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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. Avatar

    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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#Culture

How to Teach Your Kids About Easter

Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

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Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not grow up in any sort of conservative, chocolate-deprived bubble. My mother was – and still is – a Christian. My father was – and still is – Muslim, and our home was a place where two faiths co-existed in unapologetic splendor.

My mother put up her Christmas tree every year.  We children, though Muslim, received Easter baskets every year. The only reason why I wished I was Christian too, even though I had no less chocolate in my life than other children my age, was because of the confusing guilt that I felt around holiday time.

I knew that the holidays were my mother’s, and we participated to honor and respect her, not to honor and respect what she celebrated. As a child though, I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t celebrate them too, even if it was just for the chocolate.

As an adult I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this conflicted enthusiasm for the holidays of others. Really, who doesn’t like treats and parties and any excuse to celebrate? As a parent though, I’ve decided that the best policy to use with my children is respectful honesty about where we stand with regard to other religions.

That’s why when my children asked me about Easter, this is what I told them:

  1. The holidays of every religion are the right of the people who follow them. They are as precious to them as Eid and Ramadan are to us.
  2. Part of being a good Muslim is protecting the rights of everyone around us, no matter what their religion is. There is nothing wrong with non-Muslims celebrating their religious non-Muslim holidays.
  3. We don’t need to pretend they’re not happening. Respectful recognition of the rights of others is part of our religion and our history. We don’t have to accept what other people celebrate in order to be respectful of their celebrations.
  4. The problem with Muslims celebrating non-Muslim religious holidays is that we simply don’t believe them to be true.

So when it comes to Easter specifically, we break it down to its smaller elements.

There is nothing wrong with chocolate. There is nothing wrong with eggs. There is nothing wrong with rabbits, and no, they don’t lay eggs.

There is nothing wrong with Easter, but we do not celebrate it because:

Easter is a celebration based on the idea the Prophet Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was Allah’s son, who Allah allowed to be killed for our sins. Easter is a celebration of him coming back to life again.

Depending on how old your child is, you may need to break it down further.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Created the sun, Allah is not a person whose eyes can’t even look directly at the sun. Allah Created space, Allah is not a person who can’t survive in space. Allah Created fire, Allah is not a person who cannot even touch fire. Allah is not a person, He does not have children as people do. Prophet Jesus [alayis] was a messenger of Allah, not a child of Allah.

Allah is also the Most-Merciful, Most-Forgiving, and All-Powerful. When we make mistakes by ourselves, we say sorry to Allah and try our best to do better. If we make mistakes all together, we do not take the best-behaved person from among us and then punish him or her in our place.

Allah is Justice Himself. He is The Kindest, Most Merciful, Most Forgiving Being in the entire universe. He always was, and always will be capable of forgiving us. No one needed to die in order for Allah to forgive anyone.

If your teacher failed the best student in the class so that the rest of the students could pass, that would not be fair, even if that student had offered that. When people say that Allah sacrificed his own son so that we could be forgiven, they are accusing Allah of really unfair things, even if they seem to think it’s a good thing.

Even if they’re celebrating it with chocolate.

We simply do not believe what is celebrated on Easter. That is why we do not celebrate Easter.

So what do we believe?

Walk your child through Surah Ikhlas, there are four lines and you can use four of their fingers.

  1. Allah is One.
  2. Allah doesn’t need anything from anyone.
  3. He was not born, and nor was anyone born of Him. Allah is no one’s child, and no one is Allah’s child
  4. There is nothing like Allah in the universe

Focus on what we know about Allah, and then move on to other truths as well.

  1. Christians should absolutely celebrate Christian holidays. We are happy for them.
  2. We do not celebrate Christian holidays, because we do not accept what they’re celebrating.
  3. We are very happy for our neighbors and hope they have a nice time.

When your child asks you about things like Christmas, Easter, Valentines, and Halloween, they’re not asking you to change religions. They’re asking you for the chance to participate in the joy of treats, decorations, parties, and doing things with their peers.

