Tuesday 30 September 2008

Eid Mubarak

After a quiet day, we had lots of cousins and friends for dinner and lots of children dressed in their best high on sweets and careering round the house, fighting, complaining and laughing. Little Man had his friend round too and the two took turns shoving each other off of his bike. In the end my husband brought another bike in from the garden and the two of them careered round the back room narrowly missing various small babies but managing to run over my foot.

I did plan to take pictures of all of the food I made, but forgot totally when I came to serving it. I managed to take a few pics of the children before I changed them for bed to send to their grandparents. I am amazed they managed to stay fairly clean for so long considering the amount of juice they spilt on the carpet and the number of halal jelly sweets I found stuck in various places (plus the lolly someone stuck in the fringe of my shawl).

Poor Gorgeous kept remembering his cravat and waistcoat every little while and yanking at it. I have him in a t-shirt and jogging bottoms now in my lap as I type and he is a lot happier (and thankfully sleepier).

Insh'Allah tomorrow will be spent at my mums resting, eating her food which is my comfort food and exchanging presents with my sisters (and offloading the kids onto them). I'm off now to put up my aching feet.

A small request. My good friend spent her Eid day in emergency with her little one and hopes to be discharged today so that she can go home to her two other children. Please remember her in your dua's, jazakh'Allah-khairun.

Eid Mubarak

Traditional Eid breakfast of sweet sevaiya (vermicilli in milk).

Not-so-traditional breakfast

Have a lovely Eid everyone.

Eid Preparation

Have spent yesterday evening cleaning and cooking and continue this morning, but there is work done begrudgingly and work done with a song in your heart and cooking for Eid definitely falls into the latter.

I finally got out this bedspread which I bought when I was in Pakistan, it looks lovely but Little Man is not impressed and is insisting we get rid of it because the embroidery feels itchy.

Little Lady insisted in staying awake until I did her henna (nearly 11.30) despite being sleepy from all of the excitement.

I got my old Eid Mubarak banner out again. I made this on the plain back side of a "Congratulations" banner with letters cut out from paper and coloured-in. (the store-bought ones are amore recent affair).

I got hubby and brother-in-law to put up the balloons (although they kept popping them and scaring the kids). I packed my gifts for everyone and stashed them in the front room.

I found myself something nice to wear (although I never did get round to ironing it).

Now for the big cook-out.

Monday 29 September 2008

Celebrating Chand Raat

In the West days run from dawn to the following dawn, so for example we wake up to Eid morning and celebrate until the evening. However for a Muslim the day runs from the previous evening to the current sunset. So Eid begins not on the morning of the first day of Shawwal, but as the last day of Ramadan draws to a close.

In Pakistan (and presumably elsewhere) this is celebrated as Chaand Raat - The Night of the Moon. It is the most romantic night of the year for many – the bazaars full of young men buying their wives (or other significant others) bangles and the women decorating their hands with henna.

This being the case, I believe in starting the celebrations first chance I get. Most of us are too busy having started the cooking already, but there is one tradition I hold dear and never miss. We live near a very busy area full of Asian shops. So the night before Eid the shops are open until midnight and the main street is chaotic and joyful with shoppers, people just out to enjoy the mood and with girls charging to do your henna. I get my husband to take me along to buy the bangles to match my suit. It’s just a little thing, but it makes the night special for me. Little Lady and I also do our henna even if it’s midnight by the time my turn comes.

If you are a bit more ambitious, I liked the way one lady celebrated. She invited all of her friends over for a Chand Raat party and provided the henna and baskets full of bangles, one of her friends also brought over jewellery and clothes to sell.

This year I will try to think up some special rituals for my children, which will become part of their treasury of memories about Eid.


Tuesday 23 September 2008

Ramadan Recipe: Channa Chaat

This is very much a traditional Pakistani recipe, one which makes an appearance at parties, on Eid and during Ramadan (especially in my Lahori in-law's house). It also abounds in bazaars and people snack on it as they shop. It's simple and fairly quick and the chickpeas (garbanzo bean or channa in Urdu/Hindi) and potato make it more filling than most salads.

