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22 Study Skills from the Quran




By A. Syed

**Editor’s Note: Many of the ayahs referenced by number below are partial ayahs.

Imam Suyuti defines a verse as “Kullu ayatin wafqatun li tadabur”—“every verse is a moment of reflection, a pause for contemplation.”[1]

Qur’an is relevant today, just as it was almost 2 millennia ago. We need to learn to use it, and make it our friend throughout all stages of life, all circumstances and all experiences. Including in our student-life. Here are 22 lessons of guidance from the Qur’an for students till the end of time:

  1. Gratitude

The first bridge connecting humanity with the divine, through His own sacred words is gratitude and appreciation.


[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds  (1:2)

The Qur’an begins with loving appreciation and gratitude to Allah in a verse that is both grammatically timeless and speaker-less. Reminding us that whether anyone thanks Him or not, all gratitude and appreciation belong to Him.

As students in the developed world, we’re some of the most collectively ungrateful creatures walking under the sun. While others would give up an arm just to hold a textbook in the other, we’re complaining about everything and anything. We need to remember that foremost, if Allah has given us the time, health, faculties of thought and opportunity to be in school—any school—it’s our job to show a bit of appreciation and gratitude.  As Allah says,


And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]….(14:7)

The more grateful we are for our professors, our classmates, the cafeteria food, the boring mandatory courses—the more Allah will bless our journey in ways we can’t imagine. Students in Gaza have missile holes where their blackboards are, STOP COMPLAINING — let’s be grateful for our professors, our education, our degree, our marks and our experience.

Pro tip: Say “Alḥamdulilāh” whenever you’re angry or upset at school related issues. Given how frustrating student life is, making “Alḥamdulilāh” a part of your daily vocabulary means a whole lot of blessings will be coming your way!

  1. Intention

Since time immemorial we’ve learned that the purpose of life is to worship:


And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (51:56)

Surprise of the century: This relates to everything in student life too. Every boring assignment, every 8:30 AM class with a less-than-articulate professor, every sleepless night—there’s a reason for the madness. As students, our habits define our experiences. Take a moment to step back and dream big. Why are you here? This is one question that won’t be asked in any multiple choice exam, but one that you should ask yourself often.

Islam encourages you to dream big. School tells you what the world can give you, Islam asks you what you can give to the world. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, as your rewards are based on the audacity, ambition and depth of your dreams.

Maybe you want to save the world, end poverty, protect the world from financial crisis—or maybe you just want a halal job, to settle down, raise a family and provide for your parents. Both are respectable and worthwhile intentions to make our student experience worship. Yes, even your Google search becomes worship with the right intention.

Islam literally means submission, and part of this submission means to acknowledge that your entire existence is ‘ibādah  — worship of Allah.


Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.” (6:162)

Pro Tip: Write down one simple goal (get a job, retire parents, raise a pious family), one medium-level goal (start a small business, build a masjid, lead local da’wah efforts), and one epic-level goal (start the next global corporation to empower world’s developing nation, build hospitals across war-torn lands, establish the state of Palestine through peaceful diplomacy and partnership, build networks of orphanages, etc.)

  1. Seek Knowledge

Allah Al-‘Aleem (All-Knowing) chose an unlettered man who grew up as an orphan, to receive the first revelation: “اقْرَأْ”, “Read!” (96:1). The first command by Allah to the last messenger of God, to the last era of humanity was “Read!” Talk about the start of a ‘knowledge-based’ era. This theme of “اقْرَأْ” was the foundation to the birth of our civilization, from the ascent of Islam to the rise of innovation in Islamic Andalus (Europe). Our rise and fall as a nation was correlated to our commitment to “اقْرَأْ.”

Just as when European aristocrats sent the best of their society to learn from Muslim academics in Andalus at a time when Europe was plunged in dark ages; when Muslim cities were geographies of learning and the pursuit of curiosity; the world sought knowledge through the vessel of Islamic scholarship, now, it’s our responsibility to continue this tradition of learning and curiosity as a continuation of the theme of  “اقْرَأْ.”

Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was commanded to say,


My Lord Increase me, and increase me in knowledge. (20:114)

Grammarians have noted that the actual du’a is a prayer not just for an increase in knowledge, but an increase in general. Suggesting that knowledge makes you a better human, a better father, a better husband, a better mother, a better individual in society.

Pro Tip: Paradigm shift—try to squeeze a lesson out of every lemon of a situation. Can’t understand your prof’s accent or teaching style in advanced chemistry? Well, you may not learn chemistry but at least you learned how to give effective presentations!

  1. Hard Work, Dedication, and Patience

We learn from Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) what it means to struggle and persevere for a mission. When you’re on a mission you hustle, you exert yourself, you put all that you have into reaching the finish line. One of the earliest revelations:


Spend the night awake in prayer, except for a little bit of sleep. (73:2)

Allah is teaching the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that when you have a purpose, you must be dedicated, sleeplessly striving for your vision. When you’re driven with intention, Allah tells us we don’t have time to sleep. You’re living to make your dreams a reality, while others are sleeping to glimpse at dreams during the night.

We also learn dedication from the story of Nuh 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him):


He said, “My Lord, indeed I invited my people [to truth] night and day.” (71:5)

When studying is worship, when you have a goal, when you have a mission—Islam teaches us through the stories of the Prophets that we must persevere and sleeplessly struggle for our dreams.

Pro Tip: Whatever your level of dedication, hustle to commitment: raise your bar higher. Ask, what can you do (or not do) to make yourself more successful? Maybe taking 45 minute showers isn’t that productive? Or maybe you can survive on 5-6 hours of sleep?

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  1. Avatar


    December 18, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Dear Author, There was a mix up about Quran 6 vs 162 quoted above, by giving the meaning and interpretation of Q. 6 VS 161 in place of Q. 6 VS 162. Please, recheck and correct. Jazak’Allahu khaeran for propagating and enlighten the Ummah through this medium.

  2. Avatar


    December 18, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Masha Allah! What a beautiful and beneficial article, brother! Jazakallhu Khayr!

  3. Avatar

    Tadar Wazir

    December 18, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    As-Salaam-u alaikum, May Allah reward you greatly for your efforts in trying to get us to READ in the name of our LORD Who created…; Ar-Rahman – The Merciful Benefactor; allam al-Qur’an – has taught (and is teaching) The Qur’an; khalaqa al-insaan – (by it) He has created humanity; allmahu-l bayaan – (by so doing) He has imparted (and is imparting) unto humanity articulate thought and speech .

    There is a mix up in your translation of 21:87. In the Arabiya it is spoken in the 2nd person; one person speaking with another. The Prophet Yunus (a.) speaking directly to Allah (h.) Your translation is in the 3rd person; one person speaking about another. In that case the Prophet Yunus (a.) would be telling at least one more person about Allah.

    Please correct it? And keep on keeping on.

    As-Salaam-u alaikum.

    • Avatar


      December 24, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      Walikum salaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, Jazakallah khayr for your message Tadar. That’s an interesting point, I absolutely agree that dua is a conversation and therefore between the speaker who asks (us) and the listener who answers/responds (Allah). So better translation than the one I used above should have “…no God but YOU” with the current placement of the word Allah maybe in brackets. I totally agree with you, if I understood you correctly.

  4. Avatar

    Umm Hanaa

    December 19, 2014 at 5:16 AM

    Masha Allah! May Allah bless you and increase you in ilm for this beneficial article..keep up the good work lil bro.

  5. Avatar


    December 20, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Assalamu’alikum brother,

    Very beneficial Alhamdulillah. JazakAllahu Khair!

  6. Avatar

    M. Mahmud

    December 21, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Wonderful article…..I will probably re-read it.

    One small thing:

    (In fact the word Insaan meaning “mankind,” is a hyperbolized form of ‘someone that forgets’ a lot)

    Does it not mean/translate to the man instead of mankind?

