Posts Tagged ‘Allah’

A parent’s guide to Hajj without children

 

Salaam!

First of all congratulations!!! May Allah SWT accept your Hajj and make you spiritually productive every moment you are there. Ameen.

In case you haven’t checked out my other posts on Hajj please check out the links here:



 

Hajj Without Children

If you’re nervous or even on the brink of panic attacks when you think of how you’re going to leave your child. Just relax, it’s perfectly normal. You’re going to be okay. Your child will be okay. Millions of parents perform Hajj without children and they don’t ever regret going. This is going to be an amazing experience Insha’Allah. Hopefully this post will help your time away from your child a little easier.

Our Story

Though going for Hajj was a dream come true, my husband and I tried to book the 1 week express Hajj package. Like most parents going for Hajj, we wanted to leave our only child (four years old then) for the least amount of time possible. To our disappointment, the  ‘One week Express’ package was sold out (fun fact: it costs the same as the 3-week package!). Our Hajj agent strongly recommended going for at least three weeks if one  hasn’t gone for Hajj/Umrah before. At the time we didn’t believe him. But he was so right. Three weeks didn’t feel like enough time.

Practice

Alhamdulillah we had tons of family to look after him, yet we were still super apprehensive about leaving him for 3 weeks. Since I’m a stay at home mom, he was used to always having a parent around and had never been away from me for longer than twelve hours . So first off, we practiced by having sleepovers at his cousins and grandparents homes. This could backfire if your child has a horrible sleepover experience. He will obviously assume that while you’re away ,it will be just as bad. Try to make these trial runs as fun and trauma free as possible. Our son spent the weekdays at my parents’ home (it was closest to his  school) and the weekends at home with my husband’s parents.

Books about Hajj for children

Books about Hajj for children (Image from http://www.rhymeandstories.co.uk)

We tried to mentally prepare him for our trip by showing him pictures of Hajj and reading books. We explained how excited we were for this trip. We let him know that once he was older he would get to go too. It was hard for him to digest that we would be apart for almost and entire month but he eventually came around. We made him feel like he was allowing us to complete this super important pillar of Islam and he would be rewarded immensely.  Eventually, it was as if he allowed us to go because he wanted us to go to Jannah! When he felt like he made the decision, the separation was less traumatic. He was involved in our Hajj experience this way.

Happy and Distracted

We believed that as long as our son was happy and distracted he wouldn’t have time or reason to miss us.

Since night-time is the hardest, we planned activities to keep him so busy and tired that he would fall asleep from exhaustion. It took a lot of help from our family and friends to make this possible. I pray that Allah  SWT grants them the absolute best in this life and even better in the Hereafter. Ameen. I prayed for each and every single one of them whole heartedly and still do. I pray that they know how much we appreciate every moment of their help. Since he was in Junior Kindergarten, we didn’t have to worry about homework after school. Every weeknight there was an activity planned. Example:On Day 4  Mamu will take him to Playdium from 5pm-7pm. On Day 5 Chachu will take him swimming from 5pm-7pm.

Make sure you set up a calendar of events to remind them even after you’re gone. I hung printed copies of the schedule on both grandparents’ fridges and gave everyone involved a physical copy.

Chai Tip: set up electronic Calendar alerts so that you don’t have to worry about reminding anyone while you’re on the journey of a life time.

A Present A Day

Hajj without children

A present a day while parents are away at Hajj

Every kid likes presents!

I bought and wrapped twenty-one gifts for him so he could open one per day. I mainly shopped at Dollarama- hey,I’m not made of money! I distributed the gifts to both sets of grandparents for them to give him one every day.

He loved it! However he didn’t understand that the gifts were from me. When we got back from Hajj, he showed me all the gifts that so and so got him. Umm no honey. Mama bought them for you! Whatever. As long as they served their purpose which was to make him happy.

Chai tip: let your child see the wrapped gifts, it will get him excited and give him something to look forward to.

Your Child 101

In order to make the experience as smooth as possible for your child and his caregivers, make sure you leave instructions and tips in WRITING. We created a 6 page document ‘Beta101’*. We included all sorts of information we thought would be useful for his caregivers to know, especially strange things that are important to him or can set him off. Example: he likes to eat cereal with a really big spoon. Please don’t try to make him use one that’s more size appropriate.

