Shellfish-setting the example for speed technology

nautilusCephalopod shellfish, such as the Squid and the Octopus, have reactive swimming systems based on hydrodynamic propulsion; in other words, the ability to expel water at very high speeds.

Engineers are trying to further develop speed technology by seeking inspiration from these abilities of Cephalopods.

Almighty Allah (swt) created a very special system which cephalopods can use when they need, or want to increase their speed. This system, which engineers have examined with admiration and attention, works perfectly. The reactive swimming systems of these creatures are a result of special body structures Almighty Allah (swt) created, especially for them.

What are the body structures that make Cephalopods special?

There is a thin layer of skin that surrounds the body cavity where the organs are placed called a coat. Cephalopods accumulate water inside them via the muscles found underneath this skin layer, and then they swim by strongly expelling this water. The water taken inside the coat wall is squirted outside with the help of a conically shaped pipe. The working of the system is like that of the kickback principle used in the production of space vehicles- in other words, rocket systems. This force occurs as a result of the cone – like opening, surrounded by many muscles, closing very fast. With the help of the squirting pipe, Cephalopods can swim as they wish, do sudden moves and arc.

From Shellfish’s Water Expulsion Systems to Generators

Assistant professor Kamran Mohseni from the Space Engineering Department at the University of Colorado has designed new generators by getting inspiration from the water expulsion system used by Cephalopods to be able to move under water. These designs help vehicles that will be used under water to maneuver better at low speeds.

Submarines with Safe Maneuvering Mechanisms

It is a must that vehicles used under water have safe maneuvering abilities, especially under difficult conditions. Manned or unmanned- submarines that will have such a mechanism will provide the opportunity to explore in greater detail ecosystems all over the world from underwater volcanoes to the cold depths under the ice pack in polar regions. The hydrodynamic designs of current vehicles make it difficult to maneuver at low speeds and in narrow spaces; and to get close to somewhere or stand in place in open fields. Therefore, the speed of vehicles with such qualities has to be very low.

Medical Services

Capsules equipped with a similar system are expected to help doctors diagnose certain diseases by being placed in the digestive systems of human beings. Thereby, this matchless art of engineering of Almighty Allah (swt) could bring benefits to humanity in the medical field as well.


There is no doubt that Cephalopods cannot create such a detailed mechanism, which human beings can only replicate after months of research, in their own bodies. Almighty Allah (swt), Who creates all things in one piece and in its proper place, created these beings with the most suitable system to protect themselves, and tend for their own needs. In one verse, our Lord Allah (swt) reveals as such,

“Do they not see that We have created for them of what Our Hands have created, the cattle, so that they are their owners?” (YaSin 36:71)

The hummingbirds which remember where they took their nectar

hummng-backThe hummingbirds’ heart beats approximately 1,000 times per minute normally, while during heavy activity, it beats 1,200 times per minute. Because of their extremely high metabolisms, these birds consume an extraordinary amount of energy. They were created with special feeding methods using which they supply themselves with energy.

The hummingbirds’ primary nutrition source is the nectar of flowers. While feeding, they stand in place, quite differently from other birds. Clapping their airfoils at least sixty times per second in a figure-eight configuration, they hover in the air and they take in nectar from the flower without moving their bodies.

Professor Andrew Hurley, who conducts studies as a life sciences behavioural ecologist at Canada’s Letbridge University, and has done extensive research on hummingbirds, discovered a very important property necessary for this being’s survival. His study was published in the magazine, “Journal of Current Biology”.

“’A hummingbird can compensate for the energy which it consumes very fast in the same way. Its alimentation time… in close relationship has great importance in this success. While feeding, it is very important not to lose time and energy by tending to flowers without nectar.’”

Allah (swt) has created a miraculous specialty for hummingbirds’ vital needs. These tiny birds, which in some cases are little bigger than a finger tip remember when and from which flowers they took nectar. English and Canadian scientists arrived at this conclusion by analyzing three male hummingbirds alimentation time from eight artificial flowers in Canada’s Rocheuses Mountains. Nectar was pulled from eight artificial flowers by the hummingbirds under observation, followed by a ten minute break, and nectar was pulled from the other four artificial flowers followed by a twenty minute break. It was observed that the hummingbirds which had pulled nectar followed by a ten minute break returned ten minutes later and those who had pulled nectar followed by a twenty minute break returned twenty minutes later.

 These tiny birds, which in some cases are little bigger than a finger tip remember when and from which flowers they took nectar.

These beings, which are bound to take nourishment in order to obviate their high energy requirements, do so without spending unnecessary time and effort by means of their excellent memory which Allah (swt) bestowed upon them as a great blessing. Although, they take nectar from hundreds of flowers, they remember which flowers they visited, and they do not burden the same flower again. After an interval of time later, the flowers refresh their nectar. It is very important for hummingbirds not to lose time by visiting dried flowers. It is more efficient to remember which flowers have more nectar than other flowers.

Prof. Hurley determined that hummingbirds learn how long it takes for the flowers to replenish their nectar, and thus, never go back to a dried flower. His research brought to light that these birds have the ability to remember the replenishment timing of at least eight flowers. Hurly commented: “Hummingbirds act as they have eight different stopping places in their brains.” (Hurly’s Hummingbird Research Makes Headlines)

Prof. Hurley, who encountered this remarkable memory performance of the hummingbird, decided to conduct a similar research among his class students. As a result of this research he commented that “Instead of nectar, I gave them sugar. Although my students’ brains are 7, 000 times bigger in comparison to a hummingbird, they could not duplicate the same performance as this small bird and they had difficulty in remembering the minutes of giving sugar. (Hurly’s Hummingbird Research Makes Headlines)

This tiny bird which weighs only three grams, and has a brain 7,000 times smaller than that of a human being, is nonetheless capable of remembering the nectar replenishment times of about to eight different flowers; how can this tiny creature remember something which has been demonstrated to cause difficulties for adult humans? Evolutionists cannot answer these kinds of questions with claims of “mutations”.

After all, it is a bird, capable of the conscious recognition that it will die if it uses its energy in a fruitless search for food in order to sustain its high metabolism? And can it then decide to improve its memory as a necessary solution to its problem? How does this tiny bird know exactly how long it takes for a flower to refill its supply of nectar, and furthermore, how does it know exactly which flower to return to and remember its flight pattern back to that flower? How does it differentiate between the different flowers?

The evolutionists, who claim that life arose due to circumstance and mutation, cannot answer these questions. The only answer to these questions is that the hummingbird acts with the inspiration provided to it by our Lord, Almighty Allah (swt)

The evolutionists, who claim that life arose due to circumstance and mutation, cannot answer these questions. The only answer to these questions is that the hummingbird acts with the inspiration provided to it by our Lord, Almighty Allah (swt), Who created all things flawlessly. It is Allah (swt) Who created the hummingbird, and the hummingbird acts with His inspiration in order to live; Allah (swt) has created all the conditions for all living things by which they may not only continue to survive, but thrive. It is Allah (swt) Who gave to the hummingbird the ability to remember when and to which flowers it should return to, and it is our Almighty Lord Who alone possesses the infinite power to create all things in their perfection. Allah (swt) gives life to all things, and sustains all things, from the universe itself, to all the human beings who have ever lived or will live until the Day of Judgement, from the plants, to the tiny hummingbird, in which we can surely see a Sign of His omniscience and omnipotence.

Allah (swt) declared in the Quran that,

“And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.) All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees with Allah).” (Surah Hud 11:6)

Allah (swt) inspires the hummingbirds as to how, when, and from where it will take its sustenance. He creates all the living beings that are on the Earth and in the sky in each moment. Every breath is taken by His permission. He knows every vital process in every living being’s bodies because it is He Who Himself created those processes. All the living beings act at the direction and inspiration of Almighty Allah (swt).

“I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving (living) creature but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the Straight Path (the truth).” (Surah Hud 11:56)

Exclusive Interview with Abu Productive

productive_muslimMohammed Faris (Abu Productive) is the founder of, an online social enterprise dedicated to boosting productivity in the Muslim World.

How did Productive Muslim come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

When I was at University doing my Masters, I used to have two jobs; I was the President of the Student Islamic society and was quite involved with the community. My friends started asking me: “How do you do it? How do you balance it all?”

Even though my friends said this to me, I felt unsatisfied with how I was managing my time, focus, and energy. I knew I could achieve more and do more; hence, I stumbled upon the science of productivity.

After reading some books on productivity, and seeing the practical positive effects these books had on me, I started thinking how best to share this with my friends.

Then on an early November morning in 2007, I was walking to Fajr and the two words “Productive Muslim” came to my mind. They seemed extremely suited for each other and I was excited to launch a blog under that name.

Initially, what were your aims and objectives? And have they changed over time?

Initially, my goal was to take all the latest productivity techniques and ideas that I was learning from the books and articles I was reading, and share them to the Muslim world.

However, a moment of inspiration came to me when I read the Hadeeth: “The early hours are blessed for my Nation” (Tirmidhi) It made me realize that Islam has a lot to teach us about productivity, but there hasn’t been a platform before that linked between Islam and Productivity.

It was truly an honour from Allah (swt) that we were the pioneers of this linkage and it has truly changed my life forever.

What is your vision for Productive Muslim?

By Allah’s (swt) Permission ­ my vision is to inspire every single Muslim and Muslimah out there to be their best versions. They should aspire to be productive citizens of the world; to be balanced individuals from a spiritual, physical, and social perspective.

I pray that this platform becomes the beginning of the Ummah’s long journey back towards success and prosperity by inspiring every individual to do their very best, every single day.

Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything as you have so many things going on at the same time?

This is from Allah (swt) ­ first and foremost. He has blessed me with a wonderful empowered team to do a lot for His sake, and given us technologies that make working collaboratively very easy.

We use a number of communication and virtual collaboration tools such as Slack, Podio, Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Lastpass, to keep everything manageable.

But most importantly, are the team members who have clear objectives and goals and who are self motivated to do their best for Allah’s (swt) sake and the vision of Productive Muslim.

Your team comprises mainly of volunteers. In this day and age, when people want to be paid for every work they do, how do you motivate your team?

Once again ­ this is from Allah (swt). Truly without His help, I would not be able to find the right team member to do the right task in the team.

Some of the key principles we have in the team include:

  1. We treat volunteers as professionals. This means we hold them accountable for results and treat them as if they are being paid. There’s no excuse for being an “unproductive” volunteer on our team.
  2. We have a very strict process to hire volunteers: we carefully select volunteers out of hundreds of applications, and then based on assessment, and after interviewing them, we give them a one month probation to try them out. If they are good, they stay, otherwise we ask them to leave.
  3. We invest in our volunteers: We ensure that volunteers are learning and developing so that their time with us is fruitful and beneficial. Some of our volunteers left Productive Muslim and started their own companies and websites which is wonderful!
  4. We meet regularly with the volunteers: When new volunteers join the team, I have a twenty minute conversation with them. Then they have regular meetings with their team heads and we have quarterly meetings abroad.
  5. Constant feedback: We give constant feedback to our volunteers ­ from the way they work, to the way they behave online and this helps them improve and learn and grow.

The articles on Productive Muslim are Masha’Allah well researched. ­ Can you let us know about your authentication process? As in, who proofreads them for Shariah compliance and to ensure the information is correct?

All the articles written for Productive Muslim go through two rounds of revision- first by the assigned editors and second by our Chief Editor.

Most articles are straightforward and there’s nothing controversial about them. However, if something is controversial or needs Shariah approval, we have access to scholars whom we can contact for advice Alhumdulillah.

What are some of the challenges that you face?

Currently, we’re trying to develop a sustainable business model for ProductiveMuslim that both offers free content as well as paid premium content.

We do not like to be dependent on donations or advertisement; hence, we avoided those two sources.

Insha’Allah, we’re converging on a business model that would satisfy most of our readers soon.

We have often read on your page disparaging comments about your workshops’ charges. In general, people’s attitude is that anything Islamic should also be free. What would be your response to that?

Firstly, there’s a lot of free content on and the paid content is for those who are keen to go a bit deeper with our content.

Secondly, we’re not an “Islamic” knowledge website; we’re a productivity training and consulting company that is based on Islamic principles and values.

Thirdly, in order for ProductiveMuslim to grow and flourish, we need to run a sustainable business. My dream is to hire every ProductiveMuslim volunteer as a full time staff member; and this can only be done if our readers support us by purchasing some of our courses and other products and services.

What are your plans/projects for the future?

We’ve lots of exciting projects coming up including the launch of our new book with Awakening, a new ProductiveMuslim podcast, a new subscription service called Academy+, and many others Insha’Allah.

How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?

We ask people to help us in 7 ways:

  1. Consume our content: articles, videos, worksheets, etc.
  2. Engage with our content: by liking and commenting
  3. Make Dua for us every time you read/view our work
  4. Purchase our products and services.
  5. Let everyone know in your circle about

Any message for the Ummah

My dear Ummah, ­ Islam is waiting for you to be a productive citizen of this world. Rise up from the swamps of laziness and let’s work together to be a Productive Ummah again.

Anything else you would like to share.

Just wanted to share an advice that was given to me before I started ­ Have sincere intentions and work hard. This is the formula for success in Dunya and Akhirah.

I discovered when I covered

Blumen - DekorationI was not ready to wear Abaya at all; it seemed quite outmoded and I loved to doll up.
For me Abaya was not less than a prison. My vision shadowed by the basic concept of stereotypes. The idea of Purdah came up with the image of women who swathed themselves in veils, hiding in the inner most recesses of their homes.

I was not raised in a very religious family, but I had seen my mother being a very composed Muslimah. She is the one who made me learn and understand the basic concept of Deen. But there was and there still is a void- I could feel it.

The feeling of emptiness made me curious for what was lacking.
Hijab was my first step towards a contented and perfect living; there was no inspiration behind- it was just a promise I made to myself and Allah (swt).

Later on, my heart found its way, and I started to gain knowledge; but then Abaya was something I never thought of wearing.

And one day, my mother asked me to wear it, and somehow, I reluctantly agreed. In the beginning, I found it real hard and the worldly imperfections attracted me. It still does attract- but now, I have finally decided not to let this precious thing get away from me ever.

This Quranic verse is my favourite; and it is the only thing which inspires me to be pious for Allah (swt) Who is closely watching us, “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do, and say to believing women that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what appears thereof.” (Surah Nur 24: 30-31)

I feel more confident and secure in my Abaya; it’s like a Harry potter’s cloak to me which makes me disappear in front of all evil eyes and protects my grace. Moreover, Abaya is a real blessing for girls- whether in T-shirt or Pyjamas- just get up wear your Abaya and you are gracefully ready to go.

May Allah (swt) grant us utmost righteousness. Ameen.

Every day is your Birthday!

birthdayThe hailstorm turned into a thunderstorm while I was preparing dinner. I sat on my rocking chair and grabbed a cup of tea. What an exotic combination- hot beverage and cold weather! I was absorbed in my chain of thoughts when she came in- my best-est friend. In spite of our years of friendship, we share some conflicts too, and are still struggling to resolve them and gather on the same page. There she was- lying comfortably on the comfy sofa while gazing here and there.

Me: What are you looking for?

She: Where is birdy?

Me: Must be playing outside with him.

She: Do you remember what is coming up?

Me: What?

She gave me a stern look

Me: Oh ok I get it, charity month.

She shook her head in disgrace.

She: Can you ever in your life, just once,  behave like a normal person?

Me: Now what?

She: Dumbo! Its birdy’s birthday.

Birdy was my one and only daughter born after years of anticipation and was turning one year old that month.

Me: Oh that!

She: Yes that! And, I am here to plan with you and we will throw a mind-blowing party for her.

Me: What is so good about birthday?

She: Don’t be ungrateful; after such long wait and prayers, you got her. Don’t you want to celebrate? What kind of a mother are you?

Me: I have my set of belief.

She: Yes my religiously scholar sister, do share your old dated belief and enlighten our ignorance with your deep knowledge

Me: When we conceive, three things are decided at that very moment. First, life span; second, the gender; and third, whether one will be fortunate or unfortunate. Do you agree?

She: Hmm, so?

Me: Each passing year (for you, each birthday) is marking one year less to your total lifeline. What is there to celebrate about it? Celebrate your approaching death or wasted life?

She: Umm hmm..

Me: I am that kind of a mother who would not waste time, energy, and money on things that are of no importance. Instead, I will put in my efforts to earn for birdy’s life in the hereafter. I would rather invest in the later life which is eternal. I am that kind of a mother, who will try her best to make her daughter earn good deeds and the pleasure of her Rabb so she can celebrate with joy in her grave and hereafter.

She: Okay, but it will not cause any harm in celebrating a little bit? Your parents celebrated yours too.

Me: Birthday celebration is innovation in religion. It was originally celebrated by the non-muslims, and we will be among those whom we used to follow when alive. Islam does not teach us any of these rituals and celebrations.

And, it is not necessary to follow the same path of ignorance that we had once lived. We did celebrate birthdays when we were unaware.

She: I agree. But what will birdy think when she would see birthday celebrations of other kids? She will feel bad.

Me: Imagine what I now say. Consider yourself a kid and your birth date is approaching. You are waiting for the day when you are treated special. When you cut a cake, you receive gifts and privileges. The other kids around are not getting anything. They look towards you and crave to be in your place. They want to feel special and want those fancy wrapped gifts too. But they don’t. Will you share your presents and offer the same place of yours to be?

She: No not at all. Kids are kids. Why they would let other kids step in their zone of specialness and undivided attention.

Me: Exactly my point. Through this we are instilling selfishness in them. It is the time when every birthday child is just thinking about himself.

She: So what else can we do? We can’t have same date for every kid around?

Me: We can celebrate our two big festivals with fervour i.e. our Eid. We can décor our homes and invite guests and have food and fun. It is the right time to exchange gifts, and to create sense of communism and unity. Shared happiness, and shared love. It will be more encouraging if we present them with board games which require more than one player. This way all will be united.

She: Wow, I never thought on these lines. You nailed it sister.

This concluded our discussion and with this discussion, I finally got one conflict down between us. Smilingly I looked outside the window and I realized that continuous water drops can make a hole in a stone. Can’t we penetrate in ones heart with softness yet strong determination and commitment? When there is a will, there is a way.

Miracle of Allah: Tolerance of our body’s defense system

photogallery-human-body-11-fullThe elements of the defense system fight against the enemies that will harm the body just like ordered and disciplined soldiers. First, the soldiers that render the enemies ineffective by swallowing them (known as phagocytes) come to the battlefield. Sometimes however, the battlefield conditions overwhelm the abilities of these soldiers; then other soldiers (known as macrophages) step in. This causes a “situation alert” to occur in the target area and an army of soldiers (called helper T cells) is called to the battlefield.

However, during this struggle, a miracle takes place. Even though the body is always on the alert to fight against the organisms that can cause it harm, it allows millions of other types of bacteria to live in some organs. For example, it is known that 80-eighty species of microorganisms live in the mouth, throat and the tonsils. According to research, there are 200-two hundred organism species which keep our bodies constantly healthy. The reason that our defense system does not attack these organisms is that these are vital for tolerance of the defense system.

T cells are the fighter white blood cells of our body. They fight against everything harmful to the body, and they eliminate hazardous bacteria and molecules out of our body. However, during the clean up they do not harm the body’s healthy tissues and bacteria beneficial to the body.

Every cell has an identification system to introduce itself, that we call receptors. Fighter T cells can make this distinction by recognizing the receptors in all other cells, and they ignore the cells the body needs. This quality of the defense system is called “tolerance.”

This situation is actually a great miracle because the defense system is able to distinguish thousands of different proteins from one another.

 This situation is actually a great miracle because the defense system is able to distinguish thousands of different proteins from one another.

The incredible cell drill

So, how did cells acquire a system that allows them to distinguish such different structures from one another?

It is, of course, impossible for coincidences to account for the ability to choose, which requires characteristics such as knowledge, consciousness and intelligence. There is no doubt that the defense system acts with the inspiration of Almighty Allah (swt) as revealed in the verse, “hearkening to its Lord as it is bound to do!” (Al-Inshiqaq, 2)

The defense system that we have been speaking of causes another very miraculous event. The pancreas is sheltered from the rest of the body. Therefore, the white blood cells do not directly work together with pancreatic cells. Instead, some intermediary cells interface with white blood cells and introduce the pancreas. In order to do this, these cells put on a mask that displays the antigens of their normal neighbours, thus suppress the immune system and keep it in a quiet and calm state. These are called “dendritic cells.”

T cells recognize these antigens, and learn not to become alarmed by the pancreatic cells and attack this organ.

As it is clear from this example  that qualities like developing new methods to recognize one another, agreeing with one another, making plans and moving with a perfect organization according to these plans cannot be expected from defense cells and a mere organ. There is no doubt that even a community of human beings couldn’t move in such a flawless synchronicity, and accomplish what needs to be done without failing, forgetting, making a mistake or causing confusion.

There is only one definite truth that must be accepted here and that is- all cells, just like everything else in nature, are created specially by Allah (swt), Who is the Owner of an infinite power, knowledge and intelligence.

“… He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything” (Al-An’am 6:101)

Another organ, which the defense system tolerates, is the intestines. Even though, our general body is covered with very detailed defensive weapons, millions of bacteria nonetheless continue to survive in our intestines because the food we eat and the fluids we drink are digested by the bacteria in our small intestines. In addition, these bacteria provide a natural method of protection as they prevent the reproduction of other bacteria that could harm the body; hence, defense cells cooperate with these bacteria that prove beneficial for the body. Even though, there is the possibility of activating an immune system response, and starting a war in the intestines- T cells, somehow, ignore the bacteria in the small intestine and prevent this.

So, how do defense cells tolerate these bacteria?

Cells’ training- that is amazing!

In a research paper published in Nature Immunology journal, investigators led by Shannon Turley of Harvard Medical School have found that the defense system has a tolerance mechanism that was previously unknown. According to this, the lymph nodes are like strategic encampments that surround the whole body. The white blood cells pull the antigens to the lymph nodes and fight them.

However, the lymph nodes found in the intestines are like a training center more than a strategic encampment. The basic cells found there train the T cells, which are the soldiers of our defense system, about behaving in an appropriate and tolerant manner toward these uninvited, yet friendly guests. It cannot be explained away that such a system in this part of the body could have come into existence by coincidences. Shannon Turley states her excitement as such: “It’s obvious that T cells must be able to ignore — or become ‘tolerized’ to — normal intestinal tissue. … But it has been unclear how dendritic cells, which are extremely sensitive to microbial agents such as bacteria, teach T cells to resist attacking healthy intestinal cells.” Unconscious cells do not have the intelligence, consciousness and ability to make it possible to “teach” a biological process to one another. There is no doubt that a system, which even the most intelligent researchers and scientists cannot comprehend, being placed inside a cell with no ability to think and consider things for itself has a very special meaning.

Allah (swt) created the defense system with impeccable equipment

With the invention of the microscope some 250 years ago, scientists revealed that we live side by side with numerous tiny organisms invisible to the naked eye. Moreover, these organisms were everywhere, from the air we breathe to the water we drink; from everything we touch to the surface of our own bodies. In addition, these organisms frequently enter inside the body. The presence of this enemy was detected 250 years ago. However, many of the secrets of the “defense system” that fights that enemy so effectively are still not completely understood today.

The defense system recognizes and distinguishes viruses and bacteria that are harmful to it from friendly organisms. The way that defense cells- with no mind or brain- can accomplish this, is a reflection of the matchless Creation of Allah (swt), the Lord of infinite knowledge, seen in a small cell. It is revealed that Allah’s (swt) infinite knowledge encompasses all.

“…And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

Miracles of the Quran: The structure of cartilage mentioned in the Qur’an

h9991920_001Information about the stages of human development inside the mother’s womb is provided in the verses of the Quran- Like it is said that the bones form first in the womb, muscles then appear and surround these bones,

“Then We made the Nutfah into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:14)

Until recently, the bones and muscles were thought to develop together inside the womb. However, advances in the science of embryology- which studies development inside the womb- have revealed that this is incorrect; and the description in the Quran is absolutely correct. Microscopic examination also shows that development in the womb takes place exactly in line with the description in verses. Cartilage forms first in the embryo after which this cartilage tissue turns into bone. Subsequently, muscle cells are selected from the tissue around the bones, and come together around them. Hence, the findings of modern embryology are in complete agreement with the stages of human development revealed in the Quran.

Cartilage is one of the proofs of Allah’s (swt) matchless creation. It is an especially created and vitally important structure. Every glorious detail in cartilage has a structure far too perfect to be capable of reproduction by human hands. By means of the presence of this flawless structure, people never need to reflect on how the functions of the spinal cord and joints will come into being; or on how their airways must always be kept open in order for them to breathe. This perfect creation cartilage reveals one very small part of our Almighty Lord’s sublime creative artistry. As Almighty Allah (swt) says in one verse,

“Such is Allah, your Lord! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Creator of all things. So worship Him (Alone), and He is the Wakil (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian, etc.) over all things.” (Al-An’am 6:102)

Examples of Allah’s (swt) sublime creation, such as cartilage, are all means whereby people can turn to Allah (swt), and appreciate His might and greatness; and give thanks to Allah (swt), Who bestows their immaculate bodies, with all its many superior features, of which they may or may not be aware.

Why do bad things happen?

question mark with speech bubles, vector on the abstract backgroundAfter preparing for lunch and dinner, and cleaning up, I was fully tired.

I grabbed my eleven month old along with three years old and entered the room to find a messy sheet; a room with toys scattered everywhere. How exhausted I was!

I was thinking how to fold the huge pile of clothes lying in a corner.

Cell beeps…

It was a message saying that there was an earth quake all over Pakistan.

Fear shook me off; some sensations ran down my spine and my legs felt so weak.

I realized that I had postponed my Dhuhr prayer to complete the house chores.

In anguish and awe, I rushed to perform Wudu and prayed. The prayer was different from the ones before. As if the earthquake had shaken me away from my endorsed life full with materialism and worldly affairs.

One thing occupied my mind, what if I die under the rubble of my fallen house? What will I be taking with me to my grave? Have I prepared enough? Am I satisfied with standing in front of Allah (swt)?  The answers were surely not affirmative.

We believe that we are safe. It’s happening with the rest of our country, and in farfetched areas. It cannot touch us, nor can it harm us, neither can it leave us devastated.

Whenever I think of the Makkah crane crash, it leaves me perplexed and astonished. As in my perception, nothing bad can happen to good people- especially not in the holy place like Haram; and moreover, not when performing Tawaf or offering prayers. So why does it happen? Why it happened to them? Were they not pious? Why the blessings (Rehma) of Allah (swt) did not wrap them safe and sound?

When a calamity strikes, we often comment in the shade of our distorted belief. For instance- a lady dies of fatal illness with severe pain; we say it is because Allah (swt) is angry at her as she was horrible towards her mother. A kid fell off the stairs; we say because he did not listen to his father’s plead to finish his homework.

So why do bad things happen?

Allah’s (swt) Plan

It is Allah’s (swt) Plan to test the believers- to test the strength of their faith and belief.

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)

The soul detox

Allah (swt) wants to clean your bad side and detox your soul.

 And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” (Ash-Shura 42:30)

 A reminder

Hardship and adversity are also reminders for people who tend to take things for granted and forget all of Allah’s (swt) blessing- Humans are ungrateful by nature.

And when We show favour to man, he withdraws and turns away, but when evil touches him, then he has recourse to long supplications.” (Fussilat 41:51)

Wake-up call

We are overly absorbed in the worldly affairs and competing to excel in the worldly matters.

But when He delivered them, behold! They rebel (disobey Allah) in the earth wrongfully. O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allah) is only against your ownselves, – a brief enjoyment of this worldly life, then (in the end) unto Us is your return, and We shall inform you that which you used to do.” (Yunus 10:23)

Reliance is only on Allah (swt)

We often forget Allah’s (swt) authority; hence we turn to other resources and people for support and help. Nothing happens without His will. He says be and it is. We are powerless and submissive.

O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of all praise.” (Fatir 35:15)

Things to remember when a calamity hits you down

  • Allah (swt) is not punishing you; its devil’s trick to discourage and distract you.
  • Be patient over what befalls you.
  • Give charity (Sadaqah) as much as you can.
  • [9:103] take from their money a ‘sadaqa’ (charity) to purify and sanctify them. And encourage them, for your encouragement reassures them. God is Hearer, Omniscient.
  • Al-Musibah is term to hit where it is supposed to be. There is no chain of cause and effect. All incidents are individual.
  • Be hopeful as it is said in Surah Baqarah, congratulate the patient ones (Sabireen). Reward is with Allah- Jannah!


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10 Tips of safe Pilgrimage with kids

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

Visiting the Holy lands of Makkah and Madinah is the dream of every Muslim; but with toddlers and babies, it can become a nerve wrenching and tiresome experience.

A toddler who needs constant attention and care makes the rituals difficult to perform with heart and soul; and a little can change into a frightening experience (as often witnessed).

Following are the few precautions that would make the pilgrimage safe, sound and a heartfelt experience.

  1. Make the identity cards of every kid displaying name, father’s name, hotel’s name and phone number in bold. Kids should not forget to wear it every time they are out.
  2. Only keep the necessary luggage with you. Use the backpacks, or hand carries as they are easier to manage.
  3. Ahram is not mandatory for kids; but if they clad them, be sure it is not over fitted or loose, as it will greatly irritate the child. Try wearing it at home first. Also tell them the necessities of it. Otherwise, clad them in simple and decent clothes.
  4. Medicines and liniments including Anti-histamines, Calpol, Thermometer, ORS should be kept handy in the luggage.
  5. Goggles and moisturizing lotion should be worn whenever outside- as the weather is usually hot in Arab countries.
  6. A wrist band or a chest jacket must be tied by the mother and the kid at the time of prayers- as this is usually the time the kids get misplaced.
  7. Avoid going to rush area with the kids as it will misbalance you and can result in a fall.
  8. A handy bag with extra baby food, baby wipes, diapers, nappy rash cream, clothes, mosquito repellant lotion should be kept every time.
  9. Be calm and hassle free. Kids usually take a lot of time doing little things. Rotate turns with your hubby while performing rituals like Tawaf and Sai; or hire a wheelchair to let the kids sit on them.
  10. Always mention a union point i.e. a common meeting place- in case anyone gets can reach to that point easily.

Wishing you all a safe and fulfilling journey.

The Ideal Home

vancouver_house_sizeWhat makes a perfect home? Must it be designed and landscaped by a renowned architect and interior decorated in line with the principles of Feng Shui? Should it be located in idyllic surroundings or must it be in an upscale suburb with easy accessibility to health and education facilities?

The man, as Ameer of the family, must provide for a suitable accommodation for his family. Physical comfort, social status and budget constraints dictate our choices, but as a Muslim, we need to consider the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah when building our home and laying the foundations of a harmonious family life and thereby a stable society. As a wise saying goes: “A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.”

Proximity to the Mosque

We tend to consider our physical and emotional well-being when locating a house, ignoring our spiritual needs. For a Muslim household, proximity to a mosque where the Imam has a sound knowledge and understanding of Islam is essential. The male members of the house must perform obligatory Salah in the mosque; this interaction with fellow Muslims of the neighbourhood leads to strengthening of the bonds of brotherhood and unity. Whatever they learn from the mosque and the Khutbah of the Imam, they are likely to convey and implement amongst their family. Living away from a mosque puts our Deen in danger of succumbing to the numerous Fitnah of this world. Likewise, given the current situation of the Muslim world, a misguided prayer leader is likely to lead astray the youth of his neighbourhood towards incorrect ideologies.

Good Neighbours

This is often difficult to judge, but it is important to choose a locality that is well organized and maintained and where the families seem educated and interact with each other. The community in which your family will mingle will greatly influence their speech, interests and manners. Neighbours can be a source of great comfort and support, especially in times of need. According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), one of the blessings (Khair) of this life is a good neighbour.

Internal Harmony

Physical comfort and beauty are never everlasting, but the effects of strong Iman on our personal relationships and ensuing good deeds can be felt across time and generations. A house can never be a home- if it is not a source of love, comfort and solace to its dwellers. As Ameer, the man must endeavour to be an exemplary husband and father. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)  Avoid parental confrontation in front of the children to your utmost, since it undermines the children’s self confidence; and shatters their trust in you to protect and nurture them; besides setting a bad example of argumentation and display of temper.

The Ameer is also answerable to Allah (swt) for those placed in his care and trust. He is enjoined to spend for their Halal needs and wants. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best Dinar is the one a man spends on his dependants.”(Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) was gentle and loving not only towards his wife and children, but also towards his relatives, his in-laws and his slaves. From the Seerah of the Prophet (sa), we find countless incidents where people not only altered their behaviour and changed their habits, but also accepted Islam due to his patience, leniency and sympathy towards them. As the Ameer of the family, the man should be easily approachable; willing to listen to the daily achievements and problems of his family in a way that helps build a relationship of mutual trust and affection. He should ‘use soft words but hard arguments’ to convince and cajole his family.  Communicate and play with your family- this was what the Prophet (sa) did with his wives and children.

Spiritual Nourishment

The glittering world beckons us and leads us astray without us even realizing how far we have deviated. Take out time for your family and establish routines that build and sustain your Iman and beliefs. The most important is to develop a routine for congregational prayers even at home. Set aside one time when your entire family prays together. Children learn by example- and especially, in places like Pakistan where women rarely, if ever, pray at the mosque- it teaches the rules and etiquettes of praying in congregation. There is a  family that prays Fajr together. And then on a turn basis, each child is assigned learning and then explaining a Hadeeth. They learn a Dua each week, with the elder children helping the younger ones learn; and during holidays, they are encouraged to prepare and deliver short sermons.

The Prophet (sa) has said that the best thing a man can give his children is to teach them good manners; and one of the most enjoyable ways of doing this is by story-telling. Sharing Ahadeeth and success stories of the Prophets, his companions, and other eminent Muslim men and women will help inspire and motivate impressionable minds. Also, it will be a wonderful means of encouraging them to question, and share their own ideas and experiences. Read extensively and encourage your entire family to do so too. Remember, a book is a man’s best friend- especially if he is hemmed in by people who can act as negative influences.

Likewise, it is the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah for women to have a weekly religious gathering at their own houses. This helps bond the community and brings the Barakah of knowledge to each house, for it is the women who play pivotal role in educating and character building of children.

Social Interaction

One of the most common problems of households is the unchecked frequency of visitors. As Ameer, you may find it difficult to achieve the fine balance between being hospitable and maintaining your family’s privacy and routine. Convince your wife to limit socialization so that her own responsibilities and pursuits are not affected. Most importantly, though, is the need to discourage non-Mehram male relatives and friends from visiting your family in your absence. Try to deal with the servicemen who come to your door yourself; and try to set appointments for maintenance or repair at a time when, either you or your grown up son, are home to interact with them yourself.

TV is The Virus

The television has become more than just an entertainment tool. It acts as a babysitter, masterchef, an opinion-maker, and tends to occupy a central position in our family rooms and bedrooms. Assert yourself as Ameer, and monitor what and how long everyone watches the television. Break your one bad habit of ‘unwinding’ in front of the idiot box. Twenty-four hour news and endless talk shows on politics, and current affairs rarely offer anything a half hour perusal of newspapers will not divulge. Encourage your family to seek entertainment through outdoor sports in the evenings if possible, and through board games. If you can’t chuck out the cable, then at least limit the screen time.

The iFad

The internet, smart phones and other handheld devices- such as the iPad and PSP are ‘terminators’ of family peace and unity.  I have often noticed at family gatherings that each individual is wrapped in his or her own ‘bubble’ of communication gadgetry. Fingers itch to keep checking that message or sharing statuses. In fact, family members living in the same house often interact via social media, instead of sharing anecdotes and exchanging news or thrashing out arguments in person. Face-to-face interaction lets us judge, and thereby, alter our communication through non-verbal signals too, and this often prevents misunderstandings. Our physical beings are a gift from Allah (swt); and the human ability to talk is one of His greatest signs. But successive generations are losing the art of conversation, and also their memory skills because of greater reliance on artificial intelligence.

Hence, curtail the use of all such gadgets yourself and lead by example. Set aside time slots for internet surfing, and carefully monitor your child’s usage. Discourage the use of laptops in bedrooms, and think hard before handing over a smart phone or iPod to your child. Peer pressure does create problems, but try to develop a social circle where you socialize with like-minded families.


Finally, we need to remind ourselves that children are a trust from Allah (swt).  In the Quran we have been commanded to save ourselves and our families from Hellfire; and the best way of ensuring this is by trying to provide an ideal Muslim home.

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

‘The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.’- Jean Paul Richter

(Adapted from a Peace TV lecture by Abdul Azeez Umari Madani)

Taking Back Our Narrative

peopletalkingThe winter of 2013 was an eventful one for me. As a second year medical student from Pakistan, I had the opportunity to visit the United States for a research elective at a university there. There were many lessons learnt and memories made, but there is one that has especially resonated with me.

As I was hurrying back from lunch to the office one day, I had trouble with the key.  A lady kindly offered to help. I had bumped into her before and exchanged a few greetings. However, that day after the door finally managed to get unlocked, she turned to me and said, “So listen, I have been meaning to ask you….why do you cover your head?”

I was, in all honestly, taken aback. But I also noticed something else. The tone she had used was neither condescending nor pitying. In fact it was one of curiosity.

And, it made a difference.

My answer was simple. I told her it was a part of my religion (Islam), which in turn, was part of my identity. I also mentioned that it had been my choice and wasn’t something I did simply because of tradition. I couldn’t explain much or launch into a detailed explanation out there in the hallway, but she seemed satisfied with the little details I did give; and she gave me no less than a positive response saying she thought it was a beautiful concept.

While the Hijab appears to be a central theme in the above anecdote, I want to highlight an aspect that has nothing to do with covering my head: harmony amongst people and within a society.

She chose to listen to my narrative, simple as it was, over whatever pre-conceived notions she may have had or any assumptions that people usually make regarding the Hijab.

The lady chose to ask me why I did something that she had seen few people do in her homeland, when she saw that it clearly highlighted that I was a foreigner and a Muslim; she did what few people think of doing, albeit unconsciously: she gave me a voice. She chose to listen to my narrative, simple as it was, over whatever pre-conceived notions she may have had or any assumptions that people usually make regarding the Hijab. She chose to get to know me rather than the version of me that society most commonly constructs (i.e. just another oppressed Muslim being weighed down by her religion).

Being extremely busy, I barely had a chance to see her again, but she taught me one of the most important lessons I could have learnt as a human being: sometimes in order to get to know people and give them a voice, all you have to do is throw aside whatever you think you know, whatever assumptions you have and just listen. Listen to why some people cover their heads. Listen to why some don’t. Listen to why people are in tune with their religion. Listen to why others are not. Listen to why some seem to be enjoying their lives to the fullest. Listen to why others are not.  Listen and understand these differences instead of treating them like the elephant in the room.

I would not like it for myself that others make an opinion about me without ever meeting me, based on what they may have heard from other people. And, the least I can do is offer others the same courtesy and treat them the way I would like to be treated.

Our Beloved Prophet (sa) understood this more than anyone else, and enjoined it by saying in his famous Hadeeth, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

Can we ever appreciate the wisdom of this beautiful Hadeeth enough? As Muslims we are taught not only to refrain from negative assumptions, but also to speak good of others; yet, every day, we seem to be doing the opposite.

In Surah Ar-Rahman, Allah (swt) mentions how He, in his infinite Mercy, taught man to speak. Physically speaking, it is pretty amazing how Allah (swt) did this, how He fashioned the vocal cords inside of us. I got the opportunity to view them once, when I got to observe an anesthetist as she intubated a patient. Intubation requires for a tube to be fitted down the throat into the trachea (windpipe) after sedation is achieved. And, as the anesthetist slid the laryngoscope in for visualization, I got to stand right beside her and view the inside of the throat. The tube moved in effortlessly, coming to a stop as they reached the windpipe. From my angle, I could view the vocal cords. And with the light of the laryngoscope, these small white cords appeared almost to glisten.

Here is the reality. Right in the middle of red, wet, tissue that is in our throats these glistening white cords stand out like pearls. They are tiny- you would hardly think they were created for a purpose. But, their Maker knew where to place them exactly so that they could come together to produce sound, the very essence of communication, of how we get to know each other. And these tiny, lovely pearl-like cords are there in the throats of every human being, delivering the purpose according to the way they are used. They are there in the neck of a tyrant as he spews out hate; they are there in the victim as he cries for mercy. They are there for the adult who may espouse some wisdom, for the child as he murmurs and cries, for the oppressor and the oppressed.

And these tiny, lovely pearl-like cords are there in the throats of every human being, delivering the purpose according to the way they are used.

These cords are in harmony with one another. But when we abuse this incredible power we have been given, we lose that harmony. And this loss can result in the ugliest of manifestations….broken homes, broken families, even broken nations. Hence, if we really want change, let’s start from here. Let’s beautify our speech. Let us be more understanding and considerate of others. Let us take back our narrative together, as a human race.

Reflections on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Riba

Interest-RibaRiba or interest is the term that every sane adult living in this age is well-aware of; it is a significant matter of debate in the Islamic societies due to the fact that it has been prohibited strictly in the Quranic laws. It must be understood vividly that raison d’être of abolition of interest is not only the exploitation but actually the consequences brought about by this. Jurists of all times agree upon the definition of Riba as follows:

When a transaction occurs between two parties, and an asset that may include commodity, currency, or even shares of a company are traded with an asset of the same quality in different quantities, the inequality in quantities exchanged is taken as Riba, which is prohibited in the Quran.

The Quran mentions: “Those who eat Riba (usury) will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan (Satan) leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba (usury),” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury). So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba (usury) shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns [to Riba (usury)], such are the dwellers of the Fire – they will abide therein.” (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

“Allah will destroy Riba (usury) and will give increase for Sadaqat (deeds of charity, alms, etc.) And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners.” (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

“O you who believe! Eat not Riba (usury) doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful.” (Al-Imran 3:130)

“And their taking of Riba (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it and their devouring of men’s substance wrongfully (bribery, etc.). And We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:161)

History of Riba in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

The debate over whether interest is as same as Riba has been ongoing in Pakistan since 1969 when the State Bank of Pakistan led an enquiry; the  Islamic Advisory Council in its December 1969 session held in Dhaka ruled out the interest on bank loans and prize bonds as Riba. The council advised for a Committee to be formulated in order to work towards founding an interest-free economy. Later on, Article 37 of the constitution of Pakistan in 1973 stipulated interest-removal as the official responsibility of the Government. Further, intense research work was carried out under President Zia-ul-Haq by the Islamic Ideology Council to establish transactions which were free from interest.

Dr. Israr Ahmed began his campaigning for the ban on Riba in 1980. He attempted a great struggle to make the report formulated by Islamic Ideology Council appear in public. All the attempts from activists led the government to formulate the Federal Shariat Court but it was kept out of financial matters, deeming it useless in the matter. And as the alternatives to interest, mark-up schemes were introduced, which Ulema rightly termed as “old wine of interest being marketed in new.”

On November 14 1991, Federal Shariat Court equalized interest on bank loans as Riba and thus Pakistan became the first Islamic nation to declare bank loans as Riba. However quite ironically, this judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court for seven years and later nullified in the review carried out in 2002. The Court asked the Shariah Court to revisit this judgement, providing them with guidance and control. The passage of twelve years led to no concrete judgement being made by the Shariah Court.

Despite these historical affairs, it must be kept in mind that since Pakistan is still following the Constitution formulated in 1973, there cannot be any exception for the Article 38 that stated: “The State shall eliminate riba as early as possible”.

Current Decision Regarding Dealings of Riba

The crux of the matter is to discuss the absurd by-law passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 6th, 2015, where Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani ruled out that those who are not willing to deal with interest shouldn’t deal with it, while the others dealing with it will be questioned by Allah.

This decision led to a public outcry in the country. The law is being ridiculed and denied openly on the social media. However, the most active party involved in the offense is Tanzeem-e-Islami which carried out a peaceful demonstration against the law. Shujjauddin Shaukh, a prominent member of the Tanzeem, has appealed to other Islamic political parties to support him in his mission to render this by-law inoperable.

He debates over the issue, quite rightly pointing out that Pakistan was supposed to be an Islamic state which makes it regulatory for the law-enforcers to stick adamantly upon the Islamic laws. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 promised to align all laws under the Quranic injunctions and no deviance towards the laws against will of Allah and His Prophet (sa).

Ironically, the Indian armies wait for a showdown at the borders dreaming to undervalue the Pakistan Army; the Muslim leaders in the Islamic state are preparing clever ploys to carry out a war with Allah and His Messenger (sa). Allah declares in the Quran:

“And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums).” (Al-Baqarah 2:279)

The deprived condition of Pakistan can hardly be revamped unless the affairs with the Divine Constitution are settled. Shujjauddin Shaikh earnestly asks the political leaders and Chief-of-Army-Staff to join their mission and abolish this preposterous law.

It is time for political leaders and religious scholars to stand united against un-constitutional elements disapproved inexorably by Allah and His Messenger (SA).

Hajj 2015 – the Good I Witnessed


It might be startling for many to believe that there was any good in Hajj 2015, especially after the unfortunate tragedies of the crane crash and Mina stampede. May Allah swt accept the Shahadah (martyrdom) of those who lost their lives. But I was there performing my very first pilgrimage to Bait-ul-Allah. It was an ethereal experience.

The system in place to manage 30 lac pilgrims was quite impressive. The exits and entrances to Masjid al Haram were efficiently monitored to prevent any crowd surges. Policemen were lined up with spray bottles filled with cold water, ready to spray at any face that wanted respite from the heat. Free potable water and juice cartons were distributed to weary Hajis trudging on foot. Free bus rides were arranged from Khana-e-Kaabah to other parts of the city from where one could either walk home or hail a cab. Eager volunteers were present to guide you to your destination sometimes in sign language if you didn’t speak Arabic. Public toilets were present after every few meters and were considerably usable for Wudu and to answer the call of nature.

And who can forget the call of the beautiful Adhan soring high in the Haram. It raised the hair on one’s back, lifted the lowest of Imans, brought tears to eyes blurring the black majestic Kabah ahead. Each worshipper poured his heart out to his Rabb. Everyone had a love story of his own to narrate. Their hands stretched out yearning for the Lord’s Mercy and Love. It was the moment. All else faded away in the background.

Hajj was truly a picture of supreme brotherhood. Muslims from all continents and of every colour praying in one direction, to one God in one language.  We shared food, water, our prayer mats and smiles. We tried conversing in sign language, broken English and wavering Arabic. We pushed wheel chairs of complete strangers and shared taxi rides with them too.

Personally three things helped me immensely. I embarked on the pilgrimage with my husband with zero expectations. I realized that if I was a guest of Allah (swt) I had to trust and respect His hospitality. This meant no complaining and exhibiting patience. And believe me this submission to Allah (swt) worked wonders. We were always pleasantly surprised since we expected nothing.

Hajj is not a vacation. If you want to go on a holiday you should trek to Bali or Dubai maybe. Hajj is serious worship

Secondly offering Sadqah every day in the morning reassured our faith. Be it the cleaners at the Haram or old and frail Hajis, we felt a sense of tranquility to be able to help the lesser privileged. In return we asked of Allah’s (swt) pleasure and mercy in our affairs.

Lastly the prayer of Ibrahim (as) “Husbiy allaha wanaimal wakeel” was a fort against every forwarding trouble in sight. He recited these words when he was thrown into the fire by King Namrood. Allah (swt) had commanded the fire to cool down and offer safety to prophet Ibrahim instead and he walked away unhurt. Hence I relied on the same prayer for the slightest of issues possible. Be it long queues, day’s heat, big crowds, wait for the cab, chance to enter the Haram gates, possibility of Tawaf, etc.

On a closing note, Hajj is not a vacation. If you want to go on a holiday you should trek to Bali or Dubai maybe. Hajj is serious worship. It is meant for the ones who want to grow spiritually and are ready to offer sacrifices of their everyday comforts and conveniences. It’s not for those who think that since they are wealthy enough they should embark on it as they are an eligible candidate for it. If we wish to have our entire life’s sins wiped out, we will have to pay some price.

A very highly recommended exercise for those who wish to perform Hajj next year would be to read a good book on the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah

A very highly recommended exercise for those who wish to perform Hajj next year would be to read a good book on the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah right before they advance for their pilgrimage. It will help them greatly appreciate the lofty sacrifices Muhammad (sa) made for us. At Hajj we could pray anywhere in the Haram, perform as many Tawaf as possible in the ocean of other pilgrims, behold the captivating sight of the breathless Kabah. But Prophet (sa) was beaten at the same place so many times by the disbelievers of Makkah in the first thirteen years of his prophethood for simply offering Salah on the same grounds. And finally he was driven out of the city.

We can today peacefully go for Hajj and worship lovingly all we can. The inconveniences we face in this journey should not even be mentioned if we remember what our Prophet (sa) bore in the way of Allah (swt).

“By the fig, and the olive. By Mount Sinai. By this city of security (Makkah).” (Surat  at- tin 95:1-3)

Interview with Ustadh Kashif Naseem Dilkusha

azan-logoKashif Naseem Dilkusha is the founding member, lead instructor and project head of Azan. His passion for teaching is evident in his energetic approach and engaging style. He also heads an NGO, Mushkeeza, and is a valuable member of his family business setup. At present, Usdath Kashif is involved in various Dawah projects and activities held in Karachi, some of which include- LiveDeen and the delivery of Friday Khutbahs and lectures at numerous Masajid and other religious social gatherings. His articles have been published on

1.      What is it about Islam that attracts a young man or woman today?

Islam is not only about faith; it is a complete and comprehensive way of life leading to a balanced way of living. Islam is a comprehensive system for all life affairs and human behaviour.

Youth is the prime time of your life; it is very precious to Allah (swt). Islam specifically addresses the youth, urging them to make the best use of this valuable period of their life.

Allah (swt) promises extra reward for the youth, if they are sincerely devoted to Islam. For example, the Prophet (sa) said that on the Day of Judgement, there will be seven types of people to whom Allah (swt) will give shade. As we all know, on the Day of Judgement, there will be no shade except for Allah’s (swt) shade. From amongst the seven groups who will have shade on that Day? One group is of those who spent their youth in the worship of Allah (swt). (Bukhari)

Islam puts a lot of significance on the grooming of our youth.

A few features that attract the youth of today to Islam are:

  1. The hope Islam gives.
  2. The fact that Islam is a permissive Faith. It allows us to have fun within some parameters.
  3. The fact that that there is no hierarchy. The care and concern for and the promotion of human rights, the importance of delivering justice to all. The upholding of the rights of the oppressed.
  4. This point is especially for the young Muslimahs of today. Women in Islam have a very special place, status and dignity that was unknown to humanity before the advent of Islam.

2.      Do you consider Muslim youth confused about their identity and future?

Yes, I think the Muslim youth is confused. The reason behind this confusion is the absence of Islamic material in our educational curriculum and false depiction of Islamic teachings. In addition to that, there are no specific activities from Dawah organizations to cater to the youth and bring them back to Islam. We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed. Currently, no or very few organizations address the diverse and complex needs of the Muslim youth.

We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed.

3.      Which qualities of our youth make you hopeful that, if they mend their ways and get connected to the Creator, our Ummah will improve?

Youth is the most energetic stage of life, worthy to make the best use of and a time to strive towards excellence. Youngsters are full of energy and passion. Their road is paved with hope, persistence and enlightened thinking. Indeed, it is a period of productivity. Muslim youth must be aware of the importance and value of their lives. To achieve the best outcome, they should be directed towards the right path. The age of adolescence is a very sensitive period that requires caring, reinforcement of good guidance to Allah’s (swt) way and good ethics.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity. Young people gathered around Prophet Muhammad (sa) to carry his call of Islam forward. To name a few, Zaid bin Thabet (rta), who collected the whole text of the Holy Quran, and Musab bin Umair (rta), who was the first ambassador in Islam. He was asked by Prophet Muhammad (sa) to go to Madinah to teach the Quran; through him and his teachings the people of Madinah converted to Islam. This young prince of Makkah sacrificed every luxury of the world when he embraced Islam, only for Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (sa).

The biography of Muhammad Bin Qasim should be part of our curriculum. We should teach to our youth, how he conquered Sindh and governed it in such a manner that even the non-Muslims wanted him to stay with them instead of moving on.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity.

They should be taught about Aisha (rta), a young woman, who was an extremely accomplished young woman and who fulfilled all her responsibilities as a wife as well. Teach them about the bravery of Asma (rta) and the firm faith of Sumayyah (rta) who gave her life for the truth.

If our youth connects to the Deen and make the Prophets (sa) their companions and the rightly guided people as their true role models, the affairs of our Ummah will definitely change positively.

4.      What is the best way for elders to treat the young? There seems to be much mistrust between them and the elders often don’t treat the youth with respect.

Elders must be open with them, listen to them and learn to do some of ‘their stuff’. They should accept that times have changed, and thus, the youth should be nurtured and groomed according to the standards of this time, not the past times that the elders experienced. One of the most effective mental exercises that a parent, teacher or youth mentor can undertake in order to enhance their empathy and compassion towards youngsters is to allow themselves to see things from the perspective of the youth.

5.      As a family, what is the positive role that parents must play in the lives of the youth?

Be a role model for them. Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them. Always remember: children listen with their eyes and not with their ears. So watch your life. Be the change you wish to see! Parents should keep a critical eye on their own behaviour and personal conduct.

6.      What advice would you give to the young and spirited?

Always be in the company of pious people who remind you of Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgement. If you have good company, you will be prosperous in your life.

In Surah Al Furqan, Allah (swt) says, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” ” (Al-Furqan 25: 27-29)

Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them.

The Prophet (sa) reminds us of the importance of good company in the following Hadeeth: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least, you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

I believe that companionship is the most important thing after Iman. If they have good companionship, all the other good things will automatically be part of their personality.

Youngsters, nowadays, have all the fundamental elements of success and excellence. Schools, colleges, universities, cultural and scientific centers strive to offer the best education. They have the potential to play an important role in the advancement of Islam. The period of adolescence is a very important period in a Muslim’s life. If spent the right way, a person’s youth will not only benefit him, but others as well. They must realize their value and importance for the fate of the Ummah lies in their hands.

May Allah (swt) guide and protect us all on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.

(Part 2) Love and loyalty for Allah (swt) – Divine legacy of Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Sahara-Desert-9Click here to read the first part of the article.

3.  Submission
This love brought about submission towards Allah (swt) for Ibrahim (as) because obeying and submitting to the orders is the natural consequence of love. If you can’t submit, you don’t really love.

Every prophet has a specific quality. When it comes to Ibrahim (as), his unique quality is submission. He was submissive to his Lord.

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

The scholars describe this verse as:  When Allah (swt) ordered him to submit, there was no pause and no intermission, and no question asked. Allah (swt) said, “Submit,” and Ibrahim (as) immediately said, “I submit to the Lord of the worlds.”  He did not even ask a question in any regard.  When we check the life of Ibrahim (as) and the rites of Hajj, we see the submission of Ibrahim (as).  For that reason, Islam (which is submission and surrendering to the will of Allah (swt)) goes all the way back to the original practice of monotheism of Ibrahim (as). Whereas we need to have a thousand questions answered, a hundred heart attacks, many motivational reminders and many sleepless nights making the decision before we finally take up some Quranic command- wearing Hijab, for instance.

When Allah (swt) ordered him to submit, there was no pause and no intermission, and no question asked.

This is what we learn from the experience of Ibrahim (as); he submitted to the Will of Allah (swt). But, we have a problem with this type of submission. If you look closely, the heart of the Quran’s message is:
1. Accept Allah (swt) as your Master.
2. Accept yourself as His slave.
3. Guidance comes to those who accept themselves as His slaves.

It is very easy for us to accept that Allah (swt) is Merciful. We accept that, and say “cool, I will still do whatever I want.”

But, we have a hard time accepting that He is our Master. Because that implies we are slaves and slaves are not free people; they are supposed to do all that their Master says. They are supposed to submit.
And because our evil desires and egos are so inflated, we fail to accept Him as our Master. We might say it with our tongues, but our actions prove otherwise.

If you want to really live the legacy of Ibrahim (as), you have to accept Allah (swt) as your Master and submit to His commands.

4. Sacrifice
Because of this over flowing love for Allah (swt), Ibrahim (as) was ever ready to give up anything and everything for Allah (swt).
He left his father, his people and his homeland where he lived and grew up, his comfort and eventually, even prepared to literally slaughter his extremely beloved son, Ismail (as) – all for the sake of Allah (swt).

But, Allah (swt) saved him from the great trial of sacrificing his beloved son. Because the purpose was not to slaughter the son, rather the aim was to make the heart pure for Allah’s (swt) love. And Ibrahim (as) had that pure love.

Are we ready to give up all that we desire for the Only One we believe in?

If we are able to take this lesson of sacrificing everything for the love of Allah (swt) from the act of sacrifice done on Eid-ul-Adha, then we have achieved the essence of the message. Because in the end, it all comes down to this: Are we ready to give up all that we desire for the Only One we believe in?

5. Tawakkul

“O Ibrahim, will you go and leave us in this valley in which there are no people and nothing?” Hajra (ra) said that to her husband, Ibrahim (as), several times, and he did not answer her. Then she said to him: “Is it Allah (swt) Who has commanded you to do this?” He said: “Yes.” She said: “Then He will not forsake us.” (Bukhari)

It is an unparalleled example of having trust in Allah’s (swt) plan. But with it also reflect on Ibrahim’s (as)  state of Tawakkul. Is it easy to leave behind your family in a remote place like this? Definitely not. But, when Allah (swt) tells you so, you do it without any hesitation and fear.

Can we do that? With our current state of faith, the answer will be obvious.

Any rewards of this love for Allah (swt) and this unmatched submission? Yes many. And one of the obvious ones is:

6. Hajj and building the Kabah

“And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) and (his son) Ismail (Ishmael) were raising the foundations of the House (the Kabah at Makkah), (saying), ‘Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower’” (Al-Baqarah 2:127)

The chapter of the establishment of Hajj is a unique chapter.  Muslims are still following the legacy of Ibrahim (as). Remember  whenever you go for Hajj, you are the response of Ibrahim (as). You are the response of his call when Allah (swt) told him to call the people to come for Hajj!  Proclaim the Hajj, and let the people come and answer his call! Till this day, we remember him and follow his example.
The essence of Propfet Ibrahim (as) legacy
This is the legacy of the great Prophet of Allah (swt), Ibrahim (as). Love Allah (swt). Then submit. And that’s the true meaning of being a Muslim.

Love for Allah (swt) made him succesful. And Allah (swt) praised him as follows,

“And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrahim (Abraham) [i.e., Allah] tried him with (certain) Commands, which he fulfilled. He (Allah) said (to him), “Verily, I am going to make you a leader (Prophet) of mankind.” [Ibrahim (Abraham)] said, “And of my offspring (to make leaders).” (Allah) said, “My Covenant (Prophethood, etc.) includes not Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers).”

(Al-Baqarah 2:124)

La ilaha illa Allah is not just a statement of the tongue; let the heart bear witness!

Beware Of Your Friend

compnayDo you know if you have bad qualities, most probably you got it from your peers- those you intermingled with? Sometimes, they might even be your family members, sometimes your parents. So if you have a bad quality, you probably got it from somewhere. But, you didn’t get it from Allah (swt), you got it from the devil!

The devil came to you in the form of, most probably your friend and your peers. And sometimes, this devil comes in the form of your best friend. May Allah (swt) protect us. Ameen. Sometimes the devil comes using the mouth of someone who’s very close to you. Satan is very sharp. He’s very intelligent.

Sometimes the upbringing in the home is very good, but the school you send your children to, they learn an accent which is totally unacceptable. They begin to speak slang. They begin to swear, they begin to steal and cheat- all that is learnt from the school. We need to be careful which schools we send our children to. We need to be careful of what type of friends our children mix up with, more importantly- what type of people we mix up with.

So, Allah (swt) says in Surah Furqan, regarding the one who did not keep good company, “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al Furqan 29)

Sometimes the devil comes using the mouth of someone who’s very close to you. Satan is very sharp.

Definitely, on the Day of Qiyamah, they will regret keeping bad company.

Now let me inform you, when a person is smoking, nine times out of ten, they’ve learnt it from the people they’ve mixed up with! When a person is on drugs, nine times out of ten, it is from people they were associated with. When a person is an adulterer, nine times out of ten, they’ve learnt it from the company they kept. When a person does not come for Salah, nine times out of ten it is because that is the trend of the people they mix up with. When a person is an alcoholic, nine times out of ten, it is because of those whom he or she is with, are also like that. When a person has a bad mouth, it’s also the same and that is why rehabilitation is a waste of time if you, yourself, do not want to help yourself. I can promise you- a person who is on drugs, a person who is an alcoholic, a person who has any bad habit, it is up to him to change! The whole world can want to rehabilitate him forever and ever; but if that quality of changing for better is in your heart, it is a waste of time and money for everyone worried about you! May Allah (swt) protect us.

And this is why Allah (swt) says that if you want to save yourself, the first thing you need to do is change your company, totally. Totally…every one of them! Change them!

If you are a bad person on drugs, cut out your whole friendship. And parents of those who are on drugs, let me inform you that you might want to change the suburb and the city you are living in, in order to protect your son or your daughter. You might want to go into a remote town so that your children can abstain from those they’re associated with! It will do you a ton of good- even though your income might decrease, you will save your children.

if that quality of changing for better is in your heart, it is a waste of time and money for everyone worried about you!

That’s the importance of the locality you live in, the importance of it- and how serious it is. Your suburb, the area you live in- be careful, make sure you choose it properly. You’d rather live in a slum where the people around you all go to the Masjid, than to live in a palace where nobody talks about the house of Allah (swt). Hence, we ask Allah (swt) to protect us from evil company.

That is one of the biggest plans of Satan is that he comes to you through your company. And this is why we are taught, when you want to know someone, don’t look at them- just look at the people they mix up with and close the file. That’s it. We say this normally regarding marriage, you want to know a boy; you want to know a girl? More important than asking them about themselves, look at those they mix up with. That’s it. Close the file thereafter.

If they are drunkards, they can turn green in the face telling you, ‘I’ve never drunk!’ They are lying. What are they doing with those…?

When you see fish in the ocean, you will notice that the whale moves with all other whales. You will notice the little bream moves with other breams, the snook moves with the snook, the hake moves with hake, and so on. I am using names of fish we eat actually, Subhan’Allah! But you will never find one small fish, one big fish, one other fish, one snook, one hake, and so on. You won’t find that!

You’d rather live in a slum where the people around you all go to the Masjid, than to live in a palace where nobody talks about the house of Allah (swt)

The reason is, that is foolish. They have to have something in common to be moving together. The same applies to human beings. Someone who is pious, and someone who is a drunkard, they can’t move together! Really! It’s like a sardine moving with a whale! Allahu’Akbar! It can’t happen. One will devour the other. Allahu’Akbar!

So, this is why let them not fool you when they tell you, ‘Look, I am not on drugs, but the ten guys who I mix up with they’re all on drugs!’ Tell him, ‘You are the boss! You are the main one. Don’t lie!’ May Allah (swt) protect our offspring.

Remember, those who are tested with drugs, it is up to you, really- you change yourself! No one else will. You need to develop the will power! You need to develop the willpower and you need to make a Dua to Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect our offspring from drugs, and may He protect our offspring from all these bad habits.

Wallahi (By Allah (swt)), there are good people who lose their children, just because of their company, Allahu’Akbar.

Transcribed for Hiba by Asma Imran.