Do not be depressed with yourself, ever!

sad_face_stick_figure_sign_400_clr1On the globe, not a single soul has the same fingerprint, as far as we know. And, not a single soul has the same iris print- if you can call it that- as far as we know, Subhan’Allah. Allah (swt) says in order for you to recognise one another- we kept you different. Subhana Rabbi’al ‘Ala. That is the creation of Allah (swt); He says everybody is different, so you can recognise each other.

Look at the term ‘Lit’arafu’. Imagine if a thief had to steal and we were all the same, we would rather just lock up the next person. In fact, no one would know who stole from whom, because we would all be looking the same, Subhana Rabbi’al ‘Ala.

So, if we sit and think about it, it’s a blessing; that is why never ever be upset with what Allah (swt) has put you, or what Allah (swt) has given you, or where He has placed you; never be upset. If you are big, huge, fat, and you weigh a lot, someone, somewhere will be attracted to you, you will also find a husband. Don’t worry. There are some men who don’t like that which is thin and skinny and bony. So, Alhumdulillah, Allah (swt) has created different people with different taste.

Imagine if the whole world had the same taste. So if you are dark, some people like dark people; if you are light, some like light. Do not ever be depressed with yourself ever. It is against the gratitude to the Creator Himself. No matter what colour eyes you have, or the type of hair you have or if you don’t have any hair at all, because you are bald now, Alhumdulillah, thank Allah (swt) for that. Wallahi, there are certain people who are attracted to those who are bald, Allahu Akbar.

This is Allah’s (swt) plan. He has kept it in such a way that it is amazing. And, He says I have created you in different levels, different sizes, different shapes, different likings, different inclinations and so on. One man’s food is another man’s poison. That is a saying that we have leant since we were young. If you would like to translate it- sometimes you have food in some area that might taste so nice to the people of that area, whereas a visitor coming there will not be able to put it even close to his mouth, Allahu Akbar. That is a literal translation and it can happen, and this is why there are different dishes- you have the Indian dish, you have the Malay dish, and so much more Masha’Allah. May Allah (swt) grant us from the food of Jannah Insha’Allah- because that will definitely be something standard for all of us according to our liking, Insha’Allah. We ask Allah (swt) to grant us understanding.

Look at the beauty of the levels that Allah (swt) has created us with. Don’t ever be depressed or question why Allah (swt) made you this way. And, this is why Allah (swt) says that He has chosen who will be male and who will be female, Allahu Akbar. Don’t ever question the decree of Allah (swt). ‘Ya Allah (swt), why did you make me a male?’ Don’t be upset with Allah’s (swt) decree if He made you a male, He made you a male, in order to test you as a male. If you are a female, your test is different. There are different things that Allah (swt) has to test you with.

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.

How to deal with Peer Pressure?

peersHijab leads to an Abaya!  A 19-nineteen year old was surprised to see herself,and soon, the whole college was talking about her. Fatima was scared to face her friends.

Peer pressure is not a recent phenomenon; it is as old as history itself. All the prophets and their descendants faced all kinds of peer pressure. Hence, if you are facing such a thing in your life, you should be bold enough to carry it rightly and be on your straight path.

One should adopt the following rules to handle peer pressure.

1. Keep your vision upright and feed your faith

People love to talk aimlessly, and especially, when it comes to religion, they have their own golden rules and principles of understanding. Usually, they interpret rules which benefit them. Regarding Hijab, they’ll say it’s not necessary to cover your body and that one should be modest at heart.

Hijab- Gone by the wind

People totally alter the concept of basic modesty in Islam.  Thus, keep feeding your faith by:

  • Working on your relationship with Allah (swt).
  • Plug-in yourself with Quran and Sunnah

2.  Uplift your identity

The major cause of peer pressure is that we do not have a secure Muslim identity, which results in lack of knowledge about the rules in Deen. Therefore, learn about Seerah and lives of our predecessors for better acknowledgement of Deen.

3. Take lessons from those who are steadfast on Deen

Be in the company of those who practice Deen with great zeal and enthusiasm. As it is said: “The best of you are those who repent.”
So, try to be with those who can help you in moral uplifting.

