Handy Hajj Tips for Ladies

Handy Hajj Tips for Ladies

Compiled by Aliya Khan and Ruhaifa Samir

Congratulations to those, who have made intention to go for Hajj this year. You are embarking on a monumental and life altering journey. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your pilgrimage!

What to do before Hajj

  1. Start an exercise routine. Walking is ideal to get you in shape for the rituals of Hajj.
  2. Read books to learn about Hajj.
  3. Learn the Talbia and favourite supplications.
  4. Don’t just promise to do Duas for other people – better write them down; also make a list of your own Duas as well.
  5. Practise silence.
  6. Reflect. Think about the permanent changes you want to see in your life post-Hajj. Make it part of your Niyyah.
  7. Pray for an easy and Mabroor (accepted) Hajj.
  8. Make cards according to the days of Hajj, listing Duas and rituals to be done that day.

What to take with you

Besides the usual, here are some tips for things that will add convenience to your Hajj, Insha’Allah:

  1. Get Abayas with pockets.
  2. Bring with you scissors, so your Mahram can cut your hair after Hajj.
  3. Carry with you a spray bottle (for Wudu), a small bag that can be used for Sutra, some clean dirt for Tayammum and a Quran with translation.
  4. Arrange a sim for your phone. Keep your phone, some money and contact numbers of your group/organizer in your Abaya pocket at all times.
  5. Know your hotel and room number. Wear the identification tag your Hajj group gives you at all times!
  6. Keep a little notebook for write down the lessons learnt during Hajj.

What to do during Hajj

  1. Don’t keep calling home every day. Concentrate more on your Hajj.
  2. Try your best to pray Tahajjud every day.
  3. Don’t commit sin by trying to do the Mustahab, such as pushing through men to kiss the Black Stone.
  4. Decide on a favourite Dhikr or Dua, so you can concentrate on it, whenever you feel distracted.
  5. Walk patiently and calmly during Tawaf. Don’t get angry, when others push you. It is advisable to expect a bit of chaos; try focusing on your learned Duas.

How to behave during Hajj

  1. Stay calm during Hajj.
  2. Don’t talk much.
  3. Don’t concern yourself with other people’s issues and help them only if they seek your help.
  4. All the Hujjaj are Allah’s (swt) guests. Be afraid of doing anything to upset anyone. In case if anyone annoys you consciously or unconsciously, forgive and forget!
  5. Lower your expectations as in presence of thousands of Hujjaj it is natural to have little troubles.
  6. Don’t lose your temper at the organizers, in case you are unhappy with the arrangements.
  7. Be prepared for hardships and don’t keep running towards comfort.
  8. Keep yourself open to whatever comes your way, good or bad. Embrace it as your contribution in the way of Allah (swt).

What to do after Hajj

  1. Do self evaluation after Hajj; a Mabroor Hajj must change you permanently and make you more obedient to Allah (swt).
  2. Use learning from the Hajj to plan for your remaining life.
  3. After coming back, don’t tell long stories of your Ibadah and Taqwa to others, as it may be counted as act of self-praising (vanity).
  4. After returning or on your flight back, write down what you learnt from the Hajj experience.
  5. Some people come back with stories of dirty bathrooms at Mina and the hardships they faced. Others come back with brighter hearts and enlightened souls. Be one of the latter.

Your Hajj will be quite a journey. You will learn from it only if you are ready and willing to ‘receive’. Pray to Allah (swt) to make this Hajj a means of bringing you closer to Him. May Allah (swt) accept your Hajj. Ameen.

Top Five Things to Pack for Hajj

Top five things to pack for hajj

1) Clothing and Toiletries

Pack in one extra set of Ihram, comfortable clothing for the number of days you are travelling, a shawl or sweater (for any unexpected chilliness at night), socks and undergarments. Take along two pairs of inexpensive slippers and a drawstring bag to carry them when entering the mosque. Men can keep a cap to cover their heads, when they are not in the state of Ihram.

Pack in soap, shampoo, deodorant as well as a non-fragrance soap and travel soap dish to use when in state of Ihram. Keep small scissors, a nails cutter, a disposable razor, a set of towels and a small packet of detergent to wash your clothes.

2) Accessories

Keep a money belt or vest with pockets to keep money hidden. Also, keep sunglasses, –+prescription/reading spectacles, and a spectacle-holding string to secure your glasses. Remember to wear plastic name tags for identification (especially important, if you have small children with you).

