Posts Tagged With: Thoughts

A Learning Moment

It’s amazing how learning can occur in such a simple act as watching Afasy on Youtube. N is crazy over Dawud Wharnsby’s anaasheed. Z is closest to her and would follow her every act. At one point, I saw N at the computer, and Z by her side, standing, with the headphones on and I guessed what he was listening to.

“N, let him listen to Afasy. Not too much nasheed.”

Z used to watch a lot of Afasy on Youtube. At one point he was just fixed to it watching it again and again.

I reminded him of this.

“Z, you used to watch Afasy a lot remember? ”

Last night, he asked to watch Afasy, but he especially likes the one where people are praying on the street. When we looked for it, I clicked on the Fussilat video, but apparently I got the wrong one. He pointed to the correct one:

He started asking question as we watched it:

“Why is he crying?”

When he asked this question, I told him about the ayah he was crying about, that it talks about hellfire and how one’s face will be burned and that he is afraid of that happening to him, that’s why he’s crying. I balanced this with telling him that Allah loves us so much that He has prepared Jannah for us, but we have to work for it, and then we can see Allah. We have to listen to Allah.

“Why are they praying on the street?”

Because it’s Ramadan and they go for taraweeh, and there is no space in the masjid because so many people want to go.

“Why do men and women pray?”

Everyone has to pray.

“Why do they go to the masjid?”

Because Allah likes it. The masjid is Allah’s house. So we need to keep it clean, don’t fight in it, don’t say bad stuff in it. We should pray and read Quran in the masjid.

I also started telling him about the crowd at hajj. As we were watching this, I told him that at hajj there are more people than this.

I also pointed out at the straight rows and how everyone moved together and how it looks so organized and neat.

As I’m typing this, he’s asking me

“Why does Allah put the people in the fire?”

Because the people didn’t listen to Allah. These people did bad things, they hurt other people, they even killed some people, and Allah already told them not to do this, but they didn’t listen, they still did it. Allah already told them that if they don’t listen, He will put them in the fire, and they still didn’t listen. So it’s their fault, not Allah’s because Allah already warned them.

At one point before this, he had declared that he wants to see Allah. He had been talking to the girls about Jannah and he asked to see Allah. They told him he will see Allah in Jannah.

Subhanallah. This is learning in context. This is a teaching moment. Sometimes, you don’t need worksheets, activities to teach something. You just need to live life. Allah has created children with innate curiosity that makes them avid observers and question-askers. Sometimes, the best learning comes from unplanned activities/teaching moments. Especially in teaching Islam, which is not just a religion, but a way of life, learning comes from living it. That was how the prophet saw taught the companions, though they would also have formal learning sessions. It’s always about balance. Not being extreme.

In education, there are many schools of thoughts. In homeschooling, there are also many methods and schools of thoughts. Sometimes, we waste our energy debating with each other over why our method is the most correct, when there may be more than one way, or there may be a middle, balanced way.

When we started homeschooling, we started with the school-at-home with OHVA. Then I tried unschooling. Finally, we ended up eclectic. I have leaned to one side too much at one time or another, but it always felt somewhat wrong, and so I would pull myself back up to the middle. At times it’s a constant yo-yo, at times, the pendulum remains still.

Alhamdulillah. Sometimes you really just have to pay attention to things. Allah talks to you through the Quran and in other ways. He is Al Lateef (subtle, gentle, caring) and He is al Aleem (all knowing) and He is al Hakeem(All wise). You just need to use the intellect you’ve been blessed with and reflect, take note of even little things, and you will realize this precious connection subhaanallah.

Sometimes you know something, but in the course of life, you forget that you know this, or you start to worry. Allah reminds you what you know. The Quran is also called zhikr, a reminder. That is why there is a lot of repetition in it, because human beings forget a lot. The root of the word for human means to forget. Go figure.

Categories: Homeschooling, Learning in Context, Living Islam, Quran, Thoughts, Youtube, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

About Hajj & Life…

I gave the older kids assignments on Zulhijjah and Hajj.

  • N – virtues of 10 days of Zulhijjah
  • S- find ayaat in Quran related to hajj
  • H- research the rites of Hajj

After Fajr, we did our Friday routine, we listened to Nouman Khan’s Quran Cover to Cover of Surah Kahf. Then S had make up group bec she missed it on the PSAT day.

H’s Hajj rites infographic


Ayaat from Quran related to Hajj:

I did some explanation on these ayaat though I added some that S didn’t find here.

Al Baqarah 125

Sahih International

And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].”

Al Baqarah 127
And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.

Al Baqarah 128

Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

Al Baqarah  158

Sahih International

Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah . So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.

Al Baqarah 189

They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, “They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj.” And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is [in] one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed.
Al Baqarah 196-203
Sahih International

And complete the Hajj and ‘umrah for Allah . But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoever performs ‘umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find [or afford such an animal] – then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty.

Sahih International

Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding.

Sahih International

There is no blame upon you for seeking bounty from your Lord [during Hajj]. But when you depart from ‘Arafat, remember Allah at al- Mash’ar al-Haram. And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray.

