Go with the Flow

health checkThe juggling act women or men usually face between work and family is very tedious and difficult to manage successfully. How do you plan ahead to avoid the obvious pitfalls and anticipate the unexpected twists life throws at you? I have come up with a simple solution: “Go with the Flow.” This might seem as an antithesis to what most articles advise but bear with me and follow these ten simple yet flexible rules.

Prioritize your tasks for the day. Buy a pretty diary (doesn’t have to be too expensive) and use it to jot down your tasks the night before. I realize that smart phones do all that for you, but take a few moments to gather your thoughts, sit down in seclusion (I do this in the laundry room), and jot down everything you must accomplish that day. Do not write down things that can wait for another day. This is your next twenty-four hours’ hot list. There should be only three to five items on the list so that it is flexible enough add two more to, if required. This is your self-analysis. Seerah teaches us that the Prophet’s (sa) day consisted of spiritual development, family time, and personal/social interaction. The questions to ask while jotting down tasks are:

  1. What is worth spending an hour on?
  2. What comes first?
  3. What is a must-do and what is good-to-do?

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Defining the Satar

Oct 10 - Defining the SatarBy S. K. Siddiqui and Tasneem Vali

In December, 2001, Nicholas Kristof reported in the New York Times that although Afghan women were no longer required to wear the Burqa, they did so anyway. In his view, only the subjugated and backward women would choose to cover themselves. Islamic law, however, assigns it moral, social and legal dimensions. It is of utmost importance to dress correctly, because your dress is a reflection of yourself.

It is human nature to make even the simplest instruction complicated; the same has happened with Allah (swt) commandment, especially regarding a Muslim woman’s dress. If we study the fundamentals of what Allah (swt) has commanded, there are very few rules to remember – they are clearly defined in the Quran.

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah’s All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur, 24: 30-31)

1. Extent of Covering

The dress of Muslim men must cover the area from the navel to the knee, while women should cover their entire body, except for the face and hands. The area that must not be uncovered in the presence of any person, except the spouse, is called Satar. Some additional instructions are as follows:

(a) A Muslim woman cannot exhibit her beauty and adornment, except for “that which must ordinarily appear thereof”. This prohibition could include:

  • natural beauty,
  • acquired adornment (jewellery, clothes, etc.).

2. Looseness

The dress must not be tightly fitted.

3. Thickness

The clothes should not be transparent, so that the colour of skin or the shape of the body is apparent.

4. Overall Appearance

It should not attract undue attention.

In addition to the above clear requirements, there are some minor considerations:

  1. The dress should not be similar to what the opposite sex wears. Ibn Abbas (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) cursed the men who act like women, and the women who act like men. (Bukhari)
  2. The dress of a Muslim must not imitate/emulate that of another nation. Muslims have their distinct identity and must ‘wear the label’ so to say. Al-Qurtubi says: “Women in those days used to cover their heads with the Khimaar, throwing its ends on their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah (swt) commanded them to cover those parts with the Khimaar.”
  3. It should not be a dress of fame, pride and vanity. “Whoever wears a dress of fame in this world; Allah will clothe him with a dress of humiliation in the day of resurrection, and then set it afire.” (Al-Albani). At the same time, it is imperative to wear clothes that are befitting your socio-economical status – in other words, it is not right to wear rags to appear more pious.
  4. The dress must be clean, reflecting one’s concern for Taharah.

The verses in Surah An-Nur inform us about special relations known as Mahrams. These are the people in front of whom a woman may appear with her head uncovered, but the rest of her still needs to be covered. The spouse is a special case, in front of whom the other party may appear uncovered to any degree.

The basic code to follow is practicing what you preach. Allah (swt) says: “Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (As-Saff 61:3)

The rule never to break is that of decency. In every culture, the norms of decency vary, for instance, in the west, exposing your legs is not considered indecent, and in India, where wearing a Saree is common, exposing the midriff is acceptable.

However, as Muslims, we must interpret everything in the light of the Quran and Sunnah; thus, our dress and actions must follow the aforementioned conventions.

Even though Muslims might be properly covered physically, their eyes must remain open to the world. They may come across things which are Haram for them to see – they should avoid looking at them. This might include lowering the gaze when seeing a person who does not follow the Islamic dress code, exercising caution when watching TV, avoiding looking at billboards and sticking to guidelines of modesty in social interaction with the opposite sex.

Those of us armed with western education ‘know’ that it is rude not to keep eye contact with people when addressing them. However, Islam teaches that believing men and women lower their gaze to protect themselves. We need to unlearn these alien theories.

In addition to this, we should be aware that even though most of these rules apply post puberty, we have a responsibility to create awareness in our children about their bodies as soon as they become conscious of their clothing or actions. Children should be made aware that wearing certain types of clothes or acting in a certain way in front of the opposite sex is unacceptable.

Allah (swt) has given us simple and clear guidelines. It is our responsibility to follow them as closely as we can. We should avoid the trap of such excuses as – “If I cover my face, the other person will not understand what I say.” Do you see a person’s lips move, when you talk on the phone? A nun, who covers herself, is dedicated to God, but a Muslim woman who chooses to do the same, is viewed as oppressed and down trodden.

Break the shackles of your education – think with your heart’s eye! Let Allah (swt) be your sole guide.

Labbaik-Allahuma-Labbaik

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Labaik Allahuma Labaik“Here I am, O Allah! Here I am!” echoed in my heart, my mind and soul all in unison. For the first time in my life I experienced unadulterated rapture. I was off on the journey every Muslim dreams of making – to do all the things that billions of Muslims have performed solely for the sake of Allah (swt).

8th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

I am at Mina. The Hajj experience cannot be described in words, and it must be experienced to be fully understood. For the first time in my life, I am tongue tied. There is no other place on earth, where one willingly shares a bed with 250 people and a bathroom with 700 strangers in the space that was my bedroom back home! The rigors of these three days will almost certainly destroy the body; however, strangely enough, the more tired and uncomfortable one gets, the more one’s soul is purified and strengthened.

I have left three kids behind solely to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure. I have left my entire palette of experiences to be present under the open sky, where the Prophet (sa) once stood, once prayed, once slept and where his tears must have once fallen. Now, my tears fall here, repenting to Allah (swt) and asking for His mercy.

9th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

The day of Arafat. The emotions are high and the time is so very short. How can I possibly repent, beg for mercy, ask for all that I want for myself, my family, friends, neighbours, people all over the world, weep for the sins I have committed, cry over the mistakes I have made, plead forgiveness for the promises I didn’t keep, supplicate and beseech Allah (swt) to grant me all that I desire?

I now know that ‘beautiful’ is a simple word, and that is just what Hajj is – simply beautiful and purifying. Not complicated, not intricate, just simple dos and don’ts and mostly tolerance and patience – valuable tools for life.

This was the valley, where the Prophet (sa) once cried to Allah (swt) for forgiveness, where he prayed for us, and where his heart belonged. I prayed my heart out. It is exhausting but only mentally. I walked from Arafat to Muzdalifah to spend the night under the open sky. This is a journey of sacrifices and fulfillment, of friendships where one would not expect, and of great pleasure in simple acts.

10th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

What a splendid day! The elation of having put my mind and body through the severity, which cannot be imagined, voluntarily. Never in my life did I think that such physical fatigue and control over one’s desires and sacrifice would bring happiness. The tiredness of walking from Arafat to Muzdalifah, not sleeping but just absorbing Muzdalifah, walking to Mina, stoning the Satan, back to Makkah for the Tawaf e Ziarat and Sae’e and finally back to Mina – all in a day and a half has brought me peace of mind. What is this spirit that Allah (swt) has breathed into His creation? What is it that moves me to such heights of passion that I exert myself physically and mentally thus with only one purpose – to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure! EID MUBARAK!

11th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

Rami (stoning the devil) is such a simple concept, just like Islam, such a simple way of life. Why didn’t I realize this before? Islam asks so little and gives so much, only if we let go of all the trappings that have become our necessities. In Mina, I realized I didn’t need such a big house, only one sufficient enough to accommodate my family with love and tolerance. We don’t need two cars, just the two legs Allah (swt) has given us. I don’t need three kinds of food at every meal, just enough to feed my family.

Stoned the devil, cast him out but yet so many layers that I have to shed, before I reach the level of true submission. I have never slept so well or as soundly, as I did today.

This was my Hajj experience. Actually, this does not do justice to the overwhelming emotions, the unstoppable tears and the complete and utter calm that descends over you after completing Hajj. It is truly the ‘Journey of a Lifetime’! May Allah (swt) grant every Muslim the means and opportunity to experience it. Ameen.

