How Much Do You Love Allah (swt)?

how much do you love AllahGoing through Surah Saffat (37), I came across a very beautiful section. Right after Allah (swt) talks about Ibrahim (as) when he, as a young man taught his people about Shirk and Tauheed, it is mentioned that when Ibrahim (as) grew old, Allah (swt) blessed him with a beautiful son named Ismail (as). Ismail (as) learnt to walk but we don’t know his exact age. Some scholars state that he had just started to walk, while others say that he could actually walk at the same pace as his father Ibrahim (as), so he might have been thirteen years of age.

Nevertheless, Ibrahim (as) saw in his dream that he was killing his son. This is mentioned in the Quran:

“And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: ‘O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you think!’ He said: ‘O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).’” (As-Saffat 37:102)

Ibrahim (as) beautified his son Ismail (as) on that day, put on him his best clothes, and fed him a great breakfast. Then he took him to the place of slaughtering. Some scholars of Tafseer state it was Mina, which is in Makkah, while others say it was Syria.

“Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering).” (As-Saffat 37:103)

When Ibrahim (as) laid Ismail (as) on the ground and sharpened his sword, tears rolled down his cheeks. Verse 103 states “Falamma Aslama” (“when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah)”) and “Wa Tallaho lil Jabeen” (“he had laid him prostrate on his forehead”). This is strange because when you place someone on the ground, you generally have him lie face up, so when you cut the neck, you simply slit the windpipe. If you place him face down, you will have to cut his spinal cord in the bones.

So why did Ibrahim (as) put him face down? And what was the purpose of asking Ibrahim (as) to slaughter his son?

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Thinking about the Extended Family

By Qainaf Najam

family6“The world is a very big house, many people living in many boxes,” says Dawud Wharnsby Ali in one of his Nasheeds. Every day I walk around in this big house – I explore new pathways, discover fresh stones and cross numerous boxes on the way. I peek inside each box and see people. Each box is unique… each box has its own type of people, and every person is different in their own tremendous way.

I interviewed a couple of youngsters, posing to them the following question: “Who is your favourite relative and why?” Here are the choices they made:

  • 13-year-old Maryam Sharif said: “I like and prefer Ayesha Tahir, my female cousin, the most. I idealize her for her caring nature towards her young cousins and everybody else. Apart from that, she loves art and crafts, which is a common trait in us. So naturally I enjoy, when she stays over at our place, and we watch movies and do fun stuff together.”
  • Hamza Arshad, a 9th grade student, says that his favourites would be the sons of his cousin, namely Khursund and Asfand. “They are my best pals, because we are almost the same age and, hence, share similar interests. I love playing cricket, and it is like a blessing, when I get the company of other two in it as well. Also, I feel close to them, because I can totally open up to them and talk about anything,” observes Hamza.
  • “My cousin Aidah,” replied Saman Arif promptly, without a moment’s hesitation. Saman, a 19-year-old girl doing her A’levels from a prestigious institution, says: “I hate people, who talk when I want them to just listen, and Aidah is my best ‘silent’ listener, who is always there to hear my long and never ending gossips patiently… and giving wise advices often. We have a lot in common. Even though she lacks the ‘adventure’ genes that I have inherited, I usually drag her into my activities, which makes them even more enjoyable. My stomach literally aches, until I have rattled off my day’s routine to her. I often wonder, if her ears ache after my talking, but it doesn’t matter… she would be too sweet to admit even if it did. She’s my best friend, sister, helper and advisor.”
  • Another teenager Tanzila Raza speaks about an extraordinary relative of hers: “My favourite relative is Daboo. He is the son of my nana’s driver. It may sound funny, but he is as good as a relative to me. He is a man, who knows how to manage blood ties, when no blood ties exist. He has always devotedly served our family just like his father. Despite having children as a doctor and a lawyer in Melbourne, Daboo continued his love and care for us and dropped us to school as always. He remained our dear caretaker and butler, and I salute his loyalty and love for my Nana. Unfortunately, he died three years ago in his late sixties. People like him are rare to find and must be treated with great care and warmth.”
  • This is how a 20-year-old undergraduate Dabeer answered the query: “It has to be my elder cousin, simply because we have lots in common, and she is about the only person, who understands me, so I can totally confide in her. She is the only person and that’s the only reason.”
  • “I like my Mamun most. He is generous, sympathetic and helps others without any worldly intentions. I’m not sure, whether he takes care of his prayers or not, but I bet he is always ahead to help humanity just for the sake of humanity and for the sake of Almighty Allah (swt),” came the wise response from FD Sheikh, a 22-year-old student doing his CA.

