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Jan 28, 2015

Top 10 Tips for a Life of Gratitude




by Sabeen Mansoori

Bismillah

I have met people whose degree of ingratitude has shocked and saddened me and, I have met people who are so grateful that they have left me speechless. At Hajj there was a group of Hajis that wasted their precious time in the city of the beloved Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu aleyhi wa'aleyhi wasallam (SAWW) (peace upon him and his progeny) complaining and arguing about the fact that they had been given a four-star hotel instead of the five-star one that they were promised. As they raised their voices in anger, I thought about the thousands of people that would give anything to be in their shoes. How ungrateful can you be? I also have a dear friend who is suffering from an excruciatingly painful disease and yet she remains extremely patient and grateful. Her eyes are full of tears from the pain but when you offer your sympathies, she smiles and replies, “No worries, dear. At least I am still around to feel the pain.”

In Islam gratitude is not inculcated by simply writing thank you notes to people. A believer’s entire life is a note of Shukr (gratitude) to the Creator – a note that is written out of love and appreciation, sealed with acts of worship and stamped with deeds of service to His creatures. But how is one to write such a note? What are the skills that must be practiced and perfected so that we can protect ourselves from Kufr (ingratitude).

Top 10 Tips to Leading A Life of Gratitude

1. Sincerely Yours: 

Sign your life the way Prophet Ibrahim aleyhissalam (AS) (peace on him) did:

Say, "Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.(Surah Al-Anam 6:162)

Allah subhana wa ta’la (SWT) praised him in the Quran:

"[He was] grateful for His favors. Allah chose him and guided him to a straight path." (16:121)

2. Have No Regrets

Prophet Yusuf (AS) who faced so many challenges in his life: being separated from his family, slavery, being seduced by his master’s wife, and imprisonment is nothing but grateful as he looks back.

And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, 

"O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise.(12:100)

3. Comparing is Complaining

Appreciate your uniqueness and the abilities, talents and opportunities that Allah (SWT) has provided you with: 

"And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others…(Sura An- Nisa 4:32)

Look up to and compare only in matters of Deen (religion) so that you can race to excel in acts of goodness. Comparing in anything else will only lead to regret and ingratitude.

4. Step Outside

"Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding." (3:190)

Join the congregation of the trees as they make sajdah (kneel) to their Rabb (Lord) and a new kind of gratitude and contentment will infuse your life.

5. Persevere with Patience
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah says in Patience and Gratitude: “Iman (faith) is in two halves: half is Sabr (patience) and half is Shukr (gratitude)” [1]. One cannot be attained without the other. Patient people are grateful and impatient people are ungrateful and unhappy.

6. Don't Be A Victim

Several times Allah (SWT) informs us in the Quran:

That is for what your hands have put forth and because Allah is not ever unjust to [His] servants." (3:182)

7. Believe in Jannah (Paradise) 
If you believe in Paradise then be grateful for everything you were not granted in this world because it will be unimaginably better over there. If your burden feels heavier now, on the Day of Judgment, insha Allah (by Allah's Will) the burden of your sins will be light. If you feel unappreciated and; therefore, ungrateful, know that Allah alone knows and understands.

8. Do Not Share Your Burden

Sharing your problems will lead to multiple problems. As you vent, your problems will seem to magnify as they become a part of someone else’s consciousness.They will feel sorry for you and you will feel even sorrier for yourself (see point 6 above). News might spread to people who should not know of your problems and might lead to unnecessary fitna. Wallowing in self pity will sap your creativity and make you an ungrateful, useless person.

9. If There Was No If

A what-if mentality creates burdens and fuels unhappiness. The Prophet (SAWW) warned against such mentality [2]:

Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) said:

"Seek out that which benefits you, seek help only from Allah and never say you can't do it. If any adversity comes to you do not say: 'If I had only acted in such-and-such a way, it would have been such-and-such;' but instead, say: 'Allah has decreed (it) and what He willed, He has done,' for verily, (the word) ‘if’ opens the way for the work of Satan." [Sahih Muslim]

10. Be Productive

Productivity and gratitude are intrinsically tied in a beautiful cycle. Fill your days with ibadah and zikr and serve the creation of Allah and you will be granted a life of gratitude. Gratitude will make you more productive which will make you more grateful and so on.

