Welcome Eid and say “Go” to your Ego!

Mend a broken heartAnd those who break the Covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allah’s Mercy); And for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e. Hell) .” (Ar-Rad 13:25)

The institution of family and kinship is one of the most valued aspects for mankind- proving its positivity through moral as well as the religious perspectives. No one can deny the noble relationship which is shared by two people of the same family as they possess similar blood running through their veins, and there are many other characteristics which link them to each and other. This is the reason why the Holy religion Islam has also directed a great deal of attention towards the aspect of creating harmonious social life for the Muslims. The Last Messenger (sa) directed people to maintain brotherhood amongst themselves.

“You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another.” (Muslim)

Muslims are ought to put up a shared stand against any group which tends to threaten their solidarity, or any other aspect of the Islamic state. It is morally regarded that unlike the other relationships where the barter trade of help is conducted, the family members assist each other spontaneously and with minimal expectations- as the bondage they share is beyond the other ordinary relationships.

The slaughtering of animals is only the face-value, but it possesses greater significance.

Now, as we enter into the mode of sacrificial worship on this Eid, it must be kept in mind that the sacrifice on this Eid has greater spiritual implication. The slaughtering of animals is only the face-value, but it possesses greater significance. To witness the vitality of sacrifice, one needs to have an insight and follow the findings. Mending the broken ties of relationship is one of the facets of the spirituality on this occasion.

Amidst the hostility, injustice and criticism, there are many underlying reasons beyond the broken ties. There may be some past experiences of hurting caused by one party to another; favours being given to one sibling when wills are formed; or a small rift among the children culminating in enormous issues. All these moments may have been ominous, but it does not mean that the relationships must be broken. For instance, brothers often do not talk to each other for a lifetime, keeping their families apart due to some past fight; they are only messing up their own lives. People often negate to take one last glance of the dead relative’s face because they did not talk for a long time, and do not desire to bid farewell. The two sides have an exaggerated style of battling, and this fails them to give an ear to what the other has to say.

But this Eid, let all the broken relationships get reconstructed. As Henri Frederic Amiel puts it,

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

A few acts that could be done to rectify the severed ties are:

Sending Gifts
Presents are considered as one of the most vital instruments in strengthening love and bondage between the relationships. It is, therefore, a tool that could be used to make the people on the other side happy. It may make them feel special and awaken the concern for each other. Send them gifts for their children, or send them home-cooked food with fine décor. Little effort with pure motives works miracles.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: On this Eid people also exchange gifts, i.e., they make food and invite one another to come and eat, and they get together and celebrate. There is nothing wrong with this custom because these are days of Eid.

Empathize
Instead of being judgmental or criticizing the actions they make, work on having conversation with your agonized relative. Emotional engagement and compassion can catalyze healing comfort and improve connectivity.

Express Concerns and demonstrate willingness to change
Show them that you desire to improve. Take steps towards reinvigoration. Once, they notice that you take their concerns seriously- they will feel valued and respected. They will be motivated to aggravate their own endeavours as well.

Making Frequent Calls
Re-connectivity is also boosted by the occasional calls. Pledge to call them often and ask about their children, health, profession etc. The common affairs would then help to bridge the gap Insha’Allah.

Invitations
As this is a festive occasion where people often arrange extensive parties for their relatives; you can also make such arrangements. Make special calls to the people who are upon no-talking terms and insist them to attend. If they don’t, let not your morals be down- call them to say how they were missed by all the recipients.

Boost your morale- even if you are repeatedly rejected by the other side- as it is for Allah (swt) you are carrying out these deeds

Conclusively , the acts of bridging ties must not be only limited for the occasion of Eid, but let them become constant. Boost your morale- even if you are repeatedly rejected by the other side- as it is for Allah (swt) you are carrying out these deeds. For once or twice, lower down your self-respect and not be egotistical. Consistency in this regard would eventually uplift the concern on the opposite side- making them feel guilty for their unresponsive attitude, and speculate at how they could restore the relationship through their own effort. It would also raise charges from you when Allah (swt) questions us all on the Day of Judgement.

