Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hamdilah Salama!

Salams Sisters! It's good to be home. I've been back in Egypt since EID, alhamdulillah. This was the first time since I've moved here where I felt like I was coming home. Surprisingly so. I had a nice vacay in the States, don't get me wrong. But I didn't feel I accomplished much of what I expected to. Making Dawah, getting to the gym, tutoring the kids, etc. etc. Time seemed to fly by and then I spent most of Ramadan alone, (hubs was away on business). Where I didn't really "feel" Ramadan, astagfirullah. I live far from the Masjid and don't really know anyone in the Islamic community there, so Ramadan was kinds of a blur. And I didn't have the motivation to write. But now that I'm back things are kind of feeling more normal. My daughter is in school alhamdulillah, and my son will soon be back in pre-school insha'Allah. Anyway, this was a quick, "hello again" to my sistas whom I've missed in the blogosphere. I hope to get re-acquainted soon insha'Allah. May Allah bless you and your families, Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Losing Yourself

Salam Walaykum sisters! Sorry haven't posted in a while, just settling in here on my summer vacay. I have a little food for thought and a question for you all. Do you ever feel as if you've traded your identity for Islam? I myself feel this way occasionally, however Allah chose for me to convert early, alhamdiullilah, before I had really established my "western identity". I found Islam during my more formidable teenage years, where it really saved me from some going down a dark path. But I'm seeing a pattern with some of the sisters who are close to me, that they feel they've crossed the line of sacraficing into total anonymity. Who are you? And does it really come down to an either/or decision? Your identity or your Islam? I'm talking about the halal stuff, accepting Islam means you choose to abandon sin. I mean your hobbies, interests, aspirations, careers? Do you still know who you are as a muslim? Or do you spend your time depressed over what you used to do, who you used to be? Where does the line of sacraficing for Allah end and losing who you are begin? IMHO, a positive attitude can greatly lighten any load, religious or otherwise. It's easy to get wrapped up in the daily load than it is to remember the reason why we're sacraficing. This life is a test, and like any test, we can work hard to pass or put forth no effort and fail. No one said the road to Jenna would be easy, in fact Allah made it hard for a reason, so only the best believers would enter. We need to keep Jennah in our mind as our ultimate goal, even when times are tough, so we won't be discouraged or think that our hard work is for naught. That's number one, number two, remember that the only one who can truly change us is Allah. Pray for patience and pray for ease, and as long as your fullfilling your obigations, He will grant you what's best for you insha'Allah. Number three, why not trying to reinvent ourselves in Islam? Establishing an Islamic identity? Instead of mourning the characters of the past, what about reinventing yourself as a muslim? Conversion is all about rebirth, Allah has erased the bad stuff we've done before Islam, and given us a new start. Without any outside influence, who would you want to be if you could be anyone in the world? What would you spend more time doing and what would you stop altogether? What would you improve, phase out, change, revamp, etc? What would your personality be like? WOuld you be more patient, kinder, less of a perfectionist? There's no reason we can't begin now. If you look at it from a more porisive and inspiring angle, you might find that your true goals lie deeper in Islam than you think. These are just some of my thoughts, I'd love to hear yours, dear readers. Salams to all!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recipe Time! Authentic Egyptian Molokhia!

Alright sistas, (rolling up sleeves), here we go. My first recipe post. I wanted to post molokhia for 2 reasons, #1 I've looked online and been fairly disappointed with the molokhia recipes I've found. I feel like most of them inclued too many ingredients and not enough explanation on technique. #2 It's one of like 3 recipes my egyptian in-laws actually ask ME to make. Subhan Allah, I'm no chef, but I do love some molokhia, so I hope you'll try this and let me know how it goes. :) Bismillah Arrahman Arraheem

First you'll need:

Molokhia (frozen - probably find it at your local halal market 1 pkg for you and hubs, 2 pkgs for a family)
chicken stock (2-3 cups or 3-4 cups explaination below)
garlic (anywhere from 2-3 cloves to half a head)
ground corriander (abt 2 TBLspns)
oil or butter or ghee your preference

