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…
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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. 😀
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.
The 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
“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.
Hadn’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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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:
- Allah – God, with the Capital G
- Ar-Rahman – The Merciful
- Al-Latif – The Subtle
- Al-Man’3u- The Preventer of Harm
- Al-Khabeer – The Informed
- Al- Wadud – The Loving
- Ash-Shakoor – The Grateful (not sure how to translate this- Allah is gracious in His thanks?)
- Al-Jameel – The Beautiful
- Al-Mujeeb – The Answerer (of prayers)
- Al-Ghafoor – The Forgiving
- 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.
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
You will then:
- Exercise saintly levels of maternal patience while the children paint the tables, floors, hands, fingers, and glass windows of the lamps.
- Remember 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!
- Ramadan Kareem.
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.
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.
Sorry 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.
I’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
I’ll get it figured out, InshaAllah. Until then, sorry!
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:
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.
So, until I can get my head around the new and exciting challenges in my life and blog about it, let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting!
I’m not very good at writing sometimes, but I can answer questions like a boss. Seeing as how I’m the director, technically even the most poorly worded question will be answered like a boss. Cuz I am a boss, albeit a poorly-worded one, hehe.
So, who’s got a question? And would you like to address it to me, or my acute asthmatic bronchitis?
The Boss, Applesauce.
So I haven’t updated in a while. I understand that, for people who don’t follow me on twitter, that could mean that I’ve gone and died. Fair enough. My twitter handle is @zebasez. In case you want to see if I haven’t died yet.
I’ve been meaning to write but the problem with writing is that you have to take big, abstract, lumpy concepts like uncertainty, fear, fatigue, pain, and try to fit them neatly into paragraph-sized boxes. Writing is a hands-on thing, but my hands hurt. My back hurts. My legs hurt. My head hurts. And now that I’ve been told that all three of my children are likely to have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome too, my heart hurts.
Ouch, right in the feels!
Once upon a time I begged Allah for Khalid to not have autism, but he did, and that’s been a blessing for us all. Now, I pray for my children’s health, but if they have Ehlers-Danlos, let it be the focal point around their remembrance of Allah and a daily reminder of their own mortality whether they wanted one or not. Cuz they’re certainly going to need one. We all do.
Allah loves my children more than I do, so if He should decide that Khalid will have low muscle tone and Iman will have elbows that can be wrung like a wet towel and Musfira- my tiniest cupcake- should have a heart murmur, then He has decided that for them out of love, not in spite of it.
I don’t want to give too much away but there are some major life changes coming up for us that I’m not done grieving yet. So until then, silence is golden.
And maybe I’ll post some memes so no one thinks I’ve died. hehe.
As part of our homeschooling exercises, I give Khalid written questions to answer about stories we’ve read. This was his terse, and entirely pragmatic response to the epic tale of Peter Rabbit.
Who is Peter Rabbit?
He was the rabbit who robbed Mr.McGregor’s garden.
What did his mother tell Peter Rabbit and his sisters to go do?
To pick berries.
What did Peter do instead?
He snuck into a garden.
Why was going to the garden a bad idea?
He had to go home.
How did Peter get home again?
What advice would you give Peter?
Don’t go there again.
So if there were ever any doubts that Owl is a dramatic, attention-seeking medical diva- allow me to lay them to rest.
On July 1 she went in for her CT Angio. This is where they injected a radioactive dye into her brains to see how the aneurysm was doing. Turns out the aneurysm was doing great, had settled down and decided to start a family. Specifically, a daughter. Yes, her aneurysm had a baby aneurysm.
Following the CT Angio, Owlie sprung a leak from the femoral artery that the surgeons had opened to access her brainy bits, and when the nurse couldn’t close it off, she had to call for backup. So a giant man named Danny mashed Owlie’s leg closed apologetically for a while until the spurting stopped.
On July 2, the surgeons went back in through the same artery to repair the two aneurysms, and found that a third daughter had appeared within the 24 hours since the CT Angio, popping in for a lovely mother-daughter tea perhaps. The doctors brought a balloon, and you know when someone brings a balloon it’s going to be a party.
They used the balloon to block off the exit to the rest of Owlie’s brain and then filled the aneurysms with a fancy brain glue called Onyx.
Science says that Onyx is an ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer dissolved in the organic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) opacified with tantalum powder, but google says that onyx is a type of stone. And that is why Owlie’s husband is now snickering that she literally has rocks for brains.
Later, Owlie awoke from anaesthesia and starting bleeding all over the place again. First into her stomach and then back out again, projectile vomiting blood all over everything. Then from her leg again, because all that vomiting caused her to spring open the same leak. And then a vein collapsed in her arm. So she bled into her arm too. I wasn’t there. But I’m pretty sure she looked like a purple lawn sprinkler spraying tomato juice. Just saying.
Alhamdulillah, Owlie has since been upgraded from lawn sprinkler to walking dead, and her pasty, zombie-white self was allowed to shuffle (gently) out of the hospital and back to our brother’s house. You can read her account here.
To make a long story short, she’s alive. She’s recovering. Her head is full of rocks. And the moment her husband messaged to say that the surgery was a success I broke down completely- in the darkness of my living room, 2:30 am Dubai time- into the longest Sajda of gratitude and happy tears that I have ever done, for anything. Ever.
AllahuAkbar wa lillahilhamd.