Hajj Rules Specific to Women

Vol 4-Issue 3 Hajj rules specific to WomenHajj, or pilgrimage to the House of Allah (swt) in Makkah, is one of the five cardinal principles of Islam. This worship was prescribed in the sixth year after Hijrah. It is obligatory upon Muslims, who can afford it, to perform Hajj once in their lifetimes. It takes place only once a year in the month of Dhul Hajj on the ninth.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “…Pilgrimage is a duty men owe to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:97)

Every believer strives for Hajj Mabrur (an accepted Hajj), which is performed by someone with a right intention and sincerity. According to Abu Huraira (rta), Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “An Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) is an expiation for sins committed between it and the next, but an accepted Hajj will receive no less a reward than Paradise.” (Agreed upon)

Islam encourages women to partake in the blessings of Hajj. Aisha (rta) has narrated: “I once asked the Prophet (sa): ‘O Prophet of Allah! Should not we (women) strive and actively participate in the Islamic war with you?’ The Prophet (sa) replied: ‘The best and the most beautiful striving for you in the cause of Allah is Hajj Mabrur.’” Aisha (rta) commented: “After hearing this from the Prophet (sa), I shall never cease performing Hajj.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Before commencing the Hajj journey, women should have the following: a thorough knowledge of Hajj rituals, a sound Aqeedah, fear of Allah (swt), passion to follow only the Quran and the Sunnah, patience in the face of trials and courtesy for fellow pilgrims.

1. Mahram

The first requirement for a Muslim woman to perform Hajj is to be accompanied by a Mahram (her husband or a male relative, whom she is not allowed to marry as per the Quranic injunctions).

According to Shafaee school of thought, a woman may travel with a group of women or even with one trusted woman companion, if a Mahram is not available. This opinion is supported by the fact that after the Prophet’s death, Umar (rta) permitted his (saw) wives to perform Hajj, while accompanied by Uthman (rta) and Abdurrahman Ibn Awf (rta).

2. Ihram

Ihram for a Muslimah comprises of any garment that covers her entire body modestly except for her hands and face. She is also permitted to wear shoes. (Abu Dawood)

3. Talbiyah

Talbiyah means to recite: “Lab-baika Allahumma Labbaik. Lab-baika la-Sharika laka lab-baik. In-nAl-Humda wan-nimata laka wal mulk-la-Sharika lak.”

Every pilgrim is required to say the Talbiyah. According to Ataa: “Men must raise their voices (when reciting Talbiyah), but a woman should raise her voice to as to hear it herself, but she should not raise her voice more than that.”

4. Restrictions of Ihram

A woman in the state of Ihram must refrain from:

· sexual relations;

· clipping nails, cutting or removing hair by any means from any part of the body;

· wearing perfume, Niqab (facial veil) and gloves.

Observing all the restrictions of Ihram, the pilgrims proceed to Makkah. There they can deposit their belongings at their lodging place and hasten to perform Tawaf at the Masjid Al-Haram.

5. Tawaf of Kaba and Sai

Tawaf is circumambulating around the Kabah seven times starting and ending at the Hajra Aswad (the Black Stone). If possible, women can kiss or touch Hajra Aswad without having to push or be pushed by the crowd. They are required to walk at a normal pace in the first three rounds, unlike the men.

Next, the pilgrims are to pray two Rakah at the station of Ibrahim (as) and drink Zamzam water.

Sai is the walk between two hills starting at Safa and ending at Marwah. Seven rounds are to be made at a normal pace, unlike men, who need to walk at brisk pace.

If the woman is performing Hajj Tamattu, then after completing Sai, she should cut her hair and clip her nails. The Prophet (sa) stated: “Women (pilgrims) do not have to shave (their heads); they may shorten their hair.” (Abu Dawood) The restrictions of Ihram are now lifted. On the eighth day of Dhul Hajj, the woman resumes Ihram again and proceeds to Mina.

6. Stay at Mina and Arafah

During this part of Hajj, there are no specific differences between men and women. To maximize the benefit of Hajj, the pilgrims should immerse themselves completely in Allah’s remembrance and refrain from idle talk, sleeping, wasting time, mixing with the opposite gender, etc.

The pilgrims pray Salatul Fajr at Muzdalifah. After the sunrise on the tenth of Dhul Hajj, they proceed to Mina. This day is known as Yaum Al-Nahr.

7. Throwing of the pebbles

Pea sized pebbles are thrown at Jamarah Al-Aqbah, while reciting the Takbeer. Women, children and weak pilgrims are permitted to carry out this ritual at night. If it gets very crowded or difficult, women can appoint someone on their behalf to throw the pebbles at the Jamarah.

After throwing the pebbles, on the tenth day of Dhul Hajj, the pilgrim slaughters a sacrificial animal and cuts her hair, thereby releasing herself from the restrictions of Ihram. She can resume normal activities, except intimacy with her husband.

8. Tawaf Al-Ifadhah

Tawaf Al-Ifadhah is one of the most significant rituals and can render ones’ Hajj invalid, if the pilgrim is unable to perform it. Pilgrims proceed to Makkah to perform Tawaf Al-Ifadhah. Aisha (rta) used to order women to perform it early on the day of An-Nahr, if they feared they would begin to menstruate. According to Ataa: “If a woman (pilgrim) fears her monthly period, she can perform the Tawaf of Kabah before throwing the pebbles at Jamarah Al-Aqabah and even before her sacrificial animal is slaughtered.”

In case of Hajj Tamattu, the woman pilgrim must perform Sai after Tawaf Al-Ifadha.

9. The farewell Tawaf

Ibn Abbas (rta) narrated: “The pilgrims used to leave Makkah in every direction, until the Prophet (sa) said: ‘Let none of you leave Makkah before making a Tawaf around the Kabah as the last of Hajj rites.’” (Muslim and Abu Dawood)

This last ritual should be performed by the pilgrim before leaving for home as a final promise to Allah (swt) to live her remaining life in total submission to her Creator.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Anyone, who undertakes the Hajj just to seek the pleasure of Allah and neither indulges in sexual talks nor in sins, will be purified of his sins, in the same state as he was born by his mother!” (Mishkat)

The Prophet’s (sa) Hajj

Prophet's HajjReinforcement of Tauheed

Tauheed is one of the fundamental principles of Islam that the Prophet (sa) realized and fostered. During the Hajj, he continued to recite Talbiyah (saying, “Labbaik Allah Humma Labbaik”) from the moment he began the ritual, until he had cast Jamratul Aqaba (Aqaba stone) on the slaughter day.

Supplications to Allah

Supplications have special status in Islam, as they aim at expressing total surrender to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said: “Supplication is worship.” (Abu Dawood) During the Hajj, he used to say more supplications than at any other time. He also offered lengthy supplications on the day of Arafat, while riding his camel and by raising his hands close to his chest, as if he were a poor man begging for charity.

Performing good deeds

The Prophet (sa) performed Ghusl before assuming Ihram, wore perfume upon assuming and ending it (Bukhari), and marked and garlanded the Hadiy. (Bukhari) He started Tawaf as soon as he entered Al-Bait (Bukhari), walked briskly, touched the two corners of the Kabah, offered two Rakahs of Tawaf behind Maqam Ibrahim (Muslim), supplicated to Allah on the hills of Safa and Marwah, ran in the middle of the valley, and did Dhikr upon touching the two corners and while throwing the Jamarat. (Bukhari)

Moderation in acts of worship

Islam encourages moderation and censures exaggeration. In fact, equanimity was the most significant attitude of the Prophet (sa) during the Hajj. He adopted a happy medium between his acts of worship (Bukhari) and his responsibilities as a leader of the Muslims. However, he did not neglect his duties to his wives, who needed care and affection.

Physical well-being

The Prophet (sa) equally cared for his body and soul. The awe-inspiring surroundings of the Hajj may compel to observe only the spiritual, entirely forgetting the physical. On Tarwiyah day, the Prophet (sa) moved closer to Mina, in order to be nearer to Arafat (Muslim), slept during the nights of Arafat and Muzdalifah (Bukhari), took breakfast on the day of Arafat (Bukhari), but did not offer supererogatory prayers. (Muslim) He took shelter in a dome made from camel hair, erected especially for him, moved between the sacred sites (Bukhari) and performed some of the Hajj rituals, while riding his camel. (Muslim) Furthermore, he even had someone to serve and help him. (Ibn Majah)

Role as an educator

Allah sent the Prophet (sa) as an educator to make people’s lives and acts of worship easier. Undoubtedly, he excelled in his mission. He publicly announced his intention to perform the Hajj, in order to give those, who wished to accompany him, an opportunity to prepare themselves for the journey. The crowds flocked to Madinah, hoping to learn from the Prophet (sa). (Muslim) The Prophet (sa) ordered Muslims to learn the Hajj rituals from him and made it clear that this could be his last Hajj. (Bukhari)

Giving Fatwas

Giving of Fatwas (religious verdicts) was among the most important tasks that the Prophet (sa) performed during the Hajj. A famous Fatwa was given to a woman from the Khatham tribe, who asked, if she could perform the Hajj on behalf of her aging father. She said: “He cannot ride his camel.” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Perform the Hajj on his behalf.” (Bukhari)

Matters concerning women

Aisha (rta) narrated: “I asked Allah’s Messenger (sa): ‘Is Jihad incumbent upon women?’ He replied: ‘Yes, Jihad which does not include fighting is incumbent upon them, it is the Hajj and the Umrah’.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Abbas (sa) narrated: “I heard Prophet Muhammad (sa) addressing and saying: ‘A man must not be alone with a woman, unless when a man who is a Mahram (a relative she is so closely related to that marriage is not possible) is with her and a woman must travel only when accompanied by a man who is a Mahram.’ A man stood up and said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, my wife intends to go out to perform the Hajj, and I have been enrolled for such and such expedition.’ Thereupon he said: ‘Go and perform the Hajj with your wife’.” (Muslim)

