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Nov 30, 2012

Raising Muslims among Non-Muslims

By Asrar


Bismillah

How would one raise their children as pious Muslims in a non Muslim country? With all the modern day influence and media, what is hot and what is not. Holidays that are rarely ever holy days really, more like days of business and transactions. Schools are not including Islam in their children’s books or arts and crafts not being made for Islamic Holidays. Islam is not being introduced in a positive way. It is no where introduced to children except in their local mosques and maybe starting at 8th or 9th grade and unless we as parents or legal guardians take a stand, speak about Islam and make Islam part of the society we live in, Islam will always be a religion misunderstood!

Being a Mother of two, I opened my eyes even more now than ever before. I’ve noticed the student’s curriculum and I’ve come to see that they have Christmas, Hanukkah and even Kwanza which is a much newer Religion than Islam. Yet there is no Eid! As a student myself, I have been approached numerous of times about Islam, about my Hijab, about many basic Islamic topics and it makes me happy to inform them about Islam because most of the time they have never heard of half the things I explain to them and it always opens up a new perspective of viewing Islam. At the same time I am shocked that they had absolutely no idea, except the negative aspect of Muslim women being oppressed! Which makes me wonder as to why till now have they no clue of Islam? They have been so misinterpreted by people of knowledge who claim to have answers (media, teachers, older generations, etc.,) which made them think otherwise.

With this being said, I would like to make my most valuable point in this discussion; In order to help our little Muslims be the best they could be at a young age, we must act! They are our future ummah / followers of our prophet! Saying we are Muslim does not cut it. If you do not pray, fast, or even marry appropriately*, then do not expect it from those who look up to you. We are their first and foremost influence. They mimic every word we say when a baby and as they get older they become more independent of their own mental choices and decisions. So do not wait till they are old and harder to teach that they no longer find you as their influence because they will not learn about Islam anywhere except from you!

*To Men- Before you choose a woman to marry, ask yourself if you can see your daughter as you see her. Vise versa for woman.

*To Woman- Ask yourself if this man will raise your children according to the Quran and Sunnah? Vise Versa for men.

Be a Role Model:

· In Prayer- For males, have the fathers take their son to prayer with him. For females, have your daughter watch you pray or pray with you.

· In Fasting- Older children can fast half a day (few hours, as practice and if they choose to). Younger children could be shown pictures of those who have no food and taught why we fast, as with all aged children.

· In daily lessons remember Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala; speak of Him much. Examples could be when speaking of nature / the creation of Allah. How Allah created everything we see and how perfectly He made it for us. I do not think a day should pass without speaking or remember Allah (swt) in some conversation with your children.

· In Manners/Akhlaq- If you expect your child to have manners than we must not just tell them what to do but show them how it is done. When angry, do not yell; show them you are in control. When you make a mistake say you are sorry. They see and hear everything you do, this will show them that we are all equal and we all make mistakes. (Learn the rights of a parent as the rights of your children.)

With these actions being done, your children have an idea where they stand. What their purpose is for. What kind of world we live in and how to act around others. Along with our actions we teach them about the prophets and morals that come from their stories, this is the Aqeedah / the belief. With these stories they will achieve Iman / faith and they will benefit from it by a better understanding of Religion.

Something I learned at a very young age is that one should always know where they are from and should know the history of Islam. You could speak of our Prophet Muhammad Sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and how he had to teach stubborn people in Mecca during the Meccan period. Recite the short chapters in the Qur’an (Meccan chapters.) These get straight to the point, being that your little one might not have the patience to listen to a long chapter. These are not always taught because we are so caught up with where we are now, and the history of where and what we are today. Lack of this knowledge caused me to be an easy target as a child because I did not know how to defend myself or my race. As a child we all know bulling can be an issue and only knowledge could prevent such cruelty. Out smarting someone makes that individual feel embarrassed which will cause them to find another target. If your child cannot find his country on the map then there is a problem. Teach your children where they are originally from and if there is any Islamic history there, speak of it. Make them proud! Because living in a non Muslim country could really make you feel like a 3rd world person as well.

Finally, the last point I would like to make is to make your world an Islamic atmosphere. Go to Islamic educational events with your children. In the US there was an Islamic history time line at the Science Museum of the entire Muslim mathematicians and scientists and told people what they created/discovered and when. This was very educational for my family and for myself; made me proud to see that many things were discovered by Muslims.

Islamic school is a must as well, unless you will teach your children Quran as well as Arabic then that is great but Islamic school is good because then they will see other Muslims like them (hopefully a positive influence.) They will do congregational prayer and strengthen each other. We have to try to introduce them to Muslim friends (become a unity) because after parents/guardians comes their friends and they will do as they do. Some may say why Arabic since there is translation, but it is known that Arabic is one tough cookie to crack. It is never 100% translated correctly for example to this, one word in Arabic could mean 5 words in English. (Of course I am speaking of the Arabic in the Quran).

With this Insha Allah our children will have a better upbringing, and we will stand in front of Allah and say we tried and we did all we could to put Islam in their life, and insha Allah they will grow and not be so crazy for the material things of this world, because they are above this idea of thinking mentally. When we teach them at an early age that these worldly things are just distractions from the truth and purpose of our being here, insha Allah they will make more accurate life decisions. Whether it is material things or busy life, we must make sure our lives revolve around Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala and not make our worldly issues a priority.

“Allah created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend.” (Qur’an 39: 62) 

Just a note: It is never too late to be a better influence. We are only basher / Human flesh. We learn and gradually change. Islamic Law did not come down in one blow; rather it came down in revelations. So we learn as we go. Telling your children to be good Muslims when you are not, could back fire on you. So it is better to better yourself first, and be gentle on your children. Do not make them hate Islam, forcing your children to obey could result in making them do just the opposite. The key here is to make them fear Allah and not you. This way you both could take steps together into becoming overall better Muslims.

