The One – A Review

The Book: The One

Author: Manaal Jafrey Razaaque

Illustrator: Tanya Emelyanova

Published by: Prolance

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The One is a book written keeping in mind the Muslim kids of the present era. A beautifully written book, that teaches children about the many attributes of The One – Allah (swt). The book should take a place of pride on the next list of gifts for your little one.

The author of the book, Manaal has done a fantastic job. As she herself is a mother of two little girls who love their bedtime stories, she has attempted to create this book with a simplicity through which one can teach the kids about the greatness of the omnipresent Lord of the worlds. As an experienced mother, the author has used simple yet apt words that help kids in a better understanding about their creator. Written in a rhyme form, the book is sure be enjoyed by children.

One of the best features of the book is that it gradually goes in a defined pattern, teaching the kids one by one about the greatness of Allah(swt). In the end the book also teaches kids that even during tough times Allah(swt) stands with us. This point is sure to strengthen the faith of kids that whether the times are easy or tough one has to put his trust in Allah.

The author has also used various attributes of Allah (swt) in the rhyming stanzas, wherein their Arabic names and their meanings are provided in the end. It introduces kids to nearly 18 names of Allah (swt). Once the kids read and understand the book, they are sure to learn a lot about the greatness of Allah(swt).

Coming to the illustrations, Tanya has done a fantastic job. She has brought out the essence of everything written, through her beautiful art. The illustrations are quite cute, to be frank. Children are surely going to enjoy them. All the illustrations are quite appropriate to the text and also to the cognitive level of kids.

My final word is this book is a must in every Muslim kid’s book collection. Kids are sure to enjoy reading the book. The book is written as per the level of apprehension of kids of a very young age. On a very basic level, the book will help the younger generation to strengthen their faith in Allah, and will instill in them a love for Islam.

It is a fair deal. Kids get to read a bedtime book at night. The story is about the one who created the day and the night. This book is a fun read, helping kids in developing a keen interest in Islam. So go grab a copy for your little ones.

A sneek peek page. The whole book is a delight for kids I bet.

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The book is available here.

Rating 5/5

Thank you for reading.

Hush little tongue

It looks like I have been waiting for a daily prompt with the word Silence .

Tongue: the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth of a mammal, used for tasting, licking, swallowing and (in humans) articulating speech.

This amazing act of speech, which the tongue performs is one of the greatest boons Allah(swt) has blessed humans with. Speech is exclusive to the species of homo sapiens. No other species of living beings can use their tongues to speak. And humans are sure enough make the extreme use of this act of speech. We blabber on and on. We speak good, we speak bad, we speak sense, we speak nonsense, we speak the truth, we speak lies, we speak with others, we speak about others— all we want is to produce speech. And every word we speak, determines our fate on the day of judgement. A long list of the the useless stuff we spoke in this world will haunt us for eternity.

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Everyday we wake up with a sense of calm. We decide on things to be done through the day. We set out on the journey of life. And then comes the time when the tongue starts swaying in a rhythm, producing unnecessary claptrap. Men and women are equally prone to this disease of speaking unwanted nonsense. However the female species is often more vulnerable to this malady of speaking unwanted words — gossiping, backbiting, slandering, swearing, blabbering, mocking and a host of other sub evils.

Islam is, maybe the only religion, that emphasizes time and again on learning how to remain silent. The Prophet (pbuh) was known for his concise speech. He spoke only on matters that concerned him. He was a gentle speaker, never using vulgar language. He remained silent for long hours, a practice that seems impossible for the present mankind. Most of us might be aware, that this habit of remaining calm and his love for solitude drove our beloved Prophet(pbuh), to meditate in a cave on the Mount Hira.

Learning to speak only when the occasion demands is the need of the present generation. Allah(swt) despises the person who speaks too much. Nothing is as tempting to the human soul as gossiping and making fun of others. Talking without a purpose is a thing of a foolish person. A wise man listens in silence, a fool keeps on speaking. These day speaking without a purpose seems to be the fashion. Using a sharp tongue has become the trend of the generation. Westernization has led to the adopting of a filthy language. Have we Muslims forgotten what our beloved Prophet(pbuh) has advised us on?

Speak a good word, or remain silent…
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

Islam points out on four poisons of the heart

  • Unnecessary talking
  • Unrestrained glances
  • Too much food
  • Bad company

Useless blabber tops the list of the four poisonous deeds. Why do we speak?. Just to communicate our thoughts, feelings and ideas?. Or maybe to taunt, poke fun of, criticize and ridicule others?. Talking in a hurtful manner with others is a shameful quality. The one who cannot control his tongue, has not control over his thoughts and acts. Learn to control that soft little fleshy part of the mouth, lest it controls you.

The tongue is like a lion.
If you let it loose, it will wound someone.
Ali ibn Abi Talib(R.A)

The tongue is such powerful organ. The speech it produces — can break hearts, sever relations, destroy marriages, bring about quarrels, and finally dump us in the fire of hell. The more one speaks, the more his words loose value. Silence is a practice of the dignified.

Remain silent until you are requested to speak,
for that is better than speaking
until you are requested to become silent…
Ali ibn Abi Talib (R.A)

Etiquette of conversation

  • Speak politely.
  • Speak in a sweet tone.
  • Keep you voice low.
  • Forgo criticizing and ridiculing others.
  • Do not mock others with your speech.
  • Do not indulge in self-praise through your speech.
  • Do not backbite or gossip.
  • Speak in a humble and gentle manner.

Whoever believes in Allah and the last day,
should speak what is  good or remain silent…
Sahih Bukhari

 

 

Go with the flow

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July…

Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?
~~~ Lewis Carroll

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Life is really but a dream. Sometimes  a fantasy and at other times a nightmare. Can we ever have control over what we dream?. Maybe not!. Similarly we have no control over this beautiful dream called Life. As human beings we tend to plan, re-plan, scheme and operate on a series of thoughts and ideas to achieve what we desire for. But there is always a master planner — the omnipresent Lord of the worlds. His plans are far greater and of an impeccable status. Alas! the only regret is we often tend to brood over what could have been, or what should have been, thereby dwindling our faith in Allah(swt).

Worrying and fretting about impending events is an intrinsic factor of human behavior. But trying to change the flow of life as per our wish, is nothing but foolishness. There are times when we wish certain things to happen as per our planner’s list of things to be done. But nothing goes the right way. There comes a time when we struggle for things to be done the way we want. We pray to Allah(swt), we put the best effort, and try to be patient. But the results do not match our expectations. Then comes the crucial decision of accepting reality. When you have done everything you could do, then trust Allah. He will certainly do his part.

Go with the flow of life. Everything happens for a reason. If you try to go against the flow of life — challenging the omnipresent force, you will be left tried, breathless and trying to sail your boat in a direction where the force of water will leave your little boat topsy-turvy. What you resist always persists. If you place your trust in Allah(swt), surely he will help you sail through the darkest of storms. That faith in Allah is an anchor for the ship of life. Once you resolve to put the toughest decisions of your life in the hands of Allah, you will surely find inner peace. Because trust in your creator can never make life go awry. He is ever ready to listen to you. You just need to call him out. Do you know?

Allah is closer to you
than your jugular vein…
Quran (50:16)

But but, learning to go with the flow of life, does not mean to set a sail in a boat with holes drilled in it, declaring Allah is with me. That is stupidity. First do what you can, by putting the best possible effort. Finally leave the result to Allah(swt). Hope for the best. For Allah always knows and gives what is best for you. There is a wonderful hadith about putting your trust in Allah.

One day Prophet Muhammad(pbuh),
noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel
without tying it, and he asked the Bedouin,
“Why don’t you tie down your camel?”.
The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah”.
The Prophet(pbuh) said, “Tie your camel first,
then put your trust in Allah”.
(Al-Tirmidhi)

So trust Allah, plan your journey, choose a strong enough vessel and set sail for this voyage of life. Let go of your fears and worries. That is when you learn to accept the decisions of the Lord. Remember…

They plan and Allah plans,
And Allah is the best of planners…
Quran 8:30

Essential Hajj tips

I know its quite late for a post on Hajj, as most of the pilgrims might have already left for Mecca. But as the proverb says “Better late than never”. I went to Hajj in the year 2015 — the year of two great tragedies, one being the crane incident and the other being the really tragic Mina stampede. I was still in India when the crane incident took place inside Masjid-al-Haram, so I evaded the incident. But the Mina tragedy, was one which only Allah(swt) saved us from. I remember seeing a few causalities being loaded on stretchers into ambulances. I went on the pilgrimage with my Hubby and parents-in-law. That day — 24th September 2015, we were walking back from Muzdalifah, when we lost sight of our group members and went our own way, searching for our tent. My hubby had a sever case of conjunctivitis, and father-in-law was feeling nauseous. So these two were the main reasons that saved us from the stampede. Because we headed straight back to our tents, to rest for a while. We stoned the devil after our asr salah. The tragedy had taken place by then, everything was quite and calm by then. We stoned the devil very easily, as there were very few pilgrims after asr’ salah.

Heading straight to Jamaraat from Muzdalifah is one serious decision as the crowd is at its peak at that time. I do not know whether it is true or not, but I have read on some unknown site that after collecting stones, and praying Fajr’ salah in Muzdalifah and heading straight to stone the devil was a sunnah of our Prophet(pbuh). But in this age, where lakhs of pilgrims come from various parts of the world, the crowd is ever increasing. So it is better to avoid stoning of the devil straight after leaving Muzdalifah. That is a crucial time prone to stampedes and other serious incidents.

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Important tips for Pilgrims:

  • Put all the important documents (passports, visas, ID cards) in a safe and easy to reach place.
  • Do not pack unnecessary stuff. Keep your luggage light and easy to carry.
  • Remember all the duas by heart. Or take a copy of the duas with you.
  • Better choose a cotton made Ihram. It is quite hot out there in Mecca, and nothing is as comfortable as cotton.
  • Try and purchase cotton hijabs and under-scarves.
  • Under scarves really help hair from sliding out of the hijab. So try to wear one.
  • If wearing a burqa, wear loose fitting clothes inside.
  • Wear modest clothes. Avoid bright colored clothes, specifically shades of orange.
  • Opt for really comfortable sandals, or flip-flops. In Ihram you cannot wear shoes.
  • Carry an extra pair of flip-flops in case of emergencies, like snapped flip-flops.
  • Take fragrance-free soaps whenever visiting the toilet. Lest you borrow a fragrant soap from ignorant pilgrims and end up paying a dum (penalty).
  • Ladies please forgo make-up for the sake of the almighty. You never know what ingredients it has.
  • Vaseline is the best option for sandal blisters, or chapped lips.
  • Please do not dirty the toilets. There is always ample water running from bidet pipes.
  • Females for the sake of humanity, throw used pads in the bins provided outside the toilets.
  • Drink loads of water. Never worry about running to the loo. As half of the water flows out as sweat.
  • Put few ORS (Oral Re-hydration Salts) packets handy. Keep drinking ORS at regular intervals.
  • Take all the necessary medications in stock, a few indispensable ones include — paracetamol, ibuprofen, antibiotics, antiseptic creams (fragrance-free), cough-syrups, anti-histamines (Benadryl is the best), gentamicin,  anti-viral, anti-diarrhea medicines and other ailment related medicines.
  • There are medical units set up near every Maktab (group of tents). If your instinct tells you of being ill, please do not delay visiting the medical unit. They provide free of cost medicines and other necessary medical advice.
  • Eat light but healthy. There are vendors selling fruits outside Mina tents. You can refresh yourself with the best of fruits.
  • Prefer water over soft drinks. Colas and sodas give you instant energy, that droops back to low levels within few minutes.
  • Sleep whenever time permits. You will have not much time to sleep from the day of Arafat.
  • Collect enough and more pebbles. A pebble once fallen down should not be re-used.
  • Do not compete and push through crowds in Jamaraat. If you are not sure, then wait till you think the time is right to stone the devil.
  • Carry white umbrellas whenever you walk. As the scorching heat will make you exhausted.
  • You will have to walk a million steps. Be ready for real great exercise. Hajj is mostly about walking. Walk for the tawaf, walk for the Saeey, walk from Muzdalifah to Mina, walk from the tents to Jamarat. Walk, walk, walk dear pilgrims. Walk for Allah.
  • For the elderly and for those who cannot walk long distances, there is always the option of wheelchair. You can either buy them or rent them.
  • Do not over-stress your body by competing with other pilgrims. Listen to what the body says. Do not over do tawafs. Save energy for the main 5 days of Hajj.
  • Best time to do tawaf is after isha. As the crowd is slightly less.
  • If you cannot reach Hajr-e-aswad, let it be. Do not undertake a quest to reach it and push other pilgrims.
  • Be patient. Hajj is a time where you meet people from all over the world. Some may be really good others maybe annoying. Do not loose your patience. Remember, you are in the land where the greatest of great men (our prophets) have walked.
  • Do not hesitate spending money for taxis, and buses. You will be real exhausted if you walk that long back from Mina to Haram. Remember there is still tawaf-ul-wida to be performed. Save up energy for the end.
  • Taxis are lot better than buses. The hot desert winds and the bus journey will nearly dehydrate you. Taxis are air-conditioned, and help relax a tired body.
  • Always remain with your group or family members.
  • Do not panic if you loose sight of your group. There are volunteers helping pilgrims. All you need is to show them, you ID card which has the neccessary information on it.
  • Do not under-estimate the value of the Mina ID cards provided by the travel agency. That is what helps you reach your tent, once you go in the wrong direction.
  • Help fellow pilgrims, as much as possible. Do good deeds, Allah will be watching you from right above.
  • Have a small copy of the holy Quran, prayer beads and a prayer mat in handy.
  • Do not waste time. This is a once in a life-time opportunity. Ask Allah for all you want. Ask his forgiveness for all the sins you have  committed. Ask for a good life, a life which pleases Allah.

This is a million dollar trip in terms of spirituality. Time once lost will never come back. Live every moment of this trip. You will be in the kingdom of the Lord of the Worlds. Consider yourself lucky enough, as your creator has invited you to celebrate Eid in his own land. And pray for the less fortunate ones. Pray for the disunited Ummah of the Prophet(pbuh). Pray for everyone you remember. All the best, go live the journey of a life-time, soon-to-be Hajjis.