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Meeting and Greeting: Keys To Relationship Success

Bismillah

Each Eid, families get together and have dinner, or individually go to meet relatives both close and distant. There is socializing on a communal level, especially in Muslim majority areas, as people rekindle old ties, call up those of their kin they haven’t spoken to in a while, mail greeting cards, and attend corporate Eid gala’s and banquets. Sometimes, however, not all Muslims are able to successfully obliterate old grudges from their hearts and they find it difficult to visit someone who once wronged them or who’s certain habits they find decisively off-putting. At times like this, they are faced with few options about what to do. 

heart-networkFor the unmarried girl in her late twenties or early thirties (and perhaps more so for her mother), the greatest dread awaits her on Eid in the form of ladies’ incessant questions about proposals and whether she has snagged any eligible bachelor yet – and if not, why. Then ensue the endless suggestions, from threading her eyebrows right to fixing her weight and gait in order to fulfill this monumental goal as soon as possible.

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For the young man who has recently changed jobs or has not been promoted yet, he must deal with questions about his career and why he is not moving abroad or pursuing a job at a larger company.

“There is nothing left in this country, young man! Get out as soon as you get the chance.” 

For the young mother, it is her children’s “screen test” that must be passed at each gathering; from their hair, to their complexion, to their outfit, to their manners – everything is under observation on Eid by the onlookers. 

“Why is her hair thinning? Do you give her a balanced diet?”

“She’s darker this year, for some reason. She used to be so fair.”

“Why is he not eating rice? Do you not give him any?” 

Her parenting skills could be instantly judged if something is lacking; and if all is perfect i.e. her children are judged to be downright adorable, then she is asked when the next baby is on the way, and advised how necessary it is for mothers to have them all at once. 

Mostly, therefore, its all about the kind of questions that are asked, and the comments that are made during small talk and casual conversations on Eid, and the way they are put forward, that cause the greatest offense or pleasure, whichever way they are presented. 

I ponder a lot on what exactly it is that makes relationships with others successful, given that we all – without exception – possess weaknesses and bad habits that turn others off. How can all the parts of a motor come together despite their individual shapes and sizes to function smoothly towards a common objective? 

Whatever the enormity of our desire to do so be, we can definitely never change others’ behavior towards us – at least not directly and immediately so – because that is just not possible. There is no way we can change their actions, or some of their offensive and disturbing personal habits. In fact, the more we try to change someone else, the more frustrated we get, because our tries our bound to be futile. 

Maybe we do have the option to politely request a person not to act in a certain way around us, or to not say certain things to us that hurt our feelings. However, in my personal experience, if that action of theirs is a habit or an innate weakness (in particular, if they are grown adults, not younglings “passing through a phase”), it is bound to crop up again after a few weeks, months or years. Then we’ll be back to square one, will we not?! Examples? A colleague with a ‘sense of humor’ makes a loud jibe at your bald spot or paunch before everyone else twice or thrice during every gathering; a lady with a penchant for others’ family matters asks young wives outright whether they are using birth control or not; older cousins still extend their hands for a handshake and do not hesitate to jokingly slap you buddy-style on the back as they did in bygone childhood days, despite it being a few years since you started your demure hijab etc. What about that person who possesses a tendency for nameemah, and your squeaky protests of “Please, let’s talk about something else!” are ignored by a “Are you saying that I am doing gheebah?! But everyone must know what they did to that poor girl!” followed by a detailed, nitty-gritty account of the said divorce, peppered with suspicion-laced conjectures that could put a saucy soap opera script to shame!

It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Shall I not tell you what is falsehood? It is nameemah (gossip), transmitting what people say.” [Muslim]

Let’s not forget that sometimes it is the antics of visiting children and their manners that could easily tick off the host family. Leaving a trail of you-know-which-liquid on the floor when they go use the washroom; touching pastel cloth sofas with chocolate-cream covered hands (despite being offered plastic spoons to eat the gooey cake, they didn’t take up the offer!); entering the adults-only study or home library, turning on the host “Uncle’s” computer to play games, or rummaging through “Aunty’s” dresser without even asking, let alone feeling an iota of guilt! Children can become one of the prime reasons for some families no longer being eagerly invited to an Eid party.

