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The Ultimate Muslim Men’s Guide to Grooming

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Every time I solicit khutbah topic ideas from people, someone inevitably suggests istinjā (how to clean yourself after using the restroom). Although not the typical heart-stirring, faith-boosting, spiritually-uplifting, ready-to-change-the-world type of topic – it is a pressing need. It seems many people weren’t taught simple common sense. Beyond that, there are some unique challenges Muslim men face. For example, what kind of hair product will keep you looking sharp— but is able to survive repeated wiping from wet hands during wudu?

In this guide we’ll cover what you need to make sure you’re following the sunnah, and we’ll also cover how to take your game to the next level.

Foundation

Hadith of the fitra

Five are the acts of Fitra: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits and clipping the mustache [Muslim].

Keeping your hair and beard neat and clean-

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was in the mosque when a man came in with dishevelled hair and beard. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) motioned with his hand that he should be sent out to groom his hair and beard. The man did so and then returned. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Isn’t this better than that one of you should come with his head dishevelled, as if he were a shaytan?” [Malik]

Personal hygiene is a habit-

“[The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)] fixed the time for us paring the mustache, trimming the fingernails, shaving the pubic hairs and plucking the underarm hairs – that we not leave it for more than forty days.” [Tirmidhi]

 

Deodorant

Normally a discussion on the importance of using deodorant and which brand to use happens around … 7th grade. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of people missed out on that talk.

If you don’t use any, please do. If you don’t think you need it because you’ve never used it before, please start. The only real tip to add here would be to use deodorant and avoid antiperspirants (they clog you up).

Beard

The hardest part about a beard is learning to trim it yourself. Finding a barber who knows how to properly handle a long beard can be difficult. Although, as hipster beards become more commonplace it is hoped that some hipster barbershops will help serve the ummah in this regards.

Trimming

I prefer the scissor method. Automatic clippers work so well for up to a certain length, after that you have to get all artisanal with your facial hair. If you opt for the clipper route, any run of the mill clipper will do fine.

I recommend grabbing a Philips Norelco 7300 – This will help you clean up the mustache area and around the lip. The major bonus of this item is that it has a vacuum so you don’t get hair all over the sink.

Soft

There’s now a whole industry around beard care products. Make sure you are shampooing/conditioning your beard. A couple of products to try.

Shampoo and Conditioners

Oils

Beard creams / balms

Beard Brush

*Be careful here. Most brushes use boar hair (i.e. swine). This is the only one I was able to find that uses horse hair.

On the Go

Make sure you keep a pocket comb handy at all times.

Body Hair

We have 3 areas to cover here: armpits, down there, and – for certain ethnicities amongst us – probably your back. Compared to getting a beard trim, getting help here could get a little awkward. Luckily there is something that lets you handle your business on your own – The MANGROOMER.

Next Level

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here. If you need it, get it.

  • Balla Powder – The name should give away what it’s for. Stay dry, combat odor, and so on.
  • Dude Wipes – Istinjaa on the go.

MANicure

Simple and straightforward from the hadith above – cut your nails. This also includes your feet.

Invest in a nail file. Jagged edges can cut people when you shake hands. You don’t need to go get a bunch of girly stuff, something simple like this will do what you need.

Hair

The greatest challenge to hair is putting product in your hair that can survive wudu. The problem is you can put something in your hair, but after you pray dhuhr it’s undone and you’re suddenly having a bad hair day. After extensive personal testing, I recommend the following two products as the best to use in your hair –

So there you have it. Hopefully these will help take you from the man you are to the man you could be. Feel free to share your favorite tips and products in the comments.

 

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at ibnabeeomar.com.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ibrahim Farrier

    December 31, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    I enjoyed the article! I learned quite a bit. I will be getting some Dude wipes with my next internet purchase. Excellent idea! I would like to say though, in my research on beard-care I might change a bit. It is generally not a good idea to shampoo your beard regularly. Yes wash it, and even use a conditioner, but a general concensus amongst beard enthusiasts is no more than 1 time a week for shampoo. To keep it soft and healthy looking, use a beard oil every day after you shower. It’s good through rinsing for wudu, as well. Lastly, I always strongly recommend to people that they use a soft bristle brush, and NEVER a comb. A comb rips tangles out and excessive hair. Ouch! Since switching from comb to beard brush I have even seen a noticeable difference to my beard. Making it thicker, softer and subsequently easier to manage throughout the day.

