Domestic Help in Third World Countries

As an American Pakistani there is this unique connection that I think many of us have with the country of Pakistan. This connection  gives us an opportunity to experience Pakistan as a local when we visit.  We are privy to observe the workings of the Pakistani society and are exposed to the subtleties of the culture which may not be as obvious to outsiders.

One of the most obvious and glaring society difference between America and Pakistan  is the domestic workers that are in most houses. The Knaucker range from the household manager who controls the gate of the house to the drivers and the women who come to brush and wipe down the floors. Depending on the family and the households there can at times be more domestic help in the house than people of the family.

When we would visit our family in Karachi the cleaning lady would take care of making our beds and tidying up the room. It was a foreign concept and it felt really wrong having some lady clean up after us. That was about 13 years ago…fast forward to last year and I was the one asking my mom to help me find a little girl who could help me look after Hassan while I was in Karachi.

The girl who came to be my lifesaver was  known as  “Baji”  she was the daughter of the cleaning lady that worked in our house. Her name was Shaista and she was an very well groomed 13 year old with a serious face and  a beautiful smile.  The first  day she  came I introduced her to the kids, set her schedule and decided her salary – She would work 6 days a week from 9-5:30 and would be paid RS 2,000 a month. This is approximately $20 a month.

It was the first time I had my own personal domestic help. It was confusing at first, I wasn’t sure what tasks to give her and how to tell her exactly what I wanted her to do without sounding bossy or mean. After a few days  she became familiar with the kids schedule and she started asking me things lik : Should I feed the kids a snack now? And  should I wash the kids bottles now? She was a smart girl and the kids loved her. Soon she was  handling the kids responsibilities and I was the one asking her things like do you think their tired now? Should we put them to nap? It was a gradual process but we tag teamed and got the work done together. I would  tell her to take naps when the kids napped and would get her treats when I got something for the kids. It was all going good until the day that I took “Baji” into the new Dolmen Mall that had opened a few months ago in Clifton.

It was a fancy mall with international brands and an crowd that was  dressed to impress. Initially I really enjoyed visiting this mall with “Baji” in tow handling the stroller. She was wide-eyed and impressed with this mall. She  experienced her very first escalator ride and soon mastered it with grace and poise. But I felt bad, here is an 13 year old who is experiencing parts of Karachi that she may have never seen before, worse she didn’t fit in, it was obvious to anyone that she was in fact the kids maid. Would this be damaging to her self-worth, her pride, would these joy trips to the mall be more detrimental to this teenagers life by making her feel inferior? Is it fair to take introduce a girl to a realiity that will most probabaly never be hers? Oh man the questions kept coming and I felt more and more confused.

I kept these thoughts to myself but I did consciously made an effort to not take her with me. I would leave Hassan to nap at home and would ask Baji to watch him while I had my fill of the Glamarous new mall.  While I never really resolved this issue my dad who  was working at an corporate office told me how he helped a young man get a job, the man’s job was to sit in the elevator and push buttons for people all day. Another man’s job he told me was to sit at the copier and make copies and deliver them to his seniors. Small and insignificant jobs such as these can mean the difference between starvation and eating for these mens families. Unfortunately if we don’t employ people than these people will resort to illegal or corrupt ways and so I justified employing a 13 year old girl so that I can  ensure that she was safe, well-treated and well-fed at least for the duration of the time she was under my roof.

Is that right? Can their be a way of ending children working? I’m not sure, but I do know that having domestic help is a constant juggling act. At times I had to be firm with Baji, Other times I had to remeber that she was just a kid but above all I had to remember to be thankful  to the young girl with the beautiful smile.

What do you think about the domestic help in Pakistan?  Any experiences or comments? Please Share.

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!

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

Real Women Cook

Since when is frozen foods and take out better than home cooked meals? I recently went to a gathering and was asked how often I cook, I gave my response shamefully (thinking it was not enough) “Three to four times a week.” I said,  the person responded “Oh man! 3-4 times? man thats crazy, you must get so tired!” with this look of pity.

If this sort of response was coming from an unmarried or even NEWLY married girl then I would completely understand.

I have to admit for the longest time I fought the housewife title, I refused to give in to the everyday chores and fall into the trap of cooking every day (not to mention I sucked at it!). Alhumdulilah I grew out of that thinking and became mature. The only people to look down upon housewives are women themselves.   I think our generation of ladies don’t want to end up as a typical housewife.  Many of us may think our mothers had it hard or hated what they did.

