Help your children stay safe

safe-kidsChildren are one of the lovely blessings of Allah (swt). Having children and grooming them according to Islam to become a good human is very difficult. The lap of a mother is the first institution for a child where he learns about the world, and the principles of piousness.

Protecting your child from the dark shadows of the world is highly challengeable. There are a number of people who have a sense of right and wrong; but there are also a number of people who have an unstoppable urge for this world- simply called as the devil for the society- whose sole purpose is to spread the mess.

“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind”- provide it to your child!

Some of the things that mainly vitiate your child are:  media, bad environment, bad company, internet, and also, sensual female protagonist games. Try to keep away your children from fight-oriented movies and games because it may bring aggressiveness, frustration, obstinacy and revolt in them. Moreover, it also declines their IQ level.

Prepare and prevent, rather than repair and repent!

To protect your child, you should train in such a way that they themselves can mark between the good and bad.  Especially, this is the responsibility of a mother to teach them about the dubious people wearing the mask of innocence.

Love and trust- go together!

  • Always show that you really trust them. Try to spend proper time with your child. If they try to tell something but hesitate, then let them feel comfortable with yourself because you are the only one who is nearest to them and understands their emotions.
  • Teach your child  that no one has right to see, touch or play with your private body parts
  • They must never accept any food stuff or gift from a stranger. They must refuse their offer on the spot and leave. .
  • Sometimes, the children think that they are at fault, and their elder would punish them or beat them; they start hiding the things which leads to destruction because of the absence of guidance.

Hug you kids at home, but belt them in cars!

Don’t leave your child alone at home or anywhere with servants. If your child is an extrovert, and starts talking to anyone, then softly advise him/her not to talk to strangers.

The Media-mania

Media is one of the biggest monsters and a catastrophe for our children. No one has time to keep an eye on them. There are so many tactics using which you can save children from the destruction. For instance- set a specific time to watch the television. Discuss their views on the program which they watched; but remember, do not show them that you keep a check on them; or make them feel that you are an investigator.

Filter your conversation with your child according to his/her age and understanding. In this century, no doubt, grooming children is like a Rocket Science. Parenthood brings a huge responsibility your shoulders.

Delivering the best knowledge to your child is an on-going struggle. Global knowledge along with the knowledge of religion is what makes the child rise and shine. Islam is the best code of conduct for all.

In Spotlight: Fiqh of Social Media

FiqhofSocialMedia-logo

In this exclusive interview with Hiba Magazine, Br Omar Usman, founding member of MuslimMattersQalam InstituteMuslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims, talks about his project, Fiqh of Social Media (http://fiqhofsocial.media/). Brother Omar is a regular khateeb and has also served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations.

1. For people who haven’t yet heard of it, what exactly is Fiqh of Social Media? It’s a blog, it’s an e-book, it’s definitely a fantastic idea to address pressing issues related to social media… but how would you define it?

Social media has transformed our lives within the span of a couple of years. It’s like it crept up on us when we weren’t looking, and now we are trying to figure out how to deal with it. Fiqh of Social Media is a niche project under the guidance of Qalam Institute, and the goal really is to provide guidance on how to use our faith to navigate this new era. With that in mind we do have the ebook and blog, and we hope to develop more material in the future insha’Allah.

2. How did Fiqh of Social Media come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

The internet and social media has always fascinated me in general. I made my first website about 20 years ago when I was barely 13 years old, and was making Islamic websites in university. There is no singular inspiration point, but over the years I have been keenly aware of how these new technologies are affecting us – religiously and with our families.

It’s always bugged me that the Muslim community seems to be behind one step technology wise. When the world shifted to CD’s, we were still producing audio cassettes. When the world shifted to the mp3 age, we started producing Qur’an recitations on CD’s. Social networks now have impacted us in ways we can’t imagine.

When I was growing up, it was considered rude to take a phone call at dinnertime. If someone called, you would answer and tell them you would call them back after dinner was over. Now, many families can’t eat a single meal without everyone being attached to a device.

Our Islamic tradition is timeless and contains the solutions to these pains and problems we face – I feel it is at the point where there needs to be a dedicated resource for this.

