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Archive for April, 2010

Friday is a blessed day for Muslims. And this Friday is my day to cook and ‘sell’ lunch boxes at our masjid.

Women who don’t have an income, often wonder how they can contribute to their masjids, especially monetarily. This is a simple way to give sadaqah.  Our tiny masjid was in massive need of donations, as some of our donors had lost their jobs due to the recession. They could not keep up with their monthly commitments. Larger masjids and Islamic centers often have caterers or restaurants sell food to make money for the centers. So we started a lunch box program.

I rallied together  a few women who like to cook and volunteer. We have about 30 volunteers; so each woman only has to cook once in 4 months.  It is a simple and humble effort but Allah (swt) blessed it. Alhamdulillah, we made up the deficit and it is growing every week. We started with 30 boxes and this week we will  make 50.    So far we are averaging  a $175 profit. Alhamdulillah.

How to set up a LUNCH BOX PROGRAM for your masjid:

  1. Get permission from the board or the committee in charge of social/fundraising
  2. Sell during Jumaah, after weekend school
  3. Organize volunteers to cook each week – set up teams of 2-3 so it is not a burden on any one person
  4. Have back up in case of emergency
  5. Make a calendar for the volunteers and post it in the masjid
  6. Ask volunteers to turn in their menu ahead of time
  7. Place the menu in a prominent place
  8. Set the amount of boxes to be made
  9. Advertise- get the word out through your masjid email list and posters
  10. Set a price but ask for suggested donation as it may be illegal to ‘sell’ homemade food in your county/state*
  11. Email/call with a reminder the week before their turn and update them on the number of boxes sold
  12. Set basic rules but give the volunteers creative space-micromanaging turns volunteers off-these are ours:

a) Use proper containers

b) All food should be fresh and zabihah

c)  Include utensils

d) Include dessert and a salad. The lunch boxes are $ 5.00 and  drinks are extra

e)  Be on time

f)   Inform the coordinator at least 2 weeks in advance if you can not cook or arranged a substitute

g) Turn the money over to the treasurer

h) Make dua for the success of the program

For organizational purposes, having one person organize and delegate responsibility to team members makes for less drama and more productivity. The feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie for the ladies is an iman high.  We didn’t realize how many brothers/sisters we were providing a service for. For five dollars, they get a home cooked halal meal. We live in an area with out any halal restuarants nearby, the closest one is 30 minutes away. Some of our customers have sick or pregnant wives at home and they take these boxes home on Fridays as a ‘gift’; to give them a break. Others are bachelors and would have eaten out at a restaurant.

Our masjid is not officially a ‘masjid’, it is a center with a musalla. It is not open for all five salats yet. InshaAllah one day it will be. So the rules of not buying/selling in the masjid don’t apply to us. Check before you all start a program. If any other sisters have suggestions or have run a similar program, I would love to learn from them as well.

*Under California Retail food code a “Food facility” does not include any of the following: (1) A cooperative arrangement wherein no permanent facilities are used for storing or handling food. (2) A private home. (3) A church, private club, or other nonprofit association that gives or sells food to its members and guests, and not to the general public, at an event that occurs not more than three days in any 90-day period.

*A 1996 federal law that, as reported in a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “protects all donations made in good faith . . . . The only exceptions are gross negligence or intentional misconduct. A plaintiff would have to prove that a company or individual intentionally tried to harm another person by making a donation of food it knew to be unsafe.”

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Right in the middle of the masjid, my little lovely takes his thobe (long shirt) that his Aunti just bought back from Medina, and shows his Pull ups for all the world to see. Mortified I look around- all the older women have that ‘look’ on their faces. She gives parenting advice- ‘look at her kid’.

Do all moms forget what it was like when their kids were two? Hope that’s not me in a couple of years-Even though its embarrassing, I know I will miss these days when he is all grown. I already do with the other 3.

He refused to put it down and laughed… he laughed every time I asked him to pull it down.  He wants to wear his dino outfit everywhere. During winter it was fine, its made of flannel-like material but it’s getting hot in CA  now.

We were out at the Sonora Desert Park in Arizona, one of the guide said ‘hey no dragons allowed in the park’ he was so offended, ‘I am dinosaur! ‘LF#3 says,”Oh God! he is embarrassing me” she has obviously forgotten her obsession with a certain hot pink & black dress.

Your life now according to babycenter.com:

You used to be able to dress your child in the adorable items of your choosing, and so long as she didn’t decide to strip naked, that was that. Now she seems to have opinions about everything she wears: This shirt is too “scratchy,” or “I want my blue top (again).” A budding fashionista? No, just a typical preschooler exerting her independence.

Try not to get hung up on what she looks like. Unless she’s being formally photographed, it really isn’t worth a power struggle. One tricky situation is refusing to wear a coat in the cold. Instead of insisting, try giving her a little face-saving space: “Okay, I’ll just bring it along in case.”

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A group of young Muslim moms in our area set up a mommy group. It’s more discussion based than lecture based, so we learn from each other. I was asked to lead the discussions-Alhamdulillah. So I thought we would start with something I am working on personally- ANGER. Especially anger directed at our children, that leaves us exhausted after screaming and our children scared or ambivalent.

These were my points:

  • All of us get angry- sometime its justified and sometimes we take it out on the wrong person- most often the people we love the most.

  • We need to reserve our anger for situations when our kids are really in the wrong.

  • Remember they are little, they are learning- I try to visualize  when I will be old and incompetent, how would I like my kids to take care of me – would I like them to scream at me if I wasn’t able to take care of myself.

  • If we are angry all the time then our kids will switch us off and our angry words will lose their value.

  • Shaytan runs through our veins we get hot, our blood pressure rises-

  • Learn to recognize the warning signs- I start clenching my teeth.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) said: “Verily, anger is a spark ignited by the Shaitan (Satan) in the human heart. Indeed, when anyone of you gets angry, his eyes become red, the veins of his neck become swollen and Shaitan (Satan) enters them. Therefore, whosoever among you is concerned about himself on account of it, he should lie down for a while so that the filth of Shaitan (Satan) may be removed from him at the time.The person who is angry should make wudu.”

What should you do when you get angry-(from hadith)
1.    Read A’udhobillahhi minash shaytaanirrajeem “ I SEEK ALLAH’S PROTECTION FROM THE CURSED DEVIL”
2.    Recite Ayat al Qursi
3.    Change positions- if you are standing sit down, if you are sitting, lie down. This slows down your breathing and heart rate, because when we are closer to the Earth since we are made from earth
4.   Make wudu or atleast splash some water on your face “The cure is that you extinguish the fire with water so that the evil doesn’t spread.”
6.   Drink water

The last circle we had, we discussed Sister Olivia’s article DJ Empty threat. All of us could relate to using the 1-2-3 technique only to have it backfire. First of all,  as Muslim moms we should try to minimize the threats. If we do make  ‘threats’, then make it solid and unemotional, something that you can and will follow-up with consequences. This is essential for our words to mean anything. Otherwise we are lying- this was a big aha moment for the newer moms.

I always ask my kids to be ‘first time listeners’.    1-2-3 means something in our house because I don’t use it all the time and when we use it, they know that we mean it  . But it wasn’t always like that especially with LF#1 and LF#2. I’ll be ‘scream-free’ for days and then lose it, like crazy Mama! With LF#3 and #4, I am much calmer. Chalk it up to experience.

Dua from the Qur’an for Disobedient Children

Wa as lih lee fee dhurriyathee. Innee thub thu ilayka wa innee minal muslimeen 46:15

And (O Allah), be gracious towards me in the matter of my off-spring. And surely, I have returned to you in repentance, and surely, I am of those who surrender (to you)

When our kids are disobedient, we can recite the above dua especially after every Salaah (this is a time when duas are accepted).  Keep your child or even students in mind when making the dua.

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We are hosting a dholki (a pre-wedding girls party, where we sing wedding songs) for my sis in law. I had a mini one in December for her but this will be her grand going away party. First we thought of hosting bridal shower for her but she is all ready having TWO. So it would be over kill.
Our theme is damask. LOOOOVVE IT both of us love it- its classy, crisp and looks stylish on everything from invitations, decor to favors.
Deciding on damask party favors:
How cute are these lip balms! they are for about $1.30 at this  website other places have them for $2.50

All Natural Ingredients: organic palm oil, beeswax, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic hemp seed oil, vitamin E, rosemary extract, and SPF 15

Damask Lip balm

Placecard holders I am thinking we could put the wedding prayer on it (Dua for the bride and groom) $1.30 (90 cents if you order more than 80)

Damask Placecard holders

Bingo! These mirrors are so couture and practical Bit pricey at $3.oo each but if you don’t too many attendees these would be great

Damask Mirror Favor

Photo frame/coasters/placecard holders although these aren’t strictly damask

Black & White Coaster photo frame

My favorite these would look so adorable in any bathroom

Heart shaped soap in a box

Candles are a classic. These are $1.40 but if you order 72 or more then they are as low as $.90
These candles would fit our theme perfectly-my only concern is that they aren’t unique

Damask Candle Favors

If you don’t want to spend too much these mints tins were the cheapest 58 cents each! Fill them up with Jelly beans or M&Ms

Damask tins

These are tiny but way cute– they are $1.53 each if you order 72 or more otherwise $1.92 each

Wedding Lipbalm customize in damask

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My poor devraani is 8 months pregnant but I have been there done that; last two weddings in the family, I was full-term. My sister-in-law is getting married to my sis in law’s brother- that’s being desi for you. Nand to Devraani’s brother.  Very didi tera dewar dewane.  I love party/wedding planning-note to self: potential career option once kiddos are grown up. Which one should we choose? Would love comments

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Obama issued an order that put Imam Anwar Awlaki on the CIA death list. Whether one agrees with his theology is beside the point. The question is do American citizens leave our rights at the border when we check in our baggage at the airport?

U.S. targeted killing: Putting an American on a CIA hit list – latimes.com.

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Chaos theory- a butterfly flaps it’s wings, a volcano erupts in Iceland, ash settles over Europe and I get 5 more days with my baby sister, SubhanAllah. Amazing, how she is in her 20s and she is still my ‘baby’ sis. Her flight was cancelled. It was routed through London.

Her email to her boss tell him why she wouldn’t  be at work Monday morning sounded so fake. I couldn’t keep a straight face telling anyone why she didn’t fly out either esp. since she was travelling to Pakistan.  ” Umm actually , a volcano erupted in Iceland so she couldn’t fly to Islamabad. ‘ Right…

Eyjafjallajökull-courtesy of Flicker Commons

While I gloated, 2 billion dollars were lost, millions of travelers stranded-at first Europeans reminisced a simpler time without air travel and relished the sounds of nature sans noise pollution.

But then the horror stories of people stranded- away from families, jobs, missing weddings, funerals. Imagine the ones that have run out of money. . .or those with young children. May Allah take them home safely. Mind numbing how helpless we are, yet how arrogant. Allah (SWT) can paralyze this world instantaneously.

Stranded travellers-Arturo Rodriguez/AP

At least she was in my home, she could have been in transit. She left yesterday; she will make it to her best friend’s wedding. Shaadi Mubarak N! Just saw a stranded Slovakian couple getting married in Taiwan on the news, at the airport chapel. Another one exchanged vows at Dubai Airport. No pomp or show- just simple and impromptu.

My cousin just posted this ”  Dear Europe, sorry about the cloud of ash over your heads and that you can’t travel anywhere. We feel your pain. Sincerely, Gaza. This is everyday reality for Palestinians. Imagine living like that with no end in sight?

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As you have probably read before that I am an avid supporter of a whole food, traditional food lifestyle- it is closest to the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW), so I  leap at any chance to eat more nourishing food.  After my recent visit to the Middle East and Pakistan, I came back and nothing here tasted good. I had a hard time eating anything. Then I realized all the meat that my father handpicks from his neighborhood butcher in Islamabad is grass-fed- the goats roam the valleys searching for grass as do the cows. They are not fed corn or grain. That is not Allah (SWT) met for them to eat.

Albalagh’s article on animal feed and hormones in ‘halal’ animals prompted more research. Then found an article about how zabihah meat could be rendered un-halal based on the feed of the cow.

I asked my butcher “Uncle’ at Asia Spot and at first he was offended, then he bought out the box from his slaughter house, which said grain fed. So I’m satisfied but still hungering for the taste of meat from the old country. As Nourished Kitchen.com says,

Grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild caught animal foods are deeply nourishing.  Indeed, for thousands of years prior to the advent of industrial agriculture, these were the only animal foods we knew.  The manner in which an animal was raised does make a difference, not only to your health but to the health and vibrancy of your local economy and environment.  Grass-fed beef and red meat is a richer source of conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene and retinol than the meat of conventionally raised animals. Moreover, grass- and pasture-based ranching provides environmental benefits as well – nurturing the local fields, improving the diversity and proliferation of native flora and fauna.

I started researching grass fed options- so I looked in to greenzabihah.com. They are based in Virginia so are a great source for East Coasters. But shipping here wasn’t cost effective, so you ask Allah and viola- a local option for So Cal.

Zabihah Grass Fed Beef is now available at Farmers Markets in OC and LA.  Frank (the rancher) is at Farmers Market selling Halal Grass Fed Beef. He will start some time in mid April… if you need further information about this you can visit him at any of the farmers markets listed below..starting the week of April 12th. The plant does not  handle pork. Frank is not doing the slaughtering. His cows are slaughtered by  Paradise Ranch where Muslims do the slaughtering and packaging.

The prices are different depending on what you want. There are halal/zabihah labels on the meat as well.

You can get it at the following  four Farmers market locations:

San Juan Capistrano- Wed 3-7pm

Laguna Hills Farmers Market- Friday 9-1 pm

Irvine UCI Farmers Market-Saturdays 8-12 pm

Beverly Hills- Sundays 9-1 pm

Northern Californian have a great resource at Nature’s Bounty All Halal Farm in Vacaville, CA.

On a side note-NRDC estimates that if all Americans eliminated just one-quarter pound serving of beef per week, the reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four to six million cars off the road. Meatless Mondays anyone?

OK, this is the kind of boring part, but for those of you who are interested in your health or the health of your children, it may be compelling. Many studies have been done on the impact of eating meat from grass-fed vs. grain fed beef.

For expectant mothers and their babies:

Doctors indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital nutritional contributor to enhanced pregnancy health.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key part in pregnancy health, and in the healthy development of babies in the womb. The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids are clear. To summarize recent research conclusions, Omega-3s:

  • Offer critical nutrients for babies’ neurological development.

  • Promote the development of the fetus’s cardiac and respiratory systems.

  • Support the development of the fetus’s brain and eyes (development of visual centers).

  • Have been shown to increase the learning and cognitive functions of children, with effects measurable to age four.

  • Increase the attention spans of young children (a measurable component of intelligence early in life).

  • Support the pregnancy health of the mother, possibly reducing chances of toxemia (or pre-eclampsia).

  • May help prevent pre-term labor and premature delivery.

Studies have shown that babies are more likely to put food in their mouths when they see a parent eat it, and toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school kids are more likely to accept foods their parents like. Food preferences are initially formed in the womb and through their mother’s milk as well.

For those of us between 10 and 100:

Some of grass-fed beef’s benefits, in comparison with the grain-fed version, are:

  • 500% more CLA (Conjugated linoleic acids)

  • 400% more Vitamin A

  • 300% more Vitamin E

  • 75% more Omega-3 fatty acid

  • 78% more Beta-Carotene

Eleven out of eleven studies to date have found that CLA decreases cancer

  • Four out of five have found a decrease in body fat.

  • Two out of two have found decreases in heart disease.

  • Six out of six have found increased immunity to disease. Two out of two have found increased bone density. And three out of three have found a decrease in adult diabetes. While artificial CLA is now available in a pill form, natural CLA from animal products is 600% more effective in fighting cancer.


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