Friday, November 26, 2010

The Parental Disclaimer

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I've had another epiphany, mashaa'Allah! It came to me when I considered how possible it is that at least one of our children will get married and leave home and not uphold the things that we have taught them. Now, of course, it is no longer our responsibility once they are grown and gone. However, I seriously dislike the idea of a son- or daughter-in-law, and perhaps even the family-in-law, thinking that we never bothered to raise our children well. My idea is to draw up a document, a Parental Disclaimer, itemizing all the major things that we have taught our children and that they know about. In this way, if they don't adhere to those things outside of our home, at least we have educated them prior to them taking a different path.

My disclaimer will look something like this:

We, father of the child and mother of the child, do hereby testify that we have taught our child named: xxxxx, the following things.
  • Personal Hygiene: 
  • Brushing teeth morning, night, and before fajr prayer. 
  • Cutting nails and making ghusl on Friday. 
  • Bathing regularly and putting dirty clothes in the laundry. 
  • How to blow their nose and never to pick their nose. 
  • How to make istinja and wash hands after going to the bathroom. 
  • How to use soap and water to get clean. 
  • How to make wudhu. 
  • How to conserve water. 
  • How to use a brush and comb.

Life Skills:

  • How to operate a washing machine successfully. 
  • How to clean a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room. 
  • How to iron clothes.
  • Washing and drying dishes.
  • Basic cooking, including baking cookies and bread. 
  • Eating in in moderation. 
  • Eating healthily. They KNOW about bad fats, pesticides, steroids, growth hormone, and artificial everything to avoid. This is an organically raised child.
  • They can tell the time and they can operate an alarm clock.
  • They have been taught math and should not be believed if they say they don't know how to find the area of a room or figure out the change due to them in a supermarket.
  • We have taught them how to pray, when to pray, sunnah prayers, prostration of forgetfulness, and what to do if joining a prayer that has already started. 
  • We have educated them on fiqh regarding tahara, prayer, ramadan, hajj, zakat, and done everything possible to ensure they understand tawheed clearly. 
  • We have modeled and corrected them on manners and social dealings. They know when they should say please, thank you, excuse me, and they don't leave the table without asking to be excused.
  • We have provided them with extensive information on heaven and hell and the behavior and paths that lead to each destination. 
  • They been woken up for fajr every day since they turned 10 years old.
  • They have read the whole Quran, know the etiquettes of recitation, and the rules of tajweed.
  • They have lived a life based on emulating the Sunnah in their daily life.
We pray that they will follow the path to Jennah, but if they start acting up or misbehaving, then - for the record - we did our job. 

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list because I haven't had time to think of all the details. Also, it will grow as the children get older, but it's probably a good idea to start jotting down things from now. Then it will be comprehensive by the time they are ready to fly from the nest, inshaa'Allah.

Please feel free to use this idea if you think it will work for you. Although I cannot stop a smile when I think of a Parental Disclaimer, hubby is warming up to the idea and I'm all for it, LOL!

My Mothering Dua'

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I am the mother of two girls, 4 and 7 years old, and the stepmother of a 10 year old girl and a 12 year old boy, wa al hamdu l'Illah ala kully haal! In the beginning, this mothering thing was very new to me. Being an only child, I was totally unprepared for the in-house fighting, backbiting, sneakiness, and all that other dreadful normal stuff that children do. It has been an enlightening and testing time, to say the very least!

I have always made dua' to be a better mother, to guide them the best way, and to be a good model for them. That, however, just didn't seem to be enough. I have made connections, shown examples, and have that whole "mother-e.s.p." that knows what's going on. I was resident spy, noticing irregularities that signal teeth weren't brushed with toothpaste, showers were skipped, wudhu wasn't made, etc. It was becoming a real task, because I'm also cooking, homeschooling, studying, etc.

BUT...I discovered something this past year, which became invaluable in my job as Muslimah mother. When I went for Umrah, I had nothing short of Divine inspiration. I asked Allah to show my children His Haqq. I told Him that we, as parents, could only talk about it and give examples, but HE could make it real and evident to them. I asked that He leave no stone unturned in responding to their deeds and showing them right from wrong, cause and effect. I asked that He show them, clear as day, that what we teach them is the truth and let it be reinforced in all aspects of their life. I also asked that He make evident to us the reality of our children, the good and bad. In this way, we can deal with them and guide them accordingly.

Subhaan Allah! It has been nothing short of incredible how much has come about since then, because when you go to the One Who can help, He does. Qadr Allah, there is nothing that the children do in sneakiness or error, trying to hide it or thinking that they are getting away with it, that Allah hasn’t exposed, mashaa'Allah. There has been clear cause and effect in all that they do, mashaa'Allah! All the things that we have taught and inforced they hear from all manner of other sources now - from school, from friends, in books, from friend's parents, and even from people they don't know.

I feel so much more comfortable knowing that I have turned those things that are beyond my abilities to our Creator. I feel much clearer about what’s going on and find I can manage them and their upbringing far more effectively and easily now. It has even changed my reactions and responses to them. When it is obvious that someone is telling an untruth and it isn't being admitted, I simply say, "Never mind." To which they all look at me in wonderment. I then follow it up with, "Allah Knows the truth and He is The Fair. He is also the One to punish, and He hates liars." When they see that I'm putting the responsibility back on them for their actions, to answer to Allah for, it changes the whole picture.

This may be the same thing all you good mothers have been making dua' for from day one, but for me it is nothing short of a revelation. If this is news to even one other mother out there, I highly recommend you make this dua’. It is an amazing thing to behold when it is answered, wa al hamdu l’Illahi Rabb il aal ameen!

Laughter and Tears: An Introspection

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Some of you know me personally. You've met me, sat with me, eaten with me, and probably laughed with me. Some of you have no idea what I am like, except for what I write here. However, most of you probably know that I have a sense of humor and a positive outlook. I have even been described as "chipper" and "bubbly" by my dear sisters. All thanks and praise to Allah, Who is the sole creator of any good in me!   

Just a few moments ago, while listening to children laugh over foolish matters, I remembered this saying.  
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad said, "O followers of Muhammad! By Allah, if you knew what I know, you would weep much and laugh little." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #627]

Then, me being me, I immediately thought of how I'm always smiling, cheerful, and trying to infuse that into others. There is much laughter in my life. Uh oh! Is that a problem? Am I ignoring the Prophet's (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) words and warning? I had to consider the reason for my laughter and cheer. I had, for a moment, to remind myself of what I tell sisters who meet me and comment on those "sunny" qualities. I tell them this:

"Every day I wake up and give praise and thanks to Allah. I am overwhelmed by His Generosity and Mercy, by His Blessings and His Love. How can I not smile when every single thing He sends me is out of Love for me? How can I not be bubbling with joy and happiness? I have the most perfect and complete Love I could ever imagine!"

So, if my smiles and laughter are all to acknowledge and give thanks for Allah's countless Blessings, can they be bad or a waste of time? No. They are ibadah. They are shukr. They are sadaqah. They are daw'ah. 

On the flip side, I cry a lot. I am a veritable leaky tap! Friends see this, too. We may be sitting anywhere and the mention of Allah's Mercy, a reward for a simple word or task, or some hadith by our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and I'm dabbing at my eyes. Don't even get me started about how Allah chose me to be one of His servants in Islam, or I'll be bawling for a week!

In the middle of an Arabic class, where Hajj was being discussed, I burst into tears over the huge reward for the accepted Hajj and my desperation to go. While attending the Sunday Islamic classes with my children two years ago in the States, I cried in nearly every lesson over the things the teacher was telling the children about the account of good deeds and bad, the aakhirah, etc. Fortunately, by now, my children are used to my "religious tears." They still ask why I am crying, but once they hear it is because of something related to our deen, they brush it off as normal. 

