The Real Happiness

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The real happinessBy Qainaf Najam

Gasping for breath, he strained his eyes in search of water, but all that lay ahead was the vast barren desert with the sun shining with its full fervor. He sat down, exhausted and hopeless. He was a tourist, a foreigner to this land, lost and roaming around in this desolate desert for over a week now. All his food supplies had finished the day before and no communication with the outer world was possible in this remote area. He stood up again with fresh hope and determination to set forth in search of water. After walking for miles, he saw an oasis. He rubbed his eyes thrice to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination. He felt happiness, like he had never experienced before. He felt ecstatic and ran towards it. He drank like a thirsty crow and soon as he was done, he felt the ecstasy slip away from his body. All that remained was his usual self, fresh as a cucumber after quenching his thirst.

——————————-

“Mom, I am so excited. I didn’t sleep a wink”, 24 years old Aila squealed with delight at the prospect of what lay ahead. Years of hard work had paid off and it was her turn to sport the cap and gown. Her mom smiled at her lovingly as she made breakfast for her.

At the convocation, Aila couldn’t sit still. She kept jumping up and down and roaming around with her friends, happiness etched in every line of her face. The look of pure delight on her face as the graduates threw their caps in air was impossible to catch in camera’s eye!

A week later when a relative called to congratulate her, she just smiled – the zeal and joy of the convocation day was long gone!

————————————

“Man, why do you do all this?”

“What?”

“I mean – the charity school…the hospital…the volunteer work you do…How does that benefit you?”

“That is not ‘charity work’, Salik… I’m doing that for myself.”

“For yourself, Usman? But how is a school for the needy and a hospital for the poor any good to you?”

“Why do you go to job?”

“To earn a living, so I can support my family and live a happy and peaceful life.”

“What will happen if you don’t earn anything? Will the world end?”

“Yeah, for me, it will. Because, I won’t be happy and there is no point in living when you are not happy.”

“Exactly. So basically you are working in order to be happy. It’s for your own sake…right?”

“Yes, of course!”

“So that is why I am doing what you call ‘charity and volunteer’ work. You chose to be your boss’s servant; I chose to be my God’s servant. For you, the world will end if you don’t earn money, for me, my ‘Akhirah’ will end if I don’t earn reward in this world. So I am happy doing my job for my real boss!”

——————————————-

There are three kinds of happiness – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Unless all three are satisfied, you don’t get what is called the real happiness.

Physical happiness refers to the joy every person experiences when their physical needs and desires are fulfilled. Emotional happiness is characterized by feelings you have when you achieve something that you set out for in your life. While physical and emotional happiness is a bodily need, spiritual happiness feeds the soul. Spiritual happiness increases as you increase your spiritual acts. Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest! “ (Ar-Rad 13:28)

The real essence of spiritual happiness is attained when you direct your physical and emotional happiness in the right way and then they fall under the category of spiritual happiness. That is the point where you achieve peace of mind.

“Whosoever believes and does righteous good deeds upon such shall come no fear, not shall they grieve!” (Al-Anam 6:48)

Help! My Child Doesn’t Listen!

Oct 10 - Help my child doesn't listen

By Qainaf Najam

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

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

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

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

The Understanding Formula

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

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

The Cost-Reward Theory

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

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

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

The Loving Way

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

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

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

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

Penalties and Punishments

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

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

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

Say No to ‘No’

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

Trust Allah (swt)

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

Fidya: A Relaxation

Jul 10 - Fidya

By Qainaf Najam

At the sales company where I work, my boss has the following rule: if I break a glass by accident, I have to replace it with a new one. However, if out of anger I hurl a glass across my office, I’ll be fined or punished. Leafing through the Quran, I stumbled upon some verses that appeared to reveal the inspiration behind my boss’s ingenious rule.

Following are the verses regarding the obligation of fasting. Allah (swt) says: “Observe Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him…” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

In the pre-Islamic times, the believers were either required to fast or give a fixed amount of food or money to the poor to make up for a fast. This was called Fidya, and usually the rich used to give Fidya to escape the hardships of fasting.

