I Lost My Friend

Jul 10 - I lost my friendBy Darakhshan Siddiqui

The dilemma started when I was unable to get myself registered in any medical college. Disheartened and disappointed, I decided to do something ‘more challenging,’ and, to my utter surprise, I cleared the ‘aptitude test’ and embarked on a long journey to become a chartered accountant. Clearing six papers in one ago is not easy at all – it requires hard work, patience and a great deal of good luck.

My friend Suqaina had come from Hyderabad. She was much more determined and energetic, as she was paying a high price for leaving her parents and siblings and being alone here, in Karachi. She was the eldest one, always looking forward to weekends as she then got a chance to visit her very amiable family, especially her siblings, who used to wait anxiously for the small token gifts she got for them.

She was usually the first one to enter the library and the last one to leave. Her hard work bore fruit, and she cleared her first level at the first attempt.

Our final examination of the second level was about to commence, when she asked me to recommend a renowned urologist in Karachi. The examination schedule was announced and she somehow managed to appear for all the papers. She cleared that level too, remarking that it was all due to her mother’s prayers. I forgot about her ailment, as I was struggling harder to clear the second level.

Suddenly, I received the shocking news of her death. I was told that she was misdiagnosed in a local Hyderabad hospital, and passed away after being given the wrong treatment for almost two weeks.

I tried hard to combat the depression, but the worn out pages of my accounting books had become meaningless. Her sudden death had made me realize the ultimate truth of the mortality of my life and this world. From that day I accepted this reality that any day could be my last day, in this materialistic world. I started asking myself: “Am I ready to face Him (swt) at this very moment? What is the purpose of my existence?” Have I ever made any effort to find out what my Creator, the most Beneficent wants to tell me through His Book, the Holy Quran? Have I ever made any deliberate effort to learn, implement or spread the light of righteousness through it?

I realized that one day I will be questioned, for that ever increasing long term loan in the form of countless and countless blessings from Him, the Almighty Allah (swt) to whom we all have to return.

May Allah (swt) grant Suqaina a place in Jannah. (Ameen)

Online versus Offline Selves

Vol 7 - Issue 1 online VS offlineBy Iqra Asad

“Internet: absolute communication, absolute isolation.” (Paul Carvel)

People are multi-layered. At the core everyone has a solid base, but they rearrange themselves on the outside to fulfill their many roles in life. Obviously, you cannot put on your family-time-face to go to work, neither is it healthy to carry your professional workplace attitude back at home. Similarly, when people translate their blood-and-flesh personalities into Internet form, there is a certain extent to which their digital version differs from their everyday selves. In order to illustrate this phenomenon in today’s youth, several Internet users have painted the picture by describing three ways, in which their online and offline selves are different.

Aisha Raees, anime fan and O Levels student

  1. My offline self has different facades when meeting people. But my facades vanish on the Internet, and I pour out my worries to my net pals.
  2. One may not find friends with similar interests in real life, but the Internet is full of people of every kind! One can easily share opinions, views, etc., with them.
  3. Then there is the thing of advice. You can easily find people on the Internet who may be complete strangers, but they can help you out! Whereas in reality there are many times one has nobody to turn to!

Faizan Zafar, 20, doing SSE at LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences)

My online self probably looks more impressive than my real self because:

  1. When online, we tend to use emoticons [smiley faces, etc.] too often. I now try to avoid using them, unless I honestly mean and feel them.
  2. Also because I get time to think and ponder over things and thus write out my answers in a proper and formal method.
  3. I’m trying to reduce the differences. I feel more confident on the Internet, no doubt, but I try to keep it restrained and chat with people only if I feel I would have chatted with them anyway, had they been standing nearby.

Arsh Azim, student of Bachelors

Online self

  1. I make fewer friends.
  2. I don’t share my secrets with them.
  3. I confuse people but also let them enjoy my presence.

Offline self

  1. I make many friends.
  2. I am open.
  3. I am possessive about my real friends.

Ammar Shafique, student at PAC (Professional Academy of Commerce)

On the Internet

  1. You talk to people you haven’t met since 1874.
  2. You don’t really show emotions online.
  3. You can act fake; you can lie.

Sundus Iftikhar, A’Level student at UCL (University College Lahore)

  1. Through the Internet, I know what is going on in my acquaintances’ lives. That provides material for online conversation, so I am friendlier with them and talk more confidently.
  2. Offline, I trust people, so I confide in them more easily and am a blabbermouth. If someone asks me something, I can’t hide my emotions or lie. On the Internet, I can’t tell what the other person is feeling; also, I have time to think before I speak, so I am more careful and share less.
  3. I have much more fun talking with friends in person instead of ’chatting’ with them via an online instant messaging service. Chatting is a words-only thing, so I feel limited. In direct interaction, I can express all those things, which are beyond the world of words.

Poll Questions

Fifty youths, ranging in age from mid-teens to early twenties, were polled regarding the online/offline divide.

1. Do you think people’s online behaviour differs from their offline one?

a) Yes – 82%

b) No – 18%

2. Do you get more out of an online or an offline conversation?

a) Online – 52%

b) Offline – 48%

3. Where do you express yourself better?

a) Online – 48%

b) Offline – 52%

4. In which life are you more open and expressive? (i.e., which life shows more of you to others?)

a) Online – 46%

b) Offline – 54%

5. A greater number of which of the following know the real you?

a) Online contacts – 10%

b) People you have met face-to-face – 90%

Let us end with this consideration: when is the online-offline divide the greatest? It happens when the Internet becomes an emotional lifeline, and people find online substitutes for things that are much more fulfilling in their offline forms, like friends and confidantes. Having a physically present shoulder to cry on is better than confiding in someone online, but what if you cannot find such a shoulder among your parents, siblings or friends? Are you – as a parent, child, sibling or friend – communicating properly with people in your life, or are you contributing to the online-offline divide? The Prophet (sa) said: “If any one of you loves his brother, then he should inform him.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Connecting with the Quran

Vol 6 - Issue 4 Connecting with the QuranBy J. Samia Mair

I have read several different English translations of the Quran. Although I get immense pleasure and spiritual growth reading a translation, I always feel that I am missing so much, because I cannot read Arabic. The Quran cannot be translated properly because of the depth of the Arabic language. In addition, there are spiritual benefits associated with reciting the Quran, even without understanding.

Despite knowing that reciting and memorizing the Quran has many virtues, for a long time the thought of learning Tajweed was extremely intimidating to me. I would pick up a copy of the Quran, see a page full of unrecognizable symbols, and view the task as impossible. I did not have much trouble memorizing the shorter Surahs for prayers, but I feared that I would never move much beyond that point. I was wrong.

The Quran is accessible even for non-Arabic speakers. I have turned to the Quran in many different ways over the years. Now, I have a study programme that seems to be working. A few suggestions are below:

  1. Make reading the Quran a priority. We all have busy lives, family responsibilities and a million other things to do. However, put Quranic study at the top of the list.
  2. Focus first on learning to read and recite the Quran and then understanding. Having spent about $200 on Arabic books,I realized that I need to rethink my goals. My goal was to learn to read and recite the Quran, even if I did not understand it. Learning the Arabic language was slowing me down.
  3. Set realistic short-term goals. You know yourself better than anyone else. Set short-term goals that are realistic for you. For example, if you do not know the Arabic alphabet, give yourself enough time to learn it well. Meanwhile, continue to memorize shorter Surahs, even if it is just one Ayah a week.
  4. Have good intentions. According to many scholars, several Ahadeeth suggest that if you intend to do something good – e.g., memorize the Quran – and die before completing it, that intention will be completed in the grave. Thus, when you stand in front of Allah (swt), you will have memorized the Quran.
  5. Develop a study plan and be consistent. “The best deed (act of worship) in the sight of Allah (swt) is that, which is done regularly.” (Bukhari) I try to read the Quran, memorize a little and read the translation and accompanying commentary every day.
  6. Choose study materials carefully. The following are the best materials that I have found for beginners. The CD set Ahlul Quran Gear (by Haroon Baqai) is wonderful for learning the last half of the 30th Juz. Shaykh Baqai recites the Surahs slowly, verse by verse, leaving time for the listener to repeat after him. In addition, I use a textbook Juz Amma: 30 (by Abidullah Ghazi). Each Surah has a Latin transliteration and is broken down into its Arabic vocabulary.
  7. Find a Tajweed teacher. It is essential to have someone check your pronunciation and teach you how to read the Quran properly. If I could afford it, I would constantly be enrolled in a Tajweed class.
  8. Make Dua for success. Nothing is accomplished without Allah’s (swt) Will. Have sincere intentions and ask Allah (swt) to help you in this most noble endeavour.

Although I have a long way to go, before I can read the Quran fluently, I am no longer intimated by the task. Now, I enjoy the process and look forward to that special time during the day, when I feel even closer to Allah (swt).

As Abba Left to Meet his Rabb (swt)

Vol 6 - Issue 3 As abba leftMy father left this temporary world in his final journey on Friday, the 24th of Shaban, 1428 AH (September 7, 2007), by the will of Allah (swt).

Alhumdulillah that Allah (swt) gave us such a wonderful and amazing person as my father – generous, kind, wise, always forgiving and ready to accept his own faults – a man, who dearly loved Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). Every time he went somewhere, he would bring something for me – Islamic books, copies of the Quran and Tafseer. Those are the gifts I cherish most of all. It is difficult to pick the best times – I owe something to him for every moment and all good things. He loved Fridays, and every Friday he would recite verses from Surah Al-Jumuah and explain (as he knew Arabic very well), how we must leave our worldly matters and rush towards Dhikr, when the call for Salah-ul-Jumuah is made. Alhamdulillah, he died on a Friday.

He was suffering from a painful and prolonged heart disease for about two years, yet Allah (swt) let him be mobile, mentally alert and independent till the end, for what He (swt) gave him was an unusual will power and a positive attitude.

Alhumdulillah, one of my sisters and I were with him, when he was leaving this world to meet Allah (swt). It is said in the Quran: “And it will be said: ‘Who can cure him and save him from death?’” (Al-Qiyamah 75:27) Shortly before he passed away, he asked: “Is there any medicine that can help me breathe comfortably?”

Allah’s (swt) Deen is the biggest Rahmah. One often realizes it when facing a trial. The Hadeeth which tells us that ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ are from Shaitan is such a blessing; otherwise, we would keep going over what we could have done to save him. The Quran tells us that every trial and every joy is from Allah (swt). No one can benefit or harm us, unless He (swt) wills.

When a single thorn pierces a Mumin, only Allah’s (swt) mercy helps us wash away sins. Rasoolullah (sa) also suffered the pain of Naza, and we will also have to go through it.

We can hope to meet our father in Jannah, Insha’Allah, if Allah (swt) forgives us in His (swt) infinite mercy. We can help him with our Duas, Sadaqah and other good deeds that we perform as his children.

Although we have settled down and have a wonderful mother, we still experience sadness and emptiness like never before. Besides, Rasoolullah (sa) wept, when he lost his dear ones. This pain is only natural, and Sabr has its reward.

However, I am still thinking what I should have done. I am thinking about instances, when I failed in my duty as a daughter. It’s never enough, no matter what you do for your parents. When you lose someone, you suddenly grow up. You start realizing what you’ve lost – their quiet backing, support, selfless love and Duas – and you know nothing can ever replace that.

May Allah (swt) shower His Rahmah on our parents and forgive the Muslimeen, Ameen. Do remember Abba in your Duas.

Expect More!

Ayesha Nasir narrates how some of the teen attractions in this world will find expression in Jannah.

As a child, I was always fascinated by the descriptions of Jannah my parents presented before me. I underwent a thrill thinking of this unknown realm, which I had yet to discover – a land more beautiful than the pictures in my storybooks.

The Quran speaks a lot regarding the pleasures of today and compares them to those of the Hereafter. “And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (polytheists and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), the splendour of the life of this world that We may test them thereby. But the provision (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord is better and more lasting.” (Ta-Ha 20:131)

The joys of this world are nothing compared to those of Jannah. The Prophet (sa) said: “A space the size of a whip in Paradise is better than this world and all that is in it.” (Bukhari)

Partners

The dwellers of Jannah will have companions with them. There will be no need for worrying about marriage – a dilemma that the youth of today constantly faces. Instead, Allah (swt) will assign His servants the best of partners. “They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones.” (Yasin 36:56)

The Prophet (sa) described the women of Jannah very beautifully: “If one of the women of Paradise were to look at the people of this world, everything in between them would be lit up and filled with her fragrance. The veil on her head is better than this world and everything in it.” (Bukhari)

No Brands Needed

Our world has much to offer, but Jannah has in store the unimaginable. Today, we dress with the labels of our time, with the best clothing that money can offer and with the comfort of wearing decent clothes. Unfortunately, today we are judged by the clothes we put on. In Jannah, there will be nothing of this sort. The clothing of its inhabitants is from silk and gold of the finest quality.

Muslim teenagers undergo a lot of stress because of the accessories they have. Today’s ‘normal’ teen has lots of makeup to put on and lots of glam to portray.

