There are many types of insurances in practice today. Most common one is the car insurance, which is required by law in many countries to drive on the road. Then there is life insurance, contents insurance, home insurance, etc.
Insurance usually requires one to pay a relatively small amount of money (compared to the value of the product being insured) in advance or in instalments. If an incident occurs, such as death or a car accident, the insurer pays a larger lump sum amount to the insured party; the amount paid out is in the multiples of the original amount paid by the insured party.
Generally, insurance is considered haram in Islam with some exceptions, such as car insurance enforced by law; some ulema permit this.
Insurance vs Gambling:
Many Muslims including ulema equate Insurance with gambling hence consider it haram. There are similarities in both, however if we consider carefully, the primary purpose of gambling & insurance is completely different.
Gambling is primarily conducted to win money on predicting the outcome of an event, usually a sport.
Whereas primary purpose of insurance is not to win but to secure (guarantee) the payment of an amount if certain event (loss) occurs.
Insurance as a Guarantee:
Sometimes insurance is considered as a ‘Guarantee’ (Zaman in Arabic). Guarantee is allowed in Islam with the following condition:
Guarantee has to be a Voluntary act; it cannot be offered by taking a benefit (a price).
But insurance requires a payment hence insurance is not a valid guarantee from Islamic point of view.
Insurance as a Sale:
Any commercial transaction starts with an agreement, a ‘Sale’ contract between two parties. Islam being a comprehensive system for life, provides detailed rules for Selling.
Examining the Insurance Sale Agreement, one can observe that there are a number of issues from Islamic point of view:
1- Sale is conducted on a specific & defined product or a service. This is not the case in Insurance; it is merely a promise to pay some amount in future rather than a service or a product.
2- Delivery of a product or a service must be certain. It must not depend on an unforeseen event. e.g. if X happens then Y will be done.
“The Messenger of Allah (SAW) prohibited sales of ‘whatever a pebble thrown by the seller hits,’ and sales in which there is chance or risk (Gharar).” [Sahih Muslim]
“Gharar is chance or risk, meaning it is not known whether it will come to be or not, such as selling fish in the water, transactions of unknown things, the particulars of which are not fully comprehended by the buyer and seller.”
Insurance fails on both points stated above. Therefore, as a conclusion, an insurance contract is not a valid one according to Islamic laws.
DISCLAMIER: Only Allah knows the best; this is my limited understanding of this vast subject. Please correct me if I have made any mistake.
I have only touched upon some of the key points. For detailed understanding of the subject, please contact a respected scholar.
I read many sweet stories about magical Scandinavia, the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, that it is a beautiful area with abundance of natural beauty so naturally I wanted to visit it. Somehow I visited many countries but couldn’t get my feet on that soil, until 2008 that is. I was offered a job in Sweden in 2008 so I came to Sweden and lived here for two years.
Sweden Sweet Sweden
A country of Beautiful Landscape, very decent good-natured people! Sweden is the largest country in Scandinavia among Norway, Finland and Denmark situated in Northern Europe.
The whole Scandinavia is stunning; full of jungles, mountains, lakes, a lot of sea & snow. Proximity to north brings long harsh winters & with the same token long pleasant summers too. Heard of 6 months long night and 6 months long day?
65% of Sweden is covered with forests. There are numerous Lakes (approx. 95000 Sq Miles) and sea shores; no surprise Swedes love nature. Sea food and boats are part of their life. People usually own a boat and a summer-house which are extensively used during the summer months. Whole Scandinavia shuts down during July & August.
Taxes are very high here but public services and social welfare is commendable. Living in Sweden is a bit expensive compared to Germany, France & Britain.
Sweden is a cold country as it is not far from North Pole.
Sweden’s winters are a bit depressing as days are too short; it hardly gets 6 hours sunlight if weather is not cloudy, and summer days are hugely long with up to 21 hours long sunshine! It is difficult to sleep during summer nights as there is always light on the horizon. I had to paste black plastic sheets on the windows to make room dark.
Winter was quite mild the year I arrived. But the next year it snowed and snowed and snowed….Temprature remained around -20C or low for weeks on end. It broke the 100 years record of coldest and snowed winter; so much so that even Swedes started complaining.
After few days I started enjoying it. Walking in empty streets with everything white-washed is an experience that can not be explained.
Swedes love nature; this is why natural material such as wood and stone are used commonly in buildings & decor. Metro (underground train) stations are adorned like caves.
