Monday 17 August 2015

Lecture by Maulana Tariq Jamil (August 2015)

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk by a scholar from Pakistan called Maulana Tariq Jameel.  He is very popular in Pakistan and his talks are usually very well attended.  This time was no exception.

I attended two of his lectures in London before and there were some specific take-away's which have stayed with me.  From the first lecture was his request that as Muslimah's we hold fast to three precious things: salah (prayer), modesty and ikhlaq (excellence in your behaviour towards others).

From the second lecture I recall his message that having all of the trappings of this world: a big house, beautiful furnishings, expensive clothing is not a sign of a good life standard.   Instead our quality of life is dependent on the quality of our relationships.  This being the case he encouraged listeners to fulfil the rights of our spouses, family members and neighbours even at the expense of our own, to hold our tongues, to forgive and seek forgiveness.  

This time the lecture was at a sister masjid to our local one .  On turning up, I was told I had been designated for English translation.  I ended up translating for a revert sister and room full of teenagers, who started off squirming and smirking, but after a while seemed to be quite interested alhamdulillah.

This time round the focus of the lecture was on reflecting on our purpose in this life: to recognise Allah (SWT) as our Creator.  We were also reminded that this life is work and that if we do our work, once this life is over, the next life is pleasure.  He spoke extensively about the pleasures of Jannah for the believer and the fact that there would never be any illness, sadness, pain or death.  

He made an interesting point though, for those who love to fast, to pray through the night, to make dhikr and sujood, they would no longer be able to do those things after they die either.  He pointed out that some of these things were the pleasures of this world and we would not get them again after we die, so we should make the most of them - for instance the pleasure that lies in long days of fasting for Allah (SWT) or the night prayer or the hijab we wear to obey Allah (SWT) (I have heard from sisters that wear niqab that Allah SWT places a sweetness in the heat f those who wear it).  

I really liked a point he also made about suffering for the sake of Allah (SWT) and how this can become pleasure. For instance holding your tongue to avoid an argument with family members can feel humiliating, but doing it to please Allah (SWT) can feel like a pleasure.  Or when we sacrifice our desires it can be painful, but when we sacrifice our desires for the sake of being obedient to Allah (SWT), then we find there is pleasure in it.

You can listen to the recording here in Urdu (dated 12th August 2015)


I was recently asked to make some banners for a work friend and really enjoyed doing them.

At the end of last week she surprised me with some treats: a mug for when I am blogging and a book.

I really loved both.  I enjoyed a quite cup of coffee before everyone was awake on Saturday morning and I plan to make the book my best read as she has spoken about it in glowing terms.  Sooo nice to get a treat now and again isn't it.

Saturday 15 August 2015

Pakistani Independence Day 2015

No matter how bad things get in Pakistan or what people have to contend with, come the 14th August, everyone is in great spirits and celebrating with enthusiasm.

Where I live in East London, my neighbourhood goes crazy and all of the Pakistani's come out.  It's 1am here and the drummers and the sports cars making a racket have only just stopped.

My husband is from Pakistan and never fails to get into the spirit of things.  He hung a massive flag outside our house, this is the view from the inside:

As it was Jummah, I put both of the babies in pretty floral dresses.  They were soon exchanged for the dress below which my mum-in-law brought back Pakistan

During the last few years, hubby has been selling flags an toys during the Independence Day celebrations, this year was no different.  Last year Little Lady made green  and white loom bands to sell on her dads stall and sold lots.  This year she upgraded to pretty, sparkly bead bracelets.  She emptied her art case and lined with tissue paper to display her work.  Her dad sold quite a few mash'Allah.

Both of the boys spent the evening helping their dad on the stall and enjoying the atmosphere.

I didn't get to post this until a few hours too late and it's the start of the following day, but never too late for dua's.  I make dua that Pakistan prospers and that it's people are successful and happy.  May Allah (SWT) bless Pakistan and it's people with peace, safety and honour.  Ameen.

Eid ul Fitr 2015/1436 - One Dish Eid Party

It feels a bit late to post about our Eid party, seeing as Eid was four weeks ago now and the party was 2 weeks ago, but better late than never I guess. I decided the week before and told most people at short notice, I used to be very organised, but in the last year, much less so.  I asked people to bring a dish to make the party less work for me and so that I could enjoy friends cooking.

We had some of our d├ęcor: balloons, banners and framed posters up from Eid still, with a colour theme of pink, purple and blue.  Some of the balloons had deflated, so the night before, my neighbour came around and helped to put up some new balloons, wrap gifts and prizes and help put up small fairy lights.

The hexagonal lights at the back are some kind of party lights that my husband brought home from a house move (he has a removal business) along with a few packs of colourful fairy lights.  They respond to sound and flicker according to how noisy it is.  I thought they might be useful to distract the children.  Gorgeous was being good and helping me get things ready and tried to get the lights hooked up.  I did ask him a number of times to leave them alone, of course he only did this after they stopped working, so they tuned out to be not much use.

