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Dec 30, 2011

Self Esteem : The Muslim Woman - A Warrior Of Sorts

By Anum Ali

The world has undoubtedly transformed into a big fireball of corrupt morals where a Muslim woman, in fact any woman, faces some serious issues that threaten to set ablaze her level of self-esteem. But as they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” And so she should fight like a warrior, armed with the shield of self-esteem and the sword of her Iman (faith). There are several spatial, verbal, and physical ways that a woman can adopt to counter the issues she faces and self-esteem is the only way she would be able to use them, inshAllah.

This summer I was in Karachi city in Pakistan, my native country, and I got the opportunity to revisit the shops and bazaars. Trust me, in a bazaar, a woman is most unsafe and feels the most humiliated because the men treat you like toys. The illiterate and morally corrupt men would resort to touching you as you walk on the street or in shops, they would stare at you regardless of your Hijab and/or Niqab, and they would tease you with chants and mockery. Now you know why a woman is not allowed to step out of the house without a mehram (a male blood relative). Of course we change these principles, and sometimes we say that we have to, because the times have modernized and the Muslim woman has made her footprint in the fields of education and professionalism.

The weakness is in the functioning and the attitude of the woman herself. She feels that taking her brother, her husband, her father, or any other male relative along with her to common day places would be looked down upon. She feels that it would be very anti-feminism, or that people would assume that she is oppressed. Obviously, this is a self-esteem malfunction.

The best way to tackle such a social problem is to be accompanied by a male relative so the people out there know that they have a good chance of being beaten up if they harass a woman. However, there are times when women are with a male relative and yet she is harassed. Again, if she chooses to remain quiet about an incidence she has a self-esteem problem. If she is incapable of voicing out the wrong that’s being done to her, she is confused.

Let’s look at it detail as to what really goes wrong in the psychological thought process that makes a woman who’s been wronged, spiral into silence. When a woman is teased physically, visually, or verbally, say in a marketplace, she feels as if she is a weak creature that can be toyed around with. If she’s made the mistake of being alone in a social mess, then she feels unsafe because she has no defense. Or, even if she is not alone, she chooses not to “create a scene” because she feels that it would be an insult to her. And hence, she chooses to tolerate the harassment.

While speaking to a friend, I realized that there is a yet another concern that a Muslim woman faces and this one, being in the family, requires a more thought out approach. As the youth is acquiring proper knowledge about the principles and limitations of the Islamic religion, they’re beginning to realize which practices they should stay away from. The biggest challenge for a Muslim woman is to deal with the issue of non-mehrams (males who are not blood relatives) and how to avoid their “loving advances.” There are the distant uncles who leap to pat you on the head, or a namesake uncle who runs to gather you in a greeting hug. Now, because you have grown up and know your do’s and don’ts better, your biggest challenge is to refuse such uncles.

Usually, when a woman is unable to put up a worthy fight in face of such dilemmas, she initiates a series of negative conclusions inside her head that make matters worse. For instance, because a “sticky” male relative is a respectable elder or an influential family friend who you cannot back-answer or push away, you resort into thinking, “Why does it have to happen to me?” “I will be punished by Allah (swt),” “I’d never be able to escape him,” and etc. I recall such an uncle from my days of teenage. He had a habit of grabbing boys and girls and kissing them on their cheeks. Me and siblings used to hide when he visited on Eid, but eventually he would make his way everywhere. I realized that was a unsuccessful approach.

The idea behind a Muslim woman’s struggle is to be proactive about the issues that raise their heads and to tackle them with sensible and sober means. And always know that you MUST set the wrongs right because there is always going to be a lot of resistance from your family that approves of such instances while you do not. You should value your self-worth because that is exactly why Allah (swt) prescribed the codes of mehram and non-mehram, He knows how precious you are. As some women allow such physical gestures from distant male members of the family or friends, they are unaware that they’re providing Shaytan an easy path. Look around you, you wouldn’t have to go too far to find stories of incest and molestation and it may sound far-fetched, but intermingling with non-mehrams is what forms their basis.

A sister’s concern was that if she refuses a particular “touchy huggy” relative, he makes a loud statement about her being an “extremist.” That’s a favorite word the world has chosen to address each hard practicing Muslim by. She also fears that in family gatherings, refusing him would “create a scene”. Her dilemma is understandable, and her realization and anxiety about the problem is honorable. How many woman realize their worth and limitations this way? My advice in such situations is a “threefold approach" process:

Change your approach: Redefine the way you carry yourself. Be more sober and more reserved in the company of men, respond to their gestures by a simple Salam with the wave of a hand, and maintain a distance.
Approach the “subject”: If the “sticky uncle” doesn’t understand your spatial distance, then communicate your view to him. This can be done either directly, maintaining a good voice tone, or via a responsible family member who’s willing to help.
Re-approach with good mannerisms: If you cut off completely after your “confrontation” it may sever family ties. Maintain your greeting and respectful mannerism, but keep a distance.

When I compare a Muslim woman with a warrior, I do so because she expected to put up a worthy struggle against a fireball of fitnah that the world has become. Not only is she to shield herself but also ensure that she doesn’t become a fuel to aggravating it i.e. if you choose to remain quiet and passive you’d be encouraging such moral incorrectness. So guard your modesty with the power vested in you by Allah (swt). Look for people who would help you and make it easier for your fellow sisters.

Together we can, together we will, inshAllah.

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

Dec 26, 2011

Resiliency Gained - A Guide to Stress Reduction

by Umm Amin

Bismillahi Arrahmani Irrahiim

SubhanAllah! Is the baby crying? Did you lose your job? Somebody is spreading rumors about you? People are talking about that hijab on your hair! Maybe you’ve got to get dinner on the table by 6 pm. Perhaps you are caring for a family member with a long term condition, like Alzheimer’s disease or Diabetes Mellitus. You might be noticing the lack of invitations to upcoming parties, or have it up to your neck with your three children that argue nonstop. You could be recovering from a loss or going through a divorce. Whatever individual test reaches you, chances are you can seriously benefit from stress reduction! Yes, you got it. Less stress: turn the intensity down and chill out! Alhamdulillah.

Stress is a biological response. Allah made us to respond this way. Whether it’s a cold ice cube in your hand, a startling noise, the smell of burning toast, a terrible sour milk taste, or seeing a vehicle approaching you head on; stress begins with intense and vivid stimuli that are sent to the brain. Your brain interprets the information it receives, and the threat is categorized into passing or an ongoing and real threat (Seaward, 2002). When your brain perceives a persistent threat, the nervous and endocrine systems pump up and prepare to respond. As a result, you may become jittery or on edge until the threat has passed and calmness ensues. Some of the physiological effects include a rapid heart rate, a pounding heart, increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, increased blood sugar, increased blood clotting, diarrhea, enhanced muscle strength, and increased sweating (Seaward, 2002). While these responses would normally be beneficial when you are trying to escape a frightening encounter, they can be irritating if you experience them for minor confrontations or your symptoms do not subside rapidly.

Most people experience a bit of stress now and then, but it’s usually experienced briefly. There are ill effects of ongoing or prolonged stress. Although the list of ailments is no comprehensive or all inclusive, stress can produce episodes of asthma, decreased immune response, tension headaches, fertility issues, heart failure, anxiety, depression, aging, muscular pain, gastrointestinal disease, ulcerative colitis, acne, diabetes, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, blood clots, canker sores, teeth grinding, gingivitis, and psoriasis exacerbations(Griffin, 2010; Heller, Lee, and Koo, 2011; Nazario, 2010; Seaward, 2002; Tofler, Silver, and Solomon, 2011). Unmanaged stress spirals out of control, other illnesses flare up, and it becomes difficult to do your daily activities like waking up for fajr on time or completing household chores.