Prophet’s (sa) mercy

The Prophet’s (sa) mercy was always evident. He ordered those, who did not offer Hadiy, to end their state of Ihram completely – this permitted them to have intimate relations with their wives, to be dressed in normal clothes, and to wear perfume. (Muslim) He combined Asr and Zuhr prayers at Arafat (Bukhari) and delayed his prayers, when he moved to Muzdalifah (Bukhari), thereby making it easier for people to perform rituals. He gave permission to the weak to move from Muzdalifa ahead of the rest of the pilgrims at night, right after the moon would set. Thus, on slaughter day, they were able to perform their rituals easily before the others. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) generosity

The Prophet (sa) was so generous in giving alms and charity that he gave away one hundred Badanas (sacrificial camels), including their meat, hides, and coverings. (Muslim) He also donated in other charities on many occasions. (Bukhari)

Prophet’s (sa) leniency

The Prophet’s (sa) showed exemplary leniency, while in Hajj. “Seeing a man walking and leading his sacrificial camel, the Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Ride on it’. The man replied: ‘It is a Badana.’ The Prophet (sa) said the second and third time: ‘Ride on it, woe to you’. (Muslim)

The Hajj is not a momentary act of worship that begins with a journey and ends once a Muslim returns home. On the contrary, it is a trial to show that the spirituality earned in the Hajj will be brought back home and implemented in the Muslim’s daily life.

In the sermon delivered on the Day of Arafat, the Prophet (saw) urged pilgrims to hold on to the Quran as the only way to deliverance from sins. “I have left you with the Quran,” he said: “you will never go astray, if you adhere to it.” (Ibn Majah) Now, it is a challenge for all Muslims to obey this advice and bring about a metamorphosis, leading to enrichment and positive transformation of the Muslim Ummah.

You’re invited…

calling-to-islam_dawah1Not to a party. But something more enchanting, fulfilling and lasting. Yes, I invite you toward Your Lord (swt).

There is a plethora of sad sagas narrated by well-meaning individuals, who after their own reversion to Islam, bravely take up the task of inviting others, too. What are they usually confronted with varies. Insults, threats, suspicion, ridicule, malign, prejudice, oblivion, bigotry, etc. Nonetheless, it shakes one up to lose his honour, dignity and position as a result of simply sharing with others (many times family and friends and not just strangers) what will eventually benefit them most. Yet they shun you away, as if flicking a fly.

Mufti Najeeb offered a deep insight once that is most relevant to Daaees (preachers): “If you have chosen to call someone to Allah’s (swt) path, you need to spend equal time with him/her in person, as well as in absence of him/her.” Firstly, you introduce the person to the message, which will be done directly. Then invoke Allah (swt) earnestly at night for his/her guidance, when you are alone. Omar (rta) didn’t just walk over to Islam. He listened to Surah Taha as a disbeliever, which was the phase of sharing of the message, and later the Prophet (sa) beseeched Allah (swt) to strengthen Deen through his conversion, which was the stage of prayers to the Lord (swt).

What stands in the way of Islam?

  1. When actions do not support words

“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (As-Saff 61:2-3)

Consistency of deeds and speech is most difficult to attain. Yet it is of utmost significance too. Otherwise an apparently sincere Daaee can reflect hypocrisy causing others to flee Islam.

Once, a very learned scholar was imparting a sermon on patience, suddenly his seven year old daughter interrupted him. He harshly rebuked her for causing this interruption and non-chalantly carried on with his discourse. What impression would the listeners bear of him in their minds when they walk out the door? It’s anybody’s guess.

  1. When we wish to control others

“So remind them (O Muhammad (sa)) – you are only one who reminds. You are not a dictator.” (Al-Ghashiyah 88:21-22)

This happens to Daaees, when they cannot bear to see their kith and kin sinning day and night and out of desperation they adopt extreme measures. When such thoughts strike you, always remember that every person’s heart is in between the two fingers of the Lord (swt). We personally have no control over anybody, except our own choices in life.

Secondly, if Muhammad (sa) was not held accountable for results and he was deemed as a messenger, how can we take on the additional responsibility of guaranteeing favourable results. It’s simply not in our hand. If that would have been the case, Nuh’s (as) son wouldn’t have been drowned for his disbelief. Nuh (as) invited his people for 900 plus years. And his own son didn’t embrace guidance. Hence, a caller can sincerely strive in Allah’s (swt) way but never impose on others, decide or chose for others, whether they will pay heed or be doomed.

  1. When we are unable to understand and agree with Allah’s (swt) Qadr

“And if We had willed, surely We would have given every person his guidance, but the Word from Me took effect (about evildoers) that I will fill Hell with Jinn and mankind together.” (As-Sajdah 32:13)

As a caller to Islam, it is pivotal for us to understand that Allah (swt) loves His creation the most. He offers ample opportunities and sufficient time to them to return to His Deen. We are not the sole source for their reversion, which we mistakenly believe. Hence, it takes consistent and deliberate refusal on part of individuals and nations to turn down Allah’s (swt) signs, before their hearts are sealed. And once the verdict is passed against them, people like us cannot alter it in any way. It is based on the Creator’s (swt) infinite wisdom and decree. And Allah (swt) knows best.

  1. When we lose hope

“Perhaps, you, would kill yourself (O Muhammad sa) in grief, over their footsteps (for their turning away from you), because they believe not in this narration (the Quran). (Al-Kahf 18-6)

Out of love and devotion to his people, Muhammad (sa) would grieve, when the disbelievers did not respond to his call. He could foresee their horrible end in the blazing fire, and hence he would cry for their guidance before Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) has created boundaries for mankind in everything. Transgression against these limits always proves fatal. A Momin’s faith must swing in between hope and fear. Hope for Allah’s (swt) mercy and fear of His wrath.

A Daaee can invest his best efforts, pray earnestly to Allah (swt) and then he needs to move on to the next mission and man. It should be a matter of relief for him that Allah (swt) will reward him for his strife and not hold him accountable for the numbers. Imagine, most callers would fail as there are always fewer people, who will accept guidance willingly and be led to Jannah, and more of those, who would prefer the short lived joys of the world. After all, Jannah is exclusive and for the distinguished only.

  1. When we overlook the reward

“And We send not the Messengers except as givers of glad tidings and warners. But those who disbelieve, dispute with false argument, in order to refute the truth thereby. And they treat My Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and that with which they are warned, as a jest and mockery!

And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of his Lord, but turns away from them, forgetting what (deeds) his hands have sent forth. Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this (the Quran), and in their ears, deafness. And if you (O Muhammad sa) call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.” (Al-Kahf 18:56-57)

All such people, who have called you names, gossiped about you, degraded your mission, have a score to settle with Allah (swt), not you. You, as a Daaee, are only an ambassador, who delivers the message faithfully and as a trust to all. If the receiver decides to turn a deaf ear or snub you it is his short-sightedness and misfortune. You have your precious reward stored with Allah (swt) Who will hand you back big time with honour on the Day of Judgment. That should be a balm for your broken heart, bull dozed feelings and misunderstood intentions at the hands of others.

  1. When we forget that it is Allah (swt), Who keeps hearts firm

“And We made their hearts firm and strong (with the light of faith in Allah and bestowed upon them patience to bear the separation of their kith and kin and dwellings) when they stood up and said: ‘Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, never shall we call upon any illah (god) other than Him; if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity in disbelief.” (Al-Kahf 18:14)

When we witness scores of non-Muslims taking the Shahdah at the hands of many scholars of Islam around the globe today, we forget that it wasn’t because of their eloquence of speech, or scintillating piece of writing or a dazzling debater’s spell. It is Allah (swt), Who keeps hearts firm of all, be it Daaees or the ones, who are invited. Otherwise, none of these scholars could withstand the blizzards and boulders of objections and rejections they have to face every day, and most of us are unaware of their personal plights. Scholar Anwar Aulaki lost his life, after the lofty work he left behind. May Allah (swt) grant him Jannat-al-Firdous. Dr. Bilal Phillips has been exiled time and again from none other but Muslim countries, but he continues to educate millions of students to date. Dr. Farhat Hashmi has been time and again mis-quoted and maligned; however, Alhamdulillah, she has brought light to the dark world of uncountable Muslim homes.

It is Allah (swt), Who grants firmness of faith to Daaees, indeed. Allah (swt) has the majesty and power to do the impossible. Hence, as a Daaee, it is always my earnest plea that He may guide the entire humanity. After all, for Him it is simply ‘Kun fay a kun’ and it shall ‘Be’. Allah (swt) knows best.

Imams of Ahadeeth

Vol 5 - Issue 4 Imams of AhadeethThe collectors and preservers of Ahadeeth are the prime suspects of default or negligence in the sight of many ill-informed, ignorant pseudo-intellectuals of the past or present times. Sometimes these Muhadaseen (Hadeeth narrators) are tried and charged guilty in people’s own perception. Such questions as ‘Who knows the source of this information?’ ‘Were these men or women even present at the times of the Prophet (sa)?’ ‘How can we trust the credibility of a particular Ahadeeth?’ are rampant.

Quite amusingly, when Darwin’s ridiculous theory of evolution is presented to most, they accept it without a second thought, even though it has been proven incorrect by the Quran and the scientists. Similarly, do we ever question, how far the Sun is or did Neil Armstrong actually travel to the Moon? Never! One news bulletin is sufficient to convince us about the authenticity of any particular happening or discovery. How many of us go to the extent of verifying any of the information changing hands at the speed of light? Alas, we reserve the worst imaginable skepticism or allegations for our own reputed scholars. It is sinful to suspect those whom we know nothing about.

