Miscalculations of Thought

genderequalSome days back, I happened to read an article written by some lady doctor in an English daily. There she had lamented over the cruelties the womenfolk are facing severely at the hands of the men in our society.  After quoting quite a few instances, she concluded that this all happens due to the sad fact of “domination of males over women in every sphere of life.  Should the society convert to a female domination, all such painful incidents would vanish”, she opined.

I do not know what the other scholars  would  like to speak over this sort of conclusion, but this much  is  clear  that it is  just  a hasty  analysis arrived at,  disregarding the  multiple  hard  realities. This also portrays how adversely we arrive at decisions while our concepts remain unclear.

Let us assume that the things take a sudden turn and come into a perfect equation with the doctor’s aspirations: the domination vests into the hands of the females.  What then will be the outcome?  Will the society start enjoying a peaceful and comfortable life?   Will the affairs bestow their “proper” bounties to the ladies?

The question in fact is not of a ‘male or female domination’. The truth of the situation is that the power and authority may fetch cruel results if practiced unchecked. Many women are dominant in Pakistan, rather in the world, at various capacities at their workplaces. The question arises obviously:  has the environment altered altogether there, and have the women felt a sigh of relief?  Do the commanding ladies not practice tortures and exaction of their female subordinates, (leave aside the male employees)?  Likewise, each house-wife remains almost in a continued confrontation at her home with her husband’s mother or daughter-in-law spoiling the mental peace of the entire family- a daily business. In families where   luckily or unluckily polygamy prevails, the two co-partners (simultaneous wives) remain in a continued battle although both happen to be the legal and genuine wives of the same gentleman. There are also numerous cases where the nannies, (the ‘maasees)’ are inhumanely treated by their lady employers.  One can also find a number of female authorities dominating in the private and public sectors proving to be no less corrupt in their departments than their male counterparts.

I too have come across a few lady government officials who proved to be the most corrupt person, and were found involved in heavy bribes. Likewise,  anyone may  come  across  the rumours  circulating in the corridors of  any government  office  regarding  the  misappropriations  and stone-heartedness of the  female bosses where  subordinate lady staff  is rarely  spared of their  tortures, harassments, and injustices.

the old integrated family-system of the West  has now gone a story of the past. The quantum of sexual, mental, and physical abuses against the females appearing on the surface is something very terrible.

Still however, I say, if the things happen just in the pattern to the aspirations of the respected lady, the question persists of whether the cases of such injustices and corruptions would reduce to zero?  Would everything go rosy?


The pleaders of the female liberty claim that the practice of exercising “unwanted” bindings over the women is the result of a male domination only. But talking so, they omit to fathom how terrible results have manifested out of these misconceptions!  They have failed to assess that these “wise” women have proved to be a demon that refuses to return to its original bottle. The solutions recommended by them proved to be only fatal to the society. Illegitimate children as well as broken families are just two of its vivid damages.  Western ladies are in no more a mood to pay heed to any good advice advanced in their favour deeming that as their insult only. This is why the old integrated family-system of the West  has now gone a story of the past. The quantum of sexual, mental, and physical abuses against the females appearing on the surface is something very terrible.

Also  the women  have  very rare  exhibited  the quality expected out of them, that is of  an  independent  and instant decision-cum- administration  skill.  It is their built-in  nature, not the male dominance,  that hampers their  advancement  in exact equation to their male counterparts   Male dominance, in fact is not a fabricated and concocted  phenomenon but  a  natural  one, right from  the very birth of the first man . This is why the supremacy the men enjoy over  their counterparts (the women)  in every walk of life  is a vital fact prevailing all over the world, of which Europe is also no exception. In  continents,  where constitutional  rights and equal status  have already  been  guaranteed  by the authorities for ladies , it is a  dream yet  to materialize in essence.

Remedy to such injustices sought in the form of permitting the ladies a full-fledged liberty some 150 years ago, materialized never a truth, simply due to its being contrary to the very human nature.

Any remedy  forwarded  by-passing the very divine guidance  proves  not mere  an exercise futile, but also  a developer of   additional  problems for the mankind.  

Let us here peep a while inside the capitalist system of life.  Upon exercising harsh and unbelievable cruelties upon its workers remorselessly, there arose a revolt and anguish among the workers. Strikes, lock-ups, and agitations developed. Remedy sought by the then learned people to reform that system was just opposite to that:  Rule of the labourers with stress to their importance in the process of production. In place of reforming, the existing pitfalls of the old capitalistic system, the radicals deemed it proper to reject it altogether, and propound a new economic order.  What happened thereafter was that the Communism, implemented in the name of workers proved another unjustified tyrant system for the workers. The workers were belittled, insulted, and treated like slaves with no right of say into the affairs of the business. In this new economic order, the standard bearers, the labourers, found that they have been befooled again. They were directed to mind only their designated jobs  without interfering into the society or the government  matters, They then lost their  self-opinions, and were turned  into the state property  who would provide them  thenceforth the means  what the state  found  fit for them. Their remuneration was  to remain fixed, irrespective of their skill or the amount of their production; and they would have to abstain forming  trade unions,  as the factories and workplaces where they were  employed,   their “own” properties. Likewise, they also lost the opportunities to seek   jobs of their self-choice.

