of the Prophet’s (sa) daughters were born before his prophethood; therefore, when the command of Allah (swt) came (“And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (sa)) of near kindred.” (Ash-Shuara 26:214)), the Prophet (sa) ascended the mount of Safa and called his tribe to Islam: “Oh, the people of Quraish, ransom yourselves – nothing else will help you in front of Allah (swt),” and also his daughters: “Oh, Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, ask me how much you wish of my money but it will not help you in front of Allah (swt).” (Bukhari) All of his daughters accepted Islam and later migrated to Madinah.

The Prophet (sa) did not delay the marriages of his daughters, choosing for them husbands who were known for their wisdom and sharp mind (like Abu al-As ibn al-Rabia, to whom he gave his eldest daughter Zaynab), or their Iman and shyness (like future Khalifah Uthman ibn Affan – a man in front of whom even angels felt shy and to whom he gave two of his daughters: Ruqayyah and after her death, Umm Kulthoom). After the death of his second daughter, the Prophet (sa) gave a brief description of this righteous man: “If I had a third daughter, I would give her to Uthman in marriage.” (Al-Asbahani)

He gave his youngest daughter Fatimah (rtaf) in marriage to Ali ibn Abu Talib (rtam), who stood at the forefront in almost all of the important battles of the Muslims. The Prophet (sa) respected his daughters and never forced husbands of his choice upon them. He always sought their opinion. After Ali (rtam) had asked for Fatimah’s (rtaf) hand in marriage, he informed her about it in a subtle way: “Ali mentioned you.” Fatimah’s shy silence was a sign of her acceptance, and they were married. (Ibn Sad)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) tried to help in solving the marital problems of his daughters and encouraged happiness and harmony among the spouses. One day, having come to visit his youngest daughter, the Prophet (sa) did not find Ali (rtam) there. When he found out that they had had a small marital argument, the Prophet (sa) went in search of him and found Ali (rtam) in the Masjid, where he was sleeping on the floor. Carefully clearing away the soil from Ali’s (rtam) face, he woke him up, in order to help the couple make up. (Bukhari)

When the Prophet (sa) saw the necklace of his deceased wife, Khadijah (rtaf), which was sent from Makkah by his daughter Zaynab as ransom for her husband, Abu al-As, who had not yet converted to Islam, he could not remain indifferent. He asked the permission of Muslims to release his daughter’s husband and let him go back to her to Makkah. He received their permission. (Abu Dawood)

When the Muslim army went out for their first decisive battle against the disbelievers of Makkah, the Prophet (sa) left Uthman ibn Affan (rtam) in Madinah with his daughter Ruqayyah (rtaf), who was ill at the time, thus showing by this action that caring for relatives is of utmost importance in any situation.

Yet, at the same time, he did not give his daughters any privileges, which would raise them above other Muslims. He said about his youngest daughter, who resembled him like no one else in the way she spoke and walked: “I swear by Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, would steal, I would cut off her arm.” (Bukhari)

One day, the Prophet (sa) noticed Fatimah (rtaf) entering his home. Since there were guests in the Prophet’s (sa) home, she left straight away. The next day, he went to visit her, in order to inquire why she had come. Fatimah (rtaf) did not say anything, but Ali (rtam) explained that he had requested her to ask from him a servant. Due to the hard work, the skin on her hands had become very rough; due to sweeping the floor, her clothes were dirty. To this, the Prophet (sa) answered: “Oh Fatimah, fear Allah (swt) and fulfil your duties in front of your Lord by doing the household chores. But when you go to sleep, recite Subhan’Allah thirty-three times, Alhumdulillah thirty-three times and Allahu Akbar thirty-four times, together one hundred, and this will be better for you than having a servant in your home.” (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (sa) did not try to gift the Dunya to his daughters. He always pointed to the importance of the Akhira, especially when there was a choice between the two. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah has analyzed that the one who will recite the above mentioned Dhikr before sleeping will not be overcome by tiredness, because the Prophet (sa) presented it as a solution to this particular complaint. It should also be mentioned that the Prophet (sa) himself, being the best among people, never looked down upon household chores and always helped his wives. This was narrated by his youngest wife Aisha (rtaf), when she was asked about what the Prophet (sa) would do while he was at home: “He did house chores together with his family, but when the time for Salah arrived, he went to the Masjid.” (Bukhari)

May Allah (swt) help us appreciate and emulate the Prophet’s (sa) example and reap unaccountable benefits resulting from it. Ameen.

