Top three lessons in Surah Al-Fatihah

fatihaSurah Al-Fatihah, also known as the opening of the Quran- is a short Surah, and yet so important that a prayer without it is deemed invalid. Even in this short Surah of seven verses, some important lessons have been highlighted. Below are the top three lessons that can be obtained from this first Surah of the Quran.

Lesson 1: An Introduction to the Rabb

Following are the verses 1-6 of Surah Al-Fatihah

1. In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

2. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). 

3. The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

4. The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)

5. You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).

In the first two verses, Allah (swt) gives an introduction about Himself. When one reads this Surah, he acknowledges Allah’s (swt) infinite mercy; and then, praises Him by recognizing that He, Allah (swt) is the universal Master- the Master of the whole world. He has not just created everything in it, but He continues to provide His creation in order to attain a meaningful life. He has not abandoned His creation without any intervention. Over all His creation, he is an ever- living authority.

In the third verse, two attributes of Allah (swt) are mentioned. These two attributes encompass all the aspects of compassion and mercy between Allah (swt) and His servants. Therefore, a servant must never be hopeless about Allah’s (swt) mercy and should always turn to Allah (swt) for help and repentance.

In the fourth verse, a very fundamental principle is mentioned based on which our lives are significantly influenced i.e. belief in the Hereafter. This gives man the hope that if he is weak on earth and is suppressed by people, he will be given justice and the suppressor too will be punished because of his oppression. Based on this belief, one restrains himself from doing evil acts. He performs righteous acts hoping for its reward from Allah (swt).

In the next verse, man accepts that he has submitted to Allah (swt). He worships Him alone without associating any partner with Him; and when he needs any help, he turns to Allah (swt) for it. Turning to Allah (swt) for help protects the man from facing the abuse, and a feeling of dependency that he could face if he turns to people begging for help. Allah (swt) has the power over everything; hence a man must turn to Him for assistance.

Lesson 2: Asking for the Straight Path

Guide us to the Straight Way.” (Al-Fatihah 1:6)

In this verse, one asks Allah (swt) for His guidance towards the straight path. A person cannot be guided- unless Allah (swt) wills; and no one can be led astray- unless Allah (swt) wills.

Nawwas bin Sam’an Al-Kilabi said:”I heard the Messenger of Allah (swt) say: ‘There is no heart that is not between two of the fingers of the Most Merciful. If He wills, He guides it and if He wills, He sends it astray.’ The Messenger of Allah (swt) used to say: ‘O You Who makes hearts steadfast make our hearts steadfast in adhering to Your religion.’ And he said: ‘The scale is in the Hand of the Most Merciful; He will cause some people to rise and others to fall until the day of Resurrection.'” (Ibn Majah; authentic)

The guided person finds happiness and contentment is this world, as well as, in the Hereafter. He has a broader vision as he believes that his life is not limited to this world, but another life awaits him.

Lesson 3: The path of the righteous people

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” (Al-Fatihah 1:7)

In the last part of this Surah, one pleads Allah (swt) to help him follow the path which the righteous people followed- the path which led them to ultimate success and salvation, the path with which they attained the pleasure of Allah (swt). Just after that, one also asks Allah (swt) to protect him from following the way of those who attained the wrath of Allah (swt), and those who were misguided.

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the straight path and make us among those whom He loves. May Allah (swt) protect us from the evil whispers of Shaytan, and give us the strength and courage to hold n to the principles of Islam firmly. Ameen.

Lessons in Faith from Hawa Bint Yazid (ra)

originalShe was the daughter of Yazid ibn Sakan and Aqrab bint Muath. Saad ibn Muath (ra), a close companion of the Prophet (sa) was her maternal uncle. Her husband was Qais ibn Khateem.

Concern for Husband’s Activities

Hawa bint Yazid (ra) is among those forerunners who embraced Islam in its early days. While the Prophet (sa) was still in Makkah, she embraced Islam in Madinah. Her husband’s poetry worried Hawa (ra). Each time that she read: “As for the poets, the erring ones follow them. See you not that they speak about every subject (praising people – right or wrong) in their poetry.” (Ash-Shuara 26: 224-225), she asked Allah (swt) for his guidance. She wanted to share her spiritual feelings and thoughts with her spouse. She prayed that Allah (swt) might guide him just as He had guided her.

She admired the companions of the Prophet (sa), and wondered why her husband could not be like them. There were Hasaan ibn Thabith (ra) and Abdullah ibn Rawahah (ra) who were near to the Prophet (sa) because of their praiseworthy poetry. They promoted Islam with their compositions. Her husband’s vulgar poetry would upset her; he had no share in the defence and promotion of Islam. He spent his life in play and amusement. He preferred misguidance over guidance.

Her husband’s vulgar poetry would upset her; he had no share in the defence and promotion of Islam. He spent his life in play and amusement

Lessons to draw: There are some poets like Allama Muhammad Iqbal who used their power of pen for noble cause. This poet of the East was blessed by Allah (swt) with immense wisdom and reverence for his Creator. He acknowledged the true reality of this life and our insignificant position before Allah (swt). He knew we were not created purposelessly. We have a highly important role to play. He raised voice for the weak and oppressed. His poetry awakened the dead souls. Then there are those kinds of poets who do not give much thought to what they are composing. They only want poetry to be pleasing to the ears. In doing so, they might even commit Shirk (association of partners with Allah (swt) and invite people to do Haram (impermissible acts)). A writer or a poet must be really careful about where he is putting his energy, and what his pen is promoting. May we be a source of goodness for ourselves, our families and others, and neither choose Haram for ourselves nor call others to it, Ameen.

Love for the chosen religion

Like other early Muslims, Hawa (ra) concealed her conversion. She feared unkind treatment from her husband. Her story is similar to that of Aasiya (as), the wife of Pharaoh. Hawa (ra) gave precedence to her faith over everything else. She became fearless. She desired dying upon the true religion than dying upon idolatry.

While she tried her best to conceal her faith from her husband, she could not do so for long. One cannot hide his acts of worship from the people that they live with. They can drop in at the time for prayer and see the Muslim member praying a prayer different from theirs. The family may be seated for meal and the Muslim member does not eat anything because he is fasting. Same happened with Hawa (ra). One day her husband saw her praying. Then he saw her reading something on a leather and date skin. She was reciting words that he had never heard before. He found it strange.

Her story is similar to that of Aasiya (as), the wife of Pharaoh. Hawa (ra) gave precedence to her faith over everything else. She became fearless.

When Qais understood what Hawa (ra) was reciting was the Quran, his ego was invoked that his woman embraced Islam without his permission! Recall what Pharaoh said to the magicians when they said, “So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: We believe in the Lord of Harun (Aaron) and Musa (Moses).”

“[Fir’aun (Pharaoh)] said: “Believe you in him [Musa (Moses)] before I give you permission?” (Ta-Ha 20: 70-71). A person who has tasted faith does not wait for someone’s permission. They follow their heart and submit before Allah (swt).

