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.

To read the rest of this article, and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine

Positive Teaching


My parents emphasized the value of having good teachers all my life. Why? Because such individuals teach you what can’t be bought with money. They are the path to Jannah. They are on the path of the Rasool (sa). Can you put a price on Jannah? No.

These teachers consider each boy and girl in their care to be the one man and woman they will prepare for tomorrow’s Ummah. They work with a sense of responsibility and the intention to transform their students. This attitude makes such teachers phenomenal.

I went to a Catholic school. It was one of the best in academics but very shallow in terms of moral values.

Later, as an adult, I started to question what was lacking in the Tarbiyah offered by teachers today? After much deliberation, the answer came to me. With the amazing explosion of information that is easily accessible, cheap to use, and fast-paced, we no longer need teachers. What we need are Nasihoon and Murrabbis, who can direct children to what is truly important, and become the children’s coaches, guides and mentors.

When I travelled to Madinah University, I could not speak a sentence of Arabic, except such necessary words as Hammam (bath area), Taam (meal), etc. After spending two weeks in that place with my friend, I told him: “Brother, we are in the wrong place.” But then something truly fantastic happened. I came upon a man by the name of Abdul Kareem. He was a teacher with a smile. In two weeks, he made me dream in Arabic.

In Rajistan (India), a professor conducted an experiment in one of the poorest areas. He took some illiterate children who had never attended any school and had no exposure to computers. The professor assigned to them a project to discover how viruses and cells replicated and behaved. Next, he put up a computer screen for them to access the information. Through Skype, he also connected them to their old grandmother, who lived far away. She was a very encouraging person, whose job was to offer appreciation to the kids every day about their project for the next two months. Guess what? Those kids delivered. They found a way to learn.

A teacher does irreparable damage to a student with an attitude of negativity. Negativity not only destroys the children’s minds but also mars their creativity. Allah (swt) expects us to develop those in our care into Mumineen, the strong believers, the ones who have a purpose in life. Look at the Prophet (sa). The man was orphaned at a tender age, had no materialistic comforts in life, never received a formal education, and experienced harsh opposition from merciless enemies; yet, he smiled, he appreciated others, and he loved and cared for all. It was like hope and belief rising from ashes.

Read the Quran and observe how positive it is. Reflect over the story of Yusuf (as). When he was thrown into a dark well by his own brothers, Allah (swt) revealed to him that one day, he would be in a position to inform them of their wrongdoings. Hope was extended in the face of an adverse situation.

Similarly, Maryam (as) was despondent when she was enduring labour pains as a single and unwed mother. Allah’s (swt) angel again advised her to eat from the branch of Nakhlah (soft and sweet dates), as sugar causes comfort to the body and reduces pain.

Musa’s (as) mother was commanded by Allah (swt) to place him in a basket and set him afloat on the river Nile; it was the worst nightmare for her as a mother to part with her baby. But it was Allah (swt), Who promised her that He would reunite them again. And so it was.

Once, a Sahabi was drunk. As per the Shariah, Muhammad (sa) ordered eighty lashes for him. Later, he was brought to the Prophet (sa) again on the same charge. One of the men present cursed him. The Prophet (sa) corrected his attitude immediately, stating: “Do not swear at him, for he loves Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa).” (Bukhari)

At the time of the battle of Khandaq, a trench was dug around Madinah as a military strategy. The work came to a halt at the last boulder that would just not break. Far away, rising dust caused by galloping horsemen indicated the approach of the disbelievers’ army. This could easily have been a time of panic and tension. But how does Allah’s Messenger (sa) react? He took the pick axe and called out: “Rome is yours. Allahu Akbar!” The first blow broke the boulder smaller, and a light shone from it. “Sham is yours, Allahu Akbar!” The second blow broke it further down, and another light escaped from the rock. “Persia is yours, Allahu Akbar!” The third blow crumbled the rock to pieces and another light shone through.

The Prophet (sa) faced all the tests positively. The question is: how positive are we as educators and parents? Most of us were raised with negativity. We need to unlearn a lot of that to be able to deal positively with our own children. A shepherd cannot blame the sheep for being eaten. Similarly, a happy team is a winning team.

In any organization, the leader is not just there to enjoy privileges and blow his own trumpet. He will have to own not only the success of each team member but also their failures. This is how “Mercy Mission” works. A very apt example is of an economic crisis in the corporate world faced by Ford. The CEO of Ford called a one-day meeting of all important employees and spent the whole day discussing nothing but the company’s vision, their dreams, and how they had once wanted to achieve them so badly. This was the turning point for the company. The belief to do the impossible breathed a new life into them. The leader looked in the eyes of negativity and said to it: “We’re not giving up.”

There are two ways to build a ship: you can either tell your team how to build it and supervise them down to the finest detail, or you can share with them the beauty of the ocean, inspire them to sail to explore the Khalq (creation) of Allah (swt) and then wait and see what the team builds.

Sen Sui said: “The legacy of a leader is the number of leaders he creates.” Today, we do not need managers to control anymore. We need leaders to inspire. Likewise, we do not need teachers who dictate, but Murrabis that guide and give hope to their children to do their best. The attitude of arrogance will have to go. As teachers, we must realize that there is no one particular way to solve a problem. There are multiple ways to get to the solution.

The people of tomorrow are in school today. Unlock their minds and do not restrict them. If we build schools and lose the spirit, what is the gain? Education should be 20% teacher-led and 80% student-led. We need to teach them to empower themselves. Fear doesn’t achieve the results that love and belief do. Educators and parents will have to make a conscious decision about how they will impact the children under their care. This might mean we need to re-learn how to teach.

May Allah (swt) grant our children the Taufiq to discover something truly amazing and new for the benefit of other people. Ameen!

Based on a workshop hosted by Fajr Academy, Karachi. Adapted by Rana Rais Khan.


Reaching a Win-Win Solution

win win solution

Consider the following incident and the two scenes that follow. The situation is similar but the interaction between key players is significantly different.

Asma’s final examinations are about to commence. She is in the eighth grade and her studies are tough. To allow her time to study and avoid late nights, her mother has already politely declined invitations to two family weddings. A couple of days before Asma’s exams begin, her dear friend (who studies in another school) comes to visit. She has brought the invitation card to her elder sister’s wedding, scheduled to be held on a Thursday. Since the next day is her exam, Asma knows she would not be allowed to go. Still, upon her friend’s insistence, she decides to talk to her mother.

Scene A

Asma’s mother refuses to budge. She categorically tells Asma that no parties or weddings will be attended in the middle of the exam week. Asma gets very upset. She has been studying hard and feels she deserves a break of an hour or so. Her mother tells her that she would be spending time getting dressed and then commuting: total of two to three hours. Then, she would want to stay till dinner and, hence, would return late night. She’d be too sleepy the next day. Asma says she will go, no matter what. Her mother says, no, no matter what. Both Asma and her mother get into a terrible argument that results in tears and silent treatment.

Scene B

Asma thinks a little bit before approaching her mother. She notes the time and the venue of the wedding. She mentally calculates the time she would be spending getting dressed and commuting to the wedding. With all this preparation, she talks to her mother and requests her to allow her an hour to attend the wedding. She assures her mother that she will do the preparation for next day’s exam well before time, will spend maximum fifteen minutes on getting ready and will not stay for the dinner at the wedding. She will simply go, meet everyone and then return. The break will be good for her and she would probably feel more refreshed for the paper next day. Asma’s mother thinks it over and then allows her to attend the wedding, if all conditions are met as put forward by Asma.

