Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Tag Archives: Muslim

Wake up, it’s the weekend!

It’s a Sunday tomorrow and while, for most families, weekends are about sleeping-in, in our house, we usually do the exact opposite: we’re up and about at sunrise. Now, what might a family do on a weekend morning that makes them readily give up the comfort of their beds? A morning walk, followed by a desi-style breakfast at an hour when the city is serene and peaceful.

It’s really part of those simple joys of life I treasure… and for that, I’m so grateful I’ve got a father who pushes his kids into such healthy activities. Every once in a while, usually before going to bed, we decide our morning plan and it goes like this: Abba wakes us for Fajr, announces we must be ready to roll by the time he’s back from the masjid (twenty to thirty minutes). Following that announcement, we offer our prayers and quickly changing into casual dress and joggers. Of course, there’s the occasional kid (usually Abeer, the “cookie-monster“) who puts up the “I don’t want to go, I want to sleep/I’ve had a long week/I have exams soon!”  excuse but she’s soon won over. Sometimes, my mother’s the one most reluctant to leave but we all know she’s the happiest one in the car (no need to worry about breakfast!). 🙂

So by the time Abba’s back and the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon, we’ve got our plastic plates, cups, trays, water-cooler etc. all ready and it’s into the car. I always wonder what the security guards at our apartment gates wonder – it’s not a usual thing in Karachi for family to just go off on a trip at sunrise! But really, when there’s a fresh walk to look forward too, then breakfast in the car, who thinks twice about looking odd? 🙂

The stylish gazebo in the center of the park

There’s a nice park in our area of the city and it’s usually well maintained. In the spring, they have an annual flower show too, plus a bonsai garden to admire, lots of landscaping and greenery… and of course, a walking track! It’s really interesting to see the different kinds of people who are regulars at the park: businessmen and other elite, in groups, discussing politics or the market trends; ladies, young and old, some with ipods plugged in, others simply carrying rosary beads and doing dhikr; sometimes families with little children, enjoying a refreshing walk or playing on the swings; young men exercising or jogging several laps around the park.

Everything looks and feels so fresh that it’s hard not to feel completely rejuvenated after the monotonous routine of the preceding week. Plus, there’s that precious time with my family that I know I’ll look back at and miss terribly. Walking together, all sorts of crazy topics come up and of course, there’s always the charm of annoying, and being annoyed by, your sisters! A nudge here, a shove there, laughter, playful banter, teasing… there’s no substitute for it. 🙂 And sometimes, during moments of silence, I do wonder how long I have this awesome chance to stay with them, us being all together like this? You forget time waits for no one and this will definitely come to a close one day, to move on a new place, a new life, changing scenery. Of course, Insha’Allah, that will have its own joys and wonders but what I have now, I must not forget to cherish it while it is still here. 🙂

Okay, enough with the emotion! So after two laps, we’re usually looking in the direction of the gates. But Abba likes to do a few stretches before we leave so I usually find a few quiet moments to myself on a park bench while my sisters go silly over the see-saws. Yeah, you’re wondering why I don’t go over to the see-saws myself! Well, I don’t think it would be quite acceptable for a twenty-four-year-old to be seen toppling over a see-saw… no, thank you. 🙂 Heheh.

Back in the car, there’s a commotion over where to go. The what to eat part is known to all – that’s the reason we all got out of our beds in the first place! A desi style breakfast of crispy parathas, spicy omelette, sooji ka halwa (a semolina dessert) and of course – doodh patti (traditional, strong tea). And the best place to find all of this is the typical road-side dhaaba – a very humble outdoor eatery that usually caters to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The food is simple, low-cost (in keeping with the customers) and very delicious, especially if you know where to go! What they lack in fine dining-ware is more than made up by the crispy deliciousness of their parathas, especially when had with curry or the halwa… and definitely when dunked in the piping hot tea!

We have ours in the car, on our laps, with protective newspapers and trays underneath. Munching away happily while the birds twitter around outside, is such an awesome feeling, Alhumdulillah. It’s hardly eight in the morning and we’re having a mouth-watering breakfast to jump-start the day. Soon, the cups have been drained (six in all – my father always has two!), the leftover parathas wrapped up in newspaper, the bill paid (costs as much as a KFC burger deal – for one person!) and it’s back to home.

