Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Inherent Differences Between Man and Woman - III

Should there be equality in all rulings, given the differences in physique and competence, it would be a reversal of Fitrah (natural disposition), and injustice against both the authoritative sex (men) and the other one (women) if not the entire life of human society, for in this case, it would result in deprivation of the fruits obtained from the capacity of being authoritative and, at the same time, the members of the other sex would be obliged to do what is beyond their capacity. Allaah The Almighty forbids that such injustice, even as much as the weight of a mustard seed, should happen in the Sharee‘ah of Allaah, who is the Wisest of judges. This is why these fine rulings ensure that the woman is provided for while she practices motherhood, maintains her house, and raises the future generations of the Ummah (Muslim nation).
May Allaah have mercy upon the prominent scholar, Mahmood Muhammad Shaakir, who commented on the previously-mentioned statement of At-Tabari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him saying,
This is merely a type of false wishing and longing which the people of this age are contentiously involved in and misunderstand, and the only way to be saved from it is to have a sincere intention, a correct understanding of the nature of humankind, as well as to separate baseless false wishes from necessity, and to release oneself from the bond of blind imitation of the prevailing nations and from the captivity of the corrupt society which has dragged the nations of today into great turmoil.
However, some of the people of our religion, may Allaah guide them and mend their affairs, have been led astray, while assuming the mode of reform, and have confused what might reform their corruption by means of endeavor, thought and wisdom, with what would corrupt them. People have become radically excessive, and the resentful advocates of falsehood among them who are in charge of the press today have increased. Thus, tongues have spoken confused words, minds have fallen into chaos, and many people have slipped along with those advocates, to the extent that we have come to see some seemingly learned people who are of those of religious knowledge, say about this issue words from which every religious person should disassociate himself.
There is a huge difference between the state in which the life of the Ummah, with its men and women, is correct and pure from evil, disfigurement and ignorance, and the state in which the Ummah eliminates all the barriers between men and women and thus reduces itself to no more than false wishes that bring about envy and transgression with no just cause. Let me repeat the words of Abu Ja‘far  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him “O Allaah, guide us to the straight path at a time in which the tongue has betrayed the mind. Let those who oppose the command of Allaah, and reject His fate in them beware lest a calamity would befall them and obliterate their remaining traces on earth as it obliterated the traces of those who were before them.”
Thus, this principle confirms the physical, moral and Sharee‘ah-recognized distinctions between man and woman.
The forthcoming principles will be established on this first one, since they would discuss the distinctions between them concerning adornment and Hijaab.

The Inherent Differences Between Man and Woman - II

Here is a set of features with which men and women have been characterized:
From among the rulings assigned to men, a mention may be made of the following:
• Men are in charge of the household in general and of preserving, caring and safeguarding virtue, holding back vice and protecting those under their guardianship from evil. They are also in charge of the household in terms of earning a living and spending upon it. In confirmation of this, Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allaah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allaah would have them guard.} [Quran 4:34]
Consider the effect of that responsibility in the word "under" in the Grand Quran as stated by Allaah The Almighty in Soorat At-Tahreem: {Allaah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants.} [Quran 66:10]
"Under" in this context tells us that they had no authority over their husbands; rather, it was their husbands who had authority over them. The woman is, therefore, not to be regarded as equal to or above the man in this regard.
• Prophethood and the delivering of Allaah’s message are the domain of men and not women. In confirmation of this, Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And We sent not before you [as messengers] except men to whom We revealed from among the people of cities.} [Quran 12:109]
According to scholars of Tafseer (Quranic exegesis), Allaah The Almighty has never sent as a prophet a woman, an angel, a jinn, or a Bedouin.
• As for public guardianship and the jobs done under it like the judiciary, public administration, and so on, and all other forms of guardianship like that in marriage, are also the domain of men.
• Men are specifically assigned, to the exclusion of women, many acts of worship such as the obligatory duty of Jihaad, Jumu‘ah (Friday prayer in the mosque) prayer, congregational prayers (in the mosque), pronouncement of the Athaan and Iqaamah (calls to prayer), and so on. Divorce also is made in the hand of the man and not the woman, and the custody of the children are given to the man and not the woman.
• The man's share of inheritance, blood-money and his witness is twice that of the woman.
These and other rulings assigned exclusively to men explain the meaning of what is mentioned by Allaah The Almighty at the end of the Noble Verse of Divorce in which He Says (what means): {But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allaah is Exalted in Might and Wise.} [Quran 2:228]
On the other hand, there are many rulings that Allaah The Almighty assigned to women in acts of worship, social interaction, marriage and its ramifications, judgments, and so on. They are well-known in the Quran and Sunnah as well as in the writings of jurists. Many books, in the past as well as the present, have been dedicated to this purpose in particular.
Some of these pertain to her Hijaab and guarding her virtue.
That Allaah The Almighty has assigned to each sex a set of rulings has three implications:
First, to have faith in and acknowledge the physical, mental and Sharee‘ah-determined distinction between men and women. Each should be satisfied with what has been decreed by Allaah The Almighty for him/her. Perfect justice lies in these distinctions, and through observing them, order is achieved in the life of human society.
Second, it is impermissible for a male or a female Muslim to hope for what was assigned by Allaah The Almighty to the other. To do so would be to be displeased with the decree of Allaah The Almighty and dissatisfied with His command and ordinance. Rather, let each slave ask Allaah The Almighty out of His bounty for that is from Sharee‘ah-recommended politeness and which removes envy, disciplines the believing soul and habituates it to be pleased with what is decreed by Allaah The Almighty.
Allaah The Almighty forbade wishing for what is assigned to others in His statement (which means): {And do not wish for that by which Allaah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allaah of His bounty. Indeed Allaah is ever, of all things, Knowing.}[Quran 4:32]
The occasion on which this verse was revealed is what is narrated on the authority of Mujaahid  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him that Umm Salamah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said, “O Messenger of Allaah, will men take part in Jihaad and we [women] not do so? Why should we have only half their inheritance?” On that Allaah The Almighty revealed (what means): {And do not wish for that by which Allaah has made some of you exceed others.} [Quran 4:32] [At-Tabari, Ahmad, Al-Haakim and others]
According to At-Tabari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him “Allaah The Almighty means here, 'Desire not that with which Allaah has favored some of you over others'. It is mentioned that it was revealed in connection with some women who wished to be in the same position of men and have what they have, but Allaah The Almighty forbade His slaves to have such false wishes and commanded them to ask Him for His Bounty, as such wishes always draw envy and transgression with no just cause.”
Third, if mere wishing is forbidden as stated by the Quran, then what about those who actually deny the Sharee‘ah-determined distinctions, call for their cancellation, and claim equality, to which they invite in the name of equality between man and woman?
Undoubtedly, this is an atheistic theory for it contradicts the universal norm of Allaah The Almighty that decreed these physical and moral distinctions between men and women and seeks to disregard Islam with its Sharee‘ah-related texts which determine, in many rulings, the differences between the male and the female.

