First Come, First Served; Rubina!

What is your schedule like? I have a 7 month old now, any suggestions on how to be a calm parent, how to give the right tarbiyat, how to incline them towards Islam and the spicy Desi food. – Rubina
AssalamuAlaikum Rubina. ūüôā ¬†Children are weird, sticky, lovely, quirky, fascinating miniatures of ourselves- doubly as complicated and while being only half as sensible. ¬†I don’t think I can cover the whole gamut of good Islamic parenting for three¬†reasons-
  1. I don’t know the whole gamut of good Islamic parenting.
  2. Seven month olds are still struggling with object permanence, maybe it’s a little early for tarbiyya ūüėČ
  3. I have a good recipe for Nihari.

But I can talk about patience and staying calm.  So here I goes.

On no soul…

The ayah in the Qur’an that everyone refers to when they’re about to have a nervous breakdown- about how Allah never burdens a soul with more than they may bear? It includes children.

I know right. Seriously.

No matter how many times they throw up on your keyboard, break your phone, rub jelly onto your Eid clothes or pee on Dado’s silk carpet, it is within your capability to maintain sunnah-like calm. ¬†So say this to yourself: I can do this. I can follow the Sunnah. I can teach my children with love. ¬†I can even discipline¬†them with love in my eyes even if there’s disappointment on my face. And when I mess up, I’m going to apologize to them with love and show them what a mature Muslim does when they make a mistake.

Cast yourself as the leader, not the victim:

Compare: & contrast

  1. Everything was so much easier before I had kids- I could wake up for Fajr, I even prayed tahajjud sometimes. I read more Qur’an, I attended more lectures. ¬†I was in better shape. My butt was perkier. They’ve made my life so hard, and I know motherhood isn’t easy but sometimes I really wish I could be left alone sometimes. ¬†Nutshell: Children ruined your life.
  2. SubhanAllah- I know I’m struggling right now and boy does my butt look flabby, but InshaAllah once the baby starts sleeping through the night I’m going to start easing back into Ibadah. Maybe bebeface and I can start learning some Qur’an together. ¬†Nutshell: Children are part of your life.

There’s a difference between Nutshell 1 and Nutshell 2- even though the story is the same, it’s how you perceive your role. ¬†Are you an unwilling victim of procreation? Or are you going to be a Muslim Momma Warrior? A messy, damp, tired, wild-eyed Ummi on a Mission to do the best you can with what you have and thank Allah for what you don’t?

Your words affect your thoughts as much as your thoughts affect your words. The mental story you tell yourself about being a young mother determines how it all plays out.

The Pro-Tip: No-No-Prompt

One of the best tools any parent can have in their behavior modification belt is the simple rule of No-No-Prompt. ¬†Let’s say, for example, you tell your 1 year old not to bang his cup on the floor.

You make sure you have his attention and you say, “Gimme the cup please!’

He stares at your blankly. He has such chubby cheeks.

You repeat yourself in the same tone- firm, straightforward. Not sing-songy, not scary, not begging, you just say it. “Gimme the cup please!”

When he ignores you the second time with the glint in his eye that says he just wants to see which cracks first- you or the cup- that’s the second No. ¬†You told him once, No response. You told him twice, no response. ¬†Now here comes the prompt. The third time around, you just say, Gimme the cup. Then, you take the cup and say thanks! and put the cup out of his reach.

He might fuss and wiggle and whine and cry until he blows snot bubbles, so you have two options. You can take the short way or the long way, depending on what your goal for that teaching moment is.

The short way is to maintain consistency, to distract him away from the cup because you don’t want him to have it for whatever reason. He’s not thirsty, he’s just experimenting with the limits of your patience and the durability of BPA-free plastic. You said no cup, so no cup. Do not cave. Do not give him the cup. Life will go on.

The long way might be a case where he might want a drink and you’re ok with him having the cup, you’re just not ok with him banging it. ¬†So when he calms down, you can give him the cup again and if he bangs again- lather, rinse, repeat. Use no-no-prompt to teach that drinking is ok but banging is not. It will take more than few tries. It may even take days, but if you succeed in being consistent, he will learn that if he bangs he’ll lose the cup.

Remember, no kid ever died of crying. And no parent can teach a child that does not listen. Babies get off easy because they look like their faces are made of buttercream, but they’re cheeky and smart. ¬†Cheeky babies that get away with snatching toys, hitting, and screaming to get what they want inevitably grow up into cheeky toddlers that snatch toys, hit others, and scream to get what they want.

