Yusuf (a.s.) and his Brothers

Yusuf (a.s.) and his Brothers

Yusuf (a.s.) and his Brothers 

Years after the incident when the brothers of Yusuf (a.s.) had deceptively taken him outside the city, beaten him and flung him into the well thereby forcing their father into perpetual weeping and anguish over his loss, the brothers heard that Yusuf had become the king of Misr. They and their father went to meet him.

 

The very first sentence which Yusuf uttered upon seeing them, was: And He was indeed kind to me when He took me out of the prison...Holy Qur’an, ch. Yusuf (12), vs. 100.

Apparently, it was out of courtesy that Yusuf desisted from mentioning the troubles he had experienced; first being flung into the well, then his subsequent slavery and then unpleasant incidents, which he had to endure due to the acts of his brothers. He did not wish to revive those bitter memories, which would cause them to experience mortification and embarrassment.

 

 He then added, “It was Shaitan who incited my brothers to commit those inappropriate deeds towards me, hurling me into the well and separating me from my father; however, the Glorious God exhibited kindness towards me in that he made those very acts a means for granting eminence and reverence to our family!”

 

Attributing the unjust acts of his brothers to Shaytan and regarding him as the prime culprit for the crimes of his brothers, was another example of Yusuf’s (a.s.) magnanimity. He thus shielded them from embarrassment and left them with an opportunity to apologize for their deeds.

 

He said:

 

“There shall be no reproof against you, (from) this day.Holy Qur’an, ch. Yusuf (12), vs. 92.

You can rest assured with respect to me, for I have forgiven you and chosen to disregard all that has happened previously, and on behalf of God too, I can give you this good news and seek from Him that Allah may forgive you and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful. Ibid, vs. 92.

“Surely he who guards (against evil) and is patient (is rewarded.Ibid, vs. 90  

for surely Allah does not waste the reward of those who do good .Taareekh-e-Anbiya, pg. 334-347.

Author’s note: The lesson, which Hadhrat Yusuf (a.s.) taught everyone, was that of exhibiting kindness and beneficence in response to evil behaviour, and hopefully, we too can conduct ourselves in the same manner with respect to our brethren-in-faith, Inshaallah.

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Recompense for the Poems

Recompense for the Poems

 

One Nawroz day, Mansur Dawaaniqi, the Abbasid Caliph who took over the caliphate after his brother Abu al-A’bbas Saffaah, ordered Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s.) to present himself in the gathering of the Eid of Nawroz.  This was so that the people could come and greet him and offer their gifts to him, which he should accept.

 

The Imam (a.s.) told Mansur, “Nawroz is the customary Eid of the Iranians and nothing has been said about it in Islam.”

 

To which Mansur replied, “This act is politically motivated and is intended to keep my soldiers happy.  I place you under the oath of the Great God that you accept my request and present yourself at that gathering.” 

 

The Imam (a.s.) agreed and arrived at the assembly. The army generals, nobles and the common masses arrived in his august presence, greeted him, and presented their gifts to him.

 

In the meantime, Mansur had ordered one of his slaves to position himself near the Imam (a.s.) and maintain a record of the money and gifts presented to him.  The last person who had come to meet the Imam (a.s.) was an old man, who said to him:

 

“O’ Son of the Messenger of Allah!  I am an impoverished person and lack the money to present you with gifts, but my gift for you today are three verses of elegy, which my grandfather had composed for your grandfather, Husain Ibn A’li(a.s.).”

 

Having said this, he then recited the verses.عَجِبتُ لِمَصقُولٍ عَلاَكَ فرِندُهُ     يَوْم الْهياَجِ عَلاَکَ غُباَر

 

The Imam (a.s.) responded appreciatively, saying, “I have accepted your gift,” after which he prayed for the man.

 

Then, turning to the slave, he instructed, “Go to Mansur, inform him of these gifts and ask him what has to be done about them?”

 

The slave did as he was told and upon returning, said to the Imam (a.s.):

 

“The Caliph has said: I have given them to you (Imam Musa Kadhim) as gifts.  Spend them as you desire.”

 

The Imam (a.s.) told the old man, “Take these riches and gifts, for I am giving them all to you as gifts.”

Muntahal Aa’maal, vol. 2, pg. 187

HOW TO GUIDE YOUR CHILDREN To SUCCESS?

HOW TO GUIDE YOUR  CHILDREN To SUCCESS?

_dsc2956_thm.jpgIf you want your son to be that human being who would draw his way in life with determination and confidence, one who would overcome all obstacles and would become a successful personality in the future. You have to adopt the following recommendations,  that  were  reached through scientific experiments and reaffirmed by the experience of parents, over many successive generations:
1 – Let him Depend on Himself
A child cannot depend on himself unless you can build up his confidence and his capabilities. And this could be done in one way only; To let him try to do all kinds of things regardless of how tough they might seem to be. The child who is used to do his room, to walk to school by himself, to take care of his games and toys, and in short to overcome the difficulties he faces daily, is the child who could have a strong personality and enjoy a successful life. In order to do this, there is no need to enroll our children in special educational schools. Rather it is enough to let them face problems without depending on us.

2- Encourage Your Child at every Possible Chance
I can see no stronger motive for success like encouraging people whether young or old, ignorant or wise. For encouragement is like oil to a machine or like gas to an airplane. Furthermore, were it not for encouragement, many scientists would not have risen to the status of fame and immortality they come to enjoy. Life is full of evidence that demonstrate the great achievements that encouragement played a role in accomplishing.

