The Art of Saying NO


Art of saying 'No'Have you ever been in a situation, where you agreed to do something for no other reason but simply because you could not say ‘no’? So you agreed to do something, because you did not have emotional courage to refuse doing something or opposing something. But once you were in that position, because you did not agree to it with conviction and happiness, you ended up back-biting that person and thus burning away your good deeds!

This has happened to a lot of us. Imagine situations like someone telling you that they want to come over, and you end up saying ‘yes’, although that time was very inconvenient to you. Recall the day, when someone called you on your cell and you could not say upright that you were busy, and ended up lying and cooking up a story. Remember, when someone asked you for a money loan, and you did not want to give it, but ended up giving it, and doing so much Gheebat of that person that all the reward Allah (swt) had promised you, when you give loan to someone, was wasted away.

The situation becomes even graver, when you are in a leadership position. As a leader, you are not just responsible for yourself, but also the household, theJamaat or the organization you are a leader of. Situations like telling a colleague at work, who is also a friend, that he cannot be given a certain project or raise. Telling your children, as a parent, that a certain thing is not allowed. Or as a worker in Deen, telling a subordinate that even though you appreciate their suggestion for a different strategy of Dawah, it cannot be implemented.

Sometimes people in leadership positions over-commit and bite off more than they can chew, without considering their time limits. They say ‘yes’ to everyone and end up not respecting their commitments. This, again, adds to one’s sins. The challenge is in learning to understand your boundaries, so that you don’t get burnt out and, more importantly, so that you can honour the commitments you’ve already made to serve as a leader.

Sooner or later, a time comes in your life, when you realize that life is more than a popularity contest. You may be a people-pleaser, but you must be an effective leader. As leaders, and that is the central role of the Muslim Ummah as a whole, at times we have to say ‘no’ at the risk of getting on the wrong side of people, simply because we must uphold Adland justice at all times.

Since a leader needs to be firm yet humble, we are ordered to have consultations before deciding a matter. But while the opinions and suggestions of others should be taken into account, it is not a must to act upon them. Allah, the Most Exalted, says in His Glorious Book: “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh­-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Al-Imran 3:159)

See an example of this from the Sunnah of our beloved Rasoolallah (sa). When the Masjid-e-Nabawi was completed, the need arose for regular Jamaah. Rasoolallah (sa) asked the Sahabas to formulate some method of getting the Muslims together for Salah. The Ashab-as-Suffah volunteered to round up the Muslims for Salah, but this was time consuming and not effective. Other suggestions that came forth were: the beating of drums; the ringing of the bell like the Christians; the light of fire like the Zoroastrians; blowing of the horn like the Jews. Rasoolallah (sa) rejected all these suggestions and Bilal Ibn Rabah (rta) was asked to call out Assalaatu-Jaamiah for the time being.

In the second year of Hijrat, when the numbers in the Muslim rank were increasing, the need was felt for a more effective manner, in which to call the Muslims for prayer. One day, Abdullah Ibn Zaid (rta) in his dream heard an angel instructing him on the wordings of the Adhan (the call to prayer). He related his experience to Rasoolallah (sa), who in turn asked Bilal Ibn Rabah (rta) to learn the words and call the Adhan. When Hazrat Umar (rta) heard the Adhan, he rushed up to Rasoolallah (sa) and reported that he had also heard the same Adhan in his dream.
Thus, Bilal (rta) became the first Muadhin (caller to prayer) in Islam.

This is a classic example of how Rasoolallah (sa) used Hikmah (wisdom) in substituting the suggestion of one companion with that of others, without humiliating or jeering at anyone.

If you are a leader, people will not be offended by your rejecting their opinion, if an overall climate of trust and sincerity is present in the team. Also, the trust of the subordinates in their leader depends on the general Ikhlaq and relationship of the leader with them. The unbiased and impartial behaviour of a leader makes this easier.

Wise ones have said that out of Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi anil Munkir (enjoining good and forbidding evil) it is the latter that is tougher, because it involves negating the other person’s opinion.

When Abu Bakr (rta) was chosen as the Khalifah, and Usamah (rta) was awaiting orders from him, a group from the Ansar suggested that the expedition should be postponed until a later time. They sent Umar (rta) to talk to Abu Bakr (rta) to ask him to appoint a commander who is older than Usamah (rta). But as soon as he heard what Umar (rta) had to say, Abu Bakr (rta) got up, took him by his beard and said: “May your mother lose you, o Ibn Al-Khattab! Rasoolallah (sa) has appointed him and you want me to take him down? By Allah, I will never do it!” Gentle as Abu Bakr (rta) was by nature, he said ‘no’ as a leader, when it was needed.

Learning to say ‘no’ is a very powerful tool. Saying ‘no’ to certain engagements, people and choices, which take away from your goals to succeed, is very important. Think of ‘no’ as a friend protecting you from wasting time and energy. Be firm – not defensive or overly apologetic – and polite. This gives the signal that you are sympathetic, but will not easily change your mind, if pressured. If you decide to tell the person you’ll get back to them, be matter-of-fact and not too promising. If you lead people to believe you’ll likely say ‘yes’ later, they’ll be more disappointed with a later ‘no’.

The delicate balance is learning to say ‘no’ in a non-offensive, polite manner, while keeping the reigns of your good Ikhlaq in your hand and not degrading or hurting anyone.

As Abba Left to Meet his Rabb (swt)

Vol 6 - Issue 3 As abba leftMy father left this temporary world in his final journey on Friday, the 24th of Shaban, 1428 AH (September 7, 2007), by the will of Allah (swt).

Alhumdulillah that Allah (swt) gave us such a wonderful and amazing person as my father – generous, kind, wise, always forgiving and ready to accept his own faults – a man, who dearly loved Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). Every time he went somewhere, he would bring something for me – Islamic books, copies of the Quran and Tafseer. Those are the gifts I cherish most of all. It is difficult to pick the best times – I owe something to him for every moment and all good things. He loved Fridays, and every Friday he would recite verses from Surah Al-Jumuah and explain (as he knew Arabic very well), how we must leave our worldly matters and rush towards Dhikr, when the call for Salah-ul-Jumuah is made. Alhamdulillah, he died on a Friday.

He was suffering from a painful and prolonged heart disease for about two years, yet Allah (swt) let him be mobile, mentally alert and independent till the end, for what He (swt) gave him was an unusual will power and a positive attitude.

Alhumdulillah, one of my sisters and I were with him, when he was leaving this world to meet Allah (swt). It is said in the Quran: “And it will be said: ‘Who can cure him and save him from death?’” (Al-Qiyamah 75:27) Shortly before he passed away, he asked: “Is there any medicine that can help me breathe comfortably?”

Allah’s (swt) Deen is the biggest Rahmah. One often realizes it when facing a trial. The Hadeeth which tells us that ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ are from Shaitan is such a blessing; otherwise, we would keep going over what we could have done to save him. The Quran tells us that every trial and every joy is from Allah (swt). No one can benefit or harm us, unless He (swt) wills.

When a single thorn pierces a Mumin, only Allah’s (swt) mercy helps us wash away sins. Rasoolullah (sa) also suffered the pain of Naza, and we will also have to go through it.

We can hope to meet our father in Jannah, Insha’Allah, if Allah (swt) forgives us in His (swt) infinite mercy. We can help him with our Duas, Sadaqah and other good deeds that we perform as his children.

Although we have settled down and have a wonderful mother, we still experience sadness and emptiness like never before. Besides, Rasoolullah (sa) wept, when he lost his dear ones. This pain is only natural, and Sabr has its reward.

However, I am still thinking what I should have done. I am thinking about instances, when I failed in my duty as a daughter. It’s never enough, no matter what you do for your parents. When you lose someone, you suddenly grow up. You start realizing what you’ve lost – their quiet backing, support, selfless love and Duas – and you know nothing can ever replace that.

May Allah (swt) shower His Rahmah on our parents and forgive the Muslimeen, Ameen. Do remember Abba in your Duas.

Introducing Jannah to Kids

Vol 6 -Issue 2 Introducing Jannah to kidz

According to a Hadeeth of Rasoolullah (sa), children are born on Fitrah (true nature). (Bukhari) All they need is introduction and reminders about the concepts of reward and punishment, or Jannah and Jahannum. We have asked some mothers and daughters to share with us their ideas and tips regarding the different ways through which the concept of Jannah should be introduced to kids.

Kulsum Kamran, a mother of three, gives the following suggestions in the light of her experience as a mom: “As we generally talk a lot about justice and injustice, it helps to tell kids that Jannah and Jahannum are Allah’s (swt) justice. I suggest we introduce the concept through small examples of reward and punishments given to people on their wrongdoings and good deeds. Ask the children about how they imagine Jannah and Jahannum. Tell them stories of Sahabahs and their life styles. Tell the kids about Allah’s (swt) mercy. I feel the concept of ranks or degrees in Jannah needs to be introduced at an early age. It gives remarkable results, when kids compare this concept with the achievements of this Dunya.”

Aneeta Saleem, a mother of three boys, shares some of her experiences with us. She would introduce Jannah by telling her boys that if they did good deeds, Allah (swt) would make them enter beautiful lush green gardens, where they would get everything they’d wish for, which was a very attractive proposition for children, who are inherently goAl-oriented. Aneeta says: “They would ask me about their favourite material things, and whether those would be given to them in Jannah, and I would say: ‘Yes, we will get whatever we wish for, Insha’Allah.’ I still remember my youngest son Sarmad saying: ‘Whoever eats his veggies will go to Jannah’. I don’t know how he came to this conclusion that the reward for every good deed is Jannah.”

Hina Nauman is a home maker and a mother of three young boys. She shares her experience both in terms of how she was given the concept of Jannah and how she passes it on to her children: “Ironically, when I was growing up, the concept of Jannah was discussed less and Jahannum more; specially when I or any of my siblings would do something wrong (like missing a prayer), we were reminded of Hellfire. Though this was very disturbing for me as a child, I now realize it was also a blessing in disguise. Growing up in an atmosphere, where religion was not an option, made me direct my attention towards the Quran. As an adult, reading and understanding the Quran helped me realise the love for Allah (swt) that I believe all humans have, and the need for this love to be explored. I tried to inculcate this love in my sons. This was done by associating every activity they did with the presence of Allah (swt). I often tell them that mama might not always be there to see what you are doing, but Allah (swt) will always be watching you.

I realized that I can’t introduce the concept of Jannah, before instilling in my child the concept of life after death. This was a more difficult task, but our description of life after death doesn’t have to be just horrifying. Once my son realized that he will be meeting Allah (swt) soon, I then let his imagination do the rest… of how in Jannah he will have a big house, a play station, even a cell phone, his toys and no school. But with this journey of innocent imagination, a mother needs to interject constant reminders that all this is possible only with righteous deeds. The stories of the Prophets (sa) helped in accomplishing this. I really think, if we are able to give our children a baseline that love of Allah (swt) is followed by meeting Him, we can help our children explore their faith Insha’Allah. But, please, always tell them that religion is not an option.”

Hiba Khan, a young girl, who studies the Quran, shares her experience as to how the concept of Jannah as a reward from Allah (swt) was introduced to her. She says: “I honestly don’t remember what my parents told us or how they told us, because they started at an early age. But I can more or less remember the thought-process they instilled in us: if we believe in the Oneness of Allah (swt), the Prophethood of Muhammad (sa), the Day of Judgement, Heaven and Hell, the Quran and the five pillars of Islam – coupled with generally being a good person, who does the recognized good and avoids the recognized wrong – then we are going to go to Jannah. It was only for Muslims. The disbelievers would all be in Hell. The general idea that we got, even though it wasn’t exactly said aloud, was: as long as you’re Muslim, you’re safe – you get into Jannah easily, because the above-mentioned things are pretty ‘easy’ things to do, and what you really have to do is just believe. Although the things we were taught were correct in essence, they were taught at a very superficial level. Like many Muslims today, we literally took it for granted that we would be getting into Jannah. I doubt that striving for it was one of our priorities at all, let alone a top priority. Also, after being introduced to the concept of Jannah in childhood, we were not regularly reminded about it; hence, the lack of motivation. It was more about getting good grades in school.”