    Thanks for the link for the mustache trimmer. I need that little vacuum! I think i’my getting that, as well.

    • Omar Usman

      Omar Usman

      December 31, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      will have to try the bristle brush. any that you recommend?

      • Avatar

        Adrian

        April 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM

        I use http://detroitgrooming.com/products/firm-military-boar-bristle-brush and also http://detroitgrooming.com/products/soft-boar-bristle-long-handled-brush

        It’s a great company- I use a lot of their products. Worth giving a try for sure!

      • Avatar

        AA

        July 11, 2015 at 6:32 AM

        Please note that “boar” or any other swine products are a definite no no for muslims.

        Beware!

      • Avatar

        Ibrahim

        January 26, 2016 at 5:29 PM

        I’ve been using the tangle teezer elite for years for my beard. The pain of a comb and the ripping out of hair made for a bad beard day, every day. As a Household Manager i also take care of 3 girls. After getting desperate to end the daily tears i ordered a few more and tried on the kids hair. No more tears or even complaints at all! The youngest even likes to walk around the house with hers brushing her own and everyone else’s hair.

    • Avatar

      Nasir

      January 2, 2015 at 4:07 AM

      I agree. We shouldn’t shampoo/condition the beard regularly as it takes out the natural oils. I read an article from the guy who won the beard of the year and he said to shampoo the beard once a month.

    • Avatar

      DustonB

      January 5, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      I’ve been advised by a long-time barber to use a de-tangling comb which has alternating long and short bristles for the beard since it does not rip beard hairs out and will allow for a luxurious distribution of both natural and applied oils.

      Overall I really love this article, it’s one that I feel is long overdue and addresses practical information that we men desperately need but are often too shy to seek out.

      Kufis off to you! :D

    • Avatar

      Muhammad Usman Sheikh

      August 26, 2016 at 1:34 PM

      Trimming is not done by Prophet pbuh dnt promote trimming

  2. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    December 31, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    • Omar Usman

      Omar Usman

      December 31, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      i tried beardbrand’s oil.. liked the ones i mentioned in the article better

  3. Avatar

    Hassan

    December 31, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Did not know that shaving back was also needed islamically? Although I may definitely use MANGROOMER to scratch the back.

    • Avatar

      Muhammad

      January 2, 2015 at 12:49 PM

      I don’t think he mentioned that shaving the back was part of Islam. Take it as a good suggestion from your brother. If your lady likes it, then keep it for her.

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        January 3, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        I must have misread it then, it certainly came in flow.

  4. Avatar

    Ibn Adnan Al-Yutaawi

    December 31, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Which hair product do you think is better out of the two you mentioned.

    • Omar Usman

      Omar Usman

      December 31, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      ive switched over permanently to the hanz de fuko spongewax for daily, and hanz de fuko claymation when i need a long lasting *firm* hold

      • Avatar

        megat

        May 14, 2016 at 12:00 AM

        Salam.

        Hanz de fuko is halal isnt it? I need some clarification on this. TQ brotha

  5. Avatar

    Ibn Adnan Al-Yutaawi

    December 31, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    WHich of the two products you mentioned do you think is better?

  6. Avatar

    Umm hadi

    January 1, 2015 at 9:23 PM

    Masha Allah well written and useful.
    https://alkalaamblog.wordpress.com/

  7. Avatar

    NikahExplorer

    January 2, 2015 at 3:09 AM

    JazakAllah Omar brother for sharing very good information about guide to grooming. MashaAllah.

  8. Avatar

    adam

    January 3, 2015 at 1:59 AM

    Is the anus considered Pubic hair that needs to be shaved?

    • Avatar

      Ismail

      January 4, 2015 at 12:37 AM

      Yes, from what I’ve learned. It is easier to clean ourselves after defecating when the hair in that region is shaved.

  9. Avatar

    Rahat

    January 4, 2015 at 2:45 PM

    I think you forgot to add on one more item… the miswak.

