The Theology of Islamic Art

In late 2017, Zaytuna College, America’s only Muslim liberal arts college, invited three artists: Eleanor Aisha Holland, Abdulatif Whiteman, and Oludamini Ogunnaike, to spark a thought-provoking discussion. The topic was one rarely discussed before in Islamic religious circles: the connection between Islamic art and its theological tradition.

Modernity Against Tradition

Modern Islamic culture has fallen into the cut-and-paste mould that runs on the heels of modernity’s fast-paced culture. Our mind’s eye, when reminded of Islamic art, conjures forth a mishmash of bright colours, geometric designs, flower patterns and arches and domes. Islamic art becomes a fast solution, something we can strap on “for the culture,” rather than a process which builds on personality and experience. As such, everything from mosque walls to Islamic apps are caked with these images which, although aesthetically pleasing to a certain degree, fail to do justice to the creative process that backs authentic Islamic artistic tradition.

How to Define Islamic Art

A large part of Islamic art does, of course, come from the Islamic identities of the artists themselves. However, what defines Islamic art is the form and structure which emerges from the Quranic revelation.

For example, there are many strong poetic traditions that come out of places such as Mali, Java, and Malaysia. Although they share the common thread of Islamic religion, their cultures are vastly different. The poetry from those societies reflected the poetry of their own cultures, but also included meter and rhyme, as well as imagery which reflected from the influence of the Quran. The same pattern can be seen in the vocal traditions.

Saints Who Are Artists

What distinguishes Islamic art is not how it looks or sounds. Rather, what makes Islamic art special is that it comes naturally, out of an experience felt by the artist. For example, poems like Rumi’s Masnavi or Iman al-Busiri’s Al-Burda, were not penned by poets doing their work. Rather, these poets had deep experiences with Allah and His Messenger, which led their poetry to natural flow in a way that was graceful rather than forced. They were not simply artists cultivating a craft, they were saints who happened to be artists.


Resources for Seekers

Forgotten Sunnas: Healthy Relationships Through Visiting the Sick

The Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “Every Muslim has five rights over another Muslim: to return the greetings, to visit the sick, to accompany funeral processions, to accept an invitation, to respond to the one who sneezes.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim]

When in good health, we visit each other and hang out. If we have a need to do so, we make time to meet up and speak to one another; through such interactions we form friendships and bonds. If this is the case when we are well, moreover it should be that these ties are strengthened while visiting someone when they are sick, when there is no need or tangible benefit other than pure love, concern, and care.

The sunna of visiting the sick applies to not only people we know, but also people we don’t know, as there is always room for forming new friendships.

When we share the suffering of others, even if the suffering be mild, and we take the time out to offer comfort and support in times of weakness and sickness, whether physical or emotional, we can truly begin to grasp some of the meanings behind the words of the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) when he said:

The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, and camaraderie is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. [Muslim]

And,

Indeed, Allah would say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade when there is no other shade but Mine.’ [Muslim]

The recommendation to visit the sick not only apply to believers, but extends towards non-Muslims. The Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) would visit non-Muslims when they were sick, such as the hadith of the young Jewish boy as narrated by Imam al-Bukhari.

Moreover, in visiting the sick, there is something in it for the one visiting: reminders and rewards.

Rewards for Visiting the Sick

There are many ahadith concerning the merits of visiting the sick. Among them, the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) is recorded to have said:

When the Muslim visits his [sick] Muslim brother, he is harvesting the fruits of Paradise until he returns. [Muslim]

Whoever visits a sick person or visits a brother in Islam, a caller cries out to him, ‘May you be happy, may your walking be blessed, and may you occupy a dignified position in Paradise.’ [al-Tirmidhi]

There is no Muslim who visits a [sick] Muslim early in the morning but that seventy-thousand angels send blessings upon him until evening comes, and if he visits him in the evening, seventy thousand angels send blessings upon him until morning comes, and he will have a garden in Paradise. [al Tirmidhi]

Etiquettes of Visiting the Sick

Make an intention: We are told that “Acts are according to their intentions” by the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) [Muslim]. Therefore, one should make noble intentions such as:

  1. Fulfilling the right of a fellow Muslim
  2. To follow the sunna of the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him)
  3. To pray for their recovery and health
  4. To recite the sunna supplications when visiting
  5. To bring joy and happiness to the visited
  6. To help fulfil the needs of another person
  7. In case of a non-Muslim, to guide them to Islam by showing mercy and excellent manners
  8. To remind oneself of the blessings of good health

Timing: It is important to consider what time one visits the sick. Very early morning, very late in the evening, or common nap and meal times should be avoided. One should enquire first what a good time to visit for both the sick person and their family.

