Category Archives: Between Friends

The First Days of Fasting

By Saraa Mahfouz

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I felt excitement when I learned that I will be fasting that Ramadan. I was almost 9 years old and Ramadan was during the winter months. The days were shorter and the breeze became cooler.

I remember telling my mom what I wanted for Suhoor; a bowl of my favourite cereal and glass of juice. When my dad woke me up with a slight knocking at the door and coming to my bedside speaking quietly, I immediately jumped out of bed. We sat together at the breakfast table and started eating. My dad reminded me to make the intention and then smiled at me proudly. It was almost time to for school and I brushed my teeth and headed out to the world.

The first thing I did as I got to school was rush to my teacher and tell her I was fasting and that I couldn’t eat or drink all day. My teacher seemed happy but confused as she didn’t know what was going on. She asked if I can explain more and maybe do a presentation to the class. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. At that time I was the only student in the school who wore a hijab. There were other Muslims in the school and many were fasting as well.

After the morning announcements were made my teacher called on me to come up to the class and explain what Ramadan was. I walked slowly to the front of the class and started telling my classmates about how I will fast for the month, no eating or drinking from morning until evening. Of course my knowledge of the subject was limited at that age but I explained to them that I was fasting to recognize the children in the world who don’t have food. Many of the students asked if they can fast as well. It was an exciting feeling and I felt proud of myself. The next day almost the whole class said they were fasting!

Fast forward 15 years later. I have my own classroom and my own set of students. The first day of Ramadan came during the fall. It was the first week of school and Ramadan had already begun. My students were the same age as me when I first fasted and the excitement was the same if not more. This time all the students in my class were Muslim but all of them had different cultural traditions. Students came rushing to me in the morning to tell me they were fasting with the same speed that I once had.

I imagined myself running through those doors excitedly telling my teacher. The students were proud that they were fasting and most of them knew they were fasting for the same reason and more. They wanted to decorate and sing Ramadan songs. They wanted to share their stories of breaking their fast with their families. I looked at them with pride the same way my father did that first morning of fasting. I thought to myself that I couldn’t wait to share the traditions with my own little family.

About the Author

Saraa Mahfouz is a mom of two boys (3 and 1) and is expecting a girl in July. She has been an elementary teacher for 6 years and has a passion for sharing her thoughts and experiences with others.  She started blogging in her university years but motherhood and her two busy boys have since become her first priority. Saraa also dabbled in photography for some time. She is very excited to get back into writing and sharing her passion with the muslimmoms.ca community.

Eds’ Note: Blessed Ramadan

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Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness” (2:183)

The most beautiful and blessed month is coming very soon and it is never too early to prepare. These 29 or 30 days, give us so many opportunities for reconnecting with family, the soul and most importantly Allah (swt). It is the greatest time to reignite your inner fire.

We at Muslimmoms.ca have a wonderful line up of articles for you for Ramadan. Why do you fast? What happens if you eat something? People question what they do not understand and the concept of “starving yourself” for the sake of religion is something many do not understand. Do you have the answers? We do in our FAQ of Ramadan article.

Did you know that fasting can actually be beneficial to your health? We have a number of wonderful articles that will show you the benefits of fasting as well as to help ensure you have a healthy Ramadan.

Working during Ramadan can be a challenge and we have the tips you need to speak to your employer and colleagues about Ramadan as well how to keep up with your work during Ramadan.

It is essential to excite our children about Ramadan and Eid. With the strong presence of Christmas, Easter and other Non-Muslim holidays in the West, it is vital that we show our children the beauty of our holidays. Educate them and involve them. We have some lovely crafts to share with you that will undoubtedly get your kids motivated!

Inviting guests over for Iftar? Along with our weekly recipes you’ll surely want to share at an iftar gathering, we also have some healthy suhoor ides to share. Further, we’ll give you our advice on iftar etiquette.

A jam packed month to help you with all your Ramadan planning! Wishing you a blessed Ramadan!

