Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Eeeek! I have to write a speech in a week!

I have a speech at a conference in one week and I am nowhere near done. They assigned me the topic of maintaining faith despite failure. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and not believe they consider me an expert in the topic of failure. >:/

I’ve spoke about disability and special needs awareness many, many times in many, many places. I could probably do that in my sleep if I don’t already do, but failure and frustration is a little new to me. It’s intimidating because it’s… real. It’s me.

And now, it’s writer’s block. I have piles of thoughts, jumbled into complex, tangled tangents that I somehow need to straighten out and line up neatly. Except pain and fear and failure aren’t neat- and explaining to how to survive in spite of them isn’t simple. Worst of all- I can’t explain anything without referring to my self as the point of reference for what’s I’m talking about.

Yes, I know I blog and I end up talking about myself more or less all of the time. This feels different though, more risky because it’s in real life, and my kids will be sitting in the audience. I don’t know where to start, or how to proceed in way that resonated with the audience without in some way confusing or scaring my kids.

But I have to try. Make dua for me. I need it.


Human beings are complicated.  In the last year of my life, I’ve observed more of them close-up, and in-depth for longer periods of time than usual. How? By volunteering on a committee. 

I’ve learned that people who like to complain about things are usually less interested in solutions than they are in their own importance.

I’ve learned that people who are silent often have too much to say about things, and not knowing where to begin- will instead say nothing.

I’ve learned that people who talk too much can sometimes have the least to offer. Sometimes, they’re seeking, but they aren’t sure what questions to ask. So they ramble. I’ve learned to listen for questions that aren’t asked. 

I’ve learned that perfectionism is a disease that causes people to shoot down the ideas of others – not maliciously – but from the overpowering concern that they’re not good enough. Consequently, no solutions pass muster. 

I’ve learned that grownups never really grow up. They just grow bigger, and the same weird things kids do, grownups just do more tactfully. 

I’ve learned that there are silent, generous, unassuming pillars of entire communities who drive used cars and donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable causes without a fuss for recognition.

I’ve learned there are squeaky, un-greased wheels who donate a hundred dollars and think that makes them the CEO of the world.

Humans are complicated. May Allah forgive me for being one too. 

I’m freeeeee!

So Alhamdulillah, the long story of why my wrist hurt and typing became torture is summed up as thus:

I had torn cartilage in my wrist – not because I was out fist-fighting or getting injured in air-guitar championships, but because I have a connective tissue disorder and therefore wear, tear, and constant repair is the name of the long-term game.

I will kind of always be broken, and I have come to accept that even if I don’t love it. At all.

So I finally had surgery on my wrist this Aug 23rd, and they fixed the torn cartilage with stitches and then put me in a cast up to my bicep for six weeks.  I used to think casts were cool and I always wanted one. Boy, was I wrong.

Not only was having my arm in a cast a constant source of pain, it also caused my arm to atrophy. I am told this is expected with immobilization. And then I go whaaaaaaaaa? because it doesn’t make all that much sense to me, fixing one problem by creating one and a half.

So my hand is in rehab, and the rest of me plays along. It is painful, learning how to re-use my left hand, asking things of my fingers whose flexor and extensor tendons seized up and shrunk weeks ago. My physiotherapist says ok, now make a fist! So my brain politely asks of my hand, fist? And my left hand says IN YOUR DREAMS BUDDY and the most I can manage is some sort of hard, small, claw-like posture.

We call it my monkey-hand. The kids and I, we know that my monkey hand’s not going to be making fists or high-fives any time in the next nine months or so, so we give my hand time and space.

My awesome little humans, Khalid, Iman, and Musfira- have grown to be so helpful, so considerate, and so independent that it breaks my heart, them taking care of me versus me of them. But it’s a happy sort of heartbreak I suppose. You always want your kids to learn empathy and compassion- though not necessary ON you, as FROM you.

I digress. Shaykh Abdul Naser Jandga made an awesome point in the last class of his I attended, and he said this:

Think of spiritual rehabilitation like your would physical rehabilitation. It will never feel good. It will always be hard work. You can go three times a week, 8 weeks straight and still take no joy – but at some point you’ll find that you can use your body again properly.

It’s the same with your soul- going through the motions of prayer – of your spiritual rehabilitation – will hurt, and it will be hard, and you may never find any joy in it. But you find, after some time, that your heart works properly again.

He’s right, physiotherapy is painful and awful but it’s pain with a purpose that I’m totally on board with. Already my monkey-hand can do more typing – two months post-surgery- than my old left hand could do in many years, Alhamdulillah.

May Allah make it easy for everyone putting in the pain to make things work properly again. Ameen.


Of all the conversations I’ve had with my children about prayer, the reason we don’t say “Ameen” in Batman voice has been the most unexpected so far.

Khalid has a dream

Khalid rather causally informed me that he once a had dream that he was the illegitimate heir of both Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

And I’m not sure what’s funnier, the biological impossibility or Khalid’s usage of the exact phrase “illegitimate heir” in describing it. And this from a kid who wasn’t promised to talk at all. Ha! SubhanAllah

Hey, remember when I used to blog?

It was awesome. I loved it. I could just post stuff whenever I wanted to, and it served as an emotional catharsis, a spiritual brain-sorting, and a writerly exercise all in one.

I want to restart. Not because I don’t have enough stuff that needs done, but because I am – according to HF – trying to fill an emptiness with empty things. I find that the more I do socially, especially in the capacity of volunteering my time, the more drained I feel.

And that makes perfect sense, the more you drive the car, the more gas it needs, right? But when the kids go to bed (OMG Khalid is 12 now!) and the dishwasher is loaded and running, I feel like I only have enough brain power to play (minecraft) or watch (cartoons) but not enough to think or create or produce anything of value.

I am allowed to challenge my own assumptions though. I have given myself permission. 😉

I am going to try to write instead of game or watch stuff at the end of a long day. Because you can’t fill emptiness with more empty. And consuming digital entertainment is spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally empty, even if it is lots of fun.

Are you my daughter-in-law?

Screenshot 2017-01-18 10.59.05

A young woman with Down’s Syndrome (who has been baking for a long ole time already) gets rejected from too many bakery jobs. So she opens her own bakery.

This video made me cry for so many reasons. I’m scared of what my son’s future will hold. I know that him being rejected over and over and over again is not a possibility, it’s a given because he has autism.

We’ve been taking the rejections for him and until now they’ve always been from schools. Who rejects a child from a KG or a Hifz program? Lots of people, apparently. It’s a given because he has autism.

A time will come when we can no longer protect him from rejection. Already he struggles with school and with friends. Soon he will struggle with employment and – this hurts my heart most – loneliness.