Qais did not wait for his wife to complete her prayer. While she was prostrating, he raised her up and threw her on the floor. He then laughed callously, feeling no remorse. The same act was repeated the next day too. Hawa (ra) remained patient. She could do nothing in her defence than weep and ask Allah (swt) for help. She prayed for her freedom and delightful moments. She prayed for strength to overpower her heartless husband.

When she was tested, she placed her complaint before her Lord, not the people. She only relied on Him.

Her husband continued his torture and mistreatment. He was distant from the Creator. His heart was void of any fear or moral values.  But what happens when one truly relies upon his Creator’s bounty and grace? He paves the way for them. Qais’s torture towards his wife became the talk of the town. Every house and tongue was talking about his cruel behaviour. Escaping the bounds of Madinah, the news soon reached Makkah – to the Prophet (sa).

Lessons to draw: Often when we begin practicing Islam, we label everyone else misguided. We call them to Islam in a condescending way. The young girl who does not wear Hijab is told she is from the people of hellfire. Hawa (ra) was married to a tyrant. While she desired his guidance, she was not even once disrespectful to him. When she was tested, she placed her complaint before her Lord, not the people. She only relied on Him. And He made the way for her.  Many times when we are tested, we only cry, but do not invoke Allah (swt) for help and ease. We should take our complaints to the most Powerful.

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

[Revert Story] Guided by Recitation

quran-2The stories of reverts to Islam are always full of inspiration. But not only that, whenever I hear a story, I unwillingly find myself thinking about the ways Allah (swt) uses people to guide others to Islam. I think of it, because my own reversion to Islam was influenced by numerous people, who might not even have the slightest idea they had anything to do with it. They were instruments in the hands of Almighty, without being aware of it.

As we were sitting and listening to the reading of Ahadeeth in a revert Muslims Halaqah, a young and fragile looking girl entered to join our circle. She quietly sat down along with us to benefit from the reading. Later we found out that she had come, because she was ready to take her Shahadah, which she did, Alhamdulillah. I was curious to hear her story, as finding Islam in a country, where Muslims constitute barely 1% of the population, is a miracle in itself. Her story proved to be an amazing illustration of the beautiful ways Allah (swt) can guide people.

This girl had become a student at a local university and was living in student housing. Shortly after moving into her room, she noticed that in early mornings a beautiful sound of recitation was coming from behind one of her room walls. The recitation was so beautiful that day after day she kept wondering what it was. Finally, she mastered enough courage to go and see, who the reciter was. It turned out to be an international student from some Muslim country, who in early morning hours was doing his Quran reading. Subhan’Allah! She got to know the young man and learned about Islam from him, which later led to her reversion to Islam. Just imagine – even recitation of the Quran in solitude of your own room may become a guiding light on someone’s way to Islam!

my own reversion to Islam was influenced by numerous people, who might not even have the slightest idea they had anything to do with it.

We never know how Allah (swt) chooses to use us in opening the hearts of people. I was inspired by several strong and confident Muslims, who were not afraid to speak their mind, even if at the time I felt they challenged me to the edge. I thank the Muslim student from Africa, who had enough courage to tell me that he would never ever for anything in the world leave Islam. Even though his boldness took me aback, I kept on thinking about the strength of his faith. I thank the ladies of a Pakistani family, who answered my questions about women in Islam in a matter of fact manner, impressing me by their confidence in their lifestyle. I thank my friend from Yemen, who challenged my beliefs about trinity in Christianity. And I thank the Australian revert sister, who in our first and only meeting boldly invited me to accept Islam with deep belief in her heart that this is the best thing that can ever happen to me. It didn’t happen on that day. But it did happen eight months later, Alhamdulillah.

My message to my Muslim brothers and sisters – do not be afraid to talk about your faith. Take pride in being Muslims and be confident about it. You may become that one much needed building brick on the way to somebody’s Shahadah!

[Hadeeth Commentary] Reliance on Allah (swt) for guidance and Forbiddance of Oppression

Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali

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It was related on the authority of Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari that the Prophet (sa) said, of what he related from his Lord, the Magnified and the Exalted be He, Who said:

“O My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you. So do not commit oppression against one another. O My servants, all of you are liable to err except for those, whom I guide on the right path, therefore seek guidance from Me so that I should direct you to the right path. O My servants, all of you are hungry (needy) except for those whom I feed; therefore seek food from Me so that I may feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked (need clothes) except for those whom I provide garments, therefore seek clothing from Me so that I should clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day and I am there to pardon your sins, therefore seek forgiveness from Me so that I should grant you pardon. O My servants, you can neither do Me any harm nor can you do Me any good. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns become as pious as the most pious heart of any one amongst you, it will not add anything to My Power or Kingdom. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns become as wicked as the most wicked heart of anyone amongst you, it will not decrease anything from My Power or Kingdom. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns gather together on a sector of land and all ask of Me and if I were to give every one of them what they asked for, that will not in any way decrease what I have any more than a needle decreases what is in the ocean when it is put into it. O My servants, these deeds of yours which I am recording for you I shall reward you for them, so he who finds good should praise Allah and he who finds other than that should not blame anyone but himself.” (Muslim)

This Hadeeth is a ‘Hadeeth Qudsee’, meaning a Hadeeth where the Prophet (sa) relates what Allah (swt) has said, His actual words. This Hadeeth demonstrates our relationship with Allah (swt) and teaches us to rely exclusively on Him for all our needs. Allah (swt) informs us of His attributes; Merciful, Forgiving, Powerful and Compassionate, compared to human beings, who are needy and weak. We need Allah’s (swt) Guidance and His help in all aspects of our lives. We are told categorically that no form of oppression or injustice will be tolerated in Islam.

Unlawful Oppression

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Allah (swt) – the Light of Guidance

Allah (swt) is the originator of all guidance, be it from a book, a lecture, a person or an article. We as individuals are incapable of providing guidance unless Allah (swt) wills. We may attempt to show people the right path, but the true guidance comes from Allah (swt) alone. Guidance is a great mercy and blessing from Allah (swt). This guidance, in the form of the Quran, was revealed to us by Allah (swt) through His Messenger, Muhammad (sa). Allah (swt) showed us the right path to follow and warned us against Shaitan, who is our greatest enemy. Reciting Surah Al-Fatiha in every Rakah reminds us of our extreme need for our Lord’s Guidance and Support. (An-Nawawi)

Types of guidance:

  • Hidayat Al-Bayan – guidance related to the knowledge. Allah (swt) never forsakes us; He will bring us some means to guide us, guidance to know Allah (swt) and His attributes. Allah (swt) will never forsake us or leave us without showing us Who we need to worship. When Allah (swt) provides people guidance, not all will accept it. Allah (swt) offers guidance through different means but it will be your choice and free will to accept, reject or think about it. Some people know this is guidance from Allah (swt) and they accept it and Allah (swt) increases their level of guidance. If we accept, appreciate and act upon it; Allah (swt) gives us more and makes it easy for us to follow.
  • Hidayat Al-Tawfeeq – the guidance to do. The guidance will not just be in your heart. For example, someone is always angry and she needs guidance to become a calm person. She will listen to a lecture about patience and see examples of people who are angry and how they deal with it. She will realize and then change. Hence Allah (swt) will change her heart. Allah (swt) will give her the Hidayat Al-Tawfeeq so that in the most stressful situations she will not get angry.

