Why Halal?

“What do you mean? Am I using haraam cosmetics, Mariam?”

Well many of us might assume that. Halal-certified is a buzzword for some and for others it is a belief in itself.
I am not endorsing anyone’s religious beliefs and this post is not meant to be a fatwa or a regulation for using halal cosmetics.

I intend to share my perspective based on what I have learnt from the spheres of health and Islam, In sha Allah.

Half of my life’s discoveries were made around the time my mother was diagnosed and was being treated for breast cancer at Shaukat Khanum Hospital (Cancer Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan). Time and again, the researches I read were deeply linked to the lifestyle factors including food, its quality, quantity, sources, sleep cycles, skin care and cosmetic use and psychosocial triggers to name a few. Over and above, when Allah SWT blessed me with a profound interest in understanding Quran and Authentic Hadith literature, I was convinced of our shortcomings and the consequences we rightly have to face because of them.

I believe based on what I have learnt (learning in process) that various roles that we have been assigned in life, we are accountable for each. For instance, I am accountable for being a daughter, student, sister, aunt, relative, friend and all other various social roles that I play in the community. Recently, added to the list are a blog writer and a marketing representative. Accordingly, I have to act in accordance with taqwa (God-consciousness) in all these roles. Please for a while, we can drop that haraam gun (dhuzz!) and keep those ‘heavy’ words fardh, wajib, makrooh, mushbooh and mustahab away. We can now focus on the role of a conscious consumer- a human being in general and Muslims in particular are answerable to God Almighty in a way for their consumer behavior. That is, it is recommended as per the attitude of a believer that he/she is concerned for their own health, the environment, product sources and wastage, ingredients, welfare of the animals and proper slaughter of the animals allowed in Quran for consumption to name a few.

A God-conscious human being or a Muslim hence has to act by Allah’s manual and the example of the Prophet s.a.w. Many might ask “where is it written?” Well, everything is not dictated to us.

Verily, We created man of the best stature (mould) [Surah At-Tin:4, The Noble Quran].

At one place in the Quran, Allah declared us to be the best of creations in the best form and in the following:

This is) a Book (the Qur’an) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember [Surah Saad: 29, The Noble Quran].

Shouldn’t we then be among those who try to understand fully this mighty manual, the Best Book, full of blessings?

We have to educate ourselves and our loved ones or society in general about the harm cosmetics bring to health and the unethical ways cosmetics are produced. Morals, ethics, modesty and beauty are not then just buzzwords like halal-certified cosmetics. They are an indication of a believer’s personality and beliefs. Isn’t it?

A cosmetic item is not entirely haraam. The ingredients that form the cosmetic product have a QUESTIONABLE status. If there is uncertainty about an issue, situation, product or person or a great deal of confusion prevails, the best alternative is to completely avoid it. It matters how the pork or alcohol derivatives have been added to the cosmetic items. Of equal importance is also the notion of animal welfare only popular in the West unfortunately. Again, the concept of accountability is applicable here. Allah SWT sums up a believer’s role regarding animals:

And the cattle, He has created them for you; in them there is warmth (warm clothing), and numerous benefits, and of them you eat. And wherein is beauty for you, when you bring them home in the evening, and as you lead them forth to pasture in the morning. And they carry your loads to a land that you could not reach except with great trouble to yourselves. Truly, your Lord is full of Kindness, Most Merciful. And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment. And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge [Surah An-Nahl: 5-8].

PETA, BUAV and EWG have been my primary resources for reading about the environment and animal welfare. Also, these resources can help you understand what happens to your skin and ultimately your health when you consume these cosmetics through your skin. Naomi Wolf, in The Beauty Myth mentions that animal and even human placenta being used in the commercial cosmetic industry.

Halal-certified hence, is not a bullet out from the haram gun you know. It is based on particular concerns and only ONE of them is pork fat or alcohol derivatives. I don’t know what your common sense says when you see “Glycerin” or “Ethyl Alcohol” on the back of food or cosmetic items you buy from the supermarket.

We can’t just go on consuming without looking into the source and origin of products. We cannot deny the impact consumption has on our lives from a physical, emotional, social and spiritual viewpoint. Being Muslim is largely a matter of attitude, personality and thinking. Allah SWT mentions those who ponder and contemplate over the signs He created. We need to be socially and emotionally intelligent, you know.

Next time, instead of typing halal cosmetic in your search engine’s bar, have a cup of tea or coffee and please look into the various levels of acts except halal and haram like mushbooh (questionable). Also, the research database you use for your research projects can once in a while be used for delving into the propaganda of cosmetic industry and the reality of consumer behavior, skin consumption and penetration into the skin, types of alcohol synthetic and intoxicating and extracting fat from non-zabiha or dead animals.

Many people find it convenient to use Vegan cosmetic lines, as they are animal fat free but they have to be checked for alcohol derivatives. Others just go for natural or organic daily products but there is no confirmation of animal derivatives and alcohol which can be used as basic ingredients in the products. However, if you are read to struggle and read through all labels, than you might find some items that can be used but for that you have to memorize or get familiar with the basic ingredients to avoid.

Halal-certification is a holistic solution; you don’t have to look into each item simultaneously and dig into the ingredients. The certification is a confirmation that the products have been reviewed and endorsed by a leading Halal Research Council or committee for your welfare.

That brings us to my current initiative; I intend to get Halal-certified cosmetics for the women in Pakistan so that they don’t have to compromise on the ingredients and confidently adorn themselves complying to the manual Allah SWT sent for us.

Allah SWT is beautiful and He loves beauty.
However, the beauty is not skin deep.
It is ethical and Halal 😉

https://www.facebook.com/halalcertifiedethicalcosmetic?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Check this page out for updates and details.
Provided the situation and the theme of this blog, the following ayah of the Quran empowers me (supplication of Prophet Sulaiman a.s. )

My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves. [Surah An-Naml:19]

Aslam 0 alaikum warahmatullah!

Serving the Creation-Hiba Magazine

Welfare of the creations does not necessarily have to be a profession or an association to it rather, it is a lifestyle. Our lifestyle should depict it; serving the all the creation of Allah Az Wajjal, with our body, mind and soul.

– See more at: http://www.hibamagazine.com/serving-the-creation/#sthash.ohnbtbwO.dpuf

Towards a Balance

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(95:4)  Surah Tin (The Fig), The Noble Quran

Ahsan: beautiful on the outside and inside.

Taqweem: A Perfect Balance.

Humans are the only ones who walk completely straight, physically, as well as ethically, an ideal poise for body and soul. Allah tells us that the human is made in the best form, but with the power of the best form comes responsibility. Our self desires a balance between worldly nourishment and spiritual nourishment.

Before the Modern times, there were 3 main issues which prevailed in the world.

– God.
– Afterlife
– the human Soul.

Japanese, Indonesian, Christian (Europe), Islam (Middle East), Hinduism (India)… Etc. All these concepts were discussed around the world. In the Modern Secular Era, a war started against religion. Even though people believed in God, but God was not really significant. This was the juncture at which reliance on materialism actually began. People shifted their center of attention from afterlife to the quality enhancement of this life. Generally, the focus was reallocated to body from the soul.

And when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My [created] soul, then fall down to him in prostration.” [15:28] Surah Al-Hijr (The Rocky Tract), The Noble Quran.

Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him the soul (created by Allah for that person) [32:9] Surah As-Sajdah (The Prostration), The Noble Quran.

The thing which Allah honored the human body with is the soul and an intellect (‘aql).
Unfortunately, we are at a point in life when all we know about ourselves is primarily about the body and least we know is about the soul which was privileged.

Drawing parallels with psychology, we can see that psychology comes from the Greek word ology-study and psych-soul. When psychology first began, it had its focus on the well-being of the soul. Ancient philosophers, physicists and the fore fathers of psychology were more concerned about the functions and stages of the soul than brain chemistry.  Psyche further meant breath, life and soul. But the definition of psychology has drastically changed today. The American Heritage Dictionary for instance defines psychology as a science that deals with mental processes and human behavior. One of the greatest trickery of modernism is that there is no solid link between the external realm of matter and the realm of psyche.

