Thursday 30 April 2020

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 7 - Al-Khair Foundation

Our Ramadan Giving series highlights the amazing work charities are doing and showcases their special Ramadan campaigns, giving us all the opportunity to support, donate and do a little good insh’Allah

Ramadan Giving Day 7: Al-Khair Foundation
Founded in 2003, Al-Khair Foundation strives to tackle and alleviate the suffering of dispossessed people globally. Their projects vary from much needed emergency relief, to education, to seasonal and religious programmes. Al-Khair Foundation also provides a number of brilliant domestic programmes in the UK, such as projects on healthcare support, domestic violence and employability.

Its main campaign at the moment is their COVID-19 Emergency Appeal focussed on both the UK and internationally in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Turkey and the Middle East.

You can find out more about Al-Khair Foundation’s work and impact here and donate here.



O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 7

What smells are you grateful for?
Alhamdulillah all of the good ones?
That’s a bit of a cop out, but there are so many.

The smell of my little girls’ hair after they have had their bath
The smell of food when I am cooking something, and the kids come into the kitchen lured by the smell to check what’s for dinner.
The smell of a new book, when you first open up the pages, actually I quite like the smell of old books too.
The smell of jasmine and rose, always takes me straight back to my wedding.
Cupcakes baking in the oven, filling the whole house with their smell.
Oranges as you cut into the peel, and lemons for that matter, did I mention limes, my favourite?
The air after it has just rained
The smell of the sea, as it hits you before you can even see the water.
Probably my favourite is the smell of my mums shawls when I borrow them for prayer, like washed laundry with the barest hint of perfume, comforting and always make me feel loved and take me straight back to my childhood.
Right now, it’s the smell of coffee, signifying, rest, relief and comfort, a moment to take a breath.


What smells are you grateful for?

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Cupcakes at Last

After about three years of putting up with a dodgy oven that scorched the bottom of everything, we finally replaced our oven. The babies have been pestering me for ages about baking with them and I have been fobbing them off with the dodgy oven excuse.

Now that we had a new oven, I couldn’t make excuses anymore. Until recently we haven’t been able to buy plain or self-raising flour anywhere locally and even eggs were hit and miss. I just happened to find flour on my last shop, so we were good to go.

They wanted icing and sprinkles, I insisted we started simple. I cook a lot, but I am not much of a baker (unlike my sister who is very good). I am also not that crazy for biscuits and cakes but prefer savoury food, so we ended up making plain cupcakes. They got scoffed pretty quick once everyone had completed their fast, while they were still warm and smelled good, fresh from the oven.

I might try something more complicated next, or something I haven’t tried before. I’ll probably be looking for more savoury baking ideas too.

Do you have a favourite recipe or dish that you make in the oven? Anything you would recommend me to try?


Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 6 - Human Relief Foundation

Our Ramadan Giving series highlights the amazing work charities are doing and showcases their special Ramadan campaigns, giving us all the opportunity to support, donate and do a little good insh’Allah

Ramadan Giving Day 6: Human Relief Foundation
Founded in 1991, Human Relief Foundation strives to promote sustainable social and economic development through working with local communities via relief and developmental programmes, empowering and supporting them in building a better life and to develop their own solutions to global problems. Human Relief Foundation works across a number of different countries: Iraq, India, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Kenya and Ghana.

Its current campaigns focus on Syrian refugees, displaced Rohingya and the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

You can find out more about Charity Right’s work and impact here and donate here.

O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 6

What technology are you grateful for?
This question seems more pertinent than ever right now as we are all in lock down with only our tech as a window onto the world.

Previously my answer would have been my laptop, the ability to connect to the world from my home, learn about anything I want to and to share my take on the world. I have always believed it is a privilege to share my life as a Muslim woman and mother and have a voice in the public domain.