The Inherent Differences Between Man and Woman - I

The physical, moral and Sharee‘ah-related differences between man and woman are proven by Divine Decree, the Sharee‘ah, and sound ration.
That is, Allaah The Almighty has created man and woman as twin-halves of the human species: male and female, as confirmed by His Statement (which means): {And that He creates the two mates - the male and female.} [Quran 53:45] Both participate in maintaining the universe, each in his/her field. They share in maintaining it by worshipping Allaah The Almighty, in which there is no difference between men and women in the universalities of religion: Tawheed (Islamic monotheism), creed, articles of faith, submission to Allaah The Almighty, reward and punishment, encouragement and admonition in general, in addition to virtue and chastity. There is also no difference between them in the universality of religious law, as regards to all rights and duties; Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
• {And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.}[Quran 51:56]
• {Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life.} [Quran 16:97]

• {And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer - those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed.} [Quran 4:124]
But, Allaah The Almighty decreed that man is different from woman in physique, constitution and appearance. Man is more perfect in nature, disposition and physical power than woman, due to what she suffers of menses, pregnancy, the pains of childbirth, suckling, looking after the affairs of the baby, and raising the future generation of the Ummah (Muslim nation). That is why the woman was created from the rib of Aadam (Adam)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention. She is a complementary part of him, and man is entrusted to take care of her affairs, guard and protect her, and maintain her as well as their offspring.
This difference in disposition led to differences between them in physical, mental, intellectual, emotional capabilities, and will-power, and that was reflected in the difference in work, performance, and competence. Additionally, modern day scientists have concluded that there are amazing signs of physiological disparity between the two sexes.
The types of difference between the sexes has accounted for a large set of corresponding Sharee‘ah-stipulated rulings. Allaah, The Exalted in Honor, the Wise, with His Perfect Wisdom, has enjoined difference, disparity and authority between man and woman in some Sharee‘ah-stipulated rulings in tasks and functions that befit each according to his/her physique, constitution, capabilities and performance, and the aptitude of each of them in his/her respective field of human life, in order for life to be integrated and for each party to undertake his/her task in it.
Allaah The Almighty assigned to men rulings that befit their physique, constitution, structure, competence, qualification for performance, patience, endurance and solemnity, and the bulk of their role is outside the home as they endeavor to provide for their household. He did the same with women, to whom He assigned rulings that befit their physique, constitution, structure, competence, qualification for performance and fragile endurance, and the bulk of their job is thus inside the home, looking after the affairs of their household and raising those in it who constitute the next generation of the Ummah.
Allaah The Almighty related from a woman her statement (which means):{“And the male is not like the female.”} [Quran 3:36] Exalted be He, to whom belongs the creation and command, ruling and legislation:{Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allaah, Lord of the worlds.} [Quran 7:54]
This is the universal norm of Allaah The Almighty in His creation (meaning that whatever Allaah The Almighty wills and decrees for his slaves will inevitably occur), constitution and foundations, and His Legislative norm concerning commands, rulings and laws. Both norms meet to serve the benefits of people, the maintenance of the universe, and the organization of the life of the individual, the home, the community and human society.

