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Life of a Da’ee – An Anonymous Response to ‘How Much Should Islamic Clergy Make?’

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Note: Below is a response to Br. IbnabeeOmar’s article, “How Much Should Islamic Clergy Make?

 

I read MuslimMatters articles from time to time but don’t really comment on the things much. However, I felt it would be of some benefit to comment to this particular article, ‘How Much Should Islamic Clergy Make?’

Allāh blessed me to be around a very good masjid that was active and firm on the Sunnah in my late teen years. The Imaam was very respected by all of us and he was there for me even at the wee hours of night if I had any problems. Masha’Allāh the community understood the importance of knowledge and taking care of the one giving out the knowledge so that he is able to dedicate 100 percent of his time to the da’wah rather than getting a side job to support himself and his family. He was our Imaam for about 5 years. We used to have regular full-fledged explanations of texts and also would invite well known shuyookh (scholars) from USA for weekend workshops every now and then. On top of that, we would also have regular tele-conferences with the scholars in Jordan, Kuwait, etc.

In those 5 years the masjid produced 4 full-time du‘aat, one of them being myself Alhamdulillah. I’m finishing up my degree soon and another brother from that masjid is about half-way done at Madinah University. The Masjid was always the hub for the Muslims. Unfortunately, only in recent times have the Muslims forgotten the importance of the House of Allāh. Who wants to deal with ignorant bullies who run the Masaajid these days? That’s why we find so many Masaajid across the United States that are void of duroos. They just have daily prayers, a Jumu‘ah, and a terrible Sunday school structure, yet we see people flocking to these institutes because that is the only choice they have.

Alhamdulillah I’ve had the opportunity to visit quite a few states and universities for da‘wah programs during the majority of this past decade. I’ve also served as an Imaam for a few Masaajid and had the privilege to work with an Islamic organization/school. I noticed a few people raised concerns that imams/teachers shouldn’t be paid but should do da’wah and look after a community for free because that would prevent them from corruption. Fear of corruption is great concern, but that also applies to fame. We’ve seen many tullaabul‘ilm change as they got more and more famous. And as Imaam Ahmad said so fittingly – the less people know you, the better. In any case, I want to share my story with you all so that you realize what extreme cases exist out there.

My father is a scientist, MashaAllāh and my entire family is very well known in my country for their wealth and education. I’ve seen more money in my life than any of these Masaajid in USA can “tempt” me with. Ever since I broke the news to my family that I want to become a Da’ee bi idhnillaah, and I felt I can do more for this ummah by dedicating my time to seeking knowledge and spreading it, I became the black sheep of the family. From the moment I wanted to pursue being a Da’ee full-time, I had in my mind that I will do da‘wah for free since my family has so much wealth. I wanted to spend a few days a week giving time to all the various family businesses with my uncles (even though my dad thought I should forget that and da‘wah and just focus on being a doctor!) and the other days giving classes at the Masjid from whatever little I knew. Qaddar Allāhu maa shaa afa‘al, my family treated me like dirt and said since I’m in Allāh’s path I should help expand their businesses as an act of sadaaqah towards them. After all, helping your kin is a great deed in Islam. So yea that plan didn’t work out, Alhamdulillah! My father, who does not pray, thinks science is bigger than religion (may Allāh guide him) and  gave me a terrible time as I grew up. I never knew how to pray, never knew how to read one ayah from the Qur’an. It was through that Masjid that I mentioned in the beginning, that I learned how to pray, read and develop a love for Islam and more specifically the Sunnah. There were times my dad severely beat me for going to the Masjid and I would show up for the duroos severely bruised. Our Imaam would shed tears looking at me and told me no matter what happens he would always have a special kind of love for me and would give me more of his time whenever I needed it. As I grew older, obviously all that torture stopped. My parents moved back to the city where I grew up and my dad traveled a lot between the United States and other countries due to his work as he also was part of the government in the country he’s from.

While visiting my mother after a couple of years, I gave a few duroos and khutbahs at a local Masjid where she lived. One of them offered me to be the Imaam for them since they had nobody. They noticed the youth really liked me and thought I would benefit them. Let me tell you briefly about this specific community. They had teens doing drugs 20 feet away from the Masjid, pre-teen girls getting pregnant by kuffaar men and fornication that happened inside the house of Allāh! The only reason why I made the move was because my mother had developed an incurable disease and her condition was terrible. I thought being with my mother and doing da‘wah work is a huge chance for me to earn reward bi idhnillaah. Nevertheless, I was part of the community for approximately 1 year. For the first three months they did not pay me a penny. I complained to them that I cannot be doing this full-time and not be given anything in return. So they told me to take over a new project which was to teach kids Qur’an & Islamic studies and I’d be paid for being a teacher. I agreed. I continued to be the Imaam for free and took money for just the weekend school. They paid me $300 a month for teaching 45 kids by myself.

Alhamdulillah, I really wanted to help and I didn’t care about being an Imaam for free. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children and young adults. The day I said in the Masjid, “Ar-Rahmaanu ‘alal ‘arsh istawaa” was the day I got fired. I don’t know how they can call it “fired” when they never even hired me in the first place to be the Imaam. Hire would mean you pay a salary to the one designated as an Imaam but I was doing it for free! The admin started complaining that I ruined their kids,  made them into “wahabis” and that I needed to go. So their kids doing drugs and committing zina was much better for them then to have their kids learn that Allāh is above us. SubhanAllāh! To this day, children and teenagers that I taught and counseled regularly keep in touch with me through emails and tell me how much they miss me, thanking me for the help I happily and readily gave to them. Many of them still remember everything I taught them and they carried it throughout their lives growing up, mashaAllah.

While being part of that community I visited other Masaajid regularly. So after I left them, I became the Imaam at a suburban Masjid. I was the Imaam there for three years.  I faced a lot of resistance continuously from about 30 people out of 250; but the admin was on my side and Alhamdulillah, together we were able to do a lot of good in just three years. We even had to expand the Masjid to accommodate more attendees at Jumu‘ah. My salary was not that great at all. I was getting $1,600/month for those three years. During that time I visited my native country to see my relatives. While I was there, my own father (who was part of the government) wanted to imprison me with the excuse that I was a fanatic. Let me be clear, I know very well that killing non-combatants, women & children is not the Islam brought by Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  He wanted to do that so I couldn’t come back to the USA and continue da‘wah work. He thought keeping me in prison would be the best way to make me give up the path of da‘wah. Alhamdulilah, he was not successful in his malicious ways and I made it back safe to the United States.

I never complained nor ever made any demands. I did not get into this field for the money. If I loved money so much, I could have just stayed with my relatives. I was a single man. I did not have rent to pay since I was living in my parents’ house so I rarely had any expenses. Rather, I lost out in something great. Marriage! I simply wasn’t able to afford to get married. I got rejected by about 7-8 prospects because of my financial situation. Alhamdulillah after being patient for 7 full years trying to get married, I finally got the wife of my dreams. I was invited by the MSA of a university in New York to do a non-Muslim da‘wah program. I did it, and from there I got re-invited another two times at their local Masjid. It was when I went there that a sister from the administration asked if I was married or not. So I told the sister I’m looking. She suggested the daughter of her friend for me. So I took the girl’s father’s number and after a month I called him up. My wife is Arab and I’m a desi, but Alhamdulillah there were no racial problems because her father told me that he does not care simply because of what my profession is. The marriage cost me an arm and a leg. Both our families wanted to have typical weddings that cost thousands & thousands. Alhamdulillah, the only good thing my dad ever did after I took this path was pay for all the wedding costs. I truly believe it was from Allāh and a reward for my efforts over the years.

My wife, mashaAllāh, understands what it means to be the wife of a da’ee extremely well. So now that I was married, obviously $1,600/month was not going to cut it. The Masjid got taken over by those same 30 people that were always being resistant to the da‘wah. They played some sly games to prevent the good brothers from being re-elected. It took them three years to plan this out, but they finally were successful. They got rid of every previous member from the administration as well as me. This is the reality of typical dirty Masjid politics. After that I moved on to another Masjid. I signed a contract with them, but obviously typical Muslims don’t care about any contracts. The contract was for $2000/ month. They only paid me $1,200/month. If I did not care about the image of Islam and only cared about money, I could have taken them to court and sued them for not complying with the signed contract. Instead, I made Du‘aa to Allāh to remove myself from this situation and to guide the brothers to Haqq. HasbiAllāhu wa ni‘mal wakeel.

I and my wife still made it by simply because we didn’t have rent to pay. But my parents’ house was 1 hour away from the Masjid and it was not feasible for me to travel such long distances every day. In spite of everything I still did this for 6 months. I then told them I needed a pay increase so I can afford an apartment closer to the Masjid. I never tell people about my family background because I know how people can be and what I worried about came true. One of the admins found out the wealthy state of my family and told the rest of the administration. At the next meeting, the administration told me, “Your father and family are very rich, why are you asking for a raise? Just take money from your family.” HasbiAllaahu wa ni‘mal wakeel.

