Hajj: Exemptions and Misconceptions

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Hajj

“I am going for Hajj this year!” exclaims a family friend at a wedding. As she is engulfed in squeals of delight, warm prayers and congratulatory hugs from other Muslim sisters, she starts off providing details of her preparations for the short-but-sweet winter Hajj. As the days of Hajj in Dhul Hijjah fall in the winter months, more people are opting to perform Hajj while the weather is cool. Hajj in Islam is an obligation that comes with pre-conditions and pre-requisites. Therefore, it is important for Muslims to know all its aspects, in order to ensure that it will be accepted by Allah (swt), once they do perform it.
The first question that arises for a Muslim is: “Is Hajj obligatory upon me?” The answer to that depends upon the following conditions: A Muslim should be over puberty and physically able to make the journey.A Muslim should be able to afford the journey financially. A Muslim woman should be accompanied by a Mahram man (her husband or a male relative, whom she cannot marry). There are several other factors, depending upon the person’s personal circumstances, which determine whether or not they are obliged to go for Hajj. Listed below are the reasons behind exempting some Muslims from Hajj: 

The elderly, who is too weak 

Muslims, who are too old or weak to be able to perform Hajj, i.e., they cannot endure the physical hardships of the journey, are exempted from performing it. However, they may delegate another Muslim, who has already fulfilled their own obligation of Hajj, to perform it on their behalf. This is known as Hajj Badal. Narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta) from the Prophet (sa), who heard a man saying: “Here I am (O Allah), on behalf of Shubrumah.” He said: “Have you done Hajj for yourself?” He said: “No.” He said: “Do Hajj for yourself first; then, on behalf of Shubrumah.” (Abu Dawood)

The sick or physically incapacitated Muslim 

Someone could have broken a leg, undergone recent surgery, or be sick, with risk of his sickness worsening by travelling. If the doctor advises against travelling, Hajj is not obligatory upon such a Muslim, until his or her agility is restored. Shaikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid states: “One of the conditions of Hajj being obligatory is that a person should be free of physical illness and disability that would prevent him from performing Hajj. If a person is suffering from a chronic illness, permanent disability, paralysis (that makes him unable to walk) or is very old and unable to move about, then there is no obligation to perform Hajj.”

The one, who doesn’t possess sufficient wealth/money to afford the journey 

The wealth needed for Hajj is of three types: (1) the fare needed to travel to Saudi Arabia, (2) the money needed for food, lodging, transport and other expenses during the entire Hajj journey and (3) the money needed by the pilgrim’s dependents during his absence. If a Muslim cannot provide for all these expenses, Hajj is not obligatory upon him.
Some Muslim parents assume that Hajj is not obligatory upon them, if they have one or more unmarried daughters, until all of them are married, i.e., they are no longer their financial responsibility. There is no basis for this belief in Islamic Shariah. Having to save for extravagant wedding-party expenses and such un-Islamic customs as dowry cannot be used as flimsy excuses for delaying Hajj. Many Muslims assume that if they cannot afford Hajj at all, they can take money from close relatives, borrow it from others, or win it in unlawful money-making schemes to perform it. For performing Hajj, a Muslim must not resort to asking others for money, taking a bank loan or using money won in a lottery or obtained as Riba. Rather, he should wait until Allah (swt) makes him self-sufficient in this regard, by conscientiously trying to save enough money over time. Hajj that is performed with unlawful wealth is not accepted. 

The one, who is in debt 

If a Muslim is in debt, he doesn’t have to perform Hajj until his debt has been paid off.
“If a person is in debt and can neither perform Hajj nor pay off the debt, then he should start by paying off the debt, and Hajj is not obligatory for him.” (Islam-QA.com) Most Western Muslims assume that since they have acquired houses on mortgage, they are exempt from Hajj for the loan payback period. Shaikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, advises these Muslims:
“If your monthly mortgage payments are due and outstanding, then you are not allowed to perform Hajj, until they have been paid. If they are not outstanding, and you have made arrangements for payments to be made when they become due – should they become due during your absence – then you are eligible to go for Hajj. In other words, you don’t have to wait for your house to be fully paid to be eligible to perform Hajj. Having said this, however, I must add a reminder: one must strive earnestly and sincerely to get out of mortgage as quickly as possible. No Muslim, who is serious about his religion, should ever look at interest lightly.”

The Muslim woman, whose Mahrams refuse to accompany her, despite her insistence 

If a Muslim woman has enough money to perform Hajj, but none of her Mahram relatives agrees to accompany her, then Hajj is not obligatory upon her. Having a Mahram companion for Hajj is an obligatory condition for a Muslim woman. The Saudi Government doesn’t allow a woman to perform Hajj unless she states someone as a Mahram for the trip, i.e., provides a name of a person who is travelling with her, along with the type of Mahram relationship she has with him (i.e. brother, father, husband, son etc.). In that case, it becomes wrong to forge a stranger’s identity as a Mahram to perform Hajj, because it’s a lie.

As for the Islamic ruling, the wives of the Prophet (sa) did Hajj together after his demise without a Mahram; someone was appointed as a Mahram for them. So, Islamically, it’ll be alright to go without a Mahram, in a ladies-only group, as long as proper arrangements for a woman’s safety have been made.

However, it is better to go with a Mahram, since the wives of the Prophet were mothers of the Muslims and hence everyone thought of them as such. Women today might be more vulnerable to fraud etc. on the way if they do not have a Mahram with them. Finally, Muslims should strive to seek authentic knowledge about Hajj and hasten to perform it out of sincere devotion to Allah (swt), if they are among the ones on whom it has become obligatory. The Prophet (sa) said (on authority of Ibn Abbas (rta)): “He, who intends to perform Hajj, should hasten to do so.” (Abu Dawood)

Unlocking Horns – Conflict Resolution


Are you a member of the younger or middle generation, struggling to handle family and/or marriage-related problems resulting from familial ‘interference’ in your life?

The first thing to remember is that no matter what your elderly parents do, you have to honour them as much as possible and be patient with them. Never rebuke or snap at them. It is equally important to remember that, as Muslims, pointing out and stopping their injustices is also an obligation. Here are some tips to help you towards effective conflict resolution:

(1) If your parents or other family elders do something that causes chronic anger, hurt feelings or discord between you and your spouse, follow the method of arbitration, as outlined by the Quran (4:35), and request a trustworthy, Allah-fearing and sincere mutual relative to intercede on your behalf and convey to them your points of concern and complain. The most common issues, based on my limited experience, because of which the need for such arbitration might arise are: elderly parents giving blatant preference to daughters over daughters-in-law in terms of love, attention and treatment meted out to grandchildren; interference, manipulation and control that exceeds the boundaries of privacy and independence, especially in how and where the sons’ money is spent; coercing one married son to live with them in their house, but allowing the other sons to live as nuclear families; dictating the Tarbiyah of grandchildren, and so on.

(2) Contact a religious scholar and ask them to advise your elders. This might backfire, as your parents or parents-in-law might feel insulted or humiliated before a religious authority. As an alternative, write a letter to your elders, and/or print out relevant Fatawa by scholars to let them know how their actions are wrong in the eyes of Allah (swt). This method should be used especially for those elders, who unapologetically commit actions that are Haram (such as lying, Gheebah (backbiting) and slander), and who become very defensive in person, continuing to argue and answer back, until their adult child is silenced into grudging submission.

(3) If arbitration and writing doesn’t work, and your parents or parents-in-law continue injustice or any other action that is a sin in Islam, use the rights, freedoms and independence that Allah (swt) has afforded you through His Deen to incorporate a temporary distancing from them or a moderation of visits or interaction that will prevent further discord. Please note: this solution should be employed only in cases of necessity, when the level of marital discord between a husband and wife due to family interference has reached a ‘red-flag’ level (i.e., divorce or separation is imminent), or when a person starts to suffer extreme mental distress or depression because of the actions of their parents or parents-in-law.

(4) If nothing else seems to work, pray to Allah (swt) for guidance and relief. Acknowledge that this is a test from Allah (swt) and be patient. For the men, who find themselves sandwiched between their parents and wives/children – take this as your training to ‘become a man’ and learn to juggle/balance both sides of your family with tact and diplomacy.

Often bring to mind the tremendous debt you owe your parents for raising you. Never forget the Ihsan they have done towards you, which you will never be able to repay.

Recalling the way they tolerated your mischief throughout your childhood will soften your heart towards them and help you overlook their injustice, Insha’Allah!

An Open Letter to the Family’s Elders

Open Letter to Family Elders

In Pakistan, discussions in social gatherings often turn towards the ‘pathetic’ economic and political situation of the country, with elders at the fore in criticizing the leaders and masses for their misdeeds. It is now fashionable not only to disparage Pakistan’s leaders, but to also consider one’s self justified in doing it.

A reminder: criticizing and lampooning figures of authority behind their backs is Gheebah. Just because our leaders are corrupt doesn’t mean we are allowed to sling mud upon their honour.

That being said, Islam has not stopped the common masses from correcting their leader directly, preferably in private, when he makes a mistake. For this reason, even if the Imam makes a mistake in obligatory Salah, his followers in the congregation are obliged to point it out to him by saying, “Subhan’Allah.”

There are levels of leadership in an Islamic society, and they all involve authority and accountability. For example, families have leaders, too, who are accountable before Allah (swt) for their mistakes. Advancement in age doesn’t change the seriousness of this accountability before Allah (swt).

What happens as family leaders age, however, is that they eventually have no one older than them alive, who can scold and correct them, which might give them a false sense of absolute authority over their younger subordinates. This can make it easier for them to go on making mistakes, until the younger ones in the family muster up the courage to try and correct them.