Dedicated to Charitable Causes

By Erum Zehra

Charitable causes

Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

[2: Al-Baqara-274]

Allah undoubtedly rewards those who generously give to the needy and help with cash and kind. There are innumerable organizations performing commendable deeds in Canada and all over the world that need our assistance. We have compiled a list of some charitable organizations based in Canada as “Charity begins at home”. All of the following are working for worthy causes that can benefit greatly from your patronage.

Nisa Homes

Nisa Homes, a project of National Zakat Foundation, is the first group of transitional homes for Muslim women and children in Canada. They offer shelter, food, medical help, spiritual aid, therapists, counselors, and financial aid to women from all backgrounds and different walks of life. Many of their residents are survivors of domestic violence. They have two homes, one in Mississauga, Ontario and one in Vancouver, British Columbia. They need donations to provide food and other facilities to their residents on a regular basis. Please visit the following for more information.
www.nisahomes.com
www.facebook.com/nisahomes

315 NISA

Muslim Women’s Helpline is the first and largest Muslim women’s helpline in North America. They answer over 2,400 calls every year and due to their limited resources, they still end up missing calls. Their counselors are available twelve hours a day and can help with virtually any issue that women might be facing.  Please donate to help them serve even more women. Please visit the following for more information:
www.315nisa.com
www.facebook.com/315nisa

Maryam Home

Maryam Home, a project of ICNA Relief Canada, is a temporary shelter home for women experiencing abuse.  Maryam Home will be open to all women but mainly seeks to help single, Muslim women who find themselves in abusive domestic situations in and around the GTA. The home will provide women with shelter, halal food and counseling to help them return to living normal lives and regain their confidence. ICNA Relief has already purchased a suitable property in Mississauga and requires 1 million dollars to renovate, furnish, staff the facility and begin operations soon. Please click here to donate: icnareliefcanada.ca/maryam-home

Plan Canada

Plan Canada gives you the opportunity to sponsor a girl and transform her life for only $39 per month. You can choose the region where you want to sponsor the child. As part of your sponsorship you can exchange letters and photos and visit your sponsored child. When you sponsor a child, your donations are pooled to support a wide range of programs in your sponsored child’s community. This means you are helping to improve the life of your sponsored child and the lives of all those in the community.  plancanada.ca/sponsoragirl

Children of Hope

Children of Hope is a volunteer organization that works to help orphans and destitute children around the world. They raise funds to meet the basic needs of these children to ease their suffering irrespective of race, religion or creed. They also help to educate these children so that they can lead respectable lives and have a bright future. Please visit http://childrenofhope.ca/ for more information.

HOPE

Help Orphans and Promote Education (H.O.P.E) Foundation has been helping orphaned children, youth and their families for more than three years. They’re proud of their heritage of cultivating community building, supporting academic readiness, and embracing diversity. Beyond caste, color, creed, religion or nationality. H.O.P.E is here to bring attention to the orphans of the world, the less fortunate among us, who seek such refuge, shelter and care. Please visit www.helpforhope.ca for more information.

My Women Support – Dedicated to Empowering Women

By Erum Zehra

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As mothers we have a tendency of keeping the needs of our families before ours. While this helps our families develop and achieve their goals, we end up neglecting ourselves. Sometimes this negligence makes us lag behind in life and we lose the sense of achievement and empowerment. Kiran Moid launched her website in 2005 to reach out to women who needed help with empowerment and motivate them to achieve what they want. We at Muslimmoms.Ca interviewed her to learn more about her initiative and efforts.

What is the history behind “MywomenSupport” and when was it created?

When I came to Canada 14 years ago I went through all the phases that a new immigrant had to go through. I went through stress, anxiety, pregnancy and above all adjusting with the new environment. Being a fresh business graduate I applied my management knowledge in this situation and treated this phase of life as the initial stage of management. I developed workshops for moms where they learned time management skills, decision making, leadership, problem solving and how to apply them in their daily life. It was a big success and one can easily see the changes in the life of those women. In 2005 I started MyWomenSupport.com, this was the time when internet was not very common in our community and social media did not exist. We are a registered Non-profit now and our work for the betterment of women in the society is still going on. The thought behind MyWomenSupport is to empower women and motivate them to achieve what they dream.

