Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Ideal Muslim

The ideal Muslim… has the unwavering loyalty and honesty of Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq. 

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, "If I were to take a Khalil, I would have taken Abu Bakr (as my Khalil).” (Bukhari)

The ideal Muslim… is like ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab: a lion outside and a kitten at home with his family. 

The ideal Muslim… has the shyness, tenderness, modesty, and gentleness of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan.

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Should I not feel shy before a man whom the angels feel shy of?” (Muslim)

The ideal Muslim… has the honour of Ali ibn Abi Talib on the battlefield, who refused to strip his defeated enemy out of his armour out of respect for the dead man’s modesty. 

After Ali ibn Abi Talib’s duel with Abd-Wudd, Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiAllaahu anhu) said to him: “Why did you not dispossess him of his armor? No Arab has better armor than his!”
Ali said: “I cracked it (during the duel), and his nakedness became exposed to me, so I became shy of stripping him.” (Al-Bayhaqi; al-Bidaaya wa’n-Nihaayah by Ibn Kathir)

The ideal Muslim… has the foresight of Abu ad-Dardaa’, and is keen to cultivate the quick minds of youth, whether that youth is a boy like Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas, or a girl like Umm ad-Dardaa’ as-Sughra. 

The ideal Muslim… adores, respects, and honours his wife the way Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr treated his beloved wife, ‘Aatikah.

The ideal Muslim… is not ashamed to acknowledge and admire the strength of a woman, as Khalid ibn Waleed respected Khawlah bint al-Azwar on the battlefield. 

The ideal Muslim… has the dedication of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud when it comes to living by the Qur’an, not just memorizing it. 

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud: When a man amongst us learned ten verses [of the Quran], he would not move on [to the next verses] until he had understood their meanings and how to act by them.

The ideal Muslim… has the personal conviction of Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr, and is willing to sacrifice the personal luxuries of the Dunya for the Sake of Allah, no matter how spoiled he was growing up.

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: I saw Mus'ab here, and there was no youth in Makkah more pampered by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet!

The ideal Muslim… does not hesitate to stand up against domestic violence, political injustice, racism, or any other kind of abuse, regardless of whether the perpetrators are Muslim or not.

RasulAllah said, "Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.
The people asked, "O RasulAllah! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?"
RasulAllah said, "By preventing him from oppressing others." (Bukhari)

The ideal Muslim… does not allow himself to raise his hand or his voice against his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter, or any other Muslim.

RasulAllah said: “The true Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe.” (Agreed upon)

The ideal Muslim… feels the responsibility of qawwaamah to be heavy upon his shoulders, for he knows that on the Day of Judgment, he will be held accountable for any abuse of his authority. 

Rasulallah said: "Beware of oppression, for oppression will turn into excessive darkness on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

The ideal Muslim… honours and respects the believing men and the believing women, never belittling, humiliating, or encouraging evil towards them. 

{The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.} (Qur’an 9:71)

The ideal Muslim lives his life striving to be ethical, principled, and just; controlling his temper and being careful with his words; holding himself to a standard higher than that of his culture or society. 

The ideal Muslim prays, fasts, performs pilgrimage, gives in charity, and lives every moment testifying to God’s Oneness and to the Seal of the Prophethood, the beloved, RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

The ideal Muslim strives not merely to be a Muslim, or a Mu’min, but to be a Muhsin. 

“Jibreel said: 'Tell me about ihsaan.'
RasulAllah answered, 'That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, then truly He sees you.'” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Heavenly Souls: Physically Disabled, or Enabled for Paradise?

"Disabled." It’s a word we use to describe those with some kind of physical or mental ‘difference’ - those who don’t fall under what we think of as ‘the norm’: people who are ‘different’, who are ‘other’, whom we can’t quite understand or accept as being just like us.

Muslims like to say that under Islam we’re all equal, that in the Sight of Allah I the only thing that matters is taqwa. Our reality is usually not as rosy and innocent.