[Hadeeth Commentary] Fulfilling the Needs of Another Muslim

Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali

hadith3

Related on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah (swt) will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the hereafter. Whosoever alleviates the difficulties of a needy person who cannot pay his debt, Allah (swt) will alleviate his difficulties in both this world and the hereafter. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will conceal his faults in this world and the hereafter. Allah (swt) will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother. Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah (swt) will make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allah (swt), reciting the Book of Allah (swt) and studying it among themselves, except that tranquility descends upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them, and Allah (swt) makes mention of them amongst those who are in His presence. Whosoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.” (Muslim)

This is a comprehensive Hadeeth that teaches us how to behave as part of a society. It can be divided into two parts:

  • The ways we can help each other
  • The virtues of the study circle (Halaqa, Dars etc…)

The Hadeeth ends with a statement that categorically denies any benefit you might think your lineage will offer on the Day of Judgement.

How can we help each other?

There are essentially four ways demonstrated in the narrative above.

  1. Whoever removes a source of worldly grief from a believer, Allah (swt) will remove from him one of his sources of grief on the Day of Resurrection.
  2. Whoever eases the necessity of a needy person, Allah (swt) will lessen his needs in this world and the hereafter.
  3. Whoever shields (or hides the misdeeds) of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will shield him in this world and the hereafter.
  4. Allah (swt) will aid His slave as long as he aids his brother.

chart1

This guarantees that the profit earned from an act is of a comparable nature to the act itself. Or, that you will be treated the same way, in fact better than the way you treat another Muslim. You will get equal amounts of relief, help and protection in this world and also after you leave this temporary abode. Ibn Rajab, as quoted by An-Nawawi, talks about the difference between the two situations – in this world and the hereafter. Not everyone has a difficult life in this world, or is distressed. Since the difficulties of this life are incomparable to the distressful aspects of the hereafter, Allah (swt) reserves the reward for striving to relieve another Muslim’s distress of this life until the Day of Judgement. Many Ahadeeth emphasize on this principle. Grief or distress in this Hadeeth means a great difficulty or hardship a Muslim is facing. In one version of the Hadeeth, it is stated as “whosoever relieves” and in another version “whosoever removes”. There is obviously a difference between the two versions because ‘to relieve’ means to minimize the difficulty or distress, whereas ‘to remove’ means to totally eradicate the difficulty or hardship.” (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)

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“And if the debtor is in a hard time (has no money), then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay, but if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:280)

Specifically with debt, if a person dies with it his burial is on hold until the debt is repaid. Avoid falling into debt just to have what others have. To make it easy, if someone needs to repay you some money and they cannot pay you on time, forgive them. Give them more time or tell them to repay whatever they can. This by itself is Sadaqah.

How to shield your Muslim brother?

Ibn Rajab says that people can fall into two categories:

  1. Those who are not known for transgression or committing bad deeds. For these people, if by any chance they commit a mistake, it should not be revealed. On the contrary, it should be concealed and not talked about.
  2. Those who are well known transgressors, and who speak proudly about their shameful and sinful acts. Ibn Rajab mentions that if there is a need to mention the qualities of these people, we should do so for the benefit of the Muslim community. (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)

The general rule of the Hadeeth is that Muslims must not disclose the faults of other Muslims unless they are of the second category and then only to an authority who will discipline them for the benefit of the Ummah. Satara is to cover someone’s mistakes; there are three types of ‘Sittar’:

chart2

A scholar said it is better to make a mistake in pardoning someone than to make a mistake by punishing someone wrongly. No matter how you help a fellow Muslim, you will be rewarded.

What are the virtues of a study circle?

This is the core of Islam, searching for and acquiring knowledge. This part of the Hadeeth is usually interpreted as follows:

  1. Allah (swt) will ease the way of the knowledge seeker to gain knowledge.
  2. Allah (swt) will assure the knowledge seeker benefits from the knowledge he is seeking.
  3. Those who pursue knowledge for the good of humanity, Allah (swt) will help them overcome distress on the Day of Judgement.
  4. Whosoever remembers Allah (swt) in a congregation, Allah (swt) mentions that person in His Divine congregation with His Angels.

In the end, we are reminded it is not who we are but what we do, and that we will bear the weight of our deeds ourselves on the Judgement Day.

May Allah (swt) enable us to be a better Muslim and implement the moral of this Hadeeth throughout our life. Ameen.

World Hijab Day Special: Wear the Label

Image courtesy http://hijabforall.blogspot.com/

Image courtesy http://hijabforall.blogspot.com/

When Prophet Muhammad (sa) started preaching ‘the Message’, the initial three years in Makkah were a secretive form of Dawah. The Prophet (sa) selected people based on their character and inclination to accept Islam. The six early years resulted in only 40 Muslims, yet they are the foremost, as-Sabiqoon al-Awwaloon.

I volunteer at my kids’ elementary school twice a week. This is the best Dawah I can do, using my personality, knowledge and temperament to initiate a dialogue about Islam. I pray to Allah (swt) before I approach anyone.

I live in a country with a majority population of non-Muslims, just like Makkah in the preliminary stages of Dawah. I asked my daughter’s grade four teacher, a Christian, about World Hijab Day during a recent discussion.

“Yes, I’ve heard of it,” she says. “From what I have noticed about you, you wear the Hijab, and it is not a costume but a lifestyle choice, am I right?”

“It is a lifestyle but not a choice; there are clear rules for men and women to cover themselves,” I reply.

“Then why would you celebrate a ‘day’? To me that means it is a costume one puts on for a period, like Halloween.”

The impetus behind World Hijab Day might be, “to introduce the world and non-Muslims, in particular, what it feels like to wear Hijab.” In reality, this reduces Hijab to a mere prop in a play, to be put on or taken off whenever you feel like it. 

Our conversation continues, but she has a point. When we delegate a ‘day’ for something, it becomes special for that particular day, like Mother’s day, Father’s Day, birthdays, Valentine’s Day etc… Are we ready to limit Hijab to only one day out of 365?

When they ruled and conquered the world, Muslims adopted local practices. This is reflected in Islamic architecture, art, literature and cuisine. In fact, when Muslims learned during their campaigns into China’s borderlands that two of their prisoners of war knew how to make paper, they sent these two POW’s under special guard back to the Khaleefah so Muslims could benefit from this knowledge, just as the Prophet (sa) did after Badr. We must embrace change, but not to the extent that it redefines our core values.

The impetus behind World Hijab Day might be, “to introduce the world and non-Muslims, in particular, what it feels like to wear Hijab.” In reality, this reduces Hijab to a mere prop in a play, to be put on or taken off whenever you feel like it. Wearing Hijab just because everyone is doing it trivializes it. I asked my non-Muslim friend, a university student about World Hijab Day. She didn’t know about it, but said, “It’s like I am wearing a label. So I wear Hijab, but I am dressed in my usual clothes, I eat ham and I drink wine. Would that be acceptable representation? Now, people think I am Muslim because I look like one, and they then perceive everything I do and assess your faith. Would you like that?”

I ask you the very same question. Wearing Hijab is a ‘branding’ of the Muslim woman, to use a marketing term. Therefore, everyone wearing one is now representing Islam, which is the reality of the way our world functions. Ibn Khaldun in his Muqaddimah says: “…the vanquished always want to imitate the victor in his distinctive mark(s), his dress, his occupation, and all his other conditions and customs.” Are we so easily deceived, that wearing a Hijab, a mark of honour for women, has become a mere ‘custom/costume’ that must be shared with others because they can experience its ‘exotic’ feel.

Celebrating World Hijab Day in countries where the majority is Muslims is flippant. Would you advocate a ‘Salah Day’ so people can ‘feel’ what it is like to pray five times a day? 

Prophet Muhammad (sa) never used this kind of Dawah to invite the Quraish or the other desert tribes toward Allah’s (swt) message. Recall the explanation of Surah Kafirun given by Sayyid Qutb – In the Shade of the Quran: “When Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared his religion to be that of Abraham, they (Quraish) argued that there was no reason for them to forsake their beliefs and follow Muhammad’s instead, since they too were of the same religion. In the meantime, they sought a sort of compromise with him proposing that he should prostrate himself before their deities in return for their prostration to his God… To clear up this muddle,…this sūrah was revealed in such a decisive, assertive tone. “Say: ‘Unbelievers! I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your own religion and I have mine.” (Al-Kafirun 1-6).