3. Initially, what were your aims & objectives? And have they changed over time with social media’s evolution?

We are at the first time in human history where people have an abundance of relationships, but no friendships. We are able to connect with thousands of people we could not before. Before, people had to wait and clear a gate keeper to get on TV, publish a book, or even write an editorial to the paper. Now anyone can have a platform. This opens a lot of doors – but it’s an entirely new situation that raises a lot of questions. For example, how do we understand Islamic principles of friendship in an age where people have 5,000 friends on Facebook?

The aim for me has always been to connect these dots. What are the Islamic principles, and how do they apply to social media? What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition? Those are the basic aims. What has evolved, though, is that connecting these dots is branching out into a number of subjects I never even imagined.

What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition?

4. What is the current vision of Fiqh of Social Media?

To provide thought leadership in this area. It’s not just Muslims struggling with these issues. In fact, most of the materials I am finding are from secular sources. So there is definitely a huge problem here; I want to spread the message of how our faith addresses these issues.

5. Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything? Also, is this a one-man show or do you have a team working with you?

I wish I had a team. Right now it is a one-man show. The primary content mechanism is the email list, so I do my best to send out at least 2-3 newsletters a month.

6. You write on things people at times don’t even think of, like Food Instagramming. What kind of response do you receive on such blog articles? Are people receptive or they lash out?

Alhumdulillah the response is really positive. In the case of this article specifically I wasn’t expecting backlash – particularly because I was criticizing and analyzing my own photos (as opposed to someone else’s). A lot of items like this one are things that everyone notices, I just happened to take the observation one step further and write the article.

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

7. Your content and ebook is all free – how do you arrange funding?

Alhumdulillah most of the cost at this point is nominal (it’s just a couple of dollars a month) so it has not been an issue.

8. What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to get your book 40 Hadiths on Social Media formally published (in print)?

So right now there are 2 major projects being worked on. The first is an online course that is specifically for parents and how to manage social media with their kids. This will cover a number of things like kids being addicted to screens to how to reclaim family dinner time.

The second project is a formal book on the Fiqh of Social Media. This is a larger and more comprehensive undertaking so it will take some time. Please make dua Allah (swt) grants tawfiq to both projects.

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

The best thing is to subscribe to the email list at http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith – When they do this they will receive a copy of the 40 hadith as well as the new articles I am writing. The best way to help is to simply reply to those emails with your feedback. The hardest part about a project like this is understanding which material is useful or helpful, or how it resonates. So really if I had one wish, it would just be that people not just read the material, but let me know what they thought of it.

10. Any message for the Ummah

That is a really tough question. I’ll offer the advice here that I feel I need most for myself and that is simply to make more Dua to Allah (swt). It is so simple but cannot be emphasized enough.

18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

11. Any message for Hiba’s readers in particular.

I would say just be careful. The internet is forever. Even things like Snapchat where your photos are supposed to get deleted are not that private. 18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

12. Anything else you would like to share.

Jazakallahu khayr for doing this interview. May Allah (swt) bless your efforts with this magazine!

Online versus Offline Selves

Vol 7 - Issue 1 online VS offlineBy Iqra Asad

“Internet: absolute communication, absolute isolation.” (Paul Carvel)

People are multi-layered. At the core everyone has a solid base, but they rearrange themselves on the outside to fulfill their many roles in life. Obviously, you cannot put on your family-time-face to go to work, neither is it healthy to carry your professional workplace attitude back at home. Similarly, when people translate their blood-and-flesh personalities into Internet form, there is a certain extent to which their digital version differs from their everyday selves. In order to illustrate this phenomenon in today’s youth, several Internet users have painted the picture by describing three ways, in which their online and offline selves are different.

Aisha Raees, anime fan and O Levels student

  1. My offline self has different facades when meeting people. But my facades vanish on the Internet, and I pour out my worries to my net pals.
  2. One may not find friends with similar interests in real life, but the Internet is full of people of every kind! One can easily share opinions, views, etc., with them.
  3. Then there is the thing of advice. You can easily find people on the Internet who may be complete strangers, but they can help you out! Whereas in reality there are many times one has nobody to turn to!

Faizan Zafar, 20, doing SSE at LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences)

My online self probably looks more impressive than my real self because:

  1. When online, we tend to use emoticons [smiley faces, etc.] too often. I now try to avoid using them, unless I honestly mean and feel them.
  2. Also because I get time to think and ponder over things and thus write out my answers in a proper and formal method.
  3. I’m trying to reduce the differences. I feel more confident on the Internet, no doubt, but I try to keep it restrained and chat with people only if I feel I would have chatted with them anyway, had they been standing nearby.

Arsh Azim, student of Bachelors

Online self

  1. I make fewer friends.
  2. I don’t share my secrets with them.
  3. I confuse people but also let them enjoy my presence.

Offline self

  1. I make many friends.
  2. I am open.
  3. I am possessive about my real friends.

Ammar Shafique, student at PAC (Professional Academy of Commerce)

On the Internet

  1. You talk to people you haven’t met since 1874.
  2. You don’t really show emotions online.
  3. You can act fake; you can lie.

Sundus Iftikhar, A’Level student at UCL (University College Lahore)

  1. Through the Internet, I know what is going on in my acquaintances’ lives. That provides material for online conversation, so I am friendlier with them and talk more confidently.
  2. Offline, I trust people, so I confide in them more easily and am a blabbermouth. If someone asks me something, I can’t hide my emotions or lie. On the Internet, I can’t tell what the other person is feeling; also, I have time to think before I speak, so I am more careful and share less.
  3. I have much more fun talking with friends in person instead of ’chatting’ with them via an online instant messaging service. Chatting is a words-only thing, so I feel limited. In direct interaction, I can express all those things, which are beyond the world of words.

Poll Questions

Fifty youths, ranging in age from mid-teens to early twenties, were polled regarding the online/offline divide.

1. Do you think people’s online behaviour differs from their offline one?

a) Yes – 82%

b) No – 18%

2. Do you get more out of an online or an offline conversation?

a) Online – 52%

b) Offline – 48%

3. Where do you express yourself better?

a) Online – 48%

b) Offline – 52%

4. In which life are you more open and expressive? (i.e., which life shows more of you to others?)

a) Online – 46%

b) Offline – 54%

5. A greater number of which of the following know the real you?

a) Online contacts – 10%

b) People you have met face-to-face – 90%

Let us end with this consideration: when is the online-offline divide the greatest? It happens when the Internet becomes an emotional lifeline, and people find online substitutes for things that are much more fulfilling in their offline forms, like friends and confidantes. Having a physically present shoulder to cry on is better than confiding in someone online, but what if you cannot find such a shoulder among your parents, siblings or friends? Are you – as a parent, child, sibling or friend – communicating properly with people in your life, or are you contributing to the online-offline divide? The Prophet (sa) said: “If any one of you loves his brother, then he should inform him.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Connected to a World of Knowledge

200024784-001The scenario: a dinner party.

“What an exotic dish! How did you make it?” asks a guest.

“I found the recipe on the Internet,” I reply.

“Oh. On which website?” she asks hesitantly.

“I don’t remember. I just Googled the recipe name and chose the easiest one that came up in the Web search.” I explain.

But the questioner has already lost interest and is looking elsewhere. Maybe she’s not very dexterous with the Internet.

It’s not about graduating in Computer Science or taking a few Computer courses to learn how the Internet can be used in daily life. It’s about consciously striving for ease in all matters, and using the blessings provided to us by Allah (swt) for benefit in the Akhirah. The Internet is one such blessing.

The fact of the matter is that I have been using this tool for many fruitful endeavors for about nine years, ever since its introduction into my life. The most commonly-known benefit of the Internet is communication: the ease of staying in touch with relatives and friends in other cities and countries via email and chat. Even elderly ladies have grudgingly mastered the art of connecting to online messengers in order to talk to their beloveds in other parts of the world. However, they only do so as a matter of necessity, not choice.

“I have no patience with this machine! Whenever I sit on it to do something simple, nothing works out. I’d rather do something more productive with my time,” I once heard one mother-of-two complain.

“I have taken courses more than once in order to learn how to use the Computer, but I just don’t have a rapport with it; I cannot sit on it for more than a few minutes,” says another housewife.

It’s true. Either you have the patience to use the computer and Internet, or you don’t. However, patience is a quality that is acquired. I will try, through a few examples, encourage readers to realize just how they can benefit by being patient with this machine.

“And as for the favour of your Lord, so do announce it!” (Ad-Duha 93:11)

The doctor prescribes a certain medicine, and I want to know its side effects. I log on to the Internet, Google the name of the medicine with “side effects” as search terms, and lo! Multiple websites appear, providing me more details about it than the minutely-printed paper in the medicine’s packet.

