Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bribery and Corruption


By Maulana Khalid Dhorat

 South Africa is the only country in the world where you can proudly eat half raw meat, and call it biltong. You can dry apricots, and call it Meebos. You can even experience pathetic service in all eleven official languages at the Post Office; and when in an accident, the tow-truck will arrive long before the police or the ambulance! Our illegal immigrants actually leave the country due to crime, and pedestrians normally run at the sight of rain, but not at a huge truck. This is the glorious Rainbow Nation which we have come to enjoy and which we call Home.
For minorities living in South Africa, we are the guests of our African brothers. There is no better place to be in the world than SA today. There is freedom to worship, to congregate, to trade, to do humanitarian work, and to even speak out against injustice. We are all enjoying the sweet fruits of freedom. All of us are being hosted in the Grand Palace of the land of SA, and our hosts, the government, is administrating this palace and seeing to it that everyone is comfortable and happy.

When the door to this Grand Palace opened in 1994, everyone was optimistic of a bright future. Admittedly, administrating a Palace is no mean task and a few problems can be expected. However, the people of this country have noticed that some of our honourable hosts are beginning to behave like they didn’t see food for the past 100 years, and they are just stuffing their mouths and eating up all the food in the kitchen, before it can even reaching the starving people at the table. Twenty years down the line, everything is still being blamed on Apartheid. We tell such officials: “Please behave yourself.”
Crime affects individuals, but corruption affects the whole country. At the moment, SA is bleeding from corruption. Every official, from top downwards, seems to be on the Biryani Train. Corruption has become so bad that it has become very difficult to even put the figures into words. How do you spell out R45 329 970 334-98? Today, most of the people in our Grand Castle are sick because of a scarcity of medicines in the hospital, their children are illiterate because teachers never show up for duty, and criminals are the happiest as the police actually fear them. The only people happy to be on duty are the traffic cops who gleefully look for bribes, officials at the Dept. of Home Affairs who are busy legalising the aliens in this country, and of course, our E-Toll gantries which will never fail to snap you even on the stormiest of nights!

As our top officials are always having meetings in their plush boardrooms or having parties in the cosy Royal Garden, so they may not be aware of how their Castle is crumbling. Soon, our children will inherit a Castle that has no walls or plumbing, and it may be too late to save ourselves from complete ruin. Out of 176 countries, SA is ranked as the 69th most corrupt in the world. Research shows that the foremost form of corruption in SA is “Tenderpreneurism” - enriching oneself by means of government contracts, procured through bribery, personal connections, or by way of appointing family members and friends on positions of trust that makes it difficult for them to refuse the awarding of lucrative contracts. A tender to repair a roof will be given out that would normally cost about R20 000-, however over R600 000- will be charged for it. Billions of rands have been lost in this way.

The Arms Deal, finalised in 1999, became known for the bribery involved to gain contracts that enriched many high-ranking ministers. The Schabir Shaik trial arose partly from this scandal. Then we had the Travelgate Scandal in which 40 members of parliament were found to have illegally used parliamentary travel-vouchers worth R18 million for personal use, followed by former National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, who was convicted in July 2010 for accepting R120 000- from alleged crime-syndicate boss, Glen Agliotti. And now we have Nkandla, where the President’s private house has been given a gorgeous R247 million facelift, when millions of people don’t even have a decent shack to live in!

The second most common form of corruption in SA is “BEE-Fronting.” This is a process whereby qualifying “African” persons are given a seat on the Board of Directors of a company who have absolutely no decision-making powers on the Board. Their purpose is only to qualify the company for Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) contracts from government, and enjoy certain corporate and tax benefits. Corporates and large businesses have profited in the millions from this, and continue to do so. Whilst the rich have become super-rich through this, the working class continue to pay their dues diligently and become poorer and poorer. 
How Does Corruption Affect our Country?
1. High prices to consumers: When businessmen are required to pay exorbitant duties, bribes, and taxes on their goods, they pass all the costs on the consumer - me and you. When the palms of officials are not “greased,” then their goods are delayed, which also leads to higher costs. Both ways, the consumers pay the price of bribery and corruption.

2.Reduced foreign investment: When investors notice bad governance, their confidence in the said country falls. This leads to reduced goods and services, which in turn, pushes up inflation and the cost of living. People or companies with the required level of skill and competency hesitate to do business with the said country, which leads to entire country remaining backward.
3.Reduced commitment from donor agencies: In times of crises or debt, international donor or monetary agencies fear helping the said country, as the funds will most probably land up in the pockets of officials, rather than the intended recipients. As corruption increases, the State fails to finances it’s deficit expenditure, and the little savings it has is now also absorbed by the deficit. Interest rates go up and the government has no capacity to respond to social and economic needs. As a result, the general standard of living of the people decreases and the country as a whole suffers unnecessarily.

4.Reduced tax revenues: Many people routinely practice tax-evasion due to poor service-delivery, whilst corrupt officials tend to award improper tax concessions to many. Many do not make a full disclosure of their income and their assets, whilst some may claim refunds on unclaimable expenditure such as grocery shopping and personal holidays. All this leads to less money in State coffers for health, education and social security.

5.Poor maintenance of public infrastructure: Because of corruption, maintenance and repairs to old roads, buildings and projects always take a back seat to new projects. For fear of being exposed, corrupt officials prefer awarding new contracts, rather than spending on old projects which they messed up. The more the corruption, the less the economic growth. Corruption thus steals the wealth of a nation and impoverishes it. It leads to oppression; unjust decisions are made and just ones are blocked. Undeserving people are given chances, whilst deserving ones are not.      
A corrupt society is a selfish society which no amount of wealth can satisfy, and a selfish society does not know the meaning of dutifulness, faithfulness, loyalty and accountability. Is not our society headed in the same direction? Don’t public servants complete the work of one day in two weeks, just to get paid better? Don’t our employees take unnecessary sick leave or look forward to their tea-break, rather than their work? Don’t our doctors first look at the Medical Aid limit before looking at their patients?

As we see the fish rotting from the head, everyone suddenly wants a share of the “forbidden pie.” Anyone with a little power wants to abuse their authority, even if it’s only for a can of coke. This disease has spread to every race and segment of society. Eating the next man’s wealth unlawfully has become the norm, whereas the Qur’an in verse 2:188 tells us not to “seek access to judges in order to wilfully usurp the wealth of others.” Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) cursed the one who offers a bribe, the one who accepts it, as well as the one who arranges it. Once, the noble Prophet sent ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaha to estimate the amount of tax owed by the Jews on their palm trees. They offered him some money as a gift, and he told them: “What you have offered as a bribe is not permissible for us, and we do not accept it.” (Muwatta Imam Malik) Thus, all public officials are bound to make a full disclosure of their assets and of any gifts received. If the State feels that such gifts may lead to favouritism, then it can ask for its return.            

In Islam, we believe that the roots of bribery and corruption are greed for wealth, lack of God-consciousness and forgetting that we will be held accountable before God on the Final Day consisting of 500 000 years. No amount of surveillance, audits, checks and balances can ensure honesty and transparency, only accountability to our Creator. Verse 21:47 of the Qur’an tells us that on the Last Day, the scales of justice will be laid out so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly. A person with an atom’s worth of goodness will see it, as well as a person with an atom’s worth of evil. 
Lastly, as elections draw close upon us, I urge everyone to vote for the party that is the most upright and sincere: those who will not give in to their passions and lusts, who cherish the ideals of justice and peace. Don’t choose the party that can be easily corrupted. As to which party this is, it’s up to you to decide.     

Monday, April 07, 2014

On Good Character

On Good Character

'...but instead tells himself that he does not mind any of these things...'

This includes suppressing one's anger, and being gentle and humble. Allah Most High has said: Surely, you are of tremendous nature, (The Holy Quran: 68/4)

and: Those who suppress their anger, and forgive other people – assuredly, Allah loves those who do good. (Quran: 3/134)

Bukhari and Muslim relate that Abdullah Ibn Amr (May Allah be pleased with you) said, "The Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) was never immoderate or obscene. He used to say, '
Among those who are most beloved to me are those who have the finest character.

They also narrate that Hazrat Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) said, "
Never was the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) given the choice between two things without choosing the easier of them, as long as it entailed no sin. If it did entail sin, he was of all people the most remote from it. Never did he seek revenge for something done against himself; but when the sanctity of Allah was challenged, he would take vengeance for His sake alone

The meaning of good character is the inclination of the soul towards gentle and praiseworthy acts. This may take place in one’s personal actions for Allah Most High, or in actions which involve other people.

In the former case, the slave of Allah has an open and welcoming heart for His commandments and prohibitions, and does what He has imposed on him happily and easily, and abstains from the things which He has forbidden him with full contentment, and without the least dissatisfaction.

He likes to perform optional good acts, and abstains from many permitted things for the sake of Allah Most High whenever he decides that to abstain in that way would be closer to perfect slavehood to Him. This he does with a contented heart, and without feeling any resentment or hardship.

When he deals with other people, he is tolerant when claiming what is his right, and does not ask for anything which is not; but he discharges all the duties which he has towards others.

When he falls ill or returns from a trip, and no-one visits him, or when he gives a greeting which is not returned, or when he is a guest but is not honored, or intercedes but is not responded to, or does a good turn for which he is not thanked, or joins a group of people who do not make room for him to sit, or speaks and is not listened to, or asks permission of a friend to enter, and is not granted it, or proposes to a woman, and is not allowed to marry her, or ask for more time to repay a debt, but is not given more time, or asks for it to be reduced, but is not permitted this, and all similar cases, he does not grow angry, or seek to punish people, or feel within himself that he has been snubbed, or ignored; neither does he try to retaliate with the same treatment when able to do so, but instead tells himself that he does not mind any of these things, and responds to each one of them with something which is better, and closer to goodness and piety, and is more praiseworthy and pleasing.
He remembers to carry out his duties to others just as he remembers their duties towards himself, so that when one of his Muslim brethren falls ill he visits him, if he is asked to intercede, he does so, if he is asked for a respite in repaying a debt he agrees, and if someone needs assistance he gives it, and if someone asks for favorable terms in a sale, he consents, all without looking to see how the other person had dealt with him in the past, and to find out how other people behave. Instead, he makes "what is better" the imam of his soul, and obeys it completely.

Good character may be something which a man is born with, or it may be acquired. However, it may only be acquired from someone who has it more firmly rooted in his nature than his own. It is well known that a man of sensible opinion can become even more sensible by keeping the company of intelligent and sensible people, and that a learned or a righteous man can learn even more by sitting with other people of learning or righteousness; therefore it cannot be denied that a man of beautiful character may acquire an even more beautiful character by being with people whose characters are superior to his own.

And Allah gives success!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fatimah bint Muhammad radi Allahu ta'ala Anha

Fatimah bint Muhammad radi Allahu ta'ala Anha      

Fatimah RA was the fifth child of Muhammad Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and Khadijah RA. She was born at a time when her noble father had begun to spend long periods in the solitude of mountains around Makkah, meditating and reflecting on the great mysteries of creation.

This was the time, before the Bithah, when her eldest sister Zaynab RA was married to her cousin, al-Aas ibn ar Rabiah. Then followed the marriage of her two other sisters, Ruqayyah RA and Umm Kulthum RA, to the sons of Abu Lahab, a paternal uncle of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam. Both Abu Lahab and his wife Umm Jamil turned out to be flaming enemies of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam from the very beginning of his public mission.

The little Fatimah thus saw her sisters leave home one after the other to live with their husbands. She was too young to understand the meaning of marriage and the reasons why her sisters had to leave home. She loved them dearly and was sad and lonely when they left. It is said that a certain silence and painful sadness came over her then.

Of course, even after the marriage of her sisters, she was not alone in the house of her parents. Barakah RA, the maid-servant of Aminah RA, the Prophet's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam mother, who had been with the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam since his birth, Zayd ibn Harithah RA, and Ali RA, the young son of Abu Talib were all part of Muhammad's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam household at this time. And of course there was her loving mother, the lady Khadijah RA.

In her mother and in Barakah RA, Fatimah RA found a great deal of solace and comfort in Ali RA, who was about two years older than she, she found a "brother" and a friend who somehow took the place of her own brother al-Qasim who had died in his infancy. Her other brother Abdullah, known as the Good and the Pure, who was born after her, also died in his infancy. However in none of the people in her father's household did Fatimah RA find the carefree joy and happiness which she enjoyed with her sisters. She was an unusually sensitive child for her age.

When she was five, she heard that her father had become Rasul of Allah, the Messenger of Allah. His first task was to convey the good news of Islam to his family and close relations. They were to worship Allah, Almighty alone. Her mother, who was a tower of strength and support, explained to Fatimah RA what her father had to do. From this time on, she became more closely attached to him and felt a deep and abiding love for him. Often she would be at his side walking through the narrow streets and alleys of Makkah, visiting the Kabah or attending secret gatherings off, the early Muslims who had accepted Islam and pledged allegiance to the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam. read more

One day, when she was not yet ten, she accompanied her father to the Masjid al-Haram. He stood in the place known as al-Hijr facing the Kabah and began to pray. Fatimah RA stood at his side. A group of Quraysh, by no means well-disposed to the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam, gathered about him. They included Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, the Prophet's uncle, Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and Shaybah and Utbah, sons of Rabi'ah. Menacingly, the group went up to the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and Abu Jahl, the ringleader, asked:

"Which of you can bring the entrails of a slaughtered animal and throw it on Muhammad?"

Uqbah ibn Abi Muayt, one of the vilest of the lot, volunteered and hurried off. He returned with the obnoxious filth and threw it on the shoulders of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, while he was still prostrating. Abdullah ibn Masud, a companion of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam, was present but he was powerless to do or say anything.

Imagine the feelings of Fatimah RA as she saw her father being treated in this fashion. What could she, a girl not ten years old, do? She went up to her father and removed the offensive matter and then stood firmly and angrily before the group of Quraysh thugs and lashed out against them. Not a single word did they say to her. The noble Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam raised his head on completion of the prostration and went on to complete the Salaah. He then said: "O Lord, may you punish the Quraysh!" and repeated this imprecation three times. Then he continued:

"May You punish Utbah, Uqbah, Abu Jahl and Shaybah." (These whom he named were all killed many years later at the Battle of Badr)

On another occasion, Fatimah RA was with the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam as he made; Tawaf around the Kabah. A Quraysh mob gathered around him. They seized him and tried to strangle him with his own clothes. Fatimah RA screamed and shouted for help. Abu Bakr RA rushed to the scene and managed to free the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam. While he was doing so, he pleaded: "Would you kill a man who says, 'My Lord is God?'" Far from giving up, the mob turned on Abu Bakr RA and began beating him until blood flowed from his head and face.

Such scenes of vicious opposition and harassment against her father and the early Muslims were witnessed by the young Fatimah RA. She did not meekly stand aside but joined in the struggle in defence of her father and his noble mission. She was still a young girl and instead of the cheerful romping, the gaiety and liveliness which children of her age are and should normally be accustomed to, Fatimah RA had to witness and participate in such ordeals.

Of course, she was not alone in this. The whole of the Prophet's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam family suffered from the violent and mindless Quraysh. Her sisters, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum also suffered. They were living at this time in the very nest of hatred and intrigue against the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam. Their husbands were Utbah and Utaybah, sons of Abu Lahab and Umm Jamil. Umm Jamil was known to be a hard and harsh woman who had a sharp and evil tongue. It was mainly because of her that Khadijah was not pleased with the marriages of her daughters to Umm Jamil's sons in the first place. It must have been painful for Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum to be living in the household of such inveterate enemies who not only joined but led the campaign against their father.

As a mark of disgrace to Muhammad Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and his family, Utbah and Utaybah were prevailed upon by their parents to divorce their wives. This was part of the process of ostracizing the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam totally. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam in fact welcomed his daughters back to his home with joy, happiness and relief.

Fatimah RA, no doubt, must have been happy to be with her sisters once again. They all wished that their eldest sister, Zaynab RA, would also be divorced by her husband. In fact, the Quraysh brought pressure on Abu-l Aas to do so but he refused. When the Quraysh leaders came up to him and promised him the richest and most beautiful woman as a wife should he divorce Zaynab RA, he replied:

"I love my wife deeply and passionately and I have a great and high esteem for her father even though I have not entered the religion of Islam."

Both Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum were happy to be back with their loving parents and to be rid of the unbearable mental torture to which they had been subjected in the house of Umm Jamil. Shortly afterwards, Ruqayyah married again, to the young and shy Uthman ibn Allan who was among the first to have accepted Islam. They both left for Abyssinia among the first muhajirin who sought refuge in that land and stayed there for several years. Fatimah RA was not to see Ruqayyah again until after their mother had died.

The persecution of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam, his family and his followers continued and even became worse after the migration of the first Muslims to Abyssinia. In about the seventh year of his mission, the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and his family were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in a rugged little valley enclosed by hills on all sides and defile, which could only be entered from Makkah by a narrow path.

To this arid valley, Muhammad Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and the clans of Banu Hashim and al-Muttalib were forced to retire with limited supplies of food. Fatimah RA was one of the youngest members of the clans - just about twelve years old - and had to undergo months of hardship and suffering. The wailing of hungry children and women in the valley could be heard from Makkah. The Quraysh allowed no food and contact with the Muslims whose hardship was only relieved somewhat during the season of pilgrimage. The boycott lasted for three years. When it was lifted, the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam had to face even more trials and difficulties. Khadijah RA, the faithful and loving, died shortly afterwards. With her death, the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and his family lost one of the greatest sources of comfort and strength which had sustained them through the difficult period. The year in which the noble Khadijah RA, and later Abu Talib, died is known as the Year of Sadness. Fatimah RA, now a young lady, was greatly distressed by her mother's death. She wept bitterly and for some time was so grief-striken that her health deteriorated. It was even feared she might die of grief.

Although her older sister, Umm Kulthum, stayed in the same household, Fatimah RA realized that she now had a greater responsibility with the passing away of her mother. She felt that she had to give even greater support to her father. With loving tenderness, she devoted herself to looking after his needs. So concerned was she for his welfare that she came to be called "Umm Abi-ha the mother of her father". She also provided him with solace and comfort during times of trial, difficulty and crisis.

Often the trials were too much for her. Once, about this time, an insolent mob heaped dust and earth upon his gracious head. As he entered his home, Fatimah RA wept profusely as she wiped the dust from her father's head.

"Do not cry, my daughter," he said, "for Allah shall protect your father." The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam had a special love for Fatimah RA. He once said: "Whoever pleased Fatimah RA has indeed pleased Allah and whoever has caused her to be angry has indeed angered Allah. Fatimah RA is a part of me. Whatever pleases her pleases me and whatever angers her angers me."

He also said: "The best women in all the world are four: the Mary (Mariam AS), Aasiyaa the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah, the Mother of the Believers, and Fatimah RA, the daughter of Muhammad Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam." Fatimah RA thus acquired a place of love and esteem in the Prophet's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam heart that was only occupied by his wife Khadijah RA.

Fatimah RA, may Allah be pleased with her, was given the title of "az-Zahraa" which means "the Resplendent One". That was because of her beaming face which seemed to radiate light. It is said that when she stood for Prayer, the Mihrab would reflect the light of her countenance. She was also called "al-Batul" because of her asceticism. Instead of spending her time in the company of women, much of her time would be spent in Salaah, in reading the Quran and in other acts of Ibadah.

Fatimah RA had a strong resemblance to her father, the Messenger of Allah. Aishah RA, the wife of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam, said of her: "I have not seen any one of Allah's creation resemble the Messenger of Allah more in speech, conversation and manner of sitting than Fatimah, may Allah be pleased with her. When the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam saw her approaching, he would welcome her, stand up and kiss her, take her by the hand and sit her down in the place where he was sitting." She would do the same when the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam came to her. She would stand up and welcome him with joy and kiss him.

Fatimah's RA fine manners and gentle speech were part of her lovely and endearing personality. She was especially kind to poor and indigent folk and would often give all the food she had to those in need even if she herself remained hungry. She had no craving for the ornaments of this world nor the luxury and comforts of life. She lived simply, although on occasion as we shall see circumstances seemed to be too much and too difficult for her.

She inherited from her father a persuasive eloquence that was rooted in wisdom. When she spoke, people would often be moved to tears. She had the ability and the sincerity to stir the emotions, move people to tears and fill their hearts with praise and gratitude to Allah for His grace and His inestimable bounties.

Fatimah RA migrated to Madinah a few weeks after the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam did. She went with Zayd ibn Harithah who was sent by the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam back to Makkah to bring the rest of his family. The party included Fatimah RA and Umm Kulthum RA, Sawda RA, the Prophet's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam wife, Zayd's wife Barakah and her son Usamah. Travelling with the group also were Abdullah the son of Abu Bakr RA who accompanied his mother and his sisters, Aishah RA and Asma RA.

In Madinah, Fatimah RA lived with her father in the simple dwelling he had built adjoining the Masjid. In the second year after the Hijrah, she received proposals of marriage through her father, two of which were turned down. Then Ali RA, the son of Abu Talib, plucked up courage and went to the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam to ask for her hand in marriage. In the presence of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam, however, Ali RA became over-awed and tongue-tied. He stared at the ground and could not say anything. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam then asked: "Why have you come? Do you need something?" Ali RA still could not speak and then the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam suggested: "Perhaps you have come to propose marriage to Fatimah RA."

"Yes," replied Ali RA. At this, according to one report, the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam said simply: "Marhaban wa ahlan - Welcome into the family," and this was taken by Ali RA and a group of Ansar who were waiting outside for him as indicating the Prophet's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam approval. Another report indicated that the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam approved and went on to ask Ali RA if he had anything to give as Mahr (dowry). Ali RA replied that he did not. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam reminded him that he had a shield which could be sold.

Ali RA sold the shield to Uthman RA for four hundred dirhams and as he was hurrying back to the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam to hand over the sum as Mahr, Uthman RA stopped him and said:

"I am returning your shield to you as a present from me on your marriage to Fatimah RA." Fatimah RA and Ali RA were thus married most probably at the beginning of the second year after the Hijrah. She was about nineteen years old at the time and Ali RA was about twenty one. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam himself performed the marriage ceremony. At the Walimah, the guests were served with dates, figs and hais (a mixture of dates and butter fat). A leading member of the Ansar donated a ram and others made offerings of grain. All of Madinah rejoiced.

On her marriage, the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam is said to have presented Fatimah RA and Ali RA with a wooden bed intertwined with palm leaves, a velvet coverlet, a leather cushion filled with palm fibre, a sheepskin, a pot, a waterskin and a quern for grinding grain.

Fatimah RA left the home of her beloved father for the first time to begin life with her husband. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam was clearly anxious on her account and sent Barakah with her should she be in need of any help. And no doubt Barakah was a source of comfort and solace to her. The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam prayed for them:

"O Lord, bless them both, bless their house and bless their offspring." In Ali's RA humble dwelling, there was only a sheepskin for a bed. In the morning after the wedding night, the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam went to Ali's RA house and knocked on the door.

Barakah came out and the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam said to her: "O Umm Ayman, call my brother for me."

"Your brother? That's the one who married your daughter?" asked Barakah somewhat incredulously as if to say: Why should the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam call Ali RA his "brother"? (He referred to Ali as his brother because just as pairs of Muslims were joined in brotherhood after the Hijrah, so the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam and Ali RA were linked as "brothers".)

The Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam repeated what he had said in a louder voice. Ali RA came and the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam made a Du'a, invoking the blessings of Allah on him. Then he asked for Fatimah RA. She came almost cringing with a mixture of awe and shyness and the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam said to her:

"I have married you to the dearest of my family to me." In this way, he sought to reassure her. She was not starting life with a complete stranger but with one who had grown up in the same household, who was among the first to become a Muslim at a tender age, who was known for his courage, bravery and virtue, and whom the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam described as his "brother in this world and the hereafter".

Fatimah's RA life with Ali RA was as simple and frugal as it was in her father's household. In fact, so far as material comforts were concerned, it was a life of hardship and deprivation. Throughout their life together, Ali remained poor because he did not set great store by material wealth. Fatimah RA was the only one of her sisters who was not married to a wealthy man.

In fact, it could be said that Fatimah's RA life with Ali RA was even more rigorous than life in her father's home. At least before marriage, there were always a number of ready helping hands in the Prophet's Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam household. But now she had to cope virtually on her own. To relieve their extreme poverty, Ali RA worked as a drawer and carrier of water and she as a grinder of corn. One day she said to Ali RA: "I have ground until my hands are blistered."

"I have drawn water until I have pains in my chest," said Ali RA and went on to suggest to Fatimah RA: "God has given your father some captives of war, so go and ask him to give you a servant."

Reluctantly, she went to the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam who said: "What has brought you here, my little daughter?" "I came to give you greetings of peace," she said, for in awe of him she could not bring herself to ask what she had intended.

"What did you do?" asked Ali RA when she returned alone.

"I was ashamed to ask him," she said. So the two of them went together but the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam felt they were less in need than others.

"I will not give to you," he said, "and let the Ahl as-Suffah (poor Muslims who stayed in the Masjid) be tormented with hunger. I have not enough for their keep..."

Ali RA and Fatimah RA returned home feeling somewhat dejected but that night, after they had gone to bed, they heard the voice of the Prophet Sallallahu Alyhi Wa Sallam asking permission to enter. Welcoming him, they both rose to their feet, but he told them:

"Stay where you are," and sat down beside them. "Shall I not tell you of something better than that which you asked of me?" he asked and when they said yes he said: "Words which Jibril taught me, that you should say "Subhaan Allah- Glory be to Allah" ten times after every Prayer, and ten times "AI hamdu lillah - Praise be to Allah," and ten times "Allahu Akbar - Allah is Great." And that when you go to bed you should say them thirty-three times each."

Ali RA used to say in later years: "I have never once failed to say them since the Messenger of Allah taught them to us."

There are many reports of the hard and difficult times which Fatimah had to face. Often there was no food in her house. Once the Prophet was hungry. He went to one after another of his wives' apartments but there was no food. He then went to Fatimah's house and she had no food either. When he eventually got some food, he sent two loaves and a piece of meat to Fatimah. At another time, he went to the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari and from the food he was given, he saved some for her. Fatimah also knew that the Prophet was without food for long periods and she in turn would take food to him when she could. Once she took a piece of barley bread and he, said to her: "This is the first food your father has eaten for three days."

Through these acts of kindness she showed how much she loved her father; and he loved her, really loved her in return.

Once he returned from a journey outside Madinah. He went to the mosque first of all and prayed two rakats as was his custom. Then, as he often did, he went to Fatimah's house before going to his wives. Fatimah welcomed him and kissed his face, his mouth and his eyes and cried. "Why do you cry?" the Prophet asked. "I see you, O Rasul Allah," she said, "Your color is pale and sallow and your clothes have become worn and shabby." "O Fatimah," the Prophet replied tenderly, "don't cry for Allah has sent your father with a mission which He would cause to affect every house on the face of the earth whether it be in towns, villages or tents (in the desert) bringing either glory or humiliation until this mission is fulfilled just as night (inevitably) comes." With such comments Fatimah was often taken from the harsh realities of daily life to get a glimpse of the vast and far-reaching vistas opened up by the mission entrusted to her noble father.

Fatimah eventually returned to live in a house close to that of the Prophet. The place was donated by an Ansari who knew that the Prophet would rejoice in having his daughter as his neighbor. Together they shared in the joys and the triumphs, the sorrows and the hardships of the crowded and momentous Madinah days and years.

In the middle of the second year after the Hijrah, her sister Ruqayyah fell ill with fever and measles. This was shortly before the great campaign of Badr. Uthman, her husband, stayed by her bedside and missed the campaign. Ruqayyah died just before her father returned. On his return to Madinah, one of the first acts of the Prophet was to visit her grave.

Fatimah went with him. This was the first bereavement they had suffered within their closest family since the death of Khadijah. Fatimah was greatly distressed by the loss of her sister. The tears poured from her eyes as she sat beside her father at the edge of the grave, and he comforted her and sought to dry her tears with the corner of his cloak.

The Prophet had previously spoken against lamentations for the dead, but this had lead to a misunderstanding, and when they returned from the cemetery the voice of Umar was heard raised in anger against the women who were weeping for the martyrs of Badr and for Ruqayyah.

"Umar, let them weep," he said and then added: "What comes from the heart and from the eye, that is from God and His mercy, but what comes from the hand and from the tongue, that is from Satan." By the hand he meant the beating of breasts and the smiting of cheeks, and by the tongue he meant the loud clamor in which women often joined as a mark of public sympathy.

Uthman later married the other daughter of the Prophet, Umm Kulthum, and on this account came to be known as Dhu-n Nurayn - Possessor of the Two Lights.

The bereavement which the family suffered by the death of Ruqayyah was followed by happiness when to the great joy of all the believers Fatimah gave birth to a boy in Ramadan of the third year after the Hijrah. The Prophet spoke the words of the Adhan into the ear of the new-born babe and called him al-Hasan which means the Beautiful One.

One year later, she gave birth to another son who was called al-Husayn, which means "little Hasan" or the little beautiful one. Fatimah would often bring her two sons to see their grandfather who was exceedingly fond of them. Later he would take them to the Mosque and they would climb onto his back when he prostrated. He did the same with his little granddaughter Umamah, the daughter of Zaynab.

In the eighth year after the Hijrah, Fatimah gave birth to a third child, a girl whom she named after her eldest sister Zaynab who had died shortly before her birth. This Zaynab was to grow up and become famous as the "Heroine of Karbala". Fatimah's fourth child was born in the year after the Hijrah. The child was also a girl and Fatimah named her Umm Kulthum after her sister who had died the year before after an illness.

It was only through Fatimah that the progeny of the Prophet was perpetuated. All the Prophet's male children had died in their infancy and the two children of Zaynab named Ali and Umamah died young. Ruqayyah's child Abdullah also died when he was not yet two years old. This is an added reason for the reverence which is accorded to Fatimah.

Although Fatimah was so often busy with pregnancies and giving birth and rearing children, she took as much part as she could in the affairs of the growing Muslim community of Madinah. Before her marriage, she acted as a sort of hostess to the poor and destitute Ahl as-Suffah. As soon as the Battle of Uhud was over, she went with other women to the battlefield and wept over the dead martyrs and took time to dress her father's wounds. At the Battle of the Ditch, she played a major supportive role together with other women in preparing food during the long and difficult siege. In her camp, she led the Muslim women in prayer and on that place there stands a mosque named Masjid Fatimah, one of seven mosques where the Muslims stood guard and performed their devotions.

Fatimah also accompanied the Prophet when he made Umrah in the sixth year after the Hijrah after the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. In the following year, she and her sister Umm Kulthum, were among the mighty throng of Muslims who took part with the Prophet in the liberation of Makkah. It is said that on this occasion, both Fatimah and Umm Kulthum visited the home of their mother Khadijah and recalled memories of their childhood and memories of jihad, of long struggles in the early years of the Prophet's mission.

In Ramadan of the tenth year just before he went on his Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet confided to Fatimah, as a secret not yet to be told to others:

"Jibril recited the Quran to me and I to him once every year, but this year he has recited it with me twice. I cannot but think that my time has come."

On his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet did become seriously ill. His final days were spent in the apartment of his wife Aishah. When Fatimah came to visit him, Aishah would leave father and daughter together.

One day he summoned Fatimah. When she came, he kissed her and whispered some words in her ear. She wept. Then again he whispered in her ear and she smiled. Aishah saw and asked:

"You cry and you laugh at the same time, Fatimah? What did the Messenger of God say to you?" Fatimah replied:

"He first told me that he would meet his Lord after a short while and so I cried. Then he said to me: 'Don't cry for you will be the first of my household to join me.' So I laughed."

Not long afterwards the noble Prophet passed away. Fatimah was grief-striken and she would often be seen weeping profusely. One of the companions noted that he did not see Fatimah, may God be pleased with her, laugh after the death of her father.

One morning, early in the month of Ramadan, just less than five month after her noble father had passed away, Fatimah woke up looking unusually happy and full of mirth. In the afternoon of that day, it is said that she called Salma bint Umays who was looking after her. She asked for some water and had a bath. She then put on new clothes and perfumed herself. She then asked Salma to put her bed in the courtyard of the house. With her face looking to the heavens above, she asked for her husband Ali.

He was taken aback when he saw her lying in the middle of the courtyard and asked her what was wrong. She smiled and said: "I have an appointment today with the Messenger of God."

Ali cried and she tried to console him. She told him to look after their sons al-Hasan and al-Husayn and advised that she should be buried without ceremony. She gazed upwards again, then closed her eyes and surrendered her soul to the Mighty Creator.

She, Fatimah the Resplendent One, was just twenty nine years old.

Monday, March 17, 2014

In Praise of the Home-Maker

In Praise of the Home-Maker - Alhamdulillah

'And I in turn will do the same to my kids'

It's an icy cold winter's morning sitting in the comforts of my home and enjoying a hot cuppa coffee. Suddenly feelings of inner contentment and serenity engulf me. It dawns on me -
far too many women feel unimportant, unrecognised and apologetic for being full-time housewives. I prefer the term 'homemaker'
- an infinitely better description of a tremendously important role. And so, as an occasion arises with its heavy demands on women, let us reflect upon the vital art of homemaking.

How special you feel in a home that is always open with a warm welcome. The kind of old-fashioned home with enough love to spare for outsiders, which beckons you to sit down and relax. In it you'll find a wise blend of order and flexibility.

A mother who doesn't fuss if her children and friends run in and out... who is never too busy to sit down for a chat with a friend, a confused teenager or lonely widow. Not that she isn't busy or creative. She probably is, but she recognizes one of the advantages of being Queen of the Home; of having flexitime, which allows her to set aside plans in order to help someone in need, or to rush into the garden to share a small wonder with a child.

Lifestyles and options are changing. Many women need, or prefer to work. But full-time home making is a career option, which allows you to make of it what you will. It requires many skills ranging from communication and management to cookery and economics.
She'll find time to listen to her family, to friends young and old, rendering invaluable emotional "first-aid."

A good homemaker knows the home is the heart of society - a place where family and friends can be nurtured. In swiftly changing times it can be provide a sense of security and continuity where children soak up happy experiences and memories that will affect their whole lives.

If you're a bride, anticipate your career as a homemaker with joy. If you're a mature woman who has spent years learning the art of home-making, never be apologetic about being 'only a housewife.'
Glow with pride at having chosen such a vital role.

I have come to value this 'way of life' through the will and grace of ALLAH TA'ALA by blessing me with a stay-at-home mother who showered me with guidance, compassion, generosity and love. And I in turn will do the same to my kids.

May ALLAH TA'ALA give us all women the faith of Aasiyah (
Radhiyallahu Anha), purity of Maryam (Radhiyallahu Anha), love of Khadija (Radhiyallahu Anha), affection and knowledge of Aa'ishah (Radhiyallahu Anha), and the favour of being with them in Jannah. Aameen.