The Ashab-e-Kahf For Today’s Youth

Ashab e Kahf

Transcribed for hiba by Asma Imran

I would like to highlight some lessons from the story of the Ashab-e-Kahf (People of the Cave) which I feel are significantly missing in Muslim discourse especially those related to our youth.

Withdrawal from Mainstream Culture

The first thing I want to talk about is the cultural onslaught. The People of the Cave drew themselves away from the dominant culture when they observed that it was overwhelmingly evil. Actually, a verdict was passed against them according to which they were to be executed as a result of their faith; so they pulled themselves out.

One of the most important lessons to draw from this is that until our lives are in danger, we have to engage with the society. As Muslims, we cannot have the attitude that we are not going to mingle in the society because everything outside is a Fitnah from which we have to protect and shelter ourselves, and the only way we are going to preserve our faith is by totally shutting ourselves out from the outside world. This means that we’ve already accepted defeat. It says that everybody else is attacking us, and we’ve got to save ourselves by pulling back and staying strong within our fort.

However, the entire idea of Islam and the imagery that Allah (swt) presents of Islam is that of truth being hurled against falsehood. Allah (swt) gives the image of truth being like a weapon and falsehood being the victim and running away. Thus, the truth is attacking falsehood, and falsehood is on the run. So who’s on the offense and who’s on the defence? Who’s actually questioning the wrong happening in our society and engaging with it and saying: “We are here to change things?” That’s the truth. And who’s actually supposed to go into hiding? That’s supposed to be falsehood.

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Food: My Fuel for Faith

food and faithIs there a deeper meaning to our meals? Does the food we eat along with how, where, and when we eat make a difference to our health, family, and faith? We, as Muslims, must consider that any choice we make, no matter how mundane, has implications for our faith. Food, which is seemingly innocent and a blessing of Allah (swt), has a vital role to play in who we are. This article looks at food choices through the filter of Islam and Seerah. We will talk about how consumption of different types of food has an impact on our behaviour, and investigate whether or not food quality and quantity dictates our thoughts, behaviour, and actions. As the old adage goes: “You are what you eat.” We will also discuss what Shifa and Tayyab food is.

Avoiding Extremes

Before we go on, let’s ponder over what it means to eat as a Muslim. Eating is a part of worship for us as food is a blessing granted by Allah (swt). We supplicate to Allah (swt) to bless our food, and we eat only after we have recited His name. We must be cognizant of how our food reaches us, the people who are involved in it, and how its production fulfills Allah’s (swt) command for us. Allah (swt) tells us in verse 31 of Surah Al-Araf: “O Children of Adam! Take Your adornment (by wearing Your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of) the Kabah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance).”

So where do our eating habits fall, according to the above Ayah?

  1. Necessity
  2. Satiety
  3. Excess

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim mentions two extremes regarding food.

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Partner in Paradise

partner

You are standing in front of a showcase admiring a crystal vase. You decide that you want to take a closer look. You pick it up and start examining it from every angle, admiring it even more now that you can see its intricate design. Someone calls you from behind. Startled and distracted, you drop the vase. It falls on the floor and breaks into a million pieces. Who or what will you hold as chiefly responsible for this?

  1. Yourself: you should have been more careful.
  2. The person who called you: after all, he or she startled you.
  3. The shelf on which the vase was placed before you picked it up.

While (a) and (b) might sound plausible, the third scenario is completely illogical. Why would you possibly blame the shelf of the showcase when it had nothing to do with the situation at hand?

Keep this analogy in mind and reflect over the Muslim marriages around you. We hear success stories as well as sad ones. In the case of the latter, at times, you find people ascribing blame to a number of factors which at times are not even related to the situation at hand.

Following are eight practical steps to take once you receive a proposal for yourself or for someone in your family who is under your guardianship. It is important to remember that problems in a marriage can stem from a deficiency in any of these steps.

Step 0: Take the Elimination Test.

  1. Prepare a list of qualities you do not appreciate and would never want in your spouse, for instance, greed, pomp, flirtatious behaviour with non-Mahrams, laziness, habitual and casual lying, etc.
  2. Prepare a list of professions that you would not want your future spouse to be in, for example, banking, modelling, etc.
  3. Prepare a final list of any specific thing that you cannot agree to, for instance, a working wife (for men), or a husband who travels extensively or lives abroad (for women).
  4. When preparing the aforementioned lists, do ensure that you include only those few things that are absolutely non-negotiable for you.
  5. Let your parents know that apart from the suitors who have any of the characteristics in your list, you would be happy to marry a suitor of their choice.

Step 1: Investigate.

  1. Conduct a thorough investigation, even if you think you know the family well. At times, people say: “We have known them for years; we know exactly how they are.” This is a delusion. Just because you know one or two members of the family doesn’t mean you know all of them.
  2. Investigate through the subordinates. Interestingly, a lot of families conduct an investigation using only the references that are given by the proposing family. You should aim to acquire a balanced opinion by asking those who are ‘under’ the family, so to speak. This might include the prospective groom’s subordinates at the workplace, who, by the way, would know a lot more about the temperament and conflict resolution strategies of their ‘boss’ than his friends and cousins.
  3. Profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. nowadays reveal a lot about the suitor’s likes, dislikes, values, and mannerisms. It may also tell you things you would not find through a formal investigation.
  4. Always schedule a one-on-one interview. Fathers may interview prospective grooms while mothers may interview prospective brides. In our culture, unfortunately, it is usually the girl who bears the brunt of answering daunting questions related to her physical features and housekeeping skills. Interviews with boys are minimal and are usually held in the presence of their parents, who answer on his behalf.

Step 2: Ask the right questions.

  1. Avoid extensive and irrelevant questions related to educational qualifications, career plans, and so on.
  2. Always word your questions using the principle of Hikmah (wisdom). You might put off the family if you conduct too many ‘rapid-fire’ rounds.
  3. Relationship of the suitor with Allah (swt) helps determine his or her priorities. Is he/she moderate in worship and does he/she want to grow in the practice of Deen? Is he/she rigid and has a one-track mind that can be stifling for the spouse later on? Is he/she a cultural Muslim, and careless about following Islam?
  4. You may inquire about the suitor’s salary and workplace timings but it is more important to find out what kind of spending habits he has, and how he strikes a balance between his home and workplace.

Step 3: Be practical.

  1. It is said that one should avoid marrying girls into households that are financially at a lower level than their own. This is because such girls may have adjustment problems later on. Likewise, it is said that when marrying boys, girls from equal or lower financial background should be preferred, as they would have fewer adjustment problems.
  2. Girls coming from small families should avoid getting married into large families living in a joint family system. This puts unnecessary strain on any marriage.
  3. While investigating and selecting, families (parents of the suitors) as well as the boy and the girl, must try to match their personal behaviour and value system. Habits can be altered or adjusted to. For example, a man may be a practicing Muslim but he may not be very good with handling finances. Even if he means well, he just doesn’t have the ability or skill to do so. A girl may be a practicing Muslimah but have average housekeeping skills. In such circumstances, the families must analyze what can be adapted to, and what cannot be compromised, before making their decision.

Step 4: Be cool-minded.

  1. At times, families are ‘dazzled’ by the proposals they receive. “We never thought they would consider our son/daughter.” They get so overwhelmed that they totally ignore steps 1-3 and rush into agreeing. “This is such a distinguished family. If we won’t accept the proposal now, we might lose the opportunity. They won’t wait forever.”
  2. Keep your cool in all such circumstances. This might seem to be the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’, but you still need to investigate and be practical.

Step 5: This is not the very last proposal to be received.

  1. At times, when a family (usually of girls) is desperate, it says ‘yes’ to the very first proposal that comes. There have been plenty of cases where parents rushed into a decision and deeply regretted it later.
  2. Have Tawakkul (reliance) on Allah (swt). He is the best of planners and He has created mates for each of his creation.
  3. Don’t treat a proposal as if it is the very last one that you will ever receive. Conduct an investigation, and be practical and cool-minded at the same time.

Step 6: Parents should obtain consent from the girl and the boy.

  1. At times, parents get so excited at the prospect of getting their children married that they conduct almost all the steps without bothering to ask their son/daughter if he or she is even interested in the proposal. This results in quite a few problems later on.
  2. As soon as you contemplate marriage for your son or daughter, the first question to ask them is whether or not they are already interested in someone and want you to initiate a proposal. With co-educational institutes and plenty of mixed-gender opportunities, this is not as far-fetched an idea as it may sound.
  3. If your son or daughter informs you that he/she is indeed interested in proposing to someone, don’t let that be a blow to your ego. Never contemplate emotional blackmailing of your son or daughter in order to steer them into an unwanted marriage.

Step 7: Salat ul-Istikhara and its interpretation.

  1. When you have conducted all the steps and are satisfied with the outcome, you may pray Salat ul-Istikhara. At times, parents keep praying Salat ul-Istikhara during the entire process, which is actually not a bad idea at all. This is because it ensures that if this proposal is not suitable for either of the parties, hurdles start appearing. These may include a negative aspect of the family that becomes apparent, an argument over a petty issue that escalates to a full-fledged dispute and so on.
  2. At times, either the children or the parents are so convinced that this proposal is right for them that they keep praying Salat ul-Istikhara and, at the same time, keep ignoring all the hurdles that keep coming up. It is imperative to trust Allah (swt)! If obstacles are coming in the way, then this union is not meant to be. Accept it and move on.

Step 8: Trust your sixth sense.

  1. It may happen that before or after you have prayed Salat ul-Istikhara, you get this gut feeling that this proposal is not right for you or your son/daughter. Don’t ignore such feelings. Keep praying to Allah (swt), and if this feeling persists, then it might be that this match isn’t right for you or your family after all.

Important Questions to Ask Your Prospective Spouse

  1. Why are you interested in getting married?
  2. How do you think getting married will bring you closer to Allah (swt)?
  3. What are your top three expectations from your spouse?
  4. What are your top three goals in life?
  5. What are your top three leisure time activities?
  6. To what extent does the practice of Deen feature in your lifestyle, apart from the five daily prayers?
  7. What are your top three pet peeves?
  8. How do you think disagreements should be resolved?
  9. If you wrong someone, do you apologize? How?
  10. What kind of a relationship do you have with your family members?
  11. When making important decisions, who do you consult and why?
  12. What is your vision for your future family?

To the prospective bride only

  1. How particular are you about observing Hijab?
  2. What are your plans after marriage: study, work, or stay-at-home?
  3. How will these plans change after having children?
  4. Are you in favour of leaving children with nannies or members of extended family, in order to pursue educational and/or work interests?
  5. Are you comfortable with home management skills?
  6. If your husband has to move abroad for work or study, will you be willing to migrate as well?
  7. Are you willing to live in a joint family setup if your husband cannot provide you with separate accommodation?

To the prospective husband only

  1. Are you particular about Hijab? Would you take care to ensure that your wife is not required to serve male guests of the house or attend mixed gatherings without Hijab?
  2. How will you handle conflicts between your spouse and your immediate family?
  3. If such conflicts increase, would you consider a separate portion or accommodation for your wife?
  4. Are you in favour of taking loans (credit-based or otherwise) to acquire such assets as house, car, etc.?
  5. Are you able to save a portion of your salary?
  6. Do you have a credit card?
  7. If you lose your current job, would you take one offered by a bank (or an institution that deals in Riba)?
  8. If your wife is the only child and required to take care of ailing parents, how will you handle this situation?
  9. How adept are you in basic household chores and would you be willing to take care of them in exceptional circumstances?
  10. Are you particular about home-cooked meals? Would you make an exception, if your wife is ill?

Bridging Differences: The Art of Creating Agreements

bridges-cover

Conflict is a common aspect of our lives. It does not always involve someone being right or wrong, as even a clash of perceptions can lead to a conflict. The world around us is full of open ferocity. Even if we are living in a peaceful family and city, external factors instill our minds with rampant aggression. Mass media, games, movies and even news portray unrest. This has made us prone to hostile behaviour to the point that we feel it’s a common human trait, while it is not. We should face conflicts with a peaceful mind and a positive attitude to eliminate the problems from their roots. If we are hostile and impatient, we will only slide deeper into trouble.

Today’s fast-paced life requires us to maintain amiable relations with people around us, because we might not get the chance to solve conflicts at a later time. Delay in settling differences can jeopardize valuable relationships, too. Our aim should be to bridge any arising differences and cultivate positive ground, even if there is a disagreement.

Pondering over the ways our Prophet (sa) used to resolve conflicts, we can avail a complete strategy for ourselves to practice. Let’s look at some common mistakes people make in conflict-ridden situations and at the ways we can bridge differences by using a structured sequence of “Conflict Resolution Skills” (as taught by “Timelenders”, a renowned consulting firm).

Value Time

A common statement that we usually say or think is: “I don’t have time to explain”. We are in a constant race against time. We fight ourselves to wake up in the morning, stumble our way to get to work, are restless at our workplace, and cannot wait to go home. At home, we rush through dinner and then sleep, and the next day, we are back to the grind again. This unnecessary sense of urgency builds up stress. Eventually, it affects our relationships and leads to various conflicts. We assume that there is less time; hence, our focus is on getting what we want, regardless of the impact it can have on others.

Firstly, we need to realize that Allah (swt) has made a day with sufficient time. Thus, we should stop assuming that there is a lack of time and start utilizing it efficiently. To do so, we don’t need to attend any workshop. We merely need to consult the life of the Prophet (sa) and adapt to his lifestyle as closely as possible.

Assuming that the other person would not understand you or that there is not enough time for explaining is unfair; often, this becomes the main cause of a conflict. If we do not have a structured schedule, we tend to get stuck in prolonged unscheduled appointments. We should develop filters, which help us avoid such unplanned appointments by posing a politely phrased excuse and offering another available timing later on, and ensuring that we do fulfil our promise and not just get rid of them. Gifts are important tools for making people realize that we value them. Eventually, they would learn to understand our priorities.

It is not advisable to plan your day with back to back activities or tasks with hardly any breathers in between. Fill your day with realistic number of commitments.

Suspend Judgement

Commonly, we tend to evaluate others, while communicating. When someone talks, the listener does three main tasks:

  • He hears which is a mechanical action;
  • He comprehends what’s being said by comparing it with his own data;
  • He starts judging by deciding the authenticity of the information and evaluating its usefulness.

The listener needs to do all three these tasks in this exact sequence, in order to properly understand the information. However, people tend to make the mistake of comprehending and judging at the same time. Often, the listener has formed his final judgement even before the other person has completed talking. As soon as the judgement has been made, we disregard the later pieces of information, which could possibly lead to a totally different judgement overall. This process is called ‘premature judgement’.

Premature judgement is one of the main causes of conflicts, leading to unnecessary misunderstandings. In order to avoid such situations, we should completely suspend the task of judgement till the end of the conversation. If a lot of information is being communicated, try to take notes, so that evaluation can be done later. If you have missed out on any information, respectfully ask the person to repeat.

We should keep in mind the fact that “we listen what we want to hear”. By practicing proper listening skills and suspending premature judgement, we can eliminate various petty disputes from our daily lives.

Practice Strong Principles

For establishing successful communication, we should implement in our daily dealings the following principles.

  • We will not lie.

Allah (swt) has said: “In their hearts is disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies.” (Al-Baqarah 2:10) As Muslims, we cannot disregard what the Quran says. If the Quran contains such disdain for liars then there is nothing left to explain.

  • We will not deceive.

Allah (swt) has said: “They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves and perceive (it) not.” (Al-Baqarah 2:9) Deceiving others is equivalent to deceiving yourself and obviously neglecting the presence of Allah (swt), as He watches us and knows what is in our hearts.

  • We will not take advantage of anyone’s weakness.

Exploiting others is actually a weakness within the person himself, which shows lack of confidence. When someone is selling a car for covering urgent hospitalization expenses, we should not take advantage of this person’s weakness by offering a reduced price. Instead, we should buy the car as per its market value.

Allah (swt) has commanded us not to lie or deceive, so we should not breach this commandment. Put into practice the three above principles on a daily basis, internalizing them as your own. No matter what situations or conflicts arise, we should examine ourselves to make sure we follow the above principles. A famous quote says: “Truth always wins.” Hence, we should always be among the truthful to be true winners.

Focus on Interests, not Positions

For understanding this fundamental principle of conflict resolution, consider the following story about two young boys fighting over an orange.

Ahmad and Saad were fighting over an orange. None of the boys was willing to share and kept on asserting their position: “I want the orange!” This argument kept on going for a while. Finally, a man came forward and divided the orange into half, distributing between the boys equally. Both were now content and went on to enjoy their piece of the orange. Ahmad threw away the inside of the orange and used the peel for an art project. On the other hand, Saad ate the fruit and threw away the peel.

Thus, in this situation, Ahmad’s interest was the peel, while Saad’s interest was the inside of the fruit. Was it a wise decision to divide the orange into halves? It was not. A wise decision could be reached, if Ahmad and Saad had first communicated their interests, rather than their positions. The position was that they wanted the orange, while their interests were very different. If the interests were communicated among the two, then Ahmad could have had the whole of peel, and Saad would have enjoyed the whole of the fruit. They would have had a win-win situation.

We tend to focus on what we want and assert all our energy towards availing that, rather than communicating the reason behind our needs. Humans have a logical mind structure, and our brain is designed to reason; thus, we should not fight for what we want, without reasoning about it with the other person. If we successfully communicate our direct interests, we will be able to avoid unnecessary arguments and develop better relationships. This process will eventually take less time and will give a win-win situation for both sides involved.

Be Mindful of the Human Angle

The human angle of any argument consists of perception, emotions and communication. Perception is of foremost importance in conflict resolution, because it helps us realize the diversity that prevails in human minds. Perception is the way we see something or imagine its intensity and existence in our own mind. Each person has a different perception, which is shaped by their life experiences. Thus, two people in the same situation may have an entirely different view of it, as each of them has their own perception.

When resolving conflicts, we need to consider this possibility of different perceptions of the same topic. Each perception is someone’s reality, according to which they will act. The better we understand each other’s perception, the better we will be able to negotiate.

In order to understand someone’s perception, we should put ourselves into their shoes and try to understand their views. Once we develop an idea about the perception of the other person, we can look for common or similar grounds of looking at the reality between us.

Furthermore, we should listen carefully, and avoid making premature judgement. Once we have heard the entire story, we can rephrase it to explain our own understanding of the problem. In this way, everyone will come on the same page, avoiding misunderstandings.

Generate a Variety of Possibilities

When trying to resolve a conflict, we should not look for a single solution. If we look for a single solution, we will leap upon the first one we come across, which might not be the wisest decision. Therefore, we should ponder over a variety of different possibilities and try to choose the most suitable one.

Insist on Objective Criteria

People involved in a conflict cannot always come to a wise solution by themselves. For availing the best solution and effectively bridging differences, we can apply set standards, which function as a criterion. Such standards may include:

  • Consulting a third party for a better solution;
  • Deciding from previous experiences or examples;
  • Letting a court make the decision;
  • Deciding according to moral standards of the society;
  • Deciding according to the Shariah;
  • Following tradition;
  • Following international standards.

For selecting a certain standard, list down the most applicable standards for your situation and then settle on the one providing the best possible solution. For instance, in a conflict of divorce, the most applicable standards can be Shariah, moral standards, and tradition and, in extreme cases, court and international standards.

Conclusion

Islam provides Muslims with a complete code of conduct and a structured lifestyle. In the life of our Prophet (sa), we have the best of examples to follow. We should also realize the fact that not every war is worth fighting for. If we find ourselves in a conflict, which seems to have no apparent solution, we should end the conversation on a positive note and let go of it. We should be ready to end such conflicts respectfully, accepting that sometimes it is better to part without coming to an agreement.

A very famous Chinese proverb says that “a family in harmony will prosper in everything”. We should consider all Muslims as our family and try to bridge our differences to have a harmonious Ummah. Once we are at peace among ourselves, we shall be able to focus on the larger goal of bringing back the glorious times of Islam.

Did you know?

  • 30-40 percent of supervisors’ and managers’ daily activities are devoted to dealing with conflicts in the workplace.
  • Over 65% of performance problems result from strained relationships between employees, not from deficits in individual employee’s skill or motivation.
  • The surging price of education has become the major cause of conflict between Chinese husbands and their wives.
  • Just about every family has one thing in common: money problems. Even millionaires bicker over how much to spend and how much to save, and money is the number one reason couples fight and the number one cause of divorce, according to psychologist Dr. Cristy Lopez.

Quotable quotes

  • “Peace is not absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan
  • “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” Wayne Dyer
  • “Conflict can and should be handled constructively; when it is, relationships benefit. Conflict avoidance is *not* the hallmark of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.” Harriet B. Braiker in Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life
  • “I’ve known plenty of couples who choose to ignore budding problems or dissatisfactions because it’s easier in the moment. But too much of that for long enough, and you all of a sudden have a huge problem on your hands, or a midlife crisis, or a broken marriage.” Fawn Weaver in Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage

Beautiful Weaves – Relations with In-Laws

Beautiful Weaves

The Man Who Marries – The Most Critical Player

In a Muslim household, the man of the house is the Ameer (leader). He is the shepherd, who will be held accountable for his flock. He is their leader; he knows them, nurtures them and trains them to become effective members of the Ummah socially, physically, emotionally, mentally and, most significantly, spiritually.

Consider a household in which a set of parents just got their son married. The entire family lives together under one roof. Who will be the Ameer of this family: the father or the son? Until now, it was the father, of course, but now, after their son has wedded, he needs to become the Ameer for his own family as per Islam’s demand. His wife and his offspring to be born will be his responsibility all the way.

The greatest problem that joint family setups and over-protective parenting of today poses is that the man, who is married, hasn’t grown up to be a man. He is clueless about his role, obviously untrained, living in the shadows of his parents and sometimes even financially dependent. This automatically spells disaster. If he has no vision for himself, his wife or the family to come, he will not be granted any freedom to take his decisions either.

He will be an easy prey to manipulation from either side, be it his wife or his parents. Since he will have little courage to stand up for anyone’s rights, he will be controlled. This man will never be able to do justice with any of his relations, because he will eventually tilt towards the oppressor. The oppressed may be the parents or his wife and family.

If boys can go through vigorous and multiple years of academic education and career counselling, why aren’t they prepared for such a pivotal role of their life that will determine their eternity: hell or heaven? And if this sounds too dramatic for you, read on:

“And those who break the Covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allah’s mercy), and for them is the unhappy evil home (i.e. Hell).” (Ar-Rad 13:25)

It is the effectiveness of this role as an Ameer that defines a man’s success and place in his family. If he is able to provide financially, decide wisely, love empathetically, forgive patiently and, above all, treat everyone justly, he will command everybody’s respect and earn Allah’s (swt) mercy, too.

The best means to train yourself is to seek guidance from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (sa). Parents of boys should offer to them opportunities for taking decisions; it doesn’t matter whether they are wrong or right. They should be encouraged to learn conflict resolution skills. Parents can discuss varied scenarios from home, school, workplace, market and elsewhere and invite them to analyze situations and resolve issues. Shura (advise) should be sought from them, concerning important family matters, so these boys groom into competent Muslim men.

All these means are stepping stones to empowering them for their future role as Ameers of their own families. If they are old enough to marry and be accountable before Allah (swt), why do parents think that their sons are not mature enough to lead their own flock?

Father – The Navigator

With the passage of time, the role of a father has been diminished merely to that of a bread winner. Once he stops putting food on the table for his family, he is not remembered much. This may be due to the fact that while he was striving hard to finance the needs of his family, he was hardly around for bonding with them.

In Ibrahim (as), we see a dynamic father whose genes, sacrifice for Islam and prayers to Allah (swt) prove the obedience we all know Ismail (as) for. Sahih Bukhari narrates that after the death of Hajrah (as), Ibrahim (as) came to visit Ismail (as) and his family; however, Ismail (as) had left Makkah before his arrival. He met Ismail’s (as) wife instead and inquired about him. She replied that he had gone to search for livelihood. Then, Ibrahim (as) asked her about their condition and way of living. She said, complaining to him: “We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution.” Ibrahim (as) replied: “When your husband returns, convey my salutation and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).” When Ismail (as) returned home, he felt something unusual. He asked his wife, if anyone had come in his absence and she narrated the whole message to him. Ismail (as) told his wife: “It was my father, who visited you, and he has told me to divorce you. Go back to your family.”

Ismail (as) married another woman from the tribe of Jurham. Ibrahim (as) stayed away for some time, as long as Allah (swt) wished; he again visited his son but did not find him. He came to Ismail’s (as) wife and asked her about him. She replied: “He has gone to search for his livelihood.” Ibrahim (as) then inquired: “How are you getting on?” asking about their sustenance and living. She replied: “We are prosperous and well-off (i.e., we have everything in abundance). Then she thanked Allah (swt). Ibrahim (as) asked: “What kind of food do you eat?” she answered: “Meat.” “What do you drink?” “Water.”

Ibrahim (as) said to his daughter-in-law: “When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.” When Ismail (as) returned, he asked his wife, if anyone had called on her. She replied: “Yes, a good-looking old man came to me.” She praised him and conveyed his message to Ismail (as). Ismail (as) replied: “He was my father, and he has ordered me to keep you with me.”

This is the true concern a father has for his son – to be married to a virtuous and God-fearing girl, who safeguards the progeny and serves as a content, loyal and loving companion. Ibrahim (as) ensured that his son builds a strong Muslim home, not the sustenance he was earning, the kind of camel he was riding or the amount of savings his bank account held.

Ismail (as), in turn, was a devout son, who understood what his father meant and immediately paid heed to his command, as he realized Allah’s (swt) pleasure lied in it.

Mother – The Door to Jannah

Often parents end up spending more than 70% of their earnings (and sometimes all their savings) on the well-being of their children. They don’t keep accounts of it, of course, but it is understood that the very best that comes to the family directly goes to kids.

It is natural for these parents to feel insecure, lonely and at times, abandoned, when their kids (especially married sons) begin their own family lives. The situation is worse, if they have not taught the Islamic values and responsibilities the son has to fulfil towards his parents in terms of kindness, care and time spent together. Adding fuel to fire, a stranger in the form of a daughter-in-law steps in. She is viewed with great suspicion and mistrust. She is perceived as a competitor to the mother-in-law, especially when the son forgets to balance his roles and set his priorities.

Often out of envy and possessiveness, mothers do not want to let their sons go, thinking that they will be loved less and altogether forgotten one day. This may assume extreme measures in cases of single mothers, who are either widowed or divorced. Seeing their children settling in their marital lives gives them fear of losing them.

Parents should ensure that their married children assume the new challenges of life independently and patiently. It is recommended to spend on their children, but it is imperative to invest in one’s retirement and for old age comforts. In case the kids are unable to support them, these parents must have financial independence for themselves. It is a great relief to be able to sustain oneself at an age, when one has no income and many medical expenses.

In terms of expectations, married sons (and not their wives) should be held accountable for the parents. If the sons themselves are not available, they have to hire help or arrange any other required means to take care of their old parents. However, if parents do not teach their children the value of this care, it is very unlikely that the sons will ever serve them. It is the custom of disbelievers to consider daughters-in-law to be slaves, servants or caregivers for their husbands’ elderly parents. In Islam, it is the duty of the son or the daughter equally, married or not.

If the daughter-in-law is a God-fearing soul, she will proactively participate in whatever she can contribute. However, it should be considered that if she has children and her own parents to look after, she might be pressed for time. Sadly, parents seldom marry their sons to such practicing Muslimahs, as recommended by our Prophet (sa). Today, many brides are selected purely on the scale of materialism. When homes break up or men surrender before their headstrong wives, parents are the first ones to be thrown out of the family photograph.

When mothers-in-law are the dominant force, another gloomy question lurks – whose house is it? If the daughters-in-law actively participate in the kitchen, they are considered to be interfering, their management skills are incompetent or they are too concerned about impressing their husbands. If they stay aloof, they are considered to be indifferent, lazy or useless.

Management skills of two ladies can be poles apart yet good in their own ways. There is no perfect recipe for running a house. Management styles are as diverse as the people involved. However, in joint family setups, this is a very common stumbling stone. A mother-in-law, who has been managing the home turf for the past twenty-five or so years, is naturally the ‘queen bee’. She can’t be stripped of her title and honour. The daughter-in-law, who has just joined the family, has her own dreams, ideas and priorities; she might find all of these are being trampled upon. The kitchen is a woman’s dominion, which may easily turn into a battleground. For maintaining peace in home, kitchens must be separately owned and managed.

Muttaqi (pious and God-fearing) mothers are a gift of Allah (swt). They are the binding force of the family. With their invaluable experience, they have a great opportunity to transfer priceless traits to the next generation and leave behind Sadaqah-e-Jariya for themselves.

Daughter-in-law – The Peacemaker

Not long ago, mothers taught their daughters the valuable skills of becoming good wives. Nowadays, this mental preparation and training is increasingly skipped. Since no university offers such courses, for many girls, life after marriage may somewhat resemble a bomb exploding in their face. What? I can’t sleep until noon? I can’t chat on my mobile for hours? I have to cook breakfast for my husband that early? I need to clean up my room? I have to mingle socially with my in-laws? That’s it! I am filing for divorce!

You might think this is an exaggeration. However, tragically, it is true. Young girls of today sometimes want to break up simply because they cannot cope with their roles as wives and mothers. For maintaining the perfect figure, they never ate well; thus, their bodies lack the nourishment required for physical challenges of house chores and child bearing. They were raised to go to school, attend college and take up a job – not for being a part of home management. In other words, they were expected to behave like men. Thus, it is only natural that they revolt, when they are expected to do anything else. They feel as if someone else’s role is being imposed on them.

In some cases, married couples, who live with the parents-in-law, enjoy privileges without participating in responsibilities. In other extreme stories, daughters-in-law are treated like servants. With no love for the parents-in-law in her heart, anger and disdain for her husband, because he wouldn’t stand up for her, and frustrated to the core, she sizzles until she can’t take it anymore. The results are easy to predict: the couple gets a divorce, the couple moves out to a new dwelling after an ugly brawl with the parents, or lives on ‘unhappily ever after’.

What does Allah (swt) say about this? After commanding us not to sever ties of kinship, He also advises us to fear Him and be patient. It is impossible to love, honour and care for people, if we think selfishly – Allah (swt) always has to be in the centre. A girl has no blood ties with either her husband or his family. These relationships require nurturing and tending to on a daily basis. It is like a group of strangers coming together and making an effort to like and live with each other. Some will take more initiative, while others might just sit back and do nothing about it.