There is no magical age at which your children will suddenly start behaving properly, so you have to¬†set the standard for compliance without fear, yelling, or hitting from early on simply through being consistent in your requests (No-No-Prompt) and not caving to crying when you’re following through.

And now, Not Your Nano’s¬†Nihari:

Find some big ole beef cubes and trim the fat off (a kilo?)

Sautee’ them in the bottom of a pressure cooker with half a cup of oil and half a pack of Shan Nihari Masala. You can use a whole pack if you plan to serve dinner with a fire extinguisher.

Once the beef is brown and the oil in the pan begins to separate from the spicy, meaty, juiciness- pour in a litre and a half of boiling hot water.

Then, close the pressure cooker and try not to blow up the kitchen for around 30 mins.

Still, without blowing up your kitchen, open the pan and find a piece of beef to poke. It should be soft but not breaking into pieces. If it’s already too soft, you can actually take the beef out and put it to the side while we finish up the sauce so it doesn’t disintegrate further.

Do you have friend onions? Well you need them. Take a whole cup and throw them into your blender with just enough water to make a paste. This is not cheating, this is food science. Put this paste into your Nihari. It is yummy.

Now, to your bubbling pot of spicy brown broth- add the juice of a whole lemon, salt to taste and a handful of chopped coriander. If you’re happy with the taste, thicken it with some flour- dissolve 1/2 cup flour in a cup of cold water separately. Mix well because nobody likes lumpy Nihari.

Ok, so you should now have a hot, salty, sour, beefy pot of beefy goodness. And here’s what your Nano doesn’t know:

Serve it on french fries. Take a huge heaping scoop of Nihari, pour it over fries and garnish with yogurt, chaat masala, fried onions, fresh coriander and lemon juice. It is amazing.

And when you do, send me a picture so we can post it on twitter and see if Nihari fries go viral. ūüėČ


Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, and 100% Muslim. She is also chronically ill and terminally awesome. She is the ever-lovin Momma of: - Khalid, a special little boy with autism - Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair -Musfira, an especially devious baby Spoiler, Abez is also Zeba Khan on

  1. rubina

    MashaAllah! Love your response. I just wanted to ask whatever I could *teehee*. I will probably have a few points written down as reminders over my fridge. JazakaAllahu Khairan. You could actually write a book on calm parenting. So can I try the nihari fries on her now, she is 7 months old? Or maybe I will wait a couple months when she gets good with finger foods and then try it. I love my mom’s Nihari, I just don’t want her turning into a “can’t eat spicy food” kid.

    P.s: always looking forward to reading new articles on your blog. May Allah swt bless you & your family with health and happiness. Ameen

  2. Sumaiya

    The first thing I thought of, after seeing your response is : “Wow, I am gonna be served next”. Boy, Don’t you have the regular-customer preference? ūüėõ
    I can’t imagine you explaining Dabb (btw Sunnah reports say its Not haraam).

  3. bbbb

    Hey I would like you to elaborate on ABA therapy and where I can read about it .I have a toddler and i need help not to panic,yell and confuse him. He s 20 months but not yet clear in speech yet,so I’m wondering how I can adopt it.

  4. khala

    Asalamu alaikum
    I’m sorry for bothering you so often.I know you don’t mind(hopefully).

    There is something about my nephew that bothers me.He’s different from other kids,regarding speech ,focus and sociality.Their parents diagnosed him for ADHD when he was like 5.But was demotivated when the drugs made him sluggish.No meds ,no nothing after that. He’sin public school now.Not in a good behavioral pattern.He’s picking up bad traits to be accepted. Hyperfo used in what he likes and has major breakdown once in a while. People notice the abnormality in him.But his dad is a positive freak who tries to talk him through.Occasionally works.
    What do you say to them.The boy and the family needs help.He’s already a decade old.I’m so worried for him.If you can enlighten on your son’s therapy &other necessary arrangements or anything needed ,it ll be wonderful.
    May Allah reward us with good.

  5. Habibi

    God i love your articles and your writing style in general . MashaAllah i could just keep on reading it without getting bored. Entertaining yet not waste of time. Thanks fir the Parenting tip, i will try it Inshallah ( if i dont loose control first and forget about it) with my 2 1/2 old daughter.

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