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15 Beautiful Ramadan Photos 2017 / 1438 AH

Man makes dua on a boulder in Kashmir, India.

Man makes dua on a boulder in Kashmir, India. Very beautiful subhanAllah.

It is the holy month of Ramadan, and Muslims all over the world are fasting, sacrificing, praying,
and striving for Allah’s pleasure. Here’s a selection of lovely photos of Muslims all over the world in Ramadan:

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Man divorces wife for not closing car door

Saudi woman beside a car

Reprinted from the Arab News
JEDDAH: FOUZIA KHAN | Published — Thursday 25 September 2014

Islam forbids Muslims from divorcing out of anger or for petty reasons, but this injunction did not stop a Saudi man from leaving his wife because she refused to close their car door, according to recent reports in local media and on social networking sites.

The couple reportedly went out on a picnic and when they returned home, the wife got out, helped their children to do so and then moved to go into their house.

Her husband then called out for her to close the door, but she refused, saying he should do so because he was closer to it. Incensed at her reply, the husband reportedly said: “You are forbidden to me and should not enter my home if you do not close the door.”

The woman then reportedly left and returned to her father’s house. Many people have tried to reconcile the couple, but the woman has rejected all attempts, saying that she does not want to remain married to such an “irresponsible” man

Arab News spoke to well-known Saudi Sheikh Asim Al-Hakim on the matter, who said that the divorce is valid based on the man’s actions.

Al-Hakim explained that there are direct and indirect divorces. Direct divorce can occur even if a person jokes about it. Indirect divorce is based on intent.

“Intention is very important in such cases, but such behavior is irresponsible.” He said Islam has given men a great deal of responsibility to act correctly under these circumstances. “So a man should be very careful about his actions,” he said.

He said a judge can issue a final verdict in such cases. He warned that people should not act hastily and in anger.

According to a study conducted by Aleqtesadiah newspaper, there are 2.5 divorce cases for every 1,000 men above the age of 15.

There were 30,000 divorces in 2012, averaging 82 a day, or three an hour. In earlier reports, the Ministry of Economy and Planning confirmed that while courts and marriage officials register around 70,000 marriage contracts annually, they also process more than 13,000 divorces.
The study also showed that the Kingdom ranked second among Gulf Cooperation Council countries in terms of divorces after Bahrain, where the rate is 2.7 for every 1,000 people. The same study showed an upward trend in divorce cases in 2012 compared with 2010, when there were 75 a day.

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Mother’s Day in Islam

Muslim mother and child

Mother and child reading Quran.

Answered by Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah
Reprinted from VirtualMosque.com

The Question

Can I Celebrate Mother’s Day in Islam?

The Answer

The short answer is that it is permissible and there is no harm in it.

To continue:

Man is the creation of Allah. Allah Most High has honored man for his humanity: He molded him with His own hands, breathed into them from His Spirit, ordered the angels prostrate to him, and expelled Satan from His mercy because the latter arrogantly refused to obey his Lord’s command to prostrate to man. Respecting humanity is one of the angelic characteristics that forms foundation of Muslim civilization. Dishonoring, humiliating, and disdaining humans are provocations of Satan that shake the very foundations of civilization.

Allah says “Whoever chooses Satan for a patron instead of Allah is verily a loser and his loss is manifest.” (Qur’an 4:119)

“Will ye choose him [Satan] and his seed for your protecting friends instead of Me [Allah] when they are an enemy unto you? Calamitous is the exchange for evil doers!” (Qur’an, 18:50)

Just as Islam honors individuals from the perspective of their humanity without looking at their sex, race, or color, it has also added another form of respect associated with the various type of roles Allah gave them appropriate to their God-given characteristics. This additional form of respect includes respecting one’s parents whom Allah has made a cause for one’s existence, joining thanking them with thanking Him.

Allah says: “And We enjoined upon man concerning his parents. His mother begot him in weakness upon weakness and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying.” (Qur’an, 31:14)

In the Qur’an, Allah coupled His worship with kindness and respect to one’s parents saying:

“Your Lord decreed that you worship none save Him and (that you show) kindness to parents.” (Qur’an, 17:23)

This is because Allah made them the apparent cause for existence. Thus, one’s parents are the greatest worldly manifestation of the characteristic of creation.

The Prophet designated mothers as the ones most worthy of excellent companionship. Indeed, in this he gave them precedence over fathers.

Abu Hurayrah relates that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said, “Which person is the most worthy of my excellent companionship?”

He replied, “Your mother.”

The man asked, “Then who?”

The Prophet said, “Your mother.”

Then the man said, “Then who?”

The Prophet replied, “Your mother.”

Then the man said, “Then who?”

The Prophet said, “Your father.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)

Muslim mother and child

The Mother Child Relationship

Islamic Law affirms that the relationship between a child and its mother is a natural, organic relationship. So his relationship to her is not dependent upon whether she bore him within marriage or out of wedlock—indeed, she is his mother in all circumstances. This is contrary to paternity, which can only be established through legal means.

Respecting one’s Mother Implies and the Ruling?

Respecting one’s mother includes: taking care of her physical well-being, honoring her and treating her well. Nothing in the Shari’a prohibits an occasion in which children express honoring their mothers. This is merely a matter of organization. There is nothing wrong with it and it bears no connection to the issue of innovation about which so many people murmur. Rejected innovations are new things which are contrary to the Shari’a, since the Prophet said, “Whoever creates something new in this affair of ours which is foreign to it, it is rejected.” (Bukhari and Muslim). The divergent meaning is that whoever innovates something which is not foreign to it, it will be accepted and not rejected.

