15 Tips to Raising Great Children

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children1) Start by teaching them the importance of worshipping only Allah (swt): The best thing any Muslim parent could ever teach  their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that Allah (swt) is One and no one is worthy of worship except Allah (swt).
2) Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness. If we are kind to our children, they in turn would show kindness to others. Our Prophet (sa) was the best example in being kind to children.
3) Teach them examples: Here are some tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Islamic values of Muslim heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real heroes such as Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn Khattab, Uthman Bin Affan, Ali Bin Abi Talib and others. Tell them how Muslim leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world, and won the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
4) Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Islamic lectures. The Prophet (sa) would often put children in the front row when he spoke to the people.
5) Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel they are important members of the family; and that they have a part to play in the growth and well being of the family.
6) Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them your company.
7) Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them, and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Islamic deeds and deeds of moral value.
8) Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private.
9) Sports: The Prophet (sa) encouraged sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended- as long as the children maintain their Islamic identity, wear appropriate clothes and do not engage in unnecessary mixing.
10) Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function, and you will find them eager to help you out again.
11) Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are.
12) Don’t be friends: It is common in the West for parents to consider their children as friends. In Islam, it doesn’t work that way. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them; keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you, and ask you questions when they have any.
13) Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in the act of Salah (Salat). Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for Fajr and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of Salah so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.
14) Emphasize the Halal: It is not always good to say: “this is Haram, that is Haram”. While you must educate them on Haram things, Islam is full of Halal; and tell your children to thank Allah (swt) for the bounties He has bestowed on them- not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that hear, arms and legs, and the ultimate blessing, Islam in their hearts.
15) Set an example: As parents, you are the best example the children can have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Islam is filled with Divine advices to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Muslims so their children will try to emulate them. If you don’t take Islam seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to acquaint them with Islamic heroes. As a parent, you should be their number one hero.

Make a Hijab Deal – Conceal, and Do Not reveal!

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

“I don’t understand the purpose of this piece of cloth,” says the voice over the phone. “It only covers the head. Everything else can be seen.”

“That is why I choose to wear the outer garment that fully covers the body, as well as, the face cover,” I reply, jumping through the loophole in his argument.

He immediately backpedals.

“You know who wears that?” His voice rises. “You don’t know the kind of women who wear that, you live a sheltered life.”

“Yes,” I say. “I do know. Prostitutes.”

He is surprised, not having expected me to know the answer. He goes off on a tangent, asking me how would I like it if I talked to him with him having a piece of cloth over his face, or how would I like it if I had “three other mothers” (his reference to the Islamic allowance for a man to keep up to four wives), and other spiraling circles of conversation. After an exchange of questions and answers, he said, “Well, then, it’s just a matter of faith.”

How I came to have this conversation over the phone with my father’s friend, who is a doctor, is irrelevant. What was said in the conversation is highly relevant, as it highlights the attitude of people towards the Quranic commandment for women to observe Hijab.

I would like to highlight some points about the girls who observe Hijab (whether it is just head and front cover, or with outer garment, or with face cover, or any combination of the three).

1. Hijabi girls are not allergic to males, or to marriage. I did not discover this opinion until one day, an acquaintance said out of the blue, “You don’t want to get married, right?” which is a way of saying, “You don’t find men attractive, right?” I observed head cover and outer garment then- not the face cover, and still she thought I was against marriage. Why? Not because of my dressing only, but because I did not talk about boys the way the other girls did. I did not discuss which cute boys I had seen when I went out shopping last weekend, I did not list my crushes, I did not share which actors I found attractive, I did not keep wallpapers of actors.

People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

As I know the state of my own inner thoughts only and not anyone else’s; here is a sneak peek: yes, I did see cute boys when I went out. I did have crushes on some of the males I interacted with during school (and later, on work). I did have celebrity crushes when I used to watch movies, and to tell the truth, even a photo shopped poster of a movie glimpsed while driving by is enough to plant the seed of a crush. I used to save wallpapers of computer animated characters from video games, and yes, some of them did feature attractive men. What I did not do was share these thoughts with my friends, because I did not want to give power to them. You give power to thoughts, and they rule your consciousness. I did not want to sit with my friends and cook daily servings of crushes and infatuations. What ruled my consciousness were my own daydreams of my own made-up characters in my own fantasy world. I used to think I was merely making up stories as a writer, until something I read made me realize that I was substituting my own imaginary “ideals” for the flesh-and-blood members of the opposite sex in this world. Yes, my imagination did include attractive male characters as well. Make of that what you will, but I eventually learned not to daydream so much. I didn’t want to take my own whims and desires as my God.

2. Hijabis have nothing to hide. Sure, there’s the girl who will use her head cover to hide her earphones while she listens to music in a packed college classroom. There’s the girl who will use the same method to cheat in exams. Yes, I am coming to the juicy part: there are females who wear face cover to hide their identity so that they can engage with males in pre-marital or extra-marital relations, or as I mentioned in the conversation in the beginning of the article, they do it in order to sell their bodies. People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

The words “Khimar” (head and chest cover) and “Jilbab” (body cover i.e. outer garment) come in the Quran. Whether face cover is included in the word “Jilbab” is the only point of disagreement between scholars. Yes, contrary to the public assumption that all Islamic dress code for females is open to question, there is actually no ignoring these two words, “Khimar” and “Jilbab”, in the Quran.

This brings me to an important point. Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today. Whether or not, you choose to obey a particular verse of the Quran or not, you cannot try to change its meaning in order to make yourself feel safe and comfortable. You cannot pretend that these words are not in the Quran. Even if you believe from the depth of your heart that the Hijabi sister you see is up to no good, you should create excuses for her in your mind. After all, it’s not your job to judge people, that job is Allah’s (swt). Good thing He didn’t give it to you and me, right? Our heads would explode.

Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today.

3. The default setting of a Hijabi is not “sexually frustrated”. Yes, there are holier-than-thou Hijabi sisters and they just have frowning, or sad facial expressions naturally; but that doesn’t mean that all they need is “a good make out”. If you claim to support feminine freedom and are against “the patriarchy”, consider giving your Hijabi sisters a break, too. On the inside, they are creations of emotions, thoughts and conflicts, just like you.

All this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing assumptions about Hijabi Muslims. Whether this article gives you answers, or creates more questions in your mind, depends on your perspective. I will end this article, the way I ended the conversation with my father’s friend: “It’s all a matter of faith.”

Pearl in the Shell

pearls4Until I wore the Hijab, I had no idea of how it feels to be a victim of prejudice. When I covered my head, I opened my mind. I’m Malak Nawfal and currently in high school. I’ve always been a cool person. I’m bubbly, smart and pretty. I was welcomed and accepted everywhere.

Looking back, I always mourn the years I spent in complete ignorance of who I was. I was a born Muslim but not a practicing one. And I did not want to practice. I thought Islam basically told you to stop doing anything fun and spend your life in worship. Hey, I wanted to live my life. I didn’t like people, who were too religious, because then it would be a “You’ll go to hell!” lecture.

The Hijab signifies the identity of a Muslim woman, but the examples the Hijabi girls set for me were far from ideal. I saw them with boyfriends, tight clothes and heavy makeup. After all, if they did such things, then why care for an extra piece of cloth on one’s head? I thought so, until I heard those two men conversing.

It was Sunday and I was at the mall with my friends. It was just four of us: Sarah, Justin, Mikael and I. By two o’clock, we were feeling hungry. The three went off to order pizza, while I sat at the table, lest someone take it. As I looked around, I became aware of two men talking. Through the noise, I could barely hear them. Eavesdropping is rude, but when you’re left alone, what do you do? Anyway, the men were talking about girls that pretty much got my attention.

“Man I tell ya I could eat ‘em girls in one bite’, I heard one say.

“Darn right. Ya talk to them all nice ‘n they’ll fall all over ya. Then ya ditch ‘em an’ get a new one.” answered the other.

I sat still. They were talking of girls, as if they were objects! Toys!

“Yep most of ‘em swooning girls’re ugly anyway. They slap on lots ‘a cream but can’t hide that black skin.” They started laughing and I wondered, if that was what most men thought of girls?

In books and movies the men loved their women, and every girl hoped for her Prince Charming someday. I dived into their conversation again.

“You ever gonna marry man?”

“Me? No. It’d never work. Ya marry one, love her fer a few days. By the end ‘a the year ya wanna strangle her. Women’re vicious. Ya marry one ’coz ‘a her looks and she turns out to be a monster. If I marry it’ll be ‘coz she’s a good person inside.”

I was cold and sweaty. I ate my pizza in silence. I kept thinking: “Do Justin and Mikael feel like that? Are we just toys?”’

“Hey, Malak, what’s wrong? You’re real silent.”

“I’m fine.”

I replied that I was not fine. I just heard men discussing girls like trash. My world had been shaken for God’s sake. As we made our way out the door, I glanced warily at every man I passed. I just wanted to go home and think about this.

After returning home, I made my way upstairs. I ignored the greetings of Salman, my brother, and Nayla, my sister. My father is an Arab, but he studied in America. My mom is American, born and bred. I took a shower and went to sleep.

Next day, school felt like a prison that I couldn’t escape. I listened to nothing during class and failed every pop-quiz the teacher pulled. That night, I went out with my friend Khadijah. She wore Hijab but put on heavier makeup than I. I liked her a lot. Today, with those men on my mind, I asked her: “Khadijah, what’s the Hijab for?” She shrugged. “I think it’s for hiding your hair and to cover your beauty, but I just wear it, because my mum makes me do it.” That didn’t make sense. I knew even with the Hijab you could look beautiful. Your hair was just one of those features that made you pretty. I didn’t want a guy to judge me by my appearance, but by my heart.

From that day on, I stopped trying to look glamorous. I wanted to see, whether people still adored me. They didn’t. My mom did not like it. She told me: “Nowadays people don’t care about personality. You just have to have a good body.” I was so angry. “Then I don’t care about them either! I can live without them!” I bursted. I was right, but I still felt incomplete.

Salman came to my rescue. He said, “You said the Hijab didn’t make any sense. Let’s see, if it does.” So for the next few weeks that’s what we did – research about the Hijab. A converted Muslim talked about it on YouTube as it being an identity clarifier – a sign that this woman was to be respected. She said it represents our uniqueness from other women. There were millions of women out there on display. The ones, who are covered, were secrets and mysteries. Only after marriage their lucky husbands would uncover the mystery. It was like any other prince charming story I’d ever thought of, though it was more exciting. I read somewhere, “A pearl is pure and precious. It does not float in the sea but is hidden away in its shell, opened by only the fortunate. You, my dear sister, are the pearl, too.”

It made sense. Covering meant hiding your beauty. At the same time, Islam urges us to look clean and presentable. To our husband, we can be much more than that. My lucky husband – I smiled. It felt nice to be the pearl. “I’ve made up my mind,” I said to Salman, “I’m going to start the Hijab. It makes sense.” Salman hugged me. Dad was fine with it. Mom was not. We argued and argued. I wanted my place in the world; she said I wouldn’t get one with that cloth on my head. So I didn’t go anywhere. Not to the mall or school or anywhere else. Dad thought it had gone too far. He said mom was being paranoid. I agreed.

On a bright, sunny Monday morning I pinned up my hijab and smiled. I was the pearl now and nothing could stop me from shining. No insult, prejudice or any amount of reasoning could stop me from shining. I was pearl with a shell and that was something none could break. Not now, not ever. Insha’Allah.

Waving Goodbye to Disney

The Old Walt Disney Castle LogoMariam experienced a dilemma, after going through the most popular Disney videos: Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Tangled and the like. Her daughter Hannah was a die-heart fan of the Disney movies. She was soon out of her ocean of thoughts, as she caught a glimpse of Hannah, who was flying with happiness after receiving a gift from her aunt – a dress that resembled the one worn by Cinderella, her favourite Disney character.

“Happily Ever After is Only in Jannah.” This expression, which she had recently read in an Islamic book, was banging on her level of consciousness and unconsciousness unceasingly.

“What am I teaching my girl? Am I myself pushing her in the world of deception and fiction? Will it not create a rift between the real and false? Would it not create a dissonance?” A series of questions flowed into her mind adding volume to her vulnerability.

Hannah, wearing that pretty Cinderella dress, was enjoying her meal with father, and for the first time, she did not seem to gain her mother’s warm look and praise.

“Daddy, see how pretty this dress is,” she was bouncing with delight.

Am I myself pushing her in the world of deception and fiction? Will it not create a rift between the real and false?

“My girl is the prettiest girl in the world!” Danial was overwhelmed to see her. “And she is fairer than snow white. And one day her prince will come and take her away from us to her palace, where there will be dwarves to serve my girl.”

“….and I will live happily ever after with my prince,” added Hannah.

Mariam used to be part of these discussions. She was the one who would always uplift and praise her daughter, show her hopeful dreams and a bright happy future ahead with her husband-to-be. It is a fact that mothers start to reflect on their daughter’s wedding the day they are born. They hope and pray for the unsurpassed, super perfect soul mate for their daughters.

After putting her daughter to sleep, she thought of sharing her recent thoughts with Danial. She tried her level best to phrase her words in such a way that they wouldn’t sound judgemental and cynical. “Dani, don’t you think we are communicating ample details of Disney stories to Mariam and thus leading her expectations to rise to a level of unmet fulfilments about her future marriage and husband?” she asked with a concerned look.

A widespread smile touched his lips. He said, “She is just seven years old; she does not know all this. It is just a story. Come on, you cannot be serious about it.” His statement caused her jaw to drop down in shock. Regaining composure, she said: “It is a serious matter. We are instilling falsehood in her perception and pushing her into the world of deception. We are making her believe that after getting married with her prince, she will have a happy life.”

“Do you remember Hijab, who was studying psychology?” she exclaimed anxiously.

He raised his eyebrow and paused for a while, as if he was sorting out her name from his long term memory. “Oh yes! That weird lady!” he exclaimed, with an outburst of laughter. He knew it very well that Mariam is very touchy about her friends, especially that one. He just wanted to make the situation lighter. But it did not make any change.

Ignoring his prank, she continued: “The other day, she was telling me about the subliminal cues these cartoons depict. She quoted that one cartoon named Lion King which was about a lion named Simba. According to a research, the wind that caused Simba’s hair to move had a message in disguise. With naked eye one cannot see, but mind being the master piece can absorb the meaning without any deliberate effort. When the wind was seen in slow motion, the word ‘sex’ was written.” She looked so stunned and worried communicating all this.

This information caught Danial’s attention, too. “Are you sure about it?” he exclaimed.

“She said so. Allah (swt) knows best. But we cannot deny the fact that cartoon nowadays are full of filth and sexuality. Apart from the ‘happily after notion’, they are also giving some really dangerous and unacceptable messages, which are gradually seeping into our culture and becoming a part of our norms.”

“And yes, how can we ignore that birthday party incident that took place in school, where kids kissed on lips after cake cutting ceremony. According to them, they were dating, and the Disney movies end by this kissing scene. We are making it so absorbent.”

“Hmm-mm,” he sighed. Lost in his thoughts, he uttered: “The discussion has reminded me of my mother. She used to say that this world is a prison for a believer. Life in this world will be full of pain, sorrows and tests, but the later life will be eternal, loaded with happiness, ease, laughter and tranquillity. It is we, who decide, which life to be treasured. If we keep our focus here then we are at a total loss as we are sacrificing permanent peace for temporary peace. We are so involved in this world’s deception that we don’t even consider the righteousness of our thoughts and actions, of our intention and preferences.”

Mariam was at ease now. It is an immense blessing, when both partners are on the same page.

We are so involved in this world’s deception that we don’t even consider the righteousness of our thoughts and actions, of our intention and preferences.

“So what can we do now? I mean, since we have induced so much love for Disney world in Hannah’s heart – how to detox it?” she asked him.

He said: “It will be difficult, but nothing is impossible, if we really intend to do it. First of all, together we should supplicate. Repent for our mistake and beg for Allah’s (swt) aid.”

“Divert her interest to such other activities as baking, for example,” Mariam added her suggestion. “Yes, this sounds good. In addition to this, we can talk to her about Jannah, its gardens and eternal life and will try to shift her idea of happiness to it. And make her greedy to do good deeds, in order to acquire Jannah,” he added. “Most importantly, we should tell her stories about the lives of Asiya (ra) and prophet Noah (as), who, despite their piety and spirituality, ended up getting bad spouses, which became a source of pain, not pleasure. This will make her realize that marriage is not all about ‘happily ever after’; likewise, that your goodness will not guarantee you the pleasures of life in this world.”

She concluded by saying: “So true! It is our trial period. Our real home is Jannah, and its pleasure and happiness should be our sole aim. In this world, bad things can happen with good people, too. This all has brought the negligence in us towards reality.

As the clock struck two at night, they finally retired to bed, having discussed their vision and formed a firm strategy to follow with the help of Allah (swt).

Marital Blues: He Loves Who?

divideredThis is the dilemma most of the men around encounter, as soon as they step into a marital relation. The first few months are a bliss, since there is absence of responsibilities and family pressures. He is solely a husband enjoying with his better half and guarding and combating for his beloved’s rights and desires. He cannot imagine a single thorn to prick her feet that would cause her pain or anguish. However, the picture starts to dim, as the time passes by. Later things start to deteriorate, when he is being questioned by his emotional mother and sentimental wife. The tug leaves him despicable and perturbed. “What can I do to make each of them happy?” is a common question that pops up on the surface of his consciousness. He starts to avoid and ignore the situations that direly require his supervision, wise decision and problem solving. He spends most of his time secluded in his own cave. The love is now out of the window.

In this relationship, man plays an immense role. He can make it bloom or he can cause it to wither. Whether he likes it or not, but he has to play judiciously as he is the one around whom all affairs revolve. Women are possessive by nature. One of my male teacher said, women are possessive. It is all about their family – its wellbeing, its health and all related to their own kith. For this reason, it is natural for a mother to feel insecure and jealous when her son’s attention, love, care, and time is divided. She cannot tolerate the shift and thus, resentment follows towards the new addition. In this situation, the man has to be cautious of the mother’s feelings and tackle accordingly by giving her time and constant reassurance about the status she still holds in his life. On the other hand, the wife who is newly wed to him craves for his attention and time, love and care. He should balance the two entities with insight and not to make any one of them feel unloved and ignored.

In this relationship, man plays an immense role. He can make it bloom or he can cause it to wither. Whether he likes it or not, but he has to play judiciously as he is the one around whom all affairs revolve

There are some common points to ponder on before a man reacts.

Firstly, a woman who is now your wife is not an outsider. She is a part of you and your life. She is not a third person. So do not, I stress, do not make her feel like a fish out of water. It is not about her and us (you and your biological family). When you expect her to treat and take care of your own family like hers, then make her feel a part of the family too. If you are going to shun her and talk behind her back; make detail discussions about her attitude and behaviour to others behind doors; complain to your parents, especially your mother, about her actions or words that you find offending etc. – it all will make her feel isolated. When you expect her not to bad mouth about your family, and some issues that she might be facing with people around; and to deal with the shortcomings with tolerance and oft forgiveness- then you are expected to be as generous as you want her in regard to her short comings and not to bad mouth, complain or nag about her bad points to your family.

Being a man, you are held responsible to earn the bread and butter for the family. You are made the head (Ameer) of the family. Working outside by dealing with people, and surviving peak rush hours of traffic, bearing losses, or not meeting up the desired target may make you vulnerable and depressed. As you expect home and your spouse to be pleasant, the same is expected of you. Pouring down your frustration and tiredness on your spouse and kids is not at all justified.  How can we forget the example of our beloved Prophet (sa) (may peace be upon him) who used to be playful and loveable towards his wives, and he used to pamper them too even when he was given such a difficult and challenging work of Dawah (spreading Allah’s (swt) Deen) and also facing a lot of felicity and turmoil.

A man should neither misbehave with his mother nor speak to her in a loud tone, specifically when the spouse or the kids are around. A mother who has taught you how to speak is not at all worthy of your foul language and raised tone. Treat her in a respectable way, even if you do not agree to her terms and conditions. She may feel degraded in front of others and this will give birth to a grudge in her heart against your spouse (as she might feel her responsible for this outburst of anger and misbehaviour). Satan is everywhere and he loves to instill assumptions in our hearts. Accusations are a result of these whispers of Satan mostly.

You should be open to both entities and listen to both sides- instead of being judgmental by favouring one over another.

You are required to be a man with his own set of rules; forget those days of leniency and childhood. It’s time to act like a grown up instead of crying and complaining. Safeguarding the respect of both is crucial in attaining a good and friendly environment at home. You need to open your ears, but not to believe in everything you listen. At times what you see is not the truth but a manipulated and falsified lie. Do not turn a deaf ear to your spouse’s complaining by considering her guilty every time, and accusing her for things she did not do. Generalizing complains that you have got against her will break her into pieces, and will not earn anything but lack of trust in future. You should be open to both entities and listen to both sides- instead of being judgmental by favouring one over another.

Every person has his/her own right and worth. If anyone is given undue importance over the worth of another, it will create chaos. Limit other’s interference and influence over your decisions- especially governing your own family. It is all about maintaining a balance. You need to decide it yourself by an honest retrospection about your actions. And if you have decided it once that you are too good to be challenged, and you have done a lot to make things workable and your spouse happy- then no one can help you and your highly held ego. We all make mistakes and we all have some short comings. Wise is the one who does not drown in his ocean of I, me, and myself notion and in the pool of self-assumed goodness and sacrifices- but the one who looks beyond it and is ready to make a change. Where a female is involved, you have to deal with it like a fragile thing with lots of emotions, appreciation, recognition, and praise. And when two females are involved, then with these things, the aid of Allah (swt) is a must. Consistency is required when dealing with females, you are not required to do big lofty things, but little tiny things on a daily basis will do wonders. Calling her or texting her once in a day will make her more than happy. It is not necessary to buy expensive gifts every time, a surprise note or a flower will surely earn you grade points.

