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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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#Society

Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari

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For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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#Islam

A Word On Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

Dr Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, Guest Contributor

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The Qur’an describes Muslims committed to its mores as “a moderate nation,” and that sense of balance qualifies them to stand as “witnesses over humanity” (Q 2:143). Contemporary Muslims revel in this assertion, especially when it seems that “Islam” proposes a via media solution to a highly polarizing subject as abortion. What currently constitutes “Islam” on a given topic, however, often reflects the personal prerogative apparently offered to the average Muslim by a list of diverse legal perspectives. In other words, the mere fact that multiple legal opinions exist on one or more topics is now taken as license to appropriate any one of them, without any deep ethical reflection on the implications of the opinion, however anomalous it may be.

“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes” is what certain Muslims would assert. So if one extreme bars abortion under all circumstances and the other seeks to allow it throughout the duration of the pregnancy, one would assume that Islam must land somewhere in the middle, both forbidding and allowing abortion in certain circumstances. This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth. However, the mere existence of multiple opinions on a topic does not mean that each opinion has equal validity, nor does it mean that every opinion is valid for one to adopt. Similarly, “Islam” or “Islamic law” cannot be summed up into a simple formula like “majority rules” or “when in doubt about prohibition or allowance, the action is, therefore, merely disliked.”

Legal positivism plagues both religious and secular-minded people. Just as an act does not acquire its moral strength simply because it is legal, morally appropriate opinions are not always codified into law. If it is true that any unjust law is no law at all, where is the injustice and to whom is it being perpetrated against in the debate between pro-lifers and pro-choicers? Is it deemed unjust to prevent a pregnant woman from disposing of an “insignificant lifeless part of her body” that no one other than herself should be able to decide what to do with? Or is one “depriving a helpless growing person” of the opportunity and right to exist after its Creator initiated its journey into the world? Does a law that prevents a woman impregnated by a family member or rapist from an abortion oppress her? Or does such a law protect the life of a vulnerable fetus, who, like other weak members of society, is expected to be protected by the strong? Does it do both or neither? And if one is taking the “life” of this fetus, what proof is there that it is a living creature?

While these are all extremely important questions, this missive is neither intended necessarily to answer them nor to resolve today’s raging political debate. The main goal here is to offer ideas that should be on the minds of Muslims when deciding to join such debates or promoting the idea that their “religion” provides the best solution to social polarization, when by “religion” we mean the opinion of a small minority of scholars in some place and time in Muslim history.

Islamic law is very sophisticated; the legislative process is not facile, nor is it a place where any Muslim is entitled to pragmatically select the opinions that he/she finds attractive and accommodating. It demands knowledge of particular aims, the ability to properly realize those aims in the lives of people, and understanding the epistemic and metaphysical foundations that ensure that judgments conform to coherent rationale. In other words, the laws of Islam and the opinions of jurists cannot be divorced from their philosophical and evidentiary underpinnings. Otherwise, the thread holding the moral tapestry of Islam together falls apart completely at its seams.

Is Abortion Lawful in Islam?

Many past and present have written about the Islamic view of abortion. The ancient scholars prohibited it at all stages of the pregnancy and made practically no exception. Some would later allow for it only if the mother’s life was in danger. That notwithstanding, six popular legal opinions exist regarding abortion:

  • Unlawful (haram), in all stages of the pregnancy.
  • Permitted (ja’iz), during the first 40 days but unlawful (haram) afterwards.
  • Disliked (makruh), before the passage of 40 days but unlawful (haram) afterwards.
  • Permitted (ja’iz), if it is from illicit intercourse (zina).
  • Permitted (ja’iz) without conditions, before 120 days.
  • Permitted only for a legitimate excuse.

The late mufti of Fez, Morocco, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil (d. 2015) said,

The first opinion forbidding that during the [first] 40 [days] and beyond, regardless of whether or not it is due to an excuse, even if from illicit intercourse, is the view of the supermajority [of jurists].[1]

The Qur’an is a Book of Ethical Teaching

The reasons for the cavalier attitude among contemporary Muslims about abortion are multiple. The most significant reason may be that at times Islam is seen as a synonym for shariah. The truth, however, is that the shariah is only part of Islam. Islam covers law (fiqh), creed (aqidah), and ethics (akhlaq). Even though the Qur’an consists of laws, it is not a book of law. It is a book of ethical teachings. Merely 10%–12% of the Qur’an relates to legal injunctions. It is not characteristic of the Qur’an to enjoin upon Muslims to command what is “compulsory” or “recommended” and to forbid what is “unlawful” and “disliked.” What is common though is for it to command us to do what is “ma’ruf” and to avoid what is “munkar.”

“Ma’ruf” and “munkar” can be translated respectively as “what is socially commendable” and “what is socially condemnatory.” This is in spite of the fact that social acceptability and unacceptability are often subjective. This does not mean that the Qur’an is morally relativistic. It is quite the contrary. What this means, however, is that the Qur’an’s aim is not merely to teach Muslims what one can and cannot do. It means, rather, that the Qur’an has a greater concern with what Muslims “should” and “should not” do. For this very reason, the companions of the Prophet seldom differentiated between his encouragement and discouragement of acts by the juristic values of disliked, unlawful, recommended, and compulsory. Rather, if the Prophet encouraged something beneficial, they complied. And, if he discouraged from something potentially harmful, they refrained.

The Qur’an permits many actions. However, to permit an act is not equivalent to encouraging it. It permits polygyny (Q 4:3), the enslavement of non-Muslim war captives (Q 8:70), and marrying the sister of one’s ex-wife (Q 4:23). Similarly, some Muslim jurists validate marriage agreements wherein the man secretly intends to divorce the woman after a certain period of time known only to him.[2] This is the case, even though the average Muslim man is monogamous; practically no Muslim today believes it is moral to enslave a person; the vast majority of Muslims find the marriage of one’s sister-in-law upon the death of one’s wife to be taboo; and they chide men who marry with a temporary intention of marriage. If the mere existence of permission or legal opinion permitting a socially condemnable act is a legitimate reason to adopt it, why would Muslims be uneasy about these cases but inclined to take a different stance when it comes to abortion?

The proper Islamic position on any given issue of public or private concern should not only consider what the law or jurists have to say about the topic. Rather, one should also consider how theology and ethics connect with those laws or opinions. That is to say, one should ask, “What wisdom does God seek to realize from this injunction or opinion?” assuming that such a wisdom can be identified. Secondly, one need ask,

“Who and how many will be helped or harmed if this action is undertaken?”

The Qur’an is the primary source of Islam’s ethics. And, one often observes a major difference between its morality and the morality validated by certain jurists, often lacking a clear connection to Qur’anic and prophetic precepts. That notwithstanding, a juristic opinion can sometimes masquerade as one that is authentically Islamic, especially when it aims to appease or assuage a social or political concern. Consequently, one finds some contemporary scholars championing opinions simply­ because they exist, like that of mainstream Shafi’is who traditionally argued that the reason for jihad was to rid the world of unIslamic doctrines (kufr); or certain contemporaries who validated taking of the lives of innocent women, children, and other non-combatants in suicide bombings; those who endorsed the execution of Jews for converting to Christianity and vice versa;[3] or others who classified slaves as animals rather than human beings?[4] For, surely, there are Muslim jurists who validate each one of these opinions, despite their evidentiary weakness. Hence, simply because there is an opinion allowing for abortions does not necessarily mean that it is something Islam allows, even in cases of rape and incest.

When Does Life Begin?