A dweller of Jannah, be it a man or a woman, does not have to worry about such things. The dweller’s mind is free from complexes and confusions. The believers are so pure that they do not need gold or silver to be adorned, though there will be enough of these in the hereafter. “They will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk.” (Al-Hajj 22:23)

No Aging

I laugh at the creams, which claim to remove your wrinkles and make you look younger. In Jannah, there will be no need of hiding your age, because everyone will be in the prime of their youth. Describing the dweller of Jannah, the Prophet (sa) says: “He will remain there forever and never die; his clothes will never wear out, and his youth will never fade”. (Bukhari)

The faces of the inhabitants of Jannah will be like the image of the moon. There will be tranquility in their expressions, and Noor pouring from them as they speak.

Food and Shelter for All

For the person, who worries about his job, family and future – there is nothing of that sort to worry about in Jannah. There is shelter for all believers, food for everyone and, most importantly, a place in Jannah, for those who strive for it.

“But those who fear Allah and keep their duty to their Lord (Allah), for them are built lofty rooms; one above another under which rivers flow (i.e. Paradise). (This is) the Promise of Allah: and Allah does not fail in (His) Promise.” (Az-Zumar 39:20)

The dwellers of Jannah will have food far more delicious than anything we have ever tasted. “Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them, (there will be) therein all that the one’s inner-selves could desire, all that the eyes could delight in, and you will abide therein forever.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:71) 

No Worldly Fears

We often worry about the results we would get of all the hard work we do. We worry whether the teacher will mark the assignment well, or whether the boss will find our report satisfactory.

These are trivial things, if we look at it from a different perspective. In Jannah, you will be in eternal bliss, because you have achieved the purpose of your being – attaining Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

“…and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) 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)

Jannah is free from all the disappointments and fears we face in this world. The Lord will be in control of everything. There will the sense of security and belonging.

Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And We shall remove from their breasts any deep feeling of bitterness (that they may have). (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones.” (Al-Hijr 15:47)

Meeting of the Dwellers

What fascinates me most is that the believers will meet those that went before them – those that they only heard about: the Sahabahs, the Prophet (sa) and, most importantly, Allah (swt).

Imagine the exultant joy of the believers, when they will finally meet their Lord! Imagine the tears that will pour out of their eyes and the awe that will confound them. Allah (swt) clearly states: “Some faces that Day shall be Nadirah (shining and radiant). Looking at their Lord (Allah).” (Al-Qiyamah 75:22-23)

Conclusion

What Allah (swt) has kept hidden from us (the delights of Paradise) is beyond our ability to comprehend; the Prophet (sa) said that Allah (swt) said: “I have prepared for My slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart can imagine.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) compared this earth with the Hereafter: “By Allah, this world in comparison with the Hereafter is nothing more than as if one of you put his finger (and he motioned with his forefinger) in the sea; let him see, how much water he would retrieve.” (Muslim)

The pleasures of this world are temporary and will fade away. This life is like a lonely boat caught in a storm – it has no idea where to go; there is no shore for it to land on. One day, the storms will engulf it, and it will fade from the face of the earth as a mere junk of wood. Whereas the Hereafter is like the arrival of this boat upon a safe shore – its purpose complete, once and for all. Praise be to Allah (swt), Lord of the worlds!

Misguide ‘em Young

By Naureen Aqueel and Aisha Nasir

Youth may be crazy and wild, but they are also passionate, energetic and strong-willed. This is exactly what Satan realizes. Hence, he very cleverly schemes to add this ‘valuable human resource’ to his party. Because of strong emotions, desires and uncertainties that beset this stage of life, youth become vulnerable targets of Satan’s attacks. Therefore, it becomes ever more important for them to recognize some of the following avenues, by which Satan approaches them.

Deception: Sugar-coated Evil

Allah (swt) repeatedly mentions in the Quran that Satan deceives the mankind by making false promises and arousing false desires. He will promise you that no one will find out, if you sneak out; he will guarantee enjoyment, if you attend that college concert; he will promise you that there is nothing wrong with attending that dance party or hanging out with friends of the opposite gender. He will give you a thousand reasons, why it is just innocent fun, the ‘in-thing’, fashion and a means of getting a good message to different people. “Why not?” he’ll say, “you can do a lot of Dawah, while gossiping with non-Mahram friends or attending that concert!”

Allah (swt) describes these justification labels with the following words:

“… but Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” (An-Nahl 16:63)

Fear of People

Satan threatens you with loss of friends and your standing in society, if you obey Allah (swt). What will people say, if you don the Hijab? What will your friends and relatives say, if you decline that invitation to your cousin’s Dholki? Won’t your peers make fun of you, if you don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend? Satan injects the fear of rejection and isolation, of being made fun of into the heart, feeding on it gradually, until it grows big enough to make you take several wrong steps, just because you are afraid of what people would say, if you didn’t.

Just Once

“What’s the harm of one puff of a cigarette? Or one puff of shisha? Once won’t harm you!”

How many times do you hear voices like these in your head? Put up your defenses – it’s Satan clean and clear! One song, one movie… one, one! And you won’t even notice, when that one becomes a few dozens more, turning into a habit. Allah (swt) calls this gradual process ‘following the footsteps of Satan’.

Carpe Diem

“Seize the day! Enjoy life! Make the best of this moment! You live only once!”

The theory behind this idea is that you should enjoy life to its fullest. Why? Because this is the only life you have! Wikipedia describes Carpe diem as ‘seize the day.’ Satan makes the youth feel that this is a time of enjoyment with no limits, and that this time will not come again, so one should enjoy it to the fullest. There’s plenty of time to be good in old age! Right? Wrong!

Allah (swt) likes the worship in the young age the best. Among the seven under the shade of Allah’s (swt) throne on the Day of Judgement will be the person, who worshipped Allah (swt) in his youth. Besides, who can be sure, when this life may end? So why should we delay being good for the old age?

Some of the other ways Satan approaches the youth includes causing one to forget Allah (swt) and other important things (Al-Mujadilah 58:19); causing one to backslide from their responsibilities, as he did to Muslims in the battle of Uhud (An-Nahl 3:155); inducing laziness; and causing one to dispute about Allah (swt) without knowledge (Al-Hajj 22:3).

However, Allah (swt) in His infinite mercy has taught us many ways to avoid the snares of Satan. It’s important to know the ways he comes to you, and then to seek refuge against him in Allah (swt). Satan had said: when he was expelled from the heaven, that he would not be able to misguide Allah’s faithful servants. So take up your most powerful defenses from today – Taqwa and Dua!

