Raising Fine Men

Vol 1-Issue 2 Raising fine menHerbert Hoover once quoted, “A boy has two jobs. One is just being a boy. The other is growing up to be a man.” This can be a journey filled with adventure; learning and much achievement, provided parents do their job well. It’s quite a formidable challenge but it’s undoubtedly worth it.

Role As Allah’s Servant

A man, who has a strong bond with Allah, can never fail as a great human being and a glorious believer. To him every intention made and action done is worship. He ensures that he never displeases his Rabb and when he makes a mistake, he hastens to amend it and ask for forgiveness. This is the believer we need to raise in our homes as Muslim parents.

Allah says in the Quran:”Verily, those who say: ‘Our Rabb is (only) Allah,’ and thereafter stand firm and straight on the Islamic Faith of Monotheism, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Such shall be the dwellers of Jannah, abiding therein (forever), – a reward for what they used to do.” (Al-Ahqaf 46:13-14)

Role As A Son

Allah commands, “And we have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents…” (Al-Ankabut 29:8)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) said, “May he be disgraced! May he be disgraced! May he be disgraced, whose parents, one or both, attain old age during his lifetime, and he does not enter Jannah (by being dutiful to them). (Muslim)

Allah has commanded to show kindness towards parents many times in the Quran. Today, however we witness two extremes with regard to children. Some parents are far too demanding and expect a service beyond their child’s capacity in terms of time and attention. Conversely some parents do not want to take any help from their children in spite of their frail and weak state. Subsequently their children become oblivious to their duties and occupy themselves with their own pursuits in life.

We should maintain a healthy balance where we can allow our sons to serve us and earn a reward for it. Simultaneously parents should maintain their dignity and grace, providing them with love and guidance.

Role As A Brother

A good Muslim brother, may it be as a real brother at home, or as a brother of every member of the Muslim Ummah, will understand his duties. Brotherhood in faith is a bond that actually binds all Muslims regardless of blood relations.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs, whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomfort of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Role As A Husband

Allah commands Husbands with regard to their wives, “…and live with them honourably…” (An-Nisa 4:19).

Allah describes the marital relationship as, “…They are Libas (i.e. body cover, screen or Sakan) for you and you are the same for them…” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

Parents should teach their sons to fulfill their role as a good husband. He should not just be a breadwinner but actively involve himself at home too. This can be done by providing time to his wife, taking care of her personal needs, communicating with her and helping her resolve any conflicts.

This is important to keep the institution of marriage intact and firm. A man who is happy at home stays away from many evils of the society. He is also more likely to deliver his rights to everyone else too if he is a good husband.

He should not be pulled like a rubber band in between his spouse and his parents. Both have essential rights and both should not be neglected. Especially in a troubled marriage, parents should never take sides and advise their sons to be patient and kind.

Role As A Father

Today’s materialistic struggle for more leaves little time for fathers to spend with their children. They may be able to pay bills, provide luxury and comfort to their kids but they are hardly around to spend any quality time with them, leave alone teach them a thing or two.

Teach your son to be a father rather than a visiting guest in the house. A son can learn much from his father in a man-to-man relationship. If his father provides the appropriate role model to him, many wrongs can be set right.

When Fatima (rta), came to visit Prophet (sa), he got up for her, took her by the hand, kissed her and made her sit where he was sitting; and when he went to visit her, she got up for him, took him by the hand, kissed him, and made him sit where she was sitting. (Abu Dawood)

This beautiful example teaches us three lessons: A good Muslim father appreciates daughters and loves them. He gives respect to his children and teaches them to respect him. He does not hesitate to show his love for his children.

Prophet (sa) said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” (Mishkat) This does not only mean academics meant to build up a career, but the norms of a cultured and decent living which is approved by Allah and His Messenger (sa).

Role As A Friend

As wise parents, we should always look for families supporting values that can offer meaningful friendships to our kids. Especially in cases of boys who spend considerable time outdoors. It is best to help our children grow friendships at school, Masaajid, social clubs etc before they reach their teens. Till such time kids idolize their parents and are more likely to listen to them. Talk to them about their friends; have them come over so you can observe their habits.

The worst mistake that any parent can make is to pay no attention to the company their son is keeping. Many times bad habits are brought home from bad companions due to peer pressure.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the Musk-seller and the Blacksmith. As for the musk-seller, he may either give you some or sell you, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the blacksmith, around him you may get your clothes burned, or have to sniff an offensive smell from him.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Role With Relatives

Our present life style generally gives preference to friends over relatives. However as responsible Muslim parents we must teach our sons the vital place of family relations in a believer’s life. Maintaining cordial relations and providing selfless support to relatives is our duty and their right.

The Prophet (sa) said, “O community of Muhammad, by Him Who has sent me with truth, Allah cannot accept the charity of those whose relatives are in want of his kindness and help, while he is distributing it among others, leaving them out. By Him in Whose power is my life, on the Day of Judgment Allah will not look at such a man.” (Tabrani)

The children are ordained not to severe ties with relatives even after the death of their parents.

A man came to Prophet (sa) and asked, “Messenger of Allah, is there any kindness left that I can do for my parents after their death?” The Prophet (sa) replied, “Yes. You can invoke blessings on them and forgiveness for them, carry out their final instructions after their death, join ties of relationship which are dependent on them, and honour their friends.” (Abu Dawood)

Role With The Fair Sex

Allah commands: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)…” (An-Nur 24:30)

He also says, “…Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah).”(Al-Isra 17:36)

Ibn Abbas (rta) reported, the Prophet (sa) said, “No one of you should meet a woman in privacy unless she is accompanied by a Mahram (a relative within the prohibited degrees).” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Joking with our boys about girlfriends, permitting them to chat on the phone or internet with girls and encouraging them to mix up freely with females in parties or elsewhere, does it suit us as Muslim parents to follow such a course? Our sons will only learn to respect women if we train them to do so, otherwise they will always consider them as an object of fun and play.

Allah warns us in the Quran:”And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial, and that surely with Allah is a Mighty Reward.” (Al-Anfal 8:28)

Once the Messenger of Allah (sa) was delivering a speech. Meanwhile, (his little grandsons) Hasan and Hussain (rta) arrived, stumbling and wearing red shirts. He came down from the pulpit, took them, and ascended it with them. Then he said, “Allah has said truly: ‘Your property and your children are only a trial…'” (At-Taghabun 64:15)… Afterwards he resumed the speech. (Abu Dawood)

We must make every possible effort to bring up good believing kids and leave the rest to Allah. Along side we can pray earnestly, “…Our Lord, grant us spouses and off springs who will be the comfort of our eyes…” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

True Stories Of Exemplary Mothers

Many years ago in Uzbekistan, a baby boy was born blind. His mother, a strong Mu’minah, did not lose faith in the Power of Allah to cure him. She persistently prayed for her son’s sight. Within a few years the boy was cured.

She was widowed, the boy an orphan. She travelled with him to Makkah so that he could receive Islamic Education. She arranged that he attend the circles of the scholars. Consequently, he began excelling in the science of Hadeeth. He travelled to distant villages in search of the most authentic sayings of the Prophet (sa).He would pray two Rakahs before accepting a Hadeeth. His mother named him Muhammad ibn Isma’il. And many of us know him today because of the book he compiled, Saheeh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari!

