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Archive for March, 2010

Whether we choose to let our children read the pledge of allegiance or not, this is of interest for Muslim parents with children in the public school system. At first look it seemed like a small albeit paradoxical victory. What I could not wrap my head around is that the ‘ceremonial’ name of God gets to stay because it is patriotic not religious?

So according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by taking the pledge we believe that our unalienable rights come from God but who or what God is whether He even exists is up in the air, so to speak.  First marriage isn’t marriage any more, now God isn’t God anymore; it is just a secular term used to convey our founding founder’s convictions. These blurring of lines and play on the meanings of words is more dangerous than Micheal Newdow’s intentions.  At least with him, we knew where we stood.

It is not just a word, it means something. I understand it is against the constitution to make anyone believe in any one definition of God but the leap to affirm that ‘under God’ also means you do not have to believe in the ‘divine origin’. If God is not the divine, what is the point of using God then?  We need to define the divine to include, at the minimum, the existence of a Creator.

Patriotic or religious, ‘under God’ is here to stay
Inside the First Amendment

By Charles C. Haynes
Director, Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum
03.28.10

The long, bitter and emotional legal battle over “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance may have come to a quiet end on March 11.

That’s the day a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided by a 2-1 vote that “the Pledge is constitutional.” The ruling in Newdow v. Rio Linda Union School Dist. was greeted with a big yawn by the news media — and virtual silence on Capitol Hill.

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We have all been in this situation. May Allah help us all learn the lessons taught in the following article from the Love and Logic Institute- I found this approach very close to Sunnah as we learn from the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Hadhrat Anas (RA).

The Prophet sent him on an errand, but on the way, he saw some of his friends playing.  He forgot his about his errand (just like our children do) and was immersed in the play. A little while later, he felt someone gently pulling at his clothes. As he turned around, he saw the Prophet’s smiling face. He told him endearingly, “Unays! (Little Anas) Go where I sent you.”

No screaming, shouting or admonishing. At the moment when we want to yell and keep repeating our selves, lets remember our gentle Prophet’s words, his sweet tugging at the young one’s thobe, his direct and short command. When we are frustrated with our kids not listening to us, lets remember to call them by their nicknames more than when we are happy with them.

Getting your child to listen to you is easier than it sounds  By Jim Fay



You can train your child to hear you the first time you say something. Or, you can train them to ignore you. Raising a child who listens to adults is a source of joy. Raising one who doesn’t is a constant source of frustration and torment.

Our actions either train kids to listen or not to listen. Consider this situation I witnessed in an airport recently. Joshua, a five-year-old, was running out into the concourse

“Joshua. You stop that running!” called his mother. She did not follow through, so Joshua continued dashing in and out of a crowed of irritated travelers.

“Joshua. You get over here!” Once more, she barked an order, but did nothing to enforce it.

“Joshua! Get off of that!” Another order was shouted by mom and ignored by Joshua.

Suddenly, Joshua was right at my feet staring up at me.

Mother ordered again, “Joshua. You get away from that man. You come over here. Quit bothering people.”

I looked down at Joshua and asked, “Joshua, what’s your mom going to do if you don’t do what she says?”

He knew the answer immediately, “Nothing.”

Of course he was right. His mother had trained him to know that she would bark orders, but never enforce them. Why should he listen if he could do as he pleased ” without adult interference” by not listening?

In fact, Joshua never had to walk back to his mother in the airport. She came over to him, held his hand, and apologized to me with, “I’m so sorry. You know how five-year-olds are. They won’t listen to a thing you say.”

It took a lot to keep me from saying, “I’ve known a lot of five-year-olds who listen to their parents. But their parents mean what they say.”

Training kids to listen is not brain surgery. It’s not complicated. Joshua’s mom could retrain him to listen by first retraining herself to do the following:

  1. Make a commitment she will never repeat herself.
    Kids unconsciously learn how many times each parent will repeat a request before taking action. She can give Joshua the gift of knowing she will only say something once.
  2. Be prepared to act.
    She needs to be dedicated to making her child’s life somewhat uncomfortable each time he fails to listen the first time she says something. This means as soon as he disobeys she goes to him, takes him back to his seat, and makes him stay with her saying, “How sad not to listen. Now you can stay with me.”
  3. She should never accept, “But I didn’t hear you,” as an excuse.
    When confronted with this excuse, she should respond with, “How sad not to be listening. Maybe your ears will get better.” It is important she says this without sarcasm and follows through with the consequences of not listening.
  4. Be prepared for Joshua to have a fit about not getting his way.
    Even though this will be uncomfortable, other adults around her will secretly applaud her courage and willingness to put forth the efforts to raise a well-behaved child.
  5. Get ready to enjoy a more responsible and happier child.