This all in fact was a phenomenon contrary to the very human nature. It, therefore, lets the workers go slow in their jobs and loose interest in the production, leading to another big disaster in the industries.



An incorrect step of revival, led the state of affairs deteriorate further.

“Liberate the womenfolk and permit them the right of property-ownership and a say in the formation, and functioning of the  governments”, was a unified popular slogan raised by the intellectuals and the ladies both a century before. “Why are they being treated as a 2nd class citizen when they do possess the faculties similar to their counterparts?” They argued. “Sitting inside the homes is an insult to our personality and capability”, they stressed.

Conclusion: Any remedy  forwarded  by-passing the very divine guidance  proves  not mere  an exercise futile, but also  a developer of   additional  problems for the mankind.   By “divine guidance” we sure mean, “the teachings of the Quran and the Apostle (sa) of Allah (swt)” since the religions other than Islam have long been corrupted, Islam appears the only true guidance. Says Allah (swt) in His Holy Book, “Certainly, to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Surely, He knows your condition and (He knows) the Day when they will be brought back to Him, then He will inform them of what they did. And Allah is All-Knower of everything.” (An-Nur 24:64)

Stray thoughts do no service to the society save spoiling it.  This is the Qoul ul Fasl; a fact settled for ever.

All You Need to Know about Ihram

Image courtesy: onislam.net

Image courtesy: onislam.net

It is a widely held belief that Ihram is, the two white sheets or towels worn by the pilgrim. The two unstitched white cloth pieces worn by men are “the Ihram garments for men” and not the actual Ihram.

The word Ihram in the Arabic language means ‘entering into a state of prohibition.’

In the Fiqh terminology, Ihram of Hajj and Umrah is the intention of the Hajj and ‘Umrah by which a person enters the state in which certain things become forbidden on him or her.

Three states of prohibition

The first state is for both men and women

  • Depilatory of hair from the head or any part of the body in any manner. For this, most women apply hair oil and kneed their hair into fine braid so the need to comb hair is excluded in state of Ihram. One can also wear hair band to preclude hair from getting messy.
  • Cutting finger and toenails.
  • Using perfume on either the body or clothing is verboten. Unscented soap, shampoo, and sanitizers are available in market.
  • Sexual intercourse.
  • Hunting or assisting in hunting. Killing head lice too.
  • Wearing gloves.

The second state of prohibition for men only

  • Covering the head with something that remains on it (like a cap for example).
  • Wearing sewn clothing such as t-shirts. Using safety pins to fasten two white sheets or wearing undergarments is also not allowed.

The last state deals with women

Wearing a veil or face covering. Therefore, it is forbidden for a woman to wear the veil and gloves after crossing the Meeqat. However, she can buy the cap veil from Alamgir welfare store. The veil will not touch her face and she can easily cover her face.

To conclude, I humbly request women to not to spend on clothes a lot. It is not mandatory to buy new clothes under the banner of Ihram. Specifically, it is not obligatory to buy white clothes as your Ihram. Ihram is a state of prohibition and not white sheets and clothes. It is painful to see women wearing white thin clothes and apparently naked in Haram. You are visiting a holy place and Allah (swt) is the most worthy of our modesty and shyness. Choose such a clothing that covers your Satar completely (i.e. cover the body parts prescribed by Allah (swt)). Worldly talks, gossips are a big No! It is hard for a woman to abstain from talking; however, she can try to talk as less as possible. Hajj is a pious journey which can remove all your sins, so try to make the most of this opportunity.

May Allah (swt) bless all pilgrims Hajj e Mabroor (Hajj- that is accepted by Allah (swt)). And may He accept their deeds and struggle, by uplifting their faith and determination. Ameen.

Make a Hijab Deal – Conceal, and Do Not reveal!

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

Picture courtesy: arabianbusiness.com

“I don’t understand the purpose of this piece of cloth,” says the voice over the phone. “It only covers the head. Everything else can be seen.”

“That is why I choose to wear the outer garment that fully covers the body, as well as, the face cover,” I reply, jumping through the loophole in his argument.

He immediately backpedals.

“You know who wears that?” His voice rises. “You don’t know the kind of women who wear that, you live a sheltered life.”

“Yes,” I say. “I do know. Prostitutes.”

He is surprised, not having expected me to know the answer. He goes off on a tangent, asking me how would I like it if I talked to him with him having a piece of cloth over his face, or how would I like it if I had “three other mothers” (his reference to the Islamic allowance for a man to keep up to four wives), and other spiraling circles of conversation. After an exchange of questions and answers, he said, “Well, then, it’s just a matter of faith.”

How I came to have this conversation over the phone with my father’s friend, who is a doctor, is irrelevant. What was said in the conversation is highly relevant, as it highlights the attitude of people towards the Quranic commandment for women to observe Hijab.

I would like to highlight some points about the girls who observe Hijab (whether it is just head and front cover, or with outer garment, or with face cover, or any combination of the three).

1. Hijabi girls are not allergic to males, or to marriage. I did not discover this opinion until one day, an acquaintance said out of the blue, “You don’t want to get married, right?” which is a way of saying, “You don’t find men attractive, right?” I observed head cover and outer garment then- not the face cover, and still she thought I was against marriage. Why? Not because of my dressing only, but because I did not talk about boys the way the other girls did. I did not discuss which cute boys I had seen when I went out shopping last weekend, I did not list my crushes, I did not share which actors I found attractive, I did not keep wallpapers of actors.

