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Positively Muslim in The West: Blind and in her 70s | Hifdh Student Umm Uthman

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Gateway to all Ramadan related posts on MM

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This is the newest monthly recognition of outstanding and inspiring Muslims, residing in the West. We hope to showcase the talents and contributions of these individuals to the Muslim Ummah. Feel free to nominate other talented Muslim individuals, who have made a positive contribution to the society by emailing: info@muslimmatters.org.

Our newest, “Positively Muslim in the West” recognition specifically for Ramadan goes to Umm Uthman, an elderly blind sister residing in the East Coast.

Asma bint Yazid raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Shall I tell you who is the best of you?” “Yes,” they replied. He said, “Those who remind you of Allah when you see them.” [Adab al Mufrad]

I love watching her, especially when she prays. She doesn’t see me looking at her, but every time I see Umm Uthman, I become overwhelmed with emotion and humility. She is of the few people that truly remind me of Allah azza wa jal every single time I see her. She is one of the even fewer people that I truly see noor glowing from their face. Whenever I go to greet her, she will hold my hand tightly and feel my wrist, as if it’s how she recognizes me now that she cannot see. Her strong memory puts me to shame as she asks me about things I told her months or years ago like I told her about it yesterday.

The reason why Umm Uthman is receiving recognition is not because she is a blind elderly woman, but because she is a blind student of the Qur’an striving to complete her memorization in her 70s.

Umm Uthman, as I will refer to her in this post, is a family friend of my parents. She is a woman in her late 70s who still wears full khimar (below her knees) and jilbab although she is beyond the age of covering.

I first met her nearly 10 years  ago when she still had her eyesight, but it was beginning to weaken due to a brain tumor which alhamdulillah was removed. I remember going to visit her and she would use the walls as a support/guide to navigate in her house. As her sight started to go and ultimately went, she never once openly complained or talked in such a way that caused others to pity her. Now being completely blind, she has the support of her children or grandchildren guiding her and a walking stick.

After Umm Uthman and her family moved a bit further away from us, we didn’t see her and her family as much but still stayed in contact.

Last year, while attending a fundraiser for a local Qur’an school, the director of the school announced that they would like to introduce one of their special students. I thought it was going to be a very young child who perhaps finished their memorization, but instead I see Umm Uthman walk on the stage with the help of a sister. The director, knowing that Umm Uthman does not know English, goes on to tell the audience her story and that Umm Uthman is a hard working student of their school, coming regularly even though she crosses into the neighboring state to attend. He asked her to recite some Qur’an and she began to recite from a powerful surah that she recently finished memorizing:

ص ۚ وَالْقُرْآنِ ذِي الذِّكْرِ

Saad. By the Qur’an, full of reminders. (38:1)

I sat there, in complete awe, as this blind elderly woman recited the Book of Allah moving  many in the audience to tears. I had no idea that she was a student at the school, so I was eager to talk to her after the event. She told me she just finished memorizing her seventh juz of Qur’an, mashaAllah. I asked her to recite her favorite surah to me, and she began to read from Surah Zumar:

تَنزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ مِنَ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ فَاعْبُدِ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصًا لَّهُ الدِّينَ

The revelation of this Book is from Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. Verily We have sent down the Book to you  in truth: So worship Allah (Alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah’s sake only. (39:1-2)

I finally got to see Umm Uthman again at the masjid for tarawih prayers. It has become my habit now that I ask her how much more she has memorized since our last conversation because she always increases in her hifdh mashaAllah. When I asked her after prayer, she told me she couldn’t remember the name of the surah but read the first ayah to me and I told her the name of the surah and that she has almost completed a third of the Qur’an mashaAllah.

I think of myself and all of the youth who have the ability to read and see the words of Allah while she cannot, who may know Arabic while she does not, who have easy access to knowledge while she does not, yet we do not have a relationship with the Qur’an like Umm Uthman. Her determination and love for the Qur’an is an inspiration to me, so I hope that inshaAllah you will be inspired as well.

I interviewed Umm Uthman after tarawih prayers and asked her a few questions (this is a translation of her answers):

Q: Why do you memorize the Qur’an?

I memorize to remove myself from the hell-fire and to receive the bishaarah (glad tidings) of Jannah. Through the Qur’an I seek the hereafter.

Q: What is your routine like for memorizing and reviewing?