I have worked with kids and families for 47 years. During that time I have never met a child who failed to hear a parent’s promise. They always hear promises the first time. I’ve also learned their ears work the same way for requests when parents learn and follow the four steps I’ve outlined.

Training and expecting kids to listen is one of a parent’s greatest gifts. It’s the Love and Logic way.

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This letter to my girls’ school, was in response to a letter written to all parents informing us of the upcoming school program where 1st and 4th graders would participate in a co-ed dance class. Keep it short, to the point and polite. Send it as an email to your LF’s teacher, the principal and vice-principal.

Dear Teachers and Administrators,
I would like to request the chance to have LF#1 and LF#2 opt out of the folk/square dance program for religious and personal reasons. We are not opposed to exposing them to dance as a form of artistic expression from other cultures, but we do not want them to participate in physically dancing, especially in a mixed (boy/girl) environment. We would prefer if they spend that time in the library researching and writing a paper, or reading etc.  We would like to help logistically in any way we can.
Mr. LF and I can come and speak to you in detail about our request if you wish.
Thanking you,
Mrs. LF
Telephone number- (xxx)999-9999
Disclaimer: This form letter is intended as potential information, “talking points” or idea stimulators only and in no way should it be considered complete, applicable in any particular case, or as legal advice or counsel; therefore, Lordsfavors.wordpress.com shall be absolved of any and all liabilities for the use, misuse or abuse of this suggested information. 3/28/10

I received the following response from one of the my daughter’s teachers. Alhamdulillah, the administration and the teachers were really understanding and accommodating.


Dear Mrs. LF,

If you have a book or other information about your culture or traditions, that LF#2 could write a report on during the time that the rest of the class is in dance, that would be great.  She could then share the report with us, and it would be a good learning experience for her and the class.

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I am often asked why I don’t send my children to a private religious school instead of a public elementary school.  Frankly it’s because I have been perpetually pregnant for the past 10 years. Every time I would resolve to make the hour-long drive each way in LA traffic, I start seeing Babies r Us in my dreams. No seriously, if I had my way and I have suffered great angst over this issue, I would send my kids to an Islamic school in a heartbeat. But my pregnancies aren’t easy, I tend to ‘how do I say this in a ladylike way’ throw up? til third trimester. Aah Jannah InshaAllah.

I hear well Islamic schools kids aren’t any better than public school- it all about environment at home.  Yes it is about environment we teach them completely opposite things at home and at school , they steep in ‘haram’ & fitnah for 7 hours  and then they come home and we try to brainwash them back. At least in an Islamic school environment we only have to work on their manners, we don’t have to deal with the ‘ we do not do this celebration’, surrounded by God’s name, they develop a Muslim identity and they come home having read Zuhur in Jamaat.  I could come up with a million reasons to send my kids to a Islamic school but until one opens up in my valley or I get up the gumption to homeschool my kiddos, they go to the elementary school in our development.

The first day I went to enroll my daughter, LF#1, for Kindergarten, I sat in my car and cried- I didn’t want to send my innocent  baby somewhere where 10 years old boys cussed their mom out in the school office for not bringing him a ‘ f—– cheeseburger for lunch.’ I held my head and wailed but I knew I could barely make the drive to school, there was no way I could make it to XYZ Islamic School with a 2-year-old and pregnant with LF #3.

Everyone at the school was the same color.  That really got to me. I grew up in a very multicultural environment, attending an international school in the Sudan. East Africans, Dutch, Coptic, Pakistani, Indians, Koreans & Americans were just a sample of the nationalities/ethnicities represented in my 4th grade class. So I prayed.

Lf#1’s KG class was the most diverse they have ever had in the history of the school. Alhamdulillah. It was a microcosm of the USA and seeing that made me realize I can use this unfortunate circumstance and use it to teach my kids that they can be Muslim in this country and be proud of it regardless of what the kid on the next desk is doing, saying, wearing or celebrating.

So 5 years later, I have some tips and tricks that I want to share here and in future posts-

Tip #1- Be involved in your child’s education. By this I don’t mean just checking their homework. I mean getting involved in the school.

#2-Volunteer, if not every week, then  when ever you  can.

#3-Know the principal, vice- principal, school secretary by name, make sure they know you by name. One way to do this to write an introduction letter about your child to the principal and ask her to forward it to your LF’s teacher.

more to follow iA.

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Spring is here and my garden is blooming- If your heart has been deaden by winter, revive your faith by pondering on the beauty of our Creator’s art. All the photographs were taken by LF#1 – she’s just nine. MashaAllah. Remembering your creator as you look at his creation- what beautiful way to make dhikr. In Surah 36, Ayat 33: ‘And a sign for them is the way in which we have given life to the earth that is dead: We quickened it and brought forth from it grain, of which they eat’.

Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “When you come upon the meadows of the Garden, graze in them.” He was asked, “What are the meadows of the Garden?” “Circles of remembrance.” he replied. (at-Tirmidhi) When I plant my bulbs or seedlings, I try to constantly have Allah’s name on my lips.  Imagine your Garden in Jannah inshaAllah-

Pansies

Did you hear that winter’s over? The basil

and the carnations cannot control their laughter.

Blooms

Yellow Blooms

The nightingale, back from his

wandering, has been made singing master over the birds.

Bird signals advent of spring

The trees reach out their
congratulations. The soul goes dancing

through the king’s doorway. Anemones blush
because they have seen the rose naked.

Lilac bursts

Spring, the only fair judge, walks in the
courtroom, and several December thieves steal

away, Last year’s miracles will soon be

forgotten. New creatures whirl in from non-existence, galaxies scattered around their feet.

Bird of Paradise

Have you met them? Do you hear the

bud of Jesus crooning in the cradle?

Blissful Spring

A single
narcissus flower has been appointed Inspector

of Kingdoms. A feast is set.

Nargis-Narcissus

Listen: the
wind is pouring wine! Love used to hide

inside images: no more! The orchard hangs
out its lanterns.

Calla Lily-planted with love in 2008

The dead come stumbling by

in shrouds. Nothing can stay bound or be
imprisoned. You say, “End this poem here,

and wait for what’s next.” I will. Poems
are rough notations for the music we are.- Rumi

Spring in my garden

Come to the orchard in spring

There is light and wine

And Sweethearts

In the pomegranate flowers

If you do not come

These do not matter

If you do come

These do not matter

Rumi


Spring Blossoms

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Win a new banner

An absolutely adorable giveaway by a sweet sistah! She will design a new banner and buttons for your blog. So holler out to Noor at So Sweet Design.

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Goodbye butterflies and princess dolls

As I rip out the butterfly wall paper I had so painstakingly installed 7 years ago and roll on the hot pink paint she picked for her bedroom wall, I want to hold on to her tight but she has started her journey to womanhood and all I can do is pray for her & guide her to the best of my ability.  She has outgrown Gymboree but Justice is too ‘tween’ for her.  My baby can barely make her bed, how will she handle adolescence? It is natural, I know but I want her to stay a child for a little bit longer. Puberty is a confusing and emotional time for young girls. Their bodies are changing; their emotions are raw and magnified.  Having taught this workshop in our masjid for youth girls and for two years at my home, this is the first year my 9-year-old will participant. I think she is ready.

photo coutesy of Shazron

My cousin wonders why she needs to learn so early about puberty esp. since she may not get her period until 11-12.   There are a myriad of reasons why this channel of communication need to be opened: because girls are maturing earlier every decade, because we live in a world of texting & You tube, because they will hear about it somewhere; at school, at your friend’s dinner party or from an older, ‘wiser’ neighborhood teenager. She may hear nonsense and take it for fact.

If you google muslim-puberty-girls, there is a dearth of any usable literature or practical advice. All that shows up are X rated websites with a few Islamic fatwas sites scattered in between. I did find one Yahoo group where young Muslimahs were desperately begging each other for info about how to clean themselves, wondering whether they should they pray or not. The poor women who answered their post had her facts wrong and kept hinting at ’secrets’ after they get married. That’s not what I want for my daughters. Instead of hearing snatches of conversation that confuses them even more, wouldn’t it be better to hear it from the woman whose womb bore them or an understanding teacher who can answer their what, when and whys.

