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‘Nabiha My Love’ – But a Person Is With the One Whom They Love

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The following article was written by Abu Shoaib Ashmead Choat, a very dear family friend of ours. He visited Houston a few years ago and gave some talks there; he’s a graduate of the College of Hadith from Madinah and an active da’i in Trinidad (where he runs his own full-time Islamic school). His daughter Nabiha passed away last year, while still a teenager. She grew up in Madinah and memorized significant portions of the Quran. She was an active tajweed teacher in her native land of Trinidad.

After her tragic death, her father Abu Shoiab wrote up this beautiful article. I’ve asked his permission to post it.

Nabihah My Love

But a Person is With the One Whom They Love

Even before we start to write about this glimpse into the life of our dear daughter, it is necessary to purify our intentions, hence the reason for the delay. This must not be for Shuhrah or fame or some Nahiha fan club, but it must be for, as Allah has said, “Ya ayyuha ladhina amanu itaqullaaha wabtaghoo ilayhil waseelah” (Oh you who believe fear Allah and seek out the means of approach to him). Great effort and attention must be paid in trying to purify our intentions and knowing precisely why we are doing this. It may be a wake up call for a lazy or sleepy Muslim. It may help someone to realize how short and fleeting this life is; how precious it is that we must take every opportunity to do good, no matter how small, and we must seek every opportunity to invite people to Allah and use all the resources available to us in that cause, even if that means the life and death of our dear baby.

How do we begin to describe the love of our life? If Allah had given us someone for one or two years and took her away, it would have been easier because of her short life. Or if she had been married with children and away from the home it would have softened the loss. But our baby girl was in the prime of her life, just at the age of marriage, and the decision is with the Lord of the universe. As our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said at the moment of his death, when he was given the choice to go or stay, “Balir-rafeequl-‘alaa, Balir-rafeequl-‘alaa – certainly the highest companionship, certainly the highest the companionship.”

It was late 2004 when Nabiha discovered a non-healing ulcer on her tongue which became exceedingly painful and was preventing her from eating. In March 2005, she had her first operation for the removal of the ulcer and a biopsy, which showed a presence of malignancy. In retrospect, when a Muslim is faced with the news of cancer, he begins to think of the options available to him. Seeking treatment and medical care is encouraged in the Sunnah (called: “at-tadaawee – seeking treatment”). So over the next two years, we followed the full gamut of treatment of up to seven or eight surgeries together with radiotherapy in far away India, a return there for a review, then on to chemotherapy back in Trinidad. Despite huge setbacks, we were to see the Hand of Allah in everything that challenged us. He tested us but walked us through to the very end. Allahumma laka wa minka; O Allah to you and from you. Laa malja’a minallahi illa ilayhi; There is no refuge from Allah, except in Him.

Our daughter, for those who know her, loved Qur’an and its fine recitation. And even before her loss of speech, she began to slowly lose the ability to pronounce key letters in the Arabic alphabet. She was taught recitation at the finest “Tahfeedh” in Medina, where Salman, the son of Shaikh Thubaytee, was taught. One could imagine the pain she felt, and I remembered her last great effort to recite Qur’an after radiotherapy on her return from India; a moment in time that will not be repeated. Her speech slowly started to dwindle, and with great pain, I heard her say the words of the Prophet Sulayman, “Rabbi Awzi’nee an Ashkura Ni’matakallati an’amta alayya wa ‘alaa waalidayya wa an ‘amala saalihan tardaahu wa adkhilnee bi rahmatika fee ‘ibadikas saaliheen.”

During radiotherapy in India, in early 2006, she and her mother looked for appropriate gifts for her father to no avail. She thought that the best gift would be to memorize Surat Maryam. Every morning she would memorize a portion, and, while clamped on the cold stainless steel slab in the radiotherapy center in Trivandrum, India, she would revise what she had learnt that morning. While the rays from the linear accelerator machine were destroying the tissue in her neck and jaw, and, in the later stages, even with blood spewing from her mouth, she would be revising Qur’an.

We still remember one morning after she returned, she was anxious to recite what she had memorized, knowing how I loved that Surah. She sobbed bitterly in torment, not being able to pronounce certain letters properly. Her mother rushed downstairs thinking something was seriously wrong… ‘nothing could be more agonizing to Nabiha than not being able to pronounce the words of Allah’.

For a few months we thought all was well, until Eid-ul-Fitr 2006. While I stood on the Mimbar, my daughter was at the hospital in Trinidad going through another painful procedure.

All throughout life, people are faced with situations in which they have options in dealing with them. We are sometimes faced with good news and sometimes with bad, but in Naibha’s case, it was rare to hear good news. From then on it was constantly downhill. The family was being faced with one piece of bad news after another. The wound only became worse; the swellings increased, but our daughter Nabiha would continue to stand at night in prayer. It was not as though she became suddenly pious with the onset of illness. Rather, Nabiha continued to sail smoothly without missing a beat on a path that she had always tread. How Allah has blessed us with this privilege. Her sister remembers when we lived in Madinah in the nineties, how she would wake at nights, saying that she went to the washroom and thinking that was a long p….!

For days she would not speak because of the difficulty and pain. When she could not give Dawah with her speech, her fingers did the talking. Constantly admonishing people, worldwide and inviting them to Islam. Two Jewish Americans who became Muslims are living testimony to what she did. As parents we are only now beginning to realize the full extent of the people she advised, admonished, assisted, and supported. What is nice, however, is that the full extent of her work will never be known and is best left to Al ‘Aleem. Sincerity is best measured when hidden from people’s eyes. As our Prophet (saw) said when he performed Hajj: “Allahumma laa ri’aa feehaa walaa sum’ah – O Allah, let there be no ostentation in it nor fame.”

Patience took on a special meaning for this young woman, seeing her life, her beauty, and her youth gradually taken away from her. There would be intense sadness and tears, but she bore her illness with dignity and with the full conviction that if this is what Allah wills, then so be it. Even close to the end I probably lost it when I said “bint, where do you get all this strength” and lifting the frail hand into the air she pointed upwards, a move that words cannot do justice. One remembers laughing then at the relief and contentment for having a child of such Iman and ‘Aqeedah.

The ulama say Patience is of three types:

  1. Patience on the obedience of Allah
  2. Patience in refraining from Allah’s disobedience
  3. Patience in enduring the painful trials form Allah.

Patience is easier in the third than in the first two. If a Muslim or a Kafir is faced with Cancer they both have to endure it but in the first two types we have choices either to obey Allah or disobey him. We hope and pray that in her moments of solitude and months quietness that our daughter was Dhaakiratullah katheeran – a woman who continued to remember Allah much.

