Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life After Haj

Is there life after Haj?  Definitely a big big Yes!  But not during jet lag I'm afraid. Mentally and spiritually fortified but physically just recovering.  For the elderly, less healthy and for those living far away from the Masjid, it is a great physical and mental exercise daily. How I admire the 70 year olds who head for the Masjid daily step by step, some with walking sticks and some in wheelchairs.  Subhanallaah!

What time to go to the Masjid?

 When to get up, what time to get to the Masjid, what time is fajr, dzuhr, asar... All the times are different and we need to get familiar with the changes.  Felt strange initially to have to try to sleep around 9 or 10pm.  sometimes we stay up until midnight.   There is so much to do and see but if we do not rest well., we will be too tired to meet all the prayer times etc. We did not want to miss anything while we were there.

Still feeling slow and lagging behind at times.  Some mornings I wake up full of energy and other days , after reading just a little after solat my eyes feel so tired that I have to take a nap in the morning.  Not in the swing of things at the moment.

Work is never done

And whether I like it or not, there is much work to attend to.  And spring cleaning and tidying up the house, changing the sheets, washing the linens, sorting out the clothes and stuff from the suitcases.

Missing Malaysian food

All mundane but necessary.  And also trying to have more home cooked meals after eating away from home for 6 weeks.  No complaints about the food, we were hungry all the time and ate well.  Sometimes we ate at the mall, yearning for some authentic Arab food.  And murtabak and good hot teh tarik.

Murtabak never tasted so good!

Murtabak was SR10 each but there is meat and some egg so its a substantial meal.  The Arab rice and lamb or chicken is around SR20 to SR25 each but sufficient for 2 small eaters.  A hungry man would finish off the whole packet by himself.  Rice with fried fish is sometimes SR30 and dhal is another SR7.  Fish was fresh and food was alright.  Its not restaurant food, just mall fast food so do not expect the same quality, but the rice was long , fragrant  and delicious.

Hunting for Seats during mealtimes at the food court

I would prefer to have a meal at Hydramaut in Ampang  if I want more side dishes and a proper table to enjoy it.  At meal times there may be 300 people but only 200 seats. They serve great coffee from proper coffee machines and that is around SR7 a cup.  Milk tea is SR 2 to 3, depending on location.  Fruit juices are SR10 but though tasty, they are very sweet, I suspect condensed milk is added.

Malaysian Food is Best

Anyway, I managed  to prepare some simple pleasant meals at home but could not resist a few Chinese Muslim restaurant meals on my return. This morning we had lontong and nasi lemak from Restoran Ria in Melawati.

 Pumpkin soup  and maybe garlic bread , sambal terung and potato cutlet (bergedil from Restoran Ria ) for dinner tonight.  Cooking some beef in the slow cooker for tomorrow.   Alhamdulillah.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Missing - out of sight but not out of mind

Assalamu alaikum my dear friends!

I had been a bit busy lately and somehow forgot to update my blogs.  Resorted to Facebook as its the fastest way to share or catch up with new information.  Or some valuable lessons and tips from our beloved speakers and scholars.

Not all scholars speak eloquently.  Some know so much but they are sometimes too serious for people who are not interested to learn.  You have to catch their attention by talking at their level.  Then there is some connection, some understanding.

Some people may not be scholars but they have a gift of connecting with people.  They share from their hearts, not scholarly or academic matters but just everyday life and its ups and downs.

Everyone has something good to share

Everyone has something to share.  Sometimes we are too busy and miss out on valuable insight. Sometimes we get the message straight away - the truth sometimes  hits us, upsets us and sometimes uplifts us.

If we have something worthy to share, let us not keep it within us.  It will only find its way to the grave with us when tis time to bury us.

Sharing is indeed caring

Make the effort and share, for the sake of Allah, to benefit others, to delight others, to help and motivate others and most of all to benefit ourselves,

Win Win Situation

How do we benefit ourselves? Just the simple act of doing something of benefit makes us feel good..  Just think how wonderful it is when someone benefits from what we shared and then goes on to share with others.  It can be passed on and on and whatever good came as a result of sharing that information, we may be rewarded continuously for it.

 Allah SWT rewards those who like to do good purely for His sake.  Be generous in sharing  your knowledge and Allah is more Generous than everyone in the universe put together. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Post Ramadan

Thankful after Ramadan

Ramadan came and went.  All the juggling to meet our ibadah schedules finally over. Some of us are still struggling with the balance of the fasting replacement and some of us just doing the 6 days of fasting in Shawal.some of us could fast right through Ramadan.  Alhamdulillah it was indeed a great benefit and really made it much easier, with the stress of thinking of having to replace countless days.

Fasting the 6 Days in Shawal

Actually we should not fuss too much.  Allah SWT decides how many days we can fast and we have to make sure we make up the lost days..  The chance to do the 6 days in Shawal comes once a year.  We need to replace all missed days before we can attempt to do the 6 days of fasting.

No Pain No Gain

If it is that easy, just fast 6 days in Shawal , do you think it is deserving of such great reward?  The pure and sincere intention to attempt to do it, the intention of trying to replace all missed fast and yet fulfil the 6 days is indeed challenging.  With all the feasting and visits for so many days, it is indeed quite a challenge for some of us.  This is where we have to persevere and thus earn the rewards that are promised.  Insha Allah.

Using our own nafs to form an opinion

Some people argue that since we are supposed to do the fasting in Shawal, it makes sense to give this priority and replace lost fasting through the year.  It can sound very attractive to people who need to repalce over 10 days or more of fasting.  Its too difficult,  It doesn't make sense.  We have to do the 5 days first.

Let's be honest to ourselves

So thay say.  Well, everyone can say what they like.  And they can also do what they wish.  If their intention is to get Allah's pleasure and subsequently His reward, let us be honest to ourselves.

Is Wajib less important?

One friend recently put it very simply. "Replacing missed fasting in Ramadan is something that is wajib, obligatory.  If we did not do it then it becomes a great sin.  What if we died before we replaced our fasting?  Some people I know actually procrastinated until a few days before the next Ramadan.  Time does fly and illness or other calamities may prevent us from fulfilling this obligation early..\

We will not be penalised if we miss the 6 days. Of course we will feel sad and feel we missed out on a great reward. Only Allah knows best.

 We may or may not miss a great reward but we will not displease Allah by making any wrong assumption.. In Islam we should opt to do what we are certain and avoid what we are uncertain.

Why are we fasting anyway?

Now that makes sense.  Whatever we do is for the pleasure of Allah anyway.  Why are we fasting,  waking up early, missing our meals, our favourite cup of coffee and missing out of lunches with our colleagues and friends? Whu do we have to put up with difficult people and yet be as patient as possible.  We have to control our desires and discipline our tongues, our eyes and our limbs from commiting any vain talk and actions. . All for the sake of Allah.

Everything is as Allah Plans

If we ran out of time in Shawal it is with Allah's knowledge.  Wouldn't He know if we had a hard time trying to purify ourselves, again and again, just to be able to fast?  Perhaps all such efforts are already counted as our good intentionto perform as many sunnah acts as possible.

He know our intentions/niyyah

Our intentions are known to Him and if we are sincere, and we redha, accepting our situation  in  itself is a good action,.  Even I used to feel that women tend to miss and lose out on a lot of ibadah that men take for granted.  Who knows what rewards Allah will give to those who are patient and accept His decisions?

Bending the rules to suit our nafs?

Do we really want to bend the rules to achieve 6 days which may or may not be accepted by Allah?  It is perhaps better to do what we are certain than to venture into grey areas, hoping we are pleasing Him.

Is pleasing Allah more important that gathering 'expected rewards'?

Its not easy to be patient and feel we have missed out.  To be patient and to be grateful that we had the chance to  live through another Ramadan is already something we should be really really thankful for.

