Watch What You Say: Don’t Poke Fun or Be Sarcastic

Colorful speech bubbles“O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc.]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

I wanted to share with you a reminder that we all need, in regards to guarding and respecting the gift Allah (swt) has given to us- our tongues. The ability to speak is an incredible gift from Allah (swt), and it’s an honour from Allah (swt). And, what we learn from the verses is that, the best use of our speech is to remember Allah (swt) by the words He taught us. Our speech, in any matter, should be inspired by the speech that Allah (swt) has honoured us with, i.e., His Quran.

we sometime don’t realize the value of things that we have, specially our tongues.

Now, we’re all humans and we make mistakes. And, we sometime don’t realize the value of things that we have, specially our tongues. We say things, we make comments and social settings among family and friends and things like that. We completely cross the line sometimes that we don’t realize the magnitude of that problem. And because, Allah (swt) takes good time to mention this particular problem in the Quran, it should make us appreciate that this is not a light matter.

In this regard, there is a reminder from Surah Al-Hujurat, verse number eleven. It is addressed to those who believe, and the first thing Allah (swt) says is that, those of you who believe, don’t let any group among you or any nation, collectivity poke fun at any other group. Don’t be sarcastic against each other. Now, making fun of someone and being sarcastic against someone, especially nowadays, is considered as a sign of intelligence… ‘that guy is really funny!’, ‘ that guy makes a lot of funny jokes!’, or ‘he makes lot of sarcastic remarks that are like a rapid fire, they come out of him one after another!’. And, when people around you laugh at your joke, it’s pretty much an ego boost; so you come up with a next disc or a next sarcastic remark or an inappropriate joke, and you feed off the humour, and you get caught up with it.

Allah (swt) is telling us in this Surah that this is something that can take away the very fabric of brotherhood that we enjoy among each other. Allah (swt) says right before this verse that believers are nothing, but brothers among each other; so make reconciliation among your brothers. And, fear Allah (swt) so you are shown mercy. Be conscious, aware and in awe of Allah (swt) so you may be shown mercy.

The previous verse tells us to make reconciliation among each other, and the very next verse reminds us to watch the way we speak to each other.

The previous verse tells us to make reconciliation among each other, and the very next verse reminds us to watch the way we speak to each other. Don’t be sarcastic with each other. Don’t make insulting comments in the name of humour against each other. It is very casual to say or talk about how short someone is, or how ugly they are, or how they dress, or what kind of car they drive, or what school they go to, or what kind of a job they have. It’s very easy to pick on someone’s flaws and make them the point of ridicule.

An excerpt from a lecture transcript published on – edited and posted by Hiba with permission.

Bring Life to Learning and Learning to Life

education_researchChildren are naturally inventive. They do not need to be told to be creative. Perhaps, they need guidance, motivation and inspiration to boost up their creativity. Research, design and evaluation provide the opportunity to young children to enhance their intellectual learning. The concept of research development is not yet accepted as fundamental to educational change by our educational institutions. Many schools still believe in traditional teaching methodologies. However, educational research culture should be adopted for an improved educational system in our country.

Educational research defined

It is a field of inquiry, the systematic generation of new knowledge, development of new ideas and experimenting with new techniques. Clear and open-minded questions call for real research and thinking and furnish ways for evaluating answers. It aims at advancing knowledge of education and learning processes, while simultaneously developing the human resource.

Teachers’ professional development – a crisis or negative teaching culture?

Teachers’ learning and professional development is not much valued in Pakistan. They are merely trained as classroom teachers. The research-based teacher training culture is hardly seen in Pakistani schools. Research culture has made its way into higher educational institutions but not in schools. School heads and principals expect teachers to teach their students but not lead them. Teachers are required to teach the syllabus prescribed by the school. They are not encouraged to experiment with new innovative approaches of teaching. Anyone, who shares a new idea from a book or design creative activities for students, is criticized. In such schools, positive views of professional learning are counter cultural. Due to negative and unsupportive attitude of the school management, teachers do not bother to take interest in research and are compelled to use the age old traditional teaching methods.  Thus, negative teaching culture has seriously impaired learning skills of teachers.

To respond to these challenges, many educationists face confusion and constraints in their minds as to how can they make schools research oriented.  What goals and strategies should be adopted to create research learning environment in the schools?

 Action research strategy

Today, many schools are using research culture in their schools; however, they are not aware that their teaching methodologies are based on research. The teaching strategy used in classrooms is action research strategy.

Action research involves three forms of research:

  1. Exploratory
  2. Evaluative
  3. Experimental

The teacher uses research element in developing the curriculum, content and activities. To make the classroom climate interactive, teacher uses teaching methods that include group discussion, individual presentation, searching information from the library or internet and creative writing tasks. The research projects introduced in classroom help to explore student’s learning strategy and also strengthen student-teacher relationship.

School – a teacher’s hub

To promote teacher as a researcher and a proactive learner, work place learning such as school is considered as an essential element in enhancing the professional development of teachers. The work place must provide continuous learning opportunities for teachers and encourage them to reflect and practice new ideas or new skills in classroom. Many teachers believe that they learn most effectively from the judgment and perception of their students in the classroom.

Collaborative learning

Another important source of learning for teachers is co-operative learning in which teachers share their new ideas and introduce modern teaching methods to their colleagues.

Some schools are following observation and assessment approach which is also beneficial for enhancing teacher professional development. This includes peer coaching and teacher evaluation which encourage teachers to improve their professional competencies. The teacher, as a person and learner, has to develop skills, qualities and attitudes such as commitment, confidence, flexibility and passion for learning, analytic and conceptual thinking to enhance his professional skills respectively.

Importance of research-based learning

The sole purpose of stimulating educational research in children is to give them an insight of what they learn. The curriculum, modes of instruction, assessments and learning opportunities should be clearly linked with natural environment and developed to cater the needs and interests of the students. The firsthand experience in a child’s education comes from nature. Dienes (1969) suggests that children need to build or construct their own concepts from within rather than having those concepts imposed upon them. This means that children at a very young age are inquisitive about their surroundings and have a desire to explore them. It is the responsibility of teachers to let children explore, think and question. The questions formed in the mind enhance learning and intellectual capabilities of young children.

Let the wind of change blow!

The present scenario implies that in order to bring a cultural change in schools, the teachers, students and communities should collectively work together for a unified goal. Research and development has great significance in shaping developing communities. The first step to raise awareness among teachers and parents to bring a meaningful change in our education system is the collective acceptance of re-thinking schooling. Workshops, seminar and other training sessions provide a platform to teachers and educationists to collectively think about redefining their goals and objectives. Having the same vision in mind, an educational institution organized a seminar which focused on enhancing research culture in schools. The guest speakers in the seminar talked about the significance of research in teaching and learning; and pondered over various reasons that are causing hindrance in increasing research skills among teachers and students.

The focal point of that seminar was to emphasize upon a radical change in education system. The change has been centered to the need for schools to create an environment which is conducive to promoting research skills in teachers and students. We need to provide the learners with a fundamental precept of Islamic education integrated with Islamic Tarbiyah. An eminent Muslim political thinker Al-Mauwardi in his book entitled “The Leadership and Politics” writes that the essential characteristic for a Muslim educator is to have knowledge, perception, intellect, intuition and revelation which enhances research skills in teachers and students. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah said: “To gain knowledge and research in children, an educator must encourage children to be creative, inquisitive and ask questions. Children should remain quiet and listen attentively and understand well. And lastly act upon the knowledge being gained.

The seminar outlined the fact there is a general consensus that schools need to adopt research teaching approaches. But this process of change is still a big challenge for various schools who still believe in unreflective and conventional teaching methods. Radical change in education is impossible unless education leaders critically analyze and understand the goals and objectives of research in educational development. Research element reveals that transmission of knowledge, values and beliefs into classroom practices offers multiple opportunities for students and teachers to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.


Ask the Savvy Parent: Homework Hercules

homeworkMy son is around 5. Getting him to sit down for homework is a Herculean task. Please suggest proactive tips. I want him to love the process of learning, not dread it.

Dear Parent,

I’m surprised that kids as early as 5 years old get homework. Where did the fun go? I could write on end about the issues I have with homework and why, as a teacher for the most part, I dislike it, but let’s stay on the task at hand.

First off, you are not alone in this and it’s important to know and understand that the problem is not with your child. The homework is the problem. Homework is a constant for most children; it is always there. And for many children, it is often a chore. Just the concept of “homework” can cause multiple anxieties and negative feelings. Students may struggle with and/or resist homework for a variety of reasons. These may include any of the following:

  • The child is experiencing some aspect of a learning disability or learning difference.
  • Your child doesn’t understand or have a strong grasp on the knowledge foundation related to what is being asked of him or her.
  • The child lacks or is not using appropriate strategies or tools.
  • Your child is experiencing fatigue, either processing fatigue or general fatigue.

So how can you work around this? How can you turn that chore into a fun challenge?

Here are 7 strategies that can help:


  1. Fun: Bring fun back into learning by finding creative ways to accomplish the task and try to add more hands on components. It’s a known fact that young children respond well to games as motivational aids. Use Mnemonics, poems, games etc. to make it more exciting. Use a timer. It makes the passage of time more concrete for your child. Identify a reasonable time for your child to complete an assignment or section of the assignment. Turn it into a fun game/race. Make home as much of an enjoyable experience as possible
  2. Consistency: Set up a regular schedule and time for homework. For example every day at 5:00 pm. Stick to this schedule even if, on the off day, there isn’t any homework. Use it as ‘study or review time’ instead. The key is consistency.
    If you live in the America, the “10-Minute Rule” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association, which recommends that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders and so forth
  3. Chunking: Sometimes the amount of homework given can be daunting. Break down the homework into smaller, more achievable tasks. If you have to, spread it out during the day.
  4. Incentives: Some children need external motivators to help maintain focus on the task. Let your child know that they will have access to certain privileges when they have completed their homework. For example, you might say, “Once you’ve completed your homework time, you may go watch a TV programme.” Be clear with your child about the consequences for refusing to complete his homework, or for putting his work off until later. Remember, consequences should be short term, and should fit the “crime.” You might say, “If you choose not to finish your homework during the scheduled time, you will not be allowed to play with your Legos. Tomorrow, you’ll get another chance.” The next day, your child gets to try again. Do NOT take away privileges for more than a day; it is unreasonable and unfair and your child will lose any incentive to do better the next time.
  5. Behaviour vs. Motivation: Kids don’t place as much importance on schoolwork as you do. When you focus on their behaviour, not their motivation, you will begin to see some improvement in their homework skills. You can use your child’s motivation to your advantage if they have something they’d like to earn. For example if your child has been asking you for a pet gold fish. “I know you want to get a goldfish. You need to show me you can be responsible and finish your homework before we can talk about getting a pet.” By doing this, you sidestep all the arguments around both the homework and the permit.
  6. Encouragement: This is one of the most important things a parent can do. Provide encouragement frequently throughout the task, helping your child move forward to finish the assignment. For example, “I know this is hard, but I’m sure you can do it with just a little help. Let’s just start with one small part.”
  7. Practicing Skills for Success: Tying homework compliance with your child’s desires isn’t about having your child jump through hoops in order to get something they want. It’s not even about making them take something seriously, when they don’t see it that way or the same way you do. The goal is to help your child learn the skills they need to live life successfully. We all have to do this. We all have occasions where we have to follow a rule, even when we disagree with it. When you create mandatory, daily homework time, you help your child practice these skills. When you tie homework time to daily, practical incentives, you encourage your child to succeed.

Insha’Allah I hope this helps. Happy Parenting!

The Savvy Parent


Concept of Fun

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Concept of FunSome people prefer to shun all forms of enjoyment, labeling them as useless pastimes of this world; others believe that as long as they are observing basic religious rituals, they are free to lead their lives as they wish.

Sparkling lights, bright clothes and the sound of laughter bring to mind a scene of joy and celebration. Mouth-watering food, tasty desserts and singing and dancing complete the picture. However, sadly, in the merriment and gaiety we often forget Allah’s (swt) pleasure and exceed all limits of decency and moderation prescribed by Shariah. Contrary to what most people would think, piety is not the opposite of gaiety; rejoicing does not have to be un-Islamic; and most importantly, you can be a pious Muslim and yet be a source of cheerfulness, liveliness and joy to those around you.

To become such a Muslim, it is imperative to know what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) tell us about celebrating our moments of happiness.

Why do people celebrate?

A look at the festivals throughout the world gives us three major reasons for celebrations. Firstly, many people celebrate the change of seasons – Hindus, for instance, celebrate Holi and Basant at the onset of Spring. Secondly, there are those, who celebrate the birth of gods and goddesses – for example, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia to honour Juno, the guardian of women and marriage. And thirdly, yet others celebrate historical events – for example, former Allied nations celebrate the Armistice Day as a reminder of victory against Germany and the Russian and Ottoman Empires in World War I.

Islamic celebrations, on the other hand, are not pinned down by the changes of seasons, or regional and local events. In fact, the two Islamic festivals (Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha) are not related either to the Prophet’s (sa) life or any important victories in the Islamic history. Instead, these celebrations are deeply-rooted in the message brought to this world by the Prophet (sa). Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated after the month of Ramadan in gratefulness to Allah (swt) for having been able to complete a month of fasting. Eid-ul-Adha marks the Hajj rites and reminds Muslims of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as). Rejoicing on these days becomes an act of worship, for the Prophet (sa) has said: “Indeed, for every nation there is a day of rejoicing, and this is our day of rejoicing.” (Bukhari)

Islam encourages rejoicing

According to a famous saying, “variety is the spice of life.” Therefore, it is but natural that we need some change in our daily lives for feeling refreshed and energized. Since Islam is a Deen that gives us guidelines on leading a natural life, it does not ignore this important aspect of human existence. Far from merely allowing celebration, Islam encourages rejoicing.

Allah (swt) says regarding the revelation of the Quran: “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Quran); – therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Yunus 10:58)

Furthermore, at another point in the Quran, Allah (swt) asks the Prophet (sa) primarily, and the believers on a secondary level to proclaim the blessings that He has bestowed:

“And proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).”

(Ad-Duha 93:11)

Islamic celebrations and recreational activities

Apart from the two Eids, personal and national occasions also serve as permissible reasons to celebrate. Such personal occasions as marriage, the birth of a child, getting a new job, moving to a new house or getting a new car are some occasions for celebration. For young children, the starting of the recitation of the Quran and the completion of its recitation can also be reasons for celebration. Celebrating of such national occasions as the Independence Day also reminds us of the blessings of Allah (swt) granted in the form of an independent land where Islam can be practiced freely.

In a wider context, we find that Islam allows picnics, competitions and meaningful vacations. Prophet Yaqub’s (as) children, for example, went for a picnic, while the Companions of the Prophet (sa) engaged in dueling, camel-racing and archery – the Prophet (sa) even awarded prizes to the winners.

Meaningful vacations are also encouraged: “So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).” (An-Nahl 16:36)

Etiquettes of celebration

Some of the encouraged etiquettes of celebration are exchanging of gifts, singing, reciting of good poetry and indulging in good humour.

Concerning gifts, we know from Aisha (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to accept gifts and gave something in return. (Bukhari) In a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta), we find the Prophet (sa) advising Muslim women: “O Muslim women! None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her female neighbour, even if it were the trotters of the sheep (fleshless part of the legs).” (Bukhari)

From Ahadeeth we know that singing on joyful occasions is also permitted.

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) came to my house, while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (sa) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then, Abu Bakr (rta) came and spoke to me harshly, saying: ‘Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (sa)?’ Allah’s Messenger (sa) turned his face towards him and said: ‘Leave them.’ When Abu Bakr (rta) became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left.” (Bukhari)

Al-Rubayyi Bint Muawwidh reports: “The Prophet (sa) visited me on the night of my wedding, sitting not far from me. We had a number of maids playing the tambourine and singing poems in praise of my people, who were killed in the Battle of Badr. One of them said in her singing: ‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen in future.’ The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not repeat this, but continue with what you were saying earlier.’” (Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawood)

In the Prophet’s (sa) life, we find instances of good fun and humour. For example, we find him being playful with his wives.

Once, Aisha (rta) was talking very boldly with the Prophet (sa). Abu Bakr (rta) happened to come, and he grew so angry at his daughter’s behaviour that he wanted to beat her, but the Prophet (sa) prevented him. After Abu Bakr (rta) had left, he remarked: “See, how I saved you.” (Abu Dawood)

Limits set by Allah (swt)

Rejoicing and fun without limits is very likely to make harmless celebrations a source of worry and burden. Our beautiful Deen gives us guidelines regarding the boundaries that must be kept. Dr. Mahmood Ghazi, former president of the International Islamic University (Islamabad), highlights three major factors that need to be considered when rejoicing: modesty, moderation and keeping in mind the basic objectives of Shariah.


According to Imran Ibn Hussain (rta), the Prophet (sa) highlighted the excellence of modesty: “Haya (modesty, bashfulness, self-respect) does not bring anything except good.” (Bukhari)

Contrary to general understanding, modesty does not merely refer to an outward expression of chastity. Although codes of conduct regarding proper dress and interaction with the opposite gender are important, they are not the be-all and the end-all. Modesty should be entrenched in one’s nature, which is most apparent through body language and conversation. If properly dressed girls are singing lewd songs or dancing in an obscene manner, it cannot be called modest behaviour.

Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated (on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta)) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has written for Adam’s son his share of adultery, which he commits inevitably. The adultery of the eyes is the sight (to gaze at a forbidden thing), the adultery of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes and desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it.” (Bukhari)


Allah (swt) has asked the believers not to be wasteful or extravagant: “O Children of Adam! …eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Spending on permissible acts beyond what is necessary constitutes extravagance, while squandering wealth or any other blessing of Allah (swt) would mean spending on what Allah (swt) has prohibited, even if it means spending only a rupee. In the latter case, one can seek a scholar’s help to understand what is allowed, while in the former situation, one has to decide subjectively, what is necessary and what goes beyond that.

Being mindful of Shariah objectives

While celebrating, we have to consider the five basic objectives of Shariah, namely, the protection of life, wealth, honour, mind/sense and Deen. For instance, if rejoicing results in the loss of innocent lives, delay or abandonment of obligatory acts of worship, then such activities would not be in line with the objectives of Shariah. At the same time, however, cultural traditions that are not based on polytheism, do not result in disunity among the Muslims and do not exceed the limits prescribed by the Shariah are permissible. For instance, in Morocco pigeon’s soup is served at Iftar time during Ramadan, while Iftar in Pakistan would be incomplete without the traditional Pakoras. Such cultural traditions conform to the above guidelines.

We must also remember that as Muslims we have a distinct identity and culture – we must not fall prey to an inferiority complex which results in copycat behaviour. The Prophet (sa) has said: “Whoever imitates a nation (in its ways and culture) becomes one of them.” (Abu Dawood)

Obtaining Allah’s (swt) blessings

Aligning our special occasions of rejoicing with the above principles will make our celebrations not only memorable, but also deserving of Allah’s (swt) blessing and mercy. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom for making our celebrations a source of happiness for all those around us, Ameen.

Socially Constructed Fun

By Naureen Aqueel

What do you see, when you think of fun and entertainment? What images and ideas come into your mind? What feelings do they evoke?

Currently, people would respond to the above questions with descriptions of grand carnivals, huge fiestas, concerts, music, eating out, partying and laughing excessively with friends, hooting, jumping around, dancing and creating a racket.

Welcome to the amazing world of semantics – the branch of linguistics concerned with describing, how we represent meanings of words in our minds and the various connotations associated with words.

Words acquire different meanings and connotations through years of use in different environments, contexts and cultures. Since English is a Western language, its words derive their meanings and connotations from Western culture and worldview. In this present age of globalization and homogenization of cultures, in which Western ideas and practices are dominant, we find that such words get their connotations from Western culture and lifestyles.

If the parameters of what defines a concept vary from time to time and place to place, they cannot be absolute or fixed – they are products of the society they belong to. Concepts can thus be socially constructed, with society attaching only limited meanings or implications to a word.


Today, we see that our conceptions of fun and entertainment are increasingly restricted to a few ideas. It is paradoxical that although fun or enjoyment is more of an intrinsic phenomenon, we attach it to extrinsic things, making it dependent on the presence of external forces or situations that are becoming rather uniform for most people.

Enjoyment is largely a context dependent on relational phenomenon, where whether or not we enjoy something depends on the context and the relationship between ongoing activities and states of mind. Ideas of fun and entertainment may thus vary from person to person, as they do from culture to culture.

However, today we see a homogenization of such concepts across nations and cultures, with the above mentioned ideas becoming the popular notions of fun, thanks to the ever-powerful media that has successfully ‘manufactured’ this concept by bombarding us with such images of fun and entertainment as parties, concerts, music and mad indulgences of desires. And in all this, one subtle idea flashes from the backdrop: the desire to have no limits.

Are such activities really enjoyable? Do people really feel satisfied after them? Or is there still an empty feeling that remains even after all the ‘fun’ they planned is over? Those, who have made the transition from a state of complete ignorance about Allah (swt) and His Deen to the other side, will vouch for the truth of this.

Compare this to the way the Prophet (sa) used to have fun. He would joke, race and play with his wives; he would joke and play with his companions. He enjoyed wedding parties and encouraged Valima feasts. However, he never forgot his limits or harmed anyone. Even when having fun, he never lost sight of his purpose.