Despite the great pain and trauma that we, the family, felt at times, we would say to Nabiha that we are a team and that we would never desert her, not even for a moment. In taking care of our ill child we did our very best, but we knew that one day the angels would take over and that that would be the day when our privilege and source of great blessings would come to an end. As we would shroud and perfume her lifeless body, so too we had the full assurance that the angels would be clothing and perfuming her Ruh.

Her body continued to emaciate and yet she showed extreme patience and courage. Her little body was battling the disease, but as Muslims we know that the body is just a shell… food for the worms of the grave. As a matter of fact, Allah showed us a glimpse of the breakdown of tissue and necrosis even before she left this world. (He showed us just what we could bear; her brother and I both acknowledge that we were about to reach the breaking point. How easy it is for Allah, Al Jabbaar, the One who Overwhelms.) It was a solemn reminder of the fate that each of our bodies will face. The eyes and whatever was little was left of her face remained shining like a beacon in the night, as though the cancer could not touch it. Again, we saw Allah’s ease in the battlefield.

When Nabiha died, her feet glowed almost luminously, to a point that it startled us. Those feet that walked Makkah and Madina and stumbled between Safa and Marwa while fasting in Ramadan. Those eyes that cried incessantly when Abdullah Juhani and Salah Budair recited in Taraweeh in the Prophet’s masjid. She would not miss her stars in recitation; not for the world.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) took this family and pushed it through wave upon wave of difficulty. Yet even with the difficulty was ease, smiles, comfort, and the security of knowing that even though He pushed us to the ends of world, He never left us on our own, but was constantly with us, protecting us and nurturing us. We discovered within ourselves, our capabilities for coping with crises we never imagined we could survive. It was easy to visualize a grotesque image of Nabiha once the cancer took over, but Allah has protected us and preserved our beautiful memories of our dear daughter.

When Nabiha died I, the father, was not present. He, Allah, placed me in the heart of the forest out of phone contact. Even when the family tried to call, I would not be accessible. Herein lies my test: Would I blame myself for not being present when she most needed me or will I totally accept the plan of Allah? Alhamduillallah, the one who was absent was able to console those who were present at her passing, and Allah knows whether I would be able to bear seeing her life leave her body.

People comment at our strength, but in truth we are exceedingly weak. He is our source of strength, and we fear to think how those who do not have Allah in their lives can manage? How do they live? How do they face the world and its trials?

Nabiha’s life for us now is a bitter-sweet experience. We fear that after her passing, the chasm between us and our Lord will increase, and we will become more distant. Yet, we dare not say, “O Allah bring on the next test,” for possibly the next test might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We only beg to stay close to Him and enjoy His sweet cuddliness; more than a mother can possibly show a child.

We would keeping telling her “my baby just as we helped your helpless body in this life, maybe Allah would allow you to help us on Yawmul Qiyamah.” You could not eat nor drink nor speak nor shift your head in those last few months, but on that Day, if we were to receive our book of deeds in our left hand, we would have no power to shift it to the right. What utter helplessness!

Nabiha, we love you dearly, but we love Allah more. Just as you loved us dearly, but you loved Allah more…… as you were trained. “And do not say of those who are killed in the path of Allah that they are dead, nay they are sustained by their Lord. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty and rejoice for his sake for those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in a Grace and a Bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers.”

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

62 Comments

62 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Asim

    June 25, 2008 at 2:41 AM

    SubhanAllah….what a moving story…

  2. Avatar

    Ibnkhalil

    June 25, 2008 at 3:06 AM

    Assalam o alaykum wa rahmatullah i wabarakatuhu. Inna lillah i wa inna ilayhi rajion. May Allah grant her Jannah and give her family patience.
    This is truly a touching story. Just now in our masjid we recieved news of a brother who passed away at a young age. Death of a loved one or someone near or dear to us reminds us of our fragility and weakness. We are powerless against Al-Qawi.

    Interestingly the author talks about how non-Muslims cope with the trials of the dunya. What is their source of peace? Alhamdulillah for Allah has guided us to Islam and made us put our trust in Him.

    BarakAllah o feekum for such a touching and eye opening article.

  3. Avatar

    Kul

    June 25, 2008 at 3:15 AM

    Dear Shaikh Yasir Qadhi

    Alhamdhu Lillahi and Thank you very much for the enlightening article. These are hard times for me after losing my loving and beautiful daughter at the tender age of twelve. I constantly pray to ALLAH to bless her soul in paradise and give us patience. I am so grieved by her loss and every second is a struggle for me. As the article said, I also wonder if ALLAH is not in my heart., How could I cope with the loss and this tribulation. May ALLAH subahaanahoo watha aalaa bless you in this life and the hereafter for all the good work that you do.

    kul

  4. Avatar

    Bint AbdelHamid

    June 25, 2008 at 5:20 AM

    Barak Allahu feekum for sharing such an amazing article. May Allah grant Nabiha the highest level of paradise, and instill in our hearts a love of the Qur’an as He, subhanahu wa ta’ala, instilled in hers.

  5. Avatar

    moon

    June 25, 2008 at 6:44 AM

    So That You Can Fly!

    A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared- he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly.

    He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shrivelled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly, expecting the wings to enlarge and expand at any moment to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.

    What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restriction cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are Allah’s (SWT) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight, once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life.

    If Allah (SWT) allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could. Not only that-we would never be able to fly.

  6. Avatar

    Aminah Muhammad

    June 25, 2008 at 6:49 AM

    Asalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatulahi Wa Baraktu,

    Barak Allahu Feekum. Inna lillahi wa inna illahi raji’oon. May Allah Subhaana Wa Ta’aala Forgive her sins, Have Mercy on her soul, enter her into jannah, and Grant patience to her family. Ameen.

    This is very touching.

  7. Avatar

    ExEx Blogger

    June 25, 2008 at 7:42 AM

    Excellent post!!

    May Allah forgive Nabiha and enter her into Firdaus Al-`Alaa.

  8. Avatar

    IbnAbbas

    June 25, 2008 at 8:14 AM

    Assalaamu a’alaikum.

    Subhaanallah… this is indeed incredibly touching. Jazakallahu khairan Sheikh Yasir for sharing it with us.

    Ameen to all the beautiful dua’s.

    Shows how weak and helpless we humans are.. and we still take our good health and life so much for granted.

    I am not a father but I know that only a father/mother would feel the heartbreaking moments of when loosing someone so dear. May Allah strengthen their Emaan and enter them into firdaus al a’la.

  9. Avatar

    MR

    June 25, 2008 at 8:28 AM

    …even with blood spewing from her mouth, she would be revising Qur’an.

