Fed up with government guidelines of salt intake, doctors’ advice on calorie control and nutritionists’ warnings about additives, Rabia Barkatulla wanted to return to the simpler, more wholesome diet of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Equipped with ‘Shamaa’il Tirmidhi’ on the eating habits of the Prophet (SAW), she undertook a kitchen clearout and supermarket ban to get back in touch with real food.
Week 1: Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays
Abu Hurayrah (RA) said: “Rasulullah (SAW) said: ‘Deeds are presented (before Allah SWT) on Mondays and Thursdays. I desire that my deeds be presented whilst I am fasting”(Hadith 288).
The first Monday of fasting is going well, just as the first day of Ramadhan, you relish the change. It’s funny how we have ritualistic habits with food: certain foods at certain times, certain drinks and certain combinations of flavour. Perhaps it is easier to break up the routine with fasting non-consecutively. I’m getting used to eating lighter in general and I’m not inspired to cook a big meal because it’s not an ‘occasion’ the way iftar usually is. Mostly, we’re filling up on pasta, fish and soups which are quick to prepare in all of half an hour from the shopping bag to the plate.
I can feel that fasting has made me more energetic and not being sluggishly waylaid with tea and lunch, the day seems liberated for other activities like swimming. Because it’s only a Monday and Thursday, mentally I can cope and I’ve found keeping my mind off food gets easier. We have a tendency in our age of neurotic vanity to be self-consciously losing weight rather than looking after our health and wellbeing. I’m trying to ignore that part of my irrationality and concentrate on health. I want to engage in more ‘ibadah during the day as I feel lighter – so for the days I’m not fasting I’ve taken up praying before I eat, finding that it’s easier to pray the sunnah as well and make it more of a mental rest during the day. The only down side I’ve found is that if I don’t have enough fluids before the fast, I really feel it.
Week 2: Fruit
‘A’ishah (RA) reports that “Rasulullah (SAW) ate watermelon with fresh dates” (Hadith 189).
Now that fasting is established in my weekly routine, it’s time to introduce something I’m really not fond of: fruit. I can go without fruit for months; the texture of its raw fleshiness spurs me to bury it under crumble until it no longer resembles its former self, or worse, fry it in pancake batter for breakfast.
Fruit smoothies are my lifesaver, as well as bio-pot fruit yoghurt. After physical exercise the body needs replenishing with minerals and hydration: once you come back in the house from running errands there is nothing better than a smoothie. I’ve actually finished a litre in two days, putting away 8 portions of fruit.
Yoghurt is a lovely, summery alternative to ice-cream or chocolate. Even fig rolls are high in fibre and are great with a cup of tea. I’ve also taken to stuffing dates with nuts and putting them in my handbag, brilliant on busy weekends when you’re out and about shopping or visiting people and you need something on the go for breakfast.
Chopping up dates and cranberries and sprinkling them over cereal has led me into the world of the dried fruit; a versatile and easy way to absorb vitamins without trying. Now they’re everywhere, in my muffins, on top of toast and even in my cookies.
Week 3: Bread, Vinegar and Olive Oil
Someone asked Sahl bin Sa’d (RA): “Did Rasulullah (SAW) ever eat bread made of white flour?” He replied: “White flour may not have come before Rasulullah (SAW) till his last days” (Hadith 138).
It’s time to bring out the rolling pin. Any culture that still makes wholemeal bread is worth adopting, so I’m rolling out the rotis to go with our Bombay potatoes. I’ve tried using brown flour to make quiche pastry and that was a disaster. The fridge alternative is a multi-seeded loaf, the best of the brownest – exceptionally worth the extra money.
Jaabir bin ‘Abdullah (RA) relates that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “What a wonderful grave vinegar is”(Hadith 145). Vinegars are complex and varied. There is red wine vinegar, best for kidney beans and salads, there is cider vinegar, light and good for pasta, malt vinegar that we use on chips and white wine vinegar, the most versatile in the kitchen. I’ve realised that they can all be used for pickling vegetables or fish in jars so I’m storing more than I bargained for this week.
It is related from ‘Umar (RA) that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Use olive oil in cooking and rubbing (on the body) because it is from a blessed tree” (Hadith 150).
I’m amazed at what a difference it makes having no other oils or butter at hand when cooking. It contains good fats, and so olive oil mayonnaise is also a happy alternative.
Lunch is now a single sandwich, but filled with enough nutrients to make me glow. Seeded bread spread with olive oil mayonnaise, goats’ cheese and tomatoes: this is gourmet food!
I’ve devised a cunning idea to make dinner not look as sparse as it seems; in one word: Tapas! The Spanish dinner you don’t have to cook: pots of marinated vegetables, olives, and cheeses with bread that you dip in and out of things. Pickled artichoke hearts in vinegar is not so bad with seeded bread. Throw in some sun-dried tomatoes and you have quick-fix pizza. Pickled fish is my new discovery; I never knew how much anchovies where used by the Italians until I tried pasta puttanesca, pasta with fat olives, anchovies, chopped tomatoes and olive oil, assembled in minutes and reminiscent of sitting in an Italian restaurant with steam rising from the plate.