As a true agent of change and devout Muslimah, every young married girl must grab the opportunity to make that effort. If there is a misunderstanding, do not prove it right by behaving just like that; prove it wrong by behaving otherwise. It takes a while for strangers to become friends – it requires time and hard work. Also, positive thinking and sincere prayers are like a rescue boat sailing high on the stormy seas, whereas self pity, jealousy and lack of empathy for others is like the “Titanic”, running into the iceberg that sunk it.

For solving problems, we should first understand the parties involved and address their obvious and hidden intents by asking: Why do they behave in a certain way? Once the root cause is unearthed, it is easier for us to devise our own strategies in handling the situation. Also, always separate the problem from the person. Just because someone behaves a certain way doesn’t mean that this person is malicious or downright wicked to the core.

Husband and wife are like garments for each other; they are meant to protect, beautify and confide in each other. A wife is the source of solace, comfort and enjoyment for her husband. Honouring the parents of husband is like honouring him. If a husband treats his wife well, it is because of the upbringing he has received at the hands of his parents. Later, when the young wife becomes a mother, she realizes the pains his parents must have gone through in raising him. It is the right of every parent to be respected. Our in-laws are not our blood relations. Yet, they are no less in significance, as our ties with them will influence the happiness of our own marriage.

May Allah (swt) grant us the forbearance and wisdom to build strong Muslim homes. Ameen.

Friends Mentioned in the Quran

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According to a common adage, a man is known by the company he keeps. Our friendships define and reflect our own persona and innate characteristics. Therefore, it is imperative to watch our steps, before we stride on the road to lifelong camaraderie. “Hiba” guides its readers regarding the kinds of people one should befriend, as mentioned in the Quran.

“A person is upon the religion of their friend.” (Tirmidhi) This simple Hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (sa) defines the sort of relationship we should have with people around us. We should be very careful before making friends. Even if one is pious and religious, if a person’s friends are not on the right path, they will bring about his/her downfall. Hence, we should be very careful, while making friends. Even if we have friends which are not on the right path, instead of following their desires, we should try to guide them and mend their ways. The relationships that we have in this world can lead to our failure or success in the hereafter. Achieving the latter is the ultimate aim of all Muslims. Hence, we should try to make friends who help us achieve this goal.

Since the Noble Quran guides Muslims in every walk of life, it also enlightens regarding the type of friends one should keep. These guidelines are presented by giving friends different terms that help identify the right kind. Following is a brief explanation of the sort of friends that we come across in our life.

Qareen

The word Qareen actually comes from the Arabic term Kiham, which means ‘a rope that ties two camels together’. Hence, Qareen is a kind of friend, who is always with you, spending time with you, texting and emailing you. Such a friend is always around you.

When a person achieves paradise, he/she will remember their friends. They will say: “I used to have this friend, this Qareen, I wonder what happened to him?” They will remember that Qareen used to lure them towards sin. Many a times, they listened to their friend and did all that they were invited to.

Friends generally share the same activities. For instance, when one goes to movies or to watch a basketball game, he invites others as well, so that he may have company. Hence, friendships are based on mutual interests. Therefore, there might have been times, when one was compelled to join their friend in some vain activity out of sheer pleasure.

However, soon they realise that such activities are nothing but sin and mend their ways. On the contrary, their friend keeps egging them on towards such pleasures, making fun of them when they refuse. When one in paradise will inquire about such friends, they will see that they are burning in the worst part of hell. The pious one will thank Allah (swt) for guiding him and saving him from hellfire and will be happy that he stopped listening to his friend.

This is testimony to the fact that a friend can either utterly destroy you or guide you to the right path. The ones in paradise will thank Allah (swt) for guiding them and preventing them from following their friend. They have achieved the ultimate success, which in this context is to escape the temptation of a bad friend, who wants to pull you into evil deeds.

You may be a Qareen or you might have a Qareen. You might be a bad influence yourself, or you might be someone, who is influenced by one far worse than you. Gauge yourself, think about your life. What kind of role do you play among your friends? Are you the person who always uses foul language to get attention? Are you a Qareen, who makes fun of others, when they stop you from doing wrong? Do you look at the things that are highly inappropriate on the web and encourage other people to look at them too?

There is another Qareen that is discussed in the Quran and that is Satan. He befriends those who walk away from the remembrance of Allah (swt). Even when they perform prayers, they are not actually remembering Allah (swt). They just wait for it to be over, so that they can indulge in worldly activities. There is no other motivation for them. Their Qareen constantly compels them to indulge in evil. May Allah (swt) protect us from that kind of Qareen.

Khazool

Khazool is a kind of friend, who only accompanies one in good times, and when the friend needs him, he simply vanishes. He poses to be sincere but shows his true colours in difficult times. Allah (swt) mentions that Satan has always been a Khazool for human beings. A person loses his/her humanity, when giving in to temptations. Satan deceives thousands of young people, because he wants everyone to land in hellfire. He is a Khazool, who will be with you in this life to misguide you, but on the Day of Judgement, when people who followed him will be cursing him, he will simply rebuke them saying that they followed him out of their own free will and he is not to be blamed.

Rafeeq

Rafeeq comes from the Arabic word Mirfaq which means ‘a pillow, something on which you relax when you are exhausted’. A Rafeeq is a kind of friend that you can count on in the hour of need. Such a friend gives sincere advice and is a source of comfort. Allah (swt) explains that a person’s Rufaqah are Nabyeen, Siddiqeen, Shuhada and Sualeheen. Firstly, the prophets are our Rafeeq. Then, the Siddiqeen – those who relentlessly confirm the truth. Thirdly, the Shuhada – those who bear witness of the truth. These are the people who live Islam and are not afraid to show it. Lastly, the Sualeheen – the righteous people are our Rafeeq. These are the people that one can depend on.

In order to gauge who Rafeeq is, one should consider the character of a particular person. Does interaction with him or her make you a better person? One should befriend people who live Islam. They do not give in to temptations and live life for a higher purpose. The best thing to do in this regard is apart from spending time with people of your age, one should also befriend older people. When one spends time with people that are older, they become more mature and also get good advice.

In Islam, as soon as one reaches puberty, s/he becomes an adult. In other words, when you turn to certain age, there are some adult expectations from you. If prayer is binding upon you, then you have to pray, you have to be responsible, and you cannot do certain things that you could have done, when you were a kid. Hence, in this age, it is imperative that one chooses friends wisely, so that they are guided to the right path.

Wali

Wali is a protective friend, who is there to watch your back. You can rely on him/her whenever there is a danger. Your first Wali is Allah (swt) followed by His Messenger Muhammad (sa). Holding on to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) is a means of protection. For example, for a young man, growing a beard is a big challenge; however, it protects him from so many temptations and problems. Just by holding on to the Sunnah of the Messenger (sa), such as to walk with humility and lower your gaze, you will be saved from committing a lot of sins.

Also, all the believing Muslims are your Wali. The ones who perform prayers and follow the limitations set by Islam. By performing regular prayers, they show humility. Nowadays, in schools and colleges, arrogance is being glorified. Five to six days a week, the youth witness that the one who shows arrogance is considered the star of the school.  On the contrary, when such youth go to a Friday sermon, they hear humility being glorified. Hence, they remain confused and it does not impact their minds.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Whoever has the amount of seed worth of arrogance in their heart, they will never see paradise.” (Muslim) This Hadeeth includes even those who are religious – because of their following Islam, they have become arrogant; when they see others that are comparatively less religious, they think that they are better than them. This is also the arrogance that earns Allah’s (swt) wrath. Analyze yourself, remove arrogance from your heart and befriend a Wali.

Siddique

Siddique is the most sincere and truthful friend that will tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. Such a friend knows what is in your best interest and does not shy away from expressing it. Sometimes your friends will not say the right thing, because they are afraid that your feelings might get hurt – Siddique will not do that. S/he is a sincere friend, who can point out your flaws and help you change.

We can learn a lesson from the sincerity of Yousuf (as), when he was thrown in prison. There were criminals all around him that are considered to be the worst kind of people in the society. He remained in such an environment; however, he did not change. Those he interacted with called him “al- Siddique,” the sincere one, who never shies away from telling the truth. We should have this kind of character.

Khaleel

Khaleel is a very close friend, for whom you feel love in your heart. Anything that hurts them, hurts you; any joy that comes to them gives you joy. This is the kind of relationship that is so honoured in the Quran. Allah (swt) chose Ibrahim (as) as a Khaleel. Ibrahim (as) shared a special relationship with Allah (swt). Many a times, when he was afflicted with trials, he relied only on Allah (swt), such as when he was thrown in the fire and when he was in the middle of the desert.

Hameem

Hameem is the one, who is very close to you through kindness and generosity. They are always there, where you want them to be. Khaleel is in the heart, Hameem is in the manifest; on the outside.

Waleejah

Waleejah is the friend, whom you trust to the extent of involving him/her in your private matters. They help you out in business transactions or personal relationships. They assist you in managing problems and disputes in your life. Your Waleejah should only be a true believer. Allah (swt) has strictly forbidden us to keep Waleejah other than Muslims, as they will employ every means possible to cause you harm.

Make sure you are friends with those people who are good role models, rather than those who open doors to sins. The responsibility lies in parents as well. If they do not want their kids to be in trouble or have problems in life, they should make sure that their children have good, sincere Muslim friends. The five hundred people on your Facebook profile are not your friends. Your true friends are those, who guide you to the right path.

Akhdam

Akhdam are friends that you are attracted to. Nowadays, we call them boyfriend or girlfriend. Allah (swt) speaks about them in the Quran, too. Allah (swt) guides that marriage should not be based on some shallow infatuation. Media misguides youngsters, and they enter wedlock having lowly standards. Lose your addiction to entertainment. If you are involved with someone out of wedlock, then walk away from it; save yourself now. You think nobody is watching you; however, Allah (swt) is always there. You think you are not in trouble, because your parents do not know; however, Allah (swt) knows. If you even have an ounce of belief left in your heart, then you know that it is better to walk away.

Following are a few verses of the Noble Quran that explain how our friends will turn away from us on the Day of Resurrection.

“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). 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 Quran) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.’ And the Messenger (Muhammad) will say: ‘O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Quran (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).’” (Al-Furqan 25:27-30)

Before making friends, we should understand the reality of resurrection. Those who believe in resurrection are well-aware of the fact that there shall be no relationships on that day. They will mean nothing on the Day of Judgment. All the worldly relationship that we nurture and blindly follow will not help us. We will be alone with our records in front of Allah (swt).

It is difficult for youngsters to save themselves from peer pressure at school. No matter how much parents try to guide their children, they at times succumb to it and, as a result, indulge in something that is forbidden by Allah (swt). They do it just because all their friends are doing it; hence, it is really important to choose our friends wisely – those who do not force us to tread the forbidden path. At that moment one thinks that they are deviating from what the whole world is doing and being experimental. A person feels his reputation will be at stake in this world. However, this is not so. People do not care for whatever we do in this. They forget, as they have problems of their own to deal with.

We should only think of saving our reputation in front of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has blessed this Ummah with health and luxury, but we have forgotten His favours and indulge in petty worldly affairs whining about everything. This is all because we are over influenced by the company around us. The materialistic, self-centered people have become our role models. We should redefine our priorities by fixing our relationships with the fellow human beings. We should only be friends with God-fearing people for the sake of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.

Transcribed for hiba by Sadaf Khalid

Women Power!

women power

By Dr. Farhat Hashmi

Islamic scholar, teacher and founder of “Al-Huda International”

Women are an important part of the Muslim Ummah, without whom the noblest of goals could not be achieved. Throughout history, they have played significant roles in shaping the future of the upcoming generation. The woman of today needs to know what she has been carved out for; she also needs to learn more about her role models and understand her true status.

Every creation of Allah has a purpose, and complements one another. Allah (swt) first created Adam (as) and then He created Hawwa to give him company and support. Allah (swt) created her from Adam’s ribs. The fact that she was created from his side signifies that they shared companionship. If she had come from his skull bone, she would have had a dominating role. If she would have come from his foot bone, she would have been subservient. She is neither a subordinate nor a dominating controller. Her role is that of a companion, a friend, a supporter and a helper. The very creation of woman defines her role; yet, in the present era, she demands equality and want to assume the same responsibilities that have been given to a man. This has created conflict in today’s world.

The Role of a Muslim Woman

Being a Muslim means that we agree with Allah’s (swt) creation plan and submit to His will. Men and women were created, so that they may fulfil each other’s needs; hence, a natural attraction was kept between both. A woman holds a lot of importance in a man’s life. She is a supportive partner, helping him in discharging his duties as a vicegerent on earth. The role of a woman can be better understood in the light of the examples of the women discussed below.

Prophet Noah’s (as) Wife

She was indifferent to her husband and was not a helpful partner. They were not like-minded and shared different ideologies and beliefs. Prophet Noah (as) was a very patient man – he preached for 950 years and tried to call his nation towards Islam. However, his own wife did not accept Islam.

Ultimately, Prophet Noah’s (as) nation, including his wife, had to face the wrath of their Creator, and they all perished. This brief narration holds valuable lesson for the women of today. It illumes the disparity between two individuals. It is not necessary for a pious man to get married to a righteous wife or vice versa. In this life, sometimes we get what we desire and sometimes, we do not. Women should have positive expectations from Allah (swt) and should not create an ideal in their minds. They should help and support whoever is destined to be their life partner, even if he or she is not their ideal.

Mostly after marriage, people complain that they and their spouses are not of the same mental frequency. The thinking pattern of a man and a woman can never be the same because of the biological differences that are all part of Allah’s (swt) creation plan. We have to work hand in hand, keeping in mind these differences, just like Prophet Noah (as), who did not part with his wife and continued his relationship with her until Allah (swt) decreed doom for her.

Umm-e-Moosa

Prophet Moosa’s (as) mother is yet another glaring example of strength, resolve and complete submission to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) commanded her to place her child in a basket and put it in a river. For a mother to abandon her child is one of the most difficult things to do. Think of her emotions. It was Allah (swt), Who placed the inspiration in her heart and protected her child from harm.

Moosa’s sister followed the flowing basket that was carrying her baby brother. This sheds light on the role of a woman as a sister. She loves, cares for and protects her younger siblings. When Moosa (as) grew up, he had to leave for Madiyan, where he was blessed with a place to stay, food to eat and a good companion. Then he was guided back to Egypt after ten years and commissioned to save his nation.

Where does the story of Moosa (as) begin? Who is the foundation of this story? His mother and the sacrifice she made. If she had not done so, the Pharaoh would not have reached to his rightful end.

Women should put their complete trust in Allah (swt) and hope for the best. Always think positive and wait patiently. Allah (swt) is Merciful and always plans the best for His faithful servants.

Maryam – Umm-e-Isa

Prophet Isa’s (as) mother and his maternal grandmother (wife of Imran) signify a woman’s strength, courage and love for Allah (swt). When Maryam was born, her mother presented her for the service of God, which led to the miraculous birth of prophet Isa (as). Maryam was also a single parent. Can we imagine the impact of women as single parents and how they achieved the remarkable goals, without the aid of any male life partner?

