Manna Salwa – Simple Choices vs Variety Gourmet

manna salwa“And we shaded you with clouds and sent down on you Al-Manna and the quail, (saying): ‘Eat of the good lawful things We have provided for you,’ (but they rebelled). And they did not wrong Us, but they wronged themselves.” (Al-Baqarah 2:57)

“And remember when you said: ‘O Musa! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum (wheat or garlic), its lentils and its onions.’ He said: ‘Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!’ And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the Wrath of Allah…” (Al-Baqarah 2:61)

I especially remember the children of Israel on the days when I have to venture into the kitchen to cook a decent meal, racing against time and juggling the multitude of roles assigned to me as a working mother. I try to imagine what it must have been like to be served the convenient and pristine cuisine by none other but the King of the Worlds Allah (swt) as His Mercy and divine hospitality. Tafsir Ibn-e-Kathir mentions that Mujahid said: “Al-Manna was a kind of sweet gum, and As-Salwa, a kind of bird (i.e., quail).” This food descended from the Paradise, and was collected by the children of Israel effortlessly.

Someone among them brainstormed the idea of ‘variety is the spice of life’, turned up their nose against the Lord’s superior bounties, and demanded from Musa (as) to arrange inferior food grown on the planet.

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Lunch Box Ideas for Busy Moms

lunch box ideasA handy checklist to help you pack a healthy mid-day meal for your kids:

  • Provide water or other fluids to your children in order to avoid dehydration.
  • Add a portion of dairy product, such as cheese slices, yoghurt, or milk.
  • Add a portion of salad, such as carrots or cucumber. Make sure it looks appealing enough for your child to eat all of it.
  • Once a week, include sweet items such as cupcakes or muffins, as an occasional treat.
  • Add a portion of easy-to-eat fruits, such as bananas, grapes, apple wedges or peeled slices of orange.
  • Add a portion of foods rich in carbohydrates, such as bread or noodles.

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Career or Kids? Every Mom’s Dilemma

career or kids

Is there a way out? There always is. Mary Pipher in her bestseller, “The Shelter of Each Other”, shared the story of a couple caught up in a hectic lifestyle. Both husband and wife worked long hours to meet their financial needs. They realized that they hardly had time for personal interests, each other, or their three-year-old twins. They were guilty as sin to know that the daycare providers had seen their children walk the first steps and heard their first sounds. They were now reporting behavioural problems in the twins. The couple had essentially fallen out of love, as they were operating as machines run on a schedule.

The wife felt even more anguished for her unfulfilled desire to help her mother, who had cancer. But what was she to do? She couldn’t make time for herself due to her demanding career. They seemed trapped in what appeared to be an impossible situation.

They headed for counselling and set their mind to fix the problem. They made some vital changes to their family life, which created dramatic differences. The husband talked to his employers that he would no longer be able to work on Saturdays. The wife eventually quit her job to stay home with the boys. They invited the wife’s mother to move in with them, pooling their resources. Now, the children had the loving company of their grandmother, and the grandmother was cared for by her own daughter.

But this togetherness didn’t come by a wave of a magic wand. They all agreed to make personal sacrifices, realizing what they were giving up was lesser in value than what they would eventually gain. They cut back in many areas – stopped eating out and quit buying things except for essentials. The husband carpooled to work. The wife didn’t behave like a victim of circumstances, who was forced to surrender her career.

This family understood clearly that either they could have more time with each other or more money – not both. They chose time over money. This choice made a profound difference in the quality of their personal and family life. They were happier, more fulfilled, less stressful, less guilty and more in love.

The point is that there is always an option. You may simplify your lifestyle, consider cutting back, changing jobs, shifting from full-time to part-time work, work closer to home to cut commuting time, create a virtual office in your home, etc. But you need to be honest with yourself, first and foremost. Why exactly do I work? Is it really a financial need or is it that I enjoy the independence? Does it help me earn a more sound reputation in society and family or does it fulfill my craving to pursue my career? Only if you look yourself honestly in the eye and understand the deep reason for your work motives will you be able to prioritize. What weighs more for me: my family or my career?

Steven Covey said: “The bottom line is that there is no need to be held hostage by these lies, if family is really your top priority. And making the family priority will push you into creative exploration of possible alternatives.”

In order to prioritize our values in life we need to understand that parenthood is a unique role. It is about nurturing the potential of a special human being entrusted to our care. There is no substitute for the relationship between a child and a parent. When mothers wish to head for the career world, anyone with a positive attitude and caring disposition appears to them as their substitute for their kid. However, competence and character are a difficult combination to find in caretakers. Urie Bronfenbrenner, a child development expert, puts it aptly: “You can’t pay someone to do for a child what a parent will do for free.”

A working mother should also know that if she doesn’t have time to teach her children, society will. And all will have to live with the results. It is said that when the infrastructure shifts, everything else rumbles. If only we study the changes that have occurred in the four dimensions of society – popular culture, laws, economy and technology – over the past fifty years or so, our findings will put everything into perspective. Following is a brief analysis:

Popular culture

Un-monitored children spend most of their time today either eating or watching TV. They have increasing access to videos, music, movies; hence, they view pornography, illicit sex and violence. Working moms have to beat the clock, so the tone at home is not relaxed, and family members seldom get any meaningful time to bond or share.


Hochschild writes: “In this new model of family-and-work life, a tired parent flees a world of unresolved quarrels and unwashed laundry for the reliable orderliness, harmony and managed cheer of work.” At work, a mother receives affirmation, prestige, instant results and compensation. If she decides to stay home, she will be making a pro-active choice that can only come from the heart and results will appear in many years, Insha’Allah.


Popular culture has impacted the political will and resulting laws, too. Once, the institution of marriage was held as a vow of two individuals not only to each other but to the society as well. Today, marriage is no longer a covenant or a commitment. It simply is a contract between two consenting adults. If this contract is found to be inconvenient, unnecessary or an obstacle in one’s road to desires, it can be annulled without considering the family at all.

This depreciation of the sanctity and solemnity of marriage has unleashed an epidemic of divorce, child neglect, community ruin and loneliness. And the present day laws do very little to prevent this disaster. In fact, feminist movements and others fan the disintegration more. Deviations from Deen and sheer ignorance think it right for couples to divorce each other.


Cost of the average home has increased, inflation has spiraled, and dream life-styles have emerged. Consequently, homes have nuclear families of parents and children. Intergenerational and extended families are viewed as a source of interference.

Since economic responsibility has been reducing from intergenerational to just nuclear families, it has given rise to a culture of freedom and independence. Escape from responsibility and accountability is available everywhere. Families and individuals are increasingly becoming isolated.


Steven Covey observes: “Changes in technology have accelerated the impact of changes in every other dimension. It provides unfiltered access to highly impactful visual images, supports saturated advertisement, puts us into materialistic overload, causes a revolution in expectations.” Mass media literally drives the culture in your home.

Having said that, a child, whose mother stays at home and resents it, is worse off than if she goes to work. The benefit comes only if the mother understands completely that she is fulfilling a sacred stewardship in life by rearing her children. Nothing on the list of values outweighs her role as a nation builder, and Paradise can be hers just by being a loving and responsible parent. Otherwise, she might just hear herself scream and whine before her children, making them guilty of being a hurdle in the happiness of their mother’s life. Her children would soon start wishing that she goes to work, so that there is peace at home.

It is a great tragedy for a woman to not realize that if today she neglects her professional, developmental and social interests, they can still be pursued tomorrow. However, if she does not invest herself in her kids at their young age, she herself will eventually be the one to reap the whirlwind. As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: “For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Will this regretful mother be able to turn back the clock?