  10. Avatar

    Bahram

    May 1, 2015 at 7:53 PM

    Assalamo alaikom brother,
    I have tried to open a link on your web site relating to the halal mortgage (http://muslimmatters.org/2012/03/26/halal-mortgages-misuse-of-taqi-usmani-fatwa-and-other-important-questions/) and it does not open. I can open/access other links on your web site. Could you email me back privately or respond to this.
    JAZAK,
    Bahram

  11. Avatar

    Aasim

    May 22, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    Asa, is it better for us to comb or pick our beard ?

  12. Avatar

    Kirana

    July 8, 2015 at 6:14 PM

    Can I request that brothers please consider some styling in facial fair grooming? I mean, they can be so cool and “lumberjack chic” and yet Muslim men continue to grow them in an unkempt, “whatever” style which I think is unnecessarily unattractive. Please guys, while it’s bad to be vain, there’s a reason why the Propher pbuh put emphasis on care of appearance – people are drawn by, and want to be associate with, the group with physical charisma.

  13. Avatar

    farid

    July 22, 2015 at 1:38 AM

    Can I shave my anus ? I dont know it is really rights in islam or not ? please give me a good answer

  14. Avatar

    Sunnah Beards

    January 26, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    Salamualaikum Warahmatullah,

    We have recently launched (beginning of this month) Sunnahbeards.com a Toronto Based Beard Care company offering a variety of premium beard oils, and other grooming products. We’re also launching Beard balms and Shea butter soaps for each of our beard oil lines. We take pride in using 100% USDA Organic ingredients in our beard oils and phthalate free fragrance oils that are all natural. Best of all, all of it is handmade right here in Toronto, ON. Feel free to check out our website at http://www.sunnahbeards.com

    • Avatar

      Arshad

      March 24, 2016 at 5:29 AM

      Today, it’s my first day using sunnahbeards’ comb and Lion Den’s Beard oil. You should definitely try their products!

  15. Avatar

    Sunnah Beards

    March 10, 2016 at 4:58 PM

    Asalamualaikum Warahmatullah,

    I can recommend http://www.sunnahbeard.com for their amazing beard products! Please do give them a try inshaAllah. If you would like to create your own beard oil, have a look at http://www.sunnah-beard.com for a list of organic halal essential oils which can be mixed depending on what type of beard you have.

  16. Avatar

    Fattah M. Arif

    November 4, 2016 at 6:51 PM

    As-salaamu ‘alaykum warahmatullahi waabarakatuh! I was wondering how necessary beard wash is. Currently, I use one of Bluebeard’s sets (beard wash, beard cream, and conditioner), but I cannot tell if it has had any positive effect (some brothers have said they noticed a change after I used it, but perhaps only because I mentioned it). I would reduce my product use to just oil (there are two Muslim companies that I’m considering: Elegance Beard and London Beard Company), but I also swim in my free time and worry about the effect of chlorine and saltwater on my head, facial, and body hair. I don’t know about the Muslim companies, but Bluebeard’s offers an extra-conditioning beard wash. What if I got that instead of separate washes and conditioners? Also, is it necessary to use body wash/soap when showering? Couldn’t a simple ghusl followed by deodorant and balla powder suffice? How about shampoo for head [hair]? I don’t use that more than twice a week but what if I just cut it out completely? My main goal is to minimize how much synthetic chemicals I expose my body to while remaining healthy/clean. Lastly, aftershave on armpits (in addition to deodorant)/pubic areas, Yay or nay? Jazak Allah Khayr!

  17. Avatar

    Mohammed

    March 16, 2017 at 6:25 AM

    Has anyone here tried the beard oil that comes with MuslimBox.Co’s sunnah pack?

    http://www.muslimbox.co

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#Life

Convert Story: To Ask Or Not to Ask, That is the Question

covery islam story
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“How did you convert to Islam” is a question that is commonly asked to those who convert to Islam. While the short answer to this question is, “I said shahada”, the long (and more detailed) answer is one that is commonly expected.

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of “born Muslims” who ask this question do such out of good intentions. For this reason, I wrote this piece out of a place of love and not out of a place of judgment or hatred. While it is important for “born Muslims” to be mindful of how they ask this question, it is equally important for converts to not hold ill will towards born Muslims who ask this question. Due to the fact that Islamophobia is rampant in both the media and political discourse, many “born Muslims” are naturally shocked and emotional when they meet people who accept Islam. Some “born Muslims” have also had limited interactions with converts and therefore, to them, it is not only shocking for them to meet converts, but they are genuinely unaware of certain etiquettes when it comes to asking a convert for his or her story.

