The Noble Rank of Lady Fatima Zahra, by Shaykh Ahmed Abdo

Knowing who Lady Fatima Zahra is extremely important, because she ” …is most important to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him” states Shaykh Ahmed Abdo.

The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, had four daughters, and Fatima was his beloved.  She had a very loving and intimate relationship with her father and mother and loved to be in their company. Her upbringing  and character are mirrored in the lives of her noble parents. Their household was nurtured by love and support exemplified by the relationship between her mother, Lady Khadija the Great, and her father Muhammad, the final messenger of God.  This love manifests in nobility in this world and the Hereafter.

Do you know the  Lady Fatima Zahra?

The Queen of the Heavenly Abode
The Doorway to the Noble Lineage
The heart connected to the most noblest of hearts?
There are four women in the history of humanity that have reached the highest perfection and degree of completion; Lady Fatima is amongst the four mentioned, along with her noble mother Khadija.
Join Shaykh Ahmed Abdo in this two part  video on a profound journey of discovery; a journey of love and nobility.

Part  One: The Noble Household

Part Two:  A Blessed Lifetime


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We are grateful to Companions of the Heart for this video. Cover Photo by Fraser.

Porn Is Big Business and Muslims Are Becoming Customers – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Porn is big business and Muslims are far from immune to it. Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Toronto and teacher at SeekersHub Toronto, spends ten minutes reflecting on how he helps young people deal with it.

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Cover photo by Johan Larsson. Our thanks to Quran Speaks for making this video available.

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"I’m Married To A Sex Addict" – 5 Tips on Moving Forward

In this guest column for SeekersHub, Danielle Adams from Lifestar Therapy offers advice to couples dealing with pornography and sex addiction.

Pornography and sexual addiction is a complicated issue, especially if you’re married to someone who is struggling with this fixation. You’ve probably felt shocked, angered, depressed, and resentful over your spouse’s problem. That’s normal. However, there are things you can do to help yourself move past the hurt and into a better place emotionally.
Follow these five tips to learn how you can improve your relationship, move toward forgiveness, and start feeling more love for yourself and your marriage.
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1. Acknowledge the Addiction

When secrets are kept and problems aren’t acknowledged, distrust and fear will develop within a relationship. Before the healing process can begin, you and your spouse both need to recognize and admit that (a) there is an addiction, and (b) that relational distress is one of the many consequences of that addiction.

2. Get Help

Addiction isn’t something your spouse can just “get over.” Seek answers to your questions and get the support you need from a professional marriage therapist, a spiritual leader or trusted friend, and a support group. They can help you more fully understand how and why sex addiction starts, help you through your emotional trauma, and get you and your spouse on the path to recovery.

3. Invest in Yourself

Resist the urge to dwell on the unfortunate circumstances you now find yourself in. Instead, take this time to invest more fully into yourself. Write down some recovery or spiritual goals to work toward, serve others who are in need of help or support, enjoy healthy eating and exercising, and distract yourself with a new, fun hobby.
By focusing on your own goals, you’ll be distracted from your difficult situation and will give yourself some much-needed, much-deserved positive attention. By having more love for yourself, it’ll be easier to have more love for your spouse.

4. Support One Another

One of the most important things you can do to support one another during this trying time is to have full and open communication. Talk non-aggressively about feelings and struggles, trials and triumphs. Listen with an open heart and allow yourself to feel love and empathy.
You may also want to set clear physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual boundaries regarding your spouse’s behaviors and actions that might make you feel uncomfortable. By setting and keeping these boundaries, your spouse will be able to start earning your trust once again and you will have some control over how the situation affects you and your family.

5. Look Forward

There’s no need to continually dwell on the actions and mistakes of the past. It’s an ugly trap that you don’t want to find yourself residing in, keeping you miserable. By looking forward, together, each day will get a little easier. Recommit to rebuild trust, improve communication, and focus on the bright future of your marriage. Some days will be more difficult than others, but with time and patience, healing can be achieved and you will once again feel whole.

