Interview with Ustadh Kashif Naseem Dilkusha

azan-logoKashif Naseem Dilkusha is the founding member, lead instructor and project head of Azan. His passion for teaching is evident in his energetic approach and engaging style. He also heads an NGO, Mushkeeza, and is a valuable member of his family business setup. At present, Usdath Kashif is involved in various Dawah projects and activities held in Karachi, some of which include- LiveDeen and the delivery of Friday Khutbahs and lectures at numerous Masajid and other religious social gatherings. His articles have been published on MuslimMatters.org

1.      What is it about Islam that attracts a young man or woman today?

Islam is not only about faith; it is a complete and comprehensive way of life leading to a balanced way of living. Islam is a comprehensive system for all life affairs and human behaviour.

Youth is the prime time of your life; it is very precious to Allah (swt). Islam specifically addresses the youth, urging them to make the best use of this valuable period of their life.

Allah (swt) promises extra reward for the youth, if they are sincerely devoted to Islam. For example, the Prophet (sa) said that on the Day of Judgement, there will be seven types of people to whom Allah (swt) will give shade. As we all know, on the Day of Judgement, there will be no shade except for Allah’s (swt) shade. From amongst the seven groups who will have shade on that Day? One group is of those who spent their youth in the worship of Allah (swt). (Bukhari)

Islam puts a lot of significance on the grooming of our youth.

A few features that attract the youth of today to Islam are:

  1. The hope Islam gives.
  2. The fact that Islam is a permissive Faith. It allows us to have fun within some parameters.
  3. The fact that that there is no hierarchy. The care and concern for and the promotion of human rights, the importance of delivering justice to all. The upholding of the rights of the oppressed.
  4. This point is especially for the young Muslimahs of today. Women in Islam have a very special place, status and dignity that was unknown to humanity before the advent of Islam.

2.      Do you consider Muslim youth confused about their identity and future?

Yes, I think the Muslim youth is confused. The reason behind this confusion is the absence of Islamic material in our educational curriculum and false depiction of Islamic teachings. In addition to that, there are no specific activities from Dawah organizations to cater to the youth and bring them back to Islam. We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed. Currently, no or very few organizations address the diverse and complex needs of the Muslim youth.

We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed.

3.      Which qualities of our youth make you hopeful that, if they mend their ways and get connected to the Creator, our Ummah will improve?

Youth is the most energetic stage of life, worthy to make the best use of and a time to strive towards excellence. Youngsters are full of energy and passion. Their road is paved with hope, persistence and enlightened thinking. Indeed, it is a period of productivity. Muslim youth must be aware of the importance and value of their lives. To achieve the best outcome, they should be directed towards the right path. The age of adolescence is a very sensitive period that requires caring, reinforcement of good guidance to Allah’s (swt) way and good ethics.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity. Young people gathered around Prophet Muhammad (sa) to carry his call of Islam forward. To name a few, Zaid bin Thabet (rta), who collected the whole text of the Holy Quran, and Musab bin Umair (rta), who was the first ambassador in Islam. He was asked by Prophet Muhammad (sa) to go to Madinah to teach the Quran; through him and his teachings the people of Madinah converted to Islam. This young prince of Makkah sacrificed every luxury of the world when he embraced Islam, only for Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (sa).

The biography of Muhammad Bin Qasim should be part of our curriculum. We should teach to our youth, how he conquered Sindh and governed it in such a manner that even the non-Muslims wanted him to stay with them instead of moving on.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity.

They should be taught about Aisha (rta), a young woman, who was an extremely accomplished young woman and who fulfilled all her responsibilities as a wife as well. Teach them about the bravery of Asma (rta) and the firm faith of Sumayyah (rta) who gave her life for the truth.

If our youth connects to the Deen and make the Prophets (sa) their companions and the rightly guided people as their true role models, the affairs of our Ummah will definitely change positively.

4.      What is the best way for elders to treat the young? There seems to be much mistrust between them and the elders often don’t treat the youth with respect.

