Reaping the Rewards of Ramadan

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Annually, Ramadan gives us the greatest discount to stock up Hasanat for our Akhirah account. The rate is exceedingly profitable, so it is important to consider the best ways of using this opportunity for everyone in the family, especially the head of the household.

Time Management

Proper time management is the key in order to avail limited time offers. A daily schedule helps stay focused on what is important. Wasting valuable time by sleeping away the hours should be curtailed. Rather, sleep should be kept to the minimum. Watching TV should be limited to only those broadcasts that are truly beneficial, like live Taraweeh broadcasts from the Haramain. Similarly, ensure that all Eid shopping is out of the way prior to Ramadan, so that the entire family can utilize the last ten days for worship in the best possible manner.


Time should be reserved for personal and collective worship, throughout the day. This includes the daily Adhkar, Quran recitation, Qiyam, congregational prayers, Taraweeh, etc. As the head of household, encourage your family to participate in worship. Take the younger ones with you for the prayers, especially Taraweeh. Even if they do not participate fully, just being in the Masjid and seeing worshippers pray together in the special Ramadan atmosphere leaves a lasting impact on their young hearts and minds.


Learning is another beneficial activity that one should establish both at an individual as well as a family level. Personally, one can use Ramadan to memorize a portion of the Quran or understand its meaning, or study some Ahadeeth daily. The family can also learn together. Last Ramadan, while walking to and from the Masjid, my son, who was six, memorized some Surahs of Juz Amma just by repeating after me. Older kids can be asked to research the background of these Surahs and report back to the family when the family is together, for example, while driving, sharing meals or sitting down for a family study circle. The younger ones can be asked to draw and colour whatever they have heard.


Ramadan is also a time for sharing, whether it is food, clothes, wealth or knowledge. Some may disagree, but I have found that rather than arrange Iftar parties throughout the month for the rich, where people participate in food orgies and end up missing Taraweeh prayers, it is better to supply food to the less privileged members of society, for example, the needy, students, bachelors, orphans or travelers. Taking your kids with you for daily rounds of food distribution engenders a love of giving and an appreciation of the blessings they have in their lives. Projects can also be developed through Zakat money, which many Muslims choose to pay during this blessed month.


To free up time for all of the above activities, both for us and for our families, it is important to keep food shopping, preparation, presentation and consumption to a minimum. A simple meal can suffice daily for Iftar as well as Suhoor. Husbands can help by doing groceries quickly using a shopping list at a less crowded time of the day and not picking faults in food presented to them. They can go for a simple Iftar of dates and water and have dinner after Magrib prayers. This will ensure that the ladies of the house get sufficient chances to reap the benefits of these days and do not have to spend extra time in the kitchen.

Sons, husbands and fathers play a big role in helping to maximize the benefits of Ramadan for themselves and their families. A family, which is led properly to utilize Ramadan time for worship, learning and charity, can hope to achieve the real spiritual goals of this month, Insha’Allah.

Parenting by Umm Ammarah (rtaf)

10 parenting by umm ammarah

We are told that women’s participation in battles was limited to nursing the wounded and bringing water to the soldiers. Here is a woman who participated in the Battles of Uhud, Khyber, Hunayn, Yamamah, and others. She entered the battlefield with no other intention than defending the Prophet (sa).

About her, the Prophet (sa) said: “From where can anyone get courage like you, O Umm Ammarah (rtaf)?”

Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) defense of Islam did not end with the Prophet’s (sa) passing away; when the Fitnah (trial) of apostasy emerged, she pledged her support to Abu Bakr (rtam). He acknowledged that she was indeed a strong and daring woman; hence, he allowed her to join the Muslim forces fighting the apostate Musalymah Kathab.

The Battle of Yamamah was the toughest battle that the Muslims faced. Musalymah had gathered a large army and was confident that he will wipe off Islam. They plan and Allah (swt) plans too, and Allah (swt) is the Best of planners.

Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) son Habeeb (rtam) was captured by Musalymah’s forces. Musalymah asked him if he testified Muhammad (sa) to be the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied in affirmation. Musalymah then asked if he testified that he (Musalymah) was a prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied that he could not hear. Again Musalymah asked if he believed Muhammad (sa) was the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) again replied in affirmation. Musalymah then repeated his question about his being a prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied that he could not hear. The show went on for some time, and Habeeb (rtam) remained firm in his replies.

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Preparing for Ramadan

Vol 4- Issue 2 Preparing for ramadan copy

“O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Shaban, and let us reach Ramadan (in good health). Ameen.”

When I told a friend that I was doing research for an article on preparing for Ramadan, she said: “What are you going to write? We know everything there is about Ramadan. We’ve been hearing it over and over again!”

It’s true that Ayahs and sayings related to Ramadan will be the same, because our Deen is complete and will remain so till the end of time. But the fact that we have heard them many times makes us more accountable. We have no excuse to forget the guidance. We shouldn’t tune out thinking “Oh, I’ve heard this before.” Instead, we need to pay extra attention to revising, internalizing, applying and then sharing this knowledge.

For instance, your husband has asked you to pay the telephone bill. If he reminds you once, you could forget. But if you forget after being reminded several times and seeing that note stuck on the refrigerator, you will be left with a late fee and a lot of explaining to do. You heard the same message over and over again and still paid no attention.

Alhumdulillah, we have been taught the basic tenets of Ramadan since we were children. Let’s make Dua to take it a step further this year. We are the selected recipients of this blessed month. There are many non-Muslims and Muslims alike, for whom Ramadan comes and goes without making an iota of difference in their lives. Allah (swt) says that unlike other acts of worship, fasting is only for ME. What an honor! We have the opportunity to do something, for which Allah (swt) will personally decide the reward.

Just like we make preparations well in advance when a favourite guest is coming, we have to prepare in advance for Ramadan, so that we don’t waste time during the precious month.


  • Gather books/tapes/Dua pamphlets in one place, so you avoid wasting precious Ramadan time looking for stuff. If you have loaned some books to a friend or vice versa, see that they get to their respective owners before Ramadan. If you know you have two hours to complete an exam, you wouldn’t want to waste time sharpening pencils or looking for erasers, would you?
  • Host or attend a ‘Welcoming Ramadan’ talk and invite friends, who usually do not frequent these circles.
  • Plan where you will be going for Taraweeh. Find out which venues welcome women. Make child care and transportation arrangements beforehand.


  • Make small packets of dates with the Dua for breaking the fast. Pass these out to people in the Masjid, or your family and friends two weeks before Ramadan. This way you can hope for part of the reward each time they break their fast.
  • Complete your to-do list or postpone unimportant stuff for after Eid.
  • Buy small gifts for the children to mark the beginning of Ramadan. Blow up some balloons and give out candy, so that they know this is a special time. Hang up a Ramadan calendar, so they can count the days till Eid.
  • Complete Eid shopping for clothes beforehand. When I was in school, I used to envy my friends, who would go Eid shopping during the last ten days of Ramadan for bangles on ‘Chand Raat’. My mom made it a point to get us what we wanted for Eid before Ramadan began. We might not have understood the beauty of the lesson she was teaching us then, but, Alhamdulillah, now when I make my decisions about Eid shopping, I emulate her. If you really do need to go to the bazaar, get what you need and don’t loiter around.
  • Buy Eid gifts for family, friends and domestic help and don’t forget the kids. It is up to us, how important we make Eid for our children. If you’re planning to throw an Eid party for them, do the preparations before Ramadan or schedule the party at least a week after Eid.
  • Involve kids in wrapping gifts for the domestic help, so they see you giving them something new, as opposed to your old stuff all the time.


