8 Keys to Salvation-Problem and their Solution through Quran

The year 2020 has been a tough one. Recently I read an article which said that COVID-19 has tripled the rate of depression in US adult. I realized that Our Islam is so beautiful. If some one takes lesson from Quran and the pious predecessors, one not only finds Islam to be peaceful but also finds Solution to various Problems. Surely Quran heals and comforts.

I read a very interesting story in the book of Imam Ghazali which I would like to share. This story is taken from the book “Ya Ayyuhal Walad”. It’s English translation is “Dear Beloved Son”.

I have just added the heading so that the Problem and the Solution gets more clear to an average reader. I hope you truly benefit from this pearl of knowledge as much as it has benefited me.

So this story is basically about a Sheikh who asks his student how he benefited from him and the student beautifully answers him covering almost all aspect of the cause of depression and sadness.

Shaqiq Al-Balkhi (RA) was a great ascetic who passed away in 810 CE. Hatim Al-Asam (RA) was a contemporary and a friend of Shaqiq Al-Balkhi (RA) One day Shaqiq (RA) asked Hatim (RA): “You have kept my company for thirty years; what have you gained in the course of these years?”

Hatim (RA) replied:

“I have gained eight benefits from the knowledge which is sufficient for me. I hope my salvation and safety are embodied in them.” Shaqiq (RA) asked Hatim (RA) to mention them. Hatim Al-Asam (RA) said

Problem One – LOVE

“The first benefit is that I observed the creation and saw that everyone had a loved one and one passionately desired whom he loved and longed for. Some of the beloved accompany the lover up to the brink of sickness and death and others to the gate of the graveyard. All of them return and leave him there alone. No one goes into the tomb with him. I looked into the matter and said to myself: ‘The best beloved is that which would enter the tomb with the lover to console him’; I found it to be nothing else than good works, so I took this as my beloved, to illuminate my grave for me and to comfort me in it and not leave me alone.

Problem Two – LUST and DESIRE

The second benefit is that I saw that people were following their lusts and hastening towards the desires of the souls; and I meditated on the saying of the Exalted:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِۦ وَنَهَى ٱلنَّفْسَ عَنِ ٱلْهَوَىٰ

فَإِنَّ ٱلْجَنَّةَ هِىَ ٱلْمَأْوَىٰ

But as for whoever has feared the majesty of his Lord and has refrained his soul from lust, truly the Garden shall be his dwelling place.

[Surah An- Nazi’at 79: 40/41]

Convinced that the Qur’an was true and right, I began to deny my soul [its pleasures] and hurried to combat it and refuse it its passionate desires, until it enjoyed real satisfaction in obedience to Allah (SWT) the Exalted.

Problem Three -WEALTH

The third benefit is that I saw that every human being trying his best to accumulate as much as he can from the wreckage of this world and then holding on strongly it. I meditated on the Qur’anic verse:

مَا عِندَكُمْ يَنفَدُ ۖ وَمَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ بَاقٍۢ ۗ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُوٓا۟ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ

What is with you must vanish; what is with Allah (SWT) must endure.

[ Surah An-Nahl 16:96]

So I gave freely my worldly possessions for His sake by distributing them among the poor so that it would be my provision in the future with
Him the Exalted.

Problem Four – DIGNITY and HONOUR

The fourth benefit is that some people whom I observed think that their dignity and honour lie in the multitude of their family and large clans. They were fascinated by these things. Others claimed honour and dignity in abundance of wealth and children and they were proud of it. Some believed honour and power abide in appropriating the wealth of others, doing injustice to them and shedding their blood. Others considered dignity to consist of extravagance and spending wealth in a foolish manner. I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted:

ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌۭ

The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you.

[Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13]

I chose righteousness for myself, convinced that the Qur’an is right and true and those claims and opinions of the people are all false and temporal.

Religious  muslim man holding holy quran

Problem Five – ENVY OF FORTUNE

The fifth benefit is that I found the people slandering each other and speaking ill of one another out of envy of fortune, power and knowledge. I meditated upon the saying of Allah (SWT):

أَهُمْ يَقْسِمُونَ رَحْمَتَ رَبِّكَ ۚ نَحْنُ قَسَمْنَا بَيْنَهُم مَّعِيشَتَهُمْ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا ۚ وَرَفَعْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍۢ دَرَجَـٰتٍۢ لِّيَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُهُم بَعْضًۭا سُخْرِيًّۭا ۗ وَرَحْمَتُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌۭ مِّمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ

Is it they who distribute your Lord’s mercy? It is We who divide their livelihood among them in the life of this world.

[Surah Az-Zukhruf 43:32].

I realised that the process of dividing livelihood is entirely in the hands of Allah (SWT) since the beginning of time. Therefore I never envied anyone and was satisfied with the distribution of Allah (SWT) the Exalted.

Problem Six – ENEMITY

The sixth benefit is that I saw people becoming enemies of each other for
different reasons. I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted:

إِنَّ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّۭ فَٱتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا ۚ إِنَّمَا يَدْعُوا۟ حِزْبَهُۥ لِيَكُونُوا۟ مِنْ أَصْحَـٰبِ ٱلسَّعِيرِ

Verily Satan is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy.

[Surah Fatir 35:6]

I became aware that enmity with anyone but Satan was not permissible.

Problem Seven – FRUSTRATION

The seventh benefit is that I saw everyone working very hard, exhausting
himself to obtain food and sustenance, tempted by doubts and forbidden things. They degrade themselves in humiliation. I pondered over the saying of the Allah the Exalted:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍۢ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى ٱللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا ۚ كُلٌّۭ فِى كِتَـٰبٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ

There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance dependent on Allah.

[Surah Hud 11:6]

I knew that my livelihood is guaranteed by Allah (SWT) the Exalted so I engaged myself in worship and cut off my covetousness of all else, other than He.

Silhouette of Female Muslim praying in mosque during sunset time, dua, worship, Allah, maghrib, salah, namaaz, doaa

Problem Eight – EXPECTATION

The eight benefit is that I saw that everyone relied on some created thing,
some on the dinar and dirham, some on wealth and property, some on trade and craft and some on creatures like themselves.
I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted:

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُۥٓ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَـٰلِغُ أَمْرِهِۦ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ قَدْرًۭا

And whosoever places his reliance on Allah (SWT), sufficient is [Allah] for him. For Allah (SWT) will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily for all things has Allah (SWT) appointed a due proportion.

[Surah At-Talaq 65:3]”

I therefore placed full trust in Allah the Exalted. He is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs.’

At this point Shaqiq (RA) said:

“May Allah bless you and grant you success. I looked into the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Zabur and the Qur’an and have found that the four books revolve around these eight benefits. Whoever works according to them is working according to these four books.”

This article was originally published on islamhastag.com.

About the Author

Fahmina Jawed is in her final year of a six-year Alimah course. She holds the  qualification of an Optometrist and her highest qualification is PG Diploma in Hospital administration. Her aim was to open a hospital and remove the darkness from People’s life but when she realised that the greater darkness will be that of the darkness on the day of judgement and only a true momin will have noor running in front of them and on their sides, she began to focus more on acquiring and spreading religious knowledge. She runs a blog Islamhashtag.com and is more famous with her nickname Aafiya.

A Muslim’s Guide to Living in the Moment

I Feel Stuck In The Past

Many still feel guilty about past sins despite repenting. cant let go of people that used to be a part of their lives or accept that things change in ways we dont always get.

Some also wish they could go back and enjoy moments or think they’d have done things differently if they knew better, forgetting it was all written anyway.

I Feel Scared About The Future

We also have those who obsess over the uncertainty of what is coming up. Those who live in the fear of not being able to achieve their goals.

Those who are terrified of death and those who are too attached to this dunya to remember it is only a stop in the journey of the believer.

Allah Is Al-Qadir

Listen: there is so much beauty in not having control over and not knowing everything. Just let go of that pressure and remember that He is Al-Qadir, that nothing can go against His will when He decrees something.

Take the past as a gift that made you YOU, welcome the future as one step closer to meeting The One who forgave you, guided you and decided what was best for you from the second you were born to your last breath. The only thing left to do is being in the present moment and trusting Him.

Be In The Moment

Muslim woman wearing hijab relaxing on savanna at sumba island indonesia

Take a step back and think “what am I earning from the remaining in a past I already lived or overthinking a future I’m not sure I’ll experience?” … See what the answer is?

If not, let me tell you: nothing.

You cant change your past or predict your future, but you can surely seize the precious moments you are given now to become the best version of yourself. I mean, isn’t that what will give you both a beautiful past to cherish and a peaceful future you wont have to worry about anymore?

This article was first published on the Instagram handle @themizaan.

About the Author

The Mizaan is an online platform created by Assia, the founder, to provide a safe space for Muslims women to discover more about their faith. With the intention to empower Muslim women and to eradicate the stigma around Islam, Assia has been creating inspiring and insightful content across all her social media platforms promoting Islam as a peace and beautiful religion that gives comfort to Muslims living in this wordly life.

3 Things That Distract Us From Making Good Decisions

Can you imagine a day of your life having nothing to decide on? How does that feel? Say you wake up in the morning, you have tasks to do, goals to achieve. But you don’t want to decide on anything; all you want to do is lie in bed. Wait, that was a decision you just made.

The ability to decide and have a choice is quite liberating when you think about it. It gives us a sense of autonomy. From the littlest things in life such as the above scenario to the most important life decisions such as buying a house, getting married, and making a career change; our choices normally reflect our values and interests. More often than not, our experiences also shape how we make decisions which can be debilitating or inspiring.

Either way, it can be overwhelming to continuously make decisions. And with the complexity of living in the pandemic, many have been affected physically, mentally and emotionally. Hence, we may have more factors to consider before settling on an effective decision. 

Humans Are Capable But We Have Limitations Too.

But that doesn’t mean we are doomed. Acknowledging these limitations allows us to find new ways to make things work. Based on my limited life experiences and readings, here are some factors that may sabotage our decision-making process and how to avoid them. 

1. Dwelling on the past and making poor comparisons

Dwell, Past, Decision, Choices, Confused

I put these two points together because most of the time when we look at our past experiences, especially if it wasn’t a pleasant one, it may affect our decision-making process.

Well, learning from past experiences has its pros and cons. But, more often than not, we would evaluate the current situation equally to what we’ve experienced before when it isn’t the same. Each situation has different variables which we can and cannot see.

So, say I had a bad experience driving a particular car model that I wasn’t familiar with. I was alone in the car in a multi-storey carpark, and as I stepped on the accelerator, I lost control and almost bumped into the car in front of me. That’s not all, there was another car coming from the side, towards me, in this constrained space.

Would I have panicked? Of course! Then suppose a week later, a friend asks if I would drive her car — coincidentally of the same model I had driven and had the accident with. Had I allowed my one bad experience to take over my logical sense, my answer would be a definite no.

But I know I have the skills to drive a car and this time the conditions are different; we are in an open parking lot with more space to navigate. So I can choose not to succumb to poor comparisons of a single bad experience.

What’s the lesson here? Perhaps, the next time we find ourselves in a similar situation to one which occurred in the past, we can look at the variables and try to be objective, especially when making an important decision.

2. Being emotionally attached to what we have invested in

When we decide to invest in something, at that point of time, we feel that it’s the best choice for us.

muslim, couple. decision, wedding plan, wedding reception,

Let’s say you sign up for a wedding reception of 2,000 attendees before COVID-19. You put in 20 percent deposit to secure the booking, and you are looking forward to your big day! On top of this, you have also secured a marital house, which would be ready just in time before your wedding.

All is well until COVID-19 hit and your wedding is just a month a way. You’re offered to proceed with a simple nikah ceremony for 20 pax only but at an additional cost, and the wedding reception package is put on hold until restrictions are eased. You ask for a refund but your request is rejected.

Because you’ve already made that deposit and have your mind set, you decide to follow through with the wedding package and the nikah, hoping that you might be able to hold a reception in the future in spite of the extra costs. In this case, you’ve succumbed to your emotional attachments to your initial decision. In other words, this is also a great example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

The moral of the story: You don’t always have to follow through with your initial plans. Doing so may not always be a good decision to make. Evaluate your situation as objective as possible and if there are alternatives that are more time and cost-effective, be open to consider those. 

3. Not seeking guidance from Allah and others 

Prayer, Muslim, Islam, Istikhara, Decisions

A decision-making process involves evaluating and assessing the available choices and solutions at hand, weighing the pros and cons, and selecting the best option based on our knowledge, skills and/or experiences of the given situation.

However, a great decision involves seeking consultation from others. Seeking others’ advice is one way to broaden your perspectives and see things through a different lens. It certainly doesn’t reflect a person’s lack of credibility or display indecisiveness. 

What needs to be considered is the person we consult. As mentioned by Imam Al-Nawawi, we should consult with those whom we have the confidence and trust in in their knowledge and wisdom.

Other Muslim scholars such as Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami also mentioned that seeking consultation from others can prevent us from our own bias or ‘egotistic inclinations’ as he called it. As mentioned in this verse:

“Consult with them in (conducting) matters. Once you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him.”

[Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:159]

According to Imam Al-Nawawi, seeking consultation from others comes before we perform the Istikhara prayer.

How many times have we been regretful of our own decisions? Perhaps this happens as we put so much expectation on ourselves and others. When making a decision, we are recommended as Muslims to perform the Istikhara prayer to seek Allah’s help and guidance.

Let us not forget to include Allah in our decision-making process as He is the All-Knowing and He knows best. With His wisdom and guidance, we will surely be inspired to make the best decision in all of our affairs, inshaAllah. 

Written by Noorsakinah

Foundation of A Muslim: The 5 Pillars of Islam

وعن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏بني الإسلام على خمس‏:‏ شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدًا عبده ورسوله، إقام الصلاة، وإيتاء الزكاة، وحج البيت، وصوم رمضان‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

Ibn ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “(The structure of) Islam is built on five (pillars): Testification of ‘La ilaha illallah’ (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), that Muhammad ﷺ is his slave and Messenger, the establishment of Salat, the payment of Zakat, the pilgrimage to the House of Allah (Ka’bah), and Saum during the month of Ramadan.”

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Riyad as-Salihin 1206]

Importance of the 5 Pillars of Islam

The foundation of a Muslim is based on these five pillars. Believers are encouraged to lead their life according to these practices to strengthen their connection with Allah and live a life of righteousness. 

1. Shahada 

The profession and love of Allah. The acceptance of his authority over everything and the trust that there is no God but Allah and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is His last Prophet.

This pillar reminds Muslims of their purpose: to worship Allah in all circumstances and time. In happiness and sadness.

It provides a sense of self-respect and boosts confidence in an individual to remain modest, for the only one who provides and we need to turn to is Allah.

A true believer will feel a sense of liberation, contentment and gratitude.

2. Salah 

A Muslim has been commanded by Allah to perform five prayers daily. To stand in front of Allah, our creator with all our concentration and self. To bow in supplication and to know that there is nothing between you and Allah.

Praying slowly and peacefully provides the mind with contentment and enriches the soul.

Offering prayers with the best of intentions purifies the heart for better communication with Allah. The more you immerse yourself in the duas and Quranic verses you pray during salah, you will feel your body lighten up and positive energy radiate from your thoughts.  

A man offering salah

Consistently offering prayers at the given time pushes you to follow a discipline and brings consistency and calm in your life. 

When congregating in prayers, there is no inequality. All brothers and sisters are the same. A servant in front of his Master. 

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

‏ صَلاَةُ الْجَمَاعَةِ تَزِيدُ عَلَى صَلاَةِ الْفَذِّ خَمْسًا وَعِشْرِينَ دَرَجَةً

Prayer in congregation is twenty-five levels better than a prayer offered on one’s own.

[Sunan an-Nasa’i 839]

3. Zakat

وَأَقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُوا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ ۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا۟ لِأَنفُسِكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

And establish prayer and give zakāh, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah. Indeed Allah, of what you do, is Seeing.

[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:110]

Zakat as referred to charity teaches Muslims of their obligation towards the poor. It makes them realize their privilege and nourishes the feelings of compassion and brotherhood towards others who may not be equally fortunate.

Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said :

‏ “‏ تَبَسُّمُكَ فِي وَجْهِ أَخِيكَ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَأَمْرُكَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهْيُكَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِرْشَادُكَ الرَّجُلَ فِي أَرْضِ الضَّلاَلِ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَبَصَرُكَ لِلرَّجُلِ الرَّدِيءِ الْبَصَرِ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِمَاطَتُكَ الْحَجَرَ وَالشَّوْكَةَ وَالْعَظْمَ عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِفْرَاغُكَ مِنْ دَلْوِكَ فِي دَلْوِ أَخِيكَ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ ‏”‏

Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is the charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.

[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1956]

This pillar emphasizes that we share what Allah grants us, in turn pushing us away from being selfish and ungrateful. 

Helping others by sharing what you have been bestowed with creates a sense of like-mindedness and a feeling of belonging among the poor.

Charity unintentionally creates a balance in society among the rich and the poor and always reminds the giver and the taker, the blessings of Allah.

4. Saum

Saum, known as fasting, is to abstain from food, drink, and otherworldly pleasures from dawn to dusk. Fasting during the Holy month of Ramadhan is mandatory for all Muslims. 

It has numerous scientific and spiritual benefits. It helps develop willpower, stamina and patience. 

It strengthens our ability to acknowledge the blessings of Allah by actively denying worldly desires. Fasting is a kind of zakat we pay for our bodies.

وَعَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ زَكَاةٌ وَزَكَاةُ الْجَسَدِ الصَّوْمُ» . رَوَاهُ ابْن مَاجَه

Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, “There is zakat applicable to everything, and the zakat of the body is fasting.”

Ibn Majah transmitted it.

[Mishkat al-Masabih 2072]

5. Hajj

Hajj is the last pillar of Islam. It is mandatory for those who can afford it financially and make the journey physically. Muslims from all over the world, from all branches, come together to perform Hajj with only one niyaah, to get closer to Allah and return home free from their sins.  

It is a unique sight when Muslims gather, pray and perform in unison without dismay or disrespect for their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.

Hajj

It is a powerful, emotional, and spiritual event for all those who are blessed to visit the house of Allah. 

حَدَّثَنَا آدَمُ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا سَيَّارٌ أَبُو الْحَكَمِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا حَازِمٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ حَجَّ لِلَّهِ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 1521]

A Strong Foundation

The five pillars of Islam demand us to productively and intentionally use our bodies and minds in the service of Allah. The world is a riveting cage, and we get used to the pleasures of this life. Sometimes we may forget our true home; where Allah wants us to be free, in Paradise. 

Make your aqeedah strong, let your mind and heart be disciplined, your foundation be form. Once in the hands of Allah, we will all be free.

5 Essential Life Skills To Teach Your Child

Dear parent,

Are you tired of screaming at your kids for simple tasks?

Then sighing out of frustration because you have to drag them forcefully and watch them complete their task? If only they could do it in the first place with a smile on their faces.

Instead of lashing out at your children, teach them these life skills.

5 Essential Life Skills

1. Decision-making

Decision-making starts from the moment we realize we have a choice. We introduce options to our children — an apple or a banana, a chocolate or a sweet — and as they grow up, the options get more complex and difficult. 

Father teaching his daughter

As parents or primary caregivers, it is our prerogative to help them make better choices from the mind and heart, and hone their decision-making skills. You can help them to:

  •  identify the problem;
  •  explore options;
  •  compare pros and cons;
  •  plan your action; and
  •  gauge consequences.

Follow up with providing guidance to support your child in making the right decisions.

2. Maintaining Health and Hygiene

Cleanliness is essential to our practices, not just for our prayers, but for a healthy life. Rather than commanding them to perform certain tasks, explain why they need to do it.  

حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا صَدَقَةُ بْنُ خَالِدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عُتْبَةُ بْنُ أَبِي حَكِيمٍ، حَدَّثَنِي طَلْحَةُ بْنُ نَافِعٍ أَبُو سُفْيَانَ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو أَيُّوبَ الأَنْصَارِيُّ، وَجَابِرُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، وَأَنَسُ بْنُ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ، نَزَلَتْ ‏{فِيهِ رِجَالٌ يُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَتَطَهَّرُوا وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُطَّهِّرِينَ}‏ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏”‏ يَا مَعْشَرَ الأَنْصَارِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَثْنَى عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الطُّهُورِ فَمَا طُهُورُكُمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا نَتَوَضَّأُ لِلصَّلاَةِ وَنَغْتَسِلُ مِنَ الْجَنَابَةِ وَنَسْتَنْجِي بِالْمَاءِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ هُوَ ذَلِكَ فَعَلَيْكُمُوهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Abu Sufyan said:

“Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, Jabir bin ‘Abdullah, and Anas bin Malik told me that when this Verse: “In it (the mosque) are men who love to clean and to purify themselves. And Allah loves those who make themselves clean and pure.” was revealed, the Messenger of Allah said: ‘O Ansar! Allah has praised you for your cleanliness. What is the nature of your cleanliness?’ They said: ‘We perform ablution for prayer and we take bath to cleanse ourselves of impurity due to sexual activity, and we clean ourselves with water (after urinating). He said: ‘This is what it is. So adhere to it.'”

[Sunan Ibn Majah 355]

This is definitely a challenge, the foundation of which needs to be strong. Once the habits are established, you will have one less thing to worry about. Create a task table, or allocate timings for certain tasks, and let them see you perform the task as well.

Actions speak louder than words, so introduce your children to the following habits when appropriate:

  • Practise good dental hygiene and brush regularly, at least twice a day.

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ أَبِي الزِّنَادِ، عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ لَوْلاَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِي ـ أَوْ عَلَى النَّاسِ ـ لأَمَرْتُهُمْ بِالسِّوَاكِ مَعَ كُلِّ صَلاَةٍ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak for every prayer.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 887]

  • Perform wudhu with the right mannerisms (arkaan).
  • Bathe (ghusul) and clean yourself thoroughly after urinating or defecating.
  • Remove pubic and armpit hair once every 40 days.
  • Clip nails regularly.
  • Maintain a good appearence, wear clean and washed underwear and garments.
  • Encourage use of attar, especially on Fridays.
  • Being mindful while sneezing and coughing.
  • Promote healthy eating habits and practices.
  • Maintain cleanliness around the house, refrain from littering the streets.

3. Time Management

“Wait a minute”, “give me 5 minutes”, “later!” and other such phrases are common responses we’ve heard from our children. Time management is not only reading the clock and getting things done on time. It’s organizing, planning and executing tasks at a scheduled period. The simplest example would be to pray on time!      

Communicating with your child

These are a few ways to teach your children the value of time and planning:

  • Make simple calendars (individual and family) and fill them together
  • Prioritise tasks and reward them for timely actions
  • For children who love technology, add kid-friendly organisational apps to their gadgets to make it a fun exercise.  
  • Communicate gently for best results

4. Financial Literacy

We see numbers everywhere. However, how many of us realize the importance of numbers in our lives? Introduce the understanding of money from an early age, so when they start earning they can deal with money rationally.

Do not start from when they turn one. Instead, gradually as they understand calculations, introduce basic money matters to your child:

  • The concept of savings from an early age.
  • Talk about Zakat and Charity.
  • Talk about earning halal money.
  • Discuss how we deal with interest (riba).

Have conversations about the Islamic nature of handling finance and allow them to manage and use money. This can be difficult, but not impossible.  

5. Survival Chores 

Oh yes! This has to be the most important one. The umpteen number of times we see clothes thrown on the floor and the dishes left in the sink. It is definitely something our children need to realize, that we will not be there to pick up after them for the rest of their lives. 

Teach them the following survival skills before it’s too late:

  • Make time to teach and direct your child to do age-appropriate tasks.
  • Teach them to prep meals; not an entire dining menu yet, but enough to make themselves a sandwich or an egg, or pour themselves a glass of milk and cereal.
  • Teach them first aid and quick response when they hurt themselves.
  • Teach them to clean up after themselves, make their bed, switch off the lights, and put away their laundry.
  • Teach them about budgeting and buying items.
  • Teach them about fixing things around and about the house.
  • Encourage them to be of service to people in need of help. 

It may seem like a lot. However, take a back seat and think of your child as a little human, a Muslim brother or sister you are raising. Think of your teachings and imparting knowledge as a service to Allah. Not only will it make your parental journey easy, but it will make your path to Jannah blissful! Inshallah.

Written by Farida Haji

Why Won’t My Kids Listen To Me?

This is a really lovely way of asking the real question, “How do I get my child to do as I say?” and this has been the age-old dilemma of parenting forever!

In order to answer this question there are a few things we need to consider which requires shifting the lens a little:

1. Respect their viewpoint

Everyone has a unique and subjective view of the world, including our children. When we see this we can begin to see our children’s innate resilience and well-being and we can start to parent from a place where love and connection can flourish.

Seeing beyond the myths and the made-up stories about ourselves and our children in our ego-based thoughts means we no longer need to fix, change or improve either them or ourselves in order to feel ok and be happy…we are perfect as we are.

2. We are NOT in control

Our children are a gift from Allah to look after, given to us at a prescribed time. We are the means by which they came into the world but Allah designed them.

As the parent, we are responsible to guide our child, which in turn requires guiding our self. We are responsible to guide our children but this does not guarantee what the outcome will be. Only Allah is in control. Our efforts to guide our child is like us tying our camel, we are doing our bit, fulfilling our purpose but we have no control over how Allah will then guide our child or not.

Knowing that Allah is in control, not you, relieves you of the pressure and burden of responsibility and ultimately sets you free. This directs the focus of your love and effort from your child back to yourself, so that you empower your child through sincerely being your authentic self. The blessings in this is that both you and your child grow together, toward harmony and peace.

happy girl listens to mother

3. Self-care is critical

You have to love yourself before you can love your child. You cannot be whole, true, present, healthy when you have nothing to give. How can you be anything to your child, how can you hope to parent them, to do what you think is best by them if you are empty?

You cannot give what you do not have. When you administer soul care rather than self care, you fill your cup with mercy, kindness and compassion and that is what you will have to give to your children and your family.

4. Self-love matters

The unconditional love that you have for your child is the love you can give to the child. The disconnection or connection to the true self within you will determine the level of connection with your child. Since you can only give what you have, if you accept and love yourself, you can be accepting and loving to your child.

If you are ashamed of yourself, you will give shame to your child. Being who you truly are, naturally, warts an’ all, allows your child to accept them self and evolve naturally into fulfilling their potential.

5.  Connection is key

Once we see ourselves for who we truly are and see our children and who they truly are, we see the truth. Honest, true, peaceful parenting can only come from the heart. when we see our children without judgement, without labels, with honest objectivity, and we see their souls.

We see their true selves and we can only parent honestly when we parent from our inner true self, without our self-doubt, impossible high standards and self-judgment.

This is what leads to true and deep connection; the connection of one soul to another and this is the key to being present, letting go of your expectations and judgments and just seeing your child and yourself for who you really are.

6. Don’t force them to listen!

Connection is the antidote to coercion and it far outweighs any other methods in its ability to shape our children’s behavior. Quite simply, it is the only reason our kids willingly give up with what they want to do and do what we ask of them instead. It makes children feel safe.

When connection is lost and children don’t feel safe, they do something they think will make them feel better. Sometimes that’s a positive thing, like coming to us for a hug. But often they do something that’s not healthy. They tease their siblings or lash out in anger, which makes them feel more powerful. Investing in deepening the connection between yourself and your kids; from dedicated one‐on‐one time to child‐led play to more cuddles a day, it always makes a difference.

7. Feelings are okay

The most valuable gift you can give your children is to point them to the true nature of their feelings and that they don’t need a ‘solution’ to them. Thoughts come and go and we don’t need to do anything to feel better except to let our thoughts pass.

So rather than try to fix their outside world to protect their emotions and help them be happier, we need to enable them to realize that their feelings do not come from the outside world.

It might look and feel like it does sometimes, and there is nothing better than a quick cuddle or removal of the ‘reason, but we can balance that with pointing them to the true nature of life, and their own ability to be okay with whatever is going on around them.

The way we communicate with our children powers our connection, which in turn enables their cooperation. When we parent with this in mind, this beautiful journey of motherhood might just be a little less bumpy, in sha Allah.

The article first appeared on halalparenting.com

About the Author
Farah Halabi is a certified Transformational coach, Mumming Mastery and Soulcare Specialist and International speaker. Farah helps stressed out, overwhelmed and overstretched mums discover their own unique awesomeness to lead them to parent in peace, not in pieces. pieces. Farah supports mums and women, to uncover their innate God given gifts to lead a life of insightful wisdom and peace. Working with her helps you understand how you can transform and enhance your life in ways you never imagined and more, creating the life you want, to live a life you love.

Allah In My Art: Illumination

 The Series Allah In My Art is a humble effort to explore elements of the Islamic Arts through a perspective of faith and understanding of Allah through the eyes of an artist.

The Inspiration

ٱللَّهُ نُورُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِۦ كَمِشْكَوٰةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ ٱلْمِصْبَاحُ فِى زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ ٱلزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّىٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَـٰرَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِىٓءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِى ٱللَّهُ لِنُورِهِۦ مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْأَمْثَـٰلَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp; the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.

[Surah An-Nur 24:35]

Illumination is defined as spiritual or intellectual enlightenment. Allah is An-Noor. His bounties and blessings are infinite. His guidance is clarity for the heart that He provides time and again.  

Artworks with illumination contain gold metal, gold leaf, shell gold paint, or are brushed with gold specks for beautification.

This article shall follow an influential facet of beautification, the art of tezhip / tazhib that gave the words of the Divine the stature it deserves and promoted the wealth of patrons who commissioned illuminated artworks. Read about Quran manuscripts and artists who painstakingly and laboriously create stunning artworks, all in the name of Allah, the ultimate guiding light.

Works of Art

1. Gold on Tobacco Leaf 

Calligraphic Composition
(Source, Khalili Collections)

From 19th century Ottoman, Turkey, this calligraphic composition with the text of bismillah (‘In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful’) in gold is made to fit inside the natural shape of the leaf. The vertical strokes of the letters follow the line of the stem of the leaf, a vital element in determining the composition of an inscription.

2. Single-volume Qur’an, Iraq

Single Volume Qur’an
(Source, Khalili Collections)

The surviving left-hand folio of the double-page frontispiece (folio 1a) dates to 1000-1050 AD, Iraq. Designed as two overlapping circles in a braided frame, each containing part of the verse, letter, and diacritical count. This derives from the illumination of early Qur’ans in oblong format and indicates that the transition to vertical format did not immediately bring a radical new layout.

The surah headings are in gold Kufic script, with a marginal gold palmette which occasionally contains the name of the place where the surah was revealed. Individual verses are not marked, but groups of five and ten are, the latter also with a marginal medallion bearing the number of verses. The manuscript ends with an illuminated double finispiece.

3. Illuminated Miniature Octagonal Qur’an

Illuminated Miniature Octagonal Quran
(Source, Sotheby’s)

This illuminated miniature octagonal Qur’an from the 16th century Ottoman era, Turkey, Istanbul, copied by Da’ud ibn Abdullah is an Arabic manuscript on gold-sprinkled paper, 189 leaves plus 2 flyleaves and 12 lines to the page. It is written in minute ghubari script in black ink with surah headings in black on gold illuminated panels, margins ruled in gold, black and blue, with folio numbers in red above the text panels; the opening double-page frontispiece and the finispiece illuminated in polychrome and gold comprising elegant floral and foliate scrolls surrounding the text panels; the gilt-stamped leather binding with scrolling arabesques, in nielloed silver fitted case.

4. Asma Ul Husna Manuscript

Asma Ul Husna Manuscript

The Asma Ul Husna manuscript by Pakistani artist Alefiya Abas Ali has the names of Allah in 24k pure shell gold. Placed in lapis blue colored eight-pointed star, the corners have a tree of life, symbolizing divinity. The artwork is inspired by Qur’anic Manuscripts from the Mamluk and Safavid dynasty of the 16th to 18th century.

The ‘Breath of the Compassionate’ or ‘al-nafas al-rahman’ is an eight-point star pattern. Number 8 has deep meaning in Islam. Eight symbolizes eternity and absolute perfection.

This artwork has been created using centuries-old traditional techniques of illumination painting.

“The process and creation felt like meditation. It helped me connect with the names of Allah and the painting became a way dhikr. I experienced moments of ecstasy. The Asma ul Husna manuscript is prepared entirely with natural pigments from scratch and took over 3 months to complete. I feel extremely proud to have used my art to praise Almighty most beautifully,” shares Alefiya.

The paper is dyed with natural dye, i.e., dried pomegranate skin stained, sized, and burnished with agate stone. Pigments are derived from natural sources like lapis blue, bone black, and 24ct pure shell gold.

5. Maktub

Maktub

Maryam Souza, a Brazilian Muslim convert and plastic artist shares her fascinating tryst with art and illumination. 

“What fascinates me about the Islamic Illumination are its details and the delicacy of strokes. The biform patterns that intertwine and show an infinity of possibilities, the golden glow that makes the work appear to be alive, the symmetry and complexity of the patterns that hypnotize; show how small we are, close to the greatness of the Creator.

My main ideas come from reading the Qur’an or other Islamic texts, which makes Islam the main source of my inspiration. My work speaks a lot about my faith, about what I’m feeling, the more I study, the more I connect with Allah, and the more pleasurable my creative process becomes; making it a constant reminder of Him, which always keeps me on the lookout for whatever I bring to my works, will please Him. The light of gold in my works represents the light of Islam in my life.”

