A National Crisis of the Heart

Somethings been bothering me and it has to do with the way people are respoding to Hurricane Sandy. The storm which has ravaged New York, affected several states and has claimed many lives is being mocked and belittled.  A friend as his status wrote: “ I bet all the ppl saying they were tired of hearing about the NE whining about a little Cat 1, are feeling pretty bad right about now.”

To that a person responded – “Did the coast flood just like it does in Fl. And the entire south east 3 times every year?  Did they loose some board walks along rivers and the ocean just like we loose piers and boat docks every year. Did someone have their basement flooded?  Was there a random shingle misplaced on a few roofs?  What?”

I was taken back, is there some resentment for the North? Do Southeners think there better than us because they have more Hurricanes? Or does this person just lack the compassion to understand the pain or suffering of others?

Okay, so that may have been a random post I thought to myself, but I was mistaken. On a NYT web article about Hurricane Sandy peoples’ comments ranged from the absurd to just spiteful,  these are few of the comments I found:

“With all the warning there is no reason ANYONE should have died in this storm.”

“Agree.  OK, so the power’s gonna be out and the subways down and some coastal homes were destroyed by fire and flooding.  I don’t see bodies floating in the streets.” – Los Angeles, California

“As one who lost everything to hurricane Katrina, I can’t help but think of the many New Yorkers who responded to my grief when I returned to settle back in NYC with the words  “What did you expect?  You chose to live in New Orleans”   Or some variant thereof.   May you learn from your current suffering that there are limits to the control we have over our lives. ” – Austin, TX

I am sorry to inform you that we have a national crisis. No this time it’s not weather related. I think our hearts have become  hardened. We are unable to feel compassion for our fellow Countrymen’s suffering and pain. I’m sure some of you will blame it on the increase use of technology, the decrease of quality personal interactions, or  the lack of time we have to gain meaningful experiences. The only thing I know is that a person that lacks compassion will not get very far in life.

As our Prophet taught us that our neighbors have certain rights on us : “A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.” (Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

So if you feel that you are not being able to empathize with people or being able to be a compassionate person, pray to Allah that he softens your heart and gives you the ability to feel for other that are in pain and suffering. If you think that people that have been inflicted by this storm are being punished than this is a reminder from Imam Abdul-Azeez, director of the SALAM Islamic Center of Sacramento:

“Natural disasters cannot be God’s wrath of punishment for sin, for  they indiscriminately kill innocent people. We know Allah is just. How  can he punish some for the faults of others? The Quran says, in many  locations: “ no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s  burden”. In the hadith Qudssi, Allah says: “My worshippers, I have made  injustice and transgression forbidden with respect to myself, and made  it prohibited amongst you, so do not commit injustice!””

Imam Azeez points out the three reasons that we are inflicted with natural disaters

1- They are a test for us! Allah says: “And certainly we shall test  you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits,  but give glad tidings to those who exercise patience” (al-Baqarah)

2- They serve the purpose of bringing us closer to Allah (swt).

3- They bring us all together!

Let’s unite together and not pick geographic locality, religion, or other types of labels to stop us from  feeling  for people who are suffering as a result of hurricane Sandy, political unrest in Syria and countless other catastrophes that are happening worldwide.

 

My Hajj

Today is the day of Arafah and I am reminded of my own Hajj experience 5 years ago, when I was still a senior at the University of Connecticut. My parents were planning on going to Hajj, but when they asked me:

“Abeer do you want to go on Hajj with us?”

“What?! Wow!” I thought to myself.

I had never in a million years thought that I would be going on Hajj during college. So when they asked me as bad as it sounds, I was very hesitant in going. I felt there was a lot of pressure on me at that moment. Like a lot of people, I thought that I will have to be a different person once I come back. Am I ready to come back full force with a new perspective on life? What made things even worse was that my younger sister was eager to go!

But who could say no to Makkah? The best place on earth. After quick contemplation, I realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I may never get this chance ever again. I knew this would be the golden opportunity to clean my slate and jumpstart my relationship stronger with Allah SWT.

Going on Hajj was the best thing that ever happened to me.

We had made our intention of going to Hajj but our visas did not come until much later. Therefore the fear of not going to Hajj was lingering over us. I had a beautiful dream in which I saw the Kabah. I still don’t know the meaning of that dream, but at the time I assumed that it was a sign that Hajj was meant to be. The visas thankfully came a few days later.

We prepared for Hajj by listening to lectures, reading books, and taking part in Hajj workshops online. We had a long list of little essential things. During Hajj, the people are in ‘ihram’, which requires certain attire and specific rulings such as unscented soap/lotion and no trimming hair/nails until Hajj is over.

It is recommended for those who are going on Hajj that they should return any money or stuff they have borrowed. They must also mend ties with anyone whom they have caused pain or harm to. In our Hajj books we learned that our Hajj Journey would begin the second we leave our house to go to the airport.

We also read that throughout this journey we will be tested in various different ways. My sister and I reminded each other not to lose our patience with one another once our journey began. We got to the JFK airport and read our itinerary and realized that our flight from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah was leaving before we even got there. SubhanAllah, we knew our testing had begun!

On our flight to Jeddah everyone had come into ihram. For men their garments consist of two white sheets and for women they must dress modestly and basically meet the Islamic conditions of dress. I saw the beauty of being in ihram, everyone was wearing similar clothing. We were all equal, whether it be class, education, race or ethnicity, in Makkah we are all the same.

Everyone on the plane was going on Hajj and as Jeddah was coming closer we all started reciting the talbiyah loudly, the feeling was so beautiful and we all recited as one.

Throughout Hajj I felt a sense of unity, belonging and contentment. The eman rush, joy and peace you feel would void out the exhaustion, hardships and obstacles encountered on Hajj.

It was my first time seeing the Kabah and it looked surreal. This is the direction my prayer is made to, this is where it all started. Zamzam, Quran Revelation and Prophets. This. Was. It.

It was a miraculous feeling. My eman was booming, I felt the one on one connection with Allah SWT.

Estimated 3.4 million people made Hajj this year masha’Allah!

Makkah is a town that normally has a population of two million people, but during Dhul Hijjah close to 4 million people travel to Makkah therefore tripling the population. If a person were to get lost, then the chances of finding them would be nearly impossible. My family decided to keep one of the gates as a place to meet in case we were to get lost.

Props to the Saudi government for doing their best in making the Kabah so clean. They have their hourly cleanings, sweeps

The men mopping the floors

and mopping. One would think the bathrooms would be a mess, but surprisingly they are very clean. It is no easy task to clean a place of four million people.

After completing the Hajj I experienced firsthand the respect ‘Hajjis” got. There were signs all over Saudi congratulating people on Hajj, even Pizza Hut had a sign dedicated to Hajjis. We received free food boxes, gifts and fruits throughout our journey. Once we were leaving the airports we received boxed gifts from the Saudi government that contained kufis, books, tasbeeh and dates.

We took mini journeys throughout Hajj. We had to travel from the Haram to Mina, then Mina to Arafat, then Arafat to Muzdalifah, then back to Mina (with trips to Jamarat in between). Although these mini trips were only 2-4 miles apart, due to the drastic traffic increase, a 10 minute journey would end up taking hours and hours.

On our trip from Mina to Arafat, our bus got stuck in a major traffic jam. The air conditioning was not working, it was over 100 degrees and our clothes were drenched in sweat. A sweet man with a fruit cart on the side of the road came on the bus and gave all of us a tangerine. A fruit never tasted sweeter, I can’t imagine the amount of ajr that man must have received for quenching the thirst of that many muhajiroon (travellers).

Tents in Mina

Our tents in Mina were actually a lot of fun. Each group varies in terms of what they offer in their tents. They were air conditioned, we had sleeping bags, and there were about 35 women in our tent. We met three college girls, two of them were from New York and one from Georgia. A lot of the aunties in our group were telling my mom that my sister and I should have done Hajj once we got married with our husbands’ money. Count on Desi aunties to butt in with their unnecessary comments even on Hajj. Sigh, but the rules of patience must be implemented at all times.