How can women be empowered?

Empowerment comes from within .Thinking positive and looking at the brighter side that anything is possible if they put their heart into it. Never stop learning: a new craft, a new language or improving your existing language skills, a business course or parenting skills are all ways of self improvement. Learning is food for mind and a healthy mind help you become a better person in every way. So a woman who is well equipped, mentally strong and eager to learn is an empowered woman.

 Can you share some stories of women you have already helped?

I am fortunate to be a part of the Non Profit sector because one can feel the importance of human existence in the society where people are linked without being related to each other and you are connected through feelings and emotions. A long-term relationship is not a guarantee for a healthy relationship. A times you are alone in the presence of all the people around you and you need someone who listen to you without judging you and help you explore different options with you. You get to listen to stories that revolve around betrayal, mistrust, bad decision, lies, authority challenge, self-existence, brutality, cheating and sometimes adventure.

Once a senior woman called and insisted that she will only talk to me .When we talked for the first time I listened to her story. She was a broken woman who had given more than 35 years to her marriage and kids but now she was alone as her husband had been in a polygamous marriage and her real sons had disowned her. She did not have the basic necessities of life. She called when no one was home. I wanted to help her beyond my profession because my heart was superseding the mind at this time but I had to control my emotional self and guide her to make her decision. It was tough but together we did whatever was best for her.

How can you help women facing domestic violence/abuse?

Domestic violence eats a person from inside. They lose their confidence, self-esteem, and strength, mental and physical stability; basically their whole personality is affected. We encourage the person to talk, as sharing your story or problem with someone who knows how to solve it can help them in a big way. Prolonging the situation encourages the abuser to continue with his actions because there is no one to stop him. We guide them step by step and refer the victim of abuse/violence to available resources if we do not specialize in a particular state of affairs. We are fortunate that the government in power is taking some serious steps to support the victim and help is available out there. Please do not keep silent as silence can harm you.

 What are you other areas of expertise?

MyWomenSupport has been helping women to start their own business by providing them basic knowledge and financial help.  Life skill coaching, skill development and career development are some other areas that I support women with. I like to listen to My Women and I am told that I am a good listener. I do not like to leave my clients in the middle of a situation because I work like a friend who is there for you in need.

How can women request help from you?

Our website is http://www.MyWomenSupport.com.We are accessible through e-mail , phone and one to one sessions can also be arranged if required. My direct phone number is 647-830 8425.

 What are your future plans?

Right now we are working with our local government to establish a Women Empowerment Hub which will work as a social enterprise and a BIA (Business Improvement Area) that is focused on women entrepreneurs. This will provide a platform for women to grow and participate in the growth of our economy. We need more female participation in politics, trade, and business especially from our immigrant women.

 How can the community help you?

We are always in search of women with skills who would like to contribute by sharing their knowledge. We can train them so they can help others. This society is so dependent on people who work selflessly to make others happy and we are fortunate that people around us are eager to help but structured help can make a better impact. Volunteering increases the happy hours of your life so if you want to help others please contact us so together we can make a difference in the life of others.

 

 

The Noble Call Of Teaching

By Aruj Sipra

The noble call of teaching

Teaching is one of the oldest and noblest services to the society in any culture. It’s also a process to prepare the next generation of skilled professionals and workers like engineers, doctors, educators, legislators and good citizens.

Being a teacher myself, I can say that teaching enlightens both parties, student as well as the teacher. Not only the students learn but the teacher also learns the lessons of life from students.

I started my teaching career right after graduating, as a way to start earning and the thought of getting my paycheque kept me going though I would say, it was not an easy ride. I was and still am fond of little children but at a distance so having a class of 20 children under the ages of three years old was pretty hard especially when you are young and naive yourself. There were many cries, grunting and kicking and to make matters worse, at times, I was the only teacher in the classroom. I survived against all odds because I had in me, one of the most important powerful teaching tool, patience.  A teacher’s patience is the heart of students’ long-term learning and skills.