4. Friends with ever-lasting benefits

Friends are the real asset. Try to be friends with those who can help you become a better Muslim.

If your friends make you feel out dated with respect to your vision about Deen, and give you grief for your beliefs- so that is their problem. All you have to do is:

  • to bail out
  • avoid their gatherings

5. Seek Allah’s (swt) help

You cannot attain anything in this life against Allah’s (swt) Will; hence, keep asking for His help and mercy, so that you can find your way easily.

  • Make Dua for complete Hidayah
  • Get down in prostration and pray for Istaqamah

6. No complains

You cannot get Jannah easily. Hurdles are always there; all you need is to act firm on your beliefs and work to gain Allah’s (swt) love. Therefore, be positive and build up your nerves to stay courageous in all circumstances.

7.  Ignore criticism and mockery

Follow the Sunnah of forgiveness, and you will be straight on your path; ignore insulting actions of ignorant people and make Dua for them.

8. Keep yourself cool

To keeping oneself cool is one of the most difficult tasks- especially, when the other half of the world is busy in making you lose control. But being a good Muslim, it’s our duty to stay calm. Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (sa) love those who remain quiet at hard times.

Try to be positive and optimistic in every aspect of life; and never lose your focus just because of what others will think of you.There will be no one who will save you from the fire of Hell, except Allah (swt).

Transformation to my true self

lotusMany women in my country are driven by cultural stereotypes and nationalism, peer pressure and irrational societal norms. Those who have ‘groomed’ themselves with education and negated cultural slavery, are somewhere trapped in the complicated maze of modernity and westernization. Over and above, those who tend to cover themselves, do it inappropriately by force or misuse the covering garment for illegal purposes.

Till twenty-two years of age, I was not taught the exact conditions, prerequisites, importance and the prescribed method of Hijab, as given in Surah An-Nur, Surah Al-Ahzab and the Sahih Ahadeeth of Messenger (sa). A very rigid socio-cultural way of covering had been taught to me by my elders and family, without the main rules regarding adornment and covering in front of Mahram and non-Mahram men. The very rationale given to me to cover myself did not match the course as outlined in the Quran. Social acceptance was at the core of the cultural teaching of covering and never did I realize that I had to cover because Allah (swt) loved His female servants in that attire and Jilbab, as He loved beauty and modesty!

All praise is for the Creator, the Cherisher, the Sustainer, the Loving and the Most Merciful! He guided me, and I was able to dive thoroughly into the origin, history, logic, benefits and the immense reward of covering myself. Haya, the central theme had never occurred to me like it did, as I leafed through the pages of various books and commentaries of Surah An-Nur and Surah Al-Ahzab.

If I look back to my teenage years, I have emotionally suffered solely because of the lack of knowledge of Deen I had. I was struggling to develop an identity for myself amidst false attachments to the Dunya and addiction to people. Having been obese and exceptionally tall, I received remarks and comments that made my soul shriek out. Indirectly, the evil of self (Nafs) and Satan’s planning were well-tuned; I turned to flaunting, showing off, weight loss, obsession with body talk, idealizing female celebrities and what not. What I had observed and learnt in that age hindered my learning about my Deen. My priorities and attitudes as a girl were exactly defying what my Rabb had taught in His Quran.

If I look back to my teenage years, I have emotionally suffered solely because of the lack of knowledge of Deen I had. I was struggling to develop an identity for myself amidst false attachments to the Dunya

After the transformation, I have found my soul and understood the Fitrah I was born with. I was programmed to naturally incline towards modesty and beauty, and Hijab means both. I can be myself with my outer garment and face veil (Jilbab and Niqab). I was concerned about social approval when thinking about how my dress should be before.

Now, I just feel awe-inspiring and extremely content when I think about how Allah (swt) loves me and will reward me in Jannah for covering myself. Hijab has set me free from cultural slavery, age old traditional myths, and the modern and westernized traps of Satan. It has healed me from the identity crisis I was suffering from. I am a twenty-four years old Muslim woman, and I wear the Hijab (Jilbab or Chador), just to please my Creator, Who sent the Quran as a manual/code of conduct.

When a baby is born, it needs support and guidance to live. Can a machine be operated without reading its manual? How can a human being, Allah’s (swt), the Creator’s best creation, thrive without reading, understanding and acting as per the manual revealed by the Creator Himself? How can a Muslim woman dress or carry herself without reading that manual? The Quran and Hadeeth are for us to learn, implement and share with others.

Allah (swt) empowered me with Hijab to wake me up from the slumber I was in; denying the reality of my Fitrah, Haya and the Akhirah. I understand life and Deen very clearly from under my Jilbab. Many of the infections I was suffering from on a spiritual level have been healed, Alhumdulillah!

I want to be the beloved of Allah (swt) and one of the hints Allah (swt) has given me in the Noble Quran to seek His pleasure is to cover myself. He is my Creator, my Owner! He loves to see me covered like a precious pearl; then why shouldn’t I remove the doubts and regrets in my heart about the rigid, irrational ways of society that go against the guidance He revealed through Prophet (sa).

I see many sisters stuck in the same mental state and frustration of preferring culture over religion. Allah (swt), the author of Noble Quran, wrote in the introductory chapter of the Quran,

“This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained).” (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

This is the book, for you and me, in which there is absolutely no doubt. If we don’t understand this, we will never be able to defeat the doubts that are stored in our minds. I had a doubt in my mind that the Quran restricts the woman, but rather it sets me free. We need to crush these doubts and replace them with the illumination Quran gives us regarding the Hijab, even if we start step by step. One must do it by first understanding it herself and then the need to do it. We are the servants of Allah (swt) and we need to seek His pleasure in everything we do.

After the transformation, I have found my soul and understood the Fitrah I was born with. I was programmed to naturally incline towards modesty and beauty, and Hijab means both.

The laws and guidelines in the Quran and Hadeeth regarding Hijab have to be followed first and foremost due to total submission to our Rabb. Lastly, the way this Hijab acts as a reality check, it helps me monitor my actions outside and inside my home. It defines me from the core of my soul; it gives a title to my personality and it empowers me as a woman. It teaches me to grow, learn, write, implement and teach all for the love of Allah (swt). One of the automated reminders this transformation gives me is to repent and turn back to Allah (swt).

To my sisters in Islam, our lost souls belong to Him! Initiate and embrace Hijab. Begin by drawing near to Allah (swt) by a span of your hand! It was reported by Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt), the Exalted and Glorious, said: I am as My servant expects Me and I am with him as he remembers Me. By Allah, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His servant than how one of you would be on finding the lost camel in the waterless desert. When he draws near Me by the span of his hand, I draw near him by the length of a cubit. And when he draws near Me by the length of a cubit, I draw near him by the length of a fathom. And when he draws near Me walking, I draw close to him quickly.” (Bukhari)

I am being myself and this is where I belong!

Are You Comfortable Being a Muslim?

strangersWe as human beings are most likely to give into the pressures of the society and perform deeds just to please the Nafs. Why do we give in? So that someone else can approve of our actions? Our own Nafs can give us some form of appreciation? Surely appreciation makes one feel excellent about oneself and feel motivated to do things with a robust energy. But the question is: Do we tend to bask too long in this “feel good” moment? And the answer comes in positive from within!

Islam is often emphasized as a religion of peace and brotherhood (which surely it is), whereas it also obligates that we follow its injunctions properly in order to enter the fold of Islam completely – as mentioned in the Quran. However many of us cling on to the part of maintaining brotherly ties and goodness way too tightly; when it comes to take a stance and do what is right, we find ourselves agonizing over the reactions of the people: What will my aunt’s cousin say? How will I show my face to the community?

Very conveniently we assume that Allah (swt) will understand and so we beneficially choose a path that is more compliant with the norms of society and our family’s expectations.

Well, do we see something wrong in this picture? Yes, of course! We aren’t worrying about Allah (swt). We really don’t care about Allah’s (swt) approval. Very conveniently we assume that Allah (swt) will understand and so we beneficially choose a path that is more compliant with the norms of society and our family’s expectations. Everything else seems to take precedence over our obligations as Muslims and we become more complacent in the matters of our Deen rather than pondering as to what can be healthy for our Iman.

