Muslim celebrations, Writing

And the month has gone!

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Eid is expected to be tomorrow. This means the month of Ramadan is 29 days this year. Yesterday, while we were having Iftar, my son said; ” Ramadan has gone so fast this year.” I thought I was the only one to notice that but we all did. Really the month has gone so fast. I cannot believe that 28 days ago, I wrote about my plan to post every day during this month. I tried but I couldn’t. Anyway,  I’m happy I’ve started writing more posts than before.

I mentioned in one of my posts that I was determined to make no experiments; no new recipes to try. I kept my word. However, there was a tiny problem; I usually forgot if I added salt or not and I cannot taste the food; I’m fasting. If there wasn’t enough salt, we would add some, no problem though the food wouldn’t taste as nice. The major problem happened when I added too much and it did happen, a couple of times. One of them when we have guests but their hands didn’t reach that plate. Thanks God, I prayed and wanted to take it away before they would think about it.

By the way, I didn’t cook the food in this photo. It was on my son’s birthday and we had our iftar out that night. It was Yummy Yummy.

Eid Mubarak,

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

 

Islam, Muslim celebrations, Writing

His Birth

 

Soon Muslims will celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. He was born on the 12th of Rabie al-Awal (third month of the Islamic calendar). To be honest this is more cultural than religious event, as in all my studies, I have never heard that Prophet Muhammad, his friends or followers had celebrated his birthday simply because Prophet Muhammad will always be in our hearts. I think may be these celebrations started in the Fatimid period  but I am not sure.

I like some of the poems and songs that have been written and repeated on this day; I feel it’s just different in meaning, tone and performance. This occasion always takes me back to childhood years when I was in primary school. Every year, before the Prophet’s birthday, we usually have lots of preparations and rehearsals to offer a good musical performance at our school for parents and visitors. I don’t remember anything more than the poem we were learning by heart as well as our kind teacher that had made a great effort to help us do our best on that day. She was a Christian but she loved singing that poem with us. She was very enthusiastic and sang with all her heart. She was always smiling, a dove flying with her accordion and leaning towards those shy little ones. I still remember those precious tears in her eyes though at that young age I did not understand why?

Was not that great?

By the way the poem was a praise song written for Prophet Muhammad ages ago. I will try to translate the simple lines we used to sing at that celebration:

All the hearts have always longed for the remembrance of the Beloved

I have my evidence and witness

When you say the name of Muhammad,

The tears flow freely from the eyes of those loving The Beloved.

I remember how we, as little boys and girls, used to wear long white shirts; the girls with white head scarf and the boys with white skull caps, standing next to each other facing the audience, and were always supported by our wonderful teacher.

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you Prophet Muhammad and upon all God’s prophets and messengers!

This one is one of my favorite, hope you like it

Alsamlamo Alyka

Maher Zein

 

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Muslim celebrations, Personal, society, Writing

Community

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When I was young, I knew the names of most of our neighbours and their children’s names. I know where they live and their flat numbers. I used to go to the nearby shop even if it was a bit late to get what I need and may pay later when my father visited the shop to pay for the shopping list we got without paying! There was a trust, safety, and intimacy; these concepts I had felt and known even before learning them at school.

But for my parents, this was nothing in comparison to their own days as they were raised up in the countryside where they did not just know about their neighbours’ names but also their family history. They told us how people used to support one another in good and bad times, how they shared their food, how their doors were always opened to all, how they did not worry about their old parents or small children because they were all close, and how the poor were sure they would get what they had asked for. I will never forget how my mother was very delighted when we spent the summer holiday at my grandparents’. She did not worry about anything even about us; her children, because everybody had known her and she had known everyone. She would always find someone around to give her a hand at any time!

This does not mean that life was perfect; of course it was not. There was all of these social vices that would exist in any society, modern or traditional, though in different context; e.g. poverty, ignorance, crime, superstition, etc. But this means that life was different; people think they were belonging not just to the place but more important to each other! Their daily interaction as well as cooperation regardless their differences make them happy.

Is this the meaning of COMMUNITY? I think; yes it is!