Note the difference in the two scenes. In the first, Asma and her mother engaged in positional bargaining: each has a ‘position’. They both argued tooth and nail to win that position. Eventually, they made up but it was not a happy arrangement for both. In the second, Asma and her mother engaged in interest bargaining. Asma knew her mother was not against attending the wedding per se. Her ‘interest’ was to ensure Asma’s exam did not get affected. Once Asma had identified all possible scenarios that her mother could oppose, she managed to convince her and attend the wedding without disobeying her.

In our daily interactions with our parents, spouses, children, neighbours or in-laws, we do encounter situations, in which we do not agree with another person. This is natural; what matters is how we deal with these differences to reach a win-win solution. There are basically two approaches towards resolving conflicts. Positional bargaining may result in a compromise, but one or both parties are usually not happy with the outcome. On the other hand, interest bargaining leads directly to a win-win solution, as it takes into account diverse interests and aims, rather than one’s position over a specific matter.

Despite interest bargaining being more beneficial, position bargaining is more popular. This is mainly because:

  1. It requires no or very little planning and preparation. Mostly, it depends upon a person’s position at the time of discussion or argument.
  2. It is very convenient, because it does not require planning or thinking through.
  3. It works most of the time and gives us results, even if not always wise.
  4. It can be applied to any situation.

On the other hand, interest bargaining requires some serious work. It needs proper planning and thinking through to reach creative solutions.

For example, 18-year-old Saad finds it difficult to wake up for Fajr and almost always gets into an argument with his mother about it. Position bargaining would mean that both Saad and his mother would come to a compromise: if Saad gets up for Salah for three days, he can miss it for three days, and his mother would not argue. However, this cannot be done, because the Salah is Fard (obligatory). No matter how tired Saad is, there is no excuse for missing the prayer. Once this premise is established in their minds, they can come up with solutions on how Saad can wake up for Fajr. This may include Saad educating himself on the importance of praying Salah on time, avoiding late nights, keeping multiple alarms and so on. It is important to note that the mother is not arguing to defend her position; she is defending a vital principle.

Similar is the case, when problems take root between in-laws. A frail, elderly mother-in-law, who is widowed and mostly bed-ridden, lives with her only son and his wife. The wife wants a separate portion in the house, because it is very taxing for her to look after a sick individual the whole day. She argues with her husband to hire a maid for the mother-in-law and move upstairs. Her husband can reach this compromise through position bargaining, and do as his wife suggests. However, he outlines the interests of them both:

  1. He wants his wife to be happy and content, and his mother to be taken care of.
  2. The wife wants some relief from the daily responsibilities of caring for the mother-in-law.
  3. The mother-in-law needs the company of her son’s family.

The son decides to hire a reliable maid, who can take care of his mother’s medical needs, so his wife can get some relief. The wife then agrees that she will not move to a separate portion, and, instead, will supervise the maid and give her mother-in-law company. This way, all parties are happy.

What are the attitudes of those, who engage in interest bargaining?

  • The interests of all parties in an argument are addressed for an agreement to be reached.
  • The focus remains on interests, not positions.
  • Parties search for objective or fair standards that all can agree on.
  • All parties believe that there are multiple satisfactory solutions.
  • Parties are cooperative problem-solvers, rather than opponents.
  • People and issues remain separate. People are respected, while interests are bargained on.
  • All parties are willing to search for win-win solutions.

How can you initiate and work on interest bargaining? Here is a quick guide:

  1. Identify your interests/needs in a particular situation. Be specific about what your needs are and how important they are to you.
  2. When negotiating or having a discussion, inform all parties about your respective interests. Make sure your needs are understood.
  3. Now, specify the problem. Word it in a way that it appears solvable by a win-win solution.
  4. Identify general criteria that must be present in an acceptable solution.
  5. Work toward an agreement.
  6. Identify areas of agreement, restate them and, if needed, write them down.

It is important to implement the following, during this process:

  • Educate and be educated about interests of all parties.
  • Assure that all interests will be respected and viewed as legitimate.
  • Show an interest in others’ needs.
  • Do not exploit another negotiator’s weakness. Demonstrate trust.
  • Put yourself in a ‘one down position’ to other on issues where you risk a small, but symbolic loss.
  • Start with a problem solving, rather than competitive approach.
  • Provide benefits above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Listen and convey to other negotiators that they have been heard and understood.
  • Listen and restate content to demonstrate understanding.
  • Listen and restate feelings to demonstrate acceptance (not necessarily agreement) and understanding of intensity.

All too often, we are so caught up in one-upping others and winning the argument that we forget the following authentic Hadeeth: “The most despicable amongst people in the sight of Allah is the ruthless argumentative (person).” (Muslim)

“I guarantee a house in Jannah for one, who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right.” (Abu Dawood)

At the end of the day, the purpose of any argument or conflict should be to reach a win-win solution. A well-known saying is: “Lose the argument, not the person.”

A 9-year-old’s stress


Summer vacation was over and the kids had just returned to school, starting their new session. It was still the first week in their new grades. One particular mother was having trouble putting the children onto an earlier bedtime schedule. Marium, her 9 nine-year-old would especially not co-operate. No matter what mum said and did, Marium would not just budge. Exasperated, mum requested her husband to take over before she ended up in an ugly tussle with their daughter. Following is the conversation between father and daughter:

Dad: “Marium, sweetheart, I want to talk to you. Mum is saying you are not co-operating much. Is something the matter? It seems like something is eating you.”

Marium: “I’ve got a lot of worries!”

Dad: “Really, well let me hear them all. Let’s talk in your room.”

Dad and Marium head to Marium’s room. Twenty minutes later dad comes out of the room smirking to himself.

A bewildered mum asks: “What happened?”

Dad: “Nothing. I put her to bed.”

Mum: “Just like that?”

Dad: “I wrote down her worries.”

Mum: “And?”

Dad: “And I read them back to her.”

Mum: “Then what happened?”

Dad: “I promised her that I will help her tackle her issues on the weekend. She put her list under her pillow, changed into her night suit and went to bed.”

The next morning when mum was changing Marium’s bedsheets, her list fell to the floor. Here’s what it said:

What’s worrying Marium?

  1. Messy closet and bedroom. She has to share her room with her younger sister Alyah who is a 4-year-old, not willing to put any stuff back in its place.
  2. Great deal of work at school and plenty of thick books to carry.
  3. Having trouble understanding the new Math chapter.
  4. Needs more spending allowance for school snacks as prices have hiked since past term.
  5. Lost brand new pencil case in school.
  6. Some younger kids in her school bus are naughty and irritating.
  7. Has no decent pair of sandals to wear to her best friend’s upcoming party.

Mum smiled as she read the note. She realized that as grownups we assume that only we have real troubles in life. It’s easy to forget that children can have them too. And just like us, they need someone to listen and take their worries seriously. For an adult they may sound childish and petty. But for a child they mean the world: a world they live in. The worst thing that an adult can do is dismiss or ridicule a child’s sentiments, terming them as senseless or wrong. As they say, you do not teach swimming to a drowning person. When listening to worries, just hear them out. Discussions can ensue at a later time. By then, some issues have already taken care of themselves and some are more open to be talked about.

