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“What’s for Dinner” is Published

Published!

I’m happy to say that my [first] book of a series of recipes is published and can be found by clicking here.

It is also available directly from Amazon (click here for Amazon link).

The above links I mentioned all are physical copies of the book (paperback), but if you prefer digital books, it is also available as a digital book on the Kindle if you click here.

It is also available as a paperback Amazon Europe too (click here for the Amazon Europe link).

And click here for the Kindle version for Europe.

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement and support thus far.

Thank you

Alhumdulillah what an amazing fun-filled extended weekend full of family and friends.

 

First and foremost, I couldn’t start this off without thanking everyone, far and near, that partook in the “pre-wedding celebration” on Sunday and all of the weekend’s celebrations. From the wonderful surprise bridal shower on Friday, the dholki/dinner event Javed Chachoo, Chotti Anna and Imran hosted on Saturday for me, and the absolutely amazing “Pre-Wedding Celebration” Sunday night to start off the festivities… it was the most amazing weekend full of so many memories. I appreciate it, more than I could ever articulate. Anyone and everyone who knows me know how much I cherish family time. And what a basket-case of emotions I am.

I have always said how much I absolutely love how close-knit our family is, alhumdulillah, but this year especially you all have made me feel loved and cared for in immeasurable ways. Your concern and duas got me through the toughest of the days. But your heartfelt joy in celebrating the good days with me have been just as strong.

I can’t believe in such a short time, alhumdulillah, I’ll be married [inshAllah].



To Abu and Ami: Thank you.

For always pushing me to do my best.
For letting me do things at my pace.
For giving me the space I need.
For always believing in me.
For never expecting anything less than my best.
For teaching us good morals from day one and the difference between what is right and wrong. And of course: what is right vs. what is easy.
For always asking why we got that one question wrong on a test in school. It might have driven me crazy over the years why a 98% wasn’t good enough, but it pushed me to always try that much harder.


For all the moments that count and matter, I never doubted that you were proud of us.
Thank you for being wonderful role models — as individuals, as a married couple, and as parents.


Ayaz and Faraz:
From the endless ridiculous quarrels to the countless memories: I am not sure how the time flew by so fast and the first of us three is [already] getting married soon. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago Faraz and I were building forts with chairs, cushions and blankets and using my toy cutlery set for picnics underneath the forts.

It seems like it was just yesterday Ayaz was shaking his head at something Faraz or I had said or done. Wait, scratch that, odds are that probably was just yesterday. [just kidding Ayaz… but we all know he is shaking his head reading this!]

You both have been my biggest bully but my biggest supporter all in one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I couldn’t end this before addressing the young ones–

To my younger cousins:
I have loved being your built-in editor, proof-reader, and problem solver. I have loved that you have always trusted me enough to come to me for advice or ask me for my opinion. I have loved the fact that you knew your secrets were safe with me. I have loved [and will always love] being your older sister. For years growing up, I used to always say to myself that I wished I had a younger sibling. I didn’t realize until much later Allah SWT gave me many younger siblings in all of you crazies.

While Australia may be [literally] on the other end of the world, always know this: I am still never going to be more than just a phone call, text message, email, what’s app message, Facebook message, [etc.] away. You get the picture. Some things change, but others never have to.

Don’t Reverse Car in the Middle of the Road

Is that really something people need to be told or reminded?

Earlier today, my brother Ayaz and I were running a few errands when in the middle of the road, some guy decides to REVERSE his car in the middle of a busy intersection right by our house. On a jug handle.

This guy was driving a BMW so hopefully he at least values his car if not valued the lives involved when he decided to do something as stupid as REVERSE his car.

He hit our car but, alhumdulillah, no one was injured. In our car or his.

He had been driving annoyingly for a while leading up to the accident, but that was just annoying. It’s when annoying becomes moronic and stupid that I have issues with.

He told us he was trying to switch lanes and that he didn’t see us. I wanted to tell him ‘of course you didn’t see, you were busy being stupid and reversing your car in the middle of the road’!

It just doesn’t make sense to me. Just to save a few seconds, people risk their own lives and the lives of innocent bystanders.

We are all fine, but there could have been injuries. There could have been children in the car. There could have been so many other possibilities. Is it really worth causing an accident to save a few moments of your time? Why are people always looking for shortcuts?

Even the police was dumbfounded when we told him what had happened. When the other driver told him the same, the police officer essentially told the guy “yeah, you can’t do that”.

Apparently that’s not common sense.

Moral of the story: don’t reverse your car in the middle of the road. I thought that was a given, but obviously not …

A week from today [September 26]  marks eight years since Ayaz and I had the horrible car accident where our car was totaled 🙁 … can’t believe it’s been that long.