Greedy Greedy Most of Us

Man and women are indeed greedy and never satisfied.  We are always trying to get more out of everything.  There are times when we should just say "Alhamdulillah" and accept His decisions.  I try to remind myself to try to be grateful for even the smallest niamah/blessings.

Do we not feel blessed already?

What if we could not open our eyes or lost our hearing when we wake up in the morning?  Our souls were taken out of our bodies and returned if it is not yet our turn to return to Allah. Just to be able to see our loved ones again the next morning, to hear our child's laughter.  Is that not a great blessing?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trying to do everything simultaneously

Firstly, I'm  trying to post something hastily before I go on to other must dos tonight.  Enjoying my semi sweet cocoa butter Belgian chocolate at the same time.  I ate a few packages already and this is the last one.  Its anti oxidant and really very creamy and tasty.  After all, they are Belgian chocolates, not the ones you see everyone trying to make in fancy shapes and colours, some being sold on line.

Go for the real thing

Not criticising others but commercial chocolate for making fancy chocolates at home are not the same as fine chocolates that you see over the speciality counters.  Of course the prices are also very special. Too costly,. That's why people resort to making their own, even though it does not taste like the real thing.

Satisfying Dinner

 Today we had a fairly interesting dinner.  Made the beef stew at midnight.  Today made chicken soup with lots of vegetables.  Just great for a cool rainy night.  Actually it was not raining when I prepared my fruit starter. Its mango season so I had been using a lot of mangoes.   It had been rather warm in the day and I made more of the mango and red seedless grape dessert with ice cubes Drizzle some honey if you wish for a fruity honey drink when the ice melts.  Actually I also like it with watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, grapefruit, orange, apple and banana.  Any combination.

Simple Beef Stew with tomatoes 

I browned the beef which was coated with some flour to seal the juices.  Then added water, onions and cooked it for a while to soften the beef.  Did not take long , depending on the cut of meat.  I then added some cloves, cinnamon, a star anise, lots of carrots.some potatoes and tomatoes.  Made lots of gravy for soaking the bread.  Garlic bread would be lovely.

Did not want to use tomato puree from the can as I was feeling guilty.  I just read again that its not too safe to use canned ones. Went to the shop to buy a large glass bottle of tomato puree which I can also use to make my chicken pilau.  Added button mushrooms but forgot to add a little celery which  would be tasty and extra nutritious. Anyway it turned out well and we enjoyed it with bread. Thick canned tomato paste would make the dish seem  more tastier.

I just realised that I only paid RM9 for the piece of chick beef but today I paid RM14 for beef of almost the same weight.  Mmmm RM5 more  for the same dish.  Plus vegetables etc my stew costed around RM20.  The good news is it can serve 4 persons whereas  a beef pie that is so very tiny cannot even satisfy a child and it costs around RM5.50 without any salad. That means I would have to order 2 tiny pies and an extra salad .  So we still save and have better food at home.  But who wants to cook all the time?  Not me.

Simple Nutritious Chicken soup

Chicken soup was the usual style. with lots of onions. some tomato, potato, carrots and Tientsin cabbage (the long light green leafy Chinese  cabbage)  Its  extra sweet when cooked in soup. Just throw in a few chicken pieces , simmer for at least 2 hours on very  low flame and its done. You can also use this as a stock base for cooking noodles, other soups or place some in the crock pot to make some all day broth.  It can be so concentrated and delicious and ready anytime.  Will post more later.

We love fried rice

We all love fried rice.   For lunch I made very quick fried rice with lots of garlic, onion, crispy prawn sambal,  chicken and frozen mixed veggies. I only had half a bowl of rice while my son finished 2 whole plates. Just  serve with lettuce.

I normally love basic Yang Chow fried rice with scrambled egg but the prawn sambal was calling me today so we had spicy rice instead.  Can't have too much of that as its really fiery and spicy. 

I do not mind cooking a quick meal as its better than eating out all the time.  It gets boring sometimes as we do not have the time nor mood to go hunting for a nice place to eat, its warm outside, hard to find parking and the worst is its really costly.  A simple fried rice dish with no nutrients would cost at least RM5.50 to RM12.  And often its oily and  they may also use inferior quality oils and hastily washed vegetables etc. We may get a really nice plate with fried crackers and salad if we pay more.  Well, I would not want to pay more when its a quick half hour lunch.   

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Human relationship with animals and compassion

Writing at midnight

I feel like writing when my mind is free. But at that stage I am ready to fall asleep any moment. Right now I'm squinting my eyes as I try to write very quickly, trying to beat the submission of sleep ordained by Allah SWT.

We all have to submit to Allah

No matter how strong or powerful a person is, he has to submit to Allah's rule throughout his life. He may not realise it. Man falls sick, he becomes tired, sleep overcomes him. It is a sign of involuntary submission but sometimes his arrogance does not allow him to realise it.

How small we are and yet how great we feel sometimes. All of us are guilty of this kind o f feeling once a while, more often than we want to admit.

Losing a loved one

It may be our family, a friend and even a much beloved pet. We may grieve in different ways but we hurt. And there is a deep sense of regret sometimes, wishing we did more. Or had more knowledge how to deal with emotional and physical stress.

Taqdir Allah

It is taqdir Allah and yet it was hard to lose someone or something we love and appreciate Everything belongs to Allah and He is the Owner of all living and inanimate.

Loving Unconditionally

I have lost many pets through the years. They may not have the same status of human beings but many pet lovers would agree that they understand us and love us unconditionally. Actually they sometimes treat us better than some human beings who only know how to take and talk.

Animals are sensitive and know and see things we do not and cannot. They have feelings just like us. They grieve too and can exhibit happiness, excitement, fear, suspicion , even anxiety and irritation. We can learn so much from them. :)

Lessons in Life

Perhaps it is through these creatures that Allah teach us how to live our lives. How to cope with responsibilities, with disappointment, with commitments and caring for the needy. The loss of pets and animals teach us how to face death and loss of loved ones. There is a cut and a scar whenever a beloved pet dies and my heart cried for this new friend, full of innocence.

Are we grateful?

Do we appreciate the time given to us by Allah? Do we appreciate our friends and families while they are here with us? Do we take them for granted and feel grief and regret only when they finally leave us? Do not expect them to be around all the time. we do not know when the Angel of Death will give us a final visit. Do we desire to make peace with our friends and our family?

People who forget others have feelings too

I know of people who have nothing good to say about their friends and siblings. They say everyone treats them badly and do not appreciate what was given or done for them. Perhaps they have to think why everyone dislike them. Do not think about what good we did to them Did we do them any harm or did we hurt them in the past? Will they ever forgive us or would they curse us further at our grave?

Make Peace

Make peace with people. Do our part if they continue to be upset for whatever reason, at least we have tried to resolve the matter sincerely. To please Allah and to be humble as a Muslim.

I will talk about the rabbit next. I have to rest now or else I will be too tired to make chicken porridge tomorrow. A morning class to attend and a committee meeting in the afternoon. Hopefully time to do infra red sauna in the evening. A good way to relax and detox at the same time.
Assalamu Alaikum my dear friends,

Alhamdulillah! Just like all of you, I had been a little busy with some extra commitments. Besides trying to fulfil some responsibilities in Biro Agama of Amaed, I have to fulfil some commitments in my other dawah and revert ngos. Everyone should join an ngo to serve the community and the nation. We may not be doing big projects but everything starts from grassroots.

Let the big guys with big ambitions and dreams tackle the challenges at the top. I do not desire for lofty positions because with position comes great responsibility and accountability. I think I will do better at a slower pace and concentrate what I feel I can cope with. Something that I am interested in and enjoy . There are challenges at every level so we too have different kinds of obstacles and hurdles. We cannot evade that, it will come after us.

