Strong Girls, Superb Wives

08 strong girls

“Waah,” my baby’s screams woke me up with a jolt. “What? Who? Where? What happened?” I fumbled to the cot, groggy with sleep.

Life was chaotic. I had hardly slept. The baby was up all night crying for no apparent reason. The laundry was piled high. I had no time to cook, and my husband preferred take-outs to my cooking anyway. I hardly had time to shower, and he was tired of a home that had no semblance of order.

Life wasn’t meant to be like this. I had been an outstanding student, a star intern, and a brilliant MBA graduate. However, I was barely able to cope with real life now. No one warned me about this. No one prepared me for child-bearing or giving birth, or taking care of a tiny life that was entirely dependent on me. Such big shoes to fill and I had had no time or will to prepare for them all these years.

My grandmother’s words rang out in my ears now: “What will you do after marriage, Nadia? You can’t even take care of your own self!” I would always brush her off with an affectionate hug, saying: “We’ll see when the time comes, Nani – don’t worry.” I was always too busy studying for school and then college, too busy going out with friends, and then working nine to five. Even when I got engaged, all I was really preparing for was the grand wedding day. In retrospect, I wasted so much time, effort, and planning for a few hours of limelight. All of that didn’t do me any good today in this mess I had landed myself in.

Nadia’s story is not an uncommon one. Many girls find themselves in a similar situation when they step into practical life. Marital bliss turns into a nightmare all too quickly. This has many devastating outcomes that we see around us more and more frequently:

  • Quick and all-too-easy divorces soon after marriage.
  • Strained marital relations, where partners are deeply unhappy with the marriage.
  • Severed relations with extended family.
  • Poor family nutrition and other health issues.
  • Women completely consumed by household work to the point that their own physical and mental health, intellectual, and spiritual growth suffers.

The problem may seem insurmountable, but the solution is a simple one: inculcating good habits in girls from an early age to prepare them to excel in their vital role of nurturing future generations.

Charles Duhigg in his book “Power of Habit” says: “One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.”

Habits are the key. If inculcated from an early age, habits will become second nature and leave a woman’s mind free to pursue other matters that require actual decision-making. However, if ‘what to cook daily’, and managing other daily chores takes up all of her time and decision-making skills, she will be left with little to contribute to her own or her family’s development.

You might argue: why do we need to prepare only girls for this role and not boys? This argument, I’m afraid, was biologically settled for us much earlier. Every mother is honoured with the task of bearing her child for nine months and then nursing him or her for around two years. She is physically and emotionally attached to the baby for an extended period of time in a way that a father simply cannot be.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Promoting Collaborative Dialogue in Marriage

collaborative dialogue

“And they lived happily ever after.” This statement is, arguably, the most common modern myth about marriage that we are conditioned to believe. However, popular media fails to show us what actually happens afterwards. The reality of successful marriages is that they are neither trouble free, nor effort free. The Quranic objective of the marital relationship is to cultivate an environment of tranquility, love, and mercy among the spouses. It is unrealistic to think that these blessings of marriage can come about by chance.

Marriage is a contract, a commitment to a new relationship, and a fulfillment of half your Deen (religion). The newly-formed connection is not just physical – it extends into your emotional and spiritual worlds. Therefore, it is crucial to make a conscious intention to take this bond as seriously as a collaborative project. A study on arranged marriages by Dr. Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, found sacrifice and commitment to be the most powerful factors that strengthen love.

Allah (swt) says about the spouses: “They are Libas (clothing/covering) for you and you are the same for them…” (Al-Baqarah 2:187) This implies that they assume protective, intimate, and expressive roles for each other the way clothes do for our bodies. Zauj – the Arabic word for spouse – itself indicates the complementary nature of the spouses. Nouman Ali Khan, founder and lead Arabic instructor at Bayyinah, explains that the word Zauj (pl. Zaujain) actually means ‘counterpart’. This is why the sun and the moon, day and night are also called Zaujain in the Quran.