Whilst we have been endorsed to forgive and forget, overlook and ignore, and repel negative emotions with positive ones, we should keep in mind the instructions of the Quran regarding making one’s enemies one’s close friends. The secret to changing someone’s hurtful behavior towards us is suggested in the Quran: 

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ

The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! He, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” [Surah Fussilat 41:34]

Therefore, the best way to succeed at relationships in general i.e. to be well-liked and respected, and to have many friends and devotees, with few or no enemies, is to always ignore or counteract anything that is negative or disliked with positive and good behavior or action. Even if we correct someone or stop them in the act when they are doing wrong, it should be done in a beautiful (ahsan) way. One way of repelling bad behavior with good, is to embody the kind of actions you wish others to emulate. If done consistently, eventually everyone takes notice of this and, human nature being inclined towards what is divinely endorsed, they try to adopt the same in their own lifestyle.

Below are a few tips to help achieve respect and acceptance when visiting people, and to avoid conflicts or offence. More importantly, these tips will, insha’Allah, help avoid those situations that facilitate major sins of the tongue, such as gheebah, nameemah, slander, gossip, rumor-mongering and fun-making. 

Watch and learn:

Whenever you meet someone at their home, or get initially acquainted with them, observe their habits and personal preferences keenly. Do they place coasters for their glasses on the table? Are shoes taken off in their home at the front door? Do they dislike being visited at home without a prior phone call? Are there times during the day at which they dislike receiving phone calls and visitors? Does the lady of the house appreciate or dislike others sauntering into her kitchen, keen to help her, opening up her cabinets and fridge to comment on the contents?

Some families love to have “open house” type of social get-togethers – in which their entire house is a free-for-all for their guests, with the children running amuck and the guests thronging all indoor rooms and the backyard; others have strict boundaries in their house which they prefer their guests to respect. Usually, bedrooms, private attached baths, the study and kitchen might be strictly off limits. Find out by observation before assuming anything about your host.

Being empathetic of other’s preferences goes a long way in ensuring mutual cordiality and long-term friendship and respect. You do not want to be the irritating person/family on their contact list, do you? Empathy is the best way to ensure that that does not happen.

Keep it “short and sweet”:

Joining relationships i.e. “Silah Al Rahm” can be done over the phone too, nowadays, if visiting is not possible, or by keeping the meeting short and sweet. When the guests overstay their welcome, tension is bound to arise. It follows the cycle of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, thus:

  • The Good: Small talk before dinner or refreshments, followed by a delicious dinner or snacks, and the rounding-off dessert that everyone enjoys.
  • The Bad: Some unnecessary joking, backbiting and gossip starts over post-dinner kahva or coffee. The hosts’ bedtime approaches and they start feeling uncomfortable, glancing at the clock often. The children start yawning and asking their parents when they will go home., or to bed
  • The Ugly: The guests literally lie back on the couches, putting their feet up and their hair down, settling in for a “good”, heart-to-heart repartee. A couple of hours pass with the conversation venturing into the no-no zone: all-out ill humor, gossip, drudging up bygone embarrassing incidents, and exchanging dirty jokes amid loud guffaws that make the wives exit the room in shame. The children have dozed off on the carpet or on sofa cushions. [Note: this can happen even in the homes of practicing Muslim families, if they allow some of their not-so-practicing guests to have their way therein. I have personally experienced that after some time goes by, or after dinner is over, some guests wander into the sitting area designated for the opposite gender, on the pretext of talking to someone there, and then settle down for a tête-à-tête after the preliminary exchange of greetings. There go the host family’s carefully planned arrangements for gender segregation!]

Keeping it ‘short and sweet’ means that the meeting ends after the first [“good”] stage, with everyone praying `isha in their own homes, if possible.

Practice what you preach: “Do not do unto others what you do not like being done unto you.” 

What is most important is to never stoop to someone’s level if they strike you ‘under the belt’, so to speak. This is what the Quran’s verse implies by advising us to “repel evil with that which is good”. Do not allow someone’s jokes or vile comments to affect your mood – in such situations, I usually try to remember the wise phrase: “the one who angers you, controls you”. Eventually, your tight-lipped but tenacious politeness in return for insults, probing questions and/or insensitive comments will make the oppressor (and even the others in the gathering witnessing the conversation) realize that he or she is not getting anywhere with you, and they will leave you alone. 