Also pack a light prayer rug, an alarm clock, your mobile and it’s charger, an umbrella, a flashlight for when you go to Muzdalifah, a flask or water bottle, three sandwich sized zip-lock bags or drawstring cloth bags for pebbles that you collect from Muzdalifah and a medium sized handbag for everyday use to hold glasses, medicines, Quran, prayer rug, etc.

3) Medicines

Illnesses are easy to catch, when there are three million people coming from around the world! Pack in one course of broad spectrum Antibiotics, pain-killers, cough syrup, band-aids, pain-relief ointments as well as any special medication you need for conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension. Remember to keep a prescription written by the doctor for the medicines you are carrying.

4) Documents and Finances

Double-check that you have with you the originals and photocopies of your passports and tickets in separate suitcases. Take along the confirmation letters from hotels and travel documents. Keep a sufficient amount of money in US dollars and Saudi Riyals. It may be a good idea to keep in extra photos, envelopes, a writing pad and a pen as well.

5) Taqwa!

And last but not least, do not forget what Allah (swt) has said: “And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness).” (Al-Baqarah 2:197) You are making Hajj for the sake of Allah (swt) and for the forgiveness of your sins. Make sure you make the most of it! Pack in a copy of the Quran and other reading material, such as invocations (Dua) cards and Hajj guides.

Pray to Allah (swt) to make it easy for you, before you embark on this incredible journey. In case you do forget something, Makkah has been hosting pilgrims for over 1400 years and most things will be available. Remember, you are a guest of Allah (swt) and He will take care of you!

Fathering Results


By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at yello.pk and perceptions.org.pk

Fathers find it challenging to earn a decent living, while attending to the social and emotional needs of the family. The fact remains that mothers, in general, still spend more time with the children and have more responsibility for their day-to-day care, while fathers have more responsibility for earning money.

Studies have shown that when fathers play an active role in the lives of their children, the results produce confident and secure individuals. A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood, says: “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”

Though the game is changing ever so slowly, Alhumdulillah, many fathers have been making efforts to be there for their children. This writer questioned some of these fathers on how their increased role and contribution in the family had affected their children, and also, what was the one thing they had done that had improved their relationship with their children and brought promising results, if not absolute success.

Azeem Pirani is a homeschooling father of eight children. His wife and children chose to answer this question on his behalf, defining the one single thing that he has done as: “Giving each of us TIME”. Due to the varied ages of his children, he gives each of them time the way they need it. In the words of his wife: “Once in a while, he takes the older ones out for a snack, where he can discuss growing up issues and their lives with them; he does the same for our ten and eight year-old boys, too. He also gives undivided time to the little ones to listen to them and talk to them.” He makes time for his wife by being her advisor, counselor and staying with the children, so she can take an uninterrupted nap when she asks for it.
Dr. Khalid Bhamba, a homeschooling father for his 11-year-old son and a very busy doctor, is involved in many charitable and social projects. However, he ensures that he keeps his Saturday and Sunday evenings free to spend time with his children and Monday mornings for his wife. Taking time out from his busy schedule has been instrumental in the positive upbringing of their children.

Shehryar Mohsin said that spending time with his family enabled him to teach his three-year-old daughter to take decisions for herself, seeking guidance only when needed, even though she was very young. He says: “My strategy is to teach her how to make proper decisions and get rid of the ‘fear’ that makes you a poor decision-maker in your life.” The effect of this has been improved faith and trust in her parents because “she feels more secure and protected knowing that even if she makes a wrong choice or takes an inappropriate step ahead, she’ll always have her father’s hand to guide her.”
Another father, Abu Muaz, is homeschooling his one-year-old son. He says that since his son is very young, simply giving him time in the evening and playing with him keeps him happy. But the one thing he has done that he feels will give him promising results in the near future and is already impacting his son indirectly is that he and his wife regularly discuss what their vision for him should be. He says: “We talk about where we want to see him when he grows up, and come up with routines and activities (not only for him, but for us, too, being his role models), which we then try to implement. Things like how often we should take him out, what we should be reading to him, how we need to increase our Dhikr of Allah (swt), so that he learns about this, too.”

