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Live, Learn & Inspire www.thedawahproject.com Sept / Oct 2015 / Issue 15

Entering into Islam Muharram 1437

The Mosque in the 21st Century DISCOVER MAJESTIC

OMAN AND ITS CUISINE


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W AT C H

France Islam France Islam provides alternative news, current affairs and entertainment programming from an Islamic perspective. Broadcast in French, France Islam aims to appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims; ultimately conveying Islam in its true form to everyone.

www.franceislam.tv contact@franceislam.tv


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

Editorial Team Managing Editor: Anjuma Choudhury Content and Copy Editor: Aseel Saif Assistant Editor: Anum Babar Religious Content Editor: Raiyyan Clemenston Creative and Visual Director: Muhammad Abdulmateen Writers: Aseel Saif, Anum Babar, Elena Nikolovaa, Hafsa Waseela, Maryam Issadeen, Nasrine Abdirachid, Shahina Khatun and Yeota Imam Contributors: Sami Ali, Ayesha Ashiq, Samina Kiyani and Adama Munu Special thanks to our readers, supporters and Islam Channel. For more information about advertising, marketing and sponsorship, email us at ilmamag@thedawahproject.com Official website: www.thedawahproject.com 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. The Dawah Project Ltd Registered Office - 14 Bonhill Street London EC2A 4BX Company No - 06864768 Registered Charity Number: 1133424 Tel: 0207 330 1744 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm) www.facebook.com/Dawah.Project www.twitter.com/TheDawahProject www.youtube.com/user/TheDawahProjectLtd the_dawah_project


CONTENTS The Rope of Allah: Part 2

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The Dawah Project

Reflection: 14 Entering into Islam By Yeota Imam

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28 20 16 20

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The Role of the Mosques

In Conversation with Tommy Evans By Aseel Saif

By Nasrine Abdirachid

The Youth Under the Shade of Allah By Maryam Issadeen

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The Virtues of Muharram By Anum Babar


Women’s AM Corner

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By Shahina Khatun

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A Traveller’s Guide:

Discover Majestic Oman By Elena Nikolova

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Food Bites: Omani Fish Curry and Halwa By Elena Nikolova

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BODY MIND SOUL:

Swimming: A Sunnah Sport By Hafsa Waseela

Recommended Reading

74 Islam Channel Programmes Programmes Showing in October and November 2015

77 Get Involved Jobs and Volunteering Opportunities


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

The Rope of Allah: Part 2

Assalamu Alaikum Dear Readers, ‘The Rope of Allah: Part 2’ articulates the concerns of a modern Muslim such as what the 21st century mosque entails, the journey to converting to Islam, youth development and cohesion of the ‘Ummah’ (community of Muslims). Therefore, there are three groups of people which we explore; the Muslim community leaders, Muslim converts and Muslim youths. We discover that Muslims in the West, particularly in Britain have made positive contributions in these three areas, but a lot more can be done in terms of organisation and structure. The dynamic British Muslim artist Tommy Evans, further supports some of the notions discussed in this issue and gives us an insight into how the arts helped him voice his thoughts and ideas. The blessed month of Muharram 1437 is very near and it is the beginning of the Islamic New Year, a month involving significant events such as prophetic struggles, successful prophetic missions and martyrdom. We, the Muslims of all sects should unite irrespective of what Muharram means to us as this is truly a special month. The Day of Ashura relays the story of Prophet Musa or Moses (peace be upon him) and

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his victory against the tyrant Firaun (Pharaoh); we learn that during difficult times we should hold onto the rope through unified patience, prayer and determination; undeniably with Allah’s Help and Mercy that we can succeed. We must never forget that. Our sisters and some brothers have always given us positive feedback on how much they enjoy watching Islam Channel’s flagship programme ‘Women’s AM’ and thus, we have a new segment in Ilma, ‘Women’s AM Corner’ where you will be presented with a further understanding into Women’s AM for its uniqueness, relevance and importance. The new feature will give you an insight in behind the scenes behind the scenes commentary, opinions, quotes of special guests on the show and of course the presenters themselves! Certainly, you will see more collaboration between Ilma Magazine and Islam Channel. Hence, all the more reason for you to carry on reading Ilma and continue watching Islam Channel! Please send your comments and suggestions to ilmamag@thedawahproject.com We love to hear from you! Jazakumullahu Khairan The Dawah Project Team

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Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

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THE DAWAH PROJECT Registered Charity: 1133424

Will you help us educate millions around the world? We live in a world that is diverse and globalised. As many communities progress technologically, The Dawah Project embraces these advancements, 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.

We accept Sadaqah and Zakat donations.


+44(0) 207 330 1744 info@thedawahproject.com www.thedawahproject.com


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.

Islam Channel - Religious Programming

watched online via: www.islamchannel.tv and www.thedawahproject.com

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.

Radio Campaign in Africa and Asia

Islam Channel is an English speaking channel, free to air and is broadcasting in over 136 countries - Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia. The Dawah Project sponsors the Religious Programmes on Islam Channel; assists in improving the current programmes and provides new programmes throughout the year. Viewers favourite programmes such as IslamiQA; Recite; Soul Search; Live Hajj broadcast; Live Arafah day and Footsteps of Ibraheem are all sponsored by our subscribers. Islam Channel is available on Sky 806, Freeview 244 via VisionTV and can be

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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! More 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 - the fastest growing digital publishing platform in the world. Visit www.issuu. com /dawahprjct Ilma Magazine provides reflective writings on various aspects of life attracting a diverse range of readers all over the world.

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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]


KNOWLEDGE FOR THE SOUL

“Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise’. Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah (guidance)”. [Imam Malik]


Reflection ‘Entering into Islam’

By Islam Channel Producer Yeota Imam Follow Yeota on Twitter

@Ye0ta

Not a dry eye is left in a gathering when a man or woman takes the ‘Shahadah’ (declaration of faith) and proclaims openly to the world, “There is no deity except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger”. This is followed by “Allahu Akbars” (Allah is the Greatest) and hugs as this newborn sinless being enters the ‘Ummah’ (community) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This, I am sure, is a scenario many of us have witnessed first-hand, and this phenomena is not uncommon here in the United Kingdom. Ironically, following the September 11th attacks in 2011, the number of people converting to Islam began to rise in the West. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 30,000 citizens convert to Islam annually. There are about 2.4 million Muslims in Britain and studies suggest there are between 10,000 and 14,000 Caucasian converts among them. What may seem more surprising is that it is estimated that 75 percent of these converts are female.

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A misbelief on Islam that is spreading is the religion subjugates women where she is seen as a symbol of oppression. The question then arises is that why are so many women leaving cultures for one that allegedly promotes restriction? In spite of the First World celebrating itself to be a beacon of freedom and progression where the residents are free to follow what they desire, we see that the very native women, or attributed, are the ones rejecting it, instead yearning for a fulfillment that cannot be achieved when attached to the material world, and/or subject to our physical desires. According to Kevin Brice from Swansea University who has specialised in studying conversion to Islam, states in his report, A Minority within a Minority: A Report on Converts to Islam in the United Kingdom (2010), that these women are part of an intriguing trend. He explains: ‘They seek spirituality, a higher meaning, and tend to be deep thinkers’.

