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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken Shashlik


Ingredients:
Boneless chicken 1/2 kg
Capsicums 2
Onions 2
Tomatoes 2
Shashlik sticks 4-6
Tomato ketchup 1/2 cup
Tamarind juice 1/2 cup
Red chili powder 1 tsp
All spice powder 1 tsp
Chaat Masala 1 tsp
Garlic powder  tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Mustard paste 1 tbsp
Ginger-garlic paste 2 tsp
Green chili paste 1/2 tsp
Black pepper 1/2 tsp
Vinegar 2 tbsp
Water 2 tbsp
Oil 4 tbsp

Method:
  1. Marinate 1/2 kg boneless chicken with 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste, 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp all spice powder, 1 tbsp mustard paste, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 capsicums, 2 onions, 2 tomatoes and 1 tsp Chaat Masala.
  2. Now place them on 4-6 shashlik sticks.
  3. Heat sizzling platter and place shashlik sticks on them and cook till golden brown.
  4. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup tomato ketchup, 1/2 cup tamarind juice, 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp green chili paste and 1/2 tsp salt.
  5. Pour the sauce on the shashlik sticks and serve.
(Recipe by Chef Rida Aftab)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Overcoming the roadblocks to Qanat



Tasneem Vali offers practical tips for attaining a peaceful and satisfied soul.

Dawn is that part of the day, when you notice the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. Allah (swt) in His all encompassing Wisdom tells us: “(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, And enter you My Paradise!’" (Al-Fajr 89:27-30)

The believer’s soul is at peace with its Lord, certain of its way, confident of its fate. It is a soul satisfied in all eventualities, happiness or affliction, wealth or poverty.

The dilemma that we face is how to be the soul that is ‘in complete rest and satisfaction’. The answer is simple and logical. We need a wake-up call from our worries about money, jobs, kids and family; in fact, all the things that tie us to this world obstruct us from attaining true contentment.

There are four simple rules for bringing back contentment into our lives and overcoming any roadblocks to Qanaah (being content with what you have):

(1) Free your heart from hatred. The Prophet (sa) said: “By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you submit. You will not submit until you love one another. Greet each other with peace and you will love one another. Beware of hatred, for it is the razor. I do not say it shaves hair, but it shaves away the religion.” (Bukhari) It’s as simple as that - submit yourself to Allah (swt).

(2) Free your mind from worries. Only Allah (swt) knows the precise moment, when we will take our final breath on this earth. “And no person can ever die except by Allah’s Leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in (this) world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.” (Aali-Imran 3:145)  

Part of our belief in Allah (swt) requires us to have absolute certainty about Qadr, so why worry? We will get only what Allah (swt) has predetermined for us - just work hard to please Allah (swt).

(3) Live simply (Zuhud - abstinence from the greed of this world). Abu'l-Abbas as-Sa'idi said: “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: 'O Messenger of Allah! Guide me to such an action, that when I do it, Allah will love me and the people will love me.’ He said: ‘Be detached from this world, and then Allah will love you, and do not be attracted to what people have, and then the people will love you.’”  (Ibn Majah)

(4) Give more and expect less. Give freely of what you have - time, money, knowledge and energy - but expect a return only from Allah (swt). This world is not designed to be the venue for final judgments; accept Allah’s (swt) wisdom and defer to His logic and commands.

Getting rid of the roadblocks to Qanaah is your decision. Are you going to get up each morning submitting to Allah (swt) or are you going to sulk in bed, going over all your worries? Use each day wisely and hoard good deeds for the Hereafter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What does your future depend on?

Frank Tyger: "Your future depends on many things, but mostly yourself." The most important words of personal responsibility are as follows:

The 10 most important words:
I won't wait for others to take the first step.
The 9 most important words:
If it is to be, it's up to me.
The 8 most important words:
If not me, who? If not now, when?
The 7 most important words:
Let me take a shot at it.
The 6 most important words:
I will not pass the buck.
The 5 most important words:
You can count on me.
The 4 most important words:
 It IS my job!
The 3 most important words:
Just do it!
The 2 most important words:
I will.
The most important word:
Me

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Palestinian representative's speech at the UN

Even though the authenticity of this quote is uncertain, it does have a worthy point to make. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Concept of fun

Islam and fun? How does that go together? Sumaira Dada discusses the Islamic etiquette for celebrations.

