Expert’s opinion : Are you lucky- Does your family give you tears of joy and merry?

Qurrata Aaiyyun                                                          Image Courtesy www.imgrum.net

 

Ya Allah (swt), give us the undeserved gift! What gift?  – a gift from our wives and our husbands, and our children, give us what makes our eyes so happy that it makes us cry- Qurrata Aaiyyun  it cools our eyes.

Do you know what that means? It makes you so happy that you want to cry.

When you listen to your children recite the Quran, and they love reciting the Quran- it makes you so happy that you want to cry.

When you look at your wife, and how she is raising your children- it makes you so happy that you want to cry. When she looks at her husband, who wakes up her children for Fajr, and takes them to the Masjid- she wants to cry, she is so happy. Our husbands cry and our wives cry; but they don’t cry because they are happy… they cry for other reasons.. We are asking Allah (swt) for tears of joy – we want to be so happy with our family. But, how can we achieve that?

When you go home, every day you fight with your wife.

She asks: “Why are you so late?”

You say: “Why are you asking me? You always ask me! Don’t you know there is traffic? Look outside the window!”

This happens every single day. Then, you get so angry that when you look at the child, you are like:

“Why are you playing with the toy? Why do you look happy? We don’t have happiness here. Where is your homework?”

Child says: “I didn’t get any homework…”

“Why not? I am going to complain to your school!”

God, this is not Qurrata Aaiyyun. There are people, who come to the Masjid for Salah, which is supposed to give you peace, make you calm and settle you down. Then, they go home, and there is a tornado that walked into the house. Children hide under the bed, and the wife gets off the phone. You cannot be the reason for your family to be afraid of you!

You should be a reason for your family to be joyful, overjoyed. Children should love you, they should run to you, and hug you when you come home – that is the relationship you should have with your children.

And, while I am on this topic, twenty, thirty and forty years ago, parenting was different – now, it’s not the same. For fathers- you cannot afford to be authorities over your children, you can no longer afford that. You have to be friends and authorities with your children. Our fathers were not friends with us, they were authorities. We didn’t like nudge our dad on the back and say: “Hey dad, let’s go play some basketball; let’s go play some football!” We didn’t do that.

When Abu (Baba, or Aba Jan) came home, we sat straight and said: “Assalamu Alaikum!” You get their shoes. That was twenty or thirty years ago, but nowadays, your kids don’t do that. And they won’t! We are living in 2016, brothers and sisters! We have to accept the reality that our children are exposed to a lot of things- no matter if you are in the Muslim world, or anywhere else.

“Ahtaraam” (respect) will remain. You have to respect your parents. However, we, as parents are the only ones, who can give to our children the love of Islam. And, you will not be able to give it to them, if you are only in authority, if you only yell at them and tell them what to do- without being their friend. Every father here should know, and master the video games their children play. First of all, it’s a problem, if you let them play video games; however, if you are letting them play, and  are not stopping them- then you better be sitting there, and playing with them. Don’t watch the news – you are not going to change the world! Believe me – you have watched enough news, and nothing has changed. Listen to it in the car, don’t come home and watch TV, don’t come home and watch the news – come home and play with your kids, do homework with your kids, talk to your kids, take your kids to the Masjid-  do that with them and make your kids love you. If we, fathers, don’t do this, we will lose our next generation – I am guaranteeing you.

Preparing for Ramadan

Vol 4- Issue 2 Preparing for ramadan copy

“O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Shaban, and let us reach Ramadan (in good health). Ameen.”

When I told a friend that I was doing research for an article on preparing for Ramadan, she said: “What are you going to write? We know everything there is about Ramadan. We’ve been hearing it over and over again!”

It’s true that Ayahs and sayings related to Ramadan will be the same, because our Deen is complete and will remain so till the end of time. But the fact that we have heard them many times makes us more accountable. We have no excuse to forget the guidance. We shouldn’t tune out thinking “Oh, I’ve heard this before.” Instead, we need to pay extra attention to revising, internalizing, applying and then sharing this knowledge.

For instance, your husband has asked you to pay the telephone bill. If he reminds you once, you could forget. But if you forget after being reminded several times and seeing that note stuck on the refrigerator, you will be left with a late fee and a lot of explaining to do. You heard the same message over and over again and still paid no attention.

Alhumdulillah, we have been taught the basic tenets of Ramadan since we were children. Let’s make Dua to take it a step further this year. We are the selected recipients of this blessed month. There are many non-Muslims and Muslims alike, for whom Ramadan comes and goes without making an iota of difference in their lives. Allah (swt) says that unlike other acts of worship, fasting is only for ME. What an honor! We have the opportunity to do something, for which Allah (swt) will personally decide the reward.

Just like we make preparations well in advance when a favourite guest is coming, we have to prepare in advance for Ramadan, so that we don’t waste time during the precious month.

Organizing

  • Gather books/tapes/Dua pamphlets in one place, so you avoid wasting precious Ramadan time looking for stuff. If you have loaned some books to a friend or vice versa, see that they get to their respective owners before Ramadan. If you know you have two hours to complete an exam, you wouldn’t want to waste time sharpening pencils or looking for erasers, would you?
  • Host or attend a ‘Welcoming Ramadan’ talk and invite friends, who usually do not frequent these circles.
  • Plan where you will be going for Taraweeh. Find out which venues welcome women. Make child care and transportation arrangements beforehand.

Shopping

  • Make small packets of dates with the Dua for breaking the fast. Pass these out to people in the Masjid, or your family and friends two weeks before Ramadan. This way you can hope for part of the reward each time they break their fast.
  • Complete your to-do list or postpone unimportant stuff for after Eid.
  • Buy small gifts for the children to mark the beginning of Ramadan. Blow up some balloons and give out candy, so that they know this is a special time. Hang up a Ramadan calendar, so they can count the days till Eid.
  • Complete Eid shopping for clothes beforehand. When I was in school, I used to envy my friends, who would go Eid shopping during the last ten days of Ramadan for bangles on ‘Chand Raat’. My mom made it a point to get us what we wanted for Eid before Ramadan began. We might not have understood the beauty of the lesson she was teaching us then, but, Alhamdulillah, now when I make my decisions about Eid shopping, I emulate her. If you really do need to go to the bazaar, get what you need and don’t loiter around.
  • Buy Eid gifts for family, friends and domestic help and don’t forget the kids. It is up to us, how important we make Eid for our children. If you’re planning to throw an Eid party for them, do the preparations before Ramadan or schedule the party at least a week after Eid.
  • Involve kids in wrapping gifts for the domestic help, so they see you giving them something new, as opposed to your old stuff all the time.

Reflecting

  • Make up the missed fasts before Ramadan.
  • Plan an ideal day by using the natural pegs of Salah. For example: “Between Fajr and Zuhr, I would like to memorize three Ayahs, and between Zuhr and Asr, I would like to listen to a Seerah tape.”
  • Evaluate your previous Ramadan and set goals for this year. Two days of a believer’s life should not be the same, just like each day should be better than the previous one. Similarly, two Ramadan’s should not be alike. Think about what you could have done better and avoid making previous mistakes. Set special, specific goals for the last ten nights of Ramadan.
  • Identify time wasters. Is it a talkative friend, an addictive computer game, the TV or surfing the Internet? Resolve to stay away from these things in Ramadan.

Household Duties

  • Freeze, freeze and freeze. Samosas, rolls, Kebabs, Chutneys – whatever your family enjoys. Make it beforehand, so you spend minimum time in the kitchen.
  • Practice moderation. Fasting is not postponing three meals only to make up for at Iftar. Eat what you like but in moderation, so that you are not so full that you can’t even go in Ruku at Maghrib!
  • If you are obsessed about cleaning, do all the detailed tasks before Ramadan, so that you and yours can take a breather. If you are fortunate to have help around the house, plan on being easy on them, as they will be fasting, too.

Socializing

  • Limit lavish Iftar parties as much as possible. When you want to share a meal, send Iftar to the Masjid, deliver it to your neighbour in advance or find a deserving family. This way, you’ll be reaping the benefits of providing Iftar without having to take out fancy tableware and wearing your prettiest clothes!
  • Take out your phone book and call a relative you haven’t been in touch with ‘because she never calls.’ There might be some hurt feelings or unresolved issues that you can sort out before Ramadan.
  • Offer to watch a friend’s child, when she tries a mini-Itekaf for a few hours. She could return the favour on the days she doesn’t have to fast.

Family Time

  • Decide on a new Sunnah you want to adopt as a family. Miswak? Wudhu before bed?
  • Provide a list of options and have fun choosing.
  • Delegate chores to children according to their age. Your work load will be less, and they will get into the spirit of Ramadan.
  • Make a Sadaqah box and keep it in the kitchen. Encourage family members to pitch in every day.

This very moment, make Niyah to recharge your batteries and make this the best Ramadan yet. So even if, for some valid reason, you are unable to do all that you have planned, you can get reward for your intention, Insha’Allah.

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.

Living in a Joint Family – More Pros than Cons

family

I got married and moved to Karachi. Before my marriage, I had never in my life lived in Pakistan, let alone Karachi. The two places where we would go are Islamabad and Lahore, so this was a whole new experience for me. It has now been a year Alhumdulilllah, and I have started adjusting to all the changes.

Initially, it didn’t sink in since everything was so new with new people and a new environment. But, as time passed on, I started to get into a routine. Living in a joint family has brought along some challenges, but a lot of positive things too.

It’s been so nice to have my in-laws with me to help me adjust in a new place. My mother-in-law, especially, has been so understanding and helpful. She makes sure – despite her busy schedule that I don’t get bored at home, and hence, takes me out during the day. She has also been so great in welcoming me to the family, and showing me how things are done. This way I didn’t have to struggle as much as some do to learn how they do things in their families.

As we all know, all families have their own set of ways and routines, and they are all different; so having someone to guide you through it is a great help. For me, it was Not only helpful in learning the ways of my husband’s family, but it helped me a lot in knowing what things my husband likes and dislikes. I didn’t have to experiment and find out the hard way.

Living with in-laws helps create a bond between you and them; and it increases understanding between both the parties. Before living in a joint family, I was terrified that when you live with your in-laws, they can see all your weaknesses or they can see if you’re in a bad mood; while if you live abroad,  no one sees any of these things. Now, I’ve learned that although it is true, my in-laws must know my flaws and weaknesses; but at the same time, we have a stronger relationship, and they also do see the other side of me as well. My husband is also very dedicated to his parents and very family-oriented, so when he sees me having a good relationship with his parents, and doing things that are hard for me to please them, it creates a special place for me- not only in his heart but also his parents’ heart.

Every situation has its pros and cons. Since, I had lived in a nuclear family system my whole life and had gotten used to that system. My parents always liked that we should be independent and try to handle situations ourselves.. This being said, they do still oversee everything but more in the background. They are there to support, but let us try things the way we want. In my in-laws, it’s a bit different; and adjusting to that was a bit difficult, while I still love to try things my own way. I had to see things in a positive light that now I can have guidance throughout.

Another test for me was when I lived in the Middle East, there were no security issues and I drove on my own and I knew that I was not dependent. In Karachi, there are security issues which makes my father in law a little hesitant to let me go alone; along with that he says that people in Karachi are very different from the Middle East, and doesn’t want anyone to take advantage of me. So, I can’t go to all the places alone, although I still go everywhere I’d like just not always alone. More than the safety issues though, adjusting to the traffic of Karachi and the way everyone drives here has been harder for me. I’m used to people following rules and staying in their lanes, now I’m constantly just watching people break traffic rules, not to mention the famous motorcycles that come at you from every angle.

All in all, the past year has been a year of so many firsts for me, and as I look back on it now I see that although moving to Pakistan was never part of my plan, I’m sure that Allah (swt) has something greater for me. I know that Allah (swt) has made these adjustments easier for me; and Insha’Allah as time goes on, it will only get easier for me. At times, I do complain about living in Karachi and having to change my entire lifestyle. I hear stories of other people’s in-laws give them a tough time, and I immediately realize how much Allah (swt) has blessed me. My complaints are so small compared to some of the tests that others are facing. Being grateful will only increase Barakah; and therefore, when facing any tough times regarding your in-laws, or married life, or any situation, looking for the good will always please Allah (swt). And Insha’Allah, He will help us to come out stronger from those situations.

The Ideal Home

vancouver_house_sizeWhat makes a perfect home? Must it be designed and landscaped by a renowned architect and interior decorated in line with the principles of Feng Shui? Should it be located in idyllic surroundings or must it be in an upscale suburb with easy accessibility to health and education facilities?

The man, as Ameer of the family, must provide for a suitable accommodation for his family. Physical comfort, social status and budget constraints dictate our choices, but as a Muslim, we need to consider the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah when building our home and laying the foundations of a harmonious family life and thereby a stable society. As a wise saying goes: “A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.”

Proximity to the Mosque

We tend to consider our physical and emotional well-being when locating a house, ignoring our spiritual needs. For a Muslim household, proximity to a mosque where the Imam has a sound knowledge and understanding of Islam is essential. The male members of the house must perform obligatory Salah in the mosque; this interaction with fellow Muslims of the neighbourhood leads to strengthening of the bonds of brotherhood and unity. Whatever they learn from the mosque and the Khutbah of the Imam, they are likely to convey and implement amongst their family. Living away from a mosque puts our Deen in danger of succumbing to the numerous Fitnah of this world. Likewise, given the current situation of the Muslim world, a misguided prayer leader is likely to lead astray the youth of his neighbourhood towards incorrect ideologies.

Good Neighbours

This is often difficult to judge, but it is important to choose a locality that is well organized and maintained and where the families seem educated and interact with each other. The community in which your family will mingle will greatly influence their speech, interests and manners. Neighbours can be a source of great comfort and support, especially in times of need. According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), one of the blessings (Khair) of this life is a good neighbour.

Internal Harmony

Physical comfort and beauty are never everlasting, but the effects of strong Iman on our personal relationships and ensuing good deeds can be felt across time and generations. A house can never be a home- if it is not a source of love, comfort and solace to its dwellers. As Ameer, the man must endeavour to be an exemplary husband and father. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)  Avoid parental confrontation in front of the children to your utmost, since it undermines the children’s self confidence; and shatters their trust in you to protect and nurture them; besides setting a bad example of argumentation and display of temper.