Elders must be open with them, listen to them and learn to do some of ‘their stuff’. They should accept that times have changed, and thus, the youth should be nurtured and groomed according to the standards of this time, not the past times that the elders experienced. One of the most effective mental exercises that a parent, teacher or youth mentor can undertake in order to enhance their empathy and compassion towards youngsters is to allow themselves to see things from the perspective of the youth.

5.      As a family, what is the positive role that parents must play in the lives of the youth?

Be a role model for them. Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them. Always remember: children listen with their eyes and not with their ears. So watch your life. Be the change you wish to see! Parents should keep a critical eye on their own behaviour and personal conduct.

6.      What advice would you give to the young and spirited?

Always be in the company of pious people who remind you of Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgement. If you have good company, you will be prosperous in your life.

In Surah Al Furqan, Allah (swt) says, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” ” (Al-Furqan 25: 27-29)

Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them.

The Prophet (sa) reminds us of the importance of good company in the following Hadeeth: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least, you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

I believe that companionship is the most important thing after Iman. If they have good companionship, all the other good things will automatically be part of their personality.

Youngsters, nowadays, have all the fundamental elements of success and excellence. Schools, colleges, universities, cultural and scientific centers strive to offer the best education. They have the potential to play an important role in the advancement of Islam. The period of adolescence is a very important period in a Muslim’s life. If spent the right way, a person’s youth will not only benefit him, but others as well. They must realize their value and importance for the fate of the Ummah lies in their hands.

May Allah (swt) guide and protect us all on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.

Resolving Family Conflicts – A Lectureshop with Dr. Bilal Philips

As most of you know already. Dr. Bilal Philips is coming to #Karachi Insha’Allah! On this occasion, Hiba Magazine and LIVE DEEN have joined hands to bring to you a mega event:

Resolving Family Conflicts
A Lectureshop and Q&A with Dr. Bilal Philips

When: Friday, 27th February, 2015
Timing: 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Where: Marriott Hotel Karachi

Ticket price
Single: PKR 1500/-
Special discount for couples: PKR 2500/- (SAVE PKR 500/-)

Tickets are available from Hiba Magazine’s office, Role Model Institute, and Da’wah Books.

Separate arrangement will be made for mothers with children under 5 years.

We hope to see you there, Insha’Allah!

Lectureshop Flyer

Community Matters

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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.

 

Quest and Conquest

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The spirit that Prophet Muhammad (sa) came to instil was for one to take the flag of Islam and march forward. What is the quest of the Muslims? It is to attain salvation, gain the pleasure of Allah (swt) and follow the Messenger (sa). This quest is of the hearts and minds, thus, it is more significant than any military quest.

The Prophet (sa) enabled his companions to liberate themselves from the shackles of social pressure. Prior to Islam, the Arabs were enslaved by the Quraish. Psychological enslavement of humans always begins with the enslavement of the mind, when one carries a self-defeating attitude and suffers from inferiority complex.

Allah (swt) commanded the Prophet (sa): “O you (Muhammad (sa)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify!” (Al-Muddathir 74:1-3)

Allah (swt) inspired the Prophet (sa) to take the people out of the enslavement of other people and connect them to the Creator. This is where freedom of body and mind lied. How did this journey begin?

When the Prophet (sa) received through Jibreel the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq, commanding him to read in the name of his Lord, he got confused and ran to Khadijah (rtaf). Being a loving and trusting spouse, she assured the Messenger (sa) that Allah (swt) will never wrong him, as he used to stand for the truth and was considered to be the best man in the city. Khadija (rtaf) led him to Waraqa bin Nawfal, her uncle, who was a wise man and well-versed in the earlier scriptures. He perceived what was to come and informed the Prophet (sa) that he would be driven out of his home town, because he would challenge the socio-political status quo of the Quraish

A similar scene was sketched hundreds of years ago, when Allah (swt) brought Musa (as) to be nurtured in the palace of the Pharaoh. When Musa (as) was prepared for his mission, he looked at the Pharaoh in the eye and told him that he was a transgressor and doing wrong.

