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Winter; Lost and Found

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

Lost-and-found

We waited and waited for Winter to announce it arrival till the end of December last year. However much we like to complain about the weather, snow, wind chill and snow storms, truth is we do miss our Canadian winters. The first snow of the season made a late entry this season, at least in the GTA, well after Boxing Day. Basically we are saying that winter went AWOL in Ontario, till El Nino sent the first storm our way. It’s predicted to be a mild winter this year. However you can catch up on your weather report on other places, today we bring you a list of things lost and found in winter.

Lost:

Winter wear

Snow gear, mitts, hats, scarves and snow pants. Are you one of those moms who has to inventory their child as soon as he returns from school? It doesn’t matter how many snow mitts I stock up on, my son will lose his things at school. Before the winter break he had managed to lose two toques, two pairs of mitts and a couple of sweaters. Trips to the school Lost and Found were not fruitful. It wasn’t winter proper till early December here, so I sent him to school with a mismatched pair, both for the right hand. I am hoping the awkwardness of it all instills in him a modicum of responsibility towards his things. When he was younger I would crochet a three way string; one attached to his winter hat, the other two to his mitts. The base of this trifecta was then sewn onto his snow jacket. I thought it was quite a fool-proof arrangement till he came home one day with a huge gaping rip in his jacket were the strings were sewn, mitts and hat missing. School yard play’s gotten rough lately!

Topping our list of things lost in the winter is accessories you buy for your child to keep him warm. Always have spares handy, even for snow pants and boots. Last year my son got off his school bus sans his snow pants, it was the dead of winter and I near but fainted at the sight of him alighting dishabille.

Daylight and cheer

Grey overcast skies, we all miss the sun come winter. And when it does come out, it is such a half-hearted attempt at being sunny you want to tell him to go back right away! A lack of sunshine means a definite loss of sunny demeanours. People who are usually chirpy tend to get easily irritable.

Sleep

Come winter all I want to do is sleep. If it were up to me I’d burrow myself deep into the blanket and not wake up till the groundhog comes out and announces an early spring. Becoming a mother has changed that. I get no off days, a full night’s sleep is a distant memory as are the thoughts of running a warm bath. So, sleep, already a distant memory goes completely AWOL, at least in the mom world.

Monies

Winter is also the time for crazy sales. We may not celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the likes but we certainly get into the Holiday spirit and spend away more merrily than the health of our bank accounts allow. Yes, I understand there are major deals to be scored and discounts that are too good to be missed, but stocking up at the same time instead of spacing them out through the year can make a significant dent on one’s budget. True story.

Found

Not all is lost during cold weather. One of my annual favourites is excess pounds on my person, my true friends that come a-visiting every year. When you find your inner sloth and are less likely to move and more often than not found lounging in front of the TV in your most comfortable PJ’s digging into a bowl of your favourite snack, don’t blame the scales when they creep up. There’s a reason weight loss is high on everyone’s New Year Resolutions list; new year, turning a new leaf and getting more active, we set goals for ourselves. Some we meet, some we fail at. Another thing we find in abundance at the end of the year is resolve, again the end of another year in our lives makes us take stock of what we’ve  been up to and promise to be a better (and leaner) versions of ourselves in the coming year.

 

How has your winter been so far? What have you lost and found through this season?

About the Author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the Executive Editor of MuslimMoms.ca, every winter she visits her childhood fantasy of being a frog and the ability to hibernate the chilly weather away. No luck thus far.

 

Penmanship – Getting Writing Right

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

penmanship- getting writing right

One of my earliest childhood memories is struggling to get the lower case ‘f’ just right as I attempted cursive in school. Another memory seared on my brain is Ma’s wrath when presented with a sheet of writing that was messy and horror of horrors, rife with spelling mistakes. I did get to reap the benefits of these lessons learned early in life. First is my OCD when it comes to spellings – I risk an aneurysm every time I see mangled spellings, and it is a handicap that becomes a skill in my work as an editor. Secondly, and more pertinent here is that focussing on how neat, rounded and evenly spaced out my alphabets were has also accorded me a balance in my personality, or so I like to think. How you write, the slant of words, the spacing and the size of letters themselves reveals many things about one’s psyche.

Later, as I sat on the admissions and interview committee of the University I taught at, we read through each candidate’s handwritten letter assessing not just the words expressing their intent of pursuing a program, but also how they wrote everything down, their penmanship.