Let’s Enrage Him

Oct 10 - Let's enrage him

There was once a man in Arabia called Muan Ibn Zaida. He was very famous for his generosity as well as his mild temper. It was well-known amongst the Arabs that no one could provoke him.

One day, an Arab man claimed: “I will make Muan lose his temper.”

“Well,” said the people, “if you manage to do that, we will give you a hundred red camels.”

The Arab went to Muan. He walked in very rudely and without saying “Assalamu Alaikum” started to recite a few verses which meant, “Do you remember the time, when a goat’s skin was your dress and your shoes were made of camel skin?”

Muan did not mind the rude behaviour. He replied: “Of course, I have not forgotten that time.”

The Arab said: “Glory be to the One, Who gave you the power to rule and taught you how to sit on a bed.”

Muan said: “All praise is to Allah (swt) for that; not to you, my dear brother.”

The Arab said: “By Allah (swt), if you were supporting me, I could not survive one day. Also, I am not impressed with your rule, so I don’t offer you Salam.”

“My dear brother,” said Muan, “saying Salam is a Sunnah. If you obey it, you will receive blessings from Allah (swt). And if you do not say Salam, then you will be sinning.”

“I will leave the very land in which you are living, even if I have to walk all the way,” the Arab continued.

“If you stay here, you will only receive good treatment from us,” said Muan. “And if you leave, our Duas are with you.”

“Well then,” said the Arab. “I am definitely leaving. Arrange for my travel expenses.”

Muan asked his servant to give the Arab one thousand Dinars.

The Arab said: “This is too little. I expected much more from you.”

Muan asked his servant to give him another thousand Dinars.

Now, the Arab admitted his defeat and said: “May Allah (swt) grant you a long life, as your generosity is equivalent to a sea. You are the epitome of Ihsan. I have never met anyone like you before.”

Muan asked his servant to give him another thousand Dinars.

The Arab now explained: “I had heard you were mild tempered, so I came here just to test your patience. I am convinced that you are extremely generous and mild tempered. If your two qualities were distributed amongst every individual on this Earth, they would be enough for them.”

Muan gave the Arab another three thousand Dinars. The Arab thanked him and turned to leave. He was now crying.

Muan called him back and asked: “Why are you crying?”

“I am crying because even a man like you has to die one day,” he replied. “Losing one’s wealth and animals is not such a big deal. But when a generous man dies, quite a lot perishes with him, too.”

Adapted (with permission) from Sunehray Huroof published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Hafsa Ahsan.

Help! My Child Doesn’t Listen!

Oct 10 - Help my child doesn't listen

By Qainaf Najam

“He hit the stone with full might. A few sparks were produced and people backed away, frightened. The jeweller seemed oblivious to his surroundings or to the sparks, for that matter. He kept on hitting the stone with juvenile force. Each impact added an ounce of shine to the stone and with each increase, the force of the jeweller doubled. He hit harder and harder. He was a diamond carver. The more you hit the diamond, the more cuts it has and the more beautiful it is,” grandma ended the story with her ‘wise’ words.

Later, I thought of the story Grandma had shared. My imagination wandered and landed at a spot, where I was the diamond, my mother was the jeweller and the hammer signified the disciplining tool. It all fit. Curiosity welled inside me, and I decided to embark on an arduous journey to discover the ‘hammers’ that mothers use, when the diamond refuses to shine.

Of all the mothers questioned, only one confidently and proudly told me that her kids always obeyed her! For the rest, the level of submission varied from 70 to 80 per cent. Everybody agreed that mothers should try to create a good environment for children, since they are the best imitators – they will do what they see.

Following are some of the tactics that mothers use, when their kids refuse to obey them.

The Understanding Formula

Shaista, a mother of two, said that the basis of any relationship is understanding. To erect a strong building, we must put forth a stable base, and, when it comes to children, that base is understanding. Another experienced mother observed that mothers should try to understand the reasons, for which children disobey or stretch their limits, to be precise. They should act like their friends not their bosses. Mothers should genuinely hear out the kids, placing themselves in their shoes, and not be quick to pass a verdict. Mums should also not interrupt, and let the child do the talking to clearly understand where he/she is coming from. Then, mothers should try to explain to the child, calmly and logically, why he/she should not disobey.

Naseem Dilawar, a mother with an experience of about 33 years, beautifully summed up the formula: “Children are like flowers: if you press a flower, it withers. Similarly, strictness and austerity in the beginning deteriorates a child’s personality and shatters his confidence.”

The Cost-Reward Theory

I jumped in excitement, as my psychology lessons came alive during the survey. We had studied that humans tend to calculate the cost and the reward involved in doing anything. If the cost goes up, we show reluctance towards the act. If the reward goes up, we are more than happy to deliver. Farhat Khan, a mother of two, said that she constantly reminds her children of the odds they’ll have to face if they disobey. This presents them with a clear picture and allows them to calculate their decision.

Another mother observed: “I tell them the consequences of their disobedience. I tell my little girl that she won’t be able to play with her favourite toy. And I declare to my 10-year-old son the computer ‘out of bounds’, till he listens to me. I think this is very effective, because the child realizes the magnitude of his mistake. To reinforce good behaviour, I give them sweets of their choice, when they listen to me against their will.”

A new mother replied that she would show her son the right and wrong in the light of Islamic teachings and then let him choose his way. “I’ll make him pay the cost of disobeying and reward him, when he pleases me,” she added. If we think about it, this is the exact tactic Allah (swt) uses for us: He has told us, which is the right path, but He has also granted us the freedom to choose this right path. Besides, good conduct must spring from within to please Allah (swt) and not out of a parent’s fear. Otherwise, it has short lasting value.

The Loving Way

After an in-depth analysis, I must admit that this approach works mainly for little kids.

According to researches, bedtime stories help the grooming of a small child more than anything else. My friend uses this technique for her two kids. She says that when they disobey, she doesn’t talk to them. She shows them that they’ve done something wrong. Usually, this is enough to trigger their emotions, and they come up to her with somber faces, saying: “Mama, Kya Huwa Hai? (What is wrong?)” Then, at bedtime, she tries to come up with a fictitious story, which they can relate to themselves. This reinforces what she had taught them during the day.

Mother of 3-year-old Aayushie wrote all the way from India that she tries to make her daughter understand that she is doing the wrong thing. “I make her sit on my lap, I kiss her and softly tell her, why she shouldn’t do so and so,” said Roopali. “90 per cent of the times, I get a positive response.”

One mother said that a mother should come down to the level of the child and then tackle the situation. 95 per cent of mothers said that in the first stage, they try to tell the child how much they care for them – children need to know that what their mothers say is for their own good, and that they still love them in spite of their questionable behaviour at times.

Penalties and Punishments

This usually comes as the last stage. Many mothers believe that retributions are crucial to children’s grooming, when they become illogically adamant. When children are bent upon defying, they must be shown their limits.

“The game starts with me ignoring my children. When they keep on refusing, I ground them. They are then forbidden to play computer games, go out in the field or with friends and are made to eat alone in their room. But this is only when they violate against the set limits,” expressed yet another mother.

One mother said that little kids should be made to stand in the ‘naughty corner’, or the mother should twist their ears if needed. But for older kids, corporal punishments do not go well, because they retaliate – they think it’s an insult and fly off the handle. For children above ten, penalties usually included grounding and taking away such facilities as the Internet and the cell phone.

Say No to ‘No’

A mother proposed that children should be provided alternative things to do. For example, if your daughter wants to go out with her friends at night and you know that it’s not suitable for her age, invite her friends to your home or take her out yourself. Don’t say ‘no’ to the child. Let them know that you want them to enjoy life but within limits, that are safe for them.