As always , the main thing is getting the food right.  I made chicken biryani from scratch (I usually use the packet) from this recipe and thankfully it was well-received.

Harlequin's chicken curry:

The samosa's were from a  neighbour, my mum supplied the kebabs above and my other neighbour made the dhai bhallay below.

The aloo ghosht curry below (lamb and potato) was from this recipe.  The lamb got too tender and broke up a bit, but it tasted amazing.

As the weather was good, we put the kids in the garden.  As they were out of sight they ate little and went crazy on the drinks, but they were happy enough outside and we got to eat in peace.

After lunch we had games for the kids including pass-the parcel.

We then gave out awards with prizes for best behaved girl and boy, most helpful boy, best dressed girl and best dressed woman and the woman with the best hair and make-up.  I'm not sure if this was a good idea as the results were a  very much contended, debated and appealed by the kids.  I tried to make sure that at least one child from each family got something.

After all of that we kicked back and chilled and ate desserts.

Shutterbug has really good habits when it comes to eating healthy mash'Allah and supplied the fruit.  My neighbours daughter assembled the lovely fruit trifle pots.

My kids are jelly mad, so I made these little jelly pots which they went mad over.  I'm sure Little man had an unreasonable number of these.

There was also a super-rich banoffee pie which I tried for the first time and chocolate cake which a good friend brought along. The ladies hung around for hours after the party finished as my husband tends to stay away when ladies visit and they felt very relaxed.

Alhamdulillah one of the sisters spent some time talking about her travels to India for dawah work and the need to engage in dawah and about how we must protect and refresh our iman.  This was because of the following hadith:

The Prophet (saw) said: "No people sit in an assembly without mentioning Allah, and without asking Allah for blessings on their Prophet, except that it will be a cause of sorrow upon them. Thus if He (Allah) wishes He will punish them, and if He wishes He will forgive them." - At-Tirmithi. See Al-Albani, Sahih At-Tirmithi 3/140.

The Prophet (saw) said: "No people may rise from an assembly in which they have failed to mention the Name of Allah without it being as if they were getting off a dead donkeys rotting back, and it would be a cause of grief for them." - Abu Dawud 4/264, Ahmad 2/389. See Al-Albani, Sahihul-Jami' 5/176.

Friday 14 August 2015

Dunstable Downs Kite Festival

I have been meaning to go to the Dunstable Downs Kite Festival for the last few years, but it either fell during Ramadan or we missed it for some other reason.  This year I noted the date and it was on a weekend we were free so we headed down.

Dunstable Downs is designated a site of Special Scientific Interest because of its chalk grasslands and sits within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Which means it has plenty of wide open space to fly kites.  The festival itself  was near the visitor centre, so it was not a lengthy walk from the car park for my mum-in-law and the babes, although it was a little bumpy for the pram, but not enough to be a problem.

Hubby bought a kite he had stashed behind our front room sofa and I bought the picnic. One there, there were lots of stall selling handicrafts and some fair ground rides for small children.  I and Little Lady went straight for the craft stalls and hubby and the boys went off to check a stall with boomerangs.

One we got that out of our system, we decided it was a good time to try our kite out.  It took a little while to put together the kite, but having grown in Pakistan, where every boy flies kites and in Lahore where they have a massive city-wide kite festival, hubby knew what he was doing.  The boys were soon enlisted to hold up the kite to help launch it.

The weather could not have been better, it was very windy.  It took a lot of attempts and the kite crashing down to earth a great number of times for the kite to stay up.  It turned out to be a professional one that you need to get the feel for and it scared the living daylights out of us and other people around us every time it came zooming down.

Whilst my husband persisted with his scary kite, we found something smaller for Darling to play with.

As always Little Man was on hand to take care of Darling when she started to tire.  I often see him with her and wish I had a big brother like him mash'Allah.

There were some fabulous kites in the air and we really enjoyed looking at all the different ones:

Lunch was the usual kebab wraps, chicken sandwiches, aloo chaat and salad.  I always find that you can bring what you like on these trips, by lunch time everyone is utterly ravenous and it all gets polished off.  Our older four all get car sick, so we tend to give them a very light breakfast if we are going to be out for the day.  They then get a filling lunch and spend the afternoon running around to work it off.  That means on the way home they are so tired they will sleep the entire car journey.

After lunch the kids ran around on the periphery of the fair and kite displays, enjoying the open space.  It really was rather lovely.

We spent the afternoon trying to spot different kites and watching hubby alternate between getting his kite in the air, knocking other people's kites out of the air and scaring people with his diving kite.   

The festival was so much fun mainly because it felt so family friendly and there were families with young children everywhere.  There was lots of space for the children to run around and it felt safe and friendly  - notwithstanding hubby's kamikaze kite.  It was also a nice free option for a day out for people on a tight budget.

I would definitely consider going again next year.