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And while we see this rising number of people converting to Islam, it brings to the forefront our responsibilities as Muslims which includes inviting others to the eternal truth of Islam. It was this message that all of the Prophets, from Adam to Noah, Moses to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all), spent their lives propagating. Entering into this community as a new Muslim can be exciting and liberating, but it can also become overwhelming or even isolating over time. After the initial attention and exhilaration of accepting a new way of life, a new Muslim can often find it difficult to come to terms with the gravity of what has been accepted. We see some excellent initiatives and charities in the UK, like ‘Solace’ and ‘Revert to Reality’ that have taken this responsibility upon themselves to help new Muslims with their ‘deen’ (religion). However, this does not take away the accountability that we have towards them. How many times have we called a Muslim convert that we know and ask how are they? How many times have we invited a Muslim convert to a Ramadhan gathering we have organized? How many times have we gifted a new Muslim an Eid present to make them feel part of the community? When was the last time we met up with a new Muslim for a cup of tea and conversation? We all love being present in a gathering when Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

a person first embraces the deen, but let us all remember that as well as this being a beautiful act to witness, it also brings to question our responsibility to that very person who sometimes has left everything they loved and knew, for a community who starts off being very welcoming, but can fail to even take an opportunity to pick up the phone and ask how he or she is coping. We need to urge the ‘masajid’ (mosques) to always take an active role in catering, welcoming and mentoring our new brothers and sisters in helping making the transition to fulfilling their new lives as easy as possible. The perfect example is the masjid at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), which was the hub of the community, where the laws of Islam were taught, hearts were purified, the community was established, battle plans were made, and the Islamic empire began to expand. It is in this very same way we should engage in our masajid and make these houses of Allah active and thriving environments where learning, activism and engaging with the community is always at the forefront. I take this as a reminder to myself first to make an extra effort to invite a new Muslim to tea and a nice conversation. And when we do, let us remind ourselves what we are celebrating. The fact that this person has found the sweet tranquility received through Islam, which is something that cannot be easily quantified, as Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”. [Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rad: The Thunder, 13: 28]

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Image courtesy of BlackStone Media

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THE ROLE OF THE

MOSQUEs “Do not prevent your women from going to the mosque, even though their houses are better for them”. [Reported by Abu Dawud in Al-Sunan]

Nasrine Abdirachid explores the role of mosques as the centre point for many British Muslim communities.

Mosques (masajid) around the world are revered for their breathtaking architecture and stunning designs radiating elegance and beauty. The external and internal beauty of the mosque (masjid) is but a mere reflection of Islam and its beliefs such as, ‘Tawheed’ (Oneness of Allah) and ‘Jannah’ (Paradise described in the Qur’an). A mosque is more than meets the eye; it is a place that gives ‘sakinah’ (peace) for all those that attend, a place that not only serves as a day-to-day faith booster, but also plays an important role in the lives of Muslims, being a go-to for major community functions. Islam is a religion observed in private and in public. It encourages a community spirit, with the mosque being the place that ties all these elements together. It is not unusual nowadays to view mosques as community centres as well as places of worship.

Place for Worship The most important role of a mosque is to be a place of worship. Mosques have a duty to of-

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fer a clean, quiet environment for prayer and personal reflection. It is also an obligation for Muslims to observe their five daily prayers and for able-bodied healthy men to pray these five prayers in ‘jama’ah’ (congregational prayer). The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever hears the call to prayer and does not come, there is no prayer for him (i.e., his prayer is not valid), unless he has an excuse”. [Narrated by Ibn Majah] Similarly, there is also a great emphasis on ‘Jumu’ah’ (Friday Prayer). These are the weekly congregational prayers, which includes a topical ‘khutbah’ (sermon) touching upon issues of high importance in the community and aim to make a real difference. It is a prerequisite for the sermon to be held in any common language based on the demographic of attendees, which could be Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, Turkish or English. Within most British Muslim communities, the most common translation would be English.

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The mosque is not only a place of worship for men, but also women and children. Unfortunately, there are too many tales of the mosque having been turned into a symbol of patriarchy, often refusing women to worship or not providing women’s sections. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Do not prevent your women from going to the mosque, even though their houses are better for them”. [Reported by Abu Dawud in Al-Sunan] The ‘Hadith’ (Recorded Tradition) above suggests that provisions should be made by the mosques to accommodate those women who choose to attend. Everyone knows their own spiritual capabilities. Whilst some women might find their spiritual and religious peace in the comfort of their homes, there are others who benefit more from being surrounded by other sisters, from whom they can soak up the key elements of knowledge. This knowledge is vital in educating their children and passing it on to friends and family.

Place for Guidance In this day and age, the mosques usually have an open door policy, allowing all those with queries about Islam to have a safe and judgment-free zone to ask these questions. It is an obligation of the mosque to provide answers not only to non-Muslims, but Muslims too without having fears of being looked down upon. The guidance of young men and women, who are essentially the future of Islam, is a highly important role of the mosque. The mosque committee has an obligation to the youth to ensure they are knowledgeable of the issues they face. Issues such as peer-pressure, gang-related violence, bullying and other matters that emerge from lack of extra-curricular activities need to be tackled by offering services and activities. Addressing these in youth groups and gatherings is highly important in ensuring young girls and boys remain steadfast. This guidance should be centred on ‘adab’ (manners and etiquettes). The elderly are just as needing of guidance as the younger generations. To cater to all ages is vital for any mosque to create a comfortable environment for all those who wish to attend without any fear of discrimination.

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Place for Education As well as being a place for guidance, the mosque is a place of learning and knowledge, with the majority of mosques offering lessons for children, young people and adults in Islamic and Qur’anic studies and some mosques even offer tuition services in academia. Most mosques also hold events including lectures and speeches from esteemed scholars worldwide. All these services entice Muslims to go to the mosque which acts as a multifunctional centre for the community.

Place for Communal Services The mosque is a place of support and therapy for those who seek help and is a vital part of its role, whether this be in the form of support groups for those who suffer domestic abuse or helping the elderly in the wider community; the role of the mosque is to encourage its congregation to help one another and instil within its attendees the desire to do good. The struggle against poverty in urban areas is an issue that cannot be overlooked and in recent news many mosques and Islamic organisations have set up food banks and other financial aids not just for Muslims, but for the wider community too. Such actions are in accordance with the beauty of Islam and the charitable ways a Muslim should live their lives.

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uted thereafter, not only amongst guests, but also mosque attendees. The system of course varies from culture to culture. Another service that is almost always held at a mosque is a ‘janazah’ (funeral), which is a right of every Muslim. This is the process of burial of the body, preceded by a simple ritual involving bathing and shrouding the body, followed by ‘Salah’ (prayer) for the deceased and his or her family.

Place of Community The mosque serves more than just a place of prayer. It is a place of worship in every possible sense of the word. It should bring a positive

Converts to Islam and Muslims, who have started to improve their religiosity, also require help and support, to ensure that they feel welcomed and embraced, is something the mosque and community should do. Support groups or weekly circles and activities to increase in brother and/or sisterhood could strengthen a Muslim’s outlook on Islam and their general ‘imaan’ (faith). Mosques often provide other services such as marital advice and counselling, as well as officiating marriages. The ‘Aqd al-Nikah’ service (marriage contracts) are held at local mosques with the ‘walima’ (wedding feast) being distrib-

change within people, spiritually and mentally, so that they may have the urge and motivation to bring about change in the wider community. The mosque, ideally, should be a place where all those who are able to provide a service should offer it to improve the quality and standard of living of others and for the spiritual improvement of themselves. It is a place for community connection, devoid of discrimination and alienation. A place of togetherness; brotherhood and/or sisterhood. May we be among those who have love for our mosques and strive to ensure the betterment of our communities. Ameen. Image courtesy of BlackStone Media

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Maryam Issadeen explores some of the challenges facing the Muslim youth today with reference to some of the great examples Islam has had in history to inspire us.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said to a man: “Take advantage of five before five: Your youth before your old age; your health before your illness; your wealth before your times of poverty; your spare time before you get busy; and your life before your death�. [Hakim, 4/306, and Musnad Ahmad]

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Islam is absent in the lives of many Muslim youths and in this day and age they face challenges in all regards. Their hormones are subjected to constant vice and corruption. During these periods of ‘fitnah’ (strife and trials), it is important for them to remember and reflect upon the following ‘Hadith’ (Recorded Tradition) narrated in Sahih Muslim [1031] showing the bountiful reward given to the practicing youth of Islam: “Seven are (the persons) whom Allah would give protection with His Shade on the Day when there would be no shade but that of Him (i. e. on the Day of Judgment, and they are): a just ruler, a youth who grew up with the worship of Allah; a person whose heart is attached to the mosques; two persons who love and meet each other and depart from each other for the sake of Allah; a man whom a beautiful woman of high rank seduces (for illicit relation), but he (rejects this offer by saying):” I fear Allah” ; a person who gives charity and conceals it (to such an extent) that the right hand does not