One of the great orators said once:
“I do not remember that I have ever committed a mistake in any of my speeches or hesitated or forgot what I wanted to say. Nor have I felt afraid of the public. All this is due to the encouragement I recieved the very first time I spoke in public 40 years ago. At that time a lecturer was supposed to address a family meeting in our house but he was late. As I happened to have memorized a poem I read it to the people who were beginning to get bored and annoyed. One of the great academics who happened to be present, praised my recitation to the extent that he used to say “bravo” every time I finished reciting a single verse. Forty years later, I have delivered thousands of speeches and received thousands of encouragement  messages and words of praise. But the first time I heard the word “bravo” is still the one that rings in my ears and gives me strength and encouragement”.

Encouraging people and children gives them hope and fills them with happiness. Why should we hesitate to encourage others when all it costs us is a few words knowing the great results it will achieve.
3- Lead them to become good people.
A successful father is the one who nurtures a strong and even iron like will in his children. Such a strong will could only be achieved by strengthening one’s spirit so that it could become more ascetic than that of the well to do and more capable of overcoming difficulties.

There are many ways to help the father build his child’s will power, the most important of which are:
– Refusing to accommodate to all his wishes and give him every thing he asks for.. A  child has to learn to be patient and undemanding. To teach your child to be patient we recommend:

When you want to buy something for your child or accommodate one of his demands, think it over for a while and then go ahead with the decision you have reached. The second method is to let him acquire the traits of the faithful believers, that of asceticism, patience, prudence, fasting and prayers. The Messenger (P.B.U.H.) says:

“Teach your children to pray when they become seven”

In addition to strengthening the faith of the child, prayers teaches commitment and strengthens the personality. Fasting the month of Ramadan could also strengthen the child’s will power.

4- Let Them Acquire a Positive Attitude:
Success in life needs optimism and a permanent positive attitude. On the other hand, failure is always a product of pessimism and negativism. That is why we find that Islam fights pessimism and considers it one of the qualities of the unbelievers. The Holy Quran says:

“Do not despair of Allah’s mercy; none but the unbelievers despair of Allah’s mercy”.

The prophetic tradition says:

“Be optimistic of good tidings and you will be so rewarded”.

Therefore the parents are required to make of their children positive people who are always optimistic and enthusiastic, and who always have hope in Allah, and His support of His followers, even in the darkest of times.

5- Teach them to be Ambitious and Motivated
One of the great religious scholars asked his son once:
– What do you want to be in the future?
– I want to be like you.
– You will not be able to do so. Because what made me reach what I am today was that I wanted to be like Imam Ali (A.S.), and of course I did not achieve my goal but became what I am today. You only want to be like me and consequently you also will not reach your goal. If you want to become like me you should aim as high as I did.

Imam Ali (A.S.) says: “The best aims are the highest”.

To discover the essence of a man and know if he is worth of being considered among the great, look at the aims he seeks to achieve… Such aims could be directed both towards this life as well as the other life… Those who want to become  billionaires  will  become millionaires and those who would be contented with their daily bread will end up as members of the deprived classes. Similarly those who want to be the neighbors of prophets in Heaven will undoubtedly reach their goal.

Some of the people are only concerned with themselves and their household and would be satisfied in acquiring some basics of knowledge, while others try to utilize all their powers and carry the burdens of their nation and the future generations as well. They will talk to them and write to them. That is why a religious scholar is 70 thousand times better than a worshipper who is only concerned with his personal salvage, while the scholar tries to save the whole nation, and liberate it from the chains of ignorance and slavery. Both you and your son should aim to achieve great goals. Those who die as they were born with out writing their names in history have not had any real life. Allah calls on us to make use of all our powers so that we will be able to achieve whatever we wish to accomplish.

But man has neglected his powers and grew to be contented with the minor concerns of the worldly life, and with little effort to achieve salvation in the hereafter.

Therefore the ambitions of our sons should not be confined to certain villages or cities… It should encompass the whole world, being the land of Allah, and the Muslim, His caliph on earth. That is why we find Imam Hassan (A.S.) urging his sons and nephews to learn to be ambitious and prepare themselves to carry great epsonsibilities.

STATUS OF PARENTS IN THE HOLY QUR’AN


STATUS OF PARENTS IN THE HOLY QUR’AN

By: Kashif Ahmed Shehzada

“And We have enjoined on man goodness (Ihsan) to his parents, and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, to Me is your return, so I will inform you of what you did.” Al-Qur’an 29:8

What sort of a relationship should we maintain with our parents? In what matters are we not allowed to obey them? Generally what opinion has mankind held concerning their parents and ancestors when the message of Allah was delivered to them? What should be our relationship with our parents in case they are unbelievers? The answers to such and many other questions are provided in the Qur’an as guidance for all Mankind.The Qur’an provides us a clear criteria for establishing a relationship with our parents whether they be believers or unbelievers.The following are some Ayat (verses) dealing with this subject:

CODE OF CONDUCT WITH PARENTS
As believers,we are instructed about the sort of behavior that we are to maintain with our parents, especially when they have reached old age:

“And your Sustainer has decreed that you will serve none but Him, and that you be good (Ihsan) towards PARENTS. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life,say not to them (even) `fie’ nor rebuke them but address them with terms of honor.” (17:23)

“And out of kindness lower to them the wing of humility and say:`O My Sustainer,Bestow on them your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” (17:24)