Moon Sighting

Let’s start off this post first and foremost with a “Ramadan Mubarak” to all the fellow Muslims. May Allah (SWT) guide us all in the right path, and accept all our prayers, fasts, & good deeds during this blessed month. Ameen.

For my non-Muslim friends: the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar so the start of each month/year, therefore, is based on the [new] moon. Thus, the days in each month can vary by a day as a result.

The significance of the month of Ramadan? The holy Qu’ran was revealed in this blessed month.

Now onto the topic itself that is eating away at me today. It’s actually been eating away at me for years.

So, each year, when it’s time to figure out when the month of Ramadan is going to start and/or when Eid will be based on the moon sighting… well, let’s just say the days before every Ramadan/Eid [for as long as I can remember] is always full of controversy, debate and even, perhaps, arguments.

A moon is a moon. If it’s been “sighted” by one, then as a collective ummah we need to unite. The earth has but one moon.

Yet every year, without a shadow of a doubt, there is at least one group of people that decides to vary from the pact and do it a different day. There have been times in the past when the difference in days has been two days. How that is even possible, I don’t know, considering a month can have either 29 or 30 days in the Islamic calendar.

For there to be different days of Eid, or to argue which day is the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan is to essentially accuse the other half of the ummah of deceit and lies. That “we know you say you saw the moon, but we don’t believe you”… which in itself is something major and something for you to ponder.

There is an hadith that says something to the likes of that:

“Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.”

Which is very ironic because so many times the argument made in previous years is that it was too cloudy for the moon to be visible so Ramadan doesn’t start tomorrow.

Which brings me to my next point. Technology. Technology has come a long way. We now can very easily figure out when there is [or will be] a new [visible] moon. We need to come together and create an Islamic calendar based on the help of indisputable astronomical information and all of the advancements in science and technology over the years.

I read a quote online by the national coordinator and moon sighting consultant to ISNA that said:

“Today, Muslims have expertise and access to technology to understand the calculations of when and where the sighting occurs. Recorded data shows how the science of moon sighting is compared with the actual observations. The results show that calculations of sighting and observations have matched every month since 1993. Calculations of moon sighting and actual sighting are not two different things for an Islamic Calendar when it was found that they both match.”

Don’t even get me started on the argument that back in the day, there wasn’t all this science and astronomical information. Because most of the people who argue this are the ones who open their fasts based on the exact time of maghrib down to the minute/second as listed on the prayer schedule [and are not so particular about prayer times the other 11 months of the year]. Never mind the fact that back in the day there weren’t cell phones, computers, TVs, and all these other technological advanced things available either.

Religion isn’t meant to complicate your life, rather it’s meant to simplify it. If you dig deep enough, it will always help you find an answer to every single one of your questions.

I am not sure if I completely agree with leaving it all completely to science. Some part of me believes that there needs to be a reliance on a physical sighting IF it’s not cloudy because of the hadith. I think science and technology should be used to help, not hinder. I think we need to establish and follow a universal “moon sighting” at the very least [that if it’s visible to one, then it’s as if it’s visible to all]. I think we need to get our acts together and work on establishing an Islamic calendar.

Again, these are my thoughts and thoughts alone. I’m not an expert by any means… and I don’t claim to be one either.

Allah knows best.

Milestone Anniversaries

This past Saturday, we celebrated my aunt and uncle’s silver jubilee [about a month early]. Their anniversary falls in the middle of Ramadan this year, so their kids decided to throw them an early surprise party.

My aunt and uncle in Canada will, inshAllah, mark their 25th milestone next month.

My parents just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, mashAllah, this past March.

My aunt and uncle in Norway celebrated their 40th anniversary this past January.

And my great aunt and her husband, mashAllah, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past November.

I pray Allah SWT bestows this kind of happiness on all of us.

All of these aforementioned couples have such distinct and different personalities. But they balance each other out. Like any couple should do.

I am not sure how many of you have heard the saying that “they were born in a time when if something was broken they would fix it, not throw it away.” There is just something about the previous generation that just makes it work. They won’t budge. They compromise.

Not just tolerate each other, but thrive with one another.

It’s probably one of the most valuable lessons they can teach our generation, yet at the same time– it’s not something you can be taught. Rather, it’s something you emulate. You can tell someone that marriage is full of compromises a hundred times over, but unless they witnessed that themselves from their role models… it means nothing.

In this day and age, where divorce and separation is as common as a new wardrobe, it’s something to think about. It’s something I have always thought about a lot… and even more so now with the big day being less than seven months away for me, inshAllah.

