The Etiquette of Eating & Drinking in Islam

Bismillah, all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universes who provide for His obedient and disobedient servants. Allah has provided His servants with food and water as sustenance. As servants, we are obliged to be grateful for the favours bestowed.

Besides being grateful, there are some manners that have been taught by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for us to follow during meals. We’re not just filling our bellies; we’re getting a reward. These are some manners when eating in Islam.

Recite Dua

In our daily affairs, there are various supplications taught by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, including during meals. The prayer is very simple, but it gives significant meaning to the person who eats. It should be taught to children from an early age so that they grow up remembering Allah in every matter.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught Umar bin Abi Salamah, a child at the time, before eating: “O child, say the name of Allah…”. We call بسم الله then eat. If a person eats without reciting a prayer, the devil will participate in eating with him. 

This is explained by the  Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: “When someone enters his house, and he says the name of Allah and eats in the name of Allah, Satan will say: I cannot spend the night and have dinner in your house…”

[Narrated by Muslim]

If he forgets to recite the prayer and then remembers it during the meal, then he should read بسم الله أوّله وآخره : “In the name of Allah at the beginning and the end.”

Using the Right Hand

Eat with your right hand. (Photo: Pexels/Michael Burrows)

The right has always represented virtue, while the left represents badness. We will be portrayed as guilty if it is referred to as the left. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught that one should use the right hand instead of the left when eating.

In the Hadith of Umar bin Abi Salamah, he was taught: “O child calls the name of Allah, eat with your right hand, and eat food near you.”

[Muttafaqun’ alaih] 

As for eating and drinking with the left hand, it is the devil’s habit. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “When someone eats, eat it with your right hand. If he drinks, drink it with his right hand. Indeed, the devil eats with the left hand and drinks with the left hand.”

[Narrated by Muslim]

Taking Food Nearby

When eating in a group from a tray, take the food closest to us. Similarly, the nearest meal should be consumed when the dish is served separately at a table. We should consult those close to the food if we want a distant dish. This is in accordance with the above Hadith, “And take the food that is close to you.”

Imam Malik was once questioned regarding a group of individuals who ate together. Some of them take the food that is placed in front of them, while others distribute the food. He said: “There is no good in such matters. And this is not a known moral in our society.”

Not Wasteful

Allah forbids a person from wasting food and drink. (Photo: Unsplash/Mostafa Rzq)

Waste is one of the reprehensible acts. Allah forbids a person to waste either food and drink or anything else. Allah said: O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ even taught us to collect food that falls from food containers and lick our fingers after eating. It is a sign of not wasting other than the search for blessings on food.

Imam Nawawi said when talking about the Hadith regarding licking the fingers: “The food before a person is indeed a blessing. It is unknown whether the blessing is on the food consumed, the food left on the finger, the food left on the plate, or the food that fell. In order to receive a blessing, he should have taken care of all of this.”

Recite Dua After Eating

Islam teaches us to be grateful for the gifts bestowed upon us. Consequently, it is a sunnah to recite a prayer before and after meals. We appreciate the blessings given before and after meals. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us to recite dua after eating:

مُعَاذِ بْنِ أَنَسٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ”‏مَنْ أَكَلَ طَعَامًا ثُمَّ قَالَ الْحَمْدُ لِلهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنِي هَذَا الطَّعَامَ وَرَزَقَنِيهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ حَوْلٍ مِنِّي وَلاَ قُوَّةٍ غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ“‏

Narrated Mu’adh ibn Anas:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: If anyone eats food and then says: “Praise be to Allah who has fed me with this food and provided me with it through no might and power on my part,” his former and later sins will be forgiven. [Narrated by Abi Dawud]

Not only is it just gratitude for favours, but even those who recite the prayer are forgiven for their sins. So here he gets two virtues; to fill his stomach and be forgiven for sins.

Abdul Rahman Rahuni

Ustadz Abdul Rahman Rahuni. The author is a graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah  studying in the field of Islamic Sharia. He is currently a lecturer at Sekolah Menengah Ugama Islamiah, Tawau, Sabah.

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. 

Go Green – For Our Environment, Home And Wallets

Environmental experts and activists have long been flailing their hands in exasperation for the world to pay attention. The natural ecosystem is literally burning while we continue to sit on our hands and hope for the best. Or worst, anticipating someone else to swoop in and rescue us all! What more does it take for us to act fast and cooperate?

Our Future Is Green

With the climate catastrophe right at your doorstep, pairing actions with verbal pledges and constant prayers are vital. Not just any action, rather meaningful actions that would snowball into contributing significantly into saving the planet and quite literally our own future existence. As part of the global ummah, as trustees and guardians of the planet, each of us is responsible and accountable to care for it. That simple.