A common man from Banu Israel could not even have dreamed of demonstrating such courage. They were slaves. We always fear lack of experience or understanding. Musa (as) had nothing to fear, as by growing up in the palace, he knew the shortfalls of the Pharaoh’s system. He was not in awe of the Pharaoh and thus, he acted with confidence. Hence, Musa’s (as) quest began by liberating the suppressed slaves. He revealed to them that the Pharaoh was nothing compared to the power and grandeur of Allah (swt), Who had more right to their submission. Here began the quest, and the conquest followed soon after.

What was so magnificent about the Prophet’s (sa) companions and other early Muslims, which made them reach every known part of the world and enforce Islam? They conquered the Byzantines, the Persians, the Indians (through Muhammad bin Qasim), the Spaniards (through Tariq bin Ziyad) and the Chinese. The Islamic state was enormous in size – larger than what Alexander had conquered.

They were not super humans. They were simple Arabs. Rabiya bin Amir, a Bedouin clad in sheepskins, addressed Rustum, a king in silk and jewels. Allah’s (swt) soldier, commanding an army of merely 8,000, invited Rustum with a formidable army of 150,000 to embrace Islam. When asked by Rustum why he was there, Rabiya answered: To liberate your people from humans and give them into the enslavement of Allah (swt). Why didn’t the pomp and power of Rustum penetrate the heart of Rabiya?

No firm conclusions can be drawn over how Muslim conquests came so fast. In some cases, historians (Muslims and non-Muslims) believe that due to the tolerant nature of the Islamic rule, disbelievers preferred to take shelter with them. While Europe was facing the dark ages, Christians and Jews ran to Muslim lands to seek asylum.

In the final sermon, our beloved Prophet (sa) asked all 1,24,000 believers: “Have I delivered?” They all confirmed in unison. He then pointed towards the sky, addressing Allah (swt): “Bear witness, O Allah (swt), that I have delivered.” Then, he commanded the Muslims to go and deliver the message to the rest of the people. It was this spirit and sense of purpose that drove them. The Ashab-e-Rasool heard the Messenger (sa) and obeyed him until death.

Imagine the Sahabahs who had it drilled in their heads: Don’t just drink camel milk; eat dates and die; rise and take the message of Allah (swt) to the rest of the world! How come less than 10% of the companions died in Hijaz? Didn’t they know the merits awarded for prayers in Masjid-ul-Haram (1 Salah equivalent to 100,000 prayers), in Masjid-e-Nabwi (1 Salah equivalent to 1,000 prayers) and in Masjid-ul-Aqsa (1 Salah equivalent to 500 prayers)? Didn’t they have families or businesses? Then what was it that drove them out to conquer the world with limited capacity and scarce resources? Where did they all die? If you visit their graves, you will discover that Abu Ayub Ansari (rtam) is buried in Istanbul, Abu Ubaidah ibn Jarrah (rtam) is resting in Jordan, Zaid bin Harithah (rtam) is buried in Jordan, etc.

The single common thing among all companions was the Quran. This book was recited to them day and night. Umar bin Khattab (rtam) states that they were a disgraced nation; it was this Quran that bestowed honour upon them. They submitted to Allah (swt) alone and Allah (swt) freed them. No oppressor or tyrant was able to control them.

The quest of Muslim lies in liberating the minds and understanding the Quran. The Quran speaks for itself. If we, with all our iphones, ipads, TVs and jets, cannot reap results today, who can?

Today, Muslims collectively suffer from perpetual enslavement. We have the same Quran and its powerful message with us. However, we differ from the early Muslims in our understanding and application of the Quran. If the Quran could have such a deep impact on that generation, why doesn’t it work for 1.5 billion Muslims today? Simple! We think of ourselves as inferior beings. We choose to believe that we are slaves of the West -.we look up to them, we run after them and we obey them. The West is no different from the Quraish. They look down upon all and do not like to reason with anyone. However, we allow these social and cultural pressures to be imposed upon us. We do not have leaders; we have only beggars.

Learn your magnificent history! In the golden Andalusian period of the Shariah law, non-Muslims used to run to the Muslim lands for refuge. A Christian author George Maqdeesi writes that the present-day western university has been derived from the Islamic Madrassah model of Spain. In those Madrassahs, students learnt philosophy, Ahadeeth, Mantaq, Fiqh, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc. Do our Madrassahs look like this today?

