Food For My Soul: Zikr (#2)

Assalamoaliqum everyone! I hope you all are doing well? As we all know we are reaching almost to the end of this Holy month of Ramadan and I’m kinda sad but it has to end –  you know all good things must come to an end, anyhow so before it leaves us I won’t miss this chance to write something which you can benefit from In’Sha’Allah (If God wills) and in return I can fill my bucket of good deeds as every act of goodness in this month is multiplied by 70. So today I am going to talk about the second most important ‘food for our souls’ and that is “Zikr” – yes –  “Remembrance of Allah”!
As Muslims, we all believe that we are like a traveller in this world and have to leave this world one day but still we work so hard for this worldly life, and do so little for the life Hereafter. We should try to spend more time for worship and do something in this Duniya that can be helpful for us in the hereafter. Zikr is the best thing to do even if we are busy with our worldly affairs. We lose nothing if we remember Allah (Zikr) for a little while or whenever we get free time, even if we are cooking, doing house chores, we can make ourselves busy with zikr and it will count as an Ibadah (act of worship).
Recently I got this noble oppurtunity  of meeting few sisters in Deen, they came all the way from South Africa to Perth and Allahamdullilah we had some real heart to heart conversation and I felt so great and spiritually uplifted in their company. All this for the sake of Allah –  SubhanAllah – the amount of sacrifice they do for ALLAH and on the path of Allah, it can not be explained in words. May Allah reward them for their efforts. I had a beautiful experience with them and most interesting part is they gifted me this book named as “Faza’il – e – A’maal” by Maulvi Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalwi. This is a beautiful gift I could ever have, may Allah reward them for this. So I started reading this book which is divided into different sections, as I was turning pages I reached a section on “Virtues of Zikr”, out of curiosity I started reading this section. SubhanAllah, I was amazed to see that there are multiple benefits of doing zikr and I have realised that how important it is to include Zikr in our day to day life to gain more Barakah. So, I thought of sharing it with you guys.
Hafiz Ibn Qayyim, a well known Muhaddith has written an authentic book, named, ‘al – Waabilus Sayyib’ on the virtues of Zikr. He has stated therein that the virtues of zikr are more than 100 and he has listed 79 of these. I am gonna share few of these with you not all of them …
  1. Zikr keeps away the satan and weakens his strength
  2. It is the cause of Almighty Allah’s pleasure
  3. It relieves the mind of anxieties and worries
  4. It produces joy and happiness in the heart
  5. It brightens the face and the heart
  6. It attracts one’s sustenance
  7. It invests the zaakirs (person who does Zikr) with awe and sweetness so that the seeing eye is filled with awe and pleasure at his sight
  8. It is the key to nearness to Almighty Allah; the greater the Zikr, the greater the nearness to Allah, and greater the indifference to Zikr, the greater the difference from him.
  9. Zikr of Allah causes one’s mention in the court of Allah, as Quran says “Remember me, and I will remember you”
  10. It gives life to the heart. Hafiz Ibn Taimiyah says that Zikr is as necessary for the heart as water for the fish. Imagine the condition of a fish out of water
  11. It is food for the heart and the soul; depriving them of Zikr is like depriving the body of its food
  12. The words of Zikr keep on moving round the Arsh of Almighty Allah as stated in a Hadith
  13. If one remembers Allah in happiness, Almighty Allah remembers him in his afflictions
  14. It causes Allah’s peace and mercy to descend, while angels surround the person engaged in Zikr
  15. It saves the tongue from indulging in backbiting, loose talk, lies and abuses. It is a common experience that a man whose tongue remain engaged in Zikr does not commit these absurdities. On the other hand, the tongue that is not used in Zikr, falls an easy prey to all kinds of useless talk
  16. By virtue of Zikr, the Zaakir is blessed, as also the person sitting by him.
  17. If Zikr is shared by tears and repentance in loneliness the Zaakir (a person who does zikr) will be blessed under the shadow of Allah’s throne on the Day of Judgement, when hearts will jump to lips due to agony of intolerable heat of that day
  18. The noor of Zikr remains with a person in his life as well as in his grave. It will go infront of him on the Siraat in the Hereafter.
  19. There is a sort of hardness in the human heart, which is not softened by anything except Zikr
  20. Almighty Allah grants His grace to those who do Zikr, and the angels pray for them (Imagine angels are praying for you, Isn’t it worth it.)
  21. By Zikr one is blessed with divine help that associates in all one’s doings. That is why some time man’s achievements surpass his powers, and he attains what was seemingly beyond his reach. This is perhaps the reason why our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) advised his daughter Hazrat Fatima (Radhiyallaho anha) to recite SubhanAllah – Allhamdullilah 33 times each and Allahu Akbar 34 times before going to bed at night, when she approached him for a helper, complaining that she was over-worked by the labour of grinding wheat and doing other house-hold jobs. The prophet (peace be upon him) further said, “The recitation of these Kalimahs is better for you than a servant”
  22. The faces of those who do Zikr remain bright in this life, and will carry a special radiance in the Hereafter
  23. One who does Zikr at many places will find many witnesses in his favour. Our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whatever deed is done, good or bad, by any man or woman on the face of the earth, the earth will describe it all, with date, time and place”
  24. Zikr dispels every fear of the heart. It has a special hand in inducing peace of mind and for relieving the heart of its fear. The greater, therefore, the amount of Zikr, the greater freedom from fear
  25. Gatherings of Zikr are also the gatherings of angels