Inside the Mina tents

In those two weeks I had no access to email, friends and obviously facebook. I left the dunya and felt at ease about it and did not miss it one bit.

I met people from every corner of the world. I saw red heads with freckles, massive organized groups of Indonesian and Malaysian people, African women in their Erika Badu style garb and my most favorite were the blond haired-blue eyed folks! It was diversity at its finest.

The people in your Hajj group became your family. You lived/ate/slept with them for so many days. You shared your food, medicines and everything else, gave comfort in times of hardships and most importantly created memories. One of my fond memories of Hajj is of Fajr all 3-4 million people were up and It felt as if there was a big party going on. People would be munching on breakfast, reciting Quran and praying tahajjud. Days began at Tahajjud.

There were countless lessons to be learned from Hajj, but the major thing that a person is forced to have is sabar. You come out of this trip learning to be more patient. I now realize that it is the most essential trait for a Muslim. We need patience when it comes to dealing with our parents, children and especially our spouses. In the darkest moments of our lives it is patience that helps us overcome hardships.

For me the Hajj was quite literally the experience of a lifetime. I remember when Hajj was completed a feeling of sadness came over me. It’s the same feeling one gets when ramadan is over, except a million times worse. I wondered if I would ever get the opportunity to come here again. It was heart-wrenching when I was leaving the Kabah and coming back to the distracting and shaytan-influenced dunya.

On top of all that, I had to hear questions like “Are you not going to back bite any more?…no more movies/music? Are you going to pray tahajjud from now on?”.

First of all we can never be ‘flaw-less’, we’re prone to sin. However, we should strive for better and constantly improve ourselves and repent for our mistakes. We need to make a conscious effort to further ourselves on the siratul-mustaqeem.

I feel blessed that Allah SWT considered me worthy enough to go to Makkah. I would have been a different person had I not gone. Also I am incredibly thankful to my parents who granted me this opportunity. At the time I didn’t realize how expensive and complicated it is to go on Hajj. I pray that Allah SWT blesses my parents, put barakah in their risq and grant them the highest level of Jannah-tul Firdaous, Ameen.

May Allah SWT accept my Hajj and allow me to visit Makkah many more times Ameen!
Something to miss Makkah about….

Cooking with a Slow Cooker

 

 

Dear friends,

The weather is beautiful, the kind of weather where you want to take advantage of the beautiful afternoons and then eat a hearty homecooked meal in the evenings to warm up your family as the temperature drops…

This is when you should take out the crock pot/slow cooker and let it do all the hard work for you. This way  you can come home to a wonderfully smelling kitchen with a warm dinner ready to be served.

Here are a few desi-ish  recipies that I found online. Take a look, try them and tell us what you think!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

http://cookingclassy.blogspot.com/2012/02/slow-cooker-chicken-tikka-masala.html

 

  Hyderabadi Curry:

 http://www.indianfoodrocks.com/2006/08/hyderabadi-marag-in-slow-cooker.html

Mint and Garlic Leg of Lamb :

 http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2012/10/19/leg-of-lamb-slow-cooker/

I wish I had these toys!

When I was a child I don’t recall having “Islamic” toys or even books.  I don’t remember ‘Quran Challenge” game or “Masjid Blocks”.  These days members of our Ummah have found numerous ways of incorporating Islam into children’s lives;  Whether it be fun, educational or crafty! (The caption tells you the company/site if you are interested in purchasing!)

1. Build a Masjid Game

Smart Ark

 2. Easy Doll Sewing Kit

Smart Ark

3. Bismillah Notebook

Smart Ark

4. Floor Puzzle

Little Big Kids

5. Scrapbooking Stuff

Silver Envelope

 

6. Islamic Manners

Muslim Toys and Dolls

 

7. Daily Dua Stickers

8. Mosque Building

Muslim Toys and Dolls

 

9.  Qibla Arrow

Muslim Toys and Dolls

 

10. Little Big Kids Clock(cool commercial for it)

 

 

A Preschooler’s Understanding of Hajj

Humza started in an Islamic preschool in our community almost a month ago. We had heard great things about it so we had registered him a year prior to him attending to ensure his spot (it fills up fast.)

