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Ramadan Challenge: Animal Rights!

Islam encourages kindness to not only fellow human beings but also other living creatures. We are told:

“Verily, Allah is Kind and He loves kindness” (Muslim)

Kindness should be shown to all of Allah’s creatures specially animals because they can not complain back to you about their problems, they are powerless in many ways.

We encounter animals in our daily lives, sometimes we have pets, oftentimes we deal with astray or wild animals and then we have animals for Baqra Eid.

Below are a few easy steps to show kindness and mercy to animals.

1. If you have Pets

  • Take the responsibility to feed your pets timely and properly with a proper pet specific food.
  • Clean areas of pet or if you have fish clean up the fish tank often.
  • Pick them up calmly and correctly by avoiding their sensitive areas.
  • Teach young kids to show empathy to pets. Remind them that they cannot pull the tails or harass the animals in any way.
  • Play with your pets.
  • Wash/clean/brush your pets often.
  • Take care of their health, ensure their vaccination is properly done. Have routine checkup of pets.
  • Ensure their safety. Make sure they are not left alone where they can be hit or harmed by other animals/people.

And remember, keep the birds out of cage – they deserve flying.

http://www.hallhillfarm.co.uk/images-pages/22-2.jpg

2. If you have an Animal Farm

  • Taking all the care mentioned above along with making sure that they are not overloaded or over exploited. e.g loading a horse or a donkey in excess to its capacity would be zulm (oppression).

3. Stray Animals/Birds that Visit your Home

  • Drop food for cats/dogs often.
  • Make & hang bird feeders, fill with food & water and hang out for birds.
  • If there are astray chicken (like we have plenty where I live) drop some food for them – they might return the favour by leaving fresh eggs at your doorstep.
  • If an animal lays eggs/make nest/give babies – do not disturb & offer food instead.
  • If you find an animal hurt/bruised – take care of it, try to heal them/take it to a vet if required.
  • If any animal is taking refuge in your home and you are not disturbed by it, let it stay.

4. Wild Animals

  • Children often have natural curiosity and they might want to bring any insect, in a jar, home. Or they might want to catch lizards and caterpillars. Wild animals are usually dangerous and not tamed, they should be allowed to live in their natural habitat and not be disturbed or offer food etc. That’s the best way of being kind & respectful to them.
  • Be careful when you are driving, do not hit any animal.
  • Be careful when you walk around because you dont want to kill a bunch of ants. (remember ants are REAL creatures and they might be warning other ants about you – the monster, who would come and kill them, sounds strange? remember story of Salam Alahe salam)

5. Animals for Slaughter at the Time of Eid ul Adha

  • Be compassionate and gentle with the animal.
  • Offer fresh grass/hay and water.
  • Pat and stroke them so that they feel loved.
  • Do not allow kids to abuse the animal in any way specially by riding it.
  • Make sure they are not left unattended beneath the open sky during winters and in sun during summers.
  • Clean up often. Animals like cleanliness too.
  • Use a proper sharp knife while slaughtering.
  • Make dua for the animal.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

  • At your home allow animals to thrive without disturbing you, like set up a garden where birds and butterfly can visit and insects can love.
  • Making sure we live in a earth-friendly and animal-friendly life by not polluting or harming nature, is another way to show kindness to fellow creatures including animals.
  • Keeping the waters like rivers, lakes, ponds and seas clean and by not littering beaches will ensure marine life will thrive and grow.
  • Fear Allah when you are dealing with animals and be mindful of your actions.

Choose what applies to you from the above and start today! A little something! Better now than never! May Allah (SWT) reward you for your kindness. 🙂

reward in serving animals

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“Mommy Special”- Crafting with Kids in Ramadan!

[Guest Post for YC Blog – by a mother for parents looking for ideas on keeping their kids busy and excited during Ramadan, specially the last 10 days]

With the dawn of Ramadan, I thought about a bit older kids, The ones who have started fasting last year or who will be fasting this year or the next. I sat down to do my research and allowed my creative juices to flow so that I could come up with fun crafts for them, crafts that are more age appropriate and a bit challenging than simple cutting/pasting or colouring pages.

My justification being: the best way to teach and engage a kid is by letting them ‘do’ something. Living in the West I noticed that even months before the start of December, kids are inundated by all the activities and shows and events relating to Christmas, I feel there is a stark lack of the same when it comes to Ramadan, specially for the kids aged 6-7 and above.

Following are 6 fun Ramadan crafts older kids will love to do:

1) Calligraphy Wall Art

This is a very simple project, you trace/print the calligraphy picture and color it with sharpie. Kids of 5 years and above should be able to do it with parental help.

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2) Masjid Sun Catcher using Beads

This project is good for 6 years and older, because it is a little trickier and requires parental supervision while using the oven. But again even younger kids can make their own random patterns (in a cupcake tray) and bake it to reveal awesome patterns of a sun catcher.