Some therapists and psychologists agree that there is a direct link between the quality of your talking and the quality of your marital relationship. Improving your communication skills can contribute greatly to satisfaction, growth, and conflict resolution in marriage. A key skill for successful marital interactions is learning to hold a collaborative dialogue. Let us look at what such dialogue is like and ways of incorporating it in your life.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Expectations vs. Reality of Marriage

16 ground realities

Take a deep breath. Ask yourself: “On a scale from one to ten, (with ten being fully and completely), how fulfilling is my marriage right now?” Write down the number that comes to mind. Next, ask yourself: “What are some of the expectations that I have for my marriage and my spouse?” Write them down. Notice which expectations are being met, and which ones are not. You may notice that the areas where you feel a relationship can be improved have an unfulfilled expectation attached to it.

Expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future”. It is different from hope because it implies that we definitely want or need this, otherwise there will be disappointment. So if we have unrealistic expectations, they will inevitably lead to disappointment, if they aren’t possible to meet. Let us explore three common yet unrealistic expectations about marriage and ways through which we can break through them in order to create a more fulfilling marriage.

Unrealistic Expectation 1: My spouse will complete me

A lot of women grow up having fairy-tale like expectations of marriage. It is not really our fault – it is all the conditioning we receive while growing up. It feeds off the idea that a damsel is in distress, and her prince charming will come and sweep her off her feet. This is fine for fairy tales because that’s where the story ends. Life is, of course, a different story.

Expecting our spouse to complete us is one of the most detrimental expectations we can have. First of all, it implies that we are incomplete as a person without our spouse. Marriage is recommended in Islam to complement one another, to be a ‘libas’ for one another. This essentially means that our spouse is meant to be our safe space, but it does not imply that we cannot be happy and whole if we aren’t married.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Be Smart Parents. Let Your Kids Be Bored!

25 top five

  1. In boredom, they discover who they really are

Researchers say boredom provides an inner quiet that helps children with self-awareness. “Kids need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.” (Dr. Vanessa Lapointe) If the surrounding around them is too loud or filled with distractions, they never achieve this state of quietness. Hence, once every now and then, it is good for them to be their own company without any gadget to distract them.

  1. Children develop important life skills when they have to come up with solutions to boredom

Child development experts advise parents not to rush in with ready-made solutions. If a child has access to safe and educational apparatus, non-gadget play stuff, stationery, and creative material, he can be trusted to call his shots. Whatever the calling, he will eventually grab some raw material and build it into something worthy.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Divorcing an Atheist

torn piece of paper with divorce text and paper couple figures

Khula and Talaq have become common terms today. One of the reasons for annulling marriage in Islam is when a spouse turns atheist. Anyone, who steps out of the fold of Islam, is not considered to be a worthwhile life partner or a responsible parent. Hiba interviews a single mother, who bravely bore it all by Allah’s (swt) will.

Do you ever have any regrets for taking a Khula?

Since my ex consciously abandoned his beliefs, I got a Fatwah on his apostasy, according to which our marriage was over. Thus, I never felt the need to go for a Khula. By law, he had to divorce me, which he did. It has been almost five years, and I don’t have any regrets.

What problems do you face as a single mother?

Being single has its pros and cons. I believe if I stayed with a man, whose beliefs differed from mine, our marriage would always be rocky. Woman divorcee has to face a lot of challenges in our society. Juggling through emotions is difficult, and when you have to take care of your child’s emotions as well, it can become extremely challenging.

It took me almost two years to gain a clearer perspective of realities of life – I had to deal with everything on my own, with little support from my near ones.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

The Two Sides of Expectations

expectations

Allah’s (swt) expectations

“And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and humankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Allah (swt) owns His creation – we are His slaves. Out of His love and fear of His anger, we attempt to please Him by obeying Him in every sphere of life. This unconditional and committed obedience is what Allah (swt) demands of us.

Do children have expectations too?