Swedes; Tall & Handsome:
Tall, handsome, healthy, straightforward & polite –Swedes in a nutshell, and this behaviour is common among Scandinavians.
Swedes know how to live life to max; longest life expectancy, short working week, longest maternity leave, excellent child care and great work-life balance!
Working with them is an excellent experience; they are the most cooperative people as colleagues or customers. They would keep promises and always be on-time. Women are more empowered than men though! Smallest gender-gap between men & women in terms of salary & number of people in employment.
Sweden is only a small country in terms of population; only 10 Million people.
Swedes have generally been isolated from the rest of the world. They were officially neutral during both world wars.
They start work early around 8 am. Lunch starts at 11.30 and people would pack up for home round 4.
Let’s have a Fika:
It literally means a coffee break & is common in Sweden. We used to have an afternoon coffee break whereby employees would gather in groups, have coffee or tea with biscuits, cakes etc.
Offices buy a basket of fresh fruit for its employees every day; I made good use of it. 🙂
Swedes used to look at immigrants with curiosity as they haven’t come across many. Things have changed now. More foreigners entered Sweden in the last 15 years. But last year saw unprecedented number of migrants entering Sweden after Syria crisis. This has caused friction in some areas.
Immigrants collectively make 15% of the population.
Riots in 2013 after police shot an immigrant caused anti-immigrant sentiments. These feelings are strengthened due to recent events in France & Brussels.
There are approximately 500,000 Muslims (5% of total population) in Sweden, mostly from Arab nations. Pakistanis are only few thousand.
Nobel Prize was started in Sweden after the name of Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel who donated his wealth for it. It is awarded every year since 1895. Why did Alfred decide to start Nobel Prize? Read Here.
Ericsson is the most famous and one of the founder companies in telecommunications.
Ikea is a famous name in the world of furniture making.
Sweden is a technologically advanced country; 573 Nobel prizes are won by Swedes.
Country is quite green too; 52% energy generated through renewable sources.
Here is an email I wrote to my friends four days after arriving here for the first time:
“I am very well and I hope all is well on your side.
Swedish speak English as Germans speak English [Once I said to my Swedish manager that Swedish language sounds similar to German; he was not amused and replied why can’t it be other way around?]
I am here in Sweden for about 4 days now. One of my friend joined me at airport and now I am staying with him till I rent my own place which I am looking for.
In general Sweden is a beautiful lush green country. It has well-built infrastructure (roads, rail, buses, general amenities) just like any other European country e.g. Germany.
I have joined the new job. Work place is fine. There are four people in my team; one Sicilian Italian, one Palestinian, one Chinese and managers is Swedish. Rest of the company is mixed, mostly Chinese. Environment is friendly; lots of empty desks and space; a big dining room and two tennis table rooms.
I avoid playing as Chinese are very good at ping-pong game (my Italian colleague calls it ping-pong). He has accepted a challenge from a Chinese and I fear a disastrous result for Italy tomorrow. 🙂..”
There are ample toilets and are always free. [I don’t know why I said that?? May be I was coming from Pakistan where toilets were always queued up. One good thing, toilets in Scandinavia have sinks inside the toilet room!!]
Weather is cool & pleasant here, mostly rainy & windy, much like UK. Days are bit longer than UK. Prayer times are really difficult. We pray Zuhar up to 7 pm, Mughrib starts around 10.30, Isha after 11.30 and Fajar at 2.30 am. Therefore most of the night is spent in cycles of waking, sleeping and waking again. Nights are not completely dark; a small light always remains on horizon.
The place I am residing in is called Kista (pronounced as Sheesta, I fear they will call me Shaashif too !!). There is a local halal grocery shop which has every edible thing a desi might think of.
Kista is full of technology companies, you name it, IBM, Ericsson, Tele2, Compaq, Phillips, I have seen offices of each & every tech firm. There are more foreigners here than Swedes. Many are here to work but there are lots of immigrants too, mostly from Somali & Arab / African background. I am going to Stockholm city centre this weekend especially to see some Swedes.
Sweden’s biggest city is Stockholm which is its capital too. It is built on 14 islands connected with 57 bridges. The biggest city in Nordic area, still this city airs the feel of a small friendly city. Stockholm was originally formed as capital in 1252 on a small island in the middle called “Gamla Stan”. It is still preserved with it narrow cobbled streets; nowadays buzzing with tourists and littered with souvenir shops and restaurants.
Stockholm is the cultural, political, social, economic and educational centre for Sweden. Nobel prize ceremony is held here annually.