With the advent of Islam, this ruling was abrogated – only the physically unfit were allowed to pay Fidya. This ensured uniformity between the rich and the poor. If the rich never fast and keep paying Fidya, they can never understand the trauma of an empty belly. Also, it inculcates in them pride and love for their wealth, as they start to believe that they can escape religious obligations merely by paying a certain amount of money. Thus, the fact that every rich person cannot pay Fidya is actually a blessing from Allah Almighty, as it allows them to stand in line with the unprivileged of the society and bridge the gap separating these two socially different classes.

If a person misses a fast due to a valid reason, he has to offer its Qada by fasting an equal number of days, whenever he is able to do so. However, if he is physically unfit for fasting, he has to pay Fidya for each missed fast. This basically includes the elderly and the sick people suffering from a chronic illness. According to a Hadeeth in Bukhari, in his last years Anas (rta) used to prepare some meat with bread and give them to the poor, as he was too weak to fast himself.

The scholars vary in opinion over the case of a person, who has paid Fidya and later finds out that he is able to keep fasts. Some say it is Wajib (obligatory) upon him to offer the Qada fasts, while others argue that since he has paid the Fidya, it’s not obligatory. However, all agree that it’s preferable (Mustahab) for him to offer Qada fasts as well. For a poor person, who can neither fast nor pay Fidya, the ruling is that he must invoke Allah’s (swt) mercy. That will, Insha’Allah, exempt him from offering the Qada or paying Fidya.

“If a pregnant woman fears for herself or a feeding mother is scared for her child, then it is no sin upon them, if they do not fast. And they should both offer Fidya and there is no need to offer the Qada that is to keep an equal number of fasts later.” (Muslim)

Most of the scholars term this Hadeeth as authentic, while some argue that the relaxation of Fidya is only for the physically unfit – the rest must offer Qada fasts. In such circumstances, it is Ihsan (better) for a woman to offer Qada as well, if she is able to do so.

Fidya can be paid in two ways: the person has to either feed a poor person with the area’s main staple food for each missed fast, or give an equal amount of money. The amount of food to be given for each fast is called Mudd. One Mudd is defined as the amount one can hold in both hands, when cupped together, which is equivalent to ½ Saa of the staple food or 1.5 kg in common terms. It amounts to approximately PKR 2000 for a month, almost PKR 67 per fast. It is better, in the eyes of Allah (swt), if it is paid with a little oil or meat, as that shows the individual’s sense of responsibility towards Allah’s (swt) creation. The concept, however, is to give away the food or equivalent in cash to the poor, that is, to give him the Tamleek (ownership) of the food or money. It is not sufficient to merely invite them to a feast and feed them.

Allah (swt) uses the word Miskeen in Al-Quran for those to whom Fidya can be paid. It literally translates to the English word ‘impoverished’. In Islamic Shariah, it refers to a person, who falls short of the basic necessities of life. According to some scholars, it is particularly used for those who are entitled to receive Zakat.

One point to consider in making up the missed fasts is that one should make haste. It is preferable to make up one’s missed fasts before the arrival of next Ramadan. Some scholars go as far as laying down a ruling that says that the amount of Fidya keeps mounting with each passing year.

The option of Fidya is another reason for us to glorify the beauty of Islam that lies in its perfectly comprehensive nature. Even though Allah (swt) places fasting in the category of Fard, He (swt) also considers our human weaknesses and provides us leeway in the form of Fidya and Qada if we fall short of our obligations. This shows us the infinite wisdom of Almighty Allah (swt)!

Allah (swt) says: “… He … has not laid upon you in religion any hardship…” (Al-Hajj 22:78)

The words of Prophet Muhammad (sa), as recorded in the compilation of Imam Ahmad (rta), confirm this verse: “Allah’s (swt) Deen is not of difficulties…”

May Allah Almighty (swt) give us all the ability to carry out our religious obligations sincerely and dutifully, Ameen. Happy Ramadan!