I wanna be just like mom

Do we all think that our moms can do everything, or is it just me? Mine can cook, bake, sew, paint, knit, move heavy furniture, laugh till the tears roll, work a full-time or a part-time job, raise kids, make a home, get two completely different degrees, wash a car and do her own taxes.  That’s just the start of it.  She also professes to have eyes in the back of her head, and is so convincing that some young boys believe her.

How did one person learn to do all of these things in the space of half a lifetime, while I can barely sew on a button and have trouble using a rolling pin, not to mention my aversion for invoices and organisation?

I guess we can all just try to live up to our mothers, and hope that some day we can do half the things they do with such ease.  I am not grateful enough most of the time, but when I stop to think about it, my mom is really a superwoman and my life would be quite a shambles without her periodic spring cleaning, food-dropping-off, kitchen-explaining antics.

It’s weird to be so different from a mother who is an extrovert and loves to be around people, when all I ever want to do is sit in a corner with my book or a pillow.  I was trying to explain to mom the other day about introverts and extroverts.  I used to think that introverts were just shy people and extroverts were just rambunctious and outgoing.  Turns out, that’s not accurate.

An introvert is actually just someone who gets their energy from solitude and quiet time.  An extrovert recharges by being around other people.  So while a group of people drains me of all energy and good humour, that is the perfect setting for mom to sparkle with energy and happiness.  No matter what my intentions, I don’t like visiting people, or going out in large groups.  I’d rather have tea with one or two close friends, or just sit on the couch with my sister as we rant at the reality tv stars that flood the media.

How do we find a balance in a family mixed with both introverts and extroverts?  That’s something I’m still trying to figure out.  I’m sure mom already has the answer though.



Baby clothesline

New year, new life.

2014 was filled with weddings, and 2015 was kinda dry, but 2016 is set to be the year of the baby with 7 new ones coming to our family!

Trying to be a good “sacred vessel”, I did a search online and found some good advice in an article by Seekers Hub on duaas and surahs to read during pregnancy.

Briefly, Surah Luqman for the 1st trimester – it deals with advice to children, and Luqman (AS) was also very wise.  This is probably why this surah is recommended for when the baby’s brain is developing.  Next up, when the baby’s facial features are forming, Surah Yusuf for the second trimester.  Lastly, Surah Maryam for the last trimester, as labour approaches. It is also recommended that Surah Inshiqaq be read daily throughout pregnancy, plus Ya Lateef 129 times morning and evening.

Also, think happy thoughts, listen to good sounds, read a lot of Durood and Qur’aan and eat melon for a beautiful baby.  That’s the bare minimum that I’ll try to stick to.

There’s so much other advice out there about good and bad and everything in between, I guess just do what you can to stay cool and happy.  Something I found worth a smile was that someone recommended just looking at a picture of the Kaabah when you are too tired to be actively engaged in Ibaadat 🙂



Princesses, tree change dolls…

Have you seen how skanky some of these new Barbie dolls (and other girls’ dolls) are?  A lot of them look like hookers.  I find it really creepy that girls get to play make-believe with these red-light-women.

I’m not the only one.  There’s this lady from Tasmania who takes old discarded dolls, and gives them a modesty makeover (or a make-under), to make them look believable and decent.  Check out her website, Tree Change Dolls.  The before-and-after pics are amazing.

Also, I came across the lament of a feminist mother who wonders, “does every little girl have to be a princess?”  She says that even the intrepid, dirty-kneed explorer Dora now has a princess version doll.

I remember not being very interested in Barbie dolls even though we had quite a nice range of clothes and furniture for our Barbie collection.  I had my princess days, and my tomboy days.  But at least I got to play with whatever suited my mood at the time, without having pink shoved at me from every direction.

Taalim socks and a spa for your heart

Mum gave me socks (to wear to Taalim) and they’re very spotty.  I like ’em.

I’ve been meaning to write about the recent Ijtima weekend away – most of us ladies spent the weekend at Rania’s house, since she lives in Roshnee. There was a lot of fun and a lot of noise (with 12 kids in the house we could expect no less).

But the best thing were those quiet moments after lunch or supper, when the kids had run away to play and the ladies were left sitting “pikking” at the food and talking. Ijtima vibes had gotten to us, so we shared stories and had many discussions about religion.  We even played this awesome board-game, I think it’s called the 5 Pillars, and it made me realise how much more I need to learn, even about the basics. In the dead of night, Maleeha told us about Qiyaamat and what she had read…why is it that night time always leads to  more ponderous thoughts?

