Category Archives: Religion

I is for Immigrant

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You look out the window and spot the howling trees and the sunlight that is waning slowly but swiftly, the way wintery days go.

You scroll mindlessly through Facebook and view all sorts of depressing articles on Trump, a Muslim ban, and more.

But there is hope. You know there’s a protest going on at the airport, a protest to welcome refugees and immigrants. A way to take a stand.

You are not just the daughter of an immigrant.

You are an immigrant.

You know what it feels like to be neither here nor there.

You know what it feels like to reach a new country where even the air smells different, the birds sound different, the water tastes different.

You know what it feels like to feel painfully out of place.

You know what it feels like to slowly grow roots in a new country. To slowly unfurl and blossom once more.

You feel for all the people hurting in this topsy turvy world right now.

But right now it’s not your turn to go to the protest because there are two little ones who need you right now at home. There is hair that is wet. There is outside wind that is chilly.

There is a simmering daal that is stubbornly cooking on the stove, angry and refusing to become tender soon enough.

There are people protesting outside, angry and refusing the ways of the hard world, begging for tenderness to come now.

You look at the faces of your children who know bits and pieces of the world around them, but who do not know that the world is hardening around them. They do not know about the deep and dark struggles that people are undergoing around them. They do not ask the questions of worriers yet.

You need to ground yourself and find peace.

You know what to do.

You preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

You pray with them when sunset seeps in around you.

You melt butter, mix in sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, a smidge of salt. You accidentally forget the vanilla.

Your daughters’ smiles are sugary. Their fingers buttery. Their cheeks floury. One of their hair braids is floury. Or salty. Or sugary. You can’t decipher yet.

Later, you will show them a picture of their grandmother and grandfather protesting and tell them how we welcome people. No matter who they are. No matter where they are from.

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Your heart will warm when you see the protest photos, the numbers of people who care. People of all kinds taking a stand.

You will read your daughters this book and talk about the tumultuous journey of a Syrian refugee boy, a boy who misses his pet birds he left behind.

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The boy will befriend new wild birds at his camp.

The world will befriend immigrants and refugees.

You will hope and pray that for now it is enough.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran 49:13)

 

 

Book Review: A Quranic Odyssey

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Author Umm Muhemmed wrote this enlightening book, A Quranic OdysseyThe book is illustrated by Azra Momin  and is written for an adult audience. I had wanted to review this book in Ramadan, but didn’t get a chance to! Glad I get to share it with you now!

 

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This book is a great read for parents who would like to instill a love of Quran for their children. The book is split up into bite-sized-nuggets of information, short chapters in which a main character Khadija teaches Ibrahim lessons about Quran in a beautiful and engaging hands-on manner. I liked how young Ibrahim sometimes ended up teaching his parents his own unique lessons he got from the Quran.

I also liked how Ibrahim’s grandmothers are both of different faiths and cultures, but steadfast friends. Ibrahim’s paternal grandmother is an Italian Christian whereas his maternal grandmother is a Pakistani Muslim.

The story touches on Ibrahim’s challenge with having a grandmother that doesn’t share his religion, but also emphasizes the openness and acceptance and love that he has for her.

One sweet moment I liked from this story is when Ibrahim’s mother teaches him and his toddler sister Amna about Surah Quraysh, a chapter from the Quran which talks about peace and safety. At one point in the story, the family goes to a nature reserve in which they wish to spot endangered whooping cranes who are currently experiencing trouble with migration.

Ibrahim then has this idea, “I’m going to recite Surah Quraysh. I think it will be just the right solution to bring the whooping cranes to safety. Allah will keep them safe in the winter and the summer when they’re migrating just as He explains. So reciting Surah Quraysh will help them.”   Following his statement, Khadija writes, “Abdurrahman and I look at each other and share a rare moment of profound parenting joy.”

If you have little children, this is an educational and inspiring read to get started in helping your children not only memorize Quran surahs but learn and apply little lessons from them.

The book was sent to me by Umm Muhemmed for a review and is available here! Umm Muhemmed blogs and reviews lots of good books here and reviewed my story Lailah’s Lunchbox here!

 

Eid Book Giveaway: Ilyas & Duck and the Fantastic Festival of Eid-al-Fitr!

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Afshan Raheel won the last Eid give away of Ilyas & Duck Search for Allah.  Congrats Afshan!

This time Little Big Kids and I are doing another eid giveaway for Ilyas & Duck and the Fantastic Festival of Eid-al-Fitr! I really wanted to work with them in giving away this story to a reader around the second Eid time, as it’s such a great Eid story for little ones. I know it’s Eid-ul-Adha not Eid-ul-Fitr coming up, but I think this story a general good all-round Eid story, as it teaches little ones what to expect for Eid.

 

This story was my Eid gift to Z & A for last Eid, and I was so excited when it reached here in time. The 2 love this story and enjoy reading it and seeing the antics Duck is up to, as well as pointing out Eid goodies such as blue lollipops and pink iced cake.

 

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This story teaches them basics of Eid Salah and Zakah in a child appropriate way:


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My favorite part of the story is how Ilyas starts of telling Duck that it’s Eid tomorrow and Duck rushes off to get a christmas tree and decorations, and how Ilyas matter-of-factly says, Christmas is for our Christmas neighbors…




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And how Duck says,

“I see,” responded Duck with enlightenment. Then he bolted out the front door.

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Duck then returns with a menorah and Ilyas says Hanukkah is for our Jewish friends. I really like how author Omar Khawaja chose to mention our Jewish friends and Christian neighbors, as our children see Christmas trees and Hanukkah candles, and are often curious about what it’s all about.

My favorite quote:

Duck was confused.