In more recent times I would say my phone. There is something of a poison chalice with our phones: too much screen time, time wasting on distractions, trolls and unrealistic comparison on social media and being distracted from real life  But in recent times, my phone has been a lifeline from calling family members to check up, checking work e-mails, the children’s schools sending them homework, Zoom and Facetime calls with family and neighbourhood WhatsApp groups to build community during the coronavirus crisis.

I still have to be careful not to spend too much time or waste a lot of time on my phone, but it’s uses are many right now.

What technology are you grateful for?

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.


Tuesday 28 April 2020

Finding Time to Transform

I have been a fan of Martha Beck’s writing for many years and like to dip in and out of her writing to give me something to think on. This week, I rediscovered my Feedly app in a moment when I wanted something to read and found her latest blog post: Time to Transform. In it she says:

“Wherever you are, use this strange time to notice any place where you’ve been feeling deadened, barren. Find the wild side of yourself, the person you’d be if you lived in the present and did what brought you joy, like an animal. Begin nurturing that part of yourself. Listen to it. Be kind to it.”

I thought there was a lot of wisdom in what she was saying about slowing down and checking in to see what you are feeling. I like what she said about living in the present and finding your wild side, it reminds me of my youngest, my little Wildling.

Then I got to thinking about my busy day and the routine I have fallen into, almost like a river running through a course, not veering, but following it’s natural, unstoppable flow – work and home school, lunch, prayers, work, nap, prayers, food prep and iftar, blogging and coffee, prayers, sleep, iftar and prayers and repeat. From one thing to the next, finding quieter, slower moments when I can, but always with an eye on the next thing and mindful of the needs of everyone around me being met.

With such indelibly marked out days, where do we build in the time for reflection and transformation? That too in a month of reflection and positive transformation, at a time when we have been forced to stay in a kind of seclusion. I don’t have an answer, but it has given me something to think about and the inspiration to find quite moments to journal, be still and listen inwards.


Dreary Days

We have had some beautiful sunny days recently and watching the world blossom and turn green has been an absolute pleasure. Today was the first day in a while when we had a full day of grey skies and rain.

Usually I love rain and it doesn’t stop me going out or I enjoy watching it from my window.  If nothing else I was glad to see my plants being watered. When it started this morning, I went out to rescue my seed trays from being drowned and then shivered in the garden for a few minutes enjoying the rain.






As the day wore on a mixture of being busy with work and children, being stuck indoors and the grey weather started to drive me slightly mad, by about 4pm when I logged off and went to take a  nap it had me feeling down.

It helped to remember that dua (prayers) made during rain are accepted. Mostly it helped to get some much needed sleep and wake up prep leftovers for iftar instead of cooking.




Anas Bin Malik (RA) reported “Whilst we were with the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) rain fell upon us. The Messenger then exposed part of his garment so that rain fell on his body. When we asked him why he did so, he replied “Because it has just come from the Exalted Lord” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said “Two will not be rejected. The Duaa after the Adhan and the Duaa under the rain”. (Al-Hakim, Sahih)

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 5 - Charity Right

Our Ramadan Giving series highlights the amazing work charities are doing and showcases their special Ramadan campaigns, giving us all the opportunity to support, donate and do a little good insh’Allah

Ramadan Giving Day 5: Charity Right  
Charity Right strives to fight hunger, one meal at a time. They ensure that regular food is available to schools and families from some of the world’s most vulnerable, forgotten and isolated communities. Charity Right also offers emergency relief by distributing food to the communities affected. They work in a number of countries across a variety of continents trying to eradicate hunger including Bangladesh, Greece, Indonesia, Somalia and more.

Its current campaigns include for an emergency family food pack and to provide cooked meals to orphanages and madrasah’s.

You can find out more about Charity Right’s work and impact here and donate here.



O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 5

What about your body are you especially grateful for?
I like this prompt, we spend so much time picking fault, seeing our imperfections and feeling self-conscious, that we forget what beautiful, useful, rewarding creations our bodies can be. When I was a size six with clear skin, I would still see faults. Now twenty years later, bigger, slightly more weather worn, I no longer find fault or look at what needs improvement.

I have learned to love my body and be grateful for how it has served me: bearing children, comforting and holding those around me, in worship and working hard every day. The thing I am most grateful for about my body is that it has held up and served me despite my love of foods that are not the best for it and my inability to rest properly.

In the last few years, this has been more of a focus for me, to eat better, to rest properly, to treat my body with better care and give it the chance to be well and strong for longer insh’Allah.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you”. (Hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari)

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.

What about your body are you especially grateful for?

Monday 27 April 2020

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Kareem Banner in Soft Colours

It took me until about day three of Ramadan, but I finally got some time to do some decorations with my youngest two. We took ages to choose the colour and paper we wanted to use and then couldn’t find enough of one colour of ribbon.

The paper is from a very pretty stack from The Works called Pretty Mystery (currently sold out, but they have some lovely paper pads at a fraction of the price of anywhere else, and this one is similar).



The silver letters are super easy to use and are from B&M.


The minaret and silver stars are from a very old set of Eid Mubarak peel offs.



This time around, I decided to go for a small postcard size picture rather than my usual frame – easier to make and display as well as store. I think I can see myself doing more pictures and collages of this size.












We quite liked the finished result and I am already thinking about eid decorations and what else I can create in that small size.

Did you put up decorations this year? Did you make or buy any you really like?

For the latest updates and  stories (including what we get up to during our days and whats cooking for iftar) please do follow me on my Instagram account and Insta-stories. 

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 4 - Muslim Aid

Our Ramadan Giving series highlights the amazing work charities are doing and showcases their special Ramadan campaigns, giving us all the opportunity to support, donate and do a little good insh’Allah

Ramadan Giving Day 4: Muslim Aid
Muslim Aid was founded in 1985 in response to famine in Ethiopia and was the result of a number of groups including the Muslim Council of Britain coming together. It subsequently worked in Palestine, Bosnia and Bangladesh. It now works in over 70 countries. The charity has worked alongside UNICEF and WHO as part of their disaster response and is a signatory to the Make Poverty History Campaign

Its current campaigns include its Coronavirus Emergency response, Feed the Fasting project and global Water for All project which delivers in Gaza, Yemen and Somalia.

You can find out more about Muslim Aid’s work and impact here and donate here.



O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 4

Which skill are you grateful for?
This question feels strange to me because it’s one I’ve never really thought about.
There are a couple of things that come to mind:
Cooking – because I love food and I love feeding others
Reading - books have been my saviour, my passion and my escape, if I couldn’t read and enjoy books, I wouldn’t be the person I am.
Writing – when I look back at my early blog posts I am surprised at how much has changed, but writing regularly has helped me to improve my writing but also given me a way to work through my thoughts and reach out to others.

My favourite is the skill of being able to absorb ideas and information – my job requires me to do this and then get creative with what I am learning. I love that I am always learning. Insh’Allah I hope this September to enrol for my Masters degree, if Allah wills this for me (a dream for almost 20 years).

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.

Which skill are you grateful for?



Sunday 26 April 2020

Recognising Your Power

I have been following Dr Shefali Tsabary for about a year now and her words of wisdom has really helped me get through the tough teenage years with my children. She made me think about how much of the friction between my oldest and I was about her behaviour and how much was about my interpretation of it. If nothing else, it made me slow down, take a long look at myself, my own childhood and my daughters needs. It reminded me to keep going back to love and kindness in my parenting.

I came across the quote below on Dr Shefali’s Instagram page:

“If only you realized how much power you have in your thoughts, you would never squander a single one on worry or regret."

The quote is one I want to hold on to. I believe that guilt has its role in helping us to steer away from things that are wrong and harm our soul. But I think we let guilt overwhelm us and we let regret hold us in our past for too long.

After half a lifetime of self-doubt, waiting for permission and being scared to take big steps, I came to the firm belief hat we can do anything we set our minds and effort to. This is why this quote speaks to me so strongly. How much could we achieve in our lifetimes if we set aside doubt and fear and embraced self-belief?

I have a big dream for this year, scary enough that I don’t want to articulate it yet. I have spoken to a few friends and I have started to lay the foundations. I have no idea where this kernel of inspiration will take me, but I step forward with self-believe, a desire to serve and good intentions insh’Allah. I am curious to see where this journey takes me.

Do you have a big dream or plan you are working on you want to share? Is there a quote or a person hat really inspires you?



Coaching, Classes, Discussions and More

One of the interesting things that has come out of lockdown and also Ramadan during lockdown, is the sheer amount of online and interactive training, courses, lectures, classes and coaching opportunities I am coming across.

I have joined a daily tafseer (Quran explanation) class with my local masjid, I have been joining random Zoom Islamic classes via Twitter and YouTube as I get notifications and getting fascinated by all sorts of things. One of the WhatsApp groups I am part of run a regular group coaching discussion, called Sisters Seeking Salam, it gives support and inspiration to so many women. You can find recordings of their sessions on YouTube here.

Another member of the group, is Mary Panwaskar, a transformational coach who has offered regular coaching sessions to women. Out of curiosity I joined her last session and found her welcoming, warm and wise. We talked about structuring our days, building effective routines and work patterns that are best for our wellbeing. She worked with me through a breathing exercise that helped after a really stressful work day and we reflected on receiving love and letting go of baggage. She is planning to do 2-3 calls a week so if you are interested, contact her through her website and find out about how you can jump on to a call, I am really, really looking forward to the next one.

Finally, I somehow ended up today on a YouTube live session today during the time I spend cooking for iftar in the evening. I listened and found myself captivated by an explanation of hadith and how it was collected. It turned out to be the first session of a series of weekly classes called Holding Fast by Mariam Sheibani for Cambridge Islamic College. She explains the subject so well and has me captivated, I look forward to more.

Have you joined any classes or tried anything new during lockdown?




Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 3 - Muslim Hands

Our Ramadan Giving series highlights the amazing work charities are doing and showcases their special Ramadan campaigns, giving us all the opportunity to support, donate and do a little good insh’Allah

Ramadan Giving Day 3: Muslim Hands  
I remember Muslim Hands from the early days, coming to our local masjid and working with worshippers at a grass roots level to raise funds. This is one charity my family has always supported and thought highly of.

Founded in 1993 in Nottingham in response to the devastation of the Bosnian war, it now operates in 40 countries. The charity responds to major emergencies, as well as establishing long term projects such as schools, healthcare clinics and livelihood programmes worldwide.

Muslim Hands top appeals for Ramadan are currently its Coronavirus Appeal, Yemen Emergency Appeal and its Syria Crisis response. They also have a Best 10 Night campaign which allows you to schedule your giving over the precious last nights of Ramadan.

You can find out more about Muslim Hands work and impact, and donate via the links above.

O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 3

What moment today or recently are you most grateful for?
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have a big impact on you. There are two moments in the last two days that I am grateful for.

The first was yesterday when I asked the older children for help. I offered three tasks: laundry, dishes and cooking help and hoovering. They picked one each and got on with them without argument or (much) complaint, Gorgeous did have to remind me he always gets stuck doing the worst jobs 😊

After days of bouncing off one another and squabbling, it looks like Ramadan is having a positive affect on them.

The second moment of course is the moments before and after opening our fast. The time to make dua as we take a date, even if the babies are still interrupting and asking questions. The moments after when a sip of water tastes feels so good and everything taste so good.

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.

What moment today or recently are you most grateful for?

Abu Huraira and Abu Sa'id (radhiallahu‘anhuma) reported Allah's Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  (as saying): Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, said: Fast (is exclusively) meant for Me and I would give its reward. There are two (occasions) of joy for the observer of fast. He feels joy when he breaks the fast and he is happy when he meets Allah. (Muslim Book 35, Number 2568)


Saturday 25 April 2020

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 2 - Islamic Relief

Our Ramadan Giving series highlights the amazing work charities are doing and showcases their special Ramadan campaigns, giving us all the opportunity to support, donate and do a little good insh’Allah

Ramadan Giving Day 2: Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief is an international aid agency that provides humanitarian relief and development programmes in over 30 countries, serving communities in need regardless of race, political affiliation, gender or belief. Founded in 1984 in the UK, it now works across 50 countries.

Islamic Relief were the first Muslim charity to join the UK’s Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC) and has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Currently, the charities main campaign is focussed on one of the most vulnerable groups of people: refugees and displaced:

“In the midst of conflict in Syria, refugee families were already lacking shelter, food and medical equipment. Because of the outbreak of Coronavirus, their struggles are increasing.

Getting critical access to food and hygiene is incredibly challenging at this time. Especially for vulnerable communities – including displaced families in Myanmar, people in Yemen and for those recovering from the effects of natural disaster across Africa and Asia”

You can find out more about Islamic Relief’s work and impact, and donate here.



O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Gratitude Journal Day 2

Who in your life are you grateful for?
It would be easier to ask who I am not grateful for. I believe that everyone that comes into our life, helpful or harmful, does so for a reason. They either give us comfort, or they force us to grow in some way.

I am grateful for my beloved Prophet, who has guided us and sacrificed for us.
I am grateful for my parents who are like shade on a hot day, their dua’s priceless
I am grateful for my husband, my patient, kind rock and the love of my love
I am grateful for my children, my purpose, forcing me to grow and become a better person.
I am grateful for my sisters, my tribe, source of laughter and strength
I am grateful for my bestie, who has always made me feel so valued

I am grateful for those that have hurt me, insulted me or were ever unkind. These people forced me to grow a thick skin, work through my insecurities and find the fierce woman within.

The ones I still struggle with are those that are ever unkind or unfair, but I have to maintain ties for the sake of Allah (SWT)’s command (relatives that can’t play nice basically). I’ll have to reflect on what I can find to be grateful for regarding this special group. Perhaps that Allah (SWT) rewards us for maintaining ties, even when some people might not make it easy (like Aunty’s who like to ask me why I’ve gained weight ).

“Surely all believers are brothers. So make peace between brothers and fear Allah that mercy may be shown to you.” ~ Quran 49: 10.

Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu‘anh) narrated that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be hospitable to his guest, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should maintain his kinship ties; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak well or remain silent.”(Al-Bukhari)

Alhamdulillah for all of it, life is beautiful because of the people Allah (SWT) surrounds us with.

You can find the original Ramadan Gratitude journal challenge here and my take on it here.

Who in your life are you grateful for?


Friday 24 April 2020

Ramadan 2020/1441: Ramadan Giving Day 1 - National Zakat Foundation

One of the best parts of Ramadan is the sheer amount of money that goes out in zakat (alms) and sadaqah (charity) for the benefit of others. The reward of Ramadan is so great, that even if we can give a small amount, it is the equivalent of giving much more.

The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed which grows seven spikes, in each spike is a hundred grains. Allah multiplies His reward for whom He wills, for Allah is vast and knowing ~ Quran 2:261

Ramadan Giving Day 1: National Zakat Foundation
National Zakat Foundation is a charity I have been a fan of since its inception. Meeting the need that is nearest to you, but often hidden away. NZF were also central to the Grenfell disaster response and becoming part of the Grenfell Muslim Response Unit (GMRU).

NZF say: There are thousands of Muslims across the country who can and should be giving Zakat, but not all Muslims know there’s a need to give it where they live. Many Muslims in the UK are struggling with poverty and being held back from reaching their potential. Almost half of all Muslims in the UK are living in poverty. That’s more than twice the national average of 20%.

You can find out more about NZF’s work and impact, and donate here.


O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you ~ Quran 2:254

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most generous person, and he used to become more so (generous) particularly in the month of Ramadan…more generous than the fast wind in doing good” (Bukhari).