Editorial – The Prophet’s Concept of Companionship

10The thought of friends instantly warms up the soul. As Mark Twain sketched it, “it brings cheer in the face, song in the heart and sunshine in every step.”

No wonder childhood and youth are always brimming with life: we have surprises set upon us, with fun and laughter as a constant companion among the buddies. As life progresses, numerous responsibilities descend and slacken our ability to stay connected with friends. Those of us, who manage to keep in touch, would agree that it is no longer in the same carefree manner, and the frolic does eventually dilute.

However, what we all remember are the things we did for our friends and the sacrifices they made for us. Whether they were right or wrong is not the point, as friends seldom judge each other. They would let us copy their assignments at the eleventh hour; they would not tell on us when we puffed cigarettes; they would keep our secrets about our clandestine love affairs; they would lie for us to our parents or teachers when cornered, etc. And years later, they would laugh off the pranks and the deceptions.

However, companionship is dangerous, too. It has the power to change the course of our life, especially if we are not very certain of our own values and the direction we wish to take. Sincere friends, who tell us when we have been wrong and help us do right, are a blessing of Allah (swt). Consider the case of former pop star, Junaid Jamshaid, who was led to Allah (swt) by a friend. However, if we find camaraderie with someone who is misguided or a hypocrite, we can end up ruining our own lives as well as our precious relationships with others.

For the believers, Allah (swt) is One Friend, Who never forsakes them, whether in times of prosperity or adversity. Through Islam, Allah (swt) has set cordial and humane relations between nations: “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you.” (Al-Anam 6:38)

Similarly, in the early days of prophethood, we see the unparalleled example of a friendship between Muhammad (sa) and Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (rtam) that lasted until the Prophet (sa) passed away. They rest in peace today besides each other in Masjid-e-Nabwi, too. The beloved Prophet (sa) inspired the Ansar of Madinah and the Muhajiroon of Makkah to set up similar relationships among themselves. He instilled the belief of loving people for the sake of Allah (swt). This idea gave birth to an unthinkable force within. It germinated the strength to break away from all negative and satanic emotions and notions. Thus, it became possible to exhibit patience, think selflessly, act proactively, and become an endeared comrade, because this would earn Allah’s (swt) love and pleasure.

Today, we have a very narrow vision of friendship. Plus, it is generally assumed that it is only for kids and young adults. It is also perceived that friendship can only be formed with the same age group. Often, it is only to fulfil our own insecurities or to exploit others for short-term gains. However, Islam talks about all sorts of friendships: a companionship between spouses to nurture principles and peace in the family, a supporting network between Mumin men and women in the way of Allah (swt) for the rise of Islam, a relationship of admiration and awe between teachers and students, and a bond of unconditional love and guidance between parents and offspring. These are all diverse pictures of relations based on friendships between the weak and the strong. Our Deen does not appreciate unjust relations between the oppressed and the oppressor or between the controlled and the controller.

The Sunnah teaches us how everyone – old and small – revered the Prophet (sa) because of his just nature. He was mild with those who deserved Allah’s (swt) mercy, hence, casting lasting impressions and befriending people. However, he punished those who were Allah’s (swt) enemies and did not consider them to be worthy of his friendship, no matter how lucrative a gain was in sight. This is something we, as believers, should be mindful of.

This then is the formula we need to follow in judging whom to befriend and to what extent we should support and love our friends. The question to ask is not what we think of our friends but what Allah (swt) might think of them. If the Prophet (sa) was alive today, would we be able to introduce them to him without any shame or hesitation? Do our friends help us improve our family relations or are they a reason we are drifting further away? Do they help us reach our potential and cherish our triumphs or do they constantly condemn us and compete with us instead?

We can assess our own role as a friend with others in the same light. While the Sahabahs were alive, their undying loyalty and love for the Prophet (sa) were exemplary. What greater lesson can we learn about friendship? And our dear Prophet (sa) never let an opportunity pass to guide them, compliment them, enjoy with them, console them, care for them, worry about them, and at times, even discipline them for their benefit.