I wanted to follow the week-by-week development of my first baby during pregnancy (as an excited first time expectant mother is). Just Googling terms like “fetus baby development” enabled me to browse for hours on websites providing everything from ultrasound scans to physical details of what to expect and do during each month.

My baby sometimes cried inconsolably during the first few days of her life, like most babies do. It was the Internet that enlightened me about “infant colic” and remedies for its cure. More reassuring though, were the experiences and advice of other new parents on online forums, where they discussed the problems they faced. I also tracked my baby’s monthly development after birth, on websites providing bulleted details of developmental milestones – complete with weight and height percentile charts and nutrition guides.

Once we needed the mailing address of a relative abroad. I found the Yellow Pages website (by typing “Yellow pages” in Google first), and put their telephone number in the reverse search: the mailing address was displayed within seconds. I do the same with any unrecognizable telephone number on the CLI: several online Pakistan Telephone Directories work successfully.

After purchasing my mobile phone, I realized with dismay that it came with an indecipherable user manual printed in some foreign language. All that was needed was an Internet Google search with the mobile phone brand and the terms “user manual download”; within minutes, I had downloaded its free user manual in English!

“How did you do that so quickly?” I have been asked many times. My answer: “Alhumdulillah, I know how to use the Internet”.

The sacred pursuit of seeking and forwarding Islamic knowledge and doing Dawah – calling others to Islam – can also be done tremendously via the Internet. It has been a favourite pastime of mine since several years to browse the website of Islamic Question and Answers (www.islamqa.com) of the Fatwa Committee of Sheikh Bin Baz – the grand Mufti of Saudia Arabia (may Allah (swt) have mercy on him) – in order to quench my thirst for practical Islamic guidance in every aspect of life.

I also search for, read and forward via email, articles on Islamic topics to relatives and friends; many provide positive feedback and ask me to continue the virtual “enlightenment”. Many friends email me to ask about matters of Islamic Jurisprudence: “How do I calculate Zakah on my jewelry?”, “Provide me a list of Haram animal ingredients”, “Is it permissible for me to chat online with male colleagues?” It gives one a good feeling to be able to provide solutions to others’ problems within minutes.

Virtual Islamic education is also a great way to utilize the Internet. Using software such as Paltalk and a set of speakers/headphones, many housewives and young mothers attend online religious lectures by scholars, aired live from other parts of the world. The world shrinks as the classroom virtually connects students to their teacher with a few wires and a screen! Software also allows students to participate in the virtual class with their microphones. Online Tajweed lessons are, therefore, a norm. I know a group of Muslim sisters living in the West who would hold regular Tajweed classes on Yahoo Messenger, using its Voice service.

“Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?” (Ar-Rahman 55:13)

A little initiative and perseverance on our part can enable that small machine sitting in a room in our house take us a long way on the road of knowledge and – eventually – that of success.

Dear Haadia

Are Muslims permitted to chat on the Internet with the opposite gender?

Answer: Unlike medieval Christianity, Islam has never been opposed to technology and modern inventions – in fact, it encourages the study of ‘natural’ phenomena for the purpose of subjugating the forces of the universe to benefit the mankind. Inventions and technology are deemed beneficial, as long as they enhance the purpose of man’s creation on earth. If, however, they obstruct and distract from this purpose, then Islam does not take a favourable view of such inventions.

The use of the Internet may be evaluated on the basis of the above principle. If it proves to be beneficial for its user, its use is permissible and in some instances meritorious, especially for Dawah and educational purposes. But if it distracts its user from the purpose of his creation, i.e., “Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed” (Al-Mulk 67:2), then not only is its use frowned upon but may even be deemed unlawful in certain instances.

Early Muslims used to say that “this world is a harvest for the hereafter,” taking this from the words of Allah (swt), the Most High: “Whoever desires (by his deeds) the reward of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his reward and whosoever desires the reward of this world (by his deeds), We give him thereof (what is decreed for him), and he has no portion in the Hereafter.” (Ash-Shura 42:20)

Hence, a person must use his time beneficially in this world for the sake of the hereafter and take account of himself every day. Each moment spent in useless activities is time away from the remembrance of Allah (swt) and other beneficial work.

