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May 31, 2012

Eating Healthy

By Ummul Qawaareera

Bismillah

Our bodies are a trust from Allah 
He is the possessor
Of our souls
So we must feed our bodies
With that
Which will make us whole

Our bodies are a trust from Allah
So we must feed our minds
We must feed our hearts
And maintain healthy lives

Our bodies are a trust from Allah
And the character of Islam is modesty
So we must eat in moderation
So our minds can be alive
And our bodies can be healthy

Our bodies are a trust from Allah
With every day as we wake
We must praise Allah
And consume healthy nourishment
For Allaah's sake
With each day as it turns

And as time passes by
We must nourish our bodies
So we can increase in worship
And feel our eeman rise
And when we decide
On what will benefit our souls

We must keep in mind
That for our du'aa to be accepted
Our food must be lawful
And as our bodies are a trust from Allah
And the Hour is decreed
Before we are brought to account
We must take heed

From Allaah we have come
And to Him we shall return
So for the day we have to stand before Allah
Let's aim to be pure

It was related by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, Allah is good and accepts only what is good. Indeed, Allaah commands the believers with what He commands the Messengers and He (may He be Exalted) says: O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibât [all kinds of Halâl foods which Allâh has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables, fruits, etc.] and do righteous deeds.

And: O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allâh - Islâmic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with.

Then he (peace be upon him) mentioned a man who has travelled on a long journey and is dishevelled and covered with dust; he stretches forth his hands to the heaven, (saying)

"O Lord, O Lord", but his food is Haram (prohibited), his drink is Haram, his cloth is Haram, and all his nourishment is Haram, so how can his Du'aa' (supplication) be accepted?

[Muslim, Sahih, Book on Zakah, no. 1015; Al-Tirmidhy, Sunan, Book on Tafsir, no. 2989; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, p. 328; and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Book on heart-softening narrations, no. 2717.]

May 30, 2012

Khushoo In Salaah

By Nasmira Firdous

Bismillah

When I was given this topic, I started mentally rewinding all the series and lectures, books or articles I had heard/read about khushoo and its importance in salah. However, what I soon realized was that it didn’t matter how much I read or how many lectures I listened to, the effect of having khushoo only lasted for a few prayers and was not a consistent element in my salah.

For those who are not really sure what khushoo is, its most often translated as sincerity and concentration during salah, where you focus only on speaking with your Creator and not getting distracted by worldly affairs.

A famous speaker portrayed a very powerful and beautiful definition of khushoo. He said khushoo is a feeling when your limbs and mind become numb, when you can’t think or hear about anything else around you because you are standing in front of the King, the Master and speaking to Him. He referred to this numbness as something similar to what students would go through if they were summoned in front of the Principal’s office: the fear in their hearts and the numbness that engulfs their mind for a split second.

Sadly, there have been instances when I rush through the salah and sometimes even forget if I am praying the 3rd rakat or the 4th one! In trying to figure out where I was going wrong repeatedly, I narrowed down on the following points, which I hope would helps you to develop khushoo when you pray next time, insha’Allah.

1. Get into the groove even before prayer begins: Imagine how we would plan for a meeting or an interview. We would begin with checking if we are dressed properly, if our papers are ready and if we have perfected our speech. We would probably even repeat the speech many times over to make ourselves look prepared and confident.

Imagine the amount of pre preparation we should undergo in order to talk in front of the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth! So, in order to focus in salah, let us prepare even before we actually start praying.

Condition your mind and nafs to get into the groove by:
· Repeating after the adhaan
· Reciting the dua after adhaan
· Doing wudhoo with concentration
· Dressing nicely! (You are presenting yourself in front of your Lord, remember?)
· And, most importantly, pray on TIME.

2. Learn something new: Try learning a new short surah, or maybe even a few lines from a long surah. Recite the same after fatiha. This way you are automatically forced to concentrate on reciting something new. In turn, you will be keeping your heart and mind vigilant. This is an extremely powerful tool to prevent your mind from wandering away into thinking about other inconsequential matters while praying.

3. Don’t steal while praying:
Abu Qutaadah (may Allah subhaana wa ta'aala be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: ‘The worst type of thief is the one who steals from his prayer.’ He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, how can a person steal from his prayer?’ He said, ‘By not doing rukoo’ and sujood properly.’” [1] 

When treating salah as a boring form of physical movement, we tend to rush through to get over with it! But, we lose the blessings of performing salah here. While performing sujood, spend a couple of minutes extra to make dua. Bow your heart along with your body and submit to the Highest Power. Allow humility and peace to enter your heart and mind while praying rather than being worried about what meal to prepare.

While getting up from sujood, sit up straight and then go back into sujood position slowly, rather than slamming your forehead to the ground in quick succession. Feel relaxed and allow each bone in your body to feel at ease.

Salah gives you a free ticket to talk to the King of Heavens and the Earth, acknowledge the fact that it is a graceful and powerful meeting!

4. Learn the language: Well, the main reason why most of us find it difficult to concentrate in salah is because we fail to realize the magnanimity of the occasion, fail to realize whom we are speaking to and in most cases, don’t even understand what we are reciting because most of us are not native Arabs.

The best way to develop khushoo is to learn the language. If you don’t find time or means to learn Arabic, you can start by learning the meaning of the surahs that you generally recite during prayer. Try listening to the tafseers of those surahs and you will automatically realize the beauty of each letter mentioned in the Holy Book, helping you concentrate on every single word being uttered in salah, making you crave for more, insha’Allah.

5. Perfect your relationship with Allah : Allah says,
“… and establish prayer for My remembrance” [Surah Taha 20:14]

This is the Lord, the All Mighty, All Powerful asking us to pray so that we remember Him. Is there any instant when we forget our own families or kids? Now, how is it that we forget the Creator, the one who created our families and kids?

You might be wondering why I am talking about perfecting our relationship with Allah subhaana wa ta'aala on the same lines as that of khushoo. Ever noticed how close we get with friends when we get to know them better? A phone call or an online chat with them becomes more important than anything else. Imagine how much more engrossed we would be if we could develop the same kind of relationship (if not more) with our Lord ?

Our Rabb provides even after our disobedience, He loves us more than our own mothers do, He descends down during the last part of the night waiting to see if His slaves ask anything from Him, so isn’t it time we perfect our relationship with Him?

Understanding and allowing His Mercy and Love to enter our hearts will make our hearts humble, filling it with unimaginable love, automatically making us yearn for more chances to speak to the King, the All Merciful and Oft Forgiving, with complete concentration!

Start thinking about Allah subhaana wa ta'aala throughout the day and it will be easier to talk to Him when you are given 5 chances to do so. Take the first step, and He will come running towards you!

6. Defeat Satan:
“Then I (Satan) will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You]." [Surah Al-A’raf 7:17]

Satan has promised to annoy us and take us away from the straight path. We are given a challenge here to submit ourselves to our Lord and not let the Satan win. Salah is probably the most perfect time for Satan to distract us and he does end up succeeding on more occasions than one. Suddenly, an unfinished work seems more important and his whispers start getting louder. Crush the satanic whispers from within.

Stay away from haram, do not waste ‘free’ time, read beneficial books and do not make your mind a piece of meat for the Satan to devour upon. Keep Satan at bay when you are not praying and you will automatically be successful in cutting out his whispers while praying insha’Allah.

