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, October 31, 2012

Misguide 'em young

Naureen Aqueel and Ayesha Nasir enumerate the techniques our greatest enemy Satan loves to use for misguiding the Muslim youth.

Youth may be crazy and wild, but they are also passionate, energetic and strong-willed. This is exactly what Satan realizes. Hence, he very cleverly schemes to add this ‘valuable human resource’ to his party. Because of strong emotions, desires and uncertainties that beset this stage of life, youth become vulnerable targets of Satan’s attacks. Therefore, it becomes ever more important for them to recognize some of the following avenues, by which Satan approaches them.

Deception: Sugar-coated Evil
Allah (swt) repeatedly mentions in the Quran that Satan deceives the mankind by making false promises and arousing false desires. He will promise you that no one will find out, if you sneak out; he will guarantee enjoyment, if you attend that college concert; he will promise you that there is nothing wrong with attending that dance party or hanging out with friends of the opposite gender. He will give you a thousand reasons, why it is just innocent fun, the ‘in-thing’, fashion and a means of getting a good message to different people. “Why not?” he’ll say, “you can do a lot of Dawah, while gossiping with non-Mahram friends or attending that concert!”

Allah (swt) describes these justification labels with the following words: “… but Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” (An-Nahl 16:63)

Fear of People
Satan threatens you with loss of friends and your standing in society, if you obey Allah (swt). What will people say, if you don the Hijab? What will your friends and relatives say, if you decline that invitation to your cousin’s Dholki? Won’t your peers make fun of you, if you don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend? Satan injects the fear of rejection and isolation, of being made fun of into the heart, feeding on it gradually, until it grows big enough to make you take several wrong steps, just because you are afraid of what people would say, if you didn’t.

Just Once
“What’s the harm of one puff of a cigarette? Or one puff of shisha? Once won’t harm you!”
How many times do you hear voices like these in your head? Put up your defenses – it's Satan clean and clear! One song, one movie… one, one! And you won’t even notice, when that one becomes a few dozens more, turning into a habit. Allah (swt) calls this gradual process ‘following the footsteps of Satan’.

Carpe Diem
“Seize the day! Enjoy life! Make the best of this moment! You live only once!” The theory behind this idea is that you should enjoy life to its fullest. Why? Because this is the only life you have! Wikipedia describes Carpe diem as ‘seize the day.’ Satan makes the youth feel that this is a time of enjoyment with no limits, and that this time will not come again, so one should enjoy it to the fullest. There’s plenty of time to be good in old age! Right? Wrong! 

Allah (swt) likes the worship in the young age the best. Among the seven under the shade of Allah’s (swt) throne on the Day of Judgment will be the person, who worshipped Allah (swt) in his youth. Besides, who can be sure, when this life may end? So why should we delay being good for the old age? 

Some of the other ways Satan approaches the youth includes causing one to forget Allah (swt) and other important things (Al-Mujadilah 58:19); causing one to backslide from their responsibilities, as he did to Muslims in the battle of Uhud (An-Nahl 3:155); inducing laziness; and causing one to dispute about Allah (swt) without knowledge (Al-Hajj 22:3). 

However, Allah (swt) in His infinite mercy has taught us many ways to avoid the snares of Satan. It’s important to know the ways he comes to you, and then to seek refuge against him in Allah (swt). Satan had said, when he was expelled from the heaven, that he would not be able to misguide Allah’s faithful servants. So take up your most powerful defenses from today - Taqwah and Dua!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Science is for everyone, kids included

What do science and play have in common? Neuroscientist Beau Lotto thinks all people (kids included) should participate in science and, through the process of discovery, change perceptions. 

He's seconded by 12-year-old Amy O'Toole, who, along with 25 of her classmates, published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, about the Blackawton bees project. It starts: "Once upon a time ... "

Why you should listen to him:

Beau Lotto is founder of Lottolab, a hybrid art studio and science lab. With glowing, interactive sculpture -- and old-fashioned peer-reviewed research--he's illuminating the mysteries of the brain's visual system.

"Let there be perception," was evolution's proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place--where what an organism's brain sees diverges from what is actually out there--is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. (Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.) The data captured isn't just discarded, either: it's put to good use in probing scientific papers, and sometimes in more exhibits.

