Wednesday 29 June 2011

Something for Little Lady

I have spent the last few days moving furniture and cupboards around and re-organising the house.  In a corner under the kids bed I found a little suitcase and was delighted to find some clothes from my wedding trousseau from 11 years ago. 

This is part of a very heavy lengha (skirt suit) which my mum's brother bought for me:

This trouser and tunic suit was a gift for my mum for my first Eid after I was married and was a big deal at the time because previously she used to make our clothes herself:

My mum's sister had this salwar kameez made for me and looks like it might still fit, I am tempted to put thid one back in my wardrobe:

This was part of a set of outfits that were made for me, my sisters and my cousins to wear on my wedding day by one of my mum's sisters.  We all had different styles (lengha, salwar kameez, dress etc) and different colours, but the same embroidery and the girls looked fab wearing them on my wedding day (obviously I wore mine afterwards):

This heavy dupatta (veil) is even older.  It was given to me by my mum-in-law to wear on my engagement 13 years ago and looked fab with a plain purple suit:

I wanted to keep these cloths because of all of the work that has gone into them and because some of them are gifts from people I love. I went through the dresses with Little Lady and as they don't fit very well any more we agreed I would pack them back into the suitcase and perhaps keep them for her trousseau one day.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Craft Give Away Closed: Inspiring Read Picks

Alhamdulillah, there have been some great suggestions for books to read and inspire in response to the craft give-away.  Crafts pack are on their way to the following sisters for their suggestions:

Umm Z from the Maldives:
One of my all time favourite books is Little Women and the sequels Good Wives, Little Men and Jo's Boys. I read them while in school and the way the young girls dealt with so many things and yet found the faith and love of family withstands all hurts. The books were also insightful into the different types of people we see around us. I could still read every one of those books from cover to cover, over and over again. They could still move me.

Aziza from Denmark:
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is the book for me. It's a magical journey about the power of a young boy's imagination to save a dying fantasy land. I read it for the 1st time when I was about 15 years old and I fell in love with the magical world Ende creates! It's really an amazing, timeless story and reading it now as an adult, makes my fantasy and creativity come back to life!

It reminds me of all the possibilities in the world and how there's always more to this world than what we see with our eyes, masha'Allah.

Transient Muslimah from the USA:
Daughters of Another Path by Carol Anway. - a book that I am currently reading and is motivating to me.  Written by a non Muslim mom, whose daughter converted into Islam. She interviewed many other convert (revert) from all different backgrounds. And SUBHANNALLAH! it is a tear jerker, let me tell you.

H from Scotland:
The Difficult Journey by Ahmad Thomson. (This book journeys a relatively new Muslim's experiences as he travels for the special hajj journey, with only a few pounds and plentiful of tawakul (trust) for the great journey).  The book inspires me to always look for good in people, but most importantly to always hope in good from Allah - for after all, he is the giver of good. Without this sounding like an essay - Thomson manages to do this through narrating tales of wonderful people he meets, who welcome him with the warmest of hospitality, at times when he least expects it! Similarly, when reading through the book, one can't help but feel that when you have trust in Allah and console yourself with the knowledge that he will deliver to you - only that which is best for you, then even difficult situations suddenly become easier. And if they don't appear to become easier, then He will provide you with a way out. As happens with Thomson so many times throughout his book!Although this book seems like something more suited to those going for hajj, it is a book that can be read by anyone, in particular to those who are distressed by the ever common ""me, myself and I" culture, and want to be inspired by people who have a willingness and eagerness to serve others. I wish I could quote some stuff, it's a truly beautiful book, and the second part - the way back is just as good as the first! Would really recommend it

Chica Loca from the UK:
"My Story" by Dave Pelzer. It is a true story written by the man himself about the abuse he went through as a child by his mother. It left me in tears just reading about how hard his life was and still is, and I can relate to it on many levels.Ii just look at my son now and it makes me determined to be the best mum that I can be insyAllah!

