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Jan 31, 2012

Remember Your Place in Jannah

by Shiney













Bismillah

Do you ever think about Jannah and wish that you could see your house?

Do you wish to live in Jannnatul-Firdaus, close to the prophets alayhimus-salam, the Sahabah radiallahu anhum, the Tabi’een, and the Saliheen?

If your answer is yes, then rejoice, because the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has already informed us about our houses in Jannah. All it takes to reserve your house in Jannah is to follow three simple guidelines:

The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said: “I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.” (Abu Dawud)

The three criteria that need to be met in order to guarantee yourself a house in the part of Jannah that you wish are these:

1) Give up arguing even if you may be right:

This means that if you are having a hard time agreeing with your friend, or your spouse, stop trying to shove your points in their face and just be quiet for the sake of Allah. This way, you get saved from saying something wrong if you are wrong, and if you are right, then your sacrifice helps you meet the first criterion of the hadith.

Imam Ash-Shafi’i said: “Never do I argue with a man with a desire to hear him say what is wrong, or to expose him and win victory over him. Whenever I face an opponent in debate I silently pray ‘O lord, help him so that truth may flow from his heart and on his tongue, and so that if truth is on my side, he may follow me; and if truth be on his side, I may follow him.

2) Don’t lie even for the sake of fun:

Scholars have slightly differed regarding the issue of jokes. Some scholars say that if the narrator tells the listener that what he is about to hear is a joke, then it is okay to joke, so that it doesn’t count as a lie. But it is agreed upon by unanimous consensus that joking becomes haram if it involves lying, backbiting, or using derogatory terms for Muslims. Also, joking about Allah and the religion of Islam is not permissible.

Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said: “Making fun of Allah, His Signs and His Messenger is Kufr (disbelief) and the one who does that disbelieves thereby after he had believed.”

3) Establish good manners:

This is an interesting point. It’s amazing how Allah legislated the criterion for getting into the highest part of paradise to be good manners. Someone who may have not heard this hadith before may have been thinking that to get into Jannatul-Firdaus, they would have to pray Nawafil, do extra fasts and give excessive charity. What if someone was not physically able to offer extra prayers and fasts? What if he didn’t have enough money to give extra Sadaqah? It would be very difficult for him to meet the standards set by Allah. However, out of His Perfect Wisdom and abounding Love for us, Allah has made the criterion for getting into Jannatul-Firdaus something that is simple and accessible to all. Anyone and everyone is capable of acquiring excellent manners if they try hard enough, whether they be male or female; young or old; rich or poor; healthy or sick. The reason being that in order to acquire good manners, you don’t need extensive scholarly knowledge, money, or excessive resources. All you need is yourself, the will to change, and an authentic compilation on the character of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Once acquired, a good character is something that becomes a part of you; something you carry everywhere with you, just like your deeds. Securing the best character is not an easy task, but Allah knows our weaknesses and strengths. All we have to do is emulate the example of our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam while making du’a to Allah to make it easy for us.

Allah says in Surah Al-Qalam: “And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” (68:4)

In this ayah, Allah affirms the noble character of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. If we look to the Sunnah and see how patient, brave, loving, merciful, generous and righteous he was, then we would have a way of incorporating his character into every aspect of our daily lives.

On an end note, this hadith proves the immense amount of love that Allah (SWT) has for us. We often complain about how difficult Islam is, and how hard we have to strive to practice our Deen in the 21st century. However, the reality is that we have not looked into the essence of many of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. We think of commandments and guidelines as burdens rather than opportunities to earn the pleasure of Allah. By giving us more things to accomplish, Allah (SWT) is not burdening us; He is giving us more chances to be forgiven and enter His paradise. May Allah make us among those who incorporate the guidelines mentioned in this hadith into our lives and enter Jannatul-Firdaus. Ameen.

Jan 30, 2012

A Restless Heart


by Seema Muhammad Belushi

Bismillah

Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (Surat Al-Ĥashr 59.1)
O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous
(Surat Al-'Infiţār 82.6)

Imagine that one day all of a sudden your most beloved friend leaves you and goes to a far off place. And you the one who love your friend so much feel the pain of separation in your heart which could not be articulated in words, it’s something which only your heart feels because this twinge is inside you which nobody else can perceive or sense. Out of this immense love for your friend you want to stop her from leaving you. You say ‘Please don’t leave me’, you cry out of love for her in your heart, but your friend does not even bother to give you a second look and leaves.

In a similar way Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala calls His servants out of love when they leave Him and go to others. Why are you going? Where are you going? Where will you find refuge other than Me? Which part of the earth will carry your burden? What sky will shade you? This excruciating pain which must have made the skies weep out of their love for their Creator. The earth must have shivered. The strong mountains must have turned to dust out of fear. Every created thing felt this hurt except the one who did not feel this agonizing pain is the Human heart which has turned to a stone!

Just like when we are hungry we need food to nourish our bodies, in the same way we need Allah when our soul is hungry. This longing, just like food has been put in us by birth. Every person needs Allah whether they are good or bad. Pious or sinner. A drunkard. A night club dancer. A Gangster. Every single human being needs Allah. Can we say we don’t need food to live? Or did you ever see anyone who has never eaten in their lives? No matter what, a human can never take out this ‘longing for its Creator’ feeling from his heart.

Did you ever see, how a person who has not eaten for many days crave for food? What will happen if that person does not get food? He will be restless until he gets what he needs won’t he? In the same way our hearts will remain restless and keep drifting until we submit to Allah.

We have been sent to this World by Allah, for Allah only. The one who came to this world but forgot his purpose would be a person who will always be restless even if he lives in a Palace. Even if he is the most handsome and richest man in the whole world, even if he is always seen smiling with his shiny face but inside that beautiful person is an empty heart. Truth is it’s just a façade which he wears like make up to cover his restlessness, to hide that emptiness from the world. His inside is filled with nothing but darkness.

Often when we see poor people who have no shelter or food we pity them and we want to help them with whatever we can. But the one who has gone far away from his religion, the one who is drowning in sins, the one who is distant from Allah, is more deserving of our compassion than the poor people. His heart will not find any rest with millions of dollar, gold or silver but only with the one who has created it.

The heart will not find rest until it has a connection with its Creator in the form of ‘True love’ within it. Thus it is when you establish a close connection with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and you get to know Him like no one else before. And your heart is blinded to everything else. It is then that you will really understand that your heart was made by Allah…for Allah.

When we contemplate on these ayahs we will find the remedy to cure our restless hearts bi-ithnillah. We should read these ayahs believing that it is Allah who is speaking to us. So let us just ponder on these beautiful words of Allah in whose Hands is the dominion of the world.

Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured." (Surat Ar-Ra`d 13:28)
So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts. (Surat Al-Ĥaj 22:46)

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah - He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things (Surat At-Taghabun 64:11).
And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect. (Surat Al-Kahf 18:28)
The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely. (Surat Al-Anfal 8:2)

The truth is anyone with a ‘restless heart’ will find refuge only in Allah and no other creature in the whole Universe! Think & Ponder…

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please get in touch with me through the comments section below! :)

Jan 29, 2012

A CATHOLIC NUN: BAD EXPERIENCE BUT BEAUTIFUL END


by: Sister Saleha (formerly Sally)

I was brought up in devoted Catholic family and raised with Catholic values and traditions. At fifteen, I entered the monastery. While inside the monastery, I was happy because I can perform my duties as a nun and the people around me including my family were also pleased with me.

Until such time when I began to ask myself every night;"What am I doing here inside the monastery?" I stayed in our small and humble chapel and started to ask god if he is really listening to me, because i have learned in our cathechism that god is present in the blessed sacrament

Many questions were lingering my mind. Doubts were cropping up particularly concerning the reality of Jesus Christ. However, I did not gave the courage to ask the priest nor my co-nuns who were with me that time. I was so afraid that they might take it against me.

So I let all doubts linger. I even allowed myself to profess my first temporary vows. I kept renewing it every year for TEN YEARS! Until such time i could not take it anymore; my pertual vows of chastity and poverty; professing the Jesus Christ is my go; and that he is lord and son of God.

I started to pray harder, asking God for guidance and to show me the right path.

If i will leave the monastery, it would bring great pain to my mother! My father actually did mind if i leave the church and have my own family.

But I do not want to hurt my family particularly my mother, my two brothers who are both priest, my four sisters who happen to be all nuns!

Above all I do not want to be a hypocrite and pretend that I am happy practicing something which is against my under lying principle.

So I did not submit my application letter of perpetual profession. I talked to my superior general, informing her that I am leaving the monastery.

Without informing my family, I left to find a work to survive. After a while I met a close friend of mine who is a priest and offered me to work with him in his church in Marawi City, as a parish coordinator.

Incidentally, my family heard the news that i left the church and it was very hard for them to accept the fact. But they were hoping that one day, I might come back to serve the church.

While working as parish coordinator, the priest who hired me was not treating me so well. He did not even pay me salary and he tried to sexually abuse me. But alhamdulillah, he was not successful with his evil intentions.

Again I started to pray asking God to be with me and to make me happy, because I have never been at peace with my life. My heart and mind were miserable.

A NEW DAY

On June 17, 2001, early morning, I heard a beautiful sound but I did not understand what it was. I thought it was coming from the mosque nearby. As soon as I heard the sound, I felt like I was dipped in refreshing water. I cannot explain the feeling.

That day I felt happiness entering my heart, though, I did not understand what I heard. So after hearing this amazing sound, I said to myself these few words; there is a new day, there is new beginning."

I woke u p that morning asking what the sound was and they told me it was call for prayers of the muslims. Strange! I came to this city (Marawi) on the first week of May 2001 but I can hardly hear the sound until one morning of June 2001.

That day I decided to find out about Islam and the Muslims. I started to research through reading books until  I finally left my work. I went back to my family in Pampanga and found out that my father had already passed away.

I was depressed for a while but i did not stop to discover Islam. So I went back to Manila hoping to find someone to explain to me about Islam. In my heart, I was ready to embrace Islam but I did not know how!

I did not give up, I searched on internet. I went to the extent of joining chatting rooms, hoping to find a Muslim who can enlighten me about Islam.

On June 16, 2004, I met the brother in Manila. He started to explain about Islam. On the day, I declared;
la ilaha illalah muhammadur rasulullah wa 'isa ibnu maryam abdullahi wa rasuli 

(There is no god worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the messenger and that Jesus son of Mary, is a slave and messenger of Allah.)

That fateful day, I finally found a new home, the home of Islam. A home where you can find love, happiness and joy. Now I can smile. A smile that comes from my heart. On that day, I slept very well.

Every time I pray, I cry, not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. A joy which money cannot buy. It is indescribable
Now I remember when I had a conversation with my grandfather who is a Catholic priest (my mother's uncle) He said; "If you want to change your religion, go back to Islam!" Allahu Akbar!

May Allah (swt) open the hearts of my family to the light of Islam, and may he protect us from shaytan. Ameen.

Jan 28, 2012

Homeschooling: Trying to Balance it All - Part 1

by Holly Garza

Asalaamu alaikum waramatulahi wabarakatahu

Tired parents please sit down! Plop down....might be a little bit more like it though!

You are amazing. It’s very important to remember that. We all go through ups and downs occasionally. One of the advantages of the homeschooling lifestyle is that, more or less, we get to manage our days the way we choose. But sometimes through our choices we neglect ourselves. You have to make sure you aren’t trying to be super woman, super perfect and not compare yourself to an ideal of perfection that is unattainable.

MashaAllah life can get exhausting sometimes as a parent, as a muslimah parent even more so! I’m trying to be a parenting, homeschooling, wife, being Muslim and a part time outside the home employee and an on and off again student! This is not a complaint, just a reason, Al-Hamdulilah; a reason why I have some tips for running things a bit more smoother from time to time for myself and you if you’re interested in them.

A while back I posted a very short blog post on how to stick to or return to the basics here. This article can work hand-in-hand with that one or on it’s own. The thing with exhaustion, time flying past, burnout and all around bad days will happen, it is inevitable. The best way to deal with it is to try to prepare for it and avoid some of it. Just like you would take a raincoat and/or an umbrella when it might rain you prepare for busy, hectic, burnout days. I wish I could tell you it’s not because of homeschooling but I’d be lying. Some days, homeschooling does add a extra heap of stress. Quitting, giving up, and giving in though; will not ensure a stress free life. Days will get hard. This is this life we live here. The Qu’ran says “ 2. Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested?” Make dua and make moves, plan for it, work for it and you will get through it.

Here are some helpful tips and some advice feel free to take what fits you and your family and chuck what doesn’t.

MEALS
One of the ways that I’ve recently been taking advantage of my freezer and my Crockpot are to actually use them to help me. Both only put to semi use in the past are now being useful. The freezer helps me in that when I buy the meat and veggies I buy the bigger size or in bulk. I cook the meat and save half in the freezer. When I buy bell peppers I cut them up and use what I need saving the rest in a zip lock baggie in the freezer. Now, just like that, I have either chicken or hamburger meat and bell peppers saved for when I want to make a chicken dish half my work is done. If I’d like to make spaghetti, empanadas, tacos or any other dish necessitating ground beef I just pull it out and brown. Kitchen time cut in half!!

Another thing I have been doing is trying to use my crockpot for more than just the occasional beef pot-roast and beef or lamb ribs once a year. I’ve been making the occasional casserole a soup in there. It’s also a great tool for when you have big assignments, playgroups, home school meets and/or fieldtrips. Just prepare everything and put it in there and when you return it’s ready just take out and serve!

Accept help in the kitchen. Let your child cut (or tear if they are too young) lettuce. Let them wash the noodles, fruit and veggies. Let them hand you the eggs, bread, tortillas. Let them set the table as you talk to them about meal preparation or their assignments. Let them wash the table and their dish (or all the dishes) If you have a husband or in-laws around ask one of them to get the groceries for you, saving you an extra errand to run. Simplify life for yourself if you have frozen dough or a frozen pizza its okay to eat that sometimes too if it means sanity, peace of mind and time with your family!

Clean as you go, no really. This took me half of my life to start doing. Half of my life! That means I’d always have caked on food, tons of dishes and a HUGE mess to clean later or the next day...Not a good feeling to look at when you are the one who has to live there and/or clean it! I started washing off the dishes I used as I cooked. Throwing away wrappers. Saving the clean dishes as they dried it’s amazing how 2 or 3 little things make such a huge difference overall!

JUST BREATHE
Things will get hectic. That cold virus will hit the house. That migraine will not go away, the deadline will lurk overhead. The amazing curriculum you checked out the library, downloaded or bought is not working for your family, doesn’t fit your values, or got boring. The kids have to leave and a shoe is missing......I’m telling you, MashaAllah I admire parents of multiple children! If you have 2 children or more mashaAllah, homeschooling or not, I respect you!

Some days you have to clean, do laundry, make the meals, referee the kids and homeschooling...well those books were somewhere around here, weren’t they? Here are some tips from Sister Umm Suhailah about homeschooling with morning sickness. I think these tips are helpful for burnout as well mashaAllah.

Remember to just stop if you need too. Put on that Islamic video on youtube or on that DVD. Go to that trusted internet website you trust and let them use it! Ask for help! Let a sister come over and help you with the babysitting or the dishes. If this is not an option for you. Ask your husband for help. Delegate responsibilities to older children and to your husband. For example, my husband helps with tajweed, Arabic and every now and then I ask him to help with whatever else might be needed.

Finally, if all else fails remember to just drop everything and try again later or tomorrow. It’s okay to slow down and pause. It’s okay to feel stressed and overworked- the real question is how are you going to let it affect you? Is it going to break you? Is it going to make you mean and snappy? InshaAllah patience and reliance on Allah and hard work is what we need to remember, screaming at our family or forcing all of us through a bad day just for kicks helps no one.

I'd love to hear from other homeschooling mothers out there. Please share your views in the comments section below!

Jan 26, 2012

SPANISH - Calling all Habibis - Llamando a todas las Habibis



Escrito por Syeda Ali
Traducido por An Ghela

Assalamoaleikum Habibis

Algunas semanas atrás descubrí Habibi Halaqas y estaba tan emocionada que no puede contener mi júbilo. MashAllah he escrito desde niña pero todo necesita un enfoque, una dirección productiva, positiva y gratificante. Cuando nuestra talentosa y culta hermana Kanika me pidió que contribuyera a Habibi Halaqas, pensé, que mejor que escribir para mis hermanas musulmanas?

¿Todas a bordo???

Vamos a navegar en la nave de la excelencia moral en rumbo a complacer a nuestro querido Allah.

La comunidad musulmana necesita mucha ayuda y alivio, ¿no creen? El tipo de fanatismo y extremismo que se ha infiltrado en nuestra comunidad es causada por personas se han desviado del camino de Allah. Se sorprenderán pero creo que las musulmanas somos en parte responsables.

Si reflexionan, como Musulmanas, tenemos mucho poder en nuestras manos. Como amas de casa tenemos un propósito. Tenemos la responsabilidad de criar niños saludables y mantener a nuestra familias sanas, Allah ha creado esta destreza en cada mujer- solo tenemos que desarrollarla. Si pulimos las prácticas correctas en luz de lo que dice el Corán y la Sunnah podemos pintar el retrato perfecto de la Comunidad Musulmana – como un artista.

¡Poder Femenino! O mejor…
¡Poder Musulmán!

Entonces nos preguntamos por qué las mujeres no han logrado demostrar una buena labor como Musulmanas ideales? En realidad nos hemos envuelto a nosotras mismas en un caparazón lleno de complicaciones. Hay un gran alboroto sobre el feminismo y un nuevo termino – La Femi-Nazi ha sido creado. ¿De qué estamos hablando? Hay una carrera incesante para dominar a esta sociedad masculina cuando Allah nos ha regalado un balance natural en el que los hombres tienen la fuerza y proveen apoyo mientras las mujeres administran y usan su creatividad. De una manera u otra este hermoso balance ha sido traducido en “opresión”.

No hay ninguna duda; las mujeres pueden ser astronautas, soldadas del ejército, biólogas marinas—pueden conquistar el cielo, la tierra y el mar. PERO!!! Quien se hará cargo de la educación y el entrenamiento de sus hijos, la felicidad de su marido, el cuidado de sus padres, el servicio a la sociedad?—ESOS son los campos para los que ella nació experta por la voluntad de Dios.

Mujeres grandiosas construyen individuos y familias grandiosas que a la vez construyen sociedades y naciones grandiosas. ESE es el poder que Allah ha conferido en la mujer. Eso es lo que se llama PODER FEMENINO!

Observen el aumento en el número de jóvenes que están atrapados en las drogas, fornicación y crimen. ¿Por qué creen que esto ocurre? Las madres no están haciendo un buen trabajo, tal vez porque han perturbado el equilibrio de primero ser un ama de casa y después lo demás.

Hay un mundo de oportunidades y posibilidades abiertas para que nosotras podamos brindar un cambio global y en cambio andamos confundidas y envueltas en una crisis de identidad! No es por falta de ejemplos a seguir. El Corán menciona que la Virgen María o Mariam (que la paz sea con ella) como la conocemos, fue una de las mujeres más ejemplares que sobresalió por su piedad y castidad. El libro de Sahih Hadith menciona el brillante ejemplo de Fátima (que la paz sea con ella), la hija del Mensajero de Allah (saw) como un modelo de pureza—una ama de casa ideal en sus roles de madre, hija y esposa. Ella fue otorgada el rango de Jefa de las Mujeres del Paraíso. ¿Qué mejor ejemplo a seguir?

Primero debemos cuidarnos a nosotras mismas- comer bien, dormir bien, estudiar bien, pensar bien y usar las palabras adecuadas. Luego, debemos cuidar de nuestras familias – nuestros padres, nuestros hermanos, nuestros parientes, nuestros hijos. Nosotras como musulmanas necesitamos ser creativas y productivas y llevar vidas justas. El entrenamiento y cuidado personal, la higiene y la planificación del hogar—lo debemos aprender todo.

Habibi Halaqas ha tomado un paso para ayudarte a ser una mujer ideal! Reconozco mis fallas y voy a pulirme para lograr cumplir el propósito con el que nací. ¿Me acompañan?

La próxima vez hablaremos del auto-estima. ¡Estad atentas!