People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

As I know the state of my own inner thoughts only and not anyone else’s; here is a sneak peek: yes, I did see cute boys when I went out. I did have crushes on some of the males I interacted with during school (and later, on work). I did have celebrity crushes when I used to watch movies, and to tell the truth, even a photo shopped poster of a movie glimpsed while driving by is enough to plant the seed of a crush. I used to save wallpapers of computer animated characters from video games, and yes, some of them did feature attractive men. What I did not do was share these thoughts with my friends, because I did not want to give power to them. You give power to thoughts, and they rule your consciousness. I did not want to sit with my friends and cook daily servings of crushes and infatuations. What ruled my consciousness were my own daydreams of my own made-up characters in my own fantasy world. I used to think I was merely making up stories as a writer, until something I read made me realize that I was substituting my own imaginary “ideals” for the flesh-and-blood members of the opposite sex in this world. Yes, my imagination did include attractive male characters as well. Make of that what you will, but I eventually learned not to daydream so much. I didn’t want to take my own whims and desires as my God.

2. Hijabis have nothing to hide. Sure, there’s the girl who will use her head cover to hide her earphones while she listens to music in a packed college classroom. There’s the girl who will use the same method to cheat in exams. Yes, I am coming to the juicy part: there are females who wear face cover to hide their identity so that they can engage with males in pre-marital or extra-marital relations, or as I mentioned in the conversation in the beginning of the article, they do it in order to sell their bodies. People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

The words “Khimar” (head and chest cover) and “Jilbab” (body cover i.e. outer garment) come in the Quran. Whether face cover is included in the word “Jilbab” is the only point of disagreement between scholars. Yes, contrary to the public assumption that all Islamic dress code for females is open to question, there is actually no ignoring these two words, “Khimar” and “Jilbab”, in the Quran.

This brings me to an important point. Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today. Whether or not, you choose to obey a particular verse of the Quran or not, you cannot try to change its meaning in order to make yourself feel safe and comfortable. You cannot pretend that these words are not in the Quran. Even if you believe from the depth of your heart that the Hijabi sister you see is up to no good, you should create excuses for her in your mind. After all, it’s not your job to judge people, that job is Allah’s (swt). Good thing He didn’t give it to you and me, right? Our heads would explode.

Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today.

3. The default setting of a Hijabi is not “sexually frustrated”. Yes, there are holier-than-thou Hijabi sisters and they just have frowning, or sad facial expressions naturally; but that doesn’t mean that all they need is “a good make out”. If you claim to support feminine freedom and are against “the patriarchy”, consider giving your Hijabi sisters a break, too. On the inside, they are creations of emotions, thoughts and conflicts, just like you.

All this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing assumptions about Hijabi Muslims. Whether this article gives you answers, or creates more questions in your mind, depends on your perspective. I will end this article, the way I ended the conversation with my father’s friend: “It’s all a matter of faith.”

Life Lessons from Asma Bint Abu Bakr (ra) – 2

cherryclossomWe continue with some more characteristics of Asma bint Abu Bakr (ra).

Steadfastness in Religion

When Asma (ra) migrated to Madinah, her mother Qutalyah bint Abdul Uzza came for a visit bringing along some gifts. Her mother being an idolatress, Asma (ra) did not admit her into the house or accept her gifts, until she asked the Prophet (sa) about relations with the idolaters. The Prophet (sa) told her to welcome her mother and accept her gifts.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else. If she was unclear about a certain matter, she did not proceed on her own, until she received clarification regarding it. “And whosoever honours the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” (Al-Hajj 22:32)

Lessons to draw: Seek knowledge of the religion and protect yourself and your families from committing that, which might be displeasing to Allah (swt). Be conscious of your earning, your food, your clothing, and the kind of people you keep company with. Put Allah (swt) before everything else.

Perseverance and Generosity

Life for Asma (ra) wasn’t easy. Her husband Zubair (ra) had neither money nor property. Asma (ra) would do house chores as well as look after her husband’s mare. Tending to the mare was the most difficult of all jobs. When she complained to her father, he advised her to be patient.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else.

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity. She was a woman not blinded by the attractions of this world. She was focused on the hereafter and that which pleased Allah (swt). Advising her children of benevolence, she said: “Spend, give Sadaqah and charity and do not wait for abundance.”

Lessons to draw: Many women complain of not having enough to give. There are many simple ways of contributing in the way of Allah (swt), and it does not always involve money. One can contribute in the way of Allah (swt) by giving their time, talent, special skills or even provision. Prepare an extra meal one day and feed an orphan child. Volunteer to teach Quran, a Dua or even academic studies to one of your domestic help’s children.

Haya and Modesty

One day, Asma (ra) was walking home with a load of dates on her head. Upon seeing her, the Prophet (sa) signalled his camel to sit down, so that Asma (ra) could climb. But Asma (ra) refused and continued to walk. There were other men with Prophet (sa), and Asma (ra) did not find it appropriate to be the only woman in a group of men.

Once, her son Al-Mundhir sent her an elegant dress from Iraq, but Asma (ra) refused to take it. Her son, knowing his mother, contested that it was not of a transparent material. Asma (ra) replied that it was not, but it was of tight-fitting and revealed the contours of the body.