My son will want to get married. He’s barely 11, but he’s already told my husband and I as much. And why shouldn’t he? He’s kind, he adores babies, he’s super-intelligent, and would make an affectionate, doting husband and father. A time will come when he will work the courage up to ask some sweet young girl to spend her life with him- and he will be rejected because he has autism.

Not because he will be too mean, or too uneducated, or too poor, or too ugly, or too anything at all- even if he is financially supported and gainfully employed, and surrounded by a family and safety net that any young married couple would be grateful to have, no- he will be rejected because he has autism.

I would like to believe that somewhere out there, there is a little girl currently growing up into the woman who will be my son’s partner, protector, and friend. I want to believe that she’s the bubbly, confident, and to-hell-with-the-rest-of-yall type when it comes to what’s cool and what’s not. She can see the system well enough to buck it and marry a young man who has so much going for him even though the whole system may be against him.

Wherever you are sweetheart, may Allah introduce us soon.

Well, that escalated quickly…

When I dropped my children off to school this morning one of their little friends, who is six and in first grade, ran out of line to ask me a question.

“Hey! Iman’s mom!”

“Yes dear?” I answered.

“Are you leaving the United States of America?”

I blinked a few times. I must’ve blinked a few more. She asked again. “Are you leaving? Like, leaving the country?”

“Not, ummm…”

“Not now you mean?” she offered helpfully, “You mean like maybe you’re leaving in a month or so?”

My brain was forced into a gear not typical for 8am on a school morning. It went from 0-60, starting at He Can’t Do That and zooming towards People Thought Hitler Couldn’t Either.

I thought about the way people stare at my eight year old when she wears her favorite hijab, the pink one with the cat ears. I thought about the cashier who reminded me that I was in America, as if I could have possibly forgotten what country I was from or currently in.

I thought about my son, whose classmates tried to call him “Kevin” because Khalid, a name with two syllables and larger-than-life social media star to front it, was “too hard” to say.

I don’t know, to be honest, where my future will be. I had been living abroad for sixteen years before this previous one, and I was happy with the expat life. I came back for the same reason that many move here for in the first place- for opportunity. I have a child with special needs whose future depends on the kind of education and treatment not currently available where I was living. All three of my children have a rare disease whose specialists are concentrated in a handful of countries, and unsurprisingly, America is one of them. I turned back to our little friend.

“No dear. We’re here.”

She grinned and ran off the join her class, mingling with the rest of the six year olds sharing pencils and fears of deportation.

For now, we’re here.

Emotional Brickmail #seewhatIdidthere

If I threw a brick through your window could I tell you it was an amanah?

Could I tape a little note to it that says “This brick is a sacred trust and by accepting this brick into your window you are now accountable, in the sight of Allah, for delivering this brick through the window of all your friends?”

brokenwindowRemember, an amanah is serious business, and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that Allah has said:

“There are three people whom I shall be their opponent on the Day of Judgment: A man who was given something in My Name and then betrays; A man who sells-off a free man (as a slave) and consumes the price; and A man who hires a labourer, makes use of his service then does not give him his wages.” -Saheeh Al Bukhari

So if I lobbed a brick through your window in the name of Allah, and you betrayed the trust of putting it through all your friends’ windows, would you be making yourself an enemy of Allah?

It seems kind of silly and yet, how often have you seen this message:

A message from our sister; *name varies* from *location*. As Salaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatu Lahie Wa Barakaatoe . I make an oath with you people in front of Allah and I leave this as amanah with you until the day of judgement. If you opened this message and read it that you have to send it to all your contacts. I want you to make dua for me that Allah(SWT) gives me shafa (quick healing). I have stage 4 form of breast cancer and it’s spread to my bone and body now. I ask you in the name of Allah(SWT) don’t close this message before you have sent it to all your contacts because one day you will need dua and an oath (amanah) makes the mountains shake….Forward as Received..

This emotional brick gets tossed through a window on your computer and because it invokes the name of Allah himself, we say Ameen, and maybe even forward it just to be on the safe side.

Here’s the thing though- you can’t throw amanaat at people and run the other way. A person must actually MAKE a promise before they are held accountable for it in the sight of Allah.

Fear of Allah is a good thing. It keeps us honest and in case we are neglected our promises, the thought of standing exposed on Qiyama with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and the Inescapable Justice of Allah himself filling the horizon is a good thing.

It would be even better if the people who wrote these emails feared Allah too, because the implied threat in the message is that “If you ignore my prayers, Allah will ignore yours too.”

Speaking on Allah’s behalf without His permission is a grave offense.

Making threats on his behalf?

Much, much worse.

Next time someone throws this brick through your window – out of fear of Allah – kindly and gently hand it back to them.  Kindly inform them that they are not held to promises they never made and oaths invoked by people they never met. Mention as well that the mercy of Allah is limitless, and no one has the right to threaten or even imply that if you don’t do what they want you to, Allah won’t do what He promised to.

“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.”

Surah Al Baqarah ayah 186

Ilmfest and Ehlers-Danlos

Tafseriously? Pharoah was a jerk.

Haramalaikum: Bacon -vs- Bullying

Kids Ask: What’s the point of Jummah?

A few minutes before Jummah today, my son came and sat down next to me in a grumpy huff. “Momma, I just don’t understand…”

He furrowed his lil brow angrily and said, “What’s the point of Jummah!”

I told him I had the answer. But first, we needed candy…

Mister Flamey-Cheeks, Abu Lahab

You might know the *what* of Surah Lahab/Masad, but do you know the *why*?

Who was Abu Lahab, and why did he of all people get a Surah? And what’s up with his wife?

Learn this in the most non-scholarly of all explanations, the first of what shall henceforth be known as… Tafseriously? Yeah, tafseriously!

Surah Masad

I Love: False Dilemmas!

If they asked you what you wanted for Christmas and you said “OMG A LOGICAL FALLACY!” then this video is for you!  In which I explain why I love the False Dilemma and how people – and shaitaan too- attempt to trick you with it.


Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “Beware of sins which are treated as being minor, just like a people who encamp in the centre of a valley, so someone brings a stick of firewood and someone else brings a stick until they are, therefore, able to bake their bread. Likewise, sins which are treated as being minor, and for which the person is taken to account, will destroy him.”


Dreams from a first-world bubble

Human Mp3: How I quit music& learned Quran through mind-numbing commute time!

Once upon a time…Cockroach!

Dysautonomia and Me

Whether you want it or not, habibti. Cuz I didn’t want it but I got it anyway!



AssalamuAlaikum people who are still here and haven’t died of boredom yet! October is Dysautonomia awareness month, and my next vlog will be about … drumroll please… Dysautonomia.

So, any questions? Apart from “what the heck is that?” I’ll answer them InshaAllah as best as I can. 🙂

How’s Texas?

