Ilma Magazine | Jan/Feb 2016 | Issue 17

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Live, Learn & Inspire Jan / Feb 2016 / Issue 17

The Dawah Project Management Chairman: Mohamed Ali Harrath Project Manager: Azma Gaffar

Editorial Team Managing Editor: Anjuma Choudhury Content and Copy Editor: Aseel Saif Religious Content Editor: Raiyyan Clemenston Creative and Visual Director: Muhammad Abdulmateen Writers: Karimah Bint Dawoud, Anum Babar, Adama Munu, Liz Leonard, Elena Nikolova, Hafsa Waseela, Nasrine Abdirachid, Shahina Khatun and Yeota Imam-Rashid Researchers: Bushra Ferjani Contributors: Ayesha Ashiq, Bushra Ferjani, Asma Elbadawi and Neimo Askar Special thanks to our readers, supporters and Islam Channel. For more information about advertising, marketing and sponsorship, email us at Official website: Ilma Magazine is published bi-monthly by The Dawah Project. Subscription is free. All rights reserved by The Dawah Project. Reproduction in whole or in part without written consent/permission is strictly prohibited. The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dawah Project. Therefore, The Dawah Project carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon. Š 2016 Address: The Dawah Project Ltd Registered Office - 14 Bonhill Street London EC2A 4BX Contact Number: 0207 330 1744 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm) Company No - 06864168 Registered Charity Number: 1133424 the_dawah_project

CONTENTS The Muslim Marriage Part 1


Reflection: 12 Half of your Deen By Liz Leonard


34 18 18 26


How do I get married?

By Yeota Imam-Rashid

By Nasrine Abdirachid

If they are on Deen, they are on point By Adama Munu

And they lived happily ever after...


Salat-ul-Istikharah By Anum Babar

Women’s AM Corner: Breaking an age old misconception


By Shahina Khatun



A Traveller’s Guide:

York A walk through the shambles By Elena Nikolova




Introduction to Cancer: Part 1 By Hafsa Waseela

By Karimah Bint Dawoud


80 64

Food Bites: Foods of York

Recommended Reading

84 Islam Channel Programmes

Religious Programmes showing in February and March 2016

87 Get Involved Jobs and Volunteering Opportunities

Editorial In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Compassionate.

The Muslim Marriage (Part 1)

Assalamu Alaikum Dear Readers, In the year of 2016, our aim is to further spread Islamic knowledge through digital media. You may have seen our advert on Islam Channel. Ilma is now available online and has its own App (Ilma Magazine) which is FREE to download on all smart devices. Ilma has reached readers far and wide, such as UK, USA, Turkey and Hong Kong, and we hope and pray that the magazine will go from strength to strength, In Shaa Allah (if Allahs wills). Please continue to support us by donating to The Dawah Project via visiting www.thedawahproject. com. This year we will cover a range of new subjects and topics that should be of interest to you and are always current from an Islamic perspective which will, In Shaa Allah encourage you to share the knowledge with others. In Issues 17, 18 and 19 we will explore matters relating to marriage and raising children in Islam. In part one of ‘The Muslim Marriage’ journey, the writers will guide you through ‘why you should marry’, ‘when you should marry’ and ‘who you should marry’. In part two of the marriage journey, we will discuss how to conduct an Islamic wedding and what it


takes to sustain a marriage in this day and age, which can be challenging at times but mostly a blessing. We want to take this opportunity to welcome new and returning writers to the Ilma team. Adama Munu is a Producer and Journalist specialising in Current Affairs; Anum Babar is a graduate in International Relations & Politics and is currently studying Islamic Scholarship; Liz Leonard is a presenter on Islam Channel who usually presents on Women’s AM, and sister Karimah Bint Dawoud who is an Islamic Nutritionist and she writes in our Food Bite’s feature. There is one purpose that brings all our writers and editors together, that is the passion to convey Islam and the Muslim lifestyle which will inspire and make a positive impact on the lives of others whom have benefited from the ‘ilm’ (knowledge) in Ilma Magazine. Please send your comments and suggestions to We would love to hear from you! Jazakumullahu Khairan The Dawah Project Team

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


The Dawah Project Who are we?

We live in a world that is diverse, dynamic and globalised. Whilst technology develops, The Dawah Project embraces these innovations, spreading Dawah at an international scale. We utilise Television, Radio and Digital Media promoting a better understanding of Islam and the Muslim way of life. It is our mission to provide comprehensive education about Islam for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

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We live in a world that is diverse, dynamic and globalised. Whilst technology develops, it is vital that we spread Dawah through the media - the most powerful form of mass communication.

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In countries where access to technology is expensive or illiteracy rates are high, radio continues to play an important role in sharing information. Radio broadcasts can provide realtime information, broadcasted 24 hours a day to provide the most recent updates to listeners. Radio stations have the ability to reach across borders and become a source of information where reliable information is scarce. When access to the internet is blocked and phone lines are cut, people can still search the airwaves for trustworthy sources. Even electricity is not a necessity for battery-operated and hand-cranked radios.

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The Radio Campaign was launched in 2011 and we are currently working in Africa where 60 percent of the population is Muslim and over 80 percent of Africans are tuning in every day listening to their local radio station, making it a crucial source of information. Currently, The Dawah Project is working to set up analogue radio stations in Tunisia, Nigeria, Gambia, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. We want to educate the diverse African community about Islam.

The International Dawah Centre The International Dawah Centre campaign was introduced in April 2012. Our aim is to provide a centre for everyone to have a better understanding of Islam resulting in a more knowledgeable and harmonious international community.

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Ilma Magazine We are witnessing a digital revolution! An increasing number of people have their own computer, laptop, iPad and smart phones. The digital industry is always developing. We took advantage of this phenomenon by producing an e-magazine called Ilma, which is released on a bi-monthly basis and is available on Issuu - is one of the fastest growing digital publishing platforms in the world. You can also download the Ilma App for free on the App Store and Google Play. Ilma Magazine provides reflective writings on various aspects of life attracting a diverse range of readers all over the world. 09

Update: The International Dawah Centre Campaign Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu

Dear Patrons, In April 2012, The Dawah Project launched The International Dawah Centre Campaign. The purpose behind launching an International Dawah Centre is to fulfil our obligatory duty of inviting people to have a better understanding of Islam, resulting to a more knowledgeable, tolerant and peaceful international community. By the will of Allah, The Most High, and the generosity of our Muslim brothers and sisters, till present we have raised £116,000 towards this ambitious project. We want to assure all our donors that the money raised so far, has been put aside into a savings account. At the time, our aim was to purchase the Kassaba building in North London. The reason why we could not go through with this building was due to legal conditions attached to Kassaba; a 2999 years lease, which meant that the landlord could impose certain covenants on us. Since then, we have found an alternative building, Alhamdulillah, that we are pursuing. This particular building is located in the UK for which we have already paid a refundable deposit and now we are waiting for legal obstacles to be cleared, In shaa Allah. Inclusive to this campaign, we are in the process of acquiring land in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda (Central Africa) to have an International Dawah Centre, In Shaa Allah. We have also been offered a prime location in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria (West Africa) and we are in talks with Gambia’s government (West Africa) to acquire land, all of which will be part of this great Dawah mission. Your patience, understanding and generous contributions are sincerely appreciated and we hope to still have you on board supporting this great mission, In shaa Allah. May Allah, The Most High, reward you immensely for donating towards this cause and may it be an on-going source of Sadaqah Jaariyah for you and your family In shaa Allah. We will update you on these campaigns accordingly. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.

Jazakumullahu Khairan

Mohamed Ali Chairman “And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” [Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:272]

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happenâ€?. [El i sabeth K Ăźbl er- Ros s , Swis s - bor n ps y c hia tr is t]


Liz Leonard accepted Islam ten years ago, following several years of research into the religion. Currently, she is a presenter on Women’s AM, Islam Channel and a teacher at Tarbiyyah Madrasah in Kent. Follow Liz on Twitter: @liz_ld


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“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah: The Cow, 2:187]


never wanted to get married. I could not see the point of marriage.

Apart from the marriage tax break, I considered it as an archaic institution with little to offer me and my ‘modern’ life style. Thou shalt not utter the words, “I need companionship” or “I want to be a stay at home mum”. This is supposedly the mantra of the modern woman and my friends would have eaten me alive if I did not subscribe to such an ideology. I would have been branded a traitor.

dah’ (declaration of faith and the first pillar of Islam), you will very soon and then very frequently hear the infamous words: “Are you married ukhti (my sister)?” Why is everyone trying to marry off new Muslims so quickly? What is the deal with marriage in Islam? So I looked into it. Before long, I had read the words that I have since read and heard many times that “marriage is half of your Deen” or religion.

Yet, today I find myself married, with a family and embracing my roles as a housewife and mother. Why did that change? Quite simply, it was Islam that changed me.

Whilst I did not quite understand the full gravity of this statement, it did explain the enthusiasm of the Muslim community to find spouses for any unsuspecting singletons as soon as possible.

Most sisters will testify to the experience of being a new Muslim, even if it is only been a few hours since you uttered your ‘Shaha-

So one of my early lessons learnt as a Muslim is that “marriage is a big deal!” Why? I needed to investigate further.

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Even as a new Muslim I knew my first port of call would be the Qur’an. What are the most important things I need to know about marriage? What are the beliefs that Allah, The Most High, chose to reveal directly to me through the Qur’an? “It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her”. [Qur’an, Surah AI-A`raf: The Heights, 7:189] Dwell in security?


Allah, The Creator, intended for me. Marriage is a recommended ‘Sunnah’ (teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) but more than that, it is a ‘Rahma’ (mercy) and blessing from our Creator. Reading the translation of the Qur’an gives me a feeling of comfort. It is like having a conversation with an old best friend, the kind of friend who really understands you without you explaining too much. The questions in my mind are answered, the longing and aching in my heart is eased.

