Thursday 22 June 2017

Free Eid Printables in Two Colourways

I enjoy designing and making my own Eid printables and last year I shared them in PDF format so that people could print off and make their own.  This year I created the decorations in two colour schemes: blues-green and pink.

Simply click on the link below each image to get to the PDF which you can print, assemble and embellish as you wish.  If you do make them, I'd love to hear how they looked insh'Allah.

Blue Green Eid Mubarak Print (PDF to print here).  I like to embellish these with gems and put them into a frame from the £-shop.

Blue Green Eid Mubarak and Happy Eid Banner (PDF here).  Cut out and attach to ribbon to create a banner.  The eight-pointed stars are at the beginning and end of the banner an in between words.

Blue Green Eid Sweets Banner (PDF here), perfect for a dessert table.  Stars at both ends of the banner and in between the two words, two extra stars to use as you wish.

Blue Green Eid Mubarak Labels (PDF here) for use on gifts, sweet jars or in whichever way you can think of.

Pink Eid Mubarak Print (PDF here)

Pink Eid Mubarak and Happy Eid Banner (PDF here).

Pink Eid Sweets Banner (PDF here).

Pink Eid Mubarak Labels (PDF here)

I will be assembling mine soon and will post pictures of what they look like insh'Allah. 

Edit: pics of the assembled banners and prints below:

Ramadan Journal 2017: Days 13 – 20

Day 13 - Beauty

When I think of beauty, I am reminded that I do not notice it enough in my life and that I should stop and see the beauty in the ordinary and every day and take the time to revel in it:

My baby’s faces
The way small kindnesses from my husband make me feel
The sound of the Quran being recited exceptionally well,
The taste of Pakistani mangoes that are in season now (I don’t think I can ever get enough!)
How I feel after calling my mum
A fresh clean page on my new notebook

Day 14 – Noon

My parents are such sticklers for time: breakfast at 8am, lunch at 12pm, dinner at 7pm.  There are times to go visiting (away from a meal time unless invited) and a time after which you should avoid calling someone’s house (9pm).  My in-laws are quite the opposite, with meal times and bed times being moved around.  Guests are welcomed at any time and no time is bad for visiting when it comes to old friends and favourite relatives.

I have tended to hold onto some of my parents routines but in a more flexible way to fit in with my husband and in-laws way of doing things which I find fun.  I start my day very early, so noon time for me is lunch time, everything else gets moved around, but this stays constant.

In Ramadan I lose any sense of noon time.  The days are organised around the dawn and evening meals (suhoor and iftar) or around salah (prayer) times.  Now that I don’t eat during the day, I have an hour extra to be productive and there is a long stretch before it is time for Zoher, the afternoon prayer, which I rather like.

Day 15 – Laugh

I would as I am quick to laugh and joke, but being hungry makes me quieter and more reflective I find.  The exception is the cheeky things that the baby’s say, they never fail to make me smile.

Day 16 – Mood

Its 2am, I get up to make suhoor for my family and try to wake the older two children up by pulling them out of bed and growling at them.  I feel sorry for anyone that has to look at my face at that time.  I must look like I am in an awful mood.  I am not.  I am just trying very hard not to fall straight over.

Day 17 – Blue

I don’t usually ask for things, if someone gives me something I am happy, even if it’s not what I wanted, I believe in accepting gifts with grace. So when I saw something I wanted and asked hubby if he wanted to gift it to me for Eid, I think he was happy not to have to try and guess what I might like.  This is what I chose: 

Ok, so it is a bit more green than blue, I can’t help it, I m crazy about the colour green.

Or there is this:

The colour scheme for my decorations this Eid, I will be posting links to a set of Eid decorations in two colour schemes for people to print of and use soon insh’Allah

Day 18 – Note

I recently bought myself a new note book and set it up to capture my to-do lists and ideas.  I have been collating all of the scraps of paper, pages in different books and in my Filofax and saving them into one place – very satisfying alhamdulillah.