In the above verse we are restrained from even saying `fie’ (oof) to our parents as people who are harsh on their parents and rebuke them are described as `those in loss’ (khasireen)

“And (there is one) who says to his PARENTS `Fie’ on you! Do you hold out the promise to me that I shall be raised up,even though generations have passed before me?’ And they two seek Allah’s aid (and say) `Woe to you! Believe! For the promise of Allah is true.’ But he says:`This is nothing but tales of the ancients!’ (46:17)

“Such are they against whom is proved the sentence among the previous generations of Jinn (hidden persons) and mankind, that have passed away; for they are those in loss.” (46:18)

As believers we are also commanded to spend on our parents from our resources as they cherished us in childhood:

“They ask you what they should spend.Say:`Whatever you spend that is good, is for PARENTS and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever you do that is good,-Allah has its knowledge.” (2:215)
Its is obligatory for us to provide for our parents when they are in need and not to desert them in an old home. Furthermore we cannot impose any hardships on them.  Jesus the son of Mary (PBUH) is an example for us in this regard:

(Jesus said) “And He has made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable.” (19:32)

WHEN ARE WE NOT TO OBEY OUR PARENTS ?
While maintaining good behavior with their parents, the Believers are instructed not to obey their parents in certain situations:

“And We have enjoined on Man concerning his PARENTS: In travail upon travail did his mother bear him and his weaning is in two-years: Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: To Me is your goal.” (31:14)

“But if they strive with you to associate with Me that which you have no knowledge, THEN OBEY THEM NOT; Yet bear them company in this life in a recognized manner. And follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the end the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth of all you did.” (31:15)

We are not to obey our parents if they suggest `Shirk’ i.e. association with Allah, yet bear them company in a just manner.

 

REACTION OF MANKIND TOWARDS THE MESSAGE OF ALLAH
Generally people maintain those beliefs in their lives which they have inherited from their parents and ancestors. They don’t analyse those beliefs by reason nor intelligently or critically evaluate them. Many people take the faith of their ancestors to be the whole truth under the assumption that `How could our elders and loved one’s be wrong?’ They are also  discouraged by their parents and influentials to raise questions concerning religious beliefs and suggest blind following to their doctrines without proof. The inherited faith has always caused a barrier in accepting the truth of Allah as the beliefs of ancestors are mostly at variance with the message of Allah. In all times the foremost reaction of people, when the truth and reality of Allah is made evident to them is that they found their fathers following something else and they will stick to their ancestral beliefs. The excuse that people give when they are told to follow Qur’an is the same and they prefer the blind following of the sect or cult in which they are born rather than personally consult the Qur’an for guidance:

“And when it is said to them:`Follow what Allah has revealed !’ They say: `Nay ! We will follow what we found our FATHERS following.’ What ! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?” (2:170)

The faith of ancestors has always been a barrier in accepting the truth of Allah and the messengers were given the the same argument.

Response to Noah (PBUH)

“….Never did we hear such a thing among our FATHERS of old.” (23:24)

Response to Hood (PBUH)

“..Have you come to us that we may serve Allah alone and leave that which our FATHERS served..?”  (7:70)

Response to Salih (PBUH)

“..Do you forbid us that which our FATHERS served?..” (11:62)

Response to Shoaib (PBUH)

O Shoaib, does your Salat order that we leave of that which our FATHERS served.” (11:87)

Answer to Abraham’s (PBUH) question

“They said:`Nay we but found our FATHERS doing thus what we do!” (26:74)

Joseph’s (PBUH) reminder

“If not Him you serve nothing but names which you have named, you and your FATHERS..” (12:40)

Response to Moses (PBUH) and Aaron (PBUH)

“..Never did we hear the like among our FATHERS of old!” (28:36)

Reaction to Muhammad (PBUH)

“..This is just a Man whose intention is to oppose you from that which  your FATHERS served..” (34:43)

The Qur’an strongly opposes the blind following of the faith of parents and ancestors. It invites people to use their reasoning ability and intelligence in ascertaining the truth. (See 38:29,47:24,43:3,21:10) The Qur’an not only provides evidence for its claims (see 4:174,6:104) but also asks its opponents to provide sufficient proofs (see 21:24, 27:64, 2:111, 37:157).

Blind following of ancestors involves a person to accept their beliefs without question or sufficient proof.The blind submission to  ancestral beliefs is encouraged by Satan as his chief objective is to keep Mankind away from the Qur’an:

“When they are told to follow what Allah has revealed,they say:`Nay we shall follow the ways that we found our FATHERS following !’ What ! Even if it is Satan beckoning them to the penalty of the blazing (fire)? ” (31:21)

Instead of taking guidance for all matters requiring guidance from the Book of Allah,people insist upon copying the ways of their fathers:

” What! Have We given them a Book before this to which they are holding fast?” (43:21)

“Nay! They say:`We found our FATHERS following a certain way
and we will guide ourselves by their footsteps.” (43:22)

“Just in the same manner, whenever We sent a Warner before you to any town, the wealthy ones among them said:`Surely we found our FATHERS following a certain way and we will certainly follow in their footsteps.” (43:23)

By following the faith of their ancestors people get involved in worshipping those names and heroes which exist in their ancestral traditions and don’t serve Allah alone.Joseph (PBUH) also faced similar situations and  he reminds…

“If not Him you serve nothing but names which you have named, you and your FATHERS, –for which Allah has revealed no authority: The government is for none but Allah; He has ordered that you be subservient to none but Him, that is the established Deen,(System of life) but the majority of mankind do not know.” (12:40)

THE CONDITION OF THOSE IN THE HEREAFTER WHO BLINDLY FOLLOWED
THEIR PARENTS AND ANCESTORS FAITH
It is essential once we have the opportunity in this lifetime that we use our reasoning and the criteria of Al Qur’an in analyzing the faith that we have inherited from our parents,whether it confirms to what the Qur’an is saying or is against its teachings.In case we are not relating the guidance of Al Qur’an in our lives and are blindly following our fathers then our end has been foretold….

“Then their return is to the BLAZING (fire).” (37:68)

“Surely they found their FATHERS on the wrong path.” (37:69)

“So they (too) rushed down their footsteps.” (37:70)
Allah will question on the last day:
“The fire will burn their faces and they will grin  therein with their lips displaced.” (23:104)

“Were not my AYAT (Verses) REHEARSED TO YOU and you did but treat them as falsehoods?”(23:105)

“They will say:`Our Sustainer! Our misfortune overwhelmed us and we became a people astray!” (23:106)

People will further admit on that day:

“They will (further) say:Had we but listened or USED OUR INTELLIGENCE,we should not (now) be among the companions of the BLAZING FIRE!” (67:10)

RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENTS IF THEY ARE UNBELIEVERS
To a Believer,the cause of Allah is what matters the most. Believers cannot give preference to their parents, children, relatives, careers etc over the cause of Allah, mentioned in Al Qur’an. The following verse reminds us:

“Say:`If it be that your FATHERS, or your sons,or your brothers, or your mates, or your relatives; the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline; or the buildings in which you delight–are dearer to you than Allah and his messenger and the striving in his way;–Then wait,until Allah brings about his decision: and Allah guides not the Dissolute.” (9:24)

If the Parents  and relatives hold such beliefs and actions that are against the teachings of Al Qur’an, then they are not to be taken into intimate ranks:

“O Believers ! Take not as protectors your FATHERS or your BROTHERS if they love Disbelief <Kufr> above Conscious Belief <Eimaan>. If any of you do so then they are from the  Oppressors.” (9:23)

In such a situation were parents are unbelievers, we are to deliver the message to them and incase they don’t respond positively and are harsh and aggressive, then bear with patience but should not misbehave. Misbehaving would mean taking a stand on our own ego, rather than following the guidance of Allah.The example of Abraham (PBUH) is to be followed when dealing with unbelieving and aggressive parents:

“And remember in The Book, Abraham; He was a true ‘Nabi’ (Direct recepient of  the Divine Messages).” (19:41)

“When he said to his FATHER; `O my father why serve that which hears not sees not and can profit you nothing?” (19:42)

“O my father! To me has come knowledge that has not reached you: So follow me. I will guide you to a way that is even and straight.” (19:43)

“O my father serve not Satan, for Satan is a rebel against (Allah) Most gracious.” (19:44)

“O my father! I fear that a penalty from (Allah) Most Gracious afflict you, so that you become to Satan ,
a friend.” (19:45)

To Abraham’s (PBUH) invitation his father responded in negative:

“(The father) replied :`Do you hate my gods O Abraham? If you forbear not, I WILL INDEED STONE YOU ! Now get away from me for a long while ! ” (19:46)

Abraham (PBUH) did not reply in a harsh manner to his father’s threat:

“(Abraham) Said:`PEACE BE ON YOU:I WILL PRAY TO MY SUSTAINER FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS <MAGHFIRA> , for He is to me most Gracious.” (19:47)

Believers don’t have any affection or love for those who oppose the way of life prescribed by the Qur’an even if they are their parents and near relatives:

“You will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last day, loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger even though they were their FATHERS or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written <Eimaan> (Conscious Belief) in their hearts and has strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. Allah well pleased with them and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Surely it is the Party of Allah that will prosper.” (58:22)

EVEN RIGHTEOUS PARENTS OF NO HELP
Even if our parents are genuinely righteous in the sight of Allah, even then they can be of no help to us on the last day. As each and everyone of us is responsible for our own actions (See 53:38,35:18)  how much we follow the guidance of Allah in our lives ourselves, that we ourselves have to face. The instance of Noah (PBUH) is evident in this regard as he being a messenger of Allah could not save his own son:

“And Noah called upon his Sustainer, and said: `O my Sustainer,surely MY SON is of my family and your promise is true and you are the most just of judges!” (11:45)

“(Allah) Said :`O Noah! He is not from your family, for his conduct is not corrective, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I give you counsel, lest you act like the ignorant!” (11:46)

We are responsible and accountable for our own actions,what our parents and ancestors did , we will not be questioned about them:

“That was a Nation that has passed away. For them is what they earned and for you is what you earn. And you will not be questioned as to what they did.” (2:141)

ALLAH’S REMINDER TO MANKIND
Mankind are reminded, about the day when parents and children will be of no help to each other. In this life we are responsible for our own beliefs and actions and have been provided with the faculty of reasoning and the guidance of Allah in Al Qur’an and the free will to chose our line of action (See 18:29). It is our own duty to seek the truth and follow the guidance, rather than blindly follow our parents and ancestors.On the last day we cannot put the blame on our parents for the results of our actions.

“O Mankind ! Do your duty to your Sustainer, and fear a day when no father can avail ought for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father, Surely the promise of Allah is true: Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah.” (31:33)

We are committed in our efforts to promote a platform for a healthy society which adheres to the tenets of peace, justice and freedom.

Iltemaas E Dua

https://smma59.wordpress.com/
Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi

Tips for parents….

shaping.gifTips for parents….

What does it take for parents to get a teen to become a practicing Muslim?

After talking to parents, Imams, activists and Muslims who have grown up in the West to ask what are some practical things parents can do to help Muslim teens maintain their Deen. These are some of their suggestions:

Tip #1: Take parenting more seriously than you would a full-time job This means both parents must understand their children are a trust from Allah, and He will ask how they were raised. If the children do not grow up practicing Islam because of their parents’ negligence, it is not going to be pretty in this life or the next.

Tip #2:Reduce or change work hours and exchange them for time with the family It is better to have one full-time job, fewer luxuries in the house (i.e. more cars, expensive clothes, a bigger, fancier home) and more time with the family, than many material things and absent parents. This goes for mothers AND fathers. Parents can’t instill values in their children if they just aren’t there, period. Quit that extra job on the weekends or in the evenings and instead drive the kids to the mosque for Halaqas and activities instead. Or consider switching shifts at work so that you’re home when the kids are.

Tip #3: Read the Quran, understanding its meaning, for five minutes every day Just five minutes. Whether it’s in the car during a traffic jam, early morning after Fajr, or right before you go to bed, read the Quran with a translation and/or Tafseer. Then watch the snowball effect. You will, Insha Allah, reconnect with Allah, and in the long run, develop into a role model helping your whole family, not just your teen, reconnect with Him too.

Tip #4: Attend a weekly Halaqa Trade playing cards or watching television on Sunday afternoons for a Halaqa. If you don’t have something already in place during that time slot, help the Imam to set one up. Attend it vigilantly. The added bonus of this is that when children see their parents striving to learn about Islam, they will in many cases be encouraged to do the same.

Tip #5: Respect your teen Respecting your teen means not treating them like inept babies, but like maturing adults, not talking down to them or humiliating and insulting them. It means involving them in useful activities around the home and seeking their opinions on matters of importance.

Tip #6: Take an interest in what they do Does Noor play hockey in an all-girls’ sports league? Attend Noor’s games as regularly as possible. Does Ihsan collect stamps? See if you can find old letters from your parents in Malaysia or Lebanon and pass the stamps on them to her. Does Muhsin love building websites? Visit his site, post a congratulatory e-mail on the message board and offer some suggestions for the site. Give him a book on advanced web design as Eid gift.

Tip #7: Be aware of problems and address them straightforwardly As you spend more time with your teen, you will be more able to sense if there is something bothering them. Don’t brush this feeling under the carpet. Address it straight on. But don’t do this in the family meeting or n in front of others. Do it during the next tip.

Tip #8: “Date” your teenager While dating is commonly associated with boy-girl social meetings, the concept can be extended to any meeting between two people wanting to get to know each other better.

It’s especially important to “date” your children on an individual level once they hit their teens because they are no longer just “one of the kids”. They are young adults who need attention and guidance on an individual level. You can go out on a “date” when Sumayya graduates from high school (instead of going to the prom), when Ahmed gets his driver’s license or if you feel there is something bothering them and you want to address them alone.

Tip #9: Don’t just be your teen’s parent, be his or her partner Making them a partner means giving them responsibilities within the family. Get 16 year old Amir, who just got his driver’s license, to help his mom with grocery shopping on Saturday’s; get 15 year old Jasmine, who loves flowers, to be responsible for the garden and mowing the lawn. This way, teens will feel a part of the family, included and needed.

Tip #10: Build a Masjid in your home Delegate a room, part of the basement or the living room as the home Masjid. You can do this for less than $25.

Make this Masjid entirely the responsibility of the kids. Get the eldest to be in charge and to delegate responsibilities for younger siblings. Responsibilities include keeping the Masjid clean, waking people up for Fajr, calling the Adhan, etc.

Tip #11: Don’t practice “men’s Islam” That means don’t exclude wives or daughters from prayers. When the men are praying in Jamaah, make sure the women are either behind them or also praying in congregation. Make sure the Imam recites the prayer loud enough for the women to hear if they are in another part of the house. Also, encourage women to pray in Jamaah if there are no men present.

Tip #12: Establish an Islamic library and choose a librarian Equip your home with an Islamic library with books, video and audio cassettes about various aspects of Islam, catering to everyone’s age and interests. If 13-year-old Bilal likes adventure novels, for example, make sure you have a couple of Islamic adventure books

Get one of your teens to be the librarian. S/he keeps materials organized and in good condition. Any requests for materials to be added to the collection have to go through him or her. Give this librarian a monthly budget for ordering new books, cassettes, etc.

Tip#13: Take them out…..to Islamic activities Instead of a fancy dinner at a restaurant, save your money to take everyone out to the next Muslim community dinner or activity. Make a special effort to go to events where other Muslim teens will be present and the speaker caters his/her message to this crowd.

It’s also important to regularly take Bilal and Humayra to Islamic camps and conferences where they will meet other Muslim kids their age on a larger scale.

Tip #14: Move to a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in your city Ideally, this should be near the mosque. This step is necessary if you want to surround your kids with other Muslim children of more or less the same age on a daily basis.

Tip #15 : Help teens start their own youth group After living in a Muslim neighborhood and attending Islamic activities regularly, teens in many cases will develop a friendship with other Muslims their age. Don’t let this end here.