Sahih International

Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart and ask forgiveness of Allah . Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Sahih International

And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance. And among the people is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world,” and he will have in the Hereafter no share.

Sahih International

But among them is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”

Sahih International

Those will have a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in account.

Sahih International

And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days. Then whoever hastens [his departure] in two days – there is no sin upon him; and whoever delays [until the third] – there is no sin upon him – for him who fears Allah . And fear Allah and know that unto Him you will be gathered.

On the virtues of the first 10 days of Zulhijjah, we had a discussion on reflections:
Q: What did you notice about our two Eids?
A: it is after hardship. Like in Ramadan, we fast.
Q:  Okay, but what about Eid Al Adha then?

A: Hajj!, Hajj is difficult.

Q: But what about the rest of us who are not doing Hajj?

A: Day of Arafah, fasting on that day, and the 10 days.

Q: Ok, I want you to look for a pattern in this. What do you notice about the last part of the days just before Eid?

A: Last 10 nights in Ramadan and first 10 days of Zulhijjah

Q: What about them? What do we do in the last 10 nights of Ramadan?

A: Lailatul Qadr.

Q: How about first 10 days of Zulhijjah?

A: fasting and zhikr

Q: So we increase more in worship in these last/first 10 days and then we have eid. [they didn’t get to the point I was trying to get them to]. Give me an analogy of this in real life.

A: [H] It’s like when Nadal plays tennis, and he messes up his leg in the process and then he wins

A: [S] It’s like studying for a test. You study and then close to the day of the test you study really hard

Q: Yeah, so it’s like a race, right? Long distance running. You can ask Abi, he did this. I did it too, once and the only one time.

A: You lost right?

Q: Yeah, but Abi won. He was first. So, a lap is I think about 400 meters, so an 800 meters race is two laps. When they shoot the gun, how do the runners run?

A: They jog, like this [H demonstrates]

Q: Yeah, and then once they finish going around the lap, they start to speed up to take their place, and when they are close to the finish line, they sprint.

A: That’s like horse races too [S]

A: [S] When I race, I run just behind the first place and then I sprint to the finish line.

Q: So there is that intense increase towards the end, right? That’s what we do before both Eids.

As I am typing this, I just remembered why I began this discussion. Because there were too many little distractions from Z and I was rushing to finish up because I had class (which I was late for because I thought it started at 9:30!), I forgot the point of asking them this. My point is that, Allah has made our two annual celebrations, our major celebration as a celebration that has a purpose. They celebrate struggle, struggle in obeying Him. Just like He has not created anything in this world without a purpose, He has also prescribed our yearly celebrations with solid purposes.

And it is based on this also that I have established celebrations in our family. We don’t do birthdays. But I would make and decorate cakes for events of accomplishments and motivation, or just a surprise. It feels more…purposeful that way. And it doesn’t happen too often, so one doesn’t begin to expect it. When one begins to expect a celebration in which gifts will be given to him, it has the potential of creating an attitude of ingratitude, self pity, ill feelings when he doesn’t get it for whatever reason. When treats or gifts are not expected, it makes it more precious.

We don’t do fast food and we don’t eat out much. So when hubs actually offers to have us eat out, like in Dallas, when he offered ice cream or something for me after I was done with my workshop, it felt like a real special treat. Every day, after picking me up, we would go to the McDonalds and get some dessert, either the Frappe or the hot chocolate. Only the two of us went, but we would go back to the hotel and share with the kids. It’s not a regular thing that we do, for if it becomes regular, I guess it might lose its once-in-a-blue-moon value. In moderation is always the best way to go. In our case, it’s more like a 9:1 ratio. It’s all good alhamdulillah. This life is temporary, it’s not our permanent home. We have permanent homes waiting for us, and we get to work for which one we want to go to. So, while it’s permissible and even to some point encouraged to enjoy this life, there should be a limit and there should be moderation. It’s easy to get carried away with ‘fun’, so keeping a tab on it can be pretty important. Though of course, moderation means that we don’t limit ourselves too much that we are too heavily leaning to the All work and no play side of the see saw. Balance.

Hajj – May Allah enable us to go soon. Ameen.



Categories: Family, hajj, Islamic Studies, Quran, Tafseer, Zulhijjah | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

OKC Day 4 & Back to Dallas

Today is our last day in OKC. We’re to check out at 12, when S has her 1 hour break from class. So we got ready, and around 11, hubs came back up from the conference and we got ready to go. I cooked some rice and reheated the leftovers from last night, and just as we’re getting ready to get the second batch of our bags to the van, an alarm went off. At first, I thought it was the smoke alarm, but turned out, it was the alarm that requires immediate evacuation.

We rushed getting the stuff ready, and after a few minutes we heard the fire truck coming. I looked out the window and saw people walking out of the hotel. It was eerie. I was just reading the emergency drill action plan on the room door the night before or the night before that, and to actually have that alarm go off that day was interesting.

After a while though, the alarm in our part of the building was turned off but the alarm still was going on at the other part of the hotel. We hurried and soon had all our stuff in the van. People seemed to be taking it easy. Hubs even went down to check us out and he said people didn’t know what was going on, but they seemed relaxed. When we drove out of the parking garage, the fire truck was still on the street, but nothing seemed to be wrong.

We headed for the Myriad Botanical Garden to have our hot lunch. It was a very breezy and surprisingly chilly afternoon, subhanallah. I didn’t expect the weather to be like that. Then again, we didn’t check the weather when we were packing, though I had told H to but he didn’t do it.

We hurried through lunch too because S had to resume her class in half an hour. We unpacked our hot rice, leftover chicken, and Z’s ride and serunding and we ate at a table in the children’s area. it was a nice lunch picnic. It was really cold but our food was hot.

Hubs went to drop S off back at the hotel to get the internet to resume her class and the rest of the kids just played around in the park. The park is really nice. When hubs came back, we decided to go to the Oklahoma City Memorial.

On the way, hubs asked the kids,

“So do yuo guys know about the Oklahoma City bombing?”

‘Yeah, Ummi told us to read a book about it and we did,” said H.

“What does it have to do with Muslims?” asked hubs


“Yeah, but the first hour after it happened, they accused the Muslims.”

I wasn’t aware of this but it’s not surprising. Subhanallah.

The visit to the Memorial was an informative one and a somber one. I couldn’t help but feel somber when I looked at the picture of the bombed federal building on the brochure that was passed to us when we entered the memorial. It was a beautiful memorial. We listened to the park ranger giving us the tour, and we were standing by the survivor tree. Subhanallah…I was thinking to myself,

Those people lost their lives, but this tree, which apparently survived a disease that was very destructive to elm trees, lightning, drought, storms, torn limbs from blast, fire from the exploded cars under it when the bomb went off, survived, by Allah’s mercy. It made me think how life is such a fragile thing. And that it is completely in His hands. It was time for those people’s lives to end in such a way, but it was not yet time for the this tree to die. Despite everything, it continued to bud, and grow. Subhanallah. But there will come a time when it will also die. It’s just a matter of time.

The park ranger said that some people would dip their hands in the pool and put their wet handprints on the walls. The kids did that. We spent quite some time at the memorial. Hubs went to pick S up and brought her back and she walked through the Memorial with my 3 minute briefing on what it was all about. It was quite an experience. As the park ranger was talking about the lives lost in this tragedy, I couldn’t help thinking also of all the lives lost in other tragedies going on in the world. Not to undermine the lives lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing, but there were lives lost there too, and they were not mostly known to the world. Some died slow painful deaths, torturous deaths. This is the reality of life in this world, that bad things do happen to good people. That evil do lead to such destruction. That the oppressors do sometimes get away with oppressions because those oppressions are not checked. That fasad is part of the reality of this life in this world, and that there is life in there hereafter. Allah is just and those who are oppressed, will get just compensation in the life of the hereafter if not in this world.  May Allah protect us from such ends and such trials, and may He give us husnul Khaatimah. Ameen.

We drove to Dallas right away, and of course, encountered traffic on the interstate. Turned out, there was an accident on the other side of the interstate.

“This is the thing about living in Dallas,” hubs said.

Alhamdulillah, we did get to the hotel in good time, H and Z got time to go swimming, and then we drove to the Carrollton masjid. We were late, but they also started late, so I technically made it in good time. Subhanallah, twice, I had begged Allah to let us get to class on time; the first one, last weekend, for the AlMaghrib class, and we did, despite the recurring traffic and rain, and now this. Subhanallah. He does indeed respond to the caller when the caller calls on Him. Subhanallah…Glorified is He from all people associate Him with, any partners or child.

Hubs and the kids waited outside while I attended the intro session of the workshop, but they got to listen to it too because the sound system at the masjid was such that the whole masjid could hear it when they used the mic. May Allah reward hubs and the kids immensely for bearing with this and letting me have this opportunity to attend this. Ameen.

Not many husbands would do this for their wives. He used to also do this when we were in Columbus. He let me attend AlMaghrib classes while he babysat the kids. He even stayed on campus throughout the whole weekend when Z was about 3 months old, and he would bring him to me for nursing during breaks. Subhanallah. I cannot enumerate the blessings He has bestowed on me even if I try to count them. May Allah make us of the shaakireen! Ameen.

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Categories: AlMaghrib Institute, Community, Family, Qalam Institute, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Road Trip Coming Up!

Z’ book bag

Z’s been asking, “Are we going on a trip?” ever since I packed these things for him. I told him that we will be going on a trip and that we would do these activities during that trip. Last night, we went out to Kohl’s and he was napping, so hubs just picked him and placed him in his seat, and he asked,

“Is this the trip?”

It was dark because it was past maghrib, so he probably thought it was fajr time because that is when we usually depart for our road trips.

Today, as we walked home from his therapy, somehow we got to talking about the trip. He was probably asking about it again and I told him it was on FRiday. So automatically we stated the order of the days together. Impromptu lesson right there! That’s what I like!

Anyway, I’m excited too. I finally decided which activities I want to start doing with Z from Umm Nu’man’s wonderful amazing resources, and I look forward to doing them with Z.  I realize that with 3 older kids and 1 kid in kindy, it’s hard for me to juggle everything on top of also being in a course myself. No wonder homeschooling moms of multiple kids take homeschooling as a full time job.

I am going to have to do that too if I don’t want to retire prematurely. I mean, I can still do other stuff but they have to be manageable. Right now, alhamdulillah, Allah has enabled me to keep up, though there are times when I feel like just dropping everything and crying. Especially when the kids misbehave, show bad manners, don’t listen to me, don’t do their work…which is…hmm…I guess, almost every day sometimes. Subhanallah…these are times when I feel like I have failed in my responsibilities. But I also realize that my responsibilities are not over. My mother says,

“Better late than never!”

My mother still reprimands me to this day, like any mother would. So I guess, my work is for a lifetime, though it’s hard not to feel like a failure when your kids show less than desirable behavior. This is when I feel very humbled. Parenting is humbling, not only because you learn that you are the role model, but mostly because you come to realize that it’s all in His hands. Guidance and success is in His hands.

In homeschooling, there are times when you feel exhilirated (like when H’s fan worked) and you feel,

“Yay! This is why we homeschool!”

But subhanallah, Allah reminds us, and we had just covered this ayah recently in my class (I LOVE juz 27 28!)

Sahih International

No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah , is easy – Al Hadeed 57:22

Sahih International

In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you. And Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful – Al Hadeed 57:23

Subhanallah when something bad happens, you remember that Allah has already decreed it, so don’t dwell too much over its loss, but even when something great happens, here we are reminded not to exult over it and attribute it all to ourselves! Balance!

I printed out all the materials I wanted and put them all in this folder. And this folder goes in his book bag.

some cut out pieces

I had cut out some activity sheets ahead of time, though I later realized that he should be the one doing the cutting. But I later left some parts for him to cut on his own.

My Body activity sheet set

He’s been asking a lot about where his stomach is and where his food is right now, so I thought it’s high time we do human body. We’ve been doing animals and plants, and I had wanted to do human body but I couldn’t find the proper materials for his age so this was a blessing that Allah directed me to the blog of Umm Nu’man, whom I also realized is the author of books I had bought for Z! MashaAllah! She has come up with a Human body activity sheet set separate for boys and girls.

Surah An Naas Activity Sheet set

I love these Quran activity sets! I am excited to try this because from looking at how it’s supposed to be carried out, I”m thinking that this is the reading by sight version in Arabic. We did both reading by sight and phonics for English but I haven’t found any technique, at least any organized technique for reading Arabic so this is really a wonderful find! Alhamdulillah!

Surah Al Ikhlas Activity Sheet set

For some of the activities, I’ll have to coax the older kids to join us.

Quran Mazes activity sheet booklets

I had painfully scanned these, gathered them all in a Word document and printed them so he can do it again and again, now and even later when his comprehension takes on a different level.

I told him to gather some crayons and put them in this pouch we had gotten when we boarded Korean Airlines on our visit back to Malaysia in 2010. Reuse, recycle.

His crayons

His glue and scissors

His Abata. He was the one who reminded me to include this, so alhamdulillah!

I didn’t forget about the older kids. I used to do this when we travelled before too. I went to elaborate length to prepare for our road trips. I remember one when we went to Houston from Columbus, OH. Don’t know how much the kids benefited though, but I do remember doing a lot of brainstorming, designing, cutting, pasting, when the kids were younger. I realize that now, with Z, that’s what I have to do a lot of too it seems like. While at the same time I also have to do a lot of mental work in checking and critiquing the older kids’ essays, researching topics, teaching it learning it together with them, keeping ahead of them, keeping up to date with college applications, SAT, ACT, etc, high school requirements, high school course planning…you get the drift.

I had put my writing on hiatus several times now because I can’t cope with everything, but I do look forward to being able to fully pay attention to homeschooling these kids almost full time inshaAllah.

Hubby told me to rest and not take the AlMaghrib class we’re going to. So, after deliberating and feeling wistful about it, I agreed. So, right now, only hubs and N and H are taking the class inshaAllah. S, Z and I will be hanging out. S has to study, and we have to watch her British history DVDs I had checked out from the library for her World History course, and I have to study and review, and I have to do these activities with Z too. So much for rest ! But I look forward to it.

Then, S will be attending her TQ as usual during the week, and on Wed I will be attending my class, and miss Thursday because my public speaking workshop begins that day. So I will have to do some catching up in my class work and notes because the week after, the translation test is due. Again, so much for rest. 🙂 Never mind, our rest is inshaAllah in Jannah!

Older kids’ book bag

May Allah bless this trip. Ameen.

As usual, with road trips or any traveling, I go into obsessive packing and organizing mode. I’d make a list of all that we need to pack, and I’d start packing days before, and check off my list as I go and it takes a lot of planning and work, but it makes for an easier execution so far alhamdulillah. I find that I always need to write things down so my mind is not cluttered with to do lists. It helps me a lot. Ustaadh  Muhammad AlShareef calls it a brain dump. That’s exactly what I feel it is too.

My obsessive packing organization

Categories: Al Huda Institute, AlMaghrib Institute, Books, Family, History DVD, Homeschooling, Juggling Multiple Kids, Teaching To Read, Thoughts, Travel, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding the Quran

I asked S how she likes Taleem Quran course so far and she said,

“It’s fine.”

These older kids always give me these dull toned-down, unenthusiastic answers, so I asked her,

“Are you liking it more and more or how, how do you feel about it, or the Quran?”

“When I listen to the Quran now, I understand it.”

“Yeah, there is something about the way they teach,” I agreed.

“Yeah, and you’ve taught me all that before, but…”

“How offensive,”I replied jokingly.

But it’s true. These kids need to hear what I’ve been telling them from someone else. They’re just reached that age where what their parents know don’t faze them anymore. We’re not considered the only authority in matters now. They realize that we’re infallible and that we don’t really know everything. Not that we give them that impression, for I’ve always told the kids to ask us the source of something if we say anything.

But, even so, it makes me feel quite …ancient. Not necessarily a bad thing however. I’m very ready to hand them over to some other authorities, especially in furthering their Quranic and Islamic studies because I’ve reached my capacity. I myself am still learning and will always be learning hopefully inshaAllah till the day I die. We are now peer-learners. I’m finishing up my TQEE inshaAllah next Feb, and S just started her journey.

Since H is having trouble with his Juz 28 review and also Hadeed, I told him to listen in to my class this week because we will be covering Surah Al Hadeed. I notice that his mistakes in revision is because he hadn’t memorized the pages and is just relying on the sound. It’s about time he listens to tafseer. But at the same time, he would still be working on his hifdh, but he just needs to increase his understanding of what is being recited. The latter is more complex than the former. Memorizing the Quran is (I can’t believe I’m saying this) easy. Allah has said that it has been made easy and now, after trying it myself, I can see why it’s easy, subhanallah. It’s retaining it and understanding it that is quite challenging. But alhamdulillah, at least H is interested in learning and understanding it and he seems to have quite a fair grasp of Arabic too. I review with him everyday after Zuhr, and because of that I think I’ve been abandoning N. At least with Z, I’ve switched from having him read a page of his IQRA to half a page and then to one line before letting him watch a video of his own choosing. When I cut down the amount to one line, he actually comes to me with his IQRA and reads the line willingly. I just have to keep it consistent. That’s the real challenge.

They’ve stopped listening to Arabic with Husna because they’ve finished listening to all the videos. So now it’s hubs’ task to continue working with them in Arabic as that is right now, still my weak area. Hubs is the one who masters it more. Right now, N is not that interested in Arabic. S, I think , as she progresses more in her Taleem Quran, may find Arabic as rich and interesting as I do. H, I think can at least appreciate how rich the language is and through Arabic sessions with several brothers at the masjid, knows it somewhat. N is still in her own world. I hope she ventures out soon, because even though I feel it’s a wonderful safe world for her, I have trouble dealing with it. I ask that Allah gives her maturity, comprehension and wisdom, and me, patience. Ameen.

Alhamdulillah for the many and increasing resources towards understanding the Quran for non Arabic speakers. Alhamdulillah. It seriously, I feel, makes the world a better place for all, for when you truly understand what the Quran teaches, it beautifies your character with knowledge and wisdom.



Categories: Al Huda Institute, Juggling Multiple Kids, Living Islam, Memorizing, Quran, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the Quran’s Perspective on Insults to Our Prophet saw?

Recently, we’ve been having a halaqa(study circle) for sisters at the masjid on Fridays after isha. Last Friday, Rj called me to tell me that the other sisters were not coming because of what happened. As usual, I don’t really follow the news (yes, a bad thing, a continuous struggle) so I was oblivious to what happened.

I told S to find out what happened from her student CNN website. I find the news website to be somewhat vulgar nowadays. What used to be private is now splayed all over the virtual and real pages, in public. I even cringe when I want to let my kids read the news. Politically correct or not, keep your private life private. When the private life is open as such, I guess I consider it our world turning upside down. Nothing is shameful anymore. Our sense of Hayaa is in danger, and lowering the gaze becomes an even more difficult feat (I’m guessing) for our brothers, as it also is for sisters. May Allah guide and help us be steadfast. Ameen. Fawaahish is everywhere, Muslim country or not.

So, we found out what happened, and it reminds me of what Wisam Sharief once said. He said that there is this button the enemies of Islam like to control. They push it, expecting the typical emotional reaction of these ‘barbarious’ Moslems, and they get it, and it is splayed in the global media, proving just how violent these Moslems truly are. And we Muslims, dumbly react to the push of this button, as you can see.

I also sense a kind of split between Muslims in the Muslim-majority countries and Muslims in the west. As far as I know, Muslims in the west so far are taking it in a non emotionally reactional manner, and we are at the risk of being accused of taking it too lightly. The challenge of Muslims in the majority non Muslim countries are really different than the challenges of Muslims in Muslim majority countries. I think sometimes, this divides us in terms of our perspectives on how Islam should be practiced.

But, all sound Muslims would agree that reacting with violence and murder is not the way. At least I hope so. Plus, you can always choose not to watch the movie. Give it attention and it’s like giving attention to an annoying kid at school who likes to annoy you because he wants your annoyed reaction. Seriously.

But, as usual, Ustadh Nouman puts it very nicely in light of the Quran. I love it.

There is another video too that I love, especially on the speaker’s comparison between the romance of Muhammad saw and Aisha r.a. and Romeo and Juliet, but because he spoke a bit explicitly in there with regard to the topic I wish not to even state here, I decided not to put it up.

Just this morning, we finished tafseer of Surah Al Kauthar, and in our discussion session, it was the perfect opportunity to discuss how to respond to insults on the Prophet saw. The cause of revelation of this short but deep surah is the death of the Prophet saw’s baby son. At the death of his (saw) son, Abu Lahab danced for joy because apparently, the Prophet’s saw lineage is cut off because all his sons died. When Allah revealed this surah, the first ayah didn’t even mention the enemies’ accusations/condemnation against the Prophet saw because it was too lowly to be mentioned. Instead, the surah starts with mentioning the abundance that Allah has bestowed on His messenger saw. The focus is on the blessings and favor that have been bestowed, and the end, Allah mentions that it’s the enemies who will be cut off, but doesn’t even mention who it was. Interestingly, the Prophet saw is being lauded with praise every second through azhaan everyday in all parts of the world. But the one who mentioned that the Prophet saw was ‘cut off’ is not even remembered.

There will always be insults to our prophets, and we see so much of it especially to Jesus a.s. We believe in Jesus a.s. as a prophet, so how come we’re not reacting violently to people’s misrepresentation of him or insults to him? If we are to respond as such to every insult thrown our way, our focus and mission to spread our prophets’ teachings through our behavior will be lost. That is what the shaytaan wants, so why take his bait?

Categories: Community, Living Islam, Quran, Thoughts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Literature: The Witch of Blackbird Pond

H and N are reading this book for their Junior High Homeschool Book Study Literature class with Lisa Testch. I love how Lisa conducts this class so far. I was supposed to have N and H continue with our history based on historical fiction lessons, but I figured that as long as they are reading this book, I might as well capitalize on it by having them learn more about this time in history. So I checked out some books about Puritans from the library and made it an assignment for them to read the book and tell me what they learned from it. This was what they read:

Life Among the Puritans

What makes it relevant and interesting is that they are currently engaged in discussing and reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Both children seemed interested in the subject as they shared what they read and learned with me. I stretched the discussion into comparing and contrasting Islamic values and Puritan values. The similar ones are the strong prohibition against gossiping, eavesdropping, idleness, slandering, stealing etc. They did mention that the punishments of the Puritan against these crimes are too harsh though.

When we were talking about this, the Shariah hand-cutting for stealing came up. It was a good opportunity to explain that this hadd in Islam is not to be taken that casually and generally and that there are certain conditions to be fulfilled in an alleged crime before the hadd takes place. Because people will say that Islam is barbaric because of these hudud, but in truth, there are certain pre-requisites to the carrying out of these hudood. There is also a principle in that the judge will try to find innocence. The point is not to punish, but to deal in justice. All conditions have to be met in order for these hudod to be carried out. Even if one condition is missing, the punishment cannot be carried out. It’s important for the kids to know this because they will come across people who will bash Shariah. Even adult Muslims don’t know enough about Shariah and some even shun it because they are taking the media’s reporting on it without exercising their own effort to learn more about it in a non judgmental way. May Allah guide us and help us understand our deen. Ameen.

I am happy that in the course of reading Life Among the Puritans, they seem to really understand the Reformation and seem to take an interest in it too! Reading historical fiction really brings history to life and I love that!

Categories: Books, Historical fiction, History, Literature, Living Islam, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Older Kids

I love homeschooling younger ages. It’s much more fun and you’re not that pressured by the educational system. Well, you’re supposed to resist the pressure out there anyway, but as college looms ahead, it gets less flexible in some ways.

But, I’ve been documenting Z’s progress and activities more than I ever have. So it’s time for updates on the older kids. I keep a record on my Google Doc. I have separate folders on the different subject areas and then I have separate folders within those folders for each child, according to the school year. Last year and the years before, we built our portfolio as we went. But this year, we decided to bind their portfolio instead of putting in a 3- ring binder. I hate those 3 ring binders too actually. So, I just gave N and H one of those portfolio pocket folders I had brought from Malaysia to put their papers in. I used to use those manila envelopes (that’s what we call them) for my artwork in elementary school. But last night, we ran out of ink on the printer, so I told H to just post his HSI assignment on google doc and share it with me. I will file it anyway. Then, at the end of the year, we can limit paper clutter by just printing those that we want to put in the portfolio. Saves money and saves the earth. I hope. Though I still require them to print their essays because I like checking those by hand.