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know what the left has given: and a person who remembered Allah in privacy and his eyes shed tears”. For young Muslims growing up in the West or predominantly in a non Muslim society, the issue of “identity” comes up often in domestic politics and the media. Youth can sometimes be conflicted in whether they consider themselves Muslims of the West, or Muslims belonging to their family’s ethnic heritage. Sometimes these identities can be conflicting when one side is presented to be more “modern” or “progressive” than the other. How can we integrate into society and yet not ascribe to the customs of that society, such as socialising with the opposite gender, drinking alcohol, visiting clubs or being a part of what other youths do? Muslims need to strike a careful balance in their approach to integrating without assimilating; something which many people may struggle with. In society today we see many who consider themselves, for example, “British Pakistani Muslims” and have thus managed to reconcile

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their different backgrounds without neglecting or rejecting the different parts of their identity. An Islamic education is of paramount importance in this regard and the first place of education is the home. Islam needs to be strong in the family unit from infancy, so that even if a child attends a secular school, they are still informed about their religion. Outside of the home, efforts must be made to provide some form of Islamic education particularly as the children become older. Local mosques may have classes that would serve this purpose. Similarly, youth programs and gatherings where children could meet with fellow Muslims will help cultivate a love for the mosque as well as encourage them to keep company with like-minded people as well as scholars. Beyond formal education, children should also have access to mentors, role models or some kind of support system particularly as they enter the teenage years. This formative period can be the point to make or break the future

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of an adolescent and too many times we see young people going down the wrong path due to a lack of guidance and intervention. During a time where radicalisation, racism and gang culture, to name a few, are rife, the importance of a support system for the adolescent population is of critical need. The youth today are in need of people to look up to, to learn from and to be inspired by. Whilst there are numerous scholars who do great work in this regard such as Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan and Sheikh Omar Suleiman, sometimes the youth may not be interested in learning from someone from such a different background to them. Sometimes it may be that they need someone their age, with their hobbies and interests that they can relate to. Through this, they cultivate respect and eventually grow to be interested in the message of these youth and in the case of those promoting Islam, this can be a turning point for youth at risk.

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Young Muslims around the world today are making use of modern technology to reach out to others, to inspire them and to spread the message of Islam. Some of these youth include Mohamed Zeyara, a Canadian medical student whose YouTube videos discuss pertinent as well as humorous issues for Muslims today. Kamal Saleh, a young Australia poet whose spoken word YouTube videos have affected Muslims and people of various other faiths alike through their beauty and honesty and Nazma Khan; the young Bangladeshi American who harnessed the power of social media to create the annual “World Hijab Day”, which educates Muslims and non-Muslims alike about the significance of the headscarf in over one hundred and forty countries worldwide. There are also a number of sporting figures both worldwide and locally who have been able to express their talents while at the same time holding firmly to their faith. These include British sporting champions Moeen Ali (cricket) and Mo Farah (athletics), all of who are shining examples for our youth who have an interest in sports, which they wish to pursue. We are likewise fortunate to have numerous role models from Islamic history to look up to. Their passion and unwavering faith in Islam from a tender age is a great source of inspiration for our youth today.

Usama ibn Zaid Usama ibn Zaid was the son of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) adopted son Zaid ibn Harithah (may Allah be pleased with them both) and his wife Barakah or Umm Ayman (may Allah be pleased with her), the slave girl who served the Prophet’s (pbuh) mother Aminah bint Wahb at the age of just twenty, Usama was appointed commander of an army sent to encounter the Romans by the Prophet (pbuh). This army included noble personalities such as Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them), yet it was Usama who was named Commander-in-Chief. The Prophet (pbuh) passed away before the army’s departure and when it was suggested to his successor, the Caliph Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) that he replace Usama with an older leader, Abu Bakr was adamant on

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sticking to the decision of the Prophet (pbuh). The army proceeded with Usama as their leader and the battle was successful, allowing the Muslims to overcome the Romans for the first time.

A’ishah bint Abu Bakr The noble wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), A’ishah bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her), is a notable role model for the youth particularly for ladies, young and old. Despite being young at the time of marriage she displayed maturity, wisdom and a devotion to Islam well beyond her years. A clear example of this is when the following verse of The Noble Qur’an was revealed: “O Prophet, say to your wives, ‘If you should desire the worldly life and its adornment, then come, I will provide for you and give you a gracious release. But if you should desire Allah and His Messenger and the home of the Hereafter - then indeed, Allah has prepared for the doers of good among you a great reward’”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Ahzab: The Combined Forces, 28-29] A’ishah was the first of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) to choose the way of Allah, The Most High, and His Messenger (pbuh) and the other wives followed her example thereafter. She lived for many years after the death of her husband (pbuh) and in that time was a beacon of knowledge for those around her. Due to her proximity to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), she was able to educate others upon the finer details of his life, a legacy that lasts till today. Due to her dedication to Islam, productive use of time and knowledge and willingness to teach others, Muslims today are aware of the ‘Sunnah’ (teachings and practices) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a way that would otherwise not have been possible.

The Youth of the Cave The eighteenth chapter of the Noble Qur’an, Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) shares the remarkable story of a group of youths who were steadfast in their faith at a time when others were not. The youths were facing persecution for their

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beliefs and gathered at a cave to discuss this problem. Allah, The Most High, caused them to fall into a deep sleep for three hundred and nine years and once they awoke, the people of the time had become Believers and the youths were able to live amongst them and practice their faith as they wished. This story shows how Allah, The Most High, protects His followers; these young people were not prophets or notable religious figures, but just adolescents who believed in the true message.

Some advice for the youth from respected scholars in Islam: Strive to attain ‘taqwa’ (consciousness of Allah) at all times; if we are consistent in our religious duties it will become easier for us to bring more Islamic practices into our lives and to encourage others. Study the Seerah (biography of Prophet Muhammad, pbuh); take note of how he treated others and how he spread Islam in all situations. He was the best and most perfect example for us to learn from. Work on improving yourself by being open to correction when you are wrong and always strive to increase your knowledge. Know your boundaries and so beware of engaging in critical studies or discussions of Islam until your faith is strong enough to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Critical analyses

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of Islam can confuse a person’s faith. Get the answers you need by having a well-rounded Islamic education. This is paramount. Children should be able to ask questions as basic as “how do I know there is a God?” and have them answered comprehensively to solidify their faith. Be modest regardless of the surrounding immodesty. The Arabic word for modesty, ‘haya’ comes from the same root letters as the Arabic word for life, “hayaat”. As Mufti Ismail Menk puts it: “Modesty is not just about how we dress. What we say, how we treat others, the places we go to and the friends we choose are all part of it”. Modesty means more than just dressing a particular way. Most importantly modesty in Islam is about being shy in front of Allah, The Most High, which will in turn guide our actions. Muslims must be conscious of what their duties to their Lord are at all times and also be aware of unwittingly condoning or conforming to non-Islamic behaviour. The youth of today face new and increasingly difficult challenges each day. Whilst family and friends can make a difference in their lives, help and guidance ultimately comes from Allah, The Most High. May He grant our youth His Mercy and Guidance to the straight path, may He make the youth of today our great leaders of tomorrow, and may He make the youth of those who will be under His Shade on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.

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KNOWLEDGE FOR THE SOUL

“And He found you lost and guided (you)…” [Qur’an, Surah Ad-Duhaa: The Morning Hours, 93:7]


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should “The area where one is in the exert themselves ayer, fasting, Pillars of the Faith, pr g Quran, giving charity, readinance of Allah), doing dhikr, (remembr ying". reflection and stud By Aseel Saif

As a poet, presenter, producer, performer, pedagogist, postgraduate researcher and polymath, he has proven to be an all-rounder inspirational figure and an asset to the Muslim community in the UK and abroad. Currently, Tommy is best known for his spoken word poetry as well as developing his doctoral thesis exploring the educational arena in which migration, minorities and markets intersect. It is clear that imagination, initiative and industry are embedded in the DNA of Tommy Evans. I had the opportunity to sit with him where they delved into topics such as embracing Islam, convert pastoral care and the art scene. This is what he had to say!

