Ready to Tie the Knot?

ready to tie

The bright lights of the wedding hall are pouring down on guests fitted in their choicest attire. The bride and groom attend the wedding reception resplendent in their meticulously prepared finery.

Yet, sadly, not many young Muslims, coming to the wedding hall for finalizing the most important decision of their lives, are fully aware of what an Islamic marriage actually entails. “Most couples spend more time preparing for the wedding, than they do preparing for the marriage.” The future husbands and wives-to-be go through numerous cultural rituals, yet only a few of them are ready for forming a strong, Islamically based family unit.

There are several matters young Muslims should consider, while getting ready for the life changing decision to ‘tie the knot’. Firstly, special care should be taken in selecting a good future life partner – one that would become your companion in paving your way to Jannah. Secondly, it is highly advisable that the young people go through some sort of Islamic premarital counseling that not only would provide them with knowledge regarding their Shariah rights and responsibilities, but also prepare them emotionally and mentally for building a successful Muslim family.

Finding the right man

It might be next to impossible to find a perfect man for marriage; however, it is within your reach to take some precautionary measures, which would assure that you do not end up in a disaster. Where to get started? Mona White suggests, “Nothing, absolutely NOTHING (including that BMW and indoor swimming pool) compares with the man’s religion and character.”

“If a man, whose practice of the religion satisfies you, asks you for your daughter in marriage, you should marry them; otherwise, there will be corruption on the earth.” (At-Tirmidhi).

There must be a reason, why such a great importance is placed on the Deen of man. Allah’s perfect order ensures that a God fearing husband would take good care of his wife and children and would not harm or dishonor them in any way. Ibn Uthaymeen says: “The most important thing is that the one proposing marriage should be good in the Deen and in his character – since regarding one possessing Deen and good character, she will not lose out in any respect: if he keeps her, then he will do so in a good manner and if he releases her, he will do so in a good manner.”

M. White draws up a checklist, which will guide you through the selection process:

(1) Correct Aqeedah: Believing in all those principles that Allah has commanded us to believe and keeping away from Shirk and innovations.

(2) Understanding and application of the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah: According to M. White, “a person who does not understand the authority of Sunnah in his religion has no understanding of his religion at all.” The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “I have left among you two matters that if you adhere to them, you will never be misguided: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” (Baihaqi)

(3) Character and habits: For this, you will have to do some research through the relatives and friends of the concerned man. Inquire, whether he prays in congregation, is generous in giving for the sake of Allah, has a beard, is a contributing member of the society, etc. Do not leave any question pending. The more you will ask the better understanding you will have about the prospective husband-to-be.

Searching for the ideal wife

The Prophet (sa) has said: “When a man marries, he indeed perfects half of his religion. Then, he should fear Allah for the remaining half.” (Bukhari)

This Hadeeth suggests that a Muslim man should be especially careful in choosing his wife, because his marriage will affect not only the soundness and happiness of his future family but also the status of his own religion. According to another Hadeeth, “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her wealth (or property), her lineage (or family status) her beauty, and her religion; so try to marry the one who is religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust [i.e., may you prosper].” (Bukhari)

Thus, in the case of the ideal wife, priority should be given to her Deen. According to Umm Rashid, “A Muslim man could not ask for anything better than to have a religious wife to be by his side and to teach his children.”

Further, Umm Rashid discusses the traits a prospective wife should have:

(1) Correct Aqeedah is once again on the top of the list.

(2) Good character: Shaykh al-Uthaymeen describes some qualities of a good character: Wishing the Muslims well, being content, having a cheerful countenance, speaking well, being generous, being courageous and dealing with others in an open and sincere manner.

(3) Proper Hijab: It gives to Muslim women their due respect and serves as a protection, ensuring that they would not be harassed. Allah says in the Quran: “Enjoin the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; not to display their beauty and ornaments except what normally appears thereof; let them draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their charms…” (An-Nur 24:31).

(4) Good reputation: According to Umm Rashid, “Whether a woman is a virgin or one previously married, she should be chaste.” Allah says in the Quran: “… pure women are for pure men, and pure men are for pure women…” (An-Nur 24:26).

Islamic Premarital Counseling

Another matter to consider, while preparing for marriage, is Islamic premarital counseling. What is it and what are its benefits? “In professional terms, Islamic counseling would be a confluence of counseling and psychotherapy with the central tenets of Islam. The idea behind Islamic counseling is to borrow the positive aspects of the Western psychotherapy and counseling, integrate them with the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah, and thus form a unique type of counseling that would be specifically beneficial for Muslims.

“Marriage counseling has three main areas including pre marriage, post marriage, and family counseling during marriage. Premarital counseling is a preventive measure to help people understand marital relationships, the responsibility that comes with it, and their expectations of one another.”

Premarital counseling is done in two ways:

(1) Premarital education: Lectures for single men and women that are open for anyone interested to learn and do not involve any formal responsibilities.

(2) Premarital counseling: A more private option that deals with the case-specific queries and concerns of a couple seeking marriage.

Premarital counseling can address a wide variety of topics, including the significance of marriage; communication between husband and wife; abuse within the family; styles of parenting, financial planning, relations with the extended family, decision-making; and conflict resolution between the spouses.

Creating awareness of these topics before marriage can become an effective preventive measure for avoiding unnecessary marital complications.

The Newlywed Game

Dos Don’ts
1, Be creative and have fun exploring what makes you and your spouse unique. If your likes and dislikes differ, there is nothing wrong about it. 1, Get real. Do not hold grand expectations of the Hollywood-style all-too-perfect, but non-existent marriage.
2, When looking for faults, look in the mirror. Learn to admit mistakes, focus on self-improvement rather than critical analysis of each other. 2, Do not fall a victim of ‘ADD’ (Attention Deficit Disillusionment). When you two don’t share the same ideas for spending leisure time, allow space to do your own things separately.
3, Be flexible and never lose your sense of humour. If you start taking every little thing seriously, life will become like a pressure cooker. 3, After a conflict do not carry your anger around waiting forever for your spouse to apologize. If the deserved apology comes – great! If it doesn’t, let go and have faith that Allah must have planned something better for you.
4, Be forgiving and kind. Instead of picking the worse in each other, focus on the positive and appreciate it. 4, Never try to change each other to please others. What may be good for your friends may not be ideal for you and your spouse. Change for the better should only be for Allah and then for each other.
5, Be prepared to sacrifice. Selfish and self-centered people can never make any relationship work. 5, To have a successful marriage one person cannot always be the taker or the giver. The street cannot be one-way.
6, Whenever you feel like gossiping about your spouse, pour it all out before Allah. He will know and understand much better than your friends, or relatives ever will. 6, When you are least expecting something good and it happens, the feeling is unimaginable. If you always expect a royal treatment, you will end up hurt and frustrated.

 

Ibn Battuta

Rym Aoudia, brings to us the life of the brave Muslim traveler, who visited of what corresponds to 44 countries in our times

“(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who go out (or travel, in Allah’s cause)…” (At-Taubah 9:112)

Islam insists on the importance of learning and contemplating about Allah’s creation. For Ibn Battuta, traveling was an experience that allowed him to do so. It was an opportunity to gain knowledge, observe nature, and understand different societies. As he traveled vast lands and crossed seas, Ibn Battuta became the greatest traveler of the 14th century and is regarded as an equivalent to Marco Polo. With approximately 75,000 miles traveled, he far exceeded Marco Polo in the distance journeyed.

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad-Din, was born into a rich family in Tangier Morocco on February 24th 1304 C.E. His aim was to become a judge. After his studies, he left Morocco to perform Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. This was a summer day on June 14th, which marked the beginning of his journeys. He was only 21 years old at that time. Even though his main reason to travel was to perform Hajj, he developed a passion to travel. This passion led to his adventurous travels that lasted for 30 years. During this period he frequently went back to Mecca to perform Hajj.

Back then, traveling was not safe by land and sea. Ibn Battuta first traveled alone on land by riding a donkey. He then joined a caravan with other pilgrims and traders for protection. Some walked, others rode horses, mules, donkeys, or camels. By the time they reached Cairo, Egypt, the caravan had several thousand members. He also traveled by horse, camel, and sailboat.

Ibn Battuta visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time like Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. He also traveled to Sri Lanka, China, and South Russia. He stayed in India for several years and was appointed as the ambassador to the Emperor of China. These countries were then mostly under the governments of Muslim leaders. During these travels, he had the opportunity to gain religious and legislative knowledge and to meet Muslim scholars.

After thirty years of traveling, he returned to Fez, Morocco. At the court of Sultan Abu Inan, he dictated accounts of his journey to Ibn Jazay al-Kalbi. These accounts are known as the famous travels, or Rihla, of Ibn Battuta. The travel accounts were completed in three months. Nowadays, one can read a translation of his travels in English.

One can greatly learn about society in Ibn Battuta’s time through his travels. For instance, from his accounts of the sea voyages and references to shipping, one notices how Muslims completely dominated the naval movement of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Chinese waters. One also observes how a mutual respect existed between the Muslims and Christians. Even though the Christian traders underwent certain restrictions, most of the financial negotiations were carried out on the basis of equality.

He was a careful observer of the societies he visited. He paid close attention to people’s dress and architecture. He also observed their social customs, rituals, governmental organization, and local attitudes. Literary scholars are fascinated with his role as an early example for travel literature.

In Fez in 1364 C.E, Ibn Battuta passed away. His historic travel accounts that transcend time still contribute to society and continue to be a source of learning.

The Prophet (sa) as a Husband

our role modelKindness

Allah says in the Quran: “…and live with them in kindness, even if you dislike them perhaps you dislike something God has placed much good in.” (An-Nisa 4:19). The Prophet (sa) said: “The best among you is he who is best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

He was even kind to the relatives of his wives. An old woman came to the Prophet (sa) and he smiled at her, showed her respect, and asked her, “How are you? How have you been doing?” She answered, “I am fine, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O, Messenger of Allah.” When she left Aisha (rta) asked, “Why did you welcome this old woman so warmly in a way that you do not welcome anyone else?” The Prophet (sa) replied, “She used to come and visit us when Khadeejah was alive. Do you not know that honoring the ties of friendship is a part of faith?” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Generosity

The Prophet (sa) was so keen to keep his wives happy that he would call Aisha (rta) to enjoy some innocent kinds of entertainment.

Aisha (rta) reports that on one occasion, the Prophet (sa) was sitting, and he heard some noise from people and children outside. There was a group of people gathered around some Abyssinians who were dancing.

He said: “O, Aisha, come and see!” I put my cheek on one of his shoulder and looked through the gap. Then he asked, “O, Aisha, have you had enough? Have you had enough?” I said: “No, just to see how much I meant to him and I saw him shifting his weight from one foot to the other.” (Nasai, Bukhari and Muslim)

Patience

Once, the Prophet (sa) asked his family for some food, which he could eat with bread, they told him, “We have nothing apart from vinegar.” He asked them to bring it and said: “How good a simple food is vinegar.” (Muslim)

One of the charactistics of the Prophet (sa) is that he never criticized food, if he liked it, he ate it and if he did not like it, he simply left it. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Easy-going nature

Umar (rta) said: “We Quraish used to have control over our women. When we came to Madinah we found a people whose women had control over them, and our women began to learn from those women.

One day my wife was angry with me, and was arguing with me. I did not like this but she told me, ‘Do you not like my arguing with you? By Allah, the wives of the Prophet (sa) argue with him. They get angry and keep away from him all day until night falls.’ So, I went to see Hafsa (Umar rta’s daughter) and asked her, ‘Do you argue with the Prophet (saw)?’ She said: ‘Yes’. I asked her, ‘Do you get angry and keep away from him until night falls?’ She said: ‘Yes’.

I said: ‘The one who does that is doomed to loss! Do you not fear the anger of Allah on account of the anger of his Prophet (sa)? Soon you will be condemned! Do not argue with the Messenger of Allah, and do not ask him for anything. Ask me for whatever you need.'”

Umar (rta) came to the Prophet (sa) and told him about the conversation he had with Hafsah (rta), and the Prophet (sa) just smiled. (Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, Nasai)

Conversations between the Prophet (sa) and his wives should not be assessed as that of a prophet and his wife, but as between a man and his wife; after all they were human beings.

Good Humour

Narrating an incident, Aisha (rta) said: “I came to the Prophet (sa) with some Harirah (a dish made with flour and milk) that I had cooked for him, and told Sawdah (rta) (Prophet’s saw other wife) – as the Prophet (sa) was sitting between me and her – “Eat.” She refused; so, I said: “Either you eat or I will fill your face!” She still refused, so I put my hand in the Harirah and dubbed her face with it. The Prophet (sa) laughed, put some Harirah in her hand and told her: “Do the same to her!” In another report: He lowered his knee (moved out of the way) so that she could get even with me, then she took some and wiped my face with it, and the Prophet (sa) smiled. (Al-Haythami 4/316, Al-Muntakhab 4/393, Kanz al ummal 7/302).