6. Tasneem Afaneh

Painting of Mural, Yazd Mosque

Tasneem Afaneh is a Palestinian artist based in Jerusalem. She shares her heartwarming story, “My creative journey began with a simple drawing, sewing, embroidery, handicrafts, and Arabic calligraphy, but in the past years I discovered the passion for Islamic decorative arts in particular.

I realized the importance of these arts in our lives as Muslims. I found that learning these arts connects us to our rich and beautiful history. Islamic arts are closely linked to the mosque, which is the place of worship and communication with God. The importance of large mosques as a place of worship and a center for gathering. Therefore, it can be said that the first place in which Islamic art was manifested is the mosque.”

Talking about her artwork, she writes, “One of the most beautiful paintings and the one closest to my heart is a mural in the mosque of Yazd Mosque in Iran. I was fascinated with it and with the beauty of its details and colors. I never imagined that I would paint it, so it holds a special place for me. I used gold in this painting because I felt it lit a part of my soul and opened my eyes to this wonderful art.

Gilding or illumination is often used to decorate the margins of the Qur’an, books of poetry, and books featuring miniatures. It is greatly inspired by nature, but the rules of the drawings are based on Islamic geometry, which is hidden in the botanical details known in this art.”

Through her work, she looks forward to documenting and analyzing the patterns on the Islamic monuments in the city of Jerusalem to preserve them in the face of many natural and political factors in particular in this difficult stage that Palestine and the city of Jerusalem, in particular, are going through.

Understanding Art

Islamic art is a modern concept created by art historians to categorize and study the style and art that emerged from Arabia since the 7th century. Islamic art over the centuries has been influenced by Greek, Roman, early Christian, Byzantine, Sassanians, and Chinese art styles.

Exploring elements of the Islamic arts has made it evident that it is not an art specific to a religion, time, place, or type. Instead, it is the art form that flourished with the spread of Islam and Islamic rulers who at some point ruled over non-Muslim masses.

The art form covered lands and populations through manuscripts, paintings, pottery, glass, stones, tiles, ceramics, carvings, metalworks, textiles, and the most visually evident — architecture!

Let us take a moment to appreciate what Allah inspires in us every single day. Let us illuminate in His teachings and live our best lives. 

And so, we come to the end of the series Allah In My Art!

Thank you for your interest and support. 

Timeline: The History of Islamic Art and Architecture

For the past 1,400 years, artistic treasures of the Islamic world have only been growing. The period between the 8th to 10th centuries is considered a golden era for Islamic arts.  

Lets take a look at some of the major works in the history of Islamic arts, design, and architecture from the advent of the 7th century until the dawn of the 20th century.

610 – 632 CE | The Quran was revealed to the Prophet ﷺ.

654 CE | A standardised version of the Quran was issued and sent across the four cities of Madinah, Damascus, Kufa, and Basra. 

691 CE | Umayyad Caliph Abd al -Malik oversaw the building of the Dome of Rock in Jerusalem. 

762 CE | Abbasid Caliph Al -Mansur founded Madinat Al-Salaam (The City of Peace), later known as Baghdad by the Tigris river in Iraq.

775 CE | Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi became the first ruler to put his name on official coinage.

805 CE| Abbasid Caliph Harun Al Rashid established the first public hospital in Baghdad. Multiple Bimaristans (place of the sick) were built-in major cities of the Abbasid Empire.

830 CE | Abbasid Caliph Al- Mamun established the Bayt Al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) – a library and center for translation of texts in Baghdad.

848 CE | Abbasid Caliph Al- Mutawakkkil built the Great Mosque of Samarra with its Spiral Minaret.

850 CE| Muhammed Al Bukhari compiled the Sahih Bukhari. It is considered the most authentic of all existent book of hadiths. 

859 CE| The oldest known Madrasa, the Qarawiyyin Madrasa was established in Fez, Morocco.

886 CE | Abbasid vizier Ibn Muqla identified the ‘Six Pens’ or classic scripts of calligraphy.

936 CE | Umayyad Caliph Abd Al-Rahman III built the city of Madinat Al-Zahra near Cordoba, Spain.

959 CE | A madrasa was set up alongside the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, today known as one of the most prestigious Al-Azhar University.

1009 CE| Iranian poet Firdawsi compiled his 60,000 couplets, Shahnama (Book of Kings).

1078 CE| The Ribat-i Malik caravanserai was built by the Qarankhanid Sultan Nasr.

1088 CE | The Friday Mosque of Isfahan was originally built in 771 under the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur and has been extended and rebuilt throughout the centuries, The South and North Iwans were added much later and has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2012.

1096 CE |  Famitid vizier Badr Al-Jamali rebuilt Cairo’s city walls and constructed the gates of Bab Al-Nasr and Bab Al-Futuh.

1135 CE | One of the earliest surviving mosques, The Grand Mosque of Zavareh, was built with four iwans.

1154 CE | Moroccan geographer Muhammed Al- Idrisi completed his celebrated world map during the medieval period called the Tabula Rogerina.

1172 CE | The Almohads built the Great Mosque in Seville, Spain, which later became a Christian Cathedral.

1190 CE | Ghurid Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Muhammed built the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan.

1193 CE | The construction of the Qutub Minar in Delhi, marked the triumph of Islam in India.

1199 CE | The Kitab Al-Diryaq (Book of Antidotes) was made for the Zangid rulers of Mosul (Iraq).

1269 CE | The oldest Mosque of East Africa, the Mosque of Fakhr al-Din, was built by the first Sultan of Mogadishu.

1306 CE | An exquisite stucco mihrab is added to the winter iwan of the Friday Mosque in Isfahan.

1333 CE | The Nasrid sultans of Granada expanded the Alhambra Palace, building the Comres Palace and the Palace of the Lions.

1463 CE | Mehmit II built the Mehmet Faith Kuliye in Istanbul. It contained a mosque, mausolea, hospital, caravanserai, bathhouse, two madrasas, library, and a soup kitchen.

1567 CE | Young Emperor Akbar commissioned a manuscript of romance, Hamzanama, with 1,400 paintings.

1565 CE | Mughal ruler Akbar rebuilt the Red Fort of Agra.

1609 CE | Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I built the Blue Mosque of Istanbul.

1632 CE | Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a memorial shrine for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

1656 CE | Building of the Jama Masjid in Delhi was completed.

1855 CE | Architects Garabet Amira Balyan and Nigogayas Balyan completed the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul for Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid I.

1971 CE | The Shayad Tower (Memorial of Kings) was built in Tehran. After the Islamic revolution of 1979, it was renamed Azadi Tower.

1984 CE | The Freedom Mosque in Jakarta was completed by Indonesian architect Frederick Silaban.

1986 CE| The King Faisal Mosque was completed in Islamabad, Pakistan by Turkish architect.

1999 CE | The Burj Al Arab tower was completed in Dubai.

2018 CE | Gevora Hotel, the world’s tallest hotel was built in Dubai.

2019 CE | The tallest minaret was attached to the Djamaa el Djazaïr (The Great Mosque of Algiers) in Algeria.

Indeed, it may not be possible to include all the treasures in one article. However, this glimpse does show the vast impact of Islamic arts through the centuries. 

Reference:
An Illustrated History of Islamic Art and Design, curated by Moya Carey

Allah In My Art: Calligraphy

The Series Allah In My Art is a humble effort to explore elements of the Islamic Arts through a perspective of faith and understanding of Allah through the eyes of an artist.

The Inspiration

قُل لَّوْ كَانَ ٱلْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَـٰتِ رَبِّى لَنَفِدَ ٱلْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَـٰتُ رَبِّى وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِۦ مَدَدًا

Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it in [continual] supplement.”

[Surah Al Kahf 18:109 ]

Majority of Muslims throughout the world share a unique linguistic bond based on the desire to read the Quran in its original form, Arabic. Calligraphy is considered the highest art form for it shapes the form of the divine word. Calligraphers, known as scribes in the early ages were honoured and held in high regard for writing the words of Allah. As Islam spread far and wide, scribes were tasked with creating precise, eligible and beautiful Arabic scripts.

Types of Arabic Calligraphy

1. Kufic

The Kufic script is the first script used to write the Holy Quran. The script is square and bold with vertical and horizontal lines meeting at ninety-degree angles usually devoid of diacritical marks. Various styles emerged as part of the the Kufic script, like the floriated and the plaited or knotted Kufic scripts. This style is largely featured on the walls of various Islamic structures, textiles and metal work. 

Blue Folio Quran in Kufic script (Source: Sotheby’s)

2. Naksh

In the early tenth century, this quickly became the preferred calligraphic style for manuscripts and the Quran due to its elegant cursive script. The proportions of Naskh make it extremely legible and quick to write. This style is widely used for ceramics, tiles and most modern day publications. 

3. Thuluth

This style is inclusive of vowel signs and ornamental additions. The combination of sharp strokes and slight upward curves beautify the script. The letters are usually large and compact. This style is highly visible on Mosque facades, architecture, metalwork, ceramics and manuscripts.

4. Ruq’ah

Ruq’ah was created by combining elements from two styles, Thuluth and Naksh. It is not considered an art form like the other styles as it was devised for quick writing. The style is used mainly for government scribes, letters, rulings and manuscripts.

5. Muhaqqaq & Rayhani

Ibn al-Bawwāb, also called Ibn As-sitrī, invented the cursive rayḥānī and muḥaqqaq scripts. He refined the calligraphic styles invented by Ibn Muqlah. Both these styles are used for Qurans, edicts, letters and in architecture. 

6. Diwani

The Diwani script was invented by Housam Roumi during the reign of the Ottoman Turks. It was a secretive style used by the court to pen official documents like proclamation scrolls, edicts, land and title grants, appointments, correspondence, endowments. Today this style also extends as Diwani Jeli, a more fluid and decorative style of calligraphy.

Works of Art

1. Kiswa

One of the most magnificent artworks of Arabic Calligraphiy is the Kiswa or the Ghilaaf of Kaaba. Various Quranic verses are written on it in the Thuluth style of calligraphy. Ms. Aafiya shares a detailed understanding of the making of the Kiswa. Due to the spiritual significance of the Kaaba, an official ‘kiswa’ factory was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1346H. Laborious hours were spent in carefully hand-embroidering the Kiswa with pure gold and silver every year.  

2. Calligraphic Galleon

The Calligraphic Galleon by Abd al-Qadir Hisari is dated A.H. 1180/ A.D. 1766–67. The artwork features imagery and text from Surah Al Kahf. Calligrams were popular in Ottoman art.

3. Sino-Arabic Calligraphic Composition of Five Pillars of Islam

The calligraphic composition made by Shi Jie Chen (1925-2006), also known as Muhammad Hasan Ibn Yusuf, is one of its kind. The fusion of Chinese and Arabic calligraphic elements is remarkable. The Chinese characters in the center of the artwork symbolise the five pillars starting with Hajj nearest to the Kaaba.

The Arabic Calligraphy above the Chinese characters reads: The Messenger of Allah says that Islam is built on five pillars

4. Modern Wall Art (MWA) by Syed Rahman

Modern Wall Art Chandelier

Searching for Islamic decor, Syed Rahman started creating his own in his father’s basement in Chicago and Modern Wall Art (MWA) in 2014. “One of our exceptionally favourites is the staggering Ayat Al Kursi and Ayat Al Nur chandelier lights we have recently started to produce. It is very finely carved with the Ayat which is lightened by individual beveled cut crystals. The focus for these chandeliers was to add readable Ayat’s and light beaming through them in your house,” writes Syed about his unique product. He adds, “I don’t chase money, I chase barakah. This is what I imply in all my business or in anything that I do.” 

5. Ayatul Kursi by Fahima Iqbal

Ayatul Kursi

Fahima Iqbal, an Arabic calligraphy and lettering artist prefers to let her art speak for itself. Creating artworks that measure up to four feet, she prides herself and describes her work as such:

“Ayatul Kursi, is regarded as the greatest, most powerful verse of the holy Quran. The colours used vaguely represents the starry night sky and the land by which I hope to convey His power. As a calligraphy artist I’ve been privileged to create unique artworks for hundreds of homes worldwide exhibiting the beauty of the Arabic script and the verses of the holy Quran. I am extremely grateful to have a profession closely related to my faith.”

6. Jawahir

Habibti

Run by three women, Ajab, Jamila and Zainab; have been creating magnificent calligraphic jewellery since 2019. They share their inspirations, “The elegant flow of the Arabic script; how one letter joins and connects to another, how the eraab sits atop and below, bracketing the words between them is what drew our eye to natural beauty of Arabic calligraphy.”

They call their collaboration and brand Jawahir, meaning jewels. “Our calligraphy bracelets feature words like habibati and qurrato aini, expressions of love through jewellery. We find inspiration for our jewellery pieces from the world around us, the Arabic literature we read everyday and by observing things in our everyday life.”

Understanding Art

The extent of how calligraphy became the most esteemed art form in Islamic culture is evident through the variety of Quran manuscripts and Islamic decor over the millenia. However, calligraphy has seeped into our lives through the artworks shared in this article. The modern calligraphic artists pick their pens to create what they have learnt from the words of the Divine and incorporate it in products we use in our daily lives.  

How blessed are those artists who directly attain their rizq through expression of their love for Allah? How blessed are those who get this barakah for themselves?

UNESCO recently declared Arabic calligraphy an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’. Words fall short to describe the power of Allah. There are infinite artist worldwide, who create magic with calligraphy. The advent of modern art has given rise to more abstract calligraphic creations.

Next week, also the last of the series Allah In My Art, we shall explore the art and understanding of the illumination technique.

My Grandma’s Dusty Quran, Dealing with Death and Grief

It was my grandmother’s 100th birthday. “When will you die?” asked my innocent 4-year-old. She was amazed, seeing a human being turn a hundred. All the family members had gathered and this conversation took place over a video call. I was embarrassed but all of us laughed it off. 

Losing A Loved One

A year later, in June 2020, my husband gently placed his hand on my shoulder and asked me to check the family WhatsApp group. I felt queasy. 

My grandmother had passed away peacefully. My aunt was by her side, holding her hand, reciting the Quran. I knew she had not been eating well for the past two days and slept most of the time. 

My last video call was not a conversation. It was seeing Grandma lying on her bed, calm, frail, radiant and quiet. 

The text in the group read: 

إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ

Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.

[Al-Baqarah 2:156]

Family chat groups are generally filled with greetings and forwards of all sorts. However, this time I could not leave it on ‘seen’. 

I called my father with cold and sweaty fingertips, my knees shaking, the lump in my throat hard to swallow.  

Dad mumbled through the phone, “I couldn’t be there for my father. Now I can’t be there for my mother.” 

Sharing Your Grief

I listened to my father share his guilt towards his mother; his memories and thoughts of her. The grief and regret of not being able to perform the last rites of either parent irked him deeply. I sat numb. I had never heard or seen my father cry. In his 60s he was mourning his mother. 

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it was not possible to travel. He wouldn’t be able to step into her grave and send her off, one last time. I too couldn’t fly, to be by my father’s side to console him. 

Acceptance

I started searching for any way I could travel. But I knew it would be in vain. I sat at the dining table, hopelessly scrolling through multiple travel websites. My husband attended calls, accepting and giving condolences to the rest of the family.  

“Mama,” the little voice said. “Why are you crying?” 

“Grandma has died,” I said. 

“The one who is a hundred years old?” she asked.

I nodded with my head low. 

That night our family had a zoom call. I had grown up with her. I switched off my video, the lump in my throat refused to let my voice pass. I did not talk. Everybody shared memories, anecdotes, stories and gathered online to talk about our mother and grandmother. 

Healing 

A year has passed since. I had asked my aunt to keep my grandmother’s Quran and tasbih for me. I traveled home, though it did not feel like home. Her bed was gone. Grandma’s shelf in her cupboard remained. I looked at the shelf ledge and saw a fine line of dust, settled calmly, untouched.

My grandma’s Quran was dusty, old and slightly tattered. I spotted a silverfish wiggle through the middle. I clenched the Quran close to my chest and sat down. I had no emotion. But tears rolled down my cheeks. I realized I had not mourned enough. I had only been to the graveyard and said silent prayers.  

I traveled home and my daughter sat in my lap, excited to see what I would have to share. Except this time, the bag did not come full of pleasures she deemed worthy. I showed her my Grandma’s Quran and her Aqeeq tasbih.

Quran and Tasbih

She asked me gently why I brought an old Quran, aimlessly searching my bag. “Were there no photos or something nice?” 

Reflection

I was confused as I held on to a mortal piece of commodity that Grandma held and used every day of her life. 

I never thought loss would matter until I video-called my aunt to inform her of my safe arrival. My eyes longed to spot Grandma in the background. But her presence was nowhere to be found.

“Mama, will you die as well?” my daughter asked casually.

“Yes, we all will someday.” My face turned pale. I let my daughter know it was okay to feel heartbroken and mourn a loved one. 

“I will only die when Allah invites me to Jannah,” I responded with a smile. 

“Will I get an invitation too?” she asked with joy.

“Of course! Everybody gets one. However, Allah likes to surprise his loved ones, so nobody knows when the invitation might come.” I gestured, hugging her tight.

She smiled and walked away.

Forgiveness

That night I ran my fingers over the tattered Quran cover. I spotted a piece of folded paper, like a bookmark. It was a piece of my Math book that I hated and had torn in a rage. Grandma had gathered those pieces and told me, “Be calm, don’t show so much rage.” I smirked and forgave myself. I clenched her Quran and shed another tear. I knew I had to let go because her memories would be with me forever. 

Gratitude

A few days later, my family went camping. We set our tent near a cold, flowing river. 

I sat by the river bed and opened a package I had carefully wrapped the old Quran in. I gently placed it in the flowing water and saw its material existence become one with nature. 

My daughter asked me what my actions meant. I told her, “It is important to part and let go material commodities with care and respect. And Al-Quran, no matter how old, should always be treated that way.”

Truthfulness

That night, by the fire near the campsite, I shared memories of my grandma and told her how she never missed a tahajjud and fajr namaaz and would tickle my toes until I woke up as well. I opened my heart and the loss felt a little less painful.

We exchanged our views on how beautiful and elating paradise would be. She took a stick and created something with twigs and leaves, and extended four lines that seemed to connect the river.

 “Mama, see, this is my paradise, and now this river will also go there.” 

My husband and I smiled at each other, grateful for moments like these and for loved ones who have left us with rich memories to live on with. Alhamdulillah. 

Omar Khayyam, a persian poet writes,

افسوس که نامه جوانی طی شد

و آن تازه بهار زندگانی دی شد

آن مرغ طرب که نام او بود شباب

افسوس ندانم که کی آمد کی شد

Alas, the scrolls of youthfulness are folded,

The time of spring is over,

That fluttering bird named ‘juvenility’,

I do not know when did it come and when did it leave.

ای دل چو زمانه می کند غمناکت

ناگه برود ز تن روان پاکت

بر سبزه نشین و خوش بزی روزی چند

زان پیش که سبزه بردمد از خاکت

O heart, do not spend your days of life in sorrow,

For nobody knows when this life will part from the body,

Sit joyously over the fresh grass in the garden of life, and live,

Before the grass sprouts through the soil of your grave

Sabr

Death is the entrance to the divine realm that every creature has and will experience. Regardless, there is no timeline for healing. There is no exit door for grief. Our emotions should be given attention, for the consequential deeds become our companions. These companions will follow us through the gates where we shall wait for the Day of Judgment.  

Narrated Anas bin Malik, who saw tears fall from the eyes of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and said,

تَدْمَعُ الْعَيْنُ وَيَحْزَنُ الْقَلْبُ وَلاَ نَقُولُ إِلاَّ مَا يَرْضَى رَبُّنَا إِنَّا بِكَ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ لَمَحْزُونُونَ

“The eye weeps and the heart grieves, but we say only what our Lord is pleased with, and we are grieved for you, Ibrahim.”

If the Prophet ﷺ could, I can make peace with loss as well and so can you. Grieve, but do not isolate yourself. Share your feelings as you mourn your loved ones and do not hesitate to seek help if the sadness consumes you, so much that daily life becomes difficult. Always practice sabr and shukur.

Written by Farida Haji