Abu Shaheer was yet another person who offered his insights on this question. He said: “The one thing I have done as a dad in our family is to revive the Sunnah of ‘Shura’ or ‘Mushwara’ – that is mutual consultation. We have a weekly Shura about family affairs, sitting on the ground in a circle, going one by one with each kid and their mother; even if it’s choosing which restaurant to go out for dinner.” The Shura system in their house has not only provided quality time for interaction between them, but has also given an opportunity to their children to make valuable suggestions and feel important. This has had great results because not only has it inculcated responsibility in the children, but there are also no complaints with the outcome of the decision, since it was collectively made and not forced upon anyone. Abu Shaheer claims: “It has made the kids more mature for their age.”

Dr. Muhammad Abid Ali, a Master Mariner by profession, is also a holder of PhD in education, MBA in HR and Finance, and the initiator and founding member of two education research institutes. He is also the father of four grown-up children, who are, Masha’Allah, serving the Deen in their own capacity. When asked about his role as a father, Dr. Abid replied: “At times, I have tried to recollect what I exceptionally did to raise my children from the Islamic perspective, and all that I could remember was what I did not do and could have done better as a father. Later in life, I realize there were a lot of deficiencies in our upbringing of our four children. May Allah (swt) forgive us for that. People keep on learning in life and many will realize later the weaknesses in their obligations towards Allah (swt) in taking care of His trusts that we have been given as a test. Were it not for his mitigation of the harmful effects of our actions, the humanity would have long been done with. The little positive thing that I may have done is not to force them into any set of belief except that of basic Islam, and the freedom to think and express what ever they thought is correct. I believe I did not superimpose my ideas or beliefs upon their inexperienced but intelligent minds. Since my childhood, I have tried to remain strictly Allah-centred. If you put it in a slogan, it will be ‘All for Allah (swt) alone’. With the exception of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, nothing is of any avail in this life logically. I encouraged them to dedicate their lives to the service of Allah (swt), for that is the safest way of conducting life in this earthly sojourn. Alhumdulillah, I see them realizing this. On my part, I have tried to maintain an effective communication with my children, though I was frequenting the ship as my profession. However, I remember I maintained effective communication with them through letters and later, through e-mails.”

Indeed, the increased role and contribution of the fathers in their respective families has had a profound effect on them. The children learn, grow and thrive under the firm, loving and supportive hands of their fathers, enabling them to become well-rounded personalities in all respects.

However, sometimes, initiatives don’t bring about results that were expected, in which case the fathers try out new ways to impact their children. Abu Muaz puts it aptly: “Of course, there are times when some things don’t work out in which case we try to figure out where we went wrong and how to correct them in the future.”

Top Five Ways to Prepare for Laylat-ul-Qadr

laylat ul-qadr

The Night of Power and Destiny – Laylat-ul-Qadr – is almost here. We all know that worship done in this night is better than that done in a thousand months! Can we think of any other night or day in our lives that could be more special than this one night? Yet, it is our birthdays and anniversaries, the hyped up mother’s and father’s days that take up all our attention and tireless planning! And here is Laylat-ul-Qadr, the perfection of all nights, and what is it that we do?

The righteous predecessors would prepare for the last nights of Ramadan and for Laylat-ul-Qadr. Here are the top five things we can also do in order to prepare for the Night of Destiny:

1. Clean up – on the outside

Take a Ghusl and make sure you are completely clean. According to Ibn Jareer, the righteous predecessors “used to prefer Ghusl every night of the last ten nights, and an-Nakha’i used to make Ghusl every night of the last ten nights. Some of them would make Ghusl and get perfumed on the nights when it was most hoped to be Laylat-ul-Qadr.”

2. Put on your best perfume

Perfume yourself! It is time to meet the Lord and the King of the Worlds in prayer – nothing should stop you from looking and smelling your best. Some of the righteous predecessors would even perfume the Masajid on the nights they hoped would be Laylat-ul-Qadr. We can even do this in our homes. (A note of caution for the ladies: If you are planning to go out to the Masjid or a congregation for Taraweeh, then do not perfume yourself. However, there is no reason you can’t look your best, while avoiding anything Haram.)

3. Take out your best dress

Tamim ad-Dari (rta) had a garment he had bought for 1000 dirhams, which he would only wear on the night which he hoped would be the Laylat-ul-Qadr. We don’t need to spend beyond our means to buy expensive clothes for this night, but if you have a dress you’ve been saving for a special occasion or a dress that you absolutely love, this is the night to wear it! Who has more right to your beauty than the very Creator, Who gave you this perfect form?

4. Clean up – on the inside too

Aisha (rta) asked the Prophet (sa): “O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?” He replied: “Say: ‘O Allah, You are the One, Who pardons greatly and loves to pardon, so pardon me.’” (Ahmad, Ibn-Majah and At-Tirmidhi)

It’s time not only to be our cleanest and best on the outside, but also on the inside! Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness for all your wrongdoings – intentional or unintentional. Let go of all your grudges! Forgive those who have hurt you, and hope for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness in return!

5. Make the best of this blessed opportunity

It sounds almost unbelievable that one night could be equal to one thousand months! But this is Allah (swt), our Lord, promising us! He is giving us an unparalleled gift on this special night, and we should make the best of it. Spend this night in Qiyam (standing in prayer) and beg Him for forgiveness. Make a list of what you want in this world and the next and ask Him for everything this night.

Remember, Laylat-ul-Qadr is THE event of the year! Don’t miss it!

Beginning to Read

beginning to read

By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at yello.pk and perceptions.org.pk

Reading is a habit many people set out to cultivate and no wonder! Books can be extremely satisfying companions; they make you laugh, cry and, most importantly, they open up your minds to ideas and information you had never heard of before. Books are indeed our best friends!

Reading is a great habit to develop. If you’d like to cultivate a lifetime habit of reading, try some of these tips!

1 Set reading goals. An initial burst of enthusiasm for reading will not sustain the habit. You need to set goals for yourself, defining how long you will read every day. You can start with ten minutes a day and gradually increase the time. Or you can decide how many pages you will read every day. Find a quiet place where you can read uninterrupted for the time you have specified.

2 Find a book you love. Reading is highly enjoyable, but not if you are reading a book that is boring or one you can’t understand. Explore topics and genres that interest you and those to which you can relate. Make a list of books you would like to read – then, slowly and gradually go through them.

3 Have reading triggers. Every habit has a trigger – a regularly occurring event that immediately precedes the habit. Every time those triggers come up, read. Common reading triggers have been identified as eating, going to bed, travelling in the car, waiting somewhere (outside the school or in a doctor’s clinic), etc. Choose your triggers and read without fail. Also, always remember to carry a book with you whenever you leave the house. Chances are you might not need the book for nine trips out of the ten you make, but the tenth time you’ll be glad you brought the book along.

4 Have a library/bookshop day. Make a weekly trip to a library or a bookshop (second-hand bookstores are always great!). Browsing through different books is a useful way to spend some time and open up your mind to the variety of literature available for your reading pleasure. More often that not, you will end up buying amazing books that you can’t wait to read!

5 Make it pleasurable. Make your reading pleasurable and fun. Settle with a hot cup of tea/coffee or any other treat. But remember – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to read. Reading is for pleasure, and if you get stressed and push yourself too hard, you might give it up altogether. It might be a great idea to discuss books with your friends or join a book club to help you enjoy the reading experience even more.

Summer Survival

Summer Survival

By Umm Zakariya – Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi

“Summer time often becomes a test of endurance rather than a special time to enjoy children,” says P. M. Saeed in her book, “Summer Survival: A Guide for Mothers”. I am sure a lot of us, parents, would agree with her. We all look forward to the summer vacations so that we can enjoy some time with our children. But, as the days go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with the “I’m bored” chants. Eventually, hot, tired and out of ideas, the poor parents concede defeat and allow their children to spend their summer glued to the idiot box!

Here are some ideas to keep your kids occupied this summer and for you to spend some quality time with them as well!

Craft Activities

Creative Salt

Add 5 to 6 drops of colour to a half cup of household salt. Stir well and cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could spread the salt on brown paper and let it air dry. Store it in an airtight container. Use as glitter or to make coloured sand bottles.

Home-made Finger Paint

Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 tsp salt. Add 2 ½ cups of cold water. Stir until smooth. Gradually add this mixture to 2 cups of boiling water. Boil until smooth and thick. Add food colouring and stir until smooth – you’ll have lots of fun finger painting! Remember to wear an apron and use newspapers to avoid any mess.

Paint Rollers

You can use an empty roll-on deodorant bottle and fill it up with paint to make a giant paint pen or use an empty shoe polish bottle to make an excellent sponge painting tool.

