Story Sequencing: The Very Hungry Caterpillar , Days of the Week Learning

In the light of the moon….” I began reading aloud to my toddler in our afternoon quiet time.

“A little egg lay on a leaf….” my toddler finished the sentence instantly.

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These are the beginning sentences from the classic children’s read “The very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle.

We love this book. Alhamdulillah.

And what’s the reason there not to?!

The classic children read introduces us the lifecycle of a butterfly in an enchanting way, learning the days of the week and the day times. It also introduces the concept of counting to toddlers apart from introducing a set of basic colours. We use it for all of these learnings and recently used it for days of the week reinforcement.

Sunday, Monday , Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday , Friday , Saturday and Sunday again….finally the caterpillar comes out as a beautiful butterfly.

Here’s what we did,

We used the free activity pack of the very hungry caterpillar book at Twinkl for our days of the week learning. Matching the flash cards with each page and then reading and re-reading with what’s on each page of the book. Alhamdulillah it came out as a nice little learning activity.

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September Activities

Learning Days of the Week & Weathers

For learning days of the week and weathers we did this simple activity.

Each day we stick what day of the week is it and whatever time of the day it is and whether the sun is outside or the moon. If there are clouds outside we stick that as well.

This simple activity reinforces the different times of the day and weathers. Some felt papers and a sun, moon and cloud cutouts make this activity a play based fun learning experience , alhamdulillah.

Prophet Yunus Alaih Salaam’s Story Craft

I have been doing the prophet stories’ series with my daughter since age 2, for Prophet Yunus alaih salaam we made a simple craft of whale , sea and ship with different coloured felt papers. As we talked about Prophet Yunus AS there have been curious little questions surrounding the whole story. How dark it was inside, the significance of making a dua’ in a difficult situation and at all times, how big a whale is, the colour of the whale , why the prophet left his people and how did he came out from the whale’s tummy.

Farm Vegetables Fun Game

We made these underground vegetables and talked about how they grow. It came out as a nice activity for toddler’s pretend play cooking and learning perspective.

ABC Felt Activity Book

For enhancing our English letter learning we keep referring to our abc felt busy books. Details here.

Learning English Letters: ABC Felt Activity Book

Activity Age: 3 years above

Activity Effectiveness: Very effective

Since a couple of months we have been doing the alphabet learning following the letter of the week strategy, colouring and painting the letters and play doh mats of letters.

Talking about crafts we made this felt alphabet activity craft book to enrich our english letter learning journey. This has resulted as a nice activity to reinforce letter recognition and what each alphabet calls for. You need simple things velcro, thin and thick felt paper sheets in multi-colour , craft glue , needle and thread to sew and a pair of scissor. I am not listing the method to make this as all the felt books are quite similar in terms of crafting and there is a lot of guidance material as how to do it.

Below is what the pages hold inside ;

Letter A & B
Letter C & D
Letter E,F, G & H
Letter I, J, K & L
Letter M, N, O, P, Q & R
Letter S,T ,U & V
Letter W,X, Y & Z

Once the book was made alhamdulillah ; we paired it with the alphabet learning tablet for the sounds of each letter and what it indicates on the book. The book has one object to indicate to each letter but we also tried to bring in as many objects from the things around us (everyday objects, from the books we read, fruits and vegetables) to reinforce the alphabets’ learning. We tried to craft things we already knew and put some new ones to encourage new vocabulary and learning enhancement as-well alhamdulillah.

La Tahzan !

We grieve ,

When trials hit

And forget

The ground He provides

For the chosen ones ,

We grieve

when He takes an amanah,

And forget

The gift of sabr

He provides

For the chosen ones,

We grieve

When misery befalls

And forget

The fortune of iman

He bestows

For the chosen ones

And when the door is closed

All we squeak in the darkness

And become blind

To the peeping light

That enters the cracked holes

But our wounded souls

Brighten with sabr

And gratitude

For it knows the promise by His lord ;“…on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve “

Motherhood: The First Step in Tarbiyyah

This article took a lot of courage from me, after 2 years of running from the truth I am finally embracing it. Bi idnillah. I am not here to make you awe and intimidate through it rather putting it out as an antidote for myself , insha Allah. May Allah accept it from me. Ameen.

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They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. In today’s contemporary world the idea of raising a child is not within the boundaries of a community or a herd as one would say. It lies on the shoulders of the parents solely. The mother proving to be the prime segment in it. If you’d ask me some 10 years ago, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years down the road?” I would have said, “Replacing your position Ma’am becoming a head in this organisation.”(Ain’t all those interview questions have this one saved) I never thought down the lane that 5 years indeed would pass on, and here was I with a baby in my lap. Subhanallah! My response above also suggests how career oriented I was, because the idea of job-seeking-mindset is instilled in us in all those 4 years of college. The reflections that the past brings.

In February 2018 my husband had a spinal injury, paralysing half of his swaddle region. Lack of medical care made us decide to pack our bags within hours and flee from Makkah. I was expecting a 4 month old. We came to Pakistan , had countless medical advice, sought treatment for 2 months and came back resuming our life. The life which is changed for good. May Allah give him kamil shifa and preserve him. Ameen. The future seemed bleak and the idea of home , a yet-to-born-baby and His land became blurry. In August 2018, I was blessed with a beautiful baby alhamdulillah. August that year meant Hajj in Makkah during which no other person without the permit can enter in the city. The ongoing trial made things such that my mother could not accompany me during the childbirth and postpartum. There I was , amidst the whole conundrum , a first time expat mother. 

I handled everything single handedly by the will of Allah SWT alone. 

I was dubious of what to do to the tiny bundle of joy Allah SWT had bestowed me with. I had images of Hazrat Hajra A.S running between the mounts of safa and marwah protecting and finding water for her son. I could relate to her. I would keep on marveling her steadfastness and affection for her son for whom she continued running under the scorching sun. Over with Hazrat Hajra A.S my mind would switch to Hazrat Maryam A.S who bore the pangs of labour alone under the date tree. I used to draw similarities from them of bearing the situation alone with firmness, belief and yearn. Firmness that Allah SWT will surely pass this difficult phase of my life, belief that Allah SWT loves me more than 70 times than my own mother and yearning that Allah SWT will grant me health if He willed. I would see the baby and wonder; what does she require of me ? how to bond with her ? How to protect her from the evils around? I had so many questions of which I had no answers. 

Below are some of the things that my sheikh Hazrat Waqas Hasan Qazi db advised me when my little daughter was born and they have proved so helpful alhamdulillah.

● Take care of the hunger of the baby.

● Love her unconditionally, do not show anger, pray for her goodness in this life and the life hereafter. Pray for her to become your sadqa jaria etc.

● Stay modest and of an upright character and try to instill the qualities in yourself that you will like to see in her.

● Breast milk is her right, attend her with ablution. Also remember the doings and sayings of a mother transfer in child.

● Blow on her the supplications of ill-sightedness and magic (last two verses of surah Qalam and surah Yunus verses 81 & 82).

● When reciting Qur’an, do zikr and say durood whisper in her ears even if she’s sleeping.

They think women come with a knowing-all instincts of parenting but no, you need to learn it. You need to actually bond with the child. Learning what she/he requires of you. The task of parenting becomes stressful though it is such a rewarding journey. Motherhood is a beautiful journey and if we really do know the hows and whats of it the treading will be all so fun and rewarding too. I now realise almost daily how good would it be if we were taught life skills back in college and not the career oriented mind-set. They do take oath from us in convocation while awarding us the degree to fulfill the services to humanity, don’t they? But have we really thought what goodness of service will there be if the women of the nation don’t know how to actually raise a child? How to actually grow and nurture a child. I have yet to see parenting and mothering courses at Ivy League schools. I wish we were taught emotional intelligence. It would have helped me in moments of exasperation with the toddler tantrums I have to deal on a daily basis. I wish they had taught us parenting 101, risk management and failure for daily life situations and not from the business point of view alone. Stress management among all the things. For if they had I would rather not be running to self help courses as my guide.

Learning the true essence of nurturing a child is a prime need of a woman. Allah SWT has bestowed her with ‘reham’ (womb) none can deny the fact that among the many fields women may surmount but the basis remains constant. Maintaining home, nurturing children and maintaining modesty these are the elements that we pass onto our children which cultivate the environment of true tarbiyyah. If we will spend half our life learning what won’t benefit us and will only create anxiety and blues out of nowhere in common daily situations how can we achieve a fuller, warm and loved life?

Our Sustenance

It is through the faith

That you see Him

And,

Through the trials & tribulations,

He endows you with

That you find Him

And the pieces of your poor self

He urges your soul

To pick and heal,

By gratitude and Hamd

It never was about how hard you pray…

For O man you pray with hypocrisy

Showing off bare imān with the highlights of your raw taqwā

It always has been about the imān

You hold

And when the piece smashes afore you,

It either makes or breaks

All of you!

The Essence of Hajj

With feeble hearts
and
worn out feet
We stumble
In thy path
For the intent
That is made
For the call
That is said
For the piety
That is emblazed
We stumble
In thy path
Our camp
That is distant…
At the site of Mina
With crowd of guests
Gathered
For thy mercy
We ask
And
We stumble
In thy path
We meet thee
At yaoum ul arafah
And beseech
For your forgiveness
And
We stumble
In thy path
At the jamrah
We pelted
Your hated one
And
We stumble
In thy path
We turn to you
For the sacrifice
O Allah!
And you know
We stumble
In thy path
We circumambulate
Alone
Seeking
None
But you
And
We stumble
In thy path!

Makkah Diaries: Visiting Him – Part-2

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The decision was made for me.

Yes, I was going to visit his house baitullah…house of Allah with Muhammad this time for good. Who would say I have thought of it? As unbelievable as it sounded, I began to count Allah SWT’s blessings sure they were nth and my counting a bajillion times would not give them their due.

Was I going to meet Him in His house?

Was the little girl who would look up to Papa’s face was really called this time?

Has Allah SWT really heard her wishes when she asked from her in-depth caves of heart?

Indeed He did.

The decision was made for me. Alhamdulillah.

Muhammad and I were planning to visit Him now. This time around though was without Papa, Ammi and Dadi (May Allah rest her in peace with His ultimate Rahmah and open doors of heaven in her grave, ameen).

I was anxious, over-whelmed but content altogether.

How would it feel?

Would I be able to see the Majestic Ka’bah?

The black four cornered entity that stands as an evidence of a divine sanctuary ever since mankind has been descended on to this earth? The hands of Ibrahim A.S and Prophet Muhammad PBUH has touched whom…

What will the moment behold for me?

Am I truly going to witness the glory of noorun ‘ala noor

9:00 pm: At the crossroads

The wind of MakkahAl-Mukarramah kissed my face and being a sinful creature I embraced it. I gazed long time to the Makkah sky…stark black without the Qamr this time around. I stared the long wide metallic boards, the smooth roads, GMCs, land cruisers, Fords etcetera and finally…

Husband and I entered the hudud-e-haram after a long journey in ihram – the holy state when one performs ‘Umrah and Hajj. I knew it as we cross the monumental mushaf enthralled open in white and green afore us…subhanallah. This was just the beginning of the sacred journey we were going to make. Insha Allah.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as we crossed the hudud…was I finally in Makkah?

I looked down at my black garb and tried to grab hold of the trembling feet with my cold hands. Was the AC in the Tucson too high? I heaved in silence and the sighs were mixed with tranquility and amazement. I thanked Allah SWT under my lips that Muhammad thought I was sleeping.

Yes I was here.

This is the land where the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions lived. Home to tawheed – Unity of Allah SWT and the unimaginable trials my beloved prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions went through. It’s the land that reminded me of all the seerah lessons that I listened to as an student of Islam and I finally related to. Even not that close, but we were adulating the sand under our feet.

Prayers emerged unknowingly… O Lord! Now that you have called me here make us the true ‘abd of yours. O our Wali! Accept from us and bestow us your forgiveness. Amen !

To Haram Sharif…

As we weaved our way to the Haram sharif surrounded by gigantic and majestic mountains one thought stayed long with me…

These mountains have seen the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم have seen them…and now 1400 years laters we are seeing them…the blessings are still here. Ain’t they?

O Allah grant us the grains of your mercy, ameen.

The crowd streamed towards haram sharif and amongst it we were two individuals hurling our way to His home. I was excited with what lay ahead. I was humbled as to where I was. I was spell-bound by His glory. I was fearful of Him. Muhammad hold my hand and kept briefing me about the dua’s we have to make for ourselves and others and of the geography of the land we were walking on.

May Allah bless him immense, ameen.

Labbaik Allah humma labbaik
Labbaik la sharika laka labbaik
In-nal hamda
Wan-ni’mata
Laka walmulk
Laa sharika lak.

O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am.
There is no partner with You,
here I am.
Truly the praise
and the provisions are Yours,
and so is the dominion and sovereignty.
There is no partner with You.

I recited tashreeq again while looking down.

Huge hotel buildings tried to remain erect as the crowd was flooding. They were there as long as the sight rest and amidst them the classic abraj al-bait – the clock tower. The needles were ticking and as astonish as I already was by the magnanimity of the place I finally witnessed a sense of déjà vu.

The image of that little girl having her breakfast of layered parathas and chai in the courtyard loomed in my mind. This is the same place! Papa ammi dadi look I am here again! I wanted to scream. Oh much I missed them! Words clogged in my throat yet my vision was continuously hindering and blurred.

Men, women and kids amassed the courtyard of haram sharif. A continuous rumble and hustle was in the air with the soul piercing fragrance of haram sharif’s cleaning surf. I misunderstood it for the divine place’s habitual fragrance and Muhammad corrected me.

The floor was as brightly white as the moon’s light. The crowd was as if they have forgotten to sleep and praying was the only important thing right then.

 And why not it be?

Towards Mataf

Escalating our way barefoot towards the mataf …Muhammad asked me to lower the gaze so that when I rest my eyes on Ka’bah I can have the first glance and pray. I was an amateur…I did as I was told. And then out of a sudden ka’abah loomed in front of us with hundreds of people belonging to varied ethnicities circumambulating. The holy sanctuary stood there for millions and millions of Muslims visiting it every part of the day from around the globe.

And then among those millions I was a fraction of His chosen ones.

I was here.

Labbaik Allah humma labbaik
Labbaik la sharika laka labbaik
In-nal hamda
Wan-ni’mata
Laka walmulk
Laa sharika lak.

O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am.
There is no partner with You,
here I am.
Truly the praise
and the provisions are Yours,
and so is the dominion and sovereignty.
There is no partner with You.

A sudden gush of hot tears overflowed and continued and a hard lump rose in the throat like a date seed. I prayed…we prayed there together what felt like an eternity not noticing who was standing beside us. We sobbed hard with hiccups that did not cease and tears that ran out. With prayers for His mercy and barakah. O Allah SWT! O our Wali!

Just then at a distance in the mataf, tip-toeing on the marbled floor of haram sharif, the little girl smiled back at me her eyes flooding with tears.

Right then with the time lapse of roughly 15 years ago the picture has fallen in its place in the canvas.

Bait-ullah…This is Allah’s home.

This is my home too. Because home is where the heart is…

Read Part 1 here.

A Letter to My Friend: Seeking the Counsel of Trust

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Dear Friend,

When we fall, we fall hard.

One primary aspect of our life is trusting Him in EVERY situation. The notion may sound casual, as we go on saying, “have faith” or Trust Him” or “Don’t worry”. How can one not worry when the descended case is so-worrisome? How can one depict hard bound faith in the feeble states of our imaan?

I know these are simple questions demanding our centuries struggle to overcome faith.

One true example is Prophet Jacob (May Allah be pleased with him), when he showed patience, taqwa and trust in Allah Subhana wa ta’ala even though he was going through the most crucial tunnel of his life. When Prophet Yusuf (May Allah be pleased with Him) was taken away and he spent a considerable amount of time (read: years) patiently waiting till Allah’s decree descend.

He could have complaint Allah SWT yet he preferred patience.

He (Yaqoub) said: Nay, your souls have made a matter light for you, so patience is good; maybe Allah will bring them all together to me; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise.

 (Surah Yusuf:83)

This life asks for your sacrifice.

They say Allah SWT is as per your thinking. Good things come to those who Trust Him.(because ultimately they will enact good and so on and so forth)

I know the nafs yearns to go against what He says. A lot of times we do not understand the hikmah in the situation but believe in Him the rest will follow insha Allah.

Or think you 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!

(Suratul Baqarah:214)

My dear, if in situations where your trust in Him dwindles, know that it’s He who is the powerful and the All-Mighty. No harm can touch you if He does not will and no goodness can reach you unless He wills. This is trust.

Trust asks us to go by His words even if it means leaving the dunia knowing that He will bring the whole world in your feet.

Trust asks us to flunk your fortune 500 company interview knowing that it asks for bribe and believing that He will grant the best rizq for you. (after all He provides food to the beings living underneath the stones, yes yes!)

Trust asks us to carry veil even when you know you won’t befit your peer company and knowing that He is the only Wali.

Trust asks us to leave that one multinational job that does not grant you leave for your ‘Itekaaf (retreat in mosque) in Ramadan and knowing that He will provide the most sufficient mean instead.

Trust asks us to meet our relatives earnestly and kindly with whom the ties have been severed in past and knowing that Allah will surely accept from you

Maulana Rumi said,

Don’t turn your head.
Keep looking at the bandaged place.
That’s where
the Light enters you.

It’s not easy, crunching your nafs and abiding by His commands. However, that’s where in between the thawab lies, right?  That’s when the light of His mercy descend on to you because know that unless you are not tested to the threshold of the pain you are not granted.

And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah . But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.

(Suratul Baqarah:165)