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Mr. Mom Returns to the Kitchen

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Background

Last Saturday, Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala blessed our family with our latest addition to the family, our daughter Taymiyyah.  I’m home this week to help my wife with her chores while she adapts and recovers and among the duties I’ve shouldered is cooking.  Flipping through my healthy eating books, I found this amazing recipe for chili.  I made it yesterday, and it came out really well, so for anyone that wants to make 10 servings of chili and not cook again for 3 – 4 days, try the recipe below.

Required Tools

  1. Extremely huge pot, or two large pots.
  2. Knife for chopping veggies
  3. Blender
  4. Stirring spoons
  5. 3 or 4 medium sized tupperware containers to store chopped veggies
  6. 1 TableSpoon and 1 Teaspoon
  7. Your scrubbiest clothes, you will likely smell like an onion after this is done.

Ingredients

  1. 4 lbs Extra Lean Ground Beef
  2. 4 Cans of Kidney beans (15.5 oz per can) – make sure to drain and rinse thoroughly
  3. 2 large onions, chopped (prepare to cry)
  4. 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  5. 1 lb of carrots, peeled and sliced into smaller pieces
  6. 4 bell peppers, any combination of colors will do (green, red, yellow, orange)
  7. 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  8. Two 46 fl oz bottles V8 Vegetable Juice, Spicy Hot
  9. 1/2 lb Cashews
  10. Spices
    • 4 tbsp Chili Powder
    • 1 tsp Cumin
    • 2 tsp Paprika
    • 1 tsp Celery Seed
    • 1 tsp Fresh Ground Peppper

Directions

  1. Combine 1 lb ground beef, the onions, and the minced garlic and brown the beef on high heat.  When this is complete, continue adding 1 lb of beef, browning it, and keep doing so until all the beef is added and browned.
  2. Now add all the spices and continue frying the beef while stirring for 3 minutes
  3. Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and V8 Juice.  Stir it all up, and keep the heat high until it’s boiling.  If it becomes too much, lower the temperature slightly, but let it keep going.
  4. While the meat cooks, blend the cashews in short bursts (not all at once, don’t want it to become butter, just grainy) – this is how you make the cashew meal.  Add this to your chili and stir.
  5. Keep the chili cooking until the carrots are soft (could be between 30 – 60 min).  Once the carrots are soft, your chili is good to go.

Lessons Learned

  1. Cutting onions makes you cry and your clothes stink.  Don’t wear nice clothes when cutting them.
  2. V8 is a weird ingredient, but it really works.  Trust the process.
  3. If the portion proposed is too big, cut all the ingredients needed in half and go from there.
  4. Anyone can make an amazing chili, even a kitchen dunce like myself.  I wish I had this recipe in college.

Let me know if you try it out, I’ll be happy to answer any questions if you do.  If you decide to use this recipe, tell me how it works out, insha’Allah.

Siraaj is the Operations Director of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Avatar

    UmmOsman

    November 3, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    Assalamo elikuim
    Jazak Allah khair Brother for the wonderful recipe – my kids will love it.

    “Cutting onions makes you cry and your clothes stink”

    So true. Being a Desi we use onions in everything , except desserts :).
    What I ussually do is cut the onions in half and leave them for 5-10 min before I need to slice them- this takes the edge off it and when you slice them , no tears Inshallah.

    Wasalam
    UmmOsman

    • Avatar

      abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      November 3, 2009 at 1:48 PM

      Onions can be sweet, too, alhamdolillah: sweet/spicy onion jam. I tried it, and it is the most amazing jam you’ll ever try (at least in this world).

      May Allah subhanahu wata ala cause your daughter to be a great blessing for your family.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      November 5, 2009 at 8:28 PM

      JazakAllahu Khair for the tip

  2. Avatar

    Farhan

    November 3, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    I expect to cook a little less than ~50% of the time for my fiancee-to-be-wife, in sha Allah. I’ve been looking for recipes online.
    http://www.desicookbook.com !!!