Every week, they get an essay prompt in their Homeschool Book Study Literature class, and every week, I have they hand in their essays to me. I can’t afford to pay for the grading option with their teacher, so I thought I’d do it myself though I would love for someone else to critique my children’s writing for once. For HSI, I realize that I have to keep tab of their posted assignments on their class page. The HSI instructor said that the amount of their weekly assignments is up to their mother, so I have free reign here. Yes.

It cuts down on me having to think up an assignment for them, yet it still involves me so I know what they’re doing, so I love this!

They studied the Lost Colony of Roanoke this week and doing the Jamestown colony next week. I love the critical thinking they have to engage in in this class. It’s a different approach in learning history and I love it! Since S is doing World History, I told her to join this class too. Though I exempted her from having to write the essays I tell N and H to do. She will just discuss with me orally.

S has started her Taleem Quran. It’s everyday, Monday to Thursday, from 6:30 am – 1:30 pm with interactive group for about half an hour and a lunch and prayer break for an hour. So far so good, though I do hope she gets her study permit soon and is able to attend it onsite inshaAllah. I keep thinking that maybe it’s not good for her to be there on site right now and that is why she is still with us. We had talked about putting complete trust in Allah in our matters, where if we believe that He’s the Creator, we also then believe whole-heartedly that He knows best, and that He decrees based on His vast knowledge and ultimate wisdom. Sometimes, we plan and ask for things but we don’t necessarily get them or we don’t get them when we want them or we don’t get them at the time we feel we need them. By having complete trust in Him, when this happens, we have to remember this trust we have for Him, and accept this with patience and not be too hasty in discounting Him and complaining about the situation. Sometimes there is something we don’t or can’t foresee in our planning because we are only human. When our supplications are not granted right away, one of several things may be the case.

1. Allah is stalling it and saving it for the Day of Judgment – when this happens, a person will wish that none of his supplications are answered and that all of them are saved for the Day of Judgment

2. Allah is averting the person from something bad in place of granting the supplication right away

3. Allah is withholding it because it may not be good for the person to have it as requested

Waiting is agony. Waiting is a test in and of itself. We’ve gone through this test quite a few times in our life as a family. What I’ve also been reminded of lately is that sometimes, you think you are in a bad situation, but in actuality, you are in a better situation because it compels you to draw closer to Him by persisting in asking Him. Allah loves that we ask Him. People tire of us when we keep asking them but Allah gets angry if we don’t ask Him. So sometimes, we are kept in situations we don’t think is good because we are in need of increasing in forming that relationship with Allah. And that can elevate our status with Him, and put us in a better situation and position all around. Then, that situation, that fitnah, is now a blessing. But it depends on how we react to it. If it makes us draw closer to Him, then it’s a blessing. If not, then…

I’ve been mulling over this for a few days now. I feel it deserves a post, especially also after talking with a friend yesterday. She gave me great reminders and a lot of food for thought. May Allah reward her. Ameen.

But I still want to continue mulling over this, because it is worth mulling over.

Right now, I know and am reminded that parenting is a full time job. You really can’t hand your kids over to someone else and expect to sit back and have it easy. Seriously, if you want a good harvest, you can’t do this. You’ll be accountable for it in another way. Things have check and balance. That’s how it is in this world. That is how Allah has designed this world we live in, and carrying on over to the next, the hereafter. So, with that…I should for now continue to deepen my relationship with Him and take comfort in it, and continue to make dua for the children and our situation. The key is really that relationship with Allah. In order to attain that, there are sacrifices to be made. You have to put in the effort. Just like in any other relationships. You have to put in the work. For me, I derive great pleasure in seeking knowledge and all that geeky stuff. I feel that is my thing. Other people may have other things that float their boats, but my boat is the boat of books and knowledge. And that knowledge is to be put into action, and alhamdulillah I am a stay at home mom. It gives me my own environment and time to control and schedule, and it gives me enough flexibility to do acts of worship as much as I can afford. Who would have thought that I would stay home after graduating? I didn’t know it until I graduated. The motivation : the children.

Nothing happens randomly. Subhanallah.


Categories: History, History Scene Investigation, Homeschooling, Living Islam, Thoughts | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Okra’s Flower-Fruit Stage

This morning, just before we left for Z’s therapy sessions, I noticed the okra plant budding two flowers. This time I was ready, and I hoped the camera’s battery is not exhausted. It wasn’t! Just as I had expected, by the time we were back home, the flowers buds had blossomed! Just beautiful!

It’s interesting how the flower stage of an okra plant is so fleeting. In a length of a few hours, it goes through the stage of budding, flowering, and falling off. Subhanallah! If you think about it, the flower stage for most fruit producing plants don’t last that long. That is food for thought for us. Our prime stage in life doesn’t last that long. In surah Yaseen, Allah talks about the stages of the moon.