Green Man

Take an empty plastic bottle and cut it ten inches from the bottom. Place it in an old sheer pop sock and fill it with soil. Sprinkle rye or coriander seeds on top. Tie the top end of the sock in a knot. Make a face on the outside with old scraps of material. Water it and watch its hair grow through the sock. Remember to keep the Green Man moist.

Bowling Game

Spray paint 1½ litre plastic bottle and put a little sand or water in the bottle to weighh it down to make bowling pins. Use any ball you have at home and see who can get a strike!

Build an Ant Farm

Find a large jar and a small jar that fits inside the bigger one. Place moist dirt and ants in the narrow space between the jars. Cover tightly. Keep soil moist and feed the ants breadcrumbs, dead insects, small pieces of meat or vegetables. Watch them and learn to be industrious.

Rice Art

Draw a simple picture on cardboard. In shallow containers, use food colouring to dye rice to different colours. Dip a toothpick in German glue and then pick up one grain of rice. Dip it in glue again and place the rice grain on the picture. If this sounds too tedious to your child, rice can be stuck in patches by directly applying glue on the picture and sprinkling rice over it. When the picture is completely covered with rice, brush a coat of glue diluted with water over the entire surface.

Crayon Art

Peel broken or old crayons and put their shavings on a piece of paper. Fold the paper in half and place in between a folded newspaper. Now iron on top of the newspaper, keeping the iron setting low. Open the paper slowly to see a colourful surprise! You could also melt broken crayons in an old aluminum pan. Place in the oven for 10-20 minutes at 350 F degrees. Remove, cool and break into pieces to make new multi-coloured crayons.

Tie-and-Dye T-shirts (100% cotton is must)

Gather a small wad of the T-shirt in your hand and tightly wrap a rubber band around the gathered fabric. Repeat the procedure all over the shirt. Now dip the wads in different dyes (easily available from a dyeing shop.) Place in the sun to dry. Snap off the rubber bands and your tie-and-dye shirt is ready.

Family Activities

Summer time increases opportunities for family bonding. Involve fathers in these activities with the children:

Make a family tree. See how far you can trace back your ancestry!

Lay on a blanket in your garden (don’t forget the mosquito repellant!) and watch the stars or guess the shapes the clouds make.

Have a smile contest. See who smiles the most in a week.

Every week, post a brain teaser, riddle or word puzzle in a central place. The first one to give the answer wins a prize.

Have a family car wash day. Take your buckets, sponges and cloths and give your faithful family car a good summer cleaning!

Fly kites together. Try not to get into a tangle!

Field Trips

Have your children write a letter to themselves with their resolutions or goals. Go to the post office and let your children post it to themselves. Talk to the postman and other people to learn how we get mail.

Get together with a few mothers and make a group to visit a factory.

Check newspapers for art exhibitions. This is a good way to develop your children’s interest in different styles, mediums and techniques.

Drive around town or take a walk. See how many kinds of trees are in your area. Collect the leaves and identify them to make a scrapbook

Send the children on an outing with dad. Have them join up with other fathers and their children and go out for lunch.

Fajr Academy – Creating Readers and Leaders!

Fajr Academy – Creating Readers and Leaders!

By Umm Zakariya – Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi

Reading is one of the greatest sources of knowledge and pleasure known to mankind. Avid readers will tell you nothing can replace a good book. Reading is a taught skill and though we all learn to read when we go through our educational system, we mainly treat it as a form of acquiring knowledge. We rarely find a school which inculcates in children the passion to read for pleasure.

Fajr Academy is one of the rare schools that consider reading as top priority in their educational programme – for knowledgeand for pleasure. The newly-opened school is the brainchild of Mr. Asim Ismail, an educationist entrepreneur who has launched an extensive reading programme where children from the nursery level are exposed to a wide variety of books and literature. Two out of seven periods in a single day are dedicated to reading, where two to three reading teachers take a class of maximum twelve children. The reading teachers are also supervised by an experienced co-coordinator who keeps updating them with new ideas to make the reading lessons more effective. Depending on the reading level of the child, children are either led through a guided reading programme or are encouraged to read independently, with the teacher ensuring that the material being read is effectively comprehended. At all times, reading is made to be a fun activity, with children waiting impatiently to get their hands on the books so they can discover new places, people and ideas.