This is far from the rhetoric around marriage that I remembered from my pre-Islamic days. Allah, The Most Compassionate, talks about the relationship between a husband and wife being one of ‘Muwadda’ (love), intimacy, security, and respect, also helping each other to be the absolute best we can be. I was used to hearing how marriage “ties you down” and your spouse described as “a ball and chain!” No wonder marriage had ever been high on my agenda!

The purpose of life is clearly stated in the Qur’an; to worship Allah, The Creator and to achieve ‘Jannah’ (Paradise) in the ‘Akhirah’ (Hereafter). Amazingly Allah, The Most Merciful, tells us how to attain His pleasure and enter His Jannah. Marriage is among the recommended actions and if Allah wills He will pave our way to Jannah because marriage is half of our Deen.

But I am a Muslim now and want to live the way

“They are clothing for you and you are cloth-

Without a doubt this is my favorite quote about marriage:

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ing for them”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah: The Cow, 2:187] The beauty and poetry of Allah’s Word alone is comforting. It is a joy to recite and understand the meaning of each word. It feels right and familiar. But as with every letter in the Qur’an, there is deep meaning and wisdom behind these words. This simple sentence speaks volumes about the relationship between a husband and wife. What does Allah want me to know about the spousal relationship by comparing it to clothing? Clothing is worn next to our skin. This signifies the physical and emotional closeness between husband and wife. Clothing can be an item of protection, as well as a form of beautification. Metaphors that symbolize both the roles of husband and wife and the comfort they give to each other. Clothes cover and protect you. Similarly, within a marriage you would expect to be honored, sheltered and dignified by your partner. Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah). How could this be something I actively strove against? All of the marriages of the Prophet Muhammad

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(pbuh) teach us something about how a Muslim marriage should be in accordance to Islam and how the roles of husband and wife should manifest themselves. We see this in the marriage of A’ishah bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) and our Beloved Prophet (pbuh) mentoring his young wife to make her the scholar and teacher that we remember her as today. Sawda bint Zam’a (may Allah be pleased with her) is described as making her husband, our Prophet (pbuh), laugh so much that his back molars were visible. The Prophet’s (pbuh) first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her) was his confidant, supporter and advisor, whom he would always reminisce of and become emotional about it. There is an old English saying; ‘No man is an island’. Meaning, we all need support and companionship to succeed in life. Islamically this is true too. Allah created mankind and He created us in pairs. Marriage is a blessing, but it is also a test. The prize for succeeding this test is nothing less than Paradise. Our spouse can be our key to one of the doors of Jannah. That is what is meant when we are told ‘marriage is half of your deen’.


Broadcasting from the heart of London, Islam Channel provides alternative news, current affairs and entertainment programming from an Islamic perspective.


Nasrine Abdirachid explores the different avenues taken in search for a spouse, whilst adhering to the tenets of Islam.


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etting married is a beautiful ‘Sunnah’ (teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) that we are highly recommended to fulfil. It is a natural desire to want to spend your life, with someone special and together be on a journey experiencing contentment and overcoming difficulties. Allah, The Most High, tells us in the Holy Qur’an: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought”. [Quran, Surah Ar-Rum: The Romans, 30:21] Companionship is necessary not only when it comes to the day-to-day of life, but also for one’s ‘Imaan’ (faith). The importance of marriage is so profound and will undoubtedly have a huge impact on one’s standard of living. For this reason, choosing the right spouse is crucial in the harmony of your future lives together. Prior to beginning your search for a spouse, it is often recommended that we reaffirm our own reasons for wanting to getting married.

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Why? The simplest answer to this question is that marriage should first and foremost be ‘Fisabilillah’ (in the path of Allah). It should be to fulfil the verse in the Qur’an where Allah, The Most High, tells us: “And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing”. [Qur’an, Surah An-Nur: The Light 23:32] When searching for the ideal spouse, we often list the things we require, without giving any thought to what we have to offer. Perfect your own character whilst you simultaneously search for your spouse. Some things you can do to prepare yourself spiritually are as follows: 1. Ensure you pray obligatory prayers punctually and with ‘Ihsaan’ (excellence). 2. Voluntary give to charity frequently and secretly. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “There are seven whom Allah will shade with His shade on the Day when there is no shade but His… a man who gives charity and conceals it so that his left hand does not know what his right hand is giving”. [Sahih AlBukhari, 1334] 3. Observe ‘Tahajjud’ (night prayer between midnight and sunrise). The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest Heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: “Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 1145] 4. Make a lot of ‘Du’a’ (supplication) to Allah, The Most High, for Him to guide you towards someone who is ideal for you, in this life and the next. 5. Perform ‘Istikharah’ (Prayer of Guidance) at the crucial times of decision making. The above-mentioned are actions that we are obligated and recommended to do regularly and not just when seeking a spouse, but are all a part of bettering oneself before delving into this major milestone. 20

How? When most of us finally get to a point when we feel ready for marriage, the “how” is the biggest question. How does one go about meeting a spouse, whilst adhering to tenets of Islam? The story of the search and proposal of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her) is one of reference due to the pure ‘Haya’ (modesty and shyness) observed by all parties involved. Khadijah and Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh) were initially acquainted through business, with the Prophet (pbuh) conducting some trade on behalf of Khadijah. She was a woman of high esteem, wealthy and much sought after by the noblemen of her time. When the Prophet (pbuh) started working for her, he was twenty-five-years-old and was assisted on trips by one of Khadijah’s servants, Maysarah who regaled many stories of wonder about the Prophet (pbuh). Maysarah spoke of his (pbuh)’s Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

sons learnt from this union regarding ways in which one can conduct themselves in search for a spouse. • Firstly, Khadijah did her research on Muhammad (pbuh)’s character prior to any commencement of marital procedure, she asked those she respected and trusted to account for his (pbuh)’s morals and principles. • Secondly, Khadijah did not have a specific ‘age’ in mind that would be a deciding factor. • Thirdly, wealth was not a prerequisite for marriage for Khadijah and her search for a spouse, whilst honesty and character were high on her list. • Fourthly, Khadijah did not approach him (pbuh) herself, this shows Haya and in the event that Muhammad (pbuh) was not interested it would save her any embarrassment.

truthfulness, respectability and honour. Upon hearing of his excellent character and principles, Khadijah sent her closest friend, Nafisah bint Maniyah, to Muhammad (pbuh) to enquire about marriage. Nafisah started the conversation by asking Muhammad (pbuh) why he had not married, to which he (pbuh) replied that the reasons were financial. When Nafisah suggested that Khadijah could be a match and money would not be an issue, Muhammad (pbuh) was surprised that a woman of her stature would be interested in him. The Prophet (pbuh) subsequently told his uncles, Abu Talib and Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib (may Allah be pleased with him) about the potential match and the proposal was made by him. The marriage was eventually arranged by the uncles, including Amr bin Asad who was Khadijah’s uncle. This story which took place before prophethood, signifies the respect for morality and good etiquettes the Prophet (pbuh) and Khadijah had in the time of ignorance, and that they were already mentally, ethically and spiritually prepared to embrace Islam. There are many les-

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• Fifthly, Khadijah entrusted her close friend with the task of expressing the interest. Someone who would not divulge the details to others. • And finally, upon learning of Khadijah’s interest, Muhammad (pbuh) did not approach her either, but rather involved his uncles, seeking wisdom and knowledge, and then proposed in a manner that highlighted the importance of the situation. By involving family, we encourage unity, not just of two people, but two families, whilst protecting both parties involved. In Islam, the involvement of family and/or a ‘Wali (a guardian) is a requirement in the completion of the proceedings. In the example of the marriage between the Prophet (pbuh) and Khadijah, their family on both sides were duly involved in the organisation and arrangement of the marriage. Islam encourages us not to have any extra-marital affairs prior to the marriage ceremony. Whether the guardians introduce the young man or woman to a suitable partner or when two people approach their guardians to seek permission to know the person better in a ‘Halal’ (permissible) environment; all marriages in Islam are essentially arranged. 21

However, marriage by force invalidates it and more importantly it is a sin committed against Allah, The Most High. The practice of forced marriages does not come from Islam as the ‘Deen’ (religion) came to eradicate this abhorrent custom. Both parties have a say in the matter and have the right to state their views if at any point they feel like the potential union is not a fitting one for them.

be sure to remember that whilst the Prophet (pbuh) mentioned that marriage can occur for any of the above-mentioned, do not compromise on one that is of importance to you, over another. Whilst Allah knows best, be sure you make a decision that you will be happy with in the long run. However, it is highly recommended to marry someone who has good character and sincerely practices their Deen.


Praying Istikharah is important for you to feel at ease when making life-changing decisions. By consulting with Allah, The Most High, who knows of the ‘Al-Ghaib’ (The Unseen) and you do not, you constantly remind yourself that He is control and knows what is best for you.

