Category Archives: Reflections

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.

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.

39 Things I Learned in My 30′s

By Rahila Ovais

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2015 marked the year when I celebrated the last of my birthdays in my 30’s.  Besides the fact that I still cringe and cry every time I discover a new grey hair; my 30’s were the years when I really embraced aging.  Being a young mom, I spent my 20’s in child rearing and career building. Now that I approach the big 4-0, I can honestly say that my 30’s were the learning years. Here is a list of things I have learned……

  1. Allah has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith. But it’s worth the wait.

  1. Believe in the power of prayer with conviction.

  1. Before you judge other people’s actions, ask yourself “Have I been in this situation before?” If not, don’t judge!

  1. Learn to always mind your own business.

  1. Hurt me and I may forgive and forget, I may even turn another cheek, but if anyone hurts my family I will turn around and bite.

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t”.

  1. I am not a morning person but oh the wonders you get to see when you wake up early.

  1. “Kill them with kindness; bury them with smile”.  Smile when taking a compliment; also when being criticised. Smile when you don’t have an answer.

  1. Worrying doesn’t improve anything.  Most problems get worse if we take them too seriously.

  1. Don’t undermine yourself by comparing with others. You are in no competition with anyone.

  1. Envy is a waste of time; you already have all you need.

  1. Do not change your own hopes and wishes to make others happy.

  1. A handwritten greeting card, a handpicked wildflower bouquet or a home-made cake; these are the things that matter.

  1. Take lots of pictures of your kids when they are young, they grow up too fast but do not forget to make memories in the process.

  1. It’s never too late to do anything you want.

  1. Life would be boring if everything was perfect.

  1. Patience is needed with everyone but most importantly with ourselves.

  1. Men are from earth, women are from earth; just deal with it!

  1. Before making a choice, always ask yourself the most basic question. “Can you sleep at night with the choice you made?”

  1. Spend as much time as you can with your grandparents. You will miss them a lot when they are gone.

  1. The best person who can help you out of your problems is the one you see in the mirror.

  1. There is nothing wrong in being the first to apologize. It is equally important to accept an apology wholeheartedly.

  1. Nothing should stop you from standing up for what is right; sometimes  being kind is more important than being right.

  1. “Honesty is the best policy”. Never cheat or lie.  My mom did a fine job of teaching me that, now I can not lie to even save my life.

  1. Express gratitude. Be the first one to say “thank you”; people will always remember that about you.

  1. Keep your sense of humour.

  1. Age is just a number and grey hair happens; this is your time to be creative with it.

  1. If time permits, volunteer you time for others.

  1. Holding on to grudges takes a lot of energy.  Forgive often and wholeheartedly.

  1. The key to being happy is to expect nothing from others. You are in-charge of your own happiness. Go buy those goddamn 4 inch heels if that’s what will make you happy!

  1. Teach your kids to enjoy the wonders of life. Spend time outdoors in nature and marvel at the sunsets and full moons together.

  1. When life gets crazy, do something normal. And if life gets too normal, do something crazy.

  1. You children will become who you are; so be what you want them to be.

  1. Write down all the funny things your kids say when they are young. They will be all grown up in the blink of an eye.

  1. Save that last piece of chocolate for yourself.  Sometimes there is nothing wrong with being selfish.

  1. You will eventually become your mother, be proud of it.

  1. Take all the learning opportunities that arise when you are trying to teach your kids.

  1. Keep your promises.

  1. Life is a circus; It’s a balancing act and a juggling routine. Have fun!

 

Share the lessons you have learned as part of growth?

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.

Coming Up with a Great New Years Resolution

By  Elaf Salim

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As I watch the snow fall in my backyard, I can’t help but think about the past year, 2015 and all the events that happened changing my life and the lives of people I know. The year has come to an end, wrapping up all our accomplishments and our struggles. If you are a fan of personal growth and development, it is a good practise to set yourself some goals in the beginning of the new year to work on them and hopefully achieve them by the end of 2016. Having hopes and aspirations for the new year is a beautiful habit but if you would like to actually achieve them I have some tips for you.

1-      Step into Reality

It is very important to understand your current starting point, all you have achieved so far and all the strengths and weaknesses you have before you choose your goals. Grab a piece of paper or your journal and start describing your current life. Write about your family, relationships, friendships, health, career and financial situation.

2-      Decide Where You Want to Go

Where do you wish to be by the end of the year? Write down a detailed description of your life and the accomplishments you would like to achieve. If you don’t know your destination, you will end up somewhere else. Also make sure your goals stretch you beyond your comfort zone but are still achievable. For example, if you live in a one bedroom apartment and would like to up-level, you can set a goal to move into your first town house, instead of your dream 10 bedroom mansion. While Allah can absolutely make all your dreams come true and everything is actually possible, it is better to set a goal that you believe you can achieve within a year.

3-      Choose Your Set of Measurable Goals

The key here is to choose a few tangible goals so you are not overwhelmed and to make these goals measureable and specific. For example, instead of hoping to ‘lose weight’, set yourself a specific achievable goal such as, ‘lose 10 pounds’. This will help you a lot in planning and decision making and will keep your momentum going throughout the year.

4-      Write the Detailed Steps

You need to have a plan, in order to achieve these goals by the end of the year. So write down the actionable steps you need to accomplish for each of the goals to come to life. Try to be specific and detailed so you can track your progress throughout the year.

 

Here are some of my goals for inspiration. You may relate to some of them but your goals will be different since you are a beautiful unique human being and your life is different:

-          Spend 1 or 2 hours of quality time with my son everyday

-          Read at least 1 page of Quran everyday

-          Visit friends and family and enjoy their company twice

   per month

-          Take two weeks of vacation and travel back to Egypt

-          Strive to achieve a consistent level of monthly income

   from my business – add your specific number here ;)

-          Eat healthy meals at least 4 times every week

I hope you have a wonderful new year and may God give you all your heart desires.

About the Author:

Elaf Selim is a Software Engineer, a Jewelry designer, a blogger and a Mom. She is the owner of SkiesAndSparkles.com, a handmade artisan jewelry shop. She loves photography, writing, historical architectures and nature in all forms.

 

 

Minecraft –More Than Just A Game!

By Anisa Tayab

Minecraft

A typical day in my household always includes a story about a Creeper, an Ender-Dragon or Herobine.  And like most moms, I have no idea what my kids are talking about.  Chances are if you have a child who plays video games, they are playing Minecraft!

Minecraft has sold over 20 million copies for PC’s and millions more on iPads and Android Tablets. Microsoft purchased Minecraft from Mojang for $2.5 billion dollars last year and the creator of Minecraft Markus Persson out-bid Jay Z and Beyonce on a $70 million mansion in Beverly Hills.  Minecraft is everywhere.  If you have not heard of it, you really are living under a rock!

I’m not sure how the craze began in my house but I remember downloading the game for my son and then him begging us to buy the full edition.  Still not understanding the game I turned to Facebook and asked my friends for their advice.  A few friends told me to steer clear of the dark side, while others told me why it was so great.

Creative Mode

The game has two modes; Creative and Survival.  In both modes, players (a character named Steve in the game) use their creativity to build.  Players usually begin by creating a home and then expand their world by creating other buildings in a community.  In this game of virtual blocks, players use their creativity to build a world the way they want.  They first must chop down trees for wood, mine for coal, iron and other elements that are used throughout the game to make different types of blocks. You will also see animals roaming around freely, you can make them your pets, let them live or use them to make food.

My son has built amusement parks with roller coasters, bowling alleys with multiple lanes, a school and anything he wants.  Creative mode allows players to determine how to place blocks strategically resulting in a finished project.  Sounds like a lot of future engineers to me!

Survival Mode

In Survival mode, the purpose of the game is to survive.  It has all the features of creative but is more challenging and frightening.  Players use their creations to hide and escape from all the enemies in Minecraft.  They also mine to look for items that will protect them like swords and armour.  Survival mode is where you will find Creepers, zombies, spiders and skeletons.

A creeper is that ackward looking, pixilated, green figure you see roaming around on your child’s screen. If you get too close to it, it will blow up and harm you.  Skeletons also blow up while spiders and zombies hit the player.  The player must destroy these creatures to live.  If the player is destroyed, he/she quickly respawns (comes back to life).

What To Be Wary Of

If you are going to let your kids enter the world of Minecraft there are a few things you need to be weary of.  The most important one is that it is addicting.  My kids will play for hours if I don’t monitor their time.  It’s a fast moving game where a day lasts only 20 minutes.  Your child will always want more time to finish building something or looking for something.

If you let your kids play together in one world, they will fight.  It doesn’t matter how well they get along in real life, in Minecraft there will be problems.  They will bicker about what direction to go in, who found the diamond sword first and who has more experience blocks.  The constant bickering has made me go crazy that I have shut the game off a few times.  I have since learned to take a deep breath and let them figure out their own problems like they do on the playground.

Some parents don’t want their children exposed to the violence in the game.  Parents should be able to judge if their child can handle the game or not.

