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Apr 30, 2012

Keeping It Halal

By Bint Ali 

Girl meets boy, and life seems so sweet. Now that he is in her life, no one else exists. All day he is the number one feature of her daydreams; the star of the show. She checks her Facebook to see if he has posted on her wall; and her gaze is always lowered... right on to her phone, checking for his messages. She is his queen, and he is her king. He cherishes her, adores her and cares for her in every way possible. She says she cannot live without him, and with a twinkle in his eyes, he says he feels the same way. She wonders, is this real? 

So romantic, right? 

Sure... If her Prince Charming happens to be her husband. 

And if not? 

She risks losing her reputation, her self-respect, her modesty, her Iman... and worst of all, her akhirah is in grave danger. 

One of the most evil crisis' to come upon the Ummah is that of dating and inappropriate contact between the genders. Whether we are aware of it or not, these relationships are rampant, hidden behind deleted messages and secret hook-ups. Evil surrounds these relationships- from loss of reputation and destruction of modesty, to outright zina and abortion. 

What if it's too late you ask? 

It's never too late to turn to Allah. This article is not about the fiqh of gender interaction (references for that at the end of the article). This is just some advice from one sister to another, to every girl who has non-Mahram "friends" with whom she freely chats to; every girl who sincerely wants to marry for the sake of Allah, but has found herself falling in to the haram in her quest; to all my sisters out there who make excuses as to why they can't keep it halal. Let be real with ourselves, inshaAllah. 

Excuses for Free-mixing and Dating – Let's be real 

But we love each other! 

Yes, you might love each other, but isn't Allah more deserving of your love? Of course you say, knowing full well that Allah deserves your love above everybody and everything else. 

... are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)…. (Surah Al Baqarah 2:165

Are you using His blessings (sight, speech, movement, intelligence, beauty) to disobey Him? If you love, deeply, truly - Allah - than love everybody else in ways that please Him. Get married if possible, since that is the cure for those in love. 

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas : Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "You have seen nothing like marriage for increasing the love of two people.'  Ibn Majah transmitted it. 

Tip: If marriage is not an option, have sabr and don't transgress the limits set by Allah for fleeting feelings. InshaAllah your time will come, and the fire of regret will burn deep in your heart if you fell in to haram while you were seeking the Halal. 

We only talk on the phone/Facebook/text... Isn't that ok? 

Short answer, no. 

You might have pure intentions, hoping to get to know each other for the sake of marriage. The scary fact is, Shaytaan will seize the opportunity if he sees you approaching a potentially sinful situation. Slowly but surely, certain things seem more and more acceptable to you, and you could soon find yourself in a compromising situation that you never would have thought possible. 

Like quicksand, haram relationships are easy to fall in to and hard to get out of (mostly because of the emotional toll). If only we heeded the advice of the One created us, we'd find our lives so much easier. 

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Al Isra 17:32) 

Tip: Don't even come close to zina- can the advice be any clearer? What starts off “innocently” can lead to zina. Trust that Allah is looking out for your best interest. Begin what you intend to do the right way, so that what follows is right, inshaAllah. If what begins right, ends right, we can hope for the “right” abode in the akhirah - Jannah. 

But we're getting married... eventually! 

In a nutshell - until the imam pronounces you as man and wife - he is to you as every other man is. Would you consider is ok to call Carlos from accounting and have a chat about your favorite movies? Is it ok to meet Imam Bilal at the movies? Late night phone calls and meet ups are off-limits, unless your wali is in on the situation like butter on bread. 

Sisters, don't be fooled in to thinking everything is sweet just because he manned up and proposed (or promised to propose). By Allah, there are girls who give up their dignity, with promises of marriage, and I'm talking about really giving it up. They lost their 'izza for nothing more than promises and feeling lovey dovey - only to find themselves dumped, or in a miserable marriage to someone who doesn't fear Allah, because they were too love-blind to see the red flags. A real man isn't one who can get the girls... a real man is one who fears Allah, especially when emotions are high. 

But he wont want me if we don't communicate. 

Think of your (future) husband as an advocate of your deen - i.e. the closest person to you that will encourage you toward good and steer you away from sin. If this guy fails to encourage piety from the outset, what is it that you are seeking from him? 

If the guy you want to marry pressures you to communicate with him outside of your wali, he's forcing you in to a corner. On one hand, you want to protect your izza and your Iman. On the other hand, is him. Does that sound like a good deal to you? 

Your wali is there for a reason (actually, quite a few reasons). He is supposed to deal with your suitors, and act as a chaperone, to avoid any haram contact. 

Tip: Utilise your wali to safeguard your Iman, hopefully attaining barakah in your marriage by doing things in accordance to Islam. Don't taint your future marriage by planting the seeds of haram, because eventually you will have to reap them. 

I can't find anyone else but him... 

As for those who fear they can’t find anybody else, may Allah send you a righteous brother soon, Ameen. It's tempting to cling on to the first decent guy that shows interest, but don't settle for anyone who makes you compromise your Deen. 

Tip: Be upfront with all suitors. Let them know your wali will be present at all times during the pre-marital meeting. Make sure your wali understands his role properly, which isn't to keep a brick wall between you and your intended, but to act as your guardian. There are no excuses for being in seclusion (khalwa) with a non-Mahram for the sake of getting to know them. 

Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: Rasulullah (SAW) said, "Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third." (Al-Tirmidhi 3118) 

But everyone else is doing it... 

I find it appropriate to repeat the words of my mother, and just about everybody else's mother, "If everybody jumps off a bridge, will you jump too?". Cliche, sure, but they had a point. Just because other people are engaging in haram, it doesn't make it ok for you to follow. You'll only add to your bad deeds, and theirs too. What if the same people you choose to follow in this life, turn out to be the ones you have no choice but to follow in the next? And what of these same people are thrown into fire - what will your situation be? 

Tip: Keep good company, stay amongst people who understand the seriousness of disobeying Allah and His messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa salaam. Reflect on the famous Hadith of the perfume and the blacksmith: 


Narrated Abu Musa: Allah's Apostle said, "The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof." ...(Ṣahih al-Bukhārī

Good friends are invaluable. A good friend will advise you to have sabr and wait for a suitable situation to come up. A bad friend will encourage you to disobey Allah for a meaningless romance. The difference between such companions is literally the difference between Jannah and Jahannam. Choose wisely, and find success, inshaAllah. 

But it's too late to keep it halal... 

So you've already commenced haram contact and you feel like its too late to stop. Fortunately, you're wrong. 

The contact between you may have become inappropriate, it doesn't have to stay that way. Perhaps Shaytaan got the better of you, and he might have won a few battles, but it doesn't mean he's won the war. You can make it halal, but you have to make a sincere effort. 

1. Within yourself, make it clear that you are 'making it halal' for the sake of Allah. This is vital! You need to be clear about what your goal is, and stay steadfast, because Shaytaan is going to attack you from very angle. Repentance is key – you need to seek forgiveness, regret, and abstain from the sin. The great news is, that you have a Lord who is Ar-Rahman (The Compassionate), Al-Ghaffar (The Pardoner), Al-Afuw (The Forgiving), Al Halim (The Kindly). 
2. Give the number of your wali to this guy, if you're serious about marriage. If not, break contact immediately. Either you're heading for marriage or you're not. Good Muslims are not 'players' - so don't play around. 