In another land, in another time, chilly Baghdad winds would wake up another boy. Much before Fajr, his mother would bundle him in warm shawls and escort him through the darkness, making sure he reached the Masjid safely. After Fajr, she would wait for him as he read Hadeeth to the biggest scholars of the land. Then, long after the sun had come up, she would meet him outside and together they would walk home. She was a strong mother indeed, for her son grew up to become an Imam of the Muslim Ummah, named Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Common Pitfalls To Avoid

  • Considering boys to be superior.
  • Forgoing lessons in morality
  • Exempting them from household work.
  • Turning a blind eye to questionable behaviour.
  • Turning over your authority to them.
  • Encouraging them excessively to be ambitious.
  • Raising them as selfish and inactive members of the community.
  • Considering every choice of theirs as private, personal and final.

Ibn Sina

Rym Aoudia sheds light on the life and accomplishments of a pioneer in early research and medicine 

The great Muslim physician and philosopher Abu Ali al-Hussain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina (980-1037 C.E) is known as Avicenna in the West, which is the Europeanized Hebrew translation of his name (Aven Sina). He was born in a village near Bukhara, now Uzbekistan. His native language was Persian, and his father had him very carefully educated. He was an intelligent child, and by the age of ten, he had memorized the Noble Quran and was highly knowledgeable in the Arabic language. For six years, he had dedicated his time to the study of Muslim jurisprudence, philosophy, natural science, logic, geometry, and advanced mathematics. He also focused greatly on the study of medicine, and by the age of seventeen, he became a well-known physician and came to be known as the, “doctor of doctors”.

Being a famous physician, Ibn Sina had the opportunity to cure many important people. As a seventeen year old, he cured Nooh ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhara, of an illness that puzzled many renowned physicians. In return, he was allowed to make use of the king’s distinctive library. He also treated Shams al-Dawlah, the king of Hamadan, from a severe colic.

With his father’s death, Ibn Sina had to support himself and therefore traveled to Jurjaniyah and offered his services to the Khawarzmian dynasty. Meanwhile, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna demanded Ibn Sina’s attendance in his own court. Ibn Sina decided to escape instead, and went to Gurgan (Turkmenistan) and then to Jurjan (Iran). Afterwards, he journeyed to Ray (Iran) and began his service with Prince Shams al-Dawlah.

In Ray, Ibn Sina achieved a position as a vizier. This position displeased the military and made Ibn Sina go into exile once again.  When Shams al-Dawlah became sick, he called on Ibn Sina to cure him.  After curing the Prince, he held his position again as a vizier. Later on he served Prince Ala al-Dawla in Iran. Fifteen years after serving him, Ibn Sina decided to journey back to Hamadan (Iran).  Ibn Sina died in this journey, and is now buried in Hamadan

Despite the positions held in royal courts, Ibn Sina continued seeking knowledge and writing books. His major contribution to medical science was his famous book “al-Qanun fil al-Tib”, known as the Canon of Medicine in the West. The book is an immense encyclopedia of medicine extending over a million words. “al-Qanun fil al-Tib” consists of five books.  For seven centuries, the Canon served as a vital source in medical teaching and practice.

Another great work is “Kitab al-Shifa”, the Book of Healing, which is a philosophical encyclopedia. The book consists of 20 volumes, and it is the longest treatise on philosophy ever written by a single man.  He also had other philosophical works, such as, “al-Najat” and “Isharat”.

Not only was Ibn Sina an eminent physician and philosopher, he was also a great poet and was politically active. He wrote books on mathematics, astronomy, psychology, geology, and logic. With all these accomplishments, Ibn Sina had to work hard and was known to greatly exhaust himself.  He was therefore advised to lead a moderate life. Yet, he simply replied, “I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length.”

Even though he died at the early age of fifty seven, he left behind many momentous books.  Some sources attribute more than a hundred books to Ibn Sina, while others attribute more than two hundred. Nevertheless, Ibn Sina provided the world with knowledge that served many generations, and which is appreciated even today.

Beautiful Names

Vol 2 -Issue 4     Beautiful names“And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them…” (Surah Al-Araaf 7:180)  Dr.Sadaf Shiekh and Umm Saad re-discover the Majesty of the Creator’s names.

1. Ar-Rahmaan: The Compassionate

The term Rahmaan comes from the Arabic word Rahmah. This name is exclusively for Allah, which encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has. Rahmah means tenderness, which makes one show kindness to others. Thus, Ar-Rahmaan means that Allah has much mercy and love for His creation.

“And He gave you of all that you asked for and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them…” (Ibrahim 14:34)

“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah…” (Al-Nahl 16:53)

Since Allah has bestowed so much from the time when man was a drop of fluid in his mother’s womb till the time he dies, he should feel embarrassed to disobey Him. Another aspect of this name can be understood by the following Hadeeth, “Allah the Exhalted said, I am Ar-Rahman. I created the Rahm (womb, family relations) and derived a name for it from my name. Hence whoever keeps it, I will keep ties with him. And who ever severs it I will severe ties with him.” (Tuhfat Al – Ahwadhi 6:33)

2. Ar-Raheem: The Merciful

This is also derived from the word Rahma. But the difference is that Allah is Ar-Rahman to His creations but Ar-Raheem to the believers only. “And He is ever Raheem (merciful) to the believers.” (No reference of ayah)

Ar-Raheem is less general and softer than Ar-Rahman. Mercy is the patience and forgiveness that Allah holds for us and which flows from Him to all His creation, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to goodness. The Mercy of Allah is for everyone, while His justice and punishment are kept for those who turn away from the goodness. The benefits that we receive from others are because of Allah’s mercy to them and us. Allah says, “…My mercy embraces all things…” (Al-A’raf 7:156)

Allah has also described others by this name, “Verily there has come to you a Messenger from amongst yourself. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad sa) is anxious over you, for the believers he (sa) is kind and Raheem.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

A true Momin considers how generous and compassionate Allah has been to him in all of his affairs. To achieve more of that mercy, he humbles himself to Allah with sincere humility, supplications, best of speech and good deeds.

3. As-Samad: The Independent

This is one of the greatest names of Allah. Allah mentions this name in Surah Al-Ikhlas, which is equivalent to a third of the Quran. Al A’mash reported from Shaqiq who said that Abu Wail said, “As Samad is the master whose control is complete.” (Al Tabari 24:692)

Ikrimah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “That Allah As-Samad means the one Who all of the creation depends upon for their needs and their requests.” Ali bin Talhah (rta) reported from Ibn Abbas (rta),  “He is the Master Who is perfect in His sovereignty, the Most Noble Who is perfect in His nobility, the Most Magnificent Who is perfect in His magnificence, the Most Forbearing Who is perfect in his knowledge, and the Most Wise Who is perfect in his wisdom. He is the One who is perfect in all aspects of nobility and authority. He is Allah, glory be unto Him. These attributes are not befitting anyone other than Him. He has no co-equal and nothing is like Him. Glory be to Allah, the One Irresistible.” (Al Tabari 24:692)

Upbringing Children the Prophet’s (sa) Way!

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children

When Allah grants us parenthood, He also gives us an enormous responsibility.

Loads of books are being written about the up bringing of children. Various theories are put up from time to time, but for a Muslim the best example is in the life of the Prophet (sa). Now let us understand some basic responsibilities as a parent.

To choose a good life partner

Only a good Muslim woman who knows her responsibilities as a believer can bring up children as good Muslims. So when a Muslim man marries he must first consider this quality. The Prophet (sa) said,” A woman may be married for four reasons: Beauty, wealth, family lineage and faith. So marry a woman of faith.” (Abu Dawood)

Similarly, children need a good Muslim father to have a correct upbringing, so this aspect should be thought of too, and just materialistic concerns are not enough. Think about it, do we not first check the soil in which we plant a seed?