Medieval Muslim scholars, naturally, lacked the scientific tools that we have today to determine whether or not the fetus growing in its mother’s womb was actually a viable creation and a living creature from conception. Other than when the fetus first showed signs of movement in its mother’s belly, scholars took their cues from the Qur’an and prophetic tradition on when the fetus possessed a soul or if it did so at all. For this reason, very few scholars have offered clear answers to the question of when human life begins, while they agreed that upon 120 days, the child is definitely a living person.

According to the Andalusian scholar of Seville, Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1148),

The child has three states: 1) one state prior to coming into [material] existence …, 2) a state after the womb takes hold of the sperm …, and 3) a state after its formation and before the soul is breathed into it …, and when the soul is breathed into it, it is the taking of a life. [5]

Al-Ghazzali (d. 1111) said,

Coitus interruptus (‘azl) is not like abortion and infanticide (wa’d) because it [abortion] is a crime against an actualized existence (mawjud hasil). And, it has stages, the first being the stage of the sperm entering into the womb, then mixing with the woman’s fluid, and then preparing for the acceptance of life. To disturb that is a crime. Then, if it becomes a clot (‘alaqah) or a lump (mudghah), the crime is more severe. Then, if the soul is breathed into it and the physical form is established, the crime increases in gravity. [6]

These are some of the most explicit statements from Medieval Muslim scholars; they deemed that life begins at inception. The Qur’an states, “Does man think that he will be left for naught (sudan)? Was he not a sperm-drop ejected from sexual fluid?” (75:36-37). In other words, the “sperm-drop” phase is the start of human existence, and existence is the basis for human dignity, as with other living creatures. The human being was a “sperm-drop.” If that is so, this strongly suggests that meddling with this fluid, even before the fetus begins to grow and develop limbs and organs, would be to violate the sanctity of a protected creature. The Qur’an further says, “Did We not create you from a despicable fluid? And then, We placed you in a firm resting place, until a defined scope” (Q 77:20-22). The use of the second person plural pronoun (you) in these verses strongly suggests that the start of human life begins at inception. This is not to mention the multiple verses forbidding one from killing one’s children due to poverty, fear of poverty, or out of shame or folly.

The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) similarly offers sufficient indication that even though the fetus is not fully formed, it is still an actualized existence and living creature. The Prophet reportedly said, “The miscarried fetus will remain humbly lying with its face down at the gates of heaven saying, ‘I will only enter when my parents do.’”[7] Similarly, it is reported that when the second caliph ‘Umar b. al-Khattab ordered that an adulteress discovered to be pregnant be stoned to death, the companion, Mu’adh b. Jabal, said to him, “Even if you have a right to punish her, you do not have a right to punish what is in her belly.”[8] The Prophet and his followers after him never executed a pregnant woman guilty of a capital crime until she gave birth and someone had taken on the care of the child. In addition, they imposed a hefty fine on those who were directly responsible for a woman’s miscarriage.[9] All of this indicates that the fetus is to be respected from the time the male’s sperm reaches the ovum of the woman.

Imam Al-Razi’s Ethical Reflection on the Qur’anic Verse, 6:140

God says in the Qur’an, “Ruined are those who murder their children foolishly without knowledge and forbid what God has provided them with while inventing falsehoods against God. They have strayed and are not guided aright” (6:140).

About this verse, Imam Fakr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210) comments,

Many issues relate to the verse: the first issue is that God mentioned, in the preceding verse, their murder of their children while depriving themselves of the sustenance that God provided them with. Then, God brings these two matters together in this verse while clarifying to them all that is a logical consequence of this judgment, such as ruin, folly, lack of knowledge, the deprivation of what God has provided them, false statements against God, straying, and the privation of guidance. So these are seven characteristics, each of which is an independent cause for censure. The first is ruin (khusran), and that is because a child is an immense blessing from God upon a person, so when one strives to terminate its existence, he/she suffers great ruin and especially deserves great censure in life and a severe punishment in the hereafter due to terminating its existence. Censure in life is warranted because people say one has murdered one’s child out of fear of it eating one’s food. And there is no censure in life greater than such. Punishment in the hereafter is warranted because the closeness resulting from childbirth is one of the greatest sources of love. Then, upon achieving it, one sets out to deliver the greatest of harms to it [the child], thereby committing one of the gravest sins. As a consequence, one of the greatest punishments is warranted. The second is folly (safahah), which is an expression of condemnable frivolousness. That is because the murder of the child is only committed in light of the fear of poverty. And, even though poverty is itself a harm, murder is a much graver harm. Additionally, this murder is actualized, while the poverty [feared] is merely potential (mawhum). So enforcing the maximum harm in anticipation of a potential minimal harm is, without doubt, folly. The third regards God’s saying, “without knowledge.” The intent is that this folly was only born of the absence of knowledge. And there is no doubt that ignorance is one of the most objectionable and despicable of things. The fourth regards depriving one’s self of what God has made lawful. It is also one of the worst kinds of stupidity, because one denies one’s self those benefits and good things, becoming entitled by reason of that deprivation of the severest torment and chastisement. The fifth is blaspheming God. And it is known that boldness against God and blaspheming Him is one of the cardinal sins. The sixth is straying from prudence (rushd) with relation to the interests of the faith (din) and the benefits found in the world. The seventh is that they are not guided aright. The benefit of it is that a person might stray from the truth but may return to proper guidance. So God clarifies that they have strayed without ever obtaining proper direction. So it is established that God has censured those described as having murdered children and denied what God has made lawful for them, with these seven characteristics necessitating the worse types of censure. And that is the ultimate hyperbole.[10]

The Ethical Contentions of a Moroccan Mufti

We have already quoted Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil of Morocco. Like the medieval scholars, he maintained a very conservative opinion on abortion, allowing it only if the mother’s life was at risk. The following is a list of his nine ethical contentions against abortion and those scholarly opinions allowing it. The bulk of what follows is a literal translation of his views. Regarding why abortion is immoral, he says:

  • Firstly, it is a transgression against a vulnerable creature who has committed neither sin nor crime, a denial of it from its right to existence and life that God has given it and Islam has guaranteed as well as the taking of a life in some situations.
  • Secondly, it is a clear challenge to God’s will and a demonstratively defiant act meant to stubbornly contend with God’s action, creative will, and judgment. And that manifests itself in the murder of what God has created, the voiding of its existence, and a commission of what He deems unlawful.
  • Thirdly, it a decisively demonstrative proof of hard-heartedness, the absence of mercy, and the loss of motherly and fatherly affection or rather the loss of humanity from the hearts of those who daringly undertake the act of abortion with dead hearts and wicked dark souls.
  • Fourthly, it is the epitome of self-centeredness, selfishness, narcissism, and sacrifice of what is most precious¾one’s own flesh and blood, sons and daughters¾to gratify the self and enjoy life and its attractions far away from the screams of infants, the troubles of children, and the fatigue resulting from them.
  • Fifthly, it is a practical expression of one’s bad opinion of God, the lack of trust in His promise to which He decisively bounded Himself to guarantee the sustenance of His creation and servants. It also shows ignorance of His saying, “And, there is not a single creature on earth except that God is responsible for its sustenance, just as He knows its resting place and place from which it departs. Every thing is in a manifest record (Q 11:6); as well as His saying, “And do not kill your children due to poverty. We will provide for you as well as for them” (Q 6:151); in addition to His saying, “And, do not kill your children out of fear of poverty. We will provide for them and for you” (Q 17:31). This is in addition to other verses and prophetic traditions that indicate that all provisions are in God’s control and that no soul will die until it exacts its sustenance in full as the Prophet said.
  • Sixthly, it is a bloody war against the Islamic goal, introduced by the Prophet and to which he called and strongly encouraged, of population growth and increase in posterity.
  • Seventhly, it undermines the aims of the Islamic moral code that considers the preservation of offspring to be one of the five essentials upon which the sanctified revealed moral code is built.
  • Eighthly, it goes against the nature to which God has disposed both animals and human beings to of love of children, childbearing, and the survival of progeny….
  • Ninthly, it is the grossest display of bad manners towards God and the epitome of ingratitude towards a blessing and the rejection of it. And that is because both pregnancy and children are among God’s favors upon His servants and among His gifts to the expectant mother and her husband.

These are some important matters of consideration. Every Muslim, woman, and man, will ultimately need to decide what burdens he/she is prepared to meet God with. While abortion is an emotionally charged matter, especially in Western politics, emotions play no role in the right or wrong of legislation. Although our laws currently may not consider a fetus aborted before its survival outside of the womb to be viable, the Muslim who understands that legal positivism does not trump objective or moral truths should be more conscientious and less cavalier in his/her attitude about the taking of life and removing the viability of life.


[1] Al-Ta’wil, Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Qasim. Shadharat al-Dhahab fi ma jadda fi Qadaya al-Nikah wa al-Talaq wa al-Nasab. Hollad: Sunni Pubs, 2010, p. 148.

[2] Muhammad b. ‘Abd Al-Baqi Al-Zurqani quotes Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr as saying,

They unanimously agreed that anyone who marries without mention of a particular condition while having the intention to remain with her for a period that he has in mind is permitted (ja’iz), and it is not a temporary marriage. However, Malik said this is not an attractive thing to do (laysi hadha min al-jamil). Nor is it part the conduct of moral people (la min akhlaq al-nas). Al-‘Awza’i took a solitary view saying that it is a temporary marriage. And, there is no good in it (la khayra fihi). ‘Ayyad stated it.

Al-Zurqani, Muhammad b. ‘Abd Al-Baqi b. Yusuf. Sharh al-Zurqani ‘ala Muwatta’ al-Imam Malik. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, (no date), 3/201.

[3] Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said about the prophetic tradition, “Kill whoever changes his lifepath”, “Some Shafi’i jurists clung to it concerning the killing of anyone who changes from one non-Islamic faith to another non-Islamic faith (din kufr)…”

Al-‘Asqalani, Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Hajar. Fath Al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari. Muhammad Fu’ad ‘Abd Al-Baqi Edition. Riyadh: Al-Maktabah Al-Salafiyyah, (no date), 12/272.

[4] Al-Ra’ini, Muhammad al-Hattab. Qurrah al-‘Ayn bi Sharh Waraqat al-Imam al-Haramayn. Beirut: Mu’assassah al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyyah, 2013, p. 78.

[5] Al-Wazzani, Abu ‘Isa Sidi al-Mahdi. Al-Nawazil Al-Jadidah Al-Kubra fi ma li Ahl Fas wa ghayrihim min al-Badw wa al-Qura al-Musammah bi Al-Mi’yar Al-Jadid Al-Jami’ Al-Mu’rib ‘an Fatawa al-Muta’akhkhirin min ‘Ulama al-Maghrib. Rabat: Wizarah al-Awqaf wa al-Shu’un al-Islamiyyah, 1997, 3/376.

[6] Al-Ghazali, Muhammad Abu Hamid. Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din. Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, p. 491.

[7] This is how Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi relates the report as related by Al-Wazzani in his Nawazil 3/376. In the Musnad of Abu Hanifah, however, the Prophet reportedly said, “You will see the miscarried fetus filled with rage.” When it is asked, “Enter Paradise”, it will respond, “Not until my parents come in [too].” Al-Hanafi, Mulla ‘Ali Al-Qari. Sharh Musnad Abi Hanifah. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1985, p. 252.

[8] Ibn ‘Asakir, Abu al-Qasim ‘Ali b. al-Hasan. Tarikh Madinah Dimashq wa Dhikr Fadliha wa Tasmiyah man hallaha min al-Amathil aw ijtaza bi Nawahiha min Waridiha wa Ahliha. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1997, p. 342.

[9] Among the fines due for causing the miscarriage of a fetus are: 1) prison or flogging; 2) the penance for murder (kaffarah), which is the freeing of a slave, fasting two consecutive months which is compulsory for Shafi’is and recommended for Malikis; and 3) the gifting of a slave to the woman who lost her child.

[10] Al-Razi, Fakr al-Dina. Tafsir al-Fakr al-Razi al-Mushtahir bi Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir wa Mafatih al-Ghayb. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1981, pp. 220-221

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Blessed Are The Volunteers | Imam Omar Suleiman

Our communities would not be able to survive Ramadan without these precious souls

Imam Omar Suleiman

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As the rows line up for prayer and the mosques are bursting at the seams, there is a small group of people that watch our backs, arrange our possessions, and prepare to nourish us after our prayers. They’re none other than the volunteers.

It’s not easy being one of them.

You hear the soothing recitation of the Quran in a prayer you’re not able to join because you’re on volunteer duty. And you also hear the painful nonstop complaints about how you’re not doing a good enough job. In those moments it’s easy to throw your arms up and say, “I’m not getting paid for this!” But there are so many better ways to be paid than money.

Allah’s rate is higher and more everlasting.

That doesn’t excuse the people from paying you basic necessary courtesy. Nor does it give you license to be unnecessarily harsh with those you’ve been blessed to serve. Know dear brother and sister that the reward of every prayer performed, every good word spoken, every stomach fed, every tear shed in humility, and every interaction held in tranquility is potentially on your scale of good deeds when you serve Allah through serving His people.

We may not always appreciate you, but Allah never loses sight of you.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the reward of the one who serves the fasting person is the reward of that persons fast without decreasing from the reward of the doer in any way. What then of the prayer you facilitate that nourishes the soul? Charity is vast, and the heart of a charitable spirit must be vaster.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم “كُلُّ سُلَامَى مِنْ النَّاسِ عَلَيْهِ صَدَقَةٌ، كُلَّ يَوْمٍ تَطْلُعُ فِيهِ الشَّمْسُ تَعْدِلُ بَيْنَ اثْنَيْنِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَتُعِينُ الرَّجُلَ فِي دَابَّتِهِ فَتَحْمِلُهُ عَلَيْهَا أَوْ تَرْفَعُ لَهُ عَلَيْهَا مَتَاعَهُ صَدَقَةٌ، وَالْكَلِمَةُ الطَّيِّبَةُ صَدَقَةٌ، وَبِكُلِّ خُطْوَةٍ تَمْشِيهَا إلَى الصَّلَاةِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَتُمِيطُ الْأَذَى عَنْ الطَّرِيقِ صَدَقَةٌ”.
[رَوَاهُ الْبُخَارِيُّ]
، [وَمُسْلِمٌ].

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said “Every joint of a person must perform a charity each day that the sun rises: to judge justly between two people is a charity. To help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is a charity. And the good word is a charity. And every step that you take towards the prayer is a charity, and removing a harmful object from the road is a charity.” (Bukhari) (Muslim)

All of this is at your disposal as you welcome people into the houses of Allah with a smile, which is also a charity, seeking no smile but the smile of the Divine on the day of judgment. You may be exhausted in these days of service, but you also are running away with the rewards of everyone’s worship. When someone fails to appreciate you, look forward to the appreciation of Allah as compensation. When someone advises you, smile at them again and consider their counsel.

Blessed is your station, and blessed is your service.

May we not abuse you or fail to appreciate you. May we be patient with you, and you with us. May the prayers we perform elevate us, and you. May our hearts be purified and brought together. May we all make the sacrifices needed to gain Allah’s pleasure, and relieve each other’s pressure. May we all be volunteers freed from our egos, and freely smiling at all in our paths.

May Allah accept you and us on that blessed night of Laylatul Qadr, and allow us to observe with worship, service, and sincerity. Ameen

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