References:
Qur’an (39:62)
Sunnah (Hadith/Akhlaaq-Character, “Family Law”)

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

Nov 29, 2012

Journey Of A Stranger - Part 1

By Amal Milaa Filza

Part 2 | Part 3




Bismillah



“Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” [Muslim]


I needed a fresh start, I needed to be away from all of this.. Far far away. I wished to be freed from this cultural prison where religion is mistaken by society and where the truth has been concealed by obstinacy. How I longed to be in a place where I can drown in the deepest ocean of this perfect religion. Seeking only the satisfaction of the one and only God. None has the right to be worshipped only He who created the heavens and the earth. He who forgives us time after time and even after sinning still shades us with His ever-lasting mercy. For years I felt trapped in this messed up world, yearning for nothing but the love and acceptance of my Lord. Oh, how I love Him more, than I love my own.

For hours I could stare into the deepness of the sea. My reflection in the water sometimes seems so odd to me. The chains of this Dunya just would not set me free. I close my eyes and feel the wind against my skin, wishing it could wash away all my sins. I try to get closer to my Creator, I only want to please my Sustainer. The darkness is taking over and my reflection in the water fades away.

The brightness of the sun was slowly diminishing behind the horizon and I just stood there waiting for the perfect moment to disappear into the night. Doubts started to arise again but as I looked at the beauty of the twilight, which was turning into dusk I knew I could not go back. I could not go back to the place where I have been oppressed for all these years. I could not go back to the people who acknowledged the oneness and uniqueness of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala in terms of Him being the Creator yet failed to obey and worship none but Allah. Well at least I could not go back to them for now..

As I gazed at the waves of the sea, I have a slight shiver. My four-month journey would start today, a stranger’s journey seeking the satisfaction of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala. I felt excited and nervous at the same time. I was hoping to find the deepest depths of Islam during this spiritual journey and to return back home as a different person, a better person and believer. I then remembered the hadith where Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says:

“Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.” [Hadith Qudsi] 

I stepped into the boat and not once did I look back. I felt relieved.. I felt free.. A small feeling of anxiety aroused when I thought of what will be waiting for me on the other side. But with the thought of Allah all those doubts flew away and as I continued my way over the ocean, the only words on my lips: La Ilaha illallah Muhammad-an rasulullah. One last time.. I shiver..


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

Nov 28, 2012

Webinar: Renew your Eeman. Revive your Spirit. Carpe Diem! on DEC 19, 7 PM



FREE ONLINE WEBINAR
Suggested Donation: $ 5

Renew your Eeman. Revive your Spirit. Carpe Diem!
A New You. Reboot 2013.

When: Wednesday, Dec 19 2012 in sha allah at 7pm EST
Where: ONLINE (Login link will be emailed out to registered attendees)
Who: Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda


About the Speaker:
Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda is the founder and director of Qalam Institute. He is also an instructor with Bayyinah Institute, where his class “Meaningful Prayer” has traveled the country. His latest projects include Quran Intensive (a summer program focusing on Arabic grammar and Tafsir), Quranic analysis lectures, Khateeb Training, chronicling of the Prophetic Biography at www.qalaminstitute.org, and personally mentoring and teaching his students.

About the Webinar:
Most of us make new year resolutions because we feel regret at how we performed in the current year and plan on making the next one better. But somewhere, somehow we get distracted in the rut of life again and we do not even remember what our resolutions were in the beginning of the year. Come and learn how to break this cycle and become productive in our goals related to this dunya and our deen inshaAllah.... 

REGISTER HERE: www.anewyou2013.eventbrite.com

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This is a sisters only event
Online webcast with audio and visual presentation
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For maximum benefit, try your best to attend this event live.
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Toronto Time: 7 pm EST
Chicago Time: 6 pm CST
LA Time: 4 pm PST
Egypt Time: 4 am
London Time: 12 am
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FREE ONLINE WEBINAR
Suggested Donation: $ 5

Renew your Eeman. Revive your Spirit. Carpe Diem!
A New You. Reboot 2013.

When: Wednesday, Dec 19 2012 in sha allah at 7pm EST
Where: ONLINE (Login link will be emailed out to registered attendees)
Who: Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda

Nov 26, 2012

One Big Happy Family

By Amatullah Aminah


Bismillah


"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship" [Bukhari] 

I was going through someone’s picture on facebook; you must be aware of one of those where there are several characters in the picture and they tag their friends and family who fit the character. This one, interestingly, had characters from Harry Potter. ‘Bellatrix’ was aunt Sarah, ‘Draco Malfoy’ was given to cousin Hamzah, and ‘Voldermont’ was the unfortunate cousin Saad whereas the detestable ‘Dolores Umbridge’ was the elder sister, Haya. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter, all these characters are described as dark, sinister, mean and arrogant who are exceptionally sadistic in nature.

All the good characters, in the picture, were claimed by friends, of course.

We live an era where we, haughtily and unflinchingly, flaunt lines like: “God gave us relatives; thank God we can choose friends”. It is a very popular one. Most of us use it to mock our relatives, not realising we are mocking ties given by Allah, we are mocking people Allah joint us with for a very good reason.

Allah ta’ala reminds us in the Quran at several places,

So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship? Those [who do so] are the ones that Allah has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision. [Surah Muhammad 47:22-23] 

Be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you. [Surah an-Nisa 1] 

There are numerous compelling ahadith highlighting the stakes of severing the ties of kinship. Here are few to give a much needed jolt (starting with me):

The Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: “Among those not graced with God’s glance on the Day of Judgment are a severer of bonds of kin and an obnoxious neighbor.”[1]

In another Hadith which has several narrations one of which says: "A man asked the Prophet, upon him be peace, who are the people most entitled to good companionship from me? The Prophet said: 'Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives and then the next nearest." [2]

It is reported that the Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: “The one who cuts family ties will not enter the Garden.” [3]

A’isha reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said “Kinship (rahim) is derived from Allah. If anyone maintains ties of kinship Allah maintains ties with him. If anyone cuts them off, Allah cuts him off" [4]

Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “ Anyone who wants to have his provision expanded and his term of life prolonged should maintain ties of kinship" [5]

Whoa! Did you just read all that gripping data from the Quran and Hadith? Did you process it yet? Read it again, slowly. That information toppled me. I sit here wondering why Allah wants us to connect with our relatives. Why? Why do we have to be nice to them even when some of them get on our nerves? 

