Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Picture of the Day 22.05.19: Leftover Iftar and Coffee Bliss

I managed to have a relatively easy going time this evening.  I usually have a short sunnah nap after work as it allows me to do the night prayer, wake for suhoor and function at work the next day.  Today I set the alarm for 30 minutes (5:30pm) and woke two hours later at 7pm.  Initially I thought it was the following morning, I had missed suhoor and was late for work. It took my addled brain a good five minutes to untwist itself and realise it was the same evening and the kids were not getting up for school, but just milling around in my room while I slept )usually the babies sneak in and sleep next to me alhamdulillah).

My first task after Asr (early evening) prayers was to check what was available for the fast breaking meal.  Considering the fact that we are fasting, I can’t believe how much food accumulates in Ramadan, both home cooked and sent round by neighbours and friends.  My fridge is stuffed, so I didn’t feel like I could justify cooking more, but knew there would be moaning.  So I re-purposed where I could by:
using leftover fruit from yesterday in the fruit salad
Using the last of the chicken filling for sandwiches
Adding some fresh yoghurt and spices to the channa chat to freshen it up

Putting the leftover pakora’s into the air fryer to make them warm and crunchy again.

No one seemed to notice except mum-in-law, who is a expert in reusing and re-purposing anything and everything, so approved.

Once I whizzed through the dishes and cleared the kitchen, I made myself a coffee.  Little Lady helped get the babies in bed, so they were fast asleep by the time I was done.  That left me with some quiet time to enjoy my coffee, some blogging and the company of Gorgeous and his stories about endangered species and climate change, heard with half an ear.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Happy Muslim Mama - Fasting with Children

My oldest three aged 16, 14 and 12 have been keeping all of the fasts with us this Ramadan. Little Lady has been since the last two or three years, Little Man did last year and Gorgeous wants to try this year.  They seem to be coping well and being semi-sensible about it most of the time.

Little Lady is currently sitting her GCSE exam’s and has made the most of the Ramadan routine by studying for a while after suhoor/fajr (dawn) prayers.  Please remember her in your duas insh’Allah.

The boys insist on playing football and then spending the evening telling me how hungry they are.  It has been next to impossible to get them up for suhoor, we struggle to get them to eat and drink a little with cajoling and threats (that we won’t allow them to fast otherwise). You can imagine they make up for it at iftar.

Their fasting has brought out the mama bear in me.  I keep an eye on them and ask them every little while how they feel. I have been making the favourite foods the ask for, mostly unhealthy, reasoning that they have fasted all day and I want them to eat well.  Gorgeous had one day where he started to feel tired and headachey, so I discouraged him from fasting the next day and asked him to drink plenty of water and eat well to prepare his body if he wants to fast again.

When they were younger I would let them keep half fasts or maybe one fast over the weekend and then watch them like a hawk, encouraging them to sleep more, rest more and stay where I can see them – but much I know, but the fasts were so long and I was wary of what they could manage.

The babies, at aged four and six are too young to fast and this year as for the last few years, their school has sent home a letter saying they won’t allow children to fast because the days are too long.  I don’t have a problem with this, because the children are so young, the days so long and the school recognises the younger children would be too tired to study (not to mention managing any health risks).

Today the older three were so tired, they all came home from school and went to sleep.  Little Lady had her maths exam and was all studied out.  Little Man and Gorgeous were a little sleep deprived and the weather had been warm.  They woke before iftar looking refreshed and singing the praises of a five hour nap (is that even a nap?).  Now the older ones are all wide awake and Gorgeous is sitting on my bed reading news and telling about world affairs and endangered species.

What age did your children start fasting and how did you help them manage it? Or if you are young – how old were you and how did you find it?

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 16

The quote for Day 16 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“True devotion is for itself (Allah): not to desire Jannah and Jahannum.” ~ Rabia Basri (Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya RA)

This quote is based on the supplication of the great Rabia Basri: “O Allah! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your Own sake, grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.” (source).