Meeting or coming to know of a person who fits your criteria of the ideal spouse can occur anywhere and at anytime; through family, through friends, through work or in more recent years, through the avenue of match making sites catering for single Muslim. Whilst these sites can be very beneficial, it is highly important not to fall into ‘Fitnah’ (temptation). Adhering to the lessons above and observing modesty, even through the screen of a computer, is a necessity in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be unsuccessful”. [Sahih AlBukhari, 6227] When searching for your ideal husband or wife, 22

Marriage is the coming together of man and woman whose values, principles and morals are similar enough to live in harmony through understanding, mutual respect and compromise. It is wise to remember that adaptability is important, as you will not agree on every matter with your potential spouse. Remembering that the person you will eventually marry has not had your exact upbringing and identical experiences, will make the search for an ideal spouse easier. May Allah, The Most High, grant ideal spouses for all those seeking and fill all marriages with tranquillity, love, mutual respect and understanding. Ameen. Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

S uppl i cati o n ( du’a ) fr om the Qur ’a n:

“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers”. [Q ur’ an, S urah A l -A r a f: Cha pte r of The He ights , 7:23]

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Adama Munu is a both a journalist and TV producer at the Islam Channel. But when she is not working on screen, she is musing over African History with a caramel latte at hand...You can catch up with her on Twitter @adamajmunu


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ooking for a partner these days is the crème de la crème of conversations within many Muslim communities and especially amongst young people. With both online and events devoted to the “half of your deen” paradigm, we are spoilt with information that can help us to decipher the code of what it is that makes if not, the perfect partner. The essence of its importance can be seen in the first marriage between the first human beings put on earth, Prophet Adam and his wife Hawa or Eve (peace be upon them). Allah, The Most High, described this marriage as a most prominent feature of Prophet Adam’s (pbuh) biography and that of the origin of all humankind: “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its zawja (mate) and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer”. [Qur’an, Surah An-Nisa: The Women, 4:1] There are two things that we can learn from this verse. Firstly, it is no mistake that sanctity and respect given by Allah to marriage is found in the first verse of a chapter that stipulates the relations between both genders, in that ‘Zawja’ is an Arabic term translated as his ‘wife’. Secondly, marriage is a connection between our forebears and our existence in this world; the term “... dispersed from both of them many men and women” insinuates the continuation of this time honoured tradition. If this is the case, then what should we seek in our partners? It is always important to consider simple and beautiful advice from the man who embodied the very qualities that we should seek in a suitable marriage partner, both men and women respectively.

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In the Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah) as reported in Sahih Muslim, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her wealth, her status, her beauty and her religion, so try to get one who is religious, may your hand be smeared with dust”. This list is of course not exhaustive but can be considered as some of the main reasons as to why a woman or even a man may be married. We shall delve briefly into what these characteristics may entail. Before doing so, it is worth addressing a question that most may raise after reading the aforementioned narration. Are wealth, beauty and lineage not important considerations? Wealth, beauty and lineage should not be taken out of the equation and that is not what the above narration is purporting. However, these are characteristics that come with shortcomings; wealth can be gained and lost; physical beauty can evaporate with age or illness. People can marry the daughters or sons of rich men and this may be an outward reason as it does not really relate to the potential spouse and does not guarantee success. Commitment to religious devotion and good character are regarded by the Prophet Muham-


mad (pbuh) to be the highest qualities found in a suitable partner who will help support us in gaining the pleasure of Allah, The Most High. Often, the terms “religious” and “practicing” are words that come to mind. At times, these terms may seem arbitrary. How exactly do you measure the true ‘religiosity’ of any one individual? Do we go for a person who prays five times a day but is known to be of poor character? Will a bearded brother with questionable affiliations be a serious consideration? These are points often raised by sisters whom I have personally spoken to. And these are of course valid points. Whilst not always, appearances can be deceiving, which the above hadith makes out. One important consideration that one should look out for in a potential spouse is their attitude towards the duties and obligations set out by Islam. Sound foundations build a sound individual; and it therefore warrants that sound foundations in two individuals can, with the help of Allah, bring about a sound relationship; one based upon the minimal guidance from the Almighty. Such are the basic acts of worship; that they are alone considered to be a path to eternal Paradise, as indicated in the following narration: As reported in Sahih Muslim, on the authority of

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Abu Abdullah Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him): A man questioned the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and asked, “Do you think that if I perform the obligatory prayers, fast in Ramadhan, treat as lawful that which is Halal, and treat as forbidden that which is Haraam, and do not increase upon that (in voluntary good deeds), then I shall enter Paradise?” He (pbuh) replied,“Yes”. One crucial factor, in which all Muslims would agree upon, is the love for the ‘Sunnah’ or teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The desire to emulate the character, sensibility and teachings during the Prophets’ time is one of the most important signs of one’s love for Allah Almighty. Surely we would all love to be of those who love Allah and seek in others the love of Allah through His Messenger (pbuh): Allah says: “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and (who) remembers Allah often”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Ahzab: The Combined Forces, 33:21] A man or woman who seeks the love of His Beloved through His Messenger (pbuh) is a person upon the right ‘Hidayah’ (guidance). Those

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seeking for wholesome partners should also endeavour for the sake of Allah to ensure that they try as much to emulate the Prophet (pbuh) in his dealings and manners as much as they are able to. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the perfect example in his character and mannerisms for all of ‘Insaniyya’ (humanity). He was also known to be the best to his wives. His commitment to cherishing and connecting emotionally and lovingly to his wives is unfounded in any other individual’s account. An example etched in my mind which best exemplifies this is a narration by Imam Al-Nasai (may Allah have mercy upon him) in which, Safiyah bint Huyyay (may Allah be pleased with her) was travelling with the Prophet (pbuh), and it was then her turn to travel with him. She was slow in walking. The Prophet (pbuh) received her whilst crying and saying: “You gave me a slow camel”. Seeing that, the Prophet (pbuh) wiped her eyes with his hands and consoled her. The relationship between A’ishah bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is never amiss when we speak of what it means to be romantic. And yes, there is a place for romance between spouses.


It is narrated by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) as related in Sahih Al-Bukhari that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told A’ishah in the long tradition of Um Zara’: “I am in my love and loyalty to you just like Abi Zara’ and Um Zara”. A’ishah replied: “You are dearer to me more than my father and mother, you are even more loyal and loving than Abi Zara’ to Um Zara”. Often one may hear of accounts whereby there are strained tensions between either one of the spouses and their in-laws. However, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) showed that respect for one’s spouse should also extend towards their families. He had great respect for the families of his wives. Thus, a potential spouse should always show a keen interest in those whom their husband or wife have been brought up with. It is mentioned in Sahih Al-Bukhari that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) appointed companion Amer Bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) as a leader to the ‘Battle of Zat Al-Salasil’ (Battle of Chains). Feeling the love of the Prophet (pbuh), Amer asked the Prophet (pbuh), “Whose is the dearest to you?” He answered:“A’ishah”. Amer asked,“I mean from the men”. He replied:“Her father”. Amer asked, “Who then?” The Prophet replied: “Umar”, then the Prophet mentioned several men; so, Amer kept silence in order not to be the last of them. There are countless examples that one could go through. If anything, the extent of narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his quality of character credits the traits we should seek in ourselves and in a potential spouse; that of ‘Rahma’ (mercy), ‘Mawaddah’ (love), romance, understanding, compassion, gentleness and moreover a profound sense of friendship.


It must be said that in finding a suitable partner, one must not mistake religiosity for perfection, and that our expectations of anyone who exemplifies that would in fact provide for uncomfortable exposure in our marriages. What is at the very least required is someone who is in fact devoted to ‘Ihsaan’ (excellence) in their ‘Deen’ (religion) and who endeavour to struggle in perfecting their good traits and battling against that which takes them away from the pleasure of Allah; struggles for the sake of their Deen. It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) in Sahih Muslim: “The faithful husband should not hate his faithful wife, because if he hates certain manner in her character, then he should not forget the other good manners in her character”. A man or woman who struggle to give Allah His rights will undoubtedly struggle and attempt in giving their spouse their rights without any precondition. A man or woman who strives in the path of Allah in their worldly and ‘Akhirah’ (Hereafter) affairs will also encourage their spouse to do the same, in a way that is pleasing to Allah as mentioned in Sahih Muslim, narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “He who calls others to follow the right guidance will have a reward equal to the reward of those who follow him, without their reward being diminished in any respect on that account”. Lastly, we should rely on asking Allah, The Most High, to grant us the perfect partner; the one in whom we will realise our intent and objectives in obedience to Allah, someone who will support us, cherish and love us, overlook our faults and encourage us in our strengths.

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Make thi s supplic a tion for the ne wly we d:

Arabic transliteration: “Baa-rakal laahu la-kum, wa baa-raka ‘alay-kum, wa jama’a ba-yna-kumaa fee khair”. Translation: May Allah bless for you your spouse, and bless you, and may He unite both of you in goodness.

We met when I was born. To her I was the companion she was waiting for She dreamt about me ever since she came of age And knew she could have children of her own How I would look, How she would dress me. So many things she couldn’t wait to teach me She knew I would be one of a kind Unique in every way Because I was created from her For her And I will never forget how She held me and my brothers’ little hands As we walked to school Reciting verses of the Qur’an She lay the most beautiful foundation in life for us Islam And even when I strayed I came back because she had given us the sweet taste of Imaan (faith) And as they say Whoever tastes the sweetness of Imaan will always recognise the bitterness of sin She is my lifelong companion My next of kin And as I’m growing older Physically I am starting to look like my mother Now am wondering was I created for her or was she created for me? Either way I wear her features like a badge of honour.

By Asma Elbadawi Asma Elbadawi is a spoken word artist, with an interest in International Development through the arts. She currently holds an MA in Visual Arts and BA (hons) in Photography Video and Digital Imaging. Facebook Artist page: Asma Elbadawi Twitter: @asmaelbadawi


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Where most fairytales end, the real story begins! Islam Channel Senior Producer Yeota Imam-Rashid asks what really matters when it comes to marriage. Follow Yeota on Twitter: @Ye0ta


he real story is the common challenges faced by both husband and wife. Both of whom have to come home, cook a meal, wash and tidy the endless amount of dishes and mess whilst looking after the children and enduring sleepless nights. Not to mention the enduring effort into building relationships with your in-laws, maintaining kinships with your own and never missing a payment on those bills. But, despite the mundane routines, there are many moments of highs and lows, joys and sorrows. That is life. That is marriage. So the issue of age that many make a big deal about, when getting married really does not play an important part in the whole scheme of things. The question of the wife being a few months or years older than her husband really does not come into it or matter, nor does the fact that the husband is a few months or years younger than his wife. Age is not a factor in an Islamic marriage.