Don’t be unjust towards Allah (swt) by seeking guidance from a slave just like us. Maybe that way of guidance will turn you away from the truth. With Allah (swt) it is always different than what you expect. You think something, and Allah (swt) does it differently; contrary to what you thought. Guidance resembles light and misguidance resembles darkness.

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Allah (swt) is Ever-Forgiving

Repentance is a tool Allah (swt) has provided us with, in case we slip. Islam recognizes that humans have weaknesses and will occasionally do wrong. We may neglect/postpone our obligations or indulge in sins, but Allah (swt) reminds us He is Forgiving.

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Allah (swt) is the Provider

Allah (swt) provides us with all our material needs: food, clothing, shelter etc… You need Allah (swt) to clothe you even if your wardrobe is full. Allah (swt) loves that His creation has a connection with Him all the time; we must ask with humility and Allah (swt) will increase our sustenance for us.

Allah’s (swt) Treasures and Bounties are Endless

Allah’s (swt) resources will not be reduced by the least in giving us what we ask for. The Hadeeth shows Allah’s (swt) generosity. Allah (swt) gives His servants a lot of bounties and favours. The more they ask Him, the more He gives. He wants us to ask Him more and seek His help and support. This is different from human beings because humans do not like to be asked frequently. The more you ask a human, the more he hates you and eventually turns away from you. He wants us to come closer to Him and show Him our needs and humbleness. (An-Nawawi) Allah (swt) protects you from harm and Allah (swt) benefits you. So you rely on Allah (swt) exclusively. If you make rules and everyone follows your rules; you will benefit. If people do not follow your rules; you will despair. Allah (swt) created us not because He needs us, but because of (wisdom) Hikmah. Allah (swt) created us and we benefit from having been created. Allah (swt) does not need His creation to worship Him.

Allah (swt) is the Most Rich (Al-Ghani)

If you don’t worship Allah (swt), He can create a billion other people to worship Him. Life does not stop because of one person. Everyone being pious will not add anything to Allah (swt). If you do good, it is good for you and nobody else.

  • Allah (swt) does not need anybody.
  • Allah (swt) does not need anybody to worship Him.
  • We need Taqwa; Allah (swt) does not need our Taqwa, we need to become Muttaqeen.
  • We need to obey Allah (swt); Allah (swt) does not need our obedience.
  • We need to be close to Allah (swt); Allah (swt) does not need us to be close to Him.
  • We need to be humble; Allah (swt) does not need our submission.
  • Nobody can harm Allah (swt); nobody can benefit Allah (swt).
  • Nothing can increase Allah (swt) in His dominion, nothing can decrease His dominion.

Do not worship or follow Allah’s (swt) commands as if you are doing Allah (swt) a favour. Allah (swt) enriches all creation. An example of a parable is given – except what is decreased from the ocean when a needle is dipped into it. Imagine you put a needle in the sea, it would have no effect, and it would not decrease anything in Allah’s (swt) dominion or treasure. Whatever Allah (swt) gives, it does not affect Allah (swt); our actions do not affect Allah (swt), He is our Rabb, and nobody is like Him.

Accountability on the Day of Judgment

At the end of the Hadeeth, it is mentioned and stressed that everyone will be accountable for their deeds. Whoever finds a good record; should be thankful to Allah (swt) and praise Him for that. Those who find other than that should not blame anyone except themselves. This is a clear statement that shows the personal responsibility we have for our actions (An-Nawawi). When your time in this world comes to an end, then the accountability starts. At the time of death, you can see the result. What you see at the time of death is preparation of what is to come. If you did well, you will be among the successful ones. And if you did not do well, you will be in trouble. Your actions are your responsibility.

Conclusion

The lesson we take is that when we express our needs to Allah (swt), it must be with humility for Allah (swt) is the only One who can guide us and forgive us. We must repent when we err. Thus gaining the pleasure of Allah (swt) should be our major goal in this world.

The Ignored Relationship

AS_114Dear Muslim

Every day, I see you picking up your books from the bookshelf and reading them with great attention. You keep reading textbooks and story books for hours and hours, and you don’t realize that someone, who is more deserving of your time, is near you. Every time you come near the shelf, I hope you would ignore others and give me some time. But you pass away, ignoring me. The love and affection I deserve is being poured by you upon strangers.

One day, when you will need them the most, they won’t be there for you. They won’t pay heed to your cries. All those for whom you neglected me will forget you one day. They are strangers. I am yours. I am here to provide solutions to every problem you face. I won’t turn away from you. I am the only one on earth, who would accompany you in your grave and protect you from hellfire. I will tell you how to achieve real success in both the worlds. I will heal your heart whenever you feel depressed and oppressed. All I want from you is to pay some heed to my words. Come to me, and re-establish that very old and true relationship. Insha’Allah, you will be the happiest person on the earth.

 Only yours,

 The Quran

My Life – Story of a Revert Muslimah

islam__beautiful_saings_1_by_strugaartdollo-d494gfnDaiga, a convert Muslim and a mother of five, lives in Latvia, a tiny Eastern-European country. There are no other Muslims in her hometown, except her. Her unusual ‘virtual’ conversion story and her full of determination new life in Islam are truly manifestations of the most amazing ways Allah (swt) can guide people towards Islam.     

 (1) What was your experience with religion before you encountered Islam?

Being a Catholic by birth, up till thirty years of age, I truly believed in Catholicism – it was not just a formality. I attended church together with my grandmother and mother and deeply believed in the values Catholicism stood for.

(2) What was it that turned you towards Islam?

It is difficult to pinpoint the very first influences. Around thirty years of age, due to several reasons, I was going through a crisis of personal values. The deceitfulness of Catholicism had extinguished in me the faith in the values I had believed in, and I found myself in some sort of a religious vacuum. I never lost faith in God. I am talking only about the form of religion – about the fall of Catholicism as a religion in my eyes and my heart. Essentially, it was due to the gap between what was preached in church and what was happening in the real life – both in the doctrines of the church and in the lives of the people around me. I was especially deeply affected by some of my mother’s beliefs – this was, most probably, among the strongest reasons that pushed me out of Catholicism.

