Label: Muslim; Type: Secular

secular

It is no secret that the world changed after September 11, 2001. Even secular Muslims, who do not display any visible proclamations of their faith and who have always been “camouflaged” amidst the secular society, have had their lives transformed. For instance, Muslim names, such as Mohammad and Akbar, have received additional unwarranted attention, especially at airport security checkpoints. Regular men and women with the “Muslim” tag have been zoomed in for the sake of security. Being treated differently on the basis of their religion has left many secular Muslims feeling confused and even alienated.

Likewise, the second generation Muslims, who have always identified themselves as European or American, for example, are suddenly finding themselves isolated with the label of ‘Muslim’. They are being compelled to choose sides. There is a loud yet peculiarly subtle declaration that says: “You are either American (for instance) or Muslim.” An identity that was previously a comfortable blend of both is being forcefully split. Secular Muslims, grappling with their identity, are reacting to bring about some sense to their existence in Western societies.

Many have tried to bring some sanity to the situation by embracing the identity of a globalized Muslim. They have put aside their cultural identities to integrate Islam into their lives. They also support secular beliefs as long as they don’t overstep the requirements of Islam. Indeed, this identity crisis amongst these Muslims might prove to be more of a boon than a bane in the long run to erase the phobia of Islam.

Box Feature

From the pen of an agnostic Muslim

I don’t have a lot of significant moments to cite in order to state that the events of 9/11 have affected my life. I’m probably one of the luckier ones. I was born here. I have no accent. I don’t wear a Hijab, scarf, or any other clothing that could distinguish me as a Muslim. I don’t even consider myself to be a Muslim. But when people ask me about my heritage, I always tell them I come from a Muslim background and I always find the need to defend the religion when it comes under attack.

I don’t consider myself to be a Muslim for personal reasons. During undergrad, I was majoring in religious studies. My study into the various religions gave me an understanding about the purpose religion can serve: both good and evil.

9/11 was an example of the evil purpose! However, it does not define the entire Islamic religion and those who practice it for good. The most profound effects that 9/11 had for me were in my interactions with others when it came to discussing Islam. I remember a Christian friend innocently asking me if I felt there was some aspect of the religion that contributed to 9/11 and the terrorism that is oftentimes associated with it. The conversation turned into a discussion about religions and how religious beliefs and doctrines, found worldwide, can be used to justify some of humanity’s most despicable acts.

Yes, I have heard of horrible, ignorant acts committed against Muslims in America post-9/11. Once, when my sister was wearing Islamic clothing, a Ridah, to go to the mosque, some neighbours yelled: “Go back to where you came from.” My sister couldn’t believe someone said that to her. Right after 9/11, the mosque my family attended in California decided to post a USA flag in the front yard to show that we were Americans. Many hate crimes were occurring throughout the nation; this act was a precautionary move in order to avoid more serious harm to the mosque. I have heard of my male relatives being stopped at the airport, because of their beards and names, or told they were randomly selected for a bag search, while going through security.

Personally though, I have not had to go through any of these issues. But there was a change for me post 9/11 – talking about being a Muslim or that my family is Muslim seems to have become a fascinating point now. People are very cautious about it, especially those who do not know anything about the religion or those who practice it. People are curious. The religion has been pushed to the forefront and has become a talking point. I feel it every time I hear someone mention the words ‘Islam’ or ‘Muslim’ in my presence.

Islam in Singapore

Apr 11- Singapore

By Ruhie Jamshaid

The little island nation of Singapore is renowned to be a modern, urban ‘lion-city’. It is often recognized as the commercial heart of Asia. The levels of cleanliness and law and order found in this nation are somewhat legendary, with many cities, such as Dubai, Bahrain and Shanghai, modelling after it.

However, beyond the glitz and glamour of the heart of the far East, lies a nation that is admired for its sense of respect for all religions and races. A myriad of races from the Chinese to Malays and Indians live side by side on the island, practicing their religions. Needless to say, Islam, too, is practiced freely and widely in Singapore!