“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.” (Al-Imran 3:103)

Handling my Teen’s Relationship with Allah (swt)

9 teens relationship with AllahI was sipping my cup of morning coffee when a glance at my watch told me it was already half past nine. I looked around but there was no sign of my ex-student Seema. She had called me last night, and had made a hurried request to meet her in a day or two. She had sounded very tense, and out of great concern for her, I had agreed to meet her the very next day. Our meeting was fixed for nine, and here it was a half hour past it and she was still not here. That was highly unusual since I had always known her to be a very punctual person.

A few more minutes passed. I looked around, and saw a young boy of about sixteen or seventeen years of age, sitting with a girl a few years younger than him. Not wanting to jump to any conclusions, I simply observed them talk and eat their breakfast, until the boy took out a rose from his pocket and presented it to the girl. I shook my head in disappointment and prayed for them to be shown the right path towards Jannah.

It was likely to occur to a person observing them that their parents had not taught them their religion or the teenagers belonged to a family with liberal beliefs, who did not consider pre-marital relationships to be unacceptable. But for me this perception was no more valid because I myself had faced this situation a few years ago when my own daughter had entered her teen years. It was one of the most devastating periods of my life because my husband and I were firm believers, and had always been conscious about not committing any sin. Yet our daughter was caught having a relationship with her class fellow; this was totally unacceptable and shameful for us.

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“Libas” – Yours and Mine

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“How do you like the newest addition to my wardrobe?” Hina twirled on the ebony floor. “It is grand!” I chuckled at her girlish antics as she continued to swirl her lovely lilac chiffon flares, the fabric catching a twinkle of gold here and there.

“A gift from hubby dear?” I asked my childhood friend.

Her pretty smile instantly transformed into a sour frown. “Yeah right! Do you really think he has the mind or the taste for this kind of stuff? Only I know what I have been through the past ten years of marriage.”

There she goes again, I thought regretfully. Hina’s tendency to magnify petty issues into significant ones almost always ensured that the slightest mention of her spouse enraged her.

“Just check out the fine trimmings in gold. Isn’t it a delicacy?” Hina went back to admiring her dress.

I could only nod with the faintest smile thinking what good it was if she was feeling so bitter inside and did not want to wear it for the most important man in her life: her better half.

“You don’t agree with me, do you?” she caught me off guard. It was as though she had followed my train of thought.

“No… it’s lovely!” I tried to persuade her with a generous smile.

“I didn’t mean the stupid dress. I am talking about my marriage!” Hina said curtly.

I sighed and stayed silent for a while. We had been through this conversation countless times, and I was wondering if it would do her any good to hear it once more.

“You know, Hina, the other day I read something that completely swept me off my feet.”

“Really, what?” she eyed me suspiciously.

“Allah (swt) says to married men in the Quran: ‘It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of As-Saum (the fasts). They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with them) for you and you are the same for them…’ (Al-Baqarah 2:187)”

“It is meant for kind-hearted, loving and God-fearing men, not Adil,” Hina spoke quietly, gazing downward.

“Do you know what that means?” I continued, ignoring her comment “The wife is a resort for her husband, and the husband is a resort for her. Don’t we head to resorts on holidays for enjoyment? This is the kind of relationship that Allah (swt) has ordained for a married couple – to be a source of happiness and contentment for each other. And, naturally, that can only happen when we suppress our desires to lash out in anger at each other, let go of the past mistakes, prevent ourselves from being thankless for the present, and not show mistrust for the future.” I tried to reason with her.

“But what if it is mostly his mistakes… for how long can I preservere?” Hina challenged with tears welling up.

“Love him more than you love this outfit!” I whispered. “He is your Libas. This will one day go out of style and will be either stowed away or donated to the destitute. But your relationship is to stay. What does your Libas do for you? It makes you appear beautiful, it hides your flaws, it protects you from harmful weather, and it states who you are. It is the first thing anyone sets eyes on.”

Hina stared silently then began to sob softly.

