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Jan 30, 2013

Connectivity

By M

Bismillah

People.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, they can come into your life and deepen your love for humanity.

It is a surprising thing the way fate maneuvers the most unexpected of circumstances and those from different backgrounds, forcing interaction between each other out of necessity; unbeknownst to the participants of the intertwining destiny that awaits them.

What does race really matter but to add spice of life, the appeal of existence, the huge diversity to personal experience. Differences in culture too, makes for fascinating encounters, widens learning and exposure to the intricacies of life.

On a recent course that was compulsory, I found myself in a new town, relatively far enough from home to consider it a challenge. So did every other person travelling from different parts of the country. And the most fascinating thing was the huge range of economic backgrounds, race, and religion. Yet we all faced the same challenges of being away from family and friends, in new surroundings. This though was a great equalizer. Its amazing what occurs when one is removed from ones daily routine, safety blanket of familiarity and helpful networks of people, to find and forage, plan and work.

It seems to bring together the most unlikely friendships, all united by the humbling experience of fending for oneself. The age range was vast which added an even more interesting dynamic to the situation. That too was a humbling factor- ordinarily life experience and achievements that come with sometime within certain age parameters are irrelevant when removed from the environment in which it is celebrated, and replaced in new unchartered territory.

What really struck me was what materialized after the course was done and every individual moved on their separate ways.

Friendship and deep affection.

Actual. True. Real.

It reminded me of friendships at school. You know, the time when its all about your friends. The connection, the laughs, and most importantly kindness, kind words, encouragement and unity.

The world is so full of competitiveness, resentment, jealousy, and deception. The work place is excellent at generating this, especially when its driven by the motivation of more money and power. Not that there is not good in it. There is. A lot.

But the greedy hunger for status advancement is not bred in situations where people need to work together and help and assist one another. This breeds a feeling that lingers, lingers for a very long time after, that sticks with a person, reminding them of the true human connection that we miss, and overlook so much in the rat race of life.

Heres to friendship. True and enjoyable.

May the Creator bestow it on our parents, our loved ones, our own selves. As a pleasure and a reminder of our human-ness, and one of the true pleasures of life. A human connection


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

Jan 28, 2013

Salah: All I need is a Q-TIP

By Sabina Giado


Bismillah


Some time ago, I read this article by Shaikh Abu Easa Niamatullah. To summarize the main thrust of his argument: Though the numbers of Muslims may well be increasing 235% a year, that is probably because we have more children than non-Muslims and it only takes into account the last 50 years, starting on an uneven footing anyway.

Moreover, so what if we are the fastest growing religion in the world? Just because there are more Muslims, does not mean that they are all good Muslims. In fact, the opposite is quite likely.

If the five pillars of Islam, specifically Salah (the five daily prayers) are considered to be the absolute minimum a Muslim has to do to be practising, then well, according to Shaikh Niamatullah, there are probably very few of those around. “With more people seen to be praying, there are many times over more Muslims not praying. As those who are practicing their religion properly increases, the numbers of Muslims not practicing properly dwarfs it.”

The only question ringing in my head after reading this article is, “Why aren’t Muslims praying? More specifically, why do I find hard to maintain my daily prayers?”

I started to pray regularly when I was 11 years old, around the same time I started wearing hijaab. I missed prayers often, for parties, exams, studying, even TV shows, making it up in Khalah. I became stricter with Salah as I got older. This was mostly because of fear of Allah , but not really love of Him. Hadith said that if I missed my Asr prayer, all my good deeds would be wiped out. Others that played frequently on my conscience was that a believer’s faith could be judged by the frequency of their Isha and Fajr prayer.

But let me get to love later.

Sheikh Niamutallah’s article got me thinking about what it was about the practice of Salah that provided challenges for me and my brothers and sisters.

The basic elements you need to comfortably pray are a quiet place free from distractions, adequate time to perform ablutions and your prayer and of course, a clear heart and mind. I tried to come up with a catchy acronym but the best I could do was another acronym – Q-TIP. Quietude, Time and Inner Peace.

Quietude
I live in the UAE and by the Grace of God, there are prayer rooms in almost every building.

In Dubai Mall, there is a prayer room every hundred paces. Emaar Properties takes their prayer facilities quite seriously.

A friend of mine who had grown up in London once called prayer rooms in shopping malls “beautiful”. I admit I used to think it bizarre to suddenly come upon beautiful places of worship in a temple of consumerism. But still, they are blessings.

In my office building, the ladies’ prayer room is basically a converted janitor’s closet, but still, it qualifies as a quiet place free from distractions and I am grateful for it.

Even though sometimes there is a rather frazzled gentleman that uses it. I do not mind – I think we are the only two people in the whole building using the prayer room and I cannot think where the men’s prayer room must be and what it must be like.

What do people do in places where no such prayer rooms exist? Pray in car-parks? Changing rooms? I have heard it helps to have someone to keep watch and field any questions from onlookers so you can do your Salah without people freaking out. There have been some funny stories.

Ablution has traditionally presented some problems, even here in Dubai, where sometimes I have not had the luxury of Wudhu facilities. Try explaining to someone why you have your foot in the sink. The result? More funny stories.

Time
Many of us have grueling work/study schedules. Work is not structured around sacral timings. In fact, I sometimes wonder if it is even structured around human timings. When I was studying global politics in university, a feminist lecturer suggested that the world of work, politics and power was built in man’s image. Therefore it is rigid, structured and exacting and does not allow for the unstructured gendered feminine chaos of family life and child-rearing.

The company I work for is thankfully far more flexible and VERY family-friendly, Mashallah. None of my female co-workers have lost their jobs because they have gotten pregnant. My co-worker once even brought her daughter into work because she did not have school that day.

Unfortunately, from what I have observed, they are the exception and not the rule.

Inner peace
For me, since living in an Islamic country takes care of the first two, this third requirement is my personal Jihad.

As I said before, I used to have serious anxiety issues. I focused on the future to the point that it made me physically ill. I could not find peace anywhere, not even in my prayers.

But even then, by the Grace of Allah, I somehow reached moments of great clarity. And in those moments of clarity, I felt humbled and powerful at the same time. Like I was connected to a power far larger than me. I felt like I did not care who was looking. Like I would welcome their questions. Because He was on my side.

In the moments of confusion though, I was really confused. My mind would run up and down and sideways on work, men, family, clothes, jokes. I would come to the prayer room looking for answers and would leave feeling more confused than ever.

I began looking for ways to focus my concentration and let go of some of my anxiety. So far, a few things have worked, the most powerful of which is meditation. All these years, I had not even been breathing. No wonder my brain scrambles around like a hamster on crack.