Why did you embrace Islam? I am often asked this question and the expectancy is that it is a truncated narrative often identifying a road to Damascus moment; a sudden flash of inspiration wherein one recognises the truth, embraces it and implements it. I often say my journey to Islam was a decade long and the voyage afterwards was more interesting, exhilarating and turbulent. However, the journey to Islam encompasses my entire life story. I would say that I was guided and hope to remain guided. Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

Did you face any obstacles when you embraced Islam? If yes, how did you deal with them? There is going to be a necessary change in lifestyle and practises, primarily, the implementation of prayer. For a person who did not live a religious lifestyle, implementing prayer in my life was something I had to become accustomed to. There is an ‘ayah’ (verse) which is mentioned in the Qur’an: “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested”. [Surah Al-Ankabut: The Spider, 29:2] Embracing the faith requires certain challenges, test, trials and tribulations. As a more spiritually mature individual, I now reflect upon how many of those tests were necessary and how many are needless and superfluous. One has to expect a certain level of exertion to successfully implement new found faith, which I guess is applicable to any other religion or lifestyle. But I am a believer in working hard as opposed to hard work. “Hard work” is suggestive of a begrudging acceptance of current circumstances. Whereas to “work hard” denotes awareness of the reality before oneself and a willingness to face it head on. 29


Did these challenges put you off at some point? The challenges never put me off in my commitment to the faith, but I would be lying if I said I did not find the challenges hard. My area of contention, now as someone who is older in worldly and spiritual years, is that many of those challenges did not need to occur, especially in finding alternatives to illicit lifestyles when there are so many ‘Halal’ (permissible) options available, especially in London. The areas where one should exert oneself are the Pillars of the Faith, prayer, fasting, giving to charity, reading Qur’an, doing ‘dhikr’ (remembrance of Allah), reflection and studying. All of which leads to the perfection of character, which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged. This is what the ‘deen’ (religion) is really about.

Ramadhan tends to be a time for many converts to feel a greater part of the ‘Ummah’ (community) in spite of their challenges. What was yours like? Fasting was something I had to get used to which I had never done before. As someone with a disciplined character, my rigorous work ethic prepared me for the lifestyle in Islam and being able to implement the pillars of the faith. Upon reflection, I might have been slightly naive before accepting Islam as I was not aware as to what embracing the religion would require and how much exertion there would be. But then that may not be something specific to religion and is applicable to any new lifestyle. Nevertheless, I initially felt more isolation and loneliness as a New Muslim during Ramadhan; I had no family to break fast or celebrate Eid with.

As a convert, what are your thoughts on pastoral care of new Muslims, particularly British Muslims? New Muslims really do need exemplary pastoral care and I found that the specific mosque I initially attended was accustomed to dealing with and understanding converts. It does not mean their approach was free from flaws, which goes for all of us, but it was the best I found at the time. Whereas I felt like an outsider in the 30

other mosques I attended, mainly on account of cultural incongruity; this is what I meant earlier when discussing “unnecessary challenges”. One’s initial exertion as a new or newly practising Muslim should be focused on implementing the Pillars of Islam as opposed to “shifting scenes”, changing cultures or lifestyle. Ideally, one would hope for some empathy amongst heritage Muslim communities and understanding that converts will make mistakes. Although we are expected to have ‘haya’ (modesty) for the sake of Allah, justice for the sake of Allah and consciousness of Allah; sometimes we should still be patient with the faux pas of new or newly practising Muslims. Education is key in fostering this understanding and emotional intelligence as is patience with heritage Muslim communities on the part of converts.

Where did you go to learn about Islam? Prior to embracing the religion, I researched Islam from 1995 to 2005. My mother was a product of the 1960s and so she was very politically active. We had books lining the walls of the house. I was always encouraged to have an inquisitive approach to life. Though, I probably learnt more in my first year of being a Muslim than in the previous decade. Beyond the mosque, I visited libraries; especially after leaving the music industry so I had a lot of free time. I spent a lot of my waking hours in the British Museum library, which was amazing; reading many books to edify myself in the faith, although being a sincere, reflective and geeky person, at times, prompted more questions which hopefully I have found answers to now!

You have a strong passion for Islamic studies, which is embedded into the teachings of the Qur’an. What does the Qur’an mean to you? The Qur’an is the foundation of our faith. It is as simple as that. I am also learning Arabic and it is an ongoing process as is learning English. I would not claim I have mastered Arabic one little bit or claimed to be doing enough, however one of the small pleasures in my life is reading Qur’an. The irony is those skills I spent a good decade developing as a musician are transferraIlma Magazine / Issue 15


ble and are equally applicable in Qur’anic recitation. That epiphany occurred when I began studying ‘tajweed’ (correct recitation) because I realised reading and reciting in a slow melodious tone utilised similar vocal techniques I had learnt and developed as a rapper such as intonation, timing, voice projection and breath control.

The arts have had a clear influence in your life and even in your journey to embracing Islam. Thus, how were you introduced into the arts scene and who influenced you? Those pillars were in place before my birth, so I am very much indebted to my family. I grew up in a creatively literate household, a household that cherished culture, loved learning, relished reading, and was enthusiastic towards entertainment and the arts. It meant that it was the norm for me to indulge in certain creative pursuits. Whereas your “average” young Muslim in the UK, perhaps a child of first generation migrants living in a working class household, striving to establish themselves in a sometimes hostile society, does not necessarily have the luxury of consuming, curating or creating arts as I did; for example, being taken to the theatre as my grandparents took me to see the opera or painting with my father. I was enthusiastic about the arts from a young age, I had the privilege to study art as an A level, alongside English literature, rather than having to take science or maths. When it came to tertiary level education, I could tell my mother I wanted to go to Art College and she was happy with it. Therefore, I was a product of very auspicious and fortunate circumstances, where I could pursue my creative dreams and that has not been the case for a lot of young Muslims I have met, although the landscape does seem to be changing.

To conclude, how would you advise Muslims who want to pursue the arts and yet remain in the parameters of Islam?

cagey or paranoid about that because the circle of Halal is wider than the circle of ‘Haraam’ (forbidden). We enter the arts with optimism, positivity and productivity; we look for the good. But the caveat is we must always refer to people of knowledge first and see what they have to say on such matters. One might be surprised to know that there is a lot of guidance from our scholars with regards to arts, media and communication. Therefore, I would say the key thing to think about when getting into the arts scene is that one should look at what their passion is and then be honest with themselves. Ask important questions such as, are you good at it and can you become good at it? To employ the “10K rule” advocated by Malcolm Gladwell, one has to invest ten thousand hours into a discipline, which equates to ten years to obtain mastery of one’s craft. Are you prepared to put in that level of work? ---Tommy Evans lasting words of advice are truly ones to remember. They are equally applicable for not only those budding artists out there but also to all of us striving to be better in our chosen field and of course ‘imaan’ (faith). Like Evans said, embracing Islam is an ongoing process and a lifetime journey we should all take pleasure in and share with others.

Watch ‘Privileged’ here:

Follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyA_ManEvans

Whatever passion, pursuit, vocation and interest we choose to follow, we should always check if it falls in the parameters of the lawful. We do not have to be excessively negative, Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

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THE VIRTUES OF

MUHARRAM “The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab”. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 004, Book 054, Hadith 419]

Anum Babar explores the virtues of Muharram, including the Day of Ashura.

The Islamic Calendar “He is the One who rendered the sun radiant, and the moon a light, and He designed its phases that you may learn to count the years and to calculate. God did not create all this, except for a specific purpose. He explains the revelations for people who know”. [Qur’an, Surah Yunus: Prophet Jonah, 10:5] The Islamic calendar consists of twelve months in a year of 354 days, which is used to determine important dates such as ‘Ramadhan’ (the month of fasting) and ‘Dhul Hijjah’ (the month for pilgrimage to Makkah). ‘Muharram’ originates from the word ‘hurum’

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meaning ‘forbidden’ in Arabic and it is the first month in the Islamic calendar, which differs from the Western Gregorian calendar. This is because the Islamic calendar is based on phases of the moon, thus the calendar calculates that a complete month is when the moon becomes full. Each month is approximately twenty nine days and thus, shorter than the Gregorian calendar by eleven to twelve days in a year. This is why sacred months such as Ramadhan, Hajj and Muharram are subject to change; as a result arriving earlier each year. It is stated in the Holy Qur’an: “The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve, so

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15


ordained by Allah, the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so wrong not yourselves therein”. [Qur’an, Surah At-Tawbah: The Repentance, 9:36] Throughout Surah At-Tawbah, the four sacred months are mentioned; Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab, whereby the act of repentance and the prevention of sin are heavily stressed. “The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab”. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 004, Book 054, Hadith 419]

The Essence of Muharram It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadhan are in the Month of Allah, which you call Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer”. [Muslim, 1163] The month of Muharram holds many virtues and opportunities for Muslims to become closer to Allah, The Most Merciful. The tenth day of Muharram is marked as a virtuous day; this is because historically a great deal was accomplished on this day. One instance is when Prophet Musa or Moses (pbuh) and his people triumphed against the oppression of Firaun (Pharaoh), by the will of Allah, Firaun and his people were drowned, and as a result of this victory, Prophet Musa (pbuh) observed fast on this day as a symbol of gratitude to Allah, The Almighty. According to Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) completed ‘hijrah’ (migration from Makkah to Madinah), he found the Jewish community were also fasting on the tenth day of Muharram out of commemora-

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

tion for when Prophet Musa (pbuh) and his followers were saved by Allah by being able to cross the parting of the Red Sea. Upon hearing this, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “We are more closely related to Musa than you” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura”. [Abu Dawud]

Fasting on the Day of Ashura Fasting on the Day of Ashura (tenth day) is encouraged for Muslims in Muharram as a sign of gratitude to Allah, The Most Generous. The Prophet (pbuh) also suggested for us to fast either a day after or a day before the Day of Ashura. It is reported that Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased him) used to say: “We should fast on two days: the ninth and tenth of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community”. [Al-Tirmidhi] It was also narrated that Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about fasting on the Day of Ashura. He said, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day (the Day of Ashura)”.  [Bukhari, 2006; Muslim, 1132] One’s good and bad deeds should be monitored throughout Muharram, increasing one’s deeds in the first and minimising the latter. This could be done by reflecting upon your actions and learning about what is permitted and forbidden in the ‘deen’ (religion), what pleases Allah and brings you close to Him, and what displeases Allah and takes you away from Him. Islam is a source of unification, acceptance and brotherhood. When you seek knowledge, spread it to others and when you pray, pray for others. For we are the blessed ‘Ummah’ (community) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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Getting to know A’ishah (RA)

Raising Boys Learning from Imam Ghazali

Depression

Self Defence

Feminism in Islam

Islam in Africa

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corner Women’s AM is a unique and exciting show for the modern Muslimah. By Islam Channel Presenter Shahina Khatun. Visit Shahina’s blog: www.lyricallyoutspoken.wordpress.com

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eota Imam, the Director, Series Producer and Ilma writer, explains: “Through this show Islam Channel has put the voice of the Muslim woman on the map. With the media’s scrutiny of Islam and in a society where seeing the Muslim woman as a subjugated symbol of oppression is the norm; Women’s AM shatters that misconception with one blow”. This team of strong-minded Muslim women have hit the screen to speak publicly for themselves in a world where they are constantly spoken for. With Women’s AM we are seeing women of different ages and backgrounds intellectually discussing the news, topical issues and Islam, and how it is as relevant today as it was 1400 years ago. Yeota Imam further explains the need to have Muslim women on screen who are more representative of the community, especially in Britain: “It is these Muslim women who truly represent the ‘Ummah’ (community of Muslims); women who are dynamic, intelligent and confident and fiercely proud of their Islamic identity”. She proudly continues: “We have had feedback from all over the world, from Nigeria to France, from women who are excited that finally their voices and opinions are being represented on the screen”.

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What also makes this women’s show unique is the fact that the presenters and panellists are either born or raised in the UK. Besides, their passion for Islam and having their voices heard is no less than anywhere else in the world. Nazia Jalali, who is an architect and author of a children’s novel ‘The House of Ibn Kathir’, is also from the original Women’s AM team from season one. She describes Women’s AM as: “A show that addresses challenges affecting Muslim women living in the West as well as celebrating their achievements and strengths; it is a show that is breaking stereotypes and misconceptions and building bridges towards understanding the role of women in Islam”. Every show invites a guest as part of the panel in relation to the subject being discussed. The guest’s backgrounds vary from being a full-time mother, home-schooler, psychologist, doctor, teacher, youth worker; Muslim women who are active within the community, sisters from all walks of life empowering other sisters. Following the success of season one of Women’s AM, season two was launched, due to huge public demand with many new faces holding a host of experiences and talents to their names.

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One of these talented new faces includes Nusrat Lodda’s, a convert to Islam from Roman Catholicism. She is an avid blogger and writes especially on issues pertaining to gender, race and society. She is keen on exploring issues that affect people individually and collectively, with the aim of “fostering a conducive environment for dialogue on these issues to occur. This is the purpose of Women’s AM, to provide a platform for women to engage in discourse, and making a positive contribution to an informed, tolerant and cohesive society. It has truly been unique in providing alternative perspectives, and an invaluable insight into societal issues that affect Muslim women living in the West. The experience I have had as a new member of the Women’s AM team has been one of insight and intrigue at every corner. I have been privileged to have the experience of working with sisters who show zeal and deep passion for Islam but are also keen to get to the heart of matters affecting the community. With each of my colleagues being unique, I feel that each minute in their presence is an opportunity to learn more and develop a closer bond”. Nusrat, who is from a legal background, goes onto say; “Women’s AM continues to have a profound impact upon members of society, both within the Muslim community and amongst the wider society. One encounter that really warmed my heart and further emphasised this impact was when a non-Muslim woman rang up the show to tell us how despite not being Muslim she benefitted from the discussions we had, even complimenting on our hijabs! Bless her!” Aired live, four days a week, Women’s AM is not only produced by a woman, the entire show is put together by women (with the exception of our very supportive camera-men!). Unlike mainstream channels, the team of presenters support in researching, scripting, guest find-

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ing and anything else that is required in making this show happen. The ideas and topics discussed on the show are from the sisters themselves, breaking the notion or norm of Muslim women being dictated by men. Whilst the media generally likes to portray the contrary, here on Women’s AM we see the Muslim woman expressing herself, defending and propagating Islam without calling for it to be reformed in order for her to seem palatable for the ‘modern’ world. Rather Women’s AM attempts to clarify that Muslim women thrived in all fields of life, solely due to Islam. Women were leading scholars in various Islamic sciences, flourished in specialist areas like medicine, astronomy and education. We know the famous example of Fatima Al-Fihri who in 859 CE, established the first university the world has ever known, located in Fez, Morocco. The list of achievements of Muslim women is endless. And history is witness to what seems amazing today, to be the norm in the Islamic world. Yeota describes the team as: “…extraordinary in their dedication and commitment to making Women’s AM a success. Most of the team do not even come from a media background, yet are impressive in understanding how the world of media works. Their confidence in being in front of the camera and being able to discuss any given topic under the sun does not come easy to everyone!” Women’s AM is a show created by Muslim women, about women, for women and of course brothers too, if they want to learn. Tune into Women’s AM on Islam Channel Sky 806 Live at 11am Mon-Thurs (UK Time) Repeat at 11pm Mon-Thurs (UK Time)

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

L I V E S T R E A M I N G O N L I N E AT

www.islamchannel.tv I S L A M C H A N N E L I S AVA I L A B L E O N


KNOWLEDGE FOR THE SOUL

The power of du’a: “When Satan asked for respite until the Day of Resurrection, Allah granted it to him. Satan’s prayer can be answered, yours can be too”. [Anonymous]


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Ilma Magazine / Issue 15


A TRAVELLER’S GUIDE BODY MIND SOUL FOOD BITES POETIC VOICES RECOMMENDED READING Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

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A Traveller’s Guide:

Discover Majestic

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

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Mattrah Souq City of Nizwa Falaj Darris Town of Misfat Al Abreyeen Wadi Shab Valley Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

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Country Profile

OMAN Officially known as ‘The Sultanate of Oman’, is one of the most majestic and hospitable countries in the world. It is situated in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. The population is approximately four million and half of whom are expatriates living in the country. In 2012, Muscat was named the second best city to visit, taking centre stage for cultural events, a wide option of aquatic activities as well as new luxurious accommodations.

