Fitrah- A Gift From God

By Ferdousy Akhter Tani

fitrah

Do you ever get that guilty feeling after you do something wrong, like you become shy to look up and think of God? Or do you ever in spite of yourself, completely involuntarily, seek Him? That’s fitrah!

Fitrah is the natural inclination to believe in one God. It is said that if a child were left alone to himself, he would grow up believing in one God. (Philips, 2005)

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that he used to say the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “There is no child who is not born in a state of Fitrah, then his parents make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian, just as animals bring forth animals with their limbs intact, do you see any deformed one among them?” Then Abu Hurairah said: “Recite, if you wish: Allah’s Fitrah with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalqillah.” (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 7, Book of Qadr, Ch. 6, Hadith 6755)

This natural disposition to believe in one God has been imprinted into all human beings because of the covenant Allah took from all of mankind.

 

Allah says in the Qur’an:

And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.”

Or [lest] you say, “It was only that our fathers associated [others in worship] with Allah before, and we were but descendants after them. Then would You destroy us for what the falsifiers have done?” [7:172-173]

 

So all children are upon the fitrah, and it is in many cases their parents who raise them opposing it and make them follow their own customs instead, by providing them a non- ‘fitrah-friendly’ environment to grow up in.

Neuroscience research supports the idea that the brain is primed to ‘believe’, says Jordan Grafman, PhD, director of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (Azar, 2010)

Professor Andrew Clark, from the Paris School of Economics, and co-author Dr Orsolya Lelkes, from the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research are of the view that religion in general, might act as a “buffer” that protects people from life’s disappointments. Professor Leslie Francis, from the University of Warwick believes that the benefit might involve the increased “purpose of life” experienced by many believers that may not be as strongly felt among non-believers. (Sato, 2009)

Believing in God has several psychological benefits:

  • It helps one seek assurance from a “higher power” during different crises of life
  • It helps to cope with adversity when times are difficult
  • It works as a barrier to harming others and oneself because of the accountability towards God, which in turn prevents a person from getting into trouble
  • It bolsters one’s confidence to face challenges in life by seeking help from God
  • It makes a person aware that his actions have consequences
  • It aids in coping with anxiety and fear that faced in one’s life
  • It makes a person motive-driven, as he knows that life has a purpose

 

Fitrah is a true gift from God, as it keeps a person in check, increases his self-control, and makes him conscious of his actions. It is like a fire alarm that goes off whenever the smoke of misdeeds reaches us, and our heart buzzes with what we called ‘guilt’. It is the belief that we are constantly under supervision, all day every day, and nothing escapes Him, the One who sees and hears everything.

 

It is because of fitrah we stop ourselves from straying off the path in our journey to success even when things are difficult, or seem impossible. People with a religious mindset tend to deal with the loss of loved ones, of wealth, or of job much better than people with no religious beliefs – as they understand that there is a reason for the loss, and if dealt with patiently, it will only lead to a greater good.

Fitrah also pushes us towards goodness. A person believing in one God and believing in the purpose of life, which is to worship Him alone, will strive to please Him. So believers tend to contribute more to the society, help people in distress and support others in times of need – all for His sake. This results in a positive effect on the overall society.

On the other hand, a person who has wandered off from his fitrah, has lost the anchor to goodness. He is like a person who has been plunged into total darkness without any direction. This person may walk towards mischief that harms not only him but the society as a whole. He may not care to check his speed limit when the police or any surveillance camera is not around. He may not care to hand over the cash he picked up off the street to the lady who dropped it if no one is watching. He may live a life not caring to contribute to the society if there isn’t anything in it for him. He may simply live life – just for himself.

Fitrah acts as a lighthouse which keeps us from getting lost. It protects us from self-destruction. One who can hold onto their fitrah amidst all struggles is the one who is protected. And in essence, nurturing the fitrah is what contributes to the physical and mental well-being of a person and protects him from harm’s way.

Bibliography

(n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.pinterest.com/taniaelizabeth/newborn-props-inspiration/

Azar, B. (2010, December). A Reason to Believe. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe.aspx

Cook, H. K. (2016, June 18). Renunite In Fitrah And Forgiveness, Making Peace. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from http://childhoodspeech.com/2016/06/meeting-ramadhan-fitrah-forgiveness/

Gloss, T. (2009). Faith in a Higher Power: The Study of Religion in Psychology. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from Association For Psychological Science: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/faith-in-a-higher-power-the-study-of-religion-in-psychology

Merwe, K. v., Eeden, C. v., & Deventer, H. J. (2010). A Psychological Perspective on God-belief as a Source of Well-being and Meaning. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from AOSIS Publishing: http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/view/332/764#20

Philips, B. (2005). The Fundamentals of Tawheed. International Islamic Publication House.

Sato, R. (2009, August 23). Does Belief in a “Higher Power” Make People Happier? A Galaxy Classic. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from Daily Galaxy.com: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/08/does-religion-make-people-happier-scientists-search-to-explain-why-people-believe-in-a-god.html

 

The Joy of Putting Others Down

By Ferdousy Akhter Tani

bullying

He smirked, feeling a sense of vicious satisfaction. That must have been the umpteenth time he managed to intimidate the weird boy – the weird, weak boy.

Bullying is a distinctive pattern of harming and humiliating others, specifically those who are in some way smaller, weaker, and younger or in any way more vulnerable than the bully.

Bullying is real.

Most of us, if not all, have witnessed or heard about someone getting bullied. As the word ‘bullying’ may seem rather nasty, we often inadvertently label it elsehow while overlooking the dangers it poses towards the people actually being bullied. It may happen around us while we turn a blind eye to it – either because it’s easy to ignore, or because the bully is our relative, a friend, sibling, or maybe even one’s boss.

It does feel good to win an argument, to defeat rather than being defeated. But we need to understand that bullying is much more than just winning an argument. It is the urge to put others down, emotionally or physically, and enjoying ourselves while at it. It is a badly-masked attempt to hide one’s insecurity; an insecurity which stems from poor control over one’s mind and actions. A bully somehow feels worthier after preying on his victim. However, close inspection reveals that the need to devalue others actually leads back to his depraved sense of self-worth. He feels the drive to increase his value by lowering someone else’s. He feels victorious as he sees his victim overpowered. But is it really a victory?

When you put someone down by using intimidation, snide remarks or any other misconduct, you are causing great harm to the person’s mental health. The one being bullied may become increasingly less confident, anxious and eventually fall into depression. A moment of joy for you may become the cause for prolonged agony for someone else. What may have been an excuse for entertainment for you may be a cause of anguish for another. An attack on someone’s physical appearance, financial status or racial background may leave a mark deeper than what you see. You cause fear, hurt and humiliation, all in one go! So is it really worth it? Is it worth inflicting pain on others just because you can? Is it worth seeing someone withering away mentally for a few seconds of amusement for yourself?

