“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” (The Holy Quran, 49:13)
One of the many things The Mister and I love to do together is traveling. There isnothing like diving into a culture and exploring it as the locals do. Our travels this past November brought us to Spain as we celebrated our first wedding anniversary alhumdolillah! We began our travels in Madrid, the largest city in Spain. The Mister and I had an amazing time exploring the city on foot and by Metro . We saw beautifully built government buildings, cultural centers, and century old plazas, along with stories from the past, at every corner. We also enjoyed shopping, strolling the large boulevards, and stopping to eat a snack or two at the many quintessential European sidewalk cafes that I love so much.
The Prado (Museo del Prado), Madrid’s famous art museum, is one of the highlights of the city. Although the Mister and I are not big fans of art museums, we figured we’d make an exception given the status of the place (plus we went 2 hours before closing time so the entrance was free :)). From an art perspective, we appreciated the realistic depictions of fabric, fruit, and people, as well as the historical value of some works that outlined the horrors of life such as the Spanish Civil War. But I certainly wouldn’t go again. “Art” in the Western world consists of inappropriately (un-)dressed bodies and vulgarity which is just unacceptable. Anywho, it was an experience
If art is not your thing, there is plenty more to be enjoyed in Madrid. Walking through the city’s flourishing downtown and towards Puerta del Sol, the center of Madrid, savor the liveliness of Spanish life. Streetside vendors and performers, roadside cafes and international shopping all await in this area of the city. Just minutes away, you’ll find yourself in Plaza Mayor, a square built in the 1600s that was the site of many social and historical events, such as markets, bullfights, and even the persecution of Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Inquisition.
Today it is home to many cafes and restaurants, along with a market on weekends. After dinner at a halal restaurant, the Mister and I returned to a café near Plaza Mayor to have our first authentic Spanish churros. We opted to sit outdoors on iron chairs/tables, complete with outdoor heating lamps above each table! Here, we indulged in the “deep-fried goodness” of Spanish churros dipped in chocolate (that’s what the Mister called them), enjoying the conversations in Spanish around us
The “deep-fried goodness” of churros dipped in chocolate at an outdoor café near Plaza Mayor. Photo Credit: Shahzeb Jabbar
Make time to visit the Royal Palace (Palacio Real), which is still the official residence of the royal family of Spain (although they don’t actually live there anymore). It is one of the three most famous palaces in Europe, and is built on land that was once occupied by a Muslim fortress. Across from it is the Almudena Cathedral. Although we didn’t go inside the cathedral, we could still see (and hear) the remnants of the San Isidro Festival, which celebrates the Catholic Saint Isidro, the farmer, who is considered the Patron Saint of Spain. It was really interesting to see the fervent Catholicism in this country, especially in comparison to some other European countries. And as we know, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella took their beliefs to an extreme level by enforcing the Spanish Inquisition, which forced Muslims and Jews in Spain to convert to Catholicism, burned books of knowledge that had been translated by Muslims, and of course tortured and killed those whose conversion they did not accept.
The exterior view of Palacio Real, Madrid. Photo Credit: Shahzeb Jabbar
Muslim tourists will be pleased to hear about the many halal options in Madrid. In each city, we simply did a Zabihah.com search and found quite a few options. We then used Google Map to figure out how far the restaurants were from our hotel (don’t you love technology?). In Madrid, there is a halal fast food chain called Doner Kebap, which sells Turkish style pita wraps and other yummy items, and can be found in many easy to reach areas of the city. Of course, if you’re like me and Mister you will want to have an authentic Spanish experience and try tapas. The Spanish tend to eat a light breakfast and a heavier lunch in the late afternoon. Dinner usually starts around 9 or 10pm, so a typical Spanish dinner consists of a variety of appetizers called tapas. But beware folks! The Spaniards love hamon (ham) as well as alcohol…so you will need to be careful about what you’re eating, especially if the menus are only in Spanish (as was often the case in the places where the Mister and I ventured). Honestly, we found it easier to opt for the halal options throughout our trip, even if we ended up consuming non-traditional foods. But don’t worry—there are still plenty of authentic traditional foods you can still enjoy…including seafood paella, tortilla patate, and of course, the deep-fried goodness of churros.
