Friday, December 16, 2011

And the party begins


SO yesterday was the absolute worse day to be on the roads of Johannesburg, if I had known this then I would’ve stayed in my home. Later on I came to hear that it was by far “The Busiest Day of the Year”. This is because since today is a public holiday and next week is Christmas, followed by New Year the week after, most people worked for the last day yesterday and so almost everyone got off from work early and people made their way, trying to sort out last minute things before the holidays. It was madness, and I am really not exaggerating. I felt as if I was in a movie scene where everyone is trying to leave the city at the same time, you know one of those movies where the aliens come to earth or there’s some disaster looming and everyone just wants to leave, that’s what the streets of Johannesburg was like yesterday. I came home with a headache, completely hot because the summer heat was intensified tenfold while stuck in unmoving traffic, but I was grateful that I was not one of the people rushing to go off on holiday. The peace of my home was welcoming and today the quiet streets of Johannesburg seem like a blessing.

All this preparation and planning reminded me that most people have begun their partying. Yes, it’s that time of the year when everyone goes away on holiday, the schools are closed, people are off from work and everyone is enjoying the end of year partying, because after all we’ve all worked hard the whole year and we deserve the break!

 Now I have no problem with this, I understand that people work hard and that a good break is welcoming, but somehow it just seems that all the partying and the spending of money just makes people heedless. We spend so much money at the end of the year that we have to spend half of the new year trying to make up for all our spending, and after all the partying and holidays, what do we really have to show for it? If we’re lucky then we benefit from this for a short while, but as soon as the New Year kicks in, we’re back to struggling to make ends meet.

There’s something else about all this mindless spending though, once again it’s selfish. It makes us forget that there are millions of people in the world who have never had a holiday. Millions, who have No break from poverty, starvation, disease and oppression. Millions, who spend year after year without any celebrations, with no peace and definitely without any partying. So it just doesn’t make sense to me that year after year when it comes to December, masses of people in certain places plan for their holidays and their parties, spending huge sums of money in doing this, while this is unfathomable for so many others.

I know I might sound like a boring old prude, but all I’m trying to say is that while we’re thinking about our holidays and our breaks, perhaps we should also consider other people across the world who are suffering and then maybe, just maybe we would be inclined to scale down a bit and share. If we give even a small percentage of our end-year bonuses to those in need, it will make a huge difference to them and we can still enjoy our holidays. Imagine if all those people on the streets of Johannesburg yesterday had to share just a little with someone in need, how many people would have a meal to eat because of this, or some water or clothes. If so many of us can afford to party and go for holiday then surely we are not of those who are in need. If we share even a little then more people may have the chance of having some happiness and relaxation at the end of the year, even if it is only temporary.

So while I hope that people have a good holiday, I hope more that those people in need throughout the world could also have a holiday. And while we are enjoying our holidays, let us not forget what our purpose on this earth is, and that purpose does not include living for ourselves only.

May everyone have a wonderful holiday season, and let us try to remember to share!

Image from here

Monday, December 12, 2011

Your chance to make a small difference

There's so much suffering in the world and sometimes it feels like there's not much that us ordinary people can do about it. Every contribution is something though, it makes a difference to another person so we should never be put off from doing or giving because our little contribution seems minor.

Today I received one quick and easy way that you can make a difference and I decided to share this. Here are the details below:
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Since the start of the recent drought in the Horn of Africa, I’ve met countless families in Ethiopia struggling to grow the food they need.

So when an opportunity like this comes along, I’m quick to share it far and wide.
If you take this short online quiz, our generous partner LG Electronics will feed a hungry child in Ethiopia.
http://quiz.wfp.org/Ethiopia

Then share it with your networks to ensure another child is fed!

If you take the quiz and tell three friends and each of your friends tell three friends, imagine how many children in Ethiopia we could feed together!

Test your knowledge, engage others, and transform the lives of hungry children -- all in just a few minutes.
Will you test your Ethiopia IQ and then challenge your friends?

Thanks for getting involved,
Spread the word!Share on Facebook Judith


Judith Schuler
Communications Officer, Ethiopia
World Food Programme


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I took the quiz and failed terribly, which shows how much more I need to do and learn. Maybe you'll do better, in any case, maybe this can make a difference to someone even if it is small.

We are told that on the Day of Resurrection we will be handed our books of deeds and we will be shocked to see that in it every single thing would have been recorded, even things that we thought was minor.

