Personality Development: The Jewels of the Household

diamond_1461404cWe are the nucleus of the family- whether a daughter, sister, wife or mother. We keep the bonds strong. The touch of a loving mother is irreplaceable- who wraps her children in a blanket of love, affection and protection, while tending their needs as well as raising them to be good Muslims and Muslimahs. When she hears the call of the prayer, she sits to worship her loving Creator, Allah (swt) and positions her child next to her on the prayer mat facing the Qiblah. A dutiful daughter aids her mother. A devoted wife propels her husband to the summits of success whilst he goes out to earn the daily bread. Indeed, the following saying is true:

‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’.

In Islam, women are not considered as maids of the households rather it acknowledges women’s equality with men in many aspects. Allah (swt) stated in the Holy Quran,

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

Exemplary Muslimah in Islamic history

Throughout the Islamic history, women have played a major role in spreading Islam and our beloved Prophet (sa) has praised the following: his youngest daughter, Fatimah (ra), his beloved wife Khadijah (ra), Maryam (as) and Asiya (as), the wife of Pharoah. These diamonds are core role models and legendary beacons of productivity and balance of how we as Muslim women can divide our time fairly between family, work, home and Islam to reach our ultimate goal- Jannat-ul-Firdous. A place free of pain, hardship and sorrow can be replaced with eternal happiness, relief and ease if we learn from the lives of our role models. One of the prime examples is of, Fatimah (ra).

Who was Fatimah (ra)?

A patient and consistent slave of Allah (swt)

She was a passionate worshipper, who put a hard effort in looking after her home and daily chores. She was both- a dutiful wife and daughter, and had a stance in the community for helping the poor and needy, as well as, good Islamic manners. Often, she would give all her food to the poor and stay hungry. She would never complain, no matter how difficult the circumstances were. Aisha (ra) said:

‘I did not see any one resembling the blessed Prophet (sa), regarding all manners, more perfectly than Fatimah (ra), the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (swt).’

She and her husband, who was the Prophet’s (sa) cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) led a simple, but content life and had two sons: Hassan (ra) and Hussain (ra) who were very dear to Prophet Muhammad (sa). They also had two daughters Zainab (ra) and Umm Kulsum (ra). Her relationship with Prophet Muhammad (sa) was very close; and it shone with pure love and affection that he said once:

‘Fatimah is part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry’ (Al-Bukhari)

Immense love and respect for her father

He usually visited her house. Her childhood was a shadow of trials and tribulations as her father underwent hardships spreading Islam in Makkah in the time of ignorance. Thus, she grew up with patience and determination. She courageously protected her father, and wept when she saw him bleed. She comforted her father. Once, the disbelievers sacrificed a camel. At the time, Prophet Muhammad (sa) was praying with his companions. Abu Jahl dared his friends to put the bowels and filth on Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) back. Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’it took up of the offer and piled it on the Prophet’s (sa) back. When Fatimah (ra) heard of this, she ran to her father; she removed the filth with her hands from her beloved father’s back, and scolded the disbelievers due to the brutal treatment they performed towards him. When Prophet (sa) completed his prayer, he lifted his hands to supplicate Allah (swt) to hold Abu Jahl, Uqbah and those involved. The Prophet’s (sa) supplications were answered.

Compassionate servant of Islam

Fatimah (ra) even helped during the battles by nursing the wounded. After her mother’s death, she would devoutly look after her father. When he passed away, she was saddened and lived only a few months after him.

Fatimah was an exemplary Muslimah for every Muslim woman- a woman of courage, piety and righteousness. Her aim in life was to serve Islam. May Allah (swt) allow us all to learn from this jewel of Islam on how to find the right balance between Deen and Dunya. Ameen.

Etiquettes of Sneezing and Yawning – 2

largeProphet’s (sa) instruction for yawning

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Yawning comes from the Shaytan, so if one of you feels the urge to yawn, let him suppress it as much as he can, for if one of you says ‘ha’ (the sound made when yawning), the Shaytan laughs.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

It was proven in the Hadeeth of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt) likes the act of sneezing and dislikes the act of yawning, so if any one of you sneezes and praises Allah (swt) (says “Alhumdulillah”), it is a duty on every Muslim who hears him to say to him, “YarhamukAllah (may Allah (swt) have mercy on you).”

