Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Monthly Archives: May 2009

Backbiting – Majid’s Story

short story

Short Story – Backbiting.ppt (DOWNLOAD)

It’s a week for PowerPoint presentations, I think! When I received news that a portion of my pathology syllabus for next month’s final exam had been cut off and added to the following semester’s load, the unexpected reprieve was the perfect reason to head to the computer. Then, happy in the thought that I had the leisure of time to do what I wanted to, I decided to let some creativity loose and make something out of it. Few people know how much I enjoy making short PowerPoint-type presentations. Designing an eye-catching template and working on the content is great fun in itself because you keep imagining how the finished product’s going to look like.

The person who encouraged me to use this creative tool for the purpose of furthering the Islamic cause was none other than my teacher and mentor at the Islamic study circle I visit every Saturday, Alhamdolillah. She pointed out the impact of short, beautifully designed messages sent out through emails or posted on websites. Once I discovered the amazing world of colors, wallpapers, fonts, animations, pictures – and of course ‘clipart’ – it was like a fresh breath of air after the rather un-creative world of medical books. See, medicine is amazing in its own way but the artisitc flair inside every person needs to flex its muscle every once in a while to maintain a healthy balance.

I once saw a very cute presentation that was innovative in the way that it was more like an animated comic. I decided to something like it and thus, on Friday, I made this presentation, Alhamdolillah. I’m eager to make more of them but for now, I must return to my final exam preparation and put off all the other ideas for the summer break InshAllah! That reminds me, I must also tend to my washed laundry and clean up the mess about my room… right, I should leave now.

Wassalaam!

My dear parents…

Muslim lady

Parents.ppt (Download)

Here’s a short presentation that I put together today! Alhamdolillah, it taught me a lot… which goes to show how excellent such activities can be for reinforcing concepts and reminding oneself! I hope you, too, derive much benefit from it, InshAllah!

Mother Debunks “Mother’s Day” Drama

Once upon a time… more specifically: Sunday, 10th May 2009, Parents’ bedroom, 8:30 am.

Ameera: So when is Mother’s Day? Is it tomorrow?
Amma: Nahi , I think it’s the eleventh…

Suddenly, it’s time for a recap of the headline news on TV…

News anchorperson: … and Mother’s Day is being celebrated across the world today…

Ameera: Oh, so it’s today… so what would you like to do?
Amma: Hmph, what nonsense!
Ameera: *hehe* Would a “mother” really say that today?
Amma: Yes, tell her ‘We love you!’ just one day and forget all about her the rest of the year, right?
Ameera: Hmm… ok… all right, let’s perform a “tickling operation” on you!!!
Amma: That’s what you think!!!

*tickle*  *wrestle*  *tickle*

The End.

Dear Amma...

It’s raining Mangoes!

Summer is heating up,  despite all the talk about the sun being puzzlingly cooler than usual. While the monsoon won’t be here for another month or so, it’s the time of the year, especially in Pakistan, when several fruits make their appearance on the scene. The Mango trees are revving up for the season and already, we’ve got unripe mangoes, which are called “kairi” or “kairiyaan” (plural) in Urdu, that are used to prepare a sweet ‘n sour dessert. Having lived in Saudi Arabia all my childhood with only occasional visits to Pakistan, the hype and hoopla surrounding this fruit was something I learned while I was probably still a toddler. It’s not an exaggeration, really! I’ve got picture of me as a toddler next to a metal bucket full of mangoes, and mango pulp on my face and clothes – the madness!

The mango holds a very central position – scratch that – a very royal rank in South Asia, being irrefutably referred to as the “King of Fruits”. Now, while I dispute that for my own reasons, I wouldn’t go and announce that to a group of ‘mango mad’ South Asians for fear of a good berating in return. As soon as mangoes hit the market, they will be  all that you’ll see, hear and possibly eat for dessert (after lunch and dinner) for a couple of months. There are innumerable varieties, they follow each other as the season progresses and never will you find people passing up the latest variety because they’ve “had enough mango” – it’s just not possible!

The older generations, especially those like my father who spent their childhood years running about in the mango farms in India, reminisce about all the different natural (‘tukhmi’ mangoes) varities they had and how they’d have huge mango festivals. On the other hand we, who have been raised in the cities with sparse exposure to village life,  can relate more to mango dices, milkshakes, curries (yes, curries!), pickles, juices, sorbets, souffles and of course – ice creams! That’s really how versatile mangoes are – you could keep coming up with ways to have them and in the end, they’d still taste yummy even if you had they as they are.

Mangoes can make people react in all sorts of ways, as I mentioned earlier. Criticise the status of the mango as the “King of Fruits” and you’re in for a bashing. The politiking that goes on during a mango session after meals is also very interesting. Some people meticulously prepare their plate or bowl of mango to their taste and if you happen to nick a teensy bit, be ready to face the consequences. Also, if one person has prepared a plate of sliced mangoes and another person’s interested in having one or two, it’s not a ‘gift’ most of the time… it’s a deal! Yes, so if I take two slices from my sister’s plate, it need not be said that when I slice up my own mango, she has a rightful share in mine. While this might seem quite obvious, the live scene will put it into perspective and show just how mango makes some peoples’ behavior go ga-ga.

And of course, there are the amiable mango parties where there are baskets and buckets full of mangoes soaking away in ice and water, plentiful in number so that no-one’s in a hurry and a jolly mood prevails. A very popular poem by an Urdu poet, Akbar Illabadi, is much quoted on such occassions (and in my father’s case, after every meal)…

“Aisay zaroor hoan jinnhain rakh kar kha sakoon
Pukhta agar ho bees tou das khaam bhaijiyyay”

The poet is writing to his friend in another city to send him some mangoes and says,

“Do send some which I can save for later
If you send ten ripe ones then ten unripe ones please!”

Now, for a very unfitting end to this discussion but one, which I am sure, many Non-South Asians or those South Asians who were raised abroad would relate to. Mangoes are certainly a blessing from Allah(swt), a wonderous delight and beautifully versatile. However, to name a fruit the “King of Fruits” pushes it a little, especially to a person like me who loves so many fruits. It’s safe to say that mangoes, like all fruits, hold a special honor in the hearts of South Asians who feel (and rightly so) that they have the best varieities in the world. So, as a Pakistani, I’m all for the next mango party but do get me a basket full of watermelons, figs, grapes, bananas, peaches, plums and cherries from my home town in Saudi Arabia and that‘s when I’ll go slightly ga-ga!

Dude, is that a Sunnah?

Have you ever got that feeling when you wished you could really cleanse your life of all those bad habits that you’ve developed and bring it as close as possible to the Prophet(saw)’s Sunnah? It so happens that whenever my Iman takes a dip for a period of time and (Alhamdolillah) grows stronger again, I begin analyzing the reasons for that dip. Anyone who’s tasted a period when their conviction was really strong would know how bad Iman dips are! And so, the analysis on the cause of the dip. One of the reasons I almost always come up with, as I mentioned earlier, are the numerous habits of routine and traits of personality we’ve come to live with, that have no real connection to the Sunnah and in fact are in contradiction to it.

Here’s an example: how many Muslims have you met and noticed that when they are served beverages by a host, they always leave a bit of the drink in the bottom of the glass? If someone (a friend or older person) casually points out that they haven’t finished their drink, the usual answer is, “No, No… I don’t want to appear like a very hungry person.” In fact, this practice is considered a very important part of the social etiquette followed in many households, where the elders explicitly instruct the children to not drink up all of what they are served… such that you will see even a five-year old towing the line perfectly.

I went out to eat with some friends recently and, as we were leaving, one of our group advised another to clean up her desert bowl. The girl responded with, “I wouldn’t want to appear that hungry!” It set me thinking… as Muslims, our actions reflect upon our beliefs and to a non-Muslim or impressionable youngster it would seem as if Muslims, and thereby Islam, regards hunger as an embarrassment. Before you cast that off as an exaggeration, just notice how we behave in the following situation…

Sara and her mother were visiting some friends. The host’s wife was preparing dinner for them but since it was running a little late, she apologized and said, “I’m sorry for the delay, the stove’s developed some problem today. Sara, you must be hungry, would you like some fruit before dinner?” Sara’s tummy growled in hunger but she firmly shook her head and said, “Oh no Aunty! I’m really quite fine, I had a really heavy lunch today!”

I’ve been in Sara’s place a great number of times and now realize what a lie that was, answering what I answered. But see, that’s the truth… our notions of social etiquette and what’s right and wrong can go so twisted and off the path of Islam that owning up to feeling hungry is a big no-no and in fact, we would go to the extent of lying to – ironically – save face!

When we read the Seerah of the Prophet(saw), it becomes clear that hunger was never a thing to be frowned upon. I can recall one or two occasions where the Prophet(saw) and his companions admitted they were hungry and even requested a little food from others, to satisfy the pangs of hunger.

Safiyya, the Prophet’s wife, said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, came one day and asked, ‘O Daughter of Huyay, do you have anything, for I am hungry.’ I said, ‘No by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, save two measures of flour.’ ‘Cook it!’ he said. I put it in the pot, cooked it, then said, ‘It is cooked O Messenger of Allah!’ He said, ‘Do you know if there is anything in the fat container of the daughter of Abū bakr?’ I said, ‘I know not O Messenger of Allah!’ He went himself to her house and said, ‘Anything in your fat container O daughter of Abū Bakr?’ ‘Nothing but a little,’ she said. He brought it back, squeezed it into the pot until I saw something coming out. He put his hand [on it] saying, ‘In the Name of Allah, invite your sisters for I know they feel as I do!’ I invited them and we ate until satiated. Then Abū Bakr came and entered, then ‘Umar came and entered, then a man came. They all ate to satiety and some still remained. (Majma’ al-Zawa’id)

In fact, I just remembered the time when the Prophet(saw), on the occassion of one of his marriages, said something very important.

In the hadith narrated by Asmaa’ bint Yazid ibn As-Sakan who said: “I beautified Ayesha for Allah’s Messenger, then called him to come to see her unveiled. He came, sat next to her, and brought a large cup of milk from which he drank. Then, he offered it to Ayesha, but she lowered her head and felt shy. I scolded her and said to her: “Take from the hand of the Prophet.” She then took it and drank some. Then, the Prophet said to her, “Give some to your companion.” At that point, I said: “O Messenger of Allah, rather take it yourself and drink, and then give it to me from your hand.” He took it, drank some, and then offered it to me. I sat down and put it on my kness. Then, I began rotating it and following it with my lips in order that I might hit the spot from which the Prophet had drunk. Then, the Prophet said about some women who were there with me: “Give them some.” But, they said: “We don’t want it.” (ie. we are not hungry). The Prophet said: “Do not combine hunger and fibbing!” (Ahmad and al-Humaidi)

 So now, you’re wondering what a little thing like that has to do with weakening of Iman? The truth is, all these numerous tidbits add up to make a really un-Islamic picture of our routines and personalities. Really, if our actions and words do not reflect our faith, what must be the reality of such a faith even if one should claim it is “very strong”? Both, the big picture and the little details matter in the end, to make a huge difference.

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