In fact, growing up in such a multi-cultural country as Singapore, I had the opportunity to learn about my religion from my Malay and Arab friends. Somehow, the religion of Islam and my culture as a Pakistani were often separate entities. Hence, I got a chance to study my religion for what it is, beyond cultural influences.

One of the most wonderful things about being a Muslim in Singapore is celebrating Ramadan. This holy month is always very special here. It is a common practice to go to the Masjid for Taraweeh prayers as a family. Every locality, or rather housing estate, has a mosque, although the volume of the Adhans has to be controlled for the sake of not disturbing non-Muslim residents. Iftar is organized in all the mosques for all and sundry. It is common to find people of such varied nationalities as Moroccons, Bangladeshis, Indonesians and the local Singaporean Malays sitting side by side and breaking their fasts. Taraweeh prayers are conducted with Tahleels and Dhikr sessions.

My family and I cherish the opportunity to go to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers. It is an opportunity for us to meet other Muslims and for our children to be aware of the spirit of Islam in a community. As many Muslims are foreigners, with only a few family members in Singapore, Eid-ul-Fitr prayers also offer an opportunity to connect with the Muslim community.

The Chinese Muslim community of Singapore, though small in number, is also an interesting aspect of the Muslim community found here. While they practice Islam, they also embrace certain Chinese cultural practices, such as the celebration of the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Ms. Mah, a Chinese Muslim, states: “We are basically all Chinese, except that we practice Islam. For instance, we avoid pork, which is often the preferred meat in Chinese households!” Many Chinese Muslims in Singapore have either embraced Islam through marriage and adoption, or their families are of Hui or Uyghur descent, having moved to Singapore from China in the 1920s.

It is quite easy to practice Islam in most areas of life in Singapore. Though there may not be special rooms allocated for Salah in most workplaces, it is typical for employers to make allowances for you to go to a quiet corner such as a staircase area or your own office cubicle to pray. Halal food is also easily available with most fast food restaurants being Halal. Wearing Hijab at workplaces can be an issue but in daily life, it is common to find Muslim ladies donning the Hijab at market places and restaurants.

Generally, Islam is seldom viewed suspiciously in Singapore. Therefore, the freedom to practice one’s religion without fear of being ostracized makes it all the worthwhile to be a Muslim in Singapore.

The Honour of Raising Daughters

Jan 11 - The honour of Raising daughters

By Ruhie Jamshaid

The birth of a child heralds hope and cheer in the life of a family. Needless to say, a child is a special gift from Allah (swt), and not everyone has the blessing of being a parent.

Ironically, while we understand the blessings of having a child, many amongst us tend to down-play the birth of a daughter. If distribution of Mithais (sweetmeats) and the resonance of ‘Mubaraks’ (congratulations) is seen and heard at the birth of a boy-child, the same excitement is often doused at the birth of a girl-child in most South Asian societies. Many still believe that only a male child can carry on the family name and be the flag-bearer of a legacy. Interestingly, our own Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) legacy was carried on by his daughter, Fatimah (rta) at a time when male offspring were considered to be a source of strength for the clan.

It is exclusively Allah (swt), Who decides whether one has sons or daughters, or both or none. Yet, as believers in the decree of Allah (swt), we must question our rather placid attitudes towards the birth of a girl. Why is it that we possess such differing reactions to the birth of a boy as opposed to a girl?

“Indeed, Allah has set a measure for all things.” (At-Talaq 65:3)

In His infinite wisdom, Allah (swt) has a plan for all of us, as we reside in His vast universe. He, the All-Knowing, knows what good therein lies for each one of us.

Therefore, when we are blessed with a girl-child, there is great benefit in it. In fact, the status of girls is often emphasized in Islam.

“Whoever has three daughters or sisters, or two daughters or two sisters, and lives along with them in a good manner, and has patience with them, and fears Allah with regard to them will enter Paradise.” (Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi and others)

Bringing up a girl-child to become a righteous Muslimah is a great honour and a doorway to Jannah. When we endow our daughters with a sound education, solid morals and thorough knowledge of their Deen, they become a force to reckon with. Strong, educated Muslim women will strengthen the future generations, because a mother is the main character-builder and groomer of her children.