After knowing all of this who wouldn’t want to do Zikr. I specifically found these virtues so inspiring. So my last note would be: get yourself engaged with Zikr and other kinds of worship, especially in this last portion or Ashrah (ten days) of Ramadan. These days are signified by increasing devotion to worship and increased good deeds. For this reason I have taken these last days of Ramadan off from all social media because I believe it’s important to recharge our souls, connect ourselves to Allah and to get ourselves spiritually uplifted so that we can face the challenges this world has to offer with powerful souls for the whole year. And Ramadan is the best time to do that, to discconett ourself from the social media. That’s all for now, Remember me in your prayers. See you after Eid In’sha’Allah! 🙂

Till then take care and eat healthy! 🙂

Food For My Soul: PRAYER (#1)

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“Coolness of my eyes lies in Salah (prayer)”
(Ahmad, An-Nasa’i)
Muslims are ordered to pray five times a day; to keep renewing their connection with Allah throughout the day and to keep themselves on track. Prayer is like a freedom of the soul from all worldly attachments and materialistic things. And the idea that prayer (salah) could be the coolness of our eyes is something that seems sooooo beautiful.
Prayer has tremendous benefits both physical and spiritual. It energises the souls and help us transcend to a higher level of awareness. Studies show that engaging in regular ritual activities helps us relax, which in turn adjusts our blood pressure and heart rate, and harmonises our breathing. Relaxation reduces the over-secretion of adrenaline resulting from the constant stresses of life. By reducing stress, one empowers the immune system, protects the heart and adjusts one’s blood pressure and circulation. This regular act not only harmonises the soul, but also heals our physical ailments and helps us cope with the tensions of everyday life. Many studies now show the evidence of reduced rates of depression, sorrow and pessimism among individuals who perform their prayers regularly. I actually have experienced this in my life, from the day I started getting regular with my prayers I felt more in peace, more happy and contented.
 
From The Life Of Our Beloved:
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a role model for all humanity. And we should take his life as a role model for us in every affair of life and should mould our character and day to day life according to it. After performing my first Umrah, I started learning about my deen (religion), wanted to develop a true love for our beloved Rasool Allah (peace be upon him) so I started this quest for Seerah books. When I started reading about him I got more curious and wanted to know more about him; how he used to do Ibadah (worship), what he used to eat, how he used to spend his day and all that balance of Deen and Duniya he brought into his life so I continued reading about his life and I have learnt few things (still learning) and I’d like to share it with you guys, you know just a little bit of his prayer routine mixing with our current routines.
If you study the life of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him), you will get to know how the Prophet (peace be upon him) turned to prayer when he had any worries or problems. Allah says in Qur’an:
“And seek help in patience and prayer, and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for those who have true humility {those who obey Allah with full submission, fear His punishment, and believe in His promise(Paradise) and in His warnings (Hell)}”.
Quran 2:45
Allah also says:
“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and Prayer. Truly Allah is with the patient ones”.
Quran 2:153
Prayer Routine: Early in the morning, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to wake up, drink a cup of warm water with one teaspoonful of honey dissolved in it, and then pray. After Fajr prayer, he rested for meditation and morning Dhikar-Allah (Remembrance of Allah) till sunrise, when he prayed Duha prayer (a non obligatory prayer in the forenoon). This habit is very beneficial for increasing concentration and mood elevation throughout the whole day. Waking up early and drinking a honey tonic enable the brain to secrete enough serotonin to boost one’s mood for the rest of the day. Always try to keep this thing in mind that the 2 hours after sunrise are the peak production time of serotonin, the hormone responsible for a feeling of well being and for uplifting the mood.
After Duha prayer, It is time to start work till noon, when we take another short break to recharge our souls with an extra boost of energy while praying the midday prayer (Dhuhr). Our beloved used to take a short nap (Qailoola) before Dhuhr. You can take 5 to 10 min nap minimum and 30 to 40 min maximum, It’s a power nap and will recharge you for the rest of your day. Then after Dhuhr we resume work till Assar (afternoon prayer) time, about which we are specifically ordered by Allah to respect its timings:
“Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers, especially the middle prayer (the Assar prayer). And stand before Allah with obedience (and do not speak to others during the prayers)”.
Quran 2:238
The middle prayers are believed to be Fjar and Assar prayers. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“The angels descend to you in succession by night and by day, but they all gather together with you at the dawn and afternoon prayers. Those who have passed the night with you ascend to Heaven and Allah asks them, although He is well aware: “How did you leave my servants?” The angels reply, “They were praying when we left them and when we arrived we found them praying”.
Bukhari
SubhanAllah!
In order to respect ‘Assar prayer timing‘, people should not sleep after lunch time. This is beneficial to health, as sleeping directly after eating slows down digestion and weakens the body. After Assar Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to take another few minutes for meditation and evening Dhikar-Allah. After this little rest, the body is fully reenergised for resuming work till sunset (Maghrib) prayer, after which comes dinner time, followed by some gentle physical exercises such as walking, which aids digestion, benefits the metabolism, strengthens the heart and boosts blood circulation. At the end of the day it is time for the evening prayer (Isha), then a early to bed for a good night’s sleep.
How To Improve Our Salah:
To be able to pray five times a day, to truly enjoy it and find such an intensity of happiness in it that you call it the coolness of your eyes, seems like such a blessing and something to truly aspire to. There are a number of things that we should do to improve our salah and through it our lives in’sha’Allah …
  • So first things first, We should learn more about salah – I will talk about myself here, I really want to review my recitation in salah and whether the movements and positions are accurate.This may seem very basic but whenever I reflected I found out every single time there has room for improvement. Sometimes I perform salah with full speed and worldly thoughts in my mind especially when I am in social gatherings, or in the market, sometimes in the middle of the daily chores. I really need to improve this.
  • I would also like to study a little more about the benefits of salah and also the punishments for leaving salah. I believe that these are the things that will help to inspire and motivate me in’sha’Allah.
  • Reflect on salah – I want to spend a little time reflecting on the words and the meanings in salah.
  • Dedicate more time to salah – I often miss the Nawafil part of my prayers. I really need to work on that. Ramadan is the best time to offer Nawafil and to get into the habit.