The reason the Sahabahs didn’t care for the riches of the world or fear any rulers of the time was because they were mentally liberated. For them, the quest began at home. They submerged themselves into the Kalamullah – the Quran, the finely mathematically tuned order of the universe.

The Quran is your quest, too. The command of the Prophet (sa) was as much for the companions as it is for me and you. The Quran is no joke. It is serious. Learn it. Act upon it. Intertwine Islamic and secular sciences. Gather material strength, and produce power and capacity within yourself to establish justice and peace in the world. Embark u[on the quest. By Allah (swt), everything will change – we will overcome all.

Based on the “Rise with Faith” conference organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Rana Rais Khan.

“Who am I?” – Resolving an Identity Crisis

who am i

By Sheikh Omar Suleiman

Member, ICNA Shariah Council and Instructor, Al Maghrib Institute, Canada

Throughout your life, as you try to find out who you are, you lose sight of what you were meant to be. Should you pursue this or that?

In order to attain success, Islam recommends that we analyze ourselves with critical eyes, as the tendency to live in status quo leads to hypocrisy. We learn from the times of the Prophet (sa) that the hardest prayers for hypocrites were those of Fajr and Isha. Fourteen hundred years ago, they did not have bright chandeliers in the Masajid. Neither did they have well-lit roads. The worshippers heading for Fajr and Isha Salah did so purely for the love of Allah (swt). There was no opportunity to display their faith in public. Naturally, the hypocrites lagged behind, as it did not serve their purpose of recognition before the society.

The Sahabahs were engaged in a life-long process of finding out who they truly were. It is advised to have a certain level of uncertainty about yourself, in order to engage in self-criticism and improvement. Medical experts would agree that the worst patient to deal with is someone who finds nothing wrong with him. The truly righteous is the one who thinks he is not pious.

When Aisha (rtaf) was asked about hypocrites, she described them as those who think of themselves as pious. The ones who come to the conclusion that they are not hypocrites are indeed hypocrites. All one hundred and twenty Sahabahs of the Prophet (sa) feared falling into hypocrisy, even though tales of their unparalleled Iman (faith) are penned in history.

What saves you from turning into a hypocrite then? The answer is in Surah Ash-Shams. Allah (swt) swears by His countless creations in this chapter of the Quran for all to arrive at the process of Tazkiya (purification of the soul). He clearly states that He is the One Who has set our Nafs (soul) right. We have been instilled with the sense of right (Taqwa) and wrong (Fujoor). Allah (swt) has also announced the means to succeed in the Quran. It is to remain busy with your own purification of the soul.

Allah (swt) places the burden of Tazkiya on you. Nafs is the Hijab (veil) between you and Allah (swt). The more you improve your Nafs, the more you will experience Allah’s (swt) Qurb (nearness). This is the first step to Tazkiya.

The second step is to recognize that purification is not possible without Allah’s (swt) help which comes in the form of Fitnahs (trials). Allah (swt) asks: do they think they will be left alone without tests? For every pain, you are rewarded by Allah (swt).

A supreme example of how Fitnah elevates you is in a story of a young man in Syria. He had never bowed before Allah (swt). The soldiers of Bashar-ul-Asad (ruler of Syria) were coercing everyone to prostrate before the picture of Bashar-ul-Asad. Those who refused were mercilessly beaten up. This particular man refused to perform Sajdah before the ruler’s picture, because he didn’t wish to make his very first Sajdah before Allah’s (swt) creation – Sajdah was Allah’s (swt) right alone. Hence, he was beaten to death, making his first and last Sajdah to Allah (swt) alone. What could have been a doomed end due to Kufr and Shirk transformed into an opportunity to enter Jannah. Allah (swt) presented this man with that chance, and he wisely took it.

The next step is Tarbiyah. It means to raise the Nafs. You need to question yourself: “Who am I?” Why can’t I come close to Allah (swt)?” “Why don’t I enjoy Salah?” Some people blame Allah (swt) for their misfortunes, while others blame the environment. They never take responsibility for their own errors and misguidance. They lose hope of Allah’s (swt) mercy and fall into despair.