Muslim girls need guidance and knowledge at this time. But this knowledge needs to stay in the confines of hayya-modesty. They need to understand these changes are from Allah (SWT) and with them come a great responsibility; they are now adults in front of God. In most American public schools, parents are given a choice of showing their girls a video about puberty. Many Muslim parents opt out of this program for good reason as the videos shown are ‘very graphic’ albeit in cartoon form and discuss how you get pregnant -you can read ‘Just around the corner’ movie reviews by moms and decide for yourself.  Even if some Muslim parents discuss puberty, they do not explain the Islamic responsibilities that arrive after this stage in life.

I remember reading about ‘it’ in Judy Blume’s young adult novel ’Are you there, God? It’s me Margaret’ but never connected the dots that this will happen to me as well. When I finally reached puberty over summer vacation while visiting my Nani, I remember my aunts making kheer– rice pudding and congratulating me, grown women giggling away but no one ever told me what was going on. I felt guilty, like I had done something wrong, evil. In Muslim countries, many terrified girls look at soiled undergarments and wonder if they are dying because they are clueless. Often it is taboo to talk about what is happening to them. Between these two extremes lies Islam’s golden, middle way.

Advice for moms:

It’s awkward for mothers to talk about this subject as well, so I designed this info in a class format with handouts ( you can download the handouts by clicking the links in the box on the right) for the girls- so a mother can talk to her daughter or a teacher can address her class and explain puberty in terms that even a 5th grader can understand.

After talking to many young Muslimah and their moms, here are some practical suggestions I have for moms: Inculcate the habit of wearing a camisole around at 8 years, this will help her get used to wearing something under her clothes. When you do purchase her first bras, make a date and take just her to the store. Please buy her a small, separate trashcan as well (or reuse you diaper genie) so she can throw away the used pads appropriately. Show her a private place where she can stash her pantiliners and pads away from the inquiring eyes of younger siblings. At this point in life, young girls can be gifted their own Masallah (Janamaz), their own copy of the Quran & a tasbih, it makes them feel more responsible for their ibadah. She may want to sleep longer, so adjust her schedules. She may get moody; talk her through her feelings, as they are just a scared of their mood swings as you are.

You can give her this information in one formal class or a series of discussions, as you know your daughter’s learning style. Invite her friends, bake some brownies – make it mother-daughter time. Let them get their giggles out at the beginning- it soothes them and helps them when they see that all the girls are going through the same thing. I usually show the girls maxi pads, panty liners, and give them calendars to start their habit of marking their haidh-period. Another cute thing I hand out is a card that reads ‘Allah has chosen today to make me a young woman’. They can give this to their moms to let them know the day they get them-if they are too shy. I find it easier to show them an anatomical diagram of the uterus and use scientific terms of the body parts, without going into too much detail. Please feel free to use the information below, just remember to give credit and make dua for me.

Circle of Life: Start with a discussion on how it all begins and ends with Allah- our creator

  • Allah created the first human being Adam (AS) from dust
  • Allah creates every baby in their mother’s womb- It is related from Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah the Mighty and Majestic appoints an angel to every womb who says, ‘O Lord! A drop! O Lord A clot! O Lord! A lump of flesh! ‘Then if He desires to complete His creation, He does so and the angel asks, ‘Is it to be male or female? Wretched or happy? What is its provision? What is its life-span?’ This is all decreed in the mother’s womb.”
  • The baby develops from one stage to the other until it reaches full term. In Chapter 40 verse 67 of the Quran, Allah tells : It is He who has created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot; Then He brings you forth as a child, then ordains that you reach the age of full strength and afterward that you become old-though some among you die before- and that you reach an appointed term, in order that you may understand.
  • By Allah’s will the baby is born and progresses through life from one stage to another
  • Until her time on Earth is complete and she returns to her Creator

What is it? Adolescence- balughat a stage of development when your body goes thru changes at a fast rate under the effect of hormones produced in the body by the will of Allah Taa’la,

  • Every baby girl is born with two ovaries
  • and a uterus– a muscle the size of your fist where a baby can grow
  • Allah produces hormones called estrogen and progesterone in your body

Diagram of uterus and ovaries

Changes in body will include:

  • Hair grows underarms and in the private area- Muslims should clean these areas at least every 40 days- wax, cream or even shave.
  • Sweat glands develop- Take regular showers as body odor tends to increase at this age
  • The chest starts growing so it can produce milk when you get married and have a child
  • The ovaries release an ovum(egg) every month
  • The uterus prepares a thin layer of tissue to receive the ovum
  • Upon puberty, the uterus shed this thin layer of tissue every month and it discharged from the body.  This is your monthly period or menstruation.

Why do we get it?

Little girls are starting to become women- the process takes several years but you have to learn to carry yourself like a Muslim woman. Over time your body matures so that one day it will be ready to be a mother when you get married.  A healthy, able body is a trust from Allah.  Allah made it, so He knows best how to take care of it and he tells us how through the Quran and Sunnah- by doing halaal and staying away from haraam. ‘This is something that Allah has decreed for the daughters of Adam.” Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said. Unlike Judaism, Hinduism or Christianity, Islam does not view your period as a curse. Our faith does not teach any connection between mentruation and Eve or the first sin- Islam does not preach that women are the source of evil. We believe that Hazrat Adam and Bibi Hawwa made the choice to disobey Allah together.

When will I get it?

In Islam puberty can not begin before the age of nine. If you do not menstruate by the age of fifteen (Islāmic years), you will have reached the age of puberty. A girl’s first period usually begins between the ages of 9 and 16. The average age is 12.5 years. Your best friend and you will probably not get it the same day or even the same year. Relax!!! as long as you are eating healthy, sleeping enough hours you have nothing to worry about. It is a special time chosen by Allah and it will happen when your body is ready of it.

Some signs that your body is getting ready:

  • Developing Breasts. First, you’ll get breast “buds”. (Your breasts then can take up to 3-4 years to fully develop.) Generally you will get your period 2-3 years after your breasts start developing. The average age for breast buds is 10.5 years
  • Growing Pubic Hair. Right after your breasts start to form, you’ll start developing pubic hair. It will be soft and thin at first, and then gradually become coarser. Your period usually arrives around 1-2 years after the hair development.
  • Discharge. This is the big sign. You’ll start to experience vaginal discharge that will be either white or yellowish. If you like, you may want to start using pantiliners to protect your underwear. This is from Sunnah, the women of Madinah used to wear a piece of cotton wool (karsoof). Your period could start around 6-18 months after the start of discharge. A girl’s first few periods are usually light. You will lose about two to five tablespoons of blood over a period of two to eight days

There’s one more way to figure out when you’ll start menstruating: Ask your mom. You’ll probably get your period within a year or so of when she got hers.

Now I have it what should I do?

  • Use a pad to wear with your underwear. Change the pad as often as you need to stay dry and comfortable. Keep some underwear exclusively for use during these days.
  • When you get it you may get cramps which is because your uterus is contracting- use a hot water bottle, exercise, drink hot tea and cuddle with your mom.  If it really hurts ask your doctor if it is OK to take pain medication.
  • It is perfectly normal not to have a regular pattern or habit the first few months or even few years. Start keeping a calendar and keep track of your habit, lots of rules depend on this.
  • Make sure you wrap your used pad and throw it in garbage. It is really bad manners to leave them in plain sight.  Do not flush down the toilet. You are not a little kid anymore, start behaving like a proud, clean Muslimah!
  • During period you are excused from salah. This is a gift from Allah as he knows how much a  woman is suffering. Do not cut all connection with Allah. Do make wudu, sit and make zikr, duas, read duroood etc. so you don’t loose the habit of praying 5 times. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “… a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses” (Sahih Muslim). You don’t have to make up the Salah
    However; the menstruating woman must make up the missed days after Ramadan. Aishah (RA) said: “When we would have our menses during the lifetime of the Prophet, we were ordered to make up the days of fasting that we had missed but were not ordered to make up the prayers that we had missed.”(Sahih Al-Bukhari)
  • After you are sure the bleeding has stopped than make ghusl*(a handout on how to take this ritual bath is included).  Women used to send ‘A’isha (RA) little boxes containing pieces of cotton cloth which still showed some yellowness. ‘A’isha would say, “Do not rush [to do ghusl] until you see white cotton,” meaning by that purity from menstruation.’After you are sure that all discharged has changed to white then you are ready to make ghusl and get back to praying five  times a day. “When we purified ourselves by doing ghusl after menstruation, we were allowed a small amount of light perfume.”
  • Every religion has a corner-stone the cornerstone of Is Islam is HAYAA– modesty. We should try to act on this principle in every action of our lives. Don’t discuss your period around boys, men and younger sisters.
  • Most importantly, the pen has started flowing, every action is recorded now. You are responsible for your salah, your fasting in Ramadan is compulsory, hijab becomes fardh. Congratulations!

Download muslimah guide to puberty

Hand out #1 Do you know ghusl?

Handout #2 Getting your period-  practical tips for Muslim girls

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