So, that’s about it. I will end my blog here but before I leave I’d like to share something which inspired me: In autumn, usually the leaves of the trees fall in large numbers, so much so that on some trees not a single leaf is left behind. The same is the effect of salah performed with sincerity and devotion. All the sins of person offering salah are wiped off. SubhanAllah, Isn’t it amazing? Of course we all want to get rid of our sins, don’t we? I can not even try to explain the marvellous effects of a true prayer. One who practices it will soon feel and learn for himself; it is enough to mention this Hadith here:

 “If one prays two Rakah with full concentration, Allah forgivers that person for whatever sins were committed before”. 
Bukhari & Muslim
So, just try to perform your prayer with a complete sense of humility and submissiveness to Allah. Put all worldly thoughts behind you, in prayer you are directly addressing Allah. You should try to sense the meanings of each word and verse you are reciting; contemplate these meaning as deeply and sincerely as you can to keep you away from whispering of the devil (Sheytaan). Let’s make our prayers better and full of devotion. I will try to follow it as well because all of this is a reminder for myself first and foremost.

‘Food For My Soul’ – New Series

In our religion (Islam) we believe that Allah (God) created human beings with both a body and a soul; the body was created from clay and a soul was a breath from the spirit of the Almighty. Throughout our daily life we eat, drink, work, learn and rest; while we are nourishing our physical bodies, we rarely remember the food of the soul: It’s connection with its creator – ALLAH, how it craves for Allah’s pleasure, compassion and satisfaction. The soul is a specific creation sent by Allah is also satisfied and fed through something that Allah specifically sent, like the Quran (Holy book)

In this day and age, it’s very common to see the imbalance of our spiritual bodies. We spend hours and hours to feed our physical bodies but forget to nourish our souls. The imbalance of the spiritual body actually occurs when the soul disassociates itself and disconnects from Allah; when it strays away from the straight path. We get so much busy in this material or physical world that somehow we lose this connection from our lord. Submission to Allah, connecting back to Him is the only saviour of the soul: It is the only spiritual healer. This is the fact that is well known but intentionally ignored by human beings who vainly search for their happiness and peace of mind in worldly gains and transient trivial pursuit.

To cut the story short, just like we feed our physical body with food everyday, we need to feed our souls as well. This is the food which is very essential for the survival of our souls. Now the question is what exactly is the food for our souls? I believe anything that connects you to your Lord is the food for your soul, either it be the holy book ‘QURAN’, Prayers, Zikar/Remembrance of Allah, or a spiritual lecture, spiritual gatherings or even connecting to nature and remembering Allah. Because Allah has created this world for us to ponder and praise His glory.

Keeping all this in mind I came up with the idea of starting this new series ‘Food for my soul’  in which I will try to draw your attention towards the intake of spiritual food and will try to connect myself first and then you guys with our Lord the most high, the merciful. May Allah help me and guide me in this. So be with me and keep reading this new series “Food for my Soul” to nourish and keep your soul alive. If you have any suggestions for this new series or any spiritual writings please do share with me on my Facebook page ‘My healthy Life’ and I will share it on my blog with your name, In’sha’Allah!

Cheers xx

Pics were taken at the Silver Sands Beach, Mandurah

Healthy Eating In Ramadan

Why is that we spend a whole month of fasting, yet rather than losing weight we actually put on weight? I tell you why? It’s because we take this month as a month of food and forget the real essence of fasting and we overindulge ourselves, instead of eating less we actually overeat. Overeating has been frowned upon in our religion as it is thought to increase worldly appetites and cause sluggishness, thereby ”dulling the soul”. Ghazali said that satiety results in laziness and sluggishness of the heart; it slows down perception and awareness, while hunger clears the mind and purifies the heart. So, the whole purpose of fasting here is to have a lighter body in order to free the soul and focus on more important spiritual matters.

BENEFITS OF FASTING:

Fasting has lots of physical and spiritual benefits. I’m going to discuss some physical benefits here. Accordingg to Dhahabi in his ‘Medicine of the Prophet’, it was thought that the stomach was ”the seat of disease”. Fasting gives the digestive system a rest and makes the body feel lighter. The energy usually consumed in digestion and food metabolism will be directed towards body detoxification, tissue repair, and system healing.

