Monday, July 11, 2011

Goals for Ramadan

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone, insh'Allah everything's well with y'all, and you're in the best of health and the highest of iman!
Do you like the picture? It's me and my SIL on top of the roof of our appartment building close to sunset. I'm not super tall (I'm just under 5'5")'s just that my SIL is super short lol.
Anyways, it's that time of year favorite time of year...that's right, RAMADAN is less than a month away, alhamdolillah! I had a great Ramadan last year, and I'm hoping that insh'Allah this year will be even better! I'm looking forward to it for so many'll be my first Ramadan in first Ramadan with my first Ramadan with my in-laws...but most of all, because I'm craving Ramadan. Yes, craving lol. The shaytan is locked away, and it's such a beautiful month that Allah(swt) has blessed us with. A month of inner reflection, repentance, and drawing closer to Allah(swt). I always used to get asked how I could possibly give up eating and drinking during the day for an entire month, and my answer was always very simple: I'm doing it for the sake of Allah(swt). My love for Allah(swt) is what gets me through those days where my empty stomach is violently churning, those days where my mouth is so parched that I feel like my mouth is full of sand. In my hunger and thirst, I remember Allah(swt), and all of the blessings He has bestowed upon me, without even being asked! This will be my fifth Ramadan, alhamdolillah, and, like last year, I've compiled a list of goals for myself for this upcoming month. However, unlike last year, I've tried to keep them a bit more realistic.
1. Pray all my prayers ON TIME: Astighfirallah, it's embarrassing to admit this, but I've been slacking in this area lately. That needs to change. This is something I've been working on before Ramadan begins, because the sooner it changes and I can develop good salat habits, the better.
2. Pray tarawih every night: Alhamdolillah last year this was a goal I was able to complete. I went to the Islamic center (a 15 minute drive from my parents' house) every night I was able to pray tarawih prayer last year, and I LOVED it. Now that hubby and I live a two minute walk from a mosque (literally, it's like 500 feet down the street), I feel like I have no excuse not to go.
3. Read the entire english translation of the Qur'an: This is easy enough to do insh'Allah. It's in my native language, after all. I also want to try reading the tafseer (explaination) along with the translation as well insh'Allah.
4. Follow along with audio recitation of the Qur'an in Arabic: Needless to say, last Ramadan I was NOT able to get through the whole Qur'an in Arabic (only up to Surah Taha I believe?)...and it felt more like a chore than something enjoyable because it was so difficult for me...and since then, my Arabic reading skills have not really this time around I think it will be more helpful if I follow along with an audio recitation. Insh'Allah it will make it easier and more enjoyable...and will help my reading skills.
5. Memorize at least two new surahs: It doesn't matter which ones they are...I just would like to make more of an effort in memorizing the Qur'an because I haven't been making much of an effort lately, astighfirallah.
6. Make lots of du'ah: Du'ah, or supplication, is something that is such a powerful tool, especially during Ramadan. In fact, one of the best times to make du'ah is right before breaking the fast. I sometimes made du'ah right before iftar last Ramadan, and was absolutely AMAZED by what Allah(swt) blessed me with. Never underestimate the power of du'ah.
7. Eat healthier: Who would have thought that Ramadan would be a prime time to start eating healthier? Well, guess what? It is! I have so many problems with food I won't even start mentioning them all to you. I will just say though that I will make my best effort to eat a nice healthy, balanced and nutritious iftar and suhoor this year (as opposed to last year's poptarts and icecream and salt and vinegar chips late at night after tarawih...yeah, I know, really disgusting, right? I have no idea how I used to be thinner when I ate so much crap, and then when I came here I gained 8kg in three months...I know, absolute mystery I tell you!)
What are your goals for this Ramadan?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Muslim Tag

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone, insh'Allah you're all well and in the best of health and the highest of iman! ***Just a little reminder before I begin, and I remind myself above and before anyone else, Ramadan is LESS THAN A MONTH away! If you still have fasts you need to make up from last Ramadan, you should make them up VERY SOON insh'Allah***
I've seen this going around on YouTube, and I'm so glad that Elisa over at Before Sunrise decided to adapt it to a blog tag format! So, here it goes:
1. Are you a convert or born Muslim?
Well, since everyone is technically born a Muslim, I guess I'm both, alhamdolillah :P I took my shahada August 18, 2007 at the age of 17, the summer before my senior year of high school. I was raised Presbyterian by my parents (I think that my father was actually raised Anglican but I'm not sure...he later switched churches for convenience). When I was younger I enjoyed going to church and actually was fairly involved at certain periods of my life. It wasn't until I was older, and a year or so after I was confirmed (at 14) that I really started asking myself what it was I believed and why I believed that way. I was always very interested in world religions, but had never really studied Islam all that much until I was a junior in high school. It was in a history class that focused on current events...I wasn't really thrilled that we had to spend the entire year learning about and analysing politics in the Middle East (not a huge fan of politics...and I would have loved to move on to other regions as well, which we May -_-), but I was very interested at the begining of the year when we focused briefly on Islam. Insh'Allah when my fourth anniversary comes around I'm planning on doing a more in-depth post on my choice to become Muslim.
2. What's your ethnicity, and how does it relate to how you were raised?
I am half Czech, and the other half is mostly English with a bit of French. However, both my parents are third or fourth (can't remember/be 100% sure) generation. Sometimes my mom would cook Czech food for us, that she learned how to cook from my grandma (I think?), but other than that I had a traditionally "American" upbringing.
3. Where are you from? If not from the Middle East have you ever been there, and why?
I'm from the New England region of the United States. I've never been to the Middle East (Morocco is NOT the Middle East, it's in North Africa!), but insh'Allah I'd love to be able to make hajj one day with my husband.
4. What's your favorite Arab/Middle Eastern dish?
I'm going to have to talk about Moroccan food...mostly because that's what I've been eating for the past eight months, but also because it's very tasty ^_^ Some of my favorite dishes are: kefta with cucumber, mint and yoghurt sauce, couscous (I like all kinds of couscous, but my favorite is plain couscous with melted honey and butter sauce, yeah, not too healthy but very YUM), and lemon chicken with olives and harissa. Oh, and don't forget the tea!
5. What is the most interesting or funny Arab/Islam related saying you use day to day?
Well, I say "Salaam alaikum," "Peace be upon you" a lot...but something funny that I say when I need a tissue (which is quite often, for some reason my nose does not take kindly to the climate here), I say "ana mukhnoona!"...which basically means "I'm full of snot!" I could say "bgheet kleenex" but the former is much more amusing :P
6. What's the most attractive/unattractive thing you find towards an Arab/Muslim man/woman?
Attractive (for both): Someone who sincerely strives to follow their deen, is polite and respectful, but still has a sense of humor and doesn't take themselves too seriously
Unattractive (for both): Someone who likes to make people think they are very religious/pious, but in reality they're not...and also people who have the "holier than thou art" attitude
7. What's the thing you love the most about Islam? What do you dislike the most?
The thing that I love the most about Islam is that it has the answer for everything. If I have a question about something, and I look, I will always eventually find an answer. When it's practiced as a complete way of life, it really gives you peace of mind and tranquility within your heart. Dislike? There's nothing that I dislike about Islam, just the way that certain people view Islam is something I don't like. Oh well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion.
8. What's the most interesting/embarrassing/funny thing in your house that is related to Islam or Arabic culture, excluding the Qur'an?
Not really anything...we have two prayer rugs, and some wall hangings that have "Allah" and the shahada in arabic script on them...oh wait! We have a tagine! If you don't know what a tagine is, click here: I can't believe I almost forgot that...I use it almost every day to cook -_-'
9. Do you speak Arabic? If you do say something!
Ana smiti Ayah, wa nbgheek bzef! Bgheet nakul alftar dabba! (My name is Ayah, and I love you a lot! I want to eat breakfast now!) lol...its almost 2pm and I still haven't eaten breakfast...yay for sleeping in! (btw, this was Moroccan dialect; most other Arabs can't understand Moroccans)
10. Name all of the Islamic prophets you can off the top of your head, no cheating!
Adam, Idris, Nooh, Hud, Ilyas, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Ismail, Yaqub, Youssef, Younes, Salih, Harun, Moosa, Lut, Sulaiman, Dawud, Yahya, Issa, Mohammed (Alayhum Salaam)
I tag everyone reading this who wants to do it!