There is still however the tricky problem of motivation. Why am I praying? Why “should” I pray?

Do not get me wrong. Fear works.

There is any number of sayings of the Prophet Muhammed salallahu aleyhi wasallam telling you about the dire effects of missing your prayer. Imams (people leading the congregation in prayer) expound on these from the pulpit all the time.

However, not many of them talk about the flip side.

How many of us are looking for love? How many of us want the love of someone kind, true, loyal, patient and giving?

Allah is Al Latheef (Kind, Gentle).
Allah is As Sadiq (The Keeper of His Word)
Allah is As Sabur (The Patient)
Allah is Al Mujeeb (The Responder).
(And this is one of my favorites) Allah is Al Mumin (The Giver of tranquility)

Who in the universe could love us more than our Creator?

If you ask of Allah, He will surely answer. The sacred texts (Hadith and the Qur’an) say it over and over again. I cannot say it any better than this article, so I will not even try.

Questions
Truth be told, I have more questions than answers. I do know I want to try something out. I want to pray in strange places. Mountains, villages, truck stops, shopping malls (not in the prayer room), hospitals, anywhere a modern-day Muslim might find themselves. I want to see what the difficulties are and what tools we need as a community to make it less difficult.

As someone who meditates (arguably a Buddhist practice), I am really interested to see what the intersections and divergences in diverse spiritual practices are too. In short, I would like to make a documentary.

If you pray regularly or if you do not, I would really like to know why. I would greatly appreciate it if you would drop me a comment below.

And that goes for Muslims and for non-Muslims!

I am really not the Huffington Post (yet), but if you do not want the whole world reading your response, please do respond here on my About page.

And tell me all your funny awkward praying-in-not-so-private stories!!

May Allah respond to your deepest desires in the way that is best for you in this world and the next Ameen! I love you guys.

Update: Salams! Alhamdulillah just came across this incredible video by Br. Nouman Ali Khan as to how Shaitan tricks us into not praying.


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

Jan 27, 2013

Story: A Midnight Prayer Final Chapter


Previous Chapter


Bismillah


Asha
I actually feel so pathetic that I am feeling sorry for myself, when there are people who would wish to be in my position right now.
You see people who have nothing uttering the word "Alhamdulilah" while I sit here feeling like my world has crashed around me.
I feel so ashamed, so I have decided to stop this nonsense, re-energize and be active.
I cannot sit on my bed every night, crying myself to sleep now can I? No. I have to focus on the blessings Allah has given me instead, and they are so many Ma Sha Allah.
I am done sulking and over-thinking about the whole issue. The only way is forward In Sha Allah.




There is still times when the dull ache hits me out of nowhere, and I try really hard not to dwell on it but I just cannot shake it off easily in those days.
I keep reliving the conversation over and over again, and I do not know how to deal with this heartache.
I cling onto Allah's words hoping and praying that the time comes when my heart fully recovers
"Mankind there has come to you a guidance from your Lord and a healing for (the diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe a guidance and a mercy" (Yunus, 10:57)
No one really tells you how the journey to contentment can be so vast, long and tough. No one tells you that you need to take it one step at a time.
I will let this be a lesson for me to never rush things again. I know somewhere down the road someone's waiting for me, and it's OK to feel hopeful.
When or how is all in the hands of Allah. I will let Allah lead me to my future, and I will never ever forget to thank him when He gives me happiness.
But first I must finish this tub of chocolate ice-cream, topped with melted chocolate syrup. I said I am on the road to recovery, I am not superwoman!
Plus, ice-cream is a girl's best friend in times of heart ache. It is proven scientifically you know. Just saying.
A knock on the door startles me as I was eating my ice-cream! Also, who knocks in The Abdalla Family house??
"Who is it?" I ask.
"It's me Ahmed. Can I come in please?" Asks my big brother.
"Come in" I reply anxiously. Me and Ahmed's relationship has been awkward lately, after I accused him of wrecking my life and everything.
I did not mean anything by it, I was just being delusional and I wanted to lash out on someone__Anyone.
Ahmed takes things way too seriously, and I guess when I suggested that he kind of ruined my life he became crushed.
"Can I talk to you?" Ahmed asks nervously.
"Of course you can" I answer him with a smile to ease the tension.
"Asha, I cannot begin to explain how sorry I am for putting you in this mess. I should have known better than that, and I am truly sorry" Ahmed starts with a somber tone to his voice.
"Ahmed I am serious, I don't blame you for anything. Please stop stressing, I am actually quite alright I promise" I reply with a broader smile, just to emphasize my amazing well being.
"I have asked a Sheikh in several Masjids, and they all told me that any child that you may bear with Hamid will be legitimate In Sha Allah" He throws this information at me like I care about that.
I do not care about that information anymore to be quite honest, I so do not.
Our children will be legitimate? I mean, why should I care? I do not care AT ALL. Children? Whose children? See?
Do not care.
"Asha, did you hear me?" Ahmed waves his hand infront of my face. For the record, I HATE it when people do that.
Can people not randomly day dream in peace, without being rudely interrupted from their solitude?
"Yes I heard you Ahmed, but that subject is over for me" The subject is truly and utterly over for me you know.
Our kids will be legitimate? Really? I mean like I said__Well and truly and completely over mate.
"I do not want to push you like I did last time sis, but me and mum are going to Yemen and if you want to join us that would be amazing" He says it, looking at my face for any signs of Yes or No.
When I say nothing, he offers snippets of information about the date and the time that they are leaving and then he leaves the room.
Why would he even suggest that I might want to go? Like why?
I know a lot of you think that I am being mean about the whole "illegitimacy" issue, but that is not what is bothering me or hurting me. The fact that Hamid hid this piece of information, THAT IS my issue with Hamid.
The whole lying thing really got to me, and I do not know why. Maybe it is the fact that he did not trust me enough to share that part of his life.
That really hurts, and when I get married I would want my husband to share EVERYTHING with me. Well, not everything because I lived with 3 boys__Yes I know they are men now, but they will always be the annoying boys__My brothers__My rock___My I-cannot-believe-you-just-did-that-can't-you-see-I'm-a-girl-brothers.
So yeah, I do NOT want my future husband to share EVERYTHING with me, just the important issues that is all.
And that is WHY I am so not going to Yemen, not even to find out why he hid that information from me in the first place.
So not going.
The Sheikh said that our children will be legitimate you say?
I mean, I do not care whatsoever.
___Two months later___
Okay, maybe I wanted to find out a little bit. Just a tad. I will literally find out then head straight back to England.
Plus I got a little bit frightened, because Mohamed and Khadija decided to join in! I felt quite lost to be honest with you, I mean where would I stay?
Ibrahim and Jawahir's place? No way man, there is a screaming baby that disrupts my beauty sleep.
Ma Sha Allah baby Maryam has got some lungs on her! The girl can scream for England!
As you can see, the reason was purely for my sake and nothing to do with Hamid. Not at all.
The Sheikh said that the children would be legitimate? I meant, look at those cute children walking down the streets of Sanaa! They sure are cute Ma Sha Allah.
We were greeted by one of our distant uncle from my mother's side at the airport, and he explained to us that the women need to wear the Niqab, because the place where Hamid lives is a village.
We head towards the village in our uncle's car and someone else's car who is a friend of our uncle. The journey lasts almost three hours, and I slept the whole way through.
I open my eyes to a beautiful scene of green fields placed on a series of hills. The scene is wonderful SubhanaAllah, almost breathtaking.
I was admiring the view, when I noticed that we are driving on a very narrow road that takes us up the hill to where our uncle lives.
Is everyone AWARE how scary this road is? Erm, there are no metal bars on either sides of the hill and we are driving ON IT.
I am just sending encouraging thoughts, because let us face it__We do not want to disturb the driver, who SHOULD be concentrating with all his concentration abilities NOT to fall off the hilly road.
I say my Shahada and hope for the best!
For what seemed like an eternity, we finally reach our distant uncle's house (Alhamdulilah)
The house is so simple, yet very elegant! I cannot explain it, except that it is made out of stone and it is really high. From where I am standing, it looks like a block of flats but it is not. It has several floors, and I cannot wait to explore it In Sha Allah.
This trip is already picking up. Do not get me wrong, that near death experience ride was no fun, but I have a feeling that things are about to look up In Sha Allah.
I cannot wait.