Help them establish a youth group, not just to learn about Islam, but to go to the amusement park together, go swimming, etc. Have meetings at members’ houses on a weekly or bimonthly basis. Get this group involved in useful work like cleaning up litter around the Masjid or visiting senior citizens’ homes.This group must have parental supervision, although teens’ decision-making powers should not be interfered with unless really necessary.

Tip #16: Establish a TV-free evening and monitor TV watching in general Parents’ biggest competitor for their children’s attention is the T.V. Sound Vision’s unTV guide. Monitoring what everyone watches simply means taking care to remind and help everyone avoid shows which depict sex, violence and encourage unIslamic activities. Put up a list of acceptable and unacceptable shows on the wall beside the T.V.

Establishing TV-free evenings means having one evening of the week when no one, adult, teen or child is allowed to watch television. Hopefully, this is a first step towards general TV reduction in the home. This is an ideal time to have the next tip.

Tip #17: Have weekly family meetings The purpose: to find out what is going on in everyone’s lives and to consult the family on important issues. Hanan started attending a Halaqa, Imran just returned from a Muslim youth camp, Bilal aced the last algebra test. The point is not to just give this news in point form. It’s to elicit discussion and communication between everyone, and to keep up-to-date about what is going on in everyone’s life, which gets harder when kids become teenagers.

This is also the place to consult the family and decide on major issues affecting everyone: a move to another city; a marriage of one of the family members; difficulties with a bully in school, etc.

Please note: Shura in the family does not mean a majority vote determines what to do about a situation. While the parents remain in charge, teens and younger children voice opinions and suggestions parents will consider in making a final decision about a matter.

Tip #18: Have “Halal Fun night” once a month “Fun is Haram” is a joke sometimes heard amongst Muslim youth, mocking the attitude of some Muslims for whom virtually anything enjoyable is automatically labeled Haram (forbidden).

Islamic entertainment is a much neglected area of Muslim concern. Islamic songs, skits, etc. are a viable tool for the transmission of Islam. Maybe 16-year-old Jameel knows how to play the Duff, while his sister Amira, 14, can write and sing well. Let them present their own Islamic song to the whole family. Or have 12-year-old Ridwan recite some of his best poetry. Make one of the teens in charge of this event. Help them establish a criteria of acceptable and unacceptable Halal entertainment.

Tip #19: Provide the right role models-What would Abu Bakr have done? Apart from being a role model yourself by trying to practice Islam, make sure you provide teens with reading material about the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (Sahaba), both the men and the women. Otherwise, the characters on the programs your kids watch on television may become their “Sahabas”.

Discuss what a Companion may have done in a situation relevant to teens’ lives. What would Abu Bakr Siddiq do if he saw a someone selling answers to the grade 11 math final exam? What would Aisha have done is she was confronted with the opportunity to cheat her parents?

Tip #20: Read books on Positive Parenting These can be books written by Muslims, but even books by non-Muslims can help. However, just be ready and make sure you are able to identify what is Islamically acceptable versus what is not.

Tip #21: Get them married early The societies of the West are permeated by sex: on TV, billboards, on the streets, buses, in movies, etc. A Muslim teenager facing this is in a tough position: succumb to the temptations or try really, really hard not to. Getting them married early (check out some tips for parents) will ease the pressure, and they don’t have to stop their studies to do this. Remember, as a parent you will also be partly responsible if your son or daughter wanted to marry, you stopped them and they ended up having sex outside of marriage. You should also remember when undertaking this step not to force your son or daughter to marry someone they do not like.

Tip #22: Last but not least-Make Dua Make Dua. It is really Allah who guides and misguides, but if you’ve done your job as a parent, Insha Allah, keeping your teen a practicing Muslim will be easier to do than if you had neglected this duty. As well, make Dua for your teen in front of them. This reminds them how much you love them and your concern for them.

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DISCIPLINE TIPS

Discipline is different from punishment.

Children are disciplined when they are shown positive alternatives rather than just told “no,” when they see how their actions affect others, when good behavior is rewarded, and when adults establish fair, simple rules and enforce them consistently.

Children who are disciplined learn to share and cooperate, are better able to handle their own anger, are more self-disciplined, and feel successful and in control of themselves.

Children are punished when: behavior is controlled through fear, their feelings are not respected, they behave to avoid a penalty or get a bribe, or they are only told what not to do.

Children who are punished feel humiliated, hide their mistakes, tend to be angry and aggressive, and fail to develop self-control.

The louder you yell, the less effective you will be.

Ineffective responses: questions, begging, threatening, verbal put-downs, unrealistic threats, overly severe punishments, or physical responses that release your anger.

Say it once, then take nonviolent, logical action.

The goal of discipline is to help children build self-control, not blindly obey adult commands.

Any discipline technique is most successful if it is used calmly, without anger.

Any consequence (such as distraction or time out) must immediately follow the child’s behavior to make it clear when behavior was not acceptable.

Notice good behavior. Praising good behavior is one of the most effective discipline methods. Children need to know what they are doing well, in addition to knowing the things they need to change. Catch children when they are sharing, helping other children with hard tasks, and dealing well with frustration–and immediately compliment them.

Match your technique to the child and the situation. No single technique’s always best.

Help kids understand why misbehavior is not acceptable, while acknowledging feelings.

Be consistent. It’s scary for children to displease adults they care about. They need to feel loved and respected if they are to become kind, confident, and considerate adults.

