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My Dear Ramadan Stay-at-Home Mom, I Salute You

Sh. Yaser Birjas

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My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

I know how much pain it causes you to stay behind at home, taking care of your children while everybody else is enjoying their ṣalāt and tarāwīḥ at the masjid. I know how embarrassing it is for you to come to the masjid with a great hope to be welcomed; you and your little child only to receive the angry looks upon hearing the first cry of your child. I know how much you yearn to go back to the old days before you got married or before you had children, to enjoy a peaceful hour of ‘ibādah at the masjid and to have no worries about anything else in the world, let alone a child under your care. I know that all of this is not even close to how you feel about yourself and Ramadan, or about your self-worth in this blessed month of Ramadan while trying to enjoy your ‘ibādah and fulfill your spousal and parental role all at the same time. For all of this and more, my dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom, I salute you, and may Allah reward you.

Let me share with you few things hopefully it will cheer you up during your stay at home experience in this month of Ramadan.

1.  You are not alone in this.

Even the female companions of Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) felt the same way. They were watching men going to the masjid, attending Jumu‘ah and ṣalāt with the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), listening to the beautiful reminders about this world and the hereafter and doing so many other great deeds. As they were confined to their houses and to the care of their families, they felt underachieving and as if they were left out. How could they even match men in reward when they could not do so much? The answer came from the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself.

Asmā’ bint’l-Sakan al-Anṣāriyyah, on behalf of the women in Madīnah, came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) while he was surrounded by his companions and asked boldly:  “O Messenger of Allah! The men have taken all your time…” and she complained that men are entitled to the reward of the congregational prayers, Fridays, fighting with him and other works of good deeds while women were confined to their houses and taking care of their children. She asked if women share men in the reward for what they are doing. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied, “Go back to the women who sent you and let them know that treating their husbands kindly and taking care of them is equivalent to that all you mentioned.” Reported by al-Bazzar and al-Ṭabarāni

This ḥadīth has always been used to highlight the status of husbands over their wives. Unfortunately, rarely was it used to the advantage of women. This ḥadīth gives women the privilege of earning the reward for participating in a myriad of devotional acts such as ṣalāt, fasting, Ḥajj among many other good deeds only by taking care of one single thing, the familial duty. Taking care of the house chores and being kind to the husband are not that easy either, but it’s what most women usually and normally do. They are kind by nature, and sacrifice their lives for their family. They are being rewarded immensely for what they naturally do. This is why spousal duty was made the most dangerous for women to neglect, because it was the most rewarding.

2.  Don’t be sad about praying at home

One of the biggest misconceptions about ṣalāt at the masjid is that it is considered a privilege and is only granted to men. Well, it’s not a privilege. It’s a responsibility that men are required to observe at all times unless there is an excuse for them not attend.

When a blind man, Ibn Umm Maktoom, asked the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to excuse him from attending congregational ṣalāt at the masjid, he had no one to lead him to the masjid. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)asked him if he was able to hear the adhān, and upon replying in the affirmative, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to him, “I have no excuse for you.” Reported by Muslim and Aḥmad. And in the ḥadīth of Abu Hurayrah in Bukhāri and Muslim, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) threatened to smoke men out of their houses for not attending ‘ishā’and fajr ṣalāt in the masjid.

Therefore, for men it is a duty to attend the masjid and not a privilege. Their reward starts higher at the masjid and is reduced elsewhere while for women it’s the opposite.

3.  You can still come to the masjid

As long as they maintain the proper dress code and etiquette for going to the masjid, women can still come and attend ṣalāt at the masjid. So don’t take me wrong when I say it’s better for them to pray at home, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has granted them this right in the ḥadīth:

“Do not ban the female slaves of Allah (i.e. women) from attending the houses of Allah (i.e. masjids).” reported by Bukhāri and Muslim.

However, women were given a privilege many men wish they had, which is to get the reward for praying at the masjid while still doing it at home. The Messenger of Allah said, “A woman’s ṣalāt at home is better for her than at the masjid.” Reported by Aḥmad, Abu Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhi.

The question is, why? Is it because women are unworthy of coming and attending ṣalāt in the house of Allah? Is it because they are inferior to men? The answer is absolutely no! It is simply a beautiful gesture from the Messenger of Allah in consideration to women’s hectic circumstances at home.

Imagine this: to get the 27 degrees reward for congregational prayer, a mother of three young children is required to attend the masjid regularly? How feasible could that be? Not that easy for sure. As a matter of fact, it would be frustrating and perhaps a reason for women to feel guilty and trapped in their own circumstances. Well, rest assured my dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom, your reward has been secured for you while doing what you usually do with no extra effort on your part. Men, on the other hand, are required to make the effort and the trip to the masjid to attend the congregational prayer. As for you, all you need to do is just make your wuḍū’ at home, and pray your ṣalāt on time and enjoy your stay at home.

4.  Why should women come to the masjid?

Why would women even want to attend the masjid? There are so many legitimate reasons for that, but enough for them is the right Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) granted them. However, here in the West, there aren’t that many outlets for women to learn their dīn and learn how to practice it in private or public life, and for many, the masjid is the only outlet there. In addition to that, the masjid has become a community center in which families get together and enjoy being in a safe haven. The question for Muslims in the West is not “should women come to the masjid?” but “how can we make the best accommodation for them?”

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

You might ask, “what if I want to come to the masjid to attend tarāwīḥ?” What’s wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with it unless it leads to neglecting more important duties and family priorities. This issue of women coming to the masjid for tarāwīḥ represents a very important community dilemma: are masjids well prepared to receive that many sisters and children?

Many masjids and Islamic centers in America were designed based on how masjids are built in traditional Muslim countries. In these countries, women were not expected to attend the masjid – not necessarily because they were discouraged from attending, although in some countries it is the case, but also because women had many other outlets besides the masjid from which they could learn the practice of their dīn and enjoy spiritual experience.  Therefore, the women’s section was always underserved and sometimes completely overlooked.

The Islamic centers in America and the West were designed and planned when the community was predominantly an immigrant community, and women were also expected to follow the same traditional role. In many cases, community leaders didn’t even think about it as an issue, but with the rise of the new generation and their struggle to fit youth programs within the structure of the masjid, women needed better service at these masjids. Many new masjids today are being designed and built with this need in the minds of the designers and, contrary to traditional masjids, are viewed as family-friendly masjids.

Masjids with traditional designs were not prepared to receive many women and children. They don’t have the space, the childcare service, and in many cases the proper women organization for these kinds of events, not to mention the parking spaces. Therefore, if some centers were hostile to women and children from a fiqh point of view, others simply just don’t have the proper facility to offer even a mediocre service let alone a professional one for them.

5.  Your period is for your recreation

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

Don’t you sometimes want to take a break from so many things in life, such as waking up early for fajr, so you can take that extra time you deserve for rest? Well, you work so hard and you deserve that break. When you are asked to stop fasting and praying during this time and required to stay at home instead of coming to the masjid, it does not mean you are less righteous. The ḥadīth women are “naqisatu ‘aqlin wa dīn” refers to women’s reason and practice of devotional acts as being less comparing to men (and this is not the place to debate the meaning of this ḥadīth). The ḥadīth speaks about “less” in what women do, not less in who they are or what they become during that time of the month.  It’s about quantity not quality.