Celebrating World Hijab Day in countries where the majority is Muslims is flippant. Would you advocate a ‘Salah Day’ so people can ‘feel’ what it is like to pray five times a day? Hijab, covering one’s hair and chest, is an obligation; there is no opinion of any scholar that will contradict the Quran’s requirements. By relegating an obligation to a ‘day’, and asking people to ‘try’ it out defeats the purpose.

This is my humble opinion. May Allah forgive me if I have hurt people’s feelings, but I am uncompromising about confining Hijab to only a ‘day’. It is the ultimate label. Wearing it makes me a symbol for Muslim women everywhere. Hijab is not a costume; it is my ATTITUDE!

Tackling Teenagehood

teenagers

Raising teenagers is a herculean task. Raising teenagers in the West is even more wrought with obstacles. Or so I thought, until I realized that I was approaching my duty with a wrong frame of mind. I read the following. It is a letter written by Ali (rtam) to his son. It exemplified my feelings and set me thinking about approaching parenting from a different angle. Ali (rtam) wrote:

“I found you a part of myself; rather, I found you my whole, so much that if anything befell you, it was as though it befell me, and if death came to you, it was as though it came to me. Consequently, your affairs meant to me as my own matters would mean to me. So I have written this piece of advice as an instrument of help…

Certainly, the heart of a young man is like an uncultivated land. It accepts whatever is strewn on it. So I hastened to mold you properly, before your heart hardens up and your mind gets occupied…”

My task was clear. This is what I need to do:

  1. What I should not do. I wasn’t supposed to stop my son from logging into Facebook, or from tweeting all afternoon, or from asking silly questions that made no sense. My actual task was to instill in him three things. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The best gift to children from parents is their correct training.” (Tirmidhi) Once these things became second nature, he would monitor himself, and my job would be done. We all forget that when we ourselves were teenagers, we used to have an insufferable attitude: “I can do whatever I want, because I’m an adult.”
  1. The meaning of Abd-Allah should be clear to your teenager. “The most beloved of your names to Allah are ‘Abd-Allah and ‘Abdur-Rahman.” (Muslim) Iman is a wavering thing. Sometimes it is strong, while at other times it becomes weak. Do not be hard on your teenager; he will follow his peer group, which does not mean he is ‘bad’. It only means that he needs a direction. Give him an alternate. Make him think it is his choice.

I met a young high school girl at the Masjid. She always dressed decently and wore Hijab. It’s been a year since we met, and I have never seen her in skinny jeans, t-shirts or tight revealing clothes. I asked her what her parents did that made her so confident. She said they gave me a choice: either I practice Hijab correctly or I don’t do it at all. “What if you had chosen not to wear Hijab?” I asked. “Actually, I knew that Allah (swt) commands women to cover their beauty, so the choice was obeying Allah (swt) or disobeying Him.” I was stunned… so simple. Conclusion: instill in your teenager the love of Allah (swt), His Prophets (as) and His Taqwa. Your child will choose the correct path by himself.

  1. Teach your child the Quran. You would say that every parent does it. What’s so great about this piece of advice? Actually, teach your child the Quran, in terms of the stories and what they signify: the commandments, the recitation and memorization, the meaning and depth of the message, and the philosophy. This will elevate your child’s intellect. He will no longer accept anything at face value, unless he double checks and verifies it against the Quran and the Sunnah. It will inculcate in him Islamic morals, values and manners. Most importantly, your child will look beyond his daily routine and ponder over the reason for his existence, his real aim in life.
  1. Just don’t talk the talk, but walk the walk. The single most important factor is you as a role model. If you lie, your child will know it is acceptable. If you indulge in questionable behaviour, your child will find the door open. One day, my daughter started yelling at her younger sister for not wiping the toilet sink clean after herself. I asked her to calm down. She looked at me and said: “But Mama, you always use that tone.” I was taken aback! Now, we, as a family, have decided to get rid of our habit of yelling at each other. Accept your vices, as we are not perfect, and work on them with your kids. They will learn that life is about continuous striving to please Allah (swt).
  1. Pray for your children. Always, everywhere and in everything they do. We can only guide. Allah (swt) is the One, Who will accept their struggle.

Most Beloved People to Allah – As-Sabireen

indeed-allah-is-with-the-patient

Adapted for Hiba Magazine by Tasneem Vali

“…and many a Prophet (i.e. many from amongst the Prophets) fought (in Allah’s Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah’s way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Imran 146)

“This passage comments on the early events of the Battle of Uĥud up to the point at which the victory which was well within the grasp of the Muslim army turned into defeat.”(In the Shade of the Quran, Vol. 2 p.185). This was the first battle after Badr, and the Muslims felt victory was their destiny in every encounter as they were on the right path. Without making this ayah particular to a nation, Allah tells us that at any point, when faced with trial the true believer remains strong (both emotionally and physically) and patient – their reward is Allah’s love. This Ayah speaks to us in the present also. “It (Allah’s love) helps heal wounds and is accepted as ample and generous compensation for every hardship.”(In the shade…Vol 2, p.199)

To have patience/to be patient is mentioned many times in the Quran – but only once does Allah say He loves the patient ones. Reward for patience and the description of what patience means is mentioned many times, but Allah’s love as a reward for being patient is mentioned only once! This is the highlight; patience is a prerequisite to gain Allah’s love.

 What is patience?

sabr

It is when a believer controls his/her desires when faced with a situation where it is difficult if not impossible to control the Nafs (ego/desire). Every part of a person’s body needs to exercise patience:  the heart – I should not complain or feel unhappy with what is going on (situation), the tongue – not to complain to people (as if complaining about Allah to the slaves of Allah), the limbs – control all my limbs from any kind of action that is displeasing to Allah. For example, to control oneself from being negatively influenced by others– when something painful happens and you are patient, others might provoke you by saying, “Why are you quiet? Go fight for your right.” This leads you away from patience – beware of it.

Characteristics of As-Sabireen

الاستعانة بالصبر و الصلاةThey rely on Allah alone

  • Prayer helps you rely on Allah and be patient

الصدق They are truthful

  • Liars are impatient – they cannot be patient in a situation, so they lie
  • Even during a trial/test, the truthful ones stay patient (accept the situation), they don’t try to change it by lying

التقوى They are pious

  • People who are pious are patient and vice versa
  • They control themselves from everything that is displeasing to Allah or following their own desires
  • They are patient because they know Allah, therefore they love Allah, and fear Allah alone

الغلبة على الأعداء They overcome their enemies

  • They remain strong and firm/steadfast
  • They are both physically and emotionally strong

تجنب المعصيةThey abstain from sins

  • Abstain from sins for the sake of Allah alone

عدم النزاعThey are patient during conflicts/fights

  • It’s easy to get angry/shout/complain/show impatience and fight/argue because of impatience
  • They don’t come near conflicts in order that it might lead to fights– they control themselves in such situations

و في الامر – الدعوة بالمعروف و النهي عن المنكر They are patient when giving Da’wah – enjoining good and forbidding evil

  • Patient when calling people to Islam – especially if the person who they are giving Dawah to is close to them (family, relatives)

الصبر على محبة الدنيا و الرغبة في الآخرة They are patient in this world and yearn for the Hereafter

  • Love of the world and love of the hereafter cannot be in the heart together
  • They are not always busy thinking about material things, money, property or children. They are busy thinking about the Day of Judgment, Sunnah, Quran and Allah’s commands.

الصبر على الأمراض والبلايا They are patient when in sickness or afflictions

  • They don’t complain about their situation/ health

الصبر على الاستهزاء و أذى الناس They are patient when they are mocked at / humiliated

  • When someone is trying to harm them using words or mock, insult, humiliate, make fun of them, they are patient

عدم خطوات الشيطان They are patient when the devil whispers to them

  • They don’t follow in the footsteps of Shaitaan
  • Being patient helps to refrain from falling into the trap of the Shaitaan
  • Being patient about things that are not clearly Haram or Halal. Asking for Allah’s guidance to help decide

When you run towards Allah, towards gaining His pleasure, towards attaining His love, everything in life will come to you easily, but the prerequisite is patience. No matter how much you run or struggle for this life, it will keep slipping away from you! Control your desires, and be patient – Allah will make it easy for you.

Rewards for being among As-Sabireen:

  • The love of Allah – the best of rewards. (Al-Imran 3:146)
  • The companionship of Allah (complete comfort and supporting all aspects of life and the Hereafter) – this is mentioned many times in Quran. Can you hope for a better companion than Allah?
  • Unlimited rewards, there are no bounds to their reward. (Az-Zumar 10)

“O ALLAH! MAKE US FROM AMONG THE PATIENT ONES” – Ameen

Is my Spouse my Best Friend Forever (BFF)?

