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Sep 30, 2009

How do we wear Self-Esteem and How is it Nurtured?

By Ayesha Akhtar

Islam offers guiding principles on wellness and health and taking appropriate measures to ensure it. When we are physically ill, we take precautions for rest or medication if and when necessary. We exercise to build healthy bones and keep our heart strong and oxygen flowing within our blood. We eat foods that nurture our bodies. But what do we do when something ails us internally? Certainly Muslims are humans who have emotions which can be abused, and thoughts which can be challenged.

With new opportunities of integration and assimilation come new challenges, and acclimating to a culture so different from that of the first Muslim immigrants is certainly one of them. For young Muslim girls, poor self-esteem or body image is especially problematic. In general, there exists too much stigma with depression or low self-esteem. It is as though we Muslims are collectively not allowed to feel depressed, sad or blue. In traditional cultures, low self-esteem or depression is often considered an indication of one’s low level of piety, or that s/he has ‘deserved’ that angst somehow.

When we feel good about ourselves, it shows in our dress, or communication and our interactions. Whether we realize it or not, we wear our self-esteem on our sleeve. Because it is so evident, we must learn to recognize symptoms of stress and anxiety, and collaborate to address their root causes. In a recent survey of young Muslim girls attending private Islamic schools, the most salient causes of anxiety and stress for them were their ‘dress, body image, and self-esteem’. If we are not giving our youth the opportunities to improve their self-efficacy, we are setting them up for emotional stress and anxiety. And there is much to be anxious about as a young Muslim girl. With images of confused sexuality in every corner, we as a community need to provide these girls (and boys) with avenues for self-efficacy to help boost self-esteem and body image. Many girls who have grown up in public school systems had the opportunity to be a Brownie/Girl Scout. I did, and absolutely enjoyed those experiences. Why not give the same opportunities to our girls attending private Islamic schools? We need parents to get on board and take leadership opportunities for the future successes of our young girls!

Our society places too much emphasis on physical beauty which provokes young girls to stress out, desperate to look a certain way to be accepted by the majority. Many Muslim parents extend this ridiculous emphasis further, and focus on whether or not girls are fair-skinned, hijab-wearing or are tall and how that will factor into an eligible suitor. Unfortunately, many girls are brainwashed into believing that beauty is a means to an end: marriage. Our community needs to re-examine what is really important, which is the bright future of our young girls (and boys, of course). If left unchecked, girls who suffer from low-self esteem can become vulnerable to complicated situations often involving boys. Especially in schools where girls are segregated from boys and are not participating in team-building exercises, girls are susceptible to bullying and chastising. In co-ed situations, girls look to boys for validation and acceptance. Girl-girl bullying, however, must not be ignored, and has recently come to my attention via a Chicago-area Islamic school. A letter written by a female student wrote prolifically about the physical attributes of another student in a most hateful way. While the letter was intercepted by an administrator, the Islamic school is not equipped to handle problems stemming from social and peer pressures. We need more social workers in the Islamic schools to provide a safe space girls can receive mentoring, and more activities that help girls improve their self-esteem, not reduce it.

I would be remiss not to mention hijab. Muslim women living in non-Muslim countries tirelessly fight for their right to wear hijab, and not subjugated as a sign of oppression. We mass e-mail images of Muslim women who cover with images of nuns, and highlight similarities of modesty. What a respite it was to read an article by Naomi Klein (http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/wolf3/English), who welcomed the hijab and chador as an experience to feel free, which gave her a “novel sense of calm and serenity”. As she correctly points out, the choice belongs to the woman, but that feeling of privacy and sanctity is invaluable. By donning the hijab (and in this article I am using it in the loosest term as ‘covering’ to include arms and legs), Muslim women are not oppressed but rather liberated and strong. An empowering self-image is expressed by choosing what to wear and what to conceal, how would that be oppressive? What about traditional western wear? How is that not oppressive? Every where anyone looks are hints of sexuality in advertisements for clothing, of course, but also in ads for laundry detergent and even toothpaste. Why does everything have to be so sexy?

