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Monthly Archives: August 2011

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From Darkness to Light

There are so many things about this talk that I like that I’m not even sure where to begin.  SubhanAllah.

Peace, until the rising of the dawn…

I thought I would post a quick dua request here.  It is an odd night, and the 27th too.  So more people making dua is good, right?  So what do I ask for?  What if I miss something?  How can I make a quick request that covers every possible situation, need, shortcoming, or deficiency that exists in the world and in every one of its people, living, dead, and yet to come?

اللّهُـمَّ أَنْـتَ السَّلامُ ، وَمِـنْكَ السَّلام ، تَبارَكْتَ يا ذا الجَـلالِ وَالإِكْـرام .

‘O Allah, You are As-Salam and from You is all peace, blessed are You, O Possessor of majesty and honour.’

Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god;- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him.

Nothing in the world is as important as peace- salam, from As-Salaam, The Source of Perfect Peace.  To be ok with everything, and to have everything be ok.

Ya Salaam, please give us salaam.


I love my kids.

Me: Khalid, in five minutes it’ll be time to turn off the computer and take a bath, ok?

Khalid: InshaAllah.


Me: What were you doing when you fell off the bed?

Iman: I was going down to get you a present, you know? Like, an adventure crown!


Darn you, Pixar

Khalid has a hard time expressing himself, which is very common for a person with autism.  We’ve learned to keep a closer eye on him, to looks for signs of things that he may not be able to tell us.  Today, for example, when Iman started bawling and saying that Khalid bit her, I checked Khalid’s arm first.  Sure enough, I found teeth marks and a nasty purple bruise that far exceeded the dent that Iman dramatically showed me in her finger.  Khalid bit Iman because Iman bit him first, but he would never tell us that.

It’s not as if Khalid doesn’t talk- sometimes we can’t get him to stop talking- about trains, about Amtrak and Metrolink and Thomas.  It’s just that he won’t talk about himself.  He won’t even tell us when he needs to use the bathroom, and we have a roughly 90% rate of Khalid peeing in his pants if we don’t insist that he goes to the bathroom when we think he’s looking a little fidgety.  So you can see how hard it is to get an idea of what goes on inside of his head, and how easy it is to miss what a sensitive little boy he is.

In addition to Khalid’s self-inflicted belief that HF has abandoned him due to bad behavior (see yesterday’s Umrah post) Khalid is also suffering from severe haircut regret.  One of HF’s personal traditions is to have his head shaved whenever one of our new babies has their head shaved.  This, he says, is so that the baby doesn’t feel alone.  🙂   This time, when HF went to the barber to match his hairdo to Musfira’s, Khalid got excited by seeing the ‘paint’  (shaving cream) on baba’s head, and said he wanted his head painted too.  HF was skeptical, and he called me.  I asked Khalid, Khalid said he wanted to have his head shaved.  So we let him.

Khalid came home happy and we took some pictures of his and HF’s shiny new heads together.  The next morning the honeymoon ended.  Khalid woke me up by climbing into my bed with his hands on his head exclaiming ‘Oh no! Where is it? We need to find the hair!’ and since then, he has worn a hat, 24/7.  He even goes to bed in one.  He will run naked from one end of the house to the other (if he gets distracted while getting dressed) but he will be naked with a hat on.  We’ve tried to separate him from the hat, but he will cry and cover his head with his hands out of shame.  He will skulk around miserably with his head hanging, both hands covering his lack of hair.   We’ve decided that him not feeling humiliated is more important than us following vintage Western social norms out here in the Middle East where we have no such hangups about headgear, so Khalid gets to wear his hat.

This evening, the kids ate dinner without a fuss, bathed without any protest, and earned a brief cartoon interlude before bedtime.  We had ten minutes to go before lights-out, so I opened my computer and turned on a Pixar short film- Boundin’.  It’s here, and in case you’ve forgotten, tells the story of a happy, fluffy sheep who shares his joy by dancing for the other animals until one day- insert ominous music here- he is unexpectedly hauled away and sheared.  He is returned- naked and ridiculed by the other animals.  Are you picking this up yet?  Thunder rolls.  The sky darkens.  The sheep is crying in the rain.  By the time it dawns on me that this might not be a good cartoon for Khalid just at this point in his dramatic life, he has pulled his hat over his face, and I can see tears rolling out from underneath of it.  I ask him what’s wrong and he tries to run away.  I gently pull him back because I want him to see that the sheep can be happy even without his hair, which is what his friend the Jackalope teaches him.  Khalid sniffs and perks up a bit.  The sheep’s hair grows back and Khalid is happy.  But then that darn truck comes back AGAIN and the sheep is sheared and Khalid looks like the rug’s been pulled out from under him again.

It’s hard to tell how socially aware Khalid is or isn’t, but we’re learning.  When I introduced Khalid to my physiotherapist two weeks ago, she very casually asked Khalid where his front teeth had gone.  Khalid looked away from her and mumbled ‘nothing’ and then walked out of her office.  ‘Nothing’ is Khalid’s response to any question with an unpleasant answer.  She apologized to me profusely for embarrassing him, but I can’t fault her.  She’s not the first person who has asked and she won’t be the last, and as desperately as I wish I could, I can’t protect him from the world.

Ya Allah, please protect Khalid from hurt and harm, whether it come from friends or enemies, and protect him and sustain him, and please keep him in Your shelter in this life and the next.  Ameen.

LabbaykAllah, huma Labbayk!

HF left for Umrah this evening.  We loaded up the minivan with all three kids to drop him off at the airport, even though it was three hours past their bedtime by the time we got home again, because we wanted to give him a proper send-off and to help the kids understand where he was going.  Khalid and Iman were confused, but Iman was happy because she loves this nasheed and was excited to hear that baba was going to the Kabah to pray and drink zamzam.  (ZAMZAM!)

