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All I Want For Christmas Is… For Muslims To Read This




Stumped by our own Childhood

Tinselly window dressings are everywhere. It is holiday season— the only time during the year where peppermint bark comes to the local Trader Joe’s. Neighborhood windows glisten with ornaments on the tree. “Mama, why can’t we have a Christmas tree like theirs?” he asks. Sometimes, the youngest children ask the toughest questions. Especially tough when this question was never adequately answered for us when we grappled with it as children.

Let’s be honest here, for those of us growing up as Muslim minorities, whether it was Christmas or another holiday, the assertive “because it’s ḥarām (forbidden)” coupled with the parental death-stare was usually the end of the conversation. One generation later, though, this answer – or the subconscious resentment of it – now has parents like me reluctant to repeat it, and for many, even questioning it.

Better Late than Never

Let us first say that the “do’s and don’ts” of our faith being communicated to us superficially or belligerently, do not disqualify their potential correctness. In other words, withholding the reasons from us doesn’t negate that there may be very good reasons behind our abstention from observing Christmas as Muslims.

To mention a few:
1) God sent His final prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to rescue those coerced (culturally or violently) into believing that the Creator has partners/children that share in His Unique Perfection and Sovereignty. It is no secret that with Christmas, the “reason behind the season” is commemorating the day when Christ (peace be upon him), supposedly God’s son, was begotten into this world to be sacrificed on the cross for the salvation of those who accept that doctrine. Given our deep love for Esa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), should our children be left to conflate between casually celebrating ‘the birth of God’s son’ and celebrating God liberating humanity (via revealing the Quran) from this claim?

Therefore, should our children not grow wishing all people a happy hereafter, and therefore politely abstaining from saying “Merry Christmas”? Should our children not carry genuine concern for their friends and loved ones incurring the costliest loss?

“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray.” [an-Nisā’ 4:116]

“And they say, ‘The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.’ You have done an atrocious thing. The heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation – that they attribute to the Most Merciful a son.” [Mary 19:88-91]

2) Over the centuries, Christendom’s ascription of divine qualities to human beings has widened past Jesus Christ (ﷺ) to include saints as well. This is glaringly evident in the “harmless” Christmas carols, which we may not even know our children have memorized:

“Santa Claus is coming to town;

He sees you when you’re sleeping,

He knows when you’re awake.

He knows if you’ve been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake…”

For a Muslim, if the super-foundation of your theology, lā elāha illā Allāh, is singling God out in everything particular to Him (like being the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing, who hears the prayers we whisper and deserves our sincere devotion), then this is no longer an innocent song. Rather, this erodes in a child why the universe was created, why the Scriptures were revealed, why the Messengers were sent, and why Paradise and Hellfire were prepared. It represents mixed messages for why a person is alive, what the primary message of the Quran is, and why the worthiest blood, sweat, and tears were ever sacrificed. Our children’s pure little hearts are like sponges that soak up whatever they are exposed to, and we have been appointed as the gatekeepers of those hearts, and will be questioned about that trust.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, 

There is no servant whom Allah entrusts with subjects, then dies while having betrayed that trust, except that Allah has made Paradise forbidden for him.”

[Saḥīḥ Muslim: 1/261]

And again, parents must inculcate in kids that being a true Muslim necessitates compassion for humanity, and that compassion is not restricted to this life. A greater act of compassion and selflessness is tolerating the occasional backlash when identifying for others the harms of disbelief in this world, and the requirements for salvation in the next.

3) Being comfortable with standing out, and the willingness to be different when necessary, is a hallmark of survival and of successful people. For this reason, our prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) cautioned that “imitating a people renders us as one of them,” [Musnad Ahmad] and taught us to revisit in every prayer a particular “straight path”, and further specify that it is “not the path of those who incurred wrath” nor “those who are lost.”

Nobody likes to identify with weakness, or be perceived with suspicion, and hence we find Muslims more likely – at times – to leap into unhinged degrees of assimilation than others nowadays. The desire to escape the media hostility against Islam is expected, but we must recognize that it also breeds an inferiority complex of sorts. Why else do Muslims, particularly where living as minorities, feel the pressing need to celebrate Christmas when many other groups don’t? Whether citing the commercialization of Christmas, or the pagan symbols of the Christmas tradition (think: charms on trees, bad luck to erect before a certain date), or Judaism’s rejection of Jesus Christ (ﷺ), there are plenty of people all around us who abstain from participation.

