Lives and Legacies of Fathers and Sons

4 lives legacies of fathers sons

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” (Pablo Picasso) But how do people find their gifts? Allah (swt) inspires hearts through different means. Some are motivated simply by observing the magnificent signs of Allah (swt) in His creations. Others are guided by the turn of events in their lives. Yet for some it is the role models around them that lead them to a higher purpose.

When we explore the men in our history, almost all of them are found to be leading their kith and kin to higher lives. It was not their mission to earn careers and leave behind monetary legacies. It was their centre of focus to raise a child who was God-fearing, chivalrous, and intelligently serving the community. And many of them naturally began with their own sons, students, or subjects. Following are some incredible stories and incidents:

  1. Motivation for memorization

Ibrahim Ibn Adham narrated that his father offered him one Dirham to memorize one Hadeeth as a reward.

  1. Naseehah from a child

A boy came to Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz (rtam) with a group and started talking. Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz asked (rtam): “Is there any elder person in your group?” The boy replied: “A man is known by his heart and tongue not by his age. Otherwise, you would not have been the Khalifah.” Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz (rtam) agreed: “You are correct. Please proceed.” This boy was eleven years old. At the end of the conversation, Umar (rtam) said: “Give me some Naseeha.” The boy did.

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Inspiration from the Life of Umm Sulaym (rta)

flowerblueSaheeh Muslim recorded that the Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I entered Paradise and heard footsteps. So I said, ‘Who is this?’ and they told me, ‘It is al-Ghumaysa’ (rta), the daughter of Milhan, the mother of Anas ibn Malik, (rta) (Umm Sulaym (rta)).”Umm Sulaym bint Milhan (rtf) is known by several names: Sahlah, Rumaylah, Rumaythah, Maleekah, Ghumaysa and Rumaysah. But her most popular name is Umm Sulaym. She was the maternal aunt of the Prophet (sa), either through ties of Rada’ah (breastfeeding) or through ties of blood. Umm Sulaym (rta) was amongst those who pronounced the Shahadah in the early days of Islam. She was an Ansari woman married to Malik ibn Nadr. They had a blessed son by the name of Anas bin Malik (rta). When he was just ten years old, Umm Sulaym took him to the Prophet (sa) so that he could be with him and serve him.

Marital life

At the time Umm Sulaym (rta) came into the folds of Islam, her husband was still a disbeliever. Umm Sulaym (rta) separated from her husband when Malik refused to accept Islam despite constant invitations to the truth. Later, Malik left Madinah and settled in Syria, where he breathed his last. After the demise of her husband, Umm Sulaym (rta) was proposed to by Abu Talha Al Ansari (rta). This was at the time when Abu Talha (rta) was still practising polytheism. Umm Sulaym (rta) invited Abu Talha (rtam) to monotheism. She said to him: “I have embraced Islam, and I do not want any bridal gift (Mahr) other than your acceptance of Islam.” Abu Talha (rta) contemplated for some time and finally returned, only to declare his Shahadah. Thus, Umm Sulaym (rta) became the first Muslim woman whose Mahr was not in the form any worldly object; rather, her Mahr was the acceptance of Islam by the one who had proposed to her. Not only did she find a noble companion, but also succeeded in guiding a person into the folds of Islam.

Woman with an exemplary patience and wisdom

Umm Sulaym (rta) and Abu Talha (rta) were blessed with a son. It so happened that the child fell ill and one day, by the will of Allah (swt), the child departed from this world. Abu Talha was away from home at the time. Umm Sulaym (rta) gave her son his final Ghusl and covered him up. When Abu Talha (rta) returned home, he inquired about their son’s condition. Umm Sulaym (rta) replied: “O Abu Talhah, from the time he fell sick, he has never been as calm as he is now, and I hope that he is resting.” She did not wish to upset her husband so soon after arriving home. When she said that he was calm, she meant the calmness that one attains after being relieved from the pains of sickness. Upon hearing these words, Abu Talha (rta) assumed that his son was on the road to recovery. Consequently, he peacefully had a meal with his wife and took a nap. It was after Abu Talha (rta) had rested, that Umm Sulaym (rtaf) said to him, “O Abu Talhah, do you think that if some people lent something to some others, then they asked for it back, do they have the right not to give it back?” He said, “No.” She said, “Allah (swt), may He be glorified, lent your son to you, and now He has taken him back, so seek reward with Him and have patience.”

The first time I heard this story and these words, I just could not accept it to be true. I thought no mother could ever exhibit such patience at the time of her child’s death. I was wrong. I was wrong because I did not realise what faith actually means – faith in the promises of Allah (swt) for those who bear trials of this life with patience; faith in Allah (swt) that whatever He ordains, there is definitely some good in it for us; faith that this life is transitory – good or bad everything shall pass eventually; therefore, it is the Hereafter that we need to focus upon.

Muhammad Ahmed, my son, moved on to the next world at the age of two-and-a-half months after spending three days in an intensive care unit. Sharing the news of his death with his older siblings was challenging. Challenging in the sense that the manner in which they were to be informed about the departure of a loved one from this world would determine their outlook about life and its trials, as well as, determine their relationship with their Rabb. Alhumdulillah, this beautiful example of Umm Sulaym (rta) gave me the strength that I never knew I possessed. Wa ma Yaufeeqi illa billah.

