EQUALITY/EQUITY Q3:36

Someone close to me remarked me about how she trains her daughters to sleep with or without the lights on, because either of her girls could end up with a man who had a preference. I have boys so I had never considered that, but I began to do so from that point on. They sleep with the lights off but what if they got married to a woman who prefers to sleep with the lights on, would they expect her to bow to their preferences because she’s female? Was that right?

Men are different from women; but should one be treated better than the other or should we be treated the same; hence the debate about equity versus equality.

Equity versus Equality

image credit: http://www.maine.gov

I have observed the recent trend in homes because of the worsening economy. I cannot comment on other parts of the world but for Nigeria, an increasing number of women are entering the workforce and this is affecting marriages. The world has been beaming the spotlight on women since the Beijing Conference of 1995 to ensure gender equality. More girls are being educated, more girls are getting scholarships to college, more women are getting jobs, more women are becoming the breadwinners, more women are becoming more vocal about their rights, many are struggling to get married and fewer are staying so.

It is a wonderful thing educating a woman, empowering her and informing her of her rights but while we do this, we are beginning to neglect the boys. A woman is more likely to shelve her degree (in Nigeria) and learn a trade to make ends meet that an educated man would. He is more likely to dust his CV, type out more applications and wait to be called for interviews.

From the get-go, girls are taught to be more industrious, more resilient and more focused than boys are. Responsibilities are quickly piled on the head of the first born if she’s a female. She is expected to learn house chores, show manners and respect, fend for herself and her younger ones, prepare meals, protect her virginity and excel in school. More often than not, it is alright for the boys to simply excel at school.

By the time these girls are through with tertiary education, they are piling on the postgraduate degrees and amassing skills in the workplace. If jobs (and suitable men) are not forthcoming, they are learning to become self-employed by sales of wares, or learning a skill or two like make-up artistry, hair styling, fashion designing etc. When Cupid shoots his arrow, they contribute meaningfully to the wedding and eventually, the family upkeep. Soon, the dark clouds begin to drift toward the new home. Husband is laid off, or resigns because he cannot stand his boss then wifey steps in to juggle all the balls. Husband marvels at his wonder woman for a while then resentment kicks in as he no longer feels needed. From then on, everything goes downhill fast, unless Allah steps in.

As I said, female education is a wonderful initiative to balance out the disproportion of literacy between men and women but while we aid the women, the boys are becoming weak and cannot handle the empowered women. In an era of raising Khadijas and Aishas, we are neglecting to raise Muhammads. Educated and successful women are written off as arrogant. It takes Allah’s Grace for a wise woman to remain humble under such circumstances but even her humility may be misconstrued for stupidity. In this part of the world, the man is king; he is the boss and used to getting things done his way. Wifey would not remain subservient to a petulant brat for long.

Balance is very important in nature: Night and Day, The food web, the seasons, life and death. The man provides, the woman nurtures. The man is the head of the home. When that balance tilts, it rarely bodes well.

 

IMAGERY

If you could paint the face of Islam today,
what posture would (s)he adopt?
What would (s)he look like?
What would be your expression as you painted?


I would love to hear your descriptions.

MY VIEWS ON TERROR Q5:32

Assalaam alaikum, dear readers.

I often do not comment much on the ‘terrorist’ attacks around the world because, I am tired of them. Opinions abound on the topic and I have read articles which echo my thoughts on the topic so I did not want to over-flog the topic. The attacks are becoming rampant with even more lone wolf attacks than before, and the effect on the ummah is painful.

Also, I have not particularly commented on these incidents myself because the information we receive from the media and online is always skewed and flawed, unreliable and seeking to enforce some propaganda (like the linking of the Paris bombing with the Syrian refugees). How can one make an accurate analysis when our sources of information are filled with spurious tales?

Every time I hear of an attack, my heart sinks. My heart always goes out to all the people involved: the victims and their families as well as the killers’ families and the Muslims living in that vicinity. The most recent one in San Bernardino was first brought to my attention by a fellow blogger, Anum. At first, I was filled with trepidation when she mentioned the gun attacks but to be honest, I was secretly relieved there was no mention of terrorists/Muslims…but not for long.

When terrorism began, the group (not neccessarily Muslim) responsible for the attack would release a video of the attack before and during the occurrence. It lent an air of authenticity to the group. Even after the video, the FBI/CIA would analyse if it was genuine or not. Now, all it takes is simply to claim responsibility which personally, I feel anyone can do. Isn’t the game about how many people they can kill in order to strike fear into people’s hearts? Even before the group claims responsibility, the media is already insinuating that it’s Muslims. Heck, even we Muslims think it is one of us!