Visit the local masajid even if it’s just to pray 2 raqah sunnah prayer! We were lucky enough to be in Madrid for Jumuah, and joined the jama’a at The Islamic Cultural Center (Centro Culturo Islamico). It is a truly Iman-lifting experience to witness the Muslim communities all over the globe! Every society, culture, and language has something to offer that we can learn from in order to improve ourselves. Traveling reminds me that Allah (swt) made us into different ethnicities and cultures, and created different languages, not as a way to divide us, but as a way for us to learn from each other. I don’t know where my travels will take me next, but I do know that no matter where it is, I’ll come back home knowing much more about the world than when I left.
Centro Cultural Islamic, (Madrid,) the masjid where Mister and I prayed Jumuah. Photo Credit: Shahzeb Jabbar
I landed my first job a few months ago, prior to that I had been a SAHM (stay at home mom) for about four years. Like many other SAHM I had graduated from college and immediately started my family.
I had no idea what I was supposed to do in the real world, my liberal arts degree in communications was vague and didn’t give me much direction in applying for jobs. What I did know was that I really loved working with nonprofits and have always been drawn to that type of environment. So with virtually no experience except for a short stint at a well known Muslim non-profit organization. I started applying to every organization that I could think of. I had a really genius way of doing it (not really) I googlemapped organizations that were closest to me and started sending my resumes to the HR departments.
After a couple of days with no response from various non-profits in the area I started fishing for government jobs on USAJobs.com. As I read about the various positions I dreamed of working in the state department, so I filled out lengthy applications and thought to myself what a perfect fit I would be.
Unfortunately the State department didn’t see my urdu speaking skills as enough of an asset to hire me. And as many applications that I filled out I got that many rejection letters. My morale was at an all-time low. Nothing seemed to be pulling through for me. I looked for jobs on Government sites, craigslist, Monster and even tried to look into interpreting jobs. This was an incredibly disappointing experience for me. I remember finally applying for a retail position at the mall.
My mom encouraged me to look into volunteering and that’s when I started talking to a non-profit group in the area. It went well and I got an volunteer position to be a liaison for refugee families that they house in their shelter apartments.
Excited with this new development I called my attorney friend in DC to tell her the good news. She was happy, but gave me some great advice and urged me to volunteer in the office with the communications director, so that I could use my skills and build up experience in my field which would eventually lead me to a paid position.
I decided to go and talk with the volunteer coordinator to switch my position as my friend has advised. But even before going back to discuss change of plans with coordinator, I ran into a community member from the Mosque. I enthusiastically told her about the new volunteer opportunity that had landed my way.
She looked at me perplexed and said, “Why are you volunteering there? We could use you at FAITH Social Services,” a group that she was affiliated with. Intrigued about a Muslim social service so close to me, I immediately scheduled an interview with the director and became emerged into a world of social work that has made me both humble and grateful.
I volunteered for FAITH for about 5 months before becoming an employee. I followed my friend’s advice and started volunteering in the office. Initially I worked on flyers and little write-ups. Over time, I began to get a feel for the organization and started to see how I could contribute with my communication’s background. I saw that there was a need for a newsletter and I started working on creating a newsletter every month for FAITH.
I began to plug myself into more projects going around in the office and brainstormed ideas with the staff. Finally my youngest was ready for school and I mustered up the courage to ask the director if I could work as an employee. She agreed and I’ve been the Public Relations Coordinator for FAITH for four months now.
The point of this post is to give women who have been SAHM hope that they can work when they choose to. It might take some time to build up your resume and gain that courage but inshallah with these tips it should be a smooth transition:
1. Get the word out – Tell everyone that you’re looking for work: friends, neighbors, community members.
2. Fix your resume – If the last time you did your resume was in college, it is definitely time to revamp it.
3. volunteer/intern with the organization that you think you want to work at. Specifically in the department you want to gain experience in.
4. Make your mark while you’re volunteering (establish networks, make yourself an asset to the organization) ex: don’t just shred paper – think of ways to reduce the paper in the office –> digitalize files and get the okay from the department head. The leadership will applaud your effort and will value your initiative.