We ate and ate (yellow maize meal even made it to the menu!) and we talked and talked.  We bombarded Rania’s house but she is such a cool as a cucumber hostess that I have no idea if we frazzled her nerves.  We tried to listen to some of the lectures and we asked the guys for summaries of the main ones.  I heard that there were even some Nikahs at the Ijtima.  It felt like school holidays all over again.  I spoke to Khadeeja about the Barbie movies and I sleepily heard a whispered argument between Nuha and Imaan.

We sang Nazms around the dining room table and we attempted to help the Roshnee ladies with potato peeling…sadly, even though we all arrived armed with potato peelers in our handbags, we kept missing the potato peeling sessions.  On our drive out, the courteous Roshnee-ans bid us farewell with ice cold bottles of water and friendly directions.  The people of Roshnee were really hospitable (something like the Ansaar of Medina).

It was good to camp out on the lounge floor, have long languid lunches and rambling discussions on Deen.

Oh, the socks, I like them…So I took them with me on a weekend Mastooraat Jamaat.  I didn’t think I would ever go on one of those, but I did… and it was awesome.  My cousin Razina said that going in Jamaat is like a spa for your soul (I agree).  Only focusing on one thing, leaving my cell phone and all other issues behind, it was like pressing the reset button on my mind.

It was nice to go out with some of the “old workers”, those ladies really took care of us newbies (especially Sweetie Khala, whose group I joined).

I heard a story about a revert travelling with a Jamaat telling a moulana that he is a “Thaalim”.  When the moulana confusedly asked why the man was calling him an oppressor, he replied something along the lines of: My parents died without Imaan, and you people had not come to spread the message yet.

This is our duty.  We need not have worry for ourselves only.  We must have worry for the Ummah.  We are not Indians, Black, White, African, European, Arab….we are Ummatis.


Marriage, tying up loose ends and advice from the uncle – with a digression on Islamic Finance

The Husband and I got married with only a Nikah.  No civil marriage done in court, just our Masjid marriage certificate signed by us and the witnesses and the Moulana. Whether Islamic marriage is or is not recognized in South African law is a complicated question that I would not like to get into (partly because I don’t fully understand the issue).  Anyways, at least some parts of Islamic marriages are recognized, but this has been a piecemeal process and there is no overarching legal recognition that can give us complete peace of mind.

So, a few weeks before our Nikah, there was debate and discussion and advice floating around.  Most of the lawyers that we worked with strongly suggested that we get civilly married along with performing Nikah.  But, when questioned closely, nobody could give us a tangible reason as to why we needed a civil marriage.  After weighing the pros and cons and getting confused and un-confused, we decided to have Nikah only – we don’t want any other legal system to lay claim to our lives.  But we live in a secular country, so we knew there may be some issues lurking.

Luckily, I seem to have found the issue and there is quite a simple solution.  The issue relates to having a will.  Before getting into that, some background….

Marriage in Islam is closest to a marriage out of community of property, with no accrual – this means that assets are not shared – it does not all go into one big pot. Islamically, as I understand it, the husband provides for the family, and if the wife earns anything she is free to do with that as she pleases.  But in South Africa, the default position is that you are married in community of property – this means that everything is in the pot, mixed together.  If you don’t want this system to automatically stick to your marriage, you must write and sign an ante-nuptial contract (ANC) which you must have notarised (signed in front of a person with the fancy title of Notary) and you must have that contract registered (I think that means it must be lodged at Home Affairs, but I may be wrong about where exactly the lodging happens).

Anyways, we did not sign and notarise and lodge a formal ANC.

A few months later, while sorting out some investment issues, the investment uncle asked me whether I had an Islamic will.

The nice thing about this uncle was that he knows about Islamic Finance and investment and he gave me some interesting info on Al-Baraka bank and the various investments and accounts you can open with them.

So, you can use FNB or ABSA or other banks who have windows for Islamic Finance (this means that they have a few Islamic Finance products) or you can use Al-Baraka or another Islamic bank, where the whole range is Shariah compliant.  Since I already bank with one of the big 4, I may as well just switch over to their Shariah option.  But the Al-Baraka products do look exciting – because we can’t earn interest, earning something in a Halaal way on the cash just sitting in my bank account seems attractive.  They have these fixed term accounts (for example the money sits in the bank for 30 days, earns around 3% return, and then you can withdraw it, or reinvest it for another 30 days).