Why I let my kids play

My boys are 8 and 5. I let them play Minecraft because it’s teaching them certain aspects of the real world.  It’s teaching them you need materials to build and is encouraging them to go find those materials.  It is expanding their creativity while they attempt at and then later succeed at building a more difficult creation.  It’s teaching them how to plan, organize, execute, succeed and sometimes fail all in one game.

I don’t think my kids would have any interest in building if it wasn’t for Minecraft.  They have many Lego sets that are sitting in their closet but they prefer Minecraft because there are no instructions.   They write their own instructions.

I read an article that suggested Minecraft is preparing today’s kids for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  With technology changing so quickly, there is no way for us know what skills will be sought after and maybe the millions of people playing Minecraft are on to something the rest of us don’t understand (yet).

About the author:

Anisa Tayab blogs at That Crazy Mom.

Social Media – Just Don’t Overdo It!

By Khaula Mazhar

Social Media Dos and Donts

Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Really depending on how you use it, social media can be a trustworthy tool to advance or enhance whatever it is you need to do. Or it can be an enormous time suck that results in turning you into a narcissistic monster that no one likes, but everyone likes to talk about.

Mr. Hyde is not exactly everybody’s favorite person. Don’t be a Mr. Hyde on social media. In fact don’t be a Mr. Hyde off of social media either.

How do otherwise normal people get duped into downing that obnoxious concoction that turns them into annoying health hazards? The same way charming Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader, Tom Riddle turned into Lord Voldemorte, adorable lion cub grows into hateful Uncle Scar etc.- they had too much “me” juice. As in it’s all about me, listen to me, look at me, it’s not fair to me, me is all me is concerned about.

Some do’s and don’ts to think about while cruising the social media road:

Do post pics of last night’s dinner that you made yourself! (or that mom made for you):
Yes we all make fun of each other for posting dinner pics, but we all really want to know what you had for dinner. It gives us ideas for what to cook tonight. And the next night.  And the next. Keep those dinner pics coming ladies!

Don’t post pics of a ridiculously expensive restaurant dinner that you spent half your life savings on.
That is too much “me” in a selfish way. There are actually people who even after working two jobs are still struggling to pay bills. Don’t be an inconsiderate show off.

Do post the recipe to that dinner you made from scratch.
We all really want that recipe.

Don’t post pics of yourself waiting in line to by the latest iPhone.
Especially when the last present you gave cost only $10. Seriously.

Do post the latest DIY project that you successfully completed.
We all need some inspiration. And we have so much stuff to recycle we could build a castle out of it.

Don’t post statuses complaining about how much housework you have.
Newsflash: we all do. No one wants to know how tired you are because you had soooo much laundry.

Do post pics of the mess your two-year-old made with the spaghetti dinner you cooked.
That is an all time classic.

Don’t post your very negative comment on someone else’s status!
I really feel this should be number one on everyone’s don’ts list. A status is something personal, it’s the right to freedom of speech. If you call someone a bigot just because they expressed their opinion or belief, what does that make you? Exactly!

Do scroll down and ignore if there is a status you don’t agree with and can’t make your point politely.
In fact of those 500 “friends” there will only be handful that you can be frank enough to talk openly with, only a handful who respect your opinion and only a handful that would actually care about your opinion.

Don’t ignore cute animal videos.
Spend a couple of minutes watching, liking and then sharing. Anything that makes you smile is not time wasted, it is time well invested. Share the investment of happiness brought on by furry, purry, fluffy innocent creatures.

Do turn off that infuriating auto update thingy on your phone.
No, we don’t want to know where you are and what you are doing every second of the day. Not the coffee you drank, the shirt you bought, the feeling annoyed at your boss/husband/brother/kid/mother-in-law emoticon etc. If you are really aggravated please phone up your bestie and have a good rant. If you had a nice cup of coffee thank your boss for the coffee break.

Don’t post graphic videos without a warning.
Not everyone has the ability to watch some random guy eating a squirming live squid dipped in soya sauce. Warning the viewer is the proper thing to do.

Do post petitions of issues that concern all of us, but don’t badger everyone to sign.
The post will let us know, that this is an issue we can do something about. Whoever feels they need to get involved will.

Do NOT post pics of your kids without making sure your privacy setting are on friends or family only.
Don’t post pics of them on public platforms that don’t allow you to change the settings.
Not everyone out there is your friend! You don’t know all of those people personally, you don’t know who they are “friends’ with. Your kids, your family, they are your treasures. You don’t put them on display for the world to ogle at. You keep your treasures safe.