Leon Chaitow recommended fasting in his book ”Natural Alternative to Antibiotics” as an effective way to ‘supercharge’ the immune system. He states that fasting boosts the activity of essential parts of the body’s natural defence mechanism. During fasting the ability of the lymphocytes and other blood cells to encounter any bacterial attack is much improved, and since the level of free radicals in the body is reduced by reducing food intake, the activity of the antioxidants is retained for better cell protection. Fasting also boosts the detoxification powers of the hepatic (liver) cells, cleans the kidneys and colon and purifies the blood. Furthermore, it helps overcome obesity, aids in ridding the body of any excess water, and clears the blood from extra fats, which in turn frees the tissues from stored fat-soluble toxins such as pesticides or drug metabolites.

In this month of Ramadan, we should aim and plan to gain the full benefits of fasting by eating healthy and controlling our portions of food. Always remember our body is a gift from Allah; He trusted our bodies to us to take care of for a fixed period of time. Taking care of it in the best way possible is our responsibility. The prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“God has a right over you; your body has a right over you …”

While we focus on our spiritual upbringing in this month, we also need to focus on our physical well being. To strike a balance between the needs of the physical body and your spiritual needs, you must consume the right type and amount of foods. Now let me share a few tips on what to eat and what not to eat during Ramadan.

 

 

WHAT’S FOR SUHOOR?

The prophet (Peace be upon him) strongly advised people not to skip suhoor (the meal before dawn). He recommended eating this light meal as close to dawn as we can, to be able to keep our full strength during the day. If you skip out on suhoor, you are putting your body in starvation mode and actually only going to cause yourself to overindulge at Iftaar time. So, eat sahoor. The prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“There is a blessing in eating sahoor so do not skip it. Atleast drink a sip of water, for Allah and his angels give their blessings to the people who eat their meal before the break of dawn”.

Ahmed 

List Of Food You Can Eat:

The best foods for suhoor are:

  • a light meal of bread and cheese or
  • A slice of bread with an omelette
  • Whole grain toast with all-natural peanut butter/almond butter top with berries/banana slices or
  • Museli/Quinoa with almond milk/full fat milk/yogurt, raisins, cinnamon, organic honey and banana/other fruits. Don’t forget the dates to spread on the top
  • 3 or 5 dates with water melon, depending upon the size of the dates (Sunnah)
  • 3 dates with milk

Basic rule applies here : ‘Do not overdo it’, when you eat less, you are less prone to becoming hungry quick and remember the purpose of fasting is to empty the stomach and lighten the body to free the soul.

WHAT’S FOR IFTAR?

List Of Food You Can Eat:

  • Dates: After a long day of fasting it is wise to break the fast with a light and healthy meal. Start with dates if possible. I personally don’t question any food that was eaten by our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) or recommended by him. Anas Ibn Malik RA (may God be pleased with him) narrated:

“The messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) used to break his fast before praying with some fresh dates, but if there were no fresh dates, he took some mouthfuls of water”.

Sunan Abu Dawud

 

 

Dates contain a high percentage of simple sugars that are easily and quickly absorbed by the body, giving an immediate boost of energy and restoring normal blood sugar levels (BSL) after a long fasting day. Dates also provide the energy necessary for food digestion, assimilation and absorption, thus preventing the sluggishness often felt after the Iftar. Dates are rich in vitamin A and B, in addition to magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. In addition to simple and easily absorbed sugars, they contain fibre, which relieves constipation, aids in cholesterol reduction, fights colon cancer and rapidly gives a feeling of satiety (fullness).

  • Fresh fruit juice/Milk: I will highly recommend that you break your fast with dates and fresh juice. This is the healthy combination and  if you can’t prepare it daily then make your life easy and have plain water or even milk with dates. Milk with dates at Iftar is a tradition which is applied in many Arabs and Muslim countries. Muslims break their fast on dates pre-soaked in milk before performing their sunset prayer. Milk is rich in proteins, calcium, vitamin B2 and fat soluble vitamins. The high glycemic index of dates is counteracted by milk. The fatty nature of milk slows down the absorption of the sugars in dates, preventing a sudden rush of insulin.
  • Other option would be Dates and Fruit salad

Basic rule applies here: Eat three or more dates with milk/fresh juice or any other healthy drink. Take it as a snack time, offer Maghrib and then have your dinner post Maghrib.

Dinner Meal Options:

  • Fresh salad: Eat lots of fresh salad, it is both healthy and filling, but avoid the ready made dressings. You can prepare your own healthy dressing from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, thyme, basil and oregano.
  • Chicken/lentils/beans
  • Rice/Chapati/Bread/Pasta

I recommend you follow the plate method for dinner. If you want to know how much food should we eat from the food items mentioned above, check out my blog which I wrote about portion control.  Click here for the blog on Portion Control

Basic rule applies here: Eat salad first and then the rest of your meal. Salad will fill you up. Check out your portion sizes, Don’t overeat.

 

Drink Plenty of Water:

Water is the most purifying drink. It cleans out toxins from your body, prevents you from getting headaches (especially when you are not drinking or eating all day). So drink plenty of water between Iftar and Sahoor.

FOODS TO AVOID:

  • Avoids fats and fried foods as much as you can. Please, a humble request, don’t eat those samosa, pakoras, chips and bla bla. Frying foods creates unnatural fats called trans fatty acids (trans fats) which studies have shown to be involved in many heart and circulatory disorders. So avoid it.
  • Skip the soda. Drinking soda with your Iftar will only make you thirstier, and dehydrate your body more than it already is.
  • Break your coffee and tea addiction. If possible, regulate your body to get rid of your caffeine addiction before Ramadan starts. If you are drinking 3-4 cups of coffee/tea daily, and on the first day of Ramadan you don’t drink any, you may get headaches and lack energy. So start reducing your tea/coffee now.
  • Don’t eat empty calorie desserts. Replace them with fresh or dried fruits.