We keep communications open to people under our scope of care. Even if they do not join our activities, they will keep in touch with us when they need advice, counseling, help or financial help. We cannot help them in everything but even a sympathetic ear is vital when people are heading towards a nervous breakdown or suffering from deep depression. They may notice the signs but just cannot pull themselves out of it. that is when mutual support is important.

Never be a loner as man cannot exist alone. Have your own jemaah or congregation, your gathering of friends and choose them well. Be with people who are pious and knowledgeable. We can learn much from them and they are an inspiration to us. Be kind to the needy and ignorant and guide them if you can. Know your own limits and do not be overwhelmed by people who want a piece of us all the time. We cannot serve Allah SWT well if we ourselves are not focused.

I am sharing this because sometimes we are so involved in our work and projects that we do not know when to say No. We have to take care of ourselves too. When we breakdown, who will look after the ones who depend on us? Our body has rights over us and we need to rest and consume food that is good and permisable to nourish body and mind. Halal and tayyibah.

I'm thinking of this as I was on the line with a revert who was on the verge of a breakdown. She was speaking faster and faster, louder and at a higher pitch. If she did not calm down, she could just give up and sink into another depression. People with mental, emotional and financial problems are so overwhelmed that they sometimes cannot think straight.

When we feel everything is just too much, we need to talk to a trusted person. At least release the tension and let someone share his view on how to deal with the matter. Today there was also news about a new revert who had to return to India to see his parents. He got into some problem with the customs because the agent tore out a few pages from his passport. He is quite illiterate and found himself in trouble.

Today is his court case and they fined him RM2000 or one year's jail. I feel so sorry for him. All he wanted was to look for a job, earning halal income to support his family. I cannot find that kind of money to solve his problem. There are so many others over here asking for help weekly, as if on a rotating wheel, turning and turning endlessly.

He cannot even write though I had spoken to him over the phone. His parents must think he is quite hopeless as he had to use all the money he sent home to sort out some of his legal problems. The illiterate are often exploited and literally thrown to the dogs .

Let us count our blessings. I may not have much and I too seek Allah's rezk to survive and support my family. They have to do even much more. May Allah SWT have Mercy on all of us and guide us. Ameen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Some food photos

Chilled symphony of dragonffruit and mangoes frozen, partly thawed and then whizzed in the food processor. I added some softened dates for extra taste and nutrition. Cold Appetiser.

Defrosted some thick vegetarian dhall which I made the other day. I packed them into small plastic bags and thawed them in the morning.

Beef stew, kidney bean salad, just olive oil, lemon, onion, capsicum, salt and pepper. Anything you like and have in your fridge.

Mapo Tofu, one of our favourite dishes. We always ordered medium size Mapo whenever we ate at Muhibbah's. By far the best is found there. Other restaurants do not do it exactly the way we like it. I take the short cut these days by buying the mapo sauce paste from Lee Kum Kee or some other halal brand.

Just brown lots of garlic, add finely chopped or sliced beef or lamb. Stir well and add about 4 teaspoons or more of the hot sauce. Now add in a box of soft tofu, cut up. You can also add some chopped spring onions, some sliced ginger or a little cornflour or tapioca starch flour dissolved in some water for the gravy.The amount is up to us though it can be a little salty if we add too much.

Mealtime can be very quick and simple. We have toast when we have no time to cook rice. Really fast meal.

Shepard or Cottage pie, served separately but in same dish. I put long beans in the rice before cooking it. Trying to have a more nutritional meal. :)
Pine nuts blended roughly with fresh Italian basil leaves and olive oil, cheese. Very filling snack. Toast the pine nuts before using. If we do not have them, try walnuts or almonds with spinach.
A little feta cheese crumbled on top would be tasty.

Tasty Pumpkin Soup - we had to hide the large pot of soup. Sometimes it goes on the table to keep it really hot. The curry was from the shop as I had lunch there

Apple Crumble

Unfortunately we did not get to taste the apple crumble. Made it in a hurry for Doctor M whose son was preparing for his medical exam and was craving for apple crumble. See the greatness of a mother's love? She had to spend time tutoring him so she asked me to cook so that he could have both tution and pie. Masha Allah. No wonder her children are top scorers and pious kids.

Some random food photos from my kitchen

Just a small selection of food photos. What Malaysians like to have for their dinner :) or at least in my humble home, where cooking does not have to be a chore but an interesting and inviting prelude to a nice relaxing meal at the end of the day.

Eat early and stop eating before you are full

Been advised to have dinner before 7 pm so that the food can digest with our activities and not go to bed with a heavy load. Eat only 1/3 full, fill the other 1/3 with water and leave the other 1/3 of our stomach empty. Sounds like very great advice, after all it is the sunnah, the tradition of our beloved Prophet saw. (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him)

Soup saves the day

I try to make soup at least once or twice a week. Normally sufficient for 2 days so that I can just add some vegetables or meat to stretch the meal. I prefer to spend less time in the kitchen. We can be productive without being a slave to the kitchen. Just plan our meals and be adaptable. Use up the favourite leftovers and be creative.

Enjoy Family time at mealtimes

Try not to eat alone. We seldom enjoy our food even if we ate at the finest restaurant. There is so much barakah or blessings when we share our meals. Good to ask someone to our home to share our food. The problem is of course we need to have enough time to cook enough and also give people time to plan their schedule. Not everyone can drop their work and say yes to us.

Be thankful for our nourishment

Let mealtimes be a pleasure, a time to be with family and to get nourishment with thanks to our Creator. Be thankful for our food as our friends and neighbours in other parts of the world are starving and suffering. May Allah SWT protect us and forgive our weaknesses.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quick Delicious Mee Curry

What? This curry is made from a package? Kidding us?

Its true, the tasty bowl of bihun or rice noodle/vermicelli curry in front of each of us happened to come out from a package.

Well not exactly the whole bowl but the spices, onion and chili paste, seasonings are all magically packed by Tean's , a local food company.

I would not say it tasted as fantastic as what mom used to make but it is good enough. Alhamdulillah.

It can be made even better if we took the time to add all the right ingredients like blanched beansprouts, mustard green veggies, dried friend tofu pok, fish paste bean curd sheets, parang fish balls, fresh medium soft bean curds etc. Well, I happened to buy all that specially for my curry.

Forgot to get some mint leaves, limes, kerang or cockles and fresh ripe pineapple.

So stress free, just add water, seasoning and some chicken pieces. Bring to boil, simmer to cook chicken till tender. Add in one pack freshly squeezed coconut cream. The frozen ones do not taste as good.

Add the bean curd and tofu and cook till soft. Finally just before serving, add the fish balls and tofu.

I blanched some wantan noodles and some bihun. Filled the bowl with noodles, topped with the soup and ingredients and viola! Dinner is served! Sprinkle some fried shallots and some sliced red chilles for extra kick.

One packet rempah/spices makes enough soup for 5 to 6 people. Tean's curry seasoning costs only around RM5 a packet, really value for money and really a time saver.

Latest Drinks Interest

Chilled Liquid Symphony of Fruits

Yes, I had been slicing fresh succulent fruits and freezing them for blending. I am too busy to attempt making some sherbet, trying to make some without egg white or sugar.

The next best delicious alternative is to blend tasty coloured fruits for a very cold fruit symphony.

Today I served blended partially thawed red dragonfruit, little dates, banana and some mango. Just add a few small ice cubes and whizz it up for an instant tasty delight. I sweeten my fruits with presoaked dates, figs or just honey. Molasses sugar is a good alternative.

Sometimes I would only blend mango and some dates. The red dragon fruit makes it rich and attractive. I even threw in an apple the other day, just to use up all the left over fruits. No more wastage from now on. Alhamdulillah. Used to feel guilty for throwing away over ripe fruits because I could not find time to eat them.

Serve it in a tall glass, or ice cream cup with some extra slivers of fruits.

We have it before our meal as a delicious starter. Do not leave it for too long as the enzymes will be destroyed. Other good fruits are kiwi, papaya, stawberries, blue berries, passion fruit and pineapple. So many possibilities. Just do what you like and what is available.

Buy ripe fruits in season, peel, cut and freeze them. Thaw partly to blend as you may overtax your blender. I used a commercial power blender and it whizzes up everything in seconds.

If you serve it in a shallow dish, serve it in different colours, be carefully not to mix them up. It will look like a symphony of different liquid gems rich and inviting - and good enough to eat.

Good as a sauce over vanilla ice cream too. Or maybe use as a base for milk shake or drizzle over a light sponge slice or dilute it as a fruit cordial.

Try it, its healthy and yummy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beef Stew with Salad

What to cook?

I try to alternate the ingredients. Maybe chicken one night and then chicken leftovers the next. I prefer to have bread for lunch. I take the opportunity to eat out if I'm doing errands around lunch time.

Then perhaps some beef or just go vegetarian for 2 days. I also freeze part of my meals so that I can just get something out of the freezer and thaw it for the evening.

If we feel like having something special we eat out. But it is more relaxing to eat at home and we save a lot of time and money. No need to change, to drive , find parking, walk to the shops and be caught in the traffic jam. And we can have better quality of food if we cook our own meals.
No recycled oil, for one thing. Who knows where the oil came from. Do they separate between halal and non halal recycled oil? How do we control this trend?

I bought some lean chuck beef from the supermarket. It looked fairly lean with a little marbling. Costed only RM9.00, more than enough for 2 persons as part of a meal.

Fillet may be alright but it is costly and not necessary unless its for stir fries, like black pepper steak or beef friend with ginger and spring onions.

I do not like solid tough beef which is hard to chew unless its been boiled for a long time. And I do not like to boil meat for over an hour, wasting gas and electricity unnecessarily. I like to save on fuel. It is also toxic to use gas for hours, the air is actually permeated with gas though you would think its being consumed by the fire. Anyway, this is what I did :

Quick and Tasty Beef Stew

Chuck Beef, cut into small cubes

2 medium onions - sliced thickly
1 medium carrot - sliced
2 medium potatoes
1 can of sliced mushrooms(optional)
1 - 2 tsp of tomato paste (or 1 ripe tomato)
1 tsp of L & P Worcesterchire sauce (optional)
enough water to cover the meat and potatoes and onions

Do not add any salt until meat is already tender.

Just bring the water to boil and then lower the heat. Cover the pot and cook
at medium low heat for at least half a hour.

Add in the rest of the carrots and a small celery stalk, sliced (opt)

Do not add the mushrooms until later.

When meat is soft it is ready and thicken gravy with
1 tablespoon of flour, mixed in a little water.
Add 1/2 tsp of rock salt, some pepper and some paprika if desired.
Did not even add any spices or herbs. Maybe a bay leaf is good.

Turn up the heat to cook the flour solution. Once its thickened, turn off fire
and its ready!

Serve with salad, soup and bread.
Good with crusty bread or French garlic bread.

Fresh mushrooms can be used instead
This is once dish where you do not have to do any frying. Just put everything
into the cooking pot and cover it. Check on it after half and hour to see
if you need to add any extra water.

Canned Mixed bean salad

For variety and speed, just open a can of kidney beans, a can of garbanzo beans and a can of navy beans. Any mixture is fine. Rinse the beans well and drain.

Place mixed beans in a large bowl. Add some chopped onions, a bit of garlic, chopped chillies and some coriander leaves. Any combination is fine. Squeeze fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Good to serve with some steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets. Make a lemon butter sauce by heating some butter and squeezing some lemon juice over butter, season. Add some cheese to make it a buttery cheezy sauce. Anything goes.

This is not a recipe blog

Yet I blog about cooking and sometimes simple recipes

Many people are so busy daily. I take my own situation as an example. After working or running around doing errands or attending to some other matters, I do not have much time to think about what to prepare for dinner.

I only cook for 2 people. Easy enough. Many sisters have to cook for their whole family, husband and wife, children, maybe kids, or even in laws. Just imagine, having to do marketing and wash, cut, cook and serve 5 to 8 people daily, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week! All year round!

Wow! What a lot of pahala or rewards from Allah SWT. But also what a lot of responsibilities and work! Its fine if we have some time for cooking but working women put in the same hours as the men but they have to come home to serve the family at the end of the day.

Some husbands do help by taking care of the children and maybe help by laying the table or washing the pots, pans and dishes. That is an ideal situation, a dream for some people. More often than not the man comes home tired and just sits in front of the television.

Insha Allah this does not happen in a practising Muslim home. I know many brothers who are knowledgeable and are kind and loving to their wives.

Anyway, I share my recipes in the hope it can ease the work of some sisters who want good food for their family without slaving too much in the kitchen. And without spending too much because we can eat well if we have an idea about planning our meals. Not in a rigid way but be adaptable and use up the leftovers in a creative way. Have fun when we cook.

Some people enjoy learning some new dishes for their family. Every home has its own specialities so it is good to share. We do not lose anything but insha Allah get some good and sincere duaa from our sisters who tell me they enjoy my recipes. Alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sharing Food with Friends

Cooking for Friends

One of life's pleasures, sharing at the dinner table.

Today my friend Farah visited me to return some cooking trays and my heavy European metal 4 tier cake stand. she had kindly kept them for me when I was moving house. Sis Farah always cooked healthy meals for me whenever I visited her. Today I though I should at least make the effort of cooking her a simple healthy lunch.

Winter Melon Soup, My Usual Soup

I already had some left over winter melon soup with dates and wolfberries which was made the day before. It was simmered for a long time and was light but flavourful.

This time I added extra water, some chicken and shredded wood ear fungus. I threw in some fish paste in beancurd skin for variety That was easy. Its also nice with some finely julienned carrot and onions. Just a pinch of salt and pepper to give it some extra flavour. Try to avoid stock cubes unless necessary.

What Soups Do I Like to Make?

Farah asked me what soups do I normally make. Usually the really quick and simple ones that need only simmering, no need to check on them. Like Old Cucumber soup, Lotus root soup, ABC potato chicken soup, Watercress Chicken soup, Mushroom veggie soup, Winter melon soup and Spinach soup. I also like to make Pumpkin Cream soup but its a lot of work peeling the pumpkin. But its economical, makes quite a lot and we enjoy it for 2 days. Best thing is it is really tasty and nutritious! Really satisfying comfort foods.

What are your favourites family dishes? Every family has its own signature dishes. Our best childhood memories always include eating together at the dinner table. Alhamdulilah.

Quick Stir Fry

I then hurriedly cut some fresh mushrooms, capsicums and carrots, onions, cabbage and Japanese green peas and stir fried them with some olive oil , garlic and a dash of sesame oil, pepper and rock salt .

We had a nice simple lunch with parboiled rice. Alhamdulillah! All Praise to God for His blessings.

Icy Cold Blended Fruit Drink

She was in a hurry and I forgot to make some ice blended mango and red dragon fruit juice. Can be sweetened with sweet fruits or honey. Molasses sugar is also an alternative or gula melaka or palm sugar. Its really refreshing when ice cold though its actually not too healthy to swallow icy cold drinks. That may solidify all the oils and fats lurking in our bodies. Hot green , flower or herbal would be better but sometimes the afternoons are so very warm.

Our Favourite Mapo Tofu for Dinner Last Night

These days I always make double boxes of soft tofu. Its too much trouble cooking just one tofu and sometimes its not enough if we did not have an extra meat dish. I do add some chopped chicken or lamb when I brown the garlic. For convenience, I simply buy some mapo tofu chilli paste from the shops. Just add extra seasonings to suit our taste. We can also make our own.

We love the dish but the sodium content is quite high. We need to drink more water and reduce our salt intake the next few days. At least remember to use sea, rock or mountain salt. No processed table salt for us.

Pan Fried Chicken Fillet

I also made some pan fried chicken fillet, cut in cubes. That way it will cook more evenly. Its great for eating with rice and veggies or diced and mixed into fried rice or even served on skewers with cucumber, pineapple, tomato and soft fruits like mango and orange. Fusion fruity chicken sticks. MMmm can make that for my next dinner party.

Dinner Tonight

Tonight Sara wanted to visit me unexpectedly. I asked her to join us for dinner as it was near maghrib already. Just simple food as usual. Even more simple as I was out half the day doing some errands and came home in the jam around 5.30 p.m. Already drizzling and I was feeling so sleepy as I had another late night.

Store Roasted Chicken

It would have been just store bought roast chicken with fresh salad and bread from the supermarket.. Sometimes the chicken can be so juicy and tender. Other times they are hard and dry like leather. I bought lemon and herb chicken but actually there was no taste of lemon or herb at all.

I thought of serving it with mayonnaise, bread and kidney bean salad. I was still sleepy but now that I invited a guest, I had to make a bit more effort.

Egg Drop Soup

Made egg drop veggie soup. That was nice and hot. Also whipped up some lemon honey olive oil dressing for the salad and kidney beans. Its some kind of vinaigrette but I did not add any mustard. Ran out of it and I do not use it often. Trying to be frugal. Even veggies are getting so costly!

Mustard Chicken Wings

Actually deep fried marinated chicken wings with mustard, salt, pepper and some soy sauce can be quite delicious. Learnt it from my friend whose mother used to operate a Szechuan Restaurant. No chicken wings so did not cook any. I am also too lazy to deep fry food. Have to clean up the place after that. Too messy and not so healthy but tasty. Most of us however do enjoy some fried food.

Durian Cake Dessert

Served some store bought durian cake. It was quite tender but I am more used to home baking. Maybe that would be my next cake as a treat when I have time to bake it. Durian cake is rather fussy to make, having to remove the durian flesh from the seeds and also to whip the dairy cream to make the filling. Farah was just mentioning about learning how to make choux pastry and cream puffs with durian cream filling. Yummm but so sinfully rich and decadent. Quickly... gimme some already!!!

Belgian and German Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chips

I served some chocolates of the healthy kind. 53% cocoa butter chocolate chips and some dark chocolate discs. These are not confectionery and do not contain milk or additives. Only pure cocoa butter which is highly anti oxidant and good for skin and nutritious and delicious. Also less sugar so insha Allah healthier to eat and enjoy.l They come in 200gm packs for only RM18 to RM20.

Quite delectable and I am already addicted to them. Will try to upload some photos. Waiting for my son to transfer the photos from the camera. He is asleep already.

I still feel so fresh, must have been the new coffee I bought today. White coffee. Must try to sleep.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shepard's Pie in a hurry

Feel like having pie.

Buy the freshly ground beef or lamb as there will be less fat and gristle. When we opt for the frozen rolls that are less than half the cost, we get half the quality. I do use the frozen stuff once a while when there is nothing available but best to choose good mince as we do not know what is minced together with the beef.

A friend who worked in a famous fast food chain while in Australia said the burgers were advertised as 100 percent beef. Yeah, 100 percent beef plus a lot of fillers like stuff you cannot imagine. They are not lying, just not telling you everything.

Quick and Simple Mince Beef

I decided to cook some simple minced beef with lots of onions and a bit of garlic. Just brown it and add the mince. Add a little grated ginger (I bought a bottle of minced ginger and keep it in the fridge). Add some finely diced potatoes, green peas and throw in some frozen mixed veggies if you like.

If mince is too fatty, brown the meat and pour out some of the fats. Then cook with olive oil. That way I get my ration of olive oil and less fats.

Careful to Check the Ingredients

Remember its fine to add L & P Worcestershire sauce but do not use HP Sauce or Tabasco. Jakim announced that they are not halal.

And be careful what you are served in some steak houses and food court stalls as many are still using HP sauce and Tabasco as condiment and marinades. They even put the world halal on the bottle but it also states a dubious ingredient.

The same goes for cheese. Many people think its fine to eat cheese as its made from milk.
Be sure to check the ingredients as some parmesan cheese and hard cheeses are made with rennet, from the stomach lining of the goat or cow etc. If the animal is not halal, the rennet is not halal. Some supermarkets mix all the cheeses and confuse the customers.

The same for Japanese food. Some staff tell us their restaurants use unagi or eel that has been marinated with sake or other ingredients. We do not know what some of them put in the rice or miso soup. Some hotel coffeehouses use liquor in the black forest cakes, tiramisu, fruit cakes etc. Just make sure the food is safe.


I did not have bay leaf but just added some pepper. Fresh ground black pepper would be nice too. A pinch of chilli powder or some cumin or fennel is ok if you like it to be more like keema. Add water and let everything simmer to soften. When ready, thicken it with some flour or cornstarch. The flavour should come from the meat itself.

For a more Chinese variation, skip the spices and add a little quality soya and oyster sauce. Anything you fancy actually so long you do not mix too many flavours together.

Mashed Potatoes

After that I boiled around 5 potatoes, drained and let it cool till warm enough to hold. This is the best time to peel as the skin will fall of, paper thin, leaving some nutrients behind. Make sure you cut away the green toxic areas.

Mash the potatoes while warm and season with lots of pepper, some a tablespoon or two of butter and around half to a cup of fresh milk. Do not pour in the whole lot, just add and mix till its the right consistency. You can use a little olive oil instead of butter and omit the milk. Or mix in some cheese while it is warm.

Either cover the mince completely with the mashed potatoes and grate some cheese over it or leave it separate. Grill the cheese to make it look more delicious.


Will post photo later. As you noticed, our very plain and simple photos take only 5 minutes to shoot as we are always in a hurry to have dinner and I will tell my son "Oh, how about take a photo of the food?". He has to get the camera and shoot before the food gets cold.... And we are too lazy to use nice crockery or cutlery as its just 2 of us unless we have guests. We do use our Nyonya ware daily but its a little painful when I happen to see a small chip on a bowl. The dinner plates are too heavy and we have to spend more time taking care during washing up.

Serving Pots and Pans

You will be amazed to know the number of people who serve their soups and curries in their large cooking pots. We only get that privilege to find out if we are treated as a family member and they let us see how they live. I appreciate that.

My friends also get the pots and pans treatment once a while. Smile. One reason is we want the food to be kept piping hot and also we know everyone is going to have seconds. Also of course, less dishes and bowls to wash and clean up. Lazy lazy....

Chye Choi Vegetarian Dish a Must for CNY

Tomorrow I plan to cook some melon squash and chicken soup, some Chinese vegetarian dish with wood ears fungus, soohun, bean curd, mushrooms, veggies, tauchu and fermented bean curd. This needs to be simmered for a long time.

Missing Mom's Great Cooking

I was missing my mom's cooking this new year. She used to prepare and cook for 3 days for the reunion dinner. Then we would have to eat all the balance for the next two days. Usually we did not mind as she would cook all the delicacies and special treats for cny.

Allah please bless Sis and her family

A dear revert sister invited us for a home cooked lunch and I of course could not resist that. Alhamdulillah! Her mom cooked us some splendid dishes and that was really a satisfying treat. May Allah bless and reward her. I managed to get my chye choi , curry, lotus soup and soya fried sengkuang this year after all.

Budgeting for a Feast

The Chinese spend a lot on seafood and delicacies like abalone, fish, prawns, herbs and special ingredients. As food prices increased through the years, we learnt to reduce our spending by choosing wisely. We started buying and freezing the seafood a few weeks before prices shoot up just before the festival. Such a silly and treacherous tradition to fleece the people.

I plan to throw in more Chinese shitake mushroom, fresh mushrooms and maybe some red dates. Add the soohun later or it will expand and become too soft. We can also deep fry the soohun and sprinkle it over the chye choi before serving. Served with chili and a bit of belacan and onions, fried to a fragrant paste.

Chye Choi is the traditional Chinese New Year vegetarian dish that almost every Chinese home will cook for new year morning. Just be careful to check the ingredients for the red fermented bean curd aka nam yee as some have wine inside.

Traditional CNY Lunch at Grandparents' Home

Every year since we were children the cook in my late grandparents's home always served chye choi with fried ground nuts as well. Hot rice, steamed chicken, fried sengkuang with cuttlefish strips, lettuce sometimes fresh popia, Loh Hon Chye and lotus root soup with red beans.

My mom would cook and bring large prawns, cooked in dark soya sauce or har lok, with some spring onions and lots of garlic, slight caramelised. She would also bring her Nyonya chicken curry and loh hon chye as well as cold jelly chicken in soya and sometimes our other left over dishes to share with my uncles and aunts. Always a warm and happy time, ang pows being exchanged and our course we collected a lot until we got married.

No Brandies or Beer in our Family

I think many Chinese homes would be serving a similar menu simultaneously.We were not a drinking or gambling family. There were some bottles of VSOP and stuff like that in one of the long glass cabinets. They were usually gifts from visitors etc and nobody cared to drink any.

In every of our family homes we only served soft drinks, black local coffee and Chinese tea. We used to enjoy talking and catching up and just lazing around eating kua chi, oranges, prawn crackers and groundnuts. Munching all the way...Its strange that many peo0ple expect Chinese to gamble and enjoy all the vices during festivals. Not true at all!

I will probably write more about CNY celebrations later on. This entry is too long already. Smile.

I miss my grandparents. Without them the family became sort of disintegrated. All the uncles and aunties and their families stopped seeing each other. There was no more family ancestral home to visit, no elderly folks to pay respect to.

Miss them much... my kindly grandpa and my very patient and kind grandmother. Also my step grandmother who passed away earlier on. She treated us well when we were kids. (Yes, they all lived under the same roof. Must have been very challenging for everyone.) I may share something about them one day...And the cook from China named Ah Ngan (Silver) and housekeeper Mary Henrietta.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Do Men have to Dress Decently too?

What Image do we want to project?

Look pleasant and dignified. Look elegant and look smart. Enjoy what we wear and be confident that it reflects the right image of a Muslim. Its much better than to wear some unsuitable outfit that seems to be calling everyone to look at the wearer in a negative manner. This applies to our brothers as well.

Men take care of your own families first

Some men like to comment on how women dress. Please let the womenfolk handle that. Brothers better look at their own families and advise their children . They can advise their brothers who dress indecently in shorts. Look at those who go to work in tight shirts tucked into tight trousers. Not a very decent sight , especially for the overweight. Men and women need to dress modestly. That would be beautiful. Why not give lectures and write more pamphlets about how men should behave and dress?

Men need to be modest too

There are many men still wearing shorts that are similar to underwear and they run around playing football or badminton. Look at our body builders and swimmers. They do not cover their aurah but looks like its alright for men to go around half naked. If we love our brothers, then please advise and help them obey Allah SWT. Is that acceptable as Muslims?

It is not about finding fault or blaming others. It is about helping each other to behave in a way that pleases Allah SWT. Isn't pleasing Allah a good thing?

It benefits everyone, so be happy to be reminded or corrected. Just take care not to do it harshly or humiliate someone. That is not the Muslim intention. Our Prophet Muhammad saw was best in speech so let us follow his sunnah. Do it with the right intention, always wanting to please Allah SWT. Alhamdulillah.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chinese New Year Gatherings

CNY Dawah Open House Program

Went to 2 events today. The first one was organised by my working committee, Macma Selangor in a joint venture with 2 other local ngos, Ikram and Hidayah Center. Over 600 people from all walks of life turned up to enjoy the day with us.

The menu was Chinese Muslim food and we enjoyed the fried bihun, mapo tofu, fried mixed veggies, friend fish and veg, curry chicken and fried prawns. Lots of oranges, Chinese tea and rezeki draws were carried out.

My son won a prize again, just as he won one at the rezeki draw in Kuala Trengganu Darul Fitrah charity lunch event. At that event in KT ,3 members out of 10 at our table won hampers. It was a wonderful surprise to have our numbers called out. Alhamdulillah.

Lion Dance

After several short speeches by the different representatives, we had a colourful and noisy lion dance performance to entertain the guests and members. There were 2 smaller versions of the lions, one yellow and the other green.

Today I learnt that the lion dance members who consist of teenagers and young men were training regularly all year round for the yearly performances. Though the charges were high, around a minimum of around RM650 per performance, I learnt that most of the income would be donated to charities. In a way it is a good thing.

Healthy Youth Activity

I suggested that we should train our own youth members to learn the art of lion dance or some form of Islamic cheerleading performance. It is a healthy active physical activity that can be carried out all year round. We can also invite them to perform at Muslim events. The money we spend on the engagements will benefit our own community and let the youth earn some extra income.

It will insha Allah be a shirk free performance and we can customise it to suit Islamic requirements. We do not know what rituals some people had to go through to ensure a good performance. It is the belief and superstition of some non Muslims to maybe perform some ritual but if we train Muslims to perform, we can be assured it will be just pure cultural entertainment which can serve as a dawah instrument. Not yet Muslims will realise that embracing Islam does not necessarily losing their own cultural identity. Far from it.

Muslims can continue to enjoy their culture and heritage so long it does not contradict Muslim tenets. We can carry on with activities we used to enjoy within our own communities and enjoy the best of both worlds, insha Allah (God willing).

Mini CNY Open House at Br Firdaus's Home

In the late afternoon we visited a friend's house. Many of our revert brothers and sisters and children, parents were there. It was a sort of mini CNY open house gathering. Everyone brought something to share. We ate and solat jemaah together. It was a warm gathering.

It was quite a mini feast, pizza, fried bihun, curry chicken, green tea and red bean cream cake, curry puffs, ice cream and quesadillas. The host provided the drinks, fried halal luncheon meat, oranges, chocolates and halal malted drinks etc .

The children were the ones who had a really great time, from toddlers to little babies. They played, laughed and cried. They are so forgiving that they would not stay upset with anyone for more than a few minutes. Subhanallah!Thanks to those who distributed ang pows generously.

All of them including unmarried young people were given red envelopes of money as presents, commonly known as ang pows, or red packets.

Fried Noodles

Fried Yellow Noodles

I seldom cook with yellow noodles, even if the manufacturer claims it is free from any additives or preservatives. There is no nutritional value in the mee itself as it is made of mainly white processed flour and lots of oil etc.

However, once a while, I may succumb to a sudden craving of fried noodles. I like to just stir fry it with lots of browned garlic, prawns, some meat or chicken, fresh mushrooms, sawi or mustard greens and some blended chillies, ginger etc.

Use either chicken stock or just water to soften the noodles and serve with fried shallots, fresh coriander and spring onions, cut chillies and perhaps a small lime.

We can cook rice vermicelli or bihun in the same manner except we have to presoak the bihun to soften it. It would take ages to soften f we tried to fry it directly. Add lots of bean sprouts, kucai and any other vegetables you fancy.

A nice touch would be to fry a thin egg omelette, roll it up like a tiny swiss roll and slice it finely into tiny strips. scatter it over the noodels with los of friend garlic, sliced red chillies and greens.

Cooking is so flexible and there are no hard and fast rules about what you can or cannot do.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daily Bread Daily Rice

Eat to Live, not Live to Eat!

Shukr Alhamdulillah! Thank you Lord for giving us our daily rice.... well Asians especially do actually eat a lot of rice. Some dishes just taste better with rice, don't you agree?

So Little Time

I was so caught up with some work that I totally disregarded the fact that it was almost dinnertime. The chicken has thawed but lying lifelessly (how else?) near the kitchen sink. Mmmm... too lazy to go out just for a quick bite. I did not really like the idea of changing, driving all the way out just to have a quick meal. And eating out aimlessly costs money but yields no pleasure as we may end up eating stale cold food that was reheated throughout the day. Not to mention the msg and recycled oil.

Eating Out is Great at the right time and right place and better still, at the right price!

I do enjoy eating out but not when we want to quickly eat and go home to finish our work and wrap up for the day. Okay, I decided to go for my trusty oyster sauce soya mushroom stew again. Its a family favourite and fairly quick to prepare. And its nutritious, without any added oil except some natural chicken fat sticking to some parts of the chicken thighs.

Soon everything was simmering in the large stainless steel pot upon my atmosfera, my trusty AMC induction cooker. I follow no recipe so I have to adjust the taste as it cooks.


large stainless steel AMC cooking pot
(I use this for quick flavourful cooking -
energy saving and keeps food hot at the dining table)

water just enough to cover ingredients
Put in the following ingredients and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to simmer 20 minutes. Cover.

2 chicken thighs and 1 boneless breast
or half a large chicken, cut up
remove part of the skin to reduce fats
2 medium large onions- chopped
2 pips garlic- chopped
10 medium sized shitake mushrooms (dry) - remove stalks
2 tablespoons quality dark soya sauce (colour to your liking)

Add the following 20 minutes later
(to prevent vegetables from becoming too soft)
few sprigs of coriander, cut up
3 potatoes, cut in halves
2 large carrots, sliced diagonally

Seasoning :

1- 1/2 to 2 tsp salt or less
half tsp molasses sugar or plain sugar (optional)
1/2 to 1 tsp sesame oil
2 to 3 tablespoon premium oyster sauce (optional)
white pepper, black pepper
1 star anise

Quick nutritious dinner served with steamed broccoli and parboiled rice.We did enjoy the food as it was fresh and hot. Alhamdulillah! I do not cook too well but it will suffice.

Glad we ate in. We had enough left over for another meal, probably just needs a salad or stir fry with prawns and baby corn and some assorted vegetable. Its good to serve colourful food as they contain different nutrients.

Finally, some Photos!

We were so focused on eating that we forgot to take some photos. Had to stop halfway to take a few quick shots.

Actually I did not take photos of the past recipes so may have to do that the next time I cook prawn sambal and mushroom soup and fried rice etc. Now I have to write about few dishes we did photograph last week.

Still have not bought a better camera. Let me learn how to use one first. Heh Heh!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chinese New Year and Superstitions

Missing this blog lately

Missing my blog lately. Its more convenient to write a few lines in FB whereas it takes a little more effort to write in our blog. Weather's been haywire, hot like right now and yet it may just rain cats and dogs in half an hour. Whatever it may be, Alhamdulillah! Just imagine having no rain at all for a whole month! Or raining non stop until the roads are flooded and houses washed away!

Reminder of Allah's Power

Such is the power of Allah SWT. He does not need to show us anything else. Just by sending winds and rain or drought, we can witness a tiny fraction of His immense Power. Lands dry and arid, crops may fail if the balance of rain and sunshine is affected. animals, insects, plants die as a result, upsetting ecological balance.

Just imagine having no clean water or no electricity and worse, no food at all. Things we have been taking for granted.

Its all Over!

Chinese New Year has come and gone. To many of us its just another day, another tradition. A way of remembering our roots, remembering the richness of culture of our forefathers. In a positive way, the warmness of love in the family, caring and paying our yearly respects to our elders.

As Muslims we do not care for the many superstitions and traditions that have negative effects in the society. Like not being able to wear black clothing on so called auspicious days like new years, birthdays, weddings etc.

Silly Shirk Traditions of the Past

I remember a silly though symbolic tradition where we were not allowed to sweep the floor on new year's day - all the luck may be swept out of the home! And I just heard of another equally funny tradition, one I never heard of before - people roll mandarin oranges into the front door to symbolise gold rolling into the home. Silly because in that case everyone will be filthy rich after a few boxes of mandarin oranges hve been rolled in. No wonder I never heard of it. Even superstitious people must have found it questionable.

Do not Believe in Superstitions

There will not be any poor or needy if all the superstitions were true .All the rich will become poor and the poor will become rich if they were to believe or disbelieve and suffer the so called consequences. Does not make any sense. Does it?

All rezeqi (wealth and blessings) comes from Allah SWT. We just continue to make effort to improve our livelihood and leave the rest to Him. If we get more, Alhamdulillah. Muslims do not envy the wealth of others. Each one will have his share decided by Allah.

Wish others well instead of being envious. If we want more, work harder and work smarter. Go for it!

Be Moderate

Its better to lead a moderate life and spend time to enrich our spiritual life. Be balanced and make time to care for our family and the needy. Care for ourselves by seeking beneficial knowledge and sharing that knowledge.

I am amazed at many people who attend all sorts of religious classes yet do not bother to share what they learn with others. Accumulating knowledge and not sharing it is something frowned upon in Islam. We are encouraged to share and help others become aware of their own religion.

Of course when we try to share there may others who cannot accept it. We do not claim to know everything. We are commanded by Allah to share what we know and to help to spread good tidings of Islam. Those with the right intention will benefit.

Everything is a Test for Us

Some soothsayers, fortune tellers and bomohs may tell you something of the future because they may get some help from evil jinns. These jinns do not know everything but they can tell half truths and so help to lead people astray. Some bomohs may be good liars and good obsevers of human character. He may simply tell you want you want to hear.

Muslims have to beware of this and remember we are not to meddle in the matters of the unseen. It is a grave test for us. Anyway none knows the future because only Allah knows best.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Simply Sharing

Why Do I Write?

I am no high flying writer or celebrity. Just the person next door who loves to express some thoughts now and then. Just sharing and learning from others. My friends inspire me. Especially the writers. Sisters Zu, Jamilah and Hajar - keep on inspiring us, okay?

Why do I write? Perhaps its just a way of sitting down and thinking about life from my own point of view, of how some things are, how it should be, could be, to lead a good and happy Muslim life.

The Beauty of Sharing

I prefer to make it simple, no high and lofty interpretations and deep academic research. Islam is made for every man in the street, the man sitting in the director's chair in a posh office, the woman sleeping on a luxurious 20 inch mattress in a 20 room mansion and also the dusty road sweeper down the street. Even the blind, even the deaf. Allah is Merciful.

I am Just an Ordinary Person

I'm just an ordinary person, living an extraordinary life. I am different from many hundreds of millions of people in the world. I am one of the chosen ones. Chosen by Allah and given the invitation to be Muslim. I accepted this gracious and generous offer and I am grateful to my Lord.

Allah is Merciful

Allahu Akbar. He gave me something of the greatest value. Ask many of my revert friends "What is the best thing that happened to you in your life?" They will all give you the same answer "I was given the chance to become Muslim. Islam is the best thing in my life".

Allah is the One who Guides. We can only share

With this wonderful feeling, we strive to share this beautiful message to our friends and relatives. It is an invitation to Jannah! Who wants to go to Paradise? Who wants their loved ones to go to Paradise? If only they would give themselves a chance to find out whether we are telling them the truth or not. If only they will give themselves the chance.