The Ameer is also answerable to Allah (swt) for those placed in his care and trust. He is enjoined to spend for their Halal needs and wants. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best Dinar is the one a man spends on his dependants.”(Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) was gentle and loving not only towards his wife and children, but also towards his relatives, his in-laws and his slaves. From the Seerah of the Prophet (sa), we find countless incidents where people not only altered their behaviour and changed their habits, but also accepted Islam due to his patience, leniency and sympathy towards them. As the Ameer of the family, the man should be easily approachable; willing to listen to the daily achievements and problems of his family in a way that helps build a relationship of mutual trust and affection. He should ‘use soft words but hard arguments’ to convince and cajole his family.  Communicate and play with your family- this was what the Prophet (sa) did with his wives and children.

Spiritual Nourishment

The glittering world beckons us and leads us astray without us even realizing how far we have deviated. Take out time for your family and establish routines that build and sustain your Iman and beliefs. The most important is to develop a routine for congregational prayers even at home. Set aside one time when your entire family prays together. Children learn by example- and especially, in places like Pakistan where women rarely, if ever, pray at the mosque- it teaches the rules and etiquettes of praying in congregation. There is a  family that prays Fajr together. And then on a turn basis, each child is assigned learning and then explaining a Hadeeth. They learn a Dua each week, with the elder children helping the younger ones learn; and during holidays, they are encouraged to prepare and deliver short sermons.

The Prophet (sa) has said that the best thing a man can give his children is to teach them good manners; and one of the most enjoyable ways of doing this is by story-telling. Sharing Ahadeeth and success stories of the Prophets, his companions, and other eminent Muslim men and women will help inspire and motivate impressionable minds. Also, it will be a wonderful means of encouraging them to question, and share their own ideas and experiences. Read extensively and encourage your entire family to do so too. Remember, a book is a man’s best friend- especially if he is hemmed in by people who can act as negative influences.

Likewise, it is the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah for women to have a weekly religious gathering at their own houses. This helps bond the community and brings the Barakah of knowledge to each house, for it is the women who play pivotal role in educating and character building of children.

Social Interaction

One of the most common problems of households is the unchecked frequency of visitors. As Ameer, you may find it difficult to achieve the fine balance between being hospitable and maintaining your family’s privacy and routine. Convince your wife to limit socialization so that her own responsibilities and pursuits are not affected. Most importantly, though, is the need to discourage non-Mehram male relatives and friends from visiting your family in your absence. Try to deal with the servicemen who come to your door yourself; and try to set appointments for maintenance or repair at a time when, either you or your grown up son, are home to interact with them yourself.

TV is The Virus

The television has become more than just an entertainment tool. It acts as a babysitter, masterchef, an opinion-maker, and tends to occupy a central position in our family rooms and bedrooms. Assert yourself as Ameer, and monitor what and how long everyone watches the television. Break your one bad habit of ‘unwinding’ in front of the idiot box. Twenty-four hour news and endless talk shows on politics, and current affairs rarely offer anything a half hour perusal of newspapers will not divulge. Encourage your family to seek entertainment through outdoor sports in the evenings if possible, and through board games. If you can’t chuck out the cable, then at least limit the screen time.

The iFad

The internet, smart phones and other handheld devices- such as the iPad and PSP are ‘terminators’ of family peace and unity.  I have often noticed at family gatherings that each individual is wrapped in his or her own ‘bubble’ of communication gadgetry. Fingers itch to keep checking that message or sharing statuses. In fact, family members living in the same house often interact via social media, instead of sharing anecdotes and exchanging news or thrashing out arguments in person. Face-to-face interaction lets us judge, and thereby, alter our communication through non-verbal signals too, and this often prevents misunderstandings. Our physical beings are a gift from Allah (swt); and the human ability to talk is one of His greatest signs. But successive generations are losing the art of conversation, and also their memory skills because of greater reliance on artificial intelligence.

Hence, curtail the use of all such gadgets yourself and lead by example. Set aside time slots for internet surfing, and carefully monitor your child’s usage. Discourage the use of laptops in bedrooms, and think hard before handing over a smart phone or iPod to your child. Peer pressure does create problems, but try to develop a social circle where you socialize with like-minded families.

Caution!

Finally, we need to remind ourselves that children are a trust from Allah (swt).  In the Quran we have been commanded to save ourselves and our families from Hellfire; and the best way of ensuring this is by trying to provide an ideal Muslim home.

“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)

‘The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.’- Jean Paul Richter

(Adapted from a Peace TV lecture by Abdul Azeez Umari Madani)

People who know a lot, but don’t understand each other

social-networkingWe are living in an age of instantaneous communication, where the whole world is connected to each other. It is very easy to find out what’s going on in a country thousands of miles away. From a natural disaster to a festival, from politicians’ speeches to countries about to bankrupt; the information is within our reach in a matter of seconds. And, this constant flow of information takes most of our time with us being none the wiser. Everyone complains that the time is passing by so fast, and that, 24-twenty four hours are not enough for them; but the interesting thing is that most people spend this amount of time with unnecessary occupations and procrastination.

Television and internet may prove to be traps that push people to waste their time on useless things. Today, the situation has gotten so much out of control that many people choose to focus more on their telephones, computers or tablets rather than paying attention to their families, friends or loved ones. Actually, this thought-provoking situation is the source of an important problem- it prevents people from communicating with each other, although they are constantly connected to the whole world. Some call this ‘unhealthy relationship with time’, while others call it ‘twitter-ized or facebook-aholic private lives’.

These people might learn about millions of unimportant things, but they don’t take out time to take care of themselves or the people around them. The passage of time keeps some people away from thinking, improving themselves, and working to build better personalities for themselves. The situation has became so serious that many of these people now consider taking out time for their families, complimenting each other, having a pleasant conversation and sharing blessings  with others as ‘unnecessary occupations’. Their followers on social media, who might be on the other side of the world, know about all their troubles, tastes and favourite foods, while their families are ignored.

What is even more thought provoking is the fact that these people don’t take out time for themselves; they quit thinking, and as a result, they begin to experience the effects of this in their morality, and then in their social lives as a whole.

For people, who don’t know about themselves, and the weakness of their lower selves- selfishness, hurting others, sudden bursts of anger, fits of jealousy and other evil acts- become ordinary parts of life. They begin to see these acts not as vices that should be refrained from with great care, but things that should be gotten off one’s chest. However, this is against the very reason behind the presence of people in this world.

Humans are sent into this world to attain moral maturity, in other words, to train the ‘me’ inside them. Just like we weren’t consulted about our birth, we aren’t consulted about our death either. We stay in this world for the duration that God has set for us, and with death, we will part with this world and begin our eternal life. We came to this world to learn about love, sharing, brotherhood and sublime morality. Every moment in this world is created independently for each person, and we make our choices between what is wrong and what is right. The things we choose, either make our personality better, and strengthen us spiritually, or leave us in darkness if we make bad choices.

To better understand the importance of this point, let’s ponder over some questions to see what lack of love, altruism and spirituality causes:

–                    Will your children be able to look around and learn what having ‘lofty morals and virtue’ means?

–                    Will they believe that they can be successful if they are honest and hardworking and avoid lies?