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But many things are, such as responsibility, maturity and accountability. It is also important to see if you have similar goals, which leads to compatibility and compromise. These are principles simply not defined by age but are values that are crucial in building a strong marriage, a love that is strong as a knot. The ‘Sunnah’ (teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) of young adults getting married is one that is highly recommended. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “O young men (shabab), whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding chastity”. [Sunan An-Nasa’i, 3209] What is particularly interesting is that in Islam, ‘shabb’ (young) or ‘shabab’ (youth) is till the age of forty, but after forty years old you are considered a fully mature adult. Of course this does mean you are not mature until you reach forty years old, rather, Allah, The Exalted, The Most High, has allowed us as ‘Insan’ (humans) up till the age of forty to gain as much knowledge in the ‘Deen’ (religion) and worldly knowledge to become a person of ‘Taqwa (God-consciousness) and what a ‘Rahma’ (mercy) that is. Another wisdom in this ‘Hadith’ (recorded tradition) is that marriage protects one from being tempted by desires and instead encourages us to embark upon a ‘Halal’ (permissible) relationship where these ‘Ahwaa’ (desires) are catered for and fulfilled. This not only satisfies the desire of the physical need but also then leaves the


partners to focus and fulfill their purpose in life. However, there are factors which precede the former in importance: ‘Will my partner aid me?...Will my partner encourage me and help me to excel in my purpose of life?’, everything else after this is secondary as the sole reason of marriage is to your purpose in life with your partner, which is to worship Allah, The Exalted and Most High. It is important you ensure that every hour you are awake and every hour you are asleep goes towards serving that purpose and that your partner is there to motivate you and aid you in this. Once that is clear, the secondary elements are the other necessary tools to help create a happy and tranquil marriage.

The age factor So why is age such a big factor in many cultures when getting married? Well, some may say a younger partner is more adaptable to change, which would make it easier to settle into a new environment and lifestyle that can be radically different from what you have been previously used to. Age also commonly relates to the women’s biological clock and marrying young can make it more possible for women to have more children. But as someone who has married a younger man and therefore, breaking the so-called “norms” of society; I see the many wisdoms and benefits in this too.

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A younger man keeps your mind young too. He has lots of energy to put into the ‘Dawah’ (making the invitation to Islam) and encourages you to do the same. He has been a great motivator and spurs me on when I may be feeling lazy. Although he may have interests different from mine, it has meant that I have opened up to a different world previously unknown to me. My husband is also fun and enjoys surprising me with spontaneous activities, which is all part of a healthy, successful and blessed marriage, Alhamdulillah (All praise be to Allah). Yet importantly, many, if not all, of the above qualities can also be gained from an ‘older’ partner or a partner of the same age. This further highlights that age is not a factor in marriage. This obsession many cultures have with age is one that does not need so much emphasis and need not create obstacles for people wanting to get married. Someone who marries at the age of eighteen may never have children; whilst a woman who married at forty may have several. It is all ‘Qadr of Allah’ (Allah’s decree). Yet, some factors are crucial in producing a loving and long lasting relationship, which should not be and cannot be compromised on. For example, responsibility of both partners is of upmost importance in marriage. And whilst the financial responsibility primarily falls on the husband, the wife has the responsibility to look after the household and ensure the children are cared for. Both have the responsibility of bringing the children up in the Deen.

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Good character above all else Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah have mercy upon him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock”. [Sahih Al-Bukhari] If this responsibility is not taken on by either partner, this can cause friction and instability in the marriage. Maturity is imperative to be able to deal with the endless scenarios that come up in marriage with a cool and calm disposition and to make important decisions in life. Accountability will ensure the partner always analyses his or hers behavior and responsibilities towards their partner. It is of utmost importance to be of a good character and making this a priority. We tend to be rude to those who are closest to us and take out our anger on our loved ones but are on our best behavior with strangers, which of course is vitally important too. But why the rude behavior to those we love?


Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “I have only been sent to perfect good moral character”. [Musnad Ahmad, 8595] This highlights how important it is for every Muslim to better their character. Having similar goals is crucial in assessing if you will be compatible in the years to come; and Islam should be the essence and driving force behind every decision and action for all goals. Whereas, before marriage decisions may revolve around your thoughts and desires (Ahwaa), after marriage things are different and there is another person to consider. Both partners have to put marriage above their personal preferences and the beautiful part about compromise is that the ideas and thoughts of two people usually lead to a better solution anyway! Another factor is partners are looking for ‘Ihsaan’ (perfection or excellence) in each other. The sooner you acknowledge the fact that there will never be anyone perfect except the Prophet (pbuh), the better. We all have flaws and faults and it is better to focus on how we can improve ourselves instead of pointing the finger at our partner. This will also stop you from getting disappointed. Another important ingredient in a happy and stable marriage is compromise; this cannot be lacking, it has to come


from both partners and requires teamwork and huge amounts of effort from both parties.

Ingredients of a lasting marriage These are just a few of the must have ingredients for a lasting marriage but the list is not exhaustive in the least. Being supportive, understanding, listening to one another, caring for each other in health and sickness and romance are all essential characteristics and promises partners should make to one another with Allah, The Most High, as Witness. And what better way to highlight this than in one of the greatest love stories that ever was. Imagine a man of the age twenty-five being approached by an older woman for marriage? This was no ordinary woman for she was known as the ‘Princess of Quraysh’ and ‘Al-Tahira’ (The Pure) one due to her stellar reputation. She was a very wealthy woman with high status. She had been married twice, widowed, and had three children from her previous marriages. She had been asked for her hand in marriage by many noble men, in society, but she had not accepted before. Now imagine this esteemed woman coming across the twenty-five-year-old man known

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as ‘As Sadiq’ (The Truthful) one and admiring his work ethic and how he conducted himself in person and business. She indirectly approached him for marriage, for in him she saw qualities that she did not see in older men. He had maturity that pleased her and she could envisage the man he could become. He accepted the proposal and they spent twenty five years loving years together. In those years she gave him, his greatest love. She gave him five children. She gave him strength when he faltered. She gave him the tranquility and support he needed. She gave him financial and emotional support. She gave him the encouragement he was desperate for in difficult times when people rejected him I speak of course of Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh) and Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her). To me, this is perhaps one of the greatest love stories ever recorded in history. And not once did the age factor come in the way of this marriage, because they both knew so well the purpose of marriage and their purpose in life. Yet, this did not stop the greatest man that ever walked the earth from marrying her; because he did not consider them as factors worth thinking about. He married Khadijah for her noble character, her strength, her ability to deal with

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hardships and he saw in her the resolve to accompany a younger man on his journey to fulfill a bigger purpose; prophethood that will come his way when he reached the age of forty. Let us take these lessons when looking for a partner in marriage and not get sidetracked by the number game. Whilst the very deceptive perfect ending in fairytales is what we all wish for, we must remind ourselves that we are in the ‘Dunya’ (temporal world) and not the ‘Akhirah’ (Hereafter). The Dunya can never be perfect and is a place where Prophet Adam (pbuh) and Hawa or Eve (upon her be peace) were sent to as a test from Allah, The Most High. It is a place where we also will be tested; therefore things will never be as straight forward as we wish. What we should think about, however, is that marriage is a potential doorway to ‘Jannah’ (Paradise) and as one half of the equation we can help each other to get to a higher-ranking level of Jannah, In shaa Allah (If Allah wills) and Allah’s Rahma is beyond our comprehension. If the husband’s good deeds allows him to reach a higher station in Jannah, then his wife will be allowed to join him and vice versa, Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah). And that truly is a joy and a goal to aim for, for in this place we would be forever young and would truly live happily ever after... Ameen.


“Not letting our mood affect the way we treat people is a forgotten Sunnah”. [ U s t a dh N oum an A l i K han, p r ofe s s or of Ar a bic a nd Qur ’a nic s tudie s ]

Anum Babar has a BA in International Relations and Politics, and is currently studying Islamic Scholarship at the prestigious Al-Salam Institute in London. She brings inspirational knowledge into her writing.

Linguistically, ‘Salat-ul-Istikharah’ means the prayer of seeking counsel, guidance for what is good, or the best. The purpose of Istikharah is for the Believer to seek guidance from Allah, The Most High in a given matter and/or decision, and for Allah to facilitate an outcome which is best for us in this world and the world beyond. Below is an example of how the prayer and ‘Du’a’ (supplication) are performed, in the context of someone who looks for marriage.

Before seeking guidance When looking for a spouse, you must take all the necessary steps in making a decision on who to marry, before performing Istikharah. All the options should be weighed up in terms of their suitability, towards yourself and your family, and whether they will help you on your journey to become a dedicated servant to Allah. After all of these factors have been taken into consideration, you must make a firm decision on who you want as your future spouse; it is then you perform Istikharah to Allah, when the decision is made, not to acquire the answer itself.


Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


How and when to perform Istikharah Salat-ul-Istikharah can be prayed during anytime of the day as long as the person does it correctly with ‘Yakeen’ (certainty). You should also follow the rules applied to daily prayers, for instance performing ‘Wudhu’ (ablution), facing the ‘Qibla’ (direction of the Ka’bah), and avoiding to pray in the forbidden times, such as during sunrise. Then a unit of two ‘Raka’at’ (prescribed movements and words recited in Arabic), of ‘nafl’ (supererogatory prayer) should be performed like any other prayer. Once the prayer is completed one should recite the Istikharah Du’a that was taught to us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Jabir bin Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (pbuh) used to teach us to seek Allah’s counsel in all matters, as he used to teach us a Surah (chapter) from the Qur’an. He would say: When anyone of you has an important matter to decide, let him pray two Raka’at (units of prayer) other than the obligatory prayer, and then say: “Allaahumma ‘innee astakheeruka bi’ilmika, wa astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa as’aluka min fadhlikal-’Adheemi, fa’innak taqdiru wa laa aqdiru, wa ta’alamu, wa laa a’lamu, wa Anta ‘Allaamul Ghuyoobi, Allaahumma ‘in kunta ta’lamu anna haathal - amra (then mention the thing to be decided) khayrun lee fee deenee wa ma’aashee wa ‘aaqibati amree - (or say: ‘Aajilihi wa aajilihi) faqdurhu lee wa yassirhu lee thumma baarik lee feehi, wa ‘in kunta ta’lamu anna haathal - amra (then mention the thing to be


decided) sharrun lee fee deenee wa ma’ashee wa ‘aaqibati amree - (or say: Aajilihu wa aajilihi) fasrifhu ‘annee wasrifnee ‘anhu waqdur liyal-khayra haythu kaana thumma ardhinee bihi”. Translation: “O Allah! I ask guidance from Your knowledge, And Power from Your Might and I ask for Your great blessings. You are capable and I am not. You know and I do not and You know the unseen. O Allah! If You know that this job is good for my religion and my subsistence and in my Hereafter - (or say: If it is better for my present and later needs) - then You ordain it for me and make it easy for me to get, and then bless me in it, and if You know that this job is harmful to me in my religion and subsistence and in the Hereafter - (or say: If it is worse for my present and later needs) then keep it away from me and let me be away from it. And ordain for me whatever is good for me, and make me satisfied with it”. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 263/21] Once the Istikharah is completed, have ‘Tawakkul’ (trust in Allah’s plan) and be mindful that you have sought the best guidance from Allah, The Most High, The All Knowing whilst we human beings are weak, and thus in need of His Guidance.

Understanding the Guidance Signs appear in many ways which is why we should have ‘Sabr’ (virtue of patience). This is to prevent one from being hasty with their deci-

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sion, which may lead to confusion. Istikharah is not a way to know the future nor is it something to be afraid of. It is a blessing for which Allah, The Most High, allows you to understand how to act in the given situation. Sometimes as human beings we choose to follow our ‘Ahwaa’ (desires) and go against what our heart is telling us to do; this is fatal and will only cause distress. So whatever happens there forth is from the ‘Hikmah’ (wisdom) of Allah. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah: The Cow, 2:216] There are many misconceptions regarding Salat-ul-Istikharah, for example, many believe that after praying Istikharah, one would receive a dream telling them exactly what to do. The reality is that Allah, The Most High, chooses the best way to guide His slave and this could be via a dream or another sign. Another misconception is that Istikharah should be performed once or seven times, when in reality, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has not made any mention of. It should be performed with the intention to seek the ‘Khair’ (goodness) from Allah and therefore you should surrender to His decree. Occasionally, some find it difficult to accept Allah’s decision even when He has provided clear evidence, but this is when the slave of Allah must be strong and fight their desires, realizing that Allah is ‘Al-Alim’ (All Knowing) and we are not. Many people pray Istikharah for the first time when they are making a decision to get married to someone; on the contrary, the Prophet (pbuh) used to teach the companions

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to perform Istikharah in most situations, in fact the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) used to make Istikharah even when buying a pair of shoelaces. However, it is important to highlight that Istikharah should not be made for certain matters that are known to be ‘Haraam’ (forbidden) in Islam for all times. Istikharah is a treasure for seeking out the good in this ‘Dunya’ (temporal world) and for the ‘Akhirah’ (Hereafter). It helps a Believer to reach contentment with his or her decision knowing that the guidance came from Allah, The Most High. The Believers accept the tests in life and look forward to the reward and ease either in this life or the next. The scholar Ibn Abi Jamrah (may Allah have mercy upon him) summarised Istikharah as a: “…phrase which refers to something specific. With regard to matters that are Wajib (obligatory) or Mustahabb (encouraged), there is no need for Istikharah to decide whether to do them, and with regard to matters that are Haraam (forbidden) or Makrooh (disliked), there is no need for Istikharah to decide whether to avoid them. The issue of Istikharah is confined to matters that are Mubaah (allowed) or in Mustabhabb (encouraged) matters when there is a decision to be made as to which one should be given priority. I say: it refers to both great and small matters, and probably an insignificant issue could form the groundwork for a big issue”.



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Breaking an age old misconception By Islam Channel Presenter Shahina Khatun and a graduate of Journalism. She is passionate about having the Muslim woman’s voice heard on issues ranging from race, religion and politics. She is also an up-and-coming poet and believes poetry to be a beautiful and powerful medium to connect with people. Follow Shahina on Twitter: @shahina_media and visit her blog

For as long as I can remember, there has always been controversy surrounding “arranged marriages” or what some misunderstand to be equivalent to “forced marriages”. Many a time, I have found myself both debating or rather explaining to non-Muslims, that there is a difference between ‘arranged’ and ‘forced’ marriages. Simultaneously, explaining to relatives and those within my own community that, women and men have a choice in who they choose to marry, even in an arranged marriage. It felt like a battle on both sides in correcting this misconception; more so being a student of Journalism. As an ambitious ‘Asian’ girl as well as being a Muslim, trainee journalist in an environment where stories relating to an arranged or forced marriages often made sensational front covers of newspapers, it is not hard to imagine how often I found myself in a position where I was constantly clarifying the meaning. So the question is what is it that I was clarifying? I was making clear that an arranged marriage is literally when potential partners are put forward by family, relatives or friends. Even when two people approach their guardians to seek permission to speak to the person they know in a ‘Halal’ (permissible) environment is regarded as arranged.

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There are various types of arranged marriages in accordance to the culture of each people. Eastern families tend to be a big part of the decision-making process with the consent of the couple involved and because it is the norm in that culture. Then there is the Islamic way of marriage which can also fall under the category of an ‘arranged marriage’ as the family are very much involved in finding a potential partner and we are also allowed to mention to them that we know someone who may be suitable for us. However, as Muslims, we have rules to regulate how this is done, just as we do in everything else in life. There is a process, i.e., in most cases, with our guardian’s permission, having a family member present when meeting the person. We can look, we can talk and we can ask questions until we are confident enough to make a decision. If we see, meet or like someone, then our parents are made aware in order to accommodate according to the Islamic etiquette. If we say yes then all praise be to Allah! If we say no, then no it is! And that is fine too! Also, there is a great sense of security in having a marriage in which the family arrange; there is a process of finding out information about one’s son or daughter you may marry. So a huge amount of reference is sought from people who may know them, about their background, family, upbringing, criminal history, etc. This way, it is ensured that the family know exactly where their child is going, how they may be treated and also to ensure compatibility. On the other hand a ‘forced’ marriage is what it is – just ‘forced!’ Consent is not taken from the person getting married. In many cases, couples do not even see or meet the person they are forced to marry until after the wedding. One can only imagine the trauma experienced by the individuals coerced into such a marriage. This is one of the big factors that conjure up so many negative connotations about arranged marriages. Differences between forced and arranged marriages have been blurred due to bad practices that do happen within the Muslim community and worth noting, also within other cultures. This happens for numerous reasons, such as keeping family ties and promises for economic benefit, for instance, the opportunity to travel abroad so family back home can be 48

supported; keeping inheritance within the family, etc. However, it was not that long ago when arranged marriages were also practised in the Western hemisphere and culture. It was the norm that the man would ask the father for his daughters’ hand in marriage. Classical novels such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ are a reflection of its time and society. Marriage was either arranged or performed in a manner that is not different from most cultures. Again, the guardian’s permission is sought out and the family tend to be very involved in the decision making process. Whereas, ‘love’ prior to marriage, as we know it today, is a recent phenomenon. In ancient times, arranged marriages were commonplace among the royalty and nobility around the world, with the purpose of strengthening unions that were political, military and social. One of the main objectives of arranged marriages in ancient Egypt, for example, was to keep royal bloodlines pure. The Romans also practiced arranged marriages. Daughters were a useful form of exchange for monetary gain, which could be used to strengthen the military Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

practices of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, in today’s society we often hear about the stigma attached to arranged marriages, particularly in Islam; pushing forward the idea that Islam is oppressive and backwards. And the improper or unfair imposition of forced marriages associated with it. Islam clearly draws a distinction between arranged and forced marriages. A woman named Khansa Bint Khidam Al Ansariya said, “My father married me to his nephew, and I did not like this match, so I complained to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He said to me “accept what your father has arranged”. I said “I do not wish to accept what my father has arranged”. He said “then this marriage is invalid, go and marry whomever you wish”. I said “I have accepted what my father has arranged, but I wanted women to know that fathers have no right in their daughter’s matters” (i.e. they have no right to force a marriage on them). [Fathul Bari Sharah Al-Bukhari 9/194; Ibn Majah Kitabun Nikah 1/602]

position of the family. Historically, within the royal family, itself, women were married off as part of strengthening relationships between different countries. Arranged marriages in reality were ‘forced’ marriages that were non-consensual. The royal princesses of Europe were used the same way well into the nineteenth century and shipped off to their husbands when they reached a suitable age. Of course, breeding within a limited gene pool has led to hereditary illnesses, as it did within the royal families of Europe, for example, ‘haemophilia’, which is a blood clotting disorder, was so prevalent that it was called “the Royal Disease”. Queen Victoria’s son Prince Leopold was one of the young royals who died an untimely death due to haemophilia. Marriage is a sacred bond in the eyes of Allah, The Most High, which he describes in Surah Ar-Rum: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought”. [Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rum: The Romans, 30:21] It is not only a joyous union but a part of the Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

Islam absolutely forbids anyone, including parents to force their children, sons and daughters, into marriage. Not only is consent required from both parties but also, a marriage would not be valid in the eyes of Allah if couples were forced into it. Family should fear accountability to Allah for infringing on the rights of their children, which Allah Himself has bestowed upon them. Bored as we may be of clarifying this “age-old misconception” of Islam’s position on arranged marriages, we must still clarify and it is a form of ‘Naseeha’ (advise) in the context of Islamic teaching. As Muslims, we are ambassadors’ of Islam and this must be reflected in our actions and speech. As ambassadors’, it is our responsibility to protect Islam from incorrect stigma’s, but at the same time, realise that Islam does not need to be made palatable to the taste of others. Rather, we should be proud and confident about the teachings of Islam that some cultures may not fully appreciate or understand. However, it is important to use ‘Hikmah’ (wisdom) in the manner in which we discuss and explain. And more than that, I quickly came to realise that as a young trainee journalist, ‘honesty’ and ‘eloquence’ in speech about our beliefs and values were key to creating understanding and respect amongst those who are willing to listen with a sincere heart. 49

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Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


Ilma Magazine / Issue 17



Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

A Traveller’s Guide:

A Walk through the Shambles Elena Nikolova is the creator of She helps Muslims travel the world in style without breaking the bank. You can connect with Elena on Twitter: @MuslimTravelGrl

York Minister National Railway Museum Clifford Castle Jorvik Viking Centre Yorkshire Dales The Shambles of York

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City Profile

York Country: England Capital: London City to visit: York is situated in the county of Yorkshire Official language: English Major religion: Christianity (Church of England) Currency: British Sterling Best time to travel: There is no off-season in York. The city is beautiful all year around. However, if you do not enjoy crowds, avoid visiting York during spring and summer when prices are higher and there are more tourists.


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York Manchester



Overview Sometimes we look for far away and exotic destinations when, for those living in the UK, there are plenty of beautiful cities to visit here. One of these cities is York; a historic destination with over 1,900 years of history, which makes it a perfect gateway for the whole family. York is a historic ‘walled’ city at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss, in North Yorkshire. York is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gives its name. York ranks the eleventh most visited city in the UK according to and it is renowned for its great medieval architecture, small cobbled streets and the iconic York Minster. Being only two hours away from London by train, no wonder it attracts a large number of visitors annually. The city is of great historical importance with its origins dating back to the Roman Empire in 71 AD. York became the capital province of Britannia Inferior and it was originally called Eboracum. Later, it became part of the kingdoms of Northumbria and under the empire of the Jorvik Vikings. In the Middle Ages York was a major wool trading centre and it became the capital of the northern province of the Church of England; a role it retains even today. During the nineteenth century the city became an important railway hub and a confectionary manufacturing centre. Today, York has moved away Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


from industrial manufacturing and now concentrates on providing a service based industry. It has one of the reputable universities (University of York) in the UK and it is a hub for major branches of international companies. York offers something for everyone in the family from ancient historic places to explore and fun activities for the youngsters, to shopping opportunities. York’s city centre is almost a traffic-free zone which gives the visitor a perfect opportunity to explore the city’s medieval cobbled streets and architecture. Getting lost in this beautiful city of York is highly recommended. Every turn seems to reveal another lovely view of the historic city with beautiful ‘tea rooms’ along the way, in case you want to take a rest and relax. It is one of those cities that, when walking within its walls it makes you feel like you have been sent back in time. It is a walking historical museum; this British Heritage City is also perfect for the children to enjoy. York is a bustling city with plenty of opportunities to explore the historical sites as well as the many festivals and events that take place every year. Furthermore, York is the perfect romantic break for couples. Hotels in York, such as the Middlethorpe Hall & Spa is the ideal hotel to spend your romantic break in. I recommend that you search for the best hotels in York, online at 57

York Minster ‘The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York’, commonly known as ‘York Minster’, is the cathedral of York. It is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. During renovations the remains of the Basilica, the ceremonial centre of the Roman fortress, were found beneath the Minster building. This iconic medieval site has always been of great importance to the city and it still stands proud for over two thousand years. Visitors can explore the underground chambers, which were used as a burial ground over the centuries, for important figures of the city. The new renovation project has totally transformed the underground chambers with dynamic audio-visual and interactive galleries revealing the significance behind the Cathedral’s most treasured artefacts. If on the other hand, you are interested in seeing the city from above, you can find the best views just two hundred seventy five steps up the Central tower leading you to the highest point in the city. For the younger visitors there are free discovery trails and also an explorers backpack to help them discover the Minsters secrets, as true detectives. A great way to spend a family weekend in York!


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National Railway Museum York’s ‘National Railway Museum’ is a must visit for the whole family. It is part of the ‘British Science Museum Group of National Museums’ and tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society. It has won many awards over the years including the ‘European Museum of the Year in 2001’. It holds the national collection of over one hundred historically significant, locomotives all of which either ran on the railways of Great Britain or where manufactured in the country. The museum is hosted on a twenty acres site that has many hundreds of thousands of other items and records having social, technical and historical interest. The museum is located near ‘York Railway Station’ in the former motive power depot and it is the largest of its kind in Britain, attracting more than seven hundred and thousand visitors per year. The National Railway Museum is free to visit and is open daily from 10am to 5pm, excluding bank holidays.


e ay Mus w l i a R l Nationa York

Clifford Castle ‘Clifford Castle’ is also known as the ‘York Castle’ and it is a medieval fortified complex comprising of over nine centuries of buildings serving as castles, prisons, law courts and other. It is located on the South of the River Foss. Present-day, there are only a few remains of the medieval castle. The castle was originally built by William the First also known as William the Conqueror, to dominate the former Viking city and over the centuries it was used as a military and defence base. A major explosion in 1684 rendered the remaining military defences uninhabitable, the castle continued to be used as a jail and prison until 1929. Today, Clifford’s Castle is a well-known tourist destination and a national monument. The site is owned by the British Heritage and is open to the public daily, excluding bank holidays.

Clifford Ilma Magazine / Issue 17




Jorvik Viking Centre With a great Viking history surrounding York there is no better way to experience this than visiting the ‘Jorvik Viking Centre’. The Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum and visitor attraction created by the ‘York Archaeological Trust’ in 1984. Its purpose is to entertain and take visitors in a time capsule to the 975 AD, reconstructing Viking settlements. The Viking centre also includes a museum which contains over eight hundred finds from the site with interactive displays and opportunity to learn about the Viking era.

Jorvik V i

king Ce



Probably the most notable opportunity to visit York, if you are interested in the Viking history, is during the annual Viking festival (Jorvik Viking Festival) which takes place every February during term time. In 2016, the week-long event will take place from the 13th of February to the 20th of February. The festival’s programme of family-friendly events, lectures, guided walks and battle re-enactments attracts over forty thousand visitors each year from across the globe making it a perfect family holiday. You can find more information online about the annual festival and other activities here:

Yorkshire Dales



e Da r i h s k r Yo ork Y

York is the perfect base for exploring the ‘Yorkshire Dales’; the word ‘dale’ is derived from the Old English word ‘dael’ which means valley. The Yorkshire Dales comprises of river valleys and the hills, rising from the Vale of York to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed. The Yorkshire Dales is a superb place to spend time outside, with spectacular waterfalls and ancient woodland contrasting with scattered remains of former mine workings and other rural industries; a reminder of the area’s rich industrial heritage. The dales are perfect for hiking, horse riding, bird spotting and sightseeing, making it a great outdoor adventure for the whole family.

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The Shambles York It is almost inconceivable for a visitor to come to York without passing through its most famous street; ‘The Shambles’. The Shambles is sometimes used as a general term for the beautiful and characteristic medieval streets which make York so charming. At its heart is the lane, actually called The Shambles, arguably the best preserved medieval street in the world. Today, the streets of timber build housings, which dates back to the fourteenth century are lined with a range of touristy and other shops. However, back in the day they were butchers shops and houses, many complete with a slaughterhouse at the back of the premises, ensuring a ready supply of fresh meat. It is still possible to see some of the original butcher’s meat-hooks attached to the shop fronts. It is a traffic-free zone which leaves you to explore this city’s history in peace. Around The Shambles, which took its name from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘shammel’ meaning shelves, a prominent feature of the store fronts and you can find many ‘tea rooms’ full of character where you can enjoy a relaxing break during your trip.


ork Y s e l b Sham York

Money saving tips! • If you are planning your trip to York by train, you might want to consider using the Family and Friends Railcard, saving you up to one third off adult fares and sixty percent of child fares. It costs £30 for the whole year and it can save you hundreds of pounds on rail travel for the whole family. • You might also want to consider obtaining a British Heritage annual pass starting from £41 for the whole family. The pass lets you enjoy access to four hundred heritage sites across Britain for free, making it a great value for money, if you are planning to have fun and educational weekend breaks. •

York Pass helps you save money to thirty of York’s top attractions offering you a flexible sightseeing pass that allows you to visit the sites and attractions that interest you the most. By having the York Pass you can save a great deal of cash! A day pass for two adults and children costs £140. You can find more information about the pass here:

York is a superb travel destination especially for us Brits! Only few cities in the world can rival York’s history and character which magically takes you back in time. You cannot not fall in love with York, a city that proves that travelling to find beauty and experiences does not have to include crossing borders or even getting on a plane. Next time, for those looking to discover local treasures and beauty visit York.

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


“Travel through the land and observe how He began creation. Then Allah will produce the final creation. Indeed Allah, over all things, is competent”. [Q ur’ an, Surah Al- Ank a but: The Spide r, 29:20]

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Introduction to Cancer: Part 1

Hafsa Waseela is in the medical field pursuing her studies to reach her ultimate vocation in becoming a Lecturer specialising in Oncology and Cancer. She is also an artist, poet and is an active member of a number of dawah organisations, community associations and charities in the UK and abroad. To find out more about her work, please visit the following website

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“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy”. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 7/582]

Cancer is the leading cause for the high incidence of morbidity and mortality around the world. The World Health Organization reported that in 2012 approximately 8.2 million deaths were linked to cancer. The purpose of this article is to inform you of what cancer is and what causes it. Our bodies consist of many building blocks called cells. There are different types of cells with distinct roles. It is reported that there are more than 200 types. Cells are joined together to make up tissues that then make organs. For instance, heart (cardiac) cells make up the heart tissue that forms the heart organ.

