How do you know if you are close to Allah?

This is something I found on Hijrah To Algeria… blog and I just had to share…

If you want to find out whether you are close to Allah, this is the way:

Look at how easy or difficult it is to do different actions that are pleasing to Allah (reading qu’ran, giving sadaqa, qiyam, siyam, etc).

If you are so happy and take great pleasure at performing these acts, and it is easy for you – this is a sign that you are close to Allah.

If it is difficult for you and you find yourself making excuses, and it is hard for you and you literally have to drag yourself to do these acts, then know that you do not have a close relationship with Allah.’

Who can ever hold a burning coal?

Alhamdulillah this past weekend we were able to take a trip to hear a couple of very beneficial lectures by Br. Mohammad Elshinawy. One of the lectures “Walking Alone: Bearing the Flag of the Stranger” was something that we really needed to hear.

This lecture was based on the hadeeth;

“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so *tooba (glad tidings) to the strangers.”

*Tooba is a tree in Paradise promised to the strangers of this dunya. It is such a special gift because it is not something easily attainable. The strangers are the likes of the believers mentioned in Surah Al-Ahzab, in the incident of the Battle of the Ditch (Khandaq), whose faith was strengthened in the face of great adversity.

Trials and tests are necessary because they act as a mechanism to filter out those who are pure and to expose those who have the disease of doubts in their hearts.

In times of ease it is easy to claim eman, but it is only in times of trials that our true colors are revealed. Hence we only know our true selves by seeing how well or how miserably we fare while undergoing difficulties and hardships in this life.

Masha-Allah there are sooo many lessons from this lecture but one that truly struck me was when Brother Mohammad mentioned the hadeeth;

“There will come a time of patience when the one who adheres steadfastly to his religion will be like one who holds a burning coal.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2260; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 957. )

And then he asked the question:

Who can ever hold a burning coal?

And then came the crystal clear answer:

With certainty that if I let go of this coal, what comes after it will be hotter….i.e. hell-fire.

Ramadhan Lapbook Pics & Printouts!

As promised…a more detailed post on our Ramadhan Lapbook! Sorry about the pics though, the lapbook was made 2 Ramadhans ago and as you can see it has been well-loved! (smiles)

Alhamdulillah I have edited some of the mini books we used and added more graphics etc, so they look much better than the plain mini books you’ll see from our pics (smiles). Insha-Allah you’ll be able to use them for your own Ramadhan lapbook. Just click on the pdf files to view and download the printouts. I would say the printouts are best suited for Grades 1 and up, but of course you can modify them to accomodate younger kids.

We got a lot of the ideas for this lapbook from TJ Ramadhan. Masha-Allah they even have activities for every single day of Ramadhan! After going through the lessons from TJ that I thought would be of interest to my daughter, we made this lapbook to supplement the lessons learnt. Also lapbooks are great for reviewing and your child will enjoy refering to them again and again to help remember all the stuff you’ve covered!

Here are some of the activties we did for our Ramadhan Lapbook. (You can always click on the pics for a more closer look.)

1) We made a Ramadhan Lunar Calendar.  

Go here and scroll down to Activity 3 and click on  Make Your Own Lunar Calendar. We printed a blank calendar and the different pictures of the moon throughout the month from the lunar cycle. Then once we knew when the first day of Ramadhan was, we pasted the different pics of the moon onto the calendar, starting from the new moon and so on.

We also cut out squares and wrote the dates on them and taped them onto the corresponding moon pic so we could flip and see what the moon looked like on a particular date. Insha-Allah we’re planning to do to this calendar again this year but this time we’re going to use different colored paper for the dates to make it more colorful.

2) We learnt the reason why we fast and the daleel (proof) for this. View Why Do We Fast Activity pdf file.