Call “time out”. Sometimes children just lose control. They need to cool off. Time out should last as long as the child feels is needed to calm down. The key is to avoid being punitive and instead to turn time out into a learning experience.

Help children see consequences. Use natural consequences to help teach. Give them choices. For example: Your screaming hurts my ears! If you can’t stop, you’ll have to take a time out. When you can speak in a quieter voice you can come back to the table.

The concept of Nazr in Islam

The concept of Nazr in Islam


The word NAZR is an Arabic word which means “an offering,” in its verbal form it will mean “to offer” or “to make a spiritual vow.”

Note that NAZR is used in Arabic in a totally different meaning also – “to warn,” that is not in this context. Therefore, we leave that for the time.

The Holy Qur’an has used the word “NAZR” in both meanings. We will only discuss here the first usage, i.e., which is relevant to our discussion here.

Sometimes the word NIAZ is also used in this context. This is a word from Farsi which means “need,” and it is its metaphorical use in the sense of an offering.

The basic concept of NAZR is to offer something less valuable in the hope and expectation of receiving something of higher value. The “value” does not have to be material; it could just be honor and dignity. The examples below will explain this notion further.

1. In 5:27-31 the Holy Qur’an tells the story of the two sons of the prophet Adam (peace be upon him). The two sons of Adam (Habeel and Qabeel, Anglicized names: Able and Cain) made an offering to their Lord, one was accepted and the other was rejected. The brother, whose offering was rejected, became jealous of his brother and in a rage of jealousy and frustration he killed his brother. For that Qabeel’s face was darkened, he went crazy and he will bear the burden of every unlawful murder to the Day of Judgement. Note that the word for offering used in the Holy Qur’an in this instance is Q-R-B instead of NAZR.

2. In 3:35 the Holy Qur’an tells the story of Maryam’s (Mary of the Christian scriptures) mother. When a woman of Imran said: My Lord, surely I vow to Thee (rabbi inni nazartu) what is in my womb, to be devoted (to Thy service); accept therefore from me, surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing. However, when the child was born, it was a girl (Maryam) and the families were puzzled as to how to send a girl to the Temple. But they fulfilled the vow as they had promised their Lord. And, Maryam was dedicated to serving in the Temple under the guardianship of prophet Zakariyya (peace be upon him). Later she gave birth to Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him).

3. In 19:26 the Holy Qur’an tells the story when Prophet Jesus is born without a father and the Jews are asking of Maryam about such an implausible situation. So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent God (inni nazartu lir-Rahmaani sawman). So I shall not speak to any man today.

4. In the first twelve verses of Sura Dahr (chapter 76) the Holy Qur’an tells the story of NAZR by the Ahlul Bayt (may our salams and Allah’s peace be unto them). The Holy Qur’an describes the beginning of man and the attributes of a grateful man in this chapter. One of the many attributes of a grateful and faithful person is described in verses 7 and 8: “Because they perform the vow (yufoona bin-nazri) and fear a day whereof the evil is wide-spreading, And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him.”

The Hadeeth literature indicates that the Ahlul Bayt (peace be unto them) showed the importance of Nazr by their acts more than once. The following story is recorded in many tafseer books about the revelation of these verses of sura Dahr

Once the Imams Hasan and Husayn, who were at that time 5 and 4 years old, fell ill. When the Prophet of Islam missed them in the mosque, he came to Fatima Zahra’s house to inquire about them. When he was told that they were sick, he suggested that both parents should take a spiritual vow (Nazr) for the children’s recovery. So both Imam Ali and Fatima Zahra prayed to Allah for the recovery of Hasan and Husayn (peace be unto them all) and took a vow to fast for three consecutive days when the children became well again. The children did recover from the illness soon after. Both parents set about fulfilling their spiritual vow and fasted. When the children saw that, they also decided to fast with their parents and so did the house-maid, Fiddha. But that day there was no food in Fatima’s house even for breaking the fast. So Imam Ali went out looking for work. He could not find any. But he was able to get three kg’s of wool to be spun in exchange of three kg’s of barley. Fatima Zahra spun the wool all day. She was only able to dispense with one kilo of it. So she took only one kilo of barley ground it into flour and prepared five loaves of bread. While they were all ready to break their fast, someone knocked at the door saying: “O people of the house of the Prophet, I am a poor man and I have nothing to eat, is there anything you could do to feed me.” At this Imam Ali stood up, went to the door and gave his loaf to the man. Fatima Zahra did the same. Watching this, both children also gave their loaves and so did the maid. They broke their fast by water and retired. The next day Fatima Zahra spun another kilo of wool. So she separated one kilo of barley, ground it into flour and prepared five loaves once again. As they were ready to break their fast, once again, a voice called out from the door: “O people of the house of The Prophet, I am an orphan, I am hungry, could you feed me?” Hearing this, Imam Ali stood up and gave his loaf to the man, so did Fatima Zahra, the children and the maid. They all, once again, broke their fast by water and retired. Came the third day, Fatima Zahra spun the rest of the wool, took the remaining barley, ground it into flour and prepared five loaves. As they were ready to break the fast, a voice called from the door saying: “O people of the house of the Prophet, I am a prisoner, I am hungry, could you feed me?” Hearing this, once again, Imam Ali stood up and went to the door and gave his loaf away to the prisoner. Fatima Zahra, the children and the maid did likewise. Every time the person at the door would want to express his gratitude for the kindness, Imam Ali would say: “No, no, we are not looking for any reward from you for this act, we are doing it out of Allah’s love.”

