Friday, December 27, 2013


Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Exposure is a POWERFUL thing. It can cause dissatisfaction, greed, misery, materialism, divorce, corruption, and great haraam. However, handled with care and forethought, exposure is the key to positive outcomes, halal pursuits, and pleasure in the most simple things.

Part of the reason children like the things they do is simply due to exposure. If they are exposed to TV, music, video games, amusement parks, and shopping as forms of recreation, then they will be the things they choose from, along with the things they have seen through those media. You will find them constantly wanting the things they have seen advertised or in the shop windows. You will find them often inactive and considering Wii a viable form of sports.Rather than sit and talk face to face, they will communicate via the latest app, be it Whatsapp, Instagram or the ever present Facebook. Bad exposure results in parents hearing those awful words from their children, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do," because they always require entertainment from an external source.

However, when you expose your children to nature, playing in the park, making things out of mud, cooking, crafts, knitting, sewing, building things, growing things, physical activities and games, pretend role playing, and reading to learn about real people, places, and situations, you will find them choosing from those things as forms of recreation.The larger their repertoire of skills, abilities, intellectual and physical outlets, the more healthy, balanced, and competent they will be. Good exposure results in parents finding that their children are never bored; rather they don't have time to do all the different things they'd like to do.

When we were preparing for a trip to Makkah to meet up with my oldest friend and her family, my 7 and 10 year old daughters got out their knitting book and knitted a handbag and a phone cover for her youngest daughter - my namesake - Mai. They also knitted a purse for her older sister. We made them gifts of homemade coco-mint lip balm and honey and orange body bars. I baked them brownies. They don't think about having money to buy gifts for others, they think about what they can make - a gift made with love and thought and real effort on their part, maashaa Allah.

Exposure is something that can be done on a larger scale when socializing with other families, too. We went to the park and had knitting lessons. We had a monthly girls gathering where we cooked something healthy and delicious. We crafted rag rugs. We had theme nights where everyone dressed "prairie" and we cooked prairie food and learned about life back then for the pioneers.

I talk about my eating philosophy with friends and acquaintances, but it is never simply that. I feed them. I show them that you can eat halaal, tayyibaat, truly healthy and nutritious food that tastes wonderful, without compromise. I expose them to foods that are simple to make, so if they say they love them, I can give them the recipe and they can make it themselves easily with few ingredients.

Exposure is also da'wah. In sharing my thoughts and struggles publicly, I expose others to a positive approach to life's tests. I can expose them to better knowledge and understanding of Allah and His Perfection,  and how that can be applied in real-life situations, bi idhn Illah ta'ala.

So, consider the power of exposure, and seek not only to expose others to good and positive things, but also to ensure that you are being exposed to beneficial things... for this life and your ultimate success in the aakhirah inshaa Allah.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oatmeal Skin Scrub....

Bism Illah.

A dear friend made some orange, almond, and oatmeal skin scrub while house sitting for us one summer, maashaa Allah. The recipe is below.

Orange peels, Almonds & Oatmeal scrub

A fresh smelling and skin rejuvenating scrub
What do you need:
  • 1 cup dried Orange peels
  • 1 cup Oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoon finely ground Almonds
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Orange essential oil

How to do it:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix them well Take some of this mix in your hand and add some warm water to make a paste
Rub it onto your clean skin and gently massage to exfoliate in circular motions. Then wash it off with alternately cold and warm water and end with a splash of cold; pat your skin dry with a clean towel. 


That scrub is very soothing and moisturizing for the skin, but I found a few other uses for it.

As it is simply ground orange peel, oatmeal, and almonds - all perfectly good food - I threw some into muffins one morning. When asked what kind of muffins they were, I said, "Face scrub muffins." That really turned heads, LOL.A few months later I was on a soda bread making binge and thought to myself, "Oooh, an orange, almond, and oat soda bread might be lovely with a bit of butter and cream!" So out came the face scrub again...and as the children were tasting the fragrant, warm soda bread they asked, "What did you put in this soda bread, Mummy?" to which I answered, "Face scrub!"