When they passed away, he would pray the Salat al-Janazah for the sincere Najashi; he would carry Julaybib (rta) in his arms for burial; he would remember young and handsome Musab for his valour, etc. Such was the friendship of the Prophet (sa), who prayed for all to meet be in his company not only in this world but in the eternal bliss of Jannah, too. He loved all for the sake of Allah (swt). Friendships endure trials only if they have been formed for the sake of Allah (swt).

Rana Rais Khan


Entertainment – Editorial


When we compare reality with the fantasy world of entertainment, our real lives seem as different from reel life as chalk from cheese. The real life seems like drudgery with hours of work, stress, miscommunication, boredom, unfulfilled desires, broken dreams, restlessness, fearsome futures, etc. Thus, it is no wonder that we are too happy to escape into the virtual realm of fun. It grants us solace, merriment and whatever the heart desires, at least for a couple of hours, just as opium helps us forget the lows of life.

Ekta Kapoor, an Indian drama serial producer, states: “People want to have a sense of belonging. This comes with close family relationships. Because the familial connections are fast deteriorating, they feel a vacuum, which is then filled by the myriad of soaps on air. Each and every one of the audience can relate to a particular character in it and hence, imagines it to be his/her story.”

Similarly, the lyrics and the melodies of music are the unsaid expressions of many individuals, who feel this is their only means of communication and self-expression. With the justice and merit system crumbling worldwide, we love watching on-screen heroes setting the world in order. Consequently, sermons on morality and modesty are as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

It is important to remember that Islam does not espouse a morbid outlook. Instead, it offers plentiful opportunities to have purposeful fun without having to escape reality. The problem begins when we use the wrong lens to view our own arenas of entertainment. A globalized idea of enjoyment has been generally enforced, which is in direct conflict with our faith. The point to be understood here is that our Deen has no room for immodesty or frivolity, no matter how trendy and acceptable it becomes. We are concerned if a source of entertainment is detrimental to the social values of the world and not just to the Ummah.

As practicing Muslims, we can stay well within our turfs and be romantic, excited, thrilled and humorous. Our Prophet (sa) was as human as anyone can be. We need to learn from the Sunnah. The real challenge is to improve the real life that we lead so we do not have to frequently disappear into an imaginative den or draw happiness by pretending to look and become someone we are not.

Putting up a constabulary will not prevent unchecked leisure. We will have to set our relations right with Allah (swt), and learn to like ourselves and others the way we are. The nature of globalized fun is extreme whether it is celebrity following, self-projection through the social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, or the mall and cineplex culture of consumerism. It becomes the centre of life instead of being a part of life.

Entertainment should be pleasing to nature, and nature (Fitrah) is always pure. Only fleas thrive on filth and spread diseases. In stark contrast, bees seek sweet nectar that heals and drips pure ecstasy. The more we shop for Fatawas to legalize or to advocate the forbidden, the more we are likely to invite Allah’s (swt) wrath upon us.

In a world where 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty and 16,000 children die of hunger daily (one child every five seconds), how can we justify spending USD1.5 million on making a Bollywood film and USD47.7 million on a Hollywood movie?

Rekha Shetty, corporate doctor and acclaimed writer of “Innovate Happily”, talks about screen time. Her top happiness mantra is: “Too much TV is ‘tele-visham’ (tele poison). Too much stimulation, a mind space crowded by fantasy, people and events, distracts you from focusing on your own mind space, your home, your backyard. Whereas service to others makes the blood flow with serotonins – the happiness chemical.” This is another idea for purposeful fun.

Muslims will have to actively participate in creating fresh and innovative ideas for fun. For far too long, we have left it to those who are, for the most part, unguided and wandering. They may be good people with pure designs, but they are attempting to raise a structure on a crumbled foundation that will eventually fall. This is why we see sports plagued with gambling, talk shows with slander, movies with nudity, and so on.

Muslims are not monkeys. We don’t just do what we see others doing. Instead, we question the promos and cons, and submit only to reality. This issue of Hiba is an attempt to highlight the ideas and efforts of a few such Muslims who have blazed a new trail. May Allah (swt) inspire more to come forward with original and Shariah-friendly ideas. Ameen.

Hope after 9/11 – Editorial


9/11 will always be marked as one of the turning points in history. How it happened and why it happened has led to a plethora of analysis world over. Each individual tries to make sense out of it. Some have called it a hoax. Some see it as a long range political game. Others perceive it to be the beginning of another crusade. However, they all come to a common conclusion that the fall of the twin towers in Manhattan, New York, has changed the fate of this world forever.

The 2,973 innocent lives taken that day was only the beginning of more wrath to come over many other innocent and unsuspecting people, who have later been slain hundreds of miles away from the original point of incident – the USA. Subsequently, terror has struck across nearly all continents, mostly annihilating the Muslim population through drone attacks, hate crimes, missing people, forced wars and terrorism incidents. After eleven years of mindless war games played by governments globally, the misery still multiplies for the common man on the street.

It may sound as emotional rhetoric, but I wonder how many of the people, who decide the fate of the world, have had to fight at the forefront? Have they ever witnessed how a bomb tears apart not only human flesh but also families, relations among communities and their future? Those, who inflict war on others, are the ones, who call loss of human life collateral damage. For them, dead bodies are figures to be counted. All of this is in the name of a greater cause: to make the world more secure and peaceful, to punish the evil and later, when they lose their battle, make negotiations with their enemy after killing thousands of people. Why couldn’t this dialogue happen right after 9/11? Why was the entire world sold the false idea that waging a ‘war on terror’ was the only way forward?

After eleven years of occupation, overthrowing the Taliban, and bearing a cost of USD 1 million for deploying each US soldier in Afghanistan annually, US forces still do not know what the Holy Quran means to a Muslim. Instead, their troops dump it in garbage outside Afghanistan’s largest airbase at Bagram and call it an unintentional mistake. Amid reassurances, of course, that they have come to build a bright future for the Afghanis. So life after 9/11, in terms of eliminating mistrust, building better inter-faith and community relations, seem static at one point.

Simultaneously, the service 9/11 has paid to Islam is of great significance. Never before Muslims have questioned their own identity like they do today. The weak labels they carried have suddenly begun to hold more meaning for them. They have opened the Holy Book and attached themselves to scholars in order to seek answers for their own guidance and liberation. Their souls have been stirred up. As a result, Islam has emerged as the fastest growing faith in the world. It is not being imposed on anyone. Rather, it is a rational choice.

For Pakistan, it has been an electrifying decade of events. Reluctant masses as an ally of ‘war on terror’ have been led by corrupt and incompetent regimes ruling the country. Following 9/11, by 2003, Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves rose to USD 11.48 billion, as a direct result of foreign graces bestowed upon us for fighting their war. I call it their war, because none of the culprits masterminding or executing their terrorist mission were Pakistanis. However, Pakistan has had to pay the highest price in this whole fiasco.

We have lost more than 35,000 soldiers of ours and they still fight on. Our cities have never been more vulnerable to sporadic bomb blasts. Our border relations with our neighbours have been of mistrust. No foreign press ever mentions the sacrifices made by our people, when 9/11 is cited. Instead, even today we are viewed as the black sheep with great suspicion.

Economically, the inflation rate has risen from 4.4% a decade ago to 16% in the year 2011. External debt has doubled to USD 60 billion in 2011 from USD 30 billion. 60.3% of Pakistanis live on less than two dollars a day, as estimated by UNDP. The short-term gain through the financial meaty bone tossed at us in 2011 to side the war on terror is flea infected now.

