Life plays harder- Until you find the secret soft corner!

Image Courtesy www.save-image.com

 

Everybody goes through his own set of tribulations, and it’s very rare that people have a happy time all their life; such people are rare.

But Ibn Abbas (ra) said that the foundation of  Dunya ‘world’ is tribulation.

The best worship is waiting for the ease from Allah (swt) to come when you’re in hardship.

So if Muslims would just have that perspective, they would realize that if they are just patient here, with all these tribulations- it will surely pay off later in Jannah. While being patient, we are in Ibadah (worship); we can just be sitting in our house, and if you’re ‘Muhtasib’ (engaged in Hisba) with Allah (swt), you’re in Ibadah (worship of Allah (swt)).

But if, you are there complaining- why always me? And everything is horrible; and it’s doom and gloom; and it’s all black and it’s all dark; Allah (swt) will give you more things to complain about. And, He’ll give you some real things to complain about because there is a Hadeeth- if you complain about small calamities, Allah (swt) gives you greater calamities.

That’s why, Ibn Abbas (ra) said that in every Nikmah (tribulation), there are three Ni’mah (blessing); in every tribulation, there are three blessings.

And, the first one is that it could be worse than it is. That it’s in your worldly matters, and not in your Deen like if you lose money, its money; but if you lose Deen, you lost everything- so that’s a Ni’mah (blessing).

If you think about it, he didn’t say:  “Don’t give us any calamities,” he said: “Don’t give us tribulation in our Deen!” We’re going to get tribulation, and we know that, because that’s the nature of Dunya. So, you are going to get tribulation, but don’t make it in Deen- make it in Dunya. That’s a Ni’mah that you lost your job, Alhumdulillah. I didn’t miss my prayers, Alhumdulillah.  I didn’t lose my Iman (faith), Alhumdulillah. There is Wudhu (ablution) area, and a place to pray Alhumdulillah. Because jobs come and go, but Deen- once it’s gone, Allahu Alam (Allah (swt) knows best) if  you’ll ever get it back.

Then the final one, it’s in this world. As long as the Musibah (difficulty) is in this world- it’s a Ni’mah, because the real Musibah is the Musibah in the next world. Hence, if you look at that and realize, we are in blessing Wallahi- the whole lot of us; some may be more than others outwardly, but the whole of  Ummah is in blessing Wallahi….

Transcribed for Hiba by Faiza Rizwan

[Reflections] Why I Wear the Hijab

hijab                                                    Image Courtesy www. eislaminfo.blogspot.com

 

I start with His praise for it is Allah (swt) who guides me each day, and His infinite mercy sustains me for my every breath.

Recently, I was asked by somebody to write a piece for Hijab Day about my journey and my experience wearing Hijab. I was thrown into a bit of a dilemma- as this was a case of, “Well I don’t really celebrate any days as such!”; and not wanting to be offensive, as I knew he in his own right was being sincere. I wrote this over night as I decided to go with how I feel. I didn’t think that this is what was wanted out of me, but I have found that I can only find words when I speak from the heart, or I can’t say anything at all. This is what I wrote, but I didn’t give it in as I felt there could not be a competition for what each of us feels.

I don’t need a day to define the Muslimah that lives inside of me.  Every day for me is a Hijab day. Although, we go through our trials, and are in the various stages of life, but I do not call my Hijab a struggle. For me- it is a source of comfort of beauty,  peace, love, and an integral part of Deen. I don’t need days and I don’t need symbols- but I do need Him, His guidance, His mercy, and even, the people He sends as friends, as teachers, and as fellow travellers throughout this journey.

Years ago, somebody told me during that tough phase when I first wore the Hijab- that this is just a sip of the ocean. Truly, I have found that Deen is so much more than that sip. It is the ocean of life; holding onto Deen, and trying not to deviate- is the real challenge.

I come from a secular back ground, where after several years, the smallest insult to my face is that I am insane. I hear stories about my past as if there was never a time of repentance. I am told by near and dear ones that I may not be forgiven. After all, I came into it so late. After all, wasn’t I so terrible? And yes, I was; and yes, I have repented; and yes, it still goes round and round in my head. Could I have been better? Could I not have done more? For me- the depth of my madness is a normal conversation; for me- this is a normal day.

I don’t ask for sympathy for what is the point in asking for it when I look at His mercy, and I know that He chose me- the lowest of all the repentant sinners to be on His path; the one who forgot Him, but was not forgotten by Him. What I do ask for is forgiveness; and that He makes it easy for all of us. This is not a rant nor this is a complaint- this is plainly the lives of many. I am just the same story in another book which can go into volumes. But each of our stories does matter to our own selves.

When Allah (swt) wants to purify a soul, he tests it through trial and tribulation. Every soul goes through this in its own different ways.

So, here we are after each insult that broke us down; you see it only broke us to re-shape us. If you felt torn apart, it was only to weave you into something stronger.

This madness has made me weep; it has made me cry; and it has made me love. If this is what it is, and the end leads to something far better than what my human mind can fathom, then let me live in my madness.

Those who know me have known my story of “love”. So, this is not a speech of grief. This is truly a story of wanting more of that ocean. I turn everything around as this is the way I will fight. You see I love my Rabb.

And I do it for His love. I love my Prophet (sa) and I love my Deen. I find no embarrassment in secular groups to say it.  And because of this love, I also love my sisters for the sake of Allah (swt).

I cannot compare my stories to any struggling Muslimah- as sometimes when I hear others relate their lives- I am humbled by the strength of the women in this Ummah. But our stories don’t end here, do they? We will go back home. and we will struggle, and we will live some more, and that is how we will move each day.

We do what we do with love for the sake of Him; that love for which there are not enough words in the human language to describe.

When you think of who you’re doing it for, it becomes easy to close chapters and lay certain pages of life to rest- knowing deep in your heart- He has other stories for you. Better plans than we can possibly imagine. I am not just speaking about the Hijab. I speak about our way of life. Imagine, the Mercy upon us when we could have been of those unaware.

From the Creator who has written millions of beautiful journeys, you should be assured, He has got yours covered every step of the way.

After all, “Wa Huwa Ala Kulli Shai in Qadeer”.  He is powerful over everything. So, engrave this belief into your soul.

Yes, I know there are days; but just believe each day will be a good day. For even if you have slept with a face soaked in tears, wake up knowing He is still with you.  For He is As-Sami (The All-Hearer); and He does listen to your Dua- the one you made when you felt there was nobody there. And, He is Al-Wadud (The Ever Loving) – the one who loves you the most. He has all the beautiful names that belong to Him.

And, this great entity, Al-Azeem (The Magnificent) chose us to be on His path; always watching over us, protecting us, loving us, guiding His slaves to Jannah; guiding us back to Him.

When you think of all the things you are hit with; when it seems you are flooded; just then, right at that moment, find that knowledge within you; the knowledge that He will never leave you, and it is then you can truly feel this beautiful realization; that feeling which comes from within; when you utter from the depth of your soul, when you cry out and truly mean the words, Alhumdulillahi Rabb il Aalameen. When you know and understand in that moment of relief that all praise truly belongs to Him.

Repentent sinner

Struggling Muslimah

Human.

HijabCanary

Bringing Deen in your child’s heart

quran_childThere is a good difference between teaching Deen and making your child love Deen. Teaching comes very easily; you have to instruct your children to pray, greet with peace, to be honest at all times, and to avoid all kinds of sins. They will practise it as long as they are under your supervision, but it cannot be guaranteed in your absence. In order to make them really want to do the righteous acts you have to instil love for the Deen in their hearts.
Don’t scare them with imaginary beings.