Every family has its black sheep, the prodigal son/daughter, the rebel and the one who has brought shame to the family. We all are familiar with such characters; some of them make our life. There are ones who hurt us with their condescending remarks about our academic choices or our weight, there are ones who pretend we do not exist, there are ones who are always competing with us, there are ones who are harbouring issues, from the gramophone era, with our parents hence shoo us away for no mistake of our own, then there are those who are the moles, they bury their nose in our affairs, extract information then go about the town divulging the family affairs only exaggerating it a bit. Yet we are told to play the one big happy family game. Give them salams, be there for them in times of need, visit them when they are sick, forgive them, be happy for them when Allah blesses them with something, genuinely wish them good and most of all reconcile.

Ugh! Really?
Yup! Really.

And for a very good reason - to learn and condition ourselves to live and love for the sake of Allah and to perfect our character.

The believers are nothing else but one brotherhood. So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear ALLAH, that you may receive Mercy.  [Surah Hujuraat 49:10] 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I have only been sent to perfect good characteristics.”[6] 

Hmmmm...but how does ‘One Big Happy Family’ perfect our character?

It is very easy to smile back at someone who smiles at you. It is very easy to be good to someone who is good to you. It is very easy to hang out with someone who does not judges you, misunderstands you or ridicule you and then equally easy to claim that you love them for Allah’s sake.

What is hard is to step on your nafs for Allah’s sake. Doing good to someone when you know they don’t like you, they don’t recognise your feelings; they don’t bother to acknowledge that you are family. It is hard to swallow your pride and say salam to then any ways.

Think of them as an opportunity to perfect your character. You can practice so much by hanging around them. You get real life scenarios to perfect yourself and not where you mentally practice by reading how-to books. You learn:

1. To swallow your Anger and Pride [It keeps you humble]
2. Forbearance
3. Forgiveness
4. Tolerance and Patience
5. Kindness

These people bring out the real you, they teach you to soften your hearts and most of all with time and practice you learn to shut out the whispers of shaytaan. Eventually they come around and even if they do not you are not losing anything. You are learning the qualities of people of jannah, qualities Allah loves.

Once we learn to reconcile, we have another task at hand.

We have to stay with them, be around them. We should not shun them or ignore them. Allah joint all of us for a reason, if all the good people were grouped together who would look out for the obnoxious ones? They are our brothers, and we don’t forsake brothers. We help them by repelling evil with good and by bringing them around

"Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed," A man said, "O Allah's Apostle! I will help him if he is oppressed, but if he is an oppressor, how shall I help him?" The Prophet said, "By preventing him from oppressing (others), for that is how to help him." 

So do not hesitate to play the One Big Happy Family card, you may find it hard in the beginning, but do not give up. Pick up the phone and call an ignored relative, forgive someone who has hurt you, email a cousin telling them you miss the good old days, throw a family dinner and if they make themselves unreachable, at least, keep them in your duas.

Do your part!

References

[1] The above Hadith was narrated Ad-Daylami. Translation by Hamza Yusuf. Taken from the book: "The Content of Character"
[2](See Riyad al-Salihin, p. 194).
[3]Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Jubair bin Mutim
[4] Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari-55
[5] Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari-56
[6] Narrated by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad (273) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah


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

Nov 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Special: Attitude of Gratitude – The Psychology Behind Shukr

by Bela Khan

She opens her wardrobe. Two dozen dresses of red, yellow, orange, pink and you-name-it colours are hanging in there. After a cursory glance, she bangs the door shut.

Mom, I have ‘nothing’ to wear for the party. I’ve been begging you to take me shopping since ages. You never listen to me. What do I do now?

He is rummaging the fridge for the fourth time. Pizza, chocolate, ice-cream, fruits and juices are stuffed inside. He leaves the kitchen despondently.

There’s really nothing much to eat in here. Let’s go to the cafĂ© for and have some decent food today.”

She wakes up with the same feelings of depression and dread. Thoughts of suicide are again floating in her mind. She is married to a handsome man, with two lovely kids, a home, a car- everything most women would ask for. Apparently, life is perfect but there is “something” missing. It is just because she is not married to the man of her dreams.

He thinks that his life sucks. He is seventeen years old. He has an iPhone, Core i7 Dell, 1000 bucks monthly pocket money but according to him, his life sucks. He can’t focus on his textbook. He slams it shut and starts pacing in the room as he thinks out aloud.

If my friend can own a Jaguar, why the hell, can’t I? Everything sucks.”

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

As we grow up, we get tuned to be thankless and not to see the blessings in our life. We focus all our energy and attention towards finding out the stuff that is lacking in our lives. This is really ironic because the more we focus on scarcity, the more we tend to attract it.

Research has proven that through our thoughts and emotions, we emit powerful signals; these signals have the ability to attract signals of the same frequency! In other words, whenever you are being ungrateful or thinking negative and self-defeating things (“I never seem to have enough of money” or “I can never be healthy” or “I can never find a practicing husband” ) or worrying about issues beyond your control, you are actually emitting energies that will attract similar energies. Ultimately, you will end up becoming a black hole of despair. All the worries, arguments and frustration lead to more of the same.
Considering all this, if you want to try to attract more signals of what you desire to experience , for example, peace, joy, harmony, ease, prosperity etc., then why not choose your thoughts consciously and carefully?

Today non-Muslim researchers have discovered these secrets in the name of Natural Laws; while these “open secrets” were given to us in the Quran 1400 years ago. Psychologists and philosophers have painstakingly conducted researches and have come up with new theories and ideas. All this “newly discovered” stuff was presented to us in the Quran in no uncertain terms. Allah subhaana wa ta'aala promises “if are grateful, I’ll give you more”.

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.' " (Qur'an, 14:7)

This is a ready-made formula for attracting more of what you want in life.

Why is gratitude such a key ingredient in a successful life? Does it make sense now? Gratitude basically helps you make the shift. Consequently, you are able to attract more good, more love, more joy, more money, more health and blissful relationships in your life. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most frequently used methods to alter the signals one is emitting. What we need to master is the attitude of gratitude, the attitude of appreciating everything in life.

It is well-known that prayer, the important pillar of Islam is incomplete without Surah Fatihah. Surah Fatihah begins with expressing our gratitude to our Lord for the countless blessings He has showered upon us. Have you ever noticed that a lot of duas taught by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also start with the same expression of gratitude- Alhamdulillah. The day starts with the supplication "Alhmdulillahilazi ahyana…" (All praise and thanks be to the one who gave us life..)

What is the significance of this? Allah subhaana wa ta'aala wants you to start your day in a super charged state, attracting ample happiness and abundance in life. 

The meal ends with the supplication "Alhmdulillahizli at’amana wa sakana…" (All praise and thanks be to the one who gave us food and drink) Why? Because He always wants you to have better food every time you eat. The same expression Alhamdulillah- its not a coincidence, is it? 

Gratitude is one of the quickest ways to regain our focus. When we are stuck, it means we are giving too much attention to something that doesn’t really deserve it. Most so-called problems are usually mundane pre-occupations and mental obsessions. We focus so much on one area to the exclusion of everything else that we create and then magnify our problems. Guess what ?? When we focus so much on what’s not working, we can’t even access the part of our brain that provides us solutions. Surprised ?? Yeh! So, when something is not working, focus on what is working and say alhmdulillahi rabbil 3lameen aloud. What do you think you are doing by saying this? You are freeing your mind from those thoughts that bog you down; and you are reinforcing strong positive beliefs that even if some areas are not working in life, others definitely are. In this way, you are able to think in a quicker and better way to resolve what is not working in life. Try it out for yourself.

It is reported that some of the companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) even used to be grateful  for the calamities that they faced and presented their gratitude to Allah for not letting something worse befall them. Now THAT is the attitude of gratitude!

Being grateful to Allah subhaana wa ta'aala does wonders. When you’ll acknowledge His Hand in your life, miracles will happen. You’ll be in the middle of a problem and would not have the least bit of knowledge about what would happen next, and suddenly the solution will dawn upon you. Its like when someone would return you an old loan that you completely forgot about when you are in dire need of money. Its like when you are thinking about your loved ones and they give you a call right then. Its like when you are longing for something to happen and it happens; be very grateful to The One who made it happen.

We usually ignore many things that are readily available to us and need a BIG reason to be grateful. Our family, friends, body, health, job, leisure time, education, food, wisdom, smiles, children and even the painful lessons that life teaches us (and the list goes on) are HUGE blessings to be grateful for. If you don’t have the same feeling, just close your eyes and imagine one of these blessings vanishing from your life. How does that feel? This is EXACTLY for the reason you need to be thankful each day, every moment.

Its a pity that since childhood we are tuned to have lust for more and never to be satisfied with what we already have. It is exactly for this reason, being grateful to Allah subhaana wa ta'aala for what He has already blessed us with is sometimes very challenging for us. All of us need a bit of fine tuning, so below are some tools that I am sharing with you to be able to be grateful to Him and let the magic unfold.

Tools: 

1- Make a list of twenty things you appreciate right NOW. Write ALHAMDULILLAH in front of every blessing. Make a list of the things you feel good about and why you are grateful for that thing, situation or person in your life.

How did you feel doing this? Here’s the good news: you just increased your positive emissions and now you are actually able to attract more happiness, abundance and prosperity in your life.

2- Start looking for EVERYTHING you can be grateful for in life and start talking about it all the time no matter how insignificant it is. If you find a buck from your old shirt’s pocket, celebrate. Go around and tell everyone how grateful you are for that. That’s how you are actually tuning your mind to show gratitude for tiniest blessing in your life.

3- At least once a day, share GRATITUDE status on Facebook and twitter (or whatever social media you use) and ask others what they are grateful for. In sha Allah, you’ll get ajar for your shukr and theirs too.

4- Try to seek the positive out of every negative. Take out at least three good lessons from every painful experience and be grateful that life threw that situation at you so that you could learn.

--
In a nutshell, developing the attitude of gratitude to Allah subhaana wa ta'aala will do wonders in your life. Identify those wonders and be grateful for them so you can have more.

Do share with us a list of some blessings in your life that you are grateful for. We would like to hear from you in the comments below.

Nov 21, 2012

The Remarkable Life of Ali ibn Abi Talib - Part 3

By Ruby

Part I | Part II


Bismillah


Previously, it has been discussed how Ali radiAllahu anhu, the cousin of the beloved Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, accepted Islam as a child and grew up to be one of the strongest young men in the history of the Muslims. Last time, I had talked about his marriage to Fatima radiAllahu anha  daughter of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. This time, I will discuss Ali’s life as a warrior and his bravery, both during the time of the Prophet and afterwards.

As a Warrior
In the battles that took place during his time, it would be the norm for a warrior from each opposing side to challenge each other. Ali radiAllahu anhu  whenever he would challenge another warrior, would always emerge victorious. He is well known because of his double-edged sword, which was distinct among the battlegrounds. (Fun fact- in the film “The Message”, Ali radiAllahu anhu is portrayed by this double-edged sword!)

In the Battle of Uhud, when many Muslims left their posts on the mountain to flee, Ali radiAllahu anhu was one of the few who stayed back to defend the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. He also carried water to wash the Prophet’s wounds in that battle.

In another battle, called the Battle of the Trench, the Muslims, as advised by Salman al-Farisi (a companion of the Prophet), dug a trench on one side of Madinah. The enemy could not pass the trench because it was too deep and too wide. When a few of the fighters did manage to jump over a narrow area, it was Ali radiAllahu anhu who challenged the men to a fight. With the power and strength he was blessed with, Ali radiAllahu anhu kept the Muslims safe.

When the Muslims went to fight at a Jewish settlement called Khaybar, they knew it was to be a difficult and time worthy fight. These Jews of Khaybar had stone fortresses to protect themselves and it was difficult for the Muslims to get through.