When the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explained his words, he counted what women usually stop doing during their period, not what they stop becoming, because they never stop becoming devotional or righteous because of what they have no control over (i.e. their period).

Obviously if you stop practicing particular devotional duties during your period for few days it does not make you less righteous, it only makes you less “doing.” After all, even women such as Khadījah, Fāṭimah and ‘Ā’ishah were menstruating women, and still they were by far of the most righteous, among women and men, of all time.

Therefore, when your period starts it is more righteous and more devotional to stop great devotional acts such as ṣalāt, fasting, reciting the Qur’an and attending the masjid. Sounds like a paradox, but it is what it is. It’s all about obeying Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Messenger Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). However, you can still do lots of other good deeds, including reading tafsīr and the translation of the Qur’an.

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

If you decided to come to the masjid with your children, unless the masjid provides childcare service, please make sure your children stay under your supervision and make sure to respect your masjid’s regulations. The ḥadīth that bans children from attending the masjid is very weak, but being considerate to others is still essential too. Here are few suggestions you may want to consider:

1.  Try to get a group of sisters together to take turns babysitting their children in the masjid.  A couple of sisters can stay with the children while  the others pray, and after two or four rakʿahs they switch until the end of the ṣalāt.

2.  If the masjid does not have enough room, you could babysit at the house of one the participating families. In this case, you stay at home one night while others pray and then rotate so that everybody gets a chance to host the children and enjoy praying.

3.  Young parents?!  The husband and wife can help each other in the same manner – it is part of being kind to one another. I have also seen some young fathers get together in one house and do their tarāwīḥ in jama‘ah at home with their young babies around and their wives pray that night at the masjid. It’s your priority to pray at the masjid, but part of your good manners is to consider your wife’s need too.

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

If you decided to pray at home, here are few tips for you:

1.  Pray with your children if you can, and lead them even if they were boys younger than ten.

2.  Do not follow any live broadcast of ṣalātul tarāwīḥ of the Internet or TV.  Pray on your own.

3.  Even though it’s permissible to hold the muḥaf and recite from the Qur’an directly, it is still better for you to recite from memory.

4.  If you don’t know much of the Qur’an, you can still repeat the same sūrah over and over again until the recitation is long enough for you.

5.  It is permissible to dim the lights around the house in order to get more focus and concentration.

6.  Pray it in the best way you can, and may Allah reward you for your good intention.

 

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

Thank you for your patience.

Yaser Birjas
4th of Ramadan 1433
July 24, 2012

Ramadan 2012 Posts

Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.

73 Comments

73 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Babar Khan

    July 27, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Barakullah feek ustaad. I emailed it home and read it, this article comes at a great time. i didnt even know the author until the end. May Allah continue to bless you and your family with good in this life and the next. Ameen.

  2. Avatar

    Faith Barrow-Waheed

    July 27, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Barakallah for writing this article. I’m not married and don’t have any children, so I still get the chance to go to Taraweeh on regular basis without having other responsibilities at home.

    One thing that I think may be helpful is switching roles every once in a while. Maybe one night out of the week during Ramadan, a father can stay home with the children while a mother goes to Taraweeh prayers. It would allow her to spend time with the rest of the community and enjoy the prayer and fellowship with other Muslims without worrying about her children crying or getting restless. While stay at home moms primary responsibility may be the home, I’m sure they still want to come to the masjid and be with the community.

    • Avatar

      Abu Sufian

      July 30, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      Men should be attending the congregational prayers so this is not a good option to switch with their wives. It’s not like we’re talking about diaper duties or the like.

      • Avatar

        umm ahmad

        July 31, 2012 at 3:34 AM

        Even the prophet peace be upon him prayed taraweeh at home occasionally, so as not to burden his ummah with this sunnah prayer. why can’t a man be doing the same once in a while?

      • Avatar

        Mahdi Hassan

        August 1, 2012 at 3:40 PM

        One can always pray Isha and leave.

      • Avatar

        Faith Barrow-Waheed

        August 3, 2012 at 10:00 AM

        Yes, men should make the fard salat in congregation. However, Taraweeh salat is not fard. Seriously, a man cannot make Taraweeh at home once a week or even let his wife attend Taraweeh once a week while attending to the children? I have seen couples where the man does attend Taraweeh most nights but sometimes attends to the children so that his wife can pray Taraweeh in peace.

        • Avatar

          Heather

          August 4, 2012 at 6:23 AM

          The distinction between fard and sunnah prayers is what is key here.

      • Avatar

        Umm Reham

        August 15, 2012 at 1:39 AM

        We live very close to the Masjid so me and my husband decided that he will go pray isha and pray 4 rakahs of taraweeh and will come back and then I will go and pray the last 4. During the last ten nights, he is praying the whole taraweeh and I go with my sister and my mother to the masjid for qiyaam ul layal while he does his worship at home( since we have an year old daughter at home). Allhumdulilah it has worked for us wonderfully. Allhumdulilah for such an understanding and kind husband.

      • Avatar

        tired muslimah

        June 23, 2016 at 2:45 PM

        Taraweeh is not obligatory sooo the husband and wife can switch.

  3. Avatar

    Jessi

    July 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Thank you so much, Sheikh. Your message to us touches the heart and is also greatly needed.

    This is beautiful and I cannot express enough how I appreciate being spoken to in such a respectful, intelligent way.

    Jazak Allah khairan and may you and your family experience a blessed Ramadan in which you are given forgiveness from your Lord and are emancipated from the fire of Hell, ameen.

  4. Avatar

    Umm Ibraheem Ashmin

    July 27, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Jazza kallahu khayran wa barakallahu feeki for such a GREAT and I mean A GREAT ARTICLE!!

  5. Avatar

    Umm armaraa

    July 27, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Jazakallah khair for considering us stay at home moms and giving us a boost .

  6. Avatar

    Madz

    July 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    JZK for this! I feel less guilty and more proud of my duties!

  7. Avatar

    Angie Ellaboudy

    July 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Barak Allahu fik, beautiful article and reminder.

    Um Sumayyah

  8. Avatar

    Hibz

    July 27, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    JAZAAAKUM ALLAH KHAYRUN; Very Much Needed & Heartfelt Article Alhamduilah

  9. Avatar

    Bariah

    July 27, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    how beautiful. Jazak Allah Khayran from stay home, homeschoolng mom of three.

  10. Avatar

    Alia H.

    July 27, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    In point #5. Did you really meant to say this ”
    It’s about quantity not quality.”?
    I thought its other way. Jazakumullah kheiran for the awesome article! May Allah(swt) enable us all moms to make most of our time and oppurtunities while maintaining our duties (Ameen)

    • Avatar

      Ali Fiaz

      July 27, 2012 at 4:57 PM

      I believe the shaykh is referring the hadith as he is explaining what it implies.