I think we all need to have as many good deeds as possible, so let's try and do good wherever and how ever we can!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Something worth emphasizing


As I drove past the shiny, two-door sports car, my first instinct was; “Wow! That’s a smart Car!” But then I took a closer look...

The car was so small that probably only two people could sit in it. There seemed to be no space for anything else. This was definitely not a car someone would take to go shopping or run everyday errands, it just didn’t seem suitable or practical for this at all. Then I realized that was the point. A car like this was not intended for doing the groceries or picking kids up or anything else to do with other people at all. A car like this can be termed “An Individualistic car”.

What is the point though, I wonder, of having something that drives extremely well, looks really good, has all the latest gadgets and features, if you can’t use it to benefit anyone else, except yourself. I know many people will disagree with me. These days I feel like all my ideas are old-fashioned, even archaic, but it just doesn’t seem like any fun to have something that you can’t share with others.

This goes for anything though, anything new, expensive and modern. Take someone’s house for instance. If you have a smart house, with all the latest modern furniture, glass doors, priceless ornaments, etc, then how can that be a home for anyone? You can’t really share that with others because if they come to your house they’ll be too afraid to even sit somewhere because everything looks like a catalogue showroom.

Sharing is supposed to be a fundamental aspect of society. We are not meant to live individualistic lives, we are meant to be individuals who are an important part of other groups. The family, community, society, all these groups are supposed to work together so that we have a world in which people help each other and take care of each other.

Today everything is in reverse, it’s abnormal. The emphasis is on an individualistic lifestyle, and because of this, people in our very own families, communities and societies are suffering. Because of this individualistic mindset, teenagers are getting involved in all types of vices, they’re taking drugs, drinking, clubbing, etc. because they have no support system. Because of this focus on individualism, parents don’t spend enough time with their children and children are left wondering where they fit in. In this individualistic society, your neighbours can be evicted right in front of you and you don’t do a thing to change things. Your family members may have to travel with public transport and walk very far and wait very long, while you drive around town in your shiny convertible.  Within this individualistic society, all we think about is ourselves, how we can better our own lives, and we hardly consider how we can better the lives of others.

It shouldn’t matter if you drive a run down, old car, as long as it gets you where you need to go. It shouldn’t matter if your house is plain and simple, as long as you have a comfortable place to live. It shouldn’t matter if you’re not wearing name branded clothing or the latest fashions, as long as you have clothing to cover your body. It shouldn’t matter if you don’t get to eat out every week, or if your meals are plain and simple, as long as you have food to eat. What should matter are all the people out there who don’t have food, homes, clothes or cars! What should matter are other people! We are not meant to live individualistic lifestyles,   we are all put on this earth together to help and support each other and we will all be answerable for what we do.

The world would be a better place if we all stood together and helped one another, if we shed our individualistic attitudes and stop obsessing about , “me,me,me”, and start thinking about others, that’s when the world will become a better place. Until then...well, it really doesn’t matter how much we think we are improving our own lives, if we only think about ourselves then all we are, are selfish individuals. We may have the smart car, the fancy house, the designer clothes and shoes, and the three course gourmet meals, but that’s all we have, and in the end that doesn’t count for much at all.  

Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Confessions of a non-Shopaholic

 I really don’t like shopping; I think I have mentioned this before. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy buying the stuff I need. Alhamdullillah (All Praise is for Allah) I really do like going out and getting the stuff that I need, and stuff that I want as well. But I could never understand how people could spend hours and hours walking around in a shopping mall, going in and out of every single store. It’s madness in my opinion. Not that I haven’t fallen victim to this type of crazy shopping myself, to be honest I also have my moments of ‘shopaholism’. I remember when we my family and I went to Egypt a few years ago, it was so great to see fashionable Islamic clothing that we just went mad. My brothers were extremely irritated when we spent like about 4 to 5 hours in one particular shop. On a regular basis however, if I can avoid shopping then I do, and when I do have to go shopping I always try and make sure it’s on a week day when the shopping mall is quiet.
This is why I was particularly shocked when I watched a news clip the other evening about how crazy shopping can get over the Christmas period. I think it was Sky News that we were watching and they showed how people were going crazy shopping in America. One woman pepper-sprayed a whole crowd of people to get what she wanted; there were also mini stampedes in some supermarkets. Just watching the video clips on how people were “losing it” to get good shopping deals, disturbed me. I mean really, all the commotion over “stuff”, and “discounts”. Now, I know that people are doing Christmas shopping and they have a lot of gifts to buy for their loved ones, but it still is just material things and losing your dignity to get those things doesn’t make any sense at all.

