Sharing ideas and thoughts…one note at a time.
Here is a free PDF coloring page for you to share with any little ones you know!
I know I have been extremely inconsistent posting but that only means more things to share with you in the near future!
Thanks for your patience.
Pass, share, and enjoy!
So I am finally announcing who the illustrator is for my children’s book…
Please, please check out her portfolio; she is truly a talented and friendly person to work with.
She has been amazing so far with her work and is doing an excellent job capturing the story’s main themes and elements.
Here is the finished cover art:
What do you think?!
We will also be having a pre-order website coming soon so please be on the lookout for that!
ALSO, I will be doing a giveaway sometime this week for the book so watch out for that as well!
More updates coming soon!
Walnut and Date Oatmeal
This is a really healthy and energetic oatmeal that is easy and delicious to make! The amount of toppings is up to the oatmeal-eater so here it is:
Cook oatmeal according to package instructions.
Add milk, walnuts, flax seeds, maple syrup, and chopped walnuts.
What do you like to add to your oatmeal?
I have been working on a book project for a while and here is the sneak peek for it!
It is going to be a children’s series and this is the first book!
This is one sketch and I cannot wait for the final art!
Please forgive me for not posting but I plan to be better at that soon…
What do you think?!
Blessings. We all possess them. Sometimes we notice them like a hair on a sweater and in other moments, our eye does not catch a particular blessing even though the sun’s rays are piercing right through it.
Blessings are sometimes physical, like overcoming cancer or becoming someone’s new friend. They are at times mental and emotional, where we have learned a life lesson or gained a new insight, an experience, and an epiphany.
Our hearts naturally turn warm and serene when the word blessing is uttered. But the problem most of us have is grasping onto the belief that blessings are newborn babies, yellow voile curtains, or a halo cautiously hanging over a specific event or happening.
Many blessings are actually cold, burdensome, dark, and musty.
They sometimes give us an aftertaste. It may be when a life is lost to the one we have loved. It may be realizing a flaw about someone or ourselves we care about and the pedestal we had put the person on or the pedestal we were sitting on has crumbled- rarely do we give perspective a chance and view such instances as blessings.
This package, this gift called a “blessing” may not be the gift we want or are aspiring to have but it is the water that we need in order for us to grow and prosper in our lives.
What are your thoughts on blessings?
I apologize for being behind but I have not forgotten you!
I have made dessert for you all to enjoy!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Shred the fillo dough and mix it with melted butter until all shreds are coated with butter.
3. Layer half of the shreds in a glass baking dish.
4. Layer with ricotta cheese and cover the top of the fillo dough.
5. Add the shredded mozzarella over the ricotta cheese and use the second half of the shredded fillo dough over the mozzarella.
6. Bake until everything melts and it is brown on top and sides.
7. Turn on broiler and cook the top of the kanafe BUT DO NOT LEAVE it unattended! So many times I thought I would be quick and catch the kanafe on time but the kanafe had black hair when I came back to it. Make sure it has nice golden brown hair.
8. On the stovetop melt the sugar, water, and rosewater (a few capfuls) until it melts and the syrup can glaze the back of the spoon. Sometimes I have it watery, whatever. To me it really does not matter.
9. When the kanafe is done, serve it and drizzle the syrup or pour it over the entire dish.
Some put cranberries, raisins, and coconut in the kanafe, but be warned, this is my version. Enjoy!
These are super easy to make but very time-consuming when it comes to stamping out every fish! They are fun to do with kids and family. I got the recipe here. I used Monterey Cheese and whole wheat flour instead of some all-purpose mixed with the whole wheat. Tasted really great! This is a quick post but more on the way!
ready to eat
To be honest, I was trying to look for what this dish is called but could not really find it. However, I did learn this from a Syrian gal and was amazed how simple and really delicious it is to make!
1 lb. of labnah (basically really condensed yogurt…all the water is evaporated) can be found in any Middle Eastern store
lots and lots of parsley (flat or the curly looking one)
half an onion chopped finely (green or white, doesn’t matter)
lots of walnuts
extra virgin olive oil
1. Pour out the entire contents of the labnah into a large bowl.
2. Food process the parsley, onions, and walnuts separately. Make sure the walnuts are not too fine. Also all of this can be done by hand but will take longer.
3. Fold into the labnah and add salt. Distribute all the ingredients well.
4. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and serve with warm pita, crackers, use as a spread in a sandwich, chips, on cucumbers or bite-sized vegetables…be creative!
What would you eat it with?
At the same time, we should not be suffocated into thinking of hopelessness and dread so much so that it deters our way of life but to use fear as a guide and scale for our priorities and goals: to serve and do what Allah wants us to do, and maintain as much distance from things that mislead us into the flaming pits.
Being afraid of the Fire and trying to abstain from actions and thoughts that lead to its door is part of our faith and ibaada.
Ibaada is worshipping Allah and one form of this is by abstaining from things that Allah does not like.
This Fire is reserved for the disbelievers and Allah does not want us to be residing amongst them.
Our fear should be primarily consumed with Allah and His greatness; His overall power on us as servants, as He is Al-Mulk of the worlds and universe.
“The Sovereign of mankind.” (114:2)
We worry much for what others say and do. Our minds are all entwined with what books dictate and what the media wants us to think.
Everything in this life is perishable except our intentions and deeds but how little time we spend on spinning this concept into our minds.
Punishments and hell are things that we need to contain our thoughts with.
In Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 281: “And fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.”
Allah is an All-Just ruler and everyone will be treated for what they deserve.
Our Lord wants us fear the Day of Judgment so we can be the best Muslims we can be.
This fear is not a negative attribute but something that is required for us in our deen if we are to be successful and be one of the righteous.
To be a believer, one must lose the fear in this dunya with its lures and deceits and place that fear where it belongs.
It is Allah’s property and we should return it to Him with conviction and have an unwavering desire to submit to His commands.
Let the swirling abyss be made up of worldly goods, speech, emotions, and evil.
“But yes, whoever fulfills his commitment and fears Allah – then indeed, Allah loves those who fear Him.” (3:76)
So overdue but so here!
onion and garlic powder
(a spoon of olive oil, just enough to moisten the meat)
1. Add all the ingredients to the ground beef in a mixing bowl except the sumac and knead the meat well.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet and roll out the meat into small kabobs.
3. Cook on both sides until meat inside is not red.
4. Sprinkle some sumac over the mini kabobs.
Eat with sliced lemons, warm pita bread, fattoush, and garlic or cucumber yogurt.
I apologize for not having posted the Mini Kabob recipe yet! I will do it as soon as I can! But for now David is back with more tips and great advice for going beyond just snapping pics on your own.
My last post was just a starting point and I didn’t want to overwhelm you with too many tips or info. Let us look at some more steps you can take to improve your photography.
Get to know other creatives. Join a camera club, or if you’re unable to join a club, engage other photographers in conversation online. You can meet a lot of nice photographers through blogs or websites like Flickr. Send them an email and start up a conversation. You just might make a friend who will let you pick their brain a bit. They’ll be even more inclined to talk to you if you share some knowledge or experience too.
Not ready to spend any money? Start out at digital-photography-school.com/. It’s a great resource where you can find almost anything.
Another great free resource is the local library or bookstore. You can walk into any large bookstore and read all the latest photography and photoshop magazines for free. Even local libraries may carry a few photography magazines worth checking out. I used to take notes or pictures of the magazine on my iphone so I could try out new techniques when I got home.
Go to a workshop. Yes, they can be expensive, but you can learn so much in a day at a workshop, and you can network with other photographers there. I do have to add that its very important you choose a workshop that suits your skill level. A beginner is going to struggle in a more advanced setting, and if you take a class that’s below your level, you won’t pick up many useful tips and you’ll probably be bored. If you do go to a workshop, make sure you’ve read your manual a few times and know your way around your camera so you can get the most out of the class.
If you can’t afford a workshop, there are a few websites that offer excellent videos. Kelby Training and lynda.com are both great. Kelby offers 75 24-hour free trials everyday that will give you access to all of their videos.
