DAILY LIFE OF A MUSLIM WOMAN
As you come to this chapter, you are already aware of the
rights and responsibilities that Islam has given to women. This chapter
describes some Islamic practices which Muslim women incorporate into
daily life to fulfill those responsibilities. Some of the topics discussed
are basic etiquettes, dietary laws, hygienic practices, the practice
of hijab in daily life and the observance of Muslim holidays and festivals.
If you have recently come into the fold of Islam, you are probably meeting
sisters from cultures and backgrounds very different from yours. A discussion
on the Islamic concept of sisterhood is included, with suggestions to
help you feel more comfortable in your new religious environment.
THE MOST EXCELLENT EXEMPLAR
Islam teaches that the purpose of a Muslim's life is to worship
Allah and to devote oneself to seeking His love. It is natural for a
human being to love Allah and desire to win His love because that love
is ingrained into a person's soul before birth. Muslims recite the Azan
(call to Prayer) in an infant's right ear immediately after birth. Therefore,
from the very beginning the child is subconsciously attracted to the
Truth and Beauty of The Creator.
But how does one keep this goal in mind while going about one's daily
business? When one is involved in the mundane routine of daily life,
it may appear difficult to maintain the spiritual level required to
win Allah's love. Allah himself provided mankind with the means to do
this. He revealed Himself through the Holy Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and raised him up to be the
"Perfect Leader" and teacher of the Quranic law to all people everywhere
until the end of time. Hadhrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him) was called on to furnish an example through following which
mankind's love for their Maker could find full expression and its highest
fulfillment by enabling them to win the love of Allah.
Therefore the best example of how Muslims should live their daily lives
is found in the exemplary life and perfect character of this "Perfect
Man." (See Holy Qur'an, 33:22). So the study of his life and character
is an essential of a Muslim's education. You will find no situation
in daily life for which guidance from the Holy Prophet does not exist.
A practicing Muslim is in constant spiritual association with the Messenger
of Allah, day and night. She prays as he did, she teaches her children
moral values by quoting the hadith to them, she greets fellow Muslims
with his words of greeting, and she supplicates Allah to shower His
blessings on the Holy Prophet and his people.
OBSERVANCE OF TAQWA
There is another tool which is provided by Islamic teaching to help
keep a Muslim on the path of the righteous. This is the concept of taqwa.
The word "taqwa" can best be defined as the "fear of Allah." However,
that is not to say that one should live in the dread of the Almighty,
or that He is a Dreadful Being. Rather, it should be regarded as the
fear of the loss of Allah's love. Allah's love for His creatures is
boundless, but a Muslim should be aware that if she disregards His commands,
she may lose His Protection and His Bounty. No one can become truly
righteous until taqwa has entered every facet of their daily life.
Hadhrat Ubbay bin Kab, a companion of the Holy Prophet, aptly explained
taqwa by likening muttaqi (the righteous) to one who walks through thorny
bushes, taking care that his clothes are not caught in and torn by their
branches. In other words, a righteous person is one who is ever on his
guard against sin and takes God for his shield against temptation.
Thus if you remember that Allah sees your every action, and hears your
every word at all times, you would steer clear of wrongdoing. All kinds
of problems can be avoided or resolved if every action taken is based
on taqwa. Taqwa can be demonstrated in daily life if simple values are
constantly practiced, such as sympathy, tolerance, humility, kind speech
and gentleness, patience and truthfulness.
PRAYER IN DAILY LIFE
In Chapter 1, the Islamic prayer or salaat was discussed.
Salaat is offered five times daily, at the appointed times of Fajr (at
dawn); Zuhr (after midday); Asr (late afternoon);
Maghrib (after the sun sets) and Isha (at night). Observing these prayers
is the most important activity of a Muslim's day.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) advised his
followers that offering the required prayers at their proper times is
especially pleasing to Allah. He further instructed that recitation
of the Holy Qur'an after Fajr prayer every morning is also pleasing
to Him, even if only a few verses are read. Some sayings of the Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) concerning prayer are:
- Prayer is the essence of worship.
- Prayer averts misfortune.