In this piece, I am going to write about a pet peeve that is shared among many Muslim converts. While I cannot speak for every single convert, I can say that based on innumerable conversations I have had with fellow converts, there is one thing most of us agree on and it is this; it is rude to ask a convert about his or her conversion story when you haven’t built a relationship with the convert. This piece will explain why many converts consider such a question to be intrusive. The purpose of this article is to better educate the “born Muslim” community on how they can do a better job in support of converts to Islam. In this piece, I will break down the reasons why this question can come off as intrusive if it isn’t asked in a proper manner. I will also include personal anecdotes to support my position.

I would like to conclude by saying that I do not discourage “born Muslims” from asking this question entirely, rather I am merely arguing that this question should be asked with the best of adab.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi) For this reason, such a question should be asked for purpose and it should be done with the best of manners. This is supported by the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Al Muwatta)

Note: For the sake of avoiding confusion, the term “born Muslim” is defined as anyone who was brought up in a Muslim household.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask about the person’s personal relationship with God

Within the context of a friendship, it is generally understood that friends will share personal details with each other. However, it is also generally understood that it is rude to ask people you just met personal questions. To ask a new acquaintance a personal question in most cases comes off as intrusive. This is especially the case in which you ask a person about his or her relationship with God.

For example, there are women who do not wear hijab. Even if we do (for a moment) ignore the Islamic ruling concerning hijab, we should all agree that a woman’s reason for wearing (or not wearing) hijab is a personal matter that is between said woman and God. If one was to ask a woman who doesn’t wear hijab why she doesn’t wear it, that would be intrusive because such a question would involve interrogating said woman about her relationship with God.

Another example concerns a married couple. If one was to meet a married person for the first time, it can be considered rude to ask said person about his or her relationship with his or her spouse.

When one asks a convert about his or her choice to convert, one is literally asking said convert about his or her relationship with God.

I am not saying that it is wrong in all cases to ask such a question. However, one should be mindful of the fact that because this is a personal question, one should have at least have built some form of a friendship with said person before asking.

convert friendship hugs

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is another way of asking, “Why do you believe in Islam?”

Many people identify to a faith tradition because it was part of their upbringing. If you were to ask a person who was born Muslim, “why are you Muslim?” you might hear said Muslim respond with, “I am Muslim because I was raised Muslim” and you wouldn’t hear a detailed answer beyond this.

In most cases, a convert to Islam (or any other religion) did such after research and critical thinking. To convert to a new religion involves not only deep thinking but a willingness to step into the unknown.

I have on many occasions told my story to people. In most cases I will ask the person “why do you believe in Islam?” I am then disappointed when I find out that the only reason the person is Muslim is due to upbringing. While I am not saying that said person’s faith is invalid or less than mine, a person who only identifies with a religion due to upbringing is a person who didn’t engage in critical thinking.

Any relationship should be built upon equality and mutual benefit. If I as a convert am able to provide a well thought out answer as to why I believe in Islam, I expect a well thought out answer to the same question from the person who initially asked me.

Again, while I am not saying it is wrong in all cases to ask, a born Muslim should ask himself or herself “why do I believe in Islam?” In my opinion, there are many who are born into Muslim families who don’t truly believe until later in their lives. Those Muslims in my opinion (and mine alone) are similar to converts.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to perform labor.

In some cases, “born Muslims” expect converts to tell their stories. I can remember a few incidents in which I have been asked to tell my story and I politely declined. In response, the person became angry. This to me is a symptom of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to know anything about anyone else (aside from people with whom one has a natural relationship with).

In addition, one should be cognizant of the fact that converts typically get asked this question repeatedly. Thus after a significant amount of time, a convert is prone to get tired of repeating the same question over again repeatedly. Naturally, it can become exhausting eventually.

While I do not believe it is wrong to ask this question in all cases, one should not ask this question to a convert from a place of entitlement. I can think of cases where I have been asked this question by “born Muslims” and when I have refused to provide an answer, they have gotten angry at me. This is entitlement.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to explain his or her personal life.

Backbiting is one of the worst sins in Islam. Another major sin is to disrespect one’s parents. Thus we can conclude that backbiting about one’s parents is a huge sin.

