Turkish life: Lessons from our first Roadtrip: Istanbul is not Turkey


Last month I was really fortunate to go on (our first) roadtrip in Turkey!

I was amazed by the landscape- mountains in the distance, green fields and farms, and the wide open space to breathe! It looks like this:

Beautiful right?
I don't know what I was expecting but  what I saw reminded me how different Istanbul is to the "rest-of-Turkey." Whilst Istanbul is beautiful, and there are beautiful places to walk around and chill especially on the mighty Bosphorus, it just has a more "closed -up" feel to it. Like take Bebek for instance, you can sit near the water edge - but just in a small space and then there's buildings in and around you.

In Istanbul, at least on the modern European side which is what I'm more familiar with, sure there are parks, but it's surrounded by loads of flats and tall buildings. So when driving around your view usually includes  sprawling flats on hills. It's different out in the countryside and even in Izmir, ano…

Sit back and enjoy a response from ALLAH. ALLAH promises!

Greetings on this lovely day of Jumuah (Friday)

I have this thing with effort and reward. I practice it alot. Must be something I picked up growing up. Anyway, it serves me well as it works as motivation to keep me getting things done and working hard.

So it's no wonder that this image shared on a family Whatsapp group hit home for me. It acted as a reminder for me to do my bit : all I need to do is these four things : 1. show gratitude 2. ask of Allah  3. ask for forgiveness and  4. constantly praise Allah
-and then sit back and enjoy a response from ALLAH Alone! 

There are some simple tasbeehs to read for each of these, so this is how I plan to implement.
Gratitude:  سبحان الله  (Subhanallah) Glory be to God Ask of Allah:   لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَـنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ ( La Ilaha Illa Anta Subhanaka Inni Kuntu Minaz Zalimeen)“…There are none worthy of worship besides You. Glorified are You. Surely I am from the wrongdoers.” (21:87)*
Forgiveness :  أستغفر الله‎ (Asta…

My reflections from the book: "When you hear hoof beats, think of zebras"

Book Review: When you hear hoof beats, think of zebras

This book has been on our bookshelf for ages, so it was wonderful to finally read it. These are some  of the very powerful lessons I took out of this book based on interesting Sufi tales:

Seeing Allah in everything and everyone around us - to me this means being in the company of those that remind you of Allah. Everything is a trace of Allah because everything is predestined and from Him. When looking at the creation,even inanimate objects, trace it back to Allah remember to admire the Creator.If you spend your time going after gold in this world, you will have neither the gold nor yourself!Think about what you spend your time, energy and thoughts on between prayers - We think about our life first, and weave our prayers around that. How nice to switch it around to focus on prayers first!Every morning when we get up, we must remember two things- Allah and death - see how different our life will be as a result! We will realise that no…

How has Surah Maryam made me a better person?


 I just completed the tafseer of Surah Maryam, following the intensive series by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. I was motivated to start this when during my early weeks of pregnancy I kept hearing from people around me that Surah Maryam is a very good surah to recite during pregnancy. I researched a bit about the wisdom behind this, but could not find any concrete Hadith to support this notion, and whilst we know all of the Quraan is beneficial to us at any time, I wanted to know why this particular Surah was called out to be one to recite specifically during pregnancy. Well I was not satisfied with a seemingly unsupported claim, and so I decided that instead of only just reciting this surah, I wanted to delve a little deeper and understand the meaning of this surah, and what made it so remarkable and beneficial during pregnancy.

I came across this incredible tafseer series on the surah, and decided to dedicate the months of my pregnancy to completing the whole tafseer by Shaykh.…

Riding the Guidance Train

Listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam by Shaykh Jangda on YouTube and I'm absolutely inspired by this ayah he spoke about from the Holy Quran:

"And those who are guided - He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness."

[Muhammad 47:17] 
The Shaykh explains that the more we follow the guidance that Allah sends us to us - the more guidance Allah will send to us! Such a simple formula, such powerful effects. This is the "guidance train" as Shaykh amusingly terms it.
So when we ask Allah for help and guidance, we shouldn't just stop there - the journey of seeking guidance isn't the end game - clearly what's important is taking on the guidance we are given. Sometimes it comes to us in ways we don't expect - like a maybe a turn of events forcing us to act in a certain way. Other times it can be some sort of inspiration we are given to take a course of action. Either way it speaks to us being conscious and aware so we can perceive …

All that's Sweet is not necessarily Sweeeeet

Chocolate cake and macarons. Strawberry jelly, lemon cheesecake and cronuts. Who doesn't like sweet things? And it's all ok if handled in moderation. 
The issue comes in when we make this our objective, and spend too much money, time and effort on this. And when we dont know when and where to stop and go over any reasonable limits. This point is timely given the festive time of year when sweet indulgences are top of mind - and in full swing for most of us!

Abu Sa'id Khudri reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: "The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act..." Sahih Muslim Listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam on YouTube, Shaykh Jangda explains the metaphor that Nabi Muhammad (May peace be upon him) uses for this world being "sweet" and "green":

We know that things that are sweet are not so good for us, but the allure is always there. It just tastes s…

Turkish Tales : Our First Grocery Shopping Trip


Here in Istanbul, a trip to the supermarket is not the most simple of events I'm afraid to say! Maybe in time it will become second nature, but for now it is a marked event requiring company, Google Translate and a plan for how to bring back the stuff that we buy (as we do not have a car due to logistics of driving here and generally no need).

We chose to go to our local Migros supermarket (a cool five minute walk away from home) and took a huge backpack to hold our purchased items. My hubby's basic Turkish saved us time as we look for rice, low fat milk and cereals in the smart supermarket. And for the rest of the things, we used our friendly Google Translate app to scan items on the shelves especially when distinguishing between tomato paste, tomato puree and chopped tomato (which by the way is a beautiful red and tastes like the fresh delicious tomatoes we enjoyed in Rome).

We didn't manage to find everything on our list such as condensed milk and br…