Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Last Chance to Help: Where’s Funky Monkey Children’s Book

A while back I shared a campaign to raise money for a series of children's books called Where’s Funky Monkey.  The book has been designed to encourage children to explore some of the most amazing places around the world. Destinations in the book include the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza and Machu Picchu in Peru.

The campaign has been opened again but is now nearing it's end.  You can go here to donate if you get the chance in the next few hours insh'Allah.

About the Book:




Readers have to look for Funky Monkey, his friends and a series of items in each colourful page spread. Each spread also has facts and references to local culture and wildlife. 



The person behind the idea, Osmaan Mahmood, is currently looking for crowd funding to make the books a reality. He describes the reason why he wanted to create the book:

"I believe stories and tales are one of the strongest influences during our formative years. Everyone has a book that made the world seem exciting and full of possibilities. My aim is for Where’s Funky Monkey to be that book for the next generation."

Osmaan is currently looking to raise funds viaKickstarter. The goal is to raise £500 to pay for editing, printing and to pay illustrators. You can go here to contribute and see what you get for your pledge. The Kickstarter page also has a timeline, risks and FAQ's. It's an all or nothing campaign, so the project will only be funded if it reaches its goal of £500 by 27th April 2017.


See also:

Monday, 24 April 2017

Muslims and Disagreement with Respect

I got into a rather heated debate this week, not heated as in we got angry and came to blows. Heated because although I kept came and explained my approach, I still felt my blood pressure go up very quickly because my beliefs about something very important to me were being challenged in quite a dismissive way.

I often find that there are some aspects of Islam that Muslim’s don’t practice, but are also quick to ridicule or dismiss when others practice. I could name a handful of these that would get all sorts of opinions thrown up:

Niqab (the face veil)
Gender segregation for non-Mahram’s
Islamic education for our children
Dealing in interest.

For many of these things we have a clear ruling or position in Islam, for others there is discussion or a difference of opinion amongst the scholars. As an ordinary Muslim I try to implement Islamic guidance into my life as best I can. In some aspects I am better than others, in others I have far to go.

There are different things I try to do to improve in my practice of Islam: having good intentions, trying to gain knowledge, trying to be in the company of those who are better than me and will help me improve. Sometimes you don’t know the importance or benefit of a good deed until you have gained knowledge or experience. An example is niqab. There is a variety of opinions on whether wearing niqab is fardh (obligatory or not). People will often look at it as something that is hard to do. But very few people talk about the benefits. 

A friend of mine that wears niqab once told me that the feeling that you get from wearing niqab, of your own choice, for the pleasure of Allah (SWT), is something that cannot be described in words, there is a sweetness in the heart that come about that is a gift from Allah (SWT). The point is that there is a lot of misconception about niqab. It is hard enough to wear it in the West, but what makes the situation more painful for me, is the way many Muslim’s will dismiss it, make fun of it or outright try to convince people that it is not necessary. I don’t wear niqab, but I have immense respect and I look up to the sisters who do wear it. I also feel quite protective of them. Perhaps one day I will have the courage to wear it.

I understand that many Muslims will not practice many of these aspects if Islam themselves.  They may not believe in it or see the benefit of it. Sometimes they feel that there is not clear evidence of it. Sometimes they will try to make excuses for why a deed is not valid because they don’t want to make the effort (like the occasional person I have come across who makes excuses for not praying, because they are waiting for Allah SWT to turn their hearts to it…ahem). These things I understand and perhaps these things are part of their faith journey.

The thing that upsets me is the people who refuse to implement these actions, but then also try to convince others there is no need, or make fun of them.
Like the Muslims who make fun of sisters wearing niqab. 
Or those who don’t pray and tell non-Muslims that people who do are just extreme.
Those that make fun of brothers that have beards
Those that make fun of or look down on people who try to dress in the sunnah way (in a way that follows the tradition of our beloved Prophet, sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

I have a lot less understanding for these people. I think they are either too weak to act on some of these things themselves and try to cover it up by making fun of others, or they are apologists who are scared of everything including being grouped with Muslims (“Don’t worry, I’m not like those people who look and act a bit different” or “This is the 21st century, we don’t need to do this anymore”). I think they must lack self-awareness into their own fears or insecurities.