A child draws a picture and brings it to his mother. As he places it in her lap, he looks up with expectant eyes. His mother responds enthusiastically: “Wow! That’s great! You are a Picasso in the making. Daddy will be so proud of you.” The child receives a generous hug from his mother. As the kid walks off, he tosses the picture away. Why?

It might come as a surprise to many adults that children have high expectations of themselves. They tend to ponder over their performance. How well have they done? What could have they done differently? Whom have they disappointed or pleased? Is the feedback being offered to them fair?

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Useful Apps on the Go

useful apps

“Say: Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated creation, and then Allah will bring forth (resurrect) the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.” (Al-Ankabut 29:20)

As a Muslim traveller away from home, you must have experienced certain challenges: the struggle of not knowing the local prayer times, determining the Qiblah direction, searching for the nearest mosque or a clean decent place to pray, and trying to ascertain whether a meal is Muslim-friendly or not.

How can we solve these problems? Here are some useful apps:

  • Muslim Pro (for Qiblah direction)

A must-have and very useful tool indeed! Just download this app, click on the built-in Qiblah locator, and you’re good to go. You will also be able to recite the Quran with the built-in audio recitations by your favourite reciters. Translations in different languages are also available.

It features a user-friendly interface, and I can assure you that the information in this app is correct and up-to-date, and will give you the local prayer timings, no matter which part of the world you are travelling to.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Why Should We Pray on All Ten Nights of Ramadan?

pray all nights

  1. This was the practice of Rasoolullah (sa). He was consistent in praying the last Ashrah of Ramadan. It did not matter whether it was an odd night or even. The point is that one should not worship the bare minimum like dipping your toes in a pond; rather, the idea is to deep dive and indulge in worship fully. If it’s a Sunnah, it should be sufficient for us to embrace it heartily.
  2. Mohammed Faris, founder of Productive Muslim, makes a valid point: “According to some scholarly opinion, the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) could occur on any of the last ten nights (even though the odd nights have a higher chance).”
  3. Due to differences in calculations and moon sightings, sometimes there’s a risk that even though we assume that we are taking it easy on an even night, it’s actually an odd night – so why take a chance? If we miss out on it, we have lost the worship of a thousand nights. That estimates to our worship of nearly 83.3 years.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Irony of Waste in Ramadan

32 extra special

By Najwa Kareem – Native Washingtonian born to Muslim convert parents

According to the United Nations:

  • 795 million people (or 1 in 9 persons in the world) do not have enough food.
  • 1 in 6 people face hunger in America.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world.
  • 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.

The statistics are shocking.

Imagine my disappointment and frustration as, year after year, I observe Muslims wasting food and bottled water during Ramadan at the local mosques. After breaking their fast at Iftar, they leave behind copious amounts of food and drink to waste or to be thrown into the trash. Ironically, Ramadan is a month when we should strive to be more conscientious and empathetic of those who have nothing to eat or drink, as fasting allows us to feel what it is like to be hungry and thirsty. Conscientious Muslims, including myself, would like to see this distressing phenomenon come to an end. Here are some suggestions for remedying the waste of food and drink during Ramadan at the mosque:

  • Do not take or put on your plate more food than needed.
  • People manning the serving tables should serve only limited portions on plates, requesting people to return for more, if needed.
  • Water bottles should be distributed by workers and volunteers, instead of being left out for people to take more than they really need.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Remaining Charged after Ramadan

32 extra special

When it’s time to bid farewell to the month of spiritual enlightenment, the month of extra rewards, it makes us wonder if we had put more Khushu in Ibadah, spent more time doing Dhikr, given more charity, and so on.

Alhumdulillah, Muslims are deeply connected with Ramadan. Every year, Ramadan is surrounded by an aura of excitement, hearts are fluttering with the love of Allah (swt), and lips are getting parched from uttering supplications during fast.

Those of us who take religion seriously only in Jummah prayers are rushing to the mosque before the sunrise, attending the long Taraweeh prayers, compromising our deep sleep, and keeping ourselves from those binge habits of nibbling here and there.

Who made us do so?

We believe that this is the month of immense mercy and our trust that Allah (swt) will surely respond to us. The reality is such that nobody is ever sure he would be able to make it to another Ramadan.

However, the million dollar question is: after a month of disciplined life and timely eating, how many of us will be able to control our desires and temptations over the bowlful of Sheer Khurma or a plate of Biryani? After this spiritual, physical, and mental high, are we in a position to continue the spark lit by Ramadan for the next eleven months?

To continue reaping the blessings of Ramadan, I have highlighted some post-Ramadan goals that will enable us to enjoy the best of health and Iman, Insha’Allah.

  1. Retain the habit of early rising

The first golden rule that Ramadan teaches us is to wake up at the time of Suhoor, which is also the best time for offering Tahajjud and other supplications. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “O Allah, bless my Ummah in the mornings.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah)

This not only gives us a psychological advantage but really is the super productivity tool that can take our life to the next level. It is the time of least distraction, when our energy levels are at the peak. The way we start our day influences how we live our day. There are many success stories based on the Barakah of the early hours.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Get Out of the Rut Today!

get out of the rut

  1. Accept responsibility for your own life.

I have observed that when most people get stuck, they try to blame others for their difficulties. However, the truth is that the older you get, the more responsible you become for your circumstances. Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility… Think about your life – where are you shirking responsibility or playing the victim? Have you blamed others for bad choices you made in life? Are you failing to follow through on anything that you know you should be doing? Are you doing things that you should never have agreed to do? Is your definition of success and happiness equal with fulfilling the expectations of others around you? Getting out of a rut begins with the acknowledgement that you must make the choices to do so.

  1. Know what you want and where you want to be.

I know a lot of people who hoped and dreamed of being successful, but their goals never become more specific than that. You must define where you want to go and what you want in life; it is not guaranteed that you will reach your goals or achieve your visions, but if you don’t define them, it’s almost certain that you will reach nowhere. What are you going to spend your life for? Is it something you really want to do? Have you given yourself a clear target? Have you developed and written out long term visions? If not, you need to.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Live Your Own Life

40 live your own life

By Abdulmumin Gadjiyev – Writer

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Indeed among the excellence of a person’s Islam is that he leaves what does not concern him.” (At-Tirmidhi) Perhaps, we’ve never needed these words more than today.

The Prophet (sa) used to speak in short, meaningful phrases, expressing through them lots of wisdom and benefit. The mentioned Hadeeth is a perfect example of it. These words lie at the foundations of the Islamic Ummah’s social culture, and only if people take heed of them, any society would be able to avoid many problems that are experienced today – both on individual and state level.

Many social ills sprout from the most ordinary human desires. For example, the stubbornness of a president, or the wish of common people to be in the centre of all scandals and intrigues.  A huge industry is built to satisfy the latter, in which tremendous amounts of money are spent on acquiring ‘exclusive information’. Then even larger sums of money are earned through advertisement ratings that are based on blown-up gossip.

A great portion of society spends time and energy on doing the dirty laundry of people whom they have never met. They are interested in their personal lives: what they eat and wear, with whom they live, to whom they get married, from whom they get divorced, why they do it, or how they come out of maternity home…

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

What I Learned from my Divorce

38 divorce

By Abu Khalifa – Freelance writer

Like for many Pakistanis, my marriage was an arranged one. My wife and I had similar upbringings, cultural values, financial standings, and seemingly similar mentalities. My family introduced us; we had a couple of meetings; everything seemed good; we did our Istikharah, and before we knew it, we were engaged!  I was sure it was the beginning of my happily ever after.

Sadly, it was not to be. After almost five years of a very difficult marriage, we parted ways. In hindsight, I see a lot of things that could have been done differently. I wanted to share my experience, so that others can hopefully benefit from it.

Pay heed to the vibes you get

When before Rukhsati I saw mood swings and bouts of anger, I put it down to wedding stress and getting to know a stranger. When I saw fits of jealousy, extremely possessive behaviour, and continuous demands for attention, I thought it was her way of showing her love and adoration. I just wanted to get married and was willing to ignore all the signs, which in hindsight I know I should’ve heeded. If you are getting the wrong vibes early on, when getting to know your spouse/spouse to be, don’t ignore them. Listen to your inner voice, talk to a trusted married friend or sibling about what is making you uncomfortable, and rely your gut feeling. Don’t chalk important things to ‘wedding jitters’ and don’t bank on ‘he or she will change once we are together’. Most certainly, don’t care about ‘what people will say’, if you have to call it off.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Easy Eco Oven Cleaning

43 easy oven clean

Ingredients

  • 1 orange rind
  • 1 lemon rind
  • 1 stem of rosemary (optional)
  • 2/3 jar distilled vinegar
  • 2 tbsp baking soda

Procedure

  1. Peel the orange rind and slice it in strips.
  2. Peel off the lemon rind and slice it in strips,
  3. Place both of them in a jar.
  4. Add the rosemary stem.
  5. Pour the distilled vinegar over it and close the lid of the jar.
  6. Leave them soaked for five days.
  7. Sprinkle baking soda over your greasy oven.
  8. Shift the liquid solution from the jar to a spray bottle.
  9. Spray it over the baking soda sprinkled over the greasy oven.
  10. After twenty minutes wipe it all off with a sponge.
  11. Have a gleaming, chemical-free oven!

Compiled by Mr. Nazeer-ud-Din Qureshy

Rizq – Share Food

RIZQ - Logo

Rizq comprises a group of people from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) who want to play their part in ridding Pakistan of the nuisances of hunger and malnutrition. They do this by collecting surplus food from restaurants/caterers/households and providing it to the needy. Hiba got in touch with them to find out more about their work.

What is the vision behind Rizq project?

According to current statistics, around 40% of all food produced is wasted, whereas approximately 40% of the Pakistani population is food insecure. The vision behind Rizq is to bridge this gap by channelling excess food without producing extra food. As economics majors, we are always told about the scarcity of resources, but in this case what we have realized that it is not the scarcity of food, but the lack of channelling – and this is where Rizq comes in.

What do you mean by ‘without producing extra food’?

A lot of food that is produced is wasted as it goes along various stages in the food supply chain. This is an efficiency loss. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who sleep on empty stomach. So, there’re two ways to feed the hunger-stricken; either through freshly-made food or using the perfectly edible food which gets lost along the supply chain due to efficiency loss. Rizq is focusing on the later approach as it kills two birds with one stone.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine.

Understanding Surah Asr – 2

hour-glassTranscribed from the Bayyinah podcast Tafseer series by Iqra Asad.

How scholars define Asr?

Ibn Abbas (ra) says that “Asr” refers to the different ages of different nations. Allah (swt) is talking about human history as a proof that human beings are in loss. Ibn Kisan says that “Asr” refers to the night and the day. Hasan Al Basri says this is the time from late day to sunset, signifying the end of an era; we should know that we are on the verge of death. Qatada says it’s the last part of the day. Another Mufassir says that it means the time of Asr prayer; the busiest time of the day. Asr refers to time; all of it.

Be the change to bring a change!

The time you’re supposed to change for the better, this is implied in Asr. A lot of your days are exactly the same. If you can change one part of your day, you’ve transformed your life. We change at the death of a person, or in Ramadan; but then we go back to our old ways. For example, you know you have to reach your workplace at 9 a.m, no matter what, no negotiation; you’ll do it, or you’ll lose your job. Similarly, if you are convinced that certain behaviours will lead to loss, changing your life becomes easy. This is why the first thing that is mentioned is “belief”. If your boss comes into the office and says, “Every single employee over here is in trouble, I swear to you!” Will you take it casually? In this world, there must be a sense of urgency.

Choice is NOT yours – It’s all or none!

Sometimes, the boss gives you tasks you’re really good at. Sometimes you get tasks you don’t like doing. If you decide to do only two out of four, decide not to even touch the other two tasks, thinking that the first two being done excellently will compensate for the other two not being done, what do you think the boss’s reaction will be? So when Allah (swt) sets out four conditions, and we say, “we should work on our faith, do some good deeds, this other stuff is not for me, it’s for the speakers and Dawah workers.” If you’re picking and choosing, you are also in loss. It’s all or nothing.

You don’t need to memorize the whole Quran to change your life. Just start with Surah Asr!

Humankind is in loss

“Inna” is used to talk to people who are in doubt about what you are saying. Rhetorically, it is used to remove doubt; the doubt already exists. You’d think this was addressed to disbelievers; but Allah (swt) has addressed all humanity, “Illa” at the end conveys that it includes all humanity.

“Insan” comes from “Nisyan” i.e. “forgetfulness”. The word “Insan” is used here to refer to our forgetfulness, and also to refer to each of us as individuals. If someone specifies a person individually, that person pays more attention.

This is a noun-based sentence “Jumla Ismiya”, which is stronger than a verb-based sentence. The word “Insan” is presented as “Al-Insan” i.e. with emphasis. It is not “the human being is a loser” or “has lost”, it is “in loss”. He is immersed in loss. Someone being a loser is one thing, but by using the preposition “Fi” the meaning of constantly being in that state is given. The translation doesn’t even begin to cover the rage and the terror embedded in this verse.

Truth and patience cure doubts and temptations

There is the meaning of “delusion” in “Khusr” i.e. humans are deceiving themselves. “La fi Khusr” means that mankind sets itself up for a vicious end, the kind of end people don’t want. Ibn Taimiyyah comments, “Humanity is kept from accepting the truth of this Deen by two obstacles, doubts and temptations.” When you ask someone to accept Islam, you’re asking them to give up a lot of things. Someone says, “I can’t give up the life of partying.” He can’t give up his temptation, even though he has no doubts. Most people are caught in temptations, even if they give the excuse that they are in doubt. They cover up their desires by making intellectual arguments. Truth and patience mentioned in this Surah are the cures for doubts and temptations.

Humans are so preoccupied with their personal problems that they fail to see the larger picture. They fail to see the problems lying ahead. They think they are in loss in this world, but that is nothing compared to the loss that is coming. They fail to see the signs in the creation of Allah (swt). Financial and health problems are nothing compared to the problem of faith. That’s a much bigger problem.

Breakthrough anxiety, fear and despair

Human beings have more suffering than animals. In addition to physical suffering, we also have psychological suffering. In this Surah, Allah (swt) doesn’t just give us relief from the loss of the hereafter, but from the loss of this world; freedom from anxiety, depression, fear and despair.

You should remember that the entire Surah is linguistically one statement.

The entire society has headed to the way of loss. The ones, who are not the losers, are considered strange because they practice Islam.

United we stand, divided we fall!

When Allah (swt) mentions the loss of the human being, the human being is being addressed singularly. This is because when the time comes to face the consequences of your actions, you will be all alone. However, when Allah (swt) mentions the four exceptions, He uses the plural. This means that the ones who are successful, find success in teamwork, good company, counsel, reminder, Salah (prayer) and Jamaa (congregation).

Do you know the taste of faith?

In this verse, Allah (swt) doesn’t mention any qualifications of faith. How are you supposed to know what faith tastes like? The fruit of faith is tranquility. If you have faith, you know that this world is temporary, and compared to what Allah (swt) has in the hereafter, is nothing. You are at peace with your life whether you are old or young, healthy or ill.

The word “Assaalihaat” (good) is an adjective, which requires a noun. The Arabic says just “good”, not “good deeds”, but it is implied. The form of the adjective is such that it conveys the doing of a few, countable good deeds. The main obligations are few. Then there are things that embellish your life as a Muslim; the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). There are a few things that you should definitely do, and there are a few things that you should not do. Everyone knows those things.