Today, Shaitan has made many immoral acts alluring to us by giving them the innocent label of ‘fun.’ Allah (swt) describes this in the Quran: “…but Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” (An-Nahl 16:63)

May Allah (swt) protect us from being fooled by Shaitan and from getting lost in the life of this world, and may He make us live and enjoy our lives the way our Prophet (sa) used to do. Ameen.

Having Fun with your Kids

“You can’t do this”, “this is Haram”, “this is not allowed” are often what we say, when our kids want to have fun. Instead of always saying no, provide them with Halaal alternatives. There are many ways to have fun, while staying within the boundaries of our Deen.

Not every fun activity needs to include dance, music, lots of money or copying of another faith. Allah (swt) doesn’t expect us to spend our entire life on the prayer mat, secluded from the world. We have to practice our Deen, while living in this Duniya. However, Allah (swt) has set limits for our own good. Joking is allowed in Islam, but it should not include lying as in April’s Fools Day, frightening as in Halloween or insulting someone’s feelings.

Religions before the advent of Islam mentioned the things that were allowed. However, since Islam is the final religion, only the few things that are prohibited are listed. For instance: out of all drinks, alcohol is prohibited – this shows that all the other drinks are Halaal. There is more of what we can do than we cannot.

Celebrate Eid big time

The Prophet (sa) encouraged celebrations on such occasions as Eid or marriage. For instance, when Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) tried to stop two young girls from singing in the Prophet’s house, the Prophet (sa) told him: ‘Let it be, for we are now in the feast.’

While both Eids are celebrations for the whole family, special attention needs to be given to children. Throw for them an Eid party, buy gifts, give Eidi, take them to places, where they want to go, and make their holiday so special that they would not feel deprived at any other time of the year.

Instead, parents are often too busy on Eid to have quality time with their kids. They buy them new clothes and sort of stop there. Parents drag them all day for visiting people, where there is nothing planned for kids. Parents are busy with the Qurbani or entertaining the visitors, while children are plopped in front of the TV – even on Eid! Take kids shopping before Ramadan, so that they can pick something they like. Get surprise gifts as well. Help them buy or make gifts for their friends, instead of exchanging gifts on birthdays. Cook or buy their favourite foods and treats.

Fun with the family

Fun doesn’t have to start and end on Eid. The family unit is an integral part of the Islamic culture. Those, who find peace with their families in their homes, are very blessed. While there should be times to meet others, socializing should not rule your lives. By staying at home, hopefully you get the opportunity to get down on the carpet, open up a board game and challenge your family to some good, clean fun.

Use the Internet to your advantage. Visit such websites as which have easy craft projects and other family oriented ideas that you can replicate or adapt to your situation. Keep paper, glue, scissors and other art supplies in stock, so you are always ready to whip up a card for a new baby or to wish someone a speedy recovery. Encourage each child to have a hobby, so that they can channel their talents into something creative. Stamp collecting, knitting, painting, sports … the possibilities are endless.

Treasure hunt

Put a fun twist on anything to transform the mundane into fun. Give your child a gift after completing a Juz, memorizing a Surah or getting good grades. Hide the gift and put clues all over the house. “Look in a cold place” will take him to the freezer, while “Look in a wet place” may take him to the shower … and all around the house to find his treasure.

Family board game night

Try to squeeze in a short game every night, so that your day ends on a happy note. If daily is impossible, plan family game night for the weekend. You can play such classics as “Scrabble” and “Quran challenge Game” or try a new game. Invite younger siblings to join in, as they can learn how to take turns, count pieces, sort money and so on. If time is an issue, decide on a time limit and total scores after one hour. It really doesn’t matter who wins; when you spend an hour as a family – everyone is a winner.

Use what you have

Spending time with the family does not have to involve spending tons of money. Having dinner in the lawn can be a fun, impromptu picnic experience. Playing dress up with grandma’s old Saris is a great way to spend an afternoon. Recycling tissue rolls into binoculars and bowling with empty plastic soft drink bottles are just a few ideas. Kids don’t care, how much money was spent on an activity. They value the time their parents spend with them using their imaginations.

Encourage hand made gifts and cards

Model how you can knit a sweater for a new baby or make a card with glitter glue for a niece and ask your kids to do the same. Appreciate it, when they make gifts for you out of stuff they already have. Allah (swt) has gifted us all in one way or the other – one may be an artist, the other a wordsmith, the third a sportsman and so on. Expose your children to a variety of interests, so you can see where they shine.