The Demon of Dowry

Vol 4-Issue 3 The Demon of DowryIt all starts with the birth of a girl. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief.” (An-Nahl 16:58)

Preference for sons prevails mostly in India, China, Pakistan and the Gulf States. Deliberate abortion of female fetuses is not rare: every year, approximately a million female abortions are reported in India alone. “When the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) is questioned: ‘For what sin was she killed?’” (At-Takwir 81:8-9)

It’s not just men, who perceive the births of girls this way; women are also perpetrators of the ‘sons-are-better’ ideology for several reasons. One of them is the anticipation of a future financial burden on the father. A girl has to be provided for by her guardian; she does not mature into a breadwinner. Rather, she goes into another family. Thanks to the Hindu custom of ‘Jahaiz’ or dowry, marrying a girl off after she has been raised can be an even bigger hurdle. The father starts stressing years in advance, about how he will provide each of his daughters with a ‘proper’ dowry.

Dowry is an amount of money, goods or possessions given to the bride by her family at the time of her marriage, in order to attract a good husband. All of which, in effect, become the property of the husband or his family after marriage.

In actuality, the matter of fathers giving their daughters monetary gifts, property, enormous wedding feasts or furnished homes should be left to their own discretion. However, girls are given dowries because they are deliberately left out of the family inheritance. Although, Islam enjoins that each heir be given his share of inheritance – male or female – and prohibits ostentation, extravagance and unlawful acquisition of wealth. To some extent the custom of dowry involves all three of these vices.

A gift is something someone happily and willingly gives; it is not demanded. When Jahaiz is demanded by the bridegroom’s family, it’s a way of acquiring wealth by twisting another’s arm. How can one expect a marriage to be blessed, when at its initiation it best resembles a business transaction, in which each party tries to maximize its own profit?

Even if the bridegroom’s family wants to adhere to Islamic injunctions and renounces dowry, at times the bride’s female family members insist on the custom. The absence of a grand trousseau and an impressive banquet displayed to their social circle is a sign of disgrace for them because: “What will people think?”

Hearsay at weddings involves typical questions: “How many dresses have been made for her trousseau?”, “How much did the crockery cost?”, “How many jewellery sets did she get?”

The bride is sometimes trained to treat everything provided by her in-laws with disdain. She starts her married life expecting only her parents ‘proudly’ provide her with everything she needs. Gifts given by in-laws are usually discarded or not used.

In Islam, it is the husband who provides for his wife after marriage. He has to give her a monetary gift known as dower or Mahr, which the Quran describes as a Fareedah – an obligatory due. “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridAl-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” (An-Nisa 4:4)

“All others are lawful, provided you seek (them in marriage) with Mahr (bridAl-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) from your property, desiring chastity, not committing illegal sexual intercourse, so with those of whom you have enjoyed sexual relations, give them their Mahr as prescribed.” (An-Nisa 4:24)

Whenever a Companion wanted to get married, Prophet Muhammad (sa) would ask him, what he had which could serve as Mahr. When Ali (rta) was marrying Fatimah (rta), the Prophet (sa) went so far as to help him provide modest household items for her, as he was Ali’s (rta) guardian. This proves that if a Muslim bridegroom needs help in setting up a home for marriage, he should be helped, especially by his own guardian.

Sometimes the bride’s family demands an exorbitant Mahr for her, ignoring the spirit of Ihsan endorsed by Islam. This makes it difficult for younger men to marry, thus opening the door to such evils as dating and fornication.

Prevalence of the dowry custom not only jeopardizes the lives of future female infants and makes marriage difficult for girls in general, but also becomes a menace to low-income groups. Despite the existence of laws that prohibit excessive dowry, it is not unusual to find every mother under severe pressure of ‘honorably marrying off’ her daughters. She goes asking door-to-door for monetary help, incurring huge debts to throw lavish wedding feasts and live up to societal expectations.

What can we do to eradicate this custom? In 1976, the government of Pakistan passed a law – the Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restriction Act – that prohibited dowry above a specific amount. Sadly, to little effect. Existence of laws can only be effective, if people have Taqwah. The change can come about only if Muslim families truly fear Allah (swt) when performing marriages. How?

By giving precedence to piety over materialism, Allah’s (swt) pleasure over people’s expectations, and fully trusting in Allah (swt) for girl’s well-being after marriage.

Not asking questions about dowry when attending a wedding.

Remembering that girls are provided for and protected by the Best of Providers – Allah (swt).

Even if a few marriages take place with an average Mahr and no dowry, the bridal couple accepting an initially mediocre standard of living can set a trend for others to follow.

Maybe then the birth of a daughter would bring genuine happiness.