During that year I was in Pakistan for an extended period and so I enrolled my eldest son in a nursery school in Karachi. My experience in the nursery was great. I was amazed at the professionalism of the teacher, the staff and the kinds of activities that the kids were exposed to. The facility although at a private residence was spotless, inviting and very kid friendly.

I came back from Pakistan and it was time for Humza to start school. I began to have doubts about my decision of enrolling Humza in ADAMS Radiant Heart Academy. The preschool was not as clean or inviting as the nursery in Karachi. My friends were astonished to hear that a Pakistani nursery was so amazing and I kept comparing the two institutions in my head.

Initially the great thing about ADAMS was that my son was extremely happy going to school everyday. He would wake up excited about going to school and would be very eager to pack his snack. Sometimes as punishment I would threaten him by saying, “If you don’t listen to me than I won’t take you to school tomorrow!” He would be in tears! But it wasn’t till a week ago that I saw the “magic” of an Islamic preschool,

Humza had been learning Surah Al-Fatiha for a few weeks but just last week he came home and just recited the whole surah with almost no mistakes. I was stunned. I had not done anything really to help him learn it except for reciting it with him a few times at night or on the way to school in the mornings. But it gets better, I had been thinking of Hajj and Eid-Al Adha but I didn’t even think to explain the significance  of both these events to my 3-year old.

I was too busy thinking about important things like:  What I’m going to wear on Eid? What should I cook for Eid? And Where is the party this Eid?!?

On Monday afternoon while quietly eating his vanilla yogurt Humza looked at me and said, “Momma, Hajj has mountains.”

Totally shocked in a good way, I nonchalantly answered “Oh really? What else is there in Hajj?

My three year old broke it down for me: “Hajj is where the Kabah is and there are mountains and their is Zam Zam which we can drink. We run between the mountains because their was a baby who had no food. The baby was kicking because he was hungry and his mommy was running back and forth to the mountains to find food.”

WHOA! I was blown away!!! How do the teachers explain these concepts while still keeping the kids engaged and happy? Hats off to them.

The ADAMS preschool is not the most well-equipped and certainly is not very glamorous but the school has a lot of heart. It has just been a month and  now I  realize why parents love Adams Radiant Heart academy, the teachers instill in their students the love for Allah (SWT) and all of Allah’s creations. It also makes life for parents easier by introducing the students to concepts that we may not have been able to explain. On the other hand it may be challenging  parents to open up their Islamic books so that they can keep up with their kids. I know I certainly need to!

10 Best Days

Growing up I didn’t know much about the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.  I knew about Hajj and that was about it.  Later on in my life I found out about the importance of fasting on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah. Recently I found out the importance of the 10 days.  I have included some notes taken from ‘I got it covered’ and IslamQA (link provided) and have also included a 10 minute lecture on the virtues of the 10 days.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “There is no deed that is better before Allah or more greatly rewarded than a good deed done in the (first) ten days of al-Adha.” He was asked: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” [Al-Daarimi, 1/357]

Thus, the ten days are better than all other days of the year, therefore, whoever is not able to go to Hajj should use this blessed time to complete even more righteous deeds than usual. These can include anything such as giving charity, honouring one’s parents, upholding the ties of kinship, and enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil. Fasting and remembrance are particularly recommended:
1. Fasting Nine days, especially on the Day of ‘Arafah
It is Sunnah for the Muslim to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, because fasting is one of the best of deeds. In a hadith qudsi, Allah says: “All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except fasting, which is for Me and I shall reward for it.” [Bukhari, 1805] The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Prophet used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah and the day of Ashura, and three days each month, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays.” [Abu Dawood, 2/462] The ten days of Dhul-Hijjah include Yawm al-`Arafah (the Day of `Arafah), on which Allah perfected His Religion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting the day of `Arafah expiates the sins of two years: the past one and the coming one.  Fasting on the day of Ashura expiates the sins of the past year.” [Muslim]
2. Remembrance
It is Sunnah to recite remembrances known as the takbeer, tahmeed, tahleel, and tasbeeh during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, saying these words out loud in the mosques, homes, streets and every place in which it is permissible to remember Allah.
Takbeer: Allahu akbar (God is most great)
Tahmeed: Al-hamdu Lillah (All praises be to God)
Tahleel: Laa ilaha ill-Allah (There is no god but Allah)
Tasbeeh: Subhaan-Allah (Glory be to God),
The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained how, “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” [Ahmad, 7/224]
Here is a detailed explanation on the virtues of the 10 days
http://islamqa.info/en/ref/1699/dhul%20hijjah