Once, Aisha (rta) was talking very boldly with the Prophet (sa). Abu Bakar (rta) happened to come and he grew so angry at his daughter’s behaviour that he wanted to beat her but the Prophet (sa) prevented him. After Abu Bakar (rta) had left, he remarked, “See, how I save you.” (Abu Dawood)

Independence

Prophet Muhammad (sa) never demanded or bothered his family members. In spite of a challenging and time-consuming mission he managed to run many of his own errands. His wives reported that he would often sew his torn clothes, repair his worn out shoes, milk his goat. (Ahmad)

Fairness and Steadfastness

Prophet (sa) was easy going in other matters, but was very firm in the matters of religion. Once during the course of conversation, Aisha (rta) described a woman as short. The Prophet (sa) interrupted her and said that this amounted to back biting. (Masnad Ahmad)

Sense of Justice

Aisha (rta) stated,” Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to divide his time equally amongst us and would pray, ‘O, Allah, this is my division in what I posses, so please do not hold me to blame for the division (of affection) which only you control.'” (Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidhi)

In another statement Aisha (rta) related that when Allah’s Messenger (sa) was ill he called all his wives and said: “Verily I am no longer able to visit all of you, so, if you do not mind that I remain with Aisha, please allow me to do so.” (Abu Dawood).

Allah says in the Quran: “Men are in charge of women by (right of) what (qualities) Allah has given one over the other and what they spend for maintenance from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard…” (An-Nisa 4:34)

This position of Qawwam (maintenance) means the man is completely responsible for his wife. It is indeed a difficult one. But every Muslim can find a solution to all challenges of his marital life from our beloved Prophet’s (sa) own exemplary role as a husband.

Divorce Boom In Asia

DivorceOnce, the idea of divorce was unthinkable in the Asian culture. Over the past decade, the divorce rate in Asia has soared. Time magazine quotes, the percentages of marriages that ended in divorce in 2002:

South Korea – 47%

Hong Kong – 41%

Japan – 38%

Alhamdulillah, Muslim countries still have the lowest rate of divorces, compared to their Asian counterparts. However, this does not mean that cracks are not beginning to emerge in the family value system.

Clearly, stigmas once attached to divorces are losing their force. People are becoming more individualistic. A marriage counselor Rita Leung, states, “Because of globalization, couples in Asian cities are more like American couples nowadays.” If a problem emerges after getting married, couples tend to think more of their own interests, than of harmony within family.

Surprisingly, women are initiating more divorces today than men. The metamorphosis has occurred mainly due to economic independence, which empowers females not only to take care of themselves, but also bring up their children. Married men, who have been denying rights to their spouses, are also a major contributing factor. Suffering abuse is no longer modern woman’s prerogative.

We feel that for most men walking out on a failed relationship is as easy as pouring a cup of tea. Research proves the opposite – urban men do not cope with divorce that well. According to councilor Ikeuchi, divorced men live nine years less than their married peers, even though many may envy their freedom and the assumed peace of mind.

The question is – where to go from here? Nowadays, the concept of ‘marriage education’ is being introduced as the way to control the epidemic of divorces. It simply means learning the ropes before tying the knot. A councilor explains that it is like a vaccination instead of surgery.

According to Gottman, a clinical psychologist, in relationships conflicts are common. However, only 31% of conflicts get resolved over the course of a marriage. The other 69% are perpetual, unsolvable problems. The insight is not to bother to fix the unfixable. However, what one should attempt to do is conquer four of the most common negative factors of unstable unions: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.

As Muslims, we have a very simple formula that always works, provided it is followed. We build every relationship with trust in Allah. Then, for nourishing the ties, we use the skills given to us by Him. If self-improvement is required by giving up bad habits, we do it. We make every effort to save our relationships, rather than give in to easier choices, such as breakups. Finally, if it works, we thank Allah. In case it does not, we still thank Allah, trusting that His supreme decision is for our best interests. Without losing hope, we try to make a new beginning.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) married Zainab (rta), who was the divorcee of his adopted son, Zaid (rta). Thus, he gave her the second chance to rebuild her life.

Allah states:

“…if they disagree (and must part), Allah will provide abundance for all from His all-reaching bounty; for Allah is He that cares for all and is Wise” (An-Nisa 4:130)

Concerning divorce, the Prophet (sa) said that it was made permissible by Allah, but it is also the deed most disliked by Him. Divorce must be viewed as the final resort, after all sincere efforts for reconciliation have proven futile.

Months and More

Sabahat Anwar discusses the significance of 8th-10th months of the Islamic calendar

Shaban – the 8th month

‘Shaban’ means ‘to spread,’ ‘to distribute’. It is so named because in Shaban:

  • Arabs used to disperse (Tashaba) in search of water;
  • Arabs would set out to make raids and sudden attacks.

A Hadeeth states: “There is a month between Rajab and Ramadan called Shaban. People are very ignorant towards this month, even though the reward of each deed is greater within it, and the deeds are presented to Allah.” (Baihaqi)

Thus, the fasts of Shaban are the most meritorious after those of Ramadan. The Prophet (sa) would fast during Shaban, and make up any missed fasts from the previous Ramadan. However, fasting the whole month of Shaban or during its last few days is Makrooh (disliked), unless outstanding fasts or a vow or an act of Kaffarah (expiation) have to be fulfilled.

Ahadeeth about the 15th night of Shaban (Lailat Al-Barat – the night of forgiveness), when Allah forgives sins and showers mercy on those who repent, are weak. Specifying nights for worship is against the Sunnah.

Events:

  • 2 AH – the Qiblah changed from Bait Al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem) to the Kabah (Makkah)
  • 2 AH – fasting in Ramadan made compulsory

Ramadan- the 9th month

‘Ramadan’ derives from the Arabic word ‘Ramadha,’ which means ‘intense heat.’ Ramadan is named so because:

  1. When the months were given names, it coincided with the hot summer months.
  2. Fasting causes the stomach to feel ‘hot’.

Virtues:

The Quran was first revealed in Ramadan. Abstaining from food and drink not only teaches us compassion for the poors, but also gives the chance to reconnect with Allah and focus on increasing our Eeman and Taqwa. By constantly doing Dhikr (remembrance), we thank Allah for guiding us and giving meaning to our existence. Lastly, the nightly Taraweeh prayers establish a great unity among Muslims.

Events:

  • Revelation of Quran started
  • 2 AH – battle of Badr
  • 3 AH – birth of Hasan (rta), the Prophet’s (sa) grandson
  • 3 AH – marriage of the Prophet (sa) to Zainab (rta)
  • 8 AH – conquest of Makkah
  • 11 AH – death of Fatima (rta)

Shawwal – the 10th month

‘Shawwal’ derives from the following meanings:

  1. ‘to be light and vigorous’ – Arabs used to be active and hunt often during Shawwal;
  2. ‘raise’ – during Shawwal, she-camels would raise their tails, when they would become pregnant;
  3. ‘uplift or breakage’ – in the days of Jahiliyah, Arabs believed that any marriage held in Shawwal would be unsuccessful (these superstitious beliefs were later abolished).

 

Eid-ul-Fitr – the 1st of Shawwal marks the end of Ramadan and is a day of celebrations.

Ash’hurul Hajj – Shawwal is the first among the three months of Hajj. The other two are Dhul Qa’da and the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.

Virtues:

Many Ahadeeth praise the virtue of fasting 6 days in Shawwal. In one, the Prophet (sa) says: “A Saim (fasting person) is regarded as if he fasted perpetually” while in another, that “The Saim is purified of sins, as if he was just born that day.” (Muslim) These fasts may be observed any day after Eid-ul-Fitr.

Events:

  • 2 AH – fight between Banu Qaynaqa
  • 3 AH- battle of Uhud
  • 4 AH – Hussain, (rta) the Prophet’s (sa) grandson, was born
  • 4 AH – the Prophet (sa) married Umme Salamah (rta)

5 AH – death of Khadija (rta) and Abu Talib

Blessed Repentance – A True Story

repentanceNayyara Rahman tells the true story of a girl who rebuilt her life

Deliverance comes in unusual ways, and to unusual people. On the surface, nobody would think of her as unfortunate. Being born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother not only exposed her to different cultures, but different lives.

When her Lebonese family moved to Australia, she fit right in. For although she was half-Muslim, the girl was quite unscrupulous about how she dressed, dined, and generally lived her life. The Quran was more of an ornament than anything else in the household, the prayer mat just another piece of tapestry.

Upon reaching adulthood, she never missed her childhood innocence. In fact, she was eager to lose it, and soon did. Purity was a distant thought, as it sometimes is when you are young and beautiful. Her list of admirers grew, especially after she became the cover girl for an illicit magazine. For someone whose sole purpose in life was to be happy, she was doing very well indeed. But, something was still gnawing at her. Soon she found out what it was.

As she was channel surfing at a friend’s house one day, an unusual program caught her eye. It was about Chastity. She felt that the words were directed towards her. After all, every day of her life consisted of the evils being talked about: immodesty, fornication, and an overwhelming lust for this world. She thought about the Fire that was so real, and shivered.

Now, she knew. The best way to understand Allah’s Mercy is to know that all you have to do is ask, and He gives. Once she had made up her mind to reform, guidance followed soon after. She left her boyfriend. The girl who never grew tired of tank tops began to see the beauty of the Hijab. Someone who prided herself on being the darling of fashion magazines began to appreciate the Quran’s Eloquence. Drugs and drink were shoved away to make room for fasting and prayer.

At last the gnawing stopped. Her days were now periods of peace – a very welcome change from the rowdy clamour she had left behind. She had never known such contentment, and she believed that life did not get any better than this. That is when fate stepped in again.

Allah has a way of testing His Faithfuls, and He tested her too. She had not been feeling well for some time. At an examination at the local hospital, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, she was not afraid. After all, her life belonged to Him. He had much more of a right over it than she did.

Nevertheless, the surgery took place. The result was gloomy. She died soon after, at the tender age of twenty-two. It all happened in the course of three weeks. Her reversion to Islam up until her death.

However, her brief attempt to reconstruct her life did not go in vain. There is so much we can learn from her: For one thing, we must remember Allah helps those who work hard towards self-improvement. It is never too late to change, and no goodness, no matter how small, goes unseen by Him.

Above all, remember, that there is no such thing as a ‘long life’ for those of us who understand what it is. Should not we make the most of whatever time we do have left?

Good Pickings

Can women find any good in their mothers-in-law, asks Uzma Rizvi

Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law share a special bond – a bond that is sometimes difficult to come to terms with. Some have it easy and adjust with one another from day one, while others have differences that are resolved over time. Some keep bickering all their lives, and some just learn to tolerate each other’s shortcomings. So, when I was assigned this article to dig up qualities that women admire about their moms-in-law, I took it up with some reservations – Would I be opening a can of worms? Will I get any positive replies? Well, read on and find out.

When I put the question to Samira, who lives in a joint family, she was quiet for a long time, then said: “Right now I just cannot come up with any thing I admire about my mom-in-law, except that … I can say, she is time-conscious. She does not procrastinate, whether it is visiting people, doing household chores, or just going to the bazar. As for her other commendable qualities I will call you back if I can think of more.” I have not heard from her since!

Rafiqua, remembers her mother-in-law quite fondly and answered readily, “My mother-in-law expired a few years ago, but before that we had thirty years together. The thing I liked most about her was that she did a lot of Ibadah, whereas in my family I had not seen elders praying so much or so regularly. I also appreciated that although I had four daughters she never ever taunted me, like many in-laws do. Though we had our share of misunderstandings, she would always make up some how through her actions. Like she would call me for a chitchat, or would just hug me for seemingly no reason at all.”

Mahnaz gave a meaningful smile, when asked to identify some worthy characteristics of her mother-in-law, “Umm…let me think. It’s a little difficult to come up with something.” Then she admitted, “Yeah, I know one thing, she is very patient with everybody – with her husband, with her son and with me. Even if she does not like something she usually keeps quiet and shows no reaction, no matter how much it bothers her. While I, on the other hand, am impatient. Now, I have learnt that her way of keeping quiet and letting things simmer down is a real asset in maintaining peace around the house.”

Sajida lived as a newly wed bahu with her mother-in-law only for a few months, before the lady expired. “Unforgettable,” is how she describes her mother-in-law, and adds, “She was very loving. The most admirable thing about her was that she would go out of the way to help others. She would pool in money for the needy. And yes, she also had wonderful tips and hints about house-keeping and interacting with people.”

Now, that was not too difficult, was it? It just takes some effort to focus on virtues. Whenever a misunderstanding occurs, let us remind ourselves that each one of us has positive and negative traits. If we focus on the good rather than on the bad traits of others (especially close relatives), we will not only make our lives stress-free, but will also earn Allah’s pleasure.

* (Some names have been changed)

Dazzling Dubai

DubaiDubai is the home of sand, sun, and shopping. There are two sides of Dubai to explore – the sleek, futuristic world of mirrored skylines, chilled-air malls, and James Bond-style artificial islands; and old Dubai, perhaps most clearly represented by its ancient mosques and countless Souks, all of which sell a different specialty.

Food:

Even picky eaters will have to surrender to the variety offered in terms of dining, which ranges from economical fast food joints to posh clubs and restaurants. Besides trying the Italian, Mexican, or Chinese, do not forget the delicious Arabic cuisine. Shawarma, a pita bread roll with chunks of chicken or meat and savory sauces, is a delight. French fries served not on a plate but on a burger along with chicken patties!

Automatic Lebanese Restaurant can offer Hummus and Mutabbal, two great dips to go with pitta bread and sourly pickle. Sheesh taook and Kebab are also recommended.

For South Indian food lovers there are plenty of Masala Dosa inns, “India House” being one. “Bombay Chowpati” is for Chat lovers. Pakistani restaurants are famous for their Nihari and chicken Biryani. Trendy cafes, such as “French Connection,” are everywhere for a light bite.

Sight Seeing:

Walking Tours

Dubai is a sprawling city and, combined with the heat, can be difficult to walk around. There are no official guided or signposted tours. A number of companies offer half-day city tours.

Other Tours

“Coastline Leisure” operates one-hour guided tours of Dubai Creek by dhow. “Arabian Adventures,” also offers a choice of cruises on Dubai Creek. Alternatively, go down to Dubai Creek and charter a traditional Abra (water taxi).

Dune Bashing

Regular tours are run and can combine dune bashing with desert dinners in recreated Bedouin camps.

Camel Rides

A ‘Rides and Slides’ tour combining camel rides with sand skiing is also offered.

Parks:

The lush green stretching for miles can be a very serene outing. Parks can entertain you with beautiful landscapes, swings for kids, boat ride adventures, barbeque grills for family cuisines, and even cable cars for having a panoramic view of the city. Some of the most famous names are Safa Park and Creek Park.

Water Sports:

“The Wild Wadi” water park is just the place for aqua lovers. The tall and swirling water slides are part of a big investment in tourism. Apart from that, scuba diving and wind surfing in the azure waters of gulf are also a treat.

Museums and Other Edifice:

Dubai National Museum

Built in 1787 as a fort for sea defense and located in Al-Fahidi Fort, it is one of the most ancient buildings in Dubai. The Museum displays pottery, stone and metal items, stone engravings, and skeletons. Here the visitors can browse through a collection of old maps of the Gulf and the Emirates. A model of a wind-tower room is an interesting feature of the architecture section.

Sheikh Saeed’s House
It is on the Shindagha end of Dubai Creek. A rare collection of historic photographs, coins, stamps, and documents can be seen here.

The Bastakiya
The largest concentration of traditional courtyard houses in Dubai, located in a short walk distance from Al-Fahidi Fort. The old district of Bastakiya provides a hint of the old Dubai, with its narrow lanes and tall wind towers.

Bur Dubai Creek Side
The buildings lining the Bur Dubai side of the creek provide the main panorama of the old city. The traditional facades of these buildings have been restored to their original state, with wooden windows, decorative gypsum panels, and screens.

Archaeological Sites

There are four main excavation sites in Dubai: Al-Qusais, Al-Sufooh, Jumeirah, and Hatta. The Jumeirah site reveals artifacts from the 7th to 15th centuries AD.

Burj Al-Arab

This is a sail-shaped edifice as tall as the Eiffel Tower. The hotel has become Dubai’s striking trademark and a wonder to see. The Burj (meaning ‘tower’ in Arabic) is not everybody’s idea of a place to stay on a holiday budget, as rooms start at USD 1361/- per night!

Shopping:

Being an open port with low import duties and no taxation, the city offers the bargain hunter unbeatable value. Dubai’s major shopping areas include: City center, Burj Uman center, Marcato, Al-Rigga Road, Karama, Al-Dhiyafa Road, and Bani Yas Square, not forgetting the Dubai Duty Free complex at the airport.

Value buys can be made at discount stores located all over the city. They offer items worth from Dhs 2/- up to Dhs 20/-. This is especially meaningful for souvenirs, gifts, and other nick knacks.

Carpets: Numerous shops specialize in carpets, with countries of origin ranging from Iran, Pakistan, and Central Asia to China. “Deira Tower Shopping Mall” in Al-Nasr Square has the largest number of carpet outlets under one roof.

Clothes: There are many boutiques and designer label shops for men, women, and children. Each shopping mall offers a mixture of expensive and cheaper clothes.

Electronics: Prices of electronic goods in Dubai are generally lower than anywhere else in the world.

Gold and Jewellery: Dubai’s Gold Souk is world famous for its low prices and sheer variety on offer. Those who bargain hardest get the best price.

Perfumes: Just about every perfume in the world is available in Dubai.

Festivals:

Dubai Shopping Festival

Dubai must be the world leader, when it comes to organizing events, especially, when the Dubai Shopping Festival is concerned. 300 Hotels and 130 apartments also participate with special offers during this period. “Emirates” and most other airlines flying out of Dubai offer discounted airfares and much needed excess baggage allowances, during the festival. Events for children, street side performances, nightly fireworks, etc., reflect the emirate’s cosmopolitan character.

Hotels: “Sheraton,” “Sofitel,” and “Best Western.”

Blessed Food

Sunnah foodsOlive Oil

Allah says in Quran: “The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp; the lamp is within the glass, the glass as if it were a pearly (white) star lit of (the oil of) a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor west, whose oil would almost flow even if untouched by fire.” (An-Nur 24:35)

The Prophet (sa) said: “Eat Olive oil and rub yourselves with it; it is from a blessed tree.” (Ahmad)

Milk

Aisha (ra) narrated, “When Allah’s Messenger was brought some milk, he would say, ‘How much is there in the house, one blessing or two?'” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah)

The Black Seed

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “A black seed has the cure for every ailment, except a fatal one.” (Ibn Majah)

Dates

The Prophet (sa) said: “He who eats seven ‘Ajwa dates every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.”(Bukhari)

Al-Qurtubi says: “On the surface, Ahadeeth specify the dates of Madinah as preventive of poison and witchcraft. A generalization of this is made by analogy with the specific meaning.” Ibn Hajar finds that, “The more likely meaning is that it is particular to the dates of Madinah.”

The Prophet (sa) said: “There is a tree among the trees which is similar to a Muslim (in goodness), and that is the date palm tree.” (Bukhari)

Truffle

The Prophet (sa) said: “Truffles are like Manna (i.e. they grow naturally without man’s care) and their water heals eye diseases.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Honey

In the Quran, our Lord inspired the bee, saying: “Take you habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you).” There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think.” (An-Nahl 16:68-69)

Zamzam Water

Allah’s Messenger (sa) is reported to have drunk water of Zamzam in a number of true Ahadeeth. (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) drank Zamzam (water) while standing and said: “It is blessed. It is filling food.” (Muslim)

He also said: “Verily, it (the water of Zamzam) is blessed; it is a food that nourishes (or satisfies).” (Muslim)

In another narration the Prophet (sa) said: “The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.” (Ibn Majah) Therefore, the scholars recommend that one should make lots of Dua while drinking the water of Zamzam and he should drink it for a purpose that will benefit him in this world and the next.

Food for Thought

Misplaced discipline in our eating lifestyles must be harnessed to discover the true joys of health and harmony, writes Dr. Sarah Shahab

Just as lack of food in many parts of the world causes misery and malnutrition, an excess of it poses the most common problems of the modern world. The relationship between diet and disease has long been established. Excess consumption of energy rich foods (containing fat and sugar), combined with physical in activity can lead to many chronic diseases-like obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and arthritis in weight bearing joints (spine, hip, and knee).

A balance between energy intake and energy expenditure can be achieved through moderate physical activity, such as thirty minutes of brisk walking, five or more times a week, by limiting the amount of saturated fat, mainly animal fat, hydrogenated vegetable fats, and tropical fats (coconut and palm oil).

A diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, low-fat dairy and whole grains increases longevity and reduces the risk of overall mortality. A large number of anti-carcinogenic agents are found in fruits and vegetables. It has been observed in many studies that persons with low fruit and vegetable intake experience about twice the risk of cancer compared with those with high intake.

Body Mass Index

Health professionals consider the body mass index or BMI as a reliable means of identifying health risks in people due to obesity. BMI takes into account an individual’s weight and height. It can be calculated by dividing ones weight in pounds by the height in inches squared multiplied by 703. A person with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered over weight, while someone with a BMI of 30 or more is obese.

Benefits of Fasting and Taraweeh

It takes motivation and commitment for a permanent change in eating habits. Just like animals can be tamed by planned feeding and hunger intervals, much self-control can be developed in human beings through fasting. Fasting not only nurtures the soul, but the body through a voluntary control of physical desires. Depending on the correct and consistent choice of food consumed at dawn and dusk, fasting prevents formation of atheroma, lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides. Serum Magnesium also increases during fasting-which has a cardio-protective role.

Studies reveal that underfed animals live longer and suffer less from disease than overfed ones. Just a few of the many diseases that benefit from fasting are hypertension, diabetes, obesity and osteo-arthritis. There is enhanced secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland during fasting. Besides stimulating erythropoeisis, increased insulin response etc., GH stimulates protein and collagen synthesis-hence preventing the skin of those who fast regularly from wrinkling. Opiods or narcotic-like substances are released during fasting, producing tranquility and elation.

The benefits of the five times Salah, as well as the optional Taraweeh Salah helps each and every muscle in the body contract. This increases blood flow and improves physical strength. Gentle exercise, as in prayer and in the Taraweeh prayer increases bone mineral density at sites of maximal stress, for example, during Ruku and Sujood, thus reducing osteoporosis. When blood sugar levels begin to rise after Iftar, the Taraweeh helps oxidise the circulating glucose to carbon dioxide and water during prayer.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Food for one man is enough for two, and that for two is enough for three, and that for three is enough for four.” (Bukhari)

Improving the Teaching of Islamiat

Speaking from a student’s perspective, Hafsa Ahsan humbly offers the teachers of Islamiat practical suggestions for improving the quality of lectures

I stifled a yawn and glanced around the class. Two of my classmates were reading a Danielle Steel novel under their desks. Behind me, a group of my classmates were chatting merrily. At the first read, you may think the teacher was not present in the class. But no, there was a full fledge lecture going on. This was a typical scenario of our Islamiat class, and some of the ways my classmates designed for breaking the monotony.

I feel really bad writing this, but the Islamiat classes were the most-dreaded ones. It was not so much the curriculum itself, as it was the way it was actually taught. I will be frank: the only reason I attended this class was because proxy attendances were against my principles.

Whether we talk about the British system of education or our Pakistani one, the curriculum is generally the same. Whether we studied the subject one semester or two years, not many of us actually remembered, what we had been taught. Most of the ‘study’ was comprised of a rush to make notes or open the textbook in the last month before exams, cram up as much as possible, and reproduce whatever we can in the exam paper. End of story.

The question, which generally arises, is – how should Islamiat be taught? It is a compulsory subject, after all. Its theoretical nature makes it difficult to fit Islamiat under the standards of science and commerce subjects, where concepts are understood through graphical, statistical, and logical means. However, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Using Audio Visual aids

I yet have to come across a teacher, who would actually use the blackboard, or any kind of Audio Visual aids, while teaching Islamiat. The ‘lecture’ in the truest sense of the word does not really hold the attention of students. If delivering the lecture in a form of an attractive presentation is too time-consuming, a good use of the blackboard would definitely make the class interesting. Mind maps showing the relations between different concepts are the most relevant diagrams, considering that we are talking about a theoretical subject.

Relating the subject to everyday life

In case of a simple topic like ablution, the teacher can go beyond the basic methodology of ablution and ask students questions like ‘what would they do if they have to pray at school and want to do ablution with their socks on?’ There are many such issues in our daily lives, for which we need to refer to Islamiat. Think about it: if we are not able to concentrate on our prayers, does not the need arise to remember the meaning of what we recite? Someone asks us to give Zakat to a charity organization, and we wonder, whether or not a charity donation actually counts as Zakat. There are many similar occasions, where we need to apply Islamiat.

Relating the subject to important scientific concepts

A couple of months ago, my sister showed me a physics formula, which illustrated, how at the time of Mairaj, Prophet Muhammad (sa) explored the seven skies and came back within a night. The formula had some values, which gave the value of time to be infinity. Now, if the Islamiat teacher is well up to date with the latest scientific research, he/she can relate similar connections in the class, which would definitely fascinate the students. Another example is the burning of the seas on the Day of Judgment. The teacher can show how, if the covalent bonds between hydrogen and oxygen break, one gas will burn and the other will make it burn -that is how the seas will be ignited.

Asking ‘how’ not ‘what’

Most of the Islamiat questions I saw in my school days began with ‘what’. Or still worse, there were such questions as ‘Write a note on Salah’. For the life of me, I have never understood the logic of the word ‘note’. Most students have come to translate this word as ‘Write everything you know about…’ And that is precisely what students do. On the contrary, such questions as ‘Why do you think Salah is not excused under any conditions?’ or ‘How do you think we practice Jihad-bin-Nafs in our daily lives?’ are more interesting and stimulate students to think. Such questions also ensure that the students do not rote-learn every chapter of the book. And from a student’s perspective, learning actually becomes a more fulfilling activity.

Encouraging class discussions and prompting students to ask ‘why’

One-way lectures on Islamiat just add to the drowsiness factor. If teachers would encourage students to ask questions, the class would become more exciting. An interesting discussion developed in one of my Islamiat classes – why do we believe the Ahadeeth to be authentic, when they were formally compiled after the death of the Prophet (sa)?

Engaging students in interesting activities

Research-based tasks, in which students have to consult sources other than the textbooks, are also a good option. The teacher can design activities that would require students to go online for looking up information, which would complement that of the textbook. Making small, attractive flash cards for different supplications, designing a Zakat calculator, and exploring online means of Dawah are some of the activities, which the teacher can assign students to make the subject livelier.

The above are some of my humble suggestions to Islamiat teachers. There is a widespread belief that ‘Islamiat is for exam’s sake only’, and it is up to the teachers to work towards eliminating it.

Musharakah: Sharing Profits and Losses

Vol 1-Issue 2   Islamic FinanceWhat is Musharakah?

Musharakah means ‘sharing.’ The root of the word is Shirkah, which means ‘being a partner.’ Under Islamic law, Musharakah is a joint enterprise, formed for conducting business, in which all partners share the profit according to a specified ratio, while the loss is shared according to the ratio of the contribution.

Differences Between Interest-Based Financing and Musharakah

1. In interest-based financing, the financer predetermines a fixed rate of return on a loan, irrespective of the profit earned or loss suffered by the debtor. In Musharakah, the return is based on the actual profit earned by the joint venture.

2. If a Musharakah joint venture fails, the financier also suffers a loss. In a system based on interest, the financier secures himself against such an eventuality by fixing a rate of interest.

Basic Rules

Musharakah or Shirkat-ul-amwal is a relationship established by the parties through a mutual contract. Therefore, all the necessary ingredients of a valid contract must be present. For example, the parties should be capable of entering into a contract; the contract must take place with the free consent of the parties, without any duress, fraud, or misrepresentation. However, there are certain rules specifically related to a Musharakah contract.

Rules of Capital

The capital in a Musharakah agreement should be:

  • quantified (Ma’loom),
  • qsecified (Muta’aiyan),
  • not necessarily merged,
  • not necessarily in liquid form.

Management

Every partner has the right to manage the business as well as to work for it. However, the partners may agree upon a condition that the management would be carried out by one of them, and no other partner would work for the Musharakah. In such case, the ‘sleeping partner’ would be entitled to the profit only to the extent of his investment – the ratio of his profit would not exceed the ratio of his investment. However, if all partners agree to work for the joint venture, each one of them would be treated as the agent of the other in all matters of business.

Rules Regarding the Distribution of Profit and Loss

1. Profit:

  • The profit ratio of each partner must be determined proportionally to the actual profit of the business and not in proportion to the capital invested by him.
  • It is prohibited to set a fixed amount for any partner or attach any specific rate of profit to his investment.
  • It is allowed for both partners to agree on profit percentage according to their investment, no matter if both of them work or not.
  • If an investor is working, his profit share can be more than his capital investment, no matter if the other partner is working or not.

2. Loss:

  • Loss is distributed exactly according to the ratio of investment.

Termination of Musharakah

A Musharakah will stand terminated in the following cases:

1.  If the purpose of forming the business has been achieved. For example, if two persons had formed a partnership for a certain project, e.g., buying a specific quantity of cars in order to sell them, and the cars are purchased and sold with mutual investment, then the contract stands terminated.

2.  Every partner has the right to terminate the Musharakah at any time, after giving his partner a notice that will cause the Musharakah to end.

3.  In case of a death of any one of the partners or any partner becoming insane or incapable of carrying out commercial transactions, the Musharakah stands terminated.

Termination of Musharakah Without Closing the Business

If one of the partners wants termination of the Musharakah, while the other partner would like to continue with the business, a mutual agreement should take place. The partner interested in the business may purchase the share of the partner wishing to terminate his partnership.

(Courtesy: Meezan Bank’s Guide to Islamic Finance)

Throwing an Eid Party

eid party

Eid is the time for celebration and delight, showing our gratitude to Allah, meeting relatives and friends, and sharing with the needy. As parents, we would like our children to have a meaningful time on this most joyous of occasions. So, why not make your kids’ Eid memorable and filled with fun by throwing a party for them and their friends? Here are a few ideas for creating an enthralling Eid party.

Eid Related Party Decorations

  • Put up posters of Eid greetings in 3-4 different languages, such as Arabic, Urdu, English, etc. This will be a good conversation starter.
  • If budget allows, create an Arabian Peninsula look with a tent in the corner, date trees, etc.
  • Put up colourful lights in the party area.
  • Hang little paper-made crescents with buntings and tinsels.

Theme-Based Eid Parties

Older kids (7-12 years old) can have an Eid party around a special theme:

  • Islamic attire theme. Children could come wearing clothes from different Islamic countries. You can also ask them to come in special Islamic head coverings, such as Topis, turbans or Arab headgear for boys and pretty scarves for girls.
  • Muslim country theme. Ask the kids to bring along something related to any Muslim country of their choice (a flag, a book, crafts, photographs, etc.) They can paste the country’s name on the objects and display them during the party.
  • Theme of foods mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. Serve honey, pomegranates, dates, olives, olive oil, etc. Posters, wax replicas, and paper cutouts of the fruits and vegetables can be used as decorations.
  • Sharing the joy of Eid theme. Mothers and older children can have an Eid party at the local hospital or orphanage. They can take some eatables and gifts for the needy kids.

Gaming Zone

What’s a kids’ party without games? You can mould some of the games to give them an Islamic colour.

Games for younger and older kids:

  • Quiz between 2 teams on Islamic knowledge. Ask simple, age-appropriate questions about Muslim countries, Islamic practices, simple Duas, etc.
  • Story time. Read a story on any of the prophets or companions.
  • Passing the pillow. Short questions about the likes and dislikes of the Prophet Muhammad (sa), about his family and more.
  • Lemon in a spoon race.
  • Treasure hunt.
  • Memory game. Place objects in a tray and show to each child for 10 seconds. Later, ask them to write down the items they can remember.
  • Drawing competition. Topics can be: what you did on Eid, what you ate on Eid, making an Eid card for your parents, grandparents, or best friend.

Games for mothers and kids together:

  • Draw four pictures of Islamic objects on large sheets of paper, for example, a Masjid, a prayer mat, a Hijab, Kabah. Get four parents to hold up a picture in each corner of the room (if the place is small, in different rooms – make sure hallways are clear). Stand in the centre and call out one of the names – children then should run as fast as they can to that corner. You can also use Arabic names or draw sites of Islamic importance, such as the sacred mosques. Keep the game short and fast.
  • Charades. Each mom will have to act out a word to make her team guess what the word is. For instance, the word ‘Wudhu’ can be demonstrated by doing the actions of the ablution.
  • Gifts for the poor. A table can be laid out with some fruits, small packs of biscuits or chips, toys etc. With mom’s help, each child can pack a small goody bag and take it home for giving to the servants, who work in their house. This will apprise the child with a sense of sharing and caring for the deprived ones.

Ideas for Goody Bags or Give-Aways

Kids always love taking home a reminder of the party. According to your pocket, you can prepare the goody bags matching the Eid mood of the party.

Big budget

  • CD of “Sound Vision”
  • Audiotape of “Sound Vision”
  • Some religious activity book e.g. flowers of Islam series
  • Stationary set
  • Toys
  • Chocolates
  • Biscuits

Economical budget

  • Stickers (I love Allah, etc.)
  • A set of 3 religious activity sheets
  • Some other religious souvenir (key chain)
  • Stationary items
  • Balloons
  • Chocolates
  • Biscuits

Want More Ideas?

  • Play children’s Islamic songs in the background.
  • At the prayer time, offer Salah in congregation. (Moms and children together.)
  • Children can have a camel ride, if it can be arranged.

Story Time with a Difference

Beforehand, prepare a simple story with 4 main characters or objects – for example, a boy’s name, a prayer hat, a Masjid, the Quran. Build a story around them. Draw or write each character / object on a card. The more children you have for this game, the better, so that there are 3 or 5 ‘Masjids’, 3 or 4 ‘prayer hats,’ etc. Get the children to sit on chairs in a circle with spaces between the chairs. Begin to tell the story. As the children hear their card name mentioned, they have to get up, run around the circle, and sit back down again.

