The Prophet’s (sa) Classroom


While attending classes at university, I often wondered at the lack of seriousness among my class fellows. It disturbed me that despite a brilliant academic record, there was a palpable lack of interest. Later, as a teacher, I tried hard to create interest in the classroom. At times my effort paid off. However, during other times, students felt an overload of knowledge and the lecture hall became a dreaded place. During these moments of failure I wished that we had a guide on how to optimize learning within the classroom environment. The Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) example in this regard is a treasure for teachers. The teaching techniques that he used proved to be so sound that his students carried the message of Islam with unmatched zeal and enthusiasm.

The Prophet’s (sa) classroom was not a conventional room. Rather, the Prophet (sa) used every opportunity and every occasion to teach Islam to his companions. For instance, to convey the intensity of the verdict against stealing from war spoils, the Prophet (sa) stood besides and held up the war spoils after the battle. (Bukhari) On the tenth of Dhul-Hijja, the Prophet (sa) questioned people about the sanctity of the day, the month and the city they were standing in and thereby conveyed the sanctity of each other’s blood, property and honour. (Bukhari)

Losing no opportunity to convey the message of Islam to his students, our beloved Prophet (sa) was no ordinary teacher. He did not lecture people consistently. We have a lot of examples, where the Prophet (sa) taught by his own example, without uttering a word. Aisha (rta), wife of the Prophet (sa), said that when the Prophet (sa) saw mucus, phlegm or sputum on the wall of the Qibla (direction faced in prayer), he scraped it off. (Muwatta)

Whenever the Prophet (sa) spoke, it was a special occasion. (Bukhari) Therefore, people tended to pay more attention to what he said. Aisha (rta) said that whenever he would speak, the listener could count the words on his own fingers. (Bukhari) For instance, the Prophet (sa) said: “A man is with the one he loves.” (Bukhari) He used analogies in order to clearly convey the message. For instance, Abu Bakr (rta) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) saying: ‘Behold! Can any dirt remain on the body of any one of you if there were a river at his door, in which he washes himself five times daily?’ They said: ‘Nothing of his dirt will remain (on his body).’ He said: ‘That is like the five prayers, by which Allah obliterates sins.’” (Muslim)

Using diagrams and drawings, the Prophet (sa) captured the attention of the companions and got the message across in a clear and visual manner. For instance, the Prophet (sa) drew a box with a line going from the middle of it to the outside of it and then he drew other lines that were cutting into that line. The Prophet (sa) said that man was inside the box. The box represented death that surrounded him from all sides. The line going out of the box were his hopes, and the lines that cut across the middle line were disasters that cut into a man’s desires. If a man escapes one disaster he gets embroiled in another one and so on. (Bukhari)

The fact that the Prophet’s (sa) companions were able to understand the message of Islam clearly was also largely due to their respect and love for him. Usamah Ibn Sharik (rta) narrates: “I came to see the Prophet (sa) while his companions were with him, and they seemed as still as if birds had alighted on top of their heads. I gave him my Salam and I sat down. [Then Bedouins came and asked questions which the Prophet answered.] … The Prophet (sa) then stood up and the people stood up. They began to kiss his hand, whereupon I took his hand and placed it on my face. I found it more fragrant than musk and cooler than sweet water.” (Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim and Ahmad)

As students and teachers, we have a lot to learn from the Prophet’s (sa) classroom. It is time we stop teaching and learning Islam in a boring and tedious manner. If we want our future generations to imbibe the message of Islam, we need to pay closer attention to the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) and respect our teachers.

Youth: Future of the Ummah

cover - youth - Jul 11

Compiled by Tooba Mumtaz

It definitely goes without saying that the Muslim youth of today will be the leaders of the Ummah tomorrow. This is a role for which they have to be formally groomed, by their families, educational institutes, and the society at large. Today, the sad reality is that the youth are “lost” – they lack direction and they definitely are in dire need of role models to emulate and leaders to follow. So, what can be done to improve the situation and channel the youth towards a positive future?

Hiba interviewed a few prominent personalities, who have worked with the youth in different fields. These individuals included:

1)      Salman Asif Siddiqui: Director, Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC), Educationist and Parent Counsellor.

2)      Amina Murad: Administrator, Star Links School and author of award-winning Flowers of Islam publications.

3)      Shujja-uddin Shaikh: Academic Director, Quran Academy.

4)      Saulat Pervez: teacher at Generations’ School, content researcher, and writer.

5)      Sumaira Dada: ex-teacher and writer.

The aforementioned individuals gave their valued input on three aspects:

Top three success strategies for working with the youth in order to motivate them to be the leaders of tomorrow

Salman Asif Siddiqui

1)      Respect the youth and nourish their confidence, self esteem and trust.

2)      Educate them about the culturally-rich history of Muslim leaders who were pioneers of the Islamic history/society. Tell them their success stories in the different fields of life.

3)      Thirdly, there should broaden their vision and keep the global perspective of humanity in mind, while being loyal to their regional identities. We want to produce world leaders.

Amina Murad

Act upon what you say

The youth need good contemporary role models to emulate. Be one of them: a sound practicing Muslim and follower of the Prophet (sa). Be a leader at home and in the community.

Communicate vision

Telling is not communication. Be visionary and give them a vision. Be their friend and show them ways of achieving their goal, despite the setbacks. Provide positive feedback to motivate them instead of continuous criticism. Help them focus by removing time wasters that sap their energy. Youth should be taught to find their special talent, develop it, and channelize their energy in that direction.

Involve them and channelize their energy

Muslim youth have fewer opportunities to channelize their energies. Authentic work experience and involvement in schools, colleges and family and community services will channelize their energies. Positive involvement will help them unleash their potential and help them gain confidence to work towards their vision. Their blurred vision of a glamorous world will be shattered and the harsh realities will excite them to share their resources with others. Leadership will thus follow.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

First of all, we should clearly define success. It is crystal clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the ultimate success is that of the hereafter. As such, I propose the following strategies:

  1. Try to inculcate real faith (through company of pious people and teachings of Quran and Sunnah), as faith is the fundamental motivating force for good deeds.
  2. Get authentic knowledge of what is Halal and what is Haram (through the teachings of Quran and Sunnah); we cannot move forward towards success unless we know the right path ourselves.
  3. Keep in view the life of the Prophet (sa) – according to the Quran, his role model is the best, followed by the Companions of the Prophet (sa).

Saulat Pervez

  1. Keep the communication lines open — instead of micromanaging the youth, have a trust relationship where they can come to you to discuss any problem.
  2. Educate them not only in the traditional intellectual subjects, but also in emotional, mental, and social areas so that not only are their SAT scores or O Level results high, they can also learn to empathize, to exercise self-control, and be civic-minded.
  3. Raise them to not only be good Muslims – but to be good humans and understand that the only way you can be a good Muslim, is to be a good human first and foremost.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Trust them: Our youth is constantly kept under check via a strategy of do’s and don’ts till they rebel. We need to realize that after giving them a guideline on the do’s and don’ts that Allah (swt) has laid down for us; we need to trust them to follow that guideline.
  2. Convey the message that the Muslim heroes of yesterday are as relevant for us today as they were then: The Umar and Uthman (rta) of the golden Islamic age are not just paragraphs in books on Islamic history; rather they have been real people who led a balanced life in this world. We need to make our youth realise this so that they stop looking for heroes in un-Islamic cultures.
  3. Channelize their talent in a way that Allah (swt) approves of. We need to guide them to the right kind of friends who will support them in their endeavour.

What are the top three issues facing the youth of today and how do you suggest they deal with them?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

In Pakistan, specifically, the identity crisis is the main issue which has developed in our youth. They have lost confidence in being recognized as Pakistanis and as Muslims. The only option is ‘escape’ from their country and religion. To change this mentality, we need to develop institutions confidence is restored in one’s identity.

Another issue is lack of emotional confidence; the youth has no personal opinion. It’s so easy for them to be moulded by others and react. To deal with it, the thought process needs a radical shift from extremism to a balanced state of mentality. Finally, the youth of the Ummah need to develop native language skills.

Amina Murad

Communication revolution

We need to educate the youth about the communication revolution and have one-to-one conversation as parents and teachers. Without any guidance, technology has become a giant monster; information is equated with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Communication revolution can revolutionize the fate of the Ummah if our adults and youth are educated to use it for acquisition of knowledge and dawah purposes.

Freedom from religion

In today’s secular environment, freedom of expression is an attempt to have freedom from religion. The youth are confused. Constant hammering of slogans of freedom to choose their lifestyle is redefining their conceptual framework. The youth need to develop love and relationship with Allah (swt) and Muhammad (sa) as role models with a sound knowledge base.

Bad companionship

All issues are linked with bad companionship; be it media or society. One’s relationship with the Qur’an and its lessons should be stronger than the relation with Facebook and its communities. Without guidance, the blitz of technology leads to self-love and narcissism: the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Sponsoring events that allow the youth to meet like-minded friends, interact with multi-generational society and provide Halal fun and entertainment and remember Allah (swt) is a practical way to deviate them from Haram fun all around.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Lack of direction and supervision

For this, pious people (practicing Muslims) should be contacted who are sincere and willing to help.

Domination of western thoughts and isms

For this, our past history, where we were the leaders, should be revisited through books as well as a study of Muslim thinkers and philosophers, who contributed to human thoughts and civilization.

Limited concept of Deen

For this, they should go back to the original sources of Islamic knowledge (the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (swt)). Furthermore, it should be noted that unless we have a comprehensive concept of Deen, the non-issues would remain the issues and sectarianism will prevail in the society.

Saulat Pervez

Frustration with family and other authoritative figures in their lives

Be patient and understand that no person is truly one-dimensional. If you feel someone is always finding fault in you, stay cool and don’t label him/her. Try to talk to them logically and explain to them your side of the story; be ready to listen to their side, too. Reach a solution together.

Over-reliance on friends

Your friends are important, but do understand that just because they are ready to embrace you just the way you are, with no demands whatsoever, doesn’t mean that it’s always a good thing. Having someone older, wiser and more experienced as a guide post, who can distill all those “brilliant” ideas and plans, is truly essential in this age. Ideally, this person should be a parent.

Too plugged

I know it’s cool to log into your Facebook account on your Iphones and have wires sticking out of your ears all the time, but too often, we are exchanging real, purposeful experiences for virtual, meaningless encounters. Find a healthy balance between staying connected with those who really matter, listening to content which is truly inspiring and having social experiences which really challenge you to learn to live with people despite the differences.

Sumaira Dada

1)      Lack of heroes to look up to

2)      A strong influence of largely un-Islamic culture.

3)      Lack of opportunities to release energy and utilize talents.