Result? Often, denial.

Undercurrents of tension in joint families

The scores of emails and comments I receive on my blog from the ‘middle generation’ – married Muslims with young children – point towards a reality that no one today likes to talk about: family problems that exist in almost every outwardly smoothly running joint family household.

Rights in Islam that elderly parents do not possess

Most of us are well-aware of the extremely high rights to obedience and good treatment that Allah (swt) has afforded to parents in Islam. Even if they are oppressive, cruel, sinful, outright misguided or non-Muslims, their children, young or old, cannot rebuke, insult or mistreat them in any way. I will not detail these rights here, because most of us are aware of them.

What I would like to do, instead, is address our society elders and remind them of the rights that they, as parents, do not have, especially if they are financially self-sufficient and physically healthy:

(1) Elderly parents do not have the right to control their adult, married offspring in the realm of permissible things in Islam, such as what style, colour, or brand of clothes they wear, which car they buy, or whether they eat cereal or eggs for breakfast. They can give consultation and wisely-worded, appropriately-timed advice, but in the end, the adult son or daughter cannot be manipulated or coerced to do exactly as they please.

(2) Parents do not have the right to insult, deride, ridicule or humiliate their married son or daughter in front of others, especially before the latter’s spouse, children or in-laws. Maligning another’s honour is a sin in Islam, and parental authority is not a ticket to absolution from other sins. So, what can be said about scolding a daughter-in-law or son-in-law for falling short in tasks that are not even their obligatory Islamic duties, such as accidentally burning the rice or wearing their own choice of clothes to a dinner party?

(3) Parents do not have the right to walk into their married son’s or daughter’s private bedroom area without prior permission. Any area, in which a husband and wife enjoy exclusive privacy, is off-limits by default, until permission is given, even for their parents. On the same token, the parents of adult children should not go through the cupboards, wallets, handbags, bank account statements, attaché cases or dressers of their married son or daughter without permission.

(4) Just as elderly parents have exclusive rights upon their adult children, they too, have exclusive rights upon theirs. Grandparents do not have the final say about decisions related to grandchildren; the children’s own parents, especially their mothers, do. Yes, this means that a daughter-in-law has greater rights over her children than her parents-in-law do. If there is ever any worldly matter, in which she wants her child to do one thing, and a grandparent wants him or her to do another (such as what food to eat and what television programme to watch), then according to Allah’s (swt) laws, she deserves to be obeyed by her child three times more than not just the grandparent, but also their son (i.e., her husband).

(5) Elderly people should fear Allah (swt) regarding their children. An elder above the age of sixty or seventy is like a valuable gem for their family. They are indeed fortunate, if all of their children are well-settled, happily married and enjoying loving marital relationships. Elders should not let their authority, advanced age or personal insecurities initiate problems in their children’s homes.

(6) Age is nothing but a number. When a parent crosses the age of sixty, if they are financially self-sufficient and free from physical domestic duties (especially of raising children), they should try to keep themselves occupied in positive work and beneficial hobbies. They can attend new courses, teach/mentor others, volunteer at welfare organizations, and revitalize their worship of Allah (swt). For example, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the head of the 1000-year-old Al-Azhar University, was eighty-one, when he died in Madinah, where he had travelled to attend an award ceremony. Japanese doctor, Shigeaki Hinohara, is still working as a physician and professor at age of one hundred. Wahiduddin Khan is still writing Islamic books at the age of eighty-seven.

(7) If elders have any surviving elderly relatives of their own besides their parents, such as an ailing aunt, uncle or distant cousin, they should visit them and help them. It will take their mind off from worries of when their son or daughter last visited and prevent them constantly missing their out-of-town grandchildren.

The more mental and physical independence, space and respect elders will give to their adult, married offspring (and their spouses), the more love and joy they will enjoy in their homes, Insha’Allah.

A Believer’s Attitude During Fitnah and Tribulations


We are living in times frequently interspersed with a myriad of trials, tribulations and natural disasters. These disturbing events, whether natural or human-incited, cause depression, despair, chaos and socioeconomic problems. Earthquakes, war, civil strife, tyrannical ruling regimes, rebellious social uprisings, crime, permissive youth culture, family breakups and terrorism have become daily headlines. Yet, the harshest tribulations that undermine peace and security in the Muslim Ummah today are internal discord, dissension and divisions.

Ibn Al-Arabi summed up the meanings of Fitnah, when he said: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

During Fitnah, the Haqq (truth) and Baatil (falsehood) become blurry. Fitnah leaves most lay-Muslims going about their daily lives often very confused about what to do. How to keep anxiety at bay and hopes high? Whom from the two propagators of opposing views to consider on the right path? Whom to applaud and whom to condemn?

Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) forewarned us about an onslaught of tribulations and discord near the time, when the mankind will be in its last era. He said: “Time will pass quickly, good deeds will decrease, miserliness will be thrown (in people’s hearts), Fitan will appear, and there will be much Al-Haraj.” The Sahabah enquired: “O Messenger of Allah! What is Al-Haraj?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Killing! Killing!” (Bukhari)

Even though we cannot claim that mankind has entered this time, the fact is that even since the last century, there has been a great surge in the diverse kinds and regularity of Fitnah.

The question is: what should a believer’s attitude be like during Fitnah?


Part of Sabr, or forbearance, is for a believer not to show an immediate outburst or be hasty in judgment. This includes the incidents of killings or religious conflicts and natural disasters, which end thousands of livelihoods and sweep away entire towns. Silently, the believer deliberates and slowly takes it all in at first.

When Fitnah or dissension is at its peak, opponents on either side of a debate or conflict pressurize religious authorities, influential political figures, governments or even the laypeople to take sides immediately, especially in this age of powerful digital online media and instant communication. In such a situation, a believer’s silence is perceived as betrayal – if he or she remains quiet, their loyalty to Islam itself is questioned.

Refraining from Jumping on the Bandwagon and Taking Sides

When confusion, chaos and opinions are streaming in from all sides, a cautious Muslim endeavors to obey the Prophet’s (sa) advice and keeps his mouth shut, absorbing the influx of content with an unprejudiced mind.

Any wise person knows that nowadays media reports are mostly sensationalized, exaggerated and intentionally repeated numerous times, in order to sustain consistent viewership and acquire sponsors. Even in written publications, scathing write-ups penned by emotionally-charged journalists invite readers to form a strong opinion without being objective.

Abstention from Expressing Opinions Publicly

In today’s age, the multifaceted, round-the-clock media avenues entice a layman to express an opinion about specific individuals, organizations, governments and figures of authority.

Blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook status updates overflow with a deluge of accusations, rants, abuse, hate speech and public disparagement of others, especially famous celebrities, supposedly “wayward” religious groups and, primarily, leaders and politicians.

Whether the stimulus is a crime committed in broad daylight or the nature of the crime itself in the light of Islamic jurisprudence, television, online media and smartphones churn out incessant opinion editorials, blog posts, articles, live phone calls made on air, Fatwa’s and heated discussions.

The wise Muslim knows that adding another voice to this cacophony will just add fuel to the fire. Hence, difficult though it is, he or she tries to avoid forming or voicing a hard-line opinion, when news of a fresh event reaches them, as they know that doing this will cause no benefit.

Turning to Allah (swt) and Making Dua

It is a teaching of Islam that we should never draw final conclusions about anything, unless a clear proof exists.

A believer knows this and thus turns to Allah (swt). Following the occurrence of a Fitnah, he or she makes the earnest Dua and Dhikr as well as establishes devout prayers late at night, in order to ask Allah (swt) to make the truth about matters and people become clear to him.

Not Passing Verdicts Against Others

Today, the Muslim Ummah is blessed with numerous Islamic scholars. One issue that often arises is how the `Urf Makan (the set of customs of a country or continent, where Muslims reside) differs from that in place elsewhere on the globe.

Hence, every scholar is not equipped to pass verdicts regarding situations faced by Muslims in another part of the world. This means that Fatawa, which apply to Muslims in one place, might not apply to those in another. Average Muslims, however, overlook this factor, when they quote Fatawa from one scholar that are apparently contradictory to those issued by another. Result? Blurring of truth from falsehood.

The optimum approach is to adopt a dignified silence, not get into arguments and avoid quoting Fatawa at the merest enticement. When we have qualified scholars and certified Mufti’s among us, we should leave their work to them.

The Prophet said, “Whoever among you lives (for a long time), will see many differences. I urge you to follow my Sunnah and the way of the rightly-guided Khalifahs, which come after me. Hold on to it firmly…” (Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi)

Advice given by Prophet Muhammad (sa) and the words of his noble companions are like preserved gold. Obeying their words will enable us to save our hearts from disease and will provide us relief from the destructive effects of oft-occurring trials and tribulations.

Book Reviews (Women Power)


Title: Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage

Author: Sadaf Farooqi

Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH)

Pages: 195

Availability: Da’wah Books, Khadda Market, DHA Phase 5, Karachi / IIPH Online Store (www.iiph.com.sa)

Are you getting married or know anybody who is about to ‘tie the knot’? Do consider investing in this informative book by Hiba’s seasoned writer, Sadaf Farooqi, who has done extensive Quran and Sunnah based research into the topic of marriage and Muslim family life.

The book consists of nineteen chapters, leading the readers through the full range of family-related topics: lessons for single Muslims, guidelines on marital intimacy and tips for the expecting Muslims, advice for Muslim parents, insights into living in a joint family system and many more. The writer tackles such debated topics as the Hoor al-Een of Paradise and discusses the contemporary causative factors and issues of divorce. The book concludes on a refreshingly optimistic note – you live only once so start living your life.

