A Thing Or Two About My Religion…

 

Last night, I could hardly sleep, I couldn’t bring my mind to shut down, as it was racing hundred miles per hour, thinking of what has recently happened in Kuwait, Tunisia and France! (See details here) I couldn’t determine the feelings I had, but mainly a mixture of disgust, fear, sadness and lots of anger! And all this cruelty was in the name of religion! A religion that stats its greeting as : “Assalam Alaykum”: A wish for the other to be blessed with peace! A religion where you arent a Muslim, unless you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself! A religion where God instructs us to show mercy to those on earth, so that he has mercy on us! A religion where God orders justice and good conduct! Yet in the name of this peaceful religion, horrifying act are happening! 

When I once heard that unlike what we might all think, religion is not the cause of wars, I couldn’t help but gasp in total disbelieve! And now more than ever, I feel like screaming my lungs out, that this CAN NOT be true! Look around you and see what’s happening and what had happened in the world! The civil war in Ireland, the civil war in Sudan, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the crusades, the Lebanese civil war, the french war of religions… And the list goes on! People die because they were born into Roman Orthodox families, Sunnis, Shiite, jewish or even atheist families! It breaks my heart that my son, will live in a world where people kill each other because of what they believe in (or don’t believe in)! Thinking of all this, made me want to teach my son to never tell anyone what his religion is (or his parents)! To never talk with other people about what they believe in, to never mention faith! To be a silent believer! Alas I can’t! This is not how I want to raise my son! I need him to be proud of his choices! I want him to learn that he is free to believe whatever he wants! I never want to limit him to what I (or the rest of the world) think is right! 

I was born in a very conservative Muslim family, yet when at the age of ten, I wanted to cover my head –Hijab– my mother was absolutely against it! She told me that I was still a kid, and that I needed to be fully mature, to be able to make such a big decision! And when my brother, came one summer, with the news that he wants to marry a Christian woman, my parents tried to advise him but when they saw that he has made up his mind, they opened their arms wide to receive their new Christian daughter-in-law! This is how I grew up! Muslim yes, but free! Free to be myself! Growing up, we had neighbours who were jewish, but to us they were neighbours, period! They would wish us a Ramadan Kareem and we would congratulate them on their kids’s Bar Mitzvah! How I wish I could go back in time, and raise my son in that loving and peaceful environment, where everyone gets to be free to be Muslim, Christian, Jew, or even Atheist! I am proud to be Muslim, but this is a very private relationship between my God and I! Where I allow no one to come close! And everyone should be given the privilege to do so! Why would/ should anyone care if I am Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Atheist? What does it add or do to anyone else? I believe in doing the right thing and being kind, and I believe there is always a reason for things to happen and that’s more than enough! I pray from the bottom of my heart, for this violence to cease and stability to be restored, so that my kids, your kids, and all the kids in the world, can live in peace and harmony! Please join me in this prayer!! 

Ouiam

Ramadan Kareem!

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Today is the seventh day of Ramadan, the Holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed. It is a month when all Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset. Yes, no food no water until we hear the Adhan of Al Maghrib prayer (The call for the evening prayer, which is right at sunset). Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, so you can imagine how big of a deal it is. For me, Ramadan would mean fasting a little more than 15hours, in this weakening  heat, with a toddler running around the house, demanding to have his daily routine undisturbed, and needs to be kept entertained at all times and of course safe and whole. This is not my first time fasting with Adam, last year he was 5months old, he wasn’t walking or even crawling yet, he wasn’t eating solids or talking! This year the fasting experience took a completely new meaning -since Adam is now 15 months- and it is not a joke people! This is torture! Imagine you wake up in the morning, still very sleepy but can’t have that cup of coffee, then you feel your energy level dropping down while your little rascal is just getting started! These were some of my thoughts this morning, they kept on floating in my mind until I STOPPED myself, disgusted by my own thoughts, and I redirected my thinking to the million other people who do this every day -not just a month every year- Who don’t do it by choice! I sure know that at 6:32pm, I will have a table full of treats and good stuff waiting for me to dig in, but they don’t, of course they wish they could, but here is the thing: THEY CAN’T! Here I am, complaining about how tired, hungry, thirsty I am (because I am fasting), while millions of other people, have to go through this every day of their lives! Ramadan is sure the holiest arabic month, and the month when the Quoran was revealed, but most importantly, it is the month where everyone is supposed to feel for others, to know what it is to be starving or thirsty yet can’t do a thing about it! Since I became a mother, my perspective of life completely changed, I became not only Adam’s mom, but somehow, the mother of all children in this world! No one chooses their parents or their children, so yes God gave me Adam, but any of those unfortunate kids could have been mine, and the thought of having one of my kids feel what i have been feeling every day since Ramadan started, kills me, it breaks my heart, it tears me up! No kid should ever starve! So at exactly 6:32pm, when i would take a date and say a prayer -because God said that anybody who fasts and says a prayer while breaking his fast, his prayer shall be answered- So yeah I say a prayer, I pray that every kid in this world have something in their plate. Something to fill their tiny stomachs! Something to keep them from feeling what I felt today and every day of Ramadan!

So Ramadan is more about challenging yourself in being good, being better, because you have no excuse, Satan has been locked up, and it is just you, the good you, versus the bad you! From the minute you wake up, you have to work on yourself: be kind, be generous, be humble, be honest, be nice, be right… etc! No gossip, no cheating, no laziness and a whole list of NOs! Because remember, you will not be able to blame it on Satan, if you cannot do it, then you are the only sinner!

Ramadan is also about family, my memories of Ramadan as a kid, consist of family gatherings and friends visits; a thing that I miss so much, miles away from home! I remember going with my parents to visit relatives that we haven’t seen in a long time, because it is Ramadan! I remember my dad taking out the phone book, and call all his brothers, sisters, cousins and even distant relatives, because it is Ramadan. I remember my mom making sweets and taking them to her sister, because it is Ramadan!

It is amazing what this month can bring to us, how can it make us a better us, even if it is just once a year! Because it is far better being good at least once a year than never be! So Thank You Ramadan.

Ramadan Kareem.

Ouiam

Thank God It’s Friday! What’s For Sohour?! 

  

Ramadan is here! A holy month for all Muslims around the world! It is also a busy month (you probably have noticed that I haven’t posted a thing since last Friday lol). We fast from sunrise to sunset, and we break our fast with our family, friends and loved ones, in a beautiful, warm and very peaceful atmosphere. 

Just before sunrise, we eat a meal called “Sohour” and that would be the last meal until the following sunset, when we will break our fast, so we need it to be filling without being “too much” and my “Sticky Chocolate Coconut Squares” are just what we need! With a cup of milk and you’re set to go! Here, I will share the recipe with you all! 
1/2 Cup raw chocolate powder 

3/4 Cup dried coconut shredded and unsweetened 

1/2 Cup cashews or almonds (or both) 

A pinch of sea-salt

1/2 Cup honey 
Put the chocolate, coconut, cashews, and sea-salt in a food processor and blend until crumbly. Add the honey and process until it clumps together, almost like a dough. Press the mixture into a baking dish then cut into squares and you are done! 

Bon Appetit 

Ouiam 

Thank God It’s Friday: Chili Con Carne à la Chanel Mama! 

 I love to cook and I love to eat, I always try to look for new recipes and dishes so I don’t get bored, most importantly, so Adam and his dad don’t get bored lol. I usually plan my meals for the week every Saturday, that gives me a chance to prepare my grocery list for Sunday, because Sunday is Grocery shopping day! While planning my meals, I try to look online for diverse recipes from every corner of the world. So today I made Chili Con Carne and my family loved it!! Let’s make it together 😉 You will need the following: 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion (cut into small pieces)

3 chopped garlic cloves 

250g minced meat

1 capsicum (cut into cubes) 

1 tomato (cut into cubes)

2 tablespoons tomato paste 

400g kidney beans 

1 teaspoon Cumin 

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper 

Salt and pepper 

1 cup of water 

In a pan, pour the oil, then add the onion, garlic, season with salt and pepper, leave it simmer for 5 minutes then add the meat and the cumin. After 5 to 6 minutes add the capsicum, tomato, tomato paste, cayenne pepper and the water and let it cook for about 30 minutes.
Finally add the kidney beans. Once they are cooked, your Chili Con Carne is ready! 

Ouiam

THE Question…!!

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When you live in a small town, you kind of master the art of small talk. Every day you meet new people at the supermarket, at the gym, at the Startbucks next door, and you always stop for a chitchat, while waiting to pay for the groceries or after a session of Pilates, or while waiting for that Tall Vanilla Latte! And asking THE question: “Where are you from?, seems inevitable! For some reason, we all become curious to know this information and wait on it, as if it will somehow reveal a hidden side of that person standing in front of us! And once we hear the answer, we rush to open all the files in our brain, and see where we can categorize this person based on his nationality and tons of clichés. A little bulb lights up in our brain the minute we hear the answer and an image pops in, almost instantly, if it is “American” then we see Mac&Cheese and Barak Obama, If it is “French”, we see “La Tour Eiffel”, “Egyptian” then it is Pyramids and Koshary, Moroccan, then it has to be Couscous! In less than a second, we shrink hundreds of years of civilization into a dish, and a whole person and his perfectly structured identity to a place! Then we toss the whole thing into the bin, because yeah it is small talk after all and who cares anyways! Right?

So when someone asks you “where are you from?” What should your reply include? Where were you born? What passport do you hold? Where have you lived most of your life? Where are your parents from? I would say: Morocco! My case is easy because I was born and brought up in Morocco, I lived there about half of my age, my parents are from there, and I proudly hold a Moroccan passport. But I guess if you ask my son, it will be a little complicated, he was born in New York, USA. To a Moroccan mother and an Omani father, and he lived all his life in Bahrain! So where is he from?

This question always somehow bothered me, because it kind of deletes the person’s identity and makes him fit into one of the mean boxes (some of them are really mean). And most people, tend to treat you differently, if you were American than if you were Indian (at least in this part of the world). Do not get me wrong, this is definitely not my opinion and I am absolutely not saying that it is right, but this is the world where we live in! Myself, I have experienced very unpleasant scenarios, where I simply was judged, fitted in a small mean box, categorized into a Moroccan Wh#$%, just because I am one of the 33.573.292 people of the great kingdom of Morocco! It sure used to bother me so much, that I would rather say I was from “Azerbaijan” than say i was Moroccan -because in what world will I meet someone who is actually from Azerbaijan and can figure out that I am lying lol- just to avoid nasty comments from nasty people! With time though, I realized that there will always be narrow minded people in this world, who will judge every move of mine, so I chose not to entertain them and I managed not to care anymore. I am who I am, period!

While it is true, most people are just trying to strike a conversation by asking: “Where are you from?” I find the idea of pairing my identity with where I come from is terribly wrong! We do not choose where or when we are born, and can never change it. I can only hope that my son will live in a world where he wouldn’t be judged by his skin color, nationality or religion!

Ouiam

When My Husband Says….

      

When my husband says: “Take the rest of the day off, I’ll babysit”, I hear little bells ringing in my ears, i see little stars glowing and sparkling in front of my eyes, i see a little unicorn on my shoulder winking at me! And of course with the most excited tone i say – if not scream- : Yeeees!! While doing my happy dance! If you think that’s too much and i am probably exaggerating, then you certainly aren’t a full time mama lol! 

Usually i hear this magical phrase once or twice a week, and it only means one thing! I am finally getting some “Me Time”

No matter how much I enjoy my time with my little man, doing mummy stuff all day long, I still crave for some “Me” time, it is just essential for my sanity. In order to take care of my son, husband and home, I first need to take care of the woman I am! This “ME” time can be anything, from a nap to a trip to the salon for a mani-pedi, or the hair salon, a massage or coffee with a friend or hitting the gym or just some quiet time in my room reading and writing! I try to plan these few hours very carefully, so I get to do most of the things above at once. 

While I enjoy my time off, Adam and his dad, have some fun of their own. It is incredibly amazing to see these two, doing their own thing! My husband brings another side of my little baby that I usually can’t even see. Most of my time with Adam is spent in doing educational stuff, fun yes, but mostly educational, while when he is with his dad, they do silly stuff together, things that I can never even imagine lol. My husband is such a great father and I am extremely grateful for that! It came to him instantly after I gave birth that i was almost jealous! He was always good with kids but I never saw him with babies; so when we first had Adam, I was pleasantly surprised to see how amazing he was! I don’t know what is more fascinating: Seeing Adam with his dad, or seeing my husband with his son?! It just warms my heart, and fills me with this deep sense of gratitude and happiness! 

So today was one of those magical days, when i get to have some time for myself! I first headed to the gym for a class called “Abdominal Blast” at Equilibrium Amwaj (recently opened and i am loving it so far), then to the hair salon: Toni & Guy Bahrain, my favourite in the island! I only book appointments with “Liesel”, she is fantastic and super talented! And I had to finish this glamorous afternoon, with a stop at Starbucks, where I could finish my book peacefully! (A wonderful book that I can’t wait to share all about it in my “Happy Reading” post next month). Then it was time to go back to my mommy duties all fresh, full of energy and ready for new adventures with my little man and his dad!  

How about you? How do you balance between your needs and your children’s? What do you usually do in your “ME” time? Feel free to share your story! 

Ouiam 

Thank God It’s Friday: My Fish Curry!!! 

  

Hello from Bahrain! Currently, I am sitting on my sofa, where I do all of my blogging, and half of my reading (the other half I do it in my bed). In my pyjamas, and my hair is up in a messy bun. It is very quiet over here, and the reason is because my little rascal is asleep, after a long day of running around, swimming in the pool, playing with some home-made play dough, going out to see the birds, a trip to the supermarket and a football match with his mama lol! So yeah I am enjoying every minute of this precious silence! I do miss him though and can’t wait for tomorrow, to do it all over again. 

Today’s lunch was absolutely delicious, so I decided to share the recipe with you guys! And yes it is MY fish curry! A recipe I came up with, tried it and my husband loved it! 

 You will need: 

Fish fillets (any white fish will do) 

The juice of one lemon 

1 onion

Ginger (the size of a thumb) 

2 garlic cloves

1 chilli

Parsley and Coriander (few leaves each) 

1/2 cup of chopped lemongrass 

1 tomato (cut into pieces) 

200ml coconut milk

50ml cooking cream  

2 tablespoons fish sauce 

1 tablespoon of sugar 

1 tablespoon of butter 

After you clean the fish, season it very well with salt and pepper, and add the lemon juice, leave it for about 20 minutes.

In a blender, mix the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, parsley and coriander, until you get a paste. In a pan, put the butter and add the paste you blended earlier, season with salt and pepper, let it simmer, then add the tomato, sugar and fish sauce. Place the fish fillets in the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk and the cooking cream. When the fish is cooked your curry is ready! 

Bon Appetit! 

Ouiam