Stories from the Life of Ali (ra)

prob1Hazrat Ali (ra) was well-known for his brilliance in mathematics. In the following stories, he provided immediate yet accurate answers to complex mathematical problems that were brought to him:

Problem # 1:

Two men travelling together sat down to have lunch. One had five loaves of bread, the other three. Another traveler joined them, and they all decided to share the eight loaves by dividing each loaf into three parts. Each man then ate eight pieces.

When the third man got up to leave, he left the two men a total of eight Dirhams to pay for their loaves of bread.

The man who had five loaves gave the one with three loaves three Dirhams and kept five for himself. The man with the three loaves didn’t agree – he wanted a 50% share, i.e., four Dirhams. The man with the five loaves refused and the dispute was brought before Ameer-ul-Mumineen, Ali (ra) bin Abi Talib. Upon hearing their story, Ali (ra) told the man with three loaves that the man with five loaves had already given him more than his fair share and requested him to accept the three Dirhams. The man with the three loaves refused.

Ali (ra) said that in fact the man with the three loaves was entitled to only one dirham out of the eight! He then offered the following explanation: the men had eight loaves of bread divided into three equal parts each, which was equal to twenty-four pieces. Each traveler ate 8 pieces. The man, who had three loaves, had a total of nine pieces from his loaves, out of which he ate eight, leaving only one piece for the third traveler. The man with the five loaves had contributed fifteen pieces, out of which he ate eight, leaving seven pieces for the third man. Hence, the man with the five loaves was entitled to seven Dirhams, whereas the man with the three loaves was entitled to only one Dirham! Subhan’Allah!

Problem # 2:

prob2

In another case, a dying man made a will stating that out of his seventeen camels, half were to be given to his eldest son, one-third to his second son and one-ninth to his youngest son. After his death, his relatives could not figure out how to divide the seventeen camels according to the man’s will. So they took their problem to the Caliph Ali (ra) bin Abi Talib, knowing that he would have the answer. Ali (ra) listened to the problem then said, “I will lend one of my camels so that there are eighteen camels and then divide them according to the man’s will. So the eldest son gets half of the eighteen camels, which is nine. The second son gets one-third of the eighteen camels, which is six. The youngest son gets one-ninth of the eighteen camels, which is two.” “That’s seventeen camels,” he said. “And now I will take my camel back!”

[http://storiesoftherighteous.wordpress.com/tag/loaves-of-bread/]

Feed Them with Apples, not Apps

“He is too young for that.” This is a common expression that mothers have heard from their elders or other mothers under the banner of free advice. However, I have experienced it to be entirely wrong. We often ignore our toddlers and/ or underestimate their capabilities that Allah (swt) has blessed them with.

It is supported by researches that fetus starts listening and recognizing the voice of his mother while in her womb. This indicates his ability to comprehend and adapt to other clues, when he is just a toddler. Being a mother, I have made some achievements to connect with my son emotionally and most importantly – to connect him to Deen.

Listening skills are finer than speaking at early years. So make use of it by talking to your toddler about things. Describe him the procedure that you will do to make a simple shake or whatever, tell him about the existence of Allah (swt) and angels, who record deeds. Explain him appropriate behaviours and show him emotions by modeling yourself.

Instead of making your child addicted to television and other gadgets, encourage him to listen to Quran’s recitation. A wide range of Islamic Nasheeds are also available online. You can check Kids Land by Dr. Farhat Hashmi – it has Urdu, English, and Arabic Nasheeds that toddlers love to listen. Memorize them yourself and sing with your babies. They will love your actions and voice, and this way you will limit use of computers and television from an early age.

I was astonished to know how quickly these little toddlers pick up visual information. Buy them colorful Islamic books, read them out aloud to them and ask them questions related to the context. Repetition and consistency are the two keys to success. Masha’Allah, my son learned to perform ablution, when he was one plus by just looking at me, while I was making ablution, and with the aid of pictures. I involve him in craft work by making thematic artwork for Hajj or Ramadan and posters on Salah and other pillars of Islam.

pic1

 

pic2

Narrate to them stories at bed time – stories, which talk about good behaviour, Jannah, animals, and prophets. What is worth doing is your involvement in it: the way you narrate, your gestures, actions and tone will make it a fun learning. You have no idea how much impact it can have on his beliefs in later years.

Always offer them choice by giving two or three options. By this you will catch them psychologically, and they will have no way of saying ‘no’ but to accept from the choices given. For instance, ask them which color milk you want? Red (add few drops of red color juice) or chocolate? They will be tied up to the options and will choose one, Insha’Allah.

Make their eatables attractive. Spend some time and effort in preparing healthy foods; and do not leave them on mercy of junk food from an early age. You can make oat muffins instead of normal all-purpose flour; or can bake cookies of various shapes by using alphabet cutters, etc.