Lessons to draw: We might spend a fortune on looking elegant and distinguished, but does our clothing cover all the parameters of Haya? Let us dress up to please Allah (swt).

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity.


Asma (ra) instilled in her children religious values and instructed them about always standing up for the truth. She transferred her love for charity in them and raised them upon best characteristics. After her husband divorced her, Asma (ra) started living with her son Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair (ra). Raised by his mother, Abdullah (ra) grew up to be prudent, intellectual and a master archer.

Lessons to draw: Connect your children to Allah (swt), because when the hearts are empty, they would take in anything that Shaytan leads them to. Teach the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and his Duas. Tell them about Shirk, and teach not to depend on anyone or fear anyone besides Allah (swt).

Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat.

Pearl in the Shell

pearls4Until I wore the Hijab, I had no idea of how it feels to be a victim of prejudice. When I covered my head, I opened my mind. I’m Malak Nawfal and currently in high school. I’ve always been a cool person. I’m bubbly, smart and pretty. I was welcomed and accepted everywhere.

Looking back, I always mourn the years I spent in complete ignorance of who I was. I was a born Muslim but not a practicing one. And I did not want to practice. I thought Islam basically told you to stop doing anything fun and spend your life in worship. Hey, I wanted to live my life. I didn’t like people, who were too religious, because then it would be a “You’ll go to hell!” lecture.

The Hijab signifies the identity of a Muslim woman, but the examples the Hijabi girls set for me were far from ideal. I saw them with boyfriends, tight clothes and heavy makeup. After all, if they did such things, then why care for an extra piece of cloth on one’s head? I thought so, until I heard those two men conversing.

It was Sunday and I was at the mall with my friends. It was just four of us: Sarah, Justin, Mikael and I. By two o’clock, we were feeling hungry. The three went off to order pizza, while I sat at the table, lest someone take it. As I looked around, I became aware of two men talking. Through the noise, I could barely hear them. Eavesdropping is rude, but when you’re left alone, what do you do? Anyway, the men were talking about girls that pretty much got my attention.

“Man I tell ya I could eat ‘em girls in one bite’, I heard one say.

“Darn right. Ya talk to them all nice ‘n they’ll fall all over ya. Then ya ditch ‘em an’ get a new one.” answered the other.

I sat still. They were talking of girls, as if they were objects! Toys!

“Yep most of ‘em swooning girls’re ugly anyway. They slap on lots ‘a cream but can’t hide that black skin.” They started laughing and I wondered, if that was what most men thought of girls?

In books and movies the men loved their women, and every girl hoped for her Prince Charming someday. I dived into their conversation again.

“You ever gonna marry man?”

“Me? No. It’d never work. Ya marry one, love her fer a few days. By the end ‘a the year ya wanna strangle her. Women’re vicious. Ya marry one ’coz ‘a her looks and she turns out to be a monster. If I marry it’ll be ‘coz she’s a good person inside.”

I was cold and sweaty. I ate my pizza in silence. I kept thinking: “Do Justin and Mikael feel like that? Are we just toys?”’

“Hey, Malak, what’s wrong? You’re real silent.”

“I’m fine.”

I replied that I was not fine. I just heard men discussing girls like trash. My world had been shaken for God’s sake. As we made our way out the door, I glanced warily at every man I passed. I just wanted to go home and think about this.

After returning home, I made my way upstairs. I ignored the greetings of Salman, my brother, and Nayla, my sister. My father is an Arab, but he studied in America. My mom is American, born and bred. I took a shower and went to sleep.

Next day, school felt like a prison that I couldn’t escape. I listened to nothing during class and failed every pop-quiz the teacher pulled. That night, I went out with my friend Khadijah. She wore Hijab but put on heavier makeup than I. I liked her a lot. Today, with those men on my mind, I asked her: “Khadijah, what’s the Hijab for?” She shrugged. “I think it’s for hiding your hair and to cover your beauty, but I just wear it, because my mum makes me do it.” That didn’t make sense. I knew even with the Hijab you could look beautiful. Your hair was just one of those features that made you pretty. I didn’t want a guy to judge me by my appearance, but by my heart.

From that day on, I stopped trying to look glamorous. I wanted to see, whether people still adored me. They didn’t. My mom did not like it. She told me: “Nowadays people don’t care about personality. You just have to have a good body.” I was so angry. “Then I don’t care about them either! I can live without them!” I bursted. I was right, but I still felt incomplete.

Salman came to my rescue. He said, “You said the Hijab didn’t make any sense. Let’s see, if it does.” So for the next few weeks that’s what we did – research about the Hijab. A converted Muslim talked about it on YouTube as it being an identity clarifier – a sign that this woman was to be respected. She said it represents our uniqueness from other women. There were millions of women out there on display. The ones, who are covered, were secrets and mysteries. Only after marriage their lucky husbands would uncover the mystery. It was like any other prince charming story I’d ever thought of, though it was more exciting. I read somewhere, “A pearl is pure and precious. It does not float in the sea but is hidden away in its shell, opened by only the fortunate. You, my dear sister, are the pearl, too.”