Every person has his/her own right and worth. If anyone is given undue importance over the worth of another, it will create chaos.

Supplicate to Allah (swt) for being accurate in your decisions and to be fair in dealings. Pray for tranquility and love among the family members and a heart that is ready to forgive and forget. Dwelling on past issues will not bear any good outcome. So stop being critical and sarcastic. When it is cancerous for you to compliment your spouse, it is cancerous for the relation when you pass nasty comments even under the banner of joke.

In a nutshell, marriage is for man and not for boys. It is not a platform to satisfy your sexual desires and physical needs. If you are not ready to bear the responsibility and to manage all affairs with a hard nerve, then kindly don’t opt to tie the knot soon.

How She Found God

stepping-stonesBeing a Muslim, I am very much interested in listening to the stories of reverts. It really fascinates me, how people of different religions come into Islam by their own will. And all of them have beautiful stories of how they are guided by Allah (swt) to the true religion and to the one and only God.

On Wednesday night, 10th December, 2014, a Columbian lady came to my house with her husband and two little daughters: Shazia and Hanan. Actually, she was my father’s old friend’s wife. She was clad in a black Abaya with a scarf neatly tucked onto her face. Her mother tongue was Spanish, and so her daughters could only speak Spanish. They all were sitting in our drawing room, when the two cuties saw the whiteboard in our basement, and they wanted to write on it. So we all went into the basement and they just started playing. A huge smile came on their faces and they got busy. It was then that the Columbian lady told me that she reverted to Islam in 2001, and before that she was a Catholic.

I always had this feeling of emptiness in my heart. I felt something was missing from my life. I wanted to pray to God directly.

I was excited to know that she was a revert. I wanted to know everything about her journey to Islam. So we went upstairs at the dining table to talk. She asked me where and what was I studying. And then told me that she herself was a costume designer. She went to USA to get her degree in costume designing, as she was very passionate about it. I then asked her; “So how did you find your way to Islam and Allah (swt)?” She said; “Okay, so let me tell you my story. But I want all of you to listen; your mother, brother and sisters.” So I called my siblings and mom. We all sat at the dining table, eager to hear from her. As she recently learned English from USA, so her English accent was a mixture of Spanish and American English, which sounded really sweet.

She started off with her story. “I always had this feeling of emptiness in my heart. I felt something was missing from my life. I wanted to pray to God directly. I used to go to the church and ask the nuns: ‘Why can’t I pray to God directly? Why do I have to pray to the priests and saints as intermediaries?’ She said that’s how it was. But her answer did not satisfy me. I told her again: ‘Tell me a way, through which I’ll be able to pray to God directly.’ She told me: ‘For that, you will have to become a nun.’ Obviously I never wanted to become a nun, as I wanted to get married and have kids. This caused so much chaos in my mind that I just told myself that I wasn’t a part of any religion. However, it was somewhere in my mind that there is a God… the One Who created me.” She told.

“There were some thoughts that kept coming to my mind. I knew deep inside that there was a Creator – the One, Who created me. And I really wanted to pray to Him. My mother was a very practicing Catholic, whereas my father wasn’t that practicing.”  “He’s an artist.” She added, looking at a painting on our staircase wall.

“I went to USA to do my career in costume designing, as I loved clothes. During my stay in USA, I used to live alone in an apartment with my younger brother. Since a very young age, my parents had taught me to be sincere and truthful. I used to tell myself: ‘Keep it clean.’ My brother had gotten into bad company, and his conduct was worsening day by day. I was getting very depressed for him, because back at home in Columbia, my parents were thinking that my brother was doing well, as he was living with his elder sister, i.e., me. But sadly, little did they know that the reality was very different. When I could not bear my brother’s ill behaviour any more, I told him to leave my apartment and live where ever he wanted. From then on, I was living alone. I was very disturbed. I started thinking about life, my purpose, God… I was in a state of utter confusion.

As I had to earn for my living, I started a part time job as an office cleaner. The job of cleaning is very beloved to me as God guided me to Himself through this simple job. So one day, I was alone in the office, and it was very late. I was exhausted. I went clumsily to get the cleaning equipment. Then, with a lot of effort, I cleaned the office. As I was tying the garbage bag, all of a sudden it fell on the carpet and all the tiny pieces of paper were scattered on the carpet that I just cleaned. Although I was drained out, I had to clean everything again – otherwise, my boss would get angry. So instead of bringing all the equipment again from the store, I sat on my knees and started picking up the mess with my hands. As I was on my knees, a very strange thought came to my mind; I am on my knees. I am humbling myself in front of whom? In front of this garbage just to please my boss? Why can’t I humble myself to God? Why?”

“You know, I used to write these thoughts in a diary. I still have that diary. Because I knew these thoughts were not mine. And I was scared I would forget these thoughts, so I secured them in the form of writing. I was lost in these thoughts. At times I felt like I was getting crazy. I never felt like partying anymore. My friends and I used to party a lot every weekend. But later, whenever they called me I used to refuse. I wanted solitude. I told them, “Leave me alone please.” I started thinking about life. I started thinking: whom am I worshipping? What are my desires? My career – costume designing? Is that it? Is this what I will be doing all life?

I felt empty and purposeless. I missed my brother, too. I prayed to God in my own way; I prayed that my brother comes back home. And after a few days, he did come back. This strengthened my belief that we can communicate to God directly without any intermediaries. And God listens to our prayers.

Now, when I look back, I realize that God was guiding me step by step. So one day, I was in my university library working on an assignment on the computer. I needed some assistance in setting up a program on the computer, so I went up to the librarian. She was a young lady, who wore Hijab. And she was writing an essay on Islam. I don’t know what happened to me, but I asked her if I could read her essay. She was astonished. She asked me, if I was interested in Islam. I told her: “I don’t mind reading your essay. I’m very open minded.” So she took my email address and gave her number to me. She said she’d mail me her essay. Her name was Zahida.

After she accepted Islam, she went back to Columbia. Since then, eighty people reverted to Islam… just by observing her mannerism.

So, I went home, read the essay. I was not intrigued by it. My depression phase continued… After some time, I had opted for another job of a house cleaner. Due to my parents’ upbringing, there were some values that were ingrained in my mind: to do every work with perfection and not to steal or lie in any case. Hence, I was a perfectionist even at cleaning. I used to clean every corner of the house. One day, I was cleaning this house, working too hard to clean it well. Suddenly, a thought struck my mind that why am I being so cautious while working? I am not stealing even though there’s nobody looking at me. Why? Because of recompense from my boss. I immediately got my answer to “What is life?” and “What is our purpose in life?”  I thought just like I’m working sincerely because of recompense from my boss; similarly, in life, whatever we do, there will be a recompense from God for all our deeds. I immediately went into prostration and I was crying like a baby, although I knew nothing about prostration. It was just automatic, by default. I thought this was a last push from God for me to come to the true path.

I went back home and wrote about all this in my diary. Then I called Zahida (that Muslim librarian) and told her: “I don’t know why I feel like crying and I feel like talking to you only Zahida.” I told her about my recent thoughts. She told me: “God does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear.” I found these words so beautiful and soothing. I cried when I heard them. I asked her, if these were her own words. She told me these are from the Quran. I told her I wanted Quran. She told me she would send it to me with translation in my language i.e. Spanish. In the meanwhile, she gave me Hadeeth-e-Qudsi (Hadeeth Qudsi are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) as revealed to him by the Almighty Allah (swt). Hadeeth Qudsi (or Sacred Hadeeth) are so named because, unlike the majority of Hadeeth which are Prophetic Hadeeth, their authority (Sanad) is traced back, not to the Prophet but to the Almighty) to read. The Hadeeth-e-Qudsi touched my heart deeply. I knew this was the true religion that I was searching for. And Alhumdulillah, I took my Shahada.”

After she accepted Islam, she went back to Columbia. Since then, eighty people reverted to Islam… just by observing her mannerism. Subhan’Allah! She told me: “My parents named me Monica. But after accepting Islam, I named myself Sakina.” Sakina means: tranquility, devout, God-inspired peace of mind.

When leaving our house, Sakina hugged me warmly. And her daughters just clung on to me. They didn’t want to leave. I asked Sakina how to say “Come back soon!” in Spanish. “Regrato pronto!” she told me cheerfully. I asked her the same for “I love you”. “Te quiero mucho!” she said. I kissed her lovely daughters saying “Te quiero mucho.”

This beautiful sister left such a deep impact on my soul. How she yearned to pray to Allah (swt), how she cried, while prostrating. And then I thought of how strong her faith was, Masha’Allah. Most of us are born in Muslim families, but we hardly strive to find Allah (swt) and build a connection with Him. The signs are everywhere… if only we strive to seek for Him.

An Exclusive Interview with Brother Wael Ibrahim


Hiba Magazine got in touch with Br Wael Ibrahim, Founder of Serving Islam Team HK and Connect Institute, and conducted the following brief interview:

Favorite book: “The Four Imams” (because it shows, how to respect differences in opinion)

Favorite family game: beach games.

Favorite screen time: “Nim”

Dream for the Ummah:

  • To focus on the most important issues and forget fighting over little matters.
  • To create a platform of education that would make our next generations intellectual enough to solve problems of the world.

Top 3 things every Muslim of today should do:

  • Focus on one’s own Iman and spiritual growth rather than others’.
  • Stop blaming each other.
  • Implement the teaching of the Quran and Sunnah and teach them.

A Fairytale Wedding: Boon or Bane?

lavish-weddingThe tweet of a foreigner, who was invited to a Pakistani wedding, read as follows: “I can’t believe it was a Muslim wedding. Everything about it was so non-Muslim!”

I was ashamed to have been shaken to reality by a non-Muslim. His words were harsh; but they were undoubtedly a big question to re-check our Iman. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. A few days ago, when I heard that my cousin was going to get married, I immediately fussed about how I had no decent dresses to wear, and did a quick mental calculation on how many dresses I needed for her pre and post wedding events. The disappointing part is that I am not the only odd one out here, or representing just a small pack of Muslims who have lost their identity. The majority of the population tends to go to any extreme and leaves no stone unturned in hosting a ‘fairytale wedding’- just like in the Prince Charming and Cinderella story. They do this not out of sheer self-happiness, but because they want to live up to the social standards and plan a better wedding than the ones they were a part of, because people will judge them on how well they could host an event.

Checklist for a successful wedding event

The wedding is assumed to be a successful one if it has a buffet dinner, music, dance floor, photography, large halls, mix gatherings and much more. Moreover, it’s not just a one day event either. Countless pre-event sessions take place that make you lose your sanity. Mehndi, Mayun, Dholki, bridal showers, hen party, stag party, Barat and Chauthi are just a few event sessions that gear up towards the main day. And it doesn’t end over here. The series of get-together that follows is endless, too.

If we study Islam and look into the teachings of Quran and Sunnah then we’ll find numerous Ahadeeth and verses that condemn the idea of making a wedding into an extravagant affair. The Prophet (sa) said: “The most blessed Nikah is the one in which least expenses are occurred.”

Simplicity is the best policy

Our Prophet (sa) implemented this during the wedding of her daughter Fatimah (ra). When the time came for Fatimah (ra) to go to Ali’s (ra) house after the Nikah, she was sent without any clamour, hue and cry, accompanied by Umm Ayman (ra). After the Isha Salah, the Prophet (sa) went to their house, took permission and entered. He asked for a basin of water, put his blessed hands into it and sprinkled it on both Ali (ra) and Fatimah (ra), and made Dua for them. The sovereign of both worlds gave his beloved daughter a silver bracelet, two Yemeni sheets, four mattresses, one blanket, one pillow, one cup, one hand-grinding mill, one bedstead, a small water skin and a leather pitcher. In this simple fashion, the wedding of the daughter of the leader of the worlds was solemnized. In following this Sunnah, a wedding becomes very simple and easy to fulfill. And it will surely ease our burden.

Allah (swt) states in the Holy Quran,

﴾وَيَأْكُلُونَ كَمَا تَأْكُلُ الْأَنْعَامُ﴿ “They eat like animals.”

This verse was for the Kuffar. It is a pity that the Muslims are now imitating the Kuffar in their eating habits and buffet style dinner in the weddings. Whereas the true benefactor of the Ummah announced it fourteen hundred years ago that we should not eat or drink, while standing.

Behind the scene of ‘the fairytale’

Following the Islamic junctions while marrying your daughters and sons won’t only satisfy your heart, but it’ll also purify your soul from all sorts of evils; to do better than others, to show-off your social standards and to attain praises from your friends and family about how grand your function was. We should realize that turning weddings into a festival is just a waste of money that pressurizes you to take loans and heavy debts. How will Allah (swt) put Barakah in the marriage, if you’ll start your new life with enormous debts on your shoulders to be paid in the near future? Will you be able to enjoy your new life to the full with the guilt and the constant reminder of a loan that needs to be returned? And most importantly, holding a grand and crowded affair becomes more of a hassle. How? The main reason being it’s hard to satisfy people because they’ll look for faults, even when you try your best to arrange a perfect event; and hence, it leads to unwanted fights and quarrels.

Pause and ponder

The rational approach that people don’t give any significance to is: what will you gain with all the compliments that people shower on you? Is it a key to ensure happiness of the bride and the groom in the long run? Or will it in any way be a source of salvation for your married daughter and son?

We all should realize that whatever we do should benefit us the most. And in the case of weddings, simplicity tops the most wanted list. It won’t just benefit us but will certainly be a wonderful approach for both the families that get united through the Nikah.

Avoid the ‘sip and gossip’ session

Invite a few needy people and feed them, the Sunnah of Prophet (sa) will be achieved. Feed the Walima guests in your house, which will save the money of the hall booking and that money can be given to your daughter or son, who is marrying. Remember, if thousands of people will attend the wedding, they will have unending complaints. People tend to make mountains out of mole hills because they’re born to do that. They’ll gossip, no matter if the wedding is simple or grand. So stop worrying about your social position and focus on what Allah (swt) and Prophet (sa) taught us. What if, God forbid, the bride and the groom decide to part ways after their marriage? Won’t you regret your decision of emptying your savings for something that didn’t work out?

Last but not the least, the point we should ponder over is: how can people actually feel satisfied with a typical Desi wedding, which does not make Allah (swt) happy and robs all the involved of His blessings?

Part 2 – Chaplain Yusuf Estes

lightMy father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became an ordained minister in the 1970’. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the “Prayer Tower” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were also strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggy and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson. Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording “Praise” tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly.

In 1991, he began doing business with a man in Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. Then my father mentioned that this man was a “Moslem.” I couldn’t believe my ears. A Moslem, no way! I reminded dad of the various things we had heard about these people, how they are terrorists, hijackers, kidnappers, bombers and who knows what else! Not only that, but they don’t believe in God, kiss the ground five times a day, and worship a black box in the desert. My father insisted that I meet him, however, and reassured me that he was a very nice person. So I gave in and agreed to the meeting.

I was looking for a huge man with flowing robes and a big turban on his head, a beard halfway down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead. But this man had no beard. In fact, he didn’t have hair on his head at all; close to bald. And he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. It didn’t make sense. I thought Muslims were terrorists and bombers; what was this guy all about?

I decided to get the right to work on him. He needed to be “saved”, and the Lord and I were going to do it! I was winning souls to the Lord day after day, and this would be a big achievement for me – to catch one of these “Moslems” and convert him to Christianity.

I asked him, if he liked tea, and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject – beliefs. We talked about the concept of God, the meaning of life, the purpose of creation, the prophets and their mission, and how God reveals His will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas. Constantly on business trips, we became good friends.

One day, I came to know that my friend, Muhammad, was going to move out of the home he had been sharing with someone and would be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and suggested that we could invite Muhammad to our big home in the country and he could stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and expenses, and he would be there whenever we were ready to travel. My father agreed, and Muhammad moved in.

I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed.

One day, while visiting a friend in the hospital, I met a Catholic priest in a wheelchair, who seemed extremely depressed. The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for over twelve years in South and Central America, in Mexico and even in New York’s “Hell Kitchen.” When he was released from the hospital, he needed a place to recover. Rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I suggested my dad that we invite him to come and live with us in the country, along with our families and Muhammad. It was agreed to by all.

After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe Jimmy Swaggart’s Good News for Modern Man). The priest, of course, had the Catholic Bible (which has seven more books it than Protestant Bible). We spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct, than we did trying to convince Muhammad about becoming a Christian.

In the meantime, I had finally read the Quran in translation. I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed. He also let me know that the Quran had been memorized in its entirety by hundreds of thousands of people in many different countries. Over the centuries, millions have memorized it completely and taught it to others, letter perfect without mistakes.

This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original language of the Bible had been a dead language for centuries, and the original documents had long been lost.

One day, the priest asked Muhammad, if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about the experience, and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what types of ceremonies they had performed. He said they just prayed and left. I said, “They left without any speeches or singing?” He said that was right.

A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Muhammad, if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque. But this time, they did not come back for a very long while. It became dark and we got worried that something might have happened to them. When they finally came in the door, I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

So I went upstairs to think about things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the subject. She then told me that she too, was thinking to enter Islam, because she knew it was the truth. I was really shocked then. I went downstairs and woke up Muhammad and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through. By the time he was ready to pray the morning prayer, I knew that the truth had become clear at last and then it was up to me to do my part. Behind my father’s house, I found an old piece of plywood and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction, in which Muslims pray five times a day.

In that position, with my head on the ground, I prayed, “O God, if You are there, guide me, guide me.” After a while, I raised my head and noticed something. No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky, nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights or flashes. What I noticed was a change inside me. I was aware then that it was time for me to stop lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really worked at being honest and upright man. So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was “washing” away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. I was now coming into a new, fresh life – a life based on truth and proof.

Around 11:00 a.m. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest (formerly known as Father Peter Jacobs) and the other Muhammad Abdul Rahman, and announced my Shahadah (testimony to the oneness of God and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa)). A few minutes later, my wife followed suit and gave the same testimony.

My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months, before he made his commitment. But he did finally accept Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local mosque. My father’s wife was the last to acknowledge that Jesus could not be a son of God, but that he was a mighty prophet of God.

Our children were taken out of Christian school and placed in Islamic schools. And now, ten years later, they were memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.

If I were to stop here, I’m sure you would have to admit that this is an amazing story. But it is not all. The same year I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee who came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while being in Baptist Seminary College! There were others as well. I recall the case of Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was compelled to ask him why he didn’t enter Islam. He replied, “What? And lose my job?” His name was Father John, and there is hope for him yet.

The very next year, I met a former Catholic priest, who had been a missionary for eight years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and embraced it. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas, Texas. Two years later while in San Antonio, Texas, I was introduced to a former Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia, who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it, from amongst Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians, non- denominational churches and even scientists who had once been atheists. Why? Because they all became aware of the truth. I suggest to any seeker of truth the following:

  • Open your mind, heart and soul.
  • Clear away all prejudices and biases.
  • Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in the language you understand the best.
  • Take time.
  • Read and reflect.
  • Think and pray.
  • Continue asking the One who created you to guide you to the truth.
  • Keep this up for a few months and be regular in it.
  • Above all, do not let others who are poisoned in their thinking influence you while you are in this state of “rebirth of the soul.”

The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the universe. If you truly love Him, then He already knows it, and He will deal with each of us according to what is in our hearts.

May Allah (swt) guide you on your journey to truth. And may He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life. And peace to you and guidance from Allah (swt), the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer, of all that exists.

Source: “An Undeniable Fact – Prominent Church People Enter Islam” by Dr. Abdurahim bin Mazher Al- Malki. Excerpt printed by permission of the publisher Dar Abul-Qasim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (www.abulqasimbooks.com).           

How to Combat a Delicate Situation

which_way[1]In many a circumstances, it so happens that a situation arises when a person responsible finds himself unable to overcome a grave problem. A delicate situation comes across the normal working of a person suddenly, and the person facing it, after repeated efforts, thinks that the doors to its solution are all closed. He then gets disappointed and abandons his further efforts, leaving the problem in a status-quo position that may cause further harm. However, one must not succumb to the problem. One should keep striving to locate the solutions because accepting challenges and solving problems are characteristic of boldness. Any problem, as delicate as it may be, can ultimately be overcome, with the condition that certain qualifications are met.

These qualifications are precisely described below:

1. Awareness of the Problem

Persons coming across a grave situation must be fully aware of its exact nature. The one who is unaware of what the problem is will obviously fail to find a way out of it. This qualification is the basic key to success. This is the awareness of the issue that leads the person to start in the right direction.

2. Confidence

The second quality attributed to combating the problem is the confidence of the person concerned. It is natural that confidence plays a pivotal role in confronting the issue. In its absence no success is guaranteed. But confidence of course is itself the outcome of a sound knowledge and experience. If someone possesses sufficient knowledge and experience, he must not get frightened with the gravity of the issue.

3. Observing the Rules of the Game

While attempting to solve the troubles, one must observe the entire prescribed rules of the game. That is, the person must be fully aware of where to commence from and in which direction to proceed. The formulae, principles, tools, and timings all must be kept in mind while resolving the complicated issue. Which formula to be picked first and where to hammer the last are the perquisites of success. An untimely step or a miscalculation may further develop fouls and complications.

4. Slow and Controlled Speed

Slow and steady progress toward the solution of a situation generates fruitful results. Hasty and superseding behaviour may ruin the entire effort. As complicated as the problem is, the caution should be made for its correction accordingly. People perceive commonly that since they possess all the qualities required, they therefore must hurry. Such a worried or over-confident conduct may ruin the entire labour, gaining nothing out of it.

5. Competent Team

A person determined to combat the grievance must also possess a competent team. If the members of his team are sub-graded or poorly experienced, the efforts may not materialize. An incompetent person may even spoil the whole of the team leader’s efforts. Principle of the division of work should likewise be applied in this respect.

With these qualifications as the basic tools, any delicate and mishandled situation may well be tackled wisely.