My mother, even though being permanently disabled, is the ONLY person in my entire family that truly understood what I do in my life. She told me that I could not live like this any longer and have to think about myself and my wife. My mother didn’t know the exact details of my finances but she knew it wasn’t a lot to live fairly and comfortably with a family. I made a very good relationship with a lot of youth in the city and I just didn’t want to go to a different city. I knocked on my family’s door again and asked him to give me my inheritance so I can do something with my wealth. That way I can do da‘wah for free and not have to deal with ridiculous administrations. My father wrote off about $10-$12 million worth of property (meaning what I’m supposed to inherit from him) to my paternal cousins. He did that right in front of my eyes and then said to me – “ You’re in the path of Allāh, so Allāh will take care of you, you said you live in this world for Islam so go and live your life.” To this day, I will never forget these words.

I moved to a different state and took a job with a famous Islamic organization. QaddarAllāhu maa shaa afa‘al I had a big car accident which limited my mobility for more than six months. I showed up to work as much as I could. But guess what happened? I eventually had to quit because I simply could not take hearing the things I was hearing around me and even behind my back. You would expect RELIGIOUS Muslims to be more understanding. Staff members would tell my wife (not knowing whose wife she was) “this new brother that Sheikh fulaan got, he is so lazy, doesn’t show up every day, doesn’t deal with the youth properly, he’s probably just getting the free money that he’s getting.” I just couldn’t go back because of the way staff members were looking at me and talking about me behind my back and criticizing me without knowing the full truth. It was not going to work out and so I had to quit on them.

There have been times where I was invited to deliver khutbahs or do weekend programs in other cities but I refused to accept the invitation because I could not even afford the gas money. I have been prevented from doing what I love to do for the sake of Allāh due to malicious games and beliefs that shuyookh and du’aat should not be paid. Where is the logic in that? In between I developed diabetes, liver problems, arthritis and few other things. No health insurance, no medication. I even had to sit helplessly at home while my wife suffered through a life threatening illness without proper medication because I could not afford it.

I summarized a lot of details in between because many people do not know the reality and the suffering a sincere Da’ee/Sheikh/Imaam/Taalibul ‘ilm go through. I’ve been physically tortured for wanting to seek knowledge, nearly imprisoned and cut off from any family wealth for being a Da’ee, mistreated by terrible masjid administrations, wrongfully accused by the so-called religious community, insulted even by my friends — but I do not regret this life even for one second. I will never ever be able repay what Allāh has blessed me with. I do not mean repay Allāh, I mean repay society for what Allāh blessed me with. Giving me access to Shuyookh who taught me to be this way and what it truly means to follow the Salaf. No matter how much effort I put in, I will never be able to do justice in spreading Islam.

So no, I’m not in it for the money… but it is my right just like everyone else who does work to be fairly compensated. No, I will never dilute the Sunnah for a better life and to be accepted by the society. Alhamdulillah, all my physical problems are gone except for diabetes and arthritis and I know my financial difficulties will be gone very soon, too. WAllāh my dear brothers & sisters, the greatest gift you can get from this world is a spouse who truly understands the Sunnah and a mother who will constantly make du‘aa for you and encourage you never to stop working for Allāh’s sake. Mistreatment from people will not make me give up doing da‘wa. The only sorrow I have in my life is that I was never able to convince my own father to come to just one dars that I gave and the fact that I have cousins who do not even know how many raka‘aat to pray in which waqt. After marriage, Allāh gave me in-laws that are equally ignorant about the religion as my own family and added to the “headache caused by family!” I always make sure that none of my relatives nor my wife’s relatives find out about my intricate financial difficulties. I firmly believe that knowing how difficult the lives of du’aat can be is not good for the hearts of those who are not serious about their deen. Shaytaan will make them think “see this is what religious people go through, you’re doing great the way you are.” Allāh created man weak and most of us cannot handle too many shortages in life. It’s upto the Shuyookh and du’aat to protect the weakness of people from causing them to go further away from the Deen. Learning the religion and doing something for this Ummah, no matter how small it may be, and having a wife who is not confused about the Sunnah…no bad situation can outweigh these good things. Alhamdulillah, I am able to eat and sleep at night without hearing bombs explode unlike the people of Somalia or Palestine. I’m not worried about anything except about whether my deeds will be accepted by Allāh or not.

I ask Allāh to make what I wrote a reminder to myself first and foremost about my purpose in life and to be of benefit to others.

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmaatullahi wa Baraaktuhu

62 Comments

62 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mozahsuf

    March 5, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    MashaAllah, may Allah elevate your rank and reward your patience handsomely.

     I think dedicated masjid need to develop some sort of sustainable, transparent administration processes to solve the problems this brother mentioned in a systematic fashion. Salaries, contract terms, etc, should not be arbitrarily created and violated, but instead should be based in, again, a transparent process overseen by masjid administrators as well as community members independent of the masjid so as to encourage impartiality and fairness. 

    Along with the disturbing and hidebound attitudes our communities have toward imams and da’is, another problem I think we have is a lack of professionalization when it comes to running masajid. Ironically, it is perhaps through the professionalization of administration that our imams can be protected from the arbitrary “dismissals” and “fear Allah and do it for free, akheee!” that are so characteristic of many administrators in our community. 

  2. Avatar

    Min

    March 5, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Shocking post, jazakallah for the insight 

  3. Avatar

    Fauzia Mohamed

    March 5, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    I’m no stranger to this! I deal with a lot of students of ‘ilm and most times when I confirm them for events there’s always a struggle to have them get paid for their time, travel expenses etc. 

    Some go as far as saying knowledge should be free and one shouldn’t ask for payment but did we forget that the duaat have families and financial responsibilities just like everyone else? 

    Others are easy to work with but there’s always a slight back and forth involved. I do understand that a daee cannot make certain demands beyond the people’s ability but at the very least we should be cognizant of their needs as well. So I urge the masaajid administrators and conference organizers to remember that the duaat are doing this to seek Allah subhana wa ta’ala’s pleasure and to educate the Ummah but in order to do so their needs have to be met and/or looked into. Jazakallah kheyr for sharing your thoughts with everyone. I was waiting for someone to step up and write about it. I ask Allah to bless our duaat and their families, ease our affairs and fill us with a pure understanding of this Deen…ameen. 

     

  4. Avatar

    Bouncin

    March 6, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    Beautiful message brother. Jazaka’llahu khairan for this insight. Wallahi to seek Allah’s pleasure is better than everything anyone else has to offer. Never give up the good you’re doing and may Allah reward you and your family for inspiring us. Ameen.

  5. Avatar

    Nassim

    March 6, 2012 at 4:03 AM

    Baarak Allahu feek wa yassar Allahu amrak.

    Subhan Allah! I think most of us forget today how much of the scholars of the past had salaries from Bayt al Maal and/or how some scholars would not teach unless they were paid by the participants.

    Payers need to remember they’re not paying for 3lm but rather time.

  6. Avatar

    Ikhlaas

    March 6, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    Indeed we are poor, and Allah is rich. He is the best of providers. Tread this path of poverty and hardship for Allah’s sake and inshaAllah will be given jannah where eyes will witness the inconceivable. Migrate to the uk see how it is here maybe?

  7. Avatar

    Yusradaud

    March 6, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    MashaAllah! This post brought tears to my eyes! May Allah swt reward you for your immense patience! JazakAllah khair for the post…it opened my eyes!

  8. Avatar

    Wagiah

    March 6, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    WHO WROTE THIS POST??   I would like to help whoever wrote this post.  my email , wagiah@hotmail.com

  9. Avatar

    Violet

    March 6, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    This post moved me so much. Brother, I pray that Allah rewards you and your family for being so patient and bring about a change to your financial situation…

  10. Avatar

    Abuhafs

    March 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Rasul Allah (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “The two feet of the son of Adam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgement until he is asked about five (matters) concerning his life – how he spent it; about his youth – how he took care of it; about his wealth – how he earned it; and where he spent it and about that which he acted upon from the knowledge he acquired.” [Tirmidhi]
    Yesterday I read this hadith and I started thinking, if I am to die today what would be my answer to these questions. I couldn’t find easy answers, so I turned to Allah SWT and asked Him to have mercy on me and treat me with His kindness rather than His justice. Reading the story of this brother today I realized that he would be in a much better position to answer those five questions. Sometimes the hardships of this dunia are in reality the sign that Allah SWT loves a person. On the Day of Judgment this life will appear like a morning or an afternoon, so those hardships, dealt with with patience and reliance on Allah SWT, will in fact be a blessing.

    Brother, may Allah reward you for your patience, increase your Iman and righteous deeds and bless you and your family with the ease that comes after hardship, in this life and the next.

    Oh Allah, forgive my sins, have mercy on me, and make it easy on me when I am asked those five tough questions. Without Your mercy I am ruined.

  11. Avatar

    Ali

    March 6, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Imam of a masjid is the CEO of that Masjid as well.  His pay should be atleast $150K/year.  Thats still below most doctors and about what an engineer in IT field would make in the silicon valley after 10-15 years of experience.  The Imam is a position of high stature and we will not attract the right kind of talent unless we make sure our Imams are rewarded for the extreme hard work they peform, being on-call 24X7, working probably 90+hours a week. 
    If anyone feels like Imam should work “fe sabeellilah” then they should also work pro-bono and give 100%  of their salary to the masjid’s cause.  If anyone is NOT doing that, then they dont have the right to talk!

