Aunties in Denial

Say salam to Abeer Khala”, a 1.5 year old came and said salam to me.  At the time it was only my third time meeting this cute (but still random) kid and I had known his mother for hardly a month, yet I became a khala.  (Khala: title given to your mother’s sister in the Urdu language)

How do you become a khala?

1)   Mother’s sister(s)

2)   In the South Asian culture, your mother’s female cousins are also known to be ‘khalas’

3)   In my book my children also call my close long lasting friends khalas as well.

 For that 1.5 year old kid I didn’t fall into any of those categories.  So why call me khala?

 I’m noticing this growing phenomenon of girls my age (ahem late 20s) referring to themselves and their friends/acquaintances as khalas to their children.  I find this  extremely annoying.

 Khala is a major title, growing up we would always hear that your khala is like your mother.  I used to think this is just another one of those Desi notions that probably stemmed from Hindu traditions.

 WRONG.

 This notion actually has Islamic roots, our beloved Prophet (PBUH) gave maternal aunts a high status.

“A man came to Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and said: ‘O Prophet! I have committed a major sin. Do you think that I can atone for it?’

He asked: “Do you have a mother living?”

The man answered in the negative.

The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) asked the man: “Do you have a maternal aunt living?”

The man answered in the positive. Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said to him: “Be good and kind to her.” (Tirmidhi 1904)

 “The sister of the mother has a status similar to the mother.” (Bukhari #2552)

 After learning that I realized that our Khalas should be given great honor and respect.  Hence the reason why I think to toss around the word ‘Khala” for any other average jo-lie, seems almost degrading to the title.

I think the reason why we end up resorting to khala is because we have a problem with the word Aunty.

Our generation of folks growing up here have given ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ this comical yet negative connotation.

We think Aunties just like to sit around gossip, watch dramas (or create them) and drink chai.  Well, I try to avoid gossip, and I love my Pakistani dramas BUT I don’t drink chai.  I guess I’m a semi-aunty, but nonetheless still an a-u-n-t-y.

Even if I didn’t do any of those things, I’m a married woman with children and their friends will and should refer to me as aunty.  I don’t take offense to that and neither should any other person.

I would not want my child calling an acquaintance ‘khala’ for no reason.  It may just be a title but to me that word means a lot.

If my close friend’s children refer to me as khala then I take it as an obligation to try to live up to it.  To make it a point to ask about their well being, their new hobbies and to acknowledge big milestones in their lives.  I wouldn’t do that for just any kid.

Granted, some of my “aunties” have over time become more than aunties (but less than Khalas).  I still refer to them as aunties but would treat them with love and more respect simply due to the nature of my relationship with them.

Aunty is not a bad word nor does it mean you’re the ‘old’ ‘nosy’ and ‘annoying’ lady from the community whose going around causing havoc.

There are a number of cool aunties out there and I plan on being one of them insha’Allah, or I just might be a typical  aunty in denial

$100 for Honesty

As a child I distinctly remember my parents emphasizing honesty.  I’m not just talking about ‘no lying-always tell the truth’ type of honesty, but the type that’ if you find money on the street to go and donate it’ type.

However, there was one particular time where I was especially tempted to fall into the trap of shaytaan.  This trap was highly appealing due to the monetary value involved.

I was a college student and my roommate was going to the mall.  I had asked her to return something for me at The Limited and in return I told her they would give me a $50 store credit.

Once she came home she handed me the receipt along with the gift card.  I read over the receipt and instead of a $50 credit, it said $150 on it.

Bare in mind I was a college student and $150 was considered a jackpot for me.  Actually, its still a jackpot.

So I called the number on back of the giftcard and yep it was true, I had a good  $150 to spend.

As I was surfing the Limited site, Jiminy Cricket (Pinnochio’s conscious) dropped by.  I forgot to mention it was the month of Ramadan therefore Jiminy Cricket was more like a Jiminy Hippopotamus.(Shaytaan is locked up in Ramadan therefore you think twice about what you do). The hippo lead me to calling my mother, and she said one thing that hit home.

You wear hijab, you represent Islam, if you go in that store and return this card then it’ll give a good impression of Muslims”.

I instantly realized that returning the extra $100 is the right thing to do.

The next day I drove to the mall, walked into The Limited and went up to the cashier and told her what happened, her response

So you’re telling me we gave you $100 extra on this gift card?”  said the clerk.

That’s right I replied.  “Well i’m gonna have to call my manager about this” said the clerk.

The manager came out and again I explained to her what happened.

So let me get this straight,” said the manager. “We made the error of giving you $150 instead of $50 and you came back to let us know so that we can give you the correct refund?”

I nodded enthusiastically.

“I apologize for this error ma’am, but I’m really sorry you are just going to have to keep this gift card at the value of $150!” said the manager with a big grin on her face.

So, basically I got $100 for being honest, and I’m sure a good few people went home that night thinking that Muslim people are honest (and kinda crazy).

Needless to say, I did some Eid shopping at the Limited that year.

Something to be conscious about….

Staying Strong after Boston Bombings

As we find out more about the Islamic connection that the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing had, Muslims across the nation are going through an array of emotions.

The news pundits keep bringing up Islam and how that might have been the motivating factor for the two brothers actions. The American Muslim community is beginning to brace for the backlash. Already we’re hearing stories of kids in schools being taunted, mosques with armed guards and harassment of women wearing the hijab.

Muslims are feeling vulnerable, tired and frustrated. We are asking “Why do we have to constantly explain our religion, be unfairly targeted and treated in a way that that other Americans are not?”

But we often forget that we are not the first generation of Muslims to feel this way. Neither is it a new phenomenon that Islam or Muslims have been attacked. From the first time the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) preached till present day and till Allah wills, there will continue to be challenges for the Muslim Ummah. However what has changed is the way Muslims respond to these challenges.

The Prophet (SAW) and the Sahaba’s were physically, emotionally and financially tortured and yet were patient. They were so steadfast in their beliefs and trusted that Allah (SWT) would guide them through their hardship. One example is of Sommaya RA who was tortured to death (the first female martyr of Islam) for simply believing in Allah SWT. The Prophet(SAW) was powerless and the only thing he could say to her was to be patient and that her reward was waiting for her in Jannah.

Our tests are like cake compared to theirs. We’re bugging out because some dude is staring at us in a grocery store or the media is bashing Islam. Muslims living in America find it difficult to deal with issues such as profiling, defending our beliefs and dealing with the ludicrous comments thrown by the media.

When we feel angry about the way the media is portraying Muslims we should read about the challenges that the Prophet (SAW) and his companions went through. The Prophet’s (SAW) own family threw sticks and stones on him till he would bleed. His own neighbors and friends drove him and his followers out of the city of Mecca.They were physically attacked, their properties were seized and they were economically marginalized. But these hardships did not wear them down, their faith in Allah was only strengthened by the challenges. Their faith also helped them in remaining optimistic about their future.

We must remember we are all ambassadors to our deen, the only way to change anyone’s perception of Islam is through our own actions. So lets practice the patience and optimism that the Prophet (SAW) and the sahabas practiced. Put on that smile and lend a helping hand to your neighbor, be the first in community service, give a compliment to the cashier and don’t forget that extra cheerful thank you to the waiter, sales clerk or whoever. Our best akhlaq (virtues) and adab (manners) is most needed right now.

Changing one person’s outlook may lead to changing an entire household. In addition to educate the masses, exemplify what you speak. Justifying the violence or comparing other countries does nothing but harm. Lives are lost and our empathy and mercy should be in the forefront.

These are days of trials and tribulations. We must hold on to our ideals and principles. May Allah (SWT) preserve our community and bless our Nation.

-The Biscuits and Banarsi Staff-

Real Men Cry

[Asma Ahmad is a Muslim American Social Worker who has been pursuing graduate studies in clinical Social Work and working with a state-certified batterer intervention program where she has had the opportunity to provide treatment and psycho-education to domestic violence offenders. Asma is also the Project Manager for Project Sakinah’s Northern Virginia chapter.]

Tears rolled down his face and drenched his beard as he cried. He cried in public and in private, setting an example for the men and women of his Ummah that the emotional manifestation of our internal states is a true sign of a connected soul. He cried from the fear of Allah, out of compassion for his followers, and in empathetic exchanges between his blessed companions. In studying the life of our Messenger (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), we see countless examples of times when he cried without hesitation, and yet today, the perception of crying in our communities and societies has turned into one of weakness and inferiority.

For men and boys in particular, our collective culture views crying as something incompatible with the idea of masculinity. The effects of this mindset are not only contrary to the practice of our Messenger (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), but they can have drastically negative impacts when it comes to the issue of family relationships, empathy, and anger. For Muslim parents, there is a need now more than ever to think critically about the values and perceptions children are developing in regards to what masculinity entails and what it means.

“Crying is for girls,” and “Real men don’t cry” are not uncommon messages we hear through today’s media outlets. Our children hear these messages in schools and from friends, but these skewed perceptions can be corrected if we take it upon ourselves to show them a different example, a real and humanistic example of our Messenger (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Among the negative ramifications of these ideas is that children do not develop proper emotion regulation skills and instead find other, often destructive means of expressing any pain or hurt they experience. They may feel that bottling their emotions and presenting an invincible image of themselves is a way to truly feel that they are worthy, valuable, and powerful. Over time, this can cripple any ability to relate to others compassionately, because all they have seen and heard has convinced them that hiding emotions is a sign of being masculine. Here, we must ask ourselves and our children to ponder deeply on the example of the man who was the strongest on the battlefield, the strongest in his iman, and highest in ranks before Allah, yet demonstrated compassion through his tears, his actions, and his words. We need to remind ourselves of the examples of our Messenger’s empathy towards people and his openness in expressing what he felt.

