Archive for May, 2009

The Two Brothers

Last night, I had the honor of MCing the fifth annual ICNA-MAS MCCT Interfaith Banquet. The theme was Gobal Crisis-Faith Solutions. Alhamdulillah, the speeches were insightful, inspiring, and those that authored those speeches delivered them with a sense of true concern for the fate of humanity. One story really struck me which was told by Rabbi Herbert Brockman.

It’s about two brothers.

There were two brothers that lived at opposite ends of the hill. One brother had a beautiful wife and many children as well as a flourishing farm. The brother on the other side was not married, had no kids, but also had a flourishing farm. The brother with a family was so concerned about his brother. He would lament at the fact that his brother had no wife nor children and worry about his state of being- his loneliness, his probable insecurity etc. This preoccupied the brother so much, that he decided to cut down half of his best wheat, tie it up and leave it on the doorstep of his brother over the hill.

On the other side of the hill, the other brother was thinking to himself, “I have such a beautiful, flourishing farm and what am I going to do with all of it? I have no real use for all of this, while my brother on the other side of the hill has many mouths to feed.” Lamenting over the idea that his brother may need help making ends meet, he decides to cut down half of his best wheat, tie it up and deliver it to his brother.

As both start making their arduous journey up the hill, they keep thinking about the situation of their brother. “Is he okay?” “How is his physical state?” “Is he worried? What is he preoccupied about?” Until they reach the top and find each other, wheat in hand, ready to help one another. At that very moment, they embraced on the top of the hill with full understanding and mercy towards each other.

That hill is the hill that Prophet Suleyman had his palace only for the Romans to destroy it later and is now where Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock stand. (Rabbi’s viewpoint).

Allah’s presence was there with the two brothers and continues to be there today.

May Allah protect all those who wish to worship without oppression.


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After being married two months and pretty much consistently cooking with an amazing sous chef :), I have come to realize that I consistently use the same seasonings in my cooking.

Those are:

-Cumin- One day I was eating vanilla ice cream and my younger brother passed by and said, “Why don’t you add some cumin to that?”

– Limes- I love limes and I never buy lemons.

– Sazon- probably the best thing Goya makes- I like to add it to rice, but you can add it to almost anything

– Onions- Growing up, I hated the smell of onions, especially since I smelled like food going to school…and plus, if you got too close, the tears would start running…but when I started cooking for myself, I realized how essential onions really are. They are probably the base for almost every delictable dish I make 🙂

– Crushed Garlic- I needed to buy a garlic crusher because it’s really hard to get the scent of garlic off your hands when you chop them yourself

-Tomatoes- I realized that it’s a lot better to make your own sauce than to use a marinara- usually the marinara sauces have sugar in them and it tastes a little off- I did not realize this until I looked at the ingredients on the label

-Thyme- Thyme is the type of seasoning that reminds you of oregano but smells better..mmm

-salt and pepper- I like the grinder pepper 🙂

Vine Ripened Tomatoes are the Best!

Vine Ripened Tomatoes are the Best!

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Yesterday,  Ahmed (my husband) and I went to see our families (we had them over one house). As we were sitting at the dinner table, I began to reflect on the idea that some scholars profess Mother’s Day to be bida’ (innovation). Then I started thinking about days in general. Just like there are people who have been chosen throughout history, (the Prophets, the families of the Prophets, the companions to the Prophet Muhammad (sas)), there are also special days that Allah has chosen for us- all of Ramadan, Layaltul Qadr (the night of power), the two Eids, the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah etc. And so, religiously, these days are extremely significant to Muslims, but it also shows us that not all days have the same value. Allah (swt) chose the Night of Power as the night where angels will descend and have your next year’s report card ready and the value of this night is better than that of 1000 months (ie 83 yrs). Major power…

As humans, we tend to also assign value to days and moments which are significant in our lives. Whether or not you celebrate birthdays, a mother will never forget the day she gave birth to her son or daughter. A happily married couple will always reminisence about their wedding day and how special it was for them. I can pretty much guarantee that my brother will be pretty jubilant May 17th, the day he graduates from law school 🙂 We should feel grateful that Allah has allowed us to witness success through Him. At the same time, we should also consider the responsibilities we hold to others.

For those that argue that Mother’s Day should not be celebrated because  a) it is not a holiday ordained by God and/ or b) because it is a recurring holiday (not like a graduation where you feel happy for a day but then forget about it next year), I would have to disagree with their position. Some may attest that they always treat their mothers extremely well, hence negating the need for a Mother’s Day… but is that a significant reason to not acknowledge a day that humans across the world thought it necessary to celebrate (i.e. Egypt’s Mother’s Day is March 21st)?

Another argument may be that this day is not in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (sas). And yet, we know that heaven is at the foot of the mother and each person will respond to pleasing his/her mother through different vehicles, undoubtedly being affected by the culture in which we live.

This was posted on Imam Suhaib Webbs blog:

Sh. Bin Bayyah on Holidays Free of Religious Overtones

Published by Suhaib Webb May 10th, 2009 in General

“The holidays which are forbidden [for Muslims] to observe are those with religious overtones [such as Christmas and Easter*] not the festive gatherings people observe due to certain events. Therefore, people are allowed to celebrate wedding anniversaries, birthdays or any occasion as such celebrations are not related to religious holidays. It is imperative that we work to remove the confusion surrounding this misunderstanding and the doubts that have affected many people [regarding this issue]. [Because of this misunderstanding] people find hardship and difficulty in their religion. Especially when a religious minded person holds [such non religious celebrations] to be from the major sins or rejected acts when, in fact, they are not.”

This post is really a tribute to Mother’s Day. Sometimes, when mama calls me, I can’t pick up the phone. I can’t always be there when she needs help carrying the groceries. I don’t always have the strength to sit and watch the Egyptian drama shows she keeps tabs of.  But I do love my mama. A lot. I remember being very young leaving the store, carrying bread in one hand and holding mama’s hand in the other. The sun was beating down on my face and mama told me, “Marwa, you are my best helper.” At that moment I felt so proud, so honored to hold the loaf of bread as my mother carried the rest of groceries.

Sometimes, I’m not the best daughter, especially because mama knows me so well (my flaws, my grievances, my fears). But, I will make sure to let her enjoy being an awesome Mama, at the very least, on Mother’s Day 🙂

Let Mother’s Day be a reminder of how special our Moms are…and through that reminder, let us increase our efforts in pleasing them


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Devil Pee

Last week’s khutba was about the detrimental effects that laziness has on us, especially when it comes to delaying or missing prayer. In the khutba there was the mention of this hadith,

Found in Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 492:

Narrated ‘Abdullah: It was mentioned before the Prophet that there was a man who slept the night till morning (after sunrise). The Prophet said, “He is a man in whose ears (or ear) Satan had urinated.”

Growing up, my brother and I were made privy to this hadith at a very young age. It was a great way to annoy each other on the weekends and shout to the sibling fast asleep, “Shaytan is peeing in your ear!!” We came to the definite conclusion that Devil Pee was ear wax.

Now, twenty years later, I reflect on the same hadith and think that whether the hadith is literal or metaphorical does not make it any more appealing. I say metaphorical because I couldn’t help but make the analogy between animals who urinate in order to claim their territory and the Shaytan doing the same to us. This is his way of saying, “You could not get up to praise your Lord. You are now my property.”

It’s amazing how the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (sas) appeal to everyone. If there are people who work better by thinking of the reward (ie, their book in their right hand), there are a great number of verses and hadith that speak to that person. For fajr in particular:Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “There are angels who take turns in visiting you by night and by day, and they all assemble at the dawn (Fajr) and the afternoon (`Asr) prayers. Those who have spent the night with you, ascend to the heaven and their Lord, Who knows better about them, asks: `In what condition did you leave My slaves?’ They reply: `We left them while they were performing Salah and we went to them while they were performing Salah.”’
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Yet, there are still others who are driven to obey through punishment (ie the book in their left hand). So, when we reflect on the verses describing the Hell-fire, we should consider how many people those verses actually saved from the Hell-fire.

The same holds true for Devil Pee.

May we use these ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to improve ourselves and the communities around us 🙂

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“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and pays the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty,” Qur’an Translated, 2:177.


This past Sunday (May 3rd), my husband and I participated in the annual Walk Against Hunger campaign sponsored by Foodshare. The day was rainy, but it did not prevent thousands of people from walking the three mile route in the heart of Hartford, Ct. I even passed by my apartment and considered changing my soaking sneakers, but the unity of the movement stopped me from breaking the rhythm. Alhamdulillah, Foodshare raised over four hundred thousand dollars and Muslims were very well represented in the cause 😀 There was a point in the walk where I said, “Alhamdulillah for being a hijabi,” thinking that it is the perfect cover for the rain and a Muslim brother responded by saying, “Yes, isn’t it great to be known as a Muslim?” Haha, even though that is always a very good reason alhamdulillah to wear hijab, it’s funny to see how people interpret our statements.

Soaking Shoe

Soaking Shoe

As water was hiccuping out of my sneakers, I started to reflect on the idea of a journey. We all have journeys- whether they are physical, spiritual, mental, or a mixture of all three. We are all on a journey towards death, but we barely ever sit and ponder that reality. We all have a special and unique journey that can only have our names written on it. The Prophet Muhammad (sas) journeyed through the heavens and spoke to Allah (swt). He decided to return back for our sake and relay the message. This act alone is sufficient for him (sas) to be considered a mercy for humanity. On a physical journey that we are more likely to comprehend, he and his companions (sas) traveled from Mecca to Medina. On foot and camel. When I went to ‘umra, my father and I took a bus to Mecca from Medina. It was blazing hot even with an air-conditioned van and the mountainous skyline intimidated our eyes. That trip took five hours. Through breaks of “Lubayka Allahumma lubayk,” I couldn’t stop thinking about the arduous journey the Prophet (sas) must have endured in order for us to freely practice Islam today.

Praying before the Walk

Praying before the Walk

For us to gather on a rainy May day to stand up for justice and against hunger seems relatively small, but we will keep trying inshaAllah to reach the humanity of the Messenger and to be a part of his suhba and the suhba of his companions (ra) in the hereafter 🙂


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