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All cells have a control centre called a ‘nucleus’. The nucleus contains the genetic information of the cell that controls how cells behave. There are signals to how much cells grow and divide. As we grow, our cells become mature and specialised for their function, and are not reproduced often. However, blood and skin cells are constantly replaced. Normally if cells are damaged or killed, new cells are replaced. The process in how cells divide is known as ‘cell division’. However, if there are changes in gene or the signals are faulty, the change is called a ‘mutation’ and can occur by chance. Some mutations cause cells to grow out of control and form a lump called a ‘tumour’. When the cancer cells continue to grow and progress to other organs, it converts to a ‘malignant metastatic tumour’.


Types of cancer

There are different types of cancer and are normally named after the organ or tissue the cancer arises in. For instance, ‘brain cancer’ is the cancer that initiates in the brain cells. Carcinoma This is the most common form of cancer created by ‘epithelial cells’. Epithelial cells are located in the inner and outer surfaces of the body. There are also subtypes depending where the epithelial cells are located. If the epithelial cells are located where fluids or mucus are produced, it is called ‘adenocarcinoma’. For instance, majority of cancers of the colon, prostate and breast are adenocarcinomas. ‘Basal cell carcinoma’ is another subtype that initiates at the lower or base layer of the ‘epidermis’ which is the outer layer of the skin. Another subtype is called ‘squamous cell carcinoma’ which is formed from ‘squamous cells’. Squamous cells are a type of epithelial cells that are beneath the skins outer surface. They line on other organs such as kidneys, stomach, intestines, lungs and bladder and look flat. They are also known as ‘epidermoid carcinomas’.


Transitional cell carcinoma is another subtype and is formed by a type of epithelial tissue called the ‘transitional epithelium’ otherwise known as ‘urothelium’. The transitional epithelium is made up of many layers and are found in the linings of many organs. For instance, ureters, bladder and renal pelvis of the kidneys.

Lymphoma It initiates in ‘lymphocytes’ (T cells and B cells) which are white blood cells that form part of the immune system that fight disease. Abnormal lymphocytes accumulate in the lymph nodes and vessels predominantly besides other organs. There are two main types: ‘Hodgkin lymphoma’ and ‘Non-Hodgkin lymphoma’. Hodgkin lymphoma have abnormal B cells called ‘Reed-Sternberg cells’. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma grow from B cells or T cells and can grow slowly or can progress quickly.

Leukaemia It is a type of cancer that begins in the blood, forming tissue of the bone marrow. The abnormal white blood cells outnumber the normal cells which influences its ability to fight infection. It also influences the function of ‘red blood cells’ and these cells carry oxygen around the body via the blood. Leukaemia is divided based on the type of white blood cell affected. ‘Myeloid cells’ are one of the main types and has a number of functions: protect the body from parasites, infec-

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

tions caused by bacteria and spread of tissue damage. ‘Lymphocytes’ is the other main type of ‘white blood cells’ and is primarily involved in protecting the body from infections caused by viruses. They are also divided based upon on how quick it progresses, for instance, acute and chronic.

Sarcoma This type of cancer is formed in the bone and soft tissue. For instance, blood vessels, lymph vessels, muscle, fat and fibrous tissue (tendons and ligaments). The most common form of bone cancer is ‘osteosarcoma’.

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumours This type of cancer is named based upon the type of cell they are formed and where the tumour has initiated in the central nervous system. For instance, ‘astrocytes’ are a type of brain cell that is distinguished from other types of brain cells due to its star shape. Its normal function is to keep the nerve cells functioning. Abnormal astrocytes cause an ‘astrocytic tumour’.

Melanoma This type of cancer arises from specialised cells called ‘melanocytes’. Melanocytes synthesise melanin, a pigment that gives skin colour. Majority of melanomas form on the skin but in some cases it can occur in the eye.

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Multiple Myeloma This type of cancer arises from another type of immune cell called ‘plasma cells’. Abnormal plasma cells are called myeloma cells. They build up in the bone marrow. There can also form tumours in the bones around the body. Multiple myeloma is also known as ‘Kahler disease’ and ‘Plasma cell myeloma’.

Germ Cell Tumours This type of cancer arises in the cells that increase sperm or eggs. The sperm is from the males and the eggs are from the females. Germ cell tumours can take place anywhere around the body.

Carcinoid Tumours They are a form of ‘neuroendocrine tumour’ and are slow-growing. They are normally located in the gastrointestinal system predominantly in the rectum and small intestine. They have the potential to spread to the liver.

Neuroendocrine Tumours This type of cancer originates from cells that release hormones into the blood, as a result of a signal from the nervous system.


What causes cancer?

Some cancers develop without reason, whereas certain risk factors increase the probability of one or more cell to become abnormal, leading to the development of cancer. Some cancers are due to a combination of causes. Carcinogens A ‘carcinogen’ is a substance that causes cancer. Examples of carcinogens are radiation and tobacco. The more exposure to the carcinogen, the greater the risk. For instance, increase of exposure to radioactive materials can increase the risk of leukaemia. Another type of radiation is ultraviolet (UV) radiation which increases the risk of skin cancer. In relation to smoking tobacco, it can cause cancer of throat, mouth, bladder, lung and oesoph-


agus. One in ten smokers, die from cancer. The more you smoke, greater the risk, if you stop, the risk will decrease significantly.

Age The older you become, the more you are at risk of cancer. This is due to a number of possible reasons. Accumulation of the damaged cells over a period of time. The immune system that defends the body from disease and infection weakens with age. For instance, the ability of the immune system to remove the damaged cells becomes less efficient as one gets older. Thus, the damaged cells survive and multiply uncontrollably.

Diet Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancers. For instance, fruits with Vitamin C (kiwi, berries and citrus fruits); an oxidant, protects the body from chemicals. However, eating food with high fat content, drinking alcohol (strictly forbidden in Islam), eating red meat can increase cancer.

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Infection ‘Microbes’ such as viruses and bacteria can cause cancer. For instance, a type of infection caused by a virus such as ‘Hepatitis B’ increases the risk of developing liver cancer. A type of bacteria called ‘Helicobacter pylori’ is linked to stomach cancer.

Immune system People with a poor immune system are linked to cancer. For instance, patients who have an organ transplant and have ‘immunosuppressive therapy’ are at risk of developing certain cancers.

Genetics Some cancers are inherited from family members with that type of cancer. For instance, those who inherit an abnormal gene of BRCA1/2 can lead to breast cancer. In some cancers, their genetic makeup signifies that they are less resistant to the carcinogenic effects. Calamities are a test from Allah, The Most High, and signify His love for His servant. I feel the pain of losing someone but I continue in this path to prevent loss, make the remainder of life secure and discover something new as medicine and science is a life-long learning attribute to the society. Cancer took my dear sister Farah away; may Allah grant her and all those who passed away with Paradise. Ameen. Should you like to donate The Farah Saeed Trust, please visit:

Ultimately, there are a number of causes of cancer that can lead to various types of cancer. They play a role in triggering a normal cell to become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably. In Issue 18, I will discuss the different techniques in which cancer is diagnosed and the treatments available to treat cancer. May Allah will give us the willpower to find a cure for this disease and may He give strength and patience to those people and their families who are going through this.

Supplication for Healing Sickness “Allahumma Rabban-nasi, adhhibil-ba’sa, washfi, Antash-Shafi, lashifa’a illa shifa’uka, shifaan la yughadiru saqaman”. Translation: O Allah! The Rabb of mankind! Remove this disease and cure him or her! You are the Great Curer. There is no cure but through You, which leaves behind no disease. [Sahih Al-Bukhari; Sahih Al-Muslim]

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


Invocation for be for e e a ting

Arabic Transliteration: “Alhamdu lillahil-ladhi ‘at’amani hadha, wa razaqanihi, min ghayri hawlin minnee wa la quwwatin”. Translation: Praise is to Allah Who has given me this food and sustained me with it though I was unable to do it and powerless. [Ti rm i dhi 3/1 59; Abu Da wud; Ibn Ma ja h]

Karimah Bint Dawoud is a qualified Islamic Nutritionist and author of the Gourmand award winning cook book Heavenly Bites: The Best of Muslim Home cooking. She is also the Director of ‘Feed the Need’ an organisation that feeds the homeless in London, UK. Follow Karimah on Twitter


Foods of Yorkshire

The grand old city of York is situated deep in the county of Yorkshire, north of England; a walled Roman city that was the capital of Britannia Inferior, a city that has been there for almost two thousand years. York is at the confluence of the rivers Foss and Ouse; the River Ouse leading to the great tidal estuary of the Humber River and from there to the North Sea. It is this connection to the sea that leads us to our first healthy wholefood recipe.

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


Over the years, the Roman food etiquettes similar to Islamic medicine have been lost over the waves of time. These days’ traditional Yorkshire pie recipe combine fish and milk but no Roman even today would allow the combination of sea food pasta and parmesan cheese. I know of this because I used to live in Rome for a year prior to accepting Islam. I got told off for frantically grating cheese over my fish pasta. According to esteem classical Islamic scholar, Ibn Jawziyyah (may Allah have mercy upon him) also known as the ‘Doctor of the Heart’, in his book Medicine of the Prophet states that fish and dairy are toxic. As a Clinical Nutritionist, it is my duty to provide you with an Islamic alternative that will compliment your health. The following version is dairy free and when you visit Yorkshire you can ask them to use coconut milk. Andiamo! Let’s go!