“Children need to hear an unqualified acceptance of their emotions of the moment. A response that conveys full understanding without reservation or judgment empowers young people and grants them the courage to begin to deal with their problems.” (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish)

Adapted from “How to talk so kids can learn”    

Privileges for Elderly Parents

Elderly Parents

Right after mentioning His right of worship, Allah (swt) mentions the rights of parents. In a single verse, He has specified the guidelines for the treatment of parents and has particularly stated that additional care should be given to them, when they become old. Allah (swt) says:

“And your Lord had decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” (Al-Isra 17:23) 

Aging is accompanied with many physical, mental and emotional changes. For this reason, elderly parents need to be taken care of in a more considerate manner. Unfortunately, the growing materialism and influence of the West is depriving parents from their essential rights. However, according to the Quran and the Sunnah, this is a grave sin, as the Prophet (sa) has said: “They are (or your relation with them will determine) your Paradise and your Hell.” (Tirmidhi) At times, it does become difficult to deal with elderly parents, but with little patience, love and effort, elderly parents can be given the respect they deserve.

Adult children tend to be less grateful because of their independence. Often, resentments are held for parents’ inattentive attitude during childhood. However, this cannot be used as an excuse to justify any mistreatment on behalf of the children. This is because the pains borne by parents to bring a life in this world and nurture it outweigh everything. Parents tend to become kind as they become old; therefore, if someone has had a distant relationship with parents due to their strictness, it’s time to break the ice and start anew. Cleanse the heart from all kinds of bitterness and try to fill it with acknowledgement for them. If gratitude prevails in the heart, all physical actions tend to follow it.

Aged parents are either extremely concerned about their health or are completely casual about it. Irrespective of their attitude, their health and medical needs should be managed properly. This should include regular check-ups, monitoring of medicines and diet control. Diet often becomes a disputed issue in such situations. Talk to your parents politely about the disease and explain to them the consequences of over-indulgence.

Spending upon parents is compulsory for every Muslim. Allah (swt) says: “They ask you (O Muhammad), what they should spend. Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents…” (Al-Baqarah 2:215) Consideration should be shown while spending on them, in order to avoid hurting their self-esteem. Due to dignity, some parents don’t even demand anything for themselves. Hence, their needs should be attended amiably. It has been narrated from Jabir ibn Abdullah (rtam) that a man said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have wealth and children, but my father wants to take all my wealth.” He said: “You and your wealth are for your father.” (Ibn Majah)

A bizarre custom of our society is that aged people are expected to keep a very low profile and lead a simple life. They are not expected to show any kind of interest in worldly affairs. However, they are the same humans as any of us – feelings and desires do exist in them. So if an old mother wants to buy a bright dress or a father wants to be a kid for a while, cheerfully let them have their way, as long as they do not fall into the forbidden (Haram).

Once, a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Shall I participate in Jihad?” The Prophet (sa) asked: “Are your parents living?” The man replied: “Yes.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Do Jihad for their benefit.” (Bukhari) Imam Bukhari brings this Hadeeth under the topic of “Seeking permission from parents for Jihad.”

In our routine life, our parents need to be well-informed about our activities. For youngsters it is a must, and for adults it should be done as an act of courtesy and good manners. This will also save parents from the anxiety they go through in the absence of their children.

Change is something disliked, when one grows old. When any kind of change is expected, like buying new furniture or painting the house, talk to the elderly parents beforehand, involve them and ask them for their opinions. Even when going out for family outings, always ensure their comfort.

Retried parents often fall in frustration and even depression because of idleness. Look for productive activities they can engage in. Assign responsibilities to them that they can easily manage. Make them feel important, ask for their advice, include them in all kinds of family discussions and decisions, and spend quality time with them. Also, encourage your spouse to have an affectionate relationship with your parents.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The pious offspring, who casts a single look of affection at his parents, receives a reward from Allah (swt) equal to the reward of an accepted Hajj.” The people enquired: “O Prophet of Allah (sa), if someone casts a hundred such glances of love and affection at his parents, what then?” The Prophet (sa) said: “Yes, indeed, even if one does so a hundred times a day, he will get a hundred-fold reward. Allah (swt) is far greater than you can imagine and is completely free from petty narrow-mindedness.” (Muslim) Adults rarely express love for their parents. A natural shyness and distance develops as we grow older, but this Hadeeth should break all such barriers. Express your emotions! Occasional hugs and kisses and surprise gifts would uplift their spirits and bring extreme delight to them.

After giving the guidelines in Surah Al-Isra verse 23, Allah (swt) further orders: “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.’” (Al-Isra 17:24) This verse makes us realize how indebted we are to our parents. For those of us who, at times, fall short to adhere to the decree, there is hope in the next verse, commanding us to keep trying.

“Your Lord knows best what is in your inner-selves. If you are righteous, then, verily, He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn unto Him again and again in obedience, and in repentance.” (Al-Isra 17:25)

May Allah (swt) enable us to realize and attend to the physical and emotional needs of our elderly parents. Ameen!

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 Chill


Compiled by Umm Ibrahim – Freelance writer

The world of entertainment is indeed unlimited – it is so easy to get lost amidst the myriad of movies, music, gossip, celebrities and so on and on! Facebook pages have made one’s interaction with all-things entertainment extremely easy.

In order to better understand the arenas of entertainment today, and hunt down the solutions, Hiba Magazine got in touch with the following individuals:

1)      Mr. Tayyab Abid – CEO of Little Deeds; COO of Role Model Institute, and CEO of Tayyab Enterprises,

2)      Imam Jawad Ahmed – O’Level Islamiyat teacher at Generations school, Karachi and Head of Dawah Hotline in USA, called Why Islam (

3)      Dr. Humaira Iqbal – Administration, Fajr Academy and Project Manager for MAP (Muslim Awareness Programme),

4)      Mr. Samir Feroze – CEO,

Following are some of the questions that we asked them, along with their response.

How can Muslims relax and enjoy their leisure hours, without falling into forbidden realms? List top three Halal avenues of entertainment that have worked for you/someone you know.

Tayyab Abid

  • Marriage and all the fun it legalizes.
  • Playing with kids.
  • Hanging out with the right crowd.
  • Eating out.

Imam Jawad Ahmed

They can do so by using their leisure time in fruitful activities, which are enriching and, at the same time, relaxing in nature. They should avoid everything that might break the boundaries set by Allah (swt). Top three would be:

1. Going to a park and enjoying the atmosphere there, or any rides that might be available.

2. Going to a bowling alley, where there is no music and no smoking.

3. Going to the seaside and enjoying the recreational activities such as ATV rides, camel or horse riding, etc.

Dr. Humaira Iqbal

Muslim can do the following:

1. Read good books. (There is a lack of love for books in the Ummah currently.)

2. Shop and buy presents for others, instead of indulging in one’s own desires.

3. Work on self-grooming.

4. Prepare homemade healthy food.

5. Venture on more nature-centred outings, for example, Port Grande, beach, hiking in Islamabad, crabbing in Karachi, etc.

6. Make an effort to socialize and move in the right circles.

7. Exercise regularly.

8. Take up gardening.

Top thee Halal avenues of entertainment that have worked for me or someone I know:

1. Eating out.

2. Speed boating and snorkelling.

3. Spas.

Samir Feroze

I believe Muslims can relax in the same way others can and do the same sort of activities. They just need to be careful of a few things while indulging in them. For example, if physical exercise is relaxing, one can play tennis or go to the gym. These activities would be more challenging if you live in a non-Muslim country, but assuming you are in a Muslim country, both should be reasonably ‘safe’ past times. Gyms can have music blaring, so you could take along an iPod and listen to some Quran, Nasheeds or lectures, etc. I personally do not do this, however, and just try to keep my focus off the music.

I believe playing video games which do not have objectionable content like car racing games, or angry birds, or some games on the wi-fi platform are relaxing and fun too.

Penetration of music is inevitable in our lives, whether we are in the supermarket or watching the news, etc. How can this be tackled?

Tayyab Abid

What can we do if we go to a place where there is music? Well, we can ask them to stop and emphasize that if you don’t, we might leave and not come again. Alhumdulillah, wherever I go, I do this. Alhumdulillah, 80% of the restaurants always listen to me and turn off the music. At the very least, they lower the volume. If they don’t listen, you can leave but before you do, fill out the feedback card with your complaint. Lastly, there are places in Karachi where there is no music (for instance, Snack Attack, Bovi Chic, Student’s Biryani, Biryani Centre, Mr. Burger’s certain outlets, etc.) or is turned off at your request.

Imam Jawad Ahmed

We can avoid in two ways: firstly, we move away from the place, where music is being played or ask them to turn it off. Secondly, we can put our index fingers or thumbs in our ears, where the music is being played, so that it doesn’t penetrate our ears, and at the same time, we try our best to get out of that area.

Dr. Humaira Iqbal

  • Recite Aoodhubillah.
  • Request restaurants to turn off the music.
  • Ask shopkeepers to switch off the music (especially if you are going to buy something).
  • Try going early in the morning, when most stores are empty and playing the Quran. I once gifted a CD of Qari Ghamdi to The Forum and they would play it for me in the mornings.
  • Avoid rush hours, because they always play music at such times.

Samir Feroze

Vote with your money by going to places which do not have music.

Editor’s suggestion: Try distributing a flyer on the position of music in Islam in these joints, and try to educate them. It is possible they are not aware of the admonitions regarding it.


There you have it! There are plenty of solutions, if you want to have Halal fun! Entertainment is not restricted to television or radio! There are plenty of other avenues that can be explored as an individual or as a family! It’s all about being creative and exploring new options. And, of course, it is also about remembering that one’s Deen is not restricted to rituals. It features in everything, even entertainment.

Making the Most of Book Fairs

Making the Most of Book Fairs

By Hafsa Ahsan – Senior Assistant Editor, “Hiba” Magazine

Book fairs and book expos are definitely the events to look out for – not only do they offer a variety of books on all subjects under one roof, one can also avail much-needed discounts and special offers. However, like any other event, this one also needs to be thoroughly planned out. Here are a few tips to make the most of the book fairs.

Make a List

Entering a book fair without a list has the potential to turn your entire trip into a disaster, especially if it is crowded with no room for browsing. It is best to find out well in advance which publishers will be exhibiting; you can then look up their website to browse and read the reviews of the new and upcoming titles. Of course, this does not mean you cannot pick and choose titles on the go; however, if you have limited time (and space), a list is most handy.

Sort the List

Which books are really necessary to purchase at a book fair where there are original, hard-cover editions? Are there any books which can be borrowed from friends or purchased second-hand? You can do some research in order to sort the list.

Make a Budget

Once you have finalized your list, make your budget. It is best to save beforehand or make sure you receive your committee money in the months preceding the book fair. How much you decide to put aside depends entirely upon your list.

On the Day Itself

Make sure you reach as early as possible on a weekday to avoid massive crowds. Try to arrange baby-sitting for babies and pre-schoolers. Arrange a special, separate trip for children on the weekend, so they can have some fun with the activities organized especially for them.

Did you know?

In the very first Karachi International Book Fair in 2005, there were 50 participants in one hall. In 2011, there were three halls and 290 exhibitors.

Deutshe Welle’s Urdu service (Germany) covered the 2011 book fair in Karachi. Updates were sent from Karachi to their Bonn headquarter from where they were relayed across the European Union.

Lahore International Book Fair is the largest annual international book fair; the 2011 event was held in Johar Town, Lahore, where 165 local and foreign publishers and education-related organisations set up stalls.

Eight hundred Arabic and international exhibitors from more than 60 countries set up stalls at the 21st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair held in 2011.

In 2011, the first Arabic Book Fair was held at the Dubai Women’s College as part of the Library Week event under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al-Nahyan, then Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

MV Logos Hope, the world’s largest floating book fair, arrived in Dubai in 2011. It offered a selection of over 7,000 books and had the capacity to entertain 800 visitors on board at any one time. Its International Café hosted many interactive displays and activities, including an opportunity to meet any one of 400 crew members.

A Loser’s Gain

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

By Umm Ibrahim and Umm Amal – Freelance writers

Without exaggeration, we live in a time of economic hardship. With costs and prices spiralling upwards, even the ones who are generally well-off think twice before spending. It is quite natural for the budget to go awry every month, and the savings’ pool to decrease. Most of the individuals and families have thought of numerous and creative ways to save money and make the most of their earnings. However, there are quite a few techniques that do not, in the long run, save anything. Seemingly, they increase one’s income; however, they take all the Barakah out of it. Following are some of those techniques to beware of:

Investment Schemes Involving Interest

With a myriad of banks offering attractive investment packages with ‘certain’ fixed return, it is quite hard to shrug off the temptation to invest one’s savings. However, one must remember that all forms of interest are strictly forbidden. The same goes for buying houses, cars, laptops and the like on lease, which involves interest – on the face of it, you are saving money; in reality, you are incurring the severe wrath of Allah (swt), as per the following verse:

“Those who eat Riba (usury) will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan (Satan) leading him to insanity. That is because they say: ‘Trading is only like Riba (usury)’, whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury). So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba (usury) shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns [to Riba (usury)], such are the dwellers of the Fire – they will abide therein.” (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

Investment Schemes Without Investigation

This applies to the investment schemes of Islamic banks. Before you invest your money, you must find out where the Islamic bank itself is investing this money. If it is investing in the stock market (bay-trading) or other interest-based schemes, do not take the risk of investing there. Instead, choose an Islamic bank or scheme that invests in short-term government loans or securities that do not involve interest at any level.

Profiteering Techniques

If you own a business or are in a leadership position in one, you need to watch out for selling low quality or expired products and extracting one to two hundred percent profit out of customers. Hoarding products, creating an artificial shortage and fleecing the customers are again counter-productive. Understand that if the outcome of your business deal does not create a win-win situation for you and your customer, it is unfair and involves impermissible earnings.

Denying Inheritance

Family members need to be extremely careful about fair distribution of inheritance. Denying or delaying inheritance to deserving family members causes greatest rifts among blood ties; loss of Barakah is a natural outcome.

Withholding Charity

It is so tempting to cut down on welfare spending on an individual level – however, one must continue to give as much Sadaqah as one can even if it means curbing one’s own needs along the way – not doing so is again counter-productive towards increasing one’s Rizq.

In short, one may witness an increase in income by Haram means, but Allah (swt) decreases it by some other means which people are unable to see, like loss of health, disobedient children or spouse, earning of dishonour or mistrust, lack of peace in life, constant material loss, etc. Also, the level of pleasure keeps decreasing with an increase in Haram income. This further drives the individual on the misguided path to further seek satisfaction from prohibited sources. The end result is that one loses out in both the worlds.