In this book, you will find an up-to-date comprehensive guide for overcoming the trials of marital life and building a long-lasting, loving relationship between a husband and a wife.

Title: Great Women of Islam (who were given the good news of Paradise)

Author: Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar

Publisher: Darussalam

Availability: Darussalam showroom and online shop

Online: http://d1.islamhouse.com/data/en/ih_books/single/en_Great_Women_of_Islam.pdf

In this book, Mahmood Ahmad Ghandafar showcases a treasured collection to the readers – the stories of the Mothers of Believers and sixteen other women companions of the Prophet (sa) who, during their lifetime only, were given the glad tidings of being admitted to Paradise.

The book starts with a general chapter on the achievements of women companions, enumerating their successes in the fields of religion, politics, education, fine arts, trade and commerce. The subsequent chapters bring detailed life stories of the Prophet’s (sa) wives and other Sahabiyat.  The author underlines the very active and courageous nature of the women of the time, who nursed the wounded soldiers at the battlefield and worked extensively on the spreading Islam to disbelievers.

The book is an excellent resource for studying the characters of these great women and the qualities which have granted them the elevated status of being admitted to Paradise. Muslim women of any age will find in it role models they can follow and emulate, Insha’Allah.

Colours of the Quran

Colours of the Quran

By Sadaf Farooqi

“Nay, indeed it (these Verses of this Quran) is an admonition, so whoever wills, let him pay attention to it.” (Abasa, 80:11-12)

It was during my teens that I picked up a translation of the Quran in my quest for identity. I wanted to know, why I was born, what Allah (swt) required of me in the form of duties and responsibilities, and how I should spend my life, in order to make Him (swt) pleased.

Since then, more than a decade on, this Glorious Book has filled up my life with the most beautiful and vibrant colours, making it resonate with spiritual fulfillment. Here are my top five tips which will help you feel as fulfilled through it.

  1. Recite it and read a translation/exegesis:

Reciting the Quran fills the heart with solace, the soul with peace and the house with blessings. It makes you feel close to Allah (swt) and alleviates grief. Daily recitation of the Quran, especially after Fajr prayer, is the best remedy for keeping oneself on the path of righteousness. Reading is one of the most fulfilling pastimes; one pursued zealously by millions. A good understanding of reality can be obtained, if the Quran is understood by reading its translation and Tafseer by an approved scholar.

  1. Memorize it:

Having Divine words ensconced in your heart enables you to stand in supererogatory prayers at night and feel especially close to Allah (swt), when He (swt) puts the right Surahs in your mind, granting you insight into the reality of the life of this world.

  1. Listen to it attentively:

One can listen to a tape of the Quran – its recitation or explanation by a scholar – whilst in the car or at home. Alternatively, attending a Quranic class is one of the best ways of reflecting upon it by listening to it intently. Any student of Islamic knowledge would testify to the feeling of enlightenment that is gained at a Quranic class.

  1. Act upon it:

The Quran is a book that was sent as a guidance for all mankind; it should be adhered to in the real life. Therefore, we should act upon its commands or, at the very least, intend to act upon them, when pursuing its knowledge.
From fulfilling covenants, taking loans, leaving behind inheritance, social etiquette and Dawah methodology to family ethics and executing criminal justice – the Quran guides us completely how to live life individually and in society.

  1. Teach it to others:

It sounds very fancy to say, “I teach the Quran”, but in reality, propagating the Quran can be as simple as inviting a few sisters over for tea and spending half an hour reading some Surahs. Everyone can then discuss, how to apply what they have learnt to their lives. The point is to open up the Quran for Dawah and reflect upon it on a regular basis. The benefits of teaching it to others outweigh those of reflecting upon it in seclusion. The bond that forms between Muslims on the basis of studying the Quran together is indescribable. It is sincere and unworldly love, solely for the sake of Allah; one that transcends petty motives for gains, and spans entire lifetimes.

The Quran has filled my life with vibrant colours, enriched my soul with its beneficial knowledge, and guided me to feel especially close to Allah (swt), my Creator. Wouldn’t you also want to do the same?

Learning to Lead

Learning to Lead

In the Light of the Quran and the Sunnah

By Binte Aqueel, Hina Jamal, J. Samia Mair and Sadaf Farooqi

While Muslims often complain about having a crisis of leadership, paradoxically, there seems to be no dearth of self-proclaimed leaders – people, who think they have everything required to lead the community and are ready to fight for it.

Today, countries, groups, organisations and Masajid have become mired in an ugly struggle for power. Often, a person stands up to fill an essential leadership void in the community, considering himself/herself best fit for the role. Campaigning, electioneering and lobbying are often followed by dirty politics, mudslinging and rivalry. Soon, all those involved in the noble bid to provide a good leadership seem to have lost their goal somewhere in the fight for power. All that matters now is their or their party’s winning at any cost.

Sounds familiar? Sadly, this is the dilemma many countries and organisations face. The quest for good leadership often brings out greed and lust for power not only in country politics but also in the college and work life groups. Everyone wants a leadership position, and they are prepared to go to any lengths to acquire it.

Seeking Leadership

Interestingly, Islam discourages the practice of seeking leadership. In Islam, leadership is an Amanah (trust) and a huge responsibility. The early Muslims used to cry, when they were given a position of authority, out of fear of not being able to discharge it properly.

The Prophet (sa) is reported to have said that anyone, who seeks leadership, is not fit to assume it. Once, two men entered upon the Prophet (sa). One of them said: “O, Allah’s Apostle! Appoint me as governor,” and so did the second. The Prophet (sa) said: “We do not assign the authority of ruling to those who ask for it, nor to those who are keen to have it.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “You people will be keen to have the authority of ruling, which will be a thing of regret for you on the Day of Resurrection.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) advised Abdur Rahman Ibn Samurah (rta): “Do not seek to be a ruler, for if you are given authority on your demand, you will be held responsible for it, but if you are given it without asking for it, then you will be helped (by Allah) in it. If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then do what is better and make expiation for your oath.” (Bukhari)

This is not to say, however, that taking up a leadership role is wrong or discouraged. Indeed, the Prophet (sa) encouraged his followers to take up a responsibility, when it was entrusted to them. He said: “Whoever is given responsibility of some matter of the Muslims but withdraws himself, while they are in dire need and poverty, Allah will withdraw Himself from him, while he is in dire need and poverty on the Day of Requital.” (Abu Dawood)

It is discouraged to seek a leadership position out of greed and desire for power. Actions are based on intentions, and we must not doubt anyone’s intentions.

Empowerment and Delegation

Life is an ongoing cycle of events, one of which is that all leaders are eventually replaced. For such transitions to be as smooth as possible, a leader should prepare his subordinates to be able to efficiently take on leadership roles in the future, which bring added responsibilities, require the ability to make critical decisions, and need excellent interpersonal skills to win over hearts of people.

Some leaders tend to follow autocratic and dictatorial leadership styles, thinking that these cast greater awe over a workforce and thus attain better performance.

Clearly, this methodology is in clear contradiction to the style of leadership of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who was an exemplary leader. He was humble, mild-mannered, friendly, approachable and easy to talk to. Moreover, he empowered his close companions to be capable enough to carry on his mission after his demise.

I would like to elaborate on his style of ‘Empowerment and Delegation’ in the light of Ahadeeth regarding the appointment of Muadh Bin Jabal (rta) as the governor of Yemen.

Ibn Abbas has narrated: “The Prophet sent Muadh (rta) to Yemen and said: ‘Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I am Allah’s Apostle, and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in twenty-four hours), and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to their poor.’” (Bukhari)

According to another narration: “When Allah’s Messenger (sa) sent Muadh to Yemen, he went out with him whilst Muadh (rta) rode his riding beast and Allah’s Messenger walked beside him giving instructions. When he finished, he said: ‘Perhaps, Muadh, you may not meet me after this year, but perhaps, you may pass this Masjid of mine and my grave.’ Muadh wept from grief over the departure of Allah’s Messenger. The Prophet then turned facing Madinah and said: ‘Those nearest to me are the pious, whoever they are and whenever they are.’” (Mishkat)

These Ahadeeth make the following points clear:

  1. When a delegation is going off on a long journey, the leader should personally see them off.
  2. The leader should give simple, concise and role-related instructions to the delegate during their final meeting, as reminders of what work lies ahead for the delegate and its importance.
  3. The leader is humble, i.e., he does not mind walking or standing at a lower level than his delegate.
  4. The leader must be honest, when expressing his emotions to his subordinate.
  5. The leader should console his subordinate, when the latter is expressing grief.
  6. There should be love and compassion between a leader and his subordinates, especially in careers related to Dawah and religious instruction.

We can see how perfectly our Prophet (sa) combined the delegation of a leadership role to a subordinate with human compassion, empowering a future leader while simultaneously expressing his love and humility as a leader. He was, perhaps, the only man in history, who brought about the greatest of change in mankind in the shortest time period.

Best Religious Leaders – Close to People

Have you ever tried to contact a qualified, respected Islamic scholar or religious authority figure for some personal issue? These scholars have busy schedules of delivering talks and lectures in institutions and homes, travelling abroad often for conferences and, hence, are often hard to reach. When the common man endeavours to get in touch with them, more often than not, it is an uphill task involving numerous phone calls and/or unanswered emails. Private counsel with them is elusive – no more than a fleeting Salam or handshake following their Dars, before they hurriedly whiz off to their next engagement.

We must remember that a religious leader is a human being just like us. He or she needs time to rest, relax, leisurely hang out with family, sleep, attend to personal errands, read, study, respond to correspondence, plan itineraries and meet relatives. If they were to give private counsel to anyone, who wants to talk to them at any time during the day, they would be constantly pre-empted. Moreover, idleness and over-socialization is common in our culture. People tend to linger to chat about useless topics long after having discussed the required issue. If a religious leader were to give in to every lay-person’s demands on their time, it would not be long before they would not be able to continue their Dawah work.