H from Ireland:
A book which I would recommend to everyone is Anne of Green Gables, written by Lucy Mound Montgomerry. In Poland it is suggested reading in secondary school. I loved it then and afterwards I read all the books from the series, about 8.  I loved the atmosphere of that book , so warm and peaceful as Anne gets married, has children and raises a lovely family.Even now I feel good about it, and I think I will introduce this book to my daughter when she is older.

Thanks you to all of the sisters who took the time to e-mail me.  I know I said there were four craft packs, but I loved all of the above entries and so will make a fifth and sixth pack insh'Allah.

Relaxing and a Midnight Feast

Hubby has been away for most of this weekend leaving me and the kids to engage in some quiet time shopping for socks, reading, crafting, journalling, scrapbooking, visiting the library, visiting my mum and having a friend come to visit with her boys (bringing a very pretty, sparkly abayah for me with her).  All activities which were easy and at a pace that avoided me getting stressed and the kids fed up.

One of our traditions for when hubby is away is for the kids to have a midnight feast (usually around 8pm)whilst watching an old movie in my bed.  I have this little trunk which sits in the kids room to store our picnic/high tea/midnight feast things.

The little dishes are remnants of various sets or thrifty finds which appealed:

I and Gorgeous went food shopping the day before whilst the older children were in school.  I got a little carried away, but this still works out cheaper than crisps, cakes and biscuits (except the mangoes which were expensive but to die for).

I tried to keep it healthy this time and most of this got eaten (plus a bowl of grapes).

The best bit is watching the kids keel over one by one half way through the movie.

Friday 24 June 2011

Craft Give-Away Reminder - Two Packs Left


Just a reminder for the craft give-away - there are still two packs left, so please get in touch at and tell me which book has moved, motivated or inspired you the most in your life (other than the Quran or Bible) and why.

Look forward to hearing from you (there have been some great suggestions so far) - Jummah Mubarak.

InCultureParent July: Islam and Child Discipline

The latest edition of InCultureParent is out and includes my column "Islam and Child Discipline: Is Hitting Ever Ok?":

"I believe that, to an extent, we are a product of our own parent’s parenting. The way we respond to the world, our emotional reactions and our temperament, are influenced by our upbringing. I love my mum to bits, but as a young mother she was isolated from her family and frustrated. Having lost her own mother as a toddler, she was raised solely by her stepmother, as her father was not involved in his children’s care. This experience left her angry and quick to violence. Her method of child discipline was generally physical and enacted in fits of anger. Although this may sound terrible, we children were not alone. Most of the South Asian children I knew at school shared similar stories of being whacked with rolling pins or wooden spoons and chased around the house with flip-flops. It was considered the norm and, when compared to friends’ stories, hilariously funny in hindsight.

It became a lot less funny when I had my own children. The urge to quell noise or mischief with a smack or by shouting is almost automatic—a default reaction that requires no thought. In contrast, thinking through how to respond to your child, taking the time to talk to him or her and working through a solution together takes effort and goes against the grain.

I come from a culture where a good child is a quiet and obedient one. But this approach has its drawbacks: I have found that many people my age cannot communicate easily with their elders. When they need to disagree with something, they will suppress their opinions until they explode and then they are considered rude. I will not tolerate rudeness to elders or bad manners in my children, but I have taught them that they don’t need to agree with me and that I am able to change my mind on something if they can reason with me politely. The result is that they are learning how to negotiate to get their way without rudeness (ask and ask and ask again in my middle son’s case). It also means they are spirited, opinionated (my youngest son has now declared “I don’t eat any vegetables”) and very confident—including around adults. It helps to have a mother-in-law that does not have the conventional attitude on these things. Mine believes that mischief is a sign of intelligence and that a quiet child is just sneaky—perhaps that makes her feel better about her six noisy, unruly sons (I call them “Ma Baker and her Boys”)."

You can read the full column here.  Please do visit and leave comments (comments make me happy).

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Craft Give-Away - Deadline Friday 24th June

I had a clear-out of my papercrafts supplies a while ago and kept planning to post about a give-away.  I finally got the chance to pull my stuff out and take pictures today whilst the kids were busy trying to crash my laptop (they've got bored of crashing the home computers since there is nothing important left on there).