Concept of grief in Islam

Islam is a Deen upon Fitrah (nature). It does not expect a person to do things beyond their ability. Patience in the face of calamity does not mean that you bottle up your feelings and live your life deprived of emotions. If that was the case, then our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) would not have cried at the time of his son Ibrahim’s death. It is recorded in the Saheehain that at that difficult time, when Prophet (sa) was asked about his tears, he had replied: “The eyes tear, the heart is in pain. But (with my tongue) I will only say that which is pleasing to Allah (swt). And we are indeed sad at your departure, O Ibraheem.”  If crying was prohibited, then Yaqoob (as) would not have cried at the separation of his son Yusuf (as) to the extent that he lost his eye-sight. It is normal and acceptable to feel grief and pain in one’s heart over the loss of a blessing. What is not acceptable is our failure to recognise that it was an Amanah which had to return to its Owner.

It is recorded in Tirmidhi that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: When a man’s child dies, Allah (swt) asks His angels: “Have you taken the life of the child of my slave?” And they say: “Yes”. Allah (swt) then asks: “Have you taken the fruit of his heart?” And they say: “Yes.” Allah (swt) then asks: “What did my slave say?” The angels say: “He praised you and said ‘Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon’.” (We are all Allah’s (swt) property, and we will all surely return to Him.) And then Allah (swt) says, “Build a house for my slave in Jannah and name it Bait Al Hamd (The House of Praise).”

Umm Sulaym (rta) earned Jannah for herself in return for her total submission to Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) be pleased with her, and may He guide us through her example. Ameen.

Our Desired Goal

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

My Quran Reflections Journal – 3

Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 5 Reflection

Surah Al Baqarah (Ayahs 8-16)

Our Desired Goal

Today’s lesson revolved around the third category of people mentioned in Surah Fatihah (Ayat 7) – Ad-Duaaleen (the Munafiqun). These are those disbelievers, who went astray. They had Hidayah Ilmi (knowledge) but were deficient of Hidaya Tawfeeqi (capacity to implement the knowledge).

Some signs of such people are:

1) They try to deceive Allah (swt) and the believers and collaborate in doing so, but end up deceiving themselves.

2) They consider the Mutaqeen foolish and mock them.

3) They lie and pretend to be among the believers, but when alone with their type of people, they declare they are among them (the Shayateen).

4) They create corruption and mischief on the Earth, and, when asked not to do it, they say they’re among the rectifiers.

My mind was continuously wandering; deceptive people, liars, mockers, people who joke around and lie in their jokes, too, people who consider others foolish and think of themselves as superior, those who are pretentious and mischievous, these are the ones, whom Allah (swt) has left to transgress and such people will never be guided. These are the hypocrites that Allah (swt) refers to as Ad- Duaaleen.

I couldn’t think any further. Time for some serious retrospection – Tazkiya-e-Nafs (self analysis). I am not in a position to say anything, because I first need to rectify myself and clear myself of all such habits. Only then will I be able to come out of this category.

I also thought that a lot of these characteristics are directly proportional to one’s level of Taqwa (Allah-consciousness). The higher the Taqwa, the more the cautiousness of not committing the sins named above. Henceforth, my desired goal is to make continuous Dua for increase in Taqwa, Insha’Allah, along with actions, which would lead me to put my Ilm (knowledge) into Amal (action).

I thought of sharing this Dua with all of you. I pray that this Masnoon Dua benefits us all, Bi Idhn Allah.

“Allahumma Ati Nafsi Taqwaha wa Zakkiha anta Khayru man Zakkiha anta Waliyyuha wa Mawlaha.” (“O Allah, grant my soul its piety and purify it, You are the best to purify it, You are its Guardian and Master.”)

I also pray that the next time we all pray to be among the pure believers, the Mutaqeen (Alladheena Ana’mta) and not from the pure disbelievers, the Kafireen (Al-Maghdoob), and neither from the hypocrites, the Munafiqun, (Ad-Duaaleen), we say it with our whole hearts. May Allah (swt) listen to us and guide us to the straight path. Aameen.

Day 6 Reflection

Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 18

Our Inner State

“Deaf, dumb and blind they would never return to the right way.” (Al-Baqarah 2:18)

I was stuck on this Ayat last evening. It describes the inner state of the hypocrites. However, what one needs to understand is that these people are not literally deaf, they hear the Divine message but deny it; they are not literally dumb or mute, because they do mock the believers. Neither are these individuals literally blind, but their vision is impaired because of their lofty aspirations and excessive materialistic desires. Hence, they stay oblivious to the truth – the Haq (knowledge).

I just want to ask myself: am I one of those? Was I from among them in the past? Would I want to stay one of them in the future? If not, then this Ayat serves as a wake-up call for me and, in fact, for all of us.

I beg Allah (swt) not to seal our hearts and allow our hearing, sight and speaking faculties to do their jobs in the way that is most pleasing to Him. Aameen.