7. Diversify your dua list: Most of the time, we end up asking the same set of duas with an added ‘demand’ here and there according to the situation we are in. Notice how we always have something new and exciting to share with our friends everyday? But, why is it that we tell the same stuff everyday to our Lord? Speak to Him with zeal, enthusiasm and humility. Start diversifying your dua list. Increase your time in sujood and make dua, don’t rush to finish tasleem and walk out. Ask dua constantly to increase khushoo levels.

Want to be successful? Here’s how: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive (khaashi’oon)” [Surah Al-Mu’minun 23: 1-2]

In the above verses, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says those who have attained khushoo (khaashi’oon) are indeed successful. He doesn’t call them religious, He calls them successful. Notice the choice of words here?

When you manage to discipline your nafs, mind and heart in front of the Highest Power, it becomes easy to discipline yourself within the boundaries of Islam while dealing with worldly matters too, making you successful here and in the hereafter!

Know that you’ve experienced a small percentage of khushoo when:
· You can only hear the words which you are uttering to our Lord,
· When external noises are muted,
· When every single worry in your heart ceases to exist,
· When the beauty of Allah’s Mercy and the magnanimity of talking to Him subhaana wa ta'aala fills your heart with awe, so much so that you don’t want to complete your prayer and let the beautiful meeting end,
· When your limbs get soaked in numbness,
· When you feel sad that your meeting and one-on-one conversation with Allah subhaana wa ta'aala is coming to an end during the last rakat,
· And, when you cry (without feeling embarrassed that someone might see you), making you yearn for the next salah!

May Allah subhaana wa ta'aala make us of those who are successful. May Allah subhaana wa ta'aala make us of those who are the chosen ones in His eyes. May Allah subhaana wa ta'aala allow our hearts to taste the sweetness and beauty of this blessed religion. May Allah subhaana wa ta'aala make us of those who develop khushoo in every single prayer we are allowed to perform until our last breath! Ameen.

Please share your suggestions on attaining khushoo, in the comments section below, insha’Allah!

Reference: 1. Reported by Ahmad and al-Haakim, 1/229; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 997.

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

May 29, 2012

Kindness Towards Parents - Part 1

By M

Bismillah 

In this big bright beautiful and scary world, everyone needs someone to depend on, people to trust, to help us hold our heads above water when the ship sinks, to pull us aboard when we jump ship, to have a laugh with when we sit on deck, and with whom to have a heart to heart when we’re not sure how to steer the infuriating thing without the map. 

That’s why Allah gave us parents. They teach, they guide, they get annoyed with futility, but mostly - they love unconditionally. So it follows naturally that their interests and treatment are so highly regarded in this beautiful religion of good advice. 

Looking through the Book of Good Behaviour in the Bukhari hadith compilation, the first few Hadith pertain to kindness toward parents and the ties of kinship. It is fantastic to note that this is what the chapter begins with. 

So, what is kindness exactly? Let me offer a thesaurus’s rendition : goodwill, hospitality, understanding, charity, grace, humanity, affection, patience, tolerance, generosity, indulgence, tenderness, clemency, gentleness, philanthropy, compassion. 

It seems to be a word armed with powerful ammunition, its important focus further highlighted by the following hadith:


Narrated Al-Walid bin 'Aizar: I heard Abi Amr 'Ash-Shaibani saying, "The owner of this house." he pointed to 'Abdullah's house, "said: ‘I asked the Prophet (Allah’s blessing and peace be on him): “Which good deed is the dearest to Allah?” He replied: “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” I asked: “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I asked again: “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied: “To participate in Jihad (Holy War) in Allahs cause.” Abdullah added: “I asked only about that and if I had asked more, he (The Prophet) would have told me more.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book 73, No. 1]

Did anyone know that? I might have thought the second most beloved act to be one of the five pillars of Islam, or some form of great sacrifice, like fasting for a long period. (Of late that seems to be a sacrifice for me- given my great love of the food and all that.) It’s quite amazing that being kind to the two people who are most kind to us, an easy act to reciprocate, would be so highly rated on the good deed scale. Makes one think that Allah may be giving us an easy way to gain score. 

Look at the following ayahs, from surah Al- ‘Isra’ (The night Journey, chapter 17). Again a correlation where being kind and respectful to parents is rated second only to worshipping none but Allah – this being the prime key to faith. Note also that these two ayahs are mentioned quite frequently by scholars when teaching us about the importance of kindness towards parents. 

Surah Al ‘Isra’ verse 23 and 24 

Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt [not even ‘uff’], nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. 


And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small." 

The second verse also displays within it a supreme prayer, an action easy to perform yet regarded highly, invoking mercy equal to that mercy shown towards each one of us as a small, vulnerable, naive, and innocent child in need of great kindness. 

And for those who have lost parents, I would think reciting this prayer for them would be a huge gift to them. And for those who have been orphaned, or have never met their parents, I would think that asking Allah to show mercy to your parents as your mum bore you in suffering and as they hold love for you in their hearts placed there by Allah, wherever they may be, would be a beautiful means of maintaining a connection with them. Allah knows best. 

Now, given the current incidences of child abuse in its many forms, is it not fantastical that anyone of us had an inkling of love from one or both parents? I mean, exploring this subject has formed a realisation for me. The realisation being: where does this mercy come from? 

I look at my darling nephew who melts my heart with that look in his eyes, every time he asks me a question like, “do 15 year olds have all their permanel tooths (permanent teeth)?” after he lost his first tooth two weeks ago. Or my niece who screamed out in terror when the door began to close as she brushed her teeth before bed, the shrieks that made my heart cringe in deep pain. This love I feel. This tenderness. How can I have these feelings for knowing these small people for just 6 years and less, in a relationship from which I receive no emotional support, or tangible benefit? 

Not that I’m asking for this. But it almost stuns me to feel these profound emotions for these tiny sincere good souls, without feeling the human need to establish ‘rules of engagement’ as it were in adult interactions, or boundaries for that matter. 

Truth be told, I almost feel I derive more joy from these interactions. Maybe there is a much larger benefit I seem to receive than I am aware of. Than we all are. And I’m not the parent. I guess Allah places these beautiful recognitions of joy in us, as a mercy and blessing to those who are in positions of nurturing, so that there is mutualistic blessing for those who endeavour to develop these wondrous relationships. 

So what do the ayahs mean? (coming up in Part 2 inshaAllah)

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

May 28, 2012

Repentance - The Way Back (Part 3)