Well, it just so happens that their father was not present on these occasions. However, this morning when I had the idea to make some orange spice oatmeal for breakfast, hubby ventured to try some and looked rather discomfited when I told him that I used face scrub to flavor it.

That's the beauty of natural living; you can eat your beauty products! That's why I didn't panic when my then 9 month old baby bit into the honey and orange lotion bars I recently made...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Few Healing Strategies for Children

Bism Illah

We advocate children being educated so they can take an active and leading role in their personal healing - spiritually, mentally, and physically. To that end, I have posted about parenting audits, the daily account, the parenting hotline, strategies for anger management, self control, and repentance, to name a few. However, two things came up in the past month that are valuable healing strategies for children.

My 10 year old daughter suggested one afternoon that they make up a list of their faults or deficiencies that were displeasing to Allah and work on correcting three of them each month.Their lists were varying lengths and, as parents, we might have added and deleted a couple of things, but we stayed quiet. A simple mention at the end of each month for them to review their list and see if it needs any adjustments may eventually cover anything missed inshaa Allah. As we are nearing the end of this month, the girls were discussing their progress and my daughter said, "I can't wipe all three off my list - I only managed to correct one of the things." However, that is most certainly a step in the right direction and most importantly they are aware and taking control of their self-improvement, maashaa Allah.

Another healing strategy came through Umm Mujaahid's Guide at the Crossroads class for sisters. She had a competition where sisters were to write an essay stating the specific struggles they were facing in their life situation, research what the Qur'aan, Sunnah, and ijmaa said about those struggles, and put forth possible solutions. My daughters jumped up in excitement at this and immediately said they wanted to write an essay. It had nothing to do with the competition, but simply completing such a positive exercise and sharing a part of themselves with my closest sister of the heart, maashaa Allah.

Both of these have proven to be excellent strategies that empower them to find ways to heal themselves, maashaa Allah. In addition, we presented a list of questions to the girls (it was really for the older one, but all of them wanted to answer, LOL) regarding marriage. This was the first in a series we plan to present that will foster thought and introspection on their part about major issues in their lives and also give us insight into their individual minds and situations, inshaa Allah.

We also have plans to make a set of cards, each with a specific parental challenge regarding raising, educating, and correcting children. They will pick a card at random and write out their suggested strategies or solutions to those challenges. Often, looking at a situation from the parent's perspective can foster far better understanding, cooperation, and communication - and truly all success lies with Allah!

The Parenting "Nothing"

Bism Illah

Our children will, at times, raise very pertinent points that bring about thought and rectitude for us as paremts. One such instance was when my daughter said that sarcasm sounded like lying, because you say something that is a lie, meaning the opposite. Very astute, maashaa Allah, and a good reminder for many of us who come from cultural backgrounds where sarcasm is a norm. Children can help us realize that we are still hanging on to habits that have no place in Islam,

Another thing, even more common I believe, is the parenting "nothing." You know, when you are clearly upset, disturbed, or not yourself and they ask what's wrong and you say, "Nothing." Well, yet again, my daughter said that if we ask what's wrong and they say, "Nothing," we tell them off for lying. However, we do the same thing. I gave this some thought and realized this was one of those doors that had opened to improve me, to heal a sickness I had not been aware of. That said, there are many things that we, as parents or as adults in authority, don't want or need to share with our children. They may be inappropriate, untimely, above their level, or simply nothing to do with them. To remedy this, I have changed my response to something more specific. I say, "Nothing that I can share with you right now," or, "Nothing that should concern you,." or even, "Nothing that I want to (or will) talk about because I don't want to speak out of anger." Not only are these answers more complete, they are honest. In addition, they can be used as a platform to model when it is good to remain silent.

While there are some behaviors and actions that must be addressed immediately, often we learn the hard way that it is best to wait until the initial "knee-jerk" reaction time passes and become calm and clear headed before responding. We have practiced this many times and in controlling our immediate reactions, we manage to save ourselves the regret of perhaps speaking or acting out of anger. It also gives us time to formulate a approach or response that will be more effective and bring about positive change, inshaa Allah.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Purifying Planting

How does planting heal us and the earth? Planting is purifying.