Muslims not decorating Christmas trees is largely irrelevant to those who do— considering how many groups do not without consequence. Therefore, the setting up of a Christmas tree really has to do with us as Muslims; which of us internalized the stigma and need to prove “we are just like you”, and which have escaped the identity crisis, feel privileged with Islam, and confident in being sufficed with the two Eids.

As the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah has replaced you [in place of these holidays] with that which is better than them; Eid al-Aḍḥā and Eid al-Fiṭr.” [Abū Dāwūd, an-Nasā’i, Aḥmad]

A Charming Tree

How many have heard of this narration by the Prophet (ﷺ)?

Abū Wāqid al-Laythi reported that when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) went out to Ḥunayn, he passed by a tree that the idolators called Dhāt Anwāṭ upon which they hung their weapons. The Prophet’s Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, appoint for us a Dhāt Anwāṭ (good-luck tree) just as they have a Dhāt Anwāṭ.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, Subḥān Allāh. This is just like Moses’ people said, ‘Make for us a god like their gods.’ [al-An‘ām 6:138] By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will surely follow the traditions of those before you.” [Tirmidhī: 2180; ḥasan-saḥīḥ]

After generations of subjugation under Pharaoh, the Israelites struggled with an inferiority complex despite being liberated by God and seeing His Might firsthand at the sea. This is what prompted their urge to imitate, along with the fact that humans commonly see the grass greener across the fence, and naturally conform to what they see as ideal. So in this age of global weakness and smear campaigns against Islam and the Muslim, the wise parent must be vigilant of similar tendencies, and understand what occasions like Christmas indicate for the Muslims in their family.

Finally, a child’s desire to understand the world around them, and demand that his/her mind be respected via the infamous “but why?!” inquiries should always be validated and satisfied. If we do not craft their worldview, others will fill that void. However, the greatest gift you as a parent can give your child this holiday season is the confidence to be different. 23% of US Muslims no longer identify with their childhood religion, and surely some of the remaining 77% only identify with Islam socially/culturally. Is it then not urgent to instill that pride before the dominant culture finishes reshaping their new cultural identity?

Saturate your children with enjoyable discussions on tawḥīd (the oneness and greatness of Allah), speak to their teachers about alternatives during celebratory functions, supervise their screen time, make a big deal out of Islam’s Eid(s), and fill them with thrill and privilege for being chosen by Allah for Islam.

And praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.

Graduate of English Literature; Translator for IIPH, AMJA, and Mishkah; Da'wah Director @ Muslims Giving Back; Student @ Mishkah University. More blessed than I know, and more than I deserve.



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    December 24, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    Christians do not consider Jesus to be God’s partner. They consider him to be God.

    I have had many conversations of Muslims who are ignorant of this fact. As a result, they will continue to parrot their false idea of the Christian Jesus until there is no point in talking to them any more.

    Additionally, Santa Claus is not regarded as having any God-like or magical powers by Christian adults. Santa is a children’s story. Muslims should not tell their children that Christians consider Santa to be a “partner” of God, because Christians do not. Most Christians would consider a teen or adult who actually believed in Santa to be mentally damaged.

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      December 24, 2017 at 1:25 PM

      Dear AJF,

      I think you missed the point of this article with your comment. Whether Christians consider Jesus a partner, a son, a part of God, or God himself still qualifies the Christian theology as Shirk. Association of partnership with God is also akin to associating God’s Divine attributes to creation. And depending upon whom you speak with, Christians promulgate any and/or all of the aforementioned variations of Jesus’s manifestation. The only Christians whom I met that actually don’t consider Jesus as God or the son of God are Jehovah’s witnesses. They came knocking on my door one day and I invited them in for an open discussion.

      Of course, society is aware that Santa Claus is a fairy tale. But the point the author makes is in regards to Santa Claus’s introduction into children’s lives. The introduction is not an innocuous story but rather Christians attribute Divine qualities to Santa Claus such as omniscience. This is brainwashing children into associating God-like qualities that are anthropomorphized into an imaginary human being. The Divine attribute of All-seeing, All-hearing, and All-knowing only belong to the One Creator.

      I think this is an excellent article and I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s premise. It is germane in my life right now because I have a son who is in Kindergarten and I am dealing with the questions as posed above. The reason I am honest with my 5 year old son about our reasons for not celebrating Christmas is because I want him to keep a lens of pure Tawheed in his life and not fall into polytheist traps.

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        December 24, 2017 at 2:44 PM

        Hi Usman

        Jehovah Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity and are not Christians for that reason. They believe that Jesus was an incarnate form of the angel, Michael.

        But, I think what you are really saying is that you consider it to all be in error, regardless of how Jesus or the Trinity are viewed, so the fine distinctions hardly make a difference.

        What is really unfortunate is that Muslims have been very busy these past few years trying to use Jesus (and to a lesser degree, Mary) as a method of dawah and ecumenical outreach.

        At that point, it becomes far more important for Christians to define what they actually believe about Jesus, rather than to allow Muslims to tell everyone what they think Christians believe about Jesus.

        Christians don’t have these arguments with Jews, because Jews simply reject Jesus outright without trying to use him to convert Christians to Judaism.

        Additionally, “shirk” is becoming the new “jihad” or “kuffar” in the list of Islamic vocabulary seen as a threat to non-Muslims. That makes “shirk” my business, rather than just you and your children’s business. So you should expect non-Muslims to be increasingly interested in Muslim teachings about Jesus and shirk.

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    December 24, 2017 at 1:15 PM

    Barrak Allah feek.

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    December 25, 2017 at 1:00 PM

    SubhanAllah was hesitant to read this fearing another apologetic “let’s all just be friends” jumble of nonsense. May Allah reward you with all the best!

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    December 25, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    Don’t the trolls have someplace else to be today?

    • Avatar


      December 26, 2017 at 6:30 PM

      It is not trolling to point out that Santa Claus is a children’s fantasy and has absolutely no role in actual Christian theology. Nor is it trolling to point out that Jesus is considered God in Trinitarian belief.

      Muslims can tell their children anything they want, but it is always wise to err on the side of the truth.

      As for “shirk”, my comment about it was deleted so I guess my observations were unwelcome. That is fine. Muslims and non-Muslims will also be having that conversation eventually, but obviously it will not be here.

      Kathryn made the most honest statement, which is that we need to stop focusing on “let’s all be friends” and start focusing on real issues and the fact that Islam and Christianity (and post-Christianity) are incompatible belief systems. To me, that is the foundation upon which we should begin our dialogue about Islam in the West.

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    December 26, 2017 at 9:38 PM

    Jazak Allah khair for a much needed reminder.

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    December 27, 2017 at 8:40 AM

    Masha’Allah, well said.

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    Md Nayeem

    December 27, 2017 at 12:37 PM

    جزاك اللهُ خيرًا
    You stand with some valid points, it was the post for now,,..feel so hurt, when see that our children are breaking to bad knock,,may Allah give us solid knowledge to understand the right way and lead us to right…

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    January 1, 2018 at 9:25 PM

    Unknown to muslim immigrants from underdeveloped countries and seemingly unknown to muslim scholars and apologists, American life commands critical thinking of its citizens. From preschool through advanced college degrees, critical thinking is taught in schools, practiced in industries, it’s the root of political party differences and the foundation of advances and inventions in science and engineering.

    Loosely defined, critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. (def. based on Scriven and Paul, 1987)
    I would add to the requirements of critical thinking that if any religion is going to survive American critical thinking, it must offer something that is of equal or greater value than religions already present in American society. As the nation’s smallest world religion with fewer adherents than Judaism, Islam’s mature members must be able to model and teach their children and society-at-large how and why Islam should be a contender for religious belief in America. Mere criticism of everyone else’s religious beliefs without being able to defend your own, or religion-on-demand because your ancestors were muslims, and even trying to squash questions from your children because Allah does not like his religion to be questioned, are not options to critically-thinking Americans.

    I have yet to meet a muslim who defends his own religion and beliefs with an answer from the quran. Challenge a muslim about his beliefs or a quranic verse and the answer will have nothing to do with the question, but rather a barrage of unrelated criticism of the Bible copied from an atheist’s website; Or maybe the generic rote answer, “the Bible is corrupted”; Or a list of ‘ibns’ from the endless telephone game called ‘tafsir’ and ‘hadith’.

    So here’s the answer: start with adult muslims learning about their own religion’s theology, figures, morals and values as stated in the quran– enough to actually answer the increasing pile of serious questions challenging islam, not just questions about the existence of Santa and the tooth fairy. Then point out muslims who practice what they preach for the benefit of all American society, not just for the benefit of muslims. Deal with the tough questions about gay rights, women’s rights, Christian, atheist and Jewish rights, and the negative press Islam receives at the hands of its own members in homeland countries.

    As far as “the dominant culture reshaping their new cultural identity”, get ready for someone to ask why muslims choose to live in a country where being reshaped into an American citizen is perceived as a negative outcome of the greatest social experiment in all history, America, the “melting pot” of the world.
    And get ready to hear critical thinking going on in the heads of your own American-born children about Islam.

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Lesson 11 From Surah Al-Kahf

Tafsir Verses 72-81

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Heart Soothers: Shaykh Noreen Mohamed Sideeq




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