Following the Sunnah is as Easy as…

By Hafsa Ahsan

Did you know that whenever you smile at or greet someone who visits your home you are following the Sunnah? Did you know you are also following it when you cook something nice and send some of it to your neighbour? Yes, some of the Sunnah practices are as easy as that.

It is quite a sorry state of affairs that the Sunnah practices in general are regarded as something very difficult to follow. And from that misconception arises another very gross conclusion – there is no need to follow these traditions. On the contrary, there are many practices which are quite simple to implement in one’s practical life, and some of those are as follows:

The Right Side

One of the main Sunnah practices to implement is to do everything from the right side first, for instance, eating and drinking with the right hand, putting on clothes from the right side first, stepping out of the washroom with the right foot forward first, walking into the mosque with the right foot first, sleeping on the right side, etc.

Narrated by Aisha (rta): “The Prophet (sa) used to love to start doing things from the right side whenever possible in performing ablution, putting on his shoes and combing his hair.” (Bukhari)

The interesting scientific benefit of sleeping on the right side is that it avoids undue pressure on the heart, which is on the left side. In fact, doing everything with the right hand has the scientific logic that since the heart is on the left side, doing things with the left hand will put pressure on the heart.

Eating habits

Sunnah practices while eating involve taking smaller portions, smaller bites, chewing properly, not reclining while eating and not criticizing any food.

Narrated by Abu Juhaifa (rta): “Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: ’I do not take my meals while leaning (against something).’” (Bukhari)

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The Prophet (sa) never criticized any food (he was invited to), but he used to eat it if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked it.” (Bukhari)

Scientific evidence shows that eating while reclining leads to the food not being digested properly. Similarly, taking smaller bites and chewing thoroughly helps in digestion.

Saying ‘Bismillah’ before doing anything

This is one of the easiest practices one can follow. Saying ‘Bismillah’ ensures that one does not do something which would bring about Allah’s (swt) displeasure. Moreover, one actually is rewarded for doing that particular task.

Narrated by Wahb Ibn Kaisan Abi Nuaim (rta): “A meal was brought to Allah’s Apostle (swt), while his step-son Umar Ibn Abi Salamah was with him. Allah’s Apostle (swt) said to him: “Mention the Name of Allah and eat of the dish which is nearer to you.’” (Bukhari)

Good intentions

Making intention pure before embarking on any task ensures reward for that task. For instance, if you’re cooking with the intention of fulfilling your rights towards your family members, or visiting an old relative purely for Allah’s (swt) pleasure, there is no reason why you won’t be amply rewarded.

Narrated by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta): “I heard Allah’s Apostle (sa) saying: ‘The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” (Bukhari)

Drinking habits

Sunnah drinking habits include having a drink while sitting, drinking water in three breaths, not drinking directly from the water jug and not breathing into the water vessel.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The Prophet (sa) forbade the drinking of water directly from the mouth of a water skin.” (Bukhari)

Before going to sleep

Narrated by Jabir (rta): “Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: ‘Extinguish the lamps, when you go to bed; close your doors; tie the mouths of your water skins and cover the food and drinks.’ I think he added, ‘…even with a stick you place across the container.’” (Bukhari)

So there you have it. Following the Sunnah practices requires only some degree of effort initially, but the rewards are numerous. All you need to do is to remind yourself that not only are these practices beneficial for you in your everyday life (as has been proven by modern science), but following them will also earn you rewards in this world as well as in the Hereafter. So make a firm resolve to start these very basic practices from today.

Plans Busted

Vol 5 - Issue 3 Plans BustedThere have been times, when we wanted to indulge into something truly terrible. Whether it was watching an adult film behind closed doors, lying to our parents about something we should not have done or simply defying our well-defined boundaries as an impulsive and rebellious act.

This is followed by feelings of guilt, a sense of shame, anger, self justifications or even tears. An awkward feeling nags us and the fear of being exposed haunts us. If this describes you, say – Alhumdulillah!

Allah (swt) has granted everyone with Fitrah or in more popular terms – conscience. Oxford dictionary describes the word ‘conscience’ as a person’s sense of what is right and wrong, especially in his own actions or motives. Allah (swt) states: “… Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright.” (Ta-Ha 20:50).

The conscience implanted within us is our barometer for right and wrong. This barometer apprehends us before we are about to commit an evil act. At times it keeps nagging us, while committing an undesirable act. Our conscience denies us rest even after we have perpetrated evil. It continues to prick us, till either we ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness or willingly shut all doors to guidance.

It is similar to a limb, which experiences an anguish of pain when pricked or burnt. Similarly, Allah (swt) has created us to recognize evil and repel it. This is a natural instinct. No amount of self-persuasion, media campaigns, peer pressure, etc., can lead us to believe that evil is good for us and Satan is a sincere friend. Those of us, who try to delude themselves, are only kidding themselves. Deep inside they know that once the delusion is over, they will be left with regrets.

The fuel that ignites a conscience to life includes many things, such as reciting and reflecting upon the Quran, reading about the life of the Prophet (sa) and his companions, spending time with friends of noble mannerisms, serving those in need and hastening to do good. In general, the more one stays close to an environment conducive to goodness, the easier it is for him to enjoin good and forbid evil, thus keeping his conscience alive.

Conversely, reading and viewing lewd material, spending time in the company of morally corrupt companions, staying away from Allah (swt) and His counsel and ignoring one’s conscience’s reprimands ultimately kills the sense of right and wrong. Allah forbid that one should reach the stage, when nothing bothers him. His future is jeopardized.

About such people, Allah (swt) states: “Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with faith but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a great torment. That is because they loved and preferred the life of this world over that of the Hereafter. And Allah guides not the people who disbelieve. They are those upon whose hearts, hearing (ears) and sight (eyes) Allah has set a seal. And they are the heedless! No doubt in the Hereafter they will be the losers.” (An-Nahl 16:106-109)

Having a throbbing conscience full of life has uncountable advantages. One may be about to indulge in something sinful, when suddenly he feels he is turned around and consequently saved from evil. Who does that for us? It is Allah (swt). Similarly, at times we avoid the voice of conscience and step into forbidden territory only to abort our actions midway, realizing the unpleasant outcome. Who puts those thought into our minds? It is Allah (swt) Who grants us the strength to fight against our whims and desires and steers us back to the right path.

Once, someone told me, how she went out on a date with her fiancé and wanted to find a private place for some romance, but wherever they went, their plans got busted. Finally, they drove back home and had to settle down for a chat in the girl’s drawing room under her parent’s vigilant eyes. Today, she thanks Allah (swt) for foiling her plans. It saved her self-respect and dignity.