What behavioural characteristics do the youth need to instill during the primary stages?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

The youth needs to realize the purpose of their life which has been defined by the Quran and Sunnah. They should have positive goals in their lives. Our youth is mainly inspired by Western ideals and beliefs. The west promotes ‘emotional intelligence’ which is being clever, however, the Islamic paradigm is ‘Tazkiya-e-Nafs’. The West works on cost-benefit analysis, whereas Islam teaches us ‘emotional well-being’. To teach these differences, parents must be trained to act as mentors on the divine principle of ‘falah’.

Amina Murad

Nurture their real nature

An Islamic personality should be our Fitrah. In the polluted environment, our Fitrah is suppressed and little priority is given to the remembrance of Allah (swt). The most beautiful ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) should be made the benchmark for all the characteristics taught.

Time management

Value of time means valuing life and self. Parents and teachers should help young children limit every activity and realize that it’s Satan who makes us lose track of our goals and waste our life. Set a routine and discipline from a very early age. From Salah to sports, from giving time to parents to people around them, all activities should nurture individuality which makes each human being a very independent and special entity in this world.

Creative thinking

With unlimited opportunities, creative thinking is a skill that needs to be developed to help our kids reach the level of excellence in all pursuits. We should remember our kids are and will be living in a very different world than ours. Unless we help them come up with challenging ideas, they will be unable to challenge the world of Kufr around them and become part of it. Leadership demands Muslims to be creative to solve the problems of humanity.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Sense of responsibility

We should remember the purpose of life and the real life ahead.

Live for others

People live for themselves but we, being the Ummati of the Prophet (sa) have to serve others.

Trust in Allah

No matter how many difficulties we face, we should have faith that nothing is impossible for Allah the Almighty.

Saulat Pervez

Foremost, we need to teach our children to think. At school and at home, we must give them practice in developing their thinking skills, so that they grow to be reflective individuals, just as the Qur’an encourages.

Secondly, we need to instill an awareness of their relationship with Allah (swt) from an early age. They need to understand that Allah (swt) loves us and He is Merciful, but He has also made us responsible for our own deeds and we will be held accountable for them.

This brings me to the third point: they need to be cognizant of the fact that “worship” is not only pure Ibadah such as Salah, Sawm, Hajj, Sadaqah, etc. Along with my prayer and my fasting, I must be honest in my dealings with people (even if they are parents and teachers). Too often, we pray, yet we cheat; we recite the Qur’an, yet we backbite; we give charity, yet we spread rumours without verification. Unfortunately, kids learn this dichotomy from adults.
All three reinforce each other towards a common goal: awareness that our life has a purpose and before it ends, we had better make ample preparation for the life which is eternal.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Positive thinking
  3. Realism


It is heartening to note that every individual, who is currently working with the youth, is very clear about their problems and solutions. One can only hope that these problems are addressed and these solutions are implemented, in order to ensure that the youth turn out to be the bright future of our Ummah.

“Allah (swt) is beautiful and He loves beauty” (Muslim)

Oct 10 - Allah swt is beautiful

When studying other religions, one realizes what a blessing Islam is, for it does not associate religiosity with depriving the human nature of its natural urges. In fact, Islam encourages its followers to adorn themselves, when worshipping Allah (swt):

“O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying…” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Furthermore, in the next verse, Allah (swt) says:

“Say ((O Muhammad (sa)): ‘Who has forbidden the adoration with clothes given by Allah, which He has produced for his slaves, and At-Taiyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) things] of food?’” (Al-Araf 7:32)

Therefore, Muslims should bear in mind that Islam does not associate piety with a dishevelled appearance.

During the time of the Prophet (sa), people beautified themselves in various ways – some were encouraged and retained by Islam, whilst other forms were prohibited, as they were repugnant to the human nature.

For instance, during the time of the Prophet (sa), people used to dye their hair. Jabir Ibn Abdullah (rta) reported that Abu Quhafah (rta) was brought on the day of the conquest of Makkah, and his head and beard were white like Thaghamah (a plant whose flowers and fruit are white). The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Change this with something, but avoid black.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) is also reported to have said: “The Jews and the Christians do not dye their hair, so differ from them.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) also recommended which dye to use. Abu Dharr (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “The best things, with which to change grey hair, are henna and Katam (a plant similar to henna, which is used as a dye).” (At-Tirmidhi)

From another Hadeeth, we know that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has hair should care about it.” (Abu Dawood)

Ata Ibn Yasser (rta) reported that a man came to the Prophet (sa), when he was in the mosque, with uncombed hair and an untidy beard. The Prophet (sa) pointed at him, as if ordering him to fix his hair and beard. He did so and returned. Thereupon, the Prophet (saw) observed: “Isn’t this better than one of you coming with his hair uncombed, as if he was a devil?” (Malik in Al-Mawatta)

Whilst reading the Ahadeeth, one gets an insight into the fashion and styles prevalent in that age. For instance, men and women used to shave their heads. The Prophet (sa) allowed men to shave all their heads but made it Makruh (disliked) for women to do so. Ali t said: “The Prophet (sa) told the women not to shave their heads.” (An-Nasai)

He also instructed the men not to shave portions of their heads and leave portions. Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) told us not to have the Qaza haircut [shaving some portions and keeping some].” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Umar (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) saw a boy, whose head was partially shaved, and told the people not to do so and said: ‘Shave it all or leave it all.’” (Abu Dawood)

Likewise, men used to wear pure silk and gold. Although silk and gold were prohibited for men, they were allowed for women. From a Hadeeth we learn that the Prophet (sa) took silk in his right hand and gold in his left, and said: “These two are Haram (prohibited) for the males among my followers.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nasai and Ibn Majah)

People also used perfume to adorn themselves. One of the sons of Umm Atiyya (rta) died, and on the third day, she asked for a yellow perfume, put it over her body and said: “We were forbidden to mourn for more than three days, except for our husbands.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) encouraged the use of perfume: “Whoever is offered some perfume should not refuse it, because it is light to wear and has a good scent.” (Abu Dawood and An-Nasai)

He always used to accept perfume when presented to him. (Bukhari)

In fact, the Prophet (sa) rebuked people who ate raw legumes and threatened to exclude them from approaching the mosques due to the unpleasant odour that they carried.

Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah (rta) reported: “Whoever has eaten from this malignant tree should not approach our mosque, until its smell completely vanishes.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibban)

Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has eaten garlic should not approach our mosque.” (Bukhari and Muslim) A foul breath is indeed a matter of great discomfort for people around.

Women used to wear earrings and bangles. On Eid day, when the Prophet (sa) preached about giving charity, women started giving their fore-arm bangles and earrings. (Bukhari) It was also a practice to apply Kohl in the eyes.

Umm Atiyya (rta) narrated from the Prophet (sa): “It is not lawful for a lady, who believes in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, to mourn for more than three days for a dead person, except for her husband, in which case she should neither put Kohl in her eyes, nor perfume herself, nor wear dyed clothes, except a garment of Asb.” (Bukhari)

In order to enhance their beauty, women used to pluck their eyebrows, widen and sharpen their teeth, tattoo their skins and attach hair pieces and wigs to lengthen their hair. The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has cursed the Washimat and the Mustawshimat [tattooers and the tattooed], the Namisat and the Mutanammisat [those who pluck eyebrows and those whose eyebrows are plucked], and the Mutafallijat [those who widen the gaps between their teeth] for beauty, who change what Allah has created.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

In another Hadeeth, the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has cursed the Wasilah and the Mustawsilah [those women who make wigs and hairpieces, and those who wear them].” (Bukhari)

However, if a woman has some obtrusive hairs on her face, which are a problem and an embarrassment for her, she may remove them. Aisha y was approached by the young wife of Abu Ishaq. She wished to remove her facial hairs in order to look beautiful for her husband. Aisha y advised her to do so. (At-Tabarani)

In all ages, men and women have paid attention to their personal appearance and spent time, money and effort in beautifying themselves. However, it is disturbing to note that the emphasis on personal appearance is so excessive in the current age.

As Muslims we need to remind ourselves that inner beauty comes before external appearances. After all, we have been taught to pray: “O Allah, just as You have made my external features beautiful, make my character beautiful as well.” (Hisnul Haseen) Ameen.


Do you have Aspendicitis?

Oct 10 - Do you have AspendicitisBy Noorjehan Arif and Sumaira Dada

Of the five questions on the Day of Judgement, one will be: “How did you spend your income?” (At-Tirmidhi) It is imperative that, as Muslims, we scrutinize our spending habits and control the urge to splurge. In order to help control our spending habits, we need to remind ourselves of the divine injunction in this regard: “Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan (Devil) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:27)

How do People Control the Urge to Splurge?

Perveen Wali, a grandmother of three, says that she controls the urge to spend by not going out of the house very often. Besides, her mobility is limited. Apparently, that is a blessing in disguise.

Uzma, a lecturer at a business school, quips: “I don’t have to control the urge to spend. It looks at my wallet and controls itself.”

Sadia Hassan, a postgraduate student, surprises us by saying that she hardly gets an urge to spend. In fact, her mother jokes that she likes to go shopping with her, because Sadia doesn’t make her spend much! So, how does Sadia control the urge to splurge? She does it by thinking and evaluating that the more material possessions she has, the more she’ll have to account for before Allah (swt).

Sadia Jibran, a mother of a one-year old, concedes that it’s difficult to control spending, especially after one is married. Nevertheless, she is able to control her desire to spend excessively by taking a friend along during her shopping trips, so that somebody is there to ask her whether she really needs whatever catches her eye. She agrees with a friend that hanging out at malls to window-shop is a real no-no, because window shopping leads to a lot of real shopping.

Ameera Khan thinks that giving purchases a second thought definitely controls spending on unnecessary items. She does admit, though, that it really is difficult to hold yourself back, when you know you can afford to buy something.

Your Wealth Includes a Share of the Needy

Another way to control overspending is to realize that the poor and the needy also have a right to your wealth. Allah (swt) describes the quality of the believers saying:

“And those in whose wealth there is a known right for the beggar who asks, and for the unlucky who has lost his property and wealth, (and his means of living have been straitened).” (Al-Marij 70:24-25)

A Hadeeth also reinforces the fact that the excess wealth, which remains with you, is not yours.

Abu Saeed al-Khudri (rta) reported: “While we were with the Apostle of Allah e on a journey, a person came upon his mount and began to stare on the right and on the left; (it was at this moment) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘He who has an extra mount should give that to one who has no mount for him, and he who has surplus of provisions should give them to him who has no provisions,’ and he made mention of so many kinds of wealth, until we were of the opinion that none of us has any right over the surplus.” (Muslim)

Prioritization of Spending

Prioritizing one’s spending is an effective way of controlling impulse buying. Our priorities should be according to what the Prophet (sa) has outlined.

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) commanded to give Sadaqah. A man said: “Apostle of Allah, I have a Dinar.” He said: “Spend it on yourself.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your children.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your wife.” He again said: “I have another.” He said: “Spend it on your servant.” He finally said: “I have another.” He replied: “You know best (what to do with it).” (Abu Dawood)

One of the ways to control overspending is to know the right place to shop for your needs. Here’s a list of affordable places that you can go to for your essential shopping needs.

Sunday Bazaar

Spend some time in Sunday Bazaar and you will get the most amazing of options on the most outrageous of bargains. Make sure that you bargain for at least half the price and settle for a maximum of two thirds, for whatever you want to purchase! Everything you need is available at these Bazaars from books to clothes, to groceries, to shoes and more!

100 (or 50) Rupees Shops

Want to purchase gifts, but don’t know what to buy and how much to spend? These questions will become easier, when you visit the 100 or 50 Rupees shop. You will find a multitude of items at reasonable prices, and you can pick up some nice bargain items for your friends and family!

Discount Book Stores

Are you fond of buying books? Rejoice, for there are a number of discount book shops and stalls, which will have the books of your choice. A little time and a little money can go a long way in finding the books of your choice. Some of these stores also buy and sell books giving one an opportunity to swap old books with the new unread collection that they stock.

Specialized Bazaars

Each city and locality has some specialized Bazaars, where you can get things of your choice. From stationery to cosmetics and more, you will be able to get items cheaper here than in shops near your place, because this is where other shops buy all their items from, on wholesale rates.

Believe that You Can Change

The more you think of ways to control your spending habits, the more ideas you are likely to come up with.

People go as far as suggesting that one should freeze all credit cards and pay for purchases in cash. Others add items to their wish list, give them a second thought and then decide, whether to buy or not. Still others make a proper budget, compare items before purchasing them and refuse to be deceived by attractive advertisements and promotions.

It also facilitates mingling with simple people. Most of us also spend in competition with others, on stuff we can easily do without.

At the end of the day, it’s all about wanting to control the ability to spend and not become a victim of aspendicitis (an inability to control the amount one spends).

Itikaf: A Forsaken Sunnah

Jul 10 - Itikaaf

Ramadan for most people is a festive time. I remember when my brother used to plead with my parents to spend the night at the local mosque, where his friends were observing Itikaf. Together they had plans to enjoy themselves – away from the watchful eye of their parents. Being children, they can be forgiven for taking Itikaf as a time to have fun. However, it is distressing to find adults observing Itikaf and yet not realizing the seriousness of the Ibadah. Moreover, many people have simply given up this Sunnah. Through this article, we hope to encourage Muslims to observe Itikaf and to clarify some of the misconceptions, which might be preventing them from observing this Sunnah.

Itikaf in the Quran and Ahadeeth

Itikaf means staying in the mosque to worship Allah (swt). It has been prescribed by Allah (swt) in the Quran and is a Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). In the Quran, Allah (swt) says: “…and We commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael) that they should purify My House (the Kabah at Makkah) for those who are circumambulating it, or staying (Itikaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves (there, in prayer).” (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

There are many Ahadeeth, which tell us that the Prophet (sa) observed Itikaf. According to a Hadeeth of Aisha (rta), the Prophet (sa) used to observe Itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan, until Allah (swt) took his soul. His wives observed Itikaf after he was gone. (Bukhari and Muslim)

What is the purpose of Itikaf?

One of the greatest aims of this form of worship is to seek the Night of Power (Laylat ul-Qadr), which is one of the odd-numbered nights in the last ten nights of Ramadan. It is also a time for conversing with Allah (swt) by offering Salah, reading the Quran and engaging in Dhikr.

When can we observe Itikaf?

The best time to observe it is during the last ten days of Ramadan. We know from the Hadeeth of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) used to observe Itikaf for the last ten days every Ramadan, and in the year, in which he passed away, he observed Itikaf for twenty days. (Bukhari) However, it is also proven that the Prophet (sa) observed it during ten days of Shawwal (Bukhari). Therefore, one can observe it at any time of the year. Being in a state of fast is also not a condition for observing Itikaf.

Length of Itikaf

There are differences among scholars regarding the minimum length of Itikaf, ranging from a moment to one day. We can find the grounds for this in a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), where he allowed Umar (rta) to observe Itikaf for one night in Masjid Al-Haram, in order to fulfil a vow. (Bukhari)

The maximum number of days that the Prophet (sa) observed Itikaf was thirty. We know this from a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (rta): The Messenger of Allah (sa) observed Itikaf during the first ten days of Ramadan, then he observed Itikaf during the middle ten days in a small tent, at the door of which was a reed mat. He took the mat in his hand and lifted it. Then he put his head out and spoke to the people, and they came close to him. He(sa) said: “I observed Itikaf during the first ten days seeking this night, then I observed Itikaf during the middle ten days. Then someone came and said to me that it is in the last ten days, so whoever among you wishes to observe Itikaf, let him do so.” (Muslim)

Where do we stay for Itikaf?

According to the scholars, Itikaf is only valid if observed in a mosque, where congregational prayers are held, because Allah (swt) said: “And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in Itikaf (i.e., confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:187). Being in a mosque cuts off a person from worldly activities and allows him to focus on worship.

Women must also observe Itikaf in the mosque. However, it is not necessary that congregational prayers be held there, for it is not obligatory upon women to offer prayers in congregation. According to Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen, a woman may observe Itikaf so long as there is no fear of Fitnah (temptation), such as happens in Masjid Al-Haraam because there is no separate place for women there.

Taking breaks during Itikaf

According to Aisha (rta), “The Sunnah is for the Mutakif not to visit any sick person, or attend any funeral, or touch his wife or be intimate with her, or to go out for any purpose, except those which cannot be avoided.” (Abu Dawood) Ibn Qudamah says that for everything that he cannot do without and cannot do in the mosque, the Mutakif may go out. This does not invalidate his Itikaf, as long as he does not take a long time to do it. He is, therefore, allowed to leave the mosque for food and drink, and to relieve himself.

How do women perform Itikaf?

Women will perform Itikaf in the same manner as men. However, married women need to seek permission from their husbands to perform Itikaf. We know that Aisha (rta) asked Prophet (sa) for permission to observe Itikaf and he gave her permission; then Hafsa (rta) asked Aisha (rta) to ask for permission for her and she did so. (Bukhari)

Itikaf: a forsaken Sunnah

It is sad to note that in this day and age, many Muslims have forsaken this Sunnah. It seems that we find it very difficult to cut ourselves off from the world even for a short time. It is time we ponder on our keenness for Paradise and reassess our faith.

Muslims in Cyberspace

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Muslims in CyberspaceBy Zainub Razvi, Sumaira Dada and Hafsa Ahsan

Cyberspace, like this world at large, is a delicate testing ground for the practicing Muslim. On the one hand, there are enormous benefits that can be gained from the wealth of knowledge at one’s disposal via the information superhighway, but on the other hand, one is exposed to a murky world of temptations and addictions, which has few parallels in the real world.

When Muslims go on the Internet, they either tend to ignore certain aspects of the Deen, or they feel that Islamic teachings do not apply to cyberspace at all. This mindset then leads them to do things which they would never do in real life – after all, it is all virtual isn’t it?

Following are some of the common uses of the Internet, along with how the Islamic teachings apply to each of them.


Chatting today is not just text-based – there is voice chat, video conferencing, etc. which takes chatting to a whole new level. Fahad Iqbal has coined a new term for chatting with non-Mahrams – cyber-Khalwa. “When two people chat, they’re in Khalwa” (i.e., there’s no third person between them that knows what is going on). “As Muslims we’re required to not be in Khalwa with non-Mahrams, and if we have to be, for some reason, then there are strict guidelines that ought to be followed.”

Online, the hesitation of chatting with the opposite sex is overcome to a large extent. What is the Islamic guidance in this regard? Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states that Internet chatting is very similar to writing letters or talking to someone on the phone. Hence, Muslims have to observe the same rules whilst chatting. Intimate conversations are not allowed. In fact, it is forbidden for a non-Mahram Muslim male and female to indulge in long conversations with each other, unless it is necessary for education or for business.

Chatting is also very addictive. Time simply whiles away, especially when discussing any unsuitable topic or wasting too much time in casual chit-chat. Time for a Muslim, like everything else, is a blessing from Allah (swt) that he/she will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement, so it ought to be used wisely.

Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer, says that in chat rooms a Muslim must be on guard, as he is dealing with a large number of unknown people. He should boycott the sites of Biddats and not engage in any discussions on these websites. He also says that the enthusiastic youth must not engage in matters of which they have little knowledge. In this regard, Allah’s (swt) words need to be remembered: “And on the Day of Resurrection, you will see those who lied against Allah (i.e., attributed to Him sons, partners), their faces will be black.” (Az-Zumar 39:60)


A blog is an online diary. In chat rooms, you have a considerable degree of control over who can interact with you and how. It is much more complicated if you maintain a blog, which may be regularly read and commented on by virtually anyone in the world, which includes non-Mahrams. Hence, writing very personal entries on those blogs must be avoided, and if possible, blogs must be made private, accessible only to the blogger’s chosen audience.

Muslim bloggers also ought to make sure that they do not post unverified Islamic information, and they should especially think twice before making any remarks about anyone’s personal attributes or character traits in their posts.

Those who leave comments on the blog must be wary of committing grave sins, such as slander, backbiting and fighting. Muslims should be careful, because every word they utter will be recorded, even if typed in cyberspace. As a general rule, we ought to tell ourselves that if we wouldn’t say something to someone in real life, we ought not to on the Internet as well.

Social and Professional Networking

Social networking websites work by asking you to register and set up a profile page, then allowing you to add people you know, join groups, play games, take quizzes, put up photos, share links and do a host of other activities.

Because these websites ask you to put sensitive information online, it is very important to know how to use their privacy settings. Failure to use the right settings can seriously compromise your online privacy, disclosing your private information to complete strangers and third party companies without your knowledge. Avoid altogether putting up any private data that is prone to exploitation, such as your work history, your phone numbers or residential address. Once again, determine early on where to draw the line, because social networking is very prone to addiction.

Also, while there’s certainly no harm in keeping up with friends, it’s important to define not only who are our ‘friends,’ but also just how much time we ought to devote to ‘keeping up’ with them, and what actually constitutes the exercise of this ‘keeping up.’ Indulging too much into the private lives of others, even if they have put it up for everyone to see, violates Islamic teachings, which require us to refrain from spying and being over-curious.

Online Islamic Guidance

While there is no denying that the Internet is an extremely easy way to access Islamic literature, it is not the best place to go for ‘Fatwah hunting’. There are a lot of bogus ‘Islamic’ websites out there, which do not have authentic scholars and rely on casual Internet users to compile information they have heard, read or gathered from other online sources. We must be especially careful not to mistake genuine Islamic websites run by Dawah organisations with casual Internet message boards set up by ordinary Muslims, where one may find numerous contentious Fatwahs and Wazaif, which are often completely without proper references. Even when using websites claimed to be run by scholars or genuine organizations, we should do a background check on the particular school of thought the scholars and/or organization ascribe to and make sure that they come from a reliable background.

