November 29, 2010

The love for our children

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. To those of you with children, have you ever wondered at the extent of the love we have for our children? How we can have so much emotion for these tiny little bodies that we bring forth, in pain and hope, into a world of uncertainty? How we can be so content when a sticky chubby hand simply reaches out to hold our own? How we can feel such a bittersweet tugging at our heart when a sweet, small voice says, "I love you mama"? How proud we feel as we watch them grow, going through their own struggles, and watch them emerge as capable, caring young adults?

Really it is incredible, miraculous, and awe-inspiring. Before I was a mother I had no idea, honestly. I couldn't even fathom the depth of feeling I would be capable of, how the mere thought of my child in danger would bring out a ferociousness in me, like a tigress unleashed. Or how a small memory, insignificant to most, could make me laugh and cry, simultaneously? I would unhesitatingly give my life for that of any of my children. They can make us crazy sometimes, they can frustrate us and more than anyone else they can bring a joy and lightness that can make our bleakest day a little brighter.

The amazing thing is that I am not some super-mom of love. I am just that, a mother. Subhanallah. I am grateful to be a woman, to be a wife, to be a mother. It is a blessing from Allah that I have been GIFTED with these three beautiful, amazingly different yet similiar children. They are an amanah from Allah and I try to be thankful to Him, ar-Raheem, for this wonderful thing he has entrusted me with.

I'm just feeling kinda nostalgic tonight, missing my sons but so sooo happy for the blessing of them and Aaminah in my life. I truly cannot imagine my life without them, nor do I want to. I no longer have visions of grandeur for myself; I made sacrifices for my children and I did it GLADLY, not so in years to come I could say, "You don't know what I gave up for you!!!". Nope, guilting ain't my way and I was and still am very happy for any decision I made that was good for my babies. 17, 13 and 2. Masha'allah, subhanallah, wa alhamdulillah!!!

Please anyone want to share a "loving my kid" story please do so. I would be happy to read them. :-) Ma salaama ya'll.

November 28, 2010

Warning: don't view if hungry!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. On Sundays we run with a lighter crew; two of my three stepchildren go with their mother. So we take advantage of that time to run errands, etc that is much harder with 6 people in tow.

Today after an unsuccessful bid to buy a patio table (they don't carry them after summer here apparently) we decided to grab a little bite. We headed for Panera; my husband is a bread-hound and of course they have great bread and their sandwiches are very nice masha'Allah.

We both got sandwiches; I had the turkey artichoke which has asiago cheese, caramelized onions and an artichoke/spinach spread on it. All on grilled focaccia bread. The caramelized onions added a distinctive sweetness I coulda done without but it was still super-good. Hmmmmm.....

A had the frontega chicken which was super nice as well. It's calling my name from the take-out bag as we "speak". lol

We both got a side of soup (creamy chicken and wild rice and brocolli cheddar) and the girls (Z and Aaminah) had their absolutely yummmmmmmy mac 'n cheese. Almost wrong to call it mac 'n cheese, it's so far past what we throw together from a box.

Anyway it was very tasty (but $$$ in my opinion) and even A could only eat half his sandwich with his soup and the complimentary bread that comes with it. So we have a full sandwich between us to bring home. I'm a sandwich fiend, I love 'em, so really I'm looking forward to a late night snack insha'Allah. ;-)

After we had eaten I noticed a sign giving you any pastry in the dessert case for only $.99 with a meal/drink purchase. So I trot back up front and ask our cashier. He was super nice and let me pick three divine-looking pastries and he didn't even charge me the $2.97. Alhmamdulillah. We got the bear claw:

And we got the pain au chocolate (chocolate-stuffed pastry):

And I opted for the cherry cheese danish. It looks soooo yummy....

So alhamdulillah we had a good time, spent some quiter-than-normal dining moments and just enjoyed ourselves. I would prefer to just go with the two of us for a quick lunch one day instead of 2 kids accompanying us but alhamdulillah what can you do? lol

Ma salaama ya'll....

November 24, 2010

Pictures from my trip to Tennessee!

Aliyah and Aaminah cheesin' it up... with kohl on!

Alex running in his last cross-country race of the season; look at his hair fly!

This is Aaminah's first time seeing her big brother Zack in 9 months. She loved him from the first minute she saw his face!

At the restaurant, Alex and Aaminah bonding again! So sweet masha'Allah!

What a bunch of weiners! LOL My sis just opened a restaurant (a spin-off of their wildly popular "Best Hot Dog in East TN" hot dog cart) and we were dressing the part in some of the Groovy Dawg's props.

November 23, 2010

A trip to the beach

 A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. For the first time in my life, I live in a state that is bordered by an ocean and yet we've only went to the beach once. The problem is, up here if you go during warm weather nothing but fitnah and it isn't appropriate to take a Muslim family unfortunately.

I really wanted to see the ocean again. The first time we went at the end of last winter it was bitterly, bitingly cold. Literally we stayed for 4 minutes and then left.

 This time the temperatures were at least 15 degrees higher but oh my! We were still super cold as you can tell by Aaminah's face in the first pic and the lack of others at the beach. I think we made it 15 minutes this time (I insisted everyone wear jackets, hats, gloves, etc.).

Still my dream of a nice picnic by the beach didn't transpire. We went to a sandwich place later and grabbed a bite. Funny in this pic the most prominent person is A who most dislikes having photographs made. lol He says they destroy your imagination but I insist they help jog my memory and thus are necessary. :-) In case you are wondering, I was holding the cam trying to get us all in the shot. Nice job huh??

Any of you have husbands/family members who (aside from any haram/halal argument) feels its odd to want to capture a moment in time? I love it personally but have cut down alot from what I used to snap. Oh and it was just us four (that's Zainab in the pic) bec the other two went with their mother that day.

Ma salaama....

November 11, 2010

Post-fajr halaqas YES!!!

A'salaamu alaikum! My husband is going to be going through the Qur'an with me, surah by surah, and doing an early morning halaqa with the emphasis on tafsir and learning the meaning behind the verses in the Qur'an. I am so excited; it stemmed from a conversation we had this morning which turned into a "Grab the Qur'an with Arabiy and English". I read aloud the entire surah (surat-ul-Maryam) and he would stop me to interject definitions, meanings, clarify the English, give background and related hadith, etc.

Really I am so excited and happy about this. :-) It was so much fun this morning and I know I am learning LOADS more than when I just read Qur'an on my own. It is indeed a huge blessing from Allah swt that I have married A. Alhamdulillah there are many good things about our marriage (please say masha'Allah!) but this is really one of his selling-points for me. I intend to exploit his knowledge to the fullest!!! lol

One ayat which really spoke to me today (which I'm sure we've all read before) is ayah 67 of surat-ul-Maryam:

"Does not man remember that We created him, when he was nothing?"

Subhanallah. I love this; these exact words or very similar are sprinkled throughout the Qur'an, a CLEAR reminder to be grateful to Allah and be in awe of His majesty and omnipotence.

I just wanted to share this ayah with you all that you may be blessed with it too insha'Allah.

November 9, 2010

Who out there wears overhead abayaat?

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I am thinking of expanding my clothing repetoire (which is pretty basic) into overhead abaya. I mean, I wear abaya all the time anyway but then have to throw a hijab on top (I wear the tie-back khimar style) so I think I can really streamline this situation. lol

However I must must must must must have a peak (the part that sticks out) on my forehead. Flat to the forehead hijab is NOT a good look on me. Plus I don't like showing so much of my forehead but I digress.

I want to know who does or has worn an overhead and if you've ever tried the chador overhead abaya, a newer style. It has the forehead piece and ties back behind the head but is all one piece abaya to the ground.

Any sources would be great. I found one (see above) on (I think) but it's $56 PLUS shipping and I just can't justify that amount. So I would super appreciate any words of advice you all can give insha'allah.

Ma salaama....

November 3, 2010

I've taken the NaNoWriMo challenge! :-)

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Sooo maybe you can guess I have joined the NaNoWriMo movement. National Novel Writing Month encourages all its participants to write a novel (defined as at least 50,000 word) in 30 days by the end of November insha'Allah. I have a good start as I always have some sort of story line going on in my head.

At first my biggest challenge was to just focus on one topic. I had a few ideas bouncing around in my head but some were too autobiographical (I wouldn't want anyone to read it!) and others were just too in-depth to be tackled effectively in this time frame.

I finally opted on a halal romantic historical fiction. I am not (too) ashamed to say I used to love reading these types of books. To be transported to a different time and place, all the over-the-top characters, and the passion... lol Well I loved reading them before I was Muslim but afterwards... well there was just too much sex and haram to even consider it (although reading any novel isn't recommended it's still something I enjoy from time to time).

I have read some so-called "Islamic" fiction and I was horrified by the topics chosen and the way they were presented.  I know some people will think I am being ridiculous and over-the-top but as Muslims we are commanded by ALLAH SWT to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. I feel that to glorify sex and drinking and adultery is indeed enjoining evil and perpetuating it. So instead of compaining about what is out there, I decided to just write my own. :-)

I am striving to write a historically accurate, emotionally satisfying, and ultimately uplifting novel. My intent isn't for publication but to enjoy the challenge to complete something after soooo many years of reading a sub-par book and thinking, I could've done better than that! lol Haven't we all? So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth was, so to speak.

In this book I will endeavor to keep from the haram as far as possible although some characters will be necessarily good and some evil. It will insha'allah have a moral to it as well without being preachy.

Anyway here is just some excerpts from the opening. I would enjoy getting your feedback. I don't mind criticism at all but I reserve the right to accept or reject it. In the end, I want to write a book I would be proud of, that upholds the same values I espouse, and that will insha'Allah entertain my sisters in a more halal manner.

Without further ado, the much-anticipated (yeah right!) debut:

A Novel by Me!

The prisoner looked up at the dark night sky, searching for the moon. In vain he craned his head this way and that trying to catch a glimpse. He was disoriented, hungry and dirty; he had been rudely shoved into the unused damp cellar 2 days ago and had as of yet to receive anything with which to cleanse himself. He rubbed his hands reverently on the stone walls and began his ritual ablution, running his hands slowly over his face and arms, cleansing himself symbolically, if not physically. He was readying himself for commune with His Lord, Ya Rabb. After a brief search, he found a small twig in amongst the hay that was laid down to serve as his bed.

Carefully he peeled it and chewed the end until its fibrous core was exposed. He cleaned his mouth thoughtfully; it was inconceivable for him to approach his Creator in prayer with a dirty mouth. The malaika (angels) are present during prayer and are offended by stale breath. He did his best to clean himself and then slowly, he raised his hands to the side of his head.

“Allahuakbar!” his voice rang out in the chilly air, his warm breath leaving a trail of steam in its wake.

“Allahuakbar!” he called again and felt his pulse slowing and his focus turning inward.

He continued the athan and began his prayer. Since he has been in this tomb-like enclosure, he could never be sure of the direction; it was a part of his salaat (prayer) to face the direction of Makkah, the holy city. Now he only had his dim recollections from a few nights past when he was brought into this makeshift prison. With his heart, Sofiane made the intention to complete his prayer correctly and beseeched Allah to accept it. Insha’Allah (God willing) He would.

Afterwards, he sat very still and let his mind focus on the glory of Allah. He made dhikr or remembrance of God and made his personal prayers. He prayed for his freedom of course (and more importantly) for the mercy and forgiveness of his Lord. He prayed for Allah to protect his family in his absence, to give them comfort and consolation, to make them accepting of anything they were given or was taken away, to make them strong until his return. Insha’allah.

He felt a strong sense of peace. He had done all he could do; he had prayed, lifted his hands up to his Creator and placed his trust in Him. He laid down on the scratchy straw and fell into a deep slumber.

Emma stared pensively out the opened window, the cold moist air encircling her body like a frigid cloak. She shivered slightly and pulled her woolen wrap closer. It was also cool and damp in her room despite the roaring fire. Most young women her age didn’t have a private room but Emma was lucky she wasn’t required to spend her nights on the stone floor below, fighting for sleeping space with the multitude of hounds and slinking cats that were the habitual inhabitants of any keep. Her room, though small, was adequate for her needs and she was grateful for the privacy it granted. Especially now.

Everyone in the area knew of the infidel who had been brought here under cover of darkness. His location was supposed to be kept secret but in all actuality what harm did it matter that some illiterate peasants and a handful of landless gentry knew his location? Emma’s father was keeping the prisoner for his lord, Sir Gilbert. Sir Gilbert’s castle was in the same town as the local fleece market and as such news would spread quickly of the prisoner’s whereabouts. It was much safer to house him here in the sleepy little village of Wallingham than to chance placing him in a more accessible area.

Emma’s thoughts turned to the prisoner himself. She had to admit she was eager to catch a glimpse of the heathen. Churches had just started giving sermons, short moralistic stories the common masses could relate to their everyday lives. Although Emma herself was very skeptical about the Church and their doctrinse she was fascinated by their stories. It was fun to hear the priests give their lectures but she didn’t put too much stock into it.

However since the beginning of the crusades to win back Jersusalem, or the Holy Land as the tiresome priests described it, Emma had been hooked. They told tales of ruthless muhajideen or holy warriors dressed in long white skirts and carrying evil scimitars who would strike down any man, woman or child unlucky enough to be in their path. They delved into great detail when describing the evils of the harem or women’s quarters for the wealthy Sheikhs. Emma could almost see the writhing, naked bodies, clad only in the sheerest wisps of silk, drenched in intoxicating perfumes. All there for the pleasure of one jaded man who could end their life at his whim. Oh yes, Emma was enchanted!

It was all so much more exciting than her boring life here in Wallingham. As the daughter of the lord of the manor she was expected to act as housekeeper, hostess, and occasionally in any other capacity necessary. Emma’s mother had died many years ago when she was just a small child. Although her memories were beginning to fade, she remembered her mother as being kind and gentle, loving and forgiving, perfectly suited to life in a quiet little hamlet.

Not me!, Emma thought mutinously. She would never be happy here, just marrying whomever Father picked and raising a pack of kids for an ungrateful husband, dying when she was 35, worn out and miserable. She dreamed of life, life! beyond these crumbling grey stone walls. Emma had a keen mind and was a quick learner and above of all of that, she had a curiosity and a zest for life and love of knowledge. All of these traits combined to make her unsuited for a life of monotony and duty.

She found herself thinking about the prisoner again. From her small window she could just see across the courtyard to the place where he was held. There was a dull light shining through the tiny ventilation opening, as if a lone candle had sullenly agreed be lit. Emma strained to see through the foggy darkness and was gratified with a glimpse of a dark head just visible. She could see short black hair and a surprisingly thick beard. Apparently he did not find what he was searching for because momentarily he disappeared.

Disappointed, Emma started to move away from the window, plotting how she could cajole her father into letting her meet the prisoner. Suddenly the most beautiful and haunting sound came from the direction of the cellar....

Anyway that is the end of what I wanted to share right now. Insha'Allah you all enjoyed it and if I say or do anything good it is from Allah and Allah alone, all praises are to Him.

Ma salaama...