Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Tag Archives: Children

Raising Scholars of Tomorrow

I don’t exactly remember when I came across his video first on YouTube but when I happened to see it after a long while again this Thursday night, it shook me. Really, I cannot describe with adequate words how I felt listening to him, watching him. He must be hardly eight in the video, young Hassan bin Abdullah Al Awadh, but his voice moves the heart.

So there I was at 1 am listening to him over and over and over again. Then I downloaded the audio into my iPod and listened to him before bed, the next morning, during my evening walk, when I got angry over something, on my way to back from college… you get the picture. By now, I’m sure I’ve gone on enough of a ramble to really stretch your patience.

(Translation of the recited verses available here:

Who’s young Hassan then? A young boy who’s recited the initial verses of Surah Ya Seen in a video on YouTube, son of an Imam of a masjid in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When they first put his video on YouTube, I don’t think they had an idea how would much people would love it… that it would trigger off a sharing spree. People ask if he has a CD out. The more inquisitive minds want to know who he is. Where does he live? Who taught him?

The Quran is not an ordinary book, it is the Word of Allah(swt) and when recited, especially by a Qari with an exquisite voice, it is difficult to stay dry-eyed. The eyes automatically well up with tears, a fluttery sensation fills the heart and you know it is not something any man could put forward. If you can understand Arabic to any extent, it carries massive weight and immediately affects you, feeling as if there’s no-one else around… just you and your Lord. The words have direct impact, anger and sadness subsides, leaving an intense motivation to get up, make something of yourself and please Allah(swt) the way he wants you to!

Watching and listening to Hassan made me wonder about so many things. The powerful words of Surah Ya Seen were themselves enough to prompt self analysis. However, it also made me wonder about the reciter himself, whom Allah(swt) has blessed with such a beautiful voice. It is evident that he is in the constant company of the best reciters, who’ve taught him so well MashAllah. I also thought about the kind of environment he must have at home that he’s reciting with all the intricate rules of Tajweed at an age so tender. His mother, what an amazing woman she must be to have raised such a sweet child, MashAllah! What lessons did she teach him, setting the solid foundation for a soul that seeks to purify itself? Really, the beautiful tones in which this child recites indicates all these things about his life – his inner self literally shines through… that’s how it is with reciting the Quran with a sincere heart.

I also wondered about his future. I hope and pray he becomes a scholar of Islam through the magnificent talents that he has, that Allah(swt) has made known to us about him. We need these young children to grow up in Islam, nurtured by sincere and upright Muslim families, to become the leaders of tomorrow. Confident in their faith, trusting in Allah(swt), drawing closer to Him through His Words… that is the process of purification that produces strong believers.

Hassan has recited other portions of the Quran and a small handful of videos of him during a visit to Bosnia in 2007 show him to be about twelve or thirteen years old. His voice has matured slightly with age, lowering in pitch, but of course that does not reduce the beauty of the recitation in any way. In fact, it made me so happy to know he’s reciting and will possibly come forward as a well known Qari as he grows older InshAllah. Based on his videos, he seems like a modest young boy, nonetheless confident… a mark of a person well grounded in faith, may Allah add strength to it! Only those with strong faith can remain modest and shy while so much attention is turned towards him but the Shaitan is always at play and thus, I pray for Hassan sincerely.

I’ve learned so much from Hassan just listening to him recite those verses full of meaning. I’ve also learned about the importance of giving children the right upbringing and the massive benefits of doing that. Hassan proves you can become very knowledgeable in the Quran even at a young age. Very frankly, if I ever have a son, I’d be greatly blessed in so many ways if I could teach him, guide him, inspire him to be like the cute little boy who moved my heart with his sweet voice. Alhumdolillah, I have Hassan’s example right before me to inspire and motivate my own self for something so crucial and so rewarding.


5-day Crash Course in Homemaking!

This Wednesday morning, I enrolled in a 5-day crash course in a simplified form of Homemaking. You’re probably wondering who on Earth would organize such a course? And why would anyone want a “crash” course in this anyway? On second thought though, I suppose girls who have no skills in the kitchen or perhaps in other areas of the home and who are getting married very soon would probably want something to prepare them for what comes after. That’s still not a very good argument but well, let’s move on with our actual story.

So I did end up taking this course, in my own home. You see, my mother had to travel to another city for five days to attend my cousin’s wedding. It was the first time ever my mother had left us three sisters at home and travelled alone out of the city for this long. She prepared some food in advance, a few very basic instructions were passed on regarding the general keep of the apartment. Wednesday morning, before we drove to the airport, I quickly made breakfast for her the way she liked it, with a well-set dining table and everything. On the way back from the airport with Abba (my father), it felt a little strange not having her with us when we were so used to being around her all the time.

As the day went by, even as I was studying for my ongoing exams, I realized how the role Amma had played was sort of passing on to me, being the eldest daughter. Suddenly, my mind wasn’t occupied with studying alone – it was also wondering, “What should we have for dinner?” or “what time should I ask my sister to start making the chappatis?” My eyes would turn towards the wall clock and I’d wonder when Abba would like to have his tea or if he’d like his dinner before Ishaa prayer? There was also a subconscious desire to keep the house exactly as Amma liked it, spick and span without stuff lying around. What Amma had to remind us to do on usual days, we were easily doing without even realizing it ourselves. I suppose you’re cracking up, wondering if this is going to be the highlight of the so-called crash course on homemaking? Laugh no more, the real stuff starts here.

The next day, I think some weird spirit of “homemaking” took over me and I wanted to cook something proper for my family. Out came the chicken from the freezer and Yoghurt Chicken, which is always well received, was planned. With my Community Medicine textbook beside the stove, I started stir-frying the onions and made the curry. Soon, I was proudly looking down into a ready chicken curry… only, it wasn’t Yoghurt Chicken but Chicken Quorma. I had made a very silly mistake: added the yoghurt very, very early and killed it in the heat of the pot. You see, the yoghurt has to be added right before serving, as I recalled later, or you’ll have Quorma… which was what I had.

Overseeing the work of the maid, trying to answer her questions about what I’d like to get done around the house was another part of this crash course. I’d always wondered how I’d be able to interact with a maid I’d employ in my own house and now, I was getting a preview. From being the “Baji’s daughter”, I was a sort of “Baji” myself now and I’m surprised how I did not even notice I’d slipped into more of a directive mode unlike my previous role as a bystander while Amma did the directing.

My sisters put in a lot of effort too… laying the table, clearing up, washing up afterwards were chores they managed among themselves so I could study more. I also noticed how they were maintaining order in their own spheres by cleaning up after themselves or making the beds quickly in the morning. The clockwork precision with which the apartment seemed to be running was a little unnerving really… I hadn’t imagined things would run this smoothly but Alhamdolillah!

The Friday afternoon meal is really important in my family so when I got back from my exam, I had already known what I was going to cook, for which I had been making plans even while in the examination hall (during short breaks, of course!). I got home, changed and hurried in to the kitchen to prepare all the veggies for my Chinese Chicken-fried rice. A cousin, also a medical student, was going to drop by and I decided to make brownies too while trying to ensure the rice were cooked to just the right degree. It was… exhilarating in a way, to be able to plan and do all that on my own. Yes, the very thought that I was doing it because I was the one making the decisions was a very different feeling – I’d never played such a role before. The rice turned out great Alhamdolillah, tasting just like my mother’s and the brownies were okay, being baked in a rush. In the evening, I planned dinner again, which was beef-and-tomato grilled sandwiches with mango milkshake.

One aspect I haven’t mentioned yet is how things went with our father. Lately, I’d been feeling that I didn’t talk much with my father and he’d also withdrawn into his own interests, speaking less often and not like it used to be when we were younger. I had actually worried about how I’d interact with Abba while Amma was away, what I’d talk about. Here was another “wow” Alhamdolillah, right from the time we were driving back from the airport, conversation with Abba got flowing and these last couple of days have made it seem like the old times again! Abba and us sisters… we talked, laughed and enjoyed each others company, especially at meal times. I think we got the chance to interact directly with him, instead of going through Amma (as I’d subconsciously begun to do sometimes). Abba also kept checking with me about any things needed at home, what to get from the market and, as strange as that felt earlier (because he asked my mother these type of questions of course), I got used to it later on. I really needed this kind of time with Abba, I realized and so did he, with the three of us. Secretly, I’ve also felt my father’s treating me more like a responsible adult now and I’d like to think it’s because he’s found that, contrary to my usual self, I have organized and taken things like a mature person. Okay, that sounds like a Disney-ish movie scene but it’s sort of true!

Today was the most hectic day so far. I prepared breakfast and laid it out, organized the kitchen and especially the refrigerator, went out for some chores with Abba and asked Abba to buy certain vegeatables I’d noticed we were running short of. When I got back home at noon, I had already planned what would be cooked for lunch – rice to go with the left-over curry and possibly some vegetable dish on the side. I had also noticed we had a lot of milk in the refrigerator and, not wanting it to spoil, I decided to make Ras Malai, a traditional dessert I’d only made once before, a long time ago and not very well at that. However, this spirit of being temporarily in charge of the home had fired up my confidence and I got to it. Within half an hour, the dessert was almost done and Alhamdolillah, it felt and tasted EXACTLY the way my mother made it. Feeling wonderful (really, where were the endorphins coming from?) I sent off some to a neighbor, some for the maid, stored away some for my mother and have reserved the remaining for dinner tonight. Dinner… yes, I think I need to get to that after maghrib.

