Body Image and Muslim Women

Source: google.com via Jillian on Pinterest

My older sister wanted to share her thoughts about how Muslim women are not immune to unrealistic images of women in the media.

It could not have come at a better time since I have a bully in my life. She, like most bullies, think its okay to tell people unflattering and just mean things. It’s not.

Her latest thing to talk about is my weight. At first, I was hurt. Then I tried to be proactive and watch what I ate and exercise. Then I realized, “Screw this bully!” She probably is cranky because she wishes she could enjoy life like I do! (Plus I really enjoy food and was getting annoyed saying no any time someone offered me something to eat). Here is what my sister said:

“We all have fellow women (and men) who try to impose unrealistic ideals on us. What can we as practicing Muslim women do to help this situation? First we must believe that this body temporarily houses a far more beautiful thing called the soul. How beautiful this soul is depends on our deeds and actions and not some arbitrary thing like genetics. We must believe our bodies are an amanat or trust from Allah and as such must put pure and halal food into it and make sure it’s done in moderation.

We must also make sure we are exercising at least 30 minutes a day. This can be done and maybe sisters can start a walking club. Even sisters at home can do tons of exercise that don’t require special equipment. Learn to love and embrace your self. I read somewhere about stretch marks– I am a tiger that has earned her stripes.”

So I still watch what I eat and exercise, but I would much rather be known for my beautiful soul. And let’s all pray that this bully starts to change and focuses on having a beautiful soul herself.

Fall Must Haves!

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Clockwise: sweater from Banana Republic, top from St Johns Bay, jeans from Banana Republic, bag by Mulberry.

Fall is a great time of year for hijabis because we can actually add layers to add coverage to our outfits without adding too much bulk.

I used to HATE orange as an outfit color (just ask my Rahnuma Bhabi), but these recent fall pieces have me singing a different tune.

Pairing brights such as hot pink and orange with rich toned pieces in camel or brown gives your outfits depth and a luxe feel.

Some pairing to try are: yellow with mocha, camel with fire engine red, ecru with cobalt, and the combo of orange with oatmeal.

Are there brights you are scared to wear? Try these tips and tell me what you think!

The Beauty of Friends

If you are lucky, you have friends that not only are with you during good times, but through hard times too. I mean a friend who doesn’t just agree with everything you say or do, but a friend who is willing to set you straight.

That type of friendship is rare, but if you find it, Islam recommends you cultivate it and care for it.

In Islam, the Prophet (saws) always spoke of the importance of brotherhood and camaraderie.

“You cannot enter paradise unless you become a total believer and you won’t become a total believer unless you love each other.”

I have always relied on my girlfriends to get me through life and give me good advice based on Islam. I can honestly say that they make me a better wife and mother. I love you ladies! I hope you know that your love counts with Allah (swt).

So if you are having a bad day, make sure you talk it out with a close friend. And make sure to share this post and tell them how much you love them!

Fall Squash Curry

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As a working mom, it’s easy to be too tired to fix a healthy meal for my family during the work week. So for those days, I turn to quickie easy recipes like this one.

Fall is the perfect time for foodies. From seasonal offerings at places like Starbucks, to farmer’s markets popping up everywhere, it’s easy to experiment with your recipes.

Fall is the time of year that squash like zucchini is abundant, so I just threw together this dish tonight for dinner. I promise that even if you never made a curry before in your life, this recipe will help you make an authentic one. Thanks Amma (my mom) for teaching me this easy basic in my early teens.

Make it and then curl up to snuggle with your family!

Minara’s Fall Squash Curry

1 med onion chopped
3 tbs EVOO
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red hot chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chopped naga pepper (also known as ghost pepper. If you can’t find this, just replace with chopped Thai chilies)
3 med zucchini sliced thinly
1/4 lb jumbo shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into bite sized pieces
3 tbs EVOO (or any oil you have on hand will do)

Total prep time: 15 minutes
Total cooking time: 28 minutes
Total time: 43 minutes

1) Heat a medium sauté pan and add EVOO
2) After 3 minutes, add chopped onion and sauté till onions turn translucent.

3) Add salt and sauté.
4) Add naga pepper and sauté.

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5) Add spices and sauté for 7 minutes on medium heat.

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6) Add bite sized shrimp and cook until pink.

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7) Add zucchini and cook on 10 minutes medium heat.

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8) Raise heat and cook for 8 minutes high heat or until zucchini turns translucent.

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9) Serve with brown rice.

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The Power of Prayer

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Salah (the daily prayer that Muslims do five times a day) is something that we may take for granted sometimes. We get caught up with taking care of our kids, work meetings, and other things. But it’s something that if you do it regularly, you look forward to.

Why?

It’s because salah or any prayer brings peace of mind. You can step away from life’s craziness and recenter just by having a one on one with God.

I love how my office park (pictured above) is lush with greenery. It helps me focus and remember who created all that beauty.

When I miss a salah, I feel like my whole day is ruined. And I guess that is the way I should feel based on the hadith below:

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “If people only knew the reward of giving the prayer-call or the merit of standing in the first row of the congregational prayers, they would insist on drawing lots for finding a place therein. And if they could know the merit of repairing to the mosque early for noon prayers, they would go there running and if they were to know the blessings of night and early morning prayers, they would go to the mosque dragging themselves on their buttocks if they had not the strength to walk upto it” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Fall Fashions

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Clockwise from upper left hand corner: metallic scarf from Express, ruffle cardigan from Simply Very by Vera Wang, the Court shoe at Zara, long pocket skirt by Zara.

Fall is a hijabi’s favorite time of year. This is because stores are brimming with hijab friendly items like long sleeved cardigans, long skirts, and even longer sweaters.

One of my favorite things to do in fall is to stock up on jewel toned pieces. It’s a great way to update your look without having to do an entire wardrobe overhaul. This season, I am loving all of the teal pieces I see. Wear one item in a jewel tone and keep the rest of the outfit neutral.

The outfit I compiled is pops of emerald green and teal tempered with black. Nude pumps finish the look by lightening the whole outfit.

What are your go to pieces for fall?

Mommyhood

I have been very busy with work recently. As you know, work season in fall typically means making sure you meet certain goals from earlier in the year. So that means in fall, there is one final push to make those goals a reality.

However, being a mom never stops, so I have been super tired lately. Which got me thinking how ALL moms, stay at home and working moms really should thank Islam for recognizing all the hard work we do.

As I *finally* put my tired swollen feet up for the first time tonight (to go to sleep!), I think how apt the often quoted Hadith of the Prophet (saws) is.

My feet may not be pretty and manicured, but according to the Prophet (saws), they are the heart of a metaphor:

The Prophet Muhammad said, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him: Your Heaven lies under the feet of your mother (Ahmad, Nasai).

So the next time all you moms out there are feeling tired and you need to put your feet up, just remember how special those feet are.

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Islamic Marriage Advice

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My mom is a very special lady to me.

The thing with our parents is that they have wisdom that only experience can afford.

Today, I asked her about her thoughts on marriage in Islam. As usual, she told me something very wise. She said:

“Nowadays, people place far more importance on their careers than their marriages. Muslims need to view marriage as a start up company. If your boss asks you to work harder, you not only do it, but do it gladly! But if your husband asks for a simple kindness like a glass of water, it’s a BIG deal. Spouses are ready to walk away when things get tough. If people placed as much importance on their marriages like they did on their careers, the marriage would be a lot easier and happier.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Mmmm Halal S’mores

It’s fall in San Francisco which means its still summer weather (80 degrees!). We all remember summer time is when other kids would get to go to camp and make s’mores. But Muslim kids had a tough time because marshmallows have gelatin (which is a pork product). So we would never get to sit at a campfire and toast s’mores!

Well there are better marshmallow options now! So I indulged my inner wannabe camp kid with this halal s’mores recipe.

I found a vegan marshmallow option at Whole Foods called Dandies. As a self proclaimed foodie, I decided to dress up s’mores by using Lindt milk chocolate and some regular graham crackers.

As you can tell by the photos below, the result was camp approved deliciousness that resulted in a melty gooey mess.

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The recipe is fairly simple (adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe):

Prep Time: 7 minutes

Ingredients
6 whole graham crackers

1 bag mini marshmallows

2 Lindt Milk Chocolate bars, split into pieces of 3

Directions

Split graham cracker into 2 halves. On top of graham cracker squares place 4 mini-marshmallows.

Place under broiler for a few seconds until browned.

Remove and place 3 piece chunk of a Lindt bar on top of the toasted marshmallows.

The heat from the marshmallow will melt the chocolate.

Place other 1/2 of graham cracker on top. Press lightly to flatten marshmallows. Enjoy!