Prof Farida Khanam is an author, editor, translator, public speaker and former professor of Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Among her books are ‘A Simple Guide to Islam’ and ‘A Study of World’s Major Religions’. She has translated into English many books authored by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. Currently the chairperson of CPS International, she is a regular contributor of articles to various publications. Prof Khanam has edited Maulana’s English translation of the Quran and has also translated his Urdu commentary on the Quran into English. She can be reached at:

[email protected]


HELEN KELLER (1880–1968) famously said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Keller was blind and deaf from early childhood, but she did not let this become an impediment in the way of her development and went on to become a renowned American author and educator.

The example set by Keller serves as a great inspiration. It confirms the belief that life is a gift from God. According to Islamic teachings, God created life so that human beings fulfill a purpose. Human beings have been granted freedom in this world for a temporary period. Those who shall rightfully use this freedom in the pre-death world shall pass this test and become eligible for being inhabited in the eternal and perfect world of Paradise.

The question is why did God decide to put man through such a trial? This is because God has created man with extraordinary qualities but, this was at a potential level. If actualized, these special qualities are enough to make man surpass all obstacles and become the best version of himself. But when can this happen? It is possible only when man is ready to give up all distractions and fully dedicate himself to pursue his intellectual development.

To enable the actualization of his potential, God inherently bestowed man with logical thinking and rationality. Man has the potential to think critically, express his emotions, and even communicate through words. He is driven by reason and logic and, can engage in intellectual activities. Animals, on the other hand, are completely driven by instincts.

Now, it is up to man to face the trials and tribulations of life and awaken his conceptual thinking to reach the purpose of his creation. As man navigates through life, he shall first discover himself. Then he shall be able to realize the endless possibilities and opportunities that his Creator has kept in this world. This realization shall dawn upon him the discovery of the greatness and beneficence of his Creator and shall make him bow down in thanksgiving. Such a realization or Marifah is the essence of faith and the true purpose of man’s life. According to the Quran, Marifah can be defined as the process of discovery of God, where God becomes the centre of the emotions of a believer (2: 165).

Paradise is eternal and ideal in every respect but entry into Paradise shall be on a selective basis. According to the records of their deeds, the individuals chosen to inhabit the perfect world of Paradise shall live in a joyous environment forever. For this to happen, man must reflect upon God’s creations in this world and develop the vision to see beyond the apparent to find unlimited possibilities. It is this realization, which might enable man’s entry into the unparalleled world of Paradise.


Through Fire and Water

AS DALE CARNEGIE—that most pragmatic of modern thinkers— once remarked: The most important thing in life is not to capitalize on your gains. Any fool can do that. The really important thing is to profit from your losses. That requires intelligence, and it makes the difference between a man of sense and a fool.

It is seldom in this world that aspirants to wealth and fame meet with nothing but success throughout their careers. Many are the trials and tribulations through which they must pass before they can savour the fruits of their endeavours. The people who ultimately succeed are those who are undaunted by disadvantageous circumstances, who waste no time in lamenting over them, and who give their attention instead to overcome whatever difficulties they are faced with.

The truly successful person is one who can carry his ambitions into effect no matter what hurdles he has to leap over. He is the one who will arrive at his destination no matter what obstacles are strewn in his path.

The idea of profiting from one’s losses may seem paradoxical, but it is something definitely worth aiming at, whether it be an individual, a group, or a nation whose welfare is at stake. It is not, after all, the man who has never had to face any difficulties whatsoever who is necessarily the most successful in life. The truly successful person is one who can carry his ambitions into effect no matter what hurdles he has to leap over. He is the one who will arrive at his destination no matter what obstacles are strewn in his path. He is the one who is prepared to battle through fire and water right to the very end.

Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of the evil which men's hands have done. (30: 41)


For Mutual Benefits

WHEN a certain tyre company in the western world was on the point of launching its goods on the market, it ran an advertising campaign that promised that “whoever demonstrated a real defect in the tyres would win a prize of $ 50,000. People naturally flocked to buy them. If they found a defect, well and good. If not, they had nothing to lose, because they would actually have purchased a good set of tyres.

The company did then actually receive many complaints of which 20 percent appeared to be genuine. The complainants were duly sent invitations to a seminar, and their travelling expenses were to be paid for by the company. This allowed them to air their respective views as to how the tyres could be improved. A concrete proposal was finally arrived at by consensus and rewards were distributed at the closure of the seminar.

By taking into consideration the suggestions of its customers, the company was able to improve upon the quality of the original tyre. Although the cost had to be increased considerably, the tyres sold far outnumbered previous sales. Formerly the tyres had been manufactured according to the company’s own formula, while the improved version was based on the opinions and suggestions of the consumers as well. It was only natural that people should regard the product as being far superior to the original one.

It is only sharing and cooperation that can lead to success in this life. It is the principle of give-and-take that should be most active, like two-way traffic.

In this world, all people—not just manufacturers and consumers— are dependent upon one another. It is, therefore, only sharing and cooperation which can lead to success in this life. It is the principle of give-and-take that should be most active, like two-way traffic. A system of benefits can never be a one-way thing, Reciprocity should be the order of the day.


