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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! 😉

 

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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.

CUT SOME SLACK Q35:45

I do not think I will ever feel qualified enough to give marital advice but sometimes, like today, the advice wants to give itself!

Alhamdulillah for those of us who are married; single and searching and even happily single (ain’t anything wrong with that). May Allah restore happiness to the widow(er)ed and the divorced as well.

Human interaction is not always easy. One thing I have always observed in marriages that last is the ability to pick one’s battles.

I had known my husband for quite some time before we eventually tied the knot so I thought I knew him pretty well. Then we got married and we both started to unpack our emotional luggage and sparks began to fly! No, not the good type of sparks.

With a couple of years under our belt, I make bold to say like Kenny Rogers said in the Gambler,

‘You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run…’

The Prophet (S.A.W.) said:
‘Whoever gives for the sake of Allah, withholds for the sake of Allah, loves for the sake of Allah, hates for the sake of Allah, and marries for the sake of Allah, he has indeed perfected his faith.’- Jami` at-Tirmidhi Book 11, Hadith 252

Everyone has a deal-breaker or two or ten… There are some things I may endure that someone else would absolutely not tolerate. I personally cannot tolerate domestic violence but some women feel it spices up their marriage. Many older generation wives seem to turn a blind eye to their husband’s extramarital affairs while younger wives have little tolerance for such. Accept your spouse for who (s)he is and decide whether of not you can live with them. Know your deal breakers and take a stand.

If you hate something about your spouse, analyse it and see that it is not for selfish reasons. If we’ve married our spouses for the right reasons (for their iman and piety), we should be able to continue loving them for the sake of Allah. Likewise, we should dislike a bad habit of theirs for His Sake and continue to pray that Allah rectifies this trait. Of course, we may also need to have a discussion with our spouse to communicate our feelings.

Every marriage is customised to suit the couple in it so what works for ‘A’ may not work for ‘B’ hence the need to know what is important to you. Don’t sweat the small stuff like he forgot your birthday unless it is ABSOLUTELY important to you. Focus on the things your spouse does right and appreciate him/her for those.I’ve seen mothers fighting while their children are neglected. I’ve heard of wives complain incessantly about their husbands until they succeed in pushing a good man away.

Conserve your energy for important matters and you will be able to create a more nurturing home for your husband and children with less tension from the reins you hold so tightly in your grasp.

This also extends to other areas of life and to our interaction with other people. Look at the big picture and decide if someone’s behaviour is something you can overlook or not. Allow people to make mistakes and be themselves. Be tolerant. None of us is perfect. It’s not every time you bark. No one takes a dog that’s always barking seriously.

BECAUSE OF LOVE Q2:45, Q8:28

If you have watched Nollywood movies (Nigerian, mostly home videos), you would have observed a recurring act: the native/witch doctor. It is why I rarely watch them.

From the movies I have seen, and stories I have heard, it is inevitable that the outcome of such visits to the land of idolatry will be dismal. Even those that end up happily ever after are only happy shortly after. That’s why it boggles my mind why people still patronise these practitioners.

Allah has recorded in His Book that our properties and children are but a trial but it seems we do not quite ‘get’ it sometimes.

In most movies, the protagonist doesn’t mind being killed; afterall, (s)he must have had many near-death experiences to take death too seriously. The antagonist understands this hence attention is often shifted to a cherished person or innocent bystander. For the safety of this person, the hero would jump through hoops for the antagonist just to ensure peace.

Why do desperate people approach native/witch doctors/devil worshippers etc? Majority do so for the sake of their loved ones.

I am not here to sound sanctimonious because I do not know what I would be capable of in such a situation where my loved ones’ lives are at stake but right now, I do know that asking for Shaytan’s help and welcoming him into my home will only spell doom and I am counting on you to remind me if ever (audhubillah) such an opportunity arises.

Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, zeniths and nadirs. These opposites help us to better appreciate our situations. It gives us a scale with which to evaluate our success or failure. Challenges do not always mean our ancestors or the people in the village are after us. No one lives a rosy enchanted life. It doesn’t exist. Not in this world. All the wealthy people and celebrities we envy have their challenges too. No one is exempt.

We will all face challenges at various points in our lives. Just because we are Muslims who pray regularly and punctually, and fast and give charity doesn’t mean we are exempt from trials. These trials help to chisel away the irrelevant pieces that constitute us, bringing forth the masterpiece we were created to be. We should allow Allah show us what we need to learn to move to the next stage and pray for patience and iman, instead of throwing all our lives away by committing the one unpardonable sin of shirk.

Do not kid yourself. There are many masquerading as religious scholars who will tell you to perform acts that sound contrary to Islam’s teachings. Do not attempt to eat a meal made of a black cockerel killed by twisting its neck at dawn or justify drinking an alcoholic concoction at the stroke midnight while standing naked in a river/stream or your bedroom just because an ‘Alfa/Mallam/Ustadh’ told you so. That is not Islam and deep inside, you know it . Do not do it and don’t have anyone do such for you. Even the Rukia that is supposedly acceptable also comes with a caveat.

Ibn Abbas quoted the Prophet (SAW) said, ‘70,000 people of my followers will enter Paradise without account. And they are those who do not practice Ruqya and do not see an evil omen in things, and put their trust in their Lord.’- Sahih Al-Bukhari Book 81, Hadith 61

Please, for Allah’s sake and for yours too, make only authentic du’a that have Quranic or ‘Sunnatic’ backing. It’s easier these days to simply google strange du’a you are told to make to find out if they exist in the Qur’an or the Ahadith. The onus is on us to learn to communicate with Allah and seek knowledge to get closer to Him.

Don’t throw away all your struggles so far only to end up facing Allah’s Wrath in the hereafter which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than our brief sojourn on Earth.

A word is enough for the wise.

May Allah keep our hearts steadfast. May we not deviate after we have been guided.

LAST STRAW Q2.35-6, Q29.32-3

You know about the last straw that breaks the camel’s back, right? That’s the issue on ground today.

A lot of times, we trivialise the wrong deeds we do, like we trivialise the small good deeds. We shrug our shoulders and flip our hairs at those sunnah acts and see them as going the extra mile. We look at those who bother as the over-zealous ‘over-sabi’ people. It may be alright to stick to what is compulsory and avoid what is haram but that extra mile may be what will tip the scales in our favour. We are not keeping a record of our deeds and sins so how do we know where we are deficient?

Those seemingly little good acts can act like a bonus or indeed, a jackpot! Like the tale of the prostitute and the thirsty dog.

But that is not the issue today. The issue is effortlessly accumulating sins, little by little until our boat capsizes.

image credit: parentingthepresence.com

image credit: parentingthepresence.com


We know we shouldn’t shake hands with members of the opposite sex, shouldn’t talk during the Khutbah, recitation of the Qur’an or adhan, shouldn’t travel without a mahram, sip alcohol or taste pork, use nail polish; but we do anyway. Why do we do these? We feel they are inconsequential and when our attention is drawn to it, we look at the messenger with scorn or rationalise our way out of it.

Do we know how heavily the scales are tipped against us? Or we would rather be optimistic that it is in our favour? Do we know what final small deed of disobedience we would commit that will break the scales and plunge us into Jahannam? No, we don’t. So, it really is foolhardy to keep stacking up on the little misdeeds in favour of the little acts of kindness.

Shaytan may have been gradually stacking up on his sins in Paradise before he finally placed that last straw that broke the camel’s back. Prophet Adam (ASW) disobeyed Allah by eating the forbidden fruit and he was cast out of Eden. Lut (ASW)’s wife could also have done her fair share of stacking before Allah finally brought the axe down on her; the lands Allah wiped off had committed grave sins till they reached a final breaking point. It may seem like we have been getting away with our small misdemeanours but one sin might be all it takes! One last sin. That final straw. Think about it.

Do not belittle that sin. Think of all Allah has done for us and at how we disobey Him when He deserves so much better.

May Allah make our hearts surrender to Him enough to forgo these small sins. And when we do sin, may He remind us to seek His forgiveness and truly repent before it’s too late.