Thursday, March 31, 2011

Parenting Help Hotline

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

My 7-year-old daughter is going through some changes and testing the waters in regards to discipline, truthfulness, emotions, and words. Ya Rabb! I know my children are extremely easy compared to many others, mashaa'Allah. Regardless, parenting is hard at these times and I find myself struggling about how to handle various situations. I have been dialing the Parenting Help Hotline, seeking Allah's help and guidance in this.

Here is an outline of what happened a couple of days ago with her. Please note that she has been reading fluently since she was 3 years old, mashaa'Allah, so one wouldn't expect this to be a fix for most 7-year-olds, but a modified version might work. The key is to give children information and strategies that they can easily understand and implement. My daughter knows that The Pen (recorded account of good and bad deeds) isn't upon her yet, but that she is in training for when The Pen descends. This is a critical time, as these are the years where instruction for prayer and Islamic knowledge are being established.

In the morning at school, she said she wasn't walking downstairs with her little sister to play with her before classes start. Previously, she had gone down with her sister every day happily, without fail. This had her little sister very upset and me wondering what on earth was going on. I asked her why and she had no reason. I could tell that something was going wrong with her mindset. A friend and I both told her that she needs to take care of her sister and go downstairs with her. She went, but was silently whining and in a bad mood about it.

Once I saw that she was immersed in a bad mood, I went over to her and crouched down to eye level. I told her shaytaan was strongly influencing her at that time. After all, how can one fight if they don't know their enemy? I told her to say the istiaadha (the istiaadha is, "audhu b'Illahi min as shaytaan ir-rajeem) and as she said it, tears started rolling thick and fast down her cheeks. I told her that shaytaan didn't want her to get rid of him, that's why she was crying because there was a battle in her. I made her say it two more times and then had her recite Quran, the last three suwar. By the time she got to An Naas, I could see the calm coming over her. She recited Ayat al Kursy and then went to her classroom.

As the day continued, her mood remained considerably better, mashaa'Allah. However, once we had returned home and she was finished with her homeschooling, Allah sent me an idea. I called her over to read the Seven Phases of Shaytaan. Then I asked her at what stage she thought she was. After some thought, she told me she was at Phase 3, so I asked what major sins she was committing. She admitted to disobedience to parents and lying. Then she said, "So if I stop doing the major sins, shaytaan will get me to do minor sins next?" Now she was thinking, mashaa'Allah! I then  had her read my post, Scream, Shout, Kick shaytaan Out! Immediately after she read it, she went to get her computer and played Surah al Baqarah.

Then we prepared to pray, and as usual she delayed us a bit, so I said, "See how shaytaan keeps getting to you?" She denied it was shaytaan and told me, "You don't love me as much as you used to." Naturally, I talked to her about that, telling her I love her and want only to see the best for her. I told her that she has great potential to teach others Islam and please Allah. I then told her if she went out and killed someone, I wouldn't feel the same about her. It isn't that I don't love her, but it isn't nice or easy for me when she does the wrong thing. I then told her that she is a child and I understand that she has to go through different stages to learn and grow. It's just not lovely for me as her mummy to have to see her be naughty because I do love her.

She went off, still feeling sad. We went about our business for another hour or two and then my daughters had an apple break while I was preparing dinner. Just as they were happily chatting away, Allah sent me another gem of guidance. I asked my daughter how she would feel if I stopped praying or walked outside without my hijab? She looked at me as if I'd lost my mind, LOL. Then I asked her again, how would she feel? She answered, "I would be upset!" I asked her why and she responded, "Because you would be disobeying Allah, Mummy!"  (This is where anyone lurking in my mind would have heard my brain give a huge sigh of relief and a mental al hamdu'Illah!) I simply said to her, "Ah! So now do you understand how I feel when you disobey Allah?" Her face lit up as if the lightbulb had just gone on. She let out a laugh that said, "Now I get it!"

Since then, she has asked how she can get out of the phase she is in with shaytaan. I remind her to seek refuge in Allah and get rid of that rotten devil. They did a homeschooling unit on Understanding shaytaan, so her little sister knows the formula, too, mashaa'Allah. I tell them that every day they wake up and have choices to make; it's up to them to make the right and best choices. It is within their own control.

Will this be the end of it and we all live happily ever after? Of course not. I expect to remind and guide over and over again; that's what mothers do. When it comes to parenting, I have to turn to Allah, subhaana wa taala, He always gives me a way that was better than anything I could of dreamed up. To all you parents out there, rely on the Parenting Help Hotline first. Throw your hands up in dua' when you're seeking a way through to your children. It's the only way to ultimate success for you and your children.

Al hamdu l'Illahi rabbil aal ameen!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Un-Da'wah Story: Part 3

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Sometime in the early part of 2007, my father told me that he had been reading one of the books I left there and he had a great feeling of peace. He was living alone and had a lot of time on his hands, so it seems that it was a time for him to reflect. I asked what book it was, and he told me, "Lasting Prayers." I used to keep a Quran, an easy hadith book, and a few other books that were easy reading there so I would have something to read and refer to whenever I visited. I always thought that if they were interested, they might pick one up to read, but forgot about them for the most part.

For the next couple of phone calls, my father kept talking about the Lasting Prayers book, which is very beautifully made and has chapters that tell the prayers of each of the prophets (alayhum as salaam). He could see what Ibrahim (as) prayed with the direct quote from the Quran and explanation, as well as many other prophets (as). He mentioned that he was planning to visit the Islamic Foundation to see if they had some other book that he could read next. We took the initiative and put together a package of a couple of books by the same authors that I thought he would like, one an explanation of Surah Al Fatiha and the other on Surah Ikhlaas. I think we included another simple basic Islam book too and sent him a copy of the Lives of the Prophets series, which we knew he had enjoyed hearing parts of during his visit. We sent them all off and I called after a week or so to see if he had received them. When I called to check he told me that he had just been to the Islamic Foundation and they gave him a big pile of material to read the day before he received our package. He didn't know where to start! I told him to simply have a look and see what interested him and just go from there.

He returned to the Islamic Center again, to pick up a different translation of the Quran and have a little tour. He said that they told him he needed to learn to pray and gave him some paper to complete in the event he chose to embrace Islam. Finally, my husband had a chat with him and asked him what he believed. He stated that he was pleased with what he was learning and with Islam. I was about to faint!

Well, as we were off on Thanksgiving day, we gave my father a call to see how he was. He told me he'd just gotten back from the Islamic Foundation and did the ceremony. I asked what he was talking about, and after a bit of real confusion on my part I realised that he had said his shahadah! He said there was a group that gathered in the prayer hall and they all hugged him and he received all manner of welcome gifts and support. Al hamdu l'Illah! My father had embraced Islam, just a month before he turned 69 years old wa subhaan Allah wa bi hamdihi! The person I thought would be too resistant to change to ever accept Islam, even if he thought it was right, had changed. Allah (subhaana wa taala) had shown me the reality of, "Kun fa ya kun!" (Be and it is!)

Well, I'm crying now. It's been over three years since Daddy reverted and I'm still overwhelmed by it. We went to visit him over the summer and it was the first time to see him since he'd accepted Islam. To see my 72-year-old father pray was indescribable. Allah, yet again, has shown me His All-Encompassing Power. Anything is possible when Allah Wills it. We can never know His Plan or who He will gift with the faith of Islam next.

My Un-Da'wah Story: Part 2

Bism Illah wa as salaam alaykum.

Well, after I got married and we had our first daughter,my father and his wife decided to visit us. They came by the time she was turning one, in the summer of 2004, mashaa'Allah. I was wearing niqaab by then, but I didn't mention it at all and just went to pick them up at the airport. They didn't say anything about my face being covered initially and we got them home, settled down, and just let them relax. We had stocked the freezer and fridge with a variety of zabihah meats for their visit and for the first couple of days let them sleep in and recover from their flight. They enjoyed getting to know their granddaughter and we went to a couple of places for sightseeing and shopping.

During their stay, we did a couple of things that exposed them to Islam. We used to sell Islamic clothing, accessories, lectures, etc. at different functions and we took them one evening to a masjid in Philadelphia while we were vending. As brothers and sisters passed by, gave salaams, and interacted with us, my father asked me what the response was to their salaams and then responded a couple of times. It was quite cute. The whole experience served to show them a large Muslim community, predominantly American, with focus and a good sense of brotherhood/sisterhood.

The other thing we did was when we took them for drives, especially long ones, we played The Lives of the Prophets in the van. I mentioned in passing that it is the one time when we have a chance to listen to the series without interruption, just so they understood that it was for us, not them. Well, every now and then my father would make a sound of agreement with something being said, so I knew he was listening at least some of the time. His wife commented that it was very relaxing and soothing to listen to while we were traveling. Well, you KNOW that hubby and I were just grinning away at each other about that!

Of course, they saw us pray whenever and wherever we were for the duration of their stay, heard us refer to Allah throughout our day, and generally saw how our life was being lived. Our daughter was saying many words by then, so she would say "Al hamdu'l'Illah" after she sneezed, "bism'Illah" before she ate, etc. We also introduced them to black seed and black seed oil, explaining that the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, told us it was a cure for everything except death. That interested them greatly, as they like natural remedies and nutritional supplements.

When the time came for them to leave, we gave them gifts including a framed ayah of Quran translated into English (the last ayah of Surah Al Baqarah) that we had made. My husband decided to slip two simple books into their gift bag as well about Understanding Islam and Muslims. He told them that it was just in case they had any questions or wanted to understand a little more. We hugged and kissed them goodbye at the airport and my father said, "May Allah keep you safe and blessed."

On returning home, I talked to my father and he said that within a month of getting back they had to call someone to fix their hot water heater. The man who came was a Muslim and my father engaged him in conversation telling him about us. He talked to him about the black seed oil, which he liked to use. My father had taken us to the Markfield Islamic Foundation when we visited and had a look around with us, so he was familiar with it. He told me that he was planning to give them a call to see if they could tell him where to purchase more of the black seed. I thought to myself that at least it was some kind of connection with Islam.
Qadr Allah, by 2006 my father and his wife divorced. He was 68 at the time and it was a huge life change for him. He started thinking of different options such as coming over the the U.S.A. so he could be closer to us, moving to Portugal, etc. We just called him more often and remained supportive and loving.

In the meantime, my mother came to visit for 2 weeks. By then I had a 5 month old daughter as well, so she got to see both her granddaughters, mashaa'Allah. It was the last week of Ramadan, so we were fasting and she saw each day how we broke our fast and heard us get up early to have suhoor. My older daughter was 3 then, and she used to go downstairs to keep Grandma company in the early mornings while she had her cup of tea. One day my mother told me that she had sneezed and my mother said "bless you". She responded, "You can't bless me, only Allah can do that." My mother was taken aback, quite amazed at the clarity and focus. She saw us pray, saw the children living as Muslims, learned what we didn't do, and what we did.

When Eid came, she was uncomfortable to come with us to the Eid prayer, so I tried to leave it open for her. She changed her mind and came, holding the baby and just sitting at the back. It was in a rented hall, so there were no issues of her entering a masjid. She even draped a shaylah over her hair for the duration. One or two mornings I played Quran for Little Muslims for the children and checked to see if she was listening. She didn't really seem to be taking anything in, so I didn't take it any further. We enjoyed her visit, spent a lot of time letting her relax and do a little shopping. We gave her gifts from the girls that showed their love for Grandma and sent her home with hugs. Mashaa'Allah, it was a good visit.

My Un-Da'wah Story: Part 1

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
I reverted to Islam 23 years ago while living in Bahrain. My parents live in England, and I told them over the phone, so they really didn't know what I was talking out. Islam was a far-off thing for them and they didn't know what it meant.

I had a small piece of advice given to me just before my first trip back home to England after becoming a Muslimah. It was to simply be myself, let everyone see that I hadn't changed in any ridiculous way, and to answer questions (when and if they came) as simply as possible. So, that's what I did.

I went home, asked for something to be kept in the bathroom so I could make istinja, explained why I needed it and went about enjoying my visit with my father and his wife. The same went for my mother. When they asked a question, I answered as simply as possible so that if they wanted more information they could continue to ask questions and if that was enough then I hadn't overdone it.

Well, the years passed and my parents became more accustomed to my lifestyle. They sometimes had some very specific questions for me when I went home for visits. I noticed that they were quoting things they'd heard on the radio or watched on television about Muslims, so I knew they were paying more attention to Islam in general.

Then, perhaps 10 or 11 years after I embraced Islam, my father called me one New Year's Eve and told me he was proud of me, that I had good morals, lived a clean and decent life and had done well in my work. Mashaa'Allah. I was in tears. It was a milestone in my life and in my un-da'wah; my father was proud of me and my faith.
During the years that I went home to visit my parents, I told them these things in answer to their questions.

-In Christianity, living together without being married is called "living in sin." I'm not doing something different by not having boyfriends and waiting for marriage, I'm just following the rules. Within a year, my father married his partner and my mother married hers.

-In every movie you've seen about Biblical times, the women wore long loose clothes and their hair was covered. It has always been the way of religious people, I'm just going back to those ways. I gave them an analogy.
They get on a bus and a woman sits opposite them wearing a mini skirt, boobs all pushed up and cleavage out, make-up, long wild hair, high heels, perfume. She looks great. How does Daddy's wife feel about that woman? Does she check to see if my father is looking at her? Of course, my father has seen her and what will he do, put his hands over his eyes? Daddy's wife may be thinking, "She's thinner than me... she is more beautiful... she's younger." Daddy may be thinking, "She looks great!" Daddy's wife feels a resentment towards that woman for displaying herself in front of her husband. Then, when it comes to bedtime she has a little complex. I look fat in this nightdress. I don't want him to see me and compare me to that gorgeous woman. She has lost confidence in herself and her attractiveness to my father. A barrier has been placed between them. Now, if that woman had not displayed herself that way, Daddy's wife would not have anything to compare herself with. She would not have felt inferior or that my father had seen something he must, in her mind, prefer to her. She would have had no animosity towards that woman sitting opposite them and felt no threat.
Well, after explaining that, they made a point to advise me when shopping if the thing I was trying on was suitably covering or not. They understood.

-When asked about some horrible thing a Muslim had done, I said, "What about Son of Sam, the man down the road who killed his wife, and all these criminals in the prisons? Are they all Muslim? No, they are Christians, Jews, Athiests, etc. It has nothing to do with the religion, it has to do with the people. There are good and bad people. People with good judgment and intellect, and people without. I don't say the religion is bad because of a person who associates themselves with it; I call that person bad. "

-When sitting with them on the evening of their Christmas, after leaving them to their day and just arriving back home, I was asked if I didn't believe in Jesus. I took the Quran and read the excerpt from Surah Maryam about nabi Isa's birth, alayha salaam. Daddy's wife said, "Well, that Quran has it all so we don't need our Bibles do we?"

Then, about 8.5 years ago, I got married. This was another milestone, because they now had an example of a Muslim man to observe as well.

-When I got married they asked questions about my husband's short pants and beard... which he answered including hadith from the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. My father could see that my husband was acting based on knowledge and commitment. For every question, my husband presented proof in his answer, wa al hamdu l'Illah ala kully haal.

-We had to handle the issue of not celebrating birthdays, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. Although I had explained previously that these things weren't celebrated in Islam, while single I still send a token of remembrance to them on Mother's Day and Father's Day to soothe their hearts. May Allah forgive me for my error in this - ameen.

We sent letters to my parents explaining that we didn't need special days to commemorate our love and appreciation for them; every day was a testimony to that. We made a point to send them letters, gifts, and express our love throughout the year so they could see that they were always special and not feel that they were being ignored, just because we didn't share their holidays. We explained that the only gifts that would be accepted would be at neutral times of the year or on Eid.
My mother started noting down the Eid dates so she could send cards and gifts.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Polygyny...Just a Little Quran and Sunnah

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Allah tells us in the Quran,
"And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]." (An-Nisaa’ 3:3). 
I hear so many people say that polygyny is not recommended in Islam, but it is permitted. How does that align with Allah's words? He, subhaana wa taala, didn't say, "Marry one woman of your choice, and if you can check off a list of requirements that she gives you and also be fair, then marry 2, 3, or 4."  Go ahead and look it up in Tafsir Ibn Kathir. So, to those who come with claims and opinions, I say to you, "Allah says what He means."

When it comes to practicing polygyny, there is much to be taken from our best example, Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.) His wives had varying dowers. They were of varying ages, physical attributes, personalities, and personal situations. They were all provided with their own home within close proximity of the others. They used to meet together for a while in the home of whomever night it was each day. They had to treat each other with respect and kindness. He was kind, loving, patient, and fair with them all. He did housework. He ate whatever was available and never put his wives to trouble about special food. He was fair and firm with them when they erred. As per his example, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, his wives situations weren't worsened by him marrying others.*

However, we must bear in mind that they were living as simply as possible...quite the opposite of how we live today.

I cannot tell you how many times I think of this hadith.
Narrated Ibn Umar (radhi Allahu anhuma), "Once the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) went to the house of Fatima (radhi Allahu anha) but did not enter it. Ali came and she told him about that. When Ali asked the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) about it, he said, "I saw a multi-colored decorative curtain on her door. I am not interested in worldly things."  Ali (radhi Allahu anh) went to Fatima and told her about it. Fatima said, I am ready to dispense with it in the way he suggests. The Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) ordered her to send it to such and such needy people."
I look around our apartment and know that even though we have a much simpler home and belongings that the majority of our peers, the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) would not want to enter. Our lives today are so far removed from what he enjoined, that a decorative curtain is an atom in the universe compared to the worldly things most of his Ummah have, accumulate, and covet.  AstaghfirAllah!

It is reported that Hafsah – Allâh be pleased with her – once said to her father (‘Umar, during his Caliphate):
Allâh has increased the provisions; if only you would eat better food than the food you eat now and wear softer clothes then those you wear now?! He said, “I will argue [against] you with your own self: Was not the condition of Allâh’s Messenger – praise and peace be upon him – such-and-such [when you were his wife]!?” He kept reminding her until she cried. He continued, “I have told you, by Allâh, I will share in their hard living (in this world, referring to The Prophet and Abû Bakr) so that I may partake in their good life (in Paradise).”
Hunâd b. Al-Sarî, Al-Zuhd article 687; Imâm Ahmad, Al-Zuhd article 201, et al. (1)
(1) Shaykh Abd Al-Rahmân Al-Farîwâ`î explains in his edition of Hunâd’s Al-Zuhd that this narration is sahîh if it is confirmed that Mus‘ab b. Sa’d heard it from Hafsah; otherwise its chain of transmission is mursal sahîh (i.e. it is authentic except there is a missing link between Mus’ab and Hafsah)
It is, for this reason, that I understand (yes, ME, personally, which has nothing to do with anyone else with a different opinion) that there is no success for us in polygyny until we let go of our own opinions and materialism. Specifically, in both monogamy and polygyny it isn't about having the bigger or more expensive home, the fancier decor, or the higher lifestyle. An increase in those those things just takes us further and further away from what our beloved example, our Prophet, approved of.

If both husbands and wives follow the words of the Quran and Prophet's example, all those personal criteria and opinions regarding how polygyny should be practiced, under what "rules", and by whom, will end up baseless dust.

We need to stop LIVING with Allah and His Messenger in our lives and start living our lives in worship of  ALLAH and gaining the approval of His Messenger.

*I have had someone named Nazia claim that I post without giving proof, but I don't know how I can write a blog post of any reasonable length and give all the hadith, quotes from the relevant books and seerah to support the things that I write. The things I write about are easily located in Tafsir Ibn Katheer, reputed books on the Seerah of the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), his wives (radhi Allahu anhunna), and major hadith collections. I don't write about obscure things, and if they are lesser known, then I include the proof.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Polygyny: Hubby's Monthly Progress Report.

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakath.

About a week ago, hubby asked for a polygyny progress report reflecting how I felt he was doing with our polygynous situation. He has asked that it be done monthly so he can keep on top of things and that it be submitted in writing, so he has a record to refer back to. I have copied it below, however I have edited it slightly so as not to give overly specific details about members of our family. It is not edited enough to change my points though.

Polgyny Progress Report #1
Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

All thanks and praise are for Allah, the most Perfect Provider of all our needs and our perfect Guide!

There are four aspects that I will address in this PPR: Relationship, Family, Islamic, and Practical.


Mashaa'Allah, you have done an excellent job of ensuring that I feel loved and appreciated. You have made an effort to make our time together enjoyable and of quality. The extra effort and affection has, in fact, made our relationship better than before, al hamdu l'Illah. Keep it up, please ;-D 


Although this is obviously an area that is harder to please everyone in, the effort you have made to spend a little time each day with the girls is helping. Most certainly one of the most important factors is that they see you every day. The morning school routine makes it far less like you are gone much. They are affected by it all, I see it in the way they ask if you are here when they wake up, when you are coming, if you will be having dinner. However, considering that the changes are inevitable, I think it is going well enough. I have made the effort to make our nights and dinners without "Daddy" special and incorporate the bedtime story into things so that they have more things to look forward in their routine. They are certainly happy when we do more family things, especially going to the park, shopping, masjid, and they are looking forward to the return of the istaraaha and beach trips, inshaa'Allah. I think the main things they look for are nice activities out of the house and being part of a happy family.

- Friday Family thing is okay, but it is not an outing of choice.


This has been an area where having someone in the family who needs to be taught certain basics has perhaps pushed you to closer adherence and growth in various Islamic areas, mashaa'Allah. It has been difficult to explain things to the children when there are contradictions within our family (e.g. differences in prayer, dress, etc.) However, inshaa'Allah this will all come  together in time and they will see how we all conform and unify in Islam as per the Quran and Sunnah.

Practical Issues:

I guess these are known perfectly well, but I'll document them anyway.

- Time for food shopping falls by the wayside and is inconsistent. The Friday Family thing interferes with the previous shopping arrangement. Need a top up for the household jar, so we can go to the supermarket over the road for necessities now and then, inshaa'Allah.

- The afternoon visit time isn't working as well at earlier on, and sometimes it doesn't seem balanced. For example, you came an hour late because last minute you dropped Zainab at her cousins. Perhaps it was made up by you being here on a night she was working, as I'm not keeping a track.

- The schedule is quite heavy and generally tiring, but I don't think there is much to be done about that with all that's going on.

- Zainab's job and your choice about her cooking makes things very unbalanced. Although I am grateful for the soft start for the girls in regards to having dinner with you and seeing you on more evenings, it isn't fair on the wives... When she is not working, there is no reason why your children couldn't go there after school and do their work on their netbooks. The structure and schedule for their homeschooling is not working well at all.

I understand that once Zainab stops working, then things will fall into place, inshaa'Allah. Inna Allaha ma'a as saabireen.

Barak Allahu feek wa fee usratanaa - ameen.

We discussed my comment about the Friday family outings. Hubby reminded me that they were established so we can get to know each other, build up a relationship, and be one big family. We have had five outings to date, the last three of which were at the park. However, the past four weeks we haven't had our Friday Family outing due to various circumstances.

It is amazing how easy it is to get comfortable not having those outings, especially as they take time for food preparation and need a great deal of mental effort to speak in Arabic. However, truly that is just shaytaan's whispers, as the more we get to know each other the better prepared we will be for living together on our land in the future inshaa'Allah.

I will post separately about the schedule because it is the biggest issue we have in all of this and looks just a big bowl of spaghetti at the moment. However, he already realized the food shopping issue and set new time slots for that...which for unforeseen circumstances these past two weeks haven't worked either, LOL. Since the progress report, hubby is now taking the children at change-over time and cooking on the evenings that he is at Zainab's. Also, he has freed up two of his nights during the week that were for Arabic classes, so Tuesday or Wednesday, regardless of whether Zainab is working, he will be able to take them there as usual.

So, inshaa'Allah this monthly exercise will be an excellent way to open up channels of communication on any problems that need to be addressed and what's going well. I'm taking notes of the beauty and the glitches in the programme, so let's see what next month's will bring, inshaa'Allah!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Polygyny: Living Arrangements and Co-Wives' Relationship

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

As many of you have read, my co-wife lives just down the road from our apartment; perhaps no more than a 5 or 10 minute walk. This makes life much more pleasant for us all, because hubby can visit and go back and forth very easily without losing time on the transportation to and from our apartments.

On that subject, hubby asked me last week about our future plans for land and whether, given the choice, I would rather have the houses close together or spaced far apart or even on adjoining parcels of land. I immediately wanted to say spaced far apart, but held my tongue to think it through properly first. I have several reasons for not wanting us to be beside each other's homes. One is confidentiality. If hubby stops by to see me during the day, or vice versa, we don't need to know about it. I also don't want to have to find ways to regulate the frequency of visits if it is more than I'm comfortable with. I'm very happy in my solitude and in my own home, mashaa'Allah. Another aspect is that I don't want the uninvited intrusion of Zainab's young children in my peaceful life. We will each be in different stages of family life. In addition, I do not want to leave myself open to any situation where I will be considered a resident babysitter. I have no ill will in saying this, but I want to safeguard against things that I know will cause bad feelings and that shaytaan could play on.

In any case, I had to find a way of explaining to hubby in a way he could totally understand. I sat in the van telling him to hang on while I tried to find the right analogy and example. Then, mashaa'Allah, I found an analogy that explained the situation perfectly. I had to think of a friend of hubby's that is more an acquaintance that he likes but who is not a dear and close friend. Once I thought of someone, who I've termed as Brother X here, I could give the example. Here it is.

"If I told you that you had to live with Brother X and all his children for the rest of your life, and you had a choice between having him in the house right next to you or on a plot of land a bit further away, which would you choose?"