    • Avatar


      December 24, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      Jazakallah khayr for your comment, insaan is used for mankind as a whole in the Qur’an (as best to what I learned, wallahu alim). Man + Woman. It should be on the form “فعلان” which is one of the most exaggerated/hyperbolized forms. On a side note, I recommend listening to Ustadh Norman’s 30th juz tafseer if you haven’t already, it’s mind blowing :)

    • Avatar


      December 24, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      My apologies brother, I think I may have misunderstood your concern in the above reply! Ignore it! Yes you’re absolutely spot on brother. The translation is mankind. Sometimes going into the language and its literal roots could give depths of meaningful insight.

  7. Avatar


    December 23, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    JazakAllah khair for this post! it is really beneficial since i’m a college student!!


  9. Avatar

    saidat akanbi

    December 31, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    i have been blessed by reading this. may Allah bless you!

  10. Avatar

    Omar Sawo

    January 7, 2015 at 6:20 AM

    Alhamdulillah!,may Allah help us to be prosperous in life and to be dwellers of Janna,Paradise.Ameen!

  11. Avatar


    January 18, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    Jazak’ Allah Khaeer for this wonderful article. Benefited from this so much Allhamdulillah. If we have this kind of attitude in everything that we do or intent to do then In Shaa Allah, Allah Almighty will add Barakah in our work..

  12. Avatar

    mebruka Abdurahman

    May 6, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    I really enjoyed reading this article. JZK, for this amazing and helpful advice. It was the best 22 study skills i have ever read in my life, mainly because it was from the quran. I pray to Allah that he strengths you to attain his pleasure and grant you Firdose.

  13. Avatar


    August 2, 2016 at 2:43 AM

    wow…… i was so demoralised and finding no reason why I am studying. …. but this article give me dedication, hope, and purpose of my life. …. surely I will be reading it in my hard times again..

  14. Avatar


    September 2, 2016 at 11:42 AM

    May Allah bless u good article

    i was thinking when we mention the name of RasoolAllah peace be upon him we should add Rasool or Nabi out of respect as well no? may Allah bless you good article

  15. Avatar


    November 5, 2016 at 2:27 PM

    Assalamualaykum warahmatullahhi wabarakatuhu, Thank you so much for this article.
    May Allah bless all of us.

  16. Avatar

    Afra Asad

    November 17, 2016 at 1:00 AM

    Masha Allah this is the best inspiring article I’ve ever read.
    Jazakallahu khairto the Author

  17. Pingback: 22 Study Skills From The QURAN – allahouronlyhope

  18. Avatar


    December 20, 2016 at 6:49 AM

    Masha Allah. I really like this article.
    This article boosted up my motivation and
    beliefs in Allah.

    Thank you!

  19. Avatar

    saba mariam yasir

    January 1, 2017 at 5:04 AM

    allahu akbar!!
    what a beautiful article it is …right now i am so relieved by reading this article……..i was so much in tension that my exams are approaching and that its one of the biggest fight of my life and that i havent prepared a bit since the past 10 months .
    allhamdullillah i found this article and i have full faith in allah that he will give me the best.
    remember me in your duas……jazakallah khair.

  20. Avatar

    Da Fityah

    March 20, 2017 at 2:43 AM

    Assalam. Thank you very much for your sharing. Students must know this. May Allah bless you.

  21. Avatar


    April 3, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    Assalamun Alaikum , while i was searching to find how islamic scholars studied , the way of their lives i came across with this great article . Thank you so much for this .

    I will be glad if anyone can suggest me a resource where i can learn how they studied ..

  22. Avatar

    Yassine L

    September 2, 2017 at 8:06 AM

    Jazakuallah khayaran dear brother ! Very inspiring

  23. Avatar

    Ali Anzer

    February 7, 2018 at 5:48 AM

    Jzk Allah. So beneficial as i was about to start my University and still didn’t know why and what i need to do. Certainly have given me a motive now.

    May Allah give you its Ajar.