Week 4: Gourds and Fowl
Jaabir bin Taariq (RA) said: “I attended the assembly of Rasulullah (SAW). I observed, they were busy cutting a gourd into pieces. I inquired: ‘What shall be made of this?’ He replied: ‘It will add to our food’“ (Hadith 152).
Gourds are the marrow-family vegetables including cucumber, pumpkin, courgette and squashes. In England, many of these are grown and available from October onwards and most we are quite familiar with; courgette is wonderful in ratatouille, cucumber in salad and pumpkin in pies and soups. The butternut squash is new to me, so I tried a vegetarian lasagne with red onions in the mix. Squash is exactly what you need in the autumn; roasted with some salt it can be added to risotto, used in place of potatoes in a curry or simply turned into mash.
Zahdam Al-Jarmi (RA) said, “we were present in the assembly of Abu Musa Ash’ari (RA). Fowl meat was served for food. A person from among those present, moved back. Abu Musa (RA) asked him the reason. He replied: ‘I had seen the fowl eat something (dirty) so I swore an oath that I will not eat it.’ Abu Musa (RA) said: ‘In that case, I had seen Rasulullah (SAW) eat the meat of a fowl’” (Hadith 146).
Fridays are special as my husband likes it if we don’t eat meat except for this day, it’s the only time in the week I have a family affair with roast chicken or cottage pie. I can now see that, left to my own devices, I was baffled with what to eat and how to be more healthy. I’ve lost half a stone in a month; without a rigid plan or even needing to try.
I can see from the ahadith that I’ve been looking at, that the Prophet’s (SAW) diet was not as meagre as I’d imagined. There is a great variety of colour, fibre and vitamins in different types of food that was the custom of the time. Meat was not everything, and nor was subsistence on dates and milk; the only pattern we can find is that the Prophet (SAW) didn’t eat the same for two days: he listened to his body.
I am buying vegetables according to the seasons, which is one step away from growing my own but a learning experience nevertheless. There are vegetables and fruits that grow in this country that the Prophet (SAW) enjoyed; herbs such as dill and parsley. I’m appreciative of each season as there are new ingredients to tinker with and dinner doesn’t have to come out of a jar or a tin anymore. Granted it is harder work preparing and testing foods, but it is the stuff of life; we have been entreated to eat what is halal and good for us; and this not only gives us fresher nutrients and simpler habits, but we assist and blend into the natural world around us.
Rabia’ Barkatulla is a freelance writer and Arabic language teacher who read Arabic and Arabic Cultural Studies at the School Of Oriental and African Studies and is currently studying English Literature at Oxford University. Rabia’ has taught for the Ibn Jabal Institute in London, and continues to teach at the Ribat Institute in Surrey.
Is it permissible for a Muslim man to wear his shirt tucked in his pants, showing the shape of his legs, buttocks, etc., especially in some countries where women are not ashamed to look at them? And when they perform prayer, shouldn’t they be wearing a long shirt covering their private parts while they prostrate?
Praise be to Allah.
The `awrah (private parts to be necessarily covered) for men includes what is between the navel and the knees as stated by the Prophet SAWS (peace be upon him), so covering it is obligatory according to Islamic law. Wearing shorts that disclose the thighs or show the shape of the buttocks, does not cover the `awrah. Neither does a dress that is transparent and displays skin complexion, nor a tight dress that shows the size, shape or bends of the `awrah. All of this is prohibited (haraam) in front of people whether the women are ashamed of looking at it or not (as asked in the question). If the trousers (or pants) are wide enough and not tight, then one may tuck his shirt in it as long as it does not display his `awrah. Covering the `awrah is obligatory during the prayer and outside it. What many people do is cover their `awrah while going to prayer but are negligent of it outside the prayer. This is a clear mistake and a wrong act which happens due to lack of understanding or as a result of a misunderstanding of the matter.
May Allah cover our sins in this world and in the hereafter.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
To what extent can the husband tell his wife what to do? Can he use force to make her do something, no matter how trivial?
To what extent can the husband tell his wife what to do? Can he use his power to tell his wife to do whatever, even if its regarding a small matter?
Praise be to Allah
Allah, may He be glorified, has instructed men to live with their wives honourably, even if they dislike them. He, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good”
Imam at-Tabari (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Live with them honourably, even if you dislike them, for perhaps if you dislike them but you keep them, Allah may bring about a great deal of good through your keeping them despite your disliking them, such as children with whom He blesses you through them, or making you compassionate towards them after having disliked them.
Tafseer at-Tabari (8/122)
Mercy, compassion and kindness are the characteristics of the believers who follow the example of their Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), whose Lord described him as follows (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is) full of pity, kind, and merciful”
Muslim narrated in his Saheeh (2594) from ‘Aa’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no kindness in a thing but it adorns it, and it is not taken away from a thing but it makes it defective.”
Muslim also narrated (19) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to Ashajj ‘Abd al-Qays: “You possess two qualities that Allah loves: forbearance and deliberation.”
When Allah, may He be exalted, sent His two slaves and Messengers, Moosa and Haroon, to His enemy Pharaoh, He instructed them to speak mildly and gently to him:
“Go, both of you, to Firaun (Pharaoh), verily, he has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience and behaved as an arrogant and as a tyrant).
