COVID-19 Webinar: A Global Islamic Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Announcing the SeekersGuidance COVID-19 Webinar This Sunday!

As this pandemic spreads across the world, the Muslim community is struggling to find answers to many questions. Along with the critical advice of health and medical professionals, we are in dire need of Prophetic Guidance. SeekersGuidance has put together an important program to provide clarity in these challenging times with Muslim scholars, teachers, medical professionals, and thought leaders from around the world.

COVID-19 Webinar: A Global Islamic Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, will live stream on our website at seeke.rs/live and our Facebook page, this coming Sunday, March 22nd, at 1:00PM EST.


Some of our confirmed speakers:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani | Toronto, Canada

Mufti Hussain Kamani | Texas, United States

Dr. Asim Yusuf | West Midlands, United Kingdom

Imam Khalid Latif | New  York, United States

Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan | Cape Town, South Africa

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat | Bradford, United Kingdom

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari | Knoxville, United States

Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi | Istanbul, Turkey

Shaykh Salman Younas | London, United Kingdom

Dr. Hadia Mubarak | North Carolina, United States

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed | Toronto, Canada

Dr. Idriss Sparkes | Waterloo, Canada

Imam Hamid Slimi | Toronto, Canada

Shaykh Amin Buxton | Edinburgh, Scotland

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch | Toronto, Canada

Imam Yama Niazi | Vancouver, Canada

Dr. Yusuf Patel | Cape Town, South Africa

Ustadh Abdullah Misra | Trinidad

Moulana Zakariyya Harnekar | Cape Town, South Africa

Moulana Muhammad Carr | Cape Town, South Africa

 

Don’t miss out on this beautiful event .

 

May Allah bless you all and keep you all healthy, amin.

Coronavirus Lessons From Its Butterfly Effect – Shaykh Sadullah Khan

* Courtesy of Masjid al – Furqaan (Cape Town)

In this Pre Khutba talk, Shaykh Sadullah Khan advises the congregation on the lessons that can be learnt regarding the current global pandemic COVID – 19. Shaykh Sadullah provides practical measures and precautions that people can take in their daily lives in order to reduce the risk of transmission. Furthermore, he reminds us to reflect on this contemporary event and to be cognizant of the butterfly effect. Sometimes a seeming-less insignificant event can have massive ramifications. In these challenging times, we should remain optimistic and do the best that we can to avert the potential consequences of COVID-19. We should rely on Allah in all matters and take the necessary means that he has created in order to protect ourselves and others. Let us appreciate the great gifts of life and health in these testing times.

Ibtihaj Muhammad: How A Champ Trains In Ramadan

*Originally posted on 2016/06/17

Muslim American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she spends up to seven hours training on an average day. Right now, during Ramadan, that means seven hours of intense physical exercise without any food or water between sunrise and sunset.

“My faith is first and foremost to me. It’s a priority,” Muhammad told The Huffington Post. “So it was never a question of whether I would fast and train. I’ve had to fast and train for as long as I’ve been competing at this level. The only difference for me this go around is that I’m in the middle of training for the Olympics.”
Read the rest on Huffington Post. Follow Ibtihaj on twitter. 

Why Do We Waste So Much Food in Ramadan? – Shaykh Muhammad Metwali Al-Sha’raawi

In this video, the late Egyptian luminary and scholar, Shaykh Muhammad Metwali Al-Sha’raawi (RA) urges us to reflect on our consumption of food in the month of Ramadan. He reminds us that there is no benefit in overeating or being gluttonous once the time of breaking fast sets in. Rather, we should suffice ourselves with minimal food so that we may reap the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting. By being conscious of the true meanings of Ramadan, Muslims will be able to live lives of moderation and balance.

 


Biography:

Shaykh Muhammad al-Sha’raawi was born in Egypt on the 5th of April , 1911. At the age of 11, he had completely memorized the Quran. He graduated from the Faculty of Arabic Language at the al – Azhar University in 1941. He was considered and recognized as a gifted exegete of the Quran. He was revered and respected in the Muslim world for his scholarship and piety. His regular weekly programme on Egyptian television immediately following Friday prayers was followed by millions of people around the Middle East. During his programmes, he would explain the Qur’an with humor, wisdom and the use of examples drawn from everyday life. He passed away on the 4th of June, 1998. Reportedly more than a million mourners packed Cairo’s streets in a display of grief.


 

Conquering Mount Sawm, by Tushar Imdad-ul-Haq Bhuiya

Especially motivating for those dreading the long summer fasts, the following diary entries, written by British educator Tushar Imdad-ul-Haq Bhuiya, should provide reassurance that keeping hunger at bay isn’t as hard as it seems.Although describing the challenge of keeping a voluntary fast, the lessons are just as relevant for Ramadan.

After reading extracts from Brad Pilon’s Eat. Stop. Eat, encouragement from my teacher and reflection upon the Sunna, I decide to embark on the ultimate challenge for a food-loving Muslim: a voluntary fast. (And since it’s British summer time, the fast lasts from 02:30 till 9PM – 19½ hours!). What encouraged me was last Ramadan’s experience; we British Muslims dreaded the long summer fast of 2012 – the longest of its kind for almost 30 years! And yet, we did it. It wasn’t that hard. Indeed, I found this extract from a hindsight entry made last year under the title ‘Miracle of Fasting’:

“I somehow fasted from 4.50am till 9.30PM, possibly my longest ever. And it wasn’t hard – despite my normally having 3 square meals and 2 tea-breaks in that time! Allah made it easy, put baraka in my suhur and gave me energy, Alhamdulillah!”