It is, therefore, all about maintaining a critical balance between work and human compassion. Could it be that religious organizations’ leaders today have allowed themselves to become so overburdened with commitments, that they do not have time for even genuine requests for a sympathetic ear? Is this not against the Sunnah of our Prophet (sa)?

I find this food for thought. Why do our leaders move around with entourages and employ assistants for trivial personal tasks such as ironing clothes, whereas the best leaders of our Ummah, who had to juggle many more balls in the air, such as planning battle strategies, meeting foreign dignitaries and catering to multiple spouses/children, never hired personal assistants?

The proof of the Sahabas’ humility is the way they’d roam the streets at night alone, in their positions as Ameer-ul-Mumineen, to see what was going on at ground level. Prophet Muhammad (sa) never sat at a level higher than his company, except to ascend the pulpit for a sermon. His clothes made him indistinguishable from his companions to a newcomer, who set eyes on him for the first time.

Is this not something worth pondering over?

Here are a few tips that might restore the Sunnah of compassion for laymen for our leaders:

  1. Gain knowledge of the Prophet’s (sa) life and how he handled situations.
  2. Cut down on commitments, so that you have a few days a week with nothing on the agenda.
  3. Spend time with your family – every day.
  4. Play and converse with children randomly.


Our Prophet (sa) and those of his companions, who later became leaders, were always accessible to the common man, even poor old women or slaves, who stopped them in their tracks with personal complains. Let us endeavour to emulate their example, when and if we ever occupy a leadership role in our lives, because they were the best of our Ummah.

Leaders in the Business World

The unfortunate situation arising in the United States – and I suspect in other non-Muslim populated countries as well – is that when given the choice between conducting a transaction with a business run by a Muslim and a business run by a non-Muslim, many Muslims (and others) choose the non-Muslim business. And even when there may not be a choice – such as a Halal food store – it is only out of necessity that Muslims frequent it. Why are Muslim-run businesses not always the first choice? In one word-leadership.

A good leader runs a business that has courteous, hard working employees, quality products and services and satisfied customers. The leader sets the tone for those underneath him or her. If the leader is hardworking, ethical and fair and expects the same from the employees, the business will have a good reputation. If the leader does not demonstrate these qualities, or if the leader does have them, but does not require the same of employees, the business will not.

There is no excuse for a Muslim not to be a good leader in business. The Quran and Sunnah give ample guidance on what constitutes a good leader. And unlike many other systems of belief, Islam sets forth what is ethical, responsible and Islamically acceptable in the business context. For example, a multitude of Ahadeeth provides guidance on this issue, including these few:

“The merchants will be raised up on the day of resurrection as evildoers, except those who fear God, are honest and speak the truth.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Darimi and Baihaqi)

“God show mercy to a man, who is kindly when he sells, when he buys and when he makes a claim.” (Bukhari)

“If anyone sells a defective article without drawing attention to it, he will remain under God’s anger.” (Ibn Majah)

“If anyone keeps goods till the price rises, he is a sinner.” (Muslim)

More generally, as Muslims we are expected to exhibit excellence in everything we do -“Allah has made excellence obligatory for everything.” (Muslim) Our businesses should set forth the paradigm of business practices. Business schools should teach case studies on Muslim-run businesses to their students. Our business leaders should be highly sought after for advice. Indeed, Allah (swt) tells us that we set the example for others: “Thus, We have made you a just nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger be a witness over you.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:143)

The sad reality is that many of us, in the business context and elsewhere, do not rise near to the level of conduct that Allah (swt) expects from us. Even worse, many of us do not even try. And by not doing so, we miss a great opportunity for Dawah – something that is incumbent upon all of us.

Despite some popular misconceptions, Islam was spread by Muslims, who followed the Sunnah and the guidance of Allah (swt) – those, who showed what it truly means to be human. Their exemplary and just conduct as merchants in the market-place set forth a brilliant example for the non-Muslims of the time. In a world so preoccupied with international commerce and making money, business affords us an incredible opportunity not only to better ourselves but to pass the Message onto others.

May Allah (swt) guide the Muslim community and its leaders towards what is right, Ameen.

Resisting Peer Pressure

July 11- Resisting peer pressure

A common question of most teenagers is: “I want to practice Islam. But all my friends and cousins are into movies, music, girls and the usual teenage stuff. When I try to avoid them, I am either laughed at or left alone. I feel so isolated that I end up joining them – albeit reluctantly – in their pastimes.”

Is there a way out for such teenagers, who are inclined towards their Deen and yet succumb to peer-pressure for fear of isolation? The answer is – yes. First of all, such teenagers should realize that it is commendable that they are striving to practice Islam at this young age, when they are under considerable peer pressure. We ask Allah (swt) to keep them steadfast in their resolve and grant them the guidance to continue undeterred upon this righteous path and noble intention. Ameen. We hope the following steps will help, Insha’Allah.

Find like-minded friends

Join a class or an online group of similarly inclined young boys or girls and find people of the same age and gender, who share the same ideals.

Pursue extra-curricular activities

“Active Saturdays” in Karachi (activesaturdays.com) is a great outlet for young boys to combine fun with faith. “Perceptions” and “Quest” cater to girls.

Attend a weekly lecture

Find a men’s/women’s weekly Halaqah or Islamic Dars that you can attend. Make sure you attend this class, even if you have an exam.

Study buddy programme

Look inward for your strengths. What do you enjoy doing? Is there anything that comes naturally to you, which you can teach someone else? Like driving a car, solving math problems, or deploying science practicals? If you are good at something, start helping out others in it, even if it is teaching an illiterate child how to read! There is always someone who needs help. Eventually, as your teaching expertise and experience grows, you can start charging for tuition.

Pray Salah in congregation (for boys)

I cannot stress enough, how important it is to attend congregational prayer in the mosque. You will see how this action will keep you steadfast and strengthen your faith, Insha’Allah. Girls are also advised to be regular with their Salah at home.

Craft clubs

Pottery, stained-glass painting, baking, crochet, knitting, website design or even babysitting – there is so much fun teenagers can have. During my childhood, for example, I remember how the neighbourhood kids would organise an annual funfair in the complex. The end result was a fun, successful event – the result of channelised, collective youthful energy.

Humanitarian or welfare work

There are many welfare organisations that need young volunteers for their work. Whether it is education of poor children, rehabilitation of flood refugees, counseling sick patients in government hospitals, or spending some time in orphanages, ‘giving’ your time and company to the less fortunate is a very fulfilling way to pass extra time.

Camps and clubs

For young boys, camping out, safaris, boating, fishing, karate or playing sports at clubs are healthy options for physical recreation. For girls, picnics at parks, interning at magazines or newspapers, blogging online or organizing bake sales and book clubs can provide healthy outlets for creativity.

Youth is the threshold of adult life. If a believer passes the difficult test of steadfastness during this phase, and wises up about the company they hang out with, they can set forth upon the path of righteousness for life. We ask Allah (swt) to make the teenagers and young people steadfast, grant them high ranks of piety and faith and make them pass this test. Ameen.

The Coming of Dajjal

Apr 11- Coming of DajjalThe words ‘Dajjal’ (Antichrist) and ‘Dajjali Fitnah’ – a trial or an evil like that of the Antichrist – are commonly and frequently used today. Many books have been written on it in different languages; however, we will take an analytical look at it in the light of the Quran and Ahadeeth. There is no such word as “Dajjal” in the Quran, and there is no word of the root Daal, Jeem, Laam in the Quran. There are, however, synonyms of this word that mean ‘to cover’ or, ‘to deceive’.

Prophetic narrations, or Ahadeeth, mention ‘Dajjal’ in the following three ways:

Individuals claiming to be false prophets

Allah’s Messenger (sa) prophesized that the Dajjal would be the last of a series of thirty dajjals or ‘deceivers’ (false prophets), after whose appearance, the Day of Judgement will be close. Liars will come to the forefront and claim that they are prophets. Allah’s Apostle (sa) said, “The Hour will not be established till about thirty dajjals (liars) appear, and each one of them will claim that he is Allah’s Apostle.” (Bukhari)

False prophets had started to appear during the time of the Prophet (sa) and continued to do so after his demise. There are a few individuals, even in the current time, who have claimed prophethood.

An individual claiming divinity

The Dajjal Al-Akbar, or the greatest of Dajjals, will claim divinity. Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid (Islam-qa.com) has defined Dajjal Al-Akbar as follows:

“…a young man with a ruddy complexion, short, with thick curly hair, a wide forehead, and broad upper chest, blind or defective in the right eye. This eye will look like a floating grape. His left eye will be covered with a thick piece of flesh growing at the edge of his eye. Written between his eyes will be “Kaaf faa’ raa’ (K-F-R)”, in separate (Arabic) letters, or “kaafir”, with the letters joined. He will be sterile, with no children.”

A hadeeth mentions that he will have unlimited power and resources. People will be ready to prostrate to him and listen to him. He will be blind and on his forehead the three Arabic letters Kaa Faa Raa will be written. Every true believer will be able to see and read these letters, whether they can read or not. The Dajjal Al-Akbar will demonstrate miracles even greater than Isa (as). This will be the greatest test and trial for the believers. The Prophet e said that those who will prostrate to him will be spared (by him), but those who will not (prostrate to him) will be killed (Bukhari).

