Archive for July, 2008

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.

Say it with a Smile

Picture this:-

It’s past bedtime, you told your 5 year old son to put away his toys and get ready for bed. 30 minutes later you go into your son’s room and he’s still happily playing with his toys. Now, what would your immediate reaction be?

Would it be something like:-

“Didn’t I tell you to put away your toys and get ready for bed!? Why are you still playing with your toys? Put them away, now!”

Now, let’s take a look at how the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam dealt with an almost similar situation. Take special note of the words in bold and underlined.
When he was 10 years old, Umm Sulaym, the mother of Anas Ibn Malik, gave her son in the service of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam.
In his ten years as the Prophet’s servant Anas said “….I served him for ten years, and he never said, “Uff” (an expression of disgust) to me. He never said, ‘Why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say, ‘Why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Anas also said,
“Allah’s Messenger salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam had the best disposition amongst people. He sent me (when I was a child) on an errand one day, and I said: By Allah, I would not go. I had, however, this idea in my mind that I would do as Allah’s Apostle (SAW) had commanded me to do. I went out until I happened to come across children who had been playing in the street. In the meanwhile, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) came there and he caught me by the back of my neck from behind me. As I looked towards him I found him smiling and he said: Unays, did you go where I told you to go? I said: Allah’s Messenger, yes, I am going. (Narrated by Muslim)
Masha-Allah! Notice that even though Anas was a still a child he was at least more than 10 years old when this incident happened? Notice how the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam did not get upset, but merely reminded him of the task in a good-natured manner? 
This hadeeth shows that Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam understood the psychology of children and even teenagers; ie. they will forget and they will make mistakes (just like us, adults, huh?), so the burden falls upon us to be merciful towards them and overlook their faults.

As a parent I can only say that this is much easier said than done. We may remember it one day and forget the next. But as I recall my own experiences from being a child, a mother, a wife and an adult, I have learnt that in general we, as human beings respond more positively to gentleness than to harshness. It really is true that it’s not what you say but how you say it.

To illustrate this, think of something mean to say to your loved one…and imagine saying it to him/her with a huge smile on your face. Do you think your loved one will get offended? Then think of saying something really nice to your loved one, this time say it in the meanest of tones…you get what I mean?

So, let’s revisit the above scene:-

We open the door to our son’s room and we see that he is still playing with his toys…

We walk calmly towards him, sit ourselves down next to him, put our arm around his shoulders and say in the gentlest of tones; “Are you going to put away your toys and get ready for bed?”, with a big smile on our face…

May Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us patience in dealing with our children in the best of manners. Ameen.

(I learnt about this hadeeth from an AlMaghrib class I took on Islamic Manners; “The Rules of Engagement” some years ago. And somehow the way the Ustadh conveyed it to us made it stick to my head till this very day, and so I thought it was indeed something worth sharing. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward Shakyh Muhmmad Faqih with the best of rewards. Ameen.)

A Painful Reminder

As we go about our daily tasks as homemakers, from time to time the inevitable accident occurs, and for me, it usually takes place in the kitchen; for eg getting a small cut while slicing those onions, getting slight burns on my arms and hands from hot oil as it shoots out the pan while frying fish… etc, etc, etc.

But these are just tiny accidents Alhamdulillah and I thank Allah and seek His protection from any major accidents. Ameen.

Moreover, feeling a little pain from time to time is actually good for you. (smiles) And what’s my proof? None other than the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhe wa salam;

‘Abdullah Bin ‘Amr reported that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam said:

“If a Muslim is pricked by (as little as) a thorn in the worldly life, and he seeks its reward from Allah, some of his sins will be removed, because of it, on the Day of Judgement.” (Bukhari)

Also having a very active son, who likes to jump or rather pounce on you can send some painful shocks to your body, especially when you are caught offguard. It’s during these times that the above hadeeth comes in handy too and helps to ease some of the pain, alhamdulillah. (smiles)

Imagine that Allah subhana wa ta’ala is going to reward you and remove some of your sins just by being  pricked by a thorn. In the light of that, multiply that pain by a hundred, a thousand times or more and imagine the reward we would get for every single contraction. Masha-Allah!

Now, if only we could remember the hadeeth the moments when we really need it….