Anyways, just to digress a bit more – Islamic Finance creates structures that allows Muslims to invest, take out loans etc without having to deal with interest.  In Islam the idea is that money is a method of exchange, it does not hold value in itself, therefore money can’t make more money.  Your investment must be backed by capital or assets or something else physical – you must work productively to make a return on investment.  Islamic Finance contracts aim to eliminate interest, speculation and uncertainty.  The contracts are based on fairness.  So just a tip – go speak to a friendly Muslim investment uncle if you want to make clean investments.

The point of the story is that the Uncle also asked me about my will, and I told him that I didn’t have one.  But his explanation of the importance of a will has made me realize why the Husband and I both have to have wills (a thing we plan to do soon). If you are married Islamically and do not have a civil marriage and if there is a dispute on death, there is a chance that the dispute may lead to South African law being applied to your estate (and not Shariah law).  To make sure that that doesn’t happen, you must make sure that you have a will – if you have a will, the default South African law position will be overridden and then your estate can be sorted out in a Shariah way.

Islamic law tells us how two thirds of our estates must devolve (ie who gets what), but it also allows us to decide what to do with the last one third.  For example, we can bequeath that one third to charity or a friend etc.  If you want to make sure that your assets are properly dealt with when you die, you must have a Shariah will.  You can even find some templates online (click here for an example). I once read (I think) that making sure your estate is properly dealt with has consequences in the Qabr, so it’s important.

Anyways, the moral of this very long story is – get a will.

Nieces, nephews, the apple-butterfly story and a shout-out to Mr Darcy

Some of the most random conversations I’ve had have been with my nieces and nephews.  One night when the lights went out we all sat on the floor and told stories. Nuha’s one was about a butterfly and an apple (I don’t think she’ll remember this now because she was so young, and I’m not sure that I’m remembering it correctly either) and when we all started giggling she yelled at us for being “erretating”! Which is funny now still, especially because Nuha is so cool and calm nowadays.

For some reason one of the first words I remember Imaan saying is “water”, so I always associate watermelon with Imaan.  This kid really knows how to do a supermodel pose for a photo (at some point when she was about 2 years old she couldn’t smile for the camera at all – I think the concept of a fake-smile confused her sincere and uncomplicated picture of the world).

Aside: did you know (who knows if this is truly true but I read it somewhere) that we learn what smells good and what smells bad?  This means that roses smell rosy and sewage smells gross because at some point we taught our brains that we should have good or bad reactions to those smells.  This means that we could potentially have taught ourselves to like all smells!  If only I had known this before walking the smelly streets of India!  Anyways, I think that we also learn what to fear, for instance, the dark.  When the lights went out on that fateful storytelling night, the kids weren’t scared at all – why? Because they had not yet learnt to be afraid of the dark.  I wish that I could unlearn my fear of cockroaches and insects and things with wings.

Also, don’t underestimate energy – when Rania, Hanna, Nadia and I were babysitting one day, we thought we could get the kids tired by running around the yard, and then we’d all get some quiet time – well, we ended up tired, but the kids kept running (bad plan).  I want boundless energy!! How do we get that?  How can a kid spend hours playing the same game but I can’t even do one thing without looking at Twitter or email etc – what great focus they have.

The girls also sometimes end up in endless fits of giggles.  Nuha, Imaan, Tahani and Khadeeja have these insane laughing fits that remind me that kids laugh hundreds of times a day and adults, I think, laugh under 10 times a day.  How sad.   Why don’t we find things infinitely funny?  Are we afraid of being silly?

I also envy their sense of style and self-confidence.  Khadeeja, who I once thought was a tomboy, felt confident walking around with a tiara, heels and a flowy dress for a whole evening out.  How cool is that?!  Tahani, a bit more shy, still manages to surprise me when I notice her busting a move in one of our impromptu dancing moments.

The boys – well they’re just another ballgame all together, but I must say that I’m surprised by how affectionate they can be.  Momo is pretty much a tall almost-adult by now and he scandalizes me by how much he knows about…stuff.  He’s just about one firm handshake away from being a man, but it’s still strange to see this proper fully formed person moping around when I still remember the chubby cute baby (oh gosh I sound old).  Talha is an adorable little ball of energy, strong as a house and sweet as a marshmallow.  Although it’s little Uzayr who teaches me most about manners, always politely saying “Jee” to everything and everyone.

Laughter, confidence, manners, fun – I want to be a child for a day – and it’s not that hard – hanging out with these guys, my childhood feels just a skip and a hop away.