Allah (swt) has laid great importance on maintaining blood relations, so much so that those, who break blood ties, have openly been declared as losers. Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us all the beautiful earthly relations. It is mandatory for us as Muslims to enjoy these relations, handle them with love and teach the same values to those under our care. May Allah (swt) guide us all towards the right path, Ameen.

So what’s your priority?


Once, Stephen Covey travelled to Chicago for a business presentation. The same night, his fourteen-year-old daughter was to act in a side role in a school play. He knew that Colleen was not in the lead and realized that probably she will never be. But that night was her night. He was guilty of not being there, when the audience would cheer for her. He could have arranged his schedule to be there, but somehow Colleen’s play had gotten lost in the pressures of his work demands.

Stephen called up his daughter to wish her well. He realized that as a parent it was important for him to be there for praising and affirming his child, even though he could not attend the event.

It’s not enough just to claim that “family” is important. You need to show your commitment by actions. In his words: “One of the worst feelings in the world is when you realise that the “first things” in your life – including your family – are getting pushed into second or third place, even further down the list. And it becomes even worse, when you realise what’s happening as a result.” Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

The question then arises: if family is what we can die for, why does it get subordinated to other values, work, friends or private hobbies? Why don’t we give our primary attention and focus to what matters most to us?

Imagine, in an average American home, a child spends seven hours daily watching TV and five minutes with dad. Unbelievable! But Pakistan is not too far behind. I still remember that a friend of mine always used to joke about her husband’s late arrival from work. “One day, when he will ask me after arriving late at night as usual: ‘Where are the girls (referring to his daughters)?’ I will tell him: ‘Oh! Don’t you know? They were married off, while you were busy in a board meeting.’”

She always laughed out loud, but I could feel her underlying pain – the pain of being left alone to head the family and fulfil the role of a father and a mother, while her husband thought that his family needed more of his money than his time and presence. The standard of living was being raised, while the quality of relations was being dropped.

Also, people seldom forget their miserably lonely childhood. If their parents have abandoned them for some other mission in life, these kids carry the bitterness all the way, until they express it in some form or the other.

In May 1997, U.S. News and World Report published a hard-hitting article entitled “Lies Parents Tell Themselves About Why They Work”. Today, we have a similar case in Pakistan and many other countries. Here are some of the lies mentioned in the report:

  1. We need the extra money. (But research shows that better off individuals are nearly as likely to say that they are working for ‘basic necessities’, as those who live close to the poverty line.)
  2. Daycare is perfectly good. (Cases of physical and emotional abuse of minor children have never been this high in the country.)
  3. Inflexible companies are the key problem. (Many people willingly spend more time at the office. Homes have become an efficiently run joyless workplace, while the actual workplace with empowerment and team work is more like family.)
  4. Careers cannot be sacrificed. (This is a new breed of women, who have been raised like men. Their family is negotiable but their careers are not; hence, their kids are raised by others for them.)
  5. Role reversal. (Men don’t mind their wives stepping out and supporting them earn the desired lifestyle.)

Many fathers slave it all day with very noble intentions for their families. But as it is said – bad judgements cannot replace noble intentions. If you are not present at the helm of affairs, someone else will look after your familial needs. Something always fills a vacuum. Children do not just need to be fed, clothed and schooled – they are humans with sentiments, dreams and fears. If they do not have reliable and understanding parents to turn to, they will turn to something else. It will be friends, gadgets, gizmos or pastimes. These children will not judge or question the sincerity of others – they will simply go with the flow to be accepted, because of an emotional starvation at home.