And still later, as I taught some of these students, I insisted on frequent speed writing sessions in class on random topics. Again, this enabled me to know my students better, the extent of their vocabulary and how they expressed their ideas on paper, things I’d need to work on with them, and most importantly, what their handwriting revealed about them as persons, beginner’s foray into graphology if you will. Many label it as pseudo-science; however I have had remarkable success at reading a person’s person by looking at their handwritten note.

After all these experiences, it was only natural that I insist that my own progeny master the basics of good penmanship, best me at calligraphy, wow his teachers with the perfection of his letters and win a Nobel Prize for something or the other while he was at it. All before he turns 10!

March of times

My son turned seven early this year, he is a child of the digital age when typing reigns supreme and writing is fading away. If I were to be honest, I’d say his writing is borderline atrocious. It’s not that he cannot write neat, it’s that he will not. Writing something down, as I insist, means that he spends more time bent over his notebooks, which again are in a sorry state because he’s not too fond of them, instead of having his messy mop of hair bent over a book he wants to read.

Adding to my desperation to teach son how to master cursive, or at least a decent print, are these articles that all insist that writing by hand does wonders for your brain.

Learning cursive provides crucial benefit to children at an age when they need it most: a sense of involvement and ownership, hand-eye coordination, patience, and self-control. 

What cursive does for your brain:

In learning to write by hand, even if it is just printing, the brain must:

Locate each stroke relative to other strokes.

Learn and remember appropriate size, slant of global form, and feature detail characteristic of each letter.

Develop categorization skills.

Cursive writing, compared to printing, should be even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation. Cursive is also faster and more likely to engage students by providing a better sense of personal style and ownership.

~ Psychology Today

Relic of the past?

I also understand that there are many detractors of this handwriting, arguing it is a dying tradition and well past its date, that the time spent over learning cursive can be used instead on other subjects like learning another language, or sciences that will be of more help academically. And while I can’t disagree with this, I also know that societal traditions are cyclic, what is a lost art now will be a treasured skill tomorrow. A decade or two later, when writing by hand sees a revival, I want my children to be able to teach their own offspring.

More than anything, if there is the slightest bit chance that it will make them better people, I want to go that route. I am a mom and I want nothing but the best of very best for my brats, so I am going to buy as many interlined notebooks as I can, and nag them into writing a neat print and a passably decent cursive. The Nobel Prize can wait till they’ve mastered the loop of a lower case ‘r’.

About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of MuslimMoms.ca and harbours delusions of grandeur if she goes long periods of time without a cup of tea. She also has a very neat handwriting, both cursive and print.

Adventures of the Travelling Muslim Moms; Part II

By Muslimmoms.ca Team sunset-landscape--colors_19-135709

Here we are again with more “funny” stories from the travels of our Muslimmoms.ca Team. If missed our first segment, be sure to check it out on our website! Enjoy Adventures of the Travelling Muslim Moms; Part I.

Enough is Enough!

We went to India with a 5 year old and a 1 year old. On the way back, I packed about 15 diapers in my diaper bag. My daughter started to have terrible diarrhea one hour into the flight. I changed her diaper 45 times throughout the journey. Funny part was: there was another baby with diarrhea and air hostess said that their diaper supply is finished as well, so if either of us need more diapers, we would have to take it from other parents. Alhamdollilah we didn’t need any extra 45 was enough. This was NOT funny at the time! -         Bushra Aafaqi

The Mystery of the Great Suitcase Switch

My story is so sad it’s funny! When I accompanied my husband to travel to Canada two weeks after getting married, we stopped over in London UK for our “honeymoon” for a week. We had packed just one suitcase for our stay in London and the rest of the luggage was locked and stored at a family friend’s place. Trouble was discovered once we landed in Toronto, and I decided to finally unpack all my luggage! I opened one of our largest suitcase (which I knew had contained most of newly made bridal outfits) only to discover it was full of some old cotton western clothes! At some point in our journey from Khi, PK to London, UK to TO, we had lost our luggage, instead picking up someone else’s identical suitcase full of junk!!!! It’s been 22 years and to this day, I sigh when I think about this incident. The worst part?! That suitcase also contained my mom’s black and gold Kashmiri shawl which she was given at her wedding! Okay I am going to go cry myself to sleep now! -         Rahila Ovais

I am Woman, Hear Me Ignore You!