With instances of bullying, it is not only the victim who is affected but also the bully himself who brings about his own harm. His incessant need to control and put others down affects his relationship with others; he may become increasingly abusive to those around him; verbal abuse may follow physical abuse in no time; and all of this would lead to cause a greater harm for himself in the long run. Before he knows it, it could be his tranquility – and not just the victim’s – that will be destroyed. The momentary feeling of victory may lead to a greater and permanent loss for himself when his abusive nature pushes him towards violence, and he ends up doing something atrocious and irreversible.

From an Islamic viewpoint, bullying can be easily rebuked if we look at the statement of the Prophet ﷺ:

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe;… “.

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

If people had followed just this one hadith, most of society’s problems would disappear overnight. Rasulullah ﷺ put a qualifier for those who wish to be Muslims. They are those who will try their best not to harm another Muslim, neither by words nor actions.

Even though the hadith mentions only Muslims, Islam teaches us to not wrong the non-Muslims as well.

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If anyone wrongs a mu‘aahid (a non-Muslim living under Muslim rule), detracts from his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do or takes something from him without his consent, I will plead for him (the mu‘aahid) on the Day of Resurrection.” [Abu Dawood; authentic]

One can clearly see that bullying has no place in Islam. There is no room for it in our deen to make others feel inferior just to show one’s superiority. It is deplorable to hurt one’s feelings only because he seems in some way weaker than oneself.

 

What to do to stop bullying?

 

  1. Recognize

Recognize bullying for what it is. When you see someone being put down, do not take it lightly. Make a mental note of doing something about the situation.

  1. Help

Get involved (depending on the scope you have) and offer help. Talk to the person being bullied. Highlight some positive things about them. Try to make them feel more confident about themselves. Take help from the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ.

Ibn Mas`ud climbed a tree and they started laughing at the thinness of his legs, whereupon the Prophet ﷺsaid: “I swear that they shall be heavier in the Balance than Mount Uhud.”(Ahmad; authentic)

  1. Stop it

Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by hating it] – and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim)

A teacher may stop his students, a parent may stop his children, and a friend may stop his friends from engaging in bullying.

  1. Talk to the bully

Anas reported: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is oppressed.’ A man asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I (know how to) help him when he is oppressed, but how can I help him when he is an oppressor?’ He said: ‘You can restrain him from committing oppression. That will be your help to him.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Tell them that their actions are wrong and let them know about the consequences of their actions; it could be that they are unaware of the damage they are causing to their victims.

A bully should know that it is a loss to let one’s emotions and actions go unchecked to the point that it leaves a permanent scar on the people who become prey to his bullying. It is a loss to send someone crying to bed. It is a loss greater for himself than those whom he thinks he has defeated.

Putting others down is not what he considers to be a victory. It’s a loss.

Husn udh-dhann finnaas – Having Good Opinion of People

By Naila Naiyyar

husn-udh-dhann-of-people

A lot of problems arise among families, relatives, in-laws, colleagues, and neighbors, simply due to having negative thoughts of them. Allah has clearly stated in the Holy Quran to avoid such negative assumptions, calling it a sin.

“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (Quran; 49:12)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; and do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; and O Allah’s worshipers! Be brothers (as Allah has ordered you!”) (Bukhari)

Perhaps you see a friend online regularly updating on social media, but isn’t replying to your messages. Instead of jumping to a conclusion like she is ignoring you, fancy the thought that she may be too caught up with things and just needs a gentle reminder to get back to you.

That person who passed by you not replying to your salaams, possibly didn’t hear you.

That colleague who snapped rudely at you might be facing something terribly bad at home.

And even if you don’t know why the driver behind you overtook your car so dangerously, supposing that he might have an emergency to rush to will let you stay calm on the road and give you peace of mind, instead of letting it affect your mood adversely, which you would ultimately take back home or to work.

Developing a positive opinion of people does NOT mean ignoring danger signs or being careless and unguarded; rather, it means not to paint every one with the single brush of negativity; it means to not let stereotypes affect our judgment, and not to let other people’s personal experiences or opinions bleak our sense of rationality.

To put it briefly, having good opinion of people implies:

  • Thinking positive of others
  • Avoiding suspicion and wrong assumptions of others
  • Giving others the benefit of the doubt

 

The first step to eradicating negative thoughts of others is to acknowledge the problem. Next, is to work through it. In order to do that, we need to identify why we think the way we do. What could be the underlying factor for thinking ill of others? Some possible reasons are enlisted below. Identifying which one(s) affect us most would be able to help us in resolving our issues more effectively.

 

Reasons for thinking the worst of others:

1) Polluted heart

The first and foremost reason is having a polluted heart – a heart  low in eeman (faith) and taqwa (fear of Allah). The heart which is not clean will not be able to see nor seek the good in others. Such a heart weakens the eeman and pollutes the mind, with this pollution extending to our everyday-dealings with other people.

2) Stereotypes

We all have our own criteria of thoughts and beliefs based on which we judge people and events around us. However, external factors like family, peers, and society too condition this outlook of ours towards the world. This is where stereotypes come into play. We can reduce harboring bad opinion of people simply by not following stereotypes. Always objectively analyze the person or event in a particular situation before forming opinions. This would help us in being non-judgmental.

For example, a very common stereotype has to do with the mother and daughter-in-law dynamics, wherein a mother in-law is considered to be someone who is always against her daughter in-law. Even though a wife-to-be may not know her mother in-law well enough before marriage, she could step into her new family with preconceived ideas based on all the things she has heard about mothers-in-law in general. In doing so, she fails to realize that her husband’s mother is just like any other mother – including her own, who would only be eager to start a beautiful relationship with her new daughter-in-law.

A wise person will always think reasonably and avoid jumping to conclusions.

3) Lack of empathy

Empathy is a quality that helps us connect with people especially when they are going through tough times, and creates a bond of trust between two people. When we lack empathy we are unable to feel the other person’s situation. This leads to forming bad opinions about them when what they actually need from us is understanding and support.

4) Not being able to accept others’ achievements

This factor has a lot to do with being envious or jealous of others for their achievements. Some strategies to deal with envy are mentioned in our blog post here.

5) Difference of opinions

This refers to considering ill of others because they don’t agree with us in certain instances.

We need to realize that everyone has different approaches to life, and so our view will not necessarily be the same as that of another person. Since we are more prone to form wrong opinions about people when we don’t get along with them, we must be more mindful in such cases.

 

Benefits of having good opinion of people

1) The heart remains pure and free from wrong assumptions, malice, or rancor, instead is full of love for others.

2) It breeds positivity, promotes unity, and fosters love and respect for fellow human beings.

3) We are more concerned about improving our lives, instead of making others miserable.

4) We earn the Pleasure of Allah.

 

How to develop good opinion of people

1) Ask Allah to purify your heart. Raise your prayers to the One who answers.

2) Be constant in focusing on yourself and how you can improve your own life. It is not befitting of a Muslim to be unnecessarily concerned with others’ lives, following their every move.

As mentioned in the hadith, “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi)

3) Be open-minded and try to understand each person’s situation.  Get more clarity into the situation by looking at it through different angles.