2 cans chickpeas (If you are using the dried chickpeas make sure they are soaked overnight and have gone fairly soft)
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly lengthways
3 medium potatoes (baking or white potatoes are usually best for this)
2-3 tomatoes, diced.
1 tablespoon tamaring pulp (if available)
½ teaspoon chaat masala
½ a cucumber, diced
1 or 2 finely chopped green chillies (If you can take them)
1 finely chopped spring onion

Rinse the chickpeas and place in a bowl.
Place the onions in a separate bowl and sprinkle salt over them. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes (or longer if you are doing other things in the meantime). Then squeeze the onions in your hand, rinse off under the tap. This helps reduce the onion’s pungency and makes it more palatable.
Peel and quarter the potatoes and place in water to boil until firm but cooked through. If the potatoes go too soft they can turn into mash when mixed in the bowl.
Soak the tamarind pulp in a quarter cup of water till soft, then rub the pulp with your fingers until it dissolved. Strain and pour the runny part into the chickpeas, discarding any seeds or lumpy parts left behind.
Place the potatoes, tomatoes and onion in the bowl with the chickpeas, add the chaat masala, mix and serve.
If you are using fresh chickpeas which have been soaked, these will have less salt than the tinned variety, so add a level teaspoon of salt to the mix.

Ramadan Recipes: Fruit Chaat

This dish is usually prepared during Ramadan in Pakistani households, but can also be served as a healthy dessert or even as an appetizer. It’s a good way to clear out the fruit in the bowl which is getting a bit soft. I tend not to use apples or pears which are too firm as they don’t sit as comfortably in the mouth with the soft melon or banana. You can dice the fruit as chunky as you like, but I tend to go quite small as you get a good mixture of tastes on your spoon. The pleasure is in the contrast between the heat of the spices and burst of cool sweetness in your mouth.

1 apple, peeled and quartered and diced (not too firm)
1 pear, peeled quartered and diced (not too firm)
1 pomegranate decanted
1 -2 guavas with the seed’s removed and diced
Half of a small melon, diced
Large pinch chaat masala (take care as this stuff can be very strong)
Handful grapes, halved.
1 banana, chopped/diced.
½ a Papaya peeled, deseeded and diced.
1 tangerine/Satsuma separated into slices and chopped into smaller pieces.
A few rings of pineapple, diced (I usually empty out a small tin and include the syrup).
Can use a few drops of lemon juice or a few tablespoons of orange juice if desired.

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and serve. I usually get someone else to remove the seeds from the pomegranate and chop the melon and guava first. I prepare the pear and apple at the end so they don’t start going brown.

If you don’t have chaat masala available, then a pinch of black salt and pepper should do the trick.

Ramadan – A Visual Journey

I was feeling a bit harried this morning (with my various to-do lists getting scrumpled up in the bottom of my bag), when I saw the first internet link below in an e-mail from one of my sisters. I was moved by the beauty of the photo's and the poignancy of those taken in Palestine. I have also noticed that a few sister's have been posting photo and video series about Ramadan around the world and wanted to share. I love how these excellent pictures highlight the diversity of our Ummah and how beautiful and creative (and colourful) our different ways of celebrating Ramadan are.

Stunning Boston Globe feature

Sister Samah’s picture series Ramadan Around the World

Sister Umm Yusuf’s blog (the wonderfully named Is there Food on My Niqab?) has a post also called Ramadan Around the World and whilst there please do take a look at her sadaqah project and see if you can help insh'Allah.

Sister Umm Nassim’s Ramadan Around the World Series is a number of posts with videos from around the world.

Islamicity have a series of video's from different parts of the world about Ramadan.

"Pakistan: Ramadan meal preparation." Online Photograph. Britannica Student Encyclopædia (23 Sept. 2008)

Book Review: Karen Armstrong – The Bible, The Biography

I previously read Karen Armstrong’s book Islam: A Short Introduction and although I did not agree with everything in it, I still found it well-written and well-researched unlike a lot of the pseudo-academic rubbish written about Islam by people who do not bother to take the time to learn about the faith and struggle to contain their prejudices about it.

