Monday, August 31, 2009

One of My Ramadan Desserts: Katayef (Pancakes) with Walnut Stuffing

This photo is courtesy of You can also find a Jordanian verision of this recipe there.

Katayef is one of my personal favorites even though I have never been really good at making it. My mom, however, is a genius when it comes to katayef. Here is her recipe.

Katayef with Walnut Stuffing (Pancakes stuffed w/walnut stuffing)

3 cups flour
1 cups farina/cream of wheat
½ tsp of yeast
2 cups water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking power, ½ tsp of baking soda
A pinch of salt (this I will never understand)

You can hand mix or use a blender. Add water, farina, yeast and sugar. Blend/Mix well.
Slowly add the flour and continue to blend. Add in baking power and soda.
Heat a griddle or non stick skillet with med-high heat. Power mix in medium circles like you do with pancakes.
Cook golden brown, no need to flip over- remove after the one side is golden brown.
Let cool.
While cooling the pancakes, prepare the walnut stuffing.

Walnut Stuffing
2 cups walnuts – crushed
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp fine coconut (this is optional)
Mix ingredients well.
Stuffing the pancakes
Place about one tbsp stuffing on each pancake.
Fold over, pressing the edges together to close.

Heat your over to about 400 degrees.
Grease a baking tray. Line the katayef up with each with cooking oil.
Place in oven for about 10 mins, and then flip over to the other side to brown for another 10 minutes.
Let Cool.
While your katayef are baking and cooling, prepare your syrup.

Mix 3 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar in a medium pot with a 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Bring to a boil and keep stirring on a high heat. Reduce to medium heat and let simmer until texture of syrup is thick.
You can now dip the katayef in the syrup until they are each completely covered.

You can serve right way. Katayef is best served warm.

Teaching Your Children About Islam #5: Teaching Islam to your children is part of your Islamic Duty

Islam teaches us to be successful and the way to do so is to utilize our knowledge of the Quran and to practice the sunnah way of life. We need to constantly focus our time, our efforts, emotions and patience in learn Islam, not just for us to be successful, but for us to be able to share Islam with our children. Teaching them Islam and the sunnah way of life is the best gift that we can give our children. We are accountable for our children’s successes and failures in this life and in the hereafter. It is our duty as Muslims to teach our children to be accountable. Our prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has made it clear that the way of the sunnah is be responsible and accountable for our children and our families.

There is a story where Abdullah ibn Umar heard the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing upon him) saying that:

"Everyone of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband's house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for it." I heard that from Allah's Apostle and I think that the Prophet also said, "A man is a guardian of is father's property and is responsible for it, so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care." Hadith of Bukhari 3/592

The statement above shows how our Prophet (peace and blessing upon him) commands Muslims to be responsible for their families and their children. Thus, the best way to do this is to teach our children Islam, as Allah has told us that our children, as are our wealth and possessions, are a test from Allah. “Your riches and your children may be but a trial: whereas Allah, with Him is the highest Reward.” [Qur'an 64:15]

Because our children are a trial and that all riches attained are not as high as pleasing the Almighty Allah, we must guide our children to Islam. In order for us to pass Allah’s test, our children must worship and please Allah, our creator. By teaching our children Islam properly, we give them the best education we can give them. Isha’Allah.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Islamic Stories #2: How It All Started

This is one of my favorites and it brings tears to my eyes each and every time.

Nearly 4,000 years ago in Sumerian town of Ur in the Valley of the River Euphrates (now a southern province of Iraq), lived a young man named Abraham. The people of Ur once worshipped Allah, but as time passed they forgot their true faith, and started praying and worshipping idols as statutes made of wood and clay and sometimes even stones. Abraham could not understand this. How could people worship things they made with their own hands? He would often leave the town to sit alone and think about the heavens and the earth and world around him. He believed wholeheartedly that the worship of his people was wrong and that there was a right way of worship.

One night, Abraham sat staring at the sky and saw a beautiful shining star, so he said “This must be Allah!” (Quran vi.77) The star then faded away and he became disappointed. Another night Abraham saw the rising moon and he though to himself “This is my Lord.” (Quran vi. 78) But the set and Abraham began to wonder: “Unless my Lord guide me, I surely shall become one of the folk who are astray.” (Quran vi. 78).

Abraham started to see the beauty in the moon and the sun and the stars. Abraham began to realize that Allah was the most powerful and Allah was the creator of everything: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, etc. This understanding made Abraham feel at ease, because he finally realized the truth. He went back to his father and the town’s folks and inquired what it they worshiped. They told him that they worshipped and were devoted to idols. He asked them if their idols heard them when they cried or did their idols benefit them in any way or harm them. They responded in the negative.

To this, Abraham became angry and told them that Allah created them and guided them. It was Allah who fed them and it was from Allah that they drank water. It was Allah who healed when they were sick. It was Allah who allowed death and it would be Allah that lifted humanity to the heavens and Allah who would forgive them for their sins.

What do you worship? They said: We worship idols, and are ever devoted to them. He said: Do they hear you when you cry? Or do they benefit or harm you? They said: Nay, but we found our fathers acting in this manner. He said: See now that which you worship, you and your forefathers! Lo! They are (all) an enemy to me, except the Lord of the Worlds. Who created me, and He guides me, And Who feeds me and waters me. And when I sicken, then He heals me. And Who causes me to die, then gives me life (again) And Who, I ardently hope, will forgive me my sin on the Day of Judgment. (Quran xxvi.70-82)

One day, when the townspeople were away, Abraham smashed the idols, expect for the ones they were too large. They asked Abraham who had done such a thing, and Abraham responded that they should ask their Gods. To this, the people responded that the idols do not speak.

