This Ramadan Protect your Iman from the whispers of Shaytan

whispers

                                                   Image Courtesy www.salafiri.com

 

Shayateen are widely believed to be chained during the holy month of Ramadan; yet, people are seen committing sins. How does it happen to be so?

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“When the month of Ramadan starts- the gates of heaven are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the Shayateen are chained.”

The above words of the Messenger of Allah (sa) explain that the Shayateen are chained- not annihilated or eliminated completely.

Apparently, Shaytan is our affirmed enemy, and he will always try to mislead the believers with his tricks, lies and deception, though restricted and imprisoned he may be.

Shaytan’s power during Ramadan

During this pious month Allah (swt) restricts Shaytan’s power to inspire evil and mischief to a considerable extent- as compared to the other times of the year.  In any way it does not mean that they are ruined completely from creating mischief.

In fact, it is clearly evident from what happens to the believers in the month of Ramadan.

Those, who normally do not pray, begin to perform the prayers regularly; those who are never seen in the mosques, start attending the religious congregations more frequently; those who hardly read Quran, make conscious efforts to recite the glorious Book of guidance in the holy month of Ramadan. There is a definite and notable increase in the devoutness and worship of the believers in this blessed month.

Locked, yet strong!

Although, the Shayateen are restrained by Allah (swt), yet they can whisper; and through whispering- Shayateen try, and get the human beings close to them.

It is narrated by Ali bin Al Husain from Safiya (rta), that the Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“The Shaytan circulates in the body of Adam’s (as) offspring, as one’s blood circulates in it.”

It means the Shaytan circulates in the body of a man, just like one’s blood circulates in it; thus, this avowed enemy of man is constant in his whispering of evil- whenever he is given an opportunity.

Shaytan’s main target- You!

Undoubtedly, the Shaytan’s main target is the true believer of Allah (swt); even though, he is chained and his power is curtailed during this holy month of Ramadan- but because of his keen hatred, and enmity towards the believers and worshippers of Allah (swt), he will continue to make mischief in whatsoever way he can.

The Almighty mentions in the Quran,

“Who whispers in the breasts of mankind, Of Jinns and men.” (An-Naas 114:5-6)

Evidently, if a person is sinning continuously for eleven months, and Shaytan has worked hard on him/her- it is as if the evil has been injected inside the heart and mind of the person. Hence, the person will still feel the effect of the sin throughout Ramadan- no matter Shaytan has been locked up.

The most common example is watching television. Many people are so addicted to watching their daily soaps. or their favourite TV shows. Some can’t resist and watch during Ramadan; and some record them so that they can watch it later.

Stronger the belief, weaker the mischief

The believers, who are observing the rules of Allah (swt), are concerned and apprehensive; hence, Shaytan control over them is reduced.

This sacred month, with all its blessings and spiritual motivations, lays pressure on Shaytan; and therefore, it acts as a kind of a barrier between the believer and the Shatyan.

The one who has deep faith in Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and the Last Day, identifies the evil’s mischief, and whispering of the Shaytan. The more faith and trust one has in Allah (swt), and the Last Day, the more he will be able to distinguish, and tackle the mischief of the Shaytan.

Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran,

“O mankind! Verily, the Promise of Allah is true. So let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah. Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb (followers) that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” (Al Fatir 35:5-6)

Indeed, we praise Allah (swt), seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah (swt) guides, none can misguide; and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright.

 

Address your stress- Learn to help yourself!

stressStress is the most common problem humanity has to deal with. Every single being is under the spell of stress; he might be a poor teenager or an old millionaire, he will be consumed in ferocious storm of stress and depression. We all are victims of this battle; some might win, but most will perish. Stress has this power, not just to manipulate minds, but squander the body and soul altogether. Increased number of stress relief medications, enhanced therapeutic technologies, modified stress releasing machinery, escalating demand of psychiatrists, and psychologists show how our stress is becoming the ultimate victor of this battle.

Pressing the issue of increased suicidal rate in Muslim community is posing a big question mark on the lifestyle of a religion-oriented nation. It is unfortunate that Muslims are not very considerate about ‘dealing with stress’ issue on a massive scale. A special homework must be done in the scientific and therapeutic fields in the Muslim world, in order to design techniques which are compatible to Muslim mind set and lifestyle; rather than mindless application of the contrastive work of western scholars on Muslims. Meanwhile, we can try to win over the stress within our individual power frame. Usually, people run towards music, party, drinking, smoking, or drugs etc. to get rid of stress; but good news is that there are many alternative Halal (permissible) ways to beat stress. I have enlisted simple, yet powerful tips, which can help overcome stress.

