Gratitude, Patience, and Endurance

Everyone faces good and bad times during the course of their lives. We can all think of some things that have happened that have made us very happy and others that have brought us tears and sadness. Facing hardships makes a person stronger. With every difficulty, one learns important lessons in patience and endurance. People have the tendency to forget Allah (s.w.t) during the good times and return to Him during difficulties. A Muslim should regard both good times and bad times as a divine test. During good times, Allah (s.w.t) tests us to see if we are grateful for His favors. During bad times, He tests our patience and faithfulness. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Holy Quran:
Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives, and fruits (of your toil). But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere- who say, when afflicted with calamity: To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return-they are those on whom (descend) blessings from their Lord, and Mercy. And they are the ones who receive guidance. (2:155-7).
So, we should always be ready for Allah (s.w.t)’s tests, remembering that He will guide us through the good and the bad times if we stay true to our faith in Him. Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said about a Mu’min (a true believer) that:
Wondrous are the believer’s affairs, for there is good in all his affairs and this is so only for the Mu’min. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful (to Allah s.w.t) and that is good for him, and when something displeasing happens to him, he perseveres patiently, and that is good for him. (transmitted by Muslim).
As Rasulullah (saws) points out in this passage, gratitude and patience are the mark of a true Mu’min. When something good happens, their first impulse is to thank Allah (s.w.t) when something unpleasing happens they do not give up hope, nor do they impatiently question Allah (s.w.t). They know that if they maintain their faith and sincerely pray to Allah (s.w.t) for help and guidance, they will be rewarded Insha Allah. The Holy Quran advises us:
O believers be patent and be better than others in patience, and support each other to do right, and be conscious of Allah; that you may succeed (3:200).
Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu

Building and Maintaining Masajid

What is a Masjid? A masjid is a place reserved for the worship of Allah (s.w.t). Allah (s.w.t) does not want anyone else worshipped there.
And indeed the mosques are for (the worship of) Allah alone, so call not on anyone besides Allah (72:18).
Building, visiting, and maintaining a masjid is a work of great piety. The Holy Quran teaches us:
He indeed, shall build and maintain the mosque of Allah, who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, offers regular prayer, and gives the Zakah and fears none except Allah. (9:18).
Masajid (Mosques) are the Houses of Allah (s.w.t) and He teaches us the manners and etiquette of visiting and using them.
Entering a Masjid: It is Sunnah to enter the masjid with the right foot first and say this Dua: O Allah! Open the doors of Your Rahmah (Mercy) for me. A person entering the prayer area should remove their shoes in order to preserve and maintain the cleanliness of the area of worship. The prayer rug of the masjid must be kept especially clean since people offer their prayers there and make Sajdah (prostration) to Allah (s.w.t) there.
Sunnah Prayer on Arrival at the Masjid: According to some scholars, every time a person performs Wudu and finds a place to pray, it is Sunnah for them to perform two Rak’at salah silently. This prayer is called Tahiyyat al-Masjid.
Waiting for the Prayer: One should then sit quietly while waiting for the congregational prayer to begin. There should be no games, unnecessary talking, or noise. One should spend their time in reading the Quran, remember Allah (s.w.t) and offering Nawafil (optional) prayers. When the Iqamah (second call to prayer) has been made the worshippers should form straight rows behind the Imam. They should stand close to one another, leaving no gaps in between making straight rows. The women should stand behind men making straight rows as well.
After the Prayer: The worshipper may stay for additional Nafl prayer, or for meditation or recitation of the Quran. However, they should avoid anything that is not an act of worship such as chatting, excessive greetings, doing business, eating, etc, while in the masjid.
Leaving the Masjid: it is Sunnah to leave the masjid with the left foot out first and say this Dua: O Allah! I ask you to bless me with Your Fadl (Generosity). According to the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (saws) the reward of offering Salah in congregation is 27 times more than offering it individually. We must take special effort to go to the masjid for all of our prayers. In the Western world, the Muslim community is relatively new and establishing Islamic Centers and Masajid. In many areas Islamic Centers serve both as a masjid and as a social center. These centers are established by the donations of the community and managed by its Shura (Consultation). We must generously donate our money, time, and expertise for community work and cooperate in all those things that will help the Islamic community to grow. Some things may not turn out as we wish, but it is part of our discipline to follow the Shura and never give up working with other members of the community for the cause of Islam.
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu

Good Relations with People of Other Religions

Islam is a religion of peace and good will. As Muslims, we believe that Allah (s.w.t) is the Creator of everyone, and He sent His guidance to all the people of the world. Our Prophet Muhammad (saws) was sent as a messenger for all humanity, and he is “Rahmat al-li al Alameen,” which means, “Mercy to all human kind.” We believe that all humanity, no matter what color, origin, or faith, is one family and must learn to coexist peacefully. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Quran:
Indeed! this Ummah (Community) of yours is one Ummah and I am your Lord, so worship Me. (21:92).
Allah (s.w.t) sent many prophets and messengers before Rasulullah (saws). Unfortunately, many of their teachings were changed by misled people. Finally, Allah (s.w.t) sent his last messenger with His final, perfect message, the Quran. He promised to protect it from human distortion for the rest of eternity. The Quran teaches us how to live as Muslims in submission to Allah (s.w.t). Muslims have a duty to invite others to Islam. We must learn how to present our way of life in a way that they can understand and appreciate it. The Quran teaches us to practice what we preach and our own example can be the best teaching method in itself.
Inviting people to Islam, or Da’wah, is a very important part of being a Muslim. Allah (s.w.t) has provided us with some guidelines of the best ways of doing Da’wah:

Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in the ways that are best (16:25).
Before we can invite anyone to Islam, we must be certain that we have our own facts straight. Because if we sound uncertain, we can discourage people from joining us and do more harm than good.

And argue not with the People of the Book, except in the best way, unless it be with them who do wrong. And say to them we believe in the revelation which has come down to us and that which has come down to you, and your God and our God is One: and it is to Him that we submit to…. (29:46).
Allah (s.w.t) teaches us to talk with other human beings kindly and seek common ground when speaking to them. While talking to people of other faiths we must start with what is common amongst us and not where we differ. We can discuss important matters of faith when we have established common ground and confidence. It is also wrong to belittle the beliefs of others and ridicule their idols and gods:
Revile ye not whom they call upon besides Allah, in case they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance….(6:108).
When we feel strongly about something so important as faith, it is easy to get excited during discussion with someone holding an opposing view. It is important to remember that you cannot force someone to see the truth if their mind is not open to the truth. The ability to see the truth with an open mind comes from Allah (s.w.t), and not everyone exercises this capacity. Using any form of compulsion is clearly prohibited. As the Quran says:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out clear from error…..(2:256).
When speaking to people of other religions, we should point out that all the religions share certain ideologies. Islam shares the basic truth of Tawhid and its moral teachings with all the major religions of the world. Allah (s.w.t) is the source of all truth. When people of any religion go back to their original teachings, they find that in fact, Tawhid is the basis of their earlier revelations. However, much of the truth of the earlier revelations is lost. Islam is closest to Christianity and Judaism because these two religions, more than others, have preserved the truth of their revelations, and their books clearly prophesized the coming of Rasulullah (saws). When speaking to Christians and Jews, we should make it clear that we all believe in the same one God and that we acknowledge them as the People of the Book, revealed to them by earlier prophets. The only difference is that we also believe that Rasulullah (saws) was sent to clarify and complete the truth of Allah’s earlier revelations to human kind.
One of the best ways of keeping good relations with non-Muslims, while at the same time inviting them to Islam, is to treat them with respect. If people see that a Muslim is kind and helpful, fair and trustworthy, they will like him or her. Moreover, they will be interested to know more about the faith that guides this person to be and do good. Therefore, every Muslim should try to behave in an appropriate manner and show how Islam is the best religion in the sight of God. A good example often carries more emphasis than words. The Quran teaches us fairness, justice, good speech, righteous actions and cooperation in all good deeds and forbids, ridicule, bad language, injury, injustice, and backbiting. Also, a Muslim must always remember that while he or she is responsible for bringing the message of Islam before those who have not yet been enlightened, guidance is ultimately in the hands of Allah (s.w.t).
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu


Islamic Brotherhood

We as Muslims should treat other Muslims as our brothers and sisters, caring about their welfare, as we would care about our own family. This relationship is one of trust, love, respect, and companionship. Muslim’s should live together in peace, sharing their joys and sorrows. Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said:
A Muslim is a Muslim’s brother: he does not abuse him or abandon him. If anyone cares for his brother’s needs, Allah (s.w.t) will care for his needs; if anyone removes his brother’s anxiety, Allah (s.w.t) will remove his anxiety on the Day of Judgment; and if anyone hides a Muslim’s weakness, Allah (s.w.t) will hide his secrets on the Day of Judgment. (transmitted by Bukhari)
Upholding the Islamic brotherhood is a moral obligation for every Muslim and an important part of one’s faith. Rasulullah (saws) reported:
By Him whose hand my soul rests, a man does not believe until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself (transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim).
Islam is truly a universal faith. One can find Muslims of all nationalities, living in every part of the world. They include Arabs, Iranians, Pakistani’s, Afghans, Malays, Chinese, Uzbeks, Turks, Africans, Bosnians, Americans and many others. The common bond of Islam makes Muslims of all races and tribes brothers and sisters. They should love one another and help one another. They should not fight or quarrel with each other. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Quran:
The believers are but a single brotherhood: so make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers…..(49:10).
The strength of the Muslim community or Ummah lies in unity. The Shaitan knows there is strength in numbers, so he tries to create division between Muslims to conquer our souls. We must avoid the tendency to group together on racial lines against each other, because that would be our downfall. Allah (s.w.t) warns us in the Quran:
And hold fast all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided amongst yourselves (3:103).
We must remember that above all, despite differences in gender, nationality, or race, we are Muslims, and we share common faith in Allah (s.w.t) and His teachings. There should be no stronger bond, and no other brotherhood can be more fulfilling.
Interestingly, almost every war in world history has been fought over nationalism and territorialism. The belief that one nation’s people are superior to another is a man-made notion. Allah
(s.w.t) rejects any such divisions among his creation. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Holy Quran:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you…(49:13).
The only difference Allah (s.w.t) sees between us is the purity of our faith and actions. Rasulullah (saws) further emphasized:
You are not better than people with red or black skins unless you excel them in piety. (transmitted by Ahmad).
Therefore, there is no room for racial or national pride in Islam. Such pride is the creation of human beings, propagated by the Shaitan, and it only functions to break down the Islamic brotherhood and distract us from serving Allah (s.w.t).
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu

Importance of Knowledge

The purpose of seeking knowledge: Knowledge is the information that we use to perform daily functions and plan future actions. When a child is born, Allah (s.w.t.) gives him or her some basic knowledge known as instincts. For example, as soon as a baby is born, it automatically knows how to cry and move his arms and legs. As we grow older, our experiences teach us lessons in life. We gain more knowledge of the world and what our purpose on earth is. As we learn about the world and the natural laws that govern it, it becomes evident that there must be an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful superior being who created life. We know this being can only be Allah (s.w.t).
Because Allah (s.w.t) granted us intelligence, it is our duty to seek knowledge, so we can understand what Islam is and how we can best worship and serve Him. Rasulullah (saws) has said:
The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim, male and female. (transmitted by Bukhari)
Therefore, it is the duty of every Muslim, man or woman, to seek knowledge. By studying Allah (s.w.t)’s creation, we feel a deep sense of awareness and respect for Allah (s.w.t) as our Creator, and thus, strengthen our Iman. The Holy Quran says:
Those truly fear Allah, among His servants, who have knowledge. (35:28).
Knowledge also protects us from the pitfalls that the Shaitan may mislead us into. As Rasulullah (saws) said:
One scholar is harder on the devil than a thousand worshippers. (transmitted by Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
If we know how to recognize good from bad, we can avoid wrong beliefs and make an effort to win the pleasure of Allah (s.w.t) through sincere worship and good deeds. One who struggles in pursuit of knowledge becomes very dear to Allah (s.w.t). Rasulullah confirmed this in the following hadith:
Whoever travels in search of knowledge is on Jihad until he returns. (transmitted by Tirmidhi and Darimi)
In addition to preparing for the Day of Judgment, knowledge is a valuable tool for living in in this world. Allah (s.w.t) has provided us many natural resources. Without knowing how to access these resources, life would be very difficult. We would not have many vital technologies, such as electricity, improvement of crops, and farming techniques, building dams for irrigation, and hydroelectric power, developing medicines to cure disease, among many others.
Value of educators: Because they teach the fundamentals of knowledge, educators are greatly respected in Islam. Without good educators, students cannot develop a strong foundation for their knowledge base. In fact, Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said:
The ink of the ‘alim (knowledgeable person) is more precious than the blood of the shahid (one who dies fighting for the cause of Allah (s.w.t). (transmitted by Tirmidhi)
Therefore, a knowledgeable person deserves respect and consideration, because as an educator, they provide an invaluable service to humanity.
What is meant by knowledge? A Muslim’s knowledge base must include a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of Islam. In addition, one should be well-versed in Islamic law (Shariah), the sciences, languages, mathematics, agriculture, medicine, arts and crafts, etc. However, on the course of his or her non-religious studies, the Muslim is taught something that is contrary to the teachings of the Quran and Hadith, he or she must only follow what Allah (s.w.t) and His Messenger have said. We must never forget that Allah (s.w.t)’s knowledge is perfect and complete. The limited knowledge human beings do possess was also granted by Allah (s.w.t).
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu.

Decency of Dress and Good Manners

Throughout most of the world we are now experiencing the summer months. These months are welcomed by many people because these are the times when people are more likely to do recreational activities and simply relax with their friends and family. However, during these often very warm days many people, especially ladies, may become more likely to wear revealing or inappropriate clothing. This is why I’ve decided to create this brief post about the importance of decency of dress in Islam to simply serve as a quick reminder.

The Purpose of Clothing

Part of being a good Muslim is to be modest and in turn part of modest living is decency in behavior, speech, and even the way we dress. Our dress not only affects how we look outside but represents what we are inside. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Quran:

O you children of Adam! We have bestowed garments upon you to cover your shame, as well as to make you beautiful. But the garment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition! (7:26).

The main function of our dress is to cover up our shame and enhance our outward appearance. Furthermore, being appropriately dressed brings out from within us a feeling of wholesomeness and modesty which may not be apparent to the naked eye but is obvious from our behavior. Dress has two more important functions for human beings. Just as animals have fur to keep their body warm, human beings need clothes to conserve body heat and protect them against changing weather. Unlike animals, however, human beings also need to cover their nakedness to preserve their dignity and provide comfort to their bodies. Some would even argue that the way a person dresses also affects his behavior. If one dresses modestly, they tend to behave modestly whereas, if one dresses indecently, they tend to behave indecently.

Islamic Dress Code: Satr

According to the Islamic dress code known as Satr, mature girls and women should cover the entire body, except the face and the hands when they are out in public, or when men other than their close relatives are present. They may wear whatever they like in private. However, they should avoid nakedness, even in front of other women and close relatives. Men are also forbidden from wearing gold jewelry and silk clothing. Both men and women’s clothing should be loose and thick enough, so the shape of the body is not obvious.