- Beg of Allah all that you stand in need of, even the salt you need
or the shoelace that has snapped.
- He who is desires that Allah should accept his prayers when is distressed
and hard-pressed, should pray constantly when he is at ease.
Salaat is the central and principal form of Islamic worship, and must
be observed with all its rituals and etiquettes including a ritual ablution
(wudhu) before performing salaat. A Muslim woman must be dressed modestly,
with head, arms (at least to the elbow), and legs covered. A woman is
not permitted to perform salaat during their monthly period, nor enter
the prayer area of a mosque, until she has taken a ritual bath (see
However Islamic worship is not limited to salaat alone, for the need
to communicate with one's Creator arises constantly during the day.
This need is fulfilled by reciting prayers and remembrance of Allah
(Zikre Illahi) at any time. The Holy Qur'an contains many short prayers
for all kinds of situations, and the prayers used by the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the Promised Messiah (peace
be on him) are well documented. You will find several Arabic expressions
used for the remembrance of Allah in Chapter 5.
Therefore, as a Muslim woman, your day begins and ends with the worship
of Allah and glorifying Him as the only Master of everything in the
Heavens, the Earth, and the whole Universe. As you move through the
day, your body clock will become aware of prayer times, and you will
be able to prostrate yourself and repeat: "All praise belongs to My
Lord, the Most High."
DAILY LIVING AND ISLAMIC MANNERS
After morning prayers and devotions, you are prepared to
meet the events of the day. The most important points to remember are
to act with taqwa (the fear of Allah) in your heart, and to keep in
mind the commandments of Allah, and the sunnah (practices) and hadith
(sayings) of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
Whether or not you are employed outside your home, your daily activities
focus first and foremost on the material, moral and spiritual needs
of your family members. A Muslim woman has the power to make her home
a heaven or a hell, according to her own piety and actions. So it is
very necessary to have continuous religious training at home. Bliss
can be achieved by constant devotion and care to fear Allah and follow
the example of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on
him). Balance and moderation in all things are vital to all aspects
of home life. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)
emphasized the value of a simple life. Some of his hadith are:
- A simple way of life is part of Faith.
- Truly rich is he who has no desire for that which others have.
- Beware of luxury for the true servants of Allah love not luxury.
Courtesy and good behavior are a very important part of the Islamic
way of life. The Holy Qur'an says:
"Whatever good you do, Allah will recognize its value." (2:198)
The essence of good conduct is in moderation, balance, harmony,
restraint, patience and forgiveness. There are hundreds of ways of showing
ideal Islamic manners. Here are some hadith of the Holy Prophet:
- Good conduct is half of Faith.
- A deed is judged by its motives.
- Restrain your tongue and your passions and you will enter Paradise.
- Good deeds are a shield against an evil death.
- A gentle word is charity.
- Seek exaltation in the sight of Allah through courtesy towards one
who behaves churlishly towards you and through bestowing favors upon
him who deprives you of that which is due you.
- Honor the guest.
- He who desires to enlarge his means or to lengthen his days should
strengthen his ties of kinship.
- One who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry by his side is
not a believer.
- Extend your greetings to all alike; you will have peace. It is wrong
- Pray for and visit the sick. Shed silent tears of grief for the
ISLAMIC DIETARY LAWS
As with all matters concerning a Muslim's life, you will
find that Islam provides guidance for a pure and healthy life. The Holy
"O ye who believe, eat of the good things We have provided for you,
and render thanks to Allah, if it is He Whom you worship.
He has made unlawful to you only that which dies of itself, and
blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which the name of any other
than Allah has been invoked. But he who is driven by necessity, being
neither disobedient nor exceeding the limit, it shall be no sin for
him. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful." (2:173,174)
The first three categories are prohibited because they are harmful to
the body, and that which is harmful to the body is harmful to the spirit.
The last prohibition relates to something which is directly harmful
morally and spiritually, as it amounts to association of others with
God. Allah has made the provision that a believer may use prohibited
food if absolutely necessary; i.e., if it is a matter of life and death.
The term "halal" means "that which is lawful for you"; thus halal
meat is that which has been slaughtered in the name of Allah, and has
had the blood drained out from it. The term "haram" means that which
is unlawful for you, and includes blood, pork and alcohol. Allah has
further commanded that you eat only what is "tayyab," that is, food
that is good and wholesome. Something may be halal, but it may not be
tayyab, and thus should be avoided. Islam teaches that the condition
of the body affects the condition of the spirit, and thus great care
should be taken to keep one's body healthy and fit. Islam further teaches
that all food should be taken in moderation, and nothing should be indulged
There is no good reason for not eating halal meat at all times, unless
you are somewhere where it is absolutely unavailable. Halal meat can
usually be obtained in Muslim stores. However, if it is totally unavailable,
then it is permissible to eat meat from regular markets and invoke the
name of Allah over it before cooking and eating it.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) never ate
his fill. He has said:
- Kill not your hearts with excessive eating and drinking.
- There is no vessel worse for a person to fill than his stomach.
A few mouthfuls should suffice to keep him on his feet. But if he
must eat more, then let him fill one-third of his stomach with food,
one-third with drink and leave one-third for easy breathing.
- When you begin to eat, pronounce the name of Allah the Exalted.
If you forget in the beginning, say "In the name of Allah first and
- Do not drink liquor, for it is the key to every vice.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) always used
his right hand for eating, drinking and putting on his clothes, and
the left for purposes other than these.
The most important aspect of good hygiene is cleanliness.
In accordance with the Islamic belief that the condition of the body
affects the mind, physical cleanliness is essential for spiritual well-being.
"Allah desires not to put you in a difficulty: but desires to purify
you and complete His favors unto you that you may prosper." (Holy Qur'an,
The concern here is for the purification of the mind and soul, and
Islam emphasizes that external purity leads to internal purity, just
as external impurity leads to internal impurity.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) stressed
the importance of cleanliness. He said:
- Cleanliness is half of faith.
- Purification is the key of prayer.
- When you visit your brethren tidy up your clothes and your mounts
for Allah does not like dirt and untidiness.
Thus if you maintain outward cleanliness, you are preparing yourself
for inner purification. A pure mind in a pure body is a Muslim's goal.
Islam teaches two ways of cleaning the body, ablution and bathing:
I. Wudhu (Ablution)
Cleanliness is particularly emphasized in connection with salaat (prayer),
as a Muslim is expected to try to be in a prayerful state at all times.
To this end, Muslims are commanded to perform the ritual washing of
certain parts of the body in preparation for salaat. The Holy Qur'an
"O you who believe! When you rise up for prayer, wash your faces
and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads, and (wash)
your feet up to the ankles." (5:7)
The way in which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him) performed wudhu is as follows:
- The hands are washed to the wrists three times.
- The mouth is rinsed with water three times.
- The nostrils are cleaned three times by snuffing a little water
into them and blowing the nose if necessary.
- The complete face is washed with water three times.
- The right arm, and then the left, is washed from wrist to elbow.
- The head is wiped over with wet hands, and the inner side of the
ears wiped with the forefingers and the outer side with the thumbs.
- Finally, the feet are washed to the ankles, the right one first.
While you may perform ablution before every prayer, it becomes necessary
only after using the restroom, after vomiting or bleeding occurs and
after one has been asleep. Acquiring the habit of wudhu not only fulfills
the religious injunction, it also helps you maintain habitual cleanliness
and self discipline.
If no water is available, clean dust may be substituted. The hands
are passed over the dust, and then passed over face and arms. This is
Bathing is the complete washing of the entire body. As Islam encourages
one to be in a constant state of cleanliness, it goes without saying
that bathing should be part of a Muslim's daily hygiene. Allah states
in the Holy Qur'an:
"Allah loves those who keep themselves clean." (2:223)
There are certain activities after which Muslims are instructed
to take a ritual bath in order to purify themselves for salaat. These
are: after sexual intercourse, at the end of the menstrual period and
after stoppage of bleeding after childbirth. At these times, the bath
should include the steps of wudhu, followed by washing the entire body
including the hair.