At their home in London’s Science Museum, the lab holds "synesthetic workshops" where kids and adults make abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, and they host regular Lates--evenings of science, music and "mass experiments." Lotto is passionate about involving people from all walks of life in research on perception--both as subjects and as fellow researchers. One such program, called "i,scientist," in fact led to the publication of the first ever peer-reviewed scientific paper written by schoolchildren ("Blackawton Bees," December 2010). It starts, "Once upon a time ..."

These and Lotto's other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception--and our perceptions of what science can be.
"All his work attempts to understand the visual brain as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality." (British Science Association)

Why you should listen to her:

Amy O'Toole is a 12-year-old student with a peer-reviewed scientific publication under her belt. She took part in a participative science program led by Beau Lotto , called "i, scientist," which inspired a science experiment by a group of 26 primary school students in Blackawton, Devon, UK. O'Toole was never interested in science before this project, but now intends to study the human mind and body. The project led to the publication of the first ever peer-reviewed scientific paper written by schoolchildren ("Blackawton Bees,"Royal Society's Biology Letters, December 2010). It starts: "Once upon a time ... ."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Making kids money-wise

Umm Zakariya lists numerous advices for familiarizing your kids with the world of finance and the responsibilities that come along with it.

As parents, we want the best for our children. We want our children to be ‘happy’ and that usually translates into us plying our children with expensive clothes, toys, gadgets and paraphernalia, while giving into their every whim and desire. In pursuit of this ‘happiness’, we end up making our kids exceedingly materialistic - we either forget about or neglect educating them about the values of earning it, the judgement in spending it, and the virtues and avenues of saving it.

Here are some simple and easy ways of helping our children become money-wise, so that they are not only aware but also ready to face the real-world and its sharks, when the time comes!

Go Shopping Together
Take your children shopping. Let them understand the simple truth that we need money to buy things! Let children get an insight into how you select items based on affordability and that not everything one wants can be bought, as there is a budget for everything.

Set a Pocket Money/ Monthly Allowance
Allowance is an important tool you can use to form sturdy lifelong fiscal habits in your children. However, you need to guide them, on how to manage and spend, in order for them to become responsible money managers.

Let Them Earn
Another lesson you need to teach your children early on is the diligence that goes into earning money. And it goes without saying that the best and most effective way to teach the value of money is to let your child earn! Help your child set up a small business, such as making and selling greeting cards or jewellery, wrapping gifts, etc. There are countless ideas online. Alternatively, you can pay them for extra chores they do beyond their usual responsibilities. You could also put up a stall at any of the various charity Melas and let them help out.

Open a Savings Account
Open a child-friendly bank account for your children or let them open an account with you as the banker, if they are very young! Teach them to save their Eidi, other gift money and anything they earn for things they may want. You will see that they will appreciate what they buy from their own efforts more than anything you buy for them. This is also a good time to teach them about Riba (interest) and Allah’s (swt) commandments regarding it.  

Teach Them to Budget and Plan
Encourage your children to plan and budget. Help them to decide their short-term and long-term goals about the things they want to buy and how they can manage their money to achieve both. Also, teach children the importance of moderation. Help them understand that they should not be extravagant and must save what they can for the future.

It’s never too early to start! We must realize that unless we put the responsibility of decision making and accountability on their shoulders, our children will have to learn this the hard way in the real world. Help children gain these values early on by letting them make their own money-related decisions. Even if they end up making a loss, this is a lesson better learnt sooner than later!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Choose the right topic

Since the Eid keeps our readers busy in visiting relatives and friends, Hiba magazine brings you suggestions by Dr. Muhammad Abdur-Rahman al-Arifi on holding conversations with people.

People unanimously agree that one of the ways of attracting others is to choose the topic they would like to discuss. The Prophet (sa) took this into consideration, and his speech with young men would be different from that with the elderly, the women or the children.

Once, a young man Jabir (rta), travelled with the Prophet (sa) on the Chat ar-Riqa’ expedition, and, due to his poverty, he rode a very weak camel that could hardly walk.