3) We reviewed our memorization of Surah Al-Qadr and we learnt the meaning of this surah. (View Surah Al-Qadr Activity pdf file)

4) We learnt and memorized a hadeeth about fasting. (View Hadeeth on Fasting pdf file)

5) We learnt some new Arabic words (View New Arabic Words pdf file)

6) We learnt some new vocab (View New Words  pdf file)

7) We learnt about the things breaks your fast & about the people who are exempted from fasting (View Who Are Exempted & What Breaks Your Fast Accordian Books pdf file)

 

 

9) We learnt about Laylat-ul-Qadr

10) We learnt about odd and even numbers

11) We had a Ramadhan Quiz (View Ramadhan Quiz pdf file)

12) We made a book about Ramadhan

 

13) We made a Ramadhan du’a book (View Ramadhan Dua Book pdf file)

14) We learnt that Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and we learnt our Islamic months. (View Islamic Months Activity pdf file)

15) We practised our Arabic handwriting by doing some copywork. (View Command To Fast Copywork doc.file)

I’ve also made a Fasting Cycle Wheel to add on to our Ramadhan lapbook. (View Fasting Cycle Wheel Book pdf file)

If you’re new to lapbooking, I’ve just found out about a great site for Islamic lapbooking resources! And even if you’re not a big fan of lapbooks, insha-Allah you can still make use of the resources here to supplement your Ramadhan lesson plans.

Have fun lapbooking!

Being Able to Homeschool is a Favor from Allah

These last couple of weeks we took a trip to visit a friend whose husband recently passed away. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’oon. Verily to Allah we belong and to Him we will return.

Like me she has 3 very young kids, and she has been a homemaker eversince her first child was born. But now Mommy has to be Daddy too and insha-Allah she will begin her new job soon. Her younger kids will be sent to a Muslim runned daycare while the oldest one will enter an Islamic school bi ithnillah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make it easy for her and her family. Ameen.

Looking at her situation made me realize the great favor that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed me with, and which I have taken for granted all these years…that He has given me a husband who is healthy and fit and is able to provide for us so that I can be a full-time mom and homeschool my kids.

You know homeschooling in itself can be trying at times and one of the most hardest experience I’ve had was to homeschool and attend to a nursing baby at the same time. Alhamdulillah, my son is fully weaned now and those days seem far away, yet when I really think about it, if given a choice I would willingly go through that all over again rather than go out and work. Yes, it’s true that just the mere thought of not being able to be home with my kids is enough to make me feel all queasy inside!

And Alhamdulillah, I am so grateful that I do have a choice and I chose to be a stay at home Mom. What I really need to understand is that if Allah wills, it could easily be that I do not have a choice but to work. O Allah please help me to remember this and be grateful to you for your favors. Ameen.

Sometime ago I remember reading a very beautiful piece of naseeha from Tea & A Think:

“As one du`aa goes (received by email one day):

Allah, I thank Thee for this sink of dirty dishes… we have plenty of food to eat.

I thank Thee for this pile of dirty, stinky, laundry… we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.

And I would like to thank Thee, for those unmade beds in there. They were so comfortable last night. I know many have no bed.

My thanks to Thee, Allah, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory… they are so convenient.

I thank Thee for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly. It has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals.

I thank Thee Allah, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today… it has baked so many things over the years.

The whole family is grateful for all that tall grass that needs mowing, the lawn that needs raking… we all enjoy the yard.

I thank Thee Allah, even for that slamming screen door. My kids are healthy and able to run and play.

Alhamdulillah.

Allah, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says Thou has richly blessed my family. I shall do them all cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully, In sha Allah.”

Even though the du’a is specifically about being thankful to Allah for having household chores (which I do not particularly look forward to) and looking at them from a different angle and actually appreciating them, I think we can change it to accomodate any circumstance in our lives…

In my case for example;

O Allah I thank you for all the whining and squabbling from my kids that I hear on a daily basis…alhamdulillah I have kids and am able to be home with them and enjoy their company.

O Allah I thank you for all the trials and tests I’ve had to deal with in homeschooling…alhamdulillah my kids do not have to attend public school.

O Allah I thank you for all the times I wish my husband wasn’t so busy with his work and studies so he would have more time to spend with us…alhamdulillah we have enough money so that I do not have to go out and share the burden of providing for the family.

Shukoor Alhamdulillah. All praise and thanks be to the Lord of all the Worlds.