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Life after marriage can be either a constant tug of war or your spouse can become your best friend forever. Achieving the latter is the key to a healthy, happy and hearty family. Here’s how you can unlock the door to eternal bliss.

Khawar is fifteen years older than his wife Fouzia. He is diabetic, hypertensive, has had a kidney transplant and now cannot work or earn a living to support his family – the entire responsibility is on Fouzia’s shoulders.  Then why does she stay with him and take care of him with a smiling face and a happy heart?

My dad is seventy and has had a bypass surgery. When my mom went on a short trip to another city, my dad called her thrice every day. Heeding to our advice, he did not call her one day, so that she may enjoy unhindered; however, she could not bear not to hear his voice and called him to ask if he was fine, and if not, should she take an earlier flight? Was it simply her responsibility that fuelled her concern?

In the above-mentioned relationships, it was the strengthened bond of love, care and communication that compelled the spouses to be concerned for each other. Apart from being a couple, they had always been each others’ best buddies. How can a couple become BFF? The answer lies in the three verses that are recited as part of the Nikah ceremony:

“O You who believe! Fear Allah (by doing All that He has ordered and by abstaining from All that He has forbidden) as He should be feared…” (Al-Imran 3:102)

“…fear Allah through whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship)…” (An-Nisa 4:1)

“O You who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth…” (Al-Ahzab 33:70)

According to these verses, the basis of any relationship is God-consciousness, which compels one to avoid anything that displeases Allah (swt) and work towards creating a feeling of mutual respect, trust and honest communication among the spouses – the building blocks to lifelong friendship. To achieve this, it is imperative for both spouses to:

  • Develop frank communication.
  • Not be judgmental – listen and offer sincere advice. Sometimes, just listen.
  • Respect and support the decisions of your spouse and their consequences.
  • Define roles and give each other time and space.
  • Rearing children should be a joint endeavour.
  • Grow together in faith.
  • Remember that fights are normal but forgive and forget quickly.
  • Be loyal as true friends – always stand up for each other, against all odds.
  • Intimacy is an essential part of any marriage. Dress up for each other and do something out of the ordinary once in a while to surprise your best friend.
  • Finally, accept each other as BFF and make nurturing this relationship a priority through all odds.

I have been happily married to my BFF for seventeen years, and our secret is laughing at ourselves, making up quickly after a fight, and working towards paradise together. Alhumdulillah.

I have a right to…

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” (Tahrim 66:6)

This Ayah should be engraved into the minds of every person who is fortunate enough to have kids. Kids are a trust given to us by the Almighty (swt) and we have been given certain instructions about how to discharge that trust. Parents are not only responsible for giving their child the best education money can buy, they must back it up with setting an example that exemplifies correct moral, social and economic responsibility and behaviour. The true value of struggling to give your child a true Islamic based upbringing is demonstrated in the following Hadeeth:

“Upon death, man’s deeds will (definitely) stop except for three deeds…pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously prays to Allah, the Almighty, for the soul of his parents.” (Muslim)

Islam recognizes the family as a basic social unit, says Dr. Arshed. Thus, the parent-child relationship is one of the most important relationships in Islam, and as in any relationship, both parties must have some rights and obligations to maintain it.

According to a famous religious university in Pakistan Jamiah Binoria, our children have the following rights:

Protection of the Lineage

This single fact encompasses most social obligations parents have towards a child. Unless you are certain that a child belongs to you, a person is not motivated to provide for the child’s well-being. One is not inspired to raise the child up properly, grant him the best education or make her welfare one’s concern. The right to be fed, clothed and protected until maturity as well as the right to be groomed mentally, and morally, and to be molded to develop a pleasing personality all rest on the fact that the child concerned belongs to you.

The Prohibition of Denying Paternity

No explanation is really required here; the parent simply cannot deny a child belongs to him/her.

The Prohibition of Legal Adoption (Surah Ahzab 33:37-40)

Harsh as it sounds, this does not mean a Muslim family cannot look after and raise a child that is not biologically theirs. The restriction is that the child, male in particular, cannot carry the family name. He does not have any of the legal rights granted to biological children including a share in the inheritance. We find proof of this in the Prophet’s (sa) life in the case of Zayd bin Haritha (rtam).

Adopting a Child to Rear and to Educate

Islam does not limit knowledge to the kind gained by reading books, but includes moral and religious guidance also. It means the healthy rounded growth of child’s personality. Providing funding does not cut it. Parents must assist during homework and other activities. Parents should sacrifice their own comfort and social activities to take interest in children’s studies as well as grooming religious, moral and ethical habits into the child.

Artificial Insemination

Islam prohibits artificial insemination if the donor of the semen is not the husband. This is done in order to protect the family unit. Using semen from a man other than the husband amounts to adultery.

Attributing the Child to a Man Other Than the Child’s Father

Just as Islam prohibits a father to deny his paternity of his own child without a justifiable reason, it likewise forbids the child to claim a lineage other than his own.

“And kill not your children…” (Al-Isra 7:31)

With so many safeguards to the lineage, Islam strictly prohibits abortion, due to any reason other than a fatal risk to the mother’s life. Simply put, the child has a right to live. The child also has the right to a name that symbolizes that she is a Muslim.

Equal Treatment of Children

In Al-Mughni, vol. 5, p. 605, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal states that special treatment of a child is permissible due to a need, a handicap, blindness, etc. However, the Prophet (sa) denied bearing witness to a transaction where only one child was being given wealth (Muslim). Equality and fairness, is the essence of rearing children.

Observing the Limits of Allah (swt) Regarding Inheritance

It is not permissible for a father/mother to deny their biological children a rightful share in the inheritance.

Not only are we Muslims living in an Islamic country and should spearhead the cause for children’s rights, but Pakistan is also a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Let us fulfill our obligations to Allah, and validate the oath we have taken. Ameen.

While writing this article, one question kept nagging my mind, why are parents’ rights mentioned in the Quran, but not children’s. Allah (swt) even intercedes when Luqman is giving advice to his son, on behalf of parents. Then it struck me, children’s rights are an instinct, they are an intrinsic quality within us. We need no guidance for it, no prodding to love our children. Allah in His sublime wisdom has instilled so much tenderness in parents’ hearts there is no need to verbally reinforce it. Subhan’Allah.

Anger Shrugged

Vol 4-Issue 1 Anger Management

A recent incident was all over the media, featuring anti-Islam ads that were posted all over the NY city subway system (trains and stations). How did Muslims counter it? One Muslim spray painted over ONE ad, which caused considerable publicity and awareness. A consortium of rabbis and priests paid for ‘love Muslims’ ads, which caused controversy and awareness. But, there was no collective move to inform, educate, and enlighten the masses that originated from Muslims themselves – inaction was our consensus and resulted in unaware masses.

Writes Ziauddin Sardar in The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought: “At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the Muslim world finds itself in a state of total helplessness and uncertainty, marginalized, suppressed, angry, and frustrated. While a great deal has changed in the last hundred years, little has changed in terms of power politics. …the condition of the Muslim people – the ummah – its subjugation by the West, poverty and dependence, engendered a mood of despondency… most Muslim countries had gained their independence only to discover, after a couple of decades of development and Westernization, that economically and politically they were still the subjects of the West.”

Herein lies our problem, when we feel anger that is misdirected and helplessness. Surah Anfal tells us:

“That is so because Allah (swt) will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. And verily, Allah (swt) is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Al-Anfal 8:53)

We need to primarily accept Islam as our Deen (our way of life), not just our religion.

Learned Helplessness occurs when someone is repeatedly subjected to an aversive stimulus and cannot escape. Eventually, the person will stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if she is utterly helpless to change the situation. Even when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness will prevent any action.[2] The anger we feel is due to the injustice we see around us. We feel it isn’t fair. How to deal with it successfully? To be those who Allah (swt) says will be among the Muflihoon (those who achieve success).

  1. Accept that only Allah (swt) can change people. We should put our energy into praying for the victims and asking Allah (swt) to guide the offender toward Islam. Surah Nur says: “Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he (Messenger Muhammad) is only responsible for the duty placed on him (i.e. to convey Allah’s message) and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to convey (the message) in a clear way (i.e. to preach in a plain way).” (An-Nur 24:54) Our duty is to convey the message, and enjoin good and forbid evil. We cannot and should not strive to do anything beyond what Allah (swt) has ordained for us. It is only when we mistakenly feel we can change the world, that we feel anger and helplessness.
  2. Misdirected self-sympathy causes us to feel we are helpless. The attitude, “what can one person do/how long will this take?” is not acceptable. Remember, little drops make the mighty ocean. Take charge! Do what you can to make people aware of the situation. Write and blog; speak on the radio; hold gatherings in your house; change your Facebook status, or compose a tweet. Whatever it takes, get others aware and care. “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” (Ale-Imran 3:104)
  3. Enlighten and educate yourself and others. Understand the situation. How does it affect Islam and what appropriate action needs to be taken? The Prophet (sa) has guided us in the following Hadeeth: On the authority of Abu Saeed (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever sees something evil should change it with his hand. If he cannot, then (he should do so) with his tongue. If he cannot do even that, then (he should do so) in his heart. That is the weakest degree of faith.” (Muslim) Decide if you can only inform other people (write to the newspaper/blog, get it on the electronic media, etc…), get a group together and take action (organize a protest, give a Dars, etc…) or change policies (get the law revised, appeal to the court etc…). Do not just say what is wrong but offer a solution based on Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence).
  4. Lay the blame where it is due: Do not confuse blame and responsibility. For example when the infamous cartoons were published, Muslims blamed the West. Focus on who is really to blame, the newspaper for publishing it, the Danish government, the press in Denmark? Who? Narrow it down, pinpoint and then concentrate your efforts toward that direction.
  5. Angry Muslims! Abu Hurayrah relates that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Counsel me.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request many times, but the Prophet (sa) kept saying: “Do not get angry.” (Bukhari) If you’ve played Angry Birds on your smart phone you know exactly what anger does. According to muslimmedicine.net: “How painfully ironic, that after the Danish cartoon controversy we once again chose to answer the ignorance, anger and hatred of others with even greater bouts of our own hatred and anger.” In the process we destroyed private property, laid waste the country’s economy for days and proved that we truly are the ignorant backward people we are painted as being. Islam tells us to be patient, calm and use logic to prove our point. Blind rage will get you nowhere; it will only serve to amuse the enemy. Exercise forbearance, follow Sunnah – the Prophet (sa) never reacted as he was always proactive.
  6. Learn from the past, and work in the present for the future. Past Muslim glory 500 years ago means nothing to the present superpowers. We need to study it to learn lessons where we went wrong and not make the same mistakes again. Do not use it as nostalgia and live in the past. And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.” (Al-Anfal 8:60) Be ready, and also be educated, enlightened, persuasive, technologically capable and effective.

Anger and helplessness are two emotions that we must bring under our control, not vice versa. Be smart and live well. Ameen.

Culturally Yours

culturally yours

By Tasneem Vali – Architect, Academic Coordinator and Freelance Writer and Umm Amal – Freelance Writer

Wikipedia defines ‘cultural Muslims’ as being religiously unobservant: “People who identify themselves with the Muslim culture, because of family background, personal experiences or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up.” They are born into a Muslim household, but do not tread the path of self-discovery. The world is alluring to them, and they think it is not worth their while to explore why they are Muslims.

“O You who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan). Verily! He is to You a plain enemy.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208) Allah (swt) commands that we commit ourselves totally to the way of life that Islam preaches. It does not allow us to deliberately reject an aspect of Islam, because we think it is outdated or rigid, only to accept another part we like and think is easy to practice. Entering Islam absolutely means that we have to follow its teachings without any exceptions and without any reservations.

The culture of Islam is universal. It means if adultery is a sin in Afghanistan, it is a sin in Germany, too. If gambling is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, it is prohibited also in Las Vegas. On the Day of Judgement, all people will be judged by the same standards. There won’t be a separate code of conduct for Muslims and non-Muslims. But Allah (swt) also celebrates diversity in many ways. For example, we all look different, speak in various languages, and possess unique abilities. Muslims all across the globe fast for 29-30 days but may enjoy their Iftar with Samosas or Hareesa or pancakes, etc. All are Halal and culturally relevant to Muslims belonging to different parts of the world. Where they unite is when they all pick up dates first at the call of the Adhan to follow the Sunnah to break their fast. This is the best amalgamation of Islam’s universal culture and a Muslim’s indigenous roots.

Similarly, Allah (swt) says: “O You who believe, eat of the lawful things that we have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172) In this verse, we receive an important guideline about our sources of income: We must ensure our source of income is Halal (permissible) and blessed and it does not come from a prohibited (Haram) source. Thus, if we think as cultural slaves that an income earned through Haram activities, which might make a person wealthy and famous, is acceptable, we need to remind ourselves that the line between Haram and Halal is clear. There is no concept of Robin Hood in Islam; the end does not justify the means.

A trendy practice for show business stars is to thank and praise Allah (swt), and hold Him responsible for their successes, glory and honourable standing in society! Experience and common sense tells us that the lifestyle of entertainment contradicts most of the Quran and the Sunnah, in terms of illicit relations, drinking, shameless talk and attire. These are the signs of the transgressors, not those of the true believers.

Nevertheless, the road to Allah (swt) remains open: “And (commanding you): ‘Seek the forgiveness of Your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant You good enjoyment…” (Hud 11:3).

We have been invited to move from the darkness into the light. There are numerous examples of people giving up a disbelieving lifestyle for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. We have the examples of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) and Junaid Jamshed, the owner of a clothing line and in the process, a trendsetter in his own right. When he advertised his clothing line, he did not use models; a year later, other fashion houses emulated his concept. The latest ‘cultural Muslim’ coming of age is Shiraz Uppal, who tweeted, “There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in the way your Creator wants it to be spent.”

If we admire any celebrity or icon, we can email or send them inspirational and informative write-ups as soft Dawah. Who knows? Maybe they have never had a conducive environment or access to the truth, and we become their means to salvation. Allah (swt) always has a way out. We must recognize that we have a serious crisis of self-esteem and should use Islam to improve our understanding of the ‘approved’ way of life. It is crucial that we enshroud ourselves with Islam, step out of the cultural enslavement, and become one of those who submit to Allah (swt).

“[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (religion) of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allah’s? And we are His worshippers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:138)

Why Zabeeha? Is There a Choice?

zabeeha

By Fahmida Abdul Sattar (IR Analyst) and Tasneem Vali (Architect, Academic Coordinator and Freelance Writer)

“Is this burger Halal?”

“Of course, it is beef!”

“No, I mean to say is it Zabeeha?”

“What is that? Allah (swt) has allowed us to eat beef, right?”

“Alhumdulillah, we are allowed to eat and drink everything, other than those that fall into the category mentioned in Surah Al-Ma’idah, verse 3.”

“Oh! And what is that, can you explain?”

Forbidden to You (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals – cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah, or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., or on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

The concept that chicken, beef, mutton and all types of meat ‘allowed’ in Islam are permissible (Halal) is erroneous. There is a simple clause, in the verse quoted above, about how that animal MUST be slaughtered.

The next logical question is: why this way and is it harmful to the animal? Most non-Muslims think this is a barbaric way of killing an animal in order to consume it. However, modern science and common sense proves the rationality of this approach. It is also harmless for the animal, which is treated with respect as per the Prophet’s (sa) Hadeeth: “Verily, Allah, has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Muslim)

Science also proves that a swift incision at the throat causes severance of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Hence, the animal immediately loses consciousness and sensation. Therefore, Zabeeha is the most painless method of slaughtering an animal, as it feels no pain after its jugular vein is cut swiftly. Moreover, the Islamic method promotes that the animal should be well-fed and relaxed prior to slaughtering. Amazingly, the condition that another animal shall not witness the slaughter is also mentioned.

In most of the slaughterhouses today, captive bolt stunning method is widely used, which is considered to be the most painful method. It causes no loss of consciousness and the animal feels a great deal of pain while being slaughtered. The animal loses consciousness due to extreme pain!

The second reason Zabeeha is the preferred humane method is that it causes swift draining of bacteria-hormone-carrying blood away from the body. The heart pumps longer, which is the sign of healthy and hygienic meat, whereas in captive bolt stunning, blood does not flow out rapidly – it settles in some body parts, as the heart’s pumping is affected after the spinal cord is severed. It must be kept in mind that, while slaughtering the animal according to Zabeeha rules, the cut should not be so deep that it severs the spinal cord or head.

Ultimately, for hygienic and healthy meat, Western countries are resorting to ritual slaughtering in the way of Islam. However, they do not pronounce Allah’s (swt) name and so are deprived of the blessings that are brought by one’s invocation to Allah.