It is true that most of the terrorists bear Muslim names but surely, if there is anything I have learnt about international (even domestic) politics, it is that things are not always what they seem. However, taking these issues at face value, it seems that the vast majority of these suicide bombers are youngsters, fiery with a new sense of misguided purpose, sorely deficient in sound Islamic knowledge, eager to be brainwashed. For most of the Muslims reading this, terrorism does not make any sense in whatever shape or form but our youth are voluntarily being recruited into ISIS and other terror groups.

‘Abdullah [bin Mas’ud](R.A.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:
“In the end of time there will come a people young in years, foolish in minds, reciting the Qur’an which will not go beyond their throats, uttering sayings from the best of creatures, going through the religion as an arrow goes through the target.”- Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2188

The onus is on me as a mother to ensure that those I can directly influence – my children- are positively impacted with the proper Islamic knowledge. (How can they imbibe this knowledge if we the parents do not possess them?) They should integrate with the community, both Muslim and non-Muslim and know that hurting people is unacceptable. Terrorism is abhorrent, plain and simple. No matter how thinly we slice it, no matter how different we may seem, we all bleed the same and hurt when our loved ones are taken from us. They must grow to understand that oftentimes, Islam is rational and if something doesn’t seem right, they should trust their instincts and verify further before they act. They must inculcate strong values which would guide them throughout life and help them manage pressures from their peers.

 

Jabir (R.A.) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Iblees placed his throne over the water and then he sends out his troops. The nearest to him are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done this and this. Iblees says: You have done nothing. Another says: I did not leave this person until I caused discord between him and his wife. Iblees says: You have done well.
– Sahih Muslim 2813

Finally, it is my opinion that a sound home with the parents working together as good role models for children will help to stem the tide of terrorism. Every organization needs foot soldiers, recruits and (with the exception of those being forced into these groups) our children should not be susceptible to such brainwashing if we have done our jobs well as parents, with Allah’s Help. We need to sit up and pay attention to the plethora of information available out there corrupting our children. We must censor the TV and the computer; know their friends and visit their schools. It is not enough to be out there raking in the money. It is not all about the money. Children need love, attention, approval. If they get it from you, they are less likely to seek it elsewhere.

In as much as we are having more Islamophobic attacks, we should stand strong, educate people about Islam through our actions and perfect our character. This too shall pass. There was a time in history when Jews were heavily persecuted by the Nazis; Japanese were also humiliated in the US following the Pearl Harbour bombing; Blacks did not have the opportunities they now have in Europe and the US. It is our turn now and in sha Allah, it will become a fading memory. Nothing ever lasts forever. Unfortunately, this may mean that another religion or race may be picked on.

May Allah help us all.

FLIP IT AROUND Q16:90

I used to write in my diary journal, or listen to music to quell my anger in my late teenage years. After a while, I moved to nasheed (Muslim songs) to return to my happy self; no time to indulge in writing. Soon, I did not have the luxury of easily removing myself from the object of my fury as I got older. I learned to contain my anger and ruminate on it after I left the environment. I would stew in resentment and consider all the witty retorts I should have given – retorts I would have regretted anyway. This would upset me further and I would look for someone unfortunate to dump my emotions on.

anger insideout

I know listening to the Qur’an and making adhkaar is laudable but they do not appeal to me when I am well and truly pissed incensed. Now I have learnt to channel my emotions.

After removing myself from the scene, I have to find somewhere or someone to vent to. Secondly, after ruminating on the offense,  I consider whether or not to confront the person; oftentimes, I decide against it. Thirdly, I channel my grievances to Allah. I am fuelled by the anger to read more Qur’an, pray with better zeal, make extra nawafil etc so that Allah can answer my prayers to overcome the oppression I feel.

So, the source of my ire becomes my inspiration and motivation to be better 🙂

Side effect: It takes longer for me to forget even if I have forgiven. Hmm…still working on the right formula for me.

Any suggestions?

PS: I know I have an early post on anger but then, it’s easier said than done 😉

Image

PAYING VISITS Q33.53

Narrated Abu Musa (R.A.):

The Prophet (SAW) said, “Set the captives free, accept the invitation (to a wedding banquet), and visit the patients.” –  : Sahih al-Bukhari 5174

Although I work in the hospital, I hate staying long when I visit patients (unless they would rather I stayed). I worry that I am burdening the patient with my stay and would rather pop in and out. I am also uncomfortable staying long at people’s houses for a visit. It feels like extending my handshake to the elbow. As a woman, I am aware of the hoops women jump through to make their guests comfortable at their own expense and it seems unfair to take full advantage of that.