The Prophet (sa) struck the camel gently with a whip, and it got up energetically. Jabir (rta) jumped on its back and went alongside the Prophet (sa). The Prophet (sa) turned to Jabir (rta) to converse. Jabir (rta), like other young men, was possibly concerned about marriage and livelihood:

The Prophet (sa) said, “O Jabir, did you get married?”
He said, “Yes, I did.”
The Prophet (sa) asked, “To a virgin or to a previously married woman?”
He replied, “Previously married.”
The Prophet (sa) was surprised at his choice, “Why didn’t you marry a virgin so that you could fondle one other?”
Jabir (rta) said, “O Messenger of Allah, my father was martyred on the day of Uhud and left nine (orphan) daughters, who are my nine sisters. I thus disliked to have another young girl of their age, and instead married someone older than them, so she could be like their mother.”

The Prophet (sa) realized that he had sacrificed his own pleasures for his sisters. Thus, the Prophet (sa) decided to tell an appropriate joke for a youth of his age. He (sa) said, “Perhaps, when we head for Madinah and stop over at Sarar (five km from Madinah), your wife will hear of our arrival and lay out the pillows.”

Jabir (rta) said, “Pillows?! By Allah, o Messenger of Allah, we do not have pillows!”
The Prophet (sa) said, “Insha’Allah, you will soon have pillows.”

The Prophet (sa) wished to help him, so he returned to Jabir (rta) and said, “Will you sell me your camel?” Jabir (rta) thought that the camel was his capital, and even though previously weak, it had now become strong! However, he thought it rude to reject the Prophet’s (sa) offer. Thus, he said, “Make an offer, o Messenger of Allah! How much will you pay?”
The Prophet (sa) said, “A Dirham.”
“A Dirham! You are cheating me, o Messenger of Allah,” replied Jabir (rta).

They continued raising the price, until it amounted to forty Dirhams, or an ounce of gold.
Jabir (rta) said, “Fine, but on the condition that I continue to ride it, until we reach Madinah.” The Prophet (sa) agreed.

When they reached Madinah, Jabir (rta) went to pray with the Prophet (sa) and tied his camel next to the mosque. When the Prophet (sa) came out of the mosque, Jabir (rta) said to him, “This is your camel, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet (sa) said, “O Bilal, give forty Dirhams to Jabir (rta) and more.” Bilal (rta) gave Jabir (rta) forty plus Dirhams. Jabir (rta) took the money and went away, thinking about what he could do with it.

The Prophet (sa) suddenly turned to Bilal (rta) and said, “O Bilal, take the camel and give it to Jabir.” Bilal (rta) took it and went to Jabir (rta), who was surprised and wondered, if the Prophet (sa) had cancelled the sale.
Bilal (rta) said, “Take the camel, O Jabir.”
Jabir (rta) asked, “Why? What’s the news?”
Bilal (rta) replied, “Allah’s Messenger has ordered me to give you the camel and the money.”

What wonderful manners! The Prophet (sa) chose an appropriate topic for conversation with the young man, and helped him with kindness and compassion.

(This story has been narrated in a Hadeeth recorded by Bukhari and Muslim.)

Adapted (with permission) from “Enjoy Your Life” published by “Darussalam”. Compiled for “Hiba”magazine by Bisma Ishtiaq.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A cup of coffee on the wall

Allah (swt) loves generosity and sincere care for the needy. Read this short story and ponder over its simple and straight forward message. 
I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, the city of lights and water. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat on at empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying: “Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.” We heard this order with rather interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying ‘A Cup of Coffee’.

While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, two on the table and one on the wall. They had two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. Also this time the waiter did the same - he pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying ‘A Cup of Coffee’.
It seemed that this gesture was a norm in this place. However, it was something unique and perplexing for us. Since we had nothing to do with the matter, we finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.

After a few days, we again had a chance to go to this coffee shop. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man entered. The way this man was dressed did not match either the standard or the atmosphere of this coffee shop. Poverty was evident from the look on his face. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said to the waiter: “One cup of coffee from the wall.” The waiter served coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity. The man had his coffee and left without paying. We were amazed to watch all this, when the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the dustbin. Now, it was no surprise for us – the matter was very clear. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town welled up our eyes with tears.