Do categorize people into lists on places like Facebook.
Make sure the random friends of friends or people you don’t know that well are on the acquaintance list. You don’t need to put your personal stuff on display for everyone. Take care of your privacy! Can’t stress that enough!

Don’t accept every friend request on Facebook!   
Facebook is not a competition to see who can get the most friends.  Places that share an interesting hobby like instagram and flickr where you don’t post personal stuff are fine to have lots of friends. But not Facebook.

Don’t post pics of those duckfaces.
No. Just no.

Do post pics of beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Yes, just do it.

Don’t be mean and rude when commenting or posting an opinion.
Your words are a reflection of you, your upbringing. Don’t let people think you are a Mr. Hyde if you are not.

Do get involved with worthy discussion.
Don’t argue if you don’t know about something.
Unless you have a solid argument and knowledge  on the issue don’t get involved in arguments, you will end up looking silly. Don’t let the argument or discussion become an ugly brawl with insult hurling. Don’t be the one hurling insults, be the one to say “name calling just means you have no valid points and I am right. I put my case to rest.” Then stop. Walk away, never argue with idiots, they just drag you down and waste your time. Be above that.

Lastly always remember …

social media

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.

Back To School Back In The Day

By Muneezah Jawad

Back to school back in the day

It’s September! Parents everywhere are secretly rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of shipping their overactive kids back to school and reclaiming their mornings and late nights. Once the school year starts they barely have time to breathe.

I remember my school days were very different from what kids experience today. I grew up in Dubai. The cultural nuances as well as the arrival of a different era has made this next generation of kids look upon schooling with a very different attitude.

Back to school

In the 80’s there were two main staples that every household would buy. First we would buy our books and then was the book wrapping ceremony. I still remember sitting down with  my father and rolls of brown paper. Every text book and note book we got would be wrapped with crispy clean paper and tape. It was most therapeutic for some inexplicable reason. My job was to place a label ever so carefully in the right place. In my best writing I would write my full name.

Since we had uniforms there were few new clothes, but we did get shiny new shoes that we kept polished and made them last.

A rectangle pencil case with cartooned vinyl plastic lids and many compartments was filled very carefully with sharpened pencils and fountain pens. An oxford compass box, a metal lunch box, and a drinking thermos was place carefully into a back pack that was from the year before since we took great pains to keep it presentable. Then off we were for the first day of school. Our clothes neatly pressed, our hair tied back. We were terribly excited and filled with pride at our new treasures and revered them.

Today the routine in most households is to shop till you drop. Tops, bottoms, shoes, sweaters, stationary, files, folders you name it we have to have it. Stores like Wal-Mart and Staples are filled with confused parents holding an endless list in one hand and an excited child who is jumping like a jack rabbit ready to dart off in opposite direction. Trolleys are over flowing and so are the tears as children battle with parents for the newest fad item.

The first day of school is the same for everyone though, that excitement, seeing who’s in your class, the new teacher, where to sit etc. What is different is the respect and realization that one must take care of those new things. I myself have had to go out and buy new shoes and stationary within one month of school and see countless parents doing the same. Children don’t even receive their own textbooks. They share used books that are kept in class. I sometimes shudder at the condition of the books the odd time they are brought home.

Which brings me to a pet peeve? Where is the HOMEWORK? I mean I agree that we got too much of it, but here I see none. Until high school kids rarely bring home anything daily and whatever they do is at best 15 minutes long. I don’t know about you but I am a firm believer in homework. It disciplines you and involves the parent. The jump from primary school to high school is often as a result much harder as children simply have not been trained to handle a larger work load. However the pros and cons of homework is another article for another day.

Technology

My first computer was the Commodore 64 and it came with those giant floppy disks. The internet was that strange noisy dialup thing and face book was the actually title of a fiction novel. At present the trend is to do as much as possible online. From the use of smart boards to submitting assignments, it’s all on the net. In fact children are encouraged to bring their devices into class. The use of calculators in my case started in high school. We used to layout our work showing all methods and calculations. Each piece of work had to have our name, the date and an underlined title. We would be marked on these things. My daughter was taught to use the calculator for the simplest of things and I am continuously telling her to use her head to work things out. Handwriting, grammar, organization and neatness all have suffered simply because kids are being taught to rely of their devices. Cursive writing is a dying art, as is going to the library to do research. Information is available immediately thanks to the internet but this instant gratification leads to a lack of patience and the loss of  satisfaction of actually solving something for themselves.

After school

Life after school has also changed. I used to come home, do my homework, watch a few cartoons and then hang out playing whatever with my neighborhood friends outside. Here the majority are shipped from one afterschool activity to another, and then it’s off to get hooked onto the TV or the latest play station game. Even when friends meet, it’s usually over the latest TV show. Gone are the days of a good board game or hide and seek. The word ‘Bored’ is a frequently used one in their vocabulary and parents are being forced to play referee between the children and their devices.

While the new generation of children is no doubt smarter and brighter and faster, I do think they are missing out on the most important part of education which is being a child. Life is far too commercial and not personal enough. The ‘wonder years’ should be exactly that. A time to literally stop and smell the roses. To slow down and relish every moment that is their childhood. It’s a time for families to bond over dinner not squabble over the latest smart phone a teenager suddenly needs.

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the social media manager at MuslimMoms.ca.

How does your childhood compare with that of your offspring? Let us know how you feel. What you like and what you dislike about the system your child is in and why.

Ramadan and Beyond: Feeling Blessed and Happy

By: Elaf Selim

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I have a friend who is very pure at heart but she always struggles with many aspects in her life; feeling depressed and sometimes miserable. She wishes to feel peace and happiness. I was talking to her the other day about the happiness we feel every year in Ramadan and I realized that this month is a great opportunity for anyone who wishes to strengthen their gratitude muscles and train their eyes and hearts to see all the blessings that God gave us. This leads certainly to a peaceful and happy heart, something we all hope for.

Since you are reading this article, chances are that you live in more comfort than many people on the planet who have no access to electricity and the internet. You probably have a roof over your head and you probably know what you will eat tomorrow. Going through the day to day business of life, sometimes makes us forget how much we are blessed. I believe that no matter where you are in life and what your struggles are, you can ‘choose’ to see all of God’s blessings in your life. It’s a conscious choice that we can make in our hearts and ask God for strength, support and guidance as we train ourselves to be more content and happy with everything we have regardless of everything we don’t. So, even if your life is tough and full of hardship, you will probably find so many small gifts and blessings here and there to ease the pain and comfort you. And there is no better time than Ramadan to focus on this soulful growth.

So the question is: how can this beautiful state of mind and soul be achieved? The secret to be utterly grateful and happy is to open your heart to God’s help and strive to live in the moment, every single moment. Living in the moment will allow your heart to see and enjoy all the beauty around you. Seize the opportunity whenever you notice little things you love in your life to say ‘Thank you God’ in your heart. You can use Ramadan as a training phase to adopt a more content and happy heart. In Ramadan, our hearts are humble and open and this makes it the best time for adopting positive habits.

Here are some simple examples and you can create thousands more:

  1. When you wake up in the morning and see the sun, remember to thank God who created your eyes and the sun and gifted you the beautiful view of sunrise. Don’t just say it, but imagine yourself without the blessing of eyesight and feel the gratitude deep within your heart.
  2. When you dress your kids for school, remember to take a second and look into their eyes. Imagine your life without them for a moment and thank God for the blessing of having your children filling your life, a gift that God gave you so you may experiences,  joys and happiness.
  3. When you see your parents, take a moment to be happy and remember to thank God deep inside your heart for having them in your life. It’s a major blessing.
  4. When you speak with your best friend, thank God that you have someone to talk to. Loneliness is painful and many people are not so fortunate.

The list goes on and on: the wind on your cheeks, the clean air you breathe, the pure water you drink, the comfort of your home, all the good food you have, each piece of clothing you wear … etc. You will never run out of beautiful things to feel grateful for. It’s a training process but it’s worth it and Allah (swt) has promised to give us more and more if we thank Him. The key is to not to take anything for granted in life and not to fall into the trap of spiral thinking about problems and hardships. Yes, we need to think about them in order to solve them but they should not consume every inch of our mental space. Be steadfast in prayer, they helps a lot. When you think of something painful, consciously remind yourself of something else beautiful in your life; you will never fail to find one. This shift in thought pattern needs practice and patience and dua’a. Ask Allah (swt) for guidance and help so you may reach this beautiful state of happiness and comfort of the heart. Believe me, it is very possible for all of us, and you may be surprised to notice that most of the happy people on this earth own far much less possessions or comforts compared to you. So in summary, I and my friend will be challenging ourselves to count our blessings every day in Ramadan so this may be a habit of our hearts.

What are you thankful for today?

About the Author:

Elaf Selim is a Software Engineer, a Jewelry designer, a blogger and a Mom. She is the owner of SkiesAndSparkles.com, a handmade artisan jewelry shop. She loves photography, writing, historical architectures and nature in all forms.

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.