By shunning the evil of free mixing and dating, you are reviving a sunnah, and setting a trend of modesty and piety, in a world riddled with evil desires and dangerous sins. Don't underestimate the worth of clinging to the Deen, regardless of whose love you lose... 

...Because a Muslimah Queen like you deserves to be loved and cherished in ways that please Allah, Whose love we cannot live without. And that's real. 

Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." (39:53)

Fatwas and advice
Am I sinning by dating?
Is it ok for brothers and sisters to chat online?
What is the ruling on Facebook?
Dating in Islam

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

Apr 28, 2012

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse

By Bint Ali

I had a love-hate relationship with chocolate mousse. I love eating it, but I hated making it – until I found this recipe. Its simple, it works, and its delicious, which I believe are all necessary characteristics of a great recipe. I divided this recipe between very cute paper cups (as shown) and served them at a nikah.

Ingredients:
200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup thickened cream, whipped
8 strawberries, sliced

Method:
1. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form. You will know they are stiff when the mixer blades are lifted and the peaks hold their shape.
2. Melt chocolate in a dry bowl in the microwave, in 30 second intervals. With my medium-power microwave, I found it takes a minute and a half.
3. Stir egg yolks (the yellow part) in to chocolate until just combined. Chocolate may seize, which is normal. Remember, you need to work quickly.
4. Add cream to the chocolate and egg yolk mixture until just combined, then fold in to egg white.
5. Divide between four glasses, and top with strawberries. Refrigerate for a minimum three hours, or for best results, overnight.

Tips for success (inshaAllah!):
You must use a dry bowl for beating the egg whites, and melting the chocolate.
You need to work quickly, because chocolate may seize after the egg yolks are added.

Apr 27, 2012

My Comeback Story: How I Deactivated My Facebook

By Sister Sunshine Smiles

Bismillah

A personal story, My comeback story! To bring awareness and motivate to keep working towards a better self!

I have studied computers out of personal interest and fascination towards the extremely wide aura of never ending development in technology and its services that doesn’t seem to cease to grow. I love the very fact about technology evolving continuously bringing things to your very home, even fingertips now. Knowledge comes pouring out to you. All you need to do is search it right.

So sometimes, I stop keeping a track of the time I spend on the internet and I end up being a big potato bag; sitting for hours straight and when time has swiftly flown by, I mistakenly glance at the time and to my utter disappointment, I realize just one thing, that it’s not going to come back so fuss I can fuss all I want and curse myself all I want! Either way, it’s not going to change the damage of the loss of time that I, myself had done!

And when I look back at the computer screen to accuse, I always saw “facebook”. Initially, it kept me entertained but eventually I came to recognize, it was addiction, PURE addiction. Addiction to such an extent that it was the first thing I checked after my sleep. I would interrupt my study schedule to fill my boredom time with FB. Yes, it started with a promise to self of 5 minutes and it would end up in an hour or even two of wastage of time.

Beyond wastage of time, I got so obsessed with just checking for updates that I would feel like FB is controlling me, I felt it ordering me to go check at every short interval of time. And with such frequency of checking and no updates available it started affecting my head. I would get irritated with the obsession that was overtaking me. The anticipation started getting the better of me.

I completely believe it has its benefits. Like the innumerous Islamic sites with access to religious content to increase my knowledge. But all it took me to let that go was, the fact that the same benefits were available to me on another option, a much more self controlled option, Email or probably the original website itself.

I don’t know if it was the continuous tabbing and self evaluation or what, but after a while I just got bored of it, probably because I started spending more than necessary time on it or probably I felt too old to use it. I grew out of the social networking phase. The whole gaga about everything wasn’t me. I had made a virtual world and at one point of time, I had to realize that reality was going to knock me down one day. I didn’t even know when the day arrived.

I truly began to feel the need to disconnect. From the social aspect, I personally had say about a 100 to 150 friends on the friends list but I don’t believe in leaving my life like an open book. I don’t like to tell the whole world what I am up to or where I am going today. I don’t, I just don’t! I am an introvert. I have my tiny circle of friends who I like to share my life with. The others are probably acquaintances, colleagues, relatives etc. In time, I realized that the ones who are really close to me know where to find me through other means and so that wouldn’t be a problem. I wasn’t asking for social outcast. Nobody likes to be lonely! I guess I just needed to take back control of my life myself!

I had tried disconnecting before, maybe once or twice, but I couldn’t see myself keep at it. So I ended up going back. I had seen a few friends do it too and I swear I couldn’t imagine seeing myself thoroughly disconnected. But when it happened, I felt the difference. I do agree that sometimes, I wondered if it would make a difference if I went back. I had tried going back too by the way, but I couldn’t stay for more than a few hours, only to confirm my decision for myself that this was finally permanent.

When I had begun my self evaluation test, I started feeling so worthless that I began to notice that not only was I slacking my obligations as a Muslimah but also neglecting my social responsibilities towards all the relationships that require me to be responsible for some or the other thing.

Ultimately, I think each one of us have different reasons and different factors for everything we do. For me it was my self evaluation result which upset me. I knew I was better than what I was giving to myself and my own life. And all I had to do was tab my un-productivity and eliminate and take measures towards self development. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not a one time done thing. It’s a long process, a slow and never-ending one. It is the baby steps which count, one little step at a time!

I call this My Comeback Story, with due humbleness!

And I hope and pray that all us Muslimahs invest our time in doing productive things and are always climbing the ladder of self betterment! InshaAllah!

Apr 26, 2012

The Remarkable Life of Ali ibn Abi Talib - Part 1

By Ruby

Bismillah

You are my brother in this world and the next” (at-Tirmidhi, 6084)

Name and Family 
Ali ibn Abi Talib, one of the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam , is a renowned figures of Islam. His dedication and contribution to Islam and the Message of Allah cannot be denied. Ali RadiAllahu anhu led an incredible life of bravery, strength, steadfastness and piety. Due to his familiarity and nearness to the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam, Ali’s life serves as an example for Muslims to study and benefit from, no matter what time period one lives in.

To begin with, one should come to know the family and lineage of this Sahabi. Ali was the son of Abu Talib, who was the son of Abdul Muttalib. Thus, this made him the direct cousin of the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam. Abu Talib had some financial difficulties and a large household to support around the time his son, Ali, was a young boy. Due to this problem, the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam and his wife, Khadijah RadiAllahu Anha, took Ali into their home to ease the burden on the Prophet’s uncle. Ali grew up with the Prophet’s children, and became as near to him as they were.

By living alongside the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam, Ali was able to witness first-hand the sayings, actions, and manner of Rasulullah Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam. He learned from the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam’s thoughtful insights as well as his daily life activities. Ali was a blessed child to have been so close to our beloved Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam, and he did not allow such an opportunity go to waste. He was an intelligent and intellectual boy, able to understand the truth of Islam when the time came. Due to his nearness, Ali RadiAllahu anhu became a close confidant of the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam, an honor not given to many of his time.