I hope to add more items to the ones below and create four packs of goodies to give away.  If you would like a pack, e-mail me at  and tell me which book has moved, motivated or inspired you the most in your life (other than the Quran or Bible) and why.  My four favourite answers will get a pack (I will post book and reason for choice, but not names or any other personal detail).

There are also two scrapbooks hidden under the stash below, do let me know if you respond if you would like one of them.  Also let me know if there are any particular items you are keen on or if you want the stamps or not.  Answers by midday Friday 24th June please, I will e-mail winners on Friday afternoon and ask where to post in time to post out on Saturday 25th June insh'Allah (thats the plan anyway!).

Gratitude Journal 21.06.11 - My Kind of Homework

I and Little Lady usually spend a good part of the weekend bickering over homework, but she did this homework without me asking and got me all embarrassed (in a good way) when she handed me what she had written:

Sunday 19 June 2011

A Strange End to a Horrible Story

Received some rather strange news this morning from my mum and then her little sister.  I wrote two years ago about my mum's little brother being kidnapped in Pakistan in what was previously a very safe area of Pakistan (original post here, our fears for him here, news of his recovery here and a post about how he was found here).

I had thought that this was the end of it.  The local police did not seem interested in helping our family prosecute, the gang of dacoits (those not locked up) regularly terrorised people across the district and people were generally afraid to go out.  My uncle and other family members continued to have threats made agaist them making the whole family feel anxious and helpless. 

Until this morning, when mum and aunt got one phone call after another from Pakistan from family members telling them about the killing and capture of more of the dacoits.  There seems to be more than one version of events, but what seems to have happened is that the dacoits were regularly visiting and harassing the nomadic shepherds who had settled in the area over the last few years.  These same shepherds were the ones who had been befriended by my uncle when other people did not want to deal with them and then passed information about my uncle to the dacoits leading to his kidnapping.

The two groups - shepherds and dacoits fell out leading to the shepherds lodging a complaint to the police.  Someone in the police station informed the dacoits who then paid the shepherds a visit:

JHELUM: Unidentified people shot dead a man and injured two others besides kidnapping two of the same family in Pari Dervaizan area of Sohawa on Saturday. The accused entered a house and held the family members hostage. They severely injured them and poured salt and pepper into their wounds. During the torture, Muhammad Siddique died while Shabbir and Ghulam Rabbani were seriously injured. Later, the attackers kidnapped Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi.

After the incident, relatives of the victim family blocked GT Road by placing the body in front of THQ Hospital. The traffic from both side remained suspended for five hours. Jhelum DPO Tayyab Hafeez Cheema reached the spot and held talks with the victim family. On the assurance of the DPO that dacoits would be arrested, the protesters dispersed.

Meanwhile, the kidnappers have demanded Rs five million for the release of the abductees. The Sohawa police have registered a case against Gulfraz, Moazaam Ali, Noor Muhammad and an unknown accused under sections 34, 324, 302, 365A of the PPC. The Sohawa SHO has been appointed as investigation officer. The DPO said that the teams had been constituted to arrest the accused and recover the abductees. Sources said that the family members worked as informers for police and the accused had killed and kidnapped them to exact revenge on them

This article doedn't mention that some of the women in the family were beaten even more brutally and a raped.  The family who had been attacked asked the police for protection and ended up with a handful of policeman at their "dera" or campsite who proceeded to eat all of their food and slaughter one of their animals each day.  In the end the sit-in and contacts with police higher up in the chain provokied action on the part of the police and there seems to have been a shoot-ut at the town which is 15 minutes from our village.  The brother of the dacoit captured during the raid that freed my uncle was shot dead and another man caught.  Two more were injured but escpaed and are being sought.

The dead mans body has been dumped at a local shrine where people from local villages and towns have come to take a look and convince themselves that the man is dead (I would say why on earth have the police not taken the body - but what can you honestly expect?).  A rather nasty end to a very nasty affair.  My family feel they can breathe easier and insh'Allah this is the end of this matter for all of us.