Before I started going to the Qur’an school, I would memorize only one ayah every week. I memorize more at the Qur’an school now, maybe seven-eight ayat a week. I have tapes that I listen to and repeat with, that is how I memorize, repeating the ayah over and over. I ask my grandchildren to help me with the tapes and to read the ayat with me as well.

Q: Did you hear any negative words from anyone, such as you’re too old to memorize?

A man once came to the school and saw me reviewing and told my teacher, “why is this old woman here?! what is the point of her learning??” and the my teacher responded, “you don’t know her, she is almost done memorizing the Qur’an!” Alhamdulillah, no one else at the school said anything to me, they all encourage me.

Q: What is your favorite surah to recite?

Surah Zumar! I love reciting it in prayer.

Q: What is special to you about the Qur’an?

It is my way of coming close to Allah. Through the Qur’an, I seek nearness to Him. [Note: she then began talking about the Qur’an like it was her friend]

Q: What advice do you have for the youth and those who want to memorize?

May Allah guide them and us! I advise them to seek to come closer to Allah and to find peace in memorizing His Book – may Allah continue to guide them. Our deen and imaan are the most valuable to us.

After asking her these questions, I narrated to her the hadith qudsi of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

“Allah, the Glorious and Exalted said: “When I afflict my slave in his two dear things (i.e., his eyes), and he endures patiently, I shall compensate him for them with Jannah.” [Bukhari]

She responded to me in the affirmative, that she knew this hadith and that she is patient with her eyesight only for the sake of Allah. She then said to me a beautiful statement: “When you have imaan in your heart, true imaan, then that is your eyesight.” Indeed she spoke the truth as Allah ta’ala says in surah Hajj:

فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَـٰكِن تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ

Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind. (22:46)

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) narrated in an authentic hadith, “The helpers (awliya’) of Allah the Exalted are those whom, when they are seen, Allah is remembered.” (Sahih al Jaami’)

I ask Allah ta’ala to make Umm Uthman from His Awliyaa’, from the Companions of the Qur’an and its People. May Allah grant her a good end with the glad tidings of angels in this life and ultimate success with the greetings of the angels in the next, Ameen.

Amatullah is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amatullah

    August 31, 2009 at 11:21 PM

    One thing I did not include in the article that I really love about her is that she actually FACES you when you’re talking to her. She knows which direction you are even if you’re 20 feet away, subhanAllah.

    I am truly mesmerized by her, and I ask that our love for her is a sign of Allah’s Love for her, Ameen.

    (PS- That is an actual picture of her I took tonight at the masjid)

    I only got to speak to her briefly for this interview, so if anyone has anymore questions, please add to the comments and I will talk to her tomorrow inshaAllah.

    • Avatar

      Yusuf Smith

      September 1, 2009 at 4:38 AM

      As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

      This is fairly common with people who have lost their eyesight; they still have all the mannerisms and habits they had as a sighted person. A person who lost their sight early on, or never had it, often won’t ‘look’ at you when they speak to you, since they never picked this up.

  2. Avatar

    isms

    September 1, 2009 at 12:09 AM

    This post made me all teary eyed. May Allah SWT grant her jannah for all of her hardwork. She is truly inspiring.

  3. Amad

    Amad

    September 1, 2009 at 12:33 AM

    Truly a star and role-model mashallah.
    Jazakillahkhair for sharing.

  4. Avatar

    vindicated

    September 1, 2009 at 1:03 AM

    Her efforts to learn the Qur’an definitely put my efforts to shame.

    Insha’Allah I’ll use this opportunity to increase my efforts too!

  5. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 1, 2009 at 2:12 AM

    Ameen to all your duat and hers, sister. MashaAllah, beautiful is the subject of your article, beautiful is the objective she seeks, and beautiful is the language with which you convey these reminders to us of the Mercy of Allah and the strength of the believers.

    Allaho Akbar! Takbeer wa tabaarakAllah!

  6. Pingback: Positively Muslim in The West: Ramadan Special with Umm Uthman … | Online - Online.com.pt

  7. Avatar

    Arif

    September 1, 2009 at 2:33 AM

    وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ – And it will be said, “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.” (Last Ayah of Surah Zumar)

  8. Pingback: Positively Muslim in The West: Ramadan Special with Umm Uthman | MuslimMatters.org « Yahyasheikho786's Blog

  9. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    September 1, 2009 at 3:39 AM

    So, so inspiring! May Allah grant her the highest level of Jannah, and us a will and resolve such as hers to become one of the Ahl Al-Quran..
    Jazaakillahu khairan, Amatullah. Great interview and beautiful article!

