Saturday 30 October 2010

A Very Quiet Interlude and Some Reflection

Mother-in-law returned to Pakistan today, taking my youngest brother-in-law with her. She has been here for the last five months or so and helping us take care of the children and home. It can be challenging to have two strong-minded women in the same house, but over the course of the last few years we have managed to learn to live together and to retain some level of affection and compassion for each other.

It can be difficult having extended family with you, I managed with the privacy issue by going into my room and shutting the door when I needed and alhamdulillah, my in-laws were quite good at respecting my need for some quiet time.

On hearing my occasional whinging people might think I am relieved to have her go, but actually this isn’t the case. The kids miss her like crazy, she helped so much with managing a busy household and she was good company when things didn't get her down too much. She really did make a place for herself as the lady of the house with her constant ibadah (prayer) and concern for everyone. I know hubby will miss her immensely – both her care and her yummy paratha’s (buttery unleavened bread) for breakfast.

My other brother-in-law will be joining her in a week or two, and it will be the first time in four years or so that I will not have anyone beside hubby and the kid staying with us. Both the brother-in-laws are going back to Pakistan to get married mash’Allah and everyone is a little disappointed we cannot attend the weddings (although knowing my hubby I am not completely ruling out a sudden announcement to get packing).

In any case after finally sending them off at midday (after finishing packing at 11am and finishing shopping at 11.30am – pretty much the norm with my in-laws), everyone who had come along to say goodbye went home and it went rather quiet. It gave me time to take stock and think about the manic last few months. There were three things that stuck in my mind.

The first was our diets. We have all been eating badly and everyone seems to have gained weight. The latest trip to the dentist also unearthed some problems with Little Man’s teeth which I felt incredibly guilty about. I often make a detour on a Saturday whilst I am doing my chores, to the Saturday for treats such as donuts and lots of chocolate. So this Saturday I made the detour and came out with lots of fruit and vegetables. We spoke about this over dinner and hubby was agreeable. I got the kids to agree that we would all help each other to eat only food that is good for us and have been trying to offer alternatives when they ask for something that I am trying to cut down on instead of saying no outright.

The second thing I was thinking about was the way I spend money. I have realised I spend more than I need to and don’t put enough thought into what I spend on. This is something I need to manage better, especially considering the fact I want to work less hours. It helped today trying to be thoughtful about whether I really need something, but shopping online is a whole different thing – it just does not feel like real money does it?

The third thing I have been thinking about is the way I have been spending my time. I found in Ramadan that to really engage in my worship with concentration, I gave up a lot of the different things I liked to do so that my concentration was not being affected by too many things to think about: work, family, writing, crafting, managing our home. Slowly I have gone back to being very involved with all of those things and I am finding myself distracted in my salah again and spending less time in nawafil (non-obligatory) worship.

So I have come to the conclusion that it is all about thoughtfulness – taking a minute before I make a choices about what I eat or spend, or what I choose to spend my time doing. This is difficult for a person like me who reacts to things very quickly without much thought. It certainly does not come naturally. I think this is common in modern life where events tend to move so quickly that deep thought and reflection are rare.

I have decided to show myself some kindness and mercy, so that I can leave some space in my life for the mercy of Allah (SWT) by thinking about what He wants from me? Does eating this food, spending this money or using my time for this activity really benefit me in the greater scheme of things, or am I just making myself unwell/poor/distracted? I don’t know how long I can maintain this, but I will try insh’Allah.

Halloween: Something to Think About

October 2010 Cards: Ivory, Gold and Rich Reds

Monday 18 October 2010

October 2010 Cards: Sweet Treats

These cards were all made using my favourite cardstock pack so far - DCWV Sweet Stack. I like the first and the last two best (I'm a sucker for anything green).

October 2010 Cards: Blushing Brides

Saturday 16 October 2010

My Little Etsy Shop - Umm Salihah's Creations


I have finally opened my little etsy shop. There are only a few items on there but I hope to upload lots more over the next few days.

Please do make dua for my venture.

Friday 15 October 2010

Jummah Mubarak Sisters

My extended family is quite typical of most families – we squabble, we argue, we refuse to have anything to do with each other , someone dies, we all get together again looking rather sheepish but talking once more and then we start squabbling again.