Furthermore, do not sleep after Iftar. Be active and take a walk or 15-20 min of exercise would be good. It will help your body to digest the food. And how can we forget our voluntary prayer – ‘The Tarahweeh prayer’ is the best form of exercise guys. Be aware that if you fast properly (no overeating), you may experience some natural symptoms of detoxification as the toxins are slowly withdrawn from your body, especially in the first few days. These symptoms can be anything from fatigue to headache and may be bad breath. These are totally safe and natural symptoms which you will soon overcome (as long as you are getting enough fluids). I hope that you find this blog helpful. I assure you that making these small healthy changes in your Ramadan and even regular diet, will substantially improve your overall health and fitness.

My last note would be: Make a good intention for all of your actions. For instance, instead of praying Maghrib and rushing to eat, set your intention to eat to nourish your body so that you can stand and pray. Set your intention to eat suhoor to have energy all day so that you can worship properly. In this way, you make eating an act of worship and get rewarded for it In’sha’Allah (If God wills).

May you all have a happy and healthy Ramadan. Remember me in your dua’s. Take care and eat healthy! 🙂

RAMADAN – A Month of Self Discipline!

Hello friends … hope you all are doing really well. “Ramadan” is coming … yaaay I’m excited 😉 It’s unbelievable how fast this blessed month flies by every year. For those of you who don’t know much about Ramadan (my non muslim readers), it’s the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslims fast every single day from around just before sunrise to sunset. Most muslims offer the extra prayers called ”the Taraweeh” prayers which they pray after the night time prayers. Muslims pray five times a day. Those are the obligatory prayers that practicing muslims pray on a daily basis and in Ramadan we have some extra prayers (voluntary prayers) after the final fifth prayer at night. Fating is something that most major religions of the world part take in. For muslims its different in that sense we don’t eat anything whatsoever from pre dawn till sunset. People who are ill they are exempt from fasting. For instance women who are pregnant and in their lactation period, old people – people who are weak all of those are exempt from fasting. Apart from abstaining from food, muslims also abstain from sexual relations during fasting period and also from being bad people. Fasting teaches us patience, tolerance and how to discipline our body and souls. Ramadan is a special time where we make an extra effort to truly be fully conscious of how we are behaving and the vibes that we have not just on ourselves but also on the people around us. This month is actually a training period for us so that we can continue doing good deeds through out the year.

There are so many wisdoms behind fasting but for me it is actually to pull myself out of this material world and to put myself in touch with the spiritual dimension, the spirituality that we all have inside us but we tend to forget on day to day basis. And abstaining ourselves from food really does do that. You feel that empty stomach, you become extra sensitive towards people, you feel the pain for people who are deprived of food. Hunger reminds me that I am so blessed to have food on my table everyday whereas there are many who are dying because of hunger because they don’t have food.

With less than a few days to go to Ramadan, I am trying to take my own advice and prepare for the blessed month as well as I can. This month of 29 or 30 days is the best time to change ourselves and to make or break a habit. I believe Ramadan is the best time to discipline ourselves physically and spiritually. So, that’s why I thought of writing about Self discipline. It’s really unfortunate to see that we Muslims have forgotten the traditions and made this month a month of over indulgence, a month of food and Iftar parties and sleepless nights. Yes, lets talk about filling our stomachs, its vital to talk. Every time when I see muslims filling their stomach it reminds me of a very well known hadith:

“The prophet (PBUH) said: The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink, and one-third for air”.  Al Tirmidhi

 

 

We truly ignore this saying of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and do the opposite. Especially in Ramadan when we can easily discipline our eating habits we simply overeat, and eat all the crap like fried stuff – samosas, pakoras, junk food and bla bla. So, in this Ramadan we should make this goal to attain discipline, to change our bad eating habits In’sha’Allah (If God wills). In Imam Al- Ghazali’s “Breaking the two desires” book 23 he explains the following four duties as a method of discipline. I am going to share these with you and will add few more useful tips for additional benefit and guidance which you can follow throughout this Ramadan and after Ramadan of course.

Eat what is lawful (halal) and pure (Tayyieb):

  • Make intention for the sake of Allah
  • Avoid packaged and processed foods
  • Avoid fizzy carbonated drinks
  • Eat organic whenever possible and seasonal food
  • Support local farmers, I normally use this notion “Eat Local & Think Global”

Limit the quantity you eat:

  • Eat when truly hungry
  • Discipline gradually
  • Let food digest before eating again
  • Reduce intake gradually
  • Stop eating before you are full
  • Be consistent, have balance.

Delay when you eat:

  • Fasting is good for self discipline (fast Mondays and Thursdays other than Ramadan)
  • Feel hunger (without hurting health)
  • Determine what is the least you can eat safely

Which varieties of food you eat:

  • Incorporate prophetic foods into your diet
  • Introduce healthy food choices
  • Eat nutrient dense foods
  • Avoid diet trends, gimmicks, and quick fixes
  • Limit meat consumption
  • We are individual (it must be convenient, accessible and available)

This is not about attaining self discipline only in Ramadan, it should be with the intention of changing one self for the whole year. Also, this is not only for our health and good nutrition but we want to follow the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and gain more rewards.