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.' "(14:7)

So next time you get the urge to complain, take a deep breath and reconsider. This exercise will have to be repeated several times a day till you develop an attitude of gratitude. I hope these ten tips help you in your struggle and make dua that they help me in my journey to a more grateful life. Please share any steps you have taken to add gratitude to your life.

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

References

[1] Patience and Gratitude Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah P.61 [Source] http://quranproject.org/Patience-and-Gratitude-563-d

[2] The What-If Mentality https://clearpearls.wordpress.com/tag/quran%EF%85%93/

Love and Hate for the Sake of Allah Part 2

By Asrar BenHoucine

Bismillah

Read Part 1

Why Islam Allows Punishments

Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) fought to spread Islam; holy wars were fought because rulers refused to allow Islam to enter their lands; whereas Allah made it clear that Islam is for all mankind thus the message of Islam must reach each individual in its pure form. This is why Jihad took place. As humans we all have a choice in regard to the religion we follow. But no one should make that choice for us.

Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala sent down the Shariah (Islamic Law) which includes tax (Zakat). Zakat, which is given to the less fortunate, is a means for the community to eliminate poverty. However, there are those who do not pay Zakat and they will get punished in this life by Muslim rulers and they will get a severe punishment in the Hereafter. Islam allows for punishment to be carried out in order to bring stability to society.

Allah knows people can be selfish or even forgetful about others in need. So Zakat supports those in need. Giving up a yearly 2.5% of a working person’s income would not leave him in need nor will it make him financially poor. (Allah knows best indeed and He rewards those who give Zakat). As Muslims, we know that there are reasons behind every Islamic law and as Muslims we should have taqwa (trust in Allah) and trust His Wisdom.

A Mercy towards his Enemies

So how should we act towards the enemies of Islam? We cannot be rude or ignorant towards them. Islam teaches us to respect others and their religions. In Surah Kafirun, the Quran explicitly states that they have their religion and we have ours. As Muslims we are taught tolerance, manners, and respect. Our Prophet, Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) is a great model for all this.

The prisoners of war taken captive at the Battle of Badr were amongst the Prophet’s bitterest enemies. Nevertheless, he made sure that they were given the best of treatment. Among them was Suhayl bin ‘Amr who was a fiery speaker and was denouncing the Prophet. ‘Umar, one of the Prophet’s closest companions, suggested that two of his lower teeth be pulled out so that he might not be so vile in his speeches. The Prophet replied:

Were I to do this, Allah would disfigure me on the Day of Judgement, despite the fact that I am His messenger.” (Bukhari)

References

Discover Islam. Messengers of God. The Prophet Muhammad a Mercy for all Creation. www.ediscoverislam.com.web.2013 

Sahih Al Bukhari # 3231 

Sheba, Adbul-Rahman al, Murad, Abdul-Rahman. Muhammad the Messenger of Allah. www.messengerofgod.info.web.2012

Utz, Aisha Dr. Psychology from the Islamic Perspective. Riyadh, 2011.Print.

www.washingtonpost.com


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

Jan 27, 2015

POEM: LOST WANDERERS

By Anum Ali

Bismillah 

O, Lord, the heart is aching, 

Pain bleeds, the drippage leaking, 

Collects into an ever-blemished soul, 

Corroding, eroding - the weakling. 

Trials, tribulations one too many, 

A helpless silence shrieking, 

We hold strong to Your Promise, 

A heavenly, silver lining. 

Our tears beseech Thy console, 

Our wounds beseech Thy healing, 

Lost wanderers we stroll the wastelands, 

Our footsteps search for meaning. 

There’s blood thinner than water, O Lord, 

There are ties but with no feeling. 

It is Thy love, still honey pure, 

At Thy council we find ourselves kneeling. 

Bless us with the nerve, O Lord, 

To face the storms upheaving, 

Our hearts cannot forbear the angst, 

Dreams, expectations, shattering, 

We hold Your Promise dear, 

In Your Will we keep believing.


Any thoughts on this poem? Please post in the comments section below :)

Jan 26, 2015

Love and Hate for the Sake of Allah Part 1

By Asrar BenHoucine

Bismillah


Relationships with our enemies from an Islamic Perspective

A lot of people come to believe that Muslims cannot be friends with non Muslims. Even our Muslim brothers and sisters find themselves confused on this matter. One must understand who are the enemies of Islam and why? Is it because of ignorance or do they know the truth but refuse to accept it? Why does Islam allow punishment? Some people tend to confuse revenge with justice or justice with revenge. So if you do something that can cause animosity then don’t you think this action will be judged as a hate crime, therefore causing people to hate you? How is one to act with those who are enemies of Islam? How should we relate to such from an Islamic perspective?

Manners of the Prophet towards his enemies

Aisha asked the Messenger of God (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam), “Did you face a day harder and more intense than the Battle of Uhud?” He replied: “I suffered a lot from your people! The worst I suffered was on the Day of al-’Aqabah when I spoke to Ali b. Abd Yaleel b. Abd Kilaal (in order to support me) but he disappointed me and left me. I left the area while I was quite worried, and walked. When I reached an area called Qarn ath-Tha’alib, I raised my head to the sky and noticed a cloud that shaded me. Gabriel called me and said, ‘O Muhammad! God, the Exalted, has heard what your people have said to you and has sent the angel in charge of the mountains, so you can command him to do what you please.’” The Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The angel in charge of the mountains called me saying, ‘May God praise you and keep you safe from all evil! O Muhammad, I will do whatever you command me to do. If you like I can bring the akh-shabain mountains together and crush them all.’” The Messenger of God (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “It may be that God raises from among them a progeny who worship God alone and associate no partners with Him.” (Bukhari #3231)

This Hadith clearly shows that Prophet Muhammad had a chance that anyone of us would have taken but did not. He was not a man of war, but one of peace, and he said Allah might raise one, just one of the people to be Muslim. Furthermore, Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) conquered Mecca without any bloodshed. Many would think after gaining power and returning to the people who hurt him terribly, the Prophet would seek revenge. However, he chose to forgive those people and this act of kindness led many of them to convert to Islam. If only we can learn that peace is what wins over the heart and not anger and destruction. As Muslims, we know that Allah is All Just, and if anyone actively opposes Allah or His religion, they will answer for it either here or in the Hereafter. The only time it is acceptable for us to kill is in holy war when you are defending yourself or your home or the oppressed. Wars were always on battlefields, never did they take place on or near civilian territory.

Enemies of Islam

The enemies of Islam are those who intentionally and actively oppose Allah and the religion not out of ignorance but out of rage and anger towards Muslims and Islam. A recent example is the movie trailer that was released about a movie against Prophet Muhammad. This was done intentionally by the filmmaker and it was even stated that he knew that Muslims would become infuriated over the trailer and react in a vengeful way.

Another example is when US Troops in Afghan tried burning almost 500 copies of the Quran. According to the Washington Post, the soldiers suspected that prisoners were passing illicit notes in the margins of library books and decided to burn all suspicious books, 474 being Qurans. (Washingtonpost.com) However, this act was supposedly done out of ignorance of how valuable the Quran is to Muslims and ignorance towards the religion.

Revenge & Justice


We must understand that justice is not always served in this life. However, Allah is All Just and He will carry out complete justice on the Day of Judgment. Revenge on the other hand is taken in some cases, for example an eye for an eye. As Muslims, we know whatever happens on Earth has already been written in the Heavens first and nothing happens without the Permission of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala. Therefore, in all matters, we should act rationally and never behave like those who are in the wrong.

In her book, Psychology from the Islamic Perspective, Dr. Aisha Utz states, “Hatred should be for the sake of Allah only, and should not affect us in a way that allows us to act or react irrationally. The matters that necessitate hatred include disbelief (when it is not out of ignorance), hypocrisy, innovation and sin.”

In most hate crimes carried out against Muslims, it is obvious that the perpetrator committed the act out of ignorance. Most people are just misinformed about Islam, blind followers of their forefathers; these people are NOT the true haters of Islam. As stated above, this is only due to ignorance.


Watch out for Part 2 !

Far from Home, Book Review

Written by Na’ima .B. Robert ~ Published by Frances Lincoln Limited (2011)
Reviewed by Amina Edota

                                                     Bismillah
Presently living far away from where I lived and called home for all of my adult years, the title of this book appealed to me in many ways. Not sure what to expect exactly but interested in the Zimbabwean setting, being African myself, I looked forward to reading it. I was somewhat mentally geared for the story of a teenager growing up in a traditional African setting and eventually experiencing a family separation. I ordered the book from Amazon website, saved it for a golden reading opportunity and devoured it while on a train journey from London to Scotland.