    • Avatar

      Ahmad AlFarsi

      November 3, 2009 at 9:20 AM

      weak :) … akhi, by such statements, ur giving our wives unhealthy ammunition. stop. :)

      • Avatar

        ummaasiyah

        November 3, 2009 at 9:38 AM

        Sometimes we like food that ISN’T cooked by us…it can get a little boring after a while…after all, variety is the spice of life! (pun intended) :D

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        November 3, 2009 at 10:55 AM

        I also take responsibility of cooking food, and always I outsource it to some restaurant.

        Same goes for cleaning home, sometimes I clean, by bringing cleaning services.

        I think both should be credited for me delivering what is needed.

        • Amad

          Amad

          November 3, 2009 at 11:56 AM

          Hey it doesn’t matter who does it, as long as it’s done. Especially the thought of eating food made by Hassan, esp. after you read a post from me on terrorism, is quite scary. Shalamar zindabad anytime.

          Mashallah Hassan, I am glad that you have progressed in your marriage. The last time I checked you counted your contribution thus: “My wife cooks, I eat. My wife washes, I dirty. My wife irons, I wear”.

  3. Avatar

    no more tears

    November 3, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    let the onions soak in a bowl of water before cutting, it will take the cry out of them
    u can also keep them in thge fridge, cold onions make u cry much less than regular ones

  4. Avatar

    Sista

    November 3, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    I clicked on the title expecting a mouth watering picture.! lol
    nice recipe, will try it soon InshAllah :)

  5. Amad

    Amad

    November 3, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Btw, Siraaj, how many brownie points have you earned via MM? We should start charging all husbands per brownie point earned here.

  6. Avatar

    ilmsummittee

    November 3, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    Subhanallah, what a coincidence! Just coming across this, after our first time cooking chili yesterday and it turned out to be great! walhamdulilah

    Especially with the cold coming…..chili is a very warming bowl.

    For the recipe I used, it called for : ground beef, onions, green and hot peppers, packet of chili seasoning, cilantro [optional], freshly cut tomatoes, can of kidney beans, and can of tomato sauce (or V8); but again there are like a million different ways of cooking this.

    By the way, Barakah Allahu lakuma fee Taymiyaah, May she grow up to be a pious and obedient daughter and a coolness to both your eyes. Ameen :)

  7. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    November 3, 2009 at 12:43 PM

    Akhi Sirraj, BaarakAllah for you and your family in your new daughter Taymiyyah, and may Allah make her grow up into a righteous Muslimah.

  8. Avatar

    Iesa Galloway

    November 3, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    Mabrook Bro!

    May Allah protect your family and make them a source of blessing for you in this world and the next, as well as you a source for them! – Nice start BTW!

    I am a HUGE chilli fan… a Texan can convert, but we still love TX-Mex! (Halal that is :))

    Iesa

  9. Avatar

    LILayla

    November 3, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    As Salaamu Alaykum…

    May ALLAH bless you brother. I didn’t notice if anyone suggested it but if you like the chili so much try making a double batch and freezing half. It will be great on those days that both of you are just floored and can’t imagine cutting up an onion. Just let it cool and place it in a freezer bag. It should keep for a couple months, inshaaLLAH.

  10. Avatar

    Siraaj

    November 3, 2009 at 4:08 PM

    Salaam alaykum everyone,

    Jazakallaah khayr for the du’aas on my new daughter Taymiyyah, ameen to all of them :D I will also take all suggestions about cry free onions and try them for the next time I make this recipe, insha’Allah.

    Amad, most men do not acquit themselves well when it comes to brownie points – what they do artificially, I do naturally, and not due to a subconscious whip ;)

    Siraaj

    PS – my daughter was born 10/10, this article written a little after that, so it really wasn’t “last week”.

  11. Avatar

    Masculinist

    November 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    You woman.