How can we, as heads of our respective family, address these critical issues? Surely we can’t quit our jobs and nest with the rest at home. What we need today is a more dynamic set of solutions for facing the new challenges of leading a family. We need to support, advise, use our judgement, and offer our experience, our strength and our decisiveness to them. This requires us to offer our quality time to the family constantly and consistently.

Stephen Covey suggests: “In a family, order means that the family is prioritised and that some kind of structure is in place to make that priority happen. The creation of a family mission statement provides the foundational structure for the inside-out approach to family living. Additionally, there are two major organising structures or processes that will help you put the family first in a meaningful way in your daily life: a weekly ‘family time’ and one-on-one bonding times.”

The main purpose of ‘family time’ or ‘family night’ (whatever you prefer to call it) is to have one time during the week that is focused on being a family. This facilitates you to meet four of your needs: spiritual (to plan), mental (to teach), physical (to solve problems) and social (to have fun).

In one-on-ones, you allow the other person to have his or her interests and goals expressed or worked on. The one-on-ones are where most of the real work of the family is done. This is where the most significant teaching, the most profound sharing and the deepest bonding take place.

May Allah (swt) guide us to become responsible and dexterous craftsmen, who mould the souls and lives of their families, and most importantly, help us to remember that if we don’t, someone else will – and everybody will have to live with the results.

You will Reclaim Them!

July 11- You will reclaim them

We all realize that this world can be a better place, so we begin to fix what is wrong. Essentially, we start with others. Why do we do that? Why can’t we fix our own self first? It makes more sense to work within our ‘circle of influence’ rather than fret about our ‘circle of concern’.

Family life is no different. Something or the other constantly hinders it from attaining a beautiful ‘we culture’, where family members deeply, sincerely and genuinely enjoy being together and have a shared sense of beliefs and values.

Do you know how a Chinese bamboo tree grows? After you sow the seed of this tree, you see absolutely nothing for nearly four years, except a tiny shoot emerging from a bulb. But during those initial years, all the growth occurs underground. A massive and fibrous root structure spreads deep and wide in the earth. And take a guess at what happens during the fifth year? The Chinese bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet tall!

This is also how our family life works. We invest valuable time and tireless effort to nurture growth. But we don’t witness any results for weeks, months and sometimes even years. However, if we have patience, we will see phenomenal growth, change and results in the fifth year. The problem is that we don’t persevere long enough and abort our hopes long before our efforts can bear fruit.

Doesn’t the Holy Quran say that the road to Jannah is through Sabr and Salah? Then, how can we imagine achieving anything worthwhile in this world, without exhibiting patience? Especially as parents, doesn’t it mean to suffer inside, so that others can grow? It also facilitates the understanding of our inner weaknesses and true motives behind each action. Patience truly means faith in action and emotional diligence.

“Inside each of us is this deep longing for ‘home’, for the rich, satisfying relationships and interactions of quality family life. And we must never give up. No matter how far we feel we’ve gotten off track, we can always take steps to correct the course. I strongly encourage you: no matter how far away a son or daughter seems to be, hang in there. Never give up. Your children are bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, whether physically by birth or emotionally by the bonding of the family commitment you have made. Eventually, like the prodigal son, they will return. You will reclaim them.” (Stephen R. Covey)

Means to Reclaim Your Kin

Principle of self-improvement

Sometimes, as parents, you have had no role-models, or worse, bad memories of your own parents’ fights. In such situations, you are either clueless or repeat the same mistakes they made with you. It is highly recommended that whenever you get into a frustrating situation, pause. Examine your tendencies. Compare yourself with your vision. Avoid speaking impulsively. Retire frequently to the solitude of your inner self to recommit to winning your battles. This will keep your motives straight. It will also give you a clearer perspective and greater control of your own thoughts and behaviour.

Principle of honesty

When implementing change, involve your family and honestly admit the mistakes you have made in the past. This does not mean that you compromise on your values or principles to please them. If you slip into your previous nasty behaviour – apologize. Also, never lie. Their young minds evaluate you on these supposedly insignificant gestures which, in reality, have a long-range impact on your relationship with them.

