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Dec 31, 2012

Short Story: Turn to Allah, before you return to Allah

by Hasna Fathima


Zainath was lying on the bed, half awake, clutching her pillow tight against her chest and covering her whole body with a thick blanket except for the face, as it was very cold outside. She always loved spending quiet time just lying on her bed before she starts the day. She would have enjoyed the lie thoroughly if it was not for the distant sound of the birds chirping, which made her feel annoyed.

She always hated anything which interrupted her comfy sleep. To increase her annoyance, she heard the Adhan calling. “It must be near to five,” thought Zainath with a rage. And remembering something, she closed her eyes tight, pulled the blanket up to her nose, which now revealed only her tightly shut eyes, and pretended to be asleep. For she knows that in a few minutes of time, her dad would come waking her for the prayer.

Although she loved her dad a lot, it made her angry whenever someone woke her up while having a nice long nap, and her dad was not an exception. Not more than a minute passed after this thought occurred to her, she heard a gentle knock on her room door. “It must be dad,” she thought under her breath and it was.

“Assalamu Alaikum, Zainath dear! It's time you got up and prayed Subah or you’ll miss it.”
“Oh, I can pray it later. Why, even the Prophet himself has said that it is all right if we were sleepy and prayed the missed ones later,” she convinced herself, though she did not dare open her mouth to her dad.

Thinking that Zainath was not awake yet, her dad came in opening the door. “Come on, child! Wake up and get ready to pray! It's already getting late and you never know when the death will embrace us! You can't always sleep like this on weekends. You'll be punished by Allah!'”

“Phew! Allah is the most Merciful, they say! So why on earth would He want to punish an innocent soul like me? He is the one who has given me this sleepy head after all. I’m not responsible for it. And, me, die in a few hours of time? Whom did he think he was kidding?” she thought not knowing that Shaitan has started to play a very clever game with her.

“Zainath, I know that you’re awake, don’t pretend my dear child. Now get up and pray like a good girl, InshaAllah, we can both be together in Jannah. I got to go now, or I'll miss the Jama’ath,” saying thus, her dad left her lying there on her bed and went to the mosque.

Zainath felt extremely happy, “At least now I can sleep without any disturbance until dad returns,” thought her immature mind. A minute more sleep in the morning could make her feel happy like nothing in the world could.

“But wait, where am I? Why are all these people surrounding me? And why are they crying? How come I’m here?” suddenly these questions started to overpower Zainath, and she was curious to get hold of the answers. Hence, she attempted to get up from the bed.

But, Alas! She could not! She felt like she was glued to the bed. “Well, let’s ask someone else,” she decided and tried to move her lips. Oh, poor Zainath! That didn’t work either!

“Now what madness is this?” she thought as she felt irritated. And then she heard someone saying something about death. Like lightning, it struck her now!

“No, no, no! Surely not. It can’t be true. How can it?”

“I can’t be dead! No way. Just now I was lying on my bed asleep!” she thought seriously. But there was no other explanation, because someone now was covering her with a white cloth, and she could not do anything to stop it, but just watch.

She was scared, and still she felt difficulty in believing this sudden change of events. “Ya Allah! Please give me one more chance; I didn’t even pray my Subah. Don’t you want me to pray to you? If you wake me up, I’ll spend my whole life in no other position but praying to you, kneeling down only to you,” she thought desperately, not realizing for once with Whom she was bargaining.

And then she heard a voice inside her head, “Allah, the Eternal Refuge.” (112:02)

He does not need anyone’s prayers to survive. It is He Who has created man in order to worship Him.

Now she started regretting all those times she had wasted idling, procrastinating and ignoring His Commands. Now she realized how much she owed her Lord for keeping herself healthy, happy and alive. How she wished she had not spent her time in useless ways, or she would not have needed to worry at all.

But, time and death never await anyone! And she was dreading being put in Hell. She could not even imagine that moment. Not soon enough, a rough voice spoke from above, “Bring her here, the disobedient soul.” She was lifted up and before she could understand what was happening, she was thrown into a very narrow, deep pit. This was, no doubt, “The Hell.” With this last thought, she kept falling down.

Zainath awoke with a jolt, wet with perspiration, and she was shivering. And the shivering was not due to the cold. It took a while before she realized that it was only a dream, and that she was still alive!

Thank God! But what a horrible dream it had been? What if it was real and she had died missing her prayers?

“Allah surely loves me a lot, that’s why He has shown me this dream. Indeed it’s gonna be an eye opener for me,” she soliloquized being very grateful. Tears were rolling down her cheeks.
And from that day forward, Zainath never missed a prayer, Alhamdulillah!

Now, let us face it!
Do we all need such a dream to open our eyes?
To make us realize the purpose of our lives?
Are there not plenty of signs on earth which are sufficient to make anyone turn towards Him?
But still, here we lie under the impression that death will come to us only when we are old, diseased, or were we thinking ourselves to be immortal beings?
Nay! Indeed, death will come to anyone, at anytime, in any form, like an uninvited guest, and the most unwanted guest.
No matter how hard we dislike it; surely we will have to leave all these worldly things we hold tight to.
One day, when Allah decides to get hold of us!
Now is the chance.
It is now or never.
Let us turn to Allah before we return to Allah!

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Dec 28, 2012

Winter Cooking: Vegetable and Sausage Stew and Qeema Casserole

by Um-e-Usman


Winter is here. The days are getting shorter. During all the commotion of daily life, we wonder “Whew!! Where did the time go?!” And then we realize the dinner still has to be made. In wintertime, everybody loves something warm and moms always love some time on their hands. So ladies, take out that slow cooker that has been sitting on the shelf for quite a while and treat yourself to a pedicure while your cooker does the work for you. If you do not have one, not to worry. A regular pot will work too.

Vegetable and Sausage Stew 

The best part of this stew is that it  can be customized. It is healthy, nutritious and easy to make.