We often talk of peace in the context of war. But this is a very narrow and restricted notion of peace. Peace is deeply linked with the entirety of human life. Peace is a complete ideology in itself. Peace is the only religion for both—man and the universe. It is the master-key that opens the doors to every success. Peace creates a favourable atmosphere for success in every endeavour. Without peace, no positive action—small or big—is possible.


THE simplest principle of the religion of humanity is to treat others just as one would like to be treated by them. The Prophet Muhammad once observed: No one can be a believer until he begins to like for his brother what he likes for himself. (Fath-ul-Bari, 1/73).

With minor differences, these words of the Prophet have been recorded in all the books of Hadith. For instance, according to a Hadith mentioned in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet said: By the Being in Whose Hand is my soul, no one can be a believer as long as he does not like for his neighbour (or brother) what he likes for himself.

No one can be a believer until he begins to like for his brother what he likes for himself.

All individuals, be they literate or illiterate, able-bodied or handicapped, whether of one class or another, are certain at all events of their own likes and dislikes. Now what is required is that they simply follow the principle that whatever behaviour they want from others, they should themselves accord to others. Conversely, whatever behaviour towards themselves they abhor in others should likewise be eschewed by them.

This is such a comprehensive principle that it is useful in relations between men and women, individuals and nations, in the homeland as well as in foreign lands. If people were to adhere to this principle, their family life as well as their social life would improve. National life as well as international life would run more smoothly. It is like a master key to human ethics, one single key which suffices to open all locked doors. One who does not differentiate between his own people and others is a man of principle. His is a contradiction-free personality. And this trait, when properly developed, will turn him into a noble person.


A Lesson from the Mahatma

MAHATMA GANDHI was very shy by nature. In his book, My Experiments with Truth, he confesses that it was a long time before he managed to shake off his shyness. While studying in London, he joined a vegetarian society. At one of its meetings, he was asked to make a speech. He stood up but was unable to express himself. Finally, he brought himself to voice a few words of thanks and sat down. On another occasion, when he was invited to express his ideas on vegetarian food, he set his thoughts down on paper but was not even able to read out what he himself has written. Someone, however, taking pity on him, read his discourse for him.

After passing his examination in law from London, he started his practice in Bombay (now Mumbai). Here again, his shyness was a stumbling block. When he appeared before the judge in his first case, he was so nervous that he could not say anything. He had to tell his client that he would not be able to pursue his case and that he should choose another lawyer for himself.

Mahatma Gandhi was well-known for his thoughtful and economical manner of speech. But this outstanding trait only came from another trait which few would consider outstanding

But, as Gandhiji writes, this apparent disadvantage turned to his advantage:

“My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself a certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escaped my tongue or pen.”

Mahatma Gandhi was well-known for his thoughtful and economical manner of speech. But this outstanding trait only came from another trait which few would consider outstanding. Initially, his shyness prevented him from speaking in public; later, it made him thoughtful and economical when he spoke.


A Chastisement from the Past

MYRIAD hurdles and eventual failure were encountered in implementing the communist ideal of public ownership. This experience has conclusively shown that efforts to collectivize what is essentially a private concern amount to more than a fight against a man-made system. Such efforts are a fight against nature itself, and such a struggle is doomed to failure. One of the basic principles of the Communist ideal is that there should be public ownership of all enterprises, and all goods should be free.

One of the first departments to come under the influence of this ideal was agriculture. Ever since the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, there had been continual attempts, in Russia and other communist countries, to collectivize agriculture, and bring farming entirely under the control of the state. These efforts, however, met with failure.

Private enterprise is not a man-made system. It is an integral part of human nature, and efforts to change human nature are doomed to failure.

The big thrust towards collectivization was initiated in the 1930s by the dictator Josef Stalin (1879-1953). It soon became clear, however, that the transition from private to public ownership would not be smooth. To ward off the threat of starvation, the state awarded plots, averaging 0.3 hectares each, to collective farmers. These plots were to be farmed privately, in order to augment the farmers’ income and ensure that they were not swamped by the wave of the sudden transition from individual to collective farming. This was considered a “temporary evil”, a concession to necessity, which would be disbanded once the legacy of the previous economic system disappeared.

Far from being a temporary evil, however, the predilection for private ownership proved to be more a permanent part of human nature. It is always painful for man to be torn away from his natural environment, and this was no exception. An estimated 5.5 million people died of hunger and associated diseases when they were forced into state and collective farms on Stalin’s orders.

But an even more conclusive indictment of the state-owned system of agriculture came from the fact that, despite massive investments in the public sector, the private sector continued to flourish in the Soviet Union. Thousands of private farmers owned small plots of land in Georgia and central Asia. According to a November 1984 article in Questions of Economy, a monthly journal put out by the Academy of Sciences, Moscow, plots and small holdings accounted for 25% of total agricultural production in the Soviet Union. More than half the nation’s potatoes and roughly a third of its meat, eggs, and other vegetables were produced privately. These figures were even more astounding when compared to the proportion—just 2.8%—those private plots constituted all the farmland in the country.

The prices that privately grown vegetables fetched in Moscow’s central markets made a mockery of the communist ideal of free food for all. According to a Reuter report from Moscow, dated December 28, 1984, tomatoes from Georgia were fetching 15 rubles a kilo on the Moscow market. Cauliflowers from central Asia were going for 12 rubles apiece. Muscovites complained about the high prices, but it was a question of paying them or going without vegetables:

“While Muscovites complain at the swarthy “millionaires” from the South whose big houses and flashy cars are legends, without them fruit and vegetables would be hard to find at all.” (The Muslim, Islamabad, December 29, 1984)

A conclusive indictment of the state-owned system of agriculture came from the fact that, despite massive investments in the public sector, the private sector continued to flourish in the Soviet Union.

All this goes to show that the communist state had failed to provide people with their basic needs of life, let alone provide them free of cost. People had to fall back on the private sector for elementary provisions. The private sector went on to outstrip the public sector, despite the advantages which the latter enjoyed under the patronage of the communist state. Even Russian leaders, faced with the reality that the state alone simply could not meet the nation’s needs, had admitted the importance of the private sector. State planning chief Nikolai Baibakov told a session of the Soviet Parliament:

“Economic leaders should devote more attention to giving help to collective farm workers in managing their private plots.” Thus, communism did a complete U-turn since the days of Stalin when complete collectivization was considered the ideal. There was a grudging acceptance of the inevitability of private enterprise, and the need to assist it.

It is not very difficult to see why the system of private enterprise should be so resilient in face of encroachment by the state. It is because private enterprise is not a man-made system. It is an integral part of human nature, and efforts to change human nature are doomed to failure. Furthermore, the state in itself is not a separate entity. It exists only as a conglomeration of individuals. The incentive for buying and selling, giving and taking, earning and paying wages, must come from the individual; it cannot come from the state. That is why, however much “the state” may seek to accumulate powers to itself, it cannot do so, for eventually the state boils down to the individuals that compose it, and it is inevitably they who will inherit the power, both economic and political, which “the state” apportions to itself.

A person should reflect on the point that he is helpless in every respect, that he cannot survive even for a moment without the life-support system on earth. Even within the life-support system, a virus (e.g. Covid-19) invisible to the naked eye, renders him weak and helpless. These events serve to teach us that man is not the master of the world. The master of this world is God, the Lord of the worlds, who is running it. Therefore, it is proper for man to surrender himself before his Creator.


Ms Gul Zeba Ahmed is a core member of the CPS USA team. She lives in Elliott City, Maryland with her three children. Along the path of the journey toward God-realization, she developed a zeal for sharing the message of the CPS mission with other people. She conducts and takes part in interfaith programmes in her vicinity. She started conducting Quran and Seerah classes for the youth in 2013, which continued till 2020. She keeps in touch with other members of the CPS USA team through Zoom meetings every Sunday. She has taken the initiative to establish a library and educational academy, for girls of age 16 and more. This interview brings to the fore her journey of God-realization and her efforts to introduce the peaceful message of Islam.

Please tell us about your family background and early religious influences.

I had a moderately religious upbringing. My mother was the one who guided my siblings and me on Islamic practices like praying, fasting, and reading Quran. Hifz (memorization of the Quran) was very important to her. I completed hifz when I was 14 years old. I live in the USA with my family. Alhamdulillah, all of my children are involved in this mission.

When did you start looking for more answers to your challenges?

I was surrounded by an Islamic environment since childhood. Later as an adult at my local mosque, I was very active. However, I felt something missing. There was a moment in my life when I felt that I was doing all the things a Muslim should do but did not truly know who God was. I prayed to God to show me a way to get to know Him better.

What was your earlier notion about religion?

Religion is an essential part of life, and it should be drawn from the Scripture. It requires contemplation and active discussion.

How were you introduced to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan?

I was completing a Quran course at Al-Huda International. I would often visit an Islamic bookstore there. I asked the salesperson to show me some new arrivals on Islam. He showed me two Urdu books Raz-eHayat (published as The Secret of Success in English) and Allah-u-Akbar He told me that both books were written by an Indian scholar. That was the first time I was introduced to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and his work. The titles of the books amazed me. I was taken away by Allah-uAkbar and how God is expressed in such a wonderful way. Raz-e-Hayat truly showed me a pathway through the obstacles I was facing in my life at the time. Both these books helped me in the Quran course I was taking at Al-Huda International.

Kindly describe your first meeting with Maulana.

My first meeting with Maulana was in 2010 when he visited the USA with his CPS Delhi team. Listening to him face to face, I realized how simple he was. There was much opportunity for interaction as well. He asked me about the CPS mission. He visited Maryland to attend programmes that we had coordinated. Many people here met him. My husband was amazed by his simplicity.

How did Maulana help you to connect with God and understand His Creation Plan?

Studying Maulana’s books, the Urdu periodical Al-Risala, and listening to his lectures have expanded my thinking capabilities and helped me come to the conclusion that in order to understand your life and path, you need to know God’s creation plan. From his books, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for God’s creation plan.

How did Maulana influence you?

Maulana influenced me through his own deep study of God and the Quran, resulting in his discovery of God. It has truly influenced me because I know that I too can do the same. Kindly share the most inspiring teaching of Maulana. The most inspiring teaching of Maulana for me has been to find positivity in the most negative situations.