To give our children a good name:

Since a person’s name is a pivotal part of his identity, much emphasis has been placed on selection of the best suitable name for a newborn child. The Prophet (sa) said, “On the day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s name. So give yourselves a good name.” (Abu Dawood)

Today we are prone to selecting names that are unique or sweet sounding. It is astounding to know that even parents sometimes have no clue to the meaning of their child’s name. It is a child’s right to be given a name that personifies the character of a strong believer.

To follow Sunnahs of the Prophet (sa) when a child is born:

These Sunnahs are not obligatory but are highly recommended:

A) Reciting the Adhan in the baby’s ear

B) Tahneek (initial feeding of the child at the hands of someone pious)

C) Tasmiya (naming)

D) Aqiqah (sacrifice for the new born / shaving the hair)

E) Khitan (circumcision of the male child)

To provide sustenance to the infant:

The mother of the child has to breastfeed for two years as is clear from this ayah of the Quran: “And the mother shall breast feed their children for two full years for those desiring to complete the (limit of the term of) breast feeding, and the feeding and clothing of them rests upon the father in a suitable manner…” (Al-Baqarah 2-33)

Medicine today proves that children who are breastfed are not only likely to be physically stronger and mentally more intelligent but emotionally also their bonding with their mothers is far better due to the closeness and security they experience in their formative years. Similarly the father is responsible for providing the child’s needs.

To show kindness towards children:

Children should be treated with love. Kindness should be the basic method of teaching. Anas (rta) who served the Prophet (sa) as a child said “I served him for nine years, but I do not know that he ever said to me about anything I did, why I did that, or about anything I had neglected, why I had not done that.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) wife Aisha (rta) said that a poor woman came to her together with her two daughters. Aisha (rta) gave her three dates. The woman gave a date to each of them, and then she picked up the remaining date and brought it to her mouth to eat it but her daughters wanted it. She then divided the date that she had intended to eat between them. This kind treatment of hers impressed Aisha (rta) and she mentioned it to the Prophet (sa). At that, he said, “Truly, Allah has assured Paradise for her because of this (action) of hers, or He has rescued her from Hellfire.” (Sahih Muslim)

To teach them good morals and manners:

To give children religious knowledge is Fard  (obligatory) on a parent. The Prophet (sa) said, “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years of age, and spank them if they do not pray when they are ten.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Prophet (sa) also said, “Allah will give shade to seven (kinds of people) on the day when there will be no shade but His.” The second of those whom he mentioned is ‘a youth’ who has been brought up in the worship of his Lord.” (Sahih Bukhari)

To treat our chidren equally:

One of the methods of wise upbringing is for the parents to treat all their children equally.

The father of a companion of the Prophet (sa), Numan ibn Bashir (rta) went to the Messenger of Allah (sa) and said, “I have given a gift to my son from Amrah bint Rawahah but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (sa) asked, “Have you given (an equivalent gift) to each one of your sons?” The father replied in the negative. The Messenger of Allah (sa) then said, “Fear Allah and be just to your children.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Unfortunately many Muslim societies are influenced by non-Muslim cultures. In these societies daughters are considered inferior to the sons. Although the Prophet (sa) said

“Whoever has three daughters, and is patient, then gives them food and drink and clothes them from his earnings, they will be for him a shield against the fire of the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad)

To show patience towards children:

Shaddad (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) went out carrying Hasan or Hussain (rta) and when he came forward to lead the prayer, he put the child down and commenced the prayer. He prostrated himself and stayed in this position for such a long time. I raised my head and saw the child on his back, the people said, “O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated for such a long time.” He said, ” My child was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.” (Ahmad and An Nisai)

To make friends with our children:

Adolescent children are learning many new things from the outside world. This is the time when they need to be made friends with. The parents’ relationship with them should be such that they can confide in them. The peer pressure at this age can compel a child to choose wrong ways. Parents should act as anchors to children throughout their lives so that by the will of Allah they can be guided to the straight path.

To pray sincerely for our children’s guidance:

Last but not the least, it is important to pray for our children. Quran says: “…Our Lord, bless us with right guidance in all our matters.” (Al-Kahf 18:10)

We may pray: “My Lord, make me steadfast in Salah, and from among my children as well. And, our Lord, grant my prayer.” (Ibrahim 14:40)

It also teaches us to pray, “And seek help in patience and As-Salaat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for al Khashi’un…” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

Months and More

Sabahat Anwar explores the meanings, significance and historical background of Islamic months

Jumâda-ul-Awwal- 5th month of the Islamic calendar


Jumad means ‘freezing’. When the months were being named, this month fell during winter – when water freezes; hence it was named Jumadal Ula.

Jumâda-ath-Thani- 6th month of the Islamic calendar


This month occurred towards the end of winter – when water freezes, hence it was named Jumadal Akhir.


No ibadat has been specified for the above two months, but as mentioned before, fasts on Mondays and Thursdays, when gates of Paradise are opened and on Ayaam-e-Bidh (13th, 14th and 15th of each month) should be observed as per Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) practice.

Rajab – 7th month of the Islamic calendar

Allah with His perfect wisdom and knowledge has chosen and preferred some days and months to others. He states in Quran: “Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” (At-Taubah 9:36)

The names of these four months, of which Rajab is one, are mentioned in the following Hadeeth:

Abu Bakrah (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) gave his Farewell Sermon and said: “Time has completed its cycle and is as it was on the Day when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred, three consecutive months – Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram – and the Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’ban.” (Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari)


Rajab has the following meanings:

  1. To ‘respect’: Since the Arab tribe of Mudar respected and venerated this month a lot, they named it ‘Rajab’ (of Mudar).
  2. It is the name of a river in Jannah in which exceptionally sweet water, whiter than milk, flows. Fasting in this month will, Insha’Allah, enable us to have the honour of drinking from this river.

A year before migration, in the month of Rajab, the Prophet (sa) made a miraculous journey on a white winged animal, ‘Al-Buraq’, up through the seven heavens and into the presence of Allah – all in one night. This journey is known as ‘Mairaj’. Allah gave the Prophet (sa) three gifts on this occasion:

  1. The ending Ayats (last Ruku) of Surah Baqarah.
  2. The good news of salvation to those of his Ummah who do not commit Shirk.
  3. The compulsory five times Salâh. This is the only act of worship, from among the pillars of Islam, which was made obligatory before the Hijrah. It’s a miraculous gift for Muslims – a chance to be near Allah as the Prophet (sa) was on that miraculous night.


Despite beliefs to the contrary, learned scholars say that nowhere in the Sunnah do we find that the Prophet (sa) fasted on the twenty-seventh of Rajab. No Ibadah has been specified for this month.

The Prophet (sa) also did not fast for three consecutive months (i.e., Rajab, Sha’ban and Ramadan) as some people do, and he never fasted Rajab at all, nor did he encourage people to fast this month. (related by Imam ibn al Qayyim)

Sacrifices should not be made because of the month of Rajab either. The Prophet (sa) said, “Offer sacrifices, no matter which month is it…” (Abu Dawood, Al-Nasai and Ibn- Majah)

Turkey: Cradle of Civilization

Vol 1-Issue 2  TurkeyTurkey is a unique republic located on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The friendly, courteous Turkish people have been hosting visitors in one form or another for centuries. Driving is surprisingly safe, scenery ranges from dull to mind-boggling, beaches are fair, prices are low and shopping is excellent, especially leather ware in Istanbul.