<image: Eco bag with products vegetables. Zero waste use less plastic concept. – stock photo (creative#:1306335520)>

Saving the planet is a monumental task indeed. Throwing our hands up in the air and refusing to accept the hard truth about the climate emergency. Not an option. To curl up in the fetal position due to paralysis caused by fear. Not an option either.

We remain the solution! The bottomline: Our daily actions driven by our spending decisions and habits affect the environment.

In other words, we are our only hope. We need to step up as eco-heroes sans the capes. Let that sink in for a moment.

Our Environment, Home And Wallets

Since we are responsible for our present and immediate future, we need to continue to work in moving the needle in our favour. Remember the 3Rs for a start? From avoiding single-use plastic, switching to energy-saving light bulbs, upcycling old clothes, growing your own fruits and vegetables to composting food waste. The list keeps growing depending on one’s immediate surroundings and priorities.

<image: Young Muslim woman with hijab working live streaming Online clothing store at home – stock photo (creative#: 1237822124)>

Picture the following in your mind. The weekend and there is a nation-wide sale. Discounted items galore! An all-too-familiar scene of retail opportunity and alleged therapy. No judgment there. Yet, consider this: Such ‘therapy’ adds up still when spending is taken into account. Essentially, burning that hole in your wallet, or purse! Do you really need that extra pair of jeans? In the same size and colour of another similar pair sitting in your wardrobe. What happens to the old pair once the new pair of jeans has been purchased (impulsively, most of the time!)? Very likely it would end up in a landfill somewhere.

When in actuality, there are several ways to avoid such a disastrous choice at every step of the way. The choices you make are yours. Just keep the environment, our only planet we all call home and your wallet in mind!

Instead of spending money on a new pair of jeans or whatever apparel of your choice, why not opt to restyle with certain accessories? From tasteful beading and bedazzling a piece of garment to upcycling by turning that old pair of jeans into another product, such as a stylish tote bag. The possibilities are endless and let’s be frank about it – fun!

And, just so you know, the principles of 3Rs are in play. For example, by opting to upcycle you would have chosen to reuse an old piece of clothing and reduce the amount of waste in the landfills. Not forgetting money saved!

Our Future At What Cost?

As we continue to pair our prayers with tangible actions that matter, we need to be our very own eco-heroes. With smart financial mapping and decisions, your future and the futures of generations to come are not cruelly snatched away. Another facet that deserves attention and scrutiny albeit most would typically not think much of and about it, or might not even realise the potential savings not just for our wallets, but our only planet we all call home.

Global Muslims in Malaysia, listen up! CIMB Islamic Bank is a company that supports all these initiatives with eco-friendly financial products to boot. Therefore, check out OctoSavers Account-i and EcoSave Account-i.

<image: EcoSave Account-i>

No paper statements, passbooks or mailers yet you still enjoy banking convenience with a clear conscience. That is what the EcoSave Account-i is all about – an environmentally-friendly savings account with the convenience of online access. The OctoSavers Account-i is CIMB Islamic Bank’s first fully digital savings account-i that offers instant rewards through missions and challenges along with loads of other benefits, all in CIMB Clicks.

<image: OctoSavers Account-i>

(Psst! We care for the environment and our future, which is at stake here. So, let’s share this article with your family and friends now.)

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

The Courtyard By Muslim Pro: Connect And Be Heard

More than 100 million downloads! That is how far the Muslim Pro app has grown and evolved over the past decade.

As we continue to strive to be the digital destination that everyone calls home, the team at Bitsmedia, the makers of the app have expanded the app’s scope beyond providing religious tools, a personalised stream of content and ideas that engage, inspire and support the diverse Muslim community. What we have aimed for and continue to work towards is to emerge as a comprehensive Muslim lifestyle app with the most accurate prayer times, empowering and connecting Muslims worldwide.

Empowering and connecting Muslims worldwide.

Guided by a burning passion and purpose – to serve the global Muslim community, we value the diverse Muslim community and are committed to the cause of progressing Muslim life we have helped to establish over these years and shall continue to nurture and grow it. It has been a privilege that we would continue to honour and work on.

Connect And Be Heard

The importance of community building and bonding is a focal point.

“Our content hub serves as a space that amplifies Muslim voices from all walks of life, offering people the opportunity to talk about their joys, struggles, and triumphs regarding identity, faith, and devotion to The Divine.

“… I greatly believe that social media, when used for good, can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the wider community. Here at Bitsmedia, we have a responsibility to steer online conversations in a positive and constructive direction,” shares Fara Abdullah, Co-CEO at Bitsmedia / Muslim Pro.

Muslim Pro, the digital destination that everyone calls home.

The importance of community building and bonding is a focal point. Thus, our inaugural live audio session titled “PositiviTEA” on Twitter Spaces where we invited a Muslim revert to share how the community can support reverts during Ramadan, in April of this year.

