Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking back in time, a different kind of life

SubhanAllaah! Sweet Glorious Morning!

Birds warbling, some tweeting, singing. Are they making sweet dua to Allah? The street is quiet and air sharp and cool. Even the morning sun is gentle and not hitting the window panes at this time of morning. Alhamdulillah!

My mind drifted off to a time where I was having a slightly different kind of life...

Back in time, a different kind of life

I tried to live a quiet life for some years. Wanted to concentrate on just working and taking care of my family and caring for a little group of members and new reverts who are really family to me in the real sense.

Caring for each other

Not one day would I fail to think of them and look forward to classes and being with them during weekends etc. It was a safe little world, just taking care of a small part of society, and benefiting much in return.

Loving for the sake of Allah

Some of them have given me lots of support and motivation through a span of 2o long and happy years and they have in a way helped shape my destiny. Their growth and discipline, their love for Allah and their caring and sincerity is precious to me. Though there may be some differences of opinion from time to time, there is mutual love and respect for the sake of Allah SWT.

Trying to live a simple life

I had tried to be kind of a hermit for some years. Not that I secluded myself in some cave or house but I tried to be more ascetic. Gave up meeting people of the glamourous and sometimes pretentious life style. I do admit some of these beautiful people are indeed beautiful in iman as well, though we may have to look hard.

Giving up things we love for the sake of Allah

Even gave up dressing attractively inorder to become less distracted with the dunia (world). Started having a more sober wardrobe, throwing away cosmetics, gave up even a proper skin care routine (big mistake when you are already getting older...). I even did not bother to look into the mirror most days and became so busy that I had not much time for myself personally. I felt that was the thing to do at that time.That change in my life probably helped destress me and kept me focused.

Early years as a single mother

Now that its Ramadhan, I think of the times many years back when I would rush off to the department store after maghrib the night before Eid. Because there is no more tarawih prayers, I would find myself in the almost empty store, trying to find a beautiful dress for myself. Of course I could not find anything I liked. All the nice stuff had been taken by early birds. I wanted a new dress to mark the new Eid, to go to the masjid dressed in my best clothes. For Allah. Usually had to settle for the new telekung which I would buy early in Ramadhan.

Joy and Sadness

Those were the early years when my son was very young and I had a lot of commitments and responsibilities as a new single mother and also very busy with my baking business. I am grateful that Allah sent me many friends who gave me lots of support and love. I was never lonely or depressed or lacked love or attention. Only sad for my young baby boy and realised my lack of knowledge.

All that baking and cooking classes helped me buy my car and house. Alhamdulillah!

Tired of trying to mingle with 'beautiful people'

It was tiring attending meaningless functions and making small talk. Some do not even bother to have a conversation, maybe because they think we are some backward conservatives (a more polite term for fundamentalists, which actually is an honourable term for a practising Muslim). Once a while I had the good rezeki to meet some kindred souls.

Been there, done that

Is it because I did not dress like them? Its hard to ignore the obvious differences. One is all wrapped up like a mummy and the other is almost naked, in so called designer gowns and minis. Smile... What they did not know was I had been there, done that, and at a more extreme pace than they would ever imagine. Thank you Allah for helping your ignorant slaves.

I remember the times when I too dressed like them. I would have fitted in beautifully, as I too had different values during the wandering and wondering years. The right knowledge came real slowly but surely but there is still so much to learn, so much to improve.... O Allah, please forgive us and give us a chance to make up for our vain and silly behaviour. Please help our sisters who are struggling to improve themselves and please help those who are still wandering in darkness, dazzled by the bright lights of this worldly life.

'O Allah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha'ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan'. (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadhan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings). narrated by At-Tabarani and Ahmad

I was reminded again at a talk yesterday to keep making this dua. Insha'Allah our duaa will be accepted by Allah SWT and our Ramadhan accounted for even if we should be recalled from this worldly life before we can perform our ibadah in Ramadhan. Allah so ever so Merciful, full of Wisdom.

No longer belonged

I just felt I no longer belonged. No, I did not feel I was really better than others. Just mixed feelings, where we reach a stage of being bored and tired of it all. After some time everything seemed artificial. Everyone needs to be loved and respected. Many people who behaved like that were just hungry, seeking love and approval. Sometimes from the wrong crowd.

On looking back now

I suddenly am very afraid to end up being condescending. I know my own weaknesses better now - who am I to judge or have a strong opinion? Probably many people out there are working much harder than some of us. They are always chasing pahala (merit points from Allah SWT). Many people have more knowledge, have done great deeds and sacrificed much of their time, money, blood, sweat and tears for the good of the ummah and society.

Who do I see? What do I know?

I once met a young woman who was amply exposed but she has a good and kind heart. Sometimes knowledge has not reached some people yet. After we do not know everything ... she may know something we don't.

Anyway, she had been attending proper religious classes and has the sincerity to want to improve her knowledge and to become closer to Allah. If we judge from her appearance, we would be very mistaken. Allah knows our intentions and may He guide and help all those who turn to him. I used to think I know something. Not so sure now. I learn much from people like this sister. A lesson in humility.

That extra mile

We are so busy and constantly rushing from point to point, sometimes making commitments we cannot keep up with. So difficult to say no and so much in need to do that little bit extra to make up for our lapses.

What do we know, really?

We know nothing and all knowledge is in the hands of the Almighty. Yet sometimes we are on the verge of judging and thinking ill of what we do not approve. I have to remind myself very often these days that what we see may not be what we imagine it to be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So nice to be able to listen to the adhan

I love to hear the call of the adhan as it is a 'timely' reminder 5 times a day. I usually wake up a little before the adhan. Its better that way so I do not have to jump up from bed and rush to do my ablutions or wudhu. And I do not like to be wakened by the very loud and shocking volume.

Right now I can hear the verses of Al Quran being recited. SubhanAllah! Such a privilege and comfort to listen to Quran. This new residence is in a way much better than the old one at Tropicana as I had to strain my ears to listen for adhan at the approximate times.

Just now they were making dhikr and it sounded so lovely and peaceful. Ooh! The adhan just sounded loudly - my heart nearly missed a beat. What a shock! There seemed to be several people calling the adhan over here. Right now it sounds rather melodious. Sometimes ear and nerve wrecking - wonder why.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Making the best of the situation

An important meeting was postponed today

I find postponements often throws a wrench into the works! Sometimes it is unavoidable so its better to make the best of the situation. That also saves frazzled nerves and annoyance. What is fated to happen will happen so why fret about it?

What I did instead

I decided not to go out or make any new appointments. 'Wisely' or rather lazily decided to make the most of my day at home, a rare moment indeed. Nearly everyday there are some chores or meetings or other work to be done. It is more like a treat, to be able to check my email and to catch up with some writing and sharing. And no driving and no traffic jams. :)

Work can be fun too

A business client dropped by and that was an interesting meeting. Everyone in the garment business loves beautiful clothes and like to exchange ideas. It was fun discussing new trends and ideas.

Quick cooking

I even managed to cook mushroom soup and stir fried some extra mushroom in some olive oil and butter and garlic. I so kindly gave some soup to my friend and then realised I forgot to add the milk! No wonder it tasted a little unusual! I thought it was because I did not use any meat or stock cubes. Anyhow it was kind of simple and nice - organic mushroom vegetarian soup with a bit of tomato cherry and onion for flavour.

Recycled dinner - feels good not to waste

Dinner was mushroom soup again, this time improved with milk - definitely tasted better! Made toasted garlic bread from the left over French loaf from the freezer. I did not know it would be still nice - used to throw away all the uneaten French loaves. What a waste!