***note, I know this is silly but I cook this by feel, so bear with me on the measurements. Usually, I boil a chicken with an onion, some mastic grains, and habahan (cloves I think? man I'm forgetting my english), and a tomato, then fry it while I'm making the molokhia, HOWEVER, some water with a couple bullion work just as well)***

Usually you want to take the molokhia out of the freezer in the morning, so by dinnertime it's thawed, but if you're a last-minute-Lucy like I am, you can just pound it with a meat tenderizer (or slam it into the butcher block a few times -while still in the bag) to break it into chunks, it'll make it melt more easily in the chicken stock and save you a headache)
Ok so start with your chicken stock, or meat stock, or, water with bullion, bring it to a boil in a pot.
While it's boiling, chop, press, or grate your garlic, or put it in a food processor (with the corriander)- 3 big cloves for one pk, 4-6 for 2, (I like it garlicky!) Then, take a tblspoon of your butter, oil or ghee and fry the garlic with the corriander in a pan, until the smell wofts into your livingroom (abt 2 minutes) mmmmmmm set aside.
Ok, got your stock boiled? This is the part everyone leaves out so listen up! IF YOU WANT YOUR MOLOKHIA THICK AND GELATINOUS YOU HAVE TO ADD THE STOCK LITTLE BY LITTLE!!! No one told me this, I had to learn it by watching...oh the meals that were wasted! Here's the deal, if you put too much stock up front, the molokhia will separate and sink, which can also happen if you boil it too long. So, take a different pot and put only a little of the boiling stock in it (like a ladle or 2 ONLY), then add the molokhia straight from the pk to the pot, and stir it until it melds into the stock and becomes thick, THEN you can slowly add more stock until it's to your desired thickness. (Keep in mind, 1 pk will probably only need about 2-2 1/2 cups of stock, while 2 pks will take about 4) Just don't overdo it.
*TIP* Stir like the bedouins do! To stir it without spillage, take your ladle and make the bottom of the rounded part touch the bottom of the pot, and stir really fast, you'll look cool and authentic, and if you do it right there will be no splashing insha'Allah** hehehe

Once your molokhia is a good thickness, go ahead and dump in the garlic and corriander. (the egyptians gasp when they do this, they say you have to "scare the molokhia" lol) stir it around a bit on low heat, then add salt to taste, and a squeeze of lemon juice for a finishing touch. There, you've made molokhia!!
Usually it's eaten over rice, but I prefer to toast some pita bread in the oven and fry some hot peppers on the side, and dip! Hope you like it! Salam Walaykum!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Obey Your Husband

Salam Walaykum sisters! I was inspired to write this post from another blog. My question for you is, "Do you resent having to obey your husband?" Do you feel that it's unfair for your husband to have this right over you in Islam? I'm just curious, because I have a theory. My theory is that both muslims and non-muslims misinterpret this. It's easy for a non-muslim to look at this in Islam and see it as some sort of oppression. "Oh my gosh look at how weak she is, she has to do everything he says like a servant!" When someone is told that women have to obey their husband, the first thought that comes to mind is "Why?" Let's think about this. Set religion aside for a moment. If your friend asks you for a favor, you'd do it for them right? If you had company over, you'd host them well, and speak politely and respectfully and get them what they needed. So why do our husbands, who are obligated to support us from their means, deserve less than what you'd give to company? Just think of your average secular couple. If the woman has really married the man of her dreams, and they're truly in love, then naturally she will want to take care of him out of her love for him. If he asks her for something she'll usually do it no question because she values their relationship and wants it to continue happily, she values his happiness. She doesn't mind fullfilling his request. So why would it be different in Islam? If a woman is in a good marriage and she loves her husband, she won't have a problem treating him well and listening to him either. It's natural for women to be devoted to our men, and take care of them by doing what we're asked. We can do it easily out of love, so it's of utmost importance that we love who we're married to! Allah decreed that a woman has a right to choose her husband, she cannot be forced to marry, and He decreed that if she is unhappy in a marriage with him, she can get a divorce too. There's no force here, so ideally, if she loves him and is happy with her choice than there should be no problem in her listening and obeying him. Instead of thinking that Allah oppressed women by forcing them to obey the man, why not look at it like this: Allah gave us the opportunity for many many good deeds if we do what we would do naturally out of love-obey your husband! Allah has increased the value of the natural desire by rewarding us for doing it. Subhan Allahhi Rabb il Alameen!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rant for today!