First Vlog: Headfirst into Imperfection

Following two months of zero update and almost a year of chronic hand pain, I’ve finally decided to start video blogging, even if the result is less than perfect. Perfection belongs to Allah alone. Yes, that is my excuse.

Cleaning House

So it’s crunch time. The house is being packed and sorted into a bazillion little piles, all bound in invisible string and tied directly to my heart.  Every time a little pile- Khalid’s first artworks, Iman’s first story, Musfira’s baby blanket- fails to make the packing priority list, it stings as it’s tugged and let loose.

Every thing sold has a history, good or bad. Some strings were tied too tightly, and feeling them snap and fall away feels like being able to breathe again.  Things I’ve wanted to burn are instead given away, things I wanted to keep forever in my hands will be left behind and then kept in my heart instead.

Growing up with a Mormon mother, I was taught to document, treasure, and save all these little piles of things and cherish them from one international move to another.  I have carried with me a drawing my little brother made me in 1994 as well as the first tooth that I lost since I first lost it.

But growing into a Muslim, I have come to understand that this frantic need to preserve every last scribble is futile for three reasons.

First of all, Allah has sent angels to record every word, thought, and moment in my life with nothing less than Divinely powered accuracy. They’re doing a much better job of recording my life than I ever could.

Second, I can’t take it with me. Nothing will go with me into my grave except for my good deeds.  Not even the doll my mother bought me when I was four.  That would be exceptionally creepy.

Third, Allah will take the universe- the entire vast and incomprehensibly big universe- into His right hand and roll it up like a scroll.  It’ll be done.  Khallas. Finished.  Destroyed.  Why do I need to preserve what the angels have documented and what Qadr will destroy? Why do I need to preserve that which was intended to be temporary?

I don’t. So I’m not.  The only exception to this is my poetry, and now that every dresser and drawer is being dumped out and aggressively sorted, random poems are coming out of the woodwork.  So I may be posted random poetry here and there as I find it.  And once it’s been typed, I will be throwing it in the garbage.

The End.

Elegant Mashups: Sword Song

So my brilliant writerly friends (who let me hang out with them sometimes) play a game in which we take two books, pick a sentence from each at random, and then attempt to connect the two in some semblance of sense.

It is a tremendously challenging exercise as a writer, all the more so when the skills-bar is raised so high.  We don’t know what it’s called, so I’m calling it an Elegant Mashup.


This week, we mashed Bernard Cornwell’s Sword Song, a historical fiction set in 9th and 10th century Britain- together with two Islamic books, Lost Islamic History and The Prophet’s Methods for Correcting Peoples Mistakes.

So without further ado, here are some of the results. The passages in bold are taken verbatim from the books selected, and everything in between is where the fun happens. 😀


First Blood

downloadBut as Islam fell in this western outpost, it was just starting to be revived in the East, where the Ottomans would reintroduce Islam to Europe and preside over a new golden age.

They would enter by invitation- as the locals knew long beforehand of their character, their honesty, and the desperately needed goods they brought. They were experienced merchants as well as men who feared their foreign God, even if they seemed to have no respect for ours.

At first, the Druids went nearly rabid trying to convince the townsmen to expel them, crying omens of darkness and the inevitable doom that the Turks would bring. We believed them, the same way we believed that tea leaves spoke truth and stars spoke for the dead, but our town was hungry. Our trade was dying. Our marketplace was empty, so we welcomed the Turks.

Gods, our gods, fell strangely silent when they came. The omens ceased and the ranting quieted, maybe because gods like a full belly and a pinch of salt too. Even gods need to eat I suppose.

But not all of the Turks feared their God, or our gods, or any God it seemed. One day a group of the Ottomans took up the very arms they had come to sell us, and blood was spilled on the newly cobbled road of the marketplace.

They fought one of our clansmen and took his home. They slew his sons, and from his daughters, they took liberties.

Sword_Song_coverThe rest of the merchants- the Ottoman strangers, took to arms up too- but against the rogue merchants. We stood with them, shoulder to shoulder, sword to sword and shield to shield, outside of the captured longhouse. I stood there too, with fire in my stomach and fear in my heart. Because Aethelflaed, sweet Aethelflaed, to whom I had made an oath, was a captive. 



The Freed Slave

Sword_Song_cover“How else can they send a messenger to the dead?” Ethelwold asked. His palms were damp but he could hide them. Just as he could hide the knots in his stomach. Ethelwold was almost sure Jason couldn’t see the panic inside him. Almost.

“The dead are not a threat to us,” Jason said, not hiding the disdain in his voice. “It’s those fool slaves, the ones who cry by the river.”

Ethelwold’s stomach contracted in fear. He had brought them food yesterday, bread tied flat against his belly and chest. He had chosen the darkest part of the night, and they had been too weak to be overjoyed. But they had whispered their thanks.

In a moment of blinding certainty, Ethelwold had pulled the scarf away from his face. Who had he to fear? Only Allah. Now, standing across from Jason, he struggled to remember who his real Lord was.

downloadHadn’t he, a few weeks ago, snuck across the valley and stood watching them? “I’m part of you,” he had wanted to say. But he’d held his tongue, making himself content with what his heart felt.It was actually the finest spectacle ever witnessed of Muslims leaving their homes, praying, acclaiming Allah’s Name.



The Rightful Claim

41J94FHmOgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“Were people to be given according to their claims, some would claim the wealth and blood of others. But the burden of proof is upon the claimant, and the taking of an oath is upon the one who denies an allegation.”

The old man’s face, brown and thin, housed eyes so earnest that I couldn’t hold his gaze for long lest my own resolve falter. I nodded gravely. “Thank you Ustadh. Your forebearance is a lesson upon which to reflect.”

I turned to my men. Hungry and bare, hair matted and bared, their eyes glittered. I counted their faces. Still twenty remained.

Of them, how many could be counted on to hold a sword, to wield a knife? Yusuf, Moiz, Qamar… perhaps ten. Maybe fifteen of them whose limbs now crowded the ship’s stern would stay their ground in a fight.

Not enough to take the garrison, not if we went straight in. But if we split into two, and half the mean went in from above while half set fire to the ships?

My mind was made up. With all deference to the Ustadh, we would stake our claim.

Sword_Song_cover“Let’s go ashore,” I said, “And take a city.”

Because it was time to fight.





“There are two gates,” I said, “One leads directly into the old Roman fort, the other goes to the marketplace.”

I gestured towards the heavy oaken door bound with strips of steel hammered, no doubt, from the broken swords of fallen Turks. Iskandar gave no indication that he had seen my signal

In the darkness I shifted carefully, so that the sound of my armor would not betray our presence to the guards. I found Iskandar’s eyes, in the half shadow beneath his visor staring vacantly at the wall itself.