Farah Saeed says: “I have taught the concept of accountability to my children. Do you know the answers to Allah’s (swt) questions about everything you do in this world?” Her four-year-old son with fear in his eyes said: “Will I have to answer for everything I have done? What will I say to Allah mia for pulling (my maid’s) hair? What reason will I give?” Farah Saeed says: “I told him to say sorry to her, because one can be forgiven that way.” Farah thinks that children feel guilty, because they are connected to conscience. The voice of their conscience is very loud and clear. They just need a slight reminder.

She reads out Ayahs from the Quran that lead to Jannah. “You will get all your desires fulfilled, any toy you hope to get will be there. In Jannah you will desire something in your mind, and it will be in front of you. You won’t have to wait for it. Everything will be perfect.”

Her six-year-old son is fond of clothes, so Farah told him that “at one time one would be able to wear seventy clothes. A servant will live like a princess with the most wonderful wardrobe and jewellery.” Her child was fascinated. She explained to him how equality was based only on good actions. A poor person will get into Jannah five hundred years before a rich person. Her child thought that this was not fair, but she explained that the servants had lived hard life here and not enjoyed much in Duniya.

When her child asked Farah if Allah (swt) is stronger than Superman, she replied in the affirmative, saying: “When Duniya will end, Allah (swt) will wrap everything, i.e., the heaven and earth, in His arms.” Farah feels that one needs to relate Allah (swt) to worldly power as a child’s imagination has limitations and is bound to the physical world only.

When renowned Islamic scholar and a mother of four children, Dr. Farhat Hashmi was asked, in what words should we introduce Jannah to children, she replied by saying: “Home of those who are close to Allah (swt).”

Helpful Tips

  • Remember that children’s souls are purer and unadulterated compared to adults; hence, they understand Islam’s basic teachings very easily. Children understand reward and punishment very well. Therefore, do not hesitate and do not assume they will not believe it.
  • If parents hesitate to talk to children about the Hereafter, maybe they need to question their own beliefs first. Children are quick to sense any doubt or lack of conviction in their parents.
  • Use imaginative skills of both yourselves and of your children.
  • As a family, never crack jokes about the Hereafter, nor participate by laughing on such jokes.
  • Constantly remind your child of the importance of Jannah as a goal.
  • Make sure that kids know that Jannah is not a magical land of dreams but a real goal.
  • Be prepared for common queries about Jannah and how to address them, especially with older children, for example, about Hoors, etc.
  • Learn more about Jannah yourself in the light of the Quran and Ahadeeth.

Sheikh Ahmad Deedat

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Sheikh Ahmad DeedatFamed Muslim preacher and debater Sheikh Ahmed Deedat died Monday, August 8, 2005, at 87, leaving behind a legacy of propagating Islam and defending it against missionaries. Known particularly for his work on comparative religions, Deedat was the founder of the Islamic Propagation Center International (IPCI), the largest Islamic Dawah organization in the world.

He was perceptive, fiery, and daring, with an insight of the Bible that made many Christians whom he came into contact with re-examine their faith.

From working in a shop in a remote area of KwaZulu Natal, to debating the famous American reverend, Jimmy Swaggart in the USA – the story of Ahmed Deedat is amazing.

Born in Surat, India, in 1918, Ahmed Hoosen Deedat had no recollection of his father until 1926. His father, a tailor, had immigrated to South Africa shortly after the birth of Deedat. The son went to South Africa in 1927 to be with his father. His mother passed away a few months later, back in India.

In a foreign land, not knowing the English language, his passion for reading helped him gain promotions until he completed standard 6. Lack of finance interrupted his schooling and at the age of about 16 he took on the first of many jobs in retailing.

The most significant of these was in 1936 when he worked at a Muslim-owned store near a Christian seminary on the Natal South Coast. The incessant insults of the trainee missionaries hurled against Islam during their brief visit to the store infused a stubborn flame of desire within the young man to counteract their false propaganda.

Ahmed Deedat, by God’s will, discovered a book entitled “Izharul-Haq”, meaning the truth revealed. This book recorded the techniques and the enormous success of the effort of Muslims in India in turning the tables against Christian missionary harassment during the British rule of India. In particular, the idea of holding debates had a profound effect on Ahmed Deedat.