My first meaningful encounter with Islam (before that it was only curiosity) came through online talks with a Muslim man from Morocco. I had never before met anyone so frank, sincere and clean. It was a great surprise that in today’s world there could be someone so sincere in intentions and thoughts. This made me interested in the reasons that let people keep their thinking and attitude towards life so pure. It was Islam.

(3) Can you describe the time, when you were moving towards Islam? Which angles of Islam influenced you the most and why?

It was not an easy time for me. After years of discords in family life, which ended with a divorce, I felt confused about my feelings and emotions. I had reached the critical point of needing stability – something, which would be permanent and profound. Since my faith in church was lost and the advice of my mother went against my convictions, I needed something to believe in. In Islam I saw what I had been missing – invariable and unchangeable values, stability, peace.

(4) What was the final drop towards accepting Islam?

In a sense, it was like a revelation. At some point, I got the feeling that, yes, this is what really matters. God is One, and things happen with me only by His mercy. Only the trust onto the One gives meaning to my life. When I internally accepted that Islam is what I have been missing, I felt complete happiness. I can say that I know and can describe what happiness is.

(5) How, where and to whom you said your Shahadah?

My Shahada, just like my second marriage, which followed after it, are virtual. I said my Shahadah over the Internet through Skype to my Muslim friend in Morocco and his friend.

(6) How did you begin practicing Islam?

I began practicing Islam right after my Shahadah. I was convinced that if I am a Muslim, then I have to do everything the right way. Initially, before memorizing the text, I was reading my Salah from paper and learned the recitation through computer softwares. I stopped wearing skirts above my ankles. In about a week, I accustomed my work colleagues to the idea that I will be wearing Hijab. On the first day, I came to work with a small scarf covering just my forehead and ears. After a couple days, I put on a small Hijab, which covered my entire head and was tied behind my neck. After a few more days, I was putting on Hijab properly – so that only my face could be seen. I had to start buying my clothes in second-hand store, because only there I found long enough skirts and blouses that were loose fitting and long.

(7) What was the reaction from your family like? And what about your work-place and hometown?

At work I was accepted almost without any comments. When I came in Hijab, somebody asked, if I would be coming now like this always, and I answered – yes. I think colleagues talked about it behind my back, but nobody said anything in front of me. However, they still cannot understand why I refuse to participate in company outings.

Children accepted me. May be because they did not really have a choice. I am the only one, who takes care of them, so they try to respect me. Time to time, I do hear rebukes from my eight-year-old son. He feels hurt that his mom is not like other moms. May be at school somebody has said something or laughed about him.

With my own mom I had (and still have) painful problems. Once, when we accidentally met on the street, my mom could not control herself and began yelling at me. It was a big shock for me, because usually she does not show her emotions openly, not even talking about public places. I got the feeling that I had hurt her so deeply that she would never be able to forgive me. At the moment, our relationship is better, but only till the moment my way of dressing or religion come in question.

In my hometown, I am the only one wearing Hijab. I have heard laughing, cursing and swearing. Even on the Internet I have read remarks that in Jekabpils (Daiga’s hometown) one is going around in ‘those rags.’

(8) Have you had any pleasant surprises after becoming Muslim?

The time, when I daily searched for, found and studied the materials on Islam was truly beautiful. I did not have surprises – it was a steady feeling of happiness. Islam really is a total model of life given to people by Allah (swt). If this model would be adhered to, people would live in harmony. The actual encounter with people in Islam has somewhat deteriorated my notions about Muslims, but not about Islam.

(9) Have you experienced any hurtful incidents because of your conversion?

I do not want to talk about the negative. I have had verbal attacks, painful feeling that my relatives are suffering.

(10) Are you keeping in touch with the local Latvian Muslim Ummah?

As far as I know, in Jekabpils there are no other Muslims except me. I have been a few times in the mosque in Riga (the capital) and attended the Eid celebrations. However, due to several reasons, I cannot attend the events in the mosque on regular basis. I have not met any Muslim for quite long now. Time to time, I correspond with sisters over the Internet. I am really longing to meet other Muslims for refreshing the feeling of unity, for strengthening my Imaan.

(11) Can you tell a little about your second marriage after conversion to Islam?

I divorced my first husband prior to accepting Islam. After becoming Muslim, I realized that I want to have a family in the true sense of this word. Not only my five children, but also a husband. After reading about Islam, I really liked the Muslim family model. I longed for being a good wife and mother.

Since in my surroundings I do not have any Muslims, I put an advertisement in a Muslim matrimonial website www.qiran.com. Letters poured. Initially, I was surprised that among Muslim men there are so many, who are ready to accept me with my five children. Only later I found out that just a small percentage of them have clean intentions. For some time, I was corresponding with quite many Muslim men. The experience ranged from unpleasant to shocking. Then, through the same website, I got a letter from a man in Makkah. He already had a wife and a large family. I was offered to become the second wife. Originally, Abuhamed is from Morocco. He has studied in France and now lives in Makkah. Although he had a degree in engineering, he is committed to studies of Islam and writes books.

After a virtual meeting with Abuhamed, his wife and family, I accepted his proposal. I was given many promises – that soon I would not have to work any more, so that I can become a full-time mother and wife, that he would come to Latvia for getting to know my children and that afterwards we would be able to live in KSA or in any other country of our choice. We were planning that I would help him with online Dawah activities. I was truly delighted!

However, life has put many hurdles in the way of our new family. My husband has dedicated his life to studies of Islam and writing about Islam, while I am working for earning at least a decent living for my children. We have met two times in Istanbul, Turkey. He was refused visa for Latvia. He is continuously asking me to come to Makkah, but how is it practically possible, if I have neither a Mahram to travel with, nor money for buying my ticket? It is also not possible for me to uproot my children from their current lives and ‘throw’ them into a completely different environment than they are used to. I keep praying to Allah (swt) for uniting our family soon.

(12) What is it that keeps you steady on the Path of Allah (swt), despite the difficulties you face?

My relationship with Allah (swt) is guided by internal conviction, not by any external reasons. The difficulties, which come about due to external obstacles, cannot become a reason for doubts in the matters of faith. Faith can get affected only if a person has internal insecurities and lacks confidence in himself/herself.

Dear Haadia

Haadia

We find two Ahadeeth with criteria for selecting one’s spouse-to-be. In one, Allah’s Messenger (sa) has advised to pick a wife who follows her Deen, and keep other priorities, such as her wealth, status and lineage, on a lower scale. On the other hand, there was an occasion, when he advised a Sahabi to look at the girl he was getting married to. Can we have an explanation for the above two, in order to guide youngsters who are planning to get married?

Answer: We can easily reconcile these two apparently contradictory scenarios that are found in the Sunnah.

For marriage, a Muslim man should give the highest priority to a girl’s piety and practice of religion, as you have stated. However, our Prophet (sa) advised looking at her towards the end of the proposal process, when the two families have negotiated other matters, and a positive outcome seems imminent. At this point, the young man may look at the girl, in order to prevent possible disappointment or physical revulsion, when he sees her in person after marriage.

It was narrated that a man wanted to marry a daughter of one of the Companions who was a resident of Madinah. The Prophet (sa) said to him: “Go and look, and then marry. There is something in the eyes of the Companions.” (Muslim)

As this narration indicates, it serves as a safety net to look at the prospective girl in order to identify any deformity or physical defect that can turn off her future husband, or vice versa. Marriage means conjugal relations, for which physical attraction plays an important part. Though it is mostly enough for his female relatives to describe the girl to him, a man is still permitted to look. As to the extent of looking and what the girl is permitted to show, Shaykh Uthaymeen at IslamQA.com gives us the details in Question 102369, where he says:

“It is permissible for the suitor to see the woman to whom he is proposing marriage, but that is subject to certain conditions:

  1. That he needs to see her. If there is no need, then the basic principle is that a man should not look at a woman, who is a non-Mahram to him.
  2. He should have made up his mind that he wants to propose. If he is still hesitant, then he should not look, but if he has made up his mind, then he may look.
  3. This looking should be without being alone with her, i.e., it is essential that she has one of her Mahrams with her.
  4. He should think it most likely that she and her family will accept. If he does not think it is most likely, then there is no point in looking, because his proposal will not be accepted, whether he looks at her or not.

In this situation, the woman must come out to the suitor looking ordinary; she should not come out wearing beautiful clothes or makeup, because she is not yet his wife.”

The practices of dolling up a girl, asking her to entertain her potential suitor’s family or dressing up to catch public attention for a future marriage proposal are high despicable.

Allah (swt) knows best.

Dear Haadia

Haadia

I recently got married into a well-off family. Alhumdulilah, we have plenty of domestic help around the house. This often leaves me with absolutely nothing constructive to do. My mother-in-law is involved in mainstream Dawah work, and I would like to help her out. But somehow I get the feeling that she neither likes me to be too involved with the work that she is doing, nor does she appreciate that I do nothing to help her. I am quite confused. Please direct me towards some productive work, which I can do to utilize my free time.

Answer: The time you have right now will never come back, particularly once you have children, Insha’Allah. So, it is very commendable that you wish to use it productively. There are many things one can do in this regard. For instance, you can join an Islamic course. This will provide structure to your day and give you something to look forward to on daily basis. In addition, you could also pursue a hobby and take it up in a more serious manner. For instance, if you enjoy drawing, painting or crafts, you could take an art class and hone your skills. If you enjoy stitching or knitting, you could enroll yourself into proper sewing classes. If you are a reader, join a book club. If you can’t find one, start one!

There may be times when you find that you are not fitting into activities that are already around. That’s okay – you can always be proactive and initiate constructive endeavors. For example, perhaps you don’t want to commit yourself to an Islamic course right now. So get a few friends together and organize a weekly study circle. As a group, you can decide what focus you want your Halaqah to have: Quran, Ahadeeth, a book-study, or a mixture of all three. For such self-initiated ventures to be successful, though, do make sure that meetings are consistent and everyone stays on-task. Another word of caution: we often think of food when it comes to any gathering, but sometimes food takes over the entire event. Keep food to a minimum, if at all necessary.

Reading good books is always a constructive activity. If you wish to focus on yourself more, take up a certain aspect and study it. For instance, you could decide to delve into the Seerah of the Prophet (sa), read and reread any relevant books and dig into online resources. Make notes, and consider it as self-education. Similarly, you could also take up something like the history of Pakistan and read up on it. Unlike school days, you may actually enjoy it. In fact, you can couple it with outings to important landmarks in Karachi, such as the Quaid’s house-museum, Frere Hall, Mohatta Palace, etc. Next time a relative is visiting, you can add a different flavor to their trip by taking them to these places as well. When visiting another city in Pakistan, make it a priority to go historical sightseeing.

Writing is another productive activity. You can share your thoughts on life, religion, books or other topics by submitting articles to newspapers and magazines. Once you start doing this, you might actually realize, how much there is to be written about and find a comfortable place for yourself in it.

Have you considered working? If you’re not career-oriented or cannot afford to be away from home for long periods, think about a part-time job. It could be based on your degree or something completely different. Many women like to teach; others prefer office work.

Decide if this interests you and start searching. Alternatively, you could consider volunteering your time at an Islamic organization, school, hospital or an NGO. The rewards and the gratification one derives from volunteer work are immense. All you have to figure out is what will be most feasible for you and then go after it.

Don’t worry too much about your mother-in-law – it might be possible that she is quite confused herself, as to how your role will play out in the home. You’ll have to play it by the ear and learn over time how to strike a balance. In the meantime, keep yourself busy with things of your own to do. You won’t have to look to your mother-in-law for constructive activities, and she also will not have to wonder why you are not involved with her.

Lastly, I want to stress again that the time you have right now is irreplaceable. Later on, you will think back to this time and wonder why you didn’t do such-and-such a thing, when you had the time. If the above ideas don’t seem to speak to you, you can always type “free time” in any search engine, and I am sure you’ll get plenty of suggestions that way. The possibilities are endless! So, harness your time right now and don’t let go!

Dear Haadia

Haadia

I am a teenage boy, who is very protective of my younger sister. Thankfully, she observes Hijab, and it makes me feel proud of her. The way girls are dressing up nowadays is highly provocative. And these are girls from reputed families, whose parents aren’t concerned about their Satar (portion of the body that has to be covered). I know many boys, who discuss such girls in a very indecent manner. I fear such talks can corrupt these otherwise decent girls. What can be done?

Answer: You are raising a very important issue, which is plaguing our society. While fashions have always come and gone – from tight, short shirts to baggy and long ones, from Shalwars and trousers to flappers – the recent influx of western-style designing is alarmingly changing the entire landscape.

Nowadays, we commonly see sleeveless shirts and capris on the Pakistani media. Many young and impressionable girls, as well as women, are enamored by this glitz and glamour and sadly, have assimilated such dressing into their everyday lives. For them, this is the face of progressive thinking, taking them forward to an advanced future. They do not realize that it only betrays an insecure sense of identity.

On the other hand, Islam has timelessly defined the parameters of proper clothing to be worn in public. At its most basic level, it specifies the need for women to wear non-sheer, non-fitted clothing which covers all parts of their body “…except only that which is apparent…” (An-Nur 24:31). Similarly, men are instructed to conceal themselves in loose, opaque clothing from navel to knee and preferably also the rest of their body, for the Prophet (sa) was rarely seen with his body uncovered.

In this context, it must be mentioned that men should also exercise caution. Body-hugging jeans/trousers and shirts are not allowed. Likewise, shorts must cover their knees whether out on a morning run, in the swimming pool or at the beach. Very often, men are more worried about women not realizing the fact that they too are stepping beyond their Satar and making women quite uncomfortable due to their immodest attire.