Honestly, I’ve seen these breakfast plans do wonders for my family. Instead of sleeping after Fajr and waking up to a boring Sunday, we get a chance to get out and have fun together, even before the sun has begun to climb up the sky. That time we spend together, catching up, swapping stories and then eating together in the car, is worth missing out on an hour or two of sleep any Sunday! And I wonder about families that grow apart over the years, people hardly talking to each other, or not knowing what to do together, they would benefit so much from such simple activities. You don’t need to throw away lots of money on a club membership. You don’t need to somehow grab scraps of time to do something altogether. Rather, if you’re really motivated, you can find joy in the simplest of moments… go grab them while you can!

Note: I’ve got final exams starting next week but I’ll try to keep writing whenever I can, Insha’Allah. It’s all part of wanting to not miss out on relaxing activities like writing and sharing thoughts, as they come to mind. Plus, my sister thinks my blog is too ‘boring’… heh, which doesn’t bother me but yeah, writing more frequently will make sure people get to hear about all sorts of things – deep thought as well as light-hearted musings. Life is too short and time too precious to be wasted so make a dua for me and see you later, Insha’Allah.

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Remembering to Thank Him

It hit me without any danger signs. Suddenly, the world was beginning to spin before my eyes and all I could do was grab my head in my hands and lean forwards over my desk. What was happening? I wondered in worry. True, I hadn’t had breakfast yet, it was only 7:30 am but I really wasn’t that hungry either. However, I remembered the time I’d once gone off to college with very little breakfast and had fainted at midday. No need to take chances with that, especially when I know I’ve been cutting back on calories these days.

I headed off to the kitchen and quickly made myself a fruit salad of bananas and melons (with some spice and instant orange juice powder for flavoring). Within ten minutes, I was done with my delicious breakfast and my sugar levels were well on the way up towards normal again, Alhumdolillah. I glanced at my empty bowl and it made me realize how blessed I was to be able to satisfy my hunger like that. Around the world, there are millions who do not have such access to food. They do not know where their next meal is going to come from, or if they’ll have to go hungry that time. And here I was, done within ten minutes, with one simple trip to the kitchen!

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allâh, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, a disbeliever.”

(Qur’an 14:34)

No wonder then that we need to feel and express gratitude for all these blessings of Allah(swt) upon us. Isn’t it understandable that on the Day of Judgement, when each human being that was ever created will be present on one flat plain, the one who didn’t have food would be in stark contrast to the one who had it in plenty? Wouldn’t that justify the question, “Well, you had the finest of meals to eat – did you thank Allah for it? Did you help feed this other person, who didn’t have what you had?” Of course we’ll be questioned about it!

Every single, tiny blessing will be called to account. Did you thank Allah(swt)? Did you use it in the right manner? Did you use it to come closer to Allah(swt)? I wrote this is a reminder, foremost for myself and also for anyone who might benefit from it Insha’Allah. My hunger has been satiated and I feel energized again… it’s so easy to forget to be grateful when you’ve got what you wanted. So before I forget, Alhumdolillah al-ladhee at’amana wa saqaanaa wa ja’alanaa min al-Muslimeen!

Translation: All praise is due to Allah who gave us food and drink and who made us Muslims.

No, My Hijab Isn’t Glued On

I’ve been a Hijabi for a couple of years now, Alhamdulillah. When I think back to my first attempts to take the head-c0ver in an environment where it was something just not done anymore, it was a time of great excitement for me. I was passionate about covering up and, looking at myself in the mirror, I’d feel an Iman-rush that I was doing it exclusively for Allah(swt), even if people didn’t approve.

Fastforward to the present where the Hijab has now become something so inherently part of me that I’ve almost begun to take it for granted. When the doorbell rings or when someone visits, I instinctively reach for my dupatta to drape it over myself before a Non-Mahrum walks in. The Hijab extends to male cousins as well so I cover up in pretty much all family occassions like parties and weddings. Although my Hijab is basically about covering my head and wearing full-sleeved dresses, not a separate coat or abaya, it’s still pretty distinct because in public, I’m not without it (Alhamdulillah).

Even after all this time, when I’ve also gotten used to the Hjiab, there are occasions which bring some Hijab-specific thoughts to mind. Lately, it’s been about dressing up and beautifying myself. Many people automatically assume that if you’re a Hijabi in public, you’re always like that, even when you’re at home or, ridiculously enough, when you go to sleep at night! Someone asked my sister, also a Hijabi, “So are you like this even when you’re just with your sisters?”  Where do these ideas come from?

I’ve had such experiences of my own too. It’s as if Non-Mahrams, who’ve always seen me covered since I started the Hijab, and even many women think that once you start taking a head-cover, you just glue it on! It’s like the end of all your feminine desires to dress well, wear trendy clothes, style your hair, apply make up and so on. Maybe that’s part of the reason some girls are reluctant to take the Hijab – they see it as symbolizing the demise of their feminine side and forever living life like a nun!

How can that possibly be? The Hijab only magnifies the joy of dressing up and the purpose of beautifying yourself. Only a Hijabi can truly appreciate why Allah(swt) laid down the principle of revealing your beauty only to Mahrams. It’s not a free-for-all show anymore, where I become a show-piece, a star attraction for all the men in the world to feast their eyes on. In fact, that beauty now becomes something even more precious and exclusive to only those people with whom I am secure and safe… my Mahrams. I don’t have to worry about lewd stares that make me conscious of my hair rippling in the wind or that my arms are on open display to strange men.

Coming to another point… that of dressing up at home or around Mahrams. This is something that draws another kind of interest from people. So I like jewelery and I lovee to wear it when I can… nothing wrong with that, right? I wonder why it is then, that sometimes ladies and even Mahrams (may Allah guide them) point it out in a negative sense when they see me a little dressed up at home? Some seem to think it is because I feel “deprived” in my Hijab and I’m desperate to find an outlet for my feelings somewhere, hence the dangling earrings. Another confusion that’s in peoples’ minds is that you don’t need to beautify yourself at home. These people believe it’s important to look your best in public but when you’re at home, it’s okay to slack off – no wonder so many housewives present a very sorry picture at home but are seen in the most dazzling attires at weddings and other functions! How do their husbands recognize them on such occasions? He he!

I just have this to say… if I like to dress up and I’m doing so in a Halal way, without making a display of myself where I shouldn’t, there is absolutely nothing “odd” about it! In fact, just because other people find me odd, it doesn’t make my actions wrong in any way, as long as I adhere to the Islamic principles. And it’s not because I’m repressed, oppressed or suppressing my feelings in any way. I’m happy to present a good and well-dressed appearance to my Mahrams. Likewise, I hope to do so in my role as a wife too, InshaAllah… and guess what, that’s not only Halal, it’s a highly recommended Sunnah too. That’s how the Wives of the Prophet(saw), the Ummahat-al-Momineen lived too!

We forget that Allah(swt)’s decisions and commandments to us are full of unfathomable wisdom and the best way to live our lives. What He has asked us to do is never, in any way, a punishment. It’s only to make our own lives easier and more enjoyable on this earth. I wish women would realize this and beautify themselves in the right manner, for the right reasons. Makeup, nail-polishes, lipsticks, perfumes, gem-studded hair combs, bracelets, anklets, dangling earrings, bangles… all of these are Halal but adorn yourself in the right manner. That’s also one beautiful way of expressing gratitude to Allah(swt) for the perfect manner in which He created you!

Recommended reading: The Ideal Muslimah by Dr Mohammad Ali Al-Hashimi

Ready to Walk the Talk?

“And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the Cause of Allâh) and the patient ones, and We shall test your facts (i.e. the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).” (Qur’an 47: 31)

For those of my readers who’ve got some link with the scientific world and its workings, it will be easy to understand the importance of providing evidence to back up whatever claim you make. For instance, if I were to say today, “the world is actually flat!”, I’d immediately be asked, “Well, what is your proof for it?”.

Although this might not be directly related to science, the concept of providing proofs is not something that is unrelated to your relationship with Allah(swt). It is easy to overlook the importance of evidence-backed and tangible results when we examine our link with our Rabb. Without much guilt, we go on disobeying Allah(swt) while declaring with our tongues how He is Supreme and that He is the number one priority in our lives. It can go as far as this that we make tall claims about our love for Allah(swt) and how pious we are, when in reality, it is just not so.

Take, for example, our use of the words, “I have chosen to bear this with patience.” Hardly a little while later, we go against our own words and behave in the most impatient matter so that, if it were scientific rules were used to judge us by, there would be a world of a difference between what we say and what we actually do.

Allah(swt) also tests us, at various points in our lives, in small and big ways, both, to make things crystal clear. The person who does act upon what he or she says, is going to follow through in deeds and pass the test whereas the one who disregarded his actual actions, is clearly noticeable. All our tall claims are, therefore, of no standing before Allah(swt) unless backed up with real deeds.

What I’ve just written about is something I realized yesterday. I was wondering what odd kind of tests I am currently going through… couldn’t make a lot of sense out them. Of course, Allah(swt) Knows best but what struck me suddenly was how I‘d recently made a claim, directly or otherwise, that I’d learned my lesson about trusting in Allah(swt) and relying solely on Him to get whatever I wanted. It’s hardly been a couple of weeks since I said that and here’s the opportunity to provide evidence – act upon what you said and rely on Allah(swt) for what you now want.

Wow.

It was liberating, in a way, to realize I might be undergoing a test of my resolve. It injected me with a new passion to stick my feet in and refuse to budge in my reliance on Allah(swt). It’s time to show Allah(swt) that I did learn a lesson from what I’ve seen so far and will not revert to my old ways of showing impatience and despair in aiming to get what I want. Whether I get it or not, that’s another question but really, if I can believe, trust and rely in Allah(swt), how can I not expect only but the best from His Mercy?

Remember me in your dua’s, please!

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allâh will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allâh knows all that before putting them to test).” (Qur’an 29: 2-3)


7 Benefits of the Niqaab

So there I was, heading home from college in a rickshaw, trying desperately to hold on to my seat and also retain possession of my bag while the dupatta on my head was flying about, despite a safety pin to secure it in place. What else should happen just then other than that a motorcycle passes by and the person seated behind the driver turns his face a full one hundred and sixty degrees to stare at the “girl in the rickshaw”. One glance and he’s on to next car or rickshaw in the vicinity, confirming the fact that silly men continue to stare at even modestly dressed or covered women.

“Ha! Let’s make things difficult for you!” I thought and lightly draped one end of my dupatta across the lower half of my face, just enough to make me feel momentarily comfortable with the new set up. However, it got me thinking along some comical lines… benefits of the face veil. In the rocking rickshaw, I jotted down a few points I came up with and here I’m sharing them with you. Please know this is not at all a proper article about the plus points of the Niqaab but it’s simply light hearted stuff to share.

Niqaabi

  1. You friend says something that angers you and you make a rude face. Your friend spots the expression and is hurt or retorts angrily in return… oops, major problems in the long run. But for a Niqaabi, you can never see their whole facial expression except the widening or narrowing of their eyes, which of course could be attributed to the sun shining brightly, etc. I tell you, it’s not a joke, I’ve noticed this with some friends and really… my expressions can turn off people but theirs’, no way, they are “naturally immune” to that problem.
  2. You can chew gum in class without the teacher noticing.
  3. You missed breakfast but you can chomp on anything in class if you keep side-way jaw movements minimized.
  4. You can yawn in class out of total boredom without the teacher noticing.
  5. A large, totally embarrassing pimple appears on the tip of your nose but you have to go to college or your job – no problem for the Niqaabi!
  6. Everyone’s concerned about catching Flu virus version 2.0 and scrabbling to buy funny masks while the Niqaabi just looks on amusedly.
  7. Something stinks! Yeah it does but only you can smell it… your Niqaabi friend’s protected.

Add more, be totally creative and come with suggestions better than the ones I’ve put up! I’m looking forward to it! =D

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