Inspirational Real Life Marriage Stories


What is true marital love? Let’s take a look at some examples found in true stories:

 Exchange of Lovely Compliments

Once, the Prophet (sa) was sitting in a room with Aisha (rtaf) and fixing his shoes. It was very warm. Aisha (rtaf) looked at his blessed forehead and noticed that there were beads of sweat on it. She became overwhelmed by the majesty of that sight. She stared at him long enough for him to notice. He asked, “What’s the matter?”

She replied: “If Abu Bukair Al-Huthali, the poet, saw you, he would know that his poem was written for you.”

The Prophet (sa) asked: “What did he say?”

She replied: “Abu Bukair said that if you look at the majesty of the moon, it twinkles and lights up the world for everybody to see.”

The Prophet (sa) got up, walked to Aisha (rtaf), kissed her between the eyes, and said: “By Allah, O Aisha, you are like that to me and more.” (Baihaqi)

Reassurance of Love

Aisha (rtaf) and the Prophet (sa) would use code language with each other denoting their love. She asked the Prophet (sa) how he would describe his love for her. Prophet Muhammad (sa) answered: “Like a strong binding knot.” The more you tug, the stronger it gets, in other words.

Every so often Aisha (rtaf) would playfully ask: “How is the knot?” The Prophet (sa) would answer: “As strong as the first day (you asked).” Then, he said: “By Allah, nothing will harm me in this life, when I know that you will be my wife in Paradise.” (Abu Nuaym in Hilyat al-Awliya, 2/44; quoted by Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Lisan al-Mizan, no. 760, Ash-Shawkani in Al-Fawaid, no.1180)

Keeping an Eye on the Real Prize

According to the scholars (Ulema), there was once a very beautiful woman married to a dark man, whose features made him look extremely strange and scary. They were both, however, very happy together, because both were very righteous individuals, who were devoted to Allah (swt). One day, the husband happened to smile in happiness, as he looked at his wife, and at this, she said: “We are the entrants of Paradise.” Her husband asked how she came to know this, and she continued: “When you look at me, you smile in gratitude, and when I look at you, I exercise patience. A Hadeeth says that both the grateful and the patient shall enter Paradise.” (“Islam and Marriage” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad)

Consideration for the Other

Aisha (rtaf) relates: “By Allah, I saw the Prophet Muhammad (sa) standing at the door of my room when some Abyssinians were playing with spears in the mosque. The Messenger of Allah (sa) screened me with his cloak so that I could watch the spear-play over his shoulder. He stayed there for my sake until I had seen enough.” (Bukhari)

While on a journey, Prophet Musa’s (as) wife had to stop because of a headache. Musa (as) told her to rest while he fetched firewood to build a fire for warmth. Here we have an excellent example in which we see prophets engaged in providing ease and comfort to their wives. Hence, men should not shy away from any kind of work and responsibility but embrace the opportunity. (“Islam and Marriage” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad)

Being Patient for the Sake of Love

The son of Abu Talhah (rtam) and Umm Sulaim (rtaf) had been ailing. Abu Talhah (rtam) set out on a journey, and his son breathed his last in his absence. Very worried that her husband would be extremely saddened at the news, Umm Sulaim (rtaf) she sat contemplating what she should do. She then bathed the child’s body and laid it in the cot with a blanket over it. She requested her family members to not inform Abu Talhah (rtam) about the child’s death immediately.

When Abu Talhah (rtam) came back, he asked (his wife): “What about my child?” Umm Sulaim (rtaf) said: “He is now in a more comfortable state than before.”

The husband hence thought the child was sleeping. The couple ate together, discussed his trip, and retired for the night.

The next morning, she said: “Abu Talhah, if some people borrow something from another family and then the members of the family ask for its return, would they resist its return? He said: “No.” She said: “I inform you about the death of your son.”

He was annoyed at that. Later, Abu Talhah (rtam) came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) and informed him about this. Whereupon, he asked: “Did you spend the night with her?” He answered: “Yes.” The Prophet (sa) then supplicated: O Allah, bless both of them.”

As a result of this blessing, Umm Sulaim (rtaf) gave birth to a child. The Prophet (sa) named him Abdullah. (Muslim)

My Ramadan Inspiration

ramadanWe have been given a concept of living ‘in moderation’ by the west. Little Deen, little Dunya and it is readily accepted by our modern day generation.

We live in a house which we find the best. We need a job that is secure and the best. For our children’s education, there is no compromise; they should be in the best school. And which parents would love their children to score low. Hence, for Dunya we aspire for everything of best quality. Even the tiles of our kitchen and bathroom are chosen with great care and should be the best. Our Deen, our way of life, the aspect which would decide our Akhirah, the foundation stones of Jannah should it be substandard and should we be happy with it. Allah (swt) has said in the Quran that He has made man for worshipping Him. Allah (swt) also has promised that He will guide those striving on His path, whether male or female and reward them with a life of bliss.

In other words, these are the ones who will be contented in Dunya and will not participate in the rat race towards Dunya and money. But they run to Allah (swt); run to revive Deen; run for the wellbeing of others; run to make others happy… Allah (swt) has bestowed us with Ramadan to practice all these deeds and be firm on them.