A very important point here, which really is the centrepoint of this whole post, is that today, with all the running around and tasks to get done, I realized how I was aching in a number of places and my feet were tired with all the running around. Most of all, my head was a little woozy with the thought machinery being exhausted by a succession of tasks… I had a long afternoon nap. I wondered how my mother did this every single day? I used to think she, being a stay-at-home mother with a maid coming to clean up, did not have it very tough. I even used to brush aside Amma’s questions of “What shall I cook for lunch? Will rice do? And what about dinner?” telling her to make whatever she felt like. I had wondered to myself, “how hard can it be? There’s a long list of possible dishes she could make for dinner… it’s all about picking one.” I eat my words today, it’s not as simple as that when you’ve got ten thousand other things to plan, such as picking my sister from tuitions, running errands outside home and at the same time, keeping in mind the available veggies and meat in stock from which to start cooking.

I really appreciate my mother’s role in the house. She’s set it in perfect working condition, we’re just “managing” her system. The cupboards are clean, organized and well stocked… the linens and bedding are in their right places… I can now really, really understand the importance and the challenges of keeping a good home in order, not for a day or a month, but all your life.

Today, I gushingly told her over the phone how everything’s fine and about my cooking being just like hers. I wondered, though, whether she would like knowing the home was working fine in her absence, as if she wasn’t needed but see, as I said, us siblings are just “managers” in her home. I think she did like it because it pleased her to know that her girls were doing a good job and passing this crash course would give an indication of what we could be like in their own future homes. That’s what is every mother’s secret (and often declared) desire for her daughters. And you know what, having learned so much from this experience and also realized that I’m not as hopeless a home-manager as I thought I’d be, I can say that I agree with her.

There’s the Maghrib adhaan… got to go off and prepare dinner afterwards. We’re having Ras Malai for dessert… and the best part is, I’d love to see what Amma thinks of it when she tastes the portion I’ve set aside for her.

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!

The Palestinian Holocaust

A Palestinian child cries during the funeral for Ali al-Dahdoh in Gaza

The last two weeks have witnessed a great massacre on the face of this Earth. It’s significance is judged not by statistics or the area over which it is occuring but by the fact that it is being carried out by a state that neither cares for world opinion nor is under any sort of real, tangible pressure to halt its unabashed genocide. It’s 2009 and we’re talking of the Israeli Army vs. Palestinian people.

Orthodox Jews look towards Gaza as the Israeli Army pounds the densely-populated land incessantly

It’s been called Operation “Cast Lead” – who cares what that means? They say to the world that it’s because Hamas, the political party-cum-Palestinian patriots, have been violating a ceasefire by launching rockets into Israel. I’m not going to go into details because you can read up on the debate on who fired first – Israel or Hamas.  The important thing is that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, despite Israel’s “temporary” withdrawal from the area a while ago, are being punished for existing. They were surrounded, walled off, prevented from entering or leaving freely. Food and all other basic amenities of life, let alone luxuries, became scarce, prices shot up and living became unbearable. It was then that we saw Israel unleash the worst on the defenseless men, women and children.

Norwegian doctors, whom you cannot accuse of being biased or “Anti-Semitic” are now saying they strongly suspect, from the injuries they tended to in Gaza, that Israel is taking the opportunity to “test” new weapons in Gaza. White phosphorus is a terrible toxin that burns and kills you in all sorts of ways… guess who’s using it in their bombs?

A Palestinian man carries his wounded child to the treatment room of Kamal Adwan hospital following an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahiya

If that’s not enough, there’s the case of shelling a UN school where innocent civillians were taking shelter. Humans – real, living, breathing human souls – died… mostly women and children. Later, it was discovered that a house which has been designated by the Israeli Army as a “safe house” for people to take refuge in, was itself shelled by the Israelis. In another incident, a man lost his wife and all of his children in an attack. It goes on and on.

Experts in War Crimes

A few days ago, I switched on Sky News at 7 am local time to see a UN Security Council in session, ready to vote on a draft resolution calling for “ceasefire” in the conflict-ridden region. While it was passed by a vote of 14-0, the US abstained from voting. I forgot about it – it wasn’t going to make a difference anyway and it didn’t – but today, a news item caught my attention. I had not known, as I entually found out in the news item, that the resolution had been drafted with the help of the US. So what made the US turn about at the eleventh hour and stun even the Brits and the French? A call made by Ehud Olmert to Bush while Bush was busy delivering a speech in Philadelphia. The PM of a country smaller than an American state was able to make Bush leave, during the speech, to talk to him. The end result? Condoleeza Rice was forced to make a shame-faced turnabout and abstain from the vote because the Israelis did not allow it. What greater proof for the tight control that Jewish lobbyists and who-knows-what Zionist organizations have on “the most powerful country” in the world? Does this not make the common American worry about the hijacking of his country by a group of madmen who value only Jewish blood?

I am not free from blame. As an integral member of the Muslim Ummah (nation, people), it is my responsbility to play my part and stand up for truth and justice in my own capacity. Likewise, the Muslim leaders have a huge responsibility – they will be questioned by Allah about what they did when the women and children were pleading and praying for help, for someone to rescue them from oppression. What good is our military might if we cannot use it as a deterrence effective to stop a tiny state from terrorising and murdering innocents? The world watches on and we too watch on. In this open court where everything lies clearly before us all, the murderer is once again going to get away scott free while the victim is sentenced to death.

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