Coffee is neither a need in our society nor a necessity of life for us. The point to note is that when we take pleasure in any blessing, maybe we also need to think about those people, who appreciate that specific blessing as much as we do but cannot afford to have it.

Note the character of this waiter, who is playing a consistent and generous role to get the communication going between the affording and the needy with a smile on his face.

Ponder upon this man in need… he enters the coffee shop, without having to lower his self-esteem… he does not need to ask for a free cup of coffee… without asking or knowing about the one, who is giving this cup of coffee to him, he only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.

When we analyze this story and its characters, we need to remember the role played by the wall that reflects the generosity and care of the dwellers of this town.

Courtesy: Al-Huda International, Canada.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mutton Chops

Mutton chops ½ kg
Capsicum chopped 1
Onion chopped 1
Yogurt 250 gm
Ginger garlic paste 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves as required
Oil 4 – 5tbsp
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder ½ tsp
Water ½ cup
Green chilies few

  1. Heat 4 – 5 tbsp oil in a pan, add 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste and ½ kg mutton chops. Fry well till its color is changed and water dries.
  2. Now add 1 chopped onion, 250 gm yogurt, salt to taste, a few chopped green chilies and ½ cup water. Cover and simmer on low flame for 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Then remove lid, add 1 chopped capsicum, ½ tsp black pepper powder and chopped coriander leaves. Fry very well.
  4. Now dish it out and serve hot.
(Recipe by Chef Zakir)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hospitality towards pilgrims

Ofaira Hussain examines the cultural practices associated with the Hajj and encourages pilgrims to focus solely on accomplishing the pillar of their faith. 

Hajj was performed in Makkah even before the advent of Islam. It was supposedly done as a Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (as) but was more of a business cum social event rather than an act of worship for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. However, one quality of the Arabs that withstood the test of time was their hospitality towards the pilgrims. 

The tribe of Quraish, who were the custodians of the Kabah, would go to great lengths in providing food and lodging for the visitors. Trade fairs were organized. A lot of care went into the entertainment and pleasure of the pilgrims. So much so that the pilgrims spent more time in these trade and fun fairs than in performing the Hajj rituals.

The situation is not very different today. Every year, the Saudi government works hard to cater to millions of pilgrims. The pilgrims themselves shop before Hajj in Makkah and Madinah for relatives at home. Some Hajjis consider it essential to buy gold for family members! Prayer mats and beads are a must on the shopping list.

As shopping in Saudi riyals is expensive, some people have come up with an ingenious plan to buy presents in their own countries and distribute them after returning from Hajj, implying that they are from Saudi Arabia. Bringing home deception from Hajj is certainly not a wise option. In some families, relatives give money to the departing pilgrims to help them in shopping for gifts for them, when they return home.

These cultural practices have overburdened us. We don’t find any record of how the Prophet (sa) greeted the pilgrims or how he was greeted after his Hajj; however, it surely is against the spirit of Islam to put undue pressure on the people.

Islam teaches us that it is good to exchange gifts. However, making it obligatory on specific occasions takes away the spirit of giving presents. Not only does the pilgrim waste precious time thinking and shopping for the right gift for everyone, he ends up compromising his Ibaadat for shopping. The pilgrimage of a lifetime becomes like any other vacation. 

After the Hajj begins the party season. Every family member and close friend is obliged to give a party in honour of the returning Hajji. The pilgrim must also be given a gift in accordance to the status and closeness of relation. All this hoopla for a compulsory obligation - the fifth pillar of Islam? An obligation that is purely to pay homage to the greatness of Allah (swt) ends up in projection and celebration of the Hajjis. These parties are a burden on the relatives, especially if their budget does not allow it.

If we want to avoid this custom, we should inform our family and friends, before proceeding for Hajj. A Hajji should spend all his time in Ibaadat. He should try to make the most of this opportunity to cleanse his soul and build his relationship with Allah (swt). On his return, he can bring Zamzam water, which should be an ideal gift for all the near and dear ones. If someone insists on a Dawat or gift, then he should accept it with humility, knowing in his heart that he has only performed an obligation by Allah’s (swt) Will and Mercy. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education

Salman Khan talks about how and why he created the remarkable Khan Academy, a carefully structured series of educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other subjects. He shows the power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script - give students video lectures to watch at home, and do "homework" in the classroom with the teacher available to help.