I used to think cooking was a chore for my mother, but I’ve realized she truly enjoys it.  Through her food she expresses her creativity, passion and love.  When we were sick she made the best soup, when we were leaving for a trip she made her famous pulao, each event or situation was linked with her food item.  There was no skipping or taking the easy way out for them, they wanted their meals to be absolutely p.e.r.f.e.c.t.

After marriage I have gained a whole new appreciation for good food, cooking is indeed an art.  I underestimated the effort put into it,  behind good food is a talented woman.

Don’t get me wrong, I work part-time, but working woman or not, a mother/wife is a homemaker.  Allah SWT has blessed women with the ability to provide warmth, love and comfort. Think back to what made your parents’ home? I think of laughter, joy, TLC and and and….FOOD! Till this day I get excited when I go to my mom’s house because I’m so eager to eat her food. It’s a whole other story how I always end up gaining weight when I’m in Maika (mom’s house).

Sadly, these days homes are missing the food aspect.  I don’t believe tv dinners, frozen foods and eating out can ever replace what our mothers did for us.

It’s not about your class or education, it just a natural thing to do. I recently came across a Pakistani person who said “My mom is a working woman so when we go home we have to figure out our own dinner and fend for ourselves.” I thought that was so depressing. The lack of dinner isn’t just about not having food, it just gives a home an empty feeling.

My aunt is a doctor and is working insane hours, however every weekend she cooks about 5-6 dishes to last her a week. In my book she is a super woman; She knows her children depend on her for a good meal. Anyone can pop in a microwave meal or whip up a sandwich, but it takes a real woman to cook up a meal for her family.

For women who really find it difficult to squeeze out time for cooking, do it on the weekends. Have your husband help and make it into a bonding activity.  If your husband is cooking, I would give him a ton of compliments so it encourages him to do it again!

The dinner table isn’t just a place for food but it is a time for bonding, discussion and crucial family time.  Days are discussed, problems are solved and of course food critiquing is done.
Don’t feel discouraged if a meal or two…or a dozen go wrong, practice makes perfect! (although I feel like I’m stuck in the practicing phase!)

Ladies whether it be once a week or every day, we should uphold that tradition of cooking. It isn’t hurting our feminism, it isn’t degrading, its an art our mothers have mastered and we should too!

Something to cook about….

What’s Under Your Abaya?

It’s been two weeks since school has started for my eldest son, Humza. The routine is set and I have a better grasp on our schedule. However I feel bad about one thing in particular and that is the lack of effort that I put in getting dressed nicely in the mornings. My son goes to an Islamic school and so its very convenient for me to just throw on an abaya, drape over a head scarf and drop him off. I’ve never been the one to be very conscious of what I wear on a daily basis, but as my schedule gets busier and busier its just getting really bad I’m almost scared that someone is taking secret footage and soon I’ll find myself on some reality show!

The problem is not the abaya itself but in my case it is the laziness and halp hazard attitude that is creeping up in the way I dress on a daily basis. In conversation with friends and other moms I have heard that they too use the abaya as an excuse to be in pajamas while dropping off their kids and doing other errands. The abaya is loose, modest and covers the extra weight you may have gained. But I think that I and many other girls are doing a disservice to themselves by using the abaya as an excuse to be lazy and not take care of ourselves.

I have seen women who wear the abayas as part of their everyday wear who wear it elegantly and with beautiful headscarves and look very put together. I on the other hand wear the abaya like a sweatshirt  which is easy, convenient and requires virtually no effort. The problem with this is that it becomes a cop out for me to not dress up nicely even when i’m at home with my family. I have two young kids and  sometimes I wonder if it is even worth dressing up nicely because they will stain my shirt in five seconds anyways.

So why should I care about what’s under my abaya and also care about how I look. If im wearing an abaya with pj’s  then it looks sloppy and a hijab thrown over my head tucked under my chin also looks incredibly messy.  As Muslims we should take care of our bodies, be clean and look put together. Whether we wear an abaya or not we should look our best and utilize the clothes that Allah has blessed us with. It doesn’t have to be the most trendiest outfit (then again why not?) but we should take pride in the way we look and carry ourselves. Also as Muslim women who dress modestly we have an added responsibility whether we’re aware of it or not.  People see us and form an image. If they see a Muslim women wearing an beautifully ironed abaya and a neatly wrapped hijab they will see a confident beautiful Muslim Women which is going againt the image portrayed by the media. As Muslim women we are easily recognized and become ambassadors of our faith therefore it is essential to take pride in how we dress.