“Hina, dear…” I held her soft hand in mine.

“If you lift your garment in public, it is you who will be undressed, not others. May Allah (swt) bless you with wise company, but most people around us relish juicy gossip. Don’t undress yourself before them. Also, if you wash your dirty laundry in public, do you really think your problems will go away? If your husband comes to know of this, will it create an atmosphere of pleasantness or bitterness between the two of you? No matter what misgivings there are between you, they must be solved by both of you. Cherish your relationship with him like a prized gown that embellishes you.”

“It is so hard,” Hina wept like a child.

“I know! It is especially hard when your Libas has been torn, tattered and left at the mercy of cruel gales for so long. Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and pray earnestly to Him for help every day. Take the initiative and stay steadfast. Don’t let anything or anyone come between you and your Libas. Allah (swt) willing, you will love him and adorn him like never before, and he will do the same for you, eventually.” I reassured her, silently praying to Allah (swt) to grant her wisdom, patience, courage, and above all, tranquility.

I do not know what happened the next year or so, as I lost touch with Hina. One morning, as I was sipping my coffee, I received an email saying: “To my beloved seamstress who taught me how to carry myself in style. By the way, I also want to quote something to her that I later found in the Quran, following my counselling cum fashion designing session with her a year ago: ‘It is He who has created you from a single person (Adam) and (then) He has created from him his wife (Hawwa), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her…’ (Al-Araf 7:189) May Allah (swt) love you as much as I do. It was you who helped me appreciate my Libas.”

Five Moments to say ‘I Love You’ to Your Wife

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  1. When she feels wronged or has committed wrong.

Due to our human nature, most of us tend to move into a reactive mode in two phases of our life: a) when someone has been unjust to us and we are looking for allies and evidences to prove our innocence, and b) when we have perpetuated injustice upon others and try to evade responsibility, either out of ignorance or guilt. In both cases, a spouse’s relationship is tested. It is not recommended to encourage incorrect behaviour but it is best to first reassure your wife that you love her, in spite of her being the victim or the victimizer. Once your emotional account is loaded and she appreciates your sincerity, she will normalize faster and overcome the emotional disturbance within her.

  1. When she falls ill.

Today, nobody welcomes sickness, unlike the Sahabah and our predecessors who got worried when Allah (swt) did not send them ailments. They would think that perhaps He (swt) wanted to grant everything to them in this world and, hence, hold back any chances for repentance. Yes, one should never pray for illness, but when it arrives, it is advised to exercise patience. Help your wife to do that by spending some extra time with her. If that is not possible, ask her what will comfort her. Perhaps employing some reliable help for the house for cleaning or cooking, or maybe letting her spend time with her own family would help. Inform her that her recovery means a lot to you. A bouquet of flowers or something she loves will always cheer her up, too.

  1. When PMS arrives.

This is a state that men most misunderstand because they are not educated about it.  Biologically, a woman becomes very vulnerable during her menstruation period. Due to her hormones, she may become moody, depressed, unnecessarily angry, and at times weepy, too. And you may or may not even be the reason for a battle she decides to pick. It is best to exercise patience with her and not demand things she would not be able to deliver in such a volatile state of mind. The Prophet (sa) is known to rest his head in Aisha’s (rtam) lap while she was menstruating. He handled her very gently and fondly. In the absence of intimate relations between spouses, some women also feel unwanted and under-valued. Hence, a reassurance of your love for her will bring back her sense of belonging.

  1. When your baby is on the way.

Most women are pampered when the first baby is on the way. However, they do experience a mixture of emotions ranging from elation to fear of labour and the upcoming responsibilities. They still need your support every now and then, especially if you live in a joint family setup and do not get sufficient time together. If the pregnancy is a difficult one, where the woman experiences severe nausea and vomiting, and is prescribed bed rest, it is even more challenging for the mother-to-be. For women who are expecting a child and who already have kids to worry about and care for, you can provide trusted help for the house, occasional retreats to her family’s care, if that comforts her, and your tender understanding.