A short but gripping scene opened the book, leading to a lot of unanswered questions and lending mystery to the story plot. The main character was fourteen year old Tariro living in Rhodesia; the pre-independence Zimbabwe and narrating her story which steadily unfolded, leading eventually to the events of the independence then post-independence era.

The lifestyle coupled with events in this young girl’s life were captured through a lens of vivid description of the environment, customs and traditions, family life and mind of a young ‘care free’ child. Although deriving from completely different contexts and timeline, I found some of the personal issues and struggles faced by Tariro in Rhodesia of 1964 not dissimilar to those faced by young people in the UK today, from my experience as a mentor working with young people.

A rich African heritage and culture was captured; from the shared family meals to traditional stories and creative games of the children and young people, by the firelight. The pleasures of bathing in the river and savouring of goat meat stew, prepared from freshly slaughtered goat meat to the spirit of community love and unity. I found some of the traditions amazing but hilarious, such as the initial prospective call to a girl’s family about marriage (p. 22).

As sweet childhood innocence, hope and dreams turned into the terrors of war, tragedies and broken dreams, an intricate pattern is weaved connecting generations and lives of the two main characters – Tariro in part 1 and Katie in part 2. The chapters were titled making it easy to follow the development of the story, starting with chapter one of part 1 ‘the baobab’s daughter’ to the last chapter of part 2 – ‘History’.

The foreign words lent originality to the story and characters. There was a certain familiarity with repeated words as the story progressed plus challenge in trying to decode the meanings of words based on how they appeared in the sentence. Words such as ‘varungu’, ‘murungu’ and ‘chimurenga’ became familiar as I read along.

The emotions of the characters were so real that I could easily connect with them, as they traversed the planes of honour, pride, pain, joy and freedom all enveloped in secrets and struggles. The story climaxed to an end in quite an unexpected way.

Having read two books written by the author, ‘From my sister’s lips’ and ‘From Somalia with love’, this book ('Far from home') was a shift from her usual style that I was familiar with. Nevertheless, as an educationist, I believe it will serve as a useful educational resource with cultural, historical and political relevance especially to the young people. Muslim parents can also make a connection with some valuable lessons, which can be used as tools for building their children’s Islamic identity. This is by way of linking Islamically with some of the strong traditional aspects of some of the characters in their effort to maintain a cultural identity and uphold ties with their roots.

The timeline section at the end of the book was very useful; it gave clarity about events in the story and allows the reader to understand the possible social and political climate surrounding those events. It will add to the flavour of reading if readers come across the timeline before they begin the story so that it serves as a reference throughout.

Similarly, as I love to explore a book before reading by skimming and scanning, a table of chapters would be useful as well as a list of foreign words at the back with their meanings. I would recommend the book to young people (older age group) and adults.

Did this review make you excited about reading the book?  Post your comments below and let us know:)

Jan 25, 2015

Repel Evil With Good

by MabroukaAl-Tajoury

Bismillah

‘Repel, by [means of] what is best, [their] evil…’ - Quran [23:96] 

The above are beautiful words of wisdom from the Qur’an. Let us use righteousness to battle evil and not resort to the opposite. Why should I enhance the fire by fueling it with more evil. One specific way of fueling the fire is by seeking out revenge on people. If there is a situation where you have a rival, engaging in revenge may not only hurt the rival, but you can get fiercely tangled into a mess of which you were the root cause . And even if your opponent may have initiated something which led to you desiring revenge, there is no excuse for you to retaliate. As we know, evil or negativity will always result in loss or failure. 

Let’s turn the situation around. Responding righteously to whatever situation you are in will decrease the friction of anger. For example, if others didn’t mean to hurt you, then forgive; if they hurt you on purpose and asked for your sincere forgiveness, then forgive. But turn off your trust button and let time and experience show you if they are truly worth the trust. If they hurt you and they keep hurting you, then wish them the best and peacefully walk away. 

When you walk away, don’t leave by lashing out with foul language at those who hurt you; rather, you should leave like the soft, harmless wind. Understand that rational humans are conscious of right and wrong, so when they are knocked back into their senses, they will realize their mistakes. Even if they don’t realize it, the fact that they choose to do right with anger building inside them is a great indicator of inner accomplishment and spiritual enhancement. This is one of the best ways to boost your faith through positivity: outwardly choosing to do good even though everything inside of you is screaming to be evil. 


Walking away doesn’t equal weakness 

Sometimes walking away and calming your anger is the bravest and hardest thing you can do. It’s easy to spit ignorant unethical words at people but it takes a good soul to realize that, in the long run, not hurting them back is true victory. It takes guts to take that extra step but that one step can elevate you.

Not hurting them back equals triumph

We all have that bad person inside us that we try to control by avoiding immoral conduct. So when you don’t hurt others back, you have overcome the ego that has been nagging you constantly. As a result, you feel calm and at peace, which is the best reward to receive for your triumph.

Fire-brigade Tools:

The following are some tips that I have used personally to try to erase those inner flames: 

- Making wudu

- Praying two raka’as

- Talking, confiding, and crying to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)

- Being in an empty room, in a loud reasonable voice saying astagfur’Allah many times.

- Tilt your head up, deeply look into the sky, and pray that the feelings of hate, anger, revenge, and resentment be replaced with the shining nur (light) of peace.

- Ask yourself, “If the Prophet Muhammed (sal Allaahu alayhi wasalam) was here, what would he (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) do?”

- Kiss your mum’s forehead and hand.

- If your flames build up, then just place your forehead on the ground and say “Ya Allah.”

- At night when all are sleeping, even under your blanket, talk to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). You can still keep your heart and mind on the situation that you’re in.

- Ask for Allah’s Help, He understands ...


Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does not argue when he is in the wrong will have a home built for him on the edge of Paradise. Whoever avoids it when he in the right will have a home built for him in the middle of Paradise. And whoever improves his own character, a home will be built for him in the highest part of Paradise” [Tirmidhi].

 Remember, the moment you want to react, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is watching you. Choose wisely; choose that which pleases Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), and never let your ego or people get the best of you.


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




Jan 24, 2015

The Fragrance of Gratitude: An Analogy for Gratitude and Ingratitude



Bismillah

Emotions are difficult to describe in a tangible manner. How do I describe anger? Or love? Or frustration? If I cannot describe it in a quantifiable manner how do I control and regulate my feelings. As human beings we spend each day of our lives swinging between extremes of joy and sorrow, contentment and craving. A single word from the significant other, one ‘uff’ from the kids can ruin our day. A single word of praise or good news can make us overjoyed and arrogant. But are we constantly supposed to be on an emotional pendulum?

“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs are good and this is not for anyone except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him” (Sahih Muslim)

The believer is either grateful or patient. Gratitude is not counted by the number of ‘alhumdulillahs’ that we glibly suffix after spouting a long list of complaints. Gratitude is a state of being granted to those that constantly work on their eman, and have a real understanding of the purpose of life. How I wish I could grab some gratitude and keep it locked and safe where my mood swings and daily struggles would not destroy it.

Gratitude is like an exquisite fragrance. Imagine stepping outside on a crisp, spring morning and being overwhelmed by the scent of hundreds of flowers: jasmines, roses or any other flower whose perfume is a part of your memories. It is a truly invigorating experience. You would breathe in deeply and smile. A feeling of well being would wash over you and suddenly everything would appear more beautiful than it seemed when you simply looked out the window. The scent is subtle and intangible yet the sky seems bluer and the leaves more green. It would be difficult to leave. You would want to linger on and savor the feeling of joy and contentment. The day would seem full of hope and opportunity. That is gratitude.

Grateful people are a pleasure to be with. They do not see life through a window. Rather they experience it and enjoy it fully by sincerely appreciating all the blessings that Allah subhana wa ta’ala has given them. They are always hopeful of the mercy of Allah and make those around them hopeful as well.

Ingratitude stinks. Literally. An unpleasant odor is an appropriate analogy for it. Many years ago someone came to fix my fridge and in the process took out a packet of meat and left it on the top of the fridge. At my height, the top of the fridge is not easily visible. The next day a nauseating smell filled my kitchen. I scrubbed, I cleaned, I took out the trash but the stench would not go away. I could not stand in my spotless kitchen. Like driving through a beautiful landscape full of green fields and beautiful lush trees but when the windows are rolled down the stench from an open sewer overpowers and destroys the beauty of the landscape. Would you want to stay there and enjoy the scenery? The unpleasant odor would make you uncomfortable and you would leave immediately.

When we are ungrateful, our hearts feel constricted, uneasy and unhappy. We constantly pollute the air around us with complaints even though we are surrounded with the blessings of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. No one wants to be around us anymore. Those that do linger, leave with heavy hearts, feeling hopeless and helpless. We feel that Allah has been unjust with us (astaghfirullah) and we convey that feeling of victimhood and loss to others. We impair others, when as believers we are supposed to inspire them.

The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam gave us the following analogy:


“The likeness of a righteous companion is that of the seller of musk. Either he will give you a gift, or you will buy something from him, or you will smell a pleasant fragrance from him. And the likeness of an evil companion is that of the man who works the bellows, whether he will burn your garment or you will smell an unpleasant odor from him”. 

The most grateful person to ever live was our beloved Messenger salallahu alihi wasallam and subhanAllah. Allah had granted him a natural perfume:

Narrated Anas: “I have never touched silk or Dibaj (i.e. thick silk) softer than the palm of the Prophet nor have I smelt a perfume nicer than the sweat of the Prophet” Bukhari Vol. 4: No. 761

The exquisite fragrance of his beautiful character still reaches us even though we are removed from him by centuries. Let us strive to be worthy of his company in the Hereafter and walk the scented streets of Paradise by developing gratitude in our lives, inshaAllah.

“O Allah help me to remember You, to give thanks to You and worship You in the best manner.”

(Narrated by Abu Dawood and al-Nasaa’i)


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



References
1. http://quran.com/
2. http://ihsaanlife.com/2012/03/28/out-of-stock/
3. http://dailyreminders.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/amazing-is-the-affair-of-the-believer/
4. http://sunnah.com/urn/263610
5. http://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=56&translator=1&start=0&number=759

THE HELPER : CHAPTER TWO

by Ruksana
Read Chapter One

Bismillah

Ahmad entered Khaled’s room. Khaled had just finished praying ‘asr, and was reciting tasbih.
Ahmad perched at the end of his brother’s bed and waited.

“AssalamuAlaikumBhai-Jaan,” Khaled smiled at his oldest brother, looking up to him from his sitting position on the floor. 

“WalaikumAssalam, little brother Khaled. I am happy to see that you have maintained your Islam even after your time in America.”

“Bhai-Jaan, I cannot forget Allah, after all that He has blessed me with. Ama always told us, you know that.” Khaled’s eyes glistened thinking about his beloved mother’s recent passing.

“Yes, you were always the one who listened to Ama best,” Ahmad said.

Khaled did not know what to say and smiled faintly. An awkward silence filled the air, as the two brothers studied each other, having been apart for two and a half years. Because of their nine year age gap, the two brothers had never been close, and Ahmed had been like a paternal figure to him, since their father had died just before Khaled’s birth.

“Khaled,” Ahmad started, “I wanted to ask you…if Ama had mentioned us …you know it’s getting hard here in the village…”

“Bhaiyya – please,” Khaled stood up and sat next to his brother, “You are my older brother and you have the right to demand, rather than ask. I know what you want to say…Ama had mentioned it, but even if she had not, you know I would support you.”

Ahmad grinned. “I know my little brother would never forget us,” he said, patting Khaled on his back.

“Of course,” Khaled nodded, “You and Bhabi should come to America. We must stay together. But you know that it’ll take a bit of time, since I have only been there for a year.

“Yes, yes,” Ahmad nodded, “that is understandable. I know you will help us, we will wait for you. May Allah give us all sabr.”

Ahmad patted Khaled’s hair, just as he always used to do. He left the room, elated and found his wife standing five feet away. But before he could say anything to Tahmima, Khaled came into the hallway.

Bhabi,” Khaled called. Tahmima turned around and fixed the edge of her sari over her hair.

“Don’t worry,” Khaled assured her, “Allah has given me the means to help my family and I plan to bring you and Bhaiyya to America. Insha Allah, have some sabr.”

Tahmima smiled and nodded her head. She and Ahmad walked back to their room.

“I told you, “Ahmad informed her, “Khaled would not let us down.”

“Of course not, how could he face the shame from the village, if he neglected to help his only brother. I tell you, you have the right to demand. You must stop being so passive.”

“In time,” Ahmad told her, “my dear, we have to behave passively now, so Khaled will feel bad for us. Don’t worry, I have it planned out.”

Khaled was not completely in the dark about his brother’s feelings towards him. In fact, he had held some suspicions before he had left for America. Ahmad had seemed a bit angry that Khaled was getting an opportunity to study in America.

But it was their mother’s cousin who had chosen Khaled to come back to American with him, instead of Ahmad. Maryam had not questioned his reasons, because the wise woman knew both of her sons well and agreed with her cousin’s choice. Ahmad had asked his mother countless times, “Why, not me? Why Khaled?” However, Maryam always told him they were in no position to choose and to just be happy that one member of their family was getting an opportunity that would raise the family from poverty. Khaled was never privy to any of these conversations between Ahmad and Maryam, however he suspected that his older brother felt a bit envious, but he, like Maryam, believed his mother’s cousin had good reason for his choosing. Now two years later, he was happy to give the same opportunity to Ahmad, and to perhaps take away the ill feelings Ahmad had against him. Hopefully in America, they would be closer brothers…that would happen, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? Why not? Khaled again slipped into a reverie, about their life in America.

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



Jan 23, 2015

Hummus: Origins and Recipe A Delicious Mediterranean Dip

By Ruby S.

Bismillah

Practically every Western grocery store has it in stock. How did hummus become so popular? Believe it or
not, hummus is now such a staple item here that people are surprised when they learn it’s actually Middle Eastern in origin. Hummus has become so popular for many reasons, including the fact that it’s healthy, contains good proteins, and satisfies your appetite, not to mention that it’s DELICIOUS. Even better is that with a few simple ingredients that are easy to find, you can make it too in your own kitchen! There’s no need to buy it premade when the authentic stuff can be made easily in a food processor.

The earliest mention of hummus dates to about thirteenth century in Egypt, but both Greek and Arabic sources want to claim this as their invention. Greeks and Egyptians had traded for many years, so it’s natural that their food would be similar and crossover from one culture to another, from one country to another. Regardless of where it comes from, the dish is known to be a smooth, thick paste normally made from a combination of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and tahini (sesame seed paste) and a few other ingredients that make it taste amazing.

Even more wonderful about this dip is that it’s considered a healthy food. This is because it fills you up without raising blood glucose levels, according to “The Hummus Place”. Chickpeas are a very good filler- they don’t have fats and they’re good to help prevent building up of cholesterol. “The Hummus Place” also states that hummus is a great source of dietary fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids (good for intelligence and a healthy heart), vitamins, and minerals like copper, sodium, calcium, and zinc. On top of all this, hummus is a great protein source when paired with pita bread or breadsticks.

Hummus can be eaten as a dip, with bread, like I mentioned, or with veggie sticks. Precut carrots, cucumber sticks, celery sticks, and even broccoli or cauliflower pieces taste yummy with hummus. Hummus can also be used as a spread for burgers or sandwiches instead of mayonnaise. So, now that you’re convinced of this versatile food, let’s go on to the recipe! 

To Make Hummus: 
1 15oz can Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1/4 cup Tahini (Sesame Paste)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp salt

1) Drain the garbanzo beans, keeping liquid in a separate bowl.

2) Process everything with a food processor or blender. Slowly add the reserved liquid until the hummus reaches the desired consistency. It shouldn’t be too thick like peanut butter, nor too thin and runny like water. The consistency should be like a thick paste.

3) Taste the hummus and add more of any ingredient as needed.

4) To serve, spread hummus in a dish, drizzle olive oil, and sprinkle on paprika. Serve with veggies or pita bread.


Helpful Tips:

Keep in mind the following:

*If the hummus is too thin, add some more garbanzo beans and process again.

*If the hummus doesn’t have enough garlic, add garlic powder, not fresh garlic.

*If the garlic flavor is too strong for you, add a few drops of lemon juice.

*If there’s too much salt, add some garbanzo beans and tahini.
The trick to making awesome hummus is to keep testing it out if it doesn’t come out right the first time. Hummus is very forgiving and it’s easy to fix the recipe if something does not turn out right the first time. I hope you enjoy it!

Sources:
http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternfood101/f/Is-Hummus-Greek-Or-Middle-Eastern.htm
http://www.theneshamaproject.com/hummus-recipes/
http://www.3fatchicks.com/5-health-benefits-of-hummus/

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