As far as boys talking indecently about such girls, the first question which must be asked is: does a person’s dress give someone else the license to backbite or slander? The answer, of course, is no. We are each accountable for our own acts to Allah (swt). If the girls are dressing in a revealing way, they are responsible for that. If the boys are gawking at them, they are answerable for that.

In fact, such behaviour of both boys and girls corrupts not only them but also the society at large. If anyone researches the marital relationship history within the United States, they will see that it all began with chaste courtships for marriage. Now, centuries later, the American society is beleaguered with such vices as premarital sex, teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, same-sex relationships, abortions, etc. Unfortunately, we are jumping the gun by importing their culture indiscriminately, and we run the risk of spreading similar problems much faster.

The umbrella of Islam shades men and women from such corruption and provides a moderate lifestyle, in which men and women show respect towards themselves as well as others through modest dress, controlled talk and purified hearts. Yet, people will discern this only if they experience Islam in a positive way. For instance, trying to tell a non-practicing person not to dress a certain way because Islam forbids it always backfires, because the roots required for the flowering of Islam are missing. After all, they are already more or less aware of the Islamic point of view – but averse. We have to work on their hearts, before we tell them to cover their bodies. Indeed, the injunctions for Hijab did not come with the first revelation of the Quran. Rather, they came much later, when the novice Muslim women’s hearts had already been infused with the love of Allah (swt).

Active Dawah and education about the basics of Islam in a beautiful and pristine manner are the needs of the hour. At an individual level, you and your sister can attend lectures and youth-oriented activities currently taking place in the city. Then, both of you can encourage your respective friends to join in, too. Creating an awareness of the fundamentals of what’s right and wrong is always the first step toward adopting the right and rejecting the wrong. While it may seem difficult in the beginning, have the courage to calmly and politely advise those among your friends who indulge in gossip about girls; similarly, your sister can counsel her friends to dress more modestly.

Instead of name-calling or even pointing fingers at another culture, it is better to use simple logic to convince those around us of the dictates of Islam. Slowly, increase the circle of people, whom you are giving Nasihah (advice) to and Insha’Allah, you will feel that you are doing something about this epidemic. At the same time, do remember not to measure the worth of your actions only with results – after all, only Allah (swt) can change the hearts of people; our job is only to convey the message in a beautiful manner, full of wisdom. And on the Day of Judgement, Allah (swt) will not ask us about the actions of someone else, but what we ourselves did.

Let us rise to the challenges that our society faces and pray to Allah (swt) to help us in His cause.

Dear Haadia

Haadia

I’m a 21-year-old and have an extremely important question. When I was 15, I was very outgoing and had loads of guy friends, including a boyfriend. As circumstances should have it, things did not work out, and he got married to someone else. Since then, I have tried to be a good Muslimah. I want to have a family of my own now, but I don’t want to betray my future husband by having another guy in my mind the whole time. My parents also want me to get married, but I feel I cannot get married. Everything seems distorted. Please help.

Answer: Firstly, I would like to commend you on being such a brave individual and for having grasped the handhold of Islam. This, indeed, is what will lead you to inner peace and harmony, Insha’Allah! Moreover, to realize one’s mistakes and then to beg Allah (swt) for forgiveness is truly a blessing of our Creator. I can understand the grief and despair you are engulfed in; remember that these are very natural emotions and we see the grief of Hazrat Yaqoob (as) in the following Quranic Ayah: “… And he lost his sight because of the sorrow that he was suppressing.” (Yusuf 12:84)

Now, a question may come to one’s mind – why was a Prophet of Allah (swt) tested? Let’s again refer to the Quran: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

What are these glad tidings? They are our purification – they will elevate our levels in the Hereafter. So what should one do? The Quran gives us the answer in the next Ayah:

“Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” (Al-Baqarah 2:156)

“And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

So pray to Allah (swt) to give you the strength and the Sabr to forget about this boy, who is now married, and to move on with your life!

When we look around ourselves and contemplate the power of Allah (swt), may it be in a flowering plant, it will give conviction that He is the Almighty, Who can erase any painful memory. Often, our vision is myopic – what we may think to have been good for us might have been on the contrary. So have full belief in Allah (swt) that He will guide you towards a better future!

Now that you have identified what is happening to you, use the above solutions to overcome this situation. You can also join a group of young girls for understanding the Quran. As you are still studying, I would recommend a weekend class by the name of “Towards the Light” at 14 Sehr, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi on Saturday afternoons.

There are times, when we wonder, why Allah (swt) would let us go through such trials and difficulties. But Allah (swt) knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him, and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful! Loads of Duas for you.

Dear Haadia

Haadia

I have studied in co-education schools since the very beginning and have had friends among boys. I have started adoring one of my friends (among boys). He has expressed his wish to marry me. We are both eighteen. Is it Haram to wish to marry someone? Should I express my wish to my parents? I feel that it will be unacceptable to them and also to the society in general, as teen marriages are very rare. Please, help me.

Answer: My dear sister in Islam, from your questions I can sense, how distressed and pressurized you are feeling. Let’s try to rationalize the situation and see what marriage, which is a Sunnah of our Prophet (sa), encompasses.

As a young couple, you both should understand that marrying young comes with responsibilities and commitments. Are you both ready for that?

It is true that society does not readily accept early teen marriages. However, the question is: are there any valid reasons, which we tend to overlook, as marriage is a decision of great magnitude? The importance of learning Islam is paramount. Sometimes, without the balance of reason, our hearts can blind us, because when we see only through the heart, our emotions colour our vision of what is real and what is unreal, as well as what is suitable for our needs.

Remember that fornication is a serious issue. In Islam, it does not begin at the point of sexual intercourse. It starts much earlier – with the look, the spoken words, the touch and then the rest of the body. The Quran says: “And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a Fahishah [i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allah forgives him).” (Al-Isra 17:32)

So there really is no excuse for relationships outside the domain of marriage. Now, let’s come to your questions.

Firstly, wishing to marry someone or marrying someone you wish to marry is not Haram, but how we do it is of great importance. In the name of adoring someone, Haram activities have to be avoided.

The consent of parents is also extremely important, and it is an Islamic requirement as well. This is because parents invariably know what is best for their children. In the context of male-female relationships, do remember that love should not be a means of satisfying carnal desires or material whims. Love should have a healthy atmosphere, where it can properly grow and be normally expressed – and for that, it should be covered by the protection of marriage, Islamic law and the consent of the family. The involvement of the family will help a lot in strengthening the marriage, because the choice of a partner is not based just on romantic notions; rather, the compatibility of the couple has been objectively analyzed. You will be spending the rest of your life with this man, raising a family, securing its future, facing joys and sorrows and aging together.

After marriage, you will have every right to enjoy each other’s affections, sheltered by the merciful umbrella of Nikah – a divine gift that Allah (swt) has established for loving souls. I recommend that your relationship should be in this light and with the blessings of both your families.