The Youth Trap

Today, children as young as 4-5 years old can be seen using the Internet on their own. Quite a few children have their own email accounts, an instant messenger ID and social networking account by the time they are in school. Peer pressure can drive children to all sorts of dangerous activities online, from the relatively innocuous Internet overuse to such more serious tendencies as viewing pornographic and other sexually explicit content.

“Sending your children on the Internet alone is like sending your kid on the highway alone,” warns Tasneem Ahmed, a mom of four. Her husband Anwer Ahmed, a university professor, nicely sums up the needs of online supervision. “Parents should do their best to be aware of what sites their kids are visiting and whom they are communicating with. It is very important for them to have open and frank communication with their children, without threat of retribution.”

Completely prohibiting the Internet can backfire, as children can then be more tempted to taste the forbidden fruit. Sheikh Abdul-Majeed Subh states that one must teach children the sense of differentiating right from wrong, instead of enforcing exclusive prohibition. He quotes a Hadeeth regarding the principle of Ihsan (Perfection) in worship: “To worship Allah (swt) as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion, then you must consider that He (swt) is looking at you.” (Bukhari) Parents also need to educate their children about the fact that Allah (swt) is looking at them, while they are surfing the net.

Chat rooms should be strictly off-limits, and parents ought to supervise or monitor other chatting routines, even if they are sure their kids do not have any non-Mahrams on their contact lists.

Finding a spouse online

The use of match-making websites has increased. Are these services permissible? Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, the Secretary General for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA), says that if correspondence takes place with a faithful and honest mediator running the service and Shariah regulations are observed, then he hopes that it will be permissible (after all, Allah (swt) knows best).

Direct correspondence, however, requires a lot of precautions. Nevertheless, if it is necessary, interaction should be normal, and a trustworthy third party should be present. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi states that while looking for a spouse online, elders or responsible friends should be involved in investigating or negotiating on one’s behalf.

The Final Word

Ultimately, whatever the medium, be it blogs, social networking websites, instant messengers, email, Muslim merchandise websites or Islamic information portals, whether their harms outweigh their benefits depends on how we use them. So like in all our other daily activities, the reward or sin for our actions online too will be judged based on our intentions for engaging in those activities.

Quick Reminder # 1 – Every click is recorded!

While one is sitting on the Internet, it is very easy to get lost in the numerous activities. There are simply too many websites to visit, too many emails to read and too many friends to keep up with on social networking websites. At times like these, it is imperative for Muslims to remember that every click of the mouse is being recorded and will have to be accounted for on the Day of Judgement. Hence, wastage of time in useless activities must be avoided, and each click must serve some constructive purpose.

Quick Reminder # 2 – The Constructive Clicks

What can one do to serve their Deen in cyberspace? Here are some quick suggestions:

1)      Make your status messages on social networking websites meaningful – you can write a short Ayah or Hadeeth, or simply something informative.

2)      Provide links to Islamic websites, which have authentic information.

3)      Pledge to send a daily or weekly email to all your contacts – again, with some meaningful information pertaining to how Deen can be practiced in daily life.

4)      Stay away from all controversial arguments on non-issues – they waste your time as well as that of others.

5)      If you maintain your own blog, use it to propagate the true face of Islam. Write meaningful posts.

6)      Educate yourself – visit authentic Islamic websites and learn more about Islam.

7)      Join websites as a link manager, and add quality Islamic website to search engine directories.

Quick Reminder # 3 – The Useless Clicks

What activities do NOT serve the Deen in cyberspace, though they seem to do so? Here are a few:

1)      Useless arguments on controversial issues, which do not have any purpose.

2)      Hacking anti-Islamic websites – it is always best to promote Islamic websites than to hack the opposing ones.

3)      Chatting with the opposite sex on the pretext of preaching Deen to them.

4)      Being careless while posting Islamic information – even the slightest slip can cause a widespread Fitnah.

Quick Fact # 1 – What is Cyberspace?

The Internet has aptly defined “cyberspace” as “a computer network consisting of a worldwide network of computer networks” and “a world of information through the Internet.” In layman terms, when you are on the Internet, connected to the world through your computer, laptop, cell phone or any other gadget, you are in cyberspace.

Review: “The Hadith for Beginners”


“The Hadith for Beginners”

Author: Dr. Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi

Publisher: Goodword Books Pvt. Ltd

Availability: Paramount Books and

Language: English

Pages: 223

“How reliable is Hadeeth literature?” is a question that has sown seeds of doubt in a lot of minds. The book “The Hadith for Beginners” is a highly informative, adequately referenced work that weeds out these roots of doubt. Serious readers will find this work a helpful guide on Hadeeth literature. Although the book is aimed at beginners, it will be helpful to have a teacher to guide one through. Previous knowledge of Hadeeth sciences will also come to good use.

The book is divided into eight chapters beginning with the importance, origin and development of Hadeeth. The periods of development in Hadeeth literature have been divided into two parts: the period of the Companions and the period after the death of the Companions. Short introductions of various works of Hadeeth literature, such as the Six Canonical Collections and various Sunnahs (for instance, the Sunnah of Said Ibn Mansur and the Sunnah of Al-Bayhaqi), have been included.

The author has also written on the sciences of tradition (Ulum Al-Hadeeth) and has included short introductions to the books written on Asma Al-Rijal (biography and criticism of the narrators of Hadeeth). A point to note is the interest taken by Western scholars in these works. For instance, the extant manuscripts of the Tabaqat of Ibn Sad were edited by a group of German scholars and published in eight volumes over a period of twenty years by the Prussian Academy of Sciences!

Due coverage has also been given to the contribution of women scholars of Hadeeth. In fact, the author has cited works of Asma Al-Rijal, where the writers have included articles on women traditionists. The author also notes, perhaps with some sadness, that the interest of women in Hadeeth sciences seems to have declined from 10 AH onwards.

The book is an eye-opener for those unaware of the great efforts and sacrifices made by scholars in collecting, compiling and disseminating Hadeeth literature. For instance, we are told of Al-Bukhari, the famous traditionist, who lived on grass and herbs for three days during his travels in search of Hadeeth. We also learn that Imam Al-Shafi (the founder of one of the schools of Islamic law) wrote the Hadeeth on pieces of bones, because he was too poor to buy paper.

On one hand, there were those, who put in great efforts to maintain the authenticity of Hadeeth, while, on the other hand, there were people like Muhammad Ibn Ukkasha and Muhammad Ibn Tamim, who forged more than ten thousand traditions. Nuh Ibn Abi Maryam, a theologian of great reputation, admitted having forged Hadeeth for the sake of God and in order to attract people to His Book.

It is evident that Dr. Siddiqi has put in long years of hard work in composing this book. Although the work was begun in 1930, it was not until thirty-one years later that the necessary funds were obtained to publish the book. The book dispells the doubts cast on Hadeeth literature with force that the reader will appreciate.

Pinching Paisas…

quart jar full of coins, pennies,nickels,dimes and quarters, with clipping path

Hiba continues its series on money management. In the second article of this series, Sumaira Dada, Noorjehan Arif and Aisha Ashraf Jangda talk to people and get tips on how to save money.

Whether you call it using resources responsibly, saving for future generations or just plain pinching Paisas, you know exactly what we are getting at. During the times of rising prices and falling incomes, we all need to look around for little tips on saving money. Here’s what we found.

First Step

The first step, in order to reduce the mountain of unpaid bills, is to start cutting off unnecessary expenses. Beena, a homemaker, cut down all the imported cosmetic items she used to buy. She started using local products instead. She also started making clothes for her children out of her old ones, all by herself! Monia, a Quran teacher, states that understanding the Quran helps in controlling her spending habit. On a witty note, she claims that wearing an Abaya helps reduce spending on clothes!

To cut the rising costs of electricity and fuel, you can control the excessive use of air conditioners during summer. Having mint-lemon drinks and wearing cotton and lawn clothes can do wonders in keeping you cooler! In winter, a better idea is to use warm clothes and blankets, which can help you, cut down on the fuel bill and also keep you warm.

Second Step

The second step is to be creative in fulfilling your needs. One enterprising grandmother used to make quilt blankets out of old cloth pieces! An aunt, who is known in the family for her taste in furniture, reused an antique sideboard from her mother, got it polished and painted so well that now she has placed it in her drawing room. A friend of my mother had a great idea of saving money on buying expensive paintings to put up around the house. She framed the 500-piece cardboard puzzles that her teenage children had discarded and hung them on the walls. Trust me; a framed puzzle usually catches any guest’s eye, just as it caught ours!

Third step

The third step is to start saving money with a group of like-minded people. Monia gives the idea of a Voluntary Committee (VC), a pool of funds, where every member puts in a certain amount of money on a monthly basis. At the end of the month, the entire amount accrues to a certain member. This helps to save a significant amount of money with little hassle. This discipline can be taught to teenagers as well, with an adult involved in safeguarding the money.

Quick Advice: Preparing an emergency fund is also very useful, as emergencies such as a job loss, illness, home or auto repairs, can be a significant drain on the finances. Most experts agree that you should keep between three and six months worth of your living expenses set aside in your emergency fund. Evaluation of your situation and the number of children in your family will determine what amount is best for you. Initially, you can begin with Rs.1000 a month and then increase the amount gradually. After a few months, you won’t even notice that Rs.1000 is missing, so you would be able to increase the amount you put aside. The best way to get started would probably be through your bank. Open up a new account in an Islamic Bank, if you currently don’t have one, and begin to save in it. The next step is to get into the habit of making regular deposits into this account. Once you make saving automatic, you won’t even have to think about it.

Working People

1) Saving Money at Lunchtime

We’ve all heard the advice to bring lunch from home to save money. But does it mean missing out on eating out with your co-workers?

  • Ask a few colleagues, if they’d like to join you in brown bagging lunch. Chances are they’d like to save money, too. You can set up a potluck in the break room or kitchen with everyone’s leftovers or favorite sandwiches. Not only you will get to know your colleagues better, but you will also be able to try a variety of foods. This may lead to recipe-swapping.
  • Avoid eating unnecessary and unhealthy snacks like chips, biscuits and ice-cream at work. They may be excellent munchies and you may want a crunch during that afternoon slump, but fresh fruits or vegetables brought along from home are more healthy and lighter on the stomach as well as your wallet.
  • Avoid eating out too often. Eating out is extremely expensive, and it leads to overeating, since the sizes of portions are larger than usual. If everyone at work decides to eat out, you could either eat your own food by staying back or simply order the cheapest option on the menu.

2) Saving Money on Commuting

Do you cringe at the price of filling up your gas tank? Consider cutting your fuel costs and saving wear and tear on your car by changing your commute. See if you can:

  • Search for an alternative route.
  • Avoid rush hours. Go to work half an hour earlier and leave an hour later.
  • Carpool with a co-worker or someone who works nearby.
  • Take a bus. You may enjoy the time usually used in driving to read or listen to translation of the Quran on your mobile.
  • Get your chores done along the way. Pick up grocery items or laundry, while you are coming back from work. This can save you time, money and fuel.

