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Some time back, I’d read a wonderful post on OM’s blog about her daughter’s love for Krishna. The little girl loves her idol of Krishna and even lines up her barbies as his devotees ūüėÄ . It was a very cute post and I confess I felt a bit teary towards the end. A child’s love is so pure!! Do check out that post.

Reading the blog, I was reminded of an innocent question a colleague asked me at lunch one day. We were talking about goodnight prayers and I was narrating the twin’s prayers to Allah to keep their Big-Dadi (The BF’s grandmother) trouble free in heaven. I also mentioned that whenever the kids get hurt or fall ill, I ask them to ask Allah for relief. They do this without question.¬†At this, the friend quipped, “Do your kids understand the concept of God?”

I was a trifle startled at this question but realized that the answer was Yes, indeed they did. They did believe in a God up there. I’m not really sure when exactly they started believing, but the truth is that they understand the concept of God, of a power much higher and greater than us, a power that is invisible, no form, no image, without representation.

I realized early in life that being a Muslim was purely about believing in Allah. That there was a power up there which wrote our destinies, who gave us a choice in everything we did and decided our fate based on the choices we make. As a kid, we didn’t realize the depth of believing in that power with our eyes closed, with no visual aids, no images, no pictures, no idols. How exactly could we believe in something that we knew nothing about? I personally believe that most muslims don’t become muslims by birth. We become muslims the day we realize that the power exists, that our prayers do get answered (and I’m not talking about the wishes for extra helpings of ice-cream or a lifetime supply of chocolates ūüôā )

We become muslims the day we understand that there is someone out there looking out for us. That one day, we have to go back and meet our maker and on that day we will have to answer for all the good or bad that we did in our lifetime. I’m sure my children aren’t there yet. The only thing I’ve instructed them to do is to believe in their hearts that even when it appears that no one is watching over them, there is someone up there who is doing so. For now, they do understand that Allah is watching over them, so they have to be good ūüôā .

The kid’s day-care lady is a Jain. She adores the twins and sometimes, she takes them along to her Society’s Mandir for a puja. I don’t mind it. The kids enjoy the visits and tell me in the evening that they went to see ‘Bhagwan’. Its only when ¬†I accidentally kick a book which is lying on the floor and a kid says, “Mummy, say sorry to the book. Issmein Bhagwan hai“, that I feel the need to correct them. I know that there are other religions that equate many things with God. Islam doesn’t. For us, the Lord above is too mighty and too sacred to be compared or even represented by anything on this mortal planet. This is just our belief and not meant to offend anyone else’s sensibilities. But yes, a book is a book, it helps one get education, so respecting it is fine. Keeping them in its place, is what I teach them to do. But I draw the line when they start referring to it as God.

Being a muslim is not easy. Specially when it comes to teaching the kids about Allah. We have no aids, only books written in a foreign language that the children will understand only much later. Till then, they are on their own. I can just let them know what I’m doing, I cannot make them do what I do. I can teach them prayers, but the only ones which are answered are the ones which are offered from the heart. They may not offer namaz, but whenever one gets hurt, the other quickly asks Allah to heal the hurt. Though this is not a formal prayer, it is true in its expression and I’m sure Allah understands ūüôā .

I send my daughter to school with a headscarf. She is free to remove it if she wants. This is just my way of introducing her to the beauty of this most misunderstood concept of Islam. As she grows older, she will make her own choices, but till then, I do my bit and introduce her to it. Alhamdulillah, she has taken quite a fancy to it, though she does remove it after school and goes to the day-care. One day, in office, as I was showing the snaps of my kids in their uniform to my colleagues, one was offended to see Lui with a headscarf.

“Why is she wearing a scarf?” she asked me.

“Because I like her to”, I replied.

“Doesn’t the school object?” she asked further.

“No. They don’t object”, I replied.

“But why not?” she asked vehemently, ¬†” They should ban it . It is against National Integration”.

At this point, I was too stumped and stupefied to reply.

Our country’s National Integration was at the mercy of my daughter’s headscarf! That was quite a burden she was carrying on her head, I say!!!

Over the years, I’ve met many people who have zero knowledge about Islam but consider themselves an authority on anything Islamic. Like, for instance, believing that the huge population of muslims in India exists only because the Mughals forcefully converted the Hindus. ¬†By that logic, the Christian population should be almost neck-to-neck with the muslims, right?

Anyhow, that is an argument for a different time. For now, as I see my kids grow older and learn new things, I need to show them that there is lot of beauty around them. That though some people may doubt their loyalties (Heck! My Dad served in the Indian Army and yet there were certain people who made snide remarks about his loyalty. Imagine! A man who gets war medals for his country, was looked upon with suspicion. What chances do my kids have? ), there will be others who will give their undying love and friendship. That there will be hurdles in their lives, surprisingly the kind which never appear for their friends, but for them alone, but still, the One above will sail them over it.

Faith is all about believing. I believe that though there is a lot of hatred in this world, my children will find their share of love and kindness, of friendships and happiness. Of loyalty and togetherness. Not just with each other but with most of the people they come across in their life.

I pray that my children will not be stigmatized as adults, if they chose to wear a headscarf or a cap. That no one will question their loyalty towards their country. That they will be accepted for who they are and how they chose to live. InshaAllah, those days will come.

Because Allah is watching over them ūüôā .

Note : The contents of this post are my opinions alone. I apologize if any sentiments are hurt and want to assure everyone that such was not my intention.

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The holy month of Ramadan is upon us. Once again, I have a chance to abstain from fickle distractions and concentrate on what is truly important. Sadly, I practise this restraint only once a year ūüė¶

Anyhow, I was fortunate enough to be¬†forwarded this Ramadan Checklist of duties to be¬†carried out EVERY DAY for the next 30 days. I have already made an excel sheet of these items and intend to update the dates on which I was able to follow up¬†on them. Hopefully, by the end of this month, I should be able to fill up at least 50% of the sheet ūüôā

So, here’s the list :-

  1. Had my Suhoor(saheri¬†–¬†the meal before the fast starts) ¬†as late as possible before Fajr (daybreak)
  2. Got up for Fajr on time and prayed Fajr with its Sunnah
  3. Made my morning Dhikr (thinking of Allah)
  4. Prayed all prayers on time and on earliest time possible
  5. Made the recommended Dhikr after every prayer
  6. Prayed all the 12 rakah of Sunnah prayers
  7. Made Qunut/Dua for the Ummah(populace) in a prayer
  8. Made Dua for my parents
  9. Commanded one good
  10. Forbade one evil
  11. Prayed more than 1 fard(obligatory) prayer in a mosque (males)
  12. Read the Tafsir of one verse of the Quran
  13. Read one new Hadeeth and its meaning
  14. Read 1 page of the Quran as a minimum
  15. Attempted to increase in knowledge (Reading/Listening)
  16. Attempted to practise one Sunnah of Rasulullah(Prophet Muhammed, saw)
  17. Made one person smile
  18. Made my parents smile, hugged and kissed them
  19. Did not argue, nor backbite with anyone
  20. Did not harbour ill feelings in my heart against anyone
  21. Did not do anything I was unsure about its permissibility
  22. Tried my best to take care of my body
  23. Gave charity (monetary)
  24. Preserved or removed a harm from the environment
  25. Made Dua for the Prophet (saws)
  26. Make Tawbah(ask for forgiveness) and Istighfaar 100 times
  27. Pondered 10 minutes about struggling for this Deen
  28. Did a special deed that is secret between myself and Allah
  29. Gave some of the extra food from Iftar to my neighbours
  30. Made my afternoon Dhikr
  31. Prayed my taraweeh prayers and witr prayer
  32. Read Surah Mulk before going to sleep
  33. Wrote down/updated my will
  34. Pondered about my Death and of the Day of Judgement
  35. Prayed absolute minimum 2 rakah Tahajjud prayer
  36. Asked Allah for Jannah and refuge from Jahannam
  37. Went to sleep in a state of Wudu (requisite state of cleanliness).
  38. Went to sleep without ill feelings towards anyone.
  39. Fed/Clothed one needy person or gave a gift to one.
  40. Took extra care to groom and maintain myself
The last point is a little misleading. It does not mean that I should spend at least an hour in the parlour ūüėÄ . It just means that we must be¬†that much more careful about hygiene in this month than in any other.
This is a long list and just looking at it, I wonder if I’ll be able to cover the aforementioned 50% of it. But just thinking about Ramadan¬†brings about a happiness that is difficult to describe. All I can say is that in my family, we look forward to this time of the year with all the eagerness of kids waiting their turn at the merry-go-round ūüėÄ . This is one time to think and reflect, to let go and draw closer, to give and to receive, to be hungry, yet fulfilled, to say sorry and mean it, to hurt as little and love much more, to hold the tongue and say kind words, to forgive and forget, in short, this is a chance to rewrite the slate, clean all the mess of the previous year –¬†all the anger, hurt, harsh words – just rub them off and start afresh.
 
On that note, all I can say is, from tomorrow, I’ll try to be a better person each day. For today, I ask for forgiveness for what I did or things that I said which caused grief.
 
Happy Ramadan people.
 
Let the FASTS begin ūüėÄ
 
 
 



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I could write a funny little couplet with the three characters , Obama, Osama and me, but I won’t. Because though funny thoughts do creep up my mind, what I’m posting today is far from it. I’ll be writing about Osama and how he changed my life. I’ll mention Obama, who must have have faced a percentage of what I did. I’ll talk about me and the ones close to me. I’ll talk of all the agony and pain we went through. The humiliation, the anger the confusion. I’ll talk of all the things that went wrong because of Osama and why his death does not bring any relief or respite.

But first, something about Obama. Its close to election time and since the Prez didn’t have much to count on for a second term, does the timing of this operation sound suspicious to you?? It does to me at least. So there was Osama, not hiding under a rock or a bunker, but living lavishly in a large bungalow with his family. So, wasn’t the US aware of his hide-out until now?? I, for one, am not impressed at the way the operation was carried out, even if Obama was hunkering over the screens, watching with baited breath as the Navy seals went about their task.

So the big Terrorist- chap was gunned down in his house. Great.

He was done in in the presence of his family. I wouldn’t really say ‘Great’, but I guess the family saw it coming one day or the other.

Since we are not typical television watchers AND we didn’t get any papers yesterday (because of labour day), it was pretty late in the evening when we saw the news and were stunned into silence.Initially, I was rather skeptical of the whole act. The US claimed they shot him and dumped his body in the sea. Really?? I don’t believe you, I said. I refused to accept the news until finally, sometime later that night,they showed his dead body. It did look like the same fellow,I admit, specially the mouth part. With a head riddled with bullets, it was difficult to be 100% sure. But the world was sure and slowly, I too accepted that this guy was no more. Till late in the night, the family was discussing the consequences and repercussions of this death.

Wonder why??

Because as a middle-class muslim family, we’ve had our share of abuse because of him.

Remember 9/11??

I was doing my post-graduation at that time, didn’t have a TV or a radio at home. When I reached college, I heard a lot of animated conversation around. Conversation, that would suddenly stop in its tracks when someone spotted me. Gradually, someone came up to me and asked me if I knew what had happened that day? I remember joking about some lecturer not turning up for class. Alas, the truth, when told, was more horrific. Because, though I was informed about the ghastly deed, it was with a lot of raised eye-brows and hidden questions. ‘Did you know about it? How do you feel now that your people have done such a horrific thing’?

Good friends stuck by me, not bringing up the issue in front of me, unless I did so myself. I could feel their reluctance to talk about in my presence. For the life of me, I could not understand why they thought talking bad about the taliban would hurt me!! I have NOTHING to do with them, I could have yelled and it would still have fallen on deaf ears.

My brother had a traditional day in his office that day. He wore a Pathani to work. The minute he entered the office, the first thing he heard was a colleague shouting across the workhall, “Kya ______, yeh kya kiya tune??” Brother was obviously confused, until colleagues came up and demanded explanations about why he blew up those towers. Can anyone imagine the humiliation, the consternation of being accused of such a heinous crime publicly?? Something which he had NO hand in whatsoever?

It was the same for years after. No PG accommodation/hostel was ready to take me in after learning of my surname. I walked from one place to another, saw that there was vacancy and yet, the owners would claim that the place was taken. It came to a point when the first thing I did after ringing the bell was to let the owners know that I was a muslim and if they were okay with keeping me as a paying guest. Should I be surprised that ALL of them bluntly told me that they don’t keep muslims. The only time I got a place was when a girl living in one house turned out to be an old friend from Dehra-Dun days. Even then, she didn’t tell the owner aunty that I was a muslim. It was only on the day that I entered the house that she found out the truth. She didn’t like it one bit, but it was too late to back out. Thankfully, the one year that I stayed with her, she encountered no issues with me and we got along rather well.

In all this, would it have mattered to anyone if I told them that my father was a war-decorated army officer? That he spent 35 years of his service for his country, a country that is as much mine as it is yours? That patriotism runs in our blood as much as it runs in yours!!

You know what irks me the most? That no other religion bears the brunt of activities of some of its outcasts!

So a bunch of Sikhs can blow up a Kanishka, but no one will point a finger at a Sardar and insinuate that he’s a terrorist or a persona non-grata. Christian terrorists can blow up sections of the North-east in India or hundreds in Cuba, but no one will ever dare to term Christianity as a terrorist-religion. Hindu fanatics will go around burning people alive, but Hindus will always be the ones terrorized . Its only when a muslim terrorist blows up a place and the entire populace is quick to term ALL muslims as violent. ALL muslims are terrorists. ALL muslims should be avoided, boycotted. Like the time the BF was in USA and was refused accommodation because of his religion. Yes, even he was directly told by the owners that they didn’t rent space to muslims. Whom did the BF finally put up with?? Other muslim students who were similarly shunned. The irony is that the BF was on H1 visa to US with his colleague and good friend, who was a hindu. His friend got a place easily, the BF didn’t. I think, if you are NOT a minority, this kind of humiliation would be difficult for you to fathom.

(Please note, I’m NOT pointing fingers at anyone here. I’m just puzzled at the way the wave caught up about equalizing muslims with terrorists. It has come to such an extent that it is actually fashionable to talk of the two in the same breath!!)


This is something we go through each day. Try hunting for a house in a good society…..sorry, No muslims. Try getting admissions to a good college…..sorry , no muslims. Try even schools ……and you have a fledgling of a chance of getting a seat. And even then, you’ll be made to feel gratitude, because, you see, the management doesn’t generally allow muslims, but they’ll make a concession for you . For a hefty amount, of course!

Now that Osama lies buried somewhere in the Arabian sea (probably eaten up by the fishes by now), a normal middle-class muslin can think of breathing easy, for a while. But somewhere, there will also be a niggling thought eating at us that this may just as well be the beginning of the end. Things may just get worse from here. We may rejoice his death, but there are many more like him around for comfort. And the stigma that lies buried in everyone’s mind will never go, Osama or no Osama.

But I guess this is just the pessimist in me speaking. I would LOVE to be proved wrong. I would love to see my kids holding their heads high when they walk into prestigious schools, places where they get admission on their merit and not religious inclination. I would LOVE to live in a society where the neighbors don’t call their kids back home just because they entered our house.¬† I would LOVE it if my kids came back from school and talk about their achievements rather than wonder why their teacher called them some bigoted names. I would LOVE to see my kids mingling with other children, understanding about their culture and religion and not wonder why no one’s bothered about their’s. I would LOVE to have the freedom to be treated as an equal citizen of this country, a place I was born and brought up in. A place I love just as much as you if not more. A place, I hope my kids get a chance of knowing and loving as much I do.


So tell me people, am I asking for too much??




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Ramzan Mubarak

Ramzan : Barkaton aur Rehmaton ka Mah-e-Mubarak

 

This is why we observe fasting in the holy month of Ramzan :-

“(It was) the month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur‚Äôaan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month‚Ķ”

~ [al-Baqarah 2:185]

————————

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.”

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:183]

————————-

“Allah is with those who restrain themselves.”

~ [Quran 16: 128]

—————————-

“He is the One GOD; the Creator, the Initiator, the Designer. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Glorifying Him is everything in the heavens and the earth. He is the Almighty, Most Wise.”

~ [Quran 59:24]

—————————

“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew”

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:184]

—————————–

“When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided.”

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:186]

—————————–

And the Rules :-

Walk humbly
Talk politely
Dress neatly
Treat kindly
Pray attentively
Donate generously

The last rule is the essence of Ramzan, where we stay hungry and feed the poor. This is also the time for zakaat, or religious tax, where we donate 2.5% of all assets (income, jewellery,property,etc) to the needy.

Its time to bring out our zakaat calculators and set aside the amount to be given away ūüôā .

——————————

 

Aap sab ko Ramzan Mubarak.

Dua mein yaad rakhna ūüôā

 



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How does it feel to be young and reckless?

To be madly , deeply in love and totally brash about it?

To be successful, rich and adored?

To be hated, spited , envied?

I seriously wonder what must be¬†going on in the minds of Sania¬†and Shoaib¬†right now. Are they worried? Does Sania¬†have any secret doubts about the alliance? Is Shoaib sure he’ll get himself out of the mess he’s landed in?

What about their parents? What do they think about his brouhaha??

And lastly, what about Ayesha, the queen of this game? Is she for real? Are Ayesha and Maha¬†the same? Why did she want a telephonic Nikah¬†(whatever that means!! As far as my knowledge of Islamic weddings goes, there should be¬†at least¬†2 witnesses from each side who¬†need¬†to sign the Nikahnama¬†along with the signature of the Kazi¬†who conducts the ceremony. Where are all the witnesses in this case? How can a telephonic-nikah¬†be considered valid when there were no witnesses around?). Why didn’t they have a proper nikah¬†when Shoaib¬†came down to Hyderabad after the supposed telephonic Nikah? Weren’t he and his team invited over to the Siddiquie’s residence? Where was Ayesha then? Why didn’t she come forward? Why didn’t the team get to meet her? Why were they introduced to her as Maha Apa?

Shoaib cannot take refuge in the statement that he was young and gullible when he married Ayesha. He should confess that he was plain stupid.

And Ayesha can be¬†excused for being a smitten fan who took things a little too far. Is that her only fault? I think not. I’ll go by Shoaib’s¬†version that he was shown¬†a different picture of the girl whom he knew as Ayesha. I’ve seen plenty of such cases happening in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The prospective girl is one and at the final¬†time, another one gets married in her place. The BF’s family had one such case. The gentleman, in this case, was gallant enough to accept his bride and live as if nothing undue had happened. But thats besides the point.

The point is , Ayesha wants a divorce. Shoaib refuses to give it, stating that he wasn’t married in the first place. He’s lucky, that Ayesha isn’t after his hide. All she wants is a divorce. He could have simply signed the divorce papers and everyone could have carried on with their lives.

But no.

They had to make a spectacle out it. Blow things out of proportion. Defame Islam further (without knowing the intricacies of its laws). Give two-bit Ulemas¬†an opportunity to quote Shariah, which in turn contradict each other. Some say the wedding is valid. Some say it isn’t. Some say he should divorce his first wife, some say it isn’t necessary. Make up your mind people!!

I remember a ruling which came a few years back that said , weddings through internet are allowed when there are webcams in place and both the parties can see each other. Definitely not the case in telephonic weddings !!

The upcoming wedding has caused quite¬†a furore, with people lambasting¬†Sania for all their worth. People, who forget, that she’s the only indian woman to enter the International arena of Women’s tennis. That out of a country of ¬†a billion , ONE single woman stood out, for whatever duration she did. Spare her the jibes, will you. She did the best she could. How about the rest of the people trying to match up to her levels before criticising her!!

As for Shoaib……not a very good choice, but then , love¬†is ¬†blind. We know that he’s blunt and prone to saying the wrong things at the wrong time. But now we also know, he’s immature, confused and not all there.

Whatever their reasons for hitching up, they are their own. And God help them.

And seriously, what do you think of the Shiv Sena denouncing Sania’s loyalty and patriotism? Claiming that “Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn’t have beaten for a Pakistani.”¬†(Do read the entire text to know how small these guys are…the level of their thought process is lower than the scum on a rotting pond).

What planet are these SS guys from??

Are they planning on taking this stance to the regional level as well?? Like, a true Maharashtrian will never marry a non-Maharashtrian? Or maybe, if they do, they have to leave Maharashtra and settle elsewhere?

Someone please give them a reality check. And also tell them, that if they consider that Sania will become a Pakistani after her marriage, by that same logic, they should consider Sonia Gandhi as an Indian post her marriage. Why target Sonia as an Italian?!!

Uff….I’ve gone off on another tangent there!!

This post definitely isn’t about the SS or Sonia Gandhi, or even the Sania-Shoaib alliance.

I just wanted to say that , love and marriage¬† are a person’s most private and personal decisions. No one, and I mean, NO ONE has a right or authority to place judgements on anyone in these issues.

If Shoaib¬†is guilty of a previous marriage, let the law take care of it. If he isn’t ,then all the best to him and Sania. Whatever the case, the entire media publicity over the issue is, at best humiliating.

At least for me, who finds people ridiculing my religion, because some people really don’t know anything about it.

Anyhow, rant over.

Will be back with another post later in the day ūüôā

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Eid Mubarak to Everyone :)

Eid ul adha is eid of sacrifice,
and commitment to Allahs orders,
May Allah bless us with the same in all circles of life,
and help all amongst us,
who are helpless,worried,
and waiting for their rehmat,
Ameen.

Eid Mubarak.

* For more details on the true concept of Eid-Ul-Adha, kindly visit this site.

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Offering Aqiqah

The twin’s aqiqah was long due. I wanted it to be done before the twins completed a year. It kept getting postponed for some reason or the other.

We finally performed the ritual on 24th of this month.

And I’m a relieved mom ūüôā . I have fulfilled one of my duties as a parent.

It also gave a chance for all relatives from BF’s side to meet the twins. There was an unfortunate event before the kids’ ¬†naming ceremony because of which only a handful of BF’s family could attend it. This time, we invited everyone all over again.

I might sound like a gushy mom, but I must say, the twins lived up to the event beautifully.

There was no fuss from the two. They didnt even cry!! Not even once!! In fact, they were super kicked to see so many people. At one point of time, I had no idea where the twins were. They were handed from one set of arms to the other. RS was busy giving out cheeky grins and getting a zillion kisses . SS was mostly solemn the whole time, trying to take in the cacophony around him. But he didnt wail or yell when people picked him and showered him with kisses.

We were all bone tired by late night. SS had his dinner on time and promptly went off to sleep. RS was so high on adrenaline, that even by 2AM, she was fresh as a daisy!! It took all my will power to stay awake to make sure she goes off to sleep first.

Overall, it was a great day.

I missed my parents. But I can understand their¬†absence. We gave them a very short notice and there wasn’t enough for them to make arrangements. Hoping to see them in Jan next year.

PS: If anyone is wondering, why I didnt wait for the twin’s b’day, they’ll have to wait for a few days. I¬†have my reasons and will be posting it shortly.

Till then, have fun, y’all.

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