I was reminded of the hadeeth while reading an article by Shaykh Salim Al-Hilali; “The Tests for the Believers: Fluctuations of Life”. You can read the whole article  here.

My Reflections on Childbirth Part 1

I’m sure every mother has her own unforgettable memories of childbirth, for some those memories may be too poignant to revisit (alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal) and we ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to replace their loss with what is better for them. Ameen.

Yet for others those memories can even be quite humorous, well, upon reflection, that is (smiles). When I was expecting my 1st child, I took comfort in having “experienced” mothers giving me advice and sharing their own childbirth stories.

I found one particular story quite endearing because it reveals the true nature of us women. While my friend was experiencing the onset of labor and was about to leave with her husband for the hospital, she started getting emotional and asked her husband for forgiveness for all the wrong that she has done; just in case…

However, when she was in the delivery suite and the pains started to get unbearable, it was a different story altogether. Her husband was assisting her in keeping the face mask in place, so she could breathe in ‘laughing gas’ so as to relieve some of the pain bi ithnillah. She got frustrated ‘cos he wasn’t holding it properly and snapped at him. And to think that she had just wiped her slate clean. Oh well…(smiles)

Alhamdulillah, I myself have 3 fond memories of childbirth, each one special and unique in its own way. Did I really use the word “fond”? I guess you can tell I haven’t given birth in long while. (smiles)

Ok, onto the 1st experience…aaahhh…how can I ever forget my first experience?

First I have to tell you little bit about myself. I consider myself a weakling and am terrified of anything that involves pain.

So when we were in the delivery suite, even before I felt any major pains, I was already pleading for an epidural. Yup, that’s me. (blush) But as Allah had planned the only one qualified to give me an epidural would be a male specialist, so I had to rethink my situation. There was a sweet Muslimah trainee doctor who reassured me that I would be fully covered and that only a little part of my back would be exposed to allow the epidural to be administered. Let’s just say that both my husband and I agreed that I needed some time to think about it.

Meanwhile, I remember my friend advising me to use the face mask and requested for it. I had the face mask but wasn’t using it the right way and had started crying, when the serious, no-nonsense midwife kind of chided me (in a good way, to boost my self-confidence). She taught me how to use the face mask correctly and told me to relax and breathe in the laughing gas whenever I feel a contraction coming. ‘Yes, breathe in…relax, imagine you are entering a garden…’ That helped calm me down a bit, alhamdulillah.

When the midwife stepped away, my husband whispered, “Imagine jannah.” Subhan Allah, what an excellent, timely reminder! And I really did imagine I was entering a garden, but the best garden of all; jannah. And for once in my life I felt I was ready if Allah decided to take my life away right there and then. Afterall isn’t there a hadeeth which states that if a woman died in childbirth, she dies a shaheed (a matyr) ?

But Alhamdulillah Allah has decreed that it was not to be my time yet. In the meanwhile I managed to heed the reminders to make dhikr and before I knew it, it was time for little Asmaa to enter this world. (smiles)

My labor lasted about 3 hours and all in all I can safely say it was a bearable experience, Alhamdulillah. When I hear of the excruciating pain some mothers go through I realise that Allah, out of His infinite mercy has spared me from that pain. However, the impact of this realization did not fully hit me until I was pregnant with my 2nd child, 2 years down the road…

(to be continued insha-Allah)

As I Look at You

As I look at you

 

As I look at you,

I see the love you have for me…

 

And as I look at you,

I stand in awe of the mercy of Ar-Raheem,

 

As I look at you…

I am amazed at your innocence and purity

 

And as I look at you,

I am embraced by a smile so sincere and sweet;

telling me instantly

your complete joy

at seeing me.

 

Masha-Allah!

How you flatter me so,

To think how easily you are pleased,

 

Masha-Allah!

To think of all this love you have for me…

 

(For all my little babies)

 

Umm Hassan 2007

 

(I haven’t written a poem in years, so am kinda rusty. (smiles) Plus I wish that it flowed more smoothly…But anyways, with this poem I wanted to capture that special moment in time all mothers can relate to…When your baby first catches sight of your presence and he/she is just so overjoyed at seeing you that he/she can’t stop shining his/her great big toothless or almost toothless smile!)