It is also a sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be on him) to take a bath in preparation for religious occasions, such
as Friday (Juma) prayers and holiday (Eid) prayers.
Other Hygienic practices
Another hygienic practice promoted by Islam is the washing
of the private parts of the body after using the toilet. Water is used
to clean these areas, and only the left hand should be used for this
purpose. The use of water aids in the removal of bacteria from the body
and thus helps to prevent infection. Hands, of course, should be thoroughly
washed after the process.
In addition, certain other hygienic practices observed by the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be on him) have been encouraged for all
Muslims. These include: oiling and combing of hair after washing, keeping
fingernails and toenails trimmed and clean, and removal of superfluous
body hair, including the armpits and pubic areas. He also encouraged
the use of perfume after bathing. Muslims are commanded to keep their
clothes clean and neat also. Clothing, whether simple or rich, should
be clean and free from dirt.
When Muslims practice Islamic hygiene in the correct manner, they benefit
in two ways: their outward purity helps them achieve inner purity, and
the whole society benefits because many health hazards can be avoided.
PRACTICE OF HIJAB IN DAILY LIFE
In Chapter 2, Women's Issues, you have already come across the explanation
of hijab or purdah. Once again, Islam stresses the relationship between
body and mind. The wearing of the outer garments and veiling of the
body leads to veiling of the heart and shielding it from impure thoughts.
The Holy Qur'an tells women to wear an outer covering and to draw their
head coverings over their bosoms. It also advises them to cover their
faces. However, there is no one type of dress that is compulsory for
all Muslim women. The form of the veil adopted varies from country to
country. As you have probably seen, Pakistani women wear a long coat
with a head scarf that can cover the face, known as a "burqa." Women
in the Middle East wear a head covering over long dresses.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV, Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement
has set clear guidelines for observing hijab/purdah for Ahmadi women
in Western countries. He advises women born and bred in Pakistan who
have moved here, to maintain the form of hijab/purdah that they used
there, i.e., the burqa, with the face covered. Women who work outside
the home may take off their hijab/purdah at work, if necessary, but
should wear it at all other times.
Hazoor has defined "minimum Islamic purdah" as wearing a loose fitting
outer garment and a head scarf. The face may be uncovered, but without
makeup. This is adequate for sisters new to Islam, and may be used by
others who are unable to use the complete burqa. Generally, Islam requires
modesty in dress, with arms and legs covered. Clothes should be loose
and the curves of the body should not be discernible, especially in
public. A newcomer to Islam should not feel insecure about the way she
dresses as long as her dress follows the Islamic code of modesty.
The conduct of a Muslim woman is a very important part of observing
hijab/purdah. Whether at work, or among family and friends, a Muslim
woman must conduct herself with great propriety and decorum. It is advisable
to avoid idle chitchat with the opposite sex, mixed parties and shaking
hands with the opposite sex.
MUSLIM FESTIVALS AND CEREMONIES
All religions have their own special days of worship, celebrations,
rituals and observances. Islamic festivals and ceremonies are also distinct
ways of glorifying Allah and sharing the joy that flow from the blessings
of being the "best people" who are guided to the true faith.
Some Islamic observances are as follows:
- Friday Prayer
Friday is the holy day for Muslim worship, with a congregational
service held at the time of Zuhr prayer. The Imam
delivers a sermon (khutba), and then the Zuhr prayer is offered
in congregation. This is known as Juma prayer. Attendance is obligatory
for Muslim men, and women should attend whenever they are able to
as the blessings received for attending are very great. At a particular
moment during the service, angels come near to the worshipers and
they ask Allah to especially bless the faithful who are present
in the congregation.
Before attending Juma prayers, a Muslim should follow the sunnah
of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and
take a complete bath, put on clean clothes, use perfume and avoid
eating odorous food. After Juma prayers, Muslims may go back to
- Eid ul Fitr (Festival at the end of Ramadhan)
The end of the Holy month of Ramadhan is marked by the festival of
Eid ul Fitr. This joyous day is celebrated to give thanks for the
blessings of Ramadhan. Muslims attend the congregational Eid prayer
service which is held in the morning, and then spend the rest of the
day exchanging greetings and gifts with family and friends. They wear
new clothing, cook delicious food and invite friends and neighbors
to celebrate with them. Fasting during Ramadhan inspires sympathy
for the hungry and needy, and encourages Muslims to donate generously
to the poor.
- Eid ul Azhia (Festival of Sacrifice)
This festival comes about ten weeks after Eid ul Fitr, and marks the
completion of Hajj (Holy pilgrimage to Mecca). It is the festival
of Sacrifice, commemorating the time when the Prophet Abraham (peace
be on him) was ready to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (peace be on him)
for the sake of Allah. As a result of Abraham's willing obedience,
Allah did not permit Ishmael to be sacrificed, and an animal was substituted
instead. It is their obedience to Allah that is celebrated by Muslims
the world over. On this Eid, those that can afford it sacrifice an
animal and share the meat among families, neighbors and the poor.
- Other Ceremonies
Other occasions celebrated by Muslims include weddings, births
and religious gatherings. At weddings, the nikah and walimah are
usually celebrated. The birth of a child is celebrated by sacrificing
an animal and inviting relatives friends and the poor to a feast
called the "Aqiqa." When a child finishes the Holy Qur'an for the
first time, his parents celebrate with an "Ameen," where friends
join in prayer for the child, and sweets are distributed.
The Ahmadiyya Movement holds many functions, on the national, regional
and local scale. Not only do these gatherings, known as jalsa and
ijtemah, provide great moral and spiritual uplift, they also give
members the opportunity to meet old and new friends. Some days that
are especially celebrated are Seeratun - Nabi Day (celebration of
the exemplary character of the Holy Prophet), Masih Mauood Day (Promised
Messiah Day), Musleh Mauood Day (celebration of the Promised Son)
and Khilafat Day (to celebrate Allah's mercy in providing the blessings
of Khilafat). Another celebration is that of Religious Founders'
Day, where people of other faiths are invited to talk about their
religion and its founder.
Muslims, especially Ahmadis, do not celebrate birthdays in the same
fashion as they are celebrated in Western society. A birthday is
seen as the decrease of the life span by a year, thus a cause for
prayer rather than a celebration. Muslims take part in national
holidays, such as Independence day and Thanksgiving, but do not
celebrate Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Valentine's day.
- Janaza Service (Funeral service)
The transitions from this world to the next and the disposal of a
deceased are serious matters in all cultures and religions. In Islam
death is treated with great dignity. A deceased Muslim is due utmost
respect and his body is handled according to the sunnah (action) of
the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The body
is given a ritual bath, and wrapped in two white sheets before being
put in a coffin. Once it is prepared, the funeral service is held.
The Imam leads the Janaza prayer, with the mourners standing in rows
behind him. After this, the body is buried, usually in a graveyard
that belongs to the Ahmadiyya Community. Cremation is not permitted
If you are a convert to Islam, your next of kin may be Christian,
or some other faith. As your body will legally belong to them after
your death, you should discuss with them your wishes for funereal
service and burial arrangements. It would be advisable to document
your instructions for removal and disposition of your body, and provide
your relatives and the Ahmadiyya Community with a copy. Also you should
have funds earmarked for these purposes. Your relatives should also
be made aware that your estate would be divided according to the laws
of the Holy Qur'an (4:8-13). This requires a legally binding Islamic
THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF SISTERHOOD
If you are a new convert to Islam through Ahmadiyyat, you
will be meeting Ahmadi women from other countries. While their customs
and language may make them seem like strangers to you, they are not
strangers. You are bonded to them as sisters in religion. Moreover,
you are all members of the Ahmadi women's organization, the Lajna Imaillah
(see Chapter 7 for more information).
From the earliest days of Islam, there have existed noble and blessed
women who are an example for Muslim women today. They demonstrated their
outstanding characteristics by excelling in good works. They learned
and then taught the ideals of their Faith to others,
with piety, humility, love, and self-sacrificing service. Some of these
ladies were Hadhrat Khadija and Hadhrat Ayesha, wives of the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be on him); Hadhrat Nusrat Jehan, the
wife of the Promised Messiah; Hadhrat Amtul Hai Sahiba, Hadhrat Umme
Nasir Sahiba, Hadhrat Maryam Sahiba and Hadhrat Maryam Siddiqa, who
were wives of the late Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II. They all held the
office of President of the International Lajna Imaillah.
Lajna Imaillah, which means "maidservants of Allah," tries to
follow the example of these women, and encourages its members to do
good works. By attending the meetings of your local chapter and joining
in their activities, you will come to feel part of this sisterhood of
Muslim women. Many Ahmadi women in the United States are from Pakistan,
and many of them do not speak English well. Although they may not be
able to verbally communicate with you very well, be assured that in
their hearts they regard you as their Muslim sister. So greet them warmly
at Lajna meetings and you will find that cultural and language barriers
gradually melt away. Be aware also that some social customs you encounter
are cultural and not religious. The Holy Qur'an and Hadith clearly define
Islamic law, so it is not essential to slavishly follow someone else's
Another aspect of sisterhood in Islam is the spiritual relationship
between you and your sisters in Faith. This is dependant on sharing
duties that promote the cause of Islam. These include acquiring, practicing
and teaching moral and spiritual knowledge.
Some tried and tested suggestions for enhancing sisterly relations
- Remembering Allah much throughout the day.
- Paying attention to the five daily prayers, memorizing them in Arabic
and with translation, reading and understanding the Holy Qur'an, memorizing
and practicing hadith.
- Studying about Islam with your sisters in faith.
- Attending regularly the Jamaat meetings and volunteering your services
- Paying Jamaat dues, making donations to the needy.
- Praying with and for your sisters that misunderstandings and cultural
differences be lovingly overcome.
- Dressing modestly in an Islamic manner.
- Accepting and returning sisterly social invitations that establish
mutual respect and affection.
- Learning and using phrases in the language of your sisters.
PROGRESS TOWARDS PERSONAL SPIRITUAL REFORMATION
As you follow the path of truth and beauty in Islam, it may
not be easy to leave old habits and ways behind. Changing and improving
your way of thinking and living is a great achievement which requires
a mountain of patience, especially when you encounter trials and setbacks
that test your faith. At this point, the first and best answer is to
seek refuge with Allah, through worship. Secondly, concentrating on
doing good for others and helping spread the message of Islam are proven
methods for earning spiritual growth.
When in doubt, try and keep your heart, thoughts and sight firmly focused
on seeking refuge in Allah with patience and trust. Allah revealed in
the Holy Qur'an that He answers the prayers of believers (see Holy Qur'an,
2:187). Even when the way is dark and dreary, and you are not making
the progress you hoped for, do not even think of giving up! Concentrate
your efforts on self-improvement, and beg Allah's help.
You may encounter opposition for your new beliefs from your family and
friends. (See Chapter 6 - Contemporary Issues). Try and resist their
efforts to entice you back to your former habits. Suffering and trials
strengthen spiritual progress. Even if you make mistakes, keep praying
for help because Allah is most Forgiving, Ever Merciful and Acceptor
To safeguard your faith, keep company with pious sisters, remain devoted
in prayer and good works. Accept your sisters loving offers of support.
Fasting for purification, repentance and forgiveness helps to overcome
weaknesses. If someone tries to influence you away from Islam, tell
them about the truth and beauty of Islam -- and influence them instead!
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Holy Qur'an with commentary. Trans. & Ed. Malik Ghulam
Farid. U. K. 1994.
Holy Qur'an with commentary. 5 volumes. Trans. & ed. Malik Ghulam
Farid. U. K., 1988.
Gardens of the Righteous. Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet). Trans.
Muhammad Zafrulla Khan.
Ahmad, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood. Way of the Seekers. Washington, D.C.
Chaudri, Rashid Ahmad. Muslim Festivals and Ceremonies. U. K., 1988.
Khan, Muhammad Zafrulla. Wisdom of the Holy Prophet. U. K., 1988.
See the appendix for additional references.