Then a few days ago there was a bomb scare at the shopping mall new my home. They still don’t know what the motive was but there was a bag found with some explosive material or whatever it was, the police were very cryptic, they were obviously trying to reduce the panic. Fortunately nothing happened, some shop keepers saw the bag, became curious and alerted the police. Although the reason for this is not known, it seems that it could’ve been so that the place could be robbed or whatever it is. How crazy is that? Once again, it’s all about material things.

All this shopping hype makes me wonder about things. Year after year, month after month, week after week, people still continue to shop and shop. The world is in economic depression, but still the shopping centres are always full. New things get introduced on a regular basis, and of course people have to have the new things, and if you don’t have money for all the things, it’s okay, because there’s this nice little plastic thing, called a credit card.

The ploy at getting people to buy things is reaching all time highs. Previously when a store wanted you to take out an account with them they’d send you a letter telling you about all the benefits of opening an account with them. Nowadays they send you the letter with a personalised card. All you have to do is go into the store and “buy” something and the card will get activated. You don’t even need to fill out forms so they can check your credit status. The cards they send are beautiful, with lovely designs and colours on it, but the best thing about it is Your Own Name, printed perfectly on the beautiful card. Who wouldn’t be tempted to go into the store and use this? Especially when you see all the nice things that are displayed in their shop windows, naturally you’ll be itching to just go in there and use the card, right- telling yourself that you’ll be able to pay it off in small amounts so it’s no big deal. This is why I cut up those lovely cards as soon as I get them-temptation is a really bad thing, you know.

But anyway, there are many ways to get people to keep shopping; this is not the only method. Sales and discounts, brilliant advertising, free vouchers... I’m sure you’re already thinking of things you can add to this list.

So as far as shopping is concerned, it seems that as long as people are alive, people will continue to shop. Sometimes I think that perhaps this is just a part of life, and then I look back at history and find that people didn’t shop for things. They had simple lives, where they made what they needed, looked after animals, from which they further got their needs, made their own bread, etc, etc.... SO shopping then is a distinct feature of modern day society, and while I have to admit that everything is very easy and much less time consuming, I still can’t help feeling that way too much time and energy goes into shopping. That’s me though- I am a self-confessed “non-shopaholic” after all, so I guess you can expect these types of thoughts from me.

Image from here

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It’s a new year


No, it’s not January 01, but Alhamdullillah we are at the brink of the new Islamic year, moments away (depending on your time zone) from the Month of Muharram, 1433. That is 1433 year’s after hijrah (the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Madinah from Makkah).

The month of Muharram is a blessed month; one of the special month’s in Islam. There are many virtues and blessings in this month, but the thing I like the most is the spirit of sharing. The 10th of Muharram is known as the Day of Ashura, and this is an extra special day. Amongst the many traditions on this day, is the tradition that if someone spends on their family members then they will be given far more back in return. So this is a beautiful time, a time when family ties should be strengthened, a time which reminds us of Allah Almighty’s mercy and we should be grateful.

Muslims don’t celebrate the new year by partying, instead we are encouraged to bring in the new year with fasting so that we can be in a pure spiritual state when the year begins. SubhanAllah.

So with the end of 1432 I have to say Alhamdullillah, I cannot deny all the blessings which Allah has bestowed on me this year and although I can never show full thanks, I am very grateful. As for the various trials, tests and difficulties, I can only pray that I somehow managed to pass these, and Allah is Indeed the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy.

 And with the approach of 1433 I pray that Allah gives us all the good of this coming year, and may it be a year which brings us closer to truth and closer to Allah Almighty. May Allah help us all to experience the true beauty of Islam, true connection with Allah, true brotherhood (and sisterhood), true peace and contentment.
May you all have a blessed and amazing 1433- Inshaa-Allah!


Image from here

Monday, November 21, 2011

The reversal of roles

I was just wondering, does anyone else find it strange that men today care more about their appearance than women do? Seriously, men can be seen in hair salons, going for facials, waxing and even manicures and pedicures sometimes. The new idea of “the perfect man” is someone who is clean shaven and beautiful; with perfect hair and skin; Then I don’t have to tell you what the new idea of “the perfect woman “is, do I? Well the new idea of what a woman should be like is the ultra-tough woman, who’s either out in the career world asserting her power and status, or driving her kids around in a 4x4, never hesitating to show everyone who’s in charge. Whatever the role is, it doesn’t matter, as long women of today are not soft, petite and feminine.

Now, I know that there are many people who would just want to kill me for even writing this. I remember when I was doing my psychology undergraduate degree. One of the important arguments we used to have was about the socialization of males and females. Our lecturers would argue adamantly that it’s not natural for girls to want to play with dolls and for boys to want to play with cars. Instead, according to them children are socialized into these roles from a very young age based on old traditional values of their parents. I could never agree with this argument 100%, some things were true but as a Muslim I know that Allah has created men and women differently and we are supposed to be living out our natural roles in order for harmony to prevail in society.

Of course this does not mean that one role is better than the other or that our different roles make some of us more superior than the others. No, Allah Almighty has told us that men and women are equal in the sight of Allah and the only thing that differentiates people is their piety. On a social, functional level however, we cannot all play the same role because then we’d just have chaos, which is pretty much what is happening in today’s time, although very few people are actually willing to admit to this.

So what happens when the men in society are over concerned about looking good; when they compete for who is the “sexier man”, and who has the better hairstyle, and whose skin is softer and glows more? It’s a complete reversal of everything and as a woman I am left wondering where that leaves us. I mean honestly, who wants to be around a man who spends more time making himself look good than you do?

And I could even take this discussion further by talking about men’s clothing. I remember a while ago I was walking in a department store and looking at the “men’s” clothing I couldn’t help but think that their clothing looked much prettier than the clothing they had in the women’s section. I’m not even joking here, it’s really true. They had these cotton tops with embroidery on it, for men, and really nice fitting pants, not to mention some of the shirts they sell. It really was weird.

So yeah, I guess that’s just the way things are today, but I like being feminine and soft, I like wearing pretty clothes and I’d really prefer to be the one taking longer to make myself look good. As for men, well in my opinion they should look like men. The “metrosexual male” doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m not saying men shouldn’t be well groomed, clean and neat, after all our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was always well groomed, clean and neat, but from the descriptions we are given, he (PBUH) actually looked like a man. So I guess it shouldn’t hurt to have facial hair, and the perfect hairstyle is unnecessary, and seriously manicures and pedicures shouldn’t need to feature at all. In any case, this is just all my opinion, I know that there are many people who would differ with me, but you know what, I’m not asking anyone to agree with me, I’m just telling you what I find strange about today’s world and each person is allowed to have their own opinion.

Image from here

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the name of freedom

While reading news headlines recently I was so shocked to see an advertisement for “actors” to “star in a porn movie”. The advert was a news article inviting people to audition as if it was a perfectly normal thing. I really was surprised and I actually had to check to make sure that I had read correctly. Unfortunately I had read correctly, this was so disappointing I can’t tell you how it sickened me.
What can you can expect though, from a society which insists on absolute freedom in all regards. It’s no wonder that things which used to be sacred are no longer regarded in this manner. So much so that even very young, innocent children are exposed to all sorts of lewdness and nudity.

 Pornography is a real problem in our societies. The negative effects are undoubtedly obvious (that is for those who actually open their eyes and ponder). This includes an increase in sexual related crimes, increase in childhood sexuality and teen pregnancies. Sometimes it has even lead to the breakdown of marriages and families. In short, this is a threat to a moral and righteous way of life. And the problem is that pornography is so easily available to anyone and everyone. Previously people had more shame and perhaps they were stopped from watching these things because of the embarrassment of having other people (albeit strangers) know that you are watching it. People had to go out and get access to these films or magazines, but now there are no boundaries because these things can very easily be accessed in private on cell-phones and computers.

But that’s not all. While many of us would never even think of watching pornographic films or looking at pornographic images, most of us are exposed to various forms of pornography without even realizing it. Television adverts, movies (including family movies and even animations), billboards, magazines and the internet (of course) all contain high degrees of pornographic material. The only difference is that it’s given a different label, thus making it easier for people to accept it. And so we have a situation where it’s extremely difficult not to be affected by this, because even if you decide to only watch the news, you are still affected in some way or the other.

 And through it all, these so-called ideas of freedom gets thrown in our faces like nothing else matters. ‘People should be free to do whatever they want to’, we are told. ‘It’s their lives and their bodies so why should they be bound by limits’, right? But I have to ask the question; Can “freedom” at the expense of morality, respect, righteousness and modesty actually be regarded as freedom at all. When hearts and minds are being corrupted with filth; is this really freedom? When children’s innocence is taken away because of all this, is this still “freedom”.