Mine would be before I got married. I was working for a TV channel in Dubai and when I boarded my flight, the head of the news department, and my boss was also on board (I’d fought with him to get my vacation). He was at the peak of his career and loved to brag. The entire cabin crew was fawning over him. I was seated next to him because he did not want a mother/child sitting next to him on our two hour flight. Anyways, once we settled down he proceeded to tell me that he had to go to Islamabad to interview the PM. That was my cue to start heaping praise on him, instead I told him he would probably need to rest and took out my book to read, ignoring him for the rest of the journey. Needless to say, I could not last long at the channel! I still find the whole episode funny… especially when I returned and my colleagues shook their head in dismay at my having wasted a golden opportunity to ingratiate myself into the inner circle and fast track to promotions! Absolutely no regrets! -         Aaisha Zafar Islam

Not Without Our Luggage!

We travel to Pakistan every year. We are a family of 5 so when taking international flights we are allowed a luggage allowance to 2 pieces per person. Of course being typical Desi’s we always travel loaded with gifts and every knick knack on the planet. Heaven forbid I won’t be able to find the exact shoe to match my outfit in the entire city of Karachi so I must travel with at least 10 pairs of shoes. Every year, it’s a joke(a rather painful one) that we all squeeze in to a minivan with 8-10 suitcases, get off at the airport where everyone stares at us, some with disdain some with sympathy and understanding. Since our kids were too small to help us move the trolley,s my husband and I would have to take turns to actually move 4 odd trolleys through the airport until we check in. Needless to say, our toughest ordeal is actually getting to check in, the 18 hour flight is a piece of cake in comparison! -     Muneezah Jawad

Hello? It’s Nature Calling!

I enjoy travelling with kids by air and by road. We usually take road trips to the US with a bunch of friends so we have a decent group with kids. 
The funny part of these road trips are when we get sms’s or calls for a pit stop when someone’s kids want to go to washroom in the middle of now where. Everyone starts searching for a nearest Rest Area or a fast food chain to stop at. Once we all had to stop on a road side to accommodate one such incident. The hilarious part was all 5 vehicles standing with hazard lights on and every other car would stop by to check if all was well. Poor family and kid were very embarrassed. Until now we recall that one incident of a sudden emergency… when nature calls you have to answer! -         Rumina Rizvi

How Motherhood Changed Me

How motherhood changed me

Having my son, also my first-born, was my ultimate wake up call, literally and emotionally. The very next day son and I came from the hospital and I was an absolute post-partum hormonal mess, I cried and begged Ma for forgiveness. We were all bawling, three generations of us! Son was crying because he was a newborn, I was crying because I was overwhelmed by motherhood day 2 into the experience and Ma was crying because I was. I’ve never been the crying sort; maudlin sentimentality annoys me, having children changed that.

I’ve realised that I can be the strongest person around and be an emotional mess at the first sign of a troubled child. And I’ve learned that I have super-powers…everyone knows them as a mother`s intuition. I can find everything, I can do everything, I can see and feel everything that relates to my brats. Motherhood -  helping women become superheroes.

~ Aaisha Zafar Islam

Motherhood has changed me and my lifestyle in a profound way. My children have taught me selflessness, compassion, patience and how to grow in love. Over the years, I have also learned to become quite the counselor, story-teller and referee! Alhamdullilah, I feel blessed and privileged to be a mother and hope I can do justice to the most important role that I have been bestowed with.’

Iman Khan

I used to get freaked out by little hopping spiders. After becoming a mother I once single handedly wrestled a one foot centipede. I kid you not. Just the thought of that thing in the same house as my baby made me see red. I am now the crocodile hunter of the family.

I am also immune to every gross thing possible, I have cleaned so much vomit and poop nothing deters me. I have eaten saliva covered banana that my child lovingly fed me after gumming it to a pulp in her toothless mouth. I can catch vomit in a plastic bag with perfect precision.

Life hacks: 5 minute meals to 500 uses for baby powder to how to ignore a pack of howling, brawling, whining kids in public and keep a smile on your face.

Being grateful. Appreciating that the little things are actually the biggest things. Heartbreak and unconditional love.

Khaula Mazhar

I remember being a short tempered and ambitious person with no patience for kids. Motherhood has taught me patience as the most important virtue. It has taken my wings and has slowed me down to appreciate small blessings of life. It has proved that happiness is not in high-paying jobs and in globe-trotting but in simple moments spent with my kids, in sharing a joke, co-sleeping in the cozy bed, baking treats and in evening walks to the park. More than anything it has made me empathize with my mom and appreciate the hard work she put in in raising me and for instilling in me the life skills to bear challenges of life. She taught me how to stay positive in the bleak hours and how to keep believing in Allah. Inshallah I want to instill same positivity and admiration in my kids.