And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah”
[Ta-Ha 20:43, 44].
Islam is the gentle, pure monotheism with which the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was sent. His characteristics included gentleness, compassion and kindness, and one of the most deserving of people to be treated in such a manner is one’s wife, with whom Allah, may He be exalted, has instructed the husband to live honourably, and kindness is part of what is honourable and right; in fact it is one of the most important aspects of what is honourable and right.
Thus we know that when the husband tells his wife to do something, it must be within a framework of compassion and kindness, and that which will preserve the nature of the marital relationship which Allah, may He be exalted, has ordained should be based on love and compassion.
But if the wife neglects one of the rights of Allah, may He be exalted, or one of the rights of her husband, and persists in that despite her husband’s advising her, then in that case she is regarded as defiantly disobedient, and the husband may deal with her in accordance with what Allah, may He be exalted, has prescribed in the case of defiant disobedience, which includes exhortation, shunning her in bed, and hitting lightly without causing pain or injury.
The wife should understand that by being defiantly disobedient, her right to maintenance and a share of her husband’s time (in the case of plural marriage), and all the shar‘i rights that Allah, may He be exalted, has ordained that she has over her husband, are suspended. For more information, please see fatwa no.33597
If what the wife is doing is clearly evil and wrong, and the husband is able to change this evil, even by force, then he should do so, so long as that will not result in a greater evil or serious trouble.
For example, if she goes out wearing adornment, and he is able to force her to observe shar‘i hijab, even by force, let him do so, so long as that will not lead to a greater evil or serious trouble, because denouncing evil is obligatory in general terms, and it may occasionally be an individual obligation for some people.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said: Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong may be an individual obligation, in the case of one who sees an evil, if there is no one else to denounce it and he is able to do so. In that case, it is an individual obligation upon him to denounce it, because there is a great deal of established proof to that effect, one of the clearest examples of which is the words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): “Whoever among you sees an evil action, then let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh. End quote.
Fataawa ash-Shaykh Ibn Baaz (3/212)
With regard to minor issues, as mentioned in the question and described as small matters, they should not be the concern of either spouse, rather they should be overlooked so that family life will run smoothly. Otherwise, if each spouse causes a problem with the other because of such matters, life will turn into a living hell.
It is well-known that there will inevitably be differences between the spouses concerning many matters. The wise person is the one who overlooks minor matters and reduces areas of conflict as much as possible.
We ask Allah to set straight the affairs of the Muslims.
And Allah knows best.
In the name of Allāh, all praise is for Allāh, and may His peace and blessings be upon His final Messenger Muhammad sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam.
Over the last century Muslims have become an indispensible part of the landscape of the United Kingdom. The successful integration of Muslims in the UK whilst being faithful to their religion and identity has been exemplary. This integration has involved the creation of important institutions for the preservation of their identity and īmān, as well as to serve the wider society. Among such social institution are Sharia councils, which have been serving the community for decades. Sharia councils in the UK are in fact envied across Europe where extreme xenophobia and racism prevents the integration and flourishing of Muslims and their social institutions, particularly due to the plethora of problems they solve daily.
However, it is unfortunate that the flourishing of well-integrated Muslim communities has been met with increasing hostility over the last few decades by some non-Muslims. Sharia councils have been one of the many targets of the Islamic identity in the UK by this vocal few. The perennial attacks on Islamic Sharia councils in the UK and Europe are a prime example of the unfortunate combination of the hatred of a small number of ideologues with power and influence, and the remarkably shallow intellects of those who swallow their Islamophobic propaganda. Sadly the former have unique, unchallenged access to the tabloid-style media primarily consumed by the latter.
Had there been a fair and accurate representation of these councils, such attacks would only be carried out by the most ignorant or hateful of Islamophobes, as I believe the general public would not that easily be duped. This article therefore aims to clarify some of the misconceptions deliberately propagated about Islamic Sharia councils. It is also intended to help Muslims themselves appreciate the importance of such public bodies to protect Islamic identity in the western world for generations to come.
What are Islamic Sharia councils?
Islamic Sharia councils are also referred to as fatwa councils or Muslim arbitration services. Despite popular right-wing rhetoric and conspiracy theories, they are not courts. They are organisations established by a number of Muslim scholars and Imams to deal largely with matrimonial issues presented to them voluntarily by Muslims.
Some of them are registered charities; some of them are not-for-profit companies. The decisions they make are not binding under English law. This is a key fact often deliberately overlooked by those seeking to create fear and anxiety about some kind of “parallel legal system” lurking in the shadows, “creeping sharia” or the “Islamisation of Europe” conspiracies. From an English law perspective, they are a purely voluntary medium for people to resolve disputes, catered for in the Arbitration Act 1996.
It should be noted that the Arbitration Act 1996 does not cover family law, only civil law. This means that the decisions Sharia councils make are not even binding in family matters such as custody of children. The criticism of these councils for decisions that are purely voluntary and perfectly legal is thus desperate, bordering on absurd. What are the antagonists of Sharia councils really afraid of?
Why do Muslims need Sharia councils?