Hasta entonces,

Vivan Felices. Habibis

Jan 25, 2012

In Defence of Prophet's Multiple Marriages (Part 1)


by Hiba Khan

A controversial subject

Polygamy in Islam is one of the most difficult concept to accept - for non-Muslims and Muslims alike. Many enemies of Islam love to defame the Religion and its Prophet through this topic alone. They portray Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam to be a man with insatiable desires. We seek refuge with Allah from assuming such lowly, slanderous thoughts about the best man who ever set foot on this planet - the man with the highest morals and most excellent of character!

Logic versus ethics

After being given logical answers regarding the wisdom behind plural marriages – for example the high ratio of women to men resulting in a lot of unmarried women; increasing the population of the Muslim ummah to make it a strong nation; giving protection through marriage to orphan girls as well as divorced and widowed women left alone in society; providing for and fathering fatherless children, and so on – many still question how ethical plural marriages can actually be.

What research tells us about the nature of polygamy

Allan and Barbara Pease, bestselling authors and renowned relationship experts who have been conducting researches over many years, say in their book Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes:

For almost all of human existence, males have been polygamous for survival reasons. Men were always in short supply because so many were killed while hunting or fighting, so it made perfect sense for their survivors to adopt the widowed females into their harems. This would also give the men a greater opportunity to pass on their genes. From a species survival point, it made sense for a male to have ten or 20 females, but made no sense for one female to have ten or 20 males as she could only bear one offspring at a time. Only 3% of animal species, such as foxes and geese, are monogamous. Each sex is the same size and colour and you usually can’t tell which is which. The brains of most other male species, including humans, are not hardwired for monogamy. This is the reason men will put off making a commitment to one woman for as long as possible and why so many men have difficulty being monogamous in a relationship.

Although the authors don’t support polygamy, they admit that it was done for survival reasons and because it’s “hardwired” into the male brain. This “hardwiring” is actually called the FITRAH – the natural inclination of man that God has created him with. The authors also admit that, because of this hardwiring, it’s difficult for a man to stay committed in a monogamous relationship.

Is there any doubt about the wisdom of Islam then, that a man can lawfully fulfill his needs within the boundaries of marriage, without having to fall into the evils of adultery?

The prime condition that comes with polygamy

Islam stipulates that if a man chooses to have more than one wife - up to four are allowed – then it is INCUMBENT on him to do JUSTICE between the wives:

“... But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly [with them], then [marry only] ONE... That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.” [Al-Qur'aan – Soorat-un-Nisaa 4: 3]

In fact, Islam is the only religion that makes a statement about marrying ONE woman, whereas no such statement can be found in other holy scriptures.

It’s in our genes, but we have a choice

The fact that God has not hardwired monogamy into the brains of men does not mean that men are animalistic in nature. Rather, they have full discretion to make their own decisions based on intellect and a sense of conscience - so justice is very much possible, if one intends it.

The authors continue to write:

We differ from other species... in that our advanced brains... let us make conscious decisions about what we will or won’t do, so it’s never enough for cheating men to protest that they couldn’t help themselves. They always had a choice.

What about women?

For a woman, being committed, at least until her offspring are self-sufficient, is hardwired into her psyche.

What’s all the fuss about?

Over 1400 years ago in Arabia, it was an accepted cultural norm to have multiple wives. No one thought anything of it – there were no implications of it being barbaric, unethical, primitive and the like. Hence the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam didn’t do something out of the ordinary, nor was he doing something that was frowned upon during that period of time.

The “rules” of the world keep changing according to the views of people rather than according to the facts. As recently as twenty-five years ago, it was perfectly normal and acceptable for a young woman, 17 years of age, to have a completely arranged marriage, with no courtship period, with a man fifteen years elder to her. And in many cases, these marriages have turned out to be very successful. Today, in times of promiscuity and more “liberal” thinking, such a marriage or engagement would be looked down upon as foolish, narrow-minded, illogical, ignorant, unjust, and so on.

The point is: If something was culturally acceptable in the past and it worked out perfectly well, then what’s there to make fun of or degrade in it? Didn’t the people of those times have brains, to decide for themselves? The problem lies not within the things we love to fashionably criticize, but it lies with our limited, prejudiced mindsets, due to the decadence of our societies.

To be continued, inshaAllah. Please take this discussion forward with me and post your views regarding this issue in the comments section!

Jan 24, 2012

Baker's Corner : Low Fat Oatmeal Cookies


by Ruby

Bismillah

 For this month, I have decided to try out something healthy and low fat, but still (surprisingly) delicious. These oatmeal cookies will change your mind about healthy eating, as you will see. Healthy eating does not have to be difficult or boring. Oatmeal cookies are not always the healthy choice due to their butter and egg content, but with this recipe, they can be. This recipe cuts down on both the butter and eggs. It adds applesauce, which gives the cookies a moist texture. There is also a higher ratio of oatmeal to flour. Another bonus is that they take only about 10 minutes to bake!

Feel free to make these cookies even more nutritious by adding raisins or dried cranberries, or even nuts like sliced almonds or chopped walnuts! If not, you can always indulge by mixing in chocolate chips too. In my cookies, I added in 1/4 cup of dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. The recipe is simple to follow, so please enjoy baking and eating them!

Low Fat Oatmeal Cookie Recipe adapted from Slashfoods.com
Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/4 c plain apple sauce
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional) 



Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease with cooking spray).
2) Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon) in a bowl
3) Cream brown and white sugars with the butter. Mix in the egg and extract.
4) Stir in oats and the flour mixture.
5) Add cranberries, nuts, or even chocolate chips!
6) Drop cookie dough in tablespoon sized drops, about half an inch away from each other onto the lined baking sheets.
7) Bake for 9-12 minutes. The cookies will not be perfectly browned because of the lack of butter, but they should be lightly golden brown on the edges and bottom. Wait a few minutes before removing from the sheets.
8) After baking, cool completely and enjoy!

These cookies will store best in an air-tight container for 1-2 weeks.


I'd love to hear your views on this recipe! Please share with me by posting in comments section below :)

Jan 23, 2012

POEM: Elsewhere in the Ummah


by Bint Ali

While Samira laments atop a mountain of her clothes that she has nothing to wear; Aminah in Liberia doesn't leave home when her bed sheet is hanging to dry, because she uses it as her hijab.

While Jamal curses his wife for using too much salt in the food againl; the last pile of dirt is placed on baby Karim, the latest victim of famine in Somalia.

While Hind yells at her young daughter for giggling too loudly while she's trying to watch the news; Tasneem and her daughter made the news, the victims of a drone in Pakistan.

While Asif lies to his friends about getting the number of the cute sister at Arabic class; Anisa in Uighur province lies to the police, afraid to be arrested for fasting in Ramadan.

While Hannah argues with her friends that the Iraq war was necessary; Fatima endures the bitter cold of the Iraqi winter, her home destroyed by invading forces.