By the way, on the anniversary of my Elizabeth Bennett day, a bucketful of love and toasties must be sent to my very own Mr Darcy.  It’s probably time to read Pride and Prejudice (again).

But in the meantime, I need to remember to enter the world of these kiddos more often – so much fun has yet to be had, and they remind me of all things good, and teach me many things forgotten.


Mothers, sisters and khalas

I believe that having a sister is the coolest thing ever.  Ladies, if you have just one daughter, try for another.

My own sister Hanna is my fashion guide, movie-buddy, mind reader…and spirit animal (just kidding, I don’t even know what a spirit animal is).  I can always count on her to be with me at those interminable functions or events that us Indian girls are forced to be at (where are our brothers at these events, you might ask? They were allowed to stay home and play Playstation.  Maybe our parents thought the girls are like those debutantes from Jane Austen’s time, who needed be “seen” on the scene.  But I digress…)  Hanna will bust a happy-dance move with me for any small random awesomeness that only we understand, and we can talk in half-formed sentences, sometimes just one word conveying a whole history of meaning.  She is also always ready to say “BAM!” at any given moment, and everyone needs a Bam-Girl around.  It makes life worth living.

Then there’s  the cousins who are like sisters, and these often inevitably end up being the Khala’s daughters.  The reason probably is that our mothers also know the value of their sisters, so we end up spending a lot of time with those ladies, to our immense benefit.

I have only 1 sister and I have only 1 khala, but my 1 sweety-khala was kind enough to have given me 4 more sisters (thanks Aunty-tjie!)

If I ever vaguely yell “mum?” into a room where both sweety-khala and mum are sitting, they will both look up and say yes.  Khala’s are second moms.  Sweety-khala is not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong, treats me like a daughter, planned my wedding and made sure it went smoothly, calmed my mom down when I was acting crazy, and just generally being one of the most fun, practical, energetic and lovely ladies I know.  Khala teaches me the value of a good list (I love making lists) and how to throw a shoe with flair (in long-gone days she was always throwing shoes at the kids to get their attention:)

Moms are well – moms.  My mom has a laugh that can stop traffic (in a good way), a giggle that can warm your heart and a streak of perfectionism that I will never match. She is always trying to psycho-analyse us, much to Hanna and my amusement (because I have no idea where her theories come from) but she is always there: to stitch up a trouser, whip up a meal, laugh at a funny picture, dish on the gossip and give tons of advice.  Having a young (and young-at-heart) mom and khala keep things rolling at the speed of fun.

I spent most of my childhood with Rania, just a few months older than me, who is one of sweety-khala’s middle children.  We spent endless days together, sharing our common belief that one of our great-aunts looked very much like Nelson Mandela, studying together, making big decisions together, crying and laughing and chilling and everything in between.  Rania was my first love (in a totally platonic way guys!) And she is so beautiful MashaAllah!  May her future daughters have all of that beauty and more, InshAllah.

Nadia is the youngest of the bunch, whose childhood we stole by always being around – by this I mean that she was always surrounded by older girls, making her mature beyond her years.  This is the girl who will make a plan and enlist the help of strangers to get stuff done.  She is the youngest but the most resourceful person I know – and brave!

Rania, Nadia, Hanna and I were always off on a mission, building the tent, choreographing a dance, experimenting with make-up, taking our first selfies together, whiling away endless holiday hours playing scrabble or Jenga or building puzzles or playing TeacherTeacher/AuntyAunty/The Durban game (where we all pretended to pack up and be off on an adventure to Durban) and just plain being together.

Razina and Raha are the older sisters I never had.  They taught me the facts of life (to my utter horror), took us along on holidays, faffed around with us when we were too young to be cool or interesting and were really the inspiration for Rania, Nadia, Hanna and my growth into women.  I think the 4 of us all wanted to be just like Razina and Raha (not a bad idea at all).

Razina is gentle (with surprising outbursts of humour and laughter) while Raha is our ringleader.  Raha knows someone who knows something, she can get you a deal, give you directions, hand-make something that can be handmade (I can’t even give a concrete example here ‘coz I can’t hand-make anything) and basically sort out all of life’s problems.  Her mind works so practically that my mind just boggles.  Razina is the pacifier, keeping everyone happy and loved and feeling toasty inside.

Razina and Raha are now bringing up our next generation of ladies, and watching those girls play and love each other like we do, I know that their childhoods will be just as special as ours was.

With the backdrop to my life filled with scenes acted out by these ladies, I must say: life is good.

So here’s to all the amazing ladies in our lives.  Jummuah Mubaarak!