9/11 – More Than a Decade Later

decade

The Past: Soon after the September 11, 2011 tragedy

By Tasneem Vali, Chicago

I was working at Children’s Memorial Hospital in an elite part of Chicago. A bunch of us would frequent several places for lunch. Our favorite was a Greek restaurant – excellent salads and ambience – that is, until 9/11. The week after that cataclysmic event, Margie and I went to lunch and a customer said: “Go back to where you came from.”

 

Even worse than the hurtful comment was the fact that the proprietor, ‘a friend’, didn’t even bat an eyelid. We left, never to return. That left a scar. I decided I would ‘look’ Muslim and started wearing the Hijab. Maybe this was Allah’s (swt) way to make me realize that my education and other privileges have given me a responsibility. I must be a totem for Muslim women everywhere. The way I behave ‘does’ impact what people think of Islam – it is my responsibility to educate myself and make Islam my Deen.

 

Amir Reza has a similar story. The son of Iranian parents who migrated to the U.S. just before the Islamic Revolution, Amir and his siblings were born and raised in Central California in a small, agriculturally-dominated town. He believes 9/11 impacted him when he was at college.

 

“I felt I had to be an advocate for the Muslims when people jokingly used the word ‘terrorist’,” Reza said: “I had to be ready with accurate answers and not let such comments slide.

 

“Another way in which 9/11affected me was during travel. Ironically, I grew a large beard in college, so getting through any airport was a challenge. It felt like for two years, I was always pulled out of line to be searched individually or asked a few more questions than most. But, once they heard me speak, they would lose interest and let me go. However, it was interesting to watch my dad (notoriously paranoid) become worried going through security lines. He would say: ‘With a name like Ali Reza, who knows what they could do.’ I would tell him, that this is no reason for them to do anything – and, of course, we have nothing to hide.”

 

The Present: Life in America Today

 

By J. Samia Mair, Maryland

 

Unfortunately, more than a decade later, Muslims in America face the same kind of fear, misconceptions and prejudice that they had experienced shortly after 9/11. In some ways, it is worse. For example, it has become politically acceptable, even advantageous, for some politicians to make openly prejudicial statements about Islam and the Muslims. A one-time candidate and frontrunner for the 2012 Presidential election said on several occasions that he would not hire Muslims in his administration. Another frontrunner, known for his anti-Muslim statements, described Palestinians as an “invented” people and “terrorists.”

 

Corporate actions concerned with profits also provide a glimpse into the public psyche. Lowe’s, a national home improvement store, recently pulled its advertising for a reality show on American Muslims, because the founder and sole employee of a fringe organization faulted the show for portraying Muslims as ordinary Americans, not terrorists.

 

But the most disturbing and potentially far-reaching impact of 9/11 on Muslims are the new laws that have been adopted to counter terrorism, such as the USA Patriot Act and the recent National Defense Authorization Act, which, among other things, allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism and the transfer of US citizens to foreign authorities, a process known as rendition. So, what we have now is an intrusive and anti-democratic legal system in place that can be utilized against Muslims at any time. What would it take to trigger these measures? Many believe that another attack like 9/11 would do it.

 

In some ways, though, conditions for Muslims have improved since 9/11. People have returned to their daily lives and most do not live fearing an imminent terrorist attack. Many non-Muslims have defended Islam and the rights of Muslims. More people are learning about Islam, and Muslims across the country are speaking out, spreading the truth about our Deen. It is an exciting yet uncertain time for American Muslims. We face both challenges and opportunities. And we have learned over the past decade that we cannot sit idly by and hope for justice and sanity to prevail.

 

The Future: Beyond Those Three Digits

 

By Kiran Ansari, Chicago

 

What happened nearly eleven years ago was a tragedy in every sense of the word. Amid the grief and devastation felt by the American people, Muslims worldwide were also adversely affected in one way or the other. From visa issues and airport security to deportation, arrests and hate crimes, everyone has a story to tell.

 

However, it is time to move on. We cannot remain apologetic for something that we had nothing to do with. American Muslims, in fact, Muslims everywhere around the world need to take an active part in the community, so the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is blurred without any compromise in our beliefs. From volunteering at your child’s school and visiting a sick neighbour to running for public office, if we plan on living in the United States, we have to be involved. As the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, said: “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.”

 

If we think that we have it hard, reading a few pages of the Seerah will show us that our trials are nothing in comparison to what the early Muslims had to go through.

 

Some of us may be parents of U.S. citizens; others may send their kids off to college or vacation in America. So, whether we like it or not, America does play a role in the lives of millions across the globe. We cannot change the past, but it is in our power to mould the future. We cannot change the perceptions of every Islamophobe, but we can at least do our part in changing the way our co-workers, friends and neighbours think of Muslims.

 

“They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:134)

 

As Muslims in America and elsewhere, we cannot risk being lost in a melting pot, where everything simmers into one sauce. We have to be proud of our identity like ingredients in a salad. Even when ‘tossed’ in adversity, each and every one of us should work together while retaining our unique taste, texture and colour.

 

The Past: Soon after the September 11, 2011 tragedy

By Tasneem Vali, Chicago

I was working at Children’s Memorial Hospital in an elite part of Chicago. A bunch of us would frequent several places for lunch. Our favorite was a Greek restaurant – excellent salads and ambience – that is, until 9/11. The week after that cataclysmic event, Margie and I went to lunch and a customer said: “Go back to where you came from.”

Even worse than the hurtful comment was the fact that the proprietor, ‘a friend’, didn’t even bat an eyelid. We left, never to return. That left a scar. I decided I would ‘look’ Muslim and started wearing the Hijab. Maybe this was Allah’s (swt) way to make me realize that my education and other privileges have given me a responsibility. I must be a totem for Muslim women everywhere. The way I behave ‘does’ impact what people think of Islam – it is my responsibility to educate myself and make Islam my Deen.

Amir Reza has a similar story. The son of Iranian parents who migrated to the U.S. just before the Islamic Revolution, Amir and his siblings were born and raised in Central California in a small, agriculturally-dominated town. He believes 9/11 impacted him when he was at college.

“I felt I had to be an advocate for the Muslims when people jokingly used the word ‘terrorist’,” Reza said: “I had to be ready with accurate answers and not let such comments slide.

“Another way in which 9/11affected me was during travel. Ironically, I grew a large beard in college, so getting through any airport was a challenge. It felt like for two years, I was always pulled out of line to be searched individually or asked a few more questions than most. But, once they heard me speak, they would lose interest and let me go. However, it was interesting to watch my dad (notoriously paranoid) become worried going through security lines. He would say: ‘With a name like Ali Reza, who knows what they could do.’ I would tell him, that this is no reason for them to do anything – and, of course, we have nothing to hide.”

The Present: Life in America Today

By J. Samia Mair, Maryland

Unfortunately, more than a decade later, Muslims in America face the same kind of fear, misconceptions and prejudice that they had experienced shortly after 9/11. In some ways, it is worse. For example, it has become politically acceptable, even advantageous, for some politicians to make openly prejudicial statements about Islam and the Muslims. A one-time candidate and frontrunner for the 2012 Presidential election said on several occasions that he would not hire Muslims in his administration. Another frontrunner, known for his anti-Muslim statements, described Palestinians as an “invented” people and “terrorists.”

Corporate actions concerned with profits also provide a glimpse into the public psyche. Lowe’s, a national home improvement store, recently pulled its advertising for a reality show on American Muslims, because the founder and sole employee of a fringe organization faulted the show for portraying Muslims as ordinary Americans, not terrorists.

But the most disturbing and potentially far-reaching impact of 9/11 on Muslims are the new laws that have been adopted to counter terrorism, such as the USA Patriot Act and the recent National Defense Authorization Act, which, among other things, allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism and the transfer of US citizens to foreign authorities, a process known as rendition. So, what we have now is an intrusive and anti-democratic legal system in place that can be utilized against Muslims at any time. What would it take to trigger these measures? Many believe that another attack like 9/11 would do it.

In some ways, though, conditions for Muslims have improved since 9/11. People have returned to their daily lives and most do not live fearing an imminent terrorist attack. Many non-Muslims have defended Islam and the rights of Muslims. More people are learning about Islam, and Muslims across the country are speaking out, spreading the truth about our Deen. It is an exciting yet uncertain time for American Muslims. We face both challenges and opportunities. And we have learned over the past decade that we cannot sit idly by and hope for justice and sanity to prevail.

The Future: Beyond Those Three Digits

By Kiran Ansari, Chicago

What happened nearly eleven years ago was a tragedy in every sense of the word. Amid the grief and devastation felt by the American people, Muslims worldwide were also adversely affected in one way or the other. From visa issues and airport security to deportation, arrests and hate crimes, everyone has a story to tell.

However, it is time to move on. We cannot remain apologetic for something that we had nothing to do with. American Muslims, in fact, Muslims everywhere around the world need to take an active part in the community, so the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is blurred without any compromise in our beliefs. From volunteering at your child’s school and visiting a sick neighbour to running for public office, if we plan on living in the United States, we have to be involved. As the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, said: “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.”

If we think that we have it hard, reading a few pages of the Seerah will show us that our trials are nothing in comparison to what the early Muslims had to go through.

Some of us may be parents of U.S. citizens; others may send their kids off to college or vacation in America. So, whether we like it or not, America does play a role in the lives of millions across the globe. We cannot change the past, but it is in our power to mould the future. We cannot change the perceptions of every Islamophobe, but we can at least do our part in changing the way our co-workers, friends and neighbours think of Muslims.

“They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:134)

As Muslims in America and elsewhere, we cannot risk being lost in a melting pot, where everything simmers into one sauce. We have to be proud of our identity like ingredients in a salad. Even when ‘tossed’ in adversity, each and every one of us should work together while retaining our unique taste, texture and colour.

Hope After 9/11 – Globally

By Fiza Fatima Asar

London-based social media marketer for the non-profit sector

Every year, my friend and I put up flyers before Ramadan, inviting others in our college in California to join us for Iftar. We hoped and expected to be contacted by Muslim girls excited at the opportunity of breaking their fasts with other Muslims. Instead, who we found were perhaps far more special – a Japanese student who decided it was crucial for her to learn Arabic in order to understand the Quran better (she later transferred to Al-Azhar to follow her aspirations), and a young seventeen–year-old Mexican girl, who had been hiding her desire to convert to Islam from her parents for three years and wanted to keep her first fast with us.

At a time post 9/11, when Islam was under intense scrutiny throughout the world and especially in the West, it was heart-warming yet mind-boggling how it still attracted young women with such vigour. Adding to the paradox, as political Islamophobia radically increased in Europe, Islam continued to be the fastest growing religion in the same region. Racist nationalistic governments or political parties in countries like France, Norway and Switzerland initiated steps to remove Islamic “symbols”. Niqab was officially banned in France and they wanted to eliminate Halal food options in school canteens. But these steps across a range of countries have not been able to halt the interest towards Islam. In fact, it keeps bouncing back with more intensity. It was no less than a miracle that Daniel Streich, the man responsible for initiating the successful campaign for banning minarets in Switzerland, not only converted to Islam but vowed to make the biggest, most beautiful mosque in Europe to counter his past hatred for the religion.

However, the most interesting aspect of the conversions to Islam is that although the West accuses Islam of suppressing women’s liberties, a large proportion of those embracing Islam happen to be Western women. Camilla Leyland, a 32-year-old single mother embraced Islam in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’. She explains: “I know people will be surprised to hear the words ‘feminism’ and ‘Islam’ in the same breath, but, in fact, the teachings of the Quran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.”

A new study by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters suggests that the real figure of conversions to Islam in the UK alone could be as high as 100,000 with as many as 5000 conversions in one year alone. The same study suggested that the conversion rate was more in females, and that the average age of converts was twenty-seven. Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, admitted that this report was the best intellectual “guesstimate” but added that “either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years.”

Mughal attributed this increase in converts to the prominence of Islam in the public domain and the subsequent public curiosity it provoked. Batool Al-Toma, a 25-year-old Irish born convert to Islam, agrees: “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years. The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves.” Islam’s latest convert that surprised the UK was Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth. Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, recalls the day she decided to become a Muslim: “It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.”

Another celebrity convert, London-based Kristiane Backer, is a former MTV presenter. Kristiane says: “In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system. Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realized how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one God makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.”

According to Kevin Brice from ­Swansea University, who carried this research out for Faith Matters, the female converts to Islam, “seek spirituality, a higher meaning and tend to be deep thinkers.” The depth of their thought rings true to me. Yuki had told me that when her sister committed suicide for no apparent reason in Japan, it provoked her family to seek the meaning of life, which is what led her to Islam. Her parents were ecstatic that she had found an answer. My much younger Mexican friend bewildered me with her very deep paintings, depicting souls in trouble seeking peace and light in the midst of trouble.

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey (“From MTV to Mecca”), believes that women who were born Muslims became disillusioned and rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against but the culture. The treasures of the true Islam lead so many to embrace it, despite the steps taken to demoralize its followers and mar the faith. It’s a jewel that those born in Islam perhaps take for granted. The image that can never leave my mind is when my young friend in California took out a beautiful wooden box from her drawer to show me, where she cherishingly saved her most price-less possessions: “Her book on how to pray Salah, her silk scarf and her Quran.”

Pity The Nation

pity the nation

Pity the Nation…

By Khalil Gibran

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave,
eats a bread it does not harvest,…
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.

In 1998, an event in Pakistan drew elation across the Muslim world – we became the first and only Muslim nuclear power, Alhumdulillah. We, the vanguard of the Islamic Ummah, delivered the latest WMD (weapon of mass destruction) now in Muslim hands. After all, Allah (swt) has commanded us: “And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know…” (Al-Anfal, 8:60)

Armed with the latest technology, Pakistan was all set before 9/11 to take its rightful place in the comity of nations; it had earned their honour and respect. Two major world conflicts had been on Pakistan’s agenda since its creation and remained to that fateful day: Palestine and Kashmir. Both involved Muslims in the ‘little guy’ position, and both had the financial, political and social support of the people of Pakistan.

The Soviet-Afghan War was another crucial political stance that Pakistan chose to back. It supervised the entire war, aiding the winning Afghans, and in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR and its withdrawal, influenced the political landscape that resulted in the Taliban gaining power in Afghanistan. Pakistan now had a protected western border.

Iran, Pakistan’s other important Muslim neighbour, received undoubting support during the Gulf War (Iran/Iraq in the 1980s), eventually winning against the Saddam regime.

Thus, contrary to the CFR’s report (Council on Foreign Relations) which states “that Pakistan used to be a world pariah: censured and sanctioned for its nuclear ambitions”, Pakistan’s geographic location enabled it to provide a leading voice and play a decisive role in major international issues.

Post 9/11, Pakistan was offered a choice, a dichotomous choice – to consider only two alternatives when, in fact, there were additional options (shades of grey between the extremes). An incorrect logic (fallacy) was used in an attempt to force a choice: “If you are not with us, you are against us.”

One man, the then all-powerful General Musharraf, decided to make the biggest U-turn any country has ever made in its history, regarding its foreign policy. He ‘volunteered’ Pakistan in the US’s ‘War on Terror’, initially for a paltry $ 4.2 billion (approx. $26 per person). This quickly turned into a ‘War of Terror’ for Pakistan.

Taking up arms in Islam can be classified into three categories:

  • Self-defence: where the individual is authorized to take action to protect himself.
  • Retaliation: this involves the state. An individual cannot retaliate, or else you will have people killing each other at will, resulting in chaos.
  • Pre-emptive violence: this also involves the state. The when-a-country-hasn’t-done-anything-yet-but-might-do-something-in-the-future-so-we-should-go-after-it-now stance.

It suffices to say that none of the above applied to Pakistan, when it decided to enter the ‘War on Terror’. Being on the invading side against former friends that Pakistan had helped meant abandoning all its previous policies, resulting in the loss of Pakistan’s world stature and respect. More importantly, Pakistan had no religious, legal or any other type of reason to become a party in this war.

What has Pakistan lost? Politically, it lost its allies, its integrity in the international arena and became infamous for having a corrupt government and being a creator of terrorists and terrorism. Economically, it has lost $ 2 trillion, and experienced an inflation rise of 300%. Loss of human life stands at several tens of thousands. Drone attacks have wreaked havoc in the tribal belt, traditionally Pakistan’s line of defense on the western front. But these are merely facts and figures.

Pity the nation that has lost its youth to senseless pursuits, where the price of bread is ten times more than the SMS package offered by cellular phone companies – targeting the teens and tweens of Pakistan.

Pity the nation that has lost its voice of morality in the pandemonium of clinking coins, where the concept that ‘might is right’ prevails and the common man has no hope for justice, or the time to pursue it due to the rising living expenses.

Pity the nation that has betrayed its citizens in exchange for friendship with the bully, where the government trades its citizens to please the tyrant and buries its head in the sand when the common man asks for justice, for instance, drone attacks, the Raymond Davis case.

Lord Macaulay, in his 1835 address to the British parliament said: “Do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage…for if the Indians (prior to partition) think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem…and they will become what we want them: a truly dominated nation.”

Pity the nation that will not understand, that will not teach its children and youth its history, and that will not admonish its young when they belittle all that is theirs in favour of all that is foreign.

Pity the nation that has lost its identity; we love our country from afar. Let someone else suffer the suicide bombings, drone attacks, etc. Acquire money and travel to greener pastures. Pakistan has seen a mass exodus of qualified people, while the country needs these people in order to progress.

However, there is hope, for Allah (swt) says: “O You who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse, indeed we have made plain to you the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand.” (Al-Imran, 3:118)

All is not lost, only if we understand and act. We have the technology; we must educate and focus on our youth. Life after 9/11 in Pakistan is not a struggle; it is a focused move ahead towards a common goal – to revive Pakistan’s economy, education and moral status internationality, to reverse the ‘brain drain’ and to trust the ultimate design that Allah (swt) has for us. Ameen.

Box Feature

Are you contributing towards the positive in Pakistan, a decade after 9/11?

  • Are you trying to encourage unity among yourselves, regardless of what you want and what you do (in terms of age group, profession, etc.)?
  • Are you endorsing merit and justice in your own capacity?
  • Are you buying Pakistani products to help the local economy?
  • Are you curbing wastage?
  • Are you putting on hold an extravagant lifestyle?
  • Are you educating yourself and others about Islam, and the responsibilities that come with it?
  • Are you discouraging foreign cultural invasion?
  • Are you setting a personal example for youth and children?
  • Are you refraining from patronizing incompetent people based on ethnicity?
  • Are you boycotting corrupt politicians and their parties?

Box Feature 2

Positive trends in Pakistan post 9/11

  • Masajid are thriving in great numbers.
  • Muslim lifestyle publications have penetrated the market.
  • There are a myriad of workshops on Islamic guidance and counselling.
  • Schools have been established with integrated curriculum (Deen+Duniya).
  • An Islamic financial system is in place.
  • There is a more conscious endorsement of the Shariah dress code.
  • More individuals at all levels are coming forward to found and fund welfare organizations
  • Pakistan is the leading Muslim country to pay Zakah.
  • Pakistanis are realizing their identity as a Muslim.

In a nutshell, Islam is returning to the Muslims. Yes, Pakistanis are not perfect. We need to work harder, and with more competence and cooperation. However, there is great hope. We should not feel dejected and give into maligning and mud-slinging. Self-criticism should be aimed towards improvement and not disappointment and pessimism.

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Qanat

roadblocks

By Tasneem Vali – Architect, freelance writer and Academic Coordinator

Dawn is that part of the day when you notice the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. Allah (swt) in His all encompassing Wisdom tells us: “(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, And enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89:27-30)

The believer’s soul is at peace with its Lord, certain of its way, confident of its fate. It is a soul which is satisfied with all eventualities: happiness or affliction, wealth or poverty.

Our dilemma is that we have no idea how to be the soul that is ‘in complete rest and satisfaction’. The answer is simple and logical. We need a wake-up call from our worries about money, jobs, kids and family; in fact, all the things that tie us to this world obstruct us from attaining true contentment.

There are four simple rules for bringing back contentment into our lives and overcoming any roadblocks to Qanat (being content with what you have):

(1) Free your heart from hatred

The Prophet (sa) said: “By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you submit. You will not submit until you love one another. Greet each other with peace and you will love one another. Beware of hatred, for it is the razor. I do not say it shaves hair, but it shaves away the religion.” (Bukhari) It’s as simple as that – submit yourself to Allah (swt).

(2) Free your mind from worries

Only Allah (swt) knows the precise moment, when we will take our final breath on this earth. “And no person can ever die except by Allah’s Leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in (this) world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.” (Al-Imran 3:145)

Part of our belief in Allah (swt) requires us to have absolute certainty about Qadr, so why worry? We will get only what Allah (swt) has predetermined for us – just work hard to please Allah (swt).

(3) Live simply (Zuhud – abstinence from the greed of this world)

Abul-Abbas as-Saidi said: “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Guide me to such an action, that when I do it, Allah will love me and the people will love me.’ He said: ‘Be detached from this world, and Allah will love you, and do not be attracted to what people have, and the people will love you.’” (Ibn Majah)

(4) Give more and expect less

Give freely of what you have – time, money, knowledge and energy – but expect a return only from Allah (swt). This world is not designed to be the venue for final judgements; accept Allah’s (swt) wisdom and defer to His logic and commands.

Getting rid of the roadblocks to Qanat is your decision. Are you going to get up each morning submitting to Allah (swt) or are you going to sulk in bed, mulling over all your worries? Use each day wisely and hoard good deeds for the Hereafter.

“Yes, we can!”

Yes We Can

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Barrack Obama was criticized for the simplicity of his message: “Yes, we can.” I feel that this is the best and the simplest message a leader can transmit for training and developing an effective and efficient team.

In order for a team to be valuable and competent, we need to analyze the role of the leader, and how a leader guides or coaches the team. We need look no further than Surah Kahf and the example of Dhul Qarnain. Ayaat 83 – 98 of this Surah clearly demonstrate, how a leader should behave for inculcating the following in the team:

  • trust,
  • keenness to achieve results,
  • discipline,
  • effective communication,
  • clear work objectives,
  • ongoing learning.

Let’s analyze these objectives one Ayah at a time.

When Allah (swt) says: “Verily, we established Him in the earth, and we gave Him the means of everything” (Al-Kahf 18:84),it clearly indicates that a person is chosen for leadership, he cannot nominate himself for it. A team must trust that their leader has not forcibly or deceptively gained the position. The second part of the Ayah brings to light that a leader must have the appropriate abilities and knowledge required to lead a team successfully. He must have the ‘means’ and the ‘know how’. The foremost aspect of training team is to make them believe that you have the proficiency to lead them forward.

With words “so he followed a way”, Ayah 85 denotes that a leader must be a guide. He must set a direction for his team to follow. A team keen to achieve results must be given a specific goal and also shown a path to follow for achieving that goal. Training the team to follow this path by default implies that the leader must not only follow that path as well, but must be at the forefront, leading the team down that path.

Ayahs 87 – 88 tell us that a leader must maintain discipline in his ranks: “He said: ‘As for Him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish him; and then He will be brought back unto his Lord; who will punish Him with a terrible torment (Hell). But as for him who believes (in Allah’s Oneness) and works righteousness, He shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Dhul-Qarnain) shall speak unto Him mild words (as instructions).”

For a team to complete their job and do it successfully, a leader must train his team to be disciplined, giving out rewards where appropriate and handing out punishments/reprimands when required. This also includes handing out assignments in a just and fair manner, so no member of a team feels overburdened. Honing the capabilities of each member is an essential part of training a group: utilizing each member’s abilities in the appropriate area and providing the members with the opportunity to explore all the aspects of the task at hand. In order to do this, the leader must be ready to accept minor failures by the team members as part of the learning process.

Ayah 93 brings our attention to the fact that a team is comprised of individuals with varying intellectual levels, expertise and skills: “When He reached between two mountains, He found, before (near) them (those two mountains), a people who scarcely understood a word.” When training the team, the leader must establish effective communication among the team members. The leader must provide guidelines/instructions, so that the entire team establishes a common language among themselves, in order to proceed with the task effectively. The leader must train the team and help them acquire the tools, confidence, language skills, etc., required for communicating with people.

Next, let’s look at Ayahs 94 – 95: “They said: ‘O Dhul-Qarnain! Verily! Yajooj and Majooj (Gog and Magog) are doing great mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might erect a barrier between us and them?’ He said: ‘That (wealth, authority and power) in which my Lord had established me is better (than your tribute), so help me with strength (of men), I will erect between you and them a barrier.’” A leader must set an unfailing example for his subordinates: bribery/corruption is not acceptable. Only legal compensation is allowed. For a team to function, spiritual training is an essential part.

Last, let’s look at Ayah 96: “‘Give me pieces (blocks) of iron,’ then, when he had filled up the gap between the two mountain-cliffs, he said: ‘Blow,’ till when he had made it (red as) fire, he said: ‘Bring me molten copper to pour over it.’” A leader must be well versed in the use of latest technology, and then instruct his team in the use of it. In addition, the team must have ongoing professional training, so they are abreast with current and emerging trends in their field.

“The building of this barrier was the truest example of, in the history of man, of compassion and cooperation, between a nation of great wealth and a weak nation…” (commentary of Surah Kahf, Ali Abdur Rasheed), in other words, this models how a leader should behave and by setting an example, train his team to do the same.

Amazing! Allah (swt) has given us the perfect training model, if we only chose to follow it. Yes, we can!