A civilization based on the qualities of Dajjal

From some Ahadeeth, we can surmise that one form of “dajjal” or deception is this world because it makes us forget the Hereafter and Allah (swt). We strive for gain and success only in this world. Allah (swt) says: “Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. And verily! We shall make all that is on it (the earth) a bare dry soil (without any vegetation or trees, etc.)”. (Al-Kahf 18:7-8)

Just as this verse exhorts, this world is becoming more beautiful and appealing as time goes on due to technological advances, luxurious lifestyles, numerous comforts, etc. It keeps on deluding us that we are better off than before. The question, though, is whether we are leaning towards the world or Allah (swt)? Who do we love more: this world or Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) says: “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allâh and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)

In the past three decades, the world has acquired immense luxuries. Consider Saudi Arabia or UAE. There was nothing but sand there. Now, they have the tallest buildings, the most lavish food, the best entertainment etc. These are all signs of the Day of Judgement.

The end is near

The signs that the Day of Judgement is close are several. There will be false claims to prophethood. There will also be a huge war. If a man has 100 sons, 99 will be killed. A bird will not find a place to land because there will be dead bodies everywhere. Then, the bird will fall down, exhausted, on a pile of dead bodies. This time is not far.

Gerald Flurry has written in “The Trumpet”: “Most people think the crusades are a thing of the past—over forever. But they are wrong. Preparations are being made for a final crusade, and it will be the bloodiest of all!”

20th century philosopher Arnold Toynbee, says in his book ‘Civilization on Trial’: “…real will be the battle between Christianity and Islam not between capitalism as communism and communism will not be able to sustain itself…”

Qualities of Dajjal present in the world and in us

There are certain qualities which we believe to belong only to the Dajjal, however, they are present within us as individuals. In the past, the Pharaoh and Nimrod had claimed Divinity. Today, each of us believes that we are the true rulers; we confine religion to the mosques and certain rituals. We do not let it enter our homes or workplaces. Our desires (Nafs) rule us as well. We declare that we are the masters of our actions and no one can dictate what we can or cannot do.

The qualities of Dajjal are also present in the economic system of the world. The system of interest is universal – there is no bigger sin in the eyes of Allah (swt). In the social world, we have the “women’s liberation movement” which translates into the eradication of modesty and the erosion of family life.

More about the Dajjal Al-Akbar

Some Ahadeeth describe the Dajjal Al-Akbar as follows:

He will go into every town for 40 days, there will be a distance of 80 yards between his ears and a day and a night’s travel will be the distance of one step of his donkey. He will speak in such a way that everyone in the east and the west will be able to hear him. (Muslim) We can imagine that the travel system and media technology will be so advanced that they will help Dajjal achieve the aforementioned feats.

Seventy thousand scholars wearing turbans, from my community, will follow the Dajjal. (Musnad Ahmad)

Two angels, resembling Prophets, one on either side, will accompany him. This will be a test for mankind. Dajjal will ask: “Am I not your lord? Do I not give life and death?” One of the angels will reply, “You are a liar.” However, nobody will be able to hear this reply except for the other angel. The second angel, addressing the first angel will say: “You are speaking the truth.” Everybody will hear what this second angel said, and will think that an angel is testifying that the Dajjal is Allah (swt). In reality, this second angel was addressing the first one and agreeing with his reply about the Dajjal certainly being a liar by saying, “You are speaking the truth”. (Ahmad)

He will come to a bedouin whose parents will have passed away and will say to him: “Will you believe that I am your Lord if I bring your parents back to life?” He will reply: “Yes.” The devils accompanying him will take the form of his parents and will say to him: “Oh child, believe in him and follow him, he is your Lord.” The bedouin will be deceived into believing him. (Ibn Majah)

He will have water and fire with him. As for that which the people will see as water, in reality it will be fire, which will burn. As for that which people will see as fire, in reality will be cold, sweet water. The Prophet’s (saw) Advice is: “Whoever meets the Dajjal and sees the water and the fire, should fall in the fire and not the water, as the fire is, in reality, water, and the water is, in reality, fire.’” (Mishkat)

Passing by a place in ruins, he will order it to take out its hidden treasure. The earth will immediately take out its treasure, and the treasure will literally follow him wherever he goes, like bees following the queen bee. (Muslim)

I think that Dajjal is a Jinn, not a human; a soldier of Satan, chained in shackles. During mankind’s last hour on the earth, he will be released for humankind’s last and final test. After 40 years of rule, Prophet Isa (as) will kill him. But before that, such a mighty wind of Kufr will spread that, after Prophet Isa’s (as) death, Allah (swt) will send a special wind directed at those believers with Islamic faith in their hearts. They will have their souls taken out without any pain. Only the disbelievers will then remain on the earth, and the Judgement will be passed on them.

Love Allah (swt) and not the world; worry about the Hereafter, not the here and now; nurture your soul, but take care of your body as well. Be steadfast in your faith (iman) so that you can face the Dajjal.

Transcribed and compiled by Tasneem Vali and Sadaf Farooqi

Cheating Muslim Spouses: a Sad State of ‘Affairs’

Apr 11 - Cheating muslim spouses

In the complicated fabric of human relationships, many myths abound. Realities are either distorted or brushed under the carpet to present a delusive, picture-perfect ‘mirage’ of happiness.

One of the negative trends mostly ‘brushed under the carpet’ in Pakistan are extra-marital affairs, commonly known in international media as ‘cheating’. I can identify at least half a dozen such cases, some that have gone as far as Zina (adultery). Some of them resulted in broken homes damaged beyond repair, and a sad reminder of how a marriage can be ruined due to the mistake of one or both partners.

Saima*, a happily married and well-off mother discovered her husband having an affair with her maid. Her entire world came crashing down. After a volatile confrontation, her husband begged forgiveness and vowed to mend his ways. However, just six months later, she discovered him texting women on his cell phone. Once again, he asked for forgiveness. With divorce out of the picture for the sake of her children, she continues to live obediently with her husband, but a broken heart filled with disgust and hatred for him. Outwardly, she remains the ‘picture perfect’ urban housewife, complimented for her well-maintained youthful looks and elegant sense of style.

Mahira had a fling with her husband’s best friend, who visited her house often; both of them had children at that time. She decided to end her marriage to be with him, but he could not leave his family for her. Since her divorce, she has been living with her ageing mother. Her adult children are married and leading their own lives.

Uzma’s husband admitted to his long distance affair with a single Muslim woman over the Internet. He had married Uzma after a romantic relationship and they had three children. She also took care of his elderly widowed father, who resided with them. Her husband admitted to have visited his girlfriend on a foreign ‘business’ trip. Now, he wants to marry his girlfriend and bring her into their current home; however, Uzma has told him that if he does, she will leave. Divorce, on the other hand, is out of the question to safeguard their children’s future.

There are many such cases of distressed, heartbroken, married women, who have ‘the other woman’ in their lives. Sadly, the reverse is also true: Muslim men catch their wives cheating on them primarily through Internet and cell phone. Instant communication has become extremely easy in real time. This has exacerbated the problem of casual flings, as the recent media hype surrounding the personal life of a world-class golfer has proved.

Young, married Muslims of today are enthusiastically adding their ex-college friends, including ‘old flames’, to their Facebook, Twitter and Google IM lists. They peer too easily into each other’s intimate lives through candid pictures and frank status updates. Carelessness in these online relationships welcomes Shaitan, the enemy of our faith and good deeds, to wreak havoc in our marital relationships.

The husband-wife relationship is an extremely close one sealed in Allah’s (swt) name – and a very fragile one, too. It is the prime target of Shaitan, because it forms the building block of the future Muslim generation.

It is very important to realize that some basic Islamic rulings regarding the restrictions on inter-gender relationships and communication exist for the benefit of our own faith, as well as, of course, for protecting the sanctity of our families’ close bonds.

Observing the Islamic restrictions of not conversing too freely with members of the other gender, either in person or online, is a necessary step in protecting the love between husband and wife. Similarly, socializing in mixed gatherings should be curtailed, as all Islamic scholars are unanimous in their opinion that mixed gatherings open the door to Fitnah (temptation). What can then be said about the current trend of young married couples attending drink-and-dance parties at hotels and private homes of friends in their social circle? We ask Allah (swt) to protect us.

Furthermore, care must be taken in employing servants, who roam around freely in our homes. Leaving young maids clad in provocative clothing alone in the home with one’s husband or son is a risk that many housewives naively take. Similarly, many Muslim men have no qualms about allowing non-Mahrams, from personal car drivers to their brothers and cousins, to enter upon their wives in their absence.

I can empathize with the heart-rending emotional state of any person, who has a cheating spouse. Briefly, the advice I can give them is:

  1. Seek help from Allah (swt) through extra prayers and sincere Duas. Join a Quran class to soothe your anguished heart and troubled soul.
  2. Do not make a hasty decision; rather, persevere with patience as much as you can.
  3. Assess your feelings about the situation honestly and unburden yourself only on someone trustworthy, who can keep secrets. Remember, matters like these cause gossip to spread like wildfire. Do not divulge intimate details to anyone.
  4. Talk to your spouse without being confrontational. Tell him/her how you feel. Request him/her to end the affair and repent to Allah (swt).
  5. Have hope – couples have successfully overcome such marital blows and moved on, falling back in love. It is not impossible to repair a marriage that is hit by an affair.
  6. Try to forgive for the sake of Allah (swt); really, it is possible! Not to mention, very liberating.
  7. Strive to think positively and avoid company of people with negative thinking. Consciously keep in mind the positive qualities in your spouse.
  8. Divorce should only be the very last option. If you really feel you cannot continue and want a separation, first talk to your elders / trusted scholars. Consider your financial conditions, especially if you a female. Children are, of course, a major consideration, too. Finally, do an Istikhara and supplicate. Insha’Allah, you will reach the right decision.