Save Money on Gifts

Have you ever had to give gifts to co-workers, because they’ve just got married or someone has just had a baby? Most organizations have a policy, where you can give a gift to colleagues or customers financed by the department budget. Find out if your organization has such a policy and utilize it, thereby saving your personal income.

Another way to save on gifts is to pass on gifts that you have received from others or be a little creative and design a card or clothes or even bake a cake. You can also pick a bunch of flowers from your garden. In fact, there are endless options of saving money on gifts – all it takes is some creativity and a willingness to pinch Paisas!

Companions’ Love for the Quran

Vol 6 - Issue 4 Companinons' love

If someone would ask you what the Prophet (sa) has left for you, will it take you a while to respond? When Abu Hurairah (rta) told a group of people that the Prophet’s (sa) inheritance was being distributed in the mosque, the people returned lost, unable to find anything. What they missed out on was exactly what we would have missed out on easily. So, what was the Prophet’s (sa) inheritance? In the mosque, they found people performing Salah, others reading the Quran and discussing what was Halal and what was Haram. Abu Hurairah (rta) told them: “Woe unto you! That is the inheritance of Muhammad (sa).” (Tabarani)

Modern life moves at the speed of a bullet train, or perhaps even faster. In this rapid rut of life, we hardly find time to connect with Allah (swt). Unfortunately, Salah for most of us just becomes a combination of mechanical actions that we repeat day in and day out. The spirit in our worship lies in understanding the Holy Quran, which cannot come without the love of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) describes the believers in the Quran: “… But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else).” (Al Baqarah 2:165)

Such love is evident in the tremendous effort that the Companions put in reading and understanding the Holy Quran. Some used to finish the entire Quran in two months, some in one month, some even in ten days or less. Once, when Ibn Umar (rta) was asked by the Prophet (sa) to read the Quran in one month, he insisted on doing it in less than that, so he was then advised to read it in seven days and no less (Bukhari). A group of such Companions as Usman, Zaid Ibn Thabit, Ibn Masood and Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta) used to complete the reading of the entire Quran every Friday. (Ghazali)

The Companions were a true example of the verse of the Holy Quran, “Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides…” (Al-Imran 3:191). They used to read the Quran during all hours of the day and night, whether they stayed in one place or were travelling. (Al-Nawawi)

They read the Quran in a slow and distinct manner (Tartil), as taught by the Prophet (sa). Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta) said: “That I read Surah of the Cow (Al-Baqarah) and the Surah of the House of Imran (Al-Imran) in a slow and distinct manner, while pondering over them, is better for me than to read the entire Quran babbling.” He also said: “That I read, [the surah beginning with] ‘when the earth is shaken’ (Surah Al-Zilzal) and Surah Al-Qariah, reflecting over them, is better for me than to read Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Al-Imran babbling.” (Ghazali)

Weeping whilst reading the Quran was also a way of the Companions. The Messenger of Allah (sa) commanded: “Recite the Quran and weep. If you do not weep naturally, then force yourself to weep.” (Ibn Majah) True to this tradition, Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta) tells us: “When you read [the Quranic verse of] prostration, in which occurs the word, Subhana, do not hasten to prostrate until you weep. If the eyes of anyone of you do not weep, his mind should weep [i.e. be filled with grief and fear of God].”

Some Companions liked to read the Quran silently and others liked to read it aloud. The Prophet (sa) directed them even in this matter in accordance with the Quranic verse: “… And offer your Salat (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.” (Al-Isra 17:110) Abu Qatadah narrates that the Prophet (sa) told Abu Bakr (rta): “When I passed by you, you were reciting the Quran in a low pitch [in the night prayer].” He replied: “I recite it to Him, Who hears [even my] whispers.” The Prophet (sa) continued: “Raise your pitch a little.” Then he told Umar (rta): “When I passed by you, you were reciting the Quran in a very loud pitch.” He replied: “I awake those who sleep, and make Satan run away.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Lower your pitch a little.” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

The Companions also read the Quran beautifully, thereby following the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa), who said: “Adorn the Quran with your voices.” (Abu Dawood) Reading beautifully meant reading in a slow and distinct manner, by controlling the voice though not with that excessive stretch which changes the prose order (Nazm). (Ghazali) One night the Prophet (sa) listened to the Quranic recitation of Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta), and with the Prophet (sa) were Abu Bakr and Umar (rta). They stood still for a long time [listening]. Then the Prophet (sa) said: “One who wants to read the Quran as fresh as it was revealed should read it following the reading of Ibn Umm Abd.” (Ibn Majah)

Merely reading the Quran was not enough. An important part of recitation was to understand the Quran. The Companions warned the people not to overlook understanding the words of Allah (swt). Anas Ibn Malik (rta) once said: “Often one recites the Quran, but the Quran curses him, because he does not understand it.” The sign of faith, according to Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta), was to understand the Quran. In this regard he said: “We have lived long … a time has come when I see a man who is given the whole Quran before he has acquired faith; he reads all the pages between Al-Fatihah and its end, without knowing its commands, its threats and the places in it where he should pause – he scatters it like the scattering of one fleeing in haste.” Ali (rta) said: “There is no good in the Quran reading which is not pondered over.”

A man once came to learn the Quran from the Prophet (sa), who taught him Surah Az-Zalzalah (99). When he reached the words “So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it; And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it,” the man said: “This is sufficient for me,” and left. The Prophet (sa) observed: “This man has returned as a Faqih (one who has acquired understanding).” (Abu Dawood)

There were also Companions like Usman Ibn Affan (rta) and Abdullah IbnMasood (rta), who, once they had learnt ten verses from theProphet (sa), did not go anyfurther, unless they had understood and put into practice whatever they had been taught. That is how they sometimes spent years in learning onlyone Surah. (Suyuti)

It was the strength of the bond with the Quran that kept the Companions steadfast in their faith, even when the Prophet (sa) was not amongst them. Due to the fine understanding and frequent reading of the Quran, they were able to control their excessive grief at the Prophet (sa)’s death by remembering the Quranic verse: “Muhammad (sa) is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)?” (Al-Imran 3:144) May Allah (swt) fill our hearts with love for the Quran. Ameen.

Is the Price Hike Controlling You?

Vol 5 - Issue 4 Is the price hike conyrlling youOfaira Ateeq Husain and Sumaira Dada spoke to some people to find out how they are managing the price hike

It may be quite hard to believe, but it is only when my mother-in-law goes for a vacation that I get a glimpse of house management. Now that she is visiting her daughter in Canada, I am looking after the house. This time around everything seems to be different because of the price hike. I cannot help but wonder how everyone else is managing. Along with a colleague, I decided to speak to a couple of people on how they are coping with the spiraling prices.

What They are Saying

Sharifa, a Quran teacher and a grandmother of three, manages the budget strictly. She records her daily expenses and trims down what she believes are unnecessary expenses. Instead of getting her clothes made by the tailor, she sews her own clothes and sometimes also those of her two daughters-in-law. Food expenses are also kept under control. The entire family eats together, and whenever possible, the food is cooked without a lot of oil. Instead of consuming high quality basmati rice, the family eats the cheaper broken rice.

Nausheen, also a Quran teacher, prioritizes while managing the household budget. Hers is education; therefore, she is willing to keep her children in good schools, despite the increase in fees. She says that the family has limited eating out to once a month. Her advice for mothers is to stop children from consuming junk food, which is not only of low nutritional value but also heavy on the pocket.

Maria, a lecturer at a business school, feels that the car pool arrangement for her school-going children has helped cut expenses. Moreover, she has been thinking of having the petrol-driven car finally converted to CNG, to save on fuel cost.

Dr. Saba, a sonologist and a mother of two, has been doing grocery shopping more carefully, refraining from impulsive buying. However, she continues to buy well-known brands for essential items as milk and cooking oil.

Zahida, a government school teacher and a mother of two, has tried to bring food expenses under control by preparing dessert twice a month. She has also cut down travelling expenses by going shopping only on the weekends and that too in the family car.

Amna, a baby sitter, is trying to cut down her travel cost by commuting on foot whenever possible.

Simplicity is Part of Faith

Instead of whining and complaining all the time, we should take this as an opportunity to follow the footsteps of the Prophet (sa) and his companions. From Aisha (rta) we know that the Prophet (sa) used to repair his shoes and mend his dresses. He used to check his own clothing and, milking the sheep and catering for himself were some of his normal jobs. (Mishkat)

The Prophet (sa) has also said: “Will you not listen? Will you not listen? Will you not listen? Verily, simplicity is a part of Iman (faith). Verily, simplicity is a part of Iman. Verily, simplicity is a part of Iman.” (Abu Dawood)

Rapidly rising prices is a phenomenon, which the authorities are duty-bound to control. Nevertheless, keeping an attitude of gratefulness despite the decrease in the number of tasty foods and less desserts to savour will, Insha’Allah, yield benefits in this world and in the Hereafter. After all, Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-­Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding, etc) saying: ‘Give thanks to Allah.’ And whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his ownself. And whoever is unthankful, then verily, Allah is All­-Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise.” (Luqman 31:12)

A Penny Saved is a Penny Gained

Regardless of what our salary is, we must strive to save a certain percentage of it for the rainy days. It is sad but true that even if earn more than what we need, we generally end up spending that entire extra amount, believing citing our luxuries as our needs. Remember there will never be an end to the wish list, but the bucks saved today will come in handy tomorrow.

Never Stop Sharing

When we are required to tighten our own belts, the first causality is our sense of generosity and giving. Sadaqah and Zakat always bring Barakah in our earnings – this is Allah (swt)’s promise to the Believers. We may lessen our contribution to charity in accordance with our revised budget but we must not deprive our less-privileged servants and relatives of our patronage. You will discover that the more Sadaqah you give, the more bounties of Allah (swt) will come to you from unimaginable sources.

Avoid Wastage

In general, Islam highly discourages wastage of any kind, but it is decidedly even worse to indulge in the wastage of already-scarce resources. It also results in Allah (swt)’s anger. At all times, make a conscious effort to utilize your blessings effectively and help your children realize it too.

To Be or Not To Be Ethical

Vol 5 - Issue 4   To be or not to be EthicalThis final article is by no means a conclusion on work ethics. There will still be many ethical dilemmas at work that will continue to trouble us. That in itself is a good sign. “Why?” you might ask. Because when these dilemmas stop troubling us, it means we no longer care about being ethical.

When our concern about being honest and truthful and the urge to control the waves of jealousy start to ebb, it is only the Quran and Hadeeth that bring us to our senses. Social pressures can be overwhelming at times, especially if you are living in a country which is regarded among the most corrupt in the world.