As for yawning, it is from the Shaytan, so if any of you feels the urge to yawn, he should suppress it as much as he can, for when any one of you yawns, the Shaytan laughs at him.” (Bukhari)

Various phrases to be used by the “Sneezer” to praise Allah (swt) 

Alhumdulillah (praise be to Allah (swt))

Alhumdulillah ‘Alakullihaal (Praise be to Allah (swt) in all situations)

Alhumdulillah Rabbil-‘Aalameen (Praise be to Allah (swt) the Lord of the Worlds)

Various phrases to be used to pray for mercy for the sneezer

YahdeekumAllah-wayuslihu-balakum (May Allah (swt) guide you and rectify your condition)

YaghfirAllahu-lana-walakum (May Allah (swt) forgive us and you)

‘AafanaAllah-waiyyakum-min-al-nar, YarhamukumAllah (May Allah (swt) save us and you from the Fire; may Allah (swt) have mercy on you)

YarhamunaAllahu-waiyyakum-wayaghfirlana-walakum (may Allah (swt) have mercy on us and you, may He forgive us and you)

All of the above narrations are “Saheeh” and a Muslim may choose whichever of them he wants.  And Allah (swt) knows best.

The Prophet (sa) stated that yawning comes from the Shaytan (Satan), and he told us to suppress yawning as much as we can, but if yawning overtakes us, then he told us to put our hands over our mouths.

1. It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (rta) said: The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If one of you yawns – according to another report: whilst praying – let him suppress it as much as he can, for the Shaytan comes in.” (Muslim)

2. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Yawning comes from the Shaytan, so if one of you feels the urge to yawn, let him suppress it as much as he can, for if one of you says ‘ha’ (the sound made when yawning), the Shaytan laughs.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Ruling on saying “Alhumdulillah” after sneezing when praying:

It is prescribed for him/her to say Alhumdulillah, because it is proven in the Saheeh Hadeeth that the Prophet (sa) heard someone say Alhumdulillah after sneezing and he did not rebuke him, rather he said: “I saw such and such a number of angels, all of whom were hastening to write it down.” And because praising Allah (swt) is akin to the phrases of prayer, and is not contrary to it.”

(Majmoo’ Fataawa al-ShaykhIbnBaaz)

Conclusion:

Muslims should submit to the authentic Islamic texts and act accordingly, without trying too hard to understand precisely why a text commands or forbids something. They should believe that Allah (swt) is the Wise and Aware, Who does not prescribe anything for His slaves- unless it is in their best interests, in this world and the next; even though it may not cross their minds and some people may understand part of the wisdom behind it, whereas others will never know. The Muslim’s basic rule is to follow the commands, and if he has some knowledge of the reason behind the commands, then praise be to Allah (swt).

May Allah (swt) make us from those who obeyed Him and made Him happy. May He make us from those whom He forgave, and bestowed upon His mercy. May He bless us the best of both worlds – Ameen.

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Taubah

perla negraWe now begin Surah At-Taubah. Since it begins with the mention of Allah’s (swt) anger and wrath, we notice that unlike other Surahs it does not begin with Bismillah. May Allah (swt) not deprive us of His mercy and forgiveness. Ameen.

Be cautious – this world deceives

Again, there is a reminder to not to get deceived by the treasures of this world such as wealth and children. He says, So let not their wealth or their children amaze you (O Muhammad (sa)); in reality Allah’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of the this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.” (At-Taubah 9:55) May Allah (swt) make our wealth and children a source of comfort for us and means for entering Jannah. May these blessings don’t pave our way to destruction. Ameen.