We should not visit people unannounced unless we are extremely familiar with them. There is really no excuse why anyone will suddenly drop by in this era of cell-phones, free emails, text messages and instant messaging. This will give your host time to prepare and possibly purchase or cook/bake what to host you with. Not all homes are fully-stocked 24/7.

cookies and milk

image credit: http://www.goodfon.su

As much as is possible, a non-mahram male should not spend the night in the house of a couple. It inconveniences the woman who has to observe her hijab in your presence. Personally, I cannot do without my hijab outdoors but once I am indoors, I toss it fast! A woman’s home is her sanctuary, somewhere she can let her hair down and dress down. You ruin this tranquility for her particularly when you prolong your stay; her only reprieve in her bedroom. Between the tropical temperature and special times like breastfeeding, her hospitality can quickly become hostility.

Fellow women who travel for visits with their toddlers need to be mindful of them. We should not leave them to run amok, destroy appliances, break dishes, defecate or urinate indiscriminately, and leave food crumbs in their trail. ‘They are just kids!’ No. Pick up after your children and caution them when necessary.

We should also endeavour not to make a nuisance of ourselves by staying out late, disrupting the peace in the house by playing loud music or having noisy friends over. Destroying property in their houses is also a big no-no.

Narrated Abu Shuraih Al-Ka’bi quoted Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously. The guest’s reward is to provide him with a superior type of food for a night and a day and a guest is to be entertained with food for three days, and whatever is offered beyond that is regarded as charity. And it is not lawful for a guest to stay with the host for such a long period so as to put him in a critical position. – Sahih Bukhari 6135

Also try to involve yourself in helping around the house and following the house rules. Take your dish to the kitchen and wash it, preferably. Clean up after yourself and make your bed. Assist by taking the children off their parents’ hands by playing with them or helping with their homework.

Do not pry into their affairs particularly if they are a couple and unless your advice is sought, or it is absolutely necessary, keep most of your thoughts to yourself. Do not take sides without listening to both sides of the story.

When preparing to leave, inform your hosts ahead of time so they can accommodate dropping you off at the airport or car park, into their plans.

Also noteworthy is that we should not convert our observations to gossip and tales by moonlight for our family members and friends. ‘Do you know the couple sleep in separate rooms? They must have quarrelled more than 5 times in the few days we were there!’

As the hosts/hostesses, we are duty-bound to treat our guests kindly. Having snacks, some juice or cake handy can save us embarrassment when friends pop in unannounced. We should be patient and accommodating and try to involve our guests in our activities. Time should be set aside daily to converse with them no matter how tight our schedule is.

We should also discuss when would be convenient for a reciprocal visit. No responsible individual wants to be the perpetual visitor. Make an effort to return the visit to keep the ball rolling.

And when they leave, we should see them to the door (or gate / bus terminal/train station/ airport) and let’s try not to make our relief obvious! 😉

 

FULL CIRCLE Q2:121


My son has begun his life’s sojourn into formal Islamic education. We used to take a few lessons on the Arabic alphabets and a few short surahs (Chapters of the Holy Qur’an) but we also wanted him to interact with more Muslims in a classroom. They do tend to learn faster that way and it is more consistent.

During his first week, I felt separation anxiety every time I dropped him off. It was weird because I thought I was over that since he started regular school a couple of years ago. I would walk him to the gate or classroom where he would wave solemnly and turn to enter and my smile would falter. Immediately I returned to pick him, promptly at the closing time, I would grill him about how the class went; if he made new friends; if anyone fought with him or beat him, but he would be all smiles. Running ahead of me excitedly, he would tell me names of new friends (which I would hurriedly commit to memory) and snippets of how the 2-hour class went. Yeah, I know…a mere two hours!

This reminded me of when I began my Islamic education too. I cannot quite remember my age but I was older than my son is, and I went with my brother. The school was a weekend one and lasted about 4 hours. It was a farther distance from our home than my son’s is and we used to be dropped off in the car but would often walk home when we closed.

I do not have fond memories of this school. I don’t think I ever discussed it with my brother but I was filled with dread whenever it was weekend and we had to go. I know he was too. I was a good student and did not get beaten by my tutor but the matron of the school (who I will call ‘Ma’) scared the hell out of our little minds. Pa, on the other hand, was a gentle soul.

Abu-Darda (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.” – Riyad Saliheen Book 13, Hadith 1388

Yet, Ma attracted such curiosity out of me. I used to peep at her if she performed wudhu beside me. I would surreptitiously try to catch a glimpse of her face when she prayed beside me. She was not Nigerian, I could tell even though she was always in black and all I could see were her hands. Her complexion, her accent and her children’s looks gave her away.

I think I was eight or nine when this family came in quite late. Classes were in progress in an open space (we had long desks and chairs arranged in the compound) so when the group came in, we all looked up, distracted. A man reported one of his daughters (I think?) to Ma and it was a grievous crime that this teenager had committed. Ma ordered for canes and holding her niqab to her face with one hand, she lashed this teenager repeatedly following her around as she tried to escape the burning strokes. The cane broke and she asked for another! It was amazingly scary seeing this rather diminutive niqabi striking a precocious teenager who was even bigger than she was. The cane whipped the student’s hijab off and I saw blood streaks. It was gruesome and we were horrified.

Alhamdulillah, our Islamic school was eventually changed (my parents had begun to hear rumours about the school which probably correlated with our complaints). The new Islamic school was even farther (an hour walk) from home so we were usually dropped off by my mum or we took the bus. This place was so much nicer, run by medical students, and less oppressive. I have fond memories of this place <3. Now, it's my turn to do the dropping off 🙂

Do you have any memories of your early Islamic education?

May Allah bless our (good) teachers everywhere!

REBEL Q17:23

‘When you are screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they have given up on you.’ –Randy Pausch, an American Professor of Computer Science.

The other possibility when nobody talks, is that they are praying for you to fail and bury yourself. Rebelling often occurs in teenage years and young adulthood. It is at that time folks feel you are simply trying to renegade. (Older or younger than that, you are simply thought to be pig-headed and obstinate).

At that age, one tends to have a tech-savvy know-it-all air, filled with the swagger of youthful exuberance coupled with good health and good looks. There is also the impression that the older ones ‘just don’t get it.’

You are right. They just don’t get it; they are materialistic, archaic, annoying. However, it is also possible that they are simply looking out for you and considering your best interests. They are scared you’ll make the same mistakes they made and are lovingly trying to prevent you from making a mess of your life based on their life experiences. Every normal parent wants his child to succeed beyond him.


Most parents have sacrificed immensely for their children and it is sensible to expect to reward them with obedience and kindness. In fact, it is a major sin for a Muslim child to disobey his parents unless they advise him to do something wrong. Through our parents, we can attain Al-Jannah.

Abdullah bin Amr reported: A man said to the Prophet (SAW), ‘I pledge alliance to you for emigration and striving in the way of Allah, seeking reward.’ The Prophet (SAW) said: Are one of your parents living?
He said, ‘Yes, both of them.’ The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Do you seek reward from Allah?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Return to your parents and accord them benevolent treatment.’ Sahih Muslim 2549

Try to listen patiently to what they have to say and weigh your options. Neither you nor they know the future but of course you can take precautions. After all has been said and done, you and only you will live with the consequences of your actions; whether you decide to capitulate for the sake of peace or insist on the path you have chosen.

However, never forget that, for most of the part, your parents love you and do not wish you harm. Every time you disobey them, it hurts them. No matter the tension between you, accord them respect. Hopefully, this phase will pass and you will one day, all sit together and laugh about this episode of your lives. In sha Allah.

STONE COLD Q63:03

It can be pretty difficult to follow wise counsel sometimes; have you observed that?

We have Professor XYZ tell us some of the finding he arrived at following extensive research but we don’t buy his argument. Why should we buy his argument when it demands more from us than we are willing to give? Besides, it is not appealing and may not work anyway. However, we did not ask his advice; we are doing fine all by ourselves!


You see, the problem is mainly that we do not like change; most times we really don’t. Even if we do seek counsel, we have our minds made up on our courses of action, consciously or subconsciously. When we seek advice, we are simply thinking aloud or looking for someone to validate our decisions. Very few (often highly introspective people) air their views and seek advice to counter their conclusions and steer them in the right direction. Arguably, they could subconsciously have their minds made up but be looking for someone to hold responsible for their actions.

Sometimes, all people need is to be allowed to hear themselves, listen to their dilemmas and they solve their problems themselves. It is where some psychologists make a ton from ‘doing nothing’ but listening to you talk while often asking insightful questions to help you arrive at your destination. Writing thoughts out on paper or a computer screen may help others to dissect the issue at hand.

For some of us, unfortunately, no matter what anyone says, we will not listen! Unless, it is validating our beliefs and perceptions, it is not worth listening to because our minds will not change. We are so stuck and focussed on our view that, nothing else can be right. Those who share their conflicting thoughts with us earn our enmity. When our minds are closed off to other possibilities, we can have no change, no growth, no improvement. In my experience, arguing with such people is never worth the effort because even when faced with facts, such people will perforate it and taint it until the truth is distorted into mere fabrications.

During the Prophet (SAW)’s time, despite the unlikelihood that he wrote the Qur’an being non-literate, many people did not believe. Many more do not and even more will not believe.

I may be wrong but it seems obvious that more miracles were given the older prophets than the more recent ones because Allah knows that miracles reinforce belief, they do not change a stony heart. In recent times, our hearts are colder and more impenetrable. Miracles may drop our jaws for a split second then we will analyse it to bits and decide (rather flippantly) that though rare, it still is ‘no biggie.’

We watch evil being perpetrated so frequently, it’s no longer a big deal. We’ve heard and seen rape, paedophilia, incest, homosexuality, nudity, pornography, obscene talk, serial killings, beheadings, gruesome murders and the rest. In fact, we may witness all these in a 30-min TV show which we watch every week for 6 months or during a movie marathon during the weekends or weeknights. Nothing can faze us except the ‘Special EFX’ on the Day of Judgement- if that!

Pharoah was so stubborn and still ascribed himself with Allah even when the plagues hit. Witnessing these signs of Allah did not stop him from pursuing the people he had granted freedom into the Red Sea. In the face of such awesome ‘EFX’ like the splitting of the Red Sea, he still took his chance and pursued the people of Moses until he met his demise!

May Allah thaw our hearts with daily miracles we witness. May we be able to look at the sunset and see the beauty of Allah’s Work. May our hearts not be sealed to recognise the presence of Allah in every moment of our lives.

IF YOU WERE A REVERT…(Q59:10)


Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar (RA), the Messenger of Allah(SAW) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection . “- Sahih al-Bukhari 2442

I recently heard of a revert who would refuse to cover her hair and pray when she and her husband had a fight. I found it quite amusing, to put it mildly.

I often admire the bravery of reverts though, and I am easily impressed when they make a little effort because in my humble opinion, Islam is not the easiest of religions to follow especially with increasing global islamophobia.

So, I’ve got a question:

If you were a revert, what aspect(s) of Islam would you find the most difficult to inculcate?


I would love you to share your thoughts so that when next we see a revert striving to be better, we would appreciate them more, encourage them, correct them kindly and be less judgmental.

BEREAVEMENT Q52:21


I had resumed work after taking a day off to renew my medical licence. The day started off on a good note because my patient (now friend) had delivered a baby girl overnight. I hurried to the postnatal ward to rejoice with her when I encountered the nurse on duty. She looked glum so I asked about our client and her baby. I was not prepared for the news I received.

I retraced my steps and asked the nurse to fill me in on the details. I had heard she delivered a baby girl in the early hours of the morning; what did she mean by, ‘We lost the baby’? It hurt twice as much because she had become a friend. I am usually stoic but when I finally went in to see her, my eyes welled up.

My dear friend was strong! She was consoling us not to feel bad, that her daughter was beautiful and had had a full head of hair. My heart shattered into a million pieces as I watched her smile while she comforted us. My dear friend was chockful of faith. Some of the nurses had to leave as they were in tears. This was a patient who had been admitted a couple of times because of a difficult pregnancy only for her not to get to return home with her trophy. Even her parents were in tears.

Abu Hassaan said: ‘I said to Abu Hurayrah: Two of my sons have died. Can you narrate to me any hadith from the Messenger of Allah (SAW) which will console us for our loss? He said: Yes; Their little ones are the little ones (da’aamees) of Paradise. When one of them meets his father – or his parents – he takes hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking told of the hem of your garment, and he does not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise’. – Sahih Muslim 2635

Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that a woman came to Allah’s Apostle (SAW) with her child and said: Allah’s Apostle, invoke Allah’s blessing upon him for I have already buried three. He said: You have buried three! She said: Yes. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: You have, indeed, safeguarded yourself against the torment of Hell with a strong safeguard. Sahih Muslim 2636a

I really doubt that there can be a pain worse than that which a mother feels when she loses her child. Unfortunately, we do not allow mothers dwell on this. Instead, we urge them to move on and not dwell on it. It’s Allah’s Will. It is His Will, alright but they should be given the opportunity to grieve and heal. We should also provide our shoulders for them to cry on; to be available for them to talk, if need be. Here is a useful LINK.

May Allah reward their patience by reuniting them with their children in Al-Jannah.