4) Feel happy for others achievements. Force it, if you have to. Allah will rush to your help when you put in your efforts, and soon the feelings of happiness would come to you naturally.

5) Always give others the benefit of the doubt. Give him/her a chance to put forward his opinion too. We need to keep in mind that no one is free from making mistakes. Hence, it is not fair to ignore the good deeds and focus only something they erred on.

6) Filter the information you get before forming an opinion. Instead of creating stories in your head, it is better to directly communicate with the other person in a civilized manner.

7) Understand and respect the differences of other people.

8) Always put yourself in the other’s situation and ask yourself how you would feel if people have prejudice in their hearts against you.

Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say, “This is an obvious falsehood”? (Quran; 24:12)

 

Good opinion about kids in the home and at school

Having good opinion of children is crucial to help build their self-confidence. When adults have a good opinion of them, they feel good about themselves they will tend to perform well in all areas of life. But if adults assume that they are ‘just kids’ and so won’t be able to complete even a simple task then they are already setting the child up for failure. The same is the case with teachers. If a teacher believes that a student is and will always remain a C-grade student, then that’s just how the student will perform. Instead, when the student is given the confidence of excelling, s/he will actually begin to strive for it.

 

Final Notes

On the flip side, it is also important for us to be very clear and open about our own actions, and avoid things that will raise suspicion among those around us either through our facial and body gestures, or our actions.  We should be careful not to leave room for conceivable suspicion from others. A very beautiful example can be found in the following hadith:

Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) wife Safiyya visited him one night when he was observing I’tikaf. When it was time for her to leave, he stood up to bid her goodbye. During this time two men passed by them. When they saw Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with a female they began to walk away swiftly. So he (peace be upon him) said, “Walk calmly, she is Safiyya, daughter of Huyyay.” Both of them said: “Messenger, Praise be to Allah. We cannot conceive of anything doubtful even in the remotest corners of our minds.” He (peace be upon him) said: “Satan circulates in the body of man like the circulation of blood and I was afraid lest it should instill any evil in your heart or anything.” (Muslim)

Husn udh-Dhann Billah – Having Good Opinion of Allah

By Naila Naiyyar

husn-udh-dhann

Husn udh-dhann billah means having a good opinion of Allah. It refers to being certain of receiving only good from Him; to have positive thoughts about Him, believing that He will deal with us in the best of ways. Allah says, “I am as My servant thinks I am”. (Bukhari) That is, in order for us to expect something good from Allah we have to truly believe that He is capable of giving that good.

Thinking well of Allah is a fundamental aspect of our worship. How can we worship Him the way He deserves to be worshipped when we are not aware of His Attributes or when we think that He is akin to the people around us?

One of the main causes of lacking  husn udh-dhann billah is our comparing Allah and His Attributes to those of humans, wrongly assuming that Allah will not be good to us because we ignored Him; or that He is One who takes pleasure from our sufferings and will not listen to our pleas because we disobeyed Him (na’udhubillah); or that since we have indulged in the worst of sins, He will put us in the blazing hell-fire, wondering why will He even consider us for heaven as there are so many pious people that already exist!  All such thoughts indicate that we do not know who Allah actually is or how Just and Merciful He is.

In order to avoid all these negative thoughts, we need to study and know the Attributes of Allah. Allah is nothing like any of His creation. He is free of defect and deficiencies. His Promise is always true and He never forgets. Even the tiniest of our deeds does not escape His Attention. He is never too busy to ignore us. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him, nor sleep. He always remembers us no matter how many times we forget Him. We need to firmly believe that Allah answers our duas, forgives us and that He is enough for us. Count all your Blessings and ponder over your past, recounting all the moments that Allah never let you down.

This lack of education on our part helps shaytaan play with our minds and heart. This creates hopelessness in us and we begin to despair the Mercy of Allah.

I will share two great examples of this from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

 

Example 1:

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) set out of his home with Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) as his companion to migrate to Madeenah, while the Quraysh were conspiring against him. They hid in the cave of Thawr, and Abu Bakr said to him (peace be upon him) “If one of them looks down at his feet he will see us.” He (peace be  upon him) said, “What do you think, O Abu Bakr, of two the third of whom is Allah?

This is an example of nothing but having a strong conviction that Allah is the Most Powerful and the One in control of everything. Allah mentions this historical event in the Quran:

“If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down his Tranquility upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the Word of Allah – that is the Highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Quran, 9:40)

 

Example 2:

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was having his mid-day sleep under a tree, with his sword hanging on one of the branches. A Bedouin suddenly came and took the Prophet’s sword. The Prophet (peace be upon him) woke up and the Bedouin asked him, “Who will protect you from me?” He (peace be upon him) replied, “Allah”. The sword fell from the bedouin’s hand and the Prophet (peace be upon him) took his sword. (Bukhari)

 

Benefit of having good opinion of Allah

It makes life easy and productive. When we have husn udh-dhann billah, we’d have a sense of peace and inner calm which pushes us to do good with the belief that Allah will reward us and grant us success.

Husn udh-dhann billah also increases our tawakkul (trust) where we do our best and then leave the result up to Allah. If we had a bad opinion of Allah (soo’udhann billah) then we wouldn’t strive hard in life, nor would we wish to achieve anything because we would not expect anything good to happen to us.

We also need to keep in mind that good opinion has to be followed by good actions. We can’t be mean to people or disobey Allah and then expect that He be kind to us.

“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out and will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent”. (Quran, 65:2-3)

 

How to Develop Husn udh-Dhann Billah

1) Making du’a with certainty

Making du’a is not only action of the lips but also includes the intention in one’s heart. People may raise their hands in making du’a but may not be sincere in asking Allah. They either make their minds up that Allah is never going to answer, or they preoccupy their minds so much with worldly thoughts that making dua becomes merely a ritual.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Call upon Allah when you are certain of a response, and know that Allah does not accept any supplication from a heart that is unfocused and distracted.” (Tirmidhi)

2) The intention of our deeds

Performing deeds solely for Allah’s Pleasure and having firm belief that Allah will accept them and reward us in the best way are yet other ways of imbibing husn udh-dhann billah. Else, we would never attempt at anything good or we may easily give up half-way questioning ourselves, ‘why bother when our actions are not bringing instant results or the way we want them to turn out?’

3) Belief in Allah’s Promise

Husn udh-dhann billah also refers to believing that Allah always keeps His word and will grant us all that He promises. For instance, if He Promises ease with every hardship, then indeed we will have that ease. If Allah Promises us increase in our sustenance if we spend in His way, then we must have firm belief in that too.

4) Repenting & seeking forgiveness

Allah says, “O My servants, you commit error night and day and I am there to Pardon your sins, so beg pardon from Me so that I should Grant you Pardon.” (Muslim)

This teaches us to sincerely repent and seek forgiveness from Allah with the hope that He will accept our repentance and forgive us. If we did not have this certainty in our hearts, then we will never seek forgiveness and perhaps will keep on sinning. Not expecting Allah to Forgive us or Grant us what we ask him is despairing of His Mercy and not believing in His Word.

