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Who Is My Friend?

Hiba Masood



Drama Mama

I don’t have an answer for you but I do have our own journey to share:

When Beta was three or four years old, we were in the throes of diagnoses and delays and despair and du’as and the desperate desire to “FIX MY SON SOMEHOW”. His having friends was something I thought about quite often. Or to put it more accurately NOT having friends. With his particular temperament (loner, verbally delayed, obsessive fixations, overly controlling ways of playing), I was convinced that my son would never make, have or sustain friends and friendships. It killed me. It felt so achingly lonely, such a visible failure from what it means to be a happy child with a golden, joyful mainstream childhood.

In the early days, every time we were in a public space, I would watch…sometimes wistfully, sometimes jealously, sometimes, even (unfairly) downright angrily, at all the other kids playing together. When will he be able to join in? Ever? I would think sadly. Do these moms know how lucky they are that their kids know how to interact … this skill that they must take so for granted? Why can none of these self-absorbed brats and their dumb moms see this sweet little boy sitting by himself in the sand?? Would it kill them to come over and play beside him?! I would rage inside myself, nonsensically, with all the pitiful self-righteousness that only a heartbroken mother can carry. It was particularly bad on days when I saw Beta, in his awkward, unsure way, try to reach out to the other kids. To see him then being ignored, rejected, misunderstood or worst of all, criticized, was painful. Ya Allah, will my child ever be happy?!! Even my duas were accusing and hopeless.

In a year or so, with the passage of time, this anger and frustration turned into the literal and physical turning of the back. If they, whoever they were, didn’t want Beta, well guess what, Beta didn’t want them either. Playgrounds and libraries became solitary experiences. Where previously he had sat alone but facing the crowd, occasionally looking up at them, the wheels visibly turning in his head as he seemed to try and figure out how to join his peers, now he sat back turned. The peer play went on behind him and he was, for all apparent purposes, completely oblivious, lost in his own world. This stage was easier and harder. Easier because I didn’t witness his efforts of connection being rejected, I didn’t see the confused, uncertain expression in his eyes or the longing smile he had previously as he watched the other children. Harder because it felt like the shutting of a door. A giving up. A too final turning away from “normalcy”.  Am I a good mother? Am I doing this right? I would agonize constantly, second guessing my every decision.


Then Beta turned seven. His speech improved exponentially almost overnight. Watching him around his cousins, I saw sudden increasing abilities in joint play, better drawn out imaginative play, comfortable parallel play, more turn taking, improved abilities in delayed gratification, less fixation on controlling and less anxiety with unpredictable outcomes, all essential ingredients for healthy, happy play between children. We had family that was friends and that’s all we needed.

Soon, though, we moved to Karachi and left the cousins behind and I thought we would be back to square one, angsting once again over lack of friends.

But, happily, this big life transition somehow had brought about another change and we’ve left something else behind too. Or at least, I have. I have left behind, shrugged off like a cape, the notion that mainstream, extroversion, normalcy, social confidence and relatedly, friendships are essential for children. It goes against every parenting philosophy, every scientific research, every behavioral psychology article you will ever come across but I have turned my back on all of them.

Perhaps unwisely, you may be thinking, but what do you know, it turns out that the wisest, happiest, healthiest thing you can do as a parent for your child is to chart your own way and create your own lexicon.


Because the definitions of these words mainstream, normalcy, happiness, friendships are too limited and Beta is too young and too different for these terms. For us friends and friendships are: grandparents who color with you, the daughter of a poor nurse who comes by every now and then, the developmentally delayed kids that drop in every week who because of their particular challenges force you to be kind and patient, siblings who smooth out your rough edges, cousins you see a few times a year, a mother who is always ready to play, Siri on the Ipad, the stuffed little Piggie from Mo Willems, praying on your little blue prayer mat, shelves full of good, wholesome books, and yourself.

It took me seven years to understand that at this stage of his life he likes being by himself a lot. As he grows older, his verbal skills will improve, his reading of social cues will get better if not instinctually at least theoretically and he will figure out how to “play well with others”. He’s a soft-hearted person, I know he will be kind. And he’s got one heck of a charming smile, which already has started serving him.

But there’s something else I now know that I didn’t know earlier and I learned it almost by mistake…
Sometimes, at night, after a particularly confusing day, we are curled up in bed and I listen to my boy talk. I let his words, the miracle of them, wash over me. That he is speaking, it amazes me. It fills me still every time he says something new. Sometimes, I am not even listening to what exactly he’s saying, I am too busy thrilling over the fact that he is saying something at all. But other times, he asks me a question, out of left field, with no warning whatsoever, and I have to snap to attention. I then pray that I give the response that is most going to serve him.