Principle of respect

Just because you are in charge, you do not have the right to be disrespectful to your children, even when they are off-track. Remember: your children will internalize the very modes you use to resolve conflicts. If that includes name-calling, yelling, threatening, using physical abuse or foul language, it is a clear violation of the principle of respect, whether you are in public or private, regardless of your child’s age. The Prophet’s (sa) winning card was treating others (foes or friends) with courtesy, respect and honour, all the time.

Principle of trust

Do not label your child. If he has been labelled in the past, now is the time to unfreeze it. Your child draws his security from you as a parent, and if you don’t trust his inner strength and capability, he has nowhere to turn for support. Never break promises you make to him. It is one of the greatest withdrawals from any emotional bank account. Weigh your words very carefully. If you are unsure, do not commit.

Principle of empathy

Listen to your child attentively and sincerely, without interrupting, passing judgements and accusing with curt remarks. One of the deepest hungers of the human heart is to be heard and understood. Sometimes, all that your kids want is your time and understanding to de-stress themselves. Give it to them. Your schedule, house keeping, guests, in-laws, etc., should be secondary in priority when your child needs you emotionally. A successful way to do this is to keep a one-on-one meeting/outing/leisure time (of your kid’s choice) at least once a week, so you can find out what’s happening in his life. Please remember this is not sermon time! This is just to figure out where your child needs help. Otherwise, just chill and have fun with him.

Principle of love

Lastly and most significantly, the primary laws of love mean love in its purest form, which is unconditional. It means acceptance rather than rejection, understanding rather than judgement and participation rather than manipulation. This is any parent’s pro-active choice. It is very much within your circle of influence. It is not dependent on anyone else’s behaviour, social status, education, wealth, reputation, etc. When you live according to the primary laws of love, you encourage obedience to the primary laws of life, such as honesty, responsibility, integrity, service, etc.

Most of us wrongly live by the counterfeit laws of love, which is being conditional. We will love him only if he “behaves”. We cannot separate behaviour from the individual and, hence, do not believe in the unseen potential. Goethe said: “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can or should be, and he will become as he can and should be.”

Your greatest joys and your deepest heartaches surround what is happening in your family life. As someone said: “No mother is happier than her most unhappy child.” When you sense a gap between your vision of a rich and joyful family life you want to have and the reality of your everyday family life, you feel disappointed. But do not despair. There is hope, tremendous hope, especially if you have faith in Allah (swt). Just keep working at it and do not give up. The Chinese bamboo tree will eventually grow!

Being Proactive

Jan 11 - Being Proactive

How can family members be proactive?

There are two types of people in the world: proactive and reactive. Proactive individuals make choices based on values, whereas reactive people make their choices on impulse, as animals do.

To understand the difference between the two, you can imagine a bottle of water and a can of soda. What happens when you shake a bottle of water? Nothing. It simply remains cool, composed and in control. But what happens when you shake a can of soda? It pops! It lets out fizz, bubbles, sound, etc. It goes out of control.

If you want to be proactive, embrace the following immediately:

1. Be kind

In relationships, the little things are the big things. Such sincerely spoken words as ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘excuse me’, ‘you go first’ and ‘may I help you’ contribute towards a pleasant atmosphere. Helping family members with small chores when they are least expecting them goes a long way towards building relationships of trust and unconditional love.

2. Apologize

For most of us, our sense of security is based on our image, our position or on being right. Apologizing means draining all the juice from our ego. But remember – even if our temper surfaces only one hundredth of 1% of the time, it will affect the quality of our entire life, if we do not take responsibility for it and apologize.

3. Be loyal to the absent

Always talk about others, as if they were present. Imagine if our loved ones overhear us making disloyal comments about them, how hurt they would be, and how ashamed we would be. Never lend your ear to gossips; soon, the conversation will loose its spice and shift to other interesting subjects.

4. Forgive

You will always remain a victim, until you forgive. Once you have done that, you will open the channels through which trust and unconditional love can flow. You cleanse your own heart and give others a chance to change.

5. Never presume

Most of us impose our plans on others without taking their convenience into consideration. For instance, if you know that your elder sister has to submit a really important assignment on a Monday, you should be considerate and NOT invite your friends over on the weekend and expect her to entertain them. Ask such questions as: “Is this alright with you?” before planning anything that affects the rest of your family members.

Together in Dunya; Together in Jannah

Jan 11 - Together in Duniya together in Jannah

Grandma could handle France’s snow but not 2003’s killer heat-wave. Her family went on vacation, leaving her alone. Her body, in a refrigerated truck, remained unclaimed like four hundred others, awaiting burial till vacation was over.

Welcome to family-life in the ‘developed’ world: parents in old-homes, children in day-cares and couples in divorce-battles!

Are we following them or Islam’s strong family-system?


Abu Muhammad’s father worked for the police in the Middle East. He was required to arrive in shiny shoes, but the path to work was sandy. To save dad from walking bare-footed, Abu Muhammad carried him to the workplace in his arms. With little wealth but much faith, Abu Muhammad died in 2010. His wife praised him; his brothers called him ‘shakkar’ (sugar). and his children loved him. He prayed in the Masjid despite poor health, fed the needy and strove to raise children uprightly – waking them for Fajr, reading Quran to them, reminding them to read it and telling them that Salah and Quran will avail them. If sometimes his child didn’t listen, he would respond: “I will do Sabr (exercise patience).” This would soften the child. When a close relative usurped his property, he forgave him.

Love and fear of Allah (swt) inspires such a family-life. A family is a society’s foundation. Can it earn us Jannah?

Our parents love us and toil for us the most. Are we grateful to them? Despite their shortcomings, their rights remain topmost, second only to Allah’s (swt). I know of a brother, who would say to his hot-tempered father: “You are a king. You may speak as you wish.” Our mothers cleaned us some five thousand times by the time we were four. We have to serve our parents, too. Do we consult them? Consultation pleases them and benefits us. Do we prefer friends over parents or wife over mother? Are the charms of a foreign country making us desert them? Phone and the Internet substitute poorly for physical presence.


Marriage! Marry young. Marry the one strong in Deen. Your spouse is a garment – close, protective and beautifying. As a wife, accept the husband’s high status established by Allah (swt). Ensuring his happiness secures your happiness and Aakhirah. Obedience endears you to him and eases entry into Jannah through any gate. Be grateful to him for all he does, unlike the women of Hell.

As a husband, realize that Allah (swt) will question you about how you treated your wife. Society may sanction the mistreatment of women; Islam won’t. Emulate Rasoolullah’s (saw) loving, kind, appreciative, light-hearted and helpful behaviour towards his wives. Lower your gaze and enjoy each other exclusively. Shaitan’s top priority is wrecking marriages. Make marriage a top priority.

Our in-laws are our relatives. Our relations with them affect our marriage and children. Both Muslim men and women need to treat in-laws nicely. We need to sift faith from culture, though. Certain customs run contrary to Islamic ideals. A daughter-in-law may be expected to serve her in-laws at the cost of her husband or children. Certain family setups take away the couple’s marital privacy and hinder a Muslimah from beautifying herself for her husband.


As a couple, you raise the future Mumins. A critical job indeed! Several forces are enticing women to join the workplace. Western women have blundered already. Let us not follow a similar path. Allah (swt) will question women about their homes and children. Only women can perform this vital service for the Ummah. And only fools will consider home-making inferior.