  • Make up the missed fasts before Ramadan.
  • Plan an ideal day by using the natural pegs of Salah. For example: “Between Fajr and Zuhr, I would like to memorize three Ayahs, and between Zuhr and Asr, I would like to listen to a Seerah tape.”
  • Evaluate your previous Ramadan and set goals for this year. Two days of a believer’s life should not be the same, just like each day should be better than the previous one. Similarly, two Ramadan’s should not be alike. Think about what you could have done better and avoid making previous mistakes. Set special, specific goals for the last ten nights of Ramadan.
  • Identify time wasters. Is it a talkative friend, an addictive computer game, the TV or surfing the Internet? Resolve to stay away from these things in Ramadan.

Household Duties

  • Freeze, freeze and freeze. Samosas, rolls, Kebabs, Chutneys – whatever your family enjoys. Make it beforehand, so you spend minimum time in the kitchen.
  • Practice moderation. Fasting is not postponing three meals only to make up for at Iftar. Eat what you like but in moderation, so that you are not so full that you can’t even go in Ruku at Maghrib!
  • If you are obsessed about cleaning, do all the detailed tasks before Ramadan, so that you and yours can take a breather. If you are fortunate to have help around the house, plan on being easy on them, as they will be fasting, too.


  • Limit lavish Iftar parties as much as possible. When you want to share a meal, send Iftar to the Masjid, deliver it to your neighbour in advance or find a deserving family. This way, you’ll be reaping the benefits of providing Iftar without having to take out fancy tableware and wearing your prettiest clothes!
  • Take out your phone book and call a relative you haven’t been in touch with ‘because she never calls.’ There might be some hurt feelings or unresolved issues that you can sort out before Ramadan.
  • Offer to watch a friend’s child, when she tries a mini-Itekaf for a few hours. She could return the favour on the days she doesn’t have to fast.

Family Time

  • Decide on a new Sunnah you want to adopt as a family. Miswak? Wudhu before bed?
  • Provide a list of options and have fun choosing.
  • Delegate chores to children according to their age. Your work load will be less, and they will get into the spirit of Ramadan.
  • Make a Sadaqah box and keep it in the kitchen. Encourage family members to pitch in every day.

This very moment, make Niyah to recharge your batteries and make this the best Ramadan yet. So even if, for some valid reason, you are unable to do all that you have planned, you can get reward for your intention, Insha’Allah.

[Infograph] Ramadan Prep

As Ramadan draws near, hiba presents an exclusive Ramadan prep infograph. The information in this infograph is taken from Shahr-u-Ramadan by Dr. Farhat Hashmi. Designed for hiba by Urooj Khan.

Click to enlarge


Inculcating the Akhirah Attitude in Children


We are living in times of Fitnah. According to Ibn al-Arabi: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, and Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

It is the responsibility of parents to make their children focused on the Akhirah. When children are referred to as Fitnah in the Quran, it means that the parents are being tested as to how much they can keep their children Akhirah-focused and how far can they keep the Dunya from their hearts.

Before enumerating the techniques that can be helpful in teaching kids about the Hereafter, we have to look into the Marshmallow Experiment conducted on children aged four and five, which they remembered into their young adulthood. The experiment was based on delayed gratification, which is recognized by researchers as a critical skill for prosperity. Basically, the children were offered a small reward in the form of a marshmallow or a cookie and simultaneously offered two rewards if they could wait for a short period. The results indicated that those who could delay gratification due to greater self-control were found to be healthier in adulthood and had better life outcomes.


On and off, whenever children have their assessments or tests at schools, parents should find an opportunity to talk about Akhirah and the temporary nature of this life. Physical bonding with the child is extremely important; hence, a mother can embrace the child and explain the parable of this life as a test and this world as an examination hall, pointing out that that the Quran and the Sunnah are just like the syllabus to prepare. The attitude of the parent has to be so loving and kind that the children actually believe and trust the parents. If they delay gratification, or do not watch those cartoons or give up on any bad habits, they can be sure that delaying will be worth in the next life.

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The Ashab-e-Kahf For Today’s Youth

Ashab e Kahf

Transcribed for hiba by Asma Imran

I would like to highlight some lessons from the story of the Ashab-e-Kahf (People of the Cave) which I feel are significantly missing in Muslim discourse especially those related to our youth.

