Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Ideal Muslim

The ideal Muslim… has the unwavering loyalty and honesty of Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq. 

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, "If I were to take a Khalil, I would have taken Abu Bakr (as my Khalil).” (Bukhari)

The ideal Muslim… is like ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab: a lion outside and a kitten at home with his family. 

The ideal Muslim… has the shyness, tenderness, modesty, and gentleness of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan.

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Should I not feel shy before a man whom the angels feel shy of?” (Muslim)

The ideal Muslim… has the honour of Ali ibn Abi Talib on the battlefield, who refused to strip his defeated enemy out of his armour out of respect for the dead man’s modesty. 

After Ali ibn Abi Talib’s duel with Abd-Wudd, Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiAllaahu anhu) said to him: “Why did you not dispossess him of his armor? No Arab has better armor than his!”
Ali said: “I cracked it (during the duel), and his nakedness became exposed to me, so I became shy of stripping him.” (Al-Bayhaqi; al-Bidaaya wa’n-Nihaayah by Ibn Kathir)

The ideal Muslim… has the foresight of Abu ad-Dardaa’, and is keen to cultivate the quick minds of youth, whether that youth is a boy like Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas, or a girl like Umm ad-Dardaa’ as-Sughra. 

The ideal Muslim… adores, respects, and honours his wife the way Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr treated his beloved wife, ‘Aatikah.

The ideal Muslim… is not ashamed to acknowledge and admire the strength of a woman, as Khalid ibn Waleed respected Khawlah bint al-Azwar on the battlefield. 

The ideal Muslim… has the dedication of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud when it comes to living by the Qur’an, not just memorizing it. 

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud: When a man amongst us learned ten verses [of the Quran], he would not move on [to the next verses] until he had understood their meanings and how to act by them.

The ideal Muslim… has the personal conviction of Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr, and is willing to sacrifice the personal luxuries of the Dunya for the Sake of Allah, no matter how spoiled he was growing up.

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: I saw Mus'ab here, and there was no youth in Makkah more pampered by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet!

The ideal Muslim… does not hesitate to stand up against domestic violence, political injustice, racism, or any other kind of abuse, regardless of whether the perpetrators are Muslim or not.

RasulAllah said, "Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.
The people asked, "O RasulAllah! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?"
RasulAllah said, "By preventing him from oppressing others." (Bukhari)

The ideal Muslim… does not allow himself to raise his hand or his voice against his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter, or any other Muslim.

RasulAllah said: “The true Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe.” (Agreed upon)

The ideal Muslim… feels the responsibility of qawwaamah to be heavy upon his shoulders, for he knows that on the Day of Judgment, he will be held accountable for any abuse of his authority. 

Rasulallah said: "Beware of oppression, for oppression will turn into excessive darkness on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

The ideal Muslim… honours and respects the believing men and the believing women, never belittling, humiliating, or encouraging evil towards them. 

{The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.} (Qur’an 9:71)

The ideal Muslim lives his life striving to be ethical, principled, and just; controlling his temper and being careful with his words; holding himself to a standard higher than that of his culture or society. 

The ideal Muslim prays, fasts, performs pilgrimage, gives in charity, and lives every moment testifying to God’s Oneness and to the Seal of the Prophethood, the beloved, RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

The ideal Muslim strives not merely to be a Muslim, or a Mu’min, but to be a Muhsin. 

“Jibreel said: 'Tell me about ihsaan.'
RasulAllah answered, 'That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, then truly He sees you.'” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Heavenly Souls: Physically Disabled, or Enabled for Paradise?

"Disabled." It’s a word we use to describe those with some kind of physical or mental ‘difference’ - those who don’t fall under what we think of as ‘the norm’: people who are ‘different’, who are ‘other’, whom we can’t quite understand or accept as being just like us.

Muslims like to say that under Islam we’re all equal, that in the Sight of Allah I the only thing that matters is taqwa. Our reality is usually not as rosy and innocent.

Those suffering from mental illness or extreme physical ailments are often treated shamefully by fellow Muslims. Many times, they are overtly excluded from being a part of the Muslim community; whether it's looking at them askance, avoiding talking to them (or worse, talking to them in a condescending, demeaning or rude manner) or not making an effort to make our masajid and Islamic centres wheel-chair friendly, our behavior is in direct contradiction to the Sunnah of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam).