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3) Masjid Puffy Paint

This had been such a fun craft and my toddlers loved helping me with it. With help of a parent, kids above 3 years can do this craft. Younger  kids can still get to mix the batter which is the favourite part of my 2 year old. And older kids can do this craft from start till end.

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4)  Painted Rocks

Again, both my toddlers loved colouring on the rock, though they needed parental supervision, because the rocks were hot and then I just finished the rocks, writing ‘Alhamdulillah’ and ‘Muhammad Rasool Allah’ (SAW). 3 year olds and above should be able to do it easily.

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5) Lantern Shrinky Dink

This craft is for older kids, with Parental supervision 5 year olds and above should be able to trace and colour the pattern and might be able to cut it as well, and the parent will get to help and bake.

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6) Foil Art Wall Decor

4 year olds and above should be able to pull this craft, while their parent will need to help them with the glue gun part.

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I have been so obsessed with crafting that I undertook a 15 day craft challenge here. And I am hoping to add more crafts there as well.

Hopefully they will inspire you enough to gather your supplies and give it a shot.

 

 

Ramadan Challenge: Your Smart Dua List!

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I started making dua lists some 13 years ago when I was struggling with my life and an Accountancy degree, my future was hazy, I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing – I apparently had no life goal except for qualifying as an Accountant – which I thought I was probably incapable of anyway. And other than that, I had the plethora of other teenager issues.

Since writing has always been my sanctuary, one day I just pulled out a journal and started writing my duas.

The entries were like a letter to Allah SWT, The duas were bullet points loosely based on the theory of SMART – (specific, measurable, Action-oriented, Results-oriented and Tangible).

For example, instead of asking a generic “guide me”, I would write, “O Allah help me study harder so that I could pass my tax exam this summer”.

13 years later almost all of my duas have been answered or are in the process of being answered. Literally! Big duas, tiny duas, stupid duas, funny duas – All. Of. Them. Answered. Alhamdulillah!

It seems surreal but I am telling a fact of my life. And ever since I encourage myself and my friends to write their duas.

visionaireramadan.com

Importance of Writing Down Your Duas

Now you may ask why is writing important. Following are the reasons why I endorse writing:

1. Gives You FOCUS & Allows You to Ask Questions

Most of us living in today’s world are mindlessly sleepwalking through life. We do not know why we are doing what we are doing and the screens have numbed us so much that we have stopped questioning ourselves.

So, sitting down to write duas will revive our FOCUS, it will allow us to contemplate on our life and ask questions like what is actually significant and what is worthy enough to be asked from Allah.

2. Gives You Your Vision

Most of us in today’s world, do not have life goals and do not even think about life goals. We tend to  just live on a day-to-day basis without having a bigger picture of our life.

The list of our duas, once completed, will be a comprehensive vision of our life. It will tell us what we are looking for in life and what we value the most. And hence will empower us by defining the general direction of our life.

What Happens When You Write Duas?

Here are 6 amazing benefits that you will achieve when you write down your duas:

1. Written Duas Become a Road Map

Written duas are actually your written life goals, your dreams, your aspirations.

Now, since you have written them on paper you have the chance to expand them, add details to them and identify exactly what you want to achieve. Working on the list will make you realize that it is actually a road map of your life.

2. Written Duas are Tangible & Instil Belief of Acceptance

Written duas are now a tangible thing – and we humans are much more likely to believe in something tangible.

So naturally, the dua list will make us start believing in the duas, believing in the fact that they will become a reality. Now, belief is a very interesting thing, as Allah SWT says, ‘I am as my servant thinks/believes of me’. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 97, Hadith 13]

So the strength of belief of anything to happen is directly proportional to the chances of its occurrence, which means: the more your believe in something the more it is likely to happen (with the Will of Allah).

3. Written Duas Will Inspire Action

Once you trust your dua will be answered you will be inspired to start working towards it by devising ways and strategies, and putting effort in achieving the dua, hence doing your bit in tawakkul* upon Allah.

4. Written Duas (just like asking dua) Eradicate Worry

Writing your duas gives you a strange positive energy in knowing that you have handed over your load to the Supreme Power – and you feel the stress disappear. The feeling be like: “Okay Allah SWT take my burden and take care of it”.

5. Written Duas Relieve You of Your Mental Load

Since you have written down the duas, you don’t have to constantly recall them every time you have to pray. It will save you a lot of energy and mental load by freeing your mind to have to perpetually remember them.

6. Written Dua Lists Will Inspire Asking You For Them Often

By writing the duas and pasting the list at a place where you notice it often will also encourage you to spare a minute or two and ask the duas. Hence will make you insistent and remind you to repeat the duas which will also, inshaAllah increase the chances of its acceptance.

CHALLENGE:

Dear brothers & sisters, tonight – sit down. Take a piece of paper & pen and scribble away your duas. Such that – instead of worrying on the nights of Ramadan about “what” to ask, you can work & concentrate on “how” to ask the duas off your dua list.

visionaireramadan.com

*Tawakkul: Tawakkul is an Islamic concept that means putting your trust in Allah (One God) after using the appropriate means to achieve your goal. 

The ‘Bad’ Guy

Last year I read a post (https://momsofmuslims.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/one-who-should-not-be-named/) written by a dear friend of mine, Maria. Its message tugged at my heart-strings and I remember exclaiming, ‘That’s  awesome!’

My eldest daughter was 2 years old at that time and I was confused as to how to explain the concept of evil/Shaitan to her.

A couple of months later I found a Bismillah song which became an instant hit with my kids. In this video, little parrots remind a girl to recite Bismillah before everything she does. When she forgets, Shaitan takes over and misguides her. Then, an angel inspires her to say Ta’wwuz, which causes the Shaitan to run away. (Ta’wwuz is a prayer taught to us by Allah to seek refuge from Shaitan.)

Satan

One random day, as my daughter was watching this video,  she looked at me and asked, ‘Mama he isn’t a very good uncle, is he?” (She meant Shaitan)

She was hardly 2 and a half years old then, but I realised that she was ready and took the opportunity to tell her about Shaitan in an age-appropriate way.

I sat her down and taught her that there is a ‘bad guy’ out there who wants us to displease Allah, who wants us to do all kinds of bad deeds. What we have to do is immediately realise that we are under his influence and recite the Ta’wwuz. She understood some bits, but not much.

Over the next few days, however, whenever we watched that song, she would want to hear the same ‘story’ and I would gladly oblige. I would tell her that ‘Shaitan’ inspires us do a bad deed. But, it’s actually our fault because we ‘choose’ to do it. We have free will and can choose to banish him and be the good people we are inherently supposed to be. In order to do that, however, we need Allah’s help and the Ta’wwuz is literally a plea to Allah against the devil.

At this point, I am also reminded of a scene from the Story of Yusuf (AS)- when his father told him that his brothers would plot against him because ‘Shaitan’ is definitely a great enemy. I find this very beautiful; he didn’t blame Yousuf’s brothers because it would have caused enmity in the heart of Yusuf (AS). Instead, he blamed Shaitan!

[Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, “O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.” He said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. (12:4-5)

I’ve taken this lesson seriously as a parent. When my kids misbehave or throw a tantrum, I prefer to direct my anger towards Shaitan and remind them (and myself) to recite Ta’wwuz, instead of blaming and cursing them all the time. (Well, I do fail sometimes and end up blaming them for many things. After all, I am an average desi mom who needs much improvement as a parent!). Also, when one of my kids does something wrong to another, we try to recall blaming Shaitan. Even my 21 month old has started asking me, ‘Shaitaan?’ – (as in ‘Shaitan did it, right mama?”)

A video on anger management by Baba Ali (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGKzPL1lzsU), helped me understand more about how Shaitan works and how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us to curb anger by reciting Ta’wwuz, sitting down, drinking water, performing ablution etc. I try to practice this at home too. Well, most of the time!

Cartoon Satan

 

I also looked for more ways to reinforce the concept of Shaitan in my daughter’s mind. Using the above  image from the book ‘A to Z of Akhlaaq’ by Sr. Nafees Khan, I told her how Shaitan makes a child throw toys and have tantrums (she had started doing that recently). She was quiet for a moment and then asked if that is the reason a ‘Shaitan’ is drawn above the boy’s head in the picture . I said, “Yes, probably!”.

Let me confess – while all this was happening, I was in a frustrated state of mind and was facing anger issues myself. So, helping my daughter learn all these key points would remind me of my shortcomings too. And since I believe in ‘parenting by example’, I started to work on myself as well.

Ever since, I have been a work-in-progress. I lapse often but now I have my kids at my aid. Every time I start to get angry, one of them has the guts to say, “Mama please recite ta’wwuz – Shaitan is coming at you!”

But, in the end, we are all humans. I am not perfect and I cannot expect my children to be perfect either. We work as allies against evil; I calm my daughter down when she needs a reminder and she advises me when I need it.

Perhaps, as children, it is easy to not hold a grudge against another person and blame Shaitan instead, but it starts to become increasingly difficult when we grow up. As adults, we blame people and are full of enmity and hatred against others. I hope I learn to let go of my resentments and that my kids grow up to be people who do not harbour grudges. How amazing would this world become if all of us apply this lesson!

Disclaimer: Although the picture above depicts Shaitan is inspiring the boy, we do not know what is the shape/form of Shaitan since these are matters of unseen in our deen.