Muhammad Iqbal Kailani in his book “Following the Prophet’s Path” analyzes the lives of some of these Ahadeeth narrators to understand their quest for truth.

The search begins

Abu Ayub Ansari traveled from Madinah to Egypt for investigating a single Hadeeth. Jabir Ibn Abdullah traveled for a month just to hear a Hadeeth personally. Imam Razi spent seven years traveling in his quest to gather the Sunnah. Nafe Ibn Abdullah attended Imam Malik’s lectures from morning to noon for nearly forty years. History presents countless examples of such endeavors made by Ahadeeth students.

Abdullah Ibn Mubarak obtained instructions from eleven hundred renowned scholars of the Sunnah. Imam Malik learnt prophetic traditions from nine hundred teachers. Hisham Ibn Abdullah was instructed in Ahadeeth by seventeen hundred teachers.

After serving his duties in Ahadeeth in his home town of Bukhara, Imam Bukhari traveled to such other destinations as Balakh, Baghdad, Makkah, Basra, Kufa, Syria, Uskhalan, Hamus and Damascus for further enriching himself in the science of Sunnah.

At the time, when there were no road networks, flight connections, not even reliable maps available, these men undertook journeys of peril and personal sacrifice in search of the prophetic traditions. Their travelogues are an evidence of determination and sincerity to the cause of Ahadeeth compilation and preservation.

Financial sacrifices

The Ahadeeth narrators spent their entire fortunes working on the science of Sunnah. In his quest to find sound Hadeeth, Imam Malik’s teacher Rabia sold even the rafters of his house. At times, he had to face extreme poverty and actually fed himself on the remains of dates lying in the trash.

Imam Yahya Ibn Moeen spent one and a half million Dirhams in search of the Sunnah. He was reduced to such a state of destitution that he didn’t even have shoes to wear.

Imam Bukhari, who was raised in the lap of luxury, willingly faced hardships during his long journeys in search of the Sunnah. Umar Ibn Hafs, one of Imam Bukhari’s colleagues in Basra, narrates that they were engaged in writing down the Sunnah. After a few days, they realized that Imam Bukhari was absent from class. Upon inquiry, they discovered that he did not have proper clothing to step out of his room and was too poor to buy any. The students gathered money and bought for the Imam suitable clothes, so he could start attending classes again.

Ishaq Ibn Rahviyya, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal’s classmate, tells of how Imam Hanbal came to Yemen to learn the Sunnah. During such time, he earned his living weaving trouser strings. When it was time for him to depart from Yemen upon completion of his education, he was indebted to a baker. He gave his shoes to the Baker for debt settlement and left Yemen barefoot. On his way back, he worked also as a loader to earn his living.

How many scholars of today do we know, who have abandoned their home comforts, jeopardized their lives and put their honour at stake in the quest for true knowledge? Sadly, such scholars today are fewer as compared to the previous eras.

Personal trials

Wrath of evil and unjust rulers was another trial that many noble scholars had to brave. In the reign of Banu Umaiyya (except the reign of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz), some renowned scholars of Ahadeeth were persecuted cruelly. They included Mohammad Ibn Sireen, Hassan Basri, Obaidullah Ibn Abi Raffay, Yahya Ibn Obaid and Ibn-e-Abi Katheer.

During the rule of Banu Abbas, Imam of Darul Hijra Malik Ibn Anas was punished mercilessly by flogging on his bare back. The great scholar Sufyan Sauri was condemned to death. Imam Shafai was arrested and taken to Baghdad on foot, where he was incarcerated and tortured. The torments suffered by Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in the cause of the Sunnah are tragic. Imam Abu Hanifa’s funeral procession was taken out from the dark and narrow dungeon of prison. All these remarkable men withstood torture and death, never compromising the truth.

Strict criteria for Ahadeeth acceptance

Their caution and strict vigilance in matters of acceptance of the Sunnah can be realized from the meticulous standards these scholars adhered to. Abu Bakr (rta) and Umar (rta) never accepted a Ahadeeth without a proper witness. Usman (rta), as a precaution, narrated few Ahadeeth. Ali (rta) accepted the Sunnah from the narrators on oath only.

When Abdullah Ibn Masood was requested to narrate the Sunnah, his countenance changed with concern, as he understood the great responsibility he had as a Hadeeth narrator. When Anas (rta) related a prophetic tradition, he always added “or as the Messenger (sa) said.” Upon reaching their old age, the companions stopped relating the Sunnah out of the fear of their failing memory.

The narrator Moin Ibn Isa says: “The Hadeeth I have reported from Imam Malik are such that I have heard each one of them thirty times from him.” Ibrahim Ibn Sayeed Al-Jauhari states: “If I fail to get any Hadeeth from a hundred different sources, I consider myself weak in that Hadeeth.”

Non-Muslim commentators

The renowned orientalist professor Margaret stated: “The Muslim’s pride in their science of Sunnah is justified.”

The famous Hungarian orientalist Goldziher Ignaz (1850-1921) said: “The scholars, who collected the Sunnah, traveled extensively in the Muslim world from one end to the other, from Spain to Central Asia, mostly on foot, visited every city and every village in search of the Sunnah, in order to record them and to spread them among their disciples. Undoubtedly, these were the persons who deserved the title or surname of Rahhal and Jawwal (meaning indefatigable traveler).”

Dr. Springier, a renowned German orientalist, admits: “No nation ever existed in the past or is there in the present, which has invented like the Muslims the science of Asma-ur-Rijal, through which we can know today the lives of five hundred thousand people of Medieval times. The learned scholars of Sunnah have recorded every important detail about every reporter of the Sunnah, such as his belief, faith, character, virtue, trustworthiness, truthfulness, honesty, their retention power and comprehension skills.” (Asaba fi AhwAl-us-Sahaba)


It’s entirely up to our objective and non-biased reasoning to decide whether the Muslim Ummah should continue suspecting the efforts of its scholars or reap benefit out of it. Should we take pride in the sacrifices of the earlier generations and humbly accept them as the creditor or continue with a disrespectful and disdainful attitude?

With Allah (swt) eventually lies the reward of every knowledge bearer. Our scholars played their part and did it extremely well. They offered unimaginable services to Allah (swt) for the preservation of the Sunnah. Our acceptance or rejection of them only speaks of our own character. May Allah (swt) have His mercy on them and keep us guided on the straight path. Ameen.

Loss – Punishment or Reward?


Our life is shaped by two types of important events. The first one belongs to Q1 and is termed ‘urgent’, such as a heart attack that needs to be tended to immediately. The second is Q2, which is important but not urgent, such as a patient who shows high potential signs of coronary issues leading to a heart attack. If Q2 actions are delayed, ignored or not attended to, they turn into Q1 situations, distressing us and resulting in losses.

Q1s are further divided into two types: internal Q1s and external Q1s. Internal Q1 could be when my car has been troubling me for days and needs to go to the mechanic for repairs. I have an extremely busy schedule; hence, I defer this visit to the motor mechanic, believing it to be a secondary priority. Hence, one morning, as I am driving, the brakes of my car fail and I ram into another vehicle. This is followed by an ugly brawl with the other motorist. I end up paying him for the damages, cursing my fate, being late for an important official meeting and succumbing to my frustration.

In this scenario, do I deserve sympathy from people or help from Allah (swt)? It was my choice to pend the car’s maintenance job and jeopardize my own and others’ life. Hence, this loss will be a source of Zulumat (darkness) and not a reward from Allah (swt). I earned this destruction with my own hands knowingly. Good fortune doesn’t hold forever. We need to learn to prioritize our life and be prepared, as we can’t read the future. Other examples of internal Q1 behaviour could be:

  • Studying at the last moment for exams and failing later;
  • Ignoring signs of a weak body, resulting in serious ailments;
  • Deliberately misbehaving with or annoying family members, causing disputes;
  • Forgetting about an official project or customer’s task, leading to reprimand from the boss or, worse, demotion or termination.

Now, we flip the scenario and imagine that my car was standing at a traffic light and another vehicle crashed into me from behind. What could I have done to alter this fate? Nothing. It was destined to happen. If I bear that moment with patience and recite: “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon (I am from Allah (swt) and to Him is my return),” this loss is accompanied with Noor (light). It becomes an act of pleasure for Allah (swt), as I surrendered to His decree and remembered that my possessions are a trust with me that can be taken away at any time. I didn’t resist, realizing that what had happened was beyond my control. I saved myself and others around me from unwarranted stress, misgivings, self-beating and bitterness. This graceful response of a believer earns the highest ranks of honour not only in Paradise but also in the sight of those in this world, who perceive Allah’s (swt) magnificence. This is purely an external Q1. Other similar examples could be:

  • Saving yourself from disappointment, after learning that your best examination paper was not marked honestly;
  • Suddenly discovering that in spite of living a healthy lifestyle, you have been diagnosed with a terminal disease;
  • Despite behaving generously and in the family’s best interest, you are unappreciated;
  • You perform your best in the office, yet the promotion or salary increment goes to another peer.

In all such cases, when our plan is scattered like the leaves in the teeth of a cruel gale, know Allah (swt) has planned otherwise. Pray for patience and deliverance. And know that Allah’s (swt) plots are unmistakably based on His infinite wisdom and love for the believer. This should draw us closer to Him. We should refrain from hunting for logical answers we cannot comprehend, due to our limited mental capacity.