“Go for the history, but stay for the food,” is often said of Turkey

Asitane Restaurant
The stylish eating-place at the garden level offers gourmet specialties dating back to the Ottoman age along with contemporary dishes.

Bosphorus Hotel Restaurant
It is converted into a fine restaurant, which was formerly a boathouse of a historical resident. The restaurant’s site is directly on the Bosphorus river.

Buzz Bar Restaurant
The breakfast, snacks, dessert and meals through the day are served in a shady vineyard garden. A selection of mezes is accompanied by a glass of Raki or “lion’s milk”.

Breads, pastries and pancakes

Among the simple pleasures in Turkish food are the Simit, a ring-shaped bread covered by sesame seeds. Gözleme, a kind of pancake, is often the basis for light dinners. Tea (çay) is the national drink. Turkish coffee, the Kahve is served in a small cup, optionally with a glass of cold water.

Variety of eateries

The Kebab is grilled meat. Then we have the Sis kebap and the Döner kebap (stacks of meat that are kept in a vertical stick, rotating to keep warm and roasting, are surface-cut to tiny flakes that fall into a piece of bread). Several types of cheese are eaten but the soft, slightly salty and whitish Tulum tops all. The Bklava, is a small rectangular pastry made of dozens of layers with either pistachio or walnut, imbibed in sugar syrup.

Historical Places

Blue Mosque

This mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet in the early 1600s. Even today it is the centre of religious demonstrations. As this mosque has numerous blue Iznik tiles in the interiors, which illuminate from the light of the two hundred and sixty windows, it was given the nickname of blue mosque. This is the only mosque in the world, which has six minarets.

Topkapi Palace

Fatih Sultan Mehmet built this palace in the fifteenth century, and it served as an Ottoman residence from the 1500’s to the 1800’s. It is located at the junction of the Bosphorus,

Marmara Sea, and the Golden Horn. There are several gardens, courtyards and beautiful trees. Inside, you will find a display of oriental porcelain, crystal and silver, jewels and clothing worn during the Ottoman reign.

Beylerbeyi Palace

In recent years, it has been used as a guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries. The palace has a pool and fountain leading up to a magnificent staircase. Kiosks and pavilions are the decorations on the grounds. One of the highlights is the terraced garden of magnolias at the base of the Bosphorus Bridge.

Dolmabahce Palace

It is located on the European shore of the Bosphorus and was built as a showplace by the Ottomans. One gets to see exquisite crystal items here, even a piano! This three-story building has two hundred and eighty five rooms, four large salons, six galleries and six bathrooms.

Rumeli Fortress

The purpose of the fortress was to block ships from going in and out of Istanbul.

Yerebatan Palace Inside the huge building, there is a few feet of water but wooden walkways have been built for visitors. The interior of the building has special dim lighting to create an eerie atmosphere.

Eyüp Sultan Mosque

Built by Mehmet the Conqueror, this is one of the most sacred places in the Islamic world. This mosque covers the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyûb (known as Eyüp Sultan) who was the standard bearer for the Prophet Mohammad (saw).

Yildiz Palace and Park

The Sultan’s carpentry workshop, Marangozhane, is now a museum where you can see some of his woodwork projects. The park is a popular spot for the locals who want to enjoy the gardens and get away from the bustle of the city.


Kariye Museum

The original church was named Church of St Saviour in Chora, which means the church in the countryside. Built in the 11th century, it was converted to a mosque in 1453. It is used as a museum now, containing the finest display of Byzantine mosaics in the city.


Turkish and Islamic Art Museum

It contains over forty thousand items and some date back to the 17th century. Included in the collection are textiles, metalwork, calligraphy and woodwork. The feature of this museum is the carpet display that has some exhibits dating back to the 13th century.

Archaeological Museums

The museums were opened in 1891 in Turkey. Osman Hamdi Bey, a 19th century painter and archaeologist fought the government in order to stop the smuggling of antiques out of the country. There are over one million items in this large collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Furthermore, there is a diversity of things to do ranging from water sports to mountain trekking, archaeology to river rafting. Whether you leave Turkey with magnificent gifts or an appreciation of its history, you are likely to want to go back for more.


Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar consists of 4,000 shops on a series of covered streets leading to a central avenue. The oldest sections are the Sandal Bedesten (cloth auction) and Cevahir Bedesten (jewellery market). The streets are named according to the trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, slipper sellers, boot sellers, booksellers, purse makers, etc.

Altamira Antiques
Altamira is a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of a place; furniture, bric-a-brac, ornaments, clocks, it is all here. Fascinating bits and pieces are crammed into the little 2-storey shop.

Shaping Eternity

Nayyara Rahman writes, a teacher affects eternity and there is no telling when his or her influence stops

Our ninth grade teacher once told us during a lesson that, “A teacher is the one whose wisdom and guidance fills your time on this Earth with inspiration and contentment and makes the afterlife a place of eternal rest.”

At that time, there was a unanimous “hmmm” and we went back to our class work, but her words had sowed the seed. We often talked about the teacher-student relationship long after we passed out of school. And, although our opinions often change, there are a few things most of us agree upon.

For most of us, teachers have been role models and a source of inspiration. Textbook material is just a sliver of all that they teach us. Where would we be if our teachers had not spent precious classroom time telling us the importance of honesty, integrity, and dignity?

Because one’s relationship with a teacher happens to be an intellectual one, there is a great deal of mental intimacy involved too. We trust our teachers with ideas we would be embarrassed to express in public. There is an unspoken understanding of confidence and appreciation.

Many of us believe that we are the only ones sweating it out in schoolrooms. Conversely, most teachers I have had, had a policy of solving timed papers themselves before testing their students with it. Very often, they have gone to great pains to supply us with the latest developments in their subjects.

However, the real trouble begins when a teacher’s teaching style is not compatible to the student’s learning style. As they say, “In teaching it is the method and not the content that is the message… the drawing out, not the pumping in.”

With a bizarre concept of freedom of choice, students today also assess their teachers quite critically. They paint a specific picture of their mentor in their minds. It works like a computer identification seeking the right password. The minutest mismatch can deny the teachers, access to a student’s attention, respect and loyalty.

Sellar and Yeatman once quoted, “For every person wishing to teach there are thirty not wanting to be taught.” Very often, I wonder how teachers bear us. (No offence to particularly sprightly occupants of the classroom). Only Herculean efforts let them tolerate us when we ardently display our limited collection of some very distorted facts.

The bond between a student and education in earlier times was unique. Imam Su’bah said, “If I ever saw someone running in the streets of the village I would only think one of two things: He was either crazy or a student of Hadeeth!” Today we might do that for the premier of a movie of course.

Times have changed drastically. Students today treat their teachers as if they are going 10-pin bowling with them and they were not sure they want their teacher’s company. Whatever happened to deference? A thing of the past, I guess.

John Sutherland, a professor of English literature observes, “Now teaching is ‘sold’. Students ‘buy’ it. They are, in short, customers in a marketplace. Higher education, thanks to fees is ‘customerized’. This means the traditional relationship between lecturer and student has been irrevocably eroded.”

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition. No matter how smart we may be, we cannot treat our teachers disdainfully. It is poor in taste, and reflective of a loser. It would be nice of us if we at least valued and respected them for who they are. Time only tells how teachers influence eternity.