About the author:

A Muslim by birth and choice, Accountant by way of studies, an artist at heart, house wife by profession and a blogger mom to two toddlers.
I blog at amuslimmama.com
Twitter: @asbahalaena
Facebook: @amuslimmama

Summer in Pakistan

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The one and only thing that is constant in our lives is change. The night and days alter, the weeks and months pass by and the seasons come and go.

seasons-wallpaper-collage-spring-winter-autumn-summer-sun-sky-clouds-grass

Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala has not created a single thing without purpose, so the change, in itself, also has a purpose. The change perhaps is a blessing in disguise. It teaches us that nothing in life is permanent. This life, this Dunya, is not permanent. In fact it is meant to change.

Time runs and before we knew it, June is right here. It started in March when the spring was subsided before it could officially depart. With the blazing sun and with markets oozing with lawn collections in every other city across Pakistan, summer set in.

Summer in Pakistan comes with scorching sun, excessive load-shedding, lawn collections, ice creams & beverages and eternal love for mangoes.

mangoes-delight-in-summers-L-_zuCVA

And well, a lot of complaining about how hard and tough summer is.

This year the complain has transformed into a concern about upcoming Ramadan (uff itni germi mei rozay kesay rakhain gay?) – “How are we ever going to fast in this extreme heat?”

Well this summer let’s not complain, and for change let us rejuvenate our Iman by following these DO’s and DON’Ts. Keep a positive attitude. 🙂

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Don’ts:

1)      Be lazy / procrastinate / miss Salah.

2)      Wear revealing lawn clothing or half/quarter sleeves in public (for women). Rasool Allah SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam cursed the women who wore clothes but were still naked (May Allah Ta’ala not make us from them).

3)      Wear revealing thighs (for men).

4)      Have bad odor.

5)      Put excessive perfumes – women!

6)      Complain!! Absolutely no to complaining. Insha Allah.

DO’s:

1)      Make dua to Allah to keep you from laziness. (Al Bukhari 7/158)

Dua for Protection from Laziness

2)      Make dua for ease in everything – (dua from Hisnul Muslim – Ibn-e-Habban Al-Sahih)

Dua for Ease in Everything

3)      Remember that if this is so hot, Hell is much hotter. Make Istighfar and seek refuge in Allah from the Hellfire.

Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala is making us experience the high temperature because of a reason. The discomfort that we are made to face in form of summer is a direct guide to learning the ultimate lesson that Hell is hotter. And surprisingly, we get to know from an authentic Hadith of Rasool Allah SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam that the reason of heat in summers is hell itself:

Abu Hurayrah RadiAllaahu Anhu  reported that the Prophet SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam said: “The (Hell) Fire complained to its Lord saying: ‘O my Lord! My different parts consume each other, so allow me to breathe.’ Therefore He (i.e., Allaah) allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in summer, and this is the reason for the severe heat and the bitter cold you find (in weather).” [Al-Bukhaari]

winter and summer

Subhan Allah! We’re frail and we cannot even tolerate the heat of this Dunya, may Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala protect us all from hell fire. Ameen!

4)      Take bath! Summer is not a license to badodor. Muslims should love and practice cleanliness. Wear fragrance too.

One hot day, the Prophet SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam came out while these people were sweating profusely due to the type of clothes they were wearing and a very bad smell emanated from them, to the extent that it offended others. When the Prophet SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam smelt this, he said: “O people! On this day (i.e. Friday) you need to perform Ghusl and each of you should use the best perfume he has.”

karachi-non-alcoholic-perfumes-and-itar-we-sell-non-namaz-only-700-alcoholic-perfumes-imported-ad-175552

5)      Drink water. Feel the love of chilled water and pray to Allah that may our love for Allah become greater than the love we have for this chilled water. It is said that drinking chilled water helps in bringing Ikhlas (sincerity) in Shukar (thanking/being grateful) of Allah!

6)      Offer drinks and water to your fellow beings and earn good deeds.

7)      Put water for animals to drink as well!

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8)      Enjoy summer fruits like watermelon and mango, and thank Allah for this amazing opportunity!

summer-fruits

9)      Make Shukar of Allah, and be thankful to HIM for summer too. Summer offers plenty of opportunities to get Sawab (reward), no?

10)  If you find it hard to sleep on your mattresses, sleep on a mat or directly on the floor. Remember it is Sunnah! Sleeping on floor is said to inculcate humbleness in one’s self. May Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala make us more humble!

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11)  Yes! There is excessive load shedding. But Alhamdulillah we have alternates, even if it is just a manual fan. Alhamdulillah summa Alhamdulillah! Let’s make our hearts full of Shukar of Allah. As Brother Nouman Ali Khan says, ‘if we were really the people of Alhamdulillah we would have never found the energy, opportunity or even desire to complain!’

12)  Last but not the least, let’s learn to be patient in this heat and still have tongues that are wet in remembrance of Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala.

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