Serves 5 people


Celery: 2 sticks (chopped)

Long squash (“lauki” in Urdu): 1 cup chopped

Brussels sprouts: 1 cup sliced

Asparagus: 3 sticks chopped

Broccoli: 1 cup cut into small florets

Capsicum: ½ cup diced

Onions: ½ cup diced

Tomatoes: ½ cup diced

Mushrooms: 1-1/2 cups sliced

Beans (black and/or red): 1 can drained

Carrots: 1 cup diced or 1 small package baby carrots

Sausages (hot dog franks): 6

Salt as per taste

Chili powder: ½ tsp

Turmeric: ¼ tsp

Water enough to submerge everything (for a pot)


Chop one sausage into small pieces and keep it aside. Wash and cut/chop all of the vegetables and remaining sausages and mix the spices with water. Turn the heat on high and let everything boil for a minute. Turn the heat to low and let it cook for 6 to 8 hours for all the flavors to mix in with each other. Check occasionally, stirring gently. Add water if necessary.

Before serving, sprinkle a little Italian seasoning and coriander for extra flavor. Stir-fry the chopped hot dog. For those picky eaters, garnish with a little cheese and top it all with stir-fry sausage bits.

You can also make this stew with lentils and whatever veggies you have in the refrigerator. 


Qeema Casserole 

This is a very filling and hearty recipe. Again, it can be customized to one’s liking and diet plans.


For qeema:

Qeema (Ground Beef): 1 lb.

Onions: 2 sliced

Tomatoes: 2 sliced

Ginger/garlic paste: 1 tbsp.

Salt as per taste

Red chili powder: ½ tsp

Turmeric: ½ tsp

Green chilies: 2-3 sliced

Oil for frying

Coriander for garnishing

For second layer:

Potatoes: 5-10 boiled

For white sauce:

Butter/margarine: 1 tbsp

All-purpose flour: 4-5 tbsps

Milk: ¼ cup

Water: 1 cup

Salt as per taste

Cheese: 1 tbsp (shredded)

Italian seasoning: a pinch

Cheese: 2 cups shredded


Add salt to the water. In a pot, boil the potatoes. Peel the skin after the potatoes are boiled and then mash them.

Heat oil and fry onions until they are light brown. Add ginger and garlic paste, sautĂ©. Add the spices and fry for half a minute. Then, add the tomatoes while stirring. Add ¼ cup of water and turn down the heat to medium. Let everything cook together until the tomatoes are tender. Add the ground beef (qeema) and fry it all for a minute on high heat. Add the water, turn down the heat, cover the pot, and cook until tender. If your family likes a dry casserole, fry the ground beef until all the water is evaporated. If they like a gooey casserole, keep a little water in it. That is two layers completed!

White sauce:

Melt butter in a pot. Add all-purpose flour and stir it until it becomes light brown. Add milk and water while stirring constantly. Mix it until no lumps remain (use a hand blender for additional help). Add water to obtain a desired consistency (the mixture should drip like a thick stream from a spoon). Add cheese while stirring. Add the seasoning just before adding it to the casserole tray.

In an oven (broiler) safe dish, evenly spread the completed ground beef (qeema) on the bottom. Then, pour a little white sauce and spread it evenly throughout. Next, spread a generous layer of mashed potatoes. Then, pour the remaining mixture of white sauce and sprinkle the cheese to top it off. With the broiler on, put the dish in the oven. As soon as the cheese is melted and turns a little brown, it is all ready to serve and eat.

Now, the great thing about this casserole is it can also be kept as leftovers. Whatever you have left in the dish in the refrigerator, mix and heat it together to make one layer of it.

Ideas for customization:

Use bread crumbs instead of cheese for the lower fat option. This will still give it a cheesy brown look.

Add a layer of mushrooms. But first cook them just like the ground beef by adjusting the ingredients according to the weight of them. They lose a lot of water, so be sure to cook them properly. Add a layer of stir-fry vegetables instead of potatoes for a healthier and greener casserole. This is a fancier dish to serve guests, instead of mashed potatoes.

This casserole will definitely warm up a wintry night and it will light up the dinner table with happy faces inshaAllah. By the end of the day, all of our well fed moms are happy too! Happy cooking lovely readers and bon appetite!

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Dec 26, 2012

Ibaadah & Winter

By Farheen Naaz


As the winter season approaches, many of us may find ourselves suffering from the winter blues. It becomes difficult for many of us to wake up in mornings, and there is always that feeling of lethargy and wanting to go back to sleep.

On the other hand, early Muslims would welcome winter with a lot of enthusiasm due to all the rewards that they could gain from it. Winter can only be a blessing to the believers, as the time we spend during it can become very valuable. It has a lot of benefits and the most obvious one is fasting. Fasting becomes easier in winters as the days are shorter and nights longer. With nights being longer comes another benefit, and that is of being able to pray at night, while still getting some rest.

I know how difficult it is to motivate ourselves to perform deeds like fasting and praying at night during the winter season, especially after all the good talk about it. And it is true that as Muslims we go through eeman highs and lows. But what better way to gain good deeds than by simply bearing a few hardships of the winter season?

It gives us a chance to get closer to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), and a chance to reflect on the seasonal changes and the power Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has over the entire world. If none of these do it for us, then the reminder of the extreme cold of the hellfire is sure to make a believer want to seek refuge from it. Seeking refuge by making dua is another form of ibaadah which will increase the good deeds of a believer.

In order for us to succeed in our ibadah, we need to efface that feeling of lethargy. A few tips which will help do that are the following:

1. Stop believing that you are lazy

Stop calling yourself lazy! Tell yourself that you are not lazy and also BELIEVE in it. By doing so, we set a bar for ourselves which we need to live up to.

2. Plan and organize

There is nothing more appealing than planning and organizing things. Plan what to do and within what time frame to do it. Make check lists. Use sticky notes. Set reminders on your phone. Make posters to hang around the house. All of these things should be used to remind you that you are fit and fine, and it should motivate you to keep thanking Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and seeking forgiveness.

3. Exercise

One of the best ways to beat lethargy and laziness is to activate your body. This can easily be done through exercise. Most people stop exercising in winter due to the cold mornings. This is not a good excuse and is not a reason to stop exercising! As believers, we need to take care of our body. This does not mean that we overdo it and stress ourselves out either. It just means we need to be moderate in how much and how often we exercise.