So I went to sleep last night, after a late Isha, with the intention that if Allah would get me up at Tahajjud, only then would I fast with the following intentions:

  1. To follow the exalted Sunna, which should suffice us from having any other motive (though, as with other Sunnas, modern scientific findings help us appreciate the worldly benefits)
  2. To discipline my mind and nafs (self/soul) not to think about food all the time, and therefore
  3. Have a more productive day

02:50 AM

Allah woke me at 2:05AM and I knew He wanted me to try this experiment (perhaps so I could share it with SeekersHub Global readers!). I scrambled to the kitchen to prepare an odd suhur of instant porridge, last night’s pizza & chips leftovers, tea, a date and orange juice. Suitably stuffed, and after some fervent du’a, I’m ready to face the day… after the small matter of sleep!

1:15 PM

Breakfast wasn’t an issue as I was still full from suhur. No headaches or tiredness either. Skipped my compulsory tea-break at work without fuss. This is a big deal as, normally, the first moment after finishing my lesson at 10:30  I’d be rushing to the kitchen to make a cuppa! Got some less intensive down-time for the next few hours. Over half way now: so far, so good.

From a teacher’s point of view I find the ability to fast extraordinary. The nafs is like a teenager/child. Where it knows it has options, it’ll test the boundaries and ask for more than it deserves. However when the boundaries are clear from the outset of the day and one has made the firm resolve NOT to eat until sunset, the nafs grows quiet and barely a squeak of defiance is ever heard!

4:30

Three hours later and still no pangs, Alhamdulillah. I got a slight headache after hours of study on a Seekers Guidance course,  email checking and internet research. The research was worth it though: found out about The Fast Diet which contains much of the inspiration that got me started.

Now, after a brief rest, am pretty energized whilst tutoring the first of two lessons. Only two problems I’ve encountered so far: tendency to do excessive or useless internet jobs, and a longing for Maghrib time to come!

7:00

Last lesson done. Slight headache. Will rest for 20 mins before Tai Chi class at 7:30.

10:00

OK, Tai Chi was agony on my legs for some reason (found out later that this was due to my incorrect posture in one of the positions!) But Maghrib came upon me far from passing out due to hunger.

Conquering Mount Sawm…From the Outside

So if I could climb and conquer Mount Sawm outside Ramadan, anyone can. I’ll leave you with a few top tips that helped me get there:

  1. Have a strong intention for Allah.
  2. Consume a hearty, nutritious (I did have porridge remember!) suhur
  3. Read inspiring literature about benefits of the fast: if you’re not up to date with the two world famous and highly popular diets that lead incredible scientific support to the Sunna fasting system, then do read The Fast Diet by Mosley and Eat.Stop.Eat by Pilon
  4. Keep really busy. I’m sure you noticed my day was quite packed with different activities including work, study and fitness.
  5. Ponder that if millions of other Muslims around the world can do it, so can you. Mothers do this to get over the fear of childbirth. Fasting is not nearly as painful. If you need motivation outside Ramadan, when you are struggling to fast when most people aren’t, then there are a few things to consider: a) Your worship is especially likely to be more sincere. Keep your fast secret (as is recommended with all voluntary acts) and enjoy the special connection you have with Allah, knowing that you are fasting sincerely for His pleasure alone; b) The health benefits you learn from acting upon point 3 above is enough to inspire anyone to take up fasting weekly. Non-Muslims throughout the UK are ‘fasting’ Monday and Thursday due to the proven long-term benefits to health. As Muslims we have even more motivation; c) Although, not everyone is fasting, you can be sure that the ‘ulema of Taqwa, awliya and saliheen all fast regularly. It’s certainly comforting to know you are united with them in following the Sunnah of regular voluntary fasting.
  6. Allow yourself a Sunna qaylula (afternoon nap) after Zuhr; in long summer days this means you can get through plenty of work before your nap. Many nap straight after work. When you wake, it’s just the final lap with the finish line in sight.
  7. Enjoy and take advantage of the fact that you can be so much more productive on a fast day.

The Thought is Scarier Than the Experience

As we’ve all experienced, the thought of fasting – of not having one’s regular meals, of skipping one’s normal snacks – is actually a lot more frightening than the fast itself. Ironically, this is like productivity generally: the anticipation of how difficult it will be to achieve important goals is normally much worse than the actual experience.

And so the upshot is also the same: stop worrying; just do it! Ramadan Mubarak to all reading this and I’d be so grateful if you could remember me in your duas when you break your fasts.

Fruit Photo by Michael Stern. Clock picture by Christine Callahan.

Resources for Seekers

A Nursing Mother’s Ramadan Reflections, by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil thought she knew what a challenging fasting day was…until she became a mother and began nursing her baby.

I thought that my hardest Ramadans were the ones I spent in Jordan, as a young student of knowledge. The days were incredibly long, and the blistering summer heat was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I missed the comfort of my mother’s cooking, and the familiar faces of my family and friends. In place of the loved ones I left behind, Allah blessed me with the warm company of new friends. May Allah reward the families who opened their homes to me, especially during Ramadan.
Almost a decade later, I find myself faced with an entirely different set of circumstances. I am married, living in Malaysia and nursing my baby daughter. She is almost one, and I am so grateful that she enjoys eating solids. Fiqh rulings about fasting while breastfeeding have taken a whole new meaning for me. Once, I would have thought it impossible. Nursing mothers like myself often experience a hunger that accompanies nursing a baby. Despite that, I’m realising how much Allah sustains my baby daughter and me, from heartbeat to heartbeat. Is it easy to fast while nursing a baby? Absolutely not. It’s humbling, it’s exhausting, it’s possible, and for now at least, I’ll keep going.

Tips for nursing mums:

1)   Drink plenty of water after iftar, alongside chia seeds soaked overnight.
2)   Have a solid suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and ask Allah to sustain you.
3)   Nap during the day when your baby naps!
4)   Express milk after suhoor or iftar, or both, if you need to.
5)   If you start getting unwell or your milk supply drops enough to impact on your baby’s nourishment, then know that it’s OK to stop fasting. Pay it back later, and look at the rules of fidyah for your school of thought. Some women can fast while nursing, while others can’t. Allah knows.