    :-(

    May Allah (swt) grant her the highest jannah and re-unite her with her family. Ameen!

  10. Avatar

    Alima

    June 25, 2008 at 8:37 AM

    SubhanAllah, what a reminder!

    That touched me… :(

    May Allah swt grant her the highest level of Jannah and make her of those whom He swt is pleased with. Ameen.

  11. Avatar

    Musilmah

    June 25, 2008 at 10:55 AM

    JazakumAllahu khairan. That was a beautiful reminder and example of how we must live our life in order to attain a husn al-khaatima.
    May Allah ta’ala have mercy on our little sister Nabiha and on her family, ameen.

  12. Avatar

    Zahira

    June 25, 2008 at 12:23 PM

    SubhanAllah, may Allah give us this beautiful patience that the family had in this time of hardship. May Allah grant her Jannah Al Firdaws and her family inshaAllah. I am very touched by this and a reminder for the rewards of those who are so patient…

  13. Avatar

    nisa

    June 25, 2008 at 1:03 PM

    It touched me and reminded me of all the things we have and are ungratefule for.. Its a reminder to take advantage of our health before the illness comes, life before death comes and youth before old age. May Nabiha be granted jannat-ul-firdaus. Jazakallah khair sheikh for sharing this with us.

  14. Avatar

    Farhan

    June 25, 2008 at 1:06 PM

    wow, may Allah give her Jannah and all of the Muslims Jannah.

    The ulama say Patience is of three types:

    1. Patience on the obedience of Allah
    2. Patience in refraining from Allah’s disobedience
    3. Patience in enduring the painful trials form Allah.

    Patience is easier in the third than in the first two. If a Muslim or a Kafir is faced with Cancer they both have to endure it but in the first two types we have choices either to obey Allah or disobey him.

    With all due respect to the ‘Ulema, I don’t think that is right, at least not for me. The 3rd category can destroy a person’s Emaan. The first two rarely do, and become easy with time. After all, the stories of the Qur’an, Surah Yusuf for example, talk about a person going through category 3, not 1 or 2.

  15. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    June 25, 2008 at 3:31 PM

    SubhanAllah… what an amazing story. Ameen to the ad’iyah above, and may Allah let us also reach such a level as she did, and elevate us in the levels of Jannah, ameen!

  16. Avatar

    Asma

    June 25, 2008 at 4:32 PM

    May Allah grant her the highest level of janah Firdowsa Amen
    I ask Allah to grant us patience and have a good ending….

  17. Avatar

    Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 25, 2008 at 4:38 PM

    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr for this beautiful reminder.

    Farhan, Part of the dificulty with the first two types of sabr is that people are often lulled into a false sense of security and they forget that they are going through a trial. When hardship hits, everyone is aware that they are undergoing a trial. This is part of the reason why and Allaah knows best that our Prophet (saw) feared comfort and wealth for his ummah more so than poverty and want, although of course there is trials and testing in both states.

    Allaah knows best.

  18. Avatar

    Musilmah

    June 25, 2008 at 4:54 PM

    Brother Abu Noor explained it well. Also the story of Prophet Yusuf is really a striking of example of the first two categories of patience than the last (being good to brothers although they treated him poorly, obeying Allah despite fitnah of the wife of Azeez and not commiting zina, remaining steadfast to the command of conveying Tawheed despite being in prison, etc) although I can see why one would think it were an example of the third alone.

  19. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    June 25, 2008 at 5:24 PM

    May Allah subhaana wa ta’aala give your daughter the highest levels of Paradise, may He give her parents, strength, patience, ease, and wisdom with this difficulty, and I want to personally thank you for this story as it is an inspiration for me to raise my own standards of practice, and I hope insha’Allah, with my own family.

    Siraaj

  20. Avatar

    Mariam 3:36

    June 25, 2008 at 6:53 PM

    As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmat Allah,

    Jazaakum Allahu khayran for sharing this–for reminding us about the destroyer of pleasures–and Ameen to all he du’aa for Nabiha and her family.

    “Nabiha’s life for us now is a bitter-sweet experience. We fear that after her passing, the chasm between us and our Lord will increase, and we will become more distant. Yet, we dare not say, “O Allah bring on the next test,” for possibly the next test might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

    SubhanAllah, I think many of us walk this line of wishing to maintain the closeness we feel during tests without the hardship of the test itself waAllahu a’alem. May Allah always bring us what is best and make us strong enough to face that which He decrees and to be content with it and react to it in a way that is pleasing to Him. Ameen.

    It is reported that the Prophet (sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allah says to His angels when they take the soul of a person’s child, ‘You took the fruit of his heart.’ They (the angels) say, ‘Yes.’ So Allah says, “What did My slave say (upon that)?’ They say, ‘He praised you and made istirjaa’ (meaning he said, Inna lillaahi wa inna elayhi raji’oon’ – verily to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return). So Allah says, ‘Build for My slave a house in Paradise and name it the house of praise.'” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad in his musnad and graded hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani) as quoted in “Testing, Afflicaitons, and Calamities” by Dr. Saleh as-Saleh rahmat Allah ‘alayh.

    Indeed Allah is the most merciful!

  21. Avatar

    Anisa

    June 25, 2008 at 7:46 PM

    SubhanAllah….

    Ameen to duas,may Allah grant her and her parents jannah, ameen

  22. Avatar

    Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    June 25, 2008 at 8:06 PM

    SubhânAllâh

  23. Avatar

    Hidaya

    June 25, 2008 at 9:39 PM

    Ya SubhanAllah….Ya Rabbi, grant her the highest level of Jannah for her beautiful Sabr!

  24. Avatar

    Kadijatu

    June 25, 2008 at 9:56 PM

    SubhanAllah, what a touching reminder!

    May Allah(Swt) grant Nabiha Jannat al-Firdaus, and may He grant her family patience, and may He keep us all steadfast. I pray that Allah(swt) makes us all humble, pious, sincere servants of His until our last breath. Ameen.

  25. Avatar

    bint Chiragh

    June 26, 2008 at 12:49 AM

    Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh,

    Inna Lillaahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajiyun Allahumma’ jurni fi muSeebati wakhlufli Khayran minha.” To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. O Allah recompense me for my affliction and replace it for me with something better.

    May Allah grant Nabiha Jannatul Firdaus and allow her to be joined there with her family. Reading this story truly touched my heart. It reminded me of my beloved father for I too lost my father Rahimahullah just a few months ago. I also was not present at his death and neither were any of our direct family members because he was traveling when he passed away. The regret and pain hurt us so much in the beginning for not being there near him when his soul left his body. But the words of Abu Shoaib were comforting. Indeed this is all a part of Allah’s Great Plan which we cannot alter. It was best for him and us not to be there when he left this duniya. Who knows if we could have tolerated seeing his lifeless body. As the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam said when his son Ibrahim died, “Our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O, Ibrahim we are sorrowful due to your separation.”