Internal Q1s, however, should be and can be consciously worked upon, as they are within our circle of influence and can reduce the stressors and Zulm we commit upon ourselves. List your most frequently occurring internal Q1s. Analyze where you are going wrong. Double your resolve to plan and prioritize your life. If a loss still intercepts you after that as an external Q1 situation, you can pray for Allah’s (swt) Noor to come and relieve you. It’s not a loss but a better deal!

Ramadan – Solely for your Souls

Vol 6 -Issue 2 Ramadan solely for your souls

For most of us, Ramadan starts with mouth watering savories and ends with shopping sprees for the Eid. It is impossible to fathom beyond delectable Pakoras, let alone understand the blessed month’s meaning to a Muslim.

Let us try to understand the logic and benefits behind Ramadan’s fasting.

Allah (swt), our Nourisher and Sustainer, has two types of creations. The first one is mandatory Muslims, such as animals, plantation, planets, mountains, etc. They all prostrate before Allah (swt) and praise Him, as mentioned in verse 41 of Surah Nur. These compulsory Muslims also fast.

Some animals are known to hibernate for a part of the year and emerge with renewed energies at the end of their hibernation period. Similarly, plants shed their leaves in the Fall and appear feeble. But as Spring approaches, they bloom. This is also a form of fasting.

Allah’s (swt) second creation, which is also His best, is the mankind. Humans are voluntary Muslims. They have been granted freedom of choice, whether to submit themselves in humility before Allah (swt) or disobey. Simultaneously, they have also been informed of the consequences of their conscious decisions.

Allah (swt) has not left His creation misguided. He has clearly mentioned in a Hadeeth the five cardinal pillars of Islam leading to success, both now and in the Hereafter. They are: belief in the oneness of Allah (swt) and that Muhammad (sa) is His last messenger, observation of Salah (prayer), giving of Zakah (charity), performance of Hajj (pilgrimage) and keeping Saum (fasting). (Bukhari)

It is His mercy that through offering us a way of life, He has also endowed us with physical benefits. Scientific research proves that fasting enhances health. It gives our livers a break, so as to improve the digestive system. It reduces blood volume, which is good for the circulatory system. It stimulates our bone marrow, thus producing blood. Fasting also helps the effective function of pituitary glands, thyroid glands and the pancreas. Besides that, Allah (swt) also rewards for this act of worship. Thus, Ramadan offers multiple benefits to those who fast.

In the ignorant days of Makkah, people had deviated from monotheism; however, there were still remnant, although distorted, practices of Hajj and Salah as practiced by Ibrahim (as). However, the concept of Saum (fasting) was completely alien to them. The closest you could get of the practice was when they would starve their horses in the scorching heat to train them to survive the severe conditions of war – a practice, which was called Siyam. History tells us that Musa (as) fasted, before the Torah was revealed to him. Similarly, Isa (as) fasted before the Injil. The number of days and mannerisms were different, but the concept of fasting did exist in previous nations, too. Thus, the Makkans were informed about it.

Allah (swt) commanded them: “O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

Fasting is a means of self-control, especially in the face of vain desires. The foremost quality that one can attain through fasting is Taqwa (God consciousness). And it is the condition of Taqwa that leads people to Paradise.

When Allah (swt) prevents His creation from what is permissible, such as food, drink, sexual relations, etc., He helps them develop self control in the face of what is forbidden the remaining eleven months. In Ramadan, Muslims submit to this command voluntarily and give up permitted blessings willingly, to please their Creator.

Ramadan means scorching or burning. Some scholars state that in this blessed month Allah (swt) burns the sins of His slaves, who sincerely fast and pray to Him, renewing their states as pious Muslims.

Allah (swt) further commands: “[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if anyone 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), they have (a choice either to fast or) feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Allah (swt) is Just and, hence, provides options to the sick and old. This may include diabetics, patients with heart conditions, pregnant or lactating women, menstruating women, or women undergoing post-partum bleeding.

Another significant mercy of Allah (swt) is the lunar calendar that Muslims follow. Though Ramadan is the ninth month of the calendar, it shifts each year – Muslims residing in all parts of the world are offered an opportunity to avail this month in varied seasons. Sometimes it falls in winters, when the days are short and the nights are long, and sometimes vice verse. In thirty-three years of a lifetime, a Muslim has fasted in every season. This is another sign of Allah’s (swt) justice.

This also highlights how a Muslim is eager to please his Lord in all seasons. His prayer and submission is not time specific but perennial.

Lastly, all year round we are occupied with our physical existence – our body and its needs. We not only neglect but also forget about the vessel of our life – our soul. Ramadan is in reality an annul check-up of our soul. As Allah (swt) has breathed His soul into our bodies, our soul can only be nourished by the Quran revealed by Allah (swt). Ramadan is that month, when Muslims commit a great deal of their time to the understanding of the Holy Book.

Just as the moon is present during the day but not visible, so is the soul hidden within our physical body. The soul is supposed to be the master and possessor of our body. However, in this world, our vain desires and Shaitan’s whispers alter this arrangement. Our physical needs supersede our spiritual needs. Our body misbehaves like a demanding, spoilt child, and the soul gets house arrested. The body takes over as the master.

We can test the condition of our soul by simply analyzing our inclinations. If, in Ramadan, our routine doesn’t differ much from what we do during the remaining part of the year, such as performing Salah and Dhikr, staying away from the forbidden and fearing Allah’s (swt) watch, and we just need to do some more of it, Alhumdulillah. Our souls are healthy.

However, if Ramadan feels like a sentence, and we wait for it to get over, so we can return to our life of sin, we need to take serious caution. The soul is sick and needs to be treated.

The soul is Allah’s (swt) ambassador. It is pure and thrives only on purity. A sage once said: “Conscience is thorough bred. It stops talking to those who don’t listen to it.” If, all along, your conscience, the inner voice of your soul, has been preventing you from disobedience but you have been neglecting it, your soul will stop speaking up.

Our soul is like a pristine pearl, and its carrier is our physical body, acting as a velvet pouch. If we keep cleaning the velvet pouch unaware of the invaluable pearl inside, we have suffered a grave loss. Ramadan is here to make up for that loss and start anew. For on the Day of Judgement, Allah (swt) will not talk to our bodies; it will be the souls that will be held accountable. Allah (swt) will reverse our condition, as one wears a dress inside out showing the hem. The facials and the hair dos all will be discarded. The spiritual glow of the soul will lead the way.

Muslims should avail this golden chance offered by Allah (swt) in Ramadan to train the body and bring the soul back to life. This is when the soul is in command and our body is in submission, which should be the case for us all year long.

Editorial – The Prophet’s Concept of Companionship

10The thought of friends instantly warms up the soul. As Mark Twain sketched it, “it brings cheer in the face, song in the heart and sunshine in every step.”

No wonder childhood and youth are always brimming with life: we have surprises set upon us, with fun and laughter as a constant companion among the buddies. As life progresses, numerous responsibilities descend and slacken our ability to stay connected with friends. Those of us, who manage to keep in touch, would agree that it is no longer in the same carefree manner, and the frolic does eventually dilute.

However, what we all remember are the things we did for our friends and the sacrifices they made for us. Whether they were right or wrong is not the point, as friends seldom judge each other. They would let us copy their assignments at the eleventh hour; they would not tell on us when we puffed cigarettes; they would keep our secrets about our clandestine love affairs; they would lie for us to our parents or teachers when cornered, etc. And years later, they would laugh off the pranks and the deceptions.

However, companionship is dangerous, too. It has the power to change the course of our life, especially if we are not very certain of our own values and the direction we wish to take. Sincere friends, who tell us when we have been wrong and help us do right, are a blessing of Allah (swt). Consider the case of former pop star, Junaid Jamshaid, who was led to Allah (swt) by a friend. However, if we find camaraderie with someone who is misguided or a hypocrite, we can end up ruining our own lives as well as our precious relationships with others.

For the believers, Allah (swt) is One Friend, Who never forsakes them, whether in times of prosperity or adversity. Through Islam, Allah (swt) has set cordial and humane relations between nations: “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you.” (Al-Anam 6:38)

Similarly, in the early days of prophethood, we see the unparalleled example of a friendship between Muhammad (sa) and Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (rtam) that lasted until the Prophet (sa) passed away. They rest in peace today besides each other in Masjid-e-Nabwi, too. The beloved Prophet (sa) inspired the Ansar of Madinah and the Muhajiroon of Makkah to set up similar relationships among themselves. He instilled the belief of loving people for the sake of Allah (swt). This idea gave birth to an unthinkable force within. It germinated the strength to break away from all negative and satanic emotions and notions. Thus, it became possible to exhibit patience, think selflessly, act proactively, and become an endeared comrade, because this would earn Allah’s (swt) love and pleasure.

Today, we have a very narrow vision of friendship. Plus, it is generally assumed that it is only for kids and young adults. It is also perceived that friendship can only be formed with the same age group. Often, it is only to fulfil our own insecurities or to exploit others for short-term gains. However, Islam talks about all sorts of friendships: a companionship between spouses to nurture principles and peace in the family, a supporting network between Mumin men and women in the way of Allah (swt) for the rise of Islam, a relationship of admiration and awe between teachers and students, and a bond of unconditional love and guidance between parents and offspring. These are all diverse pictures of relations based on friendships between the weak and the strong. Our Deen does not appreciate unjust relations between the oppressed and the oppressor or between the controlled and the controller.

The Sunnah teaches us how everyone – old and small – revered the Prophet (sa) because of his just nature. He was mild with those who deserved Allah’s (swt) mercy, hence, casting lasting impressions and befriending people. However, he punished those who were Allah’s (swt) enemies and did not consider them to be worthy of his friendship, no matter how lucrative a gain was in sight. This is something we, as believers, should be mindful of.