This is evidenced by the fact that Allah has said (ﷻ) “We have enjoined on humankind kindness to parents.” (Quran 29:8)

A typical follow-up question to “Why did you convert?” is “How did your parents react?” This in many cases puts the convert in a position where one may feel pressured to mention some negative details about his or her parents. In Islam, parents are to be respected, even if they aren’t Muslim.

Before asking a convert this question, one should be mindful of not putting unnecessary pressure on the convert to commit this injustice.

convert friendship

Cases when it is appropriate to ask

However, I do maintain a firm belief that in any true friendship, things will be shared. I don’t think it is wrong in itself to ask a convert about his or her story provided that there already exists a relationship where personal information can be shared. It is highly suggested to hang out with the person first and then ask the convert for his or her story.

As a personal rule of mine, unless I have hung out with the person one on one at least once (or a few times in group gatherings) I don’t tell any born Muslims my conversion story. Naturally, I only share personal details with people I consider to be a friend. If I would hang out with the person, I consider that person to be a friend.

The reason I am also hesitant to share my story with just anyone who asks me is because I can think of countless cases of when I have shared my story to people I have never seen or heard from again. I choose to exert my agency to share personal details of my life to people who I consider to be part of my life. While many Muslims are happy when people convert, many Muslims also fail to provide any form of support for said convert after conversion. I have seen too many cases of when a person recites shahadah, people pull their phones out to record it, but very few will give the convert his or her number. I genuinely believe that many “born Muslims” fail to see the big picture in this regard.

Before asking a convert for his or her story, you should ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person. If you are not comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person, there is nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t expect the convert to share personal details if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal details. Even if you have built a close friendship with someone, you still aren’t expected to share every detail of your life to someone. Even if you consider a convert to be a close friend, you should still respect a convert’s wishes to not share his or her story.

Conclusion

While I have addressed concerns about the tendency of “born Muslims” to ask converts about their journeys, I want to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. In Islam, the natural state of any person is one of righteousness.

I firmly believe that a friendship that isn’t built on trust and the sharing of personal information isn’t a genuine friendship. Therefore the key term in this context is “friend”. If you wish to ask a convert his or her story, please make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. You are already friends with the convert to a point where asking a convert about his or her relationship with God isn’t an intrusive question. Ask yourself, “Are we close enough where we can share other personal details of our lives with each other?”
  2. You have a well thought out reason as to why you believe in Islam.
  3. You don’t feel entitled to know about the convert’s journey and that you will allow the convert to choose not to share such information if the convert doesn’t wish to.
  4. You don’t probe into the convert’s relationships with other people.
  5. You aren’t just asking the question to somehow feel validated about your belief in Islam.
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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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#Life

Rebuilding Self-Love  in the Face of Trauma

touch trauma
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“…there is beauty in breaking” – Amir Sulaiman

Words fell softly from her lips as tears streamed down her face. A young woman, newly married, had reached out to me via social media to ask a question about how to reconnect with her body after trauma. Receiving intimacy and sex-related questions from Muslim women all over the world is a large part of my work.  But there was something about this particular questioner that struck me in a very deep place. I intimately knew her pain as a survivor. Not long after taking my shahada, I was the victim of sexual assault. The amount of trauma I suffered is indescribable. But rather than pulling me away from the faith, I relied heavily on the deen to pull me through one of the darkest periods of my life.

After trauma, rather than pulling away from the faith, I relied heavily on the deen to pull me through one of the darkest periods of my life. Click To Tweet

Healing after trauma took action, not only faith. For years, I struggled with the ability to connect with my body and to understand how to properly process emotions.  Intimacy, of all kinds, was a challenge for me. Reclaiming agency over my own body and establishing my right to pleasure led me down a life-changing path that has led to me now assisting other women in understanding and owning sexuality from a sacred perspective. My trauma broke me but it also showed me new ways to heal.

But getting back to pleasure really requires coming back to a sense of oneness and power within one’s self. It means owning your narrative and rebuilding the parts which have been broken. @TheVillageAuntieClick To Tweet

Re-engaging with sexual pleasure after trauma can be very difficult, especially for Muslim women who have been taught their whole lives to vigorously guard their bodies and not discuss sex. Talk of intimacy is still seen as taboo and, worse yet, the ability to report sexual assault and abuse remains a very difficult task for many women, regardless of faith.

But getting back to pleasure really requires coming back to a sense of oneness and power within one’s self. It means owning your narrative and rebuilding the parts which have been broken.

I have developed a five-step plan for helping women to navigate the heartbreaking process of reclaiming the body and opening one’s self to pleasure.

[*This plan is not to be used in place of mental health care (cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, trauma-informed somatic practice, etc.) but is meant to supplement intervention from a trusted licensed mental health provider.]

  1. Practice mindful forgiveness. This is not meant to be directed toward the abuser. Mindful forgiveness after trauma focuses on a need to forgive one’s self for the range of self-directed emotions that can be detrimental in the aftermath of sexual trauma. Sometimes women blame themselves when abuse takes place. This internalized oppression requires forgiveness because a victim should never assume blame for the heinous acts of others. Forgiving ourselves for any negative self-talk and asking Allah to grant His indelible mercy is a key foundation for the development of a healing path. It took years after my assault for me to understand the ways in which I had wounded myself with disparaging internal scripts. When I increased my level of istighfar and asked Allah to excuse all the instances where I doubted myself and harmed my spirit in the process, I was able to finally uncover long-hidden emotions and set about the work of true healing and reconciliation with my body.

    rights of women in Islam

  2. Seek knowledge about one’s own body and its rights. When I became a Muslim 21 years ago, I had no idea that Islam was such a sex-positive religion. The Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is full of instances where he demonstrated the beauty and importance of sex as a form of marital bonding as well as an act of worship. Scouring books of fiqh, I learned the rights of women in Islam which affirmed that we are not human possessions meant to be tilled; women have undeniable rights to pleasure and protection of our most sacred human parts. Understanding that Islam is a guide for all areas of life can give a sense of comfort and provide a pathway to explore the sacredness of sexuality. This is key, especially for women who have been abused by men of faith or who have been victims of spiritual manipulation for carnal gain. Also, learning about the female anatomy, how the brain is an integral part of harnessing pleasure, and ways to use the mind to develop an internal sense of pleasure can also be extremely helpful in re-igniting one’s love of self.

  3. Activate the sensuality of everyday life.  There is a misunderstanding of the role of sensuality in pleasure. Sex is the physical joining of bodies. Sensuality, however, is a conscious internal awareness of pleasurable stimuli. It does not involve engaging with another person. This is key because many trauma sufferers may find physical human touch triggering.  Recognizing the sensual aspects of daily life requires the mindful perception of things that titillate or arouse. It can be as simple as the feel of a particular fabric against the skin, the smell of the air after a heavy rain, a sound that evokes sensual memories, a scent that conjures an arousing mood. Why is this important? Sex is not the sole route to pleasure. For women, pleasure is largely dependent upon a spiritual or mental connection within the body. By engaging in self-motivated pleasurable sensations, this can assist women in realizing the power and control that we have over our physical vessels. Muslim couple healing reciting Quran

  4. Be easy with yourself. In the Qur’an, Allah reminds us “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (2:153)  During the process of reclaiming one’s power, there will undoubtedly be times of anger, grief, sorrow, and resentment. These are human emotions and are quite reasonable given the magnitude of trauma’s effect on the heart. Be patient with yourself. Channel love and support during times of difficulty. Do not neglect your healing journey because of a setback. It is important to practice patience with one’s self and utilize prayer as a stabilizing force. Allah is Al Wali, our greatest Protector, and Supporter. During times of emotional despair, rather than directing our energy inward, we can learn to release these emotions through dua and remembrance. Trauma is not a fundamental characteristic of who you have become. Reclaiming your narrative means understanding that you have the power to create a different story with a powerful ending. Give yourself the time and space to rewrite your script.

    Allah is Al Wali, our greatest Protector, and Supporter. During times of emotional despair, rather than directing our energy inward, we can learn to release these emotions through dua and remembrance.Click To Tweethealing from trauma

  5. Find your circle. Healing is not a solitary act. Sometimes it requires the love and support of others. Do you have a circle of support? Who are the people in your circle? And if you don’t have one, how can you create one? When I was at my lowest, my circle was there to remind me of who I was and how far I had come. They were the ones with whom I could be my most authentic self. One of the ways in which we can heal trauma is by seeking human connection. Select your circle carefully and lean on them during times of need. The healing power of your personally curated community can be transformative and life-changing.

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity
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I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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