Anther thing that I am guilty of  is that the abaya gives me enough room so that I don’t necessarily feel bad about the flabby arms or the expanding wasit line. If that weight gain is not really obvious to me than that makes me  feel more content and doesn’t give me a reason to excersice and control my diet or improve my lifestyle. In other words the abaya has become an excuse for some women like myself to let ourselves go and not focus on our apperance and without realizing it were using religious modesty as the excuse.

I think as women we all want to look our best and be attractive but we let those things take a backseat when we have kids and other responsibilites. We should remember that dressing up for our spouses is a form of Ibadah and is a very important part of our marriage. For the outside world we dress modestly but at home our husbands see a different side of us. Most of our husbands are working in various corporate offices in which they interact with women who are dressed and made up from head to toe. Therefore as their wife we should be dressed nice and greet our husbands with a warm smile.

As Muslim women we understand that our beauty is for our family to see, but that being said we are also required to have a pleasant and neat apperance for when we are in public. So whether your an casual abaya wearer like me or a daily abaya wearer, lets take those extra minutes tommorow morning to see what are you wearing under your abaya?

 

 *Featured Photo from http://www.emaan.com.au/store/index.php/children/girls/abayas/formal/rashida-abaya-green.html

 

 

 

 

But There’s no Costco in the City

On Monday I went to go visit my bestie in the city, I walked into her cool artsy studio in the district with my 2 year old in tow. Bundles of magazines, a cheerful Buddha and a beautiful painting that her grandmother had painted were on the side of the wall.

We caught up on each others weekend, scanned family pictures on Facebook and then got ready to walk to the zoo. I was happily sitting on the couch sipping my chai but my friend insisted that we walk. She is very focused on health and fitness and for fun likes to walk. I have a hard time understanding why I was being forced to walk when I had just made a comfy warm spot on the couch.  I reluctantly agreed and we grabbed cereal in a ziplock for Hassan and began our walk.

I saw several moms walking with their strollers down the busy sidewalk  and I turned to my friend and said with gratitude “I love living in the ‘burbs.'” She looked back at me surprised and asked why?

I stammered and said  there’s no Costco in the city! Where would I get diapers from? Other thoughts flashed through my head… Where would I park my car (parking is so difficult in the city), who would be my childs pediatrician?

She calmly responded to these absurd  concerns by saying “Saman there are doctors in the city,”  and  she added you wouldn’t have to park because you can walk everywhere or use the metro.

I wasn’t convinced,  “How would I walk everywhere and what about my double stroller, it won’t fit in the Metro!” She replied saying that I  would just need to change my double stroller so that its the stackable kind.

“Didn’t everyone want to move to the burbs when raising a family?” I thought to myself, why do I have to explain to my friend that the city is not a place to raise kids. But what seems like a very obvious choice in my head doesn’t hold true for my friend and many other people.  The appeal for my friend was about accessibility, she wanted to skip the whole loading the kids in the car process  and just walk to places in the city. She thought that the city lifestyle is a more active lifestyle with lots of more opportunities to explore area parks and take advantage of the diverse cultural experiences. I agree with her I feel that kids would be exposed to many more different types of people and  would be engaging with people on the street, in the metro and even the elevators of their own apartment buildings.

I’m not sure I would be able to appreciate raising a family in the city because I feel that the most important thing for me is an active Mosque community.  Things like an Halal meat store and a Pakistani grocery store would be very neccesary and I have become a total suburbanite with my easy access parking to walmart, my costco membership and my kids love for Chuck E. Cheese.

While the city life is not for us  I now realize that what seems like a hassle to me (living in the city with young kids) is loved and valued by many people. It’s about changing perspective and adjusting to the surroundings around you. I think there are pros and cons to raising kids in the city but I think that is something that each family has to decide for themselves.

The city kids may not have easy access to suburban malls  and Chuck E. Cheese but if my friend decides to have kids Im sure her kids would be very well acquainted with the zoo, the Smithsonian Museums and without a doubt will be much cooler than me.

 

 

Jummah with the Kids

8:15- I wake up and  reach for my iphone to check  facebook  (I mean the news)  I am reminded by many friends status’s that today is Jummah. Inspirational verses from the Quran and updates such as “TAIF” – Thank Allah Its Friday – get me excited for Jummah!

 

8:30 A.M – “Wouldn’t it be great if I could keep Jummah as a special time to bond with my boys?” I think to myself.