Make excuses for others: 

Last but not least, if someone does something that you do not like, try to make excuses for their behavior seventy times before jumping to any conclusion or even discussing the matter with someone else. Usually, if someone is in a bad mood, they might not be very cordial with you. Being patient will ensure that the relationship does not turn sour, and your patience will entice them to feel guilty about brushing you off and they will try to make amends.

However, if over a few years, their behavior does not change (and your excuses for them have long crossed well over the seventy mark), you should re-evaluate how you can stay in touch with them without jeopardizing your peace of mind and/or personal privacy. You can switch to just intermittent phone calls or virtual messaging (emails etc.) to join relations with such people.

As long as we, as Muslims, practice mutual respect for others and be empathetic enough to take well-dropped hints and wisely understand others’ gestures, our relationships can remain at the level at which we can be on each other’s “wanted for company” list of social contacts, instead of “run the other way if spotted” list.

We should ask ourselves some key questions to see where we stand: do pious people like to meet us, or not? When they see us, do they look the other way, or do they enthusiastically rush forward with their hand outstretched, their faces lighting up with glee? Do we receive more invitations than we send out? If, as an individual or as a family, you answer “yes” to these questions, then rejoice; because you are on the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad [صلى الله عليه و سلم]. If not, try to follow the tips above to ensure long-term relationship success and, insha’Allah, you’ll be there in no time at all.

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Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ameera

    October 21, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    *sigh* How true!

    I think I’d like to add something to it: When you stay and chit chat for too long, whether in your own home or when you’re visiting others, your own guard can slip. Really, for people who’re talkative (like me), it’s very easy to slip and indulge in gossip under different disguises. That’a why I’ve begun to find short phone calls and short visits are what is best.

    Also, with many people, I find it hard to find things to talk about… such as when a cousin will only talk of the latest fashion scene and music videos, it’s not really possible to carry on a conversation even on “neutral” topics such as the weather, common family events, etc. Your advice about keeping it short and sweet then is very helpful… in fact, to some, this principle is a “life-saver” when it comes to Silah-Rehmi (joining ties).

    I’m going to try and implement all of these InshAllah.

  2. Avatar

    Aurora

    October 21, 2009 at 2:42 AM

    *so reading this when I have time* JazakAllah khair for the indirect motivation.

  3. Avatar

    Yousuf

    October 21, 2009 at 5:58 AM

    Very good article!!

  4. Avatar

    I Love Hadith

    October 21, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    Masha’Allah, very nice article.

  5. Avatar

    tabassum

    October 21, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    very nicely written, enjoyed reading it :)

  6. Avatar

    Sh

    October 21, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    great article. Much needed reading for me =) Jazkallahu khayir!

  7. Avatar

    Faraz Omar

    October 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    How about being the first to question them? Keep questioning them till they don’t have to time to question you and then after you hear their answers, make an excuse and go over to the next… ? :P

    Ask them about their jobs, families etc n make du’a for them.

    When Arabs meet the first five minutes is only greeting and du’a. Kaifa Haaluk, baarak Allahu feek, Allah usallim alayk, Allah hayyeek, ish ikhbarak, kaif baba, kaif aulad, kull tamaam? Alhamdulillah…

    (trans: How r u? May Allah bless u… may Allah send blessings on u,,, may Allah increase ur life.. what’s new… hows dad, children… every1’s ok? alhamdulillah… n so on).. n that’s just one person… the other person will be trying to say more than the first. lol.

    it’s difficult when ur in a hurry or when ur phone bill is going up…

  8. Avatar

    ursister

    October 22, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    Asalamu Alikum,
    MashaAllah, very nice article. Jazaki Allah khair.

