March 31, 2011

Moving to Tunisia, Part II

Some old-school baggage!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Soooo about moving overseas. I realized I forgot a reallllly important thing: what to pack and what NOT to pack.

What did you take that you ended up thinking, daaaang you were a waste of space? What did you NOT bring that you really wished you had of thought to pack? I want to be frugal in what we ship over.

1. I really want to bring alot of Aaminah's books and toys, enough so that I am willing to pay freight. Do ya'll think that's necessary in your experience?

2. What about personal products? Anything you can't get overseas that you miss?

3. Food stuffs? Just your thoughts, again.

4. I am thinking of bringing an e-reader. Any ideas on which ones work overseas (for purchasing books)? Anyone overseas currently using one? If so, which?

Any other information/ideas/what to do or not to do, I would really appreciate it!

Ma salaama...

Moving to Tunisia?

Very traditional Tunisian building with blue doors
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. A applied for his citizenship in 2007. Alhamdulillah he finally received notice it had been denied. Yes, denied. After waiting over THREE years. Subhanallah. He was admitted as a refugee in 2002 and apparently a translator mis-interpreted (literally!) one of his responses. Which had no material benefit to him, btw. Now he is considering, seriously, moving back to Tunisia. Where does that leave me, the southern muslimah?

That leaves me moving to Tunisia with my husband, that's where. It's a difficult decision in some ways; missing my sons, my country, my language. As most of ya'll know, Arabic and French are the two main languages there. My husband's family also speaks Arabic and French but hardly any of them speak English, especially not fluently. Hmmmm. I like to talk. I can see an issue. :-)

OK I think I'll resort my to listing the pros and cons. Which isn't really that helpful because of course, wherever my husband goes, I will follow insha'Allah.

Let's list the good points first. I like to be positive. These are in no particular order, btw.

1. Aaminah will insha'Allah become fluent in Arabiy. Big plus!

2. I have always had this restlessness in me, this drive to travel, see more, do more. I think living in North Africa will be exciting in many ways.

3. I will no longer be solely responsible for my stepchildren. This is a big relief to me in many ways, may Allah forgive me. It's been trying for me and I would be happy to have more of an aunt-like role with them.

4. I will insha'Allah be able to forge true relationships with my new family overseas.

5. Insha'allah I'll be able to learn Arabiy myself and also take many different classes.

6. I can be involved in dawah efforts as this is a huge interest of my husband's.

7. I'll have more free time to pursue things which I enjoy and also just to spend with Aaminah.

8. We'll have a true home with room to grow and have some privacy.

9. Easy to find Islamic clothing. OK sounds flimsy but it IS nice to not search high and low for modest clothes. :-)

10. Being in a Muslim-majority country where you don't have to explain what Eid is or why you fast Ramadhan. Oh so many reasons!

11. My husband would be so happy to be home again.

12. Paring down and living more simply. See #7 below for the con of this. lol

So here are the less-than-idea points:

1. Lack of privacy. Not sure if our house is connected to the "big" house or not. I think there would be communal meals, etc. Which would mean my husband sitting with the men and me with the women. I wouldn't like that.

2. Missing my family and my country. Also my freedom. It just won't be the same overseas as it is here (duh) and I would miss a lot of what I take for granted.

3. Language barrier. Yeah. India was difficult as I only had Abu Aaminah to communicate with for 6 weeks. And he was with me 24/7 for those 6 weeks. Not looking forward to it.

4. Healthcare. As ya'll know I have health issues that require hospitalizations and lots of medications.

5. Food. I am weird about milk, cheese, and meat. I can forsee a vegetarian future for me. Waaaaah!

6. Not sure if I would be driving and if it's similar to here.

7. Going through all our stuff and getting rid of sooo much. It will be hard and a little difficult for me to part with sentimental things; an antique wooden trunk, a favorite platter, handmade momentos. Ya can't take it all!

8. Not living in the green hill/valley/lake/river/woods/stream landscape. THIS will be difficult.
I know many of these can be put to rest by more talking between me and A. We have only spoken about it in general terms so far and these are some of the things I've been thinking of that I need to clarify. It's definitely a life change and one I am, despite the possible issues, looking forward to. At least for a year or so, long term.... I just don't know how I will fit in.

Any of my sisters who have made hijrah/moved overseas, please share some of your most trying AND most rewarding experiences. Jazakum Allahu khair!!!

A day at the library and blog privacy

Outside the library. She found a stick! :-)
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! We have a great little library here in Hudson. The kids section is awesome, there are lots of imagination-inspiring toys such as puppets, a kitchen, "little buddies" (what Aaminah calls the guinea pigs!), a magnet-track track and multi-cultural doll house are just some of the objects for play. I don't take Aaminah as often as I should however; just kinda get caught up in the daily routine.

What girl doesn't need a pink coupe?

Anyway we went to the library a few weeks ago and I wanted to share the pics with you. Oh right, I wanted to touch on this issue. A couple of beautiful sisters I "know" through the blogosphere have posted recently about their thoughts regarding online privacy and photos. I totally respect their decisions as well as their reasoning. Both sisters are against showing their photos and especially those of their children online. Here's my take:

Obviously I do post pictures here. Yes, I will admit I am proud of my children but that isn't why I show their photos. I just love to share my life with others. When I was a new Muslimah I reallllly wanted to know how Muslims, typical Muslim families, lived. What they were like, what did they eat, how did they spend their spare time. Yeah it might sound crazy but believe me there is a lot of interest in this. :-)

Aaminah talking to the little buddy.

I also love developing relationships with other Muslimahs who live near and far. When I see a glimpse of their world, and they of mine, it makes me feel closer. Also my Muslim sisters who live far away can keep up with Aaminah here; I don't have the energy to make a separate blog!!! ;-) Abu Aaminah (her biological father, NOT to be confused with A, her Baba!) has this blog address so he has the option to view her photos and accomplishments.

She realllly loves the guinea pigs!

As far as safety issues are concerned I am not worried about any repercussions from showing photos online. We go places; the bank, the library ;-), the grocery store. I have actually had someone snap my pic before with their camera phone. :-( Yeah, right? I didn't say anything because I couldn't be 100% sure but from the way they were staring, whispering, laughing, and pointing and clicking in my direction... yeah. lol Pretty sure.

Everyone loves bead toys!
Anyway I guess my point is that we do not live sheltered lives. We go places where unfortunately there are probably sick, diseased individuals. We know from the media they exist even where we don't expect; in churches, in schools, in hospitals. Even in Muslim-majority countries, authubillah. I don't have to go into details, we all know the horrific things which can happen.

One sister pointed out she tried to protect her photos and yeah, it's almost impossible. Plus time-consuming. I don't like the idea someone might take my photos (especially of my family) and do something... unsavory with them. However, I don't feel I am endangering myself or my family by posting them.

Love her little fake smile. lol

May Allah protect us all from the shaitaan and the evils in this world, amin. 

March 29, 2011

WTHeck? 2nd post of the day

I don't think so... read below, and you'll see why!!! LOL

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I noticed my stat counter steadily creeping upwards (thanks all my readers!) so I decided to check out my blog stats.

One random observation: any of my fellow bloggers ever feel a bit, um I dunno, surprised when you noticed someone came to your blog, didn't stay, and didn't return??? I'm like, Oh come back, there's lots of good stuff here. I mean, if you are Muslim, if you are a Mom, if you like to cook and wear hijab/abaya/khimar... lol  I guess I do just "speak" to a certain percentage of the population and my blog won't be for everyone.

Anyway the reason for my WTHeck post is this: I looked at some of the searches people do that land them on my blog.  Ummm I don't know what to say!!!! Weird to say these least; here is a sampling:

1. Boobs sticking out in abaya. This landed them on my "fashion schizophrenia" post. I don't know HOW the keyword "boobs" got them there but it did. Weird.

2. Flirting with niquab (sic). After typing this gem they went to my "Niqab a personal dilemma" post. I don't think they got the advice they were seeking. LOL

3. Pakistani cute girls. Oh peachy. Weirdos.

4. Cute Syrian Men. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but pret-ty sure I never blogged about THAT in my life! LOL Especially not on my "If I were a ____ I'd be..." post.