Keep visits short: Visits should generally be kept short, so as not to overburden the sick person. It maybe that they are tired or have a need that they are too embarrassed to do with visitors around. Talking may also be undesirable to them. However, if the patient clearly wants one to stay, then there is no harm in staying. There is no need to visit more than once, and one should avoid repeated visits unless the patient requests so or it is known that they will be happy if one does so.

Take a simple gift that will cheer the ill person: Receiving gifts is always nice, but particularly so when a person is feeling low-spirited. Simple, heartfelt gifts that the person will like are always the best, and could be anything from fruits, juice, broth, chocolates, flowers etc. However, a gift is not necessary, and one should not be put off visiting a sick person without a gift. The best gift is to make du’a for the person.

Du’a: There are various supplications that can be made for the sick person:

  1. Imam al-Bukhari narrated that whenever the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) would visit a sick person, he would say, “No harm will befall you. It is purification, if Allah wills.” (la ba’sa tahurun insha’llah)
  2. Imam al-Tirmidhi narrated that he (peaceful prayers and blessing be upon him) said, “O Allah, make the harm go away, Lord of mankind, and heal him, You are the Healer, there is no healing except your healing, a healing that does not leave any sickness.” (Allahumma adh-hibi‘l-ba’sa rabb an-nasi wash-fi fa-ant ash-shafi la shifa-a illa shifa-uka shifa-un la yugha-diru saqqama)
  3. Imam al-Tirmidhi also narrated that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “He who visits a sick person who is not at the point of death and supplicates seven times, ‘I beseech Allah the Great, the Lord of the Great Throne, to heal you (as-alu’llah al-azeemu rabbu’l-’arsh al-azeema in yashfika)’, Allah will certainly heal him from that sickness.”

Ask for du’a: One should also ask the ill person to make du’a for them, as the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “If you enter upon a sick person, then ask him to supplicate for you, for his supplication is like the supplications of the angels.” [Ibn Maja]

Fulfill a need for the sick person: One should ask the person whether there is anything they desire or need. It is said that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) visited an ill person and asked, “Do you long for anything? Do you long for sweet bread (ka’k)?” The man replied, “Yes.” So they sent someone to bring some Ka’k for him. [Ibn Maja]

Make conversation: One should make light-hearted and positive conversation. Related by Ibn Maja with a weak chain, the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “When you enter upon one who is sick, cheer him up.” Therefore, the visitor should be upbeat, encourage the patient to have hope, and make easy conversation.

At the same time, one should avoid joking too much or talking loudly. One should also avoid asking too many questions about the illness, or causing any type of anxiety in the person, such as telling them how bad they look, or that the illness can become serious! Similarly, one should not speak about bad news or events. Nor should one enter and draw the person into prohibited speech such as backbiting (ghiba) and tale-bearing during the visit.

Reminder Against Avoiding the Sunna of Visiting the Sick

One hadith should be sufficient as a stern warning against avoiding the visitation of those who are sick and shut-in:

Imam Muslim narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah the Exalted will say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit me.’ He will say, ‘My Lord, how can I visit you when you are the Lord of the worlds?’ Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that my servant was sick and you did not visit him, and had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’”

Build Genuine Relationships by Visiting the Sick

Insha’Allah, the above ahadith of the sunna of the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) encourages us all to do our best to visit the sick when possible, and thereby sharing in the tremendous rewards offered by such simple acts, acts which not only benefit us in the Afterlife, but build and fortify our relationships with those around us.

In a world of frenzied social media networking and online ‘friends’, the only real and meaningful social networking is in real life, with the people around us; those in need of help and support, those who need a kind word or smile to make that difference to their world, or simply widening our circle of good friends and company.