Kid-friendly home

Don’t have such exclusive furniture, white carpets and one-of-a-kind decorative pieces that kids aren’t allowed to enjoy their own home. Section off a formal area at most, but let the kids enjoy their home for the most part. Set up an art station in the kitchen (for easy clean-ups), supply them with paint, glitter, clay and glue and see, what their imagination cooks up.

Host parties for your kids, without it having to be an occasion. Plan activities, so that you can keep an eye on them and evaluate the kind of company your children are keeping. Having a bake sale with proceeds going to the Masjid can be a fun way for teenage girls to make brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Put a basketball hoop in your garden and see, how the neighborhood boys come running.

If your household responsibilities are overwhelming, encourage your kids to join you. You may think it’s boring, but give a toddler a ball of Aata (dough) and see what happens. Older kids can build on their math skills by helping you measure ingredients and learn about food groups and healthy eating. Younger kids can sort laundry and find matching socks – anything can be a bonding and learning experience – provided YOU want it to be.

If your extended family is known for their New Year’s Eve party, start your own tradition of an Eid party for kids. If we go with the flow, our children will do the same. If we stop and take initiative for them to be nurtured in all walks of life, then we can hope that Allah (swt) will be pleased with our efforts to instill values in the mini-Muslims entrusted to us.

You do not need a university degree or a lucrative career for being creative with your kids. You only need the will – and everything will fall into place. If there is one thing you want to take from this article, it should be to press the pause button in your life, get down on the floor and play with your children today – you’ll be glad you did!

The Fun Years

Vol 5 - Issue 1  The Fun YearsTeenagers are funny creatures! And I don’t mean it humorously.

They find everything funny. You have more chance of finding teenage girls giggling than you do of finding middle-aged or even 25-plus-women chortling and guffawing. That’s why when one hears the word ‘giggle’ adolescents come to mind. Under this broad generalization, I can safely say that most of us suffered the same insanity during our teens. From the same bouts of inexplicable laughing fits to goose-bumps for things as minor as favorite brands of chocolate spotted among gifts.

Psychology says it’s healthy. Teenagers should be allowed to express their feelings and indulge in recreational pastimes. But living in the world of recreation has a variety of meanings – from favorite cartoons to favorite drugs … the choices aren’t really that simple any more.

The biggest dilemma of a Muslim teenager is the confusion (a separate dilemma from identity crises) between what is fun and what isn’t. What jokes to laugh at, what movies to enjoy, what books to read, what people to hang out with, what fashion is acceptable, what ideas are reasonable, so on and so forth. This is the very point, where Muslims need to remember that while Islam does not want people to forget the hereafter, it also does not wish to suck the marrow out of life. A Hadeeth states: “Don’t consider anything insignificant out of good things, even if it is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance.” (Reported by Abu Dharr and recorded by Imam Muslim)

Ideally, Muslims are known for their dignity. However, most people tend to misinterpret what we mean by that. I’ve seen parents look disapprovingly at their children, if they laugh too much. A loud guffaw or maybe a painful jibe at someone else is where you may want to draw the line – but stopping teenagers from laughing altogether? That’s something that won’t end well. Parents need to seek this balance, while rearing their kids.

On the other side of the fence, the teenage Muslim can sometimes undergo shame and self-doubt, while mingling with the ‘it’ crowd. This can result in either of the two: they turn into loners … or become over-serious about everything. Either way, it’s not a fun way to spend one’s teenage years. Teens need to find themselves in the concoction of mixed norms and the melting pot that we call ‘culture’ today.

Teenagers follow norms. They follow peers. This was the most interesting conclusion I drew from all the havoc that came into my life, due to the excessive confusion between the ‘good fun’ and the ‘bad fun.’ Psychological studies of adolescents prove that teenagers have a stronger tendency to listen to their peers than to their parents. And once a peer group becomes strong, its sense of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ develops. It does not follow particular ideas of good and bad – rather, what is ‘cool’ or ‘un-cool.’ This revelation struck me as revolutionary. It meant that if I was being penalized in one group for not wanting to have fun ‘their way,’ I could just as easily be accepted in another peer group – if they shared my opinions. That choice proved to be such a breakthrough that I ended up starting my own group. I ended up becoming my own voice, instead of representing the prevalent teen culture.

If no one likes your way of having fun, find someone who does. Start your own norms. Be your own person. Because, after all is said and done, that is what being a teenager and a Muslim is all about.