Another person, who had given up watching movies, was once tempted to go to the theater to watch one of the most hyped block busters. She made plans, but suddenly something came up. By the time she remembered, the show was over. She instantly realized that Allah (swt) didn’t want her to give in to her vain desires. She didn’t go to the theater ever again.

Countless episodes happen to people every day: they wanted to listen to music – the power went out; they wanted to fight with a classmate – she didn’t turn up in college that day; they wanted to gossip on the cell – the balance finished; they wanted to go on a shopping spree – the car was not available. Yes, these are all different ways of Allah (swt) saving us from wasting our lives in frivolous activities. We just need to understand, why our plans got busted.

On the contrary, Allah (swt) also provides us with countless opportunities to do good. For example, the Adhan call, which we hear five times a day, reminds us of prayers, the poor people on the road relieve us of our responsibility of Zakah, a missing servant helps us share our mom’s work load without her asking us, a sick friend gives us the chance to get photocopied class work to his / her house, etc.

So the next time one of your plans get busted, just say: “Alhumdulillah! Allah (swt) loves me and He wants to guide me.”

“He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no Wali (guiding friend) to lead him (to the right path).” (Al-Kahf 18:17)

So that you can fly

Vol 5 - Issue 2 So that you can flyBy Umm Isam and Alia Adil

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared – he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly.

He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly, expecting the wings to enlarge and expand at any moment to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are Allah’s (swt) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight, once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life.
If Allah (swt) allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could. Not only that – we would never be able fly.

Another important factor to realize is that Allah (swt) never places on us a burden heavier than our might. If life throws a challenge our way, we should be convinced in our heart that we can handle it; otherwise, we would not have encountered it. After all, Allah (swt) has created us and knows our level of strength.

Struggles are also a trial from Allah (swt) to test, which one of us loses hope and wanes away, and which one stands firm, praying to Allah (swt) earnestly and moving on with determination. They know that Allah (swt) is always on the side of those, who face struggles head on and fight with all the resources and courage they can muster, praying to Allah (swt) for help and triumph. “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise.” (Fatir 35:15)

Finally, Allah (swt) promises: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief…” (Ash-Sharh)

Another significant issue to understand is the concept of relief. To us, mortals, relief may mean regaining lost wealth, recovering from a terrible disease or winning back friends lost in a quarrel. In other words, returning to a previous state of life, which was disrupted due to a sudden change.

With His infinite wisdom, Allah (swt) views circumstances differently. He knows the unforeseen and thus decides, what is best for us, so long as we place our trust in Him, submitting to His will. This means that people may stay poor following a financial loss or die from a disease, or never patch up with lost friends. This may be relief from Allah (swt) – if our being rich or living, or socializing with certain friends would have led us to a disaster in this world and in the Akhirah (Hereafter).

Sometimes, relief comes in ways that benefits us instantly, the results of which can be witnessed, whereas at other times, relief cannot be comprehended immediately. We just have to pray to Allah (swt) to help us understand and be patient with His decision. Relief is always on its way – it is Allah’s (swt) promise!

Help! I Don’t Remember Who I am!

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Help Who i amSeven years back at the Kuala Lumpur Airport, as I was heading towards the immigration, a young oriental girl approached me hesitantly and asked: “Excuse me, can you help me? You see, I have two bottles of liquor with me and I believe they only permit one per non-Muslim passenger. Can you carry the second bottle for me through customs?” I blinked at her silently and finally found my voice: “I am sorry but I can’t do that. I am a Muslim.”

Another year I travelled to Singapore for a conference. At our official dinners, they served pork and liquor. Naturally, I didn’t partake of it. The rest of my colleagues were non-Muslims, so they enjoyed it. However, they were surprised to learn that I was a Muslim.

Some years later during a shopping spree in Dubai, I was preparing for Salaah, but as I approached the ladies prayer area, a woman asked me suspiciously: “Are you a Muslim?” I stammered: “Y… yes, why are you asking?” She didn’t comment. But her look said: “If I hadn’t found you in this prayer area, I wouldn’t have ever known.”

I was beginning to feel very disturbed that I was not being identified as a Muslim. What was it that I was doing wrong? Slowly the answers started emerging. And at first I didn’t like them at all.

To me there wasn’t much of a difference between a believer’s lifestyle and a disbeliever’s life pattern. In fact, I was closer to their culture than my own. I spoke their language, dressed like them, watched their films, listened to their music, read their books and magazines and enjoyed their shows. I was thinking and behaving like them.

I knew much about the first president of the USA but vaguely anything about our first Caliph. I slept through Eid but never failed to celebrate the Christmas and the New Year with my Muslim as well as non-Muslim friends.

I knew, how many girlfriends my favourite film star had dumped, but didn’t know any of the Azwaj-e-Mutaharat (our Prophet’s (sa) wives). I was proud to know, what my favourite pop singer had for breakfast, but had hardly any idea of what our Prophet’s (sa) favourite cuisine had been.

I was one of the all-encompassing Muslims, for whom it was enough to state ‘Islam’ as their religion, when asked in some official document. It wasn’t important to look like a Muslim, think like a Muslim or even behave like one. I had gotten by so far by avoiding alcohol and pork. Wasn’t that enough?

But then one day I read: “O you who believe! If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) as losers.” (Al-Imran 4:149)

 

This Ayat was supported by Allah’s Messenger’s (sa) Hadeeth: “Anybody (from among the Muslims) who meets, gathers together, lives and stays (permanently) with a Mushrik (polytheist or disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) and agrees to his ways, opinions and (enjoys) his living with him (Mushrik), then he (that Muslim) is like him (Mushrik).” (Abu Dawood)

No matter how bad a Muslim I had been, I knew well enough, where the Mushriks, or disbelievers, were heading after their death, and I didn’t want to go there with them. Besides, if I followed them blindly, who would pull them out of their disbelief and save them from the Hellfire?

That’s when it dawned on me that I am not just a Muslim to save myself. I have been sent to this world with a mission to save those, who don’t understand Allah’s (swt) message or whom it hasn’t reached yet. The Prophet (sa) took a covenant from Muslims like me to keep sharing Allah’s (swt) message with every Muslim and non-Muslim. And if I don’t even remember who I am? how will I save my friends out there?

No! It matters to me now that I stand out in a crowd as a Muslim. When I smile, when I help, when I am courteous to others, they know it’s a Muslim with a mission. Not someone who is confused about her identity or, even worse, ashamed of it.

Allah, may I never forget who I am. I am yours and only yours.

The Fun Years

Vol 5 - Issue 1  The Fun YearsTeenagers are funny creatures! And I don’t mean it humorously.