This then is the formula we need to follow in judging whom to befriend and to what extent we should support and love our friends. The question to ask is not what we think of our friends but what Allah (swt) might think of them. If the Prophet (sa) was alive today, would we be able to introduce them to him without any shame or hesitation? Do our friends help us improve our family relations or are they a reason we are drifting further away? Do they help us reach our potential and cherish our triumphs or do they constantly condemn us and compete with us instead?

We can assess our own role as a friend with others in the same light. While the Sahabahs were alive, their undying loyalty and love for the Prophet (sa) were exemplary. What greater lesson can we learn about friendship? And our dear Prophet (sa) never let an opportunity pass to guide them, compliment them, enjoy with them, console them, care for them, worry about them, and at times, even discipline them for their benefit.

When they passed away, he would pray the Salat al-Janazah for the sincere Najashi; he would carry Julaybib (rta) in his arms for burial; he would remember young and handsome Musab for his valour, etc. Such was the friendship of the Prophet (sa), who prayed for all to meet be in his company not only in this world but in the eternal bliss of Jannah, too. He loved all for the sake of Allah (swt). Friendships endure trials only if they have been formed for the sake of Allah (swt).

Rana Rais Khan


Cradle to Grave – Consumer Kids


Marketers are reaching out to the embryo in the mother’s womb to hook it up for lifetime. From baby wear to infant accessories and play stuff, it all awaits the new arrival even before it is born. And that is where the producers are hitting the bull’s eye. Kids spend USD 40 billion annually. Such is their power in the economy. Naturally, everyone is out to get them as often, as early and at as many places as possible to convert them into lifelong consumers.


Some of the tactics that companies exploit and parents must be aware of are as follows:

  1. Nagging works. Imagine your seven-year-old rolling on the floor of a store, yelling at the top of his lungs for a toy that you have refused him/her. Research shows that such pressures work on parents, who lack determination and want face saving in public. Bluntly, they would rather have the kid shut up than exert proactive parenting. Hence, the reactive measures work. Also, soft and persistent whining and whimpering on the part of kids strikes deals for them, and parents eventually give in a while later.
  2. TV rules. The top three selling toys are generally the ones that are advertised the most on the television or are associated with some popular cartoon or kids’ show. Naturally, numerous companies have married their name to a myriad of products. They have a ready consumer sitting right before the screen, who would drive his parents all the way to the mall to become the proud owner of one of the paraphernalia on offer.
  3. Manipulative advertising. Marketing researchers have blink tests for kids. If a child sits through a TV commercial without blinking, it means the advertisers have nailed it. But if they observe him/her to blink in between, it means the quality of the advertisement is not mesmerizing enough. They immediately change the ad. After all, it is their motive is to sell the products.
  4. Defining culture. Another recent trend has been the cultural shift in consumer choices. The kids’ culture has gone from cheap to upscale. It is stepping into the world of brands. The companies take advantage of the kids’ natural desire to grow up faster and richer. Children’s idols are no longer teachers, astronauts, etc. They are teen idols, movie stars, sports’ icons, etc.
  5. Emerging lifestyles. Girls’ toys and Barbies tell little girls that the ultimate success is to look beautiful and sexy. What they buy and how they look is very important because this determines their value. Similarly, boys’ games are being brought closer to virtual reality, where violence, power and domination are dished out as entertainment to them. This is how we resolve conflicts, too, by killing and hitting.
  6. Good media vs. bad media. When some smart parents deciphered the exploitation scheme of these companies, the producers set out another false trap. A popular mantra these days is: “Kids don’t just grow up, they think up” – meaning: get your infant to watch educational videos and surround him with mind stimulating toys to turn him into a genius. And if you do not take the initiative, your kids will surely fall behind. This was another way to appeal to parents’ insecurities. As a result, in the year 2010, USD 7.8 billion worth of educational videos were sold.
  7. Reality bites. There is no solid scientific evidence that an infant or a toddler, who is introduced to electronic educational material, will be any smarter than the one who is not. In fact, research does confirm the opposite. Kids exposed to early screen time have a poor vocabulary, their ability to learn is hindered, they are caught with attention issues, etc. Their cognitive and social skills have no great leaps as super ambitious parents might want. It only trains the child to watch more TV.
  8. What does help then? Since the brain is rapidly changing in the first two years of a baby’s life, close family involvement and experiences help it thrive. The baby learns to hear sounds and voices, sights loving faces around him and feels the hugs of parents. Creative play is the foundation of critical thinking, problem solving and empathy. However, with the TV culture, kids are deprived of imagination. They are only learning to imitate. They can’t play a hero, unless they have the entire product range to represent it. In other words, a stick will not work for a sword.

There is a USD 15 million industry working to undermine parental responsibility. Naturally, these companies want to own these kids for life and have a share of their mind. Branded baby paraphernalia begins this journey of cradle to grave brand loyalty. Later, it determines their choice of cereal for breakfast, backpacks used in school, bed sheets spread over their beds and even socks worn for sports.

To many parents, this might seem very trendy or even innocent, but they must understand that while it will soar the company’s profits, it is a sure shot recipe for their children to stay dissatisfied and depressed further in their lives.

Consumerism has connections to satanic thoughts and desires, whereas Zuhd (abstinence from the riches of the world) grants deep peace and liberation to the soul – a soul that is owned only by the Creator (swt) and not by some service/merchandise warehouse planning its next product line and producing lies to sell it.

Be a moderate. It is okay for children to use and wear unpopular and unbranded stuff once in a while, and not worry about their class or image all the time.

Islamic legislation in the present times


It is the need of the entire Muslim Ummah that legislation should keep up with the changes in culture, civilization and technology. After the death of Prophet (saw) Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) and Hazrat Umar (ra) organised consultative councils to decide religious matters and make laws.

Umar (ra) would consult his companions in all matters – political, social, economic and legislative. He would often accept the counsel of intelligent and pious men. Many a times, he also changed his opinion in favour of another’s point of view.

Among the notable Tabaeen, a group of seven scholars took over the task of legislation in Islamic matters. Even the chief judge in Madinah used to consult the group, when making important decisions, and took actions accordingly. When Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was the governor of Madinah, he took full advantage of this forum. The seven scholars included Abu Bakr Bin Haris, Haris Bin Zaid, Qasim Bin Mohammad, Saeed Bin Musayyab, Abdullah Bin Utbah, Salim Bin Abdullah and Suleman Bin Yasar.

After the first few glorious centuries of Islamic rule, Ijtehad (reasoning by scholars on current issues) came to a virtual end after a long period. The entire Muslim Ummah came to rely only on the work done by the four the Imams centuries ago. There were a few individual efforts at Ijtehad, but they were few and far between and could not satisfy the demands of the changing times and technology comprehensively.

A notable effort in this regard was made by Aurangzeb Alamgir, the last of the powerful Mughal rulers. In the 11th Hijri, Aurangzeb formed a committee of religious experts under the supervision of Sheikh Nizam. The purpose was to compile a comprehensive book which covered all the issues of Fiqh, and would be acceptable to all the religious scholars. The book came to be known as Fatawi Alamgiri.

Although it was accepted at the government level, but never became part of the constitution of the state. It was a good effort as it contained varying opinions of religious scholars on different issues of Fiqh.

On the state level, we find another example in the Usmani period. In 1293 Hijri, a document containing different laws was compiled by a seven member team of religious experts, under the supervision of the judiciary. This effort took nine years to complete.

Islamic legislation has not been very successful because it did not get the attention it deserved. According to the author, the reason was the lack of coordination and trust between the religious scholars and rulers. It has been seen that kings and monarchs try to pressurise to get the religious scholars under their influence.

Religion has been used as a tool to forward the interests of the ruling parties. Traditionally, the righteous scholars moved in the backlines and the pseudo religious scholars were not accepted by the masses. Hence, there was no measurable stride in the field of Islamic lawmaking at the official level.

The need of the hour is to establish a reliable institution which should comprise of prominent religious scholars who enjoy the support of all the major schools of thought. The institution should merely send recommendations to the parliament (like the Islamic Ideology Council) but these must be acted upon for the change to take place. Additionally, the body should also address the modern problems faced by the society and should inform the masses of their opinions on different issues. This would help in guiding the Ummah in better decision-making.

For example, the issues faced by our society today are the influence of the media with values conflicting to ours. A lot of questions crop up in the minds of people regarding such issues. Also, questions like the definition of terrorism according to Islam and Shariah’s views on suicidal attacks, and other such problems have been addressed by some individual scholars but the Ummah continues to wait for a coherent and collective opinion from acclaimed scholars.

Excerpts from “Imam Abu Haneefa” by Naima Sohaib (translated by Eeman Asif Misbah).

Stray Bullets of 2013

I woke up startled by the deafening sound of gun shots in my almost pitch dark bedroom. After a few seconds, I heard my husband explain: “It’s midnight, we’re ushering in the new year.” My 3-year-old now wide awake stuffed her index fingers in her ears and buried her face as deep as she could in the soft blanket. It was beyond her comprehension that why in the earth our perfectly friendly neighbours were firing away in the sky in the middle of the night. Her shock and silence feared me. Upon much insistence, she just uttered: “I don’t like them, they are bad people. Call the police and put them in jail.” And she dug further down into her barrack of blankets.

My mother called our neighbours up trying to drill some sense into them to stop firing mindlessly stray bullets but someone hung up on her thinking her to be a party pooper maybe. What followed were fifteen minutes of non-stop gun sounds echoing in the neighbourhood. Now I knew what it must have been like for people of Gaza, when rockets were fired at them from Israel.

The morning news reported 36 injured in random firing incidents and 1 person dead. The city of Karachi speaks guns only. Whether it is to lodge protests, celebrate weddings or cricket match victories or settle old scores against rivals, etc. This city has seen more killings in the past five years than any battle ground.