There, hanging no more than a cubit’s height from the ground, hung a man. Rather, it used to be a man. Now it man-shaped collection of desiccated flesh, clinging to bone bleached from the sun and sinews putrid from its heat.

In the gentle pre-dawn breeze, it creaked slowly back and forth on the rope that suspended it.

How strange, I thought, that they should have hung him in his armor. Armor was precious, and the Turkish craftsmanship was so far superior to our poor saxon vests that our bandits wore their pilfered armor without any modifications at all.

If they left this man’s armor on, it was because they wanted it seen.

The wind rose, and the body turned to face us. Even without eyes, his face was still recognizable. No other man had inspired so much respect in the village, or commanded so much admiration in its people.

It was Saeed. Saeed Abu Iskandar As-Saleh. Turning slowly in the breeze.

Iskandar roared, and the very air trembled with his fury. I remember, very clearly, the thin metallic scrape of his sword being pulled from its sheath. He leapt onto the low wall itself and began clawing his way up to the Saxon guards who stood dumbstruck at its top.

41J94FHmOgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The ignorant person needs to be taught, the one who has doubts needs to have things explained to him, the negligent one needs to be reminded. The one who willfully persists in error needs to be warned.


الوالي Al- Wali, The Protecting Friend

Ya Wali, as we move to a new country with new people, where we will find both new friends new enemies, please be the Protecting Friend of my children.

If my children face bullies, please protect their little hearts and bodies.

If my children face loneliness on the straight path,  let them know that the Lord Himself is with them even if no one else seems to be.

If my children cannot speak for themselves Allah, please do what the best of friends does, and speak on their behalf to protect their rights, dignities, and wellbeing.

Ya Wali, protect them from every form of abuse – physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, and psychological – and turn destructive influences away from them and them away from destructive influences.

When I no longer walk this world with them, and they find themselves without their biggest fan and first friend, Ya Wali- comfort them and replace me in their lives with the companionship of those you love.

Protect my children, my little friends and Yours, with the company of the righteous and those with yaqeen in their hearts. Let your loving friendship protect their innocence, Ya Wali, as you guide them on the smoothest, straightest, most peaceful path back to you.

Ameen, Ameen, Ameen.


Al-Wali, from The Virtual Mosque

Al WaliAnd so what does it mean for Allah (swt) to be al-Wali – the Protective Friend? It means that He has your back. He could have just been a ‘friend,’ but some friends are flaky.

He is the true Wali, demonstrating His closeness to you and His protectiveness of you. This beautiful verse encapsulates how Allah (swt) manifests this attribute in our lives:

“Allah is the wali of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light…” (Qur’an, 2:257)

30 Days, 30 Duas.

I have yet to, in my life, manage to post continuously for a thirty day stretch, but in the followup of an inspirational and much-needed pre-Ramadan meeting with my awesome circle of friends, I will now try.

How many of Allah’s names do you know? I’m testing myself here, no cheating.  Translations based on what I remember.  Here I go:

  1. Allah – God, with the Capital G
  2. Ar-Rahman – The Merciful
  3. Al-Latif – The Subtle
  4. Al-Man’3u- The Preventer of Harm
  5. Al-Khabeer – The Informed
  6. Al- Wadud – The Loving
  7. Ash-Shakoor – The Grateful (not sure how to translate this- Allah is gracious in His thanks?)
  8. Al-Jameel – The Beautiful
  9. Al-Mujeeb – The Answerer (of prayers)
  10. Al-Ghafoor – The Forgiving
  11. Al- Khaaliq – The Creator

Ok, I made it to 11 before trying to mentally pull up a dusty old record in my head from Ramadan in Pakistan as a child, many moons ago.  Given that there are 99 names of Allah, 11 is kind of…sad.  So my Ramadan goal for this blog is this: I will, InshaAllah, post one personal dua a day based on a name of Allah.  InshaAllah, by the end of Ramadan I should then know 30 of them, instead of 11.  InshaAllah. 🙂

Ramadan Craft: Ikea Fanoos

Lamps 4inSo in parts of the world other than America (where I grew up) there is a Ramadan tradition of lighting and decorating with Fanoos, or lamps.

In parts of the world, like America (where I grew up) there is a tradition of crafting things for no reason other than the fact that you can, yay!

So here is our Ramadan Fanoos How-To, especially useful if you happen to be living in parts of the world where they do sell flat-packed meatballs and Swedish furniture in gravy, but not Ramadan decorations.

You will need:

  • Ikea lanterns
  • Whatever nail polish your children haven’t painted their teeth with yet
  • Sparkly bits

Lamp bottom

You will then:

  • Exercise saintly levels of maternal patience while the children paint the tables, floors, hands, fingers, and glass windows of the lamps.
  • beforeRemember to cover the table, so start the craft over on a plastic sheet.


  • Tell children to paint the glass as many times as necessary to achieve desired opacity (or the lack thereof) as cheap nail polish can be frustratingly invisible when applied on glass.

You can use:

  • random sparkly bits and notions to jazz the lamps up. We used sequins and they stuck well enough on to the wet nail polish.
  • caution: The top part of the lamp will heat up once a candle is lit inside, we kinda regret using nail polish on the top section, as it smells.  We put crystals there too, and they melted. They’re not there anymore.
  • an electric tea-light instead of a real candle in case you don’t want to deal with heat or children burning themselves whenever they see they pretty fanoos and say ooooooooh!
  • Aaaaaah!
  • MashaAllah!
  • Ramadan Kareem. 🙂

Ramadan Fanoos

When Nineveh Met Taif: Gems from Ilmfest

NinevehBoxIt was a sad day in Ninevah. The Prophet Yunus, peace be upon him, was leaving.

Angry, frustrated, and unable to continue what felt like a hopeless endeavor, he boarded the first ship out of town, leaving his homeland behind. He had tried and tried and tried– but no matter how hard he argued or how sincerely he reasoned, they were unwilling to see that reason. And he couldn’t see himself staying there anymore, so he left.

The ship left the shore, and as it sailed towards the open sea his homeland grew smaller in the distance. He looked towards its shore and he could see the land, the trees, the sky above the place where he had been born and brought up. He could also see clouds- dark, angry rolling clouds gathering above. A storm was brewing.

He thought the storm would be unleashed on his people, but it turns out that the people of Nineveh did something unusual when they saw the wrath of God coming- they actually repented. And Allah forgave them.

Wow. I know, right? All those other times people saw the wrath of God coming and thought, “Wow, those are some ominous-looking clouds. I bet it’s going to be a lovely drizzle! It’s not like God’s angry at us or anything…” but the people of Nineveh got it right. So that storm never hit them. It hit Prophet Yunus alaihis-salam instead.