5. Don’t get disappointed if you’re not hired after volunteering. The end all is not to get a job, but it is to learn new skills, build up resume and experience. This will be invaluable and will help towards the next place that you go to.
Good Luck, and don’t despair if things aren’t moving as fast as you want them to its all part of the master plan from above]]>
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.
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…]]>
Eesa was going through a terrible three’s tantrum phase. He became quite difficult to deal with especially with me being pregnant. I decided he needed to go to a daycare type program where he can socialize and interact with others.
Since he is a bit behind in speech and comprehension I didn’t think he was quite ready for pre-school. Daycare seems to be a nice transition from home-to-school. I thought circle time and play time with snacks in between would prepare him well for pre-K.
The thought of him being gone from anywhere between two to five hours seemed amazing to me. It would be my break time, my “me” time. I can concentrate on my part-time job, get my cooking and cleaning done, finish errands here and there and hey maybe even pick up a hobby or two if I managed my time well.
I was drooling thinking about all the time I would have, if you’re a mom then you know how much you can accomplish in a few hours. The world was waiting for me.
My mother thought it was ironic how ecstatic I was about Eesa starting daycare. I guess a full time toddler and a rough first trimester really drains you.
The night before his first day of daycare, I was just looking at him sleeping. When kids are sleeping, they look so innocent. I instantly started to think, what if the daycare provider didn’t understand him and his own unique language. She wouldn’t know that “mankin” actually meant “napkin”, “gadget” meant jacket, and “munk” meant kumbul (urdu word for blanket).
I started to get worried and wondered if I was rushing into this. The other part of me told me it is a part of life and this is actually good for him and would give him something to do.
The following morning went by smoothly, he was quite excited to carry his Skip Hop monkey back pack.
As I was driving, I told myself the plan would be to bring him in and stay awhile till he gets settled and then casually leave. It would be smooth and easy on the both of us, or so I thought.
Well first off, that plan was not how day care protocol worked. I walked in and the DCP (day care provider) told me that I should make it fast and leave.
I looked at her astonished. “leave in front of him? just like that?”
”I know he’s going to cry a little bit but he’ll be ok, thats the best method,” she exclaimed!
I began to panic, he would cry and I wouldn’t be able to do it. I desperately began to look around the room and saw ABC magnets, I quickly pointed them out to Eesa. As soon as he went towards them, I made a run for it. I could hear him turn around and follow me but I didn’t look back.
One of the most difficult things I have ever done.
I walked out of there extremely upset and could not believe I just left my son like that. All I could think about is how long he would cry for and would he be ok?
I called my sister for some comfort and of course she didn’t pick up, I call my mother and lo and behold Bob picks up (Side Note: I call my parents Amy and Bob, short for Ammy and Baba).
I told him what happened and his response was
“yeah yeah been there done that, what you think we didn’t get upset when we used to drop you guys off? especially your sister, she used to cry and cry, it would break our hearts, but they get over it, its a part of life, you can’t keep him at home.”
Count on Bob to tell it like it is.
I was tempted to text the DCP and ask about Eesa, but I didn’t want to be one of those moms. Psh, well why not be one of those moms? He’s three for crying out loud!
Needless to say I did end up texting and he was doing fine, he cried for a bit and then started playing–Alhumdulilah. The DCP was super sweet and understanding.
I, then realized this was the first step to letting go. For two hours that day I did not know what Eesa was doing. To go from knowing their minute by minute schedule to not knowing what they’re up to for 120 minutes is a pretty big deal. Right now he’s gone for a few hours, then next year it’ll be six hours, then extra-curricular activities, then they might go away for college and you don’t see them for days maybe even weeks. Lastly, they get married and then you’re officially out of the loop.
At that point, I would like to think I’ll be travelling the world and sipping on some virgin strawberry daiquiris in Sicily, but seeing as how being away two hours is tough, I can’t imagine more than that.
As Bob puts it, it’s a part of life]]>
Admirers of these various blogs and Muslim Fashionistas have said that they finally feel they can be fashion forward while still maintaining their religious identity.