Mariam Mazhar

I could say that the same things everyone else says about how mother hood has changed them. However I want to tell you how it’s kept me the same. It allowed me to still see the world through the eyes of a child. It keeps me in awe of all that surrounds me because I see the same glimmer in my children’s eyes.  They look at everything with excitement and a new perspective.  As a person ages they naturally become more cynical but motherhood keeps you tied to your own childhood and you hope the world is as amazing for your children as it was for you. In a nutshell it keeps you young and optimistic.

As children grow up we teach them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and as adults we tend to forget those words frequently. Well, being a mom has reminded me to make sure I thank Allah (SWT) for his countless blessings.  The children he gave me are the most precious gifts in the universe for which no thank you is going to be enough. Like a child who jumps with glee at the prospect of a new toy I am filled with joy when I get those precious kisses from my daughter, so motherhood has kept me grateful and thanking Allah and also pleading with him for their well being constantly in my duas.

I’ve been through many changes due to becoming a mom, but my core being is still the same if not stronger. I’m thankful to Allah and in awe of the miracle of life that surround me.

Muneezah Jawad

Physically:  I can NOT sneeze, laugh or run anymore without crossing my legs. My body will always be flabby and I love it as it reminds me of all that stretching I went through with each of my four kids.

Mentally: Even though I feel like I have nothing left up in my head, with each additional child I have gained more patience, while dealing with all the stresses of motherhood.

Spiritually:  As my kids are growing older, now more than ever I have a deep desire to grow closer to Allah.

Rahila Ovais

I had my 3rd child a few days back and as ecstatic I was to hold him, I was equally ambitious and made several promises to myself on giving him the best of everything as a mother.

Motherhood has taught me patience and values of morals, religion and above all a proper educated upbringing. I learned what greater responsibility it is to bring them up with knowledge and education so they make their own wisdom and lead strong successful lives Insha’Allah. Humility and humbleness is the most important attribute in one’s personality no matter what one may become in life, I want them to be grateful to Almighty and be kind. With them I learn, grow and mature every day. Because of them I’ve become closer to my Lord. Alhamdulilah!

~ Rumina Rizvi

 I do not live in a clean room anymore. I am not allowed to get sick. I yell at my kids .I fight with them over the remote control but not for anything in this Universe I want to change my status. Because sometimes when I plop on the couch, exhausted, I ask myself where is “me”. A voice tells me, they are” you”. I nod and get back to my job of being a mom.

Shazia Afzal

 It’s incredible, I have learned so much more about myself than I could have ever imagined. They teach me something new every day. When I had my daughters, I thought I was going to be the one teaching them and giving them so much knowledge, but they have been teaching me so much wisdom.

Being a mom is the most rewarding thing in the world.

Sukaina Imran

How has motherhood changed you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Do share below.

What To Wear This Spring

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

What to wear this spring

Snow’s melted and barring the occasional cold alert, it does seem that Spring is slowly marking its arrival in Canada, the #TrueNorth.

We all know why we get excited for this glorious weather, it’s time to head outdoors, enjoy nature in its full, verdant glory and finally shed all those bulky layers of clothing that see us through the winters!

Are you looking for some fresh Spring inspirations, deciding on what to keep and throw from your closet? Or taking out your wallet for a much needed trip to the mall? We have you covered, read on and learn what you need this season to stay on top of trends!

70’s are back

The 1970’s are back and with flares! Whether it is flared jeans and pants, fringed apparel or accessories, this Spring is seeing a major influence drawn from the bohemian vibe of the era.

Some of the notable trends that have made it to the high streets straight off the ramps include baggy fits instead of more tailored/skinnier ones, suede in its many variations and bucket bags, preferably fringed.

Spring trends: Flared Jeans

For the modest fashionista, this is great news as we can always look at loose fitting shift dresses and modify them as tops work with flared bottoms.

For the denim loving moms, jeans are back in favour! Stock up on them in different hues and washes, pair them with some bold patterned tunics and you are set for the school run!

Pattern Play

We think Miranda Priestly summed it up perfectly!

Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking

~ Miranda Priestly in Devil Wears Prada

Do you really want to meld with the background when you head outdoors? Instead of going the most obvious route, experiment with other patterns, abstracts, monochromes, gingham, polka dots, animal prints, even plaid would look better than flowers across your skirt!

That being said, if you have to do floral, looks for prints that are more pastel based. And of course pleated maxi skirts never go out of style in a modest wardrobe.