In Ramadan, we think more about our food than about the Sahabas, who tied stones to their bellies for spreading the Deen. We are worried about our rest more than the world, which is deprived of the pearls of Deen. We are worried more about clothes for the Eid than about our lowly deeds. We cry under our pillows when we are in trials, but forget to weep over our sins, which are the main reason for them.

So let’s begin from today and keep involuntary fasts, include supererogatory Ibadah, immerse in Dhikr because Allah (swt) says, “Fazkurullaha Dhikr an Kaseera”- Do my Dhikr abundantly, repent with remorse not just to wash off your sins; but make a sincere promise to Allah (swt) to lead a life of Taqwa , piety and sincerity. May Allah (swt) guide us all and keep us guided till our last breath. Ameen

Today is All You Have!

hour-glassI was walking back home with my husband quite late in the night, but the streets were still crowded. There was a buzz of cricket going all around, “What’s the score? Who is batting?”  Someone asked my husband too, but he said he didn’t even know that there was a match that day.

Because of the crowd, we decided to sit at a friend’s store that was still open; he too had the commentary of the match running on the radio. Soon a Burqa-clad woman came and sat next to me. She looked quite odd. I had to blink my eyes in order to confirm what I was seeing, and the next moment, I shrieked, as it turned out to be a skeleton. The first thought to come to my mind was that it could only be the angel of death or the devil; no doubt no one else could see her.

I started reciting: Aoodhu billahi min-ash-Shaitan ir-Rajeem, with my heart beating very fast. I tried to scream but no voice came out of my mouth. I turned to see where my husband was, and lo – I was comfortably sleeping on my bed. It was a bad dream. I was so relieved. I read the Duas to be read according to the Sunnah, when we see a bad dream. I spit on the left three times, sought refuge in Allah (swt) from Shaitan and the evil of what I had seen; I did not relate it to anyone; I turned and slept back on the side opposite to which I was sleeping previously.

When sleeping, think that this might be me my last sleep, and I might get up in the grave; when waking up in the morning, think that this might be the last dawn to save myself from the hellfire.

After that dream, some thoughts kept disturbing me; the angel of death could be hovering by. Let us think: have we collected enough good deeds, and more importantly, have we repented for our sins? The foremost act is to seek forgiveness from those, whom we have hurt or from those for whom we carry a grudge or who were a victim of our backbiting, because if we do not, then on the Day of Judgement we will have to compensate their bad deeds with our good deeds. Moreover, Allah (swt) wants us to return to Him with a Qalbe Saleem – a heart which is pure: clean from impurities of Dunya, its lust, hatred, jealousy and all other negative traits, which make our heart dirty. He has stated in the Quran,

“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail. Except him who brings to Allah a clean heart (clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)).” (Ash-Shuara 26:88-89)

Prepare for death! Every time you stand to pray five times a day, think that this might be your last standing before Allah (swt) in Dunya. Also, when sleeping, realize that this might be your last sleep, and you might wake up in the grave; when waking up in the morning, understand that this might be the last dawn to save yourself from hellfire. All these thoughts will save us from gossip and vain talks; they will keep us on our toes and help us prepare for the afterlife Insha’Allah.

An Incident to Reflect

Opened_Qur'anIt is impossible to praise the Quran the way it deserves. The excellence, that the Quran portrays, makes all the words written about it seem very minute. When you keep reading and understanding the Quran, a strong relation is developed between you and the Quran. It becomes the mind with which you analyze things. It becomes the eyes with which you see the world. It becomes the heart with which you understand the world around you. You face a situation and all of a sudden you remember a verse. Sometimes a situation makes you understand the true meaning of a verse, which is not fully understood by reading the tafseer alone.

For example, Allah (swt) says that on the Day of Judgement, if a person would wish to give the whole world in ransom to free himself from the hellfire, it will not be accepted from him.

“Verily, those who disbelieve, if they had all that is in the earth, and as much again therewith to ransom themselves thereby from the torment on the Day of Resurrection, it would never be accepted of them, and theirs would be a painful torment.” (Al-Maida -36)

Moreover, that day will be so fearful that a person would want to give away his son, his wife and his close friend in ransom for himself but all of this would be in vain.

“That Day shall a man flee from his brother,And from his mother and his father And from his wife and his children. Everyman, that Day, will have enough to make him careless of others.” (Abasa 34-37)

 We however tend to forget that  we are performing at the center of the stage; every word that we speak with our tongues and every gesture that our body makes is being recorded.

Recently, we came back from a very long journey by road. We were exhausted and needed immediate rest. However, our lives are a test and most tests from Allah (swt) come at a time when we are emotionally venerable.

Arriving home we found out that there was some major fault with the electricity. This meant no fans! No fans meant no sleep. Alhumdulillah, we cannot thank Allah (swt) for all the blessings that He has bestowed over us. My brother went to start up the generator. Forlornly, he came and informed us that it was out of fuel.  Every one of us faces such drastic situations. We however tend to forget that  we are performing at the center of the stage; every word that we speak with our tongues and every gesture that our body makes is being recorded.