The Best Prescription

Islam considers health to be one of the most important blessings given to human beings by Allah. Good health is something for which we are accountable to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said, “The first thing every servant of Allah will have to account for on the Day of Judgment is that he will be asked by Allah, Have I not given you a healthy constitution and have I not quenched your thirst with cold water?” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) also said, “No one will be allowed to move from his position on the Day of Judgment until he has been asked how he spent his life; how he used his knowledge; how he earned and spent his money; and in what pursuits he used his health.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The preservation of this blessing can only be achieved through taking good care of one’s health and taking every measure to maintain and enhance it. Moreover, the Quran and the Sunnah contain teachings, which show every Muslim how to protect his health generally and how to take care of each of his organs. Numerous examples can be given. Prominent among these is Wudhu (ablution), which Islam regards as compulsory whenever it is invalidated.


Another act of worship, which also helps to maintain good health, is taking a shower, or Ghusl. This is compulsory when one is in the state of ritual impurity. We read in the Quran, “If you are defiled (following sexual intercourse or a wet dream) then purify yourselves.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) The Prophet (sa) also recommended his followers to have a shower on many occasions, such as on Fridays. He said, “He who comes to Friday prayer should first have a shower.” (Agreed upon)

Bathing is also recommended on the two feasts. Taking a shower is also recommended for entering into the state of consecration (Ihram); whether for Hajj (pilgrimage) or Umra (lesser-pilgrimage); after washing the body of a deceased person in preparation for burial; for praying for rain or eclipse of the sun; before secluding oneself for prayer; when body odour becomes too strong; and before attending any social gathering.

Hands, Feet, Nails, etc

Islamic teachings are not confined to general cleanliness, but also take care of local cleanliness, such as washing one’s hands. The Prophet (sa) used to wash his hands before eating. We are also recommended to clip our nails. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said, “Five practices are part of natural cleanliness: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, plucking out the armpit hair, cutting the nails and trimming the moustache.” (Agreed upon).

A Muslim is also supposed to keep the feet clean, for the Prophet (sa) used to rub in between his toes with his little finger when he performed his ablutions.” (Abu Dawood) He also said, “Woe to heels (from the punishment of Hell if they are not washed). Perform the ritual of ablution properly.”(Abu Dawood)

Mouth and Teeth

Islamic teachings also take care of the cleanliness of one’s mouth. We are required to rinse our mouths, as the Prophet (sa) said, “When you perform ablutions, rinse your mouth.”(Abu Dawood). The Prophet (sa) also said, “Rinse your mouth after drinking milk, because it contains fat.”(Abu Dawood). We are also commanded to keep our gums clean. The Prophet described the process of cleaning one’s teeth as “purification of one’s mouth, and an act that is pleasing to the Lord.” (Al-Nasa’i). The Prophet (sa) also said, “If I were not afraid that it would be too hard for the community, I would have asked Muslims to brush their teeth whenever they prayed.” (Agreed upon)

Eyes, Ears, Nose

Another aspect of health protection is to keep clean one’s ears, eyes, nose, hair and genitals. It has been authentically reported that the Prophet wiped his ears, using his forefingers to clean them from inside and his thumbs on the outside, thus wiping them both inside and out. It is also authentically reported concerning cleanliness of the eyes that the Prophet used to wipe the inner corner of the eye. We are also recommended to clean our noses, for the Prophet said, “When any of you perform the ablutions, introduce water into the nose and then blow it out.” (Ibn-Majah). Science has proven that the act of inhaling water slightly in order to moist the inner top of the nose is beneficial for Sinus patients since it clears away germs.

Hair and Private Parts

With regard to keeping the hair clean, the Prophet said, “He who has hair should take good care of it.” (Abu Dawood). Local cleanliness particularly includes the genitals and private parts. Anas (rta), the Prophet’s servant, said, “When the Prophet defecated, I brought him water to wash with.” (Agreed upon). Aisha (rta), the Prophet’s wife, told Muslim women, “Tell your husbands to wash their private parts with water, for I am too shy to tell them so. The Prophet (sa) used to do that.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It is part of the duty of every Muslim, therefore, to safeguard this blessing and not to allow any change to overcome it through ill usage. Islam put stress on human body’s cleanliness. In summary, our healthy body is a gift from Allah and we are the trustees. We should not misuse it, nor provide wrong raw product for the factory and should keep superb maintenance of this delicate and sensitive machine, in order to enjoy Allah’s blessings. It is after all, the container of our soul.

Learning to Manage Time

Many of us would agree that today time seems to be slipping through our fingers much faster than a year ago. Mehreen Ganny has summarized for you a unique approach to time management that has changed lives.

Do you leave your work to pile up till the very last night before the deadline? Stressed and exhausted, keeping awake by drowning in endless cups of coffee. . . I can surely put myself in this category. But my attitude towards organizing time, changed the day I began attending “Strategic Time Management” course by Suleman Ahmer. His approach to this topic is unique, for it combines worldly and Islamic knowledge.

Mr. Ahmer began the course by making us realize the difference between ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ tasks. In defining ‘urgent’, most of us tend to include ‘important’ with it.  When I was asked to define ‘urgent’, I said: “Something important, which has to be done instantly’. However, the correct definition of ‘urgent’ is: “Any action of ours that cannot wait and, if delayed, will lose its relevance”.

‘Important’ on the other hand is “Any action of ours that takes us towards our goal or objective” Similarly “Any action that takes us away from our goal or does not take us towards our goal is called ‘not important’”.

Time Quadrants

Once we understood the difference between ‘important’ and ‘urgent’, we broke down our activities into four quadrants:

Q1: Urgent and Important Q2: Urgent and Not Important
Q3: Not Urgent and Important Q4: Not Urgent and Not Important

All our activities can be categorized according to these four quadrants.

Q1 Activities

These activities are ‘important’ and ‘urgent’. Breathing, responding to a heart attack, or reaching an airport for a flight – all of these are Q1 activities.

Q1 activities are important, because they lead to an urgent goal. If these activities are not done at their due time, they lose their relevance. If we will not respond immediately to somebody having a heart attack, the person will die, and we will not complete our goal of saving his/her life.

We should avoid creating Q1 activities for ourselves, by leaving our tasks till the very last moment. Suppose, your report is due on the 10th of June and you have the whole month of May for completing it. Nevertheless, you start your work only on the 9th of June. Your report has now become urgent, which has increased the level of your stress unnecessarily. Remember, all activities of Q1 happen under high level of stress.

Q2 Activities

Q2 activities include tasks, which are ‘not important’ but ‘urgent’. This is a tricky category. Going to a concert, checking your horoscope, or celebrating a birthday all are Q2 activities. At first, I could not understand, why going to a concert fits in Q2, if it does not concern me at all – since I do not participate in concerts, they do not affect my life. The reason turned out to be that although concerts do not affect my life, they still take place. If a concert is scheduled for the 14th of August, it will happen on this date, no matter if I attend it or not. Therefore, it becomes urgent, but since it does not lead to any goal, it is not important.

Q3 Activities

This is the category, in which true Muslims should spend their whole life. Activities of this quadrant are ‘important’ but not ‘urgent’, and there is no stress involved in carrying out these tasks. If Q3 activities are not done in their due time, they end up becoming Q1 activities. Take, for example, Fajr Salah. The time of the Adhan is 5:15 am, the sun rises at 6:30 am, and the average time needed for the prayer is 10 minutes. If you wake up for prayer at 5:30 am, it is a Q3 activity; however, if you wake up only at 6:25 am, it becomes a Q1 activity.