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      November 4, 2009 at 9:11 AM

      for wanting to eat? Man I certainly hope you never become woman-less! You’d surely starve

  12. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    November 3, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    How sneaky… I imagine you want your grandson to be called ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’

    • Avatar

      Ahmad AlFarsi

      November 3, 2009 at 6:37 PM

      lol, i was thinking that too :)

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM

      Can’t sneak anything past you, that’s for sure :D

      Siraaj

  13. Avatar

    UmA

    November 3, 2009 at 9:41 PM

    Mabrook on the birth of another girl ma sha Allah. Do you have a biography of the original Taimiyyah?

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM

      Don’t have a biography, only know that she was named Taymiyyah because her father thought she looked like a woman from Taym.

      Siraaj

  14. Avatar

    i heart kraft

    November 4, 2009 at 3:47 AM

    The BEST website for a beginner or even an experienced cook is the kraft foods website. It not only has delicious recipes but plenty of times they have a demo video showing you exactly how its done step-by-step. The website has recipes for everything from desserts, main courses, appetizers, health conscious meals, budget friendly meals, to holiday meal planning guides & Money saving tips when grocery shopping. It literally has everything covered. Plus, if you sign up for their email list, they’ll occasionally send you coupons for their products as well.

    I can honestly say that it has saved me time and time again. When I have to make something and I need a little inspiration, I go on there and browse through all the options for numerous ideas. Dont know what you want to make or eat? thats fine too…just check it out. It’s such a great website. (I sound like I’ve been paid to endorse the product, hah!)

    check it out for yourself: http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/Pages/home.aspx

  15. Avatar

    Holly Garza

    November 4, 2009 at 9:16 AM

    Asalaamu Alaikum Siraj I love this recipe post. I make my own chili as well but I never tried to add the cashews and V8 so I’m glad you added the bit about ‘trusting the process’ because I may not have been encouraged. JazakAllah Khayer for sharing

    Also JazakAllah to all the brothers and sisters who gave tips on the onion stentch and crying avoiding. It’s really Helpful as a woman, a picky one, I feel there is nothing worse than smelling. I have to not stink nor do I like teary eyes in the kitchen so Thanks for sharing everyone.

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      November 4, 2009 at 2:13 PM

      As it so happened, the day I cooked was the night I totaled my car, and I didn’t realize how bad I smelled til I got out of the house, so I kept apologizing to the medics and nurses for smelling like an onion (otherwise, it’s just bad daw’ah).

      Siraaj

      • Avatar

        Holly Garza

        November 4, 2009 at 5:11 PM

        what?! You totaled the car! Are the kids, Liv, and you okay? well obviously….I wouldn’t worry about it, I’m sure rescue has seen worst

        • Avatar

          Siraaj

          November 5, 2009 at 11:45 AM

          Alhamdulillaah, wife and kids were NOT in the car when it happened, just me alone, and alhamdulillaah, no harm done. Here’s a souvenir:

          http://twitpic.com/ljzfx

          • Avatar

            Holly Garza

            November 5, 2009 at 11:59 AM

            SubhanaAllah, Thank God you came out fine and the wifey and babies were not in there.

  16. Avatar

    Omar

    November 4, 2009 at 4:55 PM

    So InshaAllah you want to have a grandson called Ibn Taymiyyah … nice

  17. Avatar

    Abu Rumaisa

    November 5, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    Keep water running or a large bowl of water nearby when cutting onions.

  18. Avatar

    Abu AbdurRahman

    November 6, 2009 at 7:56 PM

    With all this fitnah Siraaj is spreading, I’m gonna inshaAllah make sure my future wife hasn’t read MM….

    • Avatar

      Umme Ammaarah

      November 7, 2009 at 6:28 AM

      :) I’m sure if a girl read this, she wouldn’t wanna BE ur future wife….. what say?

  19. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    November 7, 2009 at 12:46 AM

    I reread the recipe — all the salt seems to come from the V8. Since most varieties of V8 are very high in salt, I was wondering if any of you have ever cooked with low-sodium V8? If it worked just as well, that would allow a cook to add as much salt to the recipe as taste required.

