Tuesday 28 September 2010

Scotland Trip: The Village of Luss on Loch Lomond

Alhamdulillah, we had a lovely time in Scotland (I think we drove about 1000 miles in total over the weekend, which is slightly mental). Reviews of our visit to Edinburgh Castle and Loch Lomond will appear in Mum and Muslim magazine at the end of the week.
My sincerest thanks to all those who kindly e-mailed and posted about where to go - it certainly helped! I will reply to everyone first chance I get insh'Allah.

Scotland Trip: Edinburgh Castle

Thursday 23 September 2010

Where in Scotland?

this post is to ask for advice and suggestions.

We are hoping to visit friends in Scotland this weekend. They have just moved to Glasgow, so we hope to spend a day there and then take them with us to Edinburgh so that we can spend another day there.

Any suggestions on where we should visit? I'm hoping to keep it both halal and child-friendly, so if you know either of the cities or visited and found something you loved, I would love to hear your suggestions.

Am off to pack everyone’s stuff, make sure everything is ready to keep everyone occupied in the car and get the food ready for tomorrow as we are hoping to leave as soon as I get home from work tomorrow. Oh, and I have to check the weather up there over the weekend and Google for things to do...funny how a trip for everyone else means getting in the car and having fun and something completely different for mum!

September Cards: Odds and Ends

These are afew cards I had that were not quite finished. If I get stuck with a card, I put it aside for another time. Then when I have a few, I attack the pile with a fresh perspective. Sometimes this works, other times the results are questionable.

Of the ones below, I like the first and last the most.

Experiments with Working from Home

Today was a new experience for me as I tried working from home. I had been given permission from my line manager and was keen to give it a try (on moving to a new office, our organisation found that there were not enough desks and working from home suddenly became the next great idea – plus our management are particularly partial to working from home so could not really say no to me).

I asked ICT to sort out my access from home and my brother-in-law kindly furnished me with a new laptop as my home computer regularly crashes and loses all of my work and documents. I took the laptop in for the ICT people to check the connection so that I didn’t find myself stuck at home with no access the next day meaning I would have to go into work. I also made sure I had something specific to do which I could do in one day to show for the time I worked from home.

It was nice, on the day, to wake an hour later in time to get the kids ready for school and drop them off to school (although seeing me at home, they were convinced it must be the weekend). Once I got back, it took me a while to get settled in. At work I have the bulk of my work done by 10am as I am a morning person. At home, I had just started by 10am so I had missed out on my most productive time period.

It also took me time to get comfortable with moving between my bedroom, computer table and the living room floor. The other thing that distracted me was the other people in the house and things that I needed to do at home. I felt inclined to hoover and cook lunch for my in-laws. This being the case I found I had to be very disciplined and manage my time so that anything I wanted to do had to wait until the hour i allocated for lunch.

I was lucky that my husband and in-laws were supportive and felt that I was at work and shouldn’t be bothered with lunch or disturbed. In other words, my day was treated as work time even though I was at home. Many women may find that because they are at home the people around them feel that they should get on with home-related tasks. Most likely we ourselves, myself included, feel that we should be doing domestic tasks when we are at home. Either way we have to weigh up how much work we are likely to get done.

Something else that was lovely, was being able to pick up my youngest from nursery at midday. It was good to talk to his teacher and ask how things are (I got a frown and “he’s very chatty”) and it was nice to feed him (your never quite happy when someone else does it and my kids always embarrass their gran by behaving as if she has been starving them). It was handy that he napped through the afternoon and I got the rest of my work done before I picked the older two children up from school.

In all, it was a good experience, but one that requires discipline and preparation. I also found that I had to concentrate a lot harder to be as productive as I can be at the office and I will need to get better at getting more done from home. I’m glad to have tried working from home though and will ask to be able to do it regularly as it means more flexibility for my husband, who works around me, and more time with my children insh’Allah.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Lessons and Stories

After staying away from the internet for most of Ramadan and then having the computer crash after Eid, I have not been able to blog or reply to e-mails. Today my brother-in-law brought home a rather nice laptop which is now mine and which I hopefully will manage to keep away from the kids long enough to stop it crashing. I also hope to use it to connect to my work server which would mean I could work from home insh'Allah.