Whilst writing these articles, I have also learnt to identify the tugs of Nafs (desires) and ways to control it, Alhamdulillah. To be fair to others, to meet deadlines and to deliver good quality work seem to be contradictory goals most of the time. One is tempted to cut corners to quicken the pace of work – it is only in these very moments that the Quran and Hadeeth come to my rescue. Facts from our pious predecessors’ lives also keep us from floundering in the morass of confusion by making the right and the wrong very clear. Although we can barely reach the standards of God-consciousness (Taqwah) that they have set, their lives do tell us that you can be an ordinary human being and yet have high ethical standards.

Early Muslims and modern corporations

I am reminded of an incident from Mohammad Ibn Sirin’s (rta) life. He was a trader and a retailer, who once bought olive oil worth forty thousand Dirhams. On examination, he found a dead rat in one of the containers. He felt doubtful about the quality of oil in the entire consignment and chose to dump it, instead of risking people’s health. Consequently, he was unable to pay the forty thousand Dirhams and as a result, spent time behind bars. There were no case studies written on his level of honesty and the standards of business ethics he had set; yet, in his time, he was greatly trusted and admired, and we read about him to this day.

Ibn Sirin’s (rta) incident reminds me of the “Johnson and Johnson” “Tylenol” case. The company had aggressively marketed a brand of pain-relieving capsules (“Tylenol”), which accounted for 18% of the company’s income and had 37% percent of the market share. However, in 1982 after the death of seven people, it was found that the capsules were laced with cyanide. The company chose to recall ALL “Tylenol” bottles, facing a loss of up to $100 million (not including the damage to the brand and loss of public confidence). Nevertheless, this very decision put the company in the limelight, and it was hailed as an ethical firm. Within just six months, “Tylenol” regained its market share!

Another well-known personality from our pious predecessors is Imam Bukhari, who set such high standards of honesty that he did not even want to change his intention for greater worldly gains. Once, a group of traders offered to buy a consignment from him for a profit, which was double of what was offered to him by another trader the previous evening. He chose to forego the second offer in favour of the earlier one, because he had already intended to deal with them.

What do people say?

A young executive in his twenties, Murtaza, is of the opinion that truthfulness and success go together. According to him, if one is untruthful, word gets around which results in a bad reputation. At the same time, he believes that most people are myopic and prefer short-term gains over long term benefits. He names his father as one of the most ethical people he has come across.

The opinion voiced above reminded me once again of Muhammad Ibn Sirin (rta). Maimoon Ibn Mehran narrates that before completing a transaction, Ibn Sirin (rta) always asked his customer thrice, whether he was satisfied. He was so careful about his dealings that Maimoon exclusively purchased from him. While modern management would put this down as an excellent example of customer relationship management; it all boils down to plain honesty.

The head of research in a well-known Islamic financial services firm says that if you are unethical, you are definitely unsuccessful. He names one of his senior colleagues in the industry as ethical as well as successful. Still, he was also of the opinion that to reach the topmost level, one does have to compromise a little bit. This view was contrary to the opinion held by a chief executive of a business concern. When I asked him to name a few ethical and successful people, he immediately came up with three managing directors of local and multinational firms.

There are also people, who are ethical but have been unsuccessful monetarily. According to a female employee of an audit firm, even if people have managed to pull it off for some time using unethical practices, in the long-term they finally have to show performance, especially if they are chosen for an international assignment. Her role model is Syedah Aisha (rta), who was confident, full of energy and interacted with men within the limits set by Shariah.

Ayesha, who has worked in a part-time position, comes up with two people whom she believes to be ethical and successful. One of them is a scholar who was able to bring about positive change in a locality. Another person is a medical doctor as well as a Hakeem, who is charitable and closely follows the Sunnah. According to Ayesha, unethical people are often successful too, but their success is limited to this world only.

To be unethical is useless…

It is important not to be weighed down by what the cynics and skeptics say. Being unethical would not give us anything more than what has been destined for us. In a Hadeeth narrated by Jabir (rta), we learn that the Prophet (sa) addressed people saying that they should fear Allah (swt) and act decently in acquiring their livelihood, for no man would die until he obtains his provision, even if it involves some delay. The Prophet (sa) reiterated that people should fear Allah (swt), earn their livelihood by lawful means and stay away from the forbidden. (Ibn Majah)

Therefore, unethical dealings do not give us any more of the worldly gains that have been written for us. Such an attitude merely creates a ‘lose-lose’ situation: losing out in this world and, most definitely, losing out in the Hereafter. Now, who would want that?

Women at Work – Part 2

Vol 5 - Issue 3 Women at Work 2

That women are allowed to work should now come as no surprise to readers of the first part of this article. However, once a woman chooses to work, the decision and its realization are no less than a hurdle race. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems and their solutions in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah.

Giving up career to get married?

A common job interview question for women is whether they are single. It appears, as if career and marriage cannot coexist. Should women give up their careers in order to get married?

For a Muslim woman, family should come before her personal career. That does not mean, however, that a career is unimportant; in fact, the order of priority is a guideline of how to deal with the diverse roles a Muslim woman can and should play in society. In Islamic history, we find married Muslim women taking an active part in politics, farming, business and even in the field of war. The fact that they did not put career before marriage is proven by the excellent generation of Muslims they raised.

For example, we find Asma Bint Abu Bakr (rta) working on a farm and transporting the produce herself. She mentions that when she got married to Zubair (rta), they did not have wealth. Therefore, the Prophet (sa) gave them some land about two miles away from their home. Her son Abdullah Ibn Zubair (rta) became well known for his devotion to the cause of Islam.

In the battlefield, we hear of Umm Ammara (rta), who participated in wars and even lost her hand in the Battle of Yamamah. In the Battle of Uhud, she struck down a man, who had hurt her son. We also find Umm Sulaym (rta) carrying a dagger and tending to the wounded in the Battle of Uhud. One of her sons, Anas Ibn Malik (rta), became a renowned companion of the Prophet (sa).

Following Islamic guidance to prevent harassment

One of the criteria that women should fulfill in order to work is to dress modestly in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. They should also select professions that do not involve a lot of interaction with the opposite gender. If, however, the job requires a lot of interaction, one must take care to act with caution, care and poise. Interaction should be work-related and seclusion must be avoided. The Prophet (sa) said that whenever a man is alone with a woman, the Devil makes a third. (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet’s (sa) wives were addressed by Allah (swt) and were told not to be soft in speech: “O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.” (Al-Ahzab 33:32)

If one follows the above guidelines, any chances of unwanted attention or harassment would decrease to a large extent.

Debate on travelling alone resolved

A lot of debate has ensued over whether women can travel alone. The European Council for Fatwah and Research states that travelling alone is primarily unlawful, as we know from a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “A woman, who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, shall not travel for (a period of) a day and a night, unless accompanied by a Mahram of hers.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Council goes on to say that: “other scholars stipulate that her travel is permissible in the company of a trustworthy group of men or men and women… Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) allowed the Prophet’s wives to travel for Hajj with a group of believers and sent with them Usman Ibn Affan (rta) and Abdul-Rahman Ibn Auf (rta).

“In the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) to Adiy Ibn Hatim, we read: ‘If you live long, you will see the woman travel from Hirah (a city in Iraq) to circumambulate the Kabah, fearing none but Allah.’ (Bukhari)

“This confirms that the cause (of the prohibition) is fear (of insecurity). If security is guaranteed and fear is no more present, a woman may travel, particularly nowadays, when travel has become easy, whether by air, train or coach. In all these means of transportation, company is available and security is realized for the Muslim woman.”

Despite the above permission, the woman should ask herself what makes her feel safer – travelling alone or with a group of women / a Mahram relative. If a woman is competent, organization will make concessions for her to comply with the Islamic condition on travelling accompanied with a female colleague and will not see this as a hindrance in her employment.

Sharing household expenses is not mandatory

In Islam, the financial responsibility of the household rests with the man. Allah (swt) states: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means.” (An-Nisa 4:34)

On the other hand, such scholars as Dr. Rifat Fawzi (Professor of Shariah, Cairo University) and Sheikh Ahmed Kutty (Islamic Institute of Toronto) hold the view that women should contribute to the household expenses. In his Fatwah, Sheikh Kutty says: “If a wife gives her husband from her salary voluntarily, it is totally permissible for the husband to make use of it. But because of the fact that the wife’s working takes its toll on the husband, the wife should be fair enough to contribute something towards the maintenance of the house and the family.”

Nevertheless, a man cannot coerce his wife to work and share in the household expenses; neither can he forcibly take away her money. According to late Sheikh Muhammad Al-Bahyy (former dean of the Faculty of Theology at Al-Azhar University), “the wives’ right to the entire ownership of their Mahr (dower), which is given to them by their husbands, indicates their financial independence. It is not lawful for a man to take the Mahr, or a part of it, back from his wife except in two cases: if the wife remits it voluntarily, or if she gives it back to him in return for divorce from him (An-Nisa 4:4, Al-Baqarah 2:229).”

He further goes on to say: “As it is the case with Mahr, the wife has full ownership of her other sources of wealth, such as her salary. It is not lawful for the husband to take part or all of his wife’s salary, unless she gives it to him voluntarily.”

Women’s rights have not been imported

To conclude, I would like to quote Fatima Mernissi: “We, Muslim women, can walk into the modern world with pride, knowing that the quest for dignity, democracy and human rights, for full participation in the political and social affairs of our country, stems from no imported Western values, but is a true part of Muslim tradition.”

Who is the Most Deserving of Zakah?

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Who is the most deserving of Zakat

Piping-hot Nihari at Suhr, crispy Pakoras at Iftar, touching recitation of the Quran during Taraweeh prayers and the excitement surrounding the preparations for Eid are some of the sights and sounds associated with Ramadan. In-between the prayers, fasting and recitation of the Quran, we must also remember an obligatory duty that we have to perform – paying Zakah (obligatory charity). Contrary to popular perception, Zakah can be paid throughout the year. However, most people wait until Ramadan to dispense with this duty, so as to gain the blessings of the month.

Different Forms of Charity

We can gain the blessings of Allah (swt) by giving other forms of charity as well. In the Quran, there are five words used for charity:

  1. Zakah (or Zakat-ul-mal): obligatory charity paid on wealth that exceeds the prescribed limit. The amount differs according to the type of property – on gold and silver, for instance, one has to pay at the rate of 2.5%;
  2. Sadaqah: voluntary charity;
  3. Khairat: good deeds;
  4. Ihsan: kindness and consideration;
  5. Infaq Fi Sabil Allah: spending for the sake of Allah (swt).