Since stress is detrimental to our long term health, it interferes with our performance as wives mothers, sisters, and parents. Poor coping techniques make our loved ones frustrated with our stress responses. It is imperative to whittle stress down to manageable levels. Stress can be ameliorated with a variety of management methods including guided imagery, time management, organization, visualizations, aromatherapy, conscious relaxation, humor, breathing techniques, meditation, and exercise (Chang and Shen, 2011; Kornsweig, 2011; Seaward, 2002; Sibinga et al., 2011).
You may be thinking, that’s all good but how can I relate to stress personally? Think of where Allah says in the Qur’an, Surah Ibraheem, 32-34, “It is Allah who created the heavens and the earth and sent down rain from the sky and produced thereby some fruits as provision for you and subjected for you the ships to sail through the sea by His command and subjected for you the fivers. And He subjected for you the sun and the moon, continuous [in orbit], and subjected for you the night and the day. And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor [i.e. blessings] of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” By taking a few moments to focus on the simple parables that surround us, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the bounties we cherish every day. Enjoying a few moments basking in the sun, or contemplating the freshness of the drizzling rain that in turn brings forth fragrant and delicious fruits reduces stress and reminds us to set aside a few moments for relaxation and reflection. It also provides a few moments to thank Allah for the numerous simple treasures we cherish on a daily basis. 

That little voice keeps coming back to your head. In your mind you are saying, yea, but I need some real tips that I can put into my daily life. Finding a solution to your stress is an easy recipe. By starting a journal you can both jot down triggers to help you identify when stress is surmounting so you can take steps to intervene. You can also use reflective journaling as a means to positively cope and reframe your experiences to prevent your response to set backs or frustrations from being exaggerated.

There is an abundance of ways that you can fit stress reduction into your daily life. You can modify your lifestyle by adding in daily exercise, scheduling in naps or relaxations sessions, and limiting jitter inducing caffeine laden drinks such as cola, tea, coffee, and energy drinks. You can focus on having a positive outlook, and reframing problems to put them into perspective. You can ask for help, or exchange tips with other women while also enjoying the benefits of building loving friendship and engaging in camaraderie. You can learn relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, guided imagery, visualizations, acupressure points, or aromatherapy. Simply getting out into the outdoors relieves stress, increases your production of important neurotransmitters, enhances your mood, and affords you the opportunity to count the natural wonders and blessed beauties that surround you.
If you still lack beneficial strategies for reducing stress in your life, get out a pen and paper to start your personal stress buster list. Start out your list with some of the suggestions in the Ten Tension Reducers List, but add in additional ideas you dream up. Post the list in a place that will be easily accessible when you are feeling the constraints of stress. Make sure you pause and make a cognizant effort to select one of these liberating activities the next time you feel under duress.

Ten Tension Reducers
1. Spend 15-30 minutes reviewing surahs you have already memorized. You will find pleasure and comfort in reciting familiar words of the Qur’aan. Take a few minutes to reflect on the meaning of the ayat and apply them to your life.

2. Laugh. Tell a joke. Share a funny story with someone. Better yet, have a humor pal and send jokes to one another once a week. You’ll have something to anticipate in the mail!

3. Make a poem. Mount it on colorful construction paper. Decorate the edges with pretty ribbon. Gift it to a friend or loved one.

4. Take a walk in the park, or hike a nature trail. If you enjoy running, swimming, or biking, do it outside!

5. Plant a tree, a flower, or a small herb garden. Go back to enjoy it and rest by it from time to time.

6. Surround yourself with positive reinforcements and affirmations. Use quotes as well as bright, vivid images. Make a collage or paint a poster to hang up later. The picture you create will be both inspiring and invigorating later on.

7. Read a book to a child or elderly person. It will be a moment to relax and share together.

8. Practice deep breaths in which you draw air into your diaphragm and slowly let the air out. Mix it up by adding in a relaxing cup of mint or verbena tea.

9. Increase the colorful fruits and veggies in your diet! Get out to the local market to select fresh, beautiful natural food choices. Supplement that with a healthy dose of water each day.

10. Put a few drops of bergamot or eucalyptus oil into a warm bath. Top it off with some bubbles. It’s time for a good soak to relax your muscles and mind from head to toe.

Chang, K-M, and Shen, C-W. (2011). Aromatherapy benefits autonomic nervous system regulation for  elementary school faculty in taiwan. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Griffin, M. (2010). 10 health problems related to stress that you can fix. WebMD.  http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress management/features/10-fixable -stress-related-health-problems
Heller, M.M., Lee, E.S., Koo, J.Y. (2011). Stress as an influencing factor in psoriasis. Skin Therapy Lett,  16(5), 1-4.
Kornsweig, J. (2011). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): a monograph. Oriental Medicine, Spring, 19-33.
Nazario, B. (2010). How stress affects you oral health. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-2/stress-teeth
Saheeh International. (1997). The Qur’aan: An authentic, accurate, and clear English translation. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Abulqasim Publishing House.
Seaward, B. L. (2002). Managing stress: principles and strategies for health and wellbeing. 3rd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones an Bartlett Publishers, Inc.
Sibinga, E., Kerrigan, D., Steward, M., Johnson, K., Magyari, T., and Ellen, J. (2011). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for urban youth. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(3), 213-218.
Tofler, G.H., Silver, J.M., and Solomon, D. (2011). Psychosocial and other acute factors in acute myocardial infarction. UpToDate. http://www.uptodate.com

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Dec 20, 2011

Yes, Women Can Work! (Part 2)

View Part 1 of this series HERE.
by Khadeejah Islam

The need to be productive and hence, working:

Although most of the women now have a vision to be productive, there are many who do not have any definite aims. Why do we need to have big goals? What is the need to be productive? Why should we consider leaving a legacy? How does it matter if one woman does not contribute? Let us look at some of the reasons why a woman should be productive:

Reward: We need to think of work as a ladder to success in the Hereafter. When a Muslimah looks after the sick, she will be rewarded insha’Allah. When a Muslimah raises children as good human beings, she will be rewarded insha’Allah.

Halaal earning: There is nothing wrong in having a halaal earning, which she can invest in da’wah or charity projects. She can also utilize it to finance the needs of the family.

Dispel the misconception: Many consider Muslim women as backward and oppressed. When you contribute to your family and the wider community, you are representing Islam in a positive light. This could work as an effective da’wah technique. Moreover, you will be helping to dispel much of Islamophobia. When non-Muslims see that you have the best kids in the neighbourhood, they will be inquisitive about Islam. When you start a project which eases the sufferings of others, it will soften the hearts of people.

Catering to the needs of the Ummah: By starting up a project, you might be able to reduce unemployment and poverty. In addition, you might be able to inspire others to be productive in the society. With the number of Muslims rising, we need to have sufficient halaal output so that Muslim men, women and children have enough halaal options for entertainment, education, employment, and many other facilities.

Utilize your blessings to the fullest: We are indeed blessed with many things, such as good health, sound mind, special skills, free will, merciful heart, basic amenities and much more. We need to recognize and utilize these to the fullest to show our gratefulness to Allah. Therefore, develop your hobbies and other special skills. This could also help you to avoid boredom. Remember that an idle mind allows Shaytan to instill evil thoughts, such as jealousy, suspicion, despair, etc. in you.
Similarities between Muslim house-wives and “working” women and how they both work
We often assume that the world of a working woman is distinct from the world of a house-wife. As a result, many women debate that either one of the two is superior to the other. I find this division unnecessary and illogical. Both types of women are indeed working – in their own fields, with their own levels of expertise. What we need to see is whether they have contributed to the best of their abilities in their respective fields. Have they succeeded in raising the most wonderful kids in the neighbourhood? Have they volunteered for a noble cause? Have they promoted, say, modesty by selling hijab materials? Apart from these, they share some excellent qualities and emotions:

Undoubtedly, both want to balance work with other duties. In most cases, both are not so blinded by ambition that they will abandon their families. They believe in moderation, and at the end of the day, seek rewards from Allah.