This is the way of our beloved Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him). Despite his many and varied responsibilities in the community and at home, he (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) would always make time to visit people, keep the ties of kinship and bonds of friendship strong, and this was even more so when people were unwell.

So, let us try to follow his way, for Allah Most High has told us, “Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for whoever has hope in Allah and the Last Day,” [Qur’an 33:21].

And Allah knows best.


About “Forgotten Sunan” by Shaykh Jamir Meah

In this series of articles, Shaykh Jamir Meah presents simple, everyday practices of the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that are either often neglected or go unbeknownst by many of us. Like many subtleties in life, these practices carry great reward with the least amount of effort.

Everything that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) did was for our benefit; to teach and guide us to that which is more beneficial in this life and the next. This not only applies to the licit (halal) and illicit (haram), or the ‘big’ questions in life, but he also urged us to seek the blessings and rewards in the ‘small’ aspects of everyday life.

When done sincerely, it is the attention to these detailed Prophetic etiquettes that embellishes our worship, breathes spirit into our day, and keeps us in the remembrance of God and his Messenger (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) as our days and nights pass.

Other articles in this series:

Forgotten Sunnas: The Siwak

by Shaykh Jamir Meah

The “Forgotten Sunnas” Series

Everything that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) did was for our benefit; to teach and guide us to that which is more beneficial in this life and the next. This not only applies to the licit (halal) and illicit (haram), or the ‘big’ questions in life, but he also urged us to seek the blessings and rewards in the ‘small’ aspects of everyday life.

When done sincerely, it is the attention to these detailed Prophetic etiquettes (sunna; pl. sunan) that embellishes our worship, breathes spirit into our day, and keeps us in the remembrance of God and his Messenger (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) as our days and nights pass.

In this series of articles, I intend to present simple, everyday practices of the beloved Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) that are either often neglected or go unbeknownst by many of us. Like many subtleties in life, these practices carry great reward with the least amount of effort.


Introduction

Everything that the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) did was for our benefit; to teach and guide us to that which is more beneficial in this life and the next. This not only applies to the licit (halal) and illicit (haram), or the ‘big’ questions in life, but he also urged us to seek the blessings and rewards in the ‘small’ aspects of everyday life.

When done sincerely, it is the attention to these detailed Prophetic etiquettes (sunna; pl. sunan) that embellishes our worship, breathes spirit into our day, and keeps us in the remembrance of God and his Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as our days and nights pass.

In this series of articles, I intend to present simple, everyday practices of the beloved Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) that are either often neglected or go unbeknownst by many of us. Like many subtleties in life, these practices carry great reward with the least amount of effort.

Among these sunan is the tooth-stick (siwak, miswak), and it is categorized under the general rubric of the qualities of natural human disposition (khisal al-fitra).

The siwak is a sunna from previous generations, as indicated by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when he said, “This is my siwak and the siwak of all the Prophets before me” [al-Tabarani], though it is said that the first person to use the siwak was the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), and then the nations following him.

A brief, electronic search in the major hadith works tallies 86 narrations related to the siwak. Among the most important are these two sound narrations:

“Were I not afraid that it would be hard on my followers, I would order them to use the siwak.” [al-Bukhari]

“I have indeed urged you with regard to the siwak.” [al-Nasa’i]

Times of Use

The siwak is recommended at all times for all people. The exception to this is the fasting person, for whom it is disliked to use the siwak after Dhuhr and up until sunset (i.e. should not be used for the Dhuhr or Asr prayers).

The most emphasized times to use the siwak are:

  1. At the start of wudu: It can be used just before or after the sunna of washing the hands and before the sunna of rinsing the mouth.
  2. Before beginning prayer (obligatory or supererogatory): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said, ‘A prayer with a siwak is better than seventy prayers without a siwak.’ [al-Bayhaqi]

I used to have my daily legal interpretation (fiqh) lessons after Dhuhr in one of the old masajid behind the marketplace in Tarim, Yemen. One day, noticing that I had forgotten my siwak when we got up to pray, my teacher looked at me disappointedly and mumbled, “It’d be better if you paid for a taxi home and fetched your siwak than to begin your prayer without it.” Since then, I’ve done my best to keep a few sticks in various pockets and bags on me all the time!

  1. When reciting Qur’an, dhikr, or learning sacred knowledge: This could also include any job or communal obligation if one makes the right intention.
  2. Meeting people: Cleanliness, hygiene and good appearances are all part of Muslim character. It is recommended to use the siwak on any occasion when one is meeting others.
  3. Entering the house: This applies to entering any house.
  4. When waking up: This is because the mouth odour changes for various reasons during sleep (e.g. bodily sleeping position, clenching one’s teeth, sleeping with the mouth open, snoring, and general matter accumulating between teeth). It is recommended even if there is no change perceived in the mouth, and even after a short nap.
  5. When going to sleep: To reduce the likelihood of oral changes that may take place during sleep.
  6. When any changes occur in the mouth or teeth, such as smell, taste, or color.
  7. At the time of death: The Mother of the Believers, A’isha (may God be pleased with her) said, “‘Abd al-Rahman bin Abu Bakr entered upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) while I was supporting the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on my chest. ‘Abd al-Rahman had a fresh siwak and he was cleaning his teeth with it. God’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) looked at it, so I took the siwak, cut it [chewed it with my teeth], shook it and made it soft [with water], and then gave it to God’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) who then cleaned his teeth with it. I had never seen God’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) cleaning his teeth in a better way. After he finished brushing his teeth, he lifted his hand or his finger and said three times, ‘O God! Let me be with the highest companions,’ and then he passed away.” [al-Bukhari]

When a person is dying, it is sunna to wet the tip of a siwak with water, softening it, as A’isha did for the Prophet ﷺ, and give it to dying person to sucks on, as it relieves some of the terrible thirst they experience. The dying person feels an incredible thirst at the point of death. Our teacher, Habib Mashhur bin Hafiz, a man with considerable experience of attending those last moments when people are on their deathbeds, said, “Were [the dying person] to be given all the water in the world, it would not quench his thirst.”

He further explained that this insatiable thirst is Satan’s last hope to deceive some servants, appearing at the moment of death and offering a vessel of water in exchange for disbelief. If the servant stays firm, the devil despairs and flees, while if the dying person attempts to take the cup, the devil spills the water, then runs away abandoning his victim to his fate. We ask Allah for a good ending (husn al-khatima)!

Another benefit of the siwak at the time of death is that it reminds the dying person of the testimony of faith (shahada), and it eases the exiting of the soul.

Benefits

Imam al-Bajuri mentioned in his work al-Hashiyat that the siwak is beloved to Allah and abhorred by Satan. He also mentions a few of its benefits, such as it increases intelligence and eloquence, strengthens the gums and eyesight, aids digestion, slows [the signs of] ageing, and increases one’s provision. Who wouldn’t want one any of those?

Conditions of the Siwak

In order to be considered a tooth-stick or to function as such, the siwak must be coarse. Even a toothbrush or a coarse cloth suffices for the basic purpose.

The best trees for siwak, according to many scholars, are the mustard tree (al-arak), the palm tree, and the olive tree.

How to Use the Siwak

It is best to take a dry tooth-stick and dip it in water or moisten it by sucking on one end. It is said that the first juices from a siwak have healing properties, so one should swallow it; but not after this, as it is not hygienic.

The minimum sunna is to brush the entire mouth once with the tooth-stick in one sitting, while the optimal sunna is to brush the mouth three times, starting with the right side.

According to the Shafi’i opinion, in order to gain the reward of the Prophetic practice, one must make the intention that they are using the tooth-stick as a sunna by saying “I intend the sunna of using the siwak” or something similar.

Practical Challenge

It’s no use knowing all these benefits without doing something about it. The challenge this month is for all of us to try to get hold a siwak, and use at least for one prayer in the day. If one really has aspiration, then all five prayers a day. The winner will be known in the next life!

On Facing My Mortality, by Ustadh Usama Canon

The family of Ustadh Usama Canon announce this week that he has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tributes from around the world have poured in. Here, he speaks about what it was like to face his own mortality.

Our thanks to Ta’leef Collective for this recording.

The Fall Is An Opportunity To Rise, by Omar Sallam

Fall is slowly becoming Omar Sallam’s favourite season. Growing up in Eastern lands it was a time when weather gave respite from hot summers. In the West, it’s a beautiful time to notice changing colours in nature while exploring pumpkin spice lattes offered at local areas.

As a family member Fall also can come with mixed emotions. Children going back to school or youth going back to University is a time that ranges from moaning to misery or a chance to get in touch with friends after the summer holiday. For parents it can be a bittersweet moment seeing children leaving homes to school for the first time or a time of celebration from a tiring summer of parenting and family fun.

Regardless of where you fall in the spectrum, Fall is a great chance for us to celebrate school, work, and family through clear and far reaching intentions. For this we turn to our noble Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him to take us by the hand.

1. Foundation of full rewards

“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. You are the All Hearing, the All Knowing.” [2:127]

Before the start set your sight on acceptance of your act. Be it school, work, family, worship, or business. As the scholars teach one makes one’s intention sincere, renews it often, and tries to expand it and grow it. Even when can’t do an act due to lack of resources but is sincere, one can get a full reward.

“Verily, the world is only for four kinds of people. There is one whom Allah has granted wealth and knowledge, so he fears his Lord regarding them, upholds family ties, and acknowledges the rights of Allah over him. He will be in the best position. There is one whom Allah has granted knowledge without wealth and he has a sincere intention and he says: If I had wealth, I would have acted like this person. If that is his intention, then he will have the same reward as the other. There is one whom Allah has granted wealth without knowledge and he squanders his wealth in ignorance, he does not fear Allah regarding it, he does not fulfill his obligations to his family, and he does not acknowledge the rights of Allah over him. He will be in the worst position. There is one whom Allah has granted neither wealth nor knowledge and he says: If I had wealth, I would have acted like this person. If that is his intention, then he will have the same sin as the other.” [At-Tirmidhi]

2. Sound submission

“Our Lord, make us devoted to you and make our descendants into a community devoted to You” [2:128]

Have the intention for sound actions with excellence in what you do. If you don’t have necessary knowledge of your act learn the basics. If you know the necessary basics, then do that act with utmost devotion. While this isn’t always easy, it is easy to keep looking back at this supplication and trying over and over again. For example one can just pray alone, or aim to pray with others, or pray in a masjid with high devotion.

“The group prayer is twenty-five degrees higher than the prayer in your house or the prayer in your place of business. Anyone who does wudu’ and goes to the mosque with no other object than to do the prayer, Allah will raise him up a degree with every step he takes, and a wrong action will fall away from him. When he prays, the angels pray for him all the time he is in his place of prayer, ‘O Allah! Forgive him! O Allah! Show mercy to him!’ One of you is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer.” [Agreed upon]

Take an act and establish a minimum you don’t want to fall below, a medium where can normally maintain, and a challenging level for aspiration and start on it.

3. Take a U turn as needed

“Show us how to worship and accept our repentance” [2:128]

None of our actions are without slips and falls intentionally or not. Commit to assessing your intention and action by finding any faults and fixing them right away. “Allah Almighty will stretch out His hand during the night, turning towards the one who did wrong during the day, and stretch out His hand during the day, turning towards the one who did wrong during the night, until the day the sun rises from the place it set.” [Muslim]

That Hadith gives us daily hope at times when we slip, when we break our resolutions, or if we relapse into a bad habit we quit. This Fall we should commit to going back whenever we fall. Going back to what’s right whenever we err is one of the highest stations to attain in this life.

A helpful attitude is to feel the humility that no act is complete except by Allahs guidance to be inclined to the act itself, during the act, and after the act is done. So when stuck or unsure turn back. Because turning back to Allah is our only way ahead!

[cwa id=’cta’]

Finding the Sacred in a Secular Age, by Shaykh Shams Tameez

Living in an era of uncertainty and confusion within a materialistic driven society, we often find ourselves lost, detached and oblivious to the purpose we were actually created for. To worship Allah. Listen to Shaykh Shams Tameez explain how we can navigate our way through this turbulence through practical advice.

We are grateful to the Ha Meem Foundation for this recording.

Shaykh Shams Tameez is a graduate of UK-based seminary Jamia al-Karam and Cambridge Muslim College. After graduating from CMC’s Diploma in Contextual Islamic Studies and Leadership, he worked as an imam at Aylesbury Mosque in Buckinghamshire before embarking on further studies in Istanbul with the Istanbul Foundation for Research & Education, CMC’s partner institution in Turkey, where he studied Turkish and logic. He is currently an Imam of a masjid based in High Wycombe.

[cwa id=’cta’]

 

Parenting in the Age of Social Media, by Ustadha Rania Awaad & Hosai Mojaddidi

In a time where teens and youth are increasingly active on social media, parents and educators must stay informed and vigilant about the inherent and widespread dangers throughout the Internet. Ustadha Rania Awaad & Hosai Mojaddidi joined us for our April Friday Night Family night to explore the dangers and traps online designed to ensnare children. The speakers discussed the spiritual and mental health consequences of Internet negligence and offered practical solutions for increasing Internet safety.

Sister Hosai Mojaddid also provided these tips. This talk was delivered on April 21, 2017, as part of MCC’s monthly Family Night series when we invite insightful and influential American-Muslims who are making a positive impact on our community.

About the Speakers:

Ustadha Rania Awaad, MD, Clinical Director – Khalil Center, Bay Area
Raised in the U.S., Ustadha Rania Awaad began her formal study of the traditional Islamic sciences when her parents permitted her to travel to Damascus, Syria at the age of 14. Her desire to continue studying the Deen resulted in multiple trips back to Damascus, interspersed between her high school, college and medical studies. She was honored to receive Ijaazah (authorization to teach) several branches of the Shari’ah sciences at the hands of many renowned scholars, including many female scholars. She has received Ijaazah to teach Tajwid in both the Hafs and Warsh recitations from the late eminent Syrian scholar, Shaykh Abu Hassan al-Kurdi. In addition to completing several advanced texts of the Shafi’i madhhab, she is licensed to teach texts of Maliki fiqh, Adab and Ihsan. Currently, Ustadha Rania teaches online and local classes for The Rahmah Foundation, Rabata, and is on faculty of Zaytuna College where she teaches courses in Shafi’i fiqh, women’s issues in fiqh, and has helped develop and co-direct the Tajweed and Hifz progam.

Ustadha Rania also a medical doctor with a specialty in Psychiatry. She completed her Psychiatric residency and fellowship training at Stanford University where she is currently on the faculty as a Clinical Instructor in the Stanford Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department. Her medical interests include addressing mental health care concerns in the Muslim community- particularly that of Muslim women and girls. She has been awarded grants from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) to conduct research on this topic and has presented her findings at several medical conferences. Other on-going endeavors include the compilation of manuscripts addressing female-related mental health and medical issues from a fiqh-oriented perspective. She currently serves as the Director of the Rahmah Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching Muslim women and girls traditional Islamic knowledge. In this capacity she also heads the Murbbiyah Mentoring Program which trains young women how to teach and mentor Muslim girls and teens. Ustadha Rania is both a wife and a mother; she has been counseling and teaching women classes on Tajwid, Shafi’i Fiqh, Ihsan, marriage and raising children since 1999.

Hosai Mojaddidi, Writer, Speaker & Co-Founder of mentalhealth4muslims.com
Hosai Mojaddidi is a second generation Afghan-American Muslim woman who is a freelance writer and editor and a lecturer on various Islamic/spiritual topics.

Sister Hosai Mojaddidi is also the co-founder of MH4M (www.mentalhealth4muslims.com), which was established in 2010. She started MH4M with Dr. Nafisa Sekandari because she is passionate about providing a unique and tailored approach to mental health support for the Muslim community which combines sound Islamic teachings with clinical science.

For nearly 20 years, she has also been actively involved in the Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area and southern California working and volunteering for several organizations including Peace Terrace Academy, Islamic Networks Group, Zaytuna Institute, Deen Intensive, Northstar School, (RIS) Reviving the Islamic Spirit, One Legacy Radio, Pillars Academy, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Southern California, Grand Mawlid, Rahmah Foundation, GiveLight Foundation, and Happy Hearts Learning Co-op.

In the various positions she’s held, and as a Qur’an teacher and lecturer over the years, she has been blessed to meet thousands of Muslims from different backgrounds and, in the process, develop many deep and lasting relationships both personally and professionally. She has also been able to gauge the mental health issues of the larger community firsthand by serving as a private mediator, advisor and mentor to many.

