Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Joyful Reminder

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh to all my dear sisters!

These are things I ponder on as I go about my day.

There are NO BATHROOMS TO CLEAN in Jennah
There are NO DISHES TO WASH in Jennah
There is no LAUNDRY or IRONING to do in Jennah
There are NO "What on earth shall I make for dinner?" moments in Jennah
There are NO BAD HAIR DAYS in Jennah
There is NO NEED FOR MAKEUP in Jennah
We will NEVER HAVE TO PEE, POOP, or PUKE in Jennah

Those thoughts make me go about my daily chores GLADLY, and even make me drag myself up to go the extra mile to do special things for my family. It seems such a small and simple price to pay for such an UNBELIEVABLE reward.

I love you, sisters. Keep on trucking, bi ithn Allah!

Reach Out Today!

BismIlah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Do something today. Reach out to somebody. Offer them something of yourself: your smile, your support, your prayer rug, a tasty treat. Share a mind-blowing Hadith Qudsi. Share a touching story of how Allah has blessed you. Share your favorite surah of Quran and why you love it. Invite someone to pray with you. Move the rock or stick in the path, or toy in the hallway LOL, so others can pass . Hold the door open for someone. Kiss your husband on his cheek as you walk past his chair. Bake your family's favorite cookies. Every one of these things is a sadaqah... and they don't even cost a penny.

"Verily, those who give Sadaqat, men and women, and lend to Allah a goodly loan, it shall be increased manifold and theirs shall be an honorable good reward." [Quran 57:18]

You give in charity and Allah, swt, rewards you.

"Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world) with respect, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do." [Quran 16:97]

You may also be rewarded by a smile of gratitude or a warm thank you from the person or people you reach out to, but that is just an added bonus. The rewards start coming from the very minute you start thinking about what you can do to reach out. They just keep flowing as you prepare, make your intention, and act. How can we pass up such an opportunity for a flow of rewards that lead to a big gush when we do the good deed?

"... but His plan is to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds..." [Quran 5:48]

What are these rewards? The good deeds that are recorded by the Angel on your right side. "Then, as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand, He surely will receive an easy reckoning" [Quran 84:7-8]

It's all about Jennah... everything else is insignificant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Emulating the Sunnah in our Food

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Okay, I'm a die hard extremist. A fundamentalist to the roots. But here it is, my "issue of the day" for all those who care to chew on it. (Pardon the pun, lol!)

Have you ever considered what the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah ate? Have you ever considered that emulating the life of the Prophet ﷺ should include food? For me, it is all part and parcel of my Islam, so here is what I have to put on the table. (Oh, I'm just too punny today!)

Did bleached sugar exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Did bleached rice exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Did bleached or white flour exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Come to think of it, did bleach exist during the time of the Prophet ﷺ?
Did they have freezers and cupboards full of canned goods?
Did they have out of season vegetables irradiated and flown across the world so that that they could enjoy blueberries in December?
Did they have hydrogenation plants at the time of the Prophet ﷺ to process our oil to within a molecule of plastic?
What about chemical pesticides? Chemical preservatives? Artificial coloring? Artificial flavoring? Artificial anything?

If you all are in the "know", and answered "no", then perhaps you are getting the drift... that foods during the time of the Prophet ﷺ were what we now term "organic". They were whole, unprocessed, natural.... and nutrient rich.

Why didn't issues about whether mono and di-glycerides being halal come up then? Because all that never existed! And where did all the disease of modern day come from... processed foods, chemicals, preservatives, pesticides.

What is the first thing the doctor tells you if you are diabetic? Eat whole grains, whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, cut out the refined sugars. Masha'Allah, the doctor is advising you to follow the Sunnah!

So to all who say they are striving to emulate the life and times of the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah, please think about the food.They were the Original Islamic Green Movement... self-sufficient, organic, natural, whole grain, with seasonal and locally grown foods. I see many of us eating highly processed foods. Does the Sunnah end where the stomach, and sadly our lust for food, begins?

Want to make some lifestyle changes to bring it closer to the Sunnah? Don't know where to start? Just ask! We can work on it together, insha'Allah.

Why are you alive?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Someone posed the question, "Why are you alive and what keeps you alive?" This is what I answered. As it was da'awah, I used the term God to keep the asker's mind open.

"I am alive because God willed me to be. There is no existence without Him. What keeps me alive is also God's will as my life and my death are in His hands. He wills for me to continue in this life, appreciate all of His blessings, worship, and obey Him. Quite simply, God sent down His message to prophet after prophet. Each one said follow my example, and worship God. That's what we are here to do, and if we follow the example of the prophets, who all submitted to God, we will be successful in this life and the hereafter. That success is the goal."

Da'wah: Have Mercy

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

What is mercy? Here is a definition:

a refraining from harming or punishing offenders, enemies, persons in one's power, etc.; kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness;
forbearance and compassion - imprisonment rather than the death penalty imposed on those found guilty of capital crimes
a disposition to forgive, pity, or be kind; the power to forgive or be kind;
clemency to throw oneself on the mercy of the court; kind or compassionate treatment;
relief of suffering a fortunate thing; a thing to be grateful for; a blessing.

Where is our mercy? Where is our compassion? For many, we are soft and merciful with our children. We are merciful and forgiving with our families, even if they aren't Muslim. But are we merciful with others? Are we merciful with those who we don't like, or who we don't approve of? What about the non-Muslims that we perceive as immoral, the Muslims who we perceive as disobedient or astray? Most certainly, we are not to take them as our friends and close companions, but do we show them mercy? To show mercy, through small kindnesses and polite dealings is to show the beauty of Islamic manners and practice. If we want mercy, we need to show it.

Imam Abu Dawud, At-Tirmithi reported that the prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "The merciful people will have mercy bestowed upon them by Allah (subhaana wa taala). Be merciful with those on earth, so He who in the heaven (Allah) will have mercy on you."

Imam Bukhari, Muslim and At-Tirmithi reported that the prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allah will not have mercy on the one who does not have mercy on people."

May Allah, Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem, open our hearts to be more merciful, that He may shower His mercy on us - ameen!

Behind the Veil; I'm Loving It!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I gave a speech in college about wearing niqaab. I was the only niqaabi there, so it seemed appropriate. Here's what I said.

"It's a controvertial issue; all you can see are my eyes. Wearing the face veil is my personal choice. I’m not oppressed; I’m just doing my thing.

Islam mandates that Muslim women cover everything but their hands and faces from non-relative, marriageable men. Here is why some of us choose to cover our faces as well.

I became Muslim over 20 years ago and only decided to cover my face 5 years ago while living here in the United States. In fact, in the 6 years I’ve been living here and my previous time in England I learned that the majority of women who cover their faces are native to the country they live in so most of them here are American and most in England are British.

