Wearing The Hijab In Islam

 

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Navida Sayed, London

Over the last decade the hijab has become one of the most widely discussed and controversial topic not only in the West but also in Muslim societies. The covering of the head has also been debated among some Muslim scholars and they have joined in the debate on whether or not the wearing of a headscarf is required of Muslim women. Before we discuss what some scholars are saying we will see what led to this debate. [i]

Recently the topic of hijab came into the spotlight through social media platforms. Some European governments have introduced legislation against wearing the full face Hijab. In pursuit of their own political agendas some of the Western countries repeatedly intervene and attempt imposing and elaborating a dress code about how Muslim women should dress in the name of secularism, as a result this is dividing societies rather than uniting.  It leads to backlash and hatred against Muslim women in hijab. This has resulted in many with little awareness of Islam to identify Muslim women in hijab either with terrorism or as oppressed women in desperate need of liberation from their hijab.  Sadly all the negative media propaganda and recent hate crimes against Muslim women in Hijab has resulted in some Muslim women to turn their back on wearing the veil and forming countercultural statements.

Women choosing to walk away from the hijab as feminists or because of modernity actually believe that the hijab is ingrained in culture rather than faith. They pander to the arguments of those who erroneously believe that Muslim hijab wearing women are brainwashed into saying they are wearing it out of choice and they are not forced to wear it. Activists are taking the removal of the hijab to a whole new level, from videos and blogs on how to remove the headscarf to linking the headscarf as an out dated cultural practice. To further confuse matters some Muslim males opposing the headscarf have jumped on the bandwagon too, they quote five so-called high profile Muslim Scholars as an authority who issued a fatwa on – ‘The Permissibility Of Not Wearing The Headscarf’, I will only touch on some of their points here.

The first is Khaled Abou El-Fadl ‘ who critiques the predominant Muslim position of viewing the khimar (veil) as a piece of cloth that covers the head and face or just the head. He argues that if the headscarf itself causes women to stand out and put them in the way of harm and if uncovering the head is not considered socially immodest or licentious then it would be permissible for Muslim women to not wear the headscarf.’

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi also shares the opinions of Khaled Abou El-Fadl, Ghamidi and his affiliate Farhad Shafti that ‘the khimar (veil) was neither a religious act nor did it pertain to modesty.

Abdullah Bin Bayyah ‘argues that hardships allow for uncovering of women’s body parts or hair in public.

In relation to the wearing of the headscarf Bin Bayyah’s student Hamza Yusuf mistakenly asserts that ‘the laws are there to serve human beings, we are not there to serve the law. We are there to serve Allah, and that is why whenever the law does not serve you, you are permitted to abandon it, and that is actually following the law. … The law is for our benefit, not for our harm. Therefore, if the law harms us, we no longer have to abide by it.’

The late Shia cleric, Ahmad Ghabel deemed as an authority on Islam, ‘argued that the head covering was not obligatory but recommended, he also said there was no consensus as to whether hair constituted parts that must be covered.’

The fifth person the late Nasr Abu Zayd argued ‘covering of body parts and the hijab are subject to socio-cultural norms and therefore are changeable and not fixed. He opined that both are not legislated by Islam but are rather specific to the Arab culture.’[ii]

Citing the above-mentioned individuals as authorities on Islam is misleading. Deliberation on their arguments in detail is for another time. In a nutshell as scholars of Islam they are all inaccurately asserting with authority that Islam does not require women to cover their heads with a headscarf especially in countries where they may be facing discrimination or persecution because of their headscarves.  However the real and only authority on Islam is the Holy Qura’n.  In Islam, modesty and chastity are very important tenets of faith, and are achieved through establishing certain codes of behaviour and dress. It is said in the Holy Qur’an:

‘And say to the believing women that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts, and that they display not their beauty and embellishments except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-covers over their bosoms…’ (Ch.24:V.32)

The veil is a word used generically, which could refer to Hijab, Burqa, Niqab, headscarf or outer garment used to cover the body. Because Islam is a global religion there is no specific or compulsory dress for all Muslim women. Each country or community adapts its cultural dress code to observe the Hijab in accordance with Qur’anic instructions. In essence, this does not mean that the Hijab stems from cultural dress in fact the beauty of Islam is that it allows women to adapt their cultural dress in accordance with teachings of Islam as mentioned in the above verse of the Holy Qura’n.  Observance of the veil is definitely part of a Muslim woman’s faith, as it is clear from the Holy Qur’an.

Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab in Western countries do not struggle with any kind of inferiority complex or dilemma about whether or not they should wear the hijab. They do not feel constricted or objectified instead they feel confident and empowered.  The Hijab establishes dignity and respect for women, so that they are recognised in society as individuals who are respected for their intelligence and personality rather than for their physical appearance.  For Muslim women having the right to choose what to wear including the hijab is the most liberating and empowering choice of all.

 

 

[i] HuffPost Canada. (2017). 5 Muslim Scholars On The Permissibility Of Not Wearing The Headscarf. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/junaid-jahangir/islam-wearing-hijab_b_14046520.html

[ii] HuffPost Canada. (2017). 5 Muslim Scholars On The Permissibility Of Not Wearing The Headscarf. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/junaid-jahangir/islam-wearing-hijab_b_14046520.html

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Why I Choose To Keep My Headscarf On

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Laiqa Bhatti, Surrey

The hijab is a piece of cloth that covers a Muslim woman’s hair and bosom. Yet somehow it seems to become the focal point of many debates particularly when discussing Islam. Many European countries seek to, or have legislated against, the hijab or some form of it. They justify this in the name of integration and freedom from the shackles of this supposedly backward and unnecessary practice.

Throughout my upbringing, modesty has always been an integral part of day to day life. The hijab, however was encouraged from around the age of 12, and I remember being excited at ‘growing up’ and the symbolic link of entering a world of new opportunities I had seen many other girls who were older, in my community do. In fact, I vaguely remember wanting to start at a much younger age but besides wearing it to the mosque, I was told to wait till I was older and able to commit to it fully by understanding it rather than just wearing it momentarily for the fun of it.

Once I entered secondary school, I wore a loose scarf around my neck and by year 9, so around the age of 13, I started wearing it loosely draped over my head. My hijab was worn with great pride yet up until the age of 16- 17 the connection between my faith and my hijab was superficial. I was wearing this piece of cloth over my head because my faith prescribed it for me. This is also the age where my inquisitive mind would bustle with the constant nagging thought of ‘Why?’ Why am I Muslim? Why does it make me so different to those around me? Why do I do the things I do? Why do I wear my hijab?

It was the rite of passage of being a teenager and finding yourself in this vast world of endless possibilities. These nagging questions, made me delve into my faith. I spent a year finding the answer to every why until I was satisfied that my faith, Islam, could provide a ‘because’ to every single one of my ‘why’ in a most satisfactory manner.

Now that I understood the multiple philosophical reasoning behind wearing my hijab, I put it into practice. Now, I would wear the hijab, not because my mother wore it or my friends at the mosque wore it but because I knew there had to be benefits for myself in it. So I observed myself and those around me and found that the hijab for me meant a life polar opposite to a life of one without it.

Rather than becoming ashamed and embarrassed of my modest dress and hijab, I grew to appreciate my true freedom when I was no longer bound to societal expectations especially in terms of how at times women can be objectified in our society. Instead of worrying how I looked, agonising every day over what to wear, pressurising my parents to buy the latest fashion, like many of my friends and peers were going through, I learnt to care less about how I appeared and more about how I behaved. It has given me a true sense of self appreciation, where how I behave, what I have to say matters, not how I look. I am no longer objectified but treated as an equal who has no obligation to dress in a certain manner simply to fit in. Every time I stepped out of the door with my hijab on, the world around me knew I was a Muslim and this is turn led me to always question my actions.

To those who would look at me confused, bemused, amused and now more recently somewhat angry, I’d politely smile back. Yes, I am wearing my hijab, yes it makes me different to those around me but I am liberated. Liberated of any material expectations and focused on my spiritual self. Every time I go out, taking part in any community work, or just extending an every day random kindness to a stranger, I am representing my faith in a positive light. My pride is visible through a simple piece of cloth that lets the world know I am a Muslim and I am proud of it

 

Tolerance in Islam: Building Bridges

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Mishal Aziz, Raynes Park, London

Today, 16th November, marks International Tolerance Day. Tolerance means the ability to endure subjection to something without a negative reaction. In today’s world where communities are so diverse and multi-cultural, we need tolerance more than ever in order to maintain peace in society.

Many non-Muslims object that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), God forbid, brought a religion which encouraged killing and harshness and there is no tolerance and freedom in Islam. This is totally wrong. In contrast, Islam teaches Muslims to maintain peace in society and treat everyone fairly whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

In one of the hadith (traditions) the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:

“O People, your Lord is One, you are the progeny of the same father (who was created from dust). Hence it is not permissible for you to make any discrimination between high and low. Neither an Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab. A white person is not superior to a black person one, nor a black is superior to a white. The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous”
Masnud Hadith no. 19774- Culture understanding and racial harmony (alislam.org)

Islam is seen as a religion which is spread by the sword as there were a few battles during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). But the Muslims suffered for thirteen long years patiently until defensive wars were allowed by God.

“Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors.”
(Chapter 2, verse 190)

This verse in the Holy Quran tells the Muslims to defend themselves. If this had not been the case all Muslims would have been killed or tortured to death.

Wars in the history of Islam affect many people’s point of view regarding Islam. Words of Allah the Almighty in the Qur’an regarding war are completely misunderstood. . What people do not realise is that there is a context behind it as well. Muslims were only allowed to carry out defensive wars; nowhere does it say in the Qur’an to start a war. Wherever war is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an it only tells Muslims to defend themselves which is realistic because each one of us wants a happy and healthy life. So, cherry-picking is not the way towards finding the real message and teaching of Islam.

Muslims are taught to be tolerant towards others and treat everyone equally. In another hadith, Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:

“You are brothers and sisters. You are all equal. No matter to which nation or tribe you belong and no matter what your status is, you are equal. Just as the fingers of both hands are alike, nobody can claim to have any distinctive right or greatness over another. The command which I give you today is not just for today but it is forever. Always remember to and keep acting upon it until you return to your true Master.” (alislam.org)

If Islam was an intolerant religion then why would Muslim people condemn extremist and terrorist attacks?

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is making an extra effort to build bridges with others. During one of his interviews, his Holiness Hazarat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (fifth Khalifa of the Promised Messiah) said:

“All people, regardless of faith or belief, should work together for the betterment of humanity. The Holy Quran teaches that there should be no compulsion in religion and so we Ahmadi Muslims respect all religions, all prophets and all people.” (khalifaofIslam.org)

Ahmadi ladies and girls plan monthly visits to other religious and cultural places and organise multi-cultural events. This allows us to get to know about other faiths and cultures and enable us to make connections with each other. So, together we can all take society forward and build bridges.

 

Reference: –

https://www.alislam.org/library/contemporary-issues/cultural-understanding-and-racial-harmony/

https://www.alislam.org/quran/view/?page=78&region=EN

https://www.khalifaofislam.com/press-releases/help-genuine-refugees-but-remain-vigilant-to-threat-of-extremism-head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community/

Tolerance in Islam: An Essence of Humanity

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Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park, London

In the modern world, the word Islam unfortunately, and most wrongly, carries the connotation of intolerance and violence. The truth could not be further from this unjust and ill-informed accusation. The word Islam is quite literally the Arabic word for peace and also for submission. From just this it is immediately apparent that there can be nothing else that Islam values more than a peaceful way of life, along with a life where one is faithful towards the Supreme Being, God.

The Holy Qur’an, the sacred text of the Muslims, reminds Muslims that there is ‘no compulsion in religion’ (2:257).[1] As such, there is absolutely no justification for any sort of oppression in Islam where one is being forced to live in a manner that goes against their will. Islam is a religion that believes, and upholds the concept of free will. Therefore, the essence of Islam is to teach its followers, and to inform followers of other creeds and beliefs, of the truth, the right, and the wrong. After this, the decision to take the right course of action is up to the individual. This is the crux of Islamic teaching. Intolerance has no place in Islam as it continues to breach the foundations upon which Islam stands.

Lamentably, there have been a number of extremist groups committing heinous crimes across the globe in the name of Islam. These acts are in direct contradiction to the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam. One of the greatest sources of teaching for Muslims is through the sunnah: the actions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) who taught religious tolerance to Muslims. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) was a kind, honourable and forgiving man. The ordeals which he and his followers faced by the Meccans were nothing less than degrading and humiliating torture, yet he never wished any harm upon them; rather, he wished for a divine change of their hearts.

In his Friday Sermon, delivered on March 10th, 2006, His Holiness the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) related the incident when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted the visiting Christians from Najran to offer their worship inside the mosque. At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as it is today, it was one of the responsibility of the Muslims to protect the churches and inns of the Christians as well as to safeguard their worship.[2] It was also prohibited in any circumstance, as it is today, to ever attack a place of worship of any religion during a war or in time of peace.

One cannot deny, that it is not only extremist groups which are using the guise of Islam to justify their inhumane crimes. It is also corrupt politicians and governments. The government of many ‘Islamic’ countries are indeed using the excuse of their interpretation of Sharia to oppress its people in order to gain power and control. Both extremist groups and corrupt governments have misappropriated the terms Islam, Sharia, and the like. In doing so they have created a barrier between the truly beautiful teachings of Islam and the rest of the world.

This barrier is causing a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes as well as generally rising political tensions across the globe. These cannot lead to anything prosperous nor fruitful. It is essential that Islam be seen as a religion which welcomes all with open arms, tolerates differences and allows diversity in God’s creations. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ reigns true in Islamic teachings of all forms, whether they be the words of the Holy Qur’an, the words of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or his actions, Muslims are universally taught that love, tolerance and kindness are the essence of humanity and they must be adhered to at all times.

 

[1] https://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showVerse.php?ch=2&vn=257

[2] https://www.alislam.org/archives/2006/summary/FSS20060310-EN.html

Be Not Divided: Interfaith Relations

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

In a recent example of interfaith dialogue, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community met with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury on 10th October 2017 where he spoke about the need for tolerance in society and for mutual respect to be displayed by all people and communities.

Just as these two great faith leaders met so the rest of the population is given a renewed opportunity to meet with and get to know people of other faiths during a dedicated Interfaith Week held every year.

Islam lays great emphasis on building bridges with other communities as Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad stated in an address in Canada on 22nd October 2016:

“It is absolutely true that we, Ahmadi Muslims, are peace-loving and seek to build bridges of love and hope between different religions and different communities.  However, this is not because we have deviated from Islam or ‘modernised’ it in any shape or form. Rather, it is because we follow Islam’s authentic teachings.”

It appears to be such a simple action which can lead to tolerance and peace throughout society and Interfaith Week is one positive step in that direction.

The different regions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association UK, also known as Lajna, have taken the opportunity this week to arrange visits to places of worship of other faiths and are each holding an Interfaith Seminar to connect with women in their area. This has resulted in visits by Ahmadi women to Hindu Mandirs, Sikh Gurdwaras and Jewish Synagogues across the country aimed at learning about other faiths and making friends. It comes as a pleasant surprise to discover women from the Hindu community not only in big cities but in the green and less populated areas of Surrey and Hampshire!

It is not only during Interfaith Week, however, that Lajna branches hold interfaith events; throughout the year members can be found arranging visits to places of worship and holding seminars with women of all faiths and, indeed, none. The theme of these events may be different, discussing various world problems and women’s issues but there is one factor which always emerges; the women from all the various faiths find they have so much common ground and the differences between people are not as great as they sometimes appear.

“As God has made you one brotherhood, so be not divided.”

These words were spoken in the year 632AD by the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) during his Farewell Sermon. As we find ourselves passing through times of difference and division leading to great turmoil in the world these words are ones we should always bear in mind in our dealings with others.

 

 

Come Share the Evening Tea

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Salima Alouache Bhunnoo, London

I send you my Salam, just so you can face your fears.

On the carpet of our mosques, come with us, discuss and exchange, witness a little humanity.

Come and see the love and faith,

We are called brothers and sisters our voices blend in prayer,

In moments of grace and light.

Aren’t these millennium-old acts of worship that we repeat in unison the height of most eloquent devotion?

Cross the threshold of our homes and share the evening tea.

Shatter the very foundation of myths and together we can write history.

 

Sacrifice and Loyalty

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

The concept of loyalty and obedience is one that is of the utmost importance to followers of Islam; Muslims follow the teachings of God but also show loyalty to their nation. While there are times when Muslims have been disloyal to their nation, as illustrated by terrorist attacks and occasions of poppy burning, these are in no way indicative of the teachings of Islam.

The Promised Messiah and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated:

“To entertain ill-will against a government under whom life is lived in freedom and there is complete security and religious obligations can be discharged to the full is a criminal step and not Jihad” (Tohfah Qaisariyya)

As the second half of October begins the red poppy makes its annual appearance sold to raise funds for the Royal British Legion. In town centres, supermarkets and sports stadiums across the country former soldiers and volunteers brave the chilly autumnal weather to sell poppies, wristbands and pins. With this symbol money is collected for ex-service personnel and the sacrifices made by those serving their country in The Great War and also subsequent wars is commemorated.

Serving one’s country is an act of loyalty and volunteering for the Poppy Appeal is similarly an act of loyalty to our country and each year members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community across the country are able to show love for their nation by volunteering to sell poppies.

In an address at the German Military Headquarters in Koblenz on 30th May 2012, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:

“The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself taught that the ‘love for one’s nation is a part of faith.’ Thus, sincere patriotism is a requirement in Islam. To truly love God and Islam requires a person to love his nation.”

And so we find teams from the Youth Association out in force at Underground stations and major sporting venues raising hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Elders and Women’s Associations are close behind and collect at various locations such as supermarkets and schools across the country. Hundreds of pounds are raised, as well as awareness, at special poppy tea events and with sales of cakes and knitted poppies; this year Aldershot girls have been busy making felt poppies and crocheted wristbands to sell in their schools. Last year Luton and Bedfordshire branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association alone raised over £13,000 showing that women can also be at the forefront.

Ahmadi men and women also represent their local branches by attending and laying wreathes at Remembrance Sunday services across the country. As well as raising money they have become a very visible example of Muslims loyal to their nation.

A visit with our children to the Poppy Factory in Richmond revealed the origins and history of the poppy symbol after the First World War and how it now encompasses different religions with Jewish stars and Muslim crescents produced along with poppy crosses and wreathes. The children were able to speak with volunteers, many of whom were ex service personnel, and ended the day making traditional poppies which left them with an enthusiasm for the cause.

Wars involve nations around the world and sadly take place with bleak regularity. The soldiers who fight in them do so on behalf of their nation and as Remembrance Sunday approaches every year it is these soldiers we think of. I remember my relatives, one who fought in Burma during World War II, another who is still always affectionately referred to by his rank of Colonel rather than Uncle.

As they made sacrifices for their nation so too, in their own small way, do Ahmadi Muslims by raising money and commemorating those who served their nation; with this small act of loyalty they know that they are being obedient to their faith.

Lower Your Gaze

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

One of the questions that most often get asked of Muslim women is why they wear the headscarf; those who disagree with it claim it is forced on women and unnecessary in the modern world. Another is why in Islam women can’t shake the hand of men in greeting; here accusations of disrespecting Western culture are laid. Similarly segregation is a topic that often arises with claims that Muslim women are shut away and Islam is a backward religion for enforcing it. Many a time just because women are not shown in photographs with men, reports of segregated events have been greeted with the demand “where are the women?” as if women are locked away at home not allowed to venture forth into the world.

The Holy Qur’an is filled with wise guidelines for men and women, designed to lead to a pure and happy society. It says to men in Chapter 24, verse 31:

“Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.”

Islam advocates the separation of men and women outside immediate family members unless necessary, for example for education, medical attention or in the workplace etc; in these cases men are required to lower their gaze and women to dress modestly and cover their heads. While following these requirements women are able to excel in their studies and jobs as well as leading full lives. If women themselves are asked about sitting separately from men they will tell you they feel a sense of comfort, safety and freedom in an area men are restricted from entering and so can relax and enjoy time with other women.

On the topic of segregation Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has said:

“If you do not wish to mingle freely with men or to sit alongside them it is your own choice, made of your own volition, in order to preserve your honour and dignity. If you do not choose to shake the hands of men, it is because your heart demands that you follow Islam’s teachings, which provide true dignity for women. Such conduct is not based on the demands of men but is the result of your freedom to make your own decisions and is a symbol of true independence.”
(Address at Lajna Ima’illah UK Ijtema, 24th September 2017)

Last year evidence emerged in the U.S. of allegations of assault and misogynistic behaviour in high political echelons including derogatory comments regarding women which were dismissed as “locker room banter”. In the past few weeks the media has been filled with new stories emerging regularly of assault and inappropriate behaviour by men. This torrent began with allegations concerning Hollywood figures and have quickly escalated to include many other men including politicians in the UK. What has become of respect and the dignity of women when men feel it acceptable to behave inappropriately towards women they mix with?

In the world today, as is currently being shown in recent news stories, it has become clear that women are often finding themselves in working or social situations ranging from uncomfortable to dangerous. Women need to feel safe which is not always the case. Does all this not illustrate that criticism of Islamic principles is wholly unfounded and that there is great wisdom behind the teachings of Islam?

 

Halloween: Trick more than Treat

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By Ayza Mahmood, age 14, Roehampton, London

It is the month of October and Halloween, the festival widely celebrated around the globe is a few days away. Halloween is based on ancient traditions that on the day the boundary between the living and the dead is removed and the dead come back to ‘haunt the living’. Halloween is a celebration of dressing up in frightening masks and costumes and going around knocking on doors and asking for sweets.

The concept behind giving sweets to children at the door is a way of protecting your household from the evil and the dead according to Halloween participants. In Islam this would be called ‘shirk’, which means association of anything with God. For example, the worship of idols would be classed as shirk because the idea behind it is that the idol is the worshipper’s god. So, to think that giving sweets on Halloween day is protecting one’s household from the dead is merely shirk because God is Omnipotent (All- Powerful) which means it is only He Who can protect a household or anything for that matter.

The Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that ‘avoid shirk, it is more subtle than footprints [on soft soil]. The Imam of the age, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that even a ‘hint of shirk is unacceptable to God’.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) gave us the background of Halloween and explained how wrong the practice was in his Friday sermon of 29 October 2010. Huzoor said Halloween is generally regarded as fun. Huzoor said it should always be remembered that any ‘fun’ that is based on shirk or any harmful way is to be avoided. Huzoor said it was a ‘wrong and displeasing practice’ which was ‘a hidden evil’.

It is undignified for a child to dress up in an absurd manner and go knocking from door to door begging for sweets. And allowing a child to roam the streets at night is prone to harm and danger and a major cause for concern. Is it not a basic moral principle to give instead of take? And allowing one’s child to throw eggs on houses simply because they were not given sweets makes one wonder as to why this practice is even allowed.

As an Ahmadi Muslim girl living in the 21st century I have become used to the common question asked of me as to why I do not take part in Halloween. I stay firm in my faith and say there is no need to go around begging for sweets. Halloween mocks the dead including all our ancestors. And anyway God has given us all beautiful faces and why should we spoil them by painting them to make us look like the dead. Life is a blessing that God has bestowed upon us all so why would we ever want to dress up to look like we are not living but rather dead?

Fortunately most people in today’s society are accepting and when I say to people that I do not take part in something they might take part in, the response is usually always reassuring. For example, my neighbour once knocked on my door on Halloween day. She asked my mum if I could go trick or treating with her. My mum gave her sweets and told her politely that we do not celebrate Halloween. She understood and never knocked on our door for Halloween again.

To finish I would like to say that we should try and make positive changes to our society but I find Halloween is a way of dehumanizing everyone. We should be taking steps to better our society instead of disguising as macabre creatures. Life is far too precious to be taken for granted and for us to dress up looking like the dead.

Grandparents

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 Zujaja Khan, London

In his book ‘Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues’, His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) expounds on a verse from the Holy Quran, in which Allah states:

Thy Lord has commanded, ‘Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but always address them with kind word. ‘And lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness.’ And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in my childhood.’ (17:24-25)

His Holiness explains that the teachings in this verse should not be strictly limited to treatment of our parents, drawing attention to the significance our grandparents as sources of wisdom.

Indeed, our lives are affected and influenced by an ever-expanding network of people in an age when communication is constantly evolving. But it is important not to neglect the ties we have closer to home. His Holiness wrote that nurturing the bonds between different generations would ensure the transmission of good Islamic moral values for many years to come. In my experience, this has come to fruition most powerfully in the last year, since the passing of my beloved grandfather.

Many long years have passed since the days when we would spend the weekend with my grandparents, when they would serve us warm honey toast in the morning, or when my grandfather would whip out his walking stick and take us to the library. 12 months after his passing, I still desperately miss his scratchy brown hat, his woollen sweaters with pockets full of sweets, and his soothing voice reciting the Holy Quran every time I visited.

Now I feel a lingering and deep-seated sadness when I step into his study and see the walls lined with his abundant book collection. I am sure that any person who has lost a beloved family member understands the depths of that grief, and its formative influence on the rest of one’s life.

But it is ultimately through Allah’s mercy and guidance that I have been able overcome the worst of this grief, and have been able to rekindle my closeness to my grandfather in the past year. After his passing, I learned more about the dignity and humility with which my grandfather prevailed over the obstacles he faced as an Imam, and in his personal life.

To me he was always just my grandfather– kind, witty and generous. But in the weeks and months that passed, I was brought closer to the person that everyone else knew him as. I heard countless stories that I had never known before: about his childhood, his Waqf, his services to our Ahmadiyya Muslim community, and even his poetry! Deprived of my grandfather in one way, Allah blessed me with the opportunity to connect with him in an unpredictable way.

I came to realise that his shining example of humility and devotion to the community would outlive any memory that I had of him. Equally, I came to see that his loss would not create a void between generations; in fact, it would strengthen our ties. Allah creates and nurtures love between His people, even in the absence of those loved ones.

For example, apart from the first few years of his life, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) grew up without his parents or grandparents however, this did not prevent him from showing the utmost respect for the parents of his wives, and indeed advocating vehemently for kindness towards our elders and parents. The Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) pious example is a testament to the vital importance of sustaining our family networks. Each of our elders has the potential to pass on their wisdom and religious knowledge, transmitting and reproducing good morals through every generation.

It is important that one does not allow the materialism of this world to impede one’s ability to nurture real relationships with one’s grandparents. Through the newly-made bonds I have found with family, through the testimonies given by all those who held him dear, through the heartfelt messages received from his friends across the world, I was introduced to a different side of my grandfather. I finally came to understand the true beauty of his heart, the conviction of his faith, and the lasting example he set for all those who knew him. Striving to emulate those characteristics is the least I can do for the man who nourished my faith, my curiosity and my love for honey toast.