Muslims should always remember that sincere repentance (Tawbah) wipes out sins from the book of deeds. A repentant person is as if he never sinned at all. If Allah (swt) can forgive someone, who gives up a sin and changes for the better, why shouldn’t we?

*Names of individuals have been altered to protect their identity.

Joint Family in Islam: Challenges and Solutions

Jan 11 - Joint Family in Islam

A joint family system is an extended clan comprising multiple hierarchical tiers of relatives with their respective spouses and children. They live under one roof, eat meals together and try to get along.

It is the elderly, who mostly prefer this system, because it alleviates their insecurities regarding age, loneliness and being excluded from their adult children’s lives.

The question of prime importance is: what does Islam say about the joint family? By the joint family we mean married children and their elderly parents living together in one house, usually with their bedrooms opening on to a common area and a shared kitchen.

Three issues that are of core importance in Islam to the traditional joint family situation, but are severely undermined by them, need to be pointed out along with scholarly views, Insha’Allah.

“The In-Law is Death”

Whilst most women endeavor to cover themselves from visitors, they dress and interact before some non-Mahram residents of the house, such as male servants or brothers-in-law, as they would before Mahrams. This practice is in complete defiance of the commands of Islam, which is evident from the Hadeeth below.

It was reported from Uqbah Ibn Aamir that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Beware of entering upon women.” A man from among the Ansar said: “O Messenger of Allah, what about the brother-in-law?” He said: “The brother-in-law is death.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

From this Hadeeth, it is clear that a married Muslim woman must observe full Hijab in the presence of her husband’s male relatives, except his father, sons from another wife or grandfathers. Included foremost in this Hijab are her husband’s brothers.

Death or its causes are something no one would take lightly. Yet, we carelessly disregard this aspect of Islam.

Etiquette of Privacy from Blood Relations Ordained in the Quran

“O you who believe! Let your legal slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions; (i) before Fajr (morning) prayer, and (ii) while you put off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and (iii) after the Isha (late-night) prayer. (These) three times are of privacy for you, other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending (helping) you each other. Thus Allah makes clear the Ayat (the Verses of this Quran, showing proofs for the legal aspects of permission for visits, etc.) to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (An-Nur 24:58)

In the aforementioned verse of the Quran, Allah (swt) commands even young children of a Muslim couple to be prevented from entering upon them in their bedrooms without prior permission, during three times – before Fajr, after Dhuhr (during siesta) and after Isha.

Contrast this to how most young Muslim couples live in a single bedroom along with their children in most joint family households. Even nocturnal conjugal relations occur in the same room, whilst children are asleep in close proximity. This cultural practice needs to be strongly condemned, because it is in clear disobedience to the Quranic injunctions.

The Right to Private Accommodation

All Islamic scholars are in unanimous agreement that married Muslim women are entitled to private accommodation in Islam, which preserves their privacy from their husbands’ relatives.

Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid states: “Whatever meets her needs is sufficient, such as a room in good condition with a kitchen and bathroom – unless the wife has stipulated larger accommodation in her marriage contract. He (her husband) does not have the right to make her eat with any of her in-laws. The kind of accommodation provided must be commensurate with what the husband is able to provide and be suitable according to local custom (urf) and the social level of the wife.”

However, he goes on to explain, “If he is able to provide (his wife) with accommodation that is completely separate from his family, that will be better (for her). But if his parents are elderly and need him, and they have no one else to serve them, and the only way he can serve them is by living with them, then he has to do that.” (Islam-QA.com)

It is better, therefore, to live in separate accommodation that allows the son to be physically near his parents and other relatives. An example of this could be two houses in the same compound or apartments that are one above the other, or at a walking distance from each other. Please note that a wife should practice patience, if she has to give up her right due to her husband’s financial constraints.

Cultural Influence

Our culture strongly supports a joint family. It expects sons to dwell with their elderly parents in their homes and financially support them, even if the latter are well-off. This belief that the elderly should be cared for by a son and his wife is inherently faulty, because it assumes that everyone has sons. What about couples with no children or those with only daughters, or the elderly who are single? Who will take care of them?

In Islam, a son and daughter are equally obliged, both financially and physically, to support aged, needy parents. No discrimination exists on this Fiqh issue, except that a daughter’s husband has more rights on her than her parents. If he allows, she may have her parents dwell in her own home to take care of them. There is nothing wrong with that.

The Ideal Living Scenario

Living as nuclear families at considerable distances from each other, physically and emotionally, is not the ideal picture for Muslim families, unless dire necessity dictates it. Our Prophet (sa) and his companions provided separate living quarters for their wives. In his last days of sickness, the Prophet (sa) was taken care of by his wives and friends, not his offspring.

There are many advantages of living near relatives, e.g., young mothers can have accessible babysitting and the sick elderly have someone nearby to provide care. Company is nearby, and this alleviates loneliness and depression. Children grow up more sociable, if they consistently meet relatives of different ages. The strict discipline of young parents, when balanced with indulgent pampering of grandparents, does wonders for a child’s self-confidence.

On the downside, living together under one roof facilitates considerable control, interference and subtle manipulation of the younger ones by the elders. Grandchildren can challenge their parents’ authority by simply throwing a tantrum before grandparents. In the worst cases, the joint family thwarts practicing Muslims’ application of Deen in their family lives; even regarding Islamic commands that are obligatory.

Dr. Hina, a lecturer and mother of a 6-year-old son has been living in a joint family since her marriage, whilst pursuing her career. She says: “The joint family has numerous advantages, such as having the house clean and the food cooked when you come home; having someone to baby-sit your child if you have to study or work long hours, and no loneliness because people are around. The disadvantages are that you are constantly told what to do and how to do it; you cannot bring up your child without others interfering, or manage your space the way you want to. Despite full efforts at observing Hijab, accidental slips keep occurring before a brother-in-law. Also, sisters-in-law visit their parents too often, causing sour relationships.”

Practical Life

Because of the soaring prices of property and rent nowadays, young newlyweds have to live in a joint family after marriage, even among non-Mahram men, despite the difficulty of maintaining Hijab. Such a scenario requires a high dose Taqwah (Allah consciousness), e.g., lowering the gaze, draping a large chador, knocking before entering rooms, avoiding mixing freely, using door locks when required and abstaining from eavesdropping or asking prying questions.

If parents want all their married sons to live under one roof, they should renovate the house in such a manner that everyone can observe the limits of Allah (swt). It does not cost much to construct two extra rooms with a kitchenette. The problem lies in giving preference to culture and familial tradition over obeying commands of religion.

Sheikh Salih advises a Muslim wife whose in-laws restrict her movement: “You should understand that your husband’s parents may make things difficult for you, because they think that you have taken away the one who is most dear to them. Therefore, you should handle this matter wisely and not be the cause of arguments or division between your husband and his parents. Rather, you should try to help your husband obey and honour his parents, and you will find the effects of that, Insha’Allah, in your own children [i.e., they will honour you in turn].” (Islam-QA.com)

Such wise words need no more explanation.

The Incessantly Attractive Wife

Oct 10 - Bold and Beautiful

What is it that truly makes a woman beautiful or attractive to her husband? This is probably the most ancient and oft-asked question that women have sought answers to for centuries in their quest to maintain the bliss of their marital homes. Every year, women spend millions on cosmetics, fashion products and fitness programmes, as they go the extra mile in trying to preserve their youth for as long as they humanly can.

For some married women, this zeal increases with age, with the multitude of single, younger women swarming outside their houses and around their husbands, adding to their worries and insecurities about their looks. True, most women beautify themselves for their own happiness, not for the world; but it would be a lie to say that they do not do it to look good in front of others, too!

Yet, in the middle of this beauty paraphernalia, you will find a simple, practicing Muslim woman, who does not go to the gym or the salon as a routine; does not splurge on clothes at boutiques and does not purchase expensive cosmetics. Yet, from the way her husband pampers her, caters to her whims and steals looks at her in social gatherings, it is obvious that he is still in love with her, even after years of marriage and the arrival of children.

You wonder: “How does she do it?”

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (rta) said: “It was said to the Messenger of Allah (sa): ‘Which of the women is the best?’ He said: ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, obeys him when he tells her to do something, and does not disobey him with regard to herself or her wealth in a way that he dislikes.'” (An-Nasai)

Many people misunderstand this Hadeeth to imply that a good wife should be physically very beautiful. Nay, “who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her” means that the wife’s behaviour, character, looks and conduct together please her husband, whenever he looks at her.

Muslim women should realize that the best way to be incessantly attractive to their husbands is to make themselves sincere worshippers and believers of Allah (swt); to love and obey Allah’s (swt) commands and laws and to observe His limits. An indicator of Allah’s (swt) love for a slave is that His creation on the earth also loves that slave. It is a simple solution: love Allah (swt) and others – including your husband – will love you.

Here are some tips for achieving that:

  • Make self-grooming and beautification solely an act of worship intended for Allah (swt) pleasure first, before it being for the world or even yourself. He created the beautiful, unique you, and He deserves gratitude for it.
  • Be grateful to Allah (swt) for what you are, i.e., accept how you look and be comfortable in your own skin. Be happy with your height, natural weight tendency (skinny, chubby or fat), complexion, facial features and quality of hair. If you are short, you can never be tall, so focus on your other positive qualities. Each human being has unique gifts granted to them by their Creator. This acceptance of Allah’s Qadr (decree) will lead to inner confidence.
  • Be self-confident – this happens by gaining knowledge of the Quran and becoming closer to your Creator. Even a plus-sized woman can look attractive to her husband, if she is confident about herself, and a so-called twiggy-skinny woman with a ramp model’s figure can fail to attract her spouse, if Allah (swt) does not will it. Remember, there is no single definition of beauty. What is attractive to one man can turn off another. Nothing makes a person more attractive than self-confidence!
  • An attractive person has no self-esteem issues. Stop pointing out your physical defects to your spouse (“Oh, just look at my big bum!” or “Do I look fat in this?”) and instead, focus on your plus points. Your husband will automatically notice you, when he sees you take care of yourself, without whining to him to say that you look nice.
  • You do not have to go to a beauty parlour and splurge on a makeover worth Rs. 5000 every other month to achieve good looks. An epilator and some good pharmaceutical products (scented bath gels, shower creams, deodorants, conditioners and olive oil) at home can do wonders.
  • Keep yourself clean and fresh-smelling every day, removing unwanted hair from your body every two weeks and maintaining impeccable personal hygiene. This includes fresh breath, a fragrant body, squeaky-clean hair, sparkling teeth and smooth feet, with soles and heels free of unseemly cracks. It does not matter if your nails are short or if you have not applied make-up. Prophet Muhammad (sa) was immaculately clean, so we should focus more on cleaning our bodies and cleansing our hearts from malice than going for hair highlights and a manicure every three months.
  • Stop worrying that your spouse will look at others. Rise above such insecurities. So what if he looks elsewhere? Yes, it is Haram and it hurts, but if you bear it with patience, Allah (swt) will be sufficient for you. A strong, self-sufficient wife is the greatest turn-on for any husband. Self-sufficiency comes from positive thinking and positive actions that benefit others in society.
  • Read up about and keep a keen interest in your husband’s profession. This makes him stay attracted to you. When his wife shows concern about his professional life, he will definitely want to come home to her and discuss career issues.
  • “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Though this does not always apply, there is some truth in it. You do not have to be a gourmet chef a la Naheed Ansari to tantalize his taste buds – just practice making his favourite dishes, until you excel at it. This will nurture his love for you. Just do not try to become his second “mom”!

Your weight, height, BMI (body mass index), age and dress size are nothing but numbers. Either you can let these numbers thwart your optimism and control your self-esteem, or you can lead a balanced life in pursuit of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, according to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa). That will grant you the peace of both mind and soul. Then, even if your husband finds you the most attractive woman on the earth, it will no longer matter because through his pleasure, it is the pleasure of Allah (swt) that you actually seek!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…

Oct 10 - Girls just wanna have fun

When it comes to fashion, we usually read about the things which are forbidden. The youth are instructed to shun the latest styles and trends, as they stand in opposition to the Islamic injunctions of Hijab and Satar.

So is there anything which IS allowed? What are some of the things which Muslim girls and women can do to enhance their natural beauty and follow the fashions?

Islam encourages us to be clean and presentable in appearance. This is more than apparent in recorded descriptions of the Prophet (saw), who was the epitome of Islamic character, personal hygiene and modesty.

Makeup is allowed as long as it is not used so much that it spoils natural skin, or in such a way that it resembles the makeup of non-believing women.

Muslim women have Islamic guidelines from the Quran, Ahadeeth and opinions of modern day scholars regarding the methods and limits of personal beautification. Although the list is long, the basics of it are as follows:

  • Removal of bodily hair, especially from the armpits and private areas, is Wajib (obligatory) once every month. Hair on the arms, legs and upper lip can also be removed through impermanent procedures that do not involve risks to health or appearance.
  • Removal of the eyebrows has a separate ruling. It is inherently impermissible to remove them, unless they are so abnormally dense that they cause a girl to look very manly or downright ugly. For such a case, the hair in between and on the sides of the eyebrows can be removed only.
  • Hair on the head may be cut and styled, coloured or bleached, without exceeding the limits of extravagance. It is impermissible to cut the hair like a man’s, to imitate a hairstyle that is unique to non-believing women or to pile the hair high on the head like a camel’s hump.
  • Ears and the nose can be pierced to wear ornaments in them.
  • Girls can wear any kind of jewellery and clothes of any colour, fabric or embellishments, as long as they do not reveal these ornaments to non-Mahram men. Muslim girls and women should not reveal more than their head, neck, forearms, feet and ankles, even to Mahram men or other Muslim women. Therefore, it is not permissible to wear very see-through clothes. Revealing bodies to women at beauty parlours to get the whole body waxed is also impermissible.
  • It is permissible to decorate hands and feet with henna or Mehndi.
  • Girls can wear any shoes they want; however, shoes that make a loud sound in public that attracts the attention of men or that make a woman’s body sway provocatively are not allowed.
  • Makeup is allowed as long as it is not used so much that it spoils natural skin, or in such a way that it resembles the makeup of non-believing women, or worn before non-Mahram men.
  • Muslim women may use perfume that is not strong in fragrance. They should not wear it on their outer garments to attract public attention; rather, they can wear it directly on their skin, under their clothes.
  • Dressing up for an all-girls’ party is perfectly alright as long as your clothes do not reveal more than your head, neck, forearms, feet and ankles.
  • Dressing up for the spouse is not just permissible, it is highly desirable, so please do it.

Handling Hygiene with Kids

Jul 10 - Handling Hygiene with kids

“My mother never hires a maid with small children,” says a friend of mine, “She thinks they are dirty; constantly smelling of their infants’ and toddlers’ waste on their clothes, as their hygiene is poor.”

I recall an incident I witnessed back in my own childhood. We were at a private swimming pool, when a few mothers caused a furor. A boy aged 3-4 relieved himself outside the pool. The boy’s mother, without any mortification, calmly walked him to the toilet as he continued to poop, marking their path with droppings. Everyone at the scene duly expressed what they thought of the mother’s ‘potty’ training skills. As for us, children, we were just grateful he decided to ‘go’ before getting into the pool.

It is not just uneducated women, who have low standards of hygiene with their children, is it? Even educated mothers need training about maintaining overall cleanliness after they have a baby – in their persona, home and environment. Getting dirty in cleaning up is a mandatory part of a mother’s life, especially during the first three years post-baby. There are no two ways about it – it is her job and she must know how to get it done effectively.

Doing away with hang-ups

Just like medical students must give up any queasiness in handling blood, human flesh, organs or cuts, new mothers, too, must give up innate abhorrence to human waste and body excretions.

In order to bring up a healthy and happy child, a mother must accept the fact that from now on anything that comes out of her baby’s body has to be cleaned up by her: spit-up

milk, nose goop, vomit, earwax, saliva, excreta – you name it. When a mother happily accepts this as part of her ‘job’, she can move past it quickly and efficiently.

As Muslim women, we should ultimately believe in and hope for the great reward promised by Allah (swt) for doing this so-called ‘dirty’ work. We will be rewarded not just for efficiently rearing a clean baby, but also for upholding the high standards of Taharah (purity) and cleanliness required by Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim)

Read relevant literature

Issues of Taharah need to be understood in-depth by reading Islamic literature on its do’s and don’ts. Websites, such as askimam.org and islam-qa.com, answer everyday questions about hygiene issues regarding children, e.g., what to do if a child urinates on its mother’s clothing? Does washing a baby’s excreta invalidate Wudhu?

Sheikh Uthaymeen replied to this question as follows: “With regard to changing a baby’s diaper, if you mean the act of changing in itself, this does not affect the validity of one’s Wudhu. If you mean that it involves touching something that is Najis (impure, i.e., the baby’s urine and stools), this does not affect your Wudhu either, because there is no connection between touching something Najis and the validity of one’s Wudhu. There is scholarly consensus on this point. All one has to do is wash one’s hands to get rid of any Najis material.

“If you mean that it involves touching the child’s private parts: whether the child is a boy or a girl; in the case of a child under the age of two years, the rulings on Awrah (that which is to be covered) do not apply, as the scholars have stated. So if you touch them, this does not affect your Wudhu. And Allah (swt) knows best.” (Islam-QA.com)

Make use of modern cleaning resources

Gone are the days of cloth diapering and hand-washed clothes! Now, new mothers can avail resources that maintain hygiene and purity, from waterproof cot mattresses and sheets, to wet wipes and ‘breathable plastic’ diapers, hand sanitizers and baby bath gels, to fully automatic washing machines. Also, cleaning materials, such as absorbent sponges, flannels and scented floor wipes, help a lot during potty training a couple of years after the birth, in which ‘potty accidents’ regularly need to be cleaned up!

Here are a few tips, regarding how a mother can clean up leakages efficiently:

Wet bed

During the first few months, when a first-time mother is learning the ropes herself, she might be too exhausted to change the baby’s diaper before falling asleep, having to face a wet baby, bed sheet and mattress in the morning.

  1. Change the baby’s clothes first. Put on a clean diaper and dry clothes; feed him/her, then proceed to the next step.
  2. Take the sheet to the tap. Wash just the wet area of the bed sheet with running water. Do NOT immerse the entire sheet in a pail. The urine on the wet portion should be drained away completely, using a minimum amount of running water.
  3. Once the wet spot has been washed, purity is restored. Wring it dry. You can wash it further with soap/detergent, if you wish. You do not need to wash the entire bed sheet.
  4. As a precaution, place a large rubber mat covering the entire mattress to prevent it from getting soiled in case of leakages. You can place the bedsheet over this rubber mat.

Soiled mattress or carpet

Remove any solids (feces or vomit) with dry tissue first; then, discard the tissue in the toilet. An absorbent, damp cloth should then be used to clean the soiled patch on the mattress/carpet thus:

  1. Wash the cloth with water under a tap, wring, and rub the patch; repeat this, until the stain is considerably gone, and the soiled area on the carpet/mattress has lost its smell.
  2. Mix enough detergent in some water and repeat the process: wet the cloth in the soap-water, rub the patch, rinse the cloth, wring; wet, rub, repeat. Eventually, the patch of carpet/mattress will be thoroughly clean and pure.
  3. Once it has dried, prayer can be performed on it, Insha’Allah. Using an absorbent cloth to rub the area repeatedly ensures that the excreta are completely removed.