  1. After your baby has arrived.

Amidst the joy of a new baby and postpartum pain of delivery, a new mother is literally besieged with emotions and responsibilities. She has sleepless nights, emotional and physical distress of establishing breast feeding, postpartum bleeding causing weakness, biological developments in the body, influx of guests and family wanting to greet the newly-arrived baby, and in case where she has older children, the guilt of not being able to take care of them. On top of that, she is not able to offer Salah, which makes her spiritually vulnerable. Also, after the arrival of the new baby, the husband and wife sometimes don’t get sufficient time together to talk and share. Hence, make the additional effort to fulfill her needs and spend time with her, facilitating her in her efforts to re-build emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Quranic recitations can be played for the mom and baby to protect them from Satan’s attack.

In times of happiness, one is emotionally self-sufficient and might not need to hear terms of endearment so often.  “I love you” should therefore be said and felt more often in times of distress and misery.

 

O Ameer! Lead Your Family!

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“Men are the protectors and maintainers (Qawwam) of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.)…” (An Nisa 4:34)

 

Allah (swt) says that men are the Qawwam of women. The word Qawwam is derived from the Arabic verb Qama/Uqeemu, which means ‘to stand’. Qawwam is an exaggerated/excessive form, which indicates constant standing. Just as a bodyguard continuously stands guarding a VIP, the man of the family is supposed to watch over and protect the women of the household. The verse above explains that he is given this function because he is required to spend his wealth on them for their maintenance. When one spends on someone continuously, it is natural that he will protect them from all dangers. He will empathize with them and will be inclined to manage their affairs with their best interest in mind.

The applied meaning of Qawwam thus encompasses a range of responsibilities of the man, which include financially providing for his family, protecting them, empathizing with them, understanding them, managing their affairs, making decisions that affect them after proper consultation with them, providing the space and opportunities for the constant learning and growth as well as catering to their every physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, educational, and financial need. In short, his role is that of an enabler of success of all members of the household. In order for him to carry out all these responsibilities successfully, he has been granted the leadership role of an Ameer of the family.

Abdullah bin Umar (rtam) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them; and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

It is apparent from the above Hadeeth that every group of people should have a leader for its proper function. It is not possible for a group to have two leaders or else chaos will ensue. Thus, for a family unit, Allah (swt) in His infinite wisdom has chosen the men to lead. It does not matter how weak the man is or whether he earns less than his wife; he is supposed to be ultimately responsible for all family members.

This does not mean that the man of the house is a dictator, who does not consider in his decisions the Shoora (consultation) of all his family members. It does not mean that he is to be feared by those under him, or that he can enforce decadent cultural restrictions, which have little to do with Islam. Rather, the husband should study the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah deeply for improving his leadership skills. For supporting the husband, the wife is required to be obedient to the husband, as stated in the above verse. However, it is worth noting here that the wife’s obedience is first to Allah (swt), then to the Prophet (sa), and only then to the husband. Thus, if the husband makes demands against the commands of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa), she should decline to be obedient.

Part of the responsibility of the Ameer is to engender leadership skills in those under him. The primary manner to do so is to be good role models themselves. Children may be trained to accept more responsibilities at a young age, for example, they can be asked to take care of their pets, be the captain of their school cricket team, be the imam at home leading their siblings and cousins in Salah, or babysit their siblings while the parents are away. Leadership skills can formally be learned in a Boy Scouts / Girl Guides troop. The key element in making the next generation future Ameers of their families and societies is to make them feel empathic towards others. This can be done by engaging them in charitable services for those less fortunate than them. Lastly, by providing them with comprehensive Islamic knowledge, parents would help them understand their roles as young adults. The guidance from the examples of the Prophet (sa) and his companions are invaluable in this respect.

Men are made responsible for a gamut of their family’s needs and, hence, are given leadership roles by Islam. Like everyone under a leader, the wife is required to help the leader by being obedient to him, provided nothing is being demanded against Islamic principles. The man of the family should consult with his family members and do everything that is in their best interest. He should use his position responsibly to help all the family members develop themselves. He should not misuse the privilege of leadership he is given. He is responsible to pass on good leadership skills to their offspring, so that they become exemplary future Ameers.