Spring Trends: Pattern Play

Top Up

The easiest way to turn any ‘pret’ purchase into modest wear is layering. We recommend that you invest in a well-tailored blazer or two in neutral colours for a more polished look. For times when you want to affect a more casual but put-together vibe, it’s hard to go wrong with a printed blazer. Again, there are numerous options and many mass retailers have embraced this trend. You can find blazers in many colours, designs and patterns everywhere. Just make sure that its fits well.

An added advantage of blazers is that they can double up as outerwear when it gets a bit chilly!

Spring Trends: Blazers

Kit up in a kimono

True 70’s spirit, kimonos are a flowy option that can take you from Spring to Summer and ‘modestify’ any top! We like the ease of throwing on a kimono atop whatever tee we have on, pairing it with a pair of flared jeans (of course) and heading out.

We know cardigans are a must-have for many Muslim moms, but try to step slightly out of your comfort zone and try on some kimono? You can also head out to a fabric store and attempt a DIY yourself!

Spring Trends: Kimono

So Suede

Shoes, bags and clothes too, faux and true, suede is back. If an all-out suede look is too much, accessorize. Try on suede footwear, or handbags.

Spring Trends: Suede footwear

Fringe benefits

Again, a hark back to the 70’s, fringe is in. It can be on your handbags, an accent on your booties, or a hemming on your favourite top/kimono. Fringe ups your fashion savvy!

Spring Trends: Fringe Benefits

Marsala – Pantone Colour of the Year

We can finally get to wearing colour. This year Marsala was announced as the Pantone Colour for 2015. It is a muddy red/wine colour, hard to describe in words but translates well into our daily wear.

Berry lips are also going to be a big trend this season and you can put on a swipe of lipstick, gloss, stain or balm in Marsala hue as a subtle nod to the colour. Don’t be afraid, you don’t have to apply it in its full intensity, a sheer finish looks equally flattering on most skin tones.

Marsala Pantone Colour Of The Year 2015

In terms of makeup, Marsala as a colour on the cheeks and eyes is more suited to night outs than daytime wear. Experiment a bit till you find what works for you.

Perhaps makeup is not your area, then accessorize (we can’t say this enough!) watches, sunglasses, jewelry, even a handbag. You don’t have to HAVE something in Marsala, but it’d be nice, that’s all we say!

Remember, it’s more about being comfortable and confident at the end of the day. Make trends work for you instead of working trends! Have fun, enjoy Spring and stay fabulous!

About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the Executive Editor of MuslimMoms.ca, she likes to stay on top of trends, but you won’t find her decked to the nines. Her best accessories are her kids; they are one hard to miss style statement!

Salam Shop Opening

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

Salam Shop Opening

It is heartening to see Muslim businesses open shop in the GTA. Founded by enterprising Muslims in the community, these shops provide a storefront to small businesses and Muslim entrepreneurs. Most of these enterprises already have a steady clientele and customer base because of their online business, and a retail location is a natural progression for them -  a sign that they have ‘arrived’.

Early last month Salam Shop opened doors to welcome customers into its chic West Mississauga location. Catering to both the Mississauga residents in the area, and within driving distance from Milton and Oakville, the opening was a highly anticipated event for an otherwise frigid month. We were invited before the official opening, as ‘media’ and despite it being a cold and dreary February with snow and flurries, there were people lining up at the door to come inside and shop! We attribute this to the social media savvy of the founder, Sudduf Wyne who had kept her followers posted on how the shop was coming along, any new vendors who signed up to participate in her vision for the boutique, as well as announcements for giveaways and special promos for the opening weekend.

Muslim Moms of Canada was thrilled to be invited this special occasion. Tucked away in the same plaza as Pamier Kabob in Mississauga, Salam Shop’s outdoors is very unassuming, but walk in and you’ll be entering a whole new world.

Salam Shop is a complete lifestyle boutique for the Muslim family, there’s something for everyone. The aim when seeking our vendors for her shop, Sudduf Wyne says, was to look for businesses that were local and promoted fair-trade. The attention to detail in the boutique speaks volumes for the love and vision behind Salam Shop. From organic, hand-made skincare, crafts, handmade toys, home décor items, tasteful bling for young women, apparel for men, women and children to fresh flowers and a selection of Islamic books, you will find yourself browsing for quite some time in the shop. There is something for everyone!  It is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically appealing shops we’ve been to. A word of caution: you will end up with a lot of impulse buys at Salam Shop, it’s hard to resist their displays!

