My Dad – My ATM


Behaviour is not a production of any moment. Behaviour surfaces on the basis of maybe the past ten years of someone’s life. It has a long-term history. It is based on the state as well as the strength of emotions. Particularly, when children are young, they need their parents’ support for emotional strengthening.  In today’s overly distracting world, parents are likely to be oblivious of children’s emotional needs and reduce their role to managing logistics.

In the prevailing culture, relationships are in danger. Tragically, in many families, for the kids their parents don’t matter. Fathers have become ATM machines for their children. The kids approach their dads when they are in need of finances or logistic support. Alarmingly, in many households, even wives talk to husbands for the same reasons, as usually they are not around. This was proven in a survey I conducted among fathers asking them for what reason were they approached by their families the last four times during one month. The reason was money. They had nothing else to share between them.

My Dad is not my Confidante

Religious families have a bigger crisis on the roll. They do not enjoy many forms of entertainments that are naturally impermissible for them. Hence, they refrain from it. But parallel to this, what they fail to do is raise their children with appropriate Tarbiyah (upbringing). By the term Tarbiyah, I refer to a process of purifying one’s desires to ultimately seek the Creator’s pleasure. It is a life-long training that enables you to want what God wants from you.

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The Best Husband; A Complete Believer

best husband

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

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

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

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


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

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Real Parents, Real Heroes

real parents, real heroesHuman relations are a complex and sensitive web of emotions. Family is the foundation of every society. Why does family matter? Well, around one-fourth of the Quran instructs humanity about family matters. Over 1200 verses pertaining to familial matters specify rulings, injunctions, and advice from Allah (swt) to us.

The strength that we gain from our family enables us to go forward and tackle the challenges of life. Hence, a family is sacred, and it is mandatory for Muslims to pay attention to their families and energize them. If the family system crumbles like a feeble mole hill, the society disintegrates also.

True parents are true leaders

The other day, I was brushing my teeth. My fourteen-year-old son Yusuf stood next to me. He was brushing his teeth and making all kinds of swishing sounds and gurgles much to my dislike. For the first time, I realized that he had grown taller than me. I asked him: “Yusuf, what kind of weird sounds are those? Didn’t I ever teach you how to brush your teeth?” He replied: “No dad, you didn’t.”

It just dawned on me that every fault in my child was my failure as a father because I hadn’t modified his attitude or act. True parents are true leaders of their families. In Islam, servants and leaders are one. If one cannot serve his team, he cannot lead. Our Prophet (sa) was always the first in a battle and the last in a caravan. A very important book by Simon Sinek titled Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t is worthy of mention here, as it can facilitate the concept of true leadership and parenting.

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Words of the Wise – Luqman’s Advice to His Son

luqman's advice to his sonLuqman, the wise, is known in history for his understanding, knowledge, and eloquence. As the Quran states: “And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding, etc.)…” (Luqman 31:12) He was a righteous servant of Allah (swt). His full name was Luqman bin Anqa bin Sadun, and he was a dark-skinned slave from Ethiopia. He was a carpenter by profession.

The name of Luqman’s son was Tharan. To Luqman, he was also the closest and most beloved of all people, who deserved to be given the best knowledge. Even today, Luqman’s wise counsel for Tharan is quoted and reflected upon for guidance. What was so dazzling about Luqman’s advice for his son? And how many of us impart the same to our offspring today?

“…Luqman said to his son, when he was advising him: ‘O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.’” (Luqman 31:13)

This wise father attached his son to the mighty source of man’s ultimate success – His Lord. Luqman knew that if Tharan’s relationship with his Creator was firmly positioned, he would have few worries left. He also clearly stated the supreme oppression that man can commit, which is to associate partners with Allah (swt), and grant honour and obedience which is due to Him (swt) to others who are mere creations.

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years – give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination.” (Luqman 31:14)

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The Social Impact of Borrowed Living

borrowed living

The one-world materialistic consumer culture, which is deliberately being promoted throughout the globe, is affecting us. We are falling into the trap of living a lifestyle based on loans: house loans, car loans, education loans, investment loans, credit cards, digital money, and money borrowed from friends and family. All this is affecting us, our families, and our society in a negative manner. Let us study the impact of borrowed living and look at some ways to counter it.

Responsible borrowing may sometimes be inevitable. The Prophet (sa) once borrowed from a Jew. The problem is a lifestyle of borrowed living which is being promoted nowadays. Most of such transactions are based on Riba and lead to a never-ending vicious cycle, which is intended to trap the borrower, adversely impacting him, his family, and the whole society.

The primary impact of borrowing is on the borrower. It affects his character as he becomes prone to lying, deceiving, making false promises and cheating. He also becomes a victim of corruption in trying to pay back the monthly installments to his creditors with whom his relations can easily turn sour. They say that if you want to destroy your friendship, borrow from a friend. Such a person becomes hated in the society. People curse him for not paying back on time. He becomes lonely and sometimes, even depressed and suicidal.

Such people are prone to be led away from truth and reality. They live in the artificial world of advertisements, movies, music, and perpetual entertainment, which help them find comfort and draw them away from focusing on their problems. They develop a mentality of constantly acquiring things, rather than taking care of the weak. They look down on others, who apparently have less than them, and as they do not give the Zakat (due to their loans), the poor become envious of them. With easy access to loans, the borrower has little motivation to develop good work ethics, enterprise, planning, accountability, responsibility, innovation, reform, service, learning, and vision in his work. All this promotes a hollow ostentatious lifestyle, without any meaning, spirituality, or wisdom.

A person living such a lifestyle is deprived of all the blessings, as his transactions are based on Riba, which Allah (swt) has promised to make devoid of any blessings. He lives a wasteful life, and Allah (swt) calls such spendthrifts the ‘brothers of Shaitan’. The borrower’s relationship with Allah (swt) becomes weak as he begins to fear people and the future instead of Him. He always feels guilty and dissatisfied with life, trying to find an escape from his predicament. This weak relationship with Allah (swt) causes his relationships with those around him to deteriorate. He starts perceiving his family, colleagues, neighbours, friends, relatives, etc., as potential creditors. Becoming entrapped in this mentality, he only manages to increase for himself the pressure of his financial problems.

As an Ameer of the family, a man is supposed to provide Halal income, protection, and good Tarbiyah for those under his authority. All these become difficult for a borrower. His family becomes addicted to the easy life, and their demands increase day by day. This leads to family problems and misunderstandings. From a young age, children learn from their parents the destructive character traits that come with borrowed living.

A society, in which the majority of people are trapped in such a mindset, develops serious social problems. These destroy its very fabric, leading to deceit, thefts, violence, crime, killings, addictions, increase in materialism, and loss of spirituality. People become concerned only with competing with each other in acquiring things and living out enviable fashions and trends. They lose sight of what matters most in life and live out the hollow lifestyles of the celebrities they watch on the mainstream media. At a macro level, even governments sell their independence through financial enslavement, which affects millions of citizens.

A Way Out

The solution to these maladies is to not get trapped in a credit-based system in the first place. Try not to take any loan ever, if you can help it. Instead of a credit card, use cash, or at least a debit card. If credit cards are unavoidable, you can ask your bank to automatically pay the monthly balance from your account. The best cure is to change your lifestyle and live within your means. Instead of living a materialistic lifestyle, adopt a spiritual one. Engage in learning and teaching, rather than shopping and partying. Adopt the Sunnah in your daily routine.

Realize that the Prophet (sa) called the market the worst place and the Masjid the best. When you enter the market, recite the Dua for it. When you do go out for shopping, always make a list before leaving the house. Only buy the items on the list. Do it like a chore on fixed times on a weekly basis, not like an outing or entertainment which the mall culture these days promotes. Spend the least possible amount of time shopping. Do it without the wife and kids and after a meal. If you can help it, do not visit the market in between your weekly trips.

Make priorities for spending. For example, you may decide to spend on charity, learning, and health, while cutting expenditures in other areas. Engage in free entertainment like going to parks and beaches, instead of going to movies and malls. Eat at home by learning or asking your wife to learn to cook your children’s favorite fast foods like donuts, cookies, cakes, and pizzas. You can do it as a family weekend in the kitchen once in a while. Buy off season clothing. Do your Eid shopping months in advance before the prices rise. Go on vacations locally, instead of going to faraway places.