Staying away from the internet has had it's benefits, it can be a time-stealer if you are easily distracted like me and whilst I was waiting for the computer to be fixed, I managed to re-arrange and organise the house and pay a lot more attention to the children and what they are getting up to (mostly fighting and complaining, plus jumping on my bed at every opportunity).

I wanted to write up some of my notes from my time away during Ramadan insh'Allah if I get the chance and post, but in the meantime, three stories stand out from that time:

Three White Horses
My husband met a brother in the masjid who had reverted from Hinduism as had his two older sisters and his father. He told my husband what happened to him a short while after he reveretd. When he reverted he was scared to tell his mother but screwed up the courage to do so. On hearing him say he had become Muslim, she didn't get angry as he expected but told him about a dream she said she had one night before her children had been born. In the dream she said she heard the Muslim adhan (call to prayer) and then saw a white horse. She heard the adhaan again and then saw another white horse, she heard the adhaan a third time and then saw a third white horse. She said that when her two daughters became Muslim, she knew her son would too.

Tests and Sisterhood
Another, very sweet Chinese sister I met had become Muslim six months earlier. She had kept it secret from her strict Christian family until her father caught her praying tahajjud at 3am and put her straight out onto the street. Another sister in her town took her in on the request of a mutual friend and the sister had lived with the kind sister and her children for six months. The sister insisted that the new sister could stay as long as she needed to subhan'Allah. The new Sister was super keen to learn as much as possible about Islam and was learning the Quran in Arabic.

The Alternative Masjid
One very cool sister (think niqabi on a quadbike) told us about her revert husband's adventures as a new Muslim. When the brother first reverted he travelled around the country with some other new Muslim friends and visited different masjid's. One in particular caught their attention and they found it very beautiful. They were impressed at how the Quran was kept on a stand with great respect and all of the people had long beards. They began to pray salah in front of the stand and found there was soon a crowd of people around them. That was when they realised that they were in a Sikh Gurdwara and not a masjid! They made a very quick exit at this point.

Alhamdulillah, it was good to meet so many different people. There was another cool niqabi who drove her husband's truck, there was the alimah (scholar) who has newly wed to to a hafiz (someone who has memorised the Quran) and was head-over-heels in love. There was a Sister who had tried to conceive for 10 years only to go on Umrah (pilgrimage) and fall pregnant on her return subhan'Allah. I met a Polish Muslimah who spoke Arabic to her toddler daughter and a Pakistani Sister who married and came to the UK at 15 and encouraged her whole family to come closer to Islam.

Some of the things I learnt during this time were:

  • Dawah is not always about preaching, but often about our own good behaviour, good manners, serving others, taking care of their needs and being sincere in our actions. After all, if we act like model Muslim's who live by the sunnah, who would not want to be like us?
  • The foundation of everything is intention and we should check our intention at the beginning, end and middle of every action or good deed to ensure that we are doing it for Allah (SWT) only.
  • Allah (SWT) does not let the sacrifices we make for him, no matter how small, go to waste. We will feel the effect of what we give up for Allah (SWT), or suffer in our love for Him, in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Craft Clearout and Pretty Boxes

My husband has been in Leeds this weekend, so I decided to take the opportunity to attack some of the things that have been accumulating in the house (two extra fridges, a mattress in the front room, an extra ironing board and plenty more). Thankfully, he got rid of most of the big stuff before I got home on Friday, but I thought it would be nice for him to come home to a clean house and I realised my craft stuff was starting to make my bedroom look a mess and not somewhere you would want to rest and relax.

I hunted down some nice boxes on the way home from work and set to work culling and organising my crafty bits. I managed to get the stack of paper and bits and pieces on the floor packed away and my little bureau organised:

This green tray was my favourite find (from TK Maxx) and means I can see what embellishments I have available rather than hunting through draws and boxes.

I managed to hide away most of the things that had been sitting in view and getting covered in dust.