I want to revolutionize Dawah! For me, and I suspect I'm not the only one, when someone asks me about Islam, I usually give some sort of response like: "Islam is belief in... (starting off with Aqeedah or Creed), and Islam prohibits... (then continuing with restrictions, whether dietary or social), and so on -if it even gets that far. It usually ends with the other person going "Hmm, I never knew that before." and politely walking away. But what did it accomplish? Yes, maybe I provided them with some more information than they had before they asked, but in reality I highlighted the DIFFERENCES between muslims and the rest of the world, and people are naturally resistent to differences. Did I arouse their interest on a personal level? Did I increase their respect for Islam? Probably not as much as I could have. Why? Because I started with the things that separate Islam from the rest of the world. And that makes people shut down and become defensive. What would have happened if I had said, "Islam is honoring your parents, respecting the elderly, visiting the sick, smiling at a stranger, helping your neighbor, keeping your promises, speaking kindly when dealing with people, protecting the weak, building communities, guarding your modesty and the dignity of your family."? Well, Allah knows but it might have caught their attention. Think about it, a devoted Christian comes to you and asks what Islam is, and within the first two sentences you say "we don't believe Jesus is God nor the Son of God", they're not going to hear another word you say, because like that you've called their intelligence into question, rejected something they base their life around. Whether they are open-minded or not, they will try to defend their viewpoint, because it's human nature to do so. I'm not saying hide Islam from them nor am I saying be "apologetic" about it. I'm simply saying, that in the beginning we can show an entirely different side of our deen, and save the stuff that creates controversy for after we've gained their respect and their ear. How much easier is it to look up to someone because of their example in society? It's a simple human fact, and Dale Carnegie knew that back when he wrote "How to Win Friends and influence People." People respond to things and change their minds when they feel they WANT to, not being forced to. Motivation is the key! If someone is criticizing and explaining Islam like an elite club that they'll never get into, or a very strict, hard regimine only the strong can maintain, then it's much easier to walk away, than to admit you have doubts about your own religion. The key to Dawah is not in telling people they're wrong, nor is it in showing the differences about Islam, it's in motivating that person to learn more, to explore, because when they do it of their own account, they are much more likely to change. So it's something to think about next time we're presented with an opportunity to explain Islam. :) peace

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Man it's HARD to Start a Blog!

Hello Blogosphere! I'm having a hard time just knowing where to start, I like to write, but haven't done so in a while. Mostly I've been reading and becoming inspired by the blogs of the muslim sisters, but it's time for me to come out of the shadows. No more lurking, so I thought I wanted my first post to be something eye-catching and fantastical, and show all you guys how cool I am and such LOL. But in reality, the blogs I've grown to love are the ones that are simple and honest. So here I go with my first intro:

Salam Walaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatahoo! I'm Umm Hamza, born and raised in the good ol' USA, I reverted to Islam and married my Egyptian husband almost 8 years ago. (feeling old now). I moved to Egypt almost 6 years ago, and have been living here and raising our two kids ever since. My DH manages a hedge fund in the US, and comes to visit us a few months each year.

I don't know what my intentions are with this blog, I think maybe I just need an outlet to express myself, and I'm hoping to meet and make friends with other sisters with similar interests and experiences. (Maybe even starting my own country for the American Reverts, because sometimes I feel like I don't fit in anywhere...) But, anyway, hellos to all and thanks for stopping by!