Why you should listen to him:

In 2004, Salman Khan, a hedge fund analyst, began posting math tutorials on YouTube. Six years later, he has posted more than 2.000 tutorials, which are viewed nearly 100,000 times around the world each day.

Salman Khan is the founder and faculty of the Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) - a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. It now consists of self-paced software and, with over 1 million unique students per month, the most-used educational video repository on the Internet (over 30 million lessons delivered to-date). All 2000+ video tutorials, covering everything from basic addition to advanced calculus, physics, chemistry and biology, have been made by Salman.

Prior to the Khan Academy, Salman was a senior analyst at a hedge fund and had also worked in technology and venture capital. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an M.Eng and B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, and a B.S. in mathematics from MIT.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Faith and the Hill

Ramla Akhter shows us, how a little faith takes us a long way.

Excerpt from an e-mail to a dear old (non-Muslim) friend, who has been a great listener of my life's stories over the years.

By the way, there is an athletic ritual called Sa'ee' in Umra (in Masjid-al-Haraam, Makkah). The meaning of the word Sa'ee' in Arabic and Urdu is ‘effort, endeavor’. It's a 3.15 km run between two hills, now paved with marble. So one actually paces up and down an air-conditioned gallery 7 times back and forth between the two hills of Safa and Marwa. It is to commemorate Hajer's (as) run between the two hills in search of water and food for her Son Ismail (as).

It's a tough run after other Umra rituals. While I was doing it the second time in three days, I gave up after the second round. My right foot is bent inwards due to years of back injury and strain. I almost thought of the wheel chair rides that are available. (The ritual is a must, of course. And one can't quit in the middle and go home. Fortunately, we can rest as long as we want anywhere on the route and on the two hills.) I sat down at Safa, the first hill, and cried. You can cry without shame in that place. People don't really notice. And they think you're crying for the love of Allah (swt). You know, I cried because I felt very disabled. Then I realized that Hajer (as) didn't run here in Nike joggers or in an air-conditioned gallery.

That's when the lesson of that ritual became clear to me: MAKE AN EFFORT. The story goes that Hajer's (as) effort was rewarded by the miracle of the issuance of water from between the hills - now known as the water of Zamzam. So, after a half hour of crying and massaging my feet and back, I got up and walked. Then I remembered something I read in "7 Habits": just after an athlete has reached the limit of pain, she / he is rewarded with a tremendous release of energy that compensates for that muscle ache. I gave it a try. I limped. It is ugly to have to limp, when you're so young - and it's hard, when the pain is just jolt-jolt-jolting through the body. (I guess no one can know a backache and a headache, until they have one.)

Then, I noticed a 70-year-old Pakistani man pushing his wife in a wheel chair. And I visualized these mountains, 1000s of years ago, naked, hot and scorched. And I imagined I was running between them barefoot, looking for water. I passed up the temptation of the many sprays and coolers of Zamzam that line the corridor.

The effect that this visualization had on me was stunning. Suddenly, my pain was much, much easier. My feet were actually thankful (the entire Umra is done barefoot.) I also felt that making an effort is something that comes with, well, effort. I realized that I have so many gifts as a person - hardly anything has been an effort for ME - though it might have awed others. It was finally time to test my character.

There are seven rounds to be made between the two hills. I had unbearable pain by the fourth round, to the extent that my mind was blacking out. But I held on to Stephen Covey's wisdom, and my life's wisdom, if any, and the visualization of Hajer (as). Perhaps the blacking out helped, as I imagined a huge rock in the place of the Ka'aba, and the real scene disappeared. In my memory, it still seems that I ran on bare, sun-hot rocks.

My foot was slightly bent inwards, and whenever I walked fast, there was a feeling of a tight string about to break from my back to my toe. This has prevented me from extensive walking for the past few years. By the fifth round, while I was struggling to straighten my long-bent foot by placing it firmly and evenly on the ground, something happened.

My mind was really blacking out to the extent that I felt I had completely lost it. For a split second, the pain was gone. And suddenly there was a click-click sound. Some long-displaced bone just fell in place. My foot was okay.