It made sense. Covering meant hiding your beauty. At the same time, Islam urges us to look clean and presentable. To our husband, we can be much more than that. My lucky husband – I smiled. It felt nice to be the pearl. “I’ve made up my mind,” I said to Salman, “I’m going to start the Hijab. It makes sense.” Salman hugged me. Dad was fine with it. Mom was not. We argued and argued. I wanted my place in the world; she said I wouldn’t get one with that cloth on my head. So I didn’t go anywhere. Not to the mall or school or anywhere else. Dad thought it had gone too far. He said mom was being paranoid. I agreed.

On a bright, sunny Monday morning I pinned up my hijab and smiled. I was the pearl now and nothing could stop me from shining. No insult, prejudice or any amount of reasoning could stop me from shining. I was pearl with a shell and that was something none could break. Not now, not ever. Insha’Allah.

Men are from Makkah and women are from Madinah

MoM-Gender-Roles-1John Gray wrote a book titled “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus”. This bestseller sold over fifty million copies worldwide. It has some valuable stuff that has saved many marriages. It emphasizes the difference between men and women. It also lays failure of relationships upon not being able to understand these gender differences. We will reflect upon this book highlighting some points worth mentioning.

Firstly, it is imperative to understand whether the differences between males and females are innate or acquired. Are they biological or learned through social interaction? It is amazing to learn that babies react differently to certain stimuli so naturally when they have not yet acquired any behavioural characteristics. Hence, certain differences are inborn and inbuilt. Cultural expectations are different from the two.

How can we build a successful relationship?

For starters, a huge hurdle is the problem of generalization, even though every single human being is unique. We are always dealing with individuals. It doesn’t harm us to appreciate that men and women think and behave differently. A word of caution is that in spite of recognizing these gender differences, we do not fall into the issue of gender conflict. For Muslims, the basis of everything is Islam. In Islam, men and women are supporters and companions to each other. Their innate nature is meant to complement one another.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (May Allah exalt his mention and protect him from imperfection) said: “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something, if you do, you love each other. Promote greeting amongst you (by saying As-salamu ‘alaikum to one another).” (Muslim)

What does love mean? It is not just a word or an emotion. It governs our behaviour. Your beloved’s well-being is connected to yours. You are unhappy, when your spouse is sad. You cannot relax, if he/she is distressed. For Muslim homes, mercy should be the pre-dominant emotion that ensures peaceful homes.

In Islam, interestingly, men and women have been treated equally and same. Women are considered to be twin half of men. Whenever Allah (swt) addresses believers, He calls out to both men and women, unless the Prophet (sa) has specifically mentioned something that is gender specific. In reality, men and women are from the same planet, and they have more in common.

Some ways that they differ could be their unique ways of reacting to stress. Men retreat to their cave. We have a supreme example in our own Messenger (sa) of that. Perturbed about the despicable state of Arabia’s affairs, he spent solitary time in Cave Hira. Men value competence and like to figure out stuff themselves. The last thing a man needs in times of stress is intervention from someone.

Women, on the other hand, like to discuss things. When they work very hard, they expect men to automatically understand what’s troubling them. And when they have no clue to their feelings, women get upset.

The Prophet (sa) used to tend to his own clothes and help at home by serving his family. He didn’t wait for his wives to break down. He acted proactively.

Similarly, when the Prophet (sa) was shocked by his experience with angel Gabriel (as) for the first time, he ran to Khadijah (rta). Men want to be trusted and appreciated. Look, how she behaved. She validated and assured him.

Lastly, it is important to note that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah (swt) based on their worship.

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at Mercy Mission, Karachi.

The Mountain Peak

jannah-paradiseHow honorable is dwelling with mates,

In Paradise and that’s indeed the best company,

How great is neighborhood to persons of repute,

They will have the pleasure of seeing the Lord,

And listen with delight to His Sublime Word,

With silk brocade being their main garment,

They have their heads crowned with finest crowns,

Inlaid with ornate pearls and rare moonstones,

Or silver that is made of only pure gold

And golden rings and bracelets molded,

Of silver and prettily adorned forearms

Their served food is soft bird meat

The finest of camel that feed on all sorts

And bowls of precious pearls and gold,

Strewn, as seventy thousand, on a thousand tables,

If you feel a thirst and desirous for these,

As much as an exile who yearns for home,

Be as charitable as you can and then you will

Be rewarded for good with that which is best

Prepare for the Gardens of Eden and all

The blessings of it that surely never cease,

Observe fast always and rise in prayer,

For both are indeed acceptable deeds,

Wake in the night and recite Qur’an,

And have little sleep as an anxious one,

Perhaps, your death knell once suddenly tolls,

Your coffin then, not bed, will be the place to rest, How great to shed tears at night,

Due to the fear of the Lord, the Ever Compassionate,

So, lower your gaze and always avoid,

Any forbidden looks and strain to be modest,

Strive and beware of all women’s temptations,

You get them as mates as many hours in Paradise,

Blessed is life there and all its pleasures,

With all kinds of fruit as served in pairs,

Belittle you never any venial sin,

As fire begins with little sparks

Once you sin, be quick to repent,

For fear of sudden death, with no delay,

Sate not your whims and never be excessive,

Allah surely hates greedy persons,

The one who gives in to lust and appetite,

Will suffer forever their two-forked yoke,

So, fast by day to drink your fill

On the day people will be parched with thirst,

There is no good at all in musical instruments,

Or dancing or similar forms of merry-making,

The devout are always afraid of their Lord,

Avoiding listening to music and singing,

They rather recite the Glorious Qur’an,

Especially with melodious and tuneful to ears,

At night, than all those flutes and fifes,

If you just perceive the Doomsday’s horrors,

You would surely flee from kinfolk and home,

Due to its horrors, the skies would crack,

The infant’s hair will turn grey,

Austere and distressful that day will be,

And highly burdensome for humans at all,

that day the devout are driven to their Lord,

With finest of mounts carrying them all,

The wretched, however, are driven to Hell,

Where they will suffer the parching thirst,

So, Heaven and Hellfire respectively will be

For the devout and wicked an eternal abode.