The character of a Muslim girl must be honed holistically. Often, two extremes dominate – either we focus on grooming our daughters to become homebound individuals or motivate them to take on a career-orientated path in life. Taking either of these extreme paths can be hazardous. We must not forget that Islam has clearly segregated gender roles: women are to be the main home managers, while men are ordained to work externally to provide for their families. There is always wisdom in Allah’s (swt) decrees, and we must adhere to the rules.

Even though a woman’s main job is to manage the home, she is also often reminded to benefit society at large.

Abu Hurairah (rta) relates that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else’s problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant, as long as that servant is helping his brother.” (Muslim)

Hence, we must also mould our daughters to learn a skill or to gain knowledge, with which she would be able to add value to the Muslim Ummah. An intelligent and academically inclined Muslimah may choose to become a gynecologist, so as to provide the option of a female woman’s health physician. Some others may choose to teach, so as to dissipate knowledge to our fellow Muslims. We must remember that Aisha (rta), one of the mothers of the believers, was a scholar and had the privilege of reporting an enormous number of Ahadeeth based on the knowledge imparted to her by the Prophet (sa) himself. The Muslim Ummah is humbly indebted to her for her sincere service.

A woman is a brick that builds and strengthens the Muslim Ummah. To be blessed with a daughter is an honour we are bestowed upon by Allah (swt). We must strive to bring her up to be an exemplary Muslimah, for there is Allah’s (swt) great pleasure in doing so.

What does a Beautiful Soul look like?

beauty

By Ruhie Jamshaid

It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In Islam, however, Allah (swt) sets for us certain guidelines to live and decide by, so that personal human opinions are not involved. Even true beauty is defined in our religion. While in today’s world we fancy silken hair, fantastic figures, beautiful clothes and plastered make-up as the epitomes of great beauty, in Islam, the meaning of true beauty is understood to be something else.

In Islam, beauty of the soul is greatly emphasized over the outer, physical beauty. Therefore, the saying “beauty isn’t skin-deep” is absolutely true. The Quran and the Sunnah repeatedly remind us to avoid Tabarruj or the outer display of beauty.

Allah (swt), being our Creator, is All-Aware of the path to our happiness. Logically speaking, if we (men or women) are consumed by looking physically attractive in a culture of ‘showing-off,’ the development and beautification of our inner souls will inevitably suffer. For instance, we will be consumed with the desire of having lovely hair and spend hours enhancing its beauty, instead of spending that time and effort in uplifting our souls through Dhikr and prayers, or attending to our primary responsibilities, which is also a form of worship. And if we look at the total time involved in embellishing the beauty of such outwardly displayed body parts as eyes, skin and figure, we can well imagine how time-consuming the entire process would be!

Natural beauty, like all other good things, is a blessing bestowed upon us by Allah (swt), and we must appreciate it. It is good to look after ourselves and take care of our physical self. However, it is important to remember that inner beauty is far more permanent than any excellence in external appearance. Time ravages the outer beauty, but a beautiful soul will remain beautiful forever! Therefore, if Allah (swt) has granted us great outer beauty, we must appreciate this blessing. On the Day of Judgement, we will be questioned about it. Did we use this beauty to achieve wrongful means? Did we display it outlandishly and disobey Allah (swt) in the process?

Interestingly, it is no secret that physical beauty attracts others towards us, even if we are not overtly displaying it and are within the confines of the Hijab. If we have been bestowed with pleasant features, it is often easier for us to gain friends and, perhaps, do Dawah more effectively. Hence, we can use the gift of natural beauty to enhance our inner selves and further the cause of Allah (swt)!

We must always remember that the glamorous celebrities or the stunning friends or relatives we might admire are not necessarily more valued in the eyes of Allah (swt) than an average looking individual. Outer beauty as the yardstick for measuring our personality is set by humans, not Allah (swt).

This life, as we know, is temporary. With death being our ultimate fate, it is simply more sensible to spend a larger proportion of time on beautifying our souls for a better hereafter, than spend the same amount of time on enhancing our physical body, which we will leave behind in this Duniya! When life will seep out of us at the point of death, our physical beauty will probably be the least of the concerns. In fact, it will be the beauty of the soul, which will decide the ease of our passing into the hereafter.

