Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jummuah Journals

One of the many things that I love about homeschooling is that we are able to go for Jummuah (Friday Prayers) just about every single week together as a family alhamdulillah.  I find it to be a really nice family bonding time and also a good opportunity for learning.  I find my kids have easily learned the etiquettes of Jummuah through repetition and routine.
Our routine usually includes:
-listening to surah kahf
-nice clothes
-trying to arrive early, and a reminder of the hadith that the angels stand at the mesjid doors writing the names of the attendees
-dua for entering / leaving mesjid
-reminder to be quiet during khutbah (and now as yusuf gets older listening to more of the khutbah)
-meeting friends
-greeting elders by going up to them and shaking their hands
-giving charity
-and most of the time we go out as a family for lunch afterwards

Last Jummuah, mashaAllah I noticed Yusuf really sat nicely and quietly to listen to the khutbah.  The khateeb spoke about the tongue / speaking good etc.  I realized that mashaAllah Yusuf is old enough to learn or retain at least one thing from the khutbah and I thought of the idea of having a 'Jummuah Journal.'  Since writing is not one of Yusuf's strengths, I thought that he could get the needed practice by writing out what he learns in a journal every week.  So the next day, we spoke about the khutbah and he told me what he remembered.  I then wrote down a sentence to summarize it and then he copied it in his journal.

I hope inshaallah we can continue to do this on a weekly basis.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What I wish someone would have told me...

I wouldn't have believed what I wish someone had told me. I was so busy listening to the 'experts' that I almost missed out on many learning experiences. I wish that someone had told me that I am the expert. I am the only person qualified to make the important judgments necessary to teach my son.

I had all the "experts" in the school system telling me why homeschooling isn't the best thing for him. i had all the "experts" in the family telling me how damaging this move was going to be for my son. i had all the 'experts" selling me expensive curricula. 

I have come to the realization that all of these people have their opinions, but none of them lives with my son daily. None of them has cried over the difficulty he had in school (or cried tears of joy over his achievements) . None of them loves him as I do. There are no experts. Others can offer advice that might be helpful, but no one knows what I know about my own children. 
-Sue Chris Carty, homeschooling mom

Friday, November 9, 2012


Ibby loves to make stairs :)

Hajj Diaries Cont'd

To read previous post, click here.

Friday, October 28, 2011  
Around 10am
Madinah Airport

Madinah Airport.
The planes and buses use the same road

We just got off our fourth plane!  SubhanAllah it has been a very long and tiring journey!  We are exhausted now and waiting for our bus to take us to our hotel.  After we check into our hotel, shower, hopefully we will rest and then go to the mesjid inshaAllah.  

My appetite is slowly returning alhamdulilah and I am getting more excited. But I think the exhaustion is just making me numb of too many emotions.  

We can see mountains all around us. I find mountains to be such a humbling creation.  I am reminded of the ayah in Surah Hashr:

"If We had sent down this Qur'an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah . And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought." [Hashr: 21]
Mountains in Madinah

When I see a mountain, I think of how huge and strong it is, yet Allah says if the Quran had been revealed on it, it would have crumbled out of the fear and humility.  And if we compare ourselves to a mountain, we are so small and weak.  Do we humble ourselves when we read and hear Allah's word?  Do we give it the respect and weight that it deserves?  I pray Allah SWT helps us to give the Quran it's right, and that He makes it a witness for us, and not against us, Ameen. 


I like the palm trees

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hajj Diaries Cont'd

To read previous post, click here.

Friday, October 28, 2011
Around 4am
Jeddah Airport

Alhamdulillah we have arrived!  We passed the miqat about a half hour before landing and more than half the plane was already in ihram.  Once we passed the miqat everyone began chanting the talbiyah.  It was so amazing and emotional to know that we have finally arrived.  I just kept thinking that subhanallah we are here, we are actually here!  Allah has brought us here, to a land where I have never been to yet ached to see.  The only place in the world I would sacrifice leaving you for so long.  The land where our beloved Rasoolullah SAW was born, lived, received revelation, fought for us, strove to spread the deen and then finally returned to his Lord.  The thought and feeling is overwhelming and humbling.  SubhanAllah.

Baba in line with our papers
We are now waiting at Jeddah airport.  Alhamdulilah the airport is not as bad as I expected.  People told us it would be extremely crowded and that we would either loose our luggage or it would take forever to find.  Maybe its because it was 2am, but it wasn't that bad.  We found our luggage within ten minutes, but there is one couple in our group who has not yet gotten theirs.  We are going to either take a plane or bus to Madinah, our Hajj guides are working it out now.

Baba reading Quran
Unfortunately the racism is already obvious.  As we checked our bags in through customs, a Saudi man stood arrogantly with his arms crossed, wearing a suit, while a man, most likely of south Asian decent, wearing a blue jumper lifted all the heavy bags.  I understand that they were each probably doing their jobs, but in a land where everyone is Muslim, I just expected more of a brotherly attitude towards one another.  If my friend was infront of me lifting heavy bags, I wouldn't just watch. But anyways, I was reminded of Bilal RA, who was an African slave that became Muslim and whose status was elevated to one of the most respectful companions.  Islam abolished the concept of racism, and in the birthplace of Islam, I would expect better then what I have seen.

Were sitting in the hajj terminal now and there is a lady in our group who is in a wheelchair.  There is man who works at the aiport who keeps coming up to the lady and her family and insists on pushing the wheelchair so that he can earn a mere 10 riyals.  This makes me realize and be grateful for the fact that alhamdulillah Baba has a reliable income and he does not have to go around looking for small jobs to do to collect money.  Its not that I look down upon this man who wants to push the wheelchair, its just I feel sorry for him that he has to beg.  May Allah swt make it easy for him and all those afflicted with poverty, Ameen.

When I first started leaning about Islam, I noticed that there is a such an emphasis on the kind treatment of guests and travelers.  Its only after you experience travelling that you can understand and appreciate this.  Alhamdulilah our travels have not been difficult but we are far from home, I am not an experienced traveler, and I have been feeling sick.  MashaAllah Baba has been taking good care of me, making sure I feel okay, that I have the right papers, carrying my stuff etc, but when the people working behind the counters at the airports are nice, or when someone smiles and offers you water, it really makes a difference.  May Allah reward all of those who try to ease the affairs of the travellers, ameen.

The lady who was sitting beside me on the plane from Egypt to Jeddah did not speak English but she kept gesturing to check on me and make sure I was okay.  When everyone began saying the talbiyah, we were bot very emotional and crying a lot, so I gave her a tissue.  It was a special moment.

The quality is bad, but this is perhaps one of the most emotional videos that I have from our entire journey.  You can see the top of my head beside Baba, I am looking down and practically bawling.

Hearing everyone recite the talbiyah was amazing.  I've heard the talbiyah many times before but to hear it live, with real haajis on their way answering Allah's call, was something else.  During the filght, the diversity of everyone was so obvious.  Like I said before, communication was a challenge, but once we passed the miqat everyone was in complete unison.  SubhanaAllah.

I was remembering the time last year when I was teaching you about Hajj.  It wasn't until I taught you the talbiyah that I learned it myself.  I miss our homeschooling days.  Being at home with you and learning is such a blessing.  I pray that we have many more moments of sharing and learning together inshaAllah.

Anyways, we are going to pray fajr soon.
Hopefully Ill be able to call you in a few hours, I hope.  I feel so far away from you.
Miss you tons!

I took this picture for you. You love these 'zamboni' machines :)

The talbiyah being played on loud speakers at Jeddah airport around 3am

Talbiyah: 'Here I am O Allaah, (in response to Your call), here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise, grace and sovereignty belong to You. You have no partner.’
Ihram:  the two unstitched cloths that men wear in pilgrimage
Miqat: Boundaries where the pilgrim must wear the ihram

Royal Agricultural Fair

Alhamdulillah I love being apart of a Homeschooling Group.  One of our fellow homeschoolers arranged a trip to the Royal Agricultural Fair.  We got a school discount and went as a group on the Go Train.  We had lots of fun and learned alot (and even got a bunch of free resources!).  Check it out here.

Milking Cows

Family of sheep

4 stomachs of a cow

Learning about horses

Digging for horse bones

Ibby insisted this lama was a giraffe

Feeding lamas

Pumpkin growing competition

My gramma surprised us and met us there.  She also took the train.  I think taking the train was the highlight of our day.

Free Entertainment

Who needs a TV when you can watch the garbage truck from your bedroom window?

Candy Mesjids

We made mesjids out of crackers, icing and candies :)


I bought a pumpkin, we carved it, seeded it, cooked it, made puree out of it and then made cookies! It was fun and yummy.  Click here for the recipe we used.
Taking the seeds out.  Ibby did not want to get his hands dirty.

Ibby deciding he did not want to take part in this messy activity

The cooked pumpkin.  Once it was cooled, I peeled it and put it in my food processor

High Park

We recently went on a field trip to High Park. As always it was awesome mashaallah.  For anyone living in the Toronto area, I highly recommend them... take a look at their website - www.highparktoronto.com
They have programs all year round.

Looking for flowers

Putting leaves on our noses

First field trip for our newest addition

Looking at a tiny caterpillar

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hajj Diaries

Its been a year since we went for Hajj.  This Hajj season I was really missing it and thinking about our amazing time there. As a reminder for myself and my children, I kept a journal of my experience.  I know its delayed, but its better than nothing :)  And though its not exactly homeschool related, I wanted to share it on my blog....
I wrote them in a letter format to my kids.
Before we left for hajj, I wrote them another letter... Click here to read it.
I hope you benefit and enjoy.
[Typing up my entire journal will take a while so I will post one entry at a time inshaAllah.]

Thursday, October 27, 2011
Onboard Air Egypt

To my Precious boys, Yusuf and Ibraheem,

Our hajj journey has officially begun.  We are more than half way to a land I have never been to before, but have ached to go for years, as if I was returning home.  Only Allah knows how hard it was for me to leave you.  I hesitated for a long time but alhamdulilah Allah guided me to what was right and here we are, on our way.   Baba and I left you while you were sleeping, as it would have been too painful saying goodbye if you were awake.  We put you to bed and waited until you fell asleep.  We told you that we would be leaving and you were anxious and nervous, but I’m proud of you because you were strong.  Kissing you goodbye was, no doubt one of the hardest things I have done in my life, my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest, but as always, Allah helped me through it.  I know you will be okay, and I know Allah will take care of you.

Naani, Ami and Dada took us to the airport.  Chachi and Kaka stayed at home with you and your cousins.   It was very hard for me to make salam to Chachi, infact it was so hard that I just rushed it and quickly walked out the door so that I could hold back my tears.  Baba drove in Ami and Dada’s car and I went in Naani’s.  On the way to the airport my close friends were text messaging me and my tears were flowing nonstop.  I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to you and our family, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard with friends.  In moments like this you realize how important people are to you. 

Saying goodbye to Naani
When we got to the airport it was empty.  Our flight was at 11:30pm and I was extremely nervous, and very nauseous.  We said our goodbyes to Ami, Dada and Naani and then went in.  I didn’t cry too much at the airport, I think once I got there I became a little numb.  I called Naani one last time from the payphone, since I decided I would leave my cell at home, but she was in the washroom and missed my call.  I was sad because I couldn't call her a second time because I didn’t have anymore change.   Taking off was very difficult! It was scary, and even hurt, to know that Id be an ocean away from you.  There was a lot of turbulence on our way to London, which reminded me of death.  Being so far up in the air, over the wide ocean, in the pitch black, really makes you realize that our lives are in the Hands of Allah and you are forced to completely rely on Him.  Preparing for this trip has reminded me  a lot of death.  Thinking of being in a foreign country so far away from the familiarity of home makes me wonder how it will be to leave this life for the next?  We are told about the next life and have an idea of what to expect, but we wont really know how it is until we get there.  May Allah make it easy for us and protect us, ameen.

Travelling dua on Air Egypt

Flying over Egypt
London airport was huge and crowded.  There were so many stores.  I tried looking for a postcard for you but I couldn’t find any, and I was exhausted and desperate for sleep.  Alhamdulilah I found a bench to lay down on and got a short nap.  Baba said I was snoring, and normally I wouldn’t lay down in such a crowded area, but the nausea and exhaustion was getting to me and I knew I had to get some rest.  Baba got some lunch but I was too nervous to eat.  We stayed in London for about four hours and then boarded Egypt Air.  Alhamdulilah we got window seats and it was daytime so we could see everything clearly which was amazing.  When we were entering Egypt it was night time and all we could see were lights.  We thought we saw the pyramids based on the lines of the lights.  Once we landed, we quickly prayed in the airport and then took a bus to the Hajj terminal. We could see many people from different countries, many of them already in ihram, so its started to feel a bit more like Hajj.

 Hajj terminal in Egypt
It’s so interesting to see how people dress so differently.  Baba and I like the African cultural clothing!  They’re so bright, colourful, patterned and matching.  Everyone in the plane now speaks different languages so communicating is challenging.  There was some confusion about seating arrangements among different passengers, but alhamdulilah it got resolved.  It’s amazing to see so many different cultures, colours, languages, dresses, behavior,  yet we all have so much in common.  We’ve all had our struggles to get here, all seeking the Pleasure of Allah.  We have all saved money, left loved ones and the comfort and familiarities of our lives, hoping and praying that Allah will return us home pure and cleansed of our sins.

I met a sister from Ottawa in the airport, she has left her three kids so we understand each others pain.  We cried together and hugged each other which was alhamdulilah comforting.  She is also in our group so inshaAllah we will spend more time together. 

I miss you both terribly!  Forgive me for leaving you behind but it would have been too difficult.  I love you so much!  The plane is taking off now, inshaAllah I will write later.