While Amar promises his parents he will start praying when his exams are over; Maria prays in secret, afraid her Greek Orthodox parents will find out she is now Muslim.

While Jasmine backbites her strict, yet loving parents to her friends; Amir is given the news that his father and brother have been killed in Syria.

While Iman complains to her colleagues about the poor quality coffee served at her office; Barirah collects cans in the stifling humidity of Indonesia, so she can earn enough to buy clean water.

While Abdul-Majid has fun playing video games depicting war and terror for hours on end; Nasir begs Israeli soldiers to allow him to cross the border so he can take his injured baby to hospital.

While we indulge, complain, procrastinate and wallow in mediocrity; sin needlessly and ignore the blessings upon us; the Ummah is crying out - do you hear the call?

... Nu'man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, "The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever" (Bukhari and Muslim) ...

Caring - its a Muslim thing...

Make Dua - Give Sadaqah - Raise Awareness - Enjoin Good - Forbid Evil

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

Jan 22, 2012

POEM: Realization - Contemplation

by Guest Poet - Ayesha Javed

I close my eyes, the flash back starts.
Tears roll down as I was restless, curt.
Back to the times, where I was tested by my Lord…
I wish I were then tenacious, steadfast.

As I was often chafed then,
I failed to realize then,
That I did what the devil said
And that strong I could be by controlling myself in anger…

Now here,
I wish I were strong then …
I wish I could swallow my rage…
I keep pulling myself up from drowning deep down,
Though, things keep pulling me so down.

Day and night I weep to my Lord,
Seeking refuge and forgiveness.
As I, missed those Golden opportunities of earning rewards from my Lord.
As I, missed those Golden opportunities of my sins to be washed.

At midst,
My Lord bestows me with His mercy on.
This is when; when my process of elucidation is switched on.

Now that this process of elucidation is on,
I’ve realized that I was at fault.
I repent to my Lord with my heart out.
I pray for the patience and elucidation that will make me strong,
Because I don’t want to miss those golden opportunities now!

I gaze the skies talking to my Lord,

Tears keep rolling down along
And I thank my Lord.
For I,
I’ve just begun to be grateful with all that I had
And all that I’ve got.

Jan 21, 2012

Home Schooling Tip 1: Homemade Frozen Dinners

by Juli Herman


This post is a part of our new series "Homeschooling Tips". Our homeschooling experts will be presenting quick tips on how you can make your homeschooling experience beneficial and productive, while balancing your other duties of a wife, mother, muslimah and more!


Homemade Frozen Dinners

If you're homeschooling older children, and multiple children at that, depending on what homeschooling method you choose, you may find that you have less time to cook and clean, and need more time supervising, juggling one-on-one attention, and maybe even grading. 

There may be times when the kids can't help you in the kitchen because they will be doing their work, and you can't spend too much time cleaning and cooking because each child needs you at different times. It helps then to figure out shortcuts to the cooking process. 

Short of buying frozen dinners, what you can do is make your own pre-portioned, pre-packed, ready-to-cook frozen meals. 

When I make chicken curry, I mince onions, garlic, ginger, and a make a wet paste of it with curry powder. Then I add the whole spices, and some chilli paste. To create a frozen quick future chicken curry, as I do this, I cut extra onions, garlic, ginger, and blend them in a food processor with curry powder into a paste. I then slip a ziploc into an empty cup, fold the edge of it over the rim and spoon enough blended paste into it to make a chicken curry dish, tie and label it and pop it in the freezer. I can get about two to three packets of this chicken curry paste at a time. The next time I want to make chicken curry, I simply thaw the chicken and one packet of frozen wet curry paste. Then, when I'm really short of time, I simply clean the thawed chicken, slather it with the thawed paste, and pop it in the oven. Skipping the onion-cutting step really makes a huge difference in how much time you spend in the kitchen. Even my 10-11 years olds can do this for me during emergencies. If you can spend more time during the weekends, you can even make your own marinades, marinate your meat, and freeze them, ready to bake/cook/grill when the time comes. 

You still get homemade meals, and you have less mess!

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Post them below in the comments section :)

Jan 20, 2012

SPANISH - The Qur'an Series : Read Qur'an To Remember Allah

by Ni'mah Ali
Translation by Eeman Mahdiya


SERIE : EL CORAN    LEAMOS EL CORAN PARA RECORDAR A ALLAH 
Por Ni’mah Ali

Hoy día algunos piensan que el mundo ha ido evolucionado como nunca antes. Siempre hay algo nuevo para hacer, para ver y para descubrir.  Existe tanta tecnología nueva que todos los días se descubre algo nuevo.  Todos andan detrás del dinero,  de mejorar su condición de vida a través de la educación, o de trabajar muy duro para comprar el nuevo Iphone, automóvil, televisor, o cualquier otra cosa que esté de moda.

La gente está muy ocupada, no importa si son solteros, casados, jóvenes o viejos.  Algunos de nosotros trabajamos el día entero, y al salir del trabajo estamos tan agotados que no podemos hacer otra cosa que dormir para así poder repetir lo mismo al día siguiente.  Otros son estudiantes.  Tienen la preocupacion de los exámenes , proyectos y tesis.  Y otros son padres de niños pequeños, y solo podemos imaginarnos lo difícil que es hoy en día  tener el tiempo y el trabajo para educar y criar los niños adecuadamente.   Después de terminar todas las cosas importantes, algunos de nosotros necesitamos  encontrar  tiempo para nosotros mismos.  Tenemos que mirar nuestra serie de televisión favorita, o quizá leer algún buen libro.  Pero el día solo tiene 24 horas.  Con tantas cosas que hacer, somos afortunados si nos recordamos de Allah, cierto? Falso!   Siempre debemos sacar tiempo para Allah en nuestras vidas, no importa cuán ocupados podamos estar, porque Allah es lo más importante y nada puede venir antes que Allah.  Hay muchas diferentes maneras en que podemos recordar a Allah, pero una de las mejores formas de recordarlo es recitar y entender el Corán.   El Corán es la palabra de Allah.  Por lo tanto, mientras más leas el Corán, más te recordaras de Allah. Y no hay nada mejor que recordar al Todopoderoso . 

 ¿Cuantos de  nosotros sacamos tiempo de nuestra vida de ajetreos para escuchar, recitar y reflexionar sobre el Corán?    ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que tomaste el Corán y recitaste por más de treinta minutos?   ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que leíste uno de los versos de Allah en el Corán y se llenaron de lágrimas  tus ojos?  ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que te sentías mal por no haber recitado o leído el Corán?    El Corán tiene muchos beneficios, pero solo aquellos que lo aman, lo recitan y actúan conforme a su palabra pueden realmente entender los beneficios, los milagros y la grandeza del Corán.  Si tu eres uno de los pocos que realmente tienen como prioridad leer por lo menos algo del Corán todos los días, masha-Allah, maravilloso, continua haciéndolo, y que Allah te bendiga, y te de tu recompenza.   Pero si eres de los que tienen el Corán, acumulando polvo en algún lugar de tu casa, debes estar avergonzado, porque no sabes lo que te estás perdiendo.  Sugerencia:  corre ahora mismo a leer el Corán, aunque solo sea una o dos ayahs. 