8:45 -In my mind the scene unfolds like this: Friday morning after taking a nice shower and wearing my new Lawn shalwaar Kameez my squeaky clean children put on their Kufis and we arrive at the mosque. My angelic kids first listen to the  Khutbah and then pray besides me.  They then go off to play with their friends at the playground. Afterwards we go to the Rice and Kabob where my kids  gobble down the food while I talk to them about the lessons we’ve learned in the khutbah.

9:45 –  Reality beckons… Humza is being chased  by his younger brother with a wooden spoon, there is alot of screaming, THUD, Hassan falls, CRYING ensues…Simultaneously corresponding with the crying is the pressure cooker’s whistle (PHEWWW)  letting me know that i’m on my 10th whistle which means my aloo gosht (beef and potato stew) is ready.

11:00 – Breakfast is done, fights over, thinking of having a cup of chai and then getting the into kids the shower, this is the point I re-check all the ADAMS times and locations and make a game plan. GAME TIME ON!

More often than not my dream that I  had at 8:45 every Jummah never makes it to fruition possibly because my kids are never squeaky clean and who really would have the time to iron a lawn shawar kameez?

I think about all the preparations that I will have to make to get to Jummah and ensure that my kids last an hour without a major meltdown

1) Snacks – cereal, goldfish, chips, fruits, juice

2) Wipes and napkins – Sounds basic but with all the snacks and choas you need them!

2) Cars – I always think im not going to take a car because I want them to learn to self entertain themselves, also they end up fighting or losing their cars. However based on past experiences, I’ve learned that all the other boys always bring some sort of car/toys and that causes even a bigger problem because then my kids hover over the other kids toys.

To be honest its a draining expereince but still every Jummah I have an internal struggle of why I should just be extra patient and head over to Jummah. Here are some reasons why:

Family Bonding Time

When I was growing up, going to Sunday school was the most annoying thing to do. Waking up early to catch up on Sunday school Homework such as the last minute essays on the importance of the five pillars was not exactly memorable. What was memorable was the whole chaos surrounding it. My mother would yell to get us in the car, we would be trying to find our scarves and inevitably there would be a discussion about the clothes we were wearing to the mosque and the reasons why next time we should just wear shalwar kameez… can anyone relate?

Your kids will start school and you won’t really have the option of spending Jummah with them, so bite the bullet pack the snacks and toys and throw those kids in the car!

Getting Kids familir with the Mosque environment

Believe  it or not the mosque is a perfect place to take younger kids. It’s an open space they can wander if they get bored and there are not many dangerous things around. That being said many people are concerned that their kids will disturb other peoples Jummah. That is a valid concern but if we don’t expose our kids to the mosque environement and the rules of the place then how can we expect them to learn?  Moms be prepared to take your kids out of the prayer area if they are having a melt down, but otherwise don’t worry, kids will make noises and they will wander.

Spiritual Benefits

Jummah Jihad is what comes to my mind when I think of getting my two boys ready for Jummah. Before you flip out the Jihad is the struggle that I have every Friday morning to just pray at home versus going to the actual Mosque. Althought it may be spiritually more rewarding to pray at home while the kids are napping, if you are going in with the intention of making your kids familiar with the Mosque and instilling in them the love and importance of Allah (SWT) then you will inshAllah get rewarded for that.

Social Benefits

There are social benefits for  both the mothers and the kids. Mothers can meet other women, correspond play dates and learn about other things that are going on at the mosque. Going to Jummah cuts the “routine” and allows for mothers to get  dressed and read their Jummah prayer in congregation. It also gives them the opportunity to enjoy their friday afternoon with friends or enjoy a nice lunch. A breath of fresh air and getting out of a routine does wonders for a mother!

Althought I write all this and I believe in all the positive aspects of taking your child to Jummah, I know that its hard getting out for Jummah and sometimes we have had negative experinces that may cause mothers with young kids to hesitate going. Lets try to motivate each other and make it to Jummah with our kids, inshallah may Allah reward all the mothers who go the “extra” mile!

Do you have any Jummah Experiences? Positive or Negative? Advice please share!

 

 

 

 

Connecting our Kids to Nature

I’m not a nature person, if anything  i’m more of a city person or better yet, who am I kidding… i’m a lazy suburban person, yup that’s more like it! The way I see it I have two alter egos, these are reflected in my cars; The Toyota Prius or the Toyota Sienna (minivan y’all for the single women out there)

The Prius side of me is cool, environmentally savy ( this means I basically Recycle, thats it) and creative…did I mention i have a blog?

The Sienna is like the comfortable pair of pajamas that I like to lounge in but would change if someone was to come over, I love the mini van its so easy to access the kids car seats, their stuff and is a smooth ride.