Compound the hijab as dresscode issue with the rather conservative environment that is a private Islamic school. Uniforms are drab and boring, sexuality is repressed and ignored. Wanting to fit in and look beautiful is an issue that becomes exceedingly problematic (as I have found in my experience). Where will these girls explore their adolescent curiousity and feelings? So they wear their hijab in school and retreat to their homes and look to the peer-selected Hollywood celebrity to emulate. Is this a problem or a common consequence of any adolescent girl commuting between home and school? By not addressing these issues and looking the other way, our girls are creating microcosms of fantasy lives. A life in which they are accepted for who they *want* to be, not who they really are; and that is because we are not allowing them to be unique.

I’d like to believe we wear our self-esteem on our sleeve, and as such, need to be conscious of disquieting symptoms, celebrate happiness and be responsive when we see trouble in our youth. Let’s begin a healthy discussion on how we can create these opportunities for young Muslim girls. What are you doing in your communities to give them experiences that enhance their body image and self-esteem?

Ayesha Akhtar is Director of Policy & Research at HEART Women and Girls Project (http://www.heartwomenandgirls.org/). HEART empowers women through: Health Education (increasing access to accurate information and resources about one’s body and health issues), Advocacy (advocating for culturally-sensitive health care services & education for faith based communities), Research (conducting research to generate data and information about the status of women and girls from faith based communities), and Training (training women and girls to become leaders of wellness in their communities).

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Sep 26, 2009

Muslim Women Achieved Much in the Field of Knowledge

The gates of knowledge are open to the Muslim woman, and she may enter whichever of them she chooses, so long as this does not go against her feminine nature, but develops her mind and enhances her emotional growth and maturity. We find that history is full of prominent examples of remarkable women who sought knowledge and became highly proficient.

Foremost among them is the Mother of the Believers `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), who was the primary source of hadith and knowledge of the sunnah, and was the first faqihah in Islam when she was still a young woman no more than nine years of age.

Imam al-Zuhri said: "If the knowledge of `A'ishah were to be gathered up and compared to the knowledge of all the other wives of the Prophet (PBUH) and all other women, `A'ishah's knowledge would be greater."[34]

How often did the greatest of the Sahabah refer to her, to hear the final word on matters of the fundamentals of Islam and precise meanings of the Qur'an.

Her knowledge and deep understanding were not restricted only to matters of religion; she was equally distinguished in poetry, literature, history and medicine, and other branches of knowledge that were known at that time. The faqih of the Muslims, `Urwah ibn al-Zubayr, was quoted by his son Hisham as saying: "I have never seen anybody more knowledgeable in fiqh or medicine or poetry than `A'ishah."[35]

Imam Muslim reports that she heard her nephew al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (RAA) make a grammatical mistake, when he and his (paternal) cousin were talking in front of her, and she told him off for this mistake. Imam Muslim commented on this incident: "Ibn `Atiq said: `Al-Qasim and I were talking in front of `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), and al-Qasim was one who made frequent mistakes in grammar, as his mother was not an Arab. `A'ishah said to him, "Why do you not speak like this son of my brother? I know where the problem comes from: he was brought up by his mother, and you were brought up by your mother . . ."[36]

Among the reports in which the books of literature speak of the vast knowledge of `A'ishah is that which describes how `A'ishah bint Talhah was present in the circle of Hisham ibn `Abd al-Malik, where the shaykhs of Banu Umayyah were present. They did not mention any point of Arab history, wars and poetry but she did not contribute to the discussion, and no star appeared but she did not name it. Hisham said to her, "As for the first (i.e., knowledge of history etc.), I find nothing strange (in your knowing about it), but where did you get your knowledge about the stars?" She said, "I learnt it from my (maternal) aunt `A'ishah."[37] `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) had a curious mind and was always eager to learn. Whenever she heard about something she did not know, she would ask about it until she understood it. Her closeness to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) meant that she was like a vessel full of knowledge.