To this, Abraham responded: ‘Do you worship what you yourselves have carved when Allah created you and what you make?' ‘Do you worship instead of Allah that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?' (Quran xxxvii.9S—6, xxi.66).

Abraham then issued a warning to the townspeople:

Serve Allah, and keep your duty unto Him; that is better for you if you did but know. You serve instead of Allah only idols, and you only invent a lie. Lo! Those whom you serve instead of Allah own no provision for you. So seek your provision from Allah, and serve Him, and give thanks unto Him, (for) unto Him you will be brought back. (Quran, xxix. 16-17)

The people decided to punish Abraham by burning him to death. The King of Ur and the townspeople gathered as Abraham was put into a closed-off building filled and made with wood. The fire was so bad that the people were pushed back by the flames.

Allah said: “O’fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham.” (Quran, xxi. 69)

When the fire died down, they saw Abraham sitting as if nothing happened. The people of Ur, despite the miracle before them, still not convinced of the presence and power of Allah. Abraham implored his father to stop serving the devil and to reject the gods of Ur, and his father would not. Abraham was threatened with stoning, and left Ur, sadly without his father.

Abraham left his home and went into the wilderness alone. He could not remain in Ur among people who worshipped statutes. He travelled long and far and then settled in what is not Palestine. This is where he married Sarah. Unfortunately, Sarah and Abraham were not blessed with a child and Abraham married another woman, Hagar who gave him a son, Ishmael. Years later, Sarah had a son and they named him Isaac. Allah told Abraham to leave Palestine to a new land with Hagar and Ishmael only.

Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael leaving Palestine was a wonderful and important part of Allah’s plan for Islam. You see, the decedents of Ishmael would form a nation from which a prophet would be born that would guide the people in the way of Allah. This would be Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him). From the decedents of Sarah’s son, Isaac, would come Moses and Jesus.

Well Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael left Palestine and travelled until they reached what is now Mecca. There was no water in the valley of Mecca, but Abraham left Hagar and Ishmael knowing Allah would take care of them. With no water, Hagar found two hills, one called Safa and the other Marwah. She went up one hill and found no water. Then she went up the second hill and again, found none. She did this seven times going up and down both hills. Then she returned to her son and to her surprise she found a spring of water bubbling out from the earth beneath him. The spring, near where Hagar and Ishmael settled, was later called Zamzam.

The area where Hagar and her son settled became the city of Mecca. Abraham would visit his family from time to time, travelling from Palestine to Mecca. During one of his visits to Mecca, Allah commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build the rebuild the Ka’bah, the very first place that people worshipped Allah. Allah told them exactly how to build it – it would stand straight up by the wall of Zamzam and be in the shape of a cube. Its eastern corner was to be built using black stone that fell to earth from heaven, and was brought to them by an angel from the hill of Abu Qubays. Abraham and Ishmael worked hard and prayed that Allah would send a prophet from among their decedents.

After the completion of the Kabah, Allah commanded Abraham to call mankind to his Holy House. Abraham was not sure if anyone would hear his call, but Allah told him that Abraham would call them and Allah would bring them. This call is how the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca started and til this day, the people of Islam continue to answer the call of Abraham.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Islamic Stories #1: The Prophet is Born

These weres stories I heard growing up and I wanted to share them.

One day, an Arab tribe of Mecca was traveling and met a hermit in the desert, and some of the men in the group stopped to speak with him. Hermits were known for being wise and the tribes relied on them for advice in those days. The hermit asked the group where they were from and they responded that they were from Mecca. Then, the hermit told them that soon Allah would send them a prophet, and that prophet would be born among their people. The hermit also told them that the new prophet’s name would be "Muhammad" and that he would guide them into a new way of life.

Meanwhile, back in Mecca, Aminah, the mother of our soon-to-be prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him, was saddened by the loss of her husband, and was at the time pregnant with a boy. During her pregnancy, she had many dreams, and one occasion, she dreamt that there was a great light shining out of her, and on another occasion, she dreamt that she heard a voice telling her that she would have a boy and his name would be "Muhammad." She never forgot that voice, but kept her dream to herself.

On a Monday, the 12th day of Rabi al-Awwal, in the year of the Elephant, Aminah gave birth to her son. Allah had sent many signs that one of his chosen prophets would be born on that date in the year 570 A.D., and these signs were seen. Many Jewish scholars who read the scriptures knew of these signs. One of the scholars of the town of Yathrib saw a brillant new star in the sky that he had never seen before the night our prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was born. He called the people around him to show them the star and told them that that sign meant that the new prophet was born.

The same night, another Jew passed the meeting place of Qurayash in Mecca. He asked them if a baby boy had just been born among their people. His question was confirmed and he told them if that were true, then the boy would be the Prophet of the Arab nation.

Aminah sent news of the birth to her father-in-law, Abd al-Muttalib, who was sitting near the Kabah when the news came. He was delighted and began to think of a name for the child. Six days had passed and he was not able to find the right name for the child. On the seventh day, Abd al-Muttalib feel asleep near the Kabah, and dreamt that he should name the child "Muhammad", just as Aminah had dreamt. Thus, the child was called Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The name Muhammad means "the Praised One."