Trust Allah (swt)

When I asked a mother what she does when her kids refuse, she plainly said: “I pray.” She further explained: “This doesn’t necessarily mean that a mother should just sit on the prayer mat and pray; the fact is that you are not with your child at all times, while Allah (swt) is. So when you’ve done your job, entrust your child to Allah (swt).”

The Incessantly Attractive Wife

Oct 10 - Bold and Beautiful

What is it that truly makes a woman beautiful or attractive to her husband? This is probably the most ancient and oft-asked question that women have sought answers to for centuries in their quest to maintain the bliss of their marital homes. Every year, women spend millions on cosmetics, fashion products and fitness programmes, as they go the extra mile in trying to preserve their youth for as long as they humanly can.

For some married women, this zeal increases with age, with the multitude of single, younger women swarming outside their houses and around their husbands, adding to their worries and insecurities about their looks. True, most women beautify themselves for their own happiness, not for the world; but it would be a lie to say that they do not do it to look good in front of others, too!

Yet, in the middle of this beauty paraphernalia, you will find a simple, practicing Muslim woman, who does not go to the gym or the salon as a routine; does not splurge on clothes at boutiques and does not purchase expensive cosmetics. Yet, from the way her husband pampers her, caters to her whims and steals looks at her in social gatherings, it is obvious that he is still in love with her, even after years of marriage and the arrival of children.

You wonder: “How does she do it?”

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (rta) said: “It was said to the Messenger of Allah (sa): ‘Which of the women is the best?’ He said: ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, obeys him when he tells her to do something, and does not disobey him with regard to herself or her wealth in a way that he dislikes.'” (An-Nasai)

Many people misunderstand this Hadeeth to imply that a good wife should be physically very beautiful. Nay, “who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her” means that the wife’s behaviour, character, looks and conduct together please her husband, whenever he looks at her.

Muslim women should realize that the best way to be incessantly attractive to their husbands is to make themselves sincere worshippers and believers of Allah (swt); to love and obey Allah’s (swt) commands and laws and to observe His limits. An indicator of Allah’s (swt) love for a slave is that His creation on the earth also loves that slave. It is a simple solution: love Allah (swt) and others – including your husband – will love you.

Here are some tips for achieving that:

  • Make self-grooming and beautification solely an act of worship intended for Allah (swt) pleasure first, before it being for the world or even yourself. He created the beautiful, unique you, and He deserves gratitude for it.
  • Be grateful to Allah (swt) for what you are, i.e., accept how you look and be comfortable in your own skin. Be happy with your height, natural weight tendency (skinny, chubby or fat), complexion, facial features and quality of hair. If you are short, you can never be tall, so focus on your other positive qualities. Each human being has unique gifts granted to them by their Creator. This acceptance of Allah’s Qadr (decree) will lead to inner confidence.
  • Be self-confident – this happens by gaining knowledge of the Quran and becoming closer to your Creator. Even a plus-sized woman can look attractive to her husband, if she is confident about herself, and a so-called twiggy-skinny woman with a ramp model’s figure can fail to attract her spouse, if Allah (swt) does not will it. Remember, there is no single definition of beauty. What is attractive to one man can turn off another. Nothing makes a person more attractive than self-confidence!
  • An attractive person has no self-esteem issues. Stop pointing out your physical defects to your spouse (“Oh, just look at my big bum!” or “Do I look fat in this?”) and instead, focus on your plus points. Your husband will automatically notice you, when he sees you take care of yourself, without whining to him to say that you look nice.
  • You do not have to go to a beauty parlour and splurge on a makeover worth Rs. 5000 every other month to achieve good looks. An epilator and some good pharmaceutical products (scented bath gels, shower creams, deodorants, conditioners and olive oil) at home can do wonders.
  • Keep yourself clean and fresh-smelling every day, removing unwanted hair from your body every two weeks and maintaining impeccable personal hygiene. This includes fresh breath, a fragrant body, squeaky-clean hair, sparkling teeth and smooth feet, with soles and heels free of unseemly cracks. It does not matter if your nails are short or if you have not applied make-up. Prophet Muhammad (sa) was immaculately clean, so we should focus more on cleaning our bodies and cleansing our hearts from malice than going for hair highlights and a manicure every three months.
  • Stop worrying that your spouse will look at others. Rise above such insecurities. So what if he looks elsewhere? Yes, it is Haram and it hurts, but if you bear it with patience, Allah (swt) will be sufficient for you. A strong, self-sufficient wife is the greatest turn-on for any husband. Self-sufficiency comes from positive thinking and positive actions that benefit others in society.
  • Read up about and keep a keen interest in your husband’s profession. This makes him stay attracted to you. When his wife shows concern about his professional life, he will definitely want to come home to her and discuss career issues.
  • “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Though this does not always apply, there is some truth in it. You do not have to be a gourmet chef a la Naheed Ansari to tantalize his taste buds – just practice making his favourite dishes, until you excel at it. This will nurture his love for you. Just do not try to become his second “mom”!

Your weight, height, BMI (body mass index), age and dress size are nothing but numbers. Either you can let these numbers thwart your optimism and control your self-esteem, or you can lead a balanced life in pursuit of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa). That will grant you the peace of both mind and soul. Then, even if your husband finds you the most attractive woman on the earth, it will no longer matter because through his pleasure, it is the pleasure of Allah (swt) that you actually seek!

The Governor’s Son is whipped!

Jul 10 - The governor's son is whipped

Amr Ibn Al-Aas (rta) was the governor of Egypt during Umar Ibn Khattab’s (rta) caliphate. He belonged to one of the tribes of Quraish called Banu Saham. He entered the fold of Islam in 8 AH. The Prophet (sa) sent him towards Oman, and Amr Ibn Al-Aas’s (rta) preaching inspired the ruler to accept Islam.

He was an eloquent speaker, very soft spoken, a writer, thinker, politician and commander-in-chief. He has narrated thirty-nine Ahadeeth.

One day, a citizen of Egypt approached Umar (rta) and complained to him: “O Amir-ul-Mumineen! I have come to you to seek shelter from cruelty.”

Umar (rta) replied: “You have come to a man who has the power to grant you shelter.”

The Egyptian continued: “I participated in a race with Amr Ibn Al-Aas’s (rta) son. When I went ahead of him, he started to whip me and cried out: ‘I am the son of a noble family.’”

Upon hearing the complaint, Umar (rta) wrote a letter to Amr Ibn Al-Aas (rta) and summoned him along with his son.

When Amr Ibn Al-Aas (rta) and his son appeared before him, Umar (rta) inquired: “Where is the Egyptian?”

When he appeared before Umar (rta) too, he commanded the Egyptian: “Take this whip and hit him.”

As soon as the Amir-ul-Mumineen ordered the Egyptian to do so, he started to whip Amr Ibn Al-Aas’s (rta) son. Umar (rta) kept on repeating: “Whip the son of the noble family.”

Anas (rta) narrates: “By Allah (swt)! The Egyptian whipped the governor’s son fiercely, and we all wanted him to do so. However, after some time, we wished that he stopped.”

Then Umar (rta) ordered: “Whip Amr Ibn Al-Aas’s (rta) bald head too.”

The Egyptian said: “O Amir-ul-Mumineen! His son whipped me, and I have avenged him by way of Qisas.”

Then, Umar (rta) addressed Amr Ibn Al-Aas (rta): “Since when have you enslaved your people, when their mothers had borne them free?”