    • Avatar

      Heather

      August 4, 2012 at 6:15 AM

      I think he meant women do less quantity, not less quality of worship. What we do 3 weeks out of the month is equal to a man’s 4 weeks. :)

  11. Avatar

    A Muslim Sister

    July 27, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    That was an awesome article Shaikh Birjas. You made me more proud of my role as a Mom. May Allah protect you and preserve you.

  12. Avatar

    Hafsa

    July 27, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    As salam alaikum,
    Having faced this issue with all my 3 kids, I decided to do something about it. Alhamdulillah, Allah has been very kind to me. I worked with my masjid board to set up childcare programs during Tarawih salah. We made attractive and engaging activities for the kids related to Islam and they love coming to childcare. This way, Inshallah, a few mothers, whose kids are 3 and above can also pray peacefully.

  13. Avatar

    Tiger

    July 27, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Surprised that this is written by a man. What on earth is a -stay-at-home mom. For your kind information, women are supposed to stay at home.

    P.S. Why don’t muslimmatters scholars cover their heads?

  14. Avatar

    Aiiiiiiiiiiiiii

    July 27, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    >The question is, why? Is it because women are unworthy of coming and attending ṣalāt
    in the house of Allah? Is it because they are inferior to men? The
    answer is absolutely no! It is simply a beautiful gesture from the
    Messenger of Allah in consideration to women’s hectic circumstances at
    home.

    It was keeping women’s safety in mind.

    However, women were given a privilege many men wish they had, which is to get the reward for praying at the masjid while still doing it at home. The Messenger of Allah said, “A woman’s ṣalāt at home is better for her than at the masjid.” Reported by Aḥmad, Abu Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhi.

    Better for her, not better than men’s.

  15. Avatar

    Tiger

    July 27, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    know how much pain it causes you to stay behind at home, taking care of your children while everybody else is enjoying their ṣalāt and tarāwīḥ at the masjid.

    How about, I know how much fun you have playing with your children while men have to go to the masjid on empty stomachs, and pray taraweeh till their legs hurt.

    The whole article is nonsensical, aimed at pleasing women.

    • Avatar

      Hassen Morad

      July 27, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      masha’Allah ya Shaykh Tiger, what beautiful akhlaaq!

    • Avatar

      Maheen

      July 27, 2012 at 11:37 PM

      When reading this garbage folks, please remember to say, “I am fasting, I am fasting.”

      • Avatar

        Maheen

        July 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM

        the garbage is not the article but Tiger’s comment, just to clarify.

        • Avatar

          asima

          July 31, 2012 at 4:51 AM

          Jazakallah for the article…the article makes it v.v.clear about the different aspects and rulings on women praying at home…and indeed the article might be a relaxing one to many like me…often in masjids i have seen women praying very distracted with the kids around and at the same time it distracts the others who have come only to pray…so what i advice those who go to masjid is keep in mind to points..”the lady shud be ale to concentrate in her prayers with the kid with her at the mosque, and at the same time she should not create a nuisance for the others who have come only to pray.’ Otherwise its advisable for her to pray at home after she is done with all household priorities, feed kids and let them their way and then pray woth full khushooh which is more important than the place u pray…

          • Avatar

            Amal Barbari

            August 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM

            Mashaallah, may Allah swt truly reward the author of this piece. It speaks volumes to someone like myself choosing for the first time in my life to stay home during ramadhan as I have 5 small children; and although I know I can go if I want to, I wouldn’t be able to focus fully worrying their whereabouts.
            Further, this is not an ode to moms who don’t work. The author is shedding some light on the misconceptions about those moms who choose to stay at home during ramadhan.

    • Avatar

      Shom

      July 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      To tiger
      Are u out of your mind?

  16. Avatar

    TARANNUM

    July 27, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    ASA,
    This was much needed. The acnowledgement that we work hard is very important. May Allah protect you and your family always. Its definately a 5 star
    JAK

  17. Avatar

    UmMuhammad

    July 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Jazak Allaahu khairun for your advice and touching on this imp topic

  18. Avatar

    bariah

    July 28, 2012 at 5:46 AM

    I just want to say one more thing, that this article’s tone is a wonderful reminder about how women should be addressed and instructed. If you say the same things to a woman with a harsh or commanding tone, she is going to hate on you. There is so much wisdom in the sunnah and I am so glad Sheikh Birjas is addressing the ladies in this way, which is probably why I have recieved this article in so many emails, over the last 24 hours :D

  19. Avatar

    Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

    July 28, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Here is my position. I do not agree with the author when he says that women are told to pray at home because of their hectic schedule. Two reasons why.

    1. Men’s schedule can be and often is more hectic.

    2. It is keeping women’s safety in mind.

    Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW)
    said, “Do not prevent your women from attending the masjid, even though
    their houses are better for them” [Sunan Abu Dawood]

    HOWEVER

    Hazrat Aisha (RA) has been reported to have said, “If the Messenger of
    Allah (SAW) was alive to see what women are doing now, he would surely
    have prevented them from entering the masjid
    for prayer just as women of
    Banu Israel were prevented” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

    “It is disliked for women to attend congregational
    prayers in the masjid even for Eid and Juma prayers, and even for old
    women attending night prayers, according to the more reliable position
    in Hanafi School, due to the corruption of time.” [Imam al-Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 1/566]

    When even during the time of the Prophet (PBUH) there was corruption, then what about now.

    I am sorry but the author has got the base wrong.

    • Avatar

      Judiyy

      July 28, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      Corruption? Women in the west don’t have outlets like they do in Muslim countries, as he said. Men do not have schedules that are any more hectic, allow. Gender does not define your daily schedule. Most men can’t even watch kids for 5 minutes let alone a whole day. Your claim doesn’t make sense, as he explained all your refutations in his article already. I live far away from a Masjid and I know every-time I go to the Masjid it’s a huge Imaan boost, since my family is non Muslim, and I’m not really around the Muslim community too often. And yes, it’s hectic for women to try to attend the Masjid all the time as he said, because she may cook, clean, (not because she has to, this isn’t required upon women) take care of kids, her husband etc. etc. etc.

    • Avatar

      Judiyy

      July 28, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      You are basically saying women don’t work as hard as men, I’m sure many would disagree.

      • Avatar

        Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

        July 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        And where did I talk about work?

        • Avatar

          Judiyy

          July 28, 2012 at 7:06 PM

          By saying women’s schedules aren’t as hectic.

          • Avatar

            Aiiiiiiiiiiii

            July 30, 2012 at 2:13 PM

            The author sounds like men don’t work hard. That is all. Sorry about the confusion.

            Best Regards.

    • Avatar

      Nuraini

      August 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      If men’s schedules are more hectic it is immaterial – unless the man is a stay at home husband.

      The things in typical men’s schedules that occupy their time do not tie them to the home – the women’s often do. How else are you going to deal with the household and child matters, if not actually in the house? That’s the issue that was recognised and addressed as described in the article. It is not just the time issue, but the location – and thus ability to be mobile – where you are bound to in the course of doing your duties.