5) Trials & tribulations

The most crucial stage to have a good opinion of Allah is when calamity falls upon the believer. It is very easy to complain at that time, lose hope and be in the worst state of negativity. But a believer knows that trials occur only due to Allah’s infinite Wisdom, and to purify and increase us in closeness to Him. We might not understand why we are suffering but being positive in those times will help us to accept Allah’s Decree and make us realize that tests from Allah are in our best interest which we may comprehend only later.

The Prophets and Messengers of Allah had pinned all their hopes onto Allah, most especially when all odds were stacked against them. The fire was cooled for Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Yunus came out of the belly of a fish and Prophet Zakariya was blessed with a child even though he was old and his wife barren. Why? Because they knew that Allah would respond to their pleas and get them out of every situation no matter how impossible they seemed.

Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” (Surah Yusuf: 87)

6) Remember death

Finally, we are encouraged to remember Allah’s Mercy & Forgiveness on our death beds so that when we leave this world, we are hopeful of meeting our Lord.

Three days before Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, said: “No one of you should die except thinking positively of Allah”. (Muslim)

 

Husn udh-Dhann Billah and Positive thinking

Having good opinion of Allah has one major byproduct – it makes us positive about life itself. This positive mindset will help us in keeping calm even during turbulences and help us get rid of pessimistic thoughts.

Having a positive outlook is the most important thing to bring ease in life especially when everything around us seems unbearable. It is the good belief that Allah is the Most Powerful, the Giver, our Savior & our Provider which will stop us from fearing people, and fear Allah instead. It will help us be consistent in our worship and teach us to ask from Allah alone rather than tiring ourselves in struggling to gaining acceptance from people. It frees us from the need of other human beings, and liberates us from following shaytaan and all those who follow him.

 

You may wonder: What if you did not experience success even though you worked hard and had good opinion of Allah? Well, remember that what seems like failure to us now will in fact bring only the best – even much better than what we had initially anticipated. It might be that Allah is saving us from something not in our knowledge. So we have to do our best in everything and accept His Divine Will that whatever we get is in our best interest and are thankful to Allah.

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (Quran: 2:216)

Mending Myself

By Khalida Jalili

mending_myself.png

 

Let me tell you a short story about a teenage boy whose early life is possibly very similar to many of our own teenage lives:

Spoiled and wealthy, this young teen was the center of his mother’s attention and adoration. He lived a life of ample luxury because of his mother. He made one decision in his life, however, that completely overturned his mother’s affection towards him. She would tell him to give up the new change he had brought about in his life. She would even threaten to never eat or drink if he did not listen to her! And when he refused to concede, she too decided to make dramatic changes: she quit spoiling her son, thus depriving him of the luxurious life he once enjoyed. He was forced out of the house onto the streets in only one garment and left to figure out how to live life all on his own!

 

Before I let you know who this young man is, let me introduce you to another gentleman:

This young man loved his dad dearly and also cared a lot about his community. However, he too, like the teenager, was not treated well by his parent because of the lifestyle that he had adopted. His dad even threatened to stone him, demanding that he leave to somewhere far away from him, and the community he had well-wished for almost burned him alive! 

You might have already guessed that this young man was Ibrahim (peace be upon him). And the teenager mentioned earlier was none other than a sahabah named Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him).

 

Anyone who knows what it means to be spoiled and then deprived, or to be dearly attached to people and then hurt by them, could relate (at least to some extent) to these two cases. Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him) were both emotionally and physically abused by their loved ones just because they chose Islam as their lifestyle.

Allah knows best if these experiences were traumatizing for either of them, since the validity of such an assertion will depend on various determinants such as whether they felt emotionally overwhelmed or if they felt “a threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity” (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995, p. 60). Nevertheless, these experiences would definitely prove to be traumatic for many.

Yes, Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him) was forced to leave his mom despite his love for her; but he found another family whom he loved just as much – if not more – and who loved him back as one of their own: Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and the sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them all). And yes, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was driven out by his father and community; but not only did he find a different home and community,  he was also blessed with a family of his own along with a legacy his descendants remember until this day (Surah Maryam; 19: 41-50). SubhanAllah.

 

Regrettably, if you have ever experienced emotional trauma, you will know that it can be difficult to talk about your traumatic experience and to seek support, or even believe that you need support! Understand that you do not have to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable; however, it is important to know that there are people out there whom you can trust. Of course, it is good to be cautious about whom you trust and to take necessary precautions, so do not think you are being paranoid if you find it difficult to trust others; but know that there are people who want the best for you. If you do not feel comfortable trusting a friend, family member, or teacher, try finding a counselor who is bound by law to keep your case information confidential (although, there are specific exceptions for safety and medical reasons, which they will explain to you).

Learning how to effectively deal with your fears, insecurities, and anxieties is important in maintaining your mental health. You cannot move past emotional trauma if you do not act. As tempting as it may be to stay within your own company, you need to connect with people who have the experience and knowledge to support you.

 

Ask yourself this: If you had a friend who was undergoing a rough time, how would you comfort him/her? What would you say to him/her? Would you be harsh with them, or gentle? You’d know that being harsh will only make the situation worse for them. Instead, you’d let them know that you are there for him/her. You would be compassionate to them and assist them in whatever way you can. Likewise, be compassionate to yourself.

In order to realize how best you can treat your mental and emotional illness, consider the physical illnesses that you face. When you have a cold, for instance, would you hope to get better just by lying in bed all day? Or would you get moving? Chances are you’d do the latter. You’d go to the pharmacy for medication and may even go the extra mile to try home-remedies or anything else that could cure you. This is how we should view our emotional health as well. The medicine is out there in the forms of counseling, joining a trauma support group, attending self-development workshops, and further educating ourselves on healing. Our medicine is there in the form of endeavoring to live a more productive lifestyle through salah, du’a, dhikr, exercise, healthy diet, and wholesome sleep.

 

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “There is no one who is afflicted by distress and grief, and says:

اللِّهُمَّ إنِّي عَبْدُكَ ، ابْنُ عَبْدِكَ ، ابْنُ أَمَتِكَ ، نَاصِيَتِي بِيَدِكَ ، مَاضِ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤُكَ ، أَسْأَلُكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ ، سَمَّيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ ، أَوْ أنْزَلْتَهُ فِي كِتَاَبِكَ ، أَوْ عَلَّمْتَهُ أَحَدًا مِنْ خَلْقِكَ ، أَوِ اسْتَأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ عِنْدَكَ ، أنْ تَجْعَلَ الْقُرْآنَ رَبِيعَ قَلْبِي ، وَ نُورَ صَدْرِي ، وَ جَلاءَ حُزْنِي ، وَ ذَهَابَ هَمِّي

Allaahumma innee ‘abduka ibn ‘abdika ibn amatika naasyati bi yadika, maadin fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uk. As’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilmil-ghayb ‘indaka an taj’al al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’ huzni wa dhahaaba hammee

Oh Allah, I am Your Slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your Hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me if just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or taught to any one of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Quran the life of my heart and the light of my chest, and a departure of my sorrow and a release of my anxiety.

except that Allaah will take away his distress and grief, and replace it with joy.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

 

Healing takes time, so be patient with yourself and the process. While we take all the means to heal, we should never forget that healing – whether physical or psychological – is ultimately in Allah’s Hands. He is Al-Shaafi, The Healer. And among Allah’s Most Beautiful names is Al-Jabbaar. The name Al-Jabbaar encompasses a very comprehensive definition, one of which is The Mender. Al-Jabbaar is the One Who can heal that bone fracture. Al-Jabbaar is the One Who can heal your heart when you feel hurt because of a bully, parent, child, friend, teacher, or stranger. He is the One Who is capable of healing your physical and psychological wounds.