Maryam, the Mother of Jesus

As Muslims, we respect, honor and hold in high esteem Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, the daughter of Imraan who was a chaste virgin and is the best of the women of the world.
The Muslims respect and love her for many reasons, among which are the following:
• Allaah Almighty praised her and described her as being pure and chaste; Allaah Almighty Says (what means): {And [the example of] Mary, the daughter of ‘Imraan, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into [her garment] through Our angel [i.e. Gabriel], and she believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient.} [Quran 66:12] Indeed, Allaah Almighty mentioned her and elaborated on the details of her story in many verses in the Quran.

• Allaah has chosen her as the best of the women of this world; Allaah Says (what means): {(And [mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allaah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.} [Quran 3:42]
• Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, was brought up in a pious and religious family like her mother  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her who vowed to Allaah to dedicate what was in her womb to His Services and to serve His Religion; Allaah Says (what means): {[Mention, O Muhammad], when the wife of Imraan said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord I have delivered a female.” And Allaah was most knowing of what she delivered, and the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allaah].”} [Quran 3: 35-36]
Indeed, Allaah accepted the supplication of the mother of Maryam as He appointed a Prophet to her care and service, who was the Prophet Zechariah  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention so that she would be brought up upon the Guidance of Allaah. Allaah Says (what means): {So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allaah. Indeed, Allaah provides for whom He wills without account.”} [Quran 3:37]
• Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, reached a status and an honorable level that no other women has reached; the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )mentioned this and clarified this in many Ahadeeth. For instance, we cite the following:
“Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Maryam, the daughter of Imraan, and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
“The best of the women of her time was Maryam, daughter of Imraan, and the best of the women of her time was Khadeejah, Bint Khuwaylid.”[Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
“The best of the women of paradise after Maryam Bint ‘Imraan are: Faatimah [daughter of the Prophet], Khadeejah [Prophet’s wife] and Asia the wife of Pharaoh.” [As-Silsilah As-Saheehah]
“The best of the women of the world are: “Maryam Bint ‘Imraan, Khadeejah Bint Khuwaylid, Faatimah Bint Muhammad, and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh.” [At-Tirmithi]
• All the Muslim nation agree that Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, was of great honor and high status and they consider her as an example regarding purity and chastity.
• A whole Chapter in the Quran was named after her name and she is the only woman who has won this honor (as no other Chapter is named after any other woman), and Allaah elaborated in details the story of her conceiving ‘Eesa  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention and her giving birth to him.
• Also, she is the only woman who was clearly mentioned by name in the Quran whereas other women of honor and great status were only mentioned by reference.
Indeed, her name was mentioned explicitly in the Quran 34 times in 32 verses, and it was mentioned 11 times without being linked to her son ‘Eesa (Jesus)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention.
• Also, Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, was the one who was given as an example – along with Asia Bint Muzaahim [the wife of Pharaoh] –for the Muslim women, and for men as well. Allaah Says (what means): {And Allaah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.” And [the example of] Mary, the daughter of ‘Imraan, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into [her garment] through Our angel [i.e. Gabriel], and she believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient.} [Quran 66:11-12]
• Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention was known for her chastity and virginity even after giving birth to ‘Eesa (Jesus), the Messenger of Allaah, may Allaah exalt their mention. She sought refuge with Allaah when the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) appeared to her in the form of a man in all respects, as she said: Allaah Says [on her tongue] (what means): {She said: “Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Merciful (i.e. Allaah) from you if you do fear Allaah”} [Quran 19:18]
• Allaah honored her by declaring her not guilty and by protecting her honor and dignity with a great miracle as He made her son –‘Eesa (Jesus) –speak while he was still in the cradle in order to declare her innocence and refute the accusation of the people of falsehood and corruption. Indeed, Allaah mentioned in details the story how she conceived her son and how she gave birth to him. Allaah Says (what means): {Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, ‘O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.” So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?” [Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allaah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and Zakaah as long as I remain alive. And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.” That is Jesus, the son of Mary— the word of truth about which they are in dispute. It is not [befitting] for Allaah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.} [Quran 19:27-35]
• Allaah selected her to be a pious believing mother for one of the Prophets of great determination, who were the five great Prophets in the history of mankind, may Allaah exalt their mention.
• She conceived ‘Eesa (Jesus)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention in an unordinary human way, and in a miraculous manner as the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) breathed into her womb and she became pregnant, and then she gave birth to him.
• She was honored as Allaah attributed her great son to her; Jesus, son of Mary, as he was mentioned being attributed to her in the Quran 23 times out of 34 times.
• Allaah honored her with a number of miracles before her pregnancy and after she gave birth, such as the food which Allaah blessed her with when there was nobody to give her food or when she was lacking it. Allaah Says (what means): {…and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allaah. Indeed, Allaah provides for whom He wills without account.”} [Quran 3:37] Allaah also blessed her with the stream and the palm tree, which Allaah created for her so that she would eat and drink from them in the lonely place where she was so that she will give birth far from the eyes of the people. Allaah Says (what means): {…But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented…”} [Quran 19:24-26]
• She was strong in her religion. She endured much hardship and was steadfast to the last second of hardship, especially when she became pregnant, when she gave birth, and when she breastfed her son.
• Her name was widely spread among the Christians and the Muslims. Indeed, many Muslims like naming their daughters Maryam, and her name is absolutely the most wide-spread name for females around the world and in the Christian world. Her name is especially spread among the woman in Spanish speaking countries, such as the name of Mary Augustine, and Mary AsunciĆ³n, Mary Antoinette, Miriam, Mary Carmen, and Mary Magdalene, Virginia, …etc.
Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, is a role model for all Muslim women because she maintained her impeccable character throughout her life. Allaah raised her status and chose her from among the women of the entire world. Indeed, many verses and many Ahadeeth clarified her great status.
Allaah blessed her with some miracles, protected her and defended her against any accusations and blasphemy. On the other hand, Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, demonstrated her genuine devotion and loyalty to Allaah through her impeccable virtue and behavior. She also expressed her profound and genuine devotion to Him Almighty through her determination, devotion, and unconditional surrender to His Will. She placed all of her hope and trust only in Allaah.
As a result, Allaah supported her with His Grace and Help, and turned all hardship into goodness and beauty.
She became pregnant and delivered her child all alone. She showed patience and complete faith in Allaah and endured the accusations of her people. Consequently, Allaah eased her burden, supported her, and refuted any accusations against her.
Maryam, may Allaah exalt her mention, had a superior and honorable position.
As Muslims, we should honor her, defend her dignity and chastity, and clarify to the people of the whole world the truth about her that she is the best example for all women around the world to follow. She was indeed the best woman ever in the whole world, may Allaah exalt her mention.