By Shiney

Bismillah

Fruits of Repentance-The Benefits of Taubah 

Okay, so we should repent…but what do we get from it? What are the merits? What are the benefits? Now that we have discussed the importance of taubah and how it is done, we move to the benefits of repentance in the last installment of this series. (Actually, the benefits of repentance are probably the exact things that we want so desperately.) Here are some benefits of repentance.
  • Allah subhaana wa ta’aala admits you into paradise - the more we repent, the greater our chance is to go to Jannah. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says,
    And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” (Ali Imran: 133)
  • Allah subhaana wa ta’aala wipes away your sins - in a Hadith Qudsi, Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says, “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (40 Hadith Qudsi: 34) 
  • Taubah increases our eeman. 
  • Allah subhaana wa ta’aala turns our evil deeds into good ones - Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says, “Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al Furqan: 70) 
  • Taubah helps us overpower the Shaitan - Shaitan says, “I’ve destroyed human beings through their sins but they have destroyed me through their repentance.” Shaitan also said, “As long as the bodies of the humans have souls in them, I will misguide them.” Allah subhaana wa ta’aala replied, “And as long as they seek forgiveness, I shall forgive them.” (related by Ahmad, Saheeh al-Jami' 2/32)
  • Taubah helps us become humble - when we feel a sense of broken-heartedness and do sincere taubah, it brings on humility and removes arrogance form our hearts because we realize what we are capable of (sinning) and what Allah subhaana wa ta’aala is capable of (Everlasting Mercy). When we remove from (break) our heart (from) ego, sin, arrogance, we get closer to Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. This concept of broken-heartedness is derived from the Hadith Qudsi (related by Muslim) in which Allah subhaana wa ta’aala mentions that He would be found with the sick person. This is because the sick person’s heart is broken. Another point is that when we recite the du’a of Adam (AS) found in Surah Al-A’raf,
    They said, "Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers." (Al Araf: 23)
    We are acknowledging our helplessness in front of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala and reminding ourselves of the power of His Mercy, which in turn, removes all arrogance from our hearts and induces humility in us. 
  • Taubah brings on the love of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala-As mentioned in ayah (Baqarah: 222), Allah subhaana wa ta’aala loves and is happy with the one who repents.
  • Along with Allah’s love, His assistance makes our life easier-in a Hadith Qudsi, Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says,
    "…My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and my servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love Him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him…” (40 Hadith Qudsi: 25 )
    The explanation of the things Allah subhaana wa ta’aala mentioned is as follows:
    Hearing - the person cannot tolerate cursing, gossip, music and other haram things that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala dislikes.
    Sight - the person only likes to see things which please Allah subhaana wa ta’aala and dislikes to see haram things.
    Hand - only does good (halal) deeds and does not like to sin.
    Foot - only goes to places that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala approves of and refrains from going near haram.
  • The angels make du’a for him - Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says,
    Those [angels] who carry the Throne and those around it exalt [ Allah ] with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed, [saying], "Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed Your way and protect them from the punishment of Hellfire.” (Ghafir: 7) 
Acceptance of Repentance - The Effects of Taubah (and Aftermath)

One question remains - how do we know if Allah subhaana wa ta’aala has accepted our repentance or not? Well, as the ayah 53 in Az-Zumar mentions, we are not to despair of the Mercy of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala but we have to be hopeful that He will forgive us because that is part of our trust in Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. This hope must not develop into a reassured guarantee that we are forgiven, though; we can only hope to be forgiven. Another way we can tell whether Allah subhaana wa ta’aala has forgiven us or not is by checking whether we are still doing the sin that we repented from. If we had repented sincerely from something, and if we stopped doing that sin, then it is a sign that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala has accepted our repentance. For example, after Ramadan or after Hajj, if a person repented, their life should have changed in a positive way. It is not necessary that this change comes about immediately but the main point is that the person should have stopped major sinning or at least have decreased it significantly. Another very important point is that after repenting, one must increase in their good deeds (like pray extra nafl or fast extra or be extra helpful to parents) because Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says in the Qur’an:

Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al Furqan: 70)

May Allah subhaana wa ta’aala forgive all of our sins, guide us to the Straight Path and accept from us our good deeds. Ameen.

Please leave your comments below! :)

May 27, 2012

Guest Post: How To Avoid Anxiety


By Dr. Hassan Shamsi Basha


Bismillah

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas: I was riding behind the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) one day and he said: “O boy, I shall teach you some words. Be mindful of Allaah and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Allaah and He will protect you. If you ask then ask of Allaah, and if you seek help then seek help from Allaah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you in some way, they would not benefit you except in something that Allaah has decreed for you, and if they were to gather together to harm you in some way, they would not harm you except in something that Allaah has decreed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2516).

Here are some ways to avoid anxiety.

1) The length of your life has already been decided upon, for everything takes place according to preordainment and decree. So there is no need to feel anxious in that regard.
2) The decision of how much sustenance any one of us receives is with Allah alone. No one else owns that sustenance or has power to take it from you.
3) The past is gone and has taken with its woes and miseries. It cannot return even if the whole of mankind worked as one unit to bring it back.
4) The future is from unseen world and has not yet arrived. It brings with it matter, showing no regard to your permission or feelings, so do not call it forth until it actually arrives.
5) Doing good to others bring happiness to both the heart and the soul. A good deed provides greater benefits to the benefactor in terms of blessings and recompense and peace, than it does to the receiver.
6) Among the noble qualities of the believer is that he doesn’t concern himself with spurious criticism. No one has been saved from curses and criticism, not even Allah, the Lord of all that exists, Who is Perfect and Exalted.

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

May 26, 2012

Guest Post: Moral Islamic Values Society Would Love!

By Lotifa Begum
Original Source


Bismillah

As a Muslim I have come to resolve that the moral values taught in Islam rival anything any man made law could teach, it really is a sorry state of affairs when we look at how society treats people and the moral principles seem to have decayed significantly as politicians lie scandalously, neighbours fight each other til the roof comes down, and well, marriages are soon becoming a thing of the past the road we are going down. Perhaps what has motivated me to share this post more recently is the sheer breakdown of any moral and social values in the riots we see today across the UK - deep scenes of disturbance and chaos in society.

Islam on the other hand is such a beautiful street to walk down, it is a complete and compassionate way of living and more than anything I believe it offers us the solution to many deep political turmoils we see in our day to day lives, both on our doorsteps and those we hear and see on the media. For this reason, I wanted to handpick 20 small acts taught in the Qur'an and prophetic teachings, because living in society is really an art of learning to interact with others, and Islam provides the foundations for the best interaction and relationships to be forged as the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to perfect our character and moral conduct, really in essence the following actions if implemented in society would foster those lasting social community unity we so often complain we don't have. It is suffice to say that when one submits to Islam, they automatically choose to be an positive member of their society spreading goodness- and who wouldn't love to live in a society where people have these moral obligations to live by?

1. Telling the truth It comes as a core principle that trust in individuals is built upon through telling the truth, you trust someone because they always tell the truth. For many Muslims, the most trustworthy character to learn from is the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon) him, a man who even his enemies could trust because of his truthfulness! This goes to show the importance of being individuals who tell the truth, if we had embedded this teaching into individuals lying would be seen as deviance in society. Telling the truth also ties into the fundamentals of faith for Muslims, therefore Muslims are to be truthful at all times.