Do you remember the Forrest Gump's moment-of-release from his leg braces? It just happened! My foot just fell in place! What I read in "7 Habits" about an actual athletic phenomenon really happened. There was suddenly a tremendous rush of energy, and whatever was blocking energy (blood and oxygen to be exact and more scientific) just let go of its ugly grip.

It was one of the deepest emotional moments of my life. It happened, and I had no one to tell it to. I walked on. Now, whenever I have an "uphill" task ahead of me, I remember the little lesson of Sa'ee and of having a little but helpful amount of faith.

A little faith in a better tomorrow makes the present a lot easier, for us and for our loved ones. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What are we sowing?

Muhammad Al Shareef brings home a simple law of nature - do not neglect or hasten your garden, if you want the fruit to be sweet and ripe.

We reap what we plant. In a far away land, a long time ago, a boy was born blind. His widowed mother - the good Muslimah that she was - did not lose hope in her Dua and pray she did, continuously. A few years later, the boy's sight returned. Alhamdulillah.

She realized that her village was not befitting for her son to excel in Islamic education, so with her son in hand, she migrated to Makkah. There she saw that he was being instructed in Quran and Hadeeth, the latter becoming the young man's focus. He went out far and wide collecting Hadeeth and compiled a Hadeeth book that sits next to the Quran in authenticity, forgetting not his mother that had raised him well. His mother named him Muhammad ibn Ismail, and many of us know him today as Al-Imam Al-Bukhari.

Consequently, how often is it that a farmer plants wheat and it comes out as a sunflower? You may say, never! For how can someone farm the seed of one plant and expect some other plant to grow. It just does not happen. Similarly, some parents leave their children waddling in the mud of television, music, movies and disbelieving friends. Then when the child reaches grade 12 and asks to go to the final dance with a girlfriend, or when he enters university and stops praying, or when he gets married to a Kafir and himself becomes one, then the parents say: "What happened?"

It is the harvest of what we planted. If we do not raise our children to be obedient, where do we expect them to learn? If we do not practice Islam ourselves, who will be our children's example? How do you teach a child to wake up for Fajr, when he sees his own father and mother sleeping in, day after day? You may ask - how do I raise my children to be good Muslims, obedient to their parents? Consider the following:

Firstly: Be wise - prioritize. Children will only hold in high esteem what parents give significance to. If straight A's in school, achievements in sports and laurels for other extracurricular activities is what mom and dad will aim for their child and provide grounds to acquire, that is just what the child will earn. If parents pay no heed to their kid's spiritual development alongside, they cannot expect him / her to turn into a saint and obey Allah (swt) unconditionally. Simply because it was never a priority set out for him in his early life.

Hisham ibn Abd Al-Malik missed a son of his during Jumuah one week. When he met him later, he asked him: "Why did you miss Jumuah?" His son replied: "My donkey couldn't make the trip." His father then said: "Couldn't you have walked!" For an entire year after that, Hisham ibn Abd Al-Malik made his son walk to Jumuah.

Secondly: The piety of the father and mother reaches the children. In the Quran, Allah (swt) recalls for us the story of Khidr (AS), and how he rebuilt a wall for two orphans: "And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town. Under it was a treasure belonging to them and their father was a righteous man..." (Al-Kahf 18:82)

Allah (swt) protected these orphans because of the piety of their father. In Tafseer, it is said that it was their grandfather seven generations back!

Sa'eed ibn Jubayr said: "I often lengthen my Salah for the sake of my son, perhaps Allah (swt) may protect him (because of it)."

The bitter pill is that if we want to reform our children, we start fixing ourselves first. When we shout at them with clenched fists, a throbbing pulse and a foul language sprinkled with accusations, what kind of a role model do we present? An immature adult, who clearly has things out of control but wants to show his kids who is the boss?

Sow the seeds of patience, forgiveness and understanding at home. Quit being careless, judgmental or extremely uptight about trivial stuff. Insha'Allah, you will see spring in bloom. Just remember the law of nature - what you sow is what you reap. And no harvest comes overnight. It only appears in time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Life With the Ahmad Family: There's no Such Thing as a Bad Gift!

In this episode, the Ahmad family discovers that the value of a gift is in the eyes of the receiver. What's junk to you, might be gold to the one who needs it.

(Please, click to enlarge)

The Ahmad family comic for Muslim children: There's no Such Thing as a Bad Gift!
Don't forget to leave some feedback in the comments below!
To see other comics of The Ahmad Family, please, click here
(Absar Kazmi may be contacted at: absar.kazmi@gmail.com)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Victims of Discontent

Arsalaan Ahmad Siddiqi guides us towards achieving satisfaction within our hearts - the riches of self-contentment.

Aamir, a middle-manager at a financial institution, complains of a measly salary compared to the workload he is entrusted with. Nafisa, a housewife, is livid due to her husband's lack of interest in the household matters.

In these times of unbridled materialism, we are guided by our earthly possessions and seldom worry about the permissibility in faith of a particular course of action. What was unthinkable a few years ago is very much Halal these days. Take interest, for example - a myriad of bankers justify a conventional bank-based income by virtue of new fangled logic. Usury, they say, is what was disallowed in Islam, and not interest, which is a mere profit for the use of money.

Ironically, the type of people described above are the ones most discontent with their existence. If we look deeper into the causes of such discontent, Islam offers many answers. Prophet Muhammad (sa) provided us a role model in terms of contented living. There were instances, when the Prophet (sa) survived on a few dates. Yet, he never showed discontent with his fate and exhorted the faithful not to worry too much about "why this has not been given to us by Allah?"

Amr bin Taghlib has narrated: "Some property or something was brought to Allah's Apostle (sa) and he distributed it. He gave to some men and ignored the others. Later, he got the news of his being admonished by those, whom he had ignored. So he glorified and praised Allah and said: ‘Amma ba'du. By Allah, I may give to a man and ignore another, although the one whom I ignore is more beloved to me than the one whom I give. But I give to some people, as I feel that they have no patience and no contentment in their hearts, and I leave those who are patient and self-contented with the goodness and wealth, which Allah has put into their hearts, and ‘Amr bin Taghlib is one of them.'" Amr added: "By Allah! Those words of Allah's Apostle (sa) are more beloved to me than the best red camels." (Bukhari)

Islam does not discourage ambition per se. However, it is disallowed for us to reach a state of being constantly dissatisfied with our present and intoxicated with achieving more than our peers / neighbours / colleagues / relatives.

What medicine does Islam prescribe for avoiding such a state of discontent? Through His Messenger (sa), Allah (swt) has taught us ways to cope with the disease of discontent - a disease, which cripples the spirit. Remembering Allah (swt) is the cure for the constant human complaining. Allah (swt) says: "Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah: verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest." (Ar-Ra'd 13:28)

Narrated by Abu Huraira (rta): "The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Riches does not mean having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment.'" (Bukhari)

In a world full of tantalizing wealth and tempting positions of power, it is quite natural to get swayed in this sea of inebriated desire to acquire more, which always seems elusive. 

May Allah (swt) protect us all from the constant desires of our Nafs, make us do more Dhikr, and be content within ourselves. A Muslims' focus is on the Hereafter - discontent with our worldly lives will make us lose focus from our primary goal.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

Flour 150 gm
Egg 1/2 (half)
Butter 125 gm
Icing sugar 100 gm
Corn flour 1 tbsp
Milk powder 2 tbsp
Baking powder ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Cocoa powder 2 tbsp
Chocolate chips 100 gm

  1. In a bowl, mix together 150 gm flour, half egg, 125 gm butter, 100 gm icing sugar, 1 tbsp corn flour, 2 tbsp milk powder, ¼ tsp baking powder and salt to taste.
  2. Now knead to dough and keep it aside.
  3. Divide dough into two parts, mix one part with 2 tbsp cocoa powder, knead it very well.
  4. Join both parts of the dough and roll.
  5. Cut into rounds and put on a greased oven proof tray.
  6. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Lastly bake in a preheated oven on 200 degrees for 6 – 7 minutes.
(Recipe by Chef Zakir)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The virtues of the first ten days of Dhul Hijja

As the blessed first ten days of Dhul Hijja arrive, Hiba Magazine encourages the readers to reap the most possible blessings Allah (swt) has spread in front of us at this time of the year.  