After a few days, the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam announced he would appoint one man to lead them to victory, and he would give that warrior the flag. Of course, many of the companions wanted the flag, but it was Ali radiAllahu anhu who was chosen. As is known in the famous story, Ali radiAllahu anhu's eye had some trouble, but with the Prophet’s own saliva, it was cured.

Closeness to the Prophet
During the time of the “Farewell Pilgrimage”, Ali radiAllahu anhu was fighting with troops in Yemen. He left his army, commanded by another commander, and hurried to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage with the Prophet. After the pilgrimage, Ali found that his army had defeated the enemy and were wearing new clothes and had the spoils of war with them. Their intention was to look their best to enter Mecca. However, Ali radiAllahu anhu became angry due to the fact that these clothing did not belong to them and ordered the army to return everything.

The soldiers became upset and went to complain to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhhi wa sallam. The Prophet, instead of siding with the soldiers, claimed, “Am I not nearer to the believers that their own selves? Whom I am nearest to, Ali is nearest to”. He then proceeded to make dua for Ali radiAllahu anhu  “O Allah, be the friend of him who is his friend, and the foe of him who is his foe” (Noura Durkee).

When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam left Ali radiAllahu anhu in charge of the family in Medina, while he went to a big campaign (called campaign of Tabuk), there was a rumor that the Prophet did not want Ali radiAllahu anhu around anymore. Hurt and saddened, Ali radiAllahu anhu chased after the Prophet. However, the beloved Prophet told Ali radiAllahu anhu these were lies, and said to him, “Aren’t you content, O Ali, that you should be to me as Harun was to Musa, except that after me there is no prophet? (Noura Durkee).

After the Death of the Prophet
As is known, Ali radiAllahu anhu accepted Islam early in his childhood. Therefore, by the time the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam passed away, Ali was a young man with his life ahead of him. He was one of the people to wash the Prophet’s body, and was not present when Abu Bakr was chosen as Khalifah (Caliph).

Still, he played a role as a wise counselor to all the Khalifas who came before him: Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. When Uthman was assassinated, the position of Khalif went to Ali radiAllahu anhu though he did not ask for it. His position as a leader gave him much trouble and stress because the people had become uneasy, and tension brewed amongst them.

Some Muslims wanted to avenge Uthman’s death, while Muawiyah (son of Abu Sufyan) wanted to have independent power. Yet still Ali radiAllahu anhu had to check on the conditions of the people, deal with everyday problems, and be an Imam. In the end, there erupted a civil war between the Muslims. Ali radiAllahu anhu eventually came to a treaty with Muawiyah in which some land was given to him, while the rest of the Islamic Empire was under Ali’s control.

In the end of his life, a group called the Kharijites had emerged, who held responsibility for Ali’s death. He was murdered with a poisoned sword, because the Kharijites claimed the leaders were straying from the Qur’an. Upon his deathbed, he advised his sons to live with unity and not strive for this world. After all, it is in his own words that he describes,

“Do for this world as if you were going to live forever and for the next as if you were going to die tomorrow”.

May Allah subhaana wa taala be pleased with Ali radiAllahu anhu  the wise, skilled, and brave companion and cousin of the Prophet salAllahu aleyhi wasallam.


Source: Those Promised Paradise - Noura Durkee

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

Nov 19, 2012

BOOK REVIEW :Every Writer needs a Tribe: A Practical Guide to Finding (and Writing for) Your Audience

By Amina Edota

Bismillah

E-book (kindle version)
Written by Jeff Goins ~ Published by Sterling & Stone LLC (2012) 


As an unrepentant book addict enjoying another book purchase, albeit an e-book download, and always ready to create windows of reading moments, I could not pass the opportunity of downloading a free e-book on writing. And also having only been recently introduced to the author’s works coupled with being an aspiring writer, I made the download with dreams of sustaining another new blog – still very much in infancy; by finding my audience and writing for them.

A very simple read laid out with short sections of iterations building on each other, the e-book has been written to sustain the reader’s attention. Section titles such as ‘In search of a tribe’, ‘Why you need a platform’, ‘How to get heard’, ‘Tribes are found not made’, ‘Becoming a smaller writer’, ‘Write for real’; all clearly centred on everything ‘tribe’ – the how, why, who, where, do’s, don’ts. It is an easy book to follow yet a comprehensive manual giving every aspiring writer additional tools for their toolbox.

The small but powerful book carries a clear and refreshing message, that of intentionality in writing - finding a community of true fans, remaining focused and making a real impact on those fans. The gems were quite practical and based mostly on the author’s experience as he journeyed on finding his own tribe; a message by a writer to a writer.

Also included were true life stories, quotes, and points to note & ponder. The author wrote in an appealing style with a clear language. Some of the quotes I found particularly stimulating are:

‘Turn pro’ in your head before you do it on paper, to believe you are what you are asking others to believe about you’. (Steve Pressfield)
‘A platform helps you become the signal, rather than the noise’ (Jeff Goins)
‘Chase passion not mastery’ (Jeff Goins)
‘Pursue passion, not approval’ (Jeff Goins)


The section on ‘Five types of platforms’ was an eye opener, offering a view on what I would refer to as writing ‘styles’ or ‘flavours’ and although could not relate to just a specific platform, instead I found myself inclined towards three of the platforms in different ways.

Directed clearly at writers on the one hand, on the other hand it also showed relevance in many ways to all passion driven individuals whatever their field – in aiming to establish good communication in order for a message to be passed across. I would recommend this e-book to all bloggers and writers, both pros and aspiring ones. Every leader, coach or mentor will also find gems and lessons to relate to daily happenings. I have it on my kindle for quick reference which I believe I would be doing regularly in trying to boost my writing and in attracting a niche audience.

As a Muslim, many of the words served as a good reminder of the importance of having the right intention in whatever we do, and working with ihsan (excellence) at all times. As the true believer’s focus is the highest station in jannah (paradise), nothing should come between one’s striving to attain only that level. If that attitude is applied in our day to day activities and especially our areas of special interest and passion, we stand a chance of excelling to greater levels by His mercy. Our opportunity to be the best would not be compromised as well.