Country: Sultanate of Oman Capital: Muscat Major Languages: Arabic, English Major Religion: Islam Currency: Omani Riyal Climate: Very hot and humid summers reaching up to 40 degrees celsius and pleasant winters bordering a Mediterranean climate rarely climbing much above 30 degrees Celsius. Best time to Travel: Depending on the individual, the best recommended time to travel for a summery breeze and winter sun is between November and March. This is to allow tourists to explore easily, preventing them from feeling too hot or cold. Or if you do not mind the Omani heat, travel between August and October. 44

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Muscat Nizwa Al Dharkhiliya Sharqiyah

Overview For many people, Oman is a mystery, as research shows that the most popular destinations to travel to in the Middle East are the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. Thus, Oman is yet to be discovered by exploratory travellers and in recent years the country has been making great efforts to become a tourist destination for Muslim and non-Muslim travellers alike. Oman has a rich historical narrative due to its empirical governance under the Persians and Greeks. Islam was adopted during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the year 628 AD. From the 17th century until 19th century, Oman had its own diminutive empire particularly in East Africa. Therefore, Omani culture is a hybrid as it shares characteristics of its Arab neighbours and due its own expansion from the Swahili coast to the Indian Ocean. The deeply rooted history has been the driving force for developing Oman’s

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tourism industry and the number of tourists, visiting this pearl, increases annually. The country also has modern oil reserves. In 2010 they came first as the most improved nation, giving priority to the education of their citizens. Oman is considered as a peaceful nation with a high per capita income and strong currency. Oman has good travel links globally, so travelling from Europe to Oman is relatively simple, either with their national carrier Oman Air or with other Middle Eastern carriers. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha are only an hour’s flight away. Moreover, Oman is easily accessible by car from the UAE, approximately four and a half hours away. Visas are available on arrival for majority of the nationalities and they cost up to twenty pounds per person. Most Omanis are Muslims with seventy five percent of the population following the Ibadi sect, but it is not very different from mainstream Islam. Oman is very tolerant of other religions; in fact it has places of worship catering for Christians, Hindus and many other religions. 45


Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque In my opinion, the first place you should visit in Oman is The Sultan Qaboos Mosque situated in Muscat. The mosque is magnificent and immaculate with beautiful gardens and a serene ambiance. It was completed in 2001 by Sultan Qaboos and can hold up to twenty thousand worshippers. The mosque includes a library where you can spend some time reading wonderful books on Islam, history and science. There are also tours available in English and Arabic for those who would like to explore the mosque and learn more about the rituals and the surrounding areas. Non-Muslim visitors should adhere to modest clothing and cover their arms and legs.

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Mattrah Souq Mattrah souq is located in the Mattrah area close to the oldest port of Oman and before the discovery of oil there, it was the centre of commerce. The ‘souq’ (open air-market place) is close to the corniche with a nice view of the sea and is visited every year by thousands of ‘cruise ship’ tourists. Muscat is a popular destination for cruise ships and Mattrah is the main port area. In this area, you can find many traditional Arabian rugs, silver, gold, traditional diggers, exotic spices and much more. The shop owners will urge you to come in and buy and of course haggling is part of the tradition. So make sure you do not settle for the first given price!

uq

So Mattrah Oman

City of Nizwa The city of Nizwa is located approximately 140 km from Muscat. It is one of the oldest cities in Oman and the former capital; a hub for trade, religion, arts and education. It is an easy drive from Muscat to Nizwa; you can plan it as a day trip or even spend a few days exploring the area. When in Nizwa, visit the Nizwa Forts which is one of the most visited national and cultural monuments in the country. For some authentic shopping, do not forget to visit the Nizwa Souq, which is the second largest open air market after Mattrah Souq in Muscat.

CITY OF Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

NIZWA

Oman

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Falaj Darris Whilst you are in Nizwa, pay a visit to Falaj Darris in the Al Dakhiliyah region, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. This is one of the largest ‘falaj’ in Oman. A ‘falaj’ is a traditional water delivery system, which came to existence as far as two thousand years ago. Even today, aflaj (plural) are extremely important due to their engineering ingenuity for maintaining human and agricultural life. You can spend some time in the park surrounding the falaj and enjoy a glimpse of greenery whilst much of the area is dry. It really helps you appreciate the gifts that our Lord has provided us with

Falaj Da rris Oman

Town of Misfat Al Abreyeen Whilst in the region of Al Dharkhiliya, take the time to visit a hidden gem of archeology, the town of Misfat Al Abreyeen. This is by far my favourite place in Oman and astonishingly it is not very well known to tourists. The rocky canyon town of Misfat Al Abriyeen is close to the rural town of Al Hamra, which will give you a glimpse into how people used to live in ancient times and how they sustained themselves. The most striking features are the ancient mud houses perched on top of the mountains. There are date palm trees and greenery on the mountain which is a rare sign for Oman’s blessed landscape. The reason behind this greenery is due to the falaj system that runs through the village that ensures the sustenance of the inhabitants.

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isfat Al M f o n Tow en Abreye

I would highly recommend you spend a few hours with your family in this area and take a short history lesson too, as the environment could have not been more befitting. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and you take plenty of bottled water as the area is hilly and there is a lot of walking required.

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Wadi Shab Valley Wadi Shab is a must see for any tourist who wants to attend a day trip in Oman. Unfortunately, I discovered this magnificent valley too late! It is located in the Al Sharqiyah region and is less than two hours’ drive from Muscat. There are some hotels available and camping sites for those who are more adventurous. ‘Wadi’ in Arabic means valley or dry riverbed, which contains water only during times of heavy rains. According to Lonely Planet, Wadi Shab is one of the most popular and breathtaking destinations in Oman. You can see waterfalls, greenery, terraced plantations and aquamarine pools which you can discreetly swim in. There is also a boat trip that can take you around the wadi making it easier for you to see up close the beauty of the nature. Thereafter, there is an option for you to visit a partially submerged cave. If you would like to visit the main attraction of the waterfall and cave then you will require a thirty minutes hike and also a swim through the natural pools in order to reach the waterfall via the submerged cave.

Valley b a h S i Wad Oman

Oman is one of my favourite Gulf countries to visit in the Middle East. This is because, not only does the country contain a great deal of traditions, it is also modernized, but not at the expense of its rich cultural and natural beauty. I highly recommend you visit Oman whilst its traditions and historical sites are still intact. It is certainly the perfect honeymoon destination! One of the blessings of being a Muslim is that we are encouraged to travel and admire the beautiful nature Allah, The Most High, created for mankind as a Mercy and Remembrance of Him. One of the best aspects of travelling as Muslims is wherever you pray, each and every place will testify about you on the Day of Judgment that we have been there and praised our Lord. Let’s make more and more places testify for us rather than against us, In shaa Allah (if Allah wills).

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KNOWLEDGE FOR THE SOUL

“Regret is repentance”. [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Sunan Ibn Majah, 4252]


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Swimming: A Sunnah Sport

Hafsa Waseela is in the medical field and is continuing to pursue her studies to reach her ultimate vocation to become a Lecturer specialising in Oncology and Cancer. She is an artist, poet and 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 www.hafsaabbas.com

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Swimming is an essential all-round skill for everyone to have and fantastic way to maintain our health! As a form of exercise and sport, swimming works every bone and muscle in the human body without the harsh impacts of other exercise activities. In addition to increasing brain activity, promoting weight control, and a healthier heart; all of which prolong life. Islam has put emphasis into caring for our body, mind and soul, in order for us to be healthy and fulfil our purpose in life, which is to worship Allah, The Most High, and perform good deeds. When we look at the wonders of the creation, such as the intricate functions of the human body, it gives us a sense of gratitude and encourages us to maintain our health and well-being. By staying active, one is able to sustain this and maximises our opportunities to serve Allah, The Most High, in the best possible manner.

‘The awrah of a man is the area between the navel and the knee. This does not include the navel and the knee’’.

Swimming is a Sunnah Sport!

[Al-Majmoo, 3/173; Al-Mughni, 2/286]

Did you know swimming is amongst the recommended sports, encouraged by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? “Everything which is not the remembrance of Allah is play and jest except for four: a person walking between the archer and the target, horse riding, playing with one’s family, and learning to swim”. [Reported by Al-Tabarani] So what are the recommended sports besides swimming that our Beloved Prophet (pbuh) encouraged us to learn? • • • • •

Archery Horse riding Running Wrestling Stick Fighting

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Modesty and Swimming It should be noted that swimming should occur amongst one’s own gender, due to reasons of exposing the ‘awrah’ (areas which are deemed impermissible for those of the opposite sex to see, except in the sight of their spouse), and the danger of free-mixing in unlawful and unregulated circumstances. ‘’The awrah of a man is the area between the navel and the knee. This does not include the navel and the knee’’. [Al-Majmoo, 3/173; Al-Mughni, 2/286] The awrah of a woman in front of her ‘mahram’ (unmarriageable kin), is her whole body except for the face, hair, neck, forearms and feet, whilst for non-mahram men, it is everything except her face and hands (scholars disagree on the permissibility of showing the feet). Women must also dress modestly around other women, which is usually to cover from the shoulders to the knees. However, there is no awrah between a married couple. It must be noted that for medical reasons your awrah can be uncovered. Therefore, I recommend you visit your local leisure centre where few classes are catered for women-only sessions with a female instructor, parent with children sessions and other types of sessions, whether you are a beginner or not! 54

So what are the advantages of swimming? Benefit 1: Good for your heart! It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Two research studies were conducted by the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, USA, whose results highlighted the importance of swimming. One study compared various measures of cardiovascular health across 46,000 male and female swimmers, runners and walkers. Results show that both swimmers and those who ran had better levels of blood pressure and cholesterol as well as the cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute. The second study focused on deaths of 40,547 men aged 20 to 90 years old. 2 percent of these subjects were swimmers, followed by 8 percent were runners, 9 percent were walkers and 11 percent did not exercise at all.

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Benefit 2: It keeps your weight under control! Swimming can allow you to lose calories between the ranges 500 to 650 per hour which depends on two factors: •

How efficiently one swims - This can be achieved by increasing the length and intensity of swimming gradually which consequently increase fitness levels. Decreasing the drag in the water and improving propulsion in the water are two tips that allow one to swim efficiently. ‘Drag’ is defined as the ability to move something to pull something else along with it. ‘Propulsion’ is the process of pushing forward. Water is less dense than air, thus by dragging the water less, will allow one to improve their propulsion. How can you improve it? This can be done by conducting stroke mechanics. For instance, rolling from side to side with each arm stroke. Buoyancy – This is defined as when one enters the water, they will find that their weight allows them to press down into the water displacing a proportion of the water. The water presses back, pushing the individual up. As long as the water in which one’s body displaces weighs heavier than the actual individual, the individual will float. This is known as Archimedes’ Law.

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The buoyancy of water has two effects: 1. Reduces the body weight by 75 to 90 percent 2. Stress surrounded the joints, muscles and bones are also minimised

Benefit 3: It gives you a positive mind-set! In the USA, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that swimming has a number of benefits emotionally and mentally: a) Improves the mood; b) Lowers anxiety and depression, especially in women with ‘fibromyalgia’; a chronic neurosensory disorder. Amongst the symptoms obtained is; joint stiffness, tiredness and muscle pain where the pain is transported to different locations in the body; c) The mental health of pregnant women is improved; d) It improves family connections especially families with developmental disabilities.

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Benefit 4: It could save a life! Knowing how to swim is an essential skill to have, for instance, if you saw someone drowning you would be able to save them, In shaa Allah (if Allah wills).

Benefit 5: It is good for any joint pain or Arthritis! Water walking is amongst the exercises one can do in the pool. For individuals with Arthritis (all forms), it aids the joints because the water’s buoyancy supports the body fat and mass, which lowers the risk and protects one from stress and strain on the joint and minimises pain. It also strengthens the muscles. Individuals with ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis’ (long term pain in the joints) have an improved health after participating in hydrotherapy. ‘Hydrotherapy’ is an alternative medicine that involves using water to relieve pain and aid in treatment.

Benefit 7: Ideal for when it is summer! When it is hot, swimming provides more cooling, as the movements are smooth and rhythmic. Drinking water also aids in keeping our skins cool and bodies hydrated! This is essential as the cells in our bodies require water, in order to function efficiently.

Benefit 7: Fun for the elderly! It improves their quality of life and lowers disability. It also improves the bone health of post-menopausal women. Post-menopausal is the period after menopause (when the menstruation stops). Despite all the benefits of swimming; it is also best to get consultation from your doctor before starting any exercise.

Benefit 6: A remedy for the injured! In certain circumstances, the advice that is given to injured athletes is for them to swim to maintain their fitness level. Research has shown that swimming is a great source for back or spine injuries.

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How do I start swimming or encourage my family to get involved?

Also find out about the price plans at your local leisure centre, where an annual leisure card or swim pass is available, to save you money in comparison to pay as you go.

Tip 3

Tip 1

Take a friend!

Do not be scared and take the first step!

If you are a brother, take a male friend and if you are a sister, take a female friend.

The first few lessons are tailored to your ability and are designed in such a way that it builds your confidence.

This may encourage you to go swimming more often and also keep you motivated!

Tip 4 Take your children! Swimming is an activity open to all ages especially children, it is a time where they can relax and utilise their energy in a positive way.

A pair of goggles could be worn in order to see under water and as a means of protection from the chemicals that are inserted into swimming pools.

Tip 2 Make it one of your weekly duties! Start off with an hour a week, whether it is after work or during the weekends.

Now you know the benefits of swimming; when do you plan on going? Enjoy your swim and the goodness that comes with it!

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 and Sahih Al-Muslim]


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Elena Nikolova is the creator of MuslimTravelGirl.com She helps Muslims travel the world in style without breaking the bank. Follow Elena on Twitter

@MuslimTravelGrl

Omani Fish Curry and Halwa Omani hospitality is not complete without a delicious food feast. The people of Oman take pride in their diverse cuisine and culinary influences, either borrowed from their neighbours or authentically their own.

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

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main course

Omani Fish Curry Preperation Time: 20 mins cooking Time: 40 mins

Due to Oman’s maritime history, their shores have plenty of fresh fish, shrimps and other sea delights at their disposal, which are either cooked or grilled. As a consequence, seafood is regarded as a specialty, and thus, regularly presented in family feasts, especially for guests. The Omani Fish Curry is a traditional and standard dish that can easily be prepared at home for friends and family. The curry has been influenced by South Asian flavours and yet it is incorporated into the Omani cuisine with a distinctive taste.

Main Ingredients (Serves 6)

Accompaniment

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

• Steamed Rice

2 red onions, chopped 3 red chilies, chopped 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil 6 cardamom pods 8 cloves 2 cinnamon sticks 1 tsp black peppercorns 1 tbsp ground cumin 2 tsp ground coriander 1⁄2 tsp turmeric 400 ml coconut milk 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 to 1⁄2 kg fish of your choice cut into bite-size pieces • 1 cup of mixed vegetables (optional) - you can use any fresh or frozen vegetables such as peas, carrots and peppers • 2 to 3 tbsp of lime juice • Salt to taste

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Preparation 1. Use a food chopper to process the onions, chillies, ginger and garlic until they turn into paste. 2. Heat oil in a deep pan and lightly fry the paste until it becomes a light brown colour. 3. Add the dried spices and cook for a further one minute. 4. Add the coconut water, sugar and half a cup of water, then simmer for thirty minutes. 5. If you are using frozen vegetables, include it into the pan and cook until it is soft. 6. Add the fish, then cover and cook for five to eight minutes in low heat until the fish is cooked. 7. Remove the fish from the pan, and then add the lime juice and season with salt to taste. Enjoy the curry with hot steamed rice!