What inspired you to devote yourself wholly to the CPS mission?

God’s discovery has inspired me to devote myself to this mission. God is the One I have to answer to and He is the One I want to please. Kindly share some responses of people to whom you gift copies of the Quran.

Generally, the responses I have received upon giving out the Quran have been positive and appreciative. People express amazement that we are putting ourselves out there to share this wonderful Book. Many accept the Quran as a special gift. It is important to find any opportunity to share the Quran. When I travel, I share the Quran with the airline crew.

What inspiration do you draw from Prof Farida Khanam?

She is humble in her interactions. She represents the organization so beautifully. She takes time to listen to others and understand their thoughts and experiences. She has played the role of such an influential mentor for me.

What is your message to the women members of the CPS in particular?

My message to the women members of this mission is that they should study Maulana’s books with concentration so that they can contemplate and analyze events of the past and the present. This is a wonderful way to achieve self-development.

What are your plans regarding this mission and your role in it?

My plans include continuing to work on myself and develop my personality for the better, and distributing more Qurans with our brothers and sisters so that every person has the opportunity to learn the creation plan of God through the Quran. I am aiming my efforts toward the youth through classes. I am very hopeful that they will carry this message forward.

What do you think is the legacy of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan? How can we strive to take it forward?

Maulana has always reiterated the importance of knowledge through his own life and this organization. In 2007 one of my friends sent me a link for the Urdu periodical Al-Risala. It was like a door opened for me.

From Al-Risala, I got the USA CPS team head Mr Khaja Kaleemuddin’s contact. I contacted him and told him that through Maulana’s book, I had discovered God and His creation plan and that I would like to offer my contribution to this noble task. He asked me how many books I had read. I told him that I had read four of his books so far. Kaleem Saheb replied that my contribution to this mission would be to read more of Maulana’s books. He sent me a big box of Maulana’s books. Maulana wanted us to pass along the message of the Quran and to do better with that knowledge. That is his legacy to me.


The State of Emergency

TODAY he came to see me unexpectedly, at an odd hour, and he did not even accept the offer of a cup of tea. He said, “I have to reach home soon. My wife must be waiting for me.” And then, in a hurry, he started his scooter and set off. Barely half an hour later, the telephone bell rang. It was his wife. In a greatly agitated tone, she stammered, “Your friend....” I could hear her sobs and cries, and the meaning of the sentence could be guessed. Putting the receiver down hastily, I rushed to her house. Having said goodbye to me he had reached home, but while climbing the stairs he stumbled and fell. Some people carried him upstairs and the doctor was immediately called, but he could only declare him dead.

When he rode off on his scooter, he had apparently set off for his home but, in truth, he was heading toward death. This is not an unusual event. Such events take place every day and in all kinds of places. On May 26, 1979, a jet aircraft took off from O’Hare airport. Shortly afterward it crashed and burst into flames. All 271 passengers were burnt to death. This accident happened with a small number of people, but such is going to be the fate of all human beings. All men who are on the move are actually heading toward death.

Death is closer to man than life. Everyone is in danger of having come to the end of his period on earth and of being taken off at any moment to the next world from where he will never come back.

Death is closer to man than life. Everyone is standing on the verge of death. Everyone is in danger of having come to the end of his period on earth and of being taken off at any moment to the next world from where he will never come back. Then his residence will be one of either eternal Hell or eternal Heaven.

When a blind man comes across a well on his way, everyone knows that the greatest thing at that moment is to warn him of it. How strange it is that the whole human race is standing on the brink of the most dangerous precipice, yet one never feels the need to give warning of it. When a servant of God gives a danger signal, far from being appreciated he is ridiculed and labelled a traitor. He is accused of wanting to lull the nation into the comfortable sleep of cowardice, of trying to dampen the spirit of a holy war among the Muslims, and of wanting to shift the emphasis from real issues. He is vilified as being not the messenger of life but of death and doom. Humanity stands on the brink of a precipice, but people are so disinclined to look in front of them that they have the illusion of being safe at home. People are heading toward death but are happy with the thought that they are advancing on the journey of life.


The Most Harmful Emotion

WHEN the Delhi Sultanate suffered a decline in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, many independent Muslim and Hindu chiefs and nobles, declared their independence.

Among these kingdoms, the most powerful was the Bahmani Kingdom of the Deccan, which was established in 1347 after a revolt against Sultan Mohammed Bin Tughlaq. The first ruler, Ala-ud-Din Hasan Bahman Shah (Hasan Gangu), traced his ancestry back to the ancient King Bahman of Iran. Hasan established his capital at Gulbarga and set about extending the boundaries of his kingdom. After he died in 1358, he was succeeded by his son Muhammad Shah I, who established the new city of Bidar, to which he shifted his capital.

During the 180 years of its existence (1347-1527), the Bahmani Sultanate saw its most successful and prosperous period between 1463 and 1481, when Mahmud Gawan was the minister. Muhammad Shah III ascended the throne when he was only 8 or 9 years old. Mahmud Gawan was appointed vizier (chief minister) to help manage the affairs of the state. Given the power to act for the King, he not only extended the empire but also gave it great stability, through the wisdom of his policies. Duly acknowledging his abilities, the Encyclopaedia Britannica calls him “the most notable personality of the period…, a leading administrator.” (9/372)

Though the entire reins of the administration fell into the hands of Mahmud Gawan due to the lazy, comfort-loving temperament of the reigning monarch, Mohammad Shah III, he never misused his powers. Indeed, he lived his life with the utmost simplicity and devotion to duty, eating out of earthen vessels, sleeping on a mat, working with great industry, and never wasting a moment of his time. That his objectives were worthy may be judged by his having donated over three thousand books from his personal library to a school which he had set up in Bidar. The ruins of this school are still in existence. But the nobles of the court, ignoring his uprightness and the progress he had brought to the country, could think of nothing but the position of prestige and authority which he held.

Consumed with envy, they resolved to oust him. By devious methods, they obtained possession of his official seal and used it on a forged letter, purportedly from Gawan to Rajah Rainer Singh, the then ruler of Vijayanagara, which they then showed to Muhammad Shah III, to prove to him that his minister was about to enter into a conspiracy to overthrow him. Convinced that Gawan was a traitor, the King had him put to death on April 5, 1481. He later realized what a grave mistake he had made, and, grief-stricken and filled with remorse, he himself died less than a year later on March 22, 1482.

The main culprit in this plot was Malik Nayeb who, a mere five years after the death of his victim, was himself brutally murdered by his opponents. After the death of Gawan, the Bahmani Sultanate could not recover its stability, and it came to an end with the death of its last king. After numerous rebellions, this one sultanate was split up into five separate kingdoms.

Jealousy and envy are the opposites of well-wishing. These are destructive emotions that a person may harbour towards fellow human beings. The Prophet of Islam warned against these emotions on many occasions. He said, “Beware of jealousy. Verily, it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” (Abu Dawood) That is why believers are instructed to seek refuge in God ‘from the evil of the envier when he envies.’ (113: 5)


Name of the Book: Woman in Islamic Shariah

Author: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Pages: 160

ISBN: 9788187570318

Reviewed by: Mr Tauseef Ahmad Parray

Regarding women and Islam, the author, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has three significant books to his credit: Women between Islam and Western Society, Woman in Islamic Shariah and Women: The Builders of Humankind as well as many booklets such as Polygamy and Islam, Concerning Divorce and Hijab in Islam.

Women in Islamic Shariah consists of eleven chapters that discuss the status of women in Islam in the light of the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, womanhood in Islam, the qualities of Muslim women, the rights and duties of the husband and wife in the first five chapters., The remaining chapters offer a detailed discussion of concepts and issues relating to divorce, polygamy, dowry, hijab, etc., in light of Islamic teachings and history. The book concludes with a chapter on “success in marriage”.

In his ‘Foreword’, the author quotes the statement of Edward William Lane (Selections from Kuran, London, 1982, p. xc) that ‘the fatal blot in Islam is the degradation of women”. For Khan, this ‘ill-considered observation gained such currency’ in the succeeding centuries that instead of having ‘elapsed since then’, it has so ‘deepened’ as ‘if it were an established fact’ (p. 11). Against this backdrop, he asserts that ‘to interpret the Islamic concept of womanhood as a ‘degradation’ of women is to distort the actual issue. Islam has never asserted that women are inferior to men: it has only made the point that ‘women are differently constituted’ (Ibid.). This is precisely the main theme and thesis of this book.

Quoting many Quranic verses (like 2: 228; 3: 195; 4: 7, 19, 124; 9: 71; 16: 97; 30: 21; 40: 40) as well as sayings of the Prophet Muhammad related to women, Khan, in chapter 1, “Quran and Hadith”, affirms that both foundational sources of Islam ‘give detailed commandments regarding women, and also lay down clear guidelines for the relationship between men and women’ and they also ‘highlight the most important aspects of feminine virtues and the standing which a woman should have vis-à-vis her husband and father’ (p. 15). In the second chapter, “The qualities of a believing woman”, he refers to the ‘basic attributes of men and women’ as depicted in Quran 33: 35. These are Islam, Iman (faith), Qunut (sincere obedience to God), Sidq (truthfulness), Sabr (patience), Khushu (apprehension, fear), Sadaqah (charity), Sawm (fasting), Ihsan (chastity), Dhikr (remembrance of God), and Tawbah (repentance), Ibadah (worship) and Siyahah (itinerancy), respectively (pp. 21–24).

These qualities, taken together ‘constitute an ideal, not just for men, but for both sexes’, and they ‘form the basis of Islam’ as well (p. 25). In this chapter, he further asserts that as “men function on different planes of religiosity, so do women have their own separate spheres of religious effectiveness”; and besides the domestic sphere, it is possible for a “talented woman to further the cause of religion when the right opportunity presents itself” (pp. 25, 26). In this case, he cites the examples of Aishah, wife of the Prophet Muhammad and the daughter of Imam Abu Jafar al-Tahawi, and their contribution to sacred knowledge showing ‘the nature and extent of the contribution which can be made by believing Muslim women to the cause of Islam’ (p. 27).