Muslims by their nature are attached to Islām and loyal to it. Therefore Sharia councils receive legitimacy through the acceptance of their judgements by the Muslim masses, because they judge between disputes according to Islām. Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ālā):
“But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.”
“And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.”
This is indeed why authoritarian regimes and colonising powers throughout history have struggled with and prioritised the destruction of Sharia systems in the Muslim world and beyond. Whilst they give ultimate sovereignty to Allāh, authority remains with the people in highly devolved social and judicial systems empowered by their widespread acceptance—an obvious obstacle to colonisation and other forms of totalitarianism. This may be one reason for the opposition to Sharia councils today by those seeking to get rid of any obstacles to today’s hierarchical power structures; but this is a tangent that cannot be given justice here.
The fact of the matter is that Muslims have personal religious commitments and contracts that legal courts cannot cater for without a body like Sharia councils. Muslims living in countries that do not have Sharia councils suffer greatly if they find themselves in need of their services. I often travel to such countries in Europe and every time I do so I receive a large number of cases mainly from women who want to come out of their Islamic marriages but there is no one there to help them. Imams in those countries are afraid to carry out this function due to the xenophobia and smears against Sharia councils we are familiar with; and the legal courts cannot help those women either in their Islamic marriages.
In fact, I have recently come across two cases in a European country wherein a judge presiding over a civil divorce case between Muslims, demanded the husband to utter “talāq” who refused to grant it to his wife. Although the legal marriage in that country was dissolved and no longer recognised, the judges admitted that they have no ability to dissolve the Islamic contract between them in the absence of an Islamic scholar. Where do such women go if there are no Sharia councils?
It is not just the thousands of women seeking Islamic divorces that require Sharia councils. Often there are issues where the wali (Islamic guardian) is absent or an evil person, or unjustly preventing the sister from getting married. Many people also attend Sharia councils to solve financial disputes pertaining to contracts, wills, businesses and so on. They find Sharia councils much more effective, easier and cheaper to solve such disputes, as well as more faithful to the higher moral principles of their religion. Incidentally, due to such easy access to just arbitration it is no surprise that even non-Muslims are increasingly making use of such services. The overarching point is that these bodies play a crucial role in preserving the Muslims’ Islamic identity in the West. If Muslims living in western countries are to be treated as equal citizens then their needs should be looked after and not be subjected to the usual irrational, xenophobic smears.
Do Sharia councils oppress women?
In my experience the vast majority of people who benefit from Sharia councils are women, making up more than 80% of the people who use them. Since the vast majority that attend Sharia councils seeking resolutions are women, and since they do so voluntarily, it is foolish to smear Sharia councils generally with the accusation of being oppressive towards women. Such attacks also show the astonishingly patronising view of Muslim women that we have seen time and time again from those that criticise Islām or Muslims; our sisters have been more than capable in refuting such foolish stereotypes.
If women were truly oppressed by Sharia councils then why would they insist on going to them, when there is no legal force for them to do so? Why would the thousands of women who seek their services claim they are benefiting from those bodies? This challenge has been put plainly to many of the ideologists and policy makers that are attempting to ban Sharia councils, and after all attempts at a rational response have been exhausted, their explanation boils down to one of two things: (i) those women who insist on coming to Sharia courts are somehow ignorant and foolish of what benefits and harms them (and by implication, the right-wing politicians know what is best for them); or (ii) women who attend Sharia councils are forced to do so because of family or peer pressure.
Whilst the first does not require a response, the fallacy of the second justification for opposition to Sharia councils may require some exposure. If someone is pressured or forced against their will to do something or attend a particular place, then it is absurd to close down the place as a result. People might be socially pressured into going to a variety of places they would not otherwise go; the answer is to attack the peer pressure and empower the individuals being pressured, not to close down every place a person may happen to be pressured into going to. Would these great part-time bastions of women’s rights suggest we close down any place that some people might be pressured into going into by their peers?
These people ignore the fact that the vast majority of people who do attend do so out of their own volition, which is often explicitly enquired as to by the Sharia councils themselves. We sometimes see some so-called “journalists” with a clear ideology attend Sharia councils for one or two afternoons and make generalised pronouncements about “women forced to stay in marriages against their will” or other such ludicrous headlines. To blow exceptions out of proportion and actively ignore statistical significance to suit ones ideology is the essence of bigotry.
Do they discriminate against women?
It would be unfair to paint all criticism of Sharia with the same brush. Some people who do not harbour an ideological hatred of Islām or Muslims may still find themselves criticising Islām because of the common problem of interpreting one worldview through the lens of another. This is one of the greatest challenges when articulating Islām in the 21st century western world.
In the western world, due to its long history of men’s oppression and hatred towards women, those who fail to exercise diligence may interpret any kind of distinction between the two sexes as oppressive towards women. Even when men and women are treated the same, such as where there are separate public places suggested for men and women, such people will automatically presume it is discriminatory against women, rather than it being the other way around.
Islamic values, beliefs and practices should not be tainted with such historical baggage that does not belong to Islām. Islām acknowledges that there are substantive differences between the sexes and thus this is reflected in their rights and responsibilities. Thus the literal interpretation of “equality” in the mathematical sense, does not apply in Islamic notions of men and women. Men and women in Islām complement each other through their differences rather than compete with one another. Although this is not the purpose of this article, it should not be ignored.