On the go:

Some items are essential for mothers of babies and toddlers on the go: wet baby wipes, changing (waterproof) mat, some extra diapers, small plastic bags (for waste disposal), a plastic bottle filled with tap water, tissues (or a tissue roll) and hand sanitizers.

Make your children wash their hands before and after eating; make them use the toilet in such a way that after they are done, an onlooker cannot tell that it has been used. Tell the boys never to urinate while standing and always wash themselves after answering the call of nature. If they are old enough, they can have small aerosols of air fresheners in their toilets to use.

As mothers of the next generation, we have to leave no stone unturned in inculcating high standards of cleanliness and purity in our little ones from day one, whether, we are in our private spaces or in public.

“Allah is clean, and loves cleanliness.” (Ibn Majah)

Pornography Addiction – The Dark Side of Cyberspace

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Pornography addiction

With stomach-churning horror and disgust, I watched an interview with an 18-year-old American girl, calmly describing her choice of profession as a ‘porn star.’ She had made more than a hundred films since turning the legal age of eighteen.

The Internet has catapulted the profits made by the ‘adult industry’. No longer restricted to magazines and videotapes, pornography on the Internet does away with the need to leave our home. It now conveniently brings graphic sex to our homes. They are easily accessible at the click of a mouse in the form of animated or real videos and pictures.

As an individual starts to view pornography, at first he just wants to satisfy his curiosity. Eventually, if not curbed, the action becomes a habit, and soon, without even realizing it, a compulsive addiction sets in. The causes of pornography addiction are the desires of the Nafs coupled with the insinuations of Satan.

Naïve people might assume that only unmarried ‘perverts’ are hooked to Internet porn. Actually, statistics reveal that girls, boys, men and women of all ages are pornography addicts, regardless of whether they are single, divorced or happily married with children.

It goes without saying that viewing pornography is Haram in Islam. It is Zina (fornication) of the eyes and hands that the Prophet Muhammad (sa) described: “The eyes commit Zina, the hands commit Zina, the feet commit Zina, and the genitals commit Zina.” (Ahmad)

The Fatwa Committee of IslamQA.com states in response to Question No. 42165:

“It is not permissible to look at pornographic pictures that show the charms of women, either on Internet websites or in newspapers or magazines, etc. That is because looking at them is a means of enjoying them and knowing the beauty of the woman in the picture.”

Symptoms of pornography addiction

  • Not using the computer in a common area, such as the living room; always using it only in complete privacy.
  • Being extremely private/possessive about one’s laptop or computer, e.g., disliking anyone else using it, turning it on or even touching it.
  • Staying locked up alone for hours in a room at the computer.
  • Using the computer mostly at night, when others are asleep and the house is quiet.
  • Being irritable and grouchy around family, for no apparent reason.
  • Being unusually defensive about religiosity.

When the blog MuslimMatters.org published “Pornography Addiction among Muslims,” several Muslim men and women anonymously revealed their personal struggle with pornography addiction. One married Muslim man of 25-30 years stated:

“I fell into the Fitnah when I was in my teens. I don’t want to go into the details, but soon after I was introduced to pornography, I was hooked on it. What fanned the flames of desire was access to the Internet. When I was new to the sin, I would never have dared to buy a dirty magazine from the local store, out of a sense of shame and embarrassment. But the Internet made everything accessible to me, and I could see what I wanted when I wanted, all in the privacy of my own home. Another problem was that my family resisted, when I suggested that I marry in my early twenties.”

It is indeed a grave problem that thousands of men of the Muslim Ummah are stuck in the vicious cycle of pornography addiction. Sadly, persistent masturbation whilst viewing dirty websites, gradually renders them impotent, so that when the younger ones do get married, their problems are compounded rather than solved. Another byproduct of mass-scale viewing of pornography is the rise of homosexuality among Muslim men.

Parents’ usual attitude on finding incriminating evidence on their children’s computers follows a typical pattern: at first, shock and denial; giving their son/daughter a huge shouting/spanking, followed by complete confiscation of Internet privileges. Eventually, however, as months pass they relent and choose to look the other way, telling themselves nonchalantly: “He’ll outgrow it. How can we stop him?” The same applies for discovery of pornography by wives of addicts; only, they are more hurt and at a total loss as to how to stop their husbands.

If, as a parent, sister or wife, you come across incriminating material on the computer, what should you do? Here are some tips:

  • Abstain from thinking that your child/brother/husband is a pervert. He is a victim, who has been afflicted severely by the pornography Fitnah. Don’t judge him – he needs your sincere help.
  • Do NOT tell anyone about his addiction to unburden yourself. Allah (swt) has commanded us to cover other people’s faults and sins. Tell someone only if they will be able to help you put a stop to it, e.g., if a sister discovers her brother’s pornographic pictures, she may tell their mother.
  • Gain knowledge of why Allah (swt) has forbidden the viewing of sexually explicit material. Go to the website Google.com.pk, search with the terms “pornography addiction Muslims” and read the articles that appear.
  • Do not consider yourself better than pornography addicts – this is another trap of Satan; tell yourself that perhaps, in the long-term, Allah (swt) might accept their repentance and grant them a higher level of Jannah.
  • Before a confrontation, plan on what you will say and how you will say it. Maintain a normal tone and abstain from hurling accusations or passing judgements.
  • Sincerely have pity for the victim of pornography. Make sincere Dua for them to be able to stop.
  • If you have the authority to do so, confiscate their Internet privileges.

How does one get rid of this addiction? There are several tips and remedies recommended by Muslim scholars. The topmost tips are: to fear Allah (swt), keep busy in beneficial work, increase in good deeds, and go ‘cold turkey’ on the Internet (i.e., relinquish it completely) for a while. Gaining knowledge of the Quran and involving oneself with Dawah and outdoor activities (recreation, family) helps.

It is a bitter struggle to get out of pornography, but it is possible. The verses from the Quran that give most hope are:

Say: “O Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

“And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith (Islamic Monotheism) to your Lord and submit to Him, (in Islam), before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.

“And follow the best of that which is sent down to you from your Lord (i.e. this Quran, do what it orders you to do and keep away from what it forbids), before the torment comes on you suddenly while you perceive not!” (Az-Zumar 39:53-55)

The Blogging Muslimah

Vol 7 - Issue 1 The blogging MuslimahBy Noorjehan Arif and Sadaf Farooqi

She sets out for a walk in the park near her home, with her toddler safely packed in his stroller. Along the way, she pauses to snap pictures of a beautiful flower and the picturesque landscape. As her son chews on his snack, she takes another snap of him holding his apple. After an hour or so, she returns home to check on the dinner in the oven. When it is ready, she intends to take a picture of it too. She proceeds to log on to her online Quran Tafseer class on the computer, for which she has registered as a student, as her toddler plays with his toys in the living room.

At night, when the family has retired to bed, she turns on her husband’s laptop and logs onto her blog. She starts typing a blog post about her day: the trip to the park; the special recipe she baked; and what she learned in the class. She uploads the digital photographs into the post. A few minutes of formatting, followed by a preview, make her smile with satisfaction as she clicks on the “Publish” button.

The next morning after breakfast, she checks her blog to find a few comments under her post, left by Muslim sisters scattered around the world. They have subscribed to her blog feed and have already read her post. She spends a half-hour or so responding to their queries.

Whether it is Europe, North America, or the UAE, Muslim women and girls are turning to the blogosphere to share their life experiences with like-minded global readers. Having to live somewhat isolated from their immediate families after marriage, in small communities having very few Muslims, they do not feel lonely because their blogging makes them feel part of an online sisterhood.

It is not just personalized blogs that Muslimahs use to connect to the world from within their cozy homes. There are several group-blogs that publish posts written by a variety of different bloggers, a few times a week. An example of this is America’s “Grow Mama Grow” blog (growmama.com), where young Muslim mothers share experiences and inspirational stories with each other.

A special benefit of blogging is the ease with which one can connect with women having similar challenges, e.g., having to raise speciAl-needs children, for instance, a child with autism or dyslexia.

Dealing with two children – an infant and a child afflicted by autism – juggling a work-at-home job and, in the middle of it all, getting all the household chores done, Zeba calls herself a “Road Warrior Momma of a special lil boy with Autism and a special lil girl with especially big hair!” She makes blogging an outlet to let people know how she is faring. She also uses it for her brainstorming sessions, as a relaxation technique and a way to update her family about her life. Her blog/online diary (www.abezsez.com) is a means of getting feedback from her friends as well!

Muslim Mom (http://muslimmomintheusa.blogspot.com/) writes about her actions and reactions to her son’s activities and indicates the various techniques she employs for enhancing her son’s development and mental growth. She also discusses the various ways Islam can be incorporated in her son’s life, in order to strengthen his Deen in the face of the religious and cultural differences around him.

MMT is yet another blog, which focuses on the intricacies this home-schooling mother faces in raising her children as well as provides lessons of parenting that can be used by any mother. She also gives references to mom blogs in different parts of the world that talk about the ways of raising children in various environments and countries, including Gaza Strip, Syria, India and Pakistan.

Thanks to the blogosphere, a homebound Muslimah raising young children can now have a significant impact on a global level, by blogging from within her home to a diverse and unrestricted reader audience. She feels part of a huge community and, therefore, keeps loneliness at bay because of the positive impact she is having on so many people’s lives!