Women in the Life of our Beloved Prophet Mohammad (sa)

Amna – Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) mother: She was another excellent example of single parenting. She raised our Prophet (sa) but did not live long and soon passed away.

Khadijah (rtaf): She was the first woman to accept Islam, an amazing partner with a very strong and supportive role. Time, money, self – she devoted all in the way of Allah (swt). She was a very successful business entrepreneur of her time, and she sacrificed all for her husband’s mission. She donated every penny she owned but never once did she complain. Instead, she was always caring and encouraged out beloved Prophet (sa) at each and every step, raising his children well, too. During the years of the siege, the richest business woman of Makkah had to eat dried leaves, but she did not complain.

Fatimah (rtaf): Daughter of the Prophet (sa) and mother of Hasan (rtam) and Hussain (rtam). Her role is that of a loving daughter, wife and a responsible mother. She spent most of her time at home doing house chores and focusing on her children. She bore all hardships with patience and was given the status of the leader of women in Paradise.

Aisha (rtaf): She was a very intelligent woman, excelling in the field of medicine, literature, poetry, mathematics, laws of inheritance and much more. She had a versatile personality, encompassing multi-dimensional knowledge.

Once, someone asked her how she knew so much about medicine? She replied that all the delegations that used to come to the Prophet (sa) from all around the world, talked about the medical cures from their religion, and she gathered her knowledge from them. This proves that a woman should always strive to gain knowledge. It is very important for a woman to be educated, as she bears the responsibility of raising future generations.

There were hundreds of orphans under the care of Aisha (rtaf), and she looked after them diligently. Aisha (rtaf) preached Islam to men and women alike for forty-eight years. She was also an eloquent speaker.

Umm-e-Atiya (rtaf): She was a brave woman, who participated in six battles along with her husband and fought bravely. It requires a lot of courage to leave one’s home for fighting in the battlefield. Umm-e-Atiya (rtaf) proved that women can do anything for the cause of Islam.

Umm-e-Haram bint-e-Milhan (rtaf): Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to rest in her house often at midday. One day, he sat up from his nap and started to smile. Umm-e-Haram (rtaf) asked him, if he saw something in his dream, and he replied he saw some of the people from his Ummah, crossing the ocean to do Jihad. They appeared like kings wearing shining crowns. She asked the Prophet (sa) to pray for her to be with those men and attain martyrdom. The Prophet (sa) prayed for her. Her grave is still present near the shores of Cyprus, where she fell off her horse and died a martyr, while crossing the ocean with the Muslim army.

We all need to consider the contributions we make to this world. We should analyze what we are planning to give to this humanity. Do we recognize our role? Are we working in any way to perform it in the best possible manner?

Women can contribute immensely, while retaining their natural femininity, without assuming the role of men. They can make their mark and play an important role in the society by fulfilling their duties as a mothers, sisters and wives. If they are helpful, trustworthy companions to their husband, they can move mountains and give worthy and pious individuals to the Muslim Ummah.

Do not waste your time and abilities on self-pity, being bitter all the time and thinking negatively. Allah (swt) has a plan for you. Once we willingly accept the role Allah (swt) has carved out for us, we can work productively achieving our goals and accelerate in the right direction.

Transcribed for Hiba by Umm-e-Ibrahim, Mustafa and Muhammad       

Legacy of a Mominah

mominah

The daughter of a friend of mine, a stunning green-eyed 27-year-old, died on the 2nd of Ramadan. My sons were in the Masjid, attending the translation and Taraweeh session of her brother-in-law. They told me later that when he reached the Ayahs 156-7 of Surah Al-Baqarah: “Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. They are those, on whom are the Salawat (i.e., blessings, etc.) (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones” – at that precise moment, he received a text message stating that his sister-in-law had breathed her last.

Rohma, the grandchild of Dr. Israr Ahmed, had felt pangs of a stomach ache just a month earlier and had a persistent cough. A CT scan revealed lymphoma that was ravaging her entire body. After two failed attempts, the doctors decided to operate upon her yet again to do a biopsy for obtaining a detailed picture, so they could immediately start chemotherapy.

She dropped her three princesses – four-and-a-half year old Maryam, two-and-a-half year old Hajra and nine month old baby Safia – at her mother’s house and went with her husband and mother-in-law (who was also her Khala) to the hospital. Khala advised her to pray Zuhr and Asr together, because they weren’t sure how long the procedure would last. Rohma prayed with such humility and presence that even the nurses couldn’t help being moved. Before they wheeled her away, she said the Kalimah, proclaiming the oneness of Allah (swt) and testifying to the apostleship of Muhammad (saw).

Her condition began to worsen after the surgery – she had to be put on the ventilator.
Her mother and Khala kept a constant vigil by her side, reciting the Quran to her seemingly lifeless form. She was heavily sedated and no movement was detected in her body. However, one day, as her mother read Surah Rahman to her, tears started rolling off Rohma’s eyes. Her lips started moving soundlessly in perfect synchronization with the revealed words. Even though tubes protruded from her nose and mouth, she finished the Surah in a silent yet powerful confirmation of her faith. After ten days on the life support, the soul left her body for its eternal abode.

“(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing onto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, and enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89: 27-30)

Rohma was one of those young people, for whom it can rightly be hoped that they would deserve the honour of being under the shade of Allah’s (swt) grandiose and imperial throne, Insha’Allah, for she, according to a Hadeeth that promises this prize, was raised in complete submission to the will and decree of the Designer of the heavens and the earth. At an age, when teenage girls engage themselves in frivolous activities, she was gaining the understanding of the Deen of Allah (swt). After her marriage to Hafiz Mohsin Mahmood, it seemed like they were made for each other, each excelling the other in virtue and piety. Her husband gave her the impetus to memorize the Word of Allah (swt), and she took to it with a passion and love characteristic of her righteous soul.

She devoted herself completely to being a model wife and ultimate teacher and loving mentor to her little girls. The couple used to spend time listening to each others’ Quran recitation and utilized their time wisely for serving their Master. In contrast to children, who are brought up in a mindless consumption of junk TV, Maryam was being fed the epitome of supreme achievement, the Noble Quran – she knows 16 Surahs by heart and that shows on her intelligent face and in her sparkling eyes. Besides being a fulltime mother, wife and daughter-in-law, Rohma was also assisting her mother in conducting Quran classes, teaching translation, Tafseer and Tajweed.

Although her father is an affluent man, she had no desire for the glint and glamour of this world and hardly ever went to the bazaar. Her unswerving focus was the good pleasure of Allah (swt) and the life of the Hereafter, for which she strove with every ounce of her energy. She had an intense desire for martyrdom, which she confided to her sister just before leaving for the hospital. She knew that the one, who died of a disease related to the stomach, was considered to be a martyr.

Rohma knew the cancer had spread and that she was dying. When people worried about her small girls, she asked them in return if Allah (swt) was not enough for her children and would He not suffice for them?

During Rohma’s brief illness, she saw dreams that held the promise of honour and eternal bliss. She met her deceased grandmother (who was a very righteous woman) in one such vision, wherein she showed her two gardens, one belonging to her and the other to Rohma. She also escorted her to the place, where flowers grew in both their respective Jannahs. After one of her biopsies, she related a near death experience to her grief stricken mother. She said that when her heart had stopped, she had seen five stars of piercing brightness and experienced such an intense feeling of ecstasy that she didn’t want to return to the mundane world. The next thing she saw was doctors bending over her body in their desperate attempt to resuscitate her. This vision was the last thing that she spoke about.

Last Ramadan, this virtuous soul was extremely fortunate to have found the Night of Glory. As she sat in her darkened room doing Ibadah, she saw a radiant light that did not belong to this world, and then her right hand and heart became very heavy, as if angels were greeting her with a warm handshake. Out of her humility and modesty, she did not reveal it to anyone, except her mother – this incident became known only after her death.

The woman, who gave birth to this admirable young lady, Rohma’s kind-hearted mother, is comforted by the fact that she has indeed, Insha‘Allah, fulfilled the purpose of life, which is to please our Lord, the Most High. At Rohma’s funeral, she sat with a saddened face and sinking heart, but there was no wailing and no complaints. Her only utterance was what is pleasing to Allah (swt): “Inna lillahi wa Inna Elaihi Rajioon.”

I still remember the first time I saw Rohma at the occasion of Eid prayer in Bagh-e-Jinnah. “O my God,” I said to myself, “she’s so ravishingly pretty.” That was how Rohma was – beautiful inside and out. May Allah (swt) grant her an elevated rank in Paradise with all her loved ones, Ameen.

Rohma’s small daughters, who were so looking forward to their mother’s return from the hospital, now daily ask their Nano and Dado such heart rending questions as: “Is my mother never coming back? Did my mother die? I also want to die. When will I die?” But at other times, they are consoled by the fact that now they have two mothers: Dado Ammi and Nano Ammi. I pray that these precious girls be granted the good of this world and the next and that their loss is compensated in a way, which cannot be comprehended by us, mortals, Ameen.

The “Fun-damentals” of Entertainment

entertainment

By Rana Rais Khan – Editor, Hiba Magazine

“And it is He who makes (one) laugh and weep…” (An-Najm 53:43)

Islam is all about human nature. That is why it works in moderation, avoids extremes and takes into consideration the Fitrah (of connectedness to Allah (swt)). This ensures peace and harmony at the societal level rather than serving individual interests popularly known as human rights today. Any trend or inclination that is temporary in nature and may jeopardize people in the long run is never endorsed in Islam. Because it is here to stay till the Hour strikes, Islam is the means through which Allah (swt) has secured mankind’s ultimate success.

How Merciful our Rab (swt) is to have sent us a Prophet (sa), who was purposely granted a tender disposition. Had Muhammad (sa) been harsh, the people around him would have run away and no one would have been able to experience Islam’s true spirit. Our Messenger (sa) also set examples for the Ummah to enjoy their lives in private moments with family or public gatherings with friends. He would race with his wives, swim and wrestle with his companions, allow girls to sing and play the tambourine to announce a Nikah ceremony or to inspire soldiers going to war, joke with the young and the old light-heartedly and have the most smiling countenance. He was playful with little children.

Ibn Umar (rta) was asked: “Did the Companions of the Prophet (sa) laugh?” He replied: “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.” It is quite evident that laughter was a part of life even for the pious.

The rule was simple. Whatever was a source of pleasure to Allah (swt) in the name of fun was approved by Muhammad (sa). Therefore he never partook in pleasures that served the Nafs but defied the Shariah. And vice has been around all along. There were people who drank as lords, and liquor was available in abundance. Women were used as an object, and prostitution and adultery was rife. Gambling dens operated for games of chance. Singing and playing of musical instruments was present. Poets wrote poetry of Shirk and celebrated pagan festivals. Very little has really changed in the world of forbidden temptation. The only difference is the medium through which we are accessing it in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the culture of entertainment in general remains as perverse, frivolous and fleeting as ever.

Earlier, physical presence was a condition to be part of frolic. Now we can access everything quickly, freely and cost-effectively through cyberspace. Tragically, in spite of the strides in technology and virtual animation, the content and character of the entertainment world has plunged. Our avenues of entertainment have a direct connection with the social values in which we believe. Since the presence of practicing Muslims is next to non-existent on this front, naturally, we have people with a different set of values who are actively involved in churning out entertainment for us. Then we either endorse it by enjoying it with popcorn or we sit back and criticize it while fuming like a bull. Some boycott it in disgust and anger. But why can’t we fix it or at least, open options for those who wish to have decent and mindful fun? Certainly, Muslims have the means and minds to do it but maybe not many have thought of working in this area.

Muslims will have to work very long and hard, firstly to make valuable contributions and next, to make any impressions at all. This can mean a pleasant and welcome change of out of the box ideas that are pleasing to human nature and yet, decent in their content. The sex and violence filled productions of media and entertainment have killed diversity and creativity to the extent that it feels we have nothing better to offer.

It is sad but true that most of the fun dished out to us is in direct conflict with our basic faith. And we cannot endorse it or accept it for a couple of hours of merrymaking. This is because the impact is far deeper. The obvious and subliminal messages dictate our lifestyle and are a major source of taking us away from Allah (swt). The following are only some of the major issues that arise while indulging in today’s fun:

  1. 1.      Hypocrisy

Adulterating the truth is a very serious sin in Islam. We are commanded to call spade a spade.

  1. 2.      Disrespect for women

Amusingly those who claim to be the champions of women’s liberation abuse her the most. They sell her the false idea that her honour either lies in behaving like a man or using her feminity for immodest show casing.

  1. 3.      Humour

Muslims are required to cautiously pick their subject of humour. It is absolutely forbidden to make fun of our faith in any way and for anyone.

  1. 4.      Ridiculing others

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I am not of those who indulge in amusement. Those who indulge in amusement are not of me.” (Bukhari) It is quite clear that turning someone into a laughing stock and disgracing him is not permissible.

  1. 5.      Falsehood in jokes

Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) said: “Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawood) Prophet Muhammad (sa) had a unique sense of humour. He was truthful even when he joked and that is exactly what he recommended to others. But the comedy that we watch to laugh is hurtful, immoral, and very shallow.

  1. 6.      Addictive

We find occasional incidents of purposeful fun in the lives of our beloved Messenger (sa). That doesn’t mean that it was the centre of his life. Today, music, soap operas, movies, fashion shows, and Facebook can eat up a greater portion of our day. Forsaking them becomes impossible.

  1. 7.      Satanic in nature

As discussed earlier, contemporary entertainment revolves around a disbelieving culture which has been unleashed upon us. Muslims regretfully behave like the sheep which follow their shepherd, not realizing that they cannot become a part of the world where they don’t belong. It is denting identities and fueling insecurities as most Muslims unquestionably accept these satanic forms of fun, and comfortably sponge it up in their lifestyle.

It is not just merrymaking for a couple of hours. It changes their entire perspective of life. They begin to see the world from the eyes of a disbeliever. And hence, when the same Muslims are urged to steer away from the source of this misguidance, they become reactive and skeptical, casting aspersions on those who wish to preserve their identity as a Muslim and help save the Ummah.

Islam is not grim and grey. It will support everything that has a noble purpose, and oppose everything that appeals to the lower base and carnal desires that end up destructing us. As Muslims, we can blaze our own trails. Many have already made successful attempts.

Secondly, are we here in the world only to kill time and leave behind nothing? Even a dried autumn leaf buries itself to form compost for the new sprouting plantation. As responsible Muslims, the lives we lead must surely serve as the most valuable legacy we can leave to those who come after us.

May Allah (swt) guide us all and honour us with eternal glory and enjoyment in the gardens of Eden. Ameen

Box Feature

Are you knee-deep in contemporary entertainment and want out?

The Hadeeth about moving to a favourable climate and away from sins is really the answer which means we throw out all that corrupts us via entertainment: the TV, the friends, the cellular phones, etc. We stop going to malls, for movies, on Facebook, etc. at least for sometime, especially when we are weak and vulnerable and might get hooked back again.

Make Hijrat. Try ‘out of sight, out of mind’ strategy.

Head for those companions and places which support permissible fun. Hunt for new peers and new past times. Be in the company of inspiring and practicing Muslims via YouTube lectures, audio tapes, and live classes.

Basically, clean the closet of all the dust and cobwebs entirely before you re-decorate. You cannot heal if you are besieged with diseases. That is the bottom line. Once you have a greater control over your Nafs, then you can add some stuff back. Slow and steady doesn’t work.

Hope After 9/11 – Globally

hope

Every year, my friend and I put up flyers before Ramadan, inviting others in our college in California to join us for Iftar. We hoped and expected to be contacted by Muslim girls excited at the opportunity of breaking their fasts with other Muslims. Instead, who we found were perhaps far more special – a Japanese student who decided it was crucial for her to learn Arabic in order to understand the Quran better (she later transferred to Al-Azhar to follow her aspirations), and a young seventeen–year-old Mexican girl, who had been hiding her desire to convert to Islam from her parents for three years and wanted to keep her first fast with us.

At a time post 9/11, when Islam was under intense scrutiny throughout the world and especially in the West, it was heart-warming yet mind-boggling how it still attracted young women with such vigour. Adding to the paradox, as political Islamophobia radically increased in Europe, Islam continued to be the fastest growing religion in the same region. Racist nationalistic governments or political parties in countries like France, Norway and Switzerland initiated steps to remove Islamic “symbols”. Niqab was officially banned in France and they wanted to eliminate Halal food options in school canteens. But these steps across a range of countries have not been able to halt the interest towards Islam. In fact, it keeps bouncing back with more intensity. It was no less than a miracle that Daniel Streich, the man responsible for initiating the successful campaign for banning minarets in Switzerland, not only converted to Islam but vowed to make the biggest, most beautiful mosque in Europe to counter his past hatred for the religion.

However, the most interesting aspect of the conversions to Islam is that although the West accuses Islam of suppressing women’s liberties, a large proportion of those embracing Islam happen to be Western women. Camilla Leyland, a 32-year-old single mother embraced Islam in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’. She explains: “I know people will be surprised to hear the words ‘feminism’ and ‘Islam’ in the same breath, but, in fact, the teachings of the Quran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.”

A new study by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters suggests that the real figure of conversions to Islam in the UK alone could be as high as 100,000 with as many as 5000 conversions in one year alone. The same study suggested that the conversion rate was more in females, and that the average age of converts was twenty-seven. Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, admitted that this report was the best intellectual “guesstimate” but added that “either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years.”

Mughal attributed this increase in converts to the prominence of Islam in the public domain and the subsequent public curiosity it provoked. Batool Al-Toma, a 25-year-old Irish born convert to Islam, agrees: “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years. The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves.” Islam’s latest convert that surprised the UK was Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth. Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, recalls the day she decided to become a Muslim: “It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.”

Another celebrity convert, London-based Kristiane Backer, is a former MTV presenter. Kristiane says: “In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system. Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realized how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one God makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.”

According to Kevin Brice from ­Swansea University, who carried this research out for Faith Matters, the female converts to Islam, “seek spirituality, a higher meaning and tend to be deep thinkers.” The depth of their thought rings true to me. Yuki had told me that when her sister committed suicide for no apparent reason in Japan, it provoked her family to seek the meaning of life, which is what led her to Islam. Her parents were ecstatic that she had found an answer. My much younger Mexican friend bewildered me with her very deep paintings, depicting souls in trouble seeking peace and light in the midst of trouble.

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey (“From MTV to Mecca”), believes that women who were born Muslims became disillusioned and rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against but the culture. The treasures of the true Islam lead so many to embrace it, despite the steps taken to demoralize its followers and mar the faith. It’s a jewel that those born in Islam perhaps take for granted. The image that can never leave my mind is when my young friend in California took out a beautiful wooden box from her drawer to show me, where she cherishingly saved her most price-less possessions: “Her book on how to pray Salah, her silk scarf and her Quran.”

9/11 – More Than a Decade Later

decade

The Past: Soon after the September 11, 2011 tragedy

By Tasneem Vali, Chicago

I was working at Children’s Memorial Hospital in an elite part of Chicago. A bunch of us would frequent several places for lunch. Our favorite was a Greek restaurant – excellent salads and ambience – that is, until 9/11. The week after that cataclysmic event, Margie and I went to lunch and a customer said: “Go back to where you came from.”

 

Even worse than the hurtful comment was the fact that the proprietor, ‘a friend’, didn’t even bat an eyelid. We left, never to return. That left a scar. I decided I would ‘look’ Muslim and started wearing the Hijab. Maybe this was Allah’s (swt) way to make me realize that my education and other privileges have given me a responsibility. I must be a totem for Muslim women everywhere. The way I behave ‘does’ impact what people think of Islam – it is my responsibility to educate myself and make Islam my Deen.

 

Amir Reza has a similar story. The son of Iranian parents who migrated to the U.S. just before the Islamic Revolution, Amir and his siblings were born and raised in Central California in a small, agriculturally-dominated town. He believes 9/11 impacted him when he was at college.

 

“I felt I had to be an advocate for the Muslims when people jokingly used the word ‘terrorist’,” Reza said: “I had to be ready with accurate answers and not let such comments slide.

 

“Another way in which 9/11affected me was during travel. Ironically, I grew a large beard in college, so getting through any airport was a challenge. It felt like for two years, I was always pulled out of line to be searched individually or asked a few more questions than most. But, once they heard me speak, they would lose interest and let me go. However, it was interesting to watch my dad (notoriously paranoid) become worried going through security lines. He would say: ‘With a name like Ali Reza, who knows what they could do.’ I would tell him, that this is no reason for them to do anything – and, of course, we have nothing to hide.”

 

The Present: Life in America Today

 

By J. Samia Mair, Maryland

 

Unfortunately, more than a decade later, Muslims in America face the same kind of fear, misconceptions and prejudice that they had experienced shortly after 9/11. In some ways, it is worse. For example, it has become politically acceptable, even advantageous, for some politicians to make openly prejudicial statements about Islam and the Muslims. A one-time candidate and frontrunner for the 2012 Presidential election said on several occasions that he would not hire Muslims in his administration. Another frontrunner, known for his anti-Muslim statements, described Palestinians as an “invented” people and “terrorists.”

 

Corporate actions concerned with profits also provide a glimpse into the public psyche. Lowe’s, a national home improvement store, recently pulled its advertising for a reality show on American Muslims, because the founder and sole employee of a fringe organization faulted the show for portraying Muslims as ordinary Americans, not terrorists.

 

But the most disturbing and potentially far-reaching impact of 9/11 on Muslims are the new laws that have been adopted to counter terrorism, such as the USA Patriot Act and the recent National Defense Authorization Act, which, among other things, allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism and the transfer of US citizens to foreign authorities, a process known as rendition. So, what we have now is an intrusive and anti-democratic legal system in place that can be utilized against Muslims at any time. What would it take to trigger these measures? Many believe that another attack like 9/11 would do it.

 

In some ways, though, conditions for Muslims have improved since 9/11. People have returned to their daily lives and most do not live fearing an imminent terrorist attack. Many non-Muslims have defended Islam and the rights of Muslims. More people are learning about Islam, and Muslims across the country are speaking out, spreading the truth about our Deen. It is an exciting yet uncertain time for American Muslims. We face both challenges and opportunities. And we have learned over the past decade that we cannot sit idly by and hope for justice and sanity to prevail.

 

The Future: Beyond Those Three Digits

 

By Kiran Ansari, Chicago

 

What happened nearly eleven years ago was a tragedy in every sense of the word. Amid the grief and devastation felt by the American people, Muslims worldwide were also adversely affected in one way or the other. From visa issues and airport security to deportation, arrests and hate crimes, everyone has a story to tell.

 

However, it is time to move on. We cannot remain apologetic for something that we had nothing to do with. American Muslims, in fact, Muslims everywhere around the world need to take an active part in the community, so the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is blurred without any compromise in our beliefs. From volunteering at your child’s school and visiting a sick neighbour to running for public office, if we plan on living in the United States, we have to be involved. As the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, said: “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.”

 

If we think that we have it hard, reading a few pages of the Seerah will show us that our trials are nothing in comparison to what the early Muslims had to go through.

 

Some of us may be parents of U.S. citizens; others may send their kids off to college or vacation in America. So, whether we like it or not, America does play a role in the lives of millions across the globe. We cannot change the past, but it is in our power to mould the future. We cannot change the perceptions of every Islamophobe, but we can at least do our part in changing the way our co-workers, friends and neighbours think of Muslims.

 

“They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:134)

 

As Muslims in America and elsewhere, we cannot risk being lost in a melting pot, where everything simmers into one sauce. We have to be proud of our identity like ingredients in a salad. Even when ‘tossed’ in adversity, each and every one of us should work together while retaining our unique taste, texture and colour.

 

The Past: Soon after the September 11, 2011 tragedy

By Tasneem Vali, Chicago

I was working at Children’s Memorial Hospital in an elite part of Chicago. A bunch of us would frequent several places for lunch. Our favorite was a Greek restaurant – excellent salads and ambience – that is, until 9/11. The week after that cataclysmic event, Margie and I went to lunch and a customer said: “Go back to where you came from.”

Even worse than the hurtful comment was the fact that the proprietor, ‘a friend’, didn’t even bat an eyelid. We left, never to return. That left a scar. I decided I would ‘look’ Muslim and started wearing the Hijab. Maybe this was Allah’s (swt) way to make me realize that my education and other privileges have given me a responsibility. I must be a totem for Muslim women everywhere. The way I behave ‘does’ impact what people think of Islam – it is my responsibility to educate myself and make Islam my Deen.

Amir Reza has a similar story. The son of Iranian parents who migrated to the U.S. just before the Islamic Revolution, Amir and his siblings were born and raised in Central California in a small, agriculturally-dominated town. He believes 9/11 impacted him when he was at college.

“I felt I had to be an advocate for the Muslims when people jokingly used the word ‘terrorist’,” Reza said: “I had to be ready with accurate answers and not let such comments slide.

“Another way in which 9/11affected me was during travel. Ironically, I grew a large beard in college, so getting through any airport was a challenge. It felt like for two years, I was always pulled out of line to be searched individually or asked a few more questions than most. But, once they heard me speak, they would lose interest and let me go. However, it was interesting to watch my dad (notoriously paranoid) become worried going through security lines. He would say: ‘With a name like Ali Reza, who knows what they could do.’ I would tell him, that this is no reason for them to do anything – and, of course, we have nothing to hide.”

The Present: Life in America Today

By J. Samia Mair, Maryland

Unfortunately, more than a decade later, Muslims in America face the same kind of fear, misconceptions and prejudice that they had experienced shortly after 9/11. In some ways, it is worse. For example, it has become politically acceptable, even advantageous, for some politicians to make openly prejudicial statements about Islam and the Muslims. A one-time candidate and frontrunner for the 2012 Presidential election said on several occasions that he would not hire Muslims in his administration. Another frontrunner, known for his anti-Muslim statements, described Palestinians as an “invented” people and “terrorists.”

Corporate actions concerned with profits also provide a glimpse into the public psyche. Lowe’s, a national home improvement store, recently pulled its advertising for a reality show on American Muslims, because the founder and sole employee of a fringe organization faulted the show for portraying Muslims as ordinary Americans, not terrorists.

But the most disturbing and potentially far-reaching impact of 9/11 on Muslims are the new laws that have been adopted to counter terrorism, such as the USA Patriot Act and the recent National Defense Authorization Act, which, among other things, allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism and the transfer of US citizens to foreign authorities, a process known as rendition. So, what we have now is an intrusive and anti-democratic legal system in place that can be utilized against Muslims at any time. What would it take to trigger these measures? Many believe that another attack like 9/11 would do it.

In some ways, though, conditions for Muslims have improved since 9/11. People have returned to their daily lives and most do not live fearing an imminent terrorist attack. Many non-Muslims have defended Islam and the rights of Muslims. More people are learning about Islam, and Muslims across the country are speaking out, spreading the truth about our Deen. It is an exciting yet uncertain time for American Muslims. We face both challenges and opportunities. And we have learned over the past decade that we cannot sit idly by and hope for justice and sanity to prevail.

The Future: Beyond Those Three Digits

By Kiran Ansari, Chicago

What happened nearly eleven years ago was a tragedy in every sense of the word. Amid the grief and devastation felt by the American people, Muslims worldwide were also adversely affected in one way or the other. From visa issues and airport security to deportation, arrests and hate crimes, everyone has a story to tell.

However, it is time to move on. We cannot remain apologetic for something that we had nothing to do with. American Muslims, in fact, Muslims everywhere around the world need to take an active part in the community, so the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is blurred without any compromise in our beliefs. From volunteering at your child’s school and visiting a sick neighbour to running for public office, if we plan on living in the United States, we have to be involved. As the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, said: “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.”

If we think that we have it hard, reading a few pages of the Seerah will show us that our trials are nothing in comparison to what the early Muslims had to go through.

Some of us may be parents of U.S. citizens; others may send their kids off to college or vacation in America. So, whether we like it or not, America does play a role in the lives of millions across the globe. We cannot change the past, but it is in our power to mould the future. We cannot change the perceptions of every Islamophobe, but we can at least do our part in changing the way our co-workers, friends and neighbours think of Muslims.

“They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:134)

As Muslims in America and elsewhere, we cannot risk being lost in a melting pot, where everything simmers into one sauce. We have to be proud of our identity like ingredients in a salad. Even when ‘tossed’ in adversity, each and every one of us should work together while retaining our unique taste, texture and colour.

Hope After 9/11 – Globally

By Fiza Fatima Asar

London-based social media marketer for the non-profit sector

Every year, my friend and I put up flyers before Ramadan, inviting others in our college in California to join us for Iftar. We hoped and expected to be contacted by Muslim girls excited at the opportunity of breaking their fasts with other Muslims. Instead, who we found were perhaps far more special – a Japanese student who decided it was crucial for her to learn Arabic in order to understand the Quran better (she later transferred to Al-Azhar to follow her aspirations), and a young seventeen–year-old Mexican girl, who had been hiding her desire to convert to Islam from her parents for three years and wanted to keep her first fast with us.

At a time post 9/11, when Islam was under intense scrutiny throughout the world and especially in the West, it was heart-warming yet mind-boggling how it still attracted young women with such vigour. Adding to the paradox, as political Islamophobia radically increased in Europe, Islam continued to be the fastest growing religion in the same region. Racist nationalistic governments or political parties in countries like France, Norway and Switzerland initiated steps to remove Islamic “symbols”. Niqab was officially banned in France and they wanted to eliminate Halal food options in school canteens. But these steps across a range of countries have not been able to halt the interest towards Islam. In fact, it keeps bouncing back with more intensity. It was no less than a miracle that Daniel Streich, the man responsible for initiating the successful campaign for banning minarets in Switzerland, not only converted to Islam but vowed to make the biggest, most beautiful mosque in Europe to counter his past hatred for the religion.

However, the most interesting aspect of the conversions to Islam is that although the West accuses Islam of suppressing women’s liberties, a large proportion of those embracing Islam happen to be Western women. Camilla Leyland, a 32-year-old single mother embraced Islam in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’. She explains: “I know people will be surprised to hear the words ‘feminism’ and ‘Islam’ in the same breath, but, in fact, the teachings of the Quran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.”

A new study by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters suggests that the real figure of conversions to Islam in the UK alone could be as high as 100,000 with as many as 5000 conversions in one year alone. The same study suggested that the conversion rate was more in females, and that the average age of converts was twenty-seven. Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, admitted that this report was the best intellectual “guesstimate” but added that “either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years.”

Mughal attributed this increase in converts to the prominence of Islam in the public domain and the subsequent public curiosity it provoked. Batool Al-Toma, a 25-year-old Irish born convert to Islam, agrees: “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years. The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves.” Islam’s latest convert that surprised the UK was Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth. Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, recalls the day she decided to become a Muslim: “It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.”

Another celebrity convert, London-based Kristiane Backer, is a former MTV presenter. Kristiane says: “In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system. Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realized how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one God makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.”

According to Kevin Brice from ­Swansea University, who carried this research out for Faith Matters, the female converts to Islam, “seek spirituality, a higher meaning and tend to be deep thinkers.” The depth of their thought rings true to me. Yuki had told me that when her sister committed suicide for no apparent reason in Japan, it provoked her family to seek the meaning of life, which is what led her to Islam. Her parents were ecstatic that she had found an answer. My much younger Mexican friend bewildered me with her very deep paintings, depicting souls in trouble seeking peace and light in the midst of trouble.

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey (“From MTV to Mecca”), believes that women who were born Muslims became disillusioned and rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against but the culture. The treasures of the true Islam lead so many to embrace it, despite the steps taken to demoralize its followers and mar the faith. It’s a jewel that those born in Islam perhaps take for granted. The image that can never leave my mind is when my young friend in California took out a beautiful wooden box from her drawer to show me, where she cherishingly saved her most price-less possessions: “Her book on how to pray Salah, her silk scarf and her Quran.”

Read in the Name of Your Lord

Read in the Name of Your Lord

By Dr. Muhammad Abid Ali – Master Mariner, PhD in Education, and founding member of two educational research institutes

Why should our children read? What are the effects of reading on children? How do we choose the books for our children? These are some of the important questions to answer, before giving any book to kids. I believe reading may be one of the most significant activities in the personality and character development not only of our children but any educated human being.

With Destination in Mind

We have around seventy to eighty years of earthly sojourn before our eternal afterlife, which is determined by our performance in this life. Our performance depends on how we are prepared to perform by both the external interventions and self development. Talking of external interventions, the priority falls on the parents’ nurturing of their children. Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Every child is born on Al-Fitrah but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian.” (Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Tabarani – each with slight differences in wording)

Reading and the Process of Learning

If I am a Chinese, will anyone expect me to write like a Pakistani? Isn’t it an unreasonable expectation? Why does a Chinese write like a Chinese and a Pakistani like a Pakistani? This is because of the cultural overtone which is impossible to avoid. A western writing will depict western culture, underlying beliefs and core concepts of life. It is unavoidable, for we are very structured, thinking beings, who make statements around our thinking, or what we call paradigms. No human being can be separated from that. Reading is a strong learning intervention; as such, reading will definitely expose the reader to the culture, underlying beliefs and core concepts of the writer’s life. For a grown-up it may not be as influential as for a child, who is at a very active mode of learning.

Green and Brock have shown through experiments that children exposed to egalitarian reading material show more egalitarian responses and in spite of time passage, despite some reduction, the effect persists. They further elaborate that the narratives are persuasive and the morals rooted in them affect children’s worldview. Mar and Oatley observe that reading influences the process of learning. They claim that reading fiction has more effect, as the reader un-intentionally emulates the characters of the fiction. Hakemulder researched fifty-four reliable and valid experimental studies, in which fictional narratives indicated substantial effect on moral development, norms, values, and self-concepts. Mar and Oatley observe that change in personality is mediated by the emotions experienced while reading. Any intellectual exercise will affect a child’s learning, and reading is considered to be one of the powerful learning tools.

Reading affects the learning process and, consequently, the personality of a child. Perception, or our worldview, is utterly affected by learning processes. Any event or knowledge that casts an impression on the human mind affects this worldview; as such, it is susceptible to modification. For the first few years of life, the changes are major, and as the mental maps become defined, the modifications become more subtle and selective. Muslim scholar Acigenc claims that all human conduct is ultimately traceable to a worldview; worldview is the “framework within which our mind operates”. Ibn Khaldun often compares it to a dye that lasts until the cloth, to which it has been applied, is destroyed. Whereas Stephen Covey claims that we see the world not as it is, but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it. He further emphasizes that the lens, through which we see the world, shapes our interpretation of the world. And one of the major factors, which shape this lens, is an individual’s learning processes.

Furthermore, most Muslim and western intellectuals, such as Miskawyah, Al-Farabi, Ghazali, Ibn Khaldun, Frued, Adler, Millard, Dollard, Montessori, and John Holt, agree that the initial years of an individual are crucial for active personality development; which is the period of active worldview development. The learning interventions, which disrupt Islamic identity and values, will accordingly affect this personality development. Covey calls it the farmhouse rule: you always reap what you sow.

With the logic constructed above, if we take reading as a learning process, which significantly influences a child’s worldview and shapes the personality, it is imperative to keep the above farmhouse rule in mind. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. Any harmful or useless concepts from the Islamic perspective are garbage for us; for example, the concept of world without a creator or the denial of the afterlife. Concepts, which are the main features of the western sciences, reflect in their literature as well. The dependency on western literature is a self-inflicted tragedy in the Muslim societies. The learning interventions develop a mental map or perception, which is based on western thoughts, quite contrary to the Islamic worldview. As a result, we try to find our way through to the destination through the wrong map.

Effects of Learning on Beliefs and Actions

How does the learning and the worldview affect our beliefs and actions? Let’s look at a few examples.

My five-year-old daughter came with her mathematics book, covering a picture with her palm, and insisted that it was something, which couldn’t be shown to me. Upon my repeated requests, she exposed the picture of a lone lady in a bikini lying on a beach, depicting the solitary for the numeral one. She had not yet polluted her perception with the western concept of shame. For her, shame was still the map that we had created in theory. My son was taught from a British published history book in his O’Levels that Tipu Sultan was a rebel. Should we blame the British for this statement? From their perspective, he was; from our perspective – he was a hero.

A sister narrates: “I have noticed that my 9-year-old son is somewhat conditioned to happy endings, which once again can be the influence of children’s subculture and ‘happily ever after’ trends in cartoons. Just recently he read in his reading-aloud time a story in which the main character (11 years old boy) died at the end of the story, and felt very emotionally crushed by such an ending. He even said to me not to give to him such stories anymore, because he felt so very sad reading it. It gave us the chance to talk about the real life scenarios of sad events and how they differ from happy endings of most cartoons/fiction stories/fairytales.”

Another example is from a revert sister, who narrates how effectively the former Soviet Union could condition the students to the Soviet requirements:

“I was growing up in the communist system of the Soviet Union. The focus of government at the time was very much on the schoolchildren – to develop them into loyal citizens of the state. This was achieved by a heavy dose of ideology being pushed into young minds (which I was not aware of as a child, of course) through purposefully written school books infused with ideology and the requirement of Russian language and Russian literature courses in all schools, starting from the very first grade.”

Further, she elaborates about the results of this programming:

“Believe it or not, the system was extremely good and successfully produced the required results. I realized this, when after the break-up of the Soviet Union I went for studies to the US as part of a group of students from the former Soviet Union. We, the students, ourselves were amazed at how similar all of us were. Even though we came from different Soviet states, spoke different languages, had different local cultures, we still had the feeling like we’ve grown up in the same neighbourhood – we laughed about the same jokes, admired the same heroes and had the same sets of moral values.”

Other than the conditioning, the above examples indicate the effect of literature on a child’s mind. Every written matter has a message, and a child reader absorbs it more readily and completely than a grown-up, as the worldview of a young child is still raw and in a state of formation. The effects in childhood are long-lasting and more permanent, as compared to those of adults, who have already developed filters due to a more established worldview. For Maulana Maudoodi, exposing youth to an alien culture certainly results in the loosening of Islamic morals and loss of Islamic identity.

A revert sister, reflecting on the effects of reading English books by children, cautions: “…the foreign language and cultural baggage that comes along with it will leave lasting marks on the personality of the child and the way he/she views the world. This aspect is especially important for us, as parents of Muslims, to understand.”

Eighty years ago, another famous revert, Allama Muhammad Asad, sternly warned the Islamic world: “Islam and Western civilisation, being built on diametrically opposed conceptions of life, are not compatible in spirit. This being so, how could we expect that the education of Muslim youth on Western lines, an education based entirely on Western cultural experiences and values, could remain free from anti-Islamic influences?”

The tragedy the contemporary Muslim societies are inflicted with is the uncritical embracing of the Western educational interventions and learning processes. Long ago, Sayyid Qutb also cautioned us that when we indiscriminately use Western educational interventions, we undoubtedly borrow also a general scheme of philosophy and a mode of thought that underlies these interventions, “whether we like it or not”.

As I write this article, I observe my 14-months-old granddaughter and am so awed at the intelligence, which Allah (swt) has bestowed every child with. She has a different approach in behaving with each member of her close and extended family. Before me, she will avoid putting anything in her mouth, she will behave with more tenderness with my mother and has an entirely different behavior with my sister, whom she is extremely fond of. She cannot speak yet but understands our verbal conversation with her and follows our instructions. To think that at another two or three years, she will be less intelligent to absorb the message of any literature that we read to her seems to me extremely absurd.

We have to be very careful in exposing our children to any concepts alien to Islam. For certainly these will leave their impressions, no matter how much we try to control it. It is equal to developing an intimacy with the culture and approach of the presenters. The Quran warns us: “O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you.” (Al-Imran, 3:118)

When we develop deep intimacy with alien thoughts and philosophy, we develop a cognitive structure based on their logic pedestal. As a result, we become alien to the Quran and Islam itself. “They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.” (Al-A’raf, 7:179)

Iqbal quite vehemently advises us that from an educational perspective to use the literature that helps in creating higher ideals and motivates the nation towards acquiring those ideals. On the other hand, Iqbal also warns that this desirous nature of man can be dampened by wrong interventions, literature being an important factor.

I will conclude this article with a reflective insight and prudent advice from a revert sister:

“English was introduced to me at grade four level; however, it has not prevented me or any of my friends from achieving proficiency in it, if that’s what we wanted. No European non-English speaking country uses English as the medium in their classrooms – elementary level children are taught in their native languages. The fear of not becoming good enough in English, unless you start it at the age of 2.5 years and have it as your language of instruction at school, is totally baseless. If you learn how to express yourself well in your native language, you can later do the same in any foreign language you pick up. The foreign language (English in this case) does not magically give the child the skills of self-expression – it’s the child’s overall grooming and intellectual capabilities, which will make him/her good at using the foreign language.

Allah (swt) knows best.

Ways to Maximize Halal Rizq

Concept of a plant and a lot of golden coins isolated on white background

Inspired by a book titled “15 Ways to Increase Your Earnings from the Quran and Sunnah” by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi.

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi is the Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib Institute. He is in the final stages of completing his PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University. He is also the author of multiple books on Islam.

Compiled for Hiba by Unaiza Ahsan

It is said that a righteous man once left his town in search for Rizq-e-Halal. During his journey, he came upon a strange sight. A crippled sparrow (born without wings) was lying somewhere, and another sparrow was bringing it seeds and grains to eat. When he witnessed this, he immediately realized that if Allah (swt) could provide for this crippled sparrow, He could certainly provide sustenance for him, and, hence, he returned to his town. After returning, he met his teacher, who asked him why he had come back so early. The man narrated his observation and the conclusion he had drawn from it. The teacher smiled and said: “You have learned only half the lesson. Why did you not consider yourself to be akin to the sparrow who was providing food to the crippled sparrow? You could consider yourself as someone who can go out to earn sustenance, and then Allah (swt) will provide not just for you, but for others too – through you.”

People often complain: “Oh, I have lately suffered great financial loss, and it keeps getting worse. I think somebody has inflicted me with the evil eye, or I have been a victim of magic.”

Sounds familiar? There is no end to the ways and means that people employ in order to ‘drive away’ the ‘evil forces’ conspiring against them and hindering their earning. They seem to forget that the source of Rizq, or sustenance, is solely Allah (swt) and nobody else. Consequently, they become guilty of not only attributing their source of earning to someone other than Allah (swt), but also of harbouring suspicion against their own family members or acquaintances. It is high time we recognize the real source of Rizq – Allah (swt) – who not only provides it, but has also given a comprehensive set of rules on how to increase it.

Allah (swt) says: “And if Allah were to enlarge the provision for His slaves, they would surely rebel in the earth, but He sends down by measure as He wills. Verily! He is in respect of His slaves, the Well-Aware, the All-Seer (of things that benefit them).” (Ash-Shura 42:27)

It is absolutely clear from the above verse that if Allah (swt) sent maximum provisions to all, they would not learn the value of hard work, honesty and diligence. His provisions, therefore, come in doses; each dose is carefully ladled out to the slave, who proves that the previous dose only increased his/her faith and piety. Our effort towards our Deen proves to Allah (swt) that we are ready for more Rizq. Unfortunately, we expect the opposite. We do very little in the path of the Deen and expect the skies to shower wealth upon us. Logically, this is not going to happen – not for the Mumins, at least.

In Islam, working with one’s own hands is considered to be the best source of earning income. The Prophet (sa) said: “No one has ever eaten any food that is better than eating what his hands have earned. And indeed Dawood, the Prophet of Allah, would eat from the earnings of his hands.” (Bukhari)

Ways to Increase Halal Rizq

1) Offering and Inviting to Salah

In the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) says: “And enjoin as-Salah (the prayer) on your family, and be patient in offering them (i.e. the Salah). We ask not of you a provision (i.e. to give Us something: money, etc.); We provide for you. And the good end (i.e. Paradise) is for the Muttaqun (pious).” (Ta-Ha 20:132)

This shows that a Salah that is just an exercise of the limbs is not going to increase our Rizq. The effort that goes into that Salah, the feeling with which we recite the verses of Allah (swt), and the enthusiasm with which we call our families, friends and acquaintances towards it contribute towards Allah’s (swt) pleasure, adding Barakah in our provisions. However, it is not recommended to offer Salah only to obtain an increase in provisions.

2) Seeking Allah’s (swt) Forgiveness (Istighfar)

Allah (swt) reveals that Prophet Nuh (as) told his people to seek forgiveness from Allah (swt) in the following words: “I said (to them): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance; and give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.’” (Nuh 71:10-12)

Seeking forgiveness from Allah (swt) has to be done abundantly every day. This must be done because not a day passes, in which we haven’t consciously or unconsciously sinned before Allah (swt). Hence, this is another means of increasing one’s provisions.

3) Spending in the path of Allah (swt)

Charity or wealth/provisions spent on the needy are also a way through which one’s wealth can increase, if Allah (swt) wills. Apparently, spending money results in a decrease in wealth, but Allah (swt) defines it as a confirmed increase in your earnings. It is against Allah’s Sunnah to take favours from the believers. Every penny spent in His way is returned in multiple folds through various means to the Mumins. The fact is that Allah (swt) does not need our money. He only wants to grant more to His slaves; hence, He trains them to sacrifice what they love the most, which is generally wealth and other materialistic essentials.