History proves how people, who were born out of the fold of Islam, travelled far and wide and raised the level of their faith. Bilal Habshi, Sulaiman Farsi, Najashi – they were all people who questioned the purpose of their lives and were thus led to guidance by Allah (swt).Whereas Abu Hakm, the Prophet’s (sa) own uncle, became Abu Jahl (father of ignorance) in spite of experiencing Islam in Makkah. Abdullah bin Ubay, in spite of praying in the Prophet’s (sa) congregation in Madinah, became the leader of the hypocrites.

It was the genius of the Prophet (sa) that he looked at each companion’s strengths and offered them opportunities to develop and utilize them for the benefit of Islam.

Abu Jahl and Omar bin Khattab (rtam) both had exceptional leadership qualities. The Prophet (sa) prayed to Allah (swt) to strengthen Islam by granting one of them to him. Hence Omar’s (rtam) qualities were spent for Islam, while Abu Jahl fought against Islam.

The point is to nurture the gifts Allah (swt) has given you – for example, reputation, wealth, eloquence, etc., – and use them for Allah’s (swt) Deen and the benefit of the mankind.

We either own Nafs Lawama, a soul which is constantly distracted by people, or we own Nafs Mutamainna, a soul that is at peace with Allah (swt).

To accomplish the above, you might need to push out of the way things that come between you and Allah (swt). Surround yourself with people of Allah (swt) and take their Naseehah (advice).

Remember, the difference between a punishment and a trial is your attitude towards it. If during hardships you remain calm, exhibit Sabr and Shukr, Allah (swt) will reward you. Conversely, if during trails you become bitter and disobey further, you will be punished. Just remind yourself in times of tribulations that on the Day of Judgement, people burdened with sins would wish they had scissors to cut their skin to part with them and envy the ones who underwent the trials of the world patiently only to be elevated in the Akhirah. And the believers will not even remember their sufferings at the sight of Jannah – a satisfying end to a journey of self-discovery, indeed.

Based on a lecture-shop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

About “LiveDeen”

It is a non-profit project with an up-to-the-minute concept of lectureshops, a combination of workshops and live lectures of international speakers broad casted via hi-technology video conferencing tools. Their main aim is to bridge the gap between the English-speaking strata of the society and Deen.

Contact details:

www.livedeen.com

www.facebook.com/livedeen

Ameer LiveDeen: Nouman Idrees Sheikh (0300-863-7735)

Romance in Islam

Romance in Islam

By Shaikh Abdur-Raheem Green

Why do we find the subject of romance fascinating? The reasons are psychological, biological and cultural. As humans, we move towards pleasure. We tend to escape pain. We are looking for certainty in life. However, sometimes we are in search of variety to avoid boredom, too. We all wish to be significant in some way, and we all are in the quest to find true love. Romance encompasses all the six aforementioned needs, which humans wish to fulfill in varied degrees.

Allah (swt) gifted Islam to us in order to fulfill our needs. Our beautiful Deen recognizes and understands our innate nature. Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and some sects of Judaism, Islam is not monastic. Marriage is a confirmed Sunnah of the Prophet (sa), and he has declared it to be half of our faith. Marriage is the means to fulfill our desire to love and be physically intimate in a permissible manner. And if we follow the Sunnah, romancing our spouse becomes a means of worship, too.

The problem has occurred as we have moved away from the real teachings. In Asian communities, culture is infused in the minds of many. Thus, it has affected our understanding of marriage and romance. We are exposed to western cultural values like never before. Western culture today is based on capitalism, materialism, secularism and consumerism. Their way of dealing with people is to create desires in them to follow their passions and encourage them to buy. They appeal to the biological/psychological need of their consumers, as they believe that sex sells. Naturally, the end product is nudity and immorality. They call it love and romance. However, in reality, the dimensions and nature of romance are linked to the Hollywood and Bollywood culture.