Armed with this newfound zeal, Deedat purchased his first Bible and began holding debate and discussions with the trainee missionaries. He published over 30 books and distributed millions of copies free of charge. He delivered thousands of lectures all over the world and successfully engaged Christian Evangelists in public debates. Several thousand people have come into the fold of Islam as a result of these efforts.

The first opportunity to go abroad arose in 1976, when a good friend, Ebrahim Jadwat, travelled to Riyadh for a conference.

“When I asked the people from Saudi television to interview him, they laughed at me, saying that they had 50 or 60 of the greatest scholars from all over the world, so why should they interview him?” recalls Jadwat. “So I said: ‘Give him two minutes of your time and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.’ So they humored me and gave him the opportunity to come on television.” The rest, as they say, is history…

Sheikh Deedat with his entertaining approach, dynamic personality, deep knowledge of Christianity and unique ideas, swept the Arab world off its feet. Going to Riyadh opened many doors for him, and his dream of printing and distributing the Qur’an and other literature soon become a reality. He was awarded the King Faisal International Award in 1989.

On May 3, 1996, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered a stroke, known as “lock in syndrome,” which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was no longer able to speak or swallow. He delivered his last lecture in Sydney, Australia, in 1996, just before his chronic illness.

Dawah – The Call Towards Allah (swt)

Vol 2-Issue 3 Dawah The call towards Allah swtAllah (swt) says in the Quran: “Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the Way of your Lord (i.e., Islam) with wisdom (i.e., with the Divine Revelation and the Quran) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best, who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those, who are guided.” (An-Nahl 16:125)

The Prophet (sa) has said: “Convey from me even one verse” (Bukhari). Conveying the message, therefore, is not the responsibility of the scholars only; it is, in fact, a responsibility of each and every Muslim, according to his or her ability. This call towards Allah (swt) is called ‘Dawah,’ and the one, who calls towards Allah’s (swt) Deen, is a Da’ee.

To understand the role of a Da’ee, think of him/her as a smaller road leading to a bigger, clearer path. A by-pass that in itself is not as important as the road (Sirat-e-mustaqeem) to which it leads others. Yet, the Da’ee is a like a connecting wire, which transmits the high voltage power it is connected to. In so doing, the Da’ee illuminates countless hearts and souls and connects them to the power of recognizing Allah (swt). One candle results in thousands of others being lit. Wondrously enough, the light of the candle responsible for lighting up other candles does not lessen. In fact, it glows and grows — the reward of the Da’ee’s work is reaped in this world and stored for him in the hereafter.

Calling towards Allah (swt) is a job that does not require you to give up your existing assignments. You can continue being a parent, a child, a spouse, an executive, a teacher…whatever it is that you are doing with your life. Yet, the time and energy a Da’ee invests brings rewards like no other line of work. It guarantees a sure success!

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Let there arise out of you a group of people, inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma`ruf [i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained] and forbidding Al-Munkar [polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden], and you believe in Allah (swt).” (Al-Imran 3:104) Yet, when weighing career choices, we hardly ever think of Dawah as something we want to do in our practical life.

Calling people to Allah (swt) means completing our own worship, because of which we are created. It is one of the noblest acts, which entails a high reward.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And who is better in speech than he who [says: ‘My Lord is Allah (swt) (believes in His Oneness),’ and stands firm (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allah (swt)’s (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims.'” (Fussilat 41:33)

The Prophet (sa) has said: “Whoever guides [another] to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it” (Muslim). Also, “By Allah (swt), if Allah (swt) were to guide one man through you, it would be better for you than the best type of camels.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Dawah is an obligation on every Muslim, young or old, male or female. All it requires is the love of Allah (swt), a conviction in your purpose, and correct knowledge of Deen. One can call towards Allah (swt) in so many different ways. Writing a book, giving a talk, teaching someone, how to pray or recite the Quran, providing counseling or good advice to someone, who needs it, distributing cassettes or books, helping someone actively involved in Dawah, doing social work, gifting to someone a Quran… there are countless ways, in which we can perform Dawah. No matter which method or path of Dawah you choose to travel on, your destination is the same – Allah’s (swt) mercy in this world and in the hereafter.