Obviously leave all the important health and general care information such as allergies, bed time/morning routines but also information that you might think they already know. Include information about favourite foods, favourite shows, things he/she finds frightening etc.

Caregivers

May Allah SWT immensely reward whoever is looking after your child while you’re away. It’s not easy looking after a child that misses his/her parents. It’s easy to overlook the sacrifices and hardships they’re going through when all you can think of is how you’re going to leave your baby for a few weeks. Make it as easy on them by providing them with as much information –not instructions– as possible.

Examples of information to include:

  •  his likes/dislikes
  • discipline methods he responds to
  • favourite topic of conversation
  • comfort food
  • leave a list of your child’s neighbours or friends and their numbers so the caregivers can arrange for playdates.

If your child goes to school, let his/her teachers know that you will be leaving him/her for a few weeks and that they may have to deal with unusual behaviours. The fact that I cried while speaking to his Junior kindergarten teacher, probably set the stage for what she could expect from him!

Staying in Touch

My son's journal while we were away at Hajj

My son’s journal while we were away at Hajj

As much as you want to know every detail of how your child is without you, resist the urge to call him often. Call your child’s caregivers for updates. I found directly speaking to my son always led to a sob fest on both ends. If I had to do it again, I would barely call him.

We left  behind a journal and asked his caregivers to write in it as often as they could (preferably everyday) so we wouldn’t completely miss out on three weeks of his life. It was asking a lot from them as they already had their hands full but it made a world of a difference for us! Subhan Allah it was so helpful and precious to read about how he spent his time without us. Sometimes he would ask them to leave us little messages or he would draw in it. It’s definitely a keepsake item!

Saying goodbye

Don’t bring the kids to the airport. Just don’t. Say your goodbyes at home or at the caregivers home but not minutes before you board your flight at an airport where hundreds of people are sobbing , hugging, begging for forgiveness and saying goodbyes as if it may be forever. Yes, a truly intense and emotional atmosphere. The kids are better off playing at a friend’s house or at the park while you make your dramatic Hajji exit.

Remember they will feed off of your emotions, so take deep breaths, smile, casually say Salam and calmly make an exit while they’re having fun. Feel free to sob the whole way to the airport, but don’t let them see you cry.

Chai tip: I highly recommend mentally rehearsing how you’re going to say bye. What will you say? What activity will you quickly distract them in case they get upset? What’s your game plan in case you get all teary?

 

Trust Al-Muhaymin

Parents make dua for children while at Hajj

Make dua for your child everytime you miss them.
(Image from http://www.qariziyaadpatel.com)

Leaving our son taught me that we are not his sole care takers. We are tools or vessels from which his True Guardian cares for him. As much as we may pride ourselves on our parenting skills, it is Allah who is watching over our children, providing for them, protecting them. Whether we are with them or not, it will always be Allah truly taking care of them.

Start making dua from now that Allah SWT keeps you and your child calm during your Hajj trip. I was so worried about how my son would handle our separation that I forgot to make dua for myself. I think I cried more than he did. Alhamdulillah, through Allah’s infinite mercy he fared a lot better than we could have hoped! People will tell you that you won’t even think about your child until Hajj is over. That’s not exactly true. You will miss your baby and probably shed a few tears.Every time that happens you will make so much dua for him that he will Insha’Allah be enveloped in blessings!  During the actual days of Hajj, what they say is true; you will be too distracted to miss your child.

Ready.Set.Go!

You are strong. Allah is the ultimate Guardian, Protector and Provider. You get to go on this incredible journey that millions are longing for. Make the most of it!  Every time you will miss your child, you will make beautiful duas for him in the holiest of places. Every hardship associated with your Hajj experience will be rewarded. You’re leaving your child behind to complete a pillar of Islam. How can you not know that everything is going to be all right?

You got this!

Chai later,

signature

 

*names have been changed because of a certain paranoid and over protective father.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Like a Ramadan Loser?

Feeling like a Ramadan Loser?

While stuffing my face at an Iftaar party yesterday, I came to the realization that the last 10 nights of Ramadan started that very night!

Ramadan Loser

Ramadan Loser

Yes, this Ramadan has not been one of the best ones unfortunately BUT it doesn’t mean I am destined be in the Ramadan loser category either! It ain’t over ’til it’s over. This is the final stretch and I can still finish off with tons of good deeds and have my sins forgiven.

A Ramadan Loser is someone who after this Holy month is over, is just as sinful as he/she was before it began and has not improved for the better at all.

Ramadan is supposed to be like a Professional Development or refresher course on how to ‘Muslim’. Allah locks up the devils and incites us to do more good deeds by multiplying the rewards 70 times.  ‘No shaytaan’ equals minimal sinning and multiplication of good deeds is supposed to help you rack up the rewards easily. Most importantly, this is the time when you’re supposed to re-learn the Qur’an and teach it to the rest of humanity (Not just Muslims).

Considering AllahSWT has set up the game in your favour, are you still going to end up losing?

Absolutely not!

This professional procrastinator has THE ultimate Ibadah hack list for anyone who has 10 minutes, $20 and a desire to earn good deeds.

(more…)

IF YOU KNEW ALLAH

If you knew Allah

Salaam!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan ready e-book- available on Amazon for $2.99

Ramadan ready e-book- available on Amazon for $2.99

How’s Ramadan so far? I hope you’re managing your mind, body and soul in such a way that your Ramadan is full of blessings and energy. If you’re lacking energy it’s probably because of what you’re eating. Check out my e-book Ramadan Ready for recipes and  tips on how to eat for the optimal Ramadan experience!

As for your mind and soul, I’m hoping this post will help you discover an entirely new way of understanding life; through knowing  Allah .

Instagram post via Inspired and Fabulous

Instagram post via Inspired and Fabulous

When I came across this post on Instagram by Inspired and Fabulous I couldn’t help but wonder how amazing life would be if everything was ‘good’. Not good as in nothing bad ever happens (that’s what Jannah is for), but good as in you are always able to understand why ‘bad’ things happen and extract the lessons and benefits of it. Imagine being at that spiritual level where you see the best in every single situation? How do people achieve that? Have they trained their minds to focus only on positives and become blind to the negatives? What is it that causes some people to always be in the state of Alhamdulillah?

My mother is one of those genuinely content and grateful people. She always sees the good in every situation, regardless of how ‘terrible’ it is. No matter what problem I have, after speaking to her about it I am grateful and more in love with Allah. She helps me see that every situation in life is an opportunity to harvest for our real lives – the akhira.

What’s her secret?

(more…)

The solution to being overwhelmed

The solution to being overwhelmed

Salam dear readers,

How’s it going?

Remember me??

I’m very sheepish and embarrassed as I write because of my surprise hiatus. I didn’t mean to abandon my blog for this long .I was overwhelmed with life to the point I felt paralyzed. I’m sorry.

I’ve been doing so much apologizing lately.

Apologizing for skipping out on social events, text messages and emails that I respond to after weeks. Missed phone calls that slip my mind. I don’t know what’s going on with me. It’s as if my days have shrunk and the hours have been reduced to 8 instead of twenty four. I know that’s a sign that spiritually I must be lacking because my time has no barakah.

So true.

I did what most people do when they are overwhelmed and the To Do list grows exponentially- start scaling back and focusing on the bare minimum in order to be able to at least complete all of the tasks.

The problem with this coping strategy is that it cannot be applied to salah and worship.

I had been praying (the minimum) but skipping my sunnahs because they are not fard (compulsory). As I rushed off the prayer mat to complete the next task, I justified skipping sunnahs and lacking proper concentration because at least I did what I had to do.

Clearly something wasn’t working and I was only sinking further in the quick sand of being overwhelmed.

Drowning in our To Do lists (Image from leadershiptraq.com)

Drowning in our To Do lists (Image from leadershiptraq.com)

I felt like my life was spiraling out of control and  everywhere I turned I realized  there were a billion unfinished tasks festering into bigger issues by the second and just thinking about what to do next tightened my throat to the point that it was hard to breathe let alone do anything.

Overwhelmed is an understatement.

But alas every dark cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining was this eureka moment that changed my life.

Salah is the solution to being overwhelmed.

 

Salah is not just an obligation, it’s the answer to everything.

Some of you may snicker like ‘duhhh, haven’t you read the verse:

O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.

(2:153)

I have, I just figured it was referring to making heartfelt dua at times of extreme hardship and war. Only now am I realizing that Allah is referring to the salah we pray five times, every single day.

This got me thinking that the reason I was quick to minimize my salah was because I didn’t truly understand it’s purpose.

I was praying for all the wrong reasons.

 

They say the way you pray or the state of your salah is a mirror image of the state of your life.

If you hurriedly pray pecking like a chicken in sujood, you are probably running around like a headless chicken in life too. If you pray like this, you are likely praying for the wrong reasons.

People pray for many reasons. Now, more than ever, I’ve realized that not just how you pray but why you pray is the key to understanding the state of your life.

Some people pray because they have to, others because they want to.

I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum and in between.  To be perfectly honest I could bounce between all the reasons in the same week!

 

I prayed because I had to The fear of hell fire or my moms chappal/slippers used to be good enough reason to get up and pray. Later I prayed because Allah was watching me and only hypocrites didn’t pray.

 

happy to cross prayer off checklist (image from pinterest.com)

happy to cross prayer off checklist (image from pinterest.com)

I prayed because I should. It felt good to complete my obligations. I felt like I was being good. It  was a relief not to feel guilty. As a kid, Salah was like accumulating points in a video game. The number of times you read Subhana Rabiyy al Aallah translated into X number of good deeds etc. As an adult, I cherished the feeling of accomplishment for reading all 5 prayers on time especially while working retail, travelling, or being in high school.

 

I prayed because I needed to. These prayers are some of the most humbling and pivotal moments of my life. No matter how many times I think about it, the intense emotions come rushing back like it was yesterday.

I made duah the same way I read about how the Prophet PBUH would pray in times of distress. I raised my empty, trembling hands towards the  All Powerful and begged Allah while uncontrollably sobbing the entire time. Those have been the darkest times of my life but Alhamdulillah relief was around the corner.

 

If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)

If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)

I prayed because it is good for me. If you don’t know the translation of salah, you are only reaping 30% of the benefits of it.  Only then will you learn that Surah Fatiha is an actual dialogue between you and Allah. You will pray calmly and purposefully when you understand the significance of ruku and sujood. Trying to stop your mind from wandering will not be an issue when you ponder the specific words Allah chose for us to recite over and over again. That is when you will realize that Salaah is not a ‘prayer’, it is a spiritual programming, set at specific times throughout the 24 hours of your day. The meaning humbles, reminds, comforts, warns, promises and guides us. Please, learn the meanings; it will transform your life!

I prayed because I wanted to. This is called sweetness of faith. I can’t fully explain the feeling. It’s joy, it’s sheer comfort, it’s being so happy you could cry. Allah is like your BFF, and you look forward to the giddy and cathartic feeling you get every time you ‘meet’.

You feel light as a feather and your heart beats freely because it’s no longer cluttered with all sorts of problems, anxieties, guilt and confusion.

 

I’m sure many of you have felt overwhelmed at one time or another. The number one advice I can give you is do not rush your salah and skip your adkhar.

Don’t make the mistake I made. The busier I got, the less time I spent ‘talking’ to Allah.

Rushing through it or treating it like an obligation instead of a solution is like quickly scanning over the prescription the doctor gave you instead of starting the treatment plan.

In times of stress and never ending to do lists, increase your Salah. When you pray purposefully and with understanding you feel relieved because you handed your burdens over to He who is capable of fixing everything.It gives you perspective, reminds you of your purpose in life and gives you true peace.Talk to Allah more; with Him lies the solution to your problems. Not enough time? Guess what? He controls time too. He can make the impossible possible. Just ask.

 

Chai later

signature

Fabulous Friday

Salaamz!
I’m still huffing and puffing from sending the hubby and my eldest out the door. Why are all mornings so hectic?
I hate sending my son off to school by yelling at him or scolding him.. but he just won’t wake up! Asking him nicely 46 times is not nearly as effective as ‘That’s it! GET UUUUPPPP!!’ Then everything goes according to schedule and I hate myself all day long for being so mean first thing in the morning and last thing before he sets off to spend the day without me. This happens almost twice a week.
But every Saturday and Sunday he’s bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 7am – without exception!
Sigh.
It’s not just mornings that have become hectic, as I mentioned last month I am taking the Ladypreneur 101 Course from The Business Boutique. It’s intense! I love how it’s forcing me to make sense of my bazillion ‘amazing’ ideas. I’m behind in my homework, my room is covered in sticky notes, days feel like hours and ‘real-life’ is just getting in the way of me actualizing my ideas! The experience of taking this course is unlike any other schooling or class I’v ever taken because I’m planning on applying 100% of the course material. It’s not about getting the right answer, it’s about truly learning so you don’t waste a bunch of money! It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Make duah for me please! (more…)

Part 4: 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage.

Salaamz!

As I publish post after post on the topic of love and marriage during my 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage series, I thought it would make sense if I gave a little more context to where my advice was coming from.

I was 22 years old when I was married. I was naive and very idealistic. I’m embarrassed to admit that Hollywood was my primary teacher when it came to relationship expectations.

Though my parents are the perfect example of a successful marriage Alhumdullillah, I didn’t recognize it as such back then. For some reason I felt like Monica and Chandler were more similar to the type of relationship I was going to have. I assumed the rules by which my parents abide wouldn’t apply to me because they had an arranged marriage that barely factored in their personalities – it was more of a merger of families. I was going to marry someone who shared my  vision and was compatible with me. Someone who made me laugh and ‘got me’ (and scored within the appropriate range in the ever accurate SEVENTEEN Magazine personality quizzes).

Monica and Chandler from FRIENDS

Monica and Chandler from FRIENDS

So, you can imagine the enormous amount  I learned in these past 10 years of marriage! The learning curve was pretty steep!

 

I must admit I was pretty short sighted when it came to married life.I thought that as long as you had two compatible spouses dedicated to the relationship , it was pretty much all you needed- it should  be smooth sailing from then on. I used to think that love is something that naturally happens and that if you had to ‘make it happen’ then it really wasn’t love.

How wrong I was! (more…)

Part 3: 10 things I learned after 10 years of marriage

Salaamz guys,

So we celebrated our Anniversary this Wednesday.. Allhumdullillah it was great! Technically there’s more celebrating left to do- we were planning a mini vacation, going away for a couple of nights somewhere local. We haven’t settled on where because we have yet to make a decision on whether or not the kids will be joining us. We’ve never spent the night apart from our youngest; he’s not two yet. I’m not sure if I would be able to enjoy our vacation because I would be too worried about how he’s doing. Sigh. So it’ll have to be a place that has activities for the kids.

Our actual anniversary was one long gluttonous day. We pretty much did a couple of outfit changes and ate out all day. Guilt free -I will hit the gym everyday for the next month- order the most expensive item off the menu – kind of day. My only regret is not taking many pictures. We are horrible with selfies and the restaurant we had dinner at was very dimly lit. The candle light dinner was ,more of a tiny pen light dinner.

10 years! Allhumdullilah, can’t believe it! So much has changed since then.

 

'Regret that we had Siamese Attachment Surgery? Never!'

‘Regret that we had Siamese Attachment Surgery? Never!’

When we first got married we were that annoying couple that makes you wanna cringe and gag. Just for the record, I DON’T MEAN PDA.  We couldn’t bear spending time without each other and when were apart we would be texting each other constantly. I’m pretty sure we drove our family and friends up the wall!

Why the exceptionally long honeymoon stage?

I believe a lot has to do with the fact that the entire experience was so new for us. Neither of us ever dated or had a romantic relationship  prior to being married. Even our courtship was very dry and by the book. Our interactions were always purposeful and limited to what was necessary. There was nothing romantic about it! So  moments after our nikkah we truly began to freely talk and get to know each other.We made up for a lifetime deprived of romance. My sister and sister in law are probably rolling their eyes right now..lol.  It was beautiful. We were on cloud nine everyday. I had never been happier in my life.

We’re a lot ‘better’ now, Aside from making a conscious decision to not be so joined at the hip, time, children and life in general helped as well.

Today’s post was supposed to be two points of what I learned after 10 years of marriage. Instead I had to cut it down to one point because I kept writing  and writing subtopics. Sorry! I’m really working on my excessive post lengths! (more…)

Haircuts, terrorism and humanity

Salaamz!

I know what you’re thinking..where is the next part to the 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage series?? I’ve been holding my breath waiting for it this whole time! Worry not, it’s coming!

As I sat down to put final edits to the marriage series post, I thought I would write a little bit about getting ready for the actual anniversary day- which happens to be today!

As part of my anniversary festivities, I decided to get my hair done:, wash, cut style and a hot oil treatment- the works.

Getting the works (image from project52pros.com)

Getting the works (image from project52pros.com)

My usual place(if you can consider 6-18 months usual) for haircuts used to be a chic salon at the mall. Not only did  they do an amazing job but they had a specific section built for Hijabi’s!I feel it is our obligation as Muslims to support businesses that cater to our needs so beautifully- and if I get a gorgeous style out of it then all the better, right??

I called them last night to book an appointment. Apparently they changed names and split into two locations. The receptionist was friendly until I mentioned that I would like the woman only room. I couldn’t help but notice that she sounded cold all of a sudden.

I brushed it off at first. There’s a lot going on in the news lately and maybe I was being a tiny bit paranoid. So I justified it to myself.

Erdos-Bloody-Scissors (Image from adst,org)

Erdos-Bloody-Scissors (Image from adst,org)

Later that evening as I was PINning haircut ideas I kept thinking about what might happen the next day. What if my stylist was a Muslim hater? Enough to give me the haircut from Hell? What if I get attacked? I’d be in a pretty vulnerable position. Seated. hijab-less. Eyes forward. Under an apron. Arms sealed away.  This woman bearing sharp shears and swaying and snipping  to and from my head.

 

And then I thought to myself Wow, it’s just a haircut! (more…)

10 things I learned after 10 years of marriage

Salaamz!

So it’s November Allhumdullillah..the month of my Wedding Anniversary!  This year is our big 1-0! Can you believe it?? I can’t! Lol..the fact that I can’t believe it offends my husband. “Did you not think we would make it this far?” He asked me all startled.

It’s not that..I just can’t believe that I’ve been married for a decade Allhumdullillah.

As I’m getting ready to celebrate 10 years of marriage, I can’t help but remember the four other couples that didn’t make it. Within my social circle there were 7 couples getting married around the same time. Today 4 of them are divorced. In fact, two marriages broke down within the first four months.
Being a paranoid worry wart to begin with, I couldn’t help but be effected by the marriages crumbling around us.
Were we next? Could their divorces have been avoided? Or was this simply another example of bad things happening to good people? (more…)

10 ways to be the best you

“Everything you need to know about how to live life, you can learn from a flight attendant”.

air hostess (image from makeupandbeauty.com)

air hostess (image from makeupandbeauty.com)

I waited for him to say more but it seemed like his statement was complete. With a raised eyebrow, I slowly nodded and tried to smile politely as I mentally put the Naturopath sitting across from me in the ‘quack box’. The quack box is a place in my mind where I put people who have crazy ideas, like the aunty’s who tell you to stare at white people through out pregnancy if you want fair skinned children.
Why did it take me 5 months to get an appointment with this guy? He spoke very slowly and simply; I couldn’t help but think either he was slow or he thought I was slow. Initially I had a hard time telling if he was simply pausing or finished talking; I had cut him off at least four times in the past two minutes!

He was the complete opposite of me, I talk fast, use my hands to sign out half the conversation and make a lot of sudden gestures. He speaks, moves, blinks and breathes slowly.

But he thinks really fast.

Within ten minutes of our session he described me to the T. It was frightening and comforting all at once. I quickly removed him from the Quack box and leaned in to hear what he had to say. (more…)

1 2