If Islam is a peaceful way of life and Muslims are a moderate nation, why do we go out of bounds celebrating happiness or registering our sorrow? Disrupting peace of the society by irresponsible behaviour is a SIN. I repeat it is a SIN. After years of persecution and injustices, our Prophet (sa) had all the reason to celebrate the conquest of Makkah. Did we have men spraying bullets everywhere or women dancing and singing next to men, or people drunk painting the town red? Then who were those people, who were shown on news channels doing just that? Muslims? Has to be a mistake.

If Jannah is what all Muslims are striving for, please, be informed it will be a place of peace. No guns allowed. Kindly recheck your thoughts and actions. The Prophet’s (sa) etiquette to celebrate any joy or triumph was to praise Allah (swt) and fall in prostration, not rock the earth with a boastful display.

O My Lord! Forgive us and guide us to the truth so that we can display wisdom and courage where and when it is needed. Ameen.

P.S. Can you, please, also de-weoponize Karachi? Suma Ameen.

Entertainment – Editorial


When we compare reality with the fantasy world of entertainment, our real lives seem as different from reel life as chalk from cheese. The real life seems like drudgery with hours of work, stress, miscommunication, boredom, unfulfilled desires, broken dreams, restlessness, fearsome futures, etc. Thus, it is no wonder that we are too happy to escape into the virtual realm of fun. It grants us solace, merriment and whatever the heart desires, at least for a couple of hours, just as opium helps us forget the lows of life.

Ekta Kapoor, an Indian drama serial producer, states: “People want to have a sense of belonging. This comes with close family relationships. Because the familial connections are fast deteriorating, they feel a vacuum, which is then filled by the myriad of soaps on air. Each and every one of the audience can relate to a particular character in it and hence, imagines it to be his/her story.”

Similarly, the lyrics and the melodies of music are the unsaid expressions of many individuals, who feel this is their only means of communication and self-expression. With the justice and merit system crumbling worldwide, we love watching on-screen heroes setting the world in order. Consequently, sermons on morality and modesty are as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

It is important to remember that Islam does not espouse a morbid outlook. Instead, it offers plentiful opportunities to have purposeful fun without having to escape reality. The problem begins when we use the wrong lens to view our own arenas of entertainment. A globalized idea of enjoyment has been generally enforced, which is in direct conflict with our faith. The point to be understood here is that our Deen has no room for immodesty or frivolity, no matter how trendy and acceptable it becomes. We are concerned if a source of entertainment is detrimental to the social values of the world and not just to the Ummah.

As practicing Muslims, we can stay well within our turfs and be romantic, excited, thrilled and humorous. Our Prophet (sa) was as human as anyone can be. We need to learn from the Sunnah. The real challenge is to improve the real life that we lead so we do not have to frequently disappear into an imaginative den or draw happiness by pretending to look and become someone we are not.

Putting up a constabulary will not prevent unchecked leisure. We will have to set our relations right with Allah (swt), and learn to like ourselves and others the way we are. The nature of globalized fun is extreme whether it is celebrity following, self-projection through the social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, or the mall and cineplex culture of consumerism. It becomes the centre of life instead of being a part of life.

Entertainment should be pleasing to nature, and nature (Fitrah) is always pure. Only fleas thrive on filth and spread diseases. In stark contrast, bees seek sweet nectar that heals and drips pure ecstasy. The more we shop for Fatawas to legalize or to advocate the forbidden, the more we are likely to invite Allah’s (swt) wrath upon us.

In a world where 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty and 16,000 children die of hunger daily (one child every five seconds), how can we justify spending USD1.5 million on making a Bollywood film and USD47.7 million on a Hollywood movie?

Rekha Shetty, corporate doctor and acclaimed writer of “Innovate Happily”, talks about screen time. Her top happiness mantra is: “Too much TV is ‘tele-visham’ (tele poison). Too much stimulation, a mind space crowded by fantasy, people and events, distracts you from focusing on your own mind space, your home, your backyard. Whereas service to others makes the blood flow with serotonins – the happiness chemical.” This is another idea for purposeful fun.

Muslims will have to actively participate in creating fresh and innovative ideas for fun. For far too long, we have left it to those who are, for the most part, unguided and wandering. They may be good people with pure designs, but they are attempting to raise a structure on a crumbled foundation that will eventually fall. This is why we see sports plagued with gambling, talk shows with slander, movies with nudity, and so on.

Muslims are not monkeys. We don’t just do what we see others doing. Instead, we question the promos and cons, and submit only to reality. This issue of Hiba is an attempt to highlight the ideas and efforts of a few such Muslims who have blazed a new trail. May Allah (swt) inspire more to come forward with original and Shariah-friendly ideas. Ameen.

The “Fun-damentals” of Entertainment


By Rana Rais Khan – Editor, Hiba Magazine

“And it is He who makes (one) laugh and weep…” (An-Najm 53:43)

Islam is all about human nature. That is why it works in moderation, avoids extremes and takes into consideration the Fitrah (of connectedness to Allah (swt)). This ensures peace and harmony at the societal level rather than serving individual interests popularly known as human rights today. Any trend or inclination that is temporary in nature and may jeopardize people in the long run is never endorsed in Islam. Because it is here to stay till the Hour strikes, Islam is the means through which Allah (swt) has secured mankind’s ultimate success.

How Merciful our Rab (swt) is to have sent us a Prophet (sa), who was purposely granted a tender disposition. Had Muhammad (sa) been harsh, the people around him would have run away and no one would have been able to experience Islam’s true spirit. Our Messenger (sa) also set examples for the Ummah to enjoy their lives in private moments with family or public gatherings with friends. He would race with his wives, swim and wrestle with his companions, allow girls to sing and play the tambourine to announce a Nikah ceremony or to inspire soldiers going to war, joke with the young and the old light-heartedly and have the most smiling countenance. He was playful with little children.

Ibn Umar (rta) was asked: “Did the Companions of the Prophet (sa) laugh?” He replied: “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.” It is quite evident that laughter was a part of life even for the pious.

The rule was simple. Whatever was a source of pleasure to Allah (swt) in the name of fun was approved by Muhammad (sa). Therefore he never partook in pleasures that served the Nafs but defied the Shariah. And vice has been around all along. There were people who drank as lords, and liquor was available in abundance. Women were used as an object, and prostitution and adultery was rife. Gambling dens operated for games of chance. Singing and playing of musical instruments was present. Poets wrote poetry of Shirk and celebrated pagan festivals. Very little has really changed in the world of forbidden temptation. The only difference is the medium through which we are accessing it in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the culture of entertainment in general remains as perverse, frivolous and fleeting as ever.

Earlier, physical presence was a condition to be part of frolic. Now we can access everything quickly, freely and cost-effectively through cyberspace. Tragically, in spite of the strides in technology and virtual animation, the content and character of the entertainment world has plunged. Our avenues of entertainment have a direct connection with the social values in which we believe. Since the presence of practicing Muslims is next to non-existent on this front, naturally, we have people with a different set of values who are actively involved in churning out entertainment for us. Then we either endorse it by enjoying it with popcorn or we sit back and criticize it while fuming like a bull. Some boycott it in disgust and anger. But why can’t we fix it or at least, open options for those who wish to have decent and mindful fun? Certainly, Muslims have the means and minds to do it but maybe not many have thought of working in this area.

Muslims will have to work very long and hard, firstly to make valuable contributions and next, to make any impressions at all. This can mean a pleasant and welcome change of out of the box ideas that are pleasing to human nature and yet, decent in their content. The sex and violence filled productions of media and entertainment have killed diversity and creativity to the extent that it feels we have nothing better to offer.

It is sad but true that most of the fun dished out to us is in direct conflict with our basic faith. And we cannot endorse it or accept it for a couple of hours of merrymaking. This is because the impact is far deeper. The obvious and subliminal messages dictate our lifestyle and are a major source of taking us away from Allah (swt). The following are only some of the major issues that arise while indulging in today’s fun:

  1. 1.      Hypocrisy

Adulterating the truth is a very serious sin in Islam. We are commanded to call spade a spade.

  1. 2.      Disrespect for women

Amusingly those who claim to be the champions of women’s liberation abuse her the most. They sell her the false idea that her honour either lies in behaving like a man or using her feminity for immodest show casing.

  1. 3.      Humour

Muslims are required to cautiously pick their subject of humour. It is absolutely forbidden to make fun of our faith in any way and for anyone.

  1. 4.      Ridiculing others

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I am not of those who indulge in amusement. Those who indulge in amusement are not of me.” (Bukhari) It is quite clear that turning someone into a laughing stock and disgracing him is not permissible.

  1. 5.      Falsehood in jokes

Allah’s (swt) Messenger (sa) said: “Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawood) Prophet Muhammad (sa) had a unique sense of humour. He was truthful even when he joked and that is exactly what he recommended to others. But the comedy that we watch to laugh is hurtful, immoral, and very shallow.

  1. 6.      Addictive

We find occasional incidents of purposeful fun in the lives of our beloved Messenger (sa). That doesn’t mean that it was the centre of his life. Today, music, soap operas, movies, fashion shows, and Facebook can eat up a greater portion of our day. Forsaking them becomes impossible.

  1. 7.      Satanic in nature

As discussed earlier, contemporary entertainment revolves around a disbelieving culture which has been unleashed upon us. Muslims regretfully behave like the sheep which follow their shepherd, not realizing that they cannot become a part of the world where they don’t belong. It is denting identities and fueling insecurities as most Muslims unquestionably accept these satanic forms of fun, and comfortably sponge it up in their lifestyle.

