Planning for Ramadan

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Planning for Ramadan

It’s coming once again! The Grand Sale! – “Buy one, get seventy free!” That is how a friend enthusiastically described it.

Yes, I am talking about the blessed month of Ramadan. Every moment of this month carries great treasures of excellence and blessings. Voluntary good deeds (Nawafil) reach the ranks of obligatory good deeds (Faraiz), and the reward for the obligatory acts becomes seventy times greater. And that is not all. There is yet another treasure more valuable than a thousand months of effort and all the wealth we could amass therein: the great night of Laylat-ul-Qadr.

The amount of benefit we gain from the blessings of this month depends on how ready we are and how much effort we make. Just like a farmer has to prepare the land for absorbing the rain, so that he can reap the best harvest, we must pray to Allah (swt) for the opportunity to reap the greatest benefit, and then do our best.

To make the best of this Ramadan, we must, therefore, make Dua, plan and then act.

Make Dua

Make Dua to Allah (swt) that you are in good health, when Ramadan comes. Pray for the energy and time to be able perform all the Ibadah and do all the things you aim to do. And above all, pray for the acceptance of the deeds you perform in Ramadan.

Outline your goals

Let’s play a little game: let’s take a trip into the future…

Imagine it is the Eid. You are walking or driving to the Eid prayers. As you happily recite the Takbeer, you mentally evaluate the Ramadan that has just passed. You are filled with immense joy and satisfaction. Apart from the few natural shortcomings, this was the best Ramadan of your life. The Eid truly feels like Eid, and you eagerly anticipate celebrating your success…

Now think: What was it that made this the best Ramadan for you? What happened? What did you do? Was it the building of a stronger relationship with Allah (swt)? Greater concentration in Salaah? More quality time spent with the Quran? The achievement of a purer heart and a greater Taqwa? What was it?

Come back into the present and write all those things down. These will be your goals for the coming Ramadan.

Set achievable targets

Once you know what you want to get out of this Ramadan, you must set some definite achievable targets that are in line with your goals. These targets will translate your goals into practical day-to-day activities, against which you can then check yourself. For example, if you want to build a better relationship with the Quran this Ramadan, your target could be “read the translation and Tafseer of one Juz a day”, or if you want to achieve a greater Taqwa and a purer heart, your target could be “avoid thinking ill of others and avoid backbiting.”

Similarly, you could decide on some sins you want to clean yourself of and make it a target to avoid them for a week. Or you could choose some good deeds or Sunnahs that are not a habit and try to perform those for a week.

Make a Dua list

One highly effective idea I came across in a lecture by Shaikh Muhmmad Al-Shareef was to make a Dua list for Ramadan. Often, we are so much in a hurry to get back to our activities after Salaah or recitation of the Quran that many things we wanted to pray for just slip out of our minds. Therefore, it is best to take a few minutes for writing down everything we want to ask Allah (swt) and read that list, while making Dua before Iftar, after Salaah, after Quran recitation and especially in the last ten nights in anticipation of Laylat-ul-Qadr.

Organize – unclutter your life

Ramadan is a very special time and you would not like to waste a moment of it in useless activities, such as clearing up that bookshelf, getting your books and tapes in order, sorting out what food items you will need in the coming month, shopping for Eid, etc. If possible, decide your Ramadan menu beforehand. Plan to make quick and healthy meals that provide you with the essential nutrients and avoid lavish Iftars. If possible, prepare and freeze some food items beforehand. Remember, Ramadan is not the month of feasting or self-indulgence. Practice self-control even at Iftar time.

Additionally, adjust your work, school, sleep and meal schedules in such a way as to make the most time for Ibadah and other good deeds. Plan out at what time you will go to sleep, wake up, study, work and do Ibadah. If you have any pending work, for which deadlines may be in Ramadan, try to get over with it as soon as possible before Ramadan, so that you can get the most out of this month.

Plan out Ibadah and other religious obligations

Do you want to go for Taraweeh and Quran study circles this Ramadan? Find out about places, where classes are offered and go with your family. Make travel arrangements, if the venue is far from your house, and check around, if there is anyone else, who might want to go but does not have transportation. Wouldn’t you want to join in the reward of their Ibadah as well by taking them along?

Also, arrange for other activities to learn and teach the Quran and Hadeeth. Furthermore, calculate the Zakah you will be paying in Ramadan. Find out about places, where you can contribute in social welfare activities with your wealth and time.

Prepare your soul

Attend and listen to Ramadan lectures and other talks on spiritually uplifting topics to soften your heart and renew your motivation.

Be ready to absorb the blessings that rain down in this great month. But remember at the same time that Ramadan is not just a one-time vacation, after which you pack up and return to your previous life. Ramadan has been called a ‘training school’ by some; so make sure you graduate from this school with flying colours – colours that should brighten up your entire life.

Friends in Islam – A Powerful Reminder

friends in Islam

Transcribed for hiba by Asma Imran

Every one of us is born into a society where we interact with people from a very young age: our neighbours, people we go to school with, those whom we’ve seen elsewhere in the neighbourhood, and so on. And as time passes, we become closer to them, and they begin to be known as our friends.

What does Islam teach us about friends? We need to be aware that we should follow a certain set of rules and regulations when interacting with people whom we consider to be our friends. What should we share with them? How should they impact our lives? Let us take a look at some of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (sa) in this regard.

The Prophet (sa) said: “A man follows his friend’s religion, so you should be careful about who you befriend.” (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood) Therefore it is very important to select our friends carefully, making sure we do not befriend those who will have a negative impact on us. These teachings of the blessed Prophet (sa) are priceless. If he says that a person is known by the type of friends that he/she keeps, we need to realize that this is exactly the way it will be.

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Build Your Memory, Enhance Your Capacity

memory

Memory is the most important tool in the process of learning. Since the best way for Muslims to use their memory is by learning the Quran, we should take a closer look at the memorization process in order to utilize this ability to the utmost.

During our years of schooling, a large emphasis is placed on increasing the pace of our memorization. However, there is a significant difference between learning and understanding. Learning does not always require conscious effort. Ever heard of rote learning? Without having any knowledge of it, we have rote learned multiplication tables. Do we really think about it or understand multiplication better? No, we don’t, because rote learning is merely a mechanical process. Understanding, however, requires conscious thought where we comprehend the meaning of what we learn. If you challenge somebody’s understanding of material that is just rote-learned and not really understood, you will get a blank face in response. Deep understanding, on the other hand, leads to both insight as well as creativity.

The cerebral cortex (a sheet of neural tissue that covers the cerebrum or forebrain) plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is divided into four main regions or lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the occipital lobe.

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Handy Hajj Tips for Ladies

Handy Hajj Tips for Ladies

Compiled by Aliya Khan and Ruhaifa Samir

Congratulations to those, who have made intention to go for Hajj this year. You are embarking on a monumental and life altering journey. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your pilgrimage!

What to do before Hajj

  1. Start an exercise routine. Walking is ideal to get you in shape for the rituals of Hajj.
  2. Read books to learn about Hajj.
  3. Learn the Talbia and favourite supplications.
  4. Don’t just promise to do Duas for other people – better write them down; also make a list of your own Duas as well.
  5. Practise silence.
  6. Reflect. Think about the permanent changes you want to see in your life post-Hajj. Make it part of your Niyyah.
  7. Pray for an easy and Mabroor (accepted) Hajj.
  8. Make cards according to the days of Hajj, listing Duas and rituals to be done that day.

What to take with you

Besides the usual, here are some tips for things that will add convenience to your Hajj, Insha’Allah:

  1. Get Abayas with pockets.
  2. Bring with you scissors, so your Mahram can cut your hair after Hajj.
  3. Carry with you a spray bottle (for Wudu), a small bag that can be used for Sutra, some clean dirt for Tayammum and a Quran with translation.
  4. Arrange a sim for your phone. Keep your phone, some money and contact numbers of your group/organizer in your Abaya pocket at all times.
  5. Know your hotel and room number. Wear the identification tag your Hajj group gives you at all times!
  6. Keep a little notebook for write down the lessons learnt during Hajj.

What to do during Hajj

  1. Don’t keep calling home every day. Concentrate more on your Hajj.
  2. Try your best to pray Tahajjud every day.
  3. Don’t commit sin by trying to do the Mustahab, such as pushing through men to kiss the Black Stone.
  4. Decide on a favourite Dhikr or Dua, so you can concentrate on it, whenever you feel distracted.
  5. Walk patiently and calmly during Tawaf. Don’t get angry, when others push you. It is advisable to expect a bit of chaos; try focusing on your learned Duas.

How to behave during Hajj

  1. Stay calm during Hajj.
  2. Don’t talk much.
  3. Don’t concern yourself with other people’s issues and help them only if they seek your help.
  4. All the Hujjaj are Allah’s (swt) guests. Be afraid of doing anything to upset anyone. In case if anyone annoys you consciously or unconsciously, forgive and forget!
  5. Lower your expectations as in presence of thousands of Hujjaj it is natural to have little troubles.
  6. Don’t lose your temper at the organizers, in case you are unhappy with the arrangements.
  7. Be prepared for hardships and don’t keep running towards comfort.
  8. Keep yourself open to whatever comes your way, good or bad. Embrace it as your contribution in the way of Allah (swt).

What to do after Hajj

  1. Do self evaluation after Hajj; a Mabroor Hajj must change you permanently and make you more obedient to Allah (swt).
  2. Use learning from the Hajj to plan for your remaining life.
  3. After coming back, don’t tell long stories of your Ibadah and Taqwa to others, as it may be counted as act of self-praising (vanity).
  4. After returning or on your flight back, write down what you learnt from the Hajj experience.
  5. Some people come back with stories of dirty bathrooms at Mina and the hardships they faced. Others come back with brighter hearts and enlightened souls. Be one of the latter.

Your Hajj will be quite a journey. You will learn from it only if you are ready and willing to ‘receive’. Pray to Allah (swt) to make this Hajj a means of bringing you closer to Him. May Allah (swt) accept your Hajj. Ameen.

Hajj: Exemptions and Misconceptions

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Hajj

“I am going for Hajj this year!” exclaims a family friend at a wedding. As she is engulfed in squeals of delight, warm prayers and congratulatory hugs from other Muslim sisters, she starts off providing details of her preparations for the short-but-sweet winter Hajj. As the days of Hajj in Dhul Hijjah fall in the winter months, more people are opting to perform Hajj while the weather is cool. Hajj in Islam is an obligation that comes with pre-conditions and pre-requisites. Therefore, it is important for Muslims to know all its aspects, in order to ensure that it will be accepted by Allah (swt), once they do perform it.
The first question that arises for a Muslim is: “Is Hajj obligatory upon me?” The answer to that depends upon the following conditions: A Muslim should be over puberty and physically able to make the journey.A Muslim should be able to afford the journey financially. A Muslim woman should be accompanied by a Mahram man (her husband or a male relative, whom she cannot marry). There are several other factors, depending upon the person’s personal circumstances, which determine whether or not they are obliged to go for Hajj. Listed below are the reasons behind exempting some Muslims from Hajj: 

The elderly, who is too weak 

Muslims, who are too old or weak to be able to perform Hajj, i.e., they cannot endure the physical hardships of the journey, are exempted from performing it. However, they may delegate another Muslim, who has already fulfilled their own obligation of Hajj, to perform it on their behalf. This is known as Hajj Badal. Narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta) from the Prophet (sa), who heard a man saying: “Here I am (O Allah), on behalf of Shubrumah.” He said: “Have you done Hajj for yourself?” He said: “No.” He said: “Do Hajj for yourself first; then, on behalf of Shubrumah.” (Abu Dawood)

The sick or physically incapacitated Muslim 

Someone could have broken a leg, undergone recent surgery, or be sick, with risk of his sickness worsening by travelling. If the doctor advises against travelling, Hajj is not obligatory upon such a Muslim, until his or her agility is restored. Shaikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid states: “One of the conditions of Hajj being obligatory is that a person should be free of physical illness and disability that would prevent him from performing Hajj. If a person is suffering from a chronic illness, permanent disability, paralysis (that makes him unable to walk) or is very old and unable to move about, then there is no obligation to perform Hajj.”

The one, who doesn’t possess sufficient wealth/money to afford the journey 

The wealth needed for Hajj is of three types: (1) the fare needed to travel to Saudi Arabia, (2) the money needed for food, lodging, transport and other expenses during the entire Hajj journey and (3) the money needed by the pilgrim’s dependents during his absence. If a Muslim cannot provide for all these expenses, Hajj is not obligatory upon him.
Some Muslim parents assume that Hajj is not obligatory upon them, if they have one or more unmarried daughters, until all of them are married, i.e., they are no longer their financial responsibility. There is no basis for this belief in Islamic Shariah. Having to save for extravagant wedding-party expenses and such un-Islamic customs as dowry cannot be used as flimsy excuses for delaying Hajj. Many Muslims assume that if they cannot afford Hajj at all, they can take money from close relatives, borrow it from others, or win it in unlawful money-making schemes to perform it. For performing Hajj, a Muslim must not resort to asking others for money, taking a bank loan or using money won in a lottery or obtained as Riba. Rather, he should wait until Allah (swt) makes him self-sufficient in this regard, by conscientiously trying to save enough money over time. Hajj that is performed with unlawful wealth is not accepted. 