  24. Avatar

    H Z

    February 14, 2018 at 7:45 AM

    Assalamualaikum. The title mentions 22 skills but there are only 4 points described here.

  25. Avatar


    February 18, 2019 at 9:10 PM

    Assalamualaykum warahmatullahhi wabarakatuhu, just wanted to let you know that everything said on this website is beautiful. May Allah have mercy on you for spending your time to convey wonderful messages from the Qur’an. I really appreciate your effort into creating this website because it helped me A LOT. Mashallah, every word said made my heart melt due to its purity and truthfulness.

  26. Avatar


    April 9, 2019 at 11:00 AM

    Salam, why I only can read to number 4 of this article?

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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.




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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MuslimARC Releases Guide for White Muslims By White Muslims

Bill Chambers



“As people who are both white and Muslim, we straddle two identities -one privileged in society and the other, not. We experience Islamophobia to varying degrees, sometimes more overtly depending on how we physically present, and at the same time we have been socialized as white people in a society where white people hold more social power than People of Color (POC). The focus of the toolkit is to provide resources and information that will help guide us toward good practices and behaviours, and away from harmful ones, as we challenge racism within the Muslim community (ummah) and in society at large.” MuslimARC Guide

As part of our mission to provide education and resources to advance racial justice within the Muslim community, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is producing a series of community-specific guides to be a resource for those who want to engage in anti-racism work within the Muslim community.

The first in this series, the MuslimARC Guide for White Muslims, has been written specifically for white Muslims, by white Muslims under the guidance of the anti-racist principles of MuslimARC. It is a tool and resource for engaging in conversations about racism and provides guidance in how to truly be a good ally to Muslims of color in this anti-racism work.

The Guide was developed by two white Muslim members of MuslimARC, myself (Bill Chambers) and Lindsay Angelow. The experiences, approaches, recommendations, and resources are based upon our own experiences, those of other white Muslims we have encountered or spoken to, and research and analysis by others who have been cited in the Guide.

We cannot always be aware when we say or write something that reflects our own white privilege and need to be open to feedback from Muslims of color. In our own experience in developing this Guide, we worked to practice that approach when we received feedback from other MuslimARC members and incorporated their analysis to strengthen this work.

My own personal process of helping to develop this Guide made me aware of the many times I was in discussions with Muslims of color especially women, when I had to not only check my white privilege, but also the white male privilege that comes with it. It is difficult not to feel defensive when you realize you may have said too much and listened too little on a topic that is really not about you. As one behavior the Guide suggests we avoid, “Don’t assume what People of Color need and try to swoop in to deliver. Instead, ask what you can do.”

For the white Muslim audience of the Guide, in reading this you will automatically feel defensive either that others may do these things but not me or that none of this behavior is based on racism or white privilege. Our advice is to examine that defensiveness and take the opportunity not to act on it, but instead, consider some of the alternative approaches we recommend in the Guide. 

The Guide provides a review of our role in addressing racism in the ummah; description of some of the ways white Muslims perpetuate racism; and specifically, how to be actively anti-racist in our work. A list of educational resources is provided including available training; articles on white Muslims and allyship; and guides to anti-racist parenting. A last and very important part of the Guide is organizations like MuslimARC that you can be involved in to do this anti-racist work.

“People, We have created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another.” (49:13) One of our most important purposes is to really “get to know” the different races and groups Allah has put us in, all the time knowing we all come from the same source and will return together. If this Guide does anything, let it inspire self-knowledge about our white privilege as Muslims and help us to get to know how to be better allies to our brothers and sisters of color.

You can find the  #AntiRacismGuide for White Muslims at

Further reading:

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

Beyond Muslim Diversity to Racial Equity

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Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Mona Islam



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

Salma and Yousef: 

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

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

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


Sarah and Hasan:

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

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

Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding:

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


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

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

Hamza and Tamika

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

The Family Unit in Islam

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

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


Layla and Ibrahim   

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

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

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


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

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

Family Roles:

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

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

Razan and Farhaan

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

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

Mawaddah and Rahma

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

Aliyaah and Irwan

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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