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dessert

Omani Halwa Preperation Time: 20 mins cooking Time: 1 hr 40 mins Oman’s traditional dessert is ‘halwa’ which means ‘dessert’ or ‘sweet’ in Arabic. Halwa can be found in the home or at restaurants and it is usually served with Arabic black coffee (kahwa). Halwa is usually served during special occasions such as weddings and Eid. Traditionally, halwa is cooked by males of the family due to heavy stirring that is involved. Even today, halwa preparation and cooking is very much regarded as a man’s job whether at home or in restaurants. The process of making halwa is tiring due to the constant mixing required, however the results are extremely rewarding, as the end product is delicious.

Main Ingredients (Serves 8) • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

2 cups tapioca starch 1 cup and a half of water 4 cups sugar 4 cups water ½ tsp red food colouring 5 to 6 saffron strands ½ cup ghee (Indian butter) 1 tsp rose essence 2 tbsp rose water ½ tsp cardamom powder ½ tsp nutmeg powder 1tbsp toasted sesame seeds 20 cashew nuts 20 pistachio flakes 20 almonds

Preparation 1. Place the tapioca starch in a bowl and add the water and food colour. Mix well so there are no lumps. 2. Blanch and sliver the almonds. 3. In a nonstick pan add the cashew nuts and slivered almonds; roast them for a few seconds. Then remove from the pan and keep aside. 4. Make the sugar syrup. Place the sugar in a large cooking pot with four cups of water and

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

boil the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. 5. Keep the sugar syrup on the stove warm and add the tapioca starch mixture. Keep stirring whilst you reduce the heat. 6. Add the nutmeg powder, cardamom and saffron strands. 7. Continue stirring the halwa until it starts turning into a mixture and lathers. 8. Slowly start adding the unused ghee while you stir continuously. 9. As the halwa is being cooked, it will become harder and harder to stir the mixture. Do not give up and continue stirring. This is when you may need a helping hand! 10. Add the rose essence and rose water as well as the sesame seeds and continue stirring the mixture well. 11. Stir for two minutes and add the roasted nuts and almonds that you prepared earlier. Mix well. 12. Turn off the heat and your halwa is ready! You can enjoy hot halwa in a bowl or you can let it cool down until it becomes hard enough to cut into pieces. If you would like to enjoy halwa cold, then you will need a greased tray where you can evenly spread the halwa using a spatula. Next, garnish the halwa with pistachios flakes and nuts, and then finally cut into your desired sized pieces and serve. Enjoy your authentic Omani Halwa!

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KNOWLEDGE FOR THE SOUL

“We know that you, (O Muhammad), are saddened by what they say. And indeed, they do not call you untruthful, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers reject. And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over (the effects of) denial, and they were harmed until Our victory came to them. And none can alter the words of Allah. And there has certainly come to you some information about the (previous) messengers”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-An’nam: The Cattle, 6:33-34]


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A Little Prayer If the path that I walk on, Is made of thorns and burning coals And leads me to your Mercy Let me not flinch, but walk towards you gracefully. Let me not complain and let me not regret The sacrifices that I’ve made in your name For those sacrifices are not even a drop In the ocean of Mercy that you have bestowed. If the path that I walk on, Is on the truth that you have chosen Grant me the strength to uphold and carry its flag Let me not cower or fall in the face of tyranny or oppression, But walk towards you… gracefully. If my struggles and pain are a test from you my Lord Then make every pain a pleasure to bear.

By Islam Channel Presenter Shahina Khatun Visit Shahina’s blog: www.lyricallyoutspoken.wordpress.com


Wallahi:

Wall

A phrase that’s sprayed From the lips like an AK Our mouths are machine guns Our words ricochet Each consonant a bullet Every vowel a grenade Explosive exclamations But our flesh isn’t grazed We cause damage with language Can’t see the decay The tongue is a tool A two-sided blade A knife that can slice Same time it can slay So think, Before you open your mouth and you say…  

Wallahi:

We say it freely it’s easy A CD stuck on play Daily and weekly Like everything’s OK Once rarely suffices: It’s again and again We just can’t refrain From saying this refrain We’re stuck in our ways Unwilling to change It’s light on our tongues But how heavy it weighs When we swear by Allah The matter is grave Bur our oaths are a joke We turned praise into play

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We don’t care we swear We’re off out to rave We don’t care we swear We’ll link some girls, hey! We don’t care we swear We’ll smoke Shisha and blaze We don’t care we swear While we lie and defame

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15


lahi:

Wallahi:

Allah is our Lord And we are His slaves Destination: Akhira The Dunya’s a cage This life is a test Who’ll get the best grade? There will come a time soon When we’ll rest in our graves Then we’ll be questioned On the day that we’re raised All that we did And said on display Judgment is passed It’s the garden or blaze So think, Before you open your mouth and you say…  

Wallahi. By Tommy Evans

Wallahi:

Allah sees all our deeds Do you not feel afraid? To say, “Wallahi” While you disobey The creator who gave You a mouth and a brain But you separate the two No connection is made  Between the phrases you say And the way you behave Don’t you find this contradiction A little bit strange? I guess we’re all guilty All shades: brown to beige We don’t care, we swear Cause we’ve no sense of shame  

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

Follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyA_ManEvans

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Secrets to a Successful Marriage:

Every Muslim Couples Guide to a Long and Contented Married Life By Afshan Khan (Umm Asim), London: Ta-Ha Publishers (2015) An amazing bundle of practical advice tackling problems that many Muslim couples face in marriage. Written by a qualified and Islamic relationship counsellor, the apparent insight into marital life and its challenges; particularly for those brought up in the Western society. It is a much needed and relevant book for these times, when divorce is on the increase within the Muslim community. Available at all Islamic Bookshops

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It is formatted and written in a very ‘easy to digest’ style, hence making it accessible and a friendlier read for those who find it difficult to turn to books for help. ‘Secrets to a Successful Marriage’ is an essential book for those who are already married and a great preparation for those looking to get married.

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15


“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”. American Islamic Scholar Hamza Yusuf

Scientific Wonders on the Earth and in Space By Yusuf Al-Hajj Ahmad, London: Darussalam (2010) This book is an excellent read for those who want to learn more about the Islamic perspective on Science. Ahmad explores primarily miracles in the earth and miracles in astronomy. The miracles of the Qur’an regarding our surrounding environment, the seas, land, animals, plants, and other inorganic matters, are clear evidences that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah, the God who created them.

Available at all Islamic Bookshops and on Amazon

Ilma Magazine / Issue 15

What makes this book different to many others is that Yusuf shares knowledge about the earth and astronomy, using specialists such as Dr. Muhammad Harb and merging the evidence found in Islamic literature. Allah says in The Holy Qur’an: “The creation of the Heaven and the Earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind, and yet most mankind know not”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Ghafir: The Forgiver, 40:57]

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Ilma Magazine / Issue 15


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

New Religious Programmes Showing in October and November 2015 Sponsored by The Dawah Project Subscribers

Lives of the Prophets Sheikh Saeed al-Qaadi gives us an in-depth analysis of the lives of the noble Prophets (peace be upon them all) from the first to the last, drawing abundant lessons for us to learn from.

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KNOWLEDGE FOR THE SOUL

“I am a servant of a Great King who is not moved by the world for my God is with me and goes before me. I do not fear because I am His”. [Anonymous]


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Ilma Magazine | Sept/Oct 2015 | Issue 15  

‘The Rope of Allah: Part 2’ articulates the concerns of a modern Muslim such as what the 21st century mosque entails, the journey to convert...

Ilma Magazine | Sept/Oct 2015 | Issue 15  

‘The Rope of Allah: Part 2’ articulates the concerns of a modern Muslim such as what the 21st century mosque entails, the journey to convert...

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