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Islam Deen Articles Part 10

Part 10 Articles Con't


Source:SV

8 tips for getting your kids up for Fajr during the school year

Amr ibn Shuaib related on his fatherís authority that his grandfather reported Rasulullah (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: ďInstruct your children to observe Salat (the five daily prayers) when they are seven years old, and tap them if they do not observe it when they are ten years old and then do not let them sleep in one bed.Ē (Abu Daud). Back-to-school means more than just new school supplies and more challenging homework for kids: it also indicates a slip back into the routine of getting up early to catch the bus, and if possible, some breakfast before rushing out.

Itís hard enough getting the kids out of bed to get to school on time. But do you ever wonder how some parents get their kids to pray Fajr during school days and get to school on time? Well, itís not so impossible for some parents. Just ask Jamilah Kolocotronis, the mother of six boys ages 4 to 17, all of whom pray Fajr prayer. ďFour [of them] are over the age of ten so they have to make Salat,Ē she explains matter-of-factly. Kolocotronis is also a Social Studies teacher at the Islamic School of Kansas City in Missouri. Another parent whose kids regularly pray Fajr is Abdalla Idris Ali. He is currently a member of the Islamic Society of North Americaís (ISNA) Majlis Shura, which debates Islamic issues and establishes policy for the organization. They have suggested eight ways parents can help their kids wake up for Fajr this school year (and beyond!).

Tip #1: Get them to go to bed early Never underestimate the power of a good nightís rest. This is crucial in ensuring Jehan or Amin are not just attentive in class, but that they remain healthy as well. Parents can do more in this area than just setting a specific bedtime and enforcing it. They must set the example by also going to bed early and not wasting time on late night television or just lounging around. This way, the whole family is in synch and has a regular schedule. ďWe have to help our kids set up their schedules,Ē notes Kolocotronis.

Tip #2: Avoid too much junk food What are childhood and adolescence without chips, candy bars and soft drinks? These types of food are high in sugar and tend to make people hyper and lazy, kids included. Reducing junk food intake, or limiting it to weekends, as well as increasing kidsí consumption of fruits and vegetables will ensure a healthier diet, and less sluggishness. Even the time kids consume junk foods should be limited to between Zuhr and Maghrib, as opposed to early in the morning or late at night, before bed, Kolocotronis suggests.

Tip #3: Get them all alarm clocks In most cases getting to bed on time and reducing junk food intake should be enough to ensure your kids wake up for Fajr. But there are always those of us, and this goes for kids as well, who need a virtual explosion outside our bedroom windows to wake us up (this writer included). In this case, the alarm clock becomes your ally. If youíre stumped for Eid gift ideas for your kids, buy them a nice alarm clock with a beautiful Adhan. Not only will this be an attractive item to decorate their shelf or desk table with, but they will also wake up hearing the call to prayer. Most of these types of clocks are available in North America at Muslim stores. If there is no such store or you canít find it in your community, order it, or bring it back as a gift for Aminah or Saeed when you go for Hajj, Umra, or to a Muslim country where these clocks are sold. If this is also not possible, get any alarm clock. The louder the better. And donít just think you have to use only one alarm clock. If waking up is a very severe hardship in your household, buy and set a series of alarm clocks at various places in the home. Idris Ali describes how one Muslim brother who has a very hard time waking up has established a system using two alarm clocks. One is set in the hallway, away from his bedroom, and a second one in the bathroom. That way, even if he shuts off the alarm in the hallway and goes back to bed, he will have to get up for the one in the bathroom. At that point, there really is no point in turning back.

Tip #4: Assign one of the kids the responsibility for waking everyone up This should instill enough responsibility in any personís heart to force them to wake up for Fajr. It reminds them that if they oversleep and miss Fajr, mom, dad, and all brothers and/or sisters will be missing it too, all because of him or her. ďThey take it as a responsibility and a challenge,Ē explains Idris Ali of the wisdom of this method to get kids to wake up for Fajr. Using this method also stresses the importance of Fajr prayer, and creates a sense of dutifulness and responsibility. The kids should take turns doing this, but the older ones should be made responsible for getting the younger ones up. Assigning a responsibility can also be extended to calling the Adhan in the house. This means if you give Ameer or Hassan the responsibility for calling the Adhan on different days, they will also be forced to get up, while their older brother Mahmud may be responsible for waking everyone up.

Tip #5: Attach getting up for Fajr with a certain privilege That means, for instance, that if Jameel misses Fajr on Thursday morning, he will not be allowed to go over to his friendís place later that evening. Doing this emphasizes that praying Fajr is not just something that is ďgood to doĒ. It is something all Muslims have to do upon reaching a certain age, and there are consequences for not doing so.

Tip #6: Avoid rewarding them for praying Fajr Idris Ali does not recommend rewarding kids for getting up and praying Fajr, because it is possible they will stop doing so once the reward is given. ďWe want to move from expecting only a reward to loving Allah,Ē he notes. Emphasizing the need to be grateful to Allah for all of things He has blessed us with should also stress the importance of prayer, especially Fajr, which is often hard to get up for.

Tip #7: For teenagers: make sure they have friends who pray Fajr While it is usually easier to encourage young kids to pray Fajr (which may explain the wisdom of the Hadith at the beginning of this article), itís harder to get teenagers not used to praying to do so. In this case, itís important that they develop friendships with other practicing Muslims their age. This will have a positive effect on them, and they are more likely to listen to their peers and follow their example at this age, than their parents. You can start doing this by widening your circle of family friends to include practicing Muslim families who have (also practicing) kids your son or daughterís age. As well, invest in sending your kids to Muslim youth camps regularly, where the habit of praying Fajr is practiced. A one-week camp may be better in this regard, since it gives more time to develop the habit of praying in general, as opposed to a two or three-day camp.

Tip #8: Establish a Fajr wake up calling system This can work for adults too, but especially teenagers. Get your kids to call up their friends to wake them up for Fajr and vice-versa. This will serve as positive peer pressure, and will feel less like mom or dad are nagging them to get up. They can also drive to the local Masjid if they have their driverís license, with their friends, making this a way to pray and meet friends, and in turn increase brotherhood. Girls can also call each other to wake up for Fajr. They can do Jamaah prayer at home with the women of the household if they are not able to go to the Masjid. Praying Fajr is difficult for many Muslims, of all ages. But as Idris Ali notes, a person who can wake up and pray Fajr can perform the other prayers easily. Letís encourage this habit in our kids this school year.



Why Do We Pray?

By Sameh Strauch, Abridged from: "Why Do We Pray?" by Dr. Suhaib Hasan, Zayed Centre for New Muslims,

After a long and hectic day at work, how difficult it is for a tired person to go out to the mosque and concentrate on his prayers to Allaah, the Almighty. Snuggled up in a warm and cozy bed, how difficult it is to get up at the call of the Mu`azzin: "Come to prayer! Come to success!" The famous doctor and philosopher, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), recalls such a moment in his life. One cold and icy night, he and his slave were resting at an inn in a remote part of Khuraasaan. During the night, he felt thirsty, so he called to his slave to bring him some water. The slave had no desire to leave his warm bed, so he pretended not to hear Ibn Sinaís call. But finally, after repeated calls, he reluctantly got up and went to fetch the water. A little while later, the melodious sound of the azaan (call to prayer) filled the air. Ibn Sina began to think about the person calling the people to prayer. "My slave, ĎAbdullaah, he mused, has always respected me and admired me. He seizes any opportunity to lavish praise and affection on me, but tonight he preferred his own comfort to my needs. On the other hand, look at this Persian slave of Allaah: He left his warm bed to go out into the chilly night, he made ablution in the icy water of the stream, and then he ascended the high minaret of the mosque to glorify Him Whom he truly serves: "I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah." Ibn Sina records: "I learned the essence of true love, that love which results in complete obedience." The love of Allaah demands total and unconditional obedience. Allaah, the Almighty says: { Say [oh, Muhammad!]: "If you love Allaah, follow me: Allaah will forgive you your sins, for Allaah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful } (Soorah 3:31)

Prayer: A Cry of the Inner Soul His arrogance and pride have often led man to behave as an oppressor and a tyrant. Some men have been carried away by their own self-importance that they have even claimed divinity. Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt, was among those who announced: "I am your supreme Lord!" With his sense of greatness and pride, Pharoah subjugated the Israelites and made their lives wretched and miserable. But is man really as strong and great as his ego tells him? The Qur`aan tells us the reality of manís nature: { It is Allaah Who created you in a state of weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength, gave you weakness and a hoary head: He creates what He wills, and He is the All-knowing, the All-powerful } (Soorah 30:54)

Weakness in the beginning and weakness in the end: This is the essence of man. He is so weak and helpless at birth that his entire existence depends on his parents and his family. If he were to be abandoned in these first crucial years, he could not survive on his own. He needs a gentle and loving hand, not only in his infancy, but in his childhood and even in his teenage years. As this child enters the years of youth and independence, he begins to take control of his own life. He looks with pride at his strong physique, his handsome features and his many talents. He begins to despise those of lesser abilities, even scorning his parents, who exhausted their own health to nurture him. He becomes unjust and cruel, using his strength and vigour to dominate others. He thinks he is master, free to act as he wills. But does this youth, these good looks last forever? In only a few decades, he begins to lose his strengthÖhis youth is replaced by old age. Weakness in the beginning, weakness in the end." The message is clear: The real Master is Allaah. He Alone is Mighty, He Alone, is Great. He Alone is never tired, never needs rest, is never dependent upon anyone. Allaahu Akbar! - Allaah is the Greatest! In our everyday lives, we say a warm thank you for the small acts of kindness which others do for us. So what about thanking Allaah, Who, in His infinite Mercy, has provided for every single one of our needs. Just observe the beauty and perfection of the earth around you and fall down in gratitude to your Lord.