One arm of the family had a bit of an “episode” recently and I found myself involved, with younger members complaining, and older members of the family needing cajoling. I was happy I could be there for my younger cousins, but it got me thinking and it made me a little maudlin.

I am the oldest out of my siblings, the oldest cousin on my mum’s side and one of the older ones on my dad’s side. I am also the oldest of the cousins who have grown up here together. I take my big sister role seriously and I treasure the affection I get from everyone. I have always been happy to have my sisters and brother around, my brothers-in-law, my cousins and my sisters friends – laughing an joking and talking things through.

But today I got to thinking about having someone that I could do that for myself with. My parents had another daughter before me that passed away, so you can imagine the love I got from everyone. I sometimes wonder how things would have been if she had been the big sister. Truly Allah (SWT) is great and his decree is unavoidable and for the benefit of the Muslims. (I hope I get to meet my big sis one day in jannah though insh’Allah, ameen).

I got to thinking about who I would go to if I needed to talk. Alhamdulillah, there is my better half and my bestest friend who between them take care of this need, but still, a big sister…someone you can discuss your squabbling family with. Someone who could advise me on balancing the needs of in-laws with extended family. Someone who could tell me off when I needed it. Someone who has done the whole work/kids/school/what on earth am I doing routine.

Then I thought about the blogging community and it made me smile. Whenever I have been unsure and have thrown a question out there, I have received a generous response, there has always been someone to leave a useful comment or send an e-mail advising me (like a very kind sister who gave me some good advice recently which I very much took to heart)

So I wish everyone Jummah Mubarak, but in particular my sisters out there for listening and for sharing their thoughts.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Taking Care of Your Husband

As soon as I wrote that down I thought of those 60’s style magazine article’s that used to tell people to have the house perfect, look perfect and have the perfect martini ready in hand. But that’s not quite what I have in mind.

Alhamdulillah, my husband has always been a very patient man mash’Allah. He has treated me well from the beginning, putting up with tantrums, sulks, tears and mischief with grace and kindness. I have never been very domesticated (much to my mum’s chagrin and complaints before I got married that my mother-in-law will hold her responsible for not having taught me anything!). This coupled with hubby being someone who does his fair share, means that I have skived off of housework quite a bit – including never having done more than the basic amount of ironing required for work and certainly not his.

Over the years his kindness has changed me more than any amount of reprimands or bullying could ever have done. At some point in our marriage I came to the conclusion that a man this good does not deserve a lazy, rude cow for a wife and that I must try harder.

I have always had a nasty temper (as my sisters will testify after I spent half of my teenage years terrorising them – including the time I hit Long Suffering Sister over the head with a humungous hardback book in the public library and scared the life out of an old man standing near by). I prayed during hajj for the anger to go away and for me to stop hurting people (and books). I thought perhaps my prayers had not been answered, but I found that instead of disappearing overnight, my anger has mellowed over the last five years or so. This is particularly important considering my kids deserve a mother who isn’t taking her anger out on them.

Anyway, I thought that being nice to him, mostly agreeing with what he wants and helping take care of his family constituted a good wife and was enough. That was until I met some lovely sisters during Ramadan who taught me what caring for your husband was about for a Muslim wife.

I spent some time with them and observed what role the care of their husbands had in their lives. At the approach of iftar time (when we break the fast), I would think “I’m hungry, where’s the food”. The sister would think “he has been fasting today, what will he want to eat?” She would make fresh food separately for him to suit his specialised diet. Another sister would be busy washing and ironing her husband’s clothes. A third would be concerned that he should get up for time for his dawn meal before he began his fast.

They could not believe I didn’t do these things as a matter of course, they were amazed my husband did so much for me. It really made me understand that I should appreciate what I have and take care of those I value. The way we are raised in modern society is to value equality and part of that is not doing things for others and avoiding domesticity lest it make us appear that we are under the thumb of a man. A woman who does nice things for her husband is laughed and told to get a backbone instead of encouraged.