We tend to use the term "disabled" to describe people who have been tested by Allah in terms of their physical or mental health - yet what we don't realise is that in many cases they are actually far more "enabled" than the rest of us are. Our brothers and sisters in Islam who are experiencing these trials in their lives often display greater levels of patience and strength in the face of hardship than most of us who enjoy good health throughout our lives do.

Umm Zafar al-Habashiyyah (whose name is said to have been Su’ayrah or Shuqayrah), better known as 'the Abyssinian woman', who suffered from epilepsy in the time of RasulAllah r was such a person. Though epilepsy was, at the time (and still is, in many parts of the world), considered to be something severe, strange and even shameful, she bore her test with a strength, patience, and dignity equal to that of any mujahid on the battlefield.

Ibn `Abbâs  once said to `Atâ b. Rabâh: "Shouldn't I point out to you a woman of Paradise?"
He replied: "Indeed. Do so."
Ibn `Abbâs said: "Do you see that black complexioned lady? She approached the Prophet r and said: 'I suffer from epilepsy and during a fit, my body becomes exposed. So please supplicate Allah on my behalf.'
Then the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said to her: 'If you choose, you might rather bear it patiently and you will attain Paradise on account of it. Or if you like, I will beseech Allah to cure you.'
She said: 'I will bear it patiently. But my body gets exposed, so please beseech Allah that my body will no longer be exposed.'
The Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) beseeched Allah for this.
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5652) and Sahîh Muslim (2576)]

As a result of what many of us would consider her ‘disability’, Umm Zafar was blessed with the greatest gift of all: her entrance to Paradise.

It is worth noting that in Muslim communities there are many children and adults alike who are experiencing mental or physical illnesses and yet they are rarely treated with the same sense of warmth and welcome as others are. Autism, Down’s Syndrome, schizophrenia, bi-polarism, deafness and blindness are all conditions that are quite common within our communities. Yet the majority of people in our masajid and Islamic centres either act as though these individuals are invisible or as though they are carriers of some contagious disease and remain as distant as possible. Little effort is made to welcome and cherish these precious members of the Ummah, let alone engage them as active members in our communities.

Few of us recognise or realise the fact that the young autistic boy whose incomprehensible wails fill the masjid also has the ability to memorise the Qur’an with startling speed and beauty; that the deaf girl who struggles to read lips while you make no effort to learn how to sign has a passion for studying ahadeeth; that the middle-aged man with Down’s Syndrome innocently loves to sit with the toddlers and soothe them with gentle murmurings.

Every single Muslim and Muslimah whom we categorise as ‘other’ because of their perceived ‘disabilities’ is, in fact, ‘different’ – not because they are ‘sick,’ but because so many of them have met the challenge that Allah has placed before them with such strong eman, patience, and strength, that they may be amongst those guaranteed Jannah.

Indeed, those suffering the greatest personal tests in physical and mental health are also amongst the greatest of the heroes and heroines of Islam.


Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Where Are The Fathers? Interview With A Scholar

Umm Zainab Vanker spoke to a well-known scholar, Shaykh Hussain Yee of Al-Khadeem Foundation in Malaysia, to find out about his personal approach to being a hands-on parent to his son, as well as his views on how to get Muslim fathers to reconnect with their sons. Read on to find out what the respected shaykh’s replies were.

Q. What was your relationship with your son like as he was growing up?

A. Alhamdulillah, we have a good relationship. My son and I, as well as my wife and I, always worked together as a team. When the mother can’t get through to them, the father then comes in with a different approach - not shouting, but asking and listening. I always made sure that the whole family did things together.

Q. Mothers nowadays often complain that fathers are not connected to their sons. They expect mothers to push their sons into having a relationship with them. What advice can you give the fathers on building that relationship without coercion from the mother?

A. They need to get connected to their sons by doing activities together. They need to remember the ayah:
{O believers, save yourselves and your family from the Hellfire whose fuel is men and stones...} (Al-Tahrim:6)

I always advise and remind the brothers that they are part of the foundation of the family. They are equally responsible for their children - it’s not just the mothers. By doing things together, whether da’wah, visiting the sick, helping the poor, etc., as a team,they will grow and learn together. Having family activities is crucial in teaching everyone, the young how to lead and the parents how to model being leaders. One of the main things I tell my volunteers whenever we have any scholars or those of knowledge visiting or when I myself visit somewhere is that I ask to have a session only for the volunteers and their families with the scholars. As whenever there is some conference or a visiting scholar around, the brothers are always the ones busy seeing to them and their families - wives and children - are left out. They feel as if their father is ignoring or being taken from them for that time. We need to make sure we know who the families of the volunteers are and connect with them!

Q. When it comes to their own sons, even the practising, knowledgeable brothers may fall short and fail in building a connection with them. They will not allow their sons to speak in gatherings where they may have some knowledge of things. For example, mothers would like that they have a relationship like Umar and his son, Abdullah ibn Umar, or Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and Ali. Fathers today will tell their sons to keep quiet or shut up if they try to say something in a gathering of elders, instead of allowing them to speak. What is your advice to them?

A. They need to learn how to be able to involve and train their kids in when to speak. The fathers need training first and then they can pass it onto their sons. We also have a great problem in communication. Failure in communication between spouses and their children and failure in how to communicate with Allah first. We need to learn how to communicate with Allah and then each other in a way that will promote understanding between all. It’s not enough that these fathers only save themselves but again we remind them of the ayah above and that they are responsible to save their children from the fire as well.

Q. How do we get this message across to the fathers?

A. The fathers need to be trained early, even before they have children. They need to not only learn but, more importantly, to act on the knowledge they gain. A lot of Muslim men will learn the ahkaam (rulings) but when it comes to practising it, and the spirit of the rulings, they fail in doing so. A big problem and shortcoming is in our scholars today. We don’t show or lead by example. Most speak about ahkaam and fiqh (rules and Islamic Jurisprudence) but we don’t give the same amount of time to explaining, teaching and showing tarbiya ar-rabaani (divinely guided education). The fault again comes back to the shuyookh who do not emphasize the importance of teaching tarbiyah and showing how it’s done for their students to learn by example.

Q. How do we get brothers involved in being mentors to those boys whose fathers are emotionally absent or to those who have no strong father figure role models (from divorced or single parent homes)?

A. There must be sessions for the brothers to be involved in their communities not just by volunteering for events, but to be engaged in a meaningful manner with those who need it – the youth. They need to communicate with the boys regularly and not limit themselves to once a month events. Having family-centred and family-welcoming events in the community is very important so that the burden does not fall on the mothers alone, but so that fathers will be encouraged to spend more time with their children.

Al-Khadeem (an Islamic center near Kuala Lumpur) strongly emphasises family values by regularly holding classes and activities for families, meaning that not only mothers are welcome, but fathers are strongly encouraged to attend at the same time to benefit in the same way. Children are also given classes on how to be respectful and how to learn from their parents. In this way, all units of the family are involved and brought together so that they can be on the same page.

In cases of divorce, parents have to realise that both sides need to teach and show respect to the other; as the ayah says, they should “part on good terms.” Children should not see their parents behaving in a disrespectful manner towards each other and showing hate. Fathers still need to communicate with the mothers regarding their children’s upbringing and it is still very important that they be involved in their children’s lives in a positive way

Q. You said that the shuyookh have fallen short in emphasising tarbiyah in the family (especially for fathers) and that we must remind them. How do we remind them to return to the core values necessary for an Islamic household?

A. We need to remind them that they are the ones responsible for they are the first in line to teach and to show by example. A lot of tarbiyah is missing, even amongst many of the shuyookh and their families. Local and visiting scholars can be reminded that their actions with their sons and families will be noticed by those they teach and then followed.

Q. Most parenting classes are directed mainly towards mothers in how to be a good mother, how she is responsible for raising the children and so on. Not much is targeted towards the fathers. How can we change this and have more classes directed towards the fathers?

A. There needs to be many more programmes and classes specifically targeted towards the men. Most shaykhs teach fiqh (jurisprudence) and ahkaam (rulings) without teaching their male students the importance of adab (etiquette), akhlaaq (good character) and tarbiyah (upbringing) according to the sunnah. If we want to see a change, we should approach the teacher and inform them about this great need in the community. Sisters should not be shy in asking for classes from the shuyookh.


Many fathers look up to and take their cues in how to implement being a hands on father from the scholars. Unfortunately, unlike Sh. Hussain, we have not heard many of the more prominent shuyookh who are front and centre in the da’wah circles, pointing to themselves as falling short in this matter or putting great emphasis on the tactile acts of fathering.

Insha Allah in part 3 of Where are the Fathers?, practical points will be given on how to get fathers involved and become a greater part of their sons’ lives.

Umm Zainab Vanker has been active in da'wah and community activism in Canada for the last ten years, and is deeply concerned with issues related to family and parenting. She is the mother of one crazy daughter, three teenage sons, and grandmother to a three year old girl. She continues to struggle in raising her children and finding resources for them even in a Muslim country.