 If human beings have no limits at all then they become just like animals, because it is balance and the ability to limit oneself appropriately, not unbridled freedom which differentiates humans from animals. And while I write this, I can’t help but remember the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) something to this effect:
There will come a time towards the end of times where people will have sexual intercourse in public like donkeys.”

Alhamdullillah (All Praise is to Allah), the words spoken by our Beloved Prophet (PBUH) always proves to be truthful.

 So while they candy-coat all forms of vices and make it look like freedom, Muslims need to remember that we have been given the perfect way to live our lives. We have no need to adopt other lifestyles, and we should not be fooled by false ideas of freedom. You see, we have real freedom, because the freedom we have allows us to live modest and respectful lives which in turn should lead to natural peace and harmony. We have a freedom which elevates us as human beings, and does not degrade or demoralise us, thereby making us behave just like animals.

 May Almighty Allah guide and protect us all Inshaa-Allah!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eid Greetings


MAY YOU ALL HAVE A BLESSED EID. MAY ALLAH ALMIGHTY ACCEPT THE SACRIFICE OF EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, MAY ALLAH SHOWER HIS BLESSINGS ON ALL THOSE WHO HAVE PERFORMED THE HAJJ AND MAY THEIR HAJJ BE ACCEPTED BY ALLAH. MAY ALLAH GRANT EVERY MUSLIM THE OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM THIS BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY AND MAY ALLAH HELP US TO CONSTANTLY IMPROVE OURSELVES SO THAT WE CAN BECOME PEOPLE THAT ALLAH IS PLEASED WITH.


Image from here

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who gets to decide when the world is over-populated?


 So the latest buzz is that the world’s population has reached 7 billion. Some people are really freaking out about this, because for them this means that people are having too many babies. Some countries have limited the amount of children that people can have and others, like me are wondering what the point is of making such a big fuss about a thing which we have no control over.

Although people would like to believe that they have control over the amount of people in the world, the truth is that this is something which has been pre-ordained by Allah Almighty, and no one has the right to try and control this. It is Allah who creates and it is Allah who sustains. Allah created the Earth and thus Allah will put people on Earth accordingly.

 The problem comes in however, when people mess around with things that Allah has already pre-ordained. When we humans decide to change the natural order of things then the problems start arising. You see, in my opinion, there should be enough resources on Earth for all its 7 billion people, and likewise, there should be enough space. But these resources as well as the space is so unequally distributed that more than half the people on Earth are suffering, while a small percentage live lives of extravagance and luxury. Now, if everything had to be equally distributed, then there wouldn’t be the type of problems that we have today, and so-called “overpopulation” would never be a problem.

 Instead of making right what is wrong however, we humans have decided to take action by correcting one wrong with another. So now instead of equally distributing resources, etc, we’ve decided that the solution is for people to have less children because then no one has to part with the precious resources which they have wrongfully claimed as their own.

 So when people have many children it’s regarded as “irresponsible behaviour” and “backwardness”. The ideal family only consists of 2 children, or at most 3. Anything above this is craziness. And through all this modern day thinking, we’ve forgotten what Allah Almighty has already told us.

 In the Glorious Quraan Allah tells us that Allah has already pre-ordained how many children each person will have and whether these children will be girls or boys. Clearly, population of the world is in Allah’s hands and human beings have no right to interfere with this.

 Although people today are very eager to point out the “harms” of having many children, I will tell you from personal experience that big families are healthy in many ways. I’m not saying that there are no issues, life isn’t perfect so there always has to be issues. However, with more siblings people have more support. Alhamdullillah I come from a big family (we are 8 children), and for me this was always a blessing. Not only has my family allowed me to stay grounded, my siblings have been my support structure, my friends and confidantes, and many times my punching bag (not literally of course). We are able to do more together as a bigger unit and this has given us strength. I have learnt so many different things because of the differences in each of my siblings. Most importantly though, I have learnt important human values such as sharing and giving!

 This is not only my experience. I have a close friend who also comes from such a big family and she has related similar experiences to me. I have an aunt who had 13 siblings and I’m always amazed when I see the unity and closeness of that family. There are many such stories, stories which strongly support big families. Yet these stories are never heard, and instead when women reach their fourth child then people already begin to act like there’s something wrong with that and like the woman is so irresponsible for having so many kids.

 Allah Almighty has also said in the Glorious Quraan that we should not fear, because Allah will provide for the children we have. So if Allah provides for all the people that Allah has created then what’s the problem? Really, the way I see it, the problem is not “overpopulation”. The problem is “unequal distribution of resources” which basically amounts to selfishness.

 So there are 7 billion people in the world! Alhamdullillah (All praise is for Allah), Indeed Allah is the Knower of all things and if Allah wills then this will increase, and if Allah wills then this will decrease. It shouldn’t be a problem, because after all it is Allah who Creates and Allah is the ultimate Controller of All Things.

 May Allah Almighty guide us and protect us, inshaa-Allah.
 
Image from here

Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Women in Islam


Alhamdullillah (All praise is for Allah) I once again have the privilege of writing about an amazing Muslim woman, and honestly, when I read about the lives of these great women, I truly do feel honoured, just to be receiving the knowledge of these perfect role models. This post will briefly focus on the life of an amazing woman, known as both "Mother of the faithful" and "Mother of the poor".

  •   Zaynab (May Allah be pleased with her) embraced Islam early on.
  • She was known as “Mother of the poor” because she always helped the poor and the needy.
  • She married Abdullah ibn Jahsh and migrated with him to Abyssinia.
  • Her life with 'Abdullah was a clear example of love, obedience and self-sacrifice in marital obligations.
  • The personality of her husband, 'Abdullah, had really increased her in status; but this made her more humble and more sincere in her love for Allah and His Messenger (PBUH) .
  • She was never seized by ostentation and arrogance when she married 'Abdullah who was a cousin of Allah's Messenger (PBUH).
  • Her husband Abdullah ibn Jahsh was martyred in the battle of Uhud.
  • The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) knew the pain of separation that Zaynab was suffering from. So he made efforts to console her and he proposed marriage to her. She welcomed the proposal and accepted it. And she entered the household of the Prophet (PBUH) as a mother of the faithful.
  • Eight months after this marriage, Zaynab, the mother of the faithful and the mother of the poor seriously took ill and died.
  • She was the only wife of the Prophet (PBUH) who died in his life after Khadeejah. The Prophet (PBUH) was very sad for her departure. He invoked Allah to forgive her and he always remembered her days in patience.
     
On her character:
  • Zaynab (May Allah be pleased with her) was very pious. The fragrance of her piety spread with her name.
  • She was also very humble and did not show pride or ostentation.
  • She spent most of her time listening to the tales of hardship among the poor and fulfilling their needs.
  • She was a polite and generous lady.

May Allah Almighty help us to become as generous as Zaynab (May Allah be pleased with her). May we learn to be selfless and giving, like she was. May we become humble and pious and follow in the example of this amazing woman, Inshaa-Allah!

Information sourced from:
1. Muhammad ‘Ali Qutb, (2007). Women Around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House.
2. Mothers of the Faithful: The Pure And Spotless. Johannesburg: A Saaberie Chisty Publication:
For more detailed reading- books can be downloaded from:

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    The horrible effects of alcohol


     It’s almost holiday season and I’m sure that many people can’t wait for the year to end so that they can go off and enjoy the year-end holidays. I’ve noticed something else that comes with the year-end though; it’s an increase in adverts warning people about abusing alcohol.

    Even though warnings are increased around this time every year, every year the amount of people that die because of alcohol related accidents is enormous. Obviously the warnings do nothing but decorate the numerous billboards and street poles!

    I don’t have to elaborate on the terrible effects of alcohol. We know this all too well- reckless driving is only one of them, there are of course many more!

    The reason that I’ve decided to discuss “Drinking and Driving” is because recently I’ve been personally affected by this, in a very indirect way. About 4 weeks ago my aunt’s sister was going home when she met up in a terrible accident. A friend of hers passed away in this accident and she and the lady who helps her clean her home were very badly injured. She was in a semi-conscious state for about 2 weeks and she suffered many injuries. Alhamdullillah (Praise be to Allah) that she now seems like she is on the way to recovery. What does this have to do with the topic at hand you may be wondering, well, we were told that the driver of the car that drove into this lady was drunk on that night!

    Can you imagine that, a night of drinking and partying caused so much harm! This is only one such case, there are many more, it happens all the time and still alcohol is freely available to anyone, at any time, (at least here in South Africa that is the case), and all that they’re doing to combat this is to put up more warnings. It’s crazy really!

    The more I look at it, the more I can see the wisdom in alcohol being forbidden in Islam. This is really such a horrible thing. People become selfish and ridiculous when they are drunk and what’s worse is that other people’s lives are put in danger!

    Then we have the flipside of alcohol warnings, we have alcohol advertisements. Recently there has been talk in South Africa about banning alcohol advertising, but as yet, nothing has been done about this. Whereas warnings remind people that alcohol is unsafe, adverts show off about the “wonderful” lifestyle alcohol can apparently bring you. These advertisements display a life of luxury, friendship, brotherhood, connection, love- all these things can apparently be achieved through alcohol. Basically what they are saying is that if you want a good life then you should drink alcohol. And although this is the biggest load of nonsense, people believe it, because of the way in which it is portrayed. Honestly, I wonder if the people in charge of these alcohol companies actually have a conscience!

    I think about Islamic history and remember the story of the time  when alcohol was forbidden in Islam. The Sahaabah (Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) -May Allah be pleased with them) were drinking alcohol at the time it was banned, and when they heard the revelation they emptied their bottles immediately without the slightest hesitation whatsoever, and they never went back to it again! SubhanAllah! If only all people of today were so strong. In today’s times people can see the ill effects of alcohol, it’s so obvious and blatant, yet they are not willing to leave it despite this. (Of course this does not apply to all people)

    How people can so happily indulge in something that causes harm to themselves as well as others is beyond me, but Alhamdullillah, I think I should be thankful that this is something I cannot relate to.

    May Allah Almighty keep us away from all things which cause harm and may Allah give guidance to us all, Inshaa-Allah!

    Image from here.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Lamenting the good old days

     I love listening to my parents tell stories of what things were like when they were young. It always transports me back to a time that I can only imagine; A simple time, when people were free to walk around without worrying about getting robbed, kidnapped, murdered, or raped. A time when children could play in the streets for hours on end and parents didnt have to fear for the safety of their innocent ones; A time when bread, milk and meat were bought on a day-to day basis from the local shop around the corner; A time where neighbours knew one another, and treated each other like family. There were no high walls, barbed wire, electric fencing or high rise apartment buildings for that matter stopping people from knowing each other. It sounds like it was a humane time, where everything was simple and easy. And although people had very little in terms of material wealth, they seem to have had an abundance of things with real value.

    As much as I love hearing my parents speak about those times, I cant help but feel sadness. See, Ive always thought that I actually belonged in those times instead of these times. And I know that we should be grateful for the times we are in because everything has its benefits and downfalls, but seriously, I cant help getting frustrated with the society we live in today. If those times were humane times, then I think these times can be described as mechanical, robotic, technology driven, crazy times.

    The local news attests to this every evening. The headlines here in South Africa read something like this; Teenager kidnapped on her way to school and murdered, Young child killed for muti (traditional medicine), Killers of farmer were reportedly abused continuously,  Teenager forced to have abortion after affair with her school teacher.... It can go on and on, and its the same story every single day, different people, but the exact same story. Its so depressing and really, where is the humanity in this? The world seems to be filled with crazy people. Then there are the stinking rich who waste money on the most ridiculous of things while people suffer all over the world. Everything about these times seems to be upside down.

    Besides all this though, life in general just seems to have gotten extra complicated over the past, like thirty years or something. Whereas in my parents time (and theyre not that old) very few people had cars, now the roads are so full that traffic makes people go crazy and the instances of road rage are on a steady increase, not to mention serious accidents. Then, when people didnt have proper homes in those times, these days many people own huge homes with many additional rooms, yet there is disunity in families and in society. Whereas before things were less convenient, and everything couldnt easily be purchased at a supermarket, now everything is at our fingertips (literally) but people are unhealthy, unhappy and alone. I could go on and on but I think you get my point by now!

    So yeah, thats why when I hear my parents speaking I have a longing, a longing for simple times, a longing for simple people, for simple interactions with others and for a generally simpler life. Alhamdullillah (Praise be to Allah) there are many benefits in our times, but it still somehow seems that those benefits come at a cost, like humanity as a race is regressing instead of progressing.  I dont know what you think, perhaps I am too old fashioned and boring, but listening to my parents speak about their youth always tends to make me feel like I missed out. Maybe one day it will be the same for my children, maybe theyll look back and regard these times as good times, who knows what the future holds for the human race, in the end, Allah The Creator, is the Knower of all things, across al times!

    All that I can do is try to make my life as simple as possible, after all, wasnt simplicity a beautiful part of the Sunnah (way of life) of our Most Beloved Leader, Muhammad (PBUH).
     Image from here

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    On time, health and old age


    If you are a regular reader of this blog you would have noticed that I have not posted anything for a while now. Well, what can I say; sometimes life comes in the way of blogging!
    So here’s the thing, I’ve been really busy with work. I’m sure you must be familiar with those extremely busy moments, you know, those sleepless nights, I can’t think of anything else accept all the work I have to do moments.
    Then to top it off I had a few “off days” last week where I wasn’t feeling too well. I think it was a bug or something.
    Also, my grandmother is staying with us again and although she won’t admit it (she must be the youngest 81 year-old around, always wanting to be on the go), my grandmother needs help. Things are not easy for her anymore; in fact, even walking from one room to the next tends to leave her out of breath.
    So I have some very valid reasons for my short disappearance from blogosphere, but I’m not writing about these things to make excuses, and definitely not to complain.
    Alhamdullillah (Praise be to Allah), my work seems to be easing off, and I am able to do other things once again, (as you can see). My health is back to normal and I feel good once more, and I actually enjoy having my grandmother around. But the real reason I’ve mentioned these things is because it reminds me of a very special hadith. Perfect words of wisdom uttered by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH);
    The Prophet (saw) advised to: “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death
    (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim).


    After reading this beautiful hadith, which happens to be one of my favourites, I’m sure the purpose of my post is much clearer. When I am so busy with work, I definitely miss my free time, when I am sick I long for my health. When I don’t have enough money to buy the things I really want, I look back at times when I could get everything I wanted, and I’m sure that like my grandmother, when I am old, I will fondly recall my youthful days and long for times when I could do all the things I wanted to do without getting tired or ending up sick.

    So this makes me wonder, what about taking benefit from my life before my death? Am I doing enough to ensure that my life is beneficial for me so that I don’t have many regrets in the hereafter, or will I look back and wish that I had not taken my life for granted?  Sometimes we all need to self-reflect and ponder about our lives.

    Alhamdullillah that we have been blessed with the best of wisdom and if we follow it, Inshaa-Allah we will be successful. So let us try harder to take benefit from these 5 things, before we don’t have it anymore. Or, in the very least, let us start by taking benefit of just one of these things, and as time progresses we can move on to another.

    May the Almighty Allah ease all of our burden’s and help us to be the best of people, Inshaa-Allah

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    To Smile is Charity

    It’s funny how little things in life tend to make a difference, or maybe it’s just me?

    See, there’s this Robot (Traffic Light) in Johannesburg that has a smiley face on it. Unlike all the other’s which just show you a blank circle when the light changes, this one has a smiley face. So when it turns green, a smiley face happily tells you that you can go.

    It’s a little thing, I know, and many people might just drive by without even giving it a second thought, but for me, this traffic light is a reminder, an echo of life.

    Isn’t it nice when someone smiles at you, amidst all the people that just walk by, blank expressions on their faces? That person who actually smiles tends to stand out. It should ideally be the other way around, but this is not an ideal world, unfortunately!

    The Blessed Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) taught us that even to smile at someone is charity. There is indeed such wisdom which lies behind this seemingly small teaching!

    Imagine if someone is having a really bad day, going through whatever problems it may be, and you take the time to smile at her, wouldn’t that gesture make a huge difference in that person’s life, creating some sort of hope. I know that for me it’s really nice when a fellow sister smiles at me, and it’s true that when you are negative, the negative energy that you transmit can easily be picked up by others around you.

    I’ll share a little story here, my own personal experience. There’s a parking attendant who stands outside a bank I often go to, helping people to find a parking spot. I always greet him, since you tend to become familiar with people you see often. When he became a Muslim he began to greet even more enthusiastically as we now shared a common faith, and he could use the greeting of peace (As salaamu alaykum). One day I was lost in thought as I got out of the car and I didn’t pay much attention to him. The poor man picked up on that immediately, and he said to me; “sister, are you angry at me, how come you didn’t greet today?” (or something to this effect) I honestly felt so bad, but it reaffirmed the fact that negativity breeds negativity, and vice versa.

    See, it’s the little things in life that make a difference. Although we may think it only makes a small difference , we don’t know that it may in fact make a huge difference in someone else’s life. So we should try to smile more often,(as a good friend of mine always reminds us, to smile is charity but that doesn’t mean that women should go around smiling with the men we see, they may get the wrong idea, if you know what I mean). But, yes , by all means we should smile with our fellow sisters, and brothers should smile with fellow brothers, and for those sisters who wear niqab and cover their faces, there’s no excuse, a friendly greeting is never too difficult. Remember that we should greet those that we know and those that we do not know. This is another beautiful teaching of our Beloved Prophet (PBUH).

    So let’s try to practise on these small but very significant teachings, and let us remember that it doesn’t take much to be charitable.

    Image from here: