Friday 26 October 2012

Eid-ul-Adha 2012/1433 Mubarak!!!

We will be enjoying our first Eid with our little girl insh'Allah.  As she is so small and I am caught up in a whirlwind of feedings and nappy changes, we decided to keep things simple this year with minimal decorations, shopping or cooking.

This morning it seems we couldn't help it though.  Hubby still got up in the night to put up pink balloons to surprise the kids (I'm waiting for complaints from the boys on that one) and I got up this morning to make everyone sevaiya (vermicelli in milk) and fairy cakes.  

We have guests staying with us from Glasgow over the next few days so the kids are very excited to have playmates in the house.

The baby has her first tiny Eid outfit courtesy of Fashionista Sister

Little Lady on the other hand has shoes that are catching up to my size (I give her another 2-3 years).   Quite a gap between the two and LL likes to play little mama to her little sister mash'Allah.

I'm hoping to spend most of today at Mum's, enjoying good food and, the company of my sisters and cousins insh'Allah.

Eid Mubarak everyone and Hajj Mabroor and Hajj Mubarak to the Haji's insh'Allah.

Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us)

Eid Cards for Eid ul Adha 2012/1433

I made these Eid cards quickly yesterday afternoon and then never got the chance to write them up and post them to all of my friends.  I guess they will have to wait until next Eid.

This last one was made by Little Lady,  she sneaked some of my craft stuff without asking, but when I saw the card I couldn't be cross with her.  She is going to take this one to her nan today.

Saturday 20 October 2012

One More Makes Four!

Alhamdulillah my little girl arrived on Monday, 10 days early, but healthy mash'Allah.
I haven't stopped smiling since and I can't take my eyes off her. 

Have loads to say, but very, very sleep deprived t the moment, so will have to wait.  
This pregnancy has been the hardest time of my entire life and I have not blogged much.  To all of the people who have e-mailed and commented in the past few weeks and haven't got a reply, I will get round to that soon insh'Allah

Saturday 13 October 2012

Support for Masjid Application


The planning application for the Abbey Mills Riverine Centre Masjid in East London is currently going through a public consultation.  The masjid has received a lot of unfair and inaccurate press over the last few years.  My husband and various family members regularly attend the masjid and it has been so beneficial for them to be able to attend weekly lectures and talks from scholars around the world, particularly with a focus being on dawah.

Unfortunately some people have gone to great lengths (various leaflet drops, high street protests, articles in local newspapers) to create fear in the local community in the hope that this fear will force the locals to speak against this planning application. With this in mind we need to make sure as many Muslims as possible show support for this application.

Anyone in the UK can comment on the application.  Please show your support for this project by emailing the following:

(With your name, address and ref) to development. control@newham. 
Use application ref: 12/00358/LTGOUT and say you support this project

Please ask all your friends and family to the same please. London Borough of Newham would use support for the masjid as a key to planning permission (application summary here), this is why it’s important. Your support today would become a Sadaqa-e-jariah for you insha’Allah.

Jazakallah khair
Umm Salihah

Rainbow Tasbih Gift

As I currently seem to have time on my hands (a rare occurrence), I thought I would keep my hands busy. and my mind occupied.

I made a rainbow tasbih (prayer/dhikr beads) for my mum-in-law last year and she loved it and used it loads until someone asked her for it.  I knew she wanted another one, so I made the tasbih below for the kids to give her on Eid. 

The crystals for this are smaller and the tasbih is therefore lighter and easier for her to use.

I have had this little silver pendant of the kaabah for years.  It was a gift for Little Lady that she never wore as the chain had broken.  I thought it would add a nice touch. 

I liked it so decided to make myself one too.  Particularly, after I have the baby I won't be able to pray salah for some time, so it would be nice to have some dhikr beads handy.

Friday 12 October 2012

My New Craft Space

I needed to make space in my room for our new impending little guest, so have been moving my craft supplies downstairs (much to hubby’s relief, who has been very patient with my piles of stuff).

I have been finding lots of inspiration on my Pinterest pages and daydreaming of little craft studios like these:

Of course, my craft space was never going to look like that, but I am rather happy with it anyway.  This is where the stuff was in my room:

The space in my room is now being used as the nearest equivalent of a dressing table I am going to be getting any time soon.  My mini perfume bottles have been in the back of a cupboard for ages and I decided to bring them out.  I am sure within the next year they are going to have to disappear again as we have to make the house child-proof all over again, but I think I will enjoy having them out till then.

The small cabinet I will get rid of, but till then it’s is filling up with nappies and various baby stuff which is accumulating already.

I sorted through the craft supplies and took loads out to give away to friends as there is no way I could use everything I have accumulated, also I think too much stuff can sometime hobble your creativity a little.

This is the area in the corner of the living room which I used:

This is what it looked like after I got rid of some of my books and moved my paper craft and jewellery making materials.