They find everything funny. You have more chance of finding teenage girls giggling than you do of finding middle-aged or even 25-plus-women chortling and guffawing. That’s why when one hears the word ‘giggle’ adolescents come to mind. Under this broad generalization, I can safely say that most of us suffered the same insanity during our teens. From the same bouts of inexplicable laughing fits to goose-bumps for things as minor as favorite brands of chocolate spotted among gifts.

Psychology says it’s healthy. Teenagers should be allowed to express their feelings and indulge in recreational pastimes. But living in the world of recreation has a variety of meanings – from favorite cartoons to favorite drugs … the choices aren’t really that simple any more.

The biggest dilemma of a Muslim teenager is the confusion (a separate dilemma from identity crises) between what is fun and what isn’t. What jokes to laugh at, what movies to enjoy, what books to read, what people to hang out with, what fashion is acceptable, what ideas are reasonable, so on and so forth. This is the very point, where Muslims need to remember that while Islam does not want people to forget the hereafter, it also does not wish to suck the marrow out of life. A Hadeeth states: “Don’t consider anything insignificant out of good things, even if it is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance.” (Reported by Abu Dharr and recorded by Imam Muslim)

Ideally, Muslims are known for their dignity. However, most people tend to misinterpret what we mean by that. I’ve seen parents look disapprovingly at their children, if they laugh too much. A loud guffaw or maybe a painful jibe at someone else is where you may want to draw the line – but stopping teenagers from laughing altogether? That’s something that won’t end well. Parents need to seek this balance, while rearing their kids.

On the other side of the fence, the teenage Muslim can sometimes undergo shame and self-doubt, while mingling with the ‘it’ crowd. This can result in either of the two: they turn into loners … or become over-serious about everything. Either way, it’s not a fun way to spend one’s teenage years. Teens need to find themselves in the concoction of mixed norms and the melting pot that we call ‘culture’ today.

Teenagers follow norms. They follow peers. This was the most interesting conclusion I drew from all the havoc that came into my life, due to the excessive confusion between the ‘good fun’ and the ‘bad fun.’ Psychological studies of adolescents prove that teenagers have a stronger tendency to listen to their peers than to their parents. And once a peer group becomes strong, its sense of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ develops. It does not follow particular ideas of good and bad – rather, what is ‘cool’ or ‘un-cool.’ This revelation struck me as revolutionary. It meant that if I was being penalized in one group for not wanting to have fun ‘their way,’ I could just as easily be accepted in another peer group – if they shared my opinions. That choice proved to be such a breakthrough that I ended up starting my own group. I ended up becoming my own voice, instead of representing the prevalent teen culture.

If no one likes your way of having fun, find someone who does. Start your own norms. Be your own person. Because, after all is said and done, that is what being a teenager and a Muslim is all about.

The Mane Effect

A teenager finds her way out of the curl pool!

As a teenager, living with a mane of thick wavy locks was never a source of pleasure to me. Especially when I witnessed long, silky and straight hair possessed by any female, I couldn’t help but turn green with envy. So I headed for refuge to the nearest beauty salon. Back then the best the hair stylist could come up with was to apply a blob of foul smelling crème to my head. This was followed by a wash, some blow-drying and Voila! I actually ended up with the desired straight hair!

For the next five days, believe it or not, I didn’t dare to wash my hair. In a mad state of ecstasy, I unnecessarily jerked my head around and tossed my tamed curls, but then inevitably, I stepped into the shower. The straight strands turned back into wavy wisps. Alas! My horror knew no bounds. I drove down to the beauty salon and bombarded my hairstylist. She calmly informed me that if I was to have uncurled hair, I had to blow dry them eternally every time I washed them. Then, adding a few more words of wisdom, she continued: “By the way, the new hair that will grow on your scalp will be curly, so in any case you will have to keep coming back to straighten them out too.”

Now, that was a death sentence for a lazy Garfield like me. To me brushing hair was an ordeal and here she was suggesting standing before the mirror every day and wrestling with my tangles. For the next three months, misery was my constant companion. From hot rollers to blow-drying, from gel to mousse – I tried a myriad of hair products and processes, not to mention the wasting of all my spending allowance. The curls growing at the roots, the mercilessly pulled and blow-dried locks … they all appeared like a graph of ECG – zigzags, straight lines, crooks…

One day, sanity knocked on my door. Amid tears, I started to reflect: why did Allah (swt) give me wild and curly hair? Did he run out of stock of straight strands by the time it was my turn? Now, that seemed highly unlikely. So it must have been a deliberate attempt to make me look the way I am. I knew He (swt) is Al-Adil (The Just) so He (swt) was bound to do justice with me. I also realized that He (swt) was Al-Jameel (The Beautiful) and Al-Aleem (The Knowledgeable). His aesthetic sense combined with His knowledge was far beyond my pea-sized brain.

I started to see the sunny side of life. Casting aside nasty comments from people and luring beauty products on TV, I broke free from the myth of traditional mindsets propagating a ridiculous idea of beauty. Who decided that straight hair was something to be proud of and curly hair a cause for shame?

I searched for the beauty that was permanent and abandoned the idea of borrowed looks that were superficial. I treated my curls with more respect, once I learned that Allah’s Messenger (sa) also did not have straight hair. I began to see humour in a new light, too. When others would make fun of my hair calling me names, I retorted that I would still have half of this hair on my head when they will have none in ten years time. So there was a silver lining to the cloud!

The Quran states: “So whatever you have been given is but (a passing) enjoyment for this worldly life, but that which is with Allah (Paradise) is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.” (Ash-Shura 42:36)

After making peace with myself, I thanked Allah (swt) for His guidance. I still haven’t given up though. Now I ask Him (swt) to grant my desire in Jannah, Insha’Allah – originally and eternally soft, silky and straight hair. That too minus the blow-drying, Insha’Allah!

Last in Line

Vol 4-Issue 3  Last in line

The four-wheel drive halted suddenly. Sara flung the door open and raced up the steps just in time for her appointment with the country’s most sought after fashion designer.

He took the necessary head to toe details of the bridal wear, not missing an inch of Sara. Sara was thrilled at the thought of how awed everyone would be with her selection of attire.

Next stop was the tailor. Master Sahab did a good job, but it had to be scrupulous. So once again Sara paraded in and out of different dresses in the dressing room. Master Sahab after a tirade from Sara measured and re-measured her for precision.

Now Sara headed for her jeweler, who had promised to show her his exquisite collection. She tried each piece, while the jeweler complimented her and gave her his expert advice. Finally, they found the right settings to go along with her bridal dress.