It is the most common practise in our society that, as adults, we are prone to scaring kids using imaginary beings with some horrible made-up names. It temporarily solves the problem, but in the long run, it will not do any good. First of all, it will make your child feel deceived when he or she will discover that a scary being as such never existed. Then, it will make your child think that it is alright to lie; and then, they might lie to you as well for small and big matters. Lastly, they will never get to realize the Greatness of Allah (swt).
Instead, tell them about Allah (swt), the Most Merciful, the Most Gracious. If it is about finishing their homework, tell them that since Allah (swt) has blessed them with the opportunity to study at a school, they should thank Him by finishing their school work. If you want them to finish their food, or eat a particular dish they don’t like, tell them about how Allah (swt) will be pleased if he or she eats the food Allah (swt) has blessed your family with.

Increase their trust in Allah (swt)
Increasing your children’s trust in Allah (swt) will help to make their perception about the Judgement Day, the existence of Hell and Paradise stronger. Start doing it from a very young age. Each time they are worried, tell them that Allah (swt) is with them at all times. When your children are afraid to go to school because you will not be there, let them know that even though you can’t be there, Allah (swt) will be looking after them. This makes the existence of Allah (swt) more real to children, and they start feeling protected by Allah (swt).

Make them realize their value in the sight of Allah (swt)
We all know and must believe that Allah (swt) loves each one of us more than anyone else in this world. Children will only know that when they will persistently hear from their parents. Also, for this reason, you need to avoid taunting your children about something they are not good at, or scold them unnecessarily.

Let your children know that Allah (swt) loves them more than you do or anyone else does. Make them realize the blessings Allah (swt) has showered them with. Let them know that the happiness they receive is by the blessings of Allah (swt), and that is only because they mean a lot to Allah (swt).

Don’t shun them for wrong deeds
When you catch children doing something wrong, don’t shun them or isolate them. Instead ask them to repent and rectify their mistakes. Explain to them why it is wrong to commit a sin, or to go against the commandments of Allah (swt); and that Allah (swt) is the most forgiving if they decide not to repeat their mistake.

Rewards are more effective than punishments
It is very easy to punish your children, and punishments will eventually stop your children from doing the wrong act; but better than this is to reward them for the good deeds. By rewarding, you will increase the chances of them going good deeds again.

The reward does not have to be materialistic all the time. You can juggle between rewarding with a toy, chocolate, their favourite food, reading them their favourite book, playing a game with them that they enjoy or simply encouraging them with words.

Do what you preach
‘Do what you preach’ is the most important rule that parents forget to apply when teaching their children anything. Children learn more from your actions than from your words. If you tell them that we are not supposed to lie, then you should be careful of not lying as well. If you ask them to perform the prayers on time, then they must see you doing the same.

Allow open and friendly discussions
You can only expect your children to take you seriously, if they have that trust that you are not trying to boss them- but rather, you care for them. Take some time out every day to sit and talk to your children. Let them be open enough to discuss their doubts and confusions, especially when it comes to the Deen. Do your best not to show your irritation even if you do get irritated by their questions. Of course, there always have to be this certain boundary that you will have to maintain; but, as long as, they are really serious about asking a question, you don’t have to be too hard on them.

Randomly tell them prophetic stories
I have heard this complaint from a lot of parents that their kids enjoy listening to stories; but whenever they take that opportunity to tell them Islamic tales, they quickly lose their interest, and the whole purpose of telling that story gets destroyed.

My advice is to start the story in a general manner. You don’t have use the name of the Prophet right at the start of the story. Start with telling the story and try to grasp your child’s interest with the whereabouts of the story. Whenever we are telling kids stories of the Prophets, we focus more on their names and less on the moral of the story; whereas. children are always more interested in what the story is all about. So, once you have gained the attention get to the name of the Prophet.

Introduce them to the words of Allah (swt)
Making your children learn and memorize the Quran is an excellent act. But, along with that make them understand the meaning of the verses they recite is important. Quran has covered all topics related to our lives. What could be a better way to educate your children than with the words of Allah (swt).

Instilling Deen in your child’s heart is easier said than done. But, if you do it with pure intentions, Allah (swt) is sure to help you. May Allah (swt) be pleased with all the efforts you put in to bring up a pious offspring. Ameen.

The Wow-Woman in You

wowWhat do we love the most in winter? Blankets, of course!

There must be a good reason for stepping out of the bed early on a Sunday morning and going all the way to the IBA main campus. However, I managed to go, as I had to attend a workshop about “Finding the Wow-Woman in You” – who wouldn’t want to attend an event that sounded so good?

In the workshop, five speakers gave talks on various topics related to women: the worth of a Muslim woman, Islamic perspective on woman’s career, stories of female companions (ra) and self-esteem issues in young girls. The actual workshop activities were carried out by a renowned former business journalist and sustainability consultant Khadijah Balkhi.

Following description is based upon the lessons that I learnt from her speech and the activities she conducted with us. Her session really helped me in analyzing myself from different perspectives. I hope it becomes beneficial for those sisters who could not attend the workshop. (Note: This is not a transcript of her speech.)

Activity 1:

  • Who is the ‘Wow-Woman’ in your life?
  • Mention three of her characteristics, which inspired you the most. Remember – three is just a number; you can go up to a hundred and above.

This will give you a clear idea about your understanding of a successful and influential woman, while also making a pathway for you to become one yourself. But what if you aren’t inspired by anyone? Well, that’s a problem in itself! Try to stay in the company of people, who are at a higher level than you religiously, and who can inspire you towards an Islamic lifestyle.

After this, she shared her experience of returning to the original practices of Islam, which meant that wearing Hijab became more important than conducting training sessions for hundreds of men. She continued saying that one cannot do everything in life, implying that we are always required to make certain choices in order to become the Wow-Woman.

Here, ‘wow’ symbolizes a state, where a woman is so close to Allah (swt) that we perceive her as ‘wow’.

Here, ‘wow’ symbolizes a state, where a woman is so close to Allah (swt) that we perceive her as ‘wow’. However, before working to get the Qurb of Allah (swt), it is important for us to identify the barriers, which are taking us away from His love and care. For instance, in case of Ms. Balkhi, it was her career, which she later chose to give up for the sake of Deen. It does not mean that every Muslim woman should quit her job; rather, it only means that if your job or your dream is based upon the violation of Allah’s (swt) Deen, then there is certainly no good in it. She further clarified that everyone has a different situation, and, therefore, a woman has to evaluate her career choices critically, so that she can pursue her passions, while remaining close to Allah (swt).

“Don’t feel the pressure to do things, which you aren’t required to do!”

Similarly, on the other side, Allah (swt) has blessed women with unmatched intellect and knowledge, so why use them for His disobedience?

This led us to another activity.

Activity 2:

  • List down things, which are holding you back from His Deen.
  • List down number of ways, which you can use to tune them.

Subsequently, Ms. Balkhi shared her valuable insight on Nafi – negation or canceling out something. Negation is important, because technically we can focus only on one thing, and our focus of attention should be on nothing else but the pleasure of Allah (swt). This helps us in developing clear values and preferences for the rest of our lives.

Make a mental note of things-to-do and things-not-to-do. Once this is done, aim to become a Wow-Woman. For achieving it, we need to make heavy investments in our environment, which is as simple as moving into gatherings which are filled with the Dhikr of Allah (swt) and the presence of His loving slaves. This will significantly help us in bringing out the best of ourselves, Insha’Allah.