This complacency results in a lower self-esteem and confidence as Muslims. There is a negative aspect to everything associated with the word “Islam”; Islamic teachings: my parents don’t agree with them. Islamic dress code: I will be ridiculed. An Islamic lifestyle: Oh! It’s too difficult to adopt; I’d rather live comfortably the way the society expects me to. Hence, we slowly edge away from the actions that boost our Iman .We start convincing ourselves unconsciously that our Deen is not good enough and as a Muslim, we are unable to function as a “normal” human being. However, in reality, this is far from the truth. Islam enables us to move beyond the cultural hang up and petty disputes that come with being a “normal” human being. It liberates us from the chains of ignorance gifted to us by our society.

While many elements convince the masses (Muslims included) that Muslim women are oppressed and Muslim men are complete savages, I strongly feel that we as Muslims are buying the stories they concoct about us. Whenever some negative image is portrayed about us, we tell ourselves: “Islam is the religion of peace”. Inwardly, we feel afraid as if someone is pointing at us and our confidence abandons us to openly proclaim our identity.

when someone calls us strange and outdated, instead of feeling ashamed or hurt; ask Allah (swt) to give you the ability to enlighten others with the spark of your Deen and prove yourself to be a blessing in disguise for the humanity

It is true that being the “strange” one in the crowd can be intimidating and we want someone to relate to us. But let’s not become complacent as Muslims, searching for some form of appreciation or comfort from the people. It does not mean that we break ties and turn into hermits. Rather ask Allah (swt) to make His Ordinance our foremost priority. Ask Him to fill our heart with the concern to uplift the plight of this Ummah and give us the strength and confidence to carry out our identity proudly like the companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) and some contemporary examples we find in the form of scholars and some legendary Muslimeen. Lastly, when someone calls us strange and outdated, instead of feeling ashamed or hurt; ask Allah (swt) to give you the ability to enlighten others with the spark of your Deen and prove yourself to be a blessing in disguise for the humanity. May Allah (swt) accept our prayers. Ameen.

In the end, I would like to quote this Hadeeth:

Narrated Abu Hurairah (ra), the Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim)

A Question of Identity

A Question of Identity

By Amreen Rehman – An MBA graduate from Pakistan’s top business school

“Roti (food), Kapra (clothes), Makan (housing) and sex! Yes, sex! These are the basic human needs of today that motivate a person to do something. Our politicians have not been successful, because they have failed to address these basic human needs. Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs ignores the sex aspect…” The debate goes on in the classroom.

“Now we will watch some interactive videos that will depict human behaviour,” the teacher announces. Next, I see some advertisements revolving around nudity and sex, followed by a useless discussion on how these ads promote successful brands.

I am sitting in a marketing elective course known as Consumer Behaviour, but sex is all I’m hearing. As I look around, I see students of both genders, comfortably and casually watching, laughing and taking part in the discussion, leaving me bewildered and confused.

“Am I the only one feeling ashamed to be part of such a group? Have we lost all our values and morals?” I wonder.

I guess I’m talking about the so-called elite class of students, for whom such topics reflect confidence and boldness. What a pity that we have lost our Haya.

Islam defines Haya as modesty that beautifies our lives. “Haya, an inner control, and modesty in one’s talk are two branches of faith; while ill talk and excess talk are signs of hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi) Haya literally means ‘to be alive’, as it keeps our hearts spiritually energized.

Sadly, we have forgotten what Islam stands for. Islam is our Deen – a complete code of life – and our actions and speech should reflect this. In this very course, my teacher had clearly told us we were not allowed to discuss two topics – religion and politics. In fact, all my teachers feel Islam is just a personal matter.

I realize we receive MBA and BBA degrees at the cost of our Deen. Are we spending huge amounts of money in order to debate whether or not gay marriages should be legalized?

This is the state of education in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has made us secular, and though we excel in speaking and writing English more than an ordinary Englishman, it has taken us away from Islam.