  9. Avatar

    Muslim007

    October 23, 2009 at 8:11 AM

    jazakAllaah for your kind contribution. The problem for me is the mixing up sexes and the handshakes. Also I’ve have noticed that about 90% of our talk during the conversations is usually trash. We go nowhere with it and if you keep silent and not to talk unnecessarily, people start remarking what is wrong with you and so on. May Allaah azza wajal show us the right path and cleanse our hearts and eyes and make it pure from all the falsehoods taht it contain. Amin

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      October 24, 2009 at 12:08 AM

      Ameen.
      I agree. Its about time duration. The longer a gathering goes on, the more it moves towards the impermissible kind of talk. Another thing that happens when you stay too long is that people start asking personal questions about your family matters. So I suppose the “short and sweet” methodology is best. Find out if your hosts/guests are well, talk a bit with them, and then end the meeting to save everyone’s time.

  10. Avatar

    Umme Ammaarah

    October 23, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    Assalamu-alaikum wa Rehmatullaahi wa Barakaatuhu sister …. love ur articles…each one more than the other… Jazaakallahu khair…

  11. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    October 24, 2009 at 12:09 AM

    I am very grateful to you all for your encouargment, and above, all your gracious dua’s. :)

  12. Avatar

    Olivia

    October 24, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    I really enjoyed this article! It was practical, straight-forward, and much-needed (especially with the next Eid in one month). Thank you so much for sharing! I pray it gets the attention it deserves =)

    By the way I just read your bio for the first time. “Computer Scientist gone wrong”–I love it! I’ve “gone wrong” (or shall I say gone right!) in so many ways myself! =) May Allah bless you and your family.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      October 25, 2009 at 5:29 AM

      :) Jazakillahu khairan! Alhamdulillah, that I “went wrong”. Hehe!
      Leaving my professional field paved the way for gaining knowledge of, and serving Islam; I’d do the same again if I was given the same choice.

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#Life

Muslim Adulting 101: Tips And Tricks For Every Young (And Not So Young) Muslim Adult

Social media is rife with complaints about how young Muslim men and women today aren’t ready for marriage, aren’t responsible enough for marriage, and are barely capable of keeping themselves alive without frantically calling their mothers or Googling how to make avocado toast. Having once been such a person (I got married at 18 and was incapable of making more than scrambled eggs), and having had around a decade’s worth of practise at adulting (I am now fully capable of making several egg dishes, though I have yet to achieve a round roti), it dawned upon me to help out the current generation of hapless almost-adults by providing a list of useful survival tips – not just for marriage preparation, but for life preparation.

I learned roughly half these things in the year before marriage, and the rest during first year of marriage. I do not claim to be an expert. I was married at 18, had a kid at 19, and was adulting at a semi proficient level by 20… although yes, I still frantically text my mother even now. I learned most of this while living in Egypt (with occasional stints in the village) and in Kuwait (as a broke non-Kuwaiti, not as a spoiled Khaleeji). You learn a lot of things the hard way, like how to toast bread on the stove when you can’t afford a toaster.)

Know How to Feed Yourself

Whether male or female, you should know how to make at least 3 breakfast items (toast and frozen items don’t count) – depending on your culture, there will be many different options to choose from, but they should be basic and easy, e.g. scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fool mudammas, za3tar and laban, etc.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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The same applies for lunch and dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you need to know the basics. Get up and go learn from your mom or dad or Pinterest or a YouTuber – as long as you just learn to do it instead of daydreaming about your spouse cooking for you. IT’S CALLED SURVIVAL SKILLS. (I learned from Canadian Living, before Pinterest was a thing. My mother still hasn’t forgiven me.)

Always, always, always remember: eat halal and tayyib food. I mean this completely seriously, and not just in a zabihah vs non-zabihah way (although, yes, zabihah is extra halal and you should definitely eat zabihah only). The simplest of foods, if you have the intention to eat that which is beneficial, will provide incredible satisfaction. 

 

Cleaning supplies

Cleanliness and Household Basics

Know how to clean your own bathroom. That means scrubbing the toilet at least once a week, the bathtub a few times a month, and generally sanitizing all surfaces. Flylady.com has some great tips

There is nothing nastier than leaving a mess in your bathroom and doing nothing to clean it. (And no, gender stereotypes about men leaving messes on toilet seats will not be tolerated. Fiqh of Taharah, people!)

Know how to clean your kitchen. When you do something in the kitchen, clean up after yourself as quickly as possible. Give your kitchen a deep-clean about twice a month. Clean your fridge, your microwave, under your toaster, and the top of your stove, which will accumulate a nasty layer of stickiness if you don’t wipe it down immediately after frying samosas. 