Es esencial tener el Corán en nuestra vida.  Es la fuente de nuestra religión.  Es nuestra guía, nuestra luz.  Tenemos que aprenderlo, ensenarlo si podemos, pero mucho más importante, debemos vivir de acuerdo a su palabra de la mejor manera que podamos.  El Corán no deja de sorprender a los que reflexionan sobre su contenido.  Cada ayah (verso) y cada surah (capitulo) es tan increiblemente sorprendente, interesante, dulce,  que no hay duda en la mente del lector de parte de quien viene, por supuesto de Allah.  Mientras más aprendemos del Corán, mas aprenderemos sobre Allah.  Mientras más recitemos, leemos, y entendemos, más se llenara nuestro  corazón del amor de Allah, y de su hermosa religión: el Islam.  El Corán es único, y desde la primera surah hasta la última,  es  exacto, sorprendente, fascinante en todo el sentido de la palabra. Este hecho solo podemos descubrirlo y conocerlo mediante la lectura y el aprendizaje del mismo.  Aprenderse el Corán debe ser lo primero en la lista de cosas para hacer en la vida de la persona musulmana.

A pesar de que el Corán en su totalidad es un gran milagro y una guía de parte de Allah el Magnífico, vamos a comprobar mediante una sola surah que el Coran es de hecho un gran milagro , único y la palabra de Allah. La Sura Al-Asr (El tiempo) es uno de los capítulos más cortos del Corán, sin embargo Allah resumió  lo que es la vida para los seres humanos en solo esta pequeña surah.  Examinemos lo que dice este capítulo, insha Allah.

(1. Por el Tiempo (2. Que es cierto que el hombre está en perdida (3. Pero no así los que creen, llevan a cabo las acciones de bien, se encomiendan la verdad y se encomiendan la paciencia.) Quran: 103

¿No es de esto, lo que se trata la vida?  No importa si eres rico o pobre, de que  linaje, tribu o nación eres, si eres desobediente e incrédulo, entonces estas perdido.  No importa cuanta riqueza y cosas materiales tengas, al final, estas perdido, grandemente perdido. (Excepto aquellos que creen y hacen buenas obras).  Entonces Allah hace excepciones,  dentro de la especie de hombres que están perdidos, para aquellos que creen en su corazón y hacen buenas obras con sus miembros.  SubhanaAllah!, mira que grande es esta surah.   El Imam Shafi’ hablo sobre esta surah en particular de la siguiente forma:  “Si la gente reflexionara sobre esta surah, esto sería suficiente para ellos”.' 

Que cada persona musulmana que recite y aprenda el Corán por Allah reciba el beneficio y recompenza tanto en este mundo como en el otro. Que Allah haga de nosotros de los que estén entre Ahlu Quran en el Dia del Juicio.… Amen.

Link For English Article
http://www.habibihalaqas.org/2011/04/quran-series-read-quran-to-remember.html

Jan 19, 2012

Reflections On A Misunderstood Faith


by Raima Amin

Islam. Such a simple word, yet with so many connotations. For me, Islam means a world of things. It represents the faith I was born into and the life I now lead. Islam is what wakes me up every morning long before the sun has risen, drowsy-eyed and weary from an incomplete night’s sleep, to establish the first of five daily prayers. It is why I dress the way I do, why I choose to cover my hair instead of styling it like other girls my age. It is why, for one month a year, I deprive myself of food and drink during the daylight hours. Islam gives me the conviction to starve so that I may feel the true pangs of hunger and be encouraged to do something for the millions that feel this way every day of the year, often for the entirety of their lives. Islam has taught me to live a life guided by moral principles designed to benefit myself and the lives of those around me.

And yet, for many people today, Islam represents the opposite of all these concepts. Islam is blamed for hate and violence, for misguiding members of our society towards evil and destruction. Islam is not seen as the peace it has always represented to me, but instead as a radical ideology that destroys any hopes for coexistence among diverse populations. Phrases like “9/11”, “Ground Zero Mosque,” and “Al-Qaeda” conjure up images of angry, bearded men dressed in flowing robes and turbans, chanting words from the Quran and determined to kill Americans simply for being who we are.

 “How did this happen?” I wonder to myself. Growing up as a Muslim in Montana, I often had doubts about my religion. All my friends were Christian, and I recall frequently asking my mom why I could not be more like them. I, too, wanted to feel the excitement during the Christmas season, write letters to Santa and daydream about the presents I would soon discover under our tree. Instead, I was a passive listener as my peers excitedly conversed about such topics every year. My family observed holidays that no one had ever heard of. Instead of celebrating by attending dozens of parties, exchanging presents, and staying up late, our religious holidays were just like any other day of the year. Instead of sleeping late into the mornings, we had to wake up extra early in order to attend a small prayer service before being dropped off at school for the remainder of the day. When my friends would ask why I had dressed up, I would find them confused by my description of a holiday completely unlike their own traditions.

Yet as I grew older, instead of drifting away from the faith that prevented me from fitting in with my peers, I found myself increasingly drawn to Islam and its powerful teachings. Instead of dreading the morning prayers that awoke me from the deepest part of my sleep, I learned to enjoy the opportunity to start my day with the remembrance of God. Instead of reacting to my growling stomach in Ramadan with impatience for the impending sunset, I embraced the opportunity to self-reflect on my blessings and donate to those less fortunate. Although I had long resented Islam for setting me apart as a child, I now learned to appreciate it for the guidance it was providing in my life.

Thus, it was an immense shock when I first began to notice anti-Islamic sentiment in the country I called home. When the disaster of 9/11 struck, I, along with all my classmates, was stunned that such a calamity had actually occurred in “real life.” I recall sharing in my disbelief at school that morning and my sympathy for those who had lost a loved one in the tragedy. I remember feeling confused when a secretary came to my classroom to inform me my dad was on the line in the main office. “Are you okay?” he asked, an obvious note of worry in his voice. “Of course I’m okay,” I thought to myself. I was thousands of miles away from Ground Zero and felt worlds away from comprehending the impacts of such devastation. “Did you hear about Osama bin Laden?” he hesitated at his own question. It was a name I recalled vaguely, belonging to a figure that felt distant and unrelated to my life. I reassured him I felt perfectly safe and he promised to explain more in the evening. I returned to class, confused by his worry. However, as we continued to follow the major news networks throughout the coming days and months, I connected the dots that my father had silently alluded to on the phone that day. Slowly, I began to understand the worry I had heard in his voice. Osama bin Laden was a terrorist. He was now proudly taking responsibility for the murder of thousands of human beings on 9/11, taking credit for the actions of men who had crashed commercial planes into buildings and killed innocent Americans. What was more difficult for me to comprehend was that bin Laden also claimed to be a Muslim. He suggested that the actions committed were done in the name of God, according to the teachings of what I knew to be a peaceful religion. The same Islam stating that to kill one innocent being is to kill the entire humanity, was now being used to justify the killing of thousands of innocent beings. How could this be? It is an association I still fail to understand, and one that I continue to resent with a vengeance.

Despite a plethora of anti-Islam rhetoric in recent years, ancient followers of this faith have left behind an impressive legacy. The Islamic Golden Age, dated from the mid-8th to the mid-13th century, saw significant advancements in the fields of agriculture, art and architecture, economics, law, literature, navigation, philosophy, science, sociology and technology. At the time, Muslims were not personified as uneducated men preaching violence and oppression of women, but rather as a remarkable and diverse array of artists, scientist, traders, and scholars. Their contributions to society left impacts all over the world that continue to be felt today. It is this view of Islam that I yearn to see reinstated in our current society. Instead of being a faith constantly associated with evil, I hope to see it gain an increasing level of respect for its true teachings and an appreciation for its important influences on our world.

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

Jan 18, 2012

Wear Hijaab


by Maryam Abd Al Ghafur

I admit it. I drew a blank on what to write this month, and so asked several friends for inspiration.

The top three results:

- Fulfilling the duties of the household while holding down employment,
- Polygamy,
- and Hijaab.

So, I now have an idea for the next two articles, but I am going to use hijaab, because even the akhawaat who brought up that subject said that it was a shame, but we need to address it because so many of our noble sisters don’t wear hijaab properly.

This is not going to be about colors, or even niqaab or not. It is about hijaab.

Let’s start with a definition. Not what it has come to mean, but what it meant in the time when the command was given by The Lawgiver, Allaah Subhana wa Ta’Alaa. The hijaab is the over garment that is let down from the top of the head and covers the Believing woman from literally head to toes. It is not the same as a khimar, which is the head scarf. It covers the breasts, it does not stop at them like the head scarf of the women of the Orthodox Jews; we’re supposed to be different from them, as we all remember from our readings of ahadeeth. It does not allow the hair to peep from underneath, nor for the ornaments, the jewelry, to be seen. It is worn when the Believing women go out of our homes, so that we are identifiable as Muslimahs, we are obvious in not being on display for men or others to find us attractive, it is to discourage those who lean towards zina’.

It is not, emphatically so, an option. While not wearing it does not take one outside of Islam, there are penalties for being uncovered when outside of one’s home. Not lashes, not stoning, but something far more severe: Allaah’s displeasure. That which we do and do not repent from, we will have to answer for, in the grave and the ‘Akhira, the Hereafter. And do not forget, ya akhawaat, that our clothing is a part of our adornment. So, the nice dress, the blouse and skirt and khimar, the salwaar chemise, are all to be covered by a different garment, the hijaab, when we are out of doors, or in the presence of ghair maharim. Unless you work only with your abu, and brothers by blood and by marriage, and grandfathers, and uncles, and sons, that includes the men in the office, school, or hospital. A bit inconvenient, and there are some times when there are excuses, but since Allaah did not command us to go out and earn and provide for the household, but rather, He commanded the men to do so, that means that if we choose to, or have to (yes, I know, it happens) we have to make the effort to obey Allaah as much as possible, rather than take it as a license to obey our desires. Have you noticed? Allaah does not praise following our desires, even in marriage, but puts obedience to Him in all things as that which He is pleased with.

We don’t want to go to extremes. That is not praiseworthy. But we have to do the best that we can, and ask Allaah’s help for the rest. So, to my sisters whom I meet on the street, with throats exposed, blouses tucked into the long skirts, jewelry flashing … my dears, you look lovely, really. But you are not following the Sunnah, and that is what we are here for, because the Sunnah is as much to be followed as the Qur’an.

"And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts from sin and not show of their adornment except only that which is apparent, and draw their headcovers over their necks and bosoms and not reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters sons, or their women (i.e., their sisters in Islam), or their female slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants free of physical desires, or small children who have no sense of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah altogether, O you Believers, in order that you may attain success." [An-Nur, 24:31]

The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allaah, Most High is Ha'yeii (Bashful), Sit'teer (Shielder). He loves Haya' (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering)." 

The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said: "Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband's house (to show off for unlawful purposes), has broken Allaah's shield upon her”.. " This hadith is proof that, depending upon the kind of action committed, there will be either reward (if good), or punishment (if bad).

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

Jan 17, 2012

Chill Out ! For the Sake of Allah


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by Bint Ali

In this fast paced world we live in, we often feel frustrated, tense, or stressed - perhaps all at once, thus bringing us to a near meltdown. Too often, and rather unfortunately, we take it out on whoever happens to be closest to us at the time. Perhaps it is illness that makes us feel irritated by everything, or a bad result on an exam we studied extra hard for, that puts us in a bad mood.

Deadlines draw closer and we are pushed to the edge. We begin to feel entitled to "snap"; to say a harsh word, to be selfish, careless, or worse. Nobody feels that more than the people around us who bear the brunt of our bubbling emotions. It is therefore essential that we learn to control our emotions before they lead us to hurt those around us.

A stressed out mother might overreact to her young child spilling juice on the floor, by way of insult. "You are SO stupid!,” she shouts. For a brief second, her anger is alleviated by yelling, but what is the child left with? How 'brief' is the pain of a child who has just been insulted by the one person he thought loved him and his clumsiness?

How long does the poor co-worker remember the words of his persistently annoyed boss? "You're pathetic, you're lucky I hired you!"

How many men dread a certain time of the month, when his wife will hate him, love him, cry and shout - all in a matter of minutes!

One needs only to reflect on the words and character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu alayhi wa salaam, to understand the way of the believer when it comes to how one should deal with rising emotions:

Narrated Abu Huraira radiy Allahu anhu: Allah's Apostle said, "The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger." ... (Sahih al-Bukhari)

This Hadith refers to anger, although it can be applied to stress, frustration, grief, annoyance, PMS - almost anytime your emotions need to be kept in check. Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

When you're feeling out of sorts, and feel likely to take it out on the innocent bystanders in your life, remember the way to take a Sunnah "chill pill":

Narrated Atiyyah as-Sa'di, radiy Allahu anhu: AbuWa'il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa'di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wasalaam as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution. (Sunan Abu Dawood)
Water is known for its refreshing and cooling effect on the body, and in this hadith we learn that water is also excellent for extinguishing the flames of anger. Allahu Akbar!

Sometimes, it is not easy to excuse ourselves and make wudu, but we can still follow the sunnah by sitting if we're standing, or lying down if sitting doesn't work.