You can provide them these things when you up your halal holiday game. Make Ramadan in your home a whole month of lights, people, and happy prayer. Make every Friday special. Make Eid amazing – buy gifts, give charity, decorate every decorat-able surface if you need to – because our children have no cause to feel deprived by being Muslim.

If your holidays tend to be boring, that’s a cultural limitation, not a religious one. And if you feel like it’s not fair because other religions just have more holidays than we do, remember this:

  • Your child starting the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child finishing the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child’s first fast can be a celebration
  • Your child wearing hijab can be a celebration
  • Your child starting to pray salah can be a celebration
  • Your children can sleep over for supervised qiyaam nights
  • You can celebrate whatever you want, whenever you want, in ways that are fun and halal and pleasing to Allah.

We have a set number of religious celebrations, but there is no limit on how many personal celebrations we choose to have in our lives and families. Every cause we have for gratitude can be an opportunity to see family, eat together, dress up, and hang shiny things from other things, and I’m not talking about throwing money at the problem – I’m talking about making the effort for its solution.

It is easy to celebrate something when your friends, neighbors, and local grocery stores are doing it too. That’s probably why people of many religions – and even no religion – celebrate holidays they don’t believe in. That’s not actually an excuse for it though, and as parents, it’s our responsibility to set the right example for our children.

Making and upholding our own standards is how we live, not only in terms of our holidays, but in how we eat, what we wear, and the way we swim upstream for the sake of Allah.  We don’t go with the flow, and teaching our children not to celebrate the religious holidays of other religions just to fit in is only one part of the lesson.

The other part is to extend the right to religious freedom – and religious celebration – to Muslims too. When you teach your children that everyone has a right to their religious holidays, include Muslims too. When you make a big deal out of Ramadan include your non-Muslim friends and neighbors too, not just because it’s good dawah, but because being able to share your joy with others helps make it feel more mainstream.

Your Muslim children can give their non-Muslim friends Eid gifts. You can take Eid cookies to your non-Muslim office, make Ramadan jars. You can have Iftar parties for people who don’t fast.   Decorate your house for Ramadan, and send holiday cards out on your holidays.

You can enjoy the elements of celebration that are common to us all without compromising on your aqeedah, and by doing so, you can teach your children that they don’t have to hide their religious holidays from the people who don’t celebrate them.  No one has to. And you can teach your children to respect the religions of others, even while disagreeing with them.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are bound by a common thread, and there is much we come together on. Where the threads separate though, is still a cause for celebration. Religious tolerance is part of our faith, and recognizing the rights of others to celebrate – or abstain from celebration – is how we celebrate our differences.

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#Society

MuslimARC Releases Guide for White Muslims By White Muslims

Bill Chambers

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“As people who are both white and Muslim, we straddle two identities -one privileged in society and the other, not. We experience Islamophobia to varying degrees, sometimes more overtly depending on how we physically present, and at the same time we have been socialized as white people in a society where white people hold more social power than People of Color (POC). The focus of the toolkit is to provide resources and information that will help guide us toward good practices and behaviours, and away from harmful ones, as we challenge racism within the Muslim community (ummah) and in society at large.” MuslimARC Guide

As part of our mission to provide education and resources to advance racial justice within the Muslim community, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is producing a series of community-specific guides to be a resource for those who want to engage in anti-racism work within the Muslim community.

The first in this series, the MuslimARC Guide for White Muslims, has been written specifically for white Muslims, by white Muslims under the guidance of the anti-racist principles of MuslimARC. It is a tool and resource for engaging in conversations about racism and provides guidance in how to truly be a good ally to Muslims of color in this anti-racism work.

The Guide was developed by two white Muslim members of MuslimARC, myself (Bill Chambers) and Lindsay Angelow. The experiences, approaches, recommendations, and resources are based upon our own experiences, those of other white Muslims we have encountered or spoken to, and research and analysis by others who have been cited in the Guide.

We cannot always be aware when we say or write something that reflects our own white privilege and need to be open to feedback from Muslims of color. In our own experience in developing this Guide, we worked to practice that approach when we received feedback from other MuslimARC members and incorporated their analysis to strengthen this work.