  20. Avatar

    Amatullah

    November 7, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    I’m a little late in sending out the congrats but mubarak Siraaj on the new addition to your family :) I hope your wife is doing well. May Allah bless you and your family and grant you all that is good in this life and the next. Ameen.

    I love the name you’ve picked mashaAllah, and your older daughter and I have something in common :D even though mine is kinda fake.

  21. Avatar

    Umm Uthmaan

    November 8, 2009 at 4:47 AM

    Mabrook on the latest addition. Keep these recipes coming. Do u have one for meatloaf?

  22. Pingback: Some Advice for Muslim Husbands on Giving Your Wife a Break | MuslimMatters.org

  23. Avatar

    Zeshan

    March 22, 2017 at 7:47 AM

    JazakAllahu Khair for the tip. I will must make food for my wife. Thats why iam following this Pakistani Food site https://www.sooperchef.pk/. They providing us recipes as well as quick cooking videos

  24. Avatar

    saba

    March 22, 2017 at 7:55 AM

    Nice recipe I will try this one for my husband. Thanks for effort for us.

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#Islam

When Faith Hurts: Do Good Deeds = Good Life?

Loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way- even if it hurts. It is a time to learn.

Zeba Khan

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hurts, hardship. Allah, test, why Allah is testing me

The Messenger of Allahṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that the faith in our hearts wears out the way our clothes wear out. Deterioration, maintenance, and renewal are part of the cycle.  That’s life with all that hurts. That’s normal.

But what happens when that’s life, but life is not your normal? What happens when it feels like life isn’t normal, hasn’t been normal, and won’t be normal for a foreseeably long time?  For some of us, refreshing faith becomes secondary to just keeping it.

It’s easier to say Alhamdulillah when you are happy. It’s harder when you’re not. That’s human nature though. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with what we teach about faith that can leave us unprepared for when Allah tests it. I believe that our discussions about faith tend to be overly simplistic. They revolve around a few basic concepts, and are more or less summed up with:

Faith = Happiness

Righteousness = Ease

Prayer = Problem Solved

Good Deeds Equals Good Life?

Basically, the TLDR is Good Deeds = The Good Life. None of these statements are technically untrue. The sweetness of faith is a joy that is beyond any other gratitude, for any other thing in this world. Righteousness in the sight of Allah will put you on the path to the good life in the afterlife. Making dua can be the solution to your problems. But when we say these things to people who have true faith but not happiness, or righteous behavior yet distressing hardship, we’re kind of implying that that either Islam is broken (because their prayers seem unanswered), or they are broken (because their prayers are undeserving of answers.) And neither of those is true either.

Allow me to elaborate. I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single parent who has not begged Allah to make their sick or disabled child well again. Yet, our Ummah still has sick and disabled children. Through history, people have begged Allah for a loved one’s life, and then buried them – so is prayer not equal to problem solved?

Many righteous people stand up, and are then ostracized for their faith. Many people speak truth in the face of a tyrant only to be punished for it. Many of us live with complete conviction, with unshakeable belief in the existence and wisdom and mercy of Allah, and still find ourselves unhappy and afraid of what He has willed for us.

Are We Broken?

No, but our spiritual education is. In order to fix it, we have to be upfront with each other. We have to admit that we can be happy with Allah and still find ourselves devastated by the tests He puts before us, because faith is not a protection from struggle.

Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever said this to anyone else?

No one ever told me. It was hard for me to learn that lesson on my own, when I pleaded with Allah to make my son’s autism go away, and it didn’t. Everyone told me –Make dua! The prayer of a mother for her child is special! Allah will never turn you down!

It was hard trying to make sense of what seemed like conflicting messages- that Allah knows best, but a mother’s prayer is always answered. It was even harder facing people who tried to reassure me of that, even when it obviously wasn’t working.

“Just make dua! Allah will respond!”

I’m sure people mean well. But it’s hard not to be offended. Either they assume I have never bothered to pray for my son, or they imply that there must be good reason why Allah’s not granting to my prayers. What they don’t consider is that allowing my test to persist – even if I don’t want it to- is also a valid response from Allah.