Making Kids Money-Wise

Making Kids Money-Wise

By Umm Zakariya – Freelance journalist and the Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi

As parents, we want the best for our children. We want our children to be ‘happy’ and that usually translates into us plying them with expensive clothes, toys, gadgets and paraphernalia, while giving into their every whim and desire. In pursuit of this ‘happiness’, we end up making our kids exceedingly materialistic – we either forget about or neglect educating them about the values of earning it, the judgement in spending it, and the virtues and avenues of saving it.

Here are some simple and easy ways of helping our children become money-wise, so that they are not only aware but are also ready to face the reAl-world and its sharks, when the time comes!

Go Shopping Together

Take your children shopping. Let them understand the simple truth that we need money to buy things! Let children get an insight into how you select items based on affordability and that not everything one wants can be bought, as there is a budget to be adhered to.

Set a Pocket Money/ Monthly Allowance

Allowance is an important tool to form sturdy lifelong fiscal habits in your children. However, you need to guide them on how to manage and spend in order for them to become responsible money managers.

Let Them Earn

Another lesson you need to teach your children early on is the diligence that goes into earning money. And it goes without saying that the best and most effective way to teach the value of money is to let your child earn! Help your child set up a small business, such as making and selling greeting cards or jewellery, wrapping gifts, etc. There are countless ideas online. Alternatively, you can pay them for extra chores they do beyond their usual responsibilities. You could also put up a stall at any of the various charity Melas and let them help out.

Open a Savings Account

Open a child-friendly bank account for your children or let them open an account with you as the banker, if they are very young! Teach them to save their Eidi, other gift money and anything they earn for things they may want. You will see that they will appreciate what they buy from their own efforts more than anything you buy for them. This is also a good time to teach them about Riba (interest) and Allah’s (swt) commandments regarding it.

Teach Them to Budget and Plan

Encourage your children to plan and budget. Help them to decide their short-term and long-term goals about the things they want to buy and how they can manage their money to achieve both. Also, teach children the importance of moderation. Help them understand that they should not be extravagant and must save what they can for the future.

Encourage the Charity Giver in Them

We sometimes tend to forget a very significant lesson that our kids need to learn as early as possible. The poor and the destitute have a right to whatever we earn – in order to earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Giving Sadaqah is not just an option. It is a responsibility of every believer. In return, the children can ask Allah (swt) to grant them more or relieve them of their daily troubles successfully (tests, exams, etc.). We would not like our kids to become stingy or miserly in pursuit of financial success.

It’s never too early to start! We must realize that unless we put the responsibility of decision-making and accountability on their shoulders, our children will have to learn this the hard way in the real world. Help children gain these values early on by letting them make their own money-related decisions. Even if they end up making a loss, this is a lesson better learnt sooner than later!

Characteristics of Principle-Centred Leaders

Characteristics of Principle-Centred Leaders

What comes to our mind, when we think of an effective leader: a dynamic and diligent individual who has solutions to every problem; a person, who is courageous and capable enough to take his team to new heights of self-discovery; maybe someone, who is an epitome of self-motivation and high principles?

Anyone, who is entrusted with the responsibility to lead, should possess the eight discernible characteristics of principle-centered leaders. If we wish to excel in our role as a leader, we need to develop the following fundamental principles:

1. They learn continually

Our beloved Prophet (sa) continued to receive revelations till the very last days of his life. His entire life was founded on personal learning and divine guidance. Similarly, it is Sunnah to expand one’s competence and ability to do things. Effective leaders read, seek training, and listen to others. They are curious and eager to develop new skills. They are humble enough to learn something valuable from every person they meet. Most of their learning is self-initiated.

2. They are service-oriented

Remember the time of Masjid-e-Nabawi’s construction, and how the noble companions worked industriously? But rather than just delegating tasks and dispensing orders, who carried heavy rocks right by their side? Who led by example and experienced the same hardship, assuring his team that he was there with them every step of the way? Our beloved Messenger (sa), of course.

The next characteristic tells us the same. If we strive to become principle-centred leaders, we must see life as a mission, not as a career that will begin at the age of twenty-five and end at sixty. An effective leader has nurturing sources within him that prepares him for service. Every morning, he puts on the harness of service, thinking of others.

As leaders, we must have a load to carry. If we only attempt to have an intellectual or moral exercise, we will never develop a sense of responsibility, service, or contribution towards our people.

3. They radiate positive energy

Smile, it’s a Sunnah! It is also a Sadaqah! Principle-centered people have cheerful and pleasant countenances and an optimistic attitude. Their spirit is hopeful and believing.

It is important for one to be aware of his energy; he must understand how to radiate and direct it. When the situation becomes confusing or contentious, a principle-centred leader strives to be a peacemaker and a harmonizer, to undo or reverse destructive energy.

4. They believe in other people

Principle-centred leaders are aware of human weaknesses. Hence, they don’t over-react to negative behaviours. They neither feel vulnerable upon discovering another person’s human weakness nor build up stress within them. They understand that behavior and potential are two different things and believe in the unforeseen potential of all people. Remember Prophet’s (sa) belief in people like Umar (rta), who were initially bitter enemies of Islam? But it was the Messenger’s (sa) belief in Umar (rta) that carved him into the leader, who later conquered that time’s super powers of Rome and Persia.

These leaders also feel grateful for their blessings and compassionately forgive and forget offences. They do not label, pre-judge, stereotype or categorize anyone.

5. They lead balanced lives

Principle-centred leaders are not extremists. They don’t immediately divide everything into either good or bad. They think in terms of priorities and hierarchies, have the power to sense similarities and differences in each situation and the courage to condemn the bad and champion the good. Their actions and attitudes are proportionate to the situation – they are moderate and wise.

They don’t condemn themselves for every mistake. They learn from errors and march on. They live sensibly in the present, carefully plan the future and flexibly adapt to change. For them, success is on the far side of failure. The only real failure is the experience not learned from.

Such leaders read the best literature. They are active socially with many friends and a few confidantes. They share intellectual interests. Physically they are active people as per their age limits. They have a healthy sense of humour; they laugh at themselves and not at others.

They do not intimidate others and are genuinely happy for others’ successes. They are well aware of their own worth; hence, they do not need any manipulative measures for success.

All of the above were modeled by our beloved prophet Muhammad (sa), which makes them absolutely doable and possible!

6. They see life as an adventure

Principle-centred leaders savour life. They do not depend upon the safety of their homes or comfort zones. Their real asset lies in their ability to initiate things, be resourceful, exercise will-power, exhibit courage, march on with stamina and their native intelligence.

They are prepared to rediscover people each time they meet them – they are able to do that by listening, asking questions and involving themselves. They do not label others according to their past successes or failures. A very important quality that they possess is that of flexibility, which enables them to adapt to virtually any situation.

They do not see anyone larger than life. They do not feel an urge to be in awe of the rich, the influential or the famous. They are secure about themselves. They don’t stereotype and categorize people to give them a sense of predictability and certainty.

7. They are synergistic

Synergy is defined as a state, in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts. For instance, two and two make four, but when principle-centred people are synergistic, they create more than four – maybe five or six.

Such people are agents of change. They are able to improve almost any situation they land in. They are productive and creative in ways no one ever thinks of, because they work as smart as they work hard.