(Published with permission from “On the Mountain Peak” by Dr. Muhammad Al-‘Areefi. Publisher: “Darussalam”)

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Taubah

perla negraWe now begin Surah At-Taubah. Since it begins with the mention of Allah’s (swt) anger and wrath, we notice that unlike other Surahs it does not begin with Bismillah. May Allah (swt) not deprive us of His mercy and forgiveness. Ameen.

Be cautious – this world deceives

Again, there is a reminder to not to get deceived by the treasures of this world such as wealth and children. He says, So let not their wealth or their children amaze you (O Muhammad (sa)); in reality Allah’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of the this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.” (At-Taubah 9:55) May Allah (swt) make our wealth and children a source of comfort for us and means for entering Jannah. May these blessings don’t pave our way to destruction. Ameen.

Beware of mocking Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)

Then there is a warning against mocking Allah (swt), His Messenger (sa) and His verses. The hypocrites would come in Prophet’s (sa) gathering, give their verbal acknowledgement to whatever they learnt and when they met each other in private, they would confess their disagreement. Each time that happened, Allah (swt) would reveal their true condition to Prophet (sa). Sometimes, we receive jokes about heaven and hell, the angels and other matters of the Unseen. We read them and laugh with our friends and family. Allah (swt) says, “If you ask them (about this), they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allah, and His verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger (sa) that you were mocking?” (At-Taubah 9:65)

This is not something to be taken casually; read what Allah (swt) says next about such people, “Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.)” (At-Taubah 9:66) Such a person is out of the folds of Islam. A Muslim leads a conscious life; he doesn’t get carried away by what’s happening around him. Delete such a message and reply them back with this verse. It could be that they don’t even know this verse is there in the Quran.

Heedfulness or hypocrisy?

Among the many traits of hypocrites, one is that they will not leave anyone without defaming and ridiculing him in all circumstances, even those who give away charity. If, for instance, someone gives away a large amount, the hypocrites say that he is showing off. If someone gives away a small amount, they say that Allah (swt) stands not in need of this man’s charity. Al-Awfi narrates from Ibn Abbas (ra) that one day while the Prophet (sa) was collecting charity, a man brought a Sa’ of dates (a small measure of food grains). He said, “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! This is a Sa’ of dates. I spent the night bringing water and earned two Sa’ of dates for my work. I kept one Sa’ and brought you the other Sa’.” The Prophet (sa) ordered him to add it to the charity. The hypocrites standing their commented that Allah (swt) and His Messenger are not in need of such small charity. What benefit could it bring? After that, came a rich man who wanted to give four thousand Dirhams in the way of Allah (swt). About him the hypocrites said that he gave this much amount to show off. It is the characteristic of Allah (swt) that He exposes those who lie and defame His righteous believers.

Hence this verse was revealed, “Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah’s Cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allah’s Cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers), Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and they shall have a painful torment.” (At-Taubah 9:79) A small or huge contribution does not matter. What matters is the person’s sincerity and that his wealth was earned from Halal means.

Sincerity in charity

Talking about sincerity, sometimes when we want something, we passionately make Dua and put a condition in it. We say, “O Allah (swt)! If such and such happens, I will be regular in my prayers,” or “I will give some particular amount in charity.” You know what is better than this? That we make ourselves punctual in our prayers and gave Sadaqah out of our willingness rather than putting a condition on it. Why treat Allah (swt) like a baby who you can trick with a candy for getting some work done? Allah (swt) says, “And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakat and voluntary charity in Allah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous. (At-Taubah 9:75). Know that if one can cheat their Maker, they can cheat anyone. May Allah (swt) forgive us and correct what is wrong within us. Ameen.

Zakat – an obligatory charity

Allah (swt) says, “Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (At-Taubah 9:103) This command is about the obligatory charity that is Zakat. Zakat is a means for purification and increment of one’s wealth. Therefore, do not be stingy with your Zakat. How can we protect ourselves from the Fitnah of stinginess? By knowing that the wealth that Allah (swt) has given us is not ours to keep. He gave us this wealth so that we could spend it in His cause, helping the needy and the poor. Note that in the verse, the Prophet (sa) has been instructed to make Dua after collecting the Zakat. What does this teach us? It teaches us that when one is collecting donations or charity, he should make Dua for the well-being of donor. The Prophet (sa) prayed in the following words:


بَارَكَ اللهُ لَكَ فِيمَا أَمْسَكْتَ وَفِيمَا أَعْطَيْت

“May Allah bless you for what you kept and what you gave away.” (Ibn Katheer) Such a statement will act as a reassurance for the donors and encourage them to contribute in future as well. Insha’Allah.