It will be this beauty that will confer us a place in Jannah. And when Allah (swt) decrees for us to be the inhabitants of Jannah (Insha’Allah), our beauty will increase manifold.

Hence, in this lifetime, we must strive to obey Allah (swt) and do good deeds, because it will be our beautiful hearts (Qalb-e-Saleem) and not our physical attributes which will be the winners in the hereafter!

Stillbirth: A Tragic Reality

Vol 6 - Issue 3 StillbirthBy Ruhie Jamshaid 

Statistics show that approximately three per cent of all births in Pakistan are stillbirths. This is a relatively astounding figure; yet, much mystery surrounds the phenomenon of stillbirth. In a third of all the stillbirths, the causes are unidentified. Since some cases might not be reported, the occurrence of stillbirths might be higher in reality. Stillbirth is technically defined as the death of a foetus during the last trimester of pregnancy, specifically in the twentieth week or later. Only fourteen per cent of stillbirths occur during delivery, whereas the majority occur before. The death of a foetus at such a late stage may prove to be far more devastating for the mother and family than a miscarriage, as the baby is almost fully developed. Since by the last trimester the mother has also felt the movements of the child, the bond between her and the child is greater, as compared to a miscarriage. 

Causes 

There are several known causes of stillbirth:

Placental abruption: This is the most common cause of stillbirth, which occurs when the placenta strips away from the uterine wall resulting in the lack of oxygen for the foetus.

Chromosomal abnormalities: This is the main cause of early miscarriages. However, death of the foetus can occur at any time during the pregnancy due to chromosomal abnormalities.

Protein-S deficiency: Protein-S is a protein required to avoid blood clots. In a small percentage of pregnant women, the level of protein-S can suddenly drop during pregnancy, resulting in the clotting of blood in the umbilical cord. This can block oxygen transfer to the foetus.

Environmental factors: Malnutrition of the mother, bacterial infections (for example, listeriosis), growth retardation, cord that is tied around the neck of the foetus and physical shock can all lead to foetal death. Despite some known reasons for stillbirth, there are cases, when the cause of stillbirth remains unknown, due to no obvious signs or indications.

Prevention 

Pregnant women can take some precautions to lessen the possibility of stillbirth, such as balanced nutrition during pregnancy. Iodine deficiency, for example, is a known cause of stillbirth. Healthy food and good rest go a long way in safeguarding the baby.

Going for regular prenatal check-ups is also essential, especially if it is a high-risk pregnancy. Careful monitoring of a high-risk pregnancy helps to avoid stillbirth.

Monitoring the foetal movement is perhaps the best way to ensure that the baby is doing fine. After the twenty-fifth week, the pregnant mother can count the number of kicks. If ten or less kicks are recorded in a single day, help from a healthcare provider should be sought immediately.

One way to monitor the baby’s health at home is to invest in a foetal heart monitor. This allows us to ensure the presence of a heartbeat at our convenience. 

Grieving 

Sometimes, even despite the best efforts and care, a stillbirth can still occur. In such cases, it is important to go through the grieving period. For Muslims, having a proper burial gives the family a sense of closure. The grave of the child can serve as physical means for remembering the child. Even naming the child before burial helps the grieving family and serves in appeasing them. The family can feel comforted in the fact that they have fulfilled all their duties towards the child. Reading Surah Al-Fathiha and other Surahs of the Quran are also beneficial to the entire grieving process.

For us, as Muslims, it is important to put our faith in Allah (swt) and understand that life and death are solely in His hands. Understanding this can help us psychologically. It is also possible to try for another child, if Allah (swt) wills so. Keeping a positive outlook and faith in Allah (swt) will give the family of the deceased child the necessary strength for going through the grieving process.

Are you Welcoming Satan into your Home?

By Ruhie Jamshaid

The home is our sacred abode. It is a place away from the hustle and bustle of life that we retire to, in order to mend our souls and ‘recharge our batteries’. Home is a place of calmness and reflection, where we can be who we are and get in touch with our innermost selves. Therefore, our home, more than any other physical entity that we possess, needs to be protected from the lure of Satan.