Withdrawal from Mainstream Culture

The first thing I want to talk about is the cultural onslaught. The People of the Cave drew themselves away from the dominant culture when they observed that it was overwhelmingly evil. Actually, a verdict was passed against them according to which they were to be executed as a result of their faith; so they pulled themselves out.

One of the most important lessons to draw from this is that until our lives are in danger, we have to engage with the society. As Muslims, we cannot have the attitude that we are not going to mingle in the society because everything outside is a Fitnah from which we have to protect and shelter ourselves, and the only way we are going to preserve our faith is by totally shutting ourselves out from the outside world. This means that we’ve already accepted defeat. It says that everybody else is attacking us, and we’ve got to save ourselves by pulling back and staying strong within our fort.

However, the entire idea of Islam and the imagery that Allah (swt) presents of Islam is that of truth being hurled against falsehood. Allah (swt) gives the image of truth being like a weapon and falsehood being the victim and running away. Thus, the truth is attacking falsehood, and falsehood is on the run. So who’s on the offense and who’s on the defence? Who’s actually questioning the wrong happening in our society and engaging with it and saying: “We are here to change things?” That’s the truth. And who’s actually supposed to go into hiding? That’s supposed to be falsehood.

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Harnessing Your Element

harnessing your element

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question asked of children from a very early age. As they grow and mature, their choices and, more importantly, the motivation for choosing a future profession change. When I put this question to young kids aged three to seven, I was taken aback by their courage. I had in front of me an astronaut, a policeman, a van driver, two pilots, an aircraft engineer, a gardener, a mechanical engineer, and a chef. Interestingly, the smallest children (under age of three) chose to be ‘baba’ and ‘mummy’ – undeniably smart choices, which define the right priorities in life! However, when I posed the same question to A’ level girls at a prestigious local school, the list, unsurprisingly, consisted mainly of doctors, lawyers, and engineers, with a social worker and a writer the only dissidents. Do they all truly want to be doctors and lawyers? Where have the astronauts and the chefs disappeared?

It seems that today our youngsters tend to pursue the road to success, as defined by parents, teachers, and society at large, instead of following their own dreams. More often than not, they themselves believe that financial stability is the most crucial building block of their future, leaving their passions and personal aspirations ‘for a later time’, if they consider giving them a chance at all. It is hard to blame them, as they have to make space for themselves in an increasingly materialistic world which emphasizes the rat-race above personal fulfilment. Often, they choose ‘successful’ professions for the status, prestige and, of course, the money involved, even if that means dragging themselves to work every morning. Can we help our youth to have more fulfilling work lives? Sir Ken Robinson says that we can.

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Face it or Fake it

face it or fake it

People don’t fret too much about the amount of fabric covering their bodies. But they do worry sick about the make-up that conceals their face.

The billion dollar industry of cosmetics and dermatology products rests on the self-consciousness of women in particular but men are fast catching up as well. What are the common tag lines?

  • “Enhance your beauty.” (If I am beautiful, why do I need to enhance it?)
  • “Look naturally beautiful.” (So you mean to say I am ugly otherwise?)
  • “Feel confident.” (My confidence is wired to your shampoo and lipstick? Heaven help me!)

But the problem is that the standards of the world keep changing. Light is in, dark is out. Ultra-thin is in, normal thin is out. Wavy is in, straight is out. Phew! It’s impossible to catch up, let alone enjoy the moment.

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Muslim Youth: Active, Aware, and Able

Muslim youth

Youth: a word that carries a thousand different connotations. It is a word that reminds us of strength, change, and potential.

Everyone is well-aware of the value of youth and its significance in a society. They are in that period of life when they believe almost anything is possible. The youth hold the power to change the world because they will be the leaders tomorrow.

The youth are full of dreams and desires, and they possess enough physical strength and will power to actively struggle through the process of achieving great things.

Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Almost everything great has been done by the youth.”