Another intriguing and revelatory session was with Iman Zawahry, an accomplished hijabi filmmaker, who recently created an award-winning film Americanish, a rom-com based on Muslim lives. The session stemmed from an exclusive watch party playing an episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie, which is presently streaming on Qalbox, followed by an enriching conversations about Muslims and our mediums of storytelling.

From Twitter, Tik Tok to Youtube and Instagram, such live sessions cover a wide range of relevant topics that are of interest to the many cross sections of the global Muslim community.

The Courtyard By Muslim Pro

An exciting new chapter is unfolding. And, Muslim Pro is proud to unveil ‘The Courtyard.’ It is an official, online off-app space for MuslimPro users to interact with the team and with each other.

Discuss issues related to Muslims and the Muslim lifestyle.

At ‘The Courtyard’, we discuss issues related to Muslims and the Muslim lifestyle. Here are a few guidelines we employ when conducting online sessions:

  • Be Kind and courteous
  • No Promotions or spam
  • Hold space for the views of others – remembering we are a global and diverse community
  • No Bullying, name-calling or deragatory remarks
  • No discussions on shariah issues or legal rulings
  • Respect everyone’s privacy
  • All posts will have to be approved by admins

Respect in this space as a community forum for purposeful interaction is paramount. Questions relating to the app should be directed to help@muslimpro.com, or refer here to get queries answered. Questions relating to Shariah should be directed to your local scholar.

(Psst! Also, do not hesitate to share this with your non-Muslim friends.)

Written by: Helmy Sa’at

School Zone: End Bullying

As parents and guardians, we are all too familiar with preparing these young minds for academic excellence. From signing them up for additional enrichment classes to perhaps piano or violin lessons and art classes outside their school curriculum. Have we forgotten and, at times, overlooked something else?

There are an array of challenges when it comes to schooling. Generally, besides the pressure of scoring all As (achieving academic excellence for both children and their parents!), schoolkids have the added pressure in socialisation. Simply, it is about making friends and keeping those friends.

Inevitably, in life there are humps and bumps along the way to mature as a well-adjusted young adult. Many would deem the occasional teasing and taunting as a rite of passage. However, as harmless as it looks on the surface, such prolonged negative experiences would result in emotional tension leading to mental distress. And, like a domino effect, it has the power to wreak havoc in other facets of one’s life and progress.

Bullying Is Everywhere!

Bullying could happen anywhere and any time to anyone.

What could have started off as harmless teasing could very well escalate into taunting and branch out into other forms of abuse. Bullying is not an issue that should be overlooked, especially, when it is so rampant. For instance, in the United States, nearly 50 per cent of schoolkids between the ages of nine and 12 years old said they have experienced bullying at school, in 2020! In other words, bullying is epidemic.

Bullying could happen anywhere and any time. It could also happen to anyone (at any age!).

It consists of different types. The most common experiences stemming from verbal and physical bullying. And, social bullying, which is more subtle. Verbal bullying includes teasing, taunting, name calling whereas physical bullying is expressed through hitting, taking or breaking others’ belongings and displaying mean and rude gestures. Social bullying encompasses gossiping and spreading rumours, telling others to not befriend a particular individual and/or leaving someone out on purpose during social events.

Bullying has even seeped into the online sphere. Cyberbullying is propelled by the widespread availability and use of social media, which in a way is a form of extension of our selves in the online domain. Bullies in this realm could be done by strangers as most would hide behind the cloak of anonymity. The 2020 Child Online Safety Index (Cosi) report, discovered that 60 per cent of eight to 12-year-olds across 30 countries are exposed to cyber risks, including cyberbullying!

Bullying Is Not OK

The motivations are varied. Typically, it is driven by being uncomfortable of differences through both tangible and intangible manifestations, such as physical looks, learning disabilities – dyslexia – and/or interests. It is then further perpetuated by actions that involve peer pressure/influence.

More importantly, as adults, we need to stop labelling bullies and victims as such. Instead, reframe the approach to tackling bullying by calling out the specific behaviour. It helps in not pigeonholing a young and impressionable mind with such labels that has the tendency to shame the entirety of the individual who is not intrinsically a bully.

Bullying is a choice and teaching and nurturing kindness should be prioritised.

Reframe the approach to tackling bullying by calling out the specific behaviour.

On the flip side, vigilance and attention to detail are key traits when it comes to identifying those who are being bullied. Such red flags include injuries, dip in academic performance and/or insistence in avoiding attending school altogether.

It is also pertinent to understand and empathise that they would feel isolated, helpless and embarrassment, afraid of repercussions should they confide in a trusted adult and/or believing no one would be able to relate or understand their pain.

End Bullying

This is why it is vital to keep talking about bullying. In order to stop it, being able to identify the red flags contributes to stopping the cycle from continuing.