If you feel like you’re talented and ready to take photography beyond a hobby, look for a mentor. Call local photographers and ask if they are looking for an assistant. If you do attend a workshop, stick around afterwards and ask the photographer running the class if they’re looking for an assistant. I have to warn that not everyone wants an assistant, and some people don’t pay very much, if at all. But, you will be paid in knowledge of how the photography business works and how a professional approaches their craft.
We fear so many things. We forget to fear the most important thing we should fear and that is Allah. Why is it so important to have our hearts quiver in His remembrance?
Image courtesy of Tim Jarosz
INFOCUS NEWS JULY 2010
written by Mariam Al-Kalby
Fear is an emotion lurking in each of us whenever we feel threatened.
We fear of losing our jobs, our families, and our homes.
Scared of dying alone, of being paralyzed, of being ostracized.
But how many of us actually sincerely fear Allah and His punishments?
As humans, we are created for fear because it prevents us from committing wrong actions or thoughts and it creates a barrier from approaching things that can hurt us.
We see evidence of this when we first took our wobbly steps. We reached out for the teakettle and got our fingers licked with fire and from then we fear the heat.
As we got older, we feared losing the soccer game or getting our parents disappointed when we got a lesser grade then we had hoped for on our chemistry test.
Then there is the time to find someone to marry. Our worries swallow that ticking clock, creating a ringing that time is escaping and all the marriageable types are taken.
And there is the time when we will have wrinkles of days, weeks, and years etched into our skin.
Lips drooping at the sides of our mouth, wondering and fearing that we didn’t make enough money to make a big house for the grandkids, and that we didn’t hold the best Ramadan iftar.
These worries are tears for the dunya and not the akhirah.
Life is a sailboat floating to its destination towards the hereafter.
This feeling of alarm and angst should be steered towards the punishments that come if we anger Allah.
“And fear the Fire, which has been prepared for the disbelievers.” (3:131)
Of course it is normal to feel fear of worldly situations and events but we have drenched all of our worries in this obsession and have forgotten to have fear in our hearts for the trials and the day we will be judged for our intentions and actions.
This should encourage us to perform them because they differentiate us from the hypocrites and prove we are truly believers; to forgo our sleep and worldly affairs to press our heads on the floor in thanks is beneficial and loved by Allah (swt).
How lazy and unthankful we are if we think about it: we complain about cold water dripping from our faces, the sleepiness that blinds our eyes, and the aches in our body yearning to lie and rest, and we, as believers, need to be ashamed of ourselves.
Allah (swt) has all authority and power.
He is the One that knows us the best.
Yet, He has made things accessible and easy for us to accomplish and yet we still cry and moan about it.
He could have made Fajr prayer four and not two but that is not enough for the sons of Adam (pbuh).
We are willing to rush to our jobs at the crack of dawn, comfort our babies at all hours of darkness, stay up late to study but when it comes to prostrate to the One who has provided everything for us slaves, we are an ungrateful bunch of creations.
Allah is Ar-Rahim and Al-Ghaffur; we sometimes oversleep, or are too sick to make it on time and there are exceptions and Allah’s (swt) ultimate mercy. But we overstep the bounds when we step all over our deen and regard our prayers as something to do when we have time.
How do we feel when we have appointments with others and people do not appear at their appointed time? We feel that they are rude, lazy, or think that they did not take the meeting seriously.
Sometimes we are stubborn enough to not forgive for this behavior.
Who are we to behave like this to Allah (swt), miss our appointed times to pray and disrespect Allah (swt) and His Messenger?
But we are lucky enough that Allah (swt) knows us, what is in our hearts, and forgives those He wants.
The irony of it all as believers is that Allah (swt) does need not anything and surely nothing from us. We are reluctant and slow to praying and this act only benefits us and no one else. Allah (swt) has ordered us to do good for our own benefit but we sometimes look the other way.
We are humans and we are weak, and Allah (swt) knows this.
Let us forsake our beds, sleep, and work and seek Allah’s (swt) pleasure into the gardens of Jannah.