When Abd al-Muttalib was asked by the leaders of Qurayash what he named his grandson. Many asked him why he would choose such a name and not a name that their people would name. He told them that he wanted his grandson to be praised by "Allah in the heavens and by men on earth."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don’t Forget Your Zakat

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is mentioned well over 70 times in our Glorious Quran, and after Salah, it is the most important act in Islam.

The meaning of the term “Zakat” is “purity” or “cleanliness.” You must set a portion of your wealth for the poor and needy so that one’s soul and wealth is purified. Wealth is impure in Allah’s eyes if you do perform your Zakat. Moreover, your soul would be impure because not giving Zakat means you are ungrateful.

You must perform your Zakat in a monetary manner. Those who fulfill this duty are promised abundant reward in this world and the hereafter. Evading your Zakat means consequences as warned in our Glorious Quran.

The benefits of Zakat include:

It reminds Muslims of the fact that whatever wealth they may possess is due to the blessings of Allah and as such it is to be spent according to the His commands.

Zakat functions as a social security for all. Those who have enough money today pay for what they have. If they need money tomorrow they will get what is necessary to help them live decently.

Zakat payer pays his dues to Allah as an act of worship, a token of submission and an acknowledgment of gratitude. The receiver of Zakat receives it as a grant from Allah out of His bounty, a favor for which he is thankful to Allah.

Economically, Zakat is the best check against hoarding. Those who do not invest their wealth but prefer to save or hoard it would see their wealth dwindling year after year at the rate of the payable Zakat. This helps increase production and stimulates supply because it is a redistribution of income that enhances the demand by putting more real purchasing power in the hands of poor.

Source: Easy Islam,

Moreover, Zakat obligatory upon:

Every adult who is sane, free and Muslim.
Wealth must be in excess of a specified amount, excluding personal belongs
It should be possessed for one complete lunar year.
Zakat should of some productive nature that derives benefit or profit, i.e, merchandise, gold, livestock, etc.

For more information on calculating Zakat, visit Easy Islam.

Allah tells us of the virtue of giving Zakat in the Quran:

"The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom He pleases." (Quran 2:261)

Benefits derived from giving Zakat include: the pleasure of Allah, increase in wealth and protection from losses, Allah’s forgiveness and blessings, protection from the wrath of Allah and from a bad death, shelter on the Day of Judgment, and security from 70 misfortunes.

The Quran also tells us the punishment of not giving Zakat:

"And there are those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the Day of Judgment heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell. Then with it they will be branded on their forehead and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you have been hoarding." (Al-Quran 9:34-35)

Your Zakat must be paid by the end of Ramadan. There are many of us struggling through some tough economic times, but we still need to perform our Zakat. Remember, Zakat is contingent upon your income, and if you are unable to give Zakat in monetary form, you can give something of value away, like livestock or business services.

For some examples on how to calculate Zakat, visit Iman’s Corner at the Islamic Center of Raleigh.

In the meantime, I hope your Ramadan is blissful and beautiful. Isha’allah.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Teaching Your Children About Islam #4: Why do Muslims Fast?

Children ask this question with curiosity. This is your chance to explain the greatness of Islam to them. My son asked me this recently and I had to do some research on answer. Just because we are parents and raised in the Islamic faith does not mean we know the answers. Here are some explanations that you can provide your children with.

First, it is our ibadah (our worship) to Allah. According to our prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him), the month of Ramadan is a great and blessed month. Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam. We fast to please Allah. Fasting, like the other pillars of Islam, helps us to be positive, practice good will, and good character in our lives and our communities. Fasting helps us develop faithfulness devotion to God.

Another reason for fasting is we build good and moral characters because our consciousness is provoked. A God conscious and fearing heart causes us to act positively. We become self-purified, self-motivated and self-inspired to do good. Our hearts are peaceful and through this, we create positive energy. Moreover, we more aware about doing right and staying away from the wrong. Our consciousness is called Taqwa (God- consciousness).

Another great thing that comes out through our fasting and our awareness is our development for strong action and good intention towards brotherhood and sisterhood. Fasting, especially Ramadan, brings people together at numerous times during the day: at Suhr (predawn meal), Iftaar (sunset meal) and Tarawih prayers (special Ramadan prayers), instead to the normal five times a day prayers.

Ramadan is also a month of sharing and giving charity. Sadaqah is the voluntary charity whereas Zakah is required of every Muslim. Our Prophet (Peace and Blessing Be Upon Him) said: “If someone gives one who has been fasting something with which to break his fast, it will provide forgiveness for his sins."

There are so many more reasons for fasting in Ramadan. The month of Ramadan was the month that our Glorious Quran was revealed. Fasting brings us closer to the Quran and we must aim to complete at least one reading of the Quran, especially during the Tarawih prayers.

Fasting also teaches us patience and commitment. We learn patience to endure hunger and thirst. We understand the sufferings of the poor and needy and thus, we learn to be compassionate. Patience is also very important in understanding right and forbidding the wrong. We also learn self and social discipline. The waking, the prayer, the breaking of the fast, and so forth help us to create order in our lives. Community relationships are stressed in Ramadan because people come together to understand and practice. Everyone is part of the Islamic community, rich or poor, and no one is different or better in Allah’s eyes.

Allah revealed two verses that spelt out our reasons for fasting.

"O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to attain) piety" (Q2:183)

"(fasting is) for a fixed number of days: but if any one of you is sick, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from (other) days later. For those who can do it (with hardship) is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But whoever can give more (than this) of his own free will--(then) it is better for him, and it is better for you that ye fast, if ye but knew." Q(2:184)
When these two verses revealed, the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to the Muslims "Ramadan fast is a divine obligation but whoever likes to fast `Ashura day (as well) may do so voluntarily or leave it".

The Ramadan fast is a blessings to Muslims. Allah gave us the entire month of Ramadan as a blessing and our opportunity not to lose sight of who we are.
Share this with you children and you will be surprised with their responses.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Suhr Favorites

This is a memory I miss about growing up in a big family during Ramadan – Suhr. Here are couple of my favorite Suhr recipes.

Tomato Salad w/Tahini Sauce


3 tomatoes
1 large cucumber
2 garlic cloves – crushed
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mint, if available, about 1/2 cup chopped
½ cup tahini sause

Dice tomatoes and cucumber (mint) – leave some mint for later
Mix tahini with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. You can add a little water to lighten the thickens
Add tahini mix with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and mix well
Pour olive over as a garnish with some mint.

Palestinian Omelet – Makes two omelets

6 eggs slightly beaten
4 tablespoons parsley chopped
½ bunch green onions chopped
4 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon fresh (or dry) chopped mint
½ an onion chopped, if you like
Any other veggie you would like to add
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together expect butter
Place 2 tablespoons butter in pan and heat
Drop ½ the egg mixture in skillet
When set, turn the omelet to the other side. Fry until golden brown
Repeat same for second omelet

What are your favorite Suhr favorites? Share those on your blog and leave a link here. Thanks.

A couple of my favorite Ramadan dishes

Growing up, these were famous recipes at my home during the month of Ramadan. Now that I am older, these recipes remind me of growing up. I lost my father in 1994 and this year, Ramadan happens to be on the anniversary of his death and these two recipes make me feel closer to him and closer to home.

Fattoush Salad

1 cup tomatoes – cut in chunks
1 cucumber – chopped
¼ cup mint chopped
¼ cup parsley chopped
Romaine lettuce – about 6 cups, torn
2 pitas
2/3 cup feta cheese
1-cup red onions chopped

Toast 2 large pitas in oven until golden brown and crispy. Let cool and break into pieces. Mix all the ingredients with pita bread.

Prepare dressing
Sumac spice to taste
Lemon juice – ½ cup
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Lentil Soup

6 cups chicken or veggie stock – whatever your preference
1 lb. Red or green lentils – whichever your preference
1 tablespoon mince garlic
1 large potato chopped
1 large onion chopped
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
½ cup chopped cilantro
¾ cup lemon juice – add more if you like

Put stock, chopped potato, and lentils in a large pot and bring to boil.
Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes
Heat oil and cook garlic and onion until they are clear
Stir in onion and oil into mixture and add spices
Continue simmering until lentils are soft
Serve warm. Some people like to puree red lentils in a blender and make it a cream soup. (Feel free to do that if you like your lentil soup that way.)
Stir in lemon juice and cilantro

Well here are my Ramadan favorites, what are yours?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teaching Children About Islam #3: Teaching Your Children About Ramadan

Ramadan fasting can be difficult for children. It is the job of every parent to make a determination whether their child is ready to fast. Some children are ready when they are seven years old while others need more time. Each parent knows their child’s health as well. However, parents should not assume that if they do not emphasize fasting that their children will do it when they are older. Ramadan fasting should be introduced at some point and the sooner the better.

Here are some ideas on introducing fasting to your children.

Generally, between ages 7 and 9, it is possible to start your child on fasting at a gradual level. At first, you can encourage them to fast until 10 am and have them get up with the early morning Sahoor and have them participate in the Fajr prayer. The time can be increased until Zuhr and until the Asr prayer. Encourage them along the way and compliment their on their strength.

An important factor is to success is instilling the child’s desire to fast. Positive reinforcement can go a long way. Do not ridicule your child if they have a difficult time. That will only make them angry with you and with the teachings of Islam. Praise them. Encouragement them and even buy them gifts for a successful week.

You can also encourage them by educating about Islam. Show them that their peers are fasting and take them to the mosque where they can see other children who are fasting and praying as well.

Last, understand that children will cheat. After all, they are children. Do not punish them for lying and breaking their fast. Instead, try the following:

1. Give them allowance for each day they successfully fast.
2. Don’t confront them when they make a mistake. Instead, remind the importance of their fast and telling the truth, especially in Ramadan.
3. Do not expect small children to fast the entire day.
4. When you child fasts, praise him and allow others to hear such praise, such as other family members or their peers.
5. Do not place food or sweets in a place that easily tempts the child.
6. Create a religious and celebratory atmosphere in your home. Your children need to understand what an important month Ramadan is.

I hope this Ramadan is a memorable and long-lasting experience for you and your children! Inshallah!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What place does Islam hold in my life?

Each of us asks “What is the life our lives” and “Why is it we here?” I have for a long time tried to make sense of my life, my choices, and my purpose and role here on earth. I have studied religion and found myself questioning my faith more often because I am Muslim woman in the United States. Moreover, I am Muslim woman in corporate America.

I have long sought the answers in Islam and other faiths to get some kind of concise meaning for all of it and all the roles I play in my life, a mother, a wife, a working person, and as a member of the human race. I ponder questions and I want answers, and the answers are different depending on who you ask. Many would tell their purpose is to be successful, happy, or charitable, but what reasoning do they have? If our purpose is to do these things, what do we have left once we have done them?

We look at our lives with meaning and purpose, but we still feel worthless, like we just haven’t found what we are looking for. I was raised in the Islamic faith, and I have always looked at my life from a spiritual, non-religious perspective, but I wanted to a better feeling of worth, because that spirituality just did not seem like enough.

Someone in his or her 30s or 40s may believe that all they need is to give their families a good life, whereas a person in 80s would replace all the money in the world for their health. Your teenager may believe that the purpose of life spending time with friends and being popular and your six-year just wants a new toy. What determines self-worth is going to depend on the stage of your life you are in.

Money will not follow you to the afterlife; neither will your health nor family or friends nor material things. If you are a disbeliever, you will live in fear of the end. While it is nice to have all these things in this world, you also need to focus on the afterlife. The challenge and contemplation of where we belong and our purpose is best reflected upon when we become parents. Suddenly, we see wealth and power does not define who we are and that our time here on earth is only temporary. Our actions and what we teach our children are what we will take to the afterlife. How can you enjoy your wealth if you are so skeptical of the world, of our own actions, and of where we belong? Our material worth will be gone when we are gone.

Between being children and adults, we begin our question our existence and some of us rebel, but in the end, we always come back to our beliefs. The only advice that I can offer to young people is to make sure they can live with the decisions they make now and that those decisions do not affect their futures. There will be a day when we all question our existence and we will come back to Islam and Allah, and we should be prepared for how our past decisions play in the decisions we make when we embrace Islam again. For example, if you decide to have a child out of marriage, be prepared to understand that that other child’s parent, if that parent is non-Muslim, may raise that child as a non-Muslim. That is something that will be a difficult blunt to bear when you are trying to be a good Muslim. Remember that Allah is merciful and forgiving, but as a parent, you owe a duty to yourself and to Allah to teach your child Islam, even under the most difficult circumstances.

We all need a purpose in life and worship is a good purpose. Our lives here on Earth can be fulfilling but they do require us to embrace Islam to submit to Allah. Our goal is the next life where Allah will reward us for our faith, our intentions, our attitudes and our good deeds. Remember that Islam teaches us that life on Earth is only a test our true natures and in the end, we all must accept death in order to beginning our final destination in the hereafter.

If there really is a true purpose for all of us, it is that our first lives are only a test. The life in the grave is a place to rest before the Day of Judgment. The Day of Judgment is the day we will clearly understand our fate based on actions in the first life. The Afterlife will be either one of paradise or one of punishment. If we can clearly and fully understand that, then our purpose, as Muslims, is clear.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Muslim Working Mothers

This area has been very tough for me as working mother born in an Islamic culture. I have no excuses for my lack of strong belief or understanding for my faith and practice. I made choices that put Islam aside and lately, I have come to the realization that my excuses are invalid. I can work, I can go school and I can take care of family, and still make room for Islam in my heart. However, it doesn’t mean isn’t difficult. I have a difficult issue with the criticisms that exist around Muslim mothers who work outside the home.

The biggest criticism about Islamic working women is that they put their faith aside for their professions. There is also the criticism of spousal neglect and because Islam asks that women care for their husbands in a way that the wife should. Other issues include jealous husbands, difficultly in wearing hijab in the workplace due to harassment, and contacts with male coworkers. Yet another criticism is that household duties are unattended thus creating more problems in the marriage. And yes, we cannot forget the greatest criticism we have to hear; we should be at home to care for their children instead of them being in daycare in a non-Islamic environment.

The reasons women work, whether they are Christian, Muslim, non-religious, have nothing to do with ego and disrespect for Islam. You do what is best for your family. There are many of times where I have gotten home and collapsed on the couch. There is no working who does not feel the stress of caring for their family and working, and these days, with shared responsibilities, both parents feel it.

From my own experiences, there is very I have to offer expect and understanding of what I need to do to keep myself sane and fully understand my faith. Al-hamdelah.

· Get organized and prepare schedule for all family members to follow and share in the workload at home.
· Ask for help. This is a hard lesson I have had to learn in the past year since I have been diagnosed with two chronic pain conditions.
· Plan ahead. The freezer is awesome. I cook over the weekend and freeze meals, sometimes a week’s worth if I can.
· Schedule your time. Make time for yourself. Tell Dad to watch the kids and take a long bubble bath. You deserve time too.
· Lower your own expectations. There is only so much you can do. Patience is a virtue and is something that Islam prescribes to.
· Talk about Islam with children every opportunity you get and even though they may not want to listen, they will one day figure it out as you have.

Being a working mother for many years, I can tell you the key is tolerance. Not everyone understands why you work and why you cannot stay home with your children.

The greatest tolerance was practiced by our prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). From the stories of Muhammad (PBUH), we know that his life required much tolerance and he even prayed for his enemies. Muhammad even forgave Abu Sufyan, the worst enemy of Islam. Recall that the people of Mecca rejected Muhammad (PBUH) socially for many years. When he went to teach them about Islam, they threw stones at him. Allah spoke to Muhammad (PBUH) and told him that he would destroy the town Taif for treating him in the manner they did. Our prophet told him that the people do not know who he is and that they eventually will.

Recall that our prophet’s enemies had much power, wealth and weapons. They were large in number and when they fought with the holy prophet (PBUH), he only had a few soldiers and weapons, but al-Nabi Muhammad (PBUH) showed great patience and courage and he put his trust in Allah. Allah gave him strength and victory.

As each of us go on in our lives, we need to follow the example of nobility and tolerance our Nabi Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Suggested Reading #1: The Ideal Muslimah

I was over at Thoughts of a New Muslimah's blog and I came across this book suggestion.

The True Islamic Personality of the
Muslim Woman
by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi

It is an available online as a PDF. I am in the process of reading it and will give you my thoughts as I go. Let me warn you ahead of time - I am a modern Muslim American woman. If I found the book to lay a negative light on Islamic women, I will let you know and if it does Islamic women justice, I will let you know as well.

Click HERE for the PDF link!

Here is also a short PDF called the The Woman and Her Husband that I found as well. I have not read this one as well, but you will be sure I have my say.

I will post an analysis of these two readings in the next few weeks. Inshallah!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Challenges faced by American-Muslim Working Women

I am a Muslim woman and for a long time I choose to ignore my faith. Recently, and most probably because I am getting older, I am starting to find that my life is missing something so I have again embraced Islam. I was raised in a strict Muslim home and to my parents, everything was haraam. Of my siblings, I am the most educated and this was result of choices I made in my life that went against everything my family believed in, including a divorce and being a single mother. When I was younger, my resistance to Islam was based on the fact that my parent didn’t always do a good job of reinstating the presence of Allah in our lives and our hearts and I don’t blame them for that. Religion is a difficult subject for anyone.

As an adult, such resistance came from discrimination about my choices within the Islamic community as well discrimination and ignorance about Islam in corporate America. While those are merely excuses as many would say, but those are my justifications. I am a Muslim working mother in corporate America. My husband, though open to my career choices, is not open to the role that women and men play in marriage and family. Because he was raised in a culture where women are the primary caretakers for their homes and their families, he is yet to understand that I simply cannot manage it all – my home, my family and my career. I am the primary caregiver to my children while my husband focuses his career. Does this seem fair? Where does Islam play in a role in all this? Does it even seem to have a place?

Most importantly, there is the issue of wearing hijab. I have told my mother time and time again why I do not wear hijab – I want to be able to support my family without discrimination. Think about it this way, hijab creates a unique hurdle for women. Women who wear hijab are often taunted at work and on the street. Moreover, sometimes wearing hijab jeopardizes a women’s career because Islamic women are quite often discriminated in their jobs and not given jobs and promotions. Don’t forget that women who wear hijab in America are obvious targets and because the majority of Americans are ignorant about Islam, hijab bears a burden. This puts their safety at a vulnerable level.

I find it quite sad that Islamic women face many hurdles that may or may not be unique to Islam. As a matter of fact, many are cultural. Islam does not promote the devaluation of women, but cultural stereotypes do. Families have preference to their sons over their daughters and lay strong emphasis on the honor of their daughters, and shame of a daughter taking action that goes against family beliefs creates unspeakable burden on family honor. The end result and resolution is to marry daughters at young age and put an end to their educational opportunities. And just because Muslim women live in America does not mean that do not face discriminations and abuses from within their own Islamic communities. Some of the most serious of those issues include domestic abuse, abuse of divorce and custody laws, polygamy and isolation and exclusion from Muslim life.

Let me say that the abuses and issues based have nothing to do with Islam and more based on generations of cultural upbringing. Islam is a great religion and we need to prove with our actions. The treatment of Women is the number one reason that people leave and I fell victim to that as well. As I stated, I am just finding my way back in. Because of that, I feel that Muslims need to start offering solutions and denying that problems exist. As Muslims, we have a duty to fight against repression and we need to do everything in our power to get that understanding across. The first step, however, is acknowledgement.

For me, I learned to focus on my life, my family, and most importantly, my religion. I have learned that I need to be a voice for women who want to step up and not take discrimination and abuse. I have learned that Islam in itself takes abuse and discrimination because of its followers have refused to accept that societies modernize religion. Finding my way back to Islam took me ten years, and the only piece of advice I can offer is to be patient, Allah is listening and watching you and he knows that you will eventually make your way back, Inshallah.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Amazing recitation of the Qur'an by a young child!

Ayat al Kursi

Islamic Beliefs

This comes from


God is The One and Only Creator, the Only One to Whom worship is due; all other things or beings that we can thing of are His creatures and in no way comparable to Him. He is eternal, without beginning or end; Absolute, not limited by time or place. Man should not project his own animal qualities on God's sublime nature and must not think of Him as having a son or a partner.
God! There is no god but He,--- the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth.[Qur'an 2:255]

Angels of God

Angels have a one-sided nature compared to all Mankind who are charged with emotions and desires. Angels have been created from divine Light that is unseen by Man unless they appear in human form. Angels obey God's commands and carry his orders. For the Angels to perform their duties, they have been given different qualities and powers to that given to Man. Qur'an has named some angels (peace be upon them) such as, Gabriel, Azrael, Israfil and Michael.
We send not the angels down except for just cause.[Qur'an 15:8]

Books of God

The Book of God is simply a Book of Guidance for all Mankind to live in peace and harmony with others in a just society, where Laws can be liberated from Man's desires and uncertainty to God's perfect knowledge. God's teaching started with Adam and completed by the Qur'an, the last of the Holy Books. Prior to Qur'an, God has sent down other revelations such as the Laws, the Psalms and the Gospel.
The revelation of the Book is from God the Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom.[Qur'an 46:2]

Messengers of God

Man's life on earth began with Prophethood. Adam was the first Man and the first of all Prophets and Muhammad was the seal of the Prophets. Their missions were simply the channels between God and mankind to receive God's teaching. All God's Messengers were human beings. Qur'an has named other God's Apostles such as, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Elias, John and Jesus.
God did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people.[Qur'an 3:33]

The Day of Judgment

The reason behind Man's creation would not be complete without the Day of Judgment. The creation of Man, followed by receiving God's teaching through the revelations and prophecy, and abiding by His guidance and teaching in this probationary life, all these pre-arrangements are meant to stand before God to be judged for all deeds done by Man.
That Day will every soul be requited for what it earned; no injustice will there be that Day, for God is Swift in taking account.[Qur'an 40:17]

Predestination (or, supremacy of Divine Will

God has the perfect knowledge of his creation and the destiny of every creature. Although God gave the Man the initiative to lead his life in a total freedom, this would not put the veil on God's knowledge of future events. This is a necessary explanation for the theological doctrine of the monotheism.
To God do belong the unseen (secrets) of the heavens and the earth, and to Him goeth back every affair.[Qur'an 11:123]

Resurrection (Life after death)

Man's life on earth is very short in comparison to the second life. God Who created Man from dust will be able to repeat His creation again. So, all people shall be raised up from their graves to a new creation. The second life after the resurrection is eternal and its nature is the reflection of the life on earth.
Say, He will give them life Who created them for the first time! For He is well-versed In every kind of creation![Qur'an 36:79]

Teaching Children About Islam #2: Making Islam Fun

I am a Muslim parent, but I was also a Muslim child once. I never truly understand what Islam was because my parents, God bless them, never knew how to get their point across about how wonderful and glorious Islam is. So for me, as Muslim parent who only is learning about Islam anew, it is important for me to get my children to understand Islam in a way that does not scare them or oppress them. I cannot stress how important it is to teach Islam to your children in a way that makes them fearful of Allah and/or going to hell. We do not want our children feeling that Islam does not allow them to enjoy life. Telling that they can or cannot do something because of Islam is not the way to go. We want our children to see the beauty that exists in Islam and this should come out in a way that is appealing to them.

Teaching our children the boundaries of Islam is of course very important, but before we do that, we should teach them how to love Allah, Islam and our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

 Let’s start by teaching our children about beauty of Allah and his creations. Show them everything that Allah has created and remind them that Allah created the earth from nothing. Tell them that is the power and greatness of Allah.

 Spend time at the local mosque. When it is time for prayer, take the time pray with the congregation. If the mosque has festivals and carnivals, take your children to these.

 Get to know other Muslims in your area. It is important for your children to have friends to share their customs, traditions, holidays and beliefs with.

 Tell your children stories about our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and life that he lived. Don’t forget to share stories of all of Allah’s prophets, peace be upon them all.

 Have them listen to the Quran. You can find many recordings of the Quran online. Here is my personal favorite.

 Find Islamic nasheeds for your children to listen to. There are many online that do not contain music. These are usually kid-friendly and easy to understand and remember.

 Celebrate Islamic holidays. Many people treat Islamic holidays as any other day since most parents, especially in the United States, have to work. Take these days off and spend them with your families.

 So here are some suggestions for making Islam fun for your children. If you have any ideas, please feel free to comment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

7 Reasons to Read the Glorious Quran

This article is by Shabir Ali

7 Reasons to Read the Glorious Quran

(1) Intimate:

It dares you to disprove it. How? It says that humans can not write a book like this even if they pooled all their resources together and got help also from the spirits. The Quran said this fourteen hundreds years ago and yet no one has been able to disprove it. Billions of books have been written - but not another one like the Quran.

(2) Incorruptible:

It is the only religious sacred writing which has been in circulation for such a long time and yet remains as pure as it was in the beginning. The Quran was kept intact. Nothing was added to it; nothing was changed in it; and nothing was taken away from it ever since it was completely revealed 1400 years ago.

(3) Unsurpassable:

The Quran is God's final revelation to humankind. God revealed the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and finally the Quran to Muhammad. Peace be upon all of them. No other book will come from God to surpass his final revelation.

(4) Indisputable:

The Quran withstands the test of time and scrutiny. No one can dispute the truth of this book. It speaks about past history and turns out right. It speaks about the future in prophecies and it turns out right. It mentions details of physical phenomena which were not known to people at the time; yet later scientific discoveries confirm that the Quran was right all along. Every other book needs to be revised to accord with modern knowledge. The Quran alone is never contradicted by a modern discovery.

(5) Your Roadmap for Life and Afterlife:

The Quran is the best guidebook on how to structure your life. No other book presents such a comprehensive system involving all aspects of human life and endeavor. The Quran also points out the way to secure everlasting happiness in the afterlife. It is your roadmap showing how to get to paradise.

(6) God's Gift of Guidance:

God has not left you alone. You were made for a reason. God tells you why he made you, what he demands from you, and what he has in store for you. If you operate a machine contrary to it's manufacture specification you will ruin that machine. What about you? Do you have an owner's manual for you? The Quran is from your function for success lest you fail to function. It is a healing mercy from God. It satisfies the soul, and cleans the heart. It removes doubts and brings peace.

(7) Your Calling Card to Communicate with God:

Humans are social creatures. We love to communicate with other intelligent life. The Quran tells us how to communicate with the source of all intelligence and the source of all life- the One God. The Quran tells us who God is, by what name we should address God, and the way in which to communicate with God. Are these not seven sufficient reasons for reading the Quran?

The Pillars of Islam (Sunni)

The Pillars of Islam (Sunni)

There are five pillars of Islam. These are the five duties required of every Muslim.

1. Shahada (professing of faith)
2. Salah (prayer)
3. Zakah (giving to charity)
4. Saum (fasting in Ramadan)
5. Hajj (pilmigrage to Mecca)

Shahada is simply a statement professing your belief in one God (Allah) and accepting that Muhammad is God’s messenger and there is no other God but Allah. The statement in Arabic is: أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله - “ašhadu anna laa ilāha illa (A)llāh, wa ašhadu anna Muhammada(n) rasūlo (A)llāh.” The English translation is “I profess that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.

Salat is the second pillar of Islam. It is the requirement to pray five times a day at fixed times during the day. These times are dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nighttime. Each Salat must be performed facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca. With Salah, there is a focus and intent of the mind to Allah, expression of gratitude and worship. The Quran tells that prayer restrains one from committing shameful or evil deeds. There is also a requirement of cleanliness when performing Salah.

Zakah means giving to charity and it the amount given is based on wealth. It is an obligation to those who are financially able to do so and it a personal reasonability of Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate the equality of health as was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). A Muslim may also donate more as a voluntary act of charity called sadaqah. There are two types of Zakah: kajj and zakat. Kajj is a fixed amount based on the cost of food that is paid during the month of Ramadan by the head of the family and his dependants. Zikat is paid on the wealth is usually 2.5 percent of savings and valuables. There are four important factors when giving zakat: (1) the giver must declare to Allah his or her intention to give zakat; (2) the zakat must be paid on the day that it is due; (3) payment must be in kind. If one is wealthy, he must pay 2.5% of his income. If one does not have much money, then he must pay in a different way, i.e., if he has a lot of cattle, he can pay in cattle instead; and (4) the zakat must be distributed in the community in which it was taken.

Sawm (ritual fasting) during the month of Ramadan is obligatory. Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn till dusk during this month, and they should be mindful of their sins. The purpose of the fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek closeness to Allah and to express their gratitude and dependence on Allah. Muslims are to atone for their past sins and remind themselves of the needy. Muslims are also excepted to put more effort in following the teachings of Islam.

Hajj is a pilgrimage is an ancient practice that occurs during the month of Dhu al-Hajj to the holy city of Mecca. Every Muslim is required to take Hajj at least once in their lives. If a pilgrimage is made at any other time than Hajj season, it is called Umrah which is not mandatory but encouraged. The belief is that the Hajj is an expression of devotion to Allah and not a definition of social standing. The believer should be self-aware and examine his or her intentions before taking Hajj.

Source: Wikipedia, Five Pillars of Islam

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Teaching Children About Islam #1: Role Modeling and Raising Islamic Children

The most effective method for teaching anything to a child is by being a good role model. Allah sent human beings to teach people Islam. These were our prophets. Our children learn by watching us and our actions search louder than words. Think about it, if a father treats his wife poorly, his sons will mimic that behavior as adults. None one is saying you should bombard with religion at every opportunity but you should practice what you preach. Think about the father who does not attend Friday prayer and sells alcohol for a living, but wonders why his son is dressing like the latest rapper and disrespecting his mother. The focus here isn’t religion; it is practice. Religion starts with practice and then moves into teaching.

We teach our children with every action or decision we make. Therefore, taking inspiration from an anonymous authored poem, if we teach our children to criticize, then they learn just that. If we teach them to ridicule, they either learn that behavior or learn to be shy. If we teach them to be hostile, either we ruin their self-esteem or we think them to fight. More importantly, if we teach them to be tolerant, patient, fair, and secure, we teach them faith.

Negative attitudes turn into negative characteristics in our children, whereas positive turn into positive characteristics. There are the very attitudes that our Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) taught his followers all those hundreds of years ago. These are the very teachings we need to instill in our children. Children are good and they want to please their parents. Praise results in positive behaviors, but if parents do not praise and only respond to bad behavior, the opposite is true.

Going back to the subject of practice, raising your children to be Muslims means introducing the idea of Allah in their lives and reminding them that Allah is content with their actions. If you do this often, children will associate good behavior with Allah and that is the first step in being a good Muslim.

Understand that children are not bad; they are merely children. Allah always forgives children and if a child passes away in childhood, he or she automatically goes to heaven. Allah has asked of us to guide our children and he will guide us. Thus, do not make your children fearful of Allah or Islam or of going to hell. This approach achieves the opposite of your goals. If you focus too much on punishing children, then they will not want anything to do with religion because they would believe that it keeps them from enjoying their lives.

The Quran Says:

"And thus preach joy to My servants.Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it. Those are the ones whom Allah has guided and they are the wise people." (39:17-18)