I have been told to think back in my life, and try to determine what sin caused my child’s disability, as if the only reason why Allah wouldn’t give me what I asked for was because I was so bad I didn’t deserve it. As if good deeds equaled the good life, and if my life wasn’t good, it’s because I hadn’t been good either.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

You can assume whatever you like about my character, but bad things do happen to good people, even when they pray. You can try your hardest and still fall short. You can pray your whole life for something that will never come to you. And strength of faith in that circumstance doesn’t mean living in a state of unfulfilled hope, it means accepting the wisdom in the test that Allah has decreed for you.

That’s a bit uncomfortable, isn’t it.  When we talk about prayer and hope, we prefer to talk about Zakariyyah 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – who begged Allah for a child and was gifted with one long after anyone thought it even possible. But we also need to talk about Abu Talib.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, and in his mission to preach Islam he was protected by Abu Talib.  But Abu Talib died without accepting Islam, was there something wrong with the Prophet, that Allah did not give him what he asked for? Was he not good enough? Did he not pray hard enough? Astaghfirullah, no. So if Prophets of God can ask for things and still not get them, why are we assuming otherwise for ourselves?

Making a Bargain with Allah

If we can understand that faith is not a contract for which we trade prayers for services, then maybe we can cope better when fate cannot be bargained with. Maybe it won’t have to hurt so bad – on spiritual level – when Allah withholds what we ask for, even when we asked for the “right” things in the right way and at all the right times.

Life is not simple. Faith is not simple. The will of Allah is not simple, no matter how much we want it to be, and when oversimplify it, we create a Muslim version of Prosperity Gospel without meaning to.

If you’ve never heard of it, prosperity gospel is a religious belief among some Christians that health and wealth and success are the will of God, and therefore faith, good deeds and charity increase one’s wellbeing. Have faith, and God will reward you in this life and the next. That’s nice. But it’s too simple. Because the belief that Good Deeds = The Good Life doesn’t explain how Ibraheem 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s father tried to have him burnt alive.

Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s brothers left him for dead in the bottom of a well. He grew up a slave and spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Aasiya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – the wife of the Pharoah – one of the four best women in the history of womankind – died from her husband’s torture.

Good people are not guaranteed good lives. Islam is what we need, not a system of practices that we use to fulfill our needs.

When we limit our understanding of faith to a simplistic, almost contractual relationship with Allah, then we can’t even explain the things that Allah Tested His own prophets with.

Nor can we understand, or even begin to cope with- what He Tests the rest of us with either. We have to be real in our talk about faith, because otherwise we set each other up for unrealistic expectations and lack of preparation for when we face hardship. Faith is not protection from hardship. Faith is part of hardship. And hardship is part of faith.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) asks us in the opening of Surah ‘Ankabut,

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And ˹in this way˺ Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah says in Surah Baqarah, ayah 155: “And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of the fruits of your labor. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity.

tests, hurts, faith , hardship

Allah Tests Everyone Differently

Allah tests each of us differently, but in every single case – every single time – a test is an invitation to success. Hardship is the process through which we prove ourselves. Experiencing it– and then drawing closer to Allah through it –is how faith is tested as well as strengthened.

If we can change how we perceive hardship, then we can also change how we perceive each other. On our cultural subconscious, we still see worldly failure as being equivalent to spiritual failure. So when we see people who are homeless, we assume fault. When we see people facing depression or divorce, we assume fault. We even look at refugees and victims and special needs children and we look for fault. Because if it’s that bad then it’s has to be someone’s fault, right?

Fault is how we place blame. Blame is how we know whose mistake it is. But the will of Allah is never a mistake, it’s a test.  Instead of faulting each other for what Allah tests us with, we could respect each other for the struggles we all endure. We could see each other with more compassion for our challenges, and less aversion when Allah tests us with dealing each other.