Both want to be productive solely for the sake of Allah. They are very clear about their intentions as well as their visions. They stay away from any activity which is forbidden by the Qur’an and Sunnah. Both want to incorporate Islam into every thing they do, wherever they are, whether at home or outside the home.

Both have some womanly instincts in common, for example, empathy for others, appreciation for modesty, the ability to forgive quickly, concern for their families, etc.

How to encourage productivity of women

There are many men who complain about time-shifts. How can a woman pay attention to the family if she is working outside her home from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M., or even longer? The answer is quite simple. Everyone should come forward to build a workplace/work environment based on the teachings of Islam, instead of complaining about the lack of it! Therefore, for instance, time-shifts could be shorter and more flexible so that each woman will have to work outside the home for a couple of hours only, or will have the opportunity to take breaks between the working hours. Moreover, there are always home-based options.

Inspire others to be productive. Start with the people around you. Remind them why it is important to be productive. Recognize their talents if they have not done so themselves. Inspire them to be moderate and balanced.

Men could greatly encourage the women, whether she is a mother, wife, or sister, by helping with their projects. They can advise, or even take up certain areas of the project in their own hands. They may even initiate a certain project and delegate certain responsibilities to the women.

Make duaa. Ask Allah to enable Muslim women to be productive.

To be continued insha’Allah…
I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Dec 19, 2011

Steps To A Happy Marriage Part 2

by Rubina Siddiqi

view Part 1 of this series HERE.

It is He who created you from a single person, and made from his mateoflike nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love) - Al-A'raf: 189

All marriages have their ups and downs - but seeking Allah’s help (subhana wa ta’ala) and making dua at times of distress for every issue helps sort out the problems most effectively.

Role of our Deen:

We should try our level best to make our faith/Deen a priority in our lives. Let it be the foundation on which you build your life together. The Barakah (blessings) this will bring in your life will be obvious to experience and witness, Inshallah. Strong Iman and Taqwa should be an important part of a healthy marriage. Our Faith is not just a religion but it is complete guidance regarding howweshould live our lives. As individual Muslims, you and your spouse maybe on different “wavelengths”; meaning you may see things somewhat differently in matter where there is room for disagreement. Take this as an opportunity to grow together in thedeen and do Islamic things together. Simple acts of praying together, attending halaqas together, or reading the Quran and discussing its meaning will not only help strengthen your faith in Islam, but will also become a common thread that will bind you together. The beauty of Islam is that every minor and major thing has been made very clear. A couple will find a clear perspective regarding the different issues in their marriage, be it their rights, duties, responsibilities etc.

Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) relates that the Holy Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam said: ‘Everyone of you is a protector and guardian of his immediate charge and is responsible for the actions of those persons who are committed to his charge. A ruler is also a steward, a man is a steward in respect of his family members of his house, and a woman is a steward in respect of her husband’s house and children. In short every one of you is a steward and accountable for those who are placed under his care.' (Bukhari and Muslim)

Be a Friend to each other :

This is a simple yet important aspect of marriage. Do things that you enjoy together as a couple. Try to show enthusiasm for each other’s likes and hobbies. Joke around with your spouse as this lightens the atmosphere at home. Share your laughter with each other.

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: while she was on a journey along with the Apostle of Allah salAllahu aleyhi wasallam: I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping. - Sunan Abu Dawood - Book 14, Number 2572
It is also necessary to take time out for each other when you can talk about everything and nothing. Take a trip down memory lane whether you have been married for a year or 20 years. Remind yourselves of the good times spent together and look back on how you have grown together as individuals and as a couple in your marriage.

Grass is Greener on the other side:

In this era of social networking we are constantly bombarded with images of happy and perfect lives of others. Never compare your spouse or your married life to that of others. Be thankful to Allah subahana wa ta’la for what he has blessed you with.

Abu Hurayrah radi Allahu ahnu narrated that Allah’s messenger sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam said ”Beware of envy as it devours good deeds just as fire devours fuel.” - Muslim
It is easy to get frustrated if we start comparing our lives with the perfect families we see and start feeling unsatisfied in the imperfections of our marriage. Remember your knowledge is limited to the reality of your life and not that of others. It is always better to focus on the fact that perfection of your marriage lies in your hands. Always give Shukr for what you have and do Sabr for what you don’t.

I conclude by saying that in the end the main thing to remember and incorporate into our lives in every relationship is that we should try our level best to give it it’s due. Do not let minor things become big issues, and always be aware of the fact that this may be our last chance to rectify our mistakes. Learn to give unconditional love and respect to the important people in your lives before it is too late.
I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Dec 13, 2011

Education Based On Application

by Khadeejah Islam

Back in school years, we were exposed to an educational curriculum which focused on learning through memorizing. In addition, we were led to believe that good grades along with a dozen of certificates reflected our aptitude. Therefore, most of our childhood years were spent in cramming notes and memorizing a large portion of the textbooks, even if we did not understand the concept. If we were to leaf through old textbooks, we would stumble upon a lot of pages marked with the words “memorize by heart.” Later in life, during the years in university, we were allowed a little bit of space as we were assigned projects where we had to apply the lessons that we learnt. However, at the end of the day, the students were still habituated to memorizing.

This system of learning continues even today. Most of the students memorize by heart before the exam, and once the exam is over, they unload their memory and hence, cannot retain most of what they had learnt, or even memorized (without learning or understanding). Such a method of learning has come under heavy criticism in the past few years. This is because memorizing perhaps ensured better grades, but later in life, the lessons memorized did not materialize into actions. In other words, the students, failing to grasp the concept, did not know how to implement or apply what they had learnt. As a result, they were unable to generate new ideas for the betterment of the society. Their individuality and creativity was stunted. Their productivity at work declined. The certificates were of little value. In addition, most of them were reluctant to participate in extra-curricular activities and community service projects, because they were too busy chasing certificates and grades.

It is indeed a pity that such a mode of learning has crept into the world of Islamic education. Nowadays, people are vocal about the importance of seeking and conveying knowledge, but the issue of application is ignored. There have been instances where duties involving application have been overlooked. The following are a few examples:

People update their Facebook status with a verse from the Qur’an and think that they have “saved” the world. While such a technique is not really bad, and may convey the message of Islam easily, it should also be noted that others want to see how that verse can be applied in the modern world. Furthermore, not everyone uses Facebook, and even if they do, not all are regular. Therefore, implementation is essential to guide your neighbours and others with whom you interact on a regular basis.

There are many who are so “busy” seeking and conveying knowledge that they do not have time to stop and ask others if they are in any need or not. They do not have time to respond to urgent messages. They do not have time to visit the sick. They do not have time to volunteer for community service projects as much as they should. Where is the implementation of the knowledge that they are seeking and preaching?

I urge my brothers and sisters to implement the knowledge as much as they are seeking and conveying it. The real test lies in application. For instance, it might be very easy to preach that we need to be patient, but harder to do so when we face a major loss in our own lives.

Furthermore, many people, such as rape victims, do not hope for a long lecture, but they do expect you to drop by, spend some time with them and say a few words of kindness. The following are examples of ideas which need your application:

Contribute an idea to reduce poverty and unemployment, or to support women battered by domestic violence or forced marriages.

Represent Islam by engaging in beneficial causes, such as sponsoring orphans, raising awareness about AIDS, participating in various workshops, etc.

Work with other Muslims on Islamic events and projects. There are many options out there. You can contribute by your skills of writing or halaal photography. You can organize halaal movie screenings in your area. You can donate to authentic websites and promote them.