I'll pray someone stops by someday, while looking for something not on my blog, and my little place here makes them think a little more about Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in today's society. Insha'Allah perhaps someone, somewhere will leave a little more enlightened, a little less weighed down by bigotry and misconceptions. Or at least stop searching for freaky things like boobs in abayaat or flirting in niqab.

A girl can dream, can't she? :-))

The story of what was:

My Daddy used to sit outside and now Aaminah loves it too! She will pull her chair outside and sit, quietly, for 20+ minutes. Masha'Allah!!!
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I was going through my "drafts" folder of posts that never made it, and I found this one. I think it's funny. At the time, I was afraid it sounded morose but honestly, it was just some observations I made which humbled me somewhat. Enjoy. :-)

*I used to be a creative, exciting mother... when I only had one child.
*I was a housewife extraordinaire.... when I lived at home without a husband.
*I was a Top Chef... until I had to cook nightly for a crew of 6
*I used to keep a clean home, always company-worthy... until I had 4 kids at home 24/7
*I was always on top of the laundry... now it's on top of me. Literally, a small pile fell off the back of my chair and landed on my head. :-/
*I had visions of grandeur... now I just have visions. Well my special doctor calls them delusions but that's just splitting hairs. LOL

OK so please don't comment telling me to love myself, blah blah blah. Problem is, I do. So does A hence my gradual decline into the keeper of a wild game preserve/slovenly hovel. :-) So it's really not that bad (on most days) but daaaaang, it's getting on me nerves. I've decided to become more proactive, get back on top of all my little piles...

Just as soon as I finish this post. :-D lol Ma salaama ya'll and nighty night!"


That is where I ended the draft post. It was a few months ago. Any changes you ask? Hmm kinda. Actually there is a tiny pile of FOLDED laundry (which doesn't really count!) on the back of the loveseat. In my defense, Hafsa brought some clothes from the dryer out last night and unceremoniously dumped them half on the empty cushion, half on me. I had no choice but to fold some clothes. :-) However I wasn't in the putting-away clothes mood so there is still a small stack of tiny pajamas for my little pumpkin that need to be put up.

Just as soon as I finish this post. :-))

Ahhhh procrastination. Gotta love it. Anyone else have "hotspots" in their house? This is what FlyLady calls it; btw my experiment with her was short-lived. It was just too intense. Anyway I did take that lesson to heart. I have 3 hotspots: a) a useless little psuedo-counter between the kitchen/living room, b) the top of our dresser and c) the recliner in our room. Actually I take no responsibility for the recliner having become an extension of our closet. We are crammed into this apartment and there just isn't room!

When I am sick, in the hospital, masha'Allah the kids did laundry but instead of folding it nicely they put it, UNFOLDED, on my recliner in my room. Hmmmm. So now I just have to rewash the whole lot, they are so wrinkled. Ah what are ya gonna do???

I periodically clean off the qasi-counter but it piles up. Everyday. No joke. Every kid that passes by lays something there. A will put his keys, work papers, wallet there. I lay down mail... it's a procrastinator's paradise! Insha'allah I'll get right on it.

As soon as I finish this post. :-))

It seems my to-do list is growing by the paragraph. Maybe I should stop here before I get too committed. lol My sister just left yesterday, we had the BEST time. It was so nice masha'Allah. Aaminah already misses her and her endless affection and attention. Really we are blessed to have her in our lives. Anyway, I was saying, she just left yesterday and Aaminah is under the weather, cold or allergies, stopped up nose, no appetite. Awww poor baby. So we are extending our weekend by a day to regroup ourselves.

Since my rejection episode I am much more easily tired than before. I did lose some function and as I am very in-tune with my body I can feel the difference. Alhamdulillah and insha'allah I will get some of my sins erased for the hardships I endure patiently in this life. Amin!!!!!

OK I'm just gonna stop here. I am jumping all over the place today and making one mish-mash of a blog post. Insha'Allah I'll do a proper one tonight. Ma salaama ya'll!!!!!

March 26, 2011

My sister

My family: Dad, Janet, Mom, Boddy and me (the "baby")
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. If you've read any of my blog you know by now that I miss my family and friends in Tennessee. My sister is one of my best friends and of course I miss her very much! She is 8 years older than me and has always been a rock in my foundation; the person who loved me regardless and always supported me. She is the most amazing woman. Period.

She was always my role model for what a mother and wife should be. Loving, supportive, encouraging, and there. Yes there. She made her family her priority and stayed at home for as long as she could when her children were little. They were always her anchor.

My sister with her daughter, Whitney. Beautiful women!

Welllll my sis is here for a visit right now. Yay me!!!! She flew up on Friday and has to go back on Monday. It's too short but I am grateful for every minute! Yesterday we just sat around and caught up, had some nice fresh fish at Coral Seafood (a locally reknowned seafood eatery) and played with Aaminah.

Today we went with Aaminah to see "Tangled" the newish animate film about Rapunzel. I really liked it but of course as a Muslim would have wished it didn't talk so much about magic. Aaminah was entranced! This was her second time going to a "big girl" movie and of course now she is 6 months older and just adored it! On the way home she basically went over the entire plot and even reminded us of things we had forgotten. :-) Masha'Allah she is amazing!

I wish I had the pics my sis snapped but she hasn't uploaded them yet. :-) I don't think I've laughed this much in a long time. It's been really good for me. I had told my step-kids that I wouldn't be here much this weekend because I'd be with my sis and that we wouldn't be bring them places with us. Ya'll have to realize, here in MA I am with my family 24/7. Unless I skip out to the store by myself. :-)

I have no free time, no friends time, no friends here really. We don't live near other Muslims and I've just not clicked with the sisters here although masha'Allah I have met some very nice ones. I just don't really have the time to cultivate new friendships. I'm busy with my home and family. However I do miss adult companionship sometimes so it's made my sister's visit even sweeter!!!!

She has so much life!

Aaminah has stayed with my sister for the past 2 nights. :-) Granted it's only 2 doors down from our apartment but I'm proud of her! I miss her little face in the morning but I know in another couple of days she'll be only my little love bug again. For now, I am happy to share!

Oh my sis cut my hair too! It's super long but in a bit of a "v" shape because I would try to trim it myself and botched it. Everytime. :-) So she took my hair cutting scissors and used the pizza box leftover from dinner as a "straight edge" to guide her. lol Alhamdulillah she did a good job and it didn't cost me a dime. Masha'allah!

I will hate to see her leave. As most of ya'll know we lost our father this past Oct after having been estranged (but without hard feelings) for 20 years. (He lived in another state and just isn't the type to keep up communications. He wasn't reliable but we knew he loved us, in his manner.) Anyway the next brother closest to his age (and the most like him, physically and personality wise) just died last month. I think my sister was really starting to miss me.

As a Muslimah I have a different outlook. I already know this life is short and we are not here for fun and games. I have this knowledge with me daily. I think for her it's a bit of a wake-up call although she isn't by any means careless about the blessings in her life. She just doesn't really stop to consider where they come from.

At any rate, it's been a great visit! I will hate it when she leaves but enjoy here while she's here. I thought I'd post a few random facts about my sis below so you can get to "know" her too. :-)

My sis, Janet

1. Family is her anchor.

2. She is going to do a 1/2 marathon next week insha'Allah. That's 13 miles! It's also a qualified for the Boston Marathon (26 miles) but I don't think she is interested in that!

3. She wrote a short story last year and is working on a novel this year. :-) She also does photography.

With some of her work at an exhibition.

4. She loves to kayak and will go to the lake in the early morning to kayak, write in her journal, and relax.

5. I don't think she has a vindictive or malicious bone in her entire body.

6. My sister's laugh is contagious. ;-)

This is my sister. :-)
7. She hasn't finished her college degree but has been promoted in her job (she's been there for over 15 years!) from receptionist to implementation co-ordinator. This is by dint of her personality, drive, and intelligence.

8. Janet is the nice one. :-)

9. She makes great country fried steak. Yum!

10. My sister loves costume jewelry and look awesome in it.

11. We once drove 13 hours to Dayton Beach, stayed one day, and came back home. We were in our 30s btw. lol

12. My sister is indefatiguable. She is like the energizer bunny and can organize and clean like nobody's "bidness". :-D

13. When she wrote a 3 page letter to me, telling me I was her hero, I cried. I'll cry now thinking about it.

OK there is sooo much more but I am exhausted. We might go to the beach tomorrow so she can experience it in the winter/cold spring time.

Ma salaama!

March 25, 2011

"Beautiful Things"

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. This is one of my favorite poems from way back in the day. :-) I had a huge anthology of poetry which I pored over; I loved reading it. I was probably 13 at the time and this poem has always stuck with me. I think this is absolutely how every woman of faith should judge her beauty. I was inspired to post this by Sis Aisha's post on her blog.

Beautiful Things

Beautiful faces are those that wear–
It matters little if dark or fair–
Whole-souled honesty printed there.

Beautiful eyes are those that show,
Like crystal panes where hearth-fires glow,
Beautiful thoughts that burn below.

Beautiful lips are those whose words
Leap from the heart like songs of birds,
Yet whose utterance prudence girds.

Beautiful hands are those that do
Work that is earnest and brave and true,
Moment by moment the long day through.

Beautiful feet are those that go
On kindly ministries to and fro,
Down lowliest ways if God wills it so.

Beautiful shoulders are those that bear
Ceaseless burdens of homely care,
With patient grace and daily prayer.

Beautiful twilight at set of sun,
Beautiful goal with race well won,
Beautiful rest with work well done.

Beautiful graves where grasses creep,
Where brown leaves fall, where drifts lie deep,
Over worn-out hands! Ah, beautiful sleep.

–Ellen P. Allerton

I remember always wishing I had the delicate hands with fine-boned, tapering fingers but alas, like you Sr. Aisha, I am from hardy peasant stock (birthin' hips and all! lol).

Then, amazingly, after the birth of my first child, my media-skewed opinion of myself changed. I saw a photo of me holding Zachary, my firstborn. It was an artsy-angle kinda pic (the boys' dad is an artist) and it showed my hands, my strong capable hands.

No they weren't holding an orchid or stroking a piece of gossamer silk :-). They were holding my baby, close and loving. They were holding his bottle, feeding him as my body could not. Since then I've had great respect for my hands, my capable, less-than-dainty, loving, caring, hard-working hands masha'Allah!

March 22, 2011

I have a newly diagnosed disorder....

Alhamdulillah I was born too late to fall prey to the "goth steampunk" look. I woulda fallen HARD. Just sayin' :-)
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I've just been diagnosed with a disorder which, unfortunately, has been a problem for me for quite some time. It's called "fashion schizophrenia" and I am afraid I have a fatal case. :-D

My entire life, no one has EVER accused me of being "fashion forward". After a very unfortunate 80's inspired teenage era I moved straight into a straight jeans and t-shirt phase. Oh wait, before that, while in college, I did try to look more fashionable. I bought a track suit. You know, the shiny, noisy ones made out of some kinda of synthetic material, in multi colors, the kind still sported by old dudes out walking in the mall? Hmm. In my defense they were ALL the rage back in the early 90s.

Mine was white with lime green and purple. Possibly some black to perk it up. lol. I wore with it a shirt that had cacti made out of sequins. I still remember it (with convulsions of guilt mingled with disbelief!). It appears I either dressed oh no, over-the-top or just tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. Anyway I do have a picture of me in this fine suit.

I would even be willing to scan it and post it here but our scanner is on the fritz. Oh and I had a fake butt on as well. Yes, dear readers, I did. A fake bottom. False behind. Whatever you wanna call it. I saw one advertised in a magazine. Much to my chagrin, this baby didn't have back. :-D I was bottom-challenged and it was a sore point with me. So much that I parted with about $50 of my hard earned dollars and bought this... this foam monstrosity.

I even wore it. Once. In the unfortunate track suit photo mentioned above. Alhamdulillah I had the good sense to realize it was ridiculous but allowed my then-boyfriend (the boys' eventual father, my soon-to-be husband) to snap a pic for "posterity". (Haha, posterity for my posterior. Funny!) Or more likely, to remind me to never experiment with color again!!!!

OK so after the disastrous attempt to be colorful and stylish, I did the "I don't care how I dress" phase, the jeans and t-shirt Jeanna. Comfy stretchy jeans and men's t-shirts, to be exact. Oh my.  After that, when I had a job that demanded dressing up, I morphed into "old lady at 25" with sensible slacks and polyblend tops. Yes top, not shirts. In my defense, my sensibly-dressing MIL bought my work wardrobe for me, as I didn't have the funds. Still shuddering...

Then came my entrance into the world or dressing more like a woman and one who isn't having a psychadelic flashback to some groovy time. :-) I lost some weight (quite a bit, I was very sick prior to dialysis) and realized that a) I was actually a woman b) I didn't have to have a perfect anything to look nicer and c) I could somewhat rely on my own sense of style.

Well don't you know c is the one that came back to bite me on the butt? Because of my well-earned distrust of my fashion sense (don't you know that term was an oxymoron for me? lol) I had lost all faith in my ability to put together an outfit. So if I found one thing I liked, that wasn't obnoxious, I wanted to buy it in every color. This is the Dialysis Diva phase btw. :-) Not so diva but better...

I wore jeans that fit and had found a longer, a-line, cap sleeved tshirt made by Hanes her Way at Wal-Mart. I bought a grey one. Ahhh the comfort, the fit, the love... I then proceeded to buy a navy, a red, a black and a white. Yeah, I did. And I pretty much just wore those. :-) I had a few other things I would vary it with but this was indeed my daily uniform. Dear Readers, I felt pretty for the first time in a looooong time. Not just capable or dependable or acceptable but pretty.

This is also called my "Sporty Spice" stage. I bought alot of sporty knits, any top with a stripe was game for me, and paired with a long denim skirt or similar.

And all it took was a $7 t-shirt. :-))  But I digress... Oh this is gonna be a long post, I can feel it. You know, it's cathartic to get rid of all this shame that's been building in me for years. I'm actually surprised no one in my family did an intervention. Well one friend did she forced lovingly encouraged me to buy a couple of dressier sandals, more fitted tops, a dress or two. I acqueisced but never felt comfortable in them.

OK sorry back on track. So after the dialysis stage I kinda settled into my style; understated, comfy but feminine. Not racy, not sexy, but definitely not as modest as I dress now. So let's just skip ahead to now, which is actually the entire reason I started this post!

This is when my fashion schizophrenia really manifested itself. Before, I couldn't settle on any one (horrible) look. Now I can hop from abaya to shalwar kameez to long jean skirt and cotton top. I like pretty shoes and nice purses but my favorite footwear continues to be my men's leather sandals which I would happily wear everyday if this crazy weather here would cooperate! Comfort is my queen but I as long as it feels good and is modestly-fitting I can go crazy!

I have some jalabiyya that are decked out in sequins and fringe, a couple of very sophisticated abayaat that make me feel like an Arabian princess, shalwar kameez ranging from daily wear cotton to a bridal-type in rusty red and gold. I'll glame it up for 'Eid or I am happy to wear my "old faithful", a black abaya, my first abaya ever, gifted to me by a sweet sister. It has a scissor hole in the hem from a Muslim Scouts meeting (my fault, not a child's lol) and I have to re-sew the underarm seams periodically. Hands down my favorite abaya EVER. Not stylish at ALL.

You all know by now my predilection for the tie-back, polyblend khimars. Now I've added a couple of overhead abayaat to the mix. I'm learning how to wear them gracefully but the idea of them is uber-appealing. :-)

Now that I'm married to a Tunisian Arab he has less appreciation for my "eclectic" fashion sense. :-) Masha'Allah my husband is very plain and I am usually very plain as well, happy as a lark in my plain abaya and khimar.