Building the muscles for compassion and emotional sensitivity should be at the forefront of any goals a parent has for teaching interpersonal skills to their children. When asked about the definition of compassion, most people say something along the lines of caring for another person and feeling what they are feeling. Teaching this concept to children can start at a very basic level where parents can help to instill in them a value of open communication and understanding their own emotions as they experience them, whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, irritation, etc. For younger children, this is a critical time when parents must decide between encouraging appropriate expression or limiting it depending on their response to the child’s emotions. The next level of developing compassion could include helping children to think about how and why the other person felt the way they did in the same situation, otherwise known as perspective-taking. In heated moments, children and adults alike can be blinded to the idea of what another person is feeling. Developing this skill is always going to be a work in progress, but at the earliest stage possible, children should be encouraged to consider what others are going through before following through with any reaction. One of reasons our Messenger (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was incredibly effective in problem-solving and conflict resolution is because he had an incredible capacity to think about others’ with respect to their situations and circumstances. Teaching children the next stage of problem-solving in difficult situations can be made easy by constantly reminding them to empathize with others before speaking and acting.

With the unfortunately increasing rates of bullying, violence, and abuse of all kinds in our society, there is no better option for parents seeking to raise compassionate children, than to return to the example of our Messenger (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). He was the strongest in his faith and his actions for this deen, but this strength was coupled with humility. We cannot study the seerah without reading and learning about the Prophet’s crying, yet this sunnah is in constant need of revival, and it is upon the parents to be the primary educators and trainers in this regard.

In Sickness and in Health

 

Does perfect health make a marriage?

I recently heard of a gentleman who is mighty fine looking, highly educated and not to mention living a well to do lifestyle (in other words ‘well-set’). Who would think such a brother is  having a difficult time in getting married?

Well….he is.

The reason is he limps when he walks.

Does this disqualify him from being a suitable match? He has everything going for him, his looks, fun personality, education and financial success.  So should something like that get in the way?

I know of others (both men and women) who are also good looking, highly educated and successful people who have certain ongoing health problems which are becoming a hindrance in their marriage search.

These individuals are loving and living life to the fullest on a daily basis, but because of medications or treatments prospects get scared and immediately turn them down.  It breaks my heart when I hear of such cases and can’t stop thinking about it.  Can I blame the potential prospects for turning them away? Or are they too quick to say no?  For the brother who limps, I cannot imagine why he would get rejected unless his prospects are embarrassed of him.

I can understand people being reluctant when it comes to proposals with health issues.  People worry about fertility and the concern of having to ‘take care’ of their ‘ill’ spouse.  It is human nature to be afraid of the ‘unknown’.

However, if there is a spark and an instant connection between the guy and girl, then there should be no concern. Many Islamic books have mentioned that a good marriage can overcome any hurdle, but a bad marriage would be a life-long hurdle in itself.

For the married couples, we all know marriage is not just a matter of two people playing house.  Looks can only take you so far, and we know that money does not fill a void.  Marriage is a commitment that should be tied with love, trust and mutual understanding.  Often times we know of couples who are living dull and loveless lives. The only thing tying them together is their children.

Certain people are indeed given tests and trials that are clearly beyond their control. Do these people who have exceptional circumstances or cases have no hope of getting married?
People with health challenges may end up having a better perspective on life due to the various tests and trials they had to go through.  Such tests may humble a person, thus making them better spouses.

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why prospects or their parents may not want to consider individuals with health conditions. However, for those who accept these people for the way they are, then in my book they are pious people.  Such people have a strong eman and know that whatever test they may be put through, with the help of Allah SWT they will get through it.

So on the notion of marriage searching for people with health conditions, how should they go about it? Should they mention their conditions prior to even meeting their prospects? or should they first create an impression so people can look past their health challenges?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, hence the blog post! 🙂

Something to think and respond about…

Jannah: Quick E #1

It is easy to get sucked up into this fast paced world. Due to our schedules, families, house chores and work we often keep deen for last (or at least that is the case for me!). I try my hardest to read or catch a lecture but I often lose focus due to exhaustion, a screaming toddler or suddenly remembering the pile of wet clothes in the washing machine.

I end up benefiting from small things such as quick gems, lecture blurbs and of course the cool creative stuff like poems, posters and face book statuses.

I started to save these Quick Eman bits and pieces and figured it might be of some benefit to other people as well insha’Allah.

Here is Quick-E #1, it is a poem on Jannah! The artist of this poem was also the cupid behind my marriage!