Do not cut off social interaction. We, as Muslims, have already been accused of “not integrating into the society.” Therefore, make it a point to maintain contact with others at least once a week. With the advent of social networking sites, this should be easy. Do not ignore mails, text messages and calls (unless absolutely necessary). Go around in your community, interact with others and see who needs help. Your neighbour might be suffering from domestic violence and may want your intervention.

Keep up-to-date with current affairs. I do not understand why people ignore newspapers. I do not know of any ruling which says that reading newspapers is haraam. You need to know what’s happening where, so that if the need arises, you can do your bit to help. Newspapers often publish reports (especially local ones which do not receive much attention) which could help us to stay safe, to raise awareness, or to engage in charity. You can also participate in halaal events.

May Allah enable us to practise at home as well as in the wider community all the Islamic values that we preach. Ameen.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Dec 8, 2011

Get to know Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimullah)

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (real name: Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr) was a famous Sunni Islamic jurist, commentator on the Quran, astronomer, chemist, philosopher, psychologist, scientist and theologian. His scholarship was focused on the sciences of Hadith (tradition of the Prophet peace be upon him) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). But because of his extensive work pertaining to human behavior and ethics, he is commonly referred to as “the scholar of the heart.”

At the age of 21, he joined the study circle of the Muslim scholar Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, 661H – 728H (1263–1328). This most notable of his teachers kept him in his company for sixteen years as his closest student and disciple. Ibn al-Qayyim was fervent in his devotion to his teacher; defended his religious opinions and approaches; compiled and edited most of his works and taught the same, and later became his successor.

Ibn-al Qayyim devoted long hours to nightly prayers, and was in a constant state of Allah’s remembrance (dhikr), as he was known for his extended prostrations. He believed that “The heart is fortified through fear of Allaah and dhikr” and stated:

“When the heart is nourished with dhikr, its thirst quenched with contemplation and cleansed from corruption, it shall witness remarkable and wondrous matters and be inspired with wisdom.” (The Hardness of The Heart)

The Islamic scholar, Ibn Kathïr, who later on came to be known as the most renowned Muslim scholar and compiler of the most comprehensive Qur’anic commentaries ‘Tafsïr Ibn Kathïr’, was also a student of Ibn-al Qayyim. Ibn Kathir stated that Ibn Qayyim :

“..was constant in humbly entreating and calling upon his Lord. He recited well and I do not know of anyone in the world in this time, who is a greater worshipper than he is. His Salah used to be very lengthy, with prolonged Ruku’ (bowing) and prostrations. His colleagues would criticize him for this, yet he never retorted back, nor did he abandon this practice. May Allah bestow His Mercy upon him.”

Ibn Qayyim was particularly known and commended for his commentaries. Ibn Rajab spoke of his teacher, noting :

“He was an accomplished scholar of Islamic science, and no one could rival him in his deep understanding of the Qur’an and prophetic sayings, and his interpretations were unique in accuracy.”

Other Major Works
Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s contributions to the Islamic library are extensive. He compiled a large number of studies besides his own books, including:

  1. Tahthïb Sunan Abi Dãwoud (Emendation of Sunan Abi Dãwoud)
  2. Al-Kalãm al-Tayyib wa-al-‘Amal al-Sãlih (The Essence of Good Words and Deeds)
  3. Commentaries on the book of Shaikh ‘Abdullãh al-Ansãri: Manãzil-u Sã’ireen (Stations of the Seekers), which is considered the epitome of knowledge of sufi books; besides other manuscripts copied with his own handwriting, and which are preserved in the Central Library in Damascus, Syria.
  4. Zad al-Ma’ad (Provision of the Hereafter) – Click here to get this book
  5. Al-Waabil Sayyib minal kalim tayyib – a commentary on hadith about Prophet Yahya ibn Zakariyya.
  6. I’laam ul Muwaqqi’een ‘an Rabb il ‘Aalamee
  7. Tafsir Mu’awwadhatain (Tafsir of Surah Falaq and Nas)
  8. Al Fawaa’id
  9. Ad-Daa’i wa Dawaa also known as Al Jawaabul kafi liman sa’ala ‘an Dawaa’i Shaafi
  10. Haadi Arwah ila biladil Afrah
  11. Uddat as-Sabirin wa Dhakhiratu ash-Shakirin
  12. Ighadatu lahfan fi masayid shaytan
  13. Rawdhatul Muhibbaan
  14. Ahkaam ahl al-dhimma”
  15. Tuhfatul Mawdud bi Ahkam al-Mawlud
  16. Miftah Dar As-Sa’adah Click here to get this book
  17. Jala al-afham fi fadhl salati ala khayral anam
  18. Al-Manar al-Munif
  19. Al-Tibb al-Nabawiya – a book on Prophetic Medicine (available in English as “The Prophetic Medicine” , printed by Dar al-Fikr in Beirut (Lebanon), or as “Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet (sal allahu `alayhi wa salim)” , printed by Darussalam Publications. Click here to get this book
  20. Al-Furusiyya

He departed from the world about which he had said:

“Yearning for Allaah and meeting Him is like a gentle breeze blowing upon the heart, blowing away the blazing desire for this world.” (The Hardness of The Heart)

Ibn Al-Qayyim Sayings
“The highest rank of intention in seeking knowledge is seeking knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah and knowledge of the laws of Allah. The meanest intentions are those seeking the answers to hypothetical questions, that is neither divine nor real, or those who are hesitant and follow the words of others and do not have any intention to know what is right. It is rare if any of those obtain benefit from gaining knowledge” [al-Fawwaid]

“Whenever Allah, the Exalted prevents His believing servant from something during this worldly life, He will bestow upon him something which is better and more useful to him. It should be noted that this is only granted to the believers.” [al-Fawwaid]

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) established a relationship between the fear of Allah and good character, because fearing Allah improves the relation between the servant and Allah, and good character improves the relation between a person and others. Therefore, fearing Allah makes it possible for Allah to love him, and good manners makes it possible for people to love that person.” [al-Fawwaid]

“Be satisfied with whatever Allah grants you from this worldly life. Walking thereon is like walking in a land that is filled with beasts, and water that teams with crocodiles. That which causes delight, turns to be the source of grief. Pain is found in the midst of pleasures, and delights are derived from its sorrows. As a bird sees the wheat, so does one’s insight perceive polytheism, while vain desires render its holder blind.” [al-Fawwaid]

“Whosoever causes his heart to settle with his Lord shall find himself in a calm and tranquil condition and whosoever sends it amongst the people shall be disturbed and excessively perturbed.” (The Hardness of The Heart)

Dec 7, 2011

The Story Of The Queen Continues (part 2)

by Umm Sulaym

To read part one of this series, click HERE

Dearest Readers:
Asalamo alaykum warahmatullah,

You wonder why Taqwa is such a big deal.
The simple answer is: it helps an individual survive.

If a Muslimah adorns proper Taqwa of Allah SubhanahuWaTa’la, it will help through her divorce. Through her marital problems, phase of unemployment, child-less marriage life, difficult university courses, minimal prospects for marriage proposals, physical and psychological challenges. Through all those times when everything seems to stab her motivation and prevents her from reaching her potential.

She has hope amidst all those problems. She has hope in Taqwa (God consciousness) of Allah SubhanahuWaTa’la.

O Silence envelope me,
As I make myself vulnerable to growin love,
Like a broken-winged bird,
My heart is fearful to soar to the skies above...

O Silence envelope me,
As I hand my heart to The One High Above,
Whether He crushes it for my good or comforts it,
I know I will embrace it all and grow in love.