Shared some fried chicken, hot from the mini toaster. There was so much food that we had to freeze the burger buns which I thought we might eat with the Gouda cheese and salad. Been using the same salad recipe since yesterday as all I had left was the same vegetables. Added garlic bits for a bit of a bite.

Actually we rather enjoyed the dinner too as it was homemade, no preservatives or additives and we could eat to our heart's content! To top it I suddenly had the urge for a cup of hot chocolate and some dark hazelnut chocolate. Yumm!!!

Lepakking (Hanging around doing nothing much)

Well, this is what we would eat on a lazy quiet day so we could get back to what we enjoyed most - tidying the house a bit, reading, writing and surfing the net for new information etc etc. Lepakking in the house can be both fun and indulging.

Still rearranging my house bit by bit. Finally hung up my new curtains - the morning sun is so bright that its just too warm and glaring. I found my original light brocade curtains too see through to shield the bright sunlight.The curtains for the reading room will have to wait. Too lazy to climb up to change the curtains.

Multipurpose tea cum reading room

Actually my little reading room is also my mini library and my tea room. Also a place to display a few of my Chinese long dresses in case some sisters want to purchase something special. Alhamdulillah for such a relaxing and peaceful day.

Working on some new Muslima designs

Tonight I planned to bake some cakes but I think I will work on some new designs for my Bahasa Malaysia version of 'The Beauty of Covering Up'.

My production manager just asked if I would be coming out with a new range of designs. I immediately decided yes as that would update the book and give readers some new ideas for covering up modestly with style and grace. Why not, indeed!

Of course that would mean a lot of drawing and designing, redrawing until I like what I see. A lot of work but really interesting and enjoyable. Its not hard work but work nevertheless.

Counting my blessings

Looking from a different perspective

Just saw a comment that we should avoid comparison with others. It does not have to be a bad thing. In Islam we are supposed to look at those who have less than us, the less privileged, the ones who are suffering from illness, financial woes and family discord. Do not attempt to compare ourselves with those who have more than us in every way.

We are always never satisfied! True or False?

We can never be satisfied even if we can outdo them all. The nafs in us, all the vain desires will never let us be contented. Do not even blame shaitan for this weakness. Its inherent in us and it is only knowledge, wisdom and guidance from Allah that often saves the day.

If we look towards the suffering, the poor and downtrodden, we are indeed so blessed. We take so much for granted and yet are never satisfied.

Naturally we want to improve in our living standards, to be healthier, to be more secure and comfortable. We cannot deny these natural needs and aspirations. Without that we would never improve ourselves or excel in our interests and careers.

We can never have everything as our
keep changing with time

What I am trying to say is we must know we can never have everything. Everyday there will be new challenges, new delights, new sorrow. Life is full of ups and downs and we never know what Allah plans for us. Whether we like it or not, be certain He wants good for us.

How do we achieve goodly rewards?

The way we achieve good may be through great rewards and recognition. It can also be through trials and tribulations, suddenly our lives being turned upside down! It is part of a purification and reward process. A life's journey.

Alhamdulillah for everything

What can we say except Alhamdulillah! Everything must bow to the will of Allah SWT. When some calamity befalls us, some of us will say "Why me?" "I had always been a good person, why do I have to suffer this difficulty? Why not my neighbour who is such an evil person?".

When something wonderful and happy happens to us, do we ever say "Why me?" "Actually I think my friend deserves this reward or moment more than me". However we may just grab the moment and savour it with joy, forgetting everyone spontaneously.

Never question the will of Allah

The point is, we do not have much choice actually. Everything is as Allah wills, and sometimes we ourselves made some mistake along the way but did not realise it. Many things happened because of what we had done.

Wake up! Wake up!

We can however consider it a wake up call from Allah. As long as he grants us another day to live, we can still try to make the best of the situation and take a lesson from it. Out of every hardship will come relief. That is a promise from Allah.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fasting outside Ramadhan

Dinner at Damansara Utama

Fasted today after a nice dinner last night with sister Nurin and kids. Fish bihun (rice vermicelli) in salted vegetable and milk soup. Sounds rather weird, if you try to imagine what it tastes like. Well, its seasoned with tomatoes and maybe some vinegar to make it lightly piquant. I prefer lightly cooked fresh fish slices but most restaurants often deep fry the fish fillets.

Milk and Fish

Milk is optional but its rather nice with the chicken stock. Maybe fish stock but it didn't seem fishy. Did read somewhere that we should not mix milk with fish - probably some adverse chemical reaction.

Crazy Packing of Dates at 5am

Suddenly woke up at 5am. Full of energy and decided to repack my box of dates into individual 1 kilo packs. Loose packs usually sell well as some people like buying a variety of dates for the home. Guess its more fun that way. Decorated some with bits of satin ribbon and lace to give it a festive touch. I charge a little extra for this time consuming exercise but its solitude and peaceful. Gives me time to think and plan. This year I seemed to be so busy that I did not even have time to inform some regular customers that I have dates for sale.

Go with the flow

Think I shall just go with the flow - whoever needs dates may give me a call. Sure I appreciate the extra business but I do not like to make people obligated. People who call me are people who really are interested to purchase and they are interested to give me support. After all, they can buy any kind of dates from many shops and supermarkets anywhere. Alhamdulillah! I appreciate their patronage and kindness. You all know who you are! Thank you, jazakallahu khairan.

Minimum orders only

This season, though its before Ramadhan, sales have picked up. It really feels great to get decent orders - not the usual one kilo Mariami, 2 small boxes of Samin rotab or a box of Lyna. People are ordering by the carton - maybe because I appealed for orders of at least minimum half a dozen or half a carton. I do not like to increase the price although petrol and toll as well as time is affected. Alhamdulillah some people do give very BIG tips! Super!

Maybe they know its kind of heavy work carrying cartons and cartons of dates all over the place. One carton can be 6 lbs or more. But its good exercise and carrying heavy loads can be good for strengthening our bones. Allah is so Merciful - he rewards his slaves who have to do heavy physical work with endurance, good health and strength, insha Allah.

People do not have to go slow in Ramadhan

Just do what we had been doing all year and even more in Ramadhan! I decided to sell dates to earn extra income since I do not bake anymore. It has its own challenges but definitely I have more time to do my ibadah and also make it affordable for me to give away dates to share during iftar. I try to maintain my prices year after year. It is a form of good deed too, I want more people to afford to buy good tasty dates easily. What great opportunities to earn extra pahala. When I give away a tray of cakes, maybe only 20 people may get to share it. Extra income in Ramadhan helps us to do more charity and be more generous to friends and family.

Big returns insha Allah

Dates? Many people can have dates for a small sum of money. So when we offer dates to people in hope of reward from Allah, give good quality dates, not ask what is cheaper and yet nice. Cheap and nice seldom goes together as the supplier knows about supply and demand. Rotab dates are nice but do not go for the sticky sweetened dates sold in a huge pile. Not natural and not healthy. Eat less eat better.

Give what you like for yourself

Do not give what you yourself do not like to eat. Poor people also deserve good food. Halal and toyyibah. Just because they need our charity does not mean they should get cheap stuff. Are they not your brothers and sisters? Give less, give better!

Preparing for Ramadhan

Ramadhan around the corner, once more

Alhamdulillah! These days there are numerous ways to get good information relating to how to prepare for Ramadhan. It comes only once a year and the best chance for us to make up for all our mistakes, excesses, failure, sins and weaknesses. It is also the best time to double and triple our efforts to race with one another to get rewards from Allah SWT.

New leaf

Allah is sure Generous and Merciful. Take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Not that most of us were deliberately bad since the last Ramadhan, If we reflect honestly, can we sincerely give ourselves top marks for performance of our ibadah?

Do we spoil our own good record?

Made any silly mistakes lately? Uttered some unnecessary words? Made some unkind or angry comments? Some of us could have committed one or two or even all of the above. I'm talking from experience, trying hard to improve but not quite there yet.....

Only human, forgetful and careless sometimes

We are only human and we do fail sometimes. Get up and try again. Walk tall and if we stumble, its only a hiccup in our journey of life. Allah is forgiving towards those who are kind and forgiving to others. People who hate and are too proud to forgive do not realise they in turn may not get Allah's forgiveness .

Pride and Arrogance

Is it our pride or our bad attitude that prevent us from obeying and respecting Allah's commands? Sometimes it is ignorance of our own spiritual responsibilities. Most of us knew nothing until Allah guided us.

Please forgive me!

I also take this opportunity to humbly ask my friends to forgive all my mistakes and sins, done knowingly and unknowingly. We are all tested daily and sometimes we fail miserably. Sometimes without even realising it.

May Allah guide us and forgive us. May He accept our ibadah and niyyah.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finding time to cook in Ramadhan

These days I do not seem to have the mood to spend time in the kitchen. Some of the vegetables have to be thrown away periodically. Its such a shame!

Eat more vegetables!

I bought some beautiful fresh mushrooms the other day but I got ambitious so I also bought pumpkin, baby tomatoes. fruits, capsicum and cheese. Managed to make a quick pumpkin soup - low fat and vegetarian. Insha'Allah I will - I have to use up all my mushrooms before they turn yellow and dry.

Fresh Mushroom Soup and Buttered Mushroom with garlic - yummy and quick

Perhaps a clear mushroom soup if I am too tired or a creamy one if I have time. The balance will be stir fried in some butter or olive oil. Just a smashed pip of garlic or sliced onions. Some left over frozen french bread.

Tasty Salad

Easy to make a fresh capsicum, onion and tomato salad in apple vinegar and little olive oil and salt and pepper. use any crispy lettuce available - just tear it up. That's going to be really quick.

I discovered I did not have to add any honey if I used apple vinegar. It is sweet and just the right flavour. Maybe I will whizz up some hummus (blended garbanzo beans), tahina (sesame paste), fresh lemon juice and a spalsh of olive oil, pepper, garlic.

I did give an offer to have a cooking session before Ramadan but so far the timing may not be right. Suddenly there is a committee meeting on 23rd July so that means only 24 afternoon is available. Ipoh visit on 30th though I am not sure if I can make it.

Fancy Pumpkin Seafood Soup

I saw a cooking show from Taiwan in someone's house (no, I do not subscribe to Astro as it really takes up too much of time) that suggested the addition of fresh fish fillet, mussels, mushrooms and silken tofu to the pumpkin soup. The chef also made a roux (white sauce and added some cream), Looked interesting but a bit too rich and fancy for my simple taste buds.

Maybe for a fancy dinner and possibly just a small dish of soup each, not the larger helpings in the case of a more rustic and basic pumpkin soup.

Tonight's dinner

We had pumpkin soup tonight. With the fresh salad and steamed brown rice. I also served store bought prawn sambal petai and some fried tahu cooked in coconut milk. Dinner was unexpectedly pleasant and I threw in the extra cheese and baby tomatoes over the steaming rice. Cooked rice in 2 small shallow dishes in layered electric steamer.

Easy steamboat or hotpot

Actually its rather nice to cook a pot of chicken stock with some bones and drumsticks etc. Add a few tomyam cubes or paste or leave it plain and naturally sweet. If you add stock cubes there will be a lot of msg in it, whether we like it or not.

Just add your favourite vegetables, prawns, chicken and fish fillet. Fresh squid and mushrooms are great too. Throw in some lemon grass, limau purut leaves, chili padi, onions and galanggal or lengkuas for tomyam soup. This can be made more extravagant when you have special guests or just have it simple with some quality prawns, fishballs and yong tow foo.

So much time and preparation for a meal

Marketing, cleaning, preparation, cooking, cleaning, serving, clearing up, cleaning, storing etc etc. That's a lot of work for just one meal. But the satisfaction is definitely greater when we share a nice meal at home. Especially when our family sees their favourite foods on the table. Mothers know all about that, waking up and cooking for sahur - I really salute them.

Microwave - thing of the past

I was only adept at reheating food in the microwave. Can't do that anymore as I stopped using microwave many years ago for health reasons.

Super simple sahur

Good thing my son really likes cereal and fresh milk. Alhamdulillah! Even when he was primary school aged, he would set the alarm clock and prepared his favourite sahur. When I was really tired and sleepy I would only wake up for dates and water. So long I had sahur. following the sunnah.

Train children from young

Do not let our children demand or tell us what to do or what to cook, especially for sahur. If they requested very nicely, any mother would not be able to turn down their appeals. If kids simply expect to be served or must have freshly cooked meals for sahur, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Why be slaves to unappreciative little people? You may end up doing that for the rest of your lives. Not a very exciting thought.

Less I eat, the less hungry I become

I find the more I eat for sahur, the faster I would become hungry. Maybe the gastri juices would be overworking and demanding for more food. A piece of toast or a egg or cereal is more practical for me.

Iftar is not for stuffing ourselves after fasting all day

Iftar should be moderate and best to avoid sweets too often. The temptation may be great especially if we attend a lot of iftar with friends. They really try to feed us too well. If people actually put on weight in Ramadhan, something is wrong somewhere!

Go easy on the extras

Better take some dates and drink and complete solat maghrib before commencing dinner. Sometimes I do eat my dinner right away. In a way it is good as I do not have time to eat too much and do not have time for any appetizers or dessert. Just a simple main meal and perhaps some light snack or morey after tarawih, eating with friends before we part.

Best of Ramadhan

The best part of Ramadhan is when we break our fast from not merely eating and drinking but abstaining from evil thoughts, bad deeds and poor etiquette. And a supercharge of energy and faith when we stand together in worship of Allah SWT. SubhanAllah!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why we need to write

Document! Document! Document!

'Ooooohhh! I never saw it that way before. Yes, I do feel I have somethings to share but surely they can't be that important!'. Well, maybe its something simple to you, (now that its over), but that little piece of information or experience may help someone else change his or her perspective and understanding of certain situations.

Be confident - not over confident!

My friend used to tell me I should not underestimate myself when I generally responded in a simple humble manner. After all, we should not be over confident and think too highly of our own work. But then again, if we are not confident. how are we to proceed to a higher level and meet greater challenges? Moderation in everything, Islam is the middle way.

We do not say things like 'We are the best of the best' - in whose eyes, anyway?

Remember to be humble, with quiet confidence

I wanted to say, "My dear, I was just being humble as Allah SWT may not be pleased with my over confident and egoistic manner". But her words gave me more confidence as she was someone who spoke with expert experience. This friend of mine had helped my writing and confidence grow through the years. May Allah SWT reward her for her patience and kindness.

I do know I had put in a lot of time, research and effort to write a special chapter but there is always sooooo much room for improvement. Many a times I had scrunched up all my drafts as I felt I could have done better. So why be so pleased with a so called 'finished' draft? Someone else may just come along and be talented enough to improve it 100 percent in 10 minutes flat!

Time for improvement

Maybe I should consider improving further, with more seriousness as I am feeling a bit lethargic and mediocre right now. :( Guess I need to put in more time as I had been really busy with work. Hard to think when there is always a long mental list in the head, waiting to be ticked off.

Committing myself again

Yes, I think I have to commit myself publicly again, just as I committed myself for the last book. Its like forcing myself to adhere to a loose time frame to come up with some workable material.

Insha'Allah wisdom will prevail

That is what had been keeping me back. What to write, what not to write and how to do it. May Allah SWT guide me and give me wisdom to serve Him by sharing a part of our long and lonely spiritual journey. I need to get my niyyah (intentions) correct. To do so only to please Allah SWT and to serve Him by sharing hopefully some good with His creation.

May Allah SWT make it easy for me and guide me so I do not forget myself and my purpose. May He give us rezeki halal through our work and our writing. Not to get rich but to earn enough to continue writing and sharing. All wealth (rezeki) comes from Allah so insha' Allah we are happy to accept what he plans for us.

Sharing is caring

Actually it is indeed good to document. We are losing lots of great ideas and keeping back tons of valued insights of our past experiences in locked trunks, dusty and musty, to be forgotten and lost forever when we depart from this brief stay in this world.

I met many people who write really well. Are they going to start writing soon? We can also start a writer's club (mini one) to motivate one another.

Remember, we can write on anything - hobbies, homemaking, parenting, education, travel, crafting, cooking, health, family, photography, art - just anything that can add some quality to our lives and can help us appreciate the beauty of Allah's creations.

What good can we leave behind?

Not many people will miss or mourn us. What good advice and secrets of life we could have imparted would be buried with us very sadly. Perhaps it would not be a bad idea to share our experiences, our wisdom and our mistakes so others may benefit if they wish. It is amal jariah if people accepted what we shared and practised and shared with others. Why not leave this world with a trail of goodness and love?

Power of Supplication

It would be a real shame to just have people pray over us and bury us, with nothing to share with them. At least when they benefit from our sincere effort, they may remember us kindly and remember us in their daily supplications.

We need our children, our family and good practising Muslims to supplicate for us. We need them to ask for Allah SWT's forgiveness and rewards of Jannah for those who have gone before them.

We ourselves too must make supplications daily for those who have left us, for those who are here with us and those yet to come. We want to leave this life after making worthy contribution towards a better ummah.

Loving the sunnah of the Prophet saw

If we emulate the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad saw, he had said 'my ummah, my ummah' - he loved and cared for his ummah until even the last moments of his life. Do we love our fellow Muslims and fellowmen?

His ummah also means all mankind, regardless Muslim or not yet Muslim. He was sent as a mercy to all mankind. How big hearted and loving was our dear Prophet sallalaahu alayhi wassalam.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wow! So many cake requests!!!

A sudden high demand for cakes lately

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Only sad part is I no longer have the time or inclination to continue my full time baking anymore. It really takes a lot of patience, time and energy to produce a really good cake. It only looks fun and easy on tv as they have to keep the viewers entertained all the time. These days I only bake when I am in the right mood and have all the ingredients ready.

Tour of famous bakery

One day we were invited to visit a famous baking institution and bakery. I spotted a tray of crooked and burnt heap of vanilla and chocolate sponge layer cakes, sadly waiting to be decorated.

Cakes too need some cosmetic improvements

Once they trimmed and frosted the cakes they miraculously turned in delicious looking black forests and blueberry cakes. See! Even some cakes need a complete professional makeover before they can look edible. Kitchen Secrets.

Kind and supportive friends and customers

That means only very, very understanding and kind friends and customers will bother to call me anymore. I saw quite a number of disappointed faces and also felt equally bad to decline phone requests. Who doesn't like to have lots of baking orders? Not right now anyway.

Last week someone requested 100 cupcakes. I had to say no as I was still rearranging all my furniture. Kitchen not ready. Even if it was ready I still would have to say no as I was too stressed with putting the house in order. I want a home, not a house!

Do not take advantage of customers

Once a customer requested for 1000 cupcakes for her son's wedding. I said no without hesitation as I did not want to take advantage of her offer. I do not like adding preservatives into my cakes. Just imagine! How many days would that take to bake and pack 1000 pieces of cake! People - you are all eating very stale and preserved cakes at some functions. And the poor customer has to pay a lot for each homebaked item.

Homebaked Goods are Costly but Good

Yes, home baked items do not come cheap. Not because we overcharge but because we are not full time bakers and do not purchase ingredients in bulk. And whatever remained may spoil if not used regularly. Of course we do charge a reasonably high sum for the 'hard labour' and trouble and most of all, the stress and responsibility.

Sugar free and safe?

I do still bake but these days its more for pleasure. I look forward to experimenting more recipes and perhaps coming out with some healthy sugarless cakes and cookies. I do not think it is safe to use commercial artificial sweeteners as some have been reported to be detrimental to our health, with some serious side effects in some cases.

Reduce consumption of preservatives and additives in food

People should buy quality bread for their families. Learn how to bake one or two variety of breads so the children do not have to consume preservatives daily. Everything adds up. Cakes and sweets are treats and not daily fare. Try to use organic wholemeal flour or at least go for cappatis and pasta, hopefully lesser of the evils.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Homeless People


All these homeless people in the streets- who are they? Where do they come from? Why are they here? Why still here after so many years?

Perhaps not exactly homeless in the sense that they do have someplace to rest their weary heads and bodies at the end of the day. What kind of day do they actually have? Who takes care of them? How? Why are there so many foreigners in the city, loitering around, some begging while others waiting sadly for kindness from some passer by.

How do we feel?

Sometimes people look at them with fear, apprehension and curiousity. Others may feel they are just no good beggars and do not belong here. Others may look down on them and think these people do not deserve a better life, that they should just disappear....

Early accquaintance with refugees

I do not know the answers. Many years ago many sisters joined effort to raise funds to help some Rohigya families. We found funds to rent homes for them and set up basic Quran classes for their children. Some managed to get odd jobs while the women who were less independant helped looked after the children and the homes.

Living in a mixed and traumatised community

They were a sad and mixed lot. People who had to leave their homes and worldly belongings suddenly become unwanted people of the world. Many have no identity and no recognition. Some who entered under more official means have some UN id whereas those who escaped through the mountains through Thailand have no documents. We knew some were good and educated people while others could have come from less noble backgrounds.

Sacrifices and love for family

I met a middle aged man with a very aged father, with white hair (as far as I can remember). We asked him how they came into the country. He said he carried his father on his back and walked all the way to the border. Just imagine, running for their lives and and having to carry his father, a large framed man.

Why am I writing all this?

Just 2 nights ago I met an old lady in a wheelchair situated right outside a bank at around 9 pm. I asked her where she was from but she could not understand me. She was wearing a headscarf and dressed decently in old clean clothes. She pointed to a young lady in her 20s who was also modestly covered in the Islamic way. She said she was from Myanmar.

Refugees - what will happen to them?

She said she did not live other other groups but lived with the old lady, her grandmother. She had a sad resigned look upon her face. She said they would come by the bank to wait for some donations twice a week. I was happy to see they presented themselves with dignity and modestly. No stories, no lies and no excuses. Just simple acceptance of their circumstances.

I was very touched and felt sad to see their plight. Whilst we are planning what to eat and where to go there are people who are not sure of when their next meal would be. They cannot choose which restaurant they wish to patronise and drive home in their own cars and sleep in an air conditioned room like many people.

There may not be many things to look forward to and where do they go when they fall ill? There may be some groups who may visit them but who actually cares for them?

Shukr to Allah

This makes me all the more thankful to Allah for all the mercies and blessings He has granted to us and our loved ones, our friends and our families. SubhanAllah!

How do we give thanks? Some simple ways -

Let us make some effort to remember and share with these people who are also a trial for all of us especially in Ramadhan. Even if we see a beggar on the street, just help in the name of Allah SWT. You will not lose anything as you would have done something good for the sake of Allah.

If we met some dishonest people or part of a syndicate, we need to ask why are they there. Why are they willing to be used? Maybe they have no where else to go. Certainly most of us are unable to take on the responsibility of housing them. feeding them. caring for them and finding some work for them. At least they are not trained to be pick pockets and thieves or robbers.