So when you’ve done things the right way, but the right things aren’t happening. Or you’ve been charitable to others, and they’re being evil towards you. Or you’ve earned only halal, but haram- it’s been taken away from you, remember this- your faith is being tested. Allah tests those that He loves. When He raises the difficulty level, Allah is extending a direct invitation for you to climb higher.

So How Do We Succeed When Faced With Failure?

The first thing to do is redefine failure. There is only one true failure in this life, and that is dying on the wrong side of Siraat ul Mustaqeem, because if close your eyes and wake up in Jahannam, no success in this life can compensate for that.

I find that helpful to remember, when I fail to stay fit because I can’t exercise without hurting myself, when I fail to fast in Ramadan because it’s dangerous for me to do so- when I fail to discover a cure for my family’s personal assortment of medical issues through rigorous internet “research,” none of that is my failure either. And I can feel a lot of different ways about these situations, but I do not feel guilty- because it’s not my fault. And I do not feel bitter, because my test is my honor. Even when I do feel scared.

Being scared in not a failure either. Neither is being unemployed. Being unmarried is not a failure. Being childless is not a failure. Being divorced is not a failure. Nothing unpleasant or miserable or unexpected is a failure. It’s all just a test, and seeing it as a test means you have the state of mind to look for the correct answers.

Not even sin is failure, because as long as you are alive, your sin stands as an invitation to forgiveness. The bigger the sin, the greater the blessings of repenting from it.  Everything that goes bad is the opening of the door for good. A major sin can be the first step on a journey that starts with repentance and moves you closer to Allah every day thereafter. Sin only becomes failure when it takes you farther away from Allah, rather than closer to him.

Jahannam is the Only Failure

Addiction is not a failure. Depression is not a failure. Poverty is not a failure. Jahannam is the only failure. Everything else is a gap in expectations.

You assumed you would have something, but it’s not written for you. You assumed you’d ask Allah for something and He’d give it to you, but what is that assumption based on again? That good deeds are the guarantee to the good life, and that prayer equals problem solved?

Allah has all the knowledge, Allah has the wisdom, Allah is the best of Planners – how are you assuming that your wishes supersede His will? Even when you put your wishes in the form of a prayer?

They don’t. It is absolutely true that Allah may choose to rewrite Qadr itself based on your prayers – but that’s still His choice. Allah has always, and will always be in control of this world. And that means your world too. If you still think you’re in control, you will find it really, really hard to cope the first time you realize you’re not.

When we understand that we don’t get to control what happens and what doesn’t, we can then release ourselves from the misplaced guilt of things going wrong.  Lots of special needs parents struggle with guilt. I meet them often – and every single parent has asked the question- directly or indirectly-

What did I do for my child to deserve this?

Can you hear the presumption in there? That the parents were good, so why did something bad happen? They were expecting for good deeds to equal the good life.

There’s a second presumption in there too, that their life choices were a determining factor of what happened to their child. That is a presumption of control. And as long as you try to hold on to that presumption of control, there is the constant feeling of failure when it just doesn’t work the way you think it will.

I am not proposing that we lose hope in Allah and despair of His Mercy. I am in no way insinuating that Allah doesn’t hear every prayer, hasn’t counted every tear, and isn’t intimately aware of your pain and your challenges. Allah hears your prayers, and in His wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we want. In His Wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we need.

Even if we don’t see it.

Even if it scares us.

Even if it hurts us – because Allah has promised that He will never, ever break us.

hurts, hardship, special needs

Allah Tests Us in His Mercy

I am proposing that we put trust in the wisdom of Allah, and understand that when He tests us, that is part of his mercy, not a deviation from it. When He grants something to us, that is part of His mercy, and when he withholds something from us, that too is part of His Mercy, even if we don’t like it. Even when we ask Him to take it away.

The third thing I would like to propose, is that we correct our understanding of – Fa Inna Ma’Al usri yusraa, Inna Ma’al usri yusra.

So verily, definitely, for sure- with hardship there is ease. Again, Inna – for sure, with hardship there is ease.