4. Pay attention to the times you feel energy within you

Another way to perform ibaadah perfectly is to check the times when you are most energized, and use that time to perform acts of ibaadah. We need to put this sugar rush into good use.

5. Brain storm and De-Clutter

Get rid of all the clutter around you, both literally and mentally. A cluttered space is sure to set you back and make you feel lazy. Clean up and stir up the thoughts in your head which will tell you what you are best at.

6. Get some sunlight

Vitamin D is essential for us. Sunlight is beneficial due to the fact that it helps us stay energized and keeps us in the mood to do things. Spend some time in the sunlight without having negative thoughts and see the difference it can make. :D It will at least give a signal to your brain, “Hey, it is morning now, we need to start working!”

7. Stop the enmity with your alarm

Do we not all hate hearing our alarms go off, and love that snooze button?! Grumble all you want, but it is that alarm that will help you wake up for fajr. Keep it very far away from your sleeping area, and loud enough so that it can be heard. Continuously hearing that annoying alarm will make you want to get up and shut it off. By the time you get to the alarm, you are half way up!

These are just a few tips to help us overcome the laziness that we may feel during the winter season. They are here to give us an idea of how we can use the winter time to increase and improve our ibadah. I hope you find benefit in them.

Please leave a comment in the comments section below if you have any more tips and tricks that can help all of us.

Dec 24, 2012

Family Time in the Holiday Season: Reflecting On the Two Eids, Some Practical Advice

by Wordsmith


If you live in the West, or have visited during the holiday season, I am sure you are aware of the mayhem that takes place during national festivities. It is pretty hard to miss, as every aisle in every store is decorated with the colors of the upcoming holiday (although “upcoming” usually means two months later) and seasonal jingles chirp in every corner. Although, from a critical lens, it is obvious that such celebratory efforts are rooted in consumerism rather than religious inclinations, I guess we all have to admit that the artificial excitement is pretty contagious…

I mean, come on! Everything is on sale, everyone is at the malls shopping for their loved ones, the candy section at Walmart is suddenly overflowing with holiday-themed bits of goodness, and the jovial songs that play in the overhead store radios get pretty catchy and familiar after a while.

Once, my sister made a confession to me: she was usually more excited about Christmas than she was for both Eids. I realized that the feeling is probably mutual for many young Muslims living in the West whose families have not done much to celebrate their Islamic identity and history during the prescribed holidays.

My own experience is evidence of this dilemma: on the day of Eid, many of my friends did not endeavor to dress up for Eid prayer at the local masjid, as if it were just an ordinary day. This nonchalance may be due to the way they experienced the Islamic holidays, and never really felt that the day was anything special, besides the extra prayers they had to perform at the mosque.

Reality check for those who believe the above is not a valid concern: you ARE competing with the commercialism of holidays and festivities. And although, as an adult, you believe you are not susceptible to the craze please realize that your children are. We should not have to feel left out during Halloween or Christmas, or feel that as Muslims we are not “fun” and only religious. Properly celebrating the joy that God has prescribed for us is our duty.

Now that the need to celebrate our God-given holidays is emphasized, here are some creative ways and useful resources to add some flavor to your Eid:

1. HYPE things up!
Before the Eid holidays begin, get into the zone of the celebrations! Pray to Allah to make this holiday a beautiful time for you and your family, as well as a time of blessing and mercy for all families around the globe. Then start the planning!

Talk to some friends who you want to share the celebrations with and see what they are doing. Plan something together. Sure, last-minute plans hold an element of spontaneity, but arranging for things earlier gives everyone excitement-tingles and something to look forward to on Eid. Additionally some places might require reservation or prior-notice, eliminating some of your fun options.

Also, make sure your plans are inclusive of parents, children, young and old. If making plans with a large group of people, plan for the kids’ activities to happen on one day, and something both adults and kids can enjoy the next day.

Decorations are simply INDISPENSABLE during the holidays! And they are fun and cheap!
Run to the dollar store, grab a bunch of streamers, balloons, and tape. Decorations will give you and the children an activity to bond over as you teach them to fold, cut, tape and blow. This will all add to the celebratory mood.

TIP: Get creative and do not resort to having an “Eid tree”; that is just plain unoriginal.

Here are some awesome decorations to make and display with your kids for Eid, along with complete instructions and pictures:

The prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam said: “Exchange gifts with each other, you will love each other.” [Al-Bukhari, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Number 594, Hasan]

The process of giving gifts might be a little tedious, but who does not love receiving gifts? Make it a holiday tradition in your family to give and receive gifts, and one way you can do that is by revamping the “Secret Santa” game and call it “Secret Salam.”

I began this tradition in my family after a friend told me about it. Basically, you put each family member’s name in a hat or bowl and mix up the names. Then each person draws out a name and must give a gift to the person whose name they pulled out.

Also, we added a wish list feature to the process in order to make gift-shopping a bit easier. Each participant is to post a wishlist of gifts they would like to receive on the fridge. Making a price cap/limit also evens out the game, so that you do not end up with a few pieces of candy while another family member unwraps an iphone.

If you need some help on how to give gifts, here is a humorous but meaningful guide to pull you out of your rut: http://muslimmedicine.net/?p=398

Of course, it is always important to give back to your community in any way, even during the holidays. And there are so many ways to do so, all of which incorporate quality time where the family does something purposeful together.

For example, make goodie bags for the children in your neighborhood or community, even if they are not Muslim. Include a little note in there wishing them a happy holiday or Eid, as well as a concise quote from Prophet Muhammad salallhu Allayhi wassalam encouraging an act of goodness.

Also, if your family is one who sacrifices an animal for Eid, take your children to see the process and include them in the act of passing out the meat to the needy. This will open their eyes to the fact that there are always people who are in a worse situation than them and it will encourage them to be more grateful. Make sure to discuss the experience afterwards and hear what they have to say.

