Hajj Chronicles III: Kindness of a Stranger

It started out when she smiled at me, so thankfully.  It made me feel bad.  Why was I so begrudging of this empty spot next to me?  Why was I being so greedy with something that didn't belong to me.  Why couldn't I just smile, graciously, when she asked me if there was any space next to me for her and her friend to pray in.  Instead, I shook my head vigorously and mouthed, "No," and made the sign for 'one person' with my hand.  Only one of you can come.  And that, without a smile.I was standi … [Read more...]

It’s the Little Things

How I dread grocery shopping alone with my girls.I will put it off. I will avoid it. I will find excuses not to do it. But the day comes when I look in the fridge and I realize with a sinking heart that I have to.Today was one of those days. I had to go shopping with my 18-month-old daughters. And I had to go to two different places, which made my heart feel even heavier.So I made istikharah, coaxed them into the car, and off we went, with my mind imagining every scenario possible … [Read more...]

Hajj Chronicles II: The Little Things

It's the little things that people do, that have others praying for them, without them even realizing, and may be the reason they enter Paradise.While we were sitting in the Haram in Makkah, on the third floor, I noticed people fidgeting in front of me, and then slowly I noticed the crowds flicking a large cockroach or cricket-type bug around.  When you're sitting in a crowd of a million, there's no place for this insect to go but onto another person.  And so it got dangerously near me.  And … [Read more...]

As the Twins Get Older

The girls were sitting,On the trunk of the car,Looking at the world,Near and far,When one noticed the emblem,And asked what it was,I read, “Nissan”,And told them what it does.When they heard the word,They did something bizarre.They both stuck their tongues,Out really far.Puzzled, I asked them,What they were doing.They pointed once more,So I told them again.Both tongues came out,As if pulled by a cord,And I almost decided,This should just be ign … [Read more...]

By the Book

When I was expecting my first child seven years ago after years of trying to conceive, I was overwhelmed with emotion. From early on in my pregnancy, I was determined to be a well-informed mom, up-to-date on the newest and best child rearing practices out there. That Infancy & Childhood Development course I took as an undergrad student some years ago wasn’t going to cut it. I searched books and websites for good, solid information that would not only get me through pregnancy, labor, and d … [Read more...]

Tossing the Subscription

It felt like a turning point to me, but maybe I’m overanalyzing it. Going through the mail the other day, I came across the renewal card for my subscription to a parenting magazine I have been getting for what seems like a zillion years. And for the first time in five or six of those years, I threw it into the recycling pile without a moment’s thought. I knew without even thinking that I was done with being told month after month how to be the perfect parent.God knows I need all the par … [Read more...]

Eid Mubarak from Jeddah

My husband and I have been living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for more than thirty years, alhamdulillah. We live in Safa District, in the northwest of this huge, sprawling city.We used to go, for both Eids, to the large outdoor prayer area beside the Airplane Roundabout. It was too far to walk, so we always drove. I mean that we rode and my husband drove since women are not allowed to drive here. Now the Airplane Roundabout has been demolished to make way for an overpass. The place is called … [Read more...]

The Appointed Days are Here

Dear mothers and sisters,Ramadan was a fleeting visitor that vanished as suddenly as it appeared, leaving us with sweet memories and mountains of reward or regrets. The month left us heart-broken, each for our own reasons. Some of us missed out on the great month, failing to invest in its nights and days. Others savored every moment, growing closer to Allah and increasing their worship. In those few special days, we lived with Allah, the Generous, the Giving; only He knew our sorrow when the … [Read more...]

The Mirror

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, "The believer is the believer's mirror, and the believer is the believer's brother who guards him against loss and protects him when he is absent."  (Book #41, Hadith #4900 Sunan Abu Dawud)I read this hadith and I wondered why the Prophet (pbuh) used the word mirror. What’s special about it? I reached the conclusion that the mirror has a lot of characteristics that the Prophet wants us to have. Here are a few of them:1. It is honest, al … [Read more...]

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I’m a big fan of thick, hearty, creamy soups.And now that it’s autumn, and butternut squash are in season, I’m once again on a quest to make this soup taste good.Last year I tried it a couple of times, and wasn’t satisfied with the sweetness of the squash or of the apples which many recipes called for.So after a lot of searching around online and in my fridge, I put together this spicy, thick concoction.If you prefer the unadulterated of butternut squash in your soup, go for a traditional recip … [Read more...]