  10. Avatar

    Anisa

    September 1, 2009 at 6:32 AM

    Asalaamu Alaaikum

    MashaAllah tabarkAllah, such a beautiful article, I love this great Muslimah may Allah bless her and grant her the ability to finish the Quran ameen

    I look forward to each article in mail may Allah reward all the MM authors/contributors, ameen

  11. Avatar

    ummimaryam

    September 1, 2009 at 6:35 AM

    Alhamdulillah..Alhamdulillah..Alhamdulillahee rabbil aalaameen

    Jazakumallahu khairaa sister for the beautiful article.Mashaallah.

  12. Avatar

    Abu Harun

    September 1, 2009 at 6:44 AM

    salaam alaikum wr wb,

    This story had me at the first hadith

    Asma bint Yazid radi Allahu anha reported that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Shall I tell you who is the best of you?” “Yes,” they replied. He said, “Those who remind you of Allah when you see them.” [Adab al Mufrad, Graded Hasan by Shaykh Albaani]

    And the story of that old lady can surely make a grown man sub.

    wa salaam alaikum wr wb

    Abu Harun

  13. Avatar

    MR

    September 1, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    This post has humbled me to an ant in front of an elephant.

    May Allah grant the highest Jannah for Umm Uthman. Ameen!

  14. Avatar

    Tanveer

    September 1, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    SubhanaAllah.

    Its truly inspiring and heart warming, jazakallah khair.

    I am shameful that I do not posses the love and respect to book of Allah, as she does. I ask Allah to guide and help me and all those who still have eyesight and have neglected Quran to thank Allah for the blessing (eyesight) and be inspired to memorize and understand Quran.

    Jazakallah khair

  15. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    September 1, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    La ilaha illAllah! Abooto puts us all to shame. She’s a living Torch Bearer, these types of stories are too unbelievable to read about (I believe it…I’m just saying!)

  16. Avatar

    sis

    September 1, 2009 at 5:22 PM

    Asalamu Alikum

    Allahu Akbar! what a moving an inspiring sister, mashaAllah tabarakaAllah. Jazaki Allah khair.

  17. Avatar

    Rafa

    September 1, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    Masha Allah, this article has truly inspired and humbled me. May Allah bless Umm Uthman with Jannah! And may He guide us all so that we may be like her. Jazakallah khair.

  18. Avatar

    ASC

    September 1, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    Truly a touching story, their are many lessons for us to learn from this article..JAK for sharing..it brought tears to my eyes

  19. Avatar

    Umm Ahmad

    September 2, 2009 at 4:11 AM

    Asslamu alikum

    Mashaa’Allah very very inspiring article,may Allah reward Umm Uthman and gather her with the mothers of the believers in the highest rank of Jannah .
    Jazaki Allah khair sister for sharing and Please convey my greetings to Umm Uthman.

  20. Avatar

    Abu Zak

    September 2, 2009 at 5:52 AM

    Mashallah!!

  21. Avatar

    mcpagal

    September 2, 2009 at 5:12 PM

    mA – so inspirational and touching!

  22. Pingback: Big Damn Hero. « Running Muslimah

  23. Avatar

    aicha

    September 10, 2009 at 1:12 AM

    Assalamoalaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,

    I know one sister who is blind but so determined to learn the deen, reading the story of Umm Uthman reminded me of the sister… I pray that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala make us follow the footsteps of these pious sisters… May Allah increase us in Eman and love for Allah, His Book and His Prophet SallAallahu Alayhi Wassalam. This is Allah’s love for Umm Uthman that so many people who dont even know her are making Dua for her – it is beautiful! May Allah give us taufeeq to learn and memorize the Qur’an as well and make it means for us to come closer to Allah and may Allah make the Quran the means to raise our levels in Jannah – verse by verse InshaAllah. O’ Allah make us of those who love Quran, love reading it, love learning it, love memorizing it, love teaching it and love living it. Ameen.

    • Avatar

      sis

      July 27, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      ameen!!

  24. Avatar

    Bint Alam

    April 21, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    @ Sister Amatullah, I know a sister who has a four months old daughter, her first child, who continuously cried for 4months and didn’t sleep at night at all, this mother when diagnosed her child found she had a heart problem, they did a surgery on her, then after it when they did her eco the doctors found her left artery is smaller than her right one…subhaanAllaah…Allaah truly tests the believers….and this siter has been a live example of strength, patience and trust on Allaah for me…..is it possible that I get an interview from her and send it to you to check it and if you think it’s suitable for MM readers you could post it in sha Allah.