 

Please watch this short video by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi

 

Full Time Mom,Part Time Student

[Hazima lives part-time in Ashburn with her Husband and her 1 year old daughter, she is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering. For fun she likes to hang out with friends and  read. Her all time favorite  book is The Hunger Games.]

I grew up with a mom who took care of her four children, ran a daycare in her home with four more children, enlightened all other surrounding aunties to open a day care in their homes and struggled to attain a teaching degree on evenings and weekends. I think I may have somewhat of an idea on how I may want to raise my kids, and remain sane.

Over the years I’ve come across moms that exercise attachment parenting, read and follow all of Dr. Sears’ advice, the nonchalant and go-with-the-flow mamas, co-sleepers, ones that will nurse until their children suck the life out of them, the full-time working moms that are feeling guilty of dropping off their children at daycare, and those moms that will continue to produce in order to populate our earth.

Out of all these moms, there was one particular mom that amazed me the most. This woman was traveling between three states one state where her husband was doing his residency , the other state where her parents lived (free babysitting), and going to college in the third state. Did I mention that she was also performing clinical studies in the poverty-stricken countries of Sudan and Ghana for her Ph.D dissertation. Wow…how do you?…and why do you?…girlfriend you are CRAZY!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” okay I didn’t read it, but I had the app on my iPhone. That counts right? But I never read up on what the first year would be like, nor did I bother to ask. I thought,“hey I partied till the AMs in college (with sisters of the MSA of course) and pulled all-nighters for my exams. This no sleep after you have a kid I can manage.”

Boy did I get hit by a bus, banged in the head, and circles under my eyes! Gas? Colic? Diaper Rash? Ear/Throat Infections? Awkward nursing times? All in all while traveling 200 miles back and forth each week to visit the in-laws? No thanks! This kid can cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get over it!

I felt as if my life had been compensated for, 24/7/365, someone change my name and move me to Wisconsin. I don’t know why I just chose that state. Seems like somewhere you’d want to go when you’re running away from your mama duties?

I felt as if I was the only person in the world dealing with all of this. My husband used to say; women have been doing this since Hawa (radhi allahu anha)’s time, what’s your beef? I was a first-timer that was my beef! So I decided I needed to do something that I could always give myself a pat on the back for. Something that was just for me, so I decided to pursue my master’s degree.

It’s not easy and its extremely tiring to watch lectures for your Master’s program into the wee hours of the night while your kid is soundly asleep and all you want to do is put your feet up. But I love the schedule and the sense of accomplishment I am getting in the process of having weekly lectures to watch, submitting homework, and studying for midterms and finals.

I would encourage moms to explore the many opportunities of attaining a bachelor’s, associate’s, or masters online in the comfort of your PJs. Besides certified universities there are numerous Qur’an classes, Tajweed and Tafseer classes that may be for you. There are many established institutes out there like, Bayyinah, Qurtuba and Al-Maghreb.

I believe all moms should do something that challenges them. Pick up a pottery class, an aerodynamics for engineers class, or a life of the Prophets class. You may just fill that tiny void in your heart, and be a happier and more fulfilled Mom and Wife. I’m not saying everyone drop your kids with your husbands and hop to Africa, but it’s amazing to see what we can be capable of.  Every mama deserves the chance!

 

 

 

For my Baby Sister


My baby sister is 18 today MashAllah. I’m so happy for her but at the same time I’m sad, here’s why, I got married and moved away from my sister when she was only 12. I have not been there for her when she went through many of her growing up experiences and as time wore on I grew busy in my life and never made a very conscious effort to keep in touch with her or be there for her when she may have needed me. Although  I love her I’m not sure she knows how much she means to me, So Shifa I dedicate this post to you.

Looking back I still remember the day Ami and Abu brought you home from the hospital. Before you arrived and mom was in labor and  Dadi Jaan (our grandmother) came to me and Saher (my middle sister) and  told us to make special dua for a brother. We didn’t want a pesky a little boy so we silently rebelled and instead prayed to Allah for a baby sister, Allah could not have given me a more beautiful sister. Shifa you arrived October 9th 1994 to a house with two adoring older sisters. We would linger around your crib and  keep checking on you to see if you were finally ready to play with us. The funny thing is that you kept us waiting a long time, it was 2 months before you decided to open your eyes , it was  love at  first  sight and we knew there were fun times ahead.

Shifa, you were a living doll to us. We would dress you up and create elaborate stories in which you were the bride and you would sit for hours in the position that we had placed you in. We would drape you in mom’s fancy dupatta’s and  layer necklaces and bangles and then put all our stuffed animals around you, trying to recreate a mehndi scene in which you were the bride and the stuffed animals were our guests. You are always such a sweet tempered child and I honestly can’t even remember you doing anything wrong! As you grew older you started different activities such as gymnastics and girl scouts, you easily made friends and were always going to different friends birthday parties and extracurricular activities. You were always a reader and were very imaginative, you would play with your toys and create songs about different things. In fact I remember that there was this art contest at Publix and you entered your drawing and you won first prize! you were always very creative and had a knack for art even at such a young age.

Do you remember the one birthday when we were a part of the National Conference for Community Justice walk and then we went ice skating. It was such a fun day and I think it may have been one of the last birthdays that we celebrated in America. We had then moved to Karachi, Pakistan and thus began a new chapter in your life. It was a difficult adjustment trying to fit into a new culture and a new way of life. You entered the Foundation School and began your journey in the Pakistani Education system. In the first few weeks I would pick you up from school and I remember trying to scan the crowd for you, everyone looked the same! It was so different from America, all these desi girls in identical uniforms. We shared stories on the way home and I listened with amusement as you related how the students would be jumping on desks and how the  teachers lacked control of their classrooms. I saw you struggle on an academic level, you were being exposed to subjects like Urdu and Islamic Studies that you had never taken before. The other more traditional subjects were also taught entirely differently than what you had been used to back home in the U.S. You started taking tutions and learned first hand what it meant to be a student in Pakistan. Socially you had a nice group of friends, many of whom you have still kept up with to this day.

One of my best memories is when you and Saher came to visit me a few months after my wedding. We really got to spend a lot of quality time and I was so thrilled to have you guys by my side as we went up and down the East Coast. Shifa there’s been so much that you have accomplished and its unbelievable the things that you have done and your wide range of interests from learning German and traveling to Germany, your volunteering with different social institutions, your essays being published nd your amazing artwork. Shifa you are an amazingly talented woman who excels at everything you have layed your hands on (okay maybe not the Urdu subject) You are an extremely hard worker but most of all you are one of the most caring and loving person I have ever met. If you don’t believe me ask Humza!

So Shifa please forgive me for not knowing the details of the last 6 years  of your life.  You are and always will be my baby sister so even if im not there with you or don’t express it openly you are one of the dearest people to me and I really miss not being there with you to celebrate the beautiful person you are. May Allah bless you, make you amongst the righteous and make you the leader of the pious people as well as the coolness for our parents eyes – Ameen

60 Miles for Cheesecake

The hubby (and from this point on will always be known as ‘the chief’) announced that Friday evening will be date night.  After much contemplation we decided to go to Cheesecake Factory.We dropped Eesa off at my mother’s and by the time we reached CCF it was 9:30 PM.  I was so tired and was willing to skip CCF to go to bed.  My My, 9:30…only 9:30 on a Friday night, the night was young yet I felt old and ready to pass out. All of a sudden I had a blast from the past.