Besides the need to learn that bullying is never ok, schoolkids need to know that it is never the fault of the person who is bullied. And, there is always a way to stop it. They need to know that there is always space for them to open up and talk to a trusted adult (parents, teachers or counsellors) about it.

Bullying is never ok.

Additionally, when it comes to cyberbullying it is best not to engage or respond and start with reporting the incidence to the social media site and followed by blocking, if necessary.

Help to untangle your child or anyone (at any age!) at risk of bullying to start take charge of their life by confronting the issue at hand. Three key takeaways: They are not alone; things will definitely get better; and bullying could and should be stopped.

It is ok to seek help while striving to be an independent thinker and staying true to themselves. Ultimately, their worth is immeasurable.

Psst! Do not forget to share this article with your family and friends before heading over to the Comments section on the Connect website to share your thoughts. At the same time, do check out credible online resources that deal with bullying.

Written by: Helmy Sa’at

The Crescent Moon: The Many Faces Of Islam

The Crescent Moon’ 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!

We have to be at ease with uncomfortable truths. The fact is the global ummah is not in a homogeneous state whereby every Muslim is alike. Muslims are a heterogeneous bunch as we are comprised of diverse traits and characteristics anchored in faith, which is expressed through daily religious piety of various degrees as exemplified by pockets of Indonesian Muslim communities.

A still from The Crescent Moon, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

The Crescent Moon (Mencari Hilal) captures the fractious, at times tensed, relationship between a father, Mahmud, and son, Heli. Both stubborn. Yet, they still harbour deep love for each other. A learning takeaway for them both and we, the audience by extension: As Muslims, life is not about imposing our supposedly unadulterated views. Instead, let Allah be the judge of it all while we live and let live. Not everything is within our control.

Keep Curious: Use Your Voice

Keep questioning and not settle for the first (logical) response. Pair this sense of curiosity with the courage to articulate those thoughts.

Jadi, bapa masih belum mau bilang kita mau ke mana?” (“So, father you still would not tell where we are heading to?”)

Kalau dijelaskan nanti kamu makin banyak nanya.” (“You would ask more questions should I explain.”)

Tak salahkan orang bertanya.” (“It is not wrong to ask questions.”)

A still from The Crescent Moon, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

The impromptu road trip in search of the crescent moon (hilal) at Hiro Tower (Menara Hiro, named as such during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II), which marks the end of Ramadan, substituted with the start of Eid celebrations appears to show that Islam is a divide, not a bridge for this father and son. Their pained relationship that hides a deeper family secret (for this you definitely have to watch it for yourself; no spoilers!) is first amplified by their different approaches to Islam. Mahmud is a conservative and devout Muslim whereas Heli is more liberal.

Heli begrudgingly accompanied their ailing father at the insistence of his sister, Halidah. It is propelled with equal measures of emotional blackmailing that families deftly manipulate on the daily and as an incentive for Heli’s passport processing to be expedited for his delayed activism work in Nicaragua.

Though Mahmud and Heli’s differences seem insurmountable, still they are not afraid to voice out. Mahmud’s wry sense of humour shines at times as it is delicately delivered through his poker face; however, it just seems to provide (unjust) emotional and intellectual jabs for Heli.

Advice: Duty And Love

A still from The Crescent Moon, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Mahmud observes and tries his best to guide those around him, including strangers who are not necessarily receptive to his words. To the unprepared ears and sensitive minds, he would be perceived as preaching. They do not welcome his unsolicited advice. For instance, during a bus journey, Mahmud was chased down after he pointed out to the driver that it was wrong to not fast, even during work. Initially, Mahmud’s words were met with counter arguments, such as the need to stay awake while carrying out his job. However, understandably Mahmud’s subsequent words were met with outright rejection and anger.

As a viewer, you might not be able to disregard the fact that such outburst could have very well been motivated by a sense of guilt; knowing full well that Mahmud was right in his advice. Although Mahmud does not seek to impose his opinions, which are anchored in Islamic teachings and principles, his intention out of duty and love for his fellow Muslims speaks volume to the Islamic truths. Truths that sting and hurt the feelings of those in the wrong.

As Mahmud shares his belief in the following sentence, with his son within earshot: “Semuanya ini tergantung niatnya. Kalau teknologi sudah maju tapi kalau moralnya nul, tidak sampai ke mana-mana.” (“All of it depends on one’s intention. If technology has advanced, but one’s morals are null, it is a dead end.”)

Between complicity and hypocritical religious piety, which is your choice?

Faces Of Islam

Towards the end of their journey in reaching Hiro Tower, Mahmud and Heli learn the true meaning of religious diversity and acceptance in the context of everyday lived realities that are not painted in black and white.

Mahmud was surprised to discover that a villager, Andi, who is a Christian, is the nephew of Majid, a Muslim. That a mixed religious family is able to live harmoniously. Heli, on the other hand, learnt that faces of Islam are varied and opposing viewpoints on the true nature of Islam is not in the hands of a few. In actuality, it belongs to every Muslim. In essence, his voice matters just as much as any other Muslim as they all have a stake in the present and future of Islam.

A still from The Crescent Moon, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

As Majid eloquently sums it up for the father and son duo: “Saya yakin Islam itu adalah agama yang penuh dengan cinta.” (“I am confident that Islam is a religion full of love.”)

Written by: Helmy Sa’at

Woman With A Turban: Heartbeat Of Islam In All Of Us

Woman With A Turban’ 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!

Are we capable of determining our own paths in life? The answer is complex and nuanced at best. At no moment, would the clouds high above in the blue skies part, and a guiding hand would descend and show us the right path to traverse. That is exactly what Anisa, an independent-minded young Muslim woman, experiences while growing up and living in a community dictated by conservative Islamic tradition, in East Java, Indonesia.

In Woman With A Turban (Perempuan Berkalung Sorban), a community seems to remain unassailable by the rapid pounding winds of change brought about by modernity. That remains so, until Anisa starts to boldly continue questioning the status quo.

Heartbeat Of Islam Belongs To Us All

Being the only daughter of a respected religious teacher (kyai) and founder of Al-Huda Islamic Religious School (Pondok Pesantren Al-Huda) comes with a whole slew of expectations and responsibilities. Besides the rudimentary obligation to memorise the Quran and behaving modestly at all times, she is also not to ever cross the line in questioning, much less oppose, the thoughts, opinions, views and decisions of adults, especially men.

A still from Woman With A Turban, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Since an early age, she learns about rampant sexism and politicised gender roles shaped by the values of a patriarchal society propped up by conservative Islamic principles. From forbidden to keep her hobby and love of horse riding, her rightful win in school after been democratically elected by her classmates to be the class representative snatched away based on her gender to determining her future spouse.

One more crucial contextual detail. It is about lived realities on the ground.

It points to the confluence of a multitude of identities; not just simply as a Muslim and a woman. Anisa like millions of others in Indonesia and all over the world is the living embodiment of a multiplicity of, or multi-hyphenated, identities (a young-middle class-rural-Indonesian-Muslim woman) in a climate whereby faith pervades every facet of her life.

In other words, she is not living in a community practising the ‘purest’ form of Islam, instead a syncretic climate – a combination and overlapping – of conflicting and opposing values and principles all rolled into one! Thus, such intersectionality of identities would almost always produce friction. On a macro level, this minute yet key details exemplify the very volatile nature and contestations of Indonesian state philosophy known as Pancasila.

A still from Woman With A Turban, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

In essence, Anisa is and remains a piece of Islamic narrative, encompassing her perceived shortcomings by the men in her life. The heartbeat of Islam is not just the purview of men, or some elite groups in society. It is, in fact, in all of us as Muslims. Women have a right to their opinions and Anisa has never been afraid to question her perceived value in life and not letting anyone else dictate her worth as a devout human being to Allah.

Partnership, Not Ownership

It is fundamental to understand that marriage is first and foremost not about serving a skewed arrangement that largely benefits the husband. Though Anisa’s first marriage had been blessed by families and the immediate community, they did not form a support system in times of her greatest need. Promises of marital bliss instead paved the way to a road filled with broken promises, including the opportunity to further her tertiary education in Yogyakarta.

You would be able to relate to the frustrations of restrained ambitions compounded by, at times, foolish decisions (in hindsight!) during moments of stress and desperation, such as not knowing when to walk away, especially in toxic relationships. Anisa decided then to continue with her first marriage although she went on to experience marital abuse in every possible fashion. Societal, familial and religious pressures unfortunately contributed to her deepening traumas. As you might clench your fist then thump the table while muttering unsavoury words under your breath, all hope is not lost for Anisa.

Other than Allah, she has to embrace the painful reality that men are not saviours, always. Men are also flawed with many shortcomings. This realisation sets in as she seeks answers from her childhood love interest, Khudari, for not marrying her:

Allah pasti menunjukkan jalan yang terbaik buat kamu, Nisa.” (“Allah will definitely show the best way for you, Nisa.”)

Jauh-jauh ke Cairo belajar Islam cuma untuk bilang Allah pasti nunjuki jalan buat aku?!” (“You studied in distant Cairo just to say that Allah will definitely show me the way?!”)

As she turns to leave, Anisa tearfully and defiantly declares: “Allah sebenarnya sudah nunjuki jalan yang terbaik buat aku … [Khudari], tapi jalan itu terputus sejak kamu pergi.” (“Actually, Allah has shown the best way for me … [Khudari], but it was destroyed since you left.”)

Freedom Comes With A Price Tag

As Anisa’s friend remarks: “Bebas itu enak.” (“Freedom is sweet.”) However, at what cost? After her divorce and her subsequent move to the city, these shifts in her life further opens her eyes to the complex realities of life. Everything is not black and white, or existing in a dichotomy. Many fall into the grey area. And, that is life.

A faithful could make choices to compromise on certain Islamic principles without forsaking everything else. Anisa’s friend, for instance, justifies her fornication through her filial piety to her parents and by still dressing modestly, especially the hijab.

In other words, without indulging in shallow moralising, her friend’s paper-thin piety is expressed in outward fashion, tangible forms of piety through clothing. A clear engagement in hypocritical religious piety. Yet, just as important is how they choose to treat those around them. Do they pass judgment? Or, suffer from self-aggrandising thoughts that seek to put others down? Therefore, is Anisa’s friend any less a Muslim than other Muslims, such as Anisa herself?

A still from Woman With A Turban, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Riding into the sunset does not always spell a happy ever after. It is a continuation in the fight to be heard and to be seen. Women’s autonomy, empowerment, freedom and rights are still contested in Islamic communities. When Khudari witnesses Anisa’s impatience for change, he consoled and encouraged her: “Perubahan itu kan bertahap. Roma juga bukan dibangun sehari.” (“Change happens in stages. Rome was not built in a day.”)

Written by: Helmy Sa’at

Devouring Written Words: Healthy Reading Habits

Reading is fundamental when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge. Fortunately, we will never run out of options when it comes to books. The global book market is estimated to grow hit US$124.2 billion by 2025! Even more impressive is that there are already approximately 1.5 million new titles published worldwide, in 2021 alone.

From visiting the local library to browsing the wide selection at the bookstore of our choice for a thoughtful purchase, downloading a title on the internet with a single click, or even paying it forward by gifting or lending our favourite books to a dear friend or colleague; there are a multitude of ways and motivations to get our hands on a book of interest. 

One of the core considerations to keep in mind, as a global Muslim in today’s ever evolving world, is intention. When we delve deep into expanding our religious knowledge, in particular tawheed i.e. the Oneness of God, in addition to secular learning, we do not just assume faith, but actively seek learning to truly comprehend and buttress our spiritual piety while expanding our minds.

With such a clarity in thought as our foundation, let’s explore some healthy reading habits which we could easily implement daily within and outside the religious sphere of knowledge.

A Book Beyond its Cover

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room, many would grumble about two main things. First, the disinterest in reading any book. Second, the lack of time. Do not be intimidated by a wordy (or lack of) title or book cover. The idiom ‘do not judge a book by its cover’ applies here, literally. Give the book a chance. And, more importantly, give yourself a chance. A nondescript book with an uninteresting title might surprise you. You might learn a thing or two. 

Next, start small. You do not have to finish reading a chapter or the entire book in 24 hours. While it is good to discipline ourselves and set a goal, we need to avoid setting ourselves up for failure from the start. Instead, start with a page or two each day. You are not obliged to finish reading it if it really does not suit your taste. At least you tried. Give yourself a pat, recommend the book to someone else then pick another book for yourself. 

Start with a page or two each day.

It is just a matter of time before you stumble upon a book that would change your life.

Macro to Micro Fashion

Next, make a list of books to help you narrow down the search. This would help from feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly endless choice of titles to choose from at any given time. Start by focusing on an interest. Work your way based on this principle: macro to micro. For instance, your topic of interest might be history (macro aspect); delve a bit deeper by looking at geography (micro aspect) and, perhaps, your area of focus could very well be the history of Bali because you had visited the island before the pandemic. Extend and navigate your search easily by linking it with personal experiences.

Do Good Through Reading

Instead of checking out with your online cart brimming with books which are to be delivered or shipped in five to seven days, why not visit a used bookstore or support an online enterprise that sells donated books in support of charities or social enterprises to uplift lives of the less fortunate?

What do we achieve by doing this? We do good deeds helping a charitable cause that helps others in need. Second, we display a green spirit in support of the environment by appreciating books that are still in good condition instead of letting such books fill the landfills. Third, we get a good bargain for such prices. This in turn provides us with the opportunity to channel our extra funds for other causes, if we choose so. 

Prioritise You!

Never underestimate the importance of ambience when it comes to setting the right mood to read uninterrupted.

Find a quiet place, away from the television and mobile devices (unless you are reading a digital book!). Get rid of any other temptations such as heavy snacks that could potentially impede concentration. Never underestimate the importance of ambience when it comes to setting the right mood to read uninterrupted and create an enjoyable experience that bears repeating. Take note of posture. A good back support goes a long way in avoiding neck and back aches.

Engage Online

Create opportunities to make new friends online based on shared interests, or books read.

When you have finally crossed the finish line, do not totally disengage from the book. Talk about it, write about it and share on your social media accounts. This creates a great opportunity to make new friends online based on shared interests, or books read. It might even lead to having a reading partner if joining a book club sounds too archaic for you.

There are no fixed steps to follow in order to cultivate a healthy reading habit. It is up to you to decide the best pathway for yourself and share insights with others. The choice is yours to make. 

Written by: Helmy Sa’at

4 Things You Need to Know about Hijrah in The Prophet’s Era

The month of Muharram has recently concluded. However, the month of Muharram and the Hijrah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ will always be engaging topics of conversation. Consequently, it is a privilege for us to discuss the month of Muharram and this Hijrah.

When Does Hijrah Occur?

Before leaving Mecca and seeking refuge in the Thur cave, the Prophet PBUH started to leave his home at the end of Safar and headed in the direction of the house of Abu Bakar as-Siddiq. At the start of Rabi’ul Awwal, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Abu Bakar left for Medina after three days, using Abdullah Bin ‘Uraiqith as a guide to a different route to Medina.

The Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ arrived in Quba on the eighth of Rabi’ul Awwal and stayed there for four days before travelling to Medina al-Munawwara. While travelling, the Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ and his group stopped to perform Friday prayers near Bani Salim Bin ‘Auf.

Hijrah entourage [Photo: Pexels/Abdelaziz Baba]

How Many Times Has Hijrah Occurred?

Hijrah in the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ happened three times. Before the large-scale emigration to the city of Medina, the Muslim community moved to Ethiopia twice. Ethiopia was selected as the location of the Hijrah because its king was a righteous man who did not oppress his people. Even the Muslims who immigrated to Ethiopia found a good place to live.

The first Hijrah to Ethiopia only involved a small group of companions. When the pressure from the Quraysh kuffar increased, a second Hijrah was made to Ethiopia. After that, more than 100 of the Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ companions were involved. The third Hijrah, the Hijrah to Medina, took place, converting Medina into an Islamic state.

Hijrah and Hijrah Calendar of the Prophet Muhammad

When 1 Muharram arrives, we will recall the events of the Hijrah. Perhaps some of us believed that the Hijrah of the Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ occurred on Muharram 1. The Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ migrated to Medina during the month of Rabi’ul Awwal, so 1 Muharram is not the date of his migration.

The Hijri calendar was established during the reign of Umar bin al-Khattab. The origin of the calendar is the subject of numerous legends. During his reign as caliph, Umar received a letter from Abu Musa al-Asy’ari stating that his letters lacked a date, making it difficult for him to carry out the instructions. Umar then gathered his companions to discuss the situation.

According to another tale, Umar al-Khattab once received a required document dated Sya’ban. It was unknown whether this refers to Sya’ban last year, this year, or next year. Then, a decision was made regarding the setting of the calendar.

In the following tale, a man from Yemen explained that in his culture, dates are written in years and months. Then he stated, “This is a good development.” A calendar was then created.

However, when discussing the setting, they held divergent opinions regarding the beginning of the Hijrah calendar’s calculation. Some argue that the year of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ birth, the year of his Hijrah or the year of his death should be used.

Umar chose to begin the count in the year of the  Prophet Muhammad ﷺ migration because Hijrah is the dividing line between right and wrong. After that, they had divergent opinions regarding which month the year’s calculation began. Then Umar selected the month of Muharram, a haram (noble) month and the month following the pilgrims’ return from Mecca.

Hadith of Hijrah Disclaimer

[Photo: Pexels/Michael Burrows]

There is a hadith where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “There is no emigration (after the conquest of Makkah), but only Jihad (striving in the path of Allah) and some intention. So when you are summoned to go forth (for Jihad), go forth.”

[Narated by Sunan Abi Dawud 2480]

This hadith appears to refute the need for these people to emigrate after the opening of the city of Mecca. The meaning of the hadith, however, is that Muslims living in Mecca at the time of al-fath no longer need to emigrate to Medina and leave Mecca, as Mecca has already become an Islamic city. Muslims are no longer tortured and subjected to oppression because there are so many of them.

Nonetheless, if there is a need for a person to emigrate at this time, Islam continues to recognise the act.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Abdul Rahman Rahuni

Ustaz Abdul Rahman Rahuni. The author is a graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah studying in the field of Islamic Sharia. He is currently an instructor at Sekolah Menengah Ugama Islamiah, Tawau, Sabah.

3 Ways To Build Strong Connections with Your Child

“Will you stop playing on your phone and listen when I talk to you?”

“What are you watching?” you snatch the remote and turn the tv off before walking away in anger or frustration.

Are you guilty of this behavior with your child, no matter their age? 

Now swap places, and think if there was a time your child may have wanted to express this same sentiment, but you were physically and emotionally unavailable. 

While you persevere to teach your children essential skills, problems seem to get complicated with changing times. It is necessary to understand your child’s world and the culture these days, so you can be in a better position to guide and counsel them. 

1. Understanding Dangers of The Digital World 

Our world undeniably revolves around online exposure – movies, games, mobile apps, videos, and streaming services. 

A report published by commonsense media in August 2021 reviewed the privacy protections in the top 10 online video streaming services, and the top 5 video streaming devices, including programming directed at kids and families. Many apps and devices use practices that put the consumers’ privacy at risk; especially that of children.

Not to mention mobile and video games that show explicit content to children!

How much can you filter? 

How much can you avoid? 

How many parental locks on how many devices?

The more you try to restrict and conform, the more rebellious they will get. Curiosity is an inherent human trait, and Islam encourages one to seek knowledge. 

Let it begin with you! 

2. Connection Before Correction

Relationships are built on trust and affection and they thrive when we involve ourselves socially, developing a sense of empathy. Forging healthy associations from a young age help in personal growth and development. It is crucial to nourish the most important one. The one with your child. 

Disagreements, arguments, and tantrums are a part of childhood. Aim to create a middle ground and come together to understand your child’s perspective and put forth your viewpoint too. Connect with your child before you correct them. 

Nurture the bond with your child through daily conversations. Ask if they are facing challenges, and listen to them with an intent to respond, regardless of how trivial the matter may be. Allow your child to have their personal space and encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions regularly during family discussions. 

3. Address Issues Affecting Our Muslim Youth

The list of problems tweens, teens, and young adults deal with is lengthy. However, Muslim children specifically go through these issues. They may be uncomfortable but make an effort to address them. 

  1. Racism
  2. Muslim Representation
  3. Sexual Health
  4. Undervalued Self-worth
  5. Peer Pressure

Will it help to discuss these topics with your child as they enter their tween years? 

YES.

There are innumerable influences ready to grasp your child as they step out in the world. You are their safe haven. 

a mobile phone

Equip them with proper knowledge. Make an effort to understand the purpose of their actions. Join them when they play video games. Read their books, and watch the best movies on Qalbox together that showcase and represent diverse Muslims and Islamic values. Direct them to Islamic apps, literature, scholars, and lectures online. 

What Can You Do?

1. Instill The Islamic Identity

A multi-ethnic group of school children are indoors in a classroom. They are wearing casual clothing. They are sitting on the floor and eagerly listening to their teacher read a storybook.

The foundation of Muslims starts from the moment they are born. Provide an Islamic environment from an early age to strengthen their faith and practice. Begin with gradual age-appropriate routines to develop their spiritual connection to Allah. 

  • Reciting small surahs
  • Listening to our prophets’ stories
  • Reflect on Islamic stories from the Quran
  • Reading and learning about Islamic values and etiquette  
  • Learn the benefits of salah 

Young children may not understand it all, but when they see their parents actively practicing, they will incorporate it into their everyday life.

2. Model a Healthy and Respectful Relationship

Happy middle-eastern mother in headscarf touching foreheads with daughter while finding her after escape from battlefield

This cannot be done overnight. If we desire respect, we must learn to be respectful. Children admire and respect their parents. Knock on their door, so they will knock on yours. 

  • Develop an understanding of manners, modesty, and privacy.
  • Be honest and provide scientifically accurate information that is consistent with Islamic values when your child questions you.
  • Talk about puberty, personal hygiene, menstruation, masturbation, body changes, feelings, hormones, and sexual health during adolescence. Share facts and not superstitions. 
  • Affirm your child’s gender and encourage their identification with the same-sex parent or caregiver.
  •  Teach your child about inappropriate touch and consent.

3. Communication is Key

A Malay Muslim family cooking and preparing food in the kitchen for Hari Raya Aidilfitri/ Eid-Ul-Fitr / lunch/ Dinner / Ramadan / Breaking Fast in Malaysia.

You will come across teachable moments every day. Build your child’s confidence and emotional resilience. Empower them instead of trying to protect them at all times. Understand our culture and guide them. Author and parenting coach Firoza Osman writes in her book How To Talk To Your Muslim Child About Sex,

“Parenting is a tough job. It requires an endless amount of patience, kindness, firmness, and love. Human beings are not perfect, but our ideal role model is Prophet Muhammed ﷺ, and Islam is about striving. Each day we should seek Allah’s Help to try and do better”

Other resources to help you initiate uncomfortable yet valuable conversations with your child are as follows. 

1. https://screenstrong.com/
2. https://fightthenewdrug.org/
3. https://protectyoungeyes.com/
4. https://www.defendyoungminds.com/

Develop a connection with Allah and yourself. As Muslim parents, we are encouraged to nurture our children. They are a gift of Allah put under our trust and care. Nurturing cannot be done solely by words. They need to be watered by love and affection and given the sunlight of education to bloom and aspire to become the flowers in the meadows of Paradise!

Check out an interesting conversation with Sister Firoza Osman as she shares valuable gems on parenting our young ones on the Muslim Pro Instagram!

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