 

May Al-Jabbaar mend you and your heart, dear reader.

Ameen.

Dealing with Envy

By Naila Naiyyar

green_with_envy_0

Envy is a feeling of displeasure that sets in upon knowing of another person’s achievement, success, fame, influence or possession, all the while feeling discontent and inferior about one’s own self. The envier may even wish that the blessing be removed from the envied.

Side notes:

 

Envy is a disease of the heart which can ruin one’s peace. Envying indicates low self-esteem and a sense of inferiority, as the envier feels unable to achieve what the envied has achieved.

Envy has no positive or constructive influence on the envier. In fact it causes resentment, bitterness, and if not controlled, then eventually, depression, anxiety and possibly even suicide – May Allah protect us. The envier may even go a step further and harm the envied as he can’t stand seeing him enjoying his milestones.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Envy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes wood, and charity extinguishes bad deeds just as water extinguishes fire. Prayer is the light of the believer and fasting is a shield against the Fire.” (Ibn Majah)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Beware of envy because envy consumes (destroys) the virtues just as the fire consumes the firewood,” or he said “grass.” (Abu Dawud)

Due to the competitive world we live in where we are programmed to compare and compete with others. And so the envier wonders how the envied has managed to achieve a milestone when he/she has not, despite taking several efforts.

However, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has encouraged envy (ghibtah). But only in the following cases:

He said, “Envy is justified in regard to two types of persons only: a man whom Allah has given knowledge of the Qur’an, and so he recites it during the night and during the day; and a man whom Allah has given wealth and so he spends from it during the night and during the day.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Feeling envious (without wishing for the other to lose his blessing) in these cases is encouraged in Islam due to its noble nature of pleasing Allah using the blessings provided Him.

As for the impressible type of envy, here are some coping strategies that we can employ:

 

Coping Strategies

 

  1. Count your Blessings

You are gifted in ways different than others and are blessed with a life worth celebrating. You are unique and don’t have to live life like everyone else. Sit down in a quiet and comfortable place and think of all that you have been bestowed upon by Allah Almighty; do not ignore even the smallest of things. This activity will make you realize that you are indeed valuable; and will question yourself, “why am I sulking over this (envy) and making my life miserable when I already have so much!”

 

  1. Stop comparing

You must realize that there will be people who will always have it better than you. And then, there will be people who don’t have what you do. Why not compare yourself to them?!

If you compare yourself with those who have what you don’t, you will feel as if you don’t have anything at all. Amazingly, the people who you envy might in turn, be wishing for things that you have! You see, everyone can’t have everything.

Have a look at this hadith and ponder over it. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Look at those who are beneath you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allah. (Ibn Majah)

 

The only time you should look above you is when you see people attaining authentic knowledge of deen and doing good deeds to Please Allah.

 

  1. Avoid people who value the wrong things

Stay away from those who are ‘obsessed’ with and gauge their success with nothing but the latest gadgets, branded clothes, or eating at high-end restaurants, valuing neither time, morals, etiquettes, nor good manners. Instead, choose people who are always grateful to Allah with whatever they have.

 

  1. Beware the consumer culture and materialism

No matter where you look, the marketers will tell you that if you don’t have what your neighbor has then you are the biggest loser. It’s not wrong to be ambitious or struggle to make yourself better and enjoy the blessings of Allah in this world, but it should not be at the expense of your peace of mind and soul.

 

  1. Learn to be happy for people

People enjoy their blessings because Allah planned to give them those blessings in the first place. By not being happy for them, we are actually complaining to Allah of His Will! Instead, congratulate them and give them gifts.

Conversely, ask yourself: How would you feel if people envy you for your blessings?

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Another time, he said, “…Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allah and the Last Day and should treat the people as he wishes to be treated by them…” (Muslim)

 

  1. Identify the trigger points

Analyze what’s making you envy and feeling insecure. Is it something that you greatly value, something you have been working on too long but haven’t been successful in? Try to work even harder to achieve it and leave the rest to Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices by overbidding against one another; do not hate one another; do not harbor malice against one another; and do not enter into commercial transaction when others have entered into that (transaction); but be you, O slaves of Allah, as brothers. A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor does he look down upon him, nor does he humiliate him. Piety is here, (and he pointed to his chest three times). It is enough evil for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother-in-faith: his blood, his property and his honor”. (Muslim)

 

  1. Make Dua when you hear good news about others

Ask Allah to bless them even more and Protect form from evil eye. Ask Allah to make you content of all His Decisions and bless you with even better than what they have. And the best part is when you make dua for anyone, the angels say Aameen too!

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The supplication of a Muslim for his (Muslim) brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: Aameen! May it be for you too.” (Muslim)

 

  1. Examine your intention and goals

What is it that is making you envy? In what way, will achieving it, make you feel enriched, happy and successful? Why not work on what you already have and excel in it? What can you do, the halal way, to achieve what others have? Does your success truly depend on it? Are you sure you will be ‘happy’ once you achieve what the other person has or enjoys.

Work on these questions so that you can manage these emotions in a positive and productive manner.

 

  1. Belief in Qadr/Allah’s Decree

Allah is the one who blesses everyone with what they are destined for and that which is in their best interest.

“Do they distribute the mercy of your Lord? It is We who have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world and have raised some of them above others in degrees [of rank] that they may make use of one another for service. But the mercy of your Lord is better than whatever they accumulate.” (Surah Az-Zukhruf; 43:32)

“And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing.” (Surah An-Nisa; 4:32)

 

  1. Build up your self confidence

Envy is usually a result of low self-esteem. Be confident of who you are, your achievements and your talents. Work on them to achieve greater heights.

 

  1. Life is a Test

Everything in this dunya is a test; difficult times as well as the blessings. If Allah can Give, He can take it back too. Generally, we humans start boasting about our achievements and forget to thank Allah. So thank Allah and succeed in your tests. As Allah mentions in the Holy Quran, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]”. (Surah Ibrahim; 14:7)

 

Bonus: Envy & Social Media

With the increased trend of people updating statuses and sharing posts about each and everything going on in their life, it’s very easy to fall in the trap of feeling inferior to others.