Back on the boat, there was chaos. The ocean waves had grown into rolling hills, and the ship scaled their heights before racing down their depths and into the danger of capsizing. People began throwing their belongings over- their life’s possessions, their wares, their financial investments in the future- to save the reality of their present. It wasn’t enough. That’s when they threw Yunus AS over instead.

Man, first his own people rejected him. Now the people on the boat chucked him into the monstrous waves of a Wrath-level storm. It couldn’t get any worse. Or maybe it did, because that’s when an enormous whale swallowed Yunus AS and swam straight to the bottom of the ocean.

Beneath the darkness of the storm lay the darkness of the water. Within the darkness of the water swam the darkness within the whale. And in the darkness of the whale, Yunus AS thought he was dead.

He lay unmoving, unseeing, unsure of what-if anything- was to come. Then, in silence of the darkness he heard a tiny sound. He listened closer and realized he was hearing the pebbles on the ocean floor. They were making tasbih.

That is when Yunus (AS) understood he was still alive. Grateful, ashamed, humbled – he began to turn his body. He squeezed and pushed against the crushing insides of the whale until he was lying on his stomach. Then he strained, he pulled, he fought until his knees were bent beneath him, and pulled his hands around to his face. There, in the belly of the whale, in the darkness within the darkness within the darkness- Yunus AS made sujood.

He prayed.

There is no God but you Allah, and truly I am from among those who have sinned.

There is no God but you Allah, and truly I am from among those who have sinned.

There is no God but you Allah, and truly I am from among those who have sinned.

He made this dua over and over again, and he kept repeated it until the whale began to swim upwards, rising from the ocean’s darkness to the shore’s light, where he spat Yunus onto the shore.

Sunlight seared Yunus’s raw, acid-burned skin. He screamed, and then turned that scream into prayer- GAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaathere is no God but you Allah, and truly I am from among those who have sinned. There is no God but you Allah, and truly I am from among those who have sinned.

He kept praying until the pain subsided and the skin healed, and to make a long story short- it turns out the people that Yunus AS ran away from were looking for him. They wanted him to teach them the faith that they had earlier rejected. And here is where Nineveh meets Taif.

When the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad ﷺ was ten years into his mission, he was hit with terrible loss. His wife Khadija RA- who had been best friend, his wife, his first believer and his first supporter- died. In the same year, his Uncle Abu Talib- who had been his protector and friend- also died. And not only did he die- he died without accepting Islam or becoming a Muslim.

In this state of grief, Muhammadﷺ had a big problem.

The chiefs of the Quraysh controlled who could live or stay in Makkah, and getting the chief’s stamp was kind of like getting a visa or a greencard. No visa? No residence. Abu Talib had been stamping Muhammad’s SAW proverbial visa to this point, but when he died, his brother stood next in line to head the tribe of Bani Hashim.

You know Abu Talib’s younger brother don’t you? Abdul Uzza- aka- your jolly old uncle Abu Lahab?

Abu Lahab was one of the Prophet’s ﷺ most hateful opponents. Despite being related by blood, he was viciously opposed to his nephew’s mission. His wife put thorns outside the Prophet’sﷺ  door, and Abu Lahab himself dumped camel guts there. Because when cursing, rejecting, and disowning your own family members isn’t enough, the next logical step is guts.

Having lost his wife, his uncle, and his ability to stay in his hometown, the Prophet ﷺ went to Taif to see if the people there would be receptive to the message of Islam.

Contrary to pop-seerah, he didn’t just walk in and then get pelted out with stones on the same day. He was there for two weeks- talking, reasoning, calling people to the beauty of Islam and instead facing the ugliness of rejection.

“What, you? A messenger?” people spat in his direction.

He faced spite, arrogance, and verbal abuse. Finally, he was forced to leave the city, and on his way out, the children of Taif pelted him with stones until he bled all the way into his sandals.

In physical pain and emotional anguish, the Messenger of Allah slumped down against a palm tree outside a home at the outskirts of Taif, and covered in blood- he began to cry.

The owners of the home looked out their window and took pity on him, sending out a servant with a plate of grapes. The Prophet ﷺ accepted the grapes and before eating said, “Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem.”

Curious, the slave asked Muhammad ﷺ what his name was. Muhammad ﷺ introduced himself and asked the slave what his name was.   The slave’s name was Addas.

The Prophet ﷺ asked where he was from, as Addas was not a local name. Addas said he was from Nineveh.

“Nineveh?” The Prophet remarked, “You are of the people of Yunus.”

“What would you know about Yunus?” Addas challenged, surprised that a bleeding Arab would have anything to say about his Christian homeland.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Yunus was a prophet, and I am a prophet, and the prophets are brothers.”

And there the story of Yunus intertwined with the story of Muhammad ﷺ, and Addas- a Christian slave- became the only person to embrace both the Prophet ﷺ and Islam in Taif that day.

And Allah is the Best of Planners.



I’ve got news and you get to decide which category you want to put it in.

See, if you live in Dubai, then you’ll consider that we’re moving to be bad news.  If you live in Dallas though, then you’ll think it’s pretty good news, because that’s where we’re headed InshaAllah.  It is official.  I am trading my yalla for a y’all, and that is news.

I am tentatively excited, reservedly optimistic, and trepidatiously wary of how green the grass on the other side of autism services will or won’t be. We’ve had an equal measure of people telling us that Texas is the worst place for autism services, or the best place for autism services, but it all boils down to this: Texas is a place where autism services in mainstream schools exists, and Dubai is not.

wild wadiSorry Dubai.  I really am.  Sorry for every date palm, every ladies-only beach, every niqab-friendly ice-cream bar, mall prayer room, and halal international chain restaurant I leave behind.  Goodbye five-star hotel buffet dates with husband, hello tuna sandwiches and veggie patties, and packing our own PB&J for the road.

Goodbye beautiful domed masajid on every corner, and the ability to travel without planning the entire day around where one can (and overwhelmingly can’t) do wudu in public and then pray in secret so people don’t freak out and call in the national guard.

Jumeirah_Grand_Mosque-Jumeirah_Mosque-3000000013365-500x375I’m not ‘Murica bashing, I promise.  But there is a certain effortlessness in practicing Islam in a country full of masjids, regardless of whether they stand within a block of a nightclub or not.  I can – and d0! – go everywhere in an abaya and I am appropriately dressed every single time.  At the beach, to a wedding, speaking in a conference or the board room- me and my abayas go everywhere without getting second glances or side-eye.  I will miss that.

