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The Muslim Mama’s Quick Guide to Goal Planning (without losing your sanity)

By Fatima Asad

If you’re like me, you despise seeing those tacky New Year’s resolution jokes on your newsfeed.  This one really irks my soul: “My New Year’s resolution is to follow through with my last year’s resolutions.”  Another one that sadly represents the majority of wishful go-getters is: “Thanks for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions.”  It is not simply the cheesiness of these jokes that bothers me- but our apathetic attitude towards a chance to improve the quality of our lives.  Yes, December 31st is just a number and there’s no magic or daleel behind it but choose Ramadan or Muharram as your “New Year” if you please.  We as imperfect beings strongly desire a line – a start/finish line that will allow us to start afresh; however, it is only that- a desire.  Now, as a mother and wife, my plate of short-term and long-term planners is often overflowing and that liberating line is much needed to reorganise and get a new start.  

Let me throw in another cliche: “If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.” This is the one quote that I can confirm from experience is very true.  The day that I have not planned is the day I get an inner panic attack either before or after breakfast.  Mothers are all too familiar with the overwhelming feeling of disorganisation and are pros at masking it with an air of “I know exactly what I’m doing.”  My to-do basket tends to pile up for days at a time, I am guilty of shoving clutter in the wrong closets, I miss my spa appointments regularly, I’ll let the kids have pyjama day (or week) when laundry needs to be done, and I’m definitely guilty of not straightening out the bed sheet before I spread the duvet elegantly on top.  Why am I divulging my secrets? Because I want the other moms out there to know that: Girls, it’s okay to not meet society’s standards every single day.  It really is!  We have too much going on to worry about which total stranger or judgemental relative we need to please today.  

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Believe it or not there’s a method to our clumsy madness as mothers.  We have far greater goals to focus on.  These goals don’t just include fitness or diet goals- that was the easy part.  As mothers, we have to make multiple planners for each new year: for me, for the kids, and for the husband (he can safely be kept under the children’s category).  It’s fun to plan a family trip or which new colour to paint the bedroom wall; however, as Muslim mothers, our goals for the year should reach far beyond those walls.  The purpose of setting goals is to improve the quality of our lives, as is pleasing to the Lord Almighty and to reach ihsaan (excellence) in all our actions and emotions.  Notice, there is a difference between excellence and perfection.  A chase for perfection will always end in failure- doing everything with ihsaan means I’ve given it my personal best.  

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I won’t lie; each year, the burden of raising little humans gets heavier on my shoulders as I know I must set goals that are wholesome for not only my family but also for the future of our Ummah.  These goals include focusing on categories such as Islamic Studies, Quran Studies, homeschooling (did I mention I’m also the teacher?), diet and exercise, social activities and life skills.  

Here are some gentle reminders for my fellow Muslim mothers (and fathers) as they begin or revise their goal planning:

  • Focus on your ultimate goal of reaching Jannatul Firdous
  • Renew your intention (Why and for whom are you doing this?)
  • Begin everything with Bismillah (Yes, even as you wash the dishes) and it will turn the action into worship
  • Let go of perfection and aim for YOUR very best
  • Stop worrying about people’s opinions! Do what seems right for your family
  • You’re still an awesome mother if you don’t do every project on Pinterest
  • Stick to the sunnah- remember Islam makes your life easier!
  • Read/listen about the great women in Islam and how they focused on their families, personal lives and their deen
  • You need to have a contemporary role model who inspires you (public figure, fellow mother, coworker)
  • Choose friends that bring positive energy in your life and help you grow instead of judging you (If you can have her over without having to change the kids out of those pyjamas, she’s a keeper!)
  • Don’t go through goal planning and implementing alone! Have a strong network to talk to (husband, friend, relative)

Life was not meant to be lived perfectly, and this year will be no exception.  We will make mistakes- lots of them.  It’s important to make NEW mistakes and learn from the old, inshaAllah.  

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2018 – My Little Bit

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Two weeks into 2018 already, yet I still keep coming across posts and images of how to make your 2018 better. “Fresh start”, most of them say. While browsing through such posts, I asked myself my plans for this year, “Do I want to make huge intricate plans for the whole year? Or shall I just let it be this time? Or I can do the usual and keep on planning quarterly?”