I am not in favour of parents who helicopter their kids day and night, but a cold and unresponsive mother will deprive her child from strong psychological and emotional development. The more stimuli you provide in early years, the stronger will be the cognition and response later on. Make wise choices and select good exposure, while your children are small, as it will facilitate their development into better Muslims.

How to Raise our Children

serviceLife is a precious gift from Allah (swt) to all human beings. It is upon us as to how we spend this gift, whether we earn the blessings of Heaven or the torment of Hell fire. The truth is that we all should spend our life according to the Quran and Sunnah in order to make our life, our homes and our society- peaceful.

As parents, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to raise our children and so we put in endless efforts to bring them up in an Islamic manner. But the question is that even after all the efforts put in by the parents, why don’t our children learn good Islamic manners?  After a session of contemplation and thorough survey, I ended up with the answer that since we as elders are not implementing those things that we teach our children in our lives, then how can we expect them to act upon them. And if we just say something that does not reflect through our deeds and actions, then how will our kids learn the application of those teachings in their life? It’s basically “Walk the Talk Rule” that should be followed! Hence, before anything else, we have to take care of this issue.

Children are great imitators. Therefore we should give them something great to imitate. And the most important point to remember in raising kids is that we should not scold them if they do any mistake. Instead we should stay calm and try to teach them with great love. This will build our respect in their mind. And if they start respecting us, they will respect other people also.

A mother is better than a thousand teachers. It is said that home is the first school of a child. So we should make our home the house of Allah (swt) by instilling Islamic teachings in it and inculcating them in every single aspect of our life.

When a kid is in early childhood, he or she is very sensitive and is building a whole personality which thoroughly depends upon what environment he or she gets at home and what lessons are being taught. So we should give them self confidence by treating them nicely in front of others. We should trust them so that they never lie to us and make ourselves their best friends so they love us. And whenever we do something for them, our intention should be that we are doing for the sake of Allah (swt) and not to receive any kind of future reward from our kids. As a result, you will see how Allah (swt) helps you and makes life easier for you.

There is no better companion for a kid than a mother- the most pure and sincere relationship in the world. And there is no better guide and mentor for a child than his father, but everything should be done in a limit and only for Allah (swt).

We must appreciate kids when they achieve something. This will make them happy and give a robust to their self-esteem and help them put trust in their own abilities for further achievements.

Little angels are interested in stories so we should tell them the stories of our prophets, his companions (Sahaba) and the Islamic history so that the love for Islam nurtures in them.

These are the little things I feel that if we implement and apply them, our lives will be very peaceful and our kids will Insha’Allah become good human beings and true Muslims.

Who are my Daughter’s Role Models?

footprintsOnce upon a time, there was a little girl who loved listening to stories. Her favourite were the stories about other little girls – just like her. She would listen to the tales of their adventures and later emulate them in her play. She loved to do everything the way the characters in her books did.

All children love stories and they need someone to look up to: someone to admire and someone to imitate. I’ve got two young daughters Alhumdulillah, and I can tell how the stories that are either read to them or discovered by them influence their imagination. It’s always the female characters that they are most interested in; after all every little girl wants to be a princess.

I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children.

I used to tell my daughters the stories I was told when I was little: all the fairy tales about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and so on. Then I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children. Cinderella and other beauties only dream of getting married to a prince and in times of need, they rely upon the magic wand of the fairy godmother. Needless to say, magic is Haram; however, even in the make-believe world of fairy tales, the characters rely upon it; some events are beyond their control while others happen by pure luck. It gives children a lesson only in wishful thinking and an escapist approach. All the little girls want to be princesses and I don’t think that aspiring to be a ‘princess’ is necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t want them to be the Sleeping Beauty kind of princess.

The history of Islam is full of great stories. There were a number Muslimahs who were pious, courageous, and ambitious. They achieved success in this world as well as in the eternal life. First of all, there are the Greatest Four: the four women mentioned by the Prophet (sa), as those who have achieved the highest ranks in Jannat Al-Firdaus:

  • Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh
  • Maryam, the mother of Isa (as)
  • Khadijah (rta), the first wife of the Prophet (sa)
  • Fatimah (rta), his daughter

Each of these women led a different lifestyle and each had been tried by Allah (swt). Each proved her individual strength.

Financial Status Asiya and Khadijah (rta) were rich, while Maryam and Fatimah (rta) lived in poor conditions
Marital Status Asiya had been tortured upon the orders of her husband, while Khadijah (rta) and Fatimah (rta) were happily married; Maryam was a single mother.
Professional Status Khadijah (rta) was a businesswoman, while Fatimah (rta) was a housewife

 

Each of them was different, but together they tell a story of all women and demonstrate a perfect example as to what it takes to be a great woman and a great Muslimah. And these are the characters that I would like my daughters to hear about and learn from. These are the best role models for young Muslimahs: the Princesses of the Akhirah.

Of course, there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba. As mentioned in the Quran, she was the one who recognized the truth of Islam and converted her nation. I would love to read such stories to my children, but sadly there is not much written about them in a format that would be suitable for young children.

Alhumdulillah, there is a wonderful variety of Islamic literature available in the bookstores nowadays, but most of them tell the stories of the Prophets. There is no doubt that these are very valuable stories, but I think it’s important for young girls to learn about female characters, so they can have someone to look up to and some good examples to emulate.

there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba.

Since there is this gap in the market, I have started reading adult literature on the Sahabiyat. I try to retell these stories to my kids in a language they would understand. And after a more thorough search, I have discovered some children’s literature, in which the main characters are young Muslimahs who have their problems and their adventures; they always come up with a solution that is in compliance with the guidance of Islam and teaches a valuable lesson to young readers. Seeing how powerfully stories influence children’s dreams, I am now much more considerate when choosing books for my daughters.

Of course, the role models for our children are not only the literary characters. It is the adults around them who affect them the most, teaching them by giving an example of everyday life. I know my daughters will learn from their aunties, grandmothers, elder cousins and friends. But first of all, they will learn from me. That’s why I should try to be the best example for them. It’s a huge responsibility, but also a great honour. I pray to Allah (swt) that He would make me the best I can become, so that my daughters would learn good ways from me, Insha’Allah.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

Jan 11 - Seven habits families

‘Love’ is a Verb

A man once complained: “I am really worried about my marriage. My wife and I don’t have the same feelings for each other that we used to have. I guess we just don’t love each other any more. What can I do?”

His friend replied: “Love her.”

The man answered: “I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”

“My friend, love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of that verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

Develop habit # 1: Be proactive. Be the first one to bring about a positive change in a relationship or situation.

I am a hardworking man!

I came home from work one day, and my three-year-old son Brenton met me at the door. He beamed with pride: “Dad, I am a hardworking man!”

I later found out that while my wife was downstairs, Brenton had emptied a jug of water from the fridge on the floor. My wife initially thought of yelling and spanking him. However, she controlled her anger and asked patiently: “Brenton, what were you trying to do?”

Brenton informed his mother that he was trying to help her out by washing the dishes and he had tried to take water from the fridge because he could not reach the sink.

My wife gently explained to him that he could call her for help and she would bring him a chair to stand on and do the dishes in the sink. Now, they could clean up the mess together. Brenton thought that was a fantastic idea and helped his mom mop up the wet floor.

It took her about ten minutes to clean up the mess. Had she been reactive, it would still have taken her ten minutes to clean up the mess. But that evening my son would have met me with the expression: “Daddy, I am a bad boy!”

Develop habit # 2: Begin with the end in mind. Develop a family mission statement. It means a combined, unified expression from all family members of what the family is all about, what family members want to do and be, and the principles that will guide the family, Insha’Allah.

The wrong wall

A man in his late fifties was in line for the presidency of his company. However, he was not sure if he really was happy with it.

“I missed the childhood of my kids. When I couldn’t provide them with my time, I bought them off by giving them things, but the real bonding never took place. Today, my grown-up married kids feel that enormous loss,” he confessed.

“Now, I am really excited about a family project we have thought out together. I call it building the three-generation home that I am having constructed right on the beach. This is more important for me.

Notice, how for many years, ‘family’ was not this man’s first priority. But he eventually realized that his professional role is temporary. When he retires, the company will go on. But his role in the family will never end. He will never be replaced.

Develop habit # 3: Put first things first. Prioritize your family in today’s turbulent world.

Every time you win, I lose

A father shared an incident about his two sons, aged twelve and ten, who frequently squabbled. This was negatively impacting the whole family atmosphere. During a much-awaited vacation, heated arguments and conflicts arose again.

The father made both his sons face each other. The older son spoke up addressing the younger one: “I hate this vacation, and I want to go home just to get away from you.”

The younger boy, feeling hurt, blinked away sudden tears. With his head hung low, he asked quietly: “Why?

The older retorted with certainty: “Because you annoy me by your remarks, and I don’t want to be around you.

The younger one sighed: “I just do that because every time we play a game, you always win.

“Well, sure I win,” the older boy quickly replied. “I’m better than you.”

With that the little boy could hardly speak. Then from the depths of his heart he said: “Yeah, but every time you win, I lose. And I just can’t stand to lose all the time. So I annoy you… I don’t want you to go home. I like being with you. But I don’t want to lose all the time.”

These tearful words reached the heart of the older brother and his tone softened a bit: “Okay, okay, I won’t go home. But will you, please, stop saying the stupid things you say and do?”

“Okay,” nodded the younger boy. “And will you, please, stop feeling that you always have to win?”

That candid heart-to-heart saved the vacation. It didn’t make things perfect but it made them tolerable. The older boy never forgot his little brother’s words: “I just can’t stand to lose all the time.” The father, who was observing the two silently, surely never did.

Develop habit # 4: Think ’win-win’. Have shared expectations and commitments regarding desired results and guidelines. Remember, no one likes to lose, especially in close family relationships. But we typically approach situations with a win-lose mindset, without even realizing it hurts our loved ones.

Frigidaire only!

Stephen Covey and his wife Sandra, in spite of a stable and great marital relationship, almost always disagreed over the choice of electrical appliances for their home. Sandra would insist on buying the Frigidaire brand, regardless of how tight their budget was. Stephen would feel that this was illogical and irrational.

One day, when they had to decide what appliance to buy, Sandra opened up: “As a young girl, I saw my father support our family under great financial pressure… He was a high school history teacher and coach for years. But to make both ends meet, he went into the appliance business… One of the main brands that his store carried was Frigidaire.”

“At night, when he came home exhausted from work, he would lie down on a couch. I would rub his feet and sing to him. This was a time we both enjoyed for many years. It

was special, because during these moments, my father would talk about his worries and concerns. He also greatly appreciated Frigidaire.”

“…During a serious economic downturn, when he faced crucial financial difficulties, the only thing that enabled him to stay in business was that Frigidaire financed his inventory.”

It dawned on Stephen then that Frigidaire was not just an appliance to Sandra. It was a balm for her painful memories of the past that she had shared with her father. Naturally, she felt a deep loyalty towards it, as it had saved her family in troubling times. Stephen had never tried to understand that. He hugged her quietly and felt his own tears. The choice was made. It would be Frigidaire only!

Develop habit # 5: Seek first to understand… then to be understood. Make it safe for others to talk and share their concerns with you naturally and spontaneously. Listen and empathize, because one of the deepest hungers of the human heart is to be understood.

My daughter is not like me

A woman shared that when she was eleven years old, her parents gifted her a beautiful edition of a great classic. She read through it lovingly, and when she turned to the last page, she wept. She had literally lived through it. Carefully, she preserved it and passed it to her daughter Cathy as a treasured heritage and imagined her to appreciate it as much as she had. After struggling with two chapters, Cathy put it on her shelf, where the book sat forlorn for months. The mother was deeply disappointed.

She would confide in her husband that she was overwhelmed by Cathy’s bubbly nature, endless sense of humour, zest for life and an over-all happy state of mind. The mother’s unspoken disapproval was communicated to the daughter occasionally in different ways. This hurt the child’s feelings, too.

One morning, when the mother was glancing through her old photographs, she saw one of her own and her sister’s linking hands together. She thought of all the great times they had spent together. Yet, they were so different. Then, suddenly, as if a bolt of lightening hit her, she realized that it wasn’t essential to be alike to be good friends at all. All that was needed was to appreciate the differences, put them in good use and celebrate them eventually! How could she impose her personality on her daughter? It would be cruel to expect her to become a carbon copy of herself. What about her individuality?

This reawakening saved their relationship. From that day onwards, she began to see her daughter in a new light. Their relationship took on a whole new dimension of richness and joy.

Develop habit # 6: Synergize. The term ‘synergy’ means that the result of two or more people produces together more than the sum of what they could produce separately (one plus one equals three or more). Differences are part of a greater whole. Learn to put them together and search for new solutions.

You stopped to rest every hour!

A man wanted to cut down a tree. He sawed through its huge, thick tree trunk. He kept at it all day long. When he was half way through, he paused for a minute to catch his breath.

He looked up and saw another person a few yards away, who had also been sawing a tree. He couldn’t believe his eyes! That person had sawed almost completely through the tree trunk! He had started at about the same time the first person and his tree was about the same size as the first man’s, but the second man stopped to rest every hour or so, while the first man kept going.

The first man asked incredulously: “How in the world have you gotten so much more done than I have? You didn’t even work non-stop like I did! In fact, you stopped to rest every hour.” The second man smiled and replied: “Yes, you saw me stop every hour to rest, but what you didn’t see was that every time I rested, I also sharpened the saw!”

Develop habit # 7: Sharpen the saw. We and our relationships both need maintenance. If we neglect them, they begin to deteriorate. To achieve that, we should refresh and re-energize ourselves. We can pray together, discuss the inspiring lives of our prophets, organize health and exercise schedules, plan family outings and fun time, etc.