I promised myself I would turn over a new leaf and try harder. Now this does not necessitate turning into a Stepford wife and spending the rest of your life chained to an ironing board. For me it simply meant being a bit more thoughtful about the way I behave in our home and marriage. I have to cook anyway, so why not something he likes (it doesn’t help that he is not fussy mash’Allah and will not say what he prefers, so after ten years I am still trying to work out what he likes). I am about to iron my abaya, let me iron one of his clothes and put it on a hanger for him for when he gets back from work (he was dumbstruck for quite some time when this started happening!)

It’s not just about domestic chores though. I found myself biting my tongue more and letting things go more. In the end this meant more inner peace for me. Less reacting and more reflecting on what is being said. You may not agree with what the other person said, but you don’t have to answer EVERY SINGLE time, sometimes it easier to smile and leave it. Also less reacting and more responding gently; so I might not agree with what he says and I might not want to stay silent, but I don’t have to get upset. I might laugh it off or tease him about it so he understands that I don’t agree or he sees my point of view at least.

Trying to be a better wife has also meant listening to him. Considering his ideas or thoughts without instantly reacting with your assessment of whether it fits in with what you want or not.

Another aspect has been about the way I talk about him to our children. We have always presented a united front and when one gets told off by one of us they have long ago realised there is not point going to the other parent for consolation. However, we sometimes make comments about our spouses in front of our children that they will internalise: “Oh that’s just like Daddy, he’s ever so messy”. I am having to learn to bite my tongue on this one.

Finally it is about defending your partner in front of the wider family and community. My number one golden rule is never, ever take an argument back to your parents. If there is violence or abuse involved that’s different and you should look for help. If he annoyed you, or you upset him over the normal things the couples argue about: money, in-laws, work stress, housework etc, then keep the argument amongst yourselves and resolve between yourselves as far as possible. You may mention this to your family, complain and then feel better and go home and patch things up. You will both probably forget all about it, but your family will not. Your spouse will permanently have fallen in the sight of their in-laws even if the fault does not lie with that person.

I also don’t allow my cousin’s or aunts to bad-mouth my husband. I used to defend him nervously to relatives who liked to say mean things (I am sure I am not the only one who has plenty of those), until I realised he won’t let anyone say a word against me. That really heartened me and anyone who tried it now would get an earful they wouldn’t forget.

All of the things I have mentioned are just thoughts and I am struggling against my schooling and socialisation and nafs (ego) to try and come close to implementing these things in my life. But the underlying factor for any of them seems to be a little thoughtfulness, trying to think your actions through rather than reacting instantly and a little patience. It also helps to change your mindset from thinking about what I want to thinking about what is best for us collectively, especially when you have children. Anyone can argue that you are being selfish when you focus on what you want, but when the focus is on the collective good and is through mashwerah (mutual agreement), there is nothing to argue about (in theory, some men will opine that women can find something to argue about in any situation).

Last of all, there is something small and easy we can do but which brings big results: make dua (supplicate) to Allah (SWT). I ask Allah (SWT) to let us love each other for the sake of Allah (SWT) and for us to spend our lives together in the path of Allah (SWT) and to please Him. I make dua for my sisters that they find peace, respect and affection from their spouses and that their marriages become a means to attain Allah’s (SWT) pleasure insh’Allah. Ameen.

Shopping with Children

Toilet every ten minutes
Touching everything
Whinging “why can’t I have it, but why can’t I?” on and on.
Hitting everyone with the free balloon tied to their wrist
Getting the balloon caught in the racks.
Dropping their little bag of shopping every ten minutes (the strawberries/grapes/chips will be mush by the time you get home).
Begging to sit on every ride they go past (you know the ones that you put coins in?)
Going down the escalator and then trying to go back up whilst everyone else is going down.
Arguing at EVERY SINGLE lift about whose turn it is to press the buttons.
Hanging their feet out of the pram and dragging their feet (until your arms are ready to drop off) Holding the pram as they walk and putting their weight on it so you are dragging a pram full of shopping with a baby inside and two more hanging off, again until your arms are ready to drop off (the pram is now retired and I do not miss it).
Walking into elderly people.
Arguing on the bus about whose turn it is to press the button to get off.
Making loud comments (Little Lady a few years ago: “Mum, mum that lady has ceegrit, that’s dirty!!” Also Little Lady: “Mum, that lady has blue hair, I didn’t know you could get blue hair”).
If they annoy me too much I make them hold a bag of shopping each, or make them carry my items round the store until I make the final decision about what I need to get. If I get really fed up we all just give up and go to pizza hut (they have toilets too).