Brothers, who are about to tie the knot, should take into consideration the spending priorities of their spouse-to-be. If she is known to spend on extravagant fashions, etc, will you be able to provide that through your loan-free Halal income? Also consider future responsibilities once the family begins and grows. A girl with simple and realistic needs will be closer to Allah (swt), easy to please and caring.

The Prophet (sa) refused to lead the funeral prayer for those who had outstanding loans. The following Hadeeth confirms this. A dead person was brought to the Prophet (sa) so that he might lead the funeral prayer for him. He asked: “Is he in debt?” When the people replied in the negative, he led the funeral prayer. Another dead person was brought and he asked: “Is he in debt?” They said: “Yes.” He (refused to lead the prayer and) said: “Lead the prayer of your friend.” Abu Qatadah said: “O Allah’s Messenger (sa)! I undertake to pay his debt.” Allah’s Messenger (sa) then led his funeral prayer. (Bukhari) Even Halal loans are not encouraged, due to all the reasons cited above.

Today’s social architects promote borrowed living. They aim to keep the general public deluded and entrapped so that they keep earning and prospering at their expense. As practicing Muslims, we should see through their schemes and neutralize them. Borrowed living affects not only the individual, but also the family and society. Resolve to live within your means by adopting a simple Sunnah lifestyle with known priority areas for spending. A slave of Allah (swt) does not rest until he frees himself from all forms of enslavement. This includes financial slavery.


The Four Orange Rinds

Orange Rinds

Suleman loved fruit, and there was plenty of it to enjoy in Pakistan. Living in Karachi, he enjoyed mangoes, oranges, pomegranates, pears, peaches, grapes, melons… such a wide variety of fruit, which came one after the other throughout the year from all parts of Pakistan. Today, after a heavy dinner at home, he had an orange. It was so sweet and juicy that Suleman, not a very religious person, spontaneously uttered ‘Alhumdulillah’ with pleasure. Suleman then forgot all about it. His career, work and entertainments kept him very busy and happy with his life.

Zaheeruddin Niazi was very grateful to Allah (swt). His orange orchard had 742 trees on his 20-acres farm. He loved each tree like his own child. His oranges with sticker “Shireen Sweet – Niazi Farm” were the best oranges in the entire Attock Mianwali area. They fetched the best price and were sold out in advance well before season.

FSC113 was the angel responsible for fruit supply to Suleman. There were hundreds of angels with all types of duties for fulfilling the needs of each individual on earth. Some angels were providing the exact Rizq appointed each year for a person; some were protecting the body, ears or eyes, while others were responsible for all types of food supply. FSC was an easy designation for the angel in charge of ‘fruit supply chain’. Since there were hundreds of fruit varieties, there were over 150 angels for bringing different fruits to Suleman. Allah’s (swt) vast network worked day and night for bringing Rizq and sustenance to His creation. All was planned to perfection and ran like clockwork.

Currently, FSC113 had the single duty by his supervisor to supply the best oranges available in Pakistan to Suleman. He had to supply 240 oranges in that particular season, which was not a bad bargain for offering Shukr for one orange! Suleman had shown gratitude, and Allah (swt) never forgets such things. FSC113’s job was not easy. He targeted Zaheer’s farm, since it was the best. Next, he targeted trees number 303, 304 and 305, which were in the best location and produced the most succulent sweet oranges in the entire orchard.

FSC113 settled next to these trees, in order to oversee their production for the next four months. He was dozing, when the hot sunrays jolted him awake; too much sun, he noted. The oranges will dehydrate and lose some glucose content and sweetness! FSC113 rushed skywards and instantly arranged for a cloud cover from his fellow cloud angel, which cut down the sunrays to just the right amount for providing sunlight, but not too harshly. FSC113 sighed with relief. He was well in control. He handled numerous daily challenges, such as ensuring the right amount of water supply, fertile soil conditions, absence of disease, and pest control when needed. He either brought the matter to the attention of Zaheer through intuition or whisperings or took help from his fellow angels, like he had done just now.

Finally, the oranges ripened and were packed and ready to be sent to Peshawar. But, at the last moment, the wholesaler called Zaheer that he had lots of stock, so if he wished, he could send it elsewhere. Zaheer had bookings from everywhere, so he directed the fruit to Quetta. Suddenly, it started to rain heavily in Quetta valley and the truck driver was instructed to change the route to Karachi. The Shireen Sweet were meant for a Gulshan fruit vendor. The truck driver, however, was obliged to grant a favour to his friend in the DHA fruit market. He promised the Gulshan vendor to bring his oranges on the next trip.

One day, Suleman got out of his office, intending to head straight home. But, as he approached the high street, he remembered that they were out of fruit. At the last moment, he turned his car, parked in front of his fruit vendor, and called him through the car’s window:

“Oranges hain (Do you have oranges)?”

“Jee Sahib; abhi taza aye hain. ‘Sweet Shireen’ bohot aala aur meetha hai. (Yes sir. Fresh oranges are here. ‘Sweet Shireen’ are very high quality and sweet.)”

“Theek hai, theek hai bhai, do dozen do – aur jaldi. (Alright, alright, brother. Give me two dozen and hurry!)”

He pays and drives home.

After dinner, Suleman asks his wife for an orange, but she is busy enjoying her banana. He tells his daughter, Sharmeen, to bring one for him. She picks one up, her phone rings, and she puts it down again. Suleman grunts and picks one up for himself. He cuts it in his usual four slices and eats it. No doubt, it was absolutely delicious. Suleman gets up to wash his hands, when he hears the Adhan and suddenly remembers Mufti Sahib’s talk of last Friday on Shukr. He sits down again, brings his hand together and says: “Alhumdulillah”.

More than 150 angels, who had worked hard to bring these oranges to Suleman’s plate, were all standing by the table, waiting to see the effect of their handwork. Suddenly, all of them broke out in a thunderous applause and bowed down to Allah (swt) saying what they said, when they bowed in front of Adam: “Allah Almighty, yes, You know what we know not!”

Allah (swt) then signals to His Archangel, who then just for a moment lifts the veils of ignorance from Suleman’s mind, giving him the gift of understanding and perception. In a flash, Suleman sees where his oranges were grown, how they were protected from sun, rain, disease, and pests and how they were switched from going to Peshawar to Quetta to Karachi and then from Gulshan to DHA. He saw how, by the greatest of miracles all the way from Mianwali traveling over a thousand miles in a period of four months, the oranges landed on his plate!

The veil lifted, and he was back in the world, sobbing like a child. He could barely make it to his bedroom, where he fell on his prayer mat, his body racking with sobs of Shukr, Shukr, Shukr – Alhumdulliah. “Oh Allah (swt), in my slumber, I did not know, but now I know how Rahim how Karim and how Rahman You are. Oh, the Mighty One! Oh, the Great One! Accept my thanks and also accept my repentance for not being grateful for my daily blessing. I know now, and I will be your true and grateful servant for the rest of my life.”

Suleman then collected the four rinds of the orange. After drying them in the sun for a few days, he had them carefully placed in two jars. One jar sits on his plush office desk and the other in his study at home. They serve as constant reminders to be grateful and not to forget his great enlightening experience, which changed his life forever!

When Stimulants Become Stressors…


What’s the first thing we do after waking up in the morning?  Besides going to the washroom, we try to freshen ourselves with a rejuvenating cup of tea or coffee and in some cases, light up a cigarette, too. Have we ever pondered over why we need such stimulants?

Stimulants are used to elevate mood and enhance self-confidence. They produce alertness, decrease fatigue and prolong physical work. All stimulants increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. The body temperature is elevated by the effect caused by increased muscle activity and constricted blood vessels. Many people consider only hardcore drugs to be stimulants, while actually the classification of stimulants includes caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and cocaine.

To every upside, there’s a downside. Stimulants provide your body with a false and unpredictable high. However, the energy boost associated with intaking any of these stimulants is short-lived. This boomerang effect of going up and down only contributes more to anxiety, depression and stress.


The main stimulant in our lives is caffeine, which is found in tea, coffee, chocolates and even carbonated beverages. It acts as a stimulant to the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which initiates the fight/flight response, causing the adrenal glands to release more stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) into the bloodstream; these levels are already too high due to the stress we experience, and caffeine exacerbates them even more.

Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world today; yet, our body has absolutely no requirement for it. Professor James Lane (Duke University Medical Center) carried out research on 72 people, who regularly drank 4-5 cups of coffee a day. The data from this study revealed that this level of coffee consumption produced a 32% rise in levels of the stress hormone adrenaline and a 14% rise in the levels of the stress hormone noradrenaline. Professor Lane’s research also revealed that caffeine in 4-5 cups of coffee elevated the blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke by 34% and the chance of heart attack by 21%.


Nicotine, another common stimulant used in our society, is claimed to give relief and feeling of freedom within an individual. However, nicotine has been linked to stress. The relation between nicotine and stress is very much like that between the chicken and the egg – which one comes first? Does stress cause people to smoke? Or maybe the nicotine in tobacco causes people to feel stressed? The answers might surprise you.

It’s all part of a trick nicotine is playing on our bodies, and it starts with nicotine addiction. While many people may feel they are using tobacco as a way to relax or de-stress, nicotine actually causes the opposite effect. Studies have found that nicotine intensifies stress. Feelings of calmness or pleasure during tobacco use are really just momentary reliefs from the unpleasant effects that come along with nicotine cravings (including stress). Those feelings of stress and anxiety will return once the nicotine leaves the body system, and the cycle begins again.

Staying Away from Stimulants

  1. Withdrawing Daily Stimulants

The body that we possess is an Amanah of Allah (swt) and we will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement, as to how we treated this Amanah. Therefore, it is our responsibility to keep ourselves healthy and focus on natural elements, rather than becoming dependent on unnecessary stimulants. Ibn Umar (rtam) reported Allah’s Messenger (sa) saying: “Every intoxicant is Khamr, and every intoxicant is forbidden. He, who drinks wine in this world and dies while he is addicted to it, not having repented, will not be given a drink in the hereafter.” (Muslim)

One might argue that stimulants are not intoxicants. However, they certainly are co-related and a leading cause of deteriorating health and untimely death. What can be more fatal?

  1. Give an Alternative to Your Body – Fruit Teas

It can take up to three days to totally eliminate all stimulants from the body, especially caffeine.  People, who have given up such stimulants, have found that they are less stressed; also, their sleep improves and they have more energy. A common mistake many people make, when withdrawing from stimulants is that they don’t drink any other fluid. It is important to maintain fluid intake.  There are a number of alternatives to caffeine and nicotine, which may include such fruit teas as black currant or apple, such herbal teas as chamomile and peppermint, fruit juices and decaffeinated tea and coffee. Limit your caffeine intake or ideally switch to caffeine free beverages.

It’s important to reduce your caffeine intake slowly, over time and not to stop it all at once, because some people can suffer withdrawal effects and have severe headaches. Reduce by one cup per week and replace it with a decaffeinated version. Do this over time, until you have replaced all your caffeine drinks with non-caffeine tea, coffee, fruit tea, fruit juice, water, etc.

  1. Proper Sleep Management – Relax

A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately, stress also interrupts our sleep, as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evenings, if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed, so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you. You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time every day, so that your mind and body can get used to a predictable bedtime routine. Recite Surah Al-Mulk as per the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah.

  1. Channel Your Stress Effectively – Exercise

Physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

  1. Approach the Correct Solution – Pray and Repent

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated: When a matter would worry the Prophet (sa), he would raise his head up toward the sky and say: “Glory is to Allah, the Magnificent (Subhan Allahil-Adheem).” And when he would strive in supplication, he would say: “O the Living, O Sustainer (Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum).” (At-Tirmidhi)

In yet another incident, it was narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas (rtam) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Whoever persists in asking for forgiveness, Allah (swt) will grant him relief from every worry and a way out from every hardship, and will grant him provision from (sources) he could never imagine.” This is a clear inspiration for us. Instead of relying on immediate solutions involving worldly stimulants, we should depend upon the ultimate Provider and Sustainer: Allah (swt). Ask Allah (swt) to free you from your stress, and eventually it will give you relief, Insha’Allah.

Some Conditions that can be Exacerbated by Caffeine

  • Stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Cystitis
  • Heart burn
  • Diabetes
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Glaucoma
  • Menopause
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Bi-polar depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-Menstrual tension
  • Mood swings

Effects of Caffeine on Our Body

  • Increases heart rate
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Depletes vitamin B6
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Speeds up loss of vitamins and minerals
  • Increases blood cholesterol levels

The Strange Stranger

Strange Stranger

Although it was early September, it was a cold evening for London. Salman was going home from work and his wife, Sadia, doing two shifts, would be coming in late at night. Living in London was expensive and both had to work hard to make ends meet.

Salman knew there would be no dinner, so he decided to pick up something on the way. Sadia loved nachos, so he decided to treat her. This would be his good deed of the week. They had this game going amongst themselves to do at least one good thing every week for each other, with the loser paying for dinner at the month’s end.

He got off at Oxford Circus to walk over to the Mexican outlet, which was reasonably priced, although slightly in the back lane. The place was not crowded and Salman walked fast to get out of the cold. When he was nearly there, his foot caught the entrance step and he went tumbling over. Suddenly, two strong hands appeared from nowhere and caught him, saving him from an otherwise bad fall. “Thank you so much – I would have hurt myself real bad, if you had not caught me,” Salman thanked the stranger. “No sweat,” said the big man. Salman looked at him and felt, as if the person was not real. He shook his hand, and yes, he was very much real, but he could not identify his nationality. As a gesture of thanks, Salman asked him to join him for a meal and he agreed happily.

“May I know your name?” “Names do not matter, they are only labels, knowing the person is the real thing,” he replied. Oh, thought Salman, a philosopher. Salman ordered food and a takeaway for his wife, and they sat down at a table. He started to make conversation, saying how difficult it was to make ends meet in London. Salman asked the stranger: “What do you do?” He replied: “Sometimes we lose perspective; I try to give perspective to people.” “What do you mean?” asked Salman. “Let me explain,” he said and took out what looked like a lottery ticket from his pocket. He showed it to Salman who could read the number clearly ‘111-777’.

“The winning lottery number will be announced tomorrow morning,” the man said, and Salman nodded, because it was in all the newspapers that this time it was going to be a jackpot of nearly seven million pounds. “But who wins such things?” said Salman to the stranger, who was now looking very unreal to him. “This ticket is going to win tomorrow,” said the stranger. The way he said it made Salman’s skin crawl, and he felt a tingling all over his body, as if he had just seen a ghost. “How do you know?” he asked. “It’s my job to know,” he replied. “Then you must be a wealthy man,” said Salman. “Yes, but I do not need the money,” to which Salman replied impulsively: “Man! Do I need it!” The stranger looked into his eyes and said: “You can have it, if you want.” Salman was taken aback: “Why would you give it to me?” The stranger said: “Because I need something from you in return.” Salman was confused: “What can I give you worth seven million pounds? I am already behind on my rent – but still if you think I have something you want, then just ask and it’s yours!”

The stranger once again looked deeply into his eyes and said: “Ok, in exchange for this ticket, I need your solid oath that till your last day on earth, you will never say any of your five obligatory prayers.” Salman was shocked. He wants me to leave the prayers and for that he is giving me seven million pounds? It did not make any sense. What benefit will it give to him, if I pray or not? He started to feel this whole evening was turning macabre. “What if this ticket does not win tomorrow?” asked Salman to give himself some time to think. “It will win; you have my word! But if it does not, you are free from your promise, so you do not lose anything,” replied the stranger.

Salman felt as if he was in a bad dream but everything was there: real food, customers walking in and settling down, and the noise of people talking. Salman had never had to make such a big decision in his life. He thought of the palatial house he could buy, the silver Bentley, which was always his dream, his children achieving the very best education and his wife all the jewellery and clothes that her heart desired! It was an opportunity of a lifetime. He would be a fool to give this up and all this just in exchange for his prayers? It was a bargain.

He thought about it for a long time, while the stranger ate his food. When his plate was clean, the stranger stood up and put the ticket in Salman’s hand. “So what’s your decision?” he asked. Salman looked at him for a while and then, with a voice shaking with emotion, he answered: “No deal.” The stranger gave a happy childish laugh, affectionately patted him on the back and walked out into the night with the ticket. Salman sat frozen for some time; then, he picked his takeaway and walked out toward the underground station.

