Feed Your Heart in Ramadan – A Beautiful Reminder


heart-purification                                                   Image Courtesy www.ramadan.co.uk


Many Muslims approach Ramadan very much like they do in previous years. They slip into similar habits and routines, and their ibadah from one Ramadan to the next is predictable. They may have the same taraweeh schedules, read similar quantities of Quran, or perform similar types of ibadah. And they end up coming out of Ramadan very much like they did the year before.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The example of hypocrisy in it (the heart) is like an ulcer that thrives on blood and pus.” (Ahmad)

You might be wondering what that even means; the end of the hadith explains it, and specifically in Ramadan we can see how it benefits us.

The Prophet (sa) further said: “Whichever one of the two (faith or hypocrisy) is getting more, whichever one of the two has the upper hand; the heart will follow suits; the heart will be overcome by that.” (Ahmad)

What does that mean? What you feed your hearts is supposed to directly impact whether or not your heart will be that of a Mumin or a Munafiq; a believer or a hypocrite. When you go to rehabilitation it’s about quitting things, and so if I am going to Taraweeh every night but while I am at home I have the TV on and I am still spending the same amount of time on internet and I am still talking about the same types of things to people and I am hanging out with the same group of people who are polluting and corrupting my heart then I am feeding the plants or I am feeding the ulcer? You are feeding the ulcer and the Prophet (sa) taught us to feed the plants specially in Ramadan. You are cutting out all these things which feed the ulcer. This is the meaning of the Hadeeth and Rasulullah (sa) said: “Whoever does not abandon idol speech, foolishness and backbiting (and the flaws of the tongue), Allah has no need of him abandoning his food and his desire; Allah does not want all that.”

Your heart has to fast as well; your limbs have to fast as well; so what are you feeding your heart in Ramadan? If you are feeding the Quran and you are feeding the Dhikr of Allah (swt), you are feeding the good material, listening to beneficial things for the entire month, throughout the month the plant in your heart is growing, your Iman is growing because you are feeding it with the pure water and sustaining it with pure water.

Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi said: “If you find the darkness in your hearts after you commit a sin then that means you still have light in your heart”; because if there was no light in the heart you would not have felt the darkness, (think about it, it is profound). If you still feel bad and uncomfortable in Ramadan when the stuff is going on and outside of the Ramadan as well, you still feel bad, you still have the guilty conscious; this means there is still Noor in your heart; there is some form of light in your heart.

The great scholar from the 9th century Than-Noon Al-Masri said: “Just as a sick body cannot enjoy fine food, a sick heart cannot enjoy worshipping Allah.” So if you are feeding that ulcer and you go to Taraweeh later, what’s going to happen? It’s not going to do anything. The great lecture and everything that you are hearing is not going to work because you have been feeding an ulcer for nine hours; now you are just trying to feed this plant for an hour a day; the plant will die.

So use Ramadan in particular to bring in the right things into your home and into your heart; surround yourself with things that will feed that plant; that will nourish that plant of Iman inside your heart.

Transcribed for Hiba Magazine by Hira Naqi


Half my Deen – A Reality Check in Time!

happy-marriageIt was declared that Sofia and Saif’s wedding was heading to a divorce. They were not made for each other. Their thoughts did not match. They were complete opposites.

Haven’t we heard that opposites attract? Well, but here they repelled! There was not a moment where either of them did not argue. Be it money, clothes, food or their sleeping time, there were numerous petty reasons of their bickering when finally Sofia returned to her mother’s place declaring that she could not stand Saif anymore.

It was a grand fairy tale wedding that had taken place hardly six months ago. It had been the talk of the neighbourhood that the beautiful and elegant Sofia was marrying rich and handsome Saif.

Sofia returned to her parental home within six months of marriage. But things were not comfortable at home either. Her mom and dad did not welcome her as always. She was not looked at with pity or concern; she was being scorned and had ogling large eyes all over.