Some people prefer to shun all forms of enjoyment, labeling them as useless pastimes of this world; others believe that as long as they are observing basic religious rituals, they are free to lead their lives as they wish.

Sparkling lights, bright clothes and the sound of laughter bring to mind a scene of joy and celebration. Mouth-watering food, tasty desserts and singing and dancing complete the picture. However, sadly, in the merriment and gaiety we often forget Allah’s (swt) pleasure and exceed all limits of decency and moderation prescribed by Shariah. Contrary to what most people would think, piety is not the opposite of gaiety; rejoicing does not have to be un-Islamic; and most importantly, you can be a pious Muslim and yet be a source of cheerfulness, liveliness and joy to those around you.

To become such a Muslim, it is imperative to know what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) tell us about celebrating our moments of happiness.

Why do people celebrate?

A look at the festivals throughout the world gives us three major reasons for celebrations. Firstly, many people celebrate the change of seasons - Hindus, for instance, celebrate Holi and Basant at the onset of Spring. Secondly, there are those, who celebrate the birth of gods and goddesses - for example, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia to honour Juno, the guardian of women and marriage. And thirdly, yet others celebrate historical events - for example, former Allied nations celebrate the Armistice Day as a reminder of victory against Germany and the Russian and Ottoman Empires in World War I.

Islamic celebrations, on the other hand, are not pinned down by the changes of seasons, or regional and local events. In fact, the two Islamic festivals (Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha) are not related either to the Prophet’s (sa) life or any important victories in the Islamic history. Instead, these celebrations are deeply-rooted in the message brought to this world by the Prophet (sa). Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated after the month of Ramadan in gratefulness to Allah (swt) for having been able to complete a month of fasting. Eid-ul-Adha marks the Hajj rites and reminds Muslims of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as). Rejoicing on these days becomes an act of worship, for the Prophet (sa) has said: “Indeed, for every nation there is a day of rejoicing, and this is our day of rejoicing.” (Bukhari)

Islam encourages rejoicing

According to a famous saying, “variety is the spice of life.” Therefore, it is but natural that we need some change in our daily lives for feeling refreshed and energized. Since Islam is a Deen that gives us guidelines on leading a natural life, it does not ignore this important aspect of human existence. Far from merely allowing celebration, Islam encourages rejoicing.  

Allah (swt) says regarding the revelation of the Quran: “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Quran); - therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Yunus 10:58)

Furthermore, at another point in the Quran, Allah (swt) asks the Prophet (sa) primarily, and the believers on a secondary level to proclaim the blessings that He has bestowed:
“And proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).”
(Ad-Duha 93:11)

Islamic celebrations and recreational activities

Apart from the two Eids, personal and national occasions also serve as permissible reasons to celebrate. Such personal occasions as marriage, the birth of a child, getting a new job, moving to a new house or getting a new car are some occasions for celebration. For young children, the starting of the recitation of the Quran and the completion of its recitation can also be reasons for celebration. Celebrating of such national occasions as the Independence Day also reminds us of the blessings of Allah (swt) granted in the form of a an independent land where Islam can be practiced freely.

In a wider context, we find that Islam allows picnics, competitions and meaningful vacations. Prophet Yaqub’s (as) children, for example, went for a picnic, while the Companions of the Prophet (saw) engaged in dueling, camel-racing and archery - the Prophet (sa) even awarded prizes to the winners.      

Meaningful vacations are also encouraged: “So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).” (An-Nahl 16:36)

Etiquette of celebration

Some of the encouraged etiquettes of celebration are exchanging of gifts, singing, reciting of good poetry and indulging in good humour.

Concerning gifts, we know from Aisha (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to accept gifts and gave something in return. (Bukhari) In a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta), we find the Prophet (sa) advising Muslim women: “O Muslim women! None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her female neighbour, even if it were the trotters of the sheep (fleshless part of the legs).” (Bukhari)

From Ahadeeth we know that singing on joyful occasions is also permitted.

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) came to my house, while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (sa) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then, Abu Bakr (rta) came and spoke to me harshly, saying: ‘Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (saw)?’ Allah’s Messenger (sa) turned his face towards him and said: ‘Leave them.’ When Abu Bakr (rta) became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left.” (Bukhari)

Al-Rubayyi bint Muawwidh reports: “The Prophet (sa) visited me on the night of my wedding, sitting not far from me. We had a number of maids playing the tambourine and singing poems in praise of my people, who were killed in the Battle of Badr. One of them said in her singing: ‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen in future.’ The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not repeat this, but continue with what you were saying earlier.’” (Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawood)

In the Prophet’s (sa) life, we find instances of good fun and humour. For example, we find him being playful with his wives.

Once, Aisha (rta) was talking very boldly with the Prophet (sa). Abu Bakr (rta) happened to come, and he grew so angry at his daughter’s behaviour that he wanted to beat her, but the Prophet (saw) prevented him. After Abu Bakr (rta) had left, he remarked: “See, how I saved you.” (Abu Dawood)

Limits set by Allah (swt)

Rejoicing and fun without limits is very likely to make harmless celebrations a source of worry and burden. Our beautiful Deen gives us guidelines regarding the boundaries that must be kept. Dr. Mahmood Ghazi, former president of the International Islamic University (Islamabad), highlights three major factors that need to be considered when rejoicing: modesty, moderation and keeping in mind the basic objectives of Shariah.

Modesty

According to Imran bin Hussain (rta), the Prophet (sa) highlighted the excellence of modesty: “Haya (modesty, bashfulness, self-respect) does not bring anything except good.” (Bukhari)

Contrary to general understanding, modesty does not merely refer to an outward expression of chastity. Although codes of conduct regarding proper dress and interaction with the opposite gender are important, they are not the be-all and the end-all. Modesty should be entrenched in one’s nature, which is most apparent through body language and conversation. If properly dressed girls are singing lewd songs or dancing in an obscene manner, it cannot be called modest behaviour.

Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated (on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta)) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has written for Adam’s son his share of adultery, which he commits inevitably. The adultery of the eyes is the sight (to gaze at a forbidden thing), the adultery of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes and desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it.” (Bukhari)

Moderation

Allah (swt) has asked the believers not to be wasteful or extravagant: “O Children of Adam! ...eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Spending on permissible acts beyond what is necessary constitutes extravagance, while squandering wealth or any other blessing of Allah (swt) would mean spending on what Allah (swt) has prohibited, even if it means spending only a rupee. In the latter case, one can seek a scholar’s help to understand what is allowed, while in the former situation, one has to decide subjectively, what is necessary and what goes beyond that.

Being mindful of Shariah objectives

While celebrating, we have to consider the five basic objectives of Shariah, namely, the protection of life, wealth, honour, mind/sense and Deen. For instance, if rejoicing results in the loss of innocent lives, delay or abandonment of obligatory acts of worship, then such activities would not be in line with the objectives of Shariah. At the same time, however, cultural traditions that are not based on polytheism, do not result in disunity among the Muslims and do not exceed the limits prescribed by the Shariah are permissible. For instance, in Morocco pigeon’s soup is served at Iftar time during Ramadan, while Iftar in Pakistan would be incomplete without the traditional Pakoras. Such cultural traditions conform to the above guidelines.

We must also remember that as Muslims we have a distinct identity and culture - we must not fall prey to an inferiority complex which results in copycat behaviour. The Prophet (saw) has said: “Whoever imitates a nation (in its ways and culture) becomes one of them.” (Abu Dawood)

Obtaining Allah’s (swt) blessings

Aligning our special occasions of rejoicing with the above principles will make our celebrations not only memorable, but also deserving of Allah’s (swt) blessing and mercy. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom for making our celebrations a source of happiness for all those around us, Ameen.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Food Matters: You are what you eat!

Allah (swt) has instructed us to take care of our bodies the best way we can. In fact, on the day of resurrection, our body parts will testify, as to how we have treated them. Thus, it is of utmost importance for Muslims to care for their health and meet the needs of their bodies adequately. 

Don't miss the opportunity to watch for free online "Food Matters" film about the problems of modern nutrition and healthcare. The free viewing is available only from November 21st to 30th, 2012.

Follow the link to watch the film: http://foodmatters.tv/screening-event-cinema

Visit also Food Matters official website (http://www.foodmatters.tv/) for more information on how to stay fit and healthy the natural way.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tips for Teaching Quran to Young Children

Sharda Mohammed, from GrowMamaGrow, shares excellent tips for instilling the love for the Quran in the hearts of children.

The responsibility of teaching young children the Quran is a heavy weight on my shoulders. I imagine most Muslim parents feel this way.

Part of my discomfort is that we are a non-Arabic speaking family. For years both my husband and I have struggled to memorize the Quran. I remind my self daily, despite the circumstances, that every Muslim is obliged to make attempts to learn and understand the book of Allah (swt) in the best way possible. I tell my five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter that Allah loves it when we recite the Quran and memorize it well. I remind them that the Angels of Dhikr (angels that come to enjoy the Remembrance of Allah) come and circle around them. It makes them feel very special.

Before I had children, I asked many families how they taught their children the book of Allah (swt). I quickly found out that there is no set way; it all depends on your child and their personal learning style. I’ve put together some guiding principles that seem to work for us so far.

1. Keep it short and regular. I start with no more than 5 minutes.
2. Keep the mood loving. Give your child lots of hugs and cuddles.
3. Let them know that something very special will follow quran time, like a good story or playtime with mom.
4. Play Quran softly in the home during playtime, morning routine, end-of-night routine. Turn off the TV.
5. Recite a quick surah with them before any new activity.
6. Recite short quran surahs in the car on the way to school.
7. Recite short quran surahs with them while you lay them down to bed.
8. Aim to do two short Quran sessions a day. This way if you miss one, you won’t feel badly.
9. Recite Quran with them while you push them on a swing. I learned my first surah this way.
10. Lastly my very favorite, turn off all the noises in the house. Give your child a special treat daily, like ice cream. Let them enjoy it to the soft peaceful sounds of Quran.

I welcome any readers to share what works for them. I pray by the grace of Allah (swt) that we are all able to create memorable, loving, Quran moments with our children.
Wa Allahu Alam. And Allah Knows Best.

Sharda Mohammed is a Canadian born mother of two young children. She has a keen interest in learning to foster leadership, self esteem and empathy in young children. She works part-time as a physical therapist.
 -----------------------------

About GrowMamaGrow

GrowMamaGrow is an online community of American Muslim mothers and young women. The project provides a supportive, friendly, and non-judgmental space for women to share experiences, support one another, grow in their spirituality, and inspire each other. GrowMamaGrow is a project of the Muslim American Society.

Explore our site and make yourself at home! Visit the GrowMama Blog on the main page for inspirational posts on a wide range of topics. Browse through the archives for readings on parenting, self-awareness, relationships, organizing, and health. The GrowMama discussion board is the “kitchen table” of our site, where real women share life experiences, discover friendships, and support each other. Join us!

Women of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds are welcome. The only discussion guideline we enforce is respect for all people.

The GrowMama Mission

To facilitate an online community that inspires and supports women in serving the Creator through striving for excellence in themselves, their families, and their life pursuits.

The GrowMama Vision

A generation of Muslim mothers who fulfill the roles entrusted to them with dedication, confidence, creativity, optimism, and balance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fried Wonton


Ingredients:
Chicken mince 125 gm
Egg 1
Flour 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper ½ tsp
Chaat masala ½ tsp
Black pepper ¼ tsp
Manda strips 3 – 4



Method:

  1. In a bowl mix together 125 gm chicken mince, ½ tsp crushed red pepper, ½ tsp chaat masala, ¼ tsp black pepper powder and salt to taste. Mix well.
  2. In another bowl beat together 1 egg, 1 tbsp flour and salt to taste.
  3. Cut manda strips into squares. Put a little chicken mince in centre of each square, fold in wonton shape and seal using egg batter.
  4. Then deep fry wontons till golden brown and crisp.
(Recipe by Chef Zakir)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The mane effect

A teenager finds her way out of the curl pool!

As a teenager, living with a mane of thick wavy locks was never a source of pleasure to me. Especially when I witnessed long, silky and straight hair possessed by any female, I couldn’t help but turn green with envy. So I headed for refuge to the nearest beauty salon. Back then the best the hair stylist could come up with was to apply a blob of foul smelling crème to my head. This was followed by a wash, some blow-drying and Voila! I actually ended up with the desired straight hair!

For the next five days, believe it or not, I didn’t dare to wash my hair. In a mad state of ecstasy, I unnecessarily jerked my head around and tossed my tamed curls, but then inevitably, I stepped into the shower. The straight strands turned back into wavy wisps. Alas! My horror knew no bounds. I drove down to the beauty salon and bombarded my hairstylist. She calmly informed me that if I was to have uncurled hair, I had to blow dry them eternally every time I washed them. Then, adding a few more words of wisdom, she continued: “By the way, the new hair that will grow on your scalp will be curly, so in any case you will have to keep coming back to straighten them out too.”

Now, that was a death sentence for a lazy Garfield like me. To me brushing hair was an ordeal and here she was suggesting standing before the mirror every day and wrestling with my tangles. For the next three months, misery was my constant companion. From hot rollers to blow-drying, from gel to mousse - I tried a myriad of hair products and processes, not to mention the wasting of all my spending allowance. The curls growing at the roots, the mercilessly pulled and blow-dried locks … they all appeared like a graph of ECG - zigzags, straight lines, crooks…  

One day, sanity knocked on my door. Amid tears, I started to reflect: why did Allah (swt) give me wild and curly hair? Did he run out of stock of straight strands by the time it was my turn? Now, that seemed highly unlikely. So it must have been a deliberate attempt to make me look the way I am. I knew He (swt) is Al-Adil (The Just) so He (swt) was bound to do justice with me. I also realized that He (swt) was Al-Jameel (The Beautiful) and Al-Aleem (The Knowledgeable). His aesthetic sense combined with His knowledge was far beyond my pea-sized brain.  

I started to see the sunny side of life. Casting aside nasty comments from people and luring beauty products on TV, I broke free from the myth of traditional mindsets propagating a ridiculous idea of beauty. Who decided that straight hair was something to be proud of and curly hair a cause for shame?

I searched for the beauty that was permanent and abandoned the idea of borrowed looks that were superficial. I treated my curls with more respect, once I learned that Allah’s Messenger (saw) also did not have straight hair. I began to see humour in a new light, too. When others would make fun of my hair calling me names, I retorted that I would still have half of this hair on my head when they will have none in ten years time. So there was a silver lining to the cloud!

Quran states: “So whatever you have been given is but (a passing) enjoyment for this worldly life, but that which is with Allah (Paradise) is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.” (Ash-Shura 42:36)

After making peace with myself, I thanked Allah (swt) for His guidance. I still haven’t given up though. Now I ask Him (swt) to grant my desire in Jannah, Insha’Allah – originally and eternally soft, silky and straight hair. That too minus the blow-drying, Insha’Allah!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not just another pretty demonstration

Dr. Andrea Sella of University College London demonstrates how one of his favourite molecules, carbon dioxide, reacts with water. 

It's not a complicated experiment: when more and more COdissolves the indicator in the flask changes colour as the water becomes more acidic. Whilst this make our agua con gas taste great, Sella goes on to explain why the process could also pose an immense threat to ocean biodiversity. As rising levels of COdissolve in our seas many species – especially those in coral ecosystems – are unable to adapt to increasingly acidic waters.

You can find out more about what has become known as "the other carbon problem" in the footnotes below the video or the additional resources to the right. There's also a really useful video on universal indicator if you're wondering how and why the solution changes colour as it becomes more acidic.


Watch the full video with related content here: http://richannel.org/co2-and-the-other-carbon-problem

You can find more of exciting science videos like this at the Royal Institution Channel videos section: http://richannel.org/videos

Monday, November 19, 2012

Life with the Ahmad Family: The Storm

In this episode, cousin Hafsa teaches Jamal something important about storms and what to do when it seems a storm might strike.

(please, click to enlarge)

Life with Ahmad Family comic for Muslim children: The Storm

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)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's a kind of magic

Rana Rais Khan tells the story of Suleman (as) to illustrate the origins and harms of magic.
 

As a child I remember reading Enid Blyton's books that centered greatly around magic and enchantments of the like. No one ever discouraged me to read them, as they might ruin my beliefs. In fact, such books were greatly encouraged by parents and teachers to enhance reading and imaginative skills among children. May be because the trials of magic were not so rampant as they are now. Today's teenagers face the same predicament with Harry Potter series. Before we decide, how far we can go with magic, it is important to understand, why it has been forbidden by Allah (swt)?
 

Allah (swt) had bestowed upon Suleman (as) the ability to control Jinnat. He used to demand tough work from them, such as construction of palaces, etc. In order to defame Suleman (as), Bani Israel spread propaganda that he possessed magical powers, in lieu of which Suleman (as) was able to command over all Jinnat. On the contrary, Suleman (as) confiscated and buried all literature available on magic to ensure no evil was perpetuated. 
 

Allah (swt) defended His prophet beautifully by declaring that Suleman (as) never committed Kufr (disbelief) by resorting to magic. However, the devils did. As a trial, Allah (swt) sent two angels skilled in magic to Babylon in Kufa. Bani Israel would approach these angels to learn magic from them. When the angels warned them that this was a trial from Allah (swt) and that they should not delve in it, Bani Israel would ignore it and follow their satanic desires, learning magic and practicing it, too. These devils practiced the worst form of magic - causing rifts between husband and wife, thus, breaking up homes. 
 

Historically, before Allah (swt) created Adam (as), Jinnat were this world's inhabitants. When Allah decided to send mankind to the world, He ordered His angels to drive the Jinnat away towards the seas and islands. Now they hold their court and meet on the waters. On the authority of Jabir (rta), the Prophet (sa) has narrated: "Iblis holds his throne on water and then sends his armies in all directions. Among all the Jinnat, Iblis considers those to be his dearest, who are capable of committing the worst sin. When the Jinnat present their report of mischievous performances, Iblis is not impressed by their job, until one of his subjects comes to declare: ‘I did not leave a man alone, till I caused separation between him and his wife.' Thrilled, Iblis comes forward and hugs his subject praising him: ‘You are very nice.'" This may also apply to any fight between two relatives, friends, etc.      
 

Allah (swt) states: "They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman. Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said: ‘We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).' And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew. And if they had believed and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah, far better would have been the reward from their Lord, if they but knew!" (Al-Baqarah 2:102-103)  
        

When I discovered that the marketing campaign of Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix, J K Rowling's fifth book was worth 4 million dollars, it saddened me to learn, how far we can go to earn Allah's (swt) displeasure. The western world has created an innocent outlook of magic tying it to fun, imagination, and sensation. But that is just a bluff. Even in our country Amils, black magicians, soothsayers, spiritual healers, etc., go scot-free after perpetuating such heinous crimes as driving people to self-injury, depression, domestic violence, and suicide. Instead, they are mushrooming in every city and town. The ignorant masses prefer to visit them for the fulfillment of their desires, instead of praying earnestly to Allah (swt). Little do they know, what kind of sickening and evil practices these magicians delve into for gaining control over equally evil Jinnat.  
 

Rest assured - magic does exist and only occurs by Allah's (swt) leave. Allah (swt) deviates the rebels, who wish to befriend Shaitan, even further on to the road of Kufr, so they will be punished mercilessly on the Day of Judgment. It is considered to be a grave sin to indulge in it even for the sake of fun, since Shaitan is always prepared to deviate the innocent. As the saying goes: "Don't give the devil a ride, for he will want to drive." 
 

Innocent fun is a guise for devious intentions. Just reading a book on magic or watching a movie may appear totally harmless, but it opens doors to many inter-related sins, such as superstitions, belief in the supernatural, astrology, numerology, palmistry, fortune telling, etc. Eventually, the devil succeeds in diluting our beliefs in Allah (swt), the All-Encompassing, and unconsciously we ascribe partners to Him by falling for omens and amulets, engaging in star-gazing and saint or grave worshiping. We must know that Shirk is a major sin that Allah will not forgive. May Allah (swt)  protect us all from falsehood. Ameen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Back from Hajj… back to the old routine?



Asma bint Shameem urges to revisit the resolutions made during Hajj and to keep steadfast on the Straight Path also after returning home to daily routine.

This is a reminder for all those people who did Hajj - whether you did it this year or many years ago. And even for those who didn’t YET.

So… you’re back from Hajj, Alhamdulillah. Everything went well and now you’re back. Back to the same old routine, the same old hustle bustle of life, the job, the kids… back to the same old you.

Huh?

Wait a second… back to the same old you? No, but that can’t be. You can’t go back to the same old you. You promised Allah (swt) you will change and improve for the better - you will do all you can to be a better Muslim, to be a stronger believer.

Don’t you remember how you felt when you saw the magnificent Kaaba for the first time with all its glory and splendor? You were awed, speechless, tears silently rolling down without you even realizing. You trembled and you promised. Don’t you remember, how you cried in Arafaat, how you beseeched Allah (swt), spreading out your hands in utter humility, begging Him and imploring Him to forgive you and to give you just one more chance.

And don’t you remember the strength and resolve with which you threw the pebbles at the Jamaraat, determined to give up all your bad habits, resolute to do all good, staying firm on the Straight Path? Don’t you remember the beautiful days in Mina, the peaceful night in Muzdalifa, all the Ibadaat, the Tawaafs, the Duas, the tears, the Tauba?
Surely, you couldn’t have forgotten that!

Then don’t let the pomp and glitter of this Dunya take you away from all that. Don’t let the hustle-bustle of daily routine make you forget your promises and resolve. Remember that out of six billion people Allah (swt) invited you (yes, you!) to His glorious House and honored you and blessed you with Hajj. And it was only because of His mercy that He enabled you to go. For Wallaahi, if it was not His will, you would never be able to go.

So why not be a thankful slave of His? Why not spend the rest of your life in submission to Him, surrendering to Him, obeying His commandments and staying away from His prohibitions? So fear Allah (swt) in all that you do and always be mindful of Him. Don’t let the Shaitan weaken your resolve.

Say NO to those temptations and turn down chances of all that’s Haram. Stay away from all your old bad habits and build on your good ones. Be upright in your character; resist the urge to cheat, lie and backbite.

Spend in the path of Allah (swt) and continue with the daily recitation of the Quran, pondering over the meanings, and use those Words of Allah (swt) to change for the better. And no matter what you do, DO NOT, do not let the snooze button keep you away from Salah.

Hold your head up high, wearing that Hijab or Jilbab and sporting that beard - proud to be a Muslim, Alhamdulillah. Remember, it’s the mark of a believer. Don’t let people, or so called ‘friends’, talk you out of it. And if they object, look them straight in the eye and say: “It’s the command of Allah (swt).”

Keep in mind that Allah (swt) gave you another chance - just like you asked Him. You begged for forgiveness and He forgave you and purified you just like the day you were born. So be thankful and make the most of it.

Your life from now is like a blank piece of paper, with nothing written on it. And the pen that you would use to write on it, is in your hands. So be careful what you write. Because… you never know - you might never have the chance to have your piece of paper blank again.

“Therefore, race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden as wide as heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. Such is the Favor of Allah; He gives it to whom He wills. Allah is the Owner of great favor.” (Al-Hadeed, verse 21)

Side note about Muharram:

Alhamdulillah, now that Muharram is almost here, make the most of this sacred month and fast as much as you can it.

Abu Huraira (rta) reported that Allah's Messenger (sa) said: “The most excellent fast after Ramadan is Allah's month of Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” (Muslim)

Do make special efforts to fast ‘Aashoorah (the tenth of Muharram) because fasting on that day will, Insha’Allah, expiate the (minor) sins of the previous year. The Prophet (sa) said: “… for fasting the day of ‘Aashooraa’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Muslim) The Prophet (sa) also encouraged us to fast the ninth of Muharram along with the tenth.

Courtesy: Al Huda International, Canada

Friday, November 16, 2012

Interview with Ms. Bilquees Edhi


Naureen Aqueel gives us a glimpse into the much honoured Edhi family - their selfless sacrifices and enormous achievements.

In this age of materialism and heightened individualism, selfless efforts are rare gems. One family that has become a paragon of such values is the Edhis. Altruism, commitment, compassion, determination and hard work are behind the successful mission to bring relief to millions across Pakistan and abroad. Be it war, aftermaths of a natural calamity, or abandoned babies, the Edhi family is a ray of hope for many groping in the darkness of disaster, injustice and disease. “Hiba” magazine spoke to Bilquis Edhi, wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, to get an insight into the great heights they have reached.

“A humanitarian perspective,” is how Bilquis Edhi defines the prime motive behind the Edhi Foundation. “It is aimed at the collective good of all,” she says.

In his autobiography “A Mirror to the Blind” as narrated to Tehmina Durrani, Abdul Sattar Edhi says: “The five basic tenets of Islam continue into the sixth for me: Huquq-ul-Ibaad or humanitarianism. That it is not proclaimed as obligatory has deeper meaning; as right and wrong are left to human initiatives, its importance would be lost if forced.”

At another place in the same book he says: “Huqquq Allah is meaningless without Huqquq-ul-Ibaad. The latter is not possible without compassion and self-help. Islam is not implementable without submission to these two qualities, without them, there can be no practice. Islam without practice is a negation of God. The Holy Book is truly valued only when its prescription is followed.”

As one of the most active philanthropists in the world, Abdul Sattar Edhi is devoted and committed, and is known to work through holidays. How do he and his family manage this? “This is not our work, it is Allah’s (swt) work. And Allah (swt) gets His work done by whomever He Wills,” explains Bilquis Edhi. “Edhi Sahib has undergone only two grades of academic schooling and I have undergone only eight. There are no qualifications for (humanitarian) work. We only need to have a humanitarian perspective and do beneficial work.”

The Edhi couple and their family do not do all the work alone. They have a trained team of employees and volunteers. “We hire the staff and train them. There are also volunteers who get less salary-wise but do quality work. And, Masha’Allah, Allah (swt) has helped us greatly. No matter how much we accept His favour and thank Him, it is insufficient. We, humans, have no power to do work on our own without His help.”

“So, does the staff always work with as much sincerity, enthusiasm and selflessness as you two?” I inquired. “No. The employees sometimes cause trouble. No one is perfect. I keep telling Edhi Sahib: ‘You wish everyone was Sattar Edhi Sahib, but that is difficult - everyone has their own priorities be it home, family or children.’”

Another secret of their success is that they start their work early morning after the morning prayers and breakfast thereafter. Although most of their time is spent serving humanity, you will never hear them complaining or see them in low spirits. So how do they keep themselves motivated? “We are content and satisfied with ourselves,” shares Bilquis Edhi, “we keep doing our work and do not brood on criticisms.”

Despite their international fame, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Bilquis Edhi and their family continue to live a simple life. Indeed, Abdul Sattar Edhi is known to own two traditional Shalwar Kameez. “We have never really thought of who we are or what status we have. We just consider ourselves ordinary human beings and we work like common folk. Allah (swt) has saved us from arrogance and ostentation (Riya Kari),” says Bilquis Edhi.

The journey to establish such an unparalleled network of welfare work was not completely smooth. “We have never encountered any obstacles that have stopped us. Allah (swt) has always taken us ahead. He has never let us fall back. People have opposed us a lot and have resorted to narrow-mindedness and accusations. But Edhi Sahib says that their purpose is to distract us from our work. If we fight back, we will waste time. So he says: ‘Our work should be our response. Such people will be defeated and humiliated, when they see our work.’ Obstacles are a part of life,” says Bilquis Edhi.

In his autobiography, Abdul Sattar Edhi says: “When the anxiety at the vastness of the areas I must cover overwhelmed me, I took courage from Prophet’s Muhammad’s (saw) example. He was confronted with enormous opposition and more hypocrites than friends.”

Commenting on the numerous awards they have received, Bilquis Edhi says: “It is the work that speaks.”

In the end, Bilquis Edhi prayed for the success of “Hiba” magazine and wished to give a message to women: “Women should live life on the principles of simplicity, honesty, hard work and punctuality and should adhere to their limits (Apni Chaddar Mein Rehna Chahye). A good woman and mother is the minister of the home. Islam has not stopped women from work, but they should not cross Islam’s boundaries in any work they do.”

May Allah (swt) reward the Edhi family for their work and bestow His Mercy upon them, and may He grant us the same spirit of charity. Ameen.

Edhi Welfare Foundation, the largest welfare organization of Pakistan and one of the largest and most successful health and welfare networks in Asia, started as a tiny dispensary in 1951. Today, Edhi Foundation has over 300 centers across the country in cities, towns and rural areas. Services provided by Edhi Foundation include: baby cradles, destitute homes, welfare centers, highways projects, warehouses, field ambulance services, air ambulance services, marine and coastal service, blood and drug banks, cancer research hostel, missing persons service, home for sheltering animals, graveyard services, Edhi emergency posts, prisoners aid, refugee assistance and international community centers.

Bilquis Edhi has personally given 18900 children up for adoption.

Edhi Foundation is in the Guinness World Records for having the largest private ambulance service network in the world.

The couple have received around 250-275 awards and Abdul Sattar Edhi has also received an honorary doctorate from IBA.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Red Beans Cream Salad

Ingredients:
Boiled beans 2 cup
Cucumbers 2
Tomatoes 2
Mayonnaise ½ cup
Sugar 1 tsp
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Black pepper ½ tsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Green coriander 2 tbsp
Cream 2 tbsp
Tomato ketchup 2 tbsp


Method:
Take 2 tbsp cream, ½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup, ½ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice in a bowl and mix everything together. Mix 2 cup boiled red beans, 2 chopped cucumbers and the prepared sauce in a separate bowl and mix it. Red Bean Cream Salad is ready to serve.

(Recipe by Chef Rida Aftab)