Those suffering from mental illness or extreme physical ailments are often treated shamefully by fellow Muslims. Many times, they are overtly excluded from being a part of the Muslim community; whether it's looking at them askance, avoiding talking to them (or worse, talking to them in a condescending, demeaning or rude manner) or not making an effort to make our masajid and Islamic centres wheel-chair friendly, our behavior is in direct contradiction to the Sunnah of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam).

We tend to use the term "disabled" to describe people who have been tested by Allah in terms of their physical or mental health - yet what we don't realise is that in many cases they are actually far more "enabled" than the rest of us are. Our brothers and sisters in Islam who are experiencing these trials in their lives often display greater levels of patience and strength in the face of hardship than most of us who enjoy good health throughout our lives do.

Umm Zafar al-Habashiyyah (whose name is said to have been Su’ayrah or Shuqayrah), better known as 'the Abyssinian woman', who suffered from epilepsy in the time of RasulAllah r was such a person. Though epilepsy was, at the time (and still is, in many parts of the world), considered to be something severe, strange and even shameful, she bore her test with a strength, patience, and dignity equal to that of any mujahid on the battlefield.

Ibn `Abbâs  once said to `Atâ b. Rabâh: "Shouldn't I point out to you a woman of Paradise?"
He replied: "Indeed. Do so."
Ibn `Abbâs said: "Do you see that black complexioned lady? She approached the Prophet r and said: 'I suffer from epilepsy and during a fit, my body becomes exposed. So please supplicate Allah on my behalf.'
Then the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said to her: 'If you choose, you might rather bear it patiently and you will attain Paradise on account of it. Or if you like, I will beseech Allah to cure you.'
She said: 'I will bear it patiently. But my body gets exposed, so please beseech Allah that my body will no longer be exposed.'
The Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) beseeched Allah for this.
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5652) and Sahîh Muslim (2576)]

As a result of what many of us would consider her ‘disability’, Umm Zafar was blessed with the greatest gift of all: her entrance to Paradise.

It is worth noting that in Muslim communities there are many children and adults alike who are experiencing mental or physical illnesses and yet they are rarely treated with the same sense of warmth and welcome as others are. Autism, Down’s Syndrome, schizophrenia, bi-polarism, deafness and blindness are all conditions that are quite common within our communities. Yet the majority of people in our masajid and Islamic centres either act as though these individuals are invisible or as though they are carriers of some contagious disease and remain as distant as possible. Little effort is made to welcome and cherish these precious members of the Ummah, let alone engage them as active members in our communities.

Few of us recognise or realise the fact that the young autistic boy whose incomprehensible wails fill the masjid also has the ability to memorise the Qur’an with startling speed and beauty; that the deaf girl who struggles to read lips while you make no effort to learn how to sign has a passion for studying ahadeeth; that the middle-aged man with Down’s Syndrome innocently loves to sit with the toddlers and soothe them with gentle murmurings.

Every single Muslim and Muslimah whom we categorise as ‘other’ because of their perceived ‘disabilities’ is, in fact, ‘different’ – not because they are ‘sick,’ but because so many of them have met the challenge that Allah has placed before them with such strong eman, patience, and strength, that they may be amongst those guaranteed Jannah.

Indeed, those suffering the greatest personal tests in physical and mental health are also amongst the greatest of the heroes and heroines of Islam.


Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Where Are The Fathers? Interview With A Scholar

Umm Zainab Vanker spoke to a well-known scholar, Shaykh Hussain Yee of Al-Khadeem Foundation in Malaysia, to find out about his personal approach to being a hands-on parent to his son, as well as his views on how to get Muslim fathers to reconnect with their sons. Read on to find out what the respected shaykh’s replies were.

Q. What was your relationship with your son like as he was growing up?

A. Alhamdulillah, we have a good relationship. My son and I, as well as my wife and I, always worked together as a team. When the mother can’t get through to them, the father then comes in with a different approach - not shouting, but asking and listening. I always made sure that the whole family did things together.

Q. Mothers nowadays often complain that fathers are not connected to their sons. They expect mothers to push their sons into having a relationship with them. What advice can you give the fathers on building that relationship without coercion from the mother?

A. They need to get connected to their sons by doing activities together. They need to remember the ayah:
{O believers, save yourselves and your family from the Hellfire whose fuel is men and stones...} (Al-Tahrim:6)

I always advise and remind the brothers that they are part of the foundation of the family. They are equally responsible for their children - it’s not just the mothers. By doing things together, whether da’wah, visiting the sick, helping the poor, etc., as a team,they will grow and learn together. Having family activities is crucial in teaching everyone, the young how to lead and the parents how to model being leaders. One of the main things I tell my volunteers whenever we have any scholars or those of knowledge visiting or when I myself visit somewhere is that I ask to have a session only for the volunteers and their families with the scholars. As whenever there is some conference or a visiting scholar around, the brothers are always the ones busy seeing to them and their families - wives and children - are left out. They feel as if their father is ignoring or being taken from them for that time. We need to make sure we know who the families of the volunteers are and connect with them!

Q. When it comes to their own sons, even the practising, knowledgeable brothers may fall short and fail in building a connection with them. They will not allow their sons to speak in gatherings where they may have some knowledge of things. For example, mothers would like that they have a relationship like Umar and his son, Abdullah ibn Umar, or Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and Ali. Fathers today will tell their sons to keep quiet or shut up if they try to say something in a gathering of elders, instead of allowing them to speak. What is your advice to them?

A. They need to learn how to be able to involve and train their kids in when to speak. The fathers need training first and then they can pass it onto their sons. We also have a great problem in communication. Failure in communication between spouses and their children and failure in how to communicate with Allah first. We need to learn how to communicate with Allah and then each other in a way that will promote understanding between all. It’s not enough that these fathers only save themselves but again we remind them of the ayah above and that they are responsible to save their children from the fire as well.

Q. How do we get this message across to the fathers?

A. The fathers need to be trained early, even before they have children. They need to not only learn but, more importantly, to act on the knowledge they gain. A lot of Muslim men will learn the ahkaam (rulings) but when it comes to practising it, and the spirit of the rulings, they fail in doing so. A big problem and shortcoming is in our scholars today. We don’t show or lead by example. Most speak about ahkaam and fiqh (rules and Islamic Jurisprudence) but we don’t give the same amount of time to explaining, teaching and showing tarbiya ar-rabaani (divinely guided education). The fault again comes back to the shuyookh who do not emphasize the importance of teaching tarbiyah and showing how it’s done for their students to learn by example.

Q. How do we get brothers involved in being mentors to those boys whose fathers are emotionally absent or to those who have no strong father figure role models (from divorced or single parent homes)?

A. There must be sessions for the brothers to be involved in their communities not just by volunteering for events, but to be engaged in a meaningful manner with those who need it – the youth. They need to communicate with the boys regularly and not limit themselves to once a month events. Having family-centred and family-welcoming events in the community is very important so that the burden does not fall on the mothers alone, but so that fathers will be encouraged to spend more time with their children.

Al-Khadeem (an Islamic center near Kuala Lumpur) strongly emphasises family values by regularly holding classes and activities for families, meaning that not only mothers are welcome, but fathers are strongly encouraged to attend at the same time to benefit in the same way. Children are also given classes on how to be respectful and how to learn from their parents. In this way, all units of the family are involved and brought together so that they can be on the same page.

In cases of divorce, parents have to realise that both sides need to teach and show respect to the other; as the ayah says, they should “part on good terms.” Children should not see their parents behaving in a disrespectful manner towards each other and showing hate. Fathers still need to communicate with the mothers regarding their children’s upbringing and it is still very important that they be involved in their children’s lives in a positive way

Q. You said that the shuyookh have fallen short in emphasising tarbiyah in the family (especially for fathers) and that we must remind them. How do we remind them to return to the core values necessary for an Islamic household?

A. We need to remind them that they are the ones responsible for they are the first in line to teach and to show by example. A lot of tarbiyah is missing, even amongst many of the shuyookh and their families. Local and visiting scholars can be reminded that their actions with their sons and families will be noticed by those they teach and then followed.

Q. Most parenting classes are directed mainly towards mothers in how to be a good mother, how she is responsible for raising the children and so on. Not much is targeted towards the fathers. How can we change this and have more classes directed towards the fathers?

A. There needs to be many more programmes and classes specifically targeted towards the men. Most shaykhs teach fiqh (jurisprudence) and ahkaam (rulings) without teaching their male students the importance of adab (etiquette), akhlaaq (good character) and tarbiyah (upbringing) according to the sunnah. If we want to see a change, we should approach the teacher and inform them about this great need in the community. Sisters should not be shy in asking for classes from the shuyookh.


Many fathers look up to and take their cues in how to implement being a hands on father from the scholars. Unfortunately, unlike Sh. Hussain, we have not heard many of the more prominent shuyookh who are front and centre in the da’wah circles, pointing to themselves as falling short in this matter or putting great emphasis on the tactile acts of fathering.

Insha Allah in part 3 of Where are the Fathers?, practical points will be given on how to get fathers involved and become a greater part of their sons’ lives.

Umm Zainab Vanker has been active in da'wah and community activism in Canada for the last ten years, and is deeply concerned with issues related to family and parenting. She is the mother of one crazy daughter, three teenage sons, and grandmother to a three year old girl. She continues to struggle in raising her children and finding resources for them even in a Muslim country.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

To Be A Man...

 ...You Must Know Your Women

Writing the Forgotten Heroines series is an amazing, eye-opening journey for me. With every woman I read about, and every story I write about, I realize what an amazing heritage we have to look back on and learn from, subhanAllah. Let's reclaim it and make our generation, and those of the future, equally strong and beloved to Allah.

Men, the forgotten heroines of Islamic history would put you all to shame today. Don't think that, as men, you have no need to learn about the Sahabiyaat or other women - if anyone needs to know about them, YOU do. 

Honour the Ummahaat al-Mu'mineen, honour the women of the Muhaajireen and the Ansaar, honour the women who raised the likes of 'Umar ibn Abdul Aziz and Imam Bukhari, honour the women whose wisdom guided the successful khulafaa', the women who funded the Jihad against the Crusaders, the women who plunged into battle with swords and heads held high, the women who saved their brothers in Islam from certain death. 

Honour them by raising your daughters to be like them, honour them by empowering your sisters to be like them, honour them by supporting your mothers to be like them, honour them by being allies to the women of the Ummah of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam).

Muslim men, on the Day of Judgment, how you wielded your status as qawwaamoon will either be a means of entering you into Jannah amongst the Sabiqoon al-Awwaloon, or it will be a means of throwing you into the depths of Jahannam for being of the most unjust oppressors.

Be a man, learn about the women of Islam, and raise both your sons and your daughters to not only know them and respect them, but to become them.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Painted Hands

Painted Hands, written by Jennifer Zobair
Reviewed by Zainab bint Younus

Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair is the engaging, twisting narrative of an unlikely set of characters: Zainab Mir, the high-powered glamorous head of a Republican political campaign; Amra Abbas, workaholic lawyer who puts in brutal hours in the hopes that she’ll make it to partner of the firm; Hayden Palmer, fellow lawyer, party girl and unlucky in love; and Chase Holland, radio show host and golden boy for bigoted neo-cons.

Painted Hands falls somewhere between the categories of ethnic fiction and Muslim chick-lit; yet such a characterisation does not give justice to the story’s ability to draw the reader in and impart lessons so subtly that it takes a moment to even realise it.

There’s something for everyone in the narrative– Zainab is unabashedly secular, yet her brief brush with members of a local masjid reveals the hurt she feels at having herself, her work and even her sexuality openly judged and condemned by those who know nothing about her. Amra is both relieved and afraid to get married, in love with her fiancé but unable to confess the extent of her obsession with work; and, later, when she becomes a mother, struggles to know what she wants in comparison to the pressures of those around her. Chase Holland makes his living bashing Islam and Muslims, but finds that his bluster is harder to keep up around Zainab’s fiery challenges. Hayden takes her shahadah (declaration of faith) and is drawn into a circle of conservative immigrants, who briskly arrange her marriage and prod her into their own type of activism.

The series of events that brings them together in the most unlikely of conflicts is a fascinating journey that culminates in an intriguing, unexpected crescendo that is as poetic as it is dramatic.

The weaving of every thread of the narrative echoes the complexity and beauty of the henna patterns that the book is named after. Politics, culture, religion and romance are entwined and explored; the relationships between the characters and their struggles link to each other subtly yet meaningfully. No conflict is over-simplified or glossed over and although the book – and its main characters – are distinctly liberal, there is enough nuance and honesty in it that it can truly appeal to a wide and varied audience.

Although the characters are fictional, their stories are reflections of reality. Muslim women come from backgrounds as varied as those of Zainab, Amra and Hayden and have lives that are just as complex and rich as theirs. Painted Hands is both an acknowledgement and appreciation of what it means to be a Muslim woman in the modern Western world.

AnonyMouse (Zainab bint Younus) is a young Muslimah who has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She writes for SISTERS Magazine,, and blogs at

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Prayer

“When a Muslim servant (of Allah) or a believer (Mumin) washes his face (in the course of Wudhu), every sin he has committed with his eyes is washed away from his face along with the water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought is erased from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet walked is washed away with water, or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out cleansed of all sins.” [Sahih Muslim]

Hands trembling, water splashing, feeling only the scourge of sin upon skin…
He could still feel the caress of female flesh against his fingers, the sweet nothings he whispered as he coaxed a slow, yielding response to his own desire, masking his own need, wanting to be wanted…
She could still hear the deafening pounding of music against her eardrums, a wild invitation hissing through her blood, liquid courage thrumming within her as she tipped her head back and drank, reckless, seeking a release from her own soul…

 O Allaah, place within my heart light, and upon my tongue light, and within my ears light, and within my eyes light, and place behind me light and in front of me light and above me light and beneath me light. O Allaah, bestow upon me light.’

 Legs shaking, feet dragging, shadows upon the heart;
Haunting memories, nightmares of human evil, mocking reminders of every crime committed against self, against God…
He could still see the darkness of an alley; desperation lending fury to action, the snick of a blade to emphasize the demand for a wallet, a few measly dollars, anything to pay for the next fix…
She could still smell the acrid stench of vomit, musky overtones of smoke from cigarettes made from more than just tobacco; stained sheets and hollow satisfaction…

 When a worshipper of Allah uses the siwaak (to clean his teeth), and then stands in prayer, an angel comes and stands behind him, listening to the recitation of Qur’an. The angel continues to listen and draw nearer until he places his mouth over the worshipper’s, so that he does not recite one aayah but that it enters into the angel’s mouth. Therefore, purify your mouth for the recitation of Qur’an. (Al-Bayhaqi, authenticated by al-Albani)

 Can one be kissed by an angel when they’ve so often danced with the devil?

Tongue stumbling over half-forgotten verses; the distant memory of peace, evoked; and slowly, slowly…
Her shoulders loosen, taut muscles softening at an unseen touch; her voice sweetens with the recitation of once-familiar prayer…
His breath comes slow and deep, almost afraid as hope begins to unfurl deep within… 

 Indeed, Allah has said: I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.  
In the name of God, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful
All Praises are due to God, Lord of the worlds
(Allah responds:) ‘My slave has praised Me 
The Beneficient, Most Merciful
‘My slave has extolled Me’ 
King of the Day of Judgement 
‘My slave has proclaimed My Greatness’ 
You alone do we worship, and to You alone do we turn to for help

‘This is between Me and My slave and I grant to My slave what he has asked.'  
Guide us to the Straight Path 
‘All this is there for My slave. He shall be given what he prays for.’ 
The path of those whom You have graced 
‘All this is there for My slave. He shall be given what he prays for.’ 
Not of those who have deserved Your Anger, nor those who have gone astray 
‘All this is there for My slave. He shall be given what he prays for.’ 
(Narrated by Muslim, Malik, at-Tirmidhi, Abu-Dawud, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah)
 Pleading praises, weeping exaltations, grief-stricken glorification… What hope has a broken soul for the mercy of their Lord? 
 “The closest that a servant is to his Lord is when he is in prostration.” (Muslim) 

A yearning soul, a longing for love, a whispered prayer. My Lord, forgive me… my Lord, my Lord!

 "O son of Adam, as long as you call upon Me and put your hope in Me, I have forgiven you for what you have done and I do not mind. O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and then you would seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, if you were to come to Me with sins that are close to filling the earth and then you would meet Me without ascribing any partners with Me, I would certainly bring to you forgiveness close to filling it." (Authenticated by Al Albani)

Sakeenah of spirit, awestruck awareness, tranquility so profound that – for now – the shadows are banished, soul glimmering with mother-of-pearl purity. 
"Verily, with hardship there is ease." (Qur'an 94:6)
 A soft sigh. A heart unburdened.  Indeed, after hardship comes ease.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Divorced Ramblings

Love Inshallah published my reflections on the unexpected aftermath of divorce.

I am twenty-two-years old. I am a rebellious daughter, a fierce writer, a determined feminist, a fiery niqaabi. I have been to six countries, living in three of them. I have a three-year-old daughter. And I am divorced.

Most people don’t know what to say, how to react. Some give me condolences, a sympathetic hand squeeze, a look of pity and sorrow. Others frown, shake their heads, mutter that I look too happy, too relieved, that my smile is too wide and my laughter too free.

They do not know that I grieved for my marriage before it even ended, that I celebrate my freedom every day, that my heart aches most not out of regret or anger, but out of quiet sorrow for those unusual moments that studded my marriage like shards of raw diamonds – unexpectedly beautiful, but with a sharpness that cuts deeper all the more for their brightness.

Divorce throws the world into sharp relief, reminds me of who I am, highlights the ridiculous standards and expectations of society, helps me laugh when I’d rather cry. Divorce tells me not to give up – and I don’t. I yet dream of love, plot for the future with all the ferocity of ambition, search and find beauty in all that has happened in my life.

What is even more unexpected is the rush of tenderness I feel now for my daughter’s father. He is no villain, but a man as lost as anyone else, as desperate for love as every other soul, as broken within as we all are. Though I have freed myself from having to fight his battles, I pray that he is able to find the strength and wisdom to fight them himself, and to be victorious against the forces that he struggles with inside himself.

One of the last things I told him was, “I don’t love you.” Now, I realize that I didn’t tell the entire truth. No, I did not love him as a husband, as a soul mate, as the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But every Muslim has rights over another Muslim, and one of those rights is to be loved for the Sake of Allah. This man is the father of my daughter, who loved me in his own way, however misguided… yes, I can muster compassion for him. And what is compassion, if not a pale, transparent, opalescent type of love?

In my sujood, where whispered prayers slip past my lips like unbidden pearls, where my heart’s true desires make themselves known, when my darkest fears are revealed and banished at that moment when my soul speaks to my Lord – one supplication finds itself repeated, over and over. O Allah, let him find true love.

Zainab bint Younus aka AnonyMouse al-Majnoonah aka The Salafi Feminist is a nomadic young woman with big dreams, a small daughter, and a penchant for too many pseudonyms. She blogs at

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Ideal Muslimah - Muslim Montage has featured my piece: The Ideal Muslimah.

 About Zainab:
Salafi feminist. Professional nomad. Untamed dreamer. Veiled warrior. Wandering scribe. Whimsical idealist. Wannabe biker chick. Incorrigible rebel. Absent minded mother. Faithful believer.

The Ideal Muslimah

The ideal Muslimah… is not afraid to have her own personality, whether she is as wise as Khadijah, passionate as A’ishah, fierce as Hind, noble as Zaynab, or demure as Maymunah.