I was going to write about things I do when I take them shopping to make the whole affair easier. But I can’t think of anything. Apart from saying it’s better to leave them at home, or fob them off on relatives for a few hours. Or just order everything via the internet and never take them near the mall.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

October 2010 Cards: Retro Colours

These cards have a retro feel because of the colours used - yellow, greens, pinks and lots of brown as well as the prints on some of them.
I was hoping to open my etsy shop this week in good time for Eid insh'Allah, so I am hoping to get some feedback from visitors regarding what could be better. In particular where there are visible flaws in the cards (being handmade sometimes you can't get away from this). My other main concern is pricing, because of the materials used and the time it takes to make one, I was planning to charge £3 ($4.73 approx currently) per card and £10 for packs of 4 ($15.77 at the moment). This seems to be okay compared to store-bought cards and handmade cards on the net. Your thought's would be welcome insh'Allah. I will be posting more pics of cards throughout this wee insh'Allah.

Modesty and Wedding’s

I spent time in Ramadan with some very good people and had time to think a lot about my faith and the way I live. One of the things I thought a lot about was niqab. In the end I didn’t have the nerve to give up work and start wearing it (or indeed go to work wearing it), but it was something I became very conscious of – the way I present myself to the world and the steps I can take to ensure I am not encouraging attention: avoiding dealing with men any more than I have to, avoiding wearing my smaller, more diaphanous hijabs. I have been making dua to Allah (SWT) to help save me from the sin’s associated with the non-mahram man (i.e. those unrelated men I am supposed to observe hijab around) – i.e. flirtatious or lewd comments, men looking, shaking hands.

I have had to take this one step further and consider the way I behave and how careful I am of hijab around my cousins who are younger than me and like my little brothers. This is difficult because I am very close to some of them, but I have to keep in mind they are not actually mahram for me.

Once our Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said the following: "Keep away from entering the presence of women.” A man asked: "What about the male relatives (brother, uncle, cousin) of the woman’s husband? The Prophet said: “Those relatives are death” (Tirmidhi, Rada, 16; Ahmad b. Hanbal, IV, 149, 153).

Similarly with my brothers-in-law, they live with me, so I find that I have to dress modestly at home and keep my head covered, I can start to get lazy with this at home if I am just popping out of my bedroom and they are there, so it is something I have to keep reminding myself about. Alhamdulillah it helps that they try to give me my space and the older one stays out of the house most of the time.

The following video I watched recently, really impressed the point on be about the way we present ourselves inside and outside of the home and I have not worn make-up to work since (come to think of it, why is it still in my bag? Bag will be lighter if I take it out anyway:

Anyway, this has been something I am coming back to and thinking about recently. Hubby seems to be keen on the idea of me wearing niqab, but would never pressurise or force me (he likes dropping hints though). It is something that I might do when I have the guts to, but maybe not yet. At the same time I am being more thoughtful about where I go and how I look when I go out.

Last weekend we were invited to a wedding. As both the bride and groom were here on student visa’s, we knew there wouldn’t be much family there and plenty of young male student friends of the grooms. Hubby was away for the weekend and didn’t really want me to go. He left it to me, but hinted he didn’t like the idea. I clarified that if he didn’t want me to go, I wouldn’t go and that I wasn’t that crazy on the idea at the moment anyway (plus the thought of sending everyone off and having the house to myself appealed). If I am going to go to a wedding, I’m going to wear my best, wear make-up and wear heels – or I would rather not go – getting dressed up is half the fun. The thought of being in full glam mode in front of a room full of young single guys made me feel bad.

So we decided brother-in-law and mum-in-law would go with the children. Mum-in-law got cross and said I would have to go or she wouldn’t go. After much cajoling from her and a mutual friend who also said she wouldn’t go if I didn’t – I got fed up and went off to pray. I asked Allah (SWT) to make this easy for me: to stop mother-in-law getting angry or upset with me or refusing to go. Alhamdulillah, that afternoon, they all got ready without another word and went off perfectly happy as if it was no big deal. I enjoyed some me-time (dinner at mums, lounging around and finishing off a necklace I had started) also made hubby happy that I listened to him – that’s another new thing he isn’t used to!