The big rainbow box has blank cards and envelopes, the burgundy box has finished cards. The small rainbow box holds all of my lettering and the pastel floral box is for 3D sticker and embellishment packs. The pink chest of draws is for all of my scrap paper (organised by colour) and the flat box on top of it holds all sorts of ribbon.

This little suitcase was my other favourite find and now houses my beads, so that I can take them anywhere around the house with me.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Eid-ul-Fitr 1431: Happy Eid Insh'Allah.

Eid Mubarak everyone!!!

Taqaballahu minna wa minkum.
May Allah accept it from you and us.

Kullu am wa antum bi-khair.
May you be well throughout the year.

May this Eid be full of blessings, barakah and joy for all of you insh'Allah.

Don't forget, this is a night of ibadat (worship) full of rewards and we should try to gain a little of that reward if we can. From "Shawwal: What to Do On Eid Night, Eid Day, and During the Month" by Mufti Taqi Usmani:

The Night Preceding 'Eid-ul-Fitr'

It had been the practice of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, that he would not sleep in the night preceding the day of Eid-ul-fitr. This night has been named in a Hadith as the Night of Reward (Lailatul Jaiza). Almighty bestows his rewards on those who have spent the month of Ramadan abiding by the dictates of Shari'ah, and all their prayers in this night are accepted. Therefore, it is desirable to perform nafl prayers in this night. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have said:

Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die. (Ibn Majah)

To benefit from this opportunity, one should perform as much worship in this night as he can, and should pray for all his needs and desires.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Eid Preparations

Although we will be having a quiet Eid due to my grandfather passing away (dua's requested please), everyone else is still entitled to celebrate and this is often the only time of year I manage to get in touch with old friends. This being the case, I made same more tasbih's (prayer beads) to send out and also some bracelets to include with cards.

This was me at 12.30 last night trying to get everything parcelled up to send out this morning. Gorgeous refused to fall asleep until 11pm because I was using his Spot the Dog book and he wanted it in bed with him.

The kids are back at school this week and Gorgeous starts nursery as well which he is looking forward to. He has filled his new rucksack with books and carried it around all week. Little Lady has asked me to get her a white hijab to wear to school, which has made me very, very happy. I bought her a pink pull-on one with a peak at the top for some reason which looks hilarious, a bit like a pixie hat and she wants the same one in white.

We are fasting tomorrow, so Friday will definitely be Eid. Despite our sad news, I am looking forward to spending time with my lovely family (hope I didn't speak too soon!) and breaking bread with them.
To those who have e-mailed or very kindly texted me over the last few weeks, I will get back to you soon. Being away and leaving the kids with my mother-in-law has made me extremely lazy, I am trying very hard at the moment to get myself back into a routine as my will-power sees to have atrophied, I can't stop sleeping and everything feels like extremely hard work. A few days if pushing myself around should help me snap out of it insh'Allah.

A Good Trip, a Bereavement and a Quiet Eid

Assalam-alaikam, I am back from my Ramadan trip. We had planned to go Germany and then thought we might be going to Ireland. In the end we went to Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent, UK. I had a brilliant two weeks away spending time with Alima’s (female scholars) and other Sisters who helped me by checking if my salah was correct, guiding me with my Quran tajweed (pronunciation), giving me advice about the best way to spend Ramadan and the best ibadat (worship) at any given time, as well as answering my numerous questions. If I have time I will try to type up my notes from some of the talks that took place and which I took during study circles. Subhan’Allah, I was amazed at the number of reverts to Islam I came across at every circle and at every home I visited. So many of them had seen so many hardships, lost so much and made so many sacrifices and yet were so solid in their faith mash’Allah.

Whilst I was away, my sisters called to say my grandfather had passed away. He was the last of my four grandparents and it was difficult being away from home, but the Sisters with me were so supportive and made dua for him as did the brothers at the masjid alhamdulillah. Mum came back from Pakistan a week before he died because her health meant that staying on would lead to her missing fasts. Her little sister came back the night before he passed away. Please do remember him and us in your dua’s.

I managed to get most of my Eid prep done before I went away with my sisters doing the rest for me (jazakh’Allah!). We will most likely be having a quiet Eid, spending time together and keeping each other positive insh’Allah.