Free Education for Foreigners:
Sweden offered free University education to foreigners till 2012. A lot of students from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India etc benefitted from this. Most were genuine but many abused the system just to get in the country. The genuine students really excelled and made good use of the facilities offered. They had very little money to maintain themselves but they did. They would work on temporary jobs which were in very short supply anyway. And then resourcefully utilise whatever they had. They completed their degrees and now employed on decent jobs all over the world!
We spent many evenings eating, sipping tea and chatting together; fond memories!
Drottningholm Palace is the official residence of serving King. Part of it open to public now. There are big houses behind the palace originally used by the servants of Royal Family but now sold on to ordinary people.
I was once invited by a Swede whom I met on the plane during my journey to London. He lived in the houses behind Drottningholm Palace. He had no connection to Palace, rather employed in a bank. As I arrived; there was a massive dog eagerly waiting for me on the door. Oh nooo.. I was ‘Dog-o-Phobic’. I was scared to death seeing such a huge dog. But there was no escape here. I was moving away from him but that dog was too eager to sniff me so he was ushering me all around. Soon the owner realised. He taught me a trick and hey… I coexisted with that dog for the whole evening and my phobia was (almost) gone!!
On one warm summer day we had one of the best BBQ parties of my life in lush green jungle near Kista. Government has prepared small huts in the wild; just bring your hardware and off you go!
There was a frizbee match too.
Famous Swedish food include meatballs and fish dishes (raw, cooked & pickled). But the one I liked most is no other than Princess Torta Cake; a delicious traditional cake that is eaten year around by Swedes. Heavy on cream yet refreshingly tasty. This was my family & friends favourite while in Sweden.
One day in August my Swede manager invited us to his summer-house on a beach for Crayfish party. It was a wonderful experience. We spent the whole day on that island, wandered around & played Brannboll. It is a Swedish sport similar to baseball. The key difference is that batsman tosses the ball in air by himself and then hits it rather than a bowler shooting at him. At the end we had a Crayfish party. But eating this small fish is not easy because it resembles to a lobster and one needs to crack open it to extract tiny meat inside.
Stockholm Central Mosque:
There are many mosques in Stockholm but the central mosque the most beautiful inside & out. It is a beauty!
There are many more memories from Sweden but perhaps some other time!
Nadiyah Hussain is 31 years old, house wife & mother of young kids. Never dreamt of taking part in any competition, she decides to take part in BBC TV’s famous Baking Show “Great British Bake Off” in 2015. She makes to Finals; Around 15 million people watch the show and…. she won!
Now she is a celebrity & a well-known name in UK. Nadiyah writes books, is a columnist for the Times Magazine & appears in many TV shows. She was commissioned by Buckingham Palace to bake cake for Queen’s 90th Birthday!
Nadiyah said after winning:
Never say ‘No’.
If you think you can, you will. If think you can’t, you are right.
She is a symbol of Success & Hope for Young Muslim girls.
Wearing Hijab doesnt limit you, it gives you a sense of belonging, it gives you an idenity. Nadiyah talks passionately about her decision to first start wearing a Hijab at the age of fourteen.
Incredibly proud of how own upbringing and culture, she explained: “My religious beliefs also have an impact on what I wear. You have to make sure the sleeves are long, and then you have a scarf to go with it (dress). I have been wearing my Hijab since I was 14.
“It’s not specifically because I came from a religious family, I think I came from quite the opposite. It was something I found and the first part of me finding religion.
It was the first act I actually did – to cover my hair. I realised the importance and significance. It’s a sign of being a Muslim, a sign of practicing Islam, it’s a sign of modesty, it’s just one of those things you do. Everyone finds it at different stages in your life. It’s seen as something beautiful.
Mohsin Nawaz leaves them behind by many miles. If Mohsin’s story doesn’t inspire you nothing will.
Mohsin Nawaz was only 2 years old when his legs paralysed due to Polio leaving him in wheelchair for rest of his life. Unable to move about he would stay home, read books and listen to radio.
Mohsin loved reading & writing stories. He sent his stories to famous children’s monthly magazine ‘Phool’ for publishing. His stories were eventually published but by then he could not read; Mohsin lost his eyes at the age of 13. It was a real shock for him & his parents.
Unable to move, unable to see, Mohsin would lay in a corner of his house like an old out of use piece of furniture. One day an old lady visited his house. While talking to his mother she enquired; Baji aap iss kay liyae duaa kiyun nahien kartay? (Sister, why don’t you pray to Allah for him?
Only people from Pakistan would understand the real chilling meaning behind this statement. This statement is said about a terminally ill person who has no hope; it means “may Allah take his life away to alleviate his suffering”.
His mother replied what are you saying? The lady replied he has no legs no eyes; he is capable of nothing. And Mohsin was listening to this conversation. It shocked him. This very moment changed his life forever.
“Your Life Begin to Change the moment you Accept the challenge thrown at you”.
Mohsin whispered quietly; O Lord, I don’t have legs, I don’t eyes. So what? I will show the world what I can do with the rest of your blessings I possess. I will perform the best with these. And indeed he did.
He started studying. We are talking about some 30 years ago. There were very little facilities for disabled then. He could not attend any school. Mohsin would buy books & cassettes and ask his friends to record the books on those cassettes. He would then play these cassettes and listen to books. He has memorised 1500 books till now! This is his level of commitment to knowledge.
Mohsin accepted what Allah Ta’ala intended for him. If you are happy with what Allah has brought your way, He (SWT) will be with you! But he worked diligently on what was in his control!
Our Lord says:
Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Al Ra’ad 11)
Indeed it was Mohsin’s deep desire to change the state of his life and he did it.
Where there is a Will there is a Way.
He educated himself & completed Master’s Degree in Urdu. He is a committed person.
“I accept challenges & change – if someone says; Mohsin you can’t do this, I will make sure I do it”.
Mohsin would listen to radio and learn through educational programs. He went to buy an Urdu type writer. The shop owner discouraged him; don’t waste money dear, you won’t be able to learn it. And the very evening he amazed his family when he showed them their typed names!
“It is not the abilities, rather the burning desire to do something that keeps you awake at night would lead you to success.”
Mohsin has melodious voice. He was selected as radio presenter for Mast FM 103 Radio to conduct a Live show. His show was a success; he is one the popular presenters (RJ Radio) in Pakistan today and conducts a show every Sunday 12 to 2 pm for the last 13 years!
“Disability is Not in Our Body, rather in Our Thoughts”
Maria, among 1000s of his followers on radio, was so impressed with his voice that she decided to marry him. She knew the marriage won’t be a straight forward one; Mohsin needs a lot of help in his daily life chores. But she was determined; now they are happily living together for many years and have kids who go to college now.
“Handicap is not the one who cannot walk or see, rather the one who has no desire to do anything.”
Radio show brought further success; he was offered a Telemarketer job in a private firm. He performed really well and was eventually promoted to as Director Public Relations.
Mohsin delivers inspirational speeches to many and brings those back to life who have lost hope. He has motivated 1000s. Listen to Mohsin on Youtube. One such excellent video is here. Listen & be amazed by his knowledge (listen from 11th minute onward): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Fmit-CmGO0
When somebody told me that he has failed in his exams, my question is, *”Is it a law that you will pass every time?”* When somebody asked me why am I in depression, my question is, *”Is it compulsory to have confidence all the time?”* When someone cried to me about his huge business loss due to his wrong decision, my question is, *”Is it possible that you take all right decisions?”* The fact is our expectation that life has to be perfect/permanent is the biggest reason of our unhappiness.
One has to understand the law of impermanence of nature. After each sunny day, there has to be a dark night, after each birth there have to be certain deaths, for the full moon to come again it has to pass through no moon. In this imperfection of nature, there is perfection. So *stop taking your failures and bad part of your life soooo personally or intensely,* even God does not like to give you pain but its the cycle through which you have to pass. Prepare yourself for one more fight after each fall because even failures cannot be permanent…! Enjoy life…. *Your breath comes to go.* *Your thoughts come to go.* *Your words come to go.* *Your actions come to go.* *Your feelings come to go.* *Your illnesses come to go.* *Your phases come to go.* *Your seasons come to go.* *You have come to go.* Then why do you hold on to your guilt, anger, unforgiveness, hatred so so so tightly, when it too has come to go… Let it go …
Reading Quran repeatedly Without Understanding: Most of us aim to read a lot of Quran during Ramadhan for reward (Sawab) but very few endeavour to read Translation & Tafseer.
Fundamentally Quran was sent to Guide us in our Life Affairs. Getting Reward for reading Quran was secondary, not the primary objective. Allah Ta’ala says:
“This is the Book; in it is Guidance sure without doubt to those who fear Allah” (Al Nisa, 2)
“And We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things a Guide a Mercy and glad tidings to Muslims. (Al Nahl, 89)
“Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an or are their hearts locked up by them? (Surah Muhammad – 24)
Without understanding the Quran is like leading our life in the dark. Much like reading driving instructions in a foreign language and then trying to drive a car.
Holy Quran talks about ‘Quran’ at 21 places (according to book “Mazameen al Quran” by Zahid Malik) and majority of the Ayahs talk about Quran being the guidance for mankind and invites us to ponder. Not even once it states to read Quran for Reward.
There are ten rewards for each letter we recite from Quran as stated by Rasul Allah (SAW). But reading as well as understanding Quran carries far greater rewards!
Please aim to read Quran With Translation and Tafseer this Ramadhan. This is important for all but much more important for non-Arabs.
Missing Tahajud: Tahajjud prayer is the Most recommended prayer after Fard prayers. Rasul Allah prayed it regularly (like a Fard). It is mentioned in Quran as:
“During a part of the night, pray Tahajjud, an additional prayer for you (O Muhammad), very soon your Rabb may exalt you to ‘Maqam-e-Mahmood’ (a station of great glory).” (Al Israa, 79)
It is much easier praying Tahjjud in Ramadhan than we think. We can pray it just before Fajar time starts. Wake up 5 minutes early for Suhur. Make vudu & pray 4 rakats.
Traveeh and Tahajjud are Same Prayer:
It is also known as Qiyyam ul Layl. Rasool Allah (SAW) regularly prayed 11 Rakat (8 Nafal + 3 Vitar) after midnight. In fact, 3 Vitar & 2 Nafal after Isha prayer are actually Tahajjud prayer. People were allowed to pray right after Isha prayer for the convenience as it is hard for many to wake up after midnight. But preferred (afzal) time for Tahajjud is after midnight.
Muhammad (SAW) did not mention any prayer called ‘Taraveeh’, neither did the four Khulafah Rashdeen. All of them prayed Tahajjud Nawafil and it was after midnight.
During one Ramadhan Rasool Allah (SAW) prayed Tahjjud in Jamat after midnight for three nights and then stopped fearing that it may become obligatory on all Muslims. So sahaba continued praying it at home or in small groups.
Umar (RA) saw people praying in small groups in Masjid Nabvi. He (RA) did not like the practice of having multiple groups, so He (RA) gathered them in one jamat. Therefore it was Umar’s (RA) ijtihad to practice it in its current form.
Later people increased the number of Rakat from 8 to 20 or even beyond up to 36, plus 3 Rakat for Vitar. It is a Nafal prayer so number is not relevant as such; one can pray as many as comfortably possible.
Currently Taraveeh is prayed at Isha time. Ahle Hadees pray 8 Rakat. All four imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafai, Hanbal) agree on 20 rakat and consider it a Mustahib Sunnat.
The word Taraveeh is plural of Tar-vee-ha which means taking rest. People would pray 4 rakat and then take some rest. Hence this prayer got the name of Salat at Taraveeh.
So in summary, Taraveeh & Tahajjud are the same prayer. It is a Nafal prayer so it could be in any number. Preferred time for it is after midnight but it can be prayed anytime after Isha.
Two respected scholars Dr Israr Ahmed and Maulana Ishaq support this view. Links to their speeches below (Urdu).
3. Paying Charity in Ramadhan: Paying charity in Ramadhan carries more reward; no doubt about it. But some of us start withholding charity in months leading to Ramadhan so that we could donate in Ramadhan and get more reward.
However; keep in mind an empty stomach cannot wait for Ramadhan.
So if you give certain amount of charity regularly in other months, keep doing so. Don’t hold that for Ramadhan. Don’t make needy wait. After all you don’t want Allah’s blessing to be held till Ramadhan.
Idea is to donate more in Ramadhan in addition to regular amount.
4. Doing Tasbeeh Quickly: More tasbeeh we do in Ramadhan the better. But doing it hastily carries a danger that words get distorted and meaning changes.
We are reciting Allah Almighty’s names or making a prayer to him. It should be done with dignity & calm. We must show respect and recite with heart & soul as we really mean it, not the lip service only.
In my humble opinion; do Tasbeeh (& any other ibadah) with High Quality than aiming for quantity with low quality…
5. Ramadhan is Not a 30-Day Food Festival.
Instead of Wasting precious money & time in Ramadhan on Friends & Family Parties, better to focus on Prayers. And food can go to Needy, Travellers, Students and Singles living away from families.