Extra Worship Is Another Matter

This Ramadan, I haven’t been able to step into a masjid, because my baby daughter doesn’t sleep through the night. Some nights, she can stay asleep for long stretches, and other nights, she wakes up continuously. I’ve made my peace with that. Instead of the luxury of hours of tarawih like in days gone by, I have precious moments of solitude as my daughter sleeps, or plays with her father and grandmother. These are the moments where I close my eyes and remember the power of intention. Every day looking after my baby is a day spent in love and service, for the sake of Allah Most High. Keeping connected to that intention is challenging, even on the best of days. What’s helped me stay present with that intention is listening to the SeekersHub Ramadan Podcasts in between putting her to sleep, feeding her, and playing with her. Mercy, forgiveness, and salvation – we are all in need.
May Allah help us make the most of the days we have left, help us be of service to others, and help us be pleased with His Decree.

Resources for seekers

Being Depressed? Or Hoping for the Best?

Sharifah Bebe Hasan explores the difference between experiencing natural low points in life, and being clinically depressed. being depressed

Negative emotions are completely natural.  In fact, they can make us realise that we are makhluq (created) being who are flawed, and that we have limitations.It’s also important to realise that we are eternally connected to our Khaliq (Creator) who has no limitation. Allah The Creator doesn’t leave His Creation without guidance. Allah says in the Qur’an:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. (Sura Baqara 2:286) 

Reading this verse can empower us to realise that we are, in fact, equipped to handle what comes in our way.

Encountering Low Points In Life

When encountering sad and negative feelings, a good first step is to try to better understand their causes. Is it a family problem, financial stress, or anxiety over something in the future? The answers will vary depending on the individual, but overcoming the root causes of these problems is one of the best ways out. Moving on or away from what’s dragging you down, such as a toxic relationship, could also be a way out. 

Sometimes, going through a difficult time can reveal to you the people who truly care for you, as well as the ones who only stay with you until difficult times arise.  When feeling low, take the opportunity to notice the people who show you love in many ways, such as by asking if you are okay, providing you with good resources, working hard to fulfil your needs. Then this will be the time you can talk to them regarding your feelings, and show them respect and love in return to make them happy and loved.

The feeling of emptiness, loss and confusion is not something new in this world. Many legendary individuals and great people had  gone through these feelings to realise their existence and their reliance on their Creator. One of these great stories is the story of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, who was deprived  by his own people and family, and he took that opportunity to search for his Creator.

In the same way, you may rise above this situation by using this emptiness as a call upon you to fill  your heart with the love of the Creator and His Prophets, and find the great wisdom in life’s lessons.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad taught his companions the following dua:

‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ

“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Bukhari)

How to Seek Help

There are many things that one could do to seek help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, as feeling sad, lost, hopeless, and anxious are all ups and downs of a normal human being’s life. Some people manage to calm themselves by connecting themselves to the Creator where as others would need additional external help from their loved ones, or professional help from counsellors or therapists.

However, the problem can get much worse if they bottle up their feelings and don’t seek help.  The best time to seek help is any time you need help. One could seek internal and external help by attending knowledge circles, or getting support from their love ones and counsellors.

What is Depression?

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), simply known as Depression, is much different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. It is a long-lasting condition,  with a moderate or severe intensity of emotional response.

Experts have listed the following symptoms that usually appear in individuals with depression.  An adult with depression would usually experience 5 or more out of these symptoms (including at least one of depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure) in the same 2-week period. In children and adolescents, the  duration must be 1 year or longer to be considered depression.

  1. Depressed mood (subjective or observed).
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure
  3. Change in weight or appetite
  4. Poor appetite or overeating
  5. Insomnia or hypersomnia
  6. Psychometric retardation or agitation (observed)
  7. Loss of energy or fatigue
  8. Worthlessness of guilt
  9. Low self-esteem
  10. Impaired concentration or indecisiveness
  11. 11.Thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or attempt
  12. Hopelessness

Source: Uher et. al

To put it simply, depression is to feel some of the above symptoms over a long period of time. For adults, that time period is roughly more than 2 weeks, and for children and adolescent nearly a year, as their hormones are still imbalance and in growing state.

Unfortunately, not many people fully understand depression. When sadness or anxiety overpowers a person for few moments, some people self-diagnose with depression rather than seeking professional consultation. This puts them at risk of falling further into the abyss, rather than coming out of it.

Before coming to a conclusion, one should start by breaking down the root causes of their emotions.  Is it because they feel hopeless towards life? Or is it because they can’t do as well as others in life? Or is it because they feel like their life is empty?

Feeling Down but Not Depressed

If these are feelings one encounters every once a week or so, or these feelings come and go, making it difficult to lead a normal happy life, then here are few ways to tackle or respond to these feelings. These are usually symptoms of feeling down or sad. They may not necessarily be depression, but they should nonetheless be acknowledged and addressed.

When is feeling hopeless, they should bring to mind that Allah is their Creator and Sustained, and open themselves to receiving Allah’s mercy Knowing that there is Creator who will always cherish and protect the creation, could be the first step to a life of hope. 

For example, when a mother of small children bakes a cake, she would not put the cake at a place where her kids can reach it. In the same way, if a human being is so protective of its creation then, how one could think that Allah, The Creator of the Mankind and the World will ever leave His creation without help?

Hoping from Allah is the key to success. Having hope in Allah and staying connected with Him through, prayer and remembrance can keep you grounded.  Then, moving forward with your ambition in the effort to push down the hopeless, using any help and resources that are available, will hopefully bring you closer to a solution. Allah says in the Quran:

فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ

And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah.  Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Sura Aal-Imran 3:159)

Depression is on the rise amongst the adults and youth. Depression is not something which is incurable, especially if one can realise and work on it at an early stage. There are many ways that one could try out to overcome depression especially by breaking down on why and how they are feeling.