–                    Will they know that abundance can increase with goodness?

–                    Will they be aware that they can gain more by protecting the rights of innocent, poor, needy, refugees, orphans and not by cheating, lying or sacrificing the needs of others?

–                    While there are people who lose their lives as a result of obesity, there is widespread hunger in some other countries. Will they be able to see that?

–                    Will they pass by a poor person on the street without looking, or will they want to share with them what they have?

We have to tell our kids about these facts and that they are in this world ‘to be trained and to achieve good morality’.

Love, forgiveness, generosity and altruism are the essential characteristics of religion and help people gain peace and happiness. For this reason, it is imperative that we teach our children that they will find happiness only when religion is a part of every aspect of their lives. We have to show them the ease and plain nature of religion by living it ourselves.

We have to explain to our kids that everything they have is created by God for them, and how to love God every minute with passion; and that, only when people love God with sincerity can they find happiness in their hearts and blessings in their lives.

Living without love, compassion, friendship and kindness is not living. Accepting such a life is horrible. That’s why we need to help our children know themselves, and make them understand that they can defeat the evil in their lower selves with faith and closeness to God; and that everything they have should be used for goodness.

We have, but a single life in this world, and we don’t know how long it will last. That’s why we need to benefit from every single moment we have.

Knowing God, loving God and being aware of the purpose of our lives is crucial. Otherwise, depression, nervous breakdowns and troubles will end up as your grim companions. If you want a good life for yourself, your family and your children, and if, you want wars to come to an end and the world to find peace- the only thing you have to do is to have superior morals and encourage the same for everyone.

Welcome Eid and say “Go” to your Ego!

Mend a broken heartAnd those who break the Covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allah’s Mercy); And for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e. Hell) .” (Ar-Rad 13:25)

The institution of family and kinship is one of the most valued aspects for mankind- proving its positivity through moral as well as the religious perspectives. No one can deny the noble relationship which is shared by two people of the same family as they possess similar blood running through their veins, and there are many other characteristics which link them to each and other. This is the reason why the Holy religion Islam has also directed a great deal of attention towards the aspect of creating harmonious social life for the Muslims. The Last Messenger (sa) directed people to maintain brotherhood amongst themselves.

“You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another.” (Muslim)

Muslims are ought to put up a shared stand against any group which tends to threaten their solidarity, or any other aspect of the Islamic state. It is morally regarded that unlike the other relationships where the barter trade of help is conducted, the family members assist each other spontaneously and with minimal expectations- as the bondage they share is beyond the other ordinary relationships.

The slaughtering of animals is only the face-value, but it possesses greater significance.

Now, as we enter into the mode of sacrificial worship on this Eid, it must be kept in mind that the sacrifice on this Eid has greater spiritual implication. The slaughtering of animals is only the face-value, but it possesses greater significance. To witness the vitality of sacrifice, one needs to have an insight and follow the findings. Mending the broken ties of relationship is one of the facets of the spirituality on this occasion.

Amidst the hostility, injustice and criticism, there are many underlying reasons beyond the broken ties. There may be some past experiences of hurting caused by one party to another; favours being given to one sibling when wills are formed; or a small rift among the children culminating in enormous issues. All these moments may have been ominous, but it does not mean that the relationships must be broken. For instance, brothers often do not talk to each other for a lifetime, keeping their families apart due to some past fight; they are only messing up their own lives. People often negate to take one last glance of the dead relative’s face because they did not talk for a long time, and do not desire to bid farewell. The two sides have an exaggerated style of battling, and this fails them to give an ear to what the other has to say.

But this Eid, let all the broken relationships get reconstructed. As Henri Frederic Amiel puts it,

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

A few acts that could be done to rectify the severed ties are:

Sending Gifts
Presents are considered as one of the most vital instruments in strengthening love and bondage between the relationships. It is, therefore, a tool that could be used to make the people on the other side happy. It may make them feel special and awaken the concern for each other. Send them gifts for their children, or send them home-cooked food with fine décor. Little effort with pure motives works miracles.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: On this Eid people also exchange gifts, i.e., they make food and invite one another to come and eat, and they get together and celebrate. There is nothing wrong with this custom because these are days of Eid.

Empathize
Instead of being judgmental or criticizing the actions they make, work on having conversation with your agonized relative. Emotional engagement and compassion can catalyze healing comfort and improve connectivity.

Express Concerns and demonstrate willingness to change
Show them that you desire to improve. Take steps towards reinvigoration. Once, they notice that you take their concerns seriously- they will feel valued and respected. They will be motivated to aggravate their own endeavours as well.

Making Frequent Calls
Re-connectivity is also boosted by the occasional calls. Pledge to call them often and ask about their children, health, profession etc. The common affairs would then help to bridge the gap Insha’Allah.

Invitations
As this is a festive occasion where people often arrange extensive parties for their relatives; you can also make such arrangements. Make special calls to the people who are upon no-talking terms and insist them to attend. If they don’t, let not your morals be down- call them to say how they were missed by all the recipients.

Boost your morale- even if you are repeatedly rejected by the other side- as it is for Allah (swt) you are carrying out these deeds

Conclusively , the acts of bridging ties must not be only limited for the occasion of Eid, but let them become constant. Boost your morale- even if you are repeatedly rejected by the other side- as it is for Allah (swt) you are carrying out these deeds. For once or twice, lower down your self-respect and not be egotistical. Consistency in this regard would eventually uplift the concern on the opposite side- making them feel guilty for their unresponsive attitude, and speculate at how they could restore the relationship through their own effort. It would also raise charges from you when Allah (swt) questions us all on the Day of Judgement.

“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.” (Al-Imran 3:103)

The First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

Vol 5 - Issue 3 The first ten days of Dhul-HajjOfaira Ateeq Husain shares with us the suggestions of Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid.

Allah (swt) has preferred some times of the year over others in the sense that the rewards for good deeds done during these periods get multiplied many times. This encourages His servants to do more righteous deeds and worship Him more, in order to prepare themselves for death and the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Being laid-back is best in every matter except for good deeds.” (Abu Dawood & Al-Hakim)

Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah (swt) has preferred over all the other days of the year. These days, which include the Day of Arafah and Eid Al-Adha, bring Muslims an opportunity to correct their faults and make up for any shortcomings.

Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days” The people asked: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing.” (Bukhari)

It is indeed a great mercy of Allah (swt) that the blessings of Hajj spill over also to those, who are not making the pilgrimage but are fasting on Dhul-Hijjah 9, the Day of Arafah. On this day, also known as the Waqfah (standing), the pilgrims stand on and around the Mount of Mercy to ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. When the sun sets on that day, all their past sins are forgiven. If those, who are not making Hajj, fast on that day, the sins of two years (the past and the coming one) are forgiven. (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) relates that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days more loved by Allah (swt) for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year, and offering Salatul Tahajjud (late night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power (i.e., Lailatul Qadr).” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqi)

In this season, the roads leading to goodness are numerous, so we must not miss out on any of them. Allah (swt) has given us many ways, in which to do good deeds and worship Him. Among the good deeds, which a Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:

1. Salah. A guided slave of Allah (swt) would supply himself with optional Salah during these ten days, because it is a path to goodness and something that Allah (swt) loves. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Salah is the best thing that one can do, so perform as many as you possibly can.” (At-Tabarani) He (saw) also said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The son of Adam could not do anything more beneficial for himself than Salah, reconciliation (between Muslims) and being well mannered.” (Al-Bayhaqi and others)

2. Fasting. It is Sunnah to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. Hunaydah Ibn Khalid quoted some of the wives of the Prophet (sa) as saying: “The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Ashurah, on three days of each month and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” (An-Nisa’i, 4/205)

3. Takbir. During the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, it is Sunnah to say Takbir, Tahmid, Tahlil, and Tasbih loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place, where it is permitted to remember Allah (swt) and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allah (swt). Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.