Sometimes, a trusted third party can help you to communicate with your parents; however, you yourself are the best judge of how to approach them. Remain calm through the difficult moments and do not forget to pray to Allah (swt) to make matters easy for you. Then, this man can propose to marry you, so that you can get betrothed to him.

And always, always remember to read the Quran every day and never neglect your obligatory prayers. Ask Allah (swt) for His help and ask Him to forgive you when you fail. With the help of Allah (swt) and your strong Iman (faith), you will overcome this difficulty, Insha’Allah.

Should you have any other questions, please, do not hesitate to write to me. May Allah (swt) always protect you and your family, Ameen.

Dear Haadia

I would like to commit my free time to some social work activities. Can you highlight some organizations for teenage boys and girls, where I could volunteer?

Answer:  Dear sister in Islam, your request for information about organizations where you could volunteer is very encouraging, and specially your interest in working with teenagers, who are an integral part of any society. Youth can be innovative, full of energy and can steer nations. Let’s look at some guidelines for social work that is greatly emphasized in Islam.

Firstly, the only motive of this service should be as described in the following Ayah, in which Allah (swt) says: “And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Therefore, the essence of service to Allah (swt) is, firstly, to worship Him and Him alone and, secondly, to render service to His creatures for His pleasure. These are the two duties prescribed for the mankind. As regards the latter, let’s look at the following Ayah: “Those who spend (in Allah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily; Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Imran 3:134) Spending mentioned here would include all the tangible and intangible blessings a person may be bestowed with in different phases of life.

A great encouragement and motivation is expressed in a beautiful Hadeeth, which reflects the reward of visiting the sick: “The one, who visits the sick, is, in fact, like one, who is in the fruit garden of Paradise, as long as he does not return.” (Muslim)

Moreover: “Allah shows not mercy to them, who are not merciful to people.” (Muslim)

Now, let’s have a look at a few options, where you can volunteer. Do try to give your best for the volunteering work! Even time-wise – make conscious effort to contribute quality time, instead of just your free time, which is left over after your other engagements. Give to Allah (swt) your best!

At “Al-Huda”, volunteers can support the weekly children and youth programmess. Summer courses start in July in all branches. Help is needed with Dawah work, through promoting Dawah audio and written materials. Volunteers can also teach at the street children school run in PECHS, help emergency relief work in case of natural calamities and assist in packing during Ramadan food drives. For more information about welfare projects, visit http://www.farhathashmi.com/dn/WelfareDawah/tabid/641/Default.aspx

To register for volunteer work, write to: sadia@alhudapk.com

“Active Saturdays” is a series of programs for 11-19 years old boys, which involves them in fun and knowledge-enriching activities in an Islamic environment. Within the series, boys are involved in field trips with social implications, i.e., Darul Sukoon, Edhi Children’s Home, Civil Hospital, Husseini Blood Bank, Edhi Mortuary, etc. They also have such short social work projects as fundraising for digging a well, earthquake relief, etc. These are being held in various centres in Karachi. For further information, contact Saeed Motiwala at 0333-213-1788 or at saeedm@rocketmail.com.

Amidst other options is “Behbud Association” working towards poverty alleviation, especially among women. Contact: Behbud Center, 25 Mehmoodabad Road or St. 9, Block 1, Kehkashan, Scheme 5, Karachi. Ph: 021-5862093. Website: http://www.behbud.org

“Society for Educational Welfare” (SEW), which has a network of “Baithak Schools” for the under-privileged children all over Pakistan, is always in need of volunteers. SEW has started a Collaborative Community Development Programme (CCDP), whereby students can come to the “Baithak Schools” on Saturdays and share their knowledge and time with the underprivileged children. For more details, contact their office at 021-4800325-6, 9 am to 4 pm.

“Al-Khidmat Foundation” is also one of the places where you can volunteer. For more information, visit http://Al-khidmatfoundation.org

May your desire to volunteer encourage others to follow in your footsteps, Ameen.

Dear Haadia

I am a young man in my late twenties, studying in a professional medical college. My educational environment entails mixed gender situations, and sometimes I feel highly uncomfortable with my fellow female students, especially when we have to work closely. I understand that Islam expects me to maintain my distance, but how can I do this, if there are no segregated medical colleges for males?

Answer: Maintaining distance between genders does not necessarily mean shunning one another or existing in a segregated society. If we are raised in a modest environment, it is indeed natural to feel uncomfortable with members of the opposite gender – so be glad that you do.

Allah (swt) has made both genders in this world, so that they may coexist peacefully. For this purpose, he has set down certain injunctions, which must be followed during necessary interactions. Khalwa, being alone with a non-Mahram individual, is strictly prohibited. A Hadeeth, which clearly states that in such a situation, the third is Satan: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them.” (Tirmidhi)

In public settings, if interacting with the opposite sex is an absolute necessity, certain rules must be followed: lowering the gaze, maintaining a business-like tone and ensuring that no physical contact (be it shaking hands, a friendly pat on the back, etc.) takes place. At the same time, these commands are not intended for robotic behavior.

For instance, lowering your gaze does not mean that you are never allowed to look at a girl during a discussion. It simply means that you should not make a sustained eye contact or stare at her. You can glance at her, then avert your eyes and repeat this with discretion. Similarly, talking in a business-like voice does not entail that you are not allowed to smile or laugh. Rather, you must not at any point become flirtatious. If you sense such an intention from a girl, change the topic or make an excuse and remove yourself from the situation. Worse comes to worst, request your professors to put you in a different group.

Do make sure that your behavior never arouses suspicion, even when surrounded by other people. For example, having a meal alone with a female classmate at a fast food joint is not allowed. It can lead to much speculation among people around you as well as in the mind of the girl herself. The concepts that ‘we’re just friends’ or ‘it’s only for fun’ are alien to the Islamic code of modesty between the two genders. (Likewise, if the intention for such outings is dating, then it is clearly forbidden in Islam, although unfortunately it is quite prevalent these days.)

Given your circumstances, do not forget the real reason you are at college: to gain knowledge. The girls are also there for the same reason. When you become a doctor, Insha’Allah, you will have to deal with female patients as well. Consider this a preparation for the future. Understand that one can interact with members of the opposite gender and yet maintain a distance figuratively. Internalize the commands set by Allah (swt) for such interactions and, Insha’Allah, He will make your task easier for you. And, of course, always make Dua that He keeps you on Sirat-e-Mustaqeem.

Dear Haadia

HaadiaQuestion: I am a single girl in late twenties. Circumstances indicate that I may never get married. I want to know what should be my purpose in life? Can you quote any example from the Islamic history of any such females and their mission in life?