Duck was curious.

Duck had an idea! He thought it was ingenious. 

“Maybe we can learn about Eid-al-Fitr at the Masjid,” suggested Duck.

The rest of the story then shows how Duck and Ilyas explore Eid together at the Masjid, the new clothes they wear, how they dress up for Eid, how they pray for Eid, bake, work on arts and crafts, help others around them, and have fun!

I like this book even better than the first. As a writer, it’s hard to keep up the momentum with sequel characters, but in this series Omar Khawaja and Leo Antolini made Ilyas and Duck amazing once more.

Leo Antolini’s illustrations of Ilyas and Duck hopping into a hot air balloon to go to the masjid to opening up Eid presents is classic and humorous. What I especially like about this story is that it’s fun to read for adults as well as children. Some books that we read over and over, I will hide if they are annoying, but this is one story that I am proud to display! I often see these 2 taking a toy break and reaching for a book, and this is 1 book they enjoy reading together.

Bonus: The book also has a glossary at the end with fun factoids, similar to the last book.

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So to get the Eid book, same as last time,

 Eid Giveaway Rules: Do 5 out of the 8 things:

1. Like Ilyas & Duck on Facebook.

2. Like Little Big Kids on Facebook.

3. Follow Ilyas & Duck on Twitter, and send us a tweet saying salaam!

4. Share the word about Ilyas & Duck on your facebook, and tag the page!

5. Tweet about the Giveaway

6. Follow Little Big Kids on Instagram.

7. Join our newsletter at the bottom of the page here: http://www.littlebigkids.com/

8. Subscribe to Ilyas & Duck on Youtube.

Once you’ve done all 5, please let me know by leaving a comment on this page. I know some of you leave comments on my Facebook page, but it’ll be easier for me to manage if we have the comments all here! Then I will plug in the entries into a site which will randomly choose a winner. You do have to be living in the US to enter this Giveaway.

Deadline for entries: Friday the 26th September.  
Disclaimer: I will put in a request to see if Little Big Kids can mail the book out in time for you for Eid.  It will make an awesome Eid gift for your little one!  I cannot guarantee when they will mail it out to you, but I hope you and your little ones enjoy this heartwarming story! Eid Mubarak! 
***Also, wanted to share that this Eid I plan on getting Z Circle of Sandcastles – The Prophet Says Series by by Mariam Al-Kalby (Author), Yee Von Chan (Illustrator). They published The Apple Tree – The Prophet Says Series and when I saw them come out with another story, I knew this would be the perfect gift for Z! As for A, she’s a fan of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? and our book is due at the library so thinking of just gifting her this story for good!

Nod

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IMG_1250Lately, she loves nodding with a closed smile! Having 2 girls, I am always surprised by how different they can be. How one can be more serious and closed smiles, and one less so, and big open mouth laughing smiles. Yet, how each child is appealing to a mother!

 

Quran Parenting Quote below…

17:23

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (Quran 17: 23-24)

 

Sharing Ramadan with Neighbors

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This is something my mother does for her neighbors and is well received!

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Here’s the text- I usually vary what i write yearly:
It’s Ramadan so without further ado…
Ramadan is a month Muslims celebrate.
A time to reflect, blessings to appreciate.
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset
But wait, that’s not all just yet!
Ramadan is a time for extra reflection and prayer,
A special time to reach out, to show that we care…
So we sincerely hope you enjoy this food
And that it uplifts and inspires your mood!

Print, sign your name, attach to food, deliver:)! If hand making something, list your ingredients.

and a link about sharing Ramadan with your neighbors: a snack sharing note, and more tips!

Cookie Dough Cravings

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(Featured on Huffington Post here!)

The cookie dough in the freezer is calling my name. Raw, sugary, buttery cookie dough. I can’t help myself. It’s 8 am, past suhoor time, but that doesn’t stop me. I reach into  the freezer and break off a chunk. One chunk doesn’t stop there and before I know it, I’ve eaten a few chunky tablespoons.

It’s Ramadan. I should be fasting, but I’m not. This is the third year in a row that I’m not fasting. I’m six months pregnant which exempts me from fasting, which means that right now feeding me and baby is a priority. The last two years I was nursing, which also exempted me from fasting.

I do attempt to make up my fasts and I made up quite a few in the stage when  I wasn’t nursing or pregnant, but it was lonesome as I didn’t have a whole community fervently fasting with me. I do try to listen to lectures and get in the Ramadan spirit, but it’s a little challenging with a two-year-old clamoring in the background for my attention. Needless to say, without fasting these consecutive Ramadans, it’s a little hard to get into the Ramadan spirit.

I am glad though that pregnant women and nursing women don’t have to fast because during this stage, cookie dough aside, good nutrition and nourishment is essential. So rather than moping about the amount of fasts I have to make up, or feeling like the lone eater that I am, this Ramadan I am grateful for the blessings I have this year. One healthy, super-active, toddler and one baby on the way. And cookie dough of course. Does life get better than that?

For a great article on Ramadan and Mothers, written by a mother who’s missed more fasts than me, click  here  ! And another good article here on the challenges mothers might face.

Having a Bigger Heart

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While making & playing with play-dough with Z, I was struck by these 2 cookie cutters. We need to let our hearts grow and give charity, resources, and even time so that we can earn multiple blessings. Giving your child time is one way to bond during the month of Ramadan and is one way to let your heart grow.

This photo, the stuffed tomatoes, and the cupcake photo were featured in International Ramadan Photography Competition here . I’ve been submitting some of my work so it’s rewarding to see them choose a few of my photos to share with the world. There are some amazing photos that people are submitting during this month of Ramadan from around the world!