O Dear Silence envelope me,
Resonate deep within me,
For I have given Him everything I had,
With my Salah, my sacrifice, my life, my death
I gave the Self-Sufficient
my unwavering contentment for the good and the bad.

O Silence envelope me!
Envelope the noise within me...
As I sit, I hesitantly smile,
My eyes focused on the Prize,
Realizing that its surrounded by temptations and trials,
I fear,
I hope,
I suddenly tear,
Yet I know I'll cope…
As I fall in love

The Waterfallssing me Your Praise,
The Clouds thunder as they magnify Your Name,
All the Creations are doing your Tasbeeh,
Won’t You allow me too to prove the love that I claim?

O Silence envelope me,
As my knowledgehelps me fall in love with Ar-Raheem,
YaRabb! Help me build the boat of Taqwa,
And please lead it safely to Jannah’s streams.

King Boorie died. Zummurud (Rahimullah) was a woman after all, so she might’ve felt the pain. She might’ve suffered the loneliness. She might’ve shed tears. But like the laws of Universe, nothing ever stops. No fairy godmother comes and uses a wand to change your world. One must move on with one’s purpose of life.With the strength of Taqwabi’itnillah.

Queen Zummurud(R)’s son Ismaa’eel became the next King. She was a righteous woman and one would expect that her son would too be righteous. However, that was far from the truth. To make matters worse for Zummurud (R) after her husband’s death, her son Ismaa’eel made the survival of the people under his care, a living hell. Drinking, devouring people’s money and torturing people was something he got notorious for. Zummurud(R)’s other son Sunj tried to shake some sense into his brother. But instead of listening, Ismaa’eel locked him up in the dungeons and starved him to death. Complaints flooded Zummurud’s attention for long and she tried what she could. But Ismaa’eel went to that extra length and he started spreading rumors about his own mother. He accused her of Zina or illegal sexual relations! Notice sisters, Zummurud (R) didn’t faint or create a scene. She didn’t commit suicide now that her honor was completely destroyed. SubhanAllah! If that wasn’t enough, Ismaa’eel plotted with the Crusaders, the enemies of the Muslims, to ‘sell away’ Damascus in exchange for being granted governorship under the Crusaders’ Rule.

Now Zummurud (R) couldn’t tolerate it anymore. It was another thing that Ismaa’eel had severely hurt her by killing her son Sunj and tarnishing her honor. But now it was a matter of loyalty to the nation. Sisters, she could’ve taken a back-seat and let the men handle the political issues. She could’ve wailed and died out of depression because things had stopped working out after her husband’s death. She could’ve surrendered for she was surrounded by corrupt governors who supported Ismaa’eel. She could’ve confined herself to her room all her life deep in ‘Ibada. But she didn’t because the knowledge of Islam empowered her with a solution. And she wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem. She consulted the judge whether she could implement hudood punishment on Ismaa’eel (recall he had killed Sunj). The judge said that it was permissible.

Zummurud(R) ordered her servants and guards to lock the palace doors and ordered Ismaa’eel to be killed as soon as he entered.

Would anyone of us ever imagine that for our own child? Would anyone of us even bother sacrificing our sleep or rising career that conflicts our religious values for the Sake of Allah SubhanahuWaTa’la? Or that brother we are intending marry because he has everything except strength of Deen?

The hallway echoed with her son’s last words, ‘Zinhaar (Protect me)! Zinhaar (protect me)!’ Zummurud (R) knew that what may not seem right to her heart was what was right for her nation. Allah SubhanahuWaTa’la’s fear over Shaytan’s manipulative emotions. She was a mother saw her son die in front of her very eyes. A woman who was a loyal Queen before she was a mother. A loyal Queen who was a Faqihah (scholar of Fiqh) foremost. A Faqihah who had feared her Lord so much so that she was willing to sacrifice the baby she had nurtured in her womb for nine months. After all she had suffered despite being a good Muslimah. She could’ve asked herself what all these years of knowledge of Islam helped her in anyway. Her Eeman could’ve weakened. But what made her so strong?

“…It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.” [Surah Fatir, 35:28]
She was taken to court and was held accountable in front of the judge. Since she was a Faqiha, the judge that she had sought consultation prior to taking such a step.

Zummurud(R) didn’t take the easy way out. Unlike most of us, who are willing to take off jilbab/niqaab at the smallest of tests and self-created fears. Zummurud(R)’s heart was so firm in the fear of Allah SubhanahuWaTa’la that the fear of the people didn’t have the chance to enter!

Shihab-ad-Deen Mahmood, her next son, was appointed the new King. Since he was of weak personality, Zummurud(R) had to make most of the decisions. With her previous experience, she ordered certain things to be changed in the society and almost immediately there was Barakah in her efforts. A place which suffered at the hands of a tyrant transformed into a shining land of prosperity. She abolished taxes, started the biggest school (called al-Khatooniyya) and so harmony prevailed. Naturally, like always, when a righteous Muslimah conquers all her desires and fears, Iblees deploys soldiers of Shayateen against you. The fraudulent advisors who previously benefitted from the corrupt rule of her son Ismaa’eel did not appreciate the reforms instituted by Zummurud(R). Since the new King, Mahmood, was obedient to his mother and complied to her orders, they couldn’t use him as a pawn. So they schemed to get rid of her in order to influence Mahmood! They suggested Zummurud(R) to marry Imaadaz-Zinkee who was the ruler of another land near Damascus (refer back to the previous article to find out who he was). In the past, one of the reasons why Kings and Queens married was to unite two regions which were fighting to uphold peace and harmony. Thinking that it might be an excellent way that may bring benefit to her people, Zummurud(R) agreed.

Did Zummurud(R)’s trials end there? Not really.

Will yours after getting that job, degree, getting married, having cute children? Not at all.

‘Whoever tastes the sweetness of Truth, every hardship on his path becomes easy for him.’ [From the book: هكذاعلمتنيالحياة by Dr. Mustafa al-Suba’i]

Truth = knowledge of the Lord = Taqwa

.:Story to be continued inshaa’Allah:.

And Allah SubhanahuWaTa’la knows best.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Dec 6, 2011

SPANISH - Choosing Your Anger Destiny

By Umm Amin
Translation by Holly Garza

SubHaana 'alaa! ¿Alguna vez has tenido un día largo de que haceres y lavando ropa, cocinando la cena y la comprobación de datos de sus hijos tareas cuando usted nota que alguien ha entrado en la casa? Imagínese si esa persona entra sin poner los zapatos en la puerta, dejando huellas de lodo por el suelo recién limpiado! Aaargh! ¿No te imaginas que puedes tirar las manos en el aire y gritar hasta que tu cara es color rojo? ¿O qué pasaría si te quedaras “callada” con mal humor seguida de comentarios negativos y quejas insinuando que estas enojada? Cualquiera de estas opciones permite que tus emociones se pongan a tu sangre a sentirse “a hervir”, y si no se controla estas podría afectar negativamente sus relaciones con sus seres queridos.

No nos queremos hacer daño con nuestra ira(coraje) o hacer daño con la ira a otros, ya que rompe la unión, paz y el tejido de familia y comunidad. En el libro mas noble de Díos leemos Sura Imran, 132 a 134, "¡Y obedeced a Alá y al Mensajero para alcanzar la misericordia. Y acelérense a suplicar el perdón de nuestro Señor y el jardín, es decir [ Paraíso] tan amplia como el cielo y la tierra, preparado para los justos y justas que se la pasan pasan [en la causa de Alá], durante la facilidad y las dificultades y que refrenar la ira y que el perdónan a la gente (a otros)-. Alá ama a quienes hacen el bien "

Está claro que el mensaje del Islam da mucha importancia y la recompensa a disipar la ira y perdonar a otros. Estos aleya nos muestran que abstenerse de la ira y perdonar a otros entre los que se gastan en el camino de Alá y son recompensados ​​con el paraíso!

Cuando nos encontramos con la ira (enjojados o llenos de coraje), nos debemos de tratar de dejar a nuestra esas emocíones, hacer dua, hacer el wudu, y perdonar a los demás. En Sahih Bujari bin Sulaiman Surd (que Allah esté complacido con él) narra: "Mientras yo estaba sentado en compañía del Profeta de Allah Salahu alaihi wa sallam, dos hombres se estaban maltratando uno al otro y la cara de uno de ellos se puso roja ye hinchado lleno de ira(coraje/enojo/rabia), y su vena yugular aumentó (es decir, se puso furioso). Y el Profeta, de Alá Salalaju alayhi wa sallam, dijo: "yo sé una palabra, el dicho de que hará que se relaje, si él hombre lo dice. Si él dice:. Me refugio con Allah de Satanás, entonces toda su ira(coraje/enojo/rabia) desaparecerá y relajara", Alguien le dijo a el. dijo el Profeta, Salalju alaihi wa sallam dijo '. Busque refugio en Allah de Satanás ", dijo el hombre enojado , "¿Estoy enojado?"

Estar enojado por un incidente puede ser beneficioso si toca a su energía para hacerse mas productiva, facilitar hacerte un cambio positivo, o si este enjo te hace abrir la comunicación de mensajes poderosos, o la identificación de un problema para que puedas comenzar a remediarlos. Sin embargo, la ira (coraje/enojo/rabia) desenfrenada arruina relaciones, ahoga la creación de soluciónes cooperativas, cierra diálogo, y domina la colaboración esencial de otro modo podría haber sido solicitado como las estrategias para alcanzar un objetivo común.

Esencialmente, la ira (coraje/enojo/rabia) es el resultado del fracaso de alcanzar una meta deseada (Bowness et al., 2008). Básicamente, se imagina llegar a su destino final - como un piso de cocina impecablemente limpia, pero un problema como pistas de lodo le impide llegar a su destino del piso limpio que usted imagina o desea al llegar. Cuando encuentre esas huellas manchando su piso, su furia lo impulsa a seguir adelante y superar el obstáculo. La ira puede ser negativa incorporar como rabietas, furioso, la ira activa, comportamiento impulsivo, percepciones distorsionadas y una serie de acciones que socavan la confianza y rompe relaciones (Geroloff, 2000). Del mismo modo que alguien que reprime la ira puede interpretar la ira como estar fuera de control, incompatible con el amor, mala educación, o contrario a la esencia del perdón (Gerloff, 2000). Como consecuencia de la represión ira, algunas personas se sienten victimizados, impotente, atrapados en una situación injusta, o hasta incluso se sienten en la depresión. Ellos no toman medidas para evitar la repetición de cortes de carretera (soluciones al problema) por completo caso omiso de su ira. Según un psicólogo Dr. Hoskins a fin de evitar lamenta y positivamente controlar la ira, una persona "se siente lleno de la ira, identifica el resultado deseado, y expresa sentimientos de una manera que preserva las relaciones (Gerloff, 2000)."

Cuando surge un tema caliente(algo que te hace sentir ira, coraje o no muy bonito y se genera una discusión, tome unos minutos para calamarte y pensarlo todo. Dua, la realización de la ablución, sentadote o acostandote son unas de las posibilidades para una escapadita en la que se puede reflejar. No perder de vista el panorama – o sea mantente en reflecion de tu meta y lo que quieres alcanzar -manteniendote en la vista de lo que quieres pone las cosas en perspectiva. Aquí es donde puedes ver que tan importante es esto y reflecionar sobre esto. Puede ser que tenga que considerar si sus expectativas son realistas o no razonables - puede un niño de dos años muy quieto durante dos horas mientras el té con los clientes? ¿Hay un momento más apropiado para discutir el tema? Piense si es posible que se sienta mejor después de una buena dosis de ejercicio - a veces un paseo o una caminadita en el aire fresco le permite reflexionar y te da espacio para pensar. Si estás atrasado (anochado) de sueño lleno de fatiga, a lo mejor con un bien descanso piensa mejor?

Cuando usted se siente los síntomas de la rabia - enrojecimiento de la cara, palpitaciones, aumento de la presión arterial - frío hacia abajo con una técnica de relajación. No importa que método o methodos usted usen, ya sean relajación incluyendo una pausa para contar hasta diez, una caminadita, haciendo wudu o dua -un refresco, o acostadandote para cerrar los ojos e imaginar las olas del mar se extiende hacia fuera para darle la bienvenida – usted se volverá renovado después de estas acíones. Una vez que tenga toda la compostura y la calma, piensa en el verdadero problema a la mano e intenta un enfoque a la identificación de posibles soluciones. Describa sus sentimientos con "yo" en lugar de culpar a alguien (personal de la Clínica Mayo, 2011). Por ejemplo, usted podría decir "yo estaba frustrado porque he hecho mucho trabajo para encontrar que el piso este lleno de lodo", en lugar de ", tenias que haber quitado tus zapatos!?!" Tenga en cuenta la situación desde otro ángulo, a veces incluso puede ser divertido y se puede usar el humor para aliviar la tensión.

Ultimadamenta, cuando te enojas puedes manejar tus emociones con una variedad de técnicas. Usted puede suprimirlo, expresarlo, o calmarlo ( a sus emociones) (Bowness et al., 2008). Básicamente, usted puede decidir cómo va a controlar su ira de manera positiva, de los cuales 1) quedanso callada y llena de ira, 2) Canalizar la ira en las actividades productivas y positivas, como el ejercicio, limpiando, nuevas metas o 3) Contener la ira mediante el uso de técnicas de relajación y reducción del estrés consciente. Además, puede reflexionar sobre los sentimientos que estás teniendo mietras en la rabia y analizar donde esta su prolema. Analizando sus pensamientos le permite identificar cuál es el problema con la que se enfrenta, y pensar en el resultado que desea. A continuación, puede considerar todas las posibles y acciones disponibles, y pensar en las consecuencias de ambas opciones positivas y negativas (Bowness, 2008).

Manejo de la ira con éxito(buenos resultados) significa tomar decisiones conscientes y positivamente sobre el reconocimiento de las emociones de ira y dar pasos hacia su meta deseada, sin crear daño a usted o a cualquier otra persona. Al analizar sus opciones, puede seleccionar la ruta que más positivamente logra llegar a su destino. La conclusión es que expresando tu enojo con habilidad y positivamente. La ira en sí misma no es perjudicial - puede ser una motivación para el cambio y la fuerza que te empuja una hacia el crecimiento y soluciones, siempre y cuando se experimenta y se expresa dentro de las fronteras y los límites apropiados.

Usted puede tener una causa legítima de la ira, pero el perdón provoca ayuda y apoyo en la prevención de un problema que se produzca de nuevo. Después de todo, aprendemos en Sahih Bukhari que Abu Huraira narró: que el Profeta de Alá sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, dijo: "Cuando Dios completó la creación, escribió en su libro, que esta con Él en Su Trono," Mi Misericordia Domina a mi ira. "Por otra parte, en el Sahih Bukhari, el Libro de la Fe, nos enteramos de que el Profeta Mohammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, dijo:" Ninguno de ustedes (realmente) tiene fe hasta que quiera para su hermano lo que quiere para sí mismo. "Parte de nuestro amor por los demás debe ser la capacidad de ponernos en sus zapatos, para considerar su punto de vista, y ofrecer el perdón y la misericordia cuando podríamos estar enojado. Y ningún ser humano es más misericordioso que Dios, ARRahman, y en el Día del Juicio todos vamos a buscar la misericordia de ArraHeem!