It is not just merrymaking for a couple of hours. It changes their entire perspective of life. They begin to see the world from the eyes of a disbeliever. And hence, when the same Muslims are urged to steer away from the source of this misguidance, they become reactive and skeptical, casting aspersions on those who wish to preserve their identity as a Muslim and help save the Ummah.

Islam is not grim and grey. It will support everything that has a noble purpose, and oppose everything that appeals to the lower base and carnal desires that end up destructing us. As Muslims, we can blaze our own trails. Many have already made successful attempts.

Secondly, are we here in the world only to kill time and leave behind nothing? Even a dried autumn leaf buries itself to form compost for the new sprouting plantation. As responsible Muslims, the lives we lead must surely serve as the most valuable legacy we can leave to those who come after us.

May Allah (swt) guide us all and honour us with eternal glory and enjoyment in the gardens of Eden. Ameen

Box Feature

Are you knee-deep in contemporary entertainment and want out?

The Hadeeth about moving to a favourable climate and away from sins is really the answer which means we throw out all that corrupts us via entertainment: the TV, the friends, the cellular phones, etc. We stop going to malls, for movies, on Facebook, etc. at least for sometime, especially when we are weak and vulnerable and might get hooked back again.

Make Hijrat. Try ‘out of sight, out of mind’ strategy.

Head for those companions and places which support permissible fun. Hunt for new peers and new past times. Be in the company of inspiring and practicing Muslims via YouTube lectures, audio tapes, and live classes.

Basically, clean the closet of all the dust and cobwebs entirely before you re-decorate. You cannot heal if you are besieged with diseases. That is the bottom line. Once you have a greater control over your Nafs, then you can add some stuff back. Slow and steady doesn’t work.

The Fallen Stars


By Rana Rais Khan – Editor, Hiba Magazine

We have heard about the tragic deaths of many celebrities. They rose, they conquered and they shattered. They were gifted people. They had both ambition and opportunities. But when they reached the zenith of their success, their fate catapulted…

Whether it was John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Parveen Babi, Heath Ledger, Divya Bharti, Amy Winehouse or Michael Jackson – somewhere down the road, after achieving all that a person desires in this world, they all met a lonely, tragic death.

But why? These people were worshipped by millions of fans around the world. Why and how could they be lonely? Were they insecure, despite being the epitome of fashion and style? They had enough money to last a lifetime – what haunted them?

The truth is that the stars we admire and emulate are also people like us, and they have their own demons to slay. Leading a life under the public’s microscope, and pleasing millions across the world is not easy.

A news channel reporter once explained why Michael Jackson underwent countless painful cosmetic surgeries. The reason was that his father used to pick on him for being the darkest and the ugliest of all the siblings.

Reuters reported: “Whitney Houston, whose soaring voice lifted her to the top of the music world but whose personal decline was fuelled by years of drug use, was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room at 48 years of age.”

Parveen Babi, the Indian actress, was found dead in her house several days after she passed away. When it was time for her burial, no one knew what rites to follow because no one knew what religion she belonged to, if any. Once loved by all, she was utterly alone when she died.

British singer, Amy Winehouse, was found dead at her apartment in London. She was only 27 years old. She had won five Grammy Awards and sold millions of albums. But before she died, she had drug and drinking problems and had taken a divorce.

Scores of books can be penned about the misery of these “stars”. Happiness has very little to do with how famous you are and how much money you have. Junaid Jamshaid, former singer, put it aptly: “The human soul has been sent from the sky by Allah (swt); hence, it also needs to be satisfied from things that are divine – the Quran, which was sent by Allah (swt). The body was made with clay, so it needs to be satisfied with what the soil produces in terms of food and water.” However, we indulge the body but leave the soul to starve.

Allah (swt) wants humans to reach a level of piety and goodness. He keeps offering them chances throughout their lives to turn over a new leaf. Satan, on the other hand, tries to lead us to the abyss of doom. No matter what justifications or theories any one presents, the rule is simple: if we obey Allah (swt), our hearts remain happy and content; if we obey Satan, our life becomes living hell.

Turning a blind eye doesn’t change the reality. Popular culture and comfortable acceptance of immodesty doesn’t alter the Fitrah that is here to stay forever. Show business demands Allah’s (swt) disobedience. Regardless of the charity work done and the donations collected for noble causes, the pain will not go away unless the root cause is addressed.

We should keep in mind that supporting people on the road to disbelief includes our patronage of all that they do. We, too, are partners in crime by creating a demand and encouraging them to keep up with the supply. Allah (swt) will question us along with those who actually practice disobedience.

Let us pray that all our extremely talented and gifted brothers and sisters across the globe learn to willingly embrace guidance, serve the Creator, and lead contented lives. “…Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”(Ar-Ra’d, 13:28)

People of Substance – Who are They?

people of substance

By Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan – CEO and founder of “Bayyinah”, an Islamic educational institute in the USA

When we think of Islam, we immediately think about the five pillars of our Deen, and feel that it is sufficient to follow them. We appear very religious on the outside but have no character on the inside.

Think back to when the Prophet (saw) invited people to Islam in Makkah. The Sahabah, who allied with him, made incredible efforts along with him. Hence, they were bestowed with the title of Assabiqoon Assabiqoon (first and the foremost believers). They are held in high esteem and honour in the sight of Allah (swt) for all times to come.

The fundamental question that arises here is: what were their personalities, what did they look like, and how did they dress up? Interestingly, the Shariah had not yet been revealed to them, so naturally there were no laws for abstinence from alcohol, no dress code and no inheritance laws to abide by. Yet, something set them apart from the others. What was it? The brief answer is their commitment to ethics and justice. This was a permanent part of the Sahabah’s life. The following principles also apply to these ‘people of substance’:

The people of substance know how to respond to criticism

It is human nature that we do not appreciate it, when we are corrected. Well, we will seriously have to rethink this attitude and learn to take criticism in our stride. A common woman stood up and corrected Umar (rta), the Ameer ul-Mumineen, in public. How did he react? Did he tell her off? No. He not only listened to her but he admitted his error on the spot.

We should be open to criticism and not jump to self-explanation and justifications for our behaviour. No one is perfect. Even if people hold incorrect notions about us and we feel wronged, there could be 1% truth somewhere. We can work on our shortcomings, only if we actually admit our faults first.

The people of substance turn in repentance to Allah (swt)

Prophet Adam (as) forgot his promise and disobeyed Allah (swt). But he pro-actively turned back to Him and repented sincerely. A genuine and emotional talk with Allah (swt) where we cry out before Him weighs heavier on our scale than hundreds of monotonous words of Istaghfar on a Tasbeeh.

The people of substance foster healthy relationships

Relationships need to be healthy on two levels: relationship with the spouse, and relationship with our parents.

We need to ask ourselves: is our spouse emotionally healthy? It is imperative for the husbands to value and respect their better halves in this world. Being the head of the family, they are the shepherds, who are responsible for their wives and their kids.

Similarly, we need to be the best to our parents. A common question is: who has more rights – wife or parents? This is not a boxing match. Our sense of justice needs to prevail at all times. Parents have their own circle of rights and the wife has her own. No one’s rights should be overstepped. Men have to maintain that balance to ensure cordial homes.

Muslim marriages are one of the biggest issues that the Ummah is facing these days. Unsettled marriages and insufficient Tarbiyah lead to restless individuals, who vent their anger on the society.

The people of substance call others to Islam, using creative ways

We need to think of original ideas of entrepreneurship based on the Islamic system of merit and justice. This will offer successful projects and business opportunities to Muslims. In turn, it will not only elevate their standard of living but also polish their character and help reform the society.

Once, a CEO from Mumbai, who headed a firm of 500 employees, shared his initiative. After the work hours were over at his firm, he had permitted his employees to use the premises and other office resources for their personal study of Islam by taking up on-line classes with various scholars, etc. As their character refined, they became better serving employees, too.

We should not try to hasten change. In time, it will come. Remember Nuh (as). Even after 900 plus years, he persisted with his Dawah. Guidance is in Allah’s (swt) hands. But it is our responsibility to consistently pursue the different means of contributing our share and becoming one of the people of substance. Small deeds can lead to great Barakah. The youth, especially, should become an inspiration and show the beauty of Islam to the rest of the world.

The people of substance collaborate for the greater good

We need to connect with each other: Daees, Alims and Mufakkirs. Islamic scholars need to show the economists of the highest level how an Islamic economic system works. The Ulemas will have to understand the lifestyle and pulse of the society today. Considering the trends, they will have to seek Islamic solutions to close the gap between the learned people of Deen and the masses, and help them implement Halal solutions to their problems.

This is hardly the time to be involved in worrying about the 1% differences among different schools of thought in Islam. We need to come together on the 99% common grounds to solve greater problems plaguing the Ummah, such as killings, unemployment, injustices, etc.

We need to establish new job ethics in the market, fulfill our promises and contracts, build the highest level of educational institutes, create an environment conducive to healthy debates and freedom of speech without anger, engage all intellectuals to form a think tank to operate within the Shariah, help evolve a force of young religious minded people to tackle the present day and age challenges.

To transform ourselves and become one of the people of substance, we need to do the following:

  1. Educate ourselves seriously. Acquire fundamental education in the understanding of the Quran to become intelligent Muslims.
  2. Read the Seerah of our Prophet (sa) by multiple authors. We can pick one each year, comprehend different perspectives, and connect to the Quran.
  3. Learn the language of the Quran and the Prophet (sa) to gain direct access to the plethora of works in Arabic. This will ensure that we grow in the right direction in Islam.
  4. Besides our own field of education, try to take up courses in social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, humanities, etc. This gives an in-depth comprehension of human behavior and facilitates the understanding of Islamic doctrines, too.
  5. As we mature in our studies, we can pose questions to the Ulema for better understanding and meaningful implementation in the real world.

We need to understand that the revival of Islam is directly linked to the quality of education in which we invest. It is appalling to learn that the East Coast of the USA, mainly New York, has more universities in comparison to all the universities put together in the entire Muslim world. The Muslim Ummah will have to raise the bar and set very high standards for itself in order to accomplish great things.

Based on a lecture-shop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Rana Rais Khan.

Hope after 9/11 – Editorial


9/11 will always be marked as one of the turning points in history. How it happened and why it happened has led to a plethora of analysis world over. Each individual tries to make sense out of it. Some have called it a hoax. Some see it as a long range political game. Others perceive it to be the beginning of another crusade. However, they all come to a common conclusion that the fall of the twin towers in Manhattan, New York, has changed the fate of this world forever.

The 2,973 innocent lives taken that day was only the beginning of more wrath to come over many other innocent and unsuspecting people, who have later been slain hundreds of miles away from the original point of incident – the USA. Subsequently, terror has struck across nearly all continents, mostly annihilating the Muslim population through drone attacks, hate crimes, missing people, forced wars and terrorism incidents. After eleven years of mindless war games played by governments globally, the misery still multiplies for the common man on the street.

It may sound as emotional rhetoric, but I wonder how many of the people, who decide the fate of the world, have had to fight at the forefront? Have they ever witnessed how a bomb tears apart not only human flesh but also families, relations among communities and their future? Those, who inflict war on others, are the ones, who call loss of human life collateral damage. For them, dead bodies are figures to be counted. All of this is in the name of a greater cause: to make the world more secure and peaceful, to punish the evil and later, when they lose their battle, make negotiations with their enemy after killing thousands of people. Why couldn’t this dialogue happen right after 9/11? Why was the entire world sold the false idea that waging a ‘war on terror’ was the only way forward?

After eleven years of occupation, overthrowing the Taliban, and bearing a cost of USD 1 million for deploying each US soldier in Afghanistan annually, US forces still do not know what the Holy Quran means to a Muslim. Instead, their troops dump it in garbage outside Afghanistan’s largest airbase at Bagram and call it an unintentional mistake. Amid reassurances, of course, that they have come to build a bright future for the Afghanis. So life after 9/11, in terms of eliminating mistrust, building better inter-faith and community relations, seem static at one point.

Simultaneously, the service 9/11 has paid to Islam is of great significance. Never before Muslims have questioned their own identity like they do today. The weak labels they carried have suddenly begun to hold more meaning for them. They have opened the Holy Book and attached themselves to scholars in order to seek answers for their own guidance and liberation. Their souls have been stirred up. As a result, Islam has emerged as the fastest growing faith in the world. It is not being imposed on anyone. Rather, it is a rational choice.

For Pakistan, it has been an electrifying decade of events. Reluctant masses as an ally of ‘war on terror’ have been led by corrupt and incompetent regimes ruling the country. Following 9/11, by 2003, Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves rose to USD 11.48 billion, as a direct result of foreign graces bestowed upon us for fighting their war. I call it their war, because none of the culprits masterminding or executing their terrorist mission were Pakistanis. However, Pakistan has had to pay the highest price in this whole fiasco.

We have lost more than 35,000 soldiers of ours and they still fight on. Our cities have never been more vulnerable to sporadic bomb blasts. Our border relations with our neighbours have been of mistrust. No foreign press ever mentions the sacrifices made by our people, when 9/11 is cited. Instead, even today we are viewed as the black sheep with great suspicion.

Economically, the inflation rate has risen from 4.4% a decade ago to 16% in the year 2011. External debt has doubled to USD 60 billion in 2011 from USD 30 billion. 60.3% of Pakistanis live on less than two dollars a day, as estimated by UNDP. The short-term gain through the financial meaty bone tossed at us in 2011 to side the war on terror is flea infected now.

I wonder – had we mustered up the courage to say ‘no’ to this alliance, then would we have paid a heftier price than we are paying today? Isn’t Pakistan still being bombed with drones on one side and terrorists on the other? How has terrorism curbed in any way globally? Is this world a safer place through pre-emptive wars as envisioned?

I see little reason for us to cheer, unless we seize the moment and unite as a force against the pack of lies being sold to us. Muslims living in Dar-ul-Islam need to exhibit more courage and organize themselves than those coverts and reverts residing in Dar-ul-Kufr. This is the time to rise above petty differences and challenge the status quo.

Ramadan – Scriptural vs. Cultural


How does Islam manifest itself in Ramadan today? We witness a struggle between two forces – the traditional version or the cultural baggage versus Ramadan as it was brought and enforced by Muhammad (sa).

Abu Umamah (rta) has reported: “A man came to the Messenger (sa) and asked him to advise the man about something that would lead him to Paradise. The Prophet (sa) instructed him to fast.” (An-Nasai) It is generally misunderstood that fasting begins and ends with Ramadan. In the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, fasting was perennial.

According to the scriptural perspective, the greatest challenge of the fast is not to give up food, drink or sexual relations during the daylight hours. Rather, it is a means to train the human will. When we give up the Halal (permissible) for a month to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt), it should then become possible for us to give up Haram (forbidden) for the remaining eleven months of the year.

Hence, the simplest definition of an acceptable fast would be to do what Allah (swt) loves and to forsake what Allah (swt) hates.

How much of tradition can a believer incorporate in his fast without marring Ramadan’s original essence?

A customary element, which has emerged, is that Ramadan is the month of feasting. Actually, fasting and feasting are two different worlds. During Ramadan, Muslim around the world indulge in eating as if there will be no tomorrow, whether that later results in cholesterol issues, diabetes, acidity, etc.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported ten years ago that there were more obese people recorded in human history than starving people. The three meals an average American partakes in one day is equivalent to what 25 poor individuals eat in one day in certain African and South Asian countries.

This is an extreme way to look at life; if life is not pleasant or enjoyable, it is not worth living. For this very reason, we hear people committing suicide or wishing they could end their lives if they contract a terminal illness. We even hear of doctor-death going around, facilitating death for these patients as they find no joy in life. This mindset of over-indulgence and feasting destroys the human will. Fasting, on the other hand, disciplines it.

Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “They are like cattle, nay even more astray…” (Al-A’raf, 7:179)

We need to understand that Allah (swt) has created angels with intellect and no desires. He has created animals with desires and no intellect. Human beings are the only creation with intellect and desires. But if humans give up their intellect and fall for desires, they start to behave like animals. Animals can’t fast. They only know how to feast. Similarly, when humans give up their desires and only work with their intellect, they become angelic.

It is a well known Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) that “the worse container a human can fill is his stomach.” (Ibn-Majah and At-Tirmidhi)

On another occasion, he mentioned: “We should eat one-third food, drink one-third water and leave one-third room for air/breathing.” (Ibn-Majah and At-Tirmidhi)

During Ramadan, our test begins at Sahoor (pre-dawn meal) and determines whether we lay a foundation of feasting or fasting. If we have eaten to the brim, our system will take nearly ten hours to digest all that. By the time the digestive system has taken care of the Sahoor, we are ready for Iftaar (fast-breaking meal), when we reload our stomachs. We travel from one excessive point to the other. According to research, the highest number of cases of digestive disorders stream into the emergency wards during Ramadan.

Where does the fault lie? Is it in traditions such as piling up a guest’s plate even though he categorically refuses anymore, and thinking that it is a Sunnah to over-feed your guests? Or, do we think that over-consumption of food is a means of expressing gratitude to the Lord? How do we sift the real Islam from the cultural one?

If we do not carry authentic knowledge, we automatically start depending on traditions. Traditions, at times, lead us to innovations. And all innovations will end up in Hellfire. So, if fasting, which is meant to be our vehicle to Paradise, is not taking us there, where are we headed?

We have a choice. If we didn’t, Allah (swt) would have removed this responsibility from us. Allah (swt) never burdens any soul beyond their capacity.

We should commit and change our Ramadan pattern. Begin by making an intention to fast in the night before the dawn. One who does not make an intention has no fast. This helps us reflect upon the reason of the meal, which is not to celebrate. It will remind us that we are now boarding the vehicle that will take us to Paradise. How did the Prophet (sa) drive this vehicle? We will be encouraged to study the Sunnah. We will be living the life of Ihsan – a life that is conscious of Allah (swt).

An official statement or Dua is not necessary. However, it is important that we focus and prioritize our mind on the fast and plan that this is not going to be a feast; rather, it will be a fast. We will experience hunger pangs during the day. How else will we appreciate the blessings of Allah (swt) and feel the pain of the destitute? So, pause for a moment to check your intention. Then take a light Sahoor such as olives, egg, brown bread, etc. Pray Fajr in congregation.

The second part of the test will be at the time of Iftar. Will we board that cultural feasting train that we can’t control and head down the misguided path? Or, are we going to make Dua, eat a few dates, drink water, pray Maghrib in congregation, and then take a moderate meal?

The Prophet (sa) said that Allah (swt) says: “Every act of Adam’s descendants is for themselves, except fasting. It is meant for Me alone, and I alone will give the reward for it.” (Sahih Muslim)

Place your fast on the prophetic scale. What and how much did he eat? Did he prevent over-indulgence? Did he ever advise us to fast for 30 days and end up gaining 5 kg at the end of Ramadan? Muslims were meant to be a balanced nation with moderate behaviour. We were warned not to fall victim to extremism, like the People of the Book. Feasting is extremism.

May Allah (swt) help us to fast the way He has prescribed. Ameen.

This article is based on a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen” in 2011. It has been transcribed for Hiba by Rana Rais Khan.