Dubai is not perfect.  No place in the world is, but it is comfortable and safe, and for the last ten years it’s been our home.  I was married here.  My children were born here.  My parents and all but one sibling live here.  We have a happy slew of well-loved cousins who will be terribly missed.  I have a circle of friends who feed me, entertain my children and my neurosis while reminding me of Allah every time we meet over coffee, lunch, and more coffee.  It is a beautiful bond, and one not easily replaced.

I started my first company here and found my voice and my professional confidence in a culture where the way I dress has never been an issue.  I have stood side-by-side with women in pencil skirts, stilettos, and fascinators  and not felt any bit of self-consciousness or otherness.

The most fascinating thing about fascinators is that women choose to wear them.  Seriously.

The most fascinating thing about fascinators is that women choose to wear them. Seriously.

Where I once shied away from public scrutiny, I learned here how to stand in the limelight and own it, from the bottom of my sneakers to the top of my sheila.

I will miss Dubai, but I am going to Dallas willingly because somewhere in the great, wide world of IEPs and Special Education services, we’re looking for whatever it is that Khalid needs to grow as a functional, independent little man.  Dallas may not be our place in this world, but we’re going there so Khalid can, InshaAllah, find his.

So swap my basboosa for a brisket and call me Texan.  We’ve got 13 weeks left in the UAE and we’re packing, sorting, and selling off whatever doesn’t fit into our luggage allowance.


April is autism awareness month!

Alhamdulillah, very excited to be on the GreedforIlm podcast for World Autism Day talking social stigma in the Muslim community and spiritual coping for special needs parents. 🙂

Screenshot 2015-03-30 00.35.37

Insert Angst Here

Certain blog posts are composed entirely of angst. This will be one of them.

And now, in alphabetical order, I present to you the causes of my angst.

Arthritis: My everything hurts. But it stopped hurting when I started meds for the arthritis. But then I was having nightmares every night, and going to sleep at night became a source of angst. So then my Dr. changed my meds, and the nightmares stopped but all the pain came back. I followed up with doc, and she said that if my pain isn’t responding to this medicine then it might not even be from arthritis, so now I’m confused (and also, in pain) because if it’s not arthritis then why did everything stop hurting with the last medicine?

Autism: Khalid’s doing amazingly on an academic level, but his social skills are stuck in KG mode. I take him to play and he ends up being by himself regardless of the number of children there, because other nine year olds don’t speak his play language. He gets along best with five year olds. They still play trains and dinosaurs and simple cause & effect games.

Blogging: I feel guilty about neglecting my blog, like properly remorseful. And yet, between the pain involved with writing and the pain of my subject matter, I’m really having a hard time. I’m stressed, so I’m going to end up writing about stress. I don’t want to though, I’m not here to bring myself or other people down. I know that people will find whatever they’re looking for, and I refuse to look for pain. Pain seems to be looking for me though.

EDS: My neck got stuck again a few days ago, and I couldn’t find my phone, husband was out of the country, and the kids needed a blue million things but all they got was peanut butter & jelly. Eventually I found my phone and ordered in fried chicken, Alhamdulillah. Took some painkillers and slathered myself in voltaren gel. Am still stiff but at least I can move my neck. This whole EDS thing is getting more irritating as time passes, even my wrists creak & grind now.

Fever: I had one of those for the last two days. I went to bed at 7:30 pm yesterday, and was up and down all night with bad dreams, drenched in sweat, and disoriented. I’m hoping tonight will be better. HF got home today after being away for a week, and managing the kids and work without him is never a walk in the park.

Finances: So we’re thinking of moving to the US so we can find better help for Khalid, but money makes the world go round. Admittedly, we don’t have all that much. Alhamdulillah, Allah has blessed us with more than most people- that we have a room over our heads and food every day is more than even half the world’s population can claim, but relocating the whole family, setting up a new home, and me being unable to work a full-time job due to health is worrying me.

Hamster: Marty died last week or so. She passed away peacefully in her sleep. The girls buried her in a flower pot in the backyard and put a little marker on her grave and while they seem to be over it, every time I look out the kitchen window and see her resting place it makes me sad again. I don’t actually know if Hamsters go to Jannah, heh.

Husband: Oops! I’ve been caught out of bed. Time to be a grownup and stop blogging in the dark.

Look, an update!

Hey, we’re blogging again!  See? I hope you like minecraft, because we sure do.



It’s raining, it’s pouring- the engines are roaring!

On the roads of Dubai, the cars try to fly

Then they slip and they slide into crawling.

So I’m getting ready to leave for my morning meetings, but I’m doing so by staring at Google Maps and trying to figure out whether traffic is getting better or worse. It’s 8:30 am right now and morning commute traffic should be starting to dissipate, but it looks like it’s coagulating instead. Because rain.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 8.31.01 AMYes, rain.

Not a storm, not a flood, just… rain. And not because the roads are flooding (come on, that’s Sharjah) but because people haven’t got the mental spare change to slow down and drive sensibly when the roads are slippery.

Expats of Dubai: We got more dollars than sense.

Some people like to blame the A-rabs of A-rabia and say that the miskeen desert dwellers do better on dunes than raindrops, but the population of the UAE is only 18% local Emirati.  Everyone else comes from places where not only does it rain- it also rains a lot.

Hydroplaning, shmydroplaning.

Hydroplaning, shmydroplaning beta.

The US, UK, Bangladesh, India, Philippines- none of the drivers from any of these countries have an excuse for the traffic chaos that a light sprinkle causes all the way across town.  Come on- even Pakistan has a monsoon season and not only are Desi drivers accustomed to driving in torrential rains, we know how to float our tiny Altos and Mehrans through flooded gallis like tin gondolas through a knock-off of Venice.

Even as a child I remember my father floating a Bolan through two feet of water in Azizabad, Karachi and having a great time.  We do rain.

But for some reason, Dubai doesn’t.  I don’t have an explanation for it, but I do have fifteen more minutes to watch the road, and if it’s not clearing up, I’m leaving for my nearby meeting sixty minutes early rather than fifteen.

Because you know, rain?



MashaAllah, Musfira.

So MashaAllah, Musfira is getting taller, cheekier, and slightly wiser every day.  She has taken to gently correcting me and educating me throughout my day, sharing the wisdom of her many years – all three and a half of them – and the result is so adorably awesome that I almost hate disagreeing with her.

We prefer our gween the-matoes fried, actually.

We prefer our gween the-matoes fried, actually.

We went grocery shopping the other day, Musfira shared this timeless gardening tip:

Musfira: Momma, did you know, when the matoes are gween that means they not wipe.

Momma: That’s right, very good!

Musfira: And whena cucumbuzz ah owange, that means they cawwots.

If we're worshipping furniture then this must be the world's holiest ottoman.

If we’re worshipping furniture then this must be the world’s holiest ottoman.

And while standing for prayer, Musfira turned my prayer rug to a different qibla.

Musfira: Here Momma, this izza wight way.

Me: Sweetheart, qibla is this way.

Musfira: You need to pway to the sofa, Momma.

Me: We actually pray toward the Ka’ba dear, in Makkah?

Musfira: Do we? Hmm!

She’s shared lots of wisdom, but half I’ve forgotten and the half has been unprintable as it is usually shared on the toilet, and is usually shared in relation to her bottom. (Apparently your bottom is a pretty funny place when you’re three and a half.)

That’s it for now, I’ve been taking anti-inflammatory meds for my arthritis for three months now, and have been feeling much better overall.  I’ll try to update more often, InshaAllah. 🙂


There’s this thing in writing where you just make yourself write non-stop for a certain amount of time without the pressure of a desired outcome of the expectation of making any sense.  I call it blogging. 😉

So I’m going to be on the radio tomorrow. You can listen here at 10am GMT + 4. It’s not my first radio interview, but it is my first time being in a recording studio with fancy button and knobs and levers.  There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening at work – in parallel to the not so exciting stuff – and some of it involves paperwork and stamping stuff but other bits are exciting and may involve golf and me being at a charity tournament.


I don’t know if I’d call this writing.  It’s more like failing to write. But I’m going to make myself do it because the only way to strengthen a weak, underused muscle is to gentle torture it back into use again.

(You see? This is why I’m not a physiotherapist)



I got a retainer because my teeth were migrating south for the winter.  Well, east actually.  To the left. That could be east or west depending on which way I’m facing.  I wear it at night and HF calls me Darla.  I call him a slurpy, wet word that is produced as a combination of wires, plastic, and sloppy sibilant consonants. I have yet to translate it.  Neither has he.

I have arthritis, so my everything hurts.  My feet, my knees, my fingers – and Oh Em Gee bang bang my fingers hurt. Typing is a huge challenge and I have started using a dictation software for work emails more often than not.  I thought that was going reasonably well until I composed and emailed a proposal for therapy that involved a four letter word that sounded like fork but wasn’t fork.  I would have died from embarrassment except the parents have yet to follow through on meeting up. I wonder why.

So this is my free-blogging update.  I want to do more of this writing thing and less of this guilting thing, because my blog has been alive for over ten years now and this is the longest any of my pets have ever lived so I’ll try not to let it die of neglect, InshaAllah.

By Abez, The End.

So I did actually update

It just wasn’t here. 🙂

Read it here

My brain is out of shape.

Some people say writing is an art. That’s because they’re silly. Writing is a sport actually- it’s like exercise for parts of your brain that otherwise go soft and floppy without creative stimulation.

The less you write, the weaker your writing muscles become. Eventually they atrophy, and you forget how to put two words together to form half of an incoherent thought. That is why, dear blogistan, lately when I’ve sat down to write the only thing my flabby, out of shape brain can come up with is meh.



Broke my blog layout.

Again.  Hehe.

I’ll get it figured out, InshaAllah.   Until then, sorry!

The catch-up game!

AssalamuAlaikum Blogistan!

So this is where I answer all of the shorter questions that were left last time.  Some of you had longer and significantly more important questions, and InshaAllah those will be answered separately.  But here we go:


Boss… How do you make applesauce?
*Sounds easy*
Ok, how do you make Dabb sauce? :P
Dare looking it up!!! *mwahahaha*

Take a bunch of apples that your children wouldn’t eat, peel them, and then boil them with just enough water to cover with apples.  You can add a little sugar and cinnamon, and keep cooking them until they look translucent. When they’re done, blend them and then guilt your children into consuming them.  Or if this doesn’t not sound appetising, turn them into pie instead. Cinnamon apple sauce also makes a lovely topping for grilled desert lizard. Bon Appetit!


Walaikum Assalam! I’m a big fan of the four quadrant system.  I can’t remember where I first read about it, but basically you sort your life into four categories.


Q1 is Urgent AND Important: This is like your house burning down.

Q2 is Important but not Urgent: This is like your house needing a paint job.

Q3 is Urgent but not Important: This is when pink flamingo lawn ornaments are on sale for only one more day, so if you don’t get them now the sale will be over, but is buying pink flamingo lawn ornaments important to begin with?

Q4 is neither Urgent, nor Important: This is buying hats for the pink flamingos. They’re not on sale, the flamingos aren’t complaining, and there’s not real justification to spend your precious time dressing tacky lawn ornaments in the first place.

This seems relatively straightforward as long as it relates to pink flamingos, but what about real life? I need to do my work email- that’s Q1, urgent and important, and yet here I am answering questions on my blog instead. Are these questions urgent? Are they important?  Some of the questions I consider important, but none of them are urgent.  Before this I even snuck in half an hour of Minecraft, which is a big, fat Q4- neither urgent nor important.

In order to manage your time smarter, you need to clean up all the emergencies in Q1, and then work on living in the Q2 zone as much as possible. Q2 is where things are important but not urgent. That’s where you can schedule them at your convenience because none of them are on fire yet. Q1 is rushing through your homework the night before it’s due, Q2 is scheduling your homework four days before it’s due and being able to do an A+ job of it because you weren’t panicking.

If you’re really honest about deciding whether things are Q1,2,3, or 4, you should be spending your time and energy only where it’s important and not wasting it anywhere it’s not, regardless of whether it’s urgent. When you realize- and accept- that doing so will cut out most of your childish, pre-adulthood pursuits, you will not only be a more mature, productive person, you will also have a leg up on me, who still plays video games when no one’s looking. 😀


 1) I wasn’t there and I don’t know!

2) Done. 🙂

1. Do you read books? What kinds of books? I recently read Destiny Disrupted which is a history of Islam told in a very, very beautiful, fluid, story-like way. It was so fascinating that I re-read it straight through a second time.

I used to read fiction- lots and lots of fiction. Then, at some point in my 20’s, I learned the concept of knowledge without benefit, and I started cutting back. Yes, I still read Harry Potter and enjoyed the Hunger Games (though book 3 was disappointing, frankly), but those are actually the last pieces of fiction I’ve read for a very long time.

I recently read The Illustrated Book of Arguments, which I loved, as well as some sciency book that my sister loaned me- I can’t remember the title. I’m currently attempting to read a book about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and other heritable connective tissue disorders, but again, I really try to read books that will count for me in my own book- my hisaab- versus against me.

No, there’s nothing haram with reading books that don’t have haram in them, but if time is the most precious resource in the world, how can we justify killing hours and hours of it in the imaginary troubles of made-up people?  There are real people with real problems, and the more time we kill, the less time we have to help them- as well as ourselves- live.

2. What helps you most to stay away from the time-suck of the Internet?

Honestly, I really, really struggle with the internet. It’s possibly the biggest fitna is my life, and I’m not joking. I use a few different tools.