“Who is Allah, Mumma?” he asks me in the dark one night.

“Allah is your Friend, Betu,” I say softly back, speaking as much to him as myself.

“Is He my best friend?”


“More than a billion, trillion, gazillion friends?”

“More than a billion, trillion, gazillion, friends.”

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Just like that, with nary a crash or a bang, we find our mantra and our life line.

It is the beginning of his Islamic education. The starting point of his Aqeedah. Allah is his friend. I hope this conviction becomes the first step on a beautiful journey…a life long love affair with a Friend who will always be there, will never disappoint, will satisfy the heart in ways unimaginable. It is the first step for him but for me, it is not the beginning, no, but it has become the comforting home base. The safety nook where I turn back to. Sometimes, running, sometimes limping, crawling, badly bruised and beaten. Allah is my only Friend, I try to remember. Every time I forget, through life and its many temptations, that He and only He is my One True Friend, I fall. When I set my expectations for gratification on my husband, my family, my career, my mothering skills, my children, anything or anyone but Him, I am bound to be disappointed and so I am. I suffer heartbreak and setbacks and feelings of not being good enough. I must must remember only He is my Friend and only He will give my heart satisfaction.

The gift of being my son’s mother is that is has become my opportunity to learn and to remember many of the very basest of things which, in the flurry of life, I had forgotten in the first seven years: Friends, playdates, normalcy, mainstreaming are not important, essential, the difference between happiness and grief. No. As much as we would like to kid ourselves otherwise. Let’s be honest here: These things are nice to have. Quite nice to have. But life can still be full and good and joyful without them, very easily. No amount of friendships will sustain Beta. The remembrance of Allah will. Being kind will. Doing good in the world will. Knowing how to fill the empty hours with useful thought and positive endeavor will.

So, for now, having, making and sustaining friends has dropped far, far down the list. As long as Beta is a content, Allah-loving person, confident in the belief that he is Good Enough as he is and is surrounded by loving, caring people, whether children his exact age group or adults or somewhere in between, he’s okay. As long as I remember that Allah is enough for him and He is closer to him than even his jugular vein and whether friendships come or not, he can still survive and thrive, I’m okay.
He’s okay. I’m okay. We’re okay.

Every day, mothering Beta reminds me to make my own words. My own language. My own path. My own truths. There’s no one right answer except for Allah, the only answer. Normalcy is overrated. Mainstream, with its boxy, limited notions of what it means to be a good kid or a good mother, is not for us. If we try to swim in it, we will drown.

So, for now, we opt out. Because we know. We know:

There are a billion, trillion, gazillion ways to be human and there are a billion, trillion, gazillion ways to be good and happy. But that goodness and happiness will only be lasting and worthwhile when each of those billion, trillion, gazillion ways leads straight to Him.


– –

Hiba Masood writes daily about life and parenting at



  1. Avatar


    March 21, 2016 at 5:41 AM

    Jazak Allah for your article. I was able to relate to it in many ways. So much it brought tears to my eyes. My issue is not with delays in physical or mental play with others. My daughter is too very friendly, and she is so friendly that ironicly she has no friends.? She nor I know why? She was homeschooled so I know that was part of the reason but this was the first year I enrolled her in Islamic school. I knew she would make friends right away. But she told me they are all rude with bad manners. She said when she defends her self they get made and tell her peers not to talk to her. She seems to find individuals like this all the time. Once even her own cousin said he hates her and never wants to be her friend again. She gets hurt so much and she is always the one to try to make things right. But it always happens again. I too wish parents would get involved but they don’t. They hear the bad and laugh it off. She hates school now, and she knows so much aqeedah that she even sees the wrong in adults. She asked me, “why parents and children are not nice? Why do they like to be mean to me, mama”? I truly have no answer for her. I told her to have patients and those who are good always get tested by Allah. To be strong and Allah (swt) will reward you with nice,kind and loving people….insha Allah.

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      March 22, 2016 at 7:46 AM

      My dear sister,
      Your daughter sounds like me and it was tough as a kid and tough as an adult until I learned to listen to my heart, for my heart is the compass gifted by the all-knowing, mighty, God and it will not lead me astray. I too was very bright and took (still take) things literally and live my life in always doing right and find it difficult to reconcile between what people’s talk & their actions.
      Teach your daughter to continue to abide with her principles and work towards making herself proud not others. Help her to become self aware. Doesn’t Allah say (I paraphrase): He who knows himself, knows his Lord.