Beware of mocking Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)

Then there is a warning against mocking Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and His verses. The hypocrites would come in Prophet’s (sa) gathering, give their verbal acknowledgement to whatever they learnt and when they met each other in private, they would confess their disagreement. Each time that happened, Allah (swt) would reveal their true condition to Prophet (sa). Sometimes, we receive jokes about heaven and hell, the angels and other matters of the Unseen. We read them and laugh with our friends and family. Allah (swt) says, “If you ask them (about this), they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allah, and His verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger (sa) that you were mocking?” (At-Taubah 9:65)

This is not something to be taken casually; read what Allah (swt) says next about such people, “Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.)” (At-Taubah 9:66) Such a person is out of the folds of Islam. A Muslim leads a conscious life; he doesn’t get carried away by what’s happening around him. Delete such a message and reply them back with this verse. It could be that they don’t even know this verse is there in the Quran.

Heedfulness or hypocrisy?

Among the many traits of hypocrites, one is that they will not leave anyone without defaming and ridiculing him in all circumstances, even those who give away charity. If, for instance, someone gives away a large amount, the hypocrites say that he is showing off. If someone gives away a small amount, they say that Allah (swt) stands not in need of this man’s charity. Al-Awfi narrates from Ibn Abbas (ra) that one day while the Prophet (sa) was collecting charity, a man brought a Sa’ of dates (a small measure of food grains). He said, “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! This is a Sa’ of dates. I spent the night bringing water and earned two Sa’ of dates for my work. I kept one Sa’ and brought you the other Sa’.” The Prophet (sa) ordered him to add it to the charity. The hypocrites standing their commented that Allah (swt) and His Messenger are not in need of such small charity. What benefit could it bring? After that, came a rich man who wanted to give four thousand Dirhams in the way of Allah (swt). About him the hypocrites said that he gave this much amount to show off. It is the characteristic of Allah (swt) that He exposes those who lie and defame His righteous believers.

Hence this verse was revealed, “Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah’s Cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allah’s Cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers), Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.” (At-Taubah 9:79) A small or huge contribution does not matter. What matters is the person’s sincerity and that his wealth was earned from Halal means.

Sincerity in charity

Talking about sincerity, sometimes when we want something, we passionately make Dua and put a condition in it. We say, “O Allah (swt)! If such and such happens, I will be regular in my prayers,” or “I will give some particular amount in charity.” You know what is better than this? That we make ourselves punctual in our prayers and gave Sadaqah out of our willingness rather than putting a condition on it. Why treat Allah (swt) like a baby who you can trick with a candy for getting some work done? Allah (swt) says, “And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakat and voluntary charity in Allah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous. (At-Taubah 9:75). Know that if one can cheat their Maker, they can cheat anyone. May Allah (swt) forgive us and correct what is wrong within us. Ameen.

Zakat – an obligatory charity

Allah (swt) says, “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (At-Taubah 9:103) This command is about the obligatory charity that is Zakat. Zakat is a means for purification and increment of one’s wealth. Therefore, do not be stingy with your Zakat. How can we protect ourselves from the Fitnah of stinginess? By knowing that the wealth that Allah (swt) has given us is not ours to keep. He gave us this wealth so that we could spend it in His cause, helping the needy and the poor. Note that in the verse, the Prophet (sa) has been instructed to make Dua after collecting the Zakat. What does this teach us? It teaches us that when one is collecting donations or charity, he should make Dua for the well-being of donor. The Prophet (sa) prayed in the following words:

 

بَارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ فِيمَا أَمْسَكْتَ وَفِيمَا أَعْطَيْت

“May Allah bless you for what you kept and what you gave away.” (Ibn Katheer) Such a statement will act as a reassurance for the donors and encourage them to contribute in future as well. Insha’Allah.

Levels of believers

Now we learn about the levels of believers, Allah (swt) says, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:100) Look at their honour. We need to be very careful about what we say about the Companions and the righteous slaves of Allah (swt). We must ask Allah (swt) to bless us with the company of His righteous servants, so that we may aspire to raise our status in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

One is known by the company he keeps. It either guarantees one peace or snatches it away. However, good company promises goodness. An evil company only increases us in evilness. Reflect on your social circle. Are they bringing you closer to Allah (swt) or only distancing you further? If it’s the latter, do not be shy to break away from them or at least maintain minimal contact. Your Iman and Hereafter is more important than anything else in this fleeting world.

Diversity in Ummah

Then we learn about the diversity in Ummah, “And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).” (At-Taubah 9:122) Some people will go out to fight. Some will stay back to teach Quran and matters of religion. This is a great encouragement, especially for the women. Women sometimes feel their task is limited to raising children and managing the house. Allah (swt) has honoured women greatly with these responsibilities. The little Momins, Insha’Allah, will be tomorrow’s scholars and soldiers of Islam. By staying at home, you can focus on your association with the Quran, learn it, live by it and teach it to others. In Islam, no one’s role is insignificant. We make it trivial only by our thoughts. Change your thinking and reflect on your skills: How can I contribute in Allah’s (swt) way.

We have been talking about the certainty of tests in one’s life; in Surah At-Taubah Allah (swt) gives us reminders regarding afflictions. He says, “See they not that they are tried once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine, etc.)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” (At-Taubah 9:126)

Why does Allah’s (swt) test us?

The purpose is that a person may draw himself closer to Allah (swt). There is nothing more that Allah (swt) appreciates than a servant being engaged in Astaghfar. Astaghfar does not mean that you are a sinful person. The Prophet (sa), who was the best being ever lived on the earth, used to seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness 70 – 100 times a day.

Allah (swt) describes His Prophet (sa)

As we are talking about Muhammad (sa), let’s see how Allah (swt) describes him, “Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad (sa)) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he (sa) is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

Here we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Are we kind and merciful to one another?
  2. Do we grieve over the sufferings of one another?
  3. Are we concerned about one another?

Again we are reminded of good conduct. If others do not reciprocate kindness then say, “Hasbiya Allahula ilaha illa huwa alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa rabbu al-arshi al-atheem (Allah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.)” Surah At-Taubah ends at this Dua. These words should be part of our daily remembrance of Allah (swt).

May He open up our hearts and minds to give Him our very best. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

How to Raise our Children

serviceLife is a precious gift from Allah (swt) to all human beings. It is upon us as to how we spend this gift, whether we earn the blessings of Heaven or the torment of Hell fire. The truth is that we all should spend our life according to the Quran and Sunnah in order to make our life, our homes and our society- peaceful.

As parents, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to raise our children and so we put in endless efforts to bring them up in an Islamic manner. But the question is that even after all the efforts put in by the parents, why don’t our children learn good Islamic manners?  After a session of contemplation and thorough survey, I ended up with the answer that since we as elders are not implementing those things that we teach our children in our lives, then how can we expect them to act upon them. And if we just say something that does not reflect through our deeds and actions, then how will our kids learn the application of those teachings in their life? It’s basically “Walk the Talk Rule” that should be followed! Hence, before anything else, we have to take care of this issue.

Children are great imitators. Therefore we should give them something great to imitate. And the most important point to remember in raising kids is that we should not scold them if they do any mistake. Instead we should stay calm and try to teach them with great love. This will build our respect in their mind. And if they start respecting us, they will respect other people also.

A mother is better than a thousand teachers. It is said that home is the first school of a child. So we should make our home the house of Allah (swt) by instilling Islamic teachings in it and inculcating them in every single aspect of our life.

When a kid is in early childhood, he or she is very sensitive and is building a whole personality which thoroughly depends upon what environment he or she gets at home and what lessons are being taught. So we should give them self confidence by treating them nicely in front of others. We should trust them so that they never lie to us and make ourselves their best friends so they love us. And whenever we do something for them, our intention should be that we are doing for the sake of Allah (swt) and not to receive any kind of future reward from our kids. As a result, you will see how Allah (swt) helps you and makes life easier for you.

There is no better companion for a kid than a mother- the most pure and sincere relationship in the world. And there is no better guide and mentor for a child than his father, but everything should be done in a limit and only for Allah (swt).

We must appreciate kids when they achieve something. This will make them happy and give a robust to their self-esteem and help them put trust in their own abilities for further achievements.

Little angels are interested in stories so we should tell them the stories of our prophets, his companions (Sahaba) and the Islamic history so that the love for Islam nurtures in them.

These are the little things I feel that if we implement and apply them, our lives will be very peaceful and our kids will Insha’Allah become good human beings and true Muslims.