Sahih International

And the moon – We have determined for it phases, until it returns [appearing] like the old date stalk. [Yaseen 36:39]

In Sheikh Abdulnasir’s Quran for Family Yaseen class, he talked about how when we look at the sky every night, it is reminder of our life phases, and how life is so fleeting. You go from one stage to the next, and time passes by so quickly. Yet, how we are deluded despite this knowledge, and we think we are invincible. We like to think we can stall death. At this age in my life, I can attest to that. I grew a little panicky over some symptoms of aging. While I do somewhat do a morbid take on it, I also long for my youth. But, really, our life passes by us so rapidly, and pondering over this okra plant really hits home for me.
My favorite season is spring. I love it when the air smells like fresh bulbs and flowers. I love the pastel colors on the trees and on the ground as the petals fall, creating a soft colorful carpet of sweet smelling blossoms. It makes me think of Jannah. It even inspired a poem I had written about Jannah. However, I always wish the flowers would stay longer on the trees though. Before you know it, all the flowers are gone and the trees are completely green, and they stay green all throughout summer. The colors you see now are from the annuals. I love those annuals, but I do love the pastel spring colors better. They somehow lend a softer atmosphere after the frigid cold of winter.
Like those spring blossoms, these okra flowers don’t last that long. I was thinking the other day about how the life cycle of plant is so much like our life cycle. We also go through the seedling stage, and each of us are different, just like different plants need different types of care. Some need support early on, some are hardier. As they grow, they take on different external looks, just like humans also do. Some survive, some don’t. Some get heavily infested by pests and recover, some are stunted. When they get to the bud stage, this is like our adolescence going into the young adult life phase. This is the stage where the plant gets the most oohs and aahs. This is when they are the most admired and looked at. This is their prime so to say. This is when they emit fragrance.
But soon, this stage passes, and those beautiful petals that are so admired, begin to wither and fall off. More important events are taking place inside. The enjoyment phase has to give way for this important stage to occur; the fruit stage. The fruit grows and grows, and now, the plant is no longer adorned with flowers. Some of the withered petals may still be clinging on, signifying a once beautiful past of glory and beauty. Every mother should be able to relate to this stage. This is when a newly married woman gets pregnant. The henna design has faded away, and that ‘just married’ atmosphere has given way to more serious business of adjusting to living with a life-long partner. This is when the nitty gritty of marriage becomes a reality. It is still a beautiful thing. Don’t get me wrong, but there are more important reasons for marriage.
As the fruit emerges, the plant now serves a more productive and beneficial function. We begin to look at it in a new light. We look at it for what it produces, not at what it shows off. The fruit itself is a beauty to behold, much like the flower, but it embodies something more; a continuation of generations. In human terms, this is how we view children too; a continuation of our legacy and lineage. We want to see them thrive and ripen. They can’t be picked prematurely. You want to protect them from pests too, just like you were protected from being infested at the seedling stage. And when they are ready, they will either be picked or will fall off, ready to venture out in the world and make their own decisions.

Those fruits now contain the seeds for the future generation. You have done all you could, and the rest is up to … Allah.
Life is not about you. It’s about something bigger. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Allah has created life for a more important purpose. We need to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Allah has placed signs and reminders all around us. Allah has given us all intellect for us to use. Those neurons that we have been blessed with, are supposed to spark and make these connections. Connections that eventually light up a clear brightly lit path of a conclusion that there is a Creator, and that this Creator is the One who not only creates, but also owns, sustains and has the ultimate authority. How can we be so full of ourselves then?
I had just taken these photos of the closed up okra flowers. I called Z to come look. I asked him,
“What’s going to happen to these flowers after this?”
He replied,
“They’re going to fall.”
“Then what’s going to come out?” I asked.
“I don’t know, ” he replied.
I pointed to the fat okra that is just ready to be picked.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“I don’t know. “
“Do you know what this is? Do we eat this?”
“Yes. I forgot what it’s called,” he said.
“It’s okra.”
“Oh! Yes! Okra.”
Subhanallah. I didn’t want to plant a garden this year, but H and N insisted, offering to dilligently water it everyday. So that’s how we ended up with a container vegetable garden this year. I’ve always been bad at gardening. The plants always seem to die. But this year, it’s different. My eggplant plant was almost gone. Something seemed to be eating its leaves. I poured diluted dishwashing detergent on it and now it’s thriving. Everyday, as I went out to look at the plants, it struck me as it never has before, that it is Allah, the Rabb, who is taking care of these plants. Not me. I’m only a tool through which their sustenance is given. Just like our employers are the tools through which our financial sustenance are given. Our employers are not the ones who are providing us income. Allah is. There is lesson of tawakkul and gratitude in this. I never thought I’d get that lesson from gardening. Subhanallah. Subhanallah.
Categories: Gardening, Living Islam, Quran, Science, Tafseer, Thoughts, Z's learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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