 

Connecting with Children – Handy Tips for Dads

In today’s globalized society, we often see that upon entering teenaged years, kids become strangers to their parents, especially the father. This was not the case in the past, as demonstrated by the relationship between Prophet Yusuf (as) and his father. We see that even as a youth he confided his secrets to him and came to him for advice. Why are our teenagers ignoring their fathers today? Perhaps it is due to some deficiencies in the ways fathers connected with their kids in their early years.

Listen to Them

Perhaps the most important factor is for a father to listen to his children. He must try to understand their psychology and unique personality. He should endeavor to understand what motivates and discourages his child. By doing so, the child will develop a trust for his father. He will see him as someone he can turn to for comfort, advice, guidance, support and empathy.

Play with Them

As many of us grow old, we lose the zest for life that is a vital characteristic in children. Fathers should attempt to regenerate that enthusiasm, while interacting with their children. While visiting a public park in New Jersey, I read a sign, which said: “Families that play together stay together!” Play can be traditional games like Oonch Neech, Baraf Pani, Aanch Macholi, four corners, tag or regular sports, or such board games as chess, scrabble, snakes and ladders, etc. By playing with children, fathers are strengthening their relationships with them.

Teach Them

Part of considering a father as a source of knowledge and wisdom comes when the father regularly engages in teaching children. He should not only help them with homework, but read to them beneficial books, and take them to museums, science centres, libraries, book fairs, planetariums, zoos and botanical gardens. When the child asks him for something he does not know, he should admit his ignorance and research the topic with his child using references and the internet. Among the subjects he teaches, he should not neglect religious subjects, as most answers to difficult questions that a teenager goes through are found in our beautiful Deen.

Take Them Out

Fathers should take children outdoors to beaches or parks on a weekly basis. This not only refreshes the children, who are cooped up at home throughout the week, but also makes them realize the handiwork of our Creator all around us. By sharing their amazement of marvelling at flowers, birds, trees, sea, sand, shells, stones, fish, animals and changing seasons, a father implicitly emphasizes his natural relationship with his children.

Worship with Them

Lastly, a father should establish worship with his family.  He should regularly take his children to Masjid for prayers, and make them participate in the Friday prayers, Takbeerat of the Eids, the Taraweeh prayers, Qiyam al-Lail, Salat ut-Tasbeeh, lectures and Halaqas. He should sometimes pray at home as the Imam of his family. By doing so, a father sends the message to his family that although he is in charge, he is also ultimately answerable to Allah (swt).

We do not know what destiny Allah (swt) has written for each child, but by taking the above steps, fathers will be assuring themselves that they have attempted to fulfill their responsibilities in the child’s early years. The only recourse left after that to fathers is to make supplications for their children, as the supplication of a father for his child is accepted.

10 Guiding Principles in Establishing Cordial Relations with In-laws

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The word ‘in-laws’, by convention, has a negative connotation, in our part of the world in particular, where society has not broken the shackles of oppressive cultural practices. Our knee-jerk response to a discussion on in-laws, therefore, tends to be restricted to what’s ‘wrong’ with them. In such an atmosphere, it becomes difficult to see beyond the stereotypes and consider our own individual situations in a fair light.

A lot of people seem to know that in Islam there is no obligation on the daughter-in-law to care for her husband’s family. But in considering this, they forget that there are other rights that they still need to fulfil by virtue of the in-laws being, at the very least, their brothers and sisters in Islam.

Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said, “None of you will believe until you love for another what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Would we love for ourselves that people talk negatively about us behind our backs? Would we love that people harbour feelings of hatred towards us? Would we love for our own parents to be constantly criticized and/or shunned by their daughters- or sons-in-law?

Here are some things to focus on, in our relationship with our in-laws:

  1. Start off with good expectations of them. Not everything other people tell us about their in-laws has to be true about ours.
  2. People are not all good or all bad. Everyone has positive and negative qualities. We do, too. In fact, there is some good even in the worst of us. Look for that good. Focus on it instead of on what is not to your liking.
  3. Everyone needs, and thrives on, respect. Respect for the other person cannot be developed if we notice only their negative qualities and keep mentioning them in front of other people. (You think your mother-in-law does that to you? Before you pass a judgement on her, examine your own attitude and ask yourself: are you perhaps doing that to her, too?)
  4. Don’t talk about her behind her back unless it is to mention her good qualities. Backbiting destroys relationships especially because it perpetuates a negative image of a person in everyone’s minds and makes us ignore our own shortcomings.
  5. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t really know the other person well. Limited conversations and interactions related to household chores are not the best breeding ground for establishing meaningful relationships. Really knowing the other person means we know what makes them happy, what makes them special as a person, what they want out of life, what struggles they have faced, and what they have accomplished so far. Taking interest in another person and considering him or her a human being worthy of knowing can make a world of difference in how our relationships can develop.
  6. Be fair. Noticing only what you don’t like about your mother-in-law? Stop. Remind yourself of all the things she does that perhaps help you out. Does she watch the kids, supervise the maid, and do the cooking every now and then? Sometimes we are looking so hard at all the things that annoy us that we forget to notice what is good in the other person. If we notice only the negatives then we are not really being fair.
  7. Feel responsible to bring out the best in other people. Our feelings towards them will translate into our attitude towards them. If we check our feelings constantly, we can correct our attitude, too.
  8. Keep your eyes on your Akhirah. Sometimes we are so busy keeping our sight on how others should be that we forget to evaluate our own selves. Are we on the correct path, towards Jannah? Or are we letting ourselves drift off?
  9. You don’t own anybody. Not yourself. Not your husband. Not your children. They are all an Amanah (trust) from Allah. We have to do our best with that Amanah. Your in-laws have a right over your husband and children, too. Make sure you are not taking away that right.
  10. Make excuses for your in-laws because nobody is perfect. Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, once said: “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” (Narrated by Imam Al-Bayhaqi in his Shuab al-Iman)

The principle being stated here is that no one is free of error, and everyone makes mistakes. If we would like our mistakes to be overlooked then we should want the same for others.

May Allah guide us to be of excellent character in all of our relationships. Ameen.

Image courtesy: Flickr

Cultivating Friendship with your Spouse

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Any princess, who was swept up to the altar in the arms of her prince charming, can tell you that, a few months later, she’d gladly trade in the glittery clothes and tinkling laughter for a comfortable pair of pants and a good chuckle over a cup of coffee with her prince. Marriage is for the long haul, and like any journey, it is more fun when your travelling companion is a good friend.

Friendship in marriage must be developed and nurtured. Unfortunately, once the ethereal feeling of the honeymoon period ends, most couples take living together for granted. The following are top five “tried and tested” reminders of how to cultivate your relationship with your best friend – your spouse.

Companions on the Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem

We have been instructed: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” (At-Tahrim 66:6) Regrettably, many couples interpret this as fault finding and preaching to one another. A true friend desires to aid his companion grow as a person; husbands may arrange to oversee the children so that their wives could study the Quran or attend a class; similarly, a wife may ungrudgingly arrange the family schedule so that her spouse can spend time with beneficial brothers.

Buy mustard and Achar

Expect to have differences in opinion, tastes and even sleeping habits. Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim) Accept each other’s diversity and respect it. To put it simply: if he prefers mustard above your Achar, just serve both with dinner. To each their own.

Your spouse is not your extension

Best friends need not do everything together or account for every moment spent without each other; allow your spouse to chill with her friends or dedicate time to a project she values. Does his office work or other family obligations limit time spent with you? Focus upon the time you have together instead of the time you feel you are being cheated out of. Value the quality time that you spend with each other; don’t fret upon its quantity.

Surprise!