Imam Bukhari reports from Abu Mulaykah that `A'ishah, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) never heard anything that she did not know, but she would keep going over it until she understood it. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever is brought to account will be punished." `A'ishah said: "I said, `But does Allah (SWT) not say ( `Soon his account will be taken by an easy reckoning') (Qur'an 84:8)" He said, "That refers to al-`ard (when everyone is brought before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgement); but whoever is examined in detail is doomed."[38] In addition to her great knowledge, `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) was also very eloquent in her speech. When she spoke, she captured the attention of her audience and moved them deeply. This is what made al-Ahnaf ibn Qays say: "I heard the speeches of Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali and the khulafa' who came after them, but I never heard any speech more eloquent and beautiful than that of `A'ishah." * Musa ibn Talhah said: "I never saw anyone more eloquent and pure in speech than `A'ishah."[39]

Another of these brilliant women were achieved a high level of knowledge was the daughter of Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab, the scholar of his age, who refused to marry his daughter to the khalifah, `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, and instead married her to one of his righteous students, `Abdullah ibn Wada`ah. `Abdullah went in to his wife, who was one of the most beautiful of people, and one of the most knowledgeable in Qur'an, Sunnah and the rights and duties of marriage. In the morning, `Abdullah got up and was preparing to go out. His wife asked him,"Where are you going?" He said, "To the circle of your father Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab, so that I may learn." She said, "Sit down; I will teach you what Sa`id knows." For one month, `Abdullah did not attend Sa`id's circle beacuse the knowledge that this beautiful young girl had learned from her father (and was passing on to him) was sufficient.

Another of these prominent female scholars was Fatimah, the daughter of the author of Tuhfat al-fuqaha', `Ala' al-Din al-Samarqandi (d. 539 AH). She was a faqihah and scholar in her own right: she had learned fiqh from her father and had memorized his book al-Tuhfah. Her father married her to his student `Ala' al-Din al-Kasani, who was highly distinguished in the fields of al-usul and al-furu'. He wrote a commentary on Tuhfat al-fuqaha' entitled Bada'i` al-sana'i`, and showed it to his shaykh, who was delighted with it and accepted it as a mahr for his daughter, although he had refused offers of marriage for her from some of the kings of Byzantium.. The fuqaha' of his time said, "He commentated on his Tuhfah and married his daughter." Before her marriage, Fatimah used to issue fatwas along with her father, and the fatwas would be written in her handwriting and that of her father. After she married the author of al-Bada'i`, the fatwas would appear in her handwriting and that of her father and her husband. Her husband would make mistakes, and she would correct them.[40]

`A'ishah, the other wives of the Prophet (PBUH), the daughter of Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab, Fatimah al-Samarqandi and other famous women scholars were not something unique or rare among Muslim women. There were innumerable learned women, who studied every branch of knowledge and became prominent in many fields. Ibn Sa`d devoted a chapter of al-Tabaqat to reports of Hadith transmitted by women, in which he mentioned more than seven hundred women who reported Hadith from the Prophet (PBUH), or from the trustworthy narrators among the sahabah; from these women in turn, many prominent scholars and imams also narrated Hadith.

Al-Hafiz ibn `Asakir (d. 571 AH), one of the most reliable narrators of hadith, who was so trustworthy that he was known as haafiz al-ummah, counted eighty-odd women among his shaykhs and teachers.41 If we bear in mind that this scholar never left the eastern part of the Islamic world, and never visited Egypt, North Africa or Andalusia - which were even more crowded with women of knowledge - we will see that the number of learned women he never met was far greater than those from whom he did receive knowledge.

One of the phrases used by scholars in the books of hadith is: "Al-shaykhah al-musnidah al-salihah so-and-so the daughter of so-and-so told me . . ." Among the names mentioned by Imam Bukhari are: Sitt al-Wuzara' Wazirah bint Muhammad ibn `Umar ibn As`ad ibn al-Munajji al-Tunukhiyyah and Karimah bint Ahmad al-Maruziyyah. They are also mentioned by Ibn Hijr al-`Asqallani in the introduction to Fath al-Bari.[42]

The position of these great women is enhanced by the fact that they were sincere and truthful, far above any hint of suspicion or doubt - a status that many men could not reach. This was noted by Imam al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I`tidal, where he states that he found four thousand men about whose reports he had doubts, then follows that observation with the comment: "I have never known of any woman who was accused (of being untrustworthy) or whose hadith was rejected."[43]

The modern Muslim woman, looking at the magnificent heritage of women in Islamic history, is filled with the desire for knowledge, as these prominent women only became famous and renowned throughout history by virtue of their knowledge. Their minds can only be developed, and their characters can only grow in wisdom, maturity and insight, through the acquisition of useful, beneficial and correct knowledge.

