Tuesday 30 December 2008

There Are No Words

Islamic Relief Worldwide Palestine Gaza Strip Appeal
Muslim Aid 2M Emergency Appeal for Gaza
Muslim Hands Appeal: Gaza Under Attack
Ummah Welfare Trust: Gaza Crisis Appeal

Raising Yousuf and Noor: Diary of a Palestinian Mother
Islamic Relief Aid-Worker Diary
Electronic Intifada
From Gaza, With Love
Oxfam's Gaza Blog

Is there Food on my Niqab - Bloodiest Day Since 1967
Is there Food on my Niqab - Be the Change
Beautiful Muslimah - Israel Attacks Palestine Openly Now
Chasing Jannah - They Killed My Brothers & Sisters
Hegab Rehab - Palestine
Hegab Rehab - Helping
Suspect Paki - Injustice Shock
The Ideal Muslimah - Take Action Now: Save Lives in Palestine!
On the Path to Jannah - My Heart is Bleeding

“The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain” ~ Muslim and Bukhari

Recipe: Mint Chutney

This is a nice accompaniment to rice or curry and chappati, especially if you are looking for some added heat. It can also be used in place of (or alongside) tomato ketchup with samosa’s, spring rolls, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka or kebabs – anything that needs some sauce.

Bunch coriander (large handful)
Bunch mint (large handful)
1 raw mango
1 tomato - quartered
2 green chilli’s (I use the bullet variety) – decrease or increase including to taste although if you increase or use a hotter type of chilli (think birds-eye or bonnet), you might want to taste a bit before pouring it all over your food.
Level teaspoon salt
Pinch pomegranate powder (if available)
Natural yoghurt (not the yummy Greek kind) – however much you fancy.

Peel the mango and slice the flesh off. Place in blender with tomato, chilli’s, salt and pomegranate powder and puree (you may need to add dash of water to help it liquefy). Add coriander and mint and blend. You should have a thick, very deep green sauce. Fold in some yoghurt with a spoon (if you do this in the blender the chutney will be thinner and full of bubbles).

I usually mix half with yoghurt and serve and freeze the other half for another occasion, when you can just let it thaw and then mix the yoghurt in.

Monday 29 December 2008

Mum and Dad are Back

Spent yesterday and today at my mum's. My parents got back from Pakistan utterly exhausted after a nine hour flight to a house full of noise and guests so had to spend the next five or six hours entertaining guests much to our chagrin (at one point my dad's best friend was chatting away to him whilst he had fallen asleep). Was lovely to welcome them home though and we basked in mum's warm hugs and kisses.

My aunty was kind enough to cook us a giant pot of biryani despite having to pick her husband up from the airport too. I was so annoyed at the thoughtless guests that I made them tea and served them mouldy old biscuits and stale sweets much to my mum's embarrassment.

They came back with gifts for all of us, but best of all they made their house home again. Despite Long-Suffering Sisters best efforts to clear up, mum spent the day clearing mouldering things from the fridge and restoring order to the house.

My favourite was her story about the elderly man, his elderly wife and their young grandson that occupied the seat in front of her. A few hours into the flight the old man pitched a fit because he wanted to go home and he could not see why they were not letting him off the flight. His grandson tried to explain and then called an air stewardess to convince the man they were in mid-air. A little while later the old man pitched a fit at his wife because she didn't get him a glass of water. When she explained she asked but the stewardess asked her to wait, he mumbled "what did I bring you along for then?". My mum kept smiling until his last comment when she burst into laughter. He squirmed in his seat and then declared this manjhi (Punjabi rope bed) is pinching me.

Kooky Little Sister got these two suits. A churidar (fit-and-flare dress with fitted trousers) and a trouser suit. The emboidery on the black one is one the back, which seems to be quite a trend at the moment.

These two were for Fashionista who loved them and declared hers were the best.

This one was for Long-Suffering Sister who is the least adventurous of us style-wise. I thought it was a lovely classic shape. The colours (burgundy and sky-blue) are also perfect if she wants to be a West Ham FC supporter. The only thing was the trousers were a bit short. There is a unfortunate trend in Pakistan at the moment for putting Capri pants with tunics - very appropriate for the majority of traditional Pakistani's - not. Mum says she can undo the bottom and make it longer (otherwise Fash is short and can try cadging it off LSS).