Khalid wasn’t pleased though, and actually started crying on the way home. When I asked him why, his confused answer involved ‘scareding,’ and baba being angry. The gist of it seems to be that baba has left because yesterday Khalid made baba angry when he bit him. Ouch. Tomorrow I’ll write a social story for Khalid and we’ll read it together. I want to reinforce that baba is, indeed, coming back, and didn’t leave because he was mad at Khalid. SubhanAllah.

(Truthfully though, I have no guarantee that HF is coming back.  Not to be dramatic, but people die at Hajj/Umrah every year.  It’s a statistical inevitability: when you put 4 million people together for the world’s largest gathering, there will be mortality rates.  The sick, the old, the people in wrong place at the wrong time when accidents happen- people die in Makkah and Medina, and while it’s sad to lose a loved one, I can’t think of a better place or situation to lose them in.  If I could think of somewhere to die, in sajda in the haram would be my top choice, and if Allah chose to take HF the same way, I would be jealous.  I’m not being morbid, just pragmatic.  We’re all going to die, we might as well try to die awesomely.)

I digress.  I’ll be putting together a big ole dua list for HF.  If you would like your prayers added to the list please let me know and I’ll pass them his way, InshaAllah. 🙂 May Allah accept his Umrah and make it easy for him.  May Allah forgive us all for our sins, and make us among those earn His pleasure in this life and the next. Ameen. 🙂

C is for colic, but I’d much rather it be for cookie

And right about now, I’d much rather have a cookie.

You know what the problem with typing while hungry is?  Even words look tasty.

Musfira is getting properly colicky, crying louder and longer in the past few nights than before.  The Nightly Fuss has been going on for around four weeks now, and it starts at 6pm like clockwork and last night it continued until 2:30 am.  Please remember us in your duas.  I don’t like being nocturnal.  Or cried at for 6+ hours.  No fun. Very tiring.  Want a cookie.

Ramadan Reconcilliation

Alhamdulillah, I’m fasting. I didn’t think I would be able to, and while Day 2 of Ramadan may be a little early to announce success, I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to continue for the entire month, InshaAllah. The heat isn’t bothering me, Alhamdulillah, and neither is the hunger. Even the dehydration is mild despite feeding a seven week old baby.  The only challenge is the sleep. Musfira fussed from 6pm until 1am yesterday. By the time I was able to put her down, I had one-handedly:

  • Served iftar
  • Eaten Iftar
  • Prayed Maghrib
  • Had the kids put to bed
  • Eaten dinner
  • Attempted to clean off the table
  • Cooked for suhoor- daal and oatmeal
  • Watched three short documentaries and listened to Surah Mulk twice

Yes, all of this was done either one-handed or hastily in between being able to put Musifra down for five to ten minutes before she woke up again.  Sometimes we have weird nights, and sometimes they spill over into weird days as well- Musfira will fuss- tired but refusing to sleep- and I will rock/walk/bounce her to sleep only to have her wake up again five to ten minutes later, regardless of whether I stop rocking/walking/bouncing or even holding her.  Normally, Alhamdulillah, she sleeps easily for four hours at a stretch, and that’s more than enough time for me to get stuff done in between.  Occasionally, she has these weird days, and those are the ones where I never get of my pajamas and Musfira cries, fusses, sleeps, wakes, and cries- later, rinse, repeat- for hour after hour until the sun rises and sometimes even until the sun sets the next day.

So last night was a weird night.  By the time I was able to put Musfira down (1am!) I was too exhausted for any Tarawih or any Qur’an, and had barely any concentration in my prayers.  I crashed into bed and just two and a half hours later, had to get back out of it for Suhoor.  HF kindly got me out of bed, steered me to the kitchen and placed a bowl of oatmeal into my hands as I stood with my eyes closed and my head against the kitchen door.

Then we prayed Fajr and went back to bed, and two hours later, Musfira woke up in need of a diaper change and a feed.  I’m not hungry or thirsty as much as I am tired and, yes- disappointed.  I love Ramadan.  I need Ramadan desperately, in order to counteract the downward spiral I’ve been in for the rest of the year and to help realign myself mentally and spiritually.  Ramadan is the reset button, ideally because you’re conquering your laziness, kicking bad habits, and remembering the sweetness of Ibada- ideally.  In actuality, I’m so busy juggling Musfira, cooking, shopping, taxiing Khalid and Iman around town, and working that I feel like I’m losing out.  My immediate thought is that I need to prioritize extra worship and the energy required to do it, but I’m not doing anything that I can cut out of my schedule.  I need to take time for Ibada, but I don’t know where to take it from.  If I get any less sleep than I already do I’m going to crash.

(Two nights ago I jumped out of bed to pick Musfira up.  I took a wrong turn somewhere along the way and crashed face-first into a corner.  The next morning I had a headache and a swollen eye, and it took a few moments for me to remember why.)

So here’s the reconciliation.   Allah is responsible for any circumstances I am in, and they are all good, regardless of whether I am able to recognize that.  Last night, when I wanted to pray tarawih but instead spent the six hours between maghrib and qiyaam rocking Musfira, there was good in that too.   Ramadan is challenging enough, Ramadan plus young motherhood must be the next level for me.  I need to push through the busy-ness and the tiredness and somehow find the energy that I need to make the most of it.  I’ve always said Ramadan is spiritual boot camp.  Now I’m at bootcamp with a baby on my back, a spatula in my hand, and two children dragging me backwards by my apron strings.  It’s no longer enough for me to reach the end on my own, I have to make it there with a serene smile, clean and alive children, Surah Mulk memorized, and a tray of freshly baked samosas.

May Allah make the path to righteousness easy for all of us, and grant us the trust in Him to know that all of His decrees are good ones.