Learn how to operate a vacuum, how to sweep effectively, and how to mop. 

Never underestimate the importance of Tupperware. And by ‘Tupperware,’ I don’t mean the brand name – I mean washing out and using every yogurt tub, jam jar, and pasta bottle you use. You will indeed understand the wisdom of your foremothers. Make du’a for them when you reach this point of enlightenment. 

Do your own laundry. Know the difference between hot water wash (and what items to use it for), and cold water/delicates. DON’T MIX A RED ITEM WITH WHITE. (Yes, I ruined my own delicates and my infant’s brand new onesies. Ugh.) When something says “dry clean only”… for the love of your wallet, dry clean only. (As a general rule, avoid buying dry clean only items.)

Learn how to iron. I hate ironing, I avoid doing it as much as possible, I still don’t always have the hang of ironing men’s shirts (although I can starch a ghutrah like no one’s business), but LEARN THE BASICS OF IRONING and how not to burn your brand-new abayah.

Men: this still applies to you. Learn to iron your own clothes. Also learn to iron women’s clothing. (Especially hijabs and abayas.) My grandfather ironed my grandmother’s clothes every day, and she always looked like she’d just stepped out of a Desi granny fashion mag.

Learn how to sew a basic stitch in case of emergencies. I’m not asking you to embroider a tapestry or tailor make a suit, but knowing how to thread a needle and mend a tear or rip is super duper handy. (I failed every sewing class my mother put me in, and my current pile of torn clothing is at her house, but yes, I can technically mend a tear.)

Most importantly, remember that as a member of a family unit – or any unit, including living with roommates – you must actively seek to be interdependent rather than selfishly and self-centeredly independent. Just as the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spent his day serving his family, so too should we strive to be contributing positively to our households, being considerate of others, and even going out of our way to serve them. Service to those around us is neither humiliating nor offensive; rather, it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet.

If you are not doing these things in your/ your parents’ home, you do not deserve to have a marital home.

Hisham ibn ‘Urwa said that his father said,

“I asked ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, ‘What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do in his house?’ She replied, ‘He mended his sandals and worked as any man works in his house.'” 

Hisham said,

“I asked ‘A’isha, ‘What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do in his house?’ She replied, ‘He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.”

(Al Adab al Mufrad)

 

Manage Your Money

Know how to make a budget, and how to stick to it. Be aware of bills, how and when to pay them. Learn how to avoid debt under all circumstances.

Yes, this means being frugal.

Yes, this means couponing.

Yes, this means not spending $5 every day at Starbucks if you can’t afford it (and avoiding doing so every day even if you can afford it).
Yes, this means buying things on clearance.

Yes, this means putting aside money for sadaqah, and udhiyah and zakah if you required to distribute it according to your savings.

Most importantly, this means knowing how to organize and prioritize your expenses, how to cut down on the big bills and costs, and how to incorporate self-care without blowing out your wallet. 

If you weren’t raised by frugal Desi parents who taught you every budgeting trick there is, then go read a book, listen to a podcast or look up online how best to budget. Don’t just budget for your immediate needs – anticipate future expenses, create a savings account (for school, Hajj, wedding), and always have something stashed away for emergencies. In this economy, you need to scrimp as much as possible.

Pro tip: Do not discount barakah as a major factor in your day to day living expenses. If you insist on only pursuing halaal rizq, if you make a point of avoiding interest-bearing student loans and mortgages, you will have barakah in your wealth. You will discover that a meager grocery shopping trip will leave you with food that lasts you for twice as long as you expected. You will learn that giving in sadaqah on a regular basis, no matter how minuscule the amount, will result in blessings in every aspect of your life. You will be happier, live better, and succeed in your daily living. In a culture where making money is considered the single most important aspect of one’s life, it is necessary to reorient ourselves as Muslims. Allah is ar-Razzaaq, and not a single penny will come our way unless He decrees; not an ounce of our wealth will benefit us unless we seek that rizq in a manner that is pleasing to Him. 

Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said:

“Verily Allah the Exalted is pure (tayyib). He does not accept but that which is pure. Allah commands the believers with what He commanded the Messengers. Allah the Almighty has said: “O you Messengers! Eat of the good things and act righteously”. And Allah the Almighty also said: “O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with. Then he (the Prophet) mentioned (the case of) the man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who stretches out his hands to the sky (saying): “O Lord! O Lord!” (while) his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he is nourished with unlawful things, so how can he be answered?” [Muslim]

 

Hospitality

Learn how to be a good host/hostess. Almost every Muslim culture is known for its generosity towards guests, and for good reason: the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) repeatedly emphasized the rights of guests over their hosts, and of the rewards of hospitality. 

Abu Shuraih reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honor his guest and recompense him.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is his recompense?” The Prophet said, “It is for a day and a night, as good hospitality is for three days and after that it is charity.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Being a good host and hostess means knowing the adab (etiquettes) of having guests over, no matter how unexpected or informal. Offer everyone from the delivery person to the snootiest masjid aunty water or other drinks when they come in, seat them in the best place in the house, know how to turn half a package of Oreos and cheese sticks into a presentable snack tray, and so on. 

As well, if guests come to your home bringing a dish, make sure not to return that dish empty-handed! Always include something with it, whether homemade or even just a small package of treats. 

Growing up, I always saw my parents being extremely generous hosts, even when completely unprepared, and they trained my brothers and I without even realizing it. Having frozen samosas or a stash of “guests only” treats in your pantry is incredibly useful when you find yourself with a crowd of unexpected visitors in your living room. It’s a shame that so many people today have neglected the art of hospitality, when it has always been a traditional hallmark of Muslims.

Beautiful Scents

Good scents are from the Sunnah, and it is a habit that one should make regular for the household. There’s nothing quite like walking in through the door and inhaling beautiful incense.

(Unless you or others in your home are allergic to perfumes and strong scents, in which case, never mind.) 

Whether it’s bukhoor, agar bhatti, Yankee candles, or even scented diffuser oils, make it a habit to have your home (and yourself!) smelling beautiful. Your friends and family will always appreciate it! 

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was known for his love of good scents, as in the hadith “Beloved to me of this world is […] perfume...” (Nasa’i). Repeatedly, Muslims have been encouraged to cleanse themselves regularly, to use good scents, and to avoid offensive odours. (It should go without saying that one should always ensure to bathe daily, wear fresh clothing, and not to douse themselves in cheap cologne in an attempt to mask the reek of fried onions or stale sweat.)

Jabir ibn Abdullah reported:

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever eats onions, garlic, or leeks should not approach our mosque, for the angels are offended by whatever offends the children of Adam.” (Muslim)

Muslim-Specific Adulting Pro Tips

Be the person who wakes everyone up for Fajr (or sets enough alarms that eventually, *someone* will wake up). In Ramadan, be the person who helps with suhoor and iftaar, instead of being a lazy bum who drags their butt out of bed to stuff their faces and then crawls back into bed until Fajr. 

Be the person who reminds the rest of the household to fulfill the sunan of Jumu’ah – doing ghusl, wearing the best clothes, reading Surah al-Kahf etc.

Call the adhaan for every salah and encourage everyone at home to pray together; do dhikr often, especially the daily adhkaar; remind yourself and your loved ones to recite Qur’an often in the home, and have it playing regularly on audio instead of playing background music. 

Abu Huraira reported:

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Verily, Satan flees from the house in which Surat al-Baqarah is recited.” (Muslim)

Keep standard Sunnah foods in hand and well in stock: honey, dates, black seed and black seed oil, olive oil. Make it a habit to ruqya-fy honey & oils (i.e. recite ayaat used for ruqya over your water, honey, olive and black seed oils. It is a means of protection and benefit, regardless of whether you have ayn or sihr issues; it is beneficial even for physical ailments. Pro tip: buy big jars/bottles and recite over them.)

And that, folks, is a 101 to Basic Muslim-y Adulting. If you aren’t married yet, this will at least prepare you for some basic survival as you establish your own home; if you are married but don’t know or do these things… well… hopefully it’s not too late for you yet. I cannot emphasize enough that this entire checklist applies equally to men and women; the vast majority of these points can be found as sunan from the life of the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

May Allah make us all of those who uphold their responsibilities with Ihsaan, and establish households based on the best of Islamic values and ethics, ameen.