But  I want to get away from the lazy suburban side and push myself to be more connected with the outdoors. I want my kids to love and appreciate nature and inshallah with that they will learn about Allah and his creations. I was watching the MBC documentary on Umar (RA –  The third caliph) in which I learned that he was a shepard and enjoyed the countryside. I  thought of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and of the times he spent where he disconnected himself from modern conveniences and went into the Cave of Hira to have moments of clarity and reflection. Also I was reminded of the prophet Ibrahim and his observation of the moon and the sun which led him to Allah.

We live in such artificial environments with temperature controls and technology that it is difficult for me to disconnect and just get away from the cycle of these environments. I always am thinking of the load of laundry that I can put in or the dishes that are waiting in the sink, but I’ve decided that inshallah I will make spending time outside a priority and will try to incorporate reading Asr (afternoon prayer) out on my deck.

I’m in awe of people who take time to garden and who live active lifestyles and for leisure go hiking and biking, I want to get to that point, but im going to take small steps first! Such as sitting on  the deck and the backyard and appreciating the wonders of the sky and breathing in the evening air.

If I don’t do it then the kids won’t either. It’s easier to let the kids learn about nature in front of the television but that will not help them build a connection. I want them to run barefoot in the grass, touch the dirt, pick up leaves, and use their imaginations. So far its been great we’ve been spending time outside and Humza brings me little flowers (a sweet thing his aunt Cate taught him to do.)

I am scared of bugs and and I had passed that fear to Humza too, but yesterday Humza called me and said he wanted to show me something and I followed him to the window where he bent down and said, “See Momma a spider and its web.” I asked him if he was scared and he replied back saying that no the spider was his friend. I was so pleased and I thought to myself that I will have to tell him the story of the spider and the spider web that hid the Prophet Muhammad from the Quryash.

These are exactly the types of discoveries and friends that I want my kids to have. I want to replace Big Bird on Sesame street with the red robin that comes to our tree. Replace the purple dinosaurs with the green little lizards and hopefully engage in discussions and play which are educational and fun. Hey maybe next year I’ll even start a garden like my friend Ruku!

http://107.170.109.15/2012/08/09/gardening-with-ruku-discover-the-fun-in-your-backyard/

 

 

The Man I Miss, My Dada Jaan

 

The one person that would be the most excited about me starting Biscuits and Banarsi would be my late Dada Jaan. That’s one reason why it’s been so difficult for me to write about him.

He would probably comment on my posts and would love that I posted the kids pictures, but if I asked what he thought he would probably say “Good, but you can write something better.”  I would chuckle at his response and would make sure I got a compliment out of him!

Shams Quraeshi was a talented man with a a passion for learning. An avid reader, my grandfather was known as the Godfather of the books business in Karachi, Pakistan. He instilled in us that love for books from a very young age.  He bought me some of the best books that I have read including the Famous Five series and  books by Enid and Grid Blyton that he would get from the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany.

Almost every year my Dadi Jaan and Dada Jaan would visit our family. My Dadi Jaan would be dressed in a shalwar kameez with a shawl draped lightly over her head and Dada Jaan would be wearing Clark shoes and a suit with a muffler. As soon as my sisters and I spotted them, we would run into their arms. We were eager to help unpack his suitcase because we knew at the bottom of it were all the goodies. Usually  this meant,  delicious Cadbury chocolate from England and the latest books from his most recent book fair visit.  Dada Jaan would waste no time and open all his suitcases the day he arrived.

If I was to share all the memories I have of my grandfather it would fill up this entire blog. From him trying different ways to lure me into learning my multiplication tables (he was so disappointed that I was allowed to use a calendar) to watching martial arts Kung fu movies for hours together. He would put up with my whims and would buy me things that I absolutely did not need, like my first Tweety watch from the Warner Bros. Store.

The one thing that means the world to me is that my eldest son got to spend time with his great-grandpa, even though it was for a short time.  I am overjoyed knowing that both people who I love dearly loved each other just as much, if not more!

My grandpa would skype with the kids everyday and many times I would ask him to virtually babysit. Other times we would chat about everyday things including what I should cook and what he was watching on television. I miss those conversations.

I feel blessed that I was able to spend a few months before my Dada Jaan went back to his Creator. He lived to be  82 years old Masha’Allah, it was hard letting go of such a special man, but his health was deteriorating.  When my eldest aunt (Bari Phupo Jaan) broke the news to the family, she said “Allah has shown his mercy to Daddy, now he is in a better place.”

Innalillahi wa Inalihi rajaun

Love you forever,
Saman