My mother at that time did not have enough cash for the fuel. At that moment I made an offer I would have never made in normal circumstances. I said, irritated, that I will give the money. I offered money from the precious treasure that I had earned on Eid: of course, the grand Eidi. I had made so many plans of spending my Eidi, but at that moment, all I wanted was the fan to start. I would have given every single penny I owned just for me to get relaxed.

I had made so many plans of spending my Eidi, but at that moment, all I wanted was the fan to start. I would have given every single penny I owned just for me to get relaxed.

There and then this verse came to my mind, that on the Day of Resurrection, a person would be ready to give every single possession he owned to save himself from the terrible heat of hellfire. As the thought revolved in my mind, I shivered and was shocked. I looked around. I was in my home. If there was no electricity, at least there was a cool breeze. I had cold water to drink and my stomach was well-fed. I was not standing bare-foot on a scorching ground. I understood the depth of the verse and got a small picture of the circumstances we have to face on the Day of Qiyamah.

May Allah (swt) enable us to inculate the Quran in our daily lives and understand the depth of its meaning as they apply to us.

Community Matters


The basic question to ask yourself at this very point in time is: “What legacy do you want to leave behind? Consider the lives of the prophets, who brought significant change in their respective societies. Prophet Muhammad (sa) led the Ummah to success. Caliphs like Umar (rta) and scholars like Imam Ash-Shafi left their mark on this world. The question is: “What have you done? Besides personal achievements, what are your imprints in the society in which you live? What are you doing to bring about positive social change?”

Let’s talk a bit about change. As a member of the Muslim Ummah, bringing about positive change is a part of our mission. Anything that does not grow is considered to be dead, for example, a chair or a desk. On the other hand, even a small plant grows, because it is alive. Allah (swt) has designated us as the best Ummah, but being the best comes with a responsibility mentioned in the following verse:

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

Consider the above verse. We are instructed to enjoin good and forbid evil, and this command has been mentioned before the one to “believe in Allah (swt)”. Why? It is because belief in Allah (swt) is not a unique quality of Muslims. A majority believes in God at some level. The Muslim Ummah differs in the sense that it believes in Allah (swt) and it is also concerned about others. A Mumin needs to consider not just one’s individual good deeds like praying and fasting; one needs to take into account one’s contribution towards the betterment of the Ummah. And the most effective way of contributing positively to the Ummah is to enjoin good and forbid evil. First, let’s find out how the prophets did it, and then look at what we can do today.

How did the prophets do it?

  • Story of Prophet Yusuf (as)

Prophet Yusuf (as) was a victim of his brothers’ evil plotting, when he was a young boy. We all know how he was thrown into a well, rescued by a caravan and sold as a slave in Egypt. We recall how he was placed in jail. We’ve read this story many times. Now, consider what happens when the king’s messenger comes to fetch him out of prison. What did he say to him? The Quran mentions:

“And the king said: ‘Bring him to me.’ But when the messenger came to him, [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Return to your lord and ask him, ‘What happened to the women who cut their hands? Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well-Aware of their plot.’’” (Yusuf 12:50)

Prophet Yusuf (as) first asked about the women, who had wronged him. He cleared his name at the first opportunity he got. Thereafter, he asked to be made the state treasurer or finance minister.

“…Then, when he spoke to him, he said: ‘Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.’ [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge’ (as a minister of finance in Egypt, in place of Al-Aziz who was dead at that time).” (Yusuf 12:54-55)

Once he was given this position, he created a system, whereby the country stocked up on good harvest for seven years and then, when they were hit by a drought for the next seven, people from other countries came to them for rations. The system created by Prophet Yusuf (as) is a good example of civic engagement. Now, ask yourself: how active are you in your community?

  • Story of Prophet Musa (as)

Prophet Musa (as) was a strong leader, who dared to ask Allah (swt) that he wanted to see Him. He brought a major change to Bani Israel, using two of his major strengths: powerful connections (he had grown up in the house of the Pharaoh) and physical strength. If Allah (swt) has blessed you with some positive quality, like intelligence or high IQ, consider it to be an Amanah from Allah (swt) and use it wisely.

  • Story of Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Prophet Ibrahim (as) questioned the age-old traditions of his family and community. He refused to accept them without any rationale. Unfortunately, Muslims today do the exact opposite. They follow their traditions and customs blindly, without thinking. Prophet Ibrahim (as) was very vocal about his beliefs. He recognized Allah (swt) and invited people to the best religion. Later, he broke their idols and was thrown into the fire by his own people. When Jibreel (as) came to ask him if there was anything he could do for him, Ibrahim (as) replied that he needed everything from Allah (swt) only. It was Ibrahim’s (as) faith that caused the laws of physics to change. Allah (swt) commanded the fire to cool down and protect Ibrahim (as). Subhan’Allah! What makes us think today that Allah (swt) will not protect us? Insha’Allah, He will, as long as He is on our side.

What can we do?                    

Positive change was the aim and message of every prophet. It is a fact that people are afraid of change. They are scared of others judging them, hurting them or taking advantage of them, if they try to do anything that is different. Yet the prophets worked around this challenge and invited people to Islam.