Prayer: The Ascension for a Believer After the Messenger of Allaah e was commissioned for Prophethood, the first thing he was commanded to do by Allaah was to pray. The angel Jibreel u came to him and a spring of water gushed out of the rocks in front of them. Jibreel u then showed Allaahís Messenger how to make ablution. He then showed him how to offer prayers to Allaah. He began to pray two rak`ah twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. He then went home and showed his wife Khadeejah what he had learnt from the angel Jibreel u. From that time, the Prophet e never went through a day without praying. Just before his migration to Madinah, he was taken on a night journey to Jerusalem and then to the heavens (Mi`raaj). During this journey, Allaah, Almighty, ordered him to pray five times a day. This prayer was a gift given to every Believer to enable him to experience a spiritual ascension five times a day. The Prophet said: "The prayer is the Mi`raaj of the Believer." It gives every Muslim the chance to communicate with his Lord. During each prayer, the Muslim recites Soorah Al-Faatihah: This recitation is not a dull monologue by the Believer, but Allaah promises that it is a conversation between Him and the worshipper. The Messenger of Allaah reported that Allaah, the Almighty says: ĎWhen my slave says in his prayer: "All praise is for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds," I say: "My slave has praised Me" When he says: "The Merciful, the Compassionate, Master of the Day of Judgement," I say: "My slave has glorified Me." When he says: "You Alone we worship and your Aid we seek," I say: "This is between Me and My slave." When he says: "Show us the Straight Path," I say: "This is for My slave, and I give My slave what he wants." The Messenger of Allaah once said: "Prayer is the pillar of religion." (Narrated by Al-Baihaqi) He also informed us that Islaam is built upon five pillars, the second being to establish prayer five times a day. (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari) This makes the image very clear: Islaam is like a building supported by five columns; remove just one column and the entire building weakens. In the same way, when a person stops praying, his faith becomes weak, and the mildest blows can cause it to crumble. The prayer is so very important that the Prophet said: "Verily, between man and polytheism and disbelief is abandoning prayer." (Narrated by Muslim)

Allaah says, concerning the plight of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement, that they will be asked by the Believers: { "What led you into the Hell-fire?" They will say: "We were not of those who prayed." } (Soorah 74:42-43). Allaah also says: { Successful indeed are the Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers } (Soorah 23:1-2), and: { And those who guard [strictly] their worship, such will be the honoured ones in the Gardens [of Bliss] } (Soorah 70: 34-35). Allaah has emphasized the need for humility and concentration in prayers. There is no doubt that Satan is the most bitter enemy of man; he always tries to disturb the Believerís prayers. He (the worshipper) finds his mind suddenly engulfed with memories, problems, worries, work and his familyÖ and he will often find himself wondering whether he has prayed three rak`ah or four. This is how Satan steals the prayer. Man was created only to worship Allaah. He says: { I created not the jinns and mankind except to worship me } (Soorah 51:56). Man is to live in this world as a worshipper of Allaah and prayer is the best for of worship. On the Day of Judgement, man will have to answer for his deeds. Allaah says: { Then shall you be questioned about the joy [you indulged in] } (Soorah 102:8)



Tharid

Ibn al-Mabrad p. 18

Meat is boiled and bread is moistened with the broth. Yoghurt, garlic and mint are put with it and the meat is put with it. Likewise there is a tharid without meat.

1 1/4 c meat or chicken

2 c water

4 slices bread

1/2 c yogurt

5 small cloves garlic

8 sprigs mint (leaves only)

Cut meat into bite-sized pieces and boil in water about 30-40 minutes, by which time the broth is down to about one cup. Crush bread into broth. Chop garlic and mint, and add them and the yogurt to the bread mixture; serve this sauce over meat.

Lamb or Chicken or Beef & Chickpea Stew

The Prophet Muhammad liked tharid so much that he compared it to his beloved wife Aisha. This recipe is adapted from a 13th century Andalusian cookbook. Soaking Overnight Total second-day time 2 hours

3 cups chickpeas 3 lbs. lamb,or chicken or beef cut into bite-sized cubes

8 cups water

6 cups finely chopped onion

2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

2 tsp. caraway seeds

2 tsp. pepper

6 eggs

1 tbsp. salt

1/2 tsp. saffron in 2 tbsp. water

1/2 cup honey

Enough stale bread for 2 cups of crumbs

6 rounds pita bread, quartered

Put the chickpeas into a large bowl, cover them with cold water and let soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas and set them aside. Put the meat into a large stew pot and cover it with cold water. Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the top. Add the chickpeas, onion, ground and fresh coriander, caraway seeds and pepper; return to a boil, then reduce the heat. Break the eggs directly into the pot so that they will poach along with the stew. Let the stew cook for an hour to an hour and a half, until the chickpeas are done and the meat is tender, add salt and saffron, then remove 1/2 cup of broth from the pot, mix it together with the honey, and pour it back into the pot. Return to a boil and boil vigorously for 3 minutes. Put the pita wedges in the bottom of the serving bowl and pour the tharid over them; or serve the pita wedges alongside the tharid and so that guests may put a few in the bottom of an individual soup bowl, then spoon the stew over the bread.



On The Tip Of A Muslim Tongue

1. Assalaamu Ńlaykum (Peace be upon you) - by way of greetings

2. Wa alaykumus salaam (peace be upon you) - in reply to the greetings

3. Bismillah (in the name of Allah) - before making a beginning

4. Jazakallah (may Allah reward you) - for expression of thanks

5. Fi Amanullah (may Allah protect you) - by way of saying good-bye

6 Subhaanallah (glory be to Allah) - for praising something

7. Insha Allah (if Allah wishes) - for expressing a desire to do something

8. Astaghfirullah (I beg Allah for forgiveness) - repenting for sins before Allah

9. Maa shaa Allah (as Allah has willed) - for expressing appreciation of something good

10. Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah) - for showing gratitude to Allah after success or even after completing anything

11. Yaa Allah (Oh Allah) - when in pain or distress, calling upon Allah and none else

12. Aameen (may it be so) - the end of a Dua or prayer

13. Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon (to Allah we belong and to Him is our return) - this is uttered as an expression of sympathy of the news of some loss or some one's death

SOURCE

The Muslim Woman "Unveiled" "

By Izdehar Albowyha

You look at me and call me oppressed,

Simply because of the way I'm dressed,

You know me not for what's inside,

You judge the clothing I wear with pride,

My body's not for your eyes to hold,

You must speak to my mind, not my feminine mold,

I'm an individual, I'm no mans slave,

It's Allahs pleasure that I only crave,

I have a voice so I will be heard,

For in my heart I carry His word,

" O ye women, wrap close your cloak,

So you won't be bothered by ignorant folk",

Man doesn't tell me to dress this way,

It's a Law from God that I obey,

Oppressed is something I'm truly NOT,

For liberation is what I've got,

It was given to me many years ago,

With the right to prosper, the right to grow,

I can climb moutains or cross the seas,

Expand my mind in all degrees,

For God Himself gave us LIB-ER-TY,

When He sent Islam,

To You and Me!



TIPS FOR TEENS ON HOW TO HANDLE PORNOGRAPHY

Itís hard, especially when youíre a teenager and bombarded with images of sexuality: that hot-looking scantily clad guy or gal in the magazine, grinning at you and luring you; or the persistent emphasis on sex in the movies (even Toy Story!); or the pervasive links to pornography and ad banners that pop up while you may simply be checking your e-mail or researching something for school. How does a young Muslim protect him or herself from all of this? Below are some tips that can help:

Tip 1 - Know what is Halal and whatís not We may think only hard core pornography is Islamically unacceptable. This is not true. Improperly dressed men and women, sexual situations, foreplay, kissing, touching, dirty jokes: none of these are Islamically acceptable. Talk to a trusted Muslim friend, family member of the same gender or an Imam about this. Bring it up and ask them to give you the Islamic perspective.

Tip 2 - Remember your accountability to Allah In America and some other countries, youíre fully responsible for your actions when you turn 18. In Islam, youíre fully accountable as soon as you understand these things. So that means that from that point onwards, you cannot assume looking at this stuff is no big deal. Your eyes will testify about what you looked at on the Day of Judgment. Remember that Allah is always watching. He is Most Just and Merciful, and He rewards us for the good and punishes us for the bad we do.

Tip 3 - Become conscious of the Haram Too often, itís easy to dismiss that billboard with the spandex-and-bikini-top-clad blonde girl advertising gum, or the guy in tight leather pants and no shirt advertising perfume. When you see it, remember the Islamic perspective, your accountability to Allah, and lower your gaze. Do the same for television and the internet. If you keep doing this, insha-Allah, itíll become a habit, and eventually an automatic reaction.