Similarly, in the third chapter, “Womanhood in Islam”, Khan quotes Quran 4: 1, O Mankind, fear your Lord who created you from one soul and created man’s mate from the same soul and demystifies the notion that ‘Eve was created from Adam’s rib’ in its explanation, saying that it is a ‘biblical explanation [Bible, Genesis, 2: 21–23], not a Quranic one’, for there is not a single verse which supports this notion. On the contrary, the fact is that ‘Eve was created—not from Adam himself—but from the same species as Adam,’ as is elucidated in several verses like Quran 16: 72; 30: 21; and 42: 11, wherein the word for ‘Soul (nafs) has been used to mean “species”’ (pp. 28–29). He summarizes this discussion aptly in these words: ‘women and men are from the same species. Biologically speaking, women have not been extracted from the bodies of their male counterparts. God fashioned them according to His Will, just as He fashioned men in accordance with His Almighty Will and Power’ (p. 30). As for sayings of the Prophet such as ‘women have been created from a rib’ and ‘a woman is like a rib, if you try to straighten it, it will break’, he is of the opinion that these should be ‘taken metaphorically, not literally,’ for they refer to ‘the delicacy of women’s nature’ (pp. 31, 33).

“The status of woman” is dealt with in the 4th chapter, and Khan stresses, in unequivocal terms, that in Islam ‘a woman enjoys the same status as that of a man”, as is evident from Quran 3: 195, You are members, one of another. ‘There is no difference between man and woman as regards status, rights, and blessings both in this world and in the Hereafter. Both are equal participants as far as the carrying out of the functions of daily living is concerned’ (p. 38). He further mentions that the ‘biological division of human beings into male and female is the result of purposeful planning on the part of the Creator. Man and woman in the eyes of Islam are not duplicates of one another, but the complements’ and the ‘Islamic precepts for men and women are based on their respective, natural constitutions’ (pp. 38–39).

Similarly, in the explanation of Quran 4: 34, Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has made some of them to excel others, Khan states that it is ‘an additional quality, and not a quality of superiority’ (p. 46), because the Arabic word Fadilah is ‘used in the scriptures to indicate the additional, masculine quality of protectiveness. For a household to be properly run, it should, of necessity, have a guardian. Guardianship is rightly entrusted to the family member who is best qualified to undertake this responsibility—namely, the husband, for protectiveness is a virtue which has been granted by nature in greater measure to men than to women. Far from mentioning absolute masculine superiority, the above-quoted verse only implies that man is the master in the home because of the additional attributes with which he has been endowed by nature’ (pp. 46–47).

In the 5th chapter, the author highlights the contribution of some “Muslim Women” (pp. 49–78) in Islamic history, who have ‘played significant roles and, by their feats, have demonstrated not only the vast arena which Islam affords them for the performance of noble and heroic deeds but also the exaltedness of the position accorded to women in Islamic society’ (p. 49). Here he refers to Aishah who is presented as a ‘woman of notable intelligence, whose intellectual gifts were fittingly utilized in the service of Islam’; the example of Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus, and Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the Prophet’s first wife, who are presented as ‘Two Remarkable Women’ who ‘subordinated their own wills to that of the Almighty’ (pp. 49, 50–51). In this chapter, he also refers to the examples of women of his own family who ‘in times of dire distress, were totally Islamic in their conduct’ (p. 70). All this is thus mentioned to reveal that the ‘position of women in Islam... is a matter neither of conjecture, abstract theory nor of ancient history ... [but] is a matter of actual fact’ (p. 69).

In the 6th chapter, the author discusses the ‘rights of the husband and wife” (pp. 79–94) and argues that the ‘rights of men and women are not a matter of legal lists, but rather a matter of good living’ (p. 93).

These are followed by a detailed discussion, in the light of Islamic teachings and historical evidence, on concepts and issues concerning divorce, polygamy, dowry, and hijab in Islam in chapters 7 to 10, respectively.

The book ends with a chapter on “Success in Marriage”, in which the author cites real-life examples. He draws these conclusions: ‘The secret of a successful marriage is the ability to forge bonds of loyalty’ and ‘happiness in marriage is closely linked with awareness’ (p. 153–154).


Goodword Books is an award-winning publishing company with a splendid range of Islamic Books in many languages. It offers innovative products for children, including Quran stories, moral stories, craft and activity books, gift packs, Islamic games, Arabic and Islamic readers for home and school.

Name of the Book: The Greatest Stories

from the Quran

Author: Dr Saniyasnain Khan

Pages: 64

ISBN: 9788178980973

Saniyasnain Khan is a children’s author, with over 100 children’s books to his credit. These are on subjects relating to Islam and a number of them have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He hopes that his books will be a true companion on the path of spiritual development and will help children know the true purpose and meaning of life.

Bring Quran Stories to Life for Your Kids! 30 action-packed Quran stories cover the periods from the Creation of the Prophet Adam to the devastating floods of the Prophet Nuh, from the days of the cruelty of Firawn to the times of the Prophet Musa, from the days of the Prophet Isa to the advent of the Prophet Muhammad. Each one of these stories is short enough to finish in one sitting. Use The Greatest Stories from the Quran in the classroom or at home, at bedtime, or at any other time. It’s the perfect way to begin your child’s lifetime adventure of reading the Quran! Here is a selection from the book.


Long, long ago, during the sixth century B.C. King Dhul Qarnayn ruled the lands from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River. He was just and righteous, protecting the weak and punishing the lawbreakers.

When he took his armies to the Northeast of Iran, he reached the Caucasus Mountain range which runs between the Caspian and the Black Seas. Once, in that region, he met a tribe who begged him to protect them from the wild tribes, the Yajuj and the Majuj (Gog and Magog) who kept coming through the mountain passes and attacking them.

Dhul Qarnayan asked for iron blocks and molten brass, and, with the help of the local people, he built a barrier across the valley to hold back the Yajuj and Majuj.

After conquering a major part of the then-inhabited world Dhul Qarnayan had lost none of his humility.

He gave the entire credit for his feats to the blessing of Allah. Of the iron wall he had built, he said:

“This is a blessing from my Lord. But when my Lord’s promise has been fulfilled, He will level it to dust. And the promise of my Lord is true.”


A Sure Way to Equanimous Living

THE Prophet Muhammad once observed: Moderate action is the best of all actions. The Caliph Ali advised the people: “Adopt the middle path.” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 154/2) The middle path means the path of moderation. One instance of it can be seen in the following verse of the Quran: Be neither miserly nor so open-handed that you suffer reproach and become destitute. (17: 29) The same point, worded differently, has been made in another verse which characterizes ‘the true servants of the Gracious One’ as “those who are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but keep a balance between the two.” (25: 67)

According to this verse, moderate spending means neither lavishness nor miserliness but rather a balanced expenditure that will make life much easier to lead. In the same way, as regards optional fasts, prayers, etc., a middle path is desirable for man, as this enables him to maintain such a pattern of behaviour over a long time.

This middle path—the best path to follow— relates to all spheres of life. Man must shun extreme paths in all matters, for this is in accordance with both the spirit of religion as well as with worldly success.

One who does not follow a moderate path will exceed all bounds both in friendship and in enmity. He will also be given to undue optimism and pessimism in respectively positive and negative situations.

The middle path, to put it differently, is the non-emotional way. If a man loses his mental balance when confronted with any difficult situation in life, he goes to one extreme or the other. But if he keeps his feelings under control, he will be able to determine the proper course of action by giving it ample thought. A well-considered deed is always a moderate one. One who does not follow a moderate path will exceed all bounds both in friendship and in enmity. He will also be given to undue optimism and pessimism in respectively positive and negative situations and will unnecessarily regard some individuals as too bad and others as too good. However, it is the verdict of nature that in this world a moderate approach in life always succeeds, while taking the path of extremes inevitably leads to failure.


Make the Best Use of Life

PUBLIUS SYRUS was a Latin writer of the first century BC. The following sentence is attributed to him: “A good opportunity is seldom presented and is easily lost.” An observation that may well be taken out of the Roman context and universally applied. For it is a matter of common circumstance that chances to make progress in this world do not conveniently present themselves at every juncture. They are few and far between. But most people, unconvinced of how imperative it is to realize their special importance, fail to grasp them in time. Thus, golden opportunities are lost forever, and all that remains is regret at having so foolishly missed them.

Everyone in this world should behave as a morally responsible servant of God and everyone is given equal opportunities to do so. Yet, in the Hereafter, there will be some who will flounder on the question of missed opportunities.

The same is true of the Hereafter but on a scale barely appreciable by human beings. There are wholly different dimensions of eternal bliss or eternal damnation to be taken into consideration. Everyone, of course, has been given opportunities in the present world to act in the interest of his salvation in life after death. But these are opportunities that are very seldom realized. And then death— the great cut-off point—comes and puts an end to opportunities for all time.

After death, when man’s eyes are opened, he will receive a severe shock. He will find himself doomed to eternal regret at having squandered unparalleled opportunities, owing to his ignorance, foolishness, and lack of any sense of timeliness.

Everyone in this world should behave as a morally responsible servant of God and everyone is given equal opportunities to do so. Yet, in the Hereafter, there will be some who will flounder on the question of missed opportunities, while there will be others who will pass the divine test because of opportunities seized and turned to good advantage. It will be obvious on that Day which of God’s servants availed of opportunities to serve Him, and which of them did not.

This ultimate reckoning should make us examine our lives with greater earnestness. As we are sufficiently aware of the fact—considering that none of us are immortal—that we cannot go through life allowing one opportunity after another to slip through our fingers. We cannot surely expect to be offered unlimited chances for our salvation. And once death intervenes, looking for alternative possibilities beyond the grave becomes meaningless. There we are ineluctably faced with an eternity of success or an eternity of failure.


From The Scriptures

The Quran is the book of God. It has been preserved in its entirety since its revelation to the Prophet of Islam between CE 610 and 632. It is a book that brings glad tidings to humankind, along with divine admonition, and stresses the importance of man’s discovery of the Truth on a spiritual and intellectual level.