I experienced the meaning of community when I moved to live in the UK.  At the beginning, we lived in the university accommodation where I met with different people from different background; each one had different plans, thoughts and beliefs but we cooperate and do our best to help each other. We were remarkably happy which again does not mean that there were no problems or we all were wonderful friends; of course No. I think we just understood consciously or unconsciously that we need each other and we need to cooperate and to accept our differences to enjoy those years.

What happened then? Lots of my friends, living in different parts of the world, say the same thing; “We do not know our neighbours and sometimes do not even see them!” “We do not expect others to contact or visit except in social occasions!” “If we get a call from others it is not because they care but because they either have to or want something.” May be the life rhythm has become too fast, too rough, too technical, too expensive and too superficial to create the community that reflects the image of one body with its different parts. May be it is the rigid individualism or ego centered world that has cloaked this pure sense of community! I do not know! But what I know for definite is that there is no such joy as that experienced when living in a healthy community.
By the way, what inspired me to write about community was the new hijri year 1439. Yesterday was the first day of Muharram; the first month in the Islamic calendar. It’s a wonderful occasion to remember the image of community at Madinah. They too were from different backgrounds, different shapes, sizes, and colours may be different dialects and languages as well as different beliefs as Jews and Christians were living there too. But they cooperated to create that community that would enable them to enjoy their differences while living safe, happy and strong. And they made it!

Happy New Hijri Year!

And have a lovely weekend!

With my best wishes,

Nahla

 

Faith, Islam, Muslim celebrations, Personal, Writing

The journey of a lifetime/2

We arrived at Jeddah airport.

It was December; the best month for a nice weather in Arabia!

The airport was packed with people! This was expected because of the enormous number of pilgrims arriving from different destinations at usually similar times. Long, very long, queues of people were waiting to get their passports stamped, to get their luggage, and to get on a suitable transportation travelling to Makkah.

Later on, we were on our way to Makkah! We were revising our information about hajj rituals. Actually, what I studied at school or learned from my parents about hajj was mainly the basics. That’s to answer what, why and how. But there should be something else! Once I started my self- reading, thinking, and contemplating, I realised that the whole rituals of Hajj are symbols of higher transcendental meanings!

We start hajj by wearing white simple garments which symbolise equality, simplicity and purity! Can this be a reference, or is it better to say, a reminder of how this life began and how it will end? Life is not just for money, position, fashion, jewellery, makeup or hairstyle. There should be other significant meanings of life! It’s time to remember that you are not better than me and I am not better than you! We are equal and the only thing that would make us better before God, is our righteousness; our full submission and strong faith. Remeber, this is how we used to be at beginning of the Creation!

And we end hajj with farewell tawaf or final circumambulation which symbolises not only the end of this spiritual visit but also the hope for a new start when we are expected to revive our faith and regain the standards of humanity which we may have lost in our busy material life. We end our journey by remembering that we have been living as guests in this life and one day we will leave. But can we leave the host’s house without saying thank you? Thanks for the generous hospitality; for all the blessings we have been enjoying in this world! Can we leave without asking for forgiveness and support especially when we believe that we are asking the Most Gracious and Merciful?

We enjoyed every part and moment in Hajj. The beginning, the end and everything in between. It was a marvellous journey! We experienced hard as well as good times! We got lost, we got pushed, we got what was unexpected, we fell ill, we made good friends, we laughed, we cried, we helped and were helped, and finally we made it!

That was not everything!
We would not leave without visiting the Madinah or the Prophet’s city which welcomed us with a cool soft breeze, drizzly rain and smiley faces shown everywhere congratulating the visitors for being there!

Finally, we were on board but this time flying to Cairo. Looking forward to seeing the kids, hugging them and telling them about this journey of a lifetime!

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Faith, Family, Muslim celebrations, Personal, Writing

The journey of a lifetime!


First of all, this post is about my own experience and I have not thought about writing a systematic guide or knowledge which can easily be obtained by a double-click on google.

This is about my pilgrimage journey! Hajj

Ten years ago my husband and I went to perform Hajj (Pilgrimage). I know by heart that Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and once you can afford to make the journey; physically and financially, then you must go. It’s the journey of a lifetime. A Muslim can perform it at as many times as he/she can afford.

Honestly, I did not think about going to Hajj at that time. Why? Because it was common among all people I know to plan to perform hajj later in their life. Apparently, when we become older with less or free from responsibilities; at the time when we decide to live life wisely and thoughtfully. And (this may be a new information for you) but some Arabic countries did not permit people to go to hajj unless they are over 50 and in urgent medical cases they would allow a young relative to accompany and look after the old pilgrim. This may have been changed now! Or may not!

At that time, we were already in the UK. My boys were 7 and 5 years old. My husband had just finished his postgraduate studies and started his academic career. I was about to start my postgraduate studies too. But sometimes we are destined to go through unexpected plans that would turn out to be better than our long-term ones!

This was what happened to us. How?

One year before we went to Hajj, some friends sent us an email explaining the full details of the expenses and documents required in case we would think about going the year after. My husband was very encouraged and determined. He said: “we have the money, are young and healthy, so it’s time to perform hajj!” He started making comprehensive inquiries. We did not wait long as everything had been arranged and confirmed smoothly. I was excited but the only and first thing I asked about was; what about the boys? Our friends decided to leave theirs, who was much younger than ours, with their family in their home country. I had never left my sons with anyone before even with my own family except for a few hours! I thought to take them with us but my husband and other friends advised me not saying” it would be very hard for them besides they would have a great time with my family in Egypt” And that how it was! We arranged two flights one to Egypt and another to Jeddah.

After spending a few days with family, we were on our way to the airport to get our flight to Jeddah. I was happy; extremely happy, because it was no longer a plan or a dream but real! we were on our way to perform this fifth pillar! But I also could not stop crying thinking about my boys. I prayed with my whole heart: “Ya Allah, this is for your sake, please make this easy for me and take care of my sons!”

Then we were flying to Jeddah to start our hajj rituals in Makkah!

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Muslim celebrations, Writing

Eid is coming


In the last week of the month of Ramadn, Muslim houses have more chores to do than usual.

Let’s clean the house, bake Eid cookies, buy new clothes and shoes, and do not forget to pay zakat alfitr (which is a small amount of money given to the poor to help them getting ready to celebrate Eid)

But have you ever think what little kids might be thinking about Eid ?
My daughter is happy to know that in Eid, we get new stuff, we eat yummy food and have nice family time together. She has also learned about the month of Ramadan and insisted on waiting till Iftar time, to join us, though she’s got her dinner and dessert earlier. But these days, she started asking me; what’s after the month of Ramadn? and I told her; we will celebrate Eid.

Then my little daughter asked me; Why do we celebrate Eid?

For the first time, I realised that , even for children, celebrations might have not only material significance but a spiritual one.

I simply explained to her that God has gifted us with two Eids. Eid alfitr is the first celebration.  We celebrate Eid because we’ve been fasting for thirty days from early morning to early evening. While being fasting, we do our regular work, go to schools, do all house chores and cook those delicious yummy food without tasting it until Iftar (break fast). We see food and water and even when it is too hot, we do not think about tasting them. We read quran more, pray more and do our best to be good. Why do you think we do all these things?

All these things we do because we believe in God and love Him. This shows our obedience to God as we can abstain from all these life pleasures for certain hours everyday for the sake of being committed to our religion. This is why we celebrate Eid, we celebrate our commitment to be good Muslims. Hence; the first thing we do in our Eid celebrations is to pray at the mosque to ask God to accept our fasting, thank Him for the gift of Eid and to share our happiness with everyone else.

My daughter was happy and I think she’s got the answer she was looking for.

Why not we too ask ourselves; why do we celebrate Eid? do we celebrate our obedience to the Creator and our strength against our ego? Do we celebrate our ability to purify our soul and simplify our life? What changes do we celebrate this Eid that can take us forward to an elevated life? May be if we think about these questions, we can enjoy the best Eid ever!

Still have time, three or may be four more days for Eid.
Wishing you all Eid mubarak