Time; God’s Great Thing.

A memory-maker

A dream spinner,

a way to heal, to transform.

Where, in the long stretches,

do moments turn into memory?

August Popsicles dripping down a summer dress

Warm Septembers,

Rusty, breezy Octobers,

Chilly Novembers giving way to winter,

and those nights I used to write and write.

Countless seasons have passed me by,

I am left clinging to childhood, to a carefree

sense of wild freedom,

of so much time to do so much,

and now, too many distractions,

and too little time.

 

Nesha Usmani

 

whether a princess or a prince.

you are but a tiny thing

barely four inches of existence

with blood and body I carry

but have not yet seen.

For a decade now, I’ve prayed for you

to one day become a part of me.

You are part of two,

two that love and cherish each other

who love and cherish you.

Whether you are to be

a wild-haired princess;

free spirited, huge-hearted,

brimming over with adventures

or

a benevolent prince,

wide-eyed,

eager for knowledge,

with enough wisdom and love

for a hundred men

Whether a princess or a prince,

We wait for you with barely constrained

impatience, and so, so much hope.

 

Nesha Usmani

On Being in an Inter-Ethnic Marriage

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

On May 23rd 2015, I married a person that Allah has made, to and for me, a mercy, a companion, a confidante, and the other half of my deen. And in the 108 days since, he has become so much more to me, alhamdulillah.

My wedding was a more simple take on a traditional Pakistani wedding. Unlike most, I had a nikkah ceremony at my house, followed by a reception the next day. Those two days were filled with a happiness I have never felt, alhamdulillah.

The wedding was different. There was no dancing, no rukhsati under a Qur’an, nor was there a Pakistani groom!

My husband, you see, is Bosnian.

Have you ever stolen a Bosnian groom’s shoes at his wedding, and held it ransom as his Bosnian family tried to haggle it back? (hilarious)

Or sat among a group of Bosnians, smiling, and having no idea what was being said aside from “Hoces li kava?” or “hvala” or “hajde”

Or tried very hard not to be an absolute animal when your mother-in-law makes burek or pita (but you failed)

These past three months have been such a learning experience for me. Personally, I think I have it much easier than others who decided to marry outside their ethnic pool. It’s especially gratifying to introduce my husband to different Indian/Pakistani foods, and see his palate change from meat-and-potatoes to biryani, samosa chaat, korma, tikka masala, firni, and the like! My mother-in-law won’t say no to samosa chaat, either!

And of course, since I currently live with my in-laws, I’ve been taught how to make a a mean cup of Bosnian coffee, make baked mushrooms and eggplant, and uhh eat a lot of pita (haven’t learned that yet).

My relationship with my father-in-law (svekar) is really special, I think (inshAllah). He knows more Bosnian than English, but can understand and hold a conversation easily. Since living with my husband’s family, I have picked up some Bosnian, but I can understand a lot more than I can speak. But even so, we manage to talk a lot. As a result, his English has gotten better (or I’d like to think so) and my understanding of Bosnian has improved, too. Though, I’m not confident enough to speak it, yet!

It’s a very different household from the way I grew up. I think that’s where some of the challenges have been. Every household has different rules, and when you move into your husbands place, you have to adapt. You have to.

For me, not knowing the language has been the greatest obstacle, but making a sincere effort to understand and learn is probably the biggest respect I can give them. That, and adapting to the way they do things. It’s still challenging, and sometimes it feels insurmountable.

But, the journey is in the challenge, and the reward in sincere effort comes from Allah.

I have already enjoyed the fruits of my efforts, alhamdulillah. I feel close to my in-laws, and have basked in the glory of having received the coveted approval of my husbands 4 yr old cousin… he may only like me because I let him play Spiderman and Temple Run on my phone and Kindle. Even so, the smile on that kids face when he sees me makes me feel pretty awesome.

InshAllah, I’ll be able to continue writing about my life in this regard, and may Allah reward and protect the precious marriages that are made for His sake, Ameen!

🙂

These are a Few of my Favorite [Tea] Things

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

My husband and I drink tea. But only one of us really love it. Or should I say, only one of us is really obsessed.

Like, if there is no tea in the house I have obviously taken it with me somewhere you will never find me. Or I drank it all.

I probably drank it all.

I haven’t written much since gettin’ hitched to the awesome guy I call my husband, but I have been collecting tea and coffee and the little innovations that make them so much more enjoyable.

Here are a few of my favorite [tea] things.

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 My snazzy red kettle, without which tea would take way too long to make and would require a trip to the kitchen.

It was my first newlywed purchase and it’s ever so useful. A plump and pretty thing, I got it for about $30 from Amazon. The brand is Hamilton Beach.

Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZG8Q88/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1438981545&sr=1&keywords=red+kettle


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This is Teavana’s Perfectea Maker. 

I actually bought this for my husband thinking he’d become a tea connoisseur, but alas, this didn’t happen.

To dream wildly is often its own punishment.

 It’s not too expensive. This one makes about two cups of tea, which is about one serving for me. I love this handy gadget because I’ve fiddled with so many loose leaf tea sieves and sieve spoons and sieve chains and sieve teapots and nothing ever really works as well as this thing. You fill it with your favorite loose leaf tea and some hot water, and let it brew. Then you place it on top of your tea mug, the rim of which pushes up on its whatchmacallit and dispenses the tea straight into your cup. Just watch how much you’re pouring, and set it down on its drain plate to catch any drops. It is plastic, but Teavana also makes a glass one, or some poly-plastic type material that looks and feels like glass. The only downside is that it’s a bit challenging to clean.

Here it is on Teavana’s Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Teavana-PerfecTea-Tea-Maker-16oz/dp/B004X7DIHI/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1438982052&sr=1-1&keywords=Perfectea


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Tea for two, two for tea?

My father gave me this beautiful cast iron tea pot and tea cup set a few years ago. It’s wonderful to use and beautiful to look at. The floral designs on the pot are dogwood flowers and I believe the plates have them, too, if I’m not mistaken. It has a sieve attachment for loose leaf tea. It’s a pretty small teapot, you could make a nice strong green tea or some oolong in this and it would be perfect.

It is from Teavana, and can be anywhere from $40 to $100 dollars. I have tried to look for the dogwood design but I haven’t found it

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Just a peek at my current tea collection. I have much more stashed away, somewhere. Nuts.com has more than nuts and chocolate, it has tea!! I got a bag of their gunpowder tea and their matcha tea (not pictured). Unfortunately, I don’t have a bamboo matcha whisk (soon!), so I still have yet to try that. But the gunpowder tea is everything you think it tastes like. Bitter, strong, earthy.

Husband and I are not big fans of fruit teas. He’s tried it but I haven’t had that one yet. The copper Teavana bag is filled with their gingerbread tea, which were favors from my amazing surprise bridal shower. I stole the ones left from the people who didn’t come! Bahaha! The Perfectea box is stuffed with other tea from the bridal shower. I took them all. I am without mercy.


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Here they are!

Also – My amazing sister Areej and my friend
Sunny D (her real name has been modified, this is her super hero name) made teabag cookies. Sugar spice cookies shaped like a tea bag, dipped halfway in chocolate, and then strung with string and a label. My brain couldn’t handle the delight.

I think I ate them all. Or most of them. They were amazing!


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Last, but never least…My tea of choice.

If you’re a Desi person, or are not Desi but have a Desi spouse, like my husband, you probably, most likely, maybe have this in your kitchen. If the above applies to you and you do not have this, you’re crazy. Get outta my house and get this tea immediately. Just as good is Ahmad tea (green and yellow box).

This is called Tapal Danedar (red and green box). It’s a very rich and aromatic tea. I like to cook it on the stovetop with cracked green cardamom, and drink it with milk and honey, sometimes a little sugar. I used to drink this 3 or 4 times a day, then realized I couldn’t handle that much caffeine. Suffice it to say, a little goes a long way.

So that’s that. I have a few other teas and tea gadgets laying around, but this is really the cream of the crop. The cream of the tea. The dregs in the cup, if you please.

🙂

Re: Dr. Ingrid Mattson’s “A Muslim Woman and her Dog”

I do love dogs, as much as I love every other of Allah’s creatures. I respect them and value them for what they provide to humans because of Allah’s will; protection of property and family, in hunting for food, and protection of livestock and crops.

Without criticizing Dr. Mattson, who has inspired so many with her leadership and Islamic values (May Allah reward her, Ameen), I just wonder where the Islamic concerns go when you bring a dog into the home.

Ibn Taymiyah said the most correct view was that their hair is taahir (pure), but their saliva is impure. Many sahih hadith from Muslim that say if the saliva of a dog touches the vessel of a human, it must be washed seven times with water and an eighth time with soil (Muslim, 279 & 280). Al Nawawi says that keeping dogs is permissible only if it is for three reasons:

  1. Protection of houses
  2. Guarding livestock
  3. Hunting.

Sheikh Uthaymeen says this only applies to villages and not in the city (city dwellers can’t keep dogs, but those in rural or countryside can, as long as its for those three reasons). Abu Hurayrah said that unless its for the three reasons mentioned, Muslims who keep dogs lose a quantity of their reward each day. Ibn Majah says that the malaika (angels) do not enter a home that has a dog or an image. Allahu Allam.

After looking into it, I don’t wonder why there is so much confusion on keeping dogs. But one thing is quite clear. No where does it say that Muslims should hate, kill, or avoid dogs. All it says is to have them for a purpose, keep them out of your dwelling, and don’t let them eat or drink from what you eat or drink out of.

Harsh or fair? My understanding is that Allah did not create anything without purpose. Dogs, cats, rabbits, or other animals are not created to sit in homes and look cute. Cats are clean and have their own benefits, verified by many Hadith (and science, which shows that cats have antibacterial enzymes in their saliva, but beware here too, cat FECES are the number one transmitters of toxoplasma gondii, which can cause birth and neurological defects, so be careful with that litter!).

Dogs are not as clean as cats but they have served a greater purpose than other animals throughout history in the protection of property, families, livestock, land, and crops. It has certain traits such as loyalty and submissiveness, so that it can be trained to do certain things that are useful to humans and gives the dog a sense of purpose and belonging. But in the end, it’s a dog. Studies have shown that the following bacteria live in a dog’s mouth: Porphyromonas gulae, Tannerella forsythia, toxocara, salmonella, giardia, hookworm, tapeworm and Campylobacter rectus. Alhamduliillah, the wisdom of not sharing your utensils with your dog makes sense.

From volunteering at animal shelters, I know first hand the habits of dogs, particularly where they put their mouth and nose. From my Epidemiology class, i know full well the dangers of salmonella, giardia, and campylobacter. Definitely not something you want coming into your home, regularly, in the mouth and nose of a dog you love but whose habits you can’t control or monitor. Dogs might have resistance to some of those things because of their ecology, but you don’t, and neither do your children.

Allah draws lines in all relationships, between human & human, human & animal, and human & material. In the case of confusion, consider everything said by the Messengers of Allah and the scholars who give their respects to the essence of Qur’an and defer to Allah, not to emotions and longings. Again, many people mistake Islam’s reservations on keeping animals within the home as hatred towards animals. This is ridiculous. Animals are gifts and signs of Allah. Being conscious of the cleanliness and safety of where we pray and from what we eat is not animal hate. It’s just caution.

This is no way an attack on Dr. Ingrid Mattson, but an expression of my views on a matter that is unclear to many.

And الله اعلم

Allah knows best.

Keeping Promises to Myself

Since I was a child, I feel like I have been analyzing the people around me, comparing them to the state of their families, neighbors, cities, and the rest of the world. I’ve wondered why people talk so much, why some see little beyond the center of their vision, not even glancing at the peripheral.

I know the value of friends – I do, I really, really do. I have turned from an introvert, to an extrovert, to an introvert again through years of schooling and friends that have all had varying degrees of influence.

And I have interacted with them in various different ways, too. Sometimes being overly nice to compensate for not fitting in, and sometimes shutting myself out; too afraid to talk to anyone for fear of humiliating myself or feeling awkward, ugly, fat, stupid, conservative, liberal…what have you.

As is obvious, there are very few people in this Dunya I can truly relax and be myself around.

Maybe once I thought myself as someone who could cope with many friends, someone who loved people and could get along with anyone. Allah adjusted this for me. Gave me those I thought I could trust and showed me they could break me in half with barely any effort. He gave me those that love me unconditionally, and showed me that I could inflict the same harm upon them, sometimes obliterating their trust in me. Sometimes taking me out of their heart.

I realized the importance of silence in the face of empty words that take up space and offer no benefit. Is that not the nature of the worst of people, the worst of habits, even the worst of foods?

They fill up the space, but at best they offer nothing else. At worst, they metastasize like a malignant tumor and poison the things around them. They squeeze into the seats reserved for better things. Things that reciprocate and last, things that make an impact. And when the time comes for you to make the better choice, to choose Salah over sleep, or carrots over cookies, or wisdom over gossip, it has become habit. You are used to choosing the poison; the consequences diminished by the opiate force of routine.

Promises to Myself.

I cannot count on any number of fingers or toes the amount of promises I have broken for lack of respect for myself. Maybe for lack of self-esteem. Maybe motivation. Or maybe simply the habit of speaking words that carry no weight. Empty shells pretending to mean something.

How can we value someone else if we do not value ourselves? How can we keep a promise to another human being, but easily break promises to our own selves?

Maybe a broken promise to someone else will be forgiven. But broken promises to oneself usually go unrecognized, unpunished. They turn into the norm and we inflict harm upon ourselves quietly but steadily. The broken promise turning into addiction, abuse, sickness, lack of motivation, lack of esteem….the list goes on.

No mobile app or diary will amount to the loss of potential when we betray ourselves.

But maybe in silent reflection and quiet determination, in the meditation of self, we can find ourselves again. Sift through the loud, chaotic debris of the lives we lead, and just make one, quiet promise. One to keep.

i was not a part of history – as was the browning leaf that rode the wind

into the bleeding battle fields, bolstered by the cries of fighting men,

i remember not the golden age, the years of trade; those days of peace,

I do not recall the followers, the travelers, those that caught the words

resonating, captivating passersby [but they were never meant to be as such],

and unsettling gluttonous kings and corrupted men.

I felt not the loss of dear friends, all of them martyrs, those mothers, brothers, daughters, sons.

I did not place the cloth over them; too short to cover both head and feet.

I did not stand with the mighty as they prostrated to Allah.

Vulnerable in the night, suddenly turned small.

I did not see them, those immaculate servants.

One whose wings filled the sky, and yet walked into a sacred house.

i was not of those who witnessed his, Salalahu Alayhi Wa Salam, passing,

but I am of those who mourn his loss, left us in a Quiet.

I am of those who, though so far removed from the age,

fear the day a trumpet is blown and all is uncovered.

All is shown.

 

Nesha Usmani