In addition to the above, there is what we refer to as Zakat-ul-fitr or Sadaqat-ul-fitr, which is paid onlyin Ramadan or before the Eid-ul Fitr prayer. On the other hand, Sadaqah (translated as voluntary charity) does not have to be restricted to certain people, as is the case with Zakah. Moreover, the word ‘Sadaqah’ also has also a wider meaning. The Prophet (sa) said: “Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.” (At-Tirmdhi)

Imposition of Zakah

The word ‘Zakah’ means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth.’ The Quran points out the due recipients of Zakah. It is stated in Bukhari that during the lifetime of the Prophet (sa), some greedy people expected him to give them a share of the alms. However, the Prophet (sa) ignored them, so they defamed him. Upon that Allah (swt) revealed:

“And of them are some who accuse you (O Muhammad (sa)) in the matter of (the distribution of) the alms. If they are given part thereof, they are pleased, but if they are not given thereof, behold! They are enraged!

“Would that they were content with what Allah and His Messenger (sa) gave them and had said: ‘Allah is Sufficient for us. Allah will give us of His bounty, and so will His Messenger (sa) (from alms). We implore Allah (to enrich us).’

“As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakat) are only for the Fuqara (poor) and Al-Masakin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujahidun – those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” (At-Taubah 9:58-60)

The revelation of the above verses clearly pointed out the recipients of Zakah, thereby putting an end to all unlawful claims on this type of charity.

Recipients of Zakah

According to the above verse, eight categories of people are entitled to receive Zakah:

  1. The poor (Faqeer): the person who does not have anything.
  2. The needy (Miskeen): a person who has something, but it is not enough for meeting his needs.

Dr. Monzer Kahf, a scholar in Islamic economics, suggests that we may resort to the following four criteria to help select between the poor and the needy:

a. The degree of need: a starving person must be given priority.

b. The person’s relation to the payer of Zakah: a relative is preferred over a non-relative. The Prophet (sa) is reported to have said: “Charity given to the poor is charity, and charity given to a relative is charity and maintaining of family ties.” (Ahmad, An-Nasai)

c. The degree of religiosity of the receiver: this is within the spirit of the advice of the Prophet (sa): “And let your food not be eaten except by a pious person.” (At-Tirmdhi as narrated by Abi Saeed)

d. Availability of other sources for a specific poor/needy person.

Moreover, according to general scholarly consensus, one cannot give Zakah to one’s dependents (parents, wives and children). A wife can, however, pay Zakah to her husband, if he is in genuine need, as we learn from a Hadeeth narrated by Zaynab (rta), wife of Abdullah, and reported by Bukhari and Muslim.

  1. The collectors of funds: those, who are appointed by the Imam (leader) to collect the Zakah. They are to be given an amount that matches their efforts, even if they are rich.
  2. Attracting the hearts of those, who have been inclined (towards Islam): this refers to those, whose hearts the Prophet (sa) wanted to soften, so that they would become Muslims, or so that he could ward off their evil, or those, whose resolve he wanted to strengthen and help them to be steadfast in Islam. These are the three types of people, whose hearts were to be softened.

According to Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee: “The majority of scholars are of the view that non-Muslims should not be given from the money of Zakah, except those, whose hearts are inclined to Islam, though there is a difference over whether such stipulation is still relevant or not and the permissibility of giving them of the Zakah money is haunted with controversy.”

  1. The captives: this refers to slaves, who had drawn up a written contract with their masters to purchase their freedom; or the amount needed to purchase their freedom, without a prior contract.
  2. The debtors: it refers to the debtors, who are unable to pay off their loans.
  3. For Allah’s (swt) cause: it refers to the soldiers, who are devoted to waging war for the sake of Allah (swt) and making the word of Islam prevail.

A number of modern jurists, such as Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida, Maulana Mawdudi, Amin Ahsan Islahi, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and some Fatwah organizations in Kuwait and Egypt, are of the opinion that the phrase, “in the cause of Allah” covers a broad category, and it should not be restricted to Jihad only; rather, it should be applied to all those situations, where there is a need to serve Islam and Muslims. They say that the expression, “for the poor and needy” can also mean “for the benefit of the poor and needy.” Such scholars consider it permissible to use Zakah money to finance Dawah and public welfare programmes, such as building mosques and schools, Dawah institutes, activities concerning Dawah objectives, etc.

  1. The Wayfarer: this means a travelling stranger, who is cut off from his wealth; he may be given whatever he needs, even if he is rich in his own land.

Ultimate Purpose: Allah’s (swt) Pleasure

Any believer would wish to see that his hard-earned money reaches the deserving, light up a sad face or fulfill a need. No matter how hard we all try to do just that, we must remember that our intention should be to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure and reward. Therefore, we must pray to Allah (swt) with great sincerity that He may accept our efforts and clarify our intentions. After all, it is not Allah (swt), Who needs our wealth; rather, we need Him.

Concept of Fun

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Concept of FunSome people prefer to shun all forms of enjoyment, labeling them as useless pastimes of this world; others believe that as long as they are observing basic religious rituals, they are free to lead their lives as they wish.

Sparkling lights, bright clothes and the sound of laughter bring to mind a scene of joy and celebration. Mouth-watering food, tasty desserts and singing and dancing complete the picture. However, sadly, in the merriment and gaiety we often forget Allah’s (swt) pleasure and exceed all limits of decency and moderation prescribed by Shariah. Contrary to what most people would think, piety is not the opposite of gaiety; rejoicing does not have to be un-Islamic; and most importantly, you can be a pious Muslim and yet be a source of cheerfulness, liveliness and joy to those around you.

To become such a Muslim, it is imperative to know what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) tell us about celebrating our moments of happiness.

Why do people celebrate?

A look at the festivals throughout the world gives us three major reasons for celebrations. Firstly, many people celebrate the change of seasons – Hindus, for instance, celebrate Holi and Basant at the onset of Spring. Secondly, there are those, who celebrate the birth of gods and goddesses – for example, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia to honour Juno, the guardian of women and marriage. And thirdly, yet others celebrate historical events – for example, former Allied nations celebrate the Armistice Day as a reminder of victory against Germany and the Russian and Ottoman Empires in World War I.

Islamic celebrations, on the other hand, are not pinned down by the changes of seasons, or regional and local events. In fact, the two Islamic festivals (Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha) are not related either to the Prophet’s (sa) life or any important victories in the Islamic history. Instead, these celebrations are deeply-rooted in the message brought to this world by the Prophet (sa). Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated after the month of Ramadan in gratefulness to Allah (swt) for having been able to complete a month of fasting. Eid-ul-Adha marks the Hajj rites and reminds Muslims of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as). Rejoicing on these days becomes an act of worship, for the Prophet (sa) has said: “Indeed, for every nation there is a day of rejoicing, and this is our day of rejoicing.” (Bukhari)

Islam encourages rejoicing

According to a famous saying, “variety is the spice of life.” Therefore, it is but natural that we need some change in our daily lives for feeling refreshed and energized. Since Islam is a Deen that gives us guidelines on leading a natural life, it does not ignore this important aspect of human existence. Far from merely allowing celebration, Islam encourages rejoicing.

Allah (swt) says regarding the revelation of the Quran: “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Quran); – therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Yunus 10:58)

Furthermore, at another point in the Quran, Allah (swt) asks the Prophet (sa) primarily, and the believers on a secondary level to proclaim the blessings that He has bestowed:

“And proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).”

(Ad-Duha 93:11)

Islamic celebrations and recreational activities

Apart from the two Eids, personal and national occasions also serve as permissible reasons to celebrate. Such personal occasions as marriage, the birth of a child, getting a new job, moving to a new house or getting a new car are some occasions for celebration. For young children, the starting of the recitation of the Quran and the completion of its recitation can also be reasons for celebration. Celebrating of such national occasions as the Independence Day also reminds us of the blessings of Allah (swt) granted in the form of an independent land where Islam can be practiced freely.

In a wider context, we find that Islam allows picnics, competitions and meaningful vacations. Prophet Yaqub’s (as) children, for example, went for a picnic, while the Companions of the Prophet (sa) engaged in dueling, camel-racing and archery – the Prophet (sa) even awarded prizes to the winners.

Meaningful vacations are also encouraged: “So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).” (An-Nahl 16:36)

Etiquettes of celebration

Some of the encouraged etiquettes of celebration are exchanging of gifts, singing, reciting of good poetry and indulging in good humour.

Concerning gifts, we know from Aisha (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to accept gifts and gave something in return. (Bukhari) In a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta), we find the Prophet (sa) advising Muslim women: “O Muslim women! None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her female neighbour, even if it were the trotters of the sheep (fleshless part of the legs).” (Bukhari)

From Ahadeeth we know that singing on joyful occasions is also permitted.

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) came to my house, while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (sa) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then, Abu Bakr (rta) came and spoke to me harshly, saying: ‘Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (sa)?’ Allah’s Messenger (sa) turned his face towards him and said: ‘Leave them.’ When Abu Bakr (rta) became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left.” (Bukhari)

Al-Rubayyi Bint Muawwidh reports: “The Prophet (sa) visited me on the night of my wedding, sitting not far from me. We had a number of maids playing the tambourine and singing poems in praise of my people, who were killed in the Battle of Badr. One of them said in her singing: ‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen in future.’ The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not repeat this, but continue with what you were saying earlier.’” (Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawood)

In the Prophet’s (sa) life, we find instances of good fun and humour. For example, we find him being playful with his wives.

Once, Aisha (rta) was talking very boldly with the Prophet (sa). Abu Bakr (rta) happened to come, and he grew so angry at his daughter’s behaviour that he wanted to beat her, but the Prophet (sa) prevented him. After Abu Bakr (rta) had left, he remarked: “See, how I saved you.” (Abu Dawood)

Limits set by Allah (swt)

Rejoicing and fun without limits is very likely to make harmless celebrations a source of worry and burden. Our beautiful Deen gives us guidelines regarding the boundaries that must be kept. Dr. Mahmood Ghazi, former president of the International Islamic University (Islamabad), highlights three major factors that need to be considered when rejoicing: modesty, moderation and keeping in mind the basic objectives of Shariah.


According to Imran Ibn Hussain (rta), the Prophet (sa) highlighted the excellence of modesty: “Haya (modesty, bashfulness, self-respect) does not bring anything except good.” (Bukhari)

Contrary to general understanding, modesty does not merely refer to an outward expression of chastity. Although codes of conduct regarding proper dress and interaction with the opposite gender are important, they are not the be-all and the end-all. Modesty should be entrenched in one’s nature, which is most apparent through body language and conversation. If properly dressed girls are singing lewd songs or dancing in an obscene manner, it cannot be called modest behaviour.

Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated (on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta)) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has written for Adam’s son his share of adultery, which he commits inevitably. The adultery of the eyes is the sight (to gaze at a forbidden thing), the adultery of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes and desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it.” (Bukhari)


Allah (swt) has asked the believers not to be wasteful or extravagant: “O Children of Adam! …eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Spending on permissible acts beyond what is necessary constitutes extravagance, while squandering wealth or any other blessing of Allah (swt) would mean spending on what Allah (swt) has prohibited, even if it means spending only a rupee. In the latter case, one can seek a scholar’s help to understand what is allowed, while in the former situation, one has to decide subjectively, what is necessary and what goes beyond that.

