Islam

A Peaceful Home

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Maha Khan, London

With the world becoming devastatingly divided and fuelled by xenophobia, one becomes fearful of raising a family in such environments and wishes to instil peace in the world, little by little.

We wonder how and where to begin, searching for answers as to why the world is this way. Like many things in life we should begin by tracing the root of the matter, the source of hatred and absence of peace witnessed these days. We must look deeply into the psyche of the human race beginning with childhood. When ‘childhood’ is mentioned, many emotions spring to mind, however one factor shared amongst all children is the memories attached to the childhood home – and peace arguably starts at home.

Your first experience of peace, love, and patience starts from your parents who teach you by being the best possible examples. Muslims teach their children that the definition of peace requires having harmony between one’s desires and God’s commandments and exhibiting this harmony to others. For example, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) declared, ‘A Muslim is the one from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe.’ (Tirmidhi). Commenting on the Holy Qur’an (5:33), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), stated, ‘He who abandons kindness abandons religion. The Holy Qur’an teaches that whoever kills a person without justifiable cause will be as if he has killed the whole world. In the same way, I say that if someone is not kind unto his brother, it is like he has been unkind to the whole world.’ i

Echoing this, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the 5th and current Khalifa of the Promised Messiah stated during his 2004 tour of Benin, ‘The taking of a single life is like the massacre of thousands of innocent lives.; ii These teachings instil within children an empathy and sincere desire for the welfare of others. The ideal society, according to the Holy Qur’an, is Dar as-Salam (6:128 10:26), literally meaning, ‘house or abode of peace. Establishing this peace on earth establishes peace in everyday life at all levels, including personal, social, state and international. We can achieve peace within our households by practising simple tasks that help with the maintenance of harmony.

Keeping peace between husband and wife:

Husband and wife as life partners have great responsibilities and obligations. Both must have concern, love and compassion for each other. The Holy Qur’ān has given an excellent example of husband and wife in the following verse:

‘…They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them…’ (2:188)

Garments are used for three main purposes which echo the relationship between husband and wife. 1. To cover and protect oneself from extreme climatic conditions, etc. 2. To look civilised, nice and elegant. 3. To cover weaknesses, faults and blemishes.

Supplication:

The Holy Qur’an teaches us to make every effort in creating a happy environment at home and teaches prayers for the same:

‘…Our Lord, grant us of our wives and children the delight of our eyes and make each of us a leader of the righteous.’ (25: 75)

Those who are sincere in their prayers, and show exemplary behaviour, Allah answers their prayers and helps them to have a happy atmosphere at home.

Advice for men and women:

Ḥazrat Sayyidah Nusrat Jahan Begum (Ḥazrat Amman Jan), wife of, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) gave the following advice to her daughter, Ḥazrat Sayyidah Nawab Mubarakah Begum, at the time of her wedding.

• Never do a thing keeping it secret from your husband. Never do anything that you feel the need to hide from your husband! Even if the husband may not be observing, but God does see, and the wife loses her respect when the matter is disclosed at the end.

• If a thing is done against his wishes, never try to hide it. Inform him clearly, as that is the way to retain respect. To hide it leads to disgrace and disrespect.

• Do not argue with him when he is angry! If he is angry with you or a child or a servant, and you know that he is at fault, even then do not respond to him. When he calms down, then gently let him know the truth and make him realise his error. The woman who argues with her husband when he is angry loses her respect. It will be a great disgrace if he uses harsh words to her in his anger.

• Consider his dear ones and their children as your own dear ones. Never think of harming anyone even if he is doing wrong to you. You should have good will in your heart for all, and do not take any action in revenge against anyone. Then you will always behold God doing good to you. iii

Of course the husband should also observe these esteemed instructions for promotion of peace and harmony at home.

Attaining peace with oneself by being true:

I end with a quote by His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad, fourth spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

“Only when man becomes true can he find peace with himself… Truth is the most important fundamental first step towards peace and this is the meaning of becoming like God… Again, I will emphasise that this is the only formula for creating universality in man. Without creating universality in man it is impossible to dream of peace and this universality can only be achieved through the image of God which is universal. Through Him, man can achieve such characteristics as are universally loved so that the human community, the human race, can become a single species if the human race submits to the will of God and becomes or attempts to become like God. Herein meet the two different meanings of peace, that is, peace in the ordinary sense, and peace in the sense of submission.” iv

i https://www.alislam.org/islam/islam-peaceful-religion.pdf (page 4)
ii https://www.alislam.org/islam/islam-peaceful-religion.pdf (page 3)
iii https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Islamic-Teachings-on-Ideal-Family-Life.pdf (page 37)
iv https://www.alislam.org/library/q-and-a/attainment-of-inner-peace/

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Islam

The Wing of Humility

Wing of Humility

Basira Ajmal, Bournemouth

We are living in the 21st century with a plethora of rights. Every day on social media, TV, or on the street we witness individuals, groups or organizations labelled as activists proclaiming and working for a different set of rights; women rights, children rights, employee rights, free speech rights, refugee rights and so on. Mesmerized by the chiming resonance of this r-word, we often neglect the other more important r-word i.e. responsibilities. We forget the fact that rights cannot be established without the fulfilment of responsibilities. This basic principal is however fully ingrained in the beautiful and universal Islamic teachings. Islam extraordinarily granted all these rights to us about one and a half millennia ago but at the same time, for the implementation of all these rights, Islam fervently emphasizes on discharging one’s responsibilities towards our fellow beings. So where does this network of rights and responsibilities begin from? Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

Thy Lord has commanded, “Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with kind words.” “And lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness. And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in my childhood.’” (17:24-25)

These verses signify that after the duty towards God, our foremost and greatest responsibility is towards our parents—the first and the most important link of the network. It is incumbent upon children to love, obey and respect their parents. To provide an unambiguous criterion for the level of kindness we owe to our parents, the first verse elucidates with an example that when one or both of our parents reach an age of weakness and frailty while living with us, we should not spare them any act of kindness and we, must not despise or scorn them the least. At old age, when their behaviour sometimes gets challenging, we should not even utter the slightest expression of  disapproval. Instead, we should speak to them in a highly esteemed manner and treat them with reverent honour.

The expression, lower to them the wing of humility, reminds us of a bird which opens up its wings to provide shelter and protection to its offspring.  In the same way, Allah the Almighty has obligated us to cover our parents gently under our love, generosity and meekness by providing them with comfort and utmost care. Even after doing all this, we can still never fully repay the favours, love and sacrifices that our parents bore for us. Therefore, to make up the insufficiency, Allah instructs us to pray for them. The words of the prayer infer that in old age, parents need to be treated as obligingly and affectionately as children are looked after in their childhood. We are required to pray to Allah to bestow mercy and forgiveness on our parents. It is worth noting here that completely opposite to this before the advent of Islam, infanticide of female children was a common practice prevalent among Arabs. The birth of a daughter was considered a disrespect for the family and thus they were doomed to be buried alive. Islam, however, strongly condemned the killing of daughters as cited in the Holy Qur’an (81:9-10 & 16:59-60), and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) categorically adjured on good upbringing of daughters saying, ‘He who brings up two girls through their childhood will appear on the Day of Judgment attached to me like two fingers of a hand.’(Muslim). As Muslim women, we owe our lives and all our rights to Islam which admonished our parents against denying our rights. Thus, being daughters, we must also fulfill our duties towards our parents and show them gratitude as Allah the almighty says,

‘…Give thanks to Me and to thy parents. Unto Me is the final return.’ (31:15)

It is our task to cherish, obey and revere our parents with great forbearance. We need to lower our wing of humility onto them as they selflessly spent their lives bringing us up with care and compassion. If we love them, we will strive to please them and take delight to be in their company and find pleasure in spending time with them. We should consult them for advice on matters big and small and share with them our joys and blues. Having our parents with us is one of the greatest blessings of Allah, which we need to treasure and admire and we need to make them feel like a valuable part of our lives. We must never leave them helpless or God-forbid, abandoned. In fact we must practically manifest our commitment to them because nothing gives parents a feeling of higher content than an eminently dutiful child.

The system of rights and responsibilities is a reciprocal one. If we fully discharge our obligations towards our parents, only then can we expect our own children to fulfil our rights. Therefore, instead of focusing on attaining our rights, if we all start aiming to undertake and accomplish our responsibilities, the delivery of rights will become reflexive.

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My Jalsa Salana Down the Years

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

As long as I can remember there have been three occasions every year that I have almost always attended; there are the two Eid days which our UK community used to celebrate together and there is Jalsa Salana, the Annual Convention. Eid now takes place regionally or locally but Jalsa has not only remained as one national event, it has grown over the years until now a mini town springs up in the Hampshire countryside to accommodate 35,000 plus attendees.

Before Hadeeqatul Mahdi became its home, Jalsa took place for many years at Islamabad in Tilford, near Farnham. I would travel there with my family by coach or car and if we were late and had to park near the gate we’d lament the ‘long’ walk to the marquee; now the memory makes us laugh as the current marquee area, the Jalsa arena, is bigger than the whole of Islamabad and transport is a park and ride system from a different site!

Jalsa has always been an event which, due to its three full days of speeches, congregational Prayers and a sense of separation from the world, has an intense effect of spiritual rejuvenation and reaffirmation of one’s faith. The congregational pledge taken at the hand of His Holiness the Khalifa is an annual experience that shakes one to the core.

One bonus of Jalsa is meeting up with family and friends you would not otherwise see regularly from different parts of the country and the world. There have been years when every single room in our house, except the bathroom, had guests sleeping in it, including a line of mattresses set up in the front room for all the male guests, a line I have had to tiptoe across just to reach the fridge when returning in the early hours from working at Jalsa! It is hectic but the year Jalsa was cancelled due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease felt so lonesome as if we were missing out on a part of our life.

Other than family we have had guests that we didn’t know; one year a mother and daughter from Kababir stayed with us. Many years later the youngest daughter married and came to live in the area leading to an emotional reunion despite the fact she herself hadn’t been on that Jalsa trip with the rest of her family. It is a wonderful feeling that Jalsa brings you together with people you would not otherwise meet.

Another bonus of Jalsa is the opportunity to become part of the vast team of volunteers that help to run such a large event. Whether it is jobs such as stage design, camera work, hospitality, car park attendant or cooking, it is volunteers who carry out the work. Imagine cooking lunch and dinner for 30,000 people – all those onions and potatoes to chop and fresh roti (flatbreads) to make in hot kitchens in the middle of summer! Like all the other volunteers they receive no monetary reward but do this work purely to gain the pleasure of God.

It is the same for the army of children who cheerfully patrol the marquees with fresh water to quench the thirst of guests; their eagerness and smiles make one take a cup of water with or without thirst which leaves the children happy.

I’ve never worked in the kitchens at Jalsa but I have worked in a variety of other jobs, for example cleaning, setting up guest accommodation areas, hospitality and food stalls. I drove golf buggies transporting guests for three years in weather ranging from hot sunshine resulting in strange tan lines on my feet, to wet mud and freezing nights with the cold wind rushing through the open buggy leaving me chilled to the bone.

One particular Monday I was driving guests to catch their coaches to London after the Jalsa; it was my fifth day of working long hours and exhaustion was threatening to make an appearance. One family from USA asked me who our Lajna (women’s association) president was and when I told them they said they wanted to write to her to say thank you for the Lajna members working tirelessly and cheerfully to look after them. My exhaustion receded and I was thankful to be among those that had cared for Jalsa guests and sent them home happy.

This year my Jalsa has already begun by sending invitations to non-Muslim friends and contacts to join us and experience Jalsa. As well as that I have been planning for the Jalsa days, both the work I’ll be doing, guests that will stay with me and shopping. Supplies including sunscreen, wellies in case of rain and crisps have become family necessities!

However this Jalsa turns out I know I will be storing up more memories of my Jalsa experience.