Bujari. (2010). Sahih Bukhari. Obtenido de Internet desde: http://www.sahihalbukhari.com/sps/sbk/
Bowness et al. (2008). manejo de la ira creativa: una visión general. En salud mental por
Enfermería de Salud: Capacidades, Roles y Responsabilidades. Londres, Reino Unido: Libros Quay.
Gerloff, L. (2000). Manejo de la Ira. RN Mississippi, 62 (4).
Personal de la Clínica Mayo. (2009). Manejo de la Ira: Diez maneras de dominar su temperamento.
Sahih Internacional. (1997). El Corán: Una auténtica, precisa y clara Inglés
traducción. Ryadh, Arabia Saudita: Editorial Abulqasim.

Dec 5, 2011

GEMS : Hellfire has been forbidden to....

It's reported that Abu Rayhana (radi Allahu anhu) said, 'The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said:

"Hellfire has been made forbidden for the eye which wept out of the Fear and Awe of Allah. Hellfire has been made forbidden for the eye which stayed awake and vigilant (through the night) in the Way of Allah. Hellfire has been made forbidden for the eye which looked away from that which has been forbidden by Allah."

[Narrated in Hakim, authentic according to Shaykh al-Albani]

Dec 2, 2011

The Month of Muharram & The Day of Ashura

Sheikh Bilal Ismail educates us about some history and benefits of the 1st sacred month in the Muslim calender - Muharram. He also discusses the most virtuous day in this month - the day of Ashura.


Why should I fast Ashura by Shaykh Waleed Basyouni

Shaykh Waleed Basyouni explains the importance of fasting on the day of Ashura and importance of the month of Muharram. Click NOW to watch this short video!

Nov 29, 2011

The Imaan Battery

by Lola Of Arabia


A major issue that many Muslims face is when their Imaan (faith) dips. Recently I had a few days when my Imaan and even my self confidence was low, and I really liked how my husband explained the phenomena: Our Imaan is like a battery, sometimes it’s fully charged while other times its low and needs to be recharged

So what are some issues that cause our “Imaan batteries” to lose its charge?

In this life we, not only as Muslims but as humans, face much stress. Stress can be from school, work, family or everyday activities. Sometimes we become doubtful or fatigue and stop wanting to do anything for anyone, even ourselves. It’s normal for people to have short spouts of “depression” that can last 2-3 days (Please note: If you have depression that lasts for more than 2 weeks please seek professional medical help). Personally ,when I feel stressed instead of turning towards Allah, I turn away from Allah and even from my friends and family. I become short tempered and ill with everyone I hold dear and love and begin to shut people out from my life. A big problem that causes us to lose charge to our Imaan Battery is Shaytaan (Satan or the devil) is strong; he knows all our weaknesses and uses such knowledge to push us away from Allah. Also sometimes, especially for reverts or recently practicing Muslims, their try to do too much at one time, which causes more stress than needed.

What are some techniques we can use to “charge” our Imaan’s batteries?

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves...” (13:11) 

When the feeling of “I don’t want to make salat (Islamic prayer) or making salat wont’ change anything” first we must realize such thoughts are coming from Shaytaan. Shaytaan is an enemy that knows us too well. The front line for fighting Shaytaan is our salats and Sunnah salats (prayers in which Mohammed sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam would prayer after each of the obligatory prayer).I think of it like this: Salat is like a shield that protects against Shaytaan while Sunnah is like a sword used to battle him. Remember that in stressful times in our lives, we MUST turn to Allah, because in those stressful times we are weaker and start following wrong actions from Shaytaan.

“…God does not grace with His guidance people who [deliberately] do wrong" (9:109) 

Though Salat is protection from Allah, reverts and recently practicing Muslims must remember, “don’t bite-off more than you can chew”. I think it’s great to change for Islam, in most cases it’s a must, but trying to do too much at once can be very difficult and can put so much pressure on issues that, at the present time, might not be as important as others; like wanting to do the night and morning salats before getting settled and strong in doing the obligatory and sunnah prayers.

An example from my life:

I talked with my husband one night when I was just feeling my “Imaan battery” so drained, and my husband could sense my energy and he said “don’t do too much, take your time, don’t stress yourself, you must take everything step by step” and I realized that I was trying to do so much at once, I wanted to do extra salats and wanted to learn Arabic so quickly and wanted to memorize all the Quran, but in reality I had to take things one step at a time. I remembered that I must concentrate on the obligatory Salats and Sunnah Salats and make sure I am stable before moving to the next step. We must build a strong foundation before building the rest of the building, or it will crumble at the first problem or storm that come along. 

Also it’s a good idea to find an Imaan Buddy, so when the Imaan battery needs to be charged again, there is someone who will give their help and support like a friend, sibling or spouse. It’s very helpful, because when times get stressful and frustrating there is someone who can not only offer their support on the issues which are causing stress but also give reminders that it’s a must to pray and not to forget Allah.

Most importantly, remember that it’s a must to have patience. The best way to seek patience is through Allah, 
“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah ]” (2:45) and “And be patient, for indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” (11:115) 

The scholar Ibn Qayyin Al Jawziyyah also said “It’s is impossible to have patience for the sake of Allah without patience by the help of Allah” Allah never gives us too much that we cannot handle 

“Say, "O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account."(39:10)

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

Nov 28, 2011

To Life or To Death

by Sister Sunshine Smiles

“Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon”

Indeed we belong to Allah(SWT), and indeed to him is our return.

The intensity that this statement offers does not pertain to death alone but different perceptions of loss and intellect that blows my novice mind to amazedness.

A few years back, this phrase came into my existing Dua’ dictionary when my Father introduced me to it as I was unaware on how to react on the news of somebody’s sad demise.

That one unforgettable morning which started with these words on my lips even before the break of dawn, forced my mind to shut down emotionally for the rest of the day.

It is unimaginable how Allah(SWT) finds the perfect reminders to soften our hearts from the deep barriers of hardness that develop around it in the conscious attempt of living up to the ever competing world.

This isn’t another article reminding you that death is inevitable and all that. This one’s about life, creatively wrapped in ribbons of genuineness symmetrically bowed in what we love to call ‘Love’, of which death does hold some significance.

Love, that was initially focused on our parents when we were 4 years old eventually got distributed to, say a few relatives, cousins and friends when we turned 10 and even more friends and relatives as we turned 18. And when we get married, oh the list increases manifold. Starting from love for the husband to your new family and relatives and who not. Not to forget, soon after the babies that come who gobble up love in means of measures that only start with truck loads and can extend to something as indefinable as a whole country’s population.

Note: I don’t mean to sound so insensitive with the above portrayal, we women just love to ‘Love’. We are born with instincts of love. Love that beams from our hearts in kaleidoscopic patterns and decorates the world in oodles of blended colors warming the heart like no other. Love, that starts off as a whole at birth, in course of life, eventually gets diffused and disseminated to multitudes of fractions in diverse amounts.

And in this engrossed life of loving and living, just when everything seems smooth and settled in, comes a random time when a fraction of the ‘whole of love’ is taken away. Just like that! Sometimes with the grace and ability of our own mistakes and naiveness and sometimes with reasons utterly unknown to us. And when that happens it leaves a sense of silent pain and emptiness in our hearts that our intuition is to flinch from the reality that just bit us. Maybe run away from it coz’ yeah sure, that’s easy right! We would probably wish we had multiple choice options to the unknown question life introduces to us so we can randomly pick an answer desperately hoping for it to be the right one. But all we are left with is the reality to face it, to deal with it and make peace with it.

When we lose somebody very close to us it leaves behind a void in our hearts. A void that begins to eat us slowly, like REAL slowly. For some, time may begin to stand still and for others, time may begin to walk tortoise steps but no matter how analogous time may get, the certainty of life moving on finds its way to kick you on your butt and push you forward, whether you want to or not.