It makes me think of sincerity of intention and the purity of our love for Allah (SWT).  We grow up learning about heaven and hell in Islam, the one acting as a motivator and the other a deterrent from doing things we shouldn’t.  At the same time Allah rains down so much mercy and love on us that heaven and hell are secondary, the first thing that should make us submit to Allah (SWT) is His sheer love for us and our gratefulness.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 15

The quote for Day 15 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“Account yourself before you are brought to account and measure your actions before they are measured.” ~ Umar Al Farooq (Radi-Allahu anhu)

I have a variation of this quote written in a speech bubble above my bedside table as a reminder.  

I do not believe that you can have continuous improvement, whether in work, life, learning a skill or improving your own character, without self-reflection.  So much so, that I included a section in the daily pages of my annual life planner called “Review of the day” – this section asks “What was amazing about today? What could have been better? What will I do differently next time?”

I have tried to do this, whether through journaling, looking back on my day at the end of the day or by talking about my day with my husband.  The small, even tiny changes you make as a result can add up and lead to significant change.

I think there is so much hikmah, or wisdom in this quote – careful daily reflection can be life changing in so many ways: highlighting your mistakes and helping you to stop making the same again.  Helping identify your strengths so you can build on them.  Improving your mindfulness and helping you to slow down and think about things.

Do you have a daily or regular practice of self-review and reflection?

Giving in and Falling Over

I had a good few blog posts on my mind today:

The cook fest for iftar and how I might have over done it by trying to make everyone’s requests for iftar food.

My mother in law’s comment about how well behaved a girl was and how well she settled in with her husband, was fully the preserve of her mother.  The whole idea thoroughly annoying me, o perhaps it made me defensive, one to unpick.

I reached a milestone for a project at work and got some recognition – except that I struggled with it and despite my hard work didn’t feel like I could take the credit

We are half way through Ramadan and I am on my “break” from fasting and taraweeh, so hoping to use the time to get organised for Eid and get my energy and strength up for the rest of Ramadan insh’Allah.

My cousin is getting married in summer and decided to have her nikah this Ramadan, so I am excited about going to the nikah/iftar next week minus kids and I’m currently wondering what to wear.

I’m off gallivanting in the City this week for a work conference and again priorities – I'm thinking about what to wear ( I don't know why, it's always going to be an abayah).

Except I am sooooo tired that I can’t think straight.
My eyes won’t say open.
The coffee is not working.
And at some point, you have to call it a day, stop fighting yourself and your body and give in to sleep,
After I change, brush my teeth, take out my contact lenses, switch off the lights, check on the babies - then I can just give in to sleep 😊

Instagram Story

Harlequin Sister was encouraging Shutterbug Sister and I to use Instagram stories with the explanation that I was always in the middle of something so I would have lots to share.  I thought I would give it a try and just snap life and whatever caught my eye.

I’ve been adding things to my stories for the last 24 hours including my Ramadan blogging prompt and what I was up to in the garden and kitchen.  I have to say, I have been having so much fun and so many sisters shave been in touch to leave comments, suggestion and encouragement.  I am still getting the hang of it and keep spotting typo’s or photo’s that in hindsight, I could have been a bit more careful about:

If you are an Instagram user, do check my account out and leave a comment or say hello if you want to.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 14

The quote for Day 14 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“Allah is enough for you. You do not need anything else or ask anyone for anything.”

Alhamdulillah – that’s a mantra for life if ever I have heard one – “Allah is enough”
Struggling to make ends meet - “Allah is enough”
Feel insecure and lack confidence - “Allah is enough”
Family don’t approve of your choices - “Allah is enough”

The quote reminds me of a hadith:

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said; “Whoever makes the Aakhirah his concern, Allah will gather together his affairs, place contentment in his heart and the world will come to him despite his reluctance. And whoever makes the Dunya his concern, Allah will scatter his affairs, put poverty before him and nothing of the world will come to him except what Allah has written for him.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhee and authenticated by Al-Albani)

How do we make the aakhirah our concern?