Each class at the school also houses an in-class library with age-appropriate books. Precocious readers in the class are allowed by the reading teachers to choose books from the main library as well to encourage them to read higher-level books. The school has invested heavily into the reading programme by purchasing books from all leading bookstores in the city. Experienced teachers have carefully selected books for the school in order to give children reading material covering a wide range of topics. The team of teachers also has a trained teacher for assessing children with learning difficulties, more specifically, dyslexia. These students are then instructed through multi-sensory modes to help them read effectively.

“The results of the reading programme have been beyond our wildest expectations”, says a teacher at Fajr Academy. The children of Prep 2 have already finished readers in the first term of the school year which are usually finished at the end of the school year in other schools. Some children of Prep-1 have become fluent readers as well. The children of Nursery, though young, have also become little book lovers, pouring over the pictures of the books while the teachers give words to what they see.

When asked to comment on the reading programme at his school, Mr. Asim Ismail simply states: “Reading is to the mind what food is for the body.” This small quote from him sums up the importance of the reading programme at Fajr Academy. He believes once the passion for reading is inculcated in children, they will excel at academics. This is because the best form of gaining knowledge is through the printed word. If children become fluent readers at an early age and enjoy picking up a good book to read, the scope of what they can learn would be beyond our wildest imagination. As they say, “today a reader, tomorrow a leader!”

Worthy Clicks for Parents


By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at yello.pk and perceptions.org.pk

http://www.muslimkidz.com/ and http://www.islamicplayground.com

Age: 4- 10 years

Genre: Islamic games

Both sites have a range of games to teach children basic Islamic concepts as well as Arabic. Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, quizzes, stories, colouring pages and printables are some of the other features of the websites.


Age: Grade 1-8

Genre: math, science, reading, grammar and general knowledge

Mytestbook.com provides parents the opportunity to test their child according to their grade levels to see where they stand. There are many online worksheets as well to give children practice in areas, where they need extra help.


Age: 6 onwards

Genre: Explanation of the Quran

“Using toys to make learning fun” is the motto of this very interesting site, where “Lego” blocks are used to help explain to children what the Quran says. Selected verses and Surahs have been covered with more on the way.



Age: for the whole family

Genre: Islamic social awareness

This YouTube channel has short animated stick-figure videos to drive home important messages to today’s Muslims. From small children to grown-ups, all can benefit from reminders on how to be productive Muslims!

Making Kids Money-Wise

Making Kids Money-Wise

By Umm Zakariya – Freelance journalist and the Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi

As parents, we want the best for our children. We want our children to be ‘happy’ and that usually translates into us plying them with expensive clothes, toys, gadgets and paraphernalia, while giving into their every whim and desire. In pursuit of this ‘happiness’, we end up making our kids exceedingly materialistic – we either forget about or neglect educating them about the values of earning it, the judgement in spending it, and the virtues and avenues of saving it.

Here are some simple and easy ways of helping our children become money-wise, so that they are not only aware but are also ready to face the reAl-world and its sharks, when the time comes!

Go Shopping Together

Take your children shopping. Let them understand the simple truth that we need money to buy things! Let children get an insight into how you select items based on affordability and that not everything one wants can be bought, as there is a budget to be adhered to.

Set a Pocket Money/ Monthly Allowance

Allowance is an important tool to form sturdy lifelong fiscal habits in your children. However, you need to guide them on how to manage and spend in order for them to become responsible money managers.

Let Them Earn

Another lesson you need to teach your children early on is the diligence that goes into earning money. And it goes without saying that the best and most effective way to teach the value of money is to let your child earn! Help your child set up a small business, such as making and selling greeting cards or jewellery, wrapping gifts, etc. There are countless ideas online. Alternatively, you can pay them for extra chores they do beyond their usual responsibilities. You could also put up a stall at any of the various charity Melas and let them help out.

Open a Savings Account

Open a child-friendly bank account for your children or let them open an account with you as the banker, if they are very young! Teach them to save their Eidi, other gift money and anything they earn for things they may want. You will see that they will appreciate what they buy from their own efforts more than anything you buy for them. This is also a good time to teach them about Riba (interest) and Allah’s (swt) commandments regarding it.

Teach Them to Budget and Plan

Encourage your children to plan and budget. Help them to decide their short-term and long-term goals about the things they want to buy and how they can manage their money to achieve both. Also, teach children the importance of moderation. Help them understand that they should not be extravagant and must save what they can for the future.