Our Non-Muslim Relatives: Their Rights Upon us

By Kimberly Ben
When I reverted to Islam over 10 years ago, I received mixed reactions from my friends and family. While attending my first family gathering wearing Hijaab, I was eyed very curiously at first, but with time they have come to accept my choice.
Now, no one even seems to notice much except for the occasional complement on my choice of scarf. Most of my relatives accepted my new faith kindly with respect and made efforts to accommodate me, and my family. When holidays rolled around, my relatives would sometimes find it difficult to purchase gifts for other children in the family while "leaving mine out." When I patiently explained why it was important to me that they respect my decision, they did just that. There were a couple of times where my new faith was "challenged" (luring intense discussions about religion, or world events, but we have all learned to respect one another's choices and continue to love and support one another as a family. In many ways, Islam helped me improve my family relationships since I began taking seriously the instruction to maintain family ties. Alhamdu Lillaah (praise be to Allaah), it has been a pretty easy transition.
Establishing boundaries
Even the most pleasant visit with non-family members can present challenges and tests. Some things are easy to navigate, like avoiding alcohol or dishes with non-halal meat at a family event. Others are more difficult. One area that can be challenging is family gossip. Many relatives delight in sharing family secrets when they come together. It can be difficult to resist the urge to listen, participate and comment about the juicy details of another's life, but this is considered backbiting, and participating in it, is likewise forbidden and should be avoided.
Spreading malicious gossip about others is condemned in the Quran; Allaah Says (what means): {… And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allaah; indeed, Allaah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.} [Quran 49:12] If you are part of a family whose favorite pastime is dishing on one another, you may have to get creative when attempting to avoid this kind of activity. When you notice that the conversation is taking a turn to gossip, try gently steering the conversation to another topic instead.
Another challenge specific to women is the issue of Hijaab. Some non-Muslim family members do not understand the purpose of Hijaab and may try to discourage a Muslim relative from wearing it. Some Muslim women recall being pressured to remove their scarves when running simple errands, or while attending a large event with family and friends because it was considered "embarrassing". This could be a real conundrum for a revert who has her own struggle with the issue of wearing Hijaab. This could be an opportunity to educate your family about the benefits of Hijaab. Enlighten them to the fact that covering has been an integral part of maintaining modesty in other religions as well –including Christianity and Judaism. Ultimately, we seek to please Allaah and have to make decisions that complement that goal.
Balancing religious obligations and family
Muslims can maintain their identity and religious obligations while keeping family ties by being patient, compassionate and kind to non-Muslim relatives even when they are critical, or negative:
Remain humble. Don't treat others as if you are superior to them. Be polite. Accept invitations from family that are within religious principles. This is an opportunity to strengthen family ties. Refuse to be a part of bad behavior, or create dissention.
Be cheerful and pleasant to everyone. We all prefer the company of someone pleasant and happy. A positive attitude is infectious. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was known for being cheerful, smiling pleasantly to everyone. Anyone who spent time with him felt as though he liked him or her best. Our families deserve to know that feeling.
Show mercy to others. Allaah Says (what means): {So by mercy from Allaah, [O Muhammad sallallaahu ‘'alayhi wa sallam], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allaah. Indeed, Allaah loves those who rely [upon Him].} [Quran 3:159]
Many Muslims with non-Muslim family members may be confronted with challenges but they should be considered as opportunities to grow, increase in faith and ultimately earn the pleasure and rewards of Allaah Almighty. When you are attempting to establish good habits and find yourself surrounded by those whose principles are different from yours, you must establish a delicate balance between monitoring your own behavior, and allowing others the freedom to choose their behavior and way of life. As long as their decisions do not directly affect you, it may be best to let things go in the interest of maintaining peace and harmony.
Allaah Almighty Says (what means): {Say: O disbelievers, I worship not what you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion.} [Quran 109:1-6]
For reverts, accepting Islam can be an exciting experience filled with lots of change. Many new Muslims often place lots of pressure on themselves to do everything "right," and may make drastic changes in their lives. Some of these decisions may be necessary, but it is a good idea to remember that Islam calls for moderation in all things. Islam has turned many wayward lives around, bringing an end to lifestyles that included drinking, drugs, promiscuity and even criminal activity. Even though you may never hear it directly, some non-Muslim families may be so impressed by the positive behavior of a Muslim family member, that they may start holding a much higher regard for Islam. We should always strive to exemplify the positive characteristics of our faith. We have an opportunity to show our non-Muslim family members the true, compassionate representation of a Muslim. So give others the freedom to see the benefit of Islam for themselves. Make time to visit and keep in touch with relatives. They are the people closest to us in this life, and can be our greatest allies and support. 