The ideal Muslimah… follows the sunnah of Khadijah and uses her financial savvy to benefit the Ummah… and doesn’t allow others to tell her that she’ll never get a man that way.

The ideal Muslimah… is loved, valued, and married for her taqwa and beauty of character, not some shallow, arbitrary cultural standards of physical beauty.

The ideal Muslimah… is not a doormat. She has the wisdom of Umm Salamah, the audacity of A’ishah, the intelligence of Hafsa, the ego of Zaynab, and the humour of Sauda.

The ideal Muslimah… is someone who may never have children, like A’ishah; someone who may have numerous daughters but no sons, like Khadijah; someone who has children from a previous marriage, like Umm Salamah. Her worth as a human, as a believer, does not lie in her fertility.

The ideal Muslimah… has the courage of Zaynab bint Ali when she fights for what she believes in and faces down oppression, even if it comes from fellow Muslims.

The ideal Muslimah… does not allow her intelligence to be belittled or disrespected, for Allah created her to be of those who think.
{And He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth – all from Him. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.} (Qur’an 45:13)

The ideal Muslimah… is not kept locked away or helpless. She is a vibrant, contributing part of the Ummah and doesn’t let anyone tell her otherwise – because Allah told her so.
{The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.} (Qur’an 9:71)

The ideal Muslimah… is not perfect.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” [Sahīh Muslim (2687)]

The ideal Muslimah… makes mistakes and knows it, but loves her Lord and repents to Him constantly.
{Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.} (Qur’an 2:222)

The ideal Muslimah… is beloved to Allah, Who promised her paradise.
{Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.} (Qur’an 33:35)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rekindling the Fires of Love

Umm Zainab Vanker shares some ideas on how to rekindle the sparks when those early days of marriage seem like distant memories.

We forget that before we became Mum, chauffeur, nurse, and more, we were a woman and wife first. It’s time we took the initiative and brought back that glint in our spouse’s eye (and a little spring in our own steps!). Here are a few ideas to spread throughout your days, nights, weeks, and months!


1. Take a shower
The best time for this is just after you’ve finished the sweaty housework or before your husband gets home. Buy yourself some really nice scented bodywash, lotion or talc powders that are light on scent but can be smelled when someone is close enough to you. The shimmery ones add a little extra sparkle, too!

2. Own a few modest yet sexy, fun clothing items
Depending on how many kids you have and their respective ages, have a few outfits to wear around the house that are modest but still make you feel feminine, sexy, and fun. And don’t forget to add some sexy lingerie. They help liven things up!

3. Comb your hair
Make sure to run a comb or brush through your hair and look a little less ‘bush woman’. Even if you’re just tying it up in a ponytail or a plait, use hair accessories to give it a different look; you’ll feel better without even realising it.

4. Use cosmetics
Run a little lip gloss or lip balm on your lips to make them feel and stay soft and sensual. Use a little light blush to bring some colour into your cheeks and, if not going outside, use some kohl or eyeliner.

5. Show affection
Show affection to each other by giving one another nicknames, hugging your husband when he comes home even from the masjid, and teasing each other in a playful way. So what if the kids see this type of affection openly? It will teach them the halal method of showing affection and help them in their marriages later on, insha Allah. Just make sure that they also see that when company is around (such as your parents or in-laws), certain things are not done in front of them out of respect for them as elders.

It's tough trying to keep things going daily, so at least have some weekly plans to keep the embers warm.

1. A special day
As Friday is our weekly Eid for us as Muslims, why not make it special, not just for the kids, but the whole family. Set a different feel and routine for this day every week. Dress to impress and light incense throughout the house.

2. Special clothes
All those clothes that you've got in your closet to wear for sisters’functions that don’t come out very often, why not wear them for the one person who will show you how much he appreciates it? Better still, there will be no fear about anyone describing you to others.

3. A special meal
Choose a day when your hubby is going to be home early, to cook that special meal that he likes so much. Something that you don't have time to make often, he’ll love it even more that you took the time to make it especially for him.