Allowing Satan’s presence in our homes can strip our mental peace and undermine our faith and closeness to Allah (swt). Therefore, it is important to shield the four walls of our hearth and home from the presence of Satan. To do so, we need to recognize the characteristics of homes which openly invite his evil.

Homes Devoid of the Remembrance of Allah (swt)

When Allah (swt) ceases to exist in our hearts and minds, Satan finds a place to be in it. It is important to continuously remember Allah (swt) through Dhikr. The remembrance of Allah (swt) can take many forms: with the heart and mind, through prayers, reading of the Quran or other Islamic literature or simply by discussing certain Islamic issues. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The example of a home, in which Allah is remembered, and the example of a home, in which Allah is not remembered, is like comparing the living and the dead.” (Muslim)

Homes, where Salah is not performed regularly, open their doors to evil. Indeed, Salah is the first line of defense against the evil whisperings of Satan. Praying together as a family has a manifold effect against Satan. It is a good idea for family members to pray together in Jamah, even with the servants joining in.

The amazing power of Quranic recitation, especially a few designated Surahs, cannot be underestimated. Surah Al-Baqarah and Ayat-ul-Kursi have been specifically cited as the keys to keeping Satan away. The Prophet (sa) said: “Recite Surah Al-Baqarah in your houses, for the Satan does not enter a house in which Surah Al-Baqarah is recited.” (Jami)

He (sa) also said: “When you go to your bed, recite Ayat-ul-Kursi: ‘Allah! There is no god but Him, the Ever-Living, the One Who Sustains and Protects all that exists,’ to the end, for then there will remain over you a guardian from Allah, and Satan will not come near you until morning.” (Bukhari)

Having Allah (swt) continuously in our consciousness within the folds of the home dishevels Satan and his evil devices. It is important to have Islamic audiotapes, visual CDs and books within easy reach for every family member, including children. Easy access to Islamic knowledge ensures the seepage of Allah’s (swt) words into our consciousness, thereby upsetting Satan. Un-Islamic programmes on television or mindless music serve the contrary – inviting Satan to be a part of our home.

We must also inculcate the habit of remembering Allah (swt) regularly in the little, daily things we do. Doing so lays down barriers to Satan’s entry into our lives at every little step.

Homes Devoid of Practicing Sunnah

Nowadays, western pop stars and Hollywood actors are looked upon as examples to emulate. For the believing Muslim, there isn’t and there shouldn’t be anyone more ideal than the Prophet (sa) to follow. His every action was for pleasing Allah (swt) and ‘upsetting’ Satan. Therefore, it is important to emulate the Prophet (sa) as closely as we can within our homes to avert Satan’s grip on those that dwell in our abodes.

One of the dictates that the Prophet (sa) abided by strictly within his own home was that of kindness. He said: “When Allah wills some good towards the people of a household, He introduces kindness among them.” (Ahmad)

He (sa) also said: “Allah is gentle and loves gentleness. He gives for gentleness what He does not give for harshness nor for anything else.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) showed kindness towards his family in several ways. For example, he would help his wife Aisha (rta) with housework or be playful and gentle with his grandchildren. The acts of consideration and kindness serve to sow the seeds of love and peace within our homes, thereby expelling Satan’s influences of anger, hatred and discord.

The Prophet (sa) also advocated certain rules for safeguarding the home. They included guarding the secrets of the home, seeking permission before entering rooms, especially the parents’ room, and avoiding staying overnight away from one’s own home to safeguard the morals of members of one’s family.

Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (sa) forbade being alone and said that a man should not stay overnight alone or travel alone. (Ahmad) Not only will he be alone, but his wife and children are likely to be left alone in the home, without any protection or companionship.

Homes Conducive to Evil and Evil Deeds

A home, where every member of the family seeks to practice righteousness and justice, alienates Satan. Every household member should be encouraged by the head of the house to be fair and just towards others, including the servants, because just behaviour lessens reason for discord, thereby discouraging Satan from sowing his seeds of evil.

Mingling with and inviting only righteous people into our homes is also a good strategy for expelling Satan. We greatly benefit practically and spiritually from the company of righteous people. Our Prophet (sa) said: “Keep company with a believer only, and let your food be eaten only by the righteous.” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi) Therefore, it is important to ‘invest’ in meaningful friendships that invite Allah’s (swt) pleasure and Satan’s displeasure.

It is also wise to pay attention to decorations in our homes. It has become fashionable to display strange aesthetic idols and to make our homes modern in design. Instead of incorporating photos and statues in our homes, it is a better idea to decorate our homes and hearts with beautiful calligraphy of Surahs and Allah’s (swt) names. If the accursed Satan meets Allah’s (swt) words at every nook and corner of our home, he is sure to be disheartened!

Conclusion

A home is built by the people living within – by their actions and deeds. If a house has dwellers that have united in marriage with the sole intention of building an Islamic home, it has already laid the first ‘brick’ in the foundation of closing its doors to Satan. Due to his evil disposition, Satan will be persistent in diverting believers from the path of Allah (swt) and the battle to shut our doors to his mischief will be an ongoing one. However, if we, Insha’Allah, guard the sanctity of our abodes by following the dictates of our religion, we will overcome the evil and bring blessings to our homes.

Review: “Taare Zameen Par”

By Ruhie Jamshaid

It really is not the norm to find a review of a movie amongst the pages of “Hiba” magazine, but we make an exception here and for deserved reasons. Read on…

There are many movies one may feel guilty of watching, but none can claim to look into a child’s mind and heart like “Taare Zameen Par” does. This movie isn’t the standard better-to-be avoided Bollywood potboiler with jarring music and mindless story-telling. Produced and directed by Aamir Khan, “Taare Zameen Par” educates about the very real but often misunderstood learning disability of dyslexia.

The protagonist of the movie is eight-year old Ishaan Awasthi (played by master Darsheel Safary), who often gets lost in his dream world. Scribbling drawings and day-dreaming seem to be all he does the whole day. Everyone from his teachers, neighbours to his parents seem to be at their wits end trying to figure out and straighten his ‘irresponsible’ behavior, as they perceive it to be. He often has no answers in class, never does his homework and is not able to write legibly. After much deliberation, Ishaan is sent by his parents to a boarding school with the hope of inculcating discipline in him much to his unhappiness.

At the boarding school, nothing much changes. On the contrary, Ishaan’s situation gets worse. He withdraws into his shell. Feeling abandoned by his family, he is unable to perform effectively in his academics. It is at this point that his teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (played by Aamir Khan) enters Ishaan’s life and discovers that Ishaan has an exceptional artistic talent and is actually very intelligent. Ram ascertains the fact that Ishaan is struggling through school and life at large because of dyslexia. The rest of the movie is about Ishaan’s strivings to rectify his learning disability with his teacher’s support, understanding and love, bouncing back to meet his true potential.

The movie is touching and heart-wrenching. One can’t help but feel overcome by emotions watching Ishaan’s struggles. “Taare Zameen Par” enlightens the viewers about dyslexia and the ways, how this learning disability can cripple the otherwise untapped talent and intelligence hidden in an innocent child, marring his self-esteem and progress in life. It reminds us to accept the fact that every child is created different, and that we need to curb our adult tendencies to force our children to conform to norms, without understanding our children as individuals.

“Taare Zameen Par” is surely an eye-opener for every parent out there. This movie can be recommended for its excellence in teaching about dyslexia and for its strong message of unconditional acceptance, which is conveyed in simple and touching terms, without the trappings of a typical movie.

Marriage – A Spiritual Boon

By Ruhie Jamshaid

“And those who say: ‘Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqun.’ Those will be rewarded with the highest place (in Paradise) because of their patience. Therein they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace and respect.” (Al-Furqan 25:74-75)

When I got married almost seven years ago, I did not quite truly comprehend the importance of the act. Many of us look at marriage as a natural transition in life; something inevitable and socially necessary. I was no different.