Helping Ourselves when We Help Others

We cannot make them accept or believe. Only Allah SWT can do that. Let us just do our job by sharing Islam in any way you can. We are helping ourselves when we help others.

Do Cats and Dogs go to work?

When will our next meal come along?

The backstreet cats are always alert! Their tiny pointed ears are ever alert to detect the back door opening, or any sound of the shaking of a biscuit box. Ah hah! Someone is coming to feed us. They spring up and run very quickly towards us as we put some food onto the dish in the back yard.

Can Cats and Dogs go to Work?

These innocent cats cannot go to work or find food on their own. When they are hungry they try pouncing on miserable lizards and cockroaches. They often go hungry. When they help themselves to a fish or a tiny piece of chicken its because they are very hungry, in pain perhaps.
Do not get upset if they decide to share your dinner. We are supposed to share our food with them anyway.

Actually I just remembered that people in the circus do make the cats and dogs work. However, just like monkeys, they will only get peanuts while their efforts bring home the bread and butter to their masters and trainers. I actually avoid circuses for this reason.

Kindness in Islam

Islam encourages kindness to all living things and we have to take good care of our environment as well. So feeding the helpless and homeless animals are part of our duties. Even dogs and all anomals if they are hungry though we try to avoid having the whole pack of strays gather in front or our home daily in the hope for food.

In my area there are others who feed them and they gather there most times. They travel in packs (more for their own safety as humans try to harm them sometimes out of fear or ignorance). Its sad to see their condition but we also need to avoid harm to ourselves and our neighbours.

Humans need to Strive for Survival too!

When I look at these cats scurrying and scampering all over the backlane in search of a living, I see humans are not much different after all. We too are busy each day, trying to improve our standards of living, to find ways to earn a little more, to put food on the table, to pay the bills.

We are no different from animals who strive daily for a living. We can make all sorts of plans but nothing can succeed without Allah SWT's permission. Whether we succeed or not, life is a trial.

Man vs Animal

The only difference is we are given the intelligence and faculties to think and reason. Animals are given their fitrah, their natural instinct. They all know who their Lord is. Humans may not. Even if they knew, some still reject out of indifference, apathy, past disillusionment, ego or personal weaknesses.

Never Give Up!

Only weak people give up. They give up searching for the truth and just want to live their short worldly lives in blissful ignorance. Maybe some had searched long and hard, been there, done that and yet still could not find the truth. Many stop short of Islam because they never dreamt that the truth can be so close and yet so very far away. Its their own choice.

We must remove all self ego and preconceived ideas before we can seek sincerely. We have to seek earnestly and most humbly. Are people busy seeking worldly gains and losing out on their spirituality?

Make the Right Choice

We have the choice of religion - we can choose our own way of life. We can choose to believe or not to believe. Once we declare we believe, the choice is final. No turning back and the next step is to strive to submit.

It can be a beautiful journey when we strive to seek beneficial knowledge and are sincere to improve ourselves. Its not always easy, but we can manage if we give each other mutual encouragement and support.

Get a Life- a Real One

We do not mean to let your hair down and go out and do all the things you always wanted to do, without caring for the consequences. It means to really live well as a human being, not be part of the human jungle. Live a dignified and honourable life as kalifah of Allah. A caretaker of this world.

God is One

Let us help people to live a good life. Share the word so they can be revived and help each other on the journey to Jannah (paradise). Many people are not conscious that God is One. Allah is One, the First and the Last, the Everlasting.

Islam is the Middle Way of Life

Non Believers do not realise their search for god will lead them to Allah if they are sincere and want to seek the truth. Many are returning to the straight path but still many more remain in a maze, losing themselves in worldly pursuits.We need a balanced lifestyle. Islam is the middle way.

It is not wrong to seek relaxation and entertainment if it is in the form that is accepted in Islam. Allah SWT does not place that many restrictions on us but we have to be careful not to take too much advantage on His Kindness and Generosity. We must choose only what is halal and tayyib.

Halal and Tayyib

What is halal may not be tayyib. (What is allowed may not be good for us) Everything should be in its proper place for us to lead a happy and productive life. Just imagine sugar, salt, grass, carbonated drinks and fried fish crackers . All these items are halal. Not considered impure or toxic . However if we were to consume any one of the items in excessive quantity, surely our health and even mental faculties will be affected adversely.

Halal to Eat or Smoke Grass

Grass is halal - so is it aright to eat it? Some people even try to smell and inhale some grass and weeds - of the dangerous and addictive kinds. Halal in its natural form unless we understand its dangerous nature.

Be Sincere to Ourselves

Similarly, in seeking entertainment we need to be moderate and be sincere. Do not stretch the limits and say it is alright to do certain things because there are some small examples that it was done in history. We have to look at the occasion, the age, the place where it took place, many small things that make it halal or makruh. There are many schools of thought, do not choose what fits your desires but desire to fit what is best for you.

Not always easy to draw the line

Let us be sincere in whatever we do. Not always easy to draw a line but we have to just keep on striving. And admit our own weaknesses. I try not to judge but I feel sad when I see people do not really know how to love themselves but following vain desires. Sometimes they cannot even see the wood for the trees and they do not want to listen. They know if they really stopped to reflect, they may have to give up many things they love to do. We all have been through this so we know it is their trial. I wish them well.

Take Time to Reflect

As I write and I reflect on my own mistakes and weaknesses. Its good to write as it gives us some space to reflect and be more realistic. Sometimes we try to achieve so much and try to please so many people that we end up depriving ourselves of precious time to reflect to save ourselves. May Allah help us improve and keep us strong.

Adventure of a Disgraced Baker and her Disastrous Chocolate Cake

Bakers are Only Human

Friends and customers always expect their bakers to produce perfect cakes everytime, all year round. They do not know we do have our fair share of disasters, especially on busy days or when we are not really in the mood to bake. One has to be emotionally attuned to the work. It is akin to a work of art, trying to produce something that is pleasing and pleasurable to the people tasting the cakes and cookies. Not easy sometimes.

Moist Chocolate Cake that never was

Had potluck on Saturday and made a chocolate cake that did not behave well. Partly my own fault as I was in a great hurry to finish all my few engagement cake orders and poor chocolate cake had to be made at the last minute! When butter is not softened to the right temperature it may not bind well with the eggs. When the batter is not well incorporated everything may separate while baking in the oven. My poor cake was rather dense at the bottom and also really dry and beyond much help.

Foolishly fulfilling my promise

Anyway, I did promise cake so the cake had to go to the potluck, at least beautifully made up with tasty frosting. Boy, were they in for a surprise! I was really apologetic about it but wanted to practise humility. Yeah, to admit that I too have my share of baking disasters (smile).

Kindness and Good Manners of Muslims with Knowledge

Actually it was really quite sad but people were very kind. They took a slice, tasted it, swallowed and continued to chew it all up quite. No raving about how delicious it should have been. My fallen pride was somewhat reduced when 2 latecomers bounded in, perhaps very hungry.

Disappointment reduced- some people actually did not mind!

I noticed they attacked the dessert first. I waited in apprehension to see their surprised reactions. Oh! They seemed quite oblivious to the fact that they were eating something rather dry and tough. And to my delight, the young man ended having around 3 large pieces! He actually enjoyed it. (You have to, to consume that much). I was very grateful to him for saving my day.

Hurray! the whole cake was finally consumed, much to my relief though I did feel bad to 'torture' my dear brothers and sisters with my act of love.

One Man's Meat is Another Man's Poison

Hah! Now I understand when they say 'one man's meat is another man's poison'. I only thought it applied to people enjoying and consuming haram food ( forbidden in Islam) because what is delicious and good to some of them is actually very in fact very unhealthy and impure to the Muslims.

May Allah SWT guide us all and protect us from consuming impure food that becomes part of our bodies. Amiin.