Today, many Muslim lands are not occupied physically, but their minds have been occupied psychologically. This is the worst form of occupation – it is called mind control. This is how we have gone astray and this is how we have become extremely unhappy. In Islam, romance is embedded within marriage. When marriages fail, societies crumble. What we saw in the UK riots in 2011 were disturbed youth hailing from loveless homes. They were greedy for Duniya because their souls were hollow. Their parents’ marriages had not worked out, and, hence, they were deprived of familial upbringing and belonging.

Culturally, some common ills are marriages based on duty, loveless marriages, children not being able to relate to the ideals of the marriages of older generations, mental coercion by parents to marry cousins or relatives, marriages to mates who are physically unattractive, forced marriages, etc. (A forced marriage is invalid in the Shariah in any case. Mutual consent of both partners is a pre-requisite for a Nikah to be valid.)

The West has been through a similar myriad of issues, and, hence, they evolved romantic idealism. Early Europe was pre-dominantly Christian, but their faulty approach to marriages forced them to find love outside Halal relationships. This is how fantasy stories like Romeo and Juliet were born. This is how romantic poetries, plays, movies and songs came into being.

Shaitan attacks through Shahwat (desires) and Shubuhat (doubts). When Shaitan discovered this void in married relations, he filled it with extremism. In some cases, he converted people towards monasticism, which means to become cold fish and have no sex. Naturally, that would square marriages and societies. On the other extreme, he led them to become obsessed and envious, form romantic liaisons and behave like Casanovas. Whenever an imbalance is created, Shaitan wins. And Islam exhorts to tread only the middle path.

Today, what should be encouraged is not paid attention to – for example, early marriages. Quite often, parents themselves are the problem. They wait so long for their kid’s education to finish that appropriate suitors are not interested anymore. Doors are left wide open for dating, inter-mixing, non-observance of Hijab and segregation, physical touching, even if that means casual handshakes (human touch is where sexual desires arise), roaming gazes, casual sex, fornication, etc.

Haste is from Shaitan, except in terms of arranging marriages for your daughters. The Prophet (sa) stated: “If somebody comes to you, and you are pleased with his character and religion, marry him. If you do not, there will be discord on earth and widespread corruption.” (Ibn Majah)

Another aspect is that men and women have been created differently on purpose. Every husband and wife should understand each other’s basic behaviour, especially for marriages to prosper. For instance, when women talk out their troubles, they do not necessarily seek solutions. They want to receive empathy/ sympathy. But when men discuss their problems, they are searching for solutions.

The Prophet (sa) was beyond par excellence in understanding the intrinsic nature of his wives. In order to benefit the Ummah (especially women, who were widowed, divorced or left single), he exercised polygamy and encouraged multiple spouses for others, if one could do justice among them, as he did. All nine wives were immensely in love with him, as he treated them all uniquely.

When he entered his home, he didn’t treat his wives like slaves. Instead, he happily served them as well as his other family members. He would milk the goats, mend his clothes and help clean the house. While travelling for an expedition, as he realized how monotonous and long the journeys were back then, he would go up to his wife’s Hodaw (carriers on camels) for a chit chat. Twice he asked the caravan to march forward, just to be alone with Aisha (rta) for racing with her out of play and fun. He would take Ghusl with her in the same bath tub and drink from the spot of cup, where she had drunk from. When her father Abu Bakr (rta) once raised his hand on Aisha (rta), because she was arguing with the Prophet (sa), he intervened and playfully reminded her about it later, when they were alone.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) cared for his spouses’ emotional well-being with gentleness and kindness. He approved of physical attraction and the closeness it generated. Hence, they all loved him dearly, willing to make any kind of sacrifices. However, he did not surrender where the Shariah or materialistic issues were under consideration. Today, many couples make a grave mistake – they ignore the aspects of physical intimacy and emotional empathy; instead, they try to please each other with Haram substitutes and materialistic endeavours that are not sustainable. Hence, romance dies.

Even after Prophet’s (sa) very first soul mate Khadijah (rta) was long gone, he would reminisce about her. This is true love that transcends time, a deep romance between the most remarkable man in history who changed the fate of the world, and his loving companion who stood by him like a rock, and the memories of which never evaded the Messenger (sa) as long as he lived.

Transcribed from a Lectureshop organized by Live Deen; compiled for hiba by Rana Rais Khan.