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

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Demon of Dowry

Sadaf Farooqui differentiates between the the cultural practices and the Islamic guidelines on dowry, highlighting the true attributes and meaning of Mahr.

It all starts with the birth of a girl. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief.” (An-Nahl 16:58)

Preference for sons prevails mostly in India, China, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Deliberate abortion of female fetuses is not rare: every year, approximately a million female abortions are reported in India alone. “When the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) is questioned: ‘For what sin was she killed?’” (At-Takwir 81:8-9)

It’s not just men, who perceive the births of girls this way; women are also perpetrators of the ‘sons-are-better’ ideology for several reasons. One of them is the anticipation of a future financial burden on the father. A girl has to be provided for by her guardian; she does not mature into a breadwinner. Rather, she goes into another family. Thanks to the Hindu custom of ‘Jahaiz’ or dowry, marrying a girl off after she has been raised can be an even bigger hurdle. The father starts stressing years in advance, about how he will provide each of his daughters with a ‘proper’ dowry.

Dowry is an amount of money, goods or possessions given to the bride by her family at the time of her marriage, in order to attract a good husband. All of which, in effect, become the property of the husband or his family after marriage.

In actuality, the matter of fathers giving their daughters monetary gifts, property, enormous wedding feasts or furnished homes should be left to their own discretion. However, girls are given dowries because they are deliberately left out of the family inheritance. Although, Islam enjoins that each heir be given his share of inheritance - male or female - and prohibits ostentation, extravagance and unlawful acquisition of wealth. To some extent the custom of dowry involves all three of these vices.

A gift is something someone happily and willingly gives; it is not demanded. When Jahaiz is demanded by the bridegroom’s family, it’s a way of acquiring wealth by twisting another’s arm. How can one expect a marriage to be blessed, when at its initiation it best resembles a business transaction, in which each party tries to maximize its own profit?

Even if the bridegroom’s family wants to adhere to Islamic injunctions and renounces dowry, at times the bride’s female family members insist on the custom. The absence of a grand trousseau and an impressive banquet displayed to their social circle is a sign of disgrace for them because: “What will people think?”

Hearsay at weddings involves typical questions: “How many dresses have been made for her trousseau?”, “How much did the crockery cost?”, “How many jewellery sets did she get?”

The bride is sometimes trained to treat everything provided by her in-laws with disdain. She starts her married life expecting only her parents ‘proudly’ provide her with everything she needs. Gifts given by in-laws are usually discarded or not used.

In Islam, it is the husband who provides for his wife after marriage. He has to give her a monetary gift known as dower or Mahr, which the Quran describes as a Fareedah – an obligatory due. “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” (An-Nisa 4:4)

“All others are lawful, provided you seek (them in marriage) with Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) from your property, desiring chastity, not committing illegal sexual intercourse, so with those of whom you have enjoyed sexual relations, give them their Mahr as prescribed.” (An-Nisa 4:24)

Whenever a Companion wanted to get married, Prophet Muhammad (saw) would ask him, what he had which could serve as Mahr. When Ali (rta) was marrying Fatimah (rta), the Prophet (saw) went so far as to help him provide modest household items for her, as he was Ali’s (rta) guardian. This proves that if a Muslim bridegroom needs help in setting up a home for marriage, he should be helped, especially by his own guardian.

Sometimes the bride’s family demands an exorbitant Mahr for her, ignoring the spirit of Ihsan endorsed by Islam. This makes it difficult for younger men to marry, thus opening the door to such evils as dating and fornication.

Prevalence of the dowry custom not only jeopardizes the lives of future female infants and makes marriage difficult for girls in general, but also becomes a menace to low-income groups. Despite the existence of laws that prohibit excessive dowry, it is not unusual to find every mother under severe pressure of ‘honorably marrying off’ her daughters. She goes asking door-to-door for monetary help, incurring huge debts to throw lavish wedding feasts and live up to societal expectations.

What can we do to eradicate this custom? In 1976, the government of Pakistan passed a law - the Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restriction Act - that prohibited dowry above a specific amount. Sadly, to little effect. Existence of laws can only be effective, if people have Taqwah. The change can come about only if Muslim families truly fear Allah (swt) when performing marriages. How?

By giving precedence to piety over materialism, Allah’s (swt) pleasure over people’s expectations, and fully trusting in Allah (swt) for girl’s well-being after marriage.

Not asking questions about dowry when attending a wedding.

Remembering that girls are provided for and protected by the Best of Providers - Allah (swt).

Even if a few marriages take place with an average Mahr and no dowry, the bridal couple accepting an initially mediocre standard of living can set a trend for others to follow.

Maybe then the birth of a daughter would bring genuine happiness.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chicken Chapli Kabab

1 kg chicken mince
1 cup cornmeal
1 bunch mint leaves
1 onion chopped
3 eggs
4 green chilies
4 tomato
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp whole black pepper
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp whole coriander
salt to taste
  1. Chop 1 kg chicken mince well.
  2. Beat 3 eggs well and fry like omelet. Keep aside.
  3. Grind together 2 tbsp whole coriander, 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp cumin seeds. In a bowl, put together chicken mince, 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds, salt to taste, fried eggs, ground mixture of black pepper, 4 chopped tomatoes, 4 chopped green chilies, 1 chopped onion, 1 bunch of chopped mint leaves, 1 tbsp crushed red pepper and 1 cup cornmeal. Mix well and keep aside for few minutes.
  4. Make patties and fry in a frying pan in ghee or oil as required.
  5. Serve with Roghani Naan.
(Recipe by Chef Zubaida Tariq)

Matters in Meher

Much ignorance and misconceptions prevail concerning Meher (jointure money). Rana Rais Khan shares handy information on your daughter's or daughter-in-law's nuptial right.

Payment of Meher: There is no fixed limit of jointure money (Meher) in Shariah, but as much as lesser is preferred to make the marriage easy for common people. However it is a clear law that no marriage can take place without jointure money settled beforehand for the woman to be lawful for her husband. She has the right to claim it at the time of Nikah or defer it partly or fully to be paid in the future. She may also willingly forgo the jointure later on. The Quran states, "And give to the women (whom you marry) their Meher with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful)." (Nisa 4:4)

Amount of Meher: The amount of jointure money is not fixed. Prophet Muhammad (saw) paid nearly twelve Oqia (Rs. 10.000/- approximately) to each of his wives. Same was fixed for his daughters. The amount of Rs. 32/- pertaining to jointure money is not valid from the Quran or the Sunnah. It is part of an old wives tale, which is only customary and has no religious authenticity. However it is stated that the jointure money should be ascertained according to the groom's income. Traditionally it is wrongly calculated on the basis of the father-in-law's financial status, which is usually higher than the groom's earning capacity. Uqba bin Amir (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, "The best jointure is that which is most easy." (Abu Dawud)

Difference between Meher and Alimony: There seems to be a grave misconception regarding jointure money. Mostly it is taken to be a financial security for the bride, whereas Islam only considers it as a token money or gift from the husband to the wife at the time of marriage. Customarily the woman's family tries to demand huge sum of jointure money either as their daughter's security or to brag about in the society. Factually it is pointless to demand such high jointure money, which the groom is unable to pay, or worse has no intention to pay after the marriage. Alimony is absolutely different from jointure money, which only comes into effect at the time of a divorce.

Types of Meher: Anas (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (saw) set Safiya (rta) free and made her freedom her jointure. (Agreed upon) Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah (rta) The Prophet (saw) said, "If anyone gives as a jointure to a woman some flour or dates, he has made her lawful for himself." (Abu Dawud) Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated that when Ali (rta) contracted to marry Fatima (rta), Allah's Messenger (saw) said to him, "Give her something (as jointure)." He replied, "I have nothing." He said, "Where is your Hutamiya coat of mail?" (Abu Dawud) It means jointure money can be non-financial things, money, gold, ornaments, clothes, land or house or anything else. Teaching the Quran can also be jointure.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Story of Change

Hiba's blog has the pleasure to introduce to you "The Story of Stuff" project and their new video -
"The Story of Change: why citizens (not shoppers) hold the key to a better world"

(Disclaimer: Please, note that the speaker in the video is not a Muslim and thus is not dressed according to Islamic guidelines for women.)

For details on statistics and other information mentioned in the video, you can view Annotated Script for the Story of Change.

About "The Story of Stuff" project:

When Annie Leonard and her friends at Free Range Studios set out in 2007 to share what she’d learned about the way we make, use and throw away Stuff, they thought 50,000 views would be a good result for her ‘20-minute cartoon about trash.’ Today, with over 15 million views and counting, The Story of Stuff is one of the most watched environmental-themed online movies of all time.

Annie founded the non-profit Story of Stuff Project in 2008 to respond to tens of thousands of viewer requests for more information and ways to get involved. We create short, easily shareable online movies that explore some of the key features of our relationship with Stuff—including how we can make things better; we provide high quality educational resources and programs to everyone from teachers and people of faith to business and community leaders; and we support the learning and action of the over 350,000 members of the Story of Stuff community.

The Story of Stuff Project is proud to be fiscally sponsored by San Francisco’s Tides Center. We are supported by grants from private and public foundations, revenue from speaking appearances and DVD and book sales, and contributions from people like you.

Please help us keep our films and other content free by making a secure, tax-deductible on-line contribution today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Muslim Weddings

Samreen Rizvi discusses the requirements of a Muslim wedding in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah.

Allah (swt) sent Prophet Muhammad (saw) as a role model for showing us the practical implementation of the Quranic Ayahs. The importance of this role model is stressed in Surah An-Nisa (4:80): “He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad (saw)), has indeed obeyed Allah.”

Knowing the emphasis Allah (swt) places on the Sunnah, it is highly unfortunate how far people are from following the Prophet’s (saw) path. We have compartmentalized Islam in our lives and restricted its implementation to the praying mat and the Masjid. Our Deen is an amalgamation of the spiritual, mental, emotional as well as social aspects of a person - it is a complete way of life.

Marriage is one of the most important events in a person’s life. Surah Ar-Rum (30:21) states that it is Allah (swt), Who puts affection and mercy between a man and his wife. Hence, it is one of Allah’s (swt) innumerable Barakahs that He has made Nikah a source of peace and comfort for us. However, we fail to recognize the direct relation existing between His promise of Barakah and His command to follow the Sunnah in all walks of life. Prophet’s (saw) Seerah shows that he got married several times during his lifetime; hence, Nikah is his Sunnah. If we want Allah (swt) to put His Barakah in this relationship, is it not binding upon us to celebrate this event by following the Prophet’s (saw) footsteps entirely? Unfortunately, many of us do not even know how a Nikah is performed as per Sunnah. In this article, Insha’Allah, we will compare the wedding ceremonies that take place in our society today with our Prophet’s (saw) prescribed way of Nikah.

Always remember - keep it simple. “The marriage, which produces the most blessings, is that which involves least burden.” (Tirmidhi) Unfortunately, by adopting numerous non-Muslims customs, we have made Nikah the most complicated of affairs! Planning for the wedding starts months before the due date.

Regarding extravagance, Allah (swt) says: “Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils).” (Al-Isra 17:27) Israaf (extravagance) creates envy - the working staff of the house sees such wastefulness around them, while their own children do not get even two proper meals in a day!