    • Avatar

      Guest-123

      March 9, 2012 at 12:48 AM

      Dear Ali,
      Can you imagine yourself being in that time when this is true… and then look back to this time now and lament about the quality of ‘hardy’ Daee’s. that is exactly my point. The prophet lived not with much wealth, even the mothers of maumineen were told by none other than Allah himself, to wallk away from the prophet if they desired this world and they shall be rewarded richly but to stay through the hardships if they desired the hereafter. So they chose wisely – and set a precedence for us. The prophet preferred and chose Faqr over the riches of this world for a reason. Simply beacuse both do not easily merge except only in exceptional cases. For the general public it is easy to do sabr than to be tested with wealth (in my understanding of the matter).

      Catch my drift? This subject is like a sword that cuts both ways.
      Conclusion: We must be happy with cards that are dealt to us and live our lives to the best of our allotted time and resources both. It is a hard concept for youngsters to grab but it comes easy after you are 40+ years of age.

    • Avatar

      Regular Baba

      March 15, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      Salam 

      Couldn’t agree with you more Ali.  Alhamdolillah and Mashallah, I am very very well off financially, but have to provide for a family.  We live Alhamdolillah a good lifestyle but nowhere near what I would term luxurious.  Living here in USA is expensive, and gets more expensive the older your family gets.  The Prophet(SAW) “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”, and did not make an exception for Imams.  One day I want to work full time for the sake of Allah (I am involved in dawah), but realistically that won’t happen until I reach a point where I don’t need to work for the remainder of my life.

  12. Avatar

    Sabina Moid

    March 6, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Brother, may Allah reward you for your patience, increase your Iman and
    righteous deeds and bless you and your family with the ease that comes
    after hardship, in this life and the next.

  13. Avatar

    Yasmin

    March 6, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Mashallah, words can not describe how inspirational this respected brothers’ story is!

  14. Avatar

    Abdullah

    March 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    I have a feeling that you have been blessed with teachers with tremendous zuhd and a good share of it has passed on to you.
    May Allah increase for you everything that is good in this life and make you among the wealthiest of people on the Day of Judgment.

  15. Avatar

    Muslimah

    March 6, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    SubhanaAllah this provides incredible, yet sad insight. As I was reading about your situation I remembered the sahaba and nabi (SAW) and their financial situation in the early days as well. Recently in a lecture I learned that Khadijah (RA) – one of the wealthiest women of Quraysh – died of malnutrition! We can only imagine the type of test Allah puts His beloved ones through.. May Allah make your and all our scholars’ situations easier and use this hardships as a ticket to Jannah. The structure of the masajids really needs to change – honestly I feel there needs to be some sort of revolution/protests against the way the masajids work and treat their “employees”  

  16. Avatar

    Billalbr

    March 6, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    doing business is sunnah and if done in a proper way wont affect the prieshood.

  17. Avatar

    Billalbr

    March 6, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    the monks are in habit of depending on their place of worship, this story is so similar to many many stories which i keep hearing from various monks circle.  in islam we have to provide to mesjid not otherway round.

  18. Avatar

    Guest

    March 6, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    I LOVE YOU for the sake of ALLAH

  19. Avatar

    Hayat_sheriff

    March 7, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    Aselamualykum this post brings so much tears and I have brother who left Dunya for akhira and do travel very far to teach and learn living the my dads bussiness and new brand car and big hous. Now days if one does not worry about mony people think he is crazy akiruzemn .

    But for him Allah made him understand this Dunya is just temporary so he left it before Dunya leave him. Machallah

    Whomever wrote this post I made dua that Allah to give you jenetul Ferdosa and you will find yourself ma’sabirieen inchallah . And your share is waiting for you in akira not Dunia. Your lucky that the light of Iman is inside of you . Do not give up our true Alim daea sheik all suffer our habibuna resululah Suffer our sahaba etc for this Dunia they left it . Inchallah I wish if I can meet this person and his family!

  20. Avatar

    Billalbr

    March 7, 2012 at 4:59 AM

    this story is so disturbing and doesnt represent a muslim in a right way, if you can not convince your own dad and ppl from mosque then how will you do dawa to rest of world, i feel some anti mulsim have put up this story to present islam in a very weak way.

    • Avatar

      Abuhafs

      March 7, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      If you go often to our masajid you will know that the issues mentioned in the article are real. It is not Islam that is presented in a weak way, it’s a community that failed to live up to the high standard of Islam.

      Remember that some of the closest relatives to the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not accept Islam. Abu Lahab was a fierce enemy of Islam and Abu Talib defended the Prophet (peace be upon him) till his last breath, yet he did not die as a Muslim. Both are the Prophet’s uncles. Does that diminish in any way the way the Prophet did his da’wah?! To the contrary, it only confirms what Allah SWT stated in Surat al-Qasas (28:56):
      “Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.”

      Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) did everything to call his father to Islam, but he did not accept the guidance. The wife and son of Prophet Noah died as disbelievers, and so did Prophet Lot’s wife.

      Let’s face our issues and resolve them with courage instead of resorting to the conspiracy theory and turn the blind eye on our own problems and shortcomings.

    • Avatar

      Mehdi Hasan Sheikh

      March 7, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      This has got to be one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard. Have you never heard of Ibrahim (alaihis Salam), whose father was a kaafir? Have you never heard of Nuh 
      (alaihis Salam), whose son was a kaafir? 

      The job of a da’ee is to convey and be an example, actual guidance is from Allaah alone.

    • Avatar

      Guest-123

      March 9, 2012 at 1:35 AM

      Your concern is indeed genuine!
      However it is best to not comment on the author’s situation as he may have the makings of this environment out of his control. Anything is possible with the spectrum of humanly possible capabilities (hmmm…) to live a unique life completely different from their neighbors that is what makes fiction stories.

      Here, the idea is to resolve a recognized illness among our masajid that do not represent and practice the Islam that they preach. They all want unity as-long-as you line up behind them and pay their bills to their desires and not question them! This is discussed by Abul-Kalaam Azad, Maududi and even Al-Ghazali among many others as a dire challenge within our communities and the solution comes with discipline.

      Ma’Salaam

    • Avatar

      Abu Abdillaah

      March 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      Ya Billal, brother fear Allaah before posting such discouraging and unwarranted comments. Your comments border on sheer ridiculous! Guidance is in the hands of Allaah..not human beings, dont you remember the Uncle of the Prophet(salAllaahu alayhi wasallam), Abu Taalib, he was like a father figure to the Prophet(salAllaahu alayhi wasallam) and sheltered and protected him like anything. What happened in the end? Abu Taalib died a Mushrik? Are you gonna point fingers at the dawah of Rasulullaah(salAllaahu alayhi wasallam) as well? Think before you write sheer nonsense. May Allaah bless the brother going through this trial and make his affairs easy, aameen.

  21. Avatar

    Potential Hijabi

    March 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Walaikum Assalam! :) 
    Jazakallahu Khair sis! You will be happy to know that I am already a hijabi, alhumdulillah! :) but Ameen to your dua.. because hijab does not end with just the head covering .. it’s also a part of our actions and character! So may Allah make it easy for me and all our sisters in Islam to live up to the hijab in it’s entirety! :)

    • Avatar

      Muslimah

      March 9, 2012 at 9:07 PM

       Ameen! =)

  22. Avatar

    Brother

    March 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Assalamualaikum,

    When you get married sometimes your spouse can do some extra
    things…more than necessary…which may or may not be bad, Allahu
    A’lam. Didn’t know this got posted as an article. My friend emailed me
    the link and was like hey this is you.

    May Allah make me better than what you all think and forgive me for the things that you do not know about me.

    Believe me, I’m probably the least qualified person out there to do
    anything. I do this because this is what truly gives me inner peace.
    When I was younger, I tried many things but nothing makes me happy like
    learning a few things about the Sunnah and passing it on to others bi
    idhnillaah.

    Allah will test us in many ways but we have to have Tawakkul in Him and
    continue. Once you get into da’wah you can not quit, no matter what. My
    Shuyookh repeated this to me many many times when I was young
    Alhamdulillah. And I truly believe no one but the one who is actually
    involved in da’wah will understand this.

    It’s very easy to throw the white flag and do something else but to me
    it would mean you really were in it for the money!  Just because Allah
    decided to test you few things here and there, you want run the other
    way? Not possible.

    Allah will NEVER forsake the caller to Tawheed. Allah will bless you
    with Shuyookh that love you like their own children…Allah will bless
    you with spouses that will be your backbone…Allah will bless you with
    friends that will be closer to you than your relatives…and imagine all
    the good supplications people will make if you were able to help them
    out sincerely! Allah never forsakes the caller to Tawheed.

    Yesterday was difficult, today is easy, tomorrow may be difficult again,
    but one thing has to remain constant for the one who is in da’wah – you
    can never give up or take breaks! What you read is only child’s play
    compared to what some of my teachers have been through in their lives.

    Trust me, many Shuyookh and Tullaabul ‘ilm go through immense
    difficulties…we just never get to know about it. So me being just a
    little kid in terms of knowledge & deeds compared to them…I mean
    Alhamdulillah this is all that I went through.

    Sure I will get sad at times due to what some people do/say, but I do
    not regret my choice of getting into this. Da’wah work can not be forced
    upon anyone, it has to be a choice made by the person knowing very well
    what he’s about to get into. Hope for the best but always be prepared
    for the worst.

    to Wagiah: barakAllahufeek. may Allah reward you for your intentions.
    MashaAllah, I’m doing well. Allah provides and opens doors for us from
    beyond our imaginations. Since you already made intention to give, then
    do yourself good by donating to other causes that benefit the Ummah
    more. :)

    to Billalbr: Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not some anti-islam nut case.
    Alhamdulillah I’m a Muslim 100%. And I’m also sorry that this sounds
    disturbing to you. May Allah never give you these trials. But remember
    that Ibraahim ‘alayhis salam was never able to convince his own
    father…Nooh ‘alayhis salam was never able to convince his own son,
    etc. And every Prophet ‘alayhimus salaam (except maybe Yunus) had people
    from their own communities who never accepted the message of Tawheed.

    So what makes you think that I…being just a regular person…can
    convince all my relatives or every single member of the community?
    Haven’t you ever heard of the ayah innaka laa tahdee man ahbabta
    walaakinnaAllahu man yahdee man yashaa’? It has nothing to do with you
    couldn’t convince so-n-so and therefore you can’t convince anybody. And
    if it wasn’t clear to you from the article, let me repeat – i am not
    a monk depending on places of worship. If I was in this for money I
    would’ve quit long time ago.

    I know of cases where a sister gets abused by the drunkenness and drug
    addiction of her father. I know case of a brother who’s own grandmother
    tried to kill him more than once with Sihr. Sounds disturbing doesn’t
    it? Well guess what just because people suffer by the hands of their own
    relatives doesn’t mean they’re monks or some anti-islamic propaganda.
    Say Alhamdulillah your situation is not like that and make dua’a to
    Allah to remove such trials from the lives of your brothers &
    sisters.

    I do what I do because it gives me peace in my heart than what money can
    buy. Money comes and goes. When we have it, we spend on a few nice
    things, when it’s not there we can still manage Alhamdulillah.

    Allah’s Kalaam & the Sunnah of His Messenger can guide many to
    Islam. The day you do this job and Allah guides even just one person by
    your tongue, or there is a Muslim youth somewhere suffering from
    family/social problems and you are able to convince him/her to stick to
    the Deen no matter what…nothing…absolutely nothing can be more
    valuable than that. You can not put a price tag on da’wah. You just
    can’t. So whatever Allah gives, take it and never give up due to some
    struggles because Allah will truly provide for you one way or
    another.

    The only fear I have is whether or not my deeds will be accepted and
    will I be shown Mercy or not. And I hope Allah increases my fear of
    these 2 things more.

    I’m just an average Muslim who knows very little about the Deen, who’s
    trying his best to do something good. Please don’t think too highly of
    me. I want this to encourage people that no matter what goes wrong, if you
    keep trying while depending on Allah, He will make things happen. If you see
    good in me, don’t praise me but praise Allah for giving me that good.

    Assalamualiakum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakatuhu

  23. Avatar

    Guest-123

    March 9, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    May Allah reward you for SINCERE(?) efforts that is free of ego and self
    fulfillment. Satan comes to us in many forms and directions, that I see
    resentment in your experience which makes one bitter and angry
    individual in spite of you claiming otherwise. However as an effect, the
    community at large can take it in a positive direction to do something
    about this wide spread illness among our communities at large. Our
    communities here in the west are still in transition and growing in
    order to support elaborate full service religious institutions for now –
    bringing a baggage of mindset that we do not ever have to pay to Imam
    for the religious services offered at the local Masjid. As you may learn
    that through our community’s evolution Imams were always paid by the
    Islamic State. But again, the Salafi brothers I know do not bother
    learning from the history of Muslims, evolution of Muslims after the
    taba-tabi’een or their knowledge and struggles for giving us a wealth of
    lessons learned that make the foundation of Western Civilization today
    and jump right back in the time of prophet and find themselves to be out
    of place.

    I am surprised that you never caught on to your father’s lesson. The
    wealth that he owns is not yours by default unless he chooses to give it
    to you. Read the life of our beloved prophet, please. He suffered
    significantly due to the lack of wealth and was humiliated many times
    but his resolve was above it all, our needs make us vulnerable to Satan.
    So learn to live in a happy environment where you are fulfilled and
    happy within your means being either as a Da’ee or a Doctor is
    immaterial. Both provide vital service to the Muslims and Non-Muslims, I
    think – you could have been an exceptional Doctor, Allahu Alam.

    Ma’Salaam
     

  24. Avatar

    Asaksu

    March 9, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    Reading your story was a kick in the gut, it pained me and my family immensely.
    We take the Imam of a Masjid for granted, expect him to be on call 24/7, call him/ interrupt his time no matter how inconvenient. However an Imam also has his own life as mentioned in the article. Who will pay his bills, pay for him daily bread, he needs to spend quality time with his spouse and family, it goes on and on.

    I can only pray for you, that through the Almighty’s Rehmat, your hardships will become less hard, and that you will never lose patience, after all you too are human.

  25. Avatar

    Harun Butt

    March 9, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    With all due respect is it not your wife’s right and your responsibility to provide for her sufficiently?

    When Abu Bakr radiAllahu an was calipha and he was not bing paid enough, he did not simply carry on with his duties but rather took to the marketplace to do business to provide for his family’s needs, did he not?

    I mean no disrespect -it is a genuine question.

    • Avatar

      A Brother

      March 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM

      Asalamu Alaykum

      Harun, but the story continues, since they needed him to devote time to his duties, they increased his salary.  It is a qawaa’id of fiqh, if a person dedicates himself to something, it should fulfill their needs.

      This brother has experienced tremendous injustice from family – not all – as well.Brother who wrote the post and his wife, if you are not already, I want to advise you to exercise if a doctor gives you the pass.  This is very good for you and benefiting the health long term insha’Allah. Taking the means.  May Allah reward you both for your efforts and intentions and bring ease.

      Asalamu Alaykum

      Abdullah

  26. Avatar

    the brother's wife

    March 10, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    You’re question is a valid question but I do have a question of my own.

    Did you see any mention of me (the wife) not being provided for? Or was the point of this post:

    1) the miserable system of many masaajid here VS those with a proper system.

    2) no matter how much hardship, if one is determined to do something for Allah’ sake, then Allah will surely help him.

    3) the one who enters the field of da3wah should never give up because
    if one is sincere (and only Allah knows whether or not someone is
    sincere) then the reward Allah will give him outweighs any and every
    difficulty that comes his way.

    I suggest everyone to not dig behind things and take things the way they
    are mentioned and look for these 3 points of benefit in the post. I am
    the one who gave permission behind my husband’s back for the comment to
    be posted as an article because I know this will benefit and encourage many people bi
    idhnillaah.

    But for those who are in doubt or are just curious, I actually married
    this brother nearly 3years ago, because his character is like this and Allah is witness no
    matter how difficult his financial situation was, by the permission of
    Allah, he has provided me with food, shelter and clothing. Meaning he has maintained me with whatever I asked for. And trust me, if I was not maintained, my family would have taken me away from him by force!

    I guess we fail to realize that many times, even if Allah gives less money,
    He will put barakah in that little money. And I
    guess we also fail to realize that there are women out there who are
    very content not living an extravagant life, Alhamdulillah. If the issue
    of not having health insurance seemed like I’m not provided for, well
    many people who have decent jobs don’t have health insurance these days
    because of how ridiculous the system has become. So judging based on
    just that one small information doesn’t do justice.

    Most of us Muslims today would not suffer like this to stick to the
    Sunnah and it comes as a shock when we hear something like this.  After
    marriage I’ve been blessed to personally meet his teachers as well and I
    truly understand how my husband turned out like this by the Will of
    Allah.

    And as I said, whether or not he is sincere is between him and Allah.
    But I asked myself, someone who would leave wealth & status behind
    and from his free will go through all this hardship just to learn his
    Deen and spread it, either this person is insane or he really
    must love what he does. Alhamdulillah I can confidently say he’s not
    insane!

    Some criticize him. But If someone has no sadness living the way he does
    to do whatever little he can do for the Deen (and there is not 1
    evidence in our Deen stating this is haraam) then who are we to
    criticize such a person?

    Instead of criticizing a Muslim who is this passionate about Islam, why
    not simply make du3a to Allah. Something like, O Allah keep him sincerely this passionate
    about your Deen and make him a source of benefit for all of us.

    My husband made the comment in response to the original post and quite a
    few people made comments like why should these people be paid, money
    will corrupt them, etc etc. It angers my husband very much to see people
    assume all du3aat are “scholars for dollars”. So he commented making it
    clear there are people out there who do dawah for no other reason but
    to earn the pleasure of Allah and bring peace to themselves.

    Till this day I have never heard my husband demanding any Masjid admin
    or Islamic organization after being invited, that he wants such and such
    for his time. And Allah is my witness, I hope I never hear my husband
    make those demands either. I’ve seen him drive 400 miles to do a
    workshop and come back without being paid. He had money to spend on the
    trip and he did bi idhnillaah. When he doesn’t have money he doesn’t go
    unless the people themselves tell him they’ll cover his expense. If
    they make no mention of covering his expenses, he doesn’t ask
    Alhamdulillah and won’t go if he doesn’t have the means.

    What is the problem if a brother wants to use his energy to be available
    at all times to share whatever he learns with his young brothers and
    sisters? MashaAllah our celebrity shuyookh are very difficult to get in
    touch with. Our Ummah is suffering a lot. Lack of Tawheed, lack of
    Sunnah, many family problems, marital problems, youth problems and so
    on. What are we supposed to do, sit around and wait for Yasir Qadhi
    & Waleed Basyouni (for some) or some one from the keebaar (for
    others) to visit our town and solve the problems? Or should every
    community have people available around the clock to seek Deen related
    help from (i.e. local du3aat)?

    Some of us suffer from a disease – if you’re not a celebrity your not
    qualified for da3wah – and this truly is a disease that is killing our
    communities.

    And others suffer from a disease – hey you da’ee, since you can not
    water the Deen down, we don’t like you and we will not justly pay you
    for your time. We want you to be part of the Masjid all day every day,
    do another job on the side and also give proper time to your wife and
    kids. – sounds very nice and logical, right?

    One of my husband’s shaykhs said the right thing by saying that this
    concept is society’s way of trying to kill the da3wah to Tawheed and Sunnah.
    Da’ees who call to the Sunnah are supposed to be robots who have to work
    2 full time jobs and also manage to give proper time to their families.

    But anyways yes my husband MashaAllah does provide for me with whatever I need. MashaAllah he does not owe any money to anybody or any credit cards. I can confidently say Allah puts barakah in whatever he earns. Alhamdulillahi rabbul 3alameen!

    • Avatar

      Guest

      March 11, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      While I don’t necessarily disagree with anything that you have written, you are right that, my point centered around  “I even had to sit helplessly at home while my wife suffered through a life threatening illness without proper medication because I could not afford it.”

      I (personally) would call health care to be vital (and not at all an extravagance), regardless of how nutty the US healthcare system is.

      Thank you for your response.

  27. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    March 11, 2012 at 6:14 AM

    This is a heartbreaking and extremely touching post. May Allah open up our eyes to the reality of what those who sacrifice their lives for His Sake really go through, and soften our hearts so that we may have some mercy for them!

  28. Avatar

    Danish Hamid2

    March 12, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Brother, Your story made me cry. May Allah SWT give compensate you in the only way which can do justice to your situation- Jannat Al-Firdaus. If only Allah gave me 1/10 of the patience you have. I pray for your good health and happiness of your family.

  29. Avatar

    sms

    March 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    JazakAllahukhairun Shaykh for sharing this story with us. Allah provide you with better and an internal abode in the highest level of Jannah.

  30. Avatar

    guy

    March 17, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    This is a horribly written article. Has MuslimMatters slouched so low, that they articles such as this to appear on their “intellectual” blog. Please, we need to step it up.  

    • Avatar

      Waylan

      March 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      Fix your grammar first, then critique this mans’ work.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      March 19, 2012 at 7:32 AM

       This was a comment we received on our previous article and since it was too long and we felt it served purpose we posted it as a post. Please note it was not edited by our editors in order to keep the authentic feel of the author’s comment.

      We would love to get some excellently written intellectual contributions from you for our blog. You may submit via email info [at] muslimmatters [dot] org

  31. Avatar

    Shakirehusma

    March 21, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    So bro, u really Wahhabi?

  32. Avatar

    none

    March 21, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    I honestly feel the time has come to take Masjid Administration seriously and centralize, whether nationally, regionally, or even in a city. Sure perhaps the salafee masjid can’t be salafee enough, and the sufi masjid can’t be sufi enough. But we need oversight on how masjids can generate funds for projects and their imams. Too many suffer unspoken hardships. If we had a revenue sharing system where rich communities help the poor communities things would work out better. We also need to attract the brightest individuals to the position of imams and social work. The current situation is fragmented and sloppy. It might be too much of a burden on certain communities to fund an imam’s salary which should be set competitively with other clergy and social workers. Sure a masjid loses its freedom, but for the overall benefit of the Muslim communities in America. 

    We need to figure out ways to make masjids commercially viable, not run on the generosity of a particular community. The poorest communities may need more guidance than they can afford. The richest communities might be inefficient. I think AMJA/ISNA/ICNA need to step in and do something about this. Allahu alim. May Allah help this Brother and his wife and heal them and grant them security and comfort in this life and the hereafter. There must be many like him and we have to put a stop to inefficient and wasteful use of resources. 

  33. Avatar

    Amatullah

    March 21, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    SubhaanAllaah. May Allaah accept you brother, ameen.

  34. Avatar

    Junaith Haja

    March 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Alhamdulillah…It was such an energetic story to share with others the life journey of our brother…
    Verily this loved brother of us has undergone an immense struggle which most of us have not faced..
    May Allah give you more strength, courage and sound health..!!!!!!

  35. Avatar

    Hassan Mahfooz

    March 24, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Did you try dawah by actions with your dad? JazakAllah khair for writing this piece.

  36. Avatar

    Sunnah is a must!

    March 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    What the brother said regarding the Masjids is right on the mark! The brother has done a lot for many youth and married couples in this city. Everyone that got a chance to meet him still talks about him. No one that I know can say anything bad about his character and the only complaints from few evil people are that he calls to following the salaf. We do not realize that it’s our job to support the propagation of Islam and part of supporting its propagation means to support those who are actually doing the physical work. May Allah have mercy on you and make it financially and physically easy for you to continue the good work that you do! may Allah accept your deeds and give you more knowledge!

  37. Avatar

    MC.Muslimah

    March 29, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    May Allah accept you and your wife’s effort and reward you both immensely Ameen

  38. Avatar

    Aliakbaraidid

    May 3, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Exactly the same thing once happened in the masjid I attended during my stay in the US. One of the main problem of the masajids in the US is that the community has such a low standard for the administration/board when it comes for elections. Most of the time in order to be elected one merely needs to be a member for a year or two and be popular enough to get his votes. Why not raise the standards, say, a nominee has to regularly attend the jamaah prayer at least once a day and memorize a number of juzs of the Quran because after all the salah and Quran are the best cretarion, is it not. To often we see ignorant young members of the community taking administration then being in charge of knowledgable shuyookh who deserve more respect.
    Allah knows best.

  39. Avatar

    Yusuf

    May 6, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    May Allah(swt) reward you for your iman and sabr.

  40. Avatar

    ElvenInk

    April 12, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Subhan Allah. It’s very saddening to hear about the way this brother was treated by his communities, but I think this experience should remind us of some important Islamic concepts. First of all, I don’t know where people are getting the idea that an Imam should spend 100% of their time giving to the community… in Islam there is nothing wrong with having your own business or profession and this doesn’t take away from your commitment or sincerity in the Da’wa. Also, the best form of Da’wa is the one that is done by people going about their lives and implementing Islam in their interactions with others, in their honesty and in showing others that as Muslims we can be successful professionals and we can be very good assets to society.

    Another thing is that respecting parents is very important in Islam. While it seems that the poster’s father put him through a lot it is also clear that he was trying to tell his son that he wants him to help him financially. Parents provide for us when we are young, they help us grow into the individuals we are and there’s a point when we should be prepared to shoulder some responsibility and give back to them. Even if the man’s father was rich, this doesn’t mean he can just rely on that wealth and expect it to be available to him for free while he goes around and spends his whole life doing da’wa without shouldering any responsibility.

    I would also like to point out that with the brother’s family’s wealth and with a possible profession in his father’s or uncles’ investments he could have given ALOT to some of the poorer masajid in those communities and help set it up so that these masajid had some kind of investments or some way of getting a stable source of income so they could focus on running the masjid without worrying about paying the masjid’s bills every month. With this, a masjid might be in a position to hire someone and pay them well instead of expecting free/volunteer efforts.

    Islam teaches us balance, so let’s stop expecting anyone, let alone Imams, to give 100% of their life to any one thing. We have to find a balance and we have to be willing to shoulder our responsibilities to our families and supporting them first before we start “dedicating our life to the deen”

    I’m not trying to knock the original poster down, I feel for him and what he had to go through, but I think it’s an indication of this wrong image that many people seem to have of what an Imam should be and what a Da’ee should be. Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Sister

      May 12, 2015 at 1:14 PM

      You said that so beautifully! I agree 100%. I posted my comments before reading yours, but you said everything I was thinking in such a better way. May Allah reward you. When the author expected to be dependent on his father’s wealth, I was completely turned off by the article. I just think nowadays, there are two issues: da’ees are not being compensated enough or they think that they devote their lives to da’wah and therefore it entitles them to be dependent upon others. It is funny because we all know in America, you are not going to be compensated well for being a low-key imam or da’ee, yet when you make that choice, and you don’t have a back-up plan for financial security, then you really cannot complain. It is different though when you didn’t make that choice and those are the cards you are dealt with, but when you willingly choose that lifestyle, then you really cannot blame anyone else.

  41. Avatar

    Ahmed

    October 22, 2014 at 5:30 AM

    I have one question. How on Earth or why on Earth would people commit zinnah IN a masjid? A community being bad I can believe, but that part I can’t.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      October 27, 2014 at 1:38 AM

      Dear brother

      Not sure where ‘people committing zina in a masjid’ comes up.

      Aly

      • Avatar

        Ahmed

        October 27, 2014 at 7:07 AM

        “Let me tell you briefly about this specific community. They had teens doing drugs 20 feet away from the masjid, pre-teen girls getting pregnant by kuffaar men and fornication that happened inside the house of Allāh!”

        Sixth paragraph.

        • Avatar

          Aly Balagamwala

          October 28, 2014 at 3:56 AM

          SubhanAllah! I missed that part or maybe my brain read it differently. May Allah protect our communities from such a fate.

          *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

  42. Avatar

    Sister

    May 12, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    I was extremely touched by this post, but I don’t entirely agree with all the brother’s points. I do agree that the person should be compensated for his work. However, it sounded like the author already knew that he wouldn’t be well-compensated and was willing to work for free, so I am not understanding why he didn’t ensure that he was financially self-sufficient so that he could continue his da’wah? Or perhaps the wife could have helped him financially? I just feel that this article has so many contradictions. Also, his father wanted him to become a doctor, and why can one not be a doctor and a da’ee at the same time? He would be obeying his father and seeking the pleasure of Allah at the same time. Afterall, we are commanded to obey our father, as long as what he wants for us doesn’t fall into kufr. Again, I agree that he should be compensated for his work, but it just sounds like the brother is saying that he was willing to work for free, but then saying that he expected others to support him financially for what he was willing to do for free. I guess I am missing the point. I think when you go into dawah, you have to be willing to support yourself and your family. Dawah is not limited to the masjid, and many people miss this point. Even Shaykh Al-Albani rahimullah used to repair watches to sustain a living, yet he also was an amazing scholar of Islam who did a lot for the deen. Again, I do believe the brother should have been compensated for his work, but we all know that da’ees who are low-key are not going to make a lot of money, so they are going to have to prepare for that, and Allah knows best.

  43. Avatar

    Sister

    May 12, 2015 at 1:23 PM

    Also, I am a bit confused about why the brother wanted his inheritance from his father, when his father was still living? That didn’t make sense to me for two reasons. One would think that the father doesn’t even pray, so why would he care about the laws of inheritance. Also, the father is still living, doesn’t his inheritance get distributed after his death? Too many inconsistencies in this article. Perhaps the author can clarify?

  44. Avatar

    Dr. Noorul Hussain K.

    December 22, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum
    This brought tears in my eyes. May Allah swt reward you for your immense patience! JazakAllah khair for the post.
    http://www.cris.co.nf

  45. Avatar

    Mahvish

    March 6, 2016 at 2:03 PM

    Brought tears to my eyes. I’m deeply shaken. I pray for you my dearest brother that you be the most successful in this world and the next. Allah must love you so much. Can’t stop crying..

  46. Avatar

    Abu Zakariyya Yahya Hassan

    March 7, 2016 at 1:00 AM

    Masha Allah its really touching and indeed a wake-up call. Jazaka Allah kheyr.

    I think we need to remind ourselves the story of Mus’ab ibn Umair (Radhya Allah 3nhu) who was born and brought up in wealth but, when he died his head was covered with the only shroded woolen cotton and lemon grass was put on his feet!!!

    Don’t give up, keep on moving and never look behind bro. May Almighty Allah reward you accordingly.

  47. Avatar

    Shiraz Ahmad Dar

    March 7, 2016 at 1:22 AM

    Brother I read your whole story,and beleive me It bought tears in my eyes.But this life is a test for all of us and In sha Allah who Passes this teat will have no regrets in next life.After after hardship there is relief,may Allah Subhana wataala remove your sufferings and help you in spreading the true teachings of Islaam.
    Brother I love you for sake of Allah…

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#Life

How Do Muslims Plan for Disability

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Families with children with disability have an extraordinary set of challenges and blessings.  Disability (or special needs) is a broad term.

Many disabilities will prevent what we often think of as “normal.”  It may hinder or prevent educational opportunities, and employment. Many people with “special needs” can get educated, get married and live long and productive lives.  The problem for many parents of younger children with special needs is that they typically have no certainty about their children’s future needs. Even if the situation looks dire, it may not stay that way.  

How do parents plan for a world where they may not be around to see how things will end up for their special needs children?  What can they do to help their children in a way that does not violate Islamic Inheritance rules?

Certain types of disability, especially the loss of executive decision-making ability, could also happen well into adulthood.  This can be a threat to a family’s wealth and be the cause of internal conflicts. This is the kind of thing every adult needs to think about before it happens.  

The Problem

The issues are not just that parents believe their special needs child will need more inheritance than other children. Muslim parents usually don’t think that. Some parents don’t want their special needs child to get any inheritance at all.  Not because of any ill-will against their special needs child; just the opposite, but because they are afraid inheritance will result in sabotaging their child’s needs-based government benefits.    

Many, perhaps most special needs children do not have any use for needs-based benefits (benefits for the poor).  But many do, or many parents might figure that it is a distinct possibility. This article is a brief explanation of some of the options available for parents of special needs children.  It won’t go over every option, but rather those that are usually incorporated as part of any Islamic Estate Planning.

Please Stand By

Example:  Salma has three daughters and two sons.  One of her children, Khalida, 3, has Down Syndrome.  At this point, Salma knows that raising Khalida is going to be an immense challenge for herself, her husband Rashid and all the older siblings.  What she does not know, however, is what specific care Khalida is going to need through her life or how her disability will continue to be relevant. She does not know a lot about Khalida’s future marriage prospects, ability to be employed and be independent, though obviously like any parent she has nothing but positive hopes for her child’s life.   

In the event of her death, Salma wants to make sure her daughter gets her Islamic right to inheritance.  However, if Khalida needs public benefits, Salma does not want her daughter disqualified because she has her own money.

Her solution is something called a “stand-by special needs trust.” This type of trust is done in conjunction with an Islamic Inheritance Plan and is typically part of a living trust, though it could also be a trust drafted into the last will.  I will describe more about what a special needs trust is below. For Salma, she is the Trustee of her trust. After she dies, she names her husband (or someone else) the successor Trustee. The trust is drafted to prevent it from becoming an “available resource” used to determine eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits that go with that.

If it turns out that Salma passes away when Khalida is 5, and her assets are held in trust for her until she is 18 and her Trustee determines she does not need a special needs trust, she will get her inheritance precisely like everyone else based on their Islamic right.  If she does need benefits, the Trustee will only make distributions to Khalida that would not harm her eligibility.

This way, there is no need to deny Khalida her inheritance because of her disability, and she is also making sure giving her daughter inheritance would not harm her daughter’s healthcare or other necessary support.  

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

A stand-alone Special needs trusts, which is sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” the kind without the “stand-by” variation I described above, are a standard device for families that have children with special needs. A trust is a property ownership device. A Grantor gives the property to a Trustee, who manages the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In a revocable living trust, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are typically the same person.  

When the trust is irrevocable, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary may all be different people. In a special needs trust, the person with a disability is the beneficiary. Sometimes, the person with a disability is also the Grantor, the person who created the trust.  This might happen if there is a settlement from a lawsuit for example and the person with special needs wants it to be paid to the trust.  

In many if not most cases, the goal may not be to protect the beneficiary’s ability to get public benefits at all. Many people with a disability don’t get special government benefits.  But they do want to protect the beneficiaries from having to manage the assets. Some people are just more susceptible to abuse.

The structure of the arrangement typically reflects the complexity of the family, the desire of siblings and extended family to continue to be involved in the care and attending to the needs of the person with a disability, even if they are not the person directly writing checks.   

Example: Care for Zayna

Example: Zayna is a 24-year-old woman with limited ability to communicate, take care of her needs and requires 24-hour care.  Zayna has three healthy siblings, many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her father, Elias, earns about $70,000 per year and is divorced. Zayna’s mother Sameena cannot contribute, as she is on social security disability. However, Zayna’s adult brother and sisters, brother in laws, sister in law and several aunts, uncles want to help Zayna meet her needs E.lyas creates a third party special needs trust that would ensure Zayna has what she needs in the years to come.

Zayna receives need-based public benefits that are vital to her in living with her various disabilities and her struggle to gain increasing independence, knowledge and dignity.  So the trust needs to be set up and professionally administered to make sure that when Zayna gets any benefit from her trust, it does not end up disqualifying her ability to get any needs-based benefit.  

Contributions to the special needs trust will not go against Islamic Inheritance rules unless made after the death of the donor.

If Zayna dies, her assets from the special needs trust will be distributed based on the Islamic rules of inheritance as it applies to her.

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

Perhaps most families with special needs children do not use any needs-based public assistance.  They are still concerned about special needs and planning for it.

Example:  Khadija, 16, is on the autism spectrum. For those familiar with the autism spectrum, that could mean a lot of things.  For her parents, Sarah and Yacoob, other than certain habits that are harmless and easy to get used to, it means Khadija is very trusting of people. Otherwise, she does well in school, and her parents don’t think she needs way more help than her siblings and she has just as good a chance of leading a healthy and productive life as any 16-year-old girl.  

The downside of being too trusting is that the outside world can exploit her.  If she ends up getting inheritance or gifts, she may lose it. The parents decide that when she gets her inheritance, it will be in a trust that would continue through her life.  There will be a trustee who will make sure she has what she needs from her trust, but that nobody can exploit her.

In some ways, what Khadija’s parents Sarah and Yacoob are doing is not so different from what parents might do if they have a child with a substance abuse problem.  They want to give their child her rights, but they don’t want to allow for exploitation and abuse.

Considering your own needs

There are many people who are easy marks for scammers, yet you would be unlikely to know this unless you are either a close friend or family member, or a scammer yourself.  While this often happens to the elderly, it can happen at just about any age. Everyone should consider developing an “incapacity plan” to preserve their wealth even if they lose their executive decision-making ability.   

There is this process in state courts known as “conservatorship.” Indeed, entire courtrooms dedicate themselves to conservatorships and other mental health-related issues.  It is a legal process that causes an individual to lose their financial or personal freedom because a court has essentially declared them not competent to handle their affairs. Conservatorships are a public process.  They can cause a lot of pain embarrassment and internal family strife.

One of the benefits of a well-drafted living trust is to protect privacy and dignity during difficult times.

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

Haris, 63, was eating lunch at a diner.  In the waiting area, he became fast friends with Mellissa; a thirty-something woman who was interested in talking about Haris’s grandchildren.  The conversation then turned Melissa and her desire to start a business selling long distance calling cards. Haris was fascinated by this and thought it made good business sense. Haris gave Mellissa $20,000.00. The two exchanged numbers. The next day, Mellissa’s number was disconnected.

Haris’s wife, Julie became alarmed by this.  It was out of character for her husband to just fork over $20,000 to anyone on the spur of the moment.  What was worse is that the business failed immediately.  

Three months later,  Haris meets Mellissa at the diner again.  She then convinces Haris to invest $50,000 in a Cambodian rice farm, which he does right away.   His wife Julie was pretty upset.

How living trusts helps

As it happened though, Haris, a few years before, created a living trust.  It has a provision that includes incapacity planning. There are two essential parts to this:  The first is a system to decide if someone has lost their executive decision-making ability. The second is to have a successor Trustee to look over the estate when the individual has lost this capacity.  This question is about Haris’s fundamental freedom: his ability to spend his own money.

If you asked Haris, he would say nothing is wrong with him.  He looks and sounds excellent. Tells the best dad jokes. He goes to the gym five times a week and can probably beat you at arm wrestling. Haris made some financial mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Julie, and his adult children Haroon, Kulsum, Abdullah, and Rasheeda are not so sure it’s just a mistake.  The living trust created a “disability panel.” This panel gets to vote, privately, in if Haris should continue to act as Trustee of his own money.  If they vote that he should not manage his own money, his wife does it for him.

The family has a way to decide an important and sensitive issue while maintaining Haris’ dignity, privacy and wealth.   Haris’s friends don’t know anything about long distance calling cards or a Cambodian rice farm; they don’t know he lost his ability to act as Trustee of his trust.  Indeed the rest of the world is oblivious to all of this.

Planning for everyone

Islamic inheritance is fard and every Muslim should endeavor to incorporate it into their lives.  As it happens it is an obligation Muslims, at least those in the United States, routinely ignore or deal with inadequately.  However, there is more to planning than just what shares go to whom after death. Every family needs to create a system. There may or may not be problems with children or even with yourself (other than death, which will happen), but you should do whatever you can to protect your family’s wealth and dignity while also fulfilling your obligations to both yourself and your family.

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Cleaning Out Our Own Closets This Ramadan: Bigotry

Why Eliminating Hate Begins with Us

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Before Muslims take a stand against xenophobia in the U.S., we really need to eradicate it from our own community.

There. I said it.

There is no nice way to put it. Muslims can be very intolerant of those outside their circles, particularly our Latino neighbors. How do I know? I am a Latina who came into Islam almost two decades ago, and I have experienced my fair share of stereotypes, prejudice, and just outright ignorance coming from my very own Muslim brethren.

And I am not alone.

My own family and Latino Muslim friends have also dealt with their daily doses of bigotry. Most of the time, it is not ill-intentioned, however, the fact that our community is so out of touch with Latin Americans says a lot about why we are often at the receiving end of discrimination and hate.

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (The Qur’an, 13:11)

Recently, Fox News came under fire for airing a graphic that stated, “Trump cuts aid to 3 Mexican countries,” on their show, “Fox and Friends Weekend.” The network apologized for the embarrassing error, but not before criticism of their geographical mishap went viral on social media. The reactions were of disbelief, humor, and repugnance for the controversial news channel that has become the archenemy of everything Islamic. People flooded the internet with memes, tweets, and comments regarding the ridiculous headline, Muslims included. American Muslim leaders quickly released statements condemning the lack of knowledge about the difference between Mexico and the nations of Central and South America.

Ironically, however, just about two months ago, my eldest son wrote an essay about the bullying he experienced in an Islamic school, which included insults about him being Mexican and “eating tacos” even though he is half Ecuadorian (South America) and Puerto Rican (Caribbean), not Mexican. I include the regions in parentheses because, in fact, many Muslims are just as geographically-challenged as the staff at Fox News. When a group of Hispanic workers came to replace the windows at his former school, my son approached them and spoke to them in Spanish as a means of dawah – teaching them that there are Latin American and Spanish-speaking Muslims. His classmates immediately taunted him saying that the laborers were “his cousins.” Although my son tried countless times to explain to his peers the difference between his origins and Mexico and defended both, they continued to mock Latinos.

On another occasion, a local masjid invited a famous Imam from the Midwest to speak about a topic. My family and I attended the event because we were fans of the shaykh and admired his work. A few minutes into his talk, he made a derogatory remark about Mexicans, and then added with a smile, “I hope there aren’t any Mexicans in the room!” A gentleman from the community stood up behind my husband, who is Ecuadorian, and pointed at him saying, “We have one right here!” Some people chuckled as his face turned red. The shaykh apologized for his comment and quickly moved on. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. This was nothing new.

Imam Mohamed Alhayek (Jordanian Palestinian) and Imam Yusuf Rios (Puerto Rican) share an intimate moment during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day. Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

Once, I visited a Pakistani sister, and as I enjoyed a cup of warm chai on her patio, she turned to me earnestly and said, “You and (another Latina Muslim) are the only educated Hispanics I know.” She then asked me why Latinos did not have “goals and ambitions” because supposedly, all the Hispanic students in her daughters’ school only aspired to work in their parents’ businesses as laborers. She went on to tell me about her Hispanic maid’s broken family and how unfortunate it was that they had no guidance or moral values. I was shocked by her assumptions, but I realized that this was the sentiment of a lot of Muslims who simply do not know a thing about our culture or have not taken the time to really get to know us.

When I accepted Islam back in 2000, I never expected to hear some of the narrow-minded comments and questions I received from those people who had become my brothers and sisters in faith. After all, I came to Islam through the help of an Egyptian family, I declared the Shahada for the first time in the presence of people from Pakistan, and I was embraced in the masjid by worshippers from places like Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. A white American convert gifted me with my first Ramadan guide and an Indian sister supported me during my first fast. I expected to be treated equally by everyone because Islam was for everyone and Muslims have been hearing this their whole lives and they preach it incessantly. I do the same now. As a Muslim Latina, I tell my people that Islam is open to all and that racism, colorism, classism, and xenophobia have no place in Islam.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for me to hear some very ugly things from my new multi-cultural community. I was questioned about whether I was a virgin or not by well-meaning sisters who wanted to find me a Muslim husband. My faith was scrutinized when my friend’s family introduced me to an imam who doubted I had converted on my own, without the persuasion of a Muslim boyfriend or husband. I was pressured about changing my name because it was not “Islamic” enough. I was lectured about things that I had already learned because foreign-born Muslims assumed I had no knowledge. I was even told I could not be a Muslim because I was Puerto Rican; that I was too “out there,” too loud, or that my people were not morally upright.

I know about good practicing Muslim men who have been turned down for marriage because they are Hispanic. On the other hand, I have seen sisters taken for marriage by immigrant Muslims to achieve citizenship status and later abandoned, despite having children. I have been approached by Muslim men searching for their “J-Lo,” who want to marry a “hot” Latina because of the disgusting exploitation of Latina women they have been exposed to from television, movies, and music videos. I have made the mistake of introducing this type of person to one of my sisters and witnessed their disappointment because she did not fit the image of the fantasy girl they expected. I have felt the heartbreak of my sister who was turned down for not living up to those unrealistic expectations, and who continues to wait for a Muslim man who will honor her as she deserves. An older “aunty” once said to my face that she would never let her children marry a Latino/a.

I met a brother named José who was told that he had to change his un-Islamic Spanish name so that he would be better received in the Muslim community, even though his name, when translated to Arabic, is Yusuf! I have been asked if I know any Hispanic who could work at a Muslim’s store for less than minimum wage 12 hours a day or a “Spanish lady” who can clean a Muslim’s house for cheap. I have spoken to Latino men and women who work at masajid doing landscaping or janitorial services who have never heard anything about Islam. When I approached the Muslim groundskeeper at one of these mosques with Spanish literature to give them, he looked at me bewildered and said, “Oh, they are just contractors,” as if they did not deserve to learn about our faith! I have heard that the child of a Latina convert was expelled and banned from returning to an Islamic school for making a mistake, once. I have been told about fellow Hispanics who dislike going to the masjid because they feel rejected and, worse of all, some of them have even left Islam altogether.

Latina Muslims share a laugh during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day.
Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

A few weeks ago, news was released about the sentencing of Darwin Martinez Torres, who viciously raped and murdered Northern Virginia teen, Nabra Hassanen during Ramadan in June 2017. The story made national headlines and left her family and the entire Muslim community devastated. Although the sentence of eight life terms in prison for the killer provided some closure to the public, the senseless and heinous act still leaves sentiments of anger and frustration in the hearts of those who loved Nabra Hassanen. Muslims began sharing the news on social media and soon, remarks about the murderer’s Central American origin flooded the comments sections. One said, “An illegal immigrant from El Salvador will now spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison where all his needs will be met, and his rights will be protected… When we attack efforts to stop illegal immigration and to deal with the criminals coming across the border every day, remember Sr. Nabra… we should all be united in supporting common-sense measures to ensure that our sisters do not walk in fear of attacks. (And no, this is not an ‘isolated case’…).”

Although I was just as relieved about receiving the news that there was finally justice for our young martyred sister, I was saddened to see that the anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiment within our own community was exposed: To assume that Latino immigrants are “criminals coming across the border every day” is to echo the very words that came from current US President Donald Trump’s mouth about immigrants prior to his election to the presidency. To blame all Latinos for a crime committed against one and claim it is not an “isolated case” is to do the same thing that Fox News and anti-Muslim bigots do when they blame all Muslims for a terror attack.

Why are we guilty of the same behavior that we loathe?

I do not like to air out our dirty laundry. I have always felt that it is counterproductive for our collective dawah efforts. It is embarrassing and shameful that we, who claim to be so tolerant and peaceful, still suffer from the very attitudes for which we blame others. As I write this piece, I have been sharing my thoughts with my close friend, a Pakistani-American, who agreed with me and said, “Just like a recovering alcoholic, our first step is to admit there is a problem.” We cannot demand our civil rights and expect to be treated with dignity while we mistreat another minority group, and this includes Latinos and also other indigenous Muslims like Black Americans and Native Americans. I say this, not just for converts, but for my loud and proud, half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian children and nephews and others like them who were born Muslims: we need a community that welcomes all of us.

Latinos and Muslims share countless cultural similarities. Our paths are the same. Our history is intertwined, whether we know it or not; and if you don’t know it, then it is time you do your research. How can we visit Islamic Spain and North Africa and marvel at its magnificence, and travel to the Caribbean for vacation and notice the Andalusian architecture present in the colonial era structures, yet choose to ignore our shared past? How can you be proud of Mansa Musa, and not know that it is said his brother sailed with other Malians to the Americas prior to Columbus, making contact with the indigenous people of South America (even before it was “America”)? How can you turn your back on people from the countries which sheltered thousands of Muslim immigrants from places like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey after the collapse of the Uthmani Empire, many of which carry that blood in their veins?

Latino Muslim panelists during “Hispanic Muslim Day” at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, Union City, NJ Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

We need to do a better job of reaching out and getting to know our neighbors. In recent years, the Muslim ban has brought Latinos and Muslims together in solidarity to oppose discriminatory immigration laws. The time is now to establish lasting partnerships.

Use this Ramadan to reach out to the Latino community; host a Spanish open house or an interfaith/intercultural community iftar. Reach out to Latino Muslims in your area for support, or to organizations like ICNA’s WhyIslam (Por qué Islam) for Spanish materials. A language barrier is not an issue when there are plenty of resources available in the Spanish language, and we have the universal language that has been declared a charity by our Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and that is a welcoming smile.

There is no excuse.

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How to Teach Your Kids About Easter

Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

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Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not grow up in any sort of conservative, chocolate-deprived bubble. My mother was – and still is – a Christian. My father was – and still is – Muslim, and our home was a place where two faiths co-existed in unapologetic splendor.

My mother put up her Christmas tree every year.  We children, though Muslim, received Easter baskets every year. The only reason why I wished I was Christian too, even though I had no less chocolate in my life than other children my age, was because of the confusing guilt that I felt around holiday time.

I knew that the holidays were my mother’s, and we participated to honor and respect her, not to honor and respect what she celebrated. As a child though, I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t celebrate them too, even if it was just for the chocolate.

As an adult I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this conflicted enthusiasm for the holidays of others. Really, who doesn’t like treats and parties and any excuse to celebrate? As a parent though, I’ve decided that the best policy to use with my children is respectful honesty about where we stand with regard to other religions.

That’s why when my children asked me about Easter, this is what I told them:

  1. The holidays of every religion are the right of the people who follow them. They are as precious to them as Eid and Ramadan are to us.
  2. Part of being a good Muslim is protecting the rights of everyone around us, no matter what their religion is. There is nothing wrong with non-Muslims celebrating their religious non-Muslim holidays.
  3. We don’t need to pretend they’re not happening. Respectful recognition of the rights of others is part of our religion and our history. We don’t have to accept what other people celebrate in order to be respectful of their celebrations.
  4. The problem with Muslims celebrating non-Muslim religious holidays is that we simply don’t believe them to be true.

So when it comes to Easter specifically, we break it down to its smaller elements.

There is nothing wrong with chocolate. There is nothing wrong with eggs. There is nothing wrong with rabbits, and no, they don’t lay eggs.

There is nothing wrong with Easter, but we do not celebrate it because:

Easter is a celebration based on the idea the Prophet Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was Allah’s son, who Allah allowed to be killed for our sins. Easter is a celebration of him coming back to life again.

Depending on how old your child is, you may need to break it down further.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Created the sun, Allah is not a person whose eyes can’t even look directly at the sun. Allah Created space, Allah is not a person who can’t survive in space. Allah Created fire, Allah is not a person who cannot even touch fire. Allah is not a person, He does not have children as people do. Prophet Jesus [alayis] was a messenger of Allah, not a child of Allah.

Allah is also the Most-Merciful, Most-Forgiving, and All-Powerful. When we make mistakes by ourselves, we say sorry to Allah and try our best to do better. If we make mistakes all together, we do not take the best-behaved person from among us and then punish him or her in our place.

Allah is Justice Himself. He is The Kindest, Most Merciful, Most Forgiving Being in the entire universe. He always was, and always will be capable of forgiving us. No one needed to die in order for Allah to forgive anyone.

If your teacher failed the best student in the class so that the rest of the students could pass, that would not be fair, even if that student had offered that. When people say that Allah sacrificed his own son so that we could be forgiven, they are accusing Allah of really unfair things, even if they seem to think it’s a good thing.

Even if they’re celebrating it with chocolate.

We simply do not believe what is celebrated on Easter. That is why we do not celebrate Easter.

So what do we believe?

Walk your child through Surah Ikhlas, there are four lines and you can use four of their fingers.

  1. Allah is One.
  2. Allah doesn’t need anything from anyone.
  3. He was not born, and nor was anyone born of Him. Allah is no one’s child, and no one is Allah’s child
  4. There is nothing like Allah in the universe

Focus on what we know about Allah, and then move on to other truths as well.

  1. Christians should absolutely celebrate Christian holidays. We are happy for them.
  2. We do not celebrate Christian holidays, because we do not accept what they’re celebrating.
  3. We are very happy for our neighbors and hope they have a nice time.

When your child asks you about things like Christmas, Easter, Valentines, and Halloween, they’re not asking you to change religions. They’re asking you for the chance to participate in the joy of treats, decorations, parties, and doing things with their peers.

You can provide them these things when you up your halal holiday game. Make Ramadan in your home a whole month of lights, people, and happy prayer. Make every Friday special. Make Eid amazing – buy gifts, give charity, decorate every decorat-able surface if you need to – because our children have no cause to feel deprived by being Muslim.

If your holidays tend to be boring, that’s a cultural limitation, not a religious one. And if you feel like it’s not fair because other religions just have more holidays than we do, remember this:

  • Your child starting the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child finishing the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child’s first fast can be a celebration
  • Your child wearing hijab can be a celebration
  • Your child starting to pray salah can be a celebration
  • Your children can sleep over for supervised qiyaam nights
  • You can celebrate whatever you want, whenever you want, in ways that are fun and halal and pleasing to Allah.

We have a set number of religious celebrations, but there is no limit on how many personal celebrations we choose to have in our lives and families. Every cause we have for gratitude can be an opportunity to see family, eat together, dress up, and hang shiny things from other things, and I’m not talking about throwing money at the problem – I’m talking about making the effort for its solution.

It is easy to celebrate something when your friends, neighbors, and local grocery stores are doing it too. That’s probably why people of many religions – and even no religion – celebrate holidays they don’t believe in. That’s not actually an excuse for it though, and as parents, it’s our responsibility to set the right example for our children.

Making and upholding our own standards is how we live, not only in terms of our holidays, but in how we eat, what we wear, and the way we swim upstream for the sake of Allah.  We don’t go with the flow, and teaching our children not to celebrate the religious holidays of other religions just to fit in is only one part of the lesson.

The other part is to extend the right to religious freedom – and religious celebration – to Muslims too. When you teach your children that everyone has a right to their religious holidays, include Muslims too. When you make a big deal out of Ramadan include your non-Muslim friends and neighbors too, not just because it’s good dawah, but because being able to share your joy with others helps make it feel more mainstream.

Your Muslim children can give their non-Muslim friends Eid gifts. You can take Eid cookies to your non-Muslim office, make Ramadan jars. You can have Iftar parties for people who don’t fast.   Decorate your house for Ramadan, and send holiday cards out on your holidays.

You can enjoy the elements of celebration that are common to us all without compromising on your aqeedah, and by doing so, you can teach your children that they don’t have to hide their religious holidays from the people who don’t celebrate them.  No one has to. And you can teach your children to respect the religions of others, even while disagreeing with them.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are bound by a common thread, and there is much we come together on. Where the threads separate though, is still a cause for celebration. Religious tolerance is part of our faith, and recognizing the rights of others to celebrate – or abstain from celebration – is how we celebrate our differences.

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