Today, when we get together as a community, we usually focus on the negative practices of others. We remain engrossed in the wrongs that others are doing. We never talk about the positive factors or how we can change the negative into the positive.

Here are some initial steps we can take to transform this trend:

  1. Take an initiative. Don’t remain passive; don’t feel you ‘cannot do anything’. Focus on ideas to serve your community.
  2. Think of micro problems around you that you can solve. For now, don’t dwell on macro problems, resolving which is not within your capacity.
  3. Remember you cannot force change. Guidance comes from Allah (swt), and if you coerce people, they will reject change.
  4. Be a role model. Start your day with Fajr Salah and the Sunnah supplications of the morning. Eat and drink the Sunnah way.
  5. Your children are tomorrow’s generation. Rise up to parenting challenges and raise them to be productive members of the community.
  6. Be careful about places that the community uses. Stop looking for shortcuts. In the Masajid, we see shoes scattered everywhere, while the racks for shoes are empty. Many people are careless about using public washrooms. This only reflects our way of thinking.
  7. Apply the principle of Al-Hubb or loving one another. The Prophet (sa) explicitly mentioned that those, who are not merciful to the poor, are not one of us. True believers are those, who love for others what they love for themselves. We can’t sit and watch our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer all over the Ummah. Supplicate for them. Help financially, if you can.
  8. Never put down a brother or sister in Islam. Don’t think of anyone as beneath you.
  9. Exchange gifts. Do this with a sincere intention. Don’t consider it to be a social obligation.

Today, the Muslim community faces many diverse issues. Work on developing micro solutions to solve the problems. May Allah (swt) enable us to reach our end with Khayr. Ameen.

Adapted from a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Umm Ibrahim.


My Mother Was An Inspiration



I hear a loud and vibrant chant from the dining table where a group of 15 or more mid-teenagers congregate four times a week for their ‘Islamiat’ classes.

These kinds of students have been flocking for almost a decade at the residence where I stay in order to prepare for their final O-Level Examination. They are tutored, examined, and made to revise and practice every minute detail of the syllabus. They have to attempt questions from previous examinations as well as anticipated questions in the forthcoming test. The teaching goes beyond books, notes and lectures where the practicality and application of the beliefs are applied and proven. In some cases, individual counselling is provided for students and their parents who are seeking guidance.

This started off as a feeble attempt to better understand the religion. With time, patience, hard work and dedication, the tutor was able to capture and captivate the hearts, minds and souls of several hundred young adults, their parents and even their grandparents! And from the results that pour in, it shows.

Born into a minority sect of Islam, she struggled in accepting the beliefs and practices of those following it. She questioned, cross-questioned and cross-examined every ritual and ceremony that took place in their places of worship. She would spend endless hours in gaining answers from her father and then turning to Allah over and over again. She would pray and fast as the way of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Companions and would make special efforts in gaining more knowledge of the Deen from practicing friends and their families.

The year she turned 18, her father gifted her a three-volume set of A. Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Holy Quran. She would reading this guidance for many years on, passing the inspiration to the generations following her.

I had always admired my mother from a young age. Being the eldest and only daughter for the first seven years, I would be the dog’s tail attached around my mother, especially when she would be working in the kitchen or managing and organizing the home for guests. I was there at her beck and call and learnt how she would be cleaning the meats before cooking, chopping vegetables and preparing the meal in the pot. Then there were the finer etiquettes that a young lady was required to have – laying the table, handling cutlery and crockery and serving the guests. After numerous rounds of serving friends and well-wishers through umpteen rounds of breaking and damaging fine china, my mother had declared me fit enough to handle the guests and kitchen on my own.

It was during those years and subsequently after that I learnt of a secret she had well-kept from me. In the hours that I was in the school, on the days my timetable did not have an ‘Islamic Studies’ class scheduled, my mother would slide my textbook off the shelf to read and gain knowledge from those enlightened pages. When my siblings and I would return from school, she would be eager to sit with us and learn what we had learnt that day by asking a million questions as a five-year old does! When we would have to learn some Ayats (Verses) from the Quran or a Dua (Prayer), she would make sure she kept herself free and would memorise them along with us.

Year upon year, she would be reading those ‘Islamic Studies’ textbooks and had almost a photographic memory by the end of the eighth level! I only got wind of this when I would question her on some issue and her response would be that I read it from a certain textbook. Many a times we would playfully argue regarding a matter and she would say: “Have you already forgotten? It is in YOUR textbook!”

It was a day in 1997 when my sister came complaining to my mother about the teacher discussing a certain topic in her ‘Islamiat’ class that was totally uncalled for. This angered my mother greatly and she had decided to visit the principal as soon as she could. The principal, of British origin, was a level-headed lady and was kind enough to listen to my mother’s point of view and thereby learn of the correct way of the religion. She immediately offered my mother to teach the same from the next academic year as she did receive a few other complaints regarding the current teacher and found my mother’s knowledge to be stronger and more practical.

My mother refused immediately and suggested that she should find someone who is more well-versed in the religion and more importantly, with the method of teaching and syllabus as she had no experience. The principal was firm in her belief and assured my mother that she would be willing to help her at any point in time and so would the other teachers, so she should go home, consult the family and return for the following academic year shortly.