Milestones on the path of dutifulness to parents

There is no doubt that parents play an effective role in preventing their children from being undutiful. As it is known that prevention is better than cure, we advise noble parents who play the greatest role in this important process, to prepare youth and prevent them from being undutiful.
The family is the first incubator where the adolescent grows up and receives an upbringing. Hence, it has a far-reaching effect on the upbringing of children. It is sufficient to know that children act in a way that conforms to their environment. So, the environment forms the way in which the child learns his behavior. If adolescents grow up with a sense of righteousness and gratitude, undoubtedly, this would greatly affect them.
The following are some of the important means that parents should use while building the wall to prevent undutifulness:
1-   Extreme warning: An extreme warning lies in bringing up the children to be undutiful. Perhaps some people wonder about this warning. Yes, there are parents who plant the bomb which soon explodes. For example, some families express happiness when the child grows and is able to speak and move. Consequently, they tell him to beat or insult one of the parents. They mix jest with seriousness causing the disruption of the child’s moral standards. They are not aware that they are implanting in the innocent little child, at a very young age, disrespect to parents. This is the way it has always been, and always will be.
2-   Keenness on teaching the child the parents’ favors: It is a key step on the way of preventing undutifulness. It is to raise the children to be accustomed to respecting and realizing the status and favor of their parents. Ignorance of the status of parents and consequent punishment for being undutiful to them will lead the children to be undutiful.
3-   To be equally dutiful to you: Some parents are trapped in discrimination by favoring some of their children to others. This is plain injustice. Therefore, Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation) strongly forbids this matter and warns of its bad consequences. When Basheer ibn Sa‘d  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him came to the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), to give his son An-Nu‘maan a gift; the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), asked: “‘Did you give all your children gifts like An-Nu‘maan?’ He said, ‘No.’ The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: ‘So, look for another witness. Do you not like them (your children) to be equally dutiful to you?’” [Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
Steps of treatment
After dealing with the gravity of undutifulness and suggesting some methods to prevent it, we should talk about the steps of treatment, which are:
1-   Virtues and punishments: This is one of the foremost steps which the person who seeks dutifulness should have in mind and realize. One could change from one state to another if he finds a strong motive. Undoubtedly, knowing and remembering the fruits of dutifulness will be one of the best incentives to practice it. Similarly, contemplating the bad consequences of undutifulness and the resulting distress and grief in the worldly life before the Hereafter will help one be dutiful and keep away from undutifulness.
2-   Good friends: You should have good friends who correct your mistakes and inform you about the consequences of your actions. If good company is sought in the course of worldly journeys and travel, what should be the case in the travel of the Hereafter where the believer is in greater need to have a righteous helper and an agreeable companion who would be, in relation to his friend, like two hands that wash the other.
They are righteous people who guide you to the way of righteousness and direct you with their kind words if you commit an undutiful or a semi-undutiful act.
Hence, it becomes mandatory to get rid of bad friends who are the reason behind every catastrophe. You should know, especially in this stage of adolescence,  that friends are chosen by the adolescent according to his desire and inclination. The grave problem is that this test often comes spontaneously where the child grows up with a neighbor at school or university. This friend may become the reason behind his undutifulness through absorbing behavior due to frequent interaction over a period of time. So, you should select your friends cautiously and deliberately.
3-   O people of the faith: here, you should ask yourself: Are you faithful? Perhaps, you would quickly answer in the affirmative. This is a good reply; however, to reach such a degree of faithfulness you should read some questions, if your answer is in the affirmative, then, enjoy your faithfulness. Otherwise, you should do your best to make your answers in the affirmative.
- Do you frequently remember your parents’ favors?
- Do you frequently thank them for their care and upbringing?
- Do you supplicate Allaah The Almighty for them in your prayers, going, coming, with your friends and alone?
- Did you ever think about doing something for them and expressing your love and faithfulness?
- Do you quickly blame yourself and rush to serve them whenever you feel that you have fallen short to fulfill their rights?
This is the tip of the iceberg of questions which are well known to faithful people. Subhaan Allaah (Glory be to Allaah!), when a friend does us a favor, we remember it, keep treating him kindly and speaking well of him in his absence by remembering his good qualities. How come that we do not adopt this attitude— which we adopt towards our friends— towards our parents who sacrifice their time so that we can enjoy our times? They spent their money so that we become rich. They spent many nights crying because of our illness. Many times they were preoccupied from life with our needs. There are many of their supplications for us which were answered. How many times do kind parents sit watching their children dreaming of the day on which they become successful Muslim youth, with people delighting in them? By Allaah, these are only a few matters to remember. Is it not time for us to become faithful?
Family role
1-   Understanding the stage: first, I would like to ask why do adolescents clash with their parents. What are the reasons which drive him to argue after he was tractable during his childhood? Why does he tend to independence and individuality in taking decisions?
It seems that the answer is summarized in the fact that the adolescent is living through a new stage. The more parents are able to understand this, the more dutifulness they will get and vice versa. Missing understanding between parents and children is the gravest matter that culminates in undutifulness to parents. Children want to build their own life according to their style and that of their friends. On the other hand, parents look from their own point of view and through their own perspectives of their customs. Hence, each party is on a different wavelength. The deeper understanding of this stage the parents have, the more capable they will be of dealing according to methodology and awareness. By the permission of Allaah, it will result in dutifulness to parents and in having good manners.
We previously clarified that the adolescent in this stage wants to fulfill some needs such as security, acceptance, feeling responsible, and so on. The more the parents are aware of these needs, the stronger and more successful the relation will be. Undoubtedly, such success is topped by dutifulness to parents. Hence, we need to read a lot on the needs of adolescents and how to deal with them.
2-   Stop the conflict: it is important that parents understand that their children during this stage need to feel that their parents value them highly and know that they have moved from childhood to youth. In many cases, we find that the family’s stance towards the child, which may degrade or mock him, increases the child’s tendency to resort to his friends and compound their influence and effect on him.
3-   Feeling rejected followed by loss: It is noteworthy that whenever the adolescent feels acceptance and esteem, he loves his parents more and more. Therefore, the more we accept the basic personal traits of our adolescents, the more they feel at ease with us and their desire to spend time at home increases. Undoubtedly, such a feeling of acceptance and esteem leads to a similar result with the children.

How to Handle Burdens

We all have stress and burdens in our daily lives. Whether it is school or work or just the trials of life, we carry much on our shoulders. Some of us carry our own loads and some of us carry loads that we share with others, such as health problems, personal family issues, financial dilemmas, marital discord, employment troubles, and the list could go on. These burdens that we bear can be heavy. In fact, most of us may say that at one time or another, these burdens are too hard to bear.
But, in Chapter two [Quran 2], Allaah Almighty promises us that we will never have to carry a burden that is greater than what we can bear. So why do we feel then that the burden is too heavy for us to carry? Why do we feel as if we had the weight of the entire world on our shoulders and as if we had more than our share of worries and woes?
We feel this way not because of the weight of the burden, but rather the way we carry it.
Bend at the knees
When we physically carry heavy loads in our arms, we are always told to `bend at the knees' to avoid breaking our backs and injuring our necks. There is great wisdom in ensuring that something is sincerely done in our own best interest, and not just done as a task that we want to get rid of. Likewise, a burden that is carried with little or no care or concern for our own well-being does not make much sense. In a short amount of time, one would `burn out' and be of much less use to the same people that we were intending to help in the first place. So, a burden carried on our shoulders should be carried with care as well, otherwise it could similarly become a `pain in the neck'. In other words, a burden on its own is not such a pain but a mere responsibility; but a burden that is not carried well becomes a pain, a hassle that one harbors reluctantly.
No matter how heavy our burden is, if we carry it with confidence and self respect, we can handle the weight of it and carry it to fruition or to the point that it needs to be carried.
Sometimes, this weight that we carry is for a short period and sometimes it is for a long period; whatever the duration, our attitude determines in large part the outcome. The way that we handle any situation determines how that situation can end. Think about many of the burdens that you may have in your life at this very moment. The way you see them can have a huge impact on the way they affect your life. If you think they are enormous, then you tend to visualize them as such.
If you imagine that it is the end of the world, you would probably feel as if the world was about to come crashing down on you.
Instead, if we can remember at times like this that there is no such thing as a burden too great, we can take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we can handle it. We have to remember that Allaah Almighty Knows what we can handle. After all, He Almighty created us and thus Knows better than anyone else what we can and cannot handle.
Pulling our own weight
In remembering this, it would be better for us to handle our responsibilities not with complaints and grouchiness but with self-restraint and grace. The burdens placed on our shoulders should not weigh us down to the point of immobility. Instead, we can think of them as challenges that we can learn to face and overcome. The reality is that, no matter how bad the situation is, there is always someone out there whose situation is harder than ours. Maybe we can't see that person when we need to, but we need to know that this reality exists and that our own burdens are meant for us. The burden of other people could be much worse.
All of the burdens that we have are a test from Allaah Almighty—we know that already. What we sometimes forget is how to handle those burdens. Usually, we complain about everything that is ‘going wrong’ in our lives. If we can change our perspective and balance those burdens with a stronger back and with a more positive attitude, we will see that the burden is not as heavy as the reward for being grateful for those things that we have in our lives that are going well. 

Enjoining good and forbidding evil

Allaah, the Exalted, Says (what means): "Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma`roof (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.'' [Quran 3:104]
"You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma`roof (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden)''.[Quran 3:110]
"Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don't punish them).''[Quran 7:199]
"Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Daawood (David) and `Eesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allaah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from the Munkar (wrong, evildoing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do".[Quran 5:78, 79]
"…We (i.e. Allaah Almighty) rescued those who forbade evil, and with a severe torment We seized those who did wrong because they used to rebel against Allaah's Command (disobey Allaah)."[Quran 7:165]
Abu Sa`eed Al-Khudri  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him reported: The Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said,"Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is yet unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith". [Muslim]
This Hadeeth (narration) contains a very important prescription to prevent the Muslim society from all things which are forbidden in Islam. So long as Muslims adhered to it and ceaselessly and fearlessly performed their obligation of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, their society was largely safe from many evils and sins.
Nu`maan Ibn Basheer, May Allaah be pleased with him, reported: The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allaah and that of the man who transgresses them is like a group of people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper (deck). Those who are in its lower (deck), when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck, and say to them: `If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm you.' If they (the occupants of the upper deck) leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe".[Al-Bukhaari]
We learn from this Hadeeth that the consequences of committing actswhich are forbidden in Islam are not confined only to those persons who commit them, but the whole society has to suffer the consequences. It is, therefore, essential that the people who are in the habit of committing sinful acts and violate Divine injunctions, should be checked to save the whole society from destruction. If this is not done, the entire society will have to face the Divine punishment.
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, "Beware of sitting on roads (paths).'The audience said: "We have them as sitting places.'' The Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, "If you have to sit there, then observe the rights of the way". They asked, "What are the rights of the way?'' He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, "To lower your gaze (on seeing what is illegal to look at), removal of harmful objects from the way, returning greetings, and enjoining good and forbidding wrong". [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
This Hadeeth tells us that it is improper to sit on roadsides and passages in such a way, which causes inconvenience to the people who pass by. It is really very unfortunate that now we do not care about such things at all. If sitting on the roadside is indispensable, then it is essential to observe the requirements mentioned in the Hadeeth.
Some Islamic etiquette mentioned in this Hadeeth have also been stated in other Ahadeeth (pl. or Hadeeth). For instance, politeness of speech, sharing of someone's burden, helping the oppressed and the troubled, guiding the wayward person to the right path, answering (in the prescribed manner) one who sneezes, etc.
`Abdullaah Ibn `Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them reported: The Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saw a man wearing a gold ring. So he (the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )) pulled it off and threw it away, saying, "One of you takes a live coal, and puts it on his hand?!'' It was said to the man after the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) had left: "Take your ring (of gold) and utilize it,'' whereupon he said: "No, by Allaah, I would never take it after the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) has thrown it away". [Muslim]
We learn from this Hadeeth that wearing gold rings (and other golden ornaments) is prohibited for men. Unfortunately, it has become a popular fashion nowadays for men to wear gold rings to signify their marriage, which is a very dangerous custom that must be shunned.
`Aa'idh Ibn `Amr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him visited `Ubaidillaah Ibn Ziyaad (the ruler) and said to him: "Son, I heard the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saying, 'The worst shepherds (rulers) are those who deal harshly in respect of supervision. Beware, don't be one of them!''' Ibn Ziyaad said to him, "Sit down, you are but a husk from among the Companions of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) '' `Aa'idh Ibn `Amr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him retorted: "Was there any husk among them? Surely, husk came after them and among others than them". [Muslim]
This Hadeeth presents a model of courage and boldness of speaking the truth before a tyrant. It was displayed by `Aa'idh in the court of 'Ubaidillaah Ibn Ziyaad, governor of Basrah. The latter humiliated `Aa'idh may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him the righteous preacher, for his straight forwardness and truth but he repeated his statement about the eminence of the Companions of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and said none of them could be called husk.
Huthaifah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him reported: The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, "By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allaah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted"[At-Tirmithi]
To abandon the practice of enjoining virtue and forbidding vice is likely to incur the displeasure of Allaah and the rejection of prayers and supplications.