Allah (swt) says: “That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e., reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade), and mention the name of Allah on appointed days (i.e. 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah), over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice).” (Al-Hajj 22:28)

Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel (La Ilaha Ill-Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Al-Hamdu Lillah).” (Reported by Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shakir stated that it is Saheeh)

4. Performing Hajj and Umrah. One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (swt). The one, whom Allah (swt) helps to offer Hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly, is included in the words of the Prophet (sa): “An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

5. Doing more good deeds in general. This is because good deeds are beloved by Allah (swt) and earn one a great reward. Whoever is not able to offer Hajj should occupy himself during this blessed time with acts of worship, reading the Quran, remembering Allah (swt), making supplications, giving in charity, showing dutifulness to parents, maintaining the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil and other good deeds and acts of worship.

6. Sacrifice. Offering a sacrificial animal is also among the most virtuous deeds that one can perform. The Prophet (sa) said: “He, who does not offer a sacrifice while being financially able to, let him not come close to our Masjid (i.e. pray with us).” The Sunnah also indicates that the one, who wants to offer a sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha, must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (sa) said: “When the ten days (Dhu’l-Hijjah) have begun and one of you intends to offer a sacrifice, then let him not cut any of his hair or remove anything from his skin.” (Muslim)

In another narration, he (saw) said: “Let him not cut anything from his hair or nails until he sacrifices.” (Ad-Darimi)

7. Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (swt) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Take advantage of these virtuous deeds, beware of laziness and neglect and know that Allah (swt) has favoured certain days over others. Let us use these opportunities and increase our righteous deeds. May Allah (swt) forgive us our sins and shortcomings, Ameen.

Lessons of Wisdom from Hind bint Amr (ra)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe was the sister of Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) who was the father of the famous Hadeeth narrator Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra). Her husband Amr ibn Jamuh (ra) was the leader of Yathrib (old name of Madinah) and was from the nobles of the Ansar (the helpers of Madinah).

Conversion to Islam

Hind (ra) converted to Islam along with her sons through the Dawah efforts of Musab ibn Umair (ra). Her husband, like other ignorant leaders, had installed an idol in his house that he used to worship and sacrifice animals for. One day, he purchased a sturdy piece of wood and instructed a woodworker to craft an idol for him. This idol, named Manat, was dressed in fine clothing and pleasantly perfumed.

Like many early Muslims, Hind (ra) kept her conversion a secret. She was waiting for an appropriate time to break the news to her husband. Her sons regularly attended the gatherings of Musab ibn Umair (ra), and later shared the knowledge of the Quranic verses with their mother. Amr (ra) remained unaware of what was happening in his house. He only began to worry when more and more people entered Islam. He then felt insecurity for his family. He instructed Hind (ra) to keep a close watch on their sons that they do not meet the man from Makkah, and get spoilt by his teachings. Hind (ra) assured him to not worry and to keep his heart free from apprehensions about them.

While at one end, the father was instructing the mother to keep a close watch on the sons; on the other end, the sons worried for their father’s faith. Muadh ibn Amr (ra) shared his concerns with a close friend and they plotted a plan to get the father off idol worshipping. It was decided that Muadh ibn Jabl (ra) will help the brothers in throwing the idol in a trash can. Amr (ra) was fast asleep when this plan was carried out. The next day when he woke up, as per his routine, he entered the room where the idol was kept. Not finding it there he vehemently demanded where it was. The mother and the sons replied that they had no idea where it had gone.

Amr (ra) went out of the house and fetched the idol. Seeing it lying on trash, he brought it home, cleaned it and applied fragrance. He vowed to take revenge from the culprit. The mother and the sons looked at Amr (ra) in disbelief- was he really talking to a piece of wood? He was apologising to it while it could neither hear him nor speak.

He then brought a sword and hung it around Manat’s neck. He told the idol that it was for its defence, in case it was attacked again.

When the father had gone to sleep, the sons again, with the help of Muadh ibn Jabl (ra), picked up the idol and threw it in trash. Second time they tied a dead dog to the wooden piece and returned home.

The next day, when Amr (ra) woke up and did not find Manat in its room, he again screamed and shouted and went out to find the idol. When he saw that it was again lying on trash and a dead dog was wrapped around its neck, and that the idol did not defend itself, Amr (ra) conceded that the idol did not deserve his respect. It was content with its own dishonour. He left the idol on the trash and returned home feeling estranged.

She was not only doing Tarbiyah of her sons that they should be respectful towards their father, but also did not spoil the home environment.

Seeing Amr (ra) anguished, the family inquired what the matter was. Amr (ra) did not reply to the question. He sighed deeply and asked the mother if she had been keeping a close watch on the sons. The mother assured him that the sons had acted upon her instructions. However, she quickly added that their son Muadh (ra) had a meeting with the Makkan preacher Musab (ra) and had learnt some things. She suggested that Amr (ra) should call him and inquire what he had learnt.

Amr (ra) at once called Muadh (ra). Muadh (ra) came and the father inquired if he had memorised anything from the Makkan preacher (ra). The son replied in affirmation. The father then asked the son to share something. Muadh (ra) recited the Ta’awuth and Surah Al-Fatihah.

Amr (ra), as if speaking to himself commented that how eloquent, enticing and beautiful the words were. The son was overjoyed by his father’s statement. He affirmed that indeed that Makkan man’s entire talk was elegant, beautiful and exceptional and that Amr (ra) should meet the man himself. To entice the father furthermore, he added that all the other leaders of Madinah had been visiting Musab (ra) and embracing Islam. They had preceded Amr (ra). Hind (ra) also encouraged her husband to meet the Makkan preacher (ra). Amr (ra) said that he needed to take advice from his idols. Muadh (ra) immediately reminded his father if he was to take advice from a dumb and deaf piece of wood. Amr (ra) was offended by his son’s comment, but then admitted that it was indeed the truth. The wood was void of intellect and emotions. He then looked at his family and asked for their views. The family was startled, but quickly agreed that Amr (ra) was right.

Our mistake is that when we meet a person who is committing some wrong, we start our conversation with taunts and criticism

At that moment, Amr (ra) testified the Oneness of Allah (swt) and recited the Islamic testimony of faith (Shahadah). That was a joyous moment for the family. Later that evening Musab ibn Umair (ra) was invited to their home, who then purified the house from the filth of associating partners with Allah (swt).

Lessons to draw

There are several lessons in this story. When Hind (ra) became a Muslim she did not break the news to her husband at once. Despite having the support of adult sons, she waited for an appropriate time to approach Amr (ra). She hoped that he might embrace Islam on his own and the relations between them will not be severed. She was not only doing Tarbiyah of her sons that they should be respectful towards their father, but also did not spoil the home environment.

  • Hikmah of preaching

We need to reflect on our attitudes when we learn something new and how we preach it to others. First, we must gain firmness in what we have learnt and then pass it on to others. Show them by practicing, not by preaching. Melt their hearts first. Give them space to understand. Secondly, “plan” how you are going to preach. Hind (ra) and her sons first sketched a plan that how they could convince Amr (ra) that what he was following was wrong.

Thirdly, when Amr (ra) returned home feeling estranged, the family showed concern and inquired- although they knew it very well what grieved him. They treated him with respect and care- even when he was upset about a wrong matter. Our mistake is that when we meet a person who is committing some wrong, we start our conversation with taunts and criticism. Unless, we show some compassion how can the other person trust our opinion? Gain the support first, so that he can open up his heart to understand what you want to tell him.

Hind’s son did not pick a horrifying verse to abuse or scare the father away. Rather, he chose Surah Al-Fatihah

Another Hikmah of preaching is that Hind’s son did not pick a horrifying verse to abuse or scare the father away. Rather, he chose Surah Al-Fatihah — the Opening Surah of the Quran — that introduces us to Allah (swt). Generally, we invite people to Islam by scaring them with the punishment of the Hereafter. Even to the babies and toddlers, we introduce Allah (swt) by telling them how intense His punishments are; whereas Allah (swt) introduces Himself to us by choosing His attributes of mercy: Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem (Al-Fatihah 1:3).

Finally, Hind (ra) respected the leader of the house. When the father asked if she had been keeping an eye on the sons, the mother replied in affirmative and then added that Muadh (ra) had heard something. She then requested the father to ascertain what he had learnt. In a way, she was putting the father in-charge- whether he found it fit for the family or not. She did not say I have checked it and I find it alright. She gave reverence to the husband’s position in the house.

When the parents fail to give respect to one another, the silent observers — the children — grow up disrespecting their parents. Family matters should be dealt with utmost respect and wisdom thinking about the children as well.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

The Prophet’s (sa) Hajj

Prophet's HajjReinforcement of Tauheed

Tauheed is one of the fundamental principles of Islam that the Prophet (sa) realized and fostered. During the Hajj, he continued to recite Talbiyah (saying, “Labbaik Allah Humma Labbaik”) from the moment he began the ritual, until he had cast Jamratul Aqaba (Aqaba stone) on the slaughter day.

Supplications to Allah

Supplications have special status in Islam, as they aim at expressing total surrender to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said: “Supplication is worship.” (Abu Dawood) During the Hajj, he used to say more supplications than at any other time. He also offered lengthy supplications on the day of Arafat, while riding his camel and by raising his hands close to his chest, as if he were a poor man begging for charity.

Performing good deeds

The Prophet (sa) performed Ghusl before assuming Ihram, wore perfume upon assuming and ending it (Bukhari), and marked and garlanded the Hadiy. (Bukhari) He started Tawaf as soon as he entered Al-Bait (Bukhari), walked briskly, touched the two corners of the Kabah, offered two Rakahs of Tawaf behind Maqam Ibrahim (Muslim), supplicated to Allah on the hills of Safa and Marwah, ran in the middle of the valley, and did Dhikr upon touching the two corners and while throwing the Jamarat. (Bukhari)

Moderation in acts of worship

Islam encourages moderation and censures exaggeration. In fact, equanimity was the most significant attitude of the Prophet (sa) during the Hajj. He adopted a happy medium between his acts of worship (Bukhari) and his responsibilities as a leader of the Muslims. However, he did not neglect his duties to his wives, who needed care and affection.

Physical well-being

The Prophet (sa) equally cared for his body and soul. The awe-inspiring surroundings of the Hajj may compel to observe only the spiritual, entirely forgetting the physical. On Tarwiyah day, the Prophet (sa) moved closer to Mina, in order to be nearer to Arafat (Muslim), slept during the nights of Arafat and Muzdalifah (Bukhari), took breakfast on the day of Arafat (Bukhari), but did not offer supererogatory prayers. (Muslim) He took shelter in a dome made from camel hair, erected especially for him, moved between the sacred sites (Bukhari) and performed some of the Hajj rituals, while riding his camel. (Muslim) Furthermore, he even had someone to serve and help him. (Ibn Majah)

Role as an educator

Allah sent the Prophet (sa) as an educator to make people’s lives and acts of worship easier. Undoubtedly, he excelled in his mission. He publicly announced his intention to perform the Hajj, in order to give those, who wished to accompany him, an opportunity to prepare themselves for the journey. The crowds flocked to Madinah, hoping to learn from the Prophet (sa). (Muslim) The Prophet (sa) ordered Muslims to learn the Hajj rituals from him and made it clear that this could be his last Hajj. (Bukhari)

Giving Fatwas

Giving of Fatwas (religious verdicts) was among the most important tasks that the Prophet (sa) performed during the Hajj. A famous Fatwa was given to a woman from the Khatham tribe, who asked, if she could perform the Hajj on behalf of her aging father. She said: “He cannot ride his camel.” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Perform the Hajj on his behalf.” (Bukhari)

Matters concerning women

Aisha (rta) narrated: “I asked Allah’s Messenger (sa): ‘Is Jihad incumbent upon women?’ He replied: ‘Yes, Jihad which does not include fighting is incumbent upon them, it is the Hajj and the Umrah’.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Abbas (sa) narrated: “I heard Prophet Muhammad (sa) addressing and saying: ‘A man must not be alone with a woman, unless when a man who is a Mahram (a relative she is so closely related to that marriage is not possible) is with her and a woman must travel only when accompanied by a man who is a Mahram.’ A man stood up and said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, my wife intends to go out to perform the Hajj, and I have been enrolled for such and such expedition.’ Thereupon he said: ‘Go and perform the Hajj with your wife’.” (Muslim)

Prophet’s (sa) mercy

The Prophet’s (sa) mercy was always evident. He ordered those, who did not offer Hadiy, to end their state of Ihram completely – this permitted them to have intimate relations with their wives, to be dressed in normal clothes, and to wear perfume. (Muslim) He combined Asr and Zuhr prayers at Arafat (Bukhari) and delayed his prayers, when he moved to Muzdalifah (Bukhari), thereby making it easier for people to perform rituals. He gave permission to the weak to move from Muzdalifa ahead of the rest of the pilgrims at night, right after the moon would set. Thus, on slaughter day, they were able to perform their rituals easily before the others. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) generosity

The Prophet (sa) was so generous in giving alms and charity that he gave away one hundred Badanas (sacrificial camels), including their meat, hides, and coverings. (Muslim) He also donated in other charities on many occasions. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) leniency

The Prophet’s (sa) showed exemplary leniency, while in Hajj. “Seeing a man walking and leading his sacrificial camel, the Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Ride on it’. The man replied: ‘It is a Badana.’ The Prophet (sa) said the second and third time: ‘Ride on it, woe to you’. (Muslim)

The Hajj is not a momentary act of worship that begins with a journey and ends once a Muslim returns home. On the contrary, it is a trial to show that the spirituality earned in the Hajj will be brought back home and implemented in the Muslim’s daily life.