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Cover photo by Johan Larsson

Side Entrance: Why Mosques Are Still Getting It Wrong, by Mona Rahman

Mona Rahman on the consequences of entering mosques through a side entrance and disappearing from sight, especially if you’ve got boys in tow.

I’m going to just come out and say this. En route home from a soccer festival we stopped at a masjid. Alhamdulillah the masjid was open. We went to pray, my dad, my sons and I. I went through the Sisters’ side entrance and up the stairs to the prayer area.  My sons and father went ahead to the “main” entrance to the prayer area.  I could see them but they could not see me. I could not pray with them in jama’a (congregation) so prayed by myself. We like to pray in jama’a as a family.  I went out and waited a while for them to come.  The first thing my son said was, “Mommy, where were you?”
Let me tell you where I’m coming from. I grew up in a community without a masjid but with a strong community Alhamdulillah. When we were able to build a masjid I was 25 and my brother was 7. We were taught how the Prophet’s masjid was, what the Sunnah is and how brothers and sisters are partners to each other. Our community board has an official women’s representative to ensure that the sisters are always heard, and always had. However in addition to the women’s rep we have always had sisters in executive positions on the Board, Alhamdulillah.  We used to have youth and MSA reps until we became too large for it to be practical (and there were other issues) but we developed a forum so that they still have a voice. This was the mentality of our founding families. As such when the masjid was built it was done so with a common main entrance and with symmetry so that brothers and sisters had the same facilities. Yes there are alternate entrances but no one is designated as brothers only or sisters only. There are separate entrances to the musallah but they led to a simple open prayer area with sisters at the back and brothers at the front just as was described for the first masjid of the Prophet ﷺ.

People Aren’t The Same Anymore

Do some people not like it? Every once in a while someone new will come and say this is haram. But you know what? This is closest to the Sunnah. Oh people are not as at the time of the Prophet ﷺ. Really? From my understanding, men used to go to the back rows at the time of the Prophet ﷺ and try to see the women through their legs when in prostration. That is when the Prophet ﷺ said that the best lines for men are at the front and the best lines for women are at the back. He didn’t say to build a wall or stick the women on another floor. The Quran says to lower your gaze and guard your modesty. Lower your gaze is stated first. You are responsible for your own actions. These are principles taught 1400+ years ago but which we have been practicing since, Insha Allah.
Are people uncomfortable with this? Of course there are women who are uncomfortable praying in there same room as men as it is foreign to them, so in order to make everyone comfortable and not infringe on the rights of any of the women, when we expanded the sisters area we expanded sideways in order to create a space with more privacy for those sisters who do not want to be in the same visible space as the men but still keeping the structure of the main prayer hall. Note, it wasn’t done in response to the men who complained. A mere bookshelf separates the area so there is free flow from the private part to the main sisters area. That is their preference and everyone is free to worship in the main area or in the more private areas, which is also very useful if nursing.

Communities and Families Partitioned

Let’s go back to today’s experience. I know what the Prophet ﷺ taught. I have also lived in a different community where there were areas partitioned by walls but they evolved with the community, with greater understanding. From my experience there though, I will say it is difficult to concentrate on prayer and it is sometimes difficult if one arrives late. However, I will pray in your masjid without making a fuss as that is the climate of your community.  I have prayed in the smelly closet by myself. I have prayed in the mezzanine unable to communicate with my sons.
As a mother of boys, who tends to be alone with the boys at the masjid, you have to understand the difficulty we are put in.  If I visit with my sons you are asking me to let them go alone without supervision into a place where they don’t know anyone. They can’t look back to ensure I’m there. They can’t find me if they need help.  They do not feel like I am part of the jama’a. They will not come with me to the women’s area as they are 7 and 10 and once they are 7, they were taught they should go to the brothers section as they are now big boys.
Is this the type of community our Prophet ﷺ built? He was the man who would shorten his prayers if he heard a child cry so as to not cause any more distress to the mother. He was the man who asked the men in his community to wait a bit so that the sisters could leave the masjid without discomfort. He was the one who gently turned the head of his young companion when he couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful woman. He taught haya so that we could be true partners in community. This is a haya which is independent of what others are wearing or how they act.