The scholars have clear rulings regarding useless talk and gossip. Many Ahadeeth have been related in this regard. The Prophet (sa) said: “It is from the excellence of a man’s Islam to leave that which does not concern him.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Furthermore, the limits of interaction between the sexes have been laid down by the scholars. The same limits and rules also apply to the informal exchange of letters between members of the opposite sex, as well as through the systems of MSN and Yahoo Messengers, which has made it supposedly ‘safer and more permissible’ to converse with people, while sitting in the safety of one’s home. People feel safer in chatting this way than on the phone, since there is usually no physical sound being transferred and the whole issue of Fitnah from the opposite sex does not seem to arise.

However, as research shows, addiction to chat rooms and cyber friendships is on the increase. Many people become besotted with the person on the other end, without even seeing them. It is also known that a lot of inappropriate and often completely impermissible conversations take place amongst people through such online systems. It is impermissible to have an informal conversation over the Messenger services or through email for that matter, just at it would be over the phone or in person.

Lastly, we all need to remember that everyone will die, but what a person has written will remain after him. Keeping all of the above in mind, each person must judge his individual intention for chatting, whether it really is a useful tool, a waste of time, or an alley to Fitnah and Allah’s (swt) displeasure.

We need to pray to Allah (swt) to guide us towards those deeds, which please Him.

Allah (swt) knows best.

Note: The above information has been derived from articles by Abdurrahman Ibn Yusuf and Mufti Zubair Bhayyat.

Surfing The Web!

Image surfing the netStatistics shared by eMarketer revealed that: “75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and/or services.”

Surprised? Well, as parents we ought to be more informed and prepared rather than shocked, if we need to protect our children from those paedophiles seeking access to children. As Michelle Nasir puts it: “When it comes to the ‘wild, wild, web’, there is no off-limits and nothing is too sick or twisted.”

The PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications) has moved to block 1,000 pornographic sites. However, this is still a limited defensive measure. It is a painful fact that an alarming 60% of the estimated one million internet users in Pakistan visit pornographic sites. Adults and kids are equally a victim to the unscrupulous porn industry that is fuelled by billions of dollars. Thousands of internet cafes have sprung up in major cities and in remote areas. Youngsters spend hours surfing pornographic sites for as little as 15 rupees ($0.35) an hour.

Below are just a few successful strategies that are facilitating the pornography industry:

Pornographic cartoons – who do you think these are aimed at?

Misspelled domain names – anybody can make a typo.

Cyber Squatting – Pornographers often buy up commonly used domains with legitimate sounding names, which many people would assume are decent websites, but, in fact, are not.

Advertisements – often with photos, used on websites, which may not be pornographic, but are looking to do anything to make profits.

Unsolicited e-mails – by giving out personal information that is sold to people for a profit. This enables them to send e-mails offering products/services you have not requested.

Now we no longer need to visit an adult site. They come to us via junk mail. All we need to do is click on the mouse and there it is. And we thought checking mail was so innocent.

The question is: What needs to be done? Should we prevent ourselves, and our children from using the internet? Not really. The web is not all bad when used supervised and correctly. It can be an extremely powerful tool for education. Having said that, like any tool, we must approach it carefully, following all the rules, and understanding how it functions. Some helpful tips for parents and internet users in general, are:

  • Most importantly, if you own a computer – learn to use it. This will develop a sharing relationship with your kids.
  • Place your computer in an open room, so anyone walking by can monitor what is being worked on.
  • Anyone who surfs the web, uses chat rooms, receives and sends e-mail should be monitored. Make it obvious you are monitoring their online activities.
  • Make the rules crystal clear, they cannot delete any e-mails without your checking them. If you cannot read it, they should not be receiving it.
  • The kids should not be allowed to use the computer at odd hours of the day, when you are not around.
  • One of the most important steps to take would be to educate our youth, to lead by example, and to revive and adhere to our Islamic moral principles.

We must not accept lewdness as part of ‘being tolerant’, but raise a voice to end it. The government needs the help of the ISPs, the Internet café owners and the citizens. Make sure everyone in our homes is constantly reminded of Islamic morals and recognizes the evil that is porn. With a little effort on our part, the Internet can be a wonderful tool to explore the world Allah (swt) has created.