Halal Pumpkins…What?!?

As the holiday season is in full swing with glittering christmas trees, cooler weather and festive holiday lattes at starbucks I am reminded why I love this time of the year. As adults we enjoy the atmosphere but kids may not understand why we don’t have a christmas tree, or why Santa didn’t visit us this year. This may be  a challenge for families who have young kids and who are trying to build their Muslim Identities.

As a first generation American Muslim with a South Asian heritage, defining our family’s Identity has been an interesting process. As a mother of a curious three year old I am now faced with hard questions about traditions that I have grown up around but never thought as my own. This becomes particularly tricky as the children go to school and learn about different holidays. Although going to an Islamic preschool has made things easier it also means that I have to decide how to frame things for my curious toddlers.

A few months ago I was pushed into a sort of an identity crisis when Humza went to the fall festival with his school and came back with a grin and a pumpkin which would cause more trouble than I could have ever imagined As Humza excitedly jumped out of the mini-bus that had transported him from the Farm back to the school, I could see that he was clutching this little pumpkin like a shiny new toy, “Momma, see pumpkin.” He proudly raised it  to show me.

I nodded excitedly and wrestled the pumpkin from his hands to get him into the carseat, which caused the pumpkin to roll underneath of a parked mini van. The tears were streaming down Humza’s face and Hassan his younger brother joined in also now wanting that same orange pumpkin which was now somewhere underneath of that van. I quickly strapped the kids in and told the lady who was speaking in Arabic on her cell phone that I was going to go under her van since my kid had dropped his pumpkin. She nodded enthusiastically and I hoped she was nodding to me and not just agreeing with the person whom she was speaking on the phone with. Saying a quick Bismallah I got down on my hands and knees (ahh this reminds me why all my jeans have rips in them) and grabbed the pumpkin.

Tired kids, worn out mother and a little pumpkin in tow, we finally headed home. After the novelty of a little orange pumpkin wore off I had to decide what to do with that thing. Would I display it proudly outside my front door? Put it on my mantle on top of the fireplace? Make a Jack-O-Lantern? What do I do with a pumpkin??

I eventually put it on the fireplace it was so odd but I figured it would be out of the kids reach, I wrestled with the idea of putting it outside my door like other people do as part of the of their fall decorations. But then I didn’t because I was hesitant that I would be acting to “white.”  “Desi people don’t put pumpkins outside of their house,” I thought to myself. After some time when the pumpkin craze died down and the kids forgot to fight over the poor little pumpkin who was probably very thankful for the decision I had made to put him on the fireplace, I approached the subject of the final resting place for the pumpkin again.

After a few strong chai’s and some moments of clarity  I’ve finally made peace with the pumpkin. It is finally at rest on my dining table with some other fall folliage decor and my  little glittering rickshaw.

I haven’t figured out all the answers to how I want to balance and incorporate traditions from Pakistan as well as our American culture but I have a feeling that i’ll figure it out. Now I just need to break the news to the kiddos that the lights my neighbors have put up are in fact not Eid lights. One baby…step at a time.

 

 

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….

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!

To Friend or Not to Friend….

Thanks to Facebook…friendships, relationships and acquaintanceships have whole new meanings.  It is easy to stay in touch, find out the latest updates and of course get in on some juicy gossip.

A few days ago I came across an old friend’s profile whom I had not spoken to in years. Based on her pictures she seemed to have drifted from deen, the most obvious thing being the way she dressed.

I’m sure we all know of someone who has been through these difficult times, or perhaps have been through it themselves.

I later came to find out that her distance from deen started a while back, she started to take  part in activities that she stood firmly against.  Due to her involvement in such things, her friends started to distant themselves.These friends were trying to be stronger in deen and didn’t want the negative influence.They would get into frequent arguments and eventually just didn’t want to associate with her.

The ‘lost friend’ would initially keep making an effort of staying in touch and hanging out, eventually she stopped making the effort.  Her friends now want to reach out to her but she is unresponsive and not reachable.

What is the correct solution?

I would like to think that a person should stick around in hopes of bringing that friend back to deen.  Implementing and practicing good actions could certainly be a source of positive influence in that lost friend’s life.  It is possible that the friend may have a ‘cause’ to all those changes, and she may need a good friend by her side to help her get through it.

However, on the contrary it could also be difficult to see your friend engage in activities that are harmful to their deen.  A lot of times people don’t know how to handle such situations and may come off as too strong or rough.  Though their roughness comes out of love, but to the ‘lost friend’ it comes off as an attack, thus the need to defend themselves.  Hence, a never ending argument that becomes a lost cause.

Again, my question is then how do you handle such situations? Do you ignore their ‘changes’ and continue your friendship as if you don’t know anything else about them? Is ignorance really a bliss? Is it our responsibility to help them?

Something to contemplate about…