We love lapbooks!

When we started out, I kept coming across the word “lapbook” on homeschooling websites and homeschooling blogs, like it was the latest “in” word and the hippest thing to do in homeschoolingdom!

“What a funny-sounding name!” …was my initial reaction. And when I actually saw a lapbook, it was met with skeptism, “What’s so special about this strange looking book that has almost every homeschooling mom raving about?”

Well, being human and not wanting to be left out (sheepish smile), I decided we should give it a try. After some research, we made our very first lapbook on Butterflies, some 2 years ago, when Asmaa was 5.

 

Alhamdulillah we learnt alot from this project; including the butterfly life cyle, interesting facts about butterflies and insects, differences between butterflies and moths, symmetrical/non-symmetrical shapes and some useful vocab. And of course from then on you could say we were hooked!

As a natural progression our next lapbook was on insects;

And by the Will of Allah, it turned out that Hands of a Child was giving away a free Project Pack on Bees at that time and me being the frugal homeschooler, grabbed the offer. (smiles) And so that was to be our next project… 

HOAC’s project packs are really convenient (though a bit too expensive for my liking), and if you’re new at lapbooking I highly recommend that you get hold of their quarterly freebies to get an idea of how go about making your mini-books for your lapbooks.

Currclick is another good site that offers weekly freebies and from time to time they do give away project packs, so keep a look out for those too. As a matter of fact, their current free offering is a Unit Study on Butterflies. This unit is loaded with useful resources for different age groups and you can use the ideas for your lapbook too, so don’t pass up this offer!

Amongst some of the lapbooks that we’ve done include, “Seeds and Plants”, “Spiders”, “Ramadhan”, “The Water Cycle” and one that we’re working on currently; on Salah.

Insha-Allah I plan to cover some of the lapbooks that we’ve done in greater detail, including more pics so do drop by often!

The Big “7”

The Messenger of Allaah  said:

“Command your children to make salah when they reach the age of seven and spank them if they leave it off when they reach the age of ten and separate them from each other in the beds.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 407; Abu Dawood, 494. Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4025)

In explaining the above hadeeth in his lecture; “O My Dear Son”, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi states something to the effect that a child should already know how to perform the salah by the age of 7. Because it is only when a child knows how to pray that you can actually command him to pray.

This is the year that Asmaa turns 7. If we go by the Islamic calendar she is already 7 but she still has a couple more months to go according to the Gregorian calendar.

Asmaa  is only too aware of this hadeeth, we refer to it from time to time and from our talks I have gathered that she is waiting for the moment that she turns 7 according to the Gregorian calendar to begin praying all her 5 daily salawat on a regular basis insha-Allah. That is fine with me, so all this while she only joins me in salah on a voluntary basis, ie. whenever she feels like it. It’s only recently that I have made a conscious effort in encouraging her to pray with me for Dhuhr and ‘Asr prayers and at times, for Maghrib.

Alhamdulillah, her process of learning about the salah has been a gradual one;

When she was more than one years old, we were pleasantly surprised when we found her imitating us in making “sujood”, you know, toddler-style; legs straight with only forehead and palms on the ground (smiles). She was our first child, so this was something new to us, but alhamdulillah we soon learnt that almost all little ones do this; ie. imitate their parents in salah. Masha-Allah, isn’t that cute? (smiles)

And then when she was 2, she started copying our recitations especially Surah Al-Fatihah and the other shorter surahs. And Alhamdulillah, some of the earlier surahs she learnt were mostly by ear and we just had to make sure her pronunciation was correct as she got older.

Then when she was 4 years old I happened to be teaching wudu’ and salah to the 1st graders at the weekend Islamic school where we used to live. Asmaa was always interested in the lessons I was preparing for my class and she would actually be the first one to complete my worksheets when I finish printing them. (laughs)

So based upon her own interest, I taught her how to make wudu properly, ensuring that all the necessary parts got wet, I also taught her the correct positions during salah, making sure she does not repeat the common mistakes made by children, for eg. making sure her arms are raised and not on the ground during sujood, that her toes are pointed towards the qiblah and let me tell you that it was quite an adventure teaching her how to sit for tashahud! (smiles)

Earlier this year she learnt the opening du’a and the recitation for tashahud at the weekend Islamic school here and alhamdulillah she now knows the basic requirements for salah for a child her age. Although she has the tashahud memorised, she just needs practise to be able to recite it smoothly, with no long pauses and insha-Allah performing regular salah should do the trick.