“And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing.”
The crucial point to note is that regardless of the arrogance of those who believe they know what is better for Muslim women than they do themselves, the fact of the matter is countless Muslim women as well as men testify for the crucial need for Sharia councils.
What is the alternative?
Sharia councils are not perfect, by virtue of being part of human life. However, in their absence the burden of their vital work will fall on individual Imams and scholars. Great pains were taken by the architects of Islamic jurisprudence to reduce to near zero the potential for human desires and error to hamper the justice of the Sharia. This includes having a high degree of scrutiny and accountability between scholars.
If Sharia councils are banned under the pretext of protecting vulnerable women or preventing some kind of secret Islamic takeover, then individual Imams who are not part of public institutions that are transparent and accountable, will have to consider cases and disputes individually. This will increase the potential for human error and misuse. Furthermore, in European countries that effectively ban these vital services, we have even heard of vulnerable brothers and sisters having to go abroad in order to have their problems solved. What is better, that they refer to local scholars who understand their context or that they refer to scholars thousands of miles away in a completely different social setting and law?
Whatever arguments that those who wish to close down Sharia councils bring, one thing is certain. Regarding those countless men and women who continue to request the services of Sharia councils daily, as long as Allāh wills, we will never turn them away.
“He sends down from the sky, rain, and valleys flow according to their capacity, and the torrent carries a rising foam. And from that [ore] which they heat in the fire, desiring adornments and utensils, is a foam like it. Thus Allah presents [the example of] truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it vanishes, [being] cast off; but as for that which benefits the people, it remains on the earth. Thus does Allah present examples.”
And Allāh knows best
 Al-Qur’ān 4:65
 Al-Qur’ān 5:48
 Al-Qur’ān 4:32
 Al-Qur’an 13:17
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We all want to be loved and know what that love means to us and would look like practically if we we think about it deeply enough. We also assume before marriage that others wish to be loved as we want to be loved, in the same way as ourselves.
Then the arguments started…
The truth is the way we want others to show us affection in our marriage is not always the same as they wish us to show them affection and that understanding these different love languages, becoming fluent in the love language of our spouses is one of the easiest ways of pleasing them and being good to him or her.
the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa salam) said: “The most perfect of the Believers in faith is the best of them in character and the best of you in character is he who is best to his family.”
Reported by Abu Hurayrah and collected by Ahmad and Tirmidhi and authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani in Sahih Sunan at-Tirmidhi
Though written by a non-Muslim, ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman is one of the best books I’ve seen written on this subject and something every Muslim couple should have on their book shelf.
Prophet Muhammad (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said, “the best amongst you are the ones who are best to their wives.” So dear Muslim brother! Your obligations towards your wife are not limited to earning money and supporting her financially. A wife needs love from her husband, and emotional support to!
Note: Additions in brackets are notes from a sister.
Prepared by Muhammad Alshareef, reprinted from Islamway.com.
Dress up for your wife, look clean and smell good. When was the last time us men went shopping for designer pajamas? Just like the husband wants his wife to look nice for him, she also wants her husband to dress up for her too. Remember that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would always start with Miswak when returning home and always loved the sweetest smells.
(Dress up for your wife when you are at home also. Some brothers only dress up when they go out and that is not a good practice. A husband should dress up for his wife when they are at home. it makes a wife feel special.)
Use the cutest names for your wife. Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) had nicknames for his wives, ones that they loved. Call your wife by the most beloved names to her, and avoid using names that hurt their feelings.
(Remember, you are your wife’s only boyfriend, and her only best friend.She does not go out seeking boyfriends and she shares a halal relationship with you. Love her unconditionally for the sake of Allah. And express your love to her. A woman likes to be told that she is loved. Call her from your work to make sure she is doing fine. I have seen my dad calling my mother several times a day, just to make sure she has been eating well. And my husband calls me at least twice from work to make sure I am doing well. These things are very important in a relationship.)
Don’t treat her like a fly. We never think about a fly in our daily lives until it ‘bugs’ us. Similarly, a wife will do well all day – which brings no attention from the husband – until she does something to ‘bug’ him. Don’t treat her like this; recognize all the good that she does and focus on that.
(Whenever there is a fight or argument, just remember all the things she does for you. she cooks for you, she takes care of your home, she takes care of your children and the most important thing is that she guards her modesty. So do not upset her if she is upset with you. Hold her and tell her that you love her. Only your love can repel her anger. Communicate with her and discuss with her if there are any misunderstandings.)
If you see wrong from your wife, try being silent and do not comment! This is one of the ways Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) used when he would see something inappropriate from his wives (رضالله عنهنّ). It’s a technique that few Muslim men have mastered.
(Do not criticize her all the time. Trust her and trust her decisions. If she is doing something that you don’t like, or that goes against the teachings of Islam, then do advice her gently.)
Smile at your wife whenever you see her and embrace her often. Smiling is Sadaqah and your wife is not exempt from the Muslim Ummah. Imagine life with her constantly seeing you smiling. Remember also those Ahadith when Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would kiss his wife before leaving for Salah, even if he was fasting.