Mine was the simplest and most practical (the rest were mostly delicate chiffon and silk numbers). Something warm and smart to wear on a day off. The trousers are plain green and prefectly straight and the tunic comfy and wearable (and in my fave colour GREEN).

Little Lady, being nan's little princess, got two suits; a pink sharara (short tunic and trousers that flare at the knee) and a pink (obviously) churidar.

So now we have mum and dad back, although they are both still sad and want to talk lots about gran which is fine with me. There is now also a clutch of us girls with lots to wear and nowhere to go (although I am sure Kooky Little Sis will say "speak for yourself" before swanning off to her latest friend's wedding).

Exercise Books and Flashcards

I wrote recently about flashcards and a few days later I found these Crayola flashcards in Poundland, so I thought I would pass news of the bargain on to those in the UK. I like Crayola products (especially colouring pencils) because of their quality and these were no exception (although I could not find the normal sale price on the net). Numbers and Colours and Shapes are for the boys and the Multiplication pack is for Little Lady. Fashionista (teacher) Sister had a look and particularly liked the multiplication cards as she thought they were good for playing maths games.

The other bargain I have found in there are these exercise books which Ibought at the start of the year but which are still in Poundland . They are £1 each (RRP £2.50) and I have found them to be brilliant. They are still in the shop and my children have benefitted greatly from them (as can be seen from how grubby they are getting). There are also other books including numeracy (we left ours in Pakistan) and the range goes up to 8-9 years old.

Friday 26 December 2008

Boxing Day Sales and Guests

I woke up this morning and immediately thought of the post-Christmas sales (one of the three things I can stomach about Christmas, the others being the break from work and watching all the good films on my mum's telly). So I left the kids in bed with their dad, who was trying to ignore them and sleep, and headed to the town centre. I was hopin to pick up some school stuff for the kids or some gifts to stash for use throughout the year. An hour later, hands and face numb from the bitter cold, I decided to give up and head home.

Retailers are complaining that shoppers are staying way and that lack of pending is contributing to the recession and retailers going bust, but today was a reminder why in some cases. The shops were full of useless junk - either surplus to a persons needs or poor quality. The few things I liked the look of were still very expensive or not reduced at all. All of the shops sported signs proclaiming 70% off, but inside all I could see were 20-30% off in most cases. I think I might till the end of the sales and have one look around.

Instead of a bargain, all I managed to do was knacker myself out. This nasty virus we have all had seems to be lingering and I still get tired very quickly, or suddenly find my feet dead and threatening to topple me. My nose still looks like someone took a blowtorch to the underside and I am still getting through a roll of tissue a day, making disgusting snorting noises. Alhamdulillah, it's nothing like two weeks ago when I was really bad.

I was annoyed for getting so tired, because we had guests due to visit today. So instead of being sensible and giving my husband a shopping list which he would happily have trundled off with, I did the rounds of the butchers and grocers. Of course, there being so many Asian businesses in this area, everything was open despite it being Boxing Day. Heck, everything was open here on Christmas Day, although I am sure that's not allowed and the traders must have known this because they didn't have all their junk blocking the pavement as usual.

As soon as the shopping as done, I headed straight for the kitchen where I spent the morning in a grump because what I really wanted to do was lie down. i got a good chunk of the cooking done and then finally spent an hour in bed mid-afternoon reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (which I haven't decided yet if I like or not).

Much refreshed despite continuous disturbances from the kids, I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen.

I made the food I make most often when I need to cook for quite a few people. Pilau rice and very spicy chicken curry. Brother-in-law kindly picked up the naan bread on his way back from collecting the guests.

The better half and my cousins (who were also in attendance - including my cousin Tayyib) all love salad with their rice, so I chopped up cucumber, Chinese lettuce, tomatoes and green bell pepper, added some sweet corn and grated in some carrots

My husband also can't do without mint sauce with his rice so whizzed some up (recipe to follow).

Didn't have the enrgy for a sweet dish so made seasoned fruit salad for the grown-ups and jelly with peaches or the children. Little Man managed to wolf down nearly the whole bowl of jelly by himself.

My aunty was kind enough to wash most of the dishes and my husband seemed to think it would be a good idea for him to do the rest whilst I hoovered. The assortment of kids managed to make a big mess, some of which Little Lady managed to tidy up. The kids were so tired they were out for the count in minutes (Gorgeous closed his eyes before his head the pillow). I'm still going to make them scrape off the stickers they stuck all over the floor tomorrow. I am just cream-crackered, so I am taking my sore self off to bed and having another go at that book.

Thursday 25 December 2008

Blues and Greens

I found myself with a quiet evening to have a go at making something that would go with my green and blue clothing. I use mostly glass beads and a few acrylic and clay beads, including some charm-type drop beads on metal hooks.

This mix of colours are my favourite together. They would look nice with black, white and any plain shade of blue or green. I intend to wear them mostly with my navy abaya and pumps and plain dark blue hijab.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Mum – Back off Slowly!!

At the moment I am killing time at work, surfing the net and waiting until 12.30 when we are all going to be let out of our cages (not really fair to my employers, but I feel caged up at the moment). I also have one eye on the mountain of tins full of chocolates and biscuits that Councillor’s have been giving us (thanks for a year’s hard work, here’s a £5 tin of Quality Street between the lot of you).

I am looking forward to the next eight consecutive days off from work, as ever I have ideas whizzing through my head. I have ordered some jewellery cord and have some new ideas for long necklaces to wear under hijab. I wanted to make some new baby and wedding cards as I used up last years supply and I wanted to think carefully about making Eid cards to sell for next year. I also wanted to write lots for this blog given the chance (despite the fact my brother-in-law has kindly loaned me his laptop after the kids let a virus into my computer – so probably no uploading photo’s for now). My parents are also back from Pakistan during this period, so my sisters might need a hand cleaning the house up and putting food back into the cupboards.

Most importantly thought I wanted to spend some quality time with the kids. Quality time is usually the time that guilt-tripping working parents force on their children in their spare time, thinking that trying to do too much in a few hours or days will compensate for all the time they are at work or too tired. Anyway, I hope to spend the time sensibly, teaching Quran, reading to them (which they can never get enough of), some handwriting and math’s practice for Little Lady and some alphabet and number practice with Little Man. Truly though I foresee a lot of sleeping in, sitting in bed reading, watching the Dr Who special on the telly at my mum’s and if the mild weather holds some nice long winter walks.

Little Lady and the Story of Zamzam.

Currently Little Lady and Little Man are hogging the computer every time I am out of the room. I have been warning them to stay away and not touch without permission as a computer is not a toy, but I suspect that whilst my husband was away and my brother-in-law was watching the kids (whilst I was at work), he has been letting YouTube baby-sit for him. The kids are obsessed with Tom and Jerry, everything from the black and white cartoons to the present day Tom and Jerry kid’s series. Even the baby is in on the act pointing at the computer and demanding MOUSE! MOUSE! One of the benefits of the current trend for learning to read phonetically is that children can work out difficult words. This is compounded by Google, who will give you the right spelling if you get it wrong. So Little Lady types in Youtube and then Tom and Jerry and find the cartoons. I am not pleased.

So on Sunday in a fit of pique, I told them if they must watch, they can only watch Islamic cartoons. I started with Adams World and then found them a cartoon about Zamzam. The cartoon was not great and difficult for them to follow, so I called Little Lady away and while I worked in the kitchen told her the story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and why we celebrate Eid-al-Adha and where Zam zam comes from. She was enthralled (her mother’s daughter of course; we both love a good story).

Later that day we went to visit my middle uncle who had just returned from hajj. He had planned to go, but on my grandmother’s death decided to perform Hajj-e-Badal for her. I was presented with a plate of dates and a tall glass of what looked like orange juice. I sat refusing to drink it, getting more and more annoyed that no-one had offered me a drop of zamzam., until my aunty asked why I wasn’t drinking my zamzam water. The glass was painted orange! So I drank half and went looking for the kids who had gone upstairs to play. When I told that what was in the glass Little Lady and my little cousin jumped up with delight and queued up with Little Man behind them for a taste.