Before I finish my blog, I feel the need to talk about this but first I’d like to ask this question … If you knew that this would be the last Ramadan you had left, how would you spend that Ramadan? Would you be in the kitchen for 3 hours cooking? Would you? Hello sisters, I’m talking to you 😉 Answer would be ”Probably Not”. I am aware of the fact that women spend hours in the kitchen during this month. You should be spending that time for lectures, reading Quran, anything else than just wasting time in the kitchen. If you wanna cook that’s fine, but don’t overdo it, you know what I mean. Make enough, don’t overdo it. If you ask me, honestly I’d love to have cooked the night before extra, this way I get another hour and a half to get more stuff done. Eat left overs, eat less. It’s the month of sacrifice, so eat less and give more. Last thing on our mind should really be food.

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to the real purpose and spirit of Ramadan. Ramadan is not only about omitting food, It’s not about eating and overfilling our stomachs, it’s not about indulging all night and sleeping all day and waking up an hour before sunset to prepare a meal. Rather, it’s about you and your relationship with Allah. It’s about connecting with your lord, it’s about growing spiritually, doing extra ibadah (worship). Its about sitting with your kids, teaching them the importance of Ramadan and going together as a family to the mosque to offer Taraweeh prayer. Eat healthy so you have more energy to do the right things that you need to do in this month.

That being said, I’m done with my topic today. My next blog would be about what should we eat for Iftar and Sheri, its coming up soon, so stick around. Till then take care and eat healthy! 🙂

FIND YOUR GIFT!

Hey friends! How have you been? You may have noticed a lack of activity from my blog these last few months. I apologise for the lack of blog – Personal things have taken over rather. But I am back and hopefully will be blogging regularly again, In’sha’Allah (Arabic word which means: If Allah wills). Ohhhh man I seriously missed it. I loooooovvveee writing. But to be honest I have been enjoying extra time with my baby love and hubby! They are my life and I am grateful I get to spend quality time with my beautiful family. Allhamdullilah! (Praise be to Allah)
 Okay, by the way if you guys still wondering about what I will be discussing today under this topic “Find your Gift”, then continue reading please 😉 Today in the morning when I was reading my daily routine stuff with a cuppa of my favourite Green tea, these two beautiful quotes drew my attention which I am going to share with you guys. They literally touched my heart. First one is by Jalaluddin Rumi (Muslim poet & Islamic scholar) and the second one is by Zig Ziglar (Motivational speaker). I was admiring these quotes and then I thought why not write a blog post about it. So here I am with a new blog post on the following quotes:
“Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put into every heart”. 
Jalaluddin Rumi 
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”.
Zig Ziglar
Aren’t these words so beautiful and profound? I am truly in love with these quotes because I am a strong believer of this notion. I believe every human being on this planet is blessed with some kinda gift, something which he/she loves doing the most or enjoy doing the most. I also believe that if you do what you love is important for long term career, satisfaction and success. Ask yourself these questions …
Do you love to draw/paint/write/explore?
Are you a people/nature lover?
Did you always know that you were good at making others feel at ease or feel good about themselves?
Are you good at helping others and wanting to make a difference in someone’s life?
All these things are gift from Allah and can be used for benefit of the self and for the people around you. It can be anything, you just need to find your gift.
How will you know what is the gift for you? I suggest you take some quiet time to sit and think deeply about what you love doing and what you are good at? Nature keeps on calling you towards your God given gift, you just have to pay an attention and don’t ignore the pull it has on you. Spend some time in pondering and then implementing a way to do good with your special gift –  and if you carry this out with sincere intent for Allah swt and concern for the world – and if you do it all with joy and gratitude – then the result will be His drawing you closer to Him and your life will be full of barakah & of course the contentment will follow.
But it’s really sad that in today’s society people have moved a long way away from such lofty mindsets. Every job or work have become a means to material gain or to building egos. We have lost the soul and the real essence and become a money making machine. What I am trying to explain here is whether your God-given talent becomes a career or remains a hobby, it is your intent and joy in it that matter. Don’t pursue money, pursue your vision, your dreams and your ideas with passion and money will be a by product.
  
So find your talent and find your place with your lord and see what He has given you to do. Nurture it with love and then take it a step further and think how you can better the world with it or how your knowledge or skill can be beneficial to the world. Put these quotes up on your wall as a reminder and begin. The journey is guaranteed to be joyful and fruitful. 🙂

Nature Therapy & Our Relaxing Escape!

Gazing at the most beautiful creations of nature, a feeling of wonder would come over me: Will I ever get tired of marvelling at the beauty of Allah’s (God) creations? Never, In’Sha’Allah (Arabic word for “If God wills”)! I’m a huge fan of spending time outdoors and it always makes me happy, being in nature always stir the feeling that my soul is as wide and unlimited as the sky. And I feel this overwhelming sense of freedom like a free bird flying in the sky, it makes me feel as big as the grandest sky, but this same sky also reminds me that I am a tiny soul under this vivid wide sky. So it makes me feel both large and small at once and that is something I love about being in nature.

 

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Newcastle, Lake Macquarie

Living on the NSW north coast, we are so blessed to have so many beautiful places around. My darling hubby and I, we both love travelling so we often go outdoors to explore our relaxing escape & always feel amazing after our family getaway. But this time when we three – Hubby, I and our little Bub of course  😉 went out for some Nature therapy, I went into thinking that what is it about nature that makes me sooooooooooo much happy and alive? Is it my love for nature or is there something more? And this thought compelled me to do some research and read more about it so after coming back home I did my research on this and found out why exactly does hanging out in nature make me so happy and alive? And it turned out, it’s not just my adoration or love for nature that leaves me feeling more happy, alive and more at peace — Recently, much research has focused on the so-called “nature connection,” and how it affects our health, outlook and overall life. So, here are few more reasons why it can be beneficial other than the source of happiness for all of us?