It’s not about “free mixing”

If I as a grown woman who is strong in my Muslim identity (Masha Allah) feel uncomfortable and uncertain when I go to a masjid, afraid of offending because of my gender or going through the wrong door, then how would one who may be wobbling, especially our young Muslim sisters, feel? How about the sister who goes for the first time? If you don’t teach your youth (or adults) how to behave with each other at the masjid with their brothers and sisters, how do you expect them to know how to behave when in the wider community with their peers? How do you think our sons feel when their mom has to go somewhere else?
It’s not about “free mixing”. That is not what I’m saying. It is possible to pray in a musallah without barriers and still be separate. It is possible to go to school and work without compromising your haya. It’s about proper manners. It’s about truly learning what the Sunnah is and practising it without crutches. It’s about separating the cultural norms of back home from what Allah Most High taught us through His Messenger ﷺ through the Qur’an and Sunnah. It requires us to not just accept what we grew up )especially if it was from a land where most are Muslim) but understanding the why. It’s about learning about our religion from reliable sources, not just relying on what our forefathers told us.
My mother argued with her grandfather who felt there was no need for girls to be educated past grade 6. Masha Allah he was a pious man and ensured an Islamic education and it was this which also taught her the importance of education. So she argued with truth in her words and continued her education, Masha Allah. Sometimes we need to question the status quo to ensure we are on the Straight Path.
Anything good is from Allah swt; all else is from my own deficiencies. I beg Allah’s forgiveness if I have erred or misled.

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Muslim Convert: I asked the Priest to Forgive Me…

Very few converts accept Islam straight away. The rest go through a spiritual turbulence as they come to terms with the big decision that lies ahead. If that describes you, then you’ll be comforted to know that you’re not alone.

Watch this short interview with Ala, a Muslim convert, in which she talks about her journey to embracing Islam and how embracing Islam brought happiness to her life. She’s from Ukraine and embraced Islam when she was 28.

Self-development begins where your comfort zone ends. And true self-development begins by embracing truth when it comes your way. We hope that this convert to Islam has inspired you to push forward in your journey, even if it’s just an inch.

If you have concerns or confusions that are keeping you back from converting to Islam, email Overcome TV or send a YouTube message.

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Embracing Otherness as the Prophetic Sunnah – Imam Khalid Latif

The Prophet’s ﷺ reality and his personal  relationships call to diversity; he was exposed to diverse people of gender, colour, age and ethnicity from a young age; this theme furthers throughout his  lifelong relationships. Imam Khalid Latif  invites us to meet such personages as Umm Ayman Baraka and engage with otherness through the lens of love and empathy.

Imam Khalid urges us to reflect on the nature of identity, he tells us that we go through the steps of self affirmation and we place ourselves in boxes of identity, and once we do that we compare ourselves by that which we are not. The Prophet ﷺ was able to be an individual for all people, and generations for all time; this behooves us to ask ourselves who we are  and what our relationships are really based on.

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Cover photo from flickr. We are grateful to ICNYU for this video.

Prepare, Before Your Marriage Goes Belly-Up

So many of the questions Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil sees on SeekersHub Answer service have to do with marriage. By the time the questions reach her, things have already gone badly.

An oft-repeated theme I see is this: parents who are deeply unhappy with the cultural background of the person their son or daughter wishes to marry.
If you’re single and reading this, then it’s likely that you have parents who are actively involved in your lives. If you’re from a very cultural background, then it’s possible that your parents want you to marry from that same culture. Sometimes, even the same village. Parents want what’s best for their children, based on their understanding of the world. Invariably, their version of what’s best is so different to their adult children’s.

Please do something differently.

Rather than wait until you meet Mr or Ms So-Right-For-You-But-So-Wrong-For-Your-Parents at your local halaqa, college, or work, please broach the topic from now. Even better – please enrol in and complete this course: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. (I know how hard it can be to successfully completing an online course. Pair yourself up with an accountability buddy. Discuss lessons after you listen to them.)

Talk to your parents.

Ask them what they envisage for you in terms of a suitable marriage partner. They may surprise you, or they may not. They key is to let them talk, and then really listen. Not a “I’m pretending to hear you so then I can get my opinion in”, but a sincere, open-hearted kind of listening. Stay calm. Read between the lines. Try to understand what your parents are really telling you. Is it fear of the unknown? Is it social pressure from their friends and family members? Is it their own baggage from their marriage?

Validate their concerns.

Help them feel like you actually care about what they have to say. Then use wisdom and tact to offer your point of view. Ask compassionate scholars and/or elders in your community for support, if need be.
Is talking to your parents a sure-fire way of guaranteeing their blessings and smooth sailing? I can’t guarantee that. But I can hope and pray that it’s a step in the right direction. I encourage you to enrol in The Rights of Parents to get an idea of the tremendous station of parents, and the reward in treating them with goodness.
May Allah soften the hearts of our parents, give us the wisdom and patience to approach them, and bless the ummah of our Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).
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Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered in this comprehensive reader.

Do You Respect The Women Around You? – Habib Ali al-Jifri

Islam has done a favour for women; the oft-repeated rhetoric about the status of women in pre-Islamic Arabian society seems to suggest, but how true is this statement today? Habib Ali al-Jifri invites the male listener to reflect and ask timely questions regarding the role and status of women Islam.

Do you respect her? What is the relationship between you and the women in your life? Do you respect them? What examples do you have in building and maintaining your relationships?

Take Care Of Your Women

In his final sermon, the Messenger of God ﷺ, after the express call to hold fast to prayer, urged the community to take care of the women.  Habib Ali explores this statement along the central theme of worship; he invites us to explore the lives of the  female companions surrounding the Prophet ﷺ to guide us on our way.  What were their roles in society? What was their voice and what impact did they have at an individual and communal level? What was their relationships with the Prophetﷺ?

Call to Rabita

Rabita constitutes building a wholesome relationship with others; specifically women. The foundation is cultivating a relationship with Allah by becoming the true worshipful servant. A journey of body, heart and spirit that illuminates our external relationships.

We are grateful to Al-Madina Mosque Barking for this recording.

 

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I’tikaf: When The Aching Bones of Your Wives May Testify Against You

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I’tikaf is intended to be a blessed time for those who have the opportunity to engage in it so why is it causing so much marital discord between couples who Jazmin Begum-Kennedy is counselling?

Iʿtikāf (Arabic: اعتكاف‎‎, also i’tikaaf or e’tikaaf) is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days, devoting oneself to worship during these days and staying away from worldly affairs. The literal meaning of the word suggests sticking and adhering to, or being regular in, something, this ‘something’ often including performing supererogatory (nafl) prayers, reciting the Qur’an, and reading hadith.

Every year, I read wonderful social media updates from brothers preparing to go to i’tikaf followed by others praising them and requesting them to make dua. This ought to be a beautiful thing but unfortunately for the wives left behind, it is often a nightmare.

Few men make enough fanfare or even mention who will

  • pack their things for them,
  • do grocery runs,
  • cook fresh food each day,
  • send the fresh food to the men in i’tikaf each day, twice a day – for iftar and suhoor,
  • take care of the children and the school runs,
  • serve their parents,
  • serve their in-laws
  • take care of her own health, while pregnant or otherwise

All this on often little to no resources.
For these women, engaging in more prayer, Qur’an reading and quiet reflection during the blessed 10 nights of Ramadhan are a remote possiblity.
Don’t get me wrong- I am all for i’tikaf but men need to make provisions for their womenfolk first before they set off. Every year I am left counselling mothers who have been left to take care of young children and demanding inlaws, as well as send freshly cooked food to their menfolk at the mosques. Often, they are not left with much money or resources to barely feed the children and elderly in their care, let alone send food to their men in i’tikaf.

“But My Wife Doesn’t Mind”

I don’t just listen to the women’s side of the story. I have spoken to many men about this. Last year, one brother messaged me saying how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  often left for months and years and no one complained. He insisted that his wife didn’t complain either. When I asked him if he had asked her, he did not reply.
We do not live in societies that allow for such privileges. When the companions of the Prophet ﷺ went away, they left their families in a community with extended families and friends. They had maids as well as wet nurses for support.
These days, women have to do school and mosque runs, shopping, take children to appointments, chores for in-laws etc. Everything is done by one person – the mother.
On top of the daily grind of life, there’s the added stress of arrange the delivery of fresh, pipping hot food because she doesn’t want to upset or anger her husband who has gone to get closer to Paradise.

Is This The Path To Paradise?

What blessing is there in striving for Paradise, off the back of another human being?
I acknowledge that being in service to those in worship is a form of worship itself, and may Allah reward all who engage in this to the best of their abilities. However, on the flip side, there is a disturbing element of injustice and oppression.
Just before I wrote this, I was consoling a mother who is experiencing a very difficult pregnancy and has a toddler to attend to. She can barely keep her head up due to the sickness and exhaustion. Her beloved husband set off for iti’kaf leaving her with strict instructions on making sure his two meals are delivered at the right temperature.
I try not to aggravate situations like this. I try to hold my tongue, for what it’s worth. I advised this woman to go to her parent’s home so she can get some much needed respite. She is drained. She is carrying life in her womb. It is her God-given right to be nurtured during this fragile time and her God-given right to request her husband stay home and make himself useful. I told her to print this profound hadith and hang it in her home so all can see what our beloved Prophet ﷺ had to say:

The best of you are those who are best to their wives.

SubhanAllah, it is time to reflect on why we do things and how our actions, even if it’s to do something good can be so damaging for our hereafter. I was reminded by a fellow mother, Sumayyah Omar on Muslim Mamas that the Prophet ﷺ said,

“The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people. The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger. That I walk with a brother regarding a need is more beloved to me than that I seclude myself in this mosque in Medina for a month. Whoever swallows his anger, then Allah will conceal his faults. Whoever suppresses his rage, even though he could fulfill his anger if he wished, then Allah will secure his heart on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever walks with his brother regarding a need until he secures it for him, then Allah the Exalted will make his footing firm across the bridge on the day when the footings are shaken.”

Scholars and Imams, Insist On A Checklist

Wouldn’t it be great if the imams in all our mosques would read this hadith out during Friday sermons in Ramadan? And then advise the men to follow basic protocols before packing their bags? Moni Akhtar, another mother from Muslim Mamas made a great suggestion: the masjid should give out a form of prerequisites before men are accepted into i’tikaf:

  • Have you asked your wife if she can cope without you?
  • Have you left her with provisions?
  • Have you paid for a cleaner to come and help?

Guidance and prompting from the ulema is sorely needed to raise greater awareness.
I would love to leave on a good note but instead I am forced to leave a warning. Your women and those in your care may not utter a word  now but their aching bones will testify against you on the Day of Judgement. May Allah have mercy upon us all, ameen.

Photo credit: Juliana Cunha

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Jazmin Begum Kennedy (JBK) is a ‘Qualified Housewife.’ By day she is a mother, wife and teacher; by night she wages war against oppressors and writes books. She is an experienced teacher of primary and secondary education, an acclaimed professional artist (JBK Arts) and published author of Mercy Like the Raindrops, Blessed Bees, No School Today and the upcoming novel, Fifteen. Jazmin is an online counsellor specialising in domestic abuse, rape and child abuse. She also physically helps victims of domestic violence flee their abusive marriages. She is the co-founder of the Nisa Foundation, working as a women’s aid worker for victims of domestic violence. JBK currently homeschools her three children, whilst managing a network for Home Educators in the Greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom.

Learn to Live… with Balance – Sister Heba #GiveLight

Learning to Live, with Balance

Heba didn’t think she had any problems. But when she started attending classes at SeekersHub, she just realized how much she was missing out on.

Help SeekersHub change the lives of more people like Heba
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