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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#Life

A Festival Amidst a Pandemic: How to Give Your Kids an Eid ul-Adha to Remember

Eid ul-Adha is less than 3 weeks away!  This year, more than ever, we want to welcome Eid ul-Adha with a full heart and spirit, insha’Allah, despite the circumstances we are in with the global pandemic.

If you follow me on social media, you probably know that my husband and I host an open house brunch for Eid ul-Adha, welcoming over 125 guests into our home. It’s a party our Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors, friends, and family look forward to being invited to each year. It’s a time to come together as a community, share heart-felt conversations, have laughs, chow down lots of delicious food, and exchange gifts. Kids participate in fun crafts, decorate cookies, and receive eidi. The reality is that we cannot keep up with the tradition this year.

Despite social distancing, we have decided that we will continue to lift our spirits and switch our summer décor to Eid décor, and make it the best Eid for our family and our child. We want to instill the love of Islam in my daughter and make the Islamic festivals a real part of her life. We want to create warm Eid memories, and COVID-19 isn’t going to stop us from doing that. I really hope you plan to do the same.

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Here are 4 ideas to inspire you to bring that festive spirit alive for your family this Eid ul-Adha:

Hajj and Eid ul-Adha themed activities and crafts

There are so many activities to keep the little ones engaged, but having a plan for Eid-ul-Adha with some key activities that your child will enjoy, makes the task so much easier.

Kids love stories, and for us parents this is a great way to get a point across. Read to them about hajj in an age appropriate way. If you don’t have Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha related books, you can get started with this Hajj book list. Read together about the significance and the Islamic traditions of hajj, and the story of how zamzam was discovered. While you teach them the story of the divine sacrifice of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), ask relatable questions. As a lesson from the story, give your child examples of how they can sacrifice their anger, bad behavior, etc. during this season of sacrifice for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ask your children how they would feel if they had to give away their favorite toys, so that they can comprehend the feeling.

Counting down the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah to Eid ul-Adha is another fun activity to encourage kids to do a good deed every day. Have different fun and education activities planned for these 10 days.

Family memories are made through baking together. In our household, Eid cannot pass without baking cookies together and sharing with friends and family. Bake and decorate Eid ul-Adha themed cookies in the shape of a masjid, camel, or even lamb, and share with the neighbors one day, and color in Islamic wooden crafts the next. This DIY Ka’bah craft is a must for us to make every year while learning about the Ka’bah, and it’s an easy craft you can try with your family. Have the kids save their change in this cute masjid money box that they can donate on the day of Eid.

Decorate the main family areas

We are all going to be missing visiting friends and relatives for Eid breakfast, lunch, and dinner this year, so why not jazz things up a bit more at home than usual?

Start decorating the areas of your home that you frequently occupy.  Brighten up the living area, and/or main hallway with a variety of star and masjid-shaped lights, festive lanterns, and Eid garlands, to emphasize that Eid has indeed arrived. Perhaps, decorate a tent while you tell your children about the tent city of Mina.

Prep the dining room as if you are having Guests Over

Set up the breakfast table as if you are having family and friends over for Eid breakfast.

These times will be the special moments you spend together eating as a family. Now, with all hands on deck, plan to get everyone involved to make it a full-on affair. What specific tasks can the little ones take on to feel included as part of the Eid prep and get excited?

While the Eid table set-up itself can be simple, the moments spent around the table sharing in new traditions and engaging in prayer will insha’Allah be even more meaningful and memorable.

 An afternoon picnic

Family picnics are a perfect way for family members to relax and connect. If Texas weather permits, we may take advantage of a cool sunny day with a picnic at a nearby, shady park. With the heat wave we are experiencing, it may either not happen or will be an impromptu one.

Out of all the picnics, it’s the impromptu family meals on the lawn or at a park that I love the most. The ones where we grab an old quilt, basket, light meals, fresh fruits and venture out into the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll be a perfect socially distanced Eid picnic.

Eid ul-Adha comes around just once a year, so let’s strive to make the best of it for our children, even amidst this global pandemic.

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