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May 28, 2014

Permissible Gheebah Part 1

By Afsha Ibrahim


The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) saw a funeral passing by, and those who were with him spoke ill of the deceased person, and he (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is due.” Then another funeral passed by, and they spoke well of the deceased person, and the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is due.” They asked him what he had meant by saying it is due, and he said: “The one of whom you spoke ill, Hell is his due, and the one of whom you spoke well, Paradise is his due. You are the witnesses of Allah on His earth.” (Abu Dawud)

The Muslim has to guard his tongue and avoid things that have been forbidden. Among these forbidden things which people often take lightly are gheebah (backbiting), buhtan (slander) and nameemah (malicious gossip).

There is a great deal of evidence to show that these actions are haram (impermissible). It will suffice to mention just a few of them in order to demonstrate that they are haram.

"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say [something] good, or he remain silent." [Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

"...Neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it [so hate backbiting]" (49:12)

But there could arise situations where there could be a genuine need of speaking about a person behind his back. The situation could not be resolved without resorting to backbiting. And if it was not opted a greater evil might have resulted than backbiting itself. However what should be taken into consideration is that there should be no excess and injustice made during the course of backbiting.

The worst excess is to attack the honour of a Muslim unjustly.” (Abu Da’ud). In this saying, the condition of “unjustly” points out that doing so, “with justice” is permissible.

Situations where Gheebah is permissible

The conditions mentioned by the Shari’ah in which a Muslim may talk about his brother behind his back are as follows:

  • It is permissible for an oppressed person to speak before the judge or someone in a similar position of authority to help him or her establish his or her rights by telling him `so-and-so wronged me and has done such and such to me. 
  • It is permissible to seek somebody's assistance in forbidding evil and helping someone change his or her immoral conduct. One can say to the person who can offer such assistance, `so-and-so does such and such evil deeds to seek his help. This is permissible as long as one intends to forbid evil. If, however, one intends something else apart from this, then this act becomes unlawful.
  • One who seeks legal verdict on a certain matter may point out the defaults of another person or relate something else. One in this case can say to the Mufti (religious scholar who issues verdicts): "My father or brother (for example) treated me unjustly. Can I get my right established?'' This is permissible to say only if need be, but it is better to say `What do you think of someone who did such and such?' This does not mean, however, that naming the person in question is not permissible.

Aishah (radiAllahu anha) said: Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, said to the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam): Abu Sufyan is a niggardly man and does not give me and my children adequate provisions for maintenance unless I take something from his possession without his knowledge. The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said to her, "Take from his possessions on a reasonable basis that much which may suffice for you and your children.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].  

Join me for Part 2, where I discuss more situations in which Gheebah is permissible.

May 26, 2014

Environmental Issues Series: Water Conservation - Importance and Islamic Perspective - Part 2

by Tara Alomari

Why should Muslims care Part 1 | Why should Muslims care Part 2 | Water Conservation Part 1 | Animal Rights Part 1 | Animal Rights Part 2


Water is absolutely essential for life and is one of the greatest blessings of Allah mentioned in the Qur’an. Unfortunately, we humans have not done well to conserve it, and the implications of our actions can be seen all over the world today. It is imperative on us to follow the Sunnah of water conservation in all our actions so that we may be responsible stewards of creation. In this final part of the series, we look at water conservation from an Islamic perspective

Water conservation is a Sunnah

If you live in a relatively water-rich part of the world like large parts of North and South America, Europe, or South Asia, you may be thinking “Yep, plenty of water around here. No need to conserve water for me.” In reality, if you wish to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu aleyhi wa sallam, then beware that the Prophet, sal Allahu aleyhi wa sallam, said: “Do not waste water, even if you perform your wudu next to a flowing river”.

In fact, Wudu is one of the first ways in which we can both revive a forgotten sunnah and conserve water. The Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu aleyhi wa sallam, used to perform his wudu out of a small jug, which, although sources vary, was likely around 1-2 liters. Allowing for the larger amount, this comes up to a total daily water use of approximately 10 liters, or 3,600 liters a year. If you currently make wudu with the tap running, and you are fairly fast, you likely use about 8 liters each time. [i] That’s 40 liters per day and 14,400 liters per year, or four times the amount of the Prophet’s sunnah.

Following this sunnah is actually incredibly easy to do. Select any small jug or mug and keep it in next to your sink at all times. Fill it up and pour out the water, or dip your hands in, as needed to complete your wudu. You can even select something pretty that will add a decorative touch to your bathroom. Pro tip: if you have water left over in the jug, do not leave it standing for more than a full 24 hours. Periodically rinse it out and let it sit dry (in the night for example) so that it doesn’t develop a layer of slime at the bottom.

Activism is also a sunnah

As can be clearly seen, the problems of water scarcity, desertification, and rural poverty are global problems requiring a lot more than individuals in developed countries turning off the tap. Lobbying your government to build sustainable water infrastructure (and use aid dollars to support that of others), as well as supporting sustainable water development projects with your Zakat and Sadaqa are also important. If we are to “man up” to our role as khalifas of creation, and if we, as Muslims, are to be leaders of economic justice and universal human dignity, then we have to be at the forefront of such initiatives, working with Muslim and non-Muslim alike to create a sustainable future for us all. 

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

[i] This is based on the estimate that an open tap gives about 8-12 liters per minute

May 23, 2014

Intellectual Pride - Part 2

By Bint Zahid

Part 1



Arrogance is a very dangerous disease, especially for a student of knowledge, who risks losing all the benefits of his/her hard work and having them go to vain.

So how can we cure this disease, and control it from spreading?

1. “I am a vessel”: Imagine that you are a vessel, with an inlet and an outlet. Water flows in and out of it. Nothing is contained in it, and the continuingly flowing water keeps cleaning it. Since the vessel cannot hold any water in it, it cannot claim any ownership. And, well, one cannot feel proud about something that one does not own, right? When we learn something new, we rush to share it, especially with our loved ones. We want everyone to benefit from it. So like the vessel, we are empty too at all times, with knowledge coming in and going out and cleansing us. So, logically speaking, when I do not own (any knowledge) then how can I have any pride about it? Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala) says in the Qur’an: “And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect, that perhaps you would be grateful” (16:78).

2. Internalize it first: When we learn something new, our first reaction should be to analyze ourselves, and apply the knowledge on ourselves first. For example, let say we attend a lecture on gheebah (backbiting) and we are very moved and encouraged to fight the urge to talk about others. When we go back home, we get a call from a friend who starts talking about someone. This is an “aha” moment for us. Either we think: “Oh, she loves to talk about others. I do not, I am so good!” OR…we feel scared for ourselves weakening so we gently steer the conversation to other topics, without giving her a lecture on gheebah right then and there. We should make du’a for ourselves and her and ask Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala) to guide us and her to be able to get rid of this habit.

3. Increase private good deeds: We should make a conscious and determined effort to increase our private good deeds; deeds which are visible ONLY to Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala). Increase in dhikr (remembrance) of Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala), give more in sadaqa, offer tahajjud, pray nafl salah more during the day, read more Quran, share knowledge anonymously, create pages on Facebook with generic names so that people do not know that it is really you who is posting, etc.

4. Deal with compliments: When compliments come our way we should learn to deal with them in a way that they become a means of increasing our humbleness and not the other way around. When you receive a compliment do not say “Oh no, I didn’t really do anything. I am not really worth it,” etc. This will only increase the other person’s compliments. Look at your shoes and have an internal parallel conversation with yourself. Think of all the areas in you that “need improvement” and make du’a to Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala).

5. Remind yourself: “Why are you doing this?” Put this question on a post-it or a label, and put it on the wall in front of you where you work, or on the table, the background of your laptop, or on the top of your file/folder. Answer this question truthfully before you begin your study or work.

6. Seek guidance from Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala) before starting a project: Imam Bukhari, performed ghusl (bath) and salatul istikhara before recording each hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari. Once we begin our endeavors with the blessings of Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala), it becomes difficult for riya (arrogance) to creep inside our heart, as we know we are only able to do it because of the will of Allah (subhana hu wa ta’la).

7. Make the right choice: We all need and look for some kind of recognition for the efforts that we put in. What is needed is the knowledge of the right place to seek it- either we seek it in the sight of Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala) or the sight of the people around us. The right choice is “the sight of Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala),” so make the right choice. Don’t count the number of “likes” on the post that you share on Facebook or the comments under your blog posts or the applause after a good speech at a halaqa. Ask Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala) to accept it from you and make you grow in ilm and imaan.

May Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala) protect us from this disease and help us in spreading His word and grant us all forgiveness and His pleasure. Ameen.


May 19, 2014

Environmental Issues Series: Water Conservation - Importance and Islamic Perspective - Part 1

by Tara Alomari

Why should Muslims care Part 1 | Why should Muslims care Part 2 | Water Conservation Part 2 | Animal Rights Part 1 | Animal Rights Part 2


Frequently in the Qur’an, water is used as a symbol of purity and goodness (for example, the analogy of hearts like rocks from which water bursts forth (2:74)), and in fact, it is the most pure substance on earth. It is also clear from multiple verses that it is Allah who is in complete control of the water cycle, as He is the one who makes the clouds condense and the right conditions come together in just the right way for rain to form in them and water to come down in one place and not in another . This fact is frequently mentioned so that we may see life on earth as a great blessing from Allah.

Allah says that He made every living thing from water (21:30). Scientists have found life in the most extreme conditions, from inside rocks and frozen ice to highly acidic and radiation saturated environments. However, never have they found something that can live completely water-free. Even biological soil crusts and the bacteria on the dry (ice free) plains of Antarctica still need water occasionally, and have water as part of their molecular structure; they have just learned to survive very long periods without it.

Keeping in mind that all life on earth depends on water, we must be both thankful for what we have and mindful of our actions. After all, as khalifas of the creation, we have been given a measure of control over our environment which is unlike any other creature on earth.

Reality of water scarcity

Unfortunately, we have not used this power very carefully. According to the WHO, “Water scarcity occurs even in areas where there is plenty of rainfall or freshwater. How water is conserved, used and distributed in communities, and the quality of the water available can determine if there is enough to meet the demands of households, farms, industry and the environment.”[i] While nearly 70% of the Earth is covered in water, only 2.5% of it is fresh (not salty), and 54% of that fresh water is used for human consumption. It is estimated that 783 million people in the world do not have access to clean water. As a result, 6-8 million people, mostly children, die every year as a result of being forced to drink unclean water. Furthermore, it is the Middle East and central Asia, which comprise most of the Muslim world, that have the highest cases of water scarcity in the world.

While you might think that this scarcity is due to the fact that the Middle East is a natural desert, this is actually not necessarily the case. Though indeed, many areas, such as large swaths of the Arabian peninsula are naturally occurring desert, much of the rest of water scarcity throughout the Muslim world is a result of poor water management. Did you know that Nairobi, Kenya receives more annual rainfall than London, as do many parts of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine? Land desertification, whereby semi-dry but life-sustaining lands become barren and lifeless wastes, is a process that is accelerating in many parts of the world- about 25% of the earth’s land is currently desertified. This process is part of a cycle of rural poverty that is caused by over-exhaustion of the animal, plant, and water resources in an area, and creates more rural poverty and displacement, leading to more over-exhaustion of resources in nearby areas. 

Stay tuned for the final part of this topic where we'll look at water conservation and activism as sunnah inshaAllah.

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


[i] http://who.int/features/factfiles/water/en/

May 16, 2014

Intellectual Pride Part 1

By Bint Zahid



I recently attended a lecture by Sheikh Omar Suleiman, organized through HabibiHalaqas. It was an outstanding lecture that dealt with a problem we face on a daily basis, the problem of arrogance. Out of the many subparts of arrogance that Sheikh Omar Suleiman talked about, intellectual pride was one that jolted at me the most. It is, as he described it, the “worst kind of pride.”

Some of the common characteristics of intellectual pride are:

1. We are not able to take criticism well, and feel resentful towards anyone giving it

2. We think that what “I” am doing is better.
a. For example, “My course is better than yours.” Or “My approach to Islamic Studies is better than yours”.

3. Love for leadership increases.

4. We talk about our accomplishments a lot.

5. We argue a lot and do not stop if the argument turns ugly.

6. We find it difficult to compliment others.

It is very important to understand that we all are faced with this kind of pride. What matters is that we recognize the signs and deal with them immediately. Delaying the cure for this kind of disease of the heart has dire consequences, as the Messenger of Allah (sala Allahu alayhi wa salam) said , “….None shall enter paradise who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of a pride” (Sahih Muslim).

Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala) says in the Quran: “I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right” (7:146).

Think of the moment when man asked Musa (alayhi salam) who was the most knowledgeable person and Musa (alayhi salam) answered “me.” Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala) did not like this “logical” bereft of any prideful answer, and immediately told Musa (alayhi salam) about the man who had more than him.

Examples from our pious predecessors, may Allah (subhana hu wa ta’aala) be pleased with them, indicate:

Umar (radiAllahu anhu) said, “May Allah have mercy on the one who gives me the gift of showing me my defects and weaknesses!!”

Hasan Al-Basri used to say,” I will not leave a room until I’m the worst person in it.”

Stay tuned for more in Part 2.

May 9, 2014

60 Second Adkhaar

By Shazia Arif


Waiting for the bus? Waiting in line? Have a minute to spare? Why waste this minute, it is a minute you will never get back! So what can you do in a minute?

1. SubhanAllahi wa bi Hamdi, SubhanAllahi’l Adheem – Glory be to Allah and Praise be to Him, the Greatest is free from imperfection.
  • The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) said, there are two phrases, which are beloved of the Most Merciful Allah, light on the tongue, yet heavy on the scale of reward- Al Bukhari
2. Seeking forgiveness by saying AstaghfurAllah – We are all in constant need of Allah subhanu wa ta’ala’s forgiveness!
  • The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) used to seek forgiveness 70 times a day, and he was a sinless person. (Bukhari) Imagine if we used every spare minute we have in one day to say Astaghfurallah
3. La Hawla wa La Quwatta illah billah - There is no power and strength except with Allah. The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) said that this is one of the treasures of Paradise. - Bukhari

4. Surah Fatiha can be recited in a minute
  • The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) said that Al Fatiha is a cure for every poison- Al Bukhari
5. The Darud Sharif - Allahuma Sali wa Salim ala Nabiyina Muhammad- O Allah send peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad
  • The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) sad: He who reads a single darood upon me Almighty Allah blessed him ten times, he is increased ten times in the stages of Jannah and ten of his sins are forgiven- Nisai
6. If you have the Quran handy (in your bag, on your phone etc) a small verse can be memorized in a minute!

7. Alhamdulilah
  • Gratitude is an important virtue!
8. SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi adada khalqihi wa ridaa’ nafsihi wa zeenata arshihi wa midada kalimatihi - Allah is free from imperfection and I begin with His praise, as many times as the number of His creatures in accordance with His Good Pleasure, equal to the weight of His Throne and equal to the ink that may be used in recording the words (for His Praise)
  • Reciting this praise 3 times in the morning will weigh heavier on the scale than doing dhikr from the dawn prayer to forenoon- Sahih Muslim
9. Subhan Allahi wa bihamdihi – Allah is free from imperfection and His is the Praise
  • The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam) said if these words are recited 100 times a day, one’s sins will be forgiven even if they were equal to the extent of the foam of the ocean- Bukhari and Muslim
10. Surah Ikhlas can be recited in a minute (Surah # 112)
  • It is known to have the merit and reward of reciting 1/3 of the Quran- Bukhari
  • Note: this does not serve the purpose of reciting the entire Qur’an rather it is 1/3 in reward
11. La illaha illAllah - There is no God but Allah
  • If everything in the Seven heavens, besides Allah were placed on a scale and the statement La illaha illAllah was placed on the other side of it, the statement would weigh more – Ibn Hibban and Hakim
Make use of every minute that you have! Lest that on the Day of Judgement you regret that one minute you lost, that one deed that could take you to Jannah!

Do you know of more one minute deeds? Post them below so that everyone can benefit inshaAllah

May 7, 2014

Scream and Stress Free Mothers Part 2

By Amatullah Aminah



This article investigates the importance of being stress free, as a mother and the need to understand that infants are highly intelligent and absorbent human beings. You might want to read Part 1 where I described some steps and techniques we can adopt to make a practically possible stress and scream free environment at our homes, which will facilitate us to give our children a good tarbiyyah.  In this part, I will continue this discussion, inshaAllah.  