I have also been having a conversation about the Bible with my bestest friend and have always been curious about the way it and the Torah sit alongside the Quran. For all of these reasons this book appealed to me. Armstrong lives up to her record with this book and I was absorbed from the first page. She begins with the formation and collection of the scriptures that became the Torah and the New Testament, moving quite quickly through historical events and onto the various methods of interpreting scripture and the philosophies behind them to the ways of looking at scripture which dominate today.

She explains the difference between any other book and a book of scripture highlighting the power and element of transcendence we place in our holy books. The Bible, The Biography was a real eye-opener to me in respect of how the bible and the Torah have been collated and interpreted, the way in which they have caused revolutions but also the way the zeitgeist of the time has informed scholars interpretation of them. What particularly intrigued me was the assertion by some that these were meant to be oral scriptures, memorised and kept alive, changing according to the needs of their community, a viewpoint so different to our belief about the Quran which has stood unchanged since the day it was revealed (part of the reason early scholars were loathe to write down the Torah was because of the fear that something written could be destroyed in the way the temple in Jerusalem was)

One of my few criticisms of this book might have been that at many points I would have liked more details (for example Jesus’s (AS) life is covered in a paragraph), but this indicates the level of interest that Armstrong elicits, it leaves you wanting to learn more. Also more details would have meant a bigger, more in-depth book and I think one of the writers aims (especially apparent in Islam: A Short Introduction) has been to bring the world of academic religious study to the layman.

I found this book accessible and eye-opening despite its complex subject and I liked how it ended with the problems created by some interpretations of scripture, but also offered solutions.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Some Eid Cards for my Mum

I had planned to give the Eid cards a rest, but my gran requested some to send from herself and as my mum hasn't been too well, I offered to send some from her to family members along with mine, so I put some together very quickly from designs I had used before and from the bits and peices left in my craft box. Some of these are simple designs, others are experimental, but i am happier with these than the last ones I made.

Friday 19 September 2008

The Pleasure of Small Things

As it is the precious Jummah day and because I am in a good mood (despite the kids throwing Penguin chocolate bars into the loo and blocking it up) this list felt apt:

The Pleasure of Small Things

Eating toast in bed on a rainy day.
The feeling of warm water on my hands when you I wash dishes.
The snugness of your hijab on a cold day.
Getting a ride in my husband’s truck.
Snowflakes on your children’s eyelashes (and your tongue)
Having the kids in bed with me.
The smell of just-washed bed-linen
Being called “muu-um” (or even better “my mum” in Little Man’s case)
The sun on your face on a mild day.
That sigh when you finish a good book.
Window shopping for things you could never buy
Seeing my feet again (after I had each of my little ones)
Writing in a brand new clean, empty notebook.
The feel and taste of chocolate melting in your mouth.
Slow Sunday mornings
Teasing the kids
Walking in long grass
Long conversations with Kooky about books
Long conversations with my husband about life
Vegetating on my mum’s sofa
Listening to my gran’s stories
Leaving work early
Playing baout with my craft materials for inspiration
When the kids are asleep and hubby isn’t home and I get the internet to myself.
Eating Long-Suffering Sisters chocolate and then denying it
Drinking water in a mug
Looking at the flowers in people’s front gardens
That quiet moment in the afternoon, when you have nothing to do (or do, but ignore it) and all of the kids have fallen asleep.
Laughing so hard with my sisters that I can’t breathe
Seeing green things
Reading the newspapers when I should be working
Ginger biscuits
Rolling down hills (although the older and bigger you get, the more you get battered)
Getting to the stop just as the bus pulls in (especially when finding the bus empty)
Putting henna on my children’s hands.
When my dad-in-law calls me “beta” (daughter)
Picking up the post (except when its all bills)
Watching the children fight to get into my lap
The weight of a sleeping child in your arms.
That feeling of relief and lightness after a fever subsides
Using a brand new lipstick.
That Friday feeling (no school, no work, going to mum’s)

What small pleasures make your day and bring the moment alive for you?