When it comes to team initiatives, they delegate work, as they believe in other’s strengths and capacities. They build on their strengths and strive to complement their weaknesses with the strengths of others. They do not feel threatened by their team members, if they happen to excel in some particular area; hence, they do not need to supervise them all the time.

When they negotiate or communicate with their team in any adversarial situation, they always remember to separate the people from the problem. They can focus on the other person’s areas of concern, rather than fight for positions. Gradually, others discover their sincerity, stop holding back and give all they have got. Together, they arrive at a synergistic solution.

They have the courage to work with different kind of team members. Take the example of Prophet’s (sa) companions: Suhaib (rta) from Rome, Bilal (rta) from Habsha, Salman (rta) from Persia and Umar (rta) from Arabia. They had very little in common in terms of ethnic backgrounds and social status. Yet, by celebrating those differences and applying them as strengths, our beloved Messenger (sa) was able to create incredible results. He was able to create synergy!

8. They work on self-renewal

Principle-centred leaders practice regularly and consistently the four dimensions of the human personality: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

They exercise to improve their physical capacity. They exercise their minds by reading purposeful material, solving creative problems, writing and reflecting upon their surroundings. Emotionally, they make an effort to be patient with others, listen to them, offer genuine empathy, love unconditionally, and accept responsibility for their own lives, decisions and reactions.

Spiritually, they focus on prayer, study the scripture, fast and offer charity. They are connected to the Lord on a twenty-four hours basis.

Initially, including these four activities into our schedule take time, but, eventually, their wholesome impact will begin to save our time.

Resisting Peer Pressure

July 11- Resisting peer pressure

A common question of most teenagers is: “I want to practice Islam. But all my friends and cousins are into movies, music, girls and the usual teenage stuff. When I try to avoid them, I am either laughed at or left alone. I feel so isolated that I end up joining them – albeit reluctantly – in their pastimes.”

Is there a way out for such teenagers, who are inclined towards their Deen and yet succumb to peer-pressure for fear of isolation? The answer is – yes. First of all, such teenagers should realize that it is commendable that they are striving to practice Islam at this young age, when they are under considerable peer pressure. We ask Allah (swt) to keep them steadfast in their resolve and grant them the guidance to continue undeterred upon this righteous path and noble intention. Ameen. We hope the following steps will help, Insha’Allah.

Find like-minded friends

Join a class or an online group of similarly inclined young boys or girls and find people of the same age and gender, who share the same ideals.

Pursue extra-curricular activities

“Active Saturdays” in Karachi ( is a great outlet for young boys to combine fun with faith. “Perceptions” and “Quest” cater to girls.

Attend a weekly lecture

Find a men’s/women’s weekly Halaqah or Islamic Dars that you can attend. Make sure you attend this class, even if you have an exam.

Study buddy programme

Look inward for your strengths. What do you enjoy doing? Is there anything that comes naturally to you, which you can teach someone else? Like driving a car, solving math problems, or deploying science practicals? If you are good at something, start helping out others in it, even if it is teaching an illiterate child how to read! There is always someone who needs help. Eventually, as your teaching expertise and experience grows, you can start charging for tuition.

Pray Salah in congregation (for boys)

I cannot stress enough, how important it is to attend congregational prayer in the mosque. You will see how this action will keep you steadfast and strengthen your faith, Insha’Allah. Girls are also advised to be regular with their Salah at home.

Craft clubs

Pottery, stained-glass painting, baking, crochet, knitting, website design or even babysitting – there is so much fun teenagers can have. During my childhood, for example, I remember how the neighbourhood kids would organise an annual funfair in the complex. The end result was a fun, successful event – the result of channelised, collective youthful energy.

Humanitarian or welfare work

There are many welfare organisations that need young volunteers for their work. Whether it is education of poor children, rehabilitation of flood refugees, counseling sick patients in government hospitals, or spending some time in orphanages, ‘giving’ your time and company to the less fortunate is a very fulfilling way to pass extra time.

Camps and clubs

For young boys, camping out, safaris, boating, fishing, karate or playing sports at clubs are healthy options for physical recreation. For girls, picnics at parks, interning at magazines or newspapers, blogging online or organizing bake sales and book clubs can provide healthy outlets for creativity.

Youth is the threshold of adult life. If a believer passes the difficult test of steadfastness during this phase, and wises up about the company they hang out with, they can set forth upon the path of righteousness for life. We ask Allah (swt) to make the teenagers and young people steadfast, grant them high ranks of piety and faith and make them pass this test. Ameen.

Teen Tales

July 11- Teen tales

I am worth it!

When I was sixteen years old, life was like a hell hole at home. My dad and I were constantly fighting. It came to this point that if I was watching television and he walked into the room, I would just shut it off and walk out of the door.

He was upset with me for many reasons. He would also embarrass me in front of my friends. Later, he would try to tell me, how much he cared and that he was eager to listen to my problems. Whenever I would test his sincerity, he would crack up and re-start his tirade. I could sense the disapproval in him that lashed out in the form of anger. He only wanted to shape me up and didn’t really want to hear me out.

Then, one day, something happened. Amongst many of his futile efforts, he once again approached me: “I know you feel as though I haven’t tried to understand you, but I want you to know that I am trying and will continue to try.”

I snapped back: “You have never understood me.” I stood up and reached for the door.

My dad called out: “Before you leave, I want to say that I’m really sorry for the way I embarrassed you in front of your friends the other night. I shouldn’t have done that.”

I whipped around and shouted with tears in my eyes: “You have no idea how much that embarrassed me!”

My dad walked up to me calmly and said softly: “Please come and sit down.”

For the first time, I actually felt that he genuinely wanted to listen to me. It was not some crap surface technique he was fooling me with. I began talking and he just listened. There was no moral evaluation and no judgement. It was as if he didn’t know my past at all. We just started on a clean slate, so much so, that it became and my mom came in to ask if we would sleep at all. I turned around to tell her that we had some more stuff to discuss. And my dad just nodded with a smile.

Later, when I asked my dad how he had managed to do it, he just said: “Because it was the right thing to do and you, my son, are worth it!”

Learning: We need to do a lot more private work inside our own mind and heart, before we begin to understand others. We have to let go off the negative spirit and past baggage inside of us first; otherwise, it will keep hindering us from understanding our loved ones.

Listening empathically means listening to others in their frame of reference. It also means that we might not be trusted initially, until others are certain of our sincerity. They will reject our overtures. But we need to keep coming back because they are worth it. And, eventually, we will win their trust and love with patience.

Life is overwhelming!

As a teenager, one thing that stands out in my mind was the feeling of being overwhelmed. I had to cope with the pressure of doing well at school, being on the debate team and being involved in three or four other extra-curricular activities simultaneously.

Though my mom was very strict about me keeping the room neat and tidy, there were times when she took over, especially when I had exams or my schedule was too time pressured. I would come home and find my whole room clean and organized. There would be a note that said: ‘Love, the Good Fairy.’ And I knew mom had just worked her head off to help me get ahead because I was so overwhelmed with what I had to do.

It really took a load off me. I would enter the spic and span room and whisper gratefully: “O thank you! Thank you!”

Learning: Little acts of kindness go a long way toward building relationships of trust and unconditional love. It could mean performing unexpected acts of service when you can sense that the other family member is struggling with his/her load of responsibilities. For example, you can wash the dishes, take the kids to the store for something they need for school, or call home to find out if the family needs something you might pick up on your way home.

Planned to the minute!

When I was fourteen years old, my dad promised to take me with him to Dubai on one of his business trips. We discussed it for three months, and finally the day came. He and I boarded the plane having planned our weekend to the minute. Dad was supposed to attend a conference all day, while I would stay at the hotel by myself. Later, we had planned to go dune bashing, and for a dow ride and dinner, etc. I couldn’t wait.

After what seemed ages, dad came to pick me up at 5:00 pm as promised for my treat time. But suddenly I saw him bump into his old friend. After warm pleasantries, he started to insist that dad and I accompany him to a thrilling cricket match at the grand Dubai stadium followed by dinner. I could almost feel my heart tear apart, as I knew how much dad loved cricket. I knew that was the end of my plans for the evening.

My dad profusely thanked his friend for the generous offer but explained to him: “Jazak Allah Khair for your kindness, but I have already promised my little angel this evening. And we are very excited to spend it together. Insha’Allah, next time, when I come to Dubai, I will see you.”

My heart just jumped with joy! My dad kept his word and, as expected, I had the time of my life that evening. It will always remain with me as one of the fondest memories of my father.”

Learning: Nothing makes a greater impact in the family than making and keeping promises. Just think about it! How much excitement, anticipation and hope is created by a single promise? Similarly, when we break them, how much heartache, anger and mistrust we create! These promises define our values and are the most vital and tender of all commitments we make.

Some Facts about Imam Mahdi


Who is he?                    

  • He will be a descendent of Imam Hassan (as).
  • His name will be Muhammad and Ahmad, son of Abdullah and Amina.
  • He will become the leader of the Muslims at the age of 40 – prior to that, he will be living an ordinary life.
  • He will NEVER claim that he is a leader or Mahdi.
  • The Prophet (sa) said: “Mahdi is from my progeny (Ahl-e-Bait). Allah (swt) will grant him the qualities of leadership in one night.” (Ibn Majah and Musnad Ahmad)
  • The Prophet (sa) also said: “The world will not come to pass, until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs.” (At-Tirmidhi)
  • The Prophet (sa) said: “He will fill out the earth with peace and justice, as it will have been full of injustice and tyranny.” (At-Tirmidhi)
  • He will not be a messenger or a prophet. He will simply be a reformer and a Mujahid.

Who are his companions?

  • Practicing and able Muslims.
  • Christians – humanitarian / compassionate / not into violence.
  • Anti-Zionist Jews (who will revert to Islam).
  • They will join Mahdi – provide human resource and technology.

When, where and how will he appear?

  • Where: Makkah.
  • How: He will be sitting near the Ka’abah. Some scholars will be searching for him. They will find him there. That will the Eve of the Ashura (10th Muharram).
  • When: Near the Day of Judgement, when the world shall be in turmoil.

What are the signs of his appearance?

  • River Euphrates will dry up.
  • A mount of gold will appear in the River Euphrates.
  • Bloodshed in Mina during Hajj.
  • There will be a difference of opinion, regarding the successor of a deceased Muslim leader.
  • There will be a lunar eclipse twice and a solar eclipse once in Ramadan.

What is the role of Haris and Mansoor?

  • They will be two of his right-hand men.
  • They will do Jihad with him.
  • Haris – financier (will work in agriculture, raise funds and do Infaaq).
  • Mansoor – military analyst and commander-in-chief of his army.
  • For more details, see Abu Dawood, Hadeeth number 3839.

Isa (as) – A Vital Piece to the Puzzle

Apr 11- Isa (as) a vital piece of the puzzle

Dr. Zakir Naik very rightly observed that Muslims are the only nation on this earth that honour Prophet Isa (as) as he should be honoured. The mention of Isa’s (as) or Jesus’ life has been scripted in such an enthralling manner in the Quran that if words could paint a picture, they would have presented a beautiful portrait of this remarkable personality.

Allah (swt) has bestowed upon Isa (as) the title of Wajeehan (the one held in honour in this world and the Hereafter). A certain number of misguided Jews and Zionists have dishonoured Isa (as) and his mother Maryam (as) with all sorts of fabricated and despicable allegations. But, Alhumdulillah, we hold Isa (as) in the highest esteem that befits a true prophet and a righteous slave of Allah (swt).

His Birth

The birth of Isa (as) was a miracle by Allah (swt) to test the Iman (faith) of many. This also proved to be a treacherous trap set by Satan through which he succeeded in misguiding millions of people. The Jews adopted one extreme by maligning and rejecting Prophet Isa (as). The Christians, on the other hand, accepted the other extreme by revering him to such a level that they declared Isa (as) to be the son of Allah (swt).

His Mission

Torah was the Book sent to Musa (as) and Injeel was revealed to Isa (as). Isa (as) memorized both books to invite the children of Israel to the way of Allah (swt). Most of them remained misguided and adamant in disbelief. However some pledged their aid and loyalty to him. They were called Hawariyyun (‘Hawari’ means ‘support’ in Arabic).

His Enemies

For years, the children of Israel had awaited the arrival of their Messiah, who would ultimately raise them to the supreme position of the most honourable nation. Through his leadership, they aspired to control the world and its riches. However, when they realized that Isa’s (as) agenda was not in line with theirs, and he was a humble slave of Allah (swt) on a mission to propagate the truth, they rejected him. They also maligned his legitimate birth. The Quran exposes their nefarious crimes: “And because of their (Jews) disbelief and uttering against Maryam (as) a grave false charge (that she has committed illegal sexual intercourse).” (An-Nisa 4:156)

His Ascension

Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer explains that the children of Israel conspired against Prophet Isa (as) and complained about him to the king, who was a disbeliever. They claimed that Prophet Isa (as) was misguiding people, discouraging them from obeying the king, and causing disunity among people. The king became furious and sent his men to capture Prophet Isa (as) to torture and crucify him.

When they surrounded Prophet Isa’s (as) home, Allah (swt) raised him up to the Heaven. He put the image of Isa (as) on another man who was present in the house, while it was still dark. They captured him believing him to be Isa (as); they tortured and crucified him. Allah (swt) deceived them and hardened their hearts as a curse.

His Return (the Second Coming)

“And he (Isa, son of Maryam) shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour (Day of Resurrection) [i.e. Isa’s descent on the earth]. Therefore have no doubt concerning it (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)…” (Az-Zukhruf 43:61)

In a Hadeeth it is mentioned: “While the Imam is going forward to them [the Muslim soldiers] in Fajr Salah, Isa (as), son of Maryam (as), will descend. The Imam will step back to let Isa (as) lead people in Salah, but Isa will place his hands between the man’s shoulders and say: ‘Go forward and lead the Salah for the call to commence that Salah (Iqamah) was made for you,’ and so the Imam will lead the people in Salah.” (Ibn Majah)

On another occasion, the Prophet (sa) indicated: “Ten signs will appear before the Day of Judgement of which Isa’s second coming is the main one.” (Muslim)

His Mission to Kill Dajjal after His Second Coming

Dajjal will ultimately be killed by Isa (as) at a place called Ludd, which is a few miles from Tel Aviv. Some of us may have heard of the Ludd International Airport. This has been mentioned in the following Hadeeth: “It will be at this very time that Allah will send Christ, son of Mary. He will descend at the white minaret on the eastern side of Damascus, wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels. When he lowers his head, there will fall beads of perspiration from his head, and when he raises it up, beads like pearls will scatter from it. Every non-believer, who smells the odour of his body, will die, and his breath will reach as far as he is able to see. He will then search for him (Dajjal), until he catches hold of him at the gate of Ludd and kills him.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) has related: “The last hour will not start, until the Romans occupy Al-Amaq or Dabiq (two cities close to Aleppo in Syria). An army, comprised of the best of the people of the earth then, will come from Al-Madinah and challenge them. When they camp face to face, the Romans will say: ‘Let us fight those, who captured some of us.’ The Muslims will say: ‘Nay! By Allah, we will never let you get to our brothers.’ They will fight them. A third of the Muslim army will flee in defeat, and those are the ones Allah will never forgive. Another third will be killed, and those are the best martyrs before Allah. The last third will be victorious, and this third will never be stricken with Fitnah. And they will capture Constantinople (Istanbul). While they are dividing war booty after hanging their swords on olive trees, Shaitan will shout among them saying: ‘Al-Masih Dajjal has cornered your people.’ They will leave to meet Ad-Dajjal in Sham. This will be a false warning. And when they reach Sham, Ad-Dajjal will then appear. When the Muslims are arranging for battle and the prayer is called for, Isa, son of Maryam, will descend and lead them in prayer. When the enemy of Allah (the false Messiah) sees him, he will dissolve just as salt dissolves in water, and if any of him were left, he would continue dissolving, until he died. Allah will kill him with the hand of Isa and will show the Muslims his blood on his spear.” (Muslim)

His Life after His Second Coming

“…During his (Isa’s) time, Allah will destroy all religions except Islam and Allah will destroy Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal (the false Messiah). Safety will then fill the earth, so much so that the lions will mingle with camels, tigers with cattle and wolves with sheep. Children will play with snakes, and they will not harm them…” (Abu Dawood)

Abu Hurairah (rta) stated a Hadeeth: “Isa will say Ihlal (loud calling to say Talbiya) from the mountain of Ar-Rawha for Hajj, Umrah or both.” (Ahmad)

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “By Him (Allah) in Whose Hands my soul is, surely the son of Maryam, Isa will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) and will judge mankind justly by the Law of the Quran (as a just ruler) and will break the cross and kill the pigs and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are under the protection of the Muslim government. This Jizya tax will not be accepted by Isa. Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.” (Bukhari)

In another narration, Abu Hurairah (rta) stated that Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “How will you be, when the son of Maryam (Isa) descends amongst you, and he will judge people by the law of the Quran and not by the law of the Injeel (Gospel)?” (Bukhari)

His End

Allah’s Messenger (sa) stated: “There will be no prophet between me and the coming of Isa… He (Isa) is surely coming and will stay on earth for forty years, after which he dies and Muslims will perform burial Salah on him.” (Abu Dawood)

The evidences from the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Isa’s second coming are very powerful, and Muslims are obliged to believe in them. His role is of great significance in times to come, as he will be the final piece to the puzzle leading to the Hour, Insha’Allah.

Raising Confident Kids

Jan 11 - Raising confident kids

By Laila Brence and Maryam Asif

Every parent wishes to see their children grow into independent and confident adults, capable of handling their own life. In pursuit of this, many parents tend to fall into the trap of over-parenting, which, just like any other ‘over’, is not a desirable phenomenon. If you find yourself accompanying your grown-up children to job interviews to negotiate their salaries, it’s certain you’ve slipped into one of these ‘overs’. But how and where do we draw the line between getting involved in our children’s life, yet not accused of over-helping them which might result in the opposite of what we had in mind? The following ten suggestions will guide you towards developing your children’s confidence and self-esteem.

1. Believe in your children and show it

Let your children know they are lovable individuals. Show affection to your children – that extra amount of love will not spoil them but instead boost their confidence. If, however, you constantly show lack of trust in your children’s abilities and skills, the development of their self esteem will be hindered.

2. Give praise and positive feedback

Your children measure their worth and achievements by what you think of them. “Well done! That was hard and you managed it!” is music to young ears. Respect their struggles. Reassure them that it’s alright to make mistakes, and that it’s all part of growing up and learning about the world around them. Permitting your children to make decisions (even if wrong ones at times) helps them develop good judgmental skills.

When your children do something you told them not to and end up hurting themselves, refrain from statements such as: “See, I told you not to do it! Now, take care of it yourself!” Likewise, do not constantly threaten them with terrible consequences and punishments for not obeying you – that too can hurt their self-esteem.

3. Practice active listening

Listen carefully, repeat what you’ve heard to make sure you understand and give positive prompts to encourage your children to continue. Even if your child needs to tell you something when you’re extremely busy, do not multi-task – give them your undivided attention. Dismissing your children’s ideas and suggestions without hearing them out can hurt their self-esteem.

4. Acknowledge your children’s feelings and help them express them verbally

This is something every child needs immensely. Imagine a situation when your children end up fighting with the kids of your guests over toys. At this point, it’s important to address children’s emotions and help them articulate them. They might be feeling insecure, angry or helpless – acknowledge these feelings. This is not the time for a lecture on values and morals, as they are too occupied with their emotions, and your lecture will only aggravate their anger.

5. Criticize behaviour, not your child

This is a very easy trap to fall into. Too much criticism tells your children they are bad people. If such criticism continues over a long period of time, it can heavily damage your child’s self esteem. Be clear that it’s an action you’re angry about or it’s a behaviour you don’t like. Avoid such over-generalizations as: “You’re such a dirty kid! You never clean your room!” It may be that your children usually do clean their rooms, but on that particular day they didn’t, and you were in a bad mood anyway.

6. Focus on your children’s successes

Swimming, arts and crafts, cricket, technology, literature or social life – whatever they succeed in. It may be that they are good at swimming but not at academics. Acknowledge their success, instead of saying:

“Swimming won’t get you anywhere. If you do not do well at studies, you will never succeed.” If you acknowledge their strengths, it may be that in the future they will be motivated to work on their weak points as well.

7. Respect your children’s interests, even if they seem boring to you

Take a genuine interest in your children’s friends and what’s happening at school, and comment to show you’re listening. This will not only strengthen your communication but also give your children the message that you care about their life and interests.

8. Accept any fears or insecurities your children express as genuine

Even if they seem trivial to you, don’t just brush them aside. If your child says: “I’m useless in math,” say: “You’re obviously finding math a struggle – how can I help you?” Instead of passing such sarcastic remarks as: “With all that TV you watch, what else do you expect?” Treat issues independently, without connecting unrelated consequences to actions.

9. Encourage your children’s independence

Encourage them to take chances and try new things. Succeeding at new things gives a huge boost to confidence. Even if they will make mistakes by trying out new things, it will be a great opportunity for them to learn.

10. Laugh with your children – never at them

We all know that there are times when words can hurt more than actions. Don’t humiliate your children for their mistakes or misfortunes – if you won’t be on their side, then who will? Likewise, it is important to keep a sense of humour when difficulties arise, as it works wonders and helps your children focus on the truly significant matters in life.

Children have an innate capability to cope with the pressures and demands of the environment they are a part of. However, we cannot assume that they will learn to cope on their own. Parents should become the facilitators, who provide their children with the means to use this inner strength that they naturally posses. Simply treat your kids the way you yourself want to be treated and you can be sure to steer clear of all the ‘overs’.

The material presented in this article is based on a workshop titled “Raising Confident Kids” facilitated by Madeha Masood at ERDC (Educational Resource Development Centre).