1. Dhikr (rememberance of Allah (swt))

As a Muslim our very first source to beat stress is Dhikr. Allah (swt) said,  “Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”  (Ar-Rad 13:28)

Now what is this Dhikr? Dhikr literally means to “hold something in conscious mind” and in Islamic terms it means “the remembrance of Allah”. He also said,
“And men who remember Allah greatly and women who remembers (Allah greatly)- Allah holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward” (Surah Ahzab 33:35)
We find examples of Dhikr in the Quran and narrations of Prophet (sa). Quran itself is the best kind of Dhikr. The psychology behind Dhikr is very interesting. When a person calls his Creator and Sustainer in his conscious mind then he ‘unconsciously’ starts developing a sense of belonging- where he starts trusting his Creator and becomes contented with what is given or taken by Him. This contentment is the key to the door of happiness, and this sensation of felicity beats stress.

2. Follow the Sunnah
Muslims already have a set pattern of life style provided by our prophet (sa). The more you practice Sunnah, the more you beat the stress. Anyone can get those guidelines, anywhere, at any time, just by contemplating over the life of prophet (sa). Allah (swt) said in the Quran, “Say (O Muhammad) onto them that if you love Allah SWT than follow me. Allah will love you and forgive your sins”

When one is loved by Allah (swt) then there is nothing in this entire universe that can harm him/her, or even cause any discomfort. Living a sinless life, gives a great comfort to one’s heart and mind which helps beat stress.

3. Fulfil your obligations/responsibilities

Every adult has to deal with some specific responsibilities. As Prophet (sa) said: “Every one of you is a Shepherd (responsible) and every one of you is accountable for the ones you are responsible for.” In fact, the ever mounting stack of unfulfilled responsibilities and obligations are the cause of depression and stress. Hence, when one fulfils his/ her obligations sincerely on a daily basis then there is nothing to worry about at the end of the day.

4. Develop a habit of physical exercise

Study of Harvard Health shows that regular exercise enhances the action of chemicals in our body, known as Endorphins. These chemicals help in building immunity and serve to improve our mood. Walking briskly for 35-thirty five minutes daily, shows to have a significant influence on mild to moderate symptoms of depression. On the other hand, our Islamic tradition strongly recommends physical exercise where Prophet (sa) used to motivate Muslims to practice different types of sports. Develop a habit of daily exercise, and participate in your favourite sport, so that you can ward off boredom and stress.

5. Provide a helping hand

Helping others gives ultimate happiness. If we observe the poor or destitute closely, we develop a sense of thankfulness; and when we will be thankful to Allah (swt) for His bounties, He will give you more- that is His promise. Hence, start helping others. Find a welfare organization in your area, and participate in community service to beat your stress.

6. Find your vision/mission

Everything in this universe has a purpose of its existence. The tragedy of Muslims nowadays is the lack of vision in their lives; they are confused and negligent of their purpose of creation. Existence of vision in one’s life instils fun, trill and enduringness in it which is a very helpful component in beating stress.

7. Organize yourself
Organization of oneself is one of the most important things in one’s life. If you ponder upon the system of this universe, you will see that everything has its specific time of happening. Nothing falls off the set schedule. Similarly, humans are also designed to organize their lives, or else they will fall from the divine dignity. Start your organization from little things like cleaning your messy cupboard, your book shelf and room, office desk then move up and design your daily routine, manage your events, and make a timetable. Rest assure- the more you organize yourself, the more you beat the stress.

8. Be Patient

Sabr (patience) makes it easy to deal with depression and stress. When a person thinks that everything belongs to Allah (swt), and He has complete authority to give and take any of His bounties whenever He wills; only then, he will experience true peace. Allah (swt) the Almighty knows what is best, and if one is patient at the time of calamity, Allah (swt) rewards him in this world and hereafter. One should try to practice patience, and be contented for what Allah (swt) has ordained for him for He is not unjust.

9. Let Go

Psychology tells us, when a person experiences, or senses something- it immediately goes into his short term memory, and when, it is repeated few times, it becomes long term memory where it resides for a long time. So, when you experience something unlikely and depressive- try to let go of it. It might be extremely depressing, but thinking about it over and over again will just make it worse, and ultimately, lead you to severe depression. Letting go needs a lot of practice and patience as it involves the training of your brain.

Practice these tips and God willing, you will regain your strength to fight stress. May Allah (swt) grant us all the peace of heart and mind. Ameen.

Beyond imagination is the love of Allah (swt)- 2

keep-calm-because-allah-loves-you-2Continued from here

10:30 a.m. April 7th 2013

It was not that she had never been insulted before. Being a house help, she was used to people looking down at her. It was not that she had never been insulted because of money. It was always money which made her beg in front of people- people she worked hard for. She had been insulted all her life by them just because she asked for some extra money to pay for some tuition fees or an unexpected medical expense.