Jummah Mubarak

Being Yourself As A Muslimah at Work

As a Muslimah in the workplace you have you deal with many issues: the assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices held about you by other people which you have to disprove, finding ways to make wudhu and pray and trying to avoid activities that are haraam (prohibited) to us but are seen by many as part of work: going for a drink after work, lunch at the pub etc. I also find that Muslimah’s are also very heavily orientated towards family life and so more than likely to have to contain their working lives so that they don’t impinge more than necessary on their home lives.

With all of these struggles, I have found that sometimes Muslim women don’t shine in the way that they can. There are always those sisters who struggle with wearing hijab or deciding to remove it, those that take the first steps towards deciding to pray at work and for each there is a personal effort and struggle which I believe we should support her with and not judge her for.

But I have also come across at least one sister who despite wearing hijab did not seem to like her Muslim sister’s much and seemed to think that associating with them would not be beneficial to her career (that just didn’t make sense to me). Then there are the sisters who go about the office with the sourest of looks on their face. Of course even trailblazing, example-setting, amazing hijabi sisters have the right to get out of the wrong side of bed now and again, but I have noticed some sisters who never, ever smile. Never! They never respond to your overtures of friendship, they never smile back, they are a completely closed book. Of course a sister who decides to protect her privacy is to be respected as the sister at Independent Learners so eloquently illustrates, because we do not always know what is going on in her life.

Of course this is not the case with all Muslimah’s in the workplace. Many are outgoing, noisy and friendly (like my bestest friend who looks out for fellow Muslimah’s). I think our having a positive attitude is important. I like to be open and to see openness in others. I feel that in this way are benefiting ourselves and others. If we are open about our needs for a place to pray for example, perhaps it will be there for the next person. If we can be open about why we don’t want to go down the pub, maybe colleagues will be more sensitive about asking other Muslims.

I also think being open and honest is a form of dawah – showing Muslim women as brave and truthful, it also makes it easy for people to ask us questions about being a Muslim and Islam – again a very good thing I think. Of course I don’t advocate being over-friendly with the men in the office, but I also don’t like this stereotype of the mysterious exotic eastern veiled woman which we get lumbered with – nope I like fish and chips and watch Malcolm in the Middle just like you mate.

I believe that life is for sharing and in that honesty and sharing there is space for dawah as long as we are also brave and honest enough to set our limits from the start. I like the way a trainer on a course I attended put it. This gentleman was one of the interviewers for applicants for the TV programme The Apprentice and he said that some people walked into a room and their good attitude and good nature just lit up the whole room – don’t you just love it when you meet a Muslimah like that (my bestest beloved friend again I think is one such person).

Another lesson I keep in mind, when I get nervous at work or feel self-conscious of my faith or hijab is from my husband who says that if you fear people and things everything will terrify you, but if you fear Allah (SWT) only, then the whole world will stand in awe of you subhan’Allah.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Eid Gift Ideas

I know it seems a bit early, as we should be focussing on Ramadan rather than Eid, but for those that decide to buy presents, they need the time to buy them. I always have a hard time trying to decide what to get my sisters hence the wishlists this year. However, trawling the net and past Eids have given me a few ideas:

For Her
Pretty scarves and pashmina’s (sarongs can also be used for this purpose)
Bling – Swarovski jewellery (from ebay if you can’t afford full price)
An abaya (my fave online shops in the UK are Lebaas, Al-Hijab and Arabian Nites) although sisters Alixianna, Ange, Jana and Basbousa are offering up great ideas for Eid right now.
Magazine subscriptions (for Emel, Sisters etc).

For Him
Alcohol-free scent
Autobiography of Malcolm X
Any of the numerous Muhammed Ali books
Name a star after him (£20 instead of £40 at the moment) - I can't deecide if this is a total waste of money or an adorable gift, I suspect my better half would think the latter, so might not go for this one.
Halal Sweets
Islamic or educational toys and books.
Dress up Box for a Little Girl – fill with tiara, gaudy jewellery, your old bangles, gloves, hats and scarves. They’ll have a blast when the other little girls visit.
Craft supplies to get them started (scrap-booking, card-making, embroidery, knitting, jewellery-making). Last year I gave my two teenage girl cousins, small boxes full of a mix of beads and elastic cord.