Levels of believers

Now we learn about the levels of believers, Allah (swt) says, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:100) Look at their honour. We need to be very careful about what we say about the Companions and the righteous slaves of Allah (swt). We must ask Allah (swt) to bless us with the company of His righteous servants, so that we may aspire to raise our status in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

One is known by the company he keeps. It either guarantees one peace or snatches it away. However, good company promises goodness. An evil company only increases us in evilness. Reflect on your social circle. Are they bringing you closer to Allah (swt) or only distancing you further? If it’s the latter, do not be shy to break away from them or at least maintain minimal contact. Your Iman and Hereafter is more important than anything else in this fleeting world.

Diversity in Ummah

Then we learn about the diversity in Ummah, “And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).” (At-Taubah 9:122) Some people will go out to fight. Some will stay back to teach Quran and matters of religion. This is a great encouragement, especially for the women. Women sometimes feel their task is limited to raising children and managing the house. Allah (swt) has honoured women greatly with these responsibilities. The little Momins, Insha’Allah, will be tomorrow’s scholars and soldiers of Islam. By staying at home, you can focus on your association with the Quran, learn it, live by it and teach it to others. In Islam, no one’s role is insignificant. We make it trivial only by our thoughts. Change your thinking and reflect on your skills: How can I contribute in Allah’s (swt) way.

We have been talking about the certainty of tests in one’s life; in Surah At-Taubah Allah (swt) gives us reminders regarding afflictions. He says, “See they not that they are tried once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine, etc.)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” (At-Taubah 9:126)

Why does Allah’s (swt) test us?

The purpose is that a person may draw himself closer to Allah (swt). There is nothing more that Allah (swt) appreciates than a servant being engaged in Astaghfar. Astaghfar does not mean that you are a sinful person. The Prophet (sa), who was the best being ever lived on the earth, used to seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness 70 – 100 times a day.

Allah (swt) describes His Prophet (sa)

As we are talking about Muhammad (sa), let’s see how Allah (swt) describes him, “Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad (sa)) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he (sa) is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

Here we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Are we kind and merciful to one another?
  2. Do we grieve over the sufferings of one another?
  3. Are we concerned about one another?

Again we are reminded of good conduct. If others do not reciprocate kindness then say, “Hasbiya Allahula ilaha illa huwa alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa rabbu al-arshi al-atheem (Allah is sufficient for me. La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.)” Surah At-Taubah ends at this Dua. These words should be part of our daily remembrance of Allah (swt).

May He open up our hearts and minds to give Him our very best. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Nisa 1

pearls4Before we begin today’s Pearls of Peace, there’s a challenge for everyone reading this. The brother reciting the Quran in the Taraweeh is visually impaired, yet he has memorized the entire Quran by listening to his father and CDs. You and I have been blessed with eyes. We can see the beautiful world of Allah (swt). We can read all that we want and whatever we want. What efforts have we made to read and memorize the Book of Allah (swt)?

We now start with Surah An-Nisa, the Surah named after the women. This is the status of women in Islam. There’s an entire Surah named after the women while there’s no chapter in the Quran called Ar-Rijal (the men). In this Surah, Allah (swt) draws our attention towards the rights of a woman and warns us against usurping them.

Man vs. woman

He begins the Surah by saying, “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Hawwa (Eve)), and from them both He created many men and women.”

Allah (swt) describes the creation of mankind- from a single father and a single mother to make us feel compassionate about each other. Then, He says, “and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship).”

The mention of wombs is an indication that men and women are physically different and thus created for different purposes. Men cannot perform the roles of women and women cannot perform the roles of men. He ends the first verse by saying, “Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” meaning Allah (swt) is watching how we treat one another.

Dignity of a woman

In order to know how to treat someone, we first need to learn about their status. The woman needs to know where she stands in the Sight of her Creator. She needs to know how to carry herself without compromising on her values. She cannot give in to peer pressure and go against the commands of Allah (swt). She must live such a life that her living confirms that she is a gift from Allah (swt).

Rights of orphans

After honouring women, Allah (swt) talks about another stratum of the society which is weak, but its status before Allah (swt) is really high. These are the orphans. Allah (swt) chose for his Last Messenger to be an orphan, and throughout the Quran we find many verses that remind us to be kind to this weak stratum of society and give them their rights.

In our society, when the father passes away, others relatives come and take charge over the wealth of the orphan children. While they are to act as custodians until the children attain the age of maturity, the guardians do not return them their wealth or they cheat them by understating their property. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!” (An-Nisa 4:10). The wealth of this world is not worth trading our peace and contentment for it. A person who cheats others cannot live a peaceful life.

Rights of women

There’s another type of cheating that is done at the time of marriage. Men don’t give their brides the bridal gift known as Mahr. Allah (swt) says, “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart…” (An-Nisa 4:4).

Women are often too shy to demand for it themselves; therefore Allah (swt) has made it a duty of the husbands to gift it to them. In Islam, a woman is a queen. When she is small she is looked after by the father. As she grows up and is married off, it becomes the duty of the husband to look after her needs. In absence of a father and a husband, the closest Mahram relations look after her. Allah (swt) gives women rights so that she is not treated as a commodity; as it used to happen in the ignorant days. In the pagan days, the male relatives would inherit the woman along with all her wealth. Allah (swt) says what belongs to woman remains with her.