Modesty in Dress and Manners

Islam discourages nakedness and extravagance in dress and behavior. Even Rasulullah (saws) the leader of mankind, lived very modestly. If he had desired, he could have lived like a king, having big feasts and wearing silken robes. Yet, he never had elaborate meals and dressed in very simple attire. He even shared in household chores. He never acted as if he was greater than anyone else, but his incredible qualities made him great in everyone’s eyes. His modesty and humility endeared him to people. When one learns to live modestly, they no longer needs fancy clothing or jewelry, or extravagant cars and houses. Therefore, jealousy and envy never enter their mind, and Shaitan’s temptations do not lure them as easily. They can stay focused on more important things, such as the remembrance of Allah (s.w.t).
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu

Kindness to Animals

There are many different kinds of animals in the world. These include mammals, birds, insects, fish, and reptiles. Some are wild, some are tame, some are big, some are small, and some are dangerous, while some are playful. Allah (s.w.t) created the animals for a purpose just as he created human beings for a purpose. Therefore, we should respect all of His creation and be kind to animals.
Allah (s.w.t) has allowed human beings to use some of these animals to help in their work, such as horses, mules, dogs, oxen. Often animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats and chicken may be used for food. But this permission to use animals for sustenance does not mean one can be cruel to animals, or make them work beyond their strength. It is wrong to kill animals without a serious reason. The Holy Quran teaches us to respect the rights of animals.
There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. (6:38).
Although human beings are the most intelligent creatures on earth, Allah (s.w.t) has granted animals varying degrees of intelligence, as necessary for survival. Many animals even show certain behaviors that are similar to human behavior. For example, monkeys have been proven to have maternal instincts similar to those of humans and are capable of rudimentary verbal communication. Dolphins have also been shown to communicate through sounds. Dogs and cats show caring behaviors, such as loyalty to their owners.
As stated in the verse above, animals have shown the tendency to form communities just as humans do. Although not as complex as human communities, animals of the same species live together, breed and care for their young. In certain, animal communities, different members have different roles. For example, in bees, the queen bee is the leader and the mother of the communities and the worker bee makes the honey.
Incredibly, animals are also spiritual beings. If you listen very carefully to the sounds of crickets before dawn, or the chirping of the birds, you can hear a certain rhythm that sounds like tasbih. The Holy Quran states that animals have their own ways of worshipping Allah (s.w.t):
See you not that it is Allah Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And Allah knows well all that they do. (24:41).
Animals may possess an intelligence and awareness of Allah (s.w.t) that we do not understand, so we must respect that they have certain rights on this earth.
Slaughtering an animal: When a Muslim slaughters an animals for its meat, he must do so with the name of Allah (s.w.t). Declaring, “Bismillah Allahu Akbar” (In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest). The animal should be slaughtered quickly with a sharp knife. The animal should not be slaughtered in an area where other animals can see and feel afraid. A Muslim only takes life for a serious reason, in a merciful manner with Allah (s.w.t)’s name.
Killing harmful animals: It is a sin to kill any animal without a good reason. Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said: Whoever kills a sparrow (small bird) for nothing, it will cry out loud to Allah on the Day of Resurrection, saying: “O my Lord! This person killed me for nothing; he did not kill me for any good reason (Transmitted by Nasa’i). Therefore, we can only kill animals for sustenance or if they pose a serious to humans.
Stealing eggs: It is reported that when Rasulullah (saws) was on a journey he left his companions for a while. He saw a bird with two chicks when he returned he saw the bird was spreading out its wings in distress. When Rasulullah (saws) came to his companions he discovered that one of his companions took away the chicks from their mother. He told his companion: You have pained the bird, whoever has taken her chicks return them to her. “
Rasulullah (saws) was trying to emphasize that animals have feelings of love for their young ones, just as human beings have. Therefore, we should not steal young animals or birds eggs, just as we should not steal young children from their parents.
Treating beasts of burden with consideration: Beasts of burden are those animals which work by carrying or transporting people or goods for their owners. Without them, many people throughout history and even today in developing nations would have no means of transportation. Because they work so hard, it is important to be kind to such animals. Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said: Fear Allah (s.w.t) in treating animals, and ride them when they are fit to be ridden, and get off them when they are tired (Transmitted by Abu Dawud). Therefore, a Muslim should not overwork an animal or whip it when it is tired. One should be considerate in providing adequate amounts of food, water, and rest from work to working animals.
Taking care of domesticated animals: It is reported that Rasulullah (saws) heard of a woman who locked her cat in a room and gave it no food until it died of starvation. He commented that the women would go to Hell because of her cruelty to her cat. Rasulullah (saws) also spoke of the case of a man who saw a thirsty dog and drew water from a well for it to drink. Rasulullah (saws) observed that for his kindness to the animal, his sins will be forgiven by Allah (s.w.t). we must take good care of domesticated animals by feeding them, giving them baths, cleaning up after them and taking them for walks in fresh air. When we play with them, we shouldn’t be rough or hurt them.
Conclusion: From the above ahadith and verses of the Quran we can learn three important lessons. First, it is important to treat animals with consideration, as members of our world community. They were created by Allah (s.w.t) and worship Him in their own ways. Second, cruelty to animals is a serious sin. Therefore, it is our duty to try to stop others, especially children, from acts of cruelty to animals, explaining to them what Rasulullah (saws) has said about it.
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu.

Helping the Needy

Life is full of joys and sorrows. At one time or another, everyone experiences their share of joyous times and difficult times. We know that it is our duty thank Allah (s.w.t) for our happiness and pray for His help and forgiveness in times of distress and sadness. However, it is also our Islamic duty to help others who may be experiencing difficult times. It is the duty of the strong to the help the weak. It is the duty of the healthy people to visit and comfort the sick. It is the duty of everyone to take care of the less fortunate particularly orphans and widows. By sharing good and bad times, we become more than a community, we become a brotherhood.
Many unforeseen circumstances occur in life which leaves people in need of help. Allah (s.w.t) tests the sincerity of our faith through such circumstances. For example, natural disasters, such as fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes, leave people homeless, without food or other belongings. Often, they have to build their lives from almost nothing.
Due to an unstable economy, people may lose their jobs, as companies close down. Sometimes, people become disabled due to illness or an accident and lose the capacity to work. Their families may suffer great losses as a result. One can never tell when a situation may change things for the worse. Therefore, we should always be generous to those who are going through hard times and thank Allah (s.w.t) for His Mercy. Especially in times of prosperity, we must have compassion and sympathy for those who are suffering. The Holy Quran states:
And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed) who are asking: Our Lord, rescue us from this town of oppressors and make for your presence protectors and provide us the defenders. (4:75).
Rasulullhah (saws) stated:
Allah (sw.t.) will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others. (Transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim).
The Quran and Hadith especially mention the rewards of helping widows and orphans. When a woman loses her husband, she is left without any support. Her welfare and honor should be protected by all members of the community. As Rasulullah (saws) said:
He who strives on behalf of a widow or poor person is like one who strives in Allah (s.w.t)’s path (transmitted by Bukhari).
When a child loses his or her parents, he or she is left with no one to care for them. Rasulullah (saws) himself, was an orphan, and he made it a point to always be loving towards orphans. Making sure that orphans receive a proper Islamic upbringing is an act of great reward. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Holy Quran:
And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, (saying), We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you nor thanks. We only fear a Day of frowning and distress from the side of our Lord (76:7-10).
Furthermore, Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said:
I, and the one who takes responsibility for an orphan, whether of his own kind or others, will be in Paradise thus: (and he pointed his forefinger and middle finger with a slight space between them) (transmitted by Bukhari).
To a certain extent, every Muslim is responsible for the welfare of each member of his community. Through this kind of care and love, Muslims demonstrate that they are brothers and sisters in Islam. Rasulullah (saws) characterized this brotherhood best in the following hadith:
You will see the Believers, in their relationships to each other based upon mercy, love, and kindness—as a single body; if one part of it gets sick the entire body is restless and in pain (transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim).
It is important to mention that Muslims are also encouraged to be kind, helpful, and sympathetic to non-Muslims as well. For Muslims who live in the West, this is especially important because if we as Muslims actively participate in our communities this will help improve the image of the beautiful and peaceful religion of Islam.

Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu

Choosing Friends Wisely

With the creation of Facebook and other social media sites it has become very easy to make friends. However, from an Islamic perspective it is very important to choose your friends carefully because the way they behave will have an influence on the way you behave. Good friends will encourage you to do good deeds and warn you to avoid the bad deeds. Allah (s.w.t) advises us in the Quran:
O Believers, be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful people. (9:119).
The company of the truthful friends will encourage you to fulfill your duties to Allah (s.w.t) and help you stay on the straight path of Islam. On the contrary, bad friends can persuade you to do things that you know are wrong. The Holy Prophet (saws) is reported to have said:
The best friend in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his companion. (Transmitted by Tirmidhi).
This hadith is very important because it reminds us that we must choose sincere friends who truly want to be our friends because they care about us and want us to be happy in this world and in the hereafter. Unfortunately there are those who pretend to be our friends but they use this “friendship” to gain benefits for themselves.
Sometimes people are known for the friends that they have. As the Holy Prophet (saws) said:
A person generally follows the way of his close friends. Everyone must judge a person by the company he keeps. (Transmitted by Abu Dawud).
In Islam we Muslims are encouraged to have a good social life and to make friends. However, it is most important to be the best person you can be. Therefore, while having friends can be a good thing, you can also enjoy being by yourself sometimes. There is a famous saying that says: “Birds of a feather flock together.” This is used to mention that just as birds of the same kind fly together, human beings also choose friends with common interests and goals.
When choosing friends you should first think, “Does this person have qualities that I admire?” Admirable qualities should include high standards of morals and manners. If we have friends that have good morals and manners we will also be encouraged to behave properly. By sharing the company of good people, we can improve ourselves using their example, and similarly, they may learn from our example. However, if we join the company of those who are known to behave badly, we may slip into bad habits as well. Sometimes, we may be tempted to make friends with such people because they seem to be popular. However, they are very unpopular with Allah (s.w.t) and His is the only pleasure we should seek.
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Akhlaq by Aisha Lemu

Islamic Manners for Mealtime

Before Eating

Before eating a Muslim should: 1. Wash their hands; 2. Say Bismi(A)llahi (A)r-Rahmani A(R)-Raheem, which means: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.” By doing so we are reminded that it is through the Mercy of Allah (s.w.t) that we are blessed with food to eat.

While Eating

While eating, a Muslim should:
1. Use their right hand
2. Take food from the side of the dish nearest to them, and not pick at it, looking for the better pieces.
3. Take a moderate amount of food on their plate, allowing others to have their fair share.
4. Not waste. If you are unsure of how much food you need you can start off with a small amount and then if you’re still hungry you can go for a second round.
5. Eat with other people if possible.
6. Avoid gluttony and overeating.
Rasulullah (saws) is reported to have said that when eating, one third of the stomach is for food, one third for drink, and one third for air (it should be empty). If this advice is followed a Muslim will derive many benefits from it for their health. The bad habit of burping will also be curbed. If you have to burp in public while in front of others you should turn your face to the side and cover your mouth with your right hand. After burping, one should say Alhamdulillah (All praises are for Allah s.w.t).

After Eating

After finishing the meal, a Muslim must thank Allah (s.w.t) and say: Alhamdulillahi (A)lladhi at’amana wa saqana wa (a)j’alna min (a)l-Muslimin (All praises are due to Allah who gave us to eat and to drink and made us Muslims. )
After this Muslims are recommended to:
1. Wash their hands
2. Rinse their mouth
3. Preferably, clean their teeth with a Miswak or toothbrush.
In Christianity people are advised to thank God for the food before the meal. However, In Islam we are advised to thank Allah after the meal. This is very significant because Allah (s.w.t) knows His creation best. Perhaps before the meal if the individual is extremely hungry they may rush through and very quickly give thanks without it really coming from the depths of their heart. However, after the meal the individuals stomach is satisfied and they can give a more sincere and thoughtful thanks without having the urge to rush it in order to fulfill their desire. Also, in Islam if a person’s mealtime and their prayer time come at the same time and the individual is very hungry than it is preferred that they eat first and then go due their salah (prayer). Subanhallah these simple things really show the infinite Mercy of Allah (s.w.t) and the beauty of Islam.
Source: Islamic Tahdhib and Ahlaq by Aisha Lemu