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “Remember often the destroyer of pleasures,” by which he meant death (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2307)

The following ayah about how Allah (SWT) provides is so inspiring and heartening:

“And He (Allah) will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.” – Quran 65:3

So little to ask – to place your trust in Allah (SWT) and so much to gain – that He will take care of all of your affairs insh’Allah.

Picture of the Day 18.05.19: Iftar For My Parents

I love having dinner or breaking fast at my mum’s now and again.  Her food is delicious, and I always feel relaxed at her place hanging out with my sisters.  However, as we are currently a family of nine including my in-laws, I have been avoiding it recently knowing it would be too much for her to cook for everyone.  So this weekend I invited her and my sisters to mine for iftar (fast breaking).

I roped the children into helping clean the house and planned the dishes I wanted to make.  I ended up making fruit platters, fruit chaat (spicy fruit salad), chicken samosa’s, potato and chicken spring rolls, baked chicken and channa chaat (chickpea salad), green mint and mango chutney. Then we had lamb curry with fresh roti’s for dinner.

While I prepared food and tidied the kitchen, Harlequin Sister set the food out.  She laid it out nicely, but I do wonder if the blue cloth we lay out for meals spoils the effect. If you look through the blog, it’s in almost every picture of the meals we have shared.  Whenever we take pics, I think it ruins the photo.  But I have had it for nineteen years since I married and moved out of my mum’s home, and she had it for about twenty before then.  My grandfather bought it when he first came here and I vaguely remember it being thrown over a sofa at one point (or am I imagining it?).  IN any case, it has lasted beautifully and is still in good condition despite daily use and regular washes.

We had a pleasant meal (minus a tantrum from Little Man over my not making him rice with the lamb, which has turned into a long sulk). I’s always a pleasure to host my parents, it makes me feel so good.  Its always fun to have my sisters around, conversation is always interesting and playful, Fashionista Sister and my lovely Sister-in-law could not make it and were missed as were their babies. 

Everyone ate and left fairly quickly because the meal was so late and there is the rush to get to taraweeh prayer.  I managed to get though most of the dishes and cleaning, the big pots and baking trays have a date with me in the morning.  I had to have a coffee and a good long sit down with my feet up before I could think about my own taraweeh prayers.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 13

The quote for Day 13 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life” ~ Maulana Rumi (according to quote in box)

When I think of the words of Maulana Rumi, I think spiritual and sometimes a little abstract or with deeper meanings that are not always immediately obvious.  But this quote is clear and direct with a meaning that leaves you with no misunderstandings.  On doing a Google search, it seems that the quote is from Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, not Maulana Rumi.  Well that’s not so surprising…

The words challenge the million and one excuses we create to give away our own power:
I can’t afford to
I have no time
I don’t have the confidence
I don’t deserve it
I don’t know how
It’s someone else’s fault

As I get older, more and more in life I realise that the biggest blocker in my life to doing anything I want to is me – my confidence, my courage or my self-belief. And more and more I have come to realise that you don’t have to have courage, or self-belief to take steps towards what you want.  You just have to start – the courage and self-belief will grow as a result.

Even when it comes to other people’s behaviour and treatment of you, you cannot step aside from your own role in the situation you find yourself:
What are you willing to accept from others?
What would really happen if you decided to do your own thing?
What if you let go of the need for approval?

I am currently enrolled in a leadership course at work and one of things that the facilitator come back to often is legitimacy: self-belief and its importance in being a good leader in our life – not just work, but community, family and home.  Easier said than done, but if we could turn the concept of confidence on its head so that we are not confident before we can take a step, but take a step so that our confidence and legitimacy can grow then perhaps we an start to take back our power a little at a time.

A Little Eruption

As we get to the end of the twelfth fast, I am beginning to find myself getting tired. I am quite sleep deprived and I wonder if perhaps I am eating enough of the right foods.  I am also struggling with managing long hours on my feet in the kitchen, before and after iftar and managing the needs of my in-laws.  Between work and the Ramadan routine we have fallen into, there is very little time to even keep up with housework or reading Quran.

Today I thought I would give myself a break and order takeaway. Except we got to iftar, Little Man went and collected the food and before long there was squabbling over the drinks, Not just the kids either, the grandparents decided they wanted what the kids had.  I couldn’t take it any more. I shouted at them, one minute before iftar, when I should have been making dua.  I have asked for peace during that little window, just so that I can make dua in peace. I don’t think I asked for much.  I took my food and ate with the door shut in my bedroom.

I felt guilty and a little anxious about leaving everyone to it.  I didn’t enjoy my meal, even if I got some quiet.  I did however come to two conclusions:

1. The Ramadan routine is not fixed, if I am finding it all too much, I can change it.  I am thinking less and simpler food and everyone gets exactly the same of everything – they’ll still find something to squabble over, but I won’t be paying for drinks only for them to all start eyeing up the same one.

2. I have always held my tongue with my elders, but my in-laws may need to be given some gentle reminders about what I can manage and that provoking the kids is not helpful to me.  Hubby may also need some slightly less gentle reminders: i.e. if you can eat it in one dish, please don’t use two, unless you want to wash all fifty that seem to have appeared in the kitchen.  The kids may be getting the least gentle reminders if they are not careful, of the “do you want Eid cancelled?” variety.

We have another 17 or 18 fasts to go insh’Allah and I don’t want to spend all of them feeling like a Zombie with marshmallows for brains and a sore back, so I need to make some changes so that the month passes with a little more worship and a little less shouting at kids and the elderly.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 12

The quote for Day 12 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“If a person reads and teaches a hundred thousand books on intellectual and knowledgeable issues but does not act on any of it, it will not benefit him at all…” ~ Imam Ghazali

It’s interesting that this quote comes from a great scholar known for his books and his breadth if knowledge.  To me it speaks of his wisdom and humility to acknowledge that the value in his great learning is in the application.

As someone who loves books and has a bottomless thirst for knowledge of all kinds, this is a useful reminder that it isn’t enough to read and store away, but especially knowledge of Islam exists to guide and to be applied.

Umm Salma (Radhi Allahu anha) said the Messenger of Allah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam)  used to say in the supplication in the morning prayer:
‘Allaahumma innee assaluka ilman nafia, wa rizzqan tayyeebun, wa amalan mutaqabilan’
‘O Allah indeed I ask You for beneficial knowledge, and a good Halal provision, and actions which are accepted.’ (Tayalisee, Tabraani)

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Ramadan 2019/1440: Thought of the Day 11

The quote for Day 11 of Ramadan from my box of things to think about is:

“…we only benefitted from the small units of Prayer we did late at night” ~ Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Junayd al-Baghdadi

I couldn’t find much about this quote or its origin or context, i.e. we only benefitted in comparison to what other prayers or deeds? The quote does make me think of the great value of some small deeds – how some small dhikr (remembrances) said with sincerity can wipe away all of our sins.  The value of istaghfar, or sincere repentance.  The reward for each letter of the Quran recited, so that even a little is so beneficial. The impact of the small nawafil prayers with each salah that bring us closer to Allah (SWT).  The night prayer is another such deed: even if a few small rakah or units:

The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Abu Umama al-Bahili (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Hold tight to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” (Tirmidhi)

This is the prayer that perhaps I have had the least opportunity to pray.  And perhaps one that would have endless benefits.  I am so tired from working during the day and standing in the kitchen in the evening, that the night prayer feels very difficult.  In Ramadan, I wake everyone and while they pray a few rakah of tahajjud I make breakfast (chapatti’s at 3am anyone).

A little part of me resents this and I wonder how the reward of looking after others weighs up against the benefits of the night prayer.  Perhaps Allah (SWT) knows that my strength is less in prayer (my concentration is poor) and more in serving others (I have a lot of energy) and has led me to that which is easy for me.  I suppose I can at least make intention for tahajjud before I sleep, who knows, perhaps I will be blessed with it. May Allah (SWT) make this month easy for the ladies of the house and help us get the most benefit out of it.