Family Friends and Neighbours
Home-baked cakes or cookies
Mithai (Indian sweets) or baklawa

Anyone and Everyone
Islamic Books
If you are a craft enthusiast then anything handmade – jewellery, candles, knitted items etc.
Adhan clock
Journal or notebook (Siratt have some nice Islamic options)
Home made baskets or boxes. I pick these up from the £-store or the boot market and fill them to suit the person. Last year I found six matching silver boxes with portions of the lid made of clear plastic for £2.50 at a boot sale. I filled them with toiletries, sweets, games, Parker pens and anything else I had accumulated over the year and gave them to my male cousins.
I filled another large basket with fruit, sweets, nuts and honey to present to my mum on Eid day.
When I was a kid, my parents used to have lovely Gujerati neighbours who used to stop by every Eid morning and bring round a big plate of home-made Indian sweets, cakes, biscuits and savoury snacks. I loved this tradition (and the almond and cherry biccies) and look back on it with affection.

Also if you are sending out food, don’t forget your non-Muslim neighbours, they will love the special food and that you thought of them and it will be a very sweet form of dawah (as they will want to know why you are celebrating)

Incidentally ideas for wrapping paper can include comic’s from the Sunday paper, old road maps, old sheet music and tissue paper (my little sisters friends do this with small gifts like earrings or a scarf and it looks very nice)

Frugal Gift Ideas:
63 Gift Ideas for Under $10
30 Frugal Gift Ideas to Show You Appreciate Someone
How to Save Money with Great Gift Ideas
Simplify the Holidays

I agree that not everyone can afford lots of presents and also that it’s wrong to be extravagant with money or try to emulate the festivals of others. But it is nice to give someone something that will make their day, especially as in our house we don’t celebrate birthdays, so Eid makes up for it. The only person that I would really spend a lot of money on is my parents or gran, followed by siblings. It doesn’t take much to please little ones, the excitement of the day and your enthusiasm will make any gift look great.

The Prophet (PBUH) said “exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love for one another”. [Bukhari]

Aa’ishah said: "The Messenger of Allah used to accept gifts and reward people for giving them." [Bukari - thanks to Hijabi Apprentice for this hadith]

I would love to hear your gift ideas pretty please.

Friday 12 September 2008

Ramadan Rage

I don’t know if it was hunger, or whether exhaustion caused it, I think it was probably just due, but yesterday I had one of my intermittent rages (my husband braces himself for an outburst every three months or so). I had had a long day and carried home some very heavy shopping which left me exhausted and with a sore back. I got home from work only to find that the house had been trashed, the children were handing my food to the neighbours (again!!) through the whole in the fence they had all pitched in to make. Little Man had peed on the bathroom floor and the baby’s nappy had leaked. All this and I still had to pray Asr and prepare the food to open our fast in a short time. I was livid, I was in absolute despair. My husband had gone out on a job and left the children for a few hours with my brother-in-law. I took one look, threw my bags on the floor and ran upstairs to call my husband to have a good cry on the phone to him. He had a point when he asked what he could possibly do from where he was and that I should rest and he would bring home take-away and then get the kids to clear up. It was a nice suggestion, but I was not quite sane at the point. So I prayed Asr first, had a good cry and then got going. I warned the kids never to touch MY food without asking again and that they better put everything in the house back in its place NOW!!! I told them that I didn’t like anybody very much at that moment. I realised afterwards how mean I was being. When I was a kid if my mum would have told me she doesn’t like me very much right now, I would have been very happy – it hurts much less than a whupping. But Little Lady got very upset. In the meantime, my brother-in-law had taken one look at my expression on entering the house and ran off out of the house into his friends car, probably the best thing he could have done.

Anyway at the end of three hours of manic activity – cooking, cleaning, a bit more crying and shouting at small children my blood pressure had still not come down. That took my husband first cajoling, then putting his foot down. He agreed to fix the hole in the fence:
“But why couldn’t you just say so instead of getting angry?”
“I have said, lots of times!”
“When have you said it seriously?”
“I was serious each time!”
He also agreed to speak to his brother about supervising the children more closely and had serious words with the children about taking food from our cupboards and handing it to the neighbours (like a whole box of chocs someone gave me!!!)