    Allah showed me the miracle of life and the reality of death in the same year. First with the birth of my first child in August last year and then with the death of my father in November. I felt such great joy and excitement seeing my little blessing in my arms with the birth of my daughter. But to remind me no to forget that this is all duniya, Allah showed me the importance of remembering the akhira by calling my father back to Him. Truly it seems death of a loved one is one of the hardest things to go through in life. I still never forget him every moment of everyday. But now that I have experienced the death of someone so dear to my heart, my parent someone I knew to be there for me my entire life, my perspective on the akhira has changed. I feel the closeness, the reality of it more knowing that my father must be somewhere now, knowing how he was taken in an instant and we had no idea he was about to go. It can happen to us. We can go to sleep in our beds one night and wake up to be in our graves. Death is real and we just live life thinking it will never touch us. A great scholar once said, “Death is the one thing about our future which we have no doubt will happen to us, yet we treat it as if it is the most doubtful thing to take place.”

    I pray we all can be like Nabiha in our patience, iman, and courage to battle and stand strong in the face of great tests from Allah. I pray we will be die with La Ilaaha Ilallaha as our last words and die with Islam in our hearts. May we remain steadfast in answering the questions in the grave and be saved from the punishment of the grave and torment of the fire. I pray we can stand patiently when we lose a parent or a child and accept the Qadr of Allah.

    May Allah grant my father and Nabiha Jannatul Firdaus and join us with them. May Allah expand their graves and allow us all to be under the shade of Allah’s Throne on the Last Day.

    Wa’assalaamu Alaykum,
    Bint Chiragh

  26. Avatar

    abuaisha

    June 26, 2008 at 1:25 AM

    my mom’s father died wihin 2 weeks of me being born subhanallah i cannot imagine what my mother must have gone through in such an ordeal. it is reflecting on situations like that, and seeing the pain and agony the parent feels for the child – that we see truly how short we fall in being good to our parents. may Allah give nabiha jannatul firdaws and unite her family with her in the akhirah.

  27. Avatar

    umu Meryam

    June 26, 2008 at 5:09 AM

    ina lilahi weina elihi rajeun wow, i cry a lot this morning as soon as i started reading this post life is full of surprise that is all i can say the thing that i relize is that in nebihas situwation , a lot of muslim die while singing dancing doing a lot of harm disobeying partent sosososo on when i hear this kind of death while reciting quran being a nice muslim i feel jealous and wanted mine to be in a nice why while obeying allha subhanehu weteal .
    inshall she will be in jenna and i wish for her family and for all muslim may alllha give us suber and iman ya reb

  28. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    June 26, 2008 at 11:04 AM

    Inna Lillahi wa inna alayhi raji’oon.

    Jazakallahu Khair for a beautiful story. May Allah swt make it easy on sister Nabiha, widen her grave, and administer her into Jannatul-Firdaws.

  29. Pingback: Heart Softeners « iMuslim

  30. Avatar

    Nihal Khan

    June 26, 2008 at 8:01 PM

    “‘…nothing could be more agonizing to Nabiha than not being able to pronounce the words of Allah’.”

    She knew how to pronounce them but couldn’t….how about us people who don’t even make an effort…May Allah (SWT) have mercy on Nabeeha and ourselves. Ameen

  31. Avatar

    Alia Abuzaid

    June 27, 2008 at 4:34 AM

    In Allah etha ahbba abdn ebtlah,( If Allah loved someone he will test him) .I lost my father and mother in the same year ,it is the most painful experience i ever been through ,may Allah bless their soul and all muslims. It is hard to find the people that u most loved gone but this is Allah’s wish and we have only to accept his wish and pray to Allah to gather us all in Jannat Alferdaous, Allahm Ameeeen.This story is to remind us of the destroyer of pleasures( death). Allah yrhm Nabeha and all muslims and Allah yhdy kol shabab almuslemeen.

    Alia

  32. Avatar

    Azara

    June 27, 2008 at 6:50 AM

    May Allah SWT grant Nabiha the highest of Jannah, Ameen. Its been a year and 3 months since her death, yet for people who knew her it feels like it happened just a short while ago…
    I am glad I got to know her even if it was rather briefly, during the last year prior to her death and she was very nice sister. May Allah SWT preserve her family and reward them for their patience and this indeed is a reminder for all of us we dont know when our time is and we can die at any time be it when we are in our 20’s or even younger…

  33. Avatar

    UmmAbdullah

    June 27, 2008 at 1:38 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    May Alllah bless her with Firdous.

  34. Avatar

    Fewthoughts

    June 27, 2008 at 6:08 PM

    Salam,

    This was a very moving, and an emotional narrative. May Allah ease their burden and grant us all good in this life and hereafter.

  35. Avatar

    Hannah

    June 28, 2008 at 10:37 AM

    hearing a speech might make me cry, but reading one never did until now.

    may Allah lift the load from the hearts of nabihas family and may they meet again in firdaus inshaAllah.

  36. Avatar

    Yasir Hilal

    June 29, 2008 at 1:21 AM

    Inna Lillahi wa inna alayhi raji’oon.
    May Allah give her family the sabr and strength to withstand the loss. This is yet another example that this world is temporary and a glimpse of the people we will live with for ever in the hereafter, inshAllah in Jannah.

    May Allah not test us for what we cannot bear.

    Wasalaam

  37. Avatar

    AbuZayd

    June 29, 2008 at 5:06 AM

    SubhanAllah… ina lilahi weina elihi rajeun. May Allah swt grant her the highest levels of Jannah, inshAllah.

  38. Avatar

    Ikhlaas

    June 29, 2008 at 4:12 PM

    Subhanallah, an extremely emotional account.

    The bit that really penetrated my heart was when the brother wrote:
    Even close to the end I probably lost it when I said “bint, where do you get all this strength” and lifting the frail hand into the air she pointed upwards, a move that words cannot do justice.

    She could not speak but as it famously said, actions speak louder than words, and Allah swt granted her the ability to demonstrate this. This sister is a role-model for us, she did not suddenly turn to religion after her illness but she continued in her sincere Ibaadah. Allah swt tests those whom He Loves, the severest of tests were for the prophets and so on while the mildest are for those weak in imaan. and I pray Allah swt makes us strong so that we too can maintain sabr like this beautiful sister did.