    • Avatar

      UmmIbraheem

      August 6, 2012 at 12:03 AM

      We should have better akhlaaq than this when disagreeing with the leaders of our community and other Muslims, sister. It is not just some random-internet author who wrote the article, but a learned shaykh/imam.
      Also, it would seem that you were arguing about something you agree with the author on :)
      wAllahu ‘Alam if you are a mother/father or not, but as a mother of three kids (about to have four) I was offended by you saying that women don’t have a hectic schedule (sorry if I misunderstood). It varies from household to household, but mothers — not matter where they live or if they have help — work 24/7. They even work at night when they have to wake up with their children :)

  20. Avatar

    Reina

    July 28, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Jazaak Allaahu khayran, Wonderful and helpful article.

  21. Avatar

    Perspective

    July 29, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    I don’t see any need for the title of this article to specifically reference “stay-at-home” moms rather than simply ALL moms. The author may be shocked to hear this – but working mothers face the exact same situations in terms of taraweeh/periods/praying at home etc (gasp!). The use of semantics like this to push specific agendas regarding women needs to stop.

    • Avatar

      Dr/mom

      July 29, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      I believe the dear sheikh was referring to moms who stay home during Ramadan’s taraweeh prayers and jummah. I don’t believe he was pushing any agenda. Sounded like a playful spin on the term stay at home in order to shed light on the issue of women staying at home for prayers.

      • Avatar

        Perspective

        July 29, 2012 at 7:48 PM

        Thank you for the clarification. If it truly is a playful spin on the term, than that’s all fine. Although I still find it hard to believe that there’s absolutely no alternate agenda. I make this comment only after reading another article on MM by the sheikh advising young women to significantly downplay their academic accomplishments and professional goals in order to get married, because men want a “traditional” wife. The article essentially told women to present themselves as appealing homemakers rather than educated and accomplished individuals. The article could very well have encouraged men to not be intimated by educated women, explaining that employment and family are no longer mutually exclusive for women. However it took a completely different route. After reading it, I can’t help but see remnants of that attitude in this article as well.

        • Avatar

          Layla

          July 31, 2012 at 5:42 AM

          I absolutely agree, no doubt the role of the mother is very important, that does not mean we undermine every woman who has great academic potential and can balance the two spheres in her life. Sadly, in our Muslim community today the constricting attitude is the most common one.

          • Avatar

            saud

            August 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

            At the risk of oversimplifying this issue, the general principle in this life is you cannot have your cake and eat it. If a woman chooses to leave her children to the care of others, be it her parents or a creche, the children will lose something in their development. There are no two ways about it. This life is about sacrifice. Looking after kids 24/7 is difficult.. who said it wasn’t. I’m sure it can get tedious as well… but hey, why do you think the child loves the mother three times before the Dad?

    • Avatar

      Hira

      July 30, 2012 at 11:56 PM

      I thought the same thing! Find me a nanny watch my kids at 12 am!the term SAHM is thr too often! Dnt get it.

  22. Avatar

    Umm Ibraheem

    July 29, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    We have to also consider if it’s safe for a woman to go to Taraweeh prayers without a male accompanying her. Here in Uk, prayers finish past midnight and I forgone wouldn’t want to get in the car alone and drive at that time. So the idea of husband and wife taking turns going for taraweeh may be impractical.

    • Avatar

      Umm Ibraheem

      July 29, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      for one

    • Avatar

      Perspective

      July 31, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      In most developed parts of the world (UK included), its perfectly safe for a woman to drive herself from point A to point B, even at midnight. In fact, women do it literally all the time. Unfortunately for many Muslim women, this level of mobility has never been experienced, and is therefore often unnecessarily feared. As women, we shouldn’t limit ourselves so easily…I’m sure you’ll find that others impose enough limitations as is. Just something to keep in mind before automatically rejecting the suggestion of taking turns with your husband for taraweeh.

    • Avatar

      Faith Barrow-Waheed

      August 3, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      I live in the US and have lived in some pretty dangerous neighborhoods. Travelling alone at night was never an issue. I made sure I was always aware of my surroundings, never carried things like purses at night, never walked down poorly lit streets at night by myself. Of course, these tips (with the exception of the purse one), also apply to men who travel at night. I’ve actually caught mass transit in a big city by myself at night and been just fine. Driving, as Perspective mentioned, makes things even safer. I’ve driven at night by myself and been just fine. We really shouldn’t restrict ourselves with these barriers. What about sisters who aren’t married and live alone? Should they never attend Taraweeh prayers because they don’t have a brother to travel with them?

  23. Avatar

    Hira

    July 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Why did u call the article “stay at home mom” ..when I ws SAHM I cod atleast sleep aft taraweeh. I work n I have two kids…u cod have jus said moms..

  24. Avatar

    ummmanar

    July 30, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    as slam alikum
    Jazakallhu kiran shiek yesser for the wonerful post

  25. Avatar

    Haseeb Hamid

    July 31, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    JazakAllahu khair for the beautiful post.

  26. Avatar

    um talhah

    August 1, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    as salam alaikum,
    a very beautifully written, heart-felt and heart-touching article. and ma sha Allah the article tackles the topic from every angle.
    barikAllahu feek.
    may Allah reward the shaikh, (his wife with their 3 kids :)), the entire mm team and whoever else was involved in bringing this beneficial piece to us.

  27. Avatar

    Suzanne

    August 1, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Beautifully written article full of information and inspiration. Jezaak allahu Khairun

  28. Avatar

    sykha

    August 1, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Very inspiring and touching. God bless… Jzk

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    Umm Esa

    August 6, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    JazakAllahu khayran Shaykh Yaser Birjas for your words. It is very encouraging to hear this coming out of an imam/leader. May Allah increase you in knowledge and patience, and allow you to guide the ummah to the best ways, pleasing to Allah and His messenger (peace be upon him).

  33. Avatar

    Umm Esa

    August 6, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    When you are a stay at home mom, you are expected to watch your kids 24/7. It becomes extremely troubling and burdensome. This article provides fresh breeze to disheartened mothers.

    If you are a working mother, then hopefully, you and your husband have already chosen an egalitarian lifestyle; therefore, duties at home, and caretaking of kids have been divided evenly. You can take turns. There is no need to worry about this article. Just take it as a grain of salt.

    As for single parents, whether father or mother, there needs to be a different article written on taking care of the needs.

  34. Avatar

    Aliya

    August 7, 2012 at 5:24 AM

    I knew from the first paragraph this was written by a man. Putting the woman who conform to the traditional patriarchy on a pedestal and explaining her why she should be pleased with her position is an old tactic. “Mmmm… you need to be glued to your children 24/7 so if you can’t solve this little problem just stay at home. But hey, don’t be sad – I salute you!”.

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    Ejaz Naqvi, MD

    August 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    I truly think the code of conduct expected of a Muslim woman is misunderstood. If all would read the Quran in its original language, I think it would help.