Last but not least, it is very important to make the holidays a time of joint ibaadah and spirituality for the family. Reflect on the purpose and history of your celebration together. Retell the stories and pray two rak’ahs of shukr/gratitude together for being able to celebrate another day of joy as a family. Offer the Witr prayer to end the day and during the Qunut Nazilah make dua for the items on your list (the one you had compiled earlier with your children by brainstorming with them).

Finally, realize that you do not need to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy your Eid. Look for financially efficient ways to celebrate (I am sure the internet can supply you with numerous ideas). Also, when creating traditions of celebration with your family, make sure that the whole family is included in the process, and that your festivities are tailored to THIS culture too and not only to what your family has done every Eid overseas. Your children might not necessarily find such traditions relevant.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Reference for Hadeeth- http://www.dailyhadithonline.com/2012/11/24/hadith-on-gifts-give-gifts-to-each-other-and-you-will-love-one-another/

Dec 21, 2012

The Santa Dilemma

By Tara DeLancey AlOmari


This article, aimed at convert sisters, will briefly discuss how to realistically instruct your children during this holiday experience, without compromising their beliefs or becoming a holiday “Scrooge.” No matter how much you may try to isolate your children, the fact is that the “Santa thing” is so prevalent these days in Western society that they are going to encounter it throughout their childhood.

Before we begin, allow us to examine the historical sources that gave birth to this concept of Santa Claus. According to popular belief, the modern-day Santa, also known as Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas, is a fat, jolly old man with a long white beard who lives in the North Pole. Additionally, he rides his magical sleigh, pulled by eight flying reindeer, all over the world on Christmas Eve to deliver toys to the children of the world. This figure has his origins in Dutch folklore and may have also been influenced by other elements of Germanic paganism. While he may have started off as a fairly innocuous fantasy figure, along with trolls and unicorns, Santa Claus is now the central figure of a mammoth holiday-gift industry which is, at its core, a complete lie.

Children are naturally drawn to the fanciful and mysterious, so it is not surprising that even Muslim children will be enraptured by the holiday spirit, and perhaps wish that Santa was real. While our children should know from the beginning that Santa does not exist, so as not to have false belief him, they should also know how to tactfully and gracefully interact with others, their friends, classmates, grandparents, and cousins who do celebrate Christmas.

With Friends and Classmates

It can be very tricky for a child who knows Santa is not real to keep it to him/herself when all their classmates are talking about him. You can make matters easier for your children by advising them that this (Islam) is what we believe. Make sure that you present it in a way that is suitable for their age and maturity. For example, tell them that even though we know Santa is not real, their friends are free to believe whatever they want, and it will hurt their friends’ feelings if they tell them he is not real. This also presents an excellent opportunity to teach them about Surat Al-Kafiroon, in which Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:

“For you is your religion, and for me is my religion” (Surah Al-Kafiroon:Chapter 109,Verse 6)

The importance of this is not only to keep them from spoiling the fun of other children, but to teach them respect, tact, and the right way to present Islam through words and actions. We must understand that this is by no means an easy task, and it is one that even adult Muslims struggle with on a daily basis in the West.

With Grandma and Grandpa

For converts with parents who celebrate Christmas: if you have not experienced this already, get ready for an onslaught of Christmas spirit aimed at your children! The only thing that American and British grandparents love more than their grandchildren is their grandchildren on Christmas. Therefore, it is essential to be very sensitive, respectful, and patient with them, even as they plan the most ambitious Christmas celebrations around your children. After all, they are still your parents. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) speaks about how we should treat our parents in multiple places in the Quran, and this applies to non-Muslim and Muslim parents:

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. (Surah Al-Isra: Chapter 17, Verse 23) 

And We have enjoined upon man goodness to parents. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. To Me is your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. (Surah Al-Ankaboot: Chapter 29, Verse 8) 

Even though Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says that we should not obey our parents if they command us to worship other than Him, there is still an emphasis on good treatment, respect, and kindness we must practice towards them.

This goes beyond the issue of whether or not it is permissible to celebrate Christmas. It is universally agreed amongst scholars, ancient and modern, that celebrating the holidays of disbelievers is a form of bid’a, or unacceptable innovation in the religion. Additionally, the Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) is known to have said:

Whoever imitates a nation is but one of them. (Abu Dawud) 

Therefore, the focus of this issue, for you as well as your children, should be on pleasing your parents without going into the realm of haram or shirk. It’s about maintaining those essential connections of the womb while still adhering to Islam. In fact, maintaining those connections is part of adhering to Islam. Whether or not your decision to spend Christmas with your parents constitutes “celebrating” depends on the continued upholding of your other religious duties, such as praying and wearing hijab. What is more important than that, however, is your intention. According to another Hadith, the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

Actions are only by intentions and every person will earn that which he intended. (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim) 

If your intention is not to celebrate Christmas, but to be merciful, generous, and understanding to your parents, you need to make sure your children are also clear on the family’s intention surrounding this holiday. Additionally, pray for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to accept your actions and intentions, and for Him (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to be merciful, generous, and understanding with you just as you have been with them.

In order to help your children navigate through this difficult situation, you can engage in the same age-appropriate discussions with them that you told them to have with their friends and classmates. For example, if you are planning on spending Christmas day with your parents, you can tell them, “When you’re at grandma’s house you can pretend for Grandma’s sake; that will make her very happy, but of course we know that Santa’s not real”.

Opting Out

Of course, you can always just avoid Christmas altogether. If your goal is to save your kids from the potential fitna caused by experiencing others’ holiday traditions, then good for you! That is absolutely a good and laudable decision to make. However, ensure that your parents still have many meaningful opportunities to visit, play with, and buy gifts for their grandchildren. This is what every grandparent desires more than anything and it is essential for you to fulfill their rights over you.

I am not going to tell you that you must not visit your parents on Christmas, or that you must. I will not tell you exactly what to teach your children either; only you and Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) know what the particulars of your situation are. Whatever you do, however, do it with the intention of pleasing Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and be very careful to maintain the ties of kinship. Do not let your choices this holiday season be a reason to harden people’s hearts against Islam. You must remember that in the end, Islam is about mercy, forbearance, and the unity of mankind.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)

Dec 19, 2012

Poem: The Teacher

by Nuski Hazeem


Have you ever watched
The creatures around you
Who taught them-
The miracles they do?

Those buzzing bees
That build beautiful hives
Who taught them
The architecture to build?

Those migrating birds
Flying thousands of miles
Who taught them
Their route to return home?

Those tiny spiders
That weave the webs
Who taught them
The art of weaving it?

Those crawling ants
That save for winter
Who taught them
The predicting talents of seasons?

Those muscular mammals
That hibernate for months
Who taught them
The arrival of spring?

Those nocturnal birds
That feed at night
Who taught them
The path to their prey?

They are just creatures
With only five senses
Respecting their Teacher
For teaching how to live

But He has given us
An extra sense
To analyze between
The right and wrong

He has taught us
The art of living
But we go astray
To please ourselves

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Dec 17, 2012

Some Moms

by Hend Hegazi


Some moms get anxious about sending their kids to school. “Will he fit in? Will he have fun? Will he be okay without me?”

Some moms think, “He’s going to have a blast!” And drive home and throw a party for themselves.

Some moms jump at the first sign of a fight. “That’s not nice; you shouldn’t hit. How would you like it if someone hit you?”
Some moms wait ‘til each side has a chance to get in a few punches or kicks.

Some moms chase their kids around with food. “Come here! You have to finish your vegetables. Don’t you want to grow up to be big and strong?!”
Some moms feel relieved when their kids say, day after day, “I’m not hungry.”

Some moms sit beside their kids while they solve their homework. “This one is incorrect; do it again. You misspelled this word. Don’t make a mess out of the worksheet.”
Some moms offer to help their kids with their homework, but do not push too hard even when they hear the lie, “No, thanks. I know it all.”

Some moms punish their kids when they misbehave. “Go to your room and when I come in there in a few minutes, I expect you to tell me why what you did was wrong.”
Some moms spank. Or rather, they chase after a little speedy Gonzalez, hoping to get a good whack at his bottom, knowing he will disappear under the bed before they get their chance.

Some moms have soft voices. “I asked you to clean your room. Please go do that now.”
Some moms only know how to yell. “How many times did I tell you to clean your room?!! Get in there and do that right now!!”

Some moms know how to deal with embarrassing and difficult questions. “Do you remember that woman we saw...the one who looked like she had a basketball under her shirt? Well, that was a baby in her belly. And when it’s time, the doctor will take the baby out.”
Some moms take honesty to a whole new level. “Well, first you have to learn about sex. Sex is when a man and a woman…”
And some moms believe it’s better to just let their kids learn this stuff somewhere else. “You’re too young to know where babies come from. I’ll explain it when you’re older. Now go to your room!”

Some moms wake up in the middle of the night to check on their kids.
Some moms answer, “I knew you’d get cold; that’s why last night I told you to put on warmer pajamas. That’s what you get for not listening to me.”

Some moms never give in to their kids’ whining. “You can keep asking for it all you want, but I think you should just save your breath because you’re not getting it.”
Some moms never give their kids a chance to whine. “A toy? Sure. Ten pieces of candy? Why not? A whole bottle of juice before bedtime? Might as well go change the sheets now.”

Some moms comfort their kids when they get hurt. “Oh, sweetie. Let me see. A kiss and a bandage and you’ll be as good as new.”
Some moms can’t control their own nerves when their kids get hurt. “I told you if you jumped on the bed you’d fall off!! Let me see; the bruising is pretty bad. We have to go to the emergency room.”

Some moms can manage two or three kids at a time without any of them ever crossing the line.
Some moms dread taking their one precious kid to the grocery store, knowing he will wreak havoc in the fruit section, the canned goods aisle, the cereal section, frozen foods…

Some moms define themselves as just that.
Some moms cannot find themselves because of that. 

Some moms go temporarily insane.
Some moms go insane. Period.

The one common factor in all moms (well, besides the insanity), the one thing that we all agree on—no matter what—is how much we love our kids. We show it differently, and we all have our own ideas about the best way to raise them. But no one can deny that they are our priority. No one can deny that day after day, we do our best for them. And we hope that our love will continue to guide them, until one day—just as they have been making us proud since their first laugh—they will find themselves proud of the mothers who raised them.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Dec 16, 2012

Story: A Midnight Prayer Chapter 14

by Alawiya Abdalla

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter



Looks like Mohamed won't say anything for a while, so might as well go and make myself a sandwich.

I am surprisingly OK with this! Why am I OK with this??

I've been carrying this secret with me for as long as I remember, and it ate me up for years now. I have finally set it free, and I do not feel suffocated anymore.

The minutes tick away slowly as Mohamed stands there dumbfounded.

Okaay, I think someone needs to say something right about...now.


I can actually hear birds and traffic in my head as I await Mohamed's response to my declaration.

I can also hear the sound of celebrations coming from Asha's house.


I have never thought about how this could affect her, not once! I was so consumed with my panic attack, that I COMPLETELY forgot about how Asha must be feeling right now!

I was supposed to be over at their house an hour ago, and instead of at least showing up__I am in my flat.

She will never forgive me for this. No lady will ever forgive a man who stands her up.

"Mohamed, I know you are still in shock from the revelation but I really need to show up for Asha." I stand up to make a move.

"But__" Mohamed struggles to find his words, but I know what he is thinking.

"I just want to show up that's all. I haven't thought about how it would make Asha look bad by me not showing up." I try to put his mind at ease about the situation.

"I suppose," he murmurs, avoiding my gaze.

Let the slaughter begin.

The looks.

The "I can't even look at you".

The "Do not even think about coming near me, let alone speak to me".

Let it all begin, I am ready.

But I have to fix the mess I got Asha in first, and then I will be out of her life for good In Shaa Allah.

If her brother's reaction is any indication of how Asha will react, then I know for sure that getting out of her life is the best option.

I'll just have to.

Plus, I am praying to Allah that Asha will still accept me regardless.

As soon as this is over, I will go back to praying at night like I used to.