I have some new recipes coming up, so be on the look out! For now I have posted an article and want you to think about what makes us do the things we do? What motivates us? What motivates you to pray on time?
Image courtesy of David Pasillas
Originally featured in IFN December 2010
Where the birds stir from their nests of twigs and yarn and fly out in search of filling their bellies, between the dawn and the rising of the sun kissing the sky, and where the careless burrow further beneath the covers of sleep and warmth, and where they work till their hands bleed, Fajr and Asr are the hours where the most pious congregate.
They are two of the most missed fard prayers that have swallowed our ummah.
This is unfortunate because these are prayers that separate a believer from a hypocrite.
What person awakens from their deep slumber to splash cold water to make ablution and perform a prayer whilst others sleep?
A devoted and strong believer.
Abu Zuhair ‘Umarah Ruwaibah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: “He who performs Salat (prayers) before the rising of the sun and before its setting will not enter Hell.” (Muslim)
This does not mean that this is the only condition to enter Jannah.
One who dutifully cares and observes these particular important prayers (Fajr and Asr), demonstrates that the believer also practices in observing other religious obligations and follows the sunnah.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “There are angels who take turns in visiting you by night and by day, and they all assemble at the dawn (Fajr) and the afternoon (‘Asr) prayers. Those who have spent the night with you ascend to the heavens and their Rab, Who knows better about them, asks: ‘In what condition did you leave My slaves?’ They reply: ‘We left them while they were performing Salat and we went to them while they were performing Salat.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Praying these two specific prayers are important and when we are steadfast and reliable in performing them, they surely go unnoticed by the angels and Allah (swt).
How great is it to have angels scribbling and reporting away to our Creator that we are prostrating for Him every time the angels descend upon us?
Fajr and Asr prayers are important prayers because of their difficulty to maintain them and to do them in their short prescribed time is an accomplishment and a break for us from toiling away in work and play.
I have invited for Laura to share her insight about the world of illustrating children’s books. She is an amazing artist whose talent and love for fun and whimsical colors and movement throughout her work brings much delight for all those who pick her books up.
Images courtesy of Laura Huliska-Beith
1. Can you give us some background info about yourself?
Born and raised in Nebraska, the oldest of five children. My siblings were BIG inspiration for my first picture book “The Book of Bad Ideas” (but I take full credit for Bad Idea # 143). I am a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, worked at a greeting card company for a while, and then set out on my own to explore the wild world of children’s books and visual story-telling. I also got married along the way to a wonderful guy who is also an artist (animator) and we now have 3 dogs.
2. What inspires you?
Kindness, humor, nature, young people, old people, middle aged people, animals, travel, movies, books, and music.
3. What do you do if you’re uninspired or have a lack of ideas?
I will look through my books, sketch at a coffee shop, or lately, I will paint without anything in mind; free-forming ,watching the paints mix with each other. It’s kind of meditative and will quite often lead to some discovery. OR I will do something completely different and not art related. Usually that means eat.
4. What’s your advice to others who would like to be an illustrator?
DRAW! And then draw some more. And observe, and then draw what you observe. And be prepared to do some crappy drawings! You have to do those to get to the good ones.
Also, be on the look-out for artist’s work you admire and ask yourself what it is about that work that inspires you, how they did what they did, and what their point of view is.
Keep yourself open to experimentation, but also, think about forming your own voice and visual language.
5. Name something not a lot of people know about you.
I used to be terrified of dogs.
6. What are your plans in the future for your work?
More writing, more life drawing, and more dimensional work. I have also enjoyed facilitating art workshops and talking with students at school visits so I would love to continue more of that.
7. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
Roughly, 2 or 3 months for sketches, and then 3 or 4 months for the finishes. (This is for illustrating a 32 page picture book)
8. What do you do to celebrate when you have finished a piece of work?
Ideally, road trip! If that’s not possible, a glass of wine will do.
9. What is the hardest thing about your job?
Since books are such long-term projects, keeping up the momentum is probably the most difficult… but I do enjoy the process and try to give each project its own unique look … with color, technique, the characters, and/or something within the layout.
