Sunday afternoon Halal-ness…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

A blue, rainy Sunday at home got me feeling for some Hot Thai food and some coffee. Decided to go to Madinah Cafe which is down the road from the house. Hadn’t been there in months and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if they were still open. Halal restaurants come and go so I would not have been surprised if they had shut shop. Alhamdulillah they were open for business and lunch was awesome. Enjoyed my coffee and my cashew chicken but aside from the food, the Halal environment and peaceful atmosphere is what’s truly fulfilling.

Madinah Cafe doesn’t just serve Halal food, it provides an environment conducive to Halal dining and socializing. Cafe style dining with Arabic Caligraphy, Islamic paintings, artwork and little reminders about Allah on the wall coupled with friendly service from a humble and polite muslim family makes it more than just another halal cafe.

From the outside it probably looked like just another ethnic restaurant with noisy people and kids running around but on the inside it was a casual, peaceful place with Muslims from diverse communities coming together to enjoy Arab, Western and Asian food. Alhamdulillah, MashaAllah, InshaAllah, SubhanAllah, is what you hear around you and no one walks in or walks by without saying Salaam. It’s the little things that make the difference between simply serving Halal food and providing Halal dining.

When you are surrounded by goodness and God-consciousness, you feel more inclined towards saying and doing righteous things. It can turn a lazy Sunday lunch into something more virtuous and fulfilling. Instead of simply going out for lunch with your wife, you can spend on your family for the sake of Allah and enjoy a more satisfying experience. While waiting for our lunch, surrounded by  all the ‘Halal-ness”, I was reminded of this Hadith:

“When a man spends on his family, hoping for reward, that is (counted as) an act of charity for him.”
   (Bukhari & Muslim)

A beautiful hadith I would not have thought about if it was simply any Sunday afternoon lunch. On the micro level, this is what a Halal environment can do for you…

It doesn’t take much to create a good, Halal environment but it’s definitely worth it. Get more from your outings and gatherings, keep it Halal.

 

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2012 closing…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

 

Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for seeing the end of another year. Every day is a blessing from Allah whether you live by the Lunar or Gregorian Calendar or whether you ‘celebrate’ New Years or not.

After a few hectic weeks, we took a few days off to spend some family time together and celebrate our son’s 2nd birthday as well as our 4th wedding anniversary. These dates or milestones really put things into perspective and are sometimes good reminders about the things we take for granted. I could not believe my son was already 2 and the next day I couldn’t fathom being married for such a long time. The change in routine was good and gave me an opportunity to reflect on 2 of the most important people in my life. Some may call it celebration but I like to think of it as an appreciation for my son who just turned 2 and my wife who’s been with me for the last 4 years. I probably feel the same way every year but I can not believe how fast 2012 went by.

2012 was a big year, lots happened, so much changed and with the change came a few big challenges. My sister got married and moved to America, I quit my job in public practise, began working as a virtual business consultant and finally kicked-ff my online supplement business. Circumstances changed drastically with my dad’s illness and I guess things haven’t quite gotten back to normal since then. I haven’t yet had the strength to write about some of the things I learnt and felt during this challenging time but perhaps I might, Insha Allah.

With so much uncertainty and so much going on at home, time just flew by I’m glad I was able to stop and take a break for a few days to appreciate the blessings in my life. There are many things I wish I had done, so much that was done and as always a few regrets. My aim is to do the things I wish I had done, appreciate the things I did accomplish and work on reducing the regrets Insha Allah.

2012 closes, our holiday was the perfect transition into the new year and now… 2013! Alhamdulillah!

 

 

 

Melbourne Cup Reflections…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Growing up I was oblivious to the Melbourne Cup festivities, right through uni too, I heard about the race that supposedly stopped the nation but I couldn’t be bothered to even take note of some of the things that go on. I remember my first Melbourne Cup day in the office, everyone was excited about dressing up, getting drunk and betting on horses with the most unusual names. I spent the day before the races turning down various sweeps and betting syndicates and had to explain to everyone why I didn’t have an interest in gambling or the idea of heading to the pub for the races.

I was the only Muslim in the office so this was new to many of my colleagues but everyone was understanding. I requested to be excused from the afternoon lunch at the pub and my manager was very accommodating so while the rest of the office got drunk and lost all the money they played on the races, I stayed back and had a quiet afternoon in the office. This took place towards the end of my first year in public practice and despite being excused from the actual drinks and gambling that afternoon, I recall feeling very uncomfortable in the office and began noticing how different I was from everyone else.

By this time, the euphoria was wearing off and I began noticing a few changes taking place that I wasn’t very happy with so I remember questioning whether this was the right work place for me. Fast forward a few months and my prayers were answered, I received a job offer from a smaller firm up the road that turned out to be alcohol free, gambling free and pork free. My new manager was mormon and my new colleague was a fellow Muslim brother I knew from an Islamic camp a few years before.

The new office was awesome, didn’t have to deal with the office drinks, drunken parties, gambling or dirty talk. All the food was halal, afternoon drinks were replaced with afternoon tea and office parties were replaced by jet skiing, mini golf and gelato overlooking the beach. Halal food, halal entertainment, a boardroom for our prayers and a 2 hour lunch break for Jumuah… Perfect. My first Melbourne Cup day in the new office was actually quite enjoyable, no one cared about the races, not a beer in sight and instead off drinks at the pub, the manager treated us to a little lunch and dessert which was a good change in routine.

I spent 2 Melbourne Cups at the new office which was quite enjoyable and comfortable… lots has changed since then and by the next Melbourne Cup I found myself working from home completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the corporate world. I am so grateful for the way things turned out. After working in public practise for 3 and half years, despite a very Muslim friendly work place in my last job, the freedom and luxury of working from home and working for yourself is absolutely amazing. The challenge now is maintaining an Islamic working environment while having complete flexibility and control of my own working conditions. It’s easy to complain about restrictions and limitations when you work for someone else, the real test is whether or not you can fulfil your duties, both religious and professional when you have control of your time and workload.

I hope and pray that my new boss allows my faith to flourish beyond the restrictions and limitations of the corporate lifestyle. Looking forward to many more Melbourne Cup Days in my virtual office away from the drinking and gambling. While I am grateful for my experience, I also pray that anyone out there subjected to less than the ideal working environment be granted the strength to maintain their faith and prosper in their line of work.

A new routine…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Today was the first day of my new routine and my new job as a (part-time) house-husband. The Mrs is doing her 6 week practical experience program for her teaching degree so I’m on babysitting duty from 7 AM to 3 PM everyday.

First day went well, productivity was high, had some good bonding time with my little man and I must admit, the satisfaction and pride I felt at the end of the day made all the poop nappies worthwhile. I am pumped about my new routine and I hope everyday is as good as today.

Despite my initial reluctance in accepting my role as a house-husband for the next 6 weeks, I feel a sense of achievement in my acknowledgement and enthusiasm for this new experience. I’m not sure if it’s a masculinity thing, an ethnic one or perhaps a cultural issue but for some reason, my initial reaction was the fear of being labelled a house-husband. I can’t explain it but my instinct was to justify the situation in the most masculine way possible to avoid anyone assuming I’m some sort of stay-at-home dad.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I decided not to justify it but to embrace it, break tradition, or culture or whatever it was that resulted in my initial reaction and be the best house-husband (in the most masculine way possible) for the next 6 weeks.

Man is naturally forgetful and instinctively ungrateful. We always want change, always something different. A few months back I would have killed to have 6 weeks at home with my son. I hated leaving home every morning and weekends were never long enough. I used to fantasize about the things I would do if I worked from home and if I had more control over where I was and where I had to be. Fast forward a few months and the dream became a reality, after quitting the office routine and working from the best place ever for the last 6 months, it was so easy to forget those fantasies.

My little reflection gave me a new perspective on things and I’ve been looking forward to my new routine. Day 1 went well and I look forward to tomorrow Insha Allah. I can’t take credit for a full-time house-husband since my amazing wife still takes care of the cooking, cleaning and all the prep that goes into being a housewife/mother/student/teacher/food blogger 😉

While some dads have to be part-time fathers due to their work requirements, I get to be a full-time father for the next 6 weeks… and that is all the justification I need!

Perhaps this is the inspiration I’ve been seeking… Insha Allah I’ll be able to learn, remind and reflect through my writing again!

Friday morning…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

As I took out the trash this morning I was reminded of a little story … The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was seen by one of his companions while taking out the trash.  His companion was alarmed and said to the Prophet: Oh Messenger of God, you are taking out the trash!  The Prophet replied: who should I have take out the trash, the mother of the believers?

Following the Sunnah is really not that difficult… Blessed Jumuah!

Ramadan Reminders: What Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

The best reminder yet, a Ramadhan sermon by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W):

“O People! Indeed ahead of you is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours. It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered. So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite his book, for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this great month.

Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) with your hunger and thirst; give alms to the needy and poor, honour your old, show kindness to the young ones, maintain relations with your blood relations; guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear, show compassion to the orphans of people, so compassion may be shown to your orphans. Repent to Allah for your sins and raise your hands in dua during these times, for they are the best of times and Allah looks towards his creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if he is asked …

“O People! Indeed your souls are dependant on your deeds, free it with Istighfar (repentance) lighten its loads by long prostrations; and know that Allah swears by his might: That there is no punishment for the one who prays and prostrates and he shall have no fear of the fire on the day when man stands before the Lord of the worlds.

“O People! One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven. Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): “Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?”

The Prophet replied: “Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water.” “One who has good morals (Akhlaq) during this month will be able to pass the ‘Siraat’ … on the day that feet will slip … “One who covers the faults of others will benefit in that Allah will curb His anger on the day of Judgement … “As for one who honour an orphan; Allah will honour him on the day of judgement, “And for the one who spreads his kindness, Allah will spread His mercy over him on the day of Judgement. “As for the one who cuts the ties of relation; Allah will cut His mercy from him … “Who so ever performs a recommended prayer in this month Allah will keep the fire of Hell away from him … “Whoever performs an obligatory prayer Allah will reward him with seventy prayers [worth] in this month. “And who so ever prays a lot during this month will have his load lightened on the day of measure. “He who recites one verse of the Holy Quran will be given the rewards of reciting the whole Quran during other months.

“O People! Indeed during this month the doors of heaven are open, therefore ask Allah not to close them for you; The doors of hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan (Satan) is imprisoned so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you.”

May we All benefit from this month Insha Allah!

Ramadhaan Reminders: Dinner Parties & Iftaar…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Many people use the following Hadith to justify and encourage Dinner/Iftaar parties during the month of Ramadhaan:

“Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, will have a reward equal to his, without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person” – Tirmidhi.

I think it’s important to see the wisdom behind such inspiration and not to abuse it. Dinner/Iftaar parties can often distract people from the real virtues of Ramadhaan and may even facilitate and encourage Back-biting, gossip, etc. The key is to avoid any situation that would distract you from attaining the pleasure of Allah.

Charity is very closely associated with the month of Ramadhaan and some scholars are of the opinion that the above Hadith relates to the food/Iftaar provided to the poor and needy. I’m not in any way implying that providing Iftaar to people who can afford it won’t earn you the reward but what I am saying is make sure the Dinner/Iftaar is done for the right reasons and in the right environment. Invite a different person over for dinner everyday instead of hosting a Dinner/Iftaar party for a huge group of people in one sitting.

May Allah allow us to benefit from this auspicious month…