He reached home in a daze, said his prayers and without narrating anything to his wife, went to sleep. The morning newspaper next day announced the winning ticket number, 111-777, but Salman was not surprised, as he already knew it.

It was Friday, and in the afternoon, he went for his prayers. The Imam’s sermon was like background music, hardly registering through his dazed mind, but all of a sudden, the words were ringing sharp and clear in his ears. “Shall I tell you the importance of just the two Sunnah Rakats of the Fajr prayers? The Prophet (sa) said: ‘If you put all the treasures of this world together, they cannot exceed the Barakah, the benefits and the blessings of the two Sunnah Rakats of the Fajr prayers.” (Muslim)

These words hit Salman with a jolt. He felt as if God Almighty was talking to him, to let him know that the great sacrifice he had made the night before had been accepted. Salman fell into Sajdah and cried like a baby, tears of spiritual joy and happiness streaming down his cheeks. He continued to thank Allah (swt) for giving him the strength to make the right decision. He knew that the angel he met last night only wanted him to realize the worth and importance of his daily prayers.

From that day on, Salman was a changed person. His prayers were no longer ordinary and his mind didn’t wander. For him, it was like a meeting with Allah (swt), and each prayer time became the most delightful and uplifting activity of his day.

Characteristics of a Believing Wife

Believing WifeAre you planning to get married? Abu Abdullah outlines what one should look for in a prospective spouse.

The Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said: “A woman is normally sought as a wife for her wealth, beauty, nobility or religiousness, but choose a religious woman and you will prosper.” (Muslim)

Some well-intentioned Muslims try to follow this prophetic advice in choosing a spouse and make religion the principal criteria for their selection. However, soon they face problems: how to define ‘religiousness’ and which particular religious characteristics should a prospective wife have? Are wearing a Hijab and praying regularly sufficient? Certainly, they do indicate righteousness; however, the outward manifestations can sometimes be deceptive, which calls for some deeper considerations before making this important decision.

Correct Aqeedah

The foremost of these is having the correct belief or Aqeedah, for the belief systems of people may differ. If a person spends the entire life doing good deeds, but his belief system is corrupted, he may not gain any reward for it in the Akhirah. In terms of marriage, beliefs form the basis of a person’s worldview; thus, two people with different beliefs cannot come to common terms easily, because their perspectives are different. Spouses are like a pair of eyes in the head: each has separate vision, but when they focus on common goals, they provide a depth in perception that is not possible by either one of them alone. Wearing different-coloured eye glasses on each eye, results only in confusion. Further, this poses difficulties for children, who are often left perplexed about how to see reality. Even among Muslims, different sects have different Aqeedahs, so care must be taken in choosing a mate whose belief one concurs with.
Sincerity in Front of Allah (swt)

The next important characteristic may be quite difficult to ascertain. It is sincerity in front of Allah (swt) which is a very private matter, as it is related to the intentions of a Muslim. When a wife does everything primarily for Allah’s (swt) sake, one can be sure that Islam is not just on her lips; it has entered her heart. That is the essence of religion. When she does something good to him or his relatives, it is primarily to seek reward from Allah (swt). It will make no difference to her, if she is appreciated for her good deeds or not, as she knows that Allah (swt) appreciates her. Many typical misunderstandings and complaints in marriages can be neutralized by this great characteristic alone.

Love for the Prophet (sa) and his Sunnah

Love for the Prophet (sa) and his Sunnah is another important consideration for marriage. The Sunnah provides Muslims with exemplary patterns of lifestyle which guide them to the most natural way in which Allah (swt) wants them to live. A wife, who takes the Prophet (sa) as the best role model for herself, will constantly work on improving her character. She will cultivate such good characteristics as patience, thankfulness, humility, devotion, truthfulness, modesty, sincerity, dependability, etc. Such traits are indispensible in a believing wife.

The life of a Muslim, who follows the Sunnah, is characterized by good balance. They fulfill the rights of Allah (swt) as well as of the people around them. A wife who loves the Prophet (sa) will follow the caring way in which he dealt with people. Wives play a significant role in the social interactions of families and friends, so a genuinely concerned and caring wife will be a source of good Dawah and reform. She will constantly think about the welfare of others, in both their religious and mundane matters. She will help in maintaining strong ties of kinship. Certainly, she will not forget the responsibilities she owes to her children, whose characters she has to mould.

Love for Learning

After the love for Allah (swt) and the love for the Prophet (sa) should come the love for learning. A wife who is committed to a lifetime of learning will always look for ways to keep improving herself, both in matters of Deen and Dunya. In each stage of her life, she will eagerly learn the knowledge required for carrying out her responsibilities. Correct Aqeedah will help in building her inner vision by placing what she learns in the correct framework of belief. This will allow her to develop insights about the nature of things. This Hikmah (wisdom) and Firasa (intuition) are rare and valuable qualities to have in a wife. Indeed, the Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said: “Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Paradise…” (Ibn Majah) She is also more likely to pass on this love for learning to her children.


A wife can have all the above qualities; yet, if she is not obedient, then the family unit is prone to tear apart. Obedience is threefold: to the commands of Allah (swt), to the Prophet (sa) and then to the husband. Every social setting needs a leader: a responsible person who would look after the interests of the entire group. In a family, this responsibility is in the hands of the husband, who should seek to acquire all the above characteristics himself, before demanding them from his potential spouse. A family cannot be led by two people. If the wife does not obey the husband, chaos ensues. At a macro level, family discords lead to disruption in society, since a healthy family unit is the basis of a healthy society.

For a successful Islamic marriage, both husband and wife should be committed to improving themselves and acquiring good characteristics that go beyond mere rituals of religion. If a wife has the right Aqeedah, is sincere to Allah (swt), loves and practices the Sunnah, is committed to learning and is obedient to the husband, then there is very little else that a wise practicing Muslim should consider.

Walking the Talk


Raising good Muslims is a difficult task. Many a times, parents encounter problems while raising their kids to become good Muslims – problems that seem impossible to solve. Following is a valuable piece of advice for those who find raising a Mumin a tough call.

Parents are Allah’s (swt) precious blessing. They love us unconditionally and want the best for us. We only realize the extreme love that our parents have for us, when we become parents ourselves. We then understand that whatever our parents used to do for us was for our own good. Furthermore, we also realize that good parenting is a great responsibility. Parents lay the foundation of a Muslim nation.

Having children is a natural desire ingrained in mankind. The Quran tells us how prophets supplicated for a pious offspring. Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his wife Sarah supplicated to Allah (swt) for a child despite their old age. It is said that Ibrahim (as) was more than 110 years old, when the angel came and told him that he would have a child. His wife was around 95 years of age. Even though they had been praying to Allah (swt) for an offspring for at least 80 years, they were shocked to hear the good news, since they were very old. Similarly, Prophet Zakariyah (as) wanted a child – he had been supplicating to Allah (swt) for over 70 to 80 years. The angel came and blessed him with a child by the name of Yahya.

There are many stories in the Quran about good parenting that we can take lessons from. Analyze how Prophet Ibrahim (as) treated his son Ismail (as) after he saw in a dream that he has to sacrifice him. What does he do? Does he sneak into his teenager son’s room and tie him up quickly to do what was required of him? Does he trick him? No, he engages in a very mature, intellectual conversation. He treats his teenage son like an adult.

This teaches us that if we treat a teenager like an adult, he starts acting like one. On the contrary, when you treat him like a kid, he never grows up. Ibrahim (as) told his son the truth – he trusted him and knew that the way he has raised him, his son will never reject Allah’s (swt) command. Ibrahim (as) then sought his son’s advice. This is how Islam treats a teenager. Islamically speaking, when one reaches the age of 14 or 15, s/he is an adult and is required to be a full practicing Muslim. Unfortunately, our society which emulates the West, considers an individual before 18 years of age to be an immature adolescent. However, Islam teaches us that if a mature, intellectual person is treated like a kid, s/he will act like one, resulting in delayed maturity. The companions of the Prophet (sa) gave their children responsibilities and pushed them to act beyond their years. When they treated them like adults, they began to act like one.

