Archive for November, 2007

Bounties in life

 Afficher l'image en taille réelle

“And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah sufficient is (Allah) for him.For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.”… Surah Talaq, 65: 3 (Al-Qur’an) 

According to the Quran, bounties are not bestowed on men as a result of any good they do. They are given to them as a grace from Allah.  Allah is Rahman, which means that He initiates good and gives it gratuitously. Bounties, whether they be spiritual or material, are given to us by Allah out of pure Rahma (Mercy) and grace. I have always believed that if we maintain being grateful with these bounties Allah shall maintain and increase them. Allah knows best.

So does our lives become a material comfort or do we focus more on fulfilling our spiritual level while we are living on this earth with our comforts?

We all know of people who measure their achievements by the standard of wordly success and there are those who measure achievement by their spiritual progress.

 So, the life of this world can be defined as working, eating, drinking, sleeping and other related acts of living. Does Islam refrain from these things? Does Islam prohibit earning a living, acquiring of knowledge, business and production

Absolutely not because Allah has created all of the above things and Allah Almighty regards them as His bounties that should be utlilized for our own advantages.

My spiritual comfort can be summed up as follows:

“Whosoever does right, man or woman, and is a believer, We shall cause to live a good life.” (Qur’an 16:97)

In short,

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, Peace be upon him, used to supplicate, “O Allah, I seek refuge in You against deprivation of Your bounties, against loosing Your security, against the suddenness of Your wrath, and against everything that might cause Your anger.”


A parental point of view


As my child is nearing the age of understanding, I am finding it critical to be on the alert for anything that could possibly send a confusing message(s). Thus, with December just around the corner and the festive holiday decorations throughout stores or schools will raise many questions among our young Muslim children. I found the following article as a step that will help me help my child to better understand an approach to explain non-Muslim holidays such as Christmas. I found the article to be to the point and concise about the importance of bringing an awareness to a child’s life about events that may affect their religious beliefs and practices.

 Call a Meeting about Christmas

Source: Soundvision

With the ubiquitous decorations, Santa Claus beckoning, and classmates anxiously awaiting their presents, your kids are probably wondering once again: what’s the big deal about Christmas?

Some of them may have just accustomed themselves to the yearly celebration. Younger kids may be feeling curious, jealous even, of all of the excitement surrounding the event.

This is why it’s critical to share the Islamic perspective on Christmas with your kids. Even if they know what it’s about, they may feel left out, pressured, or even confused about it and where they stand as Muslims. Here are some ways to bring it up with them.

1.              Call a family meeting

While you can talk about the issue individually, the benefit of getting everyone together is that they can find out how different age groups are handling it. Dealing with Christmas in the office is different from facing it in high school or elementary school.

2.              Start with the recitation of the Quran

Begin with a recitation of Surah Al Fatiha, the first chapter of the Quran. Follow it up with a recitation of Surah al-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Quran. Make sure the translations of both are read out loud. You can have each recitation done by a different family member.

3.              Get to know the territory

Have everyone share what kids at school, coworkers at the office, or the neighbors have been saying about Christmas. Whether it’s plans to go to church for Mass, visiting relatives, or getting lots of gifts under the Christmas tree, get as much information as possible so that each point can be addressed.

4.              Discuss Muslim and Christian beliefs about Jesus, peace be upon him.

Knowing these similarities and differences will teach them to respect beliefs different from their own. Ignorance only fuels misunderstanding. It will be good for parents to read our article about similarities and differences in the Christian and Islamic belief in Jesus, peace be upon him.

5.              Explain the need for multicultural understanding

The USA is a rich mosaic of colors, cultures and backgrounds. There are more than 80 million people of color in America.  There are followers of Native American faiths, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs who live in the US and practice their faith, while the majority of people here are born into the Christian faith. Each religious group has its celebrations and festivals. Just as Christians have their Christmas, for instance, Muslims have their Eids. It’s important for Muslims to know about Christmas, just as we expect people of other faiths to know about Eid.

6.              Stress the importance of respect for other faiths in Islam

Share how Islam has taught us to respect others’ beliefs and faith traditions, emphasizing that disagreement must never amount to disrespect. Use examples from the life of Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him, to show how he gave the utmost respect to other religious groups by allowing them to pray in his own mosque and by instituting the freedom of religion and self-governence in the constitution of Madinah.

7.              Emphasize the respect for Jesus and all Prophets in Islam

Explain how every Prophet in Islam is treated with dignity and respect. One example is how we say ‘peace be upon him’ after each of their names. Another is how they are highly praised by God in the Quran. Jesus, peace be upon him, is important because belief in him can serve as a bridge between Muslims and Christians.

8.           Talk about gifts and decorations

You can’t talk about Christmas without discussing these two elements of the celebration. Don’t be surprised if your kids share feelings of longing for presents and pretty decorations.  Ask them what would make Eid, their holiday, special for them. Gifts? A trip? This should lead to a lively discussion and great ideas that you can implement next Eid Insha Allah (God willing).

9.              Respecting others does not mean compromising your faith

Islam is a unique faith which asks Muslims to believe in all the Prophets, recognize all the Scriptures given to them, respect all other faiths, and not force our faith on anyone else. But at the same time the Prophet Muhammed himself, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, asked us to be firm about our faith and its practices. Respect for other beliefs never means compromising our faith. God given freedom to practice our religion is also embodied in the constitution of the United States which allows freedom of religion to all citizens. It is in recognition of this freedom and the celebration of diversity in the US that the post office issued the Eid Mubarak stamp as it did for other celebrations.

10.           Make the meeting interactive

Family meetings should not be just lectures by an adult. Although the topics for this meeting are all serious, you can turn them into interactive sessions based on the age of the children attending. You may decide to do two meetings instead of one.

11.           Putting this all into practice

When we tested this meeting concept and format in our editor’s home, it went very well. The youngest participant was eight years old, was the most active and knew most of the stuff, thanks to the other meetings and the Islamic schools he attends. However, the meeting reinforced the messages which we wanted to come across and the evening ended with a storytelling session with all the lights off. It was fun!


Our Life: reminders


Living Islam Daily
By Sister Iman bint Johari
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,

‘Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.’

[al-Hakim, al-Baihaqi]

Indeed, we all, at some point in our lives, are reminded of the passage of time… It may be due to an affliction that has befallen us, a word we have read or an incident that we have witnessed. We literally feel the seconds ebbing away from our lives and we are filled with a sense of desperation. What have we achieved? What have we done with our lives?

We are reminded of our aspirations we had once had that have lain dormant… buried… while we are engrossed with building our lives in this dunya. We are reminded of how we wanted to be the true and successful servants of our Creator and we become sick with worry and shame. We see how we have not moved an inch closer to this goal.

We want to make amends …
we KNOW we can do it.

And so we start all over again. We begin to piece together our ideas and resolutions. This time we will not forget and we will not fail, inshaa Allah. We will fast more, pray more, recite the Qur’an more… we will change the world and make it a better place.

We set out with promise and enthusiasm but as the months go by, our determination fizzles out and our good actions are forgotten. Our resolutions once again remain in the realm of good intentions… until the next time something prompts us into introspection.

How do we avoid this? How do we convert our good intentions to consistent actions?

I do not dare to say I have all the answers. I can only share what I have learned in my own struggle with good intentions and resolutions.

Here are some tips that I hope you will find useful in trying to live Islam daily:

[1] Purify your intentions and remember that you wish to seek the pleasure of Allah

Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala):

“Say, ‘Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first (among you) of the Muslims.'”

[Surah al-An’aam, 6: 162,163]

He also says:

“So worship Allah (alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah’s sake only, (and not to show-off and not to set up rivals with Him in worship). Surely, the religion ( i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allah only.”

[Surah Az-Zumar 39:2-3]

Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said,

“Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries in his water-jug dirt. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.”