Anniversaries, and other such joyous events deserve to be celebrated. Whether it’s one year, nineteen years, or 60 years together: it’s momentous. It’s something to be proud of. And most importantly, I think, it’s a good reminder of what you have faced together. Not to mention what you have overcome together. The good times and the bad not so good times.

I pray Allah SWT showers everyone with His infinite blessings. I pray our generation not only emulates from the good examples from the previous generation(s) but also LEARNS from the troubled ones. And are a good example for the future generation(s).

Falsehood

One of the most irritating things of a person’s character I find to be is this: creating false statements about others. Worse? Passing it on. It could be something frivolous or on a grander scale. Either way, it’s baseless. But it’s something I have never been able to tolerate. I pray to Allah SWT that it’s something that never consumes me.

How boring does one’s life have to be to have the time to create unnecessary lies? What good does it do? What satisfaction do people get from this?

Gossiping is very common, and I am sure everyone is guilty of it at least one point in their lives. But this is so much more that that. If a young group of people do it, I try my best to remind them how wrong it is. When adults do it? I don’t want to step out of line, I suppose, but it has taken a lot out of me lately not to do or say something about it.

These past few weeks, it’s been a continuous pattern in a group of people I know about someone very dear and near to my heart. About a person and their family that is so involved and does so much for the local Muslim community but humble enough to not let a soul know.

And for those partaking in this nonsense that actually attended the event? I sincerely hope the reason wasn’t to judge, and create more lies. Which, unfortunately, I have already witnessed.

It saddens me that people are so heartless. It saddens me because some of these people’s lives are a twisted mess themselves, yet they think it’s the right thing to do to create and spread falsehood about others. It saddens me that so many people are innately… not so nice? It saddens me that these people are so two faced. Mostly, it saddens me that I have to associate with these people, because I try my best to surround myself with people who make me want to be a better person. I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to deal with nonsense drama.

Only, you, Rutgers

Oh dear Rutgers. Former school of minePretty much housed in my backyard.

As a student, I was always proud to be affiliated with Rutgers. I mean, come on, how many schools do you know that have turned down the IVY league status? 

You represent the state of New Jersey. But, for one reason or another, you just can’t seem to get your act together and stay out of your own way. You seem to prove the saying “you are the only one holding yourself back”.

I’ll be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that Rutgers should choose LeGrand as the keynote speaker for this year’s graduation [in the aftermath of all the Rice debacle] until I saw LeGrand’s tweet yesterday essentially telling us that Rutgers had chosen him as the commencement speaker… and then basically unchose him. Rutgers didn’t have the audacity to rescind the invitation from Condoleezza Rice, but did so without a second thought to one of our very own. 

Rutgers is widely known as the birth place of college football [the first intercollegiate football game was held here between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869]. I mean that alone is a solid reason to have your brains screaming at you to pick Eric LeGrand. 

Who could be better to represent Rutgers and to inspire the graduates than LeGrand and what he has overcome? He was paralyzed from the neck down playing football for Rutgers, but he didn’t let that stop him from coming back to Rutgers and finishing his degree [this would be his graduation ceremony too!!]. What a better way to instill in the minds of these graduates to work hard, to never give up, and to persevere.

Today? Today I’m a very disappointed alumni. Embarrassed that Rutgers would even do such a thing. I mean you have proven you are terrible at decisions and logistics over and over, but this has to be an all-time low even for you.

Only, you, Rutgers. Only you would screw up such an opportunity. I can’t think of a less controversial person that would have turned this whole story around after all that has happened since you initially [and insanely] chose Condoleezza Rice as  the keynote speaker. I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t have been inspired, who wouldn’t have supported you, who wouldn’t have been proud of such a decision.

You were given a gift on a silver platter, but you chose to be ungrateful and say “thanks, but no thanks”. And in the process, once again, you embarrassed/humiliated/angered/frustrated Rutgers as a whole.

Only, you, Rutgers. Only you would have taken this opportunity for granted. Taken LeGrand’s story for granted. Only you would screw this up.

Handmade

A couple of weeks ago, I found Ami trying to find my baby pictures, and it was so nice to go through some of our old pictures from our childhood. It had been a while since I had gone through them. Many of my newborn photos, including the first photo taken of me mere moments after my birth, have me wearing this reddish/orange blanket with a green border.

This blanket? It’s something I have treasured for as long as I can remember. It’s held a permanent residence under my bed in a container of things I’ve saved over the years. It’s priceless and you can’t even tell it’s over 30 years old. My mat9ernal grandmother sewed it personally.

It’s, unfortunately, one of the only [tangible] connections I have with my grandmother considering both of my grandmothers passed away way before I was born. Sadly, my paternal grandmother passed away a mere six days before her first grandchild, my oldest brother, Ayaz was born.

My dad’s aunt also sewed a yellow sweater for my oldest brother. That sweater? My dolls wore it over the course of the years.

Lately, I have very often found myself reminiscing and reflecting and things of that sorts.

If there’s one thing anyone knows about me, it’s that I am a) VERY emotional/sensitive [anything and everything makes me cry: whether I’m happy, sad, upset, angry… it just doesn’t matter] and b) a sentimental person. I don’t tend to save many tangible things, but I do keep the important stuff. The ones of value.  I can probably find any card given to me over the years… they, too, are housed in this aforementioned container.

I’ve said it a million times, I know I am overly emotional, but: I’d rather be very empathetic over apathetic any day.

The Most Premeditated of Murders

Way back in my freshmen year of college, I had to write a ten page paper against the death penalty. If I had to do it now, ten pages would have seemed nowhere near enough. I could go on and on. Fittingly, I chose to title it: “The Most Premeditated of Murders”.

Evidence aside, in the court of law what usually happens is this: whichever side of the case has the better lawyer wins. Because let’s face it, besides the victim and assailant, typically no one else knows the 100% truth. It’s a whole lot of speculation. You can never with 100 percent conviction and without a shadow of a doubt fully prove a person’s intent.

But what happened tonight in Oklahoma? That’s a [premeditated] murder in every sense of the word. Murder is, after all, the deliberate act of killing someone. If you aren’t familiar with what happened, here’s the short of it: a man was being put to death via lethal injection in Oklahoma using a new combination of drugs, and his execution was “botched”. End result? The man ultimately died of a heart attack forty minutes later.

Never mind the fact that the inmates, lawyers and advocates had argued that this new and untried [and untested] protocols could cause “levels of suffering” that would violate the prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Never mind the fact the states were in this limbo because the traditional drugs were no longer being sold to the US on the basis of humanitarian grounds.

Never mind the fact that states have developed secrecy laws that basically allow them to keep hidden the source of their supplies and the content/combination of drugs being used… which is fishy enough to raise red flags.

The following is an excerpt from my aforementioned college paper, and I still believe it to be completely true:

Capital punishment is essentially a murder committed by the state. In a society that condemns killing, it is ironic that this country executes people as a punishment, which is without a doubt just an official murder. In no civilized society can society punish an act by participating in the very act that the condemned is being put to death for. Moreover, it definitely sends the wrong message because there is no logic to killing people who kill people to show that killing is wrong.

I am not saying the guilty shouldn’t be punished. What I am saying is this: a) you can never be 100% sure of guilt and you can’t undo death. With the number of stories you hear of the guilty being proven otherwise decades later, I can’t even fathom how many people have been put to death wrongly for crimes they didn’t commit; you can release them from jail, but certainly not bring them back to life, b) the system is racist. Let’s not kid ourselves and actually believe that the system treats each of them equally: the disparity between those who are given harsher treatments for similar crimes amongst Caucasians and those of color is ridiculous, and to tie into today’s unfortunate events c) the constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” which definitely played a role in today’s execution without a doubt.
Every time we take one step forward as a nation, we seem two take two steps backwards in the wrong direction.

Hajj Friends

Saturday night, several of the local NJ families from our hajj group finally got together. I say finally because we have been trying to make it happen since we got back from hajj six months ago but life kept getting in the way. Alhumdulillah for a huge and close-knit family, but sometimes that makes it nearly impossible to meet with other social circles. Not to mention, my life has been nothing but chaos this first quarter of the year.

Over the course of the past six months, I can’t tell you how many people have told me how nice it is how we have stayed in contact with people in our hajj group– that they don’t even remember most of who were in theirs, etc.

I have stayed in contact with several people over the phone, texting and of course Facebook… but to see them after so long? Joyous. Alhumdulillah, we picked up right where we left off. Reflecting, reminiscing… and recounting the many funny stories of course.

The friendship/bond I have with a select few of them is indescribable. It’s like we have known each other our whole lives, except for the fact that they were mere strangers six months ago who have become like family since then. No formality, no fuss: just plainly and simply a fun time with down to earth people.

I don’t know if our paths would have ever crossed, even though so many of us are from New Jersey, had we not been in the same hajj group. What I do know is this: they were [and are] a huge part of the “hajj experience” for me. I am thankful for their friendship and I am thankful we shared the experience(s) of hajj together. I hope no matter what the distance between us may be, that our friendship surpasses that.

We met and became friends in one of the greatest ways possible. Not to mention in the greatest place possible. The stories, memories and experiences we share are like no other.

And for that, they will always hold a special place in my heart. May our friendship grow even stronger over the years.

InshAllah, I can’t wait  to have the group gather again soon [and hopefully it won’t take another six months this time around]… you know, before I leave for the other end of the world… 🙂