It’s nice when a lesson is backed by an example of something. Nice coincidence I think. Coincidentally, Mabrook to those who are returning from Hajj and Hajj Mabroor insh’Allah. I hope this is life-changing for you and that Allah accepts it from you and that you have opportunity to visit His House again and again insh’Allah.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Teaching Alphabet

I took Friday off from work to rest and good thing I did. I got a call from Little Lady's school to come in and confirm whether we wanted the nursery place that has become available for Little Man. Did we! After all the palaver last September when he was supposed to start, we were very happy to confirm. Little Man has been ready to go school since he saw Little Lady set off for nursery.

Coincidentally, this week I also came across a link for alphabet flashcards which you can print out. The vowels were in red, but as I printed out in black and white, I marked the vowels with purple stickers. Little Lady is very keen to start teaching Little Man and he can't wait to get started either.

I wrote these words on card and cut them out for Little Lady to practice. She can read most of them now, except awkward ones like "eyes". At some point I will add new words for her.

As Fashionista Sister is nearly a fully-fledged teacher now insh'Allah, she has been an invaluable source of advice regarding teaching children. She also gave me this absolutely brilliant pack put together by the Department for Education and Skills for teachers, which includes guidance notes for teaching and a six phase teaching programme called "Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics". Reading through I found it to be invaluable if you want to know more about what your child's teacher is doing, or teach them yourself. I found a downloadable PDF version of the whole pack here.

One other thing. Despite my best efforts to avoid Christmas, Little Lady has been coming home with lots of Christmas cards. Although these will all go in the recycling bin the minute she forgets about them, some of the pictures are not too Christmassy and will be cut out and put in their craft box for scrapbooking.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Presents from Pakistan

My husband returned from Pakistan on Thursday, much to my relief and delight ("Salaam, nice to see you, here are the kid's - I'm off to sleep for the next two weeks" - only joking). I feel like life has found it's balance again and that things are how they should be. He came back bearing gifts as people always do when coming this way from Pakistan and I loved ech of them.
This picture does this suit no justice, it's exactly sky-blue and the material feels very silky. It has a shalwar (Pakistani trousers) with it.

My favourite were the very pretty sleeves. The shawl was embroidered in the same way and would make a nice big hijab.

I thought the red chiffon suit was pretty until my husband told me to turn it around. The back has more work that the front (all down the zip). The pants were a shalwar again made of some funky chinese-print silky material called "Shanghai" in Pakistan.

The neckline from the front.

I love the colour of this midnight blue suit, the embroidery is quite heavy, so I will have to wait for a special occassion to wear this.

I think Long-Suffering Sister has something very similar to this suit (so she has all of the accessories to go with it). Some of the work on the suit:

This suit is also different because it has trousers instead of a shalwar (and very funky they are too).

Littler Lady was overjoyed with her lengha (skirt suit), because she thought the colour was like a mermaid's tail (she has a major thing for mermaids at the moment). She was very happy when I told her the style was called "fishtail" or "mermaid" lengha.

It has a lot of embroidery for a little girl, but it seems they like to cover ever surface in embellishment in Pakistan.

Everyone's favourite though was the food. The tins contain a sweet called "Sohan Halwa" from Multan (which is famous for it) which my husband likes. The yellow box holds small brittle sweets made of ghee and raw sugar called "Raiveri" which my kids adore and the bag is one of two full of fresh roasted peanuts from my husband's Aunty's farm - my favourite. My bestest friend is also going through a peanut farm, so I will be taking her some when I next visit too.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Feeling Human Again

After two weeks, I felt like a human being again today, so decided to get going. We have all been eating junk and left-overs so I made some steaming hot and very spicy chickpea curry and mince kebabs for my sisters.

After feeding the kids all sorts for the last few days, I decided to make them some hearty lentil curry and wholewheat chappati's. It was especially heartening to see Gorgeous suddenly find his appetite and eat everything in sight after refusing food for so many days.

Long-Suffering Sister kindly dropped off some treats for the children, I loved the rainbow jewellery (that has gone down to £1 in Claires Accessories if anyone is interested)

I really did think I had lost my passion for life. I wasn't interested in blogging and nothing else held my attention. I couldn't imagine having much passion for anything in life and have been beseeching Allah for some improvement (with poor health, sick kids, broken sleep, exhaustion from managing alone) knowing that things would be fine soon, but not having the patience not to feel utterly miserable.

Today though, everyone noticed a spring in my step, I felt interested in so many things (blogging, art for children, teaching Little Man to read - more on these when I get a mo). I had the energy to get into the kitchen and make sure the kids were well fed and to plan for the next few days. Alhamdulillah.

I had hoped to end the day by getting into my beads which had been sitting neglected for so long, but I think that was expecting too much. Will have a go with the blue beads soon and see what I can come up with.

Tayyibs Blog: The Islamic World

My 10-year old cousin Tayyib has caught the blogging bug and decided to have a go. His new blog is called The Islamic World and I have been enjoying reading the entries about Eid, family, death and school.

He attends an Islamic homeschooling project and I thought his blogging would be a great insight into the mind of a Muslim child.

Monday 15 December 2008

Book Review: Alexander McCall Smith – The Miracle at Speedy Motors

Despite being a fan, I had not even realised that McCall-Smith had written a ninth novel in this series (the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency), so I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this book in the library as I have enjoyed every one of the books from this writer.

The book follows the usual format of a number of enquiries being investigated by our two detectives Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi and gently being unravelled almost as if by themselves. This time we have the case of the anonymous threatening letters sent to Mma Ramotswe herself and the case of the adopted woman looking for her family – something which the detectives struggle to understand simply because the concept of being without family (or people as Mma Ramotswe calls them) in Botswana is inconceivable.

As ever the story is interspersed with the drama of the characters own lives. Mma Makutsi’s forthcoming wedding, apprentice mechanic Charlie’s dreams of wowing a rich woman and Mr J L B Matekoni’s attempts at helping his wheelchair-bound, adopted daughter to walk. Each is met with varying levels of success causing both hilarity and pathos.

During the first half of this book, I almost felt as if I had seen it all before and that this book did not quite have the spirit of the earlier ones. However, as I got into the story, that feeling receded and was replaced by the sense of serenity and quietness that McCall-Smith’s books bring about. Again he touches gently on the matter of AIDS and of the corruption and unkindness that modern life brings. Again we feel a lot of affection for Botswana.

If you have read all of the books so far, I would recommend this one. If not, I would recommend you go back to the beginning and read the first one (The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and go from there.

Germs and Robberies

Between us girls we are all still having a mighty fine time. My head is still all blocked and my dentist has advised that the toothache is being caused by the sinusitis. Little Man is coughing away and Gorgeous has spent all weekend veering between being feverish and the fever coming down and him running around manically (brother-in-law is kindly taking him to the doctor this morning).

Long-Suffering Sister came down with the same nastiness on the weekend. I woke up for fajr (I was staying over at theirs) only to hear a loud thud in the bathroom, wondering why LSS was kicking the bath, I went up with Fasionista Sister to investigate. She told us that she had blacked out, but every time we told her to get the door open we would hear another loud THUD. I think she blacked-out about 6 or 7 times then managed to get the door open and crawl out bruised and scraped. We offered to get an ambulance but she just wanted to get back in bed (I think she was very embarrassed). She sounded terrible on the phone this morning although she kept insisting she was well enough to go to work

Fashionista is also curled up like a woodlouse and sniffing away, but thankfully can stay away from work for the next few days if she needs to.

Kooky Little Sister managed to get to work despite declaring she is dying on the weekend (I told her this was because I was recuperating on her sofa and she told me “you’re not dying you know”). She says her head is muffled and she can’t hear a thing and oh by the way another branch of the company she works for just got robbed at gunpoint and the robbers are heading to her branch. I told her to try and pull a sickie and go home and she says there are no managers to tell. I asked her about security and she came back with:

“our security system is really s**t, the security guard is famous for being a coward, whenever stuff happens he either stands and watches or runs away
I don’t think I could pull a sickie, the managers are all off today and its a bit chaos”

I hope nothing happens. In the end, I told her if in doubt, just lie down on the floor and pray Ayat ul Qursi. Not very happy that she should be put in this position.

Work-wise, my attempt at negotiating my grade was sidestepped very neatly by management and I have lost the nerve to apply for the more senior jobs that are being advertised.

On the positive side:

It has bought out a nice, caring side to my brother that made us all do a double take. He has been pushing medicines and food at us and asking after us.
My other half is back on Thursday, so the world will be beautiful again, all problems will disappear and I will also have lots of presents (ahem…).
I got paid today.
I can sit here and cough and sniff and alarm my work colleagues.
I sneezed about 60 times over the weekend - sneezing is good (I think my nose suddenly started reacting to my nose-stud as an irritation).
I have one more week to get through, then lots of days off to spend with the chiddlers and hubby.
Hopefully our aches and pains are washing away our sins insh’Allah.

Thursday 11 December 2008

Right Then – Back to Business!

You might want to look away now as I am about to do something I don’t normally do – VENT!!!! I don’t usually like to use my blog for this purpose, but I thought hey – what’s the point of having one if I can’t use it now and again to clear my head.

What a few days! After a nasty cold which knocked me out (you’ll find people that don’t get sick often, turn into utter baby’s when they do), my darling gran’s passing, being without my husband (my rock) for almost three weeks, being railroaded into a job that, things just got worse yesterday.

I caught another nasty cold which had me on my mum’s sofa feeling like my sinuses had turned to stone (with Long-Suffering Sister getting me and the kid’s dinner, bless her). I turned up for my induction for the new job only to find that I am not doing the job I was tricked/pushed into doing, but that I have been slotted into one of the jobs that no-one wanted and I specifically said I was not interested in. I am sorry to say I came back to my desk and swore loud enough to be heard across the room. I had to stop my manager from barging over and speaking to the new manager. In the end I said I’d think about this and went home. I had myself and the kids in bed at 9pm, thinking I’d sleep my cold off and the toothache I could feel coming on. I woke up at midnight to Little Man’s crying and as I got up to investigate he threw up all over the bed, so I had to clean him up and start stripping the bed.

I’m ready to write a blue’s song about it all now:
My baby left me
(to go Pakistan)
My job is the pits
(I’m sick of typing man)
My head is full of cotton,
My nose is leaking too
My kids are all sick
My teeth are making me go boo-hoo

I felt terrible. I thought how could it be that after ten years of hard work and doing so well I was now worse off than at the beginning of my career. How had things gotten so bad? I could see me paying for my home for the next 20 years and having to work for the next 20 years whether I liked it or not (if you ever have to wake up on a bitterly cold and damp December London morning, get the kids ready and then trudge along on public transport you might know how I feel). I wanted to call my husband and cry down the phone about how bad things were and how it was okay for him with his family taking care of him, but I was alone with the kids, we were all sick and I needed to rest and I couldn’t stop feeling cold. But I knew none of this was his fault and that he was proud of how strong I could be. In the end I did not call him.

I prayed Maghrib yesterday with tears of frustration. I wondered why nothing evoked real passion in me the way life should and used to. Then I realised that passion doesn’t come with a great job, or having the people you need around you or from doing stuff you enjoy (although that undoubtedly helps). Passionate is a state of being. It’s doing each thing with all your energy and attention – even if it’s crappy old typing.

Anyway as President Pullman says in Independence Day:
"We will not go quietly into the night!
We will not vanish without a fight!
We're going to live on!
We're going to survive!" etc etc.
I have decided to pick myself off the floor and do something.

I will speak to a contact in the new section to find out what they do and whether it would interest me. I know my manager is keen to keep me and if I decide not to go, I will negotiate with her to stop doing any more typing for Councillors. I have also noticed that a number of more senior policy jobs are being advertised within this office and I intend to apply for a big bunch of them as well as a few I have found in the civil service. I am also going to do some research into Civil Service reinstatement and what the possibilities are there. Where there is a will there is always a way – I just need to shake this cold somehow insh’Allah.

“Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him.
Allah will grant after hardship, ease.” ~Al- Quran 65:7

“Surely with every difficulty there is relief.
Surely with every difficulty there is relief.” ~ Al- Quran 94:5-6

“Do you think that you will enter Paradise without any trials while you have known the examples of those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so violently shaken up that even the Messenger and the believers with him cried out: “When will Allah’s help come?”
Then they were comforted with the words, Be aware! Allah’s help is ever close.” Al-Quran 2:214

“… Those who endure with patience will be rewarded without measure.” ~ Al-Quran 39:10

“When Allah has previously decreed for a servant a rank which he has not attained by his action, He afflicts him in his body, or his property or his children.” ~Abu Dawud

” There is nothing (in the form of trouble) that comes to a believer even if it is the pricking of a thorn that there is decreed for him by Allah (something) good or his sins are obliterated.” ~Sahih Muslim

Monday 8 December 2008

Eid-Al-Adha Mubarak

Woke up with myself and the kids coughing and heaving all over the place. Despite that had a nice quiet Eid with family and friends. Little Lady was happy preening and running around in her little high heels. (I thought she would fall on her bottom, but she skipped about in them easily).

Did her henna the night before, wasn't in the mood to do my own.

Am missing the better half like crazy and after being unable to keep the kids under control at a restaurant, not knowing how to strap Gorgeous into the dodgy restaurant highchair, having trouble strapping all three into the back of my sisters car (hubby does all of these things), I am realising how useless I am without him (my sisters think I am spoilt rotten).

Spoke to him on the phone in Pakistan and was very pleased to note that he is in an even worse way.

Did enjoy lunch at my cousins though. Spent the afternoon insulting and making fun of my teenage boy cousins and laughing myself silly.

Will cook tomorrow and have everyone round for lunch and then have dinner at my youngest Aunty's.

Sunday 7 December 2008

Hajj Journal 2005 – Part 6: Completing the Hajj

11 January 2006 – Penultimate day of Hajj. This morning we prayed Fajr at Muzdalifah. Woke up feeling like someone had beaten hell out of me (I suppose that’s what sleeping on rocks does to you) but felt happy and peaceful.

Had to queue up to get on a bus and no-one would let us on. Everyone was getting impatient and tetchy. Someone saw a bus with a sign that said “MILLI GORU” (a Turkish group) and yelled “MALJI GROUP” (our group-leaders name); it got us on. We got back to Mina and rested. After Zoher we went to stone the Jamaraat (shaitaan). From there we started walking to Makkah. I hadn’t realised that we would walk directly and left all of my things in the camp. Took us two hours to walk to Makkah. Rested, then after Maghrib did our Tawaf-e-Ziyarah feet away from the Kabah – on the busisest day of the year. Peeked into the Maqaam-e-Ibrahim (glass case containing stone with Prophet Ibrahim (AS) footprints. After the tawaf just sat on the steps and gazed at the Kabah. They say that during the Tawaf-e-Ziyarah, on the last shawt (circuit), an angel puts his hand between your shoulder blade and say that your amaal-naam (Book of Deeds) is now clear, you may begin again. I can say that I have never felt such bliss in my life. Such peace, such contentment. I could have stayed there like that forever. I think I will look for this feeling for the rest of my life.

We performed Esha and the performed saee between Safa and Marwa which were packed with people. Went back to our hotel and prepared to return to Mina. Got onto a bus with about 50 people and started trundling towards Mina at about 10pm. At 3pm the next morning was still nowhere near Mina. The bus was hot and surrounded by the fumes of thousands of vehicles. At 4am decided to get out and walk. As we neared Mina we saw great long lines of abandoned vehicles. If we hadn’t reached Mina by Fajr we would have had to pay a penalty. We reached our camp, exhausted, 45 minutes before Fajr adhaan. I slept well this morning.

Prayed Zoher and Asr at camp and then set as a group to stone the three Jamaraats (walls representing shaitaan). As we got near we held onto each other and guided people away from us so that the group wasn’t split up. It reminded me of the verse of the Quran “…hold fast, all together to the Rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves.” (3:105). We stoned the Jamaraats and then returned to our camp. Got lost on the way so took us over an hour. One poor lady had blisters on her feet an inch long

12 January 2006 – The last day of Hajj

It’s done. I can only hope and pray now that Allah accepts this from us.

Hajj Journal 2005 – Part 5: Yawm-e-Arafah

08 January 2006 – In Mina!! After a sleepless night, prayed Fajr in the haram and nafl for ihram and proceeded to walk out of Makkah through various tunnels and onto Mina reciting “labbaik” on the way. Reached our tent approx three hours later feeling great only to sit down and feel completely drained. Slept until 12pm then made wudhu and prayed qasr Zoher. Still tired but Lucozade tablets a big help. Only been here three hours and already look like the great unwashed. Praying that Allah (SWT) makes this easy for us.

08 January 2006 – Alhamdulillah – got through the first day of Hajj. Had to make wudhu a few times – not nice, so being very careful about what I eat. A fire broke out in the Europe camp, doesn’t seem like anyone has been hurt thankfully. To Arafat in the morning, then to Muzdalifah.
09 January 2006 – 9th Dhul-Hajj, the Day of Arafah and oh my Lord what a day. Woke up in a tent in Mina; a great big valley neatly split into camps for different countries with each camp joined by tunnels. Felt like death warmed up (snots, sore throat, sore joints, powerful nausea, bloated stomach). Stayed like that on and off most of the day. Packed up for Arafah and didn’t manage to get on a bus till nearly 11am. If you don’t get to Arafah by Zoher (noon) then your hajj become void – so we were cutting it a bit close.

Got to Arafat and decamped into two large rickety tents, a shut one for the women and open one for the men (felt like a Bedouin). Was very hot, but loos and wudhu facilities were better than in Mina so again spent all day making wudhu.

Prayed Zoher and Asr here and engaged in dhikr, tilawat and much dua (both individual and communal). Recited Talbiyah at intervals. Started the day exhausted, unwell, scared of what was to come, wary. Ending it exhilarated, energised and just amazed. The whole group went and stood on Mount Rahmah and cried and prayed. We came doen before Maghriband all kissed and hugged and congratulated each other on completing the biggest milestone of hajj.

It was this day last year that my parents were in Arafat and I was listening to the khutbah (without understanding a word) and crying my eyes out and asking Allah (SWT) to let mejoin such a blessed gathering.

At about 8pm we took a bus to Muzdalifah, a big valley circled on three sides by mountains with one side being open. I cannot make head nor tale of this place. When we got here we set up our baggage and sleeping bag in the open air, then read our combined Maghrib and Esha as is the requirement here. Then proceeded to pick stones to pelt the shaitaan tomorrow. This led to lots of messing about, throwing stones, laughter and a good mood. But it began to sink in that this is a special place and a special night. Some ulema say that it is as blessed if not more than Lailat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Power) and dua’s are accepted here too, so making dua.

Looking around there is a pylon with the wires running over us and at intervals there are balls threaded through, so when you look up and see them against the night sky you feel like you are in planetarium. The whole place is surreal. There are ambulance sirens going off, a tractor sitting unmanned in the field with people camped around it. People climbing up the mountain, talking, snoring. Group leaders yelling down loudspeakers looking for people who have gotten separated from their groups. Mobile phones going off (now I am convinced they have become part of our anatomy), busses STILL arriving (its 2am). People praying, watchig the sky, just looking around. Will try to get some sleep (imagine if it rained. I wonder if that has ever happened).

Saturday 6 December 2008

Cards for Eid Al-Adha: Second Batch

These are the last of the cards I made a few weeks ago (first batch), thinking I could make a few quickly.

The background for this was one of a series of different coloured pictures I cut out from a university brochure. They were all shots of natural patterns in different colours. The blue background below is from the same source.

A gold frame from my box of bits, mini stamps in gold and some square gems in hot pink which I really love.

The pictures above and below are from an Eid magazine put out by the Mayor of London for Eid ul-Fitr 2008 featuring the work of an artist called Shahida Ahmed. (I found the magazine online here).

The butterfly background for this card was some printed paper I cut in half and added gems to. I love how girly this one is. My office has almost all women, So I think I will give this to my colleagues (My mum is very feminine and this was originally for her, but she is in Pakistan).

For the cards below I cut in half a peice of handmade textured paper and tried two different ways of decorating them.

For the last card I cut sqaures using a die cut out of glittery pink paper and decorated them using left over bits I had.

Although we will be celebrating Eid discreetly this year and I won't be sending cards to family or friends, it's still nice to give a few to non-Muslim neighbours, workplaces and schools. Little Lady took the last one to school for her class along with a big tub of chocolates. Another will go to my mum's neighbours with a plate of food. The rest are for my cousins to take to work or give to their teachers. A sweet and easy kind of dawah I think.