I cry, desperately, over my mistakes and my shortcomings. I cry, uncontrollably at times, over fear of losing my way or being touched by the Hellfire. At times I wonder if death is approaching for me soon, lol, with such strong emotions over all things from Allah and against Him. However, I have great hope in my heart of Allah, subhaana wa taala's, shade for my tears and my love, when I remember this hadith:

"Seven will be granted the shade of Allâh on a day when there will be no shade but His. A just ruler, a youth who has been brought up worshipping Allâh, a man whose heart is attached to the mosque, two people who love each other for the sake of Allâh and meet and part upon that, a man who is allurred by a woman of high standing and beauty and he says, "I fear Allâh", one who gives charity in secret so that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given, and a man whose eyes fill up with tears when he remembers Allâh in private" (Bukhârî, Muslim and others)

So, I say to you all smile and be happy, because Allah Loves you! Cry in awe and desperation, because you are weak and humble. Laugh and cry for all the right reasons, so that it will all be on your account as ibadah and increase in your emaan and taqwa, bi ithn Illah taala.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is your blog a true friend?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

As usual, something happened today that triggered this post, but the seed has been growing in my mind for a while now. I read many different blogs from all kinds of different people. Some are about Islam, some by people just struggling through this dunya, some about polygany, and all manner of other topics.

What I have found in my "readels" (a combination of reading and travels) is that there are some blogs that are good friends to the blogger and there are some that are truly their enemy. When what we write is sincere and pleasing to Allah, regardless of what it is about, then that writing is our friend. It will stand up on Yawn Al-Qiyamah and testify for us. It will be written on our right-hand side - amongst our good deeds. Now this doesn't have to be writing directly about Islam; it may be on health, environment, safety, or any number of other things that will benefit others and in some way encourage them to good. After all, taking care of our bodies and the earth are all part of the amanah (trust) Allah has bestowed upon us.  Aaah! When I read jewels from some of the beloved bloggers I follow, I literally pray for their elevation in Jennah al Firdaus.

So what are those blogs that are our enemies? The ones where we air our stinking thinking. The ones where we expose our sins or the sins of others. The ones where we backbite...because anonymity doesn't negate the fact that you are speaking ill of another. The ones where things that should be private and precious are put out in public. The ones where emotions get the better of us and we say things that we later regret or have to delete. These are the posts and blogs that thrill shaytaan and are a written - public for all to see - deficit on our account with Allah, azza wa jaal. I wrote something about sisters who struggle to hold their tongues, that really applies to everyone in the whole wide world as well as blogs and every other form of media. While it is always difficult to do, that hadith saying that if you cannot say something nice, you must not speak, is extremely important and relevant.

Not one of us knows when Allah will end our time on this earth. Do we want to leave with a public enemy sitting on the Internet, broadcasting to the world? Please, check your blog and make sure that it is your friend!

I try to check my posts regularly, but if you find something that you think might be pleasing shaytaan in my blog, please let me know. That is how you can show you love me ; D

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eid Al Adha 1431 Hijri (2010)

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Hubby's gone for Hajj and I'm here with the four little darlings for Eid Al Adha al mubarak. Usually I end up not doing anything near what I wanted on Eid, but this was a bit different al hamdul'Illah. I am so happy that my husband is doing Hajj, that my whole outlook is different during his time away. May his, and all the hujjaj's ibadah be accepted - ameen!

On 8 Dhul Hijjah I had the children each pick a simple recipe and bake their own cookies. This was a great exercise in math and lifeskills, without them realizing it. Then, each child had their own jar or bucket of cookies for Eid. That meant that Yawm al Arafat wasn't spent preparing treats for Eid and we could focus on more important things. This morning, I got the children up, took some dough out of the fridge and made a pizza. Each child had their own bag with their container of cookies and some water. I took the pizza, some water, a knife, and napkins.

Because we had to walk (me being a woman [in Saudi], I can't just hop in our minivan and zip on down to Masjid an Nabawi), I came up with a different game plan. We left just before the fajr adhaan and walked to Masjid Yahwiya to pray fajr. Then, after that little stop, where the littlest members of the family could rest their toes a while, we continued on to Masjid An Nabawi.

Mashaa'Allah, we made it in good time, settled ourselves just outside the courtyard wall, and prayed in comfort. Then we met up with a couple of sisters I go to school with and had a picnic in the courtyard of Masjid an Nabawi. Ahhh! The sun rose, the minarets looked pristine reaching up to Allah's perfect heavens, and the umbrellas shaded us. We shared the pizza and all the children got to share their cookies with each other and our guests. Then we drank a little Zamzam and walked back home.

Now I'm making a big brunch (because that is the best way out of having to make lunch as well) and they have the rest of the day to enjoy the new books that they were given for Eid and race remote control cars that their daddy bought them. I promised them I'd make their favorite dinner tonight and I'm planning to play a board game with them later. So the children are happy and Eid is really EID! Alhamdu l'Illahi Rabbil aal ameen!

It isn't about what Allah gives you, it's about what you make of it.

Taqabbal Allah mina wa minkum!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good vs. Bad

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

I took a little time to "pay a (cyber) visit" to a dear friend who I'd been neglecting and, sure enough, Allah sent me great benefit and inspiration.

I struggle with my imperfections. I don't mean things like whether I vacuumed this week or if I'm a pound heavier or lighter. I mean things that I know go on my left-hand side account, like my lack of self control when it comes to my emotions and behavior upon seeing things that shaytaan loves. I am going through a serious "process" about all this and desperately seeking Allah's Help and Guidance.

However, what I got from my visit was a reminder of how the good deed outweighs the bad deed. Instead of focusing on what I always do wrong, I took a moment to think of what is good in me. I reaffirmed that there WAS a whole lot of good in me, through the Mercy and Generosity of Allah, subhaana wa taala. If I focus on that good and let it flourish, it will not only outweigh the bad, but eventually it will, inshaa'Allah, strangle it. Not only that, if I focus on the good in others rather than react to the bad, inshaa'Allah that will be able to flourish as well.

Okay, okay...I know this is basic psychology (positive reinforcement) and hardly something new. However, I had lost sight of it for myself. How on earth can I practice it on others, if I cannot even help myself? So, I say to you all:

Look for the good, every ounce of it. 
Embrace the good, love it, and nurture it so that it will grow and flourish. 

Allah says, in Surah Al Rahman : "Is there any reward for good but good?" No, there isn't. It just grows and grows. Subhaan Allah! "Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make That Call

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

How many of us have at least one person that we haven't talked to in a long while. Someone that perhaps we have been out of touch with for so long that we feel embarrassed or shy to even call by now?

How many of us have received a call from a friend or acquaintance after a long time and been really pleased that they remembered us? That even though a long time had passed, they still got in touch... apologies and all. If you ever had it happen to you, then you know that it's better to make the call than leave it any longer. It's called strengthening the ties of brotherhood/sisterhood. It's what our Ummah is all about.

Abu Dharr said: My friend (the Prophet) ordered me to observe seven things. He ordered me to love the poor and be near them; he ordered me to consider my inferior and not consider my superior; he ordered me to be kind to the kinsman and to preserve and keep intact the bond of kinship; he ordered me not to ask anyone for anything; he ordered me to speak the truth even when it is bitter; he ordered me not to fear for Allah's sake reproach anyone may cast on me; and he ordered me to repeat often, "There is no might and no power except in God," for these words are a part of the treasure under the throne. (Ahmad)

I had a friend who I hadn't heard from in a couple of weeks. I gave her a call to see what was happening with her and to apologise for not calling earlier. Turns out she didn't even know what day Eid was on and that there was the Deal of the Year coming up on Yawm Al Arafat to wipe out two years of sins. Subhaan Allah! Then she told me that she'd been depressed and I told her to scream, shout and kick Shaytaan out. The next day she called to say that Allah sent the call to her just when she needed it and that she was back on track. Alhamdul'Illahi Rabbil al-ameen! You just never know how, or who, your call might benefit.

We all get busy in our lives. But when someone makes the time for us, remembers us in all the rush, we feel special and loved. The ties of kinship are precious. Make the time, even if only for 5 minutes. Make your list of neglected friends and give them a call.

You can never go wrong in doing good. Make your list of people who there is some bad feeling between you, then build a bridge and get over it.

"The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend." [Quran 41:34]

Make the call, pay the visit. Believers are to each other like bricks in a wall, one supporting the other and each relying on each other for support. Without all the bricks, the wall becomes weak and falls down. Strengthen the walls, bring our Ummah back together one brick at a time... one call at a time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why I Travel

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I read this, by chance, and was instantly brought to tears. (Yes, I know I'm just a like a leaky tap when it comes to Islam!) Anyway, I have never seen this from it's source, but this is apparently some poetry from  Imām ash-Shāfi‘ī, Raḥimahullāh:

Leave your home in search of the heights and travel

Because there are five benefits of traveling:

To relieve your despair,

To seek to enrich your livelihood,

To seek knowledge and good character,

And to accompany righteous companions.”

Subhaan Allah, there are no coincidences. I travel for every one of those reasons.

I travel to relieve my despair: When shaytaan has infiltrated some part of my life and I need my time alone with my Rabb, I walk. I travel around and around, thinking and talking with Allah until I arrive at my destination - a blessed place in mind and spirit.

I travel to seek livelihood: I have flown to Madinah al Munawarah with my husband and family seeking halal livelihood in a blessed and Islamic environment.

I travel to seek knowledge and good character: I travel every weekday to a Quran school to learn Arabic, Quran, Islamic Studies, and to study with teachers and among other sisters who all encourage each other to good character. I travel on weekends to spend time with valued friends who I can rely on to seek Allah's pleasure.

I travel to accompany righteous companions: This is the most broad area of my travel because I have physically traveled to accompany righteous companions, and every day of my life I travel with many beautiful sisters, kindred spirits, along the path of this dunya towards our goal of Jennah. When one gets tired, another gives her a pep talk. When one gets sidetracked, another re-focuses her. When one struggles, another supports. It is the travel that reaps rewards and benefits without ever having to leave my home. While there are many downfalls of technology and this Internet Revolution, most certainly this is one of the most beautiful things about it. Sisterhood, brotherhood, the joining and uniting of believers in their struggles as they travel along life's path.

I am overwhelmed by the blessing of so many righteous companions on seeking to remain firmly on the Siraat al Mustaqeem (The Straight Path). "Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mean and Monstrous Mama Mai!

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Friday was a day of speaking my mind clearly, without "volume," and with perfect frankness. Who to? My daughters. This is something I haven't read about in the mothering books, blogs, and magazines but I think it is worth sharing.

My 7 year old is now praying all the prayers with her 10 year old sister and I, mashaa'Allah. This is a beautiful and blessed thing, wa al hamdu l'Illah. However, as soon as we finish praying she starts to talk to me, ask questions, or just chat about anything that comes to her mind. I, on the other hand, wish to say all my dua', adhkaar, and suwar after my prayer. Several times I have asked, or told, her not to talk to me or distract me until I'm finished, but she seems to forget that on a daily basis. So, last Friday when she proceeded to repeatedly ask me some relatively unimportant question, I stayed silent until I had finished my after prayer routine and then I spoke to her (and the other girls, as they were in the room as well). Here's what Mean and Monstrous Mama Mai said:

"Do you expect me to leave my communication with Allah to answer your non-urgent question or to chat with you? I have told you many times about this, but now I must make things clear. My Rabb and getting to Jennah are the most important things in my life. If this is my last prayer and adhkaar, then I need it to count for me, not against me. This time I spend with my Rabb may be the thing that tips my scales to the right hand side. I will not answer you or give you priority over Allah or my chances for Jennah. You are not more important than those things. If, for example, Allah should command me not to speak to you again, I would obey that command because obedience to Allah, subhaana wa taala,  is first."

Now, that is not verbatim because I don't have that photographic memory, but it is most certainly what I said. Some of you may be thinking by now, "Mai is a really harsh and mean mother!" However, I have realized that everything we do is an example and a lesson for our children. If my children don't see me put Allah first, they will not think it important. If they don't understand that NOTHING is more important than worshiping Allah and pleasing Him, then they will be lost. So, I'm not only taking care of my needs, but I'm walking the walk and talking the talk so they can see priorities in action.

I imagine that many of you nicer and sweeter mothers get the message across in a much more loving and indirect way, but that's what I did and no-one seems the worse for it, wa al hamdu l'Illah! Truly every ounce of good is from Allah, and every good intention is rewarded.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love your Lemons!

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh!

Through Allah's Grace and Inspiration, I wrote this to a dear sister of mine recently and I felt it was worth sharing with others.

There is no doubt that we are all exactly where we are meant to be. It's up to us to accept Allah's Qadar gladly, or not. Keep on striving and never give up the dua'. If we follow Allah's Guidance and seek His pleasure, He will never fail his faithful servants. He always gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. 
This is an analogy...but apply it to your life situations and you will surely find a great deal of appreciation for His blessings.

Lemons are a beautiful fruit. Some may think them sour, but they have a unique taste, smell, and many uses. Make lemonade from every single lemon...and use the peels for deodorizing, cleaning stainless steel, in a pot of tea, a little of the zest in muffins or a cake, then dry the skins that are left to make potpourri.
Get the FULL BENEFIT from everything you are presented in you can fully appreciate Allah's gifts.


BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum!

I think it is time I put in an appearance on this blog, especially as some people think I've dropped off the face of the earth. Since Ramadan, life has been very busy for my family and me. This is the year that I finally get something I've been yearning for - Arabic and Quran classes. Yes, my girls and I are all attending Dar al Haafidhaat here in Madinah al Munawarrah and we are growing like little sprouts there, mashaa'Allah.

My youngest daughter is in KG2, my other daughters are in the girl's class, which covers Quran, Tajweed, Islamic Studies, and Arabic. I am in mustawa thani (level 2 Madina books) and learn Quran, Tajweed, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language, Arabic Reading Comprehension, Arabic Composition, and Arabic Dictation. Wheee! I cannot express my joy aside from saying, "LA! LA! LA!"

Of course, I am also homeschooling the girls when we get back home around noon time and trying to stuff my own homework in somewhere between cooking dinner and going to bed. I'm a busy bunny, and my ideas are just lying unwritten because of all these developments. Never mind, though, as I'm having a break for Dhul Hijjah and Hajj, so there should be more time for sharing bi ithn Illah.

Some of the topics on my list of things to write about are:

- Sharing some of the Islamic websites that I have found excellent for my children.
- Sharing some thoughts on what has made a big impression on me lately.
- Adding to My Favorite Mind Food page.
- Consistency, constancy, and common sense in parenting.
- The long-term machinations and sharp angles that shaytaan catches us with.
- Some musings about polygany.

A thing that crossed my mind lately is that we must be aware and seek refuge with Allah from all the harm and evil in the things we do/read/are exposed to, and to beg Him for the good and benefit in them. This is important! For example., my daughter loves to read but I realized that although she derives benefit from reading, there can also be harm if shaytaan gets his way. I wrote out a little dua' for her to say before she starts reading a book, to safeguard her, inshaa'Allah. From this, the idea has blossomed and I see that we cannot be careful enough in protecting ourselves, because shaytaan never sleeps. Audhu b'Illahi min ashaytaan ir-rajeem!

Much love to you all!