Who are the Mahrams of a Woman?

When people distance themselves from the instructions of Islam and the rulings of religion -- especially those which guard chastity and the ‘Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered), prevent mixing of progeny and other immoral acts -- they fall into the pit of vice and immorality. This is encouraged by the enemies of Islam who try to control women with all the possible means until they lead them astray and strip them of their modesty, under the pretext of "liberating" them. In reality, they wanted to liberate women from their religion, modesty, and chastity.
As a ruling of Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation), a woman has to know who her Mahrams (non-marriageable men) are, so as to guard herself and her religion.
The following question was raised to An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him: “Who is the woman whom a man is permitted to look at and meet her in seclusion?”
An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him replied, “It is every woman whom he is permanently forbidden to marry due to a permissible reason because of her unlawfulness.”
“Permanently” is said to exclude the wife’s sister and her like, namely her paternal aunt, maternal aunt, and her daughter if the marital contract is concluded with the mother yet the marriage has not been consummated with her.
“Due to a permissible reason” excludes the mother and her daughter with whom a man had sexual intercourse mistakenly believing that it was lawful. The mother and her daughter are permanently forbidden, not because of a permissible reason, but because doubtful intercourse which is neither described as permissible nor unlawful, because the man was oblivious and thus, incompetent to receive religious commitment at that time.
“Because of her unlawfulness” excludes the woman who is involved in Li‘aan (oath of condemnation). This woman is permanently forbidden to remarry (her ex-husband) as an act of punishment, not because she is unlawful for him. Allaah knows best.” [The Fataawaa that is known as Al-Manthooraat by An-Nawawi, question no. 223.]
Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women.} [Quran 24:31]
As regards “their fathers” up to the end of the verse, &Ibn Katheer&&  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “These are all Mahrams for the woman who, therefore, is allowed to appear to them in her adornment without excessive display of beauty.”
Explanation of Mahrams:
• Their fathers: The woman’s father.
• Their husbands’ fathers: The husband’s father and grandfathers, up to all levels.
• Their sons: The woman’s sons down to all levels, and also the sons of daughters down to all levels.
• Their husbands’ sons: Male sons of the husband, including grandsons down to all degrees, whether they are sons of the husband’s sons or daughters.

• Their brothers: The woman’s brother
• Their brothers’ sons: The brother’s sons down to all degrees.
• Their sisters’ sons: The sister’s sons down to all degrees.
• Their women: Muslim, not polytheistic women, according to the preponderant opinion.
• That which their right hands possess: This may mean either:
bondmaids or bondmen.
• Male attendants having no physical desire: They are men who are not at the same level as the women and have no interest in or desire for women; or the oblivious person who has no desire; an imbecile; and, an impotent man. The eunuch who can describe women is excluded.
• Children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women: Because they are so young they do not understand anything about women or their ‘Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered). If a child is young and does not understand that, there is nothing wrong with him entering upon women, but if he is an adolescent or approaching adolescence, so that he knows and understands these things, and can make a distinction between a woman who is beautiful and one who is not, then he should not enter upon women.

First benefit:
Are a woman’s paternal and maternal uncles her Mahrams?
Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The majority of scholars held that the maternal and paternal uncles of a woman are like other Mahrams in that they are allowed to see of the woman what is permissible for them to see.”

Second benefit:
Is the daughter’s husband a Mahram for her mother?
Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The majority of scholars held that the wife’s mother becomes forbidden to be married to a person once he concludes the marital contract with her daughter.”
Third benefit:
Is the mother’s husband a Mahram for her daughter (i.e. his stepdaughter)?
A mother’s husband (the stepfather) is not a Mahram for her daughter except on two conditions, as Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Al-Fat’h, “The prohibition of marrying a stepdaughter is stipulated by two things:
o She must be under the guardianship of the man
o The man should have consummated the marriage with her mother.
Therefore, the stepfather is not a Mahram to his step-daughter if only one of the two conditions exists.”

This view was adopted by Daawood ibn ‘Ali and his companions, chosen by Ibn Hazm, narrated by Abu Al-Qaasim Ar-Raafi‘i on the authority of Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. However, Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him found it dubious and did not hold a certain opinion regarding it.
Finally, the majority of scholars held that the stepdaughter is unlawful to her stepfather in marriage, whether she was under his guardianship or not. Please check Tafseer ibn Katheer and Fat’h Al-Baari.