Topper at the university, landing the dream job, marriage, best wedding coverage, best spouse, latest car, huge mansion, branded clothes, baby shower, birthday parties, outings, check-ins, holiday trips, etc. Everything seems so beautiful and complete for such people, doesn’t it?

Know that no one in this dunya is without issues or problems, and such people have their own set of problems too (conversely, due to this self-advertising and over-exposure they may in fact, be inviting the evil eye towards themselves).  So do not worry too much looking at their status and picture updates. They have just as normal a life as anyone else.

 

Recommended Reading:

Diseases of the Hearts and their Cures

Focus – ‘Where is My Mind?’

By Khalida Jalili

focus

His Personal Struggle

He is sitting in a spacious lecture hall occupied with more than 200 seats; yet, he feels cramped and uncomfortable. He feels the headache coming back again, especially on the right side. He can hear the professor explaining notes on the PowerPoint slide, but his mind is hazy. He puts in effort to listen more attentively to each word and process its meaning.

To his dismay, he simply cannot process the entire lecture. His mind wanders off to the humidity in the room, how much he needs to study for his next exam, the last argument he had with his wife, the tasks he needs to complete for his work, and his hunger – how can he forget that he’s hungry?! So he quietly sneaks out in the middle of the class for the fourth time this semester…

“What is happening to me?” he asks himself, “Why can’t I just pay attention in class?” He decided to go home to rest. Two hours later, after taking a nap, eating, and remembering to pray Salah, he realizes that he had forgotten to attend a work meeting due an hour ago!

If any of this sounds familiar to you, you may be experiencing concentration issues that require attention. The good news is that there are many solutions for this, alhamdulillah!

Possible Health Issues

Struggling with focus does not necessarily mean you suffer from any disorder, as it may simply be a bad habit, especially in our current technology-centered age. However, it is important to know that according to WebMD’s Symptom Checker, memory and concentration deficits are associated with 30 conditions including:

  •    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  •    Alzheimer’s Disease
  •    Anxiety
  •    Brain tumor
  •    Dementia
  •    Depression
  •    Infections
  •    Injury
  •    Medication side effects
  •    Parkinson’s Disease
  •    Schizophrenia
  •    Sleep apnea or sleep deprivation
  •    Stroke
  •    Vitamin B12 deficiency

Health Grades additionally mentions that psychological conditions such as emotional trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and even stress can result in poor concentration. Of course, all of the disorders just mentioned are only diagnosed following the presence of many other related symptoms; lacking concentration does not automatically imply that you suffer from any of these disorders; it is simply one symptom in individuals with these conditions.

What Should I Do?

Most of us do not sit home all day in front of the TV or computer. We may have a spouse, children, siblings, students, or employees we need to spend time with or manage. We have responsibilities regardless of who we are. So whether we spend most of our time at home, in school, or at work, there may come times when we feel overwhelmed. Here are some ways to modify and maintain our environment, mind, body, and soul for better focus:

Environment and Personal Assistants

 

Limit Distractions, Increase Motivation – Choose a quiet environment for work and/or studying purposes. Keep the area you are working in clutter-free so that your mind does not wander off. If your phone distracts you, keep it on silent, power it off, or remove it from your study area. Tell yourself that you will access social media if and only if you have completed your task. Correct intentions are important for gaining reward from Allah, but they are also vital in motivating us to focus on what we need to do; intentions keep us working on what is important despite potential distractions.

Break it Down – A tip often given by productivity experts is to ‘break down’ any task you need to complete. If you have to study for a test on 10 chapters, for example, you can break it down to studying two, three, or five chapters a day.

Write it Down – Allah revealed an entire Surah titled, “The pen”. If that is not enough to show us the importance of writing, then we must remember that we are humans and therefore bound to forget. Life will be a lot easier if you just write down your to-do list and reminders on paper or even carry it around electronically. This will help you organize and start completing your greater-priority tasks first when you have most energy and focus. Google calendar and Evernote are great personal assistants for this!

Time Yourself – When experiencing concentration issues, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, it is very easy to lose track of time or to not accomplish much within a certain time range. Track your time by setting alarms on your phone, use apps such as Task Timer, or simply write down your start and end times on paper. If you find it difficult to focus after 20 minutes, for example, set your timer for that task for 20 minutes and take a five-minutes’ break before the next 20-minute increment.

 

Body & Mind

 

Exercise Your Mind – Neuroscience research has shown that the human brain is incredibly malleable, so we must “use it or lose it”. According to Debbie Hampton’s article “Neuroplasticity: The 10 Fundamentals of Rewiring Your Brain”, “It’s almost as easy to drive changes that impair memory and physical and mental abilities as it is to improve these things.” Memorizing (no wonder huffaazh have such an incredible memory!), solving crossword puzzles, reading, answering math problems, and learning a new language (Memrise definitely makes this fun) are all excellent ways to exercise your mind.

Exercise Your Body – Exercise, according to Harvard Men’s Health Watch May 2013 Issue, is an effective way to increase your concentration and memory. Having the willpower or allotting time for exercising regularly may not always be easy, but if you go against those tendencies and exercise at least twice a week, you will see instant changes, in shaa Allah. You have options to exercise by following Youtube videos or by attending your local gym. Other options include learning martial arts, karate, or simply taking consistent (fast-paced) walks in your neighborhood.

Let Your Brain Rest – Allah created the day and night for a reason. Imagine how life would be if the earth was either always dark or perpetually sunny. Sleep with the intention of giving your brain and body rest so that you can be energized enough to worship Allah during the day. This way, you will be worshipping Allah even though you’re sleeping, subhanAllah! Based on the article Sleep, Learning, and Memory by Harvard Medical School, sleep is essential to paying attention and learning, so do not forget to sleep early tonight!

Watch Your Stomach – Do you feel a difference after consuming a burger with French fries and a soda versus eating salmon, fresh salad, and drinking organically? That’s because our diet has an impact on not just our physical health, but on our mental health as well. You might be surprised at your clarity of mind after implementing a few helpful diet tips.

Soul

 

Exercise Your Soul by Holding on to Prayer and Dhikr- The most essential action that we should always earnestly put in effort to revolve our life around is Salah and worshipping Allah in general. Dr. Bilal Philips said, When we repair our relationship with Allah, He repairs everything else for us”.

When we remember to pray, life will become easier and more peaceful even if it is “chaotic,” in shaa Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “There is none who performs ablution and performs the ablution perfectly and then offers two rak’ahs of prayers concentrating on them with his heart and face except that paradise will be incumbent for him” (Sunan Abi Dawud).

Dhikr is an extremely important nourishment for the soul. Choose at least one dhikr  – whether it’s seeking istighfaar, saying subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, and Allahu Akbur 33 times after Salah, saying the morning and evening du’as, or any other dhikr – and maintain consistency

Shaykh Moutasem Al-Hameedi mentioned in his lecture Sweetness in Prayer that one key to finding khushoo’ – awe, concentration, fear, focus, humility – within Salah is developing khushoo’ and remembering Allah outside Salah.

Remember: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The Mufarridun have gone ahead.” He was asked, “Who are the Mufarridun?” He (ﷺ) replied, “Those men and women who frequently remember Allah” (Muslim).

Create a Routine – The Prophet (ﷺ) was asked, “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.” He added, ‘Do not take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability” (Bukhari).

Consistency in our actions, according to this hadith, is important; however, this is also important in keeping us focused. If we do not pray regularly, for example, it is more likely that we will forget prayer altogether when something else distracts us. If we set a certain time and place for our daily actions, whether it is praying, studying, or exercising, our mind will maintain focus and we will engage in it even if we are tired.

May Allah bless us with a strong ability to maintain focus in whatever good we do. Ameen.

Dealing with Difficult People – Part 1

By Naila Naiyyar

dealing_with_difficult_people

 

It’s common to face difficult people in life, be it at work, school, in the family, random people in the lift, at shops, while standing in a queue or even in the same house. These situations cannot be avoided because we are different people with different temperaments, backgrounds and perspectives seeing things from varying angles.

The best way to deal with such people is to identify their characteristics, know how to cope with, and learn how to deal with them.

 

Signs of Difficult People

The difficult people that you encounter in your life may have at least one of the following signs:

  • Attention-seeking
  • Negative and Pessimistic
  • Snubbing
  • Flying into a rage
  • Always right; want to win every argument
  • Unreasonable; illogical
  • Finding faults; blaming others for their problems
  • Not accepting mistakes; lying
  • Playing victim
  • Stubborn; don’t want to change or improve; not open to suggestions
  • Know-it-all; don’t like their authority to be challenged

 

Coping Strategies

 

1) Remain calm:

Once you recognize any of these signs in someone, the most important thing then is to maintain your composure and not react to him. The moment you lose your calm, full-blown conflict will ensue. When the opposing party is already in a negative state of mind, you do not want to get engulfed in their negativity. Remaining calm and walking away from the situation tactfully without letting the negative vibe affect you is the best option at such a time.

Remember that you do not want to stoop to their level in reacting rashly. Always be aware of your actions. You are not responsible for the way they behave but you have total control over your OWN behavior. Constantly remind yourself even in times of peace that you will not indulge in any rash action. Make loads of dua and ask Allah to make things easy.

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I misguide others , or I am misguided by others , lest I cause others to err or I am caused to err , lest I abuse others or be abused, and lest I behave foolishly or meet with the foolishness of others.” (Abu Dawud)

 

2) Identify the trigger buttons

Avoid topics that you know would trigger them. State the facts in a way other than being very direct or curt.

Also, what is it exactly that triggers YOU off? Not everyone will act or behave in the way we want them to; maybe that ticks you off. If you know the person very well, you would know what to expect. Being prepared to expect a certain behavior from the other person will help in letting it pass you without getting annoyed.

 

3) Beware of the temptation of being right

Avoid getting sucked in arguing or defending yourself. Even if they perceive you to be wrong, it is not the end of the world. An adamant person may not change his opinion anyway so it is better that you stay out of it. Being quiet is superior to winning.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever gives up telling lies in support of a false claim, a palace will be built for him in the outskirts of Paradise. Whoever gives up argument when he is in the right, a palace will be built from him in the middle (of Paradise). And whoever had good behavior, a palace will be built for him in the highest reaches (of Paradise).” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Be tactful in your dealings. Sometimes it is better that you stay to work towards maintaining peace than being right.

 

4) Limit interactions:

Set boundaries and limit interaction. With time you will realize that it’s alright to keep a certain level of distance without being impolite even if you live in the same house with that person. It’s not necessary to engage in a full conversation with them each time you see them especially when you know it will lead to conflict. Your happiness and peace is more important.

Let him have his say, and leave the conversation there. Keep your cool. Don’t let the negativity of the other person affect your mind, emotions, actions and words.

 

5) Identify your response pattern:

We all want to have ideal relationships with others but we need to realize that some things cannot and just would not change; we have to take it as it is. We need to analyze the situation and ask ourselves: Why is this happening? Could there be an angle to this situation besides what I am seeing and interpreting? What if it is me who is aggravating the situation? What is the best way I can use to deal this situation with? Surely, it is not that the other turns good, before suddenly turning nasty again!  Rather, it is highly likely that it is us who gets comfortable with them, only to be completely thrown off when there is an unexpected outburst from them, leading us again into shock, pain, grief and anger.

So identify the response pattern, because unless you change the way you respond and react to stressors, this cycle of stress and anger will be repeated over and over again.

 

6) Look at the positive aspect

Those you perceive to be ‘difficult’ might have within them other qualities that are good. Focus on those merits. Do not ignore the good things they do, nor avoid appreciating them.

 

Coping strategies to be continued in the next part, insha Allah

“I Am Muslim & I Want To Die” Part 1 – Shedding Light on Suicide

By Khalida Jalili

speak_up_reach_out

It is okay to talk about suicide. Yes, I said it. Talking about suicide or individuals who killed themselves is taboo in many societies. Ironically, based on the book Building Bridges by the U.S.A. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), open dialogues and education on suicide prevention can save lives.

According to the article Attempters’ Long-term Survival, 70% suicide attempters who were accompanied by medical care did not later die from suicide. However, the article further mentions that a previous suicide attempt is still a very strong risk factor for a future suicide; so addressing this issue is extremely important.

Handling Tough Times 

You may find yourself at a point in your life where you feel as if you cannot go on anymore, as if the only solution to all the problems you’re drowning in is your disappearance.

No matter how lonely, depressed, anxious, agitated, misunderstood, and enraged you feel, there are many ways to surmount your problems. Suicide is not one of them. In fact, it’ll make your situation worse, not better.

You must first believe that you can and will go on with life. Allah knows you can definitely handle whatever is going on in your life right now:

“Allah does not bear a soul more than it can bear” (Al-Baqarah; 2: 286)

Always Having Hope No Matter What

Two very powerful ahaadith to always keep in mind when feeling suicidal are:

“Let none of you die unless he has good expectations from Allah.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “None of you should wish for death because of a calamity befalling him; but if he has to wish for death, he should say: ‘O Allah! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me’.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

There is always hope. Have good expectations that Allah will make your situation better and facilitate the means to give you whatever is good for you. Allah is to His slaves as they assume Him to be. If we believe He will give us the best in both worlds, then He will because He is capable of doing that.

Asking For What You Want

Turn your despairing moments into earnest du’aas in which you ask Allah to alleviate your difficulties. Ask Him whatever you want, and He will give it to you – as long as it is good for you (as what we think is good for us may not always be good for us!). Allah is Al-Kareem, The Extremely Generous, so He will definitely bless you with the best and more – if you ask.

“And When My servants ask you concerning Me – Indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be rightly guided.” (Al-Baqarah; 2: 186)

Seeking Wisdom In The Darkness

Many times, our hearts ache when we don’t understand why certain occurrences ensued against our wishes. We may feel frustrated about the present and hopeless about the future. In order to rectify this, ask Allah to show you the wisdom and ease within your difficulties. Ask Him to improve your situation.

Understanding Yourself

Without understanding the cause, it’s not easy to eliminate the effect (i.e. suicidal thoughts). Ask yourself, “How often do I have suicidal thoughts and why? What triggers my thoughts? What can I do to protect myself?”

To better answer these questions, continue on to the second part of this article.

The Status of Women before and after Islaam – Shaikh Saalih Al-Fawzaan

islam-and-woman

The Status of the Woman before Islaam:

What is meant “before Islaam” here is the period known as Jaahiliyyah (Days of Ignorance), which the Arabs used to live in specifically and the people of the whole world in general. This was when the people did not have any Messengers amongst them and they were void of any guidance. And as is stated in the hadeeth, “Allaah looked at them – both Arabs and Non-Arabs – and hated them, except for some remnants from the People of the Book (who stayed upon the true message).” 

In most cases, the woman of this time period lived under critical conditions – especially those in the Arab societies, where they used to hate it when a girl was born. So amongst the Arabs were those who would bury their daughter while she was still alive until she died below the earth. And amongst them were those who let them live only to find a life of humiliation and degradation. Allaah says: “And when news of the birth of a female child was brought to any of them, his face would become dark and filled with grief. He hides himself from the people because of the evil that he has been informed of. Shall he keep her with dishonor or bury her in the earth? Certainly, evil is their decision.” [Surah An-Nahl: 58-59]

And Allaah says: “And when the female child who was buried in the ground will be questioned – for what sin was she killed?” [Surah At-Takweer: 8-9]

The word maw’oodah refers to the baby girl that was buried alive and left to die inside the earth. And if she was spared from being buried alive and allowed to live, then indeed she found herself living a life of degradation. This is since she was not allowed to inherit any portion of her relative’s estate no matter how much money he had and regardless of if she was suffering from poverty and dire need. The reason for this is because they would make the inheritance specific for men in exclusion of women. In fact, she would be distributed as part of her deceased husband’s estate, just as his money would be distributed in inheritance!

And there would be found a score of women living under one man, since they would not put any limits to the number of wives they could marry. So they wouldn’t show any concern for what occurred to the women as a result of that, such as living under cramped conditions, inconveniences and injustice.

The Status of the Woman after Islaam: 

But when Islaam came, it uplifted these injustices from the woman and returned her honor and self-esteem in humanity back to her. Allaah says: “O mankind, indeed We created you from a male and a female.” [Surah Al-Hujuraat: 13]

So Allaah mentions that she is the partner of man in the origin of humanity and likewise, she is partners with man in terms of being rewarded or punished for actions performed. Allaah says:“Whoever does good deeds, – whether male or female – while he or she is a true believer, to him We will give a good life and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” [Surah An-Nahl: 97]

Allaah says: “So that Allaah may punish the male and female hypocrites and the male and female polytheists.” [Surah Al-Ahzaab: 73]

And Allaah made it forbidden to consider a woman as a possession to be inherited from her dead husband’s estate, as He says: “O you who believe, you are forbidden to inherit women against their will.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 19]

So Allaah gave her independence in her individuality, such that she became one who can inherit as opposed to an object of inheritance. And Allaah gave the woman a right in the inheritance of her relative’s wealth. Allaah says: “There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by their parents and close relatives, whether the property be small or large – a legal share.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 7]

And Allaah says: “Allaah commands you as regards your children’s inheritance: to the male a portion equal to that of two females. If there are only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 11]

And this goes as well for the other texts that state a woman can inherit whether she be a mother, a daughter, a sister or a wife.

In the area of marital affairs, Allaah limited a husband to marrying the maximum of four wives, on the condition that he treats all of his wives fairly and equally according to his ability. And He obligated to the husbands to live with them in kindness, as He says: “And live with them honorably.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 19]

And He made the dowry her right and He commanded that it be given to her in full except for that which she permits from her own good will. Allaah says: “And give to the women their dowry with a good heart. But if they, out of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it without any fear of harm.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 4]

And Allaah made her the caretaker, commanding good and forbidding evil in the household of her husband – and the leader over her children. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “A woman is the guardian of her husband’s household and she will be asked (on the Day of Judgement) concerning those under her care.” Also, Allaah made it obligatory for the husband to spend on her and to clothe her in a good manner.

What the Enemies of Islaam and their Offshoots want today from their stripping the Woman of her Honor and rights: 

Indeed the enemies of Islaam – rather the enemies of humanity – today, from the disbelievers, hypocrites and those who have a disease in their hearts are enraged about what the Muslim woman has achieved from honor, glory and chastity in Islaam. This is because the enemies of Islaam from the disbelievers, hypocrites and those who have a disease in their hearts – they want from the woman that she serve as a trap by which they can lure and catch those with weak Eemaan and those who have perverted natures, after having fulfilled their depraved desires from her. Allaah says: “But those who follow their lusts wish that you should deviate tremendously away.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 27]

And those who have a disease in their hearts among the Muslims want the woman to be a cheap commodity exhibiting herself to those people of lustful desires and devilish inclinations. They want her to serve as an open commodity before their eyes so that they may find entertainment in her beautiful appearance or perhaps they may make her do something far worse than that.

This is why they expend great efforts in trying to make the woman go out of her home so that she can participate with men in their jobs – working side by side with them. Or that she can serve and tend to men as a nurse in the hospital or a flight attendant on an airplane or a teacher or professor in mixed non-segregated schools Or that she be an actress in the theatres or a singer or a broadcaster on the various forms of media – exposing her face and enticing men by her voice and appearance.

And the immoral magazines have taken pictures of young girls that are looking provocative and naked as a means for promoting and marketing their magazines. And some businessmen and companies have taken these pictures also as a means for promoting their product, such that they place these pictures in their advertisements and exhibits.

These evil actions are meant to distract the woman from her real and true duty, which is in the home. And this forces the husbands to hire female servants to raise their children and take care of the affairs of their households, which results in much mischief and great evil.

However, we don’t restrict a woman from working outside of her home, so long as she abides by the following guidelines:

1. She must have a need for doing this work or the community she lives in requires her to do this job, such that there cannot be found any man that can do the job.

2. She should do this after fulfilling the job she has at home, which is her primary job.

3. This job must be in an environment of women only, such as her teaching women (only) or doctoring and nursing female patients. And her work must be separate from men.

4. Likewise, there is nothing that restricts her from learning the affairs of her Religion – in fact she is obligated to do this. And there is nothing preventing her from teaching about the aspects of her Religion, so long as there is a need for that and her teaching is held in an environment of (only) women. And there is no harm in her attending classes in a masjid and so on, while being consistent in that and segregated from men. This can be seen from the women in the beginning of Islaam (i.e. the Sahaabiyaat), in that they would work and study and attend the masaajid.

Source: Tanbeehaat ‘alaa Ahkaam takhtassu bil-Mu’minaat (pg. 6-11)

Taken From – Invitation To Islaam