Back in ancient times, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other renowned philosophers talked about virtues that the soul consisted of rather than the body systems or organic imbalances. The foundations of the modernism movement were laid by Galton, who convinced his cousin Darwin of the magnanimity of the solid concept of heredity which led to the modern belief of survival of the fittest.  Darwin reduced man’s existence to that of an ape, completely ignoring the distinction man has from animals based on spirit and intellect. Freud, Marx, Nietzche and Mandeivelle pushed the study of soul to the edge. Freud for instance heavily relied on man’s lower instincts and Nietzche was not at all appreciative of the noble instincts any man could have. He mocked the innate goodness concept. Freud in one way gave the concept of superego, but that too was limited to the rules and notions posed by the society. All of these influential personalities did not talk about the sanctity of the soul. Furthermore, Nietzche did not show any interest in even morality. He said, “”Get rid of the conscience, compassion, forgiveness – those inner human tyrants. Oppress the weak, climb over their corpses…”. Man was unfortunately reduced to a product of biological make up, body, cells, neurons, carnal desires and heredity.  However, Jung believed

Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throughout the world.

Carl Jung, “New Paths in Psychology”.

The medical practitioner including a psychologist to this day emphasizes on the body, genes, chemistry and neurons. Western Psychology is perhaps denying the roots of its own existence, the soul, as it is invisible. The modern psychologist tends to focus on the visible, observable, measurable, touchable or in a nutshell scientific aspects of a human being. The foundation of psychology as a science was the soul instead. The spiritual dimension has long been undermined in mainstream psychology.

A human being today does see himself beyond a body; the essence, the soul of the human existence that was actually honored has been long lost. Psychology now merely operates in the nature nurture equation i.e. the dis-ease in a man is a consequence of either his situation or his genes or rather both. The perfect balance that each human being was created in is hardly sought. This is one of the reasons psychologists don’t have the answers to the root causes of all major disorders today, rather the psychology community is progressing just on symptomatic treatment.

The psychologists, in order to find absolute answers have to delve into the roots again i.e. psyche– soul, breath or life. The community at large should work towards achieving a balance.The decline of the humanistic school of thought has been largely seen. Carl Jung tried to examine the imbalance in psychology itself by considering the morals and spiritual aspects in “Modern Man in search of a Soul” but his work was not integrated further into the field.

Through scientific understanding, our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had a symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightening his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree means a man’s life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom, and no mountain still harbors a great demon. Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants, and animals. He no longer has a bush-soul identifying him with a wild animal. His immediate communication with nature is gone forever, and the emotional energy it generated has sunk into the unconscious. (Carl Jung, 1964 Approaching the Unconscious).

Thus, before gauging the causes of psychological imbalance in people, perhaps, psychology has to reconnect to its roots of soul and nature as in The Fig, Ahsan-i-taqweem, the perfect balance and the peak of human excellence highlights!

May Allah reward you for reading and sharing.

 

 

References:
The Noble Quran translated by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Ph.D. & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Dar-us-Salam Publications.

Transcribed notes form Nouman Ali Khan’s lecture on Surah Tin.

The Decline of the Muslim Ummah, Iqbal Syed Hussain.

 

Release that grudge-improve your health!

Isn’t it ironic? I have taken the task of writing my first post today despite the fact that I have my Human Resource Management, mid-term tomorrow?
Well, the theme for my very first post was so important that I could just take out time for it anyways.

Holding a grudge against someone is not uncommon at all frankly. We all have that hard corner against someone who has wronged us, offended us or may be humiliated us at some point in time. We all have one of the following, a self-absorbed parent, a messed up sibling, an arrogant friend, a partner who lies to us. I and you, we all have a grievance story!

Before I further pen my thoughts down, I would like you to imagine something. Imagine that you are in an open field, and four to five helicopters over your head, are circling round and round in the air above, for weeks now.

That is how some sensitive people experience hurt or holds a grudge, when they take an event, situation or relationship too personally. Sticking in the past or holding onto a grudge or any wrong doing will continuously make thoughts and memories play repetitively in your mind. The feelings when you see the offender, the anxiety when you get the flashback of the hurt will bother you a lot. But hey, are you giving an event or a person too much power over yourself?

Recently, I too was stuck in some situation mentally. My friend provoked me with the same question and I considered the implications of unforgiveness. If you consider the meaning of unforgiveness it is probably drinking poison and indulging in false hopes that the situation can be undone, the hurt be fixed by someone who hurt you.

Forgiveness has some basic properties which I too was ignoring. Firstly, it brings peace. Secondly, the most misunderstood aspect of forgiveness is that the blame is on others for your hurt. Not at all! By forgiving, you acknowledge the sense of responsibility for your own feelings. Then there is the healing property of forgiveness which we don’t really value, unfortunately.

Don’t you have a story of how someone was unkind to you, shouted at you, mistreated you or the hurt that you continue to experience? We often disregard the importance of forgiveness, because we think we have forgiven. But that is incomplete. Forgiving someone is not forgetting, it is not reconciliation, neither is it denying that something happened. Forgiveness implies moving on from the past and empowering yourself in a way that gives you the power and liberty to feel good about yourself.

Consider the importance of learning to forgive as a skill from Epictetus’s quote:

It is the circumstances which show what men are. Therefore, when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. For what purpose? You might ask. So that you may become an Olympic Conquerer; but it is not accomplished without sweat . .  No man has had a more profitable difficulty than you have had, if you choose to make use of it as an athlete would deal with a young antagonist.

Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, the Hereafter! You have to empower your soul and comfort your mind by learning to forgive, in the real sense of the word. Have you considered that even if you take revenge, play back a prank or curse the person, it only brings short-term relief? It does not make you feel at ease perpetually.

Coming to the health implications of holding a grudge, they have mostly been rooted in the fight-flight concept. The dilemma of the flight or flight response from our sympathetic nervous system is that it only leaves us with two options; reacting or withdrawing. However, if you only depend on your biological system, then it means that you have not applied constructive thinking to deal with an interpersonal conflict, a betrayal, loss or abandonment. To recover the control over your emotions, you need to move beyond. You can rely on your nervous system to deal with immediate danger or pain, but your nervous system would not give you any short cuts to deal with a ten year old grudge with your parent or your partner. Under the influence of the fight-flight cycle and the collision of the stress hormones, our long-term vision becomes blurry. In our frustration, we give the power, the responsibility of our feelings to that person who hurt us, broken us. We become habitual of feeling bad about a person who had wronged us. Is there any significance of giving away the power to your relatives who don’t care for you? Haven’t you given them too much space in your head, majority reserves of your mind body and soul? Remember, that the rule in your mind, the expectation you have is not applicable to the one who hurt you. We can’t enforce the rule of apology onto someone else. Grab back that power as soon as possible to save yourself from frequent headaches, muscle tensions and other chronic issues.

Don’t remain imprisoned by grudges and complaints, for you will suffer the most! Forgiveness is a skill and everyone can learn it, when they first acknowledge the sense of responsibility over their feelings, their emotions. I or anyone proposing forgiveness for health does not mean that your pain is insignificant, or the cruelty you faced is justified. The important thing here is that you don’t deserve to be broken by the shackles of unforgiveness, so much so, that it starts affecting your health and well-being!

Islamic teachings always, always complete the problematic picture for me. The remedies that our deen offers are unique and highly effective. For now, you can ponder over the following ayaat from the Noble Quran, which I think explain the beauty of being a believer, and the honor of having the Quran and Ahadith for guidance! Soothe yourself from the following:

The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend [Surah Fussilat:34].

Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan (Satan), they remember (Allah), and (indeed) they then see (aright). [Surah al-Araaf:201].

Say: “Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Maula (Lord, Helper and Protector). And in Allah let the believers put their trust [Surah Tawbah: 51].

Purity is half of faith. Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fills the scales, and Subhana’Allah [How far is Allah from every imperfection] and Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fill that which is between heaven and earth. Prayer is light; charity is a proof; patience is illumination; and the Quran is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” [An Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, Number 22, Reported by Muslim].

…….Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful [Surah An-Nur:22].

If you tend think about that painful experience again sometime, pause to reflect on Yasmin Mogahed’s quote too:

If you want to kill something, neglect it. It happens in both good and bad. Neglect a relationship, it dies. Neglect your iman, it dies. But the same principal applies when you want to kill something like a thought or a desire. Neglect it, it dies.

Till next time, remember me in your prayers and think over forgiveness as a self-prescription.
I shall try to focus on my HRM mid-term now 😉

Jazak Allah khairan kaseera, for reviewing my first post!

Bibliography:

The Noble Quran, Dar-us-Salam Publications

Forgive For Good, Dr Fred Luskin