Tip 4 - If feeling overwhelmed, remember Allah In situations where you feel overwhelmed and canít get yourself to switch the channel, close the browser window or turn your eyes away from the billboard, ask Allahís help. You donít necessarily need any heavy duty, long Du'as. "La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah" (there is no power or ability except with Allah) is short, simple, and reminds you who is really in control and can help you out of this.

Tip 5 - Seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan Shaytan lured you into this mess. Seeking refuge in Allah (saying awthu billahi minash Shaytan ir rajeem), will help you resist him and his whisperings to continue looking at the material.

Tip 6 - Get up and leave If you feel unable to control looking at the screen or the magazine, leave the situation. Get out of the living room, your bedroom where the internet is, or where youíve been reading the magazine. Take a walk. Just do something to physically get out of the situation

Tip 7 - Avoid those involved in pornography If one of your friends is into pornographic magazines, websites, dirty jokes etc. either help him or her change through gentle and sincere advice, or abandon frequent contact with them. Their compulsion will affect you, so itís best to stay as far away as possible, by remembering the danger to yourself, your Deen, and your relationship with Allah.

Tip 8 - Stay away from places where itís found Sometimes itís on a billboard on a highway and you canít miss it. But often times, youíll notice certain parts of your city (the seedier ones) tend to be filled with this kind of material (where there are usually strip joints, for example). Avoid these places as much as you can. If itís on your way to school, try to change your route. Also, in summer, stay away from the beach.

Tip 9 - Surf or watch TV when others are around The temptation to sneak a look at dirty pictures or that bikini-clad babe is heightened when youíre alone in your room watching television or surfing the internet. Try to avoid late night TV and internet surfing. Instead, watch or surf when others are around so you can resist the urge to sneak a peek, thinking no oneís watching (and remember Allah is always watching). It is a good idea not to have TV or computer in the bedroom anyway. Living room or study room are better place for this stuff.

Tip 10 - Remember your example If you have younger brothers and sisters, think of the bad example youíre setting for them. What message will they get if they barge into your room and catch you watching Baywatch or flipping through Playboy.

Tip 11 - For brothers, remember your mom and sister Disgusting right? Exactly. No one in his right mind would look at his mom or sister the way many of us look at the Baywatch babes or the girls on the internet or in magazines. Remember mom and your sister, and that should sicken you enough to stop, insha-Allah.

Tip 12 - Have someone watch over you If you really feel youíre becoming addicted to this kind of material, try to watch TV, surf the internet with someone else. You donít have to tell them why youíre doing this, but this method can perhaps keep you in check and help you avoid looking at pornography or other similar material. After all, Shaytan tempts us most easily when weíre alone. Sitting in the company of a family member or good Muslim friend will insha-Allah, help.

Tip 13 - Fast The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to fast to cool passions. This should be a method we use to handle the desire aroused by pornography and similar material.

Tip 14 - Do Tawba and return to Allah If you do end up watching the bad stuff, repent to Allah. Seek His forgiveness, reaffirm your faith in Him, and do good deed to compensate for that sin. He is All-Forgiven as long as you are sincere.

Tip 15 - Repent again and fine yourself If you lapse, do tawba again. Allah is All-Forgiving as long as we mean it. But then you need to discipline yourself by promising to yourself that if I did it again, I will pay this much in charity or fast for a day. The message is that donít give up on yourself. Keep trying. Struggle is life. Shaytan could be creative. And with the help of Allah, you will be the winner insha-Allah.


Dates -The Halal Kind :)

Rich in Proteins, Vitamins Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates. Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said, "If anyone of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. In case he does not have them, then with water. Verily water is a purifier." The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to break his fast by eating some dates before offering Maghrib Salaat, and if ripe dates were not available, he used to substitute them with some dried grapes. When they too were not available, he used to have a few sips of water, according to some reports. Modern science has proved that dates are part of a healthy diet. They contain sugar, fat and proteins, as well as important vitamins. Hence, the great importance attached to them by the Prophet.

Dates are also rich in natural fibres. Modern medicine has shown that they are effective in preventing abdominal cancer. They also surpass other fruits in the sheer variety of their constituents. They contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. In other words, one date satisfies the minimum requirements of a balanced and healthy diet. Arabs usually combine dates with milk and yoghurt or bread, butter and fish. This combination indeed makes a self-sufficient and tasty diet for both mind and body. Dates and date palms have been mentioned in the Noble Qur'aan twenty times, thus showing their importance. The Prophet likened a good Muslim to the date palm, saying, "Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. Its leaves do not fall."

Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals. When the level of trace elements falls in the body, the health of the blood vessels is affected leading to an increased heart-rate and a consequent inability to perform its function with normal efficiency. As dates are also rich in calcium, they help to strengthen the bones. When the calcium content in the body decreases, children are affected with rickets and the bones of adults become brittle and weak. Dates are also important in keeping up the health of eyes. It is quite effective in guarding against night-blindness. In the early years of Islam, dates served as food for Muslim warriors. They used to carry them in special bags hung at their sides. They are the best stimulant for muscles and so the best food for a warrior about to engage in battle.

The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to combine dates with bread sometimes. At other times he mixed ripe dates with cucumber, or dates combined with ghee. He used to take all varieties of dates, but he preferred the variety called Ajwah


Source

Hijab is Like a Pearl

The pea is a splendid plant. It proudly displays its strong green Hijab. It protects it from the hot and cold weather and guards it from insects. Allah has blessed the pea with a special Hijab, because without it, the seeds would scatter, dry up and die.

The orange keeps itself within its shiny orange Hijab to protect its delicious fruit. Otherwise it-looses its taste too.

So are the banana, the coconut and the pomegranate. Each one has an elegant and unique Hijab, which protects it from disease and destruction.

The jewel of the sea, the pearl, has been given a very tough and rugged Hijab - oyster shell. It protects it from sea animals and keeps it sparkling and shining inside.

However, the most beloved of Allah in all His creation is the Muslim girl who wears the Hijab. She knows it is a gift from Allah. It protects her from harm, injury and mischief. She wears it knowing it gives her dignity, beauty and respect. So precious she can be that she hides herself beneath her Hijab. Do you wear a Hijab? Give it a try today!


A Husband's Responsibilities Towards His Family

The family is that brick which forms the foundation of a society. It is composed of individuals that have permanent relations established between them. Most importantly, it possesses almost a majority of the different kinds of personal relations. Because of this, there must be certain etiquettes placed in order to control and regulate these relations. This is such that it can be maintained in the best possible manner, and so that it can generate and produce its proper fruits. Family relations consist of the relationship between the spouses from one perspective, the relationship between the parents and the children from a second perspective, and the relationship between the children themselves from a third perspective.

Etiquettes Of The Husband 1. It is not from the deficiencies, but rather from good manners, that the husband shares in the responsibility of specified matters, such as the mending of garments or what is similar to that.

2. It is appropriate for a man to not restrict himself from serving himself. This is since the wife takes care of the household affairs. So therefore, it is from good manners that the husband extend a helping hand to his wife in the house, during times of necessity, such as when she is sick, pregnant, has given birth or similar to that.

3. The exemplary husband is he who cooperates with his wife by bearing good relations and showing kind manners (to her), according to the full extent of the meaning contained in these (last) two expressions. Truly, the husbands who are best at working alongside their wives are the best of mankind in the view of Islaam. This good way of living between the spouses must be deeply imbedded into the daily marital life, even at the time of divorce.

4. Beware of characterizing the relationship between the spouses with over-seriousness! For indeed characterizing the family life with a militaristic nature amounts to one of the causes for failure and bad results.

5. From the kind and noble manners of the husband is that he complies and assents to the requests of his wife, so long as they are not forbidden in the Religion. And being luxurious in food, drink and clothing is at the entrance of matters forbidden in the Religion.

6. The husband should specify a time in which he can play around and pass free time with his wife.

7. The relationship between the spouses must contain one singular and specific nature. And it cannot be this way unless the couple begins demolishing all the obstacles and impediments that stand between them. For example, the husband should not feel timid and restrain himself from drinking out of the same cup that his wife drinks out of.

8. There is no human being that is perfect. So there is no doubt that the husband will see things in his wife that does not comply with his natural disposition and preferences. If these aspects are not in opposition to the fundaments of the Religion or to the obedience of the husband and his rights, then at that point, he should not try to change her personality so that it complies with his natural preference.

9. And he must always remember that for each member of the couple, there will be an aspect of ones personality that conflicts with the others personality. And he should also remember that if there are some characteristics that he doesn't find pleasing in his wife, then indeed she has other characteristics, which will definitely be pleasing to him.

10. Do not let Ramadaan be a barrier that impedes you from showing affection to your wife, such as by kissing her. But this is so long as you are able to refrain yourself, since what is forbidden during the days of Ramadaan is only sexual intercourse.

11. Do not chase after the errors of your wife and recount them to her, for too much blaming and reprimanding will worsen the relationship between the two of you, and it will pose a threat to your marital life. So overlook your wife's easy ability to make mistakes, and make her falling into them seem like something small.

12. If you are able, do not hold back from providing your wife with good clothing and food, and from being generous in spending money on her. This is of course according to the extent of your ability.

13. Do not give little importance to implementing the punishment required for any acts in opposition to the Religion, which your wife has committed, whether it is in the home or outside it. This should be the main reason that causes you to become angry, thus no other reason should affect you (besides this one).

14. What has been stated previously does not mean that you should leave matters alone until that result comes to happen. Thus, whenever you realize that a matter is left alone, weigh it with seriousness and determination, without being too harsh or rude about it.

15. The woman is the head of the household, the one responsible for it. So do not attempt to meddle into affairs that do not fall into your area of duties and responsibilities, such as the food and the order of the house.

16. Beware of scolding your wife or blaming her for a mistake she committed, in the presence of others, even if they are your own children. For indeed that is an act that goes against correct behavior and it will lead to raising anger in the hearts of people.

17. If you are forced to place punishment upon your wife, then let it be by staying away from her at bedtime. And do not boycott her except that it is done within the household. And avoid using foul language, insulting her, beating her and describing her with repulsive names. For these matters do not befit an exemplary husband.

18. Having jealousy and caring about the modesty of your wife is a praiseworthy thing, which shows your love for her. However it is on the condition that you do not go to great extremes in this jealousy. For then at that point, it would turn into something worthy of no praise.

19. Entering the house: Do not alarm your family by entering upon them suddenly. Rather, enter while they are aware of it, and greet them with Salaam. And ask about them and how they are doing. And do not forget to remember Allaah, the Mighty and Sublime, when you enter the house.

20. Beware of spreading any secrets connected with the intimate encounters you have with your wife, for that is something restricted and forbidden.

21. Constantly maintain the cleaning of your mouth and the freshening of your breath.

22. Guardianship of your wife doesn't mean that you can exploit what Allaah has bestowed upon you from taking charge of her, such that you harm and oppress her.

23. Showing respect and kindness to your wife's family is showing respect and kindness to her. And this applies even after her death, on the condition that it is not accompanied by an act forbidden in the Religion, such as intermingling of the sexes or being in privacy (with them).

24. Too much joking will lead to (your family having) little fear (of disobeying you) and a lack of respect for you. So do not joke too much with your wife.

25. Be considerate that fulfilling the conditions which you promised to your wife during the pre-marriage agreement is a matter possessing the highest of importance and priority. So do not neglect that after getting married.

26. When you lecture your wife or reprimand her or simply speak to her, choose the kindest and nicest of words and expressions for your speech. And do not reprimand her in front of others or in front of your children.

27. It is not proper for you to ask your wife to look for work outside of the house or to spend upon you from her wealth.

28. Do not overburden your wife with acts that she is not able to handle. Consider, with extreme regard, the environment she was raised up in. Rural service is not like urban service, and the service of a strong woman and her preparation for it is not like the service of a weak woman.

29. There is nothing in the obligation of a woman's service to her husband that negates his assisting her in that regard, if he should find the free time. Rather, this is from the good manners of living between the spouses.

by Dr. Marwaan Al-Qaisee


24 Safety Tips for Muslim Women

By Samana Siddiqui

As Muslims and their institutions become targets of harassment in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack, Muslim women, especially those who dress Islamically, have become major targets. Reports of Muslim women being yelled at, threatened, having their Hijabs pulled off and having guns pointed at them have surfaced. It is necessary that the whole community rallies to defend Muslim women. But sisters also have to take personal precautions when they go outside. Like it or not, they will be targets.

Here are some safety tips for sisters:

1. Always be aware of your surroundings This applies whether you are traveling alone or in groups. Donít just focus inwardly on your thoughts if you are alone, or your friends if you are together. Keep one eye out for your environment, looking out for suspicious characters, possible danger, etc. Also, donít assume that because your area has been "safe" thus far, that it will continue to be so.

2. Travel in groups "There is safety in numbers" is not just a cliche. Itís true. Make a point of traveling together with other sisters, whether itís on public transportation, on campus, in cars, etc.

3. Change the route you normally travel by If youíve taken the same bus, train or highway to get to work or school, change your route. Even if it takes you a little longer, your safety is more important. By changing your route, you can avert possible attacks or harassment from those who know your schedule, method and route of travel well. Please note though that you should avoid short cuts that take you through unfamiliar or unsafe areas.

4. Look confident Walk with a straight posture and your arms swinging by your sides. Avoid slouching or walking like a victim. This makes you an easy target for attackers.

5. When riding by public transportation choose the right seatIf you are riding by bus or train, do not sit on the window seat as you may be "blocked in" by a potential assailant. Always select the seat next to the aisle so that you can quickly leave if necessary. If you are taking public transportation alone after peak hours, sit as close to the driver as possible and/or choose the section of the bus/train that is most crowded. Try to get a seat near the exit as well.

6. If you are driving alone Donít think that if you are in a car, youíre safe. Windows should be up and doors locked even when driving to avoid unwanted passengers at intersections. When you are walking to your car, always have your keys ready, so that you can quickly get into your car. But donít just get in right away. Always check your car before entering, especially the back, for any intruders.

7. Never leave your car door unlocked Even if it means for one minute to drop something off in the mailbox thatís a few feet away. Attackers have been known to lie in wait for such an opportunity.

8. Be careful in parking lots

Always be alert in parking lots, especially when it's dark. Ask someone to escort you to your car. Between cars and inside cars, it's easy for someone to hide and wait until an unalert person comes along.

9. If you are traveling by taxi Always check the identification of the driver (usually located near the visor) and ensure that it matches the driver. Once inside, don't sit behind the driver as it may be easy for the driver to lock the rear passenger door. Always choose the adjacent seat . In addition, avoid flagging taxis. Always order taxis so the driver can be traced if something happens.

10. Donít use the walkman If youíre used to listening to your walkman while outside, drop this habit, especially in isolated areas. With your walkman on, you cannot hear the approach of a possible attacker.

11. Note "safe houses" along your route Mentally note houses at intervals on each route you take that can be used as "safe houses" if you are attacked, such as shops or houses that you know to be occupied by a friend or acquaintance.

12. When you make a call from a phone booth After dialing the number you wish to call always turn around so that you have your back to the phone and may see who or what is coming your way. You will then be able to tell the person to whom you are speaking that you may be in trouble and you may be able to use the weight of the phone as a weapon. The door of a telephone box could be used to wedge in the limbs of the attacker.

13. Do not open the door of your home without checking DO NOT open the door to your home without first checking from a window, peephole or by asking and verifying who it is. Instruct children to do the same.

14. Report any suspicious activity around your home If you see people loitering on the streets near your house, call the police on a non emergency number and report it.

15. Invest in a cell phone This is an invaluable safety device. Keep it with you at all times and keep emergency numbers on it. Also, keep it next to your bed before you go to bed at night. Cell phones were first popularized by women as a security device, business people came later.

16. Parking tips Avoid parking in areas that are not well lit. Where possible, park close to a school or work entrance or in a parking garage that has an attendant. If you see a suspicious person approaching or hanging around near your parked car, turn around and go back to an area where there are other people. Try to get an escort to your car through the campus or job security or local police.

17. Tell others about your whereabouts Parents, spouses and friends should know where you are going and when you will be back, so that your absence will be noticed. Arrange a call in system with a friend if you live alone, whereby you call when you arrive home.

18. Trust your instincts If you are walking somewhere and feel strange or scared, donít ignore this feeling. Take extra precautions by walking a little faster to get to a more populated or well-lit area or change the route youíve been driving on.

19. If you think you are being followed, change your route and activity. You can cross the street, change directions, or enter a populated building or store. Do whatever is necessary to avoid being alone with the person who is following you. Inform a police officer or security official about the follower.

20. Attract attention if you are in a dangerous situation. Get othersí to pay attention to what's happening to you if you are under attack or being harassed. You can alert others by honking a car horn or loudly describing what is happening.

21. NEVER admit that you are alone If someone calls your home and asks if you are alone, NEVER admit it. Ask who the caller is. If they refuse to identify themselves, calmly hangup. Keep the radio on in the house so that callers will get the impression that others are in the home too. Instruct children to do the same when they pick up the phone.

22. Obscene phone calls If you receive an obscene call or a crank call, do not talk to the caller. Hang up if the caller doesnít say anything, or as soon as s/he shouts obscenities. Hang up the phone calmly and do not slam it down. Note down the date and time of the calls. If they are persistent, inform local police.

23. If you are a student Avoid studying in isolated classrooms in parts of the college campus that are not regularly patrolled by the schoolís security officers.

24. In large buildings take the elevator, not the stairwell, Stairwells are usually quiet and dark. Most people take the elevator. But if someone creepy gets on, donít hesitate to get off at the same time. Or, if someone is already on the elevator who you feel strange about, do not get on and wait for the next elevator


how to make your wife happy

1. Beautiful Reception After returning from work, school, travel, or whatever has separated you:

* begin with a good greeting.

* Start with Assalamau 'Aliaykum and a smile. Salam is a sunnah and a du'aa for her as well.

* Shake her hand and leave bad news for later!

2. Sweet Speech and Enchanting Invitations

* Choose words that are positive and avoid negative ones.

* Give her your attention when you speak of she speaks.

* Speak with clarity and repeat words if necessary until she understands.

* Call her with the nice names that she likes, e.g. my sweet-heart, honey, saaliha, etc.

3. Friendliness and Recreation

* Spend time talking together.

* Spread to her goods news.

* Remember your good memories together.

4. Games and Distractions

* Joking around & having a sense of humor.

* Playing and competing with each other in sports or whatever.

* Taking her to watch permissible (halal) types of entertainment.

* Avoiding prohibited (haram) things in your choices of entertainment.

5. Assistance in the Household

* Doing what you as an individual can/like to do that helps out, especially if she is sick or tired.

* The most important thing is making it obvious that he appreciates her hard work.

6. Consultation (Shurah)

* Specifically in family matters.

* Giving her the feeling that her opinion is important to you.

* Studying her opinion carefully.

* Be willing to change an opinion for hers if it is better.

* Thanking her for helping him with her opinions.

7. Visiting Others

* Choosing well raised people to build relations with. There is a great reward in visiting relatives and pious people. (Not in wasting time while visiting!)

* Pay attention to ensure Islamic manners during visits.

* Not forcing her to visit whom she does not feel comfortable with.

8. Conduct During Travel

* Offer a warm farewell and good advice.

* Ask her to pray for him.

* Ask pious relatives and friends to take care of the family in your absence.

* Give her enough money for what she might need.

* Try to stay in touch with her whether by phone, e-mail, letters, etc..

* Return as soon as possible.

* Bring her a gift!

* Avoid returning at an unexpected time or at night.

* Take her with you if possible.

9. Financial Support

* The husband needs to be generous within his financial capabilities. He should not be a miser with his money (nor wasteful).

* He gets rewards for all what he spends on her sustenance even for a small piece of bread that he feeds her by his hand (hadith).

* He is strongly encouraged to give to her before she asks him.

10. Smelling Good and Physical Beautification

* Following the Sunnah in removing hair from the groin and underarms.

* Always being clean and neat.

* Put on perfume for her.

11. Intercourse

* It is obligatory to do it habitually if you have no excuse (sickness, etc.)

* Start with "Bismillah" and the authentic du'a.

* Enter into her in the proper place only (not the anus).

* Begin with foreplay including words of love.

* Continue until you have satisfied her desire.

* Relax and joke around afterwards.

* Avoid intercourse during the monthly period because it haram

* Do what you can to avoid damaging her level of Hiyaa (shyness and modesty) such as taking your clothes together instead of asking her to do it first while he is looking on.

* Avoid positions during intercourse that may harm her such as putting pressure on her chest and blocking her breath, especially if you are heavy.

* Choose suitable times for intercourse and be considerate as sometimes she maybe sick or exhausted.

12. Guarding Privacy

* Avoid disclosing private information such as bedroom secrets, her personal problems and other private matters.

13. Aiding in the Obedience to Allah

* Wake her up in the last third of the night to pray "Qiam-ul-Layl" (extra prayer done at night with long sujood and ruku'ua).

* Teach her what you know of the Qur'an and its tafseer.

* Teach her "Dhikr" (ways to remember Allah by the example of the prophet) in the morning and evening. * Encourage her to spend money for the sake of Allah such as in a charity sale.

* Take her to Hajj and Umrah when you can afford to do so.

14. Showing Respect for her Family and Friends

* Take her to visit her family and relatives, especially her parents.

* Invite them to visit her and welcome them.

* Give them presents on special occasions.

* Help them when needed with money, effort, etc..

* Keep good relations with her family after her death if she dies first.

Also in this case the husband is encouraged to follow the sunnah and keep giving what she used to give in her life to her friends and family.

15. (Islamic) Training & Admonition

This includes

* The basics of Islam

* Her duties and rights

* Reading and writing

* Encouraging her to attend lessons and halaqahs

* Islamic rules (ahkam) related to women

* Buying Islamic books and tapes for the home library

16. Admirable Jealousy

* Ensure she is wearing proper hijab before leaving house.

* Restrict free mixing with non-mahram men.

* Avoiding excess jealousy. Examples of this are:

1- Analyzing every word and sentence she says and overloading her speech by meanings that she did not mean.

2- Preventing her from going out of the house when the reasons are just.

3- Preventing her from answering the phone.

4- etc.

17. Patience and Mildness

* Problems are expected in every marriage so this is normal. What is wrong is excessive responses and magnifying problems until a marital breakdown.

* Anger should be shown when she exceeds the boundaries of Allah SWT, by delaying prayers, backbiting, watching prohibited scenes on TV, etc..

* Forgive the mistakes she does to you (See item 18).

* How can you best correct her mistakes?

1- First, implicit and explicit advice several times.

2- Then by turning your back to her in bed (displaying your feelings). Note that this does not include leaving the bedroom to another room, leaving the house to another place, or not talking with her.

3- The last solution is lightly hitting (when allowable) her. (Zawaj.com Editor's note: We do NOT agree with or endorse this particar suggestion. We are printing this article as it was written, however we believe that striking a woman is not an acceptable solution to problems. In fact, it contradicts all of the other advice offered in this article.) In this case, the hsuband should consider the following: - He should know that sunnah is to avoid beating as the Prophet PBUH never beat a woman or a servant. - He should do it only in extreme cases of disobedience, e.g. refusing intercourse without cause frequently, constantly not praying on time, leaving the house for long periods of time without permission nor refusing to tell him where she had been, etc.

- It should not be done except after having turned from her bed and discussing the matter with her as mentioned in Qur'an.

- He should not hit her hard injuring her, or hit her on her face or on sensitive parts of her body.

- He should avoid shaming her such as by hitting her with a shoe, etc.

18. Pardoning and Appropriate Censure

* Accounting her only for larger mistakes.

* Forgive mistakes done to him but account her for mistakes done in Allah's rights, e.g. delaying prayers, etc..

* Remember all the good she does whenever she makes a mistake.

* Remember that all humans err so try to find excuses for her such as maybe she is tired, sad, having her monthly cycle or that her commitment to Islam is growing.

* Avoid attacking her for the bad cooking of the food as the Prophet PBUH never blamed any of his wives for this. If he likes the food, he eats and if he doesn't then he does not eat and does not comment.

* Before declaring her to be in error, try other indirect approaches that are more subtle than direct accusations.

* Escape from using insults and words that may hurt her feelings.

* When it becomes necessary to discuss a problem wait until you have privacy from others.

* Waiting until the anger has subsided a bit can help to keep a control on your words.

And Allah Knows Best.


Why Islam

more info on islam check those out

ICNA

Understanding Stress

To understand stress, we need to look at the events that occur, our thoughts about them. and the way we respond. Stressors => Situations that are considered stress -provoking are known as stressors. There are many major events that occur in our lives: moving, leaving school, changing jobs, and experiencing losses. These "life events" can be stress-provoking. We also face many "daily hassles". These are events that occur routinely. They also contribute to the levels of stress that we experience. Daily hassles include events such as being stuck in traffic, deadlines, conflits with family members, or dealing with busy city life. Between life events and day to day hassles, we are faced with many stress-provoking situations each day. Our attitude towards these situations determines our response. Coping effectively requirs an understanding of the situations we preceive to be stressful. What day to day hassles or life events have you experienced recently?

The Stress Response

We each have a particular way of responding to stress. SOme of us have physical signs such as muscle tension and difficulty sleeping (insomnia). Others may have more emotional reactions, such as outbursts of crying or anger. Understanding your response to stressful situations is one of the first steps in developing your ability to lower your stress levels. If we decide that a situation is stressful, we put into play the body's "fight" or "flight" reaction, causing the release of adrenaline, a natural body chemical. This starts the first stage of the stress response. Knowing what you do when you are under stress is the first step. To cope with stress, you need to know when it is happening. Thse signs of stress can give you clues you can use to change your response to stress. The next time you feel that you are getting "stressed", take the time to check your body, your emotions and your behavior. If you recognize some of your usual signs of stress, then you have a clue that you need to do something to cope.

Stress -- What is it?

Definition of Stress

Although we all talk about stress, it often isn't clear what stress is really about. Many people consider stress to be something that happens to them, an event such as an injury or a promotion. Others think that stress is what happens to our bodies, minds and behaviors in resposne to an event (e.g heart pounding, anxiety, or nail biting). While stress does involve events and our resposne to them, these are not the most important factors. Our thoughts about the situations in which we find ourselves are the critical factor. When something happens to us, we automatically evaluate the situation mentally. We decide if it is threatening to us, how we need to deal with the situation, and what skills we can use. If we decide that the demands of the situation outweigh the skills we have, then we label the situation as "stressful" and react with the classic "Stress reponse". If we decide that our coping skills outweigh the demands of the situation, then we don't see it as "stressful". Everyone sees situations differently, and each person has different coping skills. For this reason, no two people will respond exactly the same way to a given situation.

Additionally, not all situations that are labelled "stressful" are negative. The birth of a child, being promoted or moving to a new hoem may not be percieved as threatneing. However, we may feel that situations are "stressful" because we don't feel fully prepared to deal with them. Some situations in life are stress-provoking, but it our thoughts about situations that determine whether they are a problem to us. How we precieve a stress-provoking event and how we react to it determines its impact on our health. We may be motivated and invigorated by the events in our lives, or we may see some of them as "stressful" and respond in a manne that may have a negative effect on our physical, mental, and social well being. If we always respodn in a negative way our health and happiness may suffer. By understanding ourselves and ou r reactions to stress provoking situations, we can learn to handle stress more effectively.

Coping with Stress

Book stores are filled with books that tell us how to cope with stress. Each of these books offers its own perspective on stress along with various coping techniques. To make the most of the information on coping skills, you need to understand what coping is all about. Coping is simply a way of short circuiting the stress cycle: stoppin the stress response. There is no single right way of coping with a given situation. Each of us must figure out what works best for us. What works best will depend, in part, on your coping style. There are three main styles. None of these styles is better than the other and some people use a mixture of them.

The first step in coping is to know yourself. Begin by deciding which of these may be your style: Task oriented: you may feel comfortable analyzing the situation and taking action to deal directly with the situation. Emotion oriented: you may prefer to deal with your feelings and find social supports. Distraction oriented: you may use activities or work to take your mind off the situation. Stress Stopper... STress Stetch When you are under stress, tension accumulates in your neck and jaw. Take a minute to gently and slowly move your head from front to back, side to side and in a full circle. For your ajw, stretch your mouth open and slowly move your lower jaw from side to side and front to back.

Stages of Stress

In response to stressful events, you can experience one, two or all of the following stages Stage 1 : Mobilization of Energy All bodily activity is increased in rsponse to a stressor that is frightening, such as a near car accident. this starts th body's "fight-flight" reaction, causing the release of adrenaline. You feel your heart pounding and your palsm feel sweaty. This is called primary stress. This reaction can also be the result of a situation where you choose to put yourself under stress. (e.g the night before your wedding). This is called secondary stress.

Symptoms: increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, sweating, decreaed digestion rate, that feels liek butterflies and indigestion.

Stage 2: Exhaustion or Consuming Energy

If there is no escape from Stage 1: the body will begin to realize stored sugars and fats, using up its bodily resources. Symptoms: feeling driven, feeling pressured, tiredness and fatigue, inresae in smoking, coffee drinking and /or alcohol consumption, anxeity, memory loss, acute illness such as colds and flu.

tage 3: Draining Energy Stores If the stressful situation is not resolved, you may become chronically stressed. The body's need for energy resources exceeds its ability to produce them. Symptoms: Serious illnesses such as; heart disease, mental illness, as well as; insomnia (difficulty sleeping) , errors in judgement, personality changes.

Effects on Health

Many people sufering from too much stress have symptoms of poor health. People with very high stress levels have feelings of being tense or anxious. In addition, headaches, stomach complaints or symptoms that mimic old illnesses are common. In an attempt to cope with stress, some people drink too much alcohol, abuse drugs, blame others (e.g. spouse or parent) and may become physically violent, most often with family members. Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, maybe the result of chronic stress. If mental health problems are ignored, they can devleop into serious mental illnesses. Clinical depression left untreated leads to suicide in 15% of cases. Anxiety disorders take a variety of forms, ranging from general anxiety to panic attacks. Anxiety can become severe and disabling.

Cardiovascular Disease

Although the relationship between stress and heart disease and stroke is still being investigated, preliminary evidence suggests that stress may contribute to the development of heart disease adn stroke. It is thought that certain individuals with high levels of stress of prolonged stress may; have higher blood cholesterol, experience increases in blood pressure, have blood platelets that are more likely to clot (clump together inside the blood vessels). Further, it is known that stress filled lifestyles, make it difficult for a person to make or maintain resolutions to lead a healthy life. Instead of exercising to relieve sterss, some people respond by overeating, eating unhealthy foods, excessive alcohol consumption or smoking. Such negative reactions to stress merely inrease the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Becoming aware of your stressors and learning how to effectively deal with them will enable you to get on the right track for a healthier lifestyle. Set a Smart Goal and achieve it! Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached add to your stress level. try setting one goal for yourself this week using the SMART approach.

Specific- pick one small goal and write it down.

Measurable - Can you count it or check it off a list?

Achieveable- Is it realistic? if not, make it smaller.

Rewarded- Decide how to reward yourself when you reach your goal.

Time-Limited - Set a specific, realistic date to fnish or achieve your goal.

Easy Ways to take pressure off yourself

In this section, you will find anti-stress strategies. Some will give you temporary relief from symptoms of stress while others will help you get to its cause. Living to avoid excessive stress is the ideal but sometimes we all need a little emotional first aid. Before you decide which coping skill to use in a situation, ask yourself the following three questions.

1) Is this an appropriate thing to do in this situation? Meditating by chanting may help you calm down, but may not be the best choice if you're in an interview.

2) Is this a postive way of coping? Not e verything that we do to take the stress away is good for us. Drugs and alcohol are obviously copign strategies that may cause problems. Also, if you use anything to excess, even if it appears positive, it can have negative effects (e.g. excessive exercising or dieting)

3) Is this going to help in the long run? We dont always need a long term solution. However, if you choose a short term solution, then it is important to decide whether that will be enough.

There are five types of coping skills: physical, mental, social ,diversional, and spiritial. You will notice as you go through the list that some skills overlap; for example, mediation falls into more than one category. The following skills can be used to help you deal with the stressors you have identified.

hysical SKills

These are things you can do for and with your body. this includes making sure that you take good care of your body as well as using physical techniques to help get rid of stress. Physical relaxation techniques are useful in preventing stress and lowering your physical signs of stress. Aim to set aside 20 minutes in your day to relax.

Breathing exercises;

you can calm yourself by consciously controlling your breathing. Try one of these exercises. Exhalation breathing This slows yoru breathing to help calm you down.

1. lie on your back with your arms at your sides

2. as you being to breathe in (inhale), raise your arms towards the ceiling (elbows bent). Move your arms all the way up and over your head to the floor as you inhale.

3. Reverse the order: breathe out (Exhale) slowly and smoothly as you return your arms to your sides. After you ahve done this several times, slowly inhale and exhale without moving your arms. DO this exercise for 10 minutes or longer its up to you.

Deep Breathing:

Deep breathing can be done anytime, anywhere. Deep breahting provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the body to release endorphins, which are naturally occurring hormones that re-energize and promote relaxation.

1. slowly inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen before allowing air to fill in your lungs.

2. reverse the process as you exhale. do this exercise for 3-5 minutes whenever you feel tense.

Progressive Relaxation

This is a technique to help relax tense muscles.

1. sit or lie down on your back in a comfortable, quiet room. Close your eyes.

2. make tight fists, hold for 5 seconds, then relax your hands. Do this 3 times. Pay attention to the different sensations of tension and relaxation.

3. Repeat step 2 with all of your muscle groups; arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips, thighs, lower legs and feet. At first, it may take about 20 minutes. WIth practice, you'll be able to do this in about 5 minutes.

Streching Exercises

If done correctly, strethcing can promote relaxation and reduce s tress. Never bounce when you stretch - you could injure your muscles. Do these exercises for five or 10 minutes.

Stretch 1: decide what muscles to stretch.

1. as you stretch, think about the area being stretched; imagine the tension leaving as you gently take these areas to thei comfortable limit.

2. exhale into the stretch, inhale on the release. Breathe deeply and slowly - do not hold your breath.

3. close your eyes for better awareness of your body's responses.

stretch 2: Here's a stretch to relieve stiff muscles.

1. sit up straight and inhale.

2. exhale as you let your head move down to your chest. You'll feel a gentle stretch on the back of your neck and your shoulders.

3. Roll yoru right ear toward your right shoulder while inhaling. Drop your chin to yoru chest again while exhaling. Repeat to the left.

4. Drop your arms to your sides and push both shoulders forward. Slowly raise them towards your ears and circle them back and downward to the starting point. After two or three rotations, change directions.

Walking

Going for a walk can clear your mind, reduce tension and inrease energy. Walking can help by providing a needed escape and it may increase the brains production of endorphins (naturally occurring chemicals that relax and re-energize you). How to Sleep Better Can't sleep> Well, get up. Don't even try to sleep. All that tossing and turnign and watching the clock is not for you. It wil lonly succeed in making you more tense. Get out of bed and into a comfortable chair. Read a book, watch television, or play solitaire. Stay up as late as you like. Enjoy yourself! Before you know it, you will be dozing. If you don't actually fall asleep, at least you will be relaxed. The point is to reduce your anxiety about not sleeping and therefore make it easier to do so.

Other tips:

resist the urge to nap during the day, no matter how tired you are, dont exercise in the evening when you should be winding down, avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cola) past 2 pm, try drinking a mug of hot milk before bed.

Mental Skills

These are things that you can do in your mind to help you cope with a situation. What you think about a situation shapes your response to it. This makes your thoughts one of your most powerful coping skills.

Meditation

Meditation helps settle the mind so you can think calmly throughout the day. The goal is not for immediate relaxation but to inrease calmness. Meditation puts you in control of your thoughts by forcing you to be prsent in the moment and to observe your thought processes. There is no point in starting to meditate unless you intend to make it a habit, you won't reap its benefits unless you practice on a regular basis. In the early stages, meditate for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day. Increase this to 20 minutes no more than twicea day. Avoid meditating just before bed or you'll be too energized to sleep. THere are several meditation techniques. Do some reasearch at a library if you're interested in learning methods in addition to the one that follows.

1. Chooese a quiet room where you won't be interrupted

2. Take the time to relax, dont rush into it.

3. When you are throughly relaxed and breathing slowly and e venly, close your eyse. Slowly repeat a pleasant- sounding word (mantra) over and over in your midn as you breathe in and out. COntinue to in this state for 10-20 minutes.

4. To come back: begin saying your word out loud, deliberately and slowly. Pay attention to your breathing. Be are of your body and your posture. Open your eyes and look around the room. After a minute or so, stand up and stretch.

With practice, you will eventually reach the point when you'll feel detached from your body and your physical surroundings while meditating. the word will fade from your awareness; you'll be in touch with your innermost self, deeply relaxed and thoroughly energerized. Note; Meditation can be overdone to the point where you are completely cut off from feelings of anxiety. This isn't healthy. Everyone needs a certain amount of stress in order to function.

Social, Diversional, and Spiritual Skills.

Social skills involve relationships. People and pets are an important source of comfort; spend more time with them. Diversional skills are distractions. These don't require dealing with the problem directly, but are a way of taking your mind off what's happening. Spiritual skills involve getting in touch with yourself to find meaning in your life. Tending to your spiritual life is an importatn way of dealing with stress, particularly if you experience a sense of loss in direction or meaning. Spirituality is not limited to religion. Take some time to connect with yourself and with nature. HAVE SOME FUN! One of the best ways to fight stress is to get pleasure out of life. SO make time for the things that are really important to you. many of us get so caught up in our work and our routine duties that we end up feeling depressed, isolated, or trapped. We forget the big picture. We all need to take time out to experience the good thigns in life, the thigns that give us genuine pleasure. Here are some suggestions:

Hobbies - Whether you enjoy photography, crafts, sports, or any other hobby -- DO IT! Build time into your schedule to enjoy these activities on a regular basis. Consider it "nourishment for the soul". Gardening- Whether you have a backyard or live in an apartment, consider the soothing quality of tending plants and watching them grow. The results of your work are obvious and continue day to day and month to month as you watch your flowers or vegetables grow. Volunteer Work (Giving to Others) - Helping othesr take attention away from yourself and this can reduce your anxieties. Find an organization whose goals your support - volunteer to do something you enjoy. Donating money to charities is very worthwhile but you may benefit more through personal involvement. Vacations - Taking a break, for a weekend or a month, can be refreshing, but be careful. Vacations can be stressful if they are poorly planned, too expensive for your budget or if you are under constant pressured to make decisions about where to travel, eat, and stay. Plan ahead and don't try to pack too much into the time available. Enjoy nature - We are lucky to live in a country with open space and large amount of parkland. If you live in the city - walk in the park, smell the flowers, enjoy the trees, and the birds - get away from the noise of the city occasionally.

Preventing Stress

Make decisions - here are two techniques: 1. Can't make up your mind? Maybe your subconscious can help you. Before going to bed, think about your problem and the various choices you could make. Think about each choice clearly in your mind. Tell yourself you're going to make the decision while you sleep. You may not name the solution the next morning but if you keep trying, you will eventually awaken with your mind made up.

2. Sit down with a pencil and paper and make some lists. 1. List your options 2. List the end result of each option. 3. Write your responses to this question: What will happen if I don't chosoe at all? If you don't make a decision, that's a decision in itself and it also has consequences. Once you realize that something is going to happen whether you make a decision or not, you may find the decision easier to make.

Avoid Procrastination

If proscrastination causes stress in your life, learn to stop putting things off. People don't do their best work under pressure. However, some people convince themselves that they do so they can avoid dealing with their habit of procrastionation. Make a weekly schedule and fill it with lots of time for leisure as well as work. That way, you'll enjoy your playtime because you'll be doing it at the right time, not when you should be working. And when you are working, you won't resent it because you'll know that your leisure time is coming up soon.

Delegate

People who haven't learned to delegate often feel needlessly stressed. SOme are poor delegators because of too little or too much ego. Delegating isnt a matter of dictating to others; it's asking others to assist you by doing tasks they can handle. This gives you more time to do those tasks that perhaps only you can do.

Stress Stopper -- -- Comedy Break -- Laugh at Stress

Set asied some time for laughter, your body's natural stress-release mechanism. Rent your favorite comedy video. Tape a TV show that you know makes you laugh and keep it one hand for stress emergencies. Go to the library and borrow a book by an author who can make you laugh. Read the daily comics in the newspaper. Or, phone the funniest person you know! Read SV... :) 18 Tips for Dealing with Stress and Tension. Stress and tension are normal reactions to events that threaten us. Such threats can come from accidents, financial troubles and problems on the job or with family. The way we deal with these pressures has a lot to do with our mental, emotional and physical health. the following are suggestions to get you started on managing the stress in your life. Resources to help you in each of the following areas are identified in this booklet.

1. Recognize your symptoms of stress

2. Look at your lifestyle and see what can be changed - in your work situation, your family situation, or your schedule.

3. Use relaxation techniques - yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or massage.

4. Exercise - physical activity is one of the most effective stress remedies around!

5. Time management - do essential tasks and prioritize the others. Consider those who maybe affected by your decisions, such as family and friends. Use a check list so you will recieve satisfaction as you check off each job as it is done.

6. Watch your diet - alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats and tobacco all put a strain on your body's ability to cope wit h stress. A diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods high in protein but low in fat will help create optimum health. Contact your local chapter of the Heart and Stroke Foundation for further information about healthy eating.

7. Get enough rest and sleep

8. Talk with others - talk with friends, professional counsellors, support groups or relatives about what is bothering you.

9. Help others - Volunteer work can be an effective and satisfying stress reducer

10. Get away for awhile - read a book, watch a movie, play a game, listen to music (nasheed) or go on vacation. Leave yourself some time that's just for you.

11. WOrk off your anger - Get physically active, dig in the garden, start a project, get your spring cleaning done.

12. Give in occasionally - Avoid quarrels whenever possible.

13. Tackle one thing at a time - dont try to do too much at once

14. dont try to be perfect

15. ease up on criticism of others

16. dont be too competitive

17. make the first move to be friendly

18. have some fun! laugh and be with people you enjoy!

Stress Stopper -- Walking Breaks.... walk away from stress... Instead of sitting down for another cup of stress inducing caffeine on your coffee break, lunch hour, or when you're at home.... try going for a stress relieving and renergizing walk. If you don't like walking by yourself, try forming a walking club with two or three of your co workers or friends.

Part 2 Resources to Help you Cope with Stress

Recreation and Leisure it refreshers, restores, renews! What is leisure? There is a lot of truth to the saying "all work and no play"... Many of us work hard and take playtime for granted. We don't recognize the improtance of leisure in our daily lives. Just as stressors wear you down, leisure can refresh, restore and renew you. Recreation and leisure consist of any form of play, amusement or relaxation that takes place outside of your usual work. Different people prefer different forms of leisure, ranging from knitting to hiking. Pull out your phone book to make use of the following suggestions.

newspapers Check your local newspaper for a section on things to do; these activities are often free of charge.

Recreation Departments Check if the recreation department of your local municipality publishes a list of local events and programs.

LIbraries For many reading a good book is refreshing and informative. Some libraries also lend films, videos, records, cassettes, compact discs, and art.

Community and Neighborhood Centers Some centres offer a wide range of community resources geared to the special needs of different age groups. many local community centres offer a variety of free or low cost programs.

Special Interest Clubs many hobby and special interest clubs exist, ranging from model airplane building to bridge clubs. Check the special events listings in your local community newspaper or the bulletin board in community centres and libraries.

COmmunity Colleges Some community colleges offer a range of courses in leisure- related or special interest areas.

Coping by Learning One way to begin coping with the stress in your life is to learn more about it. You can read books, view films or videos, or take courses. In this section there are some suggestions to help you increase your understanding of stress and learn how to manage it.

Books: There are many informative books about stress and stress management. Check your local public library or bookstore for the following books. The Stress of Life by Hans Selye. M.D. Stress WIthout Distress by Hans Selye. M.D. The Stress Solution by Samuel Klarreich Kicking your Stress Habits by D. Tubesing The Joy of Stress by Peter Hanson COping with S tress by D. Meichenbaum The Relaxation and Stress Reduction WOrkbook by M Davies, M McKay and E Eshelman. No Gimmick Guide to Managing Stress by E Neidhardt, M Weinstein and R COnry Stress Management by E Charlesworth and R Nathan Workign WOman's Guide to Managing Stress by J.R. Powell Getting ORganized by S Winston The Power of 5 by H Bloomfield Managing Stress by U Markham

Films and Videos Seeing a video or film can increase your understanding of stress and stress management. Some of those available in 16 mm and video include: Living with Stress Managing Stress Taking it in Stride: A Positive Approach to Stress Management Beyond Stress You may obtain stress related films or videos at your local public library or from the National Film Board of Canada.

Courses Some stress management experts claim to have the only method that works. The truth is, there are a variety of effective stress management techniques. Many courses on stress and related topics are offered by private companies and non profit organizations.

Community Colleges Continuing education departments of community colleges offer many interesting courses. Some are directly related to stress while others teach relaxation techniques or other coping skills. For more information, call your local community college or college of applied arts and technology. Board of Education or School Board Evening and weekend programs are often sponsored by your local board of education or school board. These programs may include anything from woodworking and crafts to swimming, dance, aerobics and yoga. For more information about courses and programs, call the continuing education department of your local board of educaiton or school board.

YMCA and YWCA Fitness, health and recreation programs are offered at many YMCA and YWCA centres across the country.

Counselling and Support Sometimes when we are feeling depressed, anxious, confused or unable to cope, talking to supportive friends, family members, or joining a support group maybe very helpful. But if that isn't enough, you should consider seeking professional counselling. While counselling cannot fix all the problems in your life, it can help you sort things out so that you feel more able to cope. A therapist can help you learn more about yourself so that you can use your own strengths to regain a feeling of control over your life. Remember, it is how we think of, or react to, life's events that make us feel over stressed - not just the events themselves. Counselling can also be called therapy or psychotherapy. Finding the right help for stress can be a stressful experience. This section outlines the kinds of help you can seek in your area.

The Family Doctor Your family doctor can help you identify your health problem. A thorough look at your health profile and a complete medical examination can estalibhs the reason for you ill health (mental or physical). Your symptoms may be the result of an illness that may or may not be due to strss. Yoru doctor may prescribe a treatment, or suggest that support and a few ideas about how to manage your situation maybe all you need. If your family doctor suggests the use of tranquilizers, make sure you are well-informed about their purpose and their side effects before you decide whether to use them.

Therapists You or your family doctor may decide that talking to a therapist will help you deal with your feelings. You might be referred to a counsellor at a community agency or in a private practice, or to a psychiatrist or psychologist who works in a hospital or has a private practice. Clinically trained psychiatrists and psychologists are professionals with approximately the same amount of formal training. The basic difference is the type of training received.

The Psychiatrist Psychiatrists complete a degree in general medicine. They have an additional four years training in diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioral problems. Because they are medical doctors (M.D.s), psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe medications. Their fees are covered by your provincial health care plan. To see a psychiatrist, ask your family doctor for a referral. If you don't have a family doctor, you can call a local hospital or community health centre to ask about their mental health services. In many communities, there is a branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Call them to ask how you can find a psychiatrist.

THe Psychologist A clinically trained psychologist holds a doctorate (Ph.D) in the study of human behavior, as well as in the treatment of behavioral and emotional problems. Most provinces do not license psychologists to prescribe medication and they may not be able to bill their fees to your provincial health insurance plan. However, many private health care insurance plans cover the services of registered psychologists. Check with your insurance company.

The Social Worker A social worker has a university degree in social work. Most are employed by hospitals or community agencies. However, some hae taken additional training in psychotherapy and are in private practice. Your doctor may refer you to a therapist who is a social worker.

The Stress Specialist THere are many organizations and individuals that provide stress management education and treatment. Some are psychologists, others are phsiotherapist, occupational therapists or people with other kinds of training. To find out what's available, look in the yellow pages of your phone book under "stress management". Phone and ask about services and fees. Some accept only those referred by family physicians. SOme directly bill your provincial health care plan while others charge the patient/client.

What is Psychotherapy? Psychologists, psychiatrists and some social workkers practice psychotherapy. Getting treatment by psychotherapy means talking with a trained person who helps you solve problems by developing more positive thoughts and feelings. There are many different theories and schools of thoughts regarding effective psychotherapy techniques. Common Techniques include: a) Group Therapy - Several people talk about their problems and receive help from each other's remarks. A trained therapist leads the group. b) Individual Psychotherapy - The individual talks about problems without going deeply into the subconscious mind. (note: the "subconscious" is that part of the mind which is not fully conscious, yet is able to influence our actions). c) Psychoanalysis - Therapists seek to uncover causes of mental health problems by searching into a person's early experiences. Dream analysis and free association (talk about anything that comes to mind) are used to get to the subconscious mind.

Other Counselling Services The Public Health Nurse Most neighborhoods are served by a public health nurse. Public health nurses are involved with individual, family and small group counselling, and education regarding personal health. They often work with hospitals, local doctors, and neighborhood centers. Public health nurses can give you information about how lifestyle relates to your stress level and a bout health related resources in your community. They can refer you to other sources of information or help. Contact a public health nurse through your local department of health. Employee / Family Assistance Program Counselling You may have access to counselling at no cost to you through an Employee / Family Assistance Program (EAP/ EFAP). An EAP/EFAP can provide confidential short term counselling and information to help you deal with pesonal, work related, marital, family, stress, addiction, and financial matters. Review your benefits information or ask your supervisor or HR deparment if you have an EAP/EFAP, since it is provided as an employee benefit by many organizations.

Addiction Counselling If you are concerned about your use of alcohol, tranquiliziers or other drugs, there are people who can help. Talk to your doctor or look in in the phone book for Alcoholics Anonymous (a self help group) or an addiction foundation or centre in your area.

Individual and Family Counselling In many communities there is a family services organizaiton or community health centre where individual or family counselling is available. Check with your local community information centre or your local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association for information about services in your area.

Financial Counselling There are a number of credit counselling services available to provide counselling for persons involved in credit difficulties. These counsellors may act as a go between for you when dealing with agencies or people to whom you owe money. Look in the yellow pages for "Credit" or "financial" counselling and planning.

Self Help Groups Sometimes people really feel the need to belong to a caring community. Many self help groups (also called mutal aid groups or support groups) have developed across the country in the past few years. many people find they need the opportunity to take charge of their own situation. Sometimes, understanding can only come from someone else who has experienced the same type of problem. In self help groups, people experiencing similar problems get together to share information and help each other cope. Members use their individual strengths to support the others. Often, they use their colletive strengths to advocate for social change. For some, membership in a self help group is an alternative to professional therapy. However, for many people a support group is useful in addition to a formal helping services. To find out about self help groups in your community, contact your local community information service.

Evaluating Educational and Helping Services. While the majority of educational and helping services associated with stress are competent and ethical, othrs are not. The following are some questions you should ask an organization before becoming involved with it: 1. What is the nature of your organization or services? 2. Briefly decscribe what will take place in a typical session. 3. WHo will lead the sessions? Will this person be supervised? What are the supervisor's qualifications? To whom are these people accountable? 4. How much of my time will be involved and for how long? 5. Can I drop out if I wish? 6. What is the total cost of the service? Is it covered by my provincial health care plan? 7. How does your organization ensure that confidentiality is respected?

Avoid the following situations or organizations: 1. An organizations whose contact person will not answer questions clearly or to your satisfaction. 2. WHen your involvement is due to pressure from a third party. 3. If you are promised money as a reward for participating. 4. If you are asked to sign a document that might compromise your civil rights( e.g. testimonials, contracts with fixed obligations). 5. If success is "guranteed". If you already getting help..... but things are not working out, a number of things maybe happening. It maybe that you rae not yet willing to accept a proble or focus on its solution. However, it maybe because you have chosen a resource that's not "right" for you.

If you have a "helping" person who: doesn't give you time to explain your problem doesn't seem to hear you, or suggests something you feel is inappropriate, then consider seeking a second opinion or a different kind of "helping " resource. Getting help to cope with stress may require a few attempts in order to fit the right resource to meet your wants and needs.

IN CONCLUSION: The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadial Mental Health Association are here to help. We encourage you to use the information and advice in this booklet. Both organizations have a wealth of other information which might also be helpful to you. Heart and Stroke Foundation chapters and Canadian Mental Health Association branches are located in many communities across Canada. THey have pamphlets and other educational resources. To local the chapter or branch closest to your, check your telephone book or-- contact the Division in your province. http://www.heartandstroke.ca 1-888-HSF-INFO Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. & Yukon 1212 West Broadway, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3V2 (604) 736-4404 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, N.W.T. & Nunavut 1825 Park Road S.E. , Calgary, ALberta T2G 3Y6 (403) 264-5549 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan 279-3rd Avenue North, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,, S7K 2H8, (306) 244-2124 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba 301-352 Donald Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2H8, (204) 949-2000 Heart and Stroke Foundation of ONtario 1920 Yonge St, 4th Floor, toronto, Ontario, M4S 3E2, (416) 489-7111 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Quebec 465 Rene-Levesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montreal, Quebec H2Z 1A8, (514) 871-1551 Heart and Stroke Foundation of of New Brunswick 340-110 Crown Street, Saint John, New Brunswick, E2L 2X7 (506) 634-1620 Heart and Stroke Foundation of of Nova Scotia 204-5523 Spring Garden Rd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 3T1 (902) 423-7530 Heart and Stroke Foundation of P.E.I 40 Queen St, P.O Box 279, Charlottetown, P.E.I., C1A 7K4 (902) 892-7441 Heart and Stroke Foundation of of Newfoundland and Labrador 169-173 Water Street, P.O. Box 5819, St John's, Newfoundland, A1C 5X3 (709) 753-8521 Heart and Stroke Foundation of of Canada 222 Queen Street, Suite 1402, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5V9 (613) 569-4361


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