“I only want to marry an Arab!”

Over the years, I’ve tried my best to help numerous brothers get married – even brothers in prison!

But whenever a brother says he only wants to get married to an Arab, I always tell him he shouldn’t restrict himself in this way, unless he is willing to wait patiently for a very long time for the perfect girl to come along.

When I say patiently, I mean with true patience. That means no sulking or ranting on social media about how hard it is to find a wife.

Arabs make up approximately only 15-20% of the Muslim population. From that percentage, how many are women? And from those women, how many are practising? And from those practising women, how many have the right ‘Aqeedah? From them, how many would even consider YOU? What percentage are we left with?

If the issue is to do with complexion (or build even), there are many women of Asian background (particularly Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani) who look Arab.

If it’s to do with cuisine, they can learn to make different cuisines. Learning to cook isn’t difficult.

If it’s to do with language, they can learn Arabic very easily, in less than a year or two, especially with the gentle support and encouragement of their husbands.

We live in a time of fitnah and it’s already difficult as it is to get married. I think it’s wrong and naïve to restrict oneself to a certain ethnicity, race or nationality. The most important thing to look for is good Deen (especially ‘Aqeedah), and of course there must be some level of attraction, otherwise it won’t work.

In the Bangladeshi community, we are taught that dark complexion is unattractive. This is narrow-mindedness and racism!

I’ve known men who have rejected perfectly good women (with good Deen and extremely attractive features) only because they are dark in complexion. I doubt they would have had that attitude if it wasn’t drilled into them by their parents and culture (or society) from a young age.

So please be mature, realistic and open-minded. Look for a woman who has good Deen and feminine attributes. Don’t have a certain type of woman in mind. Perhaps Allah will open up your heart and you’ll start seeing beauty in different shades, sizes, races and cultures.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13)

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Lessons from the story of Barsisa

Do you remember the story of Barsisa? He used to leave food for the woman on his doorstep; after a while, to save her the effort, he decided to take the food to her and leave it on her doorstep; then he would knock on the door and hand it to her; then he would go inside and leave the food in her room; then he started to talk to her; then they touched; and then one thing led to another… It’s a story that epitomises the plotting and whispering of Shaytan.

A modern way of falling into such a trap is to message a sister directly with the supposed intention of asking for her wali’s number. I highly doubt that she would just give you his number right away without there to be any preliminary discussions, which would inevitably lead to haram.

Shaytan’s plot could begin even before that – with a follow or friend’s request. This would then lead to liking her posts, which leads to commenting, which leads to a DM praising and thanking her for her beneficial reminders, and then she replies, “Jazāk Allah khayr brother,” and then you reply asking if she is married, and then she replies no, and then you reply, “By the way, is that really your picture? Just making sure you’re not a catfish, lol.” And it goes on and on. I’m sure you get the point.

So, my dear brother, if you find a sister online that you are interested in, don’t message her directly. If you want to get her wali’s details, you can get your mother, aunt, sister, niece or a friend’s wife or sister to help you. There’s no excuse for messaging sisters directly.

Many brothers think that if they message sisters directly they can get them to fall in love with them and agree to marriage. This idea is from Shaytān. Stick to the halal way and there will be barakah in your lives. The haram way could result in more pain and suffering.

How would you feel if you had a daughter and a man started speaking to her about marriage behind your back?

Beware of backbiting

بسم الله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وبعد:

When people backbite and slander, it is usually done out of envy and jealousy, and it is often done to people they’ve never actually had any interaction with in real life.

Can you imagine having to give away your good deeds on the Day of Judgement to someone you had never met in the dunyā? How would that make you feel? How much would it hurt? Some “stranger” you had never met in the dunyā comes and takes all your good deeds or gives you all their bad deeds and then enters Jannah, while you are dragged in chains to the Fire!

What’s worse is to backbite and slander individuals who could be the Awliyā’ of Allah, especially with the evil intention of defaming them. That is something none of us ever want to do, because if they make du’a against someone, Allah will answer it, as it is a major form of oppression.

The Sahabi Sa’d bin Abee Waqqās (may Allah be pleased with him) once made du’a against a man who slandered him. So Sa’d asked Allah to take away his sight! Some time later, the man was seen with droopy eyelids, harassing little girls on the street. Whenever he was asked how he was he would say, “I am an old man. Great trials have befallen me. The du’a of Sa’d has been inflicted upon me!” (Reported by al-Bukhārī)

So if you’ve never had any personal interaction with someone, avoid speaking about them. Don’t just go by hearsay or a few screenshots or memes you’ve seen about them. Your mates (or cheerleaders) who laugh at your slandering and mocking of others could become your enemies in the Ākhirah.

The qualities of a caller to Allah

بسم الله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وبعد:

Very few people who claim to be doing da’wah have the qualities of a true da’iyah.

The reward for doing da’wah is so great because a da’iyah is not like any ordinary person.

He (or she) has to be sincere, and sincerity is one of the most difficult things to acquire and maintain for the majority of people.

He needs to patiently acquire knowledge and know his limits.

He must acquire wisdom, learn when to speak and when to be silent (or withhold knowledge), and know what to say and when to say it.

He ought to have a strong relationship with Allah and the Qur’an, and regularly perform qiyām al-layl.

He must have exemplary manners and learn to be patient in the face of abuse, criticism, insults and even personal and physical attacks.

He does not brand those who dislike or disagree with him from the Muslims as disbelievers, hypocrites or enemies of Allah.

He does not become angry when people do not listen to him. He only becomes angry for the sake of Allah.

His goal is to make the Word of Allah the highest (izhār al-Dīn), not his own words or the words of his group or shaykh.

He must understand that he will face many trials and have enemies from the Shayātīn of humans and jinn.

These are some of the reasons why a da’iyah is the best of people. Allah says:

“And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah…” (41:33)

The rewards are great, but if one wishes to embark upon the path of da’wah they must know what they are getting themselves into and learn the etiquettes and requirements of da’wah.

If a person does not have the above qualities they lack either sincerity or knowledge, or both. Furthermore, they could end up doing more damage than good.

How I avoided haram at the workplace

This post is longer than my usual ones, but I wanted to share my experience as it could benefit someone, even if it’s just one person.

One of the many challenges I faced when I started to practise Islam was trying to maintain a halal job. But I believe Allah سبحانه وتعالى made things easy for me as I was unwilling to compromise my beliefs and principles.

My first job, after I started practising Islam, was at Sainsbury’s (supermarket). I worked there part-time for two years, while I was studying at college. In my first year I worked in the produce department. In my second year I worked in the bread department. So my main role didn’t entail anything haram. However, on the weekends, when the store got really busy (during peak hours), I was required to work on the checkout. This was when I first started to encounter some problems.

As I was getting trained to work on the tills, I remember feeling anxious. I was thinking to myself, “What am I going to do if a customer wants to buy alcohol or pork? What if he wants to pay by credit card?” All sorts of thoughts and concerns were going through my mind.

The good thing was that I was told it would take two weeks to get fully trained before I could work on the tills. So in that time, I asked a few knowledgeable people about my situation. Back then, I was told that there was no harm in accepting credit card payments or scanning haram meat. However, I was told that it was totally forbidden to deal with alcohol in any way, shape or form.

Eventually, the day came when I was required to carry out my checkout duties. I had to think really fast. I even remember hoping and praying that I didn’t get a customer who wants to buy alcohol. But the inevitable happened and I saw a customer in my queue with alcohol in his trolley. I had to think really fast, while I was serving the customers who were before him in the queue. I had to say something before he placed his items on the conveyor belt. Then I just said to him, in my young voice, “Excuse me sir, I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to serve alcohol. You’ll have to go to another till.” He looked at me and didn’t even doubt or question what I said. In my mind, I meant my religion doesn’t allow me to serve it, but he most likely thought I meant legally, according to the law.

That was it. I had found the perfect excuse and thing to say. From that moment on, that was what I told every customer. I think it worked because I looked so young – I was under the age of 18 and it seemed like a plausible excuse to customers. But I doubt it would work for me today, lol. And it most likely won’t work for most people.

Several months later, while I was walking through the warehouse, I was asked by the deputy manager to move some crates of alcohol. This was the deputy manager! He was no ordinary member of staff. This time I was stuck, so I decided to “say it as it is”. I said to him in plain words, “I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to deal with alcohol. It’s forbidden in my religion.” He looked really surprised, and the first thing he said to me was, “What about so-and-so? He’s a Muslim but he always helps out.” The person he was referring to (whose name I won’t mention) was a brother with a large beard – much larger than mine, which was barely visible in those days. In fact, I don’t think I even had a beard. He was seen as the most religious person. He never missed his prayers and would always give salam to people. I didn’t want to say anything negative about him so I just replied, “I’m not so-and-so.” The deputy manager respected my wishes and called someone else for assistance.

So, al-ḥamdu lillāh, I never dealt with alcohol while I worked at Sainsbury’s. And I never missed any of my prayers. My colleagues respected me because I was one of the best workers. I used to work really hard to look after my department. So whenever I had an issue with something, due to my religious beliefs, they respected me. I even refused to wear Santa hats and those ugly Christmas sweaters, and no one said anything to me.

After I left Sainsbury’s, I got a job at the Link, selling mobile phones. I was given two breaks: a 15 minute break in the morning and a one hour break for lunch. When winter came, the prayer times became really close, so I had to ask my manager for an extra two breaks for ‘Asr and Maghrib prayers. At first he refused, saying that we all get the same breaks. But by that time I had been in the job for at least four months, and I had noticed that he and another employee would go outside the shop nearly every hour, for a couple of minutes, to smoke cigarettes. So I said to him (the manager), “But you go out every hour to smoke a cigarette. If I added up all those minutes it would probably come up to 15-20 minutes every day. I’m not asking for extra time. Just let me divide my lunch time the way I want. Let me spread it out throughout the day to accommodate my prayers. I’ll still be able to hit my sales targets.” He thought about it for a few seconds and then he said, “Alright.” In my mind I thought to myself, if he doesn’t allow me to pray, I’m leaving the job, but al-ḥamdu lillāh it didn’t come to that.

So these were just a few of the challenges I faced when I started practising Islam, but I believe Allah made things easy for me as I was unwilling to compromise my religious beliefs and values, and over time I gained more confidence. Since then, the Deen has only become easier and easier to practise, al-ḥamdu lillāh.

Most jobs are, in essence, halal, but most of these jobs (especially in non-Muslim countries) also entail some things or tasks that are haram. But those things that are haram can be avoided. If one cannot avoid them, one should look for another job.

Everyone’s circumstance is different. I’m not qualified to issue any fatwas. I just wanted to share my personal experience to show that it is more than possible to earn a halal living and not compromise one’s Deen.

We must remember that Allah is the source of provision, not one’s job.