Tuesday, December 27, 2016

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 so good! But the effects are felt later on - the "high" that you feel comes crushing down leaving you miserable and having no energy to do anything good.
  • Sweet stuff looks bright, yummy, attractive. Just like frivolous things in this world - they appear to be shiny and fun but actually can do more harm for us if it becomes all we focus on and live for.

  • Sweet stuff can be addictive. Didn't mean to eat the whole bar of chocolate? Well, it happened. sweet things have that effect. Its the same as being involved in worldly pursuits - it just keeps going on - it's never enough to just have that big house, now you want to fill it up with stuff. It's tempting and unless you have set your own limits it can become all encompassing in your life and really distract you from your purpose here on earth.
  • Sweet stuff spoil quicker - for example milky desserts if left out wont last very long. Similarly, things in this world do not last long. Unlike doing good deeds thinking about the Hereafter. Shaykh talks about saying one "Subhanallah" - boom, a tree is planted for you in Jannah. Hows that for everlasting?
  • "Green" refers to that which is attractive - like fruit and vegetables when they are just grown are so appealing and fresh. Just like the shiny things in this world can be - items to buy, positions to hold. 

Switching from the sweet to the substantial,
Muslimah 4 Life

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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 bran flakes. We did have some surprise finds such as what smelt like strong green chillies as well as frozen and pre-prepared artichokes which would make for a unique side dish one day I thought to myself mentally building up a menu. Other exciting prospects included knowing that all the ice cream is halaal - so we can enjoy the beautiful ice creams we longed for in the UK but could not have such as Carte 'dor and Cornetto, yippee!

It's also such a pleasure seeing our favourite jelly sweets amply stacked up in the local supermarket - the sour cola bottles you could only get in Dubai and now it's no longer even available at the Dubai airport so we will be shipping these back home alot I imagine!

We pay for our items and pack it all into my hubbys large backpack to transport it back home. Supermarket trip #1 complete!

I have already started my list though of items to look out for at other stores - and for people to bring when they come over to visit Insha Allah!

Shopping it up,

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Towards Perfecting Prayer : how the nations before us went wrong

Listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam, I was really touched by the lessons taught regarding the importance of salaah (prayer).

From Salaam Studios, Shaykh Jangda in a month long Intensive course on Surah Maryam on YouTube eloquently explained how the really bad nations before us that were involved in the worst of sins and evil deeds. It all started with them being neglectful of the prayer. Some scholars interpret being neglectful as being reducing the quality of prayer by rushing, or delaying prayer or just not going to the Musjid at all. Whichever way it was, it was surely all downhill from there. 

Why is that? Well he explains, if you can't be good to Allah ( ie  fulfill His rights), then how can fulfill anyone else's?
It goes like this :

When you choose not to pray your salaah, you are in effect just looking after yourself. So then you stop feeling like helping other people as you are self absorbed with your own desires. That leads on to you interacting with bad people. Then, when at times you  feel a bit guilty, you start seeing the Day of Judgement- not something believable as a reality when you are so busy with having a good time here and now. This is how you can become totally distracted and on the wrong path.

We hear the stories about the people of the past that were destroyed... And it seems to us so distant from us - but are we not also guilty of neglecting the prayers to some extent... So in reality how close are we to becoming that way and how important is it that we halt our negligence of prayer right away!

 Related in Muslim : A man came to the Prophet (saws) and said O Prophet of Allah (saws),what is the act or deed most loved by Allah?The Prophet (saws) replied:  To pray ones prayers on time. The man asked further: What (deed or act most loved by Allah) next? The Prophet (saws) replied: Obedience to ones parents.The man asked further: What (deed or act most loved by Allah) next?The Prophet (saws) replied: Jihaad in the Way of Allah.

Some Very Practical Steps I have been inspired to take to perfect the prayer, as suggested from Shaykh: 

 1. Pray salaah when the time of the prayer starts  -It's a really simple thought, but I found if I do this, I feel more relaxed during and after the prayer. I now live in a country where I am fortunate to hear the adhaan live, giving me every chance possible to do this. Knowing it's a teaching from the sunnah is a great boost as well.

2. If the above is not possible (due to work or another valid  reason), then fix a personal specific time of prayer (within reason of course!), so in your schedule you know that at 2pm everyday you will pray Zuhr, for instance. Then you can work your day around this. Certainly in Europe during winter this became a must as the days were so short, and with an hour or so between the day's prayers I had to set specific times to pray and not miss the time!

3. Work our salaah! When Nabi Muhammad (may peace be upon him), was sad when there was a pause between revelation, he was advised to turn to prayer as a means of still connecting to Allah. We can do the same. All we have to do is turn salaah from being a ritual to it being functional - a source of comfort, a way to connect and speak to Allah. And we know that through reciting Surah Faatiha,  Allah responds to us. How much more meaningful can the prayer now be for us?

Towards perfecting prayers Insha Allah,

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Keeping teaching prayer and charity to my children IN HOUSE!


Came across this whilst listening to the tafseer of Surah Maryam by Shaykh Jangda. Really interesting advice about this verse from the Quraan (19:55).

"He used to enjoin on his people Prayer and Charity, and he was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord"

This is referring to Ismaeel (son of Abraham May peace be upon them both) and we can learn from it the importance of us being the teachers to our own children and family about these two important pillars in Islam. It is not good enough to outsource this to someone outside- no matter how learned. These are fundamental practices in Islam that have so many benefits- such as learning discipline, time management, social awareness etc. If a child learns about prayer from outside, then he associates this very significant aspect of his life with that other than his own parents - and in many ways this is a loss to the parent-child connection. Therefore we should be the ones to teach our children basics like making wudu (ablution before prayer), praying and giving charity. For more specialised areas like hifdh (memorisation of the Quraan) for instance, that would make sense to have an expert to instruct the kids as they have more in depth knowledge and skill. However the basics, we gotta keep that in house :)

I even have an idea to involve my future children Insha Allah in my annual Zakaah (compulsory charity) calculation - let them go around counting their teddy bears and dolls and give out 2.5% of their toys to charity (or better still a poor family we know)- how fun and relevant this can be for them to learn first hand what it means- not just the theory when they hit school.

The full talk on this can be found here: