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Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta): A Generous Businessman

By

Sadaf Azhar 

Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) was one of the ten blessed companions who were promised Jannah by the Prophet (sa). An extremely wealthy and astute businessman, he was nevertheless always mindful of his duty towards Allah (swt) and his fellow Muslims.

His character and business acumen

Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) was extremely hard working, valued his independence and was a sharp businessman. As a Muhajir, he was in a vulnerable position. It was difficult for a refugee to set up a business because the markets were controlled based upon what they could sell, so some were controlled by Jews and some by tribes that were hostile to Muslims.

It is said that he surveyed the Qainuqa market and started off with what was easiest for him to acquire and then sell- yogurt, butter and dates. He was innovative and would make different recipes like Haith (a mixture of butter, dates and yogurt).

He then invested in horses and traded them and then horse saddles.

There is an anecdote regarding his “Midas touch”. When he was asked about the secret for his success, Abdur Rahman (rta) replied that he never lifted a stone unless he expected to find gold or silver under it. He was able to see trade opportunities everywhere and was able to make successful business decisions.

He did not shy away from hard work or humble beginnings. He had been forced to leave his business behind in Makkah and began trading in Madinah with only 2 or 4 dinars. He didn’t rely on handouts- he had Tawakkul on Allah (swt) and confidence in his own experience and abilities.

Abdul Rahman bin Awf’s (rta) three main business ideas

  1. Using Cash: He constantly paid cash for products and sold them for cash. (There were no credit deals)
  2. Never stocking or waiting for a greater profit: He avoided storing products and sold them even if he was only paid a penny in profit. This ensured a high degree of cash flow, and the focus was on expanding profits to increase earnings.
  3. Always being truthful in his dealings: He never hid any flaws in his products. He told his customer if his goods was not up to par or if there was even a minor flaw in it.

 

  • Soon after beginning his business in Madinah, the Prophet (sa) saw him perfumed, well dressed and happy. The Prophet (sa) asked him the reason for his happiness and he told the Prophet (sa) that he had married. The Rasool (sa) asked him what he gave as bridal gift (Mahr) and he replied that he had given a weight (or block) of gold. The Prophet (sa) then advised him to have a feast for Valima, with even a single sheep, and made Dua for his blessed marriage.
  • In an era where racism was rampant, where those who were black and non-Arab were looked down upon, Abdur Rahman (rta) instead felt honored when Bilal (ra) expressed interest in marrying his sister.

He was always productive, working for either his Dunya or his Akhirah. If he wasn’t praying in the Masjid or fighting alongside the Prophet (sa), he was in the marketplace, earning a livelihood.

  • Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) obeyed the Prophet (sa) completely. He was blessed with a son (Abu Salamah) who studied under Ayesha (rta) and became one of the 7 jurists of Madinah. Abu Salamah played a crucial role in transmitting our Deen- he was the one who asked Ayesha (rta) to describe the prayer of the Prophet (sa). His pious son became a source of perpetual Sadqah for him.
  • Despite his wealth and status, you could not distinguish him in a gathering because of his asceticism. Many Ahadith regarding wealth are narrated by him and his life was a practical application of these Prophetic injunctions.
  • The Prophet (sa) once asked the Companions: ‘If the treasures of Persia and Rome are opened to you, what kind of people will you become?’ Abdur Rahman (rta) replied: ‘We will be as Allah (swt) commanded us’. The Prophet (sa) refuted: ‘It may be that you will become something else. You will compete with each other, then you will envy each other, then you will hate each other and then you will turn on each other.’ This is one of the reasons why Abdur Rahman (rta) feared greed and practiced generosity. He never let the deception of the world lead him astray.
  • Once he was fasting and he was offered food, but he started crying: ‘Hamza (rta) was killed and he did not have enough to eat and to cover except one cloth, Musab (rta) was killed and he had only one garment for his shroud. I am afraid we are amongst those for whom our reward has been hastened in this world.’ He was promised Jannah but he thought of those better than him.
  • Once someone served him an extravagant meal and he cried remembering that the Prophet (sa) and his family never once got to eat their fill. This was the result of the fear he had of Allah (swt) holding him accountable for all his blessings and his love for the Prophet (sa).
  • He once sold a piece of land for 40,000 Dinar and gave it all away to his tribe, Banu Zohra, and the Mothers of the Believers. Ayesha (rta) remembered that the Prophet (sa) had said that no one will feel compassionate towards you (the Mothers) except the righteous. This is proof of his piety.
  • He was the ‘Ameen’ upon the wives of the Prophet sa and Abu Ubaidah was the ‘Ameen’ of the Ummah.
  • Despite being the wealthiest man of the Sahabah, Abdul Rahman bin Awf (rta) always kept his priorities in order. He used to say: “I left half of what is Halal, afraid I would accidentally engage in Riba.” For Abdur Rahman (rta), making a large profit paled in comparison to accepting a penny of Haram money.
  • When he passed away and left inheritance to be distributed across Madinah, wealthy Sahabah such as ‘Uthman ibn Affan eagerly received the money. When people questioned their desire to receive the money, when they themselves were well off, ‘Uthman ibn Affan replied that the money of Abdul Rahman (rta) was guaranteed to be pure and Halal and that whatever he bought with that money would also be pure and Halal.
  • A good businessman diversifies his investments and Abdul Rahman bin Awf (rta) diversified his investments not only in this life, but in the next as well. In addition to his generosity, he personally took part in most of the famous battles of the Prophet ﷺ. He also sat and learned Islam directly from the Prophet ﷺ and became one of the most knowledgeable of the Sahabah. In fact, he was actually given permission to issue fatwa during the life of the Prophet ﷺ.

He was known for his wisdom and was chosen as one of the six members of Shura to decide the Khalifah after the death of Umar (rta). He was always in the Masjid, in the front row, for Salah.

When Umar (rta) was fatally stabbed in Fajr Salah, Umar (rta) pulled the man behind him to finish leading Salah. That person was Abdul Rahman, always standing front and center behind the Imam.

Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) was a rich business man who had no love of money, but lived and died a humble and active Momin always eager to please Allah (swt).

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Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta): A slave of Allah (swt)

By

Sadaf Azhar – Sub Editor Hiba magazine

Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) was one of the ten blessed Companions who were promised Jannah by the Prophet (sa). An extremely wealthy and astute businessman, he was nevertheless always mindful of his duty towards Allah (swt) and his fellow Muslims.

Life in Makkah

  • He was named Abd Kabah but the Prophet (sa) changed his name to Abdur Rahman bin Awf when he accepted Islam. His Kuniyah was Abu Muhammad.
  • He belonged to the powerful tribe of Banu Zohra, the tribe of the Prophet’s (sa) mother, Amina bint Wahb, and Saad bin Abi Waqas (rta).
  • He had a powerful position within the Quraysh because he was married to multiple women.
  • Abdur Rahman (rta) was described as an exceedingly handsome, dignified and pleasant man.
  • During one of his trade routes to Yemen, he met a Christian monk who asked him where he was from and why he was here. He replied that he was a merchant from Makkah. The monk asked him: ‘Shall I not give you a glad tiding that is greater than your trade? A man that will rise from where you just came from, who receives revelation from the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth and who is on the way of Isa (as)?’ When he returned to Makkah, Abdur Rahman (rta) questioned Abu Bakr (rta), who explained the Prophet’s (sa) message and then took him to Khadeejah’s (rta) house to embrace Islam.
  • He was one of the students of Dar ul Arqam before the Prophet (sa) publicly gave Dawah.
  • This Sahabi continued his trade and stayed under the Quraysh’s radar but he too was persecuted so he migrated to Abyssinia. He returned and then made the Hijrah to Madinah, which is why he is one of the blessed Companions who earned the title of ‘The Companions of the Two Migrations’ (As-haab al Hijratayn).

Life in Madinah

In Madinah, he was paired off with Saad ibn Rabi’i (rta). This is one of the most striking stories of the brotherhood called (Muwakhaat) that the Prophet (sa), in his wisdom, established between each Ansari of Madinah (a resident) and each Muhajir of Makkah (a refugee).

To please Allah (swt), Saad (rta) who was wealthy, tried to split his wealth in half to share with Abdur Rahman (rta). He even offered to divorce one of his 2 wives so Abdur Rahman (rta) could marry her instead!

Abdur Rahman (rta) was embarrassed and he politely refused by praying for Barakah in Saad’s (rta) wealth and family and just asked to be directed to the marketplace so he could begin his own business.

His character, worship and service to Islam

  • Despite his wealth and business concerns, he participated in every battle with the Prophet (sa), staying close to him to protect him.
  • He was one of those who stayed steadfast in Uhud and suffered over 20 wounds, with one that left him with a limp for the rest his life.
  • Once when Rasool (sa) wanted someone to sponsor an expedition, Abdur Rahman (rta) brought 2000 coins. The Prophet (sa) asked him: ‘What have you left behind?’ He replied: ‘I gave 2000 for the sake of Allah and 2000 for my family’.
  • He was made the leader of an expedition. The Prophet (sa) wrapped his turban himself, put his hand on it, made Dua for him and advised him to be mindful of Allah (swt) to not transgress and be ready to meet Allah (swt). He also told him to invite the people to Islam and if they accepted, he advised Abdur Rahman (rta) to propose to marry the daughter of the chief. That is what Abdur Rahman (rta) did, and his most well-known son, Abu Salamah bin Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta), was born from this blessed union.
  • All of the people of Madinah lived off Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta). One third of the people had debts that he paid off, one third owed money to him and he forgave them, and one third were given Sadqah that he gave without expecting any favour.
  • Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) is the only person behind whom the Prophet (sa) prayed. This incident took place in Tabuk. Since they couldn’t find the Prophet (sa), they appointed Abdur Rahman (rta) to lead the Salah. The Prophet (sa) came upon them while they were praying in congregation so he joined the prayer (it was dark), in the second Rakah. As Abdur Rahman (rta) completed his prayer, he noticed the Prophet (sa) stand up to complete his Salah. The companions were overwhelmed and confused so they started to recite Tasbeeh. The Prophet (sa) appreciated their prayer and this was an unprecedented honour.
  • After the Prophet’s (sa) death, Abdur Rahman (rta) continued to play an important role in the community. He was part of the Shura. He himself undertook the financial responsibility for the Mothers of the Believers. Every transaction he made, he allotted a percentage of it for them. He also took them for Hajj.
  • Once, he returned to Madinah with his caravan of 700 camels. The city began to rumble and the people thought they were under attack. Ayesha (rta) asked what the commotion was about and was told that Abdur Rahman (rta) had just returned from Ash-Shaam. She prayed: ‘O Allah allow him to drink from the water of Salsabeel’. (Some say the Prophet (sa) also made this Dua for him)
  • He was known for his asceticism (Zuhd). He said: ‘We were tested with hardship with the Prophet (sa) and we were patient, but then we were tested with ease and prosperity after the Prophet’s (sa) death and we were not patient’.

This refers to the difficulty of controlling Nafs in prosperity as compared to being mindful of Allah (swt) in deprivation.

  • The Prophet (sa) said that Shaitan vowed: ‘The owner of wealth will never be safe from me by one of three ways: I will get them to take money without permission, or spend it without right or make it so beloved to them that they obstruct it being spent rightfully.’ So Abdur Rahman (rta) was extremely cautious about his wealth. He once spent an entire Tawaf praying: ‘O Allah protect me form the greed of my soul’.
  • He narrated the Hadith which forms the basis of the ruling for Jizya from non-Muslims.

Events prior to his death

As a caliph, Uthman (rta) once became sick and he wrote that Abdur Rahman bin Awf (rta) should be his successor. They had the same generous, humble personality.

When Abdur Rahman (rta) was conveyed these glad tidings, he went between the graves of the Prophet (sa) and the first two Caliphs and prayed: ‘If that is true, let me die before that because I do not wish to be tried.’ He died a few months after this incident.

He was 75 years old when he passed away. In his will, he liberated hundreds of slaves, donated 400 dinars of gold for each veteran of Badr, and left huge shares for the Mothers of the Believers (up to 400,000 dinars). Yet his inheritors had a lot of money to divide amongst themselves.

A little before he passed away, Abdur Rahman (rta) narrated a dream wherein he looked behind and his whole Ummah was standing behind him. When he died, Ali (rta) said it was as if the whole Ummah was standing behind the bier of Abdur Rahman (rta). The people of Madinah whom he had supported all his life had come to testify for his generosity and piety.

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Worshipping Allah Al-Mannaan

By Umm Isam

Prophet (sa) supplicated to Allah (swt): “O Allah, I ask You, as You are the Owner of praise, there is none worthy of worship but You alone, You are the Giver of all good (Al Mannaan). O Creator of the heavens and the earth, Owner of Majesty and Honour. O Living and Everlasting One.” (An Nasai)

Al-Mannaan is one of Allah’s (swt) names mentioned in the Sunnah.

Who is Al-Mannaan?

Allah (swt) is the Bestower of favours that we benefit from every second of our life. We are not even aware of the countless blessings that allow us to live so we are incapable of asking Him for them. Likewise, we are not worthy of receiving these bounties because we enjoy them while our hearts don’t realize them. Allah (swt) graciously grants favours which we are incapable of returning or even thanking Him for, to all His creation.

2 Types of Mann (Favours)

  1. Favours through divine actions

Al-Mannaan’s favours are countless,  enormous, unmatchable , customized, and perfect in time and space. These actions include the divine decrees Al Mannaan passes by the second for the entire creation such as their birth, death, proportion, type and time of Rizq, arrival and departure of day and night, seasons, quantity of rainfall, velocity of winds, etc. Is there anything that happens in this world that is not a favour from Al Mannaan?