Teaching isn’t for everyone, but if you love being around children, then it’s one of the noblest professions. You should have patience and to make it easier, have a pretty good sense of humour. Many times I have noticed children say the funniest things and I laugh with them. I feel much better because my students see me as a happy person.

Pre-school is also one of the most rewarding and fun grades to teach. Everything is new and exciting to these students. They love to sing and play games and really can learn to work together and treat each other with a great deal of kindness.

A positive feedback, simple words like“good job” or  “excellent” may not mean much to us but they mean the whole world to students. Publicly praise positive behaviour and show your students that you are celebrating their achievements as well.

The hardest part of being in this position is when parents don’t back you. If you have kids throwing punches, you simply can’t have it. And the parents will sometimes come in and make a hundred excuses; it’s not their child, it’s not their fault. When you don’t get support to correct problems, it’s disappointing.

I am often asked by the parents, “What are the best ways parents can help teachers and that teachers can help parents?” My answer, The Child-Parent-Teacher Triangle method which was developed by Dr Maria Montessori.

The three best ways parents can help teachers:

  1. Be involved in your child’s education – show them that you care and create a positive ‘triangle’ relationship between yourself, your child and your child’s teacher.
  2. Educate yourself on the current trends in education – how is your child’s teacher educating your child. Times change and so does the way we teach. As a parent it is your job to come to grips with the new ways of learning, to best support and guide your child through their learning journey.
  3. Send them to school happy – give your child a hug before they walk out the door and you head off to work. Look them in the eye and tell them how much you love them, how proud of them you are and boost their confidence every day. They will be more secure and ready to start a positive day of learning.

The three best ways teachers can help parents:

  1. Communicate – it is the key to success and keeping parents involved in their child’s education is critical. Don’t wait until parent conferences to let them know that their child is falling behind. Email them, call them or talk to them at the gate – keep them involved!
  2. Educate them – bring them in for professional development – teach them how you teach Math or English – support their learning as it is just as important as their child’s. They have to support learning at home.
  3. Be positive – send a note home or an email to let them know the amazing things their child is doing. Make no exceptions, do this for EVERY child. The smallest thing, can make the biggest difference!

There is always a leg-up personality in every successful person’s life. In most of the cases you will find, it is either one of their teacher or one of the grandparent that helped them how to ride and control reins of life. Aristotle said, “Those who educate the children are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”

About the author:

Aruj Sipra is the community manager at MuslimMoms.ca, a teacher who absolutely loves her job and derives true joy from interacting with little ones.

 

Nisa Homes – Dedicated To Helping Women

By Erum Zehra

Nisa Homes

MuslimMoms.ca talks to Zena Chaudhry about Nisa Homes and how the organization, with its transitional homes for women and their children, has been instrumental in helping these victims of abuse get their lives back on track. 

Can you please share with us stories of some women who are housed in Nisa Homes so that we can get an idea of their plight?

Due to confidentiality and safety issues, we cannot share entire stories, however there is one story which always sticks out for me. We got a call from an older woman one night whose abusive husband had Islamically divorced her. That same night, we picked her up from the closest GO station and brought her to Nisa Homes. From there, we learned that she had been trying to complete her Master’s degree but was having great difficulty due to the domestic abuse. Nisa Homes became a safe space for her where she could focus on herself and we were there for her to help her get her life back on track. Three months later, she graduated with her Master’s degree, got an apartment, and a job. She embodies what we hope and wish for all of our residents. Our goal is to support them in realizing their potential and truly believing just how strong and courageous they are.

It’s also interesting to note the statistics of the major reason why women and children come to Nisa Homes. 38.6% of the residents come due to domestic abuse, 36.5% come due to poverty, 13.6% come because they are refugees or immigrants without support, and 11.3% come for various other reasons. All of these women and children need our support, so our house operators and volunteers are trained to understand and work with women from all different walks of life.

Who are the people behind Nisa Homes. What is its history and when was it created?

The idea behind Nisa Homes was brought up in 2014 within National Zakat Foundation. They set out to determine whether there was a need for transitional homes or shelters for Muslim women and children in Canada. Their preliminary report indicated that there was indeed a demand and they set out to open the first transitional home for Muslim women and children soon after. In 2015, the homes began filling up and we began to see a clear need across Canada for these homes. At the moment, there are two homes – one in Mississauga, ON and one in Surrey, BC. Nisa Homes is run by two individuals – me and Yasmine Youssef. However, we do have the support and backing of National Zakat Foundation, as well. Zubair Qasim and Zaid Mirza are our two advisors and National Zakat Foundation, as a whole, is our financial backer.

How common is domestic abuse in a country like Canada?

Domestic abuse exists in every nation and state around the world and Canada is not an exception. Every six days, a Canadian woman is killed by an intimate partner – if that statistic isn’t alarming, 1 in 4 women have also experienced some sort of abuse in their lifetime. Additionally, 67% of all Canadians say that they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.

Further, it is important for us to recognize that the Muslim community is not immune to this either. There is domestic abuse in Muslim communities too but this doesn’t mean that our rates are statistically higher or lower than those of the rest of Canadians. We need to understand that people from all cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds can be abused. When people talk about “honour killings” what they don’t understand and take into account is the fact that any domestic abuse-related murder is an honour killing, regardless of the religious background of the perpetrator.

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What kind of laws are in place to protect victims from domestic abuse?

Unfortunately, there are no specific laws about family violence, however many of the laws currently in place can work to protect women and men from an abuser. These laws can be found at: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/fv-vf/laws-lois.html

Does the government provide any kind of support to such victims?

Yes, there are some services provided by the government for survivors of domestic violence. There are victim services offices in every major region of Canada, shelters, helplines, and survivors of domestic abuse and violence are also put on the priority list for subsidized housing.

If yes, then why was there a need to establish a facility like Nisa Homes?

Nisa Homes was created due to a need in the Muslim community. We have no statistics or information about the number of Muslim women and children who are abused and this is, in part, due to the Muslim community being unwilling to talk about these topics. Domestic abuse and homelessness are seen as taboo topics in the Muslim community so it is important for us to bring these issues to the forefront because they will not go away if we refuse to address them. We should not deny the existence of abuse in our community but we should instead work to provide education and social services to create a safe environment for Muslim women and children.

Islam honours women greatly, so why haven’t there been strides made to protect them? We, as a Muslim community, have a responsibility to protect and honour women so how can we do that without having specific services for them?

Additionally, Nisa Homes is not just a group of transitional homes. We offer shelter, food, counseling, behavioural therapists for children, referral services, education and employment services, safety and sustainability planning, and financial assistance.

Through working at Nisa Homes, we have discovered that Muslim women often returned to abusive and unsafe homes to avoid staying at shelters due to stigma within the Muslim community as well as the community at large that often further exacerbates the problem by putting the onus on Islam. Additionally, mainstream shelters portrayed a lack of cultural and religious sensitivity from both the other residents as well as shelter workers at times, which results in women not being able to practice their religion, heal through spirituality or be prosecuted for their religious choices by, for example, being turned away from shelters, not being allowed to have iftar if the time did not coincide with dinner, or mocked for praying or making wudu (ablution).

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How are the operations and the facilities funded?

All of our funding comes from private donors – we don’t get any funding from the government. Thus, the majority of our funds come from zakat, sadaqah, and donations. The rest of it is all sadaqah and general donations. Whenever Nisa Homes cannot make ends meet, National Zakat Foundation assists in covering our expenses. However, it is our goal to be self-sufficient within this year, insh’Allah. In order to do that, we need to build a strong donor base which goes out and actively fundraises for Nisa Homes along with donating themselves. Donations can be made at www.nisahomes.com/donate

How can the community help Nisa Homes?

The three most important ways that the community can help Nisa Homes are: spreading the word about Nisa Homes, donating funds or items, and donating your time and effort. Don’t shy away from talking about domestic abuse and violence in the Muslim community – let’s address this issue and help the women and children who fact this abuse.
For in-kind donations, you can always email nisahomes@nzf.ca to see what items we are looking for at a certain time. We always welcome toiletries and non-perishable food items which can be dropped off at our office.

Wipe-off Islamic Calendar Craft

By Sukaina Imran

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Cold snowy days when you are cooped indoors is when the ‘I’m BORED!’ monster comes out full force. To keep your little ones occupied at home and get a dose of Islamic knowledge on the side, this easy DIY Islamic calendar craft is a treat. You get to spend some quality bonding time with your children and it’s not just a calendar that you make, you are also making a memory of a cosy evening spent together.

The supplies are easily found, you can buy a dry-erase calendar from any dollar or craft store, use that as your template and get crafting.

These pictures are self-explanatory in themselves.

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About the Author: 

Sukaina Imran is a Montessori trained teacher from Pakistan. She moved to the US after getting married and worked in an Islamic school in Texas for three years. She also has a child psychology diploma. After the birth of her first child, Sukaina quit formal work and decided to put her Montessori teachings to bring her children closer to Islam

Dealing with “Toxic People” in Our Lives

By Sameera Ali

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When you read the words “Toxic People” the first thing that comes to mind are people that are forced into our lives, like in-laws. While that might be the case for many people, sometimes it’s the people you chose yourself to be in your lives that turn out to be toxic. Yes you guessed it right, these can be your “friends.”

We have all seen them; there is always one in a group. You know the one who will be the first person to publicly point out that you have put on a couple pounds, or the one who takes a recipe from you and then shares it with others as her “original” recipe, or the one who never responds to your messages or the one who is always hit by one calamity after the other. While these might seem like harmless personality traits, if done repeatedly, can cause you hurt feelings, frustration and anxiety.

So the question is, how to deal with such people?

Whatever way you chose to deal with this problem, make sure that your goal is to eliminate the source of negativity from your life completely. That also means refusing to waste time thinking about that person. In more serious cases, it may mean cutting a toxic person out of your life. Life is short and full of uphill battles, the last thing you want is to surround yourself with people who bring unnecessary stress in your life by those who bring you down.

Now to figure out a way to deal with such people. Well, that mostly depends on what kind of person you are.

Passive People

If you are a non-confrontational/passive type, your best bet is to pull back, make fewer plans, be polite but not overly friendly. Don’t be dishonest. Make the other person aware that you don’t like the way she treats you if not in clear words, than at least through your reserved behaviour.

Assertive People

If you’re the assertive type than the solution is pretty straight forward. Let your friend know what’s bothering you. Come out right and say, “Your attitude is upsetting me right now.  Is this what you want?” Challenging this kind of behavior upfront will get to her to realize the negative impact of her behavior and even if she denies it, at least you’ve made her aware of the problem and also realized that it’s time to move along.

The Goal

The goal is not to try to change anyone. That is not your job. Your job is to defend your boundaries. It is your right to make sure that you feel safe in a relationship. Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being.

A Healthy Relationship

Remember, a healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking. Toxic people are bullies which is why it’s even more important to stand up to them, not just for yourself, but for others around you.

Let us know below how you deal with toxic people and how eliminating them has helped you live a better life!

 

About the Author: 

Sameera Ali is a full-time freelance content writer /SEO expert and a mom of four wonderful kids who keep her busy and thankful always.

Advice to My Younger Self

By Khaula Mazhar

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Unlike the very “cool” advice Helen Mirren said she would give her younger self, that is, to “tell people off more frequently”, I suppose mine is quite boring and dull. You know just regular, ordinary, not-so-cool-people stuff. Maybe it’s because I am not 70 yet, maybe it is because I am Canadian and we are just too polite to tell people off all the time. Maybe because I am trying to cut down on potty mouthness.

So it’s a tough one, you don’t want to sound clichéd, and you do want to bestow all your worldly knowledge and experience on the unfortunate younger generation who seem to be doing everything wrong (exactly like you at that  age).

So what would I tell my younger self or a younger someone else?

  1. Don’t grow up too fast. Don’t be so busy wishing you are 18, 21 or 25. Once you get there you will realize it was all a lie. You don’t have more freedom, you’ll just have more stress because you aren’t where you were expecting to be. And you still won’t be sure of exactly where it is you want to be. Enjoy those young days of freedom and parents’ lectures, because once you are on your own you have to deal with all the (fill in the blank with your choice of bad word) yourself. No parents to deal with it for you, you will be on your own.

  2. Do not party too hard once you are 18,21 or 25. Focus on exactly what you want and think of how you can get there, take opportunities, network, volunteer. Don’t become a party pooper though either! Balance is the keyword.

  3. Do enjoy every second, no matter what. Learn from the failures, laugh at your embarrassments (they will make great chapters for your memoirs in later life), treasure even the tragedies. They are what make you stronger, more determined and grateful when you win life’s little battles. Never think “If I had another chance I would change this or that”. Think “I would do it exactly the same”, your future is what you can change. Not your past, embrace it!

  4. Forgive others. But don’t be gullible. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you give anyone a chance to hurt you again. That is stupidity.

  5. Forgive yourself! But don’t make the same mistakes. That is also stupidity.

  6. Always help others along the way. You do have time, there is no race unless you make it one, and it always pays to do good for good people. Surround yourself with good people.

  7. Don’t ever waste time on getting back at someone, that is not cool. Karma is a (insert bad word here) let her take care of it for you. She does an excellent job.

  8. Some of us are late bloomers. Just go with it. You may have to put everything on hold because of your kids. Put it in hold! They grow up too fast, their childhood will not come back, opportunities will.

  9. Stop to smell the roses. Always take time out to read a good book, watch a good movie, spend time with your best friends, go on a date with your husband, visit your elderly relatives.

  10. Never look back with regret. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t. Believe that God has something better planned for you and move on.

  11. Do NOT tell people off more often, smile and walk away. It is way more irritating to them that you didn’t react, that you don’t give them enough importance to take their (your choice of bad word) to heart.

Now go on and be awesome!

About the Author:

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

World Hijab Day: Feb 1st, 2016

By: Rahila Ovais

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For this World Hijab Day we asked our fellow team members a few questions on Hijab? See their insightful answers below:

1. What does the Hijab mean to you?
2. How do you feel when you wear the Hijab?
3. When did you start wearing the hijab and what lead you to making that decision?
4. Were your family and friends supportive? What did they say?
5. What reactions did you get when first starting to wear the hijab?
6. Have you ever had any negative attention while wearing the hijab? Please explain.
7. Have you have any positive attention while wearing the hijab? Please explain.
8. Have you had any funny comments or moments while wearing the hijab?
9. If you could say what you wanted to non-Muslims regarding the hijab what would you say?
10. Lastly, how do you feel about the hijab being recognized as ‘oppressive’?

Erum Zehra

  1. Hijab is an essential part of my attire and expresses my identity as a Muslim woman.

  2. I feel complete and comfortable when I wear Hijab.

  3. I started wearing Hijab after I went for ziyarat at the shrine of prophet’s grandson Imam Hussain, the great martyr. The visit reminded me of the sacrifices given to preserve the true essence of our religion. Adopting Hijab was a way of accepting and practicing this true essence.

  4. Yes, they were supportive and happy.

  5. To be honest, I didn’t care about how people were reacting. I was focused on making Allah happy and that made me happy too.

  6. Not any I can remember.

  7. Yes, women have come up to me and said Masha Allah you do Hijab.

  8. I don’t recall any

  9. Hijab is a part of several religions including Christianity and Judaism.

  10. I find my Hijab to be liberating and protective at the same time. It is so much more than a garment and it’s certainly not oppressive.

 

Mona Ismaeil

1. Hijab is my outward expression of my deepest self. It is my protection, my identity and my devotion to Allah (swt)
2.  I feel empowered, protected and very confident. I know that I am an embarrassed of my deen and I wear it with pride. I want to be that go to person for when people have questions. I want to have open and honest dialogue about the beauty of hijab and in turn the truth about women in Islam.
3. I was 22. I felt that the hijab and a stronger connection with Allah (swt) was missing from my life. It was just time to put it on.
4. They were all very supportive. It was something i really wanted to do and my Muslim and Non-Muslim friends alike respected that.
5. I actually received many positive reactions. I feel I received more respect.
6. I think I am one of the “lucky ones” I have actually not received any negative attention.
7. Many people (especially Non-Muslims) start off with “I love your scarf”, “you look so beautiful”, etc. I like to accept those compliments in a very welcoming manner hoping to initiate dialogue about hijab.
8. Someone asked my husband if he had ever seen my hair.
9. Hijab truly is a beautiful thing and in all Faiths there is a form or another of head covering for women. Let’s focus on what we have in common as human beings and less on what makes us different. Ask questions to increase knowledge, not to ridicule. Open your mind to understanding us and we will open our hearts to sharing what we are all about.
10. It’s actually the total opposite! Having full control over how much of your body someone sees is incredibly liberating. Hijab gives a Muslim women so much power over herself.

Rahila Ovais

  1. To me, hijab is not just that piece of cloth covering my hair. When I first decided to don the hijab, It took a complete overhaul of my closet. It’s a constant reminder of what it means to be a Muslim. It’s a continuous prompt that I must also always make sure of all the little things that are required of me, to pray on time, not to indulge in gossip, not to lie, not to listen to music to name a few.  Hijab is my identity now. No one has to wonder and ask me what my background is or where I am from. They see me as a Muslim and that is enough.

  2. Donning the hijab has made me more confident, more self assured and contrary to popular belief, it has given me more independence. I feel protected.

  1. It has been about five years since I started wearing hijab. Before I started taking hijab I used to look at all other hijabi sisters with respect and admiration and wished I could be as strong and brave as them, I used to ask them to pray for me too that Allah gives me Hidaya (guidance). Inspiration came to me in many ways. I had attended a lecture during my last pregnancy and the lecturer described how a woman when she gives birth becomes as pure as the baby. The way she described it gave me goose bumps and sent chills down my spine. I wished I had been enlightened earlier.

  2. It was interesting to note that my coworkers were more supportive than family! My family is a reflection of modern day Muslim. It is a general opinion on my husband and in-laws’ side that we don’t have to dress a certain way to be identified as a good Muslim. I agree with this to a certain level. Wearing a hijab does not really qualify you as a Good Muslim but for me it has certainly enabled me to learn more and practice more of my religion without imposing it on others around me.

  3. I remember the first day when I walked into my work with my hijab on, I was ready for a few weird looks and a lot of questions. It was to my uttermost surprise that there were no weird looks; in fact most of my coworkers complimented me. Few had questions, like what made me decide to wear hijab after all these years. To them my answer was simple “because I have to, my religion prescribes it for me, and because I want to set a good example for my girls and if not now then when”.

  4. Alhamdolillah I have never encountered any negative attention due to hijab.  Most people are genuinely interested in learning more about hijab.

  1. During an event at work, I couldn’t believe how many pleasant encounters I had. There was this Egyptian lady, when I greeted her in the morning, she automatically replied with a Salam. Another Muslim Pakistani gentleman said Salam and automatically lowered his gaze while he spoke to me. Yet another older Muslim lady, who had met me before in my non-hijab wearing days had a hard time recognizing me, nevertheless when she did she said “MashaAllah you look good. Pray for me too”. I replied “In sha Allah, you never know when you will be inspired and Allah will grant you Tawfeeq (inspiration)”.

  2. Once I was walking with my co-worker on a particularly windy day, I quickly learned wind is NOT my friend especially when I was wearing a silk scarf!

About the Author: 

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.