Encourage the Charity Giver in Them

We sometimes tend to forget a very significant lesson that our kids need to learn as early as possible. The poor and the destitute have a right to whatever we earn – in order to earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Giving Sadaqah is not just an option. It is a responsibility of every believer. In return, the children can ask Allah (swt) to grant them more or relieve them of their daily troubles successfully (tests, exams, etc.). We would not like our kids to become stingy or miserly in pursuit of financial success.

It’s never too early to start! We must realize that unless we put the responsibility of decision-making and accountability on their shoulders, our children will have to learn this the hard way in the real world. Help children gain these values early on by letting them make their own money-related decisions. Even if they end up making a loss, this is a lesson better learnt sooner than later!

Being a Proactive Parent!

Being a Proactive parent

Have you ever felt that you didn’t handle a parenting challenge in the best manner? Or that though you are trying to raise your children correctly, you are frustrated with the results – or lack of them? Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Unfortunately, for this job, there are no degrees, and the baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual! We all try to do our best for our children, but often get caught in a cycle of reactive parenting. A situation comes up and we react, without realizing it’s repercussions in the long run! Taking a moment to step out to look at the long-term picture is a great way to get some perspective and to help head our family in the right direction.

Reactive Parenting!

  1. Nagging, begging, bribing and threats. Most parents are guilty of using one of these reactive methods. They either nag their children, until they do what they’re asked. Some parents bribe their children: “If you go to school without crying, I’ll let you watch TV, when you get home.” Others resort to begging: “Will you do this for me? Please?” And, of course, the empty threats: “If you don’t clean up your room, I’ll throw all your toys away!” Saying such things and then not following through, teaches children not to take their parents seriously. With such methods, we almost force our children to tune us out, a phenomenon known as ‘parent deafness’!
  2. Giving in. Most parents set up rules but cave in, when their children insist. If you say: “No snacking before lunch.” mean it! If you, however, let your child eat a piece of chocolate, you lose all credibility with your child.
  3. Unclear expectations. Be clear about what you want from your children. Instead of asking them to ‘behave’, it might be a good idea to specify, what you mean: “Say Salam, when you go to Ayesha’s house” or “Share your toys, when Muhammad comes over.”
  4. Being inconsistent consistently. Children don’t know what to expect of their moms and dads! At times, they can get away with being super-hyper, while at other times, they are scolded for making noise. Make clear rules and be consistent. Control the situation, rather than let it control you.
  5. Lying. Parents don’t realize the small lies they tell their children. Hiding a toy and saying: “Oh, the birdy took it away,” is lying. Be the person you want your children to be. As Robert Fulghum says: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
  6. Hitting. Some parents resort to hitting their children in a last desperate attempt to discipline them. What parents forget is that the only thing the child will remember from the incident is the hitting itself and not why he was spanked!

Being Proactive!

Being a proactive parent means that you think about what you want for your children in the long run and take every parenting moment that comes to help them towards that goal. Safaa Minhas, who recently conducted a workshop “Parenting: Proactive vs. Reactive” at “Hiba” office suggests the following ways, in which you can respond proactively to your child, Insha’Allah:

  1. Working together. Work together with your child. Make rules and routines. Decide consequences. Let your child decide, how he should be punished, if he misbehaves. Become a team, and you will see a remarkable difference in the child’s cooperation.
  2. Being prepared. The most important thing about proactive parenting is being prepared for every situation. If you know your child gets cranky when visiting friends or relatives, keep some of his favourite toys along. Also, talk to your child beforehand to help his transition to any change or event.
  3. Positive statements. Keep the blame and accusations out of your tone. If your child knocks down and breaks a vase, instead of saying: “See, I told you not to run around,” use such positive statements as: “Why do you think the vase broke?” “Should we run around in the sitting room?” The aim is to make the child realize his mistake, so it doesn’t happen again, not to prove you were right.
  4. Good compromises. Where giving in is a bad idea, sometimes parents do need to compromise. If your child makes a valid point, agree to change the rules.
  5. Show empathy. Understand your children and relate to them. Not acknowledging their feelings leads to frustration and anger in children. For example, if your child exhibits rivalry towards his younger sibling, show empathy. “I know he takes your things, and I know it’s annoying. But it’s only because he loves you and wants to be like you.”
  6. Use your imagination and humour. Parenthood should be a fun and joyful journey! Use your humour to help you deal with some situations, instead of flying off the handle! If your child fusses at bedtime and never gets to bed in time, use your imagination. Make her the mummy and have her put her fussy teddy to bed!
  7. 5-3-1 GO! Parents expect immediate obedience from their children and get angry, when the children don’t drop everything at once. Give children the time to adjust. Shouting: “We’re leaving in five minutes!” and then dragging a screaming child to the car is not a solution. Count your child down. Remind again in three minutes, then one minute and finally make it clear that it’s time to GO!
  8. Ask helpful questions: Try to understand, why your child misbehaves, when he does. Uncover the problem and then make him understand that misbehaving is not the solution.
  9. Saying sorry. Learn to say sorry. Everybody makes mistakes, and when you make a mistake, set an example by apologizing and owning up.
  10. Punishment vs. discipline. “Discipline expresses a parent’s boundaries with the emotional volume turned down,” says Sharon Silver, founder of Proactive Parenting. Chalk out consequences, rather than punishments, to help your child realize his mistake.