Answer: Dear sister, never be disheartened with the will of Allah (swt) and never give up on His mercy, for we have absolutely no clue what He has destined for us. The mother of the believers, Aisha bint Abu Bakr (rta), got married to the Prophet (sa) when she was 6 years old, whereas Fatimah bint Muhammad (rta) got married when she was 18 years old, which might have been considered late during that time (1400 years back). So there is no right time, except the time that Allah (swt) has willed for us.

Regarding your purpose in life, unfortunately, we, females, have been conditioned to believe that marriage is the be-all and end-all of our existence. Although the Sunnah stresses that marriage completes half of ones Eman, Allah (swt) says in Quran: “And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56) So irrespective of who we are, the sole purpose of our life is worshipping Allah (swt).

How do we worship Allah (swt)? The answer is simple – by living our life according to His Deen (Islam). Whatever you are doing right now, see to it that it is done with the intention of seeking Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Whether you are pursuing education, looking after your parents or working for your living, do it with all sincerity and right intention.

To discover your purpose in life, ask yourself what it is that you wish to do. Do you want to pursue further education? Are you interested in a particular hobby? Probe yourself and you will discover that there is a lot you might want to achieve – and this will boost your self-esteem a great deal.

If you are disheartened because you have a lot of time and you don’t know what to do with it, then do think about serving the community. Join a philanthropic organization, volunteer for different causes, take up some specialized courses which match your interests, start giving tuitions to your neighbourhood children or set up a home business. The possibilities are endless.

One great example from Islamic history is that of Maryam (as). She was not married, yet we know from the Quran that such was her stature that Allah (swt) sent her food through angels. She had to face great trials and tribulations as a single mother – but she did so with great fortitude.

So, dear sister, don’t believe for one second that just because you are not married yet, you have no purpose in life at all. There is a purpose out there, waiting for you to discover it.

May Allah (swt) help us all in our pursuit of happiness in this world and the hereafter, Ameen.

Dear Haadia

Muslims are killing each other in our country. I don’t know, who is right and who is wrong. Honestly, I have even stopped caring about it! I just want peace in our society. What can we do to help this situation? Or is it not in our hands anymore?

Answer: First and foremost, we must realize that a Muslim cannot be a Muslim till other Muslims are safe from his/her hands and tongue. Verbally, emotionally, mentally or physically hurting another Muslim is a despicable crime in the view of Islamic teachings. So there is no doubt that what you are observing is indeed evil. Your cause for concern is justified.

Becoming numb is a somewhat natural psychological reaction to the repeated crimes we witness around us. The danger of such reaction, however, is that it eventually leads to apathy instead of action, and before you know it, you lose your faith.

Allah (swt) says to all Muslims: “You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:110)

So faith involves doing right by being an example to others to do right. As a Muslim, you do not live for yourself only – the problems of all Muslims are also your problems. So, if you are not actively enjoining good and forbidding evil, you are not functioning as a Muslim. Keep this in mind.

Furthermore, we cannot afford to stop caring about what is going on around us, because we will be answerable in front of Allah (swt), and we must strive towards spreading the message of peace. Allah (swt) will not ask you, why Muslims continued fighting among themselves during your lifetime, but He (swt) will ask, what you personally did for stopping it – what was your participation and contribution to end it? The following are some of the ways you can contribute:

Sensitize people towards the true nature and teachings of Islam as a method to spread peace at the grass root level.

Dua is a very practical way of handling problems around us, though we often tend to underestimate its power.

Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz said: “It used to be that Allah, the Most High, does not punish the common people for the sins of the elite; but when the evil is done openly, and they do not repudiate it, they all become deserving of His punishment.” We should be careful about being passive onlookers of evil just shrugging our shoulders: “Who cares? It is not our business.” Should Allah (swt) decide to punish the evildoers, we would be included in the punishment for not forbidding the evil they were committing.

The story of prophet Lut (as) in the Quran and the Sunnah tells us of a pious man among the people of Lut (as), who did not commit the crimes his people did, but was a passive onlooker. When he walked among the people of Lut (as) and saw their atrocities, the colour of his face did not change in disapproval. So when Allah (swt) ordered Jibreel (as) to destroy the city, he was destroyed together with the rest of the people of Lut (as).

Remember that the result will never be in your hands, but your response certainly is. Do what you can, and leave the rest to Allah (swt).

Dear Haadia

My wife does not cover her head in front of non-Mahrams. I would really appreciate it, if she does, because I don’t want her to face Allah (swt) in such a state, and I am also possessive about her. She doesn’t realize the intensity of the sin she is committing. Kindly explain in detail the best way for me to guide her.

Answer: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment… And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:31)

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” (Al-Ahzab 33:59)

As the above verses specify, Hijab is a command from Allah (swt). Yet, another verse states: “There is no compulsion in Deen.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256). Hence, the decision to wear Hijab should be self-initiated, not imposed. It should be made with clarity in one’s mind that one wishes to please Allah (swt) by following His injunction. To understand and practice Hijab with such humility is indeed one of the greatest blessings of Allah (swt).

It is commendable that you are concerned for your wife. You as a husband are responsible for what is happening in your family and will be questioned about it. It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (sa) said: “Beware, every one of you is a shepherd and every one is answerable with regard to his flock. (…) A man is a guardian over the members of his family and shall be questioned about them (as to how he looked after their physical and moral well-being). (…) Beware, every one of you is a guardian and every one of you shall be questioned with regard to his trust.” (Muslim)

However you should begin an earnest and open dialogue with her. Inform her of your apprehensions. Listen to her fears. Encourage her to explore the issue herself without prejudice. Offer her your full support in the process. Give her time.

Meanwhile, avoid constant reminding and nagging – these may unnecessarily irritate her and repel her from Hijab. If you succeed in cultivating a positive outlook, half your battle will be won, Insha’Allah.

Developing a more Islamic home culture is also important here. Instilling Islamic values in general in yourself and your family is vital in achieving Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Hijab should not be seen as an isolated command – rather, it is an integral part of the very fabric of a Momin’s life. Therefore, while you and your wife tread the path toward her acceptance of Hijab, both of you should simultaneously pledge to bring your everyday lives, the upbringing of your children and the general environment of your home closer to your Deen. Finding a social circle of like-minded individuals and families will not only positively influence your wife’s opinion of Hijab and Muhajjabas, but will also facilitate your submission to Allah (swt) as a family.

As for your possessiveness, you need to remember that the foremost purpose of Hijab is to submit oneself to Allah’s (swt) will, not to hide a woman’s beauty from other men. In this light, both of you must remember that Hijab has a meaning far deeper than its external covering. Hijab is more than the physical – it has so much to do with the internal humility, beauty and spirituality of a woman. In this sense, Hijab is not just a destination, but a journey in itself.

For more information, you may wish to read up more on Hijab. Two articles on the Internet, which may interest you, are:

“Hijab: Unveiling the Mystery” (http://www.allaahuakbar.net/womens/hijaab.htm)

“Understanding Hijab” (http://www.messageonline.org/2004febmarch/cover3_opt.pdf.)