My own personal process of helping to develop this Guide made me aware of the many times I was in discussions with Muslims of color especially women, when I had to not only check my white privilege, but also the white male privilege that comes with it. It is difficult not to feel defensive when you realize you may have said too much and listened too little on a topic that is really not about you. As one behavior the Guide suggests we avoid, “Don’t assume what People of Color need and try to swoop in to deliver. Instead, ask what you can do.”

For the white Muslim audience of the Guide, in reading this you will automatically feel defensive either that others may do these things but not me or that none of this behavior is based on racism or white privilege. Our advice is to examine that defensiveness and take the opportunity not to act on it, but instead, consider some of the alternative approaches we recommend in the Guide. 

The Guide provides a review of our role in addressing racism in the ummah; description of some of the ways white Muslims perpetuate racism; and specifically, how to be actively anti-racist in our work. A list of educational resources is provided including available training; articles on white Muslims and allyship; and guides to anti-racist parenting. A last and very important part of the Guide is organizations like MuslimARC that you can be involved in to do this anti-racist work.

“People, We have created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another.” (49:13) One of our most important purposes is to really “get to know” the different races and groups Allah has put us in, all the time knowing we all come from the same source and will return together. If this Guide does anything, let it inspire self-knowledge about our white privilege as Muslims and help us to get to know how to be better allies to our brothers and sisters of color.

You can find the  #AntiRacismGuide for White Muslims at http://www.muslimarc.org/whitemuslimguide

Further reading:

White Activism Is Crucial In The Wake of Right-Wing Terrorism

Beyond Muslim Diversity to Racial Equity

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#Life

Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Mona Islam

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High School is that time which is ideal for preparing yourself for the rest of your life. There is so much excitement and opportunity. Youth is a time of energy, growth, health, beauty, and adventure. Along with the thrill of being one of the best times of life, there is a definite lack of life experience. In your youth, you end up depending on your own judgments as well as the advice of others who are further along the path. Your own judgments usually come from your own knowledge, assumptions, likes, and dislikes. No matter how wise, mature, or well-intended a youth is compared to his or her peers, the inherent lack of life experience can also mislead that person to go down a path which is not serving them or their loved ones best. A youth may walk into mistakes without knowing, or get themselves into trouble resulting from naivety.

Salma and Yousef: 

Salma and Yousef had grown up in the same community for many years. They had gone to the same masjid and attended youth group together during high school. After going off to college for a few years, both were back in town and found that they would make good prospects for marriage for each other. Yousef was moving along his career path, and Salma looked forward to her new relationship. Yousef was happy to settle down. The first few months after marriage were hectic: getting a new place, organizing, managing new jobs and extended family. After a few months, they began to wonder when things would settle down and be like the vision they had about married life.

Later with valuable life experience, we come to realize that the ideas we had in our youth about marriage and family are far from what are they are in reality. The things that we thought mattered in high school, may not matter as much, and the things that we took for granted really matter a lot more than we realized. In retrospect, we learn that marriage is not simply a door that we walk through which changes our life, but something that each young Muslim and Muslima should be preparing for individually through observation, introspection, and reflection. In order to prepare for marriage, each person must intend to want to be the best person he or she can be in that role. There is a conscious process that they must put themselves through.

This conscious process should begin in youth. Waiting until marriage to start this process is all too late. We must really start preparing for marriage as a conscious part of our growth, self-development, and character building from a young age. The more prepared we are internally, the better off we will be in the process of marriage. The best analogy would be the stronger the structure and foundation of a building, the better that building will be able to serve its purpose and withstand the environment. Another way to think of this process is like planting a seed. We plant a seed long before the harvest, but the more time, care, and attention, the more beautiful and beneficial the fruits will be.

 

Sarah and Hasan:

Hasan grew up on the East Coast. He had gone to boarding school all through high school, especially since his parents had died in an unfortunate accident. His next of kin was his aunt and uncle, who managed his finances, and cared for him when school was not in session. Hasan was safe and comfortable with his aunt and uncle, but he always felt there was something missing in his life. During his college years, Hasan was introduced to Sarah and eventually they decided to get married.

The first week of his new job, Hasan caught a really bad case of the flu that made it hard for him to get his projects done. Groggy in bed, he sees Sarah appear with a tray of soup and medicine every day until he felt better. Nobody had ever done that for him before. He remembered the “mawaddah and rahmah” that the Quran spoke of.

Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding:

The process of growing into that person who is ready to start a family is that we need to first to be aware of ourselves and be aware of others around us. We have to have knowledge of ourselves and our environment. With time, reflection and life experience, that knowledge activates into understanding and wisdom. This activity the ability to make choices between right and wrong, and predict how our actions will affect others related to us.

Preview:

This series is made up of several parts which make up a unit about preparation for family life. Some of the topics covered include:

  • The Family Unit In Islam
  • Characteristics of an Individual Needed for Family Life
  • The Nuclear Family
  • The Extended Family

Hamza and Tamika

Tamika and Hamza got married six months ago. Tamika was getting her teacher certification in night school and started her first daytime teaching job at the local elementary school. She was shocked at the amount of energy it took to manage second graders. She thought teaching was about writing on a board and reading books to kids, but found out it had a lot more to do with discipline, speaking loudly, and chasing them around. This week she had state testing for the students and her finals at night school. She was not sure how to balance all this with her new home duties. One day feeling despair, she walked in her kitchen and found a surprise. Hamza had prepared a beautiful delicious dinner for them that would last a few days, and the home looked extra clean too. Tamika was pleasantly surprised and remembered the example of our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

The Family Unit in Islam

We always have to start with the beginning. We have to ask, “What is the family unit in Islam?” To answer this we take a step further back, asking, “What is the world-wide definition of family? Is it the same for all people? Of course not. “Family” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people across the world. As Muslims, what family means to us, is affected by culture and values, as well as our own understanding of Islam.

The world-wide definition of family is a group of people who are related to each other through blood or marriage. Beyond this point, is where there are many differences in views. Some people vary on how distantly related to consider a family. In some cultures, family is assumed to be only the nuclear family, consisting of mom dad and kids only. Other cultures assume family includes an extended family. Another large discrepancy lies in defining family roles and responsibilities. Various cultures promote different behavioral norms for different genders or roles in the family. For example, some cultures promote women staying at home in a life of luxury, while others esteem women joining the workforce while raising their kids on the side. Living styles vary too, where some cultures prefer individual family homes, while in other parts of the world extended families live together in large buildings always interacting with each other.

 

Layla and Ibrahim   

Layla and Ibrahim met at summer retreat where spirituality was the focus, and scholars were teaching them all day. Neither of them was seriously considering getting married, but one of the retreat teachers thought they might make a good match. It seemed like a fairytale, and the retreat gave them an extra spiritual high. Layla could not imagine anything going wrong. She was half Italian and half Egyptian, and Ibrahim came from a desi family. Soon after the nikah, Layla moved across the country into Ibrahim’s family home, where his parents, three siblings, and grandmother lived.  Come Ramadan, Layla’s mother-in-law, Ruqayya, was buying her new clothes to wear to the masjid. It was out of love, but Sarah had never worn a shalwar kameez in all her life! Ruqayya Aunty started getting upset when Layla was not as excited about the clothes as she was.

As Eid approached, Layla had just picked a cute dress from the department store that she was looking forward to wearing. Yet again, her mother-in-law had other plans for her.

Layla was getting upset inside. It was the night before Eid and the last thing she wanted to do was fight with her new husband. She did not want that stress, especially because they all lived together. At this point, Layla started looking through her Islamic lecture notes. She wanted to know, was this request from her mother-in-law a part of the culture, or was it part of the religion?

Marriage

The basis of all families, undoubtedly, is the institution of marriage. In the Islamic model, the marriage consists of a husband and a wife. In broad terms, marriage is the commitment of two individuals towards each other and their children to live and work together to meet and support each other’s needs in the way that they see fit. What needs they meet vary as well, from person to person, and family to family. The marriage bond must sustain the weight of fulfilling first their own obligations toward each other. This is the priority. The marriage must also be strong enough to hold the responsibility of raising the kids, and then the extended family.