Resources for Seekers:

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on The Social Costs of Pornography
Finding God Through The Chains Of Pornography Addiction
“Too Embarrassed to Talk About It”: Pornography Addiction and Some of Its Effects on Muslim Marital Life
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children

An Exhausted Mother’s Eid Reflections, from Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives thanks for the little things in life.

As I began to write this from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my daughter sat beside me, playing with her Lego Duplo train set. Alhamdulilah, she turned two on Eid, and I am constantly reminded of the innumerable blessings and changes she has brought into my life.

On the morning of Eid, we drove to the nearby Kampung Tungku mosque to pray. I smiled at the families walking to the mosque ; young children were carried by their parents, the elderly were supported by their children, and everyone wore festive traditional clothes cut from the same bolt of cloth,

When we approached the mosque, the elderly were given the ground floor to pray, while the rest of us went up the stairs. To save time, I carried my toddler up, and got her settled in before Salatul Eid began. I sat closer to the back, next to another mother with her small children. My daughter was eager to wear her small telukong (prayer garment) after she saw me put mine on, alongside all the other women.

Right after I raised my hands in prayer, my daughter’s telukong slipped off her head. She’s still figuring out how to put it on by herself, so she repeatedly called out to me,  “Mummy, help Taskeen wear telukong.” I worried that ignoring her could lead to a tantrum, so I made dua that the imam would read one of the shorter chapters. I was reminded of this beautiful hadith:

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah, from his father that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “I stand in prayer, then I hear a child crying, so I make my prayer brief, because I do not want to cause hardship for his mother.” [Sunan An-Nasai]

This is the mercy of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) who acknowledges the helplessness of a praying mother while her baby cries.

Last year, when my daughter was one, she cried and cried as I performed the Eid prayer. She was still so little then, so I broke my prayer, out of my own distress and my fear of distracting the rest of the congregation. Alhamdulilah, one year later, there was no crying, and she was able to wait until I finished two cycles of prayer. Progress! This is how I measure how far we have come: how much uninterrupted time I get in the bathroom; how many cycles I can pray before she starts calling for me, how long she can play with her toys on her own – these are the fruits of our hard, loving, real work together, as a family. My part-time jobs as a teacher and writer are my break from my full-time job as a mother.

Sadly, across the world today, we live in a time that does not value women’s work. There is no GDP or dollar sign attached to the countless tears we wipe away, the meals we lovingly prepare, and the endless diapers we change. And yet, these daily, loving acts of nurturing helps to build secure and loving human beings.

I am intimately connected now, to the brutal truth that comes with raising a child. It is relentless, everyday toil that brings both joy and pain. On good days, my toddler warms my heart with her memorable antics. On bad days, I struggle to stay calm in the face of the emotions that overwhelm her.

In the light of my all-consuming stage of motherhood, I look back wistfully to my past Ramadans of long nights of worship and Qur’anic recitation. I cannot help but compare these blessed times to the bare bones Ramadan since my baby was born. I can only pray and hope that Allah will accept the little that I do now, help me do better, and overlook my imperfections.

There has been so much tragedy this past Ramadan. I reflect on the violence perpetrated by ISIS and other extremists, and I wonder what went wrong. What broke inside these young men, to make them such vessels of violence? How can they commit these atrocities, in the name of a religion that cares deeply for the welfare of plants, animals, children, women and men? I can only pray that the light and mercy of Islam reaches their veiled hearts.

If you are an exhausted mother reading this, then trust that Allah knows every ache of your tired heart. Nothing is lost on Him – every tear you shed, every smile you bravely wear for your children, and everything you have sacrificed for them. God willing, your loving presence with your children will plant seeds of Prophetic mercy in their hearts. Your innumerable hours, days and years with them are never, ever wasted.

May these seeds we plant sprout strong, deep roots. May our children be the vanguards and sources of light and peace in a world so fractured by hatred and violence.

Resources for seekers on motherhood and parenting

On the Etiquette of Seclusion: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

The etiquette of seclusion form the 16th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

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Etiquette of Eating: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

The etiquette of eating form the 11th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

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