“Indeed from the favours of Allah (swt) is that He made for His righteous servants fixed days/time periods, in which they can increase in the performance of righteous actions. And amongst these fixed days/time periods are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja. Indeed, the virtues of these first days have been stated in the Quran and the Sunnah.”

Allah (swt) said: “By the dawn; By the ten nights (i.e., the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijj).” (Al-Fajr, 1-2)

Imam Ibn Katheer said that the intended meaning behind this verse is the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja, as stated by Bukhari, Ibn Abbaas, Ibn Zubayr, Mujaahid and others.

According to Ibn Abbaas (rta), the Messenger (sa) said: “There are not any days in which righteous actions are done that are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” They said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, not even Jihad in Allah’s cause?” He said, “Not even Jihad in Allah’s cause, except for a man, who left out with his self and his wealth, and he did not return with either.”

Allah (swt) said: “And mention the Name of Allah on appointed days (i.e., 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th day of Dhul-Hijja).” (Al-Hajj, 82)

 Ibn Abbaas (rta) said: “They are the (first) ten days.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)

According to Ibn Umar (rta), the Messenger (sa) said: “There are no days greater in the (sight) of Allah, nor in which righteous actions are more beloved to Him than these (first) ten days; so increase Tahleel (i.e., Laa-ilaaha-ilal-laah), Takbeer (i.e., Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (i.e., Al-Hamdulil-laah).” (Ahmad)

And Saeed Ibn Jubayr, who narrated the aforementioned Hadeeth of Ibn Abbaas (rta) used to strive earnestly, when the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja would start. (Reported by Daarimee)

Ibn Hajr said in “Al-Fath”: “What is apparent is that the reason the first ten days of Dhul Hijja are distinguished (with excellence) is because of what it gathers of the main foundational acts of worship, and they are: Salah, fasting, charity and Hajj, which are not found in others than them.”

The recommended acts of worship in these first ten days

(1) Salah: Give more emphasis and concern to the obligatory prayers and increase in optional prayers, because the prayer is amongst the greatest means of seeking nearness to Allah (swt).

(2) Fasting: Fasting is included amongst the righteous deeds.  Imaam Nawawi said that fasting in the first days of Dhul-Hijja is strongly recommended.

(3) The Takbeer, Tahleel and Tahmeed: Ibn Umar (rta) reports: “Increase in Tahleel, Takbeer and Tahmeed in it (i.e., during these days).”  Imam Al-Bukhari said: “Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah (rta) used to go to the market place during the first days of Dhul-Hijja whilst uttering the Takbeer, and the people also used to do so alongside them.”

How is the Takbeer performed?

.الله أكبر. الله أكبر. الله أكبر. لا إله إلا الله. والله أكبر. الله أكبر. الله أكبر ولله الحمد

(4) Fasting on the day of Arafah: Fasting on the day of Arafah is emphasized because the Messenger (sa) has said that the one, who fasts the day of Arafah, will receive from Allah (swt) the forgiveness of his (minor) sins of the previous year and the year to come. (Muslim)  However, as for the one who is physically present at Arafah, it is disliked that he should fast, because the Messenger (sa) stood at Arafah, whilst he was not fasting.

How should Muslims approach these days of goodness?

Muslims should approach these first days of goodness with sincere repentance to Allah (swt), keeping away from sins and disobedience, because sins prevent a person from receiving the favours of His Lord and veils his heart from his Protector – Allah (swt).

Likewise, a person should approach these days with all good deeds.  He should strive to benefit from them by performing deeds that are pleasing to Allah.  Allah (swt) said:

“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e., Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).” (Al-Ankaboot, 69)

Brothers and sisters in Islam! Let us be eager to take benefit from the ten days of Dhul Hijja before they elapse, leaving us with regrets only. We ask Allah (swt) to benefit us and yourselves in these days of goodness; and we ask Him (the Most High) to aid us to obey Him and perform acts of worship for His sake.

This article was abridged and paraphrased from an article posted in the following link:  http://www.sahab.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=132815