Being mindful of Shariah objectives

While celebrating, we have to consider the five basic objectives of Shariah, namely, the protection of life, wealth, honour, mind/sense and Deen. For instance, if rejoicing results in the loss of innocent lives, delay or abandonment of obligatory acts of worship, then such activities would not be in line with the objectives of Shariah. At the same time, however, cultural traditions that are not based on polytheism, do not result in disunity among the Muslims and do not exceed the limits prescribed by the Shariah are permissible. For instance, in Morocco pigeon’s soup is served at Iftar time during Ramadan, while Iftar in Pakistan would be incomplete without the traditional Pakoras. Such cultural traditions conform to the above guidelines.

We must also remember that as Muslims we have a distinct identity and culture – we must not fall prey to an inferiority complex which results in copycat behaviour. The Prophet (sa) has said: “Whoever imitates a nation (in its ways and culture) becomes one of them.” (Abu Dawood)

Obtaining Allah’s (swt) blessings

Aligning our special occasions of rejoicing with the above principles will make our celebrations not only memorable, but also deserving of Allah’s (swt) blessing and mercy. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom for making our celebrations a source of happiness for all those around us, Ameen.

Proud as a Peacock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe may never really know, how a peacock feels, and perhaps calling him proud may be doing him an injustice; however, we humans can definitely understand what it is like to be arrogant and worse still – to be treated with arrogance. For instance, there is the case of Saima, who felt looked down upon at work, since she did not speak English very well and did not come from an elite business school. There are other people at work, too, whom we merely take for granted – the sweeper, for instance, who comes early in the morning, much before most people arrive for work, or the intern, who is slogging it out in a cramped corner of the office. Before we move on to discussing, whether arrogance is an acceptable trait, we must first define it.

What is arrogance?

In a Hadeeth narrated by Abdullah Ibn Masud (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “He, who has in his heart (even) a weight of an atom of arrogance, will not enter Paradise.” Someone asked: “How about a person, who likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Allah’s Messenger (sa) replied: “Indeed Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the Truth and having contempt for people.”

Is arrogance acceptable?

The Quran is filled with stories of people and nations, who were overbearing and puffed up with self-importance; they rejected Allah’s (swt) Word and mocked the messengers. Their end speaks volumes about how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance. The Pharaoh, for instance, was drowned along with his followers, Qarun was swallowed up by the earth, and the nations of Ad, Thamud and Lut were destroyed by natural calamities.

We also find words of admonition in the Holy Quran regarding arrogance. For example, there is the advice of Luqman to his son: “‘And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.’” (Luqman 31:18)


Even the arrogant Qarun was admonished by his own people for his overbearing attitude:

“Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people said to him: ‘Do not exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). Verily, Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah).’” (Al-Qasas 28:76)

In the books of Ahadeeth, we find the end of a man, who was puffed up with pride.

Ibn Umar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “A man was walking dragging his dress with pride, he was sunk in the earth because of it and will keep sinking in the earth till the day of standing.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘Pride is my cloak and honour is my loincloth, and whoever contends with me regarding one of them both, I will throw him in the fire.’” (Abu Dawood)

The above Quranic verses and Ahadeeth clearly show how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance.

Are you arrogant?

One is quick to jump to conclusions about people’s vain attitude. However, it is much more important to recognize arrogance within yourself. You could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love listening to how well you work and how well-dressed you are?
  • Do you believe that you have got this job only, because you worked hard and well? After all – you deserve it!
  • Do you listen to others at work, or do you always want your way? After all – your opinion is what really matters!
  • Working as part of a team, do you feel that the less important work makes you literally that – LESS important?
  • When someone criticizes your opinion, do you feel like saying: “How dare you question my judgment?”

If your answer to most of the above questions is a ‘yes,’ it is likely that the plant of arrogance has taken root inside your heart.

The ways of rooting out arrogance


Begin with seeking Allah’s (swt) help: “O Allah! Keep me alive (in a state of) humbleness and grant me death in (a state of) humbleness, and gather (resurrect) me in the company of the humble ones.” (Ibn Abi Shaibah)

Praise Allah (swt)

When someone praises you, instead of saying thank you, say: “Alhamdulillah!” (Praise be to Allah!)

Remember the warning in the Quran

Remind yourself of the miserable end of the nations and people, who were arrogant.

Look up to the Prophet’s (sa) example

As a part of a team, the Prophet (sa) did not despise any task, no matter how menial and ordinary it appeared to be. Once, he was traveling with his companions and it was time to prepare food, he asked them to slaughter a sheep. A man said: “I will slaughter it.” Another said: “I will skin it out.” A third one said: “I will cook it.” So, Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “I will collect the wood for fire.” They said: “No. We will do that work.” The Prophet (sa) said: “I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allah hates to see a servant of His privileged to others.” So, he went and collected firewood. (Khulasatus-Siyar, p.22)

Remind yourself of your creation

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “It is He, Who has created you (Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah (mixed semen drops of male and female sexual discharge [i.e. Adam’s offspring]) then from a clot (a piece of coagulated blood), then brings you forth as an infant…” (Ghafir 40:67)

Dealing with arrogant people

Difficulties in the workplace arise from the attitude of colleagues and supervisors. Dealing with an arrogant boss or a colleague is difficult; however, you can use the following tips to deal with them more effectively.

Be gentle with them

Allah (swt) told Musa (as), how to deal with the arrogant Pharaoh: “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah).” (Ta-Ha 20:44)

Arrogance is rooted in insecurity. Being gentle with such a person may tame his desire to overpower others.

Advise them in private

From a Hadeeth, we learn that the Prophet (sa) said: “Islam is a word of sincerity and well wishing.” Upon this, the companions asked: “For whom?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “For Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and At-Tirmidhi)

Advising such people in private would perhaps give them a chance to reflect on their behavior, which is detrimental to their own self as well as to others around them.

Supplicate for them

Lastly, make a prayer for that arrogant colleague or boss to help him/her get over the overbearing attitude, which invites Allah’s (swt) wrath.

Dealing with Jealousy

Vol 4 - Issue 4 Dealing with JealousySarah took a two-year break from her job to attend university. When she came back, she discovered that her juniors had now reached higher posts and she would have to join as a subordinate. She couldn’t help feeling a strong sense of resentment towards her ‘juniors’. The resentment continued to build up.

Having just switched to a new company as Head of Operations, Amir looked forward to higher pay, a newer car and the chances of working with a dynamic team. The newly-appointed Head of Sales was fifteen years his senior. Amir had an introductory meeting with him that morning and got an uncanny feeling that he wasn’t going to be of much help as the Head of Operations.

No one is safe from jealousy. Either you are a victim of jealousy or a victim of someone else’s. You’ve also probably been in a sticky situation as a team-leader, when your subordinates are nurturing feelings of jealousy towards each other. Problems are being created but you find yourself at a loss as to how to deal with the issue.

Can the above stories be dismissed as myths or does jealousy really exist in the workplace? Let’s see what research has to say.

What does research say about jealousy?

A survey on the role jealousy plays in organizations was conducted by Frederick C. Miner Jr., Ph.D., and the results were published in the April 1990 issue of the “Personnel Journal”. It was found that more than 75% of the respondents reported observing a jealous situation in their work environment. What was really surprising was the fact that more than 50% indicated that they were directly involved in such a situation, and over 25% of the group admitted that they were jealous of someone else during the past month. In more than 33% of the situations, jealous people tried to undermine the co-workers they were jealous of by spreading rumors, acting destructively and so on.

In another survey on jealousy, the results were reported by “Notre Dame Magazine” in the summer issue of 1996. The survey conducted by Professor of Management Robert P. Vecchio cited that 77% of employees surveyed had witnessed jealousy around the office within the past month, and more than 50% admitted to being directly involved.

The above results point to the fact that jealousy is common in the workplace. Let’s see what guidance Islam gives about this very destructive emotion.

What does Islam say about jealousy?

The Prophet (sa) said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” (Abu Dawood)

In another Hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There has come to you the disease of the nations before you, jealousy and hatred. This is the ‘shaver’ (destroyer); I do not say that it shaves hair, but that it shaves (destroys) faith.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Two things cannot be gathered in the heart of a believer, Iman (faith) and envy.” (An-Nasai)

It is very clear from the above Ahadeeth that jealousy should not be nurtured, and one should make an effort to cleanse one’s heart of this destructive emotion. Not doing so would put our faith in danger.

How to deal with jealousy?

Here are some tips on dealing with this emotion, and with people, who might turn green at the mention of your name.

If you are jealous of someone…

1. Say Salam and shake hands with him

Jealousy breeds hatred and the word of Salam spreads love as we know from the following Hadeeth: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of that which will strengthen love between you? Spread (the greeting of) Salam amongst yourselves.” (At-Tirmidhi)

2. Say a prayer of blessing for him

Upon feeling the pangs of jealousy, immediately say a prayer of blessing for that person and ask forgiveness from Allah (swt).

3. Ask for contentment from Allah (swt)

One of the causes of jealousy is discontentment with the blessings given to you by Allah (swt). You can read the following Masnoon prayer to seek contentment: “O Allah! Make me content upon what (blessings) You have granted me and bless me in it; and be the Best Protector (and Guardian) for me (in my absence) of whatever is hidden from me.”


If someone is jealous of you…

Seek protection from Allah (swt)

Say a prayer seeking refuge with Allah (swt). Recitation of Surah Falaq (Chapter 113) and prayers of protection would save you from the harms of the person who is jealous.

You could recite the following prayer: “O Allah! Indeed we place You before them (our enemies) and we take refuge in You from their evil.” (Abu Dawood)

If you are a manager dealing with jealousies among your subordinates, then you should:

1. Throw open the doors of communication

Understanding the reasons for an employee’s negative sentiment and trying to arrive at a solution to the problem would possibly result in curtailment of jealousy.

2. Boost employee’s morale

By focusing on each employee’s positive aspects and abilities you could shift the attention away from destructive tendencies towards constructive efforts.

If you are a co-worker, then you could:

Convey to your colleague that jealousy is destructive

Tell your colleague that jealousy will take him down the drain both in this world and in the Hereafter; plus, the company will likely suffer.

Last Word…

Allah (swt) has said: “It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work But the Mercy (Paradise) of your Lord is better than the (wealth of this world) which they amass.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:32)

It is clear from the above verse that the reason for some people getting more of this world than others is due to Allah’s (swt) wisdom and planning. Therefore, instead of rushing to get more of the possessions of this world, our sights should remain on the Hereafter. The fires of jealousy will then subside, Insha’Allah!

An Advice

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: “Umar Ibn Khattab wrote this letter to Abu Musa Al-Ashari: ‘Be content with your provision in this world, for the Most Merciful has honored some of His servants over others in terms of provision as a test of both. The one, who has been given plenty, is being tested to see if he will give thanks to Allah and fulfill the duties which are his by virtue of his wealth.’” (Ibn Hatim)