Being outside can actually offer relief for everything from depression to negativity. The health benefits of being outdoors are countless – you will get a burst of happiness that’s guaranteed to improve your outlook on life. A study at Japan’s Nippon Medical School found women who spent six hours in the woods over the course of two days had an increase in virus and tumour-fighting white blood cells, and the boost lasted at least seven days afterwards. Being ‘at one’ with nature also gives your brain a break from over-stimulation and lets you relax.

Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive, finds a series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

A new study in the American Chemical Society’s semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology finds that just five minutes of exercise in a green nature setting can boost mood and self-esteem. Click here for link.

A June 29 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a small group of subjects who strolled through nature for just an hour and a half reported a significant reduction in negative thoughts. Link here.

 

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Who doesn’t love this divine nature’s view!

Another benefit of being in nature is that it makes us more creative. According to David Strayer, Ph.D., a professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah, “Modern multitasking overtaxes brain areas that are involved in suppressing distractions, thinking creatively, and developing a sense of identity. Strayer discovered that a mere four days backpacking in nature improved people’s creativity by 50%”. Woow, this is amazing!

In this day and age, we all are loosing our focus, aren’t we? But the good thing is we can improve our focus if we spend some quality time in nature. When I say this ‘quality time in nature’,  I mean no mobile phones around, mobile Datta off, wifi off, just disconnect yourself from technology and cyber world and absorb all the love of nature. According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels. It could improve your focus.

Furthermore, A study from Glasgow University showed that people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who worked out indoors. Link here.  So, If your are planning of spending another workout chained to the treadmill, move your run outdoors for a quick burst of happiness.

In conclusion, there are so many studies out there on the internet to prove that spending time in nature not only makes you happy but it provides many other health benefits as well. These were enough reasons to increase my love for nature, what about you guys? 😉

Here are some of the fabulous places we’ve recently visited and spent a quality time as a family, Allhamdullilah (Arabic word for ‘Praise be to God’)!

This place is truly divine – there’s something so magical about being in here.

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Newcastle, Lake Macquarie

 

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This place is one of my most favourites for some reason, a very memorable and special one!

 

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Harrington, NSW

Life is always better at the beach! I truly believe being on the beach is the best escape anybody can have – this is the perfect place to unwind and to detach yourself from the world. This is a divine beach. You can either walk on the jetty or run along the sand – Harrington has it all!

 

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That’s my darling hubby showing nature to our little baby love! #MakingMemories

I have shared few pics, now tell me about you guys … How often do you get away? Once a year, once a month or every weekend? Make some plan for your next scheduled break, take vacations in beautiful places, visit a state or national park or go to a beautiful beach — whatever landscape speaks to you. Even if it’s a quick trip to your nearest city or a drive down to your local landscapes, make it a lifestyle choice to travel often. Also, if you have the opportunity to get outside of your home for a brisk walk or a workout, take the chance to soak in that ‘Mother Nature’.

Go, free yourself, love and explore Nature – you will definitely feel good! 🙂

 

Back To My Pilate Routine!

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Hello friends! How was your weekend? I hope you had a great one! 🙂

I’m currently sitting on my couch, drinking tea and typing on my trusty laptop and ofcourse my little bub is sleeping. 🙂 So, today I’d like to tell you something about my new exercise routine. Actually I have promised myself to make time for me and to do some kinda exercise every single day of my life. No matter how much busy you are – you gotta take only 10-15 minutes to move. Now tell me is this too much? I really don’t think so … Try a walk, a quick set of squats and lunges, matwork pilate or even a quick 7 to 8 minute body stretch. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that You Enjoy Doing. If it’s a burden or a chore, you won’t keep it up. You have to enjoy it, otherwise you slip behind and wonder why you aren’t feeling healthy or looking fit.

I have come back to my old Pilate routine and I have been on this journey for some time now, and I can safely say that there is nothing more exciting than doing Pilates. I used to do Pilates (Matwork) before my pregnancy and used to love it. (Planning to get Reformer classes now). I don’t know if you people know much about Pilate but the only thing I knew that it was something some of the Hollywood & Bollywood actors did. Recently I got to know few more things about Pilate so gonna share them with you guys, I’m not a Pilate expert. Most of the information I share below is based on my readings, interactions with Pilate experts and my own life experiences …

Pilates takes its name from Joesph Pilates. Joseph Pilates was a German gymnast, born in 1883, who dedicated his life to teaching his exercising techniques, believing that poor posture goes hand in hand with poor health. Pilates was initially developed as a rehabilitative tool. He devised the Pilates method as a new approach to exercise & body conditioning in the early decades of the last century. He believed that by having awareness of breath and of alignment of the spine, we can strengthen the deep torso and abdominal muscles and reduce stress.