Giving a gift is just as much fun as receiving one, for Prophet Muhammad (sa) asserted: “Give gifts to one another, and you will love one another.” (Bukhari) So why wait for a ‘special’ occasion? Whether it is something wrapped up, a dinner for two, setting off with him to his favourite electronic store to get that gizmo he’s been raving about or taking the toddler outdoors so his exhausted mommy can get some sleep, a gift can be anything that is valued by your friend. Remember – rewards must be earned, but giving a gift is rewarding.

Love is saying you are sorry and meaning it

The term ‘sorry’ is much abused by couples: some don’t feel the need to say it, while others say it as a muscular reflex. The term ought to be valued and used to mean: “I apologize for my actions, which hurt you, and will try my utmost not to repeat them.” Use the term with sincerity and it will strengthen your relationship immensely, Insha’Allah.

Are you a happily-married couple? What tried-and-tested reminders would you like to share about cultivating friendship with spouse? Email us your suggestions at editor@hibamagazine.com.

Is my Spouse my Best Friend Forever (BFF)?

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Life after marriage can be either a constant tug of war or your spouse can become your best friend forever. Achieving the latter is the key to a healthy, happy and hearty family. Here’s how you can unlock the door to eternal bliss.

Khawar is fifteen years older than his wife Fouzia. He is diabetic, hypertensive, has had a kidney transplant and now cannot work or earn a living to support his family – the entire responsibility is on Fouzia’s shoulders.  Then why does she stay with him and take care of him with a smiling face and a happy heart?

My dad is seventy and has had a bypass surgery. When my mom went on a short trip to another city, my dad called her thrice every day. Heeding to our advice, he did not call her one day, so that she may enjoy unhindered; however, she could not bear not to hear his voice and called him to ask if he was fine, and if not, should she take an earlier flight? Was it simply her responsibility that fuelled her concern?

In the above-mentioned relationships, it was the strengthened bond of love, care and communication that compelled the spouses to be concerned for each other. Apart from being a couple, they had always been each others’ best buddies. How can a couple become BFF? The answer lies in the three verses that are recited as part of the Nikah ceremony:

“O You who believe! Fear Allah (by doing All that He has ordered and by abstaining from All that He has forbidden) as He should be feared…” (Al-Imran 3:102)

“…fear Allah through whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship)…” (An-Nisa 4:1)

“O You who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth…” (Al-Ahzab 33:70)

According to these verses, the basis of any relationship is God-consciousness, which compels one to avoid anything that displeases Allah (swt) and work towards creating a feeling of mutual respect, trust and honest communication among the spouses – the building blocks to lifelong friendship. To achieve this, it is imperative for both spouses to:

  • Develop frank communication.
  • Not be judgmental – listen and offer sincere advice. Sometimes, just listen.
  • Respect and support the decisions of your spouse and their consequences.
  • Define roles and give each other time and space.
  • Rearing children should be a joint endeavour.
  • Grow together in faith.
  • Remember that fights are normal but forgive and forget quickly.
  • Be loyal as true friends – always stand up for each other, against all odds.
  • Intimacy is an essential part of any marriage. Dress up for each other and do something out of the ordinary once in a while to surprise your best friend.
  • Finally, accept each other as BFF and make nurturing this relationship a priority through all odds.

I have been happily married to my BFF for seventeen years, and our secret is laughing at ourselves, making up quickly after a fight, and working towards paradise together. Alhumdulillah.

Thee Alone We Ask for Help

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Thee alone we ask for helpI have always wondered, why Allah (swt) stresses for children to be kind to their parents in four places of the Quran (Surahs Isra, Ahkaaf, Luqmaan and Ankaboot). However, there is not a single instruction for parents to be kind to their children.

Once I had kids, I realized that only the Creator knew His creation inside out – and the instructions must be there for my ignorance. The instruction in Surah Tahreem (66:6) is this: “O You who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…”

Before I had kids, every time I read this Ayah, it didn’t really mean much. But now, as a mother of three (Masha’Allah), I understand this very fundamental command of Allah’s (swt).