Amr Ibn Al-Aas (rta) clarified: “O Amir-ul-Mumineen! I was not aware of this incident and this man never brought his complaint to me.”

This is how justice was served during the caliphate of the Muslims. The son of a governor, belonging to a noble family, was commanded to be whipped before his own father’s eyes and that too by a common man, who had been wronged. Shariah laws protected the innocent and set an unprecedented example for others to stay within limits.

Adapted from “Sunehray Faislay”, published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

Handling Hygiene with Kids

Jul 10 - Handling Hygiene with kids

“My mother never hires a maid with small children,” says a friend of mine, “She thinks they are dirty; constantly smelling of their infants’ and toddlers’ waste on their clothes, as their hygiene is poor.”

I recall an incident I witnessed back in my own childhood. We were at a private swimming pool, when a few mothers caused a furor. A boy aged 3-4 relieved himself outside the pool. The boy’s mother, without any mortification, calmly walked him to the toilet as he continued to poop, marking their path with droppings. Everyone at the scene duly expressed what they thought of the mother’s ‘potty’ training skills. As for us, children, we were just grateful he decided to ‘go’ before getting into the pool.

It is not just uneducated women, who have low standards of hygiene with their children, is it? Even educated mothers need training about maintaining overall cleanliness after they have a baby – in their persona, home and environment. Getting dirty in cleaning up is a mandatory part of a mother’s life, especially during the first three years post-baby. There are no two ways about it – it is her job and she must know how to get it done effectively.

Doing away with hang-ups

Just like medical students must give up any queasiness in handling blood, human flesh, organs or cuts, new mothers, too, must give up innate abhorrence to human waste and body excretions.

In order to bring up a healthy and happy child, a mother must accept the fact that from now on anything that comes out of her baby’s body has to be cleaned up by her: spit-up

milk, nose goop, vomit, earwax, saliva, excreta – you name it. When a mother happily accepts this as part of her ‘job’, she can move past it quickly and efficiently.

As Muslim women, we should ultimately believe in and hope for the great reward promised by Allah (swt) for doing this so-called ‘dirty’ work. We will be rewarded not just for efficiently rearing a clean baby, but also for upholding the high standards of Taharah (purity) and cleanliness required by Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim)

Read relevant literature

Issues of Taharah need to be understood in-depth by reading Islamic literature on its do’s and don’ts. Websites, such as and, answer everyday questions about hygiene issues regarding children, e.g., what to do if a child urinates on its mother’s clothing? Does washing a baby’s excreta invalidate Wudhu?

Sheikh Uthaymeen replied to this question as follows: “With regard to changing a baby’s diaper, if you mean the act of changing in itself, this does not affect the validity of one’s Wudhu. If you mean that it involves touching something that is Najis (impure, i.e., the baby’s urine and stools), this does not affect your Wudhu either, because there is no connection between touching something Najis and the validity of one’s Wudhu. There is scholarly consensus on this point. All one has to do is wash one’s hands to get rid of any Najis material.

“If you mean that it involves touching the child’s private parts: whether the child is a boy or a girl; in the case of a child under the age of two years, the rulings on Awrah (that which is to be covered) do not apply, as the scholars have stated. So if you touch them, this does not affect your Wudhu. And Allah (swt) knows best.” (

Make use of modern cleaning resources

Gone are the days of cloth diapering and hand-washed clothes! Now, new mothers can avail resources that maintain hygiene and purity, from waterproof cot mattresses and sheets, to wet wipes and ‘breathable plastic’ diapers, hand sanitizers and baby bath gels, to fully automatic washing machines. Also, cleaning materials, such as absorbent sponges, flannels and scented floor wipes, help a lot during potty training a couple of years after the birth, in which ‘potty accidents’ regularly need to be cleaned up!

Here are a few tips, regarding how a mother can clean up leakages efficiently:

Wet bed

During the first few months, when a first-time mother is learning the ropes herself, she might be too exhausted to change the baby’s diaper before falling asleep, having to face a wet baby, bed sheet and mattress in the morning.

  1. Change the baby’s clothes first. Put on a clean diaper and dry clothes; feed him/her, then proceed to the next step.
  2. Take the sheet to the tap. Wash just the wet area of the bed sheet with running water. Do NOT immerse the entire sheet in a pail. The urine on the wet portion should be drained away completely, using a minimum amount of running water.
  3. Once the wet spot has been washed, purity is restored. Wring it dry. You can wash it further with soap/detergent, if you wish. You do not need to wash the entire bed sheet.
  4. As a precaution, place a large rubber mat covering the entire mattress to prevent it from getting soiled in case of leakages. You can place the bedsheet over this rubber mat.

Soiled mattress or carpet

Remove any solids (feces or vomit) with dry tissue first; then, discard the tissue in the toilet. An absorbent, damp cloth should then be used to clean the soiled patch on the mattress/carpet thus:

  1. Wash the cloth with water under a tap, wring, and rub the patch; repeat this, until the stain is considerably gone, and the soiled area on the carpet/mattress has lost its smell.
  2. Mix enough detergent in some water and repeat the process: wet the cloth in the soap-water, rub the patch, rinse the cloth, wring; wet, rub, repeat. Eventually, the patch of carpet/mattress will be thoroughly clean and pure.
  3. Once it has dried, prayer can be performed on it, Insha’Allah. Using an absorbent cloth to rub the area repeatedly ensures that the excreta are completely removed.

On the go:

Some items are essential for mothers of babies and toddlers on the go: wet baby wipes, changing (waterproof) mat, some extra diapers, small plastic bags (for waste disposal), a plastic bottle filled with tap water, tissues (or a tissue roll) and hand sanitizers.

Make your children wash their hands before and after eating; make them use the toilet in such a way that after they are done, an onlooker cannot tell that it has been used. Tell the boys never to urinate while standing and always wash themselves after answering the call of nature. If they are old enough, they can have small aerosols of air fresheners in their toilets to use.

As mothers of the next generation, we have to leave no stone unturned in inculcating high standards of cleanliness and purity in our little ones from day one, whether, we are in our private spaces or in public.

“Allah is clean, and loves cleanliness.” (Ibn Majah)

Defining my Hero

Jul 10 - Defining my hero

Just like any other teenager, I also wanted to marry a tall, dark and handsome young man. But as my late grandmother predicted: “I was a dark complexioned girl, so I found a fair skinned groom, so will you one day.” And, I did, indeed. I ended up marrying a short, fair and cute bloke. But that wasn’t the end of my fairytale; rather, it was the beginning.

I learnt an important lesson that marriage is not just about finding a good-looking mate. It is not about treating our husband as a genie found in a bottle who’s meant to please us by granting our every wish (justified or unjustified).

Marriage is much deeper and far more meaningful – a relationship between two individuals. It is a partnership, which entails dispensing each other’s rights. It is a companionship meant for sharing each other’s sorrows and comforting one another through hardship.

It also means to celebrate each other’s victories. It is always about putting our partner’s needs and desires before our own. It means to find our own happiness in his/her smiles and love our beloved with the warmth we had never felt for anyone before.

After twelve years of marriage, this is some of the wisdom that I can share. But it wasn’t so in the early years of matrimony.

The first few years were more about taming our egos and wild desires to criticize and constantly complain about the smallest things. When we were blessed with our first child, we set realistic expectations as parents and stopped demanding the impossible from one another. After the second child came into the picture, it was about extending our roles further as mom and dad. Now, it was fine for dad to change diapers and for mom to get the broken car fixed.

With the third child, we learnt that multi-tasking and strict budgeting was the only way to get ahead smoothly. This meant simple clothes for ourselves, if we were to have a decent wardrobe for our three little angels. This is just one of the many sacrifices that we have made together with a smile and have grown up to become mature and responsible parents. If someone would have asked us to make the same sacrifice in the very first year of our marriage, we would probably have killed him/her. But as I said, we lived the good times and the bad times together. When we look back, it gives us a sense of pride to have lived through it all as a couple.

Many people have helped me along my journey and taught me to change the way I used to think. May Allah (swt) bless them for this. They truly enabled me to discover a new perspective of marriage and love my husband – the only true hero in my life.

This doesn’t mean that my husband has suddenly become a perfect mortal, and I have awakened to this reality. It rather means that I have come to love him the way he is with all his flaws, shortcomings and weaknesses, as he has come to accept me with mine. He can still get on my nerves with his forgotten promises, missed appointments, over-commitments to others and last minute havoc-stricken actions. But now, instead of being angry or upset for days, I either mutter under my breath, ignore him or when I can’t bite my tongue, I scold him and eventually go back to loving him the way he is.

I have to remind myself constantly of the great many things he has done for me, without me even having to ask him. One such thing includes working day and night tirelessly to provide for the family’s comfort and well-being. I have a choice to stay at home, while he has to get up every morning and head for the real world. When the family goes for shopping, he is the last one to buy anything for himself and even then, only when I insist. In spite of hating household chores, he helps me with almost everything on Sundays. He tries to be the best father and husband.

Here, I would like to confess that I used to gossip about his late arrivals from office and the mess he leaves behind when leaving for work in frenzy, or giving too much attention to his own brothers and sisters. Not anymore. Now, I have vowed not to backbite, but instead to highlight the very best qualities in him.

I am grateful to my dear sister who very wisely pointed out to me: “Our husbands are fulfilling their duties as the Ameers (leaders) of the family. When Allah (swt) will question them, Insha’Allah, they will fare better than us, as compared to our roles as wives and mothers, because of our constant thankless attitude towards their contributions. Ingratitude and gossip is a major cause for many wives to break their marriages and eventually their peaceful homes.”

I also owe a big thanks to a sister in Islam. I was completely swept away by the way Na’ima B. Robert dedicated her book “From my sisters’ lips” to her better half. She wrote: “For my husband, the wind beneath my wings.” How freely she expressed her love, gratitude, trust and affection!

That’s another problem with us. As a cultural taboo, many of us are either embarrassed or self-conscious of expressing our true inner feelings as the Eastern brides or wives towards our spouses. But believe me – saying such romantic lines as ‘I love you’ every now and then can enliven our relationship.

And if we happen to be extremely uneasy or shy expressing our love candidly, we should at least try using such words as ‘sorry’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more often.

So here we are! The next time any of us is tempted to compare her husband to any other man (be it her father, a celebrity or a complete stranger), she should remember all that he has done and goes on doing for her and her family, that too without having to ask him!

The Fruit of a False Testimony

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The fruit of a false testimony

Once, Al-Haaj Ibrahim was approached by a friend for a loan. The friend promised to return it before the end of the year. Al-Haaj gave the loan and entered the transaction in his accounts. His friend offered to mortgage something against the loan. Al-Haaj refused, stating that since he was a dear friend and Allah (swt) was a Witness between them, a mortgage was not needed.

Before the year ended, Al-Haaj had a sudden heart attack and died. He left behind a widow and four children.

One day, Al-Haaj’s wife checked his accounts to see the details of his debtors and creditors. She came across the entry of the loan he had granted to his friend. The wife sent a message to Al-Haaj’s friend, requesting him to return the loan. The friend denied ever taking a loan from Al-Haaj. When she insisted and pursued the matter, he changed his statement and said that he had actually returned the loan much earlier and that was why he couldn’t even remember the incident.

When the news spread, public opinion was divided into two groups: one group supported Al-Haaj, while the other was on his friend’s side.

Al-Haaj’s widow approached the influential members of the society for assistance, but to no avail. Losing all hope, she filed a case against this man in the court.

After hearing both parties, the judge said: “This man claims to have returned the loan. He has a witness, who has testified that once the loan was granted to this man by Al-Haaj, the man mentioned to him how relieved he was due to the kind gesture of Al-Haaj. However, we have no proof or witness to substantiate the fact that the borrowed loan was actually returned to Al-Haaj. In such a case, the accused is required to take an oath by the Quran and confirm that he had indeed returned the borrowed loan.”

The accused man took a false oath by the Quran. Consequently, the court acquitted him. As the man proudly stepped out of the court room, he suddenly fell to the ground. This man, who had been hale and hearty just a few seconds ago, had dropped dead before everyone’s eyes.

The narrator of this story was Al-Haaj’s neighbour. He was also present during the trial and was deeply shocked by the sudden demise of this young man. He visited Al-Haaj’s house and spoke to Al-Haaj’s wife from behind the veil.

She said: “My husband was a pious man. He always lent people a helping hand. He used to lend money to all – the rich and the poor. Later, as per the Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth, he wrote off the loans of the destitute and allowed time to the rich to pay off their borrowed money. He kept the accounts of all such transactions. He rarely asked the borrowers to sign for the funds they took. I advised him to do so many times, but he would answer me: ‘The money that I have belongs to Allah (swt). There was a time, when I was poor. It was Allah (swt), Who enriched me.’

On the day of the verdict, I was also present in the courtroom. When that man took a false oath and the judge acquitted him, I cried out in horror. I knew that he had lied and had dared to mock Allah’s (swt) Book. At that very moment I cursed him: ‘O Allah! You are the Knower of all that is evident and all that is concealed. You are also the Knower of the Unknown. If this man is a liar, make him an example for others to fear, oh Mighty Lord!’

I saw him die before my eyes in the court. He was acquitted by the judge, but could not escape the ultimate King of the heavens and the earth.

One cold night, at the door, stood his graceful widow. She admitted to me that her husband had lied in the court. She had tried to persuade him to return the loan, but he didn’t listen. Eventually, he paid a heavy price for his treachery. She had come to return the loan – she handed over the borrowed money to me and left.”

Adapted from “Sunehray Faislay” published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

Summer Projects with a Twist

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Summer project with a twistBy Kiran Ansari and Meha Ahmed

It is that time of the year again – summer vacation is just around the corner. If you are an average mother with school-age children, you must be wondering how you are going to keep the kids occupied, without having to resort to plopping them in front of the TV all day. Well, look no further… Here are some projects you can do together, which will be both fun and educational.

Attributes of Allah (swt) Quilt

Cut out 4×4 inches of paper squares. Write or print one name of Allah (swt) with its meaning on each square. Encourage children to decorate each square with crayons, stickers, glitter, patterned paper and any other embellishment found around the house. When every ten squares are complete, hang the quilt by punching holes on the ends. Tie them together with yarn or ribbon. Keep on adding to the quilt.

Summer Reading

Every week, read a Quranic story to your children about a spider, honeybee, camel, ant, cow, whale and so on. Engage the children in a craft related to the story. You can surf the Internet to find some interesting crafts as well as fact sheets related to each animal.

When children are reading a book or when you are reading it aloud to them, encourage them to make up different endings for the same story.

Make a Jumuah Scene

Using an empty cardboard box, some clay and paint, replicate a scene from a Jumuah congregation. Explain how people of different backgrounds come together for the Jumuah prayer and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in Salah.

Dua Placemat

Print or write the Duas for the beginning and the ending of a meal (with the meaning) on an 8×11 inch piece of chart paper. Draw a plate, glass and cutlery in the appropriate places. Ask children to draw or colour their favourite foods. Laminate it, so it is easy to clean after meals.

You can do this for various other Duas as well.

Journal Fun

Get some attractive diaries for children, which they can use to record their day-to-day experiences during the summer. At the end of the summer, review it together. It might help for the typical back to school essay on how you spent your summer vacation!

Mapping out

Print out a huge map of the world. Encourage children to find out where different things they see around the house are made. If the computer is made in Japan, ask them to find it. Challenge them to find things that are made in ten different countries. Assign symbols to products and put those symbols on the map.

Sadaqah Box

Have the children clean out their cupboard. Make a huge Sadaqah box out of a carton and decorate it. Encourage children to put their toys, books and clothes in the box to be given to the needy. Explain how they should give toys that have all the pieces and work perfectly, instead of stuff they would otherwise throw in the trash.

Basic Arabic

Make Arabic labels for common everyday words (table, chair, door, etc.). Paste them around the house, so that children can get familiar with these Arabic words.

‘I have’ List

Every time children say a sentence beginning with ‘I want’, make them write a list entitled ‘I have’. This will encourage Sabr (patience) and Shukr (gratefulness).

The Blogging Muslimah

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The blogging MuslimahBy Noorjehan Arif and Sadaf Farooqi

She sets out for a walk in the park near her home, with her toddler safely packed in his stroller. Along the way, she pauses to snap pictures of a beautiful flower and the picturesque landscape. As her son chews on his snack, she takes another snap of him holding his apple. After an hour or so, she returns home to check on the dinner in the oven. When it is ready, she intends to take a picture of it too. She proceeds to log on to her online Quran Tafseer class on the computer, for which she has registered as a student, as her toddler plays with his toys in the living room.

At night, when the family has retired to bed, she turns on her husband’s laptop and logs onto her blog. She starts typing a blog post about her day: the trip to the park; the special recipe she baked; and what she learned in the class. She uploads the digital photographs into the post. A few minutes of formatting, followed by a preview, make her smile with satisfaction as she clicks on the “Publish” button.

The next morning after breakfast, she checks her blog to find a few comments under her post, left by Muslim sisters scattered around the world. They have subscribed to her blog feed and have already read her post. She spends a half-hour or so responding to their queries.

Whether it is Europe, North America, or the UAE, Muslim women and girls are turning to the blogosphere to share their life experiences with like-minded global readers. Having to live somewhat isolated from their immediate families after marriage, in small communities having very few Muslims, they do not feel lonely because their blogging makes them feel part of an online sisterhood.

It is not just personalized blogs that Muslimahs use to connect to the world from within their cozy homes. There are several group-blogs that publish posts written by a variety of different bloggers, a few times a week. An example of this is America’s “Grow Mama Grow” blog (, where young Muslim mothers share experiences and inspirational stories with each other.

A special benefit of blogging is the ease with which one can connect with women having similar challenges, e.g., having to raise speciAl-needs children, for instance, a child with autism or dyslexia.

Dealing with two children – an infant and a child afflicted by autism – juggling a work-at-home job and, in the middle of it all, getting all the household chores done, Zeba calls herself a “Road Warrior Momma of a special lil boy with Autism and a special lil girl with especially big hair!” She makes blogging an outlet to let people know how she is faring. She also uses it for her brainstorming sessions, as a relaxation technique and a way to update her family about her life. Her blog/online diary ( is a means of getting feedback from her friends as well!

Muslim Mom ( writes about her actions and reactions to her son’s activities and indicates the various techniques she employs for enhancing her son’s development and mental growth. She also discusses the various ways Islam can be incorporated in her son’s life, in order to strengthen his Deen in the face of the religious and cultural differences around him.

MMT is yet another blog, which focuses on the intricacies this home-schooling mother faces in raising her children as well as provides lessons of parenting that can be used by any mother. She also gives references to mom blogs in different parts of the world that talk about the ways of raising children in various environments and countries, including Gaza Strip, Syria, India and Pakistan.

Thanks to the blogosphere, a homebound Muslimah raising young children can now have a significant impact on a global level, by blogging from within her home to a diverse and unrestricted reader audience. She feels part of a huge community and, therefore, keeps loneliness at bay because of the positive impact she is having on so many people’s lives!

A Wise Mother’s Advice

Vol 7 - Issue 1 A wise mother's adviceBy Umm Isam

How many of us have been counselled by our mothers on the eve of our marriage? If we are among the few, we should consider ourselves to be fortunate because this tradition is vanishing. Sometimes it seems that the planning of the perfect wedding steals the very essence of this very important moment in one’s life.

A popular counsel was given by Umamah Bint Al-Harith to her daughter Umm Iyas bint Awf on the night of her wedding. She said: “O my daughter! You are about to leave the home, in which you grew up and where you first learned to walk, to go to a place you do not know, to a companion with whom you are unfamiliar. By marrying you, he has become a master over you, so be like a servant to him, and he will become like a servant to you.” (“You can be the happiest woman in the world” by Dr. Aid Al-Qarni)

A servant to our husband? Did we hear it correctly? Any wife would hit the ceiling after reading this. But what exactly did Umamah mean by the word ‘servant’? She didn’t imply that one should be inferior, enslaved or trampled, as we might immediately think. She meant serving our husbands with sincerity, winning their trust, being dependable in times of need and respecting them. Isn’t that the definition of a truly worthy servant? And what will be the consequence of this conduct? Our husbands will gladly serve us! Isn’t that also every married woman’s dream?

Umamah further described ten qualities of a remarkable wife, who will almost always be able to win the heart of her spouse:

The first and second advice is to be content in his company, and listen to and obey him. Sarah, a married lady in her thirties, observes: “We are so occupied with finding faults in our spouses that it is next to impossible to experience a feeling of contentment in each other’s company. We would rather sit in front of the TV and spend hours viewing our favourite heroes’ movies and shows, than sit even for a couple of minutes with our husband to enjoy his company. And then we complain when our husbands don’t give us time or would rather read the newspaper in the bathroom than be with us.”

Interestingly, we have also heard the generation of our grandmothers, when women would not even speak a harsh word to their other halves out of respect or fear of them. It was simply something unheard of, and so were disputes and divorces. Today, with a more defiant woman emerging on the scene, many husbands are literally spoken to no better than the Chowkidar of the house. Criticizing, taunting, misbehaving, ridiculing – all this is justified as confidence and liberalism. One may think that some wives today behave more like mothers-in-law towards their husbands rather than their spouses! Imagine Allah’s (swt) displeasure. It is understandable that there will always be arguments and disputes in a household. The point is not who is right or wrong. It is mainly a question of handling the situation with wisdom and dignity. Apparently, we have given up both.

The third and fourth advice for a wife is to always try to smell and look good. Now, this shouldn’t be too difficult. We generally dress up for others, especially when going out. It would be far more effective to do the same when staying at home or awaiting our spouses’ arrival. Hina shared: “I always used to be so pressed for time that whenever my husband arrived from work, I was a rotten mess – sometimes, all sweaty from frying onions in the kitchen. But after reading this piece of advice, I try to do all the smelly and sweaty stuff in time, so I can take a quick shower and change right before my husband comes home. When I did this for the first time, my husband instantly inquired: ‘Where are you off to?’”

The fifth and sixth quality a caring wife must have is to prepare meals on time and ensure peace in the house when her husband is asleep. If we consider ourselves, we will realize that we lose temper most when we are hungry or when our sleep pattern is disturbed in any way.