  1. Favours through divine words

Allah’s (swt) supreme favour is the Quran. The book guides us of our appropriate response in return for Allah Al-Mannaan’s favours that cannot be enumerated. It is only Allah’s (swt) right to remind His creation of His favours. If we remind others of the favours we give, this nullifies our good deeds. We have been forbidden from mentioning our gifts and generosity to others simply because we are not the owners but temporary custodians of whatever we give or share in the world.

Al-Mannaan favours the oppressed

Throughout human history, whenever a people or nation have been subjected to injustices, they and others have invoked Allah (swt) for help and relief. Allah Al-Mannaan goes a step further by not only liberating them but empowering them with lands and leadership too. When Bani Israel were enslaved, Allah Al-Mannaan granted them freedom. The Quran states: “And We wanted to confer favour upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors.” (Al Qasas 28:5)

Al Mannaan grants faith (Iman) as a favour

Iman is a special favour from Allah (swt) that should never be undermined. He grants love of Islam to the believers and hatred for disobedience and sins. The believers must never  boast about their faith. Instead, they should stay humbled and submitted before Allah Al-Mannaan.

The Quran states: “They consider it a favour to you that they have accepted Islam. Say: ‘Do not consider your Islam a favour to Me. Rather, Allah has conferred favour upon you that He has guided you to faith, if you should be truthful.’” (Al Hujuraat 49:17)

Al-Mannaan sent messengers as a favour

It was Allah’s (swt) favour that He sent a series of messengers to teach, purify, inspire and guide believers to the right path so they could earn rewards and deserve Allah’s (swt) Mercy.

The Quran states: “Certainly did Allah confer (great) favour upon the believers when He sent among them a messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book (Quran) and wisdom although they had been before in manifest error.” (Aal-e-Imran 3:164)

Al-Mannaan’s favours upon His prophets

Two examples are being cited here. When Firawn was killing the male infants of Bani Israel, Al Mannaan guided Prophet Musa’s (as) mother to save his life. It is mentioned in the Quran: “And We had already conferred favour upon you another time, when We inspired to your mother what We inspired, (saying), ‘Cast him into the chest and cast it into the river.’” (Taha 20:37)

Similarly Al Mannaan saved Prophet Yusuf (as) from the treacherous tricks of his brothers and the minister’s wife. Al Mannaan finally united him with his family and honoured him with a high position.

“They said: ‘Are you indeed Joseph?’ He said, ‘I am Joseph, and this is my brother. Allah has certainly favoured us. Indeed, he who fears Allah and is patient then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.’” (Yusuf 12:90)

Al Mannaan made evil distinct from goodness as a favour

Allah (swt), Al-Mannaan, protects the believers from self-destructive decisions based on desires. He presents examples of the doomed end of the sinful and heedless creations for the believer’s guidance.

The Quran states: “So he came out before his people in his adornment. Those who desired the worldly life said: ‘Oh would that we had like what was given to Qarun. Indeed, he is one of great fortune.’ But those who had been given knowledge said: ‘Woe to you! The reward of Allah is better for he who believes and does righteousness. And none are granted it except the patient.’” (Al Qasas 28:79-80)  

Al-Mannaan protects against the Hell as a favour

What will be Allah’s (swt) favours upon people of Paradise? There will be enormous favours for them in the hereafter. When they meet each other in Jannah, they will discuss their lives in the world. The believers will admit their fear of displeasing Allah (swt) and earning His wrath.

The Quran states: “And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other. They will say, ‘Indeed we were previously among our people fearful (of displeasing Allah). So Allah conferred favour upon us and protected us from the punishment of the scorching fire.’” (At Tur 52:25-28)

What should we do after knowing Al-Mannaan?

  1. Believe that favours only reach us by Al Mannaan’s Will.
  2. Be grateful to Al Mannaan for considering us for His perfect gifts.
  3. Schedule our day so we have the time to pause and humbly reflect upon Al Mannaan’s enormous and multiple favours.
  4. Only remember good times and thank Al Mannaan- avoid unpleasant reminisces, grieving over the past or gossiping.
  5. When others grant us favours, thank them and realize it’s Al Mannaan’s blessing reaching us.
  6. When Al Mannaan chooses us to confer favours upon others, do not be arrogant.
  7. Never expect favours to be returned, others to be obliged towards us or complain when they don’t thank us enough.
  8. When we witness others receiving favours from Al Mannaan, do not be envious but make Dua for them and ourselves.
  9. Always be a giver, like the universe.

Remember that individuals who mention their favours to others will not enter Jannah.

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A Ramadan to learn Adab before you gain Ilm

Lessons from Mufti Abdur Rahman Waheed

The ‘classroom’ of the Prophet (sa) was unique because this was the only classroom where each ‘student’ (the Companions) attained a position of honour across generations. The hallmark of these students who were diverse in terms of lineage, socio-economic status, learning ability and skill set was their commitment and absolute respect (Adab) for both Allah’s (swt) Words and their teacher, the Prophet (sa).

What is Adab?

Adab is defined as courtesy, respect, etiquettes and good manners that is manifest in our behaviour and every action.

What is the importance of Adab?

When Imam Maalik told his mother that he wanted to pursue the knowledge of Deen, she advised him to learn Adab from his teacher first.

Shah Waliullah explains the importance of etiquettes: ‘A person who becomes lazy about following the etiquettes of certain things, then a day will come when he will become lazy with the Sunnah. If you become relaxed with Sunnah, a day will come when it will become easier for you to miss obligations.’

Consider the prayer. Certain parts of the prayer are obligatory, some are Sunnah, some recommended. There are also the etiquettes of prayer, without which a prayer will still be valid. An example of such a behaviour is using a prayer mat so that the requisite of a clean place for worship is fulfilled. Of course you may pray on grass, or any rug or even on the clean floor, but to ensure that you have a dedicated sheet/ rug shows you are always prepared for Salaah.

Imam Malik said: ‘Good manners is the source of every single virtue.’ We are more in need of a small amount of Adab than we are in need of a large amount of knowledge. Many people are turned away from Deen because of a knowledgeable but ill-mannered person.

Advising at the right time and in a respectful manner will ensure that your audience at least weighs your words. Similarly, performing an action with pleasing manners is a sign that it will be accepted by Allah (swt).

Abdur Rahman bin Qasim spent 20 years with Imam Malik as a student. For 18 years out of which, he was taught etiquettes (how to sit, wear clothes, begin Wudu). Yet, wished he had spent all 20 years learning good manners from him.

Now you see people frequenting the Masjid but they don’t know how to park the car, place their shoes, meet people, or even sit together in a manner that indicates an empathy for people and a goodwill attitude.

