America, Islam, January Blogathon, life lessons

Day 10 – Mimic

Why do I find doing dishes so therapeutic? It gives me a chance to think.

Oh

My

God.

AM I TURNING IN TO MY MOTHER?

I find that as the days pass I can see so much of my mother in me. This is something I never expected to happen. I mean, my mother is a wonderful woman, bless her heart and I love her beyond words and everything but I never saw myself turning in to her!

I guess the older we grow, the more we mimic our parents. Especially the things we swore as a teenager to never be. Well, we have come a full circle now, haven’t we.

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America, faith, Food, Islam, life, life lessons

Put that samosa down! It’s Ramadan!!

Ramadan Kareem, everyone! This year is going to be my first Ramadan away from home, in a different country with a fifteen hour fasting time. This will also be my first year making **iftar and preparing for *suhoor, and I’m already starting to appreciate my mother for all the years she cooked it for me. I now realize it’s a hard thing to strike  balance between your spiritual side and well, keeping house. I try to “keep” my house decent enough. It gets messy every few days and I do get lazy but I try to get by.

I know I will miss home terribly during Ramadan but I don’t want to admit it. I will miss the food and the bit of forced friendliness that Ramadan injects, both in society and family. We have suhoor together and break iftaar as a family. I will miss my annual iftar potluck with my girls (especially the one year where we went a bit wild, you know the one I’m talking about, ***Kuki). I will miss all the tiny traditions that I’ve done subconsciously. I only hope to continue with them and hopefully, create new traditions.

I will miss planning my Eid outfit. But that’s cause I already planned it in super advance this year.

Oh, I will also miss the samosas. Mmm.. samosas.

Have a blessed Ramadan, people. I pray we all come out of it as satisfied and better people.

*suhoor : Meal had at sunrise during Ramadan (fasting) time.

**iftar : Meal had at sunset during Ramadan (fasing) time.

*** Kuki : My stalker. I would named you the other thing but I don’t want people who read my blog to think I’m a pervert. Also, hi.

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faith, Food, Islam, life, life lessons, Uncategorized

BIRIYANI. Now do I have your attention?

Eid. Always synonymous with biriyani, to me, Eid equals new dress. It doesn’t matter if I get a new dress every single day of the year, the Eid dress is the most important and should kick all other dress’ ass. This year I found the perfect dress. But then again, I intend on finding the perfect dress every year.So all the duties on Eid have been done; wear new dress – check, go for Eid prayer – check, collect Eidi from unsuspecting adults – check, get shouted at by mother for not helping – check, stuff face with biriyani – check, distribute biriyani to friends like an MLA collecting votes – check.

Once all the duties have been done, regular programming resumes. It doesn’t matter that we fasted for thirty days and controlled our nafs (desires) ’cause the next day our body wants three meals a day plus snacks. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a good portion of Ramadan revolves around food. Either making, eating or distributing food. Ramadan teaches you to respect food and not sneer at it if it is something you dislike. It teaches you to make do with what is available when you wake up late for suhoor. The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) taught us to never say anything bad about the food even if you don’t like it. Waking up late for suhoor to eat the leftovers is a very humbling experience. It makes you think of all those who do not have a morsel to eat and have to keep suhoor with just a date or a sip of water whilst we waste plates of food. So the next time you fuss about how you don’t like a single dish on the table just spare a thought for those whom even three meals a day is a luxury.

We need to remember that every single blessing that we have could be taken away from us at any second. In school we sang a hymn ‘Count your blessings name them one by one’ but I realize that it is impossible to  list out the blessings. We just need to be extremely thankful for everything. You and me, we are very lucky people. We don’t have to think about where the next meal comes from or worry that we have people depending on us. Thanks to one of the greatest mercies God has given us, we live in a reasonably safe place where we don’t have to be scared about bombs being dropped on us. We don’t have to worry about shelter or a plaguing disease. We don’t have to fear poverty and deprivation. Considering that we have it easy, that we have none of these battles to fight, we should be the most thankful people.

Although the little devil inside us is unleashed now I hope we don’t go back to our old ways but that we take away some lesson, no matter how small, from this Ramadan. This Eid let us be thankful for our education, for our wonderful families and amazing friends, for food and peace. Let us be thankful for our lives and for the opportunity to mold it in to a beautiful one.

Eid Mubarak.

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Islam, my crazy days

Umrah

I just got back from seeing my cousin and his wife off at the airport. I couldn’t help but feel jealous when he told me he was going to perform umrah. My thoughts went back to the time when I performed umrah for the first time in 2002.

****

I was 13 years old and was sincerely studying for my board exams when my dad comes to me and says “Oh we are going for umrah”.

“What????”, I say having heard that word for the first time.

umrah, its like a small a haj..”

And the only thought that goes through my then tiny brain was, “Yaaaay!!! I’m going in a plane!!!”.

My father had planned the travel for my family exactly during my Half Yearly exams and I had to bunk my last exam with not so much regret although my principal, Mrs.Williams was all, “I’m not going to give you permission but if you want to go then go”.

And I was so happy that I got to bunk an exam. English exam. But still, exam is exam no?

My mother went into a shopping frenzy and she got me the loosest, most tassel induced abaya you can ever find. The day we were leaving I was forced into a red, synthetic salwar kameez high on silver jigna and made to wear that oddly shaped abaya when all I really wanted to do was to snuggle into my jeans and read my Meg Cabot books.
Yes. I was extremely addicted to Meg Cabot. Don’t ask me why.

Although my father had coached me on Makkah and what to do when I got there I was in seventh heaven just because I got to go in a plane. I was super excited to taste ‘plane’ food but what they gave us in Saudia was a tasteless dish of mac and chesse.

We reached Jeddah and took a car to Makkah. When we got there the driver went, “Look to your left thats the Haram Sheriff”. And I was all, “Why is he calling this place HARAAM?? Isn’t it supposed to be holy?!!”

I remember thinking “wow this looks so real”, when I first saw the haram.

We were made to enter through this particular gate, I don’t remember which one, such that we could see the Kaba with maximium effect. One look at the Kaba standing there looking so majestic in black, forming a beautiful contrast with the white marble I felt an instant connection. It felt like someone had tied a rope from my heart to the kaba and the rope was pulling me towards it.It is said that the Kaba is situated right under the heavens and I found that to be true.

Although my emaan was not up to standard at that time I felt something that I knew would stay with me.

Those 2 weeks in Saudi was when I got interested in the hijaab and realized that it was not just a cultural thing. Alhamdulillah ever since my return from unrah I started wearing the hijaab with the understanding of what it reallly is.

Alhamdulillah we finished our umrah peacefully by Allaah’s grace. The proof of Allah’s barakha was evident when we came back. It showed on our emaan which had increased by leaps and bounds, on our wealth which multiplied itself. After my umrah I have travelled every year. I have visited Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Bangkok. Never in a million years did my family ever think that we would have an international vacation. Ever.
But Allaah proved us wrong.

What I am today is all because of the wise decision my father made that day. This level of faith that I now have, the strength to believe, no matter what, I owe it all to Allaah who put that niyath in my fathers heart. I cannot thank my father enough for what he has done.

While I performed umrah I never realized the significance of what I was doing. But the impact of it I see even today.

Frankly I believe it is upto tje parents to introduce that small quotient of Islam into their children. Because after all your children and your wealth are a test from Allaah.

Don’t you want to ace that test?

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Islam

What Islam Says …

Last week I saw an excellent documentary on the Discovery channel about pregnancy and how the human fetus evolves in 9 months. It was very interesting to see the latest 3D scans that are used and computer generated images of the fetus in the mothers womb. The development of the fetus was explained so well and I realized that this is what is written in the Qura’an. Allaah clearly tells us how the fetus is created by dropping the sperm and the ovum in the uterus of the woman. There are many facts that modern science has just started to figure out but these statements were present in the Qura’an that was handed to mankind 1400 years ago.

Surah 23, Ayah 12-14 “Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay), (Arabic, sulalah); Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm (Arabic, nutfah) in a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood (Arabic, alakah); then of that clot We made a (fetus) lump (Arabic, mudgah); then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!”

This was revealed to Prophet Muhammad [S.A.S]. How could an uneducated man who could neither read nor write posses scientific knowledge of such great extent? Only Allaah subhanawatallah could have meant for him to know this, to educate the people. This is sure proof of the existence of God.

Pregnancy and the development of the fetus is such an amazing and wonderfull thing. After the egg is fertilized it settles in the uterine wall to start the growth. Within the first 40-42 days Allaah decides the sex of the fetus. Within the first 40-42 days the soul is blown into it and it ceases from being just another fetus to a human fetus. Abortion, illegal in Islam and if done, done after these 40 days when the fetus is alive is almost equal to killing a human. The sensory, bone and the general formation takes place through the nine months.

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” [Qur’an 30:21]

Islam gives men and women the free will to choose their life partners with whom they procreate. The man is asked to choose a woman who is pious. A woman in Islam can be married for her beauty, her rank, her property and for her faith. And in turn the woman chooses a man of good charecter and good faith whom she can find solace in and is willing to spend the rest of her life with. Forcing a man or a woman into marriage in entirely unislamic and unlawfull.Islam stresses heavily against adultery and pregnancy outside marriage.

“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication – flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.” [Qur’an 24:2]

“Those who bring the charge of adultery against chaste women but cannot produce four witnesses to prove the charge, give them 80 lashes and their testimony should never be believed.” [Qur’an 24:4]

All these details that go into the selection of good spouses are done to ensure that the children they may have will be of a good background steeped in faith and beleif and will be proud to represent his race.

Certain Western socities encourage sexual promiscuity to such an extent that they never know who the father of their child is having slept with many men. Teenage pregnancies are a rage that fills up abortion centers. Pregnancy and abortion is treated like something of a trivial nature. While in certain Indian villages towards the north-west, indulge in female infanticide although the identification of the sex is prohibited by law. Pregnant women, if found to be carrying girl children are often encouraged by their familes to undergo abortion. And in certain cases the women are pushed into having many children just to give a male heir.

Islam is a religion of peace and common sense. Coming from a religion that considers so highly human life, seeing the way humans are treated even before they enter this Earth is unnerving. Every child that is a born, is born a Muslim.
Every child that is born, is born innocent. It is the world that makes him who he is.

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Islam

Women Of Today?


The death of Soumya Vishwanathan a few months ago has opened up a pandora’s box of opinions. Soumya was a journailst with Headlines Today. She was returning home at 3 a.m. The police found her car rammed into a tree and a bullet lodged between her ear lobe. She was declared as brought dead when she was taken to Delhi’s AIIMS. The reason for her death is unknown although a murder case has been registered. The reason could be anything from road rage to personal enemity. This case has opened up the ever sensitive dealings on women’s late working hours especially in the BPO sector. As India had hit its biggest liberalization with the IT boom a few years back, lifestyles and people have changes a lot over the years. Almost everyone studying Engineering wants a job in THAT company and thanks to campus selections this is becoming more of a reality than a dream. Many are just blinded by all the luxury that a job this good offers. With regards to security at night, apparentley companies give the utmost security for women while travelling. They have the company vehicles, drivers and sometimes even security guards to make sure they reach home safely. But how much of this is acceptable and allowed in Islam?

Unlike what many people think, women working is acceptable in Islam. It is not compulsory but it is not frowned upon either. The women of early Islam were career women themselves. Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was the Prophet’s first wife. She was one of the best in her business. Islam encourages both men and women alike to do business rather than to work for someone else. Many women in Islam were scholars. In fact, many Muslim men studied the teachings under them. The wives of the Prophet, Saffiyah and Umm Salamah were among them. Islamic scholars were leading in science from the early times. Science forms an integral part of Islam. Everything from the Big bang theory to medicine is written clearly in the Quran. During the days of the Prophet, women like Ruffidah Aslamiyya, Umm Zaid and Umm Sulaim accompanied men to the battle field to treat the wounded. They acted as surgeons and doctors giving medical care. Through the history of Islam women have played an important part in society from politics to medicine. It would be foolish to say that women in our ummah are backward or uneducated. Islam stresses on the education of women. Noone can stop a woman if she wants to pursue her education. No other religion gives this kind of freedom.

But now, women want to work their night shifts and in close proximity to men and many are hijab-less. they want to go out an have their fun. This is unrestricted freedom. This is not allowed in Islam. The need to go out and work, especially at night in not a necessity. Women require the security and guards to make sure they are safe. What is the need to work so desperately? Women could easily work from their homes or have jobs that are not so demanding. She does not have to give first preference to her job and neglect her family. How many ever laws and strict enforcements come into action, harassment will still be the same. Especially in India.

Yet many fail to understand this. They can only think of either extremes- working like as if your lives depend on it or sitting at home behind bolted doors doing chores. There is something in between all this. There is an alternative. It is upto women to find this missing link and make it work.


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