The Voyage From the Mind to the Book and the Box Office

I am Asma Nadia, and my adventures are often told through the films and books that I’ve written. Thanks to Allah, I’ve written 70 bestsellers, 13 of which were made into films. 

Surga Yang Tak Dirindukan (A Forgotten Paradise) was a 2015 Indonesian film that sold over 1,500,000 tickets. 

Seven books were adapted into soap operas. 

Catatan Hati Seorang Istri (Heart Notes of a Wife) was the most popular soap opera in Indonesia in 2014. With a rating of 7.0 and a share of 32.3, it topped Nielsen Market ABC’s audience data. 

Modesty and Not A Crutch

Most people believe travelling requires deep pockets, but money is not the only means to fly. Your books and achievements can also be a means for you to fly further. Throughout my adventures as an author and traveller, one thing that struck me was that for Muslim women who wear hijabs, exploring the world is still relatively uncommon. I wrote #JilbabTraveler to encourage my fellow hijabis to put themselves out there and chart their paths, wherever they might lead them to. 

Scarves only cover their heads, not their minds.

Muslims, especially Muslim women in hijab need to realize that when they enter a country that is not predominantly Muslim, they can represent Islam just with their external appearance. When we do good, we get a glimmer of hope for promoting Islam along the way.

The Writing Journey

I decided to write ‘Jilbab Traveler Love Sparks in Korea’ which was published in 2015 – and was adapted into a movie in 2016. I’m happy to know this film along with ‘Loving an Average Man‘ are both available on Qalbox.

I grew up next to railroad tracks in Jakarta’s suburbs. My father, a songwriter, had no chart-topping singles so we struggled to eat. 

I had a concussion at age seven. When I went for a medical check-up, the result came in, and it felt like I was opening Pandora’s box. Thirteen teeth had to be extracted and the medical treatment took more time than my studies.

As waiting time at the hospitals was long, my mom would skip lunch to buy me books to kill time. When we got home from the store, my sister and I would unpack our groceries, arrange the newspaper pages, and start reading books. The pockets of time used to read books sparked my interest in reading and writing.

I borrowed a typewriter and sent hundreds of works to teen magazines in junior high. It took me six to seven years before my work was published and my first article was published in college. 

My first book was published at the age of 27. That year, nine other books were also published and one of them won the best young adult book category. Things finally started to get better for me. In 2001, the Southeast Asian Literature Assembly invited me to attend a writing class where I discovered more about writing.

Writing as Perpetual Giving

As a Muslim author, I realized I could share knowledge and kindness through writing. Insha’Allah, if I do this with an open heart, the books I write can become a source of perpetual good (Amal Jariyah) even after I’m gone.

In 2009, my short story titled Emak Ingin Naik Haji (Mother Longs to Perform Hajj) came under the spotlight. Aditya Gumay, a rising director and producer, read it. Although this short story was not written as a book, it was still adapted into a film. 

I realized that such short stories do have the potential to progress too.

I always ask the producers for the script because readers often compare books to film adaptations. This is how I work with production houses. I will discuss with the scriptwriters, directors, and producers during promotions to ensure the messages are well-aligned with the original pieces.

Books and movies are distinct forms of entertainment. In my case, a book is the work of one author, while a film is a collaborative effort. While I do not mind modifying a story for visual appeal, I always insist that the film upholds the original intent of the story. 

The soul of the book is irreplaceable and it has the power to touch the hearts of the readers.

“After I read the book, my husband and I decided not to get a divorce.”

“As a father, I cried and am reminded to be grateful after watching the movie about the child with special needs.”

“I decided not to end my life after I read your book. Thank you!”

Several passionate friends invited me to produce three films. Hayya, a movie we produced about a Palestinian girl, was well-received by both Muslim and non-Muslim markets, generating more than USD 350,000 in profits. We donated 50% of them to humanitarian aid organizations in Indonesia and Palestine.

Gaining the trust of readers, filmmakers, and producers have opened more doors than I could ever imagine.

Despite everything I’m currently working on, I hope Allah still grants me an opportunity to write, and to have more books than my age.

Write, because that is how we ensure important things will always be voiced. 

And, because it is a road chosen by few, to sculpt their names and lives forever.


About the Author

The writer of two highly acclaimed films on Qalbox: Jilbab Traveller Love Sparks in Korea and Loving an Average Man; Asma Nadia is a prolific writer and traveler. She has won the She Can Awards, and was chosen as the Inspirational Woman for Wardah. Since 2012, for eight consecutive years, her name has been included among the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World alongside twenty other Indonesian figures.

3 Perspectives of Muslim Entertainment Through My Lens

A Love Language

Films were always my love language. My siblings and I would race to the door of our apartment and wait for our father to return from work. He would usually come home with a new collection of VCR cassettes. We would tackle him with excitement and eagerness. Our tastes varied between classical Bollywood films, Disney cartoons, and Islamic lectures. My love for film allowed me to have an expansive imagination. 

I could be in the southern outskirts of India at one point, at a river in a village in Ibadan, Nigeria, or dancing to the rhythm of the waters at the Red Sea. My childhood was rich with films from many cultures. This impacted me greatly and allowed me to be a student who always had something to share in my history classes. I fostered curiosity and appreciation for cultures foreign to my own. In my 20s, whenever I would travel to a new country it was easy for me to find immediate comfort around new cultures and quickly befriend locals. 

A Window To Our Communities

We cannot neglect the impact of films in our households. Films, theatre, and art, in general, are a means to communicate with society in a very unique way. A good friend of mine, Reem, and I were recently in a talk show called Frames, organised by the American Learning Institute for Muslims. As a set production assistant she shared that her relationship with her religion impacts the way she wants to tell stories in her field. She reflected on how people consume media daily. This unquestionably has an impact on the way people see the world and the biases and prejudices they may form toward others. Stories are a learning tool for humans. Even when we think about the Quranic verses and the Seerah, stories are shared as lessons and reminders for humanity.

Knowing our Fard Al Ain (individual obligation) is essential but there should be community members who are well-versed in Fard al Khifiyah (communal obligation) as well. I feel that an understanding of both will help in creating films that are relatable to all Muslims. Art revolutionizes the way we see our world. Watching films that we can relate to, critique, and be inspired by are essential for our growth. Hence, being able to access films from services such as Qalbox is necessary for advancing the narratives we share with the world.

My friends and I recently shared our thoughts about shows such as Ramy, Ms. Marvel, and Mo and while there is Muslim representation, it is challenging for many of us to completely relate to the characters. We felt these stories focused so much on our struggles and vices and less on our spiritual wins. There may be cultural affiliation for some but for me, as a Black, West African, practicing Muslim woman, I couldn’t relate in the ways I would’ve loved to! 

Creating films with Muslim characters is one thing but also speaking to the many different ways Muslims practice their religion and show up unapologetically as Muslims is important to showcase. It is important for film directors, writers, publishers, and actors to have a strong relationship with scholars in their communities and vice versa. This relationship can help foster trust and eventually will impact how films are created.  

Blending Faith and Film

I recently watched Jilbab Traveler: Love Sparks in Korea on Qalbox about a young woman who traveled to different parts of the world, taking pictures, writing, and making a legacy of herself. Her father would refer to her as Ibn Battuta. The main character, Rania falls in love but not with the person society expects her to be with. As I watched her character develop, her journey reminded me of my own. I saw myself in Rania. Navigating love, romance, dating, and the courtship world is something so many Muslims can relate to.

Many of us enjoy films from streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and the list goes on but there is no guarantee that you won’t find discomfort in their films due to impermissible scenes for a Muslim’s gaze. Imam Ghazali in his Ilyha reminds Muslims of the importance of protecting our tongues, eyes, ears, and lower limbs (sexual desire) and how when these things are not protected not only is an individual’s spiritual well-being at risk but eventually the morality of the community. Alternative streaming services such as Qalbox are powerful because not only is it Muslim-friendly but it is also relatable and fun. 

Looking forward to growing my love language for films through Qalbox so I invite you, my dear reader,  to consider doing so as well. 


About the Author

Alimat Diallo Mahmoud is a Togolese-Ghanaian-American, with a passion for spiritual well-being. After graduating from Rutgers University, she studied Islamic Sciences in Malaysia. She works as a facilitator in various capacities to create spiritually safe spaces for her Black, West African, and Muslim communities. Alimat has a growing interest in chaplaincy, medicine, and culture.

3 Ways to Understand the Power of GRIT

GRIT. An Indonesian documentary like nothing you have seen before.

Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia. 

A silhouette of men sitting motionless at the edge of a mudrock smeared with dirt emerges as the frame lights up the screen. Overlooking an open land as far as the eye meets the horizon, the earth spitting boiling, dense liquid enveloped by thick smoke rising in the air.

This image showcases the essence of the Indonesian documentary GRIT. Directed by Academy Award® winner Cynthia Wade & Sasha Friedlander and filmed over six years. 

The film chronicles the turbulent life of the residents of Sidoarjo. A journey of resilience, survival, and raising a generation of children who are not ready to give up what they have lost. The documentary takes us on an emotional journey and inspires a sense of hope. 

The Unheard Industrial Disaster

In 2006, 6-year-old Dian’s life changed overnight when her mother, Harwati, had to leave everything behind and run from an industrial catastrophe – the Lapindo Mudflow.

The mining disaster left 60,000 people displaced, countless dead, and over 16 lush and thriving villages buried deep under a tsunami of mud that continues to flood the area even today. 

A still from GRIT, streaming on Qalbox

Many of us are privileged and blessed. Your house, your cozy spot, the serene view outside your window, the sounds of nature, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life! 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the displaced inhabitants of Sidoarjo. A year after the mud explosion, Dian’s father died of cancer. Harwati is positive it was due to the chemical releases from the mudflow.

There are stories that need to be told. And GRIT, with its cinematography, has captured raw human emotions and highlights the rise of a young teenager, Dian, and her journey of political awareness and activism. 

3 Reasons You Should Watch GRIT

1. Fighting Rakus

Artist Dadang Christanto carves RAKUS on the muddy land. He creates over a hundred 2-meter-tall human figurines. They are erected at the mudflow disaster site, not only as an homage to honor the lives that perished but as a vision of the strong survivors. The survivors who continue to raise their voices against the greedy (rakus) multinational company, Lapindo.

A still from GRIT, streaming on Qalbox

2. The Price of Being Poor

Harwati and many others become tour guides at the Lapindo site to make a living. Helplessly looking at tourists posing, creating happy ‘travel’ memories, making the burial site of the villagers hopes and dreams a backdrop of their fancy photoshoots. On the other hand, the Lapindo owner stands strong: Affluent, influential, and undisturbed.  

3. The Might of Dian’s Voice

Dian grows up seeing her mother fighting for justice. For the lives lost, the time passed, and the futures ruined. She musters courage and raises her voice and gathers support of her community and others as the 9th anniversary of the tragedy approaches.

For her mother, her friends, and herself. 

A still from GRIT, streaming on Qalbox

Power of Grit

A riveting must-watch on Qalbox, GRIT shows us the force a child’s voice has. They are the future, and they can lead. The documentary highlights a simple message: When life throws you down (literally in the mud), rise up!

Once you touch the bottom, there is only one way out: RISE UP!

4 Reasons Muslims Should Keep Smiling Always

Smiling is a universal greeting. A genuine smile makes you approachable and trustworthy. It exudes an aura of warmth and positivity. We share 4 powerful reasons why you should keep a smile on your face. Always! 

1. Smiling is Healthy 

  • Smiling releases hormones called endorphins that allow you to feel happy and positive
  • When you smile, your brain also releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress
  • It tricks the body into feeling better and aids mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin
  • It helps lower your blood pressure
  • Smiling acts as a natural anti-depressant

2. Smiling is Charity

عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ كُلُّ مَعْرُوفٍ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْمَعْرُوفِ أَنْ تَلْقَى أَخَاكَ بِوَجْهٍ طَلْقٍ وَأَنْ تُفْرِغَ مِنْ دَلْوِكَ فِي إِنَاءِ أَخِيكَ ‏”‏ ‏ 

Jabir bin Abdullah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Every good is charity. Indeed among the good is to meet your brother with a smiling face, and to pour what is left in your bucket into the vessel of your brother.” (Narrated by Imam Tirmidhi)

3. Smiling Invites Positivity

A genuine smile will always be warm and inviting. Prophet Muhammed ﷺ, our greatest role model said, a smiling face is a good character trait. We should strive to maintain healthy and good relationships with family, friends, and society through our happy faces and compassion. 

أَبُو وَهْبٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ الْمُبَارَكِ، أَنَّهُ وَصَفَ حُسْنَ الْخُلُقِ فَقَالَ هُوَ بَسْطُ الْوَجْهِ وَبَذْلُ الْمَعْرُوفِ وَكَفُّ الأَذَى ‏.‏

Abu Wahb narrated that: ‘Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak explained good character, and then he said: “It is a smiling face, doing one’s best in good, and refraining from harm.” (Narrated by Imam Tirmidhi)

4. Smiling Is Sunnah

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ الْحَارِثِ بْنِ جَزْءٍ، قَالَ مَا رَأَيْتُ أَحَدًا أَكْثَرَ تَبَسُّمًا مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ 

Narrated Ibn Jaz: “I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).” (Narrated by Imam Tirmidhi) 

We try to imbibe the Prophet’s ﷺ actions to the best of our abilities. May Allah help us follow this simple sunnah and natural action of smiling! In sha Allah

A Fitness Tip! 

An honest smile uses all the superficial muscles for a full-face workout!


Smiling dear reader is a superpower. Let us help you enhance that ability by directing you to a fun-loving and light-hearted show on Qalbox. – Little Mosque on the Prairie with 2 more seasons added to the list!

How To Purify Your Wealth with Digital Help

Islam teaches us to help and honor not only ourselves but other Muslims too. Verily, it is our foundation. Our fundamental values stand on the 5 pillars of Islam. The third mandatory pillar being zakat. 

The concept of zakat is simple: to share one’s wealth with the less fortunate, needy, or poor. The minimum amount of zakat one must give is 2.5% but there is no upper limit. Zakat has been prescribed by Allah and is the right of the poor.

Zakat is every Muslim's obligation

4 Ways Zakat Helps Purify Your Rizq

  1. It purifies your material and spiritual wealth. 
  2. It instills the value of sharing and uplifting other Muslim brothers and sisters in society.
  3. Those who truthfully fulfil paying their zakat gain closeness to Allah and attain His mercy.
  4. Charity helps overcome a calamity before it comes to you.

Now that we have understood the importance of giving zakat, let us pledge to be prompt in performing our Islamic duty.

How shall one pledge their zakat?

The easiest way to offer zakat is by giving cash to your local zakat office or community.

Businessman holding coins putting in glass. concept saving money investment finance and finance accounting

Paying Zakat Through Digital Help

Paying physical zakat can be a hassle as countries adapt different payment modes. Digital payment options have made it easy to share your wealth efficiently without losing your money. And that is the last thing you want- to lose the money you have kept aside for the sake of Allah, for those in need!

Zakat offices are going digital and local Islamic banks are helping users create bank accounts based on the Shariah concept of Tawarruq*. You can make a bank transfer to a specific account with your name and identification number so that your zakat is acknowledged and a confirmation slip comes back digitally in the form of an email.

Additionally, you may be entitled to earn profit rates and bonus points for greater convenience and returns from digital services. In fact, in Malaysia zakat payers are entitled to a tax rebate from the Inland Revenue Board (Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri). Isn’t that amazing?

Apart from a bank transfer, an unconventional way to pledge your zakat can also be a great option. You can now pledge your zakat with the swipe of a card, or a click of your finger!

Tawarruq*: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Policy Document on Tawarruq defines- A tawarruq consists of two sale and purchase contracts. The first involves the sale of an asset by a seller to a purchaser on a deferred basis. Subsequently, the purchaser of the first sale will sell the same asset to a third party on a cash and spot basis. Murabahah is a sale and purchase of an asset where the acquisition cost and the mark-up are disclosed to the purchaser. 

Shariah Compliant Credit Cards

Islamic credit cards are usually Shariah-compliant and free from any type of activity considered unlawful in Islam. The main difference between Islamic and traditional credit cards is the prohibition of riba (interest) and gharar (extra charges). 

God forbid if you ever fall victim to a Zakat-related scam, you shall have the paperwork and proof to track your digital footprints and lodge a police report.  

Furthermore, paying with Shariah-compliant credit cards can be beneficial. For example, with the CIMB Islamic Bank  Preferred Visa-Infinite-I card, you can get up to 8X bonus points when you perform Zakat or Sadaqah/charity payments.

The card provides distinct benefits aligned to positive Islamic values like Badal Haji and Qurban benefits, 8X bonus points can be redeemed when the card is used for dining or shopping overseas in addition to automatic Takaful coverage*.

Preferred Visa Infinite-i Credit Card from CIMB

Takaful coverage*
Definition as per Islamic Financial Services Act (IFSA) 2013: “takaful” means an arrangement based on mutual assistance under which takaful participants agree to contribute to a common fund providing for mutual financial benefits payable to the takaful participants or their beneficiaries on the occurrence of pre-agreed events.

So dear readers paying Zakat is as old as Islam, and you can be as be technologically savvy while being true to your Islamic values!

Written by: Muslim Pro || This article has been created in partnership with CIMB Islamic Bank.

Honoring Myself Through My Health Struggles

Heba Subeh-Hyder is a Palestinian-American author of Muslim children’s book series called Maymunah’s Musings. She is passionate about our deen and is determined to spread her love and passion to our children from a young age, so that they may grow up to become confident Muslims who are strong in their conviction. 

The inspiring Muslimah author takes us to where it all started. Her passion fuelled by honoring her pain with just one belief – Alhamdulillah.


Bismillah.

Contrary to what others may believe, I’m but a weak human being who struggles to see herself in the light others portray her.  I go through the motions of the day; fail, succeed, fail again, succeed again, and fail multiple times after that.  I have only made it this far because of the grace of Allah, and I’m trying to invest a bit in my akhirah by living each day a little better than the previous one.  

Here’s my story…

The Diagnosis – Multiple Sclerosis

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an insidious and incurable illness, in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, damaging the nerve lining in the brain and the spinal cord causing an array of unpredictable symptoms. They range from blindness, paralysis to debilitating fatigue. Saying the diagnosis was shocking is an understatement. 

As I sat listening to my neurologist tell me that I could either go blind or paralyzed any day was devastating. But a funny thing happened at that moment. Allah’s mercy rained on me and my mind paused as something was pushing me to keep repeating “Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah…”

“You have several lesions in your brain…”

“Alhamdulillah.”

“You may lose your cognitive abilities…”

“Alhamdulillah.”

“The lesions in your spinal cord may cause paralysis…”

“Alhamdulillah.”

That’s what kept ringing in my ears.

Alhamdulillah, it could be worse. 

Alhamdulillah I’m alive. 

Alhamdulillah, I can still see and move.

Finding Solace in Allah

I called my husband to tell him the news. Hyperventilating, I chose to do wudhu and pray to Allah. I just needed the comfort of salah and the closeness to Allah in that moment. That was the only thing that day that put my heart at peace. 

I placed all my tawakkul in Allah because there is no one better than Him to grab hold of my fears, and no one better than Him to care for me.

Flipping on the Switch of Faith

My diagnosis flipped a switch inside me that was dormant for years. I suddenly felt an urge to show my gratitude to Allah in a way that would last a bit longer than anything else I had ever done before. I wish it didn’t take a life-changing event to cause that flip, but when your human faculties are threatened to be taken away, you realise how truly blessed you are. 

Simple acts of walking, seeing, and thinking clearly become so precious. So I decided to thank Allah through my writing. I wanted children to know Allah and love Him from a young age through my stories so that when they grow up and are faced with an affliction, they’d place their trust and reliance on Him just like I did. 

I also decided to dedicate most of my time to learning about this beautiful deen of ours by enrolling in an Islamic university to obtain a degree in Islamic Studies. The more I learned about Islam, the more I loved it, and the more I realised there is to learn!

Sharing Through Stories

Maymunah’s Musings children’s book series was born in 2019. I wanted to write stories that highlighted an attribute of Allah in each one and teach children in a subtle manner through stories that will keep them engaged.

The latest instalment, Does Allah Know I’m Sad was difficult to write as it covered the topic of grief and loss of a beloved pet, which many children, including mine, have experienced. My aim is to help our young readers navigate heavy feelings through simple stories to anchor their faith in Allah. I’m hoping that this story will teach them empathy and enable children to learn how to comfort those in need. 

Letters To Allah

My writing doesn’t stop there. I journal, less often than I’d like to. Most of my entries are letters to Allah, in which I vent my daily struggle to my one and only Wali (Protector and Friend.) I find much solace when I word my entries in this manner because why not share what ails you, makes you happy, and puzzles you with the One who truly knows and loves you just the way you are? After all, He is the One who knows you like no one does, why not trust in Him? 

In writing to Allah, I tie what’s happening to me now, back to Who willed this to happen, and only then I’m assured that there is a reason for this, and whether I see it or not, there’s no one better than my beloved Creator to lean on and trust in.

The Power of Gratitude

I urge you, dear readers, not to wait for that life-changing event before you move towards accomplishing what Allah has intended for you. Set your intention to honor your God-given gifts and start trekking towards those changes today. Honor yourself by utilizing the skills and talents He gave you for His sake, and don’t ever stop being grateful. The more grateful you are, the more He increases you, for He is the Most Thankful, Most Generous. 

Surah Ibrahim 14:7

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you…

[Surah Ibrahim 14:7]

And take it from someone who is going through some of the greatest trials in her life, when Allah afflicts you with something, know that He is purifying you every step of the way. You just have to ask yourself how this can drive you close to your Lord and be weary of it driving you further away.

May Allah ease our struggles and allow us to experience the beauty of the tranquility we achieve through our closeness to Him in these difficult times. Ameen.


Check out Heba’s conversation with @muslimproofficial on Instagram as she delves deeper and talks about her latest book discussing grief, and why films like Delisa’s Memorization of Prayer can be platforms for educating the community about dealing with grief.

5 Reasons Muslims Should Give and Take Gifts

There is great importance in exchanging gifts in Islam and our society. Different cultures practice various ways of gift giving. It is a universal fact that offering and accepting gifts develop stronger bonds among people.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ‏: ‏ تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏.‏

Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” (Narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari)

Difference Between Charity and Gifts

Exchanging gifts does not equal charity. Charity is given to the needy and is not attached to a particular person. It is given with the sole intention of seeking Allah’s happiness. On the other hand, a gift is not necessarily given to the poor or needy; but the intent is to honor the recipient. 

Charity may not be celebrated in public but gifts may be exchanged with great pomp and happiness.

5 Reasons Why You Should Exchange Gifts

1. Follow a Sunnah

Exchanging gifts is a sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. There are various hadiths that shed light on the significance of exchanging gifts in Islam. To the extent of what kind of gifts should be exchanged is known from the Prophet’s ﷺ life. 

عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان لا يرد الطيب” ‏(‏‏(‏رواه البخاري‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) never refused a gift of perfume. (Narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari).

2. Seek Allah’s Blessings

Our life, rizq, and mere existence are gifts from Allah. Your intention is of utmost importance. When we give or accept gifts we indirectly seek Allah’s pleasure and His blessings. Give a gift with the intention of extending your warmth and affection, not as charity or bribe, wishing for a favor in return. 

Furthermore, never refuse a gift, not only is it considered impolite but it may hurt the other person, and Islam teaches us to honor others.

3. Honoring Yourself and Others

There is no fixed time, type, or amount when you think of giving a gift to your beloved family member or friend. The Hadith below states-

‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏: ‏ ‏ “‏ يا نساء المسلمات لا تحقرن جارة لجارتها ولو فرسن شاة‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “O Muslim women! No one of you should consider insignificant (a gift) to give to her neighbour even if it is (a gift of) the trotters of a sheep”. [Narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

A gift can never be inadequate. When genuine intent is involved, and the purpose is strengthening bonds of affection among individuals, something as small as a handkerchief is also sufficient.    

4. Strengthen Ties and Kinship

As we grow older, we often reminisce about celebrations and relatives that may be attached to something they gifted us. We value gifts and the people who make an effort to share their love with us. 

Exchanging gifts help overcome ill feelings and forge stronger bonds among family and friends. 

5. Show gratitude

Our life is an amalgamation of memories. The ability to recollect and rejoice memories is a gift from Allah to humankind. Thus we should be extremely grateful to Him for bestowing us with the powerful gift of memory. 

As we show our gratitude to Him, we should also be mindful to appreciate those who present us with gifts. On the other hand, if you present someone with a gift, never ask them to return it,

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ الْعَائِدُ فِي هِبَتِهِ كَالْعَائِدِ فِي قَيْئِهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The one who takes back his gift is like the one who goes back to his vomit.” [Narrated by Imam Muslim].

The Greatest Gift

If you are unable to give a material gift due to uncertain circumstances, distance or some unknown reason, the best you can do for someone is make dua for them. Wish them well and that dear brothers and sisters is indeed the greatest way to honor yourself and others! 

Focus On What’s Really Important: Honoring Yourself And Others 

A part of growing up is learning the importance of honoring yourself and others through daily interactions, experiences, and values. Inevitably our collective stories and perceptions differ; but we share commonalities. A significant one being our faith. 

So question yourself, what is really important? 

You are! 

How you carry yourself and treat others does matter. Simple fact: Our thoughts inform our choices and decisions. And, our actions have repercussions in the immediate present and future. Thus, we do not live in silos even if we reside in a physically remote location, as our actions affect not only us but others and the world around us

Before the pandemic, our lifestyles were monotonous and tiresome as we raced to climb the corporate and career ladder. During the pandemic, we went through a variety of uncomfortable situations. For the most part, our lives came to a standstill. Post-pandemic, we are recalibrating our focus on aspects of our existence we had forgotten. Mental wellness and care have surfaced to the forefront, creating room for difficult conversations and reminding us to take care of ourselves.

Through October and November, heal your soul and enjoy content highlighting the different aspects of Islam and varied Muslim lives around the globe. 

Read personal stories of Muslims from various professions. Enrich your life with stories of our Prophets and the ways they honored Allah, themselves, and their fellow Muslims. Tune into Instagram Live and Twitter Spaces to join the conversations discussing issues related to Muslims and the Muslim lifestyle. With The Courtyard, feel at home in a digital space where you can share thoughts and heartfelt messages with Muslim brothers and sisters across borders. 

We invite you to reconnect with yourself and celebrate your roots. Revisit your identity and savor life once again. As we delve deep into human relations and friendships, let’s not forget about our relationship with the natural environment. Another key facet to honor. You will discover blessings and bounties that Allah has bestowed in this life and beyond.

Explore Qalbox with Southeast Asian cinema in the spotlight and learn more about the diverse identities, lived realities, and cultures of global Muslims – the many faces of Islam.

Watch The Crescent Moon, Woman With A Turban, Jilbab Traveller: Love Sparks In Korea​​, Voice Of Adinda, Women In Veil, Loving An Average Man, Grit, Forgotten Forests Of Malaysia, and many more! Hear their voices and stories while experiencing their emotions, passions, and cultures as part of the global Muslim audience. 

Written by: Farida Haji & Helmy Sa’at

Queen Arwa of Yemen: Epitome of Grace and Power

Islam has a history of women of faith and courage, be it Khadija, the revered wife of Prophet Muhammed ﷺ or the women of the Prophet’s ﷺ family.

Queen Arwa of Yemen

When we think of Yemen, we tend to remember the magnificent Pre-Islamic Arab queen, Queen of Sheba, Bilqis, who ruled the South Arabian kingdom of Saba in present-day Yemen and Ethiopia and has been mentioned in the Quran.

We share a glimpse of one more impressive figure in Yemeni history: the last ruler of the Sulayhid Dynasty. Queen Arwa of Yemen exercised exceptional political and religious authority, ruling the country for more than 50 years as Islam flourished through the Golden Age

She was the first woman to be accorded the prestigious title of hujja by the Isma’ili branch of Shi’a Islam. She ruled for over fifty years and never lost support from the Yemeni people. She was affectionately titled Malikat Sabaʾ Aṣ-Ṣaghīrah (Little Queen of Sheba), As-Sayyidah Al-Ḥurrah, Al-Malikah Al-Ḥurrah, and Al-Ḥurratul-Malikah.

1048 CE:

Queen Arwa was born as Arwā bint Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Jaʿfar ibn Mūsā aṣ-Ṣulayḥī in the city of Haraz in Yemen. Orphaned at a young age, she was adopted by her paternal uncle King Ali and aunt Queen Asma of Yemen. 

Queen Asma, her future mother-in-law, enriched and educated  Arwa with soulful poetry and an in-depth understanding of the Qur’an.

1065 CE:

Queen Arwa married her cousin, the crown prince Ahmad al-Mukarram bin Ali, acquiring the title of Sayyada Arwa when she was 18. In a series of traumatic events King Ali, her father-in-law was killed and Queen Asma was captured. After Queen Asma was rescued, the crown prince suffered from paraplegia. His poor health put Queen Arwa in a position of power at a very young age. She co-ruled with her mother-in-law until Queen Asma died in 1074, after which she took sole charge of her kingdom.

1088 CE:

Queen Arwa persuaded her husband, King Ahmad al Mukarram to shift his capital to Dhu Jiblah from Sana’a for two primary reasons. Firstly, her political and strategic insight of Dhu Jiblah, as the city, lay between the upper and lower regions of Yemen. It made it easy to manage the affairs of the kingdom. 

Secondly, the foresight of the type of people of the regions. She asked her husband to call upon the people of Sana’a and its neighboring villages. When they gathered, the king saw none but all carrying either a sword or a spear. After the king migrated to Dhu Jiblah with his wife, he summoned the inhabitants of Dhu Jiblah. Where he saw none but either all carrying gifts in their hands or loaded on the backs of animals. 

A view of Dhu Jiblah, Yemen
A view of Dhu Jiblah, Yemen

The Queen commented, “Indeed, life should be lived amongst these,’ and thus, Dhu Jiblah was made the capital. Dar al-Izz was chosen as the royal residence due to its strategic position. The ruins of the fortress exist to date. She ruled trade routes within the country and those across the Gulf of Aden into East Africa. 

Her contemporary al-Sultan al-Khattab said of her praise: “ She was the Banu Sulayhi’s pearl, who brought light to a place of darkness.

1138 CE:

Queen Arwa's Mausoleum
Queen Arwa’s Tomb

As an efficient and remarkable Muslim sovereign, she held court, minted coins, fought wars, negotiated peace treaties, and built cities and trade routes. She set up several madrasas for cultural and religious studies. She built roads and numerous mosques. 

Queen Arwa passed away and is buried in the Queen Arwa Mosque or Friday Mosque in Dhu Jiblah, which has become an important pilgrimage site for pious Yemenis.

A brief timeline of Queen Arwa of Yemen
A brief timeline of Queen Arwa of Yemen

Queen Arwa Mosque or Friday Mosque in Yemen

Queen  Arwa Mosque, Yemen
Queen Arwa Mosque, Yemen

The magnificent masjid’s construction began in 1056. It was meant to be a palace but was repurposed as a mosque by the Queen after she shifted her capital from Sana’a to Dhu Jiblah. This masjid and numerous other monuments in Yemen are an architectural testimony to her legacy.

Reflection on the Film Honor Behind The Veil by Tya Subiakto Satrio

Destiny Decides Your Path

Indonesian film ‘Honor Behind the Veil’ by Tya Subiakto Satrio is available to watch on Qalbox. New users enjoy a 7-day free trial, which also gives access to the full features of the Muslim Pro app ad-free! Claim your free trial today!

A chanced yet intriguing conversation about destiny between Syahdu (Donita) and Ifand Abdussalam (Andhika Pratama) helps her rediscover her passion for life and renews her trust in happiness again. 

Their paths crossed once more as Ifand lives in the same village as Syahdu’s grandparents. Ifand and Syahdu establish a beautiful friendship that is extremely meaningful for them. However, their constant meetings become questionable and a cause of shame for her grandparents.

Ifand and Syahdu as their friendship blooms

Syahdu returns home with a heavy heart and is faced with a dire situation. She sacrifices her happiness and marries her temperamental ex-boyfriend (Iwa Rasya). A heartbroken Ifand moves on and marries a righteous woman Sofia (Ussy).

As circumstances change, the star-crossed lovers connect again, this time Ifand marries a frail Syahdu, as his second wife. Sofia, being deeply compassionate accepts her fate and lives amicably under the same roof with Syahdu. Over time conflicts arise and Syahdu leaves home.

Ifand and Sofia share a moment

Facets of Women in Islam

The movie explores multiple trials and tribulations women face. During her lifetime Syahdu goes through instances of abuse, abandonment, misunderstanding, lack of love, and sacrifices, while Sofia deals with heartache, the trauma of being unable to conceive, and the societal taunts of living with her husband’s second wife. 

Relationships are difficult to maneuver. Honor Behind The Veil sheds light on the emotional turmoil of women. They play multiple roles: daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers through all they are expected to live by rules made by society. 

A still from the movie Honor Behind the Viel

Why is it that we often end up sacrificing our hopes and aspirations? 

Is it our conditioning or inbuilt emotional threshold that is way beyond understanding? 

Allah Always Has a Plan

The movie ends as Syahdu thanks her beloved family during her final moments. Unintentionally leaving behind happiness in Sofia and Ifand’s life that they can cherish and remind them of her presence for as long as they live. 

Sophia and Ifand in a still from the movie

Alhamdullilah, Allah has his ways. Through movies, we can explore so many facets of human lives, especially those that shed light on our diverse Muslim cultures. Many a time our personalities and cultures may not go hand in hand; yet, faith plays a powerful role. ‘Sudah suratan takdir’, just like Sofia is honored at the end of the movie, He always has a plan and shall always provide you with what is yours.