But sometimes... the fashion schizophrenia flares up and I long, just for a day, to be the Arabian Princess or the Indian Rani or even the Funky American Revert. Just for a day... :-) 

I feel guilty when I see my closetful of clothes. Correction, closet FULL of clothes. Most of them unworn now, feeling unloved, unneeded. :-D I still have affection for them but no opportunity to wear them. In my home, I'm a busy mama and I don't have the time or the reason to wear something nice. Outside of my home, I dress modestly which for my husband means on abaya and which for me generally means abaya. (I feel some other things are very modest but have worn abaya so long, by my own accord, and now as a means to please my husband, that I wouldn't change.)

Any of you out there fellow fashion faux-pas-ers? :-)

March 21, 2011

Jane Eyre and my existential crisis

Awesome book, please read!
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I've been re-reading some classics lately; I know I read Jane Eyre 20 some odd years ago. Thanks to time (and my stroke) I really didn't remember anything at all about it so it was really nice to re-read.

In my opinion this is the type of love story a Muslimah can read and not fall into haram. There are no "turgid manhood" descriptions ;-) or "sexscapades". There is simply a deep and abiding love which flourishes between the two main characters, Jane and Mr. Rochester, her employer. It is the type of love most of us have dreamed of; to be cherished and persued and placed upon a pedestal. However, level-headed Jane doesn't want any of that. She is content with her simple life and her simple ways and provokes Mr. Rochester in 100s of ways by refusing his gifts and accolades.

One particular excerpt from this book touched a chord deep within me. Please read it closely. This is after they have discovered their mutual love and have allowed it to grow. This is not a euphemism for sex btw; it means they are finally able to acknowledge their passion for each other and proceed to marry.

"My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature: of whom I had made an idol."

Subhanallah. Subhanallah. Subhanallah. Now, my first thought upon reading this passage was "Authubillah!" We know this is shirk, this is the most severe form of disobedience to Allah, to assign Him partners, to worship the creation NOT the Creator. This was my visceral, gut reaction.

Next came a deep sense of understanding. This is the romantic ideal perpetrated by western culture. This is how I was raised: to believe a knight on a white horse would come in to swoop me off my feet and carry me off. At least every fairytale I ever read told me that. :-) Or at very least, I would marry what is now known as a "metrosexual": a man who looks great, loves his wife, dresses to kill, and will help do the laundry and the dishes. :-) In movies, in books; our very culture is steeped in this idea of one person being your everything. To the exclusion of all else.

It is a powerful drug, to be loved so. To be needed and wanted and desired, to be made the center of someone's life. This, dear sisters, was me before Islam. In my darkness, in my lost wanderings, I sought to fill the void inside me with love. Not the worst idea for sure; better than drugs or alcohol or some other utterly self-destructive habit. I just wanted to be loved, right? And cherished. And needed. I wanted to be necessary to someone's life. I wanted to be their center. I needed to be their anchor. And oh boy, you better believe I needed them to be mine!

So wonder why my search wasn't too successful? Wellll let's see: because no one person can be everything for someone else. I was willing to give 100% of myself but I demanded the same in return. I was sincere and giving and loving...and I was exacting and I was demanding. I had so much to give but I wanted everything they had in return. Everything of value. I don't mean their money.

I wanted their time, their energies, their love, their passion, their emotion. I wanted it all for me. I wasn't trying to be selfish; I'd been involved in too many one-sided relationships to feel I should settle anymore. I wanted the romance-novel love; where the hero dashes in, saves the girl, and proceeds to make every decision for her and her life. :-) Personal accountability zero. If I don't make the calls, I can't take the blame. Really it was all very tidy for me.

Except for that one little annoyance I listed above: it just isn't realistic and I didn't find it. I did find some temporary satisfaction; a couple who could stay the course for a few months. I had one long-term relationship that lasted 3 years. It was doomed from the start and that very knowledge encouraged me. I poured all of myself into loving him, into "fixing" him. I knew he was just "a little" broken but I was so sure in the power of my love, so sure I could redeem him, transform him, "fix" him.

Alhamdulillah I emerged 3 years later, scarred, hardened a bit, but much wiser. I knew I needed something but I was sure it was a someONE not a thing. I had looked now for years, searching high and low, only to be eventually disappointed every time. I was practically begging God to come into my life only I didn't know how to ask. Or Who. I had stopped believing in "God" so long ago, only held onto some shreds of hope my atheistic husband hadn't managed to find and destroy. It was this hope which kept me going, kept my afloat, kept me searching even when I was going down the wrong path, "barking up the wrong tree".

This, my dear sisters, is how I came to Islam. I came as spiritually destitute as any one could be; I came on my hands and knees, bereft of pride, my smug assurance in my own abilities weakened. I was ready to find Allah...  I just didn't know where or what to call Him. :-)

Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah! Allah led me to Islam and I knew I was home. I didn't have to search any more, debase myself, remake and remold myself into someone else's vision of me. This is who I am, who I was, who I was searching for. All of these qualities were inside me waiting to be coaxed out, encouraged, and allowed to take root. My heart was ready for Islam, for submission. I had been submitting myself to the will of MEN for so long it seemed nothing to submit to Allah. I welcomed it; finally, finally I had found the One worthy of my complete submission. And here was my Creator, who loved me so much, was so patient with me, waited for me to be ready... I knew my gift of love and sacrifice would not be thrown back in my face like an unwanted gift.

So when sisters or strangers, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, question me about all I've had to "give up" I want to respond: "Exactly what did I give up? I gave up searching and searching for someone to fill this void, I gave up having to strive to live up to society's expectations and always feeling I was falling short, I gave up feeling I was just not quite (fill in the blank) enough. I gave up trying to fit into a mold that wasn't me, I gave up selling myself so cheaply."

And what did I gain? I have gained self-respect and sisterhood and peace. I have gained self-confidence that stems from knowing my place in this life and knowing that I submit myself ONLY to my Lord, my Rabb. I have gained the chance to earn Paradise, to enter the beautiful gardens of Jannah insha'Allah, amin!!! What I have earned is past accounting and what I have paid is negligible.

I am a Muslim, alhamdulillah!

March 19, 2011

Excellent article on racism and Islam

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I copied this article from Sound Vision an Islamic multimedia company. It was so moving I wanted to post it here for ya'll to read. Insha'Allah you will gain some benefit of it. I just ask you to open your eyes and hearts and see if you are guilty of any of this.

As a convert, I've definitely been on the receiving end (Arabs thinking I shouldn't wear abayaat, Indians/Pakistanis wondering why I have a shalwar kameez, all my sunni peeps thinking I must be shia because I wear some Iranian styled clothes, blah blah blah!) and to be honest, I've been guilty of it myself. Not in an ugly, demeaning way, but where I've had a preconceived idea of someone based on their culture.

33 Tips to launch your personal Jihad against Racism and Nationalism

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

Alhamdu lillah, all Masjids in the world are open to all people. Muslims pray shoulder to shoulder with no regard to any national, ethnic, class or color differences. Islamic egalitarianism still gains converts from the untouchables of India to Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali in America. However, this dominant reality is sometimes marred by individual behavior, which is contrary to the ideals of Islam.

Some Muslims fall for the age-old trick of Satan and start playing the silly inferiority/superiority game. Some stereotype others and tolerate prejudice against other human beings, despite the fact that all human beings are equal, from the same man and woman. (Quran 49:13)

How should we save ourselves from falling into this trap? How should we help others stay above the killing fields of racism and nationalism? What can we do now to become a better human being? Here are some tips on how we can launch our personal Jihad against this disease.

The Prophet said: If one of you sees something evil he should change it with his hand. If he cannot, he should speak out against it, and if he cannot do even that he should at least detest it in his heart, this being the weakest form of faith (Sahih of Muslim).

1. Knowledge is power

Do we know what the Quran and Sunnah say about racism? The Quran established individual character as the criteria of success, not color, tribal or economic status of a person. The Prophet preached and established these ideals in the peace sanctuary of Madinah and Islamic society which he developed.

Let our parents, children, Islamic schools, and Imams learn and teach the ideals of Islam.

2. Ask the only One who can really help

We can get rid of racial and prejudicial attitudes within ourselves with the help of God.

Make sincere and focused Dua for those people and groups who remain oppressed, subject to humiliation, subject to difficult behavior. After all, Dua increases love between people (Hadith).

Also make Dua for yourself and others to gain an appreciation of others. Pray together with your family for those friends in the Masjid or at your job who are from other groups. And remember that dua without actions is nothing.

3. Hate the hatred

The Prophet never hated anyone. He neither hated Makkah nor the Makkans who tortured him, starved him and his people and killed his companions, may Allah be pleased with them. He continued to pray even for his worst enemies like Abu Jahl.

4. Make sincere Tawbah (repentance to God)

If we have hurt someone through our tongue or attitude, we need to seek God's forgiveness. It is also important to seek the personal forgiveness of that persons as well if s/he is within reach as an Islamic pre-requisite to seek God's forgiveness. There has to be a personal acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a commitment to change. This is done by turning to God and seeking His Forgiveness for looking down on other beings due to a false belief in someone's inferiority.

5. Watching Our Tongue

The Prophet said: Whoever can give me a guarantee for what is between his two jaws and between his two legs, I can assure him Paradise (Sahih of Bukhari).

Keeping this in mind, effort should be made to curb useless talk, which can lead to worse things like backbiting and slander of individuals and groups of people.

Defining backbiting, the Prophet said that backbiting is anything that you say about someone in his absence that may displease him. When he was asked by one of the Companions, ‘even if he is as I describe him?' he responded by saying, If he is as you describe him then you are guilty of backbiting, otherwise you are guilty of slander (which is worse than backbiting) (Sahih of Muslim).

To add emphasis to how awful slander is, consider that the Prophet said it is worse than adultery because if a person commits adultery, Allah can forgive him if he repents. But a slanderer will not be forgiven until the person he had been speaking about forgives him (Baihaqi).

6. No ethnic jokes please

Ethnic jokes are not innocent humor. They carry the virus of bigotry most of the time. Think about how hurt we feel when some comedians depict Muslims as terrorist.

Consider this verse of the Quran: "O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one's brother after having Faith. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed wrong doers" (Quran 49:11).

Such silly and hurtful jest clearly goes against the type of manners Allah and His Prophet expect from us. It's a sin in Islam to ridicule or laugh at any beings, and if they are a group, the sin is stronger.

7. Don't call people, Kalla, Gora, Desi, Chapta, Abd or Rafeeq

Muslims disliked being called Moslems, Moor, or Mohammaden. We insist that since we write our name Muslims that's how everyone should spell our name. So let's call other people with the names they like for themselves. Fair enough?

Alhamdu lillah most Muslims don't do this. But once in a while we hear names, which we need to challenge. The Urdu term "Kalla" is used by some for African-Americans. While it literally means "black", the way it is used most of the time is demeaning. The same is true for the Urdu term Chapta or Peela, which refers to the color, and features of South East Asian people. Gora in Urdu for Caucasians falls in the same category although it also just means a white person, but is used to convey historical distrust and betrayl of the white colonial lords. Desi on the other hand is mostly used to describe stereiotypical images of South Asians "curry smelling" Indians and "pakis." It is often used as a term of self hate in the second generation.

Similarly some Arabs use the term Abd to describe black people, despite the fact the Prophet catogarically prohibited use of this term. Another term Zingy is used for the same people in the demeaning way. Some Arabs use the term Rafeeq (literally comrade) for Pakistanis in demeaning way similar to how the "N word" is used in the west. Ibn al Khinzeeer (son of a pig), a reference to whoever you are angry with amongst some Arabs and specially towards Jews is not only unworthy of the followers of Prophet Muhammad, it is a direct violation of his command not to insult one another's parents (Sahih of Bukhari and Muslim).

Even the Islamic term Kafir has to be use with care. Not every non-believer is a Kafir. This Quranic term, regarding those who rejected Allah's guidance after recognizing it to be the truth, should not become a term of hate.

8. Challenge the offensive, names, jokes and comments

If someone uses a hurtful name in our presence, we might simply say, "Don't call him/her that. Call him/her by his/her name." If you are the victim, simply say "That kind of joke offends me," or say "You don't like to be called bad names and neither do I".

We should feel comfortable in pointing out unfairness. It is very rewarding in the eyes of Allah, since by challenging this we are following three of Allah's commands:

Stand up against injustice

Discourage the evil

Don't call people with bad nicknames

It's part of a Muslim's duty to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Let's do it with wisdom and patience. Be polite but firm.

9. Do not generalize

If you observe something wrong in some persons' behavior, don't generalize it to their ethnic group. Attribute it to those persons not their group. For example, I have heard several times that Arabs in Chicago run liquor stores. While it is true that there may be 100 or so Arabs who have this type of Haram business, they are a small minority among hundreds and thousands of Arabs living in Chicago. Without condoning what they are doing, we must see that there are Muslims of other nationalities who are also involved in Haram businesses.

10. Defend the abused group

Note unique and special qualities in other people. Show the positive points of an ethnic group that is being made fun of. Whether it's the hospitality of the Arabs, the respect for elders in Indo-Pakistani culture, the resilience of African-Americans, for instance, point out the positive to those who don't want to see the other side of the coin.

If you're still tongue-tied, consider this Hadith: the Prophet said: If a man's Muslim brother is slandered in his presence, and he is capable of defending him, and does so, Allah will defend him in this world and in the next. But if he fails to defend him, Allah will destroy him in this world and in the next.

11. Speak everyone's language

What do you do when there are say, three people, one of whom speaks your native language and the other doesn't?

Too often, many of us do the wrong thing.

It creates suspicion and discomfort if you speak a language in front of others who may not understand it. Use a common language understandable to all. So if Br. Muneer and you both understand Arabic, but Sr. Yasmeen doesn't, speak in English instead, so she doesn't feel left out. If you observe this behavior tell them it's unfair. If you are the one who is doing the wrong thing, then don't defend it by saying, "you should learn our language".

The Prophet said: When three people are together, two should not talk secretly, leaving the third alone since this may grieve him. (Sahiah of Bukhari & Muslim).

12. Read about others

Read about people to gain positive insights into other cultures. Read what they have written about themselves. Read about, for instance, what African-Americans have contributed to America. Even better, read an autobiography like that of Malcolm X, which recounts the personal experience and struggles of one Muslim African-American. Much of what he has to say is also a reflection of the experience of other African-Americans.

13. Share your joy

Have you invited people other than your cultural group at an occasion of happiness in your family?

Whether it's Eid, a wedding or the Aqiqa of a newborn baby, expand your next guest list to include those of different backgrounds. Sharing joy is a great way for people of all ethno-cultural groups to bond.

14. Share your sorrow

Have you visited a sick colleague, class fellow or a neighbor of another ethnic group? Have you been to the funeral of other people?

Relationships are not only built on the good times, but on the hard ones as well. Visit the sick, attend funerals, and console those who need it, and don't reserve your sympathy to those of the same skin color or country.

15. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach

Have you learned to cook the food of other cultures? Have you shared your food with them?

I know people who have become Muslim because of the hospitality of Muslims. Food is a great way to bring people together, and to get to know others. Share food with neighbors. Food is power. Use it!

16. Smiling is a charity

Who do you smile at? Do you limit your grins to groups you know, especially your ethno-cultural group?

Smiling is charity (Sahiah of Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi), not just for your people. Expand your smile "directory" to include all. Smile opens close hearts.

17. Salam is for everyone

Quran demands that we greet others better than the way they have greeted us. (Quran 4:86).

After Juma do you say Salam and meet only those people you know or do you initiate a Salam to those from another ethnic group?

Consider this Hadith: The Prophet said: Those who are nearest to Allah are those who are the first to give a greeting (Sahiah of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

Saying Salam is also a great way to increase your love for a fellow Muslim, no matter where they are from.

Consider this Hadith: the Prophet said: You will not enter Heaven until you believe, and you will not believe until you love each other. Let me guide you to something which will cause you to love each other: spreading the greetings of peace (Assalamu alaikum) (Sahiah of Muslim).

18. Hug someone today

Have you ever experienced a hug by a Muslim you never knew? What a feeling. This one just for the sake of Allah. Try it on a Muslim in your masjid and then introduce yourself to him. He is your brother. Isn't he?

19. Beyond Salam

Alhamdu lillah, we see a lot of faces of different ethnic groups in masjids, but have we gone beyond Salam with them?

Have we invited this brother or sister to our home this year? Let's take the initiative to go beyond the Salam and invite a fellow human being of a different background over to our place. Don't wait for a specific occasion. Just invite them over for dinner, lunch, or a game of basketball.

20. A Masjid tour of other neighborhoods

While in a number of cities in America and South Africa, Masjids tend to become ethnically homogeneous due to the population patterns of the city; we can try to overcome this isolation.

Let's visit other neighborhoods and pray in a Masjid there. So if you're an Urdu speaking person, visit the predominantly Arab mosque. If you're an Arab visit the mostly African-American mosque. If you're Turkish, visit the mostly Bengali mosque.

Let's defy the neighborhood divisions which we did not create. Let's take our Sunday school children on field trips to different neighborhoods and Masjids. Providing opportunities for interaction with people of diverse groups instills understanding.

Studies show that children playing and working together toward common goals develop positive attitudes about one another.

21. Do your duty, but a little differently

Who do you usually give your Zakat to?

Is it just to your ethnic group or do you use it as one of the categories-to win over hearts? Plan to give your next Zakat to a community or individuals who are not of your ethno-cultural background. This will be a practical way to give of yourself to those who are your brothers and sisters, and those who are in need.

22. Strangers should find an open Masjid door

How are you at welcoming strangers in your Masjid?

Do you move forward in welcoming, guiding and introducing them to others or do you allow a stranger to remain a stranger while you busily chat with your own cultural group? Open your heart and arms to the new brother or sister who may have come to the Masjid with great difficulty. Welcome their choice and don't let them regret visiting your mosque.

The security staff at Masjids need to have sensitivity training as well.

23. Watch those expressions and attitudes

Did you see that twist of the mouth, or the raise of that eyebrow?

Sometimes, it's not just words, but facial expressions that also indicate ethno-racial degradation and intolerance. It's not enough for us to just avoid verbal jabs. Language is not just about words; it's about body language too.

24. Defend yourself

If you are the target of ethno-racial humor, slurs or attacks defend yourself.

First seek refuge in Allah from Satan Following the Prophet's advice, if you are angry, remain silent, sit down, move away or make wudu.

If you feel your security is being threatened seek any help available.

If you are attacked defend yourself if you are capable of it.

Document and pursue the case with local police, the department of human resources and anti-hate groups.

God tolerates a person who is being wronged to respond in the same coin but He prefers us to be better: "The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Verily, He likes not the Zalimun (oppressors)" (Quran 42:40).

An ex-Marine member of the white supremacist movement the Ku Klux Klan became Muslim due partly to the polite and confident response of a Muslim doctor to his racist remarks calling him a "dog eater".

This is an example of following Allah's instructions that ask us to respond to evil with something which is better.

25. Stand up for justice

Take an active stand against injustices like profiling and discrimination in the workplace or at schools. Speak out against someone or a group being paid less because of their national background.

"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it is against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better Protector to both (than you) are. So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do" (Quran 4:135).

26. Work with other anti-racism groups

Volunteer time to organizations and groups which are working for an anti-racism agenda or for social justice. All the prophets were sent to help people take a stand for establishing justice (Quran 57:25). Working for a common cause brings people closer. Islam encourages cooperation with non Muslims for the common good of humanity (Quran 5:2).

27. Multi-ethnic Marriages

Some Fiqh books that dislike and discourage multi-ethnic marriages amongst Muslims are wrong because they conflict with the Sunnah of the Prophet and with the Quranic principle of all people being one.

For instance, the Fiqh manual Reliance of the Traveler, in a chapter on Kafa'a (compatibility), while recognizing that there should be no consideration of skin color in marriage, does mention that a match between a non-Arab man and an Arab woman is unsuitable (page 523).

I am not advising anyone to offer him or herself for a social experiment. But we must accept our children's choice with an open heart instead of resistance based on the false interpretation of compatibility (Kafa'a) offered by some Fiqh books.

28. Jihad with your taxes

Your personal jihad against racism must also include a collective effort against racism and nationalism. Your taxes are used to institute policies, some of which you may agree with and others that you may completely oppose. You can use your tax money to fight against racism by supporting policies or institutions that encourage respect for differences. We should support subsidies to human rights organizations dedicated to fighting racism, specifically.

29. Vote against racism

Support candidates who oppose racism and nationalism both within America and without. For example, former US president Bill Clinton strongly campaigned against the use of tobacco in America but ironically he also helped the US tobacco companies to achieve record profits by helping them sell and promote tobacco in the Third World. If tobacco is wrong for America, it is wrong for every other human being as well. Let's not tolerate "Cancer for other people."

30. Vote for multi-ethnicity in your Masjid

Make sure your Masjid in North America has a multi ethnic board and leadership. Follow the Prophet in engineering social change. He paired each Ansar and Muhajir as brothers as he started building the Islamic society of Madina.

31. Put money where your mouth is

There are a number of organizations dedicated to fighting racism in America at various levels. Support them by your donation. If you don't want to donate, establish your own organization against bigotry.

32. Raising race free children

Islam does not recognize race, but the society we live in does. Bridging this gap is the challenge of Muslim parenting.

Choose to live in a multi-ethnic community. Children with multi-ethnic interaction grow up to be better human beings.

Participate in your PTA with an antiracist agenda.

Help your children feel good about themselves. Children who feel good about themselves are less likely to be prejudiced.

Welcome children of all background in your home.

Debrief them if they come home with a racial slur from the school.

33. Let's have a straight niyyah to please Allah

Let's make our intentions (niyyah) that we will strive to build human society based on the equality of all human beings as Allah has asked us to do. Insha Allah, He will reward us for each step we take to get ourselves, our community, and our society rid of racism and nationalism.


As Muslims who are dehumanized day and night by the media and opinion leaders, it is our duty to emerge as a better human being through this ordeal instead of engaging in the satanic game of counter dehumanization.

Whoever starts to look at others as lower beings first kills his own humanity. Prejudice, racism and nationalism are equal opportunity diseases. Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews, all have a choice of either using their teachings to rise up for the ideals of humanity or sink in the killing fields of nationalism.

Dehumanization of Native Americans contributed to their almost complete annihilation. Dehumanization of Africans as nations and individuals resulted in generational loss of life and heritage. Dehumanization of Jews and Gypsies is associated with the mass murder by Nazis. Dehumanization of Japanese Americans contributed to their being sent to internment camps in America. The dehumanization of Muslims in America after the 9/11 tragedy is responsible for the virtual internment camp Muslims in America live today and the tortures in Abu Gharib and abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

Unfortunately there is a demonization of America taking place in the world, which by and large does not know how a majority of Americans today feel about the historical wrongs done on their names. Even the strong American reaction to the Abu Gharib images did not slow down the harm neo-con policies are causing to American standing in the world.

Racism and nationalism are twin evils which have killed more people in last one hundred years than probably all the wars in last one thousand years including crusades and massacres of the infamous Genghis Khan.

Let's launch our personal Jihad against racism. May God be with you. Allahu Akbar.

Yum, yum! ***EDITED***

*****EDITED:  Sorry I forgot to add cooking instructions for the fudge. See below.*******

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I've been having a good cooking week. Since I hadn't felt well for a while we ate more conveniently. :-) Carryout pizza one night, sandwiches and salad another. Alhamdulillah I've been able to pick up the slack again, much to my family's delight.

Here are 2 recipes I wanted to share just because they go over so well. This one is for my "loaded potato salad". I can not eat regular potato salad anymore. I got the recipe from my big sister and our entire family adores it! Now A loves it too. Score!

Oh the yummy goodness!!!
OK so this isn't really difficult just a bit time consuming because you have to boil your potatoes. I used a mix of red, white, and blue (yep blue!) baby potatoes this last time to save on peeling them but I really prefer it without the skins. Healthier and easier with but taste better without.

3 pounds potatoes, cut into small dice
3 eggs (boiled or boil with potatoes)
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound turkey bacon, finely chopped and cooked til crisp
1/2 cup mayo (more or less to taste)
2 tbsp mustard (more or less to personal taste)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or dried parsley for color

Peel, cut and boil your potatoes. If you cut them into smaller pieces it takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Boil your eggs with the potatoes if you don't have some already in the fridge. You can also leave them out if you like. I cook my bacon in the microwave; it take about 5 minutes and when it is cooled you have to crumble it back up because they tend to stick together. Mix the onion, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper and parsley while potatoes are cooking. Refrigerate and let flavors blend.

Drain potatoes. I always put some ice in the colander and drain with cold water so they will cool quickly. Or you can spread them out on a pan to cool. Do not put them in your mayo mixture until cooled or it will make your mayo melt. Yuck!

When bacon and potatoes are cool, mix in the mayo mixture and add your cheese. This is decadently yummy and goes great with sandwiches, burgers, or any grilled food. Enjoy!

I also decided to make a dessert the other night. We had grilled chicken salad which is pretty light so I decided to make a rich dessert. I found a recipe in my Food Network cooking magazine for easy nutty fudge.

Close up, you can see the nuts and coconut
This is ridiculously easy and verrrry rich. I cut it into 1" squares, no joke. It makes an 8"x8" pan and is too much for our family! It keeps well in the fridge alhamdulillah but I might share some with neighbors.

1 twelve ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli which was only 10 oz; it was plenty chocolately)
1 fourteen ounce can or sweetened condensed milk NOT evaporated milk!!!
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups nuts (I used walnuts, use what you have/prefer)

Mix chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl and microwave for 3-5 minutes, being careful to stir it and not burn it! Remove and add the nuts/coconut and vanilla. Press into an 8"x8" pan; best if lined with buttered wax paper. Refrigerate til firm.

I actually used about a cup of nuts and then added a half cup of sweetened, dried coconut. These tasted quite a bit like an almond joy candy bar. I cannot stress enough that these are really rich; please cut in small pieces. You'll thank me for it. :-)

Let me know if you make either of these and if you made any changes. Maybe it's something I never thought of!

Ma salaama....

March 17, 2011

If I were a ______ I'd be ______ :-)

This says "peaceful" to me :-)
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I found this on Umm Hamza's blog. She got the idea from here. It's a cute little bit o' fun. Insha'Allah some of you do this also; please leave a comment so I know to go and read yours as well. :-) I'd appreciate a link back to this post of mine if you don't mind.

If I were a month, I’d be September

If I were a day of the week, I’d be Thursday

If I were a time of day, I’d be 5 am

If I were a planet, I’d be demoted like Pluto ;-)

If I were an animal, I’d be a raccoon

If I were a direction, I’d be South-East

If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a well-loved wooden rocking chair

If I were a liquid, I’d be sweet tea with lemon

If I were a gemstone, I’d be a smoky quartz (not very glam, but my favorite)

If I were a tree, I’d be a sturdy old oak tree

If I were a tool, I’d be a screwdriver (indespensible!)

If I were a flower, I’d be morning glories

If I were a kind of weather, I’d be a cool Autumn day

If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a lovely singing voice :-)

If I were a color, I’d be sage green

If I were an emotion, I’d be Passionate

If I were a fruit, I’d be a watermelon

If I were a sound, I’d be a babbling brook

If I were an element, I’d be Iron

If I were a car, I'd be a 1950's Ford pick-up truck with a cream and red body. Yeah I got a thing for them!

If I were a food, I’d be chicken 'n dumplins

If I were a place, I’d be the farmhouse I grew up in as a child

If I were a material, I’d be soft, printed cotton

If I were a taste, I’d be Savory

If I were a scent, I’d smell like sheets drying on the clothesline

If I were an item of clothing, I’d be my favorite denim skirt

If I were a body part, I’d be a pair of capable hands

If I were a facial expression, I’d be a Smile

If I were a song, I’d be the one you can't get out of your head :-)

If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be a pair of comfy leather sandals.

What would you be?

March 16, 2011

I don't have much to say

Look at those brown eyes masha'Allah!
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Aaminah is learning how to smile more naturally for the camera. We had a little early morning photo session the other day. :-)

I bought her this little kameez set online. She loves it and calls it her "India clothes". :-)

Aaminah is soooo cute and funny masha'allah. She is also really intelligent and can do alot for her tender age of 2.5. Here she is drawing a picture:

Early morning pencil work
She loves to make rows of tiny circles. See how perfectly she grasps her pencil masha'Allah?
She turned her paper over and drew this. The eyes are the same size, on the same plane, the mouth has a tiny smile, and all the circles around are the hair, Aaminah said. :-)
Please say "Masha'Allah!".

This isn't a joke...authubillah :-(

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I've spoken about our small town before. Hudson, Mass. It's a quaint, picturesque, fairly typical little New England town. In the year I've lived here I've come to like the vibe here; small town attitude but more diverse (due to proximity to Boston and we have alot of high tech companies here... think Intel, HP, etc...)

We have a beautiful little library that has alot of programs, especially for their size. I just signed up for a new service called "wowbrary" which is available for many public libraries. It lets you know what media is new. OK great. I woke up early (with the same headache I just can't seem to shake for the past 2 weeks) and saw I had my first wowbrary email in my box.

A few new movies, some light fiction, couple of better books... then I saw the above cover. Um yeah. A book on animal husbandry taken to a new level? Nope, a book on teen sex. And we're not talking teen sex as in the grainy film most of us in the US were shown in 4th grade like "You and Your Body" where a girl keeps a journal talking about her "Aunt Flo" (a term I vehemently abhor!!!! lol) or her friend "Dot" instead of just saying her period.

Nope, this is full-on nothing but sex. Not just straight sex either, explaining the difference between say the vaginal opening and a urethra. Here is a lil excerpt for ya'll who might be thinking, Oh Umm A, you're kinda sensitive about this:

"Thinking about having sex? Or just thinking about sex? Well, there's a lot to think about. And if you're a teen, you should get educated before you get busy so that you can make healthy, informed decisions. Written by the host of the popular online Midwest Teen Sex Show, this honest, funny, and in-depth read features chapters on all things sex, from sexual orientation and masturbation, to foreplay, first-time concerns, birth control, and protection against diseases. It also provides answers to questions posed by real teens on things you definitely want to know but might be afraid to ask."

That was the description given by the library website. Below is the description I found by clicking on the "more info" button which sent me to Hmmmmmm. A bit different.

"The cover image of one cow mounting another in silhouette is the first signal that this excellent resource takes a frank, funny approach to sex education. Hasler, a columnist who answers teens’ questions in her own “webisodes” and on the school speaking circuit, is more colloquial than clinical as she delivers a wealth of accurate information. Readers will find basic facts about anatomy, hygiene, and birth control (“Toothpaste is not a spermicide”), but they’ll also discover straightforward coverage of more typically taboo subjects, such as sex toys, fantasies, and fetishes. From definitions of GLBT terms to guides to safe sex, regardless of teens’ sexual orientation, the book’s inclusiveness is rare and welcome. Never judgmental (one section is entitled “Shame, Guilt, and Other Nonsense”), Hasler encourages teens to take ownership of their bodies, make informed decisions, and get help when necessary, especially if they think they have an STD: “Don’t sit around . . . writing e-mails to online health forums.” Lighthearted cartoons and well-chosen resources complete this indispensable guide for teens seeking reliable, explicit facts about healthy sex. Grades 10-12. --Gillian Engberg"

Call me what you will, a book-burning Nazi, an opponent for freedom of speech, I DON'T CARE. No teenager needs to know about sex toys, fantasies and fetishes. This is a sickness, a disease, and I am appalled and sickened that this book was ever written. As I said, I wouldn't have been a fan of the book just from reading the first review, thinking it was too explicit and probably written very tongue-in-cheek when in fact, pre-marital sex is NOTHING to joke about.

However, this second and much more revealing blurb about the book actually sickened me. Do you remember being a teenager? Being so curious about things, all the changes in your body, all the confusing emotions and angst and difficulties that can sometimes be part of the territory? I don't think it's helpful to give them a manual describing all of the variant and deviant behavior one can indulge in or be pulled into.

Even more disturbing was the fact that in a few of the libraries in our area, it is in the YOUNG ADULT section. Here in Hudson our library is part of an area wide coalition that allows members to borrow material by requesting it online or by calling the library. So you have a very wide array of books, movies, etc available. At several of the member libraries this book is available in the Young Adult section which means any child can pull it off the shelf and peruse it's contents.

Alhamdulillah in Hudson at least it's on the Adult level which library cardholders 12 and under cannot access unless a parent is with them. Once they turn 12 or 13 they can apply for an be given free pass to the adult section as well. (Not Adult as in XXXAdultXXX btw just the grown-up area. lol)

I am very interested to hear ya'lls comments/thoughts on this. I know for myself, I would never allow my daughter to read this filth. It brings all the worst elements of western sexuality and lays them out like a buffet for impressionable teens to pick through.

Would you let your child read this? Would you read this? Are you as appalled as I am or do you feel there should be more freedom of information? I am curious to hear.

Leave your comments, please. Ma salaama ya'll...

March 15, 2011

And the hunt is on!

A'salaamu alaikum all ya'll! Yes, I know that's redundant but a) I think it's funny b) it's my blog :-P and c) the southern dialect is full of redundancies, double-negatives (which is actually a positive if my mathematical "book larning" serves me) and all sorts of other little literary gems. We can start a sentence with "And" or "But" and "ain't" is a bona-fide word in it's own right.

Hmmm somehow I got off-topic pretty quickly. Little sleep and an overactive mind equals choppy blog posts. Another little random tidbit: I just pulled a small, puffy-plastic heart sticker off the bottom of my foot. Nice. :-) Aaminah's little gifts that keep on giving. lol

OK soooooo back to our regularly scheduled topic. We are now actively house-hunting! Seems the MST (Muslim Standard Time) also applies to predominantly Muslim owned and frequented businesses. We found (alhamdulillah!) a reputable Shariah-compliant lender (Ijara Loans) and the brothers and sisters there are masha'Allah very nice. However, (and not very surprisingly) between us and them it's taken since November to finalize. Well to be fair after we started we discovered A would be getting a substantial raise (please say masha'Allah!) and had to re-work the loan documents.

Long story short we have our pre-approval letter in hand and are good to go. Actually one point I would like to make on Ijara's behalf is that they are able/willing to do something more in the line of what most 1st time homeowners do which is only pay 3-5% down. We found another company online which required 20% down. Alhamdulillah this is just not feasible for us, especially with the housing market here in Massachusetts.

Another point I would like to bring up. "Where I come from" you can get a niiiiiiice little (or not so little) home with a pretty good sized chunk of land for what we are paying here for well alot less (what we get) for a lot more (what we pay). Alhamdulillah for it all, it all comes out in the wash, so to speak, because I am aware my husband also gets paid more here for a comparable job than he would in Tennessee. Oh I miss home. :-( OK sorry, back on track.

Anyway, in the area where I would want to live in TN you can get this for $200,000 USD:

Almost 3,000 sq ft and an acre lot, beautifully redone inside, mature trees... $189,000
5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a huge beautiful outbuilding that has separated storage areas and is completely finished. The house is $65 per sq foot.

Now here in MA (specifically in the beautiful little town where we live now, Hudson, and where we cannot afford to live in the future as homeowners) this is what the same money will get you:

1,000 sqft (yes you read right) 1 acre (mostly wooded, was surprised at size of lot actually)
  3 tiny bedrooms, 1 bath (yikes!), NOT updated throughout, and get this, $180 per sq ft. Yes. You read that right.  Ay caramba!!!!

Now to get a comparable house in Hudson, here's what you'll be out:

5 br, 4 ba (??!!), and a nice plot of land.

Alright so this bad boy will set you back (ready?) $439,900. Yes. Almost half a mil. Subhanallah. It's $165 per sq ft. I hope you guys find this as interesting as I did plus to realize a little of why I am shocked by our housing search here. I HAD NO IDEA how much houses cost here, especially in our sweet little town. We simply cannot afford to live here. :-( So it's onto an outlying area, such as the big city of Worcester (over a million population. Great. lol)

One nice thing is that the style of older houses here are really architecturally interesting. Things like wooden built-ins (book nooks, small stained glass windows, carved wooden banisters), refinished wood floors, and sometimes stone on the outside at least in small areas. However there's alot of give and take. Either in a less-than-desirable neighborhood (not dangerous, but maybe off a busy area, or house needs work, etc.)

I found a nice house, updated inside (A has the skills but possibly not the time/desire to do renovations), with a yard almost half an acre and located inside the city of Worcester. Of course, we would prefer to live in the countryside but seems here in MA that's an expensive proposition. I hate that A will have a long commute (25 to 35 minutes) because he is on-call weekends and evenings. Sometimes a few weeks can go by without him being called but it's always a possibility.

Regardless, we have to have more room for our family of 6 so insha'allah khair. Here are a few photos of a house we are considering and will see on Thursday insha'Allah:

Almost half an acre, fenced. Alhamdulillah!
I am so happy the brick is a nice color. I don't like the dated "brick red" brick. :-)
Oh be still my beating heart! I love tile and always wanted a closed-top stove. :-) The oven is wall mounted which = great for me achy back.
I like open floor plans; we aren't "formal dining room" kinda people.
1 of 3 bathrooms. Yes, I said it. Finally 1 bathroom for guests. Yippee! And all the baths are updated alhamdulillah.
View from other side. I don't mind vinyl siding (we can't afford a stone house for sure!) and I like the little bit of brick accent as well as the color of the house.
Isn't that a welcoming little entrance way? I loooove front porches but there is a nice deck on the side. Guess that'll have to satisfy my southern roots.

The basement is fully finished and it's huge, 25' by 23' and also has a laundry room which is nice cause I have piles of laundry. Always. Which I really enjoy doing when I have the space. I can imagine having a table for folding and all hangers there as well as bins with everyone's name. Ahhhhhhh sweet laundry. :-)

We are also about 3/10s of a mile away from Coe's Pond and reservoir. It has a public beach so I guess there's swimming. We don't normally frequent places where others are basically naked (to avoid fitnah and impressing the wrong ideals on our children) but with 20 acres, it's more than just the waterfront. A nature preserve within walking distance. Happy girl here!!!!!

Named after the Coe brothers who owned the land. Interestingly, they were the inventors of the famous "monkey wrench". Hmmm New England ingenuity. :-)
Alright so I reallllly like this house so far. It's affordable and has the things I wanted but wasn't sure I would get. Such as updated bathrooms and kitchen (I cannot do nasty, old grout work and tile!), a lovely yard with fence, plenty of room @ 1731 sq ft, and there are TREES. I cannot live on a patch of land without trees. Mature, beautiful, hardwoods. Deciduous only need apply. ;-) I love to watch the changing seasons through the life cycle of trees and it's a guarantee of a beautiful day when I can hear the wind moving through graceful branches.

OK so I realize this is a loooong post and lots of info and photos. I really have come to view ya'll as a part of my extended family, my ummah for sure. :-) I derive as much fellowship and inspiration from my online sisters as I do from many of my IRL acquaintances and I am grateful to Allah for allowing me to expand my horizons in this way.

I'll keep ya'll updated as we go and maybe take my own pics from this house (as well as some others we'll see on Thursday insha'Allah). Please make dua that we are able to find a home and for us to be pleased with the provisions Allah bestows upon us, amin. :-)

Ma salaama....