Why I Love the Weekend

I have been meaning to post, but haven’t been able to get anywhere near my computer in the last few days, also the kids have broken the little ariel thing off the modem box so it works when it feels like it.

Have had the most ridiculous weekend:

Took the kids out to return their library books and do some chores and they all need to pee (yes I did make them pee before they left the house). Get to the mall and the toilets are closed and a sign redirects us to Debenhams. Get to Debenhams and that too is closed for 15 minutes only (they must have known we were coming), so I raced to M&S with the kids and the queue for the toilet was 10 people long. I gave up at this point and took them all to Pizza Hut and bought them lunch.

Made the big mistake of buying the youngest face paints and Little Man a nice bag which says it contains action figures, but got home to find it contains art supplies – including paints that keeping falling out. I suggested we send it to Pakistan for his cousin (his mum can clean the mess). He didn’t agree.

My best friend called and said she is coming down – Alhamdulillah, I haven’t seen her for six months and I have spent three Saturdays with her this month. Seeing her and her baby just made my day, although my noisy kids kept making him jump.

I left the kids with their gran and a “Habil and Kabil” cartoon and saw bestest her back to the station and headed into town so that I could actually get what I needed.

Got back and got everyone ready to go to a wedding. As hubby was not here, I didn’t feel like going, but sent mum-in-law and brother-in-law off with the kids. Whilst they were gone, I headed over to mum’s for her Saturday evening comfort food of rice and chicken and chilled with her and my sisters in front of the TV. As I am not used to the TV anymore, I find it gives me a headache. If you don’t have one for a short while, it really stands out ho much NOISE emanates from it, especially kids programmes which if you listen without looking for a bit you’ll find shocking. There is just a continual screeching/shouting music which underlies many of the programmes.

So I headed back home for esha (night) prayer. I have to say it was one of the easiest, most peaceful salah I have had in years. For all they say about there being more reward when it is hard and you struggle to ignore the distractions, there’s something to be said for a nice quiet, attentive, satisfying prayer now and again.

I still had time to finish off a necklace until the kids got home. The general verdict from the kids was that it a horrible wedding and they were bored. Mum-in-law complained a bit till she felt better and went off to pray. Boys were tired and went to bed except Little Lady who was in my bed (Hubby was away for the weekend) and stayed up until midnight playing with paper dolls despite my threats to send her back to her room. She still managed to wake up at fajr (dawn prayer) time and announce “Look mum, I woke up and it’s still night!”

Sunday morning, I stayed awake after fajr and alhamdulillah it’s so true about there being so much barakat in this time. I managed to make about fifty cards by the time the kids were up (I’m just trying to find a moment to take pictures and post and display on my etsy shop which I hope will be open soon insh'Allah).

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) made the following dua for his Ummah: “O Allah, bless my Ummah (in their work) in the early part of the morning” (Tirmizi)

I had planned to have an easy, lazy day with sisters’ circle in the middle at 2pm, but it wasn’t to be. My mum called and asked me to go to the airport with her to pick up her sister’s son who is coming to study in…Dundee! About as far away from us as he could go by the looks of it. Dropped the kids with her at 12 for lunch and headed off with Mum and her sister at 1pm. Got there for 3pm and was still sitting there at 8.30, no cousin. Immigration decided to hold him overnight to make enquiries with the college to confirm that his course was genuine. Despite us calling immigration at Heathrow every half hour, no-one thought to tell us this. So we finally found out at 8.30 and decided to head home without him. This involved us going round Hounslow a few time, driving through Otley and then finding a petrol pump where the cashier suggested w have a look at one of the A-Z’s on sale. This helped us get back on the A406 route and home – at 11.15. Hubby had just got through the door, so I made salah, we had dinner at midnight and finally got to bed.

Back at work now, feels like a rest after that weekend. Still, can’t wait for the next one.

Monday 4 October 2010

Using Miswak

Having had my children quite close together (3 within 4 years), I found my teeth affected by the end of my 20’s. I had bleeding gums and also receding gums, something which tends to affect people who are much older. Naturally, I didn’t want to end up losing my teeth, nor did I want to look “long in the tooth”, which is what happens when your gums start receding.

I tried to follow the directions of my dentist – use an electric toothbrush, floss and use a mouthwash, but the problem remained. I decided to do some research. I found a few home remedies on the internet ( proved to be a particularly helpful source). The first thing I tried was a rather strange process called “oil pulling” which claims to help with dental problems. Nourished Mama has also spoken about this here. I didn’t find this made much difference to my teeth, although others have. Instead, I found it cleared out phlegm (the first few times you do this, all sorts of grossness comes out - this effect is particularly strong in asthmatics), helped my skin keep clear as it stopped me getting spots. It also stopped colds and sniffles from developing (meaning I have not been catching things off my kids except where I have not been doing the cold-pulling for a few days).

The above benefits meant that although it didn’t really help my teeth, I kept the oil-pulling up. Another suggestion I came across on thieved from earthclinic website was for propolis, a substance derived from bee hives. I had to hunt around for a supplement that was gelatine free (I used this seventh wave brand). On trying propolis, I found that my energy levels soared and I was getting exhausted by bedtime. The teeth issue was still there though.

Last year I promised myself I would start using miswak. It is such an important sunnah and one I kept planning to engage in, but not quite getting round to. I remembered that during hajj a few years back, I had a nasty infection in my throat and tried the strongest antibiotics I could get over the counter to no effect. My husband bought some little sticks of miswak and got me to try one. I found every single time I used it, the phlegm in my throat would disappear and my throat would be soothed.

This ramadan , I made it one of my goals to use miswak. I made sure I had no more than three easy goals so that I could stick to them and this was one of them. Initially my excuse was that I found it hard to use. In the end I just took the plunge and wandered about with it in my mouth till I got used to it. I tried to use it before I made wudhu and at bedtime. Before the end of Ramadan, I saw a clear difference in my teeth – my gums had grown back! Where I could clearly see they had been receding, they now looked normal. I also found that after many years, I no longer had bleeding gums.

Alhamdulillah, miswak is often overlooked in a way othersunnah’s are not, including by myself. Yet, the benefits of it are so great as is the reward:

Ibn Umar (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

'Make a regular practice of the Miswaak, for verily, it is healthy for the mouth and it is a Pleasure for the Creator (i.e. Allah is pleased with the Muslim who uses the Miswaak)'." (Bukhari)

"Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: 'Was it not for my fear of imposing a difficulty on my Ummah I would have ordered that the Miswaak be used for every Salaat'." (Bukhari)

Hadhrat Ibn Umar (RA) says that many a time Rasulullah used the Miswaak as much as four times in a single night. Hadhrat Aishah (RA) narrates: "Verily, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would use the Miswaak before making Wudhu (ablutions) whenever he arose from sleep, whether it be during the night or during the day." (Abu Dawood).

"Shuraih (RA) narrates that he asked Aisha (RA): 'What was the first thing Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did upon entering the house?' Aisha (RA) replied: 'Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would use the Miswaak'." (Muslim)

This article lists some of the hadith which encourage the use of miswak and also outlines the adab (etiquettes) and benefits of using it (with some sources). These include:

1. Eliminates bad odour and improves the sense of taste
2. Sharpens the memory
3. Sharpens the intelligence
4. Eliminates slime (phlegm/mucus)
5. A cure for illness
6. Miswaak creates fragrance in the mouth.
7. Miswaak strengthens the gums.
8. Miswaak prevents tooth decay.
9. Miswaak prevents further increase of decay which has already set in the teeth.
10. Miswaak is a cure for headaches.
11. Miswaak assists in eliminating toothaches.
12. Miswaak creates lustre (Noor) on the face of the one who continually uses it.
13. Miswaak causes the teeth to glow.
14. Miswaak removes the yellowishness of the teeth.
15. Miswaak strengthens the eye-sight.
16. Miswaak is beneficial for the health of the entire body.
17. Miswaak assists in the process of Digestion.
18. Miswaak is a cure for a certain mouth disease known as Qilaa'- This is stated in Hujjatul Baaleghah.
19. Miswaak clears the voice. This is stated in TibbeNabawi.
20. Miswaak facilitates the appetite (Tibbe Nabawi).
21. Miswaak increases the eloquence of one's speech.
22. Miswaak (i.e. its constant use) will be a factor to ease the pangs of Death. The continuous use of the Miswaak makes it easy for the Rooh (Soul) to depart from the body when its appointed time arrives.
23. Miswaak increases the Thawaab (reward) of Salaat (prayer) from seventy times to four hundred times.
24. Miswaak is a factor which will earn higher ranks in Jannat for the one who uses it
25. The Angels sing the praises of the one who uses the Miswaak.
26. Use of the Miswaak displeases Shaitaan.
27. Use of the Miswaak graces one with the companionship of the Angels.
28. And, the greatest benefit of using the Miswaak is the attainment of Allah Ta'ala's Pleasure.

If you want to try this out for yourself, most Islamic bookshops carry the miswak, and it is also available online via many Muslim retailers. Also, if you know someone who is going for hajj or umra, ask them to bring some back for you (cheap and won’t take up their whole suitcase).

Useful Links:
Miswak the Miracle Toothbrush
Miswaak: The natural toothbrush

Youtube video's on Miswak (how-to's)

Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, “He who holds firm to my Sunnah when corruption is rampant in my Ummah will attain the reward of a hundred martyrs.” (al-Bayhaqi )

Keeping Occupied

All sorts of different things have been keeping me occupied at the moment...

...I hardly ever get to see my best friend, but I got to spend two alternate Saturdays with her and her beautiful little boy - eating, joking and playing with the kids, we never seem to have enough time together. Her little boy is just delicious and my kids are crazy about him.

This rowdy bunch are keeping me busy, including the ton of homework they seem to get every week (and this year Little Lady's teacher is keeping tabs on homework and even telling me off!).

I can't get over how big this one is getting. I have been making lots of cuddle-time for the kids, you are never too old to be held by your mum.

We have been eating sugar cane, sticks like the one's in the picture below. They are absolutely delicious and I was over the moon when one of the local grocers started selling little bags of these. I used to eat these as a kid on trips to Pakistan. You bite off a chunk, chew on it until the juice is sucked out and then spit out the husk. Probably best to do this when no-one is looking.

I have been getting all happy over my gift of a new abaya from a very sweet friend in California. My best friend is Moroccan and loved this saying it was the in-thing right now. My mum-in-law also has her eye on it!

Personally I love the colours of the embroidery which I found very attractive.

I have also found myself back in my card-making groove. This is a bunch I am making with retro prints and bright colours.

I have also started a load of wedding congratulation cards with two main themes: pastel pinks and classic gold and ivory colours.

I am also trying to get organised - doctor's appointments, dentist and optician, parents evenings, mother-in-laws hospital appointments, visiting the haji's as they get ready (aunty, uncle, cousin, best friends family this time insh'Allah, and maybe hubby insh'Allah but not sure yet). I gifted myself a new diary, which is even bigger than the one I have with a massive to-do list which I have placed right at the front.

I haven't been blogging much for various reasons; one is my promise to myself that I will blog only when my husband is not around (he deserves my full attention) and my kids have had their needs taken care of and I am not neglecting my ibadat (worship) which is too easily done. Another reason is that I have been struggling to get into a routine for a while which allows me to post. At the moment, fajr (dawn prayer) is getting later again, so I am able to stay up and have time in the morning to do things, this seems to be the best time for me to write as well and leaves me free in the evening to craft if the kids are in bed and hubby is working (You should see me with a big mug of milky coffee in the evening and my craft stuff all around me on the floor. I usually have nasheeds or talks on on my laptop and the kids sneak up and gather round one by one, as good as gold, so they don't get chucked out).

Our routine is set to change again soon as mum-in-law goes back to Pakistan at the end of this month. Both my brothers-in-law are going back with her to get married insh'Allah. We don't have any plans to go, but knowing my spontaneous other half - who knows we might suddenly find ourselves there unplanned and unprepared.