The youth of today are presented with much better life opportunities than their parents. We live in a world that preaches the message of meritocracy. You can get anywhere you want, anywhere you aspire to, if you try hard enough. This, in itself, is inspiration enough.

In Islam, great value is placed upon our youth. The Prophet (sa) is reported to have said: “The feet of the son of Adam shall not move from before his Lord on the Day of Judgement until he is asked about five things: how he lived his life, how he utilized his youth, with what means he earned his wealth, how he spent his wealth, and what he did with his knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)

One cannot even hope to bring about a change in the world and most importantly, in the thinking of others, without any knowledge of how the world works. Education plays a vital role in understanding the ways of the world. Only when we identify the problems can we go about addressing them.

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Lessons in Love from Umm Atikah Bint Zaid (rtaf)

lessons in love

Umm Atikah bint Zaid (rtaf) was the daughter of Zaid ibn Nufayl and the sister of Saeed ibn Zaid (rtam), one of the ten lucky ones for whom the Prophet (sa) confirmed entry into Paradise. She was also related to Umar ibn al-Khattab (rtam) through her father.

A Husband’s Testimony about His Wife

When Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr (ra) saw Umm Atikah (ra), he sent her a proposal of marriage which she accepted. Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr’s fondness for his wife, however, made him slacken in his religious duties. He would remain at home more often, reduced participation in the battles, and would not hasten for the prayers like before. When Abu Bakr Siddiq (rtam) noticed this, he was deeply upset and feared for his son’s religion. Upon learning that this was due to Abdullah’s (rtam) fondness for his wife, Abu Bakr (rtam) instructed that they should be separated.

Obeying his father’s command, Abdullah (rtam) divorced Umm Atikah (rtaf) and again became active in his religious commitments. However, this did not last long, as he missed his beloved wife deeply. Her absence turned him into a poet. He uttered verses in her praise and testified that she was a woman of good habits, wisdom, and high moral character. He admired her truthfulness and her acceptance of the separation.

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At What Age do I Teach my Child?

teaching my child

Transcribed for hiba by Alia Adil

An awesome question came from a mother during the Gulf tour who asked: “My son is two-and-a-half years old. When do I begin to teach him Arabic grammar, Quran, Tajweed, and memorization because I want him to be raised with the Quran?”

What a beautiful concern you have with your child that you want him to learn the Quran, but he is three years old! What were you doing when you were three years old? You don’t remember! Kids are on the Fitrah – they are beautiful. Let them be. Teach them. Yes, teach them lovingly. Some kids have more aptitude and want to learn quickly, so you give them that opportunity. Some kids want play more – let them play more and take their time.

Parents have to be flexible with their children and not impose the same standards (on all of them). They should not compare one child to the other, especially in terms of their Quran. I have six kids; not all of them memorize Quran the same way. Not all of them study the Quran the same way. I have one child who memorizes something in five minutes – she’s so fast, amazing! I have another child for whom the same memorization could take a month. And I don’t compare: “Why don’t you do it like your sister, huh?” I don’t do that. This is Zulm, and it creates hatred towards Deen. “Because of this Book, my father likes my other sister more than me.” That’s wrong – stop it! Stop being so stressed over your kids. Allah (swt) doesn’t want your child to be a Hafiz; Allah (swt) doesn’t want your child to be an Alim (scholar). Allah (swt) wants your child to be a good Muslim. Allah (swt) wants your child to love his or her Deen. That’s what He (swt) wants.

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Friends in Islam – A Powerful Reminder

friends in Islam

Transcribed for hiba by Asma Imran

Every one of us is born into a society where we interact with people from a very young age: our neighbours, people we go to school with, those whom we’ve seen elsewhere in the neighbourhood, and so on. And as time passes, we become closer to them, and they begin to be known as our friends.

What does Islam teach us about friends? We need to be aware that we should follow a certain set of rules and regulations when interacting with people whom we consider to be our friends. What should we share with them? How should they impact our lives? Let us take a look at some of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (sa) in this regard.

The Prophet (sa) said: “A man follows his friend’s religion, so you should be careful about who you befriend.” (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood) Therefore it is very important to select our friends carefully, making sure we do not befriend those who will have a negative impact on us. These teachings of the blessed Prophet (sa) are priceless. If he says that a person is known by the type of friends that he/she keeps, we need to realize that this is exactly the way it will be.

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The Best Husband; A Complete Believer

best husband

By Ahmed Faraz Khan – Freelance writer and student at Islamic Online University

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The most complete believers in faith are those with the best character among them. And the best of you are those who are best to your women.” (Tirmidhi)

Does it matter how much you earn, what car you own, or how big your house is, if you aren’t able to be the best friend or a source of security and comfort for your wife? She should feel protected, happy, and at ease in your company.

Here are five tips for improving your relationship with your spouse:


Respect is the most important aspect of a relationship, especially when it comes to marriage. In fact, most marriage issues are somehow related to the element of respect. You have to respect your wife as an individual. Respect her likes, dislikes, moods, interests, and personality. Give her space, and don’t criticize every little thing she does. Realize that she is a unique person who deserves respect for who she is.

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A Successful Life?

successful life

By Leyla Natalia Bahadori – Writer

Translated by Laila Brence

I recently read a news item on the Russian Reporter introducing the new model of a cell phone by the Danish company Aesir which produces mobiles for VIPs. This new model was named “Successful Life”. It has nearly no functions of a traditional mobile phone: you cannot use email, go online, take photos, record videos, play games, or even use a navigator. This phone has only one but very expensive feature, which differentiates it from regular mobiles: the entire set is made of gold and, thus, costs USD 57,400. Only a few of these mobile phones have been produced, only for the VVIPs, or those who have a ‘successful life’.

I have never been among those who drool over the riches of others, keep an eye on how much money they have, and discuss the lifestyles of VIPs. The financial situation of others has concerned me only at a time when my children had nothing to eat. But even then I didn’t think: “I wish I also had that.” Instead, my thoughts were: “Well, I don’t even have enough to feed my kids”, as I was busy calculating the number of months I could continue to buy food instead of thinking about acquiring that latest USD 2,000 designer watch.

At the moment, my kids do have enough to eat, so the hefty price of this mobile set does not hurt me as much. However, the name of the model, “Successful Life”, does push some buttons.

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Natural Cough Relievers

flax seeds

Thyme: Thyme flavonoids relax tracheal and ileal muscles which are involved in coughing, and they also reduce inflammation. To make the tea, mix 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves in 1 cup boiling water, cover, and then steep for 10 minutes and strain. Thyme is best for coughs and for good reason; the tiny leaves are packed with cough-relieving compounds.

Flax Seeds: Combine flax seeds with honey and lemon. Once you boil flaxseeds in water, they become a thick, gooey gel that soothes the throat and the bronchial tract. Honey and lemon act as mild antibiotics and make this syrup super-soothing. Boil 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds in 1 cup of water, until the water becomes thick. Strain and then add 3 tablespoons each of honey and lemon juice. Take 1 tablespoon as needed.

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Build Your Memory, Enhance Your Capacity


Memory is the most important tool in the process of learning. Since the best way for Muslims to use their memory is by learning the Quran, we should take a closer look at the memorization process in order to utilize this ability to the utmost.

During our years of schooling, a large emphasis is placed on increasing the pace of our memorization. However, there is a significant difference between learning and understanding. Learning does not always require conscious effort. Ever heard of rote learning? Without having any knowledge of it, we have rote learned multiplication tables. Do we really think about it or understand multiplication better? No, we don’t, because rote learning is merely a mechanical process. Understanding, however, requires conscious thought where we comprehend the meaning of what we learn. If you challenge somebody’s understanding of material that is just rote-learned and not really understood, you will get a blank face in response. Deep understanding, on the other hand, leads to both insight as well as creativity.

The cerebral cortex (a sheet of neural tissue that covers the cerebrum or forebrain) plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is divided into four main regions or lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the occipital lobe.

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