Indian films promote the idea of lavish weddings, and Muslims, being followers of culture instead of the Sunnah, trace their footsteps blindly! Multinationals cash in on this trend by endorsing popular songs and TV serials with wedding backgrounds. Gangs of designers and wedding planners further orchestrate this event and make it the ‘business of a wedding’ rather than the ‘solemnization of a Nikah’! The wedding extravaganza held in Karachi (November, 2005) was a proof of this. Apparently, looking like a non-Muslim is a far more appealing concept than upholding the dignity and honour that comes with the Muslim dress!

What’s the harm in adopting a few of non-Muslim rituals? The danger of emulating non-Muslims can be understood from Surah Al-Imran (3:149): “If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from Faith) as losers.”

It is important to understand that every ritual has an underlying Aqeeda (dogma). We celebrate the Peela Joura in the Mayoon with great fervor, not realizing what it means. In the Mushrik Mudahib (idol worshippers), yellow is considered to be a good omen - one that wards off evil spirits and keeps the bride safe from harm. The custom of seven Sohaganain (married women) performing a ritual with sweet and turmeric stems from the belief that this ritual will ensure that the bride would remain a Sohagan (married) for the next seven times she is reincarnated! Can a Muslims believe in reincarnation? Do the beliefs that a particular colour or someone’s marital status bring luck and ward off evil match our Aqeeda of Tauheed? Are we not associating partners with Allah (swt) in terms of putting our trust in places other than Him?

Joota Chuppaee, or finger holding of the groom, is an equally disturbing ritual that goes against the teachings of Islam! A Mehndi is no short of a dance party. Taking a look at such functions, one immediately understands the Hikmah behind Allah’s (swt) commandments regarding segregated functions and limited interaction of the two genders! If the harmful effects of such occasions are pointed out, people immediately take refuge in the famous Hadeeth: “Deeds depend upon intention.” (Bukhari) Interestingly enough, the Hadeeth that “singing produces hypocrisy in the hearts” (Abu Dawood) is neither remembered nor quoted!

There is nothing wrong with celebrating happiness. Various Ahadeeth can be found, where Prophet (saw) allowed young girls to play tambourines and sing songs to celebrate. (Bukhari) However, no Hadeeth mentions girls and boys of all ages expressing their happiness by beating drums, blowing trumpets and dancing all night together!

Another nuisance is that of Jehaiz (dowry). Also here we fail to take a look at the concept behind this custom. It is a well known fact that in all Mushrik Mudhahib (idol worshippers) the value of a female is very low. In pre-Islamic days, daughters were buried alive and were considered a sign of misfortune. Jehaiz stems from the same concept. The value of the girl is so low that her parents have to bribe the groom to marry her! In Islam, however, it is the responsibility of the groom to provide to his wife all the things that we expect the girl’s parents to supply her with.

The more the Jehaiz, the more the Izzat (respect)? Wrong again! We are actually devaluing the girl even further. Our Deen does not permit to put any burden on the bride’s family. We quote the Seerah of our Prophet (saw) and say that he also gave Fatima (rtaf) Jehaiz (dowry). What most of us don’t know is that the Prophet (saw) bought the things for Fatima (rtaf) from Ali’s (rtam) Mahr money, as Ali (rtam) didn’t have a father, and Prophet (saw) was also his guardian. Agreed - parents can give to their daughter gifts for her personal use, for example, clothes, jewellery, make-up, etc. But personal belongings in no way include bedroom furniture, kitchen appliances, car or a sofa set for the drawing room! We see parents going bankrupt. Even today baby girls are buried alive, because their parents fear the time of their marriage!

What’s the harm in giving to our daughters what we want, if we can afford it? The harms are plenty. We must realize that the affording class is the trendsetter for the ones below. By giving Jehaiz we are fortifying an un-Islamic custom, the disadvantages and repercussions of which are far reaching. Besides we also demean our own daughter’s value and lure her husband to be and his family into greedy enticements.

Prophet’s (saw) Seerah tells us that getting married is the easiest of affairs. The steps involved are only three!


“Make this marriage publicly known, solemnize it in the mosques, and play tambourines in honour of it.” (Tirmidhi)

There are no such occasions as Baraath or Rukhsati in Islam. Nikah should be held in the Masjid, after which the groom should seek the permission of the bride’s father to take the bride home. The bride’s family does not have to host a wedding banquet in honour of the Nikah at all! The wedding party is the groom’s responsibility and is done in the form of a Valima.

Also Baraath stems from the Mushrik Aqeeda (idol worshipper’s belief). In the old days, it was common for the bride to be from one village and the groom from another. The groom and his family knew that on the way back from the Rukhsati, they would also have a lot of Jehaiz to carry. Since, there was no concept of cars or armed guards for protection, the family collected their relatives to make sure that they could protect the Jehaiz from robbers on the way back. Hence, the concept of Baraath emerged that Muslims choose to follow blindly! People argue: “What’s the harm?” Is it not enough harm that it’s not a Sunnah of our Prophet (saw) but a part of the Mushrik Aqeeda?


Mahr is given by the groom to his bride as a gift. Several Ahadeeth stress the importance of Mahr. The Prophet (saw) once said to a man: “The Mahr that you paid was for having sexual relations with her lawfully.” (Bukhari) Hence, Mahr differentiates Zina from Nikah!

Unfortunately, we have attached several fallacies to the concept. Men generally confuse Mahr with alimony, i.e., the money given by the husband to his wife after divorce! Mahr has nothing to do with divorce. It needs to be paid at the time of the Nikah to make the relations between a man and his wife Halaal.

The bride’s parents think that Mahr is the value the groom puts on their daughter. Hence, the higher the better! They fail to understand that Mahr is not open to negotiation. It’s not a transaction but a gift the amount of which should be decided by the husband on the basis of what he can afford, not what his father can afford.


At the time of some Companion’s marriage, the Prophet (saw) said: “Give a wedding banquet, even if with one sheep.” (Bukhari)

The Valima, hence, holds great significance in Islam. Several Ahadeeth show that the only wedding banquet held in a marriage is the one hosted by the groom himself. (Bukhari)
Alhumdulillah, Nikah, if carried out as per Sunnah, is very simple and easy. It only takes Nikah, Mahr and Valima banquet to complete the entire procedure! It is our culture that makes the whole marriage affair so much more complicated!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Taking control of your anger

Uzma Rizvi defines anger and suggests the ways for controlling this emotion.

Children retort back at their parents disrespectfully. Friends argue and insult each other over trivial matters. Drivers gesture and abuse other drivers for imagined or real traffic goof-ups. Scenarios, similar or worse, are repeated in private and public places every day. Why is it that we are often unable to control our anger, while our beloved Prophet (saw) kept calm in times of personal injury or disrespect?

Narrated by Anas bin Malik (rta): “While I was walking with the Prophet, who was wearing a Najrani outer garment with a thick hem, a Bedouin came upon the Prophet and pulled his garment so violently that I could recognize the impress of the hem of the garment on his shoulder, caused by the violence of his pull. Then, the Bedouin said: ‘Order for me something from Allah's fortune, which you have.’ The Prophet turned to him, smiled, and ordered that a gift be given to him.” (Bukhari)

We flare up at the slightest affront. Are we so preoccupied with our own self-worth that we cannot overlook personal inconvenience or harm, while being totally indifferent to any disobedience of Allah’s (swt) commands?

Our anger is focused on serving only our own petty purposes. In contrast is the way of Ali (rta), who during a fight was sitting on top of a disbeliever and was about to strike him dead, when the disbeliever spat in his face. Ali (rta) immediately stood up and spared him. When the perplexed man asked Ali (rta) for the reason, Ali (rta) replied that since he had no personal animosity towards him, had he killed him in a moment of anger for his spitting, he would have killed him to settle a personal score.

For learning to manage our anger, let’s first see, what anger is.

What is anger?

According to psychologists, it is a natural emotion. Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond calls it “the wish for harm or bad or evil to come upon someone, who - in your eyes - has injured you.”
Anger is an evil whisper of Shaitan; it pushes us to hurt others and make them afraid, or makes them reciprocate in anger.

The intensity of anger varies from person to person. Although anger is a natural emotion, it is dangerous to let it loose. Just as any habit or behavior pattern can be learnt or unlearnt, so can anger.


We must prepare to counter anger, when we are calm and composed. Since anger is one of the ways the Shaitan manipulates our Nafs, the first effective step is to become closer to Allah through the Quran and the Sunnah. The more we strive to please Allah, the more Taqwa (god-consciousness or fear of Allah (swt)) we will have. And the higher is a person’s Taqwa, the more mastery he has over his Nafs.


Remind yourself and others of the Quran and Hadeeths. Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that a man said to the Prophet (saw): “Advise me.” He said: “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet (saw) told him: “Do not become angry.” (Bukhari)

Anger-control plan

(1) Seek refuge with Allah (swt). The Prophet (saw) said: “If a man gets angry and says: ‘I seek refuge with Allah,’ his anger will go away.” (Mishkat)

(2) Silence. At any time, when you feel anger surging, slow down and start speaking very softly, slowly, and gently. Or keep quiet. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” (Ahmad)

(3) Forgiving completely. “…when they are angry, they forgive.” (Al-Shuraa 42:37) Developing the ability of forgiving needs practice. Often, forgiving completely is the only salve for pain caused by others. We can try to erase all the hurt from our hearts for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. Remind yourself of the worst and most embarrassing incident of your life, for which you would want to be forgiven. Our imperfection facilitates forgiving others.

(4) Developing self-control. Some argue that showing anger is a way to vent our emotions. However, most of the time when we express anger, it breeds more anger and makes us more agitated, instead of calming us down. If we control the initial attack of anger, it will become easier to stay collected.

Research has shown that the ‘anger reflex’ lasts about one second. Beyond that, the angry person is doing something else: choosing to punish another person or vent personal frustrations - or perhaps that's how he or she was taught to express anger.

(5) Think of your responsibilities. As good Muslims, we must care for the kind of environment we nurture for ourselves and for those around us. One angry person makes tense the whole house, office, or family. Sara let go of her anger habit by reminding herself that she is the model for her kids. Khalid let go of his terrible road-rage by realizing that his shouting and cursing could not be heard by other drivers and simply made him tense.

(6) Think positive. When someone hurts you, think of something good this person has done for you. When you feel anger at circumstances or at nothing in particular, count all your blessings and look at the people more disadvantaged than yourself. Remember that all bad and good time is the will of Allah (swt).

(7) Do the positive. When angry, stressed, or frustrated, perform Wudu, offer Salah, do Dhikr, read the Quran, take long deep breaths or exercise.

(8) Make Dua. We cannot achieve any higher trait without the help of Allah, so we must constantly ask Him to help us in controlling and managing our anger.

(9) Avoid making others angry. Controlling anger means not only to control your own anger but also to avoid behavior that causes other people to become angry or hostile.

Avoid phrases and words that anger others, such as “Who do you think you are?”, “You always do …”, “You never…”, etc. Speak softly and calmly.

Ridiculing a person, calling names or leg pulling is hurtful and makes people edgy. The Quran guides us: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.” (Al-Hujarat 49:11)

Do not discuss concerns and problems with people, when they or you are tired, preoccupied, in a bad mood, or running late.

Arguing even if you are right is not recommended in Islam.

Reduce stress-inducing factors. Do one thing at a time, if you feel burdened with work, learn to say ‘no’ if you lack time, or physical, monetary, or mental energy to do something.

As emotion, anger is a test for us. We must not let it overpower us. May Allah help us deal with anger in the best possible ways, so that we earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Ameen.