In the Quran, the story of Luqman (as) has a lot of lessons for parents. He taught his son Islam; made sure that he worshipped Allah (swt) Alone; taught him to be respectful to his parents and to be conscious of Allah (swt) wherever he was. He did not beat him over every single action. He instilled in him the overall consciousness that a Mumin has of Allah (swt). He also taught him to be active and fulfill social obligations, command what is good, forbid what is evil and have humility and perfect manners.

Ibn Qayyim, the famous scholar, stated that the greatest reason a person goes astray is that his parents do not take care of him and neglect him. At times, too much love also spoils children. The overly protective and loving parents think they are doing the best for their son or daughter, but in reality they are not. The companions would have their young children, who were only six or seven years old, fast the whole month of Ramadan. How many of us would do that? It is imperative to develop the child’s interest and make him or her fast at the age of eight, nine or ten years.

Furthermore, parents should always instruct their children to perform prayers and recite the Quran. Parents should be firm yet loving. They should not be overly strict; otherwise, the children will retaliate. There are very few families where a father raises a family in an Islamic environment with gentleness. This is the key, because if you are too strict, the youngsters can backlash.

For children, parents are the role models – they try to emulate their actions; hence, if the parents are pious and practicing Muslims, the children will learn to be the same. Even if they go astray for some time, they will eventually mend their ways and become good Muslims, because their parents were always meticulous and practicing Muslims. However, if the parents do not give any importance to Islam, the children will learn to be the same (with a few exceptions). If parents will only give verbal instructions without showing practically what our beautiful religion teaches us, it will not impact their children’s minds. If parents will tell them to be good, but are not good themselves, then they are nothing less than hypocrites. Their children will see through them immediately, and as soon as they leave the nest, they will go astray (if they are not already!).

On the contrary, if parents will walk the talk, practically show their children what Islam teaches us, live up the ideals of Islam and be a good Muslim, their children will have a strong Islamic foundation. Even if they go astray temporarily, they will soon come round and be Mumins.

Parents who do not understand the importance of practical representation and just give verbal instructions to their kids will soon realize that their efforts are in vain. Complaining will be of no use when their kid is 18 years of age. If they have not done anything for the last 18 years, they cannot make a difference now. Their children’s hearts will not nurture that deep understanding and love for Islam, and even if they try to make them follow it, they will fail. Many parents face this problem and later complain that they cannot get their son to be interested in Islam. Why weren’t they interested in Islam when their child was young? Why didn’t they open up the Quran? Why didn’t they fast and pray? Why do they expect their child to do what they didn’t do?

The key to good Islamic upbringing lies in practical application. The simple solution is for the parents to be Muslims. They should be role models for their sons and daughters, and their children will grow up looking at them, appreciating them and imitating them. The way to perfect Islam and to make sure that Islam lives on from generation to generation is to practice it yourselves, so that your children grow up seeing that reality of Islam, practicing it themselves and passing it down to their children.

Transcribed and adapted for “Hiba” by Bushra Naseem.

So what’s your priority?


Once, Stephen Covey travelled to Chicago for a business presentation. The same night, his fourteen-year-old daughter was to act in a side role in a school play. He knew that Colleen was not in the lead and realized that probably she will never be. But that night was her night. He was guilty of not being there, when the audience would cheer for her. He could have arranged his schedule to be there, but somehow Colleen’s play had gotten lost in the pressures of his work demands.

Stephen called up his daughter to wish her well. He realized that as a parent it was important for him to be there for praising and affirming his child, even though he could not attend the event.

It’s not enough just to claim that “family” is important. You need to show your commitment by actions. In his words: “One of the worst feelings in the world is when you realise that the “first things” in your life – including your family – are getting pushed into second or third place, even further down the list. And it becomes even worse, when you realise what’s happening as a result.” Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

The question then arises: if family is what we can die for, why does it get subordinated to other values, work, friends or private hobbies? Why don’t we give our primary attention and focus to what matters most to us?

Imagine, in an average American home, a child spends seven hours daily watching TV and five minutes with dad. Unbelievable! But Pakistan is not too far behind. I still remember that a friend of mine always used to joke about her husband’s late arrival from work. “One day, when he will ask me after arriving late at night as usual: ‘Where are the girls (referring to his daughters)?’ I will tell him: ‘Oh! Don’t you know? They were married off, while you were busy in a board meeting.’”

She always laughed out loud, but I could feel her underlying pain – the pain of being left alone to head the family and fulfil the role of a father and a mother, while her husband thought that his family needed more of his money than his time and presence. The standard of living was being raised, while the quality of relations was being dropped.

Also, people seldom forget their miserably lonely childhood. If their parents have abandoned them for some other mission in life, these kids carry the bitterness all the way, until they express it in some form or the other.

In May 1997, U.S. News and World Report published a hard-hitting article entitled “Lies Parents Tell Themselves About Why They Work”. Today, we have a similar case in Pakistan and many other countries. Here are some of the lies mentioned in the report:

  1. We need the extra money. (But research shows that better off individuals are nearly as likely to say that they are working for ‘basic necessities’, as those who live close to the poverty line.)
  2. Daycare is perfectly good. (Cases of physical and emotional abuse of minor children have never been this high in the country.)
  3. Inflexible companies are the key problem. (Many people willingly spend more time at the office. Homes have become an efficiently run joyless workplace, while the actual workplace with empowerment and team work is more like family.)
  4. Careers cannot be sacrificed. (This is a new breed of women, who have been raised like men. Their family is negotiable but their careers are not; hence, their kids are raised by others for them.)
  5. Role reversal. (Men don’t mind their wives stepping out and supporting them earn the desired lifestyle.)

Many fathers slave it all day with very noble intentions for their families. But as it is said – bad judgements cannot replace noble intentions. If you are not present at the helm of affairs, someone else will look after your familial needs. Something always fills a vacuum. Children do not just need to be fed, clothed and schooled – they are humans with sentiments, dreams and fears. If they do not have reliable and understanding parents to turn to, they will turn to something else. It will be friends, gadgets, gizmos or pastimes. These children will not judge or question the sincerity of others – they will simply go with the flow to be accepted, because of an emotional starvation at home.

How can we, as heads of our respective family, address these critical issues? Surely we can’t quit our jobs and nest with the rest at home. What we need today is a more dynamic set of solutions for facing the new challenges of leading a family. We need to support, advise, use our judgement, and offer our experience, our strength and our decisiveness to them. This requires us to offer our quality time to the family constantly and consistently.

Stephen Covey suggests: “In a family, order means that the family is prioritised and that some kind of structure is in place to make that priority happen. The creation of a family mission statement provides the foundational structure for the inside-out approach to family living. Additionally, there are two major organising structures or processes that will help you put the family first in a meaningful way in your daily life: a weekly ‘family time’ and one-on-one bonding times.”

The main purpose of ‘family time’ or ‘family night’ (whatever you prefer to call it) is to have one time during the week that is focused on being a family. This facilitates you to meet four of your needs: spiritual (to plan), mental (to teach), physical (to solve problems) and social (to have fun).

In one-on-ones, you allow the other person to have his or her interests and goals expressed or worked on. The one-on-ones are where most of the real work of the family is done. This is where the most significant teaching, the most profound sharing and the deepest bonding take place.

May Allah (swt) guide us to become responsible and dexterous craftsmen, who mould the souls and lives of their families, and most importantly, help us to remember that if we don’t, someone else will – and everybody will have to live with the results.

Fathering Results


By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at and

Fathers find it challenging to earn a decent living, while attending to the social and emotional needs of the family. The fact remains that mothers, in general, still spend more time with the children and have more responsibility for their day-to-day care, while fathers have more responsibility for earning money.

Studies have shown that when fathers play an active role in the lives of their children, the results produce confident and secure individuals. A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood, says: “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”

Though the game is changing ever so slowly, Alhumdulillah, many fathers have been making efforts to be there for their children. This writer questioned some of these fathers on how their increased role and contribution in the family had affected their children, and also, what was the one thing they had done that had improved their relationship with their children and brought promising results, if not absolute success.

Azeem Pirani is a homeschooling father of eight children. His wife and children chose to answer this question on his behalf, defining the one single thing that he has done as: “Giving each of us TIME”. Due to the varied ages of his children, he gives each of them time the way they need it. In the words of his wife: “Once in a while, he takes the older ones out for a snack, where he can discuss growing up issues and their lives with them; he does the same for our ten and eight year-old boys, too. He also gives undivided time to the little ones to listen to them and talk to them.” He makes time for his wife by being her advisor, counselor and staying with the children, so she can take an uninterrupted nap when she asks for it.
Dr. Khalid Bhamba, a homeschooling father for his 11-year-old son and a very busy doctor, is involved in many charitable and social projects. However, he ensures that he keeps his Saturday and Sunday evenings free to spend time with his children and Monday mornings for his wife. Taking time out from his busy schedule has been instrumental in the positive upbringing of their children.

Shehryar Mohsin said that spending time with his family enabled him to teach his three-year-old daughter to take decisions for herself, seeking guidance only when needed, even though she was very young. He says: “My strategy is to teach her how to make proper decisions and get rid of the ‘fear’ that makes you a poor decision-maker in your life.” The effect of this has been improved faith and trust in her parents because “she feels more secure and protected knowing that even if she makes a wrong choice or takes an inappropriate step ahead, she’ll always have her father’s hand to guide her.”
Another father, Abu Muaz, is homeschooling his one-year-old son. He says that since his son is very young, simply giving him time in the evening and playing with him keeps him happy. But the one thing he has done that he feels will give him promising results in the near future and is already impacting his son indirectly is that he and his wife regularly discuss what their vision for him should be. He says: “We talk about where we want to see him when he grows up, and come up with routines and activities (not only for him, but for us, too, being his role models), which we then try to implement. Things like how often we should take him out, what we should be reading to him, how we need to increase our Dhikr of Allah (swt), so that he learns about this, too.”

Abu Shaheer was yet another person who offered his insights on this question. He said: “The one thing I have done as a dad in our family is to revive the Sunnah of ‘Shura’ or ‘Mushwara’ – that is mutual consultation. We have a weekly Shura about family affairs, sitting on the ground in a circle, going one by one with each kid and their mother; even if it’s choosing which restaurant to go out for dinner.” The Shura system in their house has not only provided quality time for interaction between them, but has also given an opportunity to their children to make valuable suggestions and feel important. This has had great results because not only has it inculcated responsibility in the children, but there are also no complaints with the outcome of the decision, since it was collectively made and not forced upon anyone. Abu Shaheer claims: “It has made the kids more mature for their age.”

Dr. Muhammad Abid Ali, a Master Mariner by profession, is also a holder of PhD in education, MBA in HR and Finance, and the initiator and founding member of two education research institutes. He is also the father of four grown-up children, who are, Masha’Allah, serving the Deen in their own capacity. When asked about his role as a father, Dr. Abid replied: “At times, I have tried to recollect what I exceptionally did to raise my children from the Islamic perspective, and all that I could remember was what I did not do and could have done better as a father. Later in life, I realize there were a lot of deficiencies in our upbringing of our four children. May Allah (swt) forgive us for that. People keep on learning in life and many will realize later the weaknesses in their obligations towards Allah (swt) in taking care of His trusts that we have been given as a test. Were it not for his mitigation of the harmful effects of our actions, the humanity would have long been done with. The little positive thing that I may have done is not to force them into any set of belief except that of basic Islam, and the freedom to think and express what ever they thought is correct. I believe I did not superimpose my ideas or beliefs upon their inexperienced but intelligent minds. Since my childhood, I have tried to remain strictly Allah-centred. If you put it in a slogan, it will be ‘All for Allah (swt) alone’. With the exception of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, nothing is of any avail in this life logically. I encouraged them to dedicate their lives to the service of Allah (swt), for that is the safest way of conducting life in this earthly sojourn. Alhumdulillah, I see them realizing this. On my part, I have tried to maintain an effective communication with my children, though I was frequenting the ship as my profession. However, I remember I maintained effective communication with them through letters and later, through e-mails.”

Indeed, the increased role and contribution of the fathers in their respective families has had a profound effect on them. The children learn, grow and thrive under the firm, loving and supportive hands of their fathers, enabling them to become well-rounded personalities in all respects.

However, sometimes, initiatives don’t bring about results that were expected, in which case the fathers try out new ways to impact their children. Abu Muaz puts it aptly: “Of course, there are times when some things don’t work out in which case we try to figure out where we went wrong and how to correct them in the future.”

Stand Up for Justice


By Rayed Afzal – Teachers’ trainer and homeschooling father

You might have skipped it the last time, but if you ever get a chance to look at the pictures or the video footage of the first million march that was held to restore the Supreme Court of Pakistan, then look out for five girls catching candies from the trucks full of lawyers on the Murree road of Rawalpindi.

That was near the end of our geography cum history, cum sociology lesson. Did I say lesson? Well, if you bear in mind for a moment that the twelve-hundred-kilometre-long journey we took in our Honda City was part of our five daughters’ education, then it surely was a lesson worth remembering.

It was an exciting time. My late father would have nothing else to discuss at the dinner table, except for the role a strong judiciary plays in the wellbeing of a society. Our five daughters listened to him diligently.

On some days you teach children, while on others you learn from them. It was after dinner. The million march was still a week ahead, and, as usual, dad was going nonstop talking about the merits of a free judiciary, when suddenly, out of nowhere, Safia, then aged twelve, asked: “So, Grandpa, what are you going to do about it?”

The time froze at that moment, as everyone in our living room, sitting or lying leisurely, just got up and started looking at each other. I let the silence rule for a few minutes and then announced: “Let’s go for the Million March!” The girls got up and rushed to pack, without realizing that the departure was still a week away.

We left Karachi early morning. Our first stop was Nawabshah. The car was packed with essentials, foods and books. The family friends in Nawabshah offered us the traditional Sindhi hospitality. The most interesting were the local dignitaries, who were invited for dinner – they wanted to know why we thought restoring judiciary was so important that we were taking up a 1200-kilometre-journey for that purpose.

My five girls listened attentively, while forming some opinions of their own, without uttering anything. The meeting adjourned late and then we all hit the beds for our next part of the journey to Multan. Along the way, the girls learned a few things about banana plantations, sugar mills and cotton fields. We made it a point to stop occasionally to explore such unique experiences as dates drying, cotton picking, etc.

Multan was no different from the previous stop. Hoards of people at my sister-in-law’s house were amazed to see five young girls making a journey just to show their commitment to a cause. Next morning, it was all the way to Rawalpindi, with a stopover at Khewra salt mines. The semi dried terrain of Sindh and rural Punjab were replaced first by green fields of central Punjab and then by the mountains.

We reached Rawalpindi a day before the big day. The next morning, my daughters got up with zeal, knowing that it might be midnight, before they will be able to return home. Each one of us was responsible for arranging a personal potable water bottle, candy bars, caps and reading materials. At nine, the ‘warriors’ came out of the home, all ready to be part of a historical event.

We reached the Constitution Avenue pretty early. Since there was not much to do, we went around sight seeing. “This is where the chief justice belongs,” I remember Grandpa pointing at the Supreme Court building and telling the girls. “And this is where we will make sure he comes,” I remember Maria, then eleven, adding with full conviction. Around lunch time, the excitement was running high – we couldn’t wait for the caravans of people from all walks of life to reach the destination. While taking the last bites of his lunch, Grandpa came up with an idea: “What if we head back to Rawalpindi and meet the carvan at Murree road. We would be the first to welcome them into the twin cities.”

That was an excellent idea. All of us jumped back into the car and headed back to Pindi. The road going towards Pindi was deserted – not a soul was on the road. Once on the Murree Road, we parked the car almost in the middle of the road and waited for the caravans to appear from the opposite direction. For the next two hours, we sat in the car reading, taking a nap or just taking a stroll on the deserted road, while occasionally looking south, hoping to be the first to announce the coming of the caravans.

If there’s ever a silence before the storm, then we surely felt it that day. In the midst of this silence, finally, we could see the trucks moving slowly in our direction. As the caravan got near, the rumbling of trucks was taken over by the chanting of thousands: “Justice Tere Janisar Bay Shumar Bay Shumar” (“Chief Justice, your loyal supporters are numerous!”). The first truck passing us by was so excited to be ‘welcomed’ by five young girls that they threw their flags, banners, fruit juices and toffees at them. That really excited the sisters. They grabbed the flags, got on top of our Honda and waved vigorously. The youngest one (finding no place on the roof) felt at ease on my shoulders, only to come down occasionally to grab candies thrown at her.

The flow of energy between the five girls, who had waited a good six hours for the caravans to reach, and the lawyers, who were on the truck for the last twelve hours, was amazing. My role was reduced to a person introducing people of any significance, passing us by at a distance. Every person wanted the girls to respond to his or her chanting, or catch a candy thrown by him or her. The whole caravan took three hours to cross from start to finish, and my daughters welcomed each one of them, standing the whole time.

Heat, excitement, thrill and learning – it was surely a package deal that day. As a matter of fact, the whole experience has turned much of the typical syllabus books of social studies into a pleasure reading. Girls can relate much of what they read about Pakistan to this particular journey. But more than anything, they have learned to stand up for justice: a learning that’s worth more than what they will learn in a lifetime!

The writer’s research work can be accessed on

Pro-activity = A Peaceful Marriage


By Umm Isam – Writer and human resource trainer

A world famous business and family consultant was in the middle of an important meeting and things were running behind schedule. He received a note from his wife that she needed to speak to him urgently. The counsellor stepped out to take the call. His wife impatiently reminded him that they had invited guests that evening and that she needed him to be home on time.

The counsellor, already facing a tough day at work, gave into the pressure of the moment and rudely told her off. While he was walking back to the boardroom, he realized his mistake. But the curt words had already been spoken and the relationship was stressed.

He tried to wrap up what he could and hit the road to reach home. In the privacy of his car, he stepped back to observe his behaviour without being defensive. As he stood apart from his own life, and replayed the conversation in his mind, he realized he had been wrong. He understood his mistake and prepared himself to make necessary changes and improvements.

He realized his wife had only made a reasonable demand, as she was in a tough social situation. Expectations had been created, and he wasn’t there to help fulfill them. Instead of understanding, he had reacted abruptly.

The more he thought about it, the more he realized that his actions had been off track. This was not the kind of relationship he wanted with his wife. Then, he began to think of what he wanted out of their relationship. It was care, empathy, love and patience. If he wouldn’t have been sucked into his worry for work and would have responded to his wife with more consideration, the results of the incident would have been completely different. As he reached home, his irritation had disappeared. The counsellor didn’t think of his work worries, but about his wife only. His heart was filled with feelings of love and understanding. He immediately apologized to his wife. She reciprocated. The closeness and warmth of their relationship was restored. And they enjoyed a lovely evening together.

Isn’t this a very common pitfall for all of us in our family life experiences? Whenever we are caught in the heat of the moment, we almost instantly explode, instead of responding on the basis of our deepest values. The counsellor suggested that “what we all need is the pause button – something that enables us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it, and to choose our own response”.

As individuals, we have the capacity to develop this ‘pause’ button. It can be done by acting pro-actively, using the ability to act on principles and values, rather than reacting upon emotions or circumstances. The four unique gifts that Allah (swt) bestowed upon all the human beings are: self-awareness, conscience, imagination and will power. These are the gifts that we saw the counsellor apply in his example, too.

Initially, it may take time to develop them and undo the habit of reacting. With time, with conscious effort and constant reminder to oneself, spouse and family, it can be possible to control one’s angry thoughts and choose a more decent response.

These gifts can be developed and used over time to improve the quality of family relationships. The counsellor suggests that some families should even determine a signal to help them cut through or prevent angry responses.

Just as the heat is turned on and an argument is imminent, we can say a chosen phrase or word out loud, switch the lights on and off, gesture a thumbs down with our hand. This could compel all to stop and disengage immediately.

As Muslims, for us, the best guidance comes from the Prophet (sa), who advises us to either recite ‘Aoodhu Billahi min As-Shaitan nir Rajeem’ or hasten to change our position, or get a glass of water or proceed to perform Wudhu. This space gives us time to get a grip on ourselves and understand the circumstances better in the privacy of our thoughts before we respond negatively.

It is said: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”

The marriage counsellor went on to describe how this one paragraph has been so compelling, so memorable and so staggering that it has influenced the rest of his life. In his own words: “I cannot begin to describe the effect that idea had on me. I was overwhelmed by it. I reflected on it again. I revelled in the freedom of it. I personalized it. The more I pondered over it, the more I realized that I could choose responses that would affect the stimulus itself.”

Animals have no space between stimulus and response. They are totally a product of their natural instincts. We need to understand this difference very carefully and behave in a manner that befits Allah’s (swt) best creations in the world – us. May Allah (swt) grant us the strength to be pro-active and help our spouse and families imbibe it, too. Ameen.

Islamic Etiquettes of Intimacy

Islamic Etiquettes of Intimacy

By Muhammad Mustafa Al-Jibaly – Islamic scholar and author

Sexual intimacy between spouses is allowed and encouraged in Islam. It is indeed a great favour from Allah (swt) that He does not blame those who lawfully fulfill their desires. Rather, He permits it and even rewards it. Allah (swt) has said in the Quran:

“Successful indeed are the believers…those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame; but whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (Al-Mu’minun, 23:1-7)

There are a number of guidelines, however, that one should observe, when intimately approaching one’s spouse.


The two spouses should retreat to a private room. They should draw the curtains and close the doors to ensure that no one, not even a small child, will be able to watch them. Covering the Awrah in front of individuals other than the spouse is an important obligation.


The two spouses should beautify themselves for each other. Each of them should wear clothes and perfume that pleases the other partner. They should brush their teeth and ensure that no foul odour comes out of their mouths or bodies. They should also avoid clothes and other adornments that are either prohibited in Islam or are known to be specific to the disbelievers and/or the decadent. Ibn Abbas said: “I like to beautify myself for my wife as much as I like her to beautify herself for me.” (Quoted by Ibn Jareer at-Tabari in his Tafseer)


The two spouses should indulge in various acts of foreplay that may include light talk and intimate gestures such as kissing. The husband should not rush into intercourse until he feels that his wife is ready for it. He should be especially kind and gentle with her on the first few nights of their marriage.

It is permissible for both the spouses to undress completely – Hadeeths refraining the same are weak in grade. However, it is advisable to hide one’s intimacy under a shared cover for protection from anyone (a child, for instance), who might unexpectedly come within close range.

Remember Allah (swt)

The two spouses must mention Allah’s (swt) name and the following supplication:

“Bismillah; Allahumma jannib nash-Shaytaan; wa jannib ish-Shaytaana ma razaqtana.”

(“With the name of Allah; O Allah, keep Satan away from us and keep him away from what you grant us.”)

According to the Prophet (sa), once this Dua is recited, Satan will not be able to harm the child who is born as a result of that intercourse. (Bukhari and Muslim)

It is important for the spouses to recall the important goals of their intimacy and the reward that they expect for it from Allah (swt). They should, at the same time, beware of Satan’s plotting, who will whisper to them and entice them to introduce acts of disobedience into their intimacy.


During intimacy, both spouses may take any position that is enjoyable and comfortable for them. Allah (swt) says: “Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth (have sexual relations with your wives in any manner as long as it is in the vagina and not in the anus), when or how you will, and send (good deeds, or ask Allah to bestow upon you pious offspring) for your ownselves beforehand. And fear Allah, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give good tidings to the believers (O Muhammad (saw)).” (Al-Baqarah 2:223)


A Ghusl must be performed to attain purity after intimacy. Between successive intercourses, it is sufficient to wash one’s private parts and perform ablution only.

Prohibited Acts of Intimacy

Anal Intercourse

This is a major sin that must be avoided, as per the following Hadeeth: the Prophet (sa) said: “Verily, Allah forbids you from having intercourse with women in their rectums.” (Tabarani)

Intercourse During Menses

Spouses are forbidden from performing intercourse, if the wife is menstruating. Such intercourse is harmful for both the husband and the wife; moreover, it is a major sin. Spouses may, however, enjoy other forms of intimacy. Allah (swt) has instructed: “They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina)…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:222)

Exposing Intimate Secrets

It is prohibited for a man to expose his wife’s secrets, especially in matters of intimacy that, except for him, no person would normally know. This might include birthmarks, reaction to certain intimate acts and so on. Exposing such secrets might induce mistrust and fear in her heart.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Indeed, among the people who will have the most grievous position before Allah on the Day of Resurrection is a man who, after he intimately approaches his wife and she intimately approaches him, exposes her secret.” (Muslim and Abu Dawud)


At all times, spouses must maintain a realization of Allah’s (swt) closeness and watchfulness. This realization should guide and control one’s actions – even during moments of intimacy and pleasure. Furthermore, one should nurture a feeling of gratitude that Allah (swt) has facilitated the fulfilment of one’s desire in a lawful and pleasurable way. This actually turns the fulfilment of desire to a rewarded act of worship.