Hamid
It has been four months since I left England, and life has been relatively calm. However, the pain of losing Asha forever has not subsided.
The only good thing that keeps me going, is the letter I found from my mum and dad. A neighbor and a friend of my father, held on to the letter who gave it to me as soon as I went to see him.
Nothing could have prepared me for the relief I felt as I read the letter. I just wished that I had read it earlier, and saved myself years of heartache and misery.
I felt elation and happiness for the first two months of my return, but then sadness settled in my heart. I spent the next two months wondering if this information could make Asha accept me, until I remembered how crushed she was when I told her that I was illegitimate.
I do not think this information or anything else could change her mind, I mean she did not say anything when I told her that I was leaving for Yemen.
I think the best thing I could do right now is to stay away, and that is why I got my old job back at the fish monger's place.
I forgot how hard it is to work here, but anything is better than nothing. Memories of Asha and her family haunt me day and night, but I have got to accept that I need to move on.
O Allah, please fix my broken heart. It is really hard to pretend that I am okay when I am not.

Asha
After staying in for a whole week, my family have decided that it is definitely time to go venture out and check the village. I must say, I was relieved. Staying indoors is no fun, you can only go to the roof so many times before you realize that it is NOTHING like being outside you know.
Everyone decided that we DEFINITELY need fish for dinner, so they MUST go this fish monger IMMEDIATELY.
What do they take me for ey? I KNOW that they must know this person who knows Hamid or something, no need for all the winking and dramatic emphasis on the need to get a fish!
Come on, give me some credit people!
We arrive an hour later, after going through the death trap road once again to this market. It is so basic compared to the markets in England, but that just adds to it is charm.
Watching hard working people at the market is truly charming. They way they just smile, even though you can see the struggle in their eyes makes you appreciate what you have got back in England.
We walked for about half an hour before we came to the fish monger's shop. My heart stopped when I spotted Hamid behind all the angry__I mean normal looking fishes!
He WORKS here? Oh no, this is so sudden! I do not want to face him right now, and how dare my family not tell me about this? And traditional Yemeni clothes really suit Hamid, and is that a dagger he is carrying? Why would he carry a dagger? Maybe he will use it as soon as he sees me! But then again, every single man is carrying a dagger so I guess we are safe. Oh dear, I am rambling again!
Why do men wear suits to weddings? They should totally wear their traditional clothes, they really should.
Hamid's eyes widen as he spots my family cramming themselves into the tiny shop.
"SubhanaAllah what a coincidence that we would run into HAMID in YEMEN!" Mohamed is terrible when it comes to lying.
"I know, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES??" Khadija is equally as bad, if not worse.
"So, you work here?" Okay I pick a winner, Ahmed is THE winner.
"Long time no see son, Ma Sha Allah it is very nice to have run into you like this" See people, that's how you do it.
Mama show them.
"What a delightful surprise indeed. Let me go get seats for you all" Before mum or the rest could protest, he dashes off to the back of the shop to get us some seats.
He fusses over us, and by the time we leave the shop we have fish to last us for the next five years! Oh, and Hamid is so invited over for dinner the next day__What a surprise, oh wow never seen that one coming.
I say one sentence as we make our ride home, and I say nothing else throughout the whole way back.
"All of you terrible people do not speak to me, except you mum because paradise lies under your feet" And I turn my head away from all of them, except my mama because I really DO want to go to heaven so I smile at her from time to time.
I hate the fact that I am feeling happy, and as much as I try not to smile__An annoying side grin keeps making it's way to my lips.
Maybe it's because my window is open, let me shut it to see if it cures my side grin sickness.
Nope, still there.

____The next day____
The smell of fish fills the whole house, and I am getting excited already.
I am getting excited because I want to eat the fish, not because Hamid is coming today__Oh no, that is so not the reason.
Who is coming? See? I do not know who is coming, do you? Thought so too.
I was really lost in my thoughts when a familiar voice brought me down to earth__Or should I say voices?
"PHOOONEEEEEE" Amira and Halima (Khadija's twins) make a run for my mobile phone.
"Oh no you won't! Not this time, this is an IPHONE" I make a run for my mobile.
It is an intense moment when time stops. It feels like a matrix slow motion moment when all three of us reach for the mobile phone.
Who will get it, that is the question.
OH MAN, THEY GOT MY PHONE!!
"Give me back my mobile you little monsters" Seriously I love them, except when they steal my mobile.
I run after them to save my phone. Not this time, oh no. I lost far too many mobile phone to these monsters.
Alhamdulilah I had my Hijab on, because Hamid just witnessed this not so maternal side of me. I did not even know he arrived! He is chatting to my brother Ahmed and mum, and instantly see that as my cue to make my escape.
I quickly slip back into my room minus my mobile! Oh man! Great, there goes another mobile!
When I regain my composure, I make my way to the kitchen. I have to at least PRETEND that I know how to cook! One must pretend does one not?
I help the ladies to bring the food upstairs where the men will be having their lunch, and then we head back to the ladies section.
The food looks so delicious, but I cannot manage to bring myself to eat that much. I just keep thinking about how I will ask Hamid about why he lied to me.
I need to find out once and for all. Whatever happens, I just want to know.

Hamid
I cannot believe the sudden turn of events! My love for this family grows each day, and I really want to join them now. Surely, after they find out about the new information they would forgive me In Sha Allah.
To be honest I am not really worried about Asha's mum or Ahmed. They obviously wanted to run into me, AND they invited me over for lunch. That means they want me to ask for their daughter's hand in marriage, right?
RIGHT? What if they came here JUST for a visit, and they really DID run into me by accident?
There is only one way to find out In Sha Allah. I will open the subject with Ahmed and see what he says. This way I can close this chapter once and for all, or it could a new beginning.
After the lovely meal, I am finally able to open the subject with Ahmed.
We talk for ages, and I show him the letter from my father and mother. He says that the reason they visited was to find me, and get me back together with Asha whether I showed him the letter or not! I feel so overwhelmed, and my love and yearn to join this beautiful family grows each second I spend with them.
Only one person to convince, and all my dreams will come true In Sha Allah.

Asha
My brother comes to me and asks if I want to speak to Hamid, and I hesitantly agree. Do I really want to go through with this heartache again? It took me such a long time to begin to feel normal, am I ready to put myself through that again?
I decide that knowing the answers to my questions is far better than not knowing. It could be a closure, or the beginning of something wonderful.
I go to talk to Hamid, and I am pretty sure that my whole family will be glued eavesdropping on us!
After a very long awkward silence, I ask the question that has been bothering me ever since he told me about his illegitimacy.
"Why did you lie to me?" I ask.
"I know you don't believe me and you might never believe me, but I never meant to actually lie to you Asha" He replies calmly.
"What if you lied to me again? I hope you understand that my problem with you isn't the fact that you are illegitimate, I do not care about that. It's the lying that gets to me" I try to explain it better than I did back in London.
"Asha, you have no idea how people like myself feel or how we are treated. You have a lovely family Ma Sha Allah, and you live a life of luxury. You cannot begin to understand how tough it is for people like myself" He tells me in a soft tone, filled with pain.
"I know how tough life can be Hamid. My family went through a lot and if it wasn't for Allah, my mum and Ahmed's hard work, we would have been stuck in a room back in Kenya struggling to make ends meet" I recall my time in Kenya when we lived with our uncle (My mother's only brother) and how hard it was for us.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know that" He says, somewhat feeling embarrassed.
"I just hate it when people think that my family were born with gold spoons in our mouths" I really do you know.
"I want you to read this letter, before you accept me as a husband Asha" He hands me a very old letter in Arabic, as if I can read Arabic!
"Ahem, I do not speak or read Arabic" I've GOT to read and speak Arabic soon wouldn't I!
He takes the letter and he reads it for me.
"Dear Hamid our beloved son, Words cannot explain how sorry we are for making your life a living misery while you were here. Son, yes we committed a mistake but your father married me as soon as he found out I was pregnant with you. He defied all his family and married me while I was two months pregnant. I gave birth to you at seven months from when the time we announced that I was pregnant. As much as we tried to contain the rumors and the back biting, things spiraled out of control and before anyone could object, you were cast as an illegitimate child. The fact that no one stood up for us made it ten times harder to fight those people back. We just let them carry on with their back biting and slander, hoping that by time, they will move onto someone else. It never occurred to us to go to a Sheikh and get his opinion on the matter. It was only by the grace of Allah that your father's friend opened our eyes about this, because we were trying to write a will. Son, the Sheikh told us that you are legitimate because your father married me when I was two months gone with my pregnancy. If he had had left it till I gave birth to you or more than three months pregnant, then you would have been illegitimate. Son, I do not care what anyone says, you are our legitimate child. Please get in touch, we asked the Sheikh to write it down and we have also consulted with more than one Sheikh, and they verified that this information is in fact true. I know it has been tough for you, and I would have given anything in the world to not see you suffer like that but it happened. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us son. Love from your mother and father"
Tears stream down my face in a very unladylike manner, and I am sure I heard a sniff coming from outside the living room.
Oh poor Hamid, the misery he must have endured as a child.
"I will marry you, but you need to know that this wouldn't have made a difference and also, I cannot cook to save my life" I sniff louder when I confess about the not knowing how to cook part, and I am pretty sure I heard my mum's hand slap her forehead___In fact, I am 100% sure.
"You will make me the happiest man alive, and I don't care whether you can cook or not. I'm just happy that you accepted me Asha" He says the one thing I wanted to hear from my future husband___I don't care if you can cook or not___So sweet and utterly___
"Actually I do, but that's okay because your mum is an amazing cook so you can learn from her" SO close, so close my friend.

__On the flight to England___
"Oh come Ahmed, let Hamid sit next to Asha, they are engaged!" Pleads mum with Ahmed to let Hamid sit next to me on the flight home.
With everyone on the plane looking at Ahmed, he reluctantly agrees to go sit next to my mum and allow Hamid to sit next to me.
Applause and congratulations echoes throughout. Hamid was about to sit on the seat next to me, when Ahmed materializes infront of him suddenly!
"I'm sorry, I can't! You are still not my sister's husband, and therefore you should really go and sit next to my mum" Ahmed pretty much orders Hamid out of the seat.
A chorus of BOOS replaces the applause when Ahmed takes Hamid's place. I cannot help myself and I laugh.
"Sorry about that, but I'm very particular about these things" Ahmed explains, looking at the angry crowd defiantly.
"Don't worry about them, they don't know what an amazing brother you really are" I try to make amends with him. I know the "You ruined my life" comment really left a scar with him.
"Really?" He asks vulnerably.
"Really" I answer him, while resting my head on his shoulders.
"SubhanaAllah those allergies follow me everywhere, where is my allergy tablets when I need them" He wipes off his "allergy" tears off his face.
Meanwhile in a house not faraway from The Abdalla Family's house, a girl opens her laptop__
Stretches her arms for a couple of minutes, then she opens her Facebook fan page that she created five years ago__
The fan page dedicated to the Abdalla brothers___
Everytime she tries to talk about how happy she is that Asha has finally got married, she stops and___
Starts writing about Ahmed__
Actually, she stops writing altogether and she closes down her laptop instead.
It is finally time to go after the one man she truly and utterly loves. She decides that it is time to go and make Ahmed fall in love with her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do not forget to tune in for Ahmed's story (Forever Fasting) soon In Sha Allah.
The fatwa regarding Hamid legitimacy was obtained from Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK
Allah knows best.

Jan 26, 2013

Cover

By Mabrouka Al-Tajoury




Bismillah

Wearing hejab for Allah alone – wear it right
And Allah will shower you with soothing light
Wear baggy clothes so guys won't be attracted
To view you for your words and not get distracted
My scarves a crown that I place on with pride
Our beauty is treasure that we should protect and hide
See, my scarves not oppression; it's freedom to light
Islam, my religion, gives women full rights
Us ladies are diamonds that need to be protected
I cover my bode, for my mind I want to be respected
My religion honors her, it fears for her safety
Women are not meant to be viewed as hungry beauty
Beauty fades but minds are ongoing blooming books
So want her for how she thinks & not how she looks

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

Jan 25, 2013

Recipe: Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls‏

By Ruby S


Bismillah 

As the winter weather rolls in (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere) we look forward to warm, spiced desserts and drinks. A popular spice used is cinnamon which has many amazing benefits to it. For one thing, half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower LDL cholesterol. It may have an effect also on regulating blood sugar and arthritis relief.

Even smelling cinnamon can help boost your memory! As an added bonus, cinnamon is anti-bacterial so it is excellent for preserving food.

A delicious, common item that makes use of this beneficial spice is cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls are basically rolls of soft white dough with a layer of cinnamon sugar filling and topped with a glazed frosting. Of course, people are conscious of its fat and sugar content, but let me tell you that it is okay to indulge once in a while! These are absolutely mouthwatering, soft, and just delicious. Put in the effort to enjoy homemade rolls, fresh out of your oven!

(Recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients: 

For the Dough

1 Packet Dry Active Yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk, whole
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2-4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, melted (for brushing on top)

For the Filling 

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, room temperature

For the Icing

4 oz Cream Cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
A few tablespoons of milk


To Make the Rolls:

1- Combine the yeast with water and let it sit for 5-7 minutes (should be bubbly).
2- In a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook, combine sugar, egg, milk, and butter.
3- In two batches add the flour, combining all ingredients.
4- When ingredients have been combined, turn up the speed to medium to knead the dough.
5- When the dough is elastic-like and smooth, take it out onto a floured surface.
6- Knead the dough into a smooth ball, and place into well-oiled bowl. Make sure the dough is covered with oil as well.
7- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour in a warm place (the microwave or oven turned off is a good place!) until doubled in size.
8- When the dough has risen, dump out onto floured surface. With hands or with a rolling pin, stretch the dough into a rectangular shape, slightly larger than the 9x13 in. pan you will use.
9- Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
10- Spread the butter on the dough and sprinkle the sugar mixture on.
11- Roll the dough slowly, tucking as you roll, along the horizontal side.
12- Seal the roll with water on the edge of the dough.
13- Cut evenly into 16-18 pieces, depending on how big you want the rolls to be. Cut in half, then halves again, and so on.
14- Place rolls onto greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for another hour, until doubled.
15- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When rolls have risen, brush with about a tablespoon of melted butter.
16- Bake for half an hour at 350 degrees F.
17- Beat Cream Cheese, vanilla, and butter until mixed. Add powdered sugar and mix. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.
18- When rolls are baked, pour the icing on top and lastly, enjoy!!!


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

Jan 23, 2013

3 Simple Cures For Disappointment

By Sabina Giado


Bismillah


Have you ever been disappointed? Truly disappointed? Have you ever felt that shattering feeling, somewhere between rage and sadness? In that moment, did you let it take over your body, so that you became immobile, or worse, said or did something you regret? Did you let that disappointment take over your life – do you return to it often, hoping and praying to cure the wound but instead keeping it fresh and live?

Alhamdulillah, our beautiful Deen has an answer to this.


A definition of terms
Let us define the terms we are going to use insha Allah.

What is disappointment? Disappointment is what we feel when our expectations are not met. It can range from mild irritation to, as I described before, violent anger.

What are expectations? Expectations are what we have when we premonition the outcome of a situation. In other words, we imagine we can see the future.

Does that sound silly? It does. But when we realize how prevalent disappointment is, we realize that in fact, false expectations pervade every area of our life.

Some areas in which you might have expectations

Marriage
It is understandable to have high expectations of your partner. Even if all our high standards are met before the marriage, in terms of Deen, character, looks, social status, wealth, etc., upon entering the marriage, we might find that wedded bliss is not as blissful as we had hoped. He might be too quiet; he might have difficulty expressing his feelings. He might not be very romantic. Even though he’s quite wealthy, he might actually be quite thrifty.

All these little things might grow from annoyances to full-blown arguments because our expectation of our lives after marriage did not jibe with reality.

Job
We might work hard for years at college and enter the job market fully expecting to be hired at a top firm with an enviable salary.

Many of us did just that in the early to mid-2000s. However, the global economic downturn happened. Moreover, employment opportunities thereafter became few and far between. What was once a shining future became a desperate present.

We expected a great career; we instead got professional and financial struggles we were not prepared for.

Family
It is easy to see how our families could disappoint our expectations. Our mothers and fathers might not shower us with the praise we think we deserve when we get that A or that promotion. Our siblings might talk behind our backs with our friends instead of defending us.

These incidents often surprise us and cause us to react in the moment in a way that is detrimental to our faith and to our relationships.

Yourself
Last but not least we tend to have incredibly high expectations of ourselves. Women often expect to be good wives and mothers and to have a high-flying corporate career. That sounds like three jobs already, but to add to that community leader, volunteer worker and general world-saver and we have enough to do not just for Wonder-woman but for her entire planet of Amazonians.

In spite of this, we tend to beat ourselves up for our failures and continue to pile more and more onto our plate instead of reflecting on what is truly meaningful in our lives.

These are just a few of the areas we might have expectations in – others include family, society and friends. A lot of the time, our expectations are so deeply held that we do not even realize we have them until they are disappointed.

Insha Allah, I would like to suggest a few ways to deal with that painful feeling of disappointment in order to maximise the benefit and minimise, or even eliminate the harm.


Ways to deal with unmet expectations.

1. Do not stifle your feelings.
When you feel yourself getting that irritated or angry feeling, it is important to allow yourself to express your feelings in a non-destructive way. Do not stem their flow and do not make them wrong. Instead, shut off all distractions, sit quietly somewhere, perhaps with a pen and paper, a voice recorder, a video camera, etc., and allow yourself to simply feel.