A definite winner, to make this a family-friendly shopping option is the children’s area at the back (right next to the candy display!) and a free-trade café  serving tea, coffee and baked goodies, with a relaxing vibe, right inside the shop. SO ladies can look around at leisure while their menfolk can enjoy some java and the kids can be kids without tugging away at Mama’s clothes!

Salam Shop will also be hosting a special event to celebrate International Women’s Day this Sunday. It’s a ladies-only event, you can learn more about it here.

We wish all the best to this exciting new endeavour and see ourselves visiting it often to stock up on Halal gummy multi-vitamins for kids!

How To Interview for a Husband

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

How to interview for a husband

A few weeks back, I read this article on NYT, on how to fall in love with someone, anyone, in 36 questions. For me, this came in a bit too late; eight years to be exact. While Z, my husband as I refer to him online, can claim he saw me and decided I was the one, I did make him jump some hoops before giving him the go-ahead to send his parents over with a formal proposal…and my ring size.

Let’s start with a quick personality profile. I do not believe in the saccharine, mass media portrayal of love. Love at first sight? Puhlease! As far as I am concerned, there’s just one love, the love our Creator Allah (SWT) has for us and we ought to have for Him and the Prophet (SAWS). The other type is a parent’s love for their child, unconditional, unfathomable. I know of the first one, it is my anchor through all times good and bad. Of the second, I have to see no further than my parents to know that it exists. Now the kind of love that would make one want to stay with one person for the rest of one’s life, it was slightly scary. I was a commitment-phobe till I signed my marriage contract.

Short-listing to the One

How did I get married then? Z and I had some mutual friends, but that’s not when it began. My sole criterion for getting married to anyone was that the candidate won a unanimous approval from everyone in my family – and I come from a large family. That was the first hoop, One candidate that everyone said ‘Yes’ to. It sounds way easier that it was; you don’t know my parents, or brothers, or sister.

Application Process

The second was a formal application process. When my Brother in Law wanted to marry my sister, she had just one condition: that he get my approval. Since I was not in the country to grill him, I asked him to email me his resume. I am sure he was taken aback, but he did it right away. To marry into Clan Khan you have to be amenable to such ‘eccentric’ requests. That was the second test.  My sister asked Z to send in his resume, and he did. The subject line: ‘Application for the post of Brother in Law.’ It’s difficult to look away from such a sense of humour!

The Interview

When Z’s proposal came by, I was thick in the middle of an interview and selection process, screening students to enroll in the academic program I headed. We really put the poor applicants through the wringer with our questions, to assess how quick they were able to think and reply.

Once my sister and I had gone over Z’s resume and decided he could move onto stage three, I asked him to call me for a formal interview. He was in Dubai, I was in Pakistan and it was to be a long distance interview that would decide our fates. Long story short, I skewered and grilled him. There was a rapid fire round too – a succession of questions, one after the other. No breaks, no time to think. I asked him anything that came to my mind, including the number of white socks he had!

White socks were a sure deal-breaker. One of my mantra’s in life is: ‘Never trust a man who wears white socks, or dyes his hair.’

Z informed me that he did not own a single pair, but he could buy a pair and throw it away. I could not ignore such dedication to a cause – marrying me!

The Ever After

I am not the kind of woman who inspires paeans. I was more Medusa than Helen. However, Z was able to see through the prickly façade and find someone to love and live his life with, have kids with. He says that he saw me a mutual friend’s house and decided I was the one. Now he pleads temporary insanity.

For me there was no love when I got married, but I knew I had met Mr. Right. And we’ve been working all these years to perfect each other.

Love, in a marriage, comes gradually; it ebbs and flows. You have to find the right person who is NOT perfect, then whittle down through your own traits and his to work out a relationship that is as beautiful and meaningful as it is supposed to be. You get to know your spouse, you talk things out and make it work.

Everyone’s ‘How we got met and married’ story is unique. I still consider it the second most important job in the world and you should give it meticulous thought. The most important job in this world is that of being a parent, luckily Allah (SWT) does all the screening and vetting for us before blessing us with a child.

About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of MuslimMoms.ca. She was incurably cynical about love, then Allah (SWT) blessed her with S and J to show what love really is. Now she believes in true love, miraculous ‘mommy’ kisses that can cure everything and chocolate in any form as the antidote to all life’s problems.

Jumuah Journals: Bayyinah & Ustad Nouman Ali Khan

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

As a Muslim browsing around the social media, late into the night, or even quickly taking a sneak into your Facebook feed, there is a high chance of one’s coming across a video by Ustad Nouman Ali Khan.