Remember the four Rs:
  • Recognize your emotions before they take over, and take your "Sunnah chill-pill" (as described above), starting by seeking refuge in Allah subhanahu wa ta'Aala. 
  • Remind yourself that your stress is temporary, but the effects of your ill-tempered words can last much longer. They can ruin a friendship or cause tension in the household. 
  • Remove yourself temporarily from a stressful environment if you start to feel overwhelmed.
  • Relax by remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta'Aala - always!
By taking steps to keep our emotions in check, we can hope to be included in the group of believers Allah subhanahu wa at 'Alaa describes in the Quran:

Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good; (3:134)

Tips:
  • When you're feeling stressed and feel you want to snap, Google “tropical rainforest” or “green garden,” or whatever get-away you'd love to escape to. Remember, Jannah is more beautiful than whatever you see and imagine! 
  • Open the Quran, and read to your heart’s content. A sister who was depressed and far from her family, once told me how she dealt with her loneliness: “I run to the Quran and read.” Run to Allah – He knows your problems, and He can help. 
  • Have mercy on those around you – particularly those who have nothing to do with your stress. Take it easy on them, so Allah will take it easy on you. 
  • Remember this life is short, the stress and problems will eventually end, but our deeds will remain.

Jan 16, 2012

GIVEAWAY & Na'ima Robert's From Somalia with Love and Boy Vs.Girl Review







DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN COPIES OF THESE BOOKS ARE BELOW THE REVIEW 
- make sure you enter to WIN, inshaAllah!!!

Comparative Review by Juli Herman

                            



With green eyes, glossy long black hair, latte-colored skin, and a generous dash of brain power, sixteen year old Farhana has everything a girl wants, including a handsome hunk of a boy who worships her, and a twin brother with equally good looks. Faraz however, born six minutes later, doesn’t quite have the popularity and brains of his sister. While Farhana excels socially and academically in an all girls’ school, Faraz, who attends a local public school, struggles with his grades, an enemy, and the dark world of drugs. However, Farhana is not without her own share of inner struggles. Thus the book is aptly titled Boy Vs. Girl.

Just like in her first young adult novel, From Somalia With Love, Na’ima Robert provides her characters in this second book with a supportive young, single, about-to-be-married aunt, who carries the spiritual voice in the books, and whom the characters turn to. Fourteen year-old Safia had her Habareyo, who warns her of further associations with her wild cousin. Farhana and Faraz have Aunt Najma, a niqabi and black sheep of the family who shows up amidst pre-Ramadan preparations and takes them out for an errand. While their mother stocks the kitchen with enough food to feed an army, Aunt Naj gets the twins thinking about their spiritual goals for Ramadan over milkshakes. 

With a fresh start to a new Ramadan, the twins resolve to deal with their personal struggles, which include hijab, Skrooz, and Malik. Typical well-mannered Pakistani youths, Farhana and Faraz grew up learning to pray and read the Quran. But as far as modesty goes, there is no place for hijab, which is too extreme for the likes of their mother. So when Farhana makes the nerve-wrecking decision to put on the hijab, worrying about the reactions she would get at school, she faces problems even before she steps out of the house. Her mother vehemently disapproves and continues to make it difficult for her. 

Every girl needs a bosom buddy. So just as Safia has Hamida in From Somalia With Love, Farhana has Shazia, the Imam’s daughter, as her best friend, whom Faraz secretly admires. Shazia, who has grown up wearing the hijab reluctantly, reacts with horror and some protests when Farhana tells her of her decision to take hijab. This strikes me as ironic, having her hijabi best friend balk and oppose her decision, yet at the same time, because Farhana is strong-willed, this flip side provides her with more certainty.

Shazia, like fourteen year-old Safia, grew up wearing the hijab. Both girls feel the need to be admired and to be seen as beautiful like their non hijabi counterparts. On the other hand, Farhana, a non hijabi views them as being lucky and protected, and journeys towards the hijab out of choice. ‘Tis true that the grass is always greener on the other side. In both books, both Safia and Farhana underwent their own personal journeys towards self esteem in hijab. 

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In From Somalia With Love, Safia discovers the world of dating through her cousin. She finds herself in a dangerous and sticky situation that shakes her to the core, waking her up to realization of her ingrained Islamic values. Farhana, older and wiser, knows what boys really want, and doesn’t land herself in such situations, but instead strives to forget about Malik as per her Ramadan goal. I admire Farhana, at that age, for resolving not to have anything more to do with handsome Malik, especially when he clearly adores her. This inner emotional struggle, along with the hijab, weakens her especially when Robina, her good friend turned evil, maliciously brings in reports of his flings with other girls. Malik’s constant calls, which Farhana has managed to ignore, eventually makes it through by accident, and after hearing him say “I love you,” Farhana breaks down. To make it worse, her relationship with her brother has started to sour.

In both books, Na’ima Robert expounds on a sister brother relationship. Safia’s older brother, Ahmed, whom she is close to, gets in trouble with the wrong crowd, as does Faraz. Unlike his sister, Faraz is not popular in school. In fact, he has always been treated as that scrawny soft-spoken kid, especially by Maj, who one day swipes a malicious hand through Faraz’s beautiful artwork to the horror of the whole class. Consequently, Faraz has a strong emotional need for acceptance. So when drug-involved Skrooz and his gang pay attention to him, Faraz succumbs to their beck and calls. Unlike in From Somalia With Love, where Ahmed’s troubles are not given in detail, probably due to the younger age of the main character, Safia, Robert goes into details in portraying Faraz’s dark world of drugs and women. 

Replete with Ramadan goals, Faraz was able to taste the sweetness of tarawih, Quran, and fasting in the beginning. At the masjid, he even made the acquaintance of Imran, who organizes a youth art program to which Faraz is drawn to. Things seem to be going so well for him; rich spiritual experience, good company, and the opportunity to utilize his artistic strengths to good use, that I found myself mouthing, “Oh man!” when Skrooz turns up and beguiles Faraz into his dark and evil world. The Ramadan that had begun so wonderfully is now marred by drugs, women, and fights. As Faraz plunges deeper in Skrooz’s world, he shuts off from Farhana. I felt myself yearning for the days when brother and sister would pore over the Quran together at the dinner table in the kitchen after fajr. 

Na’ima Robert has artfully woven a tale with unexpected twists and turns, that kept me emotionally riveted till the end. As I followed Farhana and Faraz along in their journeys, I couldn’t help but feel attached to them, like a niqabi aunt would. I had waited impatiently for Boy Vs. Girl while it was in the making, after being enraptured by From Somalia With Love. Suffice it to say, my wait has been duly rewarded.

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CONTEST DETAILS - make sure you enter to win, inshaAllah!!!

Frances Lincoln, publishers of Na'ima's books have graciously agreed to giveaway 2 copies each of From Somalia with Love and Boy vs Girl, thats a total of 4 WINNERS!

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