An Islamic Home

Syed Adeel Raza

Contributed by KSIJ Dar Media (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

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When Religion becomes Traumatic

By Faseeha Sherally (Mombasa, Kenya)

How is it possible for something as sacred as religion to be a cause of trauma? The main purpose of a religion is to guide mankind towards the process of self-actualization. However, there are a number of accounts which point at religion and blame its culture for the adverse effects observed in certain groups of people.

Is it religion in general? All kinds of religions pose a threat to humanistic development?

Well, not precisely. There are cases reported from people coming from the following religious backgrounds:

  • Evangelical Christianity
  • The Assemblies of God
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Fundamentalists who have experienced life from within the above-mentioned cults undergo Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as well as Religious Trauma Syndrome after they leave.

Matter of fact is, a person may be in a cult, least realizing that it is harming them. So, how would you identify whether your religion is working towards your self-actualization or is causing you to regress from humanistic values?

There are a number of indicators of a cult being cause of trauma, which have been outlined as here-under:

  • Patriarchal authority in family structure
  • Harsh parenting methods
  • Sexual and physical abuse in religious context
  • Highly controlling, preventing people from thinking for themselves or trusting their own feelings
  • Demanding obedience and conformity
  • Producing fear instead of love and growth
  • A lot of self judgement and judgement of others, becoming alienated from self, others and the world
  • Anxiety, threats, panic attacks, flash backs and nightmares
  • Self-harm and suicide
  • Mental and emotional torture as a result of violence and murder.

The question also arises whether the above-mentioned indicators are attributed to fundamentalist cults only, to which I would disagree.

Take the example of Buddhism, whose wisdom guides many to inner bliss. Why then do the Buddhists engage in mass killings and brutalities towards the Rohingya Muslims? Does their religion guide them to do so?

Answer is no. There is need to separate the cult from its followers in such a scenario.

This leads us to the realization that individual mentality and that of a society can largely influence their understanding of a given religion which would then govern their behavior.

Factors like misinterpretation of religious principles, the treatment a person may  have received right from childhood or at any phase of life as well as their response to various life situations greatly determine their perception and thus implementation of religious principles and their world view.

At any point when there is no balance between emotion and intellect, know that you are detouring or heading the wrong way.


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How much do we see and how much do we look?

By Mehreen Mushtak Nazarali

OMG! Are you thinking the same thing? How can I use see and look in the same sentence? Did MS word put red squiggly lines under it? Yes, No, Maybe.

Well, read ahead to find out…

I have written it exactly right! And for those who answered ‘No’ for the squiggly line, yay, you are right J. Basically we all know that English is a pretty confusing language, and though we may use the words ‘see’ and ‘look’ as one and the same, they have different meanings. So after giving a big clue now, I ask this question to you dear reader, how much do you see and how much do you look? Let me break it down again if it still feels the same.

I saw a beautiful swan gliding through the pond; I stood there, and watched in awe. Oh how beautiful, the water glistened under the afternoon sun and cast a reflection of the swan right under it. I rushed for my phone, by my camera couldn’t justify its beauty, in fact no camera would ever be able to. Oh how wonderful my eyes said! It’s breathtaking, my heart said! This brief moment one afternoon made me so thankful for my surrounding, and indeed asking, “which of God’s blessings will you deny?

On the contrary if I had looked, I would have then seen a white swan on the pond, just like any other, and walked on in my own world.  We need such brief yet powerful moments everyday in our lives to be able to realize, appreciate and be thankful for our surrounding, bounties, and all the happiness around us.

Now I ask you, dear reader, what difference can you tell in both the words? We use these words a million times. “Did you look at her?” “Have you seen my phone?” but we never realize the actual definitions of such simple words used daily. That is why I think schools and colleges have these sheets of paper that they give out around exams which clearly informs us how to answer a question based on key words, because sometimes two words may feel like one, but they are totally different.