Saif too had returned to his parental home disheartened. He did not know what was wrong in their marriage. Every gadget was in Sofie’s (as he called her lovingly) hands, adorned with jewellery rubies, emeralds, a large apartment in a posh locality. But she had lame arguments and fought over everything. He allowed her to buy the best designer clothes, gave her money but nothing would make her happy

Saif’s parents were humble and he was guilty of leaving them to stay with his wife. His parents were shocked to know that Saif and his wife were applying for a divorce. His mother had told him that divorce is such a huge decision that it would shake the Arsh (heavens).

Sofie stayed quiet while they ate lunch, dinner and breakfast. Silence could be broken with just some nods and hums but she did not have the guts to speak out to her parents. Why? If she was right then what was that hesitation? Sofie felt guilt all over. She was sure that she was wrong, for if she had been right, her parents would have supported her. As she stood in the window and saw droplets of water rolling down the pane, she wiped her tears. At 4-four p.m. they had to appear at the court. For an umpteenth time her gaze went on the wall. It had been an hour since lunch but the minutes were getting heavier each moment. Would Saif come to pick up or would he send the driver? But why would he care now? She regretted her behaviour with him the last day they were together.

She gathered some tissues around her. Her heart was weeping. But why could not she gather herself? She had to go alone as her father did not even want to discuss that issue with her. However she was sure that her parents would get over it in a few days after the divorce. She always hated Saif’s choice, his food habits, his sleeping and everything. So why was she missing all the luxuries and comforts he had showered her with? She called her dad’s driver and he was ready to take her. But no sooner she stepped out of the house than her sandal slipped and she tripped down the stairs right to the bottom and her world went dark.

His mother had told him that divorce is such a huge decision that it would shake the Arsh (heavens).

When she woke up, she saw tensed faces around her. Saif and his parents were present there. But her parents were absent. Saif raised his hands and kept on Sofie’s forehead and wiped the sweat with a tissue. Then she noticed her bandaged leg and bruised hand. Her head was quite heavy. Her mother in law asked Sofie how she was feeling. Sofie was too embarrassed to reply, she just stuck a faint smile. She did not know what exactly had happened.

Saif’s parents left to get something for her to eat and allowed them to be alone which Sofie detested. And luckily the nurses came in and told Saif to let her sleep without disturbance.

Soon she drifted into a blissful sleep only to be awakened by the doctor who did her routine check up and advised rest for a few more days. Then she ordered the RMO (Resident Medical Officer) and nurse to leave the room as she wanted to have a few words with Sofia in isolation.

She asked Sofie with such pure intentions and concern that she did not see even in her own mother, “Beta, you look so pale. You are newly married. Did you try to commit suicide?” Sofie shook her head, she didn’t know whether to trust her or not. What if she was her husband’s agent? But whatever she said later was enough to change Sofia, her present and her future.

“You know these days where social media is becoming cheaper and there are so many extra marital affairs coming on scene… Getting a sincere, loving husband is rare! You are quite lucky, but what makes you sad? It is indeed the talk of the hospital. Both of you are young and beautiful. You are married to a rich, handsome husband who is so devoted to you. Take my advice; marriages do not remain in the honey moon phase forever. Marriage is a life time commitment. You have to live through thick and thin. Marriage is doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, serving, being a maid and working hard to get the crown of a Queen. It is not what you read in novels or watch in serials or movies.. Marriage is to get peace and tranquillity in our lives. It is not to measure differences but to raise the one who is weak.”

marriages do not remain in the honey moon phase forever. Marriage is a life time commitment. You have to live through thick and thin.

Whatever she spoke was the truth but I was adamant. “Are you related to Saif?” I asked.

“You are very naive!” she said. “Pay some heed to what I said and think over it!” she said without replying to my question.

As she went out of the room, the bitter truth she spoke dawned upon me. Her words were echoing in my mind that “marriage does not remain in the honeymoon phase forever. It is not what you read in novels and watch in movies and serials!” But that’s what every woman searches for! That’s why she was sad, that’s what she was missing in her life. She wanted her husband to take her to a hotel or a movie or to a mall or any other park for an outing every day. He wanted promotion, he wanted to save money and he wanted to invest! Obviously then how could their thinking match? The maturity was still lacking and she was behaving like a kid in some mere infatuation.

Sofie’s ego and pride would not allow her to apologize. She did not want to bend down on her knees. Soon she tossed and turned to get some more sleep. As she turned, she saw a letter.

It began with “Allah (swt) has created man and woman as company for one another and so that they can procreate and live in peace and tranquillity according to the commandments of Allah (swt) and the directions of His Messenger (sa). The Quran states:

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar- Rum 30:21)

“And Allah has made for you wives of your own kind, and has made for you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and has bestowed on you good provision. Do they then believe in false deities and deny the Favour of Allah (by not worshipping Allah Alone).”(An-Nahl 16:72)

The word Zawaj is used in the Quran to signify a pair or a mate. But in common parlance it stands for marriage. Since a family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, therefore the Prophet (sa) insisted his followers upon entering into marriage The Shariah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security and tranquillity. Marriage in Islam has two major aspects:

1. Ibadah (worship) of Allah (swt)

2. The transactions between human beings

With respect to Ibadah, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah (swt) because it is in accordance with His commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other make efforts to continue the human race, rear and nurse their children in such a fashion that they become true servants of Allah (swt).

These aspects are beautifully explained in the traditions of our Prophet (sa). It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah (swt) regarding the remaining half.”

The Prophet (sa) considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc. which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarrelling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (sa) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by Taqwa.

Since a family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, therefore the Prophet (sa) insisted his followers upon entering into marriage

I never understood the true essence of marriage along with its prescribed injunctions. I am very sorry I failed, but wish you could just give me another chance.” Yours only, Saif.

Sofie who did not want to apologize replied, “I myself never knew what marriage is and in my ignorance almost ended our marriage. I hope we can live more considerately and happily today, tomorrow and always- Insha’Allah!” Yours only, Sofie.

Ask the Savvy Parent: Best Age to Send a Child to School

school1Dear Savvy Parent,

What is the best age to start school for kids – is it a good idea to send them to a playgroup from 1.5 years onwards?

Dear Parent,

Islam says that a child should not begin formal learning till age seven. This does not mean that the child should not learn at all. There are many things one can do to prepare a child for school in their formative years (under the age of 7). Keep in mind to present things in a way that is fun. People this day and age tend to focus on academics, and often pressure and push their child into rigorous educational training at an early age. Why are such parents so eager to rush their children? I know a child who learned to read at the age of 9. How does this compare with a child who learned at the age of 4(probably because their parents/schools pushed them more) for example? Has it or will it hinder him in any way? Certainly not! This 9 year old child is now 11 years old and on the honour roll. So why must we put so much pressure on sending our kids to school as early as possible? It’s the same when it comes to Islamic education. Parents push their sons at such a young age to be a Hafiz of the Quran; meanwhile their child throws tantrums and doesn’t respect or listen to his parents. What is the point of being a Hafiz, which is amazing Masha’Allah, when he hasn’t learned how to behave appropriately? We need to shift our focus on the important things first, which is to lay the foundations to prepare them for formal academic learning. Begin by focusing on the basics of our Deen in terms of personality and attributes of a good Muslim. The academic stuff will come later. Laying a good, solid foundation is much more important and WILL have an impact on them in the future.

As for sending a child to a playgroup, the important thing to remember is that a young child needs to have social interactions with their peers. It has many benefits such as learning appropriate ways to interact with others, sharing, conflict resolution, appropriate language, respect for others etc. One doesn’t necessarily have to send a child to a playgroup. You can go to weekly mother and me programmes, or plan play dates. Also, keep in mind to expose your children to families that are like-minded and people of good character. This will ensure that your child will benefit from their influence in a positive way.

Besides making sure your child has the opportunity to play and explore. Here are some things as parents one should focus on with their children at an early age, before they reach school going age:

1. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Be a role model to your children in the way that you treat them and others. Be honest and fair. Treat your children kindly by showing compassion towards them. Be mindful of what you say and do. Establish good habits such as what one says before and after eating, or reciting the Dua of travelling for example. Say them out loud so your children hear it. You will be surprised how quickly children catch on.

2. Instill the love of Allah. Children should both  fear and love Allah, but teach them about love first. They can learn about fear when they get older. I have noticed in some cultures people often use a negative tone and fear to get children to listen. For example telling a child if they don’t listen, Shaitan will come get them. Why must we focus on the fear and negative side? Why can’t we train our children to do something out of LOVE for Allah (swt). For example, “Let’s put these toys away. I’m going to help you because Allah loves those who help others.” Doesn’t this sound so much nicer than threatening Shaitan on a child? To be honest, in my opinion, one should not even teach a child about Shaitan till at least age 7. You can also lead by example. Practice acts of kindness such as helping other, visiting sick friends or relatives for example. Giving Sadaqah in front of your child, or better yet, involving your child in regular but small acts of Sadaqah, is another example. Explain to them in simple language why you are giving Sadaqah. You will be surprised how quickly children pick up these good habits.

3. Expose your children to the Qur`an. By this I don’t mean sit there and force them to keep reciting and repeating. Just make sure that there is recitation of the Quran in your home. Let them hear Quran being recited in beautiful voices. Read the Quran yourself regularly, and make sure you read aloud so that your children can hear. Being in an environment where one regularly listens to and recites the Quran has a strong effect on the child’s life. This also helps to create a connection between them and the Arabic language, and instill a love for it in their hearts, because it is an important key to understanding and loving Islam.

4. Develop an attachment to the mosque. Take your children (especially sons) to Jummah if/when possible. You can go as a family or you can have your husband take them. This is a great time to introduce and teach proper mosque etiquette. Encourage them to sit quietly beside you, rather than allowing them to run up and down the rows disturbing others. It may be helpful to bring a quiet activity such as a puzzle or books to keep your child busy.

5. Pray and practice your Ibadah in front of them. The Prophet (sa) has told us to teach those who reach the age of seven to pray and to make them do it; before this age they may be taught but not by way of making them do it. A child that young doesn’t have to pray, but develop a habit of having them beside you when you pray. Lay out a prayer mat for them to sit on while you pray.

Be mindful that young children absorb everything around them. Their ears and eyes are always listening and watching and taking everything in, even when you think they aren’t. Include them in your acts of Ibadah.

Insha’Allah I hope this helps! Happy Parenting!

The Savvy Parent

Reinforcing Spirituality in the Workplace

Workplace spirituality

I did not realize that relationships at the workplace could be so gratifying in terms of Ibadah, until I sat down with my father to delve into his experiences about human resource management. His answers left me inquisitive, and I set out to search for the ideal virtues of a Muslim employer and employee.

Motivation, communication, cooperation, conflict management, wage compensations, promotion, job description, rotation and enrichment are the key components outlined in an employment agreement. To fortify the faithfulness in daily roles played by a manager, a supervisor and a subordinate, I rummaged through the admirable work of Imam Ghazali to the rejuvenating lectures of Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.

To begin with, Ayah 57 from Surah Yusuf is of utmost significance for both the manager and the worker.

Allah (swt) says: “And verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and used to fear Allah and keep their duty to Him (by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds and by performing all kinds of righteous good deeds).” (Yusuf 12:57)

Thus, a mandatory virtue for both parties is to never lose sight of the perpetual mission of life. The subordinate should trust Allah (swt) as the Ultimate Provider for hard work and service, and the supervisor should learn from leadership qualities exhibited by Prophet Muhammad (sa), the four caliphs, Prophet Yusuf (as) and all the beloved messengers of Allah (swt).

Consequently, the Muslim manager ought to devise the employment agreement around the five prayers (Salah), negotiating time management, submission deadlines, rest pauses and work shifts.

Another principle characteristic is built upon Ukhuwat or Islamic brotherhood. Both should know the fruits that lie beyond this temporary life of a heart-warming brotherhood.

An important lesson taught by this Ayah is that when Satan intrudes the mind of the employee in the absence of the supervisor, he should remember that Allah (swt) is All-Seeing; He knows the conflicts created by the Nafs. Such a self-reminding habit ensures that one understands the importance of honesty and sincerity to his leader.

This verse steers to an aspect, which is also mentioned in Ihya Uloom Ad-Deen (“The Revival of Religious Learnings”) under “Seven Things That Make the Religion of a Businessman Perfect”, meaning the worker and the manager should both remember that they are setting up accounts with everyone they deal with. Allah (swt) will have the debit/credit records on the Final Day.

According to Abu Hurairah (rtam), Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘I will be an opponent to three types of people on the day of Resurrection: one – who makes a covenant in My name, but proves to be treacherous; second – who sells a free person and eats his price, and third – who employs a labourer and takes full work from him but does not pay for his labour.” (Bukhari)

This Hadeeth shows the intensity of love that Allah (swt) has for the hardworking person. The employees offer their services in return of remuneration and benefits. Also, the religious-mandated practice of abiding by the agreement has been emphasized. A Muslim naturally tends to get psychologically attached to his Muslim brother. Reviewing the Prophet’s (sa) management skills, we see how Allah (swt) wanted him to boost the morale of the companions (Sahabah) at all times and listen to their concerns. Our Messenger’s (sa) life reveals his highest regard for employees’ services; their covenant was uncomplicated but magnificent in the context that the volunteers were the most important asset in the mission.

Isn’t it miraculous how our Creator, the most Magnificent and the most Merciful, has paved way for our self-evaluation in every field of life? Alhumdulillah! Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (An-Nisa 4:135)

The know-how of justice, self-acceptance, embracing of criticism, being truthful and avoiding discrimination lies in this verse. The righteous employee should keep an eye on any acts of discrimination around him; this divine code of life also defines discrimination in terms of favouring the rich staff over the poor. The intention (Niyah) of the employer of any organization should be to facilitate his employees and make them intellectual and highly productive Muslims, securing an abode in the loftiest compartments of Jannah.

At our workplace, we should remember the value of a smile, which is also a form of Sadaqah or an act of charity. Such cheerful habits make us beloved in the eyes of Allah (swt).

Purification of the soul can also be conquered at work, which brings us to yet another attribute of an employer – the ability to pre-plan training programmes. Integrating Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s lecture ‘People of Substance’ into the employment bond, positive and negative reinforcement done in accordance with Shariah will yield awe-inspiring results.

For example, in a Lahore based firm, the supervisor sends his employees to a holistic nutritionist on performance-based work; she devises plans based on Prophetic medicine and quantum health sciences, which bring them closer to Allah’s (swt) creation, their body systems and the lifestyle of the Prophet (sa). Another effective bequest to be given for employee’s recognition could be a book on Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Seerah. Regarding training programmes, employees deserve a chance for rejuvenation of faith; thus, they can be registered for workshops, Quran and Hadeeth boot camp courses and conferences.

I believe that becoming a beloved of Allah (swt) requires mastering the art of forgiving. It is perhaps the most fulfilling attribute to apply at the workplace; the employer should forgive the errors of employees as frequently as he can, looking ahead to the riches of the hereafter. On the other hand, the employee should forgive the judgements made about them and accept demotions as a form of test from Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) says: “For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).” (Ale-Imran 3:136)