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    UmmZenab

    August 24, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    Asalamualaikum.

    Very nice article. I really benefited from it. JazakAllaah br. Yasir Birjas.

    I use to feel left out a great deal when my daughter was born. i couldn’t listen to lectures or read the books of tafseer as i used to before she as born or even pray with the same amount of effort as I could before. Normally by salah time I’d be tired and not able to pray as long as I wanted. but as time went by I alhumdulillah, realized that bieng a mom is a great blessing and I don’t think I’d want to trade it for anything in the world. Allaah has blessed me and others like me with kids and made us mothers and that is a responsiblity on us by Allaah. we will be answereable to Allaah for our roles as mothers on the day of Judgement without a doubt so if I have to make a choice between something that I’m held accountable for and doing something that’s optional such as praying taraweeh in the masjid I think preference should be given to my main job shouldn’t it? Of course if I was ever able to go to the masjid without comprimising my main job and duty i’d love to go. infact i’d take my baby along with me so she can get the feel for the masjid enviornment as well. But I don’t feel left out anymore at all.

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#Islam

Lesson 11 From Surah Al-Kahf

Tafsir Verses 72-81

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah last session we were able to explore the meanings and lessons of verses 60-70. InshAllah, we’ll try our best to cover the meanings of verse 71-82. As we learned in the last session, this passage of the Surah deals with a very unique and interesting episode from the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). It’s the story of his encounter and journey with a man of God known as Khidr or Khadir. We reached the point in the story where Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) finally finds Khidr and asks with the utmost humility and respect to allow him to be his student. This highlights Musa’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) sincerity in seeking knowledge, his lack of pride and his willingness to humble himself in front of Khidr despite his own status as a Prophet.

But Khidr initially declined his request telling him, “Truly you will not be able to bear patiently with me. And how can you be patient with that which you have no knowledge?” Khidr recognized that he would do things that Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) would find to be illogical, irrational and even impermissible. Things that on the surface level seem to be horrible and despicable. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent as a Prophet of Divine Law, while Khidr had been entrusted with some unique knowledge and actions that seemed to be contradictory to that law. So he explained to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that he wouldn’t be able to be patient with him and his actions. But Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was extremely eager to learn. He resolved to be patient and obedient while relying upon the will of Allah ﷻ.

He tells Khidr, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey you in any matter.” Khidr finally gave in and both of them set off on their way. This is where we’ll pick up the story again. Allah ﷻ says,

Verse 71: So they both went on till, when they had embarked upon a ship, he made a hole in it. He said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.”

They set out walking together along the shore looking for a ship to ride. As they were walking a ship of sailors passed by them and Khidr asked for a ride. The sailors knew Khidr so they let both him and Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) come on board without any charge. After traveling for a while Khidr got up and pulled out one of the planks from the bottom of the ship using an ax making a hole in it. This placed everyone on the ship in danger of drowning. Obviously, this seemingly absurd and cruel behavior surprised Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). He was literally in shock. He couldn’t understand why Khidr would do such a thing to someone who helped him out. This went against his moral compass of what’s right and wrong. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) forgot about the conditions of his teacher and objected. These people gave us a free ride and you’re pulling a plank to drown their ship. You’ve done something bad. “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.” Khidr then reminded him gently with patience.

Verse 72: He said, “Did I not say that you can never bear with me patiently?”

Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to be patient with me and my actions? The way he says this shows that he was willing to overlook and tolerate Musa’s (as) impatience. Musa (as) felt a sense of regret and apologized to Khidr telling him that he completely forgot about his deal.

Verse 73: He (Musa) said, “Do not hold me responsible for what I forgot, and do not make my course too difficult for me.”

Basically he apologized. He said please don’t hold me responsible for what I forgot and allow me to continue travelling in your company. While telling the story the Prophet ﷺ says, “the first (question) was out of forgetfulness. While this conversation was taking place a bird came and sat on the side of the boat and took a sip of water from the ocean. Khidr said to Musa, ‘my knowledge and yours combined in comparison to the knowledge of Allah is like the sip of water compared to the ocean.’” Khidr accepting his apology and they continued travelling on their way.

Verse 74: So, they moved ahead until when they met a boy, he killed him (the boy). He (Musa) said, “Did you kill an innocent soul while he did not kill anyone? You have committed a heinous act indeed.”

“So they continued…” They both got off the ship and started walking along the shore until they came across a young boy playing with his friends. Khidr went up to this young boy and killed him by either strangling him to death or striking him on his head. This was too much for Musa (as) to handle. He objected even more vehemently. How can he kill an innocent young boy for no reason whatsoever? To Musa (as) this seemed absolutely absurd, cruel and unjustified. It was too much for him to tolerate patiently despite his promise not to question anything that he saw. So he said, How can you kill a pure innocent child for no reason whatsoever? You have done something unjustified and have committed a heinous act. Once again Khidr reminds him of the condition that he made and the promise that Musa (as) had given.

Verse 75: He said, “Did I not tell you that you can never bear with me patiently?”

Didn’t I warn you that you wouldn’t be able to handle what I would do? Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to remain silent when I do certain things? In this reminder, Khidr added the word “laka” to show that this time his reminder is more severe and clearer. The first time someone forgets and makes a mistake it’s overlooked. The second time it’s also overlooked but with a sense of hesitation. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) again feels a sense of regret for breaking his word and not sticking to the conditions of Khidr. He’s now done this twice so he apologizes by saying,

Verse 76: He said, “If I ask you about something after this, do not keep me in your company. You have had enough excuses from me.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)(as) again apologizes but this time gives himself one last chance. He said if he questions Khidr one more time then Khidr can choose to part ways with him. Once again Khidr accepts his apology and they set off on their way. After commenting on this part ibn Kathīr narrates a hadīth from the Prophet ﷺ. He writes, “Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn `Abbas that Ubayy bin Ka`b said: “Whenever the Prophet ﷺ mentioned anyone, he would pray for himself first. One day he said:

  • «رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى مُوسَى لَوْ لَبِثَ مَعَ صَاحِبِهِ لَأَبْصَرَ الْعَجَبَ، وَلَكِنَّهُ قَالَ:
  • ﴿إِن سَأَلْتُكَ عَن شَىْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلاَ تُصَاحِبْنِى قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذْراً﴾»

May the mercy of Allah be upon us and upon Musa. If he had stayed with his companion he would have seen wonders, but he said, (`If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.’))” That brings us to the third and last adventure they had together.

Verse 77: Then, they moved on until they came to the people of a town and sought food from them. But they refused to show them any hospitality. Then, they found there a wall that was about to fall down. So he (Khidr) set it right. He (Musa) said, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Khidr continued traveling until they came upon the people of a town that most commentators identify as the ancient city of Antioch. Being tired and hungry they asked them for some food but they refused to give them any or show them any hospitality whatsoever. As they were leaving the city they came across a wall that was about to fall down. Khidr stopped by it and repaired it. Now, this situation is also bizarre; Khidr is a complete stranger in a town that refused to give them food or host them yet he still stops and fixes their wall for nothing in return. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) finds the situation full of irony. Why should a stranger exert so much effort in rebuilding a wall in a town where they were denied even a little food and all hospitality? He should have at least demanded some money for his labor and then they could have bought some food to eat.

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) couldn’t hold himself so he objected, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.” And that was the end of their relationship. Khidr responded,

Verse 78: He said, “This is the parting between me and you. I shall inform you of the meaning of that which you were unable to bear with patiently.”

Meaning, this is the end of our relationship and this is where we’ll part ways. But before we go our separate ways I’ll explain to you the wisdom and hidden meaning behind everything I did. Up till this point in the story, we’ve probably been just as impatient as Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him); we have no clue why Khidr did the things he did. But he then explains everything is detail; why he pulled a plank out of the bottom the ship, why he killed an innocent child and why he rebuilt the wall without taking anything in return.

Verse 79: As for the ship, it belonged to some poor people who worked at sea. I wanted to damage it, for just beyond them was a king who was seizing every ship by force.

Khidr is explained that his act of damaging the ship was, in reality, a means of saving it. It comes in a narration that these poor people were ten brothers, 5 of them were handicapped while the other five worked. The ship was their only source of income. The king was a cruel, tyrannical oppressor who would take ships by force. The damage done to the ship made it undesirable for the king and ultimately saved it for its owners. Had it been seaworthy, it would certainly have been confiscated by the tyrannical king. Perpetrating some small damage to the boat saved it from the greater harm and ruinous injustice which was certain to take place without it. Hence, causing such damage was a good and kindly action. So damaging the ship actually turned out to be a good thing.

Verses 80-81: And as for the young boy, his parents were believers and we feared that he would make them suffer much through rebellion and disbelief. So we desired that their Lord give them in exchange one who is better than him in purity, and nearer to mercy.

Although the young child seemed to be pure and innocent in reality the seeds of disbelief and wickedness were entrenched in his heart. If he had grown up he would have been a source of grief and sorrow for his parents who were believers. Their love for this child would have led them towards evil and wickedness as well. They would suffer because of the rebellion and disbelief. So Allah told Khidr to kill this boy to spare them that grief and to replace him with a child that would be better and more dutiful. Now obviously the parents weren’t aware of this at this time so to them this was a huge loss and tragedy. They weren’t aware of the future difficulties that they were saved from by his death.

Qatādah said, “His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.” That’s why in connection to these verses ibn Kathīr رحمهم الله quotes the hadīth, “Allah does not decree anything for a believer, save that it is better for him.”

  • «لَا يَقْضِي اللهُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنْ قَضَاءٍ إِلَّا كَانَ خَيْرًا لَه»

It is mentioned in a narration that the parents were blessed with a pious daughter who gave birth to a Prophet. So the murder of this child actually turned out to be something good in the long run.

Verse 82: And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and beneath it was a treasure belonging to them. Their father was righteous, and your Lord desired that they should reach their maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I didn’t do this upon my own command. This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.

Khidr explained to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that the wall that was about to fall that he rebuilt was covering a treasure that belonged to two orphan boys. If the wall had fallen down the treasure would be exposed and the orphan children would’ve been deprived of their wealth. By rebuilding the wall Khidr made it possible for them to access their treasure when they grew up. This was done partially because their father was a righteous and pious man. Khidr then explains to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that he didn’t do any of these things based on his own accord or understanding. Rather he did them according to the Divine command, decree, and will of Allah ﷻ. “And I didn’t do this upon my own command.” He concludes by saying, “This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.” Meaning, this is the explanation of my actions that you didn’t understand and weren’t able to be patient with.

Lessons:

1) One of the most powerful and profound lessons we learn from this entire episode is that oftentimes a tragedy is a blessing in disguise. Everything that happens in this world, whether good or bad, happens according to the Divine will and decree of Allah ﷻ. There’s some deep divine wisdom behind every single thing that happens in this world. When something good happens we recognize it as a blessing. For example, if we get a good job, get a raise at work, purchase a new car or are blessed with the birth of a child. All of recognize this as something positive. On the other hand whenever we face setbacks, difficulties, hardships and tragedies we tend to lose patience.

This incident is teaching us that difficulties, tests, trials, and hardships are oftentimes blessing in disguise. The first thing to understand is that Allah isn’t sending these difficulties our way to break us or destroy us. Rather he’s sending them our way to test our patience and faith, as a source of mercy and a reminder. As a way of nurturing and training us. He’s reminding us to turn back to Him, to hold on to our faith, to be steadfast, patient, strong, and to persevere. When we’re struggling and going through difficult times we shouldn’t assume that somehow Allah is displeased with us. Similarly, when we’re comfortable and enjoying life we shouldn’t assume that Allah is pleased with us. The opposite can be true. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

  • « إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الْخَيْرَ عَجَّلَ لَهُالْعُقُوبَةَ فِى الدُّنْيَا وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الشَّرَّأَمْسَكَ عَنْهُ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُوَفَّى بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

“If Allah wants good for his servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection.”

Everything we face in this world is actually a source of blessing for us. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

  • «مَا يُصِيبُ المُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ،وَلاَ وَصَبٍ، وَلاَ هَمِّ، وَلاَ حُزْنٍ، وَلاَ أَذًى، وَلاَ غَمِّ، حَتَّىالشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا؛ إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ الله بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ»

“No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.”

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that the main tool, the key to deal with the world and all the problems it contains is through patience and turning towards Him. When we’re dealing with our problems we should turn to Allah. We should make dhikr, read Quran, spend time in prayer and reflection and try to be around good company. We should try to focus our attention, our spiritual and emotional energy on our relationship with Allah instead of our problem. By doing so we’ll find peace and comfort. True contentment. Part of patience is recognizing that whatever we’re going through is something that we can handle. Whatever we’re going through will not last forever. That’s why throughout the Quran whenever Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) consoles and comforts the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) He reminds him to be patient and to turn to him. “So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord.” (20:130) “So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth.” (30:60) “So be patient, [O Muhammad], over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting.” (50:39)

2) Being content with the Divine decree of Allah ﷻ.

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#Life

Why I Turned to Tech to Catch Laylatul Qadr

Make sure you maximize your sadaqah

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By Ismael Abdela

My life, just like yours, is sooo busy. So naturally, as the tech nerd I am, I turn to tech to help me manage my regular routine including project management apps to manage my daily tasks. I even have a sleeping app that wakes me up at the optimum time (whatever that means!). But even though tech has changed everything in all sectors and helped make efficiencies in my daily life, it had had little impact on my religious activities.

A few years ago, whilst I was preparing for the last 10 nights of Ramadan, it hit me – why doesn’t something exist that automates my donations during these blessed nights to catch Laylatul Qadr. Rather than putting a reminder on my phone to bring out my bank card every night and inputting it into a website – why doesn’t something exist that does it for me, solving the problem of me forgetting to donate. After all we are human and it’s interesting that the Arabic word for human being is ‘insan’ which is derived from the word ‘nasiya’ which means ‘to forget.’ It is human nature to forget.

So the techie in me came out and I built the first scrappy version of MyTenNights, a platform to automate donations in the last 10 nights of Ramadan (took two weeks) because I wanted to use it myself! I thought it would be cool and my friends and family could use it too. That same year, nearly 2000 other people used it – servers crashed, tech broke and I had to get all my friends and Oreo (my cat) to respond to email complaints about our temperamental site!

I quickly realised I wasn’t alone in my need  – everyone wanted a way to never miss Laylatul Qadr! Two years down the line we’ve called it MyTenNights, and our team has grown to 10, including Oreo, senior developers, QA specialists, brand strategists, creative directors and more. It fast became a fierce operation – an operation to help people all over the world catch Laylatul Qadr!

Last year alone we raised almost $2 million in just 10 days – and that was just in the UK. We’ve now opened MyTenNights to our American, Canadian. South African and Australian brothers and sisters and we’re so excited to see how they use it! We’ve made it available through all the biggest house name charities – Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Helping Hand, Penny Appeal, you name it! All donations go directly to the charity donors choose – all 100% of it.

Looking back at the last couple of years – it feels surreal: The biggest charities in the world and tens of thousands of users who share my need to be certain they’ve caught Laylatul Qadr. Although I hear many impressed with the sheer amount MyTenNights has raised for charity (and that excites me too!), it’s not what motives me to go on. What excites me most is the growing number of people who catch Laylatul Qadr because we made it easier.

I often tell my team that the number of people that use MyTenNights is the only metric we care about, and the only metric we celebrate. It makes no difference to us whether you donate $1 or a million – we just want you to catch Laylatul Qadr and for you to transform your Akhirah, because (after Allah) we helped you do it.

To catch Laylatul Qadr with MyTenNights, visit their website MyTenNights.com

Ismael Abdela is a Law & Anthropology graduate from the London School of Economics. He spent some years studying Islamic Sciences in Qaseem, Saudi Arabia. He is now a keen social entrepreneur. Ismael likes to write about spiritual reflections, social commentary, and tafsīr. He is particularly interested in putting religion in conversation with the social sciences.

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#Islam

Lesson 10 From Surah Al-Kahf

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah last week we were able to explore the meanings of verses 54-59. InshAllah tonight we’ll explore the meanings and lessons of verses 60-70. In this set of verses, Allah ﷻ relates a very unique and interesting story about Musa (as) and his encounter and journey with a man of God known as Khidr or Khadir. Interestingly this story is not told or hinted at anywhere else in the Qur’ān. Similarly this is the only account of Musa (as) in the Qur’ān that doesn’t also have some reference in the Biblical text. This is the third story mentioned in the Surah after the story of the people of the cave and the owner of the two gardens.

Now the Surah itself relates a few events from this story but doesn’t provide all the fine details. For example, it doesn’t mention exactly where this story took place. Nor does it tell us when exactly it took place. So we don’t know if it took place when Musa (as) was still in Egypt, or after he escaped from Fir’awn and his army or even later on. The Qur’ānic narrative also doesn’t mention the name of the individual who Musa (as) sent out to meet. It doesn’t mention who he was, where he was from and whether he was a prophet, scholar or an ascetic. Allah ﷻ simply describes him as “a servant from amongst Our servants”.

One of the reasons why all of these details are left out is because they’re not that important. They actually take away from the main purpose, objective and lessons of the story. We’re supposed to focus on what lessons, morals, and guidance we can derive from these incidents and not worry about the minute detail. However, a more detailed version of this story is found in a hadith recorded in both Sahih Bukhari and Muslim narrated by Ubay ibn Ka’b raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).

Ubay ibn Ka’b raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was making a speech to the Children of Israel when he was asked which person had been endowed with the most knowledge. Meaning he was asked, “Who is the most knowledgeable person?” Since Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) wasn’t aware of anyone who was more knowledgeable than him he said, ‘I am’. Even though he was right, Allah ﷻ didn’t like his answer. The situation demanded that he say Allah knows best. Allah ﷻ has a unique way of teaching and training those close to Him. That is why Allah ﷻ gently reprimanded him for his answer and revealed to him that there is a servant of his at the meeting point of the two seas (the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea) who is more knowledgeable than him. This doesn’t mean that Khidr had a higher station than Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). What it means is that he had a special field of knowledge given to him that Musa didn’t have.

Musa had an intense desire to seek knowledge. So he asked Allah ﷻ, ‘How can I find him?’ Allah ﷻ told him to cook a fish, place it in a basket and head towards the meeting point of the two seas. The place where you lose fish is the place where you will find Khidr. So Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) set out with his servant/student Yusha’ ibn Nun, who in English is Joshua. This is where Allah ﷻ starts the story in the Quran.

Verse 60: And when Musa said to his servant, “I shall continue on till I reach the junction of the two seas, even if I journey for a long time.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was instructed by Allah to travel to the meeting point or junction of the two seas and that is where he will find Khidr, the one who is more knowledgeable than him. So Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in his determination said that he will continue traveling till he reaches this junction even if it takes him a long time. There’s a lot of discussion amongst the commentators regarding the exact location of the junction of the two seas. Some mention it’s referring to the point where the fresh water of rivers meets the salt water of the seas. Others mention that it’s the meeting point between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The actual geographical location is ultimately immaterial to the story; it doesn’t really matter. The narration mentions that they continued to travel until they reached a large rock where they decided to rest for a while. Both of them fell asleep. As they were sleeping, all of a sudden, the fish moved, fell out of the basket and into the ocean. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) stopped the flow of water around the fish forming a tunnel around it allowing it to swim.

Verse 61: Then when they reached the junction of the two, they forgot their fish, and it made its way to the sea, burrowing away.

Yushā’ witnessed this extraordinary event. He saw the fish make its way into the sea and burrow away. Meaning, a tunnel was formed around it allowing it to swim away. When Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) woke up he forgot to tell him and they continued on their journey. They traveled for another day and night. After traveling for another day and night Musa finally felt hungry.

Verse 62: Then when they had passed beyond, he said to his servant, “Bring us our meal. We have certainly met with weariness on this journey of ours.”

They had passed the meeting point of the two seas, which is where they decided to rest and where the fish escaped from the basket. So when he finally felt hungry he asked Yushā’ to take out the fish that they had prepared to eat. In the narration, the Prophet ﷺ says, “Musa didn’t feel any fatigue until he passed the place Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)informed him of. When Musa asked for food that is when Yusha’ remembered what had happened to the fish.

Verse 63: He said, “Did you see? When we took refuge at the rock, indeed I forgot the fish – and nothing made me forget to mention it except Shaytān – and it made its way to the sea in a wondrous manner!”

He told Musa (as) that while they were resting at the rock the fish miraculously came back to life and made its way into the ocean. And that he completely forgot to tell him and that Shaytān made him forget. When Musa (as) heard this he remarked,

Verse 64: He said, “That is what we were seeking!” So they turned back, retracing their steps.

He immediately realized that the place where the fish was lost to the sea was exactly the place where he would meet the servant of Allah more knowledgeable than him. So they turned back retracing their steps back to that rock.

Verse 65: There they found a servant from among Our servants who We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Our presence.

When they returned to that rock they found a man lying there covered in a white sheet. Musa (as) greeted him with Salam startling Khidr who replied, “Where is this salam coming from in this land? Who are you?” He replied, “Musa.” Khidr asked, “Musa Bani Israel?” He answered, “Yes.” The servant from among our servants is identified by all commentators as Khidr or Al-Khadir, which is translated as the Green One. It’s mentioned that wherever he prayed or stood everything around him would become green. There’s a huge discussion regarding his status as well; was he a prophet, a messenger or simply a righteous servant of Allah? What we do know with absolutely certainty is exactly what the Qur’ān tells us. He was a righteous servant who was granted unique divine mercy and was given a special type of knowledge from Allah ﷻ. Some of the commentators mention that “rahmah” is referring to the fact that he was a wali; a very devout and close servant of Allah. The knowledge from Allah is knowledge from the unseen that he taught to Khidr. It’s an understanding of the divine wisdom and reason behind the occurrence of certain events.

Verse 66: Musa said to him, “May I follow you so that you can teach me some of that which you have been taught of sound judgment?”

Musa (as) asked him with the utmost respect and humility to allow him to be his student. This form of questioning, this request is full of humility. Musa made himself a follower of Khidr, asked for permission and admitted his ignorance regarding the knowledge that Khidr had. Khidr responded to his request as Allah ﷻ tells us,

Verses 67-68: He said, “Truly you will not be able to bear patiently with me. And how can you be patient with that which you have no knowledge?

Khidr recognized that he would do things that Musa (as) would find to be illogical, irrational and even impermissible. Things that on the surface level seem to be horrible and despicable. So he explained to Musa (as) that he wouldn’t be able to be patient with him and his actions. He explained to Musa (as), “O Musa! I have knowledge from Allah that you don’t have that he taught me. And you have some knowledge from Allah that he taught, which I don’t have.”

  • يا موسى، إني على علم من علم الله، لا تعلمه، علمنيه، و أنت على علم من علم الله علمكه، لا أعلمه.

But Musa (as) is extremely eager to learn. He resolves to be patient and obedient while relying upon the will of Allah ﷻ. He says,

Verse 69: He said, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey you in any matter.”

Meaning, don’t worry, you’ll find me to be patient, if Allah wills, and I won’t disobey you or challenge you in any matter. This convinced Khidr to allow Musa (as) to accompany him as his student but with certain conditions.

Verse 70: He said, “If you will follow me, then don’t question me about anything until I mention it to you.”

Meaning, he told Musa (as) that if you follow me then you’re not allowed to ask me about anything or challenge anything I do until I allow you to do so. Musa (as) accepted this condition and then they both set out together. Now up till this point in the story, there are several important lessons that we can learn and derive.

1) Intellectual humility – Our knowledge regarding a specific topic or subject, our understanding of a certain issue or our expertise in a certain field shouldn’t make us proud and arrogant. It shouldn’t make us think that we’re better than anyone else. Rather it should make us humble; it should create a sense of gratitude and humility. We should express gratitude to the One who gave us that knowledge and should recognize that there’s much more that we don’t know. And that’s the lesson that Allah ﷻ taught Musa (as). When he was asked who is the most knowledgeable individual, Musa (as) based on his own understanding and station as a Prophet assumed that he was. So Allah ﷻ gently reprimanded him for his answer and revealed to him that there is a servant of his at the meeting point of the two seas (the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea) who is more knowledgeable than him.

No matter how advanced we become as human beings, no matter how many discoveries we make and how many inventions we create, our knowledge is still limited; it’s nothing compared to the infinite knowledge of Allah ﷻ. As Allah ﷻ tells us in the Qur’ān, “Over every possessor of knowledge is one [more] knowing.” Similarly, in one of the narrations, Khidr tells Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), “My knowledge or your knowledge compared with the knowledge of Allah is nothing but the small amount of water the sparrow takes in its beak.” This is especially true for religious knowledge; the more we learn the more we should recognize that we don’t know. That’s why it’s important for us to not reject or disregard things that we don’t know or haven’t heard of. Just because we don’t know something, haven’t heard something or haven’t read something, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Also, learn how to say “I don’t know”. There’s a famous story of Imām Mālik …

2) The importance of seeking knowledge. Seeking knowledge is something that has to be done actively; it’s not a passive activity. knowledge isn’t something that’s going to come to us automatically. It’s something that requires us to put in work; it requires time, effort, wealth and sacrifice. And in order to seek knowledge, we’ll have to go through some difficulties. Seeking knowledge is a religious obligation upon us just like praying, fasting, paying zakah and performing Hajj. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” All the commentators agree that this is referring to knowledge of Allah; knowledge of the Qur’ān and Sunnah. That knowledge that brings us closer to Allah ﷻ. That’s why there are so many narrations from the Prophet ﷺ that encourage us to seek knowledge. Interestingly, this is the only story in the Qur’ān that talks about seeking knowledge and in it the student is required to go and look for the teacher. On a side, not the amount of knowledge we learn regarding our religion at homes or at Sunday schools is not enough. We need to have a systemized way of learning the fundamentals of our faith and religion and teaching it to our children.

3) Respecting the people of knowledge. This is another very important lesson we learn from this particular part of the story. Musa (as) is a Prophet, he’s kalīm Allah, the one who spoke directly with Allah ﷻ, yet he still treated Khidr with the utmost honor and respect. Knowledge itself has a very special status in Islam and because of its status, those who seek it and possess it have also been granted a special status. As the Prophet ﷺ told us, “The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets.” Humility is an essential characteristic that we as students must have to truly benefit from our teachers. In the hadith of the Messenger of God ﷺ, when the angel Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) came to ask the Prophet ﷺ about Islam, Imān, and Iḥsān, he is described as having, “put his knees against the knees [of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)] and placed his hands on his thighs.”[2] When the Companions used to sit with the Messenger of God ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), they did not use to raise their heads up to him out of their reverence for him. It is reported on the authority of Anas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), “If the Messenger of God ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to enter the mosque, none of us used to raise our heads except Abū Bakr and ʽUmar. They used to smile at him and he used to smile at them.”[3] It is also reported on the authority of ʽUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit that the Messenger of God ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said regarding respecting scholars and honoring them, “He is not from my community who does not venerate our elders, have mercy on our youth, and know the rights of our scholars.”[4]

Disrespect of scholars and people of knowledge is actually a problem within our communities and has been for some time. People of the past used to say that the flesh of scholars is poisonous and the way of Allah with those who insult them is well-known. So whoever insults the scholar of this ummah by his tongue Allah will afflict him in this world by death of the heart. There are many other beneficial lessons that we can derive from this story that we’ll talk about next session after we complete the story itself.

4) Studying is an act of worship but it’s not the goal in and of itself. The goal is to attain guidance.

 

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