4. Adult time out
Make sure that you find some way, somehow, to sneak time alone with your spouse. If the kids are toddlers, use their nap time to steal time if he's home or once they’re in bed. If school age, then once they're in bed, that's your time with him. Even if he works odd hours, make sure to take at least 15 minutes alone together.

5. Discreet PDA’s (public displays of affection)
Depending on the country or society that you are living in, PDA's amongst Muslim couples can be done in a very discreet and tasteful manner. No, it is not haram. I am not suggesting any overt displays at all! Things like holding hands while you're walking, whether grocery shopping, window shopping or taking the kids for some fun in the park; teasing each other, sharing a drink or meal or snack together, or whispering to each other. Be creative!

Some things can only be done monthly. Try and find out your husband’s schedule, then plan even just one thing.

1. Date night/day
You don't need a lot of savings or even to do this outside the home. After getting the kids to bed early or for those lucky enough to have family members, take them for a sleepover for a night or out for a few hours during the day, and then plan a date! Inform him beforehand that you have booked this time with him, so he had better not book anything else.
Go out for dessert, take a drive somewhere, have lunch or dinner out. If you can't afford this, then make a special dessert at home or plan a candlelit dinner. Sit on the sofa and cuddle together and talk, not boring daily routine stuff but about anything else, even politics. Just talk!

2. Shop together
We all know most men hate shopping but that's because we don't make it fun! How do you make it fun? Well, all men love to see their woman in lingerie, so once a month tell him to you need his help in choosing which lingerie or underwear to buy. If he's too shy to go inside the store with you, at least he can help you choose from outside the store by nodding yes or no. You don't have to only listen and choose what he likes, but buy what you both agree on. Then go home and model them for him when you're alone. It doesn't just have to be lingerie but can be anything whether for you or him. And yes, you can buy him nice men's underwear or PJ's to wear instead of that ratty T-shirt and shalwar he calls pyjamas!

3. Bathe/soak together
Men like to be pampered, just like us! They have sore muscles and aches and sometimes taking a warm soak helps. So why not do it together? (If you have a bathtub, that is.) Buy some scented bath salts and fill the tub and tell him to get in… then surprise him by joining him. You'll both end up feeling relaxed!

4. Give each other massages
Buy a bottle of relaxing massage oil and give each other a massage at least once a month. Teach him how to do it if he complains that he doesn't know. Sometimes old pets can learn new tricks, if they're taught nicely.

Bi-yearly or yearly
Then there are things that can only be done once or twice a year!

1. School breaks/family breaks
During school breaks or family breaks, make sure to plan some things that you both like to do. Perhaps something nature-related or other shared interest (too bad if the kids find it boring, it's not only their break!).

2. A weekend alone
If and when possible, find a weekend when the kids are staying with family or at a camp or Islamic program to book a weekend away for both of you. Pamper yourselves if you can afford to.
The Internet is a great tool for finding deals. You don’t even have to leave the city you live in! Just make full use of your hotel room!

3. Re-enact your wedding night as you wish it would have been

Almost everyone wishes they could change something about their wedding night and that it was more memorable (especially without the awkwardness of that first night alone with each other!). Who says you can't re-enact it, with some tweaks to make it just as you wished it had been? There's nothing to be shy about or feel ashamed of. I promise you, neither of you will forget this night, not for a long time!

Once in a Lifetime:
Take a cruise or vacation of your dreams for a couple weeks. Travelling together makes you relearn the old and find out the new things about each other. You realise how much each of you have not only changed, but grown over the years and have become true partners as you both depend on each other for many things that you sometimes take for granted.

After 22 years of marriage, you realise that you cannot be serious all the time. Lighten up, be childish and silly together. Remember the early days and months of marriage and try to bring those feelings!

Umm Zainab Vanker (UmmAnonyMouse) has been married for 22 years, has 4 children, 1 grandchild, and is still looking for inventive ways to keep the embers glowing.