Main Ingredients (12 slices serves 4-6): • • • • • • • • • •

2 cups 400g fish, firm fish like cod or haddock, cut in chunky 3-4cm pieces 1 cup 235g of mixed seafood; squid, mussels and prawns 2 cups of finely chopped onion 1kg fresh potatoes 1 tbsp olive oil 3 tsp minced garlic 3 tsp mince ginger 1 tsp mince fresh green chilli 1 tin 400ml coconut milk ½ cup fresh parsley/coriander

Spice Mixture: • • • • • •

3 tsp coriander powder 1 tsp cumin powder ½-1 tsp chili powder ½-1 tsp turmeric powder ½-1 tsp black pepper powder ½ tsp sea salt

Preparation: 1. Turn on the oven at 200C / 392F / 6 Gas Mark. 2. Wash, peel and chop potatoes. 3. Boil or steam potatoes. I like to use a steamer or you can boil for twenty minutes till evenly soft

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

but not falling part. 4. Whilst potatoes are cooking, add olive oil to frying pan on medium heat and add chopped onion and fry till golden. 5. Add fresh minced garlic, ginger and chilli, stir and fry for further five minutes. 6. Then add spice mixture, stir and fry for a couple of minutes, till spices absorb oil, before adding 300ml of coconut milk, reserving 100ml to cream the potatoes later. Stir again. Then set aside to cool. 7. Place chopped fish and seafood in a 6cm deep baking dish and about 30cm oblong or square. 8. Place in the oven for ten minutes to take excess water off seafood. 9. Take fish in the baking dish out of the oven and place on a heatproof surface. 10. Add half of fresh chopped parsley or coriander to sauce, reserving for the potatoes later. 11. Then pour creamy spicy onion mixture over the fish and lift to stir gently so that seafood is even dispersed with sauce. 12. Mash the potatoes with remaining coconut milk and parsley or coriander. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. 13. Using a large spoon arrange mashed potato, a spoonful at a time, over the seafood mixture. 14. When seafood sauce is covered with potato mixture, blend potato on top together and texturize with a fork. 15. Place in middle shelf of oven for thirty minutes, till crispy and golden on top. 16. Serve with steamed veggies drizzled with olive oil.


Parkin is a spicy, sticky, soft, ginger bread cake. In Yorkshire, it is associated with Guy Fawkes’ Night but the origin may go way back to the Roman Empire and beyond. Traditionally it is made with a mixture of oats and molasses, flavoured with allspice and ginger. Karimah’s twist on the traditional recipe is more spices to warm you from top to toe, in very fine oats, sugar and dry ginger powder. This cake is enriched with crystallised ginger pieces, perfect for warming your body during damp cold winter months in the UK. Ginger is a spice obtained from the root of the zingiber officinale plant, which can be boiled. It is an ancient wonder spice that has time tested health benefits that included: • • • • • • • •

Enhancing the appetite Aiding the digestion Stimulating energy to combat tiredness Combats flatulence wind Anti-inflammatory that relieves arthritic pain Diminishes stomach cramps It is an aphrodisiac food Decongestant for head nose and throat

And most importantly, it is mentioned in the Qur’an: “And they will be given to drink a cup of wine whose mixture is of ginger”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Insan, The Man, 76:17]

Main Ingredients (approx. 20 pieces or 2 x small sponge cake rounds): • • • • • • • • • • •

2 cups self-rising flour 2 cups finely ground medium oatmeal 1 cup finely ground brown sugar 1 cup organic milk or nut milk 75g butter 1 cup runny honey or golden syrup 1 tablespoon black molasses (high in vitamin B6, iron and magnesium) 2 free range and organic medium size eggs 2 teaspoons ground mix spice 3 teaspoons ground ginger 3 tbsp finely diced crystallised ginger (buy from health shops or baking section)

Optional (Make Karimah’s All Spice): • • • • •

3 x cinnamon sticks (Sri Lanka quills) 1 nutmeg ball 6 tsp cloves 6 tsp cardamom pods 6 tsp star anise pieces (spice native to China)

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Preparation: 1. Heat oven to Gas 2. 2. Grease the baking tins (wipe around with butter on a piece of kitchen tissue). 3. In jug blender, blend sugar till fine. 4. In jug blender, blend oats till fine. 5. In a large mixing bowl add flour, blended oatmeal, blended sugar and spices. 6. Stir thoroughly all dry ingredients till spices are evenly dispersed throughout mixture. 7. If you bought big chunks of crystallised ginger, then cut into ½ cm pieces and add to dry ingredients mix. Stir thoroughly. 8. In a milk saucepan or small pot, warm the butter, honey or syrup, molasses and milk, when the butter has melted and mixture is runny, pour into the dry ingredients. 9. Mix this thoroughly. 10. In a small dish beat the eggs and add this to the mixture, again mix thoroughly. 11. Pour the cake batter into the cake tins and place on middle shelf of oven. 12. Cook on Gas 2 for 45 minutes, then test to see if knife tip comes out clean. If not then leave for another 15 minutes or until done. 13. Leave to cool then cut into pieces to serve OR… 14. You can leave it to age and it becomes stickier, it is called “Aging of the Parkin”. It can be kept in an air tight box or tin, in a cool place but not in the fridge, for at least three days. This helps the flavour develop and the cake to become more sticky. 75

Invocation for a fte r e a ting

Arabic Transliteration: “Alhamdu lillahi hamdan kathiran tayyiban mubarakan fihi, ghayra (makfiyyin wa la) muwadda’in, wa la mustaghnan ‘anhu Rabbana”. Translation: All praise is to Allah, praise in abundance, good and blessed. It cannot (be compensated for, nor can it) be left, nor can it be done without, our Lord. [B ukhari 6/214; Tir midhi 5/507]

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By Neimo Askar Neimo Askar is a Bioscience student who is an aspiring Microbiologist and a poet. Through science and poetry, she aims to shatter the typical image of a Muslim woman. Instagram: Neimoaskar

Oh sinful soul, have you forgotten? The ink drying and the scribbles of your deeds, shown and hidden; tears and joy, Desires and achievements, Lazy days and time wasted. You’ve lost track of the record holder as he crept in your shadows, aware of every motion and the whisper of your cells. Lurking in your every step, every minute and seconds. The one that never sleeps as his job is your very description.


Ilma Magazine / Issue 17 16

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


Bushra Ferjani is an MA graduate from SOAS, University of London, in Postcolonial Studies. Her research interests include de-colonial theorising and ethics, political and social philosophy, Islamic liberation theology and the sociolinguistics of politics.

“Islam is rooted in the idea that knowledge is the most potent force on earth. The more one knows, the closer one gets to the One who knows all. The Prophet, God bless and grant him peace, loved knowledge, and it is the only prayer the Qur’an commands him to supplicate (for increase): “Say: “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge”. Hamza Yusuf, American Islamic Scholar


Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

Available to purchase from Amazon.

The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of the Prophet Muhammad By Tariq Ramadan, London: Oxford University Press (2007) A widely known and respected leading Islamic academic in the West, Ramadan offers a comprehensive insight into the ethical and spiritual teachings of one of the most influential figures not only in Islam but in human history; the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This biography encourages the reader to engage in both an emotional and educational journey in learning and understanding the Prophet’s (pbuh) character while drawing parallels between his life and the state of the world in twenty-first century. Ramadan successfully aims to demonstrate to both Muslims and non-Muslims how an orphan destined as a leader of one of the largest and most influential religions today, sought to establish a binding Muslim community through truth, justice, love, knowledge and humility. Written in short chapters, the terseness of this book draws the reader into considering the inner virtues of Muhammad (pbuh) that paved the way for fighting for social justice, freedom and dignity on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, such as, women and the poor. He stood up for the rights of women whilst encouraging their participation in all aspects of law and society as well as treating the poor with the upmost dignity. Ramadan concludes by challenging us to continue upholding the legacy of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as a role model that is owed to his character and teachings in order to inspire positive change within ourselves and our communities. “The freely offered, sincere heart of a poor, powerless individual is worth a thousand times more in the sight of God than the assiduously courted, self-interested heart of a rich one�. Ilma Magazine / Issue 17


Available to purchase from Amazon.

The Message of the Quran: Translated and Explained By Muhammad Asad, Gibraltar: Dar-al-Andalus (1980) Born Leopold Weiss (1900-1992) to Polish-Jewish parents, Muhammad Asad accepted Islam at the age of twenty six and subsequently gave way to extensive contributions on Islam, including one of the most highly acclaimed English translations and commentary of the Holy Qur’an. The seventeen years of devotion in compiling this book is emphasised in the sheer clarity of the translated text. The comprehensiveness of the footnotes which accurately contextualise the Qur’an as an ethical doctrine for Muslims, maintains that every verse and sentence is interconnected with other verses and sentences in order to strengthen one another. Asad was largely dissatisfied with previous English translations in which the message of the Qur’an often lost its ‘spirit’ through academic study when read into a Western language. Through his intensive research living among the Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula, Asad achieved a deep understanding and interpretation of the diction of the Qur’an. Yet, what made this particular commentary and translation of the Qur’an so popular, since its publishing in 1980, was Asad’s efforts in consistently reminding us about the theme of ‘Ijtihad’ (independent reasoning to understand the Divine text). It was important for Asad to emphasise on Ijtihad as an obligation for Muslims to understand their faith as best as they could, whilst seeking the guidance of religious scholars and remaining sincere to the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Asad’s book undoubtedly is a useful and instructive version of the Qur’an whilst vigilantly avoiding swaying from its message. “…its real meaning can be grasped only if we correlate every one of the statements with what has been stated elsewhere in its pages, and try to explain its ideas by means of frequent cross references, always subordinating the particular to the general and the incidental to the intrinsic. Whenever this rule is faithfully followed, we realise that the Quran is its own best commentary”. 82

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Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

Religious Programmes Showing February - March 2016 Sponsored by The Dawah Project Subscribers

The Covenant A new series exploring the pledge which all of the souls of mankind made to The Creator, prior to existing on earth; to acknowledge His Oneness and His Lordship.

Telecasts (GMT): February 2016. Times TBC

wonders of the qur’an Dr Ahsan Hanif returns in brand new episodes of this special series, in which the thematic and literary subtleties of the Qur’an are explored.

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Gems from the Qur’an Clips from the Qur’anic exegesis of Nouman Ali Khan are brought to life with fantastic animations and kinetic typography. A wonderful way to reconnect with the Holy Qur’an.

Ilma Magazine / Issue 17

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