4) Migration (Hijrah) for the Sake of Allah (swt)

People who migrate today are mostly looking for better work or education opportunities. Hijrah is completely different. If you leave your homes, cities, or countries in the search for a better Islamic lifestyle for your children and families, that, Insha’Allah, will be counted as ‘migration for the sake of Allah (swt)’ and will be rewarded with an increase in provision. On face value, it seems as if migrating from one country to another is going to eat up the savings, and, hence, result in a decrease in wealth. But Allah (swt) promises that this kind of migration is going to result in an increase in provisions.

The Holy Quran says: “And those who believed, and emigrated and strove hard in the Cause of Allah (Al-Jihad), as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid; these are the believers in truth, for them is forgiveness and Rizqun Karim(a generous provision i.e. Paradise).” (Al-Anfal 8:74)

5) Taqwah

The Holy Quran says: “…And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine…” (At-Talaq 65:2-3). We usually believe we know exactly where our savings and salaries are coming from. Actually, we don’t. Once we don’t have a steady source of income, there is still Allah (swt), the Ar-Razzaq, Who can provide us with abundant provisions, if He (swt) so wills. The key is complete consciousness and fear of Allah (swt) – that is enough to keep us wary of even insignificant sins and the greater evil. This would guarantee provisions from Allah (swt) from sources we could never have comprehended.

6) Trusting Allah (Tawakkal)

Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran: “And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.” (At-Talaq 65:3)

The true meaning of sincerely trusting Allah (swt) is having a firm conviction that whatever comes to us, whether provisions or any other circumstances, is from Allah (swt). Furthermore, Tawakkal means to make sincere effort and leave the results to Allah (swt), relying on Him to make things easy for us and to work things out. If a believer manages to have this kind of trust in Allah (swt), He guarantees that He will make a way out for him from any difficulty, including financial hard times.

7) Ibadah

Abu Hurairah (rta) stated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah says: ‘O son of Adam! Take time out to constantly worship me; I will fill your chest with richness and remove your poverty. And if you do not do so, I will make your hands filled with occupation, and will not remove your poverty.’” (At-Tirmidhi) This means to submit our lifestyle, thoughts, beliefs and actions round the clock to the Creator (swt). There is no division of sacred and secular lines as is in the popular culture today.

8) Treating Family/Relatives Well (Silah-Rehmi)

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever is pleased with the fact that his Rizq is increased and his life-span is extended, let him establish the ties of kinship.” (Bukhari) This is one of the easier ways to have Barakah and blessings in our provisions. All we have to do (easier said than done) is to smile back at any barbed comment, meet and greet any sour face, cheerfully wave away any backbiter’s tale, give affordable gifts to extended family members, and look after or visit an ailing or financially destitute relative, etc.

9) Being Grateful to Allah (swt)

The Holy Quran says: “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.’” (Ibrahim 14:7)

If we analyze our lives, there is so much for which we should be grateful: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the money we spend, etc. We not only have access to basic necessities of life, but we also manage to indulge in luxuries and designer brands every now and then. In His infinite mercy, Allah (swt) doesn’t prohibit us from enjoying His provisions; all we need to do is add Barakah in it by being constantly grateful to Him.

10) Reciting Surah Waqiah

The Prophet (sa) said: “Surah Al-Waqiah is the Surah of wealth, so recite it and teach it to your children.” (Ibn Asakir) Thus, regular recitation of this Surah and teaching it to our children will surely benefit us, not only spiritually but also physically – resulting in Barakah in our Rizq. However, recitation should be followed by deep reflection on the verses and adhering to its commands for a positive change in one’s character.

11) Hajj and Umrah Multiple Times

It has been reported by Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta) that the Prophet of Allah (sa) said: “Follow up between Hajj and Umrah (continuously repeat Hajj and Umrah), because they both eliminate poverty and sins just like a furnace eliminates the dirty impurities of iron, gold and silver. And an accepted Hajj has no reward less than paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi) Wealthy Mumins can finance others (relatives, etc.) to fulfill this obligation and reap equal rewards, Insha’Allah.

12) Marriage

“And marry those among you who are single (i.e. a man who has no wife and the woman who has no husband) and (also marry) the Salihun (pious, fit and capable ones) of your (male) slaves and maid-servants (female slaves). If they are poor, Allah will enrich them out of His Bounty. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knowing (about the state of the people).” (An-Nur 24:32) A pious wife can turn around any deficit budget with her prayers and wisdom. Also, when a Mumin initiates a family, Allah (swt) arranges for an increase in his Rizq for the new arrival.

13) Supporting Students of Islamic Knowledge

Anas Ibn Malik (rta) said: “Two brothers (lived) during the time of the Prophet (sa). One of them would come to Prophet (sa), whereas the other one would seek his sustenance (by working). So, the one who used to seek his sustenance complained to the Prophet (sa) about his brother. The Prophet (sa) replied: ‘It is possible that you are provided your Rizq because of him.’” (At-Tirmidhi)

14) Showing Kindness to the Poor

The Prophet (saw) said: “The only reason that you are aided in victory (against your enemies) and provided with sustenance is due to your weak.” (Bukhari) Allah (swt) has promised the destitute that they will enter Paradise before the rich ones; thus, we can imagine Allah’s love for their forbearance in the face of abject poverty.

15) Being Honest in Dealings

The Prophet (sa) said: “The two parties of a transaction have the right (to annul the contract), as long as they don’t separate (from each other). So, if they are truthful (to one another), and honest in explaining (the defects of an item), they will be blessed in their transaction. But, if they lie and hide (the defects of an item), the blessings of their transaction will be destroyed.” (Muslim)

These are just some of the ways one can hope to have his/her provisions increased by Allah (swt). The important thing to remember is that our intention behind every good deed should never be on the lines of financial reward. The reward will, Insha’Allah, come from Allah (swt). The intention should always be to please our Creator first and hope for the infinite mercy of Allah (swt) to pull us out of any trouble whatsoever – financial or otherwise. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to practice these ways and invite our family members to act on them, too. Ameen.

Soul-searching!

If you are a shop owner / business owner and your business is really down, ask yourself the following questions:

1)      Did I take or give any interest-based loans when I was starting my business?

2)      Did I unfairly usurp anyone’s property when constructing my office premises?

3)      Did I offer any bribes to speed up my paper work?

4)      How is my attitude towards my employees?

5)      Do I pay my employees on time?

6)      Do I ensure my employees are paid overtime and bonuses?

7)      Have I installed UPS/generator for my employees so that their productivity is not affected by power outages?

8)      Do I ensure my shop’s / business’ products are given for free to those who cannot afford them?

9)      Do I regularly give charity out of my income?

Learning to Lead

Learning to Lead

In the Light of the Quran and the Sunnah

By Binte Aqueel, Hina Jamal, J. Samia Mair and Sadaf Farooqi

While Muslims often complain about having a crisis of leadership, paradoxically, there seems to be no dearth of self-proclaimed leaders – people, who think they have everything required to lead the community and are ready to fight for it.

Today, countries, groups, organisations and Masajid have become mired in an ugly struggle for power. Often, a person stands up to fill an essential leadership void in the community, considering himself/herself best fit for the role. Campaigning, electioneering and lobbying are often followed by dirty politics, mudslinging and rivalry. Soon, all those involved in the noble bid to provide a good leadership seem to have lost their goal somewhere in the fight for power. All that matters now is their or their party’s winning at any cost.

Sounds familiar? Sadly, this is the dilemma many countries and organisations face. The quest for good leadership often brings out greed and lust for power not only in country politics but also in the college and work life groups. Everyone wants a leadership position, and they are prepared to go to any lengths to acquire it.

Seeking Leadership

Interestingly, Islam discourages the practice of seeking leadership. In Islam, leadership is an Amanah (trust) and a huge responsibility. The early Muslims used to cry, when they were given a position of authority, out of fear of not being able to discharge it properly.

The Prophet (sa) is reported to have said that anyone, who seeks leadership, is not fit to assume it. Once, two men entered upon the Prophet (sa). One of them said: “O, Allah’s Apostle! Appoint me as governor,” and so did the second. The Prophet (sa) said: “We do not assign the authority of ruling to those who ask for it, nor to those who are keen to have it.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “You people will be keen to have the authority of ruling, which will be a thing of regret for you on the Day of Resurrection.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) advised Abdur Rahman Ibn Samurah (rta): “Do not seek to be a ruler, for if you are given authority on your demand, you will be held responsible for it, but if you are given it without asking for it, then you will be helped (by Allah) in it. If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then do what is better and make expiation for your oath.” (Bukhari)

This is not to say, however, that taking up a leadership role is wrong or discouraged. Indeed, the Prophet (sa) encouraged his followers to take up a responsibility, when it was entrusted to them. He said: “Whoever is given responsibility of some matter of the Muslims but withdraws himself, while they are in dire need and poverty, Allah will withdraw Himself from him, while he is in dire need and poverty on the Day of Requital.” (Abu Dawood)

It is discouraged to seek a leadership position out of greed and desire for power. Actions are based on intentions, and we must not doubt anyone’s intentions.

Empowerment and Delegation

Life is an ongoing cycle of events, one of which is that all leaders are eventually replaced. For such transitions to be as smooth as possible, a leader should prepare his subordinates to be able to efficiently take on leadership roles in the future, which bring added responsibilities, require the ability to make critical decisions, and need excellent interpersonal skills to win over hearts of people.

Some leaders tend to follow autocratic and dictatorial leadership styles, thinking that these cast greater awe over a workforce and thus attain better performance.

Clearly, this methodology is in clear contradiction to the style of leadership of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who was an exemplary leader. He was humble, mild-mannered, friendly, approachable and easy to talk to. Moreover, he empowered his close companions to be capable enough to carry on his mission after his demise.

I would like to elaborate on his style of ‘Empowerment and Delegation’ in the light of Ahadeeth regarding the appointment of Muadh Bin Jabal (rta) as the governor of Yemen.

Ibn Abbas has narrated: “The Prophet sent Muadh (rta) to Yemen and said: ‘Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I am Allah’s Apostle, and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in twenty-four hours), and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to their poor.’” (Bukhari)

According to another narration: “When Allah’s Messenger (sa) sent Muadh to Yemen, he went out with him whilst Muadh (rta) rode his riding beast and Allah’s Messenger walked beside him giving instructions. When he finished, he said: ‘Perhaps, Muadh, you may not meet me after this year, but perhaps, you may pass this Masjid of mine and my grave.’ Muadh wept from grief over the departure of Allah’s Messenger. The Prophet then turned facing Madinah and said: ‘Those nearest to me are the pious, whoever they are and whenever they are.’” (Mishkat)

These Ahadeeth make the following points clear:

  1. When a delegation is going off on a long journey, the leader should personally see them off.
  2. The leader should give simple, concise and role-related instructions to the delegate during their final meeting, as reminders of what work lies ahead for the delegate and its importance.
  3. The leader is humble, i.e., he does not mind walking or standing at a lower level than his delegate.
  4. The leader must be honest, when expressing his emotions to his subordinate.
  5. The leader should console his subordinate, when the latter is expressing grief.
  6. There should be love and compassion between a leader and his subordinates, especially in careers related to Dawah and religious instruction.

We can see how perfectly our Prophet (sa) combined the delegation of a leadership role to a subordinate with human compassion, empowering a future leader while simultaneously expressing his love and humility as a leader. He was, perhaps, the only man in history, who brought about the greatest of change in mankind in the shortest time period.

Best Religious Leaders – Close to People

Have you ever tried to contact a qualified, respected Islamic scholar or religious authority figure for some personal issue? These scholars have busy schedules of delivering talks and lectures in institutions and homes, travelling abroad often for conferences and, hence, are often hard to reach. When the common man endeavours to get in touch with them, more often than not, it is an uphill task involving numerous phone calls and/or unanswered emails. Private counsel with them is elusive – no more than a fleeting Salam or handshake following their Dars, before they hurriedly whiz off to their next engagement.

We must remember that a religious leader is a human being just like us. He or she needs time to rest, relax, leisurely hang out with family, sleep, attend to personal errands, read, study, respond to correspondence, plan itineraries and meet relatives. If they were to give private counsel to anyone, who wants to talk to them at any time during the day, they would be constantly pre-empted. Moreover, idleness and over-socialization is common in our culture. People tend to linger to chat about useless topics long after having discussed the required issue. If a religious leader were to give in to every lay-person’s demands on their time, it would not be long before they would not be able to continue their Dawah work.

It is, therefore, all about maintaining a critical balance between work and human compassion. Could it be that religious organizations’ leaders today have allowed themselves to become so overburdened with commitments, that they do not have time for even genuine requests for a sympathetic ear? Is this not against the Sunnah of our Prophet (sa)?

I find this food for thought. Why do our leaders move around with entourages and employ assistants for trivial personal tasks such as ironing clothes, whereas the best leaders of our Ummah, who had to juggle many more balls in the air, such as planning battle strategies, meeting foreign dignitaries and catering to multiple spouses/children, never hired personal assistants?

The proof of the Sahabas’ humility is the way they’d roam the streets at night alone, in their positions as Ameer-ul-Mumineen, to see what was going on at ground level. Prophet Muhammad (sa) never sat at a level higher than his company, except to ascend the pulpit for a sermon. His clothes made him indistinguishable from his companions to a newcomer, who set eyes on him for the first time.

Is this not something worth pondering over?

Here are a few tips that might restore the Sunnah of compassion for laymen for our leaders:

  1. Gain knowledge of the Prophet’s (sa) life and how he handled situations.
  2. Cut down on commitments, so that you have a few days a week with nothing on the agenda.
  3. Spend time with your family – every day.
  4. Play and converse with children randomly.

 

Our Prophet (sa) and those of his companions, who later became leaders, were always accessible to the common man, even poor old women or slaves, who stopped them in their tracks with personal complains. Let us endeavour to emulate their example, when and if we ever occupy a leadership role in our lives, because they were the best of our Ummah.

Leaders in the Business World

The unfortunate situation arising in the United States – and I suspect in other non-Muslim populated countries as well – is that when given the choice between conducting a transaction with a business run by a Muslim and a business run by a non-Muslim, many Muslims (and others) choose the non-Muslim business. And even when there may not be a choice – such as a Halal food store – it is only out of necessity that Muslims frequent it. Why are Muslim-run businesses not always the first choice? In one word-leadership.

A good leader runs a business that has courteous, hard working employees, quality products and services and satisfied customers. The leader sets the tone for those underneath him or her. If the leader is hardworking, ethical and fair and expects the same from the employees, the business will have a good reputation. If the leader does not demonstrate these qualities, or if the leader does have them, but does not require the same of employees, the business will not.

There is no excuse for a Muslim not to be a good leader in business. The Quran and Sunnah give ample guidance on what constitutes a good leader. And unlike many other systems of belief, Islam sets forth what is ethical, responsible and Islamically acceptable in the business context. For example, a multitude of Ahadeeth provides guidance on this issue, including these few:

“The merchants will be raised up on the day of resurrection as evildoers, except those who fear God, are honest and speak the truth.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Darimi and Baihaqi)

“God show mercy to a man, who is kindly when he sells, when he buys and when he makes a claim.” (Bukhari)

“If anyone sells a defective article without drawing attention to it, he will remain under God’s anger.” (Ibn Majah)

“If anyone keeps goods till the price rises, he is a sinner.” (Muslim)

More generally, as Muslims we are expected to exhibit excellence in everything we do -“Allah has made excellence obligatory for everything.” (Muslim) Our businesses should set forth the paradigm of business practices. Business schools should teach case studies on Muslim-run businesses to their students. Our business leaders should be highly sought after for advice. Indeed, Allah (swt) tells us that we set the example for others: “Thus, We have made you a just nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger be a witness over you.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:143)

The sad reality is that many of us, in the business context and elsewhere, do not rise near to the level of conduct that Allah (swt) expects from us. Even worse, many of us do not even try. And by not doing so, we miss a great opportunity for Dawah – something that is incumbent upon all of us.

Despite some popular misconceptions, Islam was spread by Muslims, who followed the Sunnah and the guidance of Allah (swt) – those, who showed what it truly means to be human. Their exemplary and just conduct as merchants in the market-place set forth a brilliant example for the non-Muslims of the time. In a world so preoccupied with international commerce and making money, business affords us an incredible opportunity not only to better ourselves but to pass the Message onto others.

May Allah (swt) guide the Muslim community and its leaders towards what is right, Ameen.

Youth: Future of the Ummah

cover - youth - Jul 11

Compiled by Tooba Mumtaz

It definitely goes without saying that the Muslim youth of today will be the leaders of the Ummah tomorrow. This is a role for which they have to be formally groomed, by their families, educational institutes, and the society at large. Today, the sad reality is that the youth are “lost” – they lack direction and they definitely are in dire need of role models to emulate and leaders to follow. So, what can be done to improve the situation and channel the youth towards a positive future?

Hiba interviewed a few prominent personalities, who have worked with the youth in different fields. These individuals included:

1)      Salman Asif Siddiqui: Director, Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC), Educationist and Parent Counsellor.

2)      Amina Murad: Administrator, Star Links School and author of award-winning Flowers of Islam publications.

3)      Shujja-uddin Shaikh: Academic Director, Quran Academy.

4)      Saulat Pervez: teacher at Generations’ School, content researcher, and writer.

5)      Sumaira Dada: ex-teacher and writer.

The aforementioned individuals gave their valued input on three aspects:

Top three success strategies for working with the youth in order to motivate them to be the leaders of tomorrow

Salman Asif Siddiqui

1)      Respect the youth and nourish their confidence, self esteem and trust.

2)      Educate them about the culturally-rich history of Muslim leaders who were pioneers of the Islamic history/society. Tell them their success stories in the different fields of life.

3)      Thirdly, there should broaden their vision and keep the global perspective of humanity in mind, while being loyal to their regional identities. We want to produce world leaders.

Amina Murad

Act upon what you say

The youth need good contemporary role models to emulate. Be one of them: a sound practicing Muslim and follower of the Prophet (sa). Be a leader at home and in the community.

Communicate vision

Telling is not communication. Be visionary and give them a vision. Be their friend and show them ways of achieving their goal, despite the setbacks. Provide positive feedback to motivate them instead of continuous criticism. Help them focus by removing time wasters that sap their energy. Youth should be taught to find their special talent, develop it, and channelize their energy in that direction.

Involve them and channelize their energy

Muslim youth have fewer opportunities to channelize their energies. Authentic work experience and involvement in schools, colleges and family and community services will channelize their energies. Positive involvement will help them unleash their potential and help them gain confidence to work towards their vision. Their blurred vision of a glamorous world will be shattered and the harsh realities will excite them to share their resources with others. Leadership will thus follow.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

First of all, we should clearly define success. It is crystal clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the ultimate success is that of the hereafter. As such, I propose the following strategies:

  1. Try to inculcate real faith (through company of pious people and teachings of Quran and Sunnah), as faith is the fundamental motivating force for good deeds.
  2. Get authentic knowledge of what is Halal and what is Haram (through the teachings of Quran and Sunnah); we cannot move forward towards success unless we know the right path ourselves.
  3. Keep in view the life of the Prophet (sa) – according to the Quran, his role model is the best, followed by the Companions of the Prophet (sa).

Saulat Pervez

  1. Keep the communication lines open — instead of micromanaging the youth, have a trust relationship where they can come to you to discuss any problem.
  2. Educate them not only in the traditional intellectual subjects, but also in emotional, mental, and social areas so that not only are their SAT scores or O Level results high, they can also learn to empathize, to exercise self-control, and be civic-minded.
  3. Raise them to not only be good Muslims – but to be good humans and understand that the only way you can be a good Muslim, is to be a good human first and foremost.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Trust them: Our youth is constantly kept under check via a strategy of do’s and don’ts till they rebel. We need to realize that after giving them a guideline on the do’s and don’ts that Allah (swt) has laid down for us; we need to trust them to follow that guideline.
  2. Convey the message that the Muslim heroes of yesterday are as relevant for us today as they were then: The Umar and Uthman (rta) of the golden Islamic age are not just paragraphs in books on Islamic history; rather they have been real people who led a balanced life in this world. We need to make our youth realise this so that they stop looking for heroes in un-Islamic cultures.
  3. Channelize their talent in a way that Allah (swt) approves of. We need to guide them to the right kind of friends who will support them in their endeavour.

What are the top three issues facing the youth of today and how do you suggest they deal with them?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

In Pakistan, specifically, the identity crisis is the main issue which has developed in our youth. They have lost confidence in being recognized as Pakistanis and as Muslims. The only option is ‘escape’ from their country and religion. To change this mentality, we need to develop institutions confidence is restored in one’s identity.

Another issue is lack of emotional confidence; the youth has no personal opinion. It’s so easy for them to be moulded by others and react. To deal with it, the thought process needs a radical shift from extremism to a balanced state of mentality. Finally, the youth of the Ummah need to develop native language skills.

Amina Murad

Communication revolution

We need to educate the youth about the communication revolution and have one-to-one conversation as parents and teachers. Without any guidance, technology has become a giant monster; information is equated with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Communication revolution can revolutionize the fate of the Ummah if our adults and youth are educated to use it for acquisition of knowledge and dawah purposes.

Freedom from religion

In today’s secular environment, freedom of expression is an attempt to have freedom from religion. The youth are confused. Constant hammering of slogans of freedom to choose their lifestyle is redefining their conceptual framework. The youth need to develop love and relationship with Allah (swt) and Muhammad (sa) as role models with a sound knowledge base.

Bad companionship

All issues are linked with bad companionship; be it media or society. One’s relationship with the Qur’an and its lessons should be stronger than the relation with Facebook and its communities. Without guidance, the blitz of technology leads to self-love and narcissism: the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Sponsoring events that allow the youth to meet like-minded friends, interact with multi-generational society and provide Halal fun and entertainment and remember Allah (swt) is a practical way to deviate them from Haram fun all around.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Lack of direction and supervision

For this, pious people (practicing Muslims) should be contacted who are sincere and willing to help.

Domination of western thoughts and isms

For this, our past history, where we were the leaders, should be revisited through books as well as a study of Muslim thinkers and philosophers, who contributed to human thoughts and civilization.

Limited concept of Deen

For this, they should go back to the original sources of Islamic knowledge (the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (swt)). Furthermore, it should be noted that unless we have a comprehensive concept of Deen, the non-issues would remain the issues and sectarianism will prevail in the society.

Saulat Pervez

Frustration with family and other authoritative figures in their lives

Be patient and understand that no person is truly one-dimensional. If you feel someone is always finding fault in you, stay cool and don’t label him/her. Try to talk to them logically and explain to them your side of the story; be ready to listen to their side, too. Reach a solution together.

Over-reliance on friends

Your friends are important, but do understand that just because they are ready to embrace you just the way you are, with no demands whatsoever, doesn’t mean that it’s always a good thing. Having someone older, wiser and more experienced as a guide post, who can distill all those “brilliant” ideas and plans, is truly essential in this age. Ideally, this person should be a parent.

Too plugged

I know it’s cool to log into your Facebook account on your Iphones and have wires sticking out of your ears all the time, but too often, we are exchanging real, purposeful experiences for virtual, meaningless encounters. Find a healthy balance between staying connected with those who really matter, listening to content which is truly inspiring and having social experiences which really challenge you to learn to live with people despite the differences.

Sumaira Dada

1)      Lack of heroes to look up to

2)      A strong influence of largely un-Islamic culture.

3)      Lack of opportunities to release energy and utilize talents.

What behavioural characteristics do the youth need to instill during the primary stages?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

The youth needs to realize the purpose of their life which has been defined by the Quran and Sunnah. They should have positive goals in their lives. Our youth is mainly inspired by Western ideals and beliefs. The west promotes ‘emotional intelligence’ which is being clever, however, the Islamic paradigm is ‘Tazkiya-e-Nafs’. The West works on cost-benefit analysis, whereas Islam teaches us ‘emotional well-being’. To teach these differences, parents must be trained to act as mentors on the divine principle of ‘falah’.

Amina Murad

Nurture their real nature

An Islamic personality should be our Fitrah. In the polluted environment, our Fitrah is suppressed and little priority is given to the remembrance of Allah (swt). The most beautiful ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) should be made the benchmark for all the characteristics taught.

Time management

Value of time means valuing life and self. Parents and teachers should help young children limit every activity and realize that it’s Satan who makes us lose track of our goals and waste our life. Set a routine and discipline from a very early age. From Salah to sports, from giving time to parents to people around them, all activities should nurture individuality which makes each human being a very independent and special entity in this world.

Creative thinking

With unlimited opportunities, creative thinking is a skill that needs to be developed to help our kids reach the level of excellence in all pursuits. We should remember our kids are and will be living in a very different world than ours. Unless we help them come up with challenging ideas, they will be unable to challenge the world of Kufr around them and become part of it. Leadership demands Muslims to be creative to solve the problems of humanity.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Sense of responsibility

We should remember the purpose of life and the real life ahead.

Live for others

People live for themselves but we, being the Ummati of the Prophet (sa) have to serve others.

Trust in Allah

No matter how many difficulties we face, we should have faith that nothing is impossible for Allah the Almighty.

Saulat Pervez

Foremost, we need to teach our children to think. At school and at home, we must give them practice in developing their thinking skills, so that they grow to be reflective individuals, just as the Qur’an encourages.

Secondly, we need to instill an awareness of their relationship with Allah (swt) from an early age. They need to understand that Allah (swt) loves us and He is Merciful, but He has also made us responsible for our own deeds and we will be held accountable for them.

This brings me to the third point: they need to be cognizant of the fact that “worship” is not only pure Ibadah such as Salah, Sawm, Hajj, Sadaqah, etc. Along with my prayer and my fasting, I must be honest in my dealings with people (even if they are parents and teachers). Too often, we pray, yet we cheat; we recite the Qur’an, yet we backbite; we give charity, yet we spread rumours without verification. Unfortunately, kids learn this dichotomy from adults.
All three reinforce each other towards a common goal: awareness that our life has a purpose and before it ends, we had better make ample preparation for the life which is eternal.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Positive thinking
  3. Realism

Conclusion

It is heartening to note that every individual, who is currently working with the youth, is very clear about their problems and solutions. One can only hope that these problems are addressed and these solutions are implemented, in order to ensure that the youth turn out to be the bright future of our Ummah.

An Important Hadith

Recorded by Imam Muslim: Amir Ibn Sharahil Shabi Shab Hamdan reported that he asked Fatimah Bint Qais: “Narrate to me a hadith which you had heard directly from Allah’s Messenger (sa) and there is no extra link in between them.” She said: “Very well, if you like, I am prepared to do that…when my period of waiting was over…I set out towards the mosque and observed prayer along with Allah’s Messenger (sa)…When Allah’s Messenger (sa) had finished his prayer, he sat on the pulpit smiling and said: ‘Every worshipper should keep sitting at his place.’ He then said: ‘Do you know why I had asked you to assemble?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said: By Allah. I have not made you assemble for exhortation or for a warning. I have detained you here for Tamim ad-Dari, a Christian, who came and accepted Islam, told me something which agrees with what I was telling you about the Dajjal. He narrated to me that he had sailed in a ship along with thirty men of Bani Lakhm and Bani Judham and had been tossed by waves in the ocean for a month. Then these (waves) took them (near) the land within the ocean (island) at the time of sunset. They sat in a small side-boat and entered that Island. There was a beast with long thick hair (and because of these) they could not distinguish his face from his back. They said: ‘Woe to you, who can you be?’ Thereupon it said: ‘I am Al-Jassasa.’ They said: ‘What is Al-Jassasa?’ And it said: ‘O people, go to this person in the monastery as he is very much eager to know about you.’ He (the narrator) said: ‘When it named a person for us, we were afraid of it lest it should be a Devil. Then we hurriedly went on till we came to that monastery and found a well-built person there with his hands tied to his neck and having iron shackles between his two legs up to the ankles.’ We said: ‘Woe be upon you, who are you?’ And he said: ‘You would soon come to know about me, but tell me who are you?’ We said: ‘We are people from Arabia and we embarked upon a boat but the sea-waves had been driving us for one month and they brought as near this island. We got into the side-boats and entered this island; here a beast met us…And it said: ‘You go to this very person in the monastery for he is eagerly waiting for you to know about you. So we came to you in hot haste fearing that you might be the devil.’ He (that chained person) said: ‘Tell me about the date-palm trees of Baisan.’ We said: ‘About what aspect of theirs do you seek information?’ He said: ‘I ask you whether these trees bear fruit or not.’ We said: ‘Yes.’ Thereupon, he said: ‘I think these would not bear fruits.’ He said: ‘Inform me about the lake of Tabariyya?’ We said: ‘Which aspect of it do you want to know?’ He said: ‘Is there water in it?’ They said: ‘There is abundance of water in it.’ Thereupon, he said: ‘I think it would soon become dry.’ He again said: ‘Inform me about the spring of Zughar.’ They said: ‘Which aspect of it you want to know?’ He (the chained person) said: ‘Is there water in it and does it irrigate (the land)?’ We said to him: ‘Yes, there is abundance of water in it and the inhabitants (of Madina) irrigate (land) with the help of it.’ He said: ‘Inform me about the unlettered Prophet; what has he done?’ We said: ‘He has come out from Makkah and has settled In Yathrib (Madina).’ He said: ‘Do the Arabs fight against him?’ We said: ‘Yes.’ He said: ‘How did he deal with him?’ We informed him that he had overcome those in his neighbourhood and they had submitted themselves before him. Thereupon, he said to us: ‘Had it actually happened?’ We said: ‘Yes.’ Thereupon, he said: ‘If it is so, that is better for them that they should show obedience to him. I am going to tell you about myself. I am the Dajjal and would be soon permitted to get out. I shall get out and travel in the land, and will not spare any town where I would not stay for forty nights except Makkah and Madina as these two (places) are prohibited (areas) for me and I would not make an attempt to enter any one of these two. An angel with a sword in his hand would confront me and would bar my way and there would be angels to guard every passage leading to it; then, Allah’s Messenger (saw) striking the pulpit with the help of the end of his staff said: ‘This implies Taiba meaning Madina. Have I not told you an account (of the Dajjal) like this?’ The people said: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘This account narrated by Tamim Dari was liked by me for it corroborates the account which I gave to you in regard to him (Dajjal) at Madina and Makkah. Behold, he (Dajjal) is in the Syrian sea (Mediterranean) or the Yemen Sea (Arabian sea). Nay, on the contrary, he is in the east, he is in the east, he is in the east, and he pointed with his hand towards the east.’”