An American Muslim, Ustad Nouman Ali Khan is the founder and CEO of the Bayyinah Institute for Arabic and Qur’anic Studies. He is arguably one of the most influential and famous Islamic lectures in the world, a feat thanks to the social media savvy of his team.

The institute’s actual campus is in Dallas county, Irving, Texas, however, Ustad Nouman’s reach is global. Thanks to podcasts, numerous youtube videos and the Bayyinah TV, his lectures are readily accessible to everyone.

One of the reasons for Ustad Nouman’s immense popularity is his easy and laid-back style during his lectures. He keeps them simple, easy to understand and peppers his lectures with good humour, anecdotes from life that everyone can relate to.

For mothers with young kids and busy home-makers, who have little time to enrol in classes, or take out time to learn more about their religion, these lectures and podcasts are the perfect way to seek ilm.

Bayyinah Institute’s rise to an actual campus entity is an inspiring story you can read more about here. It had humble beginnings in 2006, when Ustad Nouman started teaching Arabic in the New York and New Jersey areas, branching out into Tajwid and Reading essentials with Wisam Sharieff.

In two years’ time podcasts were launched, with Tafsir of the last two Juzz of the Qur’an.

In 2012, a new series was launched for children, ‘Arabic with Husna’, as Ustad Nouman started teaching the language of the Qur’an to his young daughter and started filming those sessions. It was part of the Bayyinah TV project that started in the same year. This is an annual subscription based service that gives access to over 300 videos and lessons on Arabic language and understanding the Qur’an. There encompass four courses including Arabic with Husna, Quran: Cover to Cover, Diving Speech and Themes from the Qur’an.

Podcasts are free audio lectures that can be downloaded or played online. These cover Tafsir of Surahs from the Qur’an, ayah by ayah, audio recordings of seminars as well as Khutbas delivered by Ustad Nouman and other instructors at the Institute.

Whatever way you chose to seek a better understanding of our deen, it is heartening to know that one can spend productive time online, instead of whiling it away on trivial things.

May Allah increase our knowledge, Ameen.

Jumuah Journals is a weekly series on MuslimMoms.ca where we will be focusing on inspirations, significance of days, events and history of Islam, as well as profiling notable Muslim thinkers, scholars and heroes.

Eid Milan Lunch, Event Report

Eid Milan Lunch

Food, friends, fun and fabulous prizes, these were the by-words at the Eid Milan Lunch organized by MuslimMoms.ca on October 19, 2014.

The event was announced a month in advance and like all events and get-togethers organized by MuslimMoms.ca’s FB group, spots filled up fast. Last time was a halwa puri breakfast event and all guests had enjoyed it to the max. This time the fare was traditional desi again, at Karachi Kitchen’s Meadowvale location. Ladies, dressed in their finest Eid clothing started coming in at around 2 and soon the premises were full with just MuslimMoms.ca guests, so much so that the management had to turn away other dine-in customers after a while!

Prizes

As always, we also had some fabulous prizes to be given away through a raffle draw.

Hina Syed gave away a ‘Body  by Vi’ gift hamper to Samreen Sheikh.

Nazia Asad had sponsored two gifts, a lip gloss and a pack of multivitamins for kids. Shazia Kazmi and Asma Zaman walked away with these.

Khadija from Muslimahs United Conference had six event tickets to be given away. Maria Rashid, Arshia, Nazia Rizvi, Iqra Khalid, Nusaiba and Arshiya Golpani won these tickets.

Raaela had brought in a custom Eid Mubarak cake and it was won by Anees.

Tracy from She Canada had a one year subscription to the magazine to be given away, Aaisha Islam walked away with this prize.

And finally the piece de resistance: Uzma from Uzma’s Canvas Calligraphy had brought in her original calligraphy canvas for the raffle and Maha Taufeeq won this beautiful inscription.

Food, Friends and Photos

Iqra Khalid, a young Muslim woman from Mississauga also spoke at the event. She is seeking a Liberal Party nomination for the riding of Mississauga Erin Mills in the next federal elections.

The raffle and prizes distributed, food was laid out, a tempting array of Pakistani food: Biryani, Karahi, Chicken Tikka, Naans, Mixed Vegetables, chutneys, salad and kheer as the final sweet touch to the delicious food.

Before everyone walked away, we also conducted a quick group photo session, everyone had been clicking away pictures with their new friends, but we wanted everyone in the frame for our report!