Three golden tips for raising our little Mumins in today’s world!

  1. Always think long-term! Instead of reacting impulsively, be proactive – use a situation in your favour by guiding your children to learn a lesson from it.
  2. Don’t give freedoms that you know will eventually have to be taken away. With exposure to TV, the Internet and assimilation of western culture, we need to inculcate the Islamic spirit early on. If you say: “She’s too young right now and it’s okay for her to wear such clothes,” then be prepared for a rough transition.
  3. Last but not least, make Dua for your children! Pray to Allah (swt) to make them leaders of the Muslim Ummah and to help us in our quest of being better parents!

The material presented in this article is based on a parenting workshop facilitated by Safaa Minhas at “Hiba” Magazine’s office.

Five Easy Habits to Pick up this Ramadan

July 11- 5 easy habits to pick up this ramadan

By Ruhaifa Samir

With Shaytan locked up for the month of Ramadan, we all find it easier to do good deeds compared to other months around the year. We all do extra Ibadah in the form of reciting the Quran, doing extra Nawafil, performing our prayers on time, etc.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, noticed that amputees took, on average, twenty-one days to adjust to the loss of a limb. From further research, he established that people take twenty-one days to adjust to major life changes and form habits. We engage ourselves in productive activities throughout Ramadan for thirty days, by the end of which we perform extra Ibadah almost habitually! So why not consciously continue them, so that these habits last us not only during Ramadan but for our whole lives?

Here are some easy habits that you can pick up this Ramadan:

Block a slot for the Quran every day

Choose a time during the day, when you find it easiest to sit and recite the Quran and ponder over its meaning. For some, it might be before Fajr and for others, after Maghrib. Choose a time that best fits your schedule and block it for the Quran for the rest of the year.

Plan life around your Salah, not the other way round

Allah (swt) has promised great rewards for those who perform their Salah in their earliest times. Most of us get into the habit of praying Salah on time during Ramadan (especially Fajr and Maghrib). Continue the trend. Set your biological clock to Salah time and plan all other things you need to do around it!

Choose three to five goals every month

A Muslim must constantly strive to better himself. Choose three to five goals to achieve this Ramadan and for every subsequent month afterwards, so that by the time Ramadan rolls around again, you are a stronger, better Muslim. Use these goals to get rid of some of your bad habits, such as procrastination, anger, gossiping, etc.

Use the time before and after Fajr

We all diligently wake up for Fajr during Ramadan; in fact, some of us wake up with enough time to perform Tahajjud as well. By the end of Ramadan, our bodies are wired to wake up early. Don’t let Shaytan dissuade you from continuing this once he is set free at the end of Ramadan. Remember, Allah (swt) waits for us to invoke Him for our needs before Fajr; He has put great blessings and mercy in the time after it. Make it a habit to use this time wisely after Ramadan as well.

Continue fasting after Ramadan
Our bodies get used to fasting during Ramadan, and it gets easier as the month progresses. Don’t let go of this habit. The Prophet (sa) used to fast every Monday and Thursday, and on the 13th, 14th and 15th of every Islamic month. Other special fasts include those of the six days in Shawwal, 9th and 10th of Muharram, and on Yaum-e-Arafa (the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah). Remember, the gate of Ar-Rayyan in Jannah is reserved for those who fast.