The top 4 Adab before you begin your journey to learn

  1. Constant correction of Intention: It is easy to get derailed on the journey to seeking knowledge. Imam Sufyan Ath Thawri felt that of all the good deeds, the most difficult to attain was sincerity of intention.The lowest punishment Allah (swt) gives to an insincere person is that Allah snatches sweetness of Ibadah from their life. Your intention is to bring about a change in your attitude and behaviour based on what you learn, and then become a source of positive change in society through his goodwill and advice. Your ultimate destination is closeness to Allah (swt) in Jannah and for this you must enlighten your heart with the understanding of Quran and Sunnah, i.e you must determine your goal and choose your companion before you begin your journey.
  2. You have to work hard and be patient with the struggle. We’re living in a ‘snowflake era’ where people expect to be appreciated for simply showing up with little accountability. As a pious predecessor pointed out: ‘The treasure of bounties lies on the peak of calamities.’ Your eventual comfort will be in the discomfort you will incur in pushing yourself.
  3. You must be consistent and punctual. We must wait for the teacher, the teacher should not wait for us.
  4. Respect your teacher and the knowledge that you are being taught.

‘No one attains the status they attain except for (or by the virtue of) respect, and no one fell from status except that they did not have respect.’

Honour and respect are more important than obedience. For instance, when you come to class, come in a state of Wudu. Imam Malik would dress in his best clothes and perfume when teaching.

What is good intention?

You’re learning only for Allah (swt) and nothing else. Ali bn Fudayl was asked why the stories of the Companions are so beautiful? He replied that this is because they did not want anything except Allah’s (swt) Pleasure. Someone else asked why their statements are are so much more beneficial than ours? This is because they spoke to honour Islam. We tend to speak to honour ourselves and to please people. So introspect and hold yourself accountable for your intention, words and behaviour every single day.

What should you not intend?

The scholars often recommended that you should learn something through identifying its opposite.

  1. You don’t have to express your intention to everyone. Don’t study knowledge to be considered a scholar- be a student of knowledge. Sufyan Ath Thawri was asked: ‘Till when are you classified as a student of knowledge?’ He answered: ‘Till death.’
  2. You’re not studying to be able to debate with people.
  3. You’re not studying to look for honour or praise from people. Abu Hazam advised that you should hide your good deeds more than you hide your bad deeds.

Do your actions change after gaining knowledge? Wait quietly for a couple of minutes after the class to let the ideas sink in. Mentally summarize what you’ve learnt and make a checklist of immediate and long term actionable points.

Remember that the actions before and after any good deed are important determinants of its acceptability. In a Hadith, walking towards the Masjid, making Wudu, and waiting for the next prayer are all commendable acts because they are pre- and post-acts that honour the prayer itself. They wipe away your bad deeds, so ensure that your effort in gaining knowledge adds to your good deeds.

This Ramadan, may Allah (swt) grant us Adaab to understand and appreciate Islam. May our worship be mindful, may our Iman be sweet may our soul be content may our body be fulfilled and may Allah’s (swt) pleasure be our ultimate goal. Ameen

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Family Ramadan Goals

By Sadaf Azhar

The literal meaning of the word Ramadan is excessive heat or very light rain after extreme heat. If we spend the month sincerely worshipping Allah (swt), our fasting will ‘burn’ our sins. Like the sun melts objects, the reminders from the Quran and Sunnah ‘melt’ our hearts.

We tend to prepare for Ramadan in terms of food preparation or Eid preparations. Spiritual growth often takes a back seat, often limited to simply fasting or Taraweeh itself. So it is important for each of us to have well-defined goals for Ramadan with the intention of pleasing Allah (swt). Prepare for your Ramadan by discussing your goals as a family, with each member individualizing his or her plan.

Fasting

Fasting is a ‘magnet’ that should bring us closer to Allah (swt) if we focus on the spiritual aspects too. As Ibn Jawzi said: “Fasting is the ‘school of Taqwa’”.

Try to focus on abstaining from those actions that are prohibited or disliked by the Prophet (sa). For instance, don’t waste food- ensure you finish everything on your plate, in your mug and in your bottle. Dispose of rubbish properly at home, in the Masjid and on the streets. Make Wudu carefully using the Masnoon amount of water or ensuring that you don’t let water running during Wudu, brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. You could even make an effort to collect kitchen waste water or Wudu water and use that to water your plants.

Likewise, ‘fast’ from the sins of the heart- grudges, greed, jealousy, and covetousness. Since we are best aware of our weaknesses, let each child choose his own struggle against his Nafs.

Salaah

Taraweeh, especially if prayed in the Masjid, brings a burst of colour and a sense of social bonding. Try to improve your Taraweeh spirituality by reading up a summary of the Quran that will be recited that night beforehand. You can tell your children or you can reward the child who shares the summary each day after Asr.

If you’re praying at home, set up a designated prayer area with your prayer mat (keep a simple, plain one to be more focused) with your Dua book and your Quran from which you can recite if you’re not a Haafidh. Involve your girls or younger children in your worship at night, even if that means they play or read books near you. Display Islamic books for their reading or activity, colour pencils or crayons. Take along small snacks and water bottles with you if you take them to the Masjid to keep them settled and quiet.

This is a good time to teach kids to respect other worshipers too. With younger kids its best to take up space in corners of the Masjid or with other mothers carrying children of same age group.

The idea is to introduce Allah’s (swt) house to them. If they are cranky or get restless it’s best to keep your prayer short at the Masjid. The idea is not to cause discomfort to others, yourself or your young kids.

At home, try adding other Nawafil to your routine such as the Tahajjud prayer (this will enhance your Qiyam al Layl experience) and the Duha’a prayer. Also, try to improve your focus in prayer by memorizing and adding Masnoon Duas to your daily prayer and even alternating between Adhkaar.

Dua and Dhikr

Stress the importance of morning and evening Adhkaar in your family. Set a goal to memorise at least one more Masnoon Dua and make it a daily habit. Ask each other to remind the others about Duas (for instance the Dua for entering and leaving the Masjid) and stress on sending as many Salwaat on the Prophet (sa) as possible especially each time he is mentioned.

Quran

This Ramadan, feel the Quran. Understand it deeply. Allah’s (swt) best gift to mankind is the Quran and He states it. “The Most Merciful taught the Quran.” (Ar Rahman 55:1-2) Ramadan was chosen as the month to reveal this blessed revelation.

Hence Ramadan is not just a month of alternately fasting and feasting. It is the month to establish a firm connection with Allah’s (swt) Divine guidance in the form of the Holy Quran.

Share your Quran recitation goals. Generally, we aim to complete at least one reading of the Quran within Ramadan, but encourage them to read the translation as well. The older children can aim to read easy explanations of either the frequently recited Surahs or of Surah Baqarah since it contains many commands and prohibitions. If you’re able to, hold a brief family Quran session after Fajr reading a summary of a Juz daily.

Aim also to memorise a portion of the Quran, even if it is a couple of Ayahs, and reciting it in the daily prayers. An easy target could be to choose a 30 verse surah such as Surah Mulk.

Explore other resources

Enhance your knowledge of Islamic concepts, the Seerah and Islamic history through listening to different lecture series as a family. Resources such as Yaqeen Institute and Al Maghrib have inspiring Ramadan based lecture series that are short enough to capture children’s attention and imagination in the difficult last hours of the fast. Al Huda and Quran Academy have Quran based lectures and Seerah stories for Urdu listeners.

Buy or borrow colourful Islamic books and activity books to engage children. Check out www.hibamagazine.com/shop. Even certain television programmes or animated series that focus on Ramadan around the world or stories of the Companions are appropriate edu-tainment opportunities.

Sadqah

Children can be encouraged to spend as charity in Ramadan. You can involve the children in making a Sadqah box,contributing to ration drives and donating their collections in the last ten nights. Encourage them to spend on their family members too, citing the Hadith that ensures a double reward for spending on relatives.

Remind them also that charity isn’t necessarily in the form of cash, encourage them to de-clutter and give excess toys, books and accessories. You could even begin a Ramadan plantation drive.

Breaking a bad habit

Identify at least one bad habit that you will try to disengage from this month forever.

It could be to quit gossiping, reacting with anger, a bad word that you will refrain from uttering, an attempt to at least stop one messy habit or simply be an attempt to pray as soon as prayer time sets in. Encourage the children to help each other by friendly and gentle reminders when they see someone slipping.

Adopting a good habit

In the light of what Prophet (sa) encouraged, adopt a good habit each Ramadan to become a better Muslim for life. For instance, you can begin using the Siwak or reciting Surah Mulk every night. You could even begin daily habit of reading a small portion of Seerah or Islamic history.

This would also be a good time to adopt a Sunnah eating habit. You could include Nabeedh or Talbina in your diet especially at Sahoor or you could make a concentrated effort to portion control according to Sunnah regulations.

Family ties

Unfortunately, we are kind to strangers but often take family members for granted, being impatient and intolerant. Encourage each other to set goals towards grandparents, parents and siblings that include being more empathetic, helpful and patient. Encourage them to excuse angry outbursts or irritability as a natural consequence of fasting and sleep shortage.

Periods

Goals for days when you won’t be able to fast and pray are essential to prevent derailing your efforts to maximize Ramadan rewards. Continue memorization, focus on Adhkaar and Duas and read or listen to Seerah, Tafseer and similar books and lectures. Also, try making fasting easier for others around you by helping more in household chores if you’re able to.

Social media usage

Sadly, this merits a whole discussion simply because it is ‘Fitnah’ literally at the tip of your fingers. Not only do we waste time, but we fall prey to depression, greed, consumerism and obscenity on social media. It also often leads to arguments and ill feelings, so severely restrict your social media usage if you can’t delete the apps. Try to set a social media schedule that the whole family follows so that children can follow your role model and no one feels unfairly treated.

May this Ramadan bring your family closer together and grant it Iman and Taqwa for the rest of the year. Ameen.

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Ichra Incident: Some Points to Ponder

By Ammar Awais 

Incidents of mob violence have become a frequent occurrence in Pakistan. The recent episode in Lahore’s Ichra Bazaar was yet another example of how ignorance and illiteracy can fuel violence.

For those unfamiliar with the incident, a woman, accompanied by her husband, entered a shop wearing a long white shirt from a Middle Eastern brand that had the word “hilwa” – meaning good or beautiful –printed in Arabic calligraphy all over it. A man approached her and told her to “remove” the dress and wear a burqa instead. As they got into a heated argument, a charged mob gathered outside the shop, accusing the woman of blasphemy for having “Quranic verses” inscribed on her dress.

The mob abused the woman and shouted zealous slogans, calling for her to be killed. A man among the mob, who carried a loaded gun, was adamant that he would murder the woman. There was also danger that the stove from a nearby Shawarma stall could be used to set the shop on fire. However, the police arrived in the nick of time, and Gulberg ASP Syeda Shehrbano Naqvi boldly rescued the woman from the midst of the crowd.

While the worst was thankfully averted, this incident highlights our nation’s decaying state of both morality and intellect. In particular, it raises a number of questions for us to ponder.

Are we, as a nation, so unfamiliar with the Quran that we cannot differentiate its verses from an ordinary Arabic word? Assuming that everything written in Arabic is sacred or worthy of honour is ignorance of the highest degree.

Next, what set of beliefs is represented by those who pressured a woman to change her clothes in public? They certainly do not represent Islam, because making such a demand is not only shameful but against the basic moral values enjoined upon us by the Prophet ﷺ.

Why did those present fail to verify claims about Quranic verses being printed on the woman’s shirt? If they were all illiterate – which is unlikely to be the case – the least they could do was ask someone. The Quran itself strictly commands us to verify information before acting upon it, while the Prophet ﷺ has declared, “It is enough of a lie for a man to narrate everything he hears.” (Muslim)

Where did the idea of mob justice come from? It doesn’t represent Islam, the Quran or our beloved Prophet (sa). Every disputed matter or crime needs to be addressed by the authorities not the general public. Does this show our lack of respect and trust in our judicial system? Or does this show our lack of fear in the law and order representatives? Why was the woman made to apologize at the police station? It had clearly been established that her shirt did not have any religious literature inscribed on it. What was her crime then?

The only plausible explanation for her apology is that the mob needed to be pacified to prevent it from harassing the woman further, and to ensure her safety “in the long run”, as later described by ASP Naqvi to a media outlet.

The fact that even the law enforcement personnel are helpless against such mobs, and have to somehow appease them to curtail their violence, presents a very sad state of affairs for our country.

Also, why was no action taken against the mob at all? False accusations and slander are legally punishable in Islam. In fact, inciting violence against an innocent person may even amount to the crime of spreading corruption in the land for which the consequences could be dire. However, even an apology could not be extracted from the ringleaders of the mob.

It is also worth pondering how far we, as a nation, have strayed from the vision of Jinnah who wanted to establish a Muslim state based on principles such as equality, fairness, and discipline. It would indeed be a tragedy if countless men and women sacrificed their lives only for “mob justice” to prevail in our homeland.

Lastly, it is critical that we, the law-abiding citizens, raise our voice against such incidents of mob violence. Unfortunately, we have allowed a relatively small group of individuals to capture our narrative by maintaining silence over acts of violence and oppression. Most importantly, perhaps, those amongst us who love Allah (swt) and His Messenger ﷺ the most, should be the most vocal in condemning such mobs because they falsely use the name of Islam to try to justify their atrocities.

Let us conclude with some extracts from an apt statement (paraphrased from Urdu) made by Mr. Tahir Ashrafi, a religious figure, concerning the Ichra incident:

“I believe that the apology, instead of coming from the woman, should come from those who harassed her, caused her fear, and became a cause of defamation for Shariah and Islam.”

“While I appreciate the concerned officer of Lahore Police who timely arrived to save the woman’s life, I also want to say that the ones to apologize should be those who harassed her. They should be the ones to face legal action. Why should there not be legal proceedings against them?”

“Should we allow such terror and fear to spread in the country? If so, our sons and daughters will not be able to leave the house in future – everyone should get this straight. I hope that the Punjab Police and Government of Punjab will take legal action against those who engaged in this shameful act.”

 

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How The Youth is Shaping the #FreePalestine Movement

By

 Maryam Sohaib – Freelance writer

The last few months have left humanity reeling from  brutality. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed more than ten thousand children, and in doing so it has brought to light its long-standing oppression of Palestinians. An entire generation of youngsters, previously uneducated about this issue, have had their eyes forcefully opened about the reality of Palestinian struggle for freedom. As a result, Israel’s genocide in Gaza has proved to us that some of the most powerful voices in the world belong to those of young people. In fact, more and more youth now lean towards the Palestinian cause – particularly in the West, where a favourable narrative regarding Israel had largely dominated the 20th and 21st centuries.

In a survey of registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, 52% of American voters aged 18-34 now sympathize with the Palestinians, compared to 41% from the previous month.

Redefining Heroes

Young journalists, writers, artists, and activists, have taken to social media and other platforms to spread awareness regarding the ongoing destruction of houses, the killing of civilians, and the blockade of humanitarian aid.  We have seen, perhaps for the first time in history, a genocide unfold in front of our very eyes – on our own screens.

Young photographers and journalists from within Gaza have documented the pain and suffering of their people on a regular basis – often at grave risk to their own lives. While escaping relentless bombardment and grieving over loved ones, the likes of Bisan Owda, Motaz Azaiza, Hind Khoudary as well as countless other courageous Palestinian youths have shown us what it means to be heroic in the face of unspeakable horrors.

Through them, we were able to  glimpse into the resilience and faith of Palestinians as their houses are reduced to rubble and their whole lives uprooted. These young journalists have become an inspiration for youth everywhere – representing rare beacons of light in complete darkness of ignorance.

Setting Trends and Sustaining Boycotts

There is no doubt that Israel targets young people, both within and outside Palestine. Its motive is abundantly clear: to quell the outspoken boldness that naturally accompanies youth, to mitigate the risk exposing the apartheid state for what it is. But this generation of young people – for better or for worse – do not seem to be willing to back down.

Social media influencers who have used their platform to advocate for Palestine have been offered money in exchange for switching their narrative to spread Israeli propaganda instead. Clearly, the power of young people is alarming to those who wish to suppress evidence of the ongoing genocide.

The #FreePalestine movement has gained the status of the most trending hashtag on X, formerly known as Twitter, since October 2023. Pro-Palestinian posts have been viewed 15 times more than the average Pro-Israeli post in the wake of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. Young people have taken up this cause with great ferocity,  boycotting powerful corporations known to support the Israeli occupation of Palestine such as Starbucks, McDonalds, and Pepsi. Several companies have admitted to significant losses as a result of these efforts.

Fighting Suppression

While it may appear as though these social media campaigns and boycotts do little to stop the ruthless killing of Palestinian civilians, they have helped shift the global public opinion dramatically in favour of Palestine.

They have opened the eyes of people all around the world to the reality of the decades-long oppression of Palestinians under Zionist rule. People of all ages have researched deeper into the history of this sacred area which has historically been a battleground between different religions.

Young people  are also exerting organized efforts through institutions, such as the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – a student activism organization operating across the United States, New Zealand, and Canada. In fact, US university students from Harvard, Yale, and Columbia have claimed that their attempts to speak out against Israel’s actions have been suppressed and conflated with anti-semitic rhetoric. Many of them have reported harassment, efforts to destroy their career, and attempts to criminalize their speech – including the most basic calls for a ceasefire. Harvard’s biggest donors have also played a significant role in this crackdown on free speech. One Isareli couple who had previously donated $30 million to Harvard, resigned after a Pro-Palestinian statement was released by Harvard students blaming Israel’s occupation of Gaza for the deadly October 7, 2023 attacks. The goal here is obvious: to crush any pro-Palestinian sentiment lingering amongst the young, ambitious university students who will one day be in important positions of power.

Our role

So how can each one of us play our part in helping our youth who have been stepping out in the face of intense hatred and scrutiny to join the Palestinian struggle?

  • Boycott companies known to support the Israeli regime using the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement to decide which companies to stop purchasing from
  • Support the platforms of Palestinian youth in Gaza by following their social media accounts and sharing their content with others. Some accounts to follow on Instagram are @motaz_azaiza, @hindkhoudary, @wizard_bisan1, and @ahmedhijazee – alongside many others whose names and accounts can be found online.
  • Continue donating to charities like UNRWA that provide Palestinians with basic aid and lifesaving supplies. It has recently faced a significant drawback as several countries have pulled their funding.
  • Pray to Allah (swt), every time you open your screen and see a Gazan child under the rubble. Pray for them every time images of fathers burying their children appear on the news. Pray for their freedom, safety, and security.

At the end of the day, it is our youth who will determine the future of Palestine – not the people in power today. By rallying a whole generation behind this cause, the chances of today’s Palestinians youth living in a free Palestinian state – one their ancestors gave their lives for – become significantly higher.

Thousands of young people have been marching, protesting, and refusing to stay silent in big cities around the world, from Washington D.C to Berlin. Israel’s recent genocide in Gaza has brought to light the power of our younger generation.

Their campaigns, protests, boycotts, and loud voices on social media have proven that this generation, contrary to many negative perceptions about it, is our best chance at achieving a free Palestine.

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Worshipping Allah, At-Tawwaab

by Umm Isam 

“… And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of Repentance and Merciful.” (Al Hujurat 49: 12)

At-Tawwaab, one of Allah’s (swt) beautiful names, is mentioned in the Quran eleven times.

Who is At-Tawwaab?

He is the Acceptor of repentance, Who helps His slave to turn from a state of disobedience to the right station of obedience.

At-Tawwaab’s Divine Care and Mercy doesn’t abandon the sinning slave. He first places a sense of realization in the slave as soon as the slave oversteps his boundaries and transgresses. Next, Allah, At-Tawwaab, accepts the sinner’s repentance and pardons his sins. Finally, He grants steadfastness to His believing slaves to continue obeying.

At-Tawwaab is a superlative term that denotes that Allah (swt) accepts repentance repeatedly. He forgives grave sins, different types of sins, continuous sins and multiple sins. In fact, Allah At- Tawwab even rewards the repenting believer for his repentance.

Imagine the power of At Tawwaab, Who is capable of forgiving billions of individuals for their repeated countless sins. He accepted the repentance of people in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Abu Musa (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Throughout the night Allah (swt) extends His Hand of Mercy so that if anyone sinned during the day, turns to Allah (swt) at night. And He extends His Hand of Mercy throughout the day, so that if anyone sinned during the night turns to Allah (swt) during the day and asks for His forgiveness until the sun rises from the east.” (Muslim)

How is Tawbah an opportunity?

Islam does not endorse that man is a born sinner. Every person is born upon Fitrah (the natural inclination of connectedness to Allah swt). It is only when he reaches the age of puberty that his deeds start to be recorded by designated angels. Now that his training period is over, he is accountable for his actions before Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) has placed within man Khair (goodness) and Fujoor (evil) to test him. He taught Adam and Hawwa (as) how to repent and return to obedience after sinning and this is a lesson for every child of Adam (as) to follow now:

“Then Adam received from his Lord (some) words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed it is He Who is the Accepting of Repentance, the Merciful.” (Al Baqarah 2:37)

 Allah (swt) honoured the human race above all of the other creation because they use their reasoning to obey Allah (swt), their Creator, voluntarily.

Repentance is our path back to Paradise, more than anything else on this earth. It is a sign of Allah’s (swt) Compassion that His slaves turn to Him in repentance. Had Allah (swt) left it to sin, mankind would have self-destructed, and created a disaster in this world, thereby falling into eternal doom in the Hereafter.

No human being has the power or capability to instill the feelings of repentance in another human, or have him forgiven and reformed. Similarly, humans do not have the authority to listen, nor right to confess, to each other after violating Allah’s (swt) laws. They must seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and be purified by the means taught to us in the Quran and Sunnah.

The Tawbah of our Prophets

Repentance has been the tradition of our Prophets. Musa (as) repented to Allah (swt) after accidentally committing a murder. Yunus (as) asked for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness when he was trapped in the belly of a whale. Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to recite Astaghfaar a 100 times daily.

Tawbah as practiced by our Pious Predeccesors

  • Imam Hasan Al Basri

Three people came to Imam Hasan Al Basri, the great Islamic scholar of Basra, Iraq. One complained of poverty, another of childlessness and the third of drought. To all three of them Al Basri advised repentance.

When Imam Al Basri’s students asked him why the scholar gave all the three complainants with different problems the same Dua to recite, he quoted the Quran wherein Nuh (as) is quoted as advising his people that if they made collective repentance, Allah (swt) would send down rain, He would give them wealth and children and He would give them gardens and rivers.

  • Fudayl ibn Ayadh

Once Fudayl was asked: “What’s more important – to do Istaghfaar or do Tasbeeh?” He replied: “Think about a stained garment. What is the priority with that garment- to embellish it or to remove the stain?” The priority is Istaghfaar to remove the stain on your heart and then embellish it [with Tasbeeh].

The roadmap of sincere Tawbah

  1. Tawbah by intention

Our intentions are the basis of our actions. Hence upon realization, a sinner must firmly and sincerely make a resolution not to sin again.

  1. Tawbah by heart

This is Tawbah’s essence. The sinner must feel guilty about the sin he commits. When we hate something from the core of our heart we give it up eventually.

  1. Tawbah by tongue

The beautiful Duas mentioned in the Quran and the Hadeeth, can help you recite your plea and pledge before Allah (swt). They have been taught to us by our beloved prophet Muhammad (sa).

  1. Tawbah by limbs

Stop committing the sin you are repenting for. Relieve your body, mind and limbs from it.

  1. Tawbah by replacing evil with good

A vacuum in life becomes an open field for sin. We all know that an empty mind is a devil’s workshop, so ensure to replace it with good deeds recognized by Allah (swt) and confirmed by the Prophet (sa).

  1. Tawbah by changing the environment and company

Migrate from the environment that incites sins. Avoid companions that influence a sinful life. Observe your pattern of sins. Is it in solitude or among a group? Is it virtual or on a particular Application? Remove it from your life.

To err is human, but to commit an error and be adamant about it is not acceptable by Allah (swt). If one doesn’t repent, Allah (swt) places him in trials and difficulties allowing the slave the opportunity to repent and elevate in rank. Those who still do not repent are warned:

“And We had gripped them with suffering (as a warning) but they did not yield to their Lord, nor did they humbly supplicate, (and will continue thus).” (Al Mominoon 23:76)

Allah At-Tawwaab loves those who purify their souls by repentance and keep their bodies clean through Taharah.

Repenting once doesn’t mean that we will never sin again- Tawbah must be constant. Recite this Dua daily:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ

وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ

بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ

O Allah! You are my Lord, there is no true deity except You. You created me and I am Your servant. I abide by Your covenant and promise to the best of my ability. I seek refuge with You from the evil of which I have committed. I acknowledge Your blessings upon me. I acknowledge my sin. So forgive me for verily none forgives sins except You. (Bukhari)

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Agla Qadam (The next step)

By Alia Moin Adil and Umm Isam

Freelance Writer, Certified Life Coach and Hiba Magazine Writers

During the current testing times, when we are witnessing some of the minor signs of the Last Hour, there are questions we all need to ask ourselves:

  • As a Muslim Ummah, where are we headed?
  • How do we reclaim our lost Muslim identity?
  • How do we identify and tackle the trials we are facing today?
  • Most importantly, how will we be remembered personally in history?

Seldom do we think about ourselves as characters shaping tomorrow’s history. What we choose today and the kind of life we live now will decide our future life after death and how others will perceive our contributions left behind after we are gone from this world.

We all know that some names live on as Allah (swt) Al Aziz, The Mighty grants them honour centuries after their demise, such as the prophets and the Sahabah. Some names are synonymous with evil and their disgraceful identities are remembered for the worst crimes. Some people came and conquered silently as unsung heroes and left this world reaping rewards in their graves and Allah (swt) promises them a sound resurrection. Some misfortunate ones came and left the world unnoticed, entirely wasted and long forgotten because they did not avail the opportunities Allah (swt) presented to them to make a difference that leaves behind a mark of impact. Who are you among these? What will be your legacy?

Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “Indeed it is We Who bring the dead to life and record what they have put forth and what they have left behind, and all things We have enumerated in a clear register.” (Ya Seen 36:12)

So it is wrong to think that our life belongs to us and we may waste it whichever way we please. Allah (swt) Al Waarith, The Inheritor granted us this life, is looking after it while we live and will take it back when the time is right. However, He has granted us choices to make and decide how we want to live in Dunya and end up in the Akhirah.

The Azan Institute organized a full day conference in Karachi on 14th January, 2024 to help us find answers to many questions. The aim was to help renew our purpose and to take the next step (Agla Qadam) towards reforming ourselves on our journey to Allah (swt).

The scholars and presenters enlightened the audience with their thoughts on the next steps forward:

  1. Build a strong connection with Allah (swt)

Strengthen yourself and your Iman by strengthening your connection with Allah (swt) mindfully. Remember that Salah is your lifeline and know that Allah Al Baseer, is watching you and guarding you. Know that He is your provider, so take all your worries to Him. Understand Him through the Quran, Allah’s (swt) divine speech and His sublime names and attributes (Al Asma Al Husna) as Allah (swt) has introduced Himself to the mankind through them.

  1. Develop your character

It’s time to work on yourself. Correct manners and character building has much emphasis in Islam. Each member of the Ummah has a role to play. Every one of us is responsible for the state we are in right now. Ask yourself: “Am I a part of the problem? Am I also making the same mistakes that I point out in others? Am I following the Sunnah?”

  1. Attain Ilm/knowledge

Gain knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah from authentic people. The first divinely revealed word was ‘Iqra’ – read to enlighten yourself as well as your children with mercy and honour. This can be done by seeking the company of the learned. Remember that you need the Quran in your life for correct thinking, lasting guidance and true success.

  1. Recognize your mistakes

We are responsible for the state we are in but we keep deflecting the blame upon others. It’s time we recognize and acknowledge our mistakes so that we can reform ourselves. When others are creating trouble (Fasaad), be the one doing corrections (Islah). And the best correction is to begin with yourself and be involved in it lifelong. Hold the mirror to your soul and not just your face.

  1. Keep planting

Adopt the approach of a gardener. You may not see the fruits of your labour in your lifetime, but keep sowing the seeds of your good deeds. Focus on your strengths, nurture them, act diligently and feel happy when you do even if the world around you is burning. Remember Ibrahim (as)? Play your part even if people fail to appreciate you. Your motivation to plant good deeds should be for Allah Ash Shakoor, The Most Appreciative.

  1. Be useful to others.

Be a role model. Instead of blaming the darkness, be the light. Ask yourself: “What am I leaving behind in this world that will continue to benefit others?” Join such people, places, organizations to gain strength and become a force to reckon with. It becomes easier to contribute as a united front, stay inspired and feel content.

  1. Focus on growth and development

Instead of having a reactive approach to the issues around us, and gossiping about them with frustration, be proactive. Try to develop your skills and knowledge in a way that is useful to your community. Socialize with people who are well versed in the Quran and Sunnah and actively involved in socio-economic development so that you have correct role models and mentors.  Work on yourself so that your children are inspired too and want to become future role models and community leaders.

Recognize your worth

Know that you are the Ummah of the Prophet (sa). You are those for whom the Prophet of Allah (swt) made extensive supplications. Your mission is to convey the truth. Speak out, write and spread awareness. Live a life of purpose. Don’t be left out or left behind on the path to goodness.

  1. Wake up!

In this Dajjalic (deceptive) time, be aware of how the media keeps people biased and misinformed. Learn to be an independent thinker, submitted to Allah (st) alone. One must consciously determine whether they wish to live in a world of “comforting illusion” or make informed decisions.

  1. Rise up!

Our issue and our trials should not weigh us down. If you are going through hardships, take a break, refresh yourself and get up again. Our Prophet (sa), Al Muddaththir, got up for us, now we need to get up for ourselves and the Ummah.

Today, when we witness turmoil, injustice and pain around us, we tend to feel hopeless and helpless. Take the current situation in Gaza- we think things are beyond us. No, there is so much an individual can do:

  • Keep highlighting the issue on social media
  • Donate generously
  • Boycott the enemy and their allie’s commercial products
  • Make extensive Duas daily, for Dua is the weapon of the believer
  • Instead of waiting for a savior or the Mahdi, ask yourself: “What have I done to qualify as the follower of Imam Mahdi or Isa (as)?” It is time for introspection.
  • Most significantly remind yourself and others of Allah’s (swt) power, knowledge and final verdict: “It is Allah Who, has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them. (His) command descends among them so you may know that Allah is over all things competent and that Allah has encompassed all things in knowledge.” (At Talaq 65:12)
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Rajab- the Second Sacred Month

Huma Najam ul Hassan’s talk titled ‘Rajab’ Transcribed by Sadaf Azhar 

Rajab is the seventh month of the lunar calendar and one of the four sacred months in which the pre- Islam Arabs would not wage warfare and would instead perform Umrah. Islam continued to consider these months as sacred, in which warfare was not instigated. However, Islam allowed the Muslims to defend themselves if attacked.

Many Muslims believe that acts of worship will be rewarded more, but they forget the flip side of the coin- sins committed in these months are graver. It is similar to committing a sin in Makkah which is more reprehensible than committing it elsewhere.

For Muslims, the importance of Rajab is in connection to Ramadan- this is the time when you should begin planning and training yourself for the physical and spiritual rigours of Ramdan. A Hadith in Musnad Ahmad explains that the Prophet (sa) would pray for blessings in Rajab and Shabaan and he would pray to reach the month of Ramadan. This is a comprehensive Dua to reach Ramadan fortified with His blessings and protection.

What to do in Rajab

There are a few practical steps you can take to maximize the benefits of Rajab and start preparing for your Ramadan routine:

  • If you don’t pray Qayyam Al Layl (Tahajjud), start now. Rise 20 minutes before Fajr and pray reciting the longest Surahs you remember. If you regularly pray Tahajjud, try to prolong your prayers. Attuning yourself to less sleep and prolonged standing will help during the long Taraweeh prayers.
  • Fast voluntarily. Make sure you have made up the fasts you missed last Ramadan, and try fasting twice a week or on the White Days. It’ll make fasting easier in Ramadan.
  • Start revising the Quran you have memorized and try to memorise more verses or Surahs and Duas. Try to make each Ramadan better than the last by improving the quality of your worship.
  • Start reading or listening to the explanation of the Quran- it will help you concentrate during the Quran recitation of the Taraweeh.
  • Prepare for Eid- shop for your clothes and gifts. Remember, each minute of Ramadan is an annual blessing that you don’t want to waste in frivolity.

What to avoid in Rajab

Most Muslims believe that the incident of Isra wal Mairaaj occurred on the night of the 27th of Rajab. However, some traditions quote Rabi ul Awwal or another month as the month in which the miracle occurred.

Even though this was when Allah (swt) gifted the last two verses of Surah Al-Baqarah to the Prophet (sa) and his Ummah and Allah (swt) made the 5 daily prayers obligatory on the Muslims, the Prophet (sa) never prayed extra nor did he single out the 27th of Rajab to fast. Some muslims mistakenly believe that spending the night of 27th Rajab praying or commemorating this Ascension is a recommended act of worship but this is an innovation in Islam.

Another innovation that actually dates back fairly recently is the ‘Kunday’ of 22nd Rajab Kunday and Niaz given in Imam Jaffar Sadiq’s name. These were initiated in the princely state of Rampur in 1902. Some Muslims erroneously believe this is a means of gaining rewards and earning Allah’s (swt) Pleasure. However, food prepared using the name of anyone other than Allah (swt) is not permissible as explained in the Quran:

“He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 173)

Likewise, some Muslims believe that voluntary fasting is recommended in Rajab since the Prophet (sa) used to fast in this month. The Prophet (sa) would fast voluntarily throughout the year and there are no authentic Hadith that specify fasting in Rajab. As mentioned earlier, fasting more frequently in Rajab and Shabaan helps prepare our bodies to withstand the month long fast of Ramadan with patience and strength.