(Courtesy: http://www.islamichomeeducation.co.uk/)

Yummy Foods

Here are ideas to satisfy those growling tummies:

Finger food for 3-6 years olds

  • Mini pizzas
  • French fries
  • Nuggets
  • Sandwiches
  • Boiled sweet potatoes
  • Seasonal fruits

Kids food for 7-9 and 10-12 years olds

  • Kebabs
  • Burgers or bun kebabs
  • Rolls
  • Cholay
  • Samosas

Face Value

face valueHave you ever wondered why Allah has created faces so different? Why do people have to be good or ugly looking by worldly standards? The answer is simple. For Allah, each one of us is beautiful. He says: “Allah, it is He who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shade and made your shapes good (looking)…” (Ghafir 40:64). However, He does have special favourites – those with a beautiful heart, for they are the ones who have equally beautiful deeds.

Humans, on the other hand, are far less forgiving. They have a tendency to seek the exterior beauty. To them, a person means a great mane of hair, a slender figure, big beautiful eyes, or a fair-coloured skin.

Show business is generally considered to be the root of this bizarre concept of beauty, which recognizes only swans in the pond. How come most of their stories revolve around extremely good-looking men and women only? Similarly, novelists are far ahead in the race of depicting an ideal, which is handsome or pretty at any cost.

Marketing gimmicks of today deserve the final applause – they lead people into a blind belief about inadequacy, unless they buy a specific product. They keep on stressing, how wrong we look and how ugly the world would be, if we would follow our own advices only.

Observe your conversations with your friends for a while. You will be spooked to discover, how very often they center on someone’s face or appearance. At school – may be a teacher, on TV – definitely some movie star, at a party – anyone in sight. We spend much time calling names, making fun of others, picking on people, or simply driving them away because of the way they dress or look.

The pressure to look our best and win people over is most obvious in the way we nowadays contract marriages. Dolling up girls and letting them loose in the middle of a party, so that every young man can stare at them to his heart’s content.

Ask yourself – is this the most dignified way of getting married? Besides, can a marriage based on something as superficial as good looks be really successful? This reminds me of a joke I once read. An idealist is the one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than cabbage, concludes that it will also make a better soup!

Trust me, if Allah has ordained marriage for you, your spouse-to-be will manage to find you even in a cave of Africa! If you are not destined to marry by Allah’s wisdom, no makeover can ever match you up.

Do not get me wrong! In every human being, Allah has placed a sense of appreciation, which instinctively appeals to beauty. However, getting carried away into extremes is absurd! Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Love people for the goodness in their hearts. Only Allah deserves the credit for a beautiful face that He has made. Besides, lasting and cherished relationships are based on deeper matters than one’s appearance, which would pass away in just ten or fifteen years from now, when we would start to wrinkle and gray.

Learn to look beyond a face. Search in a person for intelligence, compassion, humbleness, and truthfulness. You will be surprised to discover that this world is filled with wonderful people!

Nusaybah bint Kab (rta)

Naba Basar presents highlights from the heroic life of Nusaybah bint Kab (rta)

Not many women in the history of Islam can surpass the exemplary life of Nusaybah bint Kab (rta). She was one of two women, who traveled with seventy-three men to Makkah for pledging allegiance to the Prophet (sa). In complete obedience to the Prophet (sa), they pledged themselves also to Jihad. This historical meeting is known as the second pledge of al-Aqabah.

Nusaybah, known as Umm Imarah, was a pious and noble woman. She was also a daring and courageous fighter in the cause of Allah, and proved more than once to be truthful to her pledge.

Hearing that the army of Makkan pagans was moving towards Uhud, in order to take revenge for their heavy losses in the battle of Badr, the Prophet (sa) mobilized Muslim men of Madinah. Nusaybah (rta), with her husband and two sons, Abdullah and Habib, joined the fighters. She helped the wounded. As the battle raged and Muslims were close to being defeated, some Mujahideen began to flee, leaving the Prophet (sa) without protection. Seeing this, Nusaybah (rta) cut through the ranks of the enemy and fought fiercely.

During the battle, when the Prophet (sa) saw her without a shield and saw a man who was leaving the battlefield, carrying his shield. He (sa) asked him to surrender his shield to the one who was fighting. Nusaybah (rta) used that shield to protect the Messenger of Allah (sa).

Later, when one of her sons was wounded, during the battle of Uhud, and the blood would not stop. The Prophet (sa) asked him to bandage his wound. Nusaybah (rta) overheard this, while she was fighting. She came towards his son, carrying bandages. She then told him: ‘Get up, my son, and fight.’

A little while later, the man, who hit his son was coming their way, so the Prophet (sa) said: ‘Here is the man, who hit your son, O Umm Imarah.’ She went up to him, hit him in the leg, and left him kneeling on the ground. Prophet (sa) smiled so broadly that his molar teeth were showing and said: ‘You avenged yourself, Umm Imarah.’ The Prophet (sa) also said to her: ‘Praise is due to Allah, Who gave you victory over your enemy and satisfied you by showing you his death.'”

A few months later, when the call for another battle, Hamra-ul-Asad, was announced, Umm Imarah (rta) could not continue, because her earlier wound had got worse – she was bleeding profusely.

The battle of Uhud was not the only occasion, when Umm Imarah (rta) showed her bravery. She was among those, who gave the pledge to fight until martyrdom. She witnessed also the battle of Hunayn. When the Prophet (sa) passed away, Umm Imarah (rta) asked permission from Caliph Abu Bakr (rta) to join the army together with her two sons. He said: “We knew your bravery during the war – come on, in the name of Allah.”

She held her ground in the battlefield. Her son, Habib, fell prisoner to the enemy and was cut to pieces, organ by organ, until he died. Nusaybah (rta) returned from the war with twelve wounds, having lost her arm and her son.

Umm Imarah (rta) was a brave and true to her words woman, who holds a special place in the history of Islam.

Fun While Fasting

  • fun while fastingBrush up your art skills and create awesome Eid cards for friends and family
  • Brighten up Maghrib time by lighting colourful bulbs in or outside your house
  • Be adventurous and prepare something delicious for Iftar with your mom’s help of course!
  • Challenge yourself and learn short Duas or Surahs at home. You can even compete with your friends
  • Be generous and make colourful goody bags for poor kids of the neighbourhood
  • Chart down the good you did and bad you stayed away from. You never know mom and dad may just surprise you with a treat or reward
  • Wrap little presents for your family to surprise them with at Eid
  • Help mom at home by making less mess and cleaning up more. She will be thrilled to bits!
  • Be kind to your brothers and sisters. It is tough, but you will love it when Allah loves you for it!
  • Above all pray to Allah for everything you want! Remember the doors to Paradise are open and Allah’s mercy is down pouring!