I wonder – had we mustered up the courage to say ‘no’ to this alliance, then would we have paid a heftier price than we are paying today? Isn’t Pakistan still being bombed with drones on one side and terrorists on the other? How has terrorism curbed in any way globally? Is this world a safer place through pre-emptive wars as envisioned?

I see little reason for us to cheer, unless we seize the moment and unite as a force against the pack of lies being sold to us. Muslims living in Dar-ul-Islam need to exhibit more courage and organize themselves than those coverts and reverts residing in Dar-ul-Kufr. This is the time to rise above petty differences and challenge the status quo.

Read in the Name of Your Lord – Editorial

Read in the Name of Your Lord“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” (Ray Bradbury)

After running a publication for nearly nine years, I cannot agree more. Most Pakistanis have erratic spending patterns, I notice. For many, buying a mere magazine comes as blatant wastage of money. But when it comes to eating out or shopping for clothes, it appears no budgets exist.

If we cannot read a magazine, how can we appreciate the beauty and depths of books along with the spell-binding impact they create? Consequently, those who read nothing or only to achieve academic milestones can almost immediately be identified. And I don’t just mean they have less than eloquent speech or a poor vocabulary bank. They generally have restricted thoughts and trivial conversations; they do very little to enrich their own or others’ lives. Their poor observation, lack of patience and prejudiced actions indicate obvious under-usage of their minds and abilities bestowed to them by Allah (swt).

“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists).” (Al-Alaq, 96:1) Why did our Creator instruct the Holy Prophet (sa) to begin his journey of prophethood with the sublime task of reading, reflecting and acting upon the Quran? Why didn’t Allah (swt) command him to watch, listen, experience or learn by another means? For a nation, whose first revelation was to read in the name of the Lord, how well are we faring today?

Reading is not just an intellectual activity. It serves as a power supply for insight and happiness. Revealed knowledge connects us to our Creator and self. Acquired knowledge further facilitates this process and humbles us to serve the creation. Try asking a surgeon how he recognizes the wondrous miracles of Allah (swt), when he opens up the human body and finds the intricate workings of the organs therein. The books he reads on human anatomy spring to life and help him understand the verses of the Quran with higher meaning.

“Books, like friends, should be few and well-chosen.” (Joineriana) It is almost an appalling tragedy to see some extremely learned and gifted individuals unremorsefully treading the misguided path. One is better off an illiterate than reading rubbish or material that destructs his/her Fitrah.

As rude as it may sound, Georg Christoph Lichetenberg stated that “a book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out”. Developing love and appreciation for books is part of Tarbiyah and growing up. Those, who have not experienced this, will always consider reading as a chore or a duty meant to be put off. This is similar to the way the diets for over-weight people always begin tomorrow.

Reading and books are also deeply associated with today’s educational system. The education sector of a country determines its overall progress and participation in global events. Some of the countries with the highest number of literacy rates are: Vatican City (population: 826 people; literacy rate: 100%) and Andorra, the sixth smallest European country (population: 83,888; literacy rate: 100%). Finland is ranked as the third most educated country in the world with some of the best universities. Besides their rightly set priorities, size of the population being scarce is an advantage they commonly enjoy. For Pakistan, this may not be the case.

Describing education as the single, most important factor for alleviating poverty, the Pakistan Economic Survey 2009-2010 confirms that public expenditure in this sector has declined to a paltry 2 per cent of the gross domestic product. The survey puts the average literacy rate at 57 per cent – 69 per cent for males and 45 per cent for females.

Literacy is the acquisition of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. In other words, literacy is the meaningful acquisition, development and use of the written language. In Pakistan, the definition of literate is structured at the time of Population Census. In the 1998 Population Census, a literate person has been defined as “one who can read newspaper and write a simple letter in any language.”

NGOs and the private sector have a critical role to play in helping to achieve whatever success we have in the education sector. Though we have an uphill task at hand, with capable leadership and a sincere vision, our human resources can be developed to meet their potential. Great responsibility and accountability rests with those who are privileged enough to be called the upscale literates. Reading with understanding should be promoted at every level by every individual and not just by those who are directly involved in the business of education and journalism. Also, reading must be accompanied with an inbuilt filtering process that can separate chaff from the wheat. To attain this goal, our extremely brilliant predecessors learnt the Quran and Ahadeeth, before they took up any other discipline for exploration and specialization. It guided them to stay on track and side step the orbits that led them off the Shariah.

The House of Wisdom library was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1258, along with all the other libraries in Baghdad. It was said that the waters of the Tigris ran black for six months with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river. But today, we refuse to own up our own heritage and pass it on to our next generations. And purposeful reading and writing is one such task. Joseph Brodsky said: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

Ways to Maximize Halal Rizq – Editorial

Concept of a plant and a lot of golden coins isolated on white background

Rizq is the bounty of Allah (swt), which He bestows upon His creatures. And this does not include our wealth only. The Prophet (sa) said: “When the fetus is four months old in its mother’s womb, Allah sends an angel to breathe the soul into it and write down its provision, its lifespan, its deeds, and whether it is doomed or blessed.” (Bukhari)

Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen says: “Provision is also allocated and connected to its means; it is neither increased nor decreased. But man still needs to strive to seek his provision as is mentioned in the Quran: ‘He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you (i.e. easy for you to walk, to live and to do agriculture on it) so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision. And to Him will be resurrection.’ (Al-Mulk 67:15)”

It is a grave mistake to assume that even if one lives like a parasite or does not struggle for it, one will be able to obtain one’s share somehow. Provision will not rain from the sky. Besides, such a defeatist attitude is not at all encouraged in Islam. Allah (swt) expects us to utilize every inch of our intelligence and energy for the betterment of all.

When Allah (swt) bestows upon us His bounty, we are required to give away a portion of it. This is done in the form of Zakah (obligatory alms) and Sadaqah (voluntary alms). Hence, when some of us maximize our potential to earn more through lawful means and are blessed with Allah’s (swt) Barakah, it includes the share of those who were not fortunate enough to optimize their conditions.

However, sunshine turns into shadows when, in pursuit of a good fortune for ourselves, we attribute others to Allah (swt). For instance, someone might think that he will prosper only if he becomes part of the USA’s 14 trillion dollar economy. Alternatively, we might single out a few multinational companies or professions that reward more in financial terms. Thus, the centre shifts and we learn to make compromises in the name of good judgement, lucrative prospects, popular culture, etc. We undermine the fact that our provider is Allah (swt) Alone; we resort to begging, borrowing and stealing.

If we cling to the concept of Tauheed and attempt to seek out only lawful provisions, wherever we live and whatever we do, will Allah (swt) forsake us? Imagine what He has blessed the disbelievers with, in return for their hard work? Will the Raziq withhold from His true believers? He feeds millions of species in the rainforests, the vast skies, the deep seas – all living creatures from the North to the South pole. He sustains the galaxies of the universe and the undiscovered life there and beyond.

Concept of a plant and a lot of golden coins isolated on white backgroundHowever, we will have to prove that we deserve it. Firstly, ask for permissible Rizq (Tayyab and Halal). Toil for it. Exhibit patience and advise your family to do the same. Be extremely thankful to Allah (swt) for what He has granted and what He has withheld, as there is a divine reason for it that only He knows. Hasan Al-Basri said: “The roots of evil are three: arrogance, envy and greed.” Steer clear of them. Adhere to the guided path, as Yahya Ibn Muath has stated: “O how poor is man; if he fears Hell-fire in the same degree as he fears poverty, he will enter Paradise.”

Lastly, be fearful of succeeding in the wrong endeavours. When people disobey Allah (swt), He sometimes opens the doors of bounties in this world but cuts them off from the eternal rewards of Paradise. There could be no greater loss for someone to bargain for Hell-fire in the name of maximizing his Rizq.