But it was different this time.

This time, it was Amir who insulted her.

This time, it was Amir who insulted her because of money.

Money she had borrowed from him some months ago. She never thought of it as a debt. It was her son’s money. She deserved to spend it. She never thought he would ask for it. And in such a way!

“I want my money back!” he frowned with not even a sprinkle of recognition in his eyes, “You said you’d give it back in two months. It has been four already. I’ve been very patient.  But now I need the money.”

“I….I’ll see what I can do……” was all she could mutter.

Why did Allah (swt) make her suffer in the hands of her own flesh? Were her life-long sufferings not enough?

The way Amir looked at her was still alive in her mind. She just couldn’t shake the image off. How can he be so cruel to his own mother? It was so hard for her to accept that fact.

11:30 a.m. March 15th 2013

“Assalamu alaikum.”

“Wa alaikum asalam Farri, How are you?”

“Alhumdulillah Bhai. I’ve made the envelopes as you told me to. I had been so busy with the kids’ exams that I just couldn’t do it before.”

“Oh, it’s ok Farri. I know it must be real hard with kids and all. Take your time. Once you’ll start this, everything will just fall into a routine and it won’t be hard every month. I really appreciate you doing this.”

“Oh Bhai, please don’t say it like this. I’m doing it for Allah (swt) and I’ll get the reward from Him Insha’Allah.”

“Let me know when you plan to deliver these envelopes.”

“Sure, Insha’Allah in a week.”

“Allah Hafiz.”

“Allah hafiz.”

11:00 a.m. April 7th 2013

She had been crying since morning. She was tired. She had to look for a way to return the money to her son. She just wouldn’t allow anyone to look down upon her even if it was her son. She had too much self-respect to allow that to happen. She opened her locker. She had been saving money for a bad time. She never knew her bad time was around the corner. She counted out the cash. It was only 4500. She had to return ten thousand! Where will she get the remaining money from? She just didn’t have the strength to think about it. Suddenly, she made a decision. She had a small pendant left of her jewellery. She had given whatever she had to her daughters and daughter in law. She was saving this pendant as it was very dear to her………the only gift left of her husband. But, the task was more important. She hurriedly went to the jewellery store in the market near her house. It was closed. Who opens a store at eleven a.m.? In her hurry, she didn’t even look at the time.

Clumsily, she walked back home. Everything was going wrong that day.

“Allah (swt) just does not care what happens to me. He just cares about the people who do big things in His way. I’m such a sinner, why would He waste His precious time on me?”

She just couldn’t stop herself from thinking.

9:00 a.m. April 7th 2013

“Assalamu alaikum Bhai, I’m going with Ahmer today to distribute the envelopes so thought I should let you know.”

“Wa alaikumasalam. You still didn’t? I thought you made the envelopes 15-fifteen days ago.”

“Yes Bhai, but Ahmer couldn’t find the time before today.”

“Hmm……I’ve already sent the next installment of the money. Make sure you don’t delay it this time.”

“No Bhai, this is my first time so I’m taking Ahmer along as he knows all the addresses. Once I know the addresses, I’ll do it alone next time.”

11:15 a.m. April 7th 2013

As she returned home to her room, she realized she only had few hours left before her son returned. She had to have the money before that. She just didn’t know what to do. Her eyes kept coming back to the prayer mat folded on the table.

“How can I ask Him? Why would he care?”

“But do you have anyone else to turn to?” someone pleaded inside her.

“I need the money now. How can He help now? I just don’t see any way.”

“Why don’t you just submit yourself? Put your worries in His hands and sit back.” The voice spoke again, but this time with determination.

She stood up and put her head on the floor crying hysterically.

“You know I have nowhere to go. You know I never asked anyone else for help. You know very well if You won’t help me, I’ll be helpless.”

She was just crying her heart out.

“I have no one else but You, Ya Rabbi. Don’t leave me now. I know I have sinned a lot and I’m not a very loyal servant to You, but still I am Your servant. You have to help me. I need You.”

She didn’t know what she was saying. She just wept uncontrollably in front of her Lord.

She was so absorbed in her conversation with her Allah (swt) that she did not hear the doorbell. It was when her grandson came running into the room saying someone had come to meet her. Then she raised her head from the floor.

11:30 a.m. April 7th 2013

“Assalamu alaikum auntie, how are you?”

“Wa alaikum assalam Farzana Beta, it’s been a long time since I last saw you.”

“Yes auntie, it’s been a long time. Were you crying? Your face looks so puffy?”

“I was just resting. Amir’s son told me that you had come. I didn’t even hear the doorbell.”

After twenty minutes, and a cup of tea, Farzana stood up to leave. She handed an envelope to her whispering, “Bhai sent this auntie. He had been planning this for about six months but it took so long to actually happen. He’ll send this every month from now.”

She started to show her disapproval, but Farzana just pressed her hand lovingly.

“Aren’t we your children auntie? Don’t you have any rights over us? Just take this as our mother. Please. You’ll make us very happy if you take this from us.”

12:00 p.m. April 7th 2013

Her hands were trembling as she opened the envelope in the privacy of her room. It was 10-ten thousand rupees,  exactly ten thousand. The same amount she needed. The same amount she had been begging Allah (swt) for. He did listen. He did care. He did answer. She was overwhelmed with emotions.

“Ya Rabbi, You helped me from a way that I never thought existed. I was so foolish to think so low of You. You are the owner of the heavens and the Earth and You love me. How could I think you’d leave me when I make Dua to you.” She was in Sujud again begging for His forgiveness for thinking Allah (swt) would not answer her Dua. Then, out of nowhere, a thought struck her mind! Wasn’t she upset? Didn’t she cry that morning? Didn’t she make Dua for the money? But Farzana said they had been planning to give this for six months. Had Allah (swt) heard her Dua even before she uttered it? Did Allah (swt) love her so much that even when she didn’t know she would need the money, he had started planning how she’d get the money? Can there be anyone else but Allah (swt) to love her? She had attained peace. She had found the greatest friend.

Beyond imagination is the love of Allah (swt)

sunset9:30 a.m. April 7th, 2013

Her hands trembled as she opened her prayer mat. Amir’s words echoed in her ears as she closed her eyes, and called upon the Almighty. She didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserved that! Why her out of all the people? She had wasted 25-twenty five glorious years of her life as a single parent raising 5-five kids. Five kids! No easy task. It was a roller coaster ride with more downs than ups. She went through a lot but came through. Came through to have what? What did she ever do to deserve that? Tears rolled down her cheeks as she whispered to her God.

She lived with her only son, Amir. Her daughters were married off and lived with their families. Her son was also married and had two sons of his own. Together, they portrayed a picture of a big happy family. Only she knew what she had to endure to get to that stage.  But she didn’t have any regrets. She was happy. She was content with what she had. She never complained. She never asked for more. Even though in her heart she knew she deserved more. She knew she was being tested and she strived to win. But what did she get after all those hard-spent years?

8:00 a.m. Dec 20th 2012

“Hello?”

“Yes, Bhai? Assalamu alaikum.”

“Wa alaikumasalam Farzana, how are you and everyone else?”

“Alhumdulillah.”

“Did you get my email?”

“Yes Bhai, got it. I’m on it right now. Don’t worry. I’ll let you know in a week or so.”

“Ok, Ok. Take your time. I know you’re busy with your new job and all.”

“Yeah, but I’ll get it ready in a week.”

“Ok Farri, take care and give my love to the kids.”

9:40 a.m. April 7th 2013

She wanted to scream. She wanted to shout. But her lips were sealed. No words came out. Is this what it all ends up to? She survived mountains of miseries to get beaten by this? But this was the mother of all miseries, she must’nt forget. How was she going to survive this? She could feel the sweat trickle down her spine as she recalled the insult she was just put through. She wanted to talk to the Lord. She wanted to cry it all out. But she couldn’t. She had never felt so worthless in her life.

10:00 a.m. Dec 29th 2012

“Assalamu alaikum”

“Wa alaikumasalam Bhai. I was going to call you today.”

“Haha Farzana, that’s what you say every time I call you. So? Did you do the work?”

“Yes Bhai, almost done. It’s taking a lot more time than I thought it would. I didn’t imagine it would take so long.”

“Yes, it must be hard work. But consider it a great favour towards your brother.”

“Haha no Bhai, don’t take it wrong. I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m sorry that I can’t do it any quicker.”

“Take your time Farri. I don’t want you to rush through it. You doing that favour for me is a big help. Take care and give my love to the kids.”

9:50 a.m. April 7th 2013

She was in Sujud. Her whole body shook as she cried. She wasn’t weak. She wasn’t weak at all. She was as strong as a woman can be in this society- maybe even more! She didn’t let anything come between her and her kids’ well being. She met every obstacle headstrong. All she wanted in return was to have a peaceful life with her kids and grandkids- as the women of this society are brought up dreaming about. It was never in her slightest imagination that things would take such a bleak turn.