The first year was the most difficult for her, I remember. She had about three to four grades to teach with a couple of sections that totalled to almost one hundred students. They were groups of girls and boys, anywhere from between 13 years of age to 17 with raging hormones and innumerable questions at the drop of a hat. The principal’s reassurances and the help from her colleagues is what kept her going. Late night assignment and homework checking was another factor that brought up her confidence and love for the subject. Her passion and drive to improve herself for her students grew further through the months and years she taught at the school.

Her health and the never-ending workload five years later, made her decide to tutor from home where she could manage fewer students whom she could pick and choose herself. The group was small initially – four to six in the first year to a double group of the same in the following year. Word got out amongst the students with whom she had coached and started spreading in the schools they studied and amongst their siblings. Mothers would be discussing when they would meet and would pass on her contact information. They too, felt comfortable enough to talk to her and would either call or visit her after her classes for their own counselling. In this way, their respective children had become more focused and better able to comprehend the lessons thereafter.

Sadly, in May 2011, she decided to close her tuitions with the batch that had just completed their term with her. She said she was “tired” and that she “had completed my (her) work”. She had asked her students to distribute the notes they had, as opposed to her recollecting them at the end of the year as was her practice. She wished for the other students to gain knowledge about Islam as much as all her other batches had, in years gone by.

It was two days after her birthday in August 2011 that she slept a peaceful sleep, only to never wake up.

As I sit in that same dining room receiving her former students and their parents who come to offer their condolences, I still feel her presence and can remember those lessons she would be preparing with me before teaching them.

That lady was my mother, Niamet Hashambhoy Khalid, more popularly known as Mrs. Niamet.

She’s an inspiration!


The understanding of concepts like Islamic teachings, Hijab, home schooling, and motivational conversations, and so much more I must give credit to her for.

Growing up as the eldest in a family of four really didn’t mean that I was the leader, or guide, or “knower of all cool stuff” for my siblings. It may be that in many families the eldest born is the path maker, or the pillar of strength or bond between siblings. I am not saying that I saw myself as that, but what I thought should have been was in fact the role played by my younger sister, the second born.

It all started in high school, as far as I can remember. I am not proud to declare this, but it was a time when growing up in a western environment, in Kenya – Nairobi, had its due peer pressure where we were discovering the world, so to speak. I never had the guts to directly ask my parents for permission to attend parties, or go out with friends. But my younger sister would motivate me. Please don’t get me wrong. It does seem like this was a negative thing to do but I want to point out that her strength and persuasiveness, and ability to convince and communicate is what I realised and started to rely upon a lot, and still do.

The real and first suitable example I can start with is when I was in university, doing my Post Graduate studies and she was in Pakistan for her Medical undergraduate studies. We were talking to her on the phone, like we often used to, catching up, and sharing. By “we” I mean the family; parents and two younger brothers. Suddenly, while my father was speaking to her, I heard him say, “Of course Beta! You do not need my permission to fulfil what Allah has requested. Masha Allah if this is really what you want, please go ahead.”

I was intrigued! While we would take turns talking to her, we would be sitting around in the room, just keeping each other company and sharing the “miss-my-sister/daughter” feeling. My father’s words seemed so important and I was sure I had heard a hint of pride in his voice as he had said them.

After he finished his conversation, it was my turn. I would usually take the cordless to my room to speak to her in private. We were very close, like best friends, something which developed due to a past occurrence, another story for another time. I immediately asked, “What were you talking to Baba about?” Her strong but gentle reply was, “Appa, I want to start wearing Hijab, so I wanted to ask Baba about this and Insha’Allah I will now do so.”

I won’t forget the knot in my stomach. It felt like such a big decision, and at that time I didn’t even realise that this small decision meant so much more.“Are you sure?” I asked. Thinking back, I feel so ashamed now when I remember that at that time I kept thinking to myself, “Why? Why is she doing this?” Subhan Allah! That was just the start. After that, she played the role of information giver, answering all questions, and eventually one who opened the teachings of Islam as a reality and way of life to me. If I recall correctly, a year after that, I too started wearing Hijab, Alhamdulillah.

Another time, after I was married for about five years and my sister had two daughters at that time, she introduced me to something new. She had been facing problems with the school system where she had a job as an Administrator, the same school that her daughters attended. Working there had given her a deep insight into the system and though the school was surely putting a lot of efforts into their goal and mission, there seemed to be a lot of issues that were not being addressed which affected the students and their learning, and eventually their lives. She would tell me about them from time to time.

Then, it came, like many of her “bomb-blast” announcements, she had decided to start home schooling her children! Such a concept is not very familiar for the Asian subcontinent. As usual, I felt apprehension and confusion. Such a big decision this was. I did not doubt her capability but what did this mean? After talking to her and our many conversations, I began to understand. She made a decision for the benefit of her children. How did this benefit me? When you learn or realise that man has created uniformity and limitations which eventually act as shackles towards thinking, and growth of emotion and sometimes knowledge, it feels like a breath of fresh air, a glimpse of freedom when you realise that these shackles are only self-made and that Allah has created freedom for all to enjoy through His guidance and teaching. She educated me and opened my mind towards options which I never knew even existed.