I thought back 5 years ago when a couple of friends and I had the sudden urge and craving for cheese cake. The closest one was 60 miles away. It was already 9:30 PM, did we want to drive an hour plus just for cheese cake?

HECK YA, the night was young and so were we. We reached CCF 15 minutes before it closed. I grabbed a slice of original cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberries on the side. We drove back home (without eating anything at CCF) and then popped the movie ‘Wicker Park’ while we savored our cheese cake.

The movie ended at 3 AM and there was no point of going to bed when Fajr was just a few hours away, thus we partied the night away (the halal way of course duh!).

So what’s the point of this post? Well its rather interesting how a person goes through many phases in their life.  Whether it be fashion, hobbies, habits or adventures, we all go through these changes.

What causes these phases? Maturity level? Life and the circumstances surrounding it? People? Experiences?

Perhaps a little bit of everything.  Each phase of your life has its own sweetness (and bitterness).  Now my idea of sweet is to take a two hour nap on any given Sunday.  The amount of relaxation, energy and power a nap gives me is indescribable. As a matter of fact just thinking about it puts a smile on my face.

I wouldn’t say these changes are for better or for worse, it is just a natural transition that a human being adapts to throughout their lives.

It is very similar to fashion I suppose. When bell-bottoms were in style, they were the coolest things around, now they look so ugly.  Remember short kameez were the Pakistani fashion? Now they look hideous!

I guess same rule applies for Deen, with coming days we should consistently strengthen our relationship with Allah SWT.  Although our eman may encounter highs and lows, but we should always make a conscious effort in making it stronger.

For example, I used to argue a lot (the chief might think I still do) but I came across this hadith

“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]

If not arguing means a home built in Paradise, then so be it insha’Allah! Similarly, I hope I can make other changes that can benefit me in the hereafter insha’Allah ta’Allah.

So would I drive an hour to CCF now? HECK NO! I wouldn’t even drive 10 minutes, actually I don’t even like their cheese cake anymore, haven’t had it in years.

I can still party the night away, but only after my two hour nap.

Something to take a look back about…

Don’t Sweat It!

I’ve never worked out. I mean there were these two years in high school that I ran track, but I wasn’t even close to being an athlete. Now the whole family has joined the gym and we’re trying to lead a more active lifestyle.

The gym that I’ve joined is a lot like high school, the lockers, the basketball court and bleachers. I even sensed that awkwardness like the first day of class when I sheepishly walked into the yoga class. I had no idea there were thousand different yoga’s offered; Hot Vinyasa Yoga, Fitness Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, oh and I almost forgot Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga!

People high-fived each other as they walked into the classroom and were doing all kinds of warm up stretches which I pretended to ignore while I cooly hung out in the back. There were definite cliques and friendships that have been established. These women “the cool” ones were on top of their game. They were dressed the part with their black and pink Nike’s, black fitness pants and had an attitude like high school cheerleaders.

I was not intimidated like I may have been in high school or junior high but a part of me wanted to fit in and I suddenly wished I would have dressed the part a little better. I was wearing a washed out old tunic and these gray workout pants, I was most definitely not matching in anyway. I had even forgotten to wear the ankle socks and instead I was wearing old school crew socks that made me stand out even more.

As our teacher walked in and dimmed the lights I took a sigh of relief, at least nobody would notice my faded kurti and my unironed hijab (I need to take my own advice) The class began first with some light stretching and breathing – the teacher was incredibly nice and assured us that this was not a competitive sport but a place to relax, unwind and focus on ourselves.

I totally enjoyed the class and loved being able to be child-free for the time I spent in the gym.  The only challenge now is trying to find some modest but trendy workout clothes. So I contacted my blogger friend Farrah Khan of Greater Lengths, her blog is focused entirely on helping Muslim women create a modest and trendy wardrobe.  She has put together an post on modest workout wear! Check it out, I’ll be doing some shopping too, but in the meantime I’ll start by wearing my ankle socks, deodrant and bringing my desi Swag to the gym even if it is in my Cotton Kurtis.