How are we as Muslims unique and what makes us different from other family models? We are responsible to Allah. The end goals are what makes us different, and the method in which we work. In other family systems, beliefs are different, goals are different, and the motives are different. Methods can especially be different. In the end, it is quite a different system. What makes us better? Not because we say we are better or because we automatically feel better about ourselves due to a misplaced feeling of superiority. But instead it is because we are adhering to the system put in place by the most perfect God, Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all the worlds, the One Who knows best what it is we need.

Family Roles:

Each person in the family has a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has meant for them to have, and which ethics and common sense tell us to follow. However, our nafs and ego can easily misguide us to live our family life in the wrong way, which is harmful and keeps us suffering. Suffering can take place in many ways. It can take place in the form of neglect or abuse. In the spectrum of right and wrong, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that we are a nation meant for the middle path. So we should not go to any extreme in neglect or abuse.

What are the consequences of mishandling our family roles? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) calls this type of wrongdoing “transgression” or “oppression”. There are definitely consequences of oppression, abuse, and neglect. There are worldly consequences which we feel in this life, and there are long term consequences in the Akhirah.

Razan and Farhaan

Razan and Farhan had gotten married two years ago. Since they were from different towns, Razan would have to move to Farhaan’s hometown. On top of the change of married life, Razan felt pangs of homesickness and did not know many people in the new town. However, Farhaan did not realize what she was going through. He still had the same friends he grew up with for years. They had a die-hard routine to go to football games on Friday night and play basketball on Saturday at the rec center.

Razan was losing her patience. How could he think it was okay to go out with his friends twice on the weekend? Yet he expected her to keep the home together? Her blood started to boil. What does Islam say about this?

Mawaddah and Rahma

The starting point of a family is a healthy relationship between the husband and wife. Allah SWT prescribed in Surah 25: verse 74, that the marriage relationship is supposed to be built on Mawaddah (compassion) and Rahma (mercy). A loving family environment responds to both the needs of the children and the needs of parents. Good parenting prepares children to become responsible adults.

Aliyaah and Irwan

Aliyaah and Irwan had homeschooled their twin children, Jannah and Omar, for four years. They were cautious about where to admit their children for the next school year. Aliyaah felt that she wanted to homeschool her children for another few years. There were no Islamic Schools in their town. Irwan wanted to let his kids go to public schools. He felt that was nothing wrong with knowing how things in the real world are. However, every conversation they started about this issue ended up into a conflict or fight. This was beginning to affect their relationship.

Parenting

Two significant roles that adults in a family play are that they are married and they are parents. It is important that parents work to preserve and protect their marital relationship since it is really the pillar which supports the parenting role. Parenting is a role which Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) directly addresses in our religion. We will be asked very thoroughly about this most important role which we will all play in our lives.

There is a hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) reminds us,

“All of you are shepherds and responsible for your wards under you care. The imam is the shepherd of his subjects and is responsible for them, and a man is a shepherd of his family and is responsible for them. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and is responsible for it. A servant is the shepherd of his master’s belongings and is responsible for them. A man is the shepherd of his father’s property and is responsible for them”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam has placed a lot of importance on the family unit. A family is the basic building block of Islam. A strong family can facilitate positive social change within itself and the society as a whole. The Quran asserts that human beings are entrusted by their Creator to be his trustees on Earth, thus they need to be trained and prepared for the task of trusteeship (isthiklaf).

Asa youth, it is important to make a concerted effort to develop our family skills so that we grow into that role smoothly. Proper development will prepare a person emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically for marriage and family life.

Mona Islam is a youth worker, community builder, motivational speaker, writer, and author. For the past 25 years, Sr. Mona has been on the forefront of her passion both locally and nationally, which is inculcating character development in youth (tarbiyah).  Sr. Mona has extensive knowledge of Islamic sciences through the privilege of studying under many scholars and traveling worldwide.  An educator by profession, she is a published author, completed her masters in Educational Admin and currently doing her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Sr. Mona is married with five children and lives in Houston, TX.

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