2. Being kind to your neighbour Though many of us may be guilty of having spoken badly of our neighbours, Islam encourages us to treat our neighbours with great kindness and to stay away from speaking ill of them. Imagine how many fights implementing this wisdom would save us! The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said what means:
"Whoever believes in Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) and the Last Day, let him not harm or annoy his neighbour". [Bukhari]

3. Taking responsibility for your own actions Many times in the Quran we are reminded that every individual will have to account for their own deeds. It is then with the knowledge of this transcendent being to Whom we are accountable, a Muslim lives their life. As mentioned by the Creator: "Whosoever does a good deed, it is for his own self, and whosoever does evil, it is against (his own self). Then to your Lord you will be made to return..." (Quran 45:15)

4. Don't backbite or slander This is an issue widespread in our communities and generally the root of many issues between interaction of individuals, yet as Allah reminds us: "O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are a sin. Do not spy on one another, nor backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it, [so similarly, avoid backbiting]. And fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Quran 49:12]

5. Honouring women Although we often read Muslim women are oppressed, it is contrary to the principles of gender equality that Islam is based upon. We have seen in many examples of the past, Muslim women were given the opportunity to excel in many fields from poetry to issuing legal rulings. Often we find that the Muslim woman's pivotal role is that of being the queen of her household, to which Islam elevates and raises her ranks as she is essentially shaping the future generation of her society. As taught by the Prophet Muhammad, women ought to be treated with honour, equality, respect as opposed to inferiority; therefore he (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us: "The most perfect of believers in belief is the best of them in character. The best of you are those who are the best to their women." [Tirmidhi]

6. Good treatment of parents I don't need to delve into this too much, but the rates at which parents are being left to nursing homes is a sad sign; though as is quite clear the good treatment of parents is like the training ground for interaction with other members or authorities beyond the home. Islam places huge emphasis on the role of parents and rewards the children who treat their parents with kindness, the best of reward being they ultimately attain Paradise - as mentioned in the Quranic verse: “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” (Quran 17:23)

7. Leave what does not concern you Many of us have poked our nose in where it's not wanted and at times that's led us to deep trouble, strained relations and even broken relationships where we've been told (perhaps with great anger!) to 'mind our own business!' Islam teaches that one should encourage good in others and therefore positive thoughts about others are important, and we should not busy ourselves with things that do not really concern us. As the hadith mentions: 'A sign of one's excellence in his Islam, is ignoring what does not concern him.'
[Ahmad and Tirmidhi]

8. Being thankful One of the first manners we are taught as young children is to say 'please' and 'thank you' out of appreciation and gratitude, it comes as no wonder then that this simple etiquette is a crucial charateristic that we must develop in our character. Whilst the directed gratitude for many Muslims is to their Creator for all His Bounties and Favours on them, our Creator also reminds us that we should not forget to thank the people whom kindness has been recieved from as failing to show gratitude would be ingratitude to Him. Out of courtesy and respect we often thank each other, yet in Islam there are many benefits including that one's blessings are increased should they be thankful for their gifts from Allah.

I hope the above introduction to this series on moral values society would love has given you insight into how the teachings of Islam are truly applicable in our day to day lives and treatment of others as social beings..

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

May 25, 2012

30 Reasons For Being Grateful To Allah

By Arty


Bismillah 


“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah , you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” (Surah Ibrahim 14:34) 

As Allah subhaana wa ta’aala clearly tells us in the above ayah, we will never be able to count His blessings and list all the reasons for which we ought to be grateful. We are not even aware of all the favors bestowed on us, how then, can we even count them? Thus, this is a disclaimer. It is impossible for us to limit the reasons we have to be grateful to Allah. Yet, to acknowledge the blessings of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala upon us is a must if we want to live the life of grateful servants.

One way to show our gratitude is by making a list of all the things we are grateful for. To start off the list, here are thirty reasons for which we must be grateful to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala:

1. Islam
If we have Islam, we have everything. Without Islam in our lives, we have nothing. The blessing of having been guided to Islam is definitely one of the top reasons for being grateful to Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. When we recognize that Islam is the reason why we are created, that it’s our submission to the Almighty, our way of life, then we can live a life of submission to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and pray to die upon Islam and be granted Heaven as a result, inshaAllah.

2. The gift of life As long as we are alive, we have a chance to make amends, we can seek forgiveness and change our ways in order to be saved from the hellfire. Once we die, the door of repentance closes for good. Life is a gift in a sense that it allows us to erase our evil deeds through repentance and changes. Life is a gift from the Almighty to us, it’s a glimpse of what hellfire could be like and what heaven could be like. We, therefore, need to cherish every moment of it and make sure that it’s a life that will count for us and not against us in the hereafter, inshaAllah.

3. Health When we get sick, everything ceases to matter, and all we want at that moment is to feel better. Without good health everything else becomes secondary.

4. Family (blood ties)
Allah subhaana wa ta’aala chose our families for us, we had no say in it. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala has also put mercy between people sharing blood ties. The comfort and love a family gives you is priceless, and whoever grows up without a family feels a void that is very difficult to fill. Thus, we thank Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and are grateful for blessing us with blood ties.

5. Family (deen ties) This family, we chose by embracing Islam and sharing the statement ‘Lailahailallah, Muhammadur Rasulullah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.’

6. The guidance of Qur’an Qur’an is the criterion. It helps us decide between right and wrong, it guides us through life, like a compass directing us to the only path leading to salvation in this life and the hereafter.

7. The healing and protection of Qur’an Qur’an is healing, Allah (subhaana wa ta’aala) tells us so in the following passage.
And We send down of the Qur'an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss. (Surah Al Isra, 17:82) 

8. The Sunna of prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam is the perfect example of the implementation of the Qur’an in this world. Through his traditions and examples, we are able to implement the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and stay away from His prohibitions. Without the Sunna, we would have been  lost and unable to determine if what we’re doing is pleasing to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, or not. The sunna saves us from this predicament.

9. The love of prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam for his Ummah
“For every prophet there is one (special invocation (that will not be rejected) with which he appeals to Allah, and I want to keep such an invocation for interceding for my followers in the Hereafter.” (1)
We are grateful that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala chose such a compassionate man as our last messenger, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

10. Having shelter Having a roof over our head, a home to go to in order to unwind, rest, and maintain our privacy is a tremendous blessing. Whenever I see a homeless person sleeping under a bridge, on a bench, or under a tree, I realize even more the fact that I am really blessed to have a place to call a home.

11. Living in a war free zone
We are grateful for not living in constant fear that the next minute, we might die under bullets, bombs, and other weapons.

12. Having sustenance
Last year one of the worst droughts hit Somalia. I saw footage of mothers walking miles and miles to get water and food for their children. Many ended up dying on the way. Families were wiped away by terrible hunger and thirst. May Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala preserve us and our families from such difficult trials. We are grateful for our daily sustenance.

13. Allah’s Mercy exceeding His Wrath “When Allah decreed the creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: ‘My mercy prevails over my wrath’” (2)

14. The gift of repentance Allah Subhannah wa ta’aala has left the door of repentance open for us for as long as we are alive. When we sincerely repent, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promises us in the Qur’an that all our previous sins are changed into good deeds. SubhannAllah! What a gift repentance is. We are grateful.

15. Witnessing answered supplications A child made dua all her life for her parents to remarry each other. She was five when they divorced. She recently witnessed the niqah of her parents thirty years later. When we see our duas answered, when we feel that our prayers are being heard, we feel even more grateful towards the Almighty.

16. The Night of Decree
“And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree?” 

“The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.” (Surah Qadr 97:2-3) 
Allah subhaana wa ta’aala blesses us with one night every year that is worth more than 83 years. Thus, if we worship that night, it will be as if we worshipped for more than 83 years. SubhannAllah! How can we not be grateful when every year we get to witness such a night? A night in which we have the possibility to have all our sins forgiven. May Allah subhaana wa ta’aala let us witness yet another night of decree. Ameen.

17. The month of Ramadan In this month, Muslims get a chance to renew their faith, increase their good deeds, fast, and seek forgiveness for all of their previous sins. Every time Muslims make it to another Ramadan, their heart is filled with gratitude. Ramadan is such a special month in the life of a Muslim. Alhamdulillah!

18. Hajj and Umrah Yet another opportunity for a Muslim to see his or her past sins forgiven.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Umrah is an expiation for the time between it and the previous Umrah, and an accepted Hajj has no less a reward than Paradise.” (7)

19. The blessings and rewards behind a calamity No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but Allah expiates some of his sins for that. (3)

20. The Salah Salah (prayer) is our direct connection to Allah Subhannahu wa ta’aala. When we prostrate to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and put our forehead at the lowest level possible (i.e. the ground), we find comfort, healing, and peace. This is the position in which we are closest to our Creator.

21. Being a Muslim woman and its rewards Be it as a mother or as a daughter, a Muslim woman can be a key to Jannah. (4)
The best of men are only the best if they are able to treat a Muslim woman the best. (5) Alhamdulillah!

22. Scholars and righteous people People of knowledge are similar to guiding lights; they show us the path in the darkness of ignorance and help us stay on the right path. Alhamdulillah.

23. The descent of Allah to the lowest heaven every night Abu Hurairah radiAllahu ahnu narrated that Allah’s Messenger, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: 'In the last third of every night our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) (Allah Subhannahu wa ta’aala) descends to the lowermost heaven and says; "Who is calling Me, so that I may answer him? Who is asking Me so that may I grant him? Who is seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?'” (6)

24. The covering of faults One of the attributes of Allah Subhannahu wa ta’aala is Al Ghafur, the Forgiver and Hider of Faults. To have your faults and shame hidden, covered up, is indeed one of the greatest blessing one can be grateful for.

25. Inner Peace found in faith Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured." (Surah Ar-rad 13:28)

26. Nature Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby fruits of varying colors? And in the mountains are tracts, white and red of varying shades and [some] extremely black. (Surah Fatir, 35:27)
Without rain, there will be no life on this earth. Our very existence depends on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sending down rain to us. When the rain stops, plants, animals, and humans just perish as we witnessed last year in Somalia.

27. The pleasures of this life Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.
(Surah Ali Imran, 3:14)

28. The reward for being grateful And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.' "
(Surah Ibrahim, 14:7)

29. The fact that intentions outweigh actions The Prophet Muhamamad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “The reward of deeds depend upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” (8)
The beauty of Islam is the fact that we will be judged upon our intentions. As long as we intend good, we will be rewarded for good.

30. Heaven We [angels] were your allies in worldly life and [are so] in the Hereafter. And you will have therein whatever your souls desire, and you will have therein whatever you request [or wish] (Surah Fussilat (41:31)

SubhannAllah! Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny? What else could be better than Jannah as a reward for which we are eternally grateful? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us Jannah. Ameen.

We will never be able to count His blessings upon us. Thus, all we can do is praise Him and thank Him for all blessings, those we are aware of and those we are not aware of.

Having said that, what are some of your top reasons for which you are grateful to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)? Please do share with us, insha’Allah.

(1) Sahih Bukhari,
(2) Sahih Bukhari, Hadith Qudsi#1
(3) Sahih Bukhari,
(4) Ahmad, Nasai/Bukhari 4:78
(5) Muslim #3466
(6) Sahih Bukhari, Hadith Qudsi
(7) Bukhari #1683, Muslim 1349
(8) Bukhari'Umar bin Al-Khattab, Vol. 8, Book 78, Number 680

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

May 24, 2012

Natural Energy Boosters



Bismillah 


With so many things going on in life, sometimes our energy levels are lacking. There are many simple things we can do that can boost our energy. Here are ways to you energized.

1. A good night’s sleep. How obvious is this? It is believed that sleeping from the hours of 10:00 pm to 2:00 am is better than sleeping a whole 8 hours. It is amazing how energized you will feel if you change your sleep habits.

2. Exercise. It doesn’t have to be intense workout, a simple walk or yoga can do the trick. All you need is a little movement to improve blood circulation.

3. Good diet. Skipping meals is the worst thing you can do for your body. It makes you feel weak and tired. This why some believe you should have three main meals a day plus an additional two snacks a day.

4. Naps. It took me awhile to become a believer but my husband has been implementing this for years. When he gets exhausted all he does is take a 15 minute nap and he is energized. I can’t fall asleep in that time but even just laying there relaxing does the trick for me.

5. Water. Avoid the sugary drinks replace them with water. Just adding more water and cutting out the unnecessary sugars makes such a huge difference in the energy.

6. Coffee. Coffee is great for blood circulation and also gives you energy. It is believed that one cup a day is actually beneficial because of the antioxidants.

7. Dark chocolate. A small piece of chocolate is suggested to help with your heart. Also it is suggested that it lowers cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. Seems like a win-win for such a yummy treat.

8. Green tea. I am one of many people who are caffeine sensitive. I started replacing regular tea with green tea and was amazed at the energy I felt. Other perks is that it is associated with preventing cancer, stroke and diabetes.

9. Cayenne. Adding cayenne to your food also improves your circulatory system and strengthens your heart. If you don’t know how to add it to your diet try it with the dark chocolate. I have heard many chefs swear by the combination of chocolate and cayenne being a tasty treat.

10. Eat breakfast. Another suggestion that took me a long to follow. I always had a problem with how quickly I got hungry after breakfast. But when I think about it just helps you stay on a regular eating schedule, which keeps your energy levels up.

11. Vitamins. If you are lacking in any area of vitamins usually your energy will suffer. I, like many people have a iron deficiency. Amazingly, taking a vitamin can fix this problem.

12. Honey. It acts as a remedy helps you feel better which of course boosts your energy. A little Islamic food for thought:

'Honey is a remedy for every illness and the Qur'an is a remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Qur'an and honey.' (Bukhari) 

Inshallah these suggestions will send you in the right direction to living an energized life.

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

May 23, 2012

Physical violence in Marriages and how to deal with it - PART 1

By Farheen Naaz

Bismillah

When we read or hear the words domestic abuse, we often consider it as a thing which does not exist in today’s world and even if it does exist, muslims tend to believe that it has nothing to do with our ummah. It is high time we stopped living in denial and realize that our ummah and the world is being plagued by the problem of domestic violence. In no way is this to be brushed aside or considered a taboo subject anymore! It’s It is time to speak up and speak out against domestic violence.

It is surprising to see that people do not consider domestic violence as a problem. It has not been given the adequate attention that is necessary.which is due to it since long. First and foremost, we need to accept the reality of its existence and then devise ways to tackle it on a large scale. We seldom get to hear traumatic stories of survivors or people being oppressed because of this act, as it is considered stigmatic to even speak about it in the open. We need to make our sisters and brothers aware of this problem and deal with it right on!

According to the American Medical Association, ‘‘Domestic violence is an ongoing, debilitating experience of physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuse in the home.’’

Physical violence is very much a part and parcel of domestic abuse. Physical abuse includes pushing, shoving, choking, slapping, punching, kicking, and beating, assault with a weapon, tying up, refusing to help her when she is sick or injured, physically throwing her out of the house, throwing things at her etc. It escalates in frequency and severity as time ticksgoes by. It impairs the victim’s physical integrity and often entails in psychological consequences.

Domestic violence is often a cycle which continues; child sees father being an abuser towards his mother or him, grows up in that environment and accepts it as a part of life, then the adult in him provokes him to use the same methods of violence towards his family members. The trend is alarming and increasing, much to everyone’s disappointment. It often catches the victim unawares the first time it is experienced and can often be seen as a one-time act which may have been triggered by anger. If the act continues however, it’s definitely time to get help, for yourself and the violator!

Marriages turn sour for only the women folk when it comes to physical violence as a woman is considered to be physically weaker compared to her man and may not be able to tackle or revert back to the severity of the physical abuse. It takes a lot to stand up for yourself, but it is the right thing to do and totally worth it; your life, your body, your soul, your everything belongs to no one but Allah, hence, no one has the right to abuse you or cause harm to what is given to you by Allah Himself.

Muslim men tend to misquote and miscontextualize one particular verse of the Quran which is as follows:

‘‘Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear nushooz - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.’’
(Surah An-Nisā' 4 : 34)

This verse charges men with the task of financially and physically protecting and caring for their wives and families, since Allah has made men physically stronger than women., which is the interpretation of most scholars. Women, in return for that care, should be careful in guarding their fidelity and morality at all times when no one can see them, in obedience to Allah. Instructions are then given regarding women who rebelliously ignore Allah's commands about sexual fidelity and become sexually disloyal to their husbands.

The husband is instructed first to admonish his wife (talk to her), and then to refuse to share her bed. Should those measures fail, the last instruction is often translated as "hit her," (or "lightly tap her," when the sunnah of the Prophet is considered). Some translators assert that it is incorrect to translate the word as "hit" at all, based on the Prophet's lifelong abhorrence of hitting women, seen in his statement, "Never hit the handmaids of Allah" (found in the hadith collections of Abu Daud, Nasa'l, Ibn Hibban, and Bayhaqi), and in his instructions in his last sermon where he restrict striking to a light tap (ghayr muharrib - without causing pain) only if the wife has become guilty of nushooz, obvious immoral conduct. The term nushooz is applicable to men as well.

This verse has been highly misunderstood and men as well as women often consider men as the ones in charge of their daily affairs and the men keep tabs on their woman’s life like a surveillance camera. Women often have to seek the husband’s permission to go anywhere, be it the grocery store or a place of gaining knowledge. The misinterpretation of this verse makes it a possible tool for control, violence and abuse. Such attitude is not taught by Islam.

Truth be told, many people misunderstand that this verse gives them the freedom to punish their wives physically, but seldom do they realize that the punishment is mainly for nushooz which is translated by scholars as immoral sexual conduct or immoral conduct related to Allah’s commands, both of which mean disobeying Allah and not His creation.!

Now that we have learnt the reality of our world and the truth about the misquoted and miscontextualized verse, let us deal with the problems of dealing with physical abuse in marriages in Part 2 of this article. As you finish reading this, I would like you all to pray for the strength of people who suffer silently in the name of domestic abuse. May Allah give them the strength to stand up for themselves. Please leave your thoughts and suggestions on dealing with this disease and how we can eradicate it.

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

May 22, 2012

The Evils of Adultery


Bismillah  

She stared in disbelief at the positive test. A baby, after all these years of being told she would never be a mother, she thought. How wonderful, how tragic. She knew the test would be the most she would ever experience of her baby. It was hers, but it was not her husband's. For a few moments of lust with someone she didn't even love, she had ruined everything.

Adultery is defined as engaging in sexual relations outside the confines of marriage. Whilst used interchangeably with fornication, adultery refers to a married person seeking sexual relations outside of marriage, whilst fornication refers to a non-married person doing the same. The effects of both are similar; however adultery is far more serious and has far reaching effects. These effects can be described in a nutshell as destroying several things, including one’s iman, marriage, health, and very afterlife.
  
In all three major faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, adultery is forbidden and condemned, and it is almost universally accepted that "cheating" on your spouse is wrong. As Muslims, we know it is wrong, not because our instincts or society tell us so, but because Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has made it so.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Sahih International 17:32) 
As Muslims, we firmly believe that every law given to us by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has a hikmah (wisdom) behind it, even if that hikmah is not immediately made apparent. We know that hijab encourages modesty, and that theft infringes on the property rights of others, but what of the evils of adultery? The Quran and the Sunnah encourage only what is beneficial on an individual, communal, and worldwide level, and also forbid that which is detrimental on these levels. Nevertheless, adultery is not “made legal”, but in most places, it is not punishable by law! Whilst a man who openly admits to having two legal wives can face prosecution for bigamy, a man with even 50 secret girlfriends faces no such trouble! Values have been distorted, or discarded altogether, in the name of freedom.

In our deen, the marriage contract is one of the most sacred contracts one enters into. Through marriage, rights and responsibilities are to be fulfilled, families are joined, babies are made, and half the deen is completed. A man and woman who were previously forbidden to even gaze at each other, are now given full permission to enjoy each other as husband and wife, through the word of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

Allah's Apostle said, "From among all the conditions which you have to fulfill, the conditions which make it legal for you to have sexual relations (i.e. the marriage contract) have the greatest right to be fulfilled." Hadith - Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 50, Number 882. Narrated Uqba bin Amir

Marriage is not just agreeing to be man and wife. It also means that any other person is excluded from their union. They cannot have a romantic relationship with anybody else (except polygyny, which in Islam is not an illicit relationship). When a married person seeks a sexual relationship outside the bounds of marriage, they have in effect dishonoured the marriage contract, defiantly disobeying Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His Messenger (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa salam).

Understandably, when one has been betrayed by their spouse, they may seek a divorce. They are at liberty to do so, as the marriage contract has been breached. If children are involved, divorce becomes particularly devastating, especially if the children become aware of their parents' indiscretions. Divorce is traumatising enough for a young heart, let alone the knowledge that one of their parents deliberately dishonoured the marriage contract. Is a broken home worth a cheap fling? Even if a spouse decides to forgive, they can never forget, and the love they once shared may never recover from the harsh blow of infidelity. In any case, the marriage suffers, the betrayed partner suffers, and the children suffer.

Inside a marriage, a new baby is a blessing and a new Muslim is a boost to the ranks of the Ummah. However, if it should occur that a woman involved on either side of an adulterous relationship (a cheating wife, or a mistress) became pregnant, it can result in either an abortion, which destroys the life of a child, or the birth of an illegitimate child, whose paternity is doubtful. These innocent children, if fortunate enough not to suffer death by abortion, are unfortunately left with the (undeserved) stigma of being an illegitimate child. Paternity may never be established, child support may never be paid, and siblings may never know of the existence of each other. There have been recent cases of children conceived from affairs, who became lovers as adults, only to discover their true, and very much shared paternity, sometime near the wedding! We seek refuge in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) from such disturbing happenings. They are rare, but they happen, and illicit relations are usually involved. Is it any wonder Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has forbidden such immorality for His slaves?

Along with abortion, adultery is simply bad for the health. A cheating spouse is putting their spouse directly at risk with their actions. They are putting their husband or wife at risk of contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and incurable diseases such as genital herpes and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The impact of these diseases last far longer than the emotional destruction wrought by a disloyal spouse. To illustrate this, herpes is a recurring, incurable infection that results in pus-filled warts spreading over the genitalia, and it currently has no permanent cure. HIV is a life threatening illness that causes AIDS, which, like genital herpes, has no cure. According to 2011 estimates from UNAIDS, WHO, and UNICEF, around 30.6 million adults and 3.4 million children were living with AIDS at the end of 2010 (UNAIDS (2010) 'UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic' ). Islam is not about cures, it is about prevention. Had His slaves obeyed the rules, such diseases would not be as rampant as they are today.

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “If ever immorality spreads in a community and there is no sense of shame on its occurrence or mentioning it (and people talk about it as if nothing bad has taken place), diseases which were not present in the time of their predecessors will spread among them.” [Ibn Majah, Al-Bazzar, Al-Bayhaqi]

To understand the severity of the crime of adultery in Islam, it can be paired with its prescribed punishment. The punishment for a "convicted" adulterer under the law in an Islamic state, is stoning to death, an extremely harsh punishment, if there ever was one. However, stoning is not the most terrible thing that can happen to an adulterer. Imagine the following scene in your mind, a scene which RasulAllah (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa salaam) saw. This is not a scene from a horror movie, this is a reality which will comes to pass!

The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “…We proceeded until we came across a hole in the ground that resembled a baking pit, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. Babbling and voices were issuing from it. We looked in and saw naked men and women. Underneath the pit was a raging fire; whenever it flared up, the men and women screamed and rose with it until they almost fell out of the pit. As it subsided, they returned (to the bottom). I said: ‘Who are these?’ They said: ‘…As for the naked men and women who were in the pit, they are men and women who indulge in zina…” (Saheeh Bukhari)

In a similar narration Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) said: “We moved on until I saw people who were awfully swollen, and had the most foul stench, their stench was like that of the sewers. I asked: ‘Who are these?’ They replied: ‘Those are the male and female adulterers.’” (Ibn Khuzaymah & Ibn Hibbaan – authentic according to Albaani)

There is no doubt that adultery has serious physical effects on the body, and devastating social impacts. Does adultery have effects that can't be seen, or translated to statistics? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Adultery kills the iman. The most precious gift Allah, al-Kareem (the Generous), has given us, is banished from the body during these illicit moments of haram passion.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah sal Allahu 'alayhi wa salam said, “The adulterer is not a believer while he is committing adultery; and the thief is not a believer while he is stealing. However, there is a chance for repentance.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Book 38, Number 2625, Grade: Sahih]

Allah, al-Wadud (the Loving), wants the best for us. He wants us to be safe, healthy, and happy. Adultery doesn't lead to anything positive, and, in fact, is one of the most destructive sins, causing evil on every level of society. It leads to broken homes, the spread of STIs, abortion, emotional trauma, severe punishment in this world and the next, and, worst of all, it leads to the displeasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), and His wrath. There is no place for adultery in the life of a believer, no matter how high the emotions are. Is a few square inches of ­­­­­­­­­­­flesh worth throwing away Jannah?

If one has been, or currently is, involved i­­­­­­­n an adulterous affair, they are encouraged to seek forgiveness, and repent sincerely, to abandon their evil. The adulterer/adulteress should turn back to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), before they are returned back to Him, for there is no evil deed that can overpower the vastness of the mercy of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

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." (Sahih International, 39:53)

Take marriage seriously - it is half our deen; it is a sacred contract; it is the Sunnah of RasulUllah (Sal Allahu alayhi wa Salam). Be faithful, just as you hope others will be faithful to you. Cherish your iman, and don't let it escape your heart for even a moment. Protect your chastity and hope for Jannah, where all desires will be fulfilled, inshaAllah.

Narrated Sahl bin Sad : Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him." (Hadith - Sahih Bukhari 8.481)

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

May 21, 2012

Repentance - The Way Back (Part 2)

By Shiney

Bismillah

In the second installment to this series we shall look into how repentance is done and its importance.

Now that we know we must repent, how do we do it? It’s actually very simple; in order to do taubah, there are 3 essential conditions that must be fulfilled. These are:

1) Guilt- We must have guilt in our heart and believe that what we did was truly wrong and our guilt should be so strong that it bothers us and takes away the peace of our hearts. We should be completely heartbroken; we have to break from our hearts (from) ego, sin, arrogance, etc. Doing so brings us closer to Allah subhaana wa ta’aala.

2) Sincerity- We have to ask Allah subhaana wa ta’aala to forgive us in the most humble and sincere way as possible for whatever we did (whether we are repenting for a particular sin or in general). Sincerity is a must-we must be repenting only because we feel guilt for displeasing Allah subhaana wa ta’aala and we fear His punishment. For example, if someone repents for drinking alcohol just because he is afraid for his health and he wants to leave his addiction, then that is not sincerity, and if someone is repenting to show off what a pious person he is, then that is, quite obviously, not sincerity either.

3) Having a sincere intention not to repeat the sin- We cannot be repenting if we know that we are going to go back to that sin sometime in the future again. Of course, we can’t predict the future and mistakes are unavoidable but our will to change should be so strong that we keep away from situations that made us sin in the first place.

Another thing to mention is that mere taubah of the tongue is not enough-we have to mean what we say (it) in our hearts and we should strive to change our ways to the better (ones). In order to make repenting easier, there are four steps to follow which can be (are) called the 4 R’s of Repentance:
  • Remorse 
  • Resolve not to repeat the sin 
  • Remove oneself from the situation which caused us to sin 
  • Redress any wrongs 
To make taubah (complete) spiritually and physically, there is another guideline called the Taubah Triangle, which consists of three main things:

1) Knowledge- We should have the knowledge of why we are repenting, what we will get if we repent (merits) and what the main goal of our repentance is
2) Emotion- We should feel stinging remorse/guilt for sinning to the extent of feeling a sense of broken-heartedness because remorse itself is a major part of taubah. We must be sincere and resolve never to repeat that sin again.
3) Action- We have to remove ourselves from (the) situations that cause us to sin as soon as possible, change our environment and our companions, and make amends by following up our bad deeds with good ones. (Note:) Sins like backbiting can only be forgiven by asking forgiveness from the person that you wronged so be sure to ask them to forgive you as well. If the person is not around anymore, then say good things about them (the complete opposite of what you said earlier) in the same gatherings that you had backbitten them in. This is what it means to “redress any wrongs.”

A very important thing that we learn from the Sunnah on (is) the etiquettes of taubah, (which) is to make wudu’, pray 2 rak’ahs Nafl for repentance and then make sincere du’a to Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. A person must have hope that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala will forgive him because He has the Power and Will to do so. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says,
"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." (Az-Zumar: 53)

The Dangers of Avoiding Repentance
  • If someone does not repent, then they are considered a dhalim (wrong-doer) and are thus distancing themselves from Allah’s Guidance as Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says,
    …And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.” (Al-Jumuah: 5)
  • We might be prone to Allah’s punishment because Allah subhaana wa ta’aala warns us in the Qur’an:
    "And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” (Az-Zumar: 54)
  • The number one reason that we must repent as soon as possible is that we don’t know when the Angel of Death will come to take our soul. We certainly don’t want to die in a state of sin, when Allah subhaana wa ta’aala is displeased with us. We want to return to Allah subhaana wa ta’aala in a pure state, free of sins, while He is pleased with us so we need to hurry to repentance NOW, before it is too late! 
Shaddad bin Aus (R) said: The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, "The best supplication for seeking forgiveness (Sayyidd-ul-Istighfar) is to say: “Allahumma Anta Rabbi, la ilaha illa Anta, khalaqtani wa ana `abduka, wa ana `ala `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu, a`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu, abu'u laka bini`matika `alayya, wa abu'u bidhanbi faghfir li, fa innahu la yaghfirudh-dhunuba illa Anta.” (O Allah! You are my Rabb. There is no true god except You. You have created me, and I am Your slave, and I hold to Your Covenant as far as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favours that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon).' He who supplicates in these terms during the day with firm belief in it and dies on the same day (before the evening), he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah; and if anyone supplicates in these terms during the night with firm belief in it and dies before the morning, he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah.'' (Al-Bukhar: Book 80, Hadith 6379 i).

Part 3 is coming up insha Allah. In the mean time, I would love to hear your views on this part. Please leave your comments below! :)

May 20, 2012

Avoiding excessive, reward, encouragement and praise.

By Khafayah


Bismillah

I know measuring the appropriate reward can be difficult at times. I struggle with this too. It’s best to focus less on material possessions, especially when we are reminded of Allah’s saying: (Q 5:87) O ye who believe! Forbid not the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, and transgress not, Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors”

Parents we must be careful not to praise or reward kids often. The kid will begin to manipulate the situation. The Prophet salAllahu aleyhi wasallam reminds us about this in a hadith when he heard a man praising another, “you have destroyed or cut the back of the man” (Bukhari, 8:86)

When Praise is general it’s more detrimental to the kid than beneficial, as they are not particularly sure what they are being rewarded for. They will get bored after a while. The reward system eventually becomes a repetitive meaningless routine. Too much praise and reward creates a dependent kid rather than an independent one.

Little Taslimah and her sister Hamidah, always get a sticker when they pray with mom. When Jasmine came over to babysit, they refused to pray unless they were to be given stickers. The danger here is the association of stickers with Salah, which is very wrong. For Salah, it might be more appropriate to use reward charts and words of praise and encouragement, reminding the kids that their ultimate reward is with Allah.

My reward tool is about connecting the kid to Allah. I would say “Who wants a reward from Allah?” They know Allah gives a minimum of 10 rewards for a good deed. Once I say that, there is a rush to complete the activity. If one feels sad because they did not make it. I remind them that so far there was genuine intention to do it. Allah will still reward them, and my kid will feel much better.

The Prophet salAllahu aleyhi wasallam  did not shower his kids or wives with gifts; he connected them to the rewards awaiting them in the hereafter. Having a parent’s approval is better than material rewards. We must be careful as parents not to spoil our kids; otherwise they will grow into spoilt arrogant adults. A Shaykh of mine use to tell his three year old daughter that, if she is naughty she will not get to read the Qur’an. This really upset her and made her cry, the point here, is that he has connected good behaviour to reading the Qur’an – a profound way to embed the love of the Qur’an – it works well with the little ones.

As I always say, “no one knows your kid better than you do”. Reward positive behaviour through praise, reward charts, attention and special treats that are specific to your kid. The greatest reward of all we can give to our kids is indeed our PRESENCE as parents. That is what makes the best present for our kids. Is this easy to achieve? No!, By putting our trust in Allah, He WILL make the great task of parenting, rewarding for us all in this world and the hereafter!

May Allah bless all Moms and elevate them to the highest station in Jannah Firdaws, where they will be crowned for their endless efforts in this world! Keep up the excellent work!

“Mom we do not want to go to Orlando, can we just by Ice-cream and ride our bikes with you in the park? we will be good we promise” Don’t you just love them? Obviously my presence meant more to them than a package holiday!

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

May 18, 2012

Gift of Honor

By Bint Farouk


Bismillah

One day a muslim woman was passing through the market of the Banu Qaynuqah (a Jewish tribe).Some Kufaar men wanted her to uncover her face, however she refused. A man amongst them decided to play a hurtful trick on her. He tied her lower garment to her headpiece so that her body becomes exposed when she moves. The moment she got up, her body was exposed for all to see. She let out a scream due to shock and embarrassment. The men around her laughed and mocked at this pitiable sight. A Muslim man saw this and he was over taken with such strong gheerah ( strong sense of honour) for this woman, so much so that he went to the perpetrator and killed him. In retaliation, another kaafir man killed the muslim brother. The news of this incident reached Nabi Muhammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ . Immediately Nabi Muhammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ gathered an entire ARMY to take revenge upon what happened to the innocent Muslimah and the Muslim man.

This was the degree of honour a Muslimah held in the eyes of her fellow brothers. Men would not even approach her because of the honor and respect they had for her. And any type of dishonour she encountered would cause heads to roll and that being literally. She was loved and respected. Not because of her beauty, not because of the "position" she carried in the "man's world", not because she was wealthy, young, and had many degrees. No!.... She was loved and respected because this was and still is her due. She is honoured because Islam gives her this honour.

Indeed, it was Islam who raised her status as a daughter. She opens the door of Jannah for her father.

It was Islam who raised her status as a wife; just by pleasing her husband she is guaranteed a place in Jannah. Islam honours her as a mother, because beneath her feet Jannah lies. She is so honoured that her Creator dedicates an entire Surah in her name-" Surah Nisaa, The Women". The following ahadith illustrates to us the magnitude of honour she possesses as a mother.

A man came to Nabi Muhammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?' The Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?' The Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?' The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Islam came to liberate her from the bondage of men. Islam crushed the idea of the Ancient Greek philosophers that women had no soul. Islam tells us that yes, she has a mind and a soul. That yes, she may inherit. That yes, she has rights in marriage. That yes, men and women are equal in the sight of God. But their roles differ. As the Hadith tells us: Abdullah ibn Umar (May اَللَّه be Pleased with Him) reported that He heard Nabi Muhammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ saying:

“Every one of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody.
The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them;
a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it;
a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it,
and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it.
A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care).” 
(Bukhari 3/592).

Yet again Our Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ gives us women a very important role. We are responsible for our husbands home and everything in it, including the upbringing of our children. Men are responsible for livelihood, for going out there and seeking sustenance for the family. For looking after the needs of the family. A Woman's responsibility is more spiritual. She has to bring up her children in the best Islamic way possible. She is responsible for inculcating Islamic morals and values in her children. It is on her lap that the first Madrassah shall begin. The first "Institute" of Islamic fostering begins with her and if she "moulds" her child correctly, she will produce a whole generation of upright people.

Islam tells us that unlike men, her jihaad is more "personal"

Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said in a hadith "Take care of the home. That is your Jihad" (Musnad Ahmad) Hadith 2357.

According to another hadith, during pregnancy and nursing the believing mother is like a soldier on active duty. If she dies, she gets the reward of a martyr. And what is the reward of a martyr?....before his blood touches the ground all his sins are forgiven. The martyr will even get the honour of interceding for 70 people on the day of Qiyamah.

A pious scholar once compared the role of the Muslim woman in society to the archers of Uhud. These archers were not in the midst of the fighting, but they carried the most important task: To guard the safety of the army. To keep the army together. The welfare of the entire army rested on their shoulders. My dear sisters, You ARE the silent army. You are the foundation keeping this Ummah together. The welfare of the entire Ummah rests on your shoulders.

And so as Muslimahs, we should be proud. Because Islam gifted us this honour. Not men. Not status. Not degrees, but Islam.

I call upon the "Fatimahs" of today, I call upon the "Sumayyas" of today, I call upon the Muslimahs of today to stand up and reclaim this lost honour. You are the most important "ingredient" in this Ummah. Stand up and take back what rightfully belongs to you!

This "Gift of Honour" was bestowed upon u, dear Muslimah, 1400 years ago.

Accept it. Embrace it. Love it! But most importantly.... Honour it. Honour it with all your heart and soul because it is the most sacred gift a Muslimah can possess.