But critics of these personalities say that the Muslim bloggers are in fact slaves to the fashion industry and are promoting the objectification and sexualization of hijab and modest fashion
Let me take you back ten years when I first started wearing the hijab. Triangular gray, black and white scarfs pinned at the neck with the two ends tied in the back. Anyone remember that one? That style and design was neither appealing nor attractive in any manner. It really was a struggle to wear it in high school when all the other girls looked so put together.
At that point had I seen some of the Amenakin (Pearl Daisy) hijab tutorials in which she beautifully incorporates the tikka, (decorative jewelry that hangs in the middle of the forehead) I wouldn’t be awkwardly stumbling around Pakistani weddings wearing a grandma style dupatta.
I know of many girls who take off their hijabs either before or after marriage, and in some cases may even feel hijab is the reason why they aren’t getting proposals. As Muslim women we have a fine balancing act, between modesty and beauty.
Having access to muslim bloggers who can offer creative ways to style modest clothes and hijabs can be an asset. They are not self-proclaimed experts but normal Muslim women who usually have been approached by their fans to tell them about their skincare regime, weight loss tips and how to get that smokey eye right.
I may not agree with everything that Muslim fashion bloggers promote but I do think there are many ideas and tips which are creative and inspiring. The hijab and the act of dressing modestly is a personal journey for each women and it is something which each of us can improve on.]]>
Both my parents are the eldest in their families, which means my sister and I are one of the oldest amongst the children on both sides. I even have cousins who are younger than my 3 year old son. They call me what the rest of my younger cousins call me, “bajo”. I treat them just like I treat my son, like babies! I would consider them more of my son’s cousins than mine.
Then theres a group of cousins who fall into the ‘cool-young’ category, the group that you actually feel young and hip around (or at times the opposite). It was even cool to see the younger ones transform from cute to annoying to super cool. (i.e becoming class president, having meetings with NYC mayor etc)
What makes cousins even more special is if they are close in age. I had a few cousins that were very close in age and with them we have had the best of times. There was this one time where the five of us (4 girls and 1 boy) wanted to watch a movie, we all rented a movie of our own choice and had a grand movie marathon. Turns out one of the movies was ‘adult-rated’, of course we immediately turned it off and ended up getting stomach pains from the non-stop laugher.
For me, my cousins were the only people who I had childhood slumber parties with. Our slumber parties would consist of quietly listening to bollywood music, watching movies, Monopoly, Kings, Antakshari, Name-Place-Animal-Thing (such a long name for a game!), and of course card games such as spit, rummy and spoons. We also recorded ourselves doing silly dances and singing songs.
Unfortunately one thing i’ve noticed is that these ties between cousins often get damaged because of family drama. Parents should not let their issues get in the way of their children and nieces/nephews. Making cousins feel that they are competing against each other leaves children/adolescents feeling jealousy, bitterness and hostility towards each other. Creating this distance means your children won’t get to experience some of the best times in their lives with some of the best friends they will ever have.
I feel it is more important for us to be closer to our cousins now a days since we have such small families. I know in our parents generation we had four aunts and three uncles which meant big family bashes. But since people are having less kids, this means our family Eid get togethers would only consist of one other aunt or uncle. This is why we need to maintain our ties of kinship, so our family get togethers consist of 1st 2nd and even 3rd cousins.
This past Eid was one of the first Eids after a very long time that all the cousins were there. Due to marriages, colleges, work and conflicting schedules Eids aren’t always spent together. This Eid there was a total of 19 cousins ranging from the ages of 10-31.
There is a special bond between cousins and I would hope that Eesa gets to enjoy with his cousins the same way I have. I can already foresee my son and his two cousins-Hasan and Ali having a blast together insha’Allah, I can also foresee a lot of trouble, ruckus and mischief.
May Allah SWT make our bonds of kinship strong and everlasting. Ameen]]>
pbj revolution is a movement to feed as many people in need as possible with simple, delicious pbj sandwiches. I was excited to hear about such a great cause which was easy to do.
So I got in touch with the organizers to learn a little more about this great cause. It started of with three friends who were talking and thought it would be nice to hand out pb&j sandwiches as they were out and about in their communities.
“Talking amongst ourselves we thought it would be cool if others started joining in to fight hunger… like a revolution, hence the name,” said one of the organizers of the group.