It is especially essential to get rid of distraction. These feelings are not usually very pleasant and we often seek to drown them in YouTube videos, social media or other distractions of the dunya.

Once you allow yourself a little time to feel, you may feel insha Allah a little calmer. Then you are ready to dig deeper.

2. Ask yourself 2 questions.
i. Were my expectations a result of my dreams or my ambitions? Dreams are less formed than ambitions. They exist more in the realm of imagination and day-dreams than real action. They usually occur unconsciously to us and are generally the result of cultural and social myths.

Ambitions however are more grounded in reality. They are made of thoughts rather than dreams and occur while we are fully conscious. Their substance is grounded in reality. We might have expressed our ambition to the people around us, written it down as a goal, marshaled resources to march towards that ambition.

Ambition by its nature inspires action; dreams are more passive.

If we ascertain that our expectation is because of a dream you nurtured, we could then judge whether our current reality fits in with the values of that dream. Do we really want a groom on a white horse? Do we really want to be swept off our feet? Does that happen anymore? Or is the honest but shy religious and successful accountant our parents introduced us to worth considering?

What are we really after when we have these dreams? Romance, spontaneity, being treated like a queen? Are only knights in shining armour capable of that or could perhaps an accountant also be capable of such soaring love? Insha Allah, he definitely could.

What if your expectations were part of your ambitions? Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala receives the right to withhold or grant success to our endeavours


“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155)

This then is a test on the path to your goal and a great opportunity to practise and earn the reward for sabr (patience).  Sabr is linked to tawwakul, reliance on Allah for deliverance and a path to something better than that which disappointed us. This in fact is a promise, which Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala makes to us in the Qur’an.


Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. (Surah Ash-sharh 94:5)

But patience does not mean passivity. We are asked to be constant. If we have failed to memorize a dua or a Sur’ah, we should try again. If we did not get the grade we had hoped for in an exam, we should keep trying. If we did not manage to give the charity we had planned to do, do the community service we had planned to or fast the days we wanted to, we should wake up the next morning and keep trying. This is the true path to prosperity – patience and perseverance.


O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful. (Surah Al-Imran 3:200)

ii. Do you really want to achieve your expectations? This question has a series of sub-questions.
- Do you sincerely want to achieve your goal? Ask yourself how badly do you want to achieve your goal, whether there is any doubt in your mind whether this is a worthwhile investment of your time.
- Do you want to accomplish this for Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala alone? If we chase the world, we will lose both this world and the Hereafter. If we seek Allah’s pleasure, even His creation will love us.
- Do you have the discipline to carry out this goal? Some goals require more time, energy and courage. Others do not. By clarifying the strength of your commitment, you can ascertain whether you have the discipline to follow through on your plan, to perhaps wake up early or stay up late, refuse social engagements, have difficult conversations with family etc.

3. Communicate your expectations to the world around you.
Last but certainly not least is garnering support. We need our family and friends on our side. We can pursue our goals more courageously with the support of those we love.

When it comes to dreams however, communicating them might actually bring us back down to earth – if in fact that is where we need to be.

The key to managing the expectations of the people around us i.e. external expectations, is to first clarify what our own internal expectations are.

The Productive Muslim has a great Friday Naseeha video on balancing internal and external expectations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPvU1USj3BU

A parting word
Human beings may not react the way you would like them to. This might make you miserable. You might not receive something for which you had greatly hoped. This might make you miserable.

But the truly miserable is the one whom Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala’s pleasure is withheld from on the Day of Judgement. The truly pleased is the one with whom Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala is pleased.

And Allah’s Mercy is more Merciful than anyone on the Earth and Allah is more Kind and Giving. Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala’s attributes cannot be equated or compared to any human attribute. Therefore his Mercy and His blessed attention is not scattered like human beings would be. His expectations are not well above our abilities like our family’s, or even our own, might be.

He should always be the only One we are trying to please.

Any good in this article is from our Rabb, Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala, and any evil is only from me.


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

Jan 21, 2013

A Muslimah's Beauty Regime

By Tara Delancey


Bismillah


It is well known that our bodies, minds, and hearts are connected. As such, our physical beauty is strongly affected by our spiritual and mental states. Want to be extremely beautiful, without makeup or any physical alterations? Then you have to start with the heart. This article will delve into the beauty effects of three key aspects of worship to demonstrate the connection between worship, iman, and physical beauty.

Tawakul:
Tawakul means trusting Allah. It means relaxing and accepting that everything will happen exactly as it is destined to. Once you have done your personal best, place all your worries, fears, and anxieties in the hands of Allah. The Noble Quran states that:

No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being - indeed that, for Allah , is easy.In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you. And Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. (Surah Al-Hadid 57:22/23) 

This verse beautifully demonstrates how we should react to the ups and downs of life - neither with selfish pride nor despair, but with humility and gratitude to Allah.

When the body experiences high or extended periods of stress due to anxiety and worry, the brain produces higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Though cortisol, like adrenaline, is necessary and beneficial in short bursts, like when your body needs to cope with a sudden distress, it can lead to a variety of health problems, particularly chronic acne, if secreted regularly. A natural outcome of having tawakul is that it will lower your stress levels and also help clear up your spots.

Healthy eating habits:
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet, one rich in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat, is not just some kind of quirky, neo-hippy lifestyle choice. It is an essential part of our deen. According to nutritionist, health practitioner and educator Dr. Ann Wigmore, “the food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”. Every year modern science is discovering new ways in which the food we eat impacts our health, and every discovery lends support to the command of Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala:

Then eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And be grateful for the favor of Allah, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship (Surah An Nahl16:114) 

It would also be worth our while to heed the wise words of Omar bin Al-Khattab, radi Allahu ‘anhu, who during his caliphate outlawed eating meat more than two days in a row; “Beware of meat, for it has an addictiveness like the addictiveness of wine” (Malik).

Eating healthy foods has a variety of beneficial effects on the skin. For example, lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, grapefruits and carrots (among other things), has been found to make your skin smoother and protect against sunburns. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in Salmon and other fish, have been found to prevent skin cancer and preserve collagen, thus preventing the onset of wrinkles.

Acceptance and Gratitude:
Acceptance and Gratitude are like the Tawakul of the past and present. While Tawakul means acknowledging that the future is from Allah and giving up worries and anxieties, gratitude means that we accept that everything that exists in the present, as well as what has passed, is also from Allah. When we fully internalize that fact, we can be nothing but thankful to our Creator, knowing that all the uncountable blessings we have are ni’amat from Allah and all the trials are means of purification and Allah’s way of drawing us closer to Him. Our beloved Prophet said:
Indeed, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty (Sahih Muslim) 

The confidence and self worth resulting from a complete satisfaction with what Allah has given brings a shine to the face and a sparkle to the eyes that is incomparable. While we must, of course, observe the hijab, following the commandments of Allah, being satisfied with them, and appreciating all incredible beauty that Allah has placed all around us will bring a more profound beauty and a higher type of attraction to our faces that eclipses the mundane beauty of natural forms. That type of beauty could be called the light of iman, which shines in the faces of those who are constantly satisfied and grateful, and which is attractive in the same way that a bright lantern shows the way on a dark path.

Attaining the light of iman marks the beginning of the process of discarding the layers of makeup and false beauty and letting your natural beauty shine through. I have known many sisters, myself included, who find their purely-natural faces so embarrassing they literally cannot leave the house without first putting on their daily makeup routine. This is not because they are not beautiful, but because they do not perceive themselves to be fully and completely beautiful. There is always a little something lacking, something needing to be covered up or enhanced.

I am not saying we should go and throw all our makeup in the bin. Some makeup can be good in moderation, and there is a right place and right time for everything. I only wish to make the point that the beauty enhancement which makeup provides pales in comparison to that brought about by high states of iman.

Though having high iman and attaining closeness to Allah is an end in itself, and one of the most noble goals one can have in life, its side effects are certainly something to smile about.


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

Jan 20, 2013

Short story: Where is My Khadija Chapter 1

By Alawiya Abdallah

Next Chapter

Bismillah

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) reports that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) stated

“Whoever caresses the head of an orphan (in affection), solely for the sake of Allah, a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand, and whoever treated an orphan (boy or girl) with goodness and kindness, he and I will be close to each-other in Heaven as these two fingers”

The Prophet (S.A.W.) made a gesture with his fingers as explained above.


The Abdalla family are like no other family. Their house is filled with love, laughter and kindness But it has not always been this way. You see, to be where they are now, Allah has tested them with many, many trials.

The Abdalla family consists of:
Abdalla Sufi (The father)
Halima (The mother)
Ahmed (The eldest of Halima’s children)
Ibrahim (The second eldest)
Mohamed and Asha (Twins and the last of Halima’s children)

Halima

Today has been the most depressing day of my entire life. My beloved husband (Abdalla) died as soon as I gave birth to Mohamed and Asha, he never even got the chance to get to the hospital to see his newborns.

He died on the way to the hospital, He just collapsed outside the entrance door from a heart attack

My grief was enormous.  Not only did I lose the love of my life but I am left with trying to find a job to support my children in a small town called Barawa (Somalia).

How am I gonna support my 4 kids, now that my darling husband is gone would my kids starve now that their dad has gone forever?? So many scary thoughts going through my head.

The 4 months of 'Idda (mourning period) proved to be a life saver, as people would leave money and cook food for us. Even though my heart was breaking into pieces, my mind was at rest knowing that at least for 4 months and 10 days, my children would not go hungry Inshallah.

But what happens after that who am I going to leave my kids with, when I go to look for a job?? My mum and dad passed away long time ago, and I have no siblings apart from my brother who lives in Kenya with his wife and two sons.

My only option is Abdalla’s brother Yusuf, who is not a very nice person

Ya Allah help me find a way to feed my kids, Ya Allah do not make me need people who do not have an ounce of kindness in their hearts.

Ya Allah you are my only hope in this difficult time...
Help me Ya Allah.



Meanwhile in a villa not far away...

Omar

My name is Omar Sheikh, and Alhamdulilah I am a successful business man. I just came back from work, and now I am looking at my family and I cannot believe how beautiful they all are

Three years ago, I was the most miserable man on the face of the planet! But now, my life is complete I have the most amazing wife and daughter.

You see my wife Fatma is my second wife, and we have never had children together. I have a daughter from my first mariage to Manafisa Ali, and she was not a very patient woman.

Before I became this incredibly successful businessman, I was just a merchant selling bananas at the market. My ex wife Manafisa would ridicule me every chance she would get; she did not want to be associated with a banana merchant!

She wanted the high life and everything that comes with it, little did she know that if she had patience her dreams would have come true.

If she had only stayed for a few months, she would have seen me buying a mini bus with all my savings. She would have seen that one minibus turn into two, three and four even eight minibuses within a year with the blessing of Allah (SWT)

She did not have the patience you see, in fact she left me literately holding the baby. I just woke up one morning to find all her things gone, with a note that said:

“I want a divorce, I am going to Kenya to stay with my family. You can keep Khadija if that is going to make my divorce from you quicker”

Just like that, she broke my heart to pieces, as well as breaking my daughter Khadija’s heart   I did not know what to say to her! How can you tell a one month old baby, her mummy just upped and left

A first I was determined to raise her all by myself, with the help of my mother. But my mother has so many health issues, that leaving her with a baby was not an option

We struggled with my blooming business and raising a baby for a while, but it became apparent that it was not gonna work for all of us

I made the decision that I have to find a wife to help me with my child, but I was worried about bringing a step mum who COULD mistreat Khadija in my absence!

You hear all these stories, and your heart becomes heavy with fear and worry. I had to be out there checking my business, and I cannot be at two places at the same time

So my mother asked around, and she brought me a list of eligible ladies’ names for me to decide who should be my wife

I have to say the names on the list were impressive, ladies from such noble backgrounds who are willing to marry a divorcee with a child?

I thought and thought and thought some more, and I have come to a conclusion.

So I went to find my mum Fawziya to let her know of my decision. I saw her on the prayer mat holding a Quran , with her back leaning on her bed I bend down and kissed her head and hands, and I sat down next to her.

“Mother. I don’t know how to say this, but none of the ladies on the list are compatible to me” I said it looking at the floor, because I know how much this is going to upset her

“Are you sure about that son?” She asks kindly, with a hint of smile appearing on her face

“I just think that they are so young for me, and they wouldn’t handle the fact that I have a child very kindly. I need someone to understand that my daughter is very important to me”

“I need her to understand that I won’t tolerate anyone to mistreat my little princess ma! I will love her so much if she shows my daughter the affection she’s missing from a mother figure, not that you’re not showing...I mean” I stumble on my words, when I try to explain to her what I mean

“Go get me the list I gave you son, and come back here” She orders me with a mysterious smile

I go and get it quickly for her , because the curiosity is killing me

She takes the paper and rips it into pieces, and then she takes a small piece of paper from under her pillow and passes it on to me.

I open and see one name__

Fatma Habib

I look over to her to try and understand who this Fatma is. She senses my hesitation and she says

“Omar. I wanted you to have the option to choose from different suitable girls, according to our culture. You can get any girl you want and you know that right?”

“It’s different when a man divorces, they don’t see it as something big. But when a woman divorces, it’s much tougher. I have wanted Fatma for you ever since you divorced what’s her name, but didn’t want to pressure you”

“I didn’t want you to look down on her, son, she’s the sweetest girl you’ll ever know. I don’t even think she knows how to raise her voice! She was in an abusive marriage that ended in a divorce”

“She never had kids with her ex husband, and she lives with her parents now. The poor girl has been through a lot, and I think you’ll be perfect for each other after what you two went through.” She finishes what she had to say, and waits for my answer.

I don’t say anything to her, but I go over to her and kiss her forehead.

And she understands that I have just given my approval, if my mum thinks she is the one then all I need to do is pray Istikhara and see where life takes me Inshallah



9 years later

Life was great for Omar and Khadija when Fatma joined them. She was more than a mother to Khadija, she was sweet, kind and loving. Basically it was everything Omar had wished for in a wife.

He and Fatma did not have children of their own, and that devastated her very much

She thought it was her fault, because she never had children with her ex husband either, and people’s whispers and gossip were not helping either.

But Omar and his mum never regretted bringing her to the family, because she really was the sweetest person you will ever meet

Four months after Fatma joined the family, she came from a funeral and she explained to Omar that a woman called Halima lost her husband and she had four kids to raise on her own.

She asked him if they could hire her to work as a nanny and a housekeeper, and she also asked if she could live in the servant’s house that was vacated earlier by the previous housekeeper.

Even though Fatma was well aware that they don’t really need a nanny or a housekeeper, she still likes to employ people as a way of offering Sadaqah (Charity) without having to embarrass the receiver of this help.

Omar agreed and they offered Halima the position, which she accepted gratefully.

Just as things were going smoothly in Omar Sheikh’s household, with the addition of Halima and her children...

Tragedy struck.

Halima

I could not believe my ears when Fatma Habib, Omar Sheikh’s wife came to offer me the position of a housekeeper at their villa

I was very grateful to Allah and to them, as it meant that I can work and look after my children at the same time

And it also meant that I do not have to accept Yusuf’s offer of marriage! It is not like I was going to EVER accept it, but I thought in a moment of desperation that it was my ONLY option

Alhamdulilah I do not have to marry that cruel man! He is cold, mean and heartless. Everyone can hear him yelling and screaming at his wife everyday

And it is not like she just sits there and takes it! Oh no, she yells back. So their lives are all too abusive and naturally your heart goes out to their kids, Mona and Hamadi.

I am just glad that I got this new job, I have been with this family for 9 years and I could not be happier my job is more housekeeping than baby sitting, as Fatma dotes on Khadija Mashallah.

Khadija is the same age as my youngest children, Mohamed and Asha. For that reason, all three of them spent most of the day playing together.

My two eldest sons played together all the time, and they would innocently tease Mohamed my youngest for spending most of his time with Asha and Khadija.

Everyone could see that Mohamed had a soft spot for Khadija, him and Asha would quarrel ALOT mostly because Asha thought Khadija was HER friend and that Mohamed was cramping their style

It is all so innocent, but my motherly heart can not help but worry that some day Mohamed will actually fall in love with Khadija

What will I do then?? we are just servants in their villa

That thought kills me everyday I mean the people are so nice to us, and so generous but they would never accept my son for their daughter!!

And Mohamed being all romantic is not helping either how can you explain the social difference between us and them to a 9 year old!

And WHY am I worrying about this now? Subhanallah, I have become like this since my husband died 9 years ago

Who am I gonna share my worries about the future now? It is all on my shoulders now, actually poor Ahmed has been carrying the load with me ever since my husband died

He is the eldest, and he instantly took the father figure role without any persuasion.

I remember the 'Idda days, and I remember how people kept telling him that he is the man of the house now, even though he was only 4 years old when his dad died!!

That really had a massive impact on him, the situation shaped him into this serious person. He was such a carefree boy, but now he hardly ever smiles even though I know he is the kindest person of all my kids.

Ibrahim on the other hand is a cheeky, playful and careless boy. Sometimes a bit too cheeky, and getting me in trouble with the neighbours by throwing love letters to their daughters

As for Asha, well she is my little princess and her brothers are very VERY protective of her and Khadija.

They see Khadija as their sister, they would protect her with their lives the same way they would Asha

For now life could not be more perfect, I live and work with the best people EVER Alhamdulilah

And right now it is story time, the same story I tell my kids right before they go to bed__

A simplified story version for the kids of the Prophet (SAW) and Khadija (RAA)__

My husband got this small book that has the Prophet’s journey from a book store one day, and he would read it for the kids every night before they go to bed

It was written in several parts to make it easy for the children, my husband never stopped reading it for them.

That is why I am continuing the bed time routine, but instead of reading it to four excited faces I read it to FIVE little excited faces with the addition of Khadija

Their favourite one was the early days of the Prophet (SAW) life, the days when our beloved was orphaned and the struggles he met on his journey.

The story concludes with the death of Khadija (RAA), they get so sad at that part__

but what sticks in their heart is the love The Prophet Mohamed (SAW) had for Khadija (RAA), and the love She had for him.

So tonight like every night, I read them the story and now they are all tucked up in bed.

I look at the clock on the wall, and I realize that Fatma and her husband have not come back from their visit to her family yet, and it is like 9 pm

I did not notice because I was so busy with the kids today!! I call her family and they say that they left ages ago

Why is my heart feeling heavy all of a sudden?? I go to find Omar’s mum Fawziya so she can help me figure out what to do!

As I was making my way to her room, I hear a loud knock on the door

I quickly go to open the door, holding my breath__

A man is standing infront of me trying to catch his breath! OK NOW, all my instincts are telling me something is wrong__

Something is REALLY REALLY wrong

“Is this Omar Sheikh’s house?” He asks, trying to steady his voice.

“Yes it is. What happened??” I ask, the panic in my voice reaching fever pitch.

“There’s been a collision with a lorry a few blocks down the road with Mr Omar’s car and__” He lowers his gaze barely able to say what I think he’s about to say

“Are they alright??” I ask, even though I already know the answer

“Ina Lillahi wa Ina Ilayhi Raje3un” He says it tearfully.

My mind does not register how devastating this news, I close the door and I just slump on the nearest chair.

I do not know how you can tell a mother that not only has she lost her son, but she also lost her daughter-in-law too

I snap out of my trance when I remember Khadija

Oh poor Khadija, what is going to happen to her now?

What is going to happen to us

__________
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