(Do let your wife know that you are very happy and blessed to have her. A wife always wonder how her husband feels about her. She may have some insecurity about you, so make her feel secure. Always give her a hug whenever you come back from work. appreciate her and thank her for taking care of everything whole day. If you are not too tired, go out for star gazing for an hour or so.)
Thank her for all that she does for you. Then thank her again! Take for example a dinner at your house. She makes the food, cleans the home, and a dozen other tasks to prepare. And sometimes the only acknowledgment she receives is that there needed to be more salt in the soup. Don’t let that be; thank her!
(Write thank you notes for her and place those notes in her books, her purse, her socks, and anything else that belongs to her. You can use your own creativity to thank her. You can thank her by writing something on a mirror with her lipstick, so that she can read it when she wakes up in the morning. You can also thank her by arranging a candlelight dinner AT HOME, you be the cook and let her rest. So far I have learned that a nice romantic dinner at home is much better than going out for dinner. This way a couple saves themselves from many fitnahs. You can thank her by writing her letters and emails. Remember, in Islam, everyday is special. So celebrate wife’s day with her, and do it very often without having a particular date. She will always wonder when the wife’s day is going to be.
You can also give her a certificate of appreciation, or a Best Wife Award on wife’s day. Do everything by yourself that day and let her rest, this way you will also know how difficult it could be to do household chores. Thank her by building a webpage for her, write a note there and a poem and then ask her to visit your webpage. Thank her by recording a voice message on a cd for your wife. She will love it!
Thank her by giving her a gift, and a gift does not have to be expensive. Be creative! You do not have to give her Roses, you can give her a leaf too! (My husband gave me a leaf once, instead of roses, and I was very happy and surprised, and I appreciated his creativity). So remember, thoughtful and creative gifts makes a wife feel secure and happy. Thank her by ordering a halal pizza for her, ask the restaurant to cut it in a heart shape and have it delivered with a personalized note. Thank her by thanking her in a family gathering. A woman likes it when her husband gives her attention.
If you visit her parents or your parents, hold her hands and tell your parents how happy you are after marriage. Give your wife an Islamic book as a gift after praying Tahajjud. Use your imagination and think about unique gifts.Remember, she does not need a diamond, she needs your sincerity and your heart, so always give her the gifts that are thoughtful. Whenever you do something to make her happy, observe her facial expressions and ask yourself about how you feel when you become her happiness.)
Ask her to write down the last ten things you did for her that made her happy. Then go and do them again. It may be hard to recognize what gives your wife pleasure. You don’t have to play a guessing game–ask her and work on repeating those things in your life.
(Also ask her to write down the things you did that she did not like, or the things you did that made her unhappy. Try to not do those things in future. If she falls ill, let her lay down, and read different surahs from Qur’an while placing your hand on her forehead. When I got sick, my husband recited Qur’an for me, it really helped a lot mashaAllah. Remember, a wife needs her husband the most when she is not feeling well. Take good care of her because a healthy wife makes a healthy family. Do not expect too much from her when she is sick.)
Don’t belittle her desires. Comfort her. Sometimes the men may look down upon the requests of their wives. Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) set the example for us in an incident when Safiyyah (رضالله عنها) was crying because, as she said, he had put her on a slow camel. He wiped her tears, comforted her, and brought her the camel.
(If there is a time of sadness, give her your shoulder to cry on. Hold her and tell her that everything will be fine. Alhamdulillah, my husband and my dad are amongst those Muslim husbands who would even have tears in their eyes if their wives are sad. Remember, a woman does not like to cry alone in a corner. She needs someone to hold her when she is sad, so never let her feel lonely. Remind her the verses from Qur’an that talks about Patience and Piety.)
Be humorous and play games with your wife. Look at how Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) would race his wife Aisha (رضالله عنها) in the desert. When was the last time we did something like that?
(A sense of humor plays a very important role in a marital relationship. Most women wish to have a husband who has a good sense of humor. Tell her decent and modest jokes that make her happy. A wife appreciates it very much if her husband makes her smile. You can play various games at home. Play with crayons, or have a pillow fight. Or hide different notes in your bedroom and ask her to find it. Think of different games you can both play. Let her win sometimes!
Adopt interesting hobbies, such as reading, cooking together and gardening (grow a surprise rose plant in your garden, when you have the first rose blooming, take her to the garden and show it to her. Newspaper and Sports Issue! Men like to watch sports, or read newspaper. Most Pakistani wives consider newspaper as their co-wives. So be very careful. If you are watching sports, turn the TV off if your wife comes around. Give her attention. Do not spend too much time reading newspaper, and do not read newspaper on the breakfast table, rather have an Islamic discussion. If you want to get her to like newspaper, then try to find something that interests her. Such as, try to find a news about Hijab. Or try to find a news about Muslim women for her.)
Always remember the words of Allah’s Messenger (صلي الله عليه وسلم): “The best of you are those who treat their families the best. And I am the best amongst you to my family.” Try to be the best! In conclusion: Never forget to make Dua to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) to make your marriage successful. And Allah ta’ala knows best!
(And once again: your wife is your best friend, and your girlfriend. Share everything with her. Remember she is your garment and you are her garment, so hide her faults and mistakes. Learn to forgive her. Also communicate a lot with her family. It really makes a difference if husband communicates with his in laws. It helps both husband’s and wife’s family to share a beautiful relationship. Respect her parents and show your love to her family. This will inspire her to love and respect your family. If her family is not muslim, do dawah to them in a beautiful way.)
Spend lots of time praying to Allah swt. Do fast often even if it is not Ramadan. Fasting brings patience and taqwah. Lead her in the prayer. There is nothing better than praying together. Remember Allah, so that Allah remembers you.
May Allah bless us and guide us all. Ameen!
Asim Qureshi reviews the book, Unsettling Sikh and Muslim Conflict by Dr Katy Sian
“I wonder what happened to her? I think the last I heard was that she was in Pakistan…”
At the centre of Dr Katy Sian’s book, Unsettling Sikh and Muslim Conflict, lies the question of Sikh identity, and particularly, what being Sikhni means in modern day Britain. Sian effectively charts how Sikhs in the UK have largely built an identity that is based on the politics, history, folklore and myths surrounding their intersection with Muslim communities dating back to their formation during the Mughal period of India.
Sian charts every day interactions within the Sikh community and found what was manifest were the Islamophobic narratives about who Muslims are, and the extent to which they pose a problem. The quote above from her prologue tells a familiar story within Sikh communities, of Sikhni girls who fall in love with Muslim boys and eventually end up being sold into a life of forced prostitution in Pakistan. The work is filled with a number of anecdotes from those she interviews, but is also interspersed with her own experiences. One example of the casual Islamophobia she encounters comes at the very beginning of her first chapter, where at a family gathering an acquaintance remarks,
“…it’s the Muslims who have caused all the problems in the world…We need to shoot all the Pakis!”
While the above sentiment may perhaps represent the strongest manifestation of anti-Muslim responses within the book, it is the consistency with which Sian presents the formation of Sikh identity as a response to Muslims that is particularly stark. Although she successfully charts how British colonial treatment of Sikhs as a martial race, and Hindu massacres against them, very much informed their trajectory of their development as a people, it is still Muslims that are chief among their concern. What is missing however, within the Sikh narrative, is the extent to which British colonialism and Hindu nationalism has impacted them both culturally and politically, and how those constructions have fed into their positioning of Sikhs within the diaspora,
“Diasporic Sikhs share with Muslims similar instances of being constructed by the West as a problematic community; for example, following the attack of 1984 the agitation of Sikhs in the quest for a separatist state created global arousal whereby Sikhs became intrinsically linked with terrorism…In the British context, the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s saw persisting campaigns concerning Sikh dress code, particularly with cases of the turban and the possession of the kirpan; such activity pioneered British multiculturalism. Given the homologies between Muslim and Sikh diasporic conditions, the question arises of why Sikhs appear so invested in distancing themselves – in primarily antagonistic terms – from Muslims in postcolonial Britain.”
The interviews conducted by Katy Sian highlight an intergenerational narrative of trauma that runs linearly from Mughal responses to the emergence of Sikhism in 1469 to the violence of partition in 1947 all the way to fears around Muslim ‘extremism’ in the UK. The largest part of that narrative revolves around forced conversions, the martyrdom of the Sikh men who resisted those conversions, and the bemoaning of the Sikh women lost to those conversions. When Gayatri Spivak wrote her seminal essay Can the Subaltern Speak? she referred to white men saving brown women from brown men. In a strange form of colonised narratives, Sikh views towards Muslims seem to reflect that view, except to contextualise it to their own environment, where Sikh men are saving Sikh women from Muslim men,
“…when a Sikh man, Mangal Singh, reflected on his experiences he talked of how he and his two brothers chose to kill or, rather, martyr the women in his family to escape conversion to Islam. ‘“We had to do this”, he told me “because otherwise they would have been converted.””
It is in a post-9/11 environment in particular, that the conflict between Sikhs and Muslims has magnified. Not only are Sikhs being attacked due to mistakes by racists in who they are attacking, but the prevailing internal narrative within Sikh communities has meant that they have come to view Muslims as being different, external, a community not capable of integrating into British society as they have.
While some of these narratives remain internal to Sikh dialogue about Muslims, there are increasing ways in which aggressions and micro-aggressions play out externally. Even in universities, literature was distributed among Sikhs warning specifically of how members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir would pretend to be Sikh, become boyfriends to Sikh girls, and forcefully convert them to Islām before selling them, in a completely fabricated scenario. Sian recounts a meeting she attended between Sikh leaders and the Metropolitan police where such issues were raised, but no actual evidence could be produced,
“In relation to the police meeting on the topic we can see the same narrative structure of the threat, or rather the fear, of the Muslim being articulated. Moreover the views expressed at the police meeting support the hegemony of such a narrative that is evidently embedded within the Sikh community. The meeting proved significant for a number of reasons. I attended the meeting to find out more about the general issues affecting the Sikh community, but on closer inspection political logics were in play throughout the whole meeting. Let me elaborate. First, the police starting the meeting with discussion of the terror threat level in the UK seemed perplexing. By starting a meeting to discuss Sikh issues with the terror level, the Sikh community representatives shaped the following discussions, which were all centered upon Sikhs against Muslims, or “friends” against the “enemies.””
Dr Katy Sian is ultimately showing, that a securitisation and also a ‘westernisation’ of the Sikh identity discourse has organically developed old colonial logics into a new threat within the discourse around British Asians. Such a discourse creates a conflict that is reductive and nearly entirely based upon myth, rather than facts. Of greatest concern is how such a discourse plays into the structural racism and hegemony of the state as it seeks to control communities and, even at times, to keep them in conflict with one another. Such a context cannot be ignored, for it sits at the heart of how we engage with one another in a neo-colonial Britain, and also how we also engage with our own conceptions of identity and dissent against a structural form of assimilation.
What Sian does not delve into is what this story means from the perspective of Muslims. In a neo-colonial world where post-colonial thinking is restricted largely to academia and activism, how can Muslims begin to understand intersectionality so that the struggles of others become their own. It may be controversial for some Muslims to hear, but when Sikhs are attacked for being Muslim, when an Ahmadi mosque is made victim of an arson attack and when Jean Charles de Menezes is shot in the back of his head, these are issues that the majority of Sunni and Shia Muslims must take on because, in actual fact, they are not only manifestations of racism, but manifestations of Islamophobia.
Dr Sian’s book, ‘Unsettling Sikh and Muslim Conflict’ can be purchased here
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“Are you serious?” my husband looked at me, amazed, as if I had asked for the most unusual thing in the world. I had just asked the waiter, at a fine dining restaurant, if I could take home the empty clay pot that contained the biryaani we had relished minutes ago. My husband had flatly refused to ask the waiter himself, suggesting that he’d buy one for me from the market instead. However, I wanted this biryaani pot because, apart from it being a reminder of the wonderful dinner we had just had, it would also be a good way to recycle.
My interest in clay pots began this summer while vacationing in India. It all started with some cold lassi – a traditional milk and yoghurt drink – served in clay tumblers. While most people would usually just discard the clay container afterwards, I brought it home with me to reuse, and have since been collecting earthenware.
The tradition of pottery in the Asian subcontinent is as old as human civilisation itself and is considered a sensual art form, identified with the feminine qualities of grace and delicacy. During early times, each village had its own potter, who held a respectable place in society because they made a myriad of articles used in the regular household. An example is the clay-made piggy bank that children used to have. This only had a one-way slot for coin insertion so that when the piggy bank was full, the custom was to smash it on the ground and retrieve the collected money.
The main use of clay pottery, however, was for making cooking vessels. These clay pots worked best for dishes that require cooking on a low heat for hours, like mutton curry, goats’ trotters, black lentil curry, etc. Hyderabad, India, is famous for its ‘dum ki biryaani’ that is slow cooked in a huge clay pot. In some parts of India and Bangladesh, there is a special, heavily-spiced fish curry that is cooked only in earthen cauldrons. In Pakistan, women prepare and store pickles in clay jars. Sweets like kheer – rice pudding – is also set, chilled and served in clay bowls.
Cooking in clay pots is a great way to add flavour and reduce fat in our diet. Unlike vessels of other materials, food cooked in clay pots is less likely to stick – thus reducing the need for more oils. The pot is always soaked in water for at least fifteen minutes before use so that it is saturated with water and because clay is a porous material, steam evaporates slowly when it is heated in the oven. During cooking, the food inside the clay pot releases liquid and cooks in its own juices. These juices remain sealed inside the pot until it is completely dry – which is around the time the food has cooked completely – hence adding to the flavour.
With the arrival of modern cooking vessels like non-stick pots, casseroles and pressure cookers, clay pots slowly disappeared from households. Besides, with the fast pace of today’s lifestyle, the slow cooking process in clay pots became quite an inconvenience.
However, it’s nice to see that efforts are being made to rediscover and revive the use of clay pots today, especially in high-end restaurants where food is served in earthenware. There are several advantages to bringing the ancient cooking vessel back: healthy food, being environmentally-friendly, a touch of tradition, jobs for potters and aesthetics (yes, food served in a clay pot is very appealing). In fact, it has gained so much popularity that some restaurants are giving decorative token clay pots for desserts! Finding food served in clay pots in India or Pakistan is common, but I am pleasantly surprised to find them here in the U.A.E – like biryaani, desserts and even tea!
I make an effort to use clay pots regularly because of the health benefits, added flavours and for being eco-friendly. Of course, another important factor is that I take a lot of food pictures for my blog and I know that serving them in traditional clay pots will make the presentation even better. Now, whenever we dine in a restaurant that serves in clay pots, I try to ask the staff if I can take the pot home, and they almost always agree. As a result, I am now the proud owner of six clay cups for tea, two clay bowls for sweets and one gorgeous handi or round-bellied clay pot in my collection – all of them complimentary tokens from restaurants! As much as I love cooking and serving food in them, family members and guests are equally delighted to experience eating out of a clay pot.
Nadia Masood lives in Dubai, UAE and writes about travel, food and photography on her website http://nadiamasood.com.