Quote of the week: “There is no Islam without unity, no unity without leadership, and no leadership without obedience.” Umar ibn al-Khattab (rta)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HibaKidz introduces the delightful Ahmad family!


Hiba magazine is delighted to introduce the newest addition to HibaKidz: The Ahmad Family!
Every few days on our blog and Facebook page, you’ll get to read a new short story about this fun-loving Muslim family whose members include: 

Abu Jamal (Abdullah Ahmad)
Abu Jamal is the tall, easy going - sometimes comical - head of the Ahmed family household. He’s the owner of a sports equipment shop and is someone who always manages to lighten the mood, even in the most serious of situations.

Umm Jamal (Fatima Aziz)
Umm Jamal is the wise, organized, practical and loving mother. She’s someone the other family members often turn to for advice. She loves educating and spending quality time with her family as well as looking after her neighbors.

Jamal Ahmad
Jamal is a whimsical and inquisitive 10-year-old boy, who loves his parents, friends and especially his baby sister. Sometimes his unpredictable nature gets him into trouble, but everyone knows Jamal means well. Jamal loves playing sports, especially Karate.

Marium Ahmad
Marium is Jamal’s baby sister. She likes following him around when he’s at home and especially loves a good wrestle in the evening.
The Ahmad family lives in a small town with friends and neighbors of several different races, cultures, religions and nationalities. 

The Ahmad Family Comic #1
So here it is… the first edition of The Ahmad Family (click to enlarge):
Life with the Ahmad Family Comics for Muslim Kids
Did you enjoy reading the first Ahmad family comic?  If you have any ideas or suggestions for improvement that would be great - do not forget to leave your comments below.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

From Paper to Pixels

By Tooba Asim, a freelance journalist

Don’t have the time to go and buy the original text of Shakespeare’s Othello for the school project? Or would you rather spend that money on something else? Fret not for now you can get that and millions of other books ‘free of cost’ in the ‘land of unlimited possibilities’ a.k.a the internet.

E-mail has changed the face of the entire mailing system. E-banking, e-commerce, e-shopping and other such electronic equivalents of conventional means have revamped the way things worked. And now, e-books are making inroads in the world of paper and ink.

Electronic books, better known as e-books are defined as the ‘electronic equivalents of conventional books’. Technically speaking there can be quite a lot of forms an e-book can take; image files, rich text format, hyper text mark-up language, CHM format etc. To put it simply, it’s text on screen or text read aloud.

So what is it about them which makes them so interesting, or rather advantageous?

Imagine a library full of books- the kind which has hundreds and thousands of books stacked in neat and orderly piles in old wooden shelves with a librarian behind the desk. How about having those heavy volumes of books which you have to sift through in the library in a couple of CDs? Or better yet, how about having a digital library? This is where e-books are set to bring the book industry to.

Gone are the days when one spent money on ridiculously expensive volumes which were also very difficult to manage. Not only are e-books a cheaper alternative but they are also extremely convenient to keep. A stack of CDs might just be equal to a big library!

The internet is one of the major sources of ebooks; both free and paid for. They can be downloaded and read on screen or they can be printed and transferred on paper. Here enters the ebook reader.

This amazing little handheld device is all set to repaint the book reading scenario. Be it the Amazon’s Kindle or the Barnes and Noble’s Nook or any other brand, ebook readers are fast gaining popularity amongst the tech savvy book lovers. These dedicated book readers are especially designed to enhance the onscreen reading experience by having the right hardware to proving all the necessary software without additional hassle. They come with wi-fi as well to enable easy access to books online.

The trend of digital libraries is also growing fast all over the world especially in schools and universities. The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan also has a National Digital Library Program for universities. The idea is to provide the students an access to international research journals, articles and a collection of hundreds of e-books. Apart from providing an easy access to material, the digital library also ensures that latest and up-to-date collection of journals is available.

With the trend of e-books fast catching up it’s no more a worry to find an old beloved classic online and that too at no cost at all. Most e-book websites on the internet provide with old classics but the Pandora’s Box that the internet is, you can find almost all titles ranging from classic novels to latest popular fiction for free!

Millions of people daily acquire electronic books by paying for them and buying them in forms of audio books or by downloading them on their book readers. Considering the time an average Karachiite spends in car stuck in traffic jams, audio books or ebooks are actually quite a good idea!

Like all other technological advances, e-books are only very slowly making themselves known locally. It’s still very difficult to get hold of a decent collection of e-books in a book store. Most don’t even know what they are.

However, the big question is, are book lovers really ready to switch over to the electronic medium to pursue their hobby? What about curling up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and your favourite book on a Saturday night or a lazy Sunday? And that smell of new books and the yellowing pages of your grandparents’ cherished collections? Oh and what about discovering dried up flowers and bits of paper in an old book? Hopefully, the e-books will just compliment the use of traditional books and not replace them.

Some popular e-book sources:

- http://digitallibrary.edu.pk/ [The HEC’s National Digital Library Program]
- http://www.digitalbookindex.org/ [a meta index of e-books available online]
- http://www.gutenberg.org/
- http://crankylibrarian.com/
- http://www.worldwideschool.org/

Pro-activity = A Peaceful Marriage

By Umm Isam

A world famous business and family consultant was in the middle of an important meeting and things were running behind schedule. He received a note from his wife that she needed to speak to him urgently. The counselor stepped out to take the call. His wife impatiently reminded him that they had invited guests that evening and that she needed him to be home on time.

The counselor, already facing a tough day at work gave into the pressure of the moment and rudely told her off. When he was walking back into the boardroom he realised his mistake. But the curt words had already been spoken and the relationship was stressed.

He tried to wrap up what he could and hit the road to reach home. In the privacy of his car he stepped back to observe his behaviour without being defensive. As he stood apart from his own life, and replayed the conversation in his mind, he realised that he had been wrong. He understood his mistake, and prepared himself to make necessary changes and improvements.

He realized that his wife had only made a reasonable demand as she was in a tough social situation. Expectations had been created and he wasn’t there to help fulfill them. Instead of understanding he had reacted abruptly.

The more he thought about it the more he realized that his actions had been off track. This was not the kind of relationship he wanted with his wife. Then, he began to think of what he wanted out of their relationship. It was care, empathy, love and patience. If he had been sucked into his worry for work and responded to his wife with more consideration, results of the incident would have been completely different. As he reached home, his irritation had gone. The counselor didn’t think of his work worries, but about his wife only. His heart was filled with feelings of love and understanding. He immediately apologised to his wife. She reciprocated. The closeness and warmth of their relationship was restored. And they enjoyed a lovely evening together.

Isn’t this a very common pitfall for all of us in our family life experiences? Whenever we are caught in the heat of the moment we almost instantly explode instead of responding based on our deepest values. The counselor suggested that “What we all need is the pause button – something that enables us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it, and to choose our own response.”

As individuals we have the capacity to develop this ‘pause’ button. It can be done by acting pro-actively, the ability to act on principles and values rather than reacting upon emotions or circumstances. The four unique gifts that Allah (swt) bestowed upon all the human beings are: self-awareness, conscience, imagination and will power. These are the gifts that we saw the counselor apply in his example too.

Initially it may take time to develop them and undo the habit of reacting. With time, with conscious effort and constant reminder to oneself, spouse and family, it can be possible to control one’s angry thoughts and choose a more decent response.

These gifts can be developed and used over time to improve the quality of family relationships. The counselor suggests that some families even determine a signal to help them cut through or prevent angry responses.

Just as the heat is turned on and an argument is imminent, we can say a chosen phrase or word out loud, switch the lights on and off, gesture a thumbs down with our hand. This could compel all to stop and disengage immediately. As Muslims, for us the best guidance comes from the Prophet (saw) who advises us to either recite ‘Aoozu Billahi min ashaitan nir Rajeem’ or hasten to change our position, or get a glass of water or proceed to perform Wudhu. This space gives us time to get a grip on ourselves and understand the circumstances better in the privacy of our thoughts before we respond negatively.

It is said: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”

The marriage counselor went on to describe how this one paragraph has been so compelling, so memorable and so staggering that it influenced the rest of his life. In his own words, “I cannot begin to describe the effect that idea had on me. I was overwhelmed by it. I reflected on it again. I reveled in the freedom of it. I personalised it. The more I pondered it the more I realized that I could choose responses that would affect the stimulus itself.”

Animals have no space between stimulus and response. They are totally a product of their natural instincts. We need to understand this difference very carefully and behave in a manner that befits Allah's (swt) best creations in the world – us. May Allah (swt) grant us the strength to be pro-active and help our spouse and family embrace it too. Ameen.

A Question of Identity

By Amreen Rehman, an MBA graduate from Pakistan's top business school

“Roti, Kapra, Makan and sex! Yes, sex! These are the basic human needs of today that motivate a person to do something. Our politicians have not been successful, because they have failed to address these basic human needs. Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs ignores the sex aspect…” The debate goes on in the classroom.

“Now we will watch some interactive videos that will depict human behaviour,” the teacher announces. Next, I see some advertisements revolving around nudity and sex, followed by a useless discussion on how these ads promote successful brands.

I am sitting in a marketing elective course known as Consumer Behaviour, but sex is all I’m hearing. As I look around, I see students of both genders, of my age, comfortably and casually watching, laughing and taking part in the discussion, leaving me bewildered and confused.

“Am I the only one feeling ashamed to be part of such a group? Have we lost all our values and morals?” I wonder.

I guess I’m talking about the so-called elite class of students, for whom such topics reflect confidence and boldness. What a pity that we have lost our Haya.

Islam defines Haya as modesty that beautifies our lives. “Haya, an inner control, and modesty in one’s talk are two branches of faith; while ill talk and excess in talk are signs of hypocrisy.” (Tirmidhi) Haya literally means ‘to be alive’, as it keeps our hearts spiritually energized.

Sadly, we have forgotten what Islam stands for. Islam is our Deen - a complete code of life - and our actions and speech should reflect this. In this very course, my teacher had clearly told us that we were not allowed to discuss two topics - religion and politics. In fact, all my teachers feel that Islam is just a personal matter.

I realize that we receive MBA and BBA degrees at the cost of our Deen. Are we spending huge amounts of money, so that we can debate, whether gay marriages should be legalized or not?

This is the state of education in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has made us secular, and though we excel in speaking and writing English more than an ordinary Englishman, it has taken us away from Islam.

Suddenly, my thoughts are disrupted by the sound of the bell. I slowly get up, collect my books and leave the classroom with questions haunting me: “What is my identity? Am I a Muslim or have I just become part of the secular class, for whom such concepts as Haya are dead?”

This reminds me of a Hadeeth of the Prophet (saw): “Islam began as something strange and shall return to being something strange. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim)

It is sad to see, how far we have deviated from our Deen and have lost our identity as Muslims. In today’s world, people, who act upon the true teachings of Islam, have become strangers and are a minority. But glad tidings to the few strangers, for they are the beloved ones.