I will go back to my midnight prayers In Shaa Allah. I just can't stop trying. I have finally found someone who is crazy and funny enough to be my wife, and I won't stop trying until she says yes.

I have to try.

In Shaa Allah.


I was so engrossed in my prayer, that no sound or noise coming from the living managed to distract me from my prayer.

"O Allah! I seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might) I seek strength, and I ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and I do not have the power.

You Know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge that marrying Hamid (which I intend to do) is better for my religion and faith, for my life and end (death), for here [in this world] and the hereafter then make it destined for me and make it easy for me and then add blessings in it, for me.

O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for me, bad for my religion and faith, for my life and end (death), for here (in this world) and the hereafter then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and whatever is better for me, ordain (destine) that for me and then make me satisfied with it."

I must have repeated this Duaa six or seven times, before I was finally calm and my soul satisfied.

Tears of relief threaten to flood my face, and I try my hardest to hold them back but they come anyway.

All of a sudden I hear the sound of ululations coming from the living room, and I wipe my tears with my hands.

Is he here? I open my door to catch a glimpse of what is happening, and I see him.

He looks so nervous, surrounded by my entire family. I almost feel sorry for him, but then I remember that he is an HOUR late.

Do you know what? I'm just going to stay in my room and HE has to wait an hour now.

Yes, I am childish like that, thank you very much.

Subhan Allah though, I feel happy that he turned up. Not because I was afraid of how I might look in front of my family and friends, but I am actually__happy

I cannot explain it except, do you know that feeling you get when the weather finishes snowing and then calmness bestows?

The "I can hardly hear anything except the sound of my breathing".

That calmness is what I'm feeling right now. Every sound is drowned out. I can only feel calm.

I mean I am still mad, but I am also happy! I cannot explain it!

A knock on the door brings me back to reality.

"Asha come out, Hamid is here," comes the voice of Khadija, as she enters my room before I allow her to.

Honestly, Khadija is becoming a typical married lady. I think I'm going to cry!

"Yes, do come in please. Oh wait, you're already in," I reply sarcastically.

"What are you wearing, and have you been crying?" She asks while she takes my chin to examine my eyes.

Typical married lady behavior!

"I am fine," I reply taking her hand off my chin, gently may I add. "I just wanted to pray, that's all"

"Well, let's fix your make up then,"she says, getting up to look for my make up bag.

"Khadija, I want to look like this," I say quietly.

"You want to go out there, in front of the guests. Without make up?" Khadija asks gobsmacked.

"Yes?" I answer timidly.

"WHY?" She asks in a loud voice.

"Shush please, I don't want mum to come in," I warn her.

"ASHA WHY ARE YOU NOT OUT YET, AND HAVE YOU BEEN CRYING??" Mum asks as she bursts in my room.

Yeah, I should have DEFINITELY locked my room. Most definitely.

"She was praying," answers Khadija.

"Okay, now let's fix her face. Hamid is here," mum pretty much orders Khadija.

"Mum, I want to go looking naturally please. I want him to see me natural, possibly wearing this Abaya too." I say it with a chocked voice.

"No way!! You must look your best!! Khadija tell this person, she needs to look her best," mum pretty much challenges Khadija, whether she is willing to take her side or my side.

"The ceilings in your house MAA SHAA ALLAH! What Mohamed? Hold on, I can't hear you," Khadija talks to her invisible husband, and she walks out of the room.


"Mum please, I was having major doubts so please let me do what I feel best for me," I say it almost pleadingly, because I know my mum means well. "Please".

"Oh okay then, do what you want. Let's just go out and meet the guests again," my mum gives up as she realizes I won't let this whole make up thing go.

So I go out to meet Hamid with my Hijab on, and his face lights up.

Everyone celebrates around us, and we eat. We also learn that Jawahir has to be admitted overnight, because they need to run some tests to determine what is going on.

Then everyone leaves, except my family of course.

"Asha, can I talk to you privately?" Asks Hamid, looking at Ahmed for reassurance.

"Children, let's go to the dinning room," my mum orders Mohamed, Ahmed and Khadija out of the room.

Ahmed follows reluctantly, and Mohamed gives Hamid a weird look! Like he knows what Hamid is about to tell me!

"Asha, I never intended for this to come out now. It is completely unacceptable that I've let it go this far before I told you everything about me." Hamid starts this very uncomfortable conversation!!

What is he about to tell me???

He has a wife back home?

He is in love with someone else?

What is it?

When he tells me, words fail me.

Is he absolutely SURE he hasn't got a wife back home instead?

I am gobsmacked, and speechless.

I am heartbroken.


I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Dec 14, 2012

A Family Holiday Story: Practical Family Advice for the Holiday Season

by Anum Ali


Do you remember Chris Columbus’s classic holiday movie Home Alone in which the McAllister family forgets eight year old mischievous Kevin at home in their holiday rush to get to the airport? Slightly exaggerated, but a strong representation of the exhausting lifestyles of a large majority of people who live in work-oriented cultures like those of Europe and America. Countering that is the happy-go-lucky Weasley family from the Harry Potter movies who incorporate the concept of family into everything, from their dinner table to their back-to-school shopping sprees, and of course into their holidays. As the year comes to a close, the holiday season begins. Let us review some practical advice from a wannabe family specialist, a.k.a. the Abbie that is me, from my sweet and sour experiences. There is nothing better than happy, peaceful, productive, Sunnah-style family time during the holiday season.

Islam and the Concept of Family

Bonds of kin, that is family, are held in high regard in Islam. A family unit is considered to be the building block of an Islamic community. Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam was a tradesman who traveled with caravans all day in the sultry desert heat. He was also Allah's subhaanahu wa ta’ala Messenger who preached to believers day and night. Yet, he managed his family life so beautifully that we have the sunnah (his lifestyle) as an example before us. He had allotted days to his wives so that none of them were neglected, and he was good-humored, playful, and kind to his children. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala exalted the ahlul-bayt (members of his household) and from this we understand the beautiful concept of family.

Make Time! Rummage the Bank!

Rushed lifestyles, work overload, lengthy commutes to work and school, chores, and the exhausting grind of life have successfully managed to crush the concept of family for many of us. In work-oriented cultures, family time is a rare treat. Always plan ahead. Contemporary times have given us smartphones which keep track of our lives for us nowadays. Set reminders so you know you have holidays coming up and you need to get your family act together. It is advisable that you check up on your finances to see how much you can spend on the holidays. You can choose to travel, or stay back to enjoy being at home with your family. Apply for extra leave from work if your plans are longer.

Planning Family Time

There is the immediate family, i.e. parents and children and then the distant family. The true holiday spirit and the teachings of Islam prescribe that you should be thinking on both levels. Family bonds can best be reestablished during the holiday season when people have free time, especially those people who run about due to their school-going children. It is ideal to plan trips, family feasts, reunions, sleepovers, shopping sprees, cook-outs, and whatever creative quality times you can conjure up.

Giving Gifts

People tend to be great misers when it comes to giving gifts. They try delaying occasions, waiting for the right moment, to give gifts. They should think again, because the only thing that they are delaying is charity.

Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam, in a hadith narrated by Abu Mas’ud Al-Ansari, said that: “When a Muslim spends something on his family intending to receive Allah’s reward it is regarded as Sadaqa for him.” (Hadith 263, Volume 7, Book 64, Sahih Bukhari). So, whether it is a trip you are planning, a feast you are organizing, or gifts you are buying, you are actually doing an act of charity in Allah’s cause.

Avoiding the Sour Side

When families get together, especially “desi” or brown families i.e. those of Indian and Pakistani origins, they are bound to trigger World War III. This is because Shaytaan walks in from the same door that the family walks in from. As family talks heat up, gossip and rumors begin to boil up, family politics begin to fizz, and before you know it, there is a super massive volcano of resentment erupting in your living room! Save the sofas!

A productive gathering on holidays is something that engages family in activities that solidify the meaning of kinship. You can always attempt to neutralize conversations, change the topic, or introduce ice cream to seize the fitnah there and then. Also, try and keep non-Muslim elements away from your parties. For instance, if it is Christmas, it does not mean you have to set up a Christmas tree. Keeping the family holiday innovation-free is a responsibility.

Handling the Family Villains

There is always a villainous side in everybody’s family. The side where people are sour, cold, and very difficult to deal with. They should not be abandoned entirely, but everyone needs to understand how to deal with one another. My distant family does not entirely comprise of practising Muslims. My mother, sister, and I became accustomed to being ridiculed for our hijabs and my brother for his beard, at the family reunions. Also, the food is not always entirely Halal when you go right down to the meat and cheese and bits.

“You would scare the daylights out of people!” said an uncle to my mother, discussing her hijab. “Do you wear that permanently?” asked an uncle, pointing at my hijab. “Of course not!” added another uncle, “She does take it off in the shower! It’s not stitched to her head.”

“Oh! So he doesn’t sit with female cousins anymore, does he?” called out an aunt as my brother made a sober exit to sit with the boys. “What are these? At least don’t move to these extremes!” commented another aunt, pulling at my sleeve extensions that covered my wrists.

Funny as the comments may sound, they were not intended to be jokes, but sarcastic insults. An uncle is fond of yelling out “Molvi!” at my brother every once in a while. The word means an Imam in Urdu, but his manner of addressing is derogatory, not funny, and invites mockery.

Heartbroken, angry, and confused, I remember writing to Sheikh Navaid Aziz about this matter who strictly advised that unless such members of the family develop a mature attitude, they should be avoided. He also advised that alternative means of communication such as email greetings and phone calls should be maintained meanwhile and occasionally when one does visit they should respond with silence and exercise sabr (patience).

Happy Holidays!

Family is the only unconditional love you are going to get, so make the most of it whenever you get time. Thanksgiving and Christmas are not Muslim festivals; however, they do bring in long weekends and additional holidays. Christmas, in particular, combines with the New Year’s holiday to make a grand winter celebration. The off days are an ideal opportunity when you can give undivided attention to your family, relax, and cherish the blessings of togetherness you have been gifted. If you are creative, family-oriented, and you know the Sunnah, you would know how to plan a great family holiday. Now it is your turn. Write your own adventurous story.

Happy Holidays.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! 


Supporting the family. (n.d.). Sultan.org. Retrieved from http://www.sultan.org/books/bukhari/064.htm

Dec 12, 2012

Heartwarming Soup: Benefits and Recipe

By Ruby S.


Boots, coats, beanies, and scarves. What do they have in common? They are winter-wear! Winter has come all too soon, and this calls for some heart-warming, comforting soul food. When I say soul food, I mean that type of food that just touches your heart, and gives you a sense of contentment not found elsewhere.

Yes, I believe food has this magical quality that allows you to experience such comfort. In particular, soup has this ability; it is warming, filling, and soothing, especially on those chilly, cloudy days or freezing, below-zero temperature nights.

Soup can be eaten for lunch, dinner, or even in between. It has more benefits than one normally thinks of when eating soup. Sure, they tend to fill you up so you eat less, helping to cut back on calories.

But, soups generally have less fat, especially saturated fat. Stock-based soups, like the one I will provide the recipe for, have far less fat than a cream-based soup (those that use heavy cream or milk, for example).

Soups are digested easily, since all ingredients are softened and the flavors blend well together. As a bonus, you can add as many vegetables as you want, which is great for kids! You can easily sneak in those veggies and cook them in a broth to disguise them.

No matter what you want to include in your soup, remember that vegetables, legumes (garbanzo, kidney beans, etc.), stocks, and spices all add nutritional value that would otherwise be left out in other types of dishes. So now that the weather is cooling down, get out your pots to make some hearty, nutritional, well-seasoned soup!