[2] Seek His help through du’a

Allah has told His Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) that He is close and answers the supplication of any servant who calls to Him. He said:

“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them), I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me.”

[Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 186]

Indeed, when we are faced with distress, it is He whom we should turn to:

“Or, who listens to the distressed (soul) when he calls on Him, and who relieves his suffering?”

[Surah An -Naml: 62]

[3] Do not procrastinate

It is easier for one to put off a goal until tomorrow so that one can rationalize not disciplining oneself today. How often have we said, “Inshaa Allah, I will make a change tomorrow” but never actually get around to doing it? One of the early scholars said, “Beware of procrastinating. It is the greatest of the soldiers of Satan.” Do not make half-hearted promises – you are fooling no one but yourself. Carry out your resolutions with zeal and optimism.

[4] Take baby steps and set realistic goals In our zeal

We often chart ambitious plans only to be discouraged when we cannot sustain our efforts. Remember that no good deed is too small – the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was asked, “Which deed is most beloved to Allah?” He said, “The one that is continuous, even if it is little.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath al-Bari 11:194].

Small changes work a great deal better than giant leaps, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start out with small deeds and you that you can accomplish easily and consistently before moving on to more challenging ones. This will motivate you and make you feel more successful. Insha’Allah, you will find that over time, you will have made a big difference.

[5] Build a good support system

Ibn Hazm said,

“Anyone who criticises you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you.”

It is said that reminders benefit the believers, so surround yourselves with good companions who will give you sincere advice and who will support you with your resolutions. Avoid those who will chip away at your self-esteem or who will tempt you away from your resolutions.

Bear in mind what ‘Ali radhiallahu ‘anhu said:

“Mix with the noble people, you become one of them; and keep away from evil people to protect yourself from their evils.”

[6] Track your progress and be consistent

Write down your goals – hang this list up on the wall, keep it in your notebook, fold it into your wallet or stick it in your locker. You can even keep a log or journal of how you are doing – start a web log even! Be honest with yourself and recheck your goals. The idea is not to slacken. Indeed, when the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) did something, he kept it up.

Take a look at the hadith Qudsi in which Allah says:

“… ‘My slave keeps drawing nearer to me with naafil (supererogatory) deeds until I love him.'”

[Sahih al-Bukhari].

The phrase maa yazaalu [“keeps (drawing near)”] gives the impression of continuity. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) also said,
“Continue doing Hajj and ‘Umrah.”

[7] Avoid burnout

It is inevitable that we sometimes feel as if our iman has hit rock bottom or that we lack the spirit to continue in our striving.

The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,

“Iman wears out in one’s heart, just as the dress wears out (becomes thin). Therefore, ask Allah to renew iman in your hearts.”

[at-Tabarani and Al-Hakim]

Continuing to do acts of worship and good deeds does not mean one exhausts oneself to breaking point. We continue with the obligatory acts. When we have the energy and inclination, we strive to do more and when we do not, we do as much as we can.

The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)said:

“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection…”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

According to another report, he said:

“Be moderate, and you will reach what you want.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

[8] Seek inspiration

The best sources of inspiration are in the mighty Qur’an, the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), his companions, the pious predecessors and the scholars.

Look at Abu Musa al-Ash’ari. He used to apply himself so much in worship at the end of his life that he was told, “Why don’t you slow down and be gentle with yourself?” He replied, “When the horses are released for a race and are close to the finish line, they give all the strength they have. What is left of my life is less than that.” It is said that he maintained this level of devotion till he died.

Look at Amir ibn Abdullah who was once asked, “How can you tolerate being awake all night, and thirsty in the intense heat of the day?” He replied, “Is it anything more than postponing the food of the day to nighttime, and the sleep of the night to daytime? This is not a big matter.” When the night came, he would say, “Remembrance of the heat of hellfire has taken sleepiness from me.” And he would not sleep until dawn.

Look at Ar-Rabi’ ibn Khuthaym. Abu Hayan related that his father said, “Ar-Rabi’ ibn Khuthaym was crippled and used to be carried to the congregational salah. So people told him, “You have an excuse (for not coming).” He said, “I hear ‘hayya ‘alas-salah’, the call to salah; so if you can come to it even by crawling, do so”, paraphrasing a hadith.

[9] Do a variety of acts of worship

Allah in His Infinite Mercy has blessed us with a variety of acts of worship to do – some are physical such as prayer; some are financial such as zakat and sadaqah; some are spoken such as du’aa and dhikr.

Perhaps the wisdom behind this provision is that it addresses the different inclinations and abilities of the people. Some people may enjoy some kinds of worship more than others. Indeed, Allah has made gates of Paradise according to the different types of worship.

According to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (radhiallahu anhu) the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)said:

“Whoever spends on a pair for the sake of Allah will be called from the gates of Paradise, ‘O slave of Allah, this is good.’ Whoever is one of the people of prayer will be called from the gate of prayer. Whoever is one of the people of jihad will be called from the gate of jihad. Whoever is one of the people of fasting will be called from the gate of al-Rayyan. Whoever is one of the people of charity will be called from the gate of charity.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

[10] Do not waste even a minute

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of deeds one can do. There may be days when one is busy with chores, work or commitments to family and friends. This does not mean that one does not have time to incorporate one’s resolution to live Islam daily. One can make dhikr while cooking, one can memorise a du’aa while waiting for the bus, one can listen to an Islamic lecture when driving home from work… the list goes on. The bottom line? Do what you can when you can.

May Allah give us steadfastness and may He give us the best in this world and the hereafter

Alahumma infa`ni bima `allamtani wa `allamni ma yanfa`uni!

OH ALLAH! Make useful for me what You taught me
and teach me knowledge that will be useful to me!


Share this article with the maximum number of people you can.

Guiding one soul to knowledge and faith is a momentous achievement.
It is what will earn us great blessings…
(Insha Allah)

Writing for a Purpose


Open Letters, Open Hearts

Personal Letters from Muslims to Family, Friends and Others

Working Title: Open Letters, Open Hearts

Narrative Author/Editor: Christine (Amina) Benlafquih

Publisher: An-Najm Publishers, London, UK

Deadline for Submissions: January 31, 2008 (see Guidelines below)

About the Book

The anthology-style Open Letters, Open Hearts will feature heartfelt letters written by Muslims who appeal to their family, friends and others to open their hearts and minds to the message of Islam.

Most of us have been touched and inspired by an emotional piece of writing. Something as simple as a greeting card or as lengthy as a novel can successfully evoke emotion in a reader. Whether raw and direct, or gentle and persuasive, the power of the written word can not be denied. 

Muslims worldwide are invited to use this power and compose open letters which address the people and unique circumstances in their own lives from an Islamic perspective.  Whether differences need to be solved, religious issues explained, or concern expressed about someone’s harmful life choices, a letter allows the writer to convey sincerity and present Islamic values and teachings in a positive, relevant light.

Although Muslims naturally wish for others to recognize the truth of Islam, one of the main objectives of Open Letter, Open Hearts is to appeal to the emotional ties that connect us to family, friends and humanity in general. It is hoped that people of all faiths will find common ground with Muslims through the personal stories and situations revealed in the letters. Inshaa’ Allah, this connection will help open the door to better understanding of Muslims and Islam’s true teachings. 

The Open Letters, Open Hearts project was born of the editor’s desire to meet her personal da’wah obligation and help her non-Muslim family better understand her decision to embrace Islam.  All Muslims have a religious duty to give da’wah (invite others to Islam through teaching or example of good actions).  However, many Muslims are uncomfortable doing so, either due to inhibition or because family and friends aren’t open to such discussion.

Da’wah is not only directed at non-Muslims. Born-Muslims often find themselves dealing with family and friends who either don’t practice the religion at all, or neglect certain aspects of it.

Submitting an open letter to the anthology – and inshaa`Allah directly to the person(s) to whom it is addressed – offers a positive step towards meeting our da’wah obligation.

Submission Guidelines

– Please limit your letter to 1200 words or less.

– Submissions must be in English.  Proofread your letter carefully for spelling and grammar. Poorly written submissions will not be considered.

– You may submit more than one Open Letter, but each letter must be submitted separately.

– Letters may be written to an individual or a group (i.e. an entire family, colleagues, neighbors, etc.).

– Although general content to promote understanding of Islam is acceptable, letters which address very unique, personal situations are most likely to be selected.  For example, a revert to Islam may feel the need to explain his reversion to an angry family member. A born Muslim might want to clarify to her mother why some of her “Islamic” cultural practices are actually not compatible with the true teachings of Islam. Another writer might address a friend’s alcohol or gambling addiction. 

– Open Letters of a political nature or letters which address a vast group of people (i.e. letters addressed to the West, all Americans, world leaders, etc.) will be considered only if the content and message will outlive today’s current events.

– Whatever the letter’s theme, the content must contain relevant and correct Islamic perspective or teaching. Passages from the Holy Qur’an and Ahadeeth should be referenced.

– Write from the heart. Letters with a strong emotional component are highly desired.  References to personal events and family history will help evoke memories and stir emotion in all readers.

– The tone of the letters should be kind, informative and non-judgmental. Hateful or inflammatory language will immediately disqualify a submission.

– Any topic is welcome, as long as the writer successfully relates it to Islam. Possible topics include:

– Culture versus religion

– Comparison of Christianity and Islam

– Explanation of conversion/reversion

– Incompatibility of the Trinity with Islam

– Infinite Mercy of God

– Women in Islam

– Islamic appearance and dress

– Comparison of the Torah, the Bible, and the Qu’ran

– Current events and terrorism

Tawheed and the belief in One God

– Islam’s views of Jesus and Maryam, peace be upon them

– Harmful lifestyle choices and practices

– Polygany

– Concept of submission to Allah

– Non-Muslim and Islamic holidays

– Rights of parents and children

– Tenets of Islam

– Commonalities and differences between Christianity and Islam

Shirk and the association of others with Allah

How to Submit

Submissions must be made electronically by email to  Please write “Submission” in the subject line.  

Include only one submission per email.

Use double spacing and select a 12 pt. Roman font (such as Times New Roman).

Save your document as a Word file (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) and attach it to the email.  (Please do not copy and paste your submission into the body of the email.)

Include the following information on the first page of your submission.  Copy and paste the header directly into your document.

Your name


Email address

City/State/Country of Residence


The introduction should be a sentence or short paragraph which offers background to your letter. An example might be: I am an American Muslim convert of 14 years writing a letter to my brother, who is considering converting to Judaism.

Privacy and Anonymity

Your privacy and that of your family and friends is important. If your letter is selected, you will be asked what name you would like to be published under (real name, first name, kunya or pseudonym).  Names, localities, and other details which help identify the addressee(s) will be changed when needed to protect their privacy.


As this is a da’wah project to promote better understanding of Islam and Muslims, the publisher, editor and contributors will receive no monetary compensation. Writers of letters selected for publication will receive two copies of the printed anthology.

About the Narrative Author/Editor

Christine (Amina) Benlafquih is a freelance writer and the current publications officer of the Islamic Writers Alliance.  A former publications and public relations director, she accepted Islam in 1993. She lives in Morocco with her husband and six children.

Contact Information

If you need more information, please contact the editor at

Challenges and Opportunities


Education is the birth right of every Muslim and Muslimah. Investment in education is the best investment one can make, because it eventually leads to intellectual property. The greatest objective of education is to prepare the young generation for leadership. The Muslim child absorbs the Islamic values from his or her parents, teachers, peers, friends and the environment, including the care-givers. Once the Muslim child develops undesirable habits and unethical values, does it become extremely difficult later to change the child into becoming a good Muslim/Muslimah? Something I have been pondering.

All of this has great influence on and impacts the Muslims living in America, especially the children and youth. The parents try to teach Islamic values and morals to the children, hence children are to maintain these values at home environment. Outside the home, the children are in a totally different environment. At times the outside social environment is in opposition to what Muslim children are learning at home. As a result of this conflict, children are fighting a psychological battle in their minds. These are some real challenges as parents especially when dealing with so much as tv, video, video games, movies, peer pressure could play an effective role in erasing the Islamic personality the parents are building and deeply influence the behavior of the children for years. It takes constant and continuous effort on the part of the parents and others to keep our youth on the path of Islamic values. Otherwise they will become a statistic.

In America, the parents of Muslim children are facing the challenge of picking the right school for their children. Parents can choose the school their children will attend. Parents would like to send their children to a school that promotes academic excellence and a value centered educational environment.

Are steps such as promoting character, order and discipline needed more in our Islamic schools in order to help our youth to not fall into the culture of guns and drugs?  

Personal change


A couple of days ago, I found an article that suggested or encouraged people reading the Quran to write down what was read in order to have a stronger connection to what we live and better persepective to why we are reading the Quran. What I have been writing are basically verses that I have found to be helpful and as instructional tools for guidance in my everyday life. What I have found by  just writing some verses in just a few days is that it has helped me improve my character as a person and knowledge of what can allow me to share with my husband, child or friend(s). However, one thing I have found in just this week that it needs to be constant in order for learning to take place. For example, some verses in Surah Nisa after reading them helped me write down and connect them to personal experiences of being a mother and a wife. Difficult moments that I have gone through that I have found answers to now vs. then when I most needed it when I had no answers or understanding. My goal is to keep up with reading through reflective writing in this journal I have started to actually see it as a motivator for personal change in my role as a mother. The best time for me to get this done has been in the morning when it is quiet, no distractions or other commitments to think about.

Just on the side: Studies have shown that the more children read the better readers and writers they become. Well, I am sure the more we can crunch time to spend for ourselves in trying to read the Quran we can not only gain more knowledge but set examples for our children to pick up a book and read for meaning and personal connections.





The Prophet Mohamed, peace and blessings be upon him, has said: “The believers are like mirrors for each other…” (Abu Dawud).

The arguement goes something like this:

“Why didn’t the fundraising dinner start on time? I wasted two hours just sitting and watching organizers set up tables and chairs.”

“The meeting was so disorganized! Why can’t we get our act together?”

These types of comments can be heard in many Muslim communities and why point out the weaknesses of other Muslims and our institutions, especially publicly? Criticism is bound to deflate enthusiasm. Why be critical when it will only turn Muslims away from each other instead of unifying them?

Why do we look into the mirror? To check out our appearance and how it can be improved. Similarly, we must give each other constructive criticism so that as a community we are constantly improving.

Some Muslims take a position that public criticism is harmful for Muslim unity. I wonder what unity is out there which will be destroyed by public criticism?

The aim of criticisms is  to shed light on our challenges for further improvement.  A commUnity is supposed to work for a change and whether it be issues pertaining to the family like domestic violence and the difficulty many couples face in the first years of marriage or problems that touch all members of the Muslim community such as racism or inadequate money due to extenuating circumstances. Granted, some criticism defeats itself when it is characterized by harshness, rudeness and a lack of balance.

Personally, criticism doesn’t harm unity. Instead, it makes it stronger because Muslims then work together to solve problems for the benefit of the community.

The early Muslim community’s dynamism and unity were not harmed by constructive criticism, partly because we had leaders who were open to questioning of their actions and willing to accept criticism. As well, Muslims were not afraid to point out weaknesses in a frank, open and respectful manner in the interest of Islam and the Muslim community. Our leaders and the managers of our institutions today must remember that criticism is part of the leadership territory.

It is time for all of us to try to enjoin the good and forbid injustices.