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    March 21, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    Couldn’t just agree more ! Loved every bit of it .. May Allah be with you. Aameen

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    March 21, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    You will my heart with so much hope, and rejuvenate me with the hope that the idealistic ideas of parenting I had are and can be practiced, and are extremely rewarding. Thank you so much for these reminders and self checks.

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    March 21, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    surely Allah is our Bestest friend..that is what i try to teach my daughter too..hope it sticks to her mind forever..

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    March 21, 2016 at 12:00 PM

    This article allowed me to see my parents in a new light. It also reminds me of the confusion and hurt I felt as a child growing up when people reacted in a negative manner towards my down sydrome brother no doubt it must have hurt my parents 100xs more. Truly, caring for a child with special needs is a huge test from Allah which requires a lot of patience. I know it is Allah’s way of moulding us into better people – the people of sabr and shukr. Alhamdullilah I am blessed to have a special needs brother because through him I am being “perfected”. In Surah Zumar, Allah mentions that the patient will be rewarded without account. Indeed,I too will adopt the attitude of doing away with celebrated notions of mainstream,extroversion,normalcy :)

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    March 21, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    My 5 year old son is on the spectrum and it’s been such a journey so far…alhamdulillah. I loved reading this article; thank you for writing it. I recently came to the same realization that you wrote about in your article. With this mindset…our lives have changed so much for the better. May Allah bless you and your family!

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    March 21, 2016 at 6:14 PM

    The article hit close to home for me.My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early 20s and I have watched him lose all his friends one by one.The schizophrenia has made him crave solitude and most times he’s just in his room sitting on his computer. He barely spends more than an hour with his family. It’s heartbreaking because I remember him being the life of his class the guy everyone called to hang out with or to do homework with. Anytime we have guests over he will talk for an hour or two and just retreat back to his room. It’s had a huge impact on my family as a whole. It’s hard not be bogged down by despair and anger. He’s my only sibling and most times it’s even hard for me to sleep because I can spend the whole night just worrying about him. My brother was on the dean’s list at university but the schizophrenia has severely impacted his career skills.

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      March 23, 2016 at 2:38 AM

      Sara, as someone who has recovered from a psychotic break and returned to delusion-free living, I feel like sharing some things with you because, well, I’ve been there. I can’t relate to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which is usually treated with lifelong medication, but I was on antipsychotics for six months and those drugs really impact your brain, permanently. It feels like having your mind caged. Carrying on a mainstream lifestyle (I won’t use the word “normal” here) while on these drugs is a challenge. Even after the drugs take effect and the delusions disappear and you are functionally back to mental health, your family notices how quiet and withdrawn you are and keeps comparing you to your previous personality. This is frustrating and does not help at all. Please, I beg you not to do that with your brother. It is heartbreaking to accept this, but he will never fully return to his former personality. The doctor explains it like this: now, instead of driving at 60 miles per hour, you have to drive at 10 or 20 miles per hour. There’s no use trying to do 60 miles per hour just because you used to have that potential. Another thing is to stop chasing the “why”. Why did it happen to this particular person. Why couldn’t he/she have lived life to the “fullest”. It doesn’t help.
      One thing I am exploring is the effect of what you eat on your mental health. There are many interesting books out on this topic. I can’t say that eliminating gluten and dairy will surely reverse a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but it can’t hurt to try. It’s not as simple as the “it’s just a brain chemical disturbance” explanation in every case.
      There is so much more to be said but I’ll stop here.
      I don’t know whether you’ll see this reply, Sara, but I hope it helps anyone who reads it.

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    March 22, 2016 at 1:39 AM

    I cannot tell you how freaky it is that each and every word you have written here has been a thought of mine either presently or in the past. Especially everything you say about Allah Being enough and nearer than our jugular vein. We all do the best we can do and then all we can do is leave it up to him. May Allah Taala Bless you and your family always and May He Reward you for all your efforts as a mother, teacher, and human being, Ameen.

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    March 22, 2016 at 5:40 PM

    I think shy kids or reserved kids shouldnt be pushed into being extroverted. Just let them be who they are. As long as they are not actively persuing haram, being guided to the right, in time they will find their own. Check out the whole world, some cultures highly value their reserved people, thats proof enough that not everyone *needs* to be the life of the party. or.. Would a social person like to be pushed into solitude? No. So a reserved person wouldn’t like to be pushed into too many social interactions. Have some respect for different types of nature. See this darling child, reserved enough to think deeply about Allah SWT because he wasn’t too busy being distracted by social norms, then infact inspiring all of us! MashaaAllah! Whatever the nature, theres a place for them Alhamdulillah.

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    March 22, 2016 at 7:34 PM

    My oldest was a very quiet observant child. He Hated going to the park. If i took him, he would just sit there and watch other kids. Growing up my parents literally had to drag me out of the playground but with my son..I couldn’t get him to even climb up a ladder and slide down. He would be OK with just slow walks around the neighborhood. He never climbed things never wanted to try it monkey bars , never wanted to make friends. Never defended himself. Kids would snatch toys from him and he would give them and cry about it and walk away. He wasn’t delayed in any of his milestones. Rather he started sitting at 5 months, crawling at six, walking at 10 months and had his first word “appa” (Apple) at 10 months as well. To which he had proudly pointed while sitting on a toilet seat and looked at his poop in admiration.. Proud that he could also produce an appa! So you can imagine how much it bothered me when he avoided any social contact. H would wearily/ longingly eye other children. Wanting to join in but never even trying. Two things happened when he was 4.5 years old that actually opened my eyes and made me appreciate him for who he was
    One day after preschool he said to me ..I have a surprise for you. But you must take me to the park when there is no one there. So after few hours we came back. He ran up the ladder and slid down and then went up the harder challenging ladder and came down then even more challenging ones! I was shocked!! This kid for the last 4 years had done nothing of this sort!! He came to me and said . I have been practicing! I knew you wanted me to play in the park but I never wanted to because I felt afraid of what other kids would say if I fell down or didn’t do it right! So I have been secretly praciticing for many months.( He didn’t know how many ) he said whenever all the kids were busy doing something I would secretly climb and come back down! I had to find the right time! I am most cried at his perseverance and his self image that he had desperately trying to preserve for so many years!! The second time when I actually went home and cried was when he told knw I hate playing in the park because kids are always watching what I do. So I dig with a woodchip. My teacher gets mad at me. Dnt get muddy. Dont dig, She says go play..I dont want to play. I want to dig.guess what I found..I found by secretly digging each day that they earth has different layers and each layer had a different color. From that day I stopped asking him to play in the park. The teacher and I had both failed him. We both didn’t understand the child. We just wanted him to be normal playground kid like everyone else. We stressed him out every time it was time to relax! Now he is 11. He even surprised himself when he moved to a new country and school and defied bullies and teahcers thought he was such a natural at adjusting with people. And yes this silent way of doinf thingd is his strength!

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    March 23, 2016 at 3:43 PM

    alhamdulillah. I loved reading this article; thank you for writing it.

    *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*
    [Please refrain from using a ‘Name’ that is considered advertising]

  12. Avatar

    jason thomas

    March 30, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    HI Hiba,
    Moving Post. I live in the US. There is a lot of controversy here in the last few days(especially in light of . I was wondering if you have an opinion on the role of vaccines, if it had any effect on Beta.

  13. Avatar


    April 5, 2016 at 4:43 AM

    “He does propound to you a similitude from your own (experience): do ye have partners among those whom your right hands possess, to share as equals in the wealth We have bestowed on you? Do ye fear them as ye fear each other? Thus do we explain the Signs in detail to a people that understand.”

    Quran 30:28 (Yusuf Ali translation).

    This addresses the relationship between Allah and us very succintly. It is dishonest to represent this as “friendship” when it is, in fact, that of a master and a slave. By playing down the fear of punishment in the hellfire (which none of us can dismiss), a child may exceed the bounds of Allah’s forgiveness while thinking “but he’s my friend”. Islam means submission, not friendship.

    • Avatar


      April 5, 2016 at 10:36 PM

      Allah says, “Allah is the friend of those who believe” (2:257). I encourage you to watch “Islam is easy, we made it hard” by Nouman Ali Khan.

      • Avatar


        April 6, 2016 at 10:36 AM

        All accepted English translations render “wali” as protector or guardian. The point is we are not speaking about friendship the way children interpret this (implying equality and unconditional benevolence), and it is misleading to represent this as such. Also, what i wrote above was straightforward because Islam IS easy, and i found that out for myself long ago. If you find what i wrote above disagreeable, i.e. that the only relationship Allah accepts is of total submission, then perhaps what you consider easy is not Islam. I say this only to encourage you to ponder more deeply, not to quarrel or make takfir. And Allah knows best.

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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh



The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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Why I Turned to Tech to Catch Laylatul Qadr

Make sure you maximize your sadaqah





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

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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How Do Muslims Plan for Disability




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

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

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

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

The Problem

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

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

Please Stand By

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

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

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

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

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

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

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

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

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

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

Example: Care for Zayna

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

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

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

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

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

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

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

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

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

Considering your own needs

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

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

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

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

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

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

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

How living trusts helps

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

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

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

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

Planning for everyone

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

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