So when I got home today, the house was in order, there was food from yesterday and the kids were clean (fairly – I don’t trust the baby since he started picking slugs up in the garden). I should relax, except hubby has had the bright idea of inviting friends over to break fast with us, just for a few people…about 20!! So I better get cooking.

But I have no complaints alhamdulillah because at least it’s Friday. Jummah Mubarak!!

Eid Wish List

I e-mailed my sisters and asked them what they wanted for Eid as I couldn’t think of anything. These (below) are their wish lists, so what do they say about us?
(Apologies for this nonsense, this is what I have to put up with)

Hello girls,
you have till tomorrow to get your wish lists for Eid in as I need time to get the stuff.

Hello ladies,

Here is my list:

Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allendes (book)
Lindt chocolate (red box only)
The Illusionist dvd
Some black ankle socks (Next are good)
Sweeney Todd dvd
Cloverfield dvd
Some money to a charity for me

Can’t think of anything else so I think this is it-please give me your lists asap

dnt want anything in particular for eid, maybe that paris hilton heiress perfume as mine is running low (dnt comment on that!) if u guys want anything let me know as i wnt have time for any eid shopping (i.e. faffing around shops trying to figure out wat u want) otherwise il just go pound shop and buy u all dolly mixtures, so tell me now! (on hotmail add) if i think of anything else i want il let u know, my brain is switched off at the mo. byeee!

Muhammad - a biog from the earliest sources - Martin Lings (book)
Khalid Bin Walid - a biography (not sure who is the author, but the latest book to come out)
Tafsir (Commentary) of Quran in English (expensive, so might ask hubby)
Quran tapes with English translation to listen to while I cook (expensive, so might ask hubby)
Sharpie markers - black
Sharpie markers - pack of 10 at WHSmith
Royal Jelly capsules (vegetarian shell please)
Some nice boxes to decorate and store my junk in (cardboard, wood etc - cheap and cheerful basically)
Craft supplies

That's all I can think of
LSS, you asked for ankle socks and Lindt cheesy-chocolate last year, your list is crap, put some more stuff on it.
FASH, you are going to end up with three bottles of Paris Hilton perfume, so add more stuff on your list
KLS, get a move on or you will be getting malteasers and some hair bands from the £-shop (oh and some more toe-socks)

i read isabel allende, she wrote the mask of zorro, twas cool.erm, i have a long book list but i reckon the main ones i want are juliet mariller books, although they might be a bit expensive, in which case dont bother, i'll ebay them (basically, the sevenwater or whatever its called trilogy), daughter of the forest, son of the shadows and child of the prophecy cos ilford library is gay and only has star trek or mills and boons books.and i also want some warehouse and asos clothes but i reckon you lot would rather buy them and them set fire to them in front of me rather than give them to me, so just get me some WEARABLE pretty scarfs, preferable plain, no dodgy granma prints or pinks or whites, definitely no pastel colours, the colours i like to wear like blue or maroon or dark blue, or bottle green or just something really funky like olive.oh yeah and i want a dark blue (but not navy top) cos i cant be asked to get it myself. actually sod that i'll find it on ebay so dont get it.otherwise gimme a lot of moneys.p.s. i dont know why you lot keep starting your emails with "hello ladies" like we're the stepford wives or something. and what does 'asa' mean i still cant figure it out. is it 'also said as'??

You're such a retard, next time I will start my e-mail hello ladies and a donkey.
ASA means Assalam-alaikam you Arabically-challenged donkey - ("twas"?!)

Can you write a proper list without all the crap in it –I don’t have all day to try and decipher it!

the dvds, scarfs, chocolate and moneys. and asos/warehouse clothes.

A proper list –with bullet points and specific wants otherwise your gona get a dvd called how to garden or killer bees –I’m not joking!

i cnat be bothered i do it later
(the English student in her emerging)

My Favourite Uncle

When I was a little girl I lived in a big old house in Upton Park near the famous Green Street with my parents, grandparents and two uncles (Dad’s younger brothers). The younger of these two was a student, sporting the adidas bag and giant sunglasses of that time. He was also and still is my most favourite uncle and one of my best friends.

As the youngest he spent all of his time being told off by his older brothers and parents and managed to get through college barely in one piece (he was being bullied by a bunch of girls). He and his friends loved to take me out with them and I must have seen half of London, except I was too young to remember. I do remember him telling me to stand near the dirty pond in West Ham Park to take my picture, he kept telling me to step back a bit and next thing I knew I was in the pond.

He adored children and he spent most of his 20’s dragging me, my siblings and our cousins up and down Green Street and to the local park. I recall a park keeper at West Ham once asking him with incredulity: “Are ALL of ‘em your’n?” to which he replied “No, not even one”

What I remember him most for though is for coming home from work, having his dinner and then taking me to the sweet shop. He always bought me the giant Cadburies chocolate bar, an extravagance in those days and told me to finish it before we got in so my mum and the other kids didn’t see. The beginning of my life-long love affair with the choco-bean.
There’s a lesson in the way he behaved though. I think about him and it confirms my belief that Allah loves the meek and gentle and that for those who have sabr, there are rewards. Despite dropping out of college, being bullied left, right and centre and spending his life doing difficult jobs that don’t pay well, he is blessed with a beautiful, fiercely religious wife and the most beautiful children in our family (including his older daughter who is training to become an alima (scholar) before she goes to university and a very bright younger son due to begin hifz of Quran). What makes me really happy is seeing that his oldest son Dan is turning out just like him and my children are his biggest fans.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Links to Eid and Ramadan Crafts and Children's Activities

Great Ramadan crafts compiled by Umm Nassim for TJ Ramadan or here for the PDF version

Umm Nassim is also currently posting a series entitled Ramadan Around the World

Yemen Links has a page called Ramadan Lessons, page two has some good craft ideas for making with children.

I love the idea here for ramadan sweets at The Muslim Homeschool and used these for my ramadan baskets last year.

Umm Layla of The Egyptian's wife has a lovely-looking Ramadan Calendar to make

Modern Muslimah has children’s activities, decoration and craft ideas and party tips and a page called Ramadan Fun Time.

The Muslim Connection has a good page with a activity planner and a very nice book called “Ramadan is” which I will enjoy sharing with my children.

Lots of great activities at the excellent SoundVision

Mission Islam has lots of Ramadan articles, lessons plans, games and activities with a nice section at the bottom for children.

The Wayfarers’s Journey blog has some great ideas for things to make and do for children including a Sesame Street Ramadan coloring sheet.

I will add anyothers I find, your reccommendations are welcome.

Things That Make Me Smile 5

Monday 8 September 2008


The traditional foods for Ramadan in Pakistan include Dhai Balle, Fruit Chaat and Pakora which my family had been hinting they wanted. These are served with tea, at parties and also to accompany main meals. My brother-in-law who just married insists on them being made every day during Ramadan. I had planned on telling his wife that he detested them and not to mention them in front of him or try making them, but I forgot. I had a go at making some yesterday with not very impressive results, so my husband decided to take matters into his own hands.

400 grams gram flour
1 cup water
1 large onion - quartered and sliced thinly lengthways
1 large potato (baking potato ideal), peeled and sliced thinly
medium bunch spinach - chopped into thin strips
2-3 chillis (or less if desired) - chopped as finely as possible
1 table-spoon chilli powder
1 level table-spoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of coriander powder if available, otherwise tablespoon of crushed coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder or seeds
1 egg
1-2 tablespoons of yogurt (my mum's tip)
both of the above are to give the pakora's softness.
teaspoon pomegranate powder (anardhana) if available.

Set a wok of cooking oil on medium heat whilst preparing the mix.
Mix the gram flour and water, add salt, chilli powder, coriander, cumin powder/seeds and pomegranate powder until smooth batter forms. Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Once the mixture is ready, turn the oil up to near full heat and drop a spoonful of the pakora mix carefully in. If it starts to sizzle and rise to the top, the oil is ready. Drop in further spoonfuls so that the pakora's are spaced out. Fry until golden on both sides. Tasty with tomato ketchup, chilli sauce or green chutney.