34 al-Isti'ab, 4/1883; al-Isabah, 8/140.
35 Tarikh al-Tabari: Hawadith 58; al-Samt al-Thamin, 82; al-Isti'ab, 4/1885.
36 Sahih Muslim, 5/47, Kitab al-masajid, bab karahah al-salat bi hadrat al-ta'am.
37 Al-Aghani, 10/57.
38 Fath al-Bari, 1/196, Kitab al-'ilm, bab man sami'a shay'an fa raji' hatta ya'rifuhu.
39 Reported by Tirmidhi, 5/364, in Kitab al-munaqib, bab min fadl 'A'ishah; he said that it is hasan sahih gharib.
40 Tuhfat al-fuqaha', 1/12.
41 Tabaqat al-shafi'iyyah, 4/273.

Sep 25, 2009

Signs of a Good End

Written by Shaykh Muhammad Nasir-ud-Deen al-Albani

The Prophet, salaallaahu `alayhi wa sallam said, "A Muslim who is killed in a battle is a martyr, (dying in) plague is martyrdom, a woman who dies while delivering a baby is a martyr." 1

The Prophet, salaallaahu `alayhi wa sallam said, "The martyrs are seven, other than the one who is killed in the Way of Allaah, ta`aalaa:

One who dies of plague,
one who drowns,
one who dies of pleurisy,
one who dies of stomach ache,
one who dies due to burning
one who dies under a demolition (by accident)
a woman who dies with a baby in her womb." 2

The Prophet, salaallaahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "Getting killed in the Path of Allaah ta`aalaa is martyrdom,
[death in] confinement during childbirth is martyrdom,
[death by] getting burned [by accident] is martyrdom,
[death by] drowning [by accident] is martyrdom,
[death due to] tuberculosis is martyrdom,
[death due to] stomach ache is martyrdom." 3

1. Ahmad, Daarimee, Tiyaalisee, authenticated by Al-Albaanee
2. Maalik, Aboo Dawood, An-Nasaaee, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibban, Haakim, Ahmad. Authenticated by al-Albaanee
3. Tabaraanee, Ahmad, authenticated by al-Albaanee

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Self Esteem: Train the Bull That Satan Rides

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self esteem

The Nafs (an Arabic word) of a person; one’s ego, self, psyche or soul, is one’s greatest challenge. Surprisingly, a person may not be difficult to the world but may be a problem child to oneself. Allah – the Glorified and Exalted has created Man as 2 components; the inward existence is the Nafs which is unrefined and of the lowest rank when a person is born. And an outward existence which is the blanket of flesh and bones – the beautified aesthetics that initially conceal the low ranks of the Nafs. As a new dimension to the HH Self Esteem Series let us relate to how mastering one’s Nafs contributes to high self esteem i.e if you lack self esteem you have a glitch in your Nafs system!

Islam elaborates that each human being’s nafs provokes evil. Remember how Satan pledged when he was expelled from Jannah that he would forever adulterate people’s faith? Guess what’s his secret for success? He works through the nafs – the most vulnerable of all human assets. And unless we have a strong firewall ready to counter his attacks, he would spread like virus into our souls and corrupt our self. This is exactly how our self-esteem shatters too. Once enticed to commit evil, do the obvious wrong the others are doing, we stop respecting our self because we feel ourselves to be inferior in some way.

For example, unless a sister has a strong faith and a logical defense established within her psychology, she would immediately feel inferior in her Hijab and would chuck it off when Satan entices her to become part of the glamor and exhibition. The reason she gives in is because through her vulnerable psyche in the absence of strong faith, Satan succeeds in shattering her self-esteem. Initially, everyone is at the base stage of the psyche i.e. Nafs-i-ammara (the inciting nafs) which lures you into evil doings. This is Satan’s way of acting. He acts through the Nafs-i-ammara.

Sisters have been specially forewarned by Prophet Mohammad (sallalahu alehe wa’alehi wasallam) about their weakness of the nafs. The female nafs is the most vulnerable and that’s the reason she would become fuel to hellfire. Feminists react to this statement. But I gave it a thought. We sisters are more easily lured into gossiping, backbiting, seeking men’s attention, and etc. ASTAGHFIRULLAH. May Allah forgive the sins and give everyone a right direction. For the same reason, sisters have the most self-esteem issues.

Think for a while about the kinds of things that we sisters get into thinking about. This is the Satan working through our nafs-e-ammara (the inciting nafs) and poisoning our self-esteem.

“If I tighten the clothes a little bit extra curvy figure might win me a good man.” – this sister feels inferior in her Jilbab (the loose and covered dress).

“I should mingle around and go out with men more; after all, that’s how I’d be successful in today’s male dominated society.” – this sister feels inferior in her shell of feminism which is naturally designed to be soft and delicate.

To protect ourselves from feeling down in the dumps like that due to the exaggerated and pompous standards of society, we’ve got to take our weak psyche by the horns and train it. Believe me, an unrefined nafs is like a raging bull; ridden by Satan, which would destroy everything and everyone around it and in the end die of hurting itself as well. Our aim should be to progress from the stage of nafs-i-ammara; gradually, to the accusing psyche (nafs-i-lawwama) where you snap out of self-denial and boldly confront your ego; your submissive nature to Satan, and struggle towards perfection.

When you are ruled by the nafs-i-ammara you’re a vulnerable human being with a billion self-esteem issues. You may be uncomfortable with who you are and what you look like or what you think and do. Sometimes, self-esteem problems drive a person to breach Islamic limitations! They may not don the Hijab and submit to the glitz and glam, may dress without bothering about the satar (areas to be covered). Satan always uses the most lingering of our complexes as the biggest trick up his sleeves. You may become tempted to follow the footsteps of misguided people because they make them sound so “in” and may make you sound so conservative! Subliminal messages from the society may develop feelings of insecurity at times. Nafs-i-Ammara basically knows no reason!

So how exactly does nafs-i-lawwama (the self-accusing nafs) spring into action to overthrow Satan? It always takes a miracle – take it from me. Either you learn from a mishap or it is a conscious thought process that miraculously begins in your heart and convinces your mind. When you take a step towards Allah He takes a 100 steps towards you and closeness to Him would boost self-esteem! Self-esteem issues would be history!

Next, what happens is, that you corner from Satan’s prompts but the world continues to be a distraction for you. You are aware of your weakenesses but you maintain your self-esteem and do not let the weaknesses overshadow your life. You know your targets and you have a direction to follow! However, despite being a very proactive stage, it has its shortcomings. Since you are not entirely transformed and your heart still is not a 100% purified, you tend to indulge in the minor sins. These can be materialism, backbiting, glamorizing the Hijab, being lazy in your Salaah.

How can the ultimate peak of self-esteem be reached? Ah! That, dear sisters, would happen when you become the ultimate ideal Muslimahs and achieve a state of your soul called the peaceful nafs (nafs-i-mutma’inna). This is the stage of ultimate tranquility that has been attained by prophets and auwliyaa (people who became very close to Allah and attained His friendship). Materialism – the root of self-esteem issues – is completely relieved and all worldly problems appear to be minor grains of sands since you rest them with Allah.

I do not want you to get self-esteem issues because of the difficult struggle to the way of attaining this blissful state. The key is to not to rush yourself and do not feel inferior to those who have excelled in being better people of God but to be a “work in progress” and struggle towards excellence.

It is for this very reason that there are transition stages that you need to go through. First, you need to cast the faults of the past and the fears of the future into oblivion. And rest your case with Allah. Believe that everything would be for the greater good. This is the nafs-i-radiyya where you are in complete submission to Allah’s will. You would feel your esteem get a boost of energy. You would be happy with who you are. Next, strive towards the pleasing nafs (nafs-i-mardiyya) whereby you do the ultimate good and nothing else to people. When you do good, you hear good from them and it instantly boosts your self-esteem.

There is no deal made in Allah’s way that registers a loss. It is a 100% profit investment. Struggle with your ego, your psyche, your self is the greater Jihad (holy struggle) i.e. Jihad-e-Akbar as told by Prophet Mohammad (saww). It includes defeating the 7 evils of the nafs i.e. false pride, greed, envy, lust, backbiting, stinginess, and malice.

Ask yourself these questions and decide your course of action:

Which level is your nafs at?
Which evils do you find in your nafs?
Are you up for overthrowing Satan off from riding your nafs?
Are you in for become the perfect Muslim woman?

Then let’s train that BULL (the nafs-i-ammara – evil nafs) the Devil rides.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)

Islam and Dating by Imam Abdul Malik

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Women and Paradise

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Um Salama reported God's messenger as saying, "Any woman who dies when her husband is pleased with her will enter Paradise." [Tirmidhi, 286]

10 practical ways to increase happiness in marriage!

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The young and excited bride-and-groom-to-be; ecstatic about the upcoming wedding and marriage and the joy that it will bring. Three to six months later, reality has set in and both spouses realize that marriage is no easy task, but one that takes a great deal of effort and patience. The following are tips for both wives and husbands, to help make the task a little less daunting, and to increase the many rewards that are possible in such a marvelous and complex relationship.
Enter the Marriage with the Right Intention and Renew this Often 

Both spouses should enter the marriage with the pure intention of pleasing Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, in order to receive His grace and blessings. The marriage itself then becomes an act of worship and one for which both spouses will be rewarded. Allah will be pleased with them and this will be the most critical element in ensuring peace, stability and happiness throughout the marital life. It is also important to realize that when an act of worship is continued over a long period of time, it becomes necessary to renew one's intention often to remain on the correct path and to obtain the most benefit.

Remember that Your Spouse is also Your Brother or Sister in Islam 

Too often Muslims treat other people outside the home with kindness and sincerity, but then behave in a very different manner when it comes to their own spouses. Muslims should always remember that one's spouse is also another brother or sister in Islam and that the rights and duties that apply to the general brotherhood (sisterhood) of Islam, should also form the basis of the marital relationship. Obviously, a spouse has rights beyond these, but there should be a clear understanding of the rights of brotherhood (sisterhood) and adherence to these principles.

Do Not Hold Unrealistic Expectations

Before marriage, people often have unrealistic ideas about their spouse-to-be, expecting perfection in all aspects. This rarely, if ever, plays out in reality and can lead to unnecessary problems and concerns. We should recall that Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, created humans as imperfect beings, which means that many mistakes will be made throughout a lifetime. By turning the table and expecting imperfection, we will be pleasantly surprised and pleased when our spouse is much more than we ever hoped for. This, in turn, will lead to contentment within the marriage.

Emphasize the Best in Your Spouse

Since no one is endowed with all of the best qualities, emphasis should be placed on the positive qualities that a spouse possesses. Encouragement, praise, and gratitude should be expressed on a regular basis, which will strengthen these qualities and be beneficial in developing others. An attempt should be made to overlook or ignore negative characteristics, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "A believing man should not have any malice against a believing woman. He may dislike one characteristic in her, but may find another in her which is pleasing." (Muslim)

Be Your Mate's Best Friend

Try to think of what a best friend means and be one to your spouse. This may mean sharing interests, experiences, dreams, failures and upsets. It may involve understanding a spouse's likes and dislikes and attempting to please him or her in any way possible. A best friend is also usually someone that can be confided to trusted, and relied upon. A spouse should be the kind of friend that one would want to keep throughout life.

Spend Quality Time Together

It is not enough to share meals, chores and small talk together. Spouses should also find time to focus on strengthening the relationship. Often couples get busy with their own separate tasks and forget about working on one of the most important elements in life. Quality time may be anything from having a quiet, profound conversation to going for a nice long nature walk, to sharing a special hobby or project. Both spouses should enjoy the particular option chosen and distractions should be kept to a minimum.

Express Feelings Often

This is probably a very "Western" concept and one that some people may have difficulty fulfilling, but it is important to be open and honest about one's feelings, both positive and negative. The lines of communication should always be open and any concerns should be brought to the attention of the other spouse as soon as they arise. The rationale of this is that what begins as a simple concern may grow into a major problem if it is not addressed quickly and properly. The "silent treatment" has never been the remedy for anything.

Admit to Mistakes and ask for Forgiveness 

Just as we ask Allah to forgive us when we make mistakes, we should also do the same with our spouses. The stronger person is the one who can admit when he or she is wrong, request pardon from the other, and work hard to improve his/her aspects that are in need of change. When a person is unwilling to do this, there will be little growth and development in the marriage.

Never Bring up Mistakes of the Past

It can be very hurting for another person to be reminded of past mistakes. In Islam, it is generally not recommended to dwell on the past. One may remember errors that were made so that they are not repeated, but this should not be done excessively. Certainly, as humans, we are not in the position to judge another person. Advice may be given, but not in a harmful manner.

Surprise Each Other at Times

This may entail bringing home a small gift or flowers, preparing a special meal, dressing up and beautifying oneself (this is not only for women), or sending a secret note in a lunchbox. A little imagination will go a long way here. The idea is to spice up the marriage and avoid getting into a dull routine that may negatively affect the marriage.

Have a Sense of Humour

This particular aspect can go a long way in preventing arguments and brightening the atmosphere of the home. Life is a constant stream of challenges and tests, and to approach it in a light-hearted manner will help to make the journey smoother and more enjoyable. You may also find that your spouse enjoys this characteristic and looks forward to spending time with you because of it.

Quick Tips for Discussions and Disagreements:

Begin with the intention to resolve the issue. If both spouses have this intention and plan to consult together, it is more likely that there will be a successful resolution.

Remember that it takes two to quarrel. If only one person chooses not to argue, there will be no argument. Generally, the one who is wrong does most of the talking.

Both spouses should not be angry at the same time. If one of the spouses becomes upset, it is best if the other tries to remain calm and collected.

Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire. Of course, house fires do not occur very frequently; yelling should occur at about the same rate.

Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled. This is one of the worst things that can happen in a marriage and should be avoided as much as possible. This allows hurt feelings and thoughts to linger and generally exacerbates the problem.

If one spouse needs to win, let it be your mate. Do not focus on winning yourself; this is the main reason that discussions tend to become heated.

If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

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If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it. 

Happy moments, praise Allah. 

Difficult moments, seek Allah. 

Quiet moments, worship Allah. 

Painful moments, trust Allah. 

Every moment, thank Allah.

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The Virtues of the Night of Al-Qadr

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The Virtues of the Night of Al-Qadr

Author:3Abdullaah Ibn Saalih Al-Fawzaan
Abu Hurairah radhi Allaahu 3Anhu reported that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said:"Whoever performs the night prayer on the night of Al-Qadr with Eemaan (firm belief) and seeking reward will have all his past sins forgiven." [1]

This hadeeth is evidence for the virtue of the night of Al-Qadr as well as performing qiyaam (night prayer) during it. And it indicates that it is a grand night, which Allaah has honored and made better than a thousand months, with regard to its blessing and the blessings found in the righteous deeds that are performed in it. Thus it is better than the worship of a thousand months and that is equivalent to eighty-three years and four months. Due to this, whoever performs qiyaam (night prayer) with true faith and while seeking reward in it, will be forgiven his past sins. There were certain verses revealed concerning this virtue:
Allaah says: "We sent it (the Qur'aan) down on a blessed night. Verily We are Ever-Warning. Therein (on that night) is decreed every matter of ordainment." [2]
Therefore, it is a "blessed night" meaning it possesses much good and blessing due to its merit and the great reward that awaits the one who does good deeds in it. Among its blessings, is that Allaah revealed the Qur'aan in it. Allaah says:
"Verily, We have sent it (the Qur'aan) down in the night of Al-Qadr. And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr is? The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rooh (Jibreel) by their Lord's permission with all decrees. (All that night) there is peace, until the appearance of dawn." [3]
Ibn Katheer (rahimahullaah) said concerning Allaah's saying: "Therein descend the angels and the Rooh": "This means that the descending of the angels increases during this night due to the vast amount of its blessings. And the angels descend along with the descent of blessing and mercy, just as they descend during the time when the Qur'aan is recited and encompass the gatherings in which Allaah is remembered and spread their wings for the true seeker of knowledge, out of respect for him." [4]
This night occurs only in Ramadaan, since Allaah revealed the Qur'aan in it. He informs us that its revelation occurred during the month of Ramadaan in His saying: "Verily, We have sent it (the Qur'aan) down in the night of Al-Qadr." [5]
And His saying: "The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Qur'aan" [6]
This means that its revelation from Allaah to His Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam began in it.
Allaah's statement: "The night of Al-Qadr" is either an indicative of the honor and station of that night, as it is said: "Such and such person has great Qadr". The conjunction of "the night" to Al-Qadr is the joining of a descriptive feature to it, thus making it mean "An honorable night". 
The word "Al-Qadr" may also be in reference to the ordainment and disposal of affairs. Thus, its being joined to the word "the night" would be in order to denote a place or time for it. So it would mean "the night in which all that will occur in the following year will be decreed." This is similar to Allaah's saying: "Therein (on that night) is decreed every matter of ordainment." [7]
Qataadah said of this: "Therein is decreed every matter for the (upcoming) year"[8] and Ibn Al-Qayyim said that this is the correct opinion. [9]
What seems most correct is that there is nothing that restricts the possibility of these two understandings and Allaah knows best.
His statement: "with Eemaan" means with firm conviction in what Allaah has prepared for those who stand in prayer during this magnificent night. And "seeking reward" means looking for reward and the attainment of recompense.
Thus, this is a grand night, which Allaah has chosen for beginning the revelation of the Qur'aan. So the Muslim must acknowledge its weight in worth, by guarding it and spending it in worship whilst having firm conviction and seeking the reward of Allaah, in order that Allaah may forgive all of his previous sins. 
This is why the Prophet sallallaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam warned us about being heedless of this night and being neglectful of spending it in worship, for the Muslim would be prevented from its good.
Abu Hurairah radhi Allaahu 3Anhu reported that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said:"Ramadaan has come to you - a blessed month. Allaah has made it obligatory upon you to fast in it. During this month, the gates of heaven are open, the gates of the Hellfire are closed and the evil devils are chained. To Allaah belongs a night in it, which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is prevented from its good, then he has been deprived." [10]
The Muslim should supplicate much on the nights in which the night of Al-Qadr is sought. And he should supplicate with that which the Prophet sallallaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam instructed 3Aa'ishah radhi-Allaahu 3anha with, when she asked him: "What if I know on which night the night of Al-Qadr occurs, what should I say?" So he sallallaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: "Say: O Allaah, indeed you are All-Pardoning. You love forgiveness, so forgive me." [11]
Ibn Katheer (rahimahullaah) said: "It is recommended to supplicate a lot at all times and (to supplicate) more than that during the month of Ramadaan, its last ten days and its odd days. And it is highly recommended to increase ones invoking with this supplication: 'O Allaah, indeed you are All-Pardoning. You love forgiveness, so forgive me.'" [12]

By 3Abdullaah Ibn Saalih Al-Fawzaan

Source: Ahaadeeth As-Siyaam (pg. 141-143)

[1] Al-Bukhaaree (4/2550 and Muslim (759)
[2] Surat-ud-Dukhaan: 3-4
[3] Surat-ul-Qadr: 1-5
[4] Tafseer Ibn Katheer: (8/465)
[5] Surat-ul-Qadr: 1
[6] Surat-ul-Baqarah: 185
[7] Surat-ud-Dukhaan: 4
[8] Reported by At-Tabaree in his Tafseer (25/65) as well as Al-Bayhaqee in his book Fadaa'il-ul-Awqaat (pg. 216). Its chain of narration is saheeh.
[9] See Shifaa'-ul-'Aleel of Ibn Qayyim (pg. 42)
[10] This hadeeth is reported by Ahmad and An-Nasaa'ee. See Ahmad Shaakir's checking of the Musnad (no. 7148) and Saheeh At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb of Al-Albaanee (1490) as well as Tamaam-ul-Mannah (395)
[11] Reported by At-Tirmidhee and Ibn Maajah with an authentic chain. [Translator's note: The supplication transliterated from Arabic reads:"Allaahumma Innaka 'Afuwwun Tuhibbul-'Afwa Fa'affoo 'annee." ]
[12] Tafseer Ibn Katheer: 8/472