Enjoy looking through our picture gallery for the event and watch out for more events in the coming months. A MuslimMoms.ca event is surely not to be missed!

 

English Language Test For Canadian Citizenship

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

photo credit: mars_discovery_district via photopin cc

photo credit: mars_discovery_district via photopin cc

As a permanent resident of Canada, the first step in getting that coveted citizenship is completing your residency requirements and gathering all relevant documents to send over to the CIC to initiate your citizenship application.

There has been much debate over residency requirements being changed to four years from the current three years of living in Canada. However, at the time of writing this article, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website (CIC) still states that:

To qualify (for applying for Canadian Citizenship) you must:

Once you complete the three year milestone, it is time to start gathering all relevant documentation and move onto step 2 of the above stated list: Language proficiency.

Canada, as we all know, has two national languages – English and French. While English is the standard across all of the country, French is required if you are applying from citizenship from Quebec or other provinces.

Our focus here is on English language testing for Citizenship application processing, particularly in Ontario.

Language test requirements are a recent change to citizenship law. I have friends and family who applied within months of each other. One family did not have any language test to sit through while another had to provide a proof of proficiency in English.

The first thing to do in this step is to get assessed.

Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA)

A standard testing system that can be conducted at many language testing centres, this assessment is a comprehensive one that reviews your written, spoken, and reading skills in English. Basically you must be fluent enough in the language to perform your daily tasks when out and about in the country without need for any interpreter or language assistance.

There are 10 levels of the CLBA. The highest a CLBA testing centre can give you is an 8. You can only get level 9 or 10 if complete an ESL or another certificate at a Canadian institute of higher education.

If you are at a level of 4 or above, you can qualify for applying for citizenship, however, the CLBA test report is not a valid and recognized document in Canadian Citizenship application.

If you are at a level below 4 in the CLBA test, you will have to take some English language classes till you can be promoted to a higher level of the CLBA.

LINC / ESL classes

There are many centres that help new immigrants with ESL classes. These are known as LINC, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada. You can register and attend these sessions for free and improve your language skills till you get a better CLBA level, usually a 6 or above. These centres do not go above level 7.

For permanent residents who have scored a level 7 or 8 on their CLBA test, they can either register for another ESL course offered at community colleges, like the Enhance Language Training (ELT) or sit for a test.

Canadian education certificates

If you have completed studies in any Canadian college or university, a diploma, a certificate as part of continuing education programs, you can also attach your certificates from the institute as proof of English language proficiency. These are accepted by the CIC.

Third party tests

According to the CIC, there are only a few third party tests that are recognized by them for your application to be considered complete and processed any further. These include:

  1. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General test (CELPIP-G)… You must have achieved a score of: 2H or higher (3L, 3H, 4L, 4H, 5 or 6) in speaking and listening; or
  2. CELPIP-General LS – a two-skills (listening and speaking) version of the CELPIP general test. You must have achieved a score of:2H or higher (3L, 3H, 4L, 4H, 5 or 6) in listening and speaking; or
  3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS), general training, not the academic version You must have achieved a score of: 4.0 or higher in speaking, and 4.5 or higher in listening.

There are some people who cannot manage the first two options. I had tested for a Level 8 with CLBA, however that is not a valid document to attach to my application, nor was I eligible for any free LINC classes. The only route available to me was to enroll in a paid ESL course or sit for the CELPIP. ESL required attending classes for 12 weeks and I could not manage that, so I chose to sit for CELPIP General LS Test instead.

CELPIP General LS

CELPIP

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, the CELPIP is a computer based test. You register for a test, and pay the fee, 175 CAD for the General LS test and appear for the test on the given date.

You also have an option of doing a practice round or two here, just to get comfortable with the system.

The test itself is easy, it’s just getting used to talking to and listening to the computer. Results are available online after 8 days and you are also mailed your results to attach to your application.

Details of the test can be found here.

All tests done, certificates attached, forms completed, you can now send in your application and start waiting for a response from the CIC. If all your papers are in order, hopefully you will get one within six months, with a Study Guide and you can start preparing for the Citizenship test, as quoted above from CIC.

And also get your child to teach you O Canada. I have attended an Oath Ceremony and it truly is a soul stirring occasion…I hope to see mine soon, insha Allah.

 

About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of MuslimMoms.ca, her children can sing O Canada both in English and French; she can only manage snatches of it in English!

Are you a citizen yet, or are you waiting to become a Canadian? How was your Canadian journey? Let’s connect on our Forums, we’d love to hear more from you.