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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 COO and interim CEO 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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#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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#Life

Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Mona Islam

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

Salma and Yousef: 

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

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

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

 

Sarah and Hasan:

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

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

Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding:

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

Preview:

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

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

Hamza and Tamika

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

The Family Unit in Islam

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

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

 

Layla and Ibrahim   

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

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

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

Marriage

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

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

Family Roles:

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

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

Razan and Farhaan

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

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

Mawaddah and Rahma

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

Aliyaah and Irwan

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

Parenting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#Current Affairs

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

Laura El Alam

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The vicious terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 were a punch to the gut for peace-loving people all over the world.  Only the most heartless of individuals could feel nonchalant about 70 innocent children, women, and men being killed or maimed mercilessly as they prayed. However, even a brief glimpse at comments on social media confirms that among the outpouring of sadness and shock, there are, indeed, numerous sick individuals who glory in Brenton Tarrant’s deliberately evil actions. White supremacy, in all its horrific manifestations, is clearly alive and well.  

In an enlightening article in The Washington Post, R. Joseph Parrott explains,  “Recently, global white supremacy has been making a comeback, attracting adherents by stoking a new unease with changing demographics, using an expanded rhetoric of deluge and cultivating nostalgia for a time when various white governments ruled the world (and local cities). At the fringes, longing for lost white regimes forged a new global iconography of supremacy.”

“Modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “The hatred that led to violence in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville is finding new adherents around the world. Indeed, it appears that this attack was not just focused on New Zealand; it was intended to have a global impact.” (link)

Many people want to sweep this terrifying reality under the rug, among them the U.S. President.  Asked by a reporter if he saw an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, Trump replied, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

However, experts in his own country disagree.  A March 17 article in NBC News claims that, “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned in a 2017 intelligence bulletin that white supremacist groups had carried out more attacks in the U.S. than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. And officials believe they are likely to carry out more.”

Although they may be unaware of — or in denial about –the growing influence of white supremacist ideology, the vast majority of white people do not support violent acts of terrorism.  However, many of them are surprisingly, hurtfully silent when acts of terrorism are committed by non-Muslims, with Muslims as the victims.

When a shooter yells “Allahu akbar” before killing innocent people, public furor is obvious and palpable.  “Terror attacks by Muslims receive 375% more press attention,” states a headline in The Guardian, citing a study by the University of Alabama. The perpetrator is often portrayed as a “maniac” and a representative of an inherently violent faith. In the wake of an attack committed by a Muslim, everyone from politicians to religious leaders to news anchors calls on Muslim individuals and organizations to disavow terrorism.  However, when white men kill Muslims en masse, there is significantly less outrage.  People try to make sense of the shooters’ vile actions, looking into their past for trauma, mental illness, or addiction that will somehow explain why they did what they did.  Various news outlets humanized Brenton Tarrant with bold headlines that labeled him an “angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer,” an “ordinary white man,” “obsessed with video games,” and even “badly picked on as a child because he was chubby.”  Those descriptions, which evoke sympathy rather than revulsion, are reserved for white mass murderers.

The media’s spin on terrorist acts shapes public reaction.  Six days after the Christchurch attacks, millions were not currently taking to the streets to protest right-wing extremism.  World leaders are not linking arms in a dramatic march against white supremacist terrorism.  And no one is demanding that white men, in general, disavow terrorism.

But that would be unreasonable, right? To expect all white men to condemn the vile actions of an individual they don’t even know?  Unreasonable though it may be, such expectations are placed on Muslims all the time.

As a white woman, I am here to argue that white people — and most of all white-led institutions — are exactly the ones who need to speak up now, loudly and clearly condemning right-wing terrorism, disavowing white supremacy, and showing support of Muslims generally.  We need to do this even if we firmly believe we’re not part of the problem. We need to do this even if our first reaction is to feel defensive (“But I’m not a bigot!”), or if discussing race is uncomfortable to us. We need to do it even if we are Muslims who fully comprehend that our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,  “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”

While we might not hold hatred in our hearts individually, we do hold the power, institutionally.  If we truly care about people of color, peace, and justice, we must put our fragile egos aside and avoid “not me-ism.”  The fact is, if we have white skin, we have grown up in a world that favors us in innumerable ways, both big and small. Those of us with privilege, position, and authority are the very ones who have the greatest responsibility to make major changes to society. Sadly, sometimes it takes a white person to make other white people listen and change.

White religious leaders, politicians, and other people with influence and power need to speak up and condemn the New Zealand attacks publically and unequivocally, even if we do not consider ourselves remotely affiliated with right-wing extremists or murderous bigots.  Living our comfortable lives, refusing to discuss or challenge institutionalized racism, xenophobia, and rampant Islamophobia, and accepting the status quo are all a tacit approval of the toxic reality that we live in.  

Institutional power is the backbone of racism.  Throughout history, governments and religious institutions have enforced racist legislation, segregation, xenophobic policies, and the notion that white people are inherently superior to people of color.  These institutions continue to be controlled by white people, and if white leaders and white individuals truly believe in justice for all, we must do much more than “be a nice person.” We must use our influence to change the system and to challenge injustice.  

White ministers need to decry racial violence and anti-immigrant sentiment from their pulpits, making it abundantly clear that their religion does not advocate racism, xenophobia, or Islamophobia. They must condemn Brenton Tarrant’s abhorrent actions in clear terms, in case any member of their flock sees him as some sort of hero.  Politicians and other leaders need to humanize and defend Muslims while expressing zero tolerance for extremists who threaten the lives or peace of their fellow citizens — all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, immigration status, or ethnicity.  New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is an excellent role model for world leaders; she has handled her nation’s tragedy with beautiful compassion, wisdom, and crystal clear condemnation of the attacker and his motives.  Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated superb leadership and a humane, loving response to the victims in Christchurch (and Muslims in general) in his recent address to the House of Commons.  

Indeed, when they put their mind to it, people can make quite an impactful statement against extremist violence.  In January 2015 when Muslim gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, there was an immediate global reaction. The phrase “Je suis Charlie” trended on social media and in fact became one of the most popular hashtags in the history of Twitter.  Approximately 3.4 million people marched in anti-terrorism rallies throughout France, and 40 world leaders — most of whom were white — marched alongside a crowd of over 1 million in Paris.  

While several political and religious leaders have made public statements condemning the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, there is much less activism on the streets and even on social media following this particular atrocity.  Many Muslims who expected words of solidarity, unity, or comfort from non-Muslim family or friends were disappointed by the general lack of interest, even after a mosque was burned in California with a note left in homage to New Zealand.

In a public Facebook post, Shibli Zaman of Texas echoed many Muslims’ feelings when he wrote, “One of the most astonishing things to me that I did not expect — but, in hindsight, realize that I probably should have — is how few of my non-Muslim friends have reached out to me to express condolences and sorrow.” His post concluded, “But I have learned that practically none of my non-Muslim friends care.”

Ladan Rashidi of California posted, simply, “The Silence.  Your silence is deafening. And hurtful.” Although her words were brief and potentially enigmatic, her Muslim Facebook friends instantly understood what she was talking about and commiserated with her.   

Why do words and actions matter so much in the wake of a tragedy?  

Because they have the power to heal and to unite. Muslims feel shattered right now, and the lack of widespread compassion or global activism only heightens the feeling that we are unwanted and “other.”  If 50 innocent Muslims die from terrorism, and the incident does not spark universal outrage, but one Muslim pulls the trigger and the whole world erupts in indignation, then what is that saying about society’s perception of the value of Muslim lives?

To the compassionate non-Muslims who have delivered flowers, supportive messages, and condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and elsewhere, I thank you sincerely. You renew our hope in humanity.

To the white people who care enough to acknowledge their privilege and use it to the best of their ability to bring about justice and peace, I salute you.  Please persevere in your noble goals. Please continue to learn about institutionalized racism and attempt to make positive changes. Do not shy away from discussions about race and do not doubt or silence people of color when they explain their feelings.  Our discomfort, our defensiveness, and our professed “colorblindness” should not dominate the conversation every time we hear the word “racism.” We should listen more than speak and put our egos to the side. I am still learning to do this, and while it is not easy, it is crucial to true understanding and transformation.

To the rest of you who have remained silent, for whatever reason:  I ask you to look inside yourself and think about whether you are really satisfied with a system that values some human lives so highly over others.  If you are not a white supremacist, nor a bigot, nor a racist — if you truly oppose these ideologies — then you must do more than remain in your comfortable bubble.  Speak up. Spread love. Fix problems on whatever level you can, to the best of your ability. If you are in a leadership position, the weight on your shoulders is heavy; do not shirk your duty.  To be passive, selfish, apathetic, or lazy is to enable hatred to thrive, and then, whether you intended to or not, you are on the side of the extremists. Which side are you on? Decide and act.

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for their injury.”  — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.  

For the past decade, writer Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, and About Islam.  Her articles frequently tackle issues like Muslim American identity, women’s rights in Islam, support of converts/reverts, and racism.  A graduate of Grinnell College, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and five children. Laura recently started a Facebook page, The Common Sense Convert, to support Muslim women, particularly those who are new to the deen.

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