My husband once came across a Muslim brother in Ramadan who was enjoying a nice meal sitting out on the street. My husband’s advice to him was that if you cannot fast or choose not to fast that is your personal business and between you and Allah (SWT), but for a Muslim to eat openly during Ramadan is to mock the faith, and to mock something that is known to be part of Islam constitutes kufr (disbelief). He encouraged the brother to take care and be discreet. 

“If you ask them (about this), they declare: ‘We were only talking idly and joking.’ Say: ‘Was it at Allah, and His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger that you were mocking?’ Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed…” ~Quran (9:65-66)

So if there is some aspect of Islam that you find too hard at this time, may Allah SWT make it easy for you.

If there is some aspect that you cannot see the benefit of, then have patience and gain knowledge. Consider, how many things are there that have not been clear in the past, but with time and experience have become clear? May Allah (SWT) bring knowledge and clarity to you.

If you think it is ok to make fun of Muslims who are not harming anyone, or make fun of their practice of Islam, then perhaps it is time to take a long, hard look at yourself. There are other ways to disagree – with logical argument about why your approach is different or by being honest and laying out clearly that you don’t understand something. But it is not too much to ask that people disagree respectfully and that Muslim’s treat the commands of Allah (SWT) with respect. If even these things are beyond you, then perhaps silence is truly golden

Abu Hurairah relates that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbour. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim ]

speak a good word or be silent

Things That Make Me Smile - 11

I feel like the blog has been quite serious in recent times, must be something about your kids turning from enthusiastic, fun little bundles of noise and mess, to eye-rolling, moaning teenagers.  Or maybe it's something about getting older and feeling more rebellious and not wanting to do it all anymore.  Still I have Gorgeous, who continues to create utter chaos and entertain all of us and I have hubby who encourages me in whatever I want to do alhamdulillah.

Anyway, the Things That Make Me Smile Posts are some of my favourites, so I thought it was time for another dose of eye candy.


I have been keeping an eye out for some hanging crystals for my daughters bedroom window, can you imagine the sunlight coming through these:




I have had these beautiful hand painted silk scarves from Silk Scarves Takuyo on my mind and on my Pinterest boards for quite some time.  Every single one is beautiful.  Way too lovely to stick hijab pins into.

My dad brought back a box of henna from Pakistan on my mum's request recently.  I have been meaning to try some.  I love some of the simpler designs.



I love the idea of a book nook to curl up in.  We don't have the space, but the idea is so tempting that I know I will be thinking about it.  Somewhere cosy with space for current reads, maybe a rug and cushions rather than seats.



I have been looking for some simple tunics to upgrade my summer wardrobe.  Something linen or cotton lawn that I can throw over any pair of trousers at home and get on with my day without feeling too much of a mess.  Something like the Boden ones below.  In the end I treated myself to a Junaid Jamshed tunic top with English roses and clocks all over it, a bit Alice in Wonderland, but very pretty.




I have been trying to eat as much nuts, dates and fruit as I can at the moment, in the hope it helps to stem my craving for carbs and chocolate.  It seems to be helping a little although I am still eating way too much chocolate.  Big juicy oranges after dinner are a favourite at the moment.


I have been looking for the perfect abayah.  I used to get them stitched by my mum, who made them exactly as I like them, but no longer sews.  I like them in a flowing fabric, not stretch jersey which every shop seems to have, light enough for all seasons, not form-fitting which I am also finding many abayah's to be, with the arms long enough to cover when I pray and the hem wide enough that I can walk without it inhibiting my stride.  I haven't found anything quite right so far, but this looks like what I am looking for (I would love to hear any recommendations).



My youngest has made me smile so much recently, she seems to have come out of her shell, has become more affectionate and much more vocal.  When her sister comes home from nursery, she runs to the door to tell her she loves her and missed her before they proceed to start arguing over their toys.  She loves climbing up things and sitting on her brothers and her favourite words are "I'm hungry", a girl after my own heart alhamdulillah




What is making you smile right now?  What's currently on your wishlist?