In the sermon delivered on the Day of Arafat, the Prophet (saw) urged pilgrims to hold on to the Quran as the only way to deliverance from sins. “I have left you with the Quran,” he said: “you will never go astray, if you adhere to it.” (Ibn Majah) Now, it is a challenge for all Muslims to obey this advice and bring about a metamorphosis, leading to enrichment and positive transformation of the Muslim Ummah.

Lessons of Fortitude from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

shell_in_the_sand_1600x1200When someone is loved by their dear ones, they are called by many nick names. Same was the case with Umm Sulaym (ra). Though widely known as Umm Sulaym, some of her other names were: Sahlah, Ghameesa, Rameesa, Rumaylah and Mulaykah.

She was the daughter of Malhan ibn Khalid. Her first husband was Malik ibn Nadhr, from whom she had Anas ibn Malik (ra) and Barah (ra). She later married Abu Talha (ra). She was a woman blessed with beauty, intellect, good character, fortitude and independent thinking. Her distinguishing trait, however, was her love for Islam and its defence.

Conversion to Islam

Umm Sulaym (ra) is one of the forerunners who embraced Islam as soon as the message reached her. Her husband was not in town. When he learnt that his wife had converted to Islam, he asked her if she was a Sabi (without any religion). Umm Sulaym (ra) replied that she had not left religion. Rather, she had embraced faith and followed the truth. Her husband threatened her. But Umm Sulaym (ra) remained calm. Her heart was filled with the love of her Creator (swt) and His Messenger (sa).

(Note: Umm Sulaym (ra) remained married to an unbeliever because at that time the verses that prohibit such a marriage were not revealed.)

We blame our families for our mediocre adherence to religion. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us courage to find our own way to build a strong connection with Allah (swt)

Lessons to draw: Umm Sulaym (ra) knew her salvation in the hereafter did not depend on her husband. She was a woman of independent thinking. She submitted to the commands of Allah (swt) and did not allow her husband to dissuade her. When our family does not support us in the way of Allah (swt), we take that as an excuse for not excelling in religion. We blame our families for our mediocre adherence to religion. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us courage to find our own way to build a strong connection with Allah (swt), and not depend on people to connect with Him. She also did not fear that if her husband left, what will become of her.

How strong are we in the path of Allah (swt)?

Paying attention to the necessary

Umm Sulaym (ra) did not engage herself in conflicts and arguments. She directed her energies to that which actually mattered – the upbringing of her son Anas (ra). She started with the basics and taught him the words of Adhan (call to prayer). One day, little Anas (ra) was memorising La ilaha illa Allahu Muhammad ur Rasulullah, when his father saw him. Furious as he was, Malik ibn Nadhr confronted his wife for spoiling their son and warned her to stop. Umm Sulaym (ra) again calmly replied that she was not spoiling their son, but educating him.

Arguments became a norm in Malik’s house. Malik threatened his wife that if she did not leave her religion, then he will have to leave her. Umm Sulaym (ra) remained undeterred. Understanding that his wife would not give up the religion that she so dearly loved, Malik left the house and was killed by an enemy.

Lesson to draw: Dawah begins from home. Many people are seen practicing religion, but when one meets their children – they are quite the opposite. While it is a test from Allah (swt), one cause of their detachment from Deen is that the message did not reach them. The parent had been attending or delivering religious lectures and classes, while not transferring the knowledge to those at home. This is also one reason why families are different.

Do not ignore your family, your parents, your spouse and children. Your first responsibility is towards them. Also do not get disheartened when your Dawah is not welcomed

Do not ignore your family, your parents, your spouse and children. Your first responsibility is towards them. Also do not get disheartened when your Dawah is not welcomed. Again, it is a test from Allah (swt). When the father (Nadhr) rejects the religion, the son (Anas) embraces it. Continue your efforts and seek reward from only Him.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

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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Men are from Makkah and women are from Madinah

MoM-Gender-Roles-1John Gray wrote a book titled “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus”. This bestseller sold over fifty million copies worldwide. It has some valuable stuff that has saved many marriages. It emphasizes the difference between men and women. It also lays failure of relationships upon not being able to understand these gender differences. We will reflect upon this book highlighting some points worth mentioning.

Firstly, it is imperative to understand whether the differences between males and females are innate or acquired. Are they biological or learned through social interaction? It is amazing to learn that babies react differently to certain stimuli so naturally when they have not yet acquired any behavioural characteristics. Hence, certain differences are inborn and inbuilt. Cultural expectations are different from the two.

How can we build a successful relationship?

For starters, a huge hurdle is the problem of generalization, even though every single human being is unique. We are always dealing with individuals. It doesn’t harm us to appreciate that men and women think and behave differently. A word of caution is that in spite of recognizing these gender differences, we do not fall into the issue of gender conflict. For Muslims, the basis of everything is Islam. In Islam, men and women are supporters and companions to each other. Their innate nature is meant to complement one another.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (May Allah exalt his mention and protect him from imperfection) said: “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something, if you do, you love each other. Promote greeting amongst you (by saying As-salamu ‘alaikum to one another).” (Muslim)

What does love mean? It is not just a word or an emotion. It governs our behaviour. Your beloved’s well-being is connected to yours. You are unhappy, when your spouse is sad. You cannot relax, if he/she is distressed. For Muslim homes, mercy should be the pre-dominant emotion that ensures peaceful homes.

In Islam, interestingly, men and women have been treated equally and same. Women are considered to be twin half of men. Whenever Allah (swt) addresses believers, He calls out to both men and women, unless the Prophet (sa) has specifically mentioned something that is gender specific. In reality, men and women are from the same planet, and they have more in common.

Some ways that they differ could be their unique ways of reacting to stress. Men retreat to their cave. We have a supreme example in our own Messenger (sa) of that. Perturbed about the despicable state of Arabia’s affairs, he spent solitary time in Cave Hira. Men value competence and like to figure out stuff themselves. The last thing a man needs in times of stress is intervention from someone.

Women, on the other hand, like to discuss things. When they work very hard, they expect men to automatically understand what’s troubling them. And when they have no clue to their feelings, women get upset.

The Prophet (sa) used to tend to his own clothes and help at home by serving his family. He didn’t wait for his wives to break down. He acted proactively.

Similarly, when the Prophet (sa) was shocked by his experience with angel Gabriel (as) for the first time, he ran to Khadijah (rta). Men want to be trusted and appreciated. Look, how she behaved. She validated and assured him.

Lastly, it is important to note that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah (swt) based on their worship.

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at Mercy Mission, Karachi.

[Family Matters] Honouring Parents by Wael Ibrahim

Elderly ParentsAs Muslims, we have no option to disgrace or dishonour our parents, even if they ask us to commit Shirk, which in itself is an unpardonable sin. Disobedience to parents ranks number two on the list of major offences. It comes before such vices as fornication, killing, etc.

Uqooqullah (linguistically) means to cut off one’s garment. It is one of the major sins in Islam, as if you are severing ties with your parents and Allah (swt). There are nine consequences that may happen to us in Dunya and Akhirah, if we cause displeasure to our parents:

  1. Allah (swt) will shut out your light. Never cut your ties with your dad. You will be left misguided.
  2. You will face disgrace and humiliation in this world.
  3. If you end up disobeying your parents, Allah (swt) will haste your punishment in this world. Hence, lower your wings and be humble before them.
  4. You will experience hardships. You will never be successful as you will find closed doors in your way. A famous historic account tells us about Juraij, who earned the title of Al-Abid- the worshipper. Once he was worshipping while he heard his mother call him. In a dilemma whether to answer her or not, he decided not to. She got frustrated as he didn’t respond to her and cursed him to see the face of a prostitute before he dies. Rest assured, a woman carrying a baby falsely alleged Juraij to be the father of the child. Juraij lost his pious status and was covered with humiliation because he angered his mother. When his mother forgave Juraij, the baby spoke from the cradle to defend Juraij’s honour and he was acquitted.
  5. We are advised never to make Dua against our life, wealth or children lest it comes true.
  6. Those who consume alcohol and dishonour their parents will not cross Al-Quds Masjid. When Jerusalem will be returned to Muslims, such people will be barred from entering it.
  7. Allah (swt) will never look at the one who disobeys his parents.
  8. Good deeds of the one who dishonoured his parents will not be accepted by Allah (swt).
  9. A person who had knowledge and acted upon it, yet failed to honour his parents will not be granted Jannah by Allah (swt).

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at Family Matters at Twins of Faith Karachi organized by Mercy Mission.

(Part 2) From House to Home

Family ConceptSilat-ur-Rahm is to keep regular contact and be in their service with politeness and courtesy. It means to exhibit excellent behaviour towards them. It is also said that reciprocation is not maintaining ties. It is not contingent upon their good behaviour to us. Whether they are practicing or non-practicing Muslims or non-Muslims, we are required to look after these relatives. The Prophet (sa) was asked a multiple times: “Should we offer good kindness even if parents are doing Haram or are abusive and oppressive? He replied: “Yes and continue to do it for Allah’s (swt) sake.” If any relative chooses to break off from us, it can be their choice and their decision to earn Allah’s (swt) wrath but we should never initiate it.

We are doing proper Silat-ur-Rahmi when it is hard and painful. When we don’t have any Dunya’s interest, it is literally at our own expense, that’s when we have done it. We are trying to maintain what is disconnected and broken. In Islam, it is one of the key obligations, and hence, most highly rewarded and also most punishable actions. What are we trying to achieve? We are trying to please them. Some of them may be easy to please while others very difficult. Some may be high maintenance people while others may have simple needs. Silat-ur-Rahm is a tailored thing. It is constructed around customs to please our relations. Silat-ur-Rahm is sometimes unfair but our deal for Jannah. Our attitude towards it should change from that of a burden to an opportunity because it makes the society healthy. Imagine sending gifts, relieving burdens and what not.

As Muslims we have been tasked to improve the society. For this job, we need more people to rise and tackle the situation. For this very reason such monumental emphasis has been placed upon Silat-ur-Rahm. The Prophet (sa) also offered Dawah to his family first then to others.

Silat-ur-Rahm is sometimes unfair but our deal for Jannah. Our attitude towards it should change from that of a burden to an opportunity because it makes the society healthy.

Mothers are most emotionally weak. They need our regular love and attention. They need to be called, hugged and talked to. Kindness and constant connection is the focus. Conversely for fathers obedience is the focus. If we do not call them regularly it won’t hurt them, but what they crave for is respect and control. They will always want to be part of our important decisions in life. The target is to manage expectations. However, obedience is in what is Maruf (good). There is no obeying our parents in anything Haram, or that which is not obligated. For example- if our father tells us to drink six glasses of water everyday, it is not necessary to follow him as it is not linked to the Akhirah.

Lastly, the nuclear family is the one that includes our spouse and children. Make no mistake but it is families that get married not just a man and a woman. One should marry someone who loves Allah (swt) more than his spouse. He/she will be a fair and Muttaqi partner lifelong. The Quran defines a marital relationship aptly. It is governed by love and mercy. Love is what makes the relationship kick off. It’s when we feel all the excitement and experience our honeymoon. This is like a T20 cricket match. However, its mercy that keeps the match going. When we are patient with one another, overlook faults and drop our expectations. Because we know that it’s a long inning.

Love is what makes the relationship kick off. It’s when we feel all the excitement and experience our honeymoon. This is like a T20 cricket match. However, its mercy that keeps the match going.

No matter what our struggle is in our marital life, we need to turn on the mercy button. Be easy about our own rights; think about the benefit of our children. When we are out of love, depend on Islam and Ehsan. Once a woman complained to Omar (rta) as the Khalifa about not being able to love her husband. He replied with anger that there were hardly any homes where couples lived a loving life. Real world is very different from the fantasy world we imagine or paint for ourselves. A husband takes precedence in obedience over his wife’s father. Every wife should try to earn such a relationship that her husband pleasingly values her desires and dreams.

About our offspring, we need to build a level of trust with them that they love us too much to hurt us. They do not fall into Haram fearing the impact it will have on us. If we are not our child’s best friend, there will be hundred others ready to become his friend at the drop of a hat. We ought to have more confidence in the relationship of love and stop outsourcing our child’s education. We can’t pay our way out by expecting others to do a good job, since we don’t want to do it ourselves.

Tarbiya cannot be purchased. We are lured into a false sense of security. Parents need to filter information after kids return from school because much Haram practices are happening out there; having said that, we can’t ban our kids from life. We can’t put them in a cave and teach them there.

Lastly and most importantly, it is not obligated to obey the in-laws; however, it is inconceivable for a God-fearing Muslimah to forsake her husband’s parents if she loves Allah (swt) and cares for her husband’s feelings. It is known that mothers-in-law have the hardest time letting go off their married sons in the Eastern culture. The West is not like that. Hence, every woman becomes the enemy she hated most once she steps into the shoes of a mother-in-law. The remedial measure is to part the families offering mutual space and respect. An arrangement should be made to look after old parents by their own children in terms of best care and quality time spent. Otherwise, it will be a punishable sin in the hereafter.

In conclusion to build the right family we must always read the Quran as if it is speaking to us directly. If we read it like a third party, we will never be able to reap the benefits of a fulfilling familial life. This was the attitude of the Sahabah. They never thought, “Oh what will happen to others.” They owned every verse of the Holy Book and internalized it to build a house to home.

Transcribed for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at “Live Deen”, Karachi.

Resolving Family Conflicts – A Lectureshop with Dr. Bilal Philips

As most of you know already. Dr. Bilal Philips is coming to #Karachi Insha’Allah! On this occasion, Hiba Magazine and LIVE DEEN have joined hands to bring to you a mega event:

Resolving Family Conflicts
A Lectureshop and Q&A with Dr. Bilal Philips

When: Friday, 27th February, 2015
Timing: 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Where: Marriott Hotel Karachi

Ticket price
Single: PKR 1500/-
Special discount for couples: PKR 2500/- (SAVE PKR 500/-)

Tickets are available from Hiba Magazine’s office, Role Model Institute, and Da’wah Books.

Separate arrangement will be made for mothers with children under 5 years.

We hope to see you there, Insha’Allah!

Lectureshop Flyer