The seventh and eighth piece of advice is to manage servants and children effectively and take care of the husband’s wealth. It has been noticed that men stay away from home if they know that after a hectic day at work, they will find chaos at home. If the wife maintains a proper spending budget of the household and other expenses that the husband is paying for, she will show him that she appreciates his hard work. A friend once said: “It is really pitiful to notice that many women are constantly complaining in public, how little their husband makes and that it is almost impossible for them to survive.”

Finally, it is advised that a faithful wife should never disclose any of her husband’s secrets and always try to obey his orders. Huma Hassan says: “If spouses are like garments protecting and gracing each other, imagine your horror if your garment starts to reveal your waistline in public.” Our husband will never trust us if he suspects that we give away all his secrets.

Umamah Bint Al-Harith concluded: “Be careful, my daughter, of showing joy in front of him, when he is upset, and do not show sorrow in front of him, when he is happy.” That is all about using our common sense coupled with consideration.

The above counsel is about creating an individual, who cares about and is cautious of her own conduct. She demonstrates a high level of humanitarian values and, consequently, is a source of pleasure for those around her. I can’t possibly imagine a home of peace and love, without a wise woman, exhibiting the aforementioned qualities. Can you?

Text of Umamah bint Al-Harith’s Advice

“The first and second of them are: be content in his company, and listen to and obey him, for contentment brings peace of mind, and listening to and obeying one’s husband pleases Allah (SWT).

The third and fourth of them are: make sure that you smell good and look good; he should not see anything ugly in you, and he should not smell anything but a pleasant smell from you. Kohl is the best kind of beautification to be found, and water is better than the rarest perfume.

The fifth and the sixth of them are: prepare his food on time, and keep quiet when he is asleep, for raging hunger is like a burning flame, and disturbing his sleep will make him angry.

The seventh and eighth of them are: take care of his servants (or employees) and children, and take care of his wealth, for taking care of his wealth shows that you appreciate him, and taking care of his children and servants shows good management.

The ninth and tenth of them are: never disclose any of his secrets, and never disobey any of his orders, for if you disclose any of his secrets you will never feel safe from his possible betrayal, and if you disobey him, his heart will be filled with hatred towards you.”

Ali (rta) vs. a Jew

Vol 6 - Issue 4 Ali rta vs a jew

Once, during his Caliphate, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (rta) lost his armour. One day, he saw a Jew in possession of an armour he recognized as his own. Ali (rta) approached the Jew and asked him to return his armour. The Jew refused to do so and, instead, demanded that the matter be settled by the reigning Muslim Qadi (judge).

Hence, Ali (rta) and the Jew appeared before the Qadi to settle this dispute. Qadi Shurayh was a very competent judge from Yemen, who was famous for settling Fiqh related matters. He had performed the duties of a Qadi in Kufa during the caliphate of Umar Ibn Khattab (rta), and Usman Ibn Affan (rta) as well. He was well known for his integrity and insight.

When the judge saw Caliph Ali (rta) approach his court, he stood up for him out of respect. Ali (rta) requested him to stay seated. Qadi Shurayh took his seat. Ali (rta) initiated the conversation: “I have lost my armour and found the same in this man’s possession.”

Qadi Shurayh asked the Jew: “Do you have anything to say?”

The Jew replied: “This is my armour and I own it.”

Qadi Shurayh inspected the armour in dispute and addressed the Caliph: “By Allah! Your claim is correct. This, indeed, is your armour. However, the court of law demands that you produce two witnesses to substantiate your claim.”

Ali (rta) produced his slave Qanbar as his first witness, who testified in favour of Ali (rta). Then, the Caliph produced his sons Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) as his second witnesses to testify for him.

Qadi Shurayh stated: “I accept the testimony of your slave; however, I still need another witness, as the testimony of your sons is not acceptable.”

The Caliph said: “By Allah! I heard Umar Ibn Khattab (rta) narrate the Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth stating that Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) are the leaders of the youth in Paradise.”

The judge replied: “By Allah! This is the truth.”

Ali (rta) demanded: “Then why are you unable to accept the testimony of the leaders of the youth in Paradise?”

Qadi Shurayh explained: “Because they are your sons, and a son cannot testify in favour of his father.”

Hence, the judge settled the dispute in favour of the Jew and handed over the armour to him.

The Jew remarked in absolute astonishment: “The Amir-ul-Momineen of the Muslims brought me in the court of his own appointed judge, and the same judge gave a verdict against the Caliph. And the Caliph accepted the verdict gracefully without any resistance.”

Then, the Jew glanced towards Ali (rta) and continued: “Amir-ul-Momineen! Your claim is true. This armour definitely belongs to you. You had lost it the other day and I found it. Therefore, it is your property. Please, accept it.”

The Jew then recited his Shahadah: “I testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”

Ali (rta), the wise and honourable Caliph, replied: “I give you not only my armour but also my horse.” 

Adapted from “Sunehray Faislay” published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

Quran Journal for Young Ones

Vol 6 - Issue 4 Quran journalBy Erum Asif

“I love the Quran. Nothing inspires, enlightens and soothes me like the Quran. I have to read it everyday!”

That’s the way I want to feel about the Quran. I want the same for my children. But we have a long way to go.

I know of a Muslimah who would keep the Quran open at her home constantly and would read from it every time she passed by it. A brother had a copy of the Quran at his desk, and read a page or two before beginning work and attending to visitors. Such an attachment to the Quran and such consistency is truly desirable.

To foster a bond with the Quran, we started a “Quran and Hadeeth Journal” for my daughter, when she was five. This suited her because she enjoyed writing. We went through short Surahs and Ahadeeth, doing word-for-word translation for most Surahs. We tried to understand the Quran’s message by way of conversations, drawings and stories.

Talk, draw and write

We began with Surah Al-Fatihah. A word-for-word translation sheet (created in MS Word) was pasted in the journal (see below). If a word had more than one part, it was shown in a different colour.

ﺍﻠﻌﺎﻠﻤﻴﻥ ﺭﺏ
ﺍﻠﺭﺤﻴﻡ ﺍﻠﺭﺤﻤﻥ


I used easy words for a 5-year old, such as: ar-Rahman – very kind, Sirat – way, ad-Daalleen – who are lost. If I used a tough word, I would explain it to her.

I wrote the Ayahs in Arabic and we coloured it. We then drew pictures with a brief caption to capture the meaning of Surah Al-Fatihah. We didn’t draw humans and animals, but instead showed people by drawing a blank circle for the head and a triangular sort of body below; then, we enjoyed drawing colourful clothes on them.

Here is a selective look at the Ayahs of Al-Fatihah:

Alhumdulillah: We drew pictures of what we are thankful to Allah (swt) for: “I am a Muslim.” (drew a Masjid and Quran) “I have Baba.” “I have dolls.” “I will get a new bed, Insha’Allah.” “Allah has prepared Jannah for us.”

Rabbil-Alameen: Being the Rabb, Allah (swt) cherishes and nurtures creation from its initial stage to its maturity. As an example, we drew a seed and next to it – a tall plant.

Maliki Yawmid-Deen: We drew figures with a smile, receiving their ‘record’ in their right hands, and figures with black faces receiving their ‘record’ in left hand. We wrote that Allah (swt) is pronouncing the judgement.

Ihdinas-Sirat-Al-Mustaqeem: We drew a straight, vertical line, and wrote ‘ﺍﷲ’ at the top. To its left and right, we drew slanting lines, writing ‘Shaitan’ on them. The idea comes from a similar diagram that the Prophet (sa) drew on sand with a stick.

Siratal-Lazeena Anamta Alayhim: We drew flowers, with the names of prophets and Companions written on them. They are among the people Allah (swt) has favoured.

Ghayril-Maghdoobi Alayhim Wa Lad-Daalleen: The Prophet (sa) mentioned the Jews and Christians as ‘Al-maghdoob’ and ‘ad-daalleen’ respectively. Their paths are the paths we need to avoid. We wrote ‘Al-maghdoob’, then drew the Jewish star below it. We showed a ‘person’ concealing Allah’s (swt) commands in the sacred book with his hand. (This incident took place in the Prophet’s (sa) life). Another figure was throwing the sacred book behind the back (implying utter disregard for divine guidance), while a third figure declared interest as Halal. For ‘ad-daalleen’ we drew the Christian cross, and depicted a figure saying ‘Jesus, son of God.’

A blog titled “Educating the Muslim Child” had a charming story about Surah Al-Fatihah called “Two Rabbits and a Beautiful Sound”. We pasted its printout in the journal.

This journal-making wasn’t a tense, ‘no-talking’, ‘gotta-finish-it’ exercise. We wanted it to be a warm experience – one that touches the heart and leaves a mark, instead of a page-filling academic exercise. It was accompanied by conversation about what we were doing (sometimes drifting into another topic), attending to the younger kids, incorporating my daughter’s ideas, letting her write and draw as she wanted to, and not expecting 15-year-old’s work from a 5-year-old.

We are currently doing Surah An-Naba. We write the Ayah in Arabic, their transliteration and translation. We then illustrate them through pictures, which we colour. For example, Ayah 7: Waljibala awtada (And the mountains as pegs?): We draw mountains with their underlying roots, which give them a peg-like shape. The book “A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam” shows this.


Surah Humazah describes the woeful end of slanderers, backbiters and those, who amass wealth selfishly. After the word-for-word translation, we created pictorial stories. One showed a girl slandering and backbiting: “Hah! You don’t even know how to pray!” “Ha, ha! Look at her silly dress.” “You come from an inferior family.” “Aunt Z. is a miser.”

We also wrote: “J. loves to buy dresses. She counts them every day. She hates to share her things with others. When her mother asks her to give clothes for the needy, she gives bad ones.” My daughter drew a cupboard with lots of clothes inside.

Drawing on other sources

Many interesting resources to support learning the Quran await us. We drew on them too.

For Surah Quraish, we inserted a map showing the winter and summer journeys of Quraish. It was taken from the well-researched ‘Atlas of the Quran’ (Darussalam Publishers).

Surah Al-Maoon depicts the person oblivious of the final Judgement. He repulses the orphans and cares least about the poor man’s hunger. An article in the newspaper poignantly covered a Sharjah organization that assists orphans. It contained heart-rending interviews of the orphans, how they feel and what they want from us. That article became a part of our journal. We included two printouts from the charity Muslim Hands website: their Orphan Sponsorship programme and the Food Aid and Iftar Programme.

The Quran and Ahadeeth journal should inspire us to act. And Surah Al-Maoon did that. It made my daughter want to feed the needy. So we gave food packs to our building’s hard-working cleaners.

Help at hand

These works (besides numerous Urdu resources) help us in understanding the Quran:

  • “Word-for-word translation of the Quran” (Al-Huda International)
  • “The Quran in Plain English for children and young people” by Iman Torres-Al Haneef (The Islamic Foundation)
  • “The Noble Quran” (Darussalam)
  • “A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran,” by John Penrice (Darul-Ishat, Karachi)

Online help for teaching Quran to your children

A commendable work by a Muslim mother, with help on Quran and many subjects:

Here is a yahoo group you can join: muslimhsers – Education for Muslim Children. Check out the Files and Links section for help on Quran.

The Perfect Recipe

Vol 6 - Issue 4 The perfect recipe

A marriage is usually said to be a blend of many different ingredients. These ingredients, on the face of it, seem quite common from one marriage to another. Every couple will name these ingredients to be love, understanding, loyalty and friendship; however, the way in which these are put together to form the perfect blend varies for every couple. And that is what actually makes every marriage unique.

Hiba spoke to a few newly-married wives to get their views on what they feel are the two most essential ingredients of a successful marriage.

“There are many actually – respect, forgiveness and understanding,” said Sarah Anwar, who’s been married for a year and a half. “Keeping faith in your spouse and in his/her decisions is very important, since it gives you the feeling of being secure and also makes your spouse feel more confident. Then comes respect. Once you’ve lost it, it’s gone forever. You might not believe in giving personal space to your spouse, but respecting the other person for being him/herself is very important. After all, we all have our own shortcomings. By understanding I don’t mean taking everything your relationship has to offer, but it’s better to try to see the other person’s perspective at times.”

Hania Tahir, who’s also been married for a year and a half, interestingly felt that honeymoon was an essential ingredient of any marriage. “It’s the magic ingredient that strengthens your bond and allows you to become comfortable with each other in a way that early married life with a million dinners a week can never allow. Strolling around in a foreign country, staying out late and talking, talking, talking for hours and hours brings you closer better than anything else. I credit it for laying the foundation for my marriage,” she said.

“The second ingredient is to pick your battles. I cannot stress how important this is. There may be a thousand million things that bother you, but many of these are tiny and not worth fighting over. Before I got married, I’d have scoffed at the concept of apologizing even if you don’t mean it, but I’ve since learnt that that’s far better than both of you glaring daggers at each other,” she added.

“Willingness to cooperate with each other and trusting one’s spouse are the essential ingredients of a successful marriage,” said Faria Saleem, a wife, with a year of family life behind. “There are many issues which have to be handled diplomatically, if you want to avoid unnecessary conflicts. You have to know when to speak and when to remain silent.”

“Trust and compromise are very essential in a marriage,” said Javeria Idrees, who’s been married for a couple of years and has a baby daughter. “Trust will keep your life going and compromise within the boundaries of right and wrong will create more room for both of you.”

With new couples being aware of their issues and the ways to make a marriage work, why then does conflict arise? And what is the best way of dealing with that conflict?

“Talking the problems out,” said Sarah Anwar promptly. “You don’t have to be disrespectful while doing so, but if you keep the lava simmering inside, it’s going to take all the good things away, when it bursts. Compromise and tolerance are major factors of conflict resolution. Always believe in your spouse – whatever he is doing is for your own happiness. Plus, every individual is unique; we have conflicts even with our siblings, who are brought up by the same parents under the same condition in the same house. So how can we expect a person, who has lived his/her life in different conditions and is brought up differently, to be exactly like us?”

Hania Tahir was all for diplomacy. “Don’t raise your voice!” she advised. “Say all the horrible things you want, but disguise your tone. It makes a world of a difference. Pretend you’re being nice. At the end, profess (exaggerated, if need be) declarations of love. If you’ve exhausted your persuasion supplies, and the spouse irritatingly continues to disagree with you, swallow your pride and give up your own stance. At the end of the day, your choice is between sticking to your guns and maintaining a smooth relationship. I pick the latter, and if it means giving up a few things along the way, none of them are more important than a snarl-free marriage. Oh, and the best way to drive your spouse up the wall is to bring up something from a previous fight or something annoying you noticed two months ago. If anything comes up, resolve it as soon as possible. If more than two days pass and you’ve not mentioned it, give it up and move on. It’s not fair to your poor unsuspecting partner.”

Talking to these young wives and mothers gives the impression that they are indeed aware of the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of a marriage. It is also very encouraging to note that, based on their personal experiences, they are more inclined towards diplomatic handling of issues, rather than an emotional, spontaneous response. With so many marriages on the rocks these days, one can only hope that these young women will set an example for those around them. After all, as one mother put it: “It is not easy to give up your personal space in this age of individualism, but, eventually, you have to trust the other person in doing as minor things for you as ironing.”