‘Why did You leave me like this?’ she whispered to her Lord, ‘is this how You reward me, pay me for all the sacrifices I made?’

This was not the woman she used to be. Today’s event showed her that she was the one meant to suffer from the beginning. No matter what she did, no matter how strong she became, she was still a weak woman meant to suffer in the hands of the men in her life. And this time that man was her own flesh and blood; her son, Amir.

9:30 p.m. Jan 23rd 2013

“Assalamu alaikum”

“Wa alaikum assalam Bhai.”

“Heard about your father in law’s death.”

“Yes bhai. It was so tragic. He was in such good health. It all happened in a week. The kids are all in a shock. They just can’t accept their Dada is no more with them.”

“Yes, it must be the hardest for kids. Give them some time. They’ll be ok.”

“Yes, Bhai. I had been so busy for the last two weeks, I just couldn’t work on the list Bhai.”

“Of course farri, I wouldn’t even worry about that now.”

“I know Bhai. I just feel so ashamed. You told me to do it such a long time ago and I still couldn’t do it.”

“Well, you will do it eventually right? So don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah Bhai, I’ll do it as soon as the kids get settled”

10:10 a.m. April 7th 2013

She no longer had any hope. Good deeds and sacrifices were of no worth in the eyes of God. She suffered all her life alone with 5-five little kids thinking she was being tested and once she proves herself, it will all be over. She’ll see better days. She didn’t lose hope even when her son couldn’t get a degree from a renowned university because she couldn’t afford it. She didn’t lose hope even when her son couldn’t get a good job because he didn’t have a fancy degree. She didn’t lose hope even when she was forced to live in a rundown apartment which she couldn’t afford to paint. She had hope that good days will come- but not anymore. God didn’t care about her. He had better things to do.

11:00 a.m. Feb 13th 2013

“I got your mail sis. It was such a big help!”

“I’m so sorry it took me so long. All I had to do was make a list of our relatives who were having a rough time here. It wasn’t so hard. I just couldn’t find time.”

“It’s all right. You did do it. That’s all that matters. Now all I have to do is send you the money. You’ll then have to make different envelopes of them and send them to the different addresses you’ve sent me. I’ll let you know how much to whom, Ok?”

“Ok, Bhai. And Bhai, I think it’s a very noble thing you’re doing- keeping record of all the less privileged in the family and sending them money. I think you’re doing an awesome job!”

“Thanks Farri, it’s the least I can do. On my last trip, I saw them living so miserably it broke my heart. I hope this money I send them each month makes up for the things I could’ve done while living there.”

“Yes, I’m sure they’ll all really appreciate it once they get the money.”

10:20 a.m. April 7th 2013

Why did she even think God would actually care about her? She was a nobody. God only cared for people who did big things for Him. She didn’t. All she did was raise five kids and somehow screwed up that too. Wasn’t God there when she was having a hard time feeding the kids with a low paying job as a house help? Didn’t God see how she struggled to get her daughters married off at the right time? Apparently not or He would’ve had some pity on her.

9:30 a.m. March 1st 2013

“Assalamu alaikum”

“Wa alaikum assalam, Farri. I’ve sent the money. You’ll get it in two days time. Then you’ll have to make separate envelopes and deliver the money. I’ve also sent you the email telling how much money to whom.”

“Ok Bhai. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”

“You just don’t know how much I appreciate what you’re doing Farri.”

“No Bhai, I’m doing it for myself. I want to make my contribution in this good work.”

“May Allah (swt) reward you for it.”

[To be continued Insha Allah…]

Legendary Muslimah Success Secrets (Unveiled) – Umm Fadl (ra)

flowerinsnowThe daughter of Harith ibn Hazan and Hind bint Awf, Umm Fadl was the wife of the Prophet’s (sa) uncle Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (ra). Her sisters Maimoona, Salma and Asma bint Umays (ra) were all married in the Prophet’s (sa) family as well.

Today, when raising one or two children has become troublesome for some women, Umm Fadl birthed seven. Her motherhood skills can be best assessed by looking at her children. Her son Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) is one of the greatest scholars of Islam, an authentic Hadeeth narrator, and also the Quran translator. Her son Ubaidullah was a jurist. She is also the foster mother of the Prophet’s grandson Hasan (ra).

Her real name was Lubaba bint Harith, but the birth of her first son Fadl gave her the title of Umm Fadl. She is also the narrator of approximately thirty Ahadeeth.

She did not wait for others to tell her what she must do. She did not worry about what people are going to say.

The Lady of Goodness

Umm Fadl (ra) was the leader of the women of her tribe. She enjoyed great status and honour. When she heard the message of Islam, she readily accepted it. By this virtue, she became the second woman after Khadijah (ra), who embraced Islam. This shows the goodness of her character. She did not wait for others to tell her what she must do. She did not worry about what people are going to say. She followed her heart and accepted the path that Allah (swt) called her towards.

Lessons to draw:

The forerunners are distinctively mentioned in the Quran. They are those who rush to do the good deeds. They are few in number and appear strange to others. But, they do not worry about the people. They are only concerned with pleasing Allah (swt). We too should let go of our procrastination and laziness and hasten towards the path of goodness.

Strength, Courage and Physical Energy

Conversion to Islam brought along many hardships upon her and her family. They belonged to the weakest and the most helpless segment of their society. Gifted by Allah (swt) in valour and physical energy, Umm Fadl used these characteristics for the service of Islam and the defence of the Prophet (sa). She would stand up against Abu Lahb and his wife Umm Jameel, the ferocious enemies of the Prophet (sa).

We can begin by helping out our domestic helps and giving them a direction in life.

Her servant Abu Rafeh narrates an incident after the conquest of Badr. He was sitting in his den making bowls, when Abu Lahb came strolling. Someone shouted, “Abu Sufyan,” and Abu Lahb signalled him to come and share the news of Badr. Abu Sufyan began by telling, how the Muslims overcame them. He shared how horsemen dressed in white would not let anything stand in their way. Hearing this, Abu Rafeh jumped and screamed in joy, “By Allah! They were angels.” Abu Lahb slapped him violently. He got on top of him and started beating. Abu Rafeh, a feeble man, could not fight back. Umm Fadl, who was also sitting in the den, got up and hit Abu Lahb on the head. She said, “Did you consider him weak? Did you attack him because his owner is not here?” Badly bruised and humiliated, Abu Lahb left for home.

Lessons to draw:

We learn that women should reflect on what skills and traits Allah (swt) has blessed them with, and how best they can use them for the sake of Allah (swt). We also learn one must stand up and defend the weak and the oppressed. We can begin by helping out our domestic helps and giving them a direction in life, Insha‘Allah.

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

Discover Yourself: Break the Shackles of Inferiority

fish2Often in shopping malls, restaurants, educational institutions and in family functions, there is this girl who is trying to hide herself from everyone around. With eyes defining both fear and sadness, she wishes to be as beautiful as the girl sitting next to her. She wants to become as fairer, taller and confident as this girl in order to avoid the fear of being compared and the sadness that consequently follows it. But, her wish list goes on as the number of people she comes across in life is countless. These wishes increase each day when she meets someone better than her; her heart aches and she finds herself devastated. This scenario, with a few subjective variations, is something that goes on in many peoples’ lives. Not only girls, but boys too fall prey to inferiority complex. They are letting this plague take over their lives to such an extent that they are willingly stepping into the dungeon of depression. It would be well suited to use the word ‘willingly’ because no child is born with an inferiority complex. It is later in life when he/she learns to make such choices on the basis of various stereotypes the society is following.

Each one of us is blessed abundantly, and for sure none of us is deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings.

Stereotype is Hype

A stereotype is a widely accepted view that is applied to a particular social category and every individual in it- without deeply knowing what that particular individual is like. Beliefs like all dark complexioned people are aesthetically inferior, men are insensitive, people who wear glasses are nerds, all riches are successful and lead a happy life, no Hijabi manages to get good marriage proposals or Hijab wearing women are oppressed are some examples of stereotypes that our societies follow. In short, these are man-made criterion that the human race has set to judge one another. Anybody who fails to satisfy these criteria is considered as “The Unlikable”.

Ever since most of us are put to watch TV as kids, we start feeding it in our minds that beautiful girls are as fair as snow, have impossibly tiny waists, are up to date with the latest fashion, and that they have sweet melodious voices to mesmerize everyone around. Such personas are often made to appear kind hearted, caring, well mannered, successful, smart and above all they are the protagonists. The antagonists are likewise made to appear the opposite.

In case of programs that young boys are subjected to, all the successful stereotypical characters own noticeable cars and latest gadgets, play video games, are clean shaven, possess a super muscular body, at times are rich too and above all manage to attract the opposite gender. In short, such stereotypes define gender roles and criteria for physical attractiveness in most of the existing societies. Unfortunately, racial and physical attractiveness stereotyping does not end in cartoons, but lingers on in most of the dramas, movies, literature, and art and even in commercial advertisements- ultimately forming the society’s mentality. Such stereotypes do change with the passage of time e.g. the ideal women in the early 1600s were voluptuous as compared to today’s ideals. People that don’t possess the admirable physical traits highlighted by some sources tended to alter and are still altering with what Allah (swt) gifted them. But, the part of the society that cannot afford to have alternatives catering their demands, fall prey to depression when subjected to never ending criticism.

Piety is something that any human being can acquire regardless of any physical, racial, gender or class discrimination.

Block Criticism – It’s not for You

Criticism occurs as most of us are in a habit of associating positive personality traits with people who seem physically attractive to us without even knowing them completely. In one of the psychological studies on physical attractiveness, male and female subjects were presented with photographs of some men and women from a college yearbook and were asked to rate the pictured individuals on a number of traits. The photographs had been previously rated as very attractive, average, or unattractive. Compared to the unattractive individuals, the attractive individuals were rated as being more sensitive, kind, interesting, strong, poised, sociable, outgoing, exciting, and sexually warm and responsive. They were also rated as having higher status and as being more likely to get married, to have a successful marriage, and to be happy. The only exception to this rosy portrait was that the more attractive individuals were rated as being slightly, but not significantly, less likely to be good parents than neutral or unattractive individuals (Dion, Berscheid, and Walster, 1972).

Imagine the frustration when one has a lock, but the key is nowhere to be found. But to end this frustration it is obvious that one will look for ways to find the key- the solution to the problem. This would be the rational perspective as throwing the lock away would add more to the list of incomplete tasks which when piled up becomes a burden for the whole life time. And this exactly would end up in regrets, and only regrets. In the same way, there are solutions adhering to which one can get rid of inferiority complexes, and some of them are as follows:

  1. The Real Criterion for Superiority

Unlike the changing criteria of society, Allah (swt) the Almighty has put before mankind only one criterion of superiority in Islam that is piety. Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Hujurat,

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (i.e. one of the Muttaqun.) Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Piety is something that any human being can acquire regardless of any physical, racial, gender or class discrimination. It liberates an individual to such a level where he embraces Allah’s (swt) will. He learns to bow down only before Allah (swt) the Almighty which saves him from bowing down before other peoples’ will. To be more precise, he discovers his true self that connects him with Allah (swt) Almighty, and discards other selves that he had been keeping to please the people. Such ‘selves’ are like masks that are well suited for different desirability criteria set by different people. But, when there remains no need to please the people, since no human was born to do so, one can get rid of these masks and breathe freely in open air. One may become popular by becoming desirable amongst people, but it is only in the remembrance of Allah (swt) that hearts find rest.

  1. Help Yourself by Helping Others

If you had been subjected to criticism because you couldn’t fit in the society’s criteria of beauty or desirability, and intend to bring a revolution in people’s mentality; bring a revolution from within yourself at first. Try not to do to others what you had to face. Sometimes in an attempt to face the harshness of the society we ourselves become harsh in order to fit in it. Along with that pray for the ones who are or were being harsh to you once. Return them with something good and simply follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) who never wished bad for the ones who wished bad for him. It is through forgiveness that you would be able to relieve yourself of the pain you had been carrying all along. Let it go and move ahead with firm belief in Allah (swt) the Almighty. Remember what Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Fussilat,

“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” (Fussilat 41:34)

  1. Acknowledge What You Have Been Blessed with

Most of us don’t know how much we’ve been blessed with ever since our birth; probably because we never took out the time to focus on this aspect of our lives. This happens because most of us are busy noticing what we don’t have, and what others have. For sure if we spend our time thanking Allah (swt) for what we have, we wouldn’t get any time whining for what we don’t have as Allah’s (swt) blessings upon us can never be numbered. Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Ibrahim,

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever).” (Ibrahim 14:34)

Each one of us is blessed abundantly, and for sure none of us is deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings. But, along with that Allah (swt) tests His slaves due to His wisdom that He is aware of, and due to a benefit that He wants His slave to attain. Consider the example of a rich man who has every luxury that any man unlike him would wish for, but despite of the entire treasure, he cannot sleep well at night without taking tranquilizers. On the other hand a farmer with very little income has been blessed with a good night’s sleep. Both have been subjected to certain trials, but they are not deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings at the same time.

  1. Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Do we appreciate doctors, writers, counselors, social workers, Daees, Ulema etc. due to the good looks that they possess? Or is it due to the work that they do? If we’ll manage finding out the answer to this question, we would certainly be introduced to the real meaning of beauty.

  1. Beauty is Culturally Defined

As mentioned earlier, the criteria for physical beauty is different for different cultures. With so many cultures all around, it is difficult to mould one’s self according to anyone. You might end up pleasing a fraction of people, and displeasing another. That is when Islam stands high by bringing in concepts that can be universally acted upon. This is because Allah (swt) the Almighty is aware of everyone’s needs and that is why He revealed to mankind a system that caters each one of us. So, simply bring back what you had lost earlier.

Conclusion

Concluding by focusing all my words to pinpoint one beautiful fact- I would like to say that if you are beautiful by thought, you’ll certainly meet people who are beautiful by heart. For that you don’t need to alter your physical self, but to change your thought. Such bonds that you’ll make will never end up even if you turn old or do not possess the beauty that you once had. To be precise, focus all your energy on doing something that really matters, because the world is becoming short of beauty that comes from the heart – the everlasting beauty. Remember the following Hadeeth for refreshing your Iman:

Abu Hurairah (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Verily, Allah (swt) does not look for your faces and your wealth; but He looks for your heart and for your deeds.” (Muslim)

Heart-Break

Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca / Foter / CC BY

Free Grunge Textures – www.freestock.ca / Foter / CC BY

Yet another serious heart-break,
yet another unexpected blow.
Yet another discrete proof of,
people’s fake and outward show!

Ready to help us all the time,
support they’re willing to offer.
But when the time comes to help,
their words and actions differ!

Expectations are built and broken,
it happens again, and yet again.
One feels dejected and ditched;
friendships are lost without gain!

Words of hope echo in your mind,
their false claims give you tears.
But you, O human, do not stop,
to turn to the “Only” who’s near!

Nothing to lose when you love Allah (swt),
His pleasure wins you all gain.
Benefits in this world and the next,
happiness and rewards, no pain!

Yet we humans fail to be believers,
we find it difficult to rely on Him.
Shaytan wins the battle with us,
chances of not being doomed are slim!

We know all this yet from people,
our needs of love, we associate.
We get hurt but we keep trying,
to fool ourselves till we dissipate.

Then we gather our shattered self,
we bow down to Him in depression.
We renew our faith, and we pledge,
We’ll only yearn for His attention.

A few days pass by until we stick,
to the new promise and resolve.
However, Shaytan doesn’t cease,
we give in to his tricks, we absolve!

Our mind tries to hold us back but,
our heart craves for love and care.
Self-deceived and misguided again,
we turn to the creation in despair!

Knowingly we treat ourselves unkind;
we get involved in people again.
Expecting from others rather than Him,
Utterly dismayed, we shout in pain…..

“Yet another serious heart-break,
yet another unexpected blow.
Yet another discrete proof of,
people’s fake and outward show!”

My Family on Fire!

unityImagine waking up one morning to the horror of finding your loved ones brutally killed. All of them, one by one, were slain like carrots. In every room that you peek – your brothers’, sisters’, parents’ and children’s – you find they’ve been tortured, heartlessly massacred and mutilated. What will be your reaction? Will you sit still? Or stay utterly optimistic that you will be spared? Or you won’t have time to think about them and you’ll just have breakfast and go about your daily routine like you always do? Or will you be cowardly and evasive, giving excuses that you can’t do anything?

If you think this is just a fictitious scenario, you’re wrong! Step out of the shell covering you – ‘my life and my world’ – and look around! A sister in Iraq, a brother in Palestine, a father in Philippines, a mother in Syria, a brother in Afghanistan, a son in Burma, a cousin in Xinjiang (China), another in North Pakistan, a brother in Yemen, sisters in Somalia, friends in Algeria, an aunt in Egypt… and so many others in the persecuted Muslim lands. My family, your family is on fire! Yes, they are our family!

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “In their mutual love, mercy and compassion, the believers are like one body: if one organ complained, the rest of the body develops a fever.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Do you feel for them, pray for them and shed tears for them, like you would have for a family member? Have you done anything practical to aid and support them?

Do give this a thought and draft an action plan, for on the Day of Judgment, you will be answerable before Allah Almighty (swt), the Judge. Do prepare an answer! Today is all you have.

[Poem] Cannot Let the Kingdom Burn

city_of_ruins_by_freelancerart-d2z7ck5

People scared to get out of their homes,

Scared to see what they’re shown,

Numerous people dying each day,

What we’re doing, we’re letting the world decay,

Mothers crying, their children are dead,

People depressing over the life that they’ve led,

We need to help them, they’re our brothers,

We need to shelter our homeless mothers,

Come on now, under the sun,

There’s no use in trying to run,

Let’s go do what must be done,

We can’t let this kingdom burn.

Every drop of human blood is priceless,

We humans are making a disastrous mess,

No matter their religion, colour, or breed,

We must provide them the help they need,

We need to pluck the courage and see,

The sad end of many people’s family,

Come on now, under the sun,

There’s no use in trying to run,

Let’s go do what must be done,

We can’t let this kingdom burn.

The dark side still has not won,

We can’t let this kingdom burn.

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