Undoubtedly, Allah(SWT) has defined a way of life for us. Life and death, Loss and gain. Yet when we make new friends, we barely thank him but when we lose them we grieve and complain…Astaghfirullah! Where is the justice in that?

Indeed, it is Allah(SWT) who introduces people in our life according to His will and it is He who takes them away.

And Allah quotes in The Noble Quran that every soul shall be tested with trials and tribulations but no soul shall be burdened more than they have the capacity to deal with thereof.

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” - The Noble Quran Translation by Sahih International [2:155]
"But those who believed and did righteous deeds - We charge no soul except [within] its capacity. Those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally.” - The Noble Quran Translation by Sahih International [7:42]
Note how in the aforementioned quotes, Allah(SWT) has advised us to bear our trials with patience! And Allah’s is the supreme guidance!

May He forgive us for our graveness when we question him on our struggles and complain incessantly in our difficult times unknowingly!

May we always remember that when the storms of trials are being tested on us, clear skies are never far behind. May we be ever patient to bear them and InshaAllah may we see the sun shine brighter on our side of the fence!

But most importantly, May we make Dua for all the people, who we lose unwillingly or unknowingly, to Life or to Death!

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Nov 27, 2011

GEMS : Forgiveness

GEMS : Forgiveness

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) said the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

"Any person who sins then performs wudu correctly and prays and afterward seeks Allah's forgiveness Allah forgives him."

Then As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with ) recited the verse "And those who when they commit an indecency or do injustice to their souls remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their faults -- and who forgives the faults but Allah, and (who) do not knowingly persist in what they have done." {Al-Imran 135}

Important Reminder: The most beloved deeds to Allah

Narrated Aisha that the Messenger of Allah stated, "The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those which are done regularly, even if they be small." [Bukhari and Muslim]

... please share this short and sweet message with others :)

Nov 26, 2011

GEMS : Which People Are The Best?

GEMS : Which People Are The Best?

Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) narrated the Prophet (saw) was asked, "Which people are the best? "

He (saws) said, "The best people are those whose tongues are truthful and their hearts are" Makhmun".

They said, "We know the meaning of a truthful tongue, but what is a heart that is Makhmun?"

He (saws) said, "It's a heart that is pious and pure with no sin. This heart has no unfairness, no envy and doesn't hold malice." (Ibn Majah, graded Saheeh by Al-Albani)

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Nov 24, 2011

In Search For Peace - Part 1

by Rehana Shah Bulbulia

Everybody wants it; everybody's looking for it, searching for it, longing for it. No, not the dream mechanism, robotic domestic helper, who never misses a day of work because of taxi strikes, works 24/7-365, who is always available to do all the daily mundane chores for us, our husbands and children. So, that we are left free to spend quality time with them- without the screaming, without the nagging, without the blackmailing AND bribing. Hmmm, I hear your sighs of longing but this is not what we are all TRULY searching for. Even though, such a machine/droid might DEFINITELY bring us, women, closer to achieving it. Yes, men, women, children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens; believers and non-believers alike, are all in pursuit of it. It's simply called Peace, yet it is without a doubt the most sought after and most elusive prized possession.

In them days when I attended the local government school, before my life altering years at the Lenasia Muslim School, I recall a lady teacher yell out in frustration and agitation, 'Who do I have to kill to get peace around here?!' Um, very intimidating...very extreme. But then I guess one could possibly empathise, considering that these teachers spend a great part of their day in the company of uncouth, obnoxious teenagers. (Yes, I hear and agree with you, NOT all teenagers are like this - Alhamdulillah.) However, today I would like to respond to this teacher-" It's not WHO you have to kill but rather WHAT.'

All Praises belong to my Beautiful and Beloved Allah, He who is As Salaamu- The Giver of Peace. And we convey peace and salutations on our beloved leader, the perfect example and the absolute inspiration, Nabi Muhammad sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam. So as I have left you pondering and probing as to WHAT you have to kill to get that peace (remember NOT who - NOT your husband, NOT your children, NOT your domestic helper and nuh uh, NOT your mother in law)… have you found what you believe is the correct answer?

Now are you armed? Do you have your swords drawn and your weapons aimed? Today we are going to kill those WHATs that destroy and deny us our peace...negative actions-sins, negative thoughts, negative emotions, negative moments and negative energies. Are you ready to kill all those negatives in your lives, which covetously steal your peace?

Dear Muslimah, let's enlighten ourselves and begin our journey on the path of peace towards the Everlasting abode of peace. Who we are? Intrinsically we are made up of four components: our souls, our hearts, our minds and our bodies. To maintain and achieve all round and total peace, we need to endeavour to maintain peace in each of these four components. Let's understand who we are and why we are here.

In the Kitab Mishkaat Al Masabih Vol 4, p 5-20, the creation of man (yes, and woman) is discussed. Firstly our attention is drawn to what ALLAH SWT states in the Glorious Quran,

“And they ask you about the soul, say the soul is from the order of Allah (17:85)

Verily I created man from clay, so when I fashioned him and blew into him from my spirit. “(15:29)

Furthermore the seven stages of life are discussed. The first stage whereby Allah created us and we were that nur/rooh/soul in the barzakh e arwah (realm of souls), where we promised to peacefully obey and submit to Allah. The second and third stages respectively are as the Quran has mentioned it, 'the backs of our fathers and the wombs of our mothers'. The fourth stage is the life of Ad dunya. While the fifth is the life in the qabr, the sixth stage is Yaumul Qiyamah. And the seventh and eternal stage is the life of Al Aakhirah.

ALLAHU AKBAR! Really interesting to note is that the ONLY component that remains with us throughout the entire seven stages of our journey is - yes, you guessed it - Ar Rooh - the Soul. So infact our souls should be what we nourish, nurture, maintain and preserve the best. I once heard a rather profound saying- A believer was asked why does mankind have so much difficulty in living through his various human experiences and conditions? His answer contained depth: ' It is because we are not physical beings attempting to have a spiritual experience rather we are spiritual beings attempting to have a human one."

The first and most fundamental factor in maintaining the peace within our soul is complete and total obedience to Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala and His Rasool sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam- conformity to Shariah and Sunnah. Why? Because the soul is from Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala. In fact this factor is the CORE ESSENTIAL in maintaining peace in all four components i.e the soul, heart, mind and body. The sooner we realise this, the easier it will be for us to experience, internalise and maintain that Peace, inshaAllah. For as Moulana Jalaluddin Rumi ra states in his Mathnavi, “The Highest state for a Mu’min to reach, after the Ambiyaa As is that of Siddiqeen. Who is a Siddeeq? One whose inner state is not influenced by his outer conditions. For true pleasure comes from within- when the heart and soul is at kamil/complete and total peace and rest.

So the next time you and I wonder why we feel restless and uneasy for no apparent reason, let us take a moment and reflect on the possibilities of negative actions-sins, being the cause of the disturbance of peace in our souls.

Dear reader, fellow Muslimah, I leave you to reflect on this, Allah says in Al-Quran concerning Islam, “The goal to which Islam leads is peace.” (10:25) And lastly do we understand WHO and WHAT a Muslim is...it is someone who submits to Allah's Will peacefully.

In the domino effect of life, lets," Watch our thoughts for they become our words; let's watch our words for they become our actions; let's watch our actions for they become our habits; let’s watch our habits for it becomes our character and finally let's watch our character for it becomes our destiny.'

Ma’asalamah- Wishing peace upon you, with the Mercy and Blessings of Allah.

Read part 2 of The Search for Peace in the next article, wherein we discuss further the maintenance of our four components in a practical way and share methods on how to 'kill' those negatives and release and replace every negative with a positive, In sha Allah. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)