10. What was the worst memory/experience you had when working?
Hmmmmmm….. well one summer our house became home to about 20 bats. They roosted in our chimney and then came in through the fireplace as well as the hot water heater in our basement. Every once in a while we’d wake up to a bat flying over our bed at night. I didn’t get much sleep that summer. And since my studio is in our attic, that gave a whole new meaning to “bats in the belfry.” We couldn’t remove the bats because they are protected by law in the state of Missouri, so we needed to wait until September to put a bat cap on our chimney. Since then, we have not had any bats, although one time, a bird made its way into my studio, and wouldn’t you know, it left a little poop on a sketch I was working on.
The truth is, all of my recipes here, well, I would rather make them for you then have to virtually share it. Right now I would love to give you a spoon and tell you, dig in, saha, and enjoy!
This is the closest I can get to you…here is a strawberry delight for you to enjoy and thanks, shukran, for visiting!
Yes I know it’s weird to use spaghetti for an Asian dish but it tastes really great and it doesn’t feel so unusual. The sesame seeds adds great texture and crunch.
I know some of you may not have Trader Joe’s so when I get the sauce, I’ll list the ingredients so you can still make this dish. I apologize: I ran out as I was making the noodles and forgot to save the bottle!
Enjoy! Black seeds are blessed…
We are more focused and honest in our prayers because the daily distractions are put to rest.
The people who get out of bed and make the effort to pray at night are doing it for Allah’s sake and not for show.
Our words are more thoughtful and precise because we are supplicating and we are in need.
It protects us from sins.
The doors are opened from the sky as Allah (swt) wants to shower the answers to our duaas and supplications.
Abu Umama al-Bahili (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” [Tirmidhi, and others] In some narrations, there is an addition, “And it repels sickness from the body.”
Night prayers are a personal and relaxing time with our Lord. It is where we can express all our concerns, worries, wishes, desires, anything without the fear of ridicule or humiliation. It is the ultimate time to set free our burdens. Allah (swt) has all the power and He can change and assist us in our woes.
Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) said, “The virtues of night prayer over day prayer is like the virtue of secret charity over open charity.” [Tabarani] The scholars explain that this refers to voluntary prayers.
Allah (swt) then believes that are our prayers are truly for His sake when we betray our beds for His guidance. Allah (swt) has praised those who wake up at night for His remembrance, supplication, and to seek forgiveness and entreat Him, saying,
“They forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid from them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.”[Qur’an, 32: 16-17]
Crying to Allah (swt) shows how weak and incapable we are as humans when we do not depend on Him. But when we turn our hearts and our prostrations in His favor, Allah (swt) will cast out our burdens and replace them with an eagerness to meet Him the next night.
And, ‘[The (faithful) servants of the Merciful are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish one address them answer: Peace;] And who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing…’ [Qur’an, 25: 63-64]
Image courtesy of Naouriz Inoubli
Image courtesy of David Pasillas
Originally published for IFN March 2011
It is with this sense of urgency I want the night to visit and befall on the house like a blanket over a sleeping child. I want to feel reassurance, guidance, and answers to calm my fluttering heart.
I am in a rush to converse with my Lord.
Making wudu extinguishes any anger in my heart and I ardently rush to my corner of the house and pray.
Tahajjud is the night vigil prayer.
It is a blessed time with the Creator: people sleep and all is quiet in the world where the sounds of the ocean splashing across the sands can be heard in the depths of the darkness.
Life is most clear when all has died down and I submit to Allah (swt).
My focus is heightened and my concentration more intact than when I normally perform my daily prayers. I am all for Allah (swt) and Allah (swt) is listening.
The closest time to be with Him is in the tahajjud prayer.
There is something powerful, sublime, and serene when prostrating during this time of night; a reassuring embrace sweeps my body and mind. A warmth that seeps through the layers of skin and into my soul. That is the power Allah (swt) can cast over us.
Allah Most High said, “Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for its recital, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised estate.” [Qur’an, 17: 78-79]
These specific prayers are respected and highly recommended. This is where people give their mind and hearts sincerely to Allah (swt). Reciting Qu’ran at that prescribed time is an act of sincerity and true submission.
No one is watching but Allah (swt) and His angels and this is when we want to have our actions recorded and acknowledged. He witnesses our heart’s vulnerability and candor.
Our concentration is not challenged and we are not distracted by our daily activities. It is not required to pray at this time of night but that is where some of the beauty lies.
Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]
Why is the night prayer seen in high esteem?
So, I gave you lots of time to think what it may be…it’s baba ghanoush!
2 large eggplants (cooked on grill or oven until soft and mashable)
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed! (depending on how garlicky you want it)
extra virgin olive oil
chopped parsley (fresh preferably but you can use dried)
1-2 cups of yogurt
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Today I have invited David to discuss with us how to put our brain in the mode for taking pictures and how to be creative with them. As you’ll see, David is talented and please make sure to visit his wonderful links! Welcome David!
Improving Your Photographic Eye and Creativity
A few years ago I decided I wanted to take photography seriously and get good enough to shoot weddings and sell landscapes. The tips in this post are some of the things that I believe helped me go form snapshots to art you want on your wall.
First things first, you have to want it badly enough. Carry your camera at all times and take pictures everyday if you can. A 365 project can be a great way to push yourself. I have to admit it’s not for everyone. I only made it to day 32 (or somewhere around there) on my first attempt. There are days when you just don’t feel creative and its hard to force yourself to shoot. Its ok to miss a day, but get back to shooting ASAP.
Next, you’ll need to share those photos online somewhere. Flickr is a nice little community for hobbyists and semi pro’s. You can expect the majority of the feedback to be encouraging, but lacking in constructive criticism unless you ask for it.
Take time everyday to look at amazing photographs. Heres the trick though, take time to really look at the images and think about what it is you like about them. Ask yourself what settings the photographer may have used or how they might have edited it. I have a few suggestions for people to follow on wordpress (see the links below.) I also highly recommend 500px.com. The quality of the popular images posted there are unmatched by any other photo sharing site. The good thing about 500px is you can usually see what the camera settings were on the images posted.
To me, one of the most important things to master in photography is composition. It’s so easy to learn if you have an iPhone. All you have to do is turn on your rule of thirds grid and use it to compose your images so the horizon is on either horizontal line and the points of interest are at the points where the grid lines intersect. The more you use this, the easier it will be for you to compose images with your DSLR.
Take mental notes and mental photographs. I’m always paying attention to the light no matter where I am. If I see something I like, I remember what time of day it is and what the light was like. The more you pay attention to the light, the better you’ll get at anticipating what it will look like at different times of the day. Taking mental photographs is a great way to improve your photographic eye. While looking at a scene, think about how you would compose it, what angle you might shoot it from, what time of day, and so on.
Remember how I said you should take pictures everyday? Seriously, take pictures everyday. Shoot a lot. When you feel like you’ve taken a lot of pictures, take some more. Try different apertures, shutter speeds, and perspectives of the same scene.
This is one of the most important things to becoming a better photographer, become your own editor. I’m not talking about post processing. I’m talking about knowing which image(s) to share. Don’t show all of them off. Only show the one you want on the cover of a magazine. By learning to cull your unsuccessful images, you will improve your eye and the quality of your work shared.
If you want to take your images to the professional level, you absolutely have to start shooting in RAW mode and learn to edit your images. Do you want the tiny processor in your camera editing for you, or do you want your beefy computer with lightroom or photoshop handling them? If your camera can do RAW+JPEG, start out with that while you get the hang of editing RAW files.
These are a few ways to improve your creativity:
• Play with children. They’re more creative than you by a longshot. Try to approach the world with a childlike wonder.
• Draw, paint, color, play an instrument. Look to other disciplines and experiment in combining concepts or styles.
• Study artists you admire.
• Take 500 pictures of a single object. Try making them different.
• Try different genres of photography.
Recommended photographers on WordPress
Image courtesy of Chris Weigand
As living souls, we are all looking for a connection, a bond, something to get attached to, to seek comfort in.
This is how we are and that is how Allah has made us. He has formed us this way in order for us to turn to Him and seek His guidance, help, and comfort.
But people lead different paths to find this connection and this sort of conversation to another higher power.
People may not think about it or intentionally seek this type of connection out but we all do in some way.
We have to whether we like it or not, no matter how we try to avoid it…or turn away.
Every single soul needs a connection and something to worship in order for it to survive and thrive in this dunya.
This is true because it is in our fitrah to seek something to fill the void of worship.
Everyone worships something but a lot of times people worship things without realizing it or the wrong/superficial/fickle things.
Our bodies and our minds have been created to worship but to whom and where to direct this necessity is where people differ.
For some it may celebrities.
Others, money and fame temporarily takes over their being.
Many of our souls have stumbled and sucked into worshipping our work, our children, our spouses, our homes, our cars.
People worship their hobbies and interests.
But we have been created to supplicate and prostrate to Allah only.
“I created man and jinn for no other purpose than to worship Me only.” (Dhariyat 51:56)
He does not need anything from us but we need Him.
All the praying, fasting, and the accumulation of good deeds we try to hoard in our baskets, well, we do it for His sake but it helps us in the end. It is for us.
Why would a Creator need anything from us?
It is the servants actually serving themselves when they embrace Allah and His commands.
When observing this photograph at the Western Wall, a prayer, a request, or a personal wish stuffed into crevices, Jews desperately searching and trying to have a continual conversation with God, an eagerness, a heightened fervor to reach the ultimate Power…
As Muslims, we are always conversing with our Creator.
For us, there is a sense of calm and serenity because we know He is listening. We are confident that He is there for us, even if at times our emaan is low, we know He is not far off.
The souls stuffing notes in the walls- they are seeking. It is not confirmed as to whether or not it has been reached to God.
For us, it has been reached and there is never a hesitation that He did not hear us, He is As-Sami.
He heard us before we even formed the feelings and words in our hearts.
Our conversation and worship of Allah comes in all sorts of forms but what is amazing is we can essentially talk to Him at any time.
He is always there, ever watchful, and the best of listeners.
We do not have to go out of our way to have this continual communication.
Allah does not want to burden his servants so He creates worship in an effortless way.
“Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you” (2:185).
As a Muslim, Allah makes it accessible to reach Him.
Whether it is through our daily prayers, du’ah, or just simply uttering words of praise in His favor, this is all considered our version of having this dialogue between the servant and His Creator.
Just the beating of our heart is enough to communicate our worldly fears and concerns to Him.
It is as simple as closing our eyes and listening to our heart and unshackling our words from the walls…
Allah is there. He is listening.
When and where do you converse with your Creator? Who and what do you worship? Why?
Toasted pita bread
Few drops of vinegar
Toasted slivered almonds
Extra virgin olive oil
Pomegranate seeds (optional)
It is a dish eaten warm or at room temperature.
If we have any leftover, we do eat it cold…told you it was easy!
Say Bismillah and share the goodness!
Watch out for this recipe on Friday!
It is a healthy and fast meal/side dish that is really easy to make…
Friday will be all about chickpeas, yogurt, and pita bread…
Warning: Be prepared for your stomach to expand when eating this dish. Elastic waistband is highly recommended.
Also check out my new article here about Da’wah and how every single one of us is doing it everyday…
Have a great one!
Image courtesy of Nora Elgalad
Why do we forget that Allah is our Master, our Higher authority, our Creator? Because as man, we are weak and we forget or get consumed with our daily activities and trials.
Our inabilities are as fragile and powerless, as though we are ants trying to carry a mountain on its shoulders.
But again we fall into the trap that we are self-relying and tougher than the shield of a knight.
As Muslims, we need to remember Allah.
Whatever emotions and events play out in our lives, we need to remember how small we are in front of Allah.
The parts we play in this life are given to us from the Creator and no matter how lost and astray we go from the path, all of us must return to Him on the Last Day.
There we will fully comprehend how insignificant we are in comparison to Allah and His attributes and there we will be judged as to how much we acknowledged this inevitable truth.
Children’s books are not only for children: they carry a deeper message for some of us.
Some message that we may have missed growing up. A moral, a tale, a story that enlightens the child’s mind, ignites an awakening of understanding…
As readers and knowledge seekers, it is a good idea to take a break from the adult books we engage in and reach for a children’s book. There may have been ideas and thoughts lost along the way as we aged, matured, and grew away from the small things embedded in those pages for the young.
We should pick one up and be reminded of things that we need to remember. Appreciate the simple concepts that go deep into our identity. We have steered clear of children’s books because, well, they are for children, unless we have some kids of our own.
But we need to rethink this because we can be reminded, be enlightened with something new, or read lines in a different way we have never thought of, or just purely reminisce of the past before.
What are some of your favorite books growing up? Why? Why do you think it is beneficial to read it now as an adult?
Image courtesy of Nora Elgalad
Knowing our place and our deficiency in perfection humbles us.
Allah is the one in control and it is He who commands; He is the one who has enabled us to read, write, and teach humans what they did not know.
Our abilities manifest inside our heads as we contemplate that we are self-sufficient.
We are the makers of this dunya: not by physically creating it with our bare hands but how we run and shape it.
It is whether or not our Ummah adheres to Allah’s laws and rules.
In the eighth ayah, Allah states that with all our actions and our work by living in this world, we will eventually return to Him.
Everything will collapse one day and all that we have ever done will fade and Allah will take us back.
Detachment does not exist as we are Allah’s creations.
We are attached and so much so that our Creator has described it in this way in the second ayah, “Created man from a clinging substance” (Al-Alaq).
Our nature is to be clinging, to be attached, to be dependent, to be inferior in the eyes of Allah. But we place this attachment in the wrong place.
Dunya is the priority lost among us.
It is that lack in faith and remembrance of Allah that makes us humans forget who truly brings out the sun in the day and issue the moon to present itself at night.
When we forget, when we got so lost in the forests of the dunya, do we stray into the path of self-sufficiency and arrogance.
Again and again we see throughout the Qu’ran how much we are dependent on Allah. In Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 156, Allah states that we will return to Him,
“Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”
I have yet to update the glossary section and I apologize.
The plan is to include all the vocab and terms that are Islamic and/or Arabic so every person that drops by is welcomed and can interact with everything that is noted in this blog.
This blog is created for every person to participate in so again, I will update that particular section asap so our dialogue does not exclude anyone who would like to join in.
I sincerely thank every single person who has taken the time to drop by here.
Whether you are following, commenting, “liking,” passing the notes, just stopping by every now and then, well…
Image courtesy of Nora Elgalad
REFLECTION: Do we sometimes go too far and think that we are independent, so much so that we forget that there is a Higher power? What do you think?
Originally published in IFN June 2011
by Mariam Al-Kalby
We do not own this world. Nor have we created it. But we spread our feathers and strut our arrogance around, as though, we, the clay creations that we are, are the masters of the universe.
Our behavior emanates the idea that we run the world by ourselves without anyone’s help.
But we forget that just a slight touch from the fire burns, a simple hug makes us feel warm, a sick heart that aches illustrates how weak we succumb to different feelings and emotions as human beings.
That is nothing wrong but what is wrong is to contemplate that there is no higher power.
Our place in this life is forgotten as we get swept up by the winds of this dunya (world) and need to be reminded that there is a higher power and higher form.
Allah is the Exalted and the Mighty One.
We are creations that roam the earth with Allah’s purpose embedded in our fitrah (instinct) but we have to unleash this identity with supplication and deeds.
As human beings, we can detach ourselves from everything except when it comes to Allah because we have been created to be dependent to Him.
In Surah Al-Alaq, it discusses how we have been created and how Allah is the One who bestows knowledge on us.
We did not create ourselves but Allah has and He wants us to find and finish creating ourselves by being His servants:
1. Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists),
2. Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).
3. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous,
4. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen,
5. Has taught man that which he knew not.
6. Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.).
7. Because he considers himself self-sufficient.
8. Surely! Unto your Lord is the return.