Now the children had just been quite ill. And they had not eaten anything in three days. The Prophet of Islam once again entered the house asking about the children. When he looked at them they were shaking like autumn leaves (those are the exact words in the report). Fatima Zahra told him what had been going on in the family. At that time the archangel Gabriel came down with a gift of Allah to the Prophet. That gift was the verses of Sura Insan or Dahr (chapter 76), which we quote below.

They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide. And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive. We only feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks: Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day. Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness. And reward them, because they were patient, with garden and silk. (Holy Qur’an, 76:7-12)

This story tells us that the Prophet of Islam recommended to any family that if and when you are facing a difficult situation or you are distressed, you should do Nazr. In other words, take a spiritual vow that when the problem is over you would offer special prayers or invite friends and relatives for food that has been dedicated to the Ahlul Bayt in Allah’s name.

The story is the guiding light for us in our lives. The family of Fatima Zahra (peace be unto them all) fulfilled their Nazr, but when a more needy person came they gave away their food to him without any regard to their own needs. Holy Qur’an has made it incumbent upon us to love the Prophet of Islam and his holy family and fashion our lives according to how they lived.

Say, (O Prophet), I do not ask you any recompense for this (the mission of Islam), except that you would love my near ones. (Holy Qur’an, 42:23)

The NAZR of the 22nd day of the glorious month of Rajab is done as a result of this love for the holy Ahlul Bayt.

There is a Hadeeth attributed to our sixth Imam, J’afar as-Sadiq (may our salams and Allah’ peace be unto them all). Once the Imam was walking in the streets of Madinah with some of his companions. He suddenly stopped and looked to his companions and inquired about the date. They all said that that was the 22nd day of Rajab. The Imam then said: “If anyone of you is facing a difficulty of any kind in this world, you should prepare some sweets and set them up in a clay pot (Koonday in Urdu) and dedicate that in a Nazr to my person. You should then pray to your Lord using my WASEELA. Allah will, if He wills, remove your difficulty. However, if your problem is not resolved then you would come to me on the Day of Judgement and complain to me.”

One other story of NAZR must be told here which will explain another point. It is not mentioned in the Holy Qur’an but it is well attested by almost all the historians. The Prophet’s grandfather, Abdul Muttalib lay asleep once in the proximity of the Holy Kaaba. He had a vision that someone was calling on him to dig up the well of Zamzam which had been buried by a previous tribe of Mekkah in the sand. He woke up and called his friends and relatives to come and help him. People just laughed at his “foolish” plan and refused to help. At that time Abdul Muttalib had only one son named Harith. So he and his son set upon searching for the well of Zamzam. A point came when they were totally exhausted of thirst and fatigue and was on the verge of dying. Abdul Muttalib thought to himself that if he had more sons to help him, the situation would not have come to that. He then took a spiritual vow (NAZR) that if he had ten sons, he would offer one of them for sacrifice in the Holy House of Allah (Kaaba).

Abdul Muttalib eventually did have ten sons (actually he had four more after the completion of this story, as follows). He remembered his vow. He discussed it with his sons. The youngest at that time named Abdullah, was only sixteen years old. They all agreed with their father that he must fulfill his vow. Lots were drawn on the sons’ names. Abdullah’s name came out in the draw. Abdullah forthrightly agreed to become the sacrificial son. But his maternal uncles, when heard of this, ran all the way from Madinah and tried to stop Abdul Muttalib from the slaughter of his son. Lots were then drawn again, this time against Abdullah’s name and some camels. Every time Abdullah’s name would come out in the draw until the number of camels was gradually raised to one hundred. Finally Abdullah was ransomed by the slaughter of one hundred camels. The meat was left for the people of Makkah to consume.

Soon after this, Abdullah was married to lady Aminah daughter of Wahb. Abdul Muttalib also married the same night the sister of Wahb. Lady Amina conceived our Prophet but before he was born, Abdullah suddenly died. Abdul Muttalib’s latest marriage also produced a son named Hamza, and later three more.

Conclusion:

NAZR is not a wajib act in Islam; rather it is done when a Muslim feels a need for such a thing. However, once a spiritual vow is taken by a Muslim, it becomes wajib on him/ her to complete the NAZR if his/her wish is granted by Allah. This is proven by the story of Hazrat Maryam’s mother. She had to give Maryam up to the temple even though she was a girl and it was against all accepted tradition to let a girl be a maid at the temple. Same thing is proven from the story of Abdul Muttalib and Abdullah. Neither the sons felt any qualms about becoming the sacrificial son nor, the father had any doubts in his mind about his convictions.

Abdul Muttalib’s stance also tells us that food offered for NAZR is basically for others and mostly for the needy.

Qabeel’s story tells us that it is a grave sin not to accept Allah’s will in the situation of an offering. Habeels’ stance teaches us the great virtue of SABR (patience) even if one’s personal safety and security is threatened.

So It is better for good Muslims to meet at a NAZR and talk about Allah and the Holy Ahlul Bayt instead of wasting time on useless things. It is a great sawaab to offer special prayers or invite friends and relatives for food that has been dedicated to the Ahlul Bayt in Allah’s name.

With thanks to Syed-Mohsin Naquvi

We are committed in our efforts to promote a platform for a healthy society which adheres to the tenets of peace, justice and freedom.

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Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi
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