Are we raising children Rasoolullah’s (sa) way – with love, attention, patience and responsibility? Are we modeling Islam for them? Are we instilling a love of Jihad in them? Are we saving them from Hell-fire or worrying mostly for their Dunya? In the name of good education, are they growing up ignorant of Islam? Are weapons of Iman-destruction their favorite companions? Are we gifting them Halal alternatives, or making them assume Islam is a list of don’ts? Are we establishing Islam in our homes with Hikmah? Let’s imprint the following verse in our hearts and implement it Rasoolullah’s (saw) way:

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Is our love of family within bounds? Is Allah (swt) our Love # 1? The Mumins, mentioned in the following verse, lived with fear among their family members:

“Saying: ‘Aforetime, we were afraid with our families (from the punishment of Allah). But Allah has been gracious to us, and has saved us from the torment of the Fire.” (At-Tur 52:26-27)

The losers described in the following verse lived with joy only:

“Verily, he was among his people in joy!” (Al-Inshiqaq 84:13)

Do we maintain a balance between family members, between work and family, between family and other Muslims, for we are part of the Ummah family, too? How about our grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins? Are we fulfilling their rights, sharing time and wealth? Nay, been ages since we called them! Are we stockpiling grudges? Breaking ties is a ticket to Hell.

Do we take our family for granted? Are we horrid at home and sweet outside? Our behaviour at home is the gauge of our goodness. Do we justify bad behaviour, saying that our family has wronged us? We shall not bear the burden of their sins. Like the sane student, I have to do MY best in MY exam-paper.

Let the change at home begin with us. Let’s forgive. Let’s thank and apologize. Let’s achieve with gentleness, what cannot be achieved with harshness. Let’s replace anger with patience and humour. Let’s rejoice at their good deeds, instead of focusing on faults. Together in Dunya, together in Jannah is a goal worth toiling for!

Book Reviews (Family)


Nurturing Eeman in Children

Author: Dr. Aisha Hamdan

Pages: 223

Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House

Availability: Dawah Books, Phase 5, DHA, Karachi

One of the greatest gifts Allah (swt) has bestowed on us is our children. Along with the joys of parenthood, Allah (swt) has also placed on us the responsibility of raising our offspring as righteous Muslims and good human beings. In today’s world, where the family structure is falling apart, technology is stealing the time spent on human interaction, and morals and values are declining, the task of parenting is more challenging than ever before.

“Nurturing Eeman in Children” stands apart from the mainstream literature of parenting with its unique approach to parenting – above all the other aspects of religion, it emphasizes the importance of instilling in children a strong connection to their Creator (swt) and a love for the religion that He (swt) has chosen for them.

The book consists of three main parts: 1) The Foundation of Nurturing Eeman in Children, 2) Connecting Children to the Pillars of Eeman, 3) Developing an Islamic Personality and 4) Environmental Factors. Every part is subdivided into several chapters, which investigate each topic in greater detail, covering all the major aspects of Islam. So for instance, in part one we learn about Aqeedah, Eeman and Ihsan, the responsibility and basics of parenting, knowledge and education in Islam, and Fitrah (the innate nature of children). Part four focuses on the different factors of home, peer and community environments.

Dr. Hamdan describes the purpose of her book in the following way: “This is a call to teach our children how to be genuine believers rather than simply Muslims by name.” – By Laila Brence


“Aazad Bachay Aazad Waldain”

(Independent Children Independent Parents)

Author: Zahoor-uddin Khan

Pages: 304

Publisher: Islamic Research Academy, Karachi

Availability: Maarif-e-Islami, Federal B. Area, Karachi

Parenting is one subject on which most of the books, which are available, are highly theoretical in nature, with no practical advice as to how these theories can actually be implemented. This particular book has the distinction of going beyond impractical sermons to illustrate the art of conversing with children, so as to enable them to become independent and responsible.

The book begins with the dilemma of a mother of three, who cannot figure out why she is getting into daily fights with her eldest son, why her daughter is getting more insecure by the day, and why her youngest son seems to be clinging to her all the time.

Then, she receives an invitation to a lecture by a child psychologist. Impressed with the initial lectures, the attending parents invite the psychologist and her husband to start a regular workshop for parents. At these workshops, the parents realize the common errors they were making while conversing with their children, and how they can improve.

The book is divided into two main segments: “Children are only humans” and “Parents are human, too.” Some of the problems which are explained include: labeling children, judging children too easily, the right way to praise them and a foolproof way of correcting their mistakes. The format of the book (i.e., fiction) makes it a very interesting and lively read.

– By Hafsa Ahsan