Simple Vegetable Soup

Makes enough for 2-4 people


2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
½ cup green peas, frozen or fresh
½ cup chopped carrots, frozen or fresh
1 cup diced zucchini, frozen or fresh
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

How to Make:

1) In a soup or stockpot, bring the stock and water to a boil on medium high heat.
2) Add the fresh chopped tomatoes and boil until soft, about 15 minutes.
3) Add the rest of the vegetables and spices, simmering at low heat for 30 minutes.
4) If you feel that the liquid has evaporated, feel free to add more water or stock. If you prefer a thicker soup, leave as is.
5) Once all the ingredients have become soft (your preference), heat up some garlic bread to enjoy with your bowl of soup!

Do not be surprised that this recipe is so simple to make! You have free choice to use any vegetables you want, whether fresh or frozen. Other substitutes include: lima beans, green beans, corn and so on…I hope you enjoy this recipe! Feel fee to review, request other recipes, or ask questions!

You may refer to 'Heath Benefits of Soup' article from HubPages to read further on the benefits of soup.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! 

Dec 10, 2012

Short story: Letting Go Part 3

By Nur


“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” Amina hears as she walks closer to the Masjid. “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” the athan begins to be called; the charming voice of the Muadhin is soothing and peaceful. As the athan is being pronounced Layla begins to repeat after the Muadhin, as she, Amina and Tariq go closer and closer to the Masjid. A white piece of paper labeled Sisters Entrance is plastered on the front door. As the athan concludes, Tariq walks towards the brother’s entrance.

“Layla, I will meet you out here after Maghrib,” he says, trying hard to disregard Amina.

Layla nods her head. As Layla and Amina make their way inside, a group of sisters memorizing the Quran have just concluded their weekly class. Layla says salam to them, and Amina stares at them.

“Amina! We haven’t seen you for so long, how have you been?” says Maryam, one of Amina’s old Quran teachers.

Amina shrugs, “I have just been busy.”

Maryam nods her head, and from behind her Sarah returns from making wudo’, drops of water dripping from her hand.

Sarah look towards Amina, and walk towards her. She places her hand on Amina’s shoulder and smiles.

“Can we talk?” Sarah asks. Amina agrees and follows Sarah to the shoe area. Amina’s heart skips a beat, thinking about all the possible statements Sarah could say to her.

“I, I haven’t spoken to you in so long,” Sarah says.

“Yeah, I know. I miss you.” Amina admits.

“Me too, I am sorry for ditching you like that, I should have just been patient, I know its just a phase.”

“Yeah, and I think I’m over it. I should have never given up my deen like that, it was totally wrong. I just hope Allah, forgives me.”

“Oh, Amina! Of course He will, He loves it when someone repents, you know that.”

Amina reaches over to hug Sarah, they embrace happily and tears of joy twinkle down Amina’s eyes.

“Oh, I almost forgot, I need to give you something,” Sarah says with excitement, she pulls out an elegant card with floral designs on itand hands it over to Amina. “This is going to be a big shock to you, but I’m engaged,” Sarah says with thrill going down her spine.

“What! To who? Congratulations!” Amina says with a look of thrill.

“My fiancĂ© has all the beautiful qualities I’ve ever asked for from Allah (Subhanahuwata’ala). I made the firm intention to stay away from an unlawful relationship with any person. And you know how when you leave something for the sake of Allah, He’ll replace it with something better? Well He did!”

Amina begins to have nostalgia of all those boys at school that tried to tempt Sarah. With their stares, and school-related questions just to be able to speak with her. But, she held firm, she did not allow herself to be subject to their plans. She would just ignore them; distance herself away from them and kept tawakul in Allah (SubahanuWa Ta’ala). Amina begins to remember the days she wished she could be like Sarah, righteous and God fearing. But Amina, along with her jilbab and dignity let it go for someone who at the end of the day doesn’t even matter any longer.

As Amina opens her mouth to say something, the Iqamah begins to be called.

“We’ll talk later,” Sarah says, grabbing Amina’s hand towards the congregation.

As Amina stands while the Iqamah is being pronounced, she feels peace inside her heart, a feeling she had not been feeling for a long time. The spiritual void has begun to let go of her body, and once again she feels the urge to return to her Lord. Layla joins the line and stands next to Amina.

As the Imam, begins to lead the prayer, Amina feels serenity to hear the sweet recitation of the book of guidance, she had once long ago, been memorizing. Her tears begin to pour out of her hazel eyes like a water fall, she holds her shirt near her nose, and takes a deep breath. When she goes into sujood, she begins to make duah in Arabic, “Oh Allah guide me, forgive me and bless me.” As she feels sincere and utmost concentration, the prayer ends. She takes a breath, and Layla pulls out a tissue and gives it to Amina.

After praying sunnah, Amina takes out her cell phone and phones her mother to pick her up from the Masjid,

“Salam Mom, Yes I am at the Masjid don’t worry, sorry I forgot to tell you…. Oh you don’t have the car? OK I’ll try to catch a ride, Ok Salam.” Amina puts the phone in her phone and looks up to see Layla and Sarah talking.

“Do you need a ride hun?” Layla asks.

“Umm yeah, if I could get one that would be nice, but I understand…”

“Don’t worry about it, my mom’s here to pick us up, we can take you too,” Layla says.

“Or you can come with me, Amina, I am car pooling with Maryam, she probably won't mind,” Sarah says.

“That’s sounds perfect,” Amina nods.

Amina embraces Layla, and thanks her for her kind hospitality. Sarah also meets Layla and tells her she’ll see her this weekend.

As Layla exits the Masjid, she waves back at Amina and Sarah, while they stand at the Masjid doors. Tariq walks towards the car from the brother’s side, and looks slightly towards Amina’s direction from afar, he looks swayed and instantly turns his head, and gets into the van, as they drive away.

“So, you still didn’t tell me who you’re getting married to. What’s his name?” Amina asks with curiosity.

Sarah looks towards Amina, and gulps,

“You know Tariq.”

Amina’s heart stops a beat, her face starts to turn warm, but then she reminds herself, that whatever Allah decrees is for an infinite and definite wisdom and purpose. If the relationship did not begin on a halal note, how could it end in such a note?

“Yeah,” Amina says nodding

“One of his Quran tutors, Ahmed.” Sarah says smiling.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my story.  Please post in the comments section below:)