1) Its ok to get messy:

Breathe! Until our little energy boosters come along we all love to have a clean house with everything in its place. Children pretty much change that. Its ok! Embrace it. Some mothers may take more time, than others, to get used to the mess but it is a journey every mother should be prepared to undertake. Do not be upset at the sight of cushions on the floor or shoes on the table; do not start cleaning up every two hours. Do it just once - when your hubby is about to come home. As your infant will grow you can encourage and include him in the “clean-up game”. Sing a clean up song and make cleaning up a fun activity. You will be surprised how fast he will learn.

2) Stay prepared

Accidents will happen. No matter how prepared you are, your little explorer will find something new every few days and surprise you. Stock up cleaners and do not panic at spills and marks on the wall (get washable markers/crayons to be safe). A wet sponge will clean off most of the marks off walls and a good absorbent cleaning cloth will clean the stains off your carpets and upholstery. Put up chart papers on the wall, if he loves to paint the walls, and you can replace them every 2-3 weeks while your little artist will learn and get the best coloring experiences plus you stay stress free.

3) Home d├ęcor?
You may have to start reconsidering ways to decorate your house once your little one starts crawling. They are not called “the boss” for nothing; after all they dictate pretty much everything around your house. Focus more on wall decors and decals. Stock up accessible book shelves with his books or toys (Yes! You may have to do that) Remove potpourris and candle stands from your coffee table. There will be an age (between 2-3) when you can teach them not to touch certain things but an infant is too young to tutor on cleanliness and order. He needs to know how and why of things. Protect your sofas with inexpensive throws; take out your silk and sequenced cushions only when you have guests and remove any breakable decoration pieces.

4) Distractions and Alternatives:

Create distractions and give alternatives to your child. His interest level in adult stuff and activities will only increase as days go by; you need to give him alternatives. Like, if he shows interest in your toothbrush it is time for him to have his own and teach him the difference between his toothbrush and that of mum’s. If he loves tearing paper, give him an old phone directory to save your books and at the same time satisfying his curiosity. Do not worry; you will not be spoiling him. You would just be wearing his urge off and he would get bored soon. If he wants to eat on his own, give him non-messy finger food, like small pieces of grapes or fries or small pieces of chicken nuggets. When they get their hands on your laptop (just to bang the keys) try providing him with an old keyboard, he would love banging the keys and reading ABC and trust me he would gladly leave your laptop alone. You can provide an alternative for almost everything; you just need to be creative and a little imaginative.
5) My space, your space:
As human beings we all crave for a little personal space. Babies also need their own space. A space without limitations and freedom to do all they desire. Give them their space. Let them have a room, which should be set up in a way to give them a sense of freedom, control and means to satisfy their growing needs. A low bed, or a thick mattress, with small chairs, rugs and toys would be perfect for your infant. Let him reach into cabinet (which should hold only his toys), jump on the bed or mattress, and paint the walls (which should be covered with chart paper). Put balls, blocks, cars (even if you have a girl!) dolls, stuff toys and whatever your child fancies. Let him explore and get acquainted with various things and their uses. Once in a while you can put old sheets over his chairs and make him a cozy hideout. They would love and appreciate their space without destroying yours. However, make boundaries. Let him know where he can make a mess without worry and where he must not.

6) Be a Junkie: 
Stop throwing out everything!! Save a couple of cardboard boxes of different sizes, a couple of old bottles, cables which have gone bad, old gadgets and electronics which don’t work (like telephones, irons, hair dryers etc.) Children love to play with the real stuff more than their toys. You may never understand why your child would never show interest in his flashy toy phone but would love a real phone. He may want to iron with the real one, so cut off the cable from an old iron and let him have his way. Let him sit in cartons and play with empty bottles and cables. He would create his own games and entertain himself better than anyone. Just make sure you are making things safe for him and nothing in your junk can hurt him.

I would appreciate and welcome more suggestions and ideas. Please share them in the comment section below.

A Reminder: We can (and must) endeavor in every manner possible to give the best upbringing to our children, which will lead them closer to Allah. At the same time, remember all our efforts and their success is a result of Allah’s will alone, hence don’t forget to make dua for your children and yourselves.

May Allah guide us to deliver our best efforts in regard to nurturing of our children, and may He make the generation of our children immensely successful in this dunya and aakhirah, ameen.

References: Lessons from Spring Semester in Child Development and Growth