  1. StayFocusd: This is a chrome plugin that you install and then acts as a guard dog on your internet use. I program it to give me 15 minutes a day of FB and Twitter time cumulatively, after which it automatically shuts down all the sites on my blocked list for 24 hours. It has other options as well, which close out your blocked site list (which is customized) for a set number of hours, or for certain times of the day.  I close down my blocked list completely and only allow it to be opened if I access the settings at a certain time… like 5am. 😉  I do this when I have a busy work week, and it’s really the best productivity tool ever, MashaAllah.
  2. TinyUrl: This is another tool that blocks sites completely. It doesn’t have a timer, and it’s extremely useful for the kids too. Youtube is simply blocked for them unless I come and enter the password.  For myself, I block certain sites entirely. If I needed to, I could have HF lock it for me and unless he gave me the password, I would have no way of unlocking them.
  3. I disable Safari on my phone. The restrictions settings can be passcode locked and the passcode given to another person.
  4. I delete the Twitter and FB apps from my phone and HF has the Appstore password.

If my measures seem extreme, it’s because I use the internet to escape from the real world when the amount of work on my plate stresses me out.  This is obviously problematic, given the more I procrastinate/escape, the higher the work piles and the greater its associated anxiety becomes. I’m an addict.  I don’t mean that in a joking way, I really, seriously mean it.  I’m addicted to the internet, and it sucks away my time, my creativity, and my productivity in the worst possible method of self-inflicted intellectual harm.

3. I doubt we will ever meet in this life, but I just want you to know that I love you for the sake of Allah. Keep me in your prayers.

Jazakillah. 🙂


Are three kids easier or harder than two kids to take care of?

And lots of love and duas InshaAllah.

You know, when I had one kid, I was always busy.  When I had two kids, I was always busy. When I had three kids, I was always busy, but now I look back on when I only had one or two kids and wonder what the heck I was so busy with.

I don’t know, honestly. I do know that I can’t imagine not having three children, and if two of them are out and only one is home, I’m still busy with that one. As a mom you give 100% of your attention to your children regardless of how many are there, so whether it’s 1,2, or 3, you’re still giving the same- 100%.  And Allah knows best.


Asalaamualaikum sister hope u r fine its a long time u see. I wanted to ask that about floods here in kashmir . i can tell u there are lot of wrong practices happening here nd some people say that this was punishment from Allah can we say it ?? or was it a test plzzzzzz note there is lot of shirk here nd also some areas where badly affected while some where not !!so is it that Allah was happy with some nd angry with some ??? it may be stupid question but its bothering me .May ALLAH give u happiness in this life nd hereafter Aameen!!!!

Walaikum Assalam- in a nutshell, no.  Allah sends people difficulties to test their faith, and disasters as a sign or reminder, but the punishment of Allah is hell, not rain. For more details, see the following: http://www.islamicity.com/dialogue/Q405.HTM


Now, there are still three or four important questions pending, but I have some really Q1 things to handle and each of those answers need the time and attention of Q2 scheduling.

In a nutshell. In Chicago.

AssalamuAlaikum from Chicago! Did I mention I’m in Chicago? Right, sorry.

So, as part of the unexpected life changes in our lives we’re in Chicago at the moment.  Don’t worry, I still live in Dubai, but we’re here to see an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome specialist, and by we I mean me, myself, and all three of my kids. ALL of them. On an airplane (are we there yet?) in those tiny seats (can we go home now?) with those tiny TV’s (issa iPad inna seat?) and those messy easily-spillable servings of kid-unfriendly food that were actually very tasty, thank you Turkish Airlines!

It was like the fight that wouldn’t end. We got onto a plane. We slept, we woke up, we were still on a plane. The kids cried to get off the plane, but we were still on the plane. Khalid asked where the bedrooms in the plane were.  I hadn’t the heart to tell him they were less than a hundred feet away physically but a million miles away financially, so I told him there weren’t any and everyone slept in their seats.

Iman had a proper sobbing meltdown and needed to be cradled to sleep like a 30 pound infant, so she and I napped together in my seat in one big heap on exhaustion and flannel blankets.

HF won the pillow of the flight award, for sleeping bolt upright with not one, but two people sleeping with heads in his lap. One of those heads was mine. The other was usually Musfira’s.

Khalid’s only rest came during the three hours Iman spent sleeping on top of me, when he was able to turn sideways across her chair and simply shut down from exhaustion. He woke up with a bruised shoulder.

So how was the flight? Alhamdulillah, very well considering how many things could have gone wrong but didn’t.  No one got hurt, sick, or lost. Everyone made it to the bathroom on time. Yes, there were LOTS of tears and sighing and yawning and requests to go home already, but it was a learning experience: we learned that we don’t like flying.

But we do like cousins. My kids have five cousins here in the US that they met for the first time yesterday, and they spent the day in gleeful somersaults, toy exploration, cereal-eating and exploring things like “grass” and “clouds” in the great suburban outdoors. My poor little desert-dwellers, they kicked their shoes off in glee expecting to be running on the soft, yellow sand that cushions the ground beneath play equipment in Dubai. Instead, they found piles of pokey, scratchy wood and ran gingerly back for their shoes.

“Momma, iss rocks?” Musfira asked, holding out piece of a wood-chip.

“No dear, it’s wood-chip.”


“Because it’s softer than the ground. It’s like what Marty has in the bottom of his cage.”

Musfira looked unconvinced. I pressed on.

“Hey, it’s like we’re giant hamsters and the park is a hamster cage… yay?”

Musfira blinks and the gears start turning. “HAMSTOS??” she squeals, and runs off to collect piles of woodchamp. “YAY!”

Khalid is slightly less impressed with America so far. I took him to use the bathroom in my elder brother’s house for the first time, and gave him an orientation on how to use the lota.

“See Khalid, this is called a lota. You need to fill it up before you use the bathroom, otherwise if you sit down to go pee first then you might find the lota empty and how will you wash yourself then?”

“Why is this here?” Khalid asks, with genuine concern, “Have water pipes not yet been invented in North America?”

“I was wondering the same thing dear, but most people don’t use water here, so they’re not usually installed in bathrooms.”


“That’s a discussion for another time dear.”

Speaking of bathroom culture shock, Iman had to use a porta-potty at the park yesterday, and it was a new and amazing and awful experience for her. “MOMMA!” She called out from across the park, “That tiny room has a little toilet in it! But it has no water, no sink, and nothing but hand sanitizer. So I cleaned myself with sanitizer, is that ok?”

“It’s good enough for now dear, let’s wash you when you get home.”

Oops, it’s almost six am now. Time to pray Fajr and start rousing my tired lil world travellers.