Activity 3:

  • List down things which you think are positive in your life.
  • List down your wow-factors from an Islamic perspective.

Ms. Balkhi concluded her speech with a wonderful advice, which relieved my heart and truly became a source of inspiration for me. She said to do away with the useless messages of society (false ideologies, peer pressure, family traditions, social expectations, etc.), so that you are able to see yourself clearly and spend time with people, who help you in exploring yourself. Most importantly, pray for your guidance and remember that you can have Deen + career; however, at times, you have to choose one of them – so be ready for making the right choice, whenever required.

The Dua that changed my World

dua(This was one of the entries received as part of the story writing competition 2014)

Making Duas was never important to me. I always used to think that since Allah (swt) knows what is in my heart, He will listen to me. Consequently, there was no conscious effort in my Salah or otherwise to make Dua during rain, or between Adhan and Iqamah, in prostration, after reciting Quran, after Fard Salah, on Friday, while travelling, before opening a fast or at the time of Tahajjud. However, my thinking and understanding of the Deen changed considerably after my new homecoming to Deen.

It was something magical and surreal. There was something divine about this change. It made me happy and satisfied. It completed me. It gave me an identity and put my aching heart, wandering mind and unrest soul at peace!

My life took 360 degrees turn four years ago. A lecture at a friend’s house, followed by a few lectures at Markaz Al-Huda in Sharjah, and my heart gradually attached to the Deen.

It happened immediately after I realised that I had been wasting my life. I had surrounded myself only with things that would drift me away from the Deen, rather than bring closer. This realization was painful but satisfying. It put me to shame, but I was grateful to Allah (swt) that He opened up my mind to this reality.

The next big challenge was to remain steadfast upon the change. Guess what helped me to continuously come closer to Allah (swt), seek His pleasure, and increase the knowledge of Deen? The Duas, of course! My favourite Dua at that time and even today is: “Ya Muqqalib Al-Quloobi, Thabbit Qalbi, ‘Alaa Deenik.” (“O, turner of the hearts, make my heart steadfast upon your Deen.”) (Muslim)

I learnt some very meaningful Duas and started reciting them regularly, Alhamdulillah. Each one of it sounds more beautiful and meaningful, since now I make a conscious effort of learning the meaning in English and reciting the Dua in Arabic. Slowly and gradually, my misconception of the fact that Duas are not answered faded away, as I saw, in front of my eyes, my Duas being answered, irrespective of the language… one by one, Alhamdulillah!

Just like many of my sisters and brothers in Islam must have discovered the power of Dua, I too am discovering and enjoying it. In fact, sometimes a Dua that I have asked for is answered beautifully, and it leaves me awe struck and amazed. Sometimes the Duas are answered as I have asked, while at other times my Duas are in fact replaced by something better than I could never have imagined. I have been experiencing the miraculous beauty of the bond between the Creator and His servant getting stronger, Subhan’Allah!

To think of any single Dua that was answered is difficult for me at this point in time, because like I said, Allah (swt) has been so Merciful, Masha’Allah, that when He guided me to His Deen, He made ways of bringing me closer to Him, day by day. The recent Dua that I made, was answered in a manner I could have never imagined – I will share with you this beautiful incident.

My seventy-three years old mother was sick in Pakistan. I had seen her in 2011, and in 2014 she fell really sick. I told my family back home that I was coming from Canada, because I wanted to meet her. This was in February, this year. I went and spent 12 days with her, Alhamdulillah. During this time, she recovered from her illness and seemed to recuperate day by day. What happened to her? Well, a mix of multiple problems. She had angina, breast cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, hernia, and in February she developed severe bronchitis, due to which she used to have breathing problems, as water would fill up in her lungs. To top it all, old age itself is a big problem. When I came back and saw her for the last time on the 8th of March, my heart was aching and my tears wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want to come back to Canada, but I had to!

After coming here, I got busy with various chores. We were moving from Toronto to Mississauga. The kids were starting Hifz program here. Then I slipped from the stairs of my new house. There was too much on my plate at that time. I used to call mummy on Sundays and speak to her for a while. I used to make a lot of Dua for her health.

I remember vividly the Sunday before she passed away – I couldn’t call her, as we were going somewhere. In the car, while it was raining outside, and we were travelling to a relative’s house, I made a sincere Dua to Allah (swt). I begged him to relieve my mother of all the pain and never make her dependant on anyone. I prayed to Allah (swt) to ease her of all her sufferings and trials. I prayed for her to die peacefully, as a Shaheed, whenever her time came. I was deeply saddened by the fact that I wasn’t close to her and I couldn’t serve her or do anything for her, except make Dua.

That night in the bed and all the nights that followed, I repeated the same Dua. I didn’t want my mother to suffer any more, as I had always seen her sick. She had always been a fighter. The following Thursday, on the 12th of June, 2014, she passed away – peacefully – in her bed, Alhamdulillah!

I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t happy about the fact that I didn’t speak to her on the last Sunday that she was alive, but I was grateful to Allah (swt) that she died in her own bed, not in the hospital. She went away without giving trouble to any of my siblings. I sincerely hope and pray that she had recited the Kalimah, when she passed away. I beg all the readers of this insignificant note to recite this Dua for my mother with me:

“O Allah (swt), forgive and have mercy upon her, excuse her and pardon her, and make an honourable reception for her. Expand her entry and cleanse her with water, snow and ice, and purify her of sin, as a white robe is purified of filth. Exchange her home for a better home, and her family for a better family, and her spouse for a better spouse. Admit her into the Gardens, protect her from the punishment of the grave and the torment of the Fire.” Ameen. (Muslim)

Transformation to my true self

lotusMany women in my country are driven by cultural stereotypes and nationalism, peer pressure and irrational societal norms. Those who have ‘groomed’ themselves with education and negated cultural slavery, are somewhere trapped in the complicated maze of modernity and westernization. Over and above, those who tend to cover themselves, do it inappropriately by force or misuse the covering garment for illegal purposes.

Till twenty-two years of age, I was not taught the exact conditions, prerequisites, importance and the prescribed method of Hijab, as given in Surah An-Nur, Surah Al-Ahzab and the Sahih Ahadeeth of Messenger (sa). A very rigid socio-cultural way of covering had been taught to me by my elders and family, without the main rules regarding adornment and covering in front of Mahram and non-Mahram men. The very rationale given to me to cover myself did not match the course as outlined in the Quran. Social acceptance was at the core of the cultural teaching of covering and never did I realize that I had to cover because Allah (swt) loved His female servants in that attire and Jilbab, as He loved beauty and modesty!

All praise is for the Creator, the Cherisher, the Sustainer, the Loving and the Most Merciful! He guided me, and I was able to dive thoroughly into the origin, history, logic, benefits and the immense reward of covering myself. Haya, the central theme had never occurred to me like it did, as I leafed through the pages of various books and commentaries of Surah An-Nur and Surah Al-Ahzab.

If I look back to my teenage years, I have emotionally suffered solely because of the lack of knowledge of Deen I had. I was struggling to develop an identity for myself amidst false attachments to the Dunya and addiction to people. Having been obese and exceptionally tall, I received remarks and comments that made my soul shriek out. Indirectly, the evil of self (Nafs) and Satan’s planning were well-tuned; I turned to flaunting, showing off, weight loss, obsession with body talk, idealizing female celebrities and what not. What I had observed and learnt in that age hindered my learning about my Deen. My priorities and attitudes as a girl were exactly defying what my Rabb had taught in His Quran.

If I look back to my teenage years, I have emotionally suffered solely because of the lack of knowledge of Deen I had. I was struggling to develop an identity for myself amidst false attachments to the Dunya

After the transformation, I have found my soul and understood the Fitrah I was born with. I was programmed to naturally incline towards modesty and beauty, and Hijab means both. I can be myself with my outer garment and face veil (Jilbab and Niqab). I was concerned about social approval when thinking about how my dress should be before.

Now, I just feel awe-inspiring and extremely content when I think about how Allah (swt) loves me and will reward me in Jannah for covering myself. Hijab has set me free from cultural slavery, age old traditional myths, and the modern and westernized traps of Satan. It has healed me from the identity crisis I was suffering from. I am a twenty-four years old Muslim woman, and I wear the Hijab (Jilbab or Chador), just to please my Creator, Who sent the Quran as a manual/code of conduct.

When a baby is born, it needs support and guidance to live. Can a machine be operated without reading its manual? How can a human being, Allah’s (swt), the Creator’s best creation, thrive without reading, understanding and acting as per the manual revealed by the Creator Himself? How can a Muslim woman dress or carry herself without reading that manual? The Quran and Hadeeth are for us to learn, implement and share with others.

Allah (swt) empowered me with Hijab to wake me up from the slumber I was in; denying the reality of my Fitrah, Haya and the Akhirah. I understand life and Deen very clearly from under my Jilbab. Many of the infections I was suffering from on a spiritual level have been healed, Alhumdulillah!

I want to be the beloved of Allah (swt) and one of the hints Allah (swt) has given me in the Noble Quran to seek His pleasure is to cover myself. He is my Creator, my Owner! He loves to see me covered like a precious pearl; then why shouldn’t I remove the doubts and regrets in my heart about the rigid, irrational ways of society that go against the guidance He revealed through Prophet (sa).

I see many sisters stuck in the same mental state and frustration of preferring culture over religion. Allah (swt), the author of Noble Quran, wrote in the introductory chapter of the Quran,

“This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained).” (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

This is the book, for you and me, in which there is absolutely no doubt. If we don’t understand this, we will never be able to defeat the doubts that are stored in our minds. I had a doubt in my mind that the Quran restricts the woman, but rather it sets me free. We need to crush these doubts and replace them with the illumination Quran gives us regarding the Hijab, even if we start step by step. One must do it by first understanding it herself and then the need to do it. We are the servants of Allah (swt) and we need to seek His pleasure in everything we do.

After the transformation, I have found my soul and understood the Fitrah I was born with. I was programmed to naturally incline towards modesty and beauty, and Hijab means both.

The laws and guidelines in the Quran and Hadeeth regarding Hijab have to be followed first and foremost due to total submission to our Rabb. Lastly, the way this Hijab acts as a reality check, it helps me monitor my actions outside and inside my home. It defines me from the core of my soul; it gives a title to my personality and it empowers me as a woman. It teaches me to grow, learn, write, implement and teach all for the love of Allah (swt). One of the automated reminders this transformation gives me is to repent and turn back to Allah (swt).

To my sisters in Islam, our lost souls belong to Him! Initiate and embrace Hijab. Begin by drawing near to Allah (swt) by a span of your hand! It was reported by Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt), the Exalted and Glorious, said: I am as My servant expects Me and I am with him as he remembers Me. By Allah, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His servant than how one of you would be on finding the lost camel in the waterless desert. When he draws near Me by the span of his hand, I draw near him by the length of a cubit. And when he draws near Me by the length of a cubit, I draw near him by the length of a fathom. And when he draws near Me walking, I draw close to him quickly.” (Bukhari)

I am being myself and this is where I belong!

Back to My Deen


jankie / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And that was the moment of dawn. I had always been negative about my family being too pressing about practicing the Deen; even the very minute details of it. Sometimes, I felt it just got too hard on me. I – being a typical teenager, studying the typical academic curriculum in a typical academy. Yes, I was no different from the typical Karachite teenager girl. My family wasn’t that typical though; they were conscious Muslims, pushing me onto the As-Sirat-e-Mustaqeem to their best, while I stayed persistent in my search for new excuses to fend away their instructions.

All praise to Allah (swt) only, the blissful day came, when I finally agreed upon getting enrolled in an Islamic institute for a formal Islamic education. At the time of admission, I was a tad bit distressed to see the staff wearing a scarf and gown, scurrying about. The very thought of picturing myself in the same attire was quite nabbing. Since I had missed out on the orientation day, the management offered me to join that day only so as to avoid missing out on the following day’s work. I hesitantly agreed and was led to the lecture hall.

The air inside was grasping. Hardly a moment after my entrance, the period was signalled over by the mesmerizing recitation of the Quran, resonating through the insulated walls. And much to my disbelief, the only sound that reverberated in the midst of the recitation breaks was that of ruffling bags and a soft thump of books being placed against the desks. Not the slightest of whisperings could be heard from the tired dozens, nor could I spot them mouthing signals to each other. All I saw was a multiple pair of hands raised to their chest level, eyes focused upon them, mouths vibrating to the playing audio. As the Dua finished, I looked around and found the most charming and polite girls in such a big number altogether; they filed out neatly for some other activity. I joined them up, my heart trembling with the uncertainty the future is impregnated with.

The next two days proved to be of some of the best days that I treasure. All around me were girls fairly my age, exhibiting lovely smiles and offering lively Salams. Although, I would feel odd amongst them intermittently, the feeling was not that much dominant, and I was often at ease. They all seemed to be a part of one family, and I – a newcomer to them. Basically, the general impression that I perceived was that they all belonged to highly religious, dedicated families, even more than mine, and were perseverant Muslims as individuals.

Days passed, and the new month began. The van fee was due by the fifth of that month. My dad dutifully cleared the charges well in time. On the morning of the fifth, as I sat with my new friends in a circle before the lessons started, the talk was casually diverted to our social problems. I was much taken-aback and awed, as I intently learned the mind-boggling scenarios they were captured in. One of them, a fresh-graduate dentist, lamented about her dad’s resentful attitude towards her Islamic affiliation. He termed her as an ‘extremist’. Another eighteen-year-old narrated with sagging shoulders but gleaming eyes: “My dad already has big problems with my scarf. I wonder the shock he’ll be in, when he sees me veiled, Insha’Allah.” A third one had a similar story, too. “My parents reckon I’m going wacko with my veil and gloves and shoed feet, compared to my previous exhibition of the latest fashion, they totally think so.”

Before it got too long, I shot an inquisitive look at the many distressed, endeavouring souls and inquired plainly: “Err, I can empathize with you. I mean, I really feel sorry for you, but surely, they are your parents and they love you and all, so it’s just a bunch of intimidating responses for the time being, right?” The dentist managed a hoarse snort-kind-of-laugh and explained: “The time being? I wonder if it would ever end before the finish of this course. Do you know we’ve been holding off the van driver for our fee payment these past five agitating days? Can you imagine the utter shame and abashment we get drenched in, as we walk out of our bungalows each morning, the driver’s judging gaze whipping us up expectantly, his tongue going haywire inside his mouth, as he resists an accountability from us, the luxury of our shipshape houses mocking at our failure to produce a skimpy amount of fee for our daily conveyance, just because our parents are adamant to have us leave this place.”

The mesmeric recitation began, and I was cut short. I thanked Allah (swt) for His countless blessings upon me, and for the timely commencement of the Tilawah, for I was lost speechless. And that precise moment, it dawned upon me that all through my life, I had been a Muslim by chance, rather, by force. With the Ameen of the Al-Fatiha echoing in my ears deafeningly, I solemnly pledged to myself to become a Muslim by choice – a choice that only the chanciest of people get to avail.

My Deen is Green – Final Part

Aside

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“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.” (Al-Baqarah 2:164)

Allah’s (swt) created world, in which He has placed the humankind, is full of His signs. One of the signs of Allah (swt) is the change that naturally occurs in the world: the succession of seasons, the rhythm of night and day, and the death of plants followed by their revival. The laws of nature and the interdependency of ecosystems are His other signs – we, as Muslims, should strive to understand them and live in harmony with all of Allah’s (swt) creation. After all, living green is part of our Deen. Here are a few tips on how to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly.

Adjust your habits in accordance with the change of seasons: Alhumdulillah, the five daily calls for prayers establish the best rhythm for our days. As their timings change throughout the year, we should also try to adjust our lifestyles to the change. Staying awake after Fajr throughout the year would mean that we can make the most of the natural sunlight, and save on electrical lights. If we learn to accept that summers are hot and winters are cold, we can stop trying to control our environment by excessive use of air-conditioning and heating systems. It’s healthier and more eco-friendly to use fans instead of ACs in summers, and to dress warmly in winter instead of overheating houses. Technical inventions are there to make our lives easier and more comfortable. However, for us Muslims, earthly pleasures should not be priorities; rather we should use modern conveniences in moderation, bearing in mind the burden that their use puts on the planet.

Choose nature-friendly entertainment: To appreciate Allah’s (swt) signs and His blessings on the Earth, we should try to discover more of the beauty of nature. Allah’s Messenger (sa) has described the good things on Earth as ‘wealth sweet and green’, and green is also the colour associated with Paradise. Instead of letting your family spend a day in front of the TV, computer or a video game, go out and discover the natural beauty around you. And once you will learn to appreciate it, you will be more likely to protect it – both on the basic level by not spoiling the landscape with litter, and in bigger ways by embracing a more environment-friendly approach to life.

Walk more, drive less: Technical inventions have made our lives easier but have they changed it for the better? Mass transport using fossil fuels seriously affects the planet, damaging the atmosphere and using up natural fuel resources. The modern habit of driving everywhere along with the design of cities which forces people to use motor transport, also puts more strain on our health – as we walk less and do altogether less physical exercise, we are more likely to develop certain illnesses, such as heart disease, which significantly impact our quality of life. We cannot give up cars and other means of transport completely, and we know that without them travelling great distances would be impossible for most of us. However, we should reduce the negative impact on the planet by choosing to walk instead of drive whenever possible, share our car with more passengers and opt for more eco-friendly fuel solutions, such as CNG installations.

De-clutter and simplify: The more material wealth we possess, the more time and energy we waste taking care of it. At some point, having more things, even useful ones, could make our life more complicated, instead of easier. The solution is to simplify and de-clutter our lives; get rid of all unnecessary things and organize our housework in a more energy-efficient way. Do you know how much water gets wasted if you keep the tap running while brushing your teeth? And how much water could you save if you washed your fruit and vegetables in a bowl, instead of in running water? Turn the temperature on your water-boiler thermostat down, and you’ll save both energy and money. Let the natural sunlight in instead of turning on the electric bulb. There are many such ways to make your household more energy-efficient!

Grow a garden, plant a tree: The Prophet (sa) famously said: “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari) He also forbade cutting the trees of Makkah, as the city has been established as a sanctuary on the earth. (Bukhari) Trees play a vital part in producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide levels. The uncontrollable devastation of rainforests and the Russian taiga has been identified as one of the driving forces behind climate change and an increase in extreme weather conditions. So plant trees. It is such an easy way to gain great reward from Allah (swt)! Green-up your surroundings – try to find a patch of land to grow a garden on or make a herb or vegetable garden on your roof or terrace! Growing your own coriander and tomatoes will not only provide you with fresh produce, but also let you and your family appreciate the blessing of fruit and vegetables. Save trees from being cut by reducing your use of paper and wood, by buying wooden furniture from companies that are known for responsible use of forests, and by campaigning for more green belts and parks in your city.

Be the change you want to happen: We would all like to live in a better, greener and cleaner world; however, sometimes we tend to think that others are responsible for all the bad that is happening. “It’s the big companies, the governments, the system…” In reality, we are all responsible for our bit, and if we want the change to happen, we should start with ourselves. Living a greener life may sometimes require more effort, more work, and less comfort, but it should reward us with a clearer conscience, healthier lives and, Insha’Allah, reward from our Lord (swt).

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Ali’ Imran

pearlIn this Surah we learn a powerful Dua that is a source of our peace, “(They say): “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.”(Al-Imran 3:8)

After you have been guided, don’t return to your old state. People start offering five daily prayers, and then suddenly drop down to four, then three, to eventually abandoning it. People have been modestly dressed for years but due to peer pressure or Shaytan’s whisperings they abandon the good dress for immodest clothing. Don’t regress. Move forward and earn the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Who can earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure?

As we are talking about earning the pleasure of Allah (swt), let’s learn about the ones who can earn it. Allah (swt) says, “(They are) those who are patient ones, those who are true (in Faith, words, and deeds), and obedient with sincere devotion in worship to Allah. Those who spend (give the Zakat and alms in the Way of Allah) and those who pray and beg Allah’s Pardon in the last hours of the night.” (Al-Imran 3:17) These are the ones who will attain Paradise – the home of eternal peace and contentment. May Allah (swt) make us amongst them. Ameen.

The honour lies with whom?

People search for honour and dignity through various means. Some earn it through their academic accolades and others through their financial status. Honour and dignity is in the Hands of Allah (swt). “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): “O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things..” (Al-Imran 3:26).

You want honour? Ask Allah (swt), Al-Muiz. When Allah (swt) honours people with respect and dignity; they sometimes become arrogant. Remember if He has given you He can snatch it away at any time. Have little earned from honest living and be content with that. Don’t cheat or look down upon others.

Love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)

The discussion then changes to an important matter. We all claim our love for Allah (swt) but how many of us actually fulfill the conditions of this love? Allah (swt) says, “Say (O Muhammad (sa) to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”” (Al-Imran 3:31)

Loving Allah (swt) is one thing but when Allah (swt) loves a person, do you think that person will ever lose contentment? How does one know if Allah (swt) loves me or not? The sign of Allah’s (swt) love is, when one follows the footsteps of His Messenger (sa). May Allah (swt) grant us His love, and may we be among those who are resurrected with Muhammad (sa). Ameen.

Acceptance of Dua – based on strong faith in Allah (swt) and His will

Story of prophet Zakariya (as)

A beautiful incident is narrated from which many people derive comfort. People are married for years without children, and this is the Will of Allah (swt). May He make matters easier for them. Ameen. Allah (swt) mentions the story of Prophet Zakariya (as). Prophet Zakariya (as) and his wife were really old and they didn’t have any children. He was assigned the care of Maryam (as). “So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zakariya (Zachariya). Every time he entered Al-Mihrab to (visit) her , he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Maryam (Mary)! From where have you got this?” She said, “This is from Allah.” Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.” (Al-Imran 3:37)

Witnessing this miracle before his eyes, prophet Zakariya (as) got encouragement to ask Allah (swt) for a child. If He can provide Maryam (as) with off season fruits, then He can certainly provide him with a child.

The hopeful Dua of Zakariya (as)

“At that time Zakariya (Zachariya) invoked his Lord, saying: “O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.”” (Al-Imran 3:38)

Moral of the story

This teaches us an important lesson that is whenever you see the Qudra (power) of Allah (swt), make Due for yourself. That is a time of acceptance of Dua. The next time you see someone bestowed by Allah (swt) or when you look at the mountains, the trees, the fruits and the sea; don’t forget to make Dua for whatever tiniest issue you have. Allah’s (swt) majestic creation should strengthen our Iman in Him.

Build relationships with true promises

One cause of lacking peace in our lives is over committing or not fulfilling our covenants. We fail to honour our contracts and commitments and that results in a great disaster. We risk our reputation and lose crucial relationships. When you promise something then deliver it. If you cannot deliver it do not promise.

Now emphasis is on keeping the promises, Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s Covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter (Paradise). Neither will Allah speak to them, nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful torment.” (Al-Imran 3:77) Be as truthful and sincere as you can be in honoring the covenant of Allah (swt). We don’t wish to be among those with whom He will neither speak  nor look at them.

Break-free from the love of the material world

What happens when your child drops your S4 and the screen breaks? Does all hell break loose over a cell phone? How do you react when your maid burns your brand new dress while ironing it? Many people beat their children and servants over a small mistake to the point that it results in their death. Allah (swt) instructs us not to attach ourselves to the material possessions of this world.

He says, “By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc., it means here Allah’s Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.” (Al-Imran 3:92)

Your spirituality is your wealth

If your wealth is affecting your spirituality, then share it with those who don’t have it. Your heart will be at peace and make you humble. If our wealth is making us haughty and egotistical, then certainly it’s not worth it. The only time we should be really proud of ourselves is when in the Hereafter, we are handed our book in the right hand and we are given the glad tiding of Jannah. May Allah (swt) make us of those who are pleased with Him and He is pleased with them. Ameen.

Ready for the inevitable?

The various reminders of death in the Quran tell us that we need to be prepared for death at all times. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:102).

How does one prepare for death? By submitting to Allah (swt); submitting to whatever He has commanded us to do and whatever He has commanded us to abstain from.

Being compassionate is our Deen

Allah (swt) says, “You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf (i.e. all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:110).

This means a believer is not selfish. He is not just concerned about his Hereafter but also encourages others to do good and stops them from committing wrong. Similarly, a believer does not make fun of someone who is going through a trial; it is a trait of an enemy to laugh at someone’s misery.

Allah (swt) says, “If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if you remain patient and become Al-Muttaqun, not the least harm will their cunning do to you. Surely, Allah surrounds all that they do.,” (Al-Imran 3:120).

Here vs. Hereafter

Why do you want to risk your Akhirah over a temporary situation of this world? If a person is going through distress, we don’t say, “He deserved it.” Why if Allah (swt) makes that happen to us? A believer lives between the state of fear and hope at all times. He is neither too content with his life nor negligent. He certainly isn’t jealous of others. He knows if Allah (swt) can provide a fellow human being with something then He can certainly provide him as well.

May Allah (swt) humble our hearts and not make this world the main focus of our lives. May we be more worried about the Hereafter then the petty issues of this world. May Allah (swt) grant us peace. Ameen.

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

 

Modern Women VS Modest Women

hidden flowerWomen with a purpose are very rare to find and the ones that do have an aim in life are aiming to become mere pebbles. Whereas, their Deen has given them the strength to become diamonds.

What has the world done to the woman? Is she merely a puppet for the marketing of beauty products, fancy clothes and jewellery? Doe she exist only to exhaust herself in attaining physical attractiveness and overlook the mind that she possesses and the heart that she has?  You need an ambition, something that fuels you to race with high speed, but racing in the right direction is all that matters.What is that right direction? Is it just wearing brands to look beautiful, or having Lore’al, Maybelline and Sunsilk to make us shine?

Among these shining stars was Aisha (rta), an encyclopedia of Fiqh and Hadeeth. She had a brilliant mind and remarkable memory. 

My dear sisters in Islam, real beauty is not as defined by the so called ‘modern woman’. These beauty ads, the fair skin and long beautiful hair are just the modern world’s ideal of beauty, and the ones that fail to attain this are considered ‘ugly ducklings’. In reality, ugly ducklings are the ones who fail to respect themselves, their minds and their bodies. If you realize the beautiful status that Islam gives you, the way it treats you like a hidden oyster in its shell, you will stop humiliating yourself by calling your unveiled attires ‘freedom’ and ‘modernity’, or as the nineteenth century English writers say ‘The New Woman’. You will then stop idealizing the heroines that appear on television. You will stop admiring them once you realize the eternally acceptable and valid definition of beauty.

Who were the true heroines of Islam? They were a reflection of patience, bravery and forbearance. Their beauty came from the Noor of Allah due to their noble conducts and selfless character. They were fair because they were pure and virtuous. They weren’t stuck in the trivial things in life we’re holding on to. Their days and their nights were spent praising their Lord. This doesn’t mean that they lacked intellectually. Their list of achievements and accomplishments is far greater than any woman alive today. They were thirsty for knowledge.

Among these shining stars was Aisha (rta), an encyclopedia of Fiqh and Hadeeth. She had a brilliant mind and remarkable memory. It is a sad fact that today we take actresses, singers, fashion designers and models as our role models and the women of Paradise who gave us real respect and status have been forgotten by us.

Who were the true heroines of Islam? They were a reflection of patience, bravery and forbearance. Their beauty came from the Noor of Allah due to their noble conducts and selfless character.

Today, we have no shame in walking on streets with backless and sleeveless clothes, we’re happy devaluing ourselves while Allah (swt) created us to be no less than diamonds. On the contrary, we work hard to become like the pebbles on the ground. If you had known how objectified the idea of ‘New woman’ has made you, you would hold on to the Muslim ideals with your teeth. If nakedness means modern, animals are naked too.

If you knew, how when you are a daughter you become the reason for your father to enter Jannah, when you are a mother, Jannah is under your feet and when you become a wife, you complete your other half’s Deen you would never humiliate yourselves by moulding your attitude and your character according to the so called modern woman because ‘Modest Woman’ is the truest, purest definition of beauty and is an epitome of ‘Super-Heroine’.

Rise again!

Let the world know how protected you’re. How precious you are. How dignified you are.

Psychology of Gheebah, Sorrow and Envy

tumblr_md0m4qVITd1qil46jo1_1280Have you ever tried to find out why, even after working so hard to avoid backbiting or thinking negatively about a situation, we bump into the same thoughts again and again? Are you struggling to leave your habit of negative thinking or trying to look towards the brighter side of the situation? Our reasoning behind events and relationship issues are from automatic thoughts, habits of thinking that come to us so effortlessly and we start assuming they come from outside our own mind.

When the aspiring Muslim woman encounters a situation at family or home, she is often trapped into a myriad of cognitive distortions that lead her to backbite, envy or compare herself to others. 

Recently, faced with an interpersonal conflict, I realized that a venomous self-critic resides inside me which blurs my vision of reality and takes me far away from the purpose which is to please Allah (swt). The Muslimah today can be sensitive and at times very anxious. She undoubtedly has to fulfil many responsibilities at home and in the society. The Muslimah, in her struggle, tends to think negatively about situations, relationships and especially about her own self. At heart, the Muslim girl or woman is emotional and yet very strong.

When the aspiring Muslim woman encounters a situation at family or home, she is often trapped into a myriad of cognitive distortions that lead her to backbite, envy or compare herself to others. This is common especially when the vulnerable Muslimah has to deal with multiple family issues and handle the household chores to her best.

The theory of cognitive distortions has its roots in the work of Aaron Beck and David Burns. They highlighted the errors in our perceptions that we continually make, if we don’t identify them. To actualize the essence of a true Muslimah, a woman has to challenge the erroneous thought patterns so that she can identify the unintentional harm that she is doing to herself and others. Our Deen has all the required remedies for perceptual distortions however, we just need to identify where we lack.

We want the other person to change to suit our peace of mind. In fact, our peace of mind is rooted in the remembrance of Allah and a very strong connection with Deen.

Following are some selected cognitive distortions as outlined in the work of David Burns, that I felt can be applied to the day-to-day contradictory  situations that we face  causing us to automatically start thinking negatively without consciously choosing to do so.

  • Filtering: This means magnifying the negative aspects in a situation or a relationship, leaving out all the positive aspects. For example, in a family gathering, some far relative from the in laws makes a cynical remark over one’s appearance; we automatically start thinking bad about her, without knowing the person completely and without considering their positive aspects.
  • Polarized Thinking: This is the either/or thinking style. We think in yes or no terms, without understanding the situation holistically. We might become so fond of perfection in our kitchen cleaning, that a minor stain somewhere will disappoint us to the point that we start considering it as a malfunction in kitchen cleaning. The kitchen is either all clean or not clean at all; this will disappoint us, affect our habits and the entire day will be spent struggling with a bad mood.
  • Personalization: In the pursuit of comparison of our work, our homes and ourselves with others, we tend to see ourselves as the cause of a situation at odds. For instance, when we consider ourselves responsible for an unhealthy external event such as a guest with digestive trouble; we automatically start thinking that something was wrong in our cooking or food. Such thoughts do occur normally, and they need to be challenged otherwise they might develop into core negative backgrounds that we think alongside. Control Fallacy: One part of control fallacy is that we feel helpless or externally controlled. We try to displace the uneasiness of an event on someone else, feeling controlled. For instance, saying something like “I can’t help it if the dessert doesn’t taste good; I was busy working for mother-in-law, she is so demanding!”
  • Blaming: This has become so common and it can ruin the tranquillity of many relationships especially between parents and children or husband and wife. For instance, a mother might yell on her child, “Your disobedience to me makes me feel so miserable!” We should make a note to ourselves that Allah (swt) has given us free will and control to manage our emotional reactions.
  • Shoulds: Shoulds are the most dangerous of all distortions; the kind which can ruin one’s very own mental health. Let’s say, in a cultured gathering, we automatically start saying to our sister how the sister should have spoken, should have covered herself and what not. This way, we get trapped in the tunnel of Gheebah and don’t realize that we are indirectly eating the flesh of our Muslim fraternity.
  • Fallacy of Change: This is also one of our distorted perceptions and values. We believe that we can make the other person change. Have you ever wondered why? This is because, we believe inside without much toil in our mind that for our happiness and sorrow, we are dependent on these people. We want the other person to change to suit our peace of mind. In fact, our peace of mind is rooted in the remembrance of Allah and a very strong connection with Deen.

If we commence to identify these modes of thinking, we can gain the balance between mind, body and soul. Hazy, negative thinking prevents us from getting closer to Allah and seeking His pleasure and love. Also, we should pause and reflect over the signs around us to abstain from negative thinking and break the shackles of anxiety, hopelessness and lack of enthusiasm to completely delve into this beautiful Deen. Consider the following quotes and Ayahs whenever you feel you’re again dripping into that same old mode of thinking again.

  • Yasmin Mogahed: “If you want to kill something, neglect it. It happens in both good and bad. Neglect a relationship, it dies. Neglect your Iman, it dies. But the same principal applies when you want to kill something like a thought or a desire. Neglect it, it dies.”
  • Al-Mutanabbi:“Don’t receive what time brings except with indifference, as long as your soul is a companion for your body, whatever you are happy with is fleeting, and sadness revives not lost loved ones.” (Don’t be Sad, Aid-al Qarni, IIPH).
  • Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan (Satan), they remember (Allah), and (indeed) they then see (aright). (Al-Araf 7:201)
  • …..and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve. (Yusuf 12:87)
  • The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend (Fussilat 41:34)
  • Say: “O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (Az-Zumar 39:53)
  • Say: “Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Maula (Lord, Helper and Protector).” And in Allah let the believers put their trust (At-Taubah 9:51)

For a daily reminder, you can ponder over the following Hadeeth:

On the authority Of Abu Malik Al-Harith bin Asim Al- Ashari, The Messenger (sa) said: “Purity is half of faith. Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fills the scales, and Subhana’Allah [How far is Allah from every imperfection] and Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fill that which is between heaven and earth. Prayer is light; charity is a proof; patience is illumination; and the Quran is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” (Muslim)

Bashka Voda – Part 2

Bashka Voda 2

(In part 1: By supplying a Bosnian refugee camp in Bashka Voda with food and detergents, relief workers Suleman and Abbas (with the help of Aida, their translator) have obtained  permission to teach the refugees English and Islamic history, thus introducing to them the basics of Islam, their faith, which had been suppressed by the Communist regime. The turnout to the first class has exceeded their expectations.) 

“Where should we start from?” I asked. This raised a few eyebrows, as according to the picture Aida had painted, they were not expecting much interaction. I was supposed to have lectured like the Khutbah of the Friday prayer and leave; they were to listen respectfully and quietly.

I encouraged them by asking questions like how they were instructed in schools about Islam and so on. Finally, a 14-year-old sister said shyly: “Can you, please, start from zero? We were told in schools that there is no God.”

I was dumbfounded. This was the least of what I expected. I glanced at the rest of the class and found people nodding their heads. She was not alone.

I took a deep breath and started slowly and deliberately, as it would have been a disaster, if Aida misunderstood this delicate topic. I pointed out to the wonders that surrounded us and the signs that the creations held. After introducing them to the microchip, I said: “The microchip is made of silicon, iron and other metals. The probability of these metals getting arranged in this order by random existed but would be one in a zillion.

“So, on seeing this chip, you would argue that there is no one behind its creation just because such a random possibility existed or would you accept that someone designed and manufactured it? So how about this Universe, which is so much more complex?”

I gently reasoned that not believing in Allah (swt) didn’t add up logically. “If we were told that a road has snipers, and there is a chance that we will be hit, as opposed to another road, which is completely safe, which road would you take? Why would you not like to be safer? Why not apply the same logic in believing in Allah (swt)? You only gain by believing in Allah (swt), while in not believing in Him (swt), you take a risk.

I asked them, if anyone had proof that Allah (swt) didn’t exist. No one had. “The absence of the proof of a thing’s existence cannot become a proof in itself of its non-existence. On the contrary, all creations are a clear proof of the existence of a Creator.”

I was crude. It was raw Dawah, for which I had no earlier experience. For most of the students, it was the first time this was being presented in this manner. Some nodded, some sat wondering and others were awestricken.

Towards the end, I was sweating.

I found relief in the cool sea breeze, as I drove that evening. Those drives became a source of strength, as I collected my thoughts before the class and reflected on my return. This was my first intellectual interaction with the Bosnians, of whom I had a good general sample. I had all age groups, except for men of fighting age; I had both country folk and city dwellers from practically all income levels and locations.

I was impressed. I found the Bosnians to be simple-minded. They were also highly impressionable and I couldn’t fathom whether it was intrinsic or due to the tragedy that had met them.