So after a long rant, what I ask of you is to develop a habit, to be present in the moment and to see around yourself. Who is there? What is there? What makes you happy? Trust me, even on a day you feel low, or you feel down, there is always something within you that has the power to make you happy. You just need to ‘see’, to feel to find it.

Recent research shows that depression is one of the major problems with youth in today’s world. Why do you think that is? Do we ever show gratitude? Are we ever happy and content with what we already have? Or do we just want to run behind the latest object/trend on the market. And do we even know why we do that? Or are we just like one of the sheep following the rest in the herd. Why do we always feel entitled to things? Or why do we want instant results.

Yes! Technology is super fast, but we are still human beings, and despite knowing a lot, there is even more that we don’t. Sometimes, it is because we only look, we don’t see beyond the surface. An example I would like to end with is of Steve Jobs. He struggled so much, but he managed to change the world of computers and smart phones, and one thing he made sure of, was that even the insides of the device is neat, and clean and presentable as much as the exterior must be. We cannot look at it, be those who want and those who know can see it. Not only with the physical eye, but also the way it makes one feel. Otherwise, why would we hear this statement all through the world? “Once a mac user, always a mac user.”

To end with, dear reader, I urge you to sit toady and ponder, what goal do I have? What goals did I have? Have I achieved my previous ones? If yes, what did I learn? If no, what went wrong? What can I change to achieve them? Nothing is impossible! If you have had the ability to visualize it, to dream of it, to think about it, it is just hard work and determination away. You just need to see where you are headed, and see beyond what the picture shows you, don’t just look at what is right in front of you.

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Sorrow in the Heart of a Graveyard

Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

So you may want to ask at what particular time in your life do you pause and reflect.  When do you seriously transform your mundane business knowledge into profit for your next life travel? At what point do you really begin internalising the years of madrasah and majlis to get a clear ‘google map’ for safe navigation in the next world. The answer is clearly not as simple as the question.

‘O man, you are striving unto your Lord laboriously, and thus you are meeting Him’ – Chapter 84. V6, the Holy Qur’an.  If anything, this verse is a confirmation of where we are headed, but is our unpreparedness resultant of the fact that unlike our trips to other countries, this out-of-the-world voyage is something we have not planned ourselves and so it is imaginably a distant promise by someone other than ourselves, making it all the more impractical for us to plan?

Young or old, male or female, any cast, any creed, one after the other, are falling down, into a far-off dimension where we can never reach out ever again.  As you walk past familiar names at the cemetery, the ‘network signals’ are all around us but we could only receive these signals if our ‘handsets’ (read inner beings) were not switched off or on ‘airplane mode’ (worldly mode).  One frequently gets amazed at how, completely oblivious of what surrounds us, many of us fleet past familiar tombstones without as much as a jolt or a jitter.  More surprising is how we just can’t seem to stop talking – amongst the graves, while the burial is taking place or even when condoling the bereaved.  Feels like nothing can distract us from talking, rightfully so, we do live in the midst of a generation of talkers.

Seriously, there are so many of us just eager to speak, there is barely anyone listening.  Every second person wants to tell others of their strong beliefs in any given number of topics, every other person is also an authority on a wide range of topics that they cannot help but just display his or her verbose diction on the matter.

When people stop listening, they stop learning.  Equally, those who are talking, cannot be listeners at the same time.  Consequently and by astute logic, even the lessons presented to us in the face of death or by attendance at a graveyard, cannot be learnt because we are deaf in the face of things.

Naturally, we are going to rue this opportunity of learning that regardless of your bodily muscle power or build, irrelevant to your social status and breed, and unaffected by the mountain of dollars and cents you possess, death is inescapable and will come to us at anytime, not allowing us a moment longer to prepare.  There in the graveyard, lay before our eyes, the lifeless bodies of the richest, most respected and the strongest of them who walked the same land that we are on today.

If for a moment, we can look beyond the concrete and the sand, we will inevitably see the sorrow that faces us should we fail to prevail upon the excesses of this world and brace for the life ahead.

A burial is the last place you want to plan to socialise with your friends, it is only in your solitude that you will hear those sounds, that will give you the realization of your finality as you see ants crawling in and out of a grave.  These sounds are significant, it is in these practices that are entrenched in our real life existences.  It is in these lessons that we can get to live the prescribed life of piety and submission to Allah (SWT)

The positive thing about our times is that knowledge is widespread, the negative sides, however, far outweigh the pros.  We are failing to practice anything we learn yet we are anxious to preach to others, and also our knowledge is making us forgetfully arrogant such that we are going further and further away from our own truths.

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Respect for Women

by Abida Ali (Kampala, Uganda)

Since the olden times, women were always seen to be of less importance in the society and trust me, I have no clue why. Maybe it was because their role as women were seen to be very shallow and that they do not become the “heirs” of their family. And when they marry, they no longer keep their father’s name continuing. And of course, as for men, they always want to be known by their names and what possession they hold. In a judgmental society like ours, everyone believes that women cannot be heirs of their family. This is completely not true. How can we even prove for this to be true?

Throughout the years, women have been degraded and underestimated for everything they try to do. In such a society, we need to appreciate the efforts of a woman. People judge women for being so weak and timid while in real life, they can be stronger than the strongest man on earth. Yes, they may be physically weak but mentally and emotionally, women can bear more burden than men can. In this generation, since gender equality is seemed to have widely been practiced, the importance for women should be highly considered too.

In our society, women are taken lightly because we think that they do not have the potential to control anything. They are judged to be too emotional therefore they cannot easily make decisions with a clear mind. This may be true in some cases but it doesn’t give the right to anyone to mock the women of this society. We have seen so much oppression that happens to women to the extent that they have lost their voices. When they try to stand for their rights, it is taken as such a mere thing because oh! Its men who rule the world. Actually, it is women who make our society strong and it is their right that they have to be respected no matter what the case. Women are being judged daily on how they look, what they say, what they wear and it doesn’t stop. Our society has become so ill minded that if a woman is fat, it’s a problem, if she’s thin, then she’s anorexic. Society has made women the target of being oppressed and judged. Also, as a community, we really need to take a stand. Women are way more important than they are considered to be, as William Golding has put it “I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far more superior and have always been.”

Furthermore, men need to consider the decency of women. It is against the modesty of a women for a man to say anything inappropriate only because they find it funny. In the current times, the world has grown so much out of shame that men oppress women by raising their hand on them, abusing them, sexual assaults and it has even gone to the point where if a woman is raped, her way of dressing is judged. If a man wants his satisfaction to be fulfilled, he would rape a woman even if she was wearing layers of clothes to cover herself. And what is worse, nobody says anything. And why? Because they are afraid that they will be judged. They are afraid that they will not be listened to. Our society needs to stop judging women based on their appearance. We need to start looking at women with great respect. We need to understand that their worth is priceless and nothing in this world should stop them from achieving their dreams.

There is nothing in this world that will ever give you the price of a woman. And for all the men out there reading this right now, there is one thing that should always be remembered, “How cheap can such a man be. He comes from a woman, gets married to a woman, and the same woman he marries, may give birth to a woman, and yet he decides to disrespect the women of the society?” There is a whole day dedicated to women on the 8th of March just to spread awareness and appreciate everything a woman can willingly do, just to make herself, her family and the society happy. We shouldn’t discriminate women for being so weak just because men are physically stronger. If men are so strong, then where are those men who insult and abuse their sisters and mothers instead of standing up for them? Can we call such men strong if they do not have any respect for the woman who brought them into this world while bearing a lot of pain?

We as a community, we need to show high levels of respect for any woman, whether it is a little girl or an old lady, or a teenager. All women are the same and they need to be treated with great care and affection to show that yes, women can be and should be respected at all times. If a woman speaks, she has surely made a difference in many people’s lives. Just the way Brigham Young has said “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation!”

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