Suddenly, my thoughts are disrupted by the sound of the bell. I slowly get up, collect my books and leave the classroom with questions haunting me: “Whatis my identity? Am I a Muslim or have I just become part of the secular class, for whom such concepts as Haya are dead?”

This reminds me of a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “Islam began as something strange and shall return to being something strange. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Sahih Muslim)

It is sad to see how far we have deviated from our Deen and have lost our identity as Muslims. In today’s world, people who act upon the true teachings of Islam have become strangers and constitute a minority. But glad tidings to the few strangers for they are the beloved ones.

Help! I Don’t Remember Who I am!

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Help Who i amSeven years back at the Kuala Lumpur Airport, as I was heading towards the immigration, a young oriental girl approached me hesitantly and asked: “Excuse me, can you help me? You see, I have two bottles of liquor with me and I believe they only permit one per non-Muslim passenger. Can you carry the second bottle for me through customs?” I blinked at her silently and finally found my voice: “I am sorry but I can’t do that. I am a Muslim.”

Another year I travelled to Singapore for a conference. At our official dinners, they served pork and liquor. Naturally, I didn’t partake of it. The rest of my colleagues were non-Muslims, so they enjoyed it. However, they were surprised to learn that I was a Muslim.

Some years later during a shopping spree in Dubai, I was preparing for Salaah, but as I approached the ladies prayer area, a woman asked me suspiciously: “Are you a Muslim?” I stammered: “Y… yes, why are you asking?” She didn’t comment. But her look said: “If I hadn’t found you in this prayer area, I wouldn’t have ever known.”

I was beginning to feel very disturbed that I was not being identified as a Muslim. What was it that I was doing wrong? Slowly the answers started emerging. And at first I didn’t like them at all.

To me there wasn’t much of a difference between a believer’s lifestyle and a disbeliever’s life pattern. In fact, I was closer to their culture than my own. I spoke their language, dressed like them, watched their films, listened to their music, read their books and magazines and enjoyed their shows. I was thinking and behaving like them.

I knew much about the first president of the USA but vaguely anything about our first Caliph. I slept through Eid but never failed to celebrate the Christmas and the New Year with my Muslim as well as non-Muslim friends.

I knew, how many girlfriends my favourite film star had dumped, but didn’t know any of the Azwaj-e-Mutaharat (our Prophet’s (sa) wives). I was proud to know, what my favourite pop singer had for breakfast, but had hardly any idea of what our Prophet’s (sa) favourite cuisine had been.

I was one of the all-encompassing Muslims, for whom it was enough to state ‘Islam’ as their religion, when asked in some official document. It wasn’t important to look like a Muslim, think like a Muslim or even behave like one. I had gotten by so far by avoiding alcohol and pork. Wasn’t that enough?

But then one day I read: “O you who believe! If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) as losers.” (Al-Imran 4:149)


This Ayat was supported by Allah’s Messenger’s (sa) Hadeeth: “Anybody (from among the Muslims) who meets, gathers together, lives and stays (permanently) with a Mushrik (polytheist or disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) and agrees to his ways, opinions and (enjoys) his living with him (Mushrik), then he (that Muslim) is like him (Mushrik).” (Abu Dawood)

No matter how bad a Muslim I had been, I knew well enough, where the Mushriks, or disbelievers, were heading after their death, and I didn’t want to go there with them. Besides, if I followed them blindly, who would pull them out of their disbelief and save them from the Hellfire?

That’s when it dawned on me that I am not just a Muslim to save myself. I have been sent to this world with a mission to save those, who don’t understand Allah’s (swt) message or whom it hasn’t reached yet. The Prophet (sa) took a covenant from Muslims like me to keep sharing Allah’s (swt) message with every Muslim and non-Muslim. And if I don’t even remember who I am? how will I save my friends out there?

No! It matters to me now that I stand out in a crowd as a Muslim. When I smile, when I help, when I am courteous to others, they know it’s a Muslim with a mission. Not someone who is confused about her identity or, even worse, ashamed of it.

Allah, may I never forget who I am. I am yours and only yours.