The box on top holds Little Ladies sewing stuff - felts, needles and embroidery thread.  I might have to move this stuff when I start learning to sew insh'Allah, but that will be some time early next year I think.

I also managed to squeeze my craft books in next to my materials from their various homes around the house.

I'm testing my craft area out at the moment.  I've been making some jewellery, but have been taking what I need from the shelves up into my room.  I hope to make some cards next week for Eid if I am still playing the baby waiting game, so I'll see if the space works for me, it helps that the light is fantastic in this spot.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Pregnancy: Counting Down Hours

My maternity leave started officially yesterday, although I have been on leave for the last two weeks.   I have been trying to keep myself occupied so that I don’t go crazy.  Thankfully nesting has hit like crazy and I have been dragging out furniture and cleaning corners that I previously pretended didn't exist and rearranging every cupboard and draw in the house.  I am running out of nooks and crannies now, so hubby will have to watch out or his stuff is next!

The last few days have been challenging.  I have been having very strong Braxton Hick (or “fake”) contractions daily and possibly about one big contraction a day (usually in the morning), which isn't really enough to get me anywhere near getting a baby out.

Some days I keep myself busy enough to pass the time and on others I have to keep reminding myself to have sabr, but on the whole I have been getting along.  Yesterday was very tough though.  I think my heart really did just drop into my shoes and I just felt like giving up and crying in a heap somewhere.

My mum called me with good news about one of my friends who had just had a little girl after three boys.  I was soooo happy for her and can’t wait to go see her and share her happiness.  At the same time her due date was the same as mine and I started to feel cheated, as if I had been left behind.  Very childish I know, but after a full day of sore ribs, swollen feet, sore back, painful stomach and being unable to sit, lie down or move comfortably or eat or breathe much, I just couldn't take any more.

The following conversation with hubby ensued:

Me: ”I can’t take any more!!!!! I'm fed up, this is never going to end”
Hubby:  “Think of the rewards Allah gives to a pregnant woman”
Me: “X had hers by c-section, it didn't even hurt”
Hubby: “But you’ll get more reward than her”
Me:  “Y had hers two weeks early!”
Hubby: “You’ll get more reward then her too”
Me:  “Can’t I just read salat-al-tasbih for reward instead?”
Hubby: “What you are going through has more reward than anything”
Me: “I can’t breathe and I can’t sit down either, what am I supposed to do?!”

At this point, hubby took me out for a bit, which helped.  We left the kids with their gran and went to visit my second cousin who has just had a baby boy by ceasarian section.  I ended up enjoying the visit and coming home feeling better.  I kept telling that everything happens at its appointed time and that every life has its time to begin and end as decided by Allah (SWT).

In the middle of last night (in between my usual 3-4 trips to the loo) a strange thing happened.  I could suddenly breathe!!  What things we take for granted.  How amazing it felt!  The baby seems to have moved down a bit, although not massively.  So now it is even harder to sit, but I can breathe.  I have been luxuriating in deep breaths all morning.  Subhan’Allah, Allah (SWT) tests us, but as promised, He sends us reprieve too.

“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)

"Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity." ~ Al-Quran (2: 286).

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” ~ Al-Quran (31: 14)

Starting a Henna Course - First Two Lessons

As I am now on leave from work, Little Lady and her dad kindly nominated me for a short course at her school.  It is a five week after school henna application course and requires family learning, so both Little Lady and I must attend.  I love henna and have always wanted to learn, but most of all I love the fact that we can do the course together.

For the first session, the instructor drew some shapes on a white board and asked us to copy them (image below is my and Little Ladies attempts).  These basic shapes are repeated to create more complex henna designs.  We were asked to practise these at home and also to select a henna design we like for the second session  and bring in a picture.

We also had to have a go at creating our own patterns and copying some the instructor created on the board.

If you are interested in following a similar course, the Tap Dancing Lizard has a series of three brilliant booklets which break down the patterns into their composite shapes and then offers step-by-step exercises which allow you to practise each shape and which get more complex (look for The Henna Page How-to volumes 1-3, an example I printed off is below).

In preparation for the second lesson, I pulled out my battered old henna folder and tidied it up.  This holds all of the images I have collected over the years of henna and patterns that could be translated into henna. These come from photos, magazines, brochures, adverts and a few printed from the internet.

For my homework, I picked the shoulder design here (sixth row) from the Henna Cat website of Catharine Hinton. I fell in love with her designs years ago and have used her designs a couple of time to attempt henna on myself.

The instructor got us to create our own henna. The recipe we used was:
  • Pure green henna (the greener the better as this tends to give a deeper stain on the skin).
  • Water in which a spoon of coffee and one tea bag has been steeped and then cooled (again this gives a deeper colour than plain water).
  • A spoon of honey (or alternatively you can use molasses).

Little Lady loved mixing this and finally stopped moaning about how boring the course was (I think she thought she thought she would turn up and start wielding a henna cone and henna-ing people, so she wasn't very impressed when we spent lots of time registering and then practising on paper).

We had to copy the design we had chosen onto paper and then go over it with the henna using a cocktail stick.  This reminded me of how women used to create designs when I was very small and henna cones weren't commonly available (although I can remember asking for patterns on our hand when we were small and our mum just covering our whole hands with henna paste, resulting in rather unsatisfying orange hands every Eid).

The children had to paint the henna directly onto their paper and the mothers were given glass to cover the design and henna over.

I finished my design and was instructed to wipe it off and start again to get some practise in.  You can bet I took my sweet time the next time round.  I found the whole thing very therapeutic.  I've also met some really nice ladies who are also keen to learn.  For the next session we will be creating our henna cones.  I only hope now I get to do the whole course and don't miss any sessions because I've gone into labour too close to one!

Picture of the Day 09.10.12 - Exotic Breakfast

I had a stressful morning getting the kids ready for school which culminated in me yelling and the kids running for the door bags and coats in hand (they have the sense to know when they have pushed me too far at least).

The last few days I have been trying them to get their coats and shoes on and they have taken so long that we have to rush, meaning that on the walk back I was struggling and yesterday I was almost doubled over in pain.  Suffice to say, today we left early, had a leisurely walk to school and I was fine on the way home.

I don't get much sleep at night, so usually come home from dropping the kids off and sleep for another hour.  This morning I thought I would eat first and as I get nasty heartburn, opted for some healthy cooling guava and some nutritious pomegranate (they are in season somewhere, so we are finally getting sweet ones).  I think this must count as one of the yummiest breakfasts I have ever had.  I'm off for a nap now.

Monday 8 October 2012

Aaila Magazine - October/November 2012: Hajj/Eid-al-Adha Edition

The latest edition of Aaila Magazine is now out, including my working Muslimah column and a number of articles on preparing for hajj.  There are also lots of reviews and some articles I found particularly useful on getting ready for labour (here on what to pack in your hospital bag, here on writing a birth plan and here on preparing for labour).

As always, we are on the lookout for writers who might wish to share their knowledge, expertise and ideas via the magazine. So if you are able to contribute an article, blog post, poetry, short story, recipe or how-to tutorial, please do get in touch with Umm Imran at 

Thursday 4 October 2012

Book Review: Hijab and Basketball by Umm Nura

Hijab and Basketball is the story of Amina, a young girl who is moving to a new school and is anxious about how her people will perceive her hijab.  On arriving Amina makes friends and joins the basketball team, but she also finds she is teased about her headscarf.  Finding courage in the story of Nusaybah bint Ka’ab, who walked into battle in the early days of Islam, Amina faces challenges when she is given the opportunity to play in a basketball tournament because of her head scarf.

My daughter previously read Jannah Jewels by the same author and enjoyed it, so I was keen to take a look at this book.  The book addressed what felt like common and realistic complaints from a young woman: her anxieties about starting at a new school, making new friends and having to explain the hijab to other students.

I liked that the main character was positive and strong – she is clear on why she wears the hijab and can explain to others, she is athletic, being good at basketball and she is able to stand up for herself when bullied, including when the bullies make fun of her ablutions and prayers.

The book also touches on the complexity of bullying amongst girls – the way friends behave differently in front of bullies or the way that bullies might have their own difficulties or sadness to contend with.

The book is also considerate of other faiths.  One of Amina’s friends is a Christian and they compare some of the beliefs they have.  Amina’s sympathetic and kind basketball coach is a Sikh.  I am all for teaching our children to respect other faiths and to be considerate of other people’s ways of thinking.

My 9 year old daughter enjoyed reading this book and I liked how she reacted at the prejudice Amina faces during the basketball tournament – with indignation.  Surprisingly, my boys (7 and 5) also liked the book and my older son also commented on the unfairness of what happens during the tournament.

The book does not end with a clear-cut happy ending, but it certainly leaves its young reader in a place where they will have questions about what happens.  A well written, easy to read book, with good role models in the shape of Amina, her coach and her mother amongst others which should give children plenty to think about.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Picture of the Day 02.10.12 - Mum's Panjeeri

This is the special food my mum made for me this week this week to keep me strong in these challenging last weeks of pregnancy, through labour and during the recovery period afterwards.  It includes almonds, pistachio nuts, cashew nuts, raw sugar, ground ginger powder and various other ingredients.  I posted a recipe for this here along with some other foods that are used post pregnancy.  The recipe my mum used was slightly modified, but tasted really good.  I will get her to explain how she made it this time round and post the recipe and method.

The tub below was the smaller of two containers and I will be having a little each morning.  The other much larger tub is for after the birth (so far I have been sneaking spoonfuls all day).