Hajj: Exemptions and Misconceptions

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Hajj

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

The elderly, who is too weak 

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

The sick or physically incapacitated Muslim 

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

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

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

The one, who is in debt 

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Happiness

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The real happinessBy Qainaf Najam

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

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

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

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

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“Man, why do you do all this?”

“What?”

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

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

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

“Why do you go to job?”

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

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

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

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

“Yes, of course!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He of the High Desire”

The road shall go with me...

The road shall go with me…

By Maryam Sakeenah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ramadan – Solely for your Souls

Vol 6 -Issue 2 Ramadan solely for your souls

For most of us, Ramadan starts with mouth watering savories and ends with shopping sprees for the Eid. It is impossible to fathom beyond delectable Pakoras, let alone understand the blessed month’s meaning to a Muslim.

Let us try to understand the logic and benefits behind Ramadan’s fasting.

Allah (swt), our Nourisher and Sustainer, has two types of creations. The first one is mandatory Muslims, such as animals, plantation, planets, mountains, etc. They all prostrate before Allah (swt) and praise Him, as mentioned in verse 41 of Surah Nur. These compulsory Muslims also fast.

Some animals are known to hibernate for a part of the year and emerge with renewed energies at the end of their hibernation period. Similarly, plants shed their leaves in the Fall and appear feeble. But as Spring approaches, they bloom. This is also a form of fasting.

Allah’s (swt) second creation, which is also His best, is the mankind. Humans are voluntary Muslims. They have been granted freedom of choice, whether to submit themselves in humility before Allah (swt) or disobey. Simultaneously, they have also been informed of the consequences of their conscious decisions.

Allah (swt) has not left His creation misguided. He has clearly mentioned in a Hadeeth the five cardinal pillars of Islam leading to success, both now and in the Hereafter. They are: belief in the oneness of Allah (swt) and that Muhammad (sa) is His last messenger, observation of Salah (prayer), giving of Zakah (charity), performance of Hajj (pilgrimage) and keeping Saum (fasting). (Bukhari)

It is His mercy that through offering us a way of life, He has also endowed us with physical benefits. Scientific research proves that fasting enhances health. It gives our livers a break, so as to improve the digestive system. It reduces blood volume, which is good for the circulatory system. It stimulates our bone marrow, thus producing blood. Fasting also helps the effective function of pituitary glands, thyroid glands and the pancreas. Besides that, Allah (swt) also rewards for this act of worship. Thus, Ramadan offers multiple benefits to those who fast.

In the ignorant days of Makkah, people had deviated from monotheism; however, there were still remnant, although distorted, practices of Hajj and Salah as practiced by Ibrahim (as). However, the concept of Saum (fasting) was completely alien to them. The closest you could get of the practice was when they would starve their horses in the scorching heat to train them to survive the severe conditions of war – a practice, which was called Siyam. History tells us that Musa (as) fasted, before the Torah was revealed to him. Similarly, Isa (as) fasted before the Injil. The number of days and mannerisms were different, but the concept of fasting did exist in previous nations, too. Thus, the Makkans were informed about it.

Allah (swt) commanded them: “O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

Fasting is a means of self-control, especially in the face of vain desires. The foremost quality that one can attain through fasting is Taqwa (God consciousness). And it is the condition of Taqwa that leads people to Paradise.

When Allah (swt) prevents His creation from what is permissible, such as food, drink, sexual relations, etc., He helps them develop self control in the face of what is forbidden the remaining eleven months. In Ramadan, Muslims submit to this command voluntarily and give up permitted blessings willingly, to please their Creator.

Ramadan means scorching or burning. Some scholars state that in this blessed month Allah (swt) burns the sins of His slaves, who sincerely fast and pray to Him, renewing their states as pious Muslims.

Allah (swt) further commands: “[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if anyone of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Allah (swt) is Just and, hence, provides options to the sick and old. This may include diabetics, patients with heart conditions, pregnant or lactating women, menstruating women, or women undergoing post-partum bleeding.

Another significant mercy of Allah (swt) is the lunar calendar that Muslims follow. Though Ramadan is the ninth month of the calendar, it shifts each year – Muslims residing in all parts of the world are offered an opportunity to avail this month in varied seasons. Sometimes it falls in winters, when the days are short and the nights are long, and sometimes vice verse. In thirty-three years of a lifetime, a Muslim has fasted in every season. This is another sign of Allah’s (swt) justice.

This also highlights how a Muslim is eager to please his Lord in all seasons. His prayer and submission is not time specific but perennial.

Lastly, all year round we are occupied with our physical existence – our body and its needs. We not only neglect but also forget about the vessel of our life – our soul. Ramadan is in reality an annul check-up of our soul. As Allah (swt) has breathed His soul into our bodies, our soul can only be nourished by the Quran revealed by Allah (swt). Ramadan is that month, when Muslims commit a great deal of their time to the understanding of the Holy Book.

Just as the moon is present during the day but not visible, so is the soul hidden within our physical body. The soul is supposed to be the master and possessor of our body. However, in this world, our vain desires and Shaitan’s whispers alter this arrangement. Our physical needs supersede our spiritual needs. Our body misbehaves like a demanding, spoilt child, and the soul gets house arrested. The body takes over as the master.

We can test the condition of our soul by simply analyzing our inclinations. If, in Ramadan, our routine doesn’t differ much from what we do during the remaining part of the year, such as performing Salah and Dhikr, staying away from the forbidden and fearing Allah’s (swt) watch, and we just need to do some more of it, Alhumdulillah. Our souls are healthy.

However, if Ramadan feels like a sentence, and we wait for it to get over, so we can return to our life of sin, we need to take serious caution. The soul is sick and needs to be treated.

The soul is Allah’s (swt) ambassador. It is pure and thrives only on purity. A sage once said: “Conscience is thorough bred. It stops talking to those who don’t listen to it.” If, all along, your conscience, the inner voice of your soul, has been preventing you from disobedience but you have been neglecting it, your soul will stop speaking up.

Our soul is like a pristine pearl, and its carrier is our physical body, acting as a velvet pouch. If we keep cleaning the velvet pouch unaware of the invaluable pearl inside, we have suffered a grave loss. Ramadan is here to make up for that loss and start anew. For on the Day of Judgement, Allah (swt) will not talk to our bodies; it will be the souls that will be held accountable. Allah (swt) will reverse our condition, as one wears a dress inside out showing the hem. The facials and the hair dos all will be discarded. The spiritual glow of the soul will lead the way.

Muslims should avail this golden chance offered by Allah (swt) in Ramadan to train the body and bring the soul back to life. This is when the soul is in command and our body is in submission, which should be the case for us all year long.