The shepherds have packed up and left almost overnight and we continue to get drips and drabs of news about what is going on (there is more in the Urdu newspapers, but not muh more that I could find in English).  I sincerely hope and make da that this means a return to safety for my families little corner of Punjab insh'Allah.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Circle of Moms: Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms

Voting is closed for the "Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms" over at Circle of Mom's.  I came 42 out of 307 (or thereabouts) blogs with 1688 votes, which left me completely gobsmacked.  My sincere thanks to all who voted (I had no idea there were so many pagan/wiccan blogs) and to all who have been curious enough to see my blog listed on the competition page and followed the link to the blog and even leave comments.

Kooky's Pretty Blog

Kooky Little Sisteer seems to have caught the blogging bug too.  As well as her clever blog (Harlequin Tea Set), she now has a pretty blog: Curly FriesCurly Fries, subtitled the "Land of Kapray Shapray" (come on now Kooks , try and explain that one) chronicles clothing, shoes, jewellery and all things stylish which catch her eye or fancy - including items from her wardrobe and where she got inspirations for them (no the first image is not her, she rocked the dress a hundred times better):

Do visit her blog for the eye candy and leave your comments, suggestions and links to desi (and non-desi)gorgeousness you have spotted in order to inspire her.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Little Lady Experimenting with Hijab

Little Lady has always been quite anti-hijab, insisting that she will never wear it, but ensuring I always have mine on before I leave the house.

Recently though she seems to have taken more of an interest. Her dad recently bought her a nice leopard-print trim abayah to wear to the masjid for Quran lessons with a matching scarf that she wraps round the grown-up way instead of pulling on her little pink hood-like al-amirah scarf. She sneaks my nicest pins (and loses them) to dress it up on her way out to the masjid.

Little Lady adores her Quran teacher, a friend of mine, who wears niqab and this seems to have had an influence over her. She often comes home from madrassah and keeps her abayah and scarf on. We recently went out for dinner after her Quran class and she decided not to take it off. She also encouraged me to wear my very similar leopard-print abayah. Bit of a mini-me moment.

Her most recent pronouncement was that she would wear niqab when she was sixteen. All well and good, but there seems to be a campaign to get me wearing one too. Both her and hubby think it’s the best idea ever. I wore it one evening recently when I was covering the teacher’s absence at the masjid. My friend told me her 10-year old son (who stayed with us last year) told her I had worn it and said he made dua that I keep it on. No pressure then.

At the end of the day, I am not ready for what feels like an enormous step. I don’t think I have the backbone to wear it to work. There is one Sister in my office who wears it to work and during her lunch break and then takes it off when she is in the office. My best friend used to work in the civil service with another Sister who wore it full-time. So it is not impossible, but I don’t feel it is something I am ready to do right now. I will wear it for the rare occasion when I go to the masjid to pick up the children or stop there to sit in the class as I feel a lot more comfortable doing this.

In the meantime, her beloved toy kitten seems to be playing guinea pig, she’s even been renamed “Hijabi-cat”.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Mum and Muslim June/July 2011 issue


The latest issue of Mum and Muslim is now out, with a focus on preparing for Ramadan. The editor Umm Imran says:

“We have had many writers over the past year and more are coming forward every week. It is their input that has allowed us to get this far, and inshallah will be what keeps us going. We have had writers from a variety of backgrounds, countries and even ages (from 12 to much older!). This is what we wanted to achieve from the start and is what makes us different. A big thank you again to our writers and also to you readers who keep coming back, Alhamdullilah!

The features section is all about Ramadan preparation as this will be coming inshallah just after our next issue. The Prophet (SAW) and his companions (RA) used to prepare months in advance for this and so we should inshallah try to follow their examples. Our parenting section has an interesting article on naming children and one on effective ways of dealing with children's temper tantrums. In our health section, our GP sister talks about issues relating to babies, which can be distressing to new parentsThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . In the same section, we also have a very good article on the importance of breast-feeding from a midwife.”