Next day, we discussed Tauhid. “If there is a Creator,” I said, “He must be one; otherwise, the Universe would be in chaos. Just as we can’t have two captains in a plane or two drivers in a car, we can’t have two gods in this Universe.”

That day they were relaxed, easily smiling at my jokes. I wanted them engaged, as the class was voluntary, and the last thing I wanted was to have them lose interest.

I noticed that the girls with the short skirts were not there, confirming my suspicion that they had meant to tease me. The problem had obviously taken care of itself, but I was proven wrong. The girls were there but were dressed differently.

After the class, the same girls approached me. “We are the ones who wore improper dresses yesterday,” one started, visibly embarrassed, “we were later told that it was not proper. We are extremely sorry. Why didn’t you ask us to leave?” With this, tears welled up in her eyes. At a loss of words, I tried to comfort them by saying that we all make mistakes and they didn’t have to worry about it.

As I drove back that evening, I was deep in thought. It was a blessing of Allah (swt) that I had not asked them to leave. They might never have returned. This became a lesson I will never forget.

The classes continued, and we started with the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and along the way, the Kalima and the articles of faith.

Gradually, they accepted me as a part of their small tortured world; someone who would listen and empathize with them and, more than that, had come to help them. I wasn’t able to leave immediately after class, as people wanted to talk to me. They eventually ended up talking about loved ones dying violently at the hands of the Serbs, of destroyed towns and broken lives.

The children, who became very attracted to me, had interesting questions, and their laughter lit up this bleak world. There was hardly a Muslim child in the camp, who wasn’t attending. I realized that this course was the only good time they were having in their monotonous life as refugees.

As I was going through the hardships that Prophet Muhammad (sa) faced in Makkah, I said: “We should thank Allah (swt) for giving us the gift of Islam; look how difficult it was to be a Muslim at that time.”

On hearing this, a young boy spontaneously spoke and the class fell silent. Since he had spoken in Bosnian, all had understood, except me. Aida tried to ignore it. Others in the class waved, asking me to carry on. I refused. “Hold on!” I caught the sternness in my voice, as I asked Aida, “What did he say?”

“He has asked,” Aida was fighting tears, “if it was as difficult to be a Muslim at the time of the Prophet (sa), as it is for us today.”

Looking up, I saw tears streaming down faces.

The time for the first test arrived. I wanted to encourage them to work hard. “Look,” I requested them a day before, “I have to drive 50 miles each day to be with you so, please, reciprocate by doing well on the test.”

On hearing this, an elder lady pointed out to Ahmed, who was 12 years old with a quiet and serious face. “He lives 5 miles away,” she said. “While you drive, Ahmed walks to class each day.” Finding out through friends that this course was being offered, he had signed up. He was there every day and stayed till the end of the course.

A day before the test, some children came to me with a naughty look in their eyes. They wanted to know, if I would be kind enough to tip them off to the questions in the test. I told them that I might ask them to explain the Kalima and then, looking around carefully, I whispered: “Make sure that no one finds out.”

The next day the one answer everybody knew was about the Kalima. I put that question in the test, happy to have the participants testify in writing to the Tauhid of Allah (swt) and to the prophethood of Muhammad (sa).

That day, I sat back and relaxed, watching the seriousness with which they were taking the test. For an outsider, it could as well have been a chemistry test.

One young girl wrote a comment: “Before coming to this course, I used to believe that there is no God, but now I think there is one. For me that was progress. How stupid it would have been to enforce the dress code on her at that stage.

Another girl wrote: “I now find strength to face the hardships I am going through, knowing that my Prophet (sa) went through similar hardships in his life.”

I gave out writing assignments on different topics. I had them pool their Islamic books and also contributed some to set up a virtual library for doing their rudimentary research. These assignments would then be presented in class.

Adapted (with permission) from “The Embattled Innocence.” Compiled for Hiba by Laila Brence.

The Difference between Deen and Madhab

Jan 11 - Difference bw Deen and Madhab

By Dr. Israr Ahmad

The words Deen and Madhab are entirely different from each other with regard to their underlying concepts. Although in our part of the world we generally refer to Islam as Madhab (religion), yet what is interesting indeed is the fact that the word Madhab has never once been used in the entire treasury of the Quranic text and Ahadeeth literature! Instead, the word that has almost always been used for Islam in the original sources is Deen.

The fundamental difference between the two terms must be understood. Madhab, or religion, is a term used for a set of beliefs and rituals of worship. On the other hand, Deen refers to an entire way of life that pervades all aspects of life. In other words, as compared to Madhab, Deen is a far more comprehensive, all-encompassing reality. With this backdrop, it will perhaps not be entirely correct to say that Islam is not a Madhab (religion), because all of the elements of a Madhab are certainly part and parcel of Islam – it includes the articles of belief, spirituality, and the etiquettes of worship (Salah, Saum, Zakah and Hajj). Hence, it would be more accurate to say that Islam is not merely a Madhab, but an entire code of life (Deen). It not only offers whatever constitutes religion, but is endowed with the elements of a complete way of life. Hence, Islam is, essentially, Deen.

In this context, it must also be understood that while several religions can co-exist at a time in a particular region of the world, there can only be a single Deen (way of life). It is not possible, for instance, for capitalism and communism to coexist in a country at the same time. Only one will be dominant and prevail over others. Similarly, monarchy and democracy cannot simultaneously be established in a country. A system can either be based on the law of Allah (swt), or it will be against the law of Allah (swt). There cannot be two parallel systems, although there can be several religions co-existing at a time in a certain place. The only exception can be made in the case of a single dominant system ascendant above all, subservient to which, all shrunken up and sidelined, may exist other systems. Allama Iqbal said: “In a state of enslavement, it is reduced to a single, small droplet / The very same life which, when freed, becomes a ceaseless, shoreless torrent!”

When Deen is subjugated, it is reduced to mere religion. At the high point of Islamic history, Islam was the single dominant system, under which existed Christianity, Judaism, Magianism and other creeds as religions. They were given this allowance on the clearly laid out condition to pay a nominal tax (Jizya) and accept their subservience to the ascendant system, as said in Surah At-Taubah: “Fight… until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (At-Taubah 9:29)

The law of the land shall be Allah’s (swt), and the dominant system will be Islam, but as far as personal law and private life was concerned, they were free to live according to their own beliefs and practices. However, during the period of the decline and downfall of the Islamic state, the situation was entirely reversed. It will not be wrong to say that in the Indian subcontinent, the dominant system of life belonged to the British. Hence, Islam in the subcontinent was reduced to mere religion – Muslims could pray as they wished, and the British never objected to that; they could declare the call for prayer from the mosques, and they could marry and inherit according to their religious laws, but the state law had to be none other than British, according to the dictates of the British Crown, without interference from the local people. This is exactly what Iqbal expressed in his verse: “Since the Mullah (cleric) in India is allowed to prostrate in prayer / He foolishly thinks it implies his freedom.”

In other words, Islam was not free, but had shrivelled up and been reduced to the level of a mere religion among many.

Deen is essentially that which dominates and pervades. If it is subjugated, it will no longer remain Deen, but will be reduced to Madhab. Its true character will be distorted. If studied from this angle, it becomes clear that no matter how great a system, if it is presented merely as a vision and idea, or presented in the form of a written treatise, it can at best be an idealistic utopia, but can never truly be a criterion, a standard, or a benchmark. It can become a decisive criterion for the whole of mankind to judge and live by only when it is brought into practice, established and fully implemented.

Translated and transcribed for “Hiba” by Maryam Sakeenah.