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While deep in thought, my mind went back to Youth Club’s annual meeting and the advice given to us, “be that person whose motto in life is chalo koi gal nai*”, based on the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW: “Shall I not inform you of whom the Fire is unlawful and he is unlawful for the Fire? Every person who is near (to people), amicable, and easy (to deal with).'” [Jami-at-Tirmidhi, Book 37, Hadith 2676, Grade: Hasan] And that’s when I decided, if nothing else, I’ll try my best to be that person this year inshaAllah. 

I know it’s not as easy as it sounds but I also know the need of such people in our world is great. Allah SWT knew it’s not a small thing therefore He kept the reward so great, imagine being forbidden on that Big Fire! Isn’t it motivation enough?

It happens numerous times a day that during your dealings with others, you want to tell them off. Or even if you’re not in a position to do that, then at least show it by your expressions. The servants would annoy you by one thing or the another, the kids will make you angry, your parents will frustrate you, the colleagues will do it all wrong, the boss will scold you for no reason, your in-laws will be unhappy with you, the shopkeeper will give you the wrong product, the kid next door will break your favourite vase, your relatives will try to interfere in your life and your neighbour will throw the trash in front of your door. If you can live through all of that and not heat up at every instance mentioned, then that is indeed an achievement.

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It’s hard but not impossible when you keep the reward in mind (paste it on your bedroom cupboard, perhaps). There is already a lot of hate in this world, a lot of grief and depression. If you and I try to be that little agent of change, only by changing ourselves, only by being a bit more approachable and easy-going for the people around us, imagine the amount of love and peace we’d be able to spread through that. Think of that person in your life who you can go to with anything on your mind knowing they won’t blow up, that they’d be there, imagine if there were more of such people, this sad world would become a little happier. And if I can help spark that in 2018, then I will not consider my year wasted!

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*Meaning: it’s okay

 

My Son, You Taught Me…

By Umm Ibrahim 

My Dear Son,

It has been a year since you entered into our world. When I saw you, I felt my heart would burst with love and happiness, although my body was broken and aching. What a roller coaster of a year it has been since then. It was tough but totally worth it.

Son, your Baba often reminds me that you are an amanah of Allah. Allah has placed the enormous responsibility of your upbringing on our shoulders. And what a momentous task it is! I often think of the long lists of things I have to teach you. I want to teach you to always love and obey Allah and His Messenger. I want to teach you the Quran and make you fall in love with the book and the pen. I want to teach you everything from Arabic to algebra. I want to teach you swimming, archery and shooting. I want to equip you to deal with the fitnahs of this day and age, and to revive the beautiful deen of our Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam).

But today, my love, I actually want to talk to you about something else. I want to tell you about some of the amazing things that you have taught me. Yes, you heard it right!

I always wanted to be your mama. I always prayed for you. But you took your sweet little time coming. I remember I was almost losing hope at that time. When all of a sudden, I got the good news that a new life had already started to grow inside of me. I fell down in Sajdah and cried a lot that day. (Your mama does cry a lot. Most women cry it out when their heart is brimming with any emotion.  I hope you understand that well and lovingly support your wife through her tears, just like your Baba does.) Good news of you renewed my faith in my Duas. You taught me to believe whole-heartedly in Allah’s Loving Mercy.

During the pregnancy, you being inside me made me take care of myself. I felt weak at that time, but now that I think of it, you actually strengthened me physically, emotionally and spiritually. For your sake, I ate better and healthier. I tried to stay happier and think positive always because everything I thought and did was affecting you.  I recited more and got closer to the Quran. Son, you pushed my limits. You taught me that I was stronger than I thought. You taught me to love like I never knew even before you were born.

Your delivery was the toughest thing I have gone through. Before you, I would kick up a fuss even when swallowing a medicine.  You made me so much braver and confident in my own self. With Allah’s Help with me, I feel ready to face anything and everything now.

My son, you taught me the true meaning of the hadith which mentions that Allah is moreunnamed merciful to his slaves than a mother to her child. Now, I understand why Allah chose a mother’s love and mercy as an example. I can never quantify my love for you. The fact that He loves me way more than I love you just boggles my mind and makes me fall in love with Him. It gives me hope in His Mercy and Forgiveness. I feel relaxed leaving all my matters in His Hand.

My son, you taught me that love conquers all and makes all things easy. I could smile in the day despite being sleepless in the night. I could endure endless pain and fatigue for you. And one smile of yours would melt it all away.

You taught me to love my husband more. He is your Baba, and the way he takes care of you and me is amazing. Seeing him playing and goofing around with you is one of my favorite things to watch. Taking care of you has been stressful for both of us. We have fought and snapped at each other. But we have also taken care of each other through it all. All in all, you have strengthened our relationship and made it all the more beautiful.

My son, you have taught me to love and appreciate your grandmothers too.  Becoming your mama has put so many things in perspective. After becoming a mom myself, I have developed immense respect for your nani. I now realize fully how much she went through and sacrificed for me. She is an amazing super-mom. I can never ever repay her. I feel sorry for every time I disappointed her or was rude and disobedient. No mother’s heart should go through pain. I feel more love and respect towards your dadi, my mother-in-law too.  You are my first-born. Baba is her first-born. I can only imagine the way she loves him. She has raised him well. And for that I am really thankful to her. I feel more empathy towards her concerned behavior which might otherwise feel annoying or interfering. I know it is all coming from a place of selfless love. Baba owes a lot to her. And her prayers are his asset.

My dear son, I love your innocence and the way you giggle over small things. You have taught me that the small things are actually the big things. You have taught me to live in the moment, to be thankful for every small blessing.

8ce5c01a121ca4fea8780cec760e5f22--baby-hands-baby-feetYou love me so much too and those cute expressions of love make me so happy and proud. Everyday, you push me to be a better version of myself, to learn more, to grow more. Because I am your first school and your first teacher. You look up to me and I cannot let you down. I have to be a good role model for you. Before I can teach you good conduct, I must try and work on my own personality and guide you through example.

My son, you are sleeping peacefully at this moment and I must wrap up this letter before you wake up and demand all my attention. Being a mom is definitely the toughest yet most rewarding job ever. I will always make dua for you. I will always love you. I really have no words to express that love. I hope you grow up a fine young man, and are successful in the deen and dunya.

Your Mama.

 

6 Tips For Practising Islam Better

By YC Street Dawah Team

Does Practicing Islam Mean Losing Friends? – 2

A question was posed, “Are there any tips for someone who wants to begin practising Islam?”

This is a big question and the answer probably deserves books upon books to answer. However, I will attempt to offer some ideas which could help in the ‘journey’ towards Islam as a way of life, Insha’Allah.

1- Righteous Company!

Probably the biggest barrier to fully immersing ourselves in the practice of Islam is the company we keep. You have to willingly change your company, and you can do that by the following:

By constantly sharing your thoughts on the purpose of life with the group of friends you hang around with. This might serve as inspiration to others and lead them to switch to a positive lifestyle too, so that you may not have to find new friends!

Alternatively, you can leave this group of friends and find new company. And since that is easier said than done, you can change your mindset, to start thinking along these lines:

“Do I really need friends that would only cause me harm? Can’t I survive and live a wholesome life without friends? When you begin thinking like this, you find all sorts of options.

We have this saying amongst those involved in dawah, “When you begin practising Islam, you may lose friends but you gain brothers/ sisters!”

There is an amazing Hadith on the matter:

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.”

[Muslim]

2. Invest in Alternative Hobbies or Interests

If you are someone who is addicted to drugs, smoking, clubbing, music, haram relationships, pornography or any other such activities and want to get away from them, don’t think that your life will become boring and dull without them. This is a huge misconception. In fact, having an Islamic lifestyle gives you all sorts of stimulation, which you won’t gain from haram activities. Islam brings peace to your heart, like nothing else. Not dance parties, nor flirting on Instagram.

Other than actively seeking knowledge by attending courses and meeting other enlightened souls, you can opt for hiking, sports, travelling, reading books and so many other activities that are perfectly allowed in Islam. With Islam embedded in your heart and mind, you begin to look at a universe of options, as opposed to the limited set available when away from an Islamic lifestyle.

3. Access to Knowledge

A few decades ago, or even 9, 10 years ago, you could argue that to gain access to Islamic knowledge, be it with scholars, short or long courses, halaqahs, one had to travel to the Middle East or to another locality. With that, came many other hardships & inconveniences.

However, now we have all sorts of mediums to begin our learning! There are thousands of hours of Islamic content available online. Be it YouTube or Facebook, essays, articles or audio recordings. We can access them all through our social media platforms.

So, start following beneficial & productive pages and scholars! You can also find and befriend a scholar or a specialist of their field and have Skype sessions with them!

Furthermore, you can also join numerous WhatsApp/ Telegram learning groups! There really isn’t any excuse to not learn. You can begin your journey of knowledge from the comfort of your own bed!

4. Unfollow/ Unfriend Boys/Girls

Yes, this may sound hard to do, but before actually unfriending those that share nonsense on your Instagram/twitter/ Facebook feeds, start by using the unfollow button. This will be a start to ‘cleansing’ your social media platforms and will directly impact your own thinking. You can filter out useless information and not be influenced by those that encourage non-Islamic content. Social media plays a huge part in forming our opinions in life, and you really do have to work on it!

5. Hang Around Du’aat

If and where you can, hang around those involved in Da’wah to those that are away from Islam. Even if you feel ‘hypocritical’ for still indulging in haram activities, hanging out with those who are practising and inviting towards Islam will be of great benefit to you. You will hear words like ‘destructive’ and ‘foolish’. You will listen to the anecdotal stories of how they changed and will gain great inspiration from their experiences!

6. Talk to Your Creator

If you truly are sincere about changing to begin practising Islam, then turn to Allah and ask him:

” Oh Allah, I want to change! I want to leave this lifestyle behind. I want to become close to you and follow your commands. But how? How do I do this? Where do I start? Can I change? Am I too deep into sin/kufr?! Please show me the way! Please guide me! Please fix my heart and remove these diseases.”

If you can ask this and have a deep conversation with the Turner of Hearts, then I am sure Insha’Allah, you will begin your journey of change.

 

A beautiful, encouraging hadith goes:

“Oh son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. Ask & I will not mind”

[Al-Tirmithi].

Have a strong intention, add will power and try your best to get on the path to Allah!

The FUN theory- Entertainment in Islam

All work and no play?
Ladies & gentlemen, Youth Club presents 

The FUN THEORY – Entertainment in Islam
From sky diving to pithu garam to ludo star; find out what is good and what is not. A guaranteed blockbuster event for the whole family! 😀
Speaker: Raja Zia ul Haq

Date: Sunday, 10th September

Timings: 10:30 to 4:30 pm

Venue: PC Hotel, Rawalpindi
Free Entry | Open for Ladies & Gents
Event Page: https://web.facebook.com/events/110826899637371/
#TheFunTheory #ScenesKuchAiseHain

Story of a Revert Muslimah

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YOUTH CLUB: Asalamualaikum, welcome to Islam, sister — may you introduce yourself?

REVERT SISTER: Walaikumasalam, thank you.  My name is Samiha. I was raised in Germany but I am originally from Hong Kong. I became Muslim in 2011 while I was a university student in the UK. I have, therefore, been Muslim for 6 years, Alhumdulilah. I became a Masters student for architecture in Australia but right now I am currently gaining work experience as an architectural assistant in Hong Kong before returning back to complete studies.

YOUTH CLUB: What was your life before Islam and what do you think was the turning point for considering to read about Islam?

REVERT SISTER: My life before Islam was nothing extraordinary and was rather very standard. I was a normal teenager who never really gave much thought about life. At the same time I was never into what my peers were doing. I abstained from dating, clubbing, drinking or other western lifestyle. I guess people would consider me as a studious teen that stayed away from trouble. The turning point for me considering Islam was when I started university in the UK. This was where I encountered Muslims for the first time. I was additionally going through personal issues and was thus in a very low period in my life. I hit rock bottom and was completely lost. I furthermore found my degrees in firstly chemistry and later mathematics totally unsuitable where that made me feel more lost. I was, therefore, really low and questioned a lot about my purpose and outlooks in life. This also led me to compare my Muslim friends’ lifestyle to my own where I surprisingly found many similarities. They were modest and disciplined and I really liked that so I started to dig deeper.

YOUTH CLUB: What caused you to embrace Islam?

REVERT SISTER: There were many factors that led me to embrace Islam. Firstly, reaching rock bottom certainly made it easier to accept the truth. I was in a state where I wanted to find meaning and make sense of the world. Islam, however, appealed me on a more rational level. I tend to observe things from a rational and calculated standpoint, especially with my background in chemistry, and mathematics. I, therefore, analyzed and compared Islam to other religions that I was exposed to — religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. I was previously an atheist, but the scientific accuracy within Islam was flawless, and undeniable. The scientific and logical approach in the Qur’an towards the meaning of life, therefore, struck me. I was even more awestruck over the cosmological explanations found within the Qur’an and it aligning with the opinions of modern day scientists. It was too undeniable to ignore and I also felt like Allah (swt) was protecting me in my teens in preparation for Islam. It was, therefore, easy to embrace Islam, Alhumdulilah.

YOUTH CLUB: How do you think Islam has transformed your life for the better?

REVERT SISTER: Islam has transformed my life for the better because it has given me a clear purpose in life and a sense of direction. The detailed teachings over how our intentions matter guides my actions and speech. Islam has, therefore, guided me into decisions fueled with purpose where I think that also led me to my current degree. I am passionate about architecture — more specifically sustainable architecture — because I hope to give back to humanity by building what is sustainable and good not only for mankind but Earth. Islam has thus made me conscious and has increased my accountability. The feeling of accountability has not only given me a clear sense of direction but pushed me to strive for excellence in whatever I do.

YOUTH CLUB: What in Islam helps you cope with life’s difficulties especially when facing non Muslim parents?

REVERT SISTER: Allah (swt) says in the Qu’ran that He will test every believer according to their sincerity and see if they are indeed true believers. This is a teaching that I cling to whenever going through difficulties. I know very well that my parents love me and that their opposition is due to this love. This is, however, a test for me and I know that Allah (swt) has promised not to give me tests beyond my capacity. The knowledge of how what we are going through is temporary helps me cope and the duty within Islam towards parents gives me direction on how to be towards them.

YOUTH CLUB: What message would you like to send Muslims that were born with Islam and that have Muslim families?

REVERT SISTER: Cherish and be grateful for your family whether they are religious or not. It is a tremendous blessing if your family is practicing, but if they are not, it often helps to think from the shoes of others because your family loves you at the end of the day. Allah (swt) will reward you for obeying His religion and being kind to your family — your family will see how Islam has transformed you for the better even if they do not fully understand why you are practicing Islam.

YOUTH CLUB: What further advice would you give born Muslims that start to become practicing but face opposition from cultural parents?

REVERT SISTER: My advice is to be patient. Be consistent when showering kindness and persevere for Allah (swt)’s sake. Allah (swt) will bless you and you will see the fruits. Your parents will ultimately appreciate how Islam has transformed you for the better.

YOUTH CLUB: How do you think born Muslims can be there for reverts and what can they learn from reverts?

REVERT SISTER: I think just being there makes a huge difference. There are many that are quick to judge when you are new Islam and also there are many that preach whatever they know about Islam without looking at your circumstance. There are few that are actually there especially when things get tough. Reverts tend to go through a huge change and face opposition from family. They sometimes do not feel safe at home that support from the Muslim community makes a huge difference. The simple act of reaching out to reverts to ask how they are or how to help makes a huge difference.

YOUTH CLUB: Jazaki Allah khair sister for your time and for sharing with us your experience — we are very pleased to have you as our sister and have lots of prayers for you.

EID FEATURE: Youth Club’s Celebrations

This Eid ul Fitr 2017, Youth Club Blog decided to catch up with the Presidents of Youth Club’s various chapters to know what is the significance of Eid in their lives…

1. Best Eid Moment?

Raja Zia ul Haq, CEO YC: Driving back from the masjid with my whole family, talking about how amazing the khutbah was and looking forward to a great breakfast that’s waiting at home, Alhamdulillah. We recall how every day of Ramadan we stopped ourselves from eating because of the command of Allah; and today we eat because of the command of Allah.

Fiza Khan, President (female wing) YCI: Meeting everyone right after Eid Salah. It’s like a sudden shift into another mode and world, all smiles and happiness…

Mohammad Ali, President YCL:  Coming back from the mosque and meeting the family, hugging them, eating with them. It gives so much energy.

Asma Inayat, President (female wing) YCL: For me, it’s the Eid prayer. The whole family makes an effort to get ready early morning and go to Eidgaah (prayer place). I look forward to that time two to three days before Eid.

Ishaq bin Sadiq, President YCK: Praying Eid Salah, which gives the sense of brotherhood and unity… Standing feet to feet… Shoulder to shoulder…

2. Favourite Eid Dish?

Raja Zia ul Haq: For me, it has always been the classic “Channa Chat” with imli sauce!

Fiza Khan: Channa chaat! That I eat every time I serve the guests. By the time it’s lunch hour, there’s no space for anything else!

Mohammad Ali: Sheer khurma

Ishaq bin Sadiq: Kabab Paratha, probably…

3. Any Funny Incident Related to Eid?

Raja Zia ul Haq: I remember a crazy story from Eid ul Adha once, where our bakras somehow got loose and my cook and other helpers were running after them all over the place. The scene reached its climax when one of my siblings, who was fleeing for their life (being terrified of goats obviously) came inside the house, only to have one of the bakras follow them in. Seeing so many people, the bakra panicked, jumped up on the coffee table and made quite a big mess of things. The reaction of my family members was priceless!

Fiza Khan: All those times I slept with my mehndi-fied hand under my face and had a pretty print on my face the next day..

Mohammad Ali: My cousin and I used to set out on a mission to gather Eidi from all the relatives. We used to go to every single relative, close or distant, greet them and sit and wait for Eidi. It used to be a funny and awkward situation..

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 4. How Do You Make Your Eid Special?

Raja Zia ul Haq: We get lots of gifts for everyone. Since we don’t celebrate any other days throughout the year, we make a massive campaign-style effort for Eid. This includes setting up camp in the living room at night where we all laugh, play, share stories and even sleep; my kids love this experience… We even decorate the living room with streamers, banners and buntings just to add a bit more flavour!

Fiza Khan: Being a girl, that question is already answered, no? 🙂

Mohammad Ali: By meeting people who have felt neglected.

Asma Inayat: Being Lahori, I think it’s the food that makes the Eid special 😀
Preparations start a day or two before Eid. My family is a desi food lover so nihari, halwa puri, biryani, chicken dishes are the things on my mind when I jot down my things to do list for Eid..

Ishaq bin Sadiq: By meeting my brothers in Islam and having breakfast with them.

5. How can Eid be made enjoyable for poor people?

Raja Zia ul Haq: We should make it a point to visit those less fortunate than us during the Eid holidays. Whether it is an orphanage or an old people’s home or a village environment etc. We encourage our kids to handover presents to the orphans with their own hands so that they can feel for these children, who are spending their Eid without their families.

Fiza Khan: There’s so much of happiness to share. Starting off by giving monetary gifts to including them in your smiles and moments; honouring them by serving them what you serve other guests. Especially​ before Eid, getting them bangles, mehndi, arranging barber trips for the young boys etc.

Mohammad Ali: We should give them charity before Eid and distribute gifts. We can start from helping those near us like our maids, servants, driver, guard, society guard, etc.

Asma Inayat: Our tiny little empathetic acts create a big difference by the end of the day. Even if there’s just one poor person whom we can help out with food in Ramadan and provide him with Eid clothes, it will have an immense impact over the society at large. Along with the food and clothing, if we take out time to share Islamic knowledge with him, we can help him with not only dunya but his aakhirah too..

Ishaq bin Sadiq:  By visiting them and giving them gifts, organizing a party for street boys of your area.

6. What Special Thing Do You Do for Your Family over Eid? 

Fiza Khan:  I like to make some Eid treats for whoever I can…

Mohammad Ali: Take them to meet other family members. That’s special in this age of social media.

Ishaq bin Sadiq: I give Eidi 😉


Do YOU have any Eid stories to share with us? Do tell us in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

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