Acceptance of Islam
Ali was present when the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam first began receiving revelation. Different reports state Ali’s age as either ten or thirteen at this time, but the point here is that he was only a boy. He was just a child when he noticed Khadijah and the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam praying. Curious, Ali enquired as to what they were doing. Rasulullah Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam invited Ali to join them in worshipping Allah, the Exalted, but the young child wanted to ask his own father for advice. Yet the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam had not made the message public. And so, the decision fell upon the boy’s shoulders.

In today’s times, we consider young children to be innocent, needing to be sheltered from any tough decisions or choices. When we look at the Sahabi, the people around the time of the Prophet SalAllahu aleyhi wasallam, we see how mature and responsible even the children were. Simply looking at Ali’s example shows us that he was a unique person, even as a child. He took on the decision to join the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam on his own. He realized the truth, and this was all that mattered to him. It was not about what others would say to him, but rather, about how he would be held responsible in front of Allah SWT.

The day after the invitation to Islam was offered, young Ali went up to the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam. In his profound words, he said to him, "When Allah created me He did not consult my father, so why should I consult my father in order to serve Allah?”. Declaring this sincere and reflective question, Ali RadiAllahu anhu became the first boy to become Muslim. Ali’s wisdom in understanding the purpose of life is so incredible here, because as we will come to know, even grown men of his time rejected the message which Prophet Muhammad Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam brought forth. Knowing that life’s purpose is to obey and worship Allah, since He is our Creator, made perfect sense to this young child. As Ali would come to witness, most of the adults around him, including his own family members, could not accept the notion of worshipping Allah alone.

Da’wah to Relatives
Soon after, the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam was given command to spread Islam to his nearest relatives. Forty of the family members were invited to a feast at the Prophet’s house, though the blessed Prophet only had a leg of mutton and a cup of milk to offer them. Ali brought forth the food when the family had gathered. Rasulullah Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam advised them to eat in the name of Allah, and miraculously, the food was enough to fill every stomach and was still left over. Ali is reported to have said, “I could see no change in the quantity of the food, except that it had been stirred by men’s hands.”

Before the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam could speak, one of the uncles (Abu Lahab) suddenly claimed they had all been put under a spell. Everyone left, feeling frightened. The next day, the Prophet Sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam invited his family once more. This time, he declared his message, asking for anyone to become his brother and successor. No one, except Ali RA, responded, saying, “O Prophet of Allah, I will be your helper in this.” The relatives only laughed, seeing that Ali was only a thirteen year old boy! Little did they see that this intelligent and wise young man would die years later, as a ruler of the vast Muslim Empire. It was clear from the beginning that Ali had a fine understanding of the revelation, the message of the Allah, which would come to transform millions of people’s hearts throughout history and beyond.

….To be Continued!

Source: Those Promised Paradise, by Noura Durkee

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

Apr 25, 2012

Practical Steps for Seeking and Retaining Knowledge

By Melody

Bismillah.

In this article, I will try to outline the various steps to help retain knowledge. It is part of human nature to forget, and if we don’t take active steps in striving to remember it, the knowledge will be lost which defeats the purpose of acquiring it in the first place. As mentioned in the previous article: “Knowledge is not the prolific retention of traditions but a light which floods the heart” [Ibn Abbas]. If it provides no benefit to you and to those around you, it will not help you in this life or the Hereafter, which is a waste of your precious time and effort.

Mind Mapping
After the discovery of Leanardo da Vinci’s notes, written in a mind mapping format, Tony Buzan was inspired to develop the mind mapping technique. In this technique, notes are centred around a theme with ideas and information branching off from this central theme. It is a technique I would definitely recommend to any seeker of knowledge. To produce a mind map that can serve as an effective recall tool, the following features should be included:

· The central theme should be an illustration rather than a word. Our brain is better at using diagrams and illustrations to capture concepts rather than through words. As the saying goes: a picture speaks a thousand words.
· Lists are discouraged from being made; on the contrary, ideas and concepts should be branched out from the central theme creating a dynamic tool that allows connections to be seen and made with ease. This pattern of working is similar to how our own brain works.
· Colour should be used throughout the mind map as it aids in clarity, organisation and retention of knowledge.
· Pictures should be drawn wherever possible; even if drawing is not what you would consider your strength there is no harm in trying! You will be surprised at what you can come up with. Pictures can summarise text better than words do and the more you try the more your creativity will expand, multiply and grow in new dimensions.

The Technique 

1. Activate prior knowledge - 
Prior to acquiring new information, it is useful to sit down first and revisit your previous knowledge. See how much you know already. Start your mind map and literally write anything down and let your mind run free of the knowledge and ideas that are locked inside and bursting to be let out. The purpose of this exercise is to get you in the correct mindset before studying and hence allows you to more readily absorb new information. Our mind generates thoughts faster than we can write them and instead of writing out details, we should categorise our thoughts into key headings. These headings should be chosen so that reading them will stimulate an area of knowledge. These “labels” will be different for different individuals because certain words remind us of different things; the purpose is for us to group information into different compartments that serve as a store for knowledge. You want to summarise as much information in few words as possible. Once the knowledge is written down and organised on to a page, it becomes much easier then to make links, and for further links to be made. The more links you see, the more you are likely to remember.

2. Identify your gap in knowledge - Once your previous knowledge is organised into specific headings, it becomes easier to locate where your gap in knowledge resides. From this, formulate questions that you aim to find the answers to; these will form the basis of your learning objectives.

3. Planning - Next decide what resources you want to use to help meet your learning objectives. These may include books, websites and lectures. Skim through the materials you wish to use prior to getting started for a general idea of what knowledge you expect to gain from each. Decide how much time you wish to dedicate towards each resource and what answers you aim to acquire from the individual resources. Be as specific as you can. It is much more effective and productive having an aim prior to doing your research before plunging in blindly without any guidance. You will automatically pick out the information that is relevant and this saves you time having to plough through useless information. Knowledge can then readily be linked back to previous knowledge which helps you see the wider picture.

4. Expanding your mind map - As you go through the material, summarise concepts into labels and add those to your mind map. Remember, HEADINGS and labels only, try to avoid sentences; you want to compartmentalise your knowledge as much as possible. In fact, you may find that several mind maps can be made from the original theme you came up with and these can then be grouped together in a master mind map.

5. Review - It is interesting to note that our memory does not go down after a learning session; in fact it goes up, before going down after a certain point. If we can review our information just before our memory goes down, this will drastically help our recall and improve our general memory. For example, upon completing an hour of a learning session:

· Review the information after ten minutes for around ten minutes. The reviewing session should include completing notes in a finalised mind mapping format that will make the information easier to recall. This may stay in your memory for about a day.
· The next day, review the information for 2-4 minutes. In this session, and for the next reviewing sessions, jot down everything you can remember in mind map form, then compare this to the finalised, completed mind map and make the relevant additions. This may be remembered till up to a week.
· After a week, review for 2 minutes. This may be retained for around a month.
· After a month, one final review can be made which will transfer this information to Long Term Memory.

Reviewing information is very important; if this is not done the student is at a great disadvantage. The information will not be learnt, memory will be made worse and all that time and effort made in acquiring the information will go to waste. It is much more worthwhile to review information in short bursts because after a few sessions the knowledge will enter your long term memory where it is allowed to integrate with your current knowledge. In this way, your memory will keep on expanding and your ability to absorb and digest new information will be made much more readily.

6. Apply knowledge and teach others - Finally, in order for yourself and your community to benefit from the knowledge gained, you must follow knowledge up with action. For example, if you learnt about the high virtuous esteem that giving in charity is held in Islam, it follows that you should apply this knowledge and start to give in to charity more readily. If you learn about the rules of Tajweed, you should start applying these rules in your recitation of Qur’an. The other aspect of application comprises teaching others what you have learnt, even if it is just to your family. The more people you teach, the better. With the advancing technologies we have available, knowledge can be spread faster and easier than ever before.

To conclude, a final note to the seeker of knowledge:
· Knowledge is precious and those wishing to pursue it must realise that it is both a privilege and a responsibility.
· Clean and purity of intentions is essential.
· Always strive to seek that which is beneficial, acquire it in the best of manners and remember that the knowledge must be applied and taught to others wherever possible.

I remind myself before reminding anyone else.

Reference: “Use Both Sides Of Your Brain” by Tony Buzan.

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

Apr 24, 2012

An Insight on Domestic Abuse - Interview with Robina Niaz

By An Ghela
Interview with Robina Niaz - Founder of Turning Point for Women and Families.



Have you heard of our upcoming webinar on this topic??? Check it out HERE.



Violence against women knows no culture or religion. It is not the fault of the victim or an inevitable response to a woman’s actions. Nevertheless as Muslims we need to educate ourselves on what our religion says about our status on this earth and the position that Allah has granted us.

Islam raises a woman’s position by safeguarding her identity. As an example, Muslim women are not allowed to change their last names once they are married as other cultures do. This emphasizes that a woman does not become a man’s property but his companion with a uniqueness given by her Creator that would not be changed after marriage. We also see how in other cultures women commit adultery if they are married but if they are single they are not constrained by any law. In Islam a woman’s chastity is so valuable no matter if she is married or single she responds to Allah foremost.

Equally a woman’s relationship with a man is adorned with words such as protection, mercy, comfort, love and metaphors of being each other’s garment. Such words are not just nicely put descriptions but are signs from Allah and should be treated with the highest degree of consideration and obedience. How important a partner can be that the Prophet (saw) says that a man would complete his religion once he gets married! This could only imply that he should take as much care of his marriage as he has taken care of his religious duties as a single man.

As pointed above Muslim women were given a special position with rights and obligations that have to be protected by all Muslims. Allah has created men and women from the same essence and at the same time has condemned the ill treatment of any Muslim. Therefore the abuse of a Muslim woman is the abuse of Islam. The treatment of women in our society is a clear reflection of the state of our society as a whole.

We are aware that even though Islam is perfect Muslims are not. However is essential to point out humans were not given their rights by a court of law or by a group of religious leaders, our rights were given by Allah and is our duty to learn and enforce them. Sadly we still keep hearing cases of domestic violence occurring in our Ummah. The first step to combat this epidemic is educating ourselves and passing the information to all the Muslim women and men in our lives. Education is the key!

To get a better insight about Domestic Violence we interviewed Sister Robina Niaz MSW the Founder and Executive Director of Turning Point for Women and Families. Turning Point for Women and Families is the first non-profit organization in New York City that aims to address Domestic Violence in the Muslim community by offering crisis intervention services, individual and group counseling, advocacy, outreach, education and training (http://www.turningpoint-ny.org/index.html).

Q. What is Domestic Violence? 
A. Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional coercive behavior by one partner against the other, which is aimed at gaining power & control.

Q. What does Islam say about abuse and what does it say about the treatment of women?
A. Islam reminds Muslims to treat women and children with the utmost respect and kindness and we see numerous examples from our beloved Prophet Mohammed’s (pbuh) own life which demonstrate how he treated his wives. In fact he reminded men by saying “The best of you are those who best treat their women. And I am the best of people to my women.”

Q. What are some of the factors that lead to a person becoming abusive?
A. Abusive behavior is rooted in the abuser’s own insecurity and his/her need to control and sustain power over another person who is deemed vulnerable which is mostly women and children.

Q. Some people believe that abuse can only be physical or that it can only be done by a spouse. What are the different types of abuse?
A. • Physical abuse is only one form of abuse and many abusers will not hit or batter but use other forms of abuse which are: psychological/emotional, sexual, verbal and financial.
• The perpetrators of abuse are not just spouses but can be parents, siblings, authority figures, in-laws and adult children who perpetrate abuse on elderly parents or in-laws.

Q. What are the warning signs of an abusive relationship and how can a woman determine if she or someone she knows is part of one?
A. Typically an abuser will try to isolate the victim from her friends, family and anyone else who might be supportive of her. He may either stop her from working or if she’s working will have full control of her salary so she will not have access to money. He will be extremely controlling and will demand that she take permission from him to call or meet with friends. He may also demonstrate extreme jealousy and possessiveness and convince her by saying that because he loves her, he is jealous. He may also use children to scare her and threaten her that if she does not “obey” him she will be separated from them – a fear that prevents her from seeking help or telling anyone. He will put her down verbally, criticize the way she looks or dresses (“too fat” or “too thin”), say things that will make her doubt her decisions or behavior and cause her to lose her confidence and self-esteem. He may force her to defer to his parents if they live together and “do as they say” so the control may be extended to other family members when he is not home. He may use her immigration status to control her (not file for a green card even if he’s eligible) or take away her green card/passport so she lives in constant fear.

Q. If a woman finds herself being the victim of abuse, what steps should she take to protect herself and get out of that situation?
A. • I think it’s important that women who are victims of abuse understand that they are not alone and there are resources in most major cities that they can access. It’s also important for them to know that domestic violence is a crime in the United States, and if she has children who are exposed to domestic violence, she needs to protect them as well as herself. If she finds herself or her children in physical danger she can always call 911, go to the Family Court (even if she doesn’t have a police report) and get an order of protection. If she is in physical danger can call the domestic violence hotline (800-621-4673 in NYC) and the hotline counselor will help her find a shelter.
• It is also important that she keep all her documents with her in case she has to leave her home (passport, green card, birth certificates, marriage certificate, husband’s social security number and her own social security card, tax returns etc.). It is also a good idea to make copies of all these documents and keep them with someone she trusts well ahead of time in case she has to leave her home.
• If she is not sure whether she is a victim, she can always go to a community-based organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence, learn about her legal rights, child safety laws, and her options so that she can make an informed decision and protect herself and her children.
• It is also very helpful to share with friends and family members what is going on so they understand why she needs to get away. Often a woman is blamed and her sense of shame prevents her from letting others know how much she is suffering.

Q. How can we raise girls and boys knowing their rights and obligations to each other as stated in Islam and prevent violence being passed through generations?
A. By connecting them with positive role models and religious leaders who are educated and well informed so they can get correct information. Statistics show that abusive behavior is learned and 70% of the times boys who watch their fathers abuse will become abusers themselves. And 70% of the girls who watch their mothers abused will find themselves in abusive marriages. It is very important that the Muslim community and religious leaders understand the dynamics of abuse and hold abusers responsible for their behavior. Learned behavior can be unlearned by seeking professional help, but we also know that abusive men will seldom voluntarily go for help and insist that the woman is at fault.

• Girls must be taught to recognize abuse and talk to an adult when they see it being played out in their lives. Boys must be taught and reminded that they have a choice, and abusive behavior is an unacceptable choice with serious consequences.

Q. Some women choose to stay in abusive relationships because of cultural/family pressures, economic dependence or because they believe that divorce is frowned upon in Islam. What are the consequences of staying in an abusive relationship?
A. • Often Muslim women tell me that they stayed in abusive marriages because of their children and the financial dependence on the abuser. Our entire community, not just the women who are victims, need to be educated about the issues, dynamics and serious consequences of abuse. Statistics show that abusive behavior is learned behavior, and unless the abuser gets professional help, it does not change. Family/society’s expectation that “it’s a woman’s responsibility to hold a family together” is misplaced and sends the wrong message to the abuser. If he is not held accountable for his behavior and there are no consequences, he will continue to abuse. This makes the victims, often women and children, even more vulnerable and isolated. We also need to help women understand that Islam does not condone abusive behavior and allows women to divorce if they are not being treated properly. When cultural norms are interpreted as religious mandates, they do a lot of harm not just to women but to Islam in general.

Q. What can we do as a Muslim community to create a safe space for abused women so they can feel helped and protected?
A. • I cannot impress enough on the importance of reassuring women that they are not alone so they feel it is safe to speak about abuse. We need to have professionally trained individuals, social workers and community-based organizations that provide women the services they need and educate them about safety planning as well as their legal rights. All of us need to remind ourselves that anyone can be a victim of abuse, and so must refrain from judging a victim or her actions otherwise it will further isolate her. As Muslims we are reminded to speak up against oppression and injustice and bear witness even against ourselves and/or our kin. We should remember our duty, and do all that we can to stop oppression and violence perpetrated against women.
• There is a very serious dearth of shelter space in general, and there are no shelters in the New York area designed to serve Muslim women and children. As a community we need to understand that it is critical that we find the resources to start a shelter which meets all legal Requirements and is run by professionally trained staff.
• We must encourage young Muslims to adopt social work as a profession so that they can acquire the skills they need to serve our community and its most vulnerable members.
• I strongly believe that our community should establish a fund and raise money for grassroots community-based organizations so that they have the resources to continue providing services to Muslim women and children. We know that Islam places enormous importance on our duty to fellow Muslims, and we must remember to do all we can to help others improve their lives.

Q. What resources do you recommend for our readers who would like to learn more about Domestic Violence prevention and organizations that help the victims?
A. On Turning Point for Women and Families’ website, resources for Muslim women are listed by state: www.turningpoint-ny.org

And some of the websites below have valuable articles and information:
• www.karamah.org
• www.peacefulfamilies.org
• www.baitulsalaam.net
• www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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


Apr 23, 2012

Eliminating Doubts From Our Lives - Part 2

By M

Bismillah

Eliminate Doubt from the Future, Past and Present.

Not everything we perceive as bad is bad. It mostly is a blessing in disguise. 

Have you ever experienced something that seems negative?

Once, I planned to participate in a Saturday market day. You know, the type where you get assigned a table and you can sell any product you like? I really wanted to acquire stock from a family friend; she has the most beautiful jewellery. Bam! The month I want it, there is no extra stock available.

I was disheartened. I went to the fair as a visitor instead, only to find out that the man in charge of hiring and avoiding conflicting sellers of similar goods, was not so good at fitting the job description.

I was happy to avoid the stress, after a seething dispute followed for a good hour.

Loss of wealth...
Ever heard of a man called Mufti Menk? He’s Zimbabwean and his lectures are available to view on YouTube. He profoundly said that loss of wealth is sometimes a blessing in disguise. If Allah loves you, He might allow this to occur so that you can draw closer to Him, and put you in a better state of being within yourself.

Sometimes we of the human race tend to love and draw closer to Goodness once we are faced with a situation that is not always what we want. And out of that comes a sense of happiness we were unaware we were ignoring.

That which is perceived as good and bad is fated. Tests, challenges, and most importantly blessings like loss, poverty, lost opportunity, losing a loved one, a job, a friendship...are sometimes given to us as a necessity to put us back on track to our enlightenment, to our success, to our future.

Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind]. (Surah Ad-Dukhan 44:3)

[Every] matter [proceeding] from Us. Indeed, We were to send [a messenger]. (Surah Ad-Dukhan 44:5)

(in the noble Quran in the English language, in this verse, the word matters refers to the matters of deaths, births, provisions, calamities, etc. For the whole (coming) year as decreed by Allah)

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. (Surah At-Taghabun 64:11)

(the noble Quran translation is :No calamity befalls but by the the Leave [Decision and Qadar (Divine Preordainments)] of Allah, and whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart [to the true Faith with certainty, i.e. What has befallen him was already written for him by Allah from the Qadar (Divine Preordainments). And Allah is All-Knower of everything)

And We have already sent messengers before you and assigned to them wives and descendants. And it was not for a messenger to come with a sign except by permission of Allah. For every term (the word ‘matter’ is used in the noble Quran)) is a decree. (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:38)

The following hadith is a very famous one, and feel free to study it and read through it. For the purpose of the point of our conversation, please look closely at the underlined section. I would like to show you that to satisfy your heart, know it is part of our faith to believe that everything we understand as good and bad is fate.

It doesn’t mean we are destined to suffer.

On the contrary, it makes it easy for us to accept and be patient, and try to see that Allah Loves us, and He is very aware of what we face, and He is there every step of the way. Guess we have to try and hold on to Him, for in this act, we might truly find the light of peace, and allow the goodness waiting for us to pour in.

On the authority of 'Umar, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said: "While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, rested his knee against his thighs, and said, O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam." Said the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, "Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah (ritual prayer), pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka'bah at Makkah), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it)." Said he (the man), "You have spoken truly." We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, "Inform me about IMAN (IFAITH)." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, "It IS THAT YOU BELIEVE in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and IN FATE (QADAR), BOTH IN ITS GOOD AND IN ITS EVIL ASPECTS." He said, "You have spoken truly." Then he (the man) said, "Inform me about Ihsan." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, " It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you." He said, "Inform me about the Hour." He (the Messenger of Allah) said, "About that the one questioned knows no more than the questioner." So he said, "Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming)." Said he, "They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings." Thereupon the man went off. I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah) said, "O 'Umar, do you know who that questioner was?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better." He said, "That was Jibril. He came to teach you your religion." [Muslim]

And above all, be positive. For the loss of opportunity is replaced by a better one if we try bear with patience, and allow ourselves the opportunity to rectify our mistakes and love each other and be happy.

Lets all try to live our best happiest, most positive lives. A challenge, maybe. But one worth its weight in light.

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

Apr 22, 2012

SPANISH : Yes Women Can Work - Part 1

By An Ghela
Escrito por Khadeejah Islam 
Traducido por An Ghela 

Original Article - http://www.habibihalaqas.org/2011/11/yes-women-can-work-part-1.html



Sí, Las Mujeres Pueden Trabajar (Primera Parte)


“¿Pueden las mujeres trabajar en áreas en las que tienen que examinar el cuerpo de hombres como la medicina y derivados? ¿Debería permitirse que una mujer practique la medicina cuando hay tantos hombres capaces de realizar este trabajo el cual implica un horario de 9A.M. a 4 P.M.? ¿Podría esta mujer darle el tiempo suficiente a su familia? ¿Deberíamos permitir a nuestras mujeres musulmanas que salgan a la calle y se expongan a sí mismas en frente de la sociedad?”

Me tomo de sorpresa cuando un hermano puso esta pregunta en un foro del internet, no porque cuestionaba si una mujer podía trabajar, pero porque implicaba un concepto equivocado de la verdadera definición del trabajo. La idea de que una mujer musulmana no debería trabajar es un concepto que aun continua plagando a nuestra comunidad musulmana. Por esta razón decidí explorar este tema e ilustrar los siguientes puntos:

La licitud de que las mujeres trabajen fuera del hogar desde el punto de vista de los expertos en ciencias Islámicas.

La definición de la palabra trabajo y como se relaciona con la productividad dentro y fuera del hogar.

La necesidad de ser productiva y por lo tanto, trabajar.

Áreas en las que una mujer puede ser productiva.

Como fomentar la productividad en las mujeres.

La licitud de que las mujeres trabajen fuera del hogar desde el punto de vista de los expertos de las ciencias Islámicas.

“Si una mujer tiene las destrezas profesionales (que es algo que no todas las mujeres poseen) y que son necesarias para ayudar a otras mujeres y a la sociedad en conjunto, es permitido que ella practique su profesión fuera del hogar, mientras que ella se adhiera a las reglas y condiciones impuestas por la sharee’ah y que tenga el permiso de su guardián legal. Es permisible que una doctora abra una clínica fuera de su hogar dedicada al tratamiento de mujeres y niños. Dichas clínicas facilitan que las mujeres que estén enfermas puedan ser atendidas por una doctora y que no tengan que descubrir su ‘awrah en frente de un doctor si necesitan ser atendidas. Dentro de las reglas, los hombres deberían ser atendidos por doctores y enfermeros, y las mujeres por doctoras y enfermeras. No debería haber mezcla entre hombres y mujeres en establecimientos médicos a menos que sea absolutamente necesario y mientras no haya miedo de tentación. “[1]

“No hay ningún decreto en el Islam que prohíbe que una mujer busque empleo si hay necesidad para aquello, especialmente en posiciones que son afines a su naturaleza y para las cuales la sociedad tiene una necesidad. Ejemplos de dichas profesiones son la enfermería, enseñanza (especialmente de niños), y medicina. Lo que es más, no hay ninguna restricción en beneficiarse del talento excepcional de una mujer en cualquier campo.” [3]

“En una verdadera sociedad Islámica, deben existir doctoras, enfermeras, profesoras.” [3]

“El verso del Corán que dice: ‘quédense en sus hogares…’ (Corán 33:33) ha sido mal interpretado por muchos, y por eso ha tenido un derecho de autoridad o Qawama. En muchos casos vemos a hombres oponerse a que las mujeres participen en dar Da’wah y por lo tanto impiden que ellas cumplan su rol hacia sus hermanos musulmanes y hacia la sociedad en general” [4]

“Aunque un doctor no atienda a mujeres a menos que sea un caso de absoluta necesidad, él debe aprender cómo atender a ambos sexos, porque una mujer puede que no consiga a una doctora en cierta especialidad o en cierta ciudad. Por lo cual no hay nada malo en que un hombre estudie dibujos o figuras que muestren el cuerpo humano, sea de un hombre o de una mujer.” [5]

La verdadera definición de la palabra trabajo y como se relaciona con la productividad dentro y fuera del hogar .

¿Qué es lo que te viene a la mente cuando piensas en una musulmana trabajadora? ¿Una mujer medio vestida, arrogante y que no tiene consideración de su familia? Aquí es donde nos equivocamos. Pensamos en mujeres trabajadoras como son definidas por los medios de comunicación de países seculares. No pensamos en ellas por medio de los estándares islámicos. No nos imaginamos a una musulmana piadosa trabajando diligentemente fuera de su hogar mientras mantiene sus deberes familiares.

La palabra ‘trabajo’ tiene once diferentes significados. Es definida como “empleo, ocupación, etcétera., especialmente como un medio de ganar dinero”. [6]. Es también definida como “la aplicación del esfuerzo con un propósito fijo.” [7]

La segunda definición amerita ser resaltada. No especifica el propósito ni menciona la intención de ganar un salario como una razón por la cual una puede escoger aplicar su esfuerzo (o trabajar). Por esta razón, una musulmana puede aplicar su esfuerzo con cualquier propósito, tanto en su hogar como fuera de su hogar. Cuando una musulmana asiste a un familiar enfermo, ciertamente ella está trabajando. Cuando una musulmana cría a sus hijos de la mejor manera, esto es considerado un trabajo. Cuando una musulmana hace voluntariado hacia una causa noble, ella está trabajando.

En conclusión, no importa si la tarea cumplida es pagada o no, y si es cumplida en el hogar o no, mientras la mujer sea productiva ella está trabajando. En este caso, toda mujer es una mujer trabajadora. Esto debe clarificar todos los malos entendidos.

Continuara insha’Allah… Mientras tanto por favor dejen sus opiniones y comentarios de este artículo en la sección de comentarios. ¡Nos encantaría escuchar sus opiniones! Gracias.

Notas: 
[1] http://islamqa.com/en/ref/286/
[2] El Estatus de la Mujer en el Islam, Dr. Jamal Badawi. http://islamswomen.com/articles/status_of_women_in_islam.php
[3] http://islamswomen.com/articles/do_muslim_women_have_rights.php
[4] Mujeres y Da’wah, 'Abdul Latif M. Al-Hassan y Sumayyah Bint Joan. http://islamswomen.com/articles/women_in_dawah.php
[5] http://islamqa.com/en/ref/40054/
[6] Oxford Compact Dictionary and Thesaurus (edited by Julia Elliott), page-890.
[7] Oxford Compact Dictionary and Thesaurus (edited by Julia Elliott), page-890.

Apr 21, 2012

Homeschooling - Free Curriculum and Resources

By Holly Garza



Enjoy the free education sites and have fun making your curriculums or just adding to your child’s educational experience.

Here I am including some FREE internet curriculum for you all.

My favorite, especially if you’re an Eclectic Homeschooler (meaning you don’t stick to only one method and you pick different things that work) is this link which tells you what a student should be learning at that “grade” level.
http://www.worldbook.com/curriculum-correlations
Just click on the “grade” your child is in and work on those subjects with them!!

A free website of curriculum/classes is
http://www.theheadoftheclass.com/
http://www.amblesideonline.org/New.shtml

Your local Public Library!!!
I usually look up Curriculum stuff online and if there is something that I really want to check out I just get it at the library for free! The Library is where 78-85 % of our homeschooling resources are from!!!

http://talibiddeenjr.wordpress.com/
Many subjects on almost everything, from Islamic to taking care of the home, to planning and how to’s on Homeschooling. May Allah reward the sister who runs these websites with Firdaus Al-Alaa. Great stuff, ameen!

Need to find out quickly how something works? Here is a wonderful helpful site for you to use
http://howstuffworks.com

A site with access to your Staate textbooks and others as well, go to www.eduplace.com

Another great site which another sister runs is http://yemenlinks.com/Theme/HS
Many links and FREE downloads to arts and crafts homeschooling, Islamic information This sister does such a great job may Allah reward her and grant her Firdaous Al-Alaa ameen!

www.nationalgeographic.com

Homeschool help with some of the difficult subjects
http://www.hippocampus.org/

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include this next site! There is so much information on there!!! It is not an Islamic site but it is a very useful site full of many FREE links, sites, ideas and tips. When I discovered her site I wished I had known of it years before!!!
http://www.freehomeschooling101.com/
http://chunkymonkey.com/

Phonics, grammar, and Spelling Lessons:
www.starfall.com (younger children)
http://ehow.com
http://www.azargrammar.com/materials/FWG_TOC.html

Free textbooks & Foreign Language courses
http://www.textbooksfree.org/

Math & Metric Math
http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/kids/kidsmain.htm
www.coolmath.com

History
Free American Govt
http://www.hippocampus.org/American%20Government

Science
http://www.sciencebuddies.com/
Free Science fair project ideas and much more!

http://www.funsci.com/
Here you will find instructions showing you how to build scientific equipment from relatively cheap materials. Projects include instructions for making telescopes, microscopes, batteries, sidereal indicators, and several other instruments. Moreover, you will find programs on the lexical analysis of texts and the determination of the readability of texts, etc.

http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/index.html?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microscopy-uk.org.uk%2Fponddip%2Findex.html
This website allows you to virtuallyexplore pond life and all the amazing microscopic critters that live there!

http://softschools.com
May Allah make it easy on all of us and protect and guide us to teach our children with love, truth, acceptance ( of them and from us to everyone) and give us the right way to teach, aid and guide them Ameen

Please let me know if you need help or would like to help me add to this list inshaAllah

Apr 20, 2012

Purity of Intentions in Good Actions

By M

Bismillah 

The beauty of a good deed and the magnitude of its worth lies in its intention. It can raise a person from the depths of sorrow to the pleasant comfort of healing. A person, who sincerely submits to Ultimate Love, will never be left empty handed when asking for help. 

Indulge me if you will. 

I think it’s safe to assume that we’ve all felt complete sorrow. 

Imagine that feeling again. 

Imagine the isolation that accompanies it. The suppressive feeling of having no way out. Of being misunderstood.

But more than anything, the intensity of sorrow and vulnerability that engulfs your entire being. 

Now imagine the darkest of stormy nights, winds lapping viciously, being swallowed whole by a huge creature in the dark, and feeling the environment around you move down into the deep recesses of the earth, and not being able to do a thing about it. 

Suppressive isn’t it? 

This is probably an inkling of what Prophet Jonah (Yunus) felt as he plummeted to the depths of the ocean, after being swallowed by a whale divinely instructed to cut through a watery path on a dark stormy night, to get to him immediately after he was thrown off the ship on which he sailed. 

It’s quite awe inspiring to fathom that a huge gigantic whale is instructed to swallow you, to know exactly where you are, at precisely the exact time you’re thrown off a ship, albeit hesitantly. 

Just some background: Yunus aleyhi salaam was an honourable man, hesitantly thrown off a ship with some of its contents to lighten the load aboard it, in the hopes that it wouldn’t sink during a storm. He was aboard this particular ship after becoming very discouraged by the people of Nineveh, to whom he was sent as a Messenger, after they had denied his message. 

So in his disheartenment, he turned away from his mission, leaving them to their misery as he called it. Fearing the Wrath of Allah might follow he boarded a ship leaving his troubles behind him. At this time the sky began to brew a looming trial for the people of the town. 

The storm looked ferocious, dangerous, and the townsfolk journeyed to higher ground until the sounds of their prayers for Forgiveness and Mercy from their Lord filled the air. 

Allah's Mercy and Forgiveness descended upon them and they prayed for the return of Jonah, to guide them once again. 

Now the weather was pretty fair and pleasant when our Prophet aleyhi salaam left the shore, until nightfall. The waves then began to strike the ship as if it were to split it, rising like high mountains and crashing upon the deck. 

Commands had been issued by Allah to one of the biggest whales in the sea, to surface and follow the ship. 

The people of the ship tried to lighten their load to no avail, and finally decided to cast lots (a polytheistic ritual in which Yunus was unhappy to participate) to throw one person over. Three times was it attempted and three times did Yunus's aleyhi salaam name come up. It was done three times as the crew were not so willing to cast off such an honourable man. 

He realized that the Will of Allah was in this, and he jumped off the ship, continuously mentioning Allah’s name. 

After being swallowed by the whale, residing in the darkness of its belly, his heart was moved by the thought of Allah, and his tongue cried out to its Lord as it mirrored the sincerity in his heart. 

And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, "There is no deity except You (oh Allah); Exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers” (Surah Al-‘Anbiya’ 21:87) 

And with the pure sincerity of the weighty good intention, a mere utterance of sincere repentance and truth, his healing began. He continued praying, and the creatures of the sea hearing the celebration of their Creator issuing forth from within the whale, began to gather around the whale praising their Creator in their own language. 

Allah, Hearing this immediately, commanded the whale to surface and release Jonah upon the shore of an island. Jonah's inflamed body began to ache as the rays from the rising sun fell upon him, and on the verge of screaming, he continued invoking Allah, whereupon Allah caused the exceptionally long vine of a gourd to grow around him, covering his damaged skin and inducing recovery. 

Allah told Jonah had he not been for his praying to Him, that he would have remained in the belly of the whale until Judgment day. 

He gradually regained strength and proceeded to his hometown, where he was pleasantly surprised to find that the entire population of a hundred thousand or more had turned as believers to their Creator and welcomed Jonah. 

There is a hadith narrated by ibn Abbas where the Prophet salAllahu aleyhi wasallam says “One should not say that I am better than Jonah Ibn Matta”. 

A tiny act of sincerity, of pure intention can raise a whale, heal an entire body, help you find your way back home, bring you back to favour. 

When we are willing to put anger aside, we see clearly, and allow ourselves to reap the rewards of pure intentions. 

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

Apr 19, 2012

Webinar: Domestic Violence - A Hidden Evil in Muslim Community on May 2nd, 2pm EST



























FREE ONLINE WEBINAR
Suggested Donation = $5
Donate HERE: http://bit.ly/hereisagiftforyou

Habibi Halaqas and MuslimMatters present:

Title: Domestic Violence - A Hidden Evil in Muslim Community

When: Wednesday, May 2nd 2012 in sha allah at 2:00 pm EST
Who: Umm Reem and Hena Zuberi

Register HERE: http://domesticviolencemuslims.eventbrite.com/

According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence. This problem is just as common within Muslims as it is within Non-Muslims but many are in denial. Then there are those who say that the Qur'an justifies beating of women. How do we answer this? How can one take a stand against this problem? All this and more ....

Meet our speakers:

Umm Reem has a bachelors degree in Islamic Studies from American Open University. She has been actively involved with the Muslim women of her community spiritually counseling with marital and mother-daughter issues and hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities, including special workshops regarding parenting and issues related to women.

Hena is a mother of 4 and the principal of her masjid's weekend school. She is also the editor in chief of MuslimMatters. In her other life, she was a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia. She also founded and ran the Road to Jannah summer program at her masjid.

What will be covered in this webinar?
  • What defines Domestic Violence 
  • Is this really a Muslim problem? 
  • Role of religion and culture in this issue 
  • What should we do as a community 
  • Taking a stand against this problem 
  • ... and much more! 
Register HERE: http://domesticviolencemuslims.eventbrite.com/

----------
This is a sisters only event
Online webcast with audio and visual presentation
----------
For maximum benefit, try your best to attend this event live.
---------
Toronto Time: 2 pm EST
Chicago Time: 1 pm CST
LA Time: 11 am PST
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The Prophetic Way Of Correcting Mistakes

By Nasmira Firdous

Bismillah

We live in an age where judging others has become the norm and mocking people for their mistakes has become a huge pastime. While some of us might do it unintentionally, others might fall into this out of ignorance or even arrogance. Calling ourselves the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam comes with certain responsibilities. One such responsibility is correcting people’s mistakes.

Quite often in this quest of learning the deen and implementing it in our lives, we become over judgmental of our own brothers and sisters. Instead of correcting their mistakes, we pass fatwas, turning them further away from the beauty of this deen. It is important to understand that this deen is very easy and correcting people’s mistakes should also be done in a beautiful manner.

“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern (example) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.”[1]

We have been blessed with numerous bounties and gifts, which Allah subhaana wa ta'aala chose to specifically shower us with. He, subhaana wa ta'aala, gave us a blueprint in life to follow, the Glorious Quran. Additionally, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala also gave us a guide in Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam who inculcated this blueprint in his daily activities.

Therefore, let us look at how our Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam used to correct people’s mistakes. Jot down certain specific characters of the Prophet, which you notice, while reading the ahadeeth mentioned below. Do remember to share your thoughts in the comments section inshAllah.

Anas ibn Maalik said, “Whilst we were in the mosque with the Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, a Bedouin came and started urinating in the mosque. The Companions said, “Stop it! Stop it!’ But, the Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Do not interrupt him; leave him alone.” So they left him until he had finished urinating, then the Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam called him and said to him, “In these mosques, it is not right to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Qur`an, or words to that effect.” Then he commanded a man who was there to bring a bucket of water and throw it over the (urine), and he did so.”[2]

Compassion and Love:
While correcting the Bedouin and pointing out his mistakes, Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not speak rudely to him, tell him off or humiliate him in front of others. Rather, he allowed the man to finish what he was doing, was patient the whole while and made him understand why he was wrong, softening the Bedouin’s heart and cooling the rising tempers of his companions at the same time.

Narrated Anas, “While the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was in the house of one of his wives, one of the mothers of the believers sent a meal in a dish. The wife, at whose house the Prophet was, struck the hand of the servant, causing the dish to fall and break. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam gathered the broken pieces of the dish and then started collecting on them the food which had been in the dish and said, "Your mother (my wife) felt jealous." Then he detained the servant till a (sound) dish was brought from the wife at whose house he was. He gave the sound dish to the wife whose dish had been broken and kept the broken one at the house where it had been broken.”[3]

Understand People:
This is a very important quality to develop while trying to correct people’s mistakes. More often than not, we tend to push our values and preach excessively without understanding why or what led that person to behave in such a manner. In the aforementioned hadeeth, we learn a mighty lesson.  Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam understood that jealousy run’s in a woman’s mind when she is given a dish prepared by her co wife. He didn’t chide her for breaking it, but made her replace the broken dish with a new one.The matter was done and over!

So, the next time you see your siblings do something which is inappropriate, rather than scolding them or scaring them away with harsh words, understand their psychology and get your point across in a polite manner. Winning people’s hearts is the first step towards correcting their mistakes. This is a great way to prevent misunderstandings and clear many misconceptions too!

Anas reported that a group of the Companions of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam asked the wives of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam about what he did. One of them (those Sahaabah, in an effort to become more religious by neglecting the dunya and increasing acts of i’badah) said, “I will never marry women.” Another said, “I will never eat meat.” Another said, “I will never sleep on a bed.” (When the companions left, the wives reported the incident to the Prophet). The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam praised and thanked Allah, then he said, “What is the matter with some people who say such and such? But, as for me, I pray and I sleep, I fast and I break my fast, and I marry women. Whoever turns away from my Sunnah has nothing to do with me.”[4]

Grab your ‘dawah moment’:
Did you notice how Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam used a vague description “some” rather than calling names while correcting their mistaken believes? He also made it a moment to teach them that Islam is all about moderation and balance between dunya and akhira. Giving dawah is an obligation upon us Muslims. So, the next time you see someone making a mistake, a sister not fulfilling her duties in wearing the hijab modestly or someone gossiping, instead of shouting “astaghfirullah”, grab your ‘dawah moment’ and let them know what Islam says about certain things.

Emulate the Prophet’s akhlaq: 
Allah subhaana wa ta'aala has preserved the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam for centuries, so that it could reach us. There is a reason for this. We are supposed to make Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam our role model and emulate him in whatever we do. He used to smile often, so let’s remain chirpy and exude positive energy towards others. He was soft and kind when dealing with laymen and his companions. Let us be soft and kind to our own families and friends. He won people’s hearts with his character, leading to the rapid spread of Islam, so much so that even his staunchest enemies accepted Islam and died for the cause of Islam!

Let’s see how many hearts we can win over by emulating Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, inshAllah?

Maintain a diary. Jot down important points about how:
· You corrected someone,
· If you made use of the Prophet’s principles in doing so,
· The kind of outcome you expected, and
· The kind of outcome you received.

Add a star to each heart you managed to win, insha’Allah! Let’s see how many hearts we manage to collect. Our Prophet’s personality was like a magnet, attracting people naturally. Let’s see how many people we can attract by correcting their mistakes, the sunnah way, inshAllah.

References:
1. Glorious Quran, Surah Al Ahzab 33:21
2. Saheeh Muslim, Number 285
3. Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 62, Number 152
4. Saheeh Muslim, Number 1041