The organizers and other individuals who passed out the sandwiches had a great experience and said that people receiving the sandwiches were very appreciative. The goal of this revolution is not to start a trend or get recognition but we want to get the message out, said one of the organizers. The pbj revolution has a Facebook page in which the organizers tell participants to make pbj sandwiches pair them with a water bottle and a napkin and find people who need them.
“We figured we could reach a lot of people in a lot of cities by starting a FB page, rather than just focusing on our own cities. Passing out sandwiches is something you can do alone or with others, so no one city needs a large number of people to get started,” said one of the organizers.
She added that there are no requirements. “We are trying to trigger some action, not dictate it. Loading pictures and posting to the page, though, will hopefully generate excitement and encourage action so we do encourage people to do so. Our goal is to feed as many people as we can, with something simple, affordable and quick.”
I couldn’t agree more and I look forward to having my kids help me in making and passing out these sandwiches. Join the pbj revolution here
My 2 year old and 4 year old are in their superhero stage.
This means that their constantly shooting webs at me with their tiny fingers, flying around the kitchen island with their palms turned out (Iron Man) and randomly yelling out “Super Heroes save the day” when I’m on the phone trying to make a good impression with a potential employer.
So when my newsfeed started buzzing about this new Pakistani kids show called “Burka Avengers” I was interested. My first thoughts were:
1. Wow! a female superhero that wears a Burqa
2. Positive coverage of Pakistan in the news
3. Where do I watch this show?
This Pakistani animated kids show had gotten some great media coverage, I had read the Huffington post article, seen a piece on BBC and heard an interview with the creator of Burka Avenger on NPR. That same night I watched the first episode.
I was impressed. It was smart, tongue in cheek, entertaining and it has a super catchy title song.
The main story of Burka Avenger is that of an orphan girl, Jiya, who was raised by a kind man (Kabbadi Jaan) who has taught her a fusion karate form called Takht Kabbadi. This martial art style is based on education and karate moves. Jiya is a teacher at a school but she is most fearful of the mayor and villain Vadero Pajero ( oh yes the stereotypical corrupt Pakistani politician) who is constantly trying to disrupt the education of women in his city.
As a first generation American Pakistani mother I want to raise my boys as proud Americans but I also want them to have a understanding of their Pakistani heritage as well as their Muslim identity.
Burka Avengers may just be what Parents like me need to help us accomplish these monumental goals
The show manages to teach our kids Urdu, take away the stigma and negative sterotypes of the Burqa, expose our kids to Pakistani culture and raises important issues about gender equality.
So while my boys will still continue to transform into Octomus Prime and have superpowers like Captain America its refreshing to know that they will grow up with a female superhero who wears a burka and battles bad guys with her Takht Kabbadi.
Kuddos to the Burka Avenger team we look forward to more episodes!
Cut up fruits (strawberries/peaches/pineapple)
-Mix first three until desired consistency and taste is reached
-Stir in fruits
-Put in piping bag or ziplock bag if you need to improvise, snip a corner off
-In little dessert cups (from party city) squeeze a little drizzle of rooafza inside…you can use the ziplock bag technique but make sure hole is very small
-Squeeze mango mixture into cups right away…the rooafza tends to go all the way to the bottom very fast
Freeze and enjoy!]]>
I haven’t been able to get into the Ramadan Spirit so I thought i’d make a guide for myself and other Moms who want to be hyped for Ramadan!One of the reasons that I’ve been dragging my feet is because there is so much to do that it seems over whelming! so if making the 20,000 Samosas, decorating the house, while catching up on spiritual goals feels daunting…your not the only one!
Follow these easy instructions to get you caught up in the Ramadan Spirit in no time Inshallah!
1. Jam those Ramadan Nasheeds – (Click here for our favorites)
2.Organize a Samosa Fest – Call your family and friends and arrange a samosa making party (click here to see how one family makes it their annual tradition)
3. Decorate your house for Ramadan (click here for our guide)
4. Make Ramadan baskets for your neighbors! (Our guide to making Ramadan Baskets)
5. Start your Ramadan Journal – a Journal in which you write the duas that you want to make during the blessed month