Sara wondered what she was still missing. Sandals! Oh, by golly, she couldn’t have gone barefoot to her wedding. She made a quick stop over at the shoe shop. There she tried a dozen different heels and cat walked all over the shop. She fancied nothing. Finally, the shop owner personally chose a pair for her. This time Sara was convinced.

The big day finally arrived and Sara couldn’t help admiring her reflection in the beauty salon’s wall to wall mirrors. Her male beautician just couldn’t sing praises enough.

All dolled up, she made a dash for her awaiting car that would whisk her to the wedding reception. Even the driver checked Sara out in his rear view mirror and voiced his admiration.

At the reception amid numerous ‘wows’ the audience talked about Sara. They flocked in line to congratulate her. There were handshakes, kisses and hugs from uncles, cousins, family friends, office colleagues and many other well wishers, some of whom Sara had probably not seen for years.

Suddenly, the camera man caused a stir and catapulted everyone off the stage. He needed to do his job! His photographer ally also stepped into the scene. Finally, the moment for her dream pictures that would capture this magical moment. She posed and they snapped, delighted to have such a beauty before their lens.

Finally, it was time to bid everyone farewell. Hand in hand with the prince of her dreams she headed for her new and exciting life. In her ecstasy, she overlooked her step and fell face flat on the ground. Her head started to reel and everything blacked out.

She felt herself being carried to a strange place. She heard a voice echoing in the background asking: “How many more times will you do it?” Frightened, she asked: “Do what?” “Commit adultery?” Flabbergasted she stammered: “What, what are you saying? I just got married! I have done no such sin – I am a pure virgin!” The voice replied: “After being touched, admired and fantasized about by countless men, you claim to be a pure virgin? Your husband should have been the first man to do so. However, it’s a pity that he turned up last in line. You are nothing but an adulteress. Throw her into Hell!”

Sara screamed for her life, as she was dragged by the forelock and plunged into what seemed like an ocean of fire. Just as the hissing snakes started to entwine her, she begged for mercy and suddenly found herself in her bed with the alarm clock shrilling in her ears. She had to meet up with her designer for her measurements today. By God! Was it all a nightmare? Drenched in sweat and horrified at what could have been her fate, she cried hysterically.

Suddenly, she remembered Allah (swt). Surely, she hadn’t in a long time. But for some reason she just wanted to talk to Him – explain to Him, how ashamed she was for her past, and how thankful she was to Him for literally saving her from eternal doom.

With broken sniffs and a trembling body, Sara knew exactly what to do. She carefully picked up the phone and politely cancelled her appointment with the designer. She wanted to marry as a pure virgin, not as an adulteress. No man will ever touch her now or devour her beauty. There wasn’t going to be any queue now. Her husband will have to be the first in line!

Sinsational!

Vol 4- Issue 2 Sinsational copyWhile discussing the trials of a lewd sight, our teacher once questioned the class: “Do you know of any animal that invites other animals of its kind to group and watch the love making of a couple?” Crimson red, most of us shook our heads. “Well, I know,” she continued, “it’s us, human beings. How many of you have not watched pornography on TV, in movies or magazines deliberately alone or with friends?”

Feeling very uneasy, the class remained silent. Then, she recited from the Quran: “Verily, We created man in the best stature (mould). Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. Save those who believe and do righteous deeds…” (At-Tin 95:4-6)

Truly, only human beings can stoop so low. Having said that sexual desire has been implanted by Allah (swt) in mankind for pleasure and pro-creation. Although natural, just like other desires it needs to be disciplined, too. Uwaymir Anjum, a writer, states the reasons: “Mainly because this is the greatest power of all other human instincts to sabotage and undermine the very purpose of human creation: the worship of Allah, profound realization of His presence, cultivation of His love and moral conduct on its basis.”

Some argue that we are merely viewers. How do we compare to those directly involved in the moral degeneration or the business of promoting it? They are the merchants of obscenity. Allah (swt) will surely question them! But it is consumer trends that create demand. If buyers of vulgarity boycott all these products (lewd websites, immoral books and magazines, porn movies and TV shows), there will be no market to float such products or services. The buyer is as guilty as the seller.

Even if you do muster the courage to stop viewing, buying or sponsoring lewdness, will it disappear? Unfortunately, it won’t. We live in a world, where soft porn is almost universal. It’s in your newspaper, e-mail account, the supermarket you shop at, on the billboard you drive by, etc. You just can’t escape it! So what do you do? Ask the expert – follow the Quran and stick to the Sunnah.

Is there really a means to restrain ones sexual desires? Yes, there is. Those, who strive to preserve their modesty, obey Allah (swt): “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah (swt) is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)…And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Kimberly Ben, another writer, calls lowering the gaze as dodging the Satan’s arrow. She explains: “The concept of lowering the gaze is a very important characteristic of Islam. It represents discipline and restraint. It is an effective method of halting the stirrings of certain urges and desires that may manifest into even more sinful acts. As human beings, we are visual by nature. Certain sights can evoke very powerful emotions.”

The Prophet (sa) said: “And the eyes commit Zina (adultery). Their Zina is gazing.” (Bukhari)

Now, when we are told to lower our gaze, it does not mean that we go around keeping our eyes glued to the ground. What it actually entails is that upon viewing any explicit scene or image, whether in person, on TV, on a website, in print or on any other media outlet, we should consciously turn our faces away. We underestimate the power of a simple glance. The Prophet (sa) has stated in another Hadeeth: “…the adultery of the eyes is looking at (that), which is not allowed…” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Along with lowering our gaze, we must learn to condition our heart and mind. Following are a few practical tips that can help to guard our purity:

Take a detour

There are some places, where you are expected to run into questionable images, such as music shops, video shops, lingerie outlets (opened up most recently), magazine racks, TV (both on shows and advertisements) and while surfing the web (porn website are flashed before you). Be selective to avoid sexual imagery. Allah’s (swt) advice is to stay as far away as possible from Fawahish (sexual indecency) and if encountered, to turn away right then and there.

Pray earnestly

In times of great difficulty, seek Allah’s (swt) refuge. You will be amazed, how He protects you. But you need to initiate that process. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and as Me of anything] I will respond to your (invocation).’” (Ghafir 40:60) But remember – your prayers can only make a difference, if you truly resent obscenity and wish to keep yourself chaste.