He immediately got it. If it was a dear and close friend, he'd want them to be right near him, but for someone who he must live with but isn't that type of friend, he would want space. Polygyny is a life choice that affects everyone because it is marriage, and marriage is intended to be for a lifetime.

It is very important to ensure that everyone has their own space. How much space they need will depend on the relationship between the co-wives. Close friends may want to be very near each other as their friendship is far more important to them than their relationship as co-wives. Sisters in Islam may want more space so that they don't feel that they are having someone imposed on them and their lives who isn't a natural choice as a friend. Others who don't have a good relationship with their co-wife, may benefit the most by being far enough away that they don't have to cross paths but near enough that they don't suffer time or visitation loss because of it.

For me, Arabic, Quran, homeschooling, mothering, wifing, and supporting others in tawheed, taqwa, and tawakkal are primary goals for my future. Inshaa'Allah, I will have the space to focus on what is important to me and my co-wife will have the space to raise her family and follow her own goals.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Scream, Shout, Kick shaytaan OUT!

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Ever felt depressed, miserable, unhappy with life and unable to cope with trials? Well, it's all the workings of iblees, a.k.a. shaytaan and his helpers. I know what it is like. I, too, have been grabbed by the ankles by that rotten devil before now, and dragged towards the pit of no-emaan. The key is to know that shaytaan is at the root of the problem, and then deal with him.

Understand that it is a war between you and shaytaan. 


Say the following, with as much calm determination, force, or volume as you need.

"Audhu b'Illahi min ash-shaytaan ir-rajeem"
If an evil impulse from Satan provokes you, seek refuge in Allah. He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. As for those who fear Allah, when they are bothered by visitors from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly. (Surat al-A’raf, 200-201)

"Allahu Akbar"
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Satan runs through the blood veins of son of Adam, but when he remembers Allah, Satan retreats!”
"Bism Illah, leave me alone"
Abul-Maleeh (ra) reports that a man said, “I was behind the Messenger (saw) and his riding animal stumbled.  I said, “May Shaytaan perish”, and he said, “Do not say, “May Shaytaan perish”.  If you say that he will grow in size until he becomes the size of a house and says, “By my strength”.  Instead say, “In the Name of Allaah”.  When you say that, he reduces in size until he is like a fly.” (Abu Dawood, saheeh isnad).
Constantly repeat adhkaar - Subhaan Allah, Al Hamdu l'Illah, Allahu Akbar.

Negate shaytaan's power by saying, "La hawla wa la  quwatta ila b'Illah."

Recite Ayat al Kursi.

Say the adhaan.

Recite the Qur'aan in your house - especially Surat ul Baqarah, which will send him fleeing.
Abu Hurayrah (ra) reports that Allaah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Do not turn your houses into graves. Indeed Shaytaan flees from a house in which Surah al-Baqarah is recited.” (Muslim).
Pull out all your ammunition from your du'a book. Direct all your anger, bad feeling, frustration, emotion, and energy into screaming, shouting, and kicking shaytaan out. No, it isn't a typo that I don't capitalize that rotten devil's name - he doesn't deserve the respect of a capital letter.

I know this sounds extreme, but it works. You will have channeled all that negative energy into something positive and good - into tawakkal and ibadah. You will find yourself at the end of that feeling like a huge weight has been lifted from you.

May Allah protect us all from the evil workings and whisperings of shaytaan and grant us the ultimate success of His Pleasure, Mercy, and Jennah - ameen.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Parenting: If You Can't Make it, Fake It

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I believe that the responsibility of parenting is an extremely big thing. It isn't just about feeding a little body until it grows big or teaching them life skills, academics, and basics of Islam. It is about modeling Islam for them every day of their little lives so that it is the most natural thing in the world for them. It definitely is a subject that can be viewed from the cost and debt approach.

I once wrote a post, How Our Children Help our Islam, and this post ties in with that...with a very specific difference. This one is about our responsibility to model Islam correctly, even if we don't feel it. I have a couple of examples that are extremely prominent in my mind: hijab and social situations.

I have, all thanks to Allah, worn the hijab for 22 years now. I have also worn niqaab for the past 7 years, but in this case it is not relevant, because I'm only talking about hijab - the minimum obligatory Muslim female cover. For sisters who wear niqaab, however, I suggest you include it in the term of hijab. While my mode of covering has changed over the years, I have worn a loose overgarment on top of my regular clothes and a hijab that comes down over my chest ever since marriage (at the least) and that is what my children know of me. They have learned, according to their level of understanding, why women cover and that it isn't a choice, it is a must.

So what happens if I have a crisis of faith, (may Allah protect me from such misguidance and trial - ameen!), and I feel like removing my hijab? Absolutely nothing.  I am the primary model of Islam for my children, and regardless of my feelings, inshaa'Allah I will continue to wear the hijab for their sake. I do not want to send a message to my child that if they don't like a thing that Allah has made fard for them, that it is okay on their own whims to discard it. I don't want to show them a manifestation of weak faith. What is inside me, what I struggle with, will be between Allah and myself.

What is the result of my "faking it"? My children have that same, consistent role model and I am not outwardly disobedient to Allah. Even if I had a candid talk with my children and told them about emaan increasing and decreasing, I would be able to tell them that what goes on inside us doesn't mean we can disobey Allah's commands. Regardless of my inner turmoil, I don't have the sin of zina or tabarruj to carry alongside it. In protecting the example my children look to, I protect myself.

Anas, radhi Allahu anhu, reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said, 

"Islam is public, whereas iman is in the heart."  (Ahmad)

Allah, azza wa jal, says,
"The desert Arabs say, 'We have iman.' Say: 'You do not have iman. Say rather, "We have become Muslim," for iman has not yet entered into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not undervalue your actions in any way," (Surat al-Hujurat: 14)
Although their iman was weak, adherence to Islam showed enough iman for their actions to be accepted.

This also relates to social situations, because our children's Islamic confidence comes greatly from seeing how we conduct ourselves publicly. I lived in a city where there were perhaps only 3 or 4 niqaabis. I never saw any on the street and I was the only woman in my college with hijab, let alone niqaab. As I homeschooled my children, often we would be free to take a walk during the day to the park, the library, or the thrift shop. I drew plenty of attention and was questioned by people in supermarkets, at the park, and even from their front porches about why I cover my face.

I have always welcomed the chance to explain hijab and niqaab, so in my short, simple, and friendly way I would explain. However people looked or reacted, I went about business as usual with my daughters and purposely spoke to the librarians, shop keepers, other mothers in the park, and cashiers. Hearing my accent alone dispersed preconceived ideas. Being my usual friendly and bubbly self further lowered the walls, until the cashiers started asking my advice about healthy foods and the librarians warmly welcomed our sunshiny smiles. 

I have attended school functions, the only niqaabi and my daughters the only Muslim children. When school picnics came around, we packed up our basket with all manner of healthy, halal foods because we knew we weren't eating the hotdogs. Other families commented on how delicious our food looked, and we offered around homemade cookies, bread, etc.

Of course, there have been a few negative moments that I've had to simply sail along and ignore. When my daughter asked  why people always had their music blaring, I calmly explained to her that they put music as an essential priority in their life. Much like we  remember Allah in all that we do, they listen to music. I explain that for us, remembering our Creator benefits us now and the aakhirah, but for them, the music is only an enjoyment in this life. Our walks are endless opportunities for comparing and contrasting. They are valuable learning experiences.

Do I always feel confident and look forward to those events? No. I often dread them, considering how I will make the experience enjoyable for my children, represent Islam well, and not compromise our practice or morals. Most surely I could avoid the social situations and save myself the effort. However, I must do all this because my children need to see me act with confidence and conviction. They need to see me take questions in stride and explain our practices engagingly and effectively. They need that for their own self-confidence and conviction that pleasing Allah is foremost, something to be proud about, and not to be compromised.

My modelling teaches them how to act with conviction, not only around non-Muslims but also around Muslims who don't have the same standards or practices. For every question and every life practice and behavior, they are given proof in the form of Quran or hadith.  In this way, they too will know how to establish an unshakeable foundation with the ability to answer questions without fear or intimidation, inshaa'Allah.

By practicing Islam you benefit your children, and by having children they help you practice your Islam. Maintaining your outward Islam frees your mind and heart to nurture your inward emaan.

Friday, March 11, 2011

White Heart

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Many years ago, while I was living in Bahrain, I had some Zamzam water. I saved it so that I could drink a little each day to break my fasts. Zamzam is for whatever you want or need it to be, so I would sit and make dua' over it to this effect.

"Oh Allah, give me the reward as if I were doing an Umrah and drinking this Zamzam at the well in Masjid al Haram. Oh Allah, wash away my sins, bad feeling, and any rust on my heart. As I drink, fill me with emaan, taqwa, sabr, sakina, wisdom, understanding and love for You, your Book, and your Messenger. Oh Allah, wash my heart clean and white. Seal my heart with this Zamzam water so that it stays clean and white, without blemish, until the day I meet You."

This dua' has changed slightly, as I now live in Madinah and have done several Umrahs, but the rest remains the same. One day, while I was working last year at Al-Fus-Ha Girls School, there was a presentation by some visiting deaf and dumb students in the theater/auditorium. I was seated and there were some balloons floating around for decoration. I left my seat to attend to something and when I returned, there was a white, heart shaped balloon right under my chair. I took the balloon and cried because there are no coincidences. At that moment, I was sure that Allah had heard my pleas and was giving me a sign of hope. The balloon has long since lost its air, but it is still a perfect heart shape.

To drag out the story, when we first went to Masjid al Haram after arriving here, I told my daughters to say the dua' for a white heart. Just a few weeks ago, my 4 year old was walking around our apartment and said, "I have a white heart." I was a bit surprised by her out-of-the-blue statement, so I asked her how she knew. She said, "I said that dua' over my Zamzam, Mummy. Allah has made my heart white until the day I meet him." Now that is absolute faith, mashaa'Allah.

Why am I typing all this to you? Because my daughter recently pulled the white heart balloon out of the box I keep it in and it reminded me. Also, because I want to remind you all that ALLAH can do ANYTHING. Just ask Him, beg Him, not just for the present situation, not just for Jennah al Firdaus, for EVERYTHING good and important. If He sends you tests, then know they are a means to attain what you have asked for...and have TOTAL FAITH in HIM.

Okay, I'm going to get my hankie now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tested? Here's the Deal...

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
It do not usually post information on my blog that can be found on other websites. However, this is a subject so close to my heart that when I hear of anyone struggling with it or needing an understanding and outlook, I must share. I was honored to give a workshop in Philadelphia on, "After Hardship there is Ease." This is part of the material I used. I have highlighted in a different color certain hadith that actually make me feel happy, grateful, and totally blessed whenever Allah sends me a test. This gives me great hope; I hope it will do the same for you.
How to view Hardships?

Allah has decreed that, in this life, hardships and disasters strike both believers and non-believers. For a non-believer, they are inconveniences that hinder him from proceeding with his normal involvement in the worldly life. For a believer, on the other hand, they are instances of rest and remembrance, tests that promise great rewards, and indications of atonement and expiation of sins. Regardless of how little is the harm that strikes a believer, it carries with it good news of forgiveness and elevated rank (in Jannah). The Righteous Predecessors used to be pleased when a hardship afflicted them, seeing it as a token of Allah’s forgiveness and benevolence.

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. "Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Suppor-ter and Protector, etc.) (Surah Baqara Verse 286)

Expiations of Sins
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet said: " Hardships continue to befall a believing man and woman in their body, family, and property, until they meet Allah (S) burdened with no sins. " [Tirmithee]

Sign of Allah’s Love
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " Whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity" [Bukharee and others]

Sign of Eeman
Abu Hurayrah (RA) and Ka’b Bin Maalik (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " The parable of a believer is that of a fresh and moist plant; the wind tilts it this way and that way; and so is the believer; he continues to be subject to affliction. And the parable of a hypocrite is that of a firm cedar tree; it does not shake - until it is uprooted all at once." [Bukharee and Muslim]

Sign of Righteousness
The prophets and righteous people are afflicted the most, and their rewards are the highest. Sa’d (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " The most in their suffering among the people are the prophets, then the best, then the (next) best. One is afflicted in accordance with his deen (faith). If his deen is firm his affliction is hard, and if his deen is weak, his affliction is light. Indeed, one would be so much subjected to adversity until he walks among the people without any sins. " [Ahmad, Tirmithee]

Early Punishment
Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " When Allah wills good for a servant of His, He expedites his punishment in this life; and when He wills retribution for a servant of His, He holds his sins for Him to judge him by them on the Day of Resurrection." [Tirmithee]

Multiplication of Rewards
Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " The amount of reward is in accordance with the amount of suffering. When Allah (SWT) loves some people, He tries them (with affliction). He who then is content (with Allah’s decree) has achieved the acceptance (of Allah), and he who is dissatisfied (with Allah’s decree) will attain the anger (of Allah)." [Tirmithee]

Rewards for Sickness
One should not look to sickness as a gloomy episode, but should remember the great good in it. It is one form of affliction with which Allah (SWT) tests His ‘ibaad (servants), giving them a
chance to acquire rewards, as was explained above, as is further emphasized below.

Removal of Sins and Elevation in Ranks
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by harm from sickness or other matters, Allah will drop his sins because of that, like a tree drops its leaves." [Bukharee and Muslim]

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: "A Muslim is not afflicted by hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression - even if pricked by a thorn, but Allah expiates his sins because of that. " [Bukharee and Muslim]

Sa’eed said, " I was with Salmaan (RA) when he visited a sick man in Kindah ( in Persia ), and he said to him: " Expect good because Allah (SWT) makes a believers sickness an expiation (for his sins) and a period of rest. However, when a disbeliever falls sick, he is like a camel whose owner ties it then lets it loose - it does not understand why it was tied nor why it was freed." [Bukharee]

‘Aishah (RA) narrated that once some pain afflicted the Prophet (SAW) causing him to suffer and turn about in his bed. she said: "Had one of us done this, you would have blamed him." He (SAW) replied: " An ailment is intensified for the righteous. whenever a believer is afflicted by a hardship, whether it is a thorn or more, a sin is taken off from him because of it, and he is elevated by one rank (in Jannah). " [Ahmad]

Retaining Rewards for Deeds Before Sickness
Usually, when a believer falls sick, he would not be able to do the same amount of good (prayer, fasting, helping Muslims etc) that he used to do when he was well. But Allah out of His great mercy, continues to record for him the good deeds that he was forced to stop because of his sickness. Abu Moosa Al-Ash’aree narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: " For a traveling or sick person, his deeds will be recorded in accordance with what he used to do when he was resident or well." [Bukharee]

‘Abdullah Bin ‘Amr reported that the Prophet said: "No (believing) person gets sick, but (his deeds) will be recorded for him in accordance with what he used to do when he was well." [Bukharee] Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: " No Muslims body is afflicted by Allah, but He will record (his deeds) foe him in accordance with what he used to do when he was well - as long as he is sick. Thus, if He takes his life, He forgives him; and if He cures him, He washes him (from sins)." [Bukharee]

‘Uqbah Bin ‘Aamir reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: "Each days deeds are sealed with it. thus, when a believer gets sick, the angels say, " Our lord! Your servant such and such, You have restrained him (from doing good this day)." And the lord replies, " Seal his day in accordance with his (usual) deeds, until he is cured or dies". [Ahmad]

Reason for the Reward
‘Atta Bin Rabaah reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) told him, "Do you want to see a woman from the people of Jannah (paradise)?" He said "Yes". He said: " It is this black woman. She came to the Prophet (SAW) saying, " I have (epileptic) seizures, and I get exposed, so supplicate to Allah for me." He (SAW) said: " If you wish, be patient and you will attain Jannah; or if you wish, I will ask Allah to cure you." She replied, " I will be patient ! But my body gets exposed (because of the fall), so supplicate to Allah for me that I do not become exposed." and he (SAW) did." [Bukharee and Muslim]

The scholars have differed in opinion as to whether a sick person will be rewarded for the sickness itself or for being patient during it. the correct opinion is that if he is patient and submits to Allah’s will, as in the above hadeeth, he would be rewarded for both the submission and the sickness, otherwise, he would not be rewarded at all; because he resented Allah’s decree. This is what should be understood from Ibn hajar al-’Asqalaanees words: "The authentic hadeeths are clear in that the rewards are recorded once affliction strikes a Muslim. As for patience and acceptance, they are virtues for which a person may get additional rewards over those for the affliction." ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Amr reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: "If a Muslim is pricked by (as little as) a thorn in the worldly life, and he seeks its reward from Allah, some of his sins will be removed, because of it, on the Day of Judgement."[Bukharee]

"True believers are only those whose hearts are filled with awe whenever God is mentioned, and whose faith is strengthened whenever His revelations are recited to them. In their Lord do they place their trust." (Chapter 8: Verse 2)

(By: Md Ziya)
How we react when faced with an affliction, with a really big test, is the most important aspect when it comes to reaping rewards from Allah, subhaana wa taala. Whatever the test is, the first words to utter are "Al hamdu l'Illah!" Or "Al hamdu l'Illah 'ala kully haal!" (All praise be to Allah for every matter!)

Being grateful for the affliction or test is the highest level of emaan. This is the state when a person thanks Allah for the affliction that has befallen him. He knows that such a difficulty is a means of expiation for his sins and perhaps a cause for an increase in his good deeds.
I have a jolly little rhyme which you might like to say sometime...
Hop, skip and jump with glee,
Allah, You've sent a test to me!
Alhamdu l'Illah! Grateful is me,
I'm basking in the Love from Thee!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Trust after Betrayal

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

A reader asked for my take on how to you rebuild trust after repeated betrayals, so here it is - my own personal view.

When you have someone in your life that hurts you, commits indiscretions, or outright sins,  and you come to a stage where you cannot trust them, don't. Not trusting someone doesn't mean you cannot live with them, enjoy time with them, love them. It simply means that you know certain of their weaknesses and cannot rely on them to overcome them.  It does not mean that you don't encourage them or support them to overcome those weaknesses though. It doesn't mean that you give up hope and dua' for them, either.

There is a saying, expect nothing then everything will either meet or exceed your expectations. With our loved ones we don't want to think badly of them or expect them to do wrong, but getting over their betrayal lies in accepting their humanity and failings. Pray to Allah to keep bad feeling from your heart and replace it with understanding, mercy, and forgiveness. If you want or need to feel some kind of trust in that person, consider areas that they have always been consistent in and focus on them.  However, there is no point setting yourself up for continuous disappointment or hurt by trusting them in the things they cannot be trusted with, when they haven't conquered their qareen/shayateen/nafs.

An example I can give is in raising children. You may have a child who tells lies. You may remind the child that this is wrong and even negatively reinforce the behavior (in other words punish them). You hope that the child learns and doesn't lie again. However, knowing the child's character, will you be surprised if the child lies again? Disappointed, probably but surprised, no. You know that lying is the child's weakness. There is, in my estimation, little or no difference with a spouse, parent, or friend. If one day you find that five years have passed and the child hasn't lied, perhaps you will find that over that time your trust in them has grown. It isn't something that needs work, it is something that happens naturally when there are no repeat offenses or they become very few and far between.

This is the direct opposite of what we are supposed to do with Allah, from Whom we expect the best because He is Perfection. My view is very simple: trust only Allah completely, not mere humans.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The "Keep Your Man Happy" Brownie Recipe

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Here it is, the brownie recipe that my husband loves so much...and everyone else, for that matter. I'm typing the specific ingredients that I use, because I believe that treats should be delicious and good for you. If you substitute with variations, I don't know what the difference will be in the final product, but I don't think you can go wrong.

1/2 cup butter (organic if possible)
1 cup organic raw sugar

cream together, then add:

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (non-alcoholic/glycerin based or vanilla powder)

mix together, then add:

1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic wholewheat pastry flour/wholewheat/ white wholewheat flour

mix/beat until it is a smooth and uniform batter.

I bake the batter in muffin/cupcake baking trays so each brownie is a neat circle. Bake at 350F  or 175C for about 20 - 25 minutes until done. This makes 12 thick, rich brownies.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Polgyny: How Honest Should You Be?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah waBarakatuh.

A sister sent this question to our Madinah Naseeha e-mail address and both my husband and I have decided to answer the question jointly and post it on both of our blogs. The question is, if a husband makes clear that he is seeking another wife and plans to practise polygyny, how honest should the wife be if she isn't happy about that? Should she stop being honest to keep the peace?

Honesty is extremely important, and the difference between people understanding you and your actions correctly or not, lies in how honest you have been with them about who you are and how you feel. That said, it is important not to harp on an issue

There is a big difference between accepting the prospect/reality of polygyny in your life and liking it. There is also a big difference between disliking it, feeling hurt by it, and fearing it and going against Allah's commands and your duties as a wife to become a source of rejection and fitna in it. This is another test, sent by Allah, to be dealt with in the best of manners.

Here is a possible response to a husband's question: "I don't like the prospect of polygyny in my life. If you'd like to know the reasons, I will explain more. However, I am a servant of Allah and plan to act with emaan and taqwa throughout this test and seek Allah's help and guidance." This opens the door for him to choose whether he wants to discuss it further and really hear your concerns or not and makes clear that your intentions are good, but you aren't at peace with the prospect of him taking another wife.

Another possible answer is: "I can't talk about it." This gives a clear message to the husband that you are not in a stage of her life where polygyny is easy for you to accept. Your feminine nature is in opposition to your spiritual nature. This is something that is not wrong, but part of the female psyche. We cannot fault a woman for not doing backflips at the prospect of having to share her husband, time, etc. If he is a thinking man, he will realize that taking another wife it is not the wisest thing to do at that time. Although it may be permissible, it is not wise at all.

If approaching him and asking him questions won't cause discord, ask him why he wants to practice polygyny. However please note, you must be prepared for the answers. It is important for both husbands and wives not to ask questions that they may not like the answer to, or cannot handle the truth about.

If he says that he wants to practice polygyny because it is Sunnah, kindly ask why he has chosen this Sunnah over the other Sunnahs. You may remind him that the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, practiced monogamy for most of his married life, and didn't practice it until after Khadijah (radhi Allahu anhaa) died. That is also a strong Sunnah. All of his marriages set a precedent for the Ummah, were divinely inspired, or were benefiting and strengthening the Ummah through key affiliations. You may ask how your husband's prospective marriage will benefit the "little ummah," your marriage.

Lastly, the most important thing is to make sure that the dialogue is peaceful and that family life stays harmonious. If any of the above advice would cause any type of problem, throw it away - don't take it. However, if you believe it will benefit, please by all means, use it.

Polygyny and Life Update

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Been a bit quiet over here, hasn't it? Well, when it's quiet there is usually a whole lot going on. It's taken all this time to manage to type something half reasonable! Here are the key developments in polygyny and life.

My mother informed me that she is disgusted with our polygyny situation, that my husband has insulted and disrespected me, that my self-esteem has flown out of the window, and that to her it is nothing better than prostitution.  She says she put my husband on a pedestal as he was so wonderful with us, but now she's disappointed in him. All this communication surprised me, but Qadr Allah mashaa fa'al.

I understand how hard this must be for her to comprehend. She is 74 years old, not Muslim, and follows God by doing whatever seems right to her. Her judgement is based on her own lordship, not the word of The Creator. May God guide her to His Truth - ameen. However, it did surprise me and, of course, hubby and I are considering whether there is some way we can help her better understand it.

I have been facing unexpected behavior problems with my daughters, which I was initially so surprised by that I felt I was in a boat without any oars in the middle of the ocean, without GPS. Fortunately, my GPS arrived in the form of sakinah and guidance from Allah, subhaana wa taala. Now I'm relaxing into it all and preparing myself for a whole new "experience" of parenting, lol.

As for the polygyny, our schedule has changed. With maghrib prayer getting later and later and the change over time being 6:30 p.m., it was disturbing the bedtime of our two young daughters. I mentioned it and now the change over time is 5:50 p.m., so that dinner is at 6:00 p.m. and there is plenty of time for everyone to get to bed on time.

Hubby has Arabic classes 5 days a week from  7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This has made him a bit more elusive, LOL. To ensure that the children see him, he has now split the afternoon visit time between each home. In effect, between around 4:30 and 5:50, he will visit both homes so that he has seen everyone before dinner and going for his class.

Zainab has a new work schedule in which she works evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This has a big impact on us all, because the normal schedule cannot be adhered to. Because she leaves around 4:30 p.m., she is not home for the step-children or for the family dinner on these nights...and not even for her visit time! This has resulted in me having the step children during the day almost every day. It has also resulted in me cooking dinner for all six of us almost every evening on alternate weeks when Saturday and Monday are my nights, and still the majority of the nights when they are not. I told hubby that I'm not feeling much like this is polygyny. I'm not getting any chance to miss him, LOL!

I didn't realize, when hubby said that Zainab worked and that polygyny would be an easy transition, exactly how true that was. Since Zainab has gone back to work, I'm not getting the time off I was enjoying and planning for in the early days. Of course, the upside of all this is that the children have dinner with daddy almost every night and there really isn't much chance for them to miss him. Such a mild start should make a gradual increase more natural if or when Zainab stops working.

As for the relationship with Zainab, it is going along well enough. We find a bit more to talk about as I have started selecting topics that will be easy to expand on. She came to the park for a multi-family cook-out and met some of our other friends. Everything is very foreign for her, so this is not an easy time in regards to adjustments, learning, and cultural differences. However, she is perfectly peaceable, polite, and pleasant so we have no problems at all. We exist in the same space easily, talk and laugh about general things here and there, and are basically happy wives in our own space, mashaa'Allah.