Tuesday 30 September 2014

Hajj 2014/1435: The Blessed Days of Hajj

Alhamdulillah, we are blessed to have seen the days of hajj again, these special days of which it is said that:

By the dawn; By the ten nights, And by the even and the odd. And by the night when it departs. - Al Quran 89:1-4

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." (Al-Bukhari)

Rasulullah (Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam) said: “On no days is the worship of Allah desired more than in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The fast of each of these days is equal to the fast of a whole year, and the ibaadat (worship) of each of these nights is equal to the ibaadat of laylatul qadr.” [Hadith Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah]

The Prophet (Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam) explained how, “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” [Hadith Ahmad, 7/224].

Please see the link to my post last year which describes some beneficial deeds during these days and the act of sacrifice (udhiya) during these days.

You might also find my Ramadan and Eid Planner useful for recording your plans and thoughts for these special days of worship and to plan for Eid-ul-Adha as well as some resources about this month:

My dua’s and thoughts are with the haji’s who are truly blessed to be guests of Allah’s sacred house, may Allah (SWT) accept their efforts and with the Muslim’s suffering in difficult circumstances around the world as the rest of look forward to Eid-al-Adha, may Allah (SWT) bless them with more and better than He has us in this world and the next insh’Allah.

Offline – My Alternative Universe

Despite my best intentions to write, blog and tackle some projects close to my heart, I have been offline for the last few days as my poor laptop died. It survived missing keys, a built-in mouse that stopped working, the kids dropping food on the keyboard (okay that was me) and Darling trying to wrestle it off me at every opportunity. The final straw came when the charger exploded and I replaced it with a universal one that kept switching off and then I managed to drop it.

I did try and re-boot it but I think I might have managed to wipe the hard drive in the process. I thought I would have been heart-broken at losing about five years of work and thousands of images of my family and crafts and places I have been going back a few years. But I wasn’t. It was my own fault for buying an expensive external drive AFTER I had killed the laptop not before. Also, luckily lots, although not all, of the pictures and documents are in my e-mail account and I can spend some time downloading and sorting it all.

Hubby has asked a friend to replace the hard drive and try and retrieve the data, but the new version of my laptop is very slow and there is no Word, Excel etc so it is as good as unusable at the moment.

I am writing this on our family computer which looks fine but when you type, the letters appear a few second after you type them, so it's anyone’s guess where the typo’s are going to appear. That should be enough to tell you about the state of the computer. I avoided it for days until I realised that the laptop isn't going to be much use anytime soon. So I have steeled myself against how annoyingly slow it is and decided to use it for now. Probably this is a good time to take up doodling in between waiting after each click of the mouse for something to happen.

It’s not all bad. Although I am still online via my phone, meaning I can use the internet and check my e-mails, I spend much less time on the phone and don’t answer e-mail as it feels very unwieldy and cumbersome (I often have to paste links or send attachments). That means I am filling my time up with housework, cooking big meals (which still all seems to disappear in one day) and trying to get firm routines down for the kids.

It made me think how my life would be if there was no internet – would I spend all my time running an immaculate house and have clean kids and cook amazing food? Somehow I don’t think so. I’d probably spend every minute reading and pay even less attention to the world around me.

Monday 15 September 2014

Looking for my Happy as a Mum of Five.

I have been dying to get writing again for days. This post was going to be called “Getting Back into the Swing of Things – or Trying” but as I opened up a fresh word document I wrote the above realising that getting back into the groove of everyday life for me is not just about creating routine, being organised, gaining some control and being productive, although those things are important. It is also about finding the right state of mind to face the world, my workload and the people around me.

My newest little one is 17 days old and the days seem to have flown by at a crazy pace and in a whirl. In that time my youngest sister got married, we carried out the aqeeqah for our baby, the boys went back to school and Little Lady started high school.

In between all of this the baby went for a check up and seemed to have lost weight which along with the jaundice she developed (which all of my children had) meant we had to spend two days in the hospital with her while she underwent light therapy for the jaundice and I expressed bottles of milk to see if perhaps I just wasn't producing enough for her. In the end I agreed to supplement with formula in the short term and the hospital wondered if the original weight recorded for her had been wrong.

The aqeeqah was a simple affair which brought together family which had been estranged for a long time. I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to with the baby and me just out of hospital, so in the end decided family, good friends and good food was enough.

My youngest sister’s wedding was stressful, bitter-sweet, beautiful and in the end everything went well. I have lots of pics to share of all of the days, but I think I’ll let her blog it first before I accidentally post any “big reveals” of outfits.

After all the busyness, we spent the last weekend finding our feet, trying to get some rest and with mum-in-law and the kids recovering from coughs and colds. Today has been the first day I could cook, plan ahead for packed lunches, start putting the house back in order slowly and start thinking about how I can order my days so that everything gets done and everyone is taken care of (including me).

I have found the last few days frustrating, with a constant cycle of feeds, nappies, guests, functions and various aches and pains interspersed with housework, children’s homework, re-establishing bedtimes and morning routines now that school has started and a grumpy toddler who needs lots of attention and reassurance. Over the days it got to me and I started to wonder if I could ever stop feeling tired, sleep deprived, put upon and as if I was not getting anywhere or achieving very much.

I realised that it was not so much the sheer volume of things to do, but my mental state that needed attention. Alhamdulillah I have a capacity for hard work and enduring long days. If Allah (SWT) has blessed me with many responsibilities it is not without the strength to fulfil them. But to find that strength I have to be positive, upbeat and at peace with myself and those around me. The last few days that felt easier said than done with my temper and sadness getting the better of me. This led me to think about why I was feeling this way and what I could do about it.

These are the things that are helping me to lift my mood and feel stronger and happier:

1. Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) – The postnatal period means that I won’t be praying my daily salah for the first 40 days or so. I think this has a massive impact on the way you feel. Losing the five daily conversations with Allah (SWT), using the time to ask for his help and for your needs to be fulfilled and the general peace of prayer which is an oasis of peace in the craziness of everyday life:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “the coolness of my eyes is in prayer.” (Ahmad, An-Nasa'i)
Although I can’t pray, something that can be done in almost every situation and at all times is dhikr: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest (Quran 13:28)”

2. Writing – I find writing and blogging therapeutic, an outlet for my thoughts and an opportunity to be creative. I always feel happier and more willing to do things for everyone else when I have had the chance to do something for myself. I’m hoping eight months of maternity leave will give me lots of opportunities to write and blog, but with five children of different ages, we’ll have to see.

3. Exercise – I have been craving the chance to walk or do some kind of exercise that helps get my energy levels up and helps me to lose the weight I gained following the last two pregnancies. I have found a walking partner in my neighbour and hope to do a couple of miles each day insh’Allah. Should be do-able because I love walking in any weather, but

4. Get out – With two babies and a pram for one, I have been housebound unless I leave the new baby with my mum–in-law and grab what I need and rush home again. This week I am researching prams for two children and also looking at booking driving lessons.

5. Treats – I don’t believe in retail therapy and trying to buy happiness and with five children I am rethinking my finances and will have to learn to budget a lot better than I currently do. Instead I will look at treats that involve relaxation, trips out, time spent with friends and my sisters, special things I can do with my children and time to read. Although I suspect buying chocolate and gorgeous stationary might also sneak in under treats.

6. Life is Short – The local sisters circle is hosted at our house at the moment and was well-attended today. These weekly sessions always leave me refreshed and with food for thought. Today it was mentioned that one day in the next life is like a thousand years in this world. The point was that this world is transitory and when we look back over our lives this time will feel so short. It reminded me not to fill this short life with complaints, dissatisfaction, arguments and ungratefulness. Also when you look at things from this perspective it helps you to be patient as its only regarding pain or sadness for such a short time.

Alhamdulillah, I have had so many kind comments and e-mails and insh’Allah I will answer them over the next few days as I find my feet in between feeds, nappies and still feeling quite sleepy.

Tuesday 2 September 2014


After days of stop start contractions and a false alarm, I was blessed with my fifth child, a healthy little girl, last Friday morning at dawn.

I am feeling so very grateful, awed, achey, exhausted and overwhelmed right now.

Alhamdulillah for the blessings of little ones, of helpful family, health, kind neighbours, good friends and this faith which is the only thing that gets us through the hardest times to blessed ones.

Alhamdulillah for that sweet baby smell, for those tiny fingers and those smiles that babies smile in their sleep.  Alhamdulillah for the big kids who help their mum, for mum-in-law who has been holding the front with cooking and cleaning despite her poor health and for sisters who have been fulfilling my to-do lists.

I am so grateful for the kind comments, e-mails, offers of help and encouragement from sisters.  Most of all I am humbled and grateful for your dua's which are so very precious to me.

I have so much to share and I will start blogging again and answering comments and e-mails soon once I find my feet, things calm down a little and my head stops spinning.