Having read the author’s e-book ‘The writer’s manifesto (Stop writing to be read & adored); this follows a different style but similarly has the potential to serve as a manual or quick reference for writers. Both books offer creativity and carry a straightforward message, which resonates with ways of stepping into the reality of being a writer. In today’s world of internet and a massive sea of e-books, Jeff Goins works are inspirational, and I believe the e-book would even serve the beginners better if they carry a few action points or simple checklist to work on – lending a practicality to the tips and gems already present.

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

Nov 18, 2012

Story: A MIDNIGHT PRAYER CHAPTER 12

By Alawiya Abdalla

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter


Bismillah


Asha

“You simply cannot dictate whom I'm going to marry! You simply can’t!” I protest fiercely at the situation that I'm currently in “Mum talk to him please” Looking at mum for moral support.

“So none of the girls were up to your standard Ahmed?” Mum asks Ahmed, totally ignoring me!

“I thought Manafisa was quite sweet actually, you should give Manafisa a chance InshaAllah” Adds Jawahir!

“HELLOOOOOO FORCED MARRIAGE MUCH!!” I exclaim, shout, scream, pull my hair and display all kinds of emotions that describes ANGER.

“Don’t be silly Asha, you are merely getting engaged darling. Who said anything about marriage?” Replies my mother so simply “Plus, you were quite fond of him, I saw it in the way you laughed”

“I NEVER!! I WASN'T FOND OF HIM!! I NEVER!! I WASN'T FOND OF HIM” Okay, so I ran out of adjectives and what?

“Yes Asha, that is the first time I've seen you so happy and relaxed. You would make such cute couple” Jawahir joins calmly, as she sips her Somali coffee with Halwa (A sweet not designed for the faint hearted)

“Jawahir, you have stepped over to the dark side ages ago!! I cannot believe you are so into this match making hoopla! do you not recall our meetings when we used complain about such people??”

I cannot believe the transformation in Jawahir. She is becoming Khadija!

“Now now Asha, let’s not talk crazy here. I just want you to be happy with Hamid, it is long over due” Jawahir adds with an annoying smile.

“Long over due??? Now, what’s that supposed to mean?” Long over due my foot, excuse my French.

“It means, everyone noticed what was happening between you two”, Ahmed offers an explanation.

“This is INSANE! You guys are all crazy, and I will not agree to this” I cannot believe that none of them realize how ridicules they sound!

“Calm down will you! All I said was he has to propose, to take the shame of you being seen with him away. Who said anything about marriage?” Ahmed asks as if proposing means someone who dad dances at a wedding, don’t you know now?

“I do not know what planet you are all on, but proposing means someone who intends to marry another human being for the purpose of creating a halal life together” I try as much as I can to reply in a civil way, but sarcasm keeps shooting out of my mouth regardless “I do not know what the definition in your minds are, but I was led to believe this for years now”

“Oh trying to be funny ARE WE?”, asks Ahmed sarcastically.

“I don’t know, trying to make up our own rules, ARE WE?” SubhanaAllah, adding ARE WE to any sentence does make a HUGE difference.

“CHILDREN! Stop adding ARE WE to your sentences before someone gets seriously hurt” My mother gets worried as insults fly between me and Ahmed. To everyone else, all around the world, ARE WE is just two words but to us__Oh no, IT IS ON MATE!

“I want to speak with Asha alone if you all don’t mind please”, says my mum.

Ahmed and Jawahir scurry away, but not before Jawahir offers me a wink as if she knows what my mum is about to say.Married women, and their unnecessary winks.Mum waits a few minutes before she starts talking to me. She goes to the hall to check that there is no one eavesdropping, and then she returns to the living room.

“Asha, come sit next to me dear” My mum points to a space next to her as she sits on the sofa. I don’t know whether I should go and sit or stay where I am.

“SIT!” Orders my mother.

Sitting it is then.

“Asha you failed to see what your brother did for you. He put Hamid on the spot because he wants to see if he will turn up or not” Explains my mother “If he does turn up, then he is someone you can depend on. If he doesn't and he starts making excuses, then you will see him for what he is”

“But I have no interest in whether he turns up or not” 
I DO have an interest, but one must feign carelessness to avoid one’s pride being dented by one’s love interest.

“Oh but Asha I am your mum. I have noticed, so you don’t need to pretend sweety. Your brother noticed too, and that’s why he put Hamid on the spot like that”, replies my mum.

“He wanted to see what he is made of darling. Is he going to bail? And anyway, it is just a proposal. Then there’s engagement, and THEN comes marriage InshaAllah. We have to ask about him first Asha, don’t you worry”, my mum explains the whole situation to me, and it just makes me even more anxious.

Now I'm left to think whether he will turn up or not.
Great__just great.
Thanks Ahmed__Not.

Hamid

So I've decided that the decent thing to do in this situation is to turn up. With Suad and her husband of course. At first I thought “Where does this guy think we live?? Back home? When a woman is seen talking to a man back home, they order the man to propose to her to take the shame away from the woman.

But we are in London! There is no need to exaggerate the situation here mate. Plus, I've done nothing wrong. All I did was run into Asha, for crying out loud! Then why did I feel the need to fulfil his orders?

I know why.

I grabbed the first chance of happiness and I took it, it is as simple as that. I have never even dreamed about this happening to me, and Allah has landed me this opportunity on a plate and I took it. Plus I have come to a conclusion that I really really like Asha. It is not just her, I like her whole family as well. As maddening as that sounds, but I really like them as a family! Well, with the exception of the big brother of course. I don’t hate him, I am just a little bit scared of him. I also respect him, and aspire to be like him one day, InshaAllah. The way he looks after his family is powerful and amazing MashaAllah. As much as I love my mother and father, I would have given anything in the world to have them act so confidently, the way Ahmed is acting right now.

So protective and fierce.

I would have given anything to see them walk with their heads held high, in the face of calamities. Maybe, none of the people in the village would have dared to make fun of us. Maybe my tormentors at school would have thought twice about messing with me. As much as I am scared of this guy, I cannot deny the fact that I want to be like him as a father InshaAllah. That’s why I decided that I will not reveal the whole truth about my family’s past. I will just have to make up some kind of Barawani persona that they’ll be happy with. I am not even thinking about anything right now, other than grabbing this chance with all my heart and soul.

So here I am sitting with Suad and her husband, trying to answer Ahmed’s questions about my family. I told him that my mother is Yemeni, and my father is Somali and that is why I cannot speak the language. While he sympathized with the fact that both my parents are deceased, he still wanted to know where we lived so he can ask about me. His mum suggested that we have a small engagement party at her house, while Ahmed investigates my background.

Of course Ahmed was not happy about this. He wanted to investigate first, but Asha’s mum reasoned with him. She convinced him that a little engagement party would not change the fact that they CAN still change their mind, if they find anything wrong with me. 

I have to be honest, my heart sank when I realized that Ahmed will investigate my background. All I wanted to do was to tell them the truth, but celebratory noises echoed all through the house that my tongue failed to utter a single word. All I managed to do was look at Asha’s face, and I saw nothing but happiness spread across her face. I convinced myself that maybe she doesn't need to know the truth about me after all. Never have I seen a family feel so happy at the prospect of me marrying their daughter, that all the logical and important reasons of why I shouldn't marry Asha left my brain.
I just wanted to marry Asha and live happily ever after InshaAllah.
I swear I will be the best husband to my wife, and the best father to my children InshaAllah. 

If a little lie is what it takes to achieve my dreams, then I guess I will not mention anything about my past. By the time Asha realizes how kind I am, she will accept me for who I am InshaAllah.

I just know it with all my heart.

__Two weeks later__

Asha

My engagement party is here everyone! I am beyond excited, I cannot contain my emotions. Everyone keeps telling me to stop smiling, but I can’t. How can I when I know that THIS day is MY day! MY engagement party. Not yours my dear cousin. Not yours my dear distant cousin that I don’t know, and not___What is SHE doing here??

What is Mona (Uncle Yusuf’s daughter) doing here?? I guess Jawahir invited her! Jawahir is Mona’s younger brother’s (Saeed) teaching assistant, and she gushes about Mona and Saeed all the time. I feel kind of betrayed to be honest, because Mona’s father who also happens to be my uncle and my mother have a long history of animosity and Jawahir just doesn't seem to get that somehow! I am not going to really bother about THAT issue today. You know why? because it’s MY engagement.

Somebody stop me from smiling please!

I know this is only temporary until Ahmed is satisfied with Hamid’s background, but I can’t help myself from being happy. Me and Hamid have gotten to know each other a little bit more over the past two weeks, and he is quite a character MashaAllah. He is very kind towards Khadija’s children, and he has blended in SO well with my brothers__Except Ahmed of course. He is still a little bit weary about him.

Ahmed even tried to postpone the engagement party, because he couldn't find anything about Hamid. He kept asking Hamid to repeat his family name, and he found it strange that no one knows about his father and mother. Ahmed and my mum got into a little argument because of it. My mum insisted that there was no need to postpone, but Ahmed thought otherwise. He also advised me to pray Istikhara, which I failed to do. I have PLENTY of time till I get married InshaAllah, people pray Istikhara before they get married not when they get engaged right?

So here I am wearing a vintage one shoulder crystallized green long evening dress, and I feel like a princess! As soon as Hamid comes arrives, I will put on my Hijab and Vintage Abaya InshaAllah. I get to show off my dress for the time being though, but talking about Hamid___

Where IS he? He was supposed to be here an hour ago!!
Maybe he forgot the time. Men tend to forget the time easily, I have three brothers I should know.
I look at my family, and they look worried too. They keep checking their watches a lot, and Suad keeps looking out the window to check if she can spot him.

What has happened to him???
Where is he?

There are so many people here, and I'm starting to get nervous!

Hamid

I am sitting on my bedroom floor in a crouching position, and I cannot breathe. The enormity of what I'm about to do has finally hit me, and it has come at the WRONG time! Why couldn't I realize that marrying Asha, without telling her about the real me was a BAD idea?! I was putting on my tie, when I suddenly felt it tighten around my neck. Images of the children I will have with Asha kept popping in my head. At first I was smiling at the thought, and then reality hit me.

Will my children be labelled____Like me??? Will they suffer the way I did??
How have I not thought about this before?!
Why now?
A massive panic landed on my chest, and I am trying to move. I really am, but my legs aren't budging from their spot.What have I done??

I cannot go through this. I cannot put my children through what I went through.
Tears start falling, and my world start tumbling around me.

What have I done?!


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

Nov 16, 2012

Brotherhood in Islam and the threat of nationalism

By Danielle Garvey


Bismillah



"He is not one of us who calls for 'asabiyyah, (nationalism) or who fights for 'asabiyyah or who dies for 'asabiyyah." (Abu Dawud) 


We are all familiar with nationalism to some degree. It may just be the simple fact that your local mosque is identified as ‘belonging’ to a particular ethnic community. Or it may be more pronounced, such as being obstructed from marrying the person of your choice due to their being of a different ethnicity. Unfortunately, these issues have become such a common occurrence in the ummah that we often accept and even expect it. However, allowing such nationalistic inclinations to exist and grow within our community is a dangerous practice which will inevitably lead to yet further divisions and conflict within our community.

Recent Islamic history testifies to this fact in the case of the last Islamic Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire. In the last decades of its existence, the empire witnessed the rising prominence of ethnic nationalist movements both in its government, which was ruled by Turkish nationalists after they overthrew the Sultan, and amongst its constituents. An example from the latter category was the Arab nationalist movement which culminated in ‘The Arab Revolt’. This involved the Grand Sharif of Makkah and his sons collaborating with the British to rebel against the empire and establish an independent Arab state. Such events undoubtedly caused great disunity both within the empire and the ummah as a whole. It also arguably served to facilitate the destruction of the caliphate in 1924.

It is important to note that disunity arose within the caliphate when the Muslims ceased uniting upon the truth - Islam. Unity and brotherhood was instead placed with those who, of no will of their own, shared with them an ethnicity, language, culture, and history. In practical terms, this meant that non-Muslims who shared their ethnicity were more beloved to nationalists than their brothers in Islam who belonged to other ethnic groups. In some cases, their brothers in Islam were treated with suspicion and animosity due to their ethnicity. This is in clear opposition to the teachings of our Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam who said:

"Do not have malice against a Muslim; do not be envious of other Muslims; 
do not go against a Muslim and forsake him. O the slave of Allah! 
Be like brothers with each other. It is not allowed for a Muslim to desert his brother for over three days." (Muslim & Tirmidhi)

It is of the beauty of Islam that all the believers, regardless of age, status, ethnicity, gender, colour or level of education, are brothers and sisters to one another within one noble nation. Considering the effects of ethnic nationalism not to mention the evidence against it within the Qur’an and Sunnah, it is clear that it is a movement which is not only foreign to, but forbidden in Islam. It is a powerful tool which has been consistently used throughout Islamic history to divide the believers in order to disempower the ummah. Therefore, if we are to maintain the blessing which is the brotherhood of Islam, we must take this issue seriously and actively work to address nationalist sentiments both within ourselves and the community.

In this regard, there is no better guidance than that of Islam therefore to overcome our weaknesses in this area, we must look to its teachings to develop our characters in accordance to the deen and establish those practices which please Allah and keep us far from that which harms ourselves and/or our brothers and displeases Him.

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favour of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together 
and you became, by His favour, brothers.” (Surat ‘Ali Imran, 3:103)


References
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RtDfeolypA
http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/Nationalism.htm
http://muslimmatters.org/2010/01/15/divided-loyalties-or-imagined-conflicts/
http://www.khilafahbooks.com/wp-content/ebooks/english/khilafah/roots_of_nationalism_muslims.pdf
http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/ottoman-empire/rise-of-arab-nationalism
http://islamqa.info/en/ref/97732


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

Nov 15, 2012

Short Story: Letting Go (Part 2)

By Nur

Part 1

Bismillah

The bus stops at a red light, right next to Tariq who is on the sidewalk. Is that really him? Amina thinks to her self as she looks out the window with surprise. What is that thing on his head? Who is that girl next to him? How come his ankles are showing? Who is that? Amina thinks with utter shock.

Tariq walks down the street towards the Masjid with a kufi on his head and a white spotless thobe on. His smile pierces Amina’s heart, but latter stabbed it as she looked across to whom he is smiling at. There is a girl next to him laughing as his white teeth and dimples shine. Amina stares out the window long enough to catch Tariq’s eyes, he stops talking to the girl and stares back at Amina. Tears of ache and pain tremble down Amina’s eyes as she sees her long lover, the person who Amina wished to marry, the person whom she gave everything and anything she ever loved and liked for, dumping her for a black abayah wearing, glasses hanging Muslimah.

The stop light changes and the bus moves fast ahead, leaving behind Tariq and his new lover back on the sidewalk. The sound of the bus screeching across the road, snaps Amina back to reality, she looks ahead and the bus driver shakes his head. The bus comes to a halt and the bus driver goes to check what happened. The bus has halted just two blocks away from where Amina saw Tariq and the girl. Amina begins to pray that the bus would be ready to go before Tariq would get there, the awkward embarrassment of defeat frustrates Amina.

As Amina sits in the abandoned bus, the bus driver enters and says,
“Sorry, there is a flat tire. I just called, and the next bus should be here in half an hour.”

Amina instantaneously becomes worried. She walks passed him off the bus and looks back, as she does so, she spots Tariq and the girl across the street waiting to cross. Amina’s eyes widen and she begins to run towards her home, although it was a half hour walk it is much better than facing Tariq.

Amina hears her voice being called from behind,
“Amina” says a voice awfully familiar.

Amina doesn’t turn back to see who it was, she just keeps running. After some time she has to gasp for air, her asthma had been acting up, and she forgets the doctor made it clear that she was not to run for long periods of time. As she pants and breathes for air, Tariq and the girl run towards her.

“Are you OK?” asks Tariq with concern.

Amina takes out her inhaler and inhales. She begins coughing, but it slows down as she regains her breath. She looks up and her eyes begin to become watery. Tariq backs away and the girl, whom Amina despises greatly, stood next to Tariq, finally speaks,

“You must be Amina. Well, I’m Tariq’s sister,” she says with a smile on her face.

“Tariq doesn’t’ have a sister.” Amina says with anger.

The girl looked offended, and Tariq looks annoyed.
“I was out of the city studying at an Islamic University, I just got back during the winter break. You probably haven’t heard of me. I’m Layla.” She says

Amina feels foolish and uncanny, and looks at Tariq up and down.
“Why don’t you walk with me Amina? We are going to the Masjid, Tariq can lead the way.” Layla says kindly.

Amina nods and smiles Tariq walks in front while Amina and Layla walked two meter’s away.

“Sorry about that, I didn’t know.” Amina says with empathy.

“Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it must have been a big change for you. Tariq told me about you… You see when I came back from school abroad I started pushing Tariq to come to lectures with me at the Masjid. There was one lecture he heard called Letting Go that really moved him. A week later he decided that he needed to learn the deen. So he’s going to complete his final year off high school through home schooling. And during the week he’s memorizing Qur’an with Sh. Salem.”

Tariq walks faster ahead as Layla explains to Amina what happened.

“Why didn’t he just tell me?” Amina asks with concern.
Layla sighs as though she was waiting for that question.

“You see Amina, that lecture he heard, also spoke about gender relations, and well after that day he hesitantly deleted your number from his phone.” She says.

Amina looks ahead at the green and white colored Masjid as it stands, waiting for her. Its minaret soars across the sky as the sun’s ray’s gleam through the minaret and dome. 


The last chapter will be up soon! Stay tuned!