My younger sister, May Allah give her strength and happiness, always strives to live her life and manage her family to the best of her ability. This ability is aimed towards gaining the pleasure of Allah, our Creator, Sustainer and Provider. There have been so many times when I feel mentally exhausted, depressed, or anxious, and all I have to do is speak to her and her words motivate me and give me strength to tolerate or work through the problems. Alongside, she always reminds me that we are not alone, Allah is always listening to our prayers and since He knows best, all will be taken care of.

Age has nothing to do with maturity, or knowledge, it is Allah’s will and through people like my younger sister who do not fear making the right decision, one learns and tries to do what is right, Insha Allah!



Maryam (as): A Source of Inspiration for Single Women

Single Women

Marriage is an essential ritual of our Deen. However, for various reasons, many women remain unsuccessful in tying the knot. Consequently, they face social and physiological problems. These issues can be solved easily with guidance from the Quran. Surprisingly, one of the women mentioned by the Quran was not wedded; rather, she remained single all her life. She is Maryam (as), whose complete life is a source of inspiration.

Since men and women are created differently, their capabilities also vary. Maryam’s (as) mother might have thought of this when she gave birth to a girl, instead of a boy. Previously, she had vowed to give away her child in service to God. In her view, a male was more suitable for this purpose. The Quran records her bafflement in the following words: “Then when she delivered her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: ‘O my Lord! I have given birth to a female child,’ – and Allah knew better what she brought forth, – ‘And the male is not like the female…’” (Aal-Imran 3:36)

Nonetheless, when there is firm faith in Allah (swt), women can achieve superior goals. Being a woman is not a weakness; rather, weakness is failure to recognize the abilities bestowed by Allah (swt) and to utilize them in a positive manner. In spite of being a female, Maryam (as) was readily accepted in the Temple of Sulaiman, where she was put under the care of Zakariya (Zachariya) (as). “…Every time he entered Al-Mihrab to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: ‘O Maryam (Mary)! From where have you got this?’ She said: ‘This is from Allah.’ Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit.” (Aal-Imran 3:37)

Unmarried women generally have two kinds of fears: the fear of protection and the fear of being financially dependent. A believing woman must remain sure of the fact that Allah (swt) is Al-Hafeez (the Supreme Protector) and Ar-Razzaq (the Provider of Provisions). Obedience to Allah (swt) is the key to attaining peace of mind. Allah (swt) has His special ways of giving provision to His creation. Humans are only required to strive. It is Allah’s (swt) responsibility to grant them their sustenance.

The most crucial moment in Maryam’s (as) life was the birth of Isa (as). Maryam (as) was extremely pious as well as a staunch worshiper of Allah (swt). Conception of a child without marriage by such a pious lady was indeed a huge trial from Allah (swt); yet, she faced it with complete steadfastness and patience. Remaining single is a trial in itself. For dealing with this trial, firstly, a person must accept it as a decree from Allah (swt), and secondly, it must be faced with patience. Patience implies discarding all kinds of negativity from one’s life and moving ahead with a positive attitude.

The noble character of Maryam (as) is portrayed in Surah At-Tahrim: “And Maryam (Mary), the daughter of Imran, who safeguarded her chastity…” (At-Tahrim 66:12)

Humans have desires embedded in them. Thus, it is natural to look for ways to satisfy these desires. Nikah is the Halal way to satisfy sexual desires; however, there are some who are unable to get married. Allah (swt) has specifically highlighted this characteristic of Maryam (as), because it is the kind of behaviour that is required from bachelors/spinsters. Islam not only delivers commands but also helps in their implementation. According to Islamic teachings, a person should ward off erotic thoughts from one’s mind and should keep one’s sight and hearing safe from Haram and everything that can lead to Haram. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The Zina of the eyes is looking, the Zina of the ears is listening, the Zina of the tongue is speaking, the Zina of the hand is touching, and the Zina of the foot is walking. The heart wishes and longs, and the private part confirms that or denies it.” (Muslim)

Secondly, a person should fast as Prophet Muhammad (sa) instructed: “O young men! Whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, and whoever is not able to do that then let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.” (Bukhari)

The latter part of the verse depicts more superior qualities of Maryam (as): “…and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and (also believed in) His Scriptures, and she was of the Qanitin (i.e. obedient to Allah).” (At-Tahrim 66:12)

Undiminished belief in the scriptures can be attained only by a thorough knowledge of them. This suggests that Maryam (as) strived hard to acquire knowledge. Single women usually don’t have many responsibilities; hence, they have a prime opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills. However, many women waste this precious time, and the resulting idleness becomes a cause for many physiological problems. Often, such women suffer from mental illnesses, which create difficulties for their families.

A general advice for every woman is to reflect upon and ponder over the noble character of Maryam (as). She is a source of guidance for success in both this world and the hereafter, as told explicitly by Prophet Muhammad (sa): “Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Maryam (as), the daughter of Imran, and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh.” (Bukhari)