Isn’t it beautiful? What i love the most about Pilates is how it makes you feel good, and you see results quickly which provides you great motivation to keep going. You become tighter, more toned & stronger. It’s a full body workout. Not only can you feel the exercises working, but you feel great afterwardsan endorphin buzz right? 😉 Secondly, Pilates builds longer and leaner muscles. It improves core strength (and you know after having kids how important it is to regain and maintain that Core Strength), also gives you a stronger and healthier back, a flatter stomach, flexibility, balance and corrects posture – making you stand taller and look slimmer! (I have always been a huge fan of Pilate walk) So, if you want to gain all these benefits mentioned above and want to turn your dream of losing weight into a reality 😉 then Pilate is what you need. YES!! 🙂

My Typical Morning Routine:

I believe we can achieve small things throughout our day and guess what? You get fit at the same time too. How cool is that? My current pilate routine requires only 10 to 15 minutes approx daily and I am still getting results. It’s because consistency is the key to success in everything. I think I should share my morning routine with you. My typical morning is just like this …

I wake up between 3.00am to 3.30am, and the first hour after waking up, that is the time for my spiritual intake. It’s a must now and has become my early morning ritual, Allhamdullilah (praise be to God). If I don’t manage it, I feel I have let myself down or there is something that is missing! So, I try to make the most of it and be grateful that I get to experience this morning routine only because of God’s Rahman (mercy)!

Then comes my Pilate routine, It takes 10 to 15 minutes only & normally at this time my baby love & my darling hubbssy are sleeping so this is what I can say ‘it’s me time’. 😉 This new Pilate routine is working best for me and I am loving strengthening my core each day again with this “10 minutes solution Pilates Perfect Body”. I will recommend you buy this DVD or you can find these videos on Youtube, simple na. It’s an amazing workout for people who can not spend hours in the Gym and are leading a busy lifestyle, want to exercise for few minutes and get quick results. I customize it and mix it according to my desire; for instance one day I do 10 min abs + 5 minutes body stretch or next day I do 10 minutes arms only so it really depends on my mood. One more thing, before you buy this dvd or check it on you tube, I will recommend you go to your nearby Pilate studio, get yourself educated and trained about how pilate works, learn the basic techniques from your Pilate trainer first, once you are done with that then you should buy this dvd and feel free to do this at home. You should know the basics of pilate first. 🙂

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… And yep, now I can hear my little man is making little baby sounds in the next room. He is up so time to leave you guys and attend him. I hope I did justice to this topic and you found it beneficial. Stay connected for more! 🙂 

Take care guys. Xxx

 

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My Food Philosophy!

I will start with one of my favourite quotes :

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art”. by La Rochefoucauld

This phrase is sooooo beautiful, Isn’t it? Eating intelligently is actually an art, if we learn this art we can be the most healthy and fit people around but throughout our life we continuously heap all kinds of abuse on our body …

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Wrong food

Wrong lifestyle

Wrong thoughts

Wrong breathing

Wrong habits — In short, almost every kind of wrong that is possible is loaded on it. There are many new chemicals in the air and water leading to severe pollution. The preservatives and colorants used by the food industry are a hazard that we are blissfuly unaware of. The high level of pesticides in soft drinks created a stir sometime back but it was quickly forgotten. The choice is completely ours – to remain healthy or to give in to the demands of the taste buds.

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In this day and age, we love junk foods and the options are endless, we ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat adultrated and refined foods and abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives on a daily basis. We are living in a toxic environment even harmless seeming things like household cleaners, solvents, cigarette smoke, air freshners and the very clothes we wear could contain toxic dyes. Here i am talking about the toxins that come from outside, but what about the toxins we generate inside our bodies through toxic thoughts, stress, negative emotions and anxiety. And I am sure you are all aware of the fact that a body overloaded with toxins suffer from various ailments ranging from mild to the complicated like; constipation, bloated stomach, gas, fatigue, mental weakness, headaches, poor skin, poor memory, depression, body odour, bad breath are some of the problems caused by toxicity. So, it is vital that we get rid of these toxins (process called Detoxification). This process can be done by incorporating the following things into your life:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Regular exercise
  • Positive Spiritual outlook (positive soul)

I take it this way …

Positive Mind + Positive Body + Positive Soul = Healthy Mind + Body & Soul 🙂 

I always tell people that stick to food as close to their natural state as much as possible (by doing so half of the work will be done). Eat food that your body can digest easily; what mothernature intended (simply stick to the way mothernature made it).

Health Commandments:

  • Avoid artificial anything – No to diet soda, No to artificial sweetner, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients don’t buy those foods.
  • Add more alkaline foods into your diet – more dark leafy green veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds etc.
  • 1 cup of caffeine (tea/coffee) a day max. You don’t need the extra adrenaline. Most of us are stressed enough. Drink green tea instead.
  • Less salt, use sea salt instead.
  • More good fat for cooking – olive oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado etc.
  • Cut down on sugar intake – use brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar or eat natural fruits instead.
  • Give yourself some kinda treet, and eat your favourite food, 1-2 times a week yes i am a person who likes to follow 80/20 rule. We deserve to have cheat days, life is too short.
  • Hydrate yourself, drink plenty of water

My Food Philosophy in a nut shell:

Giving you a quick summary here …

  1. Eat healthy & on time
  2. Eat every 2-3 hours
  3. Small frequent meals a day ( 5 to 6 meals/snacks)
  4. Never skip meals
  5. Check your portion sizes (very important – calls for a new blog)
  6. Be consistent in your exercise regimen even if you do it 15 to 20min, you’ll see results
  7. Avoid stress
  8. Spend some time in nature
  9. Good peaceful/quality sleep (talking about REM sleep)