  25. Avatar

    Musodiq Bello

    July 1, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    Very inspiring! May Allah bless Umm Uthman and sis Amatullah. Three years after this article was written, I would love to have an update on Umm Uthman please.

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#Life

10 Steps Towards A Green Ramadan

Abu Ryan Dardir

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The holy month of Ramadan is upon us. While people get excited and dedicate every minute they can to worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), Ramadan is also a good time to create good habits that please Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and to better oneself in our daily routines. Making your Ramadan a Green Ramadan, is a pledge to reduce bad habits from previous years that we do not see as a concern. Here are a few simple suggestions (that we may be otherwise unaware of) of how to go green this Ramadan:

  1. Start Ramadan by making the right intentions.

The first thing we do is have the right intentions. What is your intention this Ramadan? Create realistic goals for yourself, and your community!

 

  1. Give up your CO2 contribution by traveling light and smart.

During Ramadan, our visits to the masjid increases, and for some people they can be making multiple visits a day. While driving is unavoidable, try and carpool to reduce emissions that harm our environment and health. Additionally, make it into an act of worship!

“حَدَّثَنَا زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا جَرِيرٌ، عَنْ سُهَيْلٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ دِينَارٍ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ الإِيمَانُ بِضْعٌ وَسَبْعُونَ أَوْ بِضْعٌ وَسِتُّونَ شُعْبَةً فَأَفْضَلُهَا قَوْلُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَدْنَاهَا إِمَاطَةُ الأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ وَالْحَيَاءُ شُعْبَةٌ مِنَ الإِيمَانِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Faith has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no god but Allah, and the humblest of which is the, removal of what is injurious from the path: and modesty is the branch of faith.”

Other options can include walking and biking to the masjid. Walking to the masjid is great as you can increase in zhikr (remembrance) of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ دِينَارٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ

عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ يَأْتِي قُبَاءً مَاشِيًا وَرَاكِبًا‏.‏

Narrated Ibn `Umar:

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to go to the Quba’ mosque, sometimes walking, sometimes riding.”

 

حَدَّثَنَا الْحُسَيْنُ بْنُ الأَسْوَدِ الْعِجْلِيُّ الْبَغْدَادِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ آدَمَ، عَنِ الْحَسَنِ بْنِ صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي بِشْرٍ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، قَالَ تَسْبِيحَةٌ فِي رَمَضَانَ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ أَلْفِ تَسْبِيحَةٍ فِي غَيْرِهِ ‏.‏

Az-Zuhri said:

“A Tasbihah in Ramadan is better than a thousand Tasbihah in other that it.”

 

  1. Spend meaningful energy, conserve wasteful energy.

Another way to enhance our worship is to be diligent when making wudu. Do not be wasteful and open the taps full on. Water is becoming scarce, and the way we make wudu is not of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ حَنْبَلٍ، حَدَّثَنَا هُشَيْمٌ، أَخْبَرَنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ أَبِي زِيَادٍ، عَنْ سَالِمِ بْنِ أَبِي الْجَعْدِ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَغْتَسِلُ بِالصَّاعِ وَيَتَوَضَّأُ بِالْمُدِّ ‏.‏

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to take a bath with a sa’ (of water) and perform ablution with a mudd (of water).” [A mudd is roughly two handfuls of water]

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-`Aas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) passed one day by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) while he was performing wudu. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) asked Sa`d, “Why is this wastage?” Sa`d replied “Is there wastage in wudu also?” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Yes, even if you are at a flowing river.”

Consider conserving more water when making wudu. Conserve electricity by shutting off the TV and computer, and opening the Holy book.

 

  1. Have a healthy Ramadan through a proper diet.

Here we talk about our diets and how to implement a more prophetic one. We fast all day and can’t wait to eat. Our eyes become bigger than our stomachs. The sunnah is actually very different. It asks us for less not more.

حَدَّثَنَا سُوَيْدُ بْنُ نَصْرٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ، أَخْبَرَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ عَيَّاشٍ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ الْحِمْصِيُّ، وَحَبِيبُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ جَابِرٍ الطَّائِيِّ، عَنْ مِقْدَامِ بْنِ مَعْدِيكَرِبَ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ بِحَسْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلاَتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لاَ مَحَالَةَ فَثُلُثٌ لِطَعَامِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِشَرَابِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِنَفَسِهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Miqdam bin Ma’dikarib said:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘The human does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If this is not possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and third for his breath.”

We eat till we can’t move, and this impacts our tharaweeh prayers and standing before Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ramadan is meant to be the opposite of this; it is a time to be humble, not extravagant. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

“O children of Adam! Attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.” [Surah A’raf; 31]

Ramadan is a time to detox ourselves: mind, body and soul. Add more vegetarian options, do not over-eat, and use locally sourced foods. Avoid fizzy drinks, or anything high in sugar content – as an alternative use honey. Avoid deep-fried foods or enjoy in moderation (like once a week). Start and end your fast with green or herbal tea to cleanse the stomach after a day of fasting in order to help flush the toxins out.

We also don’t want to create more than what we could possibly consume, then the leftovers are at risk of being thrown out.  Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) have mercy on him) said:

“With regard to bread, meat and other kinds of food, it is not permissible to throw them in the dumpster; rather they should be given to those who need them, or they should be put in a visible place where they will not be mistreated, in the hope that someone who needs them for his animals will take them, or they will be eaten by some animals or birds.”

 

     5. Commit random acts of kindness

Try smiling at people that pass by, greet the street guards, or just randomly express your gratitude for a friend. Volunteer your time at the local mosque, or in the community for an initiative you are passionate about – or start a new one!

 

6.Celebrate Ramadan by breaking a bad habit

We all face our own challenges and bad habits. Ramadan is the perfect time to end that sugar or nicotine addiction, watch less TV, walk more, give up bad language, or even fix your sleeping cycle.

 

     7.Charity is more than giving money to a good cause

For zakat, consider a local organization that is doing good work to protect the under privileged or the environment. Starting an initiative at your school, workplace or local mosque to make a real difference.

 

     8.Host an eco-Iftar that will be the talk of the town

Show that you care for the environment and host an iftar that produces no waste, recycles, uses biodegradable cutlery and dishware, or invite others to bring their own dishware! Most importantly, serve a healthy, and locally sourced iftar meal.

 

 9.Green your Eid, celebrate in style

By all means, treat yourself to a nice new outfit. Just try and ensure that you are supporting local industry, and that the dyes used are not polluting the water streams. When giving Eidi to children, highlight the importance of using it responsibly: buying nothing unnecessary or anything that will harm planet, your body or community, and to consider paying it forward to a local charity to earn extra reward.

 

     10.Reflect on what you’ve achieved this month

By staying focused, observing your behavior, lifestyle and habits, you will have become much more mindful and aware by the end of the month. Make sure you stay consistent!

 

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، عَنْ أَبِي سُهَيْلٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِذَا جَاءَ رَمَضَانُ فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened.”

Ramadan is the most beautiful month, a month of worship, good deeds, family, and community. The gates of Paradise are opened, so take advantage of it. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) give us the opportunity to improve ourselves for His sake, to see Ramadan, and leave Ramadan with His pleasure upon us.

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#Society

Shaykh Dr Hussain Sattar : A Celebrity In Medical Education

Hena Zuberi

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By Nancy Averett

When Hussain Sattar, MD, took a leave of absence from medical school to study Arabic and Islamic spirituality in Islamabad, Pakistan, he spent his days in a classroom that had walls made of clay and would heat up to 120 degrees in the summer. In the winter, the unheated classrooms were freezing — Islamabad sits at the foothills of the Himalayas — and Sattar, who was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, sat on the floor with the other students shivering and dreaming of summer.

It was a far cry from the University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate and medical degrees and later did his internship, residency and fellowship. Besides the lack of creature comforts, his instructors did not have fancy diplomas from prestigious universities. But there was a Pakistani teacher who made an impression on Sattar — one that planted the seed for Sattar’s wildly successful textbook and video series on pathology known as Pathoma.

“This teacher always came to class without notes,” Sattar said, recalling the instructor with the gray beard who smiled often and dressed in the traditional Pakistani garb of loose pants and tunic-like shirt. “He would say, ‘If I can’t tell you about it from the top of my head, then I shouldn’t be telling you about it at all.’” The man lectured passionately, as if there were 3,000 people in the room instead of eight, but what the young American medical student found most impressive was his skill distilling colossal amounts of material. “He had this ability to take vast amounts of information and summarize it in the most eloquent, simple, principle-based method,” Sattar said.

“He has this amazing way of explaining concepts. He simplifies things to the most basic elements.”

Fast forward nearly 20 years and that is exactly what thousands of medical students who use Pathoma say about Sattar. “He has a remarkable gift for clarity,” said Palmer Greene, a third-year student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “He can take the pathophysiology of any organ system and present the information in a way that makes the entire mechanism click in your head.” Lucy Rubin, a fourth-year at Tufts University School of Medicine, has similar praise: “He has this amazing way of explaining concepts,” she said. “He simplifies things to the most basic elements.”

It took years, Sattar says, to get to that point. After two-and-a-half years in the Middle East — he also spent time in Syria — he returned to Chicago to start his fourth year at Pritzker, worried that he had forgotten what he had learned while he’d been away. “When I came back, that was the hardest month of my life,” he recalled. “I remembered very little and I was thrown back into that medical school environment, in which there’s not much forgiveness for not knowing things.” Each night he focused on what he needed to know to get through the next day, eventually catching up.

At the same time, he started to look at his medical knowledge differently, realizing he had been memorizing details but missing the big picture. “I began to think, ‘Why don’t I rearrange this and reprocess this in this way?’” he said. “I did a tremendous amount of reading so I could see how different people were saying the same thing until I had it organized into different folders in my mind.” For example, he said, understanding the pathology of the different anemias was challenging until he came up with this method: “The way I think about anemia is I go back to biochemistry and focus on hemoglobin. That’s what a red blood cell is. It’s just a ball full of hemoglobin with a membrane around it. So I teach anemia based on hemoglobin and talk about different things that can happen to hemoglobin from a biochemistry perspective, how it relates to anemia, and how you can organize much of anemia through this overlying principle of understanding the biochemistry of hemoglobin.”

Building a career, writing day and night

At the same time Sattar was reorganizing his understanding of medicine, he was also building his career. In his fourth year, he completed a pathology rotation and decided he liked the specialty, in part because patient interaction was minimal, affording him more time for reflection. “I’m someone who needs to digest something before I can feel comfortable with it,” he said. “Pathology sort of lent itself to that.”

Sattar completed his residency at the University of Chicago Medicine, eventually joining the faculty as a surgical pathologist specializing in breast pathology. He is associate director of Clinical Pathophysiology and Therapeutics, a second-year course at Pritzker. He has earned a number of teaching honors — including Outstanding Basic Science Teaching and Favorite Faculty awards — and became a top-ranked instructor for Kaplan Medical, where he taught review courses for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1.

It wasn’t until 2010, however, that he decided to try out the techniques of his Pakistani mentor combined with his own hard-won pathology knowledge. He asked Dean Holly Humphrey, MD’83, if he could teach an elective course for Pritzker students preparing for Step 1.

He sent out an email, imagining he might get 30 students to sign up. Instead he got 90. “I was teaching it the way I felt pathology should be taught, just me sitting and chatting with the students, no notes, nothing,” he said. “Just me talking about how I think about different principles of pathology and how I tie different basic science principles in with disease states. It’s about memorizing less and understanding more.”

After that, he decided to write the textbook that would become part of the Pathoma course, Fundamentals of Pathology. “I began writing day and night,” he said. “I literally hired someone to drive me back and forth from home to work so I could sleep in the car.” In his basement, with his wife and children upstairs asleep, he recorded the videos, turning off the furnace or air conditioner, depending on the season, so the noise wouldn’t affect the sound quality — he wanted to keep expenses low so that Pathoma would be affordable (it sells for about $100).

Nine months later, he published the book and videos — and no one bought them.

“I was so sad,” he recalled. “I hired my own editor, my own layout person, my own reviewers, I did everything on my own — to the extent of sampling the paper stock — because I wanted this to be exactly my vision.” After a few months, a student suggested that Sattar give sample lectures from Pathoma at other medical schools. The advice worked. Soon news of Pathoma went viral. Since 2011, more than 6 million hours of video lessons have been viewed online through the portal on pathoma.com. And students from all over the country and the world praise it on message boards, blogs and in social media:

Pathoma is the best thing i have ever done, i was an avg student that almost failed pathology in med school .. took step1 a month ago and ended up with above avg in path with star on the performance scale.

I’ll say it loud and clear: Pathoma is the best single patho(physio)logy system out there . . . It is well-organized, informative, and is as digestible as lactose to a baby.

The guy who made pathoma gets my kidney if he ever needs it.

 

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#Current Affairs

Mosque: Back To The Future

Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter

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On a scale of things that many non-Muslims wouldn’t want built anywhere near where they live, the mosque probably comes somewhere between a landfill and Ebola sanatorium. It’s not that they are racist, Islamophobic, or elitist (although a proportion are), but they are definitely afraid.

This stems from a fear of the unknown or a misunderstanding of who Muslims are. Mosques seem like strange places, where strange people dressed in strange robes go and recite strange words multiple times a day. They aren’t sure what exactly goes on in there, but their imaginations fill in the blanks. This is the same as when Harems in houses and palaces were imagined as degenerate pleasure dens as opposed to literally just the private section of a home. Because non-Muslims rarely ventured into one, their minds filled in the gaps and a trope was born.

Add to this the reality of violent atrocities carried out by Muslims ostensibly in the name of Islam and we have a recipe for disaster. After all, surely there must be terrorist sympathising mosque where these people are being indoctrinated, trained and sent out to carry out their carnage? What most people don’t realise is that extremism runs from the bricks and mortar of a mosque to the relative security of dark rooms or the anonymity of the internet.

So how do we reimagine the masjid into a place that people not only tolerate having in their neighbourhoods, but actually prefer? How do we achieve Mosques driving up house prices in a more pleasant way than the gentrifying Starbucks or Costa Coffee?

Well, the answer lies in the history of the Mosque itself. You see, to see a mosque as a place of worship is to see a smartphone as just a telephone. The original mosque, the mosque of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in Madinah, was so much more than just a musalla – a prayer space. It was a school, it was a community meeting place, it was a home for the displaced and so much more.

Mosques throughout the Muslim world continued this tradition and it reached its apogee in the Ottoman tradition of the Kulliye system where a Mosque complex would function on a variety of levels including hospice, hotel, soup kitchen, university, public baths, etc.

But somewhere in the chaos of the last few centuries, we’ve lost the versatility of the Mosque and turned it into a single function building. This had the predictable effect of making the mosque increasingly irrelevant to the lives of Muslims outside of prayer. It would be a place that you visited when you could for the sole purpose of prayer and if you didn’t pray – well then, there would be no need to visit it at all.

Non-Muslims had even less reason to visit a mosque. For a non-Muslim to visit a mosque, they had to go out of their way to humanise Muslims, to want to find out more and to have enough personal courage to overcome the fear of the unknown. As such, the majority of non-Muslims visiting mosques will either be tourists (if it’s a grand mosque), clerics from other religions (on an interfaith mission) or authority figures like politicians or police trying to get votes or reassure the community.

Enter the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA.) Founded in 2013, BIMA aims to unite Muslim healthcare professionals in the UK and to inspire them towards service of the community. Not just the Muslim community, but the entire UK community.

So how does BIMA aim to achieve this? Well, there are many initiatives including conferences, diabetes workshops, creating a toolkit for Muslim female surgeons who need a hijab for theatre and health promotion activities, just to name a few.

One of the events that aim to get across the vision of BIMA is Lifesavers. This is a project in association with the British Heart Foundation, where we are working towards turning every mosque in the country into a training centre for Basic Life Support.

Britain, like most countries of the world, lacks a National Basic Life Support training programme. Some countries and states make sure it is taught in school like Denmark and the city of Seattle in the USA. The results from these few trailblazers is remarkable. In Denmark, out of hospital survival from cardiac arrest has tripled. Yes, tripled. [1]

More than 50,000 people have cardiac arrests in the UK every single year. [2] For the vast majority of these cases, there is no out of hospital CPR undertaken and it is solely down to the emergency services to initiate the chain of survival. If we were able to create the first and most comprehensive national CPR programme in the UK, it would undoubtedly save lives. This in itself would be a major achievement.

Making the mosques the venues for teaching CPR would have an added benefit in making the mosque not just a spiritual space, but a practical one. It would demystify the mosque to the surrounding community, it would encourage more Muslim healthcare professionals to get involved in their local mosque and it would show Islam and Muslims in a diametrically opposite light to what we are usually portrayed.

As is so often the case, we need to go back to our past to save our future.

If you would like to find out more or get your own mosque involved email lifesavers@britishima.org

References:

[1] https://www.resus.org.uk/statements/teaching-cpr-to-all-school-children/

[2] http://www.anaesthesiajournal.co.uk/article/S1472-0299(12)00265-2/pdf

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