I’m sure lots of you have said this to people you loved, or to yourself when you’re struggling with something and you’re just trying to get through it. But did you mean that this hardship will end, and then things will be good again? Like as soon as things have been hard for a while, Allah will make them easy again?

Would you believe that’s not really what that means? Ma’a means with, not after. With this hardship, there is ease. And maybe you’re like aww man, but I wanted the ease! I want the hardship to go away and Allah I’m ready for my ease now!

But that hardship, will bring you ease. Allah does not tell us what the ease will be, or when it will be- but He says it’s there, so trust Him. Even if you can’t see it right away, or in this life –it will become apparent.

I can tell you some of the ease I found with mine.

Learning When It Hurts

When my son was diagnosed with autism, my husband and I had to drop everything. We dropped our plans to save, to travel, and to live the charmed life of neurotypical parents whose only fears are that their children may grow up and NOT become Muslim doctors. We spent our earnings and our savings and our time and our nights and our tears and Alhamdulillah, we learned patience. We learned perspective. We learned compassion.

We really learned what we thought we already knew – about unconditional love and acceptance. We learned to be bigger than our fears, and smaller than our own egos. We learned to give and take help. We learn to accept what wisdom our cultures could offer us, and respectfully decline what did not. We learn to set boundaries and make rules that did justice by our children and our family, regardless of whether they were popular. With hardship comes ease.

When we couldn’t afford therapy for my son, my husband and I founded a not for profit organization in the UAE that provided it for my son and dozens of other people’s sons and daughters. Three and a half years ago I left that organization to seek better educational opportunities for my son here in the US, but it’s still running. The seed that our challenges planted has grown into something beyond us. With our hardship came ease for ourselves and others as well.

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, my health issues were upgraded from challenging to permanent. I had to rethink how I lived, how I planned, how I dressed, and even – my relationship with Allah. But if I had never been sick, I would never have started writing. When it hurt, I wrote. When I was scared, I wrote. When I was lonely, I wrote. And by and by the grindstone of fear and sickness and frustration sharpened my skills. Where I am today both spiritually and professionally – is actually a direct result of both autism and chronic illness. With hardship comes ease.

I don’t like my hardships, but I don’t have to. You don’t have to either. Being a good Muslim doesn’t always mean being a happy Muslim. It just means being Muslim, no matter the circumstances.

That means loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way – even if not loving everything He throws your way. You may hate your circumstances, and you may not be able to do anything about them, but as long as you trust Allah and use your hardships to come closer to him, you cannot fail, even if this life, you feel as if you never really succeeded.

hurts, depression, faith , hardship

Faith Wears Out In Our hearts, The Way Our Cothes Wear Out on Our Bodies

The hardship that damages and stains us is Allah’s invitation to repair, renew, and refresh ourselves. Our test are an invitation, an opportunity, an obstacle – but not a punishment or divine cruelty. And when we know that those tests will come, and some may even stay, then we can be better prepared for it.

Trust Allah when He says that He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. He told us so in Surah Baqarah Ayah 286. Remember that when you are afraid, and Allah will never cause your fear to destroy you. Take your fear to Allah, and He will strengthen you, and reward you for your bravery.

Remember that when you are in pain. Allah will never cause your pain to destroy you. Take your pain to Him, and He will soothe you and reward you for your patience. Take it all to Allah – the loneliness, the anxiety, the confusion. Do not assume that the only emotions a “good Muslim” takes to Allah are gratitude and happiness and awe. Take them all to Allah, uncertainty, disappointment, anger — and He will bless you in all of those states, and guide you to what is better for you in this life, and the next, even if it’s not what you expected.

The struggles in your life are a test, and whether you pass or fail is not determined on whether you conquer them, only on whether you endure them. Expect that they will come, because having faith is not protection from struggle. Faith is protection from being broken by the struggle.

I ask Allah to protect us all from hardship, but protect us in our hardships as well. I ask Allah to grant us peace from His peace, and strength from His strength, to patiently endure and grow through our endurance.

Ameen.

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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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