The one, who is in debt 

If a Muslim is in debt, he doesn’t have to perform Hajj until his debt has been paid off.
“If a person is in debt and can neither perform Hajj nor pay off the debt, then he should start by paying off the debt, and Hajj is not obligatory for him.” (Islam-QA.com) Most Western Muslims assume that since they have acquired houses on mortgage, they are exempt from Hajj for the loan payback period. Shaikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, advises these Muslims:
“If your monthly mortgage payments are due and outstanding, then you are not allowed to perform Hajj, until they have been paid. If they are not outstanding, and you have made arrangements for payments to be made when they become due – should they become due during your absence – then you are eligible to go for Hajj. In other words, you don’t have to wait for your house to be fully paid to be eligible to perform Hajj. Having said this, however, I must add a reminder: one must strive earnestly and sincerely to get out of mortgage as quickly as possible. No Muslim, who is serious about his religion, should ever look at interest lightly.”

The Muslim woman, whose Mahrams refuse to accompany her, despite her insistence 

If a Muslim woman has enough money to perform Hajj, but none of her Mahram relatives agrees to accompany her, then Hajj is not obligatory upon her. Having a Mahram companion for Hajj is an obligatory condition for a Muslim woman. The Saudi Government doesn’t allow a woman to perform Hajj unless she states someone as a Mahram for the trip, i.e., provides a name of a person who is travelling with her, along with the type of Mahram relationship she has with him (i.e. brother, father, husband, son etc.). In that case, it becomes wrong to forge a stranger’s identity as a Mahram to perform Hajj, because it’s a lie.

As for the Islamic ruling, the wives of the Prophet (sa) did Hajj together after his demise without a Mahram; someone was appointed as a Mahram for them. So, Islamically, it’ll be alright to go without a Mahram, in a ladies-only group, as long as proper arrangements for a woman’s safety have been made.

However, it is better to go with a Mahram, since the wives of the Prophet were mothers of the Muslims and hence everyone thought of them as such. Women today might be more vulnerable to fraud etc. on the way if they do not have a Mahram with them. Finally, Muslims should strive to seek authentic knowledge about Hajj and hasten to perform it out of sincere devotion to Allah (swt), if they are among the ones on whom it has become obligatory. The Prophet (sa) said (on authority of Ibn Abbas (rta)): “He, who intends to perform Hajj, should hasten to do so.” (Abu Dawood)

Lead by Faith

11 lead by faithThe youth of the twenty-first century has been deeply affected by the social and political turmoil it has witnessed. Every day is a struggle, and in troubled times, passionate hearts and energized minds look for ideals onto which they can cast their mortal selves. So prevalent and severe are the conflicts that the moral compasses of the youth are shaken – in their fear and confusion, they have drifted away from the righteous path set out by all major religions of this day and age. Lessons of tolerance, compassion, sacrifice, brotherhood, and peace have all been shelved away, only to be replaced by the existing prejudices, violence, discrimination, and bigotry. Unless heroes of the past and stories from childhood are revived, our world would face an unprecedented existential threat.

Daring and hopeful about their future, the youth are in need of guidance, which only various institutions working together can provide. These institutions, provided they function relentlessly, can give rise to agents of change.

Home – Every child’s first school

The family provides the very first training. Only the child’s family is aware of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This knowledge allows the family to protect the child from the “big, bad world outside” and becomes a vital source of encouragement when the child opts to be good, displays acts of kindness, and fulfils religious duties. It is this household environment that moulds the reaction and interpretation of the youth, clarifying for him what is wrong and what is right, while stressing on the importance to choose what is right over what is easy. Parents provide their offspring with solid ground to stand on, and in giving them love, they indirectly guide their children towards what they consider to be right, that is, the values they themselves hold as important.

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[Winning Story] An Escapist’s Version of Reality

Winning story of the 3rd Annual Short Story Writing Competition organized by Hiba

10 escapist version of realityI vividly remember the disastrous day my mom forced an Abaya on me. I was an extremely outgoing girl, the very opposite of what my mom wanted me to be. My life revolved around partying, hanging out with school friends, and especially socializing around the many social networking sites on the World Wide Web. One of my closest friends was an emerging musician, and although I did not have a knack for music, she was my source for the latest gossip relating to our school’s social scene.

It was after a parent-teacher meeting at school that my mom became adamant upon having me wear an Abaya: by hook or by crook. In normal circumstances, I would surely not have given in to her way, but back then, I knew that I had lost my ground as my teacher had informed her about all my ‘extra-curricular activities’. My mother was furious. However, it was not her anger that struck me the most; it was the fact that I had betrayed her trust that caused her to hurt most, and that made me reflect upon my character and the path of disloyalty I was treading.

The initial few days of being shrouded in an Abaya were quite miserable. The many times that I would run a critical gaze down my Abaya-donned body made me deeply regret my agreement to have it as an identity for the rest of my life.

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Save Your Sanity This Summer

14 sanityDespite their best efforts to keep their children busy during the friendless summer months, mothers hear the dreaded yet invariable “I’m bored” whine from their children once the planned activity is finished.

To keep your sanity this summer, here are some “filler” ideas to help bide the time in a constructive and fun manner. Write these ideas down on small flash cards for the kids to pull out whenever “there is nothing to do”.

Brain Strain

  1. Think of a number. Write it. Now draw a face/object from it.
  2. Write the names of as many teachers in your school as you can remember.
  3. Name as many flavours of ice-creams as you can remember.
  4. List all the places where you can find sand.
  5. Imagine you have five children. What would you name them and why?
  6. How many animals can you list whose names begin with vowels?
  7. Name twenty colours. Look them up if you don’t know as many.
  8. Write numbers by sixes as far as you can go.
  9. List five parts of the body above the neck that have three letters.
  10. Write a new ending to your favourite book.

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Go with the Flow

health checkThe juggling act women or men usually face between work and family is very tedious and difficult to manage successfully. How do you plan ahead to avoid the obvious pitfalls and anticipate the unexpected twists life throws at you? I have come up with a simple solution: “Go with the Flow.” This might seem as an antithesis to what most articles advise but bear with me and follow these ten simple yet flexible rules.

Prioritize your tasks for the day. Buy a pretty diary (doesn’t have to be too expensive) and use it to jot down your tasks the night before. I realize that smart phones do all that for you, but take a few moments to gather your thoughts, sit down in seclusion (I do this in the laundry room), and jot down everything you must accomplish that day. Do not write down things that can wait for another day. This is your next twenty-four hours’ hot list. There should be only three to five items on the list so that it is flexible enough add two more to, if required. This is your self-analysis. Seerah teaches us that the Prophet’s (sa) day consisted of spiritual development, family time, and personal/social interaction. The questions to ask while jotting down tasks are:

  1. What is worth spending an hour on?
  2. What comes first?
  3. What is a must-do and what is good-to-do?

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Empowering our Masajid

empowering masajidMasajid have always been one of the most important sources of knowledge and guidance for Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (sa) used Masajid not only for prayers but also for various other functions, such as imparting the knowledge of Islamic Shariah to his companions, meeting locals and foreigners, and giving Khutbahs (sermons).

Similarly, during the time of the four rightly-guided Caliphs, Masajid had social, political, and judicial functions. Thus, the Sunnah continued to be practiced. Whenever an area was conquered by the Muslims, the Masjid was the first thing to be built, and the most pious and the most knowledgeable person was appointed as its Imam.

There have been instances in the Muslim history where the most competent person in terms of Islamic values was made the governor of a city and used to give Khutbahs at the central Masjid, which was followed by meetings with the locals to achieve good governance. It was very important for Masajid to have a righteous and scholarly Imam, so he could pass on to the people the correct message of Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (sa).

Over the years, Masajid have lost their central role in the Muslim Ummah. Today, when resources are in abundance, we see that the majority of Masajid in Muslim countries are in a sad state of affairs. Usually, a lot of money and efforts are spent on the construction and interiors of Masajid, while very little attention is given to the appointment of a well-educated Imam. It is a very noble act to spend money on Masajid in any way, but it is far more important to make sure that the Masjid is performing all its functions, as taught by our beloved Prophet (sa).

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The Wedding Night

Bridal-Room-Decoration-6

The wedding night marks the beginning of a whole new kind of relationship deeper and more personal than any other relationship one will ever have, entailing a deluge of unique experiences and considerations.

Between a husband and wife, nothing remains hidden. There are no veils and no barriers, and no shameful parts. How could there be, when the husband is a garment for his wife and she for him? They are to seek comfort and tranquility in one another.

They will be able to enjoy what has always been forbidden to them. This new permissibility is a realization for the husband that this person is his wife, life-partner, and mother of his children. Consequently, his new bride deserves to be treated with the utmost care, consideration, and sensitivity from the very first moment. Therefore, the wedding night should be a night filled with tenderness, intimacy, affection, and joy. In that night, the husband should be seeking to establish ties of love and affection with his wife and placate her worries and fears about the new life she has just embarked upon, so as to ultimately feel secure and at peace with him.

Alhumdullilah, as with all aspects of life, Islam provides us with simple guidelines, which make this event meaningful and blessed for the couple.

The final disposition of things is for those of pious practice, as the Lord of the Worlds said: “As to the Righteous, they shall be amidst (cool) shades and springs (of water). And (they shall have) fruits, – all they desire. ‘Eat and drink to your heart’s content: for that which you worked (for righteousness).’ Thus do We certainly reward the Doers of Good.” (Al-Mursalat 77:41-44)

Kindness toward your wife, when you wish to enter her chamber

When one goes into his wife’s chamber on the wedding night, it is desirable to show her kindness, such as presenting her with something to drink, etc. This is found in the Hadeeth narrated by Asma’ bint Yazid Ibn As-Sakan, who said: “I beautified Aisha (rta) for Allah’s Messenger (sa), then called him to come to see her unveiled. He came, sat next to her, and brought a large cup of milk, from which he drank. Then, he offered it to Aisha (rta), but she lowered her head and felt shy. I scolded her and said to her: ‘Take from the hand of the Prophet (sa).’ She then took it and drank some. Then, the Prophet (sa) said to her: ‘Give some to your companion.’ At that point, I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (sa), rather take it yourself and drink, and then give it to me from your hand.’ He took it, drank some, and then offered it to me. I sat down and put it on my knees. Then, I began rotating it and following it with my lips, in order that I might hit the spot from which the Prophet (sa) had drunk. Then, the Prophet (sa) said about some women, who were there with me: ‘Give them some.’ But, they said: ‘We don’t want it.’ (i.e., we are not hungry). The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Do not combine hunger and fibbing!’ (Ahmad)

The husband should place his hand upon his wife’s head and offer a supplication for her

At the time of consummating the marriage with his wife or before that the husband should, place his hand on the front part of her head and mention the name of Allah (swt) Most High, and pray for Allah’s (swt) blessings. As in the statement of the Prophet: “When any of you marries a woman … he should hold her forelock, mention Allah (swt) Most High, and pray for His blessings saying: “O Allah (swt), I ask You for the good in her and the good with which You have created her, and I seek refuge in You from the evil in her and the evil with which You have created her.'” (Bukhari)

The husband and wife should offer two units of prayer together

This is an established practice of the pious predecessors, as related in the following narration: On the authority of Shaqeeq who said: “A man named Abu Hareez came and said: ‘I have married a young girl, and I am afraid that she will despise me.’ ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood said to him: ‘Verily, closeness is from Allah (swt), and hatred is from Shaitan, who wishes to make despicable that which Allah (swt) has allowed. So, when your wife comes to you, tell her to pray behind you 2 Rakat.'” In another version of the same story, “‘Abdullah went on to say: ‘And say: ‘O Allah (swt), give Your blessings on me in my wife, and to her in me. O Allah (swt), join us together as long as You join us in good, and split us apart, if You send to us that which is better.'” (Ibn Abi Shaibah and at-Tabarani and ‘Abdur-Razzaq: Saheeh)

Before cohabitation with one’s wife or husband, it is desirable to mention the name of Allah (swt)

When a Muslim man is about to enter his wife, he should always say first: “In the name of Allah (swt), O Allah (swt), keep us away from the devil, and keep the devil away from that which You may grant us (i.e., offspring).”

About this the Prophet (sa) said: “After that, if Allah (swt) decrees that they will have a child, the devil will never be able to harm that child.” (Bukhari)

What the husband should do the morning after his wedding night

The following morning, it is desirable for the husband to visit those relatives, who came and visited him to greet and pray for him and his bride. It is also desirable for them to do likewise for him, according to the following Hadeeth narrated by Anas (rta): “The Messenger of Allah (sa) gave a feast on the morning of his wedding night with Zainab (rta), at which he fed the Muslims to satisfaction on bread and meat. Then, he went out to the Mothers of the Believers (i.e., to his other wives), gave them greetings, and prayed for them, which they returned in kind. This is what he used to do on the morning after a wedding night.” (Ibn Sa’d and An-Nasai)

The prohibition of spreading bedroom secrets

It is forbidden for either the husband or the wife to spread any of the secrets of their bedroom or private relations to anyone outside. The following Hadeeth is about this: “The worst in position of all people in the estimation of Allah (swt) on the Day of Resurrection will be the man, who cohabits with his wife, or the woman, who cohabits with her husband, then either of them divulges the secret of his mate.” (Muslim)

The Real Happiness

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The real happinessBy Qainaf Najam

Gasping for breath, he strained his eyes in search of water, but all that lay ahead was the vast barren desert with the sun shining with its full fervor. He sat down, exhausted and hopeless. He was a tourist, a foreigner to this land, lost and roaming around in this desolate desert for over a week now. All his food supplies had finished the day before and no communication with the outer world was possible in this remote area. He stood up again with fresh hope and determination to set forth in search of water. After walking for miles, he saw an oasis. He rubbed his eyes thrice to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination. He felt happiness, like he had never experienced before. He felt ecstatic and ran towards it. He drank like a thirsty crow and soon as he was done, he felt the ecstasy slip away from his body. All that remained was his usual self, fresh as a cucumber after quenching his thirst.

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“Mom, I am so excited. I didn’t sleep a wink”, 24 years old Aila squealed with delight at the prospect of what lay ahead. Years of hard work had paid off and it was her turn to sport the cap and gown. Her mom smiled at her lovingly as she made breakfast for her.

At the convocation, Aila couldn’t sit still. She kept jumping up and down and roaming around with her friends, happiness etched in every line of her face. The look of pure delight on her face as the graduates threw their caps in air was impossible to catch in camera’s eye!

A week later when a relative called to congratulate her, she just smiled – the zeal and joy of the convocation day was long gone!

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“Man, why do you do all this?”

“What?”

“I mean – the charity school…the hospital…the volunteer work you do…How does that benefit you?”

“That is not ‘charity work’, Salik… I’m doing that for myself.”

“For yourself, Usman? But how is a school for the needy and a hospital for the poor any good to you?”

“Why do you go to job?”

“To earn a living, so I can support my family and live a happy and peaceful life.”

“What will happen if you don’t earn anything? Will the world end?”

“Yeah, for me, it will. Because, I won’t be happy and there is no point in living when you are not happy.”

“Exactly. So basically you are working in order to be happy. It’s for your own sake…right?”

“Yes, of course!”

“So that is why I am doing what you call ‘charity and volunteer’ work. You chose to be your boss’s servant; I chose to be my God’s servant. For you, the world will end if you don’t earn money, for me, my ‘Akhirah’ will end if I don’t earn reward in this world. So I am happy doing my job for my real boss!”

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There are three kinds of happiness – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Unless all three are satisfied, you don’t get what is called the real happiness.

Physical happiness refers to the joy every person experiences when their physical needs and desires are fulfilled. Emotional happiness is characterized by feelings you have when you achieve something that you set out for in your life. While physical and emotional happiness is a bodily need, spiritual happiness feeds the soul. Spiritual happiness increases as you increase your spiritual acts. Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest! “ (Ar-Rad 13:28)

The real essence of spiritual happiness is attained when you direct your physical and emotional happiness in the right way and then they fall under the category of spiritual happiness. That is the point where you achieve peace of mind.

“Whosoever believes and does righteous good deeds upon such shall come no fear, not shall they grieve!” (Al-Anam 6:48)

“He of the High Desire”

The road shall go with me...

The road shall go with me…

By Maryam Sakeenah

“I will go where no road goes, and the road shall go with me.”

When I first came across this verse by Joscelyn Ortt, it occurred to me how remarkably it fitted in with the story of Ibrahim’s (as) struggle to surrender. Courageously, honest to the innate truth within the self, he sought out the truest ‘God’ – beginning with the negation of false pagan godhood, he ultimately found Allah (swt). It is fascinating to read the account of his search for the truth:

“When he (Ibrahim) saw the sun rising up, he said: ‘This is my lord. This is greater.’ But when it set, he said: ‘…Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifa, and I am not of Al-Mushrikun…’ And that (faith) was Our Proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly, Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.” (Al-Anam 6:78-83)

Ibrahim (as) brings together in his person honesty and courage to proclaim it loud and clear. He attained the truth through his lone, relentless struggle and rejected once and for all whatever impeded the way to his Lord. He fearlessly showed that truth to the world with all his passion. The Quran quotes Ibrahim (as), while addressing those who rejected the truth:

“Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; and it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; and Who will cause me to die, and then will bring me to life (again); and Who, I hope will forgive my faults on the Day of Recompense.” (Ash-Shuara 26:78-82)

Taking the road less travelled demands strength, persistence and honesty. Only the Hanif (uni-focal) can triumphantly go through the trials it involves and ascend to a higher realm of the contented self (Nafs-e-Mutmainna). Ibrahim’s u struggle was a struggle to win Islam (peace through submission). This struggle began with the negation of false gods (La Ilaha) and led the soul on to a recognition and acceptance of the only truth that brought with it the peace of Ill Allah.

“When his Lord said to him: ‘Submit (i.e. be a Muslim!)’ He said: “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Baqarah 2:131)

Having internalized this faith and lived it out with his person, Ibrahim (as) becomes the embodiment of Tauhid.

“Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah’ (a leader having all the good righteous qualities) or a nation, obedient to Allah, Hanifa (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not among those who were Al-Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and those who joined partners with Allah). (He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) Graces. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to the Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism, neither Judaism nor Christianity).” (An-Nahl 16:120-121)

For when the sweetness of Iman is tasted, nothing else satisfies, nothing else fulfills. Ibrahim (as) was possessed by this single idea, which gave meaning to his life and which enlightened, elevated, enriched and purified. Ibrahim’s u faith in and love for Allah (swt) rings through his beautiful prayers:

“My Lord! Bestow Hukman (religious knowledge, right judgement of the affairs and Prophethood) on me and join me with the righteous; and grant me an honourable mention in the later generations; and make me one of the inheritors of the Paradise of Delight.” (Ash-Shuara 26:83-85)

The achievement of the contented self brings out the soul in all the richness, beauty and grandeur that human nature is capable of, till the exclusive title Ahsan-i-Taqweem (the best of all creation) is earned and Allah (swt) Himself bears testimony of it:

“Salamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim (Abraham)! Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves.” (As-Saffaat 37:109-111)

The faith of the contented self expresses itself in ways larger than life, much greater than what is humanly understandable. The patience of Ibrahim (as) in the trials he went through and his exemplary sacrifices were such an expression of the faith of the contented self, the intensity of which transcends the limitations of historical time. Ibrahim’s u faith broke free from the tethers that bind man to the pettiness of the minimal self (Nafs-e-Ammara) – from base desires and egoistic impulses.

Allah (swt) reciprocates, blesses and preserves the glorious deeds of His righteous slaves. Hence, Ibrahim (as), having triumphed over all of life’s trials, received the boundless love of His Lord. The mention of Ibrahim (as) in the Quran resonates with love of the Speaker, the Lord of Ibrahim (as).

“And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follows Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism); and he is a Muhsin (a good-doer). And follows the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism – to worship none but Allah Alone). And Allah did take Ibrahim (Abraham) as a Khalil (an intimate friend).” (An-Nisa 4:125)

“Verily, Ibrahim (Abraham) was, without doubt, forbearing, used to invoke Allah with humility and was repentant (to Allah all the time, again and again).” (Hud 11:75)

Ibrahim (as) was blessed with leadership, honour and respect. He is revered as the patriarch of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim people, from whom all monotheistic faiths spring forth. And yet, the position of Ibrahim (as) in Islam is unique. The pristine Tauheed of Islam, which accepts no resemblance of Shirk in any manifestation, is the continuation of the mission of Ibrahim (as). Allah (swt) insists in the Quran to follow the religion of Ibrahim, the pure monotheistic tradition:

“… it is the religion of your father Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism).” (Al-Hajj 22:78)

Even before Islam, the Arabs were conscious and proud of their Abrahamic ancestry. Despite the corruption of polytheism and many rampant social ills, the concept of the one God of Ibrahim (as) was part of Arab tradition in one form or another. Islam purified, reinstated and revived that Abrahamic faith with its simple declaration of La ilaha il Allah (no god but Allah) and, hence, has a legitimate claim of being a consummation of the Abrahamic mission.

It will not be an overstatement to say that the ritual of Hajj is in many ways a commemoration of the extraordinary life and struggle of Ibrahim (as) and his family. It celebrates the edifying legacy of Ibrahim (as), who had prayed:

“Our Lord! Make us submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation submissive unto You … send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and indeed Allah answered their invocation by sending Muhammad e, who shall recite unto them Your verses and instruct them in the Book (this Quran) and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom of Prophethood, etc.) and sanctify them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:128-129)

The rituals of Hajj immortalize Ibrahim’s u faith and privilege the believers to take of the immensity of that boundless treasure. The Kabah itself speaks of Ibrahim’s u faith and his belief in the oneness of God.

M. Asad writes: “Never had I felt so strongly as now, before the Kabah, that the hand of the builder (Ibrahim) had come so close to his religious conception. In the utter simplicity of a cube, in the complete renunciation of all beauty of line and form, spoke this thought: ‘Whatever beauty man may be able to create with his hands, it will be only conceit to deem it worthy of God; therefore, the simplest that man can conceive is the greatest that he can do to express the glory of God.’… Here, in the Kabah, even the size spoke of human renunciation and self-surrender; the proud modesty of this structure had no compare in the world.”

Each time the pilgrim performs a ritual, he experiences again for a blessed moment that edifying legacy and revives within him again – in a minuscule proportion – that spirit. When he prays at the Maqam-e-Ibrahim, he as a monotheist reaffirms his association with Ibrahim (as), the Haneef, and realizes how the passionate faith of “those of the high desire” is immortalized by the Immortal, how the footsteps in the sands of time remain, leading, guiding, enlightening and blessing – always showing the way, the Sirat-al-Mustaqeem; going where no road goes, taking the road with them.

Seeing the Glass Half Full

Winning story of “A Life-Changing Experience” Story-writing Competition Organized by hiba

glass half full

“Oh no! Another pimple on my face!” I exclaimed.

During my teenage years, I had something to whine about every day: my short height, my plump physique, why I was not as fair as snow or why Allah (swt) had given pretty eyes to my best friend instead of me. And oh yes, if I spotted a fresh pimple on my face in the morning, my mother wouldn’t hear the end of it. She would often tell me that I was very beautiful the way Allah (swt) had created me. However, for me, being as beautiful as all the ‘picture-perfect models’ was terribly important.

“Beauty lies in the inner self. Make your soul beautiful and people will love you for it,” my mom would often say. “See how intelligent Allah (swt) has made you. Just look at your academic results! You should be one grateful girl, sweetheart,” my dad would say in order to lift my spirits.

But nothing worked for me. The inferiority complex had totally overtaken me, and I had become a miserable teen, who envied every beautiful girl around. Materialism and glamour had made me a thankless creature.

Sometimes, we experience events that have a huge influence on our lives. No matter how long we live, some particular incident becomes deeply engraved into our memory, leaving a lasting impact. The same happened to me, when Allah (swt) decided to help me out one day.

In 2004, I decided to attend a training workshop by an NGO named LIOCS (Leading Institute of Competitive Skills), which was arranged by a young team led by two visually impaired youngsters. They believed in the philosophy: “If we can’t see the world, then let us do something, so that the world can see us.”

During one of the lunch breaks at the workshop, the most unforgettable activity took place. In the conference room, all the participants were blindfolded and asked to find their way to the kitchen, where lunch was served for them.

“It will be a lot of fun,” I thought, as I happily put on my blindfold. After all, the kitchen was just two minutes away. But, to my profound surprise, that two-minute walk from the conference room to the kitchen turned out to be the longest walk of my life.

It was strange, how a mere blindfold had deprived me of my entire confidence. With a feeling of helplessness sweeping all over me, I slowly set off for this ordeal that seemed to go on forever. Mumbling ‘sorry’ and ‘excuse me’ every four to five steps, as I stumbled and banged into other participants or the door or a pillar, was very embarrassing for me and many others.

The sound of the kitchen door being banged with a saucepan by one of the trainers was the only ray of light in the pitch black darkness that surrounded me.

The entrance to the kitchen came as a big relief, but the nightmare wasn’t over yet. The worst was yet to come. We had been briefed about the location of lunch boxes, salad, paper cups and drinks. However, I lost my orientation upon entering the kitchen and couldn’t make out, where the things were. When after multiple attempts, I finally got hold of the lunch box, I squatted onto the floor and started to eat the rice.

Suddenly, I heard the trainer say, “Hey, you, why are you sitting in the doorway? Do you want someone to trip over you?”

Red-faced, I stood up apologetically. On the other side of the kitchen, the second trainer was ridiculing another participant: “Tsk, tsk, it seems you cannot see, you poor boy!”

Without being able to see the food, my appetite was already half gone. Above all, the trainers were amplifying our frustration with such shameful remarks as: “Can’t you manage such a little thing?” and “Maybe Allah (swt) has taken away your sight for the sins that you have done!” and other mean remarks. (This was all part of the programme.)

That was the turning point in my life; it was the moment that changed my perception about life. I realized for the first time, what a marvellous gift is sight, which I had always taken for granted. When we were finally allowed to take off the blindfolds, the relief I felt was beyond words.

In an instant, the darkness vanished and the world became so colourful, so bright, so… worth living!

That day, as I drove back home, I was a transformed person. I was a totally new Iram, who could empathize and be thankful for Allah’s (swt) blessings. On my way, as the traffic signal turned red, I saw a crippled beggar, who made me wonder: “Iram, what is there to feel sad about, if you can’t afford the latest fashion heels? At least you have a perfect pair of feet for walking and running and a dozen pairs of other sandals.”

I had learnt my lesson. So what if I am not a beauty queen? At least Allah (swt) is generous enough to bless me with all five senses. Every organ of my body is functioning perfectly. So what if I don’t have beautifully coloured eyes? I still can see what an amazing and colourful place this world is.

So what if a pimple appears on my face once in a while? Thanks to Allah (swt), I look prettier than countless others with skin diseases. Visit a hospital some day, and you will come across hundreds envying you, ready to exchange places with you. Walk a mile in the shoes of those who sleep on roads, and you will know how lucky you are.

I have finally begun to appreciate Allah’s (swt) countless blessings.

It’s all about seeing the glass half full.

Did you know?

  • 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision.
  • 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.
  • Over a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability.

(Source: World Health Organization)

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms (Final Part)

classroom

26) Turn the attention of the questioner towards a more important issue.

Sometime it is better to turn the attention of the questioner to a more important issue. Once a person asked the Messenger (sa) when the Day of Judgement would come. Instead of replying, the Prophet (sa) asked him: “What have you prepared for it?” The man said that he hadn’t done much in terms of praying, fasting and charity, but he did love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). The Messenger (sa) said: “You will be with whom you love.” (Bukhari)

The question that the person asked was out of genuine curiosity, but the answer was neither revealed to the Messenger (sa), nor did he consider his preparation for it. So he turned the attention of the questioner towards a more important and pressing issue, i.e., his deeds.

If the teacher doesn’t know the answer to a question, or thinks there are other more important things to be taught, s/he should not snub the student but rather divert him/her to what s/he thinks needs to be learnt first.

27) It doesn’t matter, if you are a bit inconvenienced.

A Bedouin approached the Messenger (sa), while the latter was on a journey. The person took hold of the reins of the Prophet’s (sa) camel and then said: “O Messenger of Allah! Inform me of what will draw me closer to paradise and take me away from (hell) fire.” The Prophet (sa) said: “He has certainly been blessed or guided.” The Messenger (sa) then addressed the person saying: “What did you say?” The person then repeated his question. The Messenger (sa) replied: “You should worship Allah (swt) and not ascribe any partners to Him. You should establish Salah, give Zakah and maintain good relationships with your kith and kin. You may now leave my camel.” (An-Nasai)

Note: Even if you are in a hurry, give attention to the seekers of knowledge. A little inconvenience for the teacher may result in a huge benefit for the student.

28) Don’t criticize directly.

Many a time, the Prophet (sa) would observe a person committing a wrong deed. He would immediately take action, but not necessarily point out the wrongdoer. He would stand and address the people saying that ‘some people do so and so’, so that the individual would not be embarrassed before everyone.

Not only does this method protect a student’s self-esteem, it also teaches others about the incorrect action. At the same time, it strengthens the bond between the teacher and the student.

29) Use humour.

A person asked the Prophet (sa) to give him a camel, so that he may carry his goods on it. So the Messenger (sa) said to him: “I will give you the offspring of a she-camel.” The man said: “O Messenger (sa)! What can I do with the offspring of a she-camel?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Is it not so that camels only give birth to camels?” (Abu Dawood)

The Messenger (sa) used to joke and jest with his companions on certain occasions. However, he spoke nothing but the truth. His humor did not hurt, offend or insult anyone. The companions asked him: “O Messenger (sa)! You joke with us?” He replied: “I speak nothing but the truth.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) used to teach many things through joking and humour. In the above Hadeeth, he teaches analytical thinking and deduction, at the same time lightening the atmosphere of the assembly. A classroom tends to get stuffy at times. A light hearted joke or anecdote blows away the clouds of stiffness and perks up the atmosphere.

30) Show interest in children’s hobbies.

Abu Umayr (rtam) was a young boy who had a pet bird. The Messenger (sa) was aware of this fact. One day, the bird died. When the Prophet (sa) came to visit them, he saw that Abu Umayr was sad. So he asked: “What has happened to him?” The people of the house said: “His bird has died.” The Prophet (sa) said to him: “O Abu Umayr! What has happened to the Nughayr (small bird)?” (Abu Dawood)

This shows the Messenger’s (sa) affection and compassion for the young child, whose bird had died, leaving him heartbroken. Upon seeing the sad look on the child’s face, the Prophet (sa) immediately enquired about the matter and consoled him with words of comfort. I would like to add here that the Messenger (sa) was an exceptionally busy man, assigned the greatest and most difficult task in the history of mankind – yet, he was not too busy to inquire about the happiness of a small child. Such acts develop a strong bond between the teacher and his students, one that is pivotal in successful learning.

31) Be open to suggestions.

When the companions reached the battlefield of Badr with the Messenger (sa), he chose a certain position for pitching the tents of the army. One of the companions, Hubab bin Munzir (rtam), who was a seasoned war strategist, approached him and said: “Has this place been chosen by Allah (swt) or is it your own decision?” The Prophet (sa) replied that it wasn’t a revelation from Allah (swt); rather, he had chosen it by himself. Hubab (rtam) then requested him to consider his decision, because there was another spot at a better location for the battle. The Messenger (sa) readily accepted this proposal and changed the location of the base camp.

If the Messenger (sa) is open to suggestions at all times, the teacher too should feel happy to have students who are able to reflect and suggest ideas to him. This does not make the teacher bound to ‘obey’ a suggestion , but s/he is bound to allow students to make them.

32) Leniency in punishments.

The Messenger (sa) said: “Allah loves that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) himself disliked awarding a physical punishment to people and encouraged mildness in all matters. The way of the Messengers (sa) was one of love and affection. Those around him obeyed him, because they loved him and feared his disobedience, because they knew their sins upset him, not because they would be beaten.

The anger of the teacher should be feared, because it might banish someone from his/her good books, not because of corporal punishment.

Anas bin Malik (rtam) narrates: “I served the Prophet (sa) for ten years, and he never said to me, ‘Uff’ (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, ‘Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?’” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) did not, however, ban physical punishment. He said: “Teach the child to pray, when he is seven years old, and smack him, if he does not pray, when he is ten.”

Firstly, keep in mind that a Muslim child ought to see his parents and those around him involved in prayer from the time s/he is born. Growing up in such a household would automatically result in him/her engaging in Salah from a very young age. The Messenger (sa) has asked us to encourage a child to offer Salah regularly at the age of seven and to ensure that s/he does so by the age of ten. This means that the next three years should be spent teaching and training him. And when all this fails, then he has suggested physical punishment. There are certain things to be noted. A ten-year-old child, having spent his/her entire life watching people offer Salah, would not abstain from it. In case s/he does so, there might be some special reason behind it, which must be attended to. And before someone starts beating up their children, remember that the Messenger (sa) forbade striking anyone on the face, hitting so hard as to leave a mark on the body and beating excessively. Also, remember the purpose of physical punishment is not to injure a child but to scare him/her from an evil deed, nor should the punishment serve as a vent of frustration, when the teacher fails in his/her own duty.

A piece of advice: do not use your hands to inflict a blow; whenever your hands reach out to the child, it should always be for affection. Also remember that the fear of physical punishment should be used more often than the punishment itself. Another thing is that physical punishment does not necessarily have to be hitting, but it could also be strenuous exercise or banishment from an enjoyable task.

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

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Fiqh of Tawbah

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The Prophet (sa) used to ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness more than 70 times a day. (Bukhari) Should we not be concerned about asking for forgiveness 70 times more than that?

The term ‘Tawbah’ is defined in two ways. In the linguistic sense, Tawbah is derived from the Arabic root word ‘Taba Yatutbu’, which literally means to ‘return to something’. Sinning is not a part of human beings’ natural disposition. Hence, when we sin we fall out of our Fitrah, we repent we return to our Fitrah. In the conventional sense, Tawbah is defined by Hafiz Ibn Hajar as leaving a sin due to its ugly nature, feeling remorseful over indulging in a sin, resolving to never repeat a sin and returning the rights of the people, if it was involved in a sin.

Elements of Tawbah

For repentance to be accepted, it needs the following important elements.

  1. Sincerity of Intention

We repent to Allah (swt) because we fear Him. It is not because of people or any other reason. Allah says: “…invoke Him…with the intention that you are doing your deeds for Allah’s sake only…” (Al-Araf 7:29)

  1. Feeling remorseful

The Prophet (sa) said that remorse is repentance (Ibn Majah).

  1. Resolve to stay away from sins

If this determination is lacking, it can nullify the Tawbah itself. However, if one returns to the sin, it doesn’t nullify the repentance as long as this resolve is intact. For one to stay determined on one’s Tawbah, one should keep doing good deeds, stay away from the places and sources of sins, adopt good companionship, engage in Dhikr and be prepared for death.

  1. Return the rights

Return the rights to Allah (swt) (if it’s Allah’s (swt) right that is taken away) and/or to people (if it’s people’s tangible or intangible right that is taken away).

  1. Repent before it’s too late

Tawbah is accepted only if offered before the prescribed time. This time for an individual is when one sees one’s death approach him or her. Hence, it’s the time before the soul leaves the body or reaches the throat. As we see in the example of Firaun, the time he made repentance was not accepted as he had already seen his death approach him.

Collectively, the time of Tawbah will expire when the sun will rise from the west instead of the east, which is one of the biggest sign of the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

Virtues of Tawbah

There are many benefits to achieve by doing Tawbah. Following are some of them:

  1. Attaining love of Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) says: “…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance…” (Al-Baqarah 2:222) Those who are loved by Allah (swt) will receive guidance, Allah’s protection and safety from hellfire.

  1. Success

Allah (swt) says: “…And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:31) This can also refer to worldly success, in terms of giving up sins, purifying our habits, etc.

  1. Acceptance of good deeds

Allah (swt) says: “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71)

  1. Forgiveness and Allah’s (swt) Mercy

Allah (swt) says: “But those who committed evil deeds and then repented afterwards and believed, verily, your Lord after (all) that is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Araf 7:153) The mercy of Allah (swt) expands to such an extent that evil deeds change into good deeds for the one who does Tawbah. (Al-Furqan 25:70)

  1. Blessings in this world and hereafter

Blessings in this world may include, rain, children, spouses, rivers, gardens and wealth that is not necessarily in huge sums but will benefit more and go a long way. (Nuh 71:10-12) Likewise, the blessings of hereafter includes pardon, paradise, safety from disgrace, being with the Prophet (sa) and having our light perfected. (At-Tahrim 66:8)

  1. Receiving the supplications of the angels

Allah (swt) says: “Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’” (Ghafir 40:7)

  1. Obeying the will of Allah (swt) and pleasing Him

Allah (swt) says: “Allah wishes to accept your repentance…” (An-Nisa 4:27) Allah (swt) becomes happy with the repentance of His slave such that He erases sins completely as stated by Prophet (sa) that a sinner who repents is like the one who has not committed the sin. (Ibn Majah)

Errors in making Tawbah

There are certain mistakes that people make in Tawbah, of which one needs to be careful:

  1. Not repenting at all: This is a characteristic of Shaytan; Allah (swt) commands us to not follow the footsteps of Shaytan, as indeed he is our plain enemy.
  2. Delaying Tawbah: One thinks that when they will get to a certain point in life or a specific age, then they will repent. However, we do not know when our death is written for us. What if tomorrow never comes?
  3. Not giving Tawbah its due importance: This means to be heedlessness towards Tawbah or forget to repent because it is not important for one anymore.
  4. Heedlessness of sins: One performs good deeds but is not careful about leaving sins.
  5. Fear of returning to sins: Some people think they are too weak to give up certain sins. Hence, out of fear of returning to that sin again, they do not repent. However, repentance will be the cause of increase in strength, Insha’Allah!
  6. Leaving Tawbah out of fear of what people will say: We live in a society where many of us are people pleasers. However, a Mumin or a Muslim is Allah’s (swt) pleaser first and foremost. Moreover, pleasing people is a goal that will never be achieved. If we live to please Allah (wwt), Allah and his people will be pleased with us, Insha’Allah!
  7. The argument of Qadr (predestination): We often hear people saying: “If Allah wants me to pray, he will make me start praying.” However, to understand Qadr, we need to see the two types of will. The first type is existential will that is only in Allah’s (swt) control, for example, our birth and our death. We have no control over them. The second type is legislative will, which consists of commands and prohibitions. In this, we have a choice or free will for which we will be judged upon by Allah on the Day of Judgement. Tawbah falls in the second category.
  8. Despair of Allah’s (swt) mercy: This happens because we forget that the doors to Tawbah are always open His slaves, as Allah mentions: “…Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins…’” (Az-Zumar 39:53) Moreover, Allah mentions at different places in the Quran that even a hypocrite has a chance to repent (An-Nisa 4:145-146); even a disbeliever has a chance to repent (Al-Maidah 5:73-74); even an oppressor has a chance to repent (Al-Buruj 85:10).

There are various signs of an accepted Tawbah in this world and in the hereafter. In this world, the sign is that the person, who did Tawbah, is guided to do good deeds. He or she becomes a caller to Tawbah and has an ultimate good ending. Additionally, the sign of an accepted Tawbah in the hereafter is easy reckoning of deeds by Allah (swt) and attainment of paradise.

We have amongst us a prime example of the one who repented and the one who didn’t repent, along with their ultimate ends. When Adam (as) disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for forgiveness. However, when Iblees disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for respite and an extension of life until the end of time to lead the children of Adam (as) astray. Allah (swt) answered both requests. Hence, it is Tawbah that determines one’s ultimate end in the hereafter: paradise or hellfire!

Adapted from a workshop organized by Azan in Karachi. Summarized for Hiba Magazine by Nageen Pervez, team member, Azan.