Translated from Arabic and commentary by

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Have you seen one who denies the Day of Judgement? Who turns away the orphan, and who does not urge the feeding of the poor? So, woe to those who pray but whose hearts are not in their prayer. Those who do things only to be seen by others, who are uncharitable even over very small things. (107: 1-7)

This chapter, which has seven verses, draws our attention to the Day of Judgement when we shall be held responsible for all our good or bad actions. It also deplores the ways of those who deny the Day of Judgement, treat the helpless with contempt, and lead arrogant, selfish lives. They do not extend the slightest courtesy or kindness to their fellow human beings, their hearts being empty of Faith.

The hypocrites may put on a pretence of doing good deeds, but these hollow acts will not avail them. This chapter also warns those who are ‘heedless in their prayer.’

Belief in the reckoning of the Hereafter makes a man pious. One who does not believe in this will be devoid of all goodness; he will be neglectful of prayer to God; he will not be ashamed of pushing over a weak person; he will not think it necessary to discharge the dues and rights of the poor; he will not even give to others such things as will cause him no substantial loss—even if it be only matchsticks or his good wishes.


The remedy for ignorance is asking questions. (Prophet Muhammad)

The spirit of enquiry is the hallmark of an open society and the above saying of the Prophet aptly illustrates this principle. A culture of curiosity and open-mindedness will foster development in any society by motivating its members to learn enthusiastically and enrich their knowledge. This is because awareness of one’s ignorance is half of knowledge, as it becomes a stepping-stone to seeking and finding answers. A questioning mind is like a flowing river that is replenished with fresh thoughts and ideas and continues on its journey.


Can Muslims and followers of other religions live peacefully in the long term, considering the fact that wherever Islam exists there is always a potential for conflict?

There is conflict even between two members of a family. This is because conflict is inherent in human nature; it has got nothing to do with the religion one follows. If people have the right thinking and are able to tolerate, then peace will prevail. What we see in the media regarding Islam is an outcome of selective reporting which is meant to capture only sensational news, so that viewers can get interested. There are many societies and cultures around the world where interfaith harmony exists, and a free secular atmosphere has been established.

How do you see Western cultural influences in contrast to Muslims’ way of life?

Cultural influence exists everywhere. African Muslims are very different from Russian Muslims in their culture. The cultural difference should never be the yardstick for evaluating Islam. Islam should be judged on the basis of character.

How can trust be built between Muslims and other communities?

Trust does not happen simply by saying ‘trust each other’. We have to remove the obstruction in this matter. This obstruction can be named ‘negativity’. The wisdom behind this is that every person is free in this world to use his or her freedom. You too can use your freedom. If we want no unwanted discussions to take place in the world and that only trust should remain, then we need to remove negativity for others from our hearts. Once these negative emotions are removed, feelings of trust will blossom.

How should Muslims treat people of other faiths living in Muslim countries?

Today we live in a world of equal citizenship. Any such categorization of people as ‘Muslim’ or ‘non-Muslim’ is wrong and no longer valid. So, a person is either an immigrant to a country or a citizen of the country. This is the universal norm and Muslim countries should also adopt this principle. They should not differentiate people on the basis of religion.

Should we not encourage Muslims to open communication with other communities?

Yes, this is definitely required. We have an example from the Prophet's life where a meeting was conducted with Jews and Christians in the Prophet's mosque in Madinah. The followers of three faiths gathered in one place. They carried out dialogues and discussions on various religious topics for many days. This was truly a great congress which the city of Madinah (then known as Yathrib) had witnessed. Although Islam believes in the oneness of reality, it lays equal stress on the practice of respect in everyday dealings with others. Open communication has been the rule throughout the history of Islam. It has, in fact, been one of the main underlying causes for its successful dissemination. Does Islam allow Muslims to wish people of other faiths on their festivals? Absolutely! Opportunities for engaging in interaction should never be lost. Greeting others is a part of social ethics and not a part of the belief system. One must strive to live peacefully and humbly in society. Society is the sub-unit of a nation, which is diverse yet interconnected. When the members of society acknowledge their diversity despite having different beliefs, they nurture a healthy atmosphere of open interaction, mutual learning, and peaceful coexistence. All religions believe they are right, then how can they coexist? The workable formula is to "Follow one and respect all". Religious acceptance requires that everyone be allowed to present their thoughts and be given a quiet hearing. Islam inculcates the mindset that the way to prosper is to ignore the matters that divide one from others and concentrate on cultivating areas of mutual concern. Further, Islam insists on human-friendly behaviour and does not instill any fear into its adherents that they will lose their identity by cooperating with people who hold divergent views. In fact, Islam encourages the intellectual exchange for greater learning and wisdom. Can a Muslim be secular? Yes. First, let us understand that secularism is not an anti-religious idea. There is a 20-volume book called Religion and Ethics. It is a compendium of the writings of some great scholars and is considered to be a very authentic and authoritative compilation. There is an article on secularism in this book which runs into twenty pages. It says that secularism is another name for the policy of non-interference. Secularism in itself is not anti-religion, but rather it is following the principle of non-interference in matters of religion. A secular person is one who practices his own religion and does not interfere with the religious practice of other people.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan