0 In Umm Natural

How To Read Food Labels

We live in an era where food is readily packed and available for us. But not all food is good for us and not all foods are being labelled correctly. Even the organic ones.

 

Yes, you read right. Even organic ones. But that’s not to say that we should avoid buying organic foods.

When you look at the back of your favorite brand of beans, you’ll find lots of ingredients (other than beans), that are not only hard to pronounce but also hard to envision. Ingredients such as anti-caking agent leaves you wondering whether cake was used in the process.

 

It can be really overwhelming. So in this post I aim to help you understand those pesky ingredients and tips on how to always make the right choice when looking for healthy food.

 

From Farm to Folk

Have you ever wondered where your food actually comes from? In this fast paced society most of us rely on food manufacturers to provide us with safe and healthy foods. Nowadays, only a few people grow their own foods, this is mainly because most of us live in urban areas, so don’t necessairly have the space to grow our own veggies.

And is where manufacturers play a part in our health.

While some foods can be sold directly from the farm to consumers i.e. farmers market, most of the food is passed down to the food and drink manufacturers for processing. Then it’s passed on the retailers who in turn use other service providers, like transport, to get the goods to the consumer – you.

At each stage, standards need to be met in order to ensure safety for the consumer. So this is where food labelling comes into play.

Is there a risk of not being aware of food labels?

Believe it or not, the food industry do not have your best interests at heart. If the did, then they would be bankrupt. That’s why they make certain claims such as healthyorganic and safe so that you buy that product. The food industry is there to make a profit; not better your healthy (which is really unfortunate).

You could be misled by a company , especially when they promote their product to be organic. How is the product organic? Some companies claim to be organic for not using RoundUp on their crops. Yet they use other pesticides and fertilizers that are just as harmful.

If you don’t know how to read a food label, you won’t know how to make healthy food choices especially when buying packaged foods. How many ingredients should a product have? What if a certain product just has one harmful ingredient – should you still buy it? When you learn how to read labels, it really helps you make better and informed choices.

 

Who regulates labelling legislation?

It varies by country but here are the main ones;

  1. Europe – Europe Commission New Food Information Regulation 1169/2011/EU
  2. America – FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
  3. Canada – Health Cananda through Foods and Drugs Act
  4. Australia And New Zealand – Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)
  5. Asia – all different authorities e.g. Singapore Food Regulations

Just to note the FDA have different regulations for different foods across the board. None of the regulating bodies are synchronized with either country, so it’s always best to check the food regulations for the country a particualr product is imported from.

 

What’s on a food label?

 

What do you look for first before buying a product? Is it the price, expiry date or list of ingredients? Personally, I look at the list if ingredients and whether it includes sugar, soy and gluten. Then I look at the first ingredient to be listed. If it’s fructose I put it down, because it means that particular product has the highest content of fructose (as the list is in desecending order by weight).

I also look for any stamps when the product claims to be organic such as;

Soil Association U.K,

USDA (USA)

Organic Federation of Canada

European Union (Europe)

Japanese Agricultural Organic Standard (JAS)

Agriculture Biologique (France)

just to name a few. It’s best you familiarze yourself with organic regulating bodies, as they follow strict guidelines as to what can be deemed as organic in farming practices.

List of ingredients

Every product has to have a list of ingredients, including E numbers. I would say most E-numbers are harmful and should be completely avoided.  I find that E numbers are used widely in frozen goods such as battered fish, breaded chicken and meat burgers.

Ingredients are listed in descending order, so the main ingredient is listed first. When looking at any product, if the first ingredient is fructose then that means that particular product contains a high amount of sugar. In the above picture we can see that the main ingredient in the ice cream is coconut milk. So that’s a huge plus and I will definitely buy it. seeing that it also contains agave syrup.

Ingredients must also highlight any allegens like soya, gluten, egg, dairy, nuts or wheat. Beware of products that say ‘may contain’ eggs, soya and gluten.  What the manufacturer means by this, is that the food may have been contaminated with those allergens, perhaps during processing or transporting. It’s basically to excuse liabilty from the manufacturer if a consumer was to have an allergic reaction after consuming their porduct.

A list of ingredients is compulsory on all prodcuts with the exception of cheese, butter, milk and salt. So if a product does not highlight any ingredients I would say avoid!

12 In Soul

Bullying: My Story

This has been on my top posts to write since forever, but fear held me back. Having recently read so many stories. of beautiful young children committing suicide, because of bullying, I thought it’s time to share mine.

I was bullied from a young age; probably from around age 4-16 years. My school years were filled with torment, pain and just anguish. I covered the scars of my soul for such a long time, but I think now is the time to share this with the world.

This is in no particular order. It’s not as thought out as my other posts. So if it’s all over the place just know that it’s raw and real.

 

Bullying was the norm

“Look at your face. Why does it look like that?… Eww, don’t play with her she’s got nits?… You’ve worn that jacket for 3 days. Tramp!

Going to a predominately south-Asian school, I was bullied for the way I looked. From what I gathered (in my 12 years or so at school), is that being white was considered beautiful. I however, am the opposite (and I love it). Alhamdulilah (All Praises Due to Allah).

I have a wider nose (which I have grown to love), tanned skin (which I simply adore), jet black wavy hair (which is thick and lustrous allahumma barik alaayki –  May Allah bless it Aameen). I’m not disfigured alhamdulilah, but I felt that way. My features were that off a mixed-raced African girl. The bullying started with the way I looked to ‘where is your dad’ (because apparently, being raised in a single-parent home was a reason to be abused).

Looking back, I never realized that being physically and verbally abused was deemed as that. Yes bullying, but it didn’t hold the same connotation as abuse.

I use the word abused, because bullying has the same effects as mental, physical and sexual abuse. But I believe it’s downplayed to say it’s normal for it to happen; especially in school. There is nothing normal about being abused. Nothing. I rather stick to calling bullying what it really is; physical and mental abuse.When you constantly pick on someone to the point that they consider ending their own lives; that’s abuse.

Teachers never intervened. No matter how many times my mother complained to the headteacher; it was shrugged off. I was blamed;

“maybe she needs to befriend them’, ‘maybe they’re just picking on her because they want to be her friend’, ‘oh they’re just kids, these things happen”. 

Regardless of your age; kids should not abuse other kids. I didn’t realize that it was wrong, because bullying is likened to growing pains. Kids beating and verbally abusing others, is because he/she is expressing him/herself! Or because he/she is attracted to the person they’re bullying! Subhan’Allah (Glory Be to Allah)! This is the context the word ‘bullying’, is used, Unfortunately, it’s sugar-coated abuse.

Teachers saw it as normal. Heck, I saw it as normal because it had happened to me from such a young age. One day I had friends, the next day I didn’t. One day I was happy, laughing and joking with my ‘so-called friends’ and then the next day I was sad, lonely, suicidal. All from the age of 4.

I think the worst of the name calling was being referred to as ‘kali’ which means black (in Urdu) on a daily basis. I remember grabbing the bleach when I was 7, and rubbing it all over my face and arms. I wanted to be white so badly. When my dear mother caught me, she broke down (May Allah rest her soul aameen).

Despite her attempts to protect me, she felt as though she had failed miserably. When I used to cry and scream ‘why is this happening to me’, she would give me words of strength that I appreciate so much; 

Rosy, you’re unique, don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise, that’s why they pick on you. You’re different, amazingly different. There’s just something about your sparkle that makes them feel insecure. Don’t let them break you down’, 

but at that moment in time, I felt absolutely disgusted with myself. Isn’t that what abuse does?

 

Mentally and physically tortured

Yes you read right; tortured! That’s how it felt. Going to school everyday, wondering if I should just stand in front of the road and let that lorry run me over. Or just run away altogether so that I don’t have to face these animals.

There’s one incident that still haunts me to this day. I was standing in the playground (by myself) and a group of maybe 50-60 boys and girls were heading towards me and surrounded me. They taunted me and threatened to beat me up. And I kept praying that they would. Even though I didn’t really believe in God at that time, I kept praying ”Please God, let them kill me!” 

Although I wasn’t touched that day, I felt like my soul had been scarred. And to make it worse, the next day, one of the boys kicked a football so hard at my head, that I fell unconscious. Yet no-one rushed to my aid. Not even the teachers.

 

High School was just as bad

Going into high school wasn’t any better. I had my head flushed down the toilet, rumors spread about me being a prostitute and lesbian. Girls wanted to fight me because I spoke to a boy they liked, or I was hanging around the boys they liked.

At the age of 10 a similar incident happened again, involving around 70 kids. We were all sat in the hall because it was raining outside during break. A girl approached me and began hurling abuse. I can’t remember what exactly it was about, and then all of a sudden the hall just gathered around me and threw food. I ran to the toilet, locked the door and cried. At that moment I felt so alone. I grabbed my pencil and tried digging it into my arm, I wanted to just end it all so badly. I couldn’t physically  scream or cry. But my soul was wrenched in pain, yearning for a way out. I stabbed at my arm for maybe a minute, until I just gave up and finally sobbed on the toilet floor.

Of course, the abuse continued. Girls regularly commented on my dress sense, my hair, my skin. I was regularly told that I’m going to get beaten up and that there’s nothing I could do about it. And I, 100% believed it.

This is the main thing about bullying; you believe the abuser. You believe they will harm you, even if they don’t. It’s a form of self-control because the abuser is SO weak and insecure; the only way to boost his/her ego, is to harm others they perceive as weak.

For me the bullying extended outside of school hours. I’d get regular phone calls with the song ‘who let the dogs out’ playing in the background. It was literally soul-destroying.

 

Zero self-esteem

As you can imagine being abused on a daily basis for no reason is enough to send anyone insane. I was suicidal.

I would regularly ask my Mom ‘why didn’t you abort me’? I was saying things like this from as young as 4. Yet, in a school full of teachers, not one adult decided that enough was enough.

Nope. Not. One. Single. Teacher.

I was seen as the problem, the issue, the one who wasn’t compromising. I was always getting in trouble, getting suspended; I was the cause of my own misery.

Teachers have such a huge influence on children nowadays because we spend most of our lives in school. They have enough leverage to bring a positive change to way children interact. For one, if you’re a teacher and you are aware that a child is being bullied: DO SOMETHING. And PLEASE, do NOT blame the victim!

At the age of 15, I no longer believed in myself. I didn’t feel adequate enough or worthy enough, of being a friend or even getting far in life. I was a failure in my mind. I felt utterly betrayed by the world and all that’s in it. I constantly asked myself whether it’s worth living. Whether anyone would notice if I just disappeared and died. Self-loathing was rife at this point.

And the sad part is that I felt needy. I needed to be loved, I needed friends. I turned to smoking, drinking; anything to just numb the pain. I became rebellious because it felt good to be in control of something. I stayed out late, hung out with the wrong people. All of this, because I was constantly picked on.

 

I didn’t always let them win

Although I felt utterly alone, I faked a smile everyday to school. It was like a ‘ha-ha in your face’ kind of thing. My mom advised me;

‘do not let them win. If you don’t go to school, they’re going to think they’ve won; stand up to them by just turning up’. 

I really thank my Mom for this (May Allah grant her Jannah Ameen). At the time, I was wondering why she wouldn’t change schools (well in all honesty she couldn’t; with 6 kids it was difficult enough raising us with NO support), but I am so glad that she didn’t.

Everytime I was ganged up on, or beaten, I returned to school the next day and my abusers were always left with nothing to say. I was left alone, maybe for a few days to a week and before I knew it, it started all over again.

 

I’m thankful for the experience

You’re probably thinking huh? After all that, she’s thankful?! Yes I am.

Leaving school was the best day of my life. I don’t miss it. Alhamdulilah, I have only one friend (she knows her name), who I’m still in contact with to this day. But one thing I’m grateful for is finding the strength to overcome the pain of bullying.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as well as a borderline-personality disorder from a young age. However, I’m completely cured and better than ever, because I chose to take the natural approach to my own healing. Alhamdulilah. The path to self discovery helped me find Allah and I don’t think I would be a Muslim, had I not gone through this test.

It was tough; even to this day, those negative voices creep up and sometimes get me down. But I don’t let them win. I persevere and remind myself that if I survived that kind of abuse, then I can survive anything.

And I don’t think I’d be the person I am today, had I not been bullied. I wouldn’t be as resilient, strong and persistent. I wouldn’t be as ambitious as I am right now. My love for helping and healing others, probably wouldn’t be as strong as it is now.

So, if there is one thing I could tell my younger self is that everything will work out in the end. No matter how hard it is, it’s going to be okay. And to anyone reading this, who’s going through a similar experience or is still suffering from the effects of bullying; it’s going to be okay insha’Allah (Allah Willing).

However in no way shape or form, is bullying/abuse acceptable. So if you’re being bullied I advise you to seek help. Do not suffer in silence. Find someone to talk to, even call the police if you have too. Do what you can, to stand up to bullying. From a person who survived the torment my one piece of advice is this;

JazakAllah khayrun for reading. I hope you found inspiration

If you have been affected by what I’ve written, or are being bullied in any way, then there are many organizations such as Bullying UK and the National Bullying Helpline that can help with advice and what to do. Do NOT suffer in silence.

2 In Mind

Do I Really Need A Niche?

Recently I sent a Whatsapp message to my good friend crying ‘what’s my niche? Help! What am I doing’? I felt so overwhelmed with the thought of having to narrow down my niche(again), that it sent me crackers.

As a wholistic health enthusiast one thing I struggle with is finding a niche. I actually get frustrated over the topic to the point that it makes me want to give up altogether.

But do I really need a niche? Who came up with this niche agenda? I’m a rebel (with a cause people), how daranyone tell me to compromise!

Image result for rebel with a cause meme

What is a niche? (which I pronounce n-ee-sh, because I’m a rebel duh!)

A niche is a specific problem that you help solve, for a specific group of people. The idea is that if you narrow down the scope to a very small demographic (like 50 year olds who live abroad with a boat and two sharks) then your marketing will be more targeted. Hmm. Sounds simple right?

Well not quite. When I first started blogging, I went from Islamic homeschooling, to natural beauty remedies to nutrition. And now I’m interested in all things motherhood (which is why I started my blog in the first place).

I have had this baby (my blog) for around 4 years. It’s been stagnant for a year or so because I was obsessing so much over my niche, that it actually gave me stage fright (or writing fright). I just couldn’t get my head around my ideal audience. Where do I start? How do people do this niche thing?

The fear was valid too. Choosing a niche at the beginning of my blogging adventure would have been like playing piñata; it was hit or miss.

And that’s why my website just accumulated dust (or no views to say so the least), because I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture.

Why you don’t need to panic over your niche

I’ll tell you a little secret; a lot of the famous blogs out there didn’t pick a niche before starting up (even if they say they did). Over time as they worked on their project, they found their topic and continued with it. Don’t believe me check out Jeff Goin’s on why picking a niche is bad advice. He makes a living from writing and thoroughly enjoys it.

The same is true for passion and purpose. A lot of people have many passions (ahem like me!) so sticking to one passion can feel so restricted. I know this feeling too well. I’ve lost precious sleep over whether I should stick to just talking about motherhood or make skin creams.

However I am not saying that you need to be everything for everyone. You’ll just end up feeling exhausted and unmotivated. There are plenty of other businesses for that purpose. So here are my tips to stand out from the crowd.

1. Tell your story

If you look at my About me page, you’ll see that my journey started from childhood. I’ve always been interested in health/nature/wellness. My mother (May Allah be pleased with her), was also a health guru. So if you’re struggling with your niche then chances are, that all you have to do is tell people why you do what you do. That way, you’ll attract people who can relate to your story. People are more likely to invest in something that they can relate to with themselves. So don’t be afraid, tell the world who you are.

2. Inspiration is key

If you’re doing what you do, for money or fame then chances are you’re not really feeling your brand. It’s just another get rich quick scheme because your goal is to gain something tangible. Of course, money has some influence over what you do but it shouldn’t be the main reason. Whatever inspires you should be the reason why you put in the work.

But don’t go for everything, don’t say yes to something that you’re not inspired by. Once you start checking yourself you’ll know where your focus lies. For me, my main goal is to get Muslimahs from around the world, eating healthy and feeling good, so that they can worship Allah properly. And this doesn’t have a monetary connotation to it.

So whenever I find something that inspires me to do that, I share it over here and my social media and with friends and family.

Image result for simples meme

3. Know Thyself (niche gets in the way of this)

You can’t start a business/brand/blog if your don’t know why you started. Otherwise it’s just going to go left and you’ll find the next project that excites you and keep jumping from project to project until you feel completely burned out. Having a niche kind of stops this too. If you don’t know your strengths, passions and the problems you can solve, your ideas will dwindle and you’ll be back at the drawing board, working on your next niche.

So get to know yourself. Maybe ask your friends/family to describe you in one word. One thing I like to do is ask my clients to describe what I do. And I’m always surprised with each answer. The best answer I ever got was ‘you help me believe in myself; something I had never done before’. Alhamdulillah (All Praises Due to Allah).

4. Perfection Belongs to Allah Swt

If you’re a perfectionist (guilty!) then you’ve probably had moments when you can’t do something because it’s not perfect. A simple way to get over this; perfection belongs to Allah ONLY. You can never have the perfect brand, the perfect business, the perfect idea; because all of these things fluctuate over time and most importantly are in the Hands of Allah Swt. So if you have that blog post that needs publishing, click publish. Have a YouTube channel?Get started with your first video. Got some products to advertise; go do it. It doesn’t need to be perfect. If anything it shows that your real and raw, and your journey will inspire others to start somewhere too.

5. Stop Trying to Label Yourself

You’re not on this earth to fit a specific label. Neither are you here to sell to everyone you meet. Sometimes we are so caught up in our business/brand that we forget who we really are. We forget what we truly represent. A friend once described me as ‘someone who lends a sympathetic ear; because that’s what we all need’. Alhamdulillah (All Praises Be to Allah).

Be you. Be real. Be raw.

And above all else, rely on Allah Swt, ask Him Swt to guide you and place barakaah (blessings) in all that you do. Aameen.

 

I hope this post benefitted you. Feel to comment below on your startup fears. And don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates.

 

 

0 In Mind

Declutter Your Health

Have you ever woken up in the morning utterly exhausted? The baby kept you awake or you simply couldn’t switch off. You walk into your living room and see toys everywhere, the kitchen sink full of dishes and last nights meal still on the table.

What do you do?

 

You reach inside the cupboard, grab a few biscuits maybe make some coffee and load it with sugar. All the while, basking in the stress of having to clear this mess up. By the time you finished eating that one biscuit, you find yourself reaching for more, as the stress of having to clear up sends your nerves AWOL.

How Clutter Affects Our Health

As a busy mom of two (soon to be three insha’Allah –  Allah Willing), I have been there and done that –  hoard.

I’ve hoarded clothes from when my kids came from the hospital. I’ve held on to that broken container ‘just in case‘ it comes in handy. I’ve held on to things for their sentimental and useful values.

But what happened in return? My house was a mess which in turn affected the health of my mind, body and spirit.

When we have too much stuff we feel stressed because;

  • It reminds us that we’re not looking after our stuff
  • We have things to do which we’re not keeping on top of.
  • and when we can’t find something, our brain goes into overdrive

When we get surrounded by too much stuff, we get frustrated which in turn can lead to unhealthy eating habits. Most unhealthy eating habits are of an emotional nature; having a disorganized home adds to this.

Decluttering Leads To Healthier Eating Habits

Studies show that a clutter-free environment allows you to perform tasks of daily living more efficiently because everything you need is readily available and within reach. This in turn allows you to focus on preparing healthier meals and keeping up with recipes.

For example, if the dishes are clean and put in a place that are easy to find and use; you are more likely to eat at home and actually enjoy cooking.

My clients often complain to me, about having to cook. Why can’t they just eat out? And I always ask about the state of their homes, especially the kitchen. 99.9% of the time, the issue isn’t with the cooking itself, it’s the fact that they don’t know where their cooking materials are. And it makes sense. As soon as your dishes are unwashed or all over the place, you’ll want to eat out more because the thought of having to clean up is too strenuous at the time of hunger.

Not to mention when your home is more organized, you feel more accomplished and less embarrassed or anxious about who will see your mess. This in turn improves your overall wellbeing and can really have a positive effect on those unhealthy eating habits.

This also reminds me of what the Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam said regarding eemaan (faith)

“Cleanliness is half the faith (Eemaan).” [Sahih Muslim]

This includes our living space, as this is where we spend the most time, with family and invoked in ibadaah (worship). So it makes sense to always keep this space clutter free and clean so that we can worship Allah properly.

Declutter Saves Time

The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam said;

”Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas in the Mustadrak of Hakim & Musnad Imam Ahmad. Sahih)

Time is so precious. Imagine the time you could save by not having to clean up so much. The hours you could use, dedicated in worship to Allah, with family and just enjoying your children. Think about all the you-time including exercising and cooking healthy and delicious meals.

Your physical space has a direct impact on your mental health. Visual bliss will help keep you calm and comfortable which is the key to optimal health.

How To Declutter?

Firstly you need to get to the issue. Which areas of the house are frustrating you the most? The kitchen is almost always the primary concern, as this is the often used space. Clearing out the kitchen can help you make healthier food choices in the future.

Write down the issues if you have too, as sometimes we can get overwhelmed with the present and future moment. Write down what aspects need to be sorted. For example; the spice rack needs to be organized. Make it a simple list and then check them off once you’ve done them.

Then you need to start. Say Bismillah (In the Name of Allah), use the 5 second rule (if you have to), with the sincere intention that you are cleaning that space, so that you can worship Allah properly. So that you can honour your eemaan (faith), by keeping it clean and clutter free.

The process

Take time that is uninterrupted and have 3 bags

  1. Charity
  2. Dispose
  3. and sale (if you want to have a boot/garage/yard sale)

Once you’ve sorted everything out then clean the space. Maybe buy pretty boxes to make the space more tidy. If it’s the kitchen area, you could buy pretty wooden/glass jars to keep your spices in, or cereals/nuts in.

Getting rid of unnecessary packaging can really benefit you, when trying to get healthy. When it’s in a clear jar, you’re more likely to use it.

Get used to labelling your storage systems. There’s nothing worse than taking a few hours to clear that space only to have it cluttered again. And if you have small children, labels are a good way of teaching kids new words because they’re on display.

And once that space is clear, you will feel motivated to carry on throughout the house and clear up any other unwanted junk. What a beautiful, clutter free home you’ll have in the end insha’Allah (Allah Willing).

Feeling inspired?

Can you see the benefit of decluttering for your overall wellbeing?

Do you want to feel the benefit of having a clutter free environment where you can enjoy life; Where you don’t have to worry about any mess or disorganization around you?

Then start today! As the Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam said “actions are judged by intentions” so make the intention that you want to declutter your home in order to improve your health, and in turn worship Allah properly.

May Allah keep our homes clean and our eemaan high aameen!

 

JazakAllah khayrun for reading. Feel free to comment below on your decluttering strategies.

Don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates!

5 In Mind

The 5 Second Rule for Better Health

I’m an avid book reader. I have around 1,000 books in my library (some in Saudi and some in the U.K.). I love all sorts of books from health to personal development.

Recently, I stumbled across this book called ‘The 5 Second Rule’ by Mel Robbins (not affiliated) and it has changed my life alhamdulillah (All Praises be to Allah)! It can change your life, worship and health too insha’Allah (if Allah Wills).

What is the 5 Second Rule

Ever wanted to change your habits, but always put it off until tomorrow? Have you intended to start eating healthy, but again you told yourself tomorrow?

The 5 second rule changes that. Our brains are on 2 modes; autopilot and emergency brake. Throughout our lives, we are on autopilot.

We wake up, shower, eat, go to work/school, check Facebook, pretend to do some work, check Facebook again, go home, eat, check Facebook again and sleep.

No wonder our minds are so comfortable. We are ALWAYS doing the same thing!

So when you decide to make a change your brain switches on the emergency brakes and the dialogue goes something like this;

You: “I need to stop eating these biscuits when I’m stressed. Maybe I should look up that cookie recipe…”

Brain: “Woah..woah… just hold on there Missy. You always eat these biscuits, why do you need to change now? I mean, 1 biscuit never harmed anyone, it’s just 1. Anyways, it’s not like you’re going to get diabetes from eating 1 measly biscuit. You have your whole life ahead of you, why stop now. Just one more biscuit and I promise we’ll stop… tomorrow…”

and the conversation goes on and on until you’ve eaten your way through a pack of custard creams.

Sound familiar? It’s not your brain’s fault. It’s been used to eating these biscuits every time it feels stressed. That’s how it’s been programmed since, well forever.

What the 5 second rule teaches us, is that our brains switch from autopilot to emergency brake in 5 seconds (in my case it’s 3 seconds). So you have a 5 second window to act upon something.

And when you use the 5 second rule, the pre-frontal cortex (where action happens) is activated and the back of your brain (where the autopilot button is and all the worries happen), is switched off.

How this coincides with Islam

We all know the infamous hadith; actions are judged by their intentions. Intention is so important when it comes to doing a good deed. When we look at the lives of the Sahabahs (May Allah be Pleased with them All) we notice them always rushing to do good. If someone was in need, the Sahabahs (RA) would race to gain the reward.

A story that illustrates this perfectly, and one that I love dearly, is between Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA).

Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah  ordered us to give charity and at the time I possessed some wealth. I said to myself, “If there is a day I can do better than Abu Bakr, then this is the one.” So I went with half of my wealth to the Messenger of Allah and he said, “What have you left for your family?” I said, “The same amount.” Then Abu Bakr came with everything he had. The Prophet said, “O Abu Bakr, what have you left for your family?” He said, “Allah and His messenger.” I said, “By Allah, I will never do better than Abu Bakr.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi 3675)

SubhanAllah (Glory Be to Allah)! Just look at Abu Bakr’s (RA) confidence. His certainty that no matter what, Allah will always provide for him and his family.

Now, let’s put ourselves in this situation. How would we react? Would we rush to gain some reward or would we ponder about what we need that money for? We’d sit there thinking of all the bills that need paying, the dress you wanted to buy etc. until what happens? You just forget about ever wanting to do that good deed.

Shaytaan (Satan), always wants to place doubt in our eemaan (faith); he always wants us to live in fear; that if we rush to good deeds we may lose out. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Allah says in the Qu’ran;

And every one has a direction to which he should turn, therefore hasten to (do) good works; wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together; surely Allah has power over all things. (Surah Al Baqarah: 148)

Scholars have noted that the words hasten to in fact mean to rush without delay, or without second thought.

Now, normally we are advised to always look at those who are poorer than us, so that we become more grateful and in turn less greedy. But this is not the case for good deeds. Allah encourages us to race (sprint, like you can see the finish line). Why? So that your abode can be Jannah Al Firdaws (Highest level in Paradise)!

 

How it can improve your health and ibadaah (worship)

In light of the above ayah and the 5 second rule; you have 2 invaluable tools that can give you the health/body you want which in turn will improve your ibadaah.

How?

Let’s say, you’ve just come back from school/work extremely stressed. You have so much work to do, and only a few hours before it’s bedtime to complete it.

Your mind is all over the place and it just wants to relax. You see those packets of biscuits on the table over there, but next to it you also see that delicious red apple that you promised yourself, to eat.

As you remind yourself that you were going to eat that apple count backwards 5-4-3-2-1 and then walk towards that apple. Grab it. Look at it and eat it.

What happens is, when you count backwards, you make the pre-frontal cortex (remember the action part of the brain), to kick in to gear and focus. Your brain, concentrates heavily on that red apple while your counting. This in turns makes you want to act, so your brain sends signals to your nerves to walk towards that apple and eat it.

Our bodies are amazing right subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah). Just by doing this simple thing, it can help you really stay on top of your health insha’Allah (Allah Willing).

How the 5 Second Rule helped me

Alhamdulilah (All Praises be to Allah), Allah has blessed me with the opportunity of living in a country where I hear the athaan (call to prayer) five times a day. I’m constantly reminded of my purpose in life; which is to worship Allah Swt (The Most Glorified).

Pondering over the ayahs (verses) regarding good deeds and applying the 5 second rule in my life has proven to be so invaluable. Whenever I think of doing something (halal and good of course), I rush to do it.

I count backwards; 3-2-1 GO ROSY! I shout it if I have to, because for me that’s the only way to break the habit of procrastinating and wondering what if.

Remember this; Allah always wants good for you. All you have to do is place your FULL trust in Him Swt.

 

I really hope you benefitted from this post. If you did, don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates.

 

0 In Health

Health Benefits of Eating on the Floor

The floor isn’t just to be walked on; you can eat on it too.

The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam once said;

I do not eat whilst reclining (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith No 4979)

With the advancement of technology, one would think that health would improve. Yet our health is a lot worse than what it was 50 years ago. Why? Because with technology we have become arrogant, forgotten how to listen to our bodies and in turn have turned to gluttony.

In this post I want to share with you the Sunnah of eating on the floor. Let’s all revive this Sunnah insha’Allah.

Aids in weight loss

I get a lot of questions on how to lose weight and one of the things I like to ask my clients are their eating habits. I’m a massive advocate of mindful eating, which simply means engaging with your food. Nowadays, we are sat in front of the T.V. or on our phones, so our sense of touch, smell, taste and sight are never fully activated.

However, when we sit on the floor it activates the ‘vagus’ nerve (the nerve which transmits signals between the stomach and the brain) and thus allows your stomach to tell your brain, when its full.

The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam would sit either kneeling or resting on the top of his feet. Basically, the position wouldn’t be as comfortable as someone lying down. An-Nawwai commented that the Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam would ‘sit like one who is going to get up quickly and thus would eat a little’.

When you sit in this position you are more than likely to eat less and feel fuller quicker, which is line with the Shar’iah.

How amazing is the Sunnah! Everything that the Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam did had some sort of health benefit, subhanAllah (Glory be to God).

Helps your muscles and improves posture

Sitting down in a chair to eat does funny things to our bodies. It stretches out our glutes, making them inactive, loose, and weak. People no longer know how to activate their butt muscles due to excessive amounts of chair sitting. Sitting in a chair also keeps the hip flexors in a short, tight and in a contracted position for extended amounts of time, which can inhibit full hip extension and lead to that hunched over position you often see older folks with. And that’s not even mentioning the extensive (and growing) literature showing how sitting for too long increases mortality and degenerative disease. 

Sitting becomes a totally passive act, where we’re slumped over, shoulders rounded, feet twisted up and resting on the chair legs, totally dependent on the structure of the chair to support our weight – rather than using our musculature and arranging our skeletal system in such a way that we support ourselves.

You could say chairs are the GMO of the furniture world.

We’re getting progressively weaker and more reliant on the backing of the chair, and when we’re in a sitting situation without added back support, we can’t handle it. Instead of sitting erect, shoulders back, strong and straight, head held high; we just slump over and use the curvature of our spine to support our bodies. If you don’t believe me, start watching for it. Look around at your colleagues, family, and friends, and see how they sit. Most people slump.

People who sit on the floor around the world, are known to live longer and be able to carry heavy items, even into their old age. The squat position is effortless for them and science proves that it’s because they sit on the floor.

Improves digestion

Sitting on the floor and eating assists in better digestion. When the plate is in the front, your body has to bend forward to pick the food up. You move back & forth and then return to the sitting position. This constant movement helps activate the abdomen muscles throughout the meal and further, secretes better digestive juices. All of this will ensure that the food is digested properly and quickly.

Improves circulation

If you are someone, who sits on the floor to eat, then you must have observed that you feel warmer and at times sweaty as well. Ever thought why? It is because when you eat, your stomach requires energy to digest it. According to experts, one of the important elements of digestion is a proper blood circulation. In order to maintain the process, our heart works overtime to assist the digestive system.

Now, this is exactly where sitting on the floor and eating helps. The heart obtains the benefits when the blood is pumped to the digestive organs. On the other hand, when you take dining table and chair, the pattern of blood flow is just the opposite. It directly goes to your legs, making it harder for the digestive system to function.

Lubricates the knee and hip joints

As noted above about the muscles, sitting on the floor to eat, also helps keep your joints flexible. The more you practice sitting on the floor the more flexible your joints will become thus you are less likely to be prone to arthritis.

It’s humbling

The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam is reported to have said;

I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits. (Narrated by Abu Ya’laa, 8/318)

Sitting on the floor grounds you. As Muslims we should constantly remind ourselves of our final abode; the grave. Being on the ground to eat, can give a grateful perspective on your life and on people around you.

It helps calm your mind and really focus on your food and the environment around you.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates.

0 In Mind

How negativity affects your health

On the authority of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (radiAllahu anhu), the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) said:

The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.

[Bukhari and Muslim]

Have you ever been around someone or a group of people and just felt stressed out? Are there times when negative people or their opinions trigger a negative response within you? Do you feel tainted, affected, with no resolve after being around a certain group of people or person.

If so, then I can wholeheartedly confirm that this is not just a figment of your imagination; negative vibes, people and energies can affect your health and overall wellness.

I love the above hadith; being around a good friend is likened to perfume and being around a bad friend is likened to an awful smell. This is a great metaphor when dealing with negative people/situations; stay away or be prepared to get burned by their flames.

The brain and negativity

You may have heard the analogy of the brain being compared to a computers hard drive. This couldn’t be more true, because once the brain receives information, it becomes embedded into its neurons. Once that information is embedded it can be difficult to remove, just like when trying to remove information from a computer.

Interacting with negative people, situations and energies not only changes the structure of the brain, but memories of those interactions get stored at cellular level, long after that particular event took place.

The negative event creates ‘neural traffic’ to and from the central nervous system and triggers a ‘fight or flight’ response. As we all know, the fight or flight response is an automatic response that puts our bodies on high alert. The adrenal glands release stress hormones, the heart begins to beat rapidly and the thyroid gland begins to stimulate the metabolism. This all happens when we perceive a negative situation.

The immune system

When we are around negativity, we get highly stressed, hence why our bodies turns on its ‘fight or flight’ response. Too many studies have shown that stress can impact your immune system, by inhibiting the good disease-fighting cells, to proliferate.  A weakened immune system is more prone to illness and in some severe cases lead to a heart attack.

You’re probably think im exaggerating but stress is the number one cause of health problems. Stress can trigger IBS, autoimmune diseases and so much more. Avoid negativity and you avoid stress.

Say ‘good-bye’

Don’t wait until a toxic person in your life has brought you so far down that you forget how to get back up. You need to surround yourself with people who inspire you, encourage you and help you realize your potential.

As Muslims it’s ideal for us to hang around people who remind us of our ultimate goal; Jannah. Which reminds me of the following hadith;

The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wasalaam) was reportedly asked: “Which of our companions are best?” He replied: “One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter.” (Bukhari)

If you’re encountering a negative crowd at work, consider getting a mentor. I’ve always been fortunate to have a mentor who pushes me to dream bigger and expect more from myself. Mentors often have a larger vision for us than we have for ourselves, and their confidence in our potential inspires us to reach higher, than we could have imagined on our own. So get inspired!

Set Limits (Especially With Complainers)

Granted, there are people who you can’t eliminate from your life (at least not right away), like co-workers or bosses, family members. Thankfully, there are some proven ways to protect your positive attitude from the influence of others, even if you’re stuck with them for 8+ hours a day.

Complainers and negative people wallow in their problems. Often, they want people to join their negativity party. And, often we feel pressure to listen to these negative individuals (especially if you’re an INFJ personality; boy do we get caught up!) because we don’t want to be seen as rude. But there’s a huge difference between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into others’ negative emotional tornadoes.

You can avoid all this by setting limits and distancing yourself when possible. Think of it this way: if the negative person was smoking instead, would you sit there inhaling the second-hand smoke?

No . You’d distance yourself, and you should do the exact thing same with toxic people. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either stop their negativity or redirect the conversation towards positivity.

Choose Your Battles

Don’t engage every time someone irritates you or tries to bring you into their negativity.

This reminds me of a famous hadith

    “Once, a person was verbally abusing Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) while the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wasallam) was curiously watching with a smile. After taking much abuse quietly, Abu Bakr responded to a few of his comments. At this, the Prophet exhibited his disapproval, got up and left. Abu Bakr caught up with the Prophet and wondered, ‘O Messenger of Allah, he was abusing me and you remained sitting. When I responded to him, you disapproved and got up.’ The Messenger of Allah responded,
    ‘There was an angel with you responding to him. When you responded to him, Shaitan took his place.’

SubhanAllah (Glory Be to Allah)! There’s such wisdom in not replying to negative rhetoric. So work on your emotional intelligence and prevent the situation from escalating. Walk away from unnecessary conflict — you’ll be respected for taking the high road.

Make Someone Else Smile

Smile. It’s charity [Bukhari]

I absolutely love the concept of making other people happy, just to improve your own happiness. Making someone else smile is just so rewarding. A positive attitude is always contagious.

Multiple scientific studies have shown that being the positive one, not only makes others feel better, but creates long-lasting feelings of joy within yourself, and can provide that much-needed boost to your overall mood.

So make someone smile today without expecting anything in return. Smile at your kids. Do something special for your husband/wife. Make your mom/dad happy. Do something that will put a smile on the face, of the people around you.

When your thoughts become negative

From time-to-time we get negative thoughts; its human nature. But it’s how we react to these thoughts that make a whole load of difference.

Instead of being harsh on yourself, think about all the positive things about yourself. Write them down and memorize them. Every time you feel negative about yourself, read that list and remind yourself that you’re not as bad as you make yourself to be.

A lot of us were raised around difficult circumstances that affected our self-esteem and the way we perceive ourselves. Loving yourself nowadays is translated as being arrogant or ‘up yourself’ (as us Northerners like to call it).

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself! The first step to happiness is being in complete acceptance of yourself and respecting yourself enough, to not listen to those negative thoughts.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates and spread the likes on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

4 In Mind

Dealing with Post-Natal Depression

Giving birth to my beautiful baby boy was probably the most empowering experience I have ever endured. I slow labored for two days and then finally gave birth at 5.35pm, March 21st 2012. He weighed just 3.6kg and was the cutest thing ever. Holding him was a dream that had finally come true.

My amazing sister/friend (Ayan I love you), was there through it all. She caught a plane from Sweden just to attend the birth. It was truly a special moment that strengthened bonds forever.

I stayed in hospital for a few days because my bundle of joy was having difficulty latching on. Midwives tried pushing formula milk on me but I kindly declined. Finally, I was brave enough to go home and just be with my baby. Alone.

And that’s when it happened. All those feelings of joy, love and excitement were soon replaced with dread, fear and loneliness.

How did I go from one extreme to the other. Waking up in the middle of the night to feed, sore nipples, painful urination from tearing during labor, mastitis; it all piled up in the end. Nobody warned me that it would be this tough. Nobody prepared me for this moment. Here I was, staring at my baby screaming and thinking of ways to shut him up. And it was at this moment, that I shut down. My feelings and my being just broke down.

More than just ‘baby-blues’

As days went on I began feeling more and more agitated. I was alone, with a new-born baby and I had never imagined it to be this way. I was going through a divorce and my family lived so far away, so the only thing I could do, was call my mother (which was difficult when holding a screaming baby).

I no longer had time for myself. I couldn’t shower in peace or even use the toilet. How could this small being turn my world upside down? Breastfeeding was a nightmare; I developed mastitis as he was just not latching on properly. Health visitors came round and kept telling me to preserve, it will get easier. This is normal. Meanwhile all I wanted to do was hide away from my baby and myself.

I was overcome with severe fatigue. There were days where I would just lie in bed and not get up at all. Baby slept next to me so it wasn’t difficult attending to his needs. I had no appetite either which wasn’t good for my breast milk.

I hated looking in the mirror. I felt ugly and fat. At one point I remember my son crying and I just sat in the bathroom crying with my hands over my ears. I felt so powerless. This is not how imagined motherhood.

When friends came over I put on my poker face and faked happiness. I diverted questions about how I felt and just made them focus on my son. Faking a smile was probably the hardest thing to do. They weren’t just my friends, they had become my family. But I felt like they wouldn’t understand and I didn’t want to burden them with my problems. So I just plodded along hoping this feeling would just go away. But it didn’t.

That day

And then it all just became too much. I rang my mother and told her I was coming to stay with her for a few days. But I didn’t mention that my son would be staying with her, and I was planning to go on holiday for a few days. I even contemplated not coming back.

I had no feelings of guilt. I couldn’t care less. I felt as though I was rebelling. That I was making a stand against  motherhood. Motherhood wasn’t for me. I decided to quit.

When I arrived at my mothers I gently broke the news that I’m leaving for Oman tomorrow. Of course, my mom stood there horrified. “Are you taking baby”? I just shook my head; “I don’t want him”. My mom at this point realized I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, but instead of coming down on me like a tonne of bricks, she supported my decision to go.

Leaving my son behind wasn’t difficult at all. I had already told myself, that this is what I need. I couldn’t wait to just get on the plane and fly away from the hectic life called motherhood. So it was good-bye baby and hello sunny Oman.

My first day there was amazing. I sat on the beach and just soaked in the glorious sun. I messaged my family maybe twice just to check on them. When they told me about my son, my answers were short and abrupt. All I could imagine is him screaming, but my heart, felt nothing.

A few days had passed and I was starting to miss home. As I was walking along the beach, I saw a family with two young children. The mother was chasing them and the children were full of laughter and joy. Her youngest was probably a year old, and she just picked him up and spun him around in the air. The happiness in their eyes was indescribable. It was at this point that all my emotions decided to just release themselves. I just burst out crying and couldn’t stop.

Getting help

My stay in Oman was short. As soon as I got home I ran to my son and hugged and kissed him. I told my mom how I’d been feeling since giving birth and being the amazing woman that she is, advised me to seek help for post-natal depression.

She reassured me that it happens a lot with first time mothers, as she had been through it herself. But back then there was no name for it and mothers were just expected to pretend those feelings didn’t exist.

So I booked an appointment with my doctor who put me in contact with an amazing counselor. She helped me identify my emotions, triggers and gave coping strategies. Her experience with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well as interpersonal therapy, really helped identify problems that I had in relationships, and how that subsequently affected me.

One thing I learnt from having post-natal depression is to always seek help. No matter how bad you feel, no matter how ashamed you feel; seek help. I don’t know how my relationship with my son would be right now, if I didn’t get help.

A really good organisation is PANDAS who give advice and support for pre and post-natal depression.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you would like some advice on post-natal depression then feel free to email me on health@umm-natural.com

 

 

0 In Soul

My Journey To Islam

Have you ever wondered your purpose in life? What you’ve been put on this Earth to do? Why you’ve been created; just for fun, eat, sleep and then die?

When I was young I had a feeling that something Higher was watching me, that I would be held accountable for everything I did. I just didn’t know how to acknowledge Him or worship Him. And that’s how I found Islam.

Childhood

I remember my friend asked me if I believed in heaven and hell. My response was ‘hell is on Earth and heaven is when you die’. I was adamant on this fact. My Mom was raised as a shia Muslim, but she never really practiced it.

Unfortunately, I born into an abusive home. My father was Muslim, but wasn’t practising. My earliest memories from childhood, is my father trying to kill my mom and the memory still haunts me to this day.

We subsequently ran away when I was four years old and went from refuge to homeless shelters for over a year. Mom was finally given a house but we had nothing to make it a home. All six of us, slept on a mattress whilst my mom stayed awake making sure we were comfortable (May Allah be pleased with her aameen).

We were quite poor for a while, until we received financial assistance from the government. Unfortunately, because Mom ran away, her family also disowned her. Being divorced in Persian culture is seen as a huge shame. So not only did I enter this world without knowing the love of a dad; I also didn’t enjoy the love of an extended family.

I went to a predominately south-asian school, and was severely bullied until the end of high school. This was the main reason why I didn’t really believe in God. I mean, how could God let cruel people beat me and bully me on a daily basis? Where was the justice? And I still don’t know why I was bullied. The only thing I can think of, is being raised in a broken home. I was asked a lot where my father was and my reply was always the same ‘I don’t know but let me know when you find him’.

As I was always trying to find myself in life, I appropriated different cultures. Sometimes I would hang with the black kids, then other days the white kids. And the asian kids occasionally. People ask me why I don’t know anything about my culture. Well, my mother was to busy trying to survive as a single mother with six kids. She didn’t know what her own culture was, as she was raised to just cook and clean.

Christianity to Jehovah

Mom was always searching for her purpose in life. As kids we used to go to church with our christian neighbor. She was really lovely and always made sure we were well looked after. I remember going to Sunday service and not really understanding what’s going on.

We read the Bible and the only thing that didn’t make sense to me, was Jesus being God and the Trinity concept. Time passed and then we turned to Jehovah Witness. This was when I was around 12-13 years old. I remember going to their services with a notepad, writing things about the apocalypse.

As Mom was searching for validation, she would ask questions at the service and one of them was about accountability. Jehovah witnesses don’t believe in a soul and to this my mother disagreed. So we stopped going and remained plato for a while.

Atheism

After leaving school I started modelling. I went through a rebellious stage where I stayed out most nights and partyed. Most of my friends at this time were Muslim, but I didn’t really know what Islam was. I knew Muslims prayed and I sometimes prayed. Praying was like deep meditation for me. But in my heart I still did not believe. I followed the crowd as I wanted to fit in. Growing up without a father, aunties, uncles and grandparents made me drift between different cultures, in the hope of just fitting in. But I didn’t. I actually used to believe that Islam was run by male chauvinists, who believed women are created to just cook, clean and have babies.

I wore the hijab once and Mom completely disapproved of it because she believed it was dictated by men. She actually didn’t like Islam at this point. I think she was dwelling into Hinduism because she would mention there were many Gods. So I just carried on modelling, partying and being a rebellious teenager.

God wasn’t a part of my life at this point, but it was always at the back of mind. Modelling was just a hobby for me; I actually despised it. Being on show for the validation of men (all my go-sees were men telling me how to look), made me sick to my core. But I wanted to be accepted and I felt this was the only way how.

Around the age of 20 I got involved in the wrong crowd, thus compromising my studies at Uni (I was studying law). The only way for me to move forward in my life, was to move out of mom’s home and to another city. It was hard at first; I missed my family and the comfort of my mother’s love. Soon enough I was going back to my old ways and that’s when it happened.

The turning point

When I left home I met some Muslim sisters who are still dear friends to this day. As I was trying so hard to just be accepted; when asked if I was a Muslim my answer was yes. Even though I wasn’t.

I attended a few of the ISOC meetings and really enjoyed the sense of belonging, love and warmth that I received from these sisters. And that’s also how I met my husband. In fact, he was also studying Law and we just so happened to be in the same lectures as each other. But he was extremely shy and never approached me.

As I was a lazy student (I seriously don’t know why I studied Law), I would miss most of my lectures and seminars. So, I embarked on a mission to find someone’s notes that I could copy and it ended up being my husband. As we were discussing the lecture outside he abruptly said he had to leave to go pray. At this point I didn’t know that he was a Muslim.

My reaction was to ask ‘oh to Jesus’, and he said ‘no to Allah’. Honestly, my world stopped when I heard these words. First of all, I had never met a Black Muslim and secondly just hearing him say Allah, made my heart stop. I was wearing a short dress and just remember having an overwhelming feeling to cover up.

As I had many Muslim friends I began quizzing him on the 5 pillars of Islam etc and he answered them all correctly. Let me tell you, I was in complete awe  like I had discovered something completely new.

Shahadah

I didn’t see my husband for a week or so after this encounter, but the profound effect had me searching for answers. When I finally bumped into my husband again, the first thing I asked was ‘why do women wear hijab’? He said that he would have the answer, by the end of the day.

So I waited and he presented me with an A4 piece of paper titled ‘The Pearl” (I still have it this day, bless him!). He’d gone out of his way to type up all the reasons why women wear hijab and asked me to read a chapter from the Quran called Al-Ahzab. I immediately went home and looked up this chapter and stumbled across this verse;

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Al Ahzab:59)

As I looked further into this verse I found the following hadith;

May Allaah have mercy on the Muhaajir women. When Allaah revealed the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)”, they tore the thickest of their aprons (a kind of garment) and covered their faces with them. (Sahih Al Bukhari)

SubhanAllah, it sent shivers down my spine. These women, were acting on their own accord. No husband, father, brother, uncle or grandparent forced them to cover their faces. They did it out of fear of their Lord.

At this point my world just felt completely different. I felt complete, like I had found the missing piece to the puzzle. All my life I had been searching, my soul was yearning for peace and I finally found it. I broke down and cried, asking Allah to forgive me and to accept me amongst his believers. Then I recited the shahadah, with no hesitation. Whilst saying it, I felt a HUGE weight lift off of me, like I was a brand new person. I stayed up all night crying, praying, thanking Allah for guiding me. I too wanted to be like the Muhaajir women, so I made a scarf into a niqab and wore it to Uni the next day.

And Lord did the crowd go wild! Literally. Walking into that lecture hall was probably the most exhilarating experience of my life. Everyone was figuring out who I was and when they realized; some greeted me whilst others shunned me away. But I was so content I couldn’t have cared less.

And oh yes, I married my husband 3 months later alhamdulilah.

There you go folks. I hope you enjoyed reading my story about how I came to Islam. Feel free to comment below.

2 In Soul

Advice For A Healthy Marriage

Okay ladies, this post is for you. Before you start hissing and booing, and asking why not for the men, let me explain.

I’ve been married for nearly seven years allahumma barik alaayki, and it has been a series of trials and tribulations. We separated for a few years and reconciled 3 years ago. Recently, a dear sister of mine recommended a book for me to read called “Fascinating womanhood” by Helen Andelin. And it’s beyond fascinating! I recommend all you lovely ladies to purchase a copy.

Marriage isn’t perfect (Perfection belongs to Allah only)

No marriage is perfect. So, whatever you see on social media, is just a fabricated version of what that particular couple want you to see. It’s easy to take a picture smiling with your hubby, but no less than 5 mins ago you were arguing about who’s cooking dinner. A still photo shouldn’t be the reason why you feel inadequate in your marriage.

I used to compare my marriage to others and that’s part of the reason why me and husband ended up separating. I didn’t understand the role of a woman in a marriage (men have roles too, but I’m writing about us). Empower yourselves by understanding who you are.

Us women are the Queens of our homes; so if we don’t understand our positions, then how do we expect to have a healthy marriage. It’s like trying to fly a plane without taking lessons.

Yes marriage is 100/100 from both sides. I don’t believe in that 50/50 malarkey. And after reading Fascinating Womanhood I have  FINALLY understood that it’s really women who lead men, to be the best versions of themselves.

But before I go into the top tips I want to say to all you ladies; that your worth is immeasurable. We are the world’s mothers; a unique quality that only we possess. As women we have great courage (more so than men). Imagine, we give birth and sacrifice our youth and bodies to nurture our children. That takes a lot of courage.

We are sensitive and nurturing. Imagine a world without this trait; how cold and unloving it would be. But us women, possess such great qualities regardless of whether we’re married, divorced or single.

Our worth is not defined by what a man can give us but what we give to the world. I hope you’re aware of this ladies!

Okay, so here are my top 3 tips for a healthy marriage

1. Submission

Please don’t freak out. I know you hate the dreaded S word; submission. You’re probably thinking I’ve lost it and are on the verge of throwing your laptop/phone out of the window. But submission is not such a bad word. I can think of many other words beginning with the letter S, that are far more offensive.

The problem with the word submission, is the images we attach to it. When you heard submission, you probably saw yourself kneeling in front of your husband saying ‘your Majesty, I am at your service’.

What if I told you that everyday you submit to something in your environment. For example, you submit to your boss at work by being there on time, doing what is required from you. Sometimes you go the extra mile to please your boss by doing something out of your job description. And that’s where the real submission lies.

Submission should really be defined as making the lives of people in your home better. It should answer the question ‘how can I make my husband’s life better’? Yes you can make your dreams come true. Submission doesn’t mean you give up your dreams and just become an entity. Go do what makes you happy, but when it comes to love, surrender. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down.

So if you want a healthy marriage you have to be willing to create one. Being endearing towards your husband will only bring out the best in him. Take it from someone who’s been fighting with the word submission since forever!

 

2. Allow him to lead

This is paramount. As women we are created differently than men. Men are the protectors and breadwinners. It’s part of their DNA. This doesn’t mean that they can’t help in the home by cooking and cleaning, but if you were to put masculine qualities in higher ranking order, then protector and breadwinner will be in the top 2.

Our beloved Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam used to help out in the home, cook and clean and sew his own clothes. But this wasn’t his main role. He sallahu alayhi wasallam was out tending to the affairs of society, ensuring everyone got their rights including his wives.

Nowadays women have been subjected to the ‘Miss Independant’ mentality. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being independent. As women, we need to have some independence. But when this conflicts with your role as a Queen in the home, that’s where the problems arise.

So when making decisions; whether they be big or small, ask his opinion. Leave it open to him (if possible), always use the word we, instead of I.

I’ve been using this trick for a while now and it’s worked wonders. So go ahead and give it a try.

3. Admire him

A lot of women think that by complimenting your husband, it will make his ego huge, thus causing more drama in your marriage. Wrong.

Have you noticed how children react when we compliment them? When we praise them and give them a treat in turn for their hard work, what do you see? You see your child puff his chest out and feel great about him/herself.

This is also innate in our husbands. Husbands love knowing they’re appreciated.

When telling your husband you admire him, make specific points such as his masculinity, his work or his looks. Men love being admired for their looks (it’s not just limited to us women). So when he’s looking handsome, or looking extra sharp for work; compliment him. Make him feel like he’s the only guy in the world that possesses such handsomeness. Trust me it works every time.

Please note: I am in no way advocating women to stay in an abusive relationships, whether it’s physical, verbal or mental (or all three). If you’re suffering at the hands of domestic abuse, I urge you to get help. This post is by no means meant to encourage women, to stay with an abusive partner.

I hope you enjoyed reading my post. Feel free to comment your thoughts below.