Day 19 – Abstract

This prompt just went over my head and left me stumped.  I don’t have any brain space left for anything more complicated than sorting laundry or simple recipes.  My brain and body seem to be on a bit of a go-slow unfortunately.  I’m not sure if it’s the effects of the last days of fasting and sleep deprivation, the heat, or a general slowing down I have been experiencing recently.  I’ll wait and see after Ramadan if I still feel like I am moving through treacle.

Day 20 – New

New clothes for the children, gifts for family and cleaning and organising the house from top to bottom, seems like my thoughts are starting to turn to Eid.  I will try and make the most of the last asharah (third) of Ramadan as it is going so quickly insh’Allah.  I used to have all of my Eid preparations done before Ramadan, but for the past few years, particularly since the arrival of my youngest child I have been less organised, so insh’Allah in between fasting, worship and trying to catch up on my sleep, I better get my Eid shopping done.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Ramadan Retreat

I spent the last weekend away from home with a ladies tablighi jamaat group. Tablighi jamaat advocate taking time away from your day to day business and spending time in worship and dawah (sharing Islam). They encourage you to start with improving yourself and stepping up your amal (good deeds) and then sharing what you learn wider. They are big on simplicity and making personal sacrifices as a way to get closer to Allah (SWT).

I have been for 3 days and 16 days before, but not for many years as my youngest two children were too young to leave behind. I know not everyone will agree with the approach of Tablighi jamaat and that is fine. I believe in respecting the different paths we take in our deen (faith), but for me it has been immensely life changing in so many ways.

When I left this time I was rushed and harried. Cooking food to take with me and making sure there was plenty left behind. Packing, getting the weekend laundry and chores out of the way before I left and making sure the kids were okay, always with one eye on the clock. Once I was finally out of the door I felt a surge of relief. I have been juggling all of the different aspects of being a Muslimah, mum and working mother with no break for a long time and leading up to this weekend I was beginning to feel quite sad and frustrated that I could not make as much time for ibadah (worship) as I wanted to. I was falling behind on my Quran reading, I was getting too tired to spend as long in the night prayer as I wanted and come iftar time, I was struggling to get the children settled down enough to make dua in peace.

We ended up not travelling too far. My husband stayed with the men in a house close to the masjid, usually they will stay in the masjid, but this masjid doesn’t allow jamaat groups to stay. The women stayed in another house. Alhamdulillah, I have stayed in various homes as part of this process and invariably the hostesses have been generous and gracious. This time was no exception. The lady of the house had a gentle, very sweet way about her and her children were very well behaved mash’Allah.

Once we had settled down the three days feel into a familiar routine that the ladies group in Tablighi jamaat tends to follow. There is a short visit from the men to do a small talk on a topic, usually explaining the thinking behind some activity of the ladies jamaat (i.e. taking care of the hosts, how we should spend our time while we are there etc.).

This is followed by the two hours in the morning of halaqa, or study circle. This takes the form of reading through books like Fazail-e-Amal, practising our Quran tajweed (pronunciation), memorisation of short surah’s from the Quran, reviewing the way we pray salah and making sure we know the fard (compulsory) and sunnah parts of salah, and memorising hadith.

After a break for midday prayers, we spend time in praying Quran, engaging in Dhikr and resting. Part of the purpose of the three days away is to try and implement as much of the sunnah (traditions of our beloved Prophet sallahu alahi wasallam) in everything we do so that the sunnah is brought to life and becomes part of our day to day life. This includes the qaylulah, or sunnah afternoon nap. Taking the nap allows us to spend a longer portion of the night in prayer.

The men return in the late afternoon for a lecture which women in the neighbourhood have been invited to. The men will sit in a separate room and speak through a sound system. The lectures usually focus on the key themes of building and strengthening our iman (faith), implementing the sunnah, prioritising our salah, gaining knowledge, fulfilling the rights of others, sincerity and correcting our intentions and the importance of dawah work.

Following the lecture there is time for our personal “amal” or religious activities, which usually including reading the Quran, making dhikr and sitting with the women who have come to visit.

I took plenty of food with me, but we found the ladies in the neighbourhood brought so much food during the time we were there that we couldn’t even fit it all in the fridge and were sending some of it to the masjid. Alhamdulillah, I have always found that the Muslim women I come across are very generous in sharing food with others.

Once we opened fast and cleared away the food, we prepared for our night prayers and the taraweeh prayers as well as the bedtime sunaan. One of the things I love about going out with jamaat is the focus on the sunnah. When we eat, we sit, eat and drink in the sunnah way, usually a sister will be tasked to run through all of the sunnan related to eating and drinking. The same for when we prepare to sleep and for many other activities. I was able to pray the night prayers with concentration and devotion and in a better way than I have been able to for many years. I also had time to pray all of my nawafil (non-obligatory) prayers. These are the prayers that bring you close to Allah (SWT) and these are the ones that I neglect in the noise and rush of life at home.

Most pleasurable of all for me, I had the time and focus to make dua (supplication) to my heart’s content – for my every desire, wish and need, from the smallest to the largest with confidence and trust in Allah’s (SWT) generosity during this blessed month.

Alhamdulillah, there were six ladies in the house as well as the host’s children, and the time flew by in friendship, kind words and with consideration towards each other. When it was time to leave, I felt sad to be leaving my friends and the lovely host and the peacefulness and sense of satisfaction that the three days had brought me.

One of the sisters came home with me to share iftar. Almost as soon as I got home, the tempo of my day changed with complaints from the kids and their grandmother, nappies to change, groceries to grab and an iftar to prepare at lightning speed. I found myself getting irritated and stressed and had to take a step back and try and hold onto my experience of the previous few days.

Insh’Allah there are some things that have stayed with me and that I want to hold on to, mostly I have been able to since I came back home:

Praying my nawafil (non-obligatory) salah as well as my fard and sunnah prayers.

Reading as much Quran during the day as I can and trying to memorise short parts of it, also listening to tafseer (explanation of the Quran), particularly in Urdu, which I find has a more powerful impact than in English.

Implementing simplicity into my life as far as I can, including in the home, our clothes and our food insh’Allah.

Having the daily study circle with the children, whether of tafseer, the sunnah or books like Fazail-e-Amal. Also, getting the children to take turns to recite Quran to us to encourage them to improve their recitation insh’Allah (one of the young girls in the house we visited had a beautiful recitation and we enjoyed listening to her)

Insh’Allah, I hope to go one more time whilst my mother-in-law is here.  Certainly going during Ramadan has made me feel as if I have made the most of this Ramadan so far already.

And there has to be a group of people from among you who call towards good and prevent from evil.  (Quran 3:104)

Invite (people) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good counsel. (Quran 16:125)

Thursday 8 June 2017

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 12 - Fail

When I think ahead to the routine in the evenings during Ramadan, it all seems so positive: feeding and putting the babies to bed early, catching up with my Ramadan reading, spending a little time in the kitchen before sitting down with my family to make intense and lengthy dua (supplication), before opening the fast peacefully and enjoying my meal.

Clearly I forget the chaos that happened the year before. The babies eat early, and then join us again for iftar, or better still, today refused to eat their food because they want to eat iftar – two hours before iftar time. I spend way too long in the kitchen and the older kids keep sneaking onto the computer the minute I turn my back and then promptly all turn deaf. I manage to drag them off about half an hour before to do a short taleem (study circle), which is currently reading daily from Virtues of Ramadan (from Fazail-e-Amal or Virtues of Deeds by Muhammad Zakariya Kandhelwi). The kids will take turns to loudly tell each other to be quiet before one of them starts to read in English and I translate into Urdu for mum-in-law. Darling will sit quietly sucking her thumb, but Baby insists on singing and jumping on sofas throughout.

As soon as they finish they will try to head back to the computer and get warned to stay off of it. I ask them to sit and make dhikr (remembrance of Allah (SWT)) and make dua for whatever they need as the time when we break fast is considered to be a time when supplications are answered:

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) it is related that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “There are three people whose dua is not rejected; the fasting person until he breaks the fast, the just ruler, and the oppressed person, whose dua Allah lifts above the clouds and opens unto it the doors of Jannah, and Allah says: “I swear by My Honour, verily I shall assist you, even though it may be after some time.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

Instead they start squabbling, trying to convince me to make chips and nuggets at the last minute or wander off. All of this I can deal with, it’s only when it comes to breaking the fast and I am trying to make dua and everyone starts trying to talk to me, arguing over who got how many nuggets and the babies start clamouring for food. It’s only then that I start to get annoyed. A few days ago I asked them to please allow me to make dua quietly for a few minutes. I told them they were not allowed to talk to me for a few minutes and I asked the babies to wait a few minutes for their food.

Today they all starting talking to me at once and arguing over the chicken wings someone dropped off for them. The babies starting waving their plates at me because the other children had started eating. I got very cross. I shouted at the kids, quite a bit. My mother-in-law looked entirely unimpressed but decided to ignore the yelling. I felt absolutely awful. Ramadan is a time when you are supposed to try and control your temper, let alone right before you are due to break your fast and when you should be making dhikr and dua.

I think this is known as a parenting fail. I didn’t feel like eating much after that, feeling embarrassed and a bit ashamed for blowing my top like that. I am away for a few days without the kids this weekend. I am going to relish opening my fast quietly and making lengthy dua for two days. Then insh’Allah when I come back, I will remind everyone about some basic ground rules about computers, arguing at meals, talking to me when I am making dua and cheeky babies trying to gate-crash iftar.

My youngest and cheekiest trying to help in the kitchen

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 11 - Quote

One of the most beautiful, hope inspiring and encouraging quotes (or hadith) from the beloved Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) on Ramadan is:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarrelling and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hands my soul is’ The unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting.” (Bukhari - 31:128)

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 10 - On My Table

This weekend I was feeling a little tired, frazzled and unappreciated.  I had been waking up at 1.50am to make breakfast for my family and then sleeping for a few hours before getting up for work.  I had been returning from work to sleep for an hour then grabbing groceries, cooking, praying and having our daily taleem (study circle) just before iftar.  After iftar and evening prayers I was back in the kitchen making fresh chapatti's for hubby and mum-in-law and putting his tea on so he can stay awake through the taraweeh prayer.  I was getting annoyed at how long I was spending in the kitchen and how little time seemed to be spent on prayer and reading Quran.

My mum came to see me on Saturday because I had not had the chance to go and see her.  On talking to her I realised how tired she was and how much her knees hurt, yet she still tried to carry on gracefully with looking after my dad and making iftar for whichever of us siblings went to see her.  This prompted me to invite her to mine for iftar along with my siblings who were all visiting as it was the weekend.

I was already tired, so I decided I would do things differently.  No lavish feasts with all day in the kitchen - I was going to pull out whatever I could find in the freezer to fry or bake and make fresh salad and fruit salad to go with it.  I also asked my sisters for help, which they gladly offered.

In the end I made chicken and potato spring rolls, potato samosa's and chicken pasties from my freezer.  I set out medjool dates and the date and nut slices I had already made at the beginning of Ramadan. I made fresh fruit salad, avocado salad and a sweet and savoury dish called meethi dahi phulki's (dumplings in sweet yoghurt - which is a lot tastier than it sounds).  My sisters helped with the fresh dishes

For the main meal used the curry I had made that morning (bitter gourd and lamb) and made chappati's and served with kebabs from the freezer, which my sister-in-law added chopped onions, bell peppers and tomatoes to.

I ended up spending the same time in the kitchen as I would have done if I had been making iftar for just those in my household.  But I had such a good time breaking bread with my family that it cheered me up no end.

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 9 - Favourite

I love the ayah of the Quran and the hadith (sayings of the beloved Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam) that announce the benefits and virtues of Ramadan, but my favourite is the hadith that announces the coming of Ramadan:

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) addressed his companions on the last day of Sha`ban, saying, "Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all." (Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah).

Alhamdulillah, this hadith is full of so much good news and so inspiring for those that are fasting.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 8 - Read

I have quite a lot of reading and book reviews to catch up on, but during Ramadan I tend to drop all of these in favour of reading the Quran.  This year I am starting to fall behind with work, housework, meal preparation and trying to catch up on sleep taking over my life.  I am hoping to catch up on my days off insh'Allah.

One thing has been different this year, I have always wanted to read the Quran in the original Arabic and understand what I am reading, but this year the yearning has grown into a keen desire to learn insh'Allah.  A few years ago I did the Arabic throught the Quran course for sisters and loved it.  I dropped out midway when I returned to work (I was on maternity leave when I started), but it means I recognise some words and phrases as I read the Quran and it is so gratifying alhamdulillah.

I make dua that I can gain some insight into the wisdom and the miracles of the Quran and that it benefits me and my children insh'Allah.

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 7 - Throwback

I wrote for last years Ramadan Challenge on the theme of "throwback" about my favourite iftar.  So instead what comes to mind is the years where I had iftar at my mums.  My mum is a wonderful cook and two of her best dishes are these tasty mince samosa's and very soft grilled lamb kebabs:

She used to fill a hot pot with food and then at iftar time make our plates for us, probably to stop us from grabbing more than our share.  As a child my brother once declared he didn't see the point of fasting if mum didn't make her samosas.  One year she decided she had enough and wasn't going to make them, her excuse was that there was no space in the freezer to store them.  We all pitched in towards a new deep freezer and had it installed in her cellar (basement), she happily made them that year.

This year I have been avoiding fried food, but one day last week Shutterbug was despatched to my home with a box of mum’s samosas.  I enjoyed them for once guilt-free and without a second thought to whether anyone else got one or not.

Saturday 3 June 2017

Ramadan Journal 2017: Day 6 - Today

I have been thinking about exercise during Ramadan but find myself getting tired and worry about getting thirsty. Once the fast is open, I find myself busy with clearing the kitchen, the babies’ bedtime routine and taraweeh, often with very little time in between.  So when friends suggested a walk at lunchtime, I was up for the idea.

We ended up taking a scenic route and going a lot further than planned.  It was a lovely sunny day and I took pictures as I went to my friend’s bemusement:

I thought this poppy was a lovely colour

I still haven't got round to riding the cable cars.

I saw this flower left on the middle of a bridge.

The view of the city from the bridge 

Sailboats on the docks.

It ended up being a lovely walk, except the last leg back to the office suddenly felt very hard and I felt very tired. I ended up with the pleasant achey feeling in my legs that you get when you know you have had a good workout (I think we walked about 3 miles in total). The only problem is that compounded with standing in the kitchen, housework and probably not eating enough my legs were really aching by the time it came to taraweeh prayers, which is what I was trying to avoid.  I would still love to do the walk every day though.

Thursday 1 June 2017

Pink Lemonade Recipe

I originally got this recipe from one of Little Lady's old books called Cookbook for Girls by Denise Smart.  Darling loves to look through it and tell me which cakes she would like me to make for her.  It had gotten a little battered and I was wondering if I should give it away, but thumbing through it I realised it had some nice, easy recipes that I wouldn’t mind trying.  This version of the recipe is my variation after trying and amending the original.  The drink is easy to make and experiment with and only takes about 15 minutes to make.

Juice of 2 fresh lemons
100g caster sugar
600ml (1 pint) boiling water
200ml (7 oz) water chilled
200ml (7 oz) water diluted with Vimto

The original recipe had the juice and also the zest of 4 lemons added into the boiling water, but I found the result too sour for my family’s liking, two lemons balances better with the sugar to make the drink a little more palatable.

Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar and lemon juice.  Remove from heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Strain into a serving jug, sieving out the zest and any pulp or seeds that have slipped in.
Pour in the chilled water and the water diluted with Vimto and place in the fridge to chill.

The original recipe used cranberry juice in place of the Vimto, which I am yet to try, but which sounds like a nice alternative.  Cherry cordial also has a strong colouring effect, so a few drops of that would also probably give a nice colour.

I refrigerated the leftover lemonade and it was fine the next day.  I also used it to add a bit of taste and colour to my fruit smoothie and to thin it out a little.