But with the advent of my life in this new direction of matrimony, I realized the weight of the Hadeeth I had so often heard – according to Anas Ibn Malik (rta), Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of the Deen; so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half.” (At-Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi)

Indeed, I realized why half of my faith was being fulfilled now, as opposed to my days of single-hood. If earlier I had lived mostly for myself under the safe shade of my father’s roof, then with marriage, I had suddenly become doubly responsible … for myself and for my spouse, and sometimes even for his family and he for mine. From ‘me’ the life transformed to ‘us.’ My husband and I both had to find a balance on the see-saw of life to keep afloat a marital home based on the principles of our faith.

The compromises had to be two-fold from both of us to varying degrees. Things that my husband had taken for granted during his pre-marriage days, such as his weekly three-hour tennis sessions, had to come to an end or get shortened drastically. My repulsion to enter the kitchen had to be defaced, and I had to learn to love cooking, because a good meal meant a lot to my husband. We both also had to delve deep within ourselves and modify certain personality traits, in order to ensure peace in the home and, hence, earn the pleasure of Allah (swt). It was suddenly about self-improvement and reflection, instead of a mindless existence.

With our family growing and children coming into the picture, there had to be a greater Jihad within. The ‘us’ carried much more weight now. My husband and I both had to extinguish certain facets of ourselves for the greater benefit of our children and family. We had to guard our prayers twice as hard, watch our words zealously and even eat far more healthily than we previously did, because we wanted to impact our flesh and blood correctly and seek the pleasure of Allah (swt) in the process. We had to be careful to uplift our body, mind and soul, because we had to lead by example now – young, eager eyes were watching us and absorbing all information that was to mould their lives.

Seven years from that fateful day of my marriage, I see that many changes have taken place in both my husband and I. Although life isn’t as free and frolicking as it used to be, it certainly is a lot more meaningful. There is this sense of purpose, a Jihad if you will, in living each day as a Muslim family. And I certainly feel closer to Allah (swt). When we have an argument, it isn’t about who’s right, but more so about if this is what Allah (swt) says is right. We try to research Islamic literature to find answers to our conflicts, thereby inevitably learning more about Islam. When I feel drained under the weight of my duties as a mother and wife, I recharge my soul by reminding myself that it isn’t about me but about doing what is required and right for the sake of Allah (swt). There is that constant reaffirmation of faith. Each single day is a Jihad in Allah’s (swt) way.

As a modern Muslimah, though I am clear about my family being a priority in the scheme of things in my life, I also remind myself that I have to be of service to society. My children are growing up, and there will come a time, when they will be far less dependent on me and will ‘fly’ out into the world from my loving nest. Hence, I also reserve a part of me to prepare for that day of having my nest somewhat empty. I try to do extra courses and also have a home-based communications business. I write for personal and professional reasons to stay connected with the world beyond my home. I make sure I exercise and keep healthy. I read to have intelligent things to talk about to my husband and children. I try to learn about Islam as much as I can.

I remind myself constantly not to drown completely and overwhelmingly in my role as a wife and a mother but also to develop more wholly by keeping in mind that I am also a daughter, a friend, a writer… a person in my own right. After all, isn’t making the best of one’s existence for the eventual pleasure of Allah (swt) what life is about?

In trying to be a well-rounded Muslimah, I seek to add value to my role as a mother and a wife. Being a good mother and wife isn’t about just the practical demands of the job. I have to be a source of knowledge and example for my children. I have to be able to walk beside my husband and support him in his role as the head of the family. It is only when I myself grow in worldly matters and in those concerning the path of Imaan that I will be a source of guidance and support to my children and husband and in the process build a strong Muslim family for the pleasure of Allah (swt). As a Muslimah, I have this great role of preparing my children to be capable members of the Muslim Ummah, and I have to be proactive in order to achieve it.

Marriage, overall, is a great spiritual boon. Having a God-fearing spouse as my ‘worldly’ guardian to remind me to thread the right path is a great gift. Having the responsibility of molding my children to become capable members of the Ummah is a blessing. Having an aim, a purpose every single day is enlightening. Indeed, marriage completes a major part of our faith and makes living a lot more meaningful.

(Share your marital life accounts with our readers. Maybe you are the inspiration they are looking for in their lives! Send your real life stories to editor@hibamagazine.com)