Mini-Garden in the City

Vol 1-Issue 2  Mini-GardenMany city dwellers would be familiar with this sentiment due to lack of experience in gardening, shortage of space for starting a garden, or simply because of not enough time or money for making such a major effort. Well, there is good news for you out there! Micro-gardening is the answer to your dreams.

What is micro-gardening? Maggie Heeger, a micro-gardening enthusiast from Alabama, defines it as “growing your own plants-food or flowers-in containers rather than in a plot of ground”. It is as simple as that! You can make your micro-garden as big or small as you wish with no major investments and no exhausting time commitments., offers three easy steps for getting started:

1- Making or finding the right containers

Containers should be able to hold enough (1) growing mixture and (2) water for the plants and should have (3) good drainage. You can use barrels, baskets, concrete urns, crocks and glazed ceramic pots, plastic pots, sacks, tires, tubs, wheel barrows, wire baskets, wooden boxes (caution-susceptible to rot). The size of the container must meet the requirements of the veggies you intend to plant.

Generally, containers for vegetables need to be between 15 and 120 qt. capacity (15 qt. = 866 cubic inches or a 12″x 12″x 6″ high container; 120 qt. = 6930 cubic inches or a 24″x 24″x 12″ high or 20″x 20″x 18″ high container).

2- Preparing Growing Mixture

The happiness, health, and successful growth of your veggies will greatly depend on planting them into a good growing mixture. “Soils for containers need to have three key elements. They must be well drained, have good aeration (pore spaces for air), and retain enough water to maintain good growth”.

The easiest way to go is to buy ready-made container mixes. A wide variety of selections are available in the market; however, the ones to look out for are those referred to as ‘soilless’ mixes or synthetic soils, as they are “best suited for vegetable container gardening”. Note, however, that the soilless mixes require you to make some extra effort on watering and fertilizing your veggies.

If you wish to have a mixture that does have a part of soil in it, then “mix together one part good garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse builders sand” (Soil Mixes). This 1:1:1 combination is more forgiving regarding watering and fertilizing.

Now, it is time to get down to planting. As you fill your containers with the growing mixture, make sure to leave about one inch from the top for the needs of water. Also, just before planting your veggies, wet the growing mixture thoroughly.

3- Choosing Vegetables

 It might be surprising to find out that just about any vegetable is suitable for growing in a container. The ideal ones are those with a quick maturing period. Some suitable ones are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, leaf lettuce, green onions, green beans, radishes, parsley, and cucumbers.

Before selecting the place for bigger size fixed containers, you should note that most vegetables would need quite a long stretch of sunlight-at least 6 hours per day. If you intend to plant tomatoes or cucumbers, you should count on up to 8 hours of required sunlight. In this case, a good idea would be smaller and more mobile containers, which you would be able to move along with the sun during the day. On the other hand, root crops, such as beets and carrots, are easier to please-they will do well with only 4 to 5 hours of sunlight. Cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables are the most modest in their requirements-they can tolerate the most shade.

Container Tips

  • Avoid containers with narrow openings.
  • Adequate drainage holes should be ½ inch.
  • Cover the drainage holes with chards (broken pot pieces), screen material, or 2 to 4 layers of newspaper to keep the plant material from seeping out but still allow adequate drainage.
  • Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.
  • Light-colored containers lessen heat absorption in hot climates and discourage uneven root growth.
  • Keep baskets away from the afternoon sun.
  • Metal or thin plastic containers may allow the sun to heat up the plant mixture. If you use these consider putting or setting something around the pot to block direct sunlight”


Planting together companion vegetables can significantly increase your harvest

Vegetables Companions Enemies
1. Beans Celery, cucumbers Onions, fennel
2. Beets Bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage Pole beans, mustard
3. Cabbage Celery, dill, onions, potatoes Strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
4. Carrots Leaf lettuce, radish, onions, tomatoes Dill
5. Corn Pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, potatoes Tomatoes
6. Cucumbers Corn, peas, radishes, beans, sunflowers Aromatic herbs, potatoes
7. Lettuce Onions, strawberries, carrots, radishes, cucumbers
8. Onions Lettuce, beets, strawberries, tomatoes Peas, beans
9. Peas Carrots, cucumbers, corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, aromatic herbs Onions, garlic, leek, shallots
10. Radishes Beets, carrots, spinach, parsnips, cucumbers, beans Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips
11.Squash Icicle radishes, cucumbers, corn
12.Tomatoes Carrots, onions, parsley Cabbage, cauliflower