Things That Make Me Smile 10

Things That Make Me Smile 9

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

When You Are Having a Parenting Fail

This week the kids were at home for the Easter holidays, I took them to the park after work, we took them to an adventure park (this one), we let them spend more time than I would have liked on the internet. As the two week holiday wore on, I still heard more and more of “I am bored”. It came to a head towards the end of the holidays. We had planned a trip with my sister in law to a trampoline park and we had kept the Easter Monday holiday free to take them out. After three days of back and forth to the park, I decided on the fourth day that I didn’t fancy the park, it was cold and boring (yes mum’s get bored too kids!). Not to mention it was costing me slushees and ice cream on the trip home every day.

The kids mutinied and Little Man threatened to go by himself on his bike. There was quite some back and forth which included:
They were bored
They would have been better off in school
They never got to go anywhere
They never got to have any fun
All of their friends were going on holiday abroad to places like Dubai and Pakistan
They were bored
I just went to work and didn’t think about them anyway

The last one felt a bit below the belt and it was enough to push my patience past tipping point.  I cancelled the trip they had been looking forward to at the Trampoline Park. I cancelled any other days out. I cancelled all requests for eating out, toys, trips or treats. I did it with glee and a feeling of satisfaction.

For once I didn’t feel guilty. It felt like the right thing to do. I was shattered and I could well use the long Easter weekend to rest at home and organise my home. We have finished refurbishing our living room and I have boxes of books, craft materials and things that live at the backs of cupboards to sort out and half the house feels displaced.

I wonder if they thought I would stick to my word or soften. My problem is that I love eating out, day trips, doing fun things with them. So often, I end up relenting and doing nice things with them anyway. But in recent times, I feel as if there is a note of entitlement creeping into our relationship. I have always tried to do everything I can to make them happy, give them wonderful memories of their childhood and make sure their needs are adequately met. I have gone out of my way to make sure they have everything they need to do well at school and they know that this is a weakness of mine because I feel as if I missed out on some things as a child.

I think that there is a point when trying to do so much good becomes counter-productive. I am coming to realise that sometimes going without things is good for the child. That having to earn something, meet a challenge without hand-holding or even just plain old chores are character building and help the child grow. 

I read somewhere that teaching a child how to do things for themselves and making them do chores helps them to go into the world as much more of a benefit and blessing to the world, than a useless burden that looks to everyone else to do clean up their mess after them and not serve others in any useful way.

My mother-in-law often says that a person who has worked hard as a child is never intimidated by hard work and will confidently roll up their sleeves without a second thought throughout their lives, whenever the need raises. Whereas a child that has been coddled, will always blanch at work of any kind and look to others for help.

So I spent the last few days catching up on things I had to do, enjoying reading and basically telling them to entertain themselves because it was not my job and I could not care less if they are going to be rude about it.

So when you are trying your best, putting in your time and effort and have the best intentions, I have concluded you cannot be a failure as a parent. You are responsible for your time, attention and effort but Allah (SWT) determines the outcomes of our efforts:

Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward. ~ Quran 64:15

So we can keep on trying our best, making good intentions and investing our time and energy. But next the kids infuriate me or behave in an entitled way, I won’t feel like a failure, I will use it as a learning opportunity for them and enjoy myself in the process.


The Blessings of an Early Morning Routine

With five children and action packed weekends (or packed to-do-lists anyway), my days can be full and hectic.  I love the bustle of family life and I am grateful for the busy-ness of a full day.  Taking care of my grandmother in the years before she died really made me appreciate how lucky I was to have the health and energy to live a full life.  I could see that she would yearn to do more for herself but was unable to.  She would remind us, but perhaps more herself that there was a time that she could take care of her home and family as well as everything else being a farmer’s wife through at her (harvests, caring for livestock, vast extended families and their squabbles and celebrations).  Because of the perspective she gave me, I have never begrudged how much work I have to do in any given day or how long my day can be sometimes.