Doing Q3 activities makes one relaxed. Since you have ample time you focus better, maximize your potential and produce best results. Looking at the Salah example, if I were to leave it for the last second I would rush to finish it and not have any value in my prayer. To avoid urgency, we must complete our activities on time. This can only happen if we do not give priority to wasteful activities that eat up on our valuable time.

Q4 Activities

This quadrant is my favourite one – ‘not important’ and ‘not urgent’. Daydreaming, slouching before the TV, reading comics, and gossiping! By leaving out these activities, we instantly gain lots of extra time for focusing on what is truly important. Remember – Q4 activities are those that have no significance at all. They may be pleasing to our desires and aroused by Satan, since he wants us to be losers, but in reality they only take us far away not only from Allah but also our goal in life.

Keeping a Notebook and a Scheduler

Start out by getting organized. In the morning, wake up 45 minutes early and plan your day. Have a proper scheduler with a detailed time frame. Write down all your appointments, plan the time for studies, and do not forget about the time you wish to spend with your kids. If you will check your scheduler every morning, you will not miss any of your activities.

Also, clear your mind from unnecessary information like recipes, phone numbers or new e-mail addresses. Record all of these in a mini-notebook as soon as you hear them. Later, transfer this information into its proper place, for example, your recipes book or telephone directory etc.

Saying NO!

Learning to say no is a big relief! However, when requested something, most of us face the problem of saying ‘no’. If a friend or a family member needs you when you already are in a Q1 situation with your own responsibilities, it is better to say ‘no’, followed by a brief explanation. If the request is urgent and cannot wait and you obviously are unable to help, guide the person requesting to a dependable source that can help him/her instead. This way you give the person another option and not hurt their feelings.

Similarly the phrase “Insha’Allah” is nowadays being used as an escape from saying ‘no’. Use this expression only with your sincere intentions. If someone invites you for a visit, do not commit, knowing that later you will cancel the plan. Always keep your promises and make honest commitments.

Cure for Tardiness

How can you avoid being late? The answer is simple: ‘Keep a buffer time’. Suppose, you need twenty minutes for reaching the place of your destination. Before setting off, consider all the hurdles that might come in your way – a flat tire, stopping at a gas station, rush time traffic, etc. Calculate the time you might need for these activities (your ‘buffer time’) and add it to your twenty minutes. Leave your house according to your new calculation and you will avoid being late!

What if your ‘hurdle activities’ do not occur and you reach your destination early? Take along a Q3 activity like carrying a book, in case if there is a little time left over here and there. This way, the time does not get wasted.

By attending Mr. Ahmer’s course, many people have made radical changes in their lives. Family relationships have improved and environments within companies have changed. Do YOU want a change in your life too? Start following the above tips and believe it or not you will be a more organized and happier person Insha’Allah!

Islamic Finance and Banking: How It All Began

financeBackground of the system

The first experiment of Islamic banking started in1963, when Mit Ghamr Saving Bank began a project offering interest free banking in Egypt. The project was a success and led the bank to open four new branches by 1967. In the same year, eight new banks started offering interest free banking.

It was the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) summit in 1974, in Lahore, Pakistan that fostered the concept of an “Islamic bank” and recommended the creation of an Islamic Development Bank. There are estimated to be over 200 Islamic financial institutions all over the world. The industry is said to be growing at rate of 15% per annum. Not only do a number of Islamic countries such as, Kuwait, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Brunei, Bangladesh and Pakistan have Islamic financial institutions, but many non-Muslim countries also house Islamic institutions. Some of these non-Muslim countries include USA, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and Sri Lanka. Major international conventional banks, such as Citibank, ANZ Grindlays, ABN Amro, HSBC, and Standard Chartered also have Islamic windows.

Islamic banking in Pakistan

Financial institutions in Pakistan seem to follow a cautious “wait and see” approach towards Islamic banking. A number of key players have obtained a license for conducting Islamic banking operations. These include: Meezan Bank Limited, Faysal Bank Limited, Al Baraka Islamic Bank and First Islamic Investment Bank. Meezan Bank is already operating as the first Islamic bank of Pakistan since May 1, 2002 when it acquired the Pakistani operations of Societe Generale. Other banks, including Habib Bank, Habib Bank AG Zurich, National Bank of Pakistan and United Bank Limited, are in the process of initiating Islamic banking products. Muslim Commercial Bank has already set up a dedicated Islamic banking branch.

Efforts towards establishing an Islamic economic system really took off after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the latter half of 1999, ordered the government to abolish the ‘interest-based system’ and establish an alternative Shariah-based system. For the launch of Islamic banking in the country, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has given three options, i.e., to establish an independent Islamic bank, to establish subsidiaries of the existing banks or any commercial bank or to set up stand-alone branches. The stand-alone branches would have to carry business only in the Islamic banking area where both deposit and grant of loans would be according to Islamic injunctions. The development of Prudential Regulations for Islamic banking is already in process. The SBP is also working towards the establishment of an Islamic banking division. The launch of Islamic T-bills, known as Ijarah Sukook, is already under serious consideration in order to solve the liquidity problems of Islamic banks.

These instruments are being developed at a rapid pace. The huge market potential for Islamic products is proof of the fact that the efforts of these entities are bearing fruit. Moreover, while the current conventional financial system has had years to reach the maturity it enjoys now, a modern model of Islamic finance has only been developing over the past few decades.  As difficulties arise and are resolved, the industry is sure to ripen.

Summer Fun For Everyone

Fun can mean different things to different people, and it differs across the globe.  Naba Basar shares delightful ways to have family fun this summer.

Many people think of ‘fun’ only in terms of Haram things or behaviours. It certainly does not have to be this way. Allah has made clear to us what is allowed and what is forbidden. In the following Ayah, He warns us:

“O you who believe! Make not unlawful the Taiyibat (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons, etc.) that which Allah has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors” (Al-Maidah 5:87).


Indoor Games

When was the last time you played “Pictionary,” “Scrabble,” or “Checkers” together as a family? You may be surprised, how parents transform into kids, when they celebrate victories over their children.

On the Road

There are always interesting places we have never seen and yet others that we hold in special memories and would like to return to. A trip for performing Umra can become a great vacation. Field trips to farms and factories are not only fun but also educational.


Summer is a superb time for camping, both with family and friends. While pitching tents, building fires, fishing, boating, or hiking, nobody will find the time to get bored.


Get on the ball and keep track of all the conventions and workshops. There are many to choose from. Select a few with the most interesting themes and plan ahead for attending them. Conventions are great for meeting new friends.


Encourage imagination of your children by reading books to them. Check with your local library and sign up your kids for a summer reading program. During summer, most bookstores have sales, where you can buy books on cheaper rates. Your local library can also provide ideas for summertime activities within the city.



Dust off the bikes in the garage and find a path in a park. Organize competitions, hold races, or time the laps.


An exciting and interesting way for teens to have fun. This activity works great for both small and large groups.

Cooking Dishes of Native Cuisines

An innovative way to learn about different parts of the world. Search for recipes online, in your local library, or at bookstores.

E-pals from Muslim Countries

In chat rooms, teens can find good Muslim e-pals. By making friendships all around the world, your children will expand their worldview and learn new languages. However, this activity does require the supervision of parents.

Community service

Volunteer your time and services to help out others in need and support. It is a great learning opportunity, which will strengthen the Deen of your children.


Backyard Campouts

Let your children invite over their friends; grab a tent, some sleeping bags, and flashlights. Do not forget mosquito repellents!


You can prepare homemade finger-paints by mixing together soap flakes, water, and food colours.

Pet Detective

Teach your children to observe an animal or an insect for a day. Discuss with them the observations.

Islamic Timeline

Record the discoveries of Muslim scientists. This is an educational yet interesting project.


Always a fun place to go to for seeing Allah’s creatures.

Museums and Art Galleries

Visits to museums and art galleries will allow your children to explore different cultures and to develop a taste for art.

Parks and Beaches

Take advantage of your local parks, playgrounds, beaches, and lakes. You can have picnics every week or every month.

Special Children – A Gift of Allah

Vol 1-Issue 2  Special Children“Congratulations! When is the bundle of joy set to arrive?” is the usual inquiry Sara was faced with sixteen years ago just before the birth of her second son. Little did she realize her son Hilal would be a special child – he was afflicted with autism.

Most parents are apprehensive to hear the news that their child might be disabled. Usually, they go through the steps of denial, blaming each other, bargaining with Allah, rationalizing, and finally arriving to acceptance. They have feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and anger. Why them? How will they manage? Will they be able to adjust? Sara recalls being haunted by all these questions. She would read the Quran for inspiration. “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. ‘Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us; our Lord! Put not on us burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

When parents finally accept that their child might need extra help, they are at a loss of where to turn to. A student pursuing her Masters in this field recommends that the child get his IQ tested. In Karachi, the most reliable place to have this done is the Aga Khan Medical Center.

Once the psychologist has determined the cause of child’s limitations, the hunt for the proper institute begins. Just as there are numerous handicaps a child can face, there also are many institutes that specialize in some or all of them. Following is a list of institutes that are tried and tested by various parents and professionals. Special education professionals recommend that you personally visit the institute, get familiar with its policies, and inform the entire staff, from the van driver to the child’s teachers, of your particular situation. As with any child, each case is special and each child has his own learning curve. One important point to remember is that parents should not be discouraged by the slow learning rate of their child. It has been known for a child to take four years to learn the English alphabet.

There are several obstacles parents usually face, while caring for a special child:


Parents of disabled children face three times the costs of parents of non-disabled children. It is usually the little things that add to the expenses, such as extra bed sheets, special food, medical attention, and supplies.


In the 21st century, we are slowly moving from single working parent to a two working parent family. With the arrival of a disabled child, special attention is required for his care. One or both parents have to compromise their careers, in order to provide adequate around the clock attention for their child.


Special children have special needs. Take the example of a blind child, the house he lives in should be designed to suit his needs, making it easy for him to lead as normal life as possible. However, parents can hardly afford such drastic changes to their homes.


There are numerous foundations in Karachi that work for and with the disabled. However, most parents cannot afford the high cost of these institutions. In fact, most of the institutions have limited space and hundreds of children have to wait or suffer with inadequate care. The fees of some such institutions begin from Rs.9500 monthly.


Several parents have showed their concern that there are not enough support groups sponsored by NGO’s or foundations dedicated to help the disabled children. A special education graduate said that the institutions usually do not want to get closely involved with the parents. They let the parents form their own network and support groups. There is no counselling available for these parents either.

The most important thing a parent should realize is that they must make their child as self sufficient as possible. Vocational skills, such as carpentry or weaving, will help the child to earn a living. Handling of money, managing critical household chores, and not losing confidence about him are the essential basics a special child should be taught.

Make sure your child feels important – if you give your child attention, so will everyone else. Train everyone around your child to deal with any difficult situations that might arise. One parent claims that her child is not socially very adept, so she works on developing his social skills by inviting the neighbourhood kids over to play. She entices them with pizza, burgers, and a play station. As always, a sense of humor is paramount to leading a stress free life.

Often, a question comes to mind: “What helps?” Several things can be implemented to help parents to make the transition for taking care of a special needs infant and adult. Parents are not the only ones who require help and counselling. The extended family should also be involved, so the child has a healthy environment to grow in. If anybody else takes care of the special child for an hour or so, parents can get away and have some time for rejuvenating themselves. Extended family members can also help by spending the time with the parents and the child as well as by taking care of the normal siblings. It is an opportunity to create stronger family bonds.

It is not easy to bring up a child; bringing up a special needs child is ten times more energy consuming and mentally draining. However, the reward of a smile, a hint of understanding, and a new skill developed makes it all worthwhile. This is your opportunity to create and strengthen the family ties. Encourage your other children to help a sibling in need. The single most important virtue is patience, depend on it, and you will emerge triumphant with a socially integrated, confident, and self-sufficient child, Insha’Allah.

Mini-Garden in the City

Vol 1-Issue 2  Mini-GardenMany city dwellers would be familiar with this sentiment due to lack of experience in gardening, shortage of space for starting a garden, or simply because of not enough time or money for making such a major effort. Well, there is good news for you out there! Micro-gardening is the answer to your dreams.

What is micro-gardening? Maggie Heeger, a micro-gardening enthusiast from Alabama, defines it as “growing your own plants-food or flowers-in containers rather than in a plot of ground”. It is as simple as that! You can make your micro-garden as big or small as you wish with no major investments and no exhausting time commitments.

Micro-Gardening.com, offers three easy steps for getting started:

1- Making or finding the right containers

Containers should be able to hold enough (1) growing mixture and (2) water for the plants and should have (3) good drainage. You can use barrels, baskets, concrete urns, crocks and glazed ceramic pots, plastic pots, sacks, tires, tubs, wheel barrows, wire baskets, wooden boxes (caution-susceptible to rot). The size of the container must meet the requirements of the veggies you intend to plant.

Generally, containers for vegetables need to be between 15 and 120 qt. capacity (15 qt. = 866 cubic inches or a 12″x 12″x 6″ high container; 120 qt. = 6930 cubic inches or a 24″x 24″x 12″ high or 20″x 20″x 18″ high container).

2- Preparing Growing Mixture

The happiness, health, and successful growth of your veggies will greatly depend on planting them into a good growing mixture. “Soils for containers need to have three key elements. They must be well drained, have good aeration (pore spaces for air), and retain enough water to maintain good growth”.

The easiest way to go is to buy ready-made container mixes. A wide variety of selections are available in the market; however, the ones to look out for are those referred to as ‘soilless’ mixes or synthetic soils, as they are “best suited for vegetable container gardening”. Note, however, that the soilless mixes require you to make some extra effort on watering and fertilizing your veggies.

If you wish to have a mixture that does have a part of soil in it, then “mix together one part good garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse builders sand” (Soil Mixes). This 1:1:1 combination is more forgiving regarding watering and fertilizing.

Now, it is time to get down to planting. As you fill your containers with the growing mixture, make sure to leave about one inch from the top for the needs of water. Also, just before planting your veggies, wet the growing mixture thoroughly.

3- Choosing Vegetables

 It might be surprising to find out that just about any vegetable is suitable for growing in a container. The ideal ones are those with a quick maturing period. Some suitable ones are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, leaf lettuce, green onions, green beans, radishes, parsley, and cucumbers.

Before selecting the place for bigger size fixed containers, you should note that most vegetables would need quite a long stretch of sunlight-at least 6 hours per day. If you intend to plant tomatoes or cucumbers, you should count on up to 8 hours of required sunlight. In this case, a good idea would be smaller and more mobile containers, which you would be able to move along with the sun during the day. On the other hand, root crops, such as beets and carrots, are easier to please-they will do well with only 4 to 5 hours of sunlight. Cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables are the most modest in their requirements-they can tolerate the most shade.

Container Tips

  • Avoid containers with narrow openings.
  • Adequate drainage holes should be ½ inch.
  • Cover the drainage holes with chards (broken pot pieces), screen material, or 2 to 4 layers of newspaper to keep the plant material from seeping out but still allow adequate drainage.
  • Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.
  • Light-colored containers lessen heat absorption in hot climates and discourage uneven root growth.
  • Keep baskets away from the afternoon sun.
  • Metal or thin plastic containers may allow the sun to heat up the plant mixture. If you use these consider putting or setting something around the pot to block direct sunlight”


Planting together companion vegetables can significantly increase your harvest

Vegetables Companions Enemies
1. Beans Celery, cucumbers Onions, fennel
2. Beets Bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage Pole beans, mustard
3. Cabbage Celery, dill, onions, potatoes Strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
4. Carrots Leaf lettuce, radish, onions, tomatoes Dill
5. Corn Pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, potatoes Tomatoes
6. Cucumbers Corn, peas, radishes, beans, sunflowers Aromatic herbs, potatoes
7. Lettuce Onions, strawberries, carrots, radishes, cucumbers
8. Onions Lettuce, beets, strawberries, tomatoes Peas, beans
9. Peas Carrots, cucumbers, corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, aromatic herbs Onions, garlic, leek, shallots
10. Radishes Beets, carrots, spinach, parsnips, cucumbers, beans Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips
11.Squash Icicle radishes, cucumbers, corn
12.Tomatoes Carrots, onions, parsley Cabbage, cauliflower



Stand up!

According to Bushra Anwar, we ought to be prepared to speak up our mind to promote what is right! The rewards are manifold.

I was rifling through old papers the other day and found a crumpled, tea stained photograph. In it I stood smiling as I collected my prize during the speech day at my old school. I clearly remember the scene. I was standing in line with my friends, chattering excitedly, when my teacher approached. “Child!” she squeaked loudly. “What is that THING on your head?”

I looked at her innocently. “I do not know?” I pulled my scarf even lower on my forehead.

“You know the Principal will not like it! Please take it off before going on stage! Of course, you can put it back on afterwards.”

“I am sorry,” I repeated, while my friends looked on. “I am going to have to keep this on.”

This went on for a while. Finally, I stepped out of line. “It is quite alright. I do not mind taking my prize later. But I am not going to remove my head cover”.

My friends spoke up, as well as a few supporting teachers.

In the end, I won my case. Walking tall and straight up on the stage, I collected my prize; smiled a thank you and walked off.

But here I am not illustrating how I performed some heroic deed; it is more than that. One lesson I learnt that day was to stand up! Not to just let everyone run over me.  But to know who I am and be it.

We often complain of unfair things and rage against the system, which does not let us make our own choices. That is untrue. Who said you cannot do anything, at least in your personal lives? In the face of adversity, there is no need to blow your top. Use logic and reason to win your case.

We are often also afraid of what friends will say. That is okay; it is perfectly normal to be apprehensive about how others will rate our actions. However, when you are the only one standing up for the shy girl who everyone in the class is making fun of, people will learn to respect others and believe in justice.

I have often noticed that people behave in a certain manner, ignoring reason, just to fit in the crowd. At other times they do not have adequate knowledge either to tell them right from wrong.

One day in sociology class a girl was advocating the Darwinism thesis. When I told her I did not believe in it and that I accepted Adam (as) to be the first human, she looked at me for a second and exclaimed amazed, “I never even thought of that!” I was equally amazed, but it just proved that people are waiting to be informed about concepts. Obviously, it does not mean you go around propounding your views. You can have discussions with friends whenever opportunity knocks. Try putting up posters around your school. Write letters to newspapers explaining your point of view. The point is to spread the good word in the best possible manner, whenever you can.

Afraid that you will be the only one standing up for the right and everyone else will be on the other side of the fence? Think twice. There are many silent supporters who are only looking for a voice to back them up. At parties, for instance, maybe your reminder for Maghrib prayers is just what everybody is waiting for! So you can either sit and stare helplessly at all the wrong happening around you or you can be the catalyst for change, which will make you feel better about yourself and strengthen your beliefs too.

Bilal bin Rabah (rta)

Hafsa Ahsan recounts the arduous life and the strong faith of the noble companion

Bilal (rta), was the first Muadh-dhin (the one who gives the Adhan) of Islam. In pre-Islamic Arabia, Bilal (rta), tall, thin and slightly hump-backed, was a slave of Umayyah bin Khalaf.

Bilal’s (rta) first encounters with Islam came when he began overhearing conversations between Umayyah and his guests, discussing the negative aspects of the new religion. But instead of being warded off, he felt drawn to Islam. After that, he would often hear Abu Bakr (rta) when he called people to Islam. Finally, he went to Prophet Muhammad (sa) along with Abu Bakr (rta) and embraced Islam.

Since he was a slave and did not have any strong tribe to defend him, Umayyah tortured him heavily. He made him lie face down on the scorching sand, wearing a suit of armour, when the sun was at its peak. Then he would have heavy rocks placed upon Bilal’s (rta) chest and would say: “You will stay here until you die or deny Muhammad (sa) and worship Al-Laat and Al-Uzzah.” Bilal (rta) only uttered: “One, One,” referring to Allah.

On one such day, Abu Bakr (rta) admonished Umayyah: “Have you no fear of Allah that you treat this poor man like this?”

“You are the one who corrupted him; so save him from his plight,” Umayyah hit back.

Abu Bakr (rta) replied: “Then sell him to me, you can state your price.”

Umayyah set a very high price, which Abu Bakr (rta) agreed to pay. In a derogatory way, Umayyah then said: “I would have sold him to you even if you had offered me but an ounce of gold.”

Abu Bakr (rta) who was not to be deterred, said: “I would have bought him even if you had asked for a hundred ounces.”

Once the deal was finalized, Abu Bakr (rta) took Bilal (rta) with him to Prophet Muhammad (sa) and set him free.

In the post-Hijrah period in Madinah, the issue arose of how to summon people to the mosque for prayers. One day, Abdullah bin Zaid (rta) recounted a dream to the Prophet Muhammad (sa) in which a man taught Zaid (rta) the words for the Adhan. “It is a true vision Insha’Allah,” said Prophet Muhammad (sa). “Go and teach it to Bilal for he has a more beautiful and far reaching voice.” Hence, Bilal (rta) earned the unique honor of being the first ever Muadh-dhin of Islam.

Bilal (rta) added to his list of honors when Prophet Muhammad (sa) ordered him to resound the Adhan from the rooftop of the Kabah after the victory at Makkah. He remained the Muadh-dhin during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

After the death of Prophet Muhammad (sa) Bilal (rta) was asked to make Adhan before his burial. He started, but when he came to the name of Prophet Muhammad (sa) he was crying so hard, he had to discontinue saying the Adhan. “By Allah I will not say the Adhan anymore,” he declared.

During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr (rta), he requested to be sent to Sham for Jihad, and spent the rest of his life fighting in the way of Allah. He made Adhan only twice: once when Umar (rta) visited Sham and second, when he visited the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Bilal died in Aleppo at 64. His last words were, “Tomorrow you will meet your loved ones, Muhammad (sa) and his Companions.”

Bilal occupies a distinguished position in Islam. Umar (rta) would say: “Abu Bakr is our master and he freed our master (Bilal).”

To this Bilal would say: “I am only a man who used to be a slave.”