Spot-Free Action Plan

Oct 10 - Spot-free action planBy Amber Saleem

Everyone knows what a pimple looks like, but not quite so many people know what causes one. A pimple is formed when the natural oils (sebum) produced by your skin become trapped inside a pore. This causes swelling and you get a pimple. If the pimple then becomes infected, the surrounding skin will also turn red and pus may develop. Hormonal activity and stress are the main culprits, causing pimples to develop.

Very few people go spotlessly through their teens and early twenties. When acne becomes irritated, it leaves signs on the skin called acne scars. There are several steps you can take, if you are afflicted with these pimples.

  • Lemon or lime juice is rich in citric acid and can exfoliate your skin to prevent acne spots. Take lemon juice, glycerin, and almond oil in equal quantity. Mix and preserve it in a bottle, and apply on the face at night. It is an excellent lotion to remove pimples and blackheads from your face.
  • If you already have acne, apply a small amount of toothpaste on your pimple before going to bed. Use toothpaste that contains mint, as mint will get rid of the swelling and dry up the pimple.
  • Another remedy is to take one tablespoon of honey and combine it with one tablespoon of yogurt. Apply on the skin for treating pimples.
  • Mix baking soda with water in such amounts that would be sufficient for your face. Gently massage the paste on your face for ten to fifteen seconds, then wash it with water. Baking soda is a very effective scrub for your face to remove acne as well as scars. Repeat this once a week.

Do

  • Use a gentle cleanser or mild soap on your face in the mornings and evenings. Use a medicated soap on the spotty areas of your body.
  • Eat a balanced diet, containing a sufficient amount of essential vitamins and minerals – vitamins A and B are particularly good for skin.

Don’t

  • Squeeze, pick or touch your pimples – you could cause infection, developing a single blemish into a nasty crop of pustules.
  • Use heavy moisturizers and foundations – light powder or cream is the best make-up choice.

Treating Fever the Herbal Way

Oct 10 - Treating fever

By Amber Saleem

Rafi Ibn Khadij has narrated: “I heard Allah’s Apostle (sa) saying: ‘Fever is from the heat of Hell, so abate fever with water.'” (Bukhari)

Fatima Bint Al-Mundhir has narrated: “Whenever a lady suffering from fever was brought to Asma Bint Abu Bakr (rta), she used to invoke Allah (swt) for her and then sprinkle some water on her body, at the chest and say: ‘Allah’s Apostle (sa) used to order us to abate fever with water.'” (Bukhari)

Home Remedies

  • Saffron is good for treating fever. Boil half a teaspoon of saffron in half cup of water. After the water boils, use this as tea – take one teaspoon every hour.
  • Raisins are also effective for curing fever. Soak 25 raisins in half cup of water. Once they get soft, crush in same water. Strain the mixture and add ½ tsp lemon juice. Take this mixture twice a day.
  • For lowering the temperature, take one tablespoon of honey, with a few drops of lemon and ginger juice.
  • Soak 6-7 potato slices in vinegar for ten minutes. Lie down and place these vinegar slices on your forehead with a wash cloth on top for 2-3 minutes.
  • A simple tip for lowering high fever is to place a slice of raw onion on the patient’s soles and cover the feet with socks.
  • Put one teaspoon of mustard seeds in one cup of hot water, steep for five minutes and drink.
  • Abu Hurairah t narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Eat the olive oil and massage it over your bodies, since it is pure and holy.” (Ibn Majah)
  • Apply a mixture of lime juice and olive oil all over your body.
  • Warm two tablespoons of olive oil with two crushed garlic cloves. Apply this mixture on both the soles and keep your feet wrapped with plastic all night long. You will see wonderful results of this remedy.

Diet in Fever

Along with the aforementioned tips, you can also take the following precautions:

  • Avoid eating such solid foods as Chapatis, until fever is gone. Replace solid foods with rice, bread, fruits and juices.
  • Drink as much water as you can – it will lower your temperature.
  • Mix half a glass of grapefruit juice with half a glass of water. Drink this once a day for relieving burning body and quenching thirst.
  • If your fever does not go down for several days, consult your doctor.

Teaching Moral Intelligence

ethics word cloud

Consider a child performing outstandingly in his studies, being a fine sportsperson, having an avid interest in the latest technology and excelling in co-curricular activities. But when it comes to his personal conduct, he lacks self-control, shows signs of aggression, can be disrespectful to his elders and younger ones and bears a low level of self-consciousness.

This is one concern which almost every parent has nowadays. Parents often experience that their child performs well academically, but, unfortunately, loses the battle on morality grounds.

Have you ever thought about the cause of this problem as a parent or educationist? What areas do we need to improve to teach our children to become better human beings?

The child in the introduction obviously shows signs of higher intelligence. Students who perform well most of the time are considered to have a high IQ. But at times, they have a low moral IQ, which is now considered to be a pivotal attribute in personality development.

Moral intelligence is a mental capacity to determine how to apply universal moral principles such as integrity, responsibility, compassion and forgiveness (www.moralcompass.com). It is also an ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Dr. Michele Borba, a former teacher and an internationally renowned consultant and educator, in her book titled “Moral Intelligence: The seven essential virtues that teach kids to do the right thing” firmly advocates seven vital virtues: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance and fairness. Dr. Borba believes that ethics is a prerequisite for positive and productive personality development. Parents should teach their children these qualities, so that they become better people.

Moral intelligence should be taught during childhood, with parents and teachers playing a vital role in developing an understanding of the importance of morals. It takes a considerable amount of patience to inculcate such virtues in young minds. Following are simple but helpful guidelines for embedding moral intelligence in their children.

Know Your Child

This is the most basic requirement. Before going on to introduce new things, you should know who you are dealing with. Children are different and equally special in their own ways. Try to understand your child. What does your child like? What are his interests? What makes him angry, upset or happy? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Understanding your child will guide you towards helping him in a better way!

Develop a Chat with Your Child

Once you understand your kid, you will eventually realise that he is in need of a conversation. Communication is extremely important for both parties. It is fruitful for parents to conquer grounds through thoughtful discussions. However, this should be a conversation and not a lengthy lecture. Let them express their point of view, which is important in building their character. Always speak in a friendly, mild tone, with gestures assuring that you value, understand and love them. Never abuse or use derogatory or negative language.

Dealing with Mistakes

Even though children have an inclination towards virtue, as per their Fitrah, they still tend to make mistakes. Never instantly talk to a child, when he does something wrong – at that time, he is emotionally shattered and embarrassed, and you, as a parent, are angry and disappointed. Both will behave irrationally. Give him time to analyse what he did, let him understand and learn from his mistakes. He will learn to love, sympathise, apologise, respect and care gradually.

Practicing Virtues Yourself

In order to make your child learn, it is vital that you set an example first. Parents have a habit of telling their young ones to do the right thing, without doing the same themselves. By doing so, they lose their credibility. Practice what you preach! Remember that a parent is a child’s role model. You are his/her teacher, so set the best example for him/her to follow.