However, over time I have realised that running around and being busy all of the time is neither healthy nor sensible.  If nothing else, more and more I see the benefit of taking time for self-care, relaxation, introspection or stepping back to plan my day rather than wait to be assailed by all that comes along during it.

Usually weekend mornings at home mean I get very busy with breakfasts, getting babies dressed and getting everyone organised for the day.  If I get up late and find myself waking up at the same time as the kids, its very likely the noise and demands of the children will start upon waking and continue until we go back to bed.  That's a long day of noise, fighting, arguing, complaining, or in Gorgeous' case, just making noise of some kind in case the worlds forgets you exist.

I love my children like crazy, but 16-18 hours of noise where you can't think straight can leave you slightly distracted and wild-haired (like a crazy woman). 

So my answer has been to take advantage of the early mornings.  There is a hadith that is very beloved to me:

Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.” (Ahmed)

I have found in recent years, where the fajr (dawn) prayer is not very early (i.e. 6am rather than 4am), that staying awake after fajr can lead to a very, very productive day.  I can have mu chores and housework dawn well before midday or use the time for my personal projects or me-time.

Even when fajr is very early and it is not realistic for me to stay awake, I find it useful to use a little time after fajr to so something useful before I go back to sleep, even for a short time.  This might be tidying or organising something, getting things ready for the day ahead, some reading or perhaps a brain dump (you can see how I do this here and here).

Another big benefit for me is that I get a peaceful breakfast, I get to drink my coffee before it gets stone cold and I don't resent the fact that I will get no quite time for many hours.  As each of the children wake up and drift downstairs, I wish them good morning.  The babies get big hugs, everyone else usually asks what the plan for the day is.  I am happy to see them and care for them rather than annoyed that the day has started and I won't get any rest, because I have already dedicated some time to whatever I feel I need.

So in the last few days, whilst I have been off work, I have been staying awake in the early morning.  

I have been for an early morning walk, had my coffee warm had time to write or plan ahead for this blog and for the Muslimah Mastermind Group.




We have just finished the refurbishment of my living room, it now has stopped looking like a cave (everything had to be re-plastered because one of the walls was crumbling from damp from a water pipe that had been leaking under the house and the room has had no light fixture for a month).

I have been unpacking boxes of paper-work, books and toys and even better sorting through and getting rid of things we don't need whilst the children are still asleep and blissfully unaware that their old toys are sneaking into bags to disappear from the house (because that broken toy that no-one plays with becomes the one toy they can't live without the minute you mention getting rid of it).







There are some things that I am finding go with being an early morning person.  You will find yourself flagging in the afternoon and getting tired if you are sleeping late as well as rising early.  I have been able to get away with burning the candle at both ends for the last 20 years or so, but in the last year I can see bags under my eyes (vanity is as good a reason as any to catch up on your sleep) and I find that it is slightly harder to get up in the morning.

So my aim now is to couple my early mornings with earlier bed times and also make more effort to incorporate the sunnah of the qailulah, or the sunnah short mid-day nap into my daily life insha’Allah.

Are you an early morning person?  Or do you find it tough to get up early or stay awake after fajr?  How do you have calm mornings with your children and make sure you start the day in the best way? 


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Ramadan and Eid Planner 2017/1438

Assalam-alaikam,
I have just published the updated 
Ramadan and Eid Planner for 2017 (or 1437/38 in the Islamic calendar). The Planner is a bumper 74 pages. I have tried to keep it fairly print friendly, with the exception of the cover pages. I have updated these with a hand painted watercolour wash in soothing colours.


This year it includes:

  • Clear goal-setting for Ramadan
  • Some practical suggested activities you can undertake now, a month before, a week before and during Ramadan, with space to include your own actions and thoughts.
  • Space to plan ahead for the month of Dhul-hajj and the Sacrifice
  • The Sunnan of Ramadan and both Eid’s
  • The beautiful and inspiring Ramadan Sermon of our beloved Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)
  • Guidance to help you decided what you want to get out of Eid and how you can do that
  • A reading list of useful materials on Ramadan and Eid
  • Prompts to reflect on Ramadan after the month has ended so that you can retain some of the benefits of the blessed month
  • Ramadan Meal Planner’s with space to work out which ingredients you will need on which day
  • Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha meal planners, with space to plan ahead for snacks for guests as well as meals
  • Gift list for the two Eid’s including a budget column and checklist for gifts to be posted
  • Eid card list for both Eid’s
  • 11 Ramadan Recipes – some of the most popular on www.happymuslimah.com

I hope this planner serves as a useful tool for brothers and sisters in making the most of Ramadan this year and having blessed and happy Eid’s insh’Allah. 