The three main reasons I, and women like me cover our faces are:

1) To protect ourselves.
a. Wearing the veil not only identifies us as Muslim women, it serves as a barrier between the outside world and us. Without a face to focus on, men don’t usually approach us for friendly social interaction.
b. 1 in 6 women are raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime here in the USA. We don’t present anything that might attract or incite those men who cannot control themselves.
c. Serial killers are notorious for targeting certain types of women with specific physical attributes; we don’t allow them that knowledge.

2) To safeguard our family life.
a. We save our beauty, make-up, henna, perfume and little black dresses for our husbands. They are his exclusively, not for the eyes or enjoyment of any other man. We never hear the question, “Who are you getting all dressed up for?” or “Where are you going dressed like that?” because we only dress up for our husbands and ourselves. There is no fear that we are trying to attract other men, which builds a very trusting relationship.

3) To protect and respect the rest of society.
a. We don’t want to attract a man away from his wife, family.
b. We don’t want to present to any other woman’s partner something he might prefer over her.
c. We don’t want to cause any insecurities to other women.
d. We don’t want to entice men who are unmarried and don’t have an outlet for their desires.

Each one of us acts according to what he or she believes is good and right. Hopefully now when you see someone covered as I am, you can understand that we are happily behind the veil. "

Da'wah: Simple Explanation of Hijab/Niqab

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

I once used an analogy with some students about why I wear niqab. Obviously, it is not the whole reason...but it puts across the basic concept. A sister commented that this could be used for adults too, so I'm sticking it here in case it might benefit.

I said, "If you had a cheese sandwich every day and loved it, you would be happy and content every day with that sandwich and look forward to eating it. When someone comes along and offers you peanut buttter and jelly or chicken, then you start to become discontent with the cheese, wanting more variety. I cover because I don't want to put more choices in front of the eyes of men. I want them to be content and happy with what they already have."

You may change the examples; they may be toys, favorite stories, even friends, but the concept remains the same. Perhaps it will be useful for some who have a hard time coming up with an answer that people can relate to.

Da'wah: Speak English if that's your language

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

This is mainly for sisters living in non-Muslim countries. How many of you have had people "decide" you must be a foreigner because you wear hijab or niqab? Your Muslim, so you MUST be Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi, Pakistani, etc. right? You may even have been advised by a complete stranger to go back to your own country. I know I have!

Well, I realized a few years ago that making a point to speak in public places such as the shops, park, etc. has turned some heads and minds. I usually have my children with me, so it's not like I'm talking to myself and others think I'm bonkers, LOL. But when they hear a clearly British accent, and for some friends a clearly American accent, it throws off their stereotype. Interestingly, I have been asked plenty of questions and been responded to with genuine interest and normalcy once people heard me speak. I even make a point to speak a few words to the cashier in the shop or raise a little laugh if the opportunity arises.

What has been the result of this, you ask? I have store personnel go out of their way to say hello and ask how I am now. One cashier even started asking me more about how to get whole grains in her diet because she'd been diagnosed with diabetes! I have been asked a variety of questions about why I cover, especially my face, and other aspects of Islam...while pushing my girls on swings and even mooching in thrift shops. I'm sure that many of you have had some kind of experience where someone heard you speak, picked up that you were a "native" of your country, and responded positively.

Dispelling preconceptions is a form of da' next time you want your children to get off the supermarket displays, don't whisper, say it nice and clearly so you are heard, insha'Allah.

Da'wah: Small Kindnesses

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,

I went to the supermarket one morning and the man in front of me in the check-out not only moved the dividers along so they could be reached, he moved his own groceries further up on the conveyor belt so I would have more space to place mine. I appreciated it. I thought to myself, small kindnesses go a long way to making an impression on others. They speak of compassion, caring, politeness, consideration, and a kind heart.

I standardly smile, hold doors open, offer assistance where warranted, and let cars go ahead of me in traffic. Now I think that if we have a whole surah dedicated to the subject, Surah Al Maun, and the most beautiful example of selfless generosity and kindness in our Prophet, SAW, then we should be nicer, kinder, more considerate, politer, more compassionate, more caring, with kinder hearts than anyone else. We need to set the record for small kindnesses. It is a powerful form of da'awah and nothing less than an obligation as Muslims.

Da'wah: I want that "FEEL GOOD" she has!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh akhawaati,

Ever hear the expression, "she's the envy of all her friends?" Or maybe the one, "I don't know what it is, but she's found the secret to happiness?" Well, da'awah should be about you being so unbelievably happy that the people around you want to know what the secret is. Da'awah should be everyone else wanting the "feel good" feeling that you have every single day because Allah, SWT, blessed you with this perfect deen.

If you never ate cake, and you see someone eating cake and looking miserable or sickened, will you think cake is delicious and something you want to eat? Many of the non-Muslims around us don't have a clear idea of what is good about Islam. If they see us complaining, miserable, or even just so, so about it, then why will they ever think it is something great? But, masha'Allah, seeing us as joyous, full of life, radiant women whose key to happiness is obedience to Allah, SWT, through Islam is a big advertising campaign. In fact, it is the biggest da'awah you could ever give.

Do you need to spout out all kinds of information to convince others that Islam brings about perfect happiness and peace? No. Just let them see it in action, show them what it does for you so that they can start wanting all that "feel good." Then you may just find that they start searching for the key to happiness themselves insha'Allah.

What Polygany Can Be

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum to all my sisters.

Imagine having a huge responsibility put upon you; a job so big that you are overwhelmed at all it entails. You have to have incredible self-control, exercise wisdom and psychology in your every word, maintain a home, encourage all that pleases Allah, keep all the incidents and imperfections a secret from others, be attractive, fun, pleasing, interesting, attentive, and perhaps also raise a child or 3, or 5, or 10.

Nobody has enough time to be all she should be to her husband and also fulfill her duties to her Rabb, her children, her extended family, her sisters and neighbors. If she really thinks she is doing everything and covering all the bases, just ask her husband if there is something he would like her to do, or to do with her, if she had more time. If he is honest, there will always be something....because something always has to "give." Either she takes time away from her children to tend the home and prepare pleasing food, or she takes time from her seeking of knowledge and Quran to make herself attractive for her husband. Perhaps she doesn't do her hair the way he likes best because she took the time to listen to a sister in need. We haven't even touched on her keeping up family ties, having visits or phone calls with friends, or going for Quran, tajweed, tafseer, hadith, fiqh classes. So many things are omitted due to a lack of time. Many sisters struggle to find 5 minutes to truly pray in peace with khushoo.

Now just imagine that you have all the joys of a husband, children perhaps, and yet you also have the time to attend classes and increase your knowledge and closeness to Allah. In addition, you can maintain the ties of family and friendship on a regular basis. You have time to tend to your children and give them the attention they need. You have time to get good rest, tend to yourself and make yourself attractive and well groomed. You even have time to try out some new recipes and surprise your husband with some special meals and treats.

How can it be possible? What could happen to make all that a reality? Some high tech robot? A special speed-cleaning program? Not at all. Polygany can make it all possible.

shaytaan loves us to think of what we lose in situations. Polygany is one of his favorite playgrounds, where he can push us to think that the glass is half empty or even totally empty! Audhu b'Illahi min asshaytaan ir rajeem! However, once you think of all you have to gain from polygany, you will realise that it is actually a huge help in being successful in this dunya and the aakhirah, inshaa'Allah. It's like splitting a heavy work load between two employees instead of piling it all on one.

Polygany is a Sunnah...and everything practised and modeled by our beloved Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is for the good and best end.

Feeling Unappreciated?

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Many Muslims tell me that they feel unappreciated. Sisters feel unappreciated by their husbands, children, parents. Brothers feel unappreciated by their wives, children, family, employer. Children feel unappreciated by their parents. Parents feel unappreciated by their children. Well, here's a viewpoint.

To feel unappreciated, you must be seeking the appreciation, thankfulness, gratefulness of PEOPLE, and they don't express it well enough for you.

As Muslims, we need to think about WHY we do things. Are we acting to get appreciation from those around us, or are we acting to fulfill our duty to Allah, subhaana wa taala, and earn His pleasure? Truly, can we ever feel unappreciated by Allah, azza wa jal? His reward system is overwhelming! His incentives for obeying Him are irresistable!

It is reported that Al-Fudayl b. ‘Ayyâd said:

If you can be unknown, be so; it doesn’t matter if you are not known and it doesn’t matter if you are not praised. It doesn’t matter if you are blameworthy according to people if you are praiseworthy with Allâh the Mighty and Majestic.

Al-Bayhaqî, Al-Zuhd Al-Kabîr p100.

Masha'Allah, I never feel unappreciated because I perform my acts to please Allah, as part of my "Jennah account". And I always try to show appreciation to others who are fulfilling their duties to Allah because I remember the hadith that the one who doesn't thank the people, hasn't thanked Allah. It ends up being a circle; I feel appreciated and I show appreciation.

Bottom line: do everything to earn Allah's pleasure alone, including giving thanks for all the good that is done for you. Then you will find that you are shown appreciation both from Allah and the people, insha'Allah.

Make a Couple of Small Changes

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,

For all of the married sisters, especially those who are busy with house and children day in day out, make a little effort to look nice or special for your husband.

Some of you sisters might have bun-itis or ponytail-itis. It is when you want your hair out of the way while you're going about your day and so it always ends up in a bun or ponytail. However, one day when you hear the front door opening and your hubby coming home,  quickly undo the bun, run your fingers quickly through your hair so it is free flowing, and greet him with a smile. It's amazing how such a small thing can put a little gleam in a man's eye. Not necessarily make-up or perfume, but just some hair.

If you usually wear regular clothes in the house but you know if there are certain tops and dresses that your husband has commented on that he particularly likes, wear them. Little black dresses, fancy hairstyles, and make-up aren't always workable with children around. But loose hair, flattering clothes, and a nice smile work every time inshaa Allah.

Think about what works for you and your hubby and try to incorporate those little changes so you can be more pleasing to his eye...and never underestimate the power of a big smile! These are just the smallest little things that we can do that make a difference. After all, his pleasure in us is our Jennah.

For the Sisters who Struggle to Hold their Tongues

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahma Allah wa Barakatuh.

I posted this as an answer for a sister, but thought it might benefit as an individual discussion topic for all sisters who have problems holding their tongues with their husbands and communicating positively.

Although there are many books you may read on how to deal well with your husband, there is something so very simple that in sha Allah, if followed, will save you from putting your foot in it whenever you open your mouth.

I made up a 1,2,3 rule for someone who has a similar problem. I tell them that before they respond to anything, count to 3 and run through their minds these three things:

1) The responsibility of the Muslim regarding what he says:
"Not a word does he utter but there is a watcher by him ready to record it"
[Surah Qaf (50): ayat 18]

2) and the hadith:
"Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent... "
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

3) Then consider how you would like to be spoken to and emulate that.

Then, if you are calm, respond. That time (3 little seconds, subhaan Allah!) often saves us from saying something we would regret. I STRONGLY suggest that you keep this little 1,2, 3 reminder on an index card or something... even post it on the fridge and other visible places. This not only acts as a reminder to you, but it shows your husband that you are seriously trying to improve and correct yourself. It will also serve to remind your husband that he needs to be kind and gentle in his speech as well, even if he finds situations frustrating at times.

May Allah make smooth the path to His pleasure in our marriages - ameen. May we blossom with Allah's Guidance and the guidance of our husbands - ameen. May our struggle for improvement be greatly rewarded and be met with success - ameen.

For those who love to shop

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh akhawaati,

This post does not apply to every sister, but it will apply to some. This is for those sisters who love to shop, who shop for pleasure, who shop to improve their mood, who shop for bargains that they do not need, who shop and have to justify it to their husbands, who shop and end up in trouble with their husbands, and who shop without thinking of the responsibility that comes with it. LOL, perhaps this applies to more than some...more like most! Anyway, I have a few ideas that might help calm that habit or empower you to stop altogether.

The first thing is to put things into perspective in relation to the examples we have been given of how we should live our life. During the time of the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), people had just what they needed, nothing more. In fact, if they were given something more than they needed, they gave it to those needier than themselves. Today, we have so much of everything that we cannot find adequate storage space for it, audhu b'Illah!

The second thing is to be clear in your mind about what is "israaf" and what is "tabzeer". Israaf is the spending on things that are lawful in Islam but exceeding moderation in quantity or quality. Tabzeer is the spending wastefully on things that are prohibited in Islam...and many things fall under this category if they are against Islamic principals...such as most movies, clothes with images on them, music, etc.

Thirdly, remember that you must answer to Allah, subhaana wa taala, for every penny you spend.

Then, consider if you NEED the item and if the item will draw you closer to Allah, subhaana wa taala.

Then consider if it will be welcomed by your husband.

Then, think what better use the money might be put to.

Why don't many of us have our own land, homes, money for hajj or umrah? We spend it on an assortment of things we don't need, that don't benefit us, and even are a sinful waste.

I speak from experience sisters. I have made taubah for years of extravagant and sinful expenditure in the past. Since getting married, I have realized the beauty of not shopping...and my husband has been very appreciative of it, masha'Allah. Nothing has ever been a problem, no matter how little money we had or how much, and many dreams are real possibilities because we take spending money as a big amanah (trust) from Allah.

Look for ways to reduce expenses and think before you shop. You may find yourself on Hajj next year from the money you save, bi ithn Allah!

May we all have the ultimate success and many small ones on the way - ameen!

Your Husband's Top Priorities

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh sisters,

As women, the day we get married our order of priority and obedience changes. We used to be obedient to Allah, subhaana wa taala, and our parents. After marriage, we are obedient to our Allah, subhaana wa taala, and our husbands. Our good company is best rewarded with our husbands. But for our husbands, it does not change. His obedience and after Allah, azza wa jal, is to his mother, then his father, and then his wife.

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, who among people is most deserving of my good company?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Then your father.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5626; Muslim, 2548)

Sisters, rake in the rewards by encouraging your husband to fulfill his mother's rights! Encourage your husband to spend time with his mother. Encourage your husband to call her often, to visit her, take her gifts, thank her, show his love and appreciation. And when he is doing well by his mother, encourage him towards his father... but not in equal measure. You will gain rewards from your intention, from your husbands good actions, from your husband's mother's pleasure, from your husband's father's pleasure, from enjoining the good, and being a strong support to your fellow Muslims.

May Allah, the One who opens hearts, open our hearts and minds to all the chances of reward that are available to us and within our influence - ameen.

Laughter...the Other Kind of Romance

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh oh sisters of mine!

Masha'Allah, I'm not very romantic. Oh, I've seen the sisters who can sit through a whole candlelight meal looking lovely and simply gazing into their lover's eyes, speaking sweet nothings, blah, blah, blah. It's just wonderful... but I cannot do it. Allah, subhaana wa taala, blessed me with a big heart and a huge funny bone! Somewhere after the first few minutes I must say something that will cause a smile or laugh. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling jokes... it's just natural wittiness. I love to see my husband laugh, smile, amused by my nutty self. And although I do have my moments of tenderness and appreciation, of heartfelt romance, the times of laughter and playfulness are far more, masha'Allah.

What I realized was that the laughter and enjoyment we share with each other is something that is very valuable. It's something that we can still have even after we're old, hennaed, wrinkly, and past the baby-making days. I always love to see older couples sitting or strolling in the park, still enjoying each other's company. Somehow, the playfulness and laughter is the sign of a true friendship... perhaps not that "rose in the vase, gazing all moony-eyed" romantic love, but something that makes living together a daily joy.

Insha'Allah, for those of you who have let the laughter slow to a up the tap and let it gush! A home filled with love and laughter is a joyous place to be!

May we all be admitted to Jennah by any gate we choose, our husbands and Allah, subhaana wa taala, well pleased with us - ameen!

The Road to Healing Rifts, inshaa'Allah

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh sisters.

Sometimes we don't even know where to begin to repair broken bridges in our marriages. Giving thanks is a very good place to start. Send a card, note, or e-mail message to your husband quoting the hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” and thank him for striving to be a good husband. DO NOT think anything negative about how he has been to you, simply give thanks for all the positive. If you have done this already, send an e-mail thanking him for all the good he does for you and acknowledging that every kindness from him is a great blessing from Allah, subhaana wa taala.

What effect does this have? Inshaa'Allah, it will please him; it will show appreciation. It may also make him consider the hadith or his kindess and examine how he has been "best to you." It is amazing how one sees their own shortcomings in the face of compliments and appreciation. It may encourage him to be better with you. It may even shame him into being better to you.

If you are wondering whether this could really work, just consider when someone praises something about you that isn't totally true. They may say you are a wonderful sister to them. One of the first things that I think of is how I'm not a wonderful sister... I think of all my shortcomings that make me less than a wonderful sister. Get my drift?

Another important thing is to abide by his wishes with no arguments. Nothing is getting better by you defying him or constantly differing in opinion when things are already strained.

Lastly, let him see you always happy, smiling, satisfied with what Allah, azza wa jal, has blessed you with. It may be that seeing you looking unhappy or low is having a spiral effect and making him feel he isn't appreciated or a good husband. That is disastrous. If you have to, think of something totally outside of your home or life... whatever it takes to bring a smile and joy to your heart. For me, it is as simple as thinking that Allah, subhaana wa taala, made me Muslim and I have such good children and friends.

These are ways that you can positively impact your marriage, your home environment, and inshaa'Allah, your relationship with Allah, al Rahman al Wudood.

If he likes it, don't mess with it.

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh akhawaati,

I have heard many sisters say that their husband likes something about them which they don't. This is one of those things that just keeps on coming up in conversations with other sisters masha'Allah. Sadly, we sometimes compare ourselves to the whole Western definition of how we should look... like the non-Muslim women who have undermined everything about Islam and a woman's confidence! Subhaan Allah! We never read in ahadith about the women during the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, having issues about their bodies or even their hair. Every one dealt with what Allah, subhaana wa taala gave them and simply did what was pleasing to her husband.

Of course, some things may be out of our control, but generally the idea of dying our hair, losing weight, changing our wardrobe, etc. when our husbands don't want us to, is disobedience. Ironically, we only hurt ourselves in the end and then we have no confidence because our husband is displeased with what we've done to ourselves.

So, please remember, you are here to PLEASE YOUR HUSBAND. Pleasing him is your Jennah. If your husband likes your big behind, KEEP IT! If he loves your love handles, HANG ON TO THEM! If he prefers your hair curly, DON'T MAKE IT STRAIGHT! It's not all about us and our twisted perception of ourselves... it's all about pleasing our husbands and what he likes in us. I guess it's kind of like the saying, "If if isn't broken, don't try to fix it." It's all about getting into Jennah through any door we wish, sisters.

Once we stop trying to compete with each other and just worry about our husband and what he likes behind closed doors, we will also eliminate a great fitnah between sisters. We shouldn't be thinking or saying about our sisters, "she's so slim, her hair's so long, she wears such cute clothes," we should be looking at each others' hearts and sincerity. We should be focusing on striving together to be obedient to Allah, SWT. All the rest is just dragging us down.

May Allah, SWT, grant us all the ultimate success and purify our intentions - ameen.

Love Your Husband, Love His Mother

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh my dear sisters,

I've been thinking about this subject for the past day and it is so important that I have to write about it.

First, I want those of you who are mothers to think deeply about your children. Think about your love for your children, the time and effort you invest in them, the love of Islam and righteousness that you strive to instill in them throughout their lives. Think of your place in their life when they are small and helpless, when they grow older and turn to you for guidance, when they are grown and rely on your love and home cooking. I'm sure you can see much of yourself in your children. Fast forward to the day that your sons get married. You pray that his wife will be a blessing and benefit. You pray for a wife with a good, clean heart.

Sisters, some things about being a mother are universal. Just as you played a huge role in the life of your son, his mother played a huge role in the life of your husband. From the day you decide to marry, open you heart to his mother. Offer her your love, as you offer your love to your husband. Seek her advice and guidance on things your husband likes or dislikes. Ask her for recipes for some of his favorite dishes. She is the one most deserving of his company... three times more than his father and before you.

Put aside any preconceived ideas, any cultural phobias if she is not from the same culture or background, and just relate to her as you would like your own son's wife to relate to you. You may not even speak the same language, but a warm, loving, and positive attitude don't need any words. Every culture has beautiful admiration for those things. Praise delicious foods, beautiful clothes, intricate crafts and furniture, etc. Whatever positive there is to find, seek it out and focus on it. So many of those things you benefit from in your husband can be directly traced back to his mother's upbringing. Give her credit, show your thanks, and encourage your husband to include her more in his life.

May we enter Jennah through any gate we choose our husbands and our Creator well pleased with us - ameen.

Airing Issues and Complaining about our Husbands

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh sisters.

I truly fear that we wives will be held to account for airing issues and complaints, even small ones, about our husbands. Every time I read or hear about backbiting, I think about the fact that it includes talking about people or interactions that they would not like you speaking of, even if what you say is true. In addition, if we follow the Sunnah, then we must make 70 excuses for our brother... surely that applies to husbands as well?

Also, just as we have a side to the story, there is most certainly another side which is also valid, albeit from another viewpoint. We even fall into the danger of slandering our husbands if we say something we believe about them that isn't true and simply our own reasoning.

Most certainly we as women have a strong need to communicate and feel understood, supported, and that we are not alone in our boat of little marital issues. However, the most helpful One to communicate with is Allah, subhaana wa taala, and He often guides us to a more balanced realization. Allah also blesses us with patience, and opportunities to address issues when the time is right, with our husbands.

I've only been married for seven years, so I'm hardly a seasoned veteran at it, but I have practised "taking it to Allah," and to this day had the better results than I could ever have imagined... and a successful marriage masha'Allah.

I want to remind myself and my sisters to safeguard their fasting and ibadah by avoiding this dangerous area as far as possible. If upon our death our husbands are pleased with us and we have practised our Islam well, we may enter Jennah through any gate we choose. How's that for a good deal?

The REAL Cause of Marital Problems

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

Marriage is a blessing...and a test. With it comes a whole new person to live with, get along with, and grow with. However, there is no Islam without hardships, and there will be times when we experience nushooz - marital discord. Does it have to be a big argument? No. Does it have to be a big subject? No. It can be as simple as a seemingly careless or hurtful response. It can be as small as irritation with an old habit.

From a woman's perpective, I realized long ago that it isn't our husbands we are hurt by, it isn't our husbands we are irritated by, it is the workings of shaytaan on them and us. After all, when we ask a question and get a response which upsets us...who whispers the negative thought to our husbands? Who whispers the upsetting response? That old devil. He sees things going fine and has to try even harder to cause a fitnah. Sisters, we aren't up against our husbands ....we are up against shaytaan!

The first thing I say in any situation that seems to be a source of fitnah is "audhu b'Illahi min as shaytaan ir rajeem!" I start making serious dua' for shaytaan to leave me and my husband. I dhikr, recite Quran, put Quran on the CD player, and just keep on repelling him with Allah, subhaana wa taala's, name. I beg Allah, subhaana wa taala, to remove us from shaytaan's grip and deafen us to his wicked whisperings. As long as you know who you are up against, you can kick shaytaan out and things will return to goodness bi ithn Allah.

Oh sisters (and brothers), don't ever forget who you are up against...and don't give him any rights. I don't capitalize his name, because that rotten devil shaytaan doesn't deserve such respect. He is our enemy and the enemy of our marriages. May we all find the ultimate success in the reliance and remembrance of our Creator, the One Who has the Power to right ALL things - ameen.

Why my blog is "blowing up"

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

I have added a lot of posts today, and many more will be coming bi ithn'Illah over the coming 5 days. These are not new, but are taken from my private sisters' group which will be closing down. Although I have opened another with a different web host, it is much faster and easier for me to move them here first, so please excuse the huge influx of writing...I just had to give it a new "home." Who knows? Perhaps it will benefit more people on this open blog.

I have finished with the parenting posts and should be doing ones on marriage, da'wah, natural living, and more very soon. Jazaakum Allahu khayran for your patience and may this Ramadan be the best you ever had - ameen!

Family Fun: Hajj Re-enactment

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah

Something my children looked forward to was Hajj re-enactments that we did in our home. We used whatever was available to us and it was not only fun, but very funny masha'Allah.

Here are some of the things we did:

For the pretend flight to Saudi Arabia:

We set up 6 chairs in a room in double rows. This was our airplane. Additional props could be passports, airline tickets, suitcases, and Hajj books.

On pretend arrival in Saudi, we changed the configuration of the chairs to represent a car taking us to the meeqat and then to Masjid Al Haram.

We all pretended we were making ghusl at the meeqat and putting on ihram. The males wore towels and the girls all wore their little abayas and hijabs. Then we started with our talbiya, "Labbaik Allahumma labaik, labbaik Allah shareekah laka labaik, innal hamd, wa n'imata, lahu al Mulk, la sharika la."

Holding our instructions on how to perform Hajj and Umrah, we all approached the entrance of the "Haram"...the door to the girls' bedroom and said our dua' for entering. Then as we approached the "kaaba" made of waffle blocks covered with a sheet with a little rock painted black stuck on the top corner, we made the dua' for seeing the kaaba for the first time. We then made tawwaf, having the children keep count of our circuits around. Afterwards we proceeded to pray rakatain and go to the well of Zam Zam (our kitchen) to drink some blessed water. The we went to do our sai'e - which was in our living room. We had a pile of stuff in one corner covered with a sheet and another pile the other end covered with another sheet. We went back and forth between the two "mountains" reciting, "Innas-Safa wa al-Marwa min sha'air Allah" and keeping count of our trips back and forth.

Once we had completed sai'e, we all snipped a little bit of hair off.

For the Hajj sites, we camped in Mina by sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. If the weather permits it would be fun to set up a tent in the back yard. For the day of Arafat, we all fasted and made dua'. I showed the children the hajjaj on the plain of Arafat all seeking Allah's Pleasure and Mercy. For the night in Muzdallifah, they slept on the floor in their sleeping bags and before they woke in the morning, I scattered the floor with packing peanuts (the "pebbles"). Upon waking, they gathered up their "pebbles" ready for the stoning at the jamaraat.

The hadi (sacrifice) was a ride on zebra, which they all took turns slaughtering. Then off to make tawwaf around the "kaaba" and on to the jamaraat to do the stoning. Our jamaraat was 3 thermos jugs on the table (floor would work too) covered in tea towels. They threw their pebbles and then repeated it for each day of the Eid. Before leaving, they did their final tawwaf around the 'kaaba'.

Much of the fun of this was using our imagination with the homemade and rudimentary props we had. Each year, and for each age, more detail can be given. In this way, the children's knowledge is gradually increased regarding the sunnah of Hajj and, insha'Allah, by the time they actually get to make Hajj they will be well prepared with all the dua' and procedures clear in their minds.

We parents had a great time doing all this as well, so it truly was fun for all the family. Insha'Allah, some of you will enjoy similar family fun. If you have some other ideas to share, please reap the rewards and let us know!

Death: How shaytaan can play with us mothers

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,

The thought of dying and leaving our children can send us in to fits of insecurity and tearful horror of what our children will have to face without us. Who will care for our children? Will they be loved and cared for well? Will they have to face abuse, hardships, will they be good Muslims?

The insecurity, the concern, the fear... it's shaytaan. That devil is leading us to thoughts that are pure shirk.

Allah, SWT, willed your children into existence and He is their ONLY protector and guardian. He will NEVER leave your children. What harm can EVER come to our children if Allah, SWT, doesn't Will it?

We have been blessed with our children and Allah, SWT, has given us the gift of raising them and nurturing them. However, we are not indispensable. We are only visitors.

The Prophet, SAW, was orphaned at such a young age...and what did Allah, SWT, do? Protected him and guided him EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE. Subhaan Allah, he gave him prophethood! Subhaan Allah, He sent him as a mercy to all mankind!

So what do we as mothers do? We trust completely in Allah, SWT. We know, WITHOUT A DOUBT, that Allah, SWT, will always provide for our children. We send shaytaan packing. And we take the amanah (trust) that Allah has placed in us very seriously in regards to raising our children. That means giving them love, mercy, compassion...and also discipline, rules, and enforcing obedience. After all, if they cannot be obedient, how will they obey Allah, SWT? We teach them Islam, through every day life, and we give thanks and praise to Allah, SWT, for the gift of being in their lives.

May Allah, SWT, give us a long life to be there for them and do our best for them - ameen!

Parenting: It's all about ME!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

Last year I thought of a slogan to put on the whiteboard in our schoolroom. The purpose of it was to encourage my children to do their best, not just what is okay or fine. It says,

" If you CAN do better, then you SHOULD do better!"

Well, somehow I thought to myself, "Mai, that applies to you and your mothering. You need that reminder and encouragement EVEN MORE than the children need it!" So I put that slogan up on the whiteboard in big red letters...for ME. If my childrens' schoolwork benefits then that's wonderful too, but the biggest benefit they can have is me being as good as I can be with them. Subhaan Allah! It never ceases to amaze me how Allah, azza wa jal, always sends us what we need for our success. Alhamdul'Illah!

Parenting: Muslim Police Force

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh akhawaati,

How many of you are trying to remind your children to use the appropriate dua' for the different day-to-day activities? Well, here is an idea you might like to implement that is fun and educational.

Set up your own Muslim Police Force.

Make police badges for each Officer, for example:

Bism'Illah Officer
Al hamdul'Illah Officer
Bathroom Dua' Officer
Bedtime Dua' Officer
Post Adhaan Dua' Officer
Prayer Time Officer

Basically, choose whatever titles you want to have and need to teach/implement in your home. Then assign the badges to each family member for a week. Each person is in charge of reminding all the others to say the appropriate dua' at the specified time. So, Bism'Illah Officer will make sure everyone says it before eating, Bedtime Dua' Officer will go around ensuring everyone says their bedtime dua' before sleeping, etc. As the weeks go by and the officer's rotate roles, it will give everyone an opportunity to reinforce the daily dua' and also when things seem well established, new Officer roles can be created to add to the dua. The dua' for putting clothes on, the dua' for leaving the house, the dua' for the traveller, etc. Masha'Allah, the beauty of it is that for the younger ones, it can be a very simple one word thing and for the older ones something longer that they can teach others.

I never forget how the children would all ask each other, "Did YOU say bism'Illah?" before eating, LOL. It was like a police inquiry and it gave me this idea. You could even authorize them to issue tickets for offenders, LOL!

Parenting: Blurt Alert!

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah,

Subhaan Allah! I manage quite well to hold my tongue with my husband, but when it comes to my children I lose my temper more quickly and tend to say things that I later think are not a good model to them. Oh, don't start imagining swear words or any such thing, but certainly sarcasm comes out at times and much more impatient annoyance than is warranted. So, because I want to emulate the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and not speak in anger or raise my voice excessively, I have come up with a plan. I'm calling it the "Blurt Alert." I'm taking one second before I blow my gasket to say, out loud, "Hold on a minute, please!" That is my cue, my warning signal, my checkpoint that say's, "Take a moment to think about your response and if you can't think clearly, shut up." I'm planning to write this on paper, on the whiteboard, around and about the house as a reminder insha'Allah.

Now, the warning signal may vary from person to person. Perhaps you will say, "Hold up, sistah!" or "Hang about there, missy!" or "Just a sec, okay?" You get my drift though...something that reminds you. I'm planning to revisit this discussion to update you on how it works for me insha'Allah. I'd love to hear if this works for any of you, too bi ithn Allah.

Fi amaan Illah.

Golden Rules for Mothers

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh sisters!

In my opinion, there certain things that we always need to stick with to be good mothers. Here are two that can start off the list:

- Always set the example you wish your children to follow.
Children follow what is modeled, regardless of what they are told. For example, if you tell them to pray on time, but you don't, they will never bother to pray on time because they percieve it isn't REALLY important... after all you aren't doing it. Do not be a hypocrite in front of your children; it will affect them for life.

- Be consistent. If something is haraam and they do it, they must always be punished or warned about it... not just when you have the time to pay attention. Otherwise, they will not stop. Unacceptable behavior goes away when it is met with something undesirable EVERY time with no exceptions. Otherwise, it just keeps on trucking... just like shaytaan.

Please feel free to add to the list; we would all love to benefit from your insights, inshaa Allah!

Fi amaan illah!

Great, Wow, Fantastic!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah!

Do you ever use these words?

Someone tells you they passed their exam and you say, "Great!"

Your friend tells you about the designer bag she bought for $1 and you say, "Wow!"

Your child runs up and says, "I just did a cartwheel for the first time!" and you respond, "Fantastic!"

Well, there are words from the Sunnah that that could be used as replacements or additions inshaa Allah.

Here are the scenarios:

Someone tells you they passed their exam, and you say, "Alhamdul'Illah!"

Your friend tells you about the designer bag she bought for $1 and you say, "Mashaa Allah!"

Your child runs up and says, "I just did a cartwheel for the first time!" and you respond, "Subhaan Allah!"

Yes, it is important to give praise, to recognize achievements, to encourage and reward. But is is even more important to recognize that there is no success without Allah, subhaana wa taala. If we are to give praise and thanks, surely the One Who has provided the success, blessing or achievement should be recognized, thanked, and praised first.

Not only do you reward the person with praise, you remind them of the fact that Allah was the cause of their success.

Not only do you remind them, but you gain the reward of remembering Allah, subhaana wa taala, who loves it when we remember Him and in turn remembers us.

The simple replacement of those words in every day life will have a profound effect on your family and those around you. My children's first words of wonder and praise were subhaan Allah and Alhamdul'Illah. Those words are an integral part of their basic vocabulary. When asked how they are, they respond, "alhamdul'Illah," much to the confusion of the non-Muslims (lol). Drop those words, and other words of praise and remembrance of Allah, around your home like sparkling diamonds, and inshaa Allah they will shine a light for you on Yawm al Qiyamah.

May every day be filled with barakaat for you all - ameen.

Discipline: Cool the Fire!

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah.

Discipline is an topic that comes up often for us mothers, mashaa'Allah. Much earlier I posted "The Lying Down Treatment," which is an approach based on Islam for calming our children when they are angry or upset. The following hadith is my basis for the cold water treatment.

The rationale for making wudu and praying when angry is explained by the Prophet (s) in a hadith related by Atiyya As-Sa’di in Sunan Abu Dawood (#2227): “AbuWa’il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution."

When time out is ineffective, when the hudood stick doesn't deter, I have an alternative you might consider. I came up with it a couple of years ago, when laziness became a disease in our homeschooling days and smaller ones couldn't get their behavior under control.

I calmly pick the child up (this is based on the fact that the heaviest child in our house is 58lbs, LOL) and put the child in bathtub. They may or may not be undressed. Then I shower them or douse them with cold water. I continue to do so until they have calmed down and have repeated words to the effect of " I'm washing away all my : anger/laziness/disobedience/bad feelings/horrible behavior. "

How does this work? As the hadith says, the anger (in fact all negative behaviors) come from shaytaan. The cold water extinguishes the fire of shaytaan. It comes quickly, out of the blue, and is a shock to the child. The insistence on them speaking and saying over and over while what they are washing away, while being sloshed with cold water is a psychological tactic. They need to verbalize the purpose of what they are experiencing.

The key is to be consistent. Every time they do the same behavior it's bathtub time! An added bonus is that you have very clean children, masha'Allah! LOL This has been very effective for me and the beautiful part is that I don't have smack the child or waste hours of a day with ineffectual time outs. In fact, after just a couple of cold water treatments, I didn't have to do them again wa al hamdu l'Illah.

If it benefits, then ALL thanks and praise are for Allah, subhaana wa taala.

Discipline: The Lying Down Treatment

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,

Never forget the ahadith about sitting and lying down if you are angry insha'Allah. This can be a useful and Sunnah tool for assisting our children (and ourselves, LOL) in dealing with our negative feelings. Although sometimes it may require you to hold your child down, if they are throwing a tantrum make them lie down.

Prophet Mohammad (s) had advised us that when angry, one should try to change his body position. Meaning, if you’re standing up, sit down. In hadith reported in Ahmad and Tirmidhi (#1322), Allah’s Messenger (s) said, “When one of you becomes angry while standing he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.”

In another hadith (#1331) reported in Al Tirmidhi by AbuSa’id al Khudri, the Prophet (s) said, “Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.” He continued, “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendant of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and the redness of his eyes? So when anyone experiences anything of that nature he should lie down and cleave to the earth.”

There is also advice from our Prophet, SAW, to make wudhu, which redirects one's thoughts.

The rationale for making wudu and praying when angry is explained by the Prophet (s) in a hadith related by Atiyya As-Sa’di in Sunan Abu Dawood (#2227): “AbuWa’il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.

The beauty of "alhamdul'Illah"

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh mothers!

Every now and then one of my children will hurt themselves and come to me in tears. I pick them up or crouch down to them to hug them and tell them to say alhamdu l'Illah. After they say that, I comfort them, tend to their "wound", and make things right as we mothers do. Now, surely my 2 year old doesn't understand why she must say alhamdu l'Illah first, but I'm making it an automatic response so that when she gets old enough to ask why she says it, she will be able to understand as well as say the correct thing.

My five year old asked a year or so ago, and I explained simply that EVERYTHING that comes from Allah must be praised and given thanks for because it is sent for us through His love. Then I gave her my clouds analogy, adapted to ensure her understanding. Here it is.

Clouds may look gray and gloomy sometimes, but I look for silver linings in every cloud, and I ALWAYS find them. Nothing in life is negative, unless we do not learn or grow from it and every occurence is a blessing, in one form or another.

Perhaps our car breaking down during rush hour prevented us from being in a fatal car accident. Perhaps the illness or injury of your child helped you to focus on what a precious gift it is to be well. Perhaps that big "disaster" was the very thing that made you sit down and get your priorities straight. Perhaps Allah is reminding us, through a little punishment or warning, that we must listen and obey.

Whatever comes to us is from Allah, either to guide us, to remind us, to protect us, to warn us, or even to punish us. In every case, Allah sends these things to let us know that He loves us. As long as the clouds come, we are assured of His love... and that is the most valued silver lining of all.

Fi amaan Illah.

Children: Start as You Want to End

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

From the time my children were born, I have handed them food, toys, etc. in their right hand. I have put their right shoe one, vocalizing what I am doing each time. By the time she was one, my 3-year-old knew her right from left. She even started telling other children (and parents Blush) to put the right shoe on first, if she saw them doing the opposite, masha'Allah. It is a rare occasion that we have to remind her to use her right hand for eating, her left for istinjah, wa alhamdul'Illah.

I have said, "alhamdul'Illah" when they sneeze and responded with, "yarhomuk Allah." I have said "alhamdul'Illah first when I hurt myself or something afflicted me/us. All my terms of surprise, wonder, pleasure, and grief, were remembrances of Allah, subhaana wa taala.

From the time they could walk, I had them see me making wudhu. As we go about our day, I impart or model different aspects of Islamic adhaab and adhkaar so that they are integral parts of their day and life.

They don't watch television, movies with music, have toys that play music, and the non-compliant images in books are blacked out. That is what they are used to, so they don't miss anything.

The results from this, which hasn't taken any more effort than normal, have been a true blessing. I strongly recommend that you start as you want to end. Don't leave these seemingly small things until the children are older and have already developed opposing habits. You will make it easy on your child, and easy on yourself.

Of course, this can be applied to many things outside of religious training. Whatever you know is not of benefit to your child, or you will stop them from when they get older, can be avoided from day one so they never feel a loss, just a stable continuance of what they've always known.

This has benefited my family, and I pray it benefits yours.

Discipline: My biggest epiphany!

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

One morning, my 5 year old daughter stole a lollipop from my pencil holder and hid under her quilt to eat it. Well, the lollipop was organic for those of you who know me and that we don't have any candy in the house. In fact, it was a gift and had been sitting in the cup for over a year, LOL. Anyway, her brother spilled the beans, confiscated the lollipop and then she was summoned down to answer at an inquest... me being the Judge of course. She admitted to taking the lollipop and cried, so I simply told her that it was stealing, which is haraam, and that she had to throw the rest away and face the wall for a while.

Well, somehow Allah, SWT, blessed me with some kind of clarity on the whole thing and about half an hour later I had a whole new plan. I told her to go upstairs, brush her teeth (don't want cavities from that sugar), and make wudhu. I then told her to come down with her prayer dress on. She came down wondering what she was supposed to do, so I told her it was time for duha prayer, a nawafil prayer that was extra, and that she was going to pray two rakaat and at the end while still in sujood, she was going to ask for Allah's forgiveness. I clearly told her that she needed to be clear in her mind that what she did was haraam, that she needed to feel sorry in her heart, and that she had to want to never do it again, otherwise Allah, SWT, would not forgive her. Well, she did her rakaat and that was the end of it. Her punishment was over and I felt as if I'd moved into a whole new realm of growth and learning.

The time outs don't do anything really, and we as adults don't have them. When I thought of what we must to when we err or sin, I realized that's what we must teach our children. I thought of my 2-year-old who is a clear communicator masha'Allah and have decided that I will sit down with her and make her say a dua' to seek Allah's forgiveness when she does something wrong.

I'm excited! I have a new approach for the children. If they do something that has a more concrete Islamic punishment or retribution, such as returning a stolen thing or clearing someone's name or apologizing first, then that will be done as well, but the istighfar to Allah, SWT, will be my consistent routine, bi ithn Allah. This is how I can teach the children that ultimately they must answer to Allah, SWT. This is how I can instill in them the various components necessary for tawbah. This is how I can raise them to turn to Allah, SWT, on each occasion and insha'Allah increase their taqwa.

I feel like Allah, SWT, has lifted a huge burden from me... wa al hamdu l'Illahi Rabb il Aal Ameen!

Children: Invest Your Time

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah.

This subject is extremely important. Raising children is not something that can be left to chance. It is our responsibility and they are an amanah (trust) from Allah to us. We cannot rely on others to instill Islamic values in our children. We cannot rely on videos and cartoons to teach them how to make wudhu, pray, etc. We cannot expect to bring Islam alive and make it vibrant and exciting in our children's lives if we do not invest our time. There is no replacement for our time, effort, and attention.

Shabaan is the time to tell your children that the good deeds are sent up to Allah in Shabaan and brainstorm some good deeds to do. This is the time to start getting your children prepared for fasting by doing some test runs. Mondays and Thursdays, the white days of the months, or even just a day or two just to get in the mood and send up some special good deeds, insha'Allah.

Ramadan is here. This is the time to read stories about Ramadan. This is the time to read them age-appropriate information on what the fast is about and how to do it correctly. This is the time to see how each child can be a part of the fasting experience. Tell them what the special Sunnahs are for fasting, such as breaking the fast with dates and water. If there are things that are against the Sunnah, such as overly extravagant iftars, explain to them about the simplicity of the Prophet's food and that it is preferred to keep things simple. Model it. Do not tell them to eat in moderation and yourself eat until you cannot move. When Zakat Al-Fitr time rolls around, have them help choose what staple goods to donate. Have them help measure out the food, so they learn what a sa' is.

Children learn and develop avid interest through involvement and active participation. Keep your children in the picture, by which I mean tell them what's going on and why throughout the Islamic year. It requires discussions, ideas, and most of all, time - your time. It is invaluable and irreplaceable...and it makes all the difference.

If it benefits, then al hamdu l'Illah.

How our Children Help our Islam

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I have been marveling at this for some time and want to share it with you. Children are such a blessing and protection for us in so many ways. Just consider...

Conduct, Language, and Interactions:
Because we set an example and don't want our children to learn unpleasant, unacceptable, and un-Islamic behaviors, we work towards being good examples for them. Alhamdl'Illah, we model polite speech, the nice ways of dealing with others, and the Islamic way of doing day to day things which not only teaches them, but also keeps us in check. Subhaan Allah, our children benefit our own Islamic manners!

Striving for Allah:
How easy it would be to escape the trials and tribulations of marriage, difficult relationships with others, and things we don't like. It could be as simple as a few shouted words or an unpleasant e-mail to end a marriage or get away from things we don't enjoy. However, when we think of our children, the picture changes. If we simply walked away from a marriage rather than working through the hardships, we wouldn't have our children in our lives every day; there would be custody issues. The children wouldn't benefit from both parents and a feeling of unified family, which is a very important building block to their healthy emotional development. If we simply cut off relations with parents or close relatives due to personal differences, our children miss out on having their extended family. We also strive to show them how to deal Islamically with others and work through things to maintain the ties of kinship. Our children make us think again; they encourage us to bear with patience, as the Quran tells us to do. We often find ourselves doing what we are supposed to do as Muslims, taking the higher road. In an effort to show our children how important it is to persevere, to strive, we end up persevering and striving!

Allah sends His Blessings and Help in many forms...and our children are a great blessing and benefit to us! Subhaan Allah! Our children remind us that our priority is to please Allah, not our nafs or the whisperings of shaytaan.

When our children test our patience and wear on our nerves, let's try to remember how much they do for us and our deen. Let's remember that they have made us more obedient to Allah, subhaana wa taala, and are always encouraging us to the best and most pleasing behavior in the Eyes of our Creator. Let's give thanks and praise to Allah for the blessings that our children bring!

Raising Good Muslims

Everyone has to find their own way to Allah.

We cannot simply raise our children according to the Sunnah, try to teach them what is right and wrong, and expect them to love Allah (SWT), Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and Islam just like that. They have to live, make mistakes, and develop their own relationship with Allah, subhaana wa taala.

I sometimes hear people say that they have done everything by the Sunnah but their children aren't religious. This happens a lot by the time they become teenagers and young adults. Well, I want to say to those people, "You haven't wasted a second, insha'Allah!" You gave them the right foundation and the basic background. But, they have to LEARN that what you taught them is right. They have to learn that Islam is the Haqq (truth/reality).

We all had to go through things, whether we are converts or born Muslim. We all did haram things, we all struggled to do better, and, at some stage, many of us fell in love with Islam. We became mu'min (true believers). Islam didn't just make sense, but it made us happy and filled our lives with purpose and joy. Why would we expect it to be any different for our children?

It is a very difficult thing to do, but you have to give your children some space to learn for themselves. It is heartwrenching to see our children, or anyone we love, do anything that displeases Allah (SWT). We want them to avoid Allah's (SWT) anger, His punishment. But try to remember your own journey to Allah. Sometimes, when we take the time to look back at all the mistakes we made, and the time it took us to develop our Islam, it opens our eyes to how much it took to get us where we are. And where are we? Still striving, learning, and making mistakes up to this day!

It has already been decreed by Allah whether your children are destined for Jennah or not and what path they will take in their lives. That is Allah's Qadar (Divine Preordainment).Once they become young adults, the biggest support you can give them is to be a good example, show Islam in every aspect of daily life, be understanding, and pray for them.

Truly success lies only with Allah, subhaana wa taala.