Significance of Family

Family holds great importance for a child. This unit works as a major learning institution for young ones, upholding greater values, virtues and morality. Make sure that your family stays together. Good and bad phases are a part of life. Through times of trial, when family members are there for each other, children learn the value of love, sacrifice and respect.

By being in a family, one learns to live with different kinds of people. This helps a child in accepting different ideas, trains him to respect others and develops adjusting approaches in his personality.

As mature and responsible members of this society, we must ensure that our morals remain intact. If we want our future generation to be the torch-bearers of our traditions and flourish as one nation, we have to teach them morals. In that way, our children will be well-behaved. Remember, if rational intelligence can help a child build his life, moral intelligence will help him live that life in a better way!

Moral Education for the Young

An average child is exposed to 9000 obscene scenes per year through the mass media and television. This places a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of parents, who should give to their children proper Islamic education – even when it comes to sex education. Parents should realize that sex is not always a taboo to discuss. One can find various examples in the life of the Prophet (saw), where this subject was discussed extensively with the companions. Our failure to tell children what they need to know is one reason why they face complicated situations when they grow up.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “…Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’…” (Az-Zumar 39:9)

A few tips for parents, who want to instill the moral aspects of life in their children:

  • Start from a very early age to instill in them the notion that the family system and the way of life of a Muslim is very different from others.
  • It is all right to be different and to not engage in what others are doing.
  • Explain that having a feeling in the heart is all right. But to express the same through action is entirely different and should be controlled.
  • Children should be told that just as they cannot drink alcohol and have pork, they cannot engage in immoral relationships.
  • Parents should control the music their children are listening to, TV programmes they are watching, magazines they are reading and clothes they are wearing.
  • Children should be told that what leads to Haram is also Haram in Islam. Adultery is a major sin, so anything that leads to it is also not allowed, e.g., dating, chatting, having flirtatious conversations, etc.
  • Children should be encouraged to spend their free time in extracurricular activities of their interest, so that their energies are involved in doing something constructive.
  • Muslim boys and girls should understand that not all arranged marriages are bad and that sometimes they are more successful than love marriages.
  • Every family member has a responsibility – parents towards their children; elder siblings towards younger siblings and so on.

– By Umm Saad

Book Reviews

2945810-M

“The Embattled Innocence: Reflections of a Muslim Relief Worker”

Author: Suleman Ahmer

Publisher: Presslenders, 2009

Available at: Timelenders (http://www.timelenders.com)

“The Embattled Innocence” covers the time period when Suleman Ahmer was involved in Muslim relief work. The book consists of three parts – the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia – and each contains stories from the areas he visited.

The Balkans section begins with a story about a nine-year-old Bosnian girl Aida, whom the relief workers saw each time they visited Mostar. The story of Aida was the first one Suleman Ahmer wrote. Since the story drew responses from people he had never met, he decided to start a series of stories. Later, these stories were combined into a single book. The subsequent stories are as full of sincere emotions and vivid experiences as the one about Aida. We meet Kamila, a passionate young Muslimah from England, who, moved by the sufferings of Bosnians, had resigned her secretarial job to come to the war afflicted areas to help her Muslim brothers and sisters. We also meet Basheer, who gave up his engineering studies in Algeria to help out in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and then joined the struggle of the Tajiks. At the age of 34, Basheer embraced martyrdom after he was shot seven times in the chest and the head.

These first-hand experiences of war sufferings draw tears to eyes and bring into heart gratitude that Allah (swt) has blessed us with peace and freedom to practice our religion, which many of our Muslims brothers and sisters died for.

– By Laila Brence

“Guess the Prophets”

“Animal Kingdom in the Quran”

“Excellent Examples”

Publisher: Flowers of Islam

Availability: Dawah Books

“Flowers of Islam” have successfully accomplished the three Es in the stunning flashcards they have created. These flashcards promise to entice, educate and enchant your young ones with their unique approach. If your children are between the ages of seven and eleven, then these flashcards are truly meant for them.

The main objective of “Guess the Prophets” flash cards is to teach about the Prophets in a fun and interactive way. These stories can help young minds get an insight into the lives of the blessed Prophets of Allah (swt) and inspire them to assimilate their teachings in their daily lives.

“Animal Kingdom in the Quran” uses riddles to teach children about the various animal stories mentioned in the Quran. In this manner, the young believers can learn about the diverse animal facts and incidents.

“Excellent Examples” uses a myriad of examples and interesting similitudes to help the young believers understand such concepts as Iman and Mumin. The goal is for the young minds to explore, question and attain a better understanding of the true meaning and purpose of a believer’s role in this world.

The cards can be used as a learning tool in schools or as an educational toy at home, since they simultaneously educate and entertain.

– By Uzma Javed

Do you have Aspendicitis?

Oct 10 - Do you have AspendicitisBy Noorjehan Arif and Sumaira Dada

Of the five questions on the Day of Judgement, one will be: “How did you spend your income?” (At-Tirmidhi) It is imperative that, as Muslims, we scrutinize our spending habits and control the urge to splurge. In order to help control our spending habits, we need to remind ourselves of the divine injunction in this regard: “Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan (Devil) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:27)

How do People Control the Urge to Splurge?

Perveen Wali, a grandmother of three, says that she controls the urge to spend by not going out of the house very often. Besides, her mobility is limited. Apparently, that is a blessing in disguise.

Uzma, a lecturer at a business school, quips: “I don’t have to control the urge to spend. It looks at my wallet and controls itself.”

Sadia Hassan, a postgraduate student, surprises us by saying that she hardly gets an urge to spend. In fact, her mother jokes that she likes to go shopping with her, because Sadia doesn’t make her spend much! So, how does Sadia control the urge to splurge? She does it by thinking and evaluating that the more material possessions she has, the more she’ll have to account for before Allah (swt).

Sadia Jibran, a mother of a one-year old, concedes that it’s difficult to control spending, especially after one is married. Nevertheless, she is able to control her desire to spend excessively by taking a friend along during her shopping trips, so that somebody is there to ask her whether she really needs whatever catches her eye. She agrees with a friend that hanging out at malls to window-shop is a real no-no, because window shopping leads to a lot of real shopping.

Ameera Khan thinks that giving purchases a second thought definitely controls spending on unnecessary items. She does admit, though, that it really is difficult to hold yourself back, when you know you can afford to buy something.

Your Wealth Includes a Share of the Needy

Another way to control overspending is to realize that the poor and the needy also have a right to your wealth. Allah (swt) describes the quality of the believers saying:

“And those in whose wealth there is a known right for the beggar who asks, and for the unlucky who has lost his property and wealth, (and his means of living have been straitened).” (Al-Marij 70:24-25)

A Hadeeth also reinforces the fact that the excess wealth, which remains with you, is not yours.

Abu Saeed al-Khudri (rta) reported: “While we were with the Apostle of Allah e on a journey, a person came upon his mount and began to stare on the right and on the left; (it was at this moment) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘He who has an extra mount should give that to one who has no mount for him, and he who has surplus of provisions should give them to him who has no provisions,’ and he made mention of so many kinds of wealth, until we were of the opinion that none of us has any right over the surplus.” (Muslim)

Prioritization of Spending

Prioritizing one’s spending is an effective way of controlling impulse buying. Our priorities should be according to what the Prophet (sa) has outlined.

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) commanded to give Sadaqah. A man said: “Apostle of Allah, I have a Dinar.” He said: “Spend it on yourself.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your children.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your wife.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your servant.” He finally said: “I have another.” He replied: “You know best (what to do with it).” (Abu Dawood)

One of the ways to control overspending is to know the right place to shop for your needs. Here’s a list of affordable places that you can go to for your essential shopping needs.

Sunday Bazaar

Spend some time in Sunday Bazaar and you will get the most amazing of options on the most outrageous of bargains. Make sure that you bargain for at least half the price and settle for a maximum of two thirds, for whatever you want to purchase! Everything you need is available at these Bazaars from books to clothes, to groceries, to shoes and more!

100 (or 50) Rupees Shops

Want to purchase gifts, but don’t know what to buy and how much to spend? These questions will become easier, when you visit the 100 or 50 Rupees shop. You will find a multitude of items at reasonable prices, and you can pick up some nice bargain items for your friends and family!

Discount Book Stores

Are you fond of buying books? Rejoice, for there are a number of discount book shops and stalls, which will have the books of your choice. A little time and a little money can go a long way in finding the books of your choice. Some of these stores also buy and sell books giving one an opportunity to swap old books with the new unread collection that they stock.

Specialized Bazaars

Each city and locality has some specialized Bazaars, where you can get things of your choice. From stationery to cosmetics and more, you will be able to get items cheaper here than in shops near your place, because this is where other shops buy all their items from, on wholesale rates.

Believe that You Can Change

The more you think of ways to control your spending habits, the more ideas you are likely to come up with.

People go as far as suggesting that one should freeze all credit cards and pay for purchases in cash. Others add items to their wish list, give them a second thought and then decide, whether to buy or not. Still others make a proper budget, compare items before purchasing them and refuse to be deceived by attractive advertisements and promotions.

It also facilitates mingling with simple people. Most of us also spend in competition with others, on stuff we can easily do without.

At the end of the day, it’s all about wanting to control the ability to spend and not become a victim of aspendicitis (an inability to control the amount one spends).

Fidya: A Relaxation

Jul 10 - Fidya

By Qainaf Najam

At the sales company where I work, my boss has the following rule: if I break a glass by accident, I have to replace it with a new one. However, if out of anger I hurl a glass across my office, I’ll be fined or punished. Leafing through the Quran, I stumbled upon some verses that appeared to reveal the inspiration behind my boss’s ingenious rule.

Following are the verses regarding the obligation of fasting. Allah (swt) says: “Observe Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him…” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

In the pre-Islamic times, the believers were either required to fast or give a fixed amount of food or money to the poor to make up for a fast. This was called Fidya, and usually the rich used to give Fidya to escape the hardships of fasting.

With the advent of Islam, this ruling was abrogated – only the physically unfit were allowed to pay Fidya. This ensured uniformity between the rich and the poor. If the rich never fast and keep paying Fidya, they can never understand the trauma of an empty belly. Also, it inculcates in them pride and love for their wealth, as they start to believe that they can escape religious obligations merely by paying a certain amount of money. Thus, the fact that every rich person cannot pay Fidya is actually a blessing from Allah Almighty, as it allows them to stand in line with the unprivileged of the society and bridge the gap separating these two socially different classes.

If a person misses a fast due to a valid reason, he has to offer its Qada by fasting an equal number of days, whenever he is able to do so. However, if he is physically unfit for fasting, he has to pay Fidya for each missed fast. This basically includes the elderly and the sick people suffering from a chronic illness. According to a Hadeeth in Bukhari, in his last years Anas (rta) used to prepare some meat with bread and give them to the poor, as he was too weak to fast himself.

The scholars vary in opinion over the case of a person, who has paid Fidya and later finds out that he is able to keep fasts. Some say it is Wajib (obligatory) upon him to offer the Qada fasts, while others argue that since he has paid the Fidya, it’s not obligatory. However, all agree that it’s preferable (Mustahab) for him to offer Qada fasts as well. For a poor person, who can neither fast nor pay Fidya, the ruling is that he must invoke Allah’s (swt) mercy. That will, Insha’Allah, exempt him from offering the Qada or paying Fidya.

“If a pregnant woman fears for herself or a feeding mother is scared for her child, then it is no sin upon them, if they do not fast. And they should both offer Fidya and there is no need to offer the Qada that is to keep an equal number of fasts later.” (Muslim)

Most of the scholars term this Hadeeth as authentic, while some argue that the relaxation of Fidya is only for the physically unfit – the rest must offer Qada fasts. In such circumstances, it is Ihsan (better) for a woman to offer Qada as well, if she is able to do so.

Fidya can be paid in two ways: the person has to either feed a poor person with the area’s main staple food for each missed fast, or give an equal amount of money. The amount of food to be given for each fast is called Mudd. One Mudd is defined as the amount one can hold in both hands, when cupped together, which is equivalent to ½ Saa of the staple food or 1.5 kg in common terms. It amounts to approximately PKR 2000 for a month, almost PKR 67 per fast. It is better, in the eyes of Allah (swt), if it is paid with a little oil or meat, as that shows the individual’s sense of responsibility towards Allah’s (swt) creation. The concept, however, is to give away the food or equivalent in cash to the poor, that is, to give him the Tamleek (ownership) of the food or money. It is not sufficient to merely invite them to a feast and feed them.

Allah (swt) uses the word Miskeen in Al-Quran for those to whom Fidya can be paid. It literally translates to the English word ‘impoverished’. In Islamic Shariah, it refers to a person, who falls short of the basic necessities of life. According to some scholars, it is particularly used for those who are entitled to receive Zakat.

One point to consider in making up the missed fasts is that one should make haste. It is preferable to make up one’s missed fasts before the arrival of next Ramadan. Some scholars go as far as laying down a ruling that says that the amount of Fidya keeps mounting with each passing year.

The option of Fidya is another reason for us to glorify the beauty of Islam that lies in its perfectly comprehensive nature. Even though Allah (swt) places fasting in the category of Fard, He (swt) also considers our human weaknesses and provides us leeway in the form of Fidya and Qada if we fall short of our obligations. This shows us the infinite wisdom of Almighty Allah (swt)!

Allah (swt) says: “… He … has not laid upon you in religion any hardship…” (Al-Hajj 22:78)

The words of Prophet Muhammad (sa), as recorded in the compilation of Imam Ahmad (rta), confirm this verse: “Allah’s (swt) Deen is not of difficulties…”

May Allah Almighty (swt) give us all the ability to carry out our religious obligations sincerely and dutifully, Ameen. Happy Ramadan!

Itikaf: A Forsaken Sunnah

Jul 10 - Itikaaf

Ramadan for most people is a festive time. I remember when my brother used to plead with my parents to spend the night at the local mosque, where his friends were observing Itikaf. Together they had plans to enjoy themselves – away from the watchful eye of their parents. Being children, they can be forgiven for taking Itikaf as a time to have fun. However, it is distressing to find adults observing Itikaf and yet not realizing the seriousness of the Ibadah. Moreover, many people have simply given up this Sunnah. Through this article, we hope to encourage Muslims to observe Itikaf and to clarify some of the misconceptions, which might be preventing them from observing this Sunnah.

Itikaf in the Quran and Ahadeeth

Itikaf means staying in the mosque to worship Allah (swt). It has been prescribed by Allah (swt) in the Quran and is a Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). In the Quran, Allah (swt) says: “…and We commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael) that they should purify My House (the Kabah at Makkah) for those who are circumambulating it, or staying (Itikaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves (there, in prayer).” (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

There are many Ahadeeth, which tell us that the Prophet (sa) observed Itikaf. According to a Hadeeth of Aisha (rta), the Prophet (sa) used to observe Itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan, until Allah (swt) took his soul. His wives observed Itikaf after he was gone. (Bukhari and Muslim)

What is the purpose of Itikaf?

One of the greatest aims of this form of worship is to seek the Night of Power (Laylat ul-Qadr), which is one of the odd-numbered nights in the last ten nights of Ramadan. It is also a time for conversing with Allah (swt) by offering Salah, reading the Quran and engaging in Dhikr.

When can we observe Itikaf?

The best time to observe it is during the last ten days of Ramadan. We know from the Hadeeth of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) used to observe Itikaf for the last ten days every Ramadan, and in the year, in which he passed away, he observed Itikaf for twenty days. (Bukhari) However, it is also proven that the Prophet (sa) observed it during ten days of Shawwal (Bukhari). Therefore, one can observe it at any time of the year. Being in a state of fast is also not a condition for observing Itikaf.

Length of Itikaf

There are differences among scholars regarding the minimum length of Itikaf, ranging from a moment to one day. We can find the grounds for this in a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), where he allowed Umar (rta) to observe Itikaf for one night in Masjid Al-Haram, in order to fulfil a vow. (Bukhari)

The maximum number of days that the Prophet (sa) observed Itikaf was thirty. We know this from a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (rta): The Messenger of Allah (sa) observed Itikaf during the first ten days of Ramadan, then he observed Itikaf during the middle ten days in a small tent, at the door of which was a reed mat. He took the mat in his hand and lifted it. Then he put his head out and spoke to the people, and they came close to him. He(sa) said: “I observed Itikaf during the first ten days seeking this night, then I observed Itikaf during the middle ten days. Then someone came and said to me that it is in the last ten days, so whoever among you wishes to observe Itikaf, let him do so.” (Muslim)

Where do we stay for Itikaf?

According to the scholars, Itikaf is only valid if observed in a mosque, where congregational prayers are held, because Allah (swt) said: “And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in Itikaf (i.e., confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:187). Being in a mosque cuts off a person from worldly activities and allows him to focus on worship.

Women must also observe Itikaf in the mosque. However, it is not necessary that congregational prayers be held there, for it is not obligatory upon women to offer prayers in congregation. According to Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen, a woman may observe Itikaf so long as there is no fear of Fitnah (temptation), such as happens in Masjid Al-Haraam because there is no separate place for women there.

Taking breaks during Itikaf

According to Aisha (rta), “The Sunnah is for the Mutakif not to visit any sick person, or attend any funeral, or touch his wife or be intimate with her, or to go out for any purpose, except those which cannot be avoided.” (Abu Dawood) Ibn Qudamah says that for everything that he cannot do without and cannot do in the mosque, the Mutakif may go out. This does not invalidate his Itikaf, as long as he does not take a long time to do it. He is, therefore, allowed to leave the mosque for food and drink, and to relieve himself.

How do women perform Itikaf?

Women will perform Itikaf in the same manner as men. However, married women need to seek permission from their husbands to perform Itikaf. We know that Aisha (rta) asked Prophet (sa) for permission to observe Itikaf and he gave her permission; then Hafsa (rta) asked Aisha (rta) to ask for permission for her and she did so. (Bukhari)

Itikaf: a forsaken Sunnah

It is sad to note that in this day and age, many Muslims have forsaken this Sunnah. It seems that we find it very difficult to cut ourselves off from the world even for a short time. It is time we ponder on our keenness for Paradise and reassess our faith.

Zakat-Al-Fitr

India Eid al FitrBy Alia Adil

Obligation

The payment of Zakat-Al-Fitr before offering the Eid prayer is obligatory upon every Muslim, who is self-supporting. Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) enjoined Zakat-Al-Fitr, a Sa of dates or a Sa of barley, upon all the Muslims, slave and free, male and female, young and old, and he commanded that it be paid before the people went out to pray.” (Bukhari)

A Muslim should give Zakat-Al-Fitr on his own behalf and on behalf of those, on whom he spends, e.g., wife, children, parents, if they cannot give it on their own behalf. If they are able to, then it is better for them to give it themselves.

Imam Shafi said: “Who I say is obliged to give Zakat-Al-Fitr, if a child is born to him, or he takes possession of a slave, or someone becomes one of his dependents at any time during the last day of Ramadan, then the sun sets on the night of the crescent of Shawwal,

he has to give Zakat-Al-Fitr on that person’s behalf.” (Al-Umm, Bab Zakat-Al-Fitr al Thani)

Hikmah (Wisdom)

The wisdom behind Zakat-Al-Fitr is that it makes up for any errors unintentionally made during Ramadan, and it also serves as a means to feed the poor on Eid.

Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) prescribed Zakat-Al-Fitr as a purification of the fasting person from senseless and obscene talk, and as food for the poor. Whoever fulfills it before the (Eid) prayer, it will be an acceptable Zakat, and whoever fulfills it after the prayer, it will be counted as a Sadaqah (voluntary alms).” (Abu Dawood)

Wakeel Ibn al Jarrah said: “Zakat-Al-Fitr for the month of Ramadan is like two Sujood-As-Sahu for the prayer. It makes up for any shortcomings in the fast, just as the prostrations make up for any shortcomings in the prayer.” (Al-Nawawi, Al-Majmoo, part 6)

Amount

The amount to be given as Zakat-Al-Fitr is a Sa of any kind of staple food. What is meant by a Sa here is the Sa of the Messenger of Allah (sa), which is four times the amount that may be held in the two hands of a man of average built. Hence, one Sa is equal to four Mudd, where one Mudd is equivalent to two hands cupped together.

Sa is actually a measure of volume. In modern weights this is equivalent to approximately three kilograms. This is corroborated by Sheikh Ibn Baz on Islam-QA.com

In What Form

In Al-Saheehayn, it is narrated that Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (rta) said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allah (sa) we used to give it at a rate of one Sa of food, or one Sa of dates, or one Sa of barley, or one Sa of cheese, or one Sa of raisins…”

A number of scholars interpreted the word Tam (food) in this Hadeeth as referring to wheat, and others explained it as referring to the staple food of the local people, no matter what it is, whether it is wheat, corn or something else. Therefore, it may be in the form of raisins, barley, dates, wheat, lentils, dried curd, rye, etc.

Scholars disagree, as to whether money can be paid in lieu of food. The majority of scholars hold the view that Zakat-Al-Fitr cannot be paid in cash. It must be given in the form of food, as the Prophet (sa) and his companions did. This view is the one adopted by the Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali schools of law. The Hanafi school of law follows Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinion that it is permissible to pay Zakat-Al-Fitr in cash.

Timing

Zakat-Al-Fitr is a kind of charity that is obligatory at the time when the sun sets on the last day of Ramadan.

It is reported on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) that he said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) ordered that Zakat-Al-Fitr be paid before people go out to the (Eid) prayer.” (Bukhari)

It is reported that Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz (rta) and Abu al Aliya (rta) said: “He (the Prophet (sa)) paid Zakat-Al-Fitr, when he went out for the prayer, i.e., Salat-ul-Eid.” (Al Jassas, Ahkam Al Quran, part 3, Surah Aala)

There is a time when it is Mustahab (preferable) to give it, and there is a time when it is permissible to give it. It is Mustahab to give on the Eid day. The time when it is permissible to give Zakat-Al-Fitr is one or two days before the Eid.

In Sahih Al Bukhari it is reported that An-Nafi(rta) said: “Ibn Umar (rta) used to give on behalf of the young and old. He would give it to those who took it (those who were appointed by the Imam for its collection), and it would be given a day or two before (Eid- Al-Fitr).”

It is not permissible to delay it until after the prayer, because of the report narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta), according to which the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever gives it before the prayer, it is accepted as Zakah, and whoever gives it after the prayer, it is a kind of charity.” (Abu Dawood)

Hence, Zakat-Al-Fitr may be paid a day or two in advance but not after the Eid prayer.

Eligibility

Zakat-Al-Fitr should be given to the poor and needy Muslims in the land or city, where it is given, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood from Ibn Abbas (rta), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) enjoined Zakat-Al-Fitr to be paid in Ramadan to feed the poor.”

Imam Al Shafi(rta) said: “Zakat-Al-Fitr should be divided among those, to whom Zakat-Al-Mal is divided, and it should not be spent anywhere else… It should be shared out among the poor and needy, slaves who have made a contract to purchase their freedom from their masters, debtors, those who are fighting in the way of Allah, and wayfarers.” (Kitab Al Umm: Bab Dayah Zakat-Al-Fitr qabla Qasmiha)

And Allah (swt) knows best.

Shaping up Your Finances. Go Budgeting!

Jul 10 - Shaping up your finances Go budgeting

Budgeting is a mechanism, which helps you to be financially in shape. Too often people make purchases without considering the financial consequences. Some people shop compulsively and then wonder why their wallet is empty. Living in moderation is the only way to earn financial security; it is a concept stated in a number of Quranic verses and Ahadeeth.

“And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.” (Al-Isra, 17:29)

“And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are … those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes). (Al-Furqan 25:63-67)

Budgeting is a comprehensive financial plan that helps you to:

  • live within your income,
  • spend your money wisely,
  • reach your financial goals,
  • prepare for financial emergencies,
  • develop wise financial management habits,
  • establish financial discipline,
  • feel financially secure about your present and future.

The budgeting process can be divided in four major phases.

The first step is to determine your current financial position regarding income, savings, expenses and debt obligations, if any. Estimate your sources of cash from the given time period, for which the budget is prepared. A common budgeting period is a month, since payments, such as school fees or utilities bills, are due monthly. In estimating available income, you should include only the money that you are 100% sure to receive. Bonuses, commissions, gifts or unexpected income should not be considered, until the amount is actually received.

Budgeting income may be difficult, if your earnings vary according to season or your income is irregular. In these situations, attempt to estimate your income conservatively based on past year and your current year expectations. Estimating your income on the low side would always help in avoiding situations that lead to overspending.

Budget allocations, with regards to expense categories, would depend on your life situation (whether you’re single, a parent with dependent children, or widowed with independent children, etc.).  Maintaining a detailed record of your spending for several months is a better source for understanding your spending habits and patterns.

Carefully analyze your expenses in your spending record. Review the records of your previous months’ expenditure. Using this as a starting point, write down your historical monthly expenses. Determine which ones of them are fixed and which are variable expenses. Fixed expenses are compulsory needs. Variable expenses are wants and desires and will fluctuate according to your household income, time of the year, health and a variety of other factors.

Through this you will be able to estimate your monthly expenses for the next month, which will help provide an adequate yardstick in gauging your future expense. Each expense category can be totaled and a percentage to total expenses can be calculated for it. If some categories appear too high, the decisions can be made to control spending in them.

Once you have estimated your monthly income and expense position, you have made a budget plan for the month. Now, you would need to record your actual monthly incomes and expenses in the budget sheet. The actual income and spending might not always be the same as planned; the difference between them will tell you whether your budget is on the track or going in a deficit. It may be necessary to review and revise your budget and financial goals on weekly basis.

The result of the budgeting exercise can be: 1) having extra cash in your hand at the end of the month or 2) falling behind in your saving plan by making extra expenses and so on.

On a quarterly and yearly basis, prepare a summary to compare your actual amounts with budgeted amounts and to determine if you are moving towards your targets. The summary would help you see where changes in your budget may be necessary. This review process is vital for successful money management and long term financial security.

Budget is a circular, on-going process. You, therefore, would need to revise it on a regular basis. You need to judge for yourself, whether you are making progress towards achieving your objectives. You need to evaluate, whether you have to change your financial goals due to changes in your personal or economic conditions.

What should be cut when a budget shortage occurs? The answer to this question is not easy and would depend on your individual household situations.

Having a budget would not eliminate your financial worries. A budget will work only if you are serious about following it. Changes in income, expenses and goals will require changes in your spending habits. Money management experts advise that a successful budget should be:

1. Well-planned

A good budget takes time and effort to prepare but is simple to manage. Planning the budget should involve everyone in the household who would be affected by it. Children should be involved, so that they learn the important money management lessons, while helping to develop and use the family budget. The estimates should be stated specifically and in measurable terms and have a definite time frame.

2. Realistic

If you have a moderate income, don’t expect to save enough money immediately for an expensive car or a lavish vacation. A budget is designed not to prevent you from enjoying finer things in life or to live miserly but to help you attain what you want most in life. An old saying goes: “If you don’t know, where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else and not even know it.”

3. Flexible

Unexpected expenses or emergencies will require an immediate revision of your budget. Hence, budget needs to be such that it can easily be revised. Special situations, such as illness, pregnancy and arrival of a baby or guests coming to stay, may increase certain types of expenses.

4. Clearly communicated

The budget plan will only be implemented if you and others contributing to the household budget is aware of it and can understand it.

5. Simple

The budget needs to be simple to manage; otherwise, it would be discarded in the litter. It should not be time consuming and painstakingly difficult to implement and follow.

In the end, creating a budget may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but it is vital in keeping your financial house in order. It is important to realize that, in order to be successful in making a budget, you have to decipher as much detailed information as possible. Ultimately, the end result will show you where your money is coming from, how much is there and where it is all going!

Budget worksheet samples are available at:

http://office.microsoft.com

http://www.vertex42.com

Pornography Addiction – The Dark Side of Cyberspace

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Pornography addiction

With stomach-churning horror and disgust, I watched an interview with an 18-year-old American girl, calmly describing her choice of profession as a ‘porn star.’ She had made more than a hundred films since turning the legal age of eighteen.

The Internet has catapulted the profits made by the ‘adult industry’. No longer restricted to magazines and videotapes, pornography on the Internet does away with the need to leave our home. It now conveniently brings graphic sex to our homes. They are easily accessible at the click of a mouse in the form of animated or real videos and pictures.

As an individual starts to view pornography, at first he just wants to satisfy his curiosity. Eventually, if not curbed, the action becomes a habit, and soon, without even realizing it, a compulsive addiction sets in. The causes of pornography addiction are the desires of the Nafs coupled with the insinuations of Satan.

Naïve people might assume that only unmarried ‘perverts’ are hooked to Internet porn. Actually, statistics reveal that girls, boys, men and women of all ages are pornography addicts, regardless of whether they are single, divorced or happily married with children.

It goes without saying that viewing pornography is Haram in Islam. It is Zina (fornication) of the eyes and hands that the Prophet Muhammad (sa) described: “The eyes commit Zina, the hands commit Zina, the feet commit Zina, and the genitals commit Zina.” (Ahmad)

The Fatwa Committee of IslamQA.com states in response to Question No. 42165:

“It is not permissible to look at pornographic pictures that show the charms of women, either on Internet websites or in newspapers or magazines, etc. That is because looking at them is a means of enjoying them and knowing the beauty of the woman in the picture.”

Symptoms of pornography addiction

  • Not using the computer in a common area, such as the living room; always using it only in complete privacy.
  • Being extremely private/possessive about one’s laptop or computer, e.g., disliking anyone else using it, turning it on or even touching it.
  • Staying locked up alone for hours in a room at the computer.
  • Using the computer mostly at night, when others are asleep and the house is quiet.
  • Being irritable and grouchy around family, for no apparent reason.
  • Being unusually defensive about religiosity.

When the blog MuslimMatters.org published “Pornography Addiction among Muslims,” several Muslim men and women anonymously revealed their personal struggle with pornography addiction. One married Muslim man of 25-30 years stated:

“I fell into the Fitnah when I was in my teens. I don’t want to go into the details, but soon after I was introduced to pornography, I was hooked on it. What fanned the flames of desire was access to the Internet. When I was new to the sin, I would never have dared to buy a dirty magazine from the local store, out of a sense of shame and embarrassment. But the Internet made everything accessible to me, and I could see what I wanted when I wanted, all in the privacy of my own home. Another problem was that my family resisted, when I suggested that I marry in my early twenties.”

It is indeed a grave problem that thousands of men of the Muslim Ummah are stuck in the vicious cycle of pornography addiction. Sadly, persistent masturbation whilst viewing dirty websites, gradually renders them impotent, so that when the younger ones do get married, their problems are compounded rather than solved. Another byproduct of mass-scale viewing of pornography is the rise of homosexuality among Muslim men.

Parents’ usual attitude on finding incriminating evidence on their children’s computers follows a typical pattern: at first, shock and denial; giving their son/daughter a huge shouting/spanking, followed by complete confiscation of Internet privileges. Eventually, however, as months pass they relent and choose to look the other way, telling themselves nonchalantly: “He’ll outgrow it. How can we stop him?” The same applies for discovery of pornography by wives of addicts; only, they are more hurt and at a total loss as to how to stop their husbands.

If, as a parent, sister or wife, you come across incriminating material on the computer, what should you do? Here are some tips:

  • Abstain from thinking that your child/brother/husband is a pervert. He is a victim, who has been afflicted severely by the pornography Fitnah. Don’t judge him – he needs your sincere help.
  • Do NOT tell anyone about his addiction to unburden yourself. Allah (swt) has commanded us to cover other people’s faults and sins. Tell someone only if they will be able to help you put a stop to it, e.g., if a sister discovers her brother’s pornographic pictures, she may tell their mother.
  • Gain knowledge of why Allah (swt) has forbidden the viewing of sexually explicit material. Go to the website Google.com.pk, search with the terms “pornography addiction Muslims” and read the articles that appear.
  • Do not consider yourself better than pornography addicts – this is another trap of Satan; tell yourself that perhaps, in the long-term, Allah (swt) might accept their repentance and grant them a higher level of Jannah.
  • Before a confrontation, plan on what you will say and how you will say it. Maintain a normal tone and abstain from hurling accusations or passing judgements.
  • Sincerely have pity for the victim of pornography. Make sincere Dua for them to be able to stop.
  • If you have the authority to do so, confiscate their Internet privileges.

How does one get rid of this addiction? There are several tips and remedies recommended by Muslim scholars. The topmost tips are: to fear Allah (swt), keep busy in beneficial work, increase in good deeds, and go ‘cold turkey’ on the Internet (i.e., relinquish it completely) for a while. Gaining knowledge of the Quran and involving oneself with Dawah and outdoor activities (recreation, family) helps.

It is a bitter struggle to get out of pornography, but it is possible. The verses from the Quran that give most hope are:

Say: “O Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

“And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith (Islamic Monotheism) to your Lord and submit to Him, (in Islam), before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.

“And follow the best of that which is sent down to you from your Lord (i.e. this Quran, do what it orders you to do and keep away from what it forbids), before the torment comes on you suddenly while you perceive not!” (Az-Zumar 39:53-55)

Math is Fun

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Math is Fun

Mathematics is a subject which most students love to hate – and certain teachers even hate to teach, because of the overt negative vibes. On the other hand, there are some students who are a joy to teach, simply because they are so skilled with numbers.

Following are some activities which teachers can use for inculcating math skills at elementary level classrooms.

Gaity, a kindergarten teacher, uses an activity involving six puppets: five monkeys and one alligator. She gives small laminated drawings attached to pop sticks to the children and asks them to sing the following song: “Teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me. Along came Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be, and snapped that monkey right out of the tree.” She has the children sing the song a number of times, until they have memorized it. Then, she selects six students: five to hold the monkey puppets and one for the alligator. In unison, the class sings the song, taking a monkey away each time. While they are singing, the teacher writes the subtraction problems on the board to go with each verse of the song, e.g., 5-1=, 4-1=, 3-1=, 2-1=… Then, the children solve each problem using the puppets. The alligator is supposed to serve as the subtraction sign.

Another activity is called ‘flying a saucer’. Before the class begins, the teacher writes a math fact on each of a number of paper plates. In the playground, the children line up with a paper plate in hand, and when cued, they throw the paper plate as far as they can. Then they scramble to pick up the plates, before the whistle blows, after which they line up again. One by one, ask the students to read out and answer the question written on his or her plate/s. The child that gives the right answer remains in the line and whoever does not has to sit. Any sitting student can ‘buy’ his or her way back into the game by answering a problem that someone doesn’t know in the next round.

Ghazala, also a kindergarten teacher, plays ‘winning the cheeto’ with her students. She writes the numbers she is working with on cards made out of construction paper. These cards are then taped to the floor forming a square. In addition, she also puts small pieces of paper with numbers on them in a box. For starters, she lets each student stand on a number and then, while the teacher sings, they walk around stepping on the numbers as they go. Once the song stops, they have to stop at the number they are on, and the teacher then draws out one of the pieces of paper from the box and calls out the number written on it. Whoever is standing on the number is the winner. This activity can be used to teach colours, shapes and alphabets.

For the activity called ‘number patterns,’ students learn to identify the number pattern on the board and write the missing numbers, e.g., 18, 15, 12, -, -, -. Make sure you explain the concept well and ask them prompting questions like whether the missing number is larger or smaller. To check if they have understood the concept, ask them to create their own number patterns and see if their partner can identify them.

For the activity ‘Cheerio and counting,’ ask the children to tell you their age, using their fingers. Give the child a number card with his or her age on it and ask them to put the correct amount of Cheerios on it. Talk about each number. After that, give them a piece of yarn and have them make a necklace, using the Cheerios as beads, while counting them as they go along.

‘How many balloons left’ is an activity that can be used as an introduction to a lesson on subtraction. Take three balloons, show them to the students, and have them count them out loud. Without warning, pop a balloon. Your students are bound to enjoy this. Then ask the children: “How many balloons are left?” Ask the children to convert what they just saw into a subtraction number sentence and write it out on the board for them.

Naila, a grade one teacher, uses the activity ‘going on a shape hunt,’ in which she gives the children a writing pad and pencil and asks them to explore the playground looking for objects with circular, triangular or square shapes. The children are to sketch the objects they find in their writing pads. Back in class, she asks the children to draw one of the objects, label it as a circle, triangle or square and colour it. Afterwards, students can share their works of art with others and discuss their findings.

All in all, one can definitely surmise that teaching mathematics does not have to be a boring activity at all, either for the teacher or for the students. Both can have fun in their math class – all you need is a little creativity to take the lesson further than the textbook/workbook and homework exercises.

Digital Photography – The Latent Issues

By Zainub RazviVol 7 - Issue 1 Digital Photography

The issue of photography is a contentious one in Islam, with there being a difference of opinion among the contemporary scholars about its permissibility. However, as Shaykh Faraz Rabbani summarizes, “the scholars who hold photography of humans and animals impermissible generally make exception of situations of need – such as documentation and educational purposes” and “the scholars, who permit photography of humans and animals, condition this with the images being within Shariah limits (such as no nudity or vice).”

The provision of ‘Shariah limits’ encompasses not just the content of photography, but also the people who are allowed to see these photographs. With the advent and widespread popularity of digital cameras, it has become much easier to share photographs than it was previously possible with traditional film photographs. Unaware of or unconcerned about the dangers of the unrestricted access to private photographs, people happily post pictures of virtually every aspect of their lives on the Internet.

Although Facebook and similar websites have privacy settings, many people don’t use them – be it genuine ignorance or callous indifference. Sidrah Ahmad says: “It is important to have a look at your privacy settings and be aware of who can search for you and what they can find. For example, I posted an album that had photos of my cousin’s children, and her cousin (who I was not friends with on Facebook) was able to see this album. Though she was no stranger to the children, I understand the harm in having photos on display for public view. [After this] I restricted all my albums to be viewable for ‘Just Friends’, which I recommend to everyone posting photos on Facebook.” Sidrah believes that major breaches can be prevented by making use of the settings available.

However, other people disagree. Amina Ahmed contends that “digital pictures can be very dangerous,” not simply because they open the floodgates for non-Mahrams to see the photographs, but also because digital pictures can be easily manipulated with. “People who can access your account may be able to copy/paste and then change the pictures. No matter how private the settings are, there are still risks that the pictures can be seen by strangers.”

This is a valid concern. We may be sure that our friends are trustworthy and will not misuse our photographs, but what if they do not observe the same levels of Hijab? Will they then show the necessary discretion if they are viewing the photos, especially when their brothers or father are around the PC? Also, once you agree to the terms and conditions of most of these websites, you give them the license to share your photos with third party businesses and customers. Even if that does not happen, the fact remains that the webmasters of any website can access all the user accounts, and this includes the uploaded photographs. That is why some people are completely against the idea of uploading pictures on any website, even if those photos are with Hijab.

So what can be done? The safest option is to never have yourself photographed without Hijab, especially from someone else’s digital camera. Try and use email when sharing photographs, and even then, remind people that you are very particular about who can view those pictures. Steer clear of uploading photographs on social networking websites, whether they are of yourself or your friends.

A similar policy needs to be adopted while organizing or attending segregated events during which otherwise Hijab-observing women will take off their Hijab. As an organizer, it is your responsibility to ensure that no pictures are taken by random guests.

If you are planning your own wedding and know that it will be impossible to discourage people from taking your photographs as a bride, go one step ahead in the planning phases and have a “no cameras allowed in ladies section” rule printed on the invitation card, so that people know beforehand not to bring their cameras. I personally know two families who printed such a caution on the wedding card. Even then, it can sometimes become necessary to ask a family member to make sure that no one is taking any pictures.

This is not to advocate that no pictures should be taken at all, but only to emphasize that there are dangers in being lax about who can take your pictures and who can see them. That seems to be the bottom line regarding digital pictures, no matter when they are taken, or how they are shared.