The Prophet approved when the Arabs celebrated national commemorations and tribal victories in which they would sing of their tribal feats and their victories days. Imam Bukhari and Muslim narrate in a hadith that ‘A’ishah said: “Abu Bakr came to see me. I had two young girls with me who were singing what was sung at the Battle of Bu’ath.” In addition, prophetic narrations note that the Prophet visited the grave of his mother Aminah and that he was never seen to cry more than on that day. (al-Hakim)

The Meaning of Motherhood

Muslim mother and sonIn the Arabic language, the word ‘mother’ refers to the source, to a habitat, to the chief, and to the servant of a people who takes care of their food and serves them. This last meaning was related from Imam al-Shafi’I, who was among the experts of Arabic language. Ibn Durayd said, “That to which all other things around it are ascribed to it is called a ‘mother’.” Because of this, Mecca is dubbed ‘Mother of cities’ since it is in the center of the world and the direction to which people face [in prayer], and because it is the most significant city of all.

Since language is the vessel for thought, for Muslims the immediate sense of word is associated with that person whom Allah made the source for an individual human’s formation, who then sheltered him, took care of his nurturing and upbringing; was endowed with love to care for him and to look after his needs. In all of this, it is the mother who is instilled with the affection and mercy to which her children seek comfort.

Just as this meaning is clear in the original linguistic meaning of the word and words derived from its linguistic root, our literature clarifies and evidences this further with the compound-word silat al-rahim [lit. womb-ties] in that this physiological attribute found in mothers has been made a symbol for maintaining family relationships which form the foundational elements for building human society. The most rightful and most deserving for this ascription is none other than the mother, who is the reason life continues and families are formed and is the outward manifestation of mercy.

This matter reaches its fullness and perfection with that magnificent religious sense portrayed by the chosen, beloved Prophet in his saying, “Family ties cling to the Throne, saying ‘Allah unites whoever united me, and severs whoever severed me.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

There is a hadith qudsi wherein Allah Mighty and Majestic says, “I am Allah and I am the Compassionate. I created family ties and I derived My name from the womb. I unite whoever unites them, and I will sever whoever severed them.”

The Prophet said, “In Abdullah bin Jud’an’s house, I witnessed a treaty [so great] not even the most prized camel would be dearer to me, and if I had been called to participate in it in Islam I would had answered.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

So according to this, celebrating Mothers’ Day is religiously permissible; there is nothing that prevents it and there is no harm in it. Rejected innovations are innovations which are in contradiction to the Shari’a. Things whose basis the Shari’a sanctions cannot be rejected and there is no sin upon the person who does them.

And Allah Majestic and Most High knows best.

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New Book, “Sex Education for Muslims”, Angers Pakistanis

Reprinted from the BBC News, Islamabad

Doctor’s Book on Sex Education Infuriates Pakistani Muslims

Dr Mobin Akhtar

Dr Mobin Akhtar says there is nothing un-Islamic about discussing sex.

Dr Mobin Akhtar is on a mission to educate Pakistanis in sexual matters, but his latest attempt to do so has caused controversy.

The release of his book – Sex Education for Muslims – aims to teach people about sex in a way that is in keeping with Islamic instruction.

Dr Akhtar, 81, says the fact that sex is not discussed in Pakistan is having serious repercussions. As a psychiatrist, he says he has witnessed them himself, and that is why he felt the need to write his book.

“There’s a huge problem in our country,” he says. “Adolescents, especially boys, when they get to puberty, and the changes that come with puberty, they think it’s due to some disease.

“They start masturbating, and they are told that is very dangerous to health, and that this is sinful, very sinful.”

‘Misconceptions’

Dr Akhtar says he has seen cases where teenagers, not understanding what is happening to their bodies, have become depressed and even committed suicide.

“I myself passed through that stage with all these concerns, and there’s no-one to tell you otherwise, and that these are wrong perceptions. It was only when I entered medical college that I found out that these were all misconceptions.”

"Sex Education for Muslims"

“Sex Education for Muslims”

He says even now in Pakistan, many doctors do not discuss sexual matters openly, and that teachers and parents are embarrassed about the issues. There is no sex education teaching in government schools.

Dr Akhtar says it is not seen as appropriate to broach the subject of sex in the conservative culture of Pakistan, and that it is also felt that doing so might encourage young people to behave in an “un-Islamic” way.

“They ask me when you should start sex education, and I say as soon as the child can talk. They should be told the names of the genitals just as they are told about hands and eyes and ears, and nose,” he says.

“When they get a little bigger and they ask where a child comes from, you can say it. That doesn’t make the child sexually active or immoral.”

Dr Akhtar says there is also nothing un-Islamic about discussing sex.

He says he felt that the best way to help people understand that was to write a book which brought together basic sex education with information about the Islamic perspective on the subject.

“When I started to study what the Koran, Islamic law and religious scholars had to say about it, I realised there is so much discussion about sex in Islam. One would be surprised.

“There are sayings from the Prophet Muhammad about sexual matters, and historical sources tell us he answered detailed queries on the subject from both men and women.”

The writings in Dr Akhtar’s book are interspersed with quotes from the Prophet Muhammad, and also from the Koran, like this one: “You are allowed intercourse at night with your wives during the month of fasting. They are as intimate for you as your own clothes, and vice versa.” (Koran, Surah Baqra, Verse 187)

‘Quack’

Among many other topics, Dr Akhtar writes of the Islamic thinking about masturbation, marital problems and how a man should wash himself after having sex so that he is clean enough to perform prayers.

But many Pakistanis have found Dr Akhtar’s book unpalatable.

Pakistani children have no access to sex education

Pakistani children have no access to sex education.

He tried to tone down the title – Sex Education for Muslims is the name of the English version of the book, in Urdu the title is Special Problems for Young People.

But that has not been enough to appease some.

“I have had threats. Even other doctors have accused me of acting like a maverick, a quack,” he says.

“A provincial politician even hauled me into his office and said I was encouraging pornography. I explained I was doing nothing of the sort.”

Dr Akhtar says he has found very few bookshops willing to stock his book, or any newspapers that will print paid advertisements for it.

“It is a very sad reaction. Ignorance about sexual matters is causing a lot of our young people unnecessary psychological distress, and we have to change that.

“I am only talking about educating people gradually and sensitively, but at the moment we are not even doing that.”

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Goha, His Son and the Donkey

Man riding a donkey.

A Palestinian native of Bethlehem on his Donkey. This color photochrome print was created between 1890 and 1900 in the West Bank.

Zawaj.com Humor Files

Goha and his son were on their way to a nearby village. The son rode their donkey while Goha walked alongside. On the way they passed some people who pointed at Goha and his son. “Look at that ungrateful boy, they said.” He is riding the donkey and his poor old father is walking.”

When he heard this, Goha said, “You get off the donkey and I’ll ride.” Soon they passed another group of people who said, “Look at that heartless man. He is riding the donkey and his poor young son is walking,”

Goha thought about this. “Get on the donkey, we’ll both ride it,” he said. Again Goha and his son passed by some people who pointed at them. “Look at those people abusing that poor donkey. How cruel,” they said.

Goha thought about this as well. “Let’s both get off the donkey,” he said to his son, and so they both walked alongside it. The people they passed by looked at pointed. This time they said, “Look at those fools, walking along when they have a donkey they could ride!”

After some thought, Goha said, “I have a good idea. We’ll carry it!” As they walked on another group of people looked at them staggering under the weight of the donkey. They pointed. “Look at those fools,” they said. “They are carrying a donkey instead of riding it!”

Goha turned to his son and said, “See, my son, how hard it is to please everyone?”

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Saudi Woman’s Female-Only Electronics Repair Business Thrives

Mariam Al-Subaie repairing electronics

Mariam Al-Subaie, successful business owner.

RIYADH — A Saudi woman’s startup has so far repaired 49,000 electronic devices successfully for female customers.

Mariam Al-Subaie said her dream was to serve her country with her knowledge and skills.

“There is a big opportunity in the market. Many women who seek to repair their mobile phones and laptops fear to take them to repair shops run by men because they don’t want to expose private documents and pictures of family members saved in the devices to strangers,” said Al-Subaie. Al-Subaie said technology was her passion.

“I graduated from Arts School but I had always been intrigued by the electronics. I was inspired by the German inventor Konrad Zuse who invented the world’s first programmable computer in 1941,” said Al-Subaie, who started her business to primarily serve women in society.

She added it was important for her to thrive and prosper while sticking to Saudi traditions and customs.

“Privacy is an important issue in Saudi society. I would like to tell all the women in Riyadh that they do not have to compromise their privacy while engaging in any trade. I receive 90 to 120 mobile phones each day. I also receive laptops and other devices to repair,” said Al-Subaie.

She added that she employs a team of women technicians and electrical engineers.

“My team is my backbone. We all have the same vision and we want to serve our country by doing what we love. I encourage other women to do the same in my city or other cities of the Kingdom. As women, we need to stand up on our own feet,” said Al-Subaie.

She said her startup is only the beginning of her goals in life. “I aspire to become an inspiration for all the women in my society. I would like the younger generation of girls to know about me and decide to take steps to give back to their society,” said Al-Subaie.

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The problem with Muslim weddings today – and three crazy ideas for fixing it!

So crazy, it just might work!

So crazy, it just might work!

Author Unknown – Edited by Zawaj.com for clarity

Assalamu Alaykom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

So here goes…

There’s a disturbing pattern/tendency to be found in Muslim weddings these days. People waste too much money!

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that the least blessed weddings/waleemas are the ones were the rich are invited and the poor are not. And these days we’re seeing people who are spending tens of thousands of pounds on a wedding and they’re only inviting SOME of their friends.

Just some.

So it’s not just that they’re only inviting their friends, it’s that they’re inviting SOME of them.

This is really quite sad.

And of course, because they’re only inviting some, they don’t want to offend the others, so they don’t even tell them until AFTER the big event.

Which is even more offensive !

That’s the irony of lacking approval though – you get that which you were trying to run away from.

Why do they do this ?

1. “It’s MY big day.”

Actually, in Islam, the waleema is supposed to be for ish-har (to make the knowledge of your union public)
… so actually, it’s the community’s day.

Secondly, who benefits more? You or the hotel that’s receiving your 10 grand? So it’s not your big day, it’s the hotel’s big day.

2. “I want this to be the best day of my life!”

Are you sure about that? There will inshaAllah be many more days after you get married. Are you sure that you want them to be not as good as the day of your wedding?! Sounds like a bad deal to me!

And it probably will be the best day of your life with that attitude:

  • you will lose friends
  • the husband and his family, and maybe even the bride’s family are now steeped in debt and the stress makes it hard to enjoy your actual marriage and each others company!

3. “We can’t afford to invite everyone.”

Well, sure, if you’re giving all your money to a 5-star hotel, then it’s going to be kinda hard to invite everyone. They charge you per seat, so now people even say ‘no children’. Cos why should they pay for a full adult meal when the 3 yr old isn’t going to eat a full meal – let alone even know what’s happening! So now parents have to decide which one of their children goes and which one stays. Or they just respect themselves and none of them go.

The above 3 points and all their sub-points are just SOME of the problems that come with modern day marriages.

Just some.

Now imagine it differently:

Imagine that you didn’t so badly lack approval for yourself that you needed to be Cinderella.