You can click the link here or the image below to access.




If you find this planner beneficial, please make dua for me and my family. Your feedback is welcome either in the comments or via e-mail at umm_salihah@yahoo.co.uk and I will be happy to take your thoughts into consideration for an updated version in the future insh’Allah.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Deed for Friday: Help a Young Writer Publish the Story of Prophet Yusuf (AS)

previously blogged that I hope to publish an irregular blog post on some Fridays, sharing a charitable campaign or a beneficial project that readers can donate to or contribute to in some way.

This week the spotlight is on thirteen year old 
Manal Farris' campaign to raise funds to publish her book about Prophet Yusuf (AS).  Entitled "The Boy in the Well' - The Story of Prophet Joseph", the book aims to share the story of Prophet Yusuf (AS) with teens in a way that is interesting and engrossing and brings home the lessons from his life.

Manal says:

"By helping me raise money to publish this book, you will be part of putting a book out in the world that is both fun to read and beneficial.

You’ll be assisting a future author (me: grinning as I say this) and you’ll get a copy of ‘The boy in the well’ for yourself!"
 





How You Can Help?

Manal is planning to raise £5,000. From that, £3,500 will go to printing 1000 copies of the book, the remaining £1,500 will go towards editing and marketing.  You can donate at Launch Good here.


Picture of the Day 13.04.17 - Orange Bloom

My mum's garden is her pride and joy.  Last year my brother spent a day cutting back all of her rose bushes and the trees quite drastically as with time she is finding it harder to manage the larger plants.

So this year she has much more of a clean slate in terms of planting.  She has planted the first of many flowers last weekend, this one stood out:




I think it is a Marigold but I am not sure - can anyone confirm?

So many of our wonderful memories are from this garden.  From letting off fireworks into my mum's glass green house by accident, to playing with neighbours children, to barbecues, to playing with our children to the annual Eid photo shoot with the whole family.


Insh'Allah I look forward to this year’s blooming of her garden full of flowers.  I hope to sit on the garden swing we bought my mum one year on Mother’s Day and enjoy the sun and colour with my mum, or sisters, or my children insh'Allah.

Picture of the Day 11.04.17 - Taking Time Out

During the last week the children have all been home from school on holidays.  I have been at work and trying to make the most of the part of the day I am home.  So every day, as soon as I come home, I drop my bags, put the baby in the pram and head for the park with the children's friends and the neighbours kids in tow.

We can't usually do this because the children have Quran lessons after school, but this week they have holiday from these too.

I take some reading and grab a snack with the best of intentions.  I usually end up spending the whole hour chasing the baby around the park, pushing the youngest two on the swings and trying to stop both boys from doing anything silly or dangerous (like one-wheelies on bikes, pushing the babies too high on the swings and frightening them or fighting with each other).







On the way home, they get slushies, spicy sweet corn or ice-cream.


It's a nice way to spend some time with them after work, it makes us a little late for dinner and because of this bedtime, but the running around and fresh air also seem to make the little ones very sleepy alhamdulillah and I never tire of seeing some greenery.



Saturday, 8 April 2017

Introducing Inaayah: Beautiful Things for Every Day

Assalam-alaikam,
I have been beavering away for the last few days, working on my new online shop.  It's called Inaayah and I have added the first few products in the Rainbow Watercolor Collection:







Please do take a look. The products in the shop would make some lovely gifts and are all designs I would love to use alhamdulillah.  I will be adding new products in new designs every day insh'Allah. 

The Pinterest page for Inaayah is here.
The Facebook page for Inaayah is here.  

Please do like and share.  I would love to hear your thoughts or if there is a particular product you would like to see or a design that you really love.





Friday, 7 April 2017

Good Deed for Friday: Orphanage and Quran School in Uganda

I hope to publish an irregular blog post on some Fridays, sharing a charitable campaign or a beneficial project that readers can donate to or contribute to in some way.

This week the focus is on Sheikh Faisal Ddungu's campaign to raise funds for the IQRA Children's Education Centre and Quran Memorization Centre and orphanage in Uganda. The school is run by a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening, enhancing enriching student’s interest in science education in general and the Quran in particular. 

Sheikh Ddungu has built a school and orphanage where 45 children have succeeded in becoming Hafiz (memorizing Quran).  The next phase of the campaign seeks to provide an adult literacy classes, a computer lab and a free clinic on the premises.




How You Can Help?

Their latest building project is a new building designed to house over 50 students and orphans. The building, which is approved by the Ugandan Board of Education, will cost over $30,000.  This will include the cost of construction, building materials, beds, desks, chairs, dining hall equipment, and other supplies. 

After this building is built, another building “The IQRA Clinic” will be quickly under way and provide free healthcare to thousands of people in Uganda.

To find out more and donate, you can see the campaign details here.

There is a hadith that says that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said while talking about Friday, “There is a time on it (i.e. Friday) at which Allah grants the request of any Muslim servant who, at this time, happens to be asking Allah for something while standing in Prayer” And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) pointed with his hand to indicate that this period of time is very short. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

I always feel better asking for something, having tried to do something good myself. If you have a little time, please visit the Launch Good page for thisproject and see if you can help.

If you have a charitable or outreach project or campaign that you want to promote, please get in touch via umm_salihah @ yahoo.co.uk







Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:

“The best day on which the sun has risen is Friday; on it Adam was created; on it he was made to enter Paradise; on it he was expelled from it; and the [last] hour (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) will take place on no day other than Friday.” (Muslim)

Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?’ ~ Quran 2:245 

Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allaah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” ~ Quran 2: 261-262

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Allah said: ‘Spend, O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.’” (Bukhaari, 5073; Muslim, 993)

Picture of the Day 05.04.17 - Daisies in Spring

Alhamdulillah, it is an absolute pleasure to see everything blooming around me as the weather gets warmer.  I have already seen some very fat, lazy bumblebees and flowers are starting to push through in my garden.  This picture was just of a patch of land by the roadside, but the abundance of daisies and dandelions made me smile.


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Poor Mum, Rich Mum

As Easter holidays start for my children, the complaints about boredom will start up again. I have been complaining quite a bit too lately and I have become quite self-conscious of my attitude. The kids are at home and we have no plans for holidays. Our last holiday was to Scotland in 2013. Since then I have tried to make up not being able to afford a holiday with days out and finding fun things to do with the children. As they get older it’s harder to placate the children in this way. Little Man tells me lots of the children in his class are going on holiday. Little Lady is sad because her snapchat is full of pictures of her friends having fun on holiday or going shopping or hanging out in cool places (minus parents of course). 

My family in Pakistan keep asking me when I will come to see them, it’s been about eight years since my last visit and I have four sisters-in-law and a little gang of nephews and nieces I have not met. Some of my friends have travelled to Pakistan for the Easter holidays, often via a stop in Dubai or Saudi for umrah. Family members have been either coming or going on their travels and holidays.

I think my poor husband has been hearing a lot of moaning at the moment, about the need for a change, a break or a holiday. Fourteen years of parenting can feel like a long time with no break. We have spent our savings on refurbishing our home and owe money to friends which will be paid back by then end of the year insh’Allah. So no holidays this year. Hubby suggested next year, but I feel like have been hearing next year for a long time. Once in a fit of pique, I told him I don’t want to wait until I am too old to enjoy it to go on holiday. He laughed and told me I won’t be old in a year.

We are also still in the middle of having the ground floor of our home refurbished, everything has been moved to different rooms and piled in corners, my bookshelf has been taped over with black sheets of plastic. Gorgeous’ homework book is trapped inside the bookshelf for the time being with no prospect of coming out soon (this is what he gets for leaving it lying around). We only needed to paint the walls, but on starting work found serious damp in one wall, a few weeks later we found the broken sewage pipe in the garden which was causing the damp. So we are still waiting for the plaster to dry weeks after we decided to paint the room. I cannot entertain, although I have still been trying to take care of guests in between all of the mess. I cannot walk past, set the cushions straight and put books away and feel contentedness at how everything is in its place.


In all, I have been feeling a little dispirited. But when I write these things down and reflect, they are such petty little things. They seem hardly worth getting annoyed about when so much of the world is facing so many serious hardships. It helped to listen to some talks on gratitude (this one by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan and this one by Mufti Menk), as they say, a reminder is always good for the believer.

The talks and also some introspection helped me to change my perspective a little in the last few days. We can look at what we want and cry about what we can’t have, or we can be deeply grateful for all that we have:



I had to take a step back from holidays, debt and moaning children and count my blessings: My beautiful faith, being married to the love of my life, my soul mate and patient best friend. My children, healthy and confident, if champion moaners. Many of my friends fly abroad to see their parents every few years. Mine live five minutes away. The house is a mess, but it is my sanctuary and safe place – because I choose for it to be so. The kids will moan and compare to their friends lives, but I trust that at some point they will see that we have raised them with endless love and the best of intentions and that will count for something with them. I could get paid more at work, but I am enjoying work at the moment and funnily enough, I was offered two opportunities today to apply for higher paid work – one I really liked the look of.

I have gained weight and can’t quite seem to shift it thanks to my love of chocolate and carbs, but I still feel more beautiful than when I was 21 and a size 8 and I have the strength and stamina I have always had, certainly more than anyone else I know alhamdulillah. 

So I am going to stop moaning insh’Allah, stop thinking about holidays, rest, money and small moany people living in my house and count my blessings.  All of the ones I can think of insh’Allah and even those that I cannot and take for granted. We have so much and still it is never enough, so the only thing to do is to be happy with what we have and grateful with whatever comes our way and content for what does not, because in every circumstance there is some benefit for us:

On the authority of Suhaib (may Allah be pleased with him) he said: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him” (Muslim No. 2999)

Product Review: Babylon Tree Pina Colada Solid Shampoo

I have been looking for a decent solid shampoo for some time.  I get very dry hair and find that even baby shampoos dry it out so that it looks like straw and takes lots off serums and oils to calm down again.  In the past I have found that solid shampoo bars are a gentler alternative to shampoo and kinder to my hair.

I came across Babylon Tree on a visit to the Dunton Boot Fair a few weeks ago.  The company had a stall set up dominated by bath bombs and soaps.  I was drawn by the colour and lovely smells and ended up stopping for a minute because of the enthusiasm of the owner.


He showed me the two types of solid shampoo Babylon Tree sell: Pina Colada and Mango.  I decided to try the Pina Colada after seeing that it contained coconut oil.  The kind man on the stall explained that he had made the solid shampoos because customers had requested them, so he had found out how to make them and the best ingredients to use in them. 




The products are alcohol free, and vegan friendly with natural colourings.  The soap comes in thick paper packaging, with a thin plastic wrapper protecting the soap.




On trying the soap, I found that the first thing that you notice is the smell.  The soap smells really good and only on thinking about it did I realise that the smell was pineapple extract.




The soap lathered nicely in my hand but took a bit more work to apply to my hair.  I soaked my hair and rubbed this across my scalp until it worked up into a light lather.  You don’t get the sensation you do with liquid soaps of having squeaky clean hair, but this usually means my hair is going to be coarse and dry.  Instead you get a gentle clean which is very easy to rinse out.

I still followed up with conditioner, but I suspect I might not have needed it after this.  I have used it a few times now and have found that my hair doesn’t dry out, which is a first for me in many years.

I think I would buy this again and try out the Mango variation to see if I like it any better.  This is not the best solid soap I have ever used, but it is definitely one of the better ones and probably top of my list for solid soaps right now.