  39. Avatar

    Al Madrasi Al Hindee

    July 2, 2008 at 2:12 AM

    Subhanallah .

    What a moving account . May Allah grant Nabiha Jannathul Firdaus .

    May Allah give us the strength to bear the trials and tests he bestows on us .

    Jazakallahu khairan Ya Sheikh . May Allah grant you a high darajah amongst the scholars that will be raised on that DAY . Your articles and books and speeches have been a great source of inspiration for Muslims of this generation world over and not just the states , BI ithnillah .

    Wassalam
    Al Madrasi

  40. Avatar

    Sookoor Ali

    July 2, 2008 at 10:27 AM

    Assalaam u alaikum to all.

    Ashmead is my kid brother, and Nabsi (nabiha) was my beloved neice.

    One day I read for her Sura Hashr, and she said ” Unks, I am so proud of you, You dont know one word of Arabic, yet your recitation is very pleasing” what she meant was, I sounded like a frog jumping in a lake, She couldnt bear to hurt me by correcting me, yet she was a master of tajweed, May Allah give her Jannah, AMEEN

  41. Avatar

    vindicated

    July 2, 2008 at 11:37 AM

    Subhanallah.

    The way that people react in times of difficulty is a true test of character.

  42. Avatar

    Mohammad

    July 7, 2008 at 6:13 PM

    One of the lessons I take from this is, although this muslimah had a diseased mouth, her heart was healthy and she struggled to do dhikr with her tongue.
    As for us, our mouths are healthy but our hearts are diseased. Instead of our tongues being moistened with dhikr, they are engaged in sins…..

  43. Avatar

    LH

    July 9, 2008 at 2:56 AM

    May Allah bless Nabiha and grant her Jannah. Ameen.

  44. Avatar

    Jawharah

    July 15, 2008 at 7:42 PM

    Inna lillahi wa inna illayhi raji’oun. :cry:

    That was beautifully written and very touching.

    SubhanAllah, Nabiha’s patience and the patience of her family was amazing. Reading about how she made the most of their days in Madeenah is heart warming…

    Jazakallah khair for sharing Sheikh Abu Ammar.

    Ameen to all the duas.

  45. Avatar

    Shalima

    July 16, 2008 at 9:26 AM

    Assalam Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh….’Princess Eman’ as she was fondly called,was truly a beautiful sister…on the inside and on the outside.It was truly a blessing from Allah that I had her friendship and love…..even if it was for a short period…..

    When you were around nabzy…..u would be happy,excited and have so much fun(her enthusiasm was contagious)…but most importantly…she would NEVER leave your company…without taking your hand and bringing you closer to Allah…whether it was through advice,an ayah of Quran,an answer to a question,giving you a book,encouragement or even just the way she lived….was dawah!….

    Nabzy was the first sister that encouraged me to wear hijab…..and by the Grace and Mercy of Allah…she supported and advised me untill eventually,I did take that step Alhamdulillah!…..Even then her kindness did not stop:)….She showered me with gifts of hijab,abaya,jewellery and even a visit to my home to demonstrate how to tie the hijab properly SubhaanAllah!…(I was overwhelmed)…She was so excited for me…..I’ll never forget how happy she was that day! She was a true sister in Islam…..This is only one example of how wonderful this sister was…..only one small example…

    We can only pray and ask Allah to bless us with qualities similar to this….Her extremely strong faith in Allah,her contentment with His decree,her love for Allah and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him),this deen,her patience,her sincerity…..what a true sister in a world filled with deception…..she liked for others what she would have liked for herself.

    May Allah forgive her and reward her with the highest station in Paradise and May Allah continue to bless and protect her parents and family,Ameen.

  46. Avatar

    fatima

    July 23, 2008 at 10:03 AM

    Subhanallah, subhanallah, subhanallah!

  47. Avatar

    Jaffar Lone

    August 10, 2008 at 1:45 AM

    Asalam ‘u ‘Alaykum,

    Inna lillahe wainnna ilayhe rajoun

    May Allah forgive nabiha’s sins and give her a place in jannat al-firdous.

  48. Avatar

    Nabiha Abdul Karim

    August 24, 2008 at 12:29 PM

    Assalmualaikum to Nabiha’s father
    my father named me Nabiha and your letter moved me greatly Nabiha means pure and eminent your daughter was truly so. She has shown me what it is to be patient and strong and i thank you for your selfless act of telling us her story. Allah bless you with Jannatul Firdous. I hope you get this message

  49. Avatar

    true friend of nabiha

    September 20, 2008 at 5:23 AM

    Asalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatulahi Wa Baraktu,

    Barak Allahu Feekum. Inna lillahi wa inna illahi raji’oon.

    as a friend of nabiha me knowing her for few years we were as close as sister so me sayin friend is not right u can call us sisters,
    kept in touch with her while she was in india
    she was a wonderful person she never complained or question allah for the sickness that had over come her
    she always had trust in allah and alway told me in any difficulities just ture to our creator allah and he will help u cause he is the one that put u through it. i still treasure all her letters that she wrote to me from the day we met.
    it was really hard for me to accept the allah has taken her to a better place then this world but was happy for her at the same time.
    we shared n treasured lots of things we had trust in each other n could share all our deepest thoughts …….ect
    i really do miss her alot she is never out of my heart n my prayers so is her family .
    as for her love for the quran there is no way i can explain that her knowledge on deen was very good
    we aslway reminding each other to read a postion of quran daily n as for salaat too was very imp to us

    i can carry on but with all the emotions i will stop now

    may allah rant my sister the best of jannat an may her family and all those who were close unite with her in her beautiful place. ameeeen
    may allah grant us the love of the quran and the love for salaat n his deen
    ameen
    wasalam
    sister ifrom south africa

  50. Avatar

    Azan R. Khan

    October 17, 2008 at 9:00 AM

    Asalamu Alaikum Brother
    Your story was so moving. I read it while sitting in class and it literally brought tears to my eyes. May Allah SWT have mercy on your daughter, I hope that she breathes the sweet scents of jannat al firdous and may she recieve her book of deeds in her right hand.

    Wasalam

  51. Avatar

    AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 17, 2008 at 11:26 AM

    Innalhamdolillah! ‘Inna Lillahi wa inna ilahi raji’oon,’ and ‘Allahumma ujurnhum fi museebathum w’ukhluf lahum khayran minha’
    bismillah. my apologies if i did not change the suffixes appropriately in the dua.

    for an individual who has been tested with calamity, few examples are like those of this Imam. may Allah protect him, his family, and all of us from similar tests of our faith, and may He accept from them. ameen.

    the hadith of umm Salamah, radi Allaho anha, does come to mind though, and the dhikr she narrates was ‘Inna Lillahi wa inna ilahi raji’oon,’ then, ‘Allahumma ujurni fi museebati w’ukhluf li khayran minha.’ (the text i use was reported here.)

    and the promise of Allah is always True and always Fulfilled.

    jazak Allah khayr for this article.