Iqbal in his poem “The Satan’s Advisory Council” (“Iblees ki majlis-e-shura”) says:

“I fear from this Ummah lest they awake,
Being his faith’s base, world account he would take.”

It means that only Islam can hinder Satan’s schemes to destroy the mankind in this world.

Relating the poem to the above Ayah, I see that in order to have kids that are successful Muslims, I must be vigilant every single minute – every routine and boring aspect of their lives. I must be AWAKE! We must conduct our affairs according to the parameters Allah (swt) has set for us.

But how can I raise my kids, so that every facet of their lives revolves around Allah (swt) and fear of Allah’s (swt) displeasure? I look to the Ayah, reflect and remember a book by Suleiman Nadvi – “Seerat un Nabi” (Vol. 6). The author discusses the character building and states that all bad character traits have their roots in three things:

 

DECEIT LOVE OF WEALTH SELF-CONCEIT
  • backbiting
  • promise-breaking
  • skepticism
  • tattling
  • duplicity
  • false oath
  • greed
  • stealing
  • usurping
  • cheating
  • embezzlement
  • overstatement
  • jelousy
  • pride
  • vanity
  • boastfulness
  • rashness
  • oppression
  • maliciousness
Remedy: Sawm Remedy: Zakah Remedy: Salah

Allah (swt) has given us the remedy for these sins as well. So the foundation for my kids’ character is entrenched in the pillars of Islam, which are not mere rituals but shields to combat character defects. My job, as I understood it, is to instruct them to practice these as soon as they physically and mentally can.

To apply this practically, my seven-year-old prays and fasts, my three-year-old tries to pray and fast, and all three of my kids give 1/3 of their Eidi (or any other money they receive as gifts) to the needy. I didn’t think these choices I ‘forced’ them to make had much impact, until the earthquake in 2005. Bilal demanded that I give his money to the victims; Isra makes sure she buys candy for our servant’s kids, whenever she buys some for herself.

We cannot substitute our presence; the guilt of not spending enough time with our kids is clear in the concept of ‘presents instead of presence.’ In today’s materialistic society, we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress the people we don’t even like, which in turn distorts our relationship with our kids and their sense of reality. It alters their priorities and moves them away from Allah (swt) – into the Hell we are commanded to save them from.

Parents must sacrifice their pleasures for their kids. Instead of eating out, make cooking new things an adventure. Instead of going to the malls, spend time playing sports with your kids. Instead of aiming for that upper middle class lifestyle, aim for that highest level in Jannah. We, as parents, must review our priorities in order to instill correct character traits in our kids.

We should build a strong sense of pride in the Islamic way of life. We should equip our kids with proofs from the Quran and the Sunnah, so that they can defend their choices. We should inform them, using logic and Ayahs from the Quran about Islam’s stand on various issues. For example, my son asked me, if a girl who wore jeans would go to Hell. I, in turn, quoted the Hadeeth about the etiquettes of dress, which gave him ‘ammunition’ for convincing his sister not to wear jeans!

Be sure you do not confuse your kids – do what you ask them to do. In other words, make it a line in stone that you MUST practice what you preach, or else your kids WILL not get the message. Provide for them a home environment, which exemplifies the Islamic way of life. Structure your activities around Salaah timings – this will reinforce the importance of Salaah. Show to your kids that you give to the poor and the needy as much as you can – this will impress them, and they will understand that wealth is a trust from Allah (swt) to be dispensed as per His instructions. Make Ramadan special and perform acts of worship as a family – believe me, it will last a lifetime. I still pine for the days, when we would stay up all night and pray during the last ten days of Ramadan with my mom, grandmother, aunts and neighborhood women. It was the highlight of the year for us!

I cannot stress enough the importance of a peaceful and loving relationship between father and mother, which serves as an example for future relationships kids will make. Only insist on the best – the best prayer (with devotion and humility), the best fast (with perseverance) and the best attitude towards your fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

For a better and responsible future generation, all parents must work hard on their kids’ moral and ethical upbringing. The benefit will be a strong Islamic society in this world and Jannah in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah.