Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Knowledge is light...
فنصحنى بترك المعاصى
ان العلم نور و نور الله لا يؤتى لعاص
(Shakawtu waaki'an naqsa hifdhi,
Fa nasahani bitrak al-ma'aasi,
Inna~l 'ilma noorun wa nooru~Llaahi laa yu'taa li'aasi)
I complained to Waki' about my deficiency of learning,
So he advised me to give up wrong-doings;
Indeed knowledge is light and the light of Allah will not be given to the wrong-doer.
I love this little snippet of Arabic poetry that my Shari'ah lecturer back in my uni days recited to us one day.
Edited to say: thanks to sister Yasmeen for informing me that these words are attributed to the great Imam Shafi'i.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I feel that I have a certain amount of humble pie to eat regarding the vegetables in cakes post. Although I still wouldn't got to these measures myself and prefer to encourage my children to eat a balanced diet, I have had the opportunity to taste test the brownies with spinach and also pancakes with broccoli, carrot and pumpkin hidden in the batter. They weren't bad!
My friend brought some samples over to my house today for us to try. Dd1 (12) gave the brownies 8/10, dds 2 &3 (10 & 7) gave them 10/10. For some reason my son (4) refused to taste... maybe he sensed that something was going on!
As for the pancakes which were rolled with Nutella inside, dd2's verdict was, "A gazillion stars. Auntie is so good at cooking." Dd3 said, "Amazing, 10/10." My son finished 2 pancakes so I think that speaks louder than words.
I still stand by my opinion that food is a journey of discovery and we should continue to offer vegetables to our children a second, third, fourth time and they will soon find some vegetables that they enjoy and will happily eat.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Please try this fun website: Free Rice which is the sister site of Poverty.com.
You will be given a word and a choice of 4 definitions... choose the definition which most closely fits the given word. For each correct word, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. You can play for as long as you like and as often as you wish so there will be the added benefit of improving your vocabulary. There are 55 vocabulary levels although the website says that 48 is normally the highest level attained... I have managed to reached level 46 (without cheating).
It's a cool website that really does donate rice to the UN program and this is achieved through advertising revenue. Read more in the site FAQ.
Have fun and let me know how you do!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Malik related to me from al-Walid ibn Abdullah ibn Sayyad that al-Muttalib ibn Abdullah ibn Hantab al-Makhzumi informed him that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه و سلم , "What is backbiting?" The Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه و سلم, said, "It is to mention about a man what he does not want to hear." He said, "Messenger of Allah! Even if it is true?" The Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه و سلم , said, "If you utter something false, then it is slander." [Muwatta]
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger, صلى الله عليه و سلم ,as saying: Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions) said: Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like. It was said to him: What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbited him, and if that is not in him it is a slander. [Muslim]
Al-Hasan al-Basrî said: “Backbiting has three manifestations, all of which are discussed in Allah’s Book. They are: backbiting, tale-telling, and slander. As for backbiting, it is to say about your brother something that is true about him. Tale-telling is to say something that you have heard about him. Slander is to say about him what is not true.” 1
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle, صلى الله عليه و سلم , as saying: The servant (who conceals) the faults of others in this world, Allah would conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection. [Muslim]
O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful. [Qur'an 49:12]
`A’ishah relates that she said to the Prophet, صلى الله عليه و سلم , : “It should tell you enough about Safiyyah that she is short.”To this he replied: “You have said a word that if it was to be mixed with the water of the sea, it would contaminate it.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2502) and Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4875)]
Isn't reverse psychology great?! Especially when it comes to children. One of the things I have not noticed my eldest daughter eating much of is prawns but today as part of our evening meal I made prawn cocktail salad (lettuce, prawns and cocktail dressing). She saw it in the fridge and asked what it was so I told her and insisted that she wouldn't like it. She asked if she could try anyway so I told her "Of course, but it's my favourite and you won't like it!" There was a challenge for her! I think she took a taste determined to like it just to prove me wrong and for once my tactics worked and she went back for more... and more! Alhamdu Lillah.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The jinns in Islam and protection from them
I was pointed in the direction of this article today which made for very interesting reading. Jinns are very real and are part of the Creation of Allah عز و جل :
It is of paramount importance that we should make dhikr of Allah عز و جل in order to protect ourselves and our children from any evil jinns and shayateen. Following is a list I have compiled of ways in which to protect ourselves from the evil jinns and shayateen, (methods which are mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah) :
And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship me. I seek not any provision from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me. Verily, Allah is the All-provider, Owner of Power - Most Strong" (Qur'an 51:56)
• Reciting the following words from the Qur'an:
Say: ‘My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings
(suggestions) of the shayaateen (devils). And I seek refuge with You, my Lord,
lest they may attend (or come near) me.’ [al-Mu’minoon 23:97-98]
• Saying, a'oothoo billahi min ash-shaytanir rajeem - I seek refuge in Allah from shaytan, the outcast. [Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood]
• Calling adhan [Muslim, Bukhari]
Abu Hurairah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم saying: "Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Satan runs away from the house in which Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.''[Muslim].
• Reciting La ilaha illa'llah, wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu'l mulku wa lahu'l hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay'in qadir 100 times a day:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Sumayy, the mawla of Abu Bakr, from Abu Salih as-Samman from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم said, "Whoever says 'There is no god but Allah, alone, without any partner. The Kingdom and praise belong to Him and He has power over everything' (La ilaha illa'llah, wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu'l mulku wa lahu'l hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay'in qadir) one hundred times a day, it is the same for him as freeing ten slaves. One hundred good actions are written for him and one hundred wrong actions are erased from him, and it is a protection from Shaytan for that day until the night. No-one does anything more excellent than what he does except someone who does more than that." [Muwatta]
• Reciting Ayat al-Kursi )2:255):
Narrated Muhammad bin Sirin: Abu Huraira said, "Allah's Apostle صلى الله عليه و سلم put me in charge of the Zakat of Ramadan (i.e. Zakat-ul-Fitr). Someone came to me and started scooping some of the foodstuff of (Zakat) with both hands. I caught him and told him that I would take him to Allah's Apostle." Then Abu Huraira told the whole narration and added "He (i.e. the thief) said, 'Whenever you go to your bed, recite the Verse of "Al-Kursi" (2.255) for then a guardian from Allah will be guarding you, and Satan will not approach you till dawn.' " On that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, "He told you the truth, though he is a liar, and he (the thief) himself was the Satan." [Muwatta]
• Making du'a before entering the lavatory:
Anas reported that Rasool ul Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم on entering the lavatory used to say: O Allah! I seek refuge with You from devils –male and females (or offensive and wicked deeds or spirits).” (Allahumma inni a‘udhu bika minal khubthi wal
khabaa’ith) [Bukhari, Muslim]
• Making du'a before removing clothing:
Anas reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, "The barrier between the eyes of the Jinn and the nakedness of the Children of Adam is [created] when a Muslim discards a garment and says, 'In the name of Allah besides Whom there is no other god'." [Ibn As-Sinni, Tirmidhi]
• Making du'a for your children:
Ibn ‘Abaas related that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم used to commend Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn to Allaah’s protection, saying: ‘I commend you two to the protection of Allaah’s perfect words from every devil, beast, and every evil eye.’ (U’eethukumma bikalimaati taamati min kulli shaytanin wa ham-matin wa min kulli aynil laama )
In addition to the above we should remember to make du'a before sleeping and upon waking, before eating, when entering and leaving the house and when entering and leaving the mosque.
Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم as saying: When a person enters his house and mentions the name of Allah at the time of entering it and while eating the food, Satan says (addressing himself): You have no place to spend the night and no evening meal; but when he enters without mentioning the name of Allah, the Satan says: You have found a place to spend the night, and when he does not mention the name of Allah while eating food, he (the Satan) says: You have found a place to spend the night and evening meal. [Muslim]May Allah bless and protect His servants, ameen.
Monday, February 11, 2008
This second video from Youtube is one of my kid's all time favourites. I mean favourites. They not only memorised the words but also the different voices so they even mimic the lady asking, "Our calendar, the one we use in Islam, does it go by the sun or the moon?" "The mooooooon"
It's a cute song with a cute video to accompany.
Relying on men
It's times like today when I feel so irked about having to rely on men. My husband is overseas on business, the kids are on school holidays so I decided it would be nice to get us all out of the house for the morning by going on the compound bus to the Mamlaka shopping mall. Yes, I know there is an almost brand spanking new car sitting outside the front of my house and the keys in the cabinet but being a woman in Saudi means the car will have to stay sitting outside the front of my house until the hubby gets back from his trip!
Sooooo... we got on the bus this morning, the shop-ping bus, notice the word 'shopping'. There were me, my 5 kids and a couple of other ladies. The driver is new and was taking a bit of a round and about route but we didn't really think anything of it until he started making a u-turn in an odd place... it was at that point that we realised the guy was taking us to the Mamlaka hospital! Purleeze! Even after after our protests he seemed a bit surprised that he was supposed to be taking us to the Mamlaka mall not the Mamlaka hospital. Eventually we arrived at the correct location.
After taking the kids in a few shops and getting them lunch we went outside to meet the driver. There had been two buses coming from our compound, I saw driver A (not the one we came with) and got the telephone number of driver B so I could phone him and confirm that he was coming shortly. When he came the bus was full. Ladies who had been on the bus A for some reason were on this bus... no room for 6 more.
So, I phone the compound gate to tell them what happened and I am told that they will send another bus. Not quite sure what happened after that, just breakdown of communications it seems. Three more phone calls to the compound and 45 minutes later we are still waiting outside the mall... I eventually get through to the compound manager who tells me he'll send someone right away... hmm, but I was told someone was coming 45 minutes ago!
Fortunately my kids managed to amuse me with their silliness on the bus back so I wasn't nearly as livid as I should have been when we finally arrived home. I did speak to the manager about the whole palaver but was very polite. I think we'll just stay in tomorrow.
If only women were permitted to drive in this country...
Saturday, February 9, 2008
The big move...
So, I was in the UK with my 4 children: 8 year old (dd1), 6 year old (dd2), 3 year old (dd3) and 4 week old (ds) minus my husband trying to get everything sorted out for our big move. Just 3 days after my son was born I had to drive myself to the register office to register his birth so I could get the birth certificate as quickly as possible so I could apply for his passport so I could apply for the family visa for Saudi Arabia!
Boxes had to be packed and sent with the cargo company, other unneeded items had to be shifted to the loft, the house had to be cleaned from top to bottom ready for tenants and all odds and ends had to be tied up. All this with a newborn!
So my diary for the week beginning 9th February 2004 was like this:
Monday 9th Feb:
Drop 2 older girls a school
Drop younger daughter at pre-school
Phone Saudi Embassy in London
Phone cargo company
Collect some summer clothing I had ordered for kids
Get on with cargo packing, cleaning and sorting out
Collect kids from school
Take girls to swimming class
Tuesday 10th Feb:
Drop kids at school
Phone calls to.... cancel future swimming lessons, cancel dental appointment, cancel tv licence, arrange for gas, electricity and phone to be cut off at correct time and my account to be billed
More packing and cleaning
Wednesday 11th Feb:
Drop kids at school
Wait for health visitor to come and weigh and check my newborn
Wait for company to come and steam clean sofas and beds
Meantime pack some more, laundry too
Collect kids from school
Thursday 12th Feb:
Drop kids at school
Take my baby to hospital for BCG vaccination
Packing, laundry etc
More phone calls - council, Inland Revenue, water company, visa company
Friday 13th Feb:
Drop kids at school
Wait for cargo company to come and collect all the boxes that had taken up residence in my lounge
Postnatal appointment with dr
Collect swimming lesson refund from leisure centre
Collect kids from school
Saturday 14th Feb:
Friend of dh came to help me get unneeded items into loft
Go to buy new shoes for girls
Go to friend's house to say farewell
Sunday 15th Feb:
Drop kids at friend's house to play
Friend's mum came to help me clean, clean, clean.... I remember that this was the day that baby had a lot of colic so we had to take it in turns rocking him and singing to him.
Preparing some snacks for kids - I allowed the girls to invite 7 friends for a small 'goodbye' party
The day we had to leave the house at 3am for the airport was such a huge relief! We had spent almost 3 months without my husband, he had not seen his newborn son and I desperately needed my much deserved postnatal relaxation period.
Our flight was at 6:15am and we had a 5 hour transit in Frankfurt. The trouble with that was, we had to stay sitting almost the whole time because dd2's new shoes were rubbing so she couldn't walk! Aaargh! Eventually we boarded the onward flight to Riyadh with much trepidation. Alhamdu Lillah Allah made it easy for us... dd3 slept almost instantly; dd1 and dd2 kept themselves amused with the inflight entertainment and slept when they were tired, the baby slept most of the way and since the flight was virtually empty I was able to lay him on the seats next to me and enjoy the flight myself a little. The Lufthansa staff were wonderful and did all they could to help.
It was very late when we finally arrived at the King Khalid International airport, Riyadh Saudi Arabia and a whole new chapter of our lives was about to begin...
Friday, February 8, 2008
Spinach Fudge Brownies anyone??
A friend phoned me yesterday and exitedly told me about a new book she has been reading called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. The wife of the comedian Jerry Seinfeld has brought out a book of recipes incorporating purees of vegetables such as beetroot, pumpkin, carrot and spinach. In the book you'll find simple ways of slipping veggies into macaroni and meatloaf but you'll also find recipes for desserts such as Spinach and Carrot Brownie. Yum... or perhaps not.
I felt cynical from the start... how much nutritional benefit from the vegetables can there be in a mere slice of cake or Brownie that contains a total of 1 cup of vegetable puree and what vitamin content will remain in the cake once the vegetable has been steamed or baked, then pureed and then baked in the cake once again??
The same goes for the chicken nuggets dipped in broccoli puree that she shows how to make. Each nugget will have a very thin coating of broccoli once cooked so it seems really pointless and a waste of time from my point of view.
I feel that there are far better and effective ways of slipping vegetables into the family food without going to such lengths and I expect the addition of the vegetables to enhance the flavour of the food rather than being covered up by the strong taste of another ingredient as proposed by Jessica.
I like to make vegetable soups (pureed) quite frequently and find that my children will quite happily eat Butternut Squash soup with some fresh crusty bread but they wouldn't consider eating butternut squash when I roast it with the chicken... it's all about presentation and honesty. The children don't like whole squash but enjoy it as a soup and they know that as a soup they enjoy it. I don't need to try to fool them into eating things.
I find that grating some courgette (zucchini) and carrot into rice before cooking and adding some spices is a nice way of adding veggies to the meal and makes the rice tastey.
Shorba - the national soup of Algeria, my husband's country -contains a reasonable amount of vegetables and is exceptionally tastey and the children enjoy it.
As mentioned in this article, the whole idea of pureeing veggies and slipping them into our children's 'junk' meals (cakes, brownies, chicken nuggets) gives out completely the wrong message. We will find ourselves encouraging the kids to have another slice of cake simply because "It's good for you" and we will not bother to reinforce the idea of a healthy balanced diet.
"Philosophically and practically, this is not really an effective approach. It will not develop an appreciation of the flavors, textures, and interests of various vegetables, which is what you should try to do by introducing them over and over again until they catch on." - Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and author of What to Eat.
If you have enough vegetables on offer on a weekly basis there are bound to be at least one or two vegetables that the children will find to their taste. My 4 older children have turned into salad freaks and they love lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers... that has to be a good start! One of my daughters loves sweetcorn with her tuna and mayo in a sandwich. The four of them were crazy about broccoli at one point... to the point that if anyone looked away from their plate my son would steal the broccoli off their plate.
I will continue to make stews and other dishes with 2 or 3 vegetables in and encourage them to try different things. If they don't like the turnip in the cous cous stew at least they will enjoy the carrot. One of my girls recently discovered that long green beans are actually quite nice.
Food is a journey of discovery from the outset and I am still on that journey myself trying new things and I don't think I will be forking out the 100 Riyals for Jessica's book. You won't find any spinach in the chocolate cake in this house but I will be happy to add a little feta to the spinach and make it into a toasted sandwich.