  52. Avatar

    AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 17, 2008 at 11:41 AM

    bismillah. MM, maybe we need a full-time category called “heart softeners” in which articles like this one can serve as reminders to all of us in times of trial or self-doubt.

  53. Avatar

    om Anas

    November 17, 2008 at 10:35 PM


    assalamu alaikum wa rahmatu’Allahe wa barakaatuhu
    i don’t know how to start,i feel what you feel,i know what does it mean to loose a child,mine was 16 when he passed away,Yassir Qadi talked to him in the phone,i remember his word when sheikh told him do you know me?he replied yes of course i always listen to your lessons.he lost his buttle with cancer last year in december.almost all the community knew him and his story here in houston,his name is Anas,but u know the difference between us and you is that we,me and his father, were next to him when his soul travel to Allah,and when his tongue was saying shahada,it was hard to see him go but i know he was going to the most generous,i didn’t show him that i was sad when he was going,any way,u know they are there we can not say anything where they are,we only ask Allah to bless their sole and give them the best that a mo’omin can ask from his lord.

  54. Amad

    Amad

    November 18, 2008 at 9:33 AM

    asa Sister Om Anas, I am really sorry to hear about your loss. I can only imagine how it must have felt. I applaud your patience and perseverence. May Allah forgive all your sins for your sufferings, and reunite your family with Anas in jannat ul firdaus.

  55. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    November 18, 2008 at 9:55 AM

    Om Anas,

    I remember Anas very well. I found him to be a brave boy; I had tears in my eyes after I hung up the phone because of the bravery that I heard in his voice, knowing his fate yet putting his trust in Allah.

    May Allah accept your patience and grant you and your family much reward for all that you have suffered, and may He place Anas in His highest Jannat, Ameen!

    Yasir

  56. Avatar

    ali choate

    April 4, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    I am the uncle who visited her in her real surrondings in medina and trinidad and happy to say
    this child is a lover of ALLAH and his beloved prophet,sixty three years old and i never met someone, that young that rekindles the flame of islam in people like me , i cried when i saw her but left laughing when she answered my
    questions on life and death,i make sincere duas for her every salaat and beg ALLAH subhanahoowataalla to grant her the wish of all muslims jannahfirdous ameen .
    uncleALI

  57. Avatar

    Megan Wyatt

    June 28, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Bismillah

    Thank you for posting this. Every time I read a story like this, I am reminded
    that it’s not just the “people of the past” in the Seerah texts who were amazing
    Muslims. We recount the history of early generations of Muslims with feelings of
    “where are the muslims like THAT today?” (not denying the special place of the
    Sahabah of course)

    And then we realize, if we talk to enough people, that they are all around us. But
    because their stories aren’t part of “history in the making” we don’t hear about it.
    And this piece is a beautiful example and reminder that the awliya of Allah are
    many, may Allah grant us all Jannatul Firdous and to be amongst them.

    When I recently watched this long uncut video if the turkish ship in the flotilla,
    I was in tears, because I watched as a few men on a ship, a SHIP, were praying
    qiyam al-layl, and then it showed the athan at fajr – over the ocean (just the fact it
    was on the ocean made me feel wow… that would be a new experience for me)
    and then watched as they prayed fajr. And with all their du’a, soon after, came such
    a great test from Allah, because it’s not long before the opposing ships arrived
    and began shooting at this ship. A ship that was floating with people having just
    sat making thikr of Allah,…then men bleeding, reciting the shahadah, and then
    passing away.

    Anyhow… I appreciate that the sheikh reminded us of purifying intentions before
    sharing the beginning of this story, but I am also grateful that this story was shared,.

    May Allah have mercy on Nabiha and her family, and grant them Jannatul Firdous. Ameen.

  58. Avatar

    Farweez

    June 28, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum
    it indeed overwhelms me. it was a lesson when i most needed it. May Allah reward you with the highest Jannah for changing the way I was looking at things even at this very moment and may Allah reward your daughter with Al firdaus for her patience and forbearance.

  59. Avatar

    UmmuYahya Sultaanah

    June 23, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Assaaamu alaikum. My name is Sultana and i met nabeeha through her cousin who was my friend since were were 13 going to high school together. Anyway, nabeeha was there for me showing me islaam through her example as sisShalima said and she never left my side. We spent soo much time together and her life was dawah not just her words.
    I was fortunate to know her, to be loved by her and to be chosen by her as a companion and sister in islaam. Sad to say there are no sisters like her today that ive met. Nabeeha stuc like glue, and thats what i loved most.
    In her last years we grew distant. Myself and shaytaan to blame, but contrary to what ppl thought,i never stopped loving her and i always remembered EVERYTHING with her. Till today, i was telling my husband, there ist a day that goes by that i dont think of nabeeha and wish i could hear her voice again. Allaahknows i wish to be reunited with her in jannah Ameen.
    May Allaah forgive her and me, make her grave spacious, bright with nur and fill it with the scent of jannah, and may He raise her and her fam and me and my fam to jannatul firdous Ameen!!

  60. Avatar

    Aunty Zalie

    January 11, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Thank you Brother for this true and blessed life and death story of my Niece Nabiha Choate…I am the big sister of her dad, Ashmead Choate, whilst he is and was the baby in the family…I was at Nabiha’s bedside until she leave us…was her wish and I had to be there..I live in Canada and quit everything for her my loving niece and blessed child…I’ve got this here just by chance being on the internet clicking on choat’s and there this beautiful page of choice I’ve found…I was told about this but too busy until now..a retiree…THE WORDS HERE IN YOUR PAGE IS ALL THE TRUTH BECAUSE I WAS THERE AND EVERYONE HAD TO ANSWER TO ME BEFORE THEY ENTER THAT HOUSE…NABIHA HAD A LIST FOR ME WHOM SHE WILL AND WILL NOT SEE…AS SHE WAS DETERIOATING BODILY SO FAST AND UNABLE TO SPEAK AND EVEN WRITE NOTES ANYMORE…MAY ALLAH BLESS U BROTHER FOR ALL YOUR BLESSED TRUE WORDS OF WISDOM HERE AND SALAAM..THANKS FOR THIS…sister Zalina Ali Narinesingh…in Canada

    • Avatar

      waliyah abdullah

      June 23, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      May Allah make it easy for the entire family.

  61. Avatar

    waliyah abdullah

    June 23, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Assalaamu Alaikum. I would often hear Shaykh Ashmead Choat talk about his beloved daughter with such love. Its a parents worst nightmare to lose their child. Very touching story indeed.

    Ya Rabb, reunite this father (and family) with his beloved daughter in Jannah.

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

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charity
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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#Life

Looking To Get Married? Here Are A Few Tips

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will you marry me?
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that single young Muslims, despite not being in possession of any fortune, are always in search of a spouse.

However little prepared these people may be to undertake this ordeal is given little thought, and they are thrust out into the world of modern Muslim matchmaking. The generational divide in the community has meant that young people have received little training at home to navigate the process of finding a spouse. These individuals are seeking high-quality relationships, but few have the skills and emotional intelligence needed to find one. They are left to learn on their own through trial-and-error, and often a lot of pain.

With hopes of making this journey a little easier, we’ve compiled a few principles to keep in mind as you tread these cold uncharted waters.

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?Click To Tweet

1. Work on yourself

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?

Aspire to be self-fulfilled and complete on your own, rather than hoping for someone else to do that for you. Operationally, this entails refining both your inner and outer self. On the outside this could include basic things like being well-groomed (especially for men), knowing how to cook a healthy diet, exercising regularly and supporting yourself financially. You should also ensure you have good relationships with loved ones – do the people you care about love you back? Admit any wrongs you may have done to them and make amends to improve ties if they are strained. The state of your current relationships can be a good indicator of future ones.

On the inside, you should make a moral inventory and work to address your shortcomings in character. You must work on your selfishness, your anger, your dishonesty, your lust, your pride, your stinginess, your harshness, your resentments, your stubbornness, your fears, your jealousy, your self-righteousness, your vanity. This list is never ending and it’s a lifelong process; the sooner you get started the better off you’ll be.

You must also get help for any serious problems that you fear might affect a relationship – instead of hoping these problems will go away with the ‘right partner’. If you have a pornography problem, seek out help and don’t be deluded into thinking marriage will solve that for you. If you have no control over your desires before marriage, you won’t magically gain control afterward. If you have a substance abuse problem, join a 12-step program. If you feel you are emotionally unhealthy, get help from a professional. Bottom line is, have your house in order before you decide to build a new one.

2. Maintain good mental health throughout the process

Be purposeful in your search but don’t make it the purpose of your life. The process of finding a spouse can become emotionally draining and overwhelming if you don’t do it in a healthy fashion. Understand that this process entails too many factors that are completely out of your control; things won’t always go your way, so don’t be too attached to the outcome.  The only things you control are your responses and actions, so just focus on putting your best foot forward.

A common mistake people make is they give themselves a timeline e.g. ‘I want to be married by X age, or by X year’. This only results in unnecessary pressure that can lead to anxiety and poor mental health; it can also force one to make imprudent choices. Everyone has a different timeline; have trust in God’s plan for you.

Anytime mental health is disturbed, stop and revaluate. Some signs of poor mental health include: obsessive thinking, inability to focus on your everyday affairs, compulsive attachment and clinginess, disturbed sleep, anxiety, difficulty making decisions, inability to multitask, feeling overwhelmed, panic attacks, depression, irritability, changes in eating habits, and a loss of inner serenity. It is best to get help from counselors, such as those at Naseeha, if you feel stuck in this situation.

3. Adopt a mindset of giving

The measure you give is the measure you get back. Instead of worrying so much about what you want, focus on what you have to offer.

While you should certainly express your interest in someone you like, don’t taint it with desperation and neediness. If you’ve implemented the first point mentioned, you are already a confident and self-sufficient person. You will be fine no matter what. Focus on giving without expectation and building a healthy companionship. Be a giver and you’ll be surprised how easily you will attract the right people towards you. The ‘mindset of want’ is a self-defeating mindset: you might not find all the things you want in someone, and even if you did, there is no guarantee they’ll want you back!

4. Don’t overthink it

Living in a capitalist society, we’ve developed the bad habit of picking out people the same way we go shopping for a new product. We like to explore the market, do a cost-benefit analysis of various options, try to make sure the product isn’t damaged and hope to pick out the best possible item. We are careful about how we ‘invest our time’ and we try to ensure we can get an appropriate return on our investment. If we could, we’d ask for a money-back guarantee on people too!

Human hearts, unfortunately, cannot be picked out the way we choose commercial products. Each has its flaws and its strengths, you have to accept both the good and the bad; the pro-con list approach won’t work here. When we start taking this reductionist approach to relationships, we naturally get into overthinking, feel anxious and overwhelmed. With the widespread use of online dating, the choices seem limitless and it can seem impossible to try to figure out how to find the right person.

Marriage is a decision that’s to be taken with the heart; you have to rely on your guts and your instincts to steer you towards the person most suitable for you. This doesn’t mean throwing rational thought out the door, it means looking to your inner-self as the source of motivation for your decision making. It takes emotional intelligence and self-awareness to be able to determine what kind of a person you’ll be able to build a future with; it’s not always someone that looks best on paper. There are very few people with whom you’ll find compatibility and reciprocity, so don’t obsess over exploring as many possible ‘options’ with hopes of marking off all the items on your checklist.

We ultimately find the most fulfillment in caring for and taking responsibility for someone we sincerely love. So, look instead for the ingredients that will act as the foundations of love in your marriage. These could include the fact that you: enjoy someone’s company, find them beautiful, admire their character and kindness, respect them, find reciprocity in your interactions, have shared values and compatible temperaments. You are looking for that certitude, that good feeling in your heart; focusing on these factors will hopefully give you that and will get you out of the common mistake of overthinking and worrying.

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Click To Tweet

5. Work to bridge religious differences

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Personal levels of observance can vary vastly, even within members of the same family, so it can be challenging to find the right fit.

You will always find differences in religious observance and views between spouses. It is impossible, and foolish, to try to seek out someone at the exact same level. Some people might be more conservative than you, some might be more liberal. Do you really have to turn someone down because they don’t agree with your views on conventional mortgages? What if you like dressing up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating, and they’re opposed to it? What if they don’t eat zabiha halal like you do? What if they don’t pray all the five prayers on time like you were raised to do so?

Given the unique circumstances we live in, we must be flexible and open-minded about resolving such differences. We ought to be careful when making a judgment about someone’s beliefs; we don’t know what’s in someone’s heart. Some of us were taught to honour God through worship and observing His law, some of us were raised with an emphasis on serving His creation with good character. People have their strengths and their weaknesses in faith; sometimes these are apparent, sometimes hidden. Your relationship with God is not perfect and neither will be your partner’s; we are all a work in progress.

If approached with kindness, mutual respect and a willingness to compromise, these differing religious views could be resolved in many cases. While sometimes people really are on extreme ends, most of us fall somewhere in between and can find a comfortable middle ground. It is often our stubbornness, self-righteousness and a parochial understanding of religion that gets in the way. Good people are hard to find, so don’t let suitable matches go because they don’t follow your exact flavor of religious observance. This is certainly a sensitive topic and needs to be dealt with tact and wisdom; it is advisable to seek counsel of more experienced people.

6. Don’t expose your past and don’t pry about someone else’s

If you have a past you are not proud of and it doesn’t concern your future relationships, you should not feel obliged to expose yourself. In fact, if this relates to sins of the past, it is actually prohibited to reveal your sins to someone else – even in the context of marriage. Shaykh Nuh Keller summarizes this pitfall well, “In Islam, to mention a sin is itself a sin. How many a person has been unable to resist telling a friend or a spouse of the wickedness they did in their previous life, and Allah punished them with disgust and contempt in the other’s heart that could never quite be forgotten! There is no barakah in the haram”.

Similarly, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be prying about someone else’s past and trying to dig up details on their misadventures. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded us to have a good opinion of people; he warned against the destructive nature of suspicion and spying. He told us, “Beware of suspicion for it is the most deceitful of thought. Do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; Rather, be servants of God as brothers”

7. Istikhara is not a solution for indecisiveness

The prayer of seeking guidance, or Istikhara, is oft cited by those considering marriage. The mistake many make, however, is that we are really wishing for someone else to make the decision for us. We are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we find it difficult to make any. We hope for a divine sign or a miracle to happen that tells us that the other person is right for us and that we will live happily ever after with them.

Making big life decisions, emotionally prudent ones, is an important life skill that must be learned. These decisions come with inherent risks, uncertainties, and unknowns; there are no guarantees. If you habitually find yourself having a hard time deciding, it is likely due to external factors. It might have something to do with you, it might have something to do with the person you are considering. It is advisable to seek counsel if you are in this situation.

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How Grandparents Can Be Of Invaluable Help In A Volatile ‘Me First’ Age

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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I grew up in a small rural village of a developing country during the 1950s and 1960s within a wider ‘extended’ family environment amidst many village aunties and uncles. I had a wonderfully happy childhood with enormous freedom but traditional boundaries. Fast forward 30 years, my wife and I raised our four children on our own in cosmopolitan London in the 1980s and 1990s. Although not always easy, we had a wonderful experience to see them grow as adults. Many years and life experiences later, as grandparents, we see how parenting has changed in the current age of confusion and technology domination.

While raising children is ever joyous for parents, external factors such as rapidly changing lifestyles, a breath-taking breakdown of values in modern life, decline of parental authority and the impacts of social media have huge impacts on modern parenting.

Recently, my wife and I decided to undertake the arduous task of looking after our three young grandchildren – a 5½-year old girl and her 2-year old sibling brother from our daughter, plus a 1½-year old girl from our eldest son – while their parents enjoyed a thoroughly deserved week-long holiday abroad. My wife, who works in a nursery, was expertly leading this trial. I made myself fully available to support her. Rather than going through our daily experiences with them for a week, I highlight here a few areas vis a vis raising children in this day and age and the role of grandparents. The weeklong experience of being full time carers brought home with new impetus some universal needs in parenting. I must mention that handling three young grandchildren for a week is not a big deal; it was indeed a sheer joy to be with these boisterous, occasionally mischievous, little kids so dear to us!

  1. Establish a daily routine and be consistent: Both parents are busy now-a-days earning a livelihood and maintaining their family life, especially in this time of austerity. As children grow, and they grow fast, they naturally get used to the daily parental routine, if it is consistent. This is vital for parents’ health as they need respite in their daily grind. For various practical reasons the routine may sometimes be broken, but this should be an exception rather than a norm. After a long working day parents both need their own time and rest before going to sleep. Post-natal depression amongst mums is very common in situations where there is no one to help them or if the relationship between the spouses is facing difficulty and family condition uninspiring.

In our trial case, we had some struggles in putting the kids to sleep in the first couple of nights. We also faced difficulties in the first few mornings when our grandson would wake up at 5.00am and would not go back to sleep, expecting one of us to play with him! His noise was waking up his younger cousin in another room. We divided our tasks and somehow managed this until we got used to a routine towards the end of the week.

  1. Keep children away from screens: Grandparents are generally known for their urge to spoil their grandchildren; they are more relaxed about discipline, preferring to leave that job to the parents. We tried to follow the parents’ existing rules and disciplinary measures as much as possible and build on them. Their parents only allow the children to use screens such as iPads or smartphones as and when deemed necessary. We decided not to allow the kids any exposure to these addictive gadgets at all in the whole week. So, it fell on us to find various ways to keep them busy and engaged – playing, reading, spending time in the garden, going to parks or playgrounds. The basic rule is if parents want their kids to keep away from certain habits they themselves should set an example by not doing them, especially in front of the kids.
  2. Building a loving and trusting relationship: From even before they are born, children need nurture, love, care and a safe environment for their survival and healthy growth. Parenting becomes enjoying and fulfilling when both parents are available and they complement each other’s duties in raising the kids. Mums’ relationship with their children during the traditional weaning period is vital, both for mums and babies. During our trial week we were keenly observing how each of the kids behaved with us. We also observed the evolution of interesting dynamics amongst the three; but that is a different matter. In spite of occasional hiccups with the kids, we felt our relationship was further blossoming with each of them. We made a habit of discussing and evaluating our whole day’s work at night, in order to learn things and plan for a better next day.

A grandparent, however experienced she or he may be, can be there only to lend an extra, and probably the best, pair of hands to the parents in raising good human beings and better citizens of a country. With proper understanding between parents and grandparents and their roles defined, the latter can be real assets in a family – whether they live under the same roof or nearby. Children need attention, appreciation and validation through engagement; grandparents need company and many do crave to be with their own grandchildren. Young grandchildren, with their innate innocence, do even spiritually uplift grandparents in their old age.

Through this mutual need grandparents can transfer life skills and human values by reading with them, or telling them stories or just spending time with the younger ones. On the other hand, in our age of real loneliness amidst illusory social media friends, they get love, respect and even tender support from their grandchildren. No wonder the attachment between grandparents and grandchildren is often so strong!

In modern society, swamped by individualism and other social ills, raising children in an urban setting is indeed overwhelming. We can no longer recreate ‘community parenting’ in the traditional village environment with the maxim “It needs a village to raise a child’, but we can easily create a productive and innovative role for grandparents to bring about similar benefits.

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