Don’t give up

Determination is the key word. You will be pushed by peer pressure, enticed when the latest movie of your favourite actor is released, tempted to flip through beauty and fashion magazines. Just remember, what the Prophet (sa) said: “Who ever seeks to be chaste, Allah will make him chaste, and who ever seeks to be independent of means, Allah will make him independent of means, and who ever strives to be patient, Allah will make him patient.” (Bukhari)

Consider marriage

Kimberly Ben puts it nicely: “Many frown on the idea of couples marrying too young in our society. You are expected to live an independent life full of adventures, before finally settling down.” Addressing the assembly of youth, the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and in guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Know that Allah (swt) is watching

You can steal a quick peek or a lingering glance at the opposite gender. Nobody might even notice it, but can you hide anything from Allah (swt)? The Creator states: “Allah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal.” (Ghafir 40:19)

A sage once said that looking is the start of sinning – the source of all evil. However, looking for the first time – the unintentional first look – can be forgiven; repeating it evokes rebuke. The Prophet (sa) stated: “The first gaze is forgiven, but the second is counted against you.” (Baihaqi)

On another occasion, he said: “Looking is one of Satan’s poisonous arrows. He, who abandons it out of fear of Allah, Allah will grant him faith, the sweetness of which he finds in his own heart.” (Tabarani)

Lastly, all those are dear to Allah (swt), who fight the whispers of Satan. He states: “Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan (Satan), they remember (Allah) and (indeed) they then see (aright).” (Al-Araf 7:201)

The question is – do you have the guts to do it?

Are you in Control?

Vol 4-Issue 1 Are you in ControlChildren retort back at their parents disrespectfully. Friends argue and insult each other over trivial matters. Drivers gesture and abuse other drivers for imagined or real traffic goof-ups. Scenarios, similar or worse, are repeated in private and public places every day. Why is it that we are often unable to control our anger, while our beloved Prophet (sa) kept calm in times of personal injury or disrespect?

Narrated by Anas bin Malik (rta): “While I was walking with the Prophet, who was wearing a Najrani outer garment with a thick hem, a Bedouin came upon the Prophet and pulled his garment so violently that I could recognize the impress of the hem of the garment on his shoulder, caused by the violence of his pull. Then, the Bedouin said: ‘Order for me something from Allah’s fortune, which you have.’ The Prophet turned to him, smiled, and ordered that a gift be given to him.” (Bukhari)

We flare up at the slightest affront. Are we so preoccupied with our own self-worth that we cannot overlook personal inconvenience or harm, while being totally indifferent to any disobedience of Allah’s (swt) commands?

Our anger is focused on serving only our own petty purposes. In contrast is the way of Ali (rta), who during a fight was sitting on top of a disbeliever and was about to strike him dead, when the disbeliever spat in his face. Ali (rta) immediately stood up and spared him. When the perplexed man asked Ali (rta) for the reason, Ali (rta) replied that since he had no personal animosity towards him, had he killed him in a moment of anger for his spitting, he would have killed him to settle a personal score.

For learning to manage our anger, let’s first see, what anger is.

What is Anger?

According to psychologists, it is a natural emotion. Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond calls it “the wish for harm or bad or evil to come upon someone, who – in your eyes – has injured you.”

Anger is an evil whisper of Shaitan; it pushes us to hurt others and make them afraid, or makes them reciprocate in anger.

The intensity of anger varies from person to person. Although anger is a natural emotion, it is dangerous to let it loose. Just as any habit or behavior pattern can be learnt or unlearnt, so can anger.

Pre-Planning

We must prepare to counter anger, when we are calm and composed. Since anger is one of the ways the Shaitan manipulates our Nafs, the first effective step is to become closer to Allah (swt) through the Quran and the Sunnah. The more we strive to please Allah (swt), the more Taqwa (god-consciousness or fear of Allah (swt)) we will have. And the higher is a person’s Taqwa, the more mastery he has over his Nafs.

Reminders

Remind yourself and others of the Quran and Ahadeeth. Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Advise me.” He said: “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet (sa) told him: “Do not become angry.” (Bukhari)

Anger-Control Plan

Seek refuge with Allah (swt)

The Prophet (sa) said: “If a man gets angry and says: ‘I seek refuge with Allah,’ his anger will go away.” (Mishkat)

Silence

At any time, when you feel anger surging, slow down and start speaking very softly, slowly, and gently. Or keep quiet.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” (Ahmad)

Forgiving completely

“…when they are angry, they forgive.” (Al-Shuraa 42:37)

Developing the ability of forgiving needs practice. Often, forgiving completely is the only salve for pain caused by others. We can try to erase all the hurt from our hearts for the sake of Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Remind yourself of the worst and most embarrassing incident of your life, for which you would want to be forgiven. Our imperfection facilitates forgiving others.

Developing self-control

Some argue that showing anger is a way to vent our emotions. However, most of the time when we express anger, it breeds more anger and makes us more agitated, instead of calming us down. If we control the initial attack of anger, it will become easier to stay collected.

“Research has shown that the ‘anger reflex’ lasts about one second. Beyond that, the angry person is doing something else: choosing to punish another person or vent personal frustrations – or perhaps that’s how he or she was taught to express anger.

Think of your responsibilities

As good Muslims, we must care for the kind of environment we nurture for ourselves and for those around us. One angry person makes tense the whole house, office, or family.

Sara let go of her anger habit by reminding herself that she is the model for her kids. Khalid let go of his terrible road-rage by realizing that his shouting and cursing could not be heard by other drivers and simply made him tense.

Think positive

When someone hurts you, think of something good this person has done for you. When you feel anger at circumstances or at nothing in particular, count all your blessings and look at the people more disadvantaged than yourself. Remember that all bad and good time is the will of Allah (swt).

Do the positive

When angry, stressed, or frustrated, perform Wudhu, offer Salah, do Dhikr, read the Quran, take long deep breaths, or exercise.

Make Dua

We cannot achieve any higher trait without the help of Allah (swt), so we must constantly ask Him to help us in controlling and managing our anger.

Avoid making others angry

Controlling anger means not only to control your own anger but also to avoid behavior that causes other people to become angry or hostile.

Avoid phrases and words that anger others, such as “Who do you think you are?”, “You always do …”, “You never…” etc. Speak softly and calmly.

Ridiculing a person, calling names or leg pulling is hurtful and makes people edgy. The Quran guides us: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.” (Al-Hujarat 49:11)

Do not discuss concerns and problems with people, when they or you are tired, preoccupied, in a bad mood, or running late.

Arguing even if you are right is not recommended in Islam.

Reduce stress-inducing factors. Do one thing at a time, if you feel burdened with work, learn to say ‘no’ if you lack time, or physical, monetary, or mental energy to do something.

As emotion, anger is a test for us. We must not let it overpower us. May Allah (swt) help us deal with anger in the best possible ways, so that we earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Ameen.