Monthly Archives: July 2013

nostalgic ramadan

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Hello everyone, feels like I haven’t blogged for ages, in reality it’s just gone over a week. I’ve been busy this Ramadan, but it’s been really good, Alhamdulillah. Even though it’s a rather long fast for us in England (18 hours), coupled with the hot spell we had for the first 2 weeks, we have managed well and simply love our Ramadan routine. We’re in the last 10 blessed days now and I feel a pang of sadness creeping in knowing that this special month will soon leave us. I also feel nostalgic at this time of the year (the Muslim months of Ramadan and Shawwal) because inevitably my thoughts will revert to my beloved dad who passed away on the 1st day of Shawwal (Eidul Fitr) back in 2001.

He suffered from a terminal illness throughout Ramadan 2001 and finally left us along with this blessed month that year. My beloved dad had always loved Eid, the celebration that comes after our 1 month’s fasting in Ramadan. He was always excited about Eid and even towards the end of his life he begged the doctors to release him from hospital, he needed to get home to celebrate Eid. He was going home, he said. And he did, he returned to his Creator, God the Almighty on the day he loved most.

I was tidying up the other day and found an old photo album containing photos of Eid in my homeland Malaysia when my dad was alive in the year 2000. I had to choke back my tears when I saw his photos, he was smiling radiantly in all of them, especially the ones with his grandson, my eldest child. My father really adored his grandson since the day he was born, particularly so as he only had daughters. Eid has never been the same ever again for my family back home, i.e my mother and two younger sisters. But life goes on as they say, and I know for certain my late dad would want us to carry on and smile without him. The sweet memories remain, he is still within each person; my mom and sisters, his siblings and extended family, my husband and children.

To all Muslims reading this post, I hope you’ll take a few seconds to read Al-Fatihah for my beloved dad in this blessed month of Ramadan, may God bless you. I leave you with a few pictures from my old photo album; of my hubby, my son, my closest friends and myself. However, I cannot bring myself to publish our photos with my family in Malaysia back then, for my dad was in each one of them. I love you so very much my dearest beloved dad, always and forever. My thoughts and prayers in this blessed month are with you and the others who have left this world, rest in peace.

hubby and I on Eid in Malaysia, with our first born, our only son

hubby and I on Eid in Malaysia, with our first born, our only son

with my closest friends at my family home

with my closest friends at my family home

my dad may have left me, but I still see him in my beloved hubby and son

my dad may have left me, but I still see him in my beloved hubby and son

ramadan biryani

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I can’t believe we’re halfway through Ramadan already, how time flies! Our bodies have adjusted to fasting by now, I certainly feel better for it (do refer to the video clip in my previous post for the health benefits). Anyway, it’s only natural to crave certain foods when you’re fasting, even though you can only manage a small amount when you finally break your fast. I love Indian Biryani, I normally cook it on special occasions like the approaching Eidul-Fitr. Of late I’ve been following another British cook guru, Rick Stein, on his trip to explore foods in India, in a 6 part BBC programme called Rick Stein’s India. Truly amazing I must say, I can relate it to my hubby’s own journey to India earlier this year (do read my posts on India).

Well, Rick Stein had a Chicken Biryani recipe featured in one of his shows, so I decided to try it out. Much simpler than the recipe I’m used to, so it’s great for Ramadan, where you can minimise your cooking time. I cooked it when my hubby completed his first round of Quran recitation, so it was like a mini celebration. Biryani has always been a celebratory kind of dish, fit for a king as they say, or the newborn prince! 😉 You can find the recipe here if you’re interested. I was totally pleased with the result, given the simplistic nature of the recipe. You can adapt it to suit your taste of course, I always lessen the amount of chillies so that my younger ones can enjoy it too. I leave you with a few step by step pictures of my Ramadan Biryani below. Happy cooking to all, especially to the Muslim women busy preparing Iftar dishes for their families to break their fast with. Even the simplest of meals can taste superb when cooked with your own loving hands! 🙂

fried onions and marinade chicken

fry the dry spices

add chopped tomatoes and simmer till almost dry

boil rice separately till half cooked

layer the chicken and rice

ofewfp

ramadan updates

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our typical Iftar (breaking fast food)

Greetings everyone, hope you’re all well! I thought I’d pop a few lines this Ramadan after all, guess blogging is addictive! Just a quick update on our fasting here in England, which is about 18 hours altogether from dawn (3.20am currently) to dusk (9.20pm currently). Everyday the onset of dawn increases by a couple of minutes and the start of dusk lessens by a couple of minutes. Which means by the end of Ramadan (around 7th or 8th August) we would finish our Suhoor meal by 4am (onset of dusk) and have our Iftar meal by 8.50pm. Even though our fasting is longer compared to my homeland which is about 13 hours, Alhamdulillah we’ve been able to perform it without much difficulty (including my older children). I must also mention the current heatwave in England, temperatures been soaring to 30c most days for several weeks now without any sign of rain. Not something the Brits are used to, this prolonged intense heat.

Another point to note is that fasting is not just about refraining from food and drink; it also involves guarding what you hear, say and do. Which is the bit I find difficult to be honest; especially when it comes to dealing with my moody teenager and my cheeky 4 year old, the whole world has to revolve around them it seems! I am supposed to exercise extra patience and refrain from nagging at them in this holy month, try as I might I just cannot do it! May God forgive me! 😦 Anyway, I’ve posted a picture of one of our recent Iftars, the typical food we have to break our fast with. We would then perform our Maghrib prayers, followed by a more elaborate meal (although lesser in amount) akin to dinner. The next prayer Isha’ starts about an hour later followed by further extra prayers which last till midnite. We then go to bed briefly before waking up for our morning meal around 2.45am, in preparation for next day’s fasting. After performing our prayer at dawn we go back to bed again till morning. We go about our daily routine as normal but try to read as much Quran as possible whenever we can. My husband usually completes his Quran reading thrice each Ramadan, I try my best to finish once.

Another point worth mentioning is the sense of togetherness Ramadan brings. We exchange Iftar food with our neighbours and we also do group Iftars. This weekend my children will be having their close friends over to our house for a few hours of play and Iftar. I have a ladies’ Iftar invite to attend at a friend’s soon and my hubby’s attending a forthcoming Iftar with his regular Inter-faith group (the non-Muslims will be there too). We might join a few more collective Iftars especially towards the end of Ramadan. I like the community spirit these group Iftars and sharing of food bring us, especially as I tend to miss my nearest and dearest back in my homeland most at this time of the year. The spirit of Ramadan is stronger back home for sure, but having said that I’m very fortunate to be here in England where the atmosphere is still good. Even my local superstore has a whole aisle full of Ramadan stock as you can see below! Ramadan is a month when you feel more tired than usual but spiritually heightened. It’s the month to focus and feed on your spiritual needs rather than your physical ones. End of my Ramadan chatter, I leave you with a short clip which I found to explain to my children about what fasting does to the body. Take care!

(Don’t forget to click on the Ramadan video clips on my right-hand side widgets for more insight into Ramadan!)

Ramadan stock at my local superstore

 

ramadan mubarak 2013

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Greetings everyone, I hope you’ve all had a good weekend! Ramadan (Muslim fasting month) is dawning fast upon me and Muslims across the world (commencing tomorrow or Wednesday), I am so looking forward to it, Inshallah! Alhamdulillah, this year is rather special to me as I’ve had the great opportunity to attend several religious talks in mosques over Birmingham and London. These talks have definitely uplifted my spirits in more ways than one, I now feel fully recharged to welcome Ramadan! I blogged about my Birmingham trip last weekend in my previous post, this one is of my London visit the weekend just gone. My family and I were in the boroughs of Harrow and Hounslow in West London for the talks, but we also popped by the borough of Southall for a quick spot of shopping to pass the time.

It’s been a hectic weekend for sure especially for my little ones (with the long distance travel and summer heat of 28c) but we have benefited immensely and for that we are truly grateful. As usual I’ve selected a series of photos below so that you’re able to share my experiences. I shall be rather busy in this holy month of Ramadan, hence I don’t think I will be blogging much at all. I hope all my readers and followers will continue to visit my blog though, I now have 135 posts so that should keep you well occupied till I return to the blogging world after a month, Inshallah! Once again I would like to wish all fellow Muslims Ramadan Mubarak, have a blessed and fruitful month ahead! To the rest of you out there, take good care till we meet again!

we are in London!

we explored the area

the Harrow mosque in the background

my son in the picture now, fruits slightly pricey here

greetings from Harrow!

ready to go to the mosque now

entering the Harrow mosque compound

I feel like I’m back in the East

my girls got changed and performed their prayers before the talk

my girls got changed and performed their prayers before the talk

we came out just before dusk

off to our hotel for the night

off to Southall the next morning

absorbing the sound, sight and smell

transported to the East again

papa, please could I have that pink phone?

we need more dates for Ramadan, papa

common sight in every corner

ambling along

all that glitters!

the famous Asian sweet shop

halal food everywhere

ice-creams a must on a hot summer’s day!

fascinating sight

I just love this buzzing place! Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

I just love this buzzing place! Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

At Hounslow Mosque for another talk before heading home

 

ramadan spirit

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As mentioned in my previous post, Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month) is just round the corner. We have about a week left to go, but the Ramadan spirit can already be felt even here in England. This was what we experienced in Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK, which has one of the largest Muslim population in the country. Many of the areas there remind me of back home! We had the pleasure of visiting Birmingham again over the weekend, we were there mainly to attend a talk at a mosque. Some sort of spiritual upliftment is necessary in preparation for the blessed month dawning soon. However, we also took the opportunity to do some shopping to stock up for Ramadan. We’ve always enjoyed shopping there, simply because there’s more variety and we’re able to find many Eastern foods and goods that we like. Therefore it was a fruitful weekend in Birmingham indeed for us as you can see from the photos I’ve selected below.

Anyway, Ramadan is a time for me to increase my faith with acts of worship, a holy month to be cherished. It is a time of spiritual reflection and self-improvement, time to take stock and become a better person. Hence, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Muslims across the world Ramadan Mubarak. And to family, relatives, friends and acquaintances reading this post, I hope you will remember my family and I in your prayers in this blessed month, as you will be in mine. To the rest of my readers and followers, take good care for now and keep smiling wherever you are! Count your blessings! 🙂

(Come share our Birmingham experience!)

outside a supermarket

let’s choose some fruits!

let’s get a melon too

dates for Ramadan

these ones are good papa

my girls

let’s stock up

let’s load the car first

off to another store

huge pots!

some new plates?

papa’s favourite aisle

girls looking at henna cones

more stuff outside

let’s get some new scarves

off for a bite to eat

clothes store

halal food everywhere

our favourite restaurant

my girls gazing across the street

people watching

my lil one

my family

off to the mosque now

hubby and I