Channelling these feelings to positive actions and places is a great way to start. Constantly relying on the Creator, and spending time in circles of remembrance, can help overcome feelings of loneliness.  Learning the stories of the Prophets of Allah will give one hope in leading a successful life. Other way would also be by studying the seerah of beloved prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, and sending peace upon him, an act recommended by scholars to remove depression related to feelings like sadness and emptiness.

Finally,  since loss is one of the components of depression, I hope to express the reality of it through this short poem. I hope the outcome from this poem brings clarity to people, and helps many in finding their way out of depression.

I Was Lost Within Me

I asked you

I worshipped in your name,

But, still found out myself to be lost,

 

And so, I stopped everything that connects me to you,

I prevented all the connections I had with your name,

Although in deep down I knew i’m getting more lost,

The next day, I woke up missing you,

but , I was determined not to utter your name

As I want to put a stop for the feeling of loss,

I drank coffee in a cup that was written I love you

Which was gifted by my mom with on it my name

I always use this mug as I feared for finding them lost.

While sipping, I ignored once again my mom’s I love you,

Just because I found them uncool and very lame

And with my clinging siblings, to love them is a force

With all these problems I ran out to show I’m unhappy with you

Then, I heard my mom calling out Abdullah my name

Then I realise that You have never despair me to lost

I ran away from my mom’s love that was given by you

I pushed away my siblings whenever they came

I dug a hole and hide myself before claiming I’m lost

But I was always blessed by you.

Knowing this I uttered again with full of love your name

Allah thank you for being with me who were lost

I got my identity through you

I’m Abdullah a slave to you and your name

You are the Creator who never leaves one to lost

I was created by you

I will be  guided by your name

Now, I have no fear handling loss. 

 


Sharifah Bebe Hasan is from Singapore, and has obtained her Alimiyyah certificate in Hadith in addition to graduating in Shariah from University of Indonesia. Currently, she’s enhancing her research and writing skills through SeekersGuidance.


25 Years’ Worth of Marriage Advice: Hina Khan-Mukhtar

In celebration of her jubilee anniversary, Hina Khan-Mukhtar shares some marriage advice gathered over the years.marriage advice

Have you ever set foot inside a couple’s home and immediately felt a sense of sakinah, or peace, wash over you? Whether it was a modestly-furnished apartment in a neighborhood where people struggle to make ends meet or a magnificent mansion in the most coveted district, these spaces radiated warmth and love and tranquility. What was their secret? How did the husband and wife together achieve this calm and quietude in a world that is too often overwhelmed with cacophony and chaos?

Over the past quarter of a century, many of my elders, teachers, relatives, friends, and community members have shared a whole range of marital advice with me. Being fortunate enough to have witnessed tawfiq, or Divine success, in a number of harmonious unions — in which many of the tips outlined here were implemented — I feel it is advantageous for us to learn from the success stories in our circles. Therefore, I am sharing the most helpful gems of wisdom in the hopes that you will find suggestions that are of benefit to you. I am not a perfect wife nor would I say I have a perfect marriage, but I do know that these suggestions have worked for me whenever I have been able to act on any of them, alhamdulillah.

Please keep in mind that this advice is for those women who are in substantially healthy marriages. The assumption is that their husbands are God-fearing, are not emotionally or physically abusive, know how to give their wives their rights, and do not have any debilitating addictions, vices, personality disorders, or mental health struggles. Although most of the following counsels are primarily for the wife in the marriage, some do apply to both partners — however, you will have to go to a male writer if you want advice solely for the husband.

Therefore, dear sisters, while reading, please resist protesting, “But what about him?” This isn’t about him — this is about you and me.

Make Allah Your #1 Love

A scholar once encouraged us to look at our order of priorities in life as a pyramid with Allah, great and glorified is He, at the top. It is from the understanding of having a hierarchy — of Allah first; then husband; then children and parents and teachers; then closest friends and extended family; then greater community — that the barakah, or blessing, comes into the home and flows out to every family member. Many people mix up the order and then don’t understand why there isn’t peace in the home and why the children are rebellious. Look at your circles of concern, and then make sure that an awareness of Allah, great and glorified is He, is at the top of the pyramid which then runs as a core through all of the other layers.

Pray together and pray for one another. Supplicate every step of the way. Rely on salaat-ul-istikhara, or the prayer of guidance, for all major family decisions. Pray for your union to bring healthy and righteous children into the world who will grow up to be beloved to Allah, great and glorified is He. One scholar lightheartedly but sincerely advised us to “pray that your partner is someone who drags you to Jannah (Paradise).”

Make your marriage a means of drawing closer to Allah, of pleasing Him. Look at it as an act of worship. Have big intentions. Don’t keep score of how much you’re doing for your husband versus how much he’s doing for you; instead, make your intention solely for Allah, great and glorified is He. Seek His approval and pleasure — and His alone.

Work on Increasing Your Love and Affection

Follow the example of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace; there was a reason he encouraged spouses to hold hands and to feed one another from the same plate. Just like any other blessing, marriage can eventually start to feel “old” and “stale” and “taken-for-granted,” but these types of intimate gestures help to re-invigorate the marriage.

Take note of the five “languages of love” — providing service; giving time; giving verbal praise/affirmation; giving physical affection; giving gifts — and see which one your spouse utilizes on you the most. If you have a different language of love, he may not notice it unless you reciprocate from time to time with the same language that he is using. Learn his love language and then use it in order to be “heard.”

Flirt.

But please don’t be overly demonstrative in public. That just makes everyone else extremely uncomfortable. As a couple, preserve your dignity and self-respect.

Establish a routine or a tradition that no one else is allowed to get in the way of — not work, not parents, not children. For some couples, it will be Sunday morning brunch together; for others, it will be after-dinner tea; yet others may choose to go for an evening walk or to read aloud to one another in bed. There are many who have established a designated “Date Night” in their weekly schedule. Have something special just for you two and then jealously guard it; it should be something that you both will miss if it ever got taken away.

Hold onto your passions and interests. You may not be into each other’s “pet projects,” but be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Ask sincere questions about whatever hobby the other is into.

Khidma, or service, wins hearts. Filling his gas tank that you realize is almost on empty, helping him complete the dreaded tax forms, sewing on his button that you noticed came loose are all signs that you care about him and are looking out for him. For some spouses, actions speak much louder than words. There should be a difference between you being present in his life and you being absent.

Go to bed at the same time.

Among the most important duties of husbands and wives in the Islamic context is the fulfillment of one another’s sexual needs. This is not something to take lightly. Spouses who insist on rejecting their partner’s advances cannot be surprised to witness their relationship disintegrate. There are situations when a husband is forbidden to approach his wife for intercourse (i.e. during her menstrual cycle, during her postpartum bleeding, and during fasts in Ramadan), but outside of these cases, it is imperative for both spouses to do their utmost to make sure they are partners in every way — not least of which, physically.

Always pray that Allah, great and glorified is He, maintains the love in your heart for your spouse and that He preserves the love in your partner’s heart for you. Allah is the One Who puts love in our hearts for one another, and He is the One Who can take that same love out in any split second. If you stop to think about it, it is a sheer wonder that out of the billions of people in the world, there is one person who has that special love in his heart for you — that is nothing short of a miracle in and of itself. Thank Him for that blessing.

Your Grandmothers Were Right — All Men Want Respect

The wife might be the one to instigate most major changes in life; she might be the one who brings home the thicker paycheck; however, the husband should be given the respect of having the clear role of being the Emir, or leader, of the family. He should be honored by the wife and the children as the guardian of the household, and he in turn should recognize that Allah is the Guardian of his and his wife’s household. Of course, acknowledging your husband as the Emir doesn’t mean that you aren’t very vocal in sharing your own opinions. As one grandmother joked, “The husband is the head of the family, but the wife is the neck that turns the head!”

Don’t contradict or correct him in public. Give him the dignity he deserves. (As my own husband had to once firmly remind me, “I’m not the one being homeschooled.” Eek! Duly noted.)

Don’t ever demean your husband to your children. If you don’t honor their father, they won’t either. And, remember, it’s still gheeba, or backbiting, to talk about your spouse in a way that he wouldn’t like, even if it’s only with the people who will always love him. Don’t let your guard down when it comes to his rights.

If he ever buys you a gift that you don’t love, love it anyway. See the heart of the gift-giver behind the gift. There are always gentle and cheerful ways of honestly communicating your preferences at a later time.

Regardless of whether you had a social media presence before marriage or not, once you’re his wife, be aware of his views on how much you post about yourself and your life with him. Respect his limits.

Put your cell phone, your book, and — yes — even your prayer beads away when he’s trying to talk to you about his day. Give him your undivided attention, and teach your children (who are old enough to understand) that they are not to interrupt their parents’ time together.

A sense of humor — that isn’t cruel or mocking — is one of the most attractive qualities in a man. I still shake my head and chuckle at hubby’s corny joke that he’s been lovingly teasing me with for the past 25 years: “On August 14, Pakistan gained its independence…and I lost mine!”

Laugh with him but never at him.

Make Your Home a Haven, Make Yourself His Houri

I realize that many women today are uncomfortable with the word “houri,” but houris are real creations of Allah, great and glorified is He, who are described in The Holy Qur’an as “companions in Paradise.” I believe it’s time that we reclaim this word and own it for what it is. There is no reason why our homes can’t be little pieces of Paradise, insha’Allah, and no reason why we can’t be heavenly companions for our husbands within our own homes!

When you see your beloved for the first time after he returns home, make sure to greet him and kiss him and hug him. Practicing Muslim men who have taqwa, or God-consciousness, will avoid all physical contact with women who are not their blood relatives, and many of them are surrounded at work by women who make an effort to look attractive. You are the reward your husband gets at the end of a long, dry day. Be soft and affectionate and fragrant.

When you know life has been stressful and busy, wait until he’s he’s had a chance to relax before asking him to do anything or before breaking any bad news to him.

Everything about you — from your clothes, to your hair, to your skin, to your breath — should smell clean and fresh…for yourself, yes, but especially so for your husband!

Be kind and welcoming to one another’s friends. (But don’t ever be in solitude with the opposite gender — and that includes not being alone with another man on social media either.)

Cook together. And even if you don’t consider yourself to be a talented cook, at least make a sincere effort to learn how to make some of his favorite dishes.

Take care of yourself physically — exercise, eat well, and have a self-care regimen. So many of us make such an effort for strangers, but it is our spouses who deserve our best selves. Think of marriage as one long dating experience where both partners are still intent on presenting their best selves — becoming their best selves — for each other. I still have childhood memories of my mom brushing her hair and putting on lipstick and perfume before my dad came home from work.

Make your home an oasis of calm in this stormy world, a place of refuge to which he can escape — a world that smells nice, is clean and organized, has a well-stocked fridge, and where the members of the household speak in respectful and loving tones with one another.

Conflict is Inevitable — Learn How to Manage It in a Healthy Manner

The first two years of marriage often end up being the most exciting as well as being the most challenging. Even if you were to go on a fun all-girls’ adventure trip, you would find yourself getting rubbed the wrong way by your closest friends at some point or another. In the first couple of years of marriage, you’re learning how to live with another nafs, or ego, while he’s having to do the same. But what it comes down to is that marriage isn’t so much about struggling with another’s nafs as it is about struggling with your own. Expect to be challenged. Intend to grow.

It’s perfectly okay to have different personalities and different interests. After all, variety is the spice of life! What you want to make sure, however, is that you both have the same goals for your marriage and for your future family and that you’re both on the same page about how to achieve those goals, insha’Allah.

One cousin of mine caused quite a bit of consternation amongst our elders. “I don’t believe in the word ‘compromise’ when it comes to marriage,” he proclaimed. “What are you saying?! Marriage is compromise!” my mother scolded him. But then he explained: “If you think of everything as a ‘compromise,’ you will keep score and you will eventually become bitter. Once you decide to do something, try to embrace it fully and believe in it. Don’t think of it as a ‘compromise’ any more.”

Self-reflect, and don’t be too proud to apologize. The relief on his face and the peace in the home that comes after suffering the sting of stepping on your own ego in order to say “I’m sorry; I was wrong” is so so so worth it.

It is a given that all of us will get angry at some point or another, but it is when tempers are flared that people’s true natures are revealed. Be mindful of whom you always want to be. Try — even if it’s a struggle — to maintain your adab, or manners/etiquettes, when you’re upset. Being angry is never an excuse to break or throw things, scream, curse, use foul language, slam doors, pull hair, scratch, spit, raise an arm, or throw punches. Don’t casually toss around the D-word (divorce!) every time you feel overwhelmed. In regards to our interpersonal conduct when we feel frustrated, it is important to always remember: Allah, great and glorified is He, is watching.

When your spouse is angry or visibly agitated, stay quiet in the heat of the moment. You can always make your point at a later time.

When addressing your disagreements, avoid using absolutes like “always” and “never.” It’s not fair to forget the positives in your husband by saying: “You always do this bad thing” or “You never do that good thing.” It is rare that issues are black and white; most of the time, there will always be shades of gray. We shouldn’t be so quick to condemn one another.

Don’t expect him to be a mind-reader. If something is bothering you, discuss it with him. Set yourself up for success by beginning your conversation with an “I” statement instead of a “You” statement. For example, avoid saying, “You left your clothes all over the bedroom again! That was so thoughtless of you!” Instead, try saying, “I feel frustrated when I find clothes all over the bedroom at the end of a long day.” Try to avoid getting personal, and don’t assume that he knows exactly how his actions are affecting you. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t go to sleep angry (stay up and fight instead — just kidding!). Contrary to the age-old advice to resolve all conflicts before going to bed, sometimes it actually helps to sleep on a problem. But first you have to calm yourself down by reminding yourself to have tawakkul, or trust, in Allah. Once you’ve had a full night’s rest, you can tackle your problems with a fresh attitude the next day. Make sure to avoid sleeping in separate beds; you’ll be surprised how many problems can eventually get solved just by snuggling together under the covers. It is Shaytan who wants to separate you two.

Avoid arguing in front of your children, but if they ever do witness a loud disagreement between you and your spouse, make sure to make up in front of them as well. Show them that marital conflict is not the end of the world and that there are healthy ways to resolve issues. Let them witness you apologizing and hugging it out.

Holding grudges breeds toxicity and dysfunction. Once issues are resolved, don’t keep bringing up past mistakes. Learn to forgive. And then forgive every day.

Have a sense of humor about each other’s annoying flaws and foibles. Case in point: I am frequently misplacing my eyeglasses and losing my wallet. It is such a bad habit of mine that even I have gotten to the point that I have difficulty forgiving myself. Alhamdulillah for a patient husband who manages to laugh it off, no matter how many times he ends up being inconvenienced (which is unfortunately a little too often). As long as they’re not extremely serious issues, try to act like you don’t even see each other’s faults.

Go with the flow.

Four other words: JUST LET IT GO.

Be a Uniter and Not a Divider

When you get to know your in-laws, you will see that not every family does everything the way your family does. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Take the good you see in your new family and adopt it. Ignore the “bad.” Do resolve with your husband, however, not to allow either of your families’ poor habits and poor choices to continue in the next generation that you two are raising together.

Don’t complain about or criticize your spouse to your own family. You’ll eventually get over whatever issue was bothering you, but it will be difficult for them to forgive and forget so easily. You want them to respect your husband. Be a veil for him. (Physical abuse, however, is a non-negotiable deal-breaker — God forbid, if that line is ever crossed, sound the alarm and get help immediately!)

If you want him to respect your family, you will have to show respect for them first. He will follow your lead. If he sees that your family is always causing you to feel annoyed, he will eventually start to resent them for bringing stress into his own household. Protect and nurture that special yet fragile relationship between him and his in-laws.

Even if it doesn’t seem to be a priority for him, take the time to buy his parents and siblings thoughtful presents — just because. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Give gifts to each other and you will love one another.” So go ahead and “buy” their love — it’s sunnah after all!

If your husband is ever upset with his own parents or siblings or extended family, don’t jump in and encourage him in his negative opinions. Defend them and make excuses for them and encourage him to see the good in them. Be their advocate. If you have nothing nice to say, stay silent. He may not admit it then, but he will be grateful for your attitude and thank you — even if only in his heart — later. The truth is: no one wants to hear anyone else bad-mouthing his family. Remember when we talked about service being one of the “five languages of love?” Well, here is an opportunity for one of the highest forms of service. Be someone who helps mend hearts and helps bring relations together; don’t be a cause for discord in the family.

Don’t Try to Keep Up with the Junaids

Avoid debt like the plague. A large, fancy, expensive house may do nothing toward making you happy. However, a small, clean, cozy, simple, peaceful home in a safe neighborhood filled with people who are hopefully trying to please Allah can very well feel like a palace in Heaven, insha’Allah.

Responsibly managing the family budget will avoid a lot of stress in your marriage. Paying riba, or usury, brings about all kinds of problems in one’s life and destroys the barakah, or blessing, in the home. Don’t ever pay interest, even if it means you never get to own your own home or car in this life. Keep your “akhirah (hereafter) glasses” on.

Make do with what you have, and only complain to Allah for your wants and needs. Make your husband feel like a hero. Having said that, don’t hesitate to schedule time to have honest conversations with your husband about anything that needs to be improved — the key is not to become an irritating nag who is constantly whining and complaining and issuing orders. Talk to your spouse when he is in the headspace to listen.

Be grateful. Be grateful. Be grateful. Allah, great and glorified is He, says in The Holy Qur’an: “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you.” And Allah always keeps His promises.

Remember: you will never have it all (not in this life at least).

Don’t compare your life to others’.

At the same time, you might not want to brag to the world about how happy you are. ’Ayn (the evil eye) and hasad (malicious jealousy) are two realities that Allah in His Wisdom has allowed to exist in the world. Protect your marriage from them. Besides, who would ever want to be the cause of any pain or sadness for those who are struggling with their own love lives?

There will be “little things” that will irritate you about him, and sometimes those causes for irritation might start to feel like “big things” (even when they are not). At those times, remind yourself that perfection is only for Allah, try to think about what life would be like without him, and be grateful for a spouse who is choosing to somehow still accept you despite your shortcomings. (And if someone else’s husband seems perfect to you, remember that everyone has flaws, and good wives hide their husbands’ shortcomings, so you are probably not getting the full picture — nor should you expect to.)

Instead of chasing “happiness,” try aiming for “contentment” instead.

Don’t take one another for granted. Your spouse is a duniyawi, or worldly, blessing that can be taken away at any moment. And, believe it or not, somewhere out there is someone who would be more than happy to trade places with you. Appreciate what Allah has given you.

Have a Mentor in Marriage

Avoid getting marital advice from people whom you know are having their own relationship problems. Similarly, stay away from getting advice from newbies who are still learning the ropes themselves. Look to someone who has a long-term, successful marriage of his or her own to find out how to make it work. Try to find one wise, discreet person to consult; don’t tell everyone your “problems.”

If someone you respect says you need therapy, you probably do. Don’t be ashamed to do whatever it takes to save your marriage. Give it your all.

If you do pay for marital therapy, only seek out trained professionals who understand and respect the parameters and priorities of your religion. You’ll be surprised at how often well-meaning (but spiritually clueless) therapists will prescribe the haram, or Divinely prohibited, as medicine for a troubled marriage.

Set Yourself Up to Soar Spiritually


He may be your best friend, or maybe he’s not. Either way, don’t neglect your girlfriends. Take time to nurture those bonds that help you be a better person. There will come a day when you will need the support of your sisters. Don’t let falling in love make you fall out of friendship with your “tribe.” Consider connection with your soul sisters as part of your self-care, but remember that your husband and his needs always take precedence. If, after being married, people routinely mistake you for being “single,” you’re definitely doing something wrong.

Attend religious classes together, either in person or online. The point is to keep growing together spiritually. You may not grow at the same pace (and that’s okay — you’re two separate souls after all!), but at least you’ll respect the same teachers and will understand each other’s motivations and end goals.

Instead of listening to those who advise “Don’t let marriage change you,” amend their words to “Marriage should only change you for the better.”

Take an occasional break and travel — even if you can only afford to do so locally.

But make Allah, great and glorified is He, be your ultimate destination.


Hina Khan-Mukhtar is a mother of three young men and one of the founders of the homeschooling co-operative known as ILM Tree in the San Francisco Bay Area which now serves over 35 homeschooling families. In addition to having taught Language Arts to elementary, middle school, and high school students, she is also involved in interfaith dialogue. Hina was a monthly contributor to The Muslim Observer’s “Raising Our Ummah” column and also writes for Seeker’s Guidance where she shares parenting advice and ideas for nurturing spiritual traditions in childhood.


Creating a Blessed Home : A Reader

Thiblessed homes reader covers various topics relating to creating and nurturing a happy and blessed home.

A Blessed Home

The Adab of Homes – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Prophetic Supplication For Moving to a New House

Look At Everything as a Blessing from Allah and Nurture Gratitude

How Not to Let Stress Get Your Down

Is Seeking Counselling A Sign of Weakness? by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

How Should I Uphold My Family Ties?

What Are the Rewards of Cleaning One’s Home?

On Family – Pause for Thought with Journalist Abdul-Rehman Malik

Guiding One’s Family Towards the Good

A Blessed Marriage

Love, Marriage, and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions

What Makes A Marriage Work – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

What Can Help Endure a Difficult Marriage Due to Financial Issues?

How Do I Deal With an Unhappy Marriage?

A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws

Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages

Blessed Parenting

The Powerful Dua of a Parent 

How To Make the Prophet Muhammad Real for Small Children

Our Children: Nurturing the Prophet’s ﷺ Spiritual Intelligence

A Ragged Shirt and Toast Crust: Raising Successful Children 

Keeping Family Ties Through Intergenerational Trauma – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Keep Calm and Mother On–Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil 

An Exhausted Mother’s Eid Reflections

 

 

 

 

Ghazali’s Science of the Soul – Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf

This is the third part of a talk by Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf on approaches to depression and anxiety in Classical Islam. Here he talks about Imam Ghazali and his science of the soul.

Imam Ghazali [in contrast to Abu Zayd al Balkhi] is not a physician. He is a philosopher. He is a theologian. He is a jurist. And in each of those things at the first rank. He wrote the greatest works in all of these fields for 200 years on either side of him. But above all else he was a spiritual master.

The sum total of his of his life’s work is contained in the Ihya Ulum al Din, The Revival of the Knowledge of the Religion, of which it has been said, numerous times by scholars in his time and after, that were all the works of Islam to be lost, including the Qur’an and the books of hadith, and only this work remain, by itself it would be sufficient to renew the religion. It would bring back the religion from the brink.

The Biochemistry of Happiness

Why is that? Because the subject of that work is the human soul. And it is about the human soul attaining a state of felicity. This is most well and most precisely explained in the Persian equivalent. The Ihya is in Arabic. The Persian equivalent, written in a quite different way, is called the Kimiya al Sa‘ada.

Now given that this is a work about the human being and it’s called Kimiya al Sa‘ada, I think a perfectly fair translation for this is The Biochemistry of Happiness. Kimiya is chemistry. Sa‘ada is happiness. And it means ultimate happiness. Abu Zayd al Balkhi mentioned this. He said if the root cause of all mental distress is anxiety, the root cause of all mental health is happiness. That is to say, happiness is not merely the result of good mental health. It is also the cause of good mental health.

Ghazali focused on this point, taking from the philosophical traditions of Islam as well as from the more theological approaches to Islam. Ghazali, especially in the Persian equivalent of his work, focuses on something that always has been, from Greek times, a central theme in philosophy. Now when you ask today, what is the central theme of philosophy? People don’t really know because it’s kind of all gone a bit weird.

Happiness and Care for the Self

If you ask people in the 1700s, the 1800s, during the Enlightenment, what is the central theme of classical psychology? [sic] They would say, Know thyself. But one of the central themes, when you go back to Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and so forth, one of the central themes of the philosophers of those times was actually not simply know thyself, but take care of thyself; look after thyself.

There was a focus on care of the self. One of the things Ghazali borrowed from that tradition, but which he also found in the tradition of classical Islamic thinking, of which he was of course the foremost representative, is that happiness is something that is to be sought, not only in the Hereafter but in this life as well.

Happiness is not, however, in external things. Happiness is in your internal reaction to those things. As an example of this a student of mine came to me after one of my religious classes and said, I want to talk to you. I want to ask you a question. I said, Yes, what’s the question? I’ve got 15 minutes before the next class starts. She said, I want to ask you about locus of control. I said, Okay. In 15 minutes? She said, Yes.

The Locus of Control

What’s a locus of control? A locus of control is: Where’s your happiness button? That’s what locus of control means. If my happiness button is there. [Places phone in front of him and points.] Then that means my sadness button or my anger button is there. You can come along and go [presses button], and I’ll get sad or anxious or angry or whatever it happens to be.

If my button is here [puts phone close to himself] I can protect it. You can’t come along and press it. This is an internal locus of control. [Phone is close.] That’s an external locus of control. [Phone is further away.] People don’t come and press your buttons unless they’re not very nice. They don’t generally come and press your buttons. What presses your buttons? Circumstances, situations, press your buttons.

I’m driving down here knowing that Sophie and Mark are going to be wondering, Where is this guy? Is he going to do his usual thing and come late? And I hit traffic and I think, Oh my God. What has happened? Now this is a circumstance that is tailor-made to provoke anxiety in me. I know that I am going to have to look at Samina and she’s going to say, How do I get out of this traffic? It’s a circumstance, it’s a situation, that presses the button.

God Is The Root Cause

Why does it press the button? I said to my student: Look. You see this? [Raises phone.] Is this the button or is this the situation? She says, I don’t know. I said, It’s both. The problem with the external locus of control is you don’t realize that this is actually two separate things. There is the event. [Phone cover.] And there’s the reaction to it. [Phone.] These are separate from each other. You can’t control this. [The event.] But you can control this. [The reaction.] Simply put, you can’t stop it raining, but you can carry an umbrella.

Alright. What’s the problem that people who have an external locus of control have? It is that when it’s raining they go outside and they say, Stop raining! Stop! And it doesn’t stop raining. Eventually you get so tired of shouting at the clouds to stop raining that you give up and you say I can’t stop it raining. It’s trying to have control over something you can’t have control over. Why? Because you’ve linked these two things [the event and the reaction] together. They are one and the same.

She said, I did an online survey and I have an external locus of control. How do I deal with it? I said, Separate the emotional reaction from the event. Now what do you do? I said now you need to recognize that this event is not caused by the outside world. It’s caused by God. this is caused by God. It’s not caused by your nosy neighbor. It’s not caused by your troublesome mother-in-law. It’s not caused by the weather or the traffic or anything like that.

It is caused by God. A benevolent God, mind you. A benevolent and all-powerful God. So if you recognize that everything that happens to you in your life comes to you from God, and that God will send you sweetness and bitterness, both of which are there to teach you something about yourself, you can keep this button to yourself.

Surrendering the Locus to God

You can keep that button to yourself and you can control how you press it. What you’ll then find is that there is nothing on the table. The table is the world. There is nothing on this table. There is God and there is you. There’s God and you and everything else is simply an instrument. Once you understand that you have a completely external locus of control because now you actually say, Do you know what God? I’m gonna leave the button to You as well.

That is the beginnings of a religious approach to dealing with the questions that bring about distress, anxiety, and so forth. It is the beginning of an indigenous psychotherapy. A psychotherapy that is founded on the fundamental beliefs that you have. This is something that can be de-theologized. It is something that doesn’t need to necessarily be about your relation to a person or God.

It is a way of looking at how things happen and what things mean when they happen, and what you can learn from it. [It is] the difference between approaching something as a lesson by which you can learn more about yourself, and the alternative, which is that you are a leaf being blown on a wind, being taken wherever the wind leads you.

States, Traits, and Character

Abu Zayd Balkhi distinguishes between fixed human traits and emotional states which come and go. Recognizing at the same time that if you have a particular temperament and a particular state, it can sometimes become chronic, it can become part of your personality. However, he focuses primarily on states.

What Imam Ghazali focuses on is the development of internal character traits. God talks about the soul that will eventually return to Him and He describes that soul as the tranquil soul. (Sura al Fajr 83:27-28) The soul that is at peace with itself, as opposed to a struggling soul, which God describes as self-accusing. (Sura al Qiyama 75:2)

There’s an enormous difference between the emotional states of someone who has internalized external trauma, grief, sadness, and has started to accuse themselves, or to become their own abuser, and a person who has, by whatever means, broken free of that and is left in a state of tranquility.

The Ihya is a 6,000 page book, but that’s what it’s about. It’s about attaining tranquility. I’ll leave it at that. I hope what I’ve done here is give you a little bit of insight into two very different ways of approaching the question of mental distress that are nonetheless things that we would recognize as being valuable and beneficial today.

Photo by Charl van Rooy on Unsplash


This talk by Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf was given at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Cardiff University, entitled “Approaches to Depression and Anxiety in Classical Islam.” This is not a transcript but an edited post based on the third part of the talk. The first and second parts can be read below.