Islamic law of inheritance

In verses 11 and 12, Allah (swt) informs us about the exact proportions of inheritance to be distributed among heirs. Some people say in Islam women are oppressed, they get less of what men receive.

We must acknowledge that the system of Allah (swt) is based on justice, as He says, “These are the limits (set by) Allah (or ordainments as regards laws of inheritance), and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (as)) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success..” (An-Nisa 4:13)

Consequences of defiance

One who follows the commands of Allah (swt) will attain peace in this life and the next. On the contrary, the one who finds flaws in Allah’s (swt) system can never live in peace in this life, and in the next he will face torment. This is what Allah (swt) talks about in the verse right after this, And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (as), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:14)

By warning us of the consequences, it is clear that Allah (swt) wants the best for us. Let’s understand this through an example. A mother tells her children to do something and at the same time tells the repercussions of not following her instructions. She tells them, “If you do this I will give you such-and-such gift, but if you don’t do this, then watch out.” The mother does not want to hurt her children; however, it is in their best interests that she warns  them beforehand. Allah (swt) wants the best for us. He does not want us to suffer in this life or the next; therefore He has explained us the repercussions of not following His commands beforehand. May He allow us to surrender to His commands. Ameen.

Share of a woman

To briefly touch up on the share a woman gets, let’s look at what Allah (swt) says, “…if (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is half.” (An-Nisa 4:11) No male takes this much percentage of wealth. Before we use our tongues to declare something ordained by Allah (swt), we must understand the Shariah. How can something that has been decided by Allah (swt) be wrong? The problem is that we value human opinions more than what Allah (swt) tells us. And this is the reason to why we have lost our peace.

Repentance – a peaceful move!

Some of us may have committed something wrong in our lives. We might not have given others their rights, mistreated orphans or spoken bad words about Allah’s (swt) laws. This brings us to repentance. Repentance is accepted only for those who do wrong in ignorance and then repent soon after. Allah (swt) says, “And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:18)

Our dilemma is that we like to delay things till the last minute. Look at how do we treat our prayers. When the Muezzin gives a call for prayer, and that is when we get up for ablution. By then, we are left with little time to reach the Masjid and stand in the first row. Some of us delay our prayers to the point when only a few minutes are left for it to expire and that is when we get up for prayer. Will such a prayer be accepted? Likewise, a person who has been delaying repentance until the time he meets the angel of death, will his repentance be accepted? All of us want the best in this life, then why do we offer Allah (swt) a very poor quality of deeds? May Allah (swt) protect us and help us realize our mistakes. Ameen.


Review: The Forgotten Queens of Islam


Fatima Mernissi is a controversial figure in traditional Islamic circles. Her book Forgotten Queens is not for the faint hearts as Mernissi challenges traditionally held views about what it means for a woman to rule and a detailed discussion about the definition of ‘queen’ and the definition of a ruler.

Mernissi’s introduction “Was Benazir the first?” is very thought provoking, “…Either women heads of states never existed…or in the past there have been women who led Muslim states, but have been rubbed out of official history.” She claims that this book does not redefine the Muslim women’s role, but simply challenges the premise that there were no women ever who ruled, and explores in what capacity they ruled. Forgotten Queens takes the reader through 15 centuries of colourful history, interpreted through a woman’s eye.

The book is divided into three parts, part one is titled “Queens and Courtesans’. Courtesans were a reality during many Caliphates, where the rulers maintained harems, which by their very nature are contradictory to Islamic teachings. Mernissi, describes how women here wielded power that affected the Caliph. Part two is called ‘Sovereignty in Islam’ and deals with the definition of sovereignty. The part I found interesting was the chapter dedicated to ‘Fifteen Queens’. These include a look at all the Muslims Dynasties and their ‘first women’, so to say. Finally part three is dedicated to ‘The Arab Queens’, and has historical information about the dynasties in Yemen, Cairo and the Queen of Sheba.

Besides the historical aspect, the book sheds light on a modern phenomenon, that women have become generally more educated than men. In the past, the women Mernissi talks about faced similar situations. Being more educated, maybe more capable, but excluded from politics and public life, how do Muslim women make their voice heard? That is the fundamental question I asked myself as I read the book.

“There is no feminine form of the word ‘imam’ or ‘caliph’, the two words embody the concept of power in the Arabic language…How did the women of former times manage such an achievement…In many Muslim countries there is a sort of acceptance of democracy…Muslim women going to the voting booth…Nevertheless, rare are institutions in which women figure.”

Though the historical aspect of the book is enjoyable, the conclusion is disturbing. Mernissi concludes, “…Believers do not have the right to say or write what they want, and especially what comes to their head….” My objection to this is that part of my Iman is obeying Allah and His prophet (sa) without question. A caliph cannot be a woman, no matter how accomplished, that is an irrefutable fact. Challenging traditional roles, which are in fact based on Islam and its code of conduct, is also not acceptable. So, ignoring Mernissi’s philosophical debate, the historical aspect of the book is worth your time. I would like to conclude saying that reading literature and learning to be critical is an essential skill for a Muslim. This is the reason why this book is recommended.

Forgotten Queens can be downloaded in .pdf format at: