Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Dream of Sunnah Living

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

I have a rant coming up...it's even drafted out roughly on a notepad page. But in the meantime, before I start venting my amazement at the the irony of our situation, I will share something more lovely, insha'Allah. This is my dream of Sunnah living.

Clothing: A wardrobe of simple dresses, tunics and skirts (waistwraps) made of completely natural fibers. I'm talking about cotton, linen, silk, wool, and leather. A beautiful linen abaya - the large overcloak that is not sewn closed. These days it usually comes in polyester dolled up with the name "Japanese Fursan." I will simply put my abaya over me, just as they did in the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and hold it to cover my face when necessary - no sewn and tied niqab - just my abaya doing the job. Soft, simple, all leather sewn khuffs and slip on shoes.

My personal hygiene: Miswak toothbrush, honey and olive oil for my skin treat. Ground sidr, lote, or laurel leaves for cleansing. My shampoo made of neem leaf infusion, organic castille soap and a little olive oil. Perhaps some coconut oil and other herbs from the land. Alum stone for deodorant. Water - the best perfume. Antimony - the best make-up. Wudhoo from a clay bowl or pitcher of water, ghusl with the same quantity of water the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam used.

My home: A cob house, made of clay, sand, and straw...with a beautiful earthen, oiled floor. Kitchen stocked with stainless steel and cast iron cookware. Not a piece of plastic in sight. Large pottery or steel platters for the food and a cob oven to bake bread. Sitting on a mat on the floor to eat...with our fingers. Sleeping on palm leaf fiber mats (stuffed a little to make them more comfortable) with leather neck roll pillows. No electricity outlets except in the kitchen and one for the computer. Solar power - off the grid, no reliance on other than Allah's sunshine for our energy insha'Allah.

My surroundings: Land...5, 10, 20, 40, 100 acres. Whatever Allah Wills. A well for water, composting toilets, garden and orchard to feed us fruits and vegetables. A cow and a goat for milk, chickens for eggs, sheep for wool and occasional meat. Homemade cheeses, yogurt, pickles, sundried fruits and veggies.

My day: Waking in the morning in perfect time to pray tahajjud because I made dua' the night before and Allah woke me. Praying, reading Qur'an, waiting for the rooster crow... to signal fajr. Gathering together in the central masjid for the prayer...sharing some 'ilm. Simple breakfast of fruits and yogurt with others. Out to the land, a family/community affair - to gather eggs, milk, pick vegetables and fruits for the day's provision. Lessons, Qur'an, crafting, love between me and my husband, children, sisters... Communal prayers and meals, d.i.y. projects, sharing of skills and talents.

My dreams: A couple of small cob cottages - for a Muslim retreat. A form of income, and a beautiful Islamic respite for couples. Summer camps...activities, learning, growing, in a halal and positive environment. Empowerment projects, to teach other Muslims how to live self-sufficiently, according to the Sunnah. Islamic cottage industry - Sunnah Threads...selling homemade Islamic clothes. All projects that our children can grow into and earn a living from, never having to rely on non-Muslims for their income or their sustenance. Never having to compromise their Islam for a dollar to buy food or a roof over their head.

Well, I could go on and on...and although it seems like a fairy tale, much of it has been in the plans and research for the past 5+ years, masha'Allah. Our lifestyle has been heading that way...making our own bread, cheese, yogurt, etc. from scratch. Growing our food in the backyard to see how much we could grow, and how well. Replacing unnatural items with natural, and going back to the Sunnah in our eating, sleeping, and personal products. We even saw 40 acres in New Mexico for $18,000 last night...may Allah send us all that and more next year when we are, bi ithn Allah, ready to buy land - ameen. We have the cob building book, we have the details on the livestock and growing season. We even made lists of the things we plan to grow insha'Allah. It may be a dream, but with Allah and pure intentions, all things can become realities...and we may be able to leave a legacy for generations to come.

Oh Allah, You have inspired us to this...Guide us and make it a reality - ameen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Ever Happened to Ridaa ( رضاء) ?

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah.

How many discussions, investigations, and disagreements have you come across regarding gelatin, whether the meat in non-Muslim countries is halal, if it's okay to eat McDonalds because it would cause unreasonable hardship if these foods weren't allowed? How about the one regarding taking a riba' mortgage to own a house, because that is the only way one can own a house in the west? Lately I read a question and answer on www.bakkah.net regarding "adult toys." That isn't the exact wording used, but I refuse to go there and I'm sure you know what I mean. Well, audhu b'Illahi! The poor shaikh they asked, who was I believe a Professor at Umm Al Qura' University in Mecca Al Mukarramah, was at a loss. He gave daleel saying that it is outside of what was legislated in the Shariah.


I am tired of reading long treatises about how the gelatin from a pig has changed its form to such a state that it is pure as the driven snow and we can eat it happily because it is now halal. Give me a hadith that the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, ate gelatin - any gelatin - and maybe I'll start looking at the issue. Give me a hadith that he ate pig gelatin and said it had changed its form into something halal and tayyibaat to eat, and I'll accept it gladly. But last time I checked, there wasn't a single hadith to that effect.

Of course, this will lead me right back to why we say we follow the Sunnah but don't apply that to our food or other aspects of our practical living. A comment was made, regarding the adult toys, that the students should not have asked the question because if it isn't specifically stated as forbidden then it is considered okay. The questions may lead to a ruling to make it haram and restrict them. Ahhhh...the warning of asking too many questions. So, here it comes...Mai's extremism at its best.

To even have adult toys, one would need to in some way look at something haram. How did adult toys come into origination? Where are they found? So, do you go online to one of those "places" to buy them? What do you look at on those sites? So, you go into an adult shop to buy them...don't even talk to me about any kind of permissibility to go there. I find it very hard to believe that the buyer of adult toys sets the computer to no images and goes shopping sight unseen for the items. So tell me, why are students of knowledge asking about something which, by its very origin, is haram? We aren't talking about little experiments between a husband and wife, which is nobody's business anyway and won't see the light of day to constitute a question. We are talking about things that require open discussion about bedroom intimacy - something forbidden in Islam.

So...in my opinion, gelatin, adult toys, fast food, mortgages, etc. are all examples of issues that have arisen out of a lack of ridaa (contentment with what Allah has given us). What on earth is the big deal about buying halal or finding an alternative? What is wrong with having normal marital relations? What is the problem with buying a $6,000 house at an auction and fixing it up, rather than a $150,000 house that requires a mortgage. Better yet, go the authentic Sunnah way and build yourself cob homes...now that's back to the Salaf!

Every time I hear words to the effect, "I don't want this food, I feel like something else," I remember the verse in Baqarah where Bani Israel were complaining about being tired of the food Allah was sending down to them. They were told to go down to any town or city and find what they were seeking. They were in a state of shame. No ridaa. Our greed, our quest to have everything we want when we want it without any restrictions = no ridaa.

May we be filled with contentment for everything Allah has given us. May we bask in the pleasures of simple things and may they fill us with contentment because they draw us closer to Rasool Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Tired of all These Stories About Love

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Subhaan Allah, day in day out I see things from Muslims about love. Falling in love, being in love, losing the love, blah de blah blah blah. Okay, two sentences and you are already thinking, "she seems lika a miserable, loveless woman!" LOL! Well, when are we going to stop chasing the fairy tale movie stuff? When are we going to get serious and differentiate between like and lust and love? When are we going to just want with every ounce of our being for another person to be pleasing to Allah in everything they do? I feel that there is too much lacking when it comes to the love for Allah, love for the good and the best end for others.

Allah Knows, I've been through all kinds of things in my friendships and marriage, and it surely would not stand today if it was based on the fairytale, like, lust, type of love that many base their relationships on. It is through pushing through, plodding on, praying for the best for your partner that gets you to a better place and through the tough times. It is knowing that staying with this person is solely for the ultimate success of Allah's pleasure and His ultimate reward insha'Allah.

I don't care if you love my bubbly personality or not. I don't care if you think I'm attractive, intelligent, or any other nice things. I care that you want me to get to Jennah and be as close to Allah and the Siraat Al Mustaqeem as possible on the way. I care that you support me in every way you can to keep me on the Siraat and help me please Allah more and more. That's love to me, and that's what I give...in any way I can. We don't have to shove it down each other's throats. We can find subtle ways of drawing each other closer to the Path. We can use different approaches, and even just make dua' without any other intervention or action. But therein, in my extreme thinking, is the real love that will stand through everything and always keep our hearts and intentions pure, bi ithn Allah.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Parenting Problems....

Bism'Illah wa as salaamu alaikum.

I stuffed a few things into my Q&A with our imam recently, and one of them was regarding parenting. What does one do when the husband believes that it is okay for the children to watch movies or other programs with music, uncovered women, un-Islamic behavior, etc. Oh, it doesn't need to be every day, it may be just for certain situations or as a "treat."

I'm beginning to HATE that word "treat."

Well, the imam said, "It is a big mistake to let your children watch things with music or any other haram elements." Phew! I felt like I wasn't going crazy, wasn't really so terribly extreme in my thoughts that if it contains haram elements then it is simply sending a message to your children that it's okay to compromise on Allah's Rules and Prohibitions just a little, now and then. It's like saying, "hey, it's haram but that's okay just this time...and just so you can learn in a fun way...and just so I can give you a "treat" because I can't come up with something totally halal to do with you, or don't want to go to that effort.

Of course, that then led to the question, "What do we, as spouses, do about it?" He said, talk to your husband (wife) about it. Well, I know there are some for whom that did not work. Then he said, turn down the volume so they don't hear the music. Hmmm...fine if it is only small bits of song, but if the music is in the background then that doesn't work and they end up listening to it anyway. Then he said, the most important thing is to find alternatives. Yes, find Islamically acceptable, good, positive alternatives so that what you take away is replaced with something else.

Alhamdul'Illah, we have provided many alternatives for our children from online sources that have proved both beneficial and halal and other physical activities. However, the problem itself is rooted in a culture that expects and requires "entertainment" and cannot do without it. Sitting on one's backside staring at a screen is so much easier than getting oneself in gear and going out to do something, or playing a board game. All is entertainment, but they vary in degrees of benefit and halal aspects. I'm sick, sick, sick of shaytaan.

Living Sunnah-Style!

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi! Yesterday our friends cleared out most of the furniture in our house. Oh what joy to see empty spaces where the sofas, bedroom furniture, and dining table were! This was a major step back to Sunnah living in our home; one I have been waiting for excitedly, masha'Allah.

So, I laid out an unused cotton curtain and placed our pasta with vegetables and cheese sauce on one big platter, and we sat around and ate from one plate masha'Allah. Not only that, I showed the children what two ways the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was reported to sit to eat and they chose which of those ways they wanted to try. I reinforced about eating from the food nearest and my 3-year-old, who is sometimes lazy about eating dinner, ate beautifully masha'Allah. We reaped the blessings of having a communal plate, eating together, emulating the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam, and having enough left over that I don't have to make lunch today! Does it get much better than that, I ask?

When bedtime was drawing near, I set up places for the girls on the floor - the two youngest in their play tent with pillows and the older on her sleeping bag. I put down camping pads on our wooden floor, popped a blanket and a thin quilt over them, and that was the bed for hubby and I. A cotton sheet over the top and we were good to snooze! Oh, there is more to be done to make it a healthier and more authentic experience: natural fiber and filling pillows, natural mat underneath, but at least we are finally on the floor wa al hamdu l'Illah!

These are baby steps, and there is so much more to do, but I'm grateful to be here right now...a little bit closer to the goal. When I think of the possessions, the ostentation, the excess of our lives, these small changes seem like victories against shaytaan and his materialistic plots. Please, ya Rabbi Allah, I beg You to bring us to a better way of living and reality - ameen!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yummy Halal Toxic Treats

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum.

Here's a thought that has come to me. People have become acculturated into thinking that food that is harmful for your health, or junk, is a treat. How on earth is it a treat to eat something bad for you? Can one really be so controlled by their desires that they cannot find something healthy and wholesome that is equally or even more delicious?

What I bake is whole grain, naturally sweetened, halal, and healthy maashaa Allah.... and people love it! So why on earth would they think a packaged, toxic little cake is a treat? Wouldn't a treat be a pound of organic strawberries that cost $5, or some smoked salmon to go on the fresh baked bread, or some freshly homemade organic ice cream? Wouldn't it be a treat to make your own organic, whole wheat ginger snaps, biscotti, bagels, or raspberry shortbread? All of them would be delicious, fresh, buttery, melt in your mouth good ...and all GOOD, insha'Allah!

Give it some thought, and insha'Allah the next time you want to have a treat, get something that really is a treat...delicious and good for you!