Also, my dear daughter can be quite a perfectionist when she wants to be. One day, after performing salat-ul-Dhuhr, I saw tears streaming down her cheeks. Apparently even though I had recited the surahs silently,  there were parts when it was sightly “audible” and it disturbed her concentration and messed up her own recitation. I felt bad especially since we’re not supposed to disturb others in our salah and made it a point not to let out any audible sounds during the silent salawat so as not to disturb my sensitive salah partner.

Asmaa then suggested making a Salah lapbook, to better help her in performing her salah. It was a much welcomed suggestion of which I was only too happy to oblige (smiles).

We got to it right away, and I found some really useful stuff from Taibideen Jr’s Islamic Studies Section. The ‘Salat Companion’ was exactly as it’s name implies; user friendly, convenient and handy, and Asmaa would use it as a review tool each time before we perform our salah.

These last few days just looking at Asmaa making wudu, putting on her prayer garments, quietly glancing though her ‘Salat Companion’ while preparing for salah and then seeing her praying her rawatib prayers purely on her own initiative, has indeed been a blessing and a coolness for my eyes…masha-Allah, shukur, alhamdulillah! 

It made me have one of ‘those’ special moments that mothers and fathers have from time to time, when we look at our children and realize how much they have grown…(sniff, sniff)

You know what? My first-born is 7 years old, masha-Allah! The reality of that statement brings to mind too many mixed emotions; a sense of pride at her accomplishments thus far, a sense of wonder at how much she has changed over the years, and a deep-rooted sense of concern (translated as constant worrying!) for her that I think will never go away…I know because my own mom still worries about me and all of her children till this very day! But then again, it’s a good type of worry insha-Allah; out of wanting the best for your child, both in this world and in the hereafter…

رَبِّ اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلاَةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاء 

“O my Lord! Make me one who performs As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and (also) from my offspring, our Lord! And accept my invocation. (Surah Ibrahim:40)

When the going gets tough…

When I was younger, whenever I was faced with hardships and trials, I would always look for a way out. In my mind I thought there was a place somewhere on earth that I could be where life would be free from any struggles or hardships.

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) of those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to the test). (Surah Al-Ankabut: 2-3)

 

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاء

وَالضَّرَّاء وَزُلْزِلُواحَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللّهِ  

أَلا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ  

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah”? Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near! (Surah Al-Baqarah:214)

As I matured and grew up and learnt more about the religion, I came to the realisation and acceptance that life is a continous struggle. No doubt there will be good days but there will be bad days too. And our best course of action would be to prepare for those bad days.

So here in this little blog of mine, under the category “A Fortress of Reminders”, insha-Allah I hope to build a list of reminders that I can go to again and again to help cope with those stressful times. (smiles)

Of course the degree of our trials and tests is only equivalent to our level of eman and my own little tests are in no way comparable to the trials faced by the prophets or scholars. But it is humbling to look at those who have been tested to a greater degree and see how they passed through the tests successfully. Insha-Allah their stories will serve as inspirations in dealing with our trials.

One such example is the life of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) who led a life of poverty and  was imprisoned and severely tortured towards the end of his life.

Due to the hardships and trials that Imam Ahmad was going through, his son Abdullah asked him, “O my father, when is relaxation (from all this pain and poverty) going to come? And Imam Ahmad’s answer was, “With the first step into jannah”.

Insha-Allah, I hope that the days when I feel stressed out I’ll remember this and be more patient. (smiles)

The story of Imam Ahmad was mentioned in a really inspiring khutbah by Muhammad AlShareef; ‘Have you tasted Jannah?’ and you can listen to it here.



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