Adapted (with permission) from “Closer than a Garment: Marital Intimacy according to the Pure Sunnah” published by Al-Kitaab & as-Sunnah Publishing. Compiled for Hiba by Umm Ibrahim

Quick Facts 1

Needed: Sabr (Patience)

Women are generally advised that it is not permissible for them to refuse marital relations. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he spends the night angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning comes.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) also said: “When a man calls his wife, let her respond, even if she is at the oven (baking bread).” (At-Tirmidhi)

However, husbands should consider the physical as well as emotional conditions of their wives prior to initiating marital relations. It is generally advisable to exercise patience, if one’s wife is exhausted or unwell. Also, according to, some of the excuses given by the Shariah to women include menstruation, advanced stages of pregnancy and post-natal bleeding. Moreover, even if intercourse is physically impossible during such conditions, spouses can still be intimate.

Quick Facts 2

Overcoming the Jitters

Maulana Mufti Nizam-uddin Shamazai has given some useful advice to the grooms to-be in his comprehensive book “Tuhfa-e-Dulha”. Following are some tips he has given with reference to the wedding night:

1) Make a list of your questions and concerns about marital relations. Consult a scholar and clear all confusions.

2) You may also consult one or two close friends, who have been married for some time; however, it is not advisable to ask many friends. These friends might come to you later and ask you questions like: “So? How did it go?” This will only get awkward for you.

3) Let go of the fear that your wife will judge you based on your marital relations during the wedding night; also do not assume that she will discuss anything with her friends, sisters or cousins. This is a life-long commitment, and its quality cannot be judged on the basis of one night only.

4) Last but not the least, pray, pray and pray to Allah (swt) to make matters easier for you and form an ever-lasting bond between you and your wife.

Translated and adapted from “Tuhfa-e-Dulha” by Maulana Mufti Nizam-uddin Shamazai published by Bait ul-Ilm Trust.

Mission Statement for Two

Mission Statement for Two

All couples begin their journey with the sacred ceremony of Nikah. Regretfully, since most of us are non-Arabic speaking individuals, it is considered more of a religious ritual meant for the Imam to conduct. It is critically imperative to understand Allah’s (swt) expectations of the couple about to tie the knot. As they move beyond, they also must invest time in preparing a mission statement for themselves to be content and contributing partners.

Why do we need a mission statement?

The point is to bear the end in mind. With this intention multitude organizations form and frame their mission statements. It not only assures productivity and success for high performance organizations but also the satisfaction and happiness of the people, who work in it.

Stephen Covey states: “Even though families don’t have the kind of mission statement so critical to organizational success, yet family is the most important, fundamental organization in the world. It is the literal building block of the society. No civilization has ever survived its break up. No other institution can fulfill its essential purpose.”

What happens, if we don’t have a mission statement?

To many spouses, creation of a mission statement seems like a dreaded or redundant job. The reason, why it is critically needed in any given marriage, is because no two people are completely alike. There are always differences. And if the couples do not take the time to explore these differences and create a sense of shared vision, then these differences can eventually drive them apart.

We will try to understand the gravity of the situation by considering two people called Asif and Shehla. Asif comes from a very supportive family. When Asif was in college, if he had said to his mother: “Today I lost my badminton semi-final,” his mother might have responded: “Oh Asif! Inna lillahi wa inna illehi rajioon. You must be really disappointed. I am really proud of your effort and love you!” If Asif had said: “Oh, another thing, I scored the highest in my statistics exam.” His mother might have replied: “Subhan’Allah! I am so happy for you. I am proud of you and love you.” Asif’s success or failure made no difference. His parents were unconditionally affectionate, proud and caring.

Shehla, conversely, belongs to a family that is not supportive. Her parents are generally disinterested, unaffectionate and conditional in their love. If Shehla had said to her mother: “Today I lost my badminton semi-final” Her mother would have replied: “Well so what happened? Didn’t I tell you to exercise and practice more? Your brother was a badminton college champion. He also exercised and practised a lot more than you. What am I going to tell your father?” But if Shehla had said: “Mom, I scored the highest marks in my statistics exam!” Her mother would have replied: “Oh great! I’m really proud of you. I can’t wait to tell your father.”

Observe how these two individuals have had totally different nurturing experiences. One has learned to love unconditionally, while the other seems to love conditionally. Their families meet and propose an arranged marriage. Asif and Shehla both approve of the proposal and Nikah is performed. They both fall in love with each other. But within a few months of living with each other, the tenderness, sensitivity and intimacy of the relationship is challenged.

Asif expects Shehla to be expressive about her love. He also complains that Shehla expects him to be perfect all the time, otherwise she is very upset with him. Since he comes from a very positive family, he also doesn’t feel the need to discuss reasons for issues at length and is in the habit of brushing stuff under the carpet, as if all is hunky dory.

Shehla, on the other hand, assumes that since she cooks, cleans and looks after Asif’s family, she doesn’t need to validate her love for Asif continuously. She also feels that Asif is too casual about his shortfalls and should work harder to perfect himself. She claims that occasional yelling, accusing and fighting is all part of conflict resolution so what is the big deal about it?

See how these two individuals, due to their own childhood experiences and learning, have completely opposite ways of recognizing and addressing problems. If they both do not come to resolve these differences their relationship will deteriorate further. The attraction will turn into accommodation, then to toleration and finally to hostility.

The crux of it all is that mostly the problems that people face in their marriages is due to conflicting role expectations and by conflicting problem-solving strategies.

How will you make one?

Giving into our customs, the newly wed couple is seldom given a chance to be alone for quiet thinking and planning for their life ahead. Not at least until the umpteenth family dinner is over. And generally by then the first baby is already on the way. So many couples feel way too overwhelmed by the pace of the rapid changes taking place one after the other.

Nikah is a beautiful relationship any man and woman can enjoy. It is indeed a responsibility, too. The couples should plan and try to get a grip of things, before they impulsively start happening, as they can frustrate the partners.

Ideally speaking, the couple should take some time off together to be alone after the wedding ceremony is over. It could just be for a few days or a few hours a day. They may choose a relaxing place. (It doesn’t have to be the Swiss Alps but any place of retreat their pocket permits.)

They can envision together, what they realistically want their relationship to be like after five, ten or twenty years down the road.

What should it contain essentially?

Basic guidelines can be sought from the Quran and Sunnah. Following critical questions need to be answered and documented as early as possible in any marriage:

  1. What kind of marriage partners shall we be?
  2. How are we going to treat each other?
  3. How shall we resolve our differences?
  4. How shall we manage our finances?
  5. What kind of parents shall we be?
  6. What principles we shall teach our children to help them become responsible and caring individuals?
  7. How shall we help develop the potential talent of each child?
  8. What kind of discipline shall we use for our children?
  9. What roles (earning, financial management, housekeeping, etc.) will each one of us have?
  10. How shall we best relate to each other’s families?
  11. What traditions shall we continue that we shall bring from our respective families?
  12. What new traditions shall we want to create in our new family?
  13. How shall we give back to our family?

What are the cautions to look out for while writing a mission statement?

  1. Don’t announce it. It should be remembered, that the final product must represent all that is in both spouses mind and heart. Only then they will own it up.
  2. Don’t rush it. They are pivotal issues and need a deep interaction hence they should not be rushed simply to quickly whip up a mission statement.
  3. Don’t ignore it. Writing a mission statement is only the beginning. The richest fruits will be born, when it is lived on a day to day basis. The statement must be put up some place prominent, reflected upon and used as a compass for direction in marital life.

What if you never made one and have been married for some time now?

It’s never too late. If you and your spouse realize, what has been missing in making your marriage more successful and comfortable, prepare a mission statement now. May Allah (swt) be your guide. Ameen.

Adapted from “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families” by Stephen Covey.