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

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

 

 

 

 

A Morning with Modern Mary

 

Abeer and I had the opportunity to visit Seema Sahin’s Boutique in Tysons Corner a few weeks ago, we were excited to talk with Seema to see how she manages her modesty clothing line as well as her family life with two young kids. While we chatted we got a chance to try some of her custom designs. Pictures and interview below:

 

BB: How did the idea of  Modern Mary come about?

SS: Giving women the chance to express themselves while being true to their identity. Finding modest fashionable designs in mainstream clothing stores is not only limited, but can pose a challenge for many women. It can be challenging finding styles that express their cultural heritage, American identity, and at the same time being true to their faith. I wanted to create a hassle free shopping experience for these women, offering them a fashionable alternative that already fits with the guidelines of their faith. What motivates me is trying to reconcile these three forces and translate them into my design.  Creating modest designs is one thing, but there is a certain flair to my designs that makes it stand out and appealing.

 

BB: How did you take the initial leap from an online based business to having a  boutique?

Modern Mary’s Boutique in Tyson’s Corner, VA

SS: I wanted women to have a fun and comfortable shopping experience. The only way was to bring the designs to them. I knew that an online store was not enough, which is why I decided to open up a boutique. The Boutique offers our customers an exclusive shopping experience without compromise to privacy and comfort. Modern Mary’s boutique is a first of its kind, catering to the Muslim market. Modern Mary’s boutique opened its doors to the public December 2010 outside of DC in the Northern Virginia area. Modern Mary’s full collection can be viewed at the boutique by appointment only. Custom evening and bridal wear available. We offer complimentary fittings when creating a custom design.

The designer of Modern Mary, Seema with her model

 

BB: Any advice for Muslim entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting their own business?

SS: When starting a business, it’s more than just pursuing a passion. Yes, you have to be passionate about what you are doing, but you also have to be persistent, willing to learn, and ready to play various roles. I can’t run a business by just designing- I had to learn to be a manager, bookkeeper, marketer, etc. Most importantly put yourself out there. It’s all about networking… network, network, and network! Let everyone know who you are and what you andyour business is about. There are many groups that you can join or attend (both Muslim based professional groups and non-Muslim professional groups). Take advantage of those networking opportunities because you never know what relationships you will create that would benefit your business or company.

 

BB: how do you manage it all, your family, household chores, family obligations? 

Orange layered tunic, $59

SS: It’s an everyday challenge! Being able to balance the role of being a mother, a wife, a designer, and an entrepreneur is not easy, and I’m still working to achieve that balance. Alhamdulillah, my passion for designing is what keeps me going. It’s a combination of time-management, organization, communication, and accommodation. Time management- balancing my time with the family and my business; Organization- otherwise nothing will get done! Communication- scheduling with my husband, or family members to watch the kids when I have an event, or need to be at the boutique; Accommodation- life happens, and need to accept that not everything will go according to plan—I have my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, but here I am pursuing a career in fashion design. Thankfully I have a great support network I can turn to when seeking help with taking care of the kids and other family obligations.

 

BB: Can you share your first runway experience with us? How did it feel seeing your clothes on the runway?

SS: My first major runway show was at DC Fashion Week Fall 2011. My designs were featured in their International Couture Collections show. Seeing my designs going down the runway and hearing applauds from the audience, not only was it amazing but a surreal moment. Being able to transform an idea into a vision, it’s truly rewarding. Fashion shows bring your designs to life. I hope to continue to watch my designs going down the runway.

Modern Mary Custom Dress, $128

 Like what you see? Check out Modern Mary’s designs:

www.modernmary.com

www.facebook.com/modernmaryboutique

http://twitter.com/#!/seemasahin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Woman Really Want…

Ramadan is half way through, thought we’d help you find some great gift ideas.Here is our Eid 2012 Gift Guide for the Women in your life

The Trendy Gift

Peep toe Sandals, $89

Sandals

Studded Bangle, $32.90

Bracelets

Michael Kors leather watch,$225

 Watch

 

The Colorful Gift

Green purse with shiny gold details, $19.80

Purse

Stone Ring, $65

Stone Ring

Colorblocked Apron, $32

Apron

The Pampering Gift

Luxurious Hand Cream Set, $30

Hand Cream

Aveda Spa service, Prices vary

Spa

The Beauty Gift

MAC lipstick set, $39.50

Lipstick Set

Salvatore Ferragamo perfume, $98

Perfume

Benefit makeup set, $45

Makeup Set

The Thoughtful Gift

A subscription to a magazine is always appreciated

Magazines

Haute Hijab-Bora Bora Scarf $35

Hijabs

Ramadan Beats

 

I hope this playlist keeps you going through this blessed month inshallah! Please click on the hyperlink.

please note: the * indicates songs that have musical instruments in them

1. Native Deen – Ramadan is Here* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7VezcjXNec

2. Sami Yusaf – Hasbi Rabbi* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRqTV1P9Zyk&feature=related

3. Qari Waheed Zafar Qasmi – (Urdu Song) – Fasalon Ko Takalluf Hai Humse Agar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-oW8BGjh0g

4. Zain Bhika – Welcome O’ Ramadan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xv-TlLAUXQ

5. Sami Yusaf – You Came to Me* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTxWbmOCkQE&feature=fvwrel

6. Junaid Jamshed – (Urdu Song) Ilahi Teri Chaukhat Per http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze0Q8VRkLh4&feature=related

7. Zain Bhika – Eid-Un-Sa’Eid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDdHkIbPfuw

8. Ali Haider- Maula Dil Badal De (Urdu Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twvTqQ5CJ-0

9. Yusuf Islam- Tala Al Badru Alyana  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5HiXM9JGJQ

10. Zain Bhikha: Mountains of Makkah http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvbgaw972c4

11. Waheed Zafar Qasmi: Allah Hu Allah Hu http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLgWjFyj8k

12. Mishary Rashid Al-Afasy: La Illaha Illallah http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs3cfmhBOkw

13. Kamal Uddin: Subhan-Allah http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2KEAy11srA

14. A Beautiful Dua: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzef68MZ0GE&feature=related

Keep the Kids Busy this Ramadan, While Staying Cool

 

It’s Ramadan but its also summer and that means long days, no schools and potentially cranky and bored kids!

Here are a few suggestions to beat the heat, while keeping the young ones entertained. A Ramadan tip is to do Ibadah while watching the kids grab your Quran in your purse or do Zikr while watching the kids have a great time!

1. Any indoor mall play areas: My favorite is the Fair Oaks mall play area it’s large enough and has many little things for the kids to climb on and explore. I have been to the Dulles and Tyson’s corner one as well, whichever is closer and convenient usually wins in my book.

 

2. Local public library: With plenty of books, tables and chairs, this is the place where young kids can begin to get exposed to library etiquette and the joys of reading. On certain days there are free book readings or activites, you would have to check on your county’s website for more details.

 

3. Chuck E. Cheese: Indoor play area – tokens are purchased to play the games or for rides, but keeps my kids entertained for hours with a very little hit to the pocket. Best part there are usually plenty of tables with booths for you to sit and read your Quran Tafsir.

 

4.Reston Town Center water sprinklers; Reston, VA – Dress your kids in their bathing suits bring a towel and sit back on the comfortable shaded lawn steps while the kids drain their energy and build up their appetite. If your there later closer to iftaar time there are a lot of dining options just a few steps away http://www.restontowncenter.com/index.php

 

5. Loudoun Sports Bounce, Ashburn Va: Kids will enjoy bouncing all the different bounce courses, large slides and  a playroom for 18 months and older, best part there’s AC and you won’t break a sweat! http://www.sportbounce.com/opengym.php

 

Have other ideas for beating the heat this summer? Please share.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Brother!

One of the greatest joys is to see your kids play and enjoy each others company, on the flip side one of the most frustrating things is to see them fight and cry.

My sons play and fight all day, I’ve learned to let them “duke it out” the more I get involved in their matters, the more I get frustrated, so at a very young age I gave them the independence of resolving their own matters. The good thing is that they are both around the same size so when they begin to wrestle and sit on top of each other I’m not particularly concerned about them getting hurt.

Advantages of having a sibling close in age is that there is never a longing to be around other kids, you have a partner to play with and you learn to share EVERYTHING!

Disadvantages are that both kids don’t get that much one on one bonding time with the parents. Boys tend to get more aggressive and learn to fight over everything, including parental affection.

Sometimes I’ll laugh at something silly my 18 month old (Hassan) will do and then my three year old (Humza) will do the same thing and I’ll give him a disapproving look! It gets tricky for the parents and there has to be a constant balance so that both siblings know where their place in the family is. It is so important that they each understand their unique personality and self-worth. Easier said than done, it’s something I have to remind both myself and my kids.

Having a small age difference between two kids, can be challening but the love and friendship they have is so warming. When one gets in trouble the other one sneaks into the time out corner with him to give him support, or when one of them gets a shot at the doctors his brother cries for him! The two are inseparable and often when I want Hassan to do something I’ll ask Humza to explain it to him and it works!

One time, my 18 month old was crying and fussing… exhausted, I lost my temper and ordered him into a timeout corner, his elder brother came and calmly explained to me that Hassan was creating a fuss because he wanted juice in a sippy cup.

I instantly realized that my three old was right and gave Hassan the sippy cup, voila! The problem was solved.

Their intuition and love for each other is remarkable and I pray that Allah always keeps my boys close and best friends forever – Ameen.

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