Please take a look at the newest edition by going to
The magazine also features writing from Sister Farhana from South Africa which moved and inspired me mash'Allah.  Check out her article here.

As always your comments and feedback are invaluable.

If you are interesting in contributing articles, reviews, recipes, creative writing or tutorials, please contact Umm Imran at .  We would also be interested to hear from anyone who has web expertise to assist with work on the website (fisabillilah for now).

Monday 6 June 2011

Mid-Summer Harvests

I got from work today and made my usual trip into the garden, to find that the crazy strawberry patch was polka-dotted red with strawberries.  This year is the best crop we have had so far, courtsey of the glorious sunny days we have been having and the summer rain showers of the last few days.  I invited the kids strawberry-picking, but they declined when they saw bugs.

These will be waiting for them when they get back from madrassah in  a little while.  I noticed that Sister Safiyyah also has her first strawberries in.  I completely agree with her when she say's:

"First strawberries!  Yum!  Once you eat strawberries from your own (or someone else's) garden, you will NEVER buy them in a store again."

So true!  If you have never tasted strawberries fresh from the plant and ripened in the sun, you are missing out on a blissful experience.  Not much of what grows in England is sweet, lacking the sun to be really sun-drenched when ripening, but strawberries are one thing the English have managed to get exactly right.

I am hoping to go strawberry-picking with the kids soon as we do most years (and have done since I was a child).  Cannot wait.  In the meantime the neighbour's garden is unused (he lets the house and the tenant does not use the garden) and he has a cherry tree that is laden with cherries which look very much like the ones below (which cost £2 for a lb).  Despite the pale colours, they are ripe and very sweet and firm which is how I like fruit.

Last year the owner gave us permission to take what we wanted and we gorged on and shared three buckets full.  This year I can see them turning red, so hubby will soon be over the fence and up the tree to bring us back cherries insh'Allah.

Bussinesswoman of the Year - Not!

I tried my hand at being a businesswoman this weekend at a charity bazaar.  It was an interesting experience and I learned lots about what sells, who buys and who buys what (watching other poeple's stalls, I really got an insight into the phenomenaen that is "pester power").

I had lots of fun, but I realised that this is not the game for me.  I found it exhausting and as my ever-sensible husband pointed out, I make more in an hour of my day job than I did all day at the bazaar. 

I think I will stick to crafting for pleasure, and gifts for now, although I do have a few more idea's to try out (why am I always finding myself work to do?)

We did get to have some fun though, with Kooks manning the stall for me for part of the day and then taking the kids for henna and face-painting.

I love this girls henna:

Little Ladies came out nice too:

Wasn't too crazy about mine though (although to be fair the henna ladies were exhausted by then):

Saturday 4 June 2011

Charity Bazaar - Umm Salihah's Creations

This week I have been preparing to sell some of the things I make at a small charity bazaar on Sunday where stalls were available for sellers.  It is a ladies only event and I am looking forward to learning a bit more about what kinds of things people like and what kind of prices are reasonable to charge.

I had the kids help out with little things, but particularly Little Lady was keen to be involved.  Her suggestion is that we put any money we raise towards a hajj or umrah fund - nice thought.

Getting ourselves organised:

Some of the long necklaces I will have on the stall:

Some of the tasbeeh (or prayer beads):

Charm bracelets:

I have a crazy today tomorrow - I am hoping to visit a boot fair in the morning, be back by 10am to get to the community centre and set up my stall, leave to get home for 1pm to hand some items over to a cargo company to send to Pakistan, pray and then hold our sisters circle from 2-3pm, then head back to the centtre to man the stall.  Kooks has kindly offered to cover the stall for a few hours whilst I am away as has my teenage cousin A.  I am sharing half the stall with A's mum, to keep the cost down. 

Hopefully I will be able to manage all of this and stay calm enough to keep an eye on the kids and maybe let them have some fun at the bazaar too (bouncy castle and henna for Little Lady is the plan).