Allah says in Surat-ul-'Abasa:

Then let mankind look at his food -
How We poured down water in torrents,
Then We broke open the earth, splitting [it with sprouts],
And caused to grow within it grain

It is Allah, alone, the Creator and Sustainer, Who causes things to grow. If we want our crops to grow, we need to ask Allah. In asking anything of Allah, we must make sure that we open the door to our du'a being accepted by purifying our intentions. We cannot ask of our Creator, while in a state of disobedience to Him. We cannot ask of our Creator for things that will harm us or displease Him. We cannot ask of our Creator for things while joining partners with Him - the All Knowing, the One Who has Power over all things. So in seeking sustenance and planting, we need to purify ourselves, heal the sicknesses inside us. We are pulled into a deep and true meaning of tawakkal (reliance on Allah for everything).

We plant -> we purify our intentions -> we ask Allah to grow the plants -> our du'a are accepted-> Allah grows our food -> provides us with plants for nourishment and healing illnesses -> provides life giving oxygen and purifies the air we breathe -> provides different balancing minerals and nutrients to the earth -> we thrive on it -> are able to worship Allah -> and purify our intentions....
It is a cycle of purifying perfection, al hamdul'Illahi Rabbil aal ameen!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

 Al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi said:

صلاح خمسة في خمسة صلاح الصبي في المكتب وصلاح الفتى في العلم وصلاح الكهل في المسجد وصلاح المرأة في البيت وصلاح المؤذي في السجن

The rectitude of five lie in five: The rectitude of a child lies in the study-room. The rectitude of a youth lies in (seeking and acquiring) knowledge. The rectitude of the mature, middle-aged man lies in the masjid. The rectitude of a woman is in her house. And the rectitude of one who harms others is in the prison.

Al-Siyar of al-Dhahabi (13/441).

People often ask me about homeschooling, and what we do for general and Islamic studies.Our weekends here in Saudi Arabia are now on Friday and Saturday, so our school week starts on Sunday and goes through to Thursday. Our class consists of three girls: 13, 10, and 7 ... and a one-year-old baby boy, LOL.

General subjects of English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Health are done from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon each weekday, with a break from 9:50 - 10:10 a.m. While our 7-year-old is working through a curriculum we made up from various sources for a 5th grade level, our 10 and 13 year old are both in Keystone Online School. The elective subjects are manageable, so they don't have to do subjects that go against our Islamic principles. If the assignments present some conflict, then a simple note in the comment box about how they worked around it or seeking approval for an alternative approach from the teacher sets things right, maashaa Allah. An example would be my daughter's social studies assignment where she was meant to pretend she went back in a time machine to colonial South America and report on what life was like there. She wrote about it in a reporting fashion, did not mention anything about a time machine or fictitious elements, and typed in the comment box that she could not tell lies, so had tried to show that of the subject was complete while excluding anything that would entail lying. Al hamdul'Illah, the teacher was fine with it and she got full marks.There are reading lists for each grade, and maashaa Allah, there are books on the list that are auto-biographies, biographies, and many based on true events. We actually found excellent books on the lists that we would like our children to read, maashaa Allah.

There is a break from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for salaat-udh-dhuhr and lunch, then Islamic studies from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. Twice a week, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. they have a gym class with "Daddy."

This is how our Islamic studies curriculum looks this year.

Sunday: Reading from My Advice to the Women byUmm Abdillaah al-Waadi'iyyah with discussion and supplementary materials, Qur'aan.

Monday:   40 Hadeeth Quiz on the hadeeth learned the previous week, Al Waajibaat lesson, online Arabic and Qur'aan lesson

Tuesday: Tajweed with homework assignment, Qur'aan

Wednesday: 40 Hadeeth, learning new hadeeth in Arabic and English with audio explanation and it's written explanation, Qur'aan

Thursday: Biography of a scholar lessons with essay test for each, online Arabic and Qur'aan lesson.

Our children must know their Creator, Allah, and understand everything in the context of it being His Creation and His Will. They will find healing in the knowledge they gain and an ever deepening love and awe for Allah and this perfect religion through their focused and specialized education, inshaa Allah.