Imagine that you didn’t lack approval for yourself that you felt obliged to pay so much money just to prove that “you’re worth it” (just buy some Loreal shampoo!)

Now here are three “crazy” ideas for fixing the whole problem:

1. Have the wedding in the mosque

  1. You give that same $10,000 you were going to spend to a mosque, even though they would only ask for $1,000 or $2,000.
  2. Non-Muslim friends come and it’s dawah.
  3. The mosque benefits and is able to provide more services.
  4. You are rewarded for every person that prays during your wedding, that wouldn’t have in the hotel.
  5. It’s still much cheaper than a hotel.

2. Employ Muslims

You want the place to look amazing, so why not employ low-wage local Muslims to set the hall up for you? You’ll be making their lives MUCH easier with that additional money and whoever brings a smile to a Muslim family, Allah (swt) finds NOTHING to give him/her worthy of that smile that’s less than JANNAH!

… no actually, maybe you want to do it in that big hotel and only invite 50 of your closest friends/family and fight about who gets invited !!! (sarcasm).

The thing about Hollywood weddings is that most of them end in divorce. …Good luck with that !

3. Don’t pay per head !

Just go to a Muslim catering company and ask to feed 300 people. It’ll come to the same price as the 50 that the hotel were going to charge you for! And all those people will make dua for you, and the barakah will mean that 300 people’s worth of food will probably feed about 700 !! … rich and poor.

Or… get the local Muslim community to cook it for you !! Buy high quality food, organic chicken, nice lamb, organic vegetables, and get them to cook it for you !

Pay them per hour. That’s even cheaper, and you’re employing your brothers and sisters, and the community becomes cohesive.

SubhanAllah… marriage.

Marriage… that which is meant to bring two families together and glue society together has now become a reason not to invite people !!

That’s disgusting.

There’s something else:  Why should you invite people by name? Why should you pay stupid money to print cards and then deliver them ? Facebook, tweet, tell everyone to tell everyone else… and make it an open invite.

If anyone finds this offensive (that they didn’t receive a card)… well you could employ your local gangster to stand by you on your big day and to answer those people back for you.

And don’t just invite the poor Muslims. Take it even further! How many homeless NON-MUSLIMS exist within the district/area that the mosque resides in? There are homeless people two streets away from the white house ! I’m sure there are some near your mosque too! In Western countries, these homeless people will see the joy that comes from Muslims…

… THIS is dawah.

NOT annoying people on the street with a stall:   “What if you die tonight as you think about it? … say the shahadah now !!!”

lol. such low calibre dawah. Better than no dawah I guess.

Marriage. Everyone repeats with an accent as they bop their heads left to right: “marriage is half of your path.” Do it this way and the blessings from it will create your akhira (here-after) insha Allah. Bless your union, bless your life, bless your community, bless your here-after … with a blessed wedding. (the opposite is true also).

Learn to think this way by eliminating your whims and desires.

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Conversations with a Pregnant Wife, Part 3: What’s in a Name?

Choosing a baby name.

Choosing a baby name is not always easy.

By Yasser Aboudouma
Writer, Civil Engineer – Egypt

Part 1: “Honey, I have a craving!”
Part 2: Watch out, she’s moody!

Husbands, you have reached the final stage of the pregnancy marathon! The last three months of pregnancy can be called the months of mass destruction. The pregnant wife will be fond of knowing the baby’s gender; you too, of course. She will start shopping for the baby. She will have emotional “alterations” — in some cases, depression!

Month Seven (Boy/Girl)

Sure, the doctor can tell the baby’s gender. It is common in Egypt that most families dream that the first baby is a boy, which means your wife will dream of that too

Wife: That doctor is really weird. She is telling us “may be a boy, may be a girl.” What does she mean that the baby can be a girl? I want a baby boy, and all my friends and family are prepared for that. If we had gone to a male doctor from the beginning, he would have told us, easily, whether the baby is a girl or a boy.

Wife: Huh! I need to think about baby girl names. What you do think? Layla, Dalia, or Du`aa’? or let’s call her after my close friend. You know, I want her name to be unique — something that combines Arab, Egyptian, Western, Islamic, and Pharaonic cultures all in one name!

Husband: (teasing her) Don’t worry about the name. we’ll give her the name “Saffron.” I’ll complete all the official paperwork before you leave the operation room after delivery.

Wife: WHAT? Saf … what? No, please. Let me choose her name. I want to name her after my mom, your mom, or your sister — just don’t choose that name.

Of course, the name choice argument will give you some power to control her mood, but remember, don’t use it too much ; otherwise, you will find yourself flying out of the window!

Month Eight (Clothes)

Various researches describe this month in different ways, but they all agree that the pregnant woman wants to buy the entire world for her baby. She will feel jealous if she knows or hears about other mothers buying something for their babies, and she will do her best to buy the same or better. You as a husband have to accept that and get prepared to spend your savings on it. Husbands, never ever dream of saying “no” or complaining if she asks for baby shopping.

Wife: My colleague came to work with her baby today, and the baby wore a very sweet, pretty outfit that made her look like a princess. In the evening, I’ll go shopping.

Husband: OK! We can shop at the weekend.

Wife: Thank you, honey. I knew you would agree, so today I bought fancy brand-name clothes for her from that famous store. Our daughter must get the best!

Husband: I thought we were going to do the shopping together.

Wife: Don’t worry. There’s still a lot to buy. Hey, see this is a shampoo for the baby when she sleeps and that shampoo is for when she wakes up. These are diapers from the US, and this is a brush for her hair.

Husband: WHAT? Shampoo for what? How do you know that the baby wants to sleep or not to and how to decide ahead of time which shampoo to use? You might bathe her with shampoo used for waking up and then she will want to sleep… oh yes, then you’ll wake her up quickly and give her a shower with the right shampoo?

Who told you that the baby will be born with hair; as I understand it, a lot of babies are born without any hair, so that hairbrush is useless. In addition, why did you buy diapers made in the US? What’s wrong with the ones made in Egypt? It’s just a diaper, not a fancy thing!

Wife: Arrrgh! Don’t worry, babies know the right shampoo! She’ll sense which is the correct one and then act accordingly; that’s what’s written on the bottle. And I got the US-made diapers because I want my daughter to feel unique. Anyway, I bought three towels for the baby, one to use after shower, the second to dry her as the first one will be wet, and the third to cover her the second we are sure she is properly dried. Also, I got her hair clips, skin cream — one for night and the other for the morning, three pair of shoes, socks, underwear, and four dresses.

Husband: Are you sure you’re shopping for a baby, not a girl who is getting ready for marriage?! By the way, did you buy her a make-up box? There’s something especially for babies. You have to run to buy it now, and don’t forget the baby’s teeth brush, too!

Muslim family

Wife: Oh my God! You’re right, I really forgot that. I’ll arrange with my mom and sister to go out with me to complete my shopping.

Wife: By the way, you have to be more careful; my close friend told me that anger and nervousness are not good for pregnancy. Today at the meeting, all my colleagues were perfectly behaved; once any one just thought about arguing with me, I told them that I was in the eighth month and the baby would be delivered prematurely if I argue! There were no arguments, and the meeting ended in 10 minutes!

Husband: I think you’ll get fired soon.

Days pass slowly, and the pregnant wife returns home with many things she bought from different stores. The husband gets used to seeing his wife sitting on the floor and spreading all the baby’s stuff around her to check, kiss, hug them and find out what is missing!

Month Nine

Husbands, congratulations! You’re in the ninth month. You have waited eight months to reach that final month. You controlled your temper throughout, you worked and helped with the housework, And you are tired; you deserve some relaxation.

The pregnant wife knows that the time of her being spoiled will end; finally, she will be responsible for a baby, so she will start acting as poorly, trying to show you that she is weak and powerless. Do understand that she is worried about delivering her baby — it is her first time, and she knows virtually nothing about giving birth. So you will have to –be, even more, patient!

Wife: Honey, I feel sorry for you! The past eight months have been very hard for you. I rarely cooked and you stopped eating dinner, while your breakfast was just a cake; you lost 20 kg. I have to cook today. I’ll make a surprise for you. I’ll boil some eggs and prepare white cheese, but would you please prepare the salad for us?!

Husband: … .

Wife: Do you think I’ll deliver the baby naturally or will there be a C-section? You know, most of my pregnant friends had a cesarean. Maybe my doctor will deliver it naturally as she is a female doctor.

Husband: Ah yep, but the doctor’s gender doesn’t affect the type of delivery.

Wife: Anyway, I prepared two suite cases for the baby and me.

A natural phenomenon: All pregnant women become nice and kind to their husbands just a few days before giving birth. So be careful, because that kindness will turn to hell if you were at work while she starts labor.

Wife: OHHH, HELP! Mom, Father, Brother, Sister, Uncles, Aunts, United Nations, Egyptian people, the Universe, … any one! Help me, I’m in pain! The baby!

Wife: (addressing her husband) Honey, I’m in pain, tell that doctor to give me any painkiller. I can’t handle it any more. I feel weak. Promise me if anything happens to me, never ever get married again! Don’t give our baby a stepmother. Please, promise me!

Husband: You’ll be fine, and everything will be OK. It happens to all women; you’re not the first one. Just a few minutes from now, and you’ll hold in your arms a sweet baby girl.

Wife: Did you bring a video camera with you? Don’t take any shots from my left-hand side; my right side is more photogenic! Choose good angles for the shots, I want to look pretty in the video. Take shots while I’m not screaming and before my face appears in the video screen, just tell me to smile.

Husband: We’re recording the birth of our baby, not making a movie! You’ll be in the operation room, and you won’t care about anything of that sort.

Wife: Labor hurts. I’m crazy and stupid; I don’t want to get pregnant again. This is the first and last time. If anyone had told me about that pain, I would’ve never thought about marriage.

A big scream from the pregnant woman calls for the baby to come out and get introduced into this world to join the mother’s community.

Wife: Honey, what is the gender of the baby?

Husband: What? The baby is a girl. We knew that a long time ago.

Wife: Yipeeee… I thought the doctor would change her mind. Is she pretty?

He: (Teasing her) Who, the doctor? Yes, very.

Wife: No, silly! I mean the baby.

Husband: Oh! yes, she’s very, very pretty.

Wife: OK, next time we’ll have a baby boy. Now tell them I want to hold her.

Husband: (in amazement) Next time? You just said … You were … What happened? Women! Women! Women!

Husbands, don’t worry. Pregnant women are all like that — in a state of confusion and amazement. And they will continue to be like that until the last second of their lives. Congratulations!

Part 1: Honey, I Have a Craving!
Part 2:  Watch Out, She’s Moody!
Part 3:  What’s in a Name?

***

Yasser Aboudouma is an Egyptian-Canadian who lives between Cairo and Ontario. He holds a B.Sc. in engineering and a diploma in project management. He is interested in issues of social and cultural differences.

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From Heinz 57 to Islam

Heinz 57 ketchup

Before Islam, Mary was a “Heinz 57” of religion

Zawaj.com Editor’s comment: I want to state clearly that I don’t approve of the way sister Mary went about things here. She and Ahmed carried on a secret affair and were unfaithful to their spouses (in spirit, if not in deed). I understand that she was abused by her first husband, and I’m happy that things worked out for her, Alhamdulillah – if indeed they have worked out. But it could easily have been disastrous. She could have ended up in a secret relationship, not given her full rights, and with a new husband she could not trust. With that said, here’s the story:

By Mary Farrag

Reprinted from ReadingIslam.com

Before reverting to Islam I was, well, let’s say Heinz 57 (Editor’s note: for those of you not familar with American colloquialisms, Heinz 57 is a sauce with a lot of different ingredients – in other words, a mix).

I was baptized Catholic, made my confirmation as a Lutheran, and we attended whatever church was near to our house. Which probably turned out to be a good thing.

I left my family’s house when I was the age of 17. As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved into the one bedroom apartment that my boyfriend had. We only lived there for a very short time. Then we moved to a larger apartment.

At this time I really wasn’t going to church anymore because I was too busy working for God. My boyfriend wasn’t religious at all. Actually he was agnostic. Always, he needed things proven to him.

Well, eventually we married but never had any children. We stayed together a total of 18 years.

I didn’t know anything about Islam at all until my current husband wanted to start chatting with me. We were both using a program called Freetel. I don’t think it is even available anymore.

I was used to chatting with many people but never chatted with an Arab. One night I saw on the top of the screen: Ahmed is Calling. I had never even heard of this name before, so I was reluctant to accept the chat.

After a few times of him trying to call me, I accepted. We started off with the usual chat. Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have any children? Then we continued from there.

We were both very unhappy in our marriages. So we became friends. After six months of chatting everyday, I decided that I needed to know this man that I was now in love with. So I came to Egypt and stayed for 23 days.

It was confirmed that yes, we were actually in love. Neither one of us could imagine this was true. We toured most places in Cairo and some parts of Alexandria. At this time, I still didn’t know very much about Islam.

So after the 23 days, I returned to USA. My visit to Cairo confirmed what I needed to do. I needed to get a divorce from my current American husband.

He was very bad to me. He physically and emotionally abused me. During the next six months I was away from Ahmed and fell into a very deep depression.

Learning About Islam

Also during that time, Ahmed, now my husband, started to tell me about Islam. I was interested in anything he had to say.

I was working for low income public housing at the time of all of this. One day, one of my tenants came into the office to pay her monthly rent. Her name is Aminah.

She said to me “Miss Mary, you look different, something has changed in you.”

I told her about my trip and how I was in love with an Egyptian man who was a Muslim. She said that it was so cool. She said that her mom also is a Muslim and she asked me if I would like to meet her mom.

So I agreed and I met Rashida and we instantly got along. She also was a revert, but had reverted 25 years ago. So we started to meet more often, and she also started to teach me about Islam. So between Ahmed and Rashida, I became very interested in Islam.

I started to also study on my own. I started to go to meet Rashida; she had a shop that sells incense, oils and Islamic clothing. So now I was on my way with Islam.

One day I asked my husband-to-be, Ahmed, if he was going to make me become Muslim? On my trip here to Cairo, we got engaged, even though he was still married. So, he said “Mary, look I love you, but I can not make you become Muslim”.

He said, “That is between you and Allah.”

This is exactly what I needed to hear. So, Rashida started to take me to many places where Muslim sisters were. I loved them. They were so nice and peaceful and loving.

Declaring Shahadah

So 3 days before I was to move to Egypt to marry Ahmed, which was 6 more months after getting engaged to him, I called Rashida and told her that I wanted to become Muslim.

She told me to come to her and bring a hijab. So off I was to Rashida’s house. We stood outside on her balcony and she started to say “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllah”. I said, “Wait, please.”

She said, “Ahh, you have changed your mind.”

I said, “No, no, wait.” I went into my purse and took out my cell phone and called Ahmed in Cairo .

I said, “Ahmed, I want you to hear something.”

He said, “What is that?”

I said, “Here, listen.”

So Rashida said, “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllahwa Ash hado anna Mohammadan Rasollah,” and I repeated after her word for word.

I started to cry and heard Ahmed crying on the mobile and looked at Rashida and she was crying, Masha’Allah. So then I left Rashida and went home, took my ghusl (special shower). I am sure I did it wrong but Allah knew my niyyah (intention).

So then three days after, I came off the plane. I didn’t tell Ahmed that I wore the hijab.

I walked past him just a little to see if he would know me.

He didn’t, so I walk back and said, “Excuse me, are you waiting for someone?”

He looked at me and just kept saying, “SubhanAllah”, maybe four or five times. I thought he was going to have a coma. I told his friends to watch him until I came past the people to make sure he wouldn’t fall.

Then we were off to get married.

So that is basically my story of coming to Islam. It was so hard for me in the beginning, but now I am so happy and thankful to Allah for guiding me to the straight path.

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Ramadan Recipe: Fish Sayadiya

Ramadan recipe: Fish sayadiya

Ramadan recipe: Fish sayadiya

At the Silk Route restaurant at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, comfortable couches are strewn with colourful satin pillows, and the setting is bright and airy, with a relaxed, informal atmosphere.

In the kitchen, head chef Abdul Salam Hamedi works to create nutritious and delicious recipes for Ramadan, utilizing the abundant seafood of the region.

The Asian-Arabic theme of the restaurant is apparent in one of his creations, Fish Sayadiya.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

500g white fish
250g basmati rice
50g onion
250g fish bones
15g cumin
15g cinnamon
25g salt
5g black pepper
5g pine nuts
15ml olive oil
150g carrots
150ml water

Method:

Wash the rice three times, then strain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180C. Mix the fish bones with the salt, pepper, half the cinnamon and cumin, the carrots and leeks. Tip onto a baking tray and place in the oven for ten minutes.

Slice the onion and saute gently in olive oil until golden.

Add the roasted fish bones to a large pan, cover with water and boil for 30 minutes.

Strain the stock into a new pan and place over a medium heat. Add the rice, season with salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Marinate the fish with the remaining spices and and roast for 12 minutes at 200C.

Serve the fish and rice with the fried onions and pine nuts scattered over the top.

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The Importance of Making a Good Space for Women in the Masjid

Muslim students praying at CSU Sacramento

Imam Umar Aboul Sharif
Adilah S. Sharif

Challenges of Women Space in Masjids

Last Friday, I was all set to give a Khutba about the need for Muslims to plan ahead on an individual and community level. My notes were ready and I was in full “Khutba mode”. But before sermon time, I decided to change the topic completely — to talk about the exclusion of Muslim women from the mosque and community life.

It wasn’t an earth-shattering event that made me change the topic. It was an email. And it proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was one of five emails I received last week about Islamic events with a clear “brothers only” statement. One notice for a regional conference even stated categorically that there was no space for women and children under 15 at the event.

But the emails were only part of the story. A week before, I had given a Khutba in another, brand-new mosque in the heart of Chicago. After the prayer, while in the elevator, I overheard four Muslim sisters speaking angrily about their experience in the Masjid.

“If I wanted to watch TV, I’d stay home,” said one of the women, disgusted. I asked them what was wrong, and they told me how they could only see the Imam through a TV system set up in the women’s section. Moreover, the space was inconvenient, uncomfortable and was changed twice that day. This was despite the fact that months ago, the leadership of this mosque had promised me that they would involve sisters in decision-making about how the women’s space would be set up.

The Khutba

I was speaking in Chicago’s oldest mosque where the main prayer hall accommodates about a thousand people. It has a small, curtained off space in the corner for about 40 or so women. Due to the sensitive nature of my topic, it did occur to me before the Khutba that I might not be invited to give a Friday sermon there in the future. Nonetheless, I made the following points and asked these questions:

Who decides how women’s space in the mosque is allocated and organized?

How many women sit on the Board of Directors of our mosques?

If women are part of the Board of Directors, are they elected, chosen by women, selected by both men and women or are they simply the wives of male board members?

I also reminded the audience that in the Prophet’s mosque, women could hear and see the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings are upon him, and later, the leaders of the Muslims (Khulafa) when they spoke from the pulpit. Actually there are reports of interaction with the Prophet when women raised questions. Caliph Omar even went back to give another sermon to withdraw his opinion when a women from the audience gave him critical feedback after his Khutba.

Moreover, when the Prophet felt that the women were too far away to hear or he had specific points to make, he would walk over to their section and present a Khutba for them.

Examples from Islamic history

Women in early Islamic history were active not just as “mothers and wives” but contributed as individual Muslim women in all aspects of the community.

On a scholarly level, there was Aisha, may God be pleased with her. She is credited with disseminating the knowledge of Islam and information about almost all aspects of Islamic life. Today, nearly half of the Islamic jurisprudence of the Hanafi school of thought (which is followed by about 70 percent of the Muslim world) comes through the students of Aisha alone.

On a political level, there was Umm Salama. During the signing of the Treaty of Hudaibiya, when none of the Muslim men agreed to forego Hajj due to the demands of the pagan Meccans, the Prophet consulted Umm Salama. Her advice to him was to perform the rituals indicating that they would not be performing the pilgrimage, and the Muslims would follow. He heeded her advice, and as she suggested, the Muslims accepted this.

After the death of the Prophet, one major issue was how to preserve the authenticity of the Quran. Although the Quran had always been committed to memory and writing, the written pages were scattered. When a master copy was put together at the time of the first Khalifa, Abu Bakr, that copy was not kept with him or any other Muslim man. It was kept with a woman — Hafsa (may God be pleased with her).

Finally, in Madina during the leadership of Omar (may God be pleased with him) Al Shifa Bint Abdullah was made in charge of trade and commerce in the city.

These are just a few examples of the dynamic role women played in early Islamic history. But they are of no use if the inclusion of Muslim women in the mosque and community is reflected only in theory.

“Men’s Islam” or Islam for All

While sisters are a full part of the community, many mosques are run as though Islam is just for men. This is evident by looking at women’s spaces, their decoration, their uncomfortable size and design, the absence of women from the Board of Directors of most mosques and the relegation of their activism and ideas to a “women’s committee”.

Muslim women in North America are as professional as Muslim men and contribute as generously. I remember fundraising in a New Jersey Masjid. Five Muslim women contributed $25,000 each within the first 12 minutes. It inspired me to ask the audience: is there a man who can match these donations?

And that’s how women’s participation is. They know they will not get to Jannah because of the good deeds of their husbands. Each man and women has to find his or her own way to success in this world and next, knowing that God’s promise is this:

“I will deny no man or woman among you the reward of their labors. You are the offspring of one another.” (Quran 3:195).

“Each person shall reap the fruits of his/her own deeds: no soul shall bear another’s burden.” (Quran 6:164)

The Reaction to the Khutba

Normally, two or three people will approach me after a Khutba to thank and compliment me for it. This time, ten times more people came over, appreciating what I had said, Alhamdu lillah. That’s one of the most positive instances of feedback I’ve ever gotten in years of giving Khutbas! Although I have yet to hear the response from the leadership of the Masjid, this gives me hope that the community is ready for change.

A few board members also spoke very positively about the points I raised, including one of the founding members. The question is, who is stopping the change?

Current Chicago Masjid Spaces for Women

In Chicago, I estimate that in about ten percent of the Friday prayer locations, there is proper space for sisters’ participation. In these places men and women are in the same location without a curtain or wall separating them. In terms of the remaining 80 percent of mosques that do have a space for women, these are often cramped and inconvenient. By inconvenient, I mean that women cannot see the Imam or do not know what is happening in the congregational prayer. In about 10 percent of the Chicago-area mosques there are no spaces for women.

One Muslim sister in the city related to me her experience after visiting one of the largest mosques in Chicago that had an inconvenient room for women. When she entered the women’s area, a group of sisters was standing in line, thinking prayer had started because the recitation of the Quran could be heard. Taking Quran recitation as a cue for congregational prayer, the sister joined the others in line. After several minutes, when the man ended his recitation without calling for the next step of prayer, Ruku, the women learned that it was not a prayer. Needless to say, the women were humiliated and upset about this confusing situation. This is just an example of the practical problems this segregation in prayer places causes.

An additional problem in mosques where women cannot see the Imam is the fact that the noise level often becomes unacceptable. This tends to be because most men dump the responsibility for taking care of their active children on their wives when they go to the men’s section of mosque. Also, since women can’t see what’s going on, they end up talking to each other. This leads to the Imam asking women to “be quiet please,” furthering tension and exclusion.

When women are out of sight, it’s also more likely that they will be out of mind. That means their discourse and participation are ignored on a Masjid and community level. Moreover, few women have easy access to the Imam, which worsens the problem, since the Imam is the one man who can make a significant difference in bringing women’s issues and problems to the attention of other Muslim men in the community. This perhaps explains why you don’t normally hear many Khutbas on women’s challenges here in America or abroad.

Negative Dawa

The situation becomes worse when non- Muslims visit. They see there are hardly any women present in the mosque. Or, if there are a few, they are confined to a small and less ceremonious corner. What kind of Dawa is this? What kind of impression does this give in our current context, where the battle against stereotypes is ten times harder than it was pre-9/11 America? This visual impact is far greater and far more lasting then tens of books lauding the status of women in Islam. Since Shahadah (witnessing) is the first pillar of Islam, this obstacle to outreach must be dealt with.

Of course, women, unlike men, are given a choice by the Prophet to pray at home or in the mosque. But the Prophet was categorical in telling men “do not stop women from coming to the Masjid.” Friday prayers are also optional for women. But considering that Friday sermons are the only Islamic educational opportunity available to most women in the North America Muslim women should attend Friday prayers. This is especially important because we do not yet have a widespread tradition of female teachers, as is the case in the Muslim world. I am pretty sure Caliph Omar would have encouraged Friday prayer attendance by women if he was alive today in the United States, may God be pleased with him.

Who is stopping women from the Masjid

Knowing both of these Masjids, their volunteer leadership, and the fact that women are on their boards, I don’t think either of them stops women from attending and participating. The first Masjid’s president did make an announcement twice in front of me inviting women to visit the new location to help determine the sisters’ space. I think, perhaps, need sisters taking these issues more seriously instead of accepting the current situation.

In the second Masjid, I learned that some sisters prefer to pray behind a curtain. An easy solution could be to make a larger area where women who do not want a curtain between the men and women, as was the practice in the mosque of the Prophet, can pray. Behind them, women who are comfortable praying behind a curtain can do this.

With lower donations as a result of donor chasing by the FBI, extra expenses for security and legal battles, which six or seven Masjids in the Chicago-area are going through, the last thing on the mind of Muslim leadership is women’s space. About 80 percent of the Masjids in the Chicago area do not have any permanent Imam. Volunteers like me are asked to offer the Friday sermon on a rotational basis. Almost all of these Masjids’ leaders are busy professionals who volunteer their time to run the community centers, schools and Masjids. Unless someone is pushing for something, things will continue as they have been.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that the agenda of women’s space will not come to the forefront unless Muslim women take it upon themselves.

Establishing a Muslim Women’s Caucus

It is time that sisters come together and provide leadership in clearly defining a Muslim women’s manifesto for change in mosques in North America. If these sisters are practicing Muslims, they will have a far higher level of success in demanding change and leading it.

I would like to make a plea to leading Muslim women in North America who are respected and honored by the community to call a national women’s caucus on these issues. In this conference, the following things need to be discussed and tackled:

1. An agenda outlining change in the Muslim community centers and Masjids in which

* Each Masjid should formally declare that it is unIslamic to stop women from attending a mosque

* The need to restore women’s space in the mosque as it was at the Prophet’s time (i.e. without a curtain or a wall separating men and women) is stressed

* Develop a welcoming space where they have a clear view of the Imam

2. One-third of Masjids’ Board of Directors should be composed of sisters, one-third of brothers, and one-third of people born in North America.

3. A mechanism for an ongoing Muslim Women’s Caucus needs to be developed

On the issue of women’s exclusion from the mosque, this Muslim Women’s Caucus may want to do the following:

1. Invite the leadership of major mosques, as well as national and continental Muslim organizations to a closed-door dialogue with an equal number of Muslim women leaders present.

2. Give a deadline to all Masjids that do not have a space for women to allocate one in consultation with women.

3. If space is extremely limited and there is no cultural and ideological objection to it, then allocate time for additional congregational prayer for women lead by women as was done by Umm Waraqa with the Prophet’s permission when she lead her staff regularly in prayers in her own home as reported by Sahih Abu Dawud. (If thousands of women lead other women in prayers throughout Pakistan, it can be done in a mosque here as well).

Shura (consultation) has been a way of life for Muslims (42:38). If our families and our communities are not run on Shura, open communication and proper representation, how will we grow?

“The true believers, both men and women, are friends to each other. They enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil; they attend to their prayers and pay the alms and obey God and His apostle. On these God will have mercy. He is Mighty and Wise.” (Quran 7:71)

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