Thursday, December 8, 2016

How I’ve Been: Not an Update or an Explanation: Just Some Words from My Heart

Thank You.

And I mean that. Over the past decade, I have met so many people in so many different places who will always have a special place in my heart. Whether it was the henna you painted on my skin to make me feel like a queen, or the conversation we had over tea. Whether it was advice that I didn’t even understand until years later, or a jewel you dropped on me right in the nick of time that changed my life….

You taught me how to pray.
You served up a frozen pizza with some laughs.
You cooked your famous curry made from scratch.
You patted my pregnant belly and said a prayer.
You asked me to teach you the Fatihah.
You taught me your language and I taught you mine.
You watched my children while I napped.
You taught my girls something that I could not.
You came to me, trusting me with your despair.

Our children rolled around on the green masjid carpet and imitated us in salat.
Our children played on the playground and we etched the moment in our memories.

I wept on your shoulder and you never revealed my pain to a soul.
We laughed hard and didn’t talk about deeper things, because the joy was enough.

A hug
A kiss
A lingering handshake
That was all I needed at that time to make the connection to You.

It seems like lately I have been MIA from my own life. When you withdraw in the way I have, people reach out at first frequently, but over time the texts and calls dwindle. I just wanted to let YOU (THE ALL OF YOU) know that I am still here, still feeling your love.

I’ve always been more of a visit-in-person friend, which is why the memories of mommy-n-me’s and halaqas and quiet personal visits are most fondly etched in my mind. Although I miss those times, I trust the old advice of a dear sister who reminds me, “Everything we go through prepares us for the next thing.” Right now, I am on the front lines, with schoolwork, mothering, and being an active member of my family, especially my mom, who needs me.  And that is okay. Just as my life has taken turns in the past, I’m sure another turn is around the corner inshaAllah. I pray Allah guides me and protects my family. Ameen. But for now, I’m just doing what I do best, being me.

Thank you for giving me what you had and taking from me what I offered. The energy from our good times carry me when I am knee deep in my studies, or facing some dilemma. Thank you for giving me the space I needed to grow and rest and buckle down. Our friendship is not lost nor forgotten! See you soon inshaAllah!

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Could it be that every time I get pregnant I return to blogging? Well, the short answer is Yes!

When a woman is pregnant it’s like her whole life flashes before her eyes. Lots of questions and fears and excitement culminate inside of her. There are the life questions: What have I accomplished in all these years I’ve been on Earth? Who am I? Have I lost my identity? Do I enjoy my life? Then there are the mommy questions: Am I ready for this [again]? Do I have enough love inside me to spread it among all these people? Have I failed the children I already have? Is this physically possible? And then the spiritual questions: Why did Allah choose me to have these children, at these ages, at this time in my life?

So I know you’re waiting for me to address the title. The answer is Yes, TWINS! At my 20-week ultrasound the sonographer candidly announced that the ultrasound would take twice as long because she had to evaluate TWO babies. I almost choked on my own tongue.

I looked up at the monitor and sure enough there were two little heads. And four arms and four legs and twenty fingers and toes. I was in utter shock, yet I was completely elated. It was a secret childhood fantasy of mine to have girl/boy twins. But in the fantasy those were my only children… Hahaha, jokes on me! But seriously, I was happy, I couldn’t stop giggling and saying “Are You Serious!?” Then I would say Alhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar under my breath. I knew this was a major blessing.

So much to say… I don’t want to write a super-long blog, but . . .

like I said, there is just so much on my mind. For starters, I’ll describe how I’m feeling right now at 27weeks 4days: heavy, uncomfortable, tired, tight, stretched to the max, PAIN, foggy, unattractive, useless, and tearful... and HOT! It’s okay, don’t rush me to the ER or the psyche ward! I don’t feel like this all the time. Sometimes when I’m feeling really down, I will get an Angel message. What is an angel message?

The little old pale woman with the white hair approached me in the supermarket yesterday. I was in pain from my huge protruding heavy belly and the blood was rushing out my brain, making the room spin. I was praying just to make it out of the ACME on two feet.

“You are ready!” she exclaimed. Everyone has been saying this to me lately. Even through my large draping dresses, people can see that my belly is huge and low, this would usually indicate a woman in close to birth.
“No.” I slowly shake my head and grin. “I’m only seven months. I’m having twins” I prematurely chuckle because I’ve said this to so many people lately that I’m anticipating her surprised reaction.

“Oh my! Two?” she uncurled two shaky wrinkled fingers to affirm she heard correctly. When I nodded yes, she leaned in closely and told me her story. She had two children by the time she was 40 years old and then got pregnant again. She went into labor and delivered her child only to her the most devastating words any mother can hear after giving birth. Stillborn. After the doctor sadly reported the news, he looked her square in the eye and said, “You will have another child.” Three months later she was with-child again and gave birth to her last child, her first boy. After telling me this story she looked me in the eye and said,

 “God is with you. Don’t ever think he isn’t. I realize now that I wasn’t supposed to have my third child with me. That child went straight to God. God is with you always. Everything will be fine. God Bless YOU.” And she slowly pushed her cart down the dairy aisle. And I wanted to cry. Thank You Allah. Thank you for the Angel message.

Sometimes these messages come from family and friends. Just simple texts telling me I’m beautiful. How did you know I was feeling low? A tight hug from my husband that lifts me out my seat, relieving my pain for those few seconds. My children telling me I’m the best mom ever. How did they know I was feeling like I was letting them down because I really can’t do much these days?

Angel messages are how I describe those little and big signs of divine affirmation, telling us everything really is okay. More than okay, our lives, even our trials are divine and blessed. So be grateful!

“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Qur’an, 2:286).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hit Me And I'll Hit You Back!

I’m going to say it right off: hitting is primitive. It is. I think of the caveman hitting the woman over the head and dragging her to his cave, claiming her as his own. I would think we as human beings would have evolved to a point by now where we didn’t have to use physical violence to prove our point. Some would argue that violence is a part of the human genome, and to that I say, Prove it!
 As parents, we don’t want to see our children picked on or pushed around, and we lack the knowledge of any better solution so we say, “If so-and-so hits you first, you hit them back.” The funny thing is I’ve seen parents tell their child this when it was obvious to me and everyone else around that their child was the aggressor.
It seems like today’s society is angrier and more violent than any other. Teenage girls are making Youtube videos of other teenage girls being beaten to a pulp by their peers. Sports stadium riots and beatings are on the rise, with more occurrences than ever before. Call it lack of moral and family values. Call it lack of religion and belief in sin and judgment.
Perhaps I’ll argue you about wars and world peace another time. Let’s make it more personal for right now. I hear some parents who yell at their boys – and girls – “If he hits you, you better hit him back!”
Yes, I will confess that I even told this to Ruqi once because I was distraught when she told me the boy in the red shirt was hitting her at preschool.  I wasn’t raised with this type of thinking, but I guess we all question our own upbringings, right?
My parents always taught NO HITTING. And guess what? I was never in a fight, and I never got picked on. I think it was all about confidence for me. My brother did not escape the punishment of unforgiving children as easily. He was teased and picked on, and that is probably the fear I have for my own children. But I now realize that there are other mechanisms we can use as parents to get the best of both worlds: a child who is both confident and non-violent. Talking to your children about conflict resolution from a young age is key and also demonstrating it in the household. If mommy and daddy and verbally/physically abusive or short-tempered, that is the lesson being taught to the child.
The ethic code starts with us the parents. What will we teach our children? As parents and caregivers we have the unique opportunity to be the very first moral influence on these young minds.  What will you choose?
P.S. I know what some of y’all are thinking: Is she saying a child should sit there and get beat up, and not fight back? NO!! Not at all. Even the Qur’an states that violence is permissible once one is transgressed. I am simply saying we as parents need to be examples of non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution J

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making it Through

Before I became a mom, I had all these ideas of what kind of mom I would be. No sugar before 3 years old. Won’t tolerate any whining. Keep house clean and neat. Ha!! Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I set a lot of standards because at least I have a mental goal of what type of mom I want to be. However, I have also learned that being a mom many days it just about getting through the day : Are they fed? Are they bathed? Are they still alive!? Do I still have my sanity? Yes? Ok, the day was a success.

A great example of one of the expectations I set for myself is homeschooling. I have not ruled it out by any means. However, now I think, Do I really want to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my children for the next 15-18 years? Really? So I told myself, “It will be great if you can homeschool, but it’s just fine if you don’t. You are still a good mom.” If homeschooling will bring on more stress and confusion than rewards, what’s the point? This goes with anything in our child-rearing.

Sometimes we look at other moms and other children and they look like they are doing everything right and we are doing everything WRONG. Why is my kid running around during salat, Sister so-and-so’s kids are good. They make salat quietly alongside the adults. My kids are rolling around, pulling at my scarf. People must think we don’t pray at home. We do! We do!

But what we don’t see is that Sister so-and-so is not perfect and neither are her children. Every parent has problems and struggles, perhaps maybe some more than others. Allah knows best! So, be a good Mom. Be a good Dad. Do your best. Have standards. Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t sacrifice your mental and physical health. Ask Allah for patience and gratitude.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan for Mommies :)

Get Ready… Get Set… GO!!!

And we’re off! Ramadan is here! It is actually here! Aren’t you excited? I know I am. I was very nervous at first because I have gone four years without fasting because of being pregnant and nursing back-to-back. And it’s not just the fasting. I felt kind of resentful because I knew I wouldn’t be able to curl up with the Qur’an and other Islamic materials and just read and relax throughout the day. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old. There will be no peace.

So okay, then I thought- why not embrace the crazy excitement that the kiddos bring into this whole thing? You know, the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” I can’t lock myself in a closet all Ramadan to read and pray and peacefully exist in serenity. It’s just not my reality. And I certainly do not have a nanny. Therefore, I decided to get the girls really involved. It’s a little more challenging when they are so young, but that makes it even more fun.

My first step was to arm myself with Islamic DVDs, books, CD Roms, and craft ideas. I went to 52nd street here in Philadelphia - where I will be spending this Ramadan InshaAllah. Between 2 Islamic stores, I managed to get a couple Adam’s World DVD’s, a great little book called, Allah Made This, a cute pink hijab for Ruqi, and a replacement CD of I Look I See (which I play in the car nonstop and they never get tired of it!). I also bought a DVD called: A is for Asad (Lion) which teaches the Arabic Alphabet.

If you take nothing from this post at least take this: Never underestimate your children! Ruqi is picking up on the concepts of Arabic and Ramadan so quickly and little Saja dances to the songs and throws her hands up whenever she hears “Allahu Akbar!” Children will learn what you allow them to learn and they are very adaptable. They watch your every movement and listen to your every word. This Ramadan, let’s be the best examples we can for our children and all the youth who are looking to us for guidance.

Ramadan Mubarak!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Five Ways to Eat Healthier on a Poor Man’s Budget

I created this post because it truly is hard to eat healthy on a limited income. Many Americans are struggling, being underpaid or unemployed. Unfortunately, one of the first cutbacks we tend to make is to our food budget. And it is even more unfortunate that fruits and vegetables are much more costly than junkfood and processed food. There is a value menu at every fast-food joint, but the healthy foods tend to have consistent high price tags, turning them into a menu item for the privileged.
But fear not! My parents raised me and my brother on split pea soup, lentils, salads, tofu, bean sprouts, and banana bread. We were poor growing up, but they didn't allow our budget to be a raodblock to our good health and well being.

1.        Buy Beans… they’re Cheap, Healthy and Tasty. If one variety gives you gas, try another, there are so many!

2.        Buy your Produce Wholesale or at Produce Markets where you can get deals like “1 bag of apples/ $1”

3.        Seasons + Staples = buy brown rice and whole wheat noodles in bulk, and incorporate them in everyday meals. Experiment with seasoning so it doesn’t get boring!

4.        Healthy Potlucks Instead of Eating Out! Getting together with friends can be a lot cheaper and lower in calories if you gather at someone’s house and everybody contributes a fun healthy dish!

5.        Pack a Lunch… or Breakfast or Dinner or Snack! It’s been said over and over by every nutritionist- making your lunch at home will save you both valuable money and calories.

**Bonus Tip! Grow your own fruits and vegetables in your yard, in pots in your kitchen, or at a community garden. The feeling of eating your very own freshly grown food in amazing J

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting back to me…

Hired a sitter….

Going on runs like the old days…

Doing hair, well somewhat….

Sitting down with a hot cup of tea… at least twice a day.

Listening to music I enjoy whenever I get the chance…

Thanking God for ALL THE BLESSINGS….