Category Archives: Gratitude

Culpepper Island – not on my bucket list

Earlier this year, Brother S wrote of his bucket list and included his wish to visit Culpepper Island, Barbados. He did so visit, and in late August organised a family & friends trek to the Island with himself as guide. Ok, I use the word ‘trek’ (which is what it turned out to be) but Brother S’ invitation said ‘walk’.  Amongst the items to be brought on the trek was a 50 foot length of rope. That alone ought to have warned me.

Trek to Culpepper Island

My photos end with the trek, and not with our scaling of the Island and not planting a flag atop. Why? Because the terrain became ….. rough, and I needed both hands – threw my phone to NoS who along with BH acted as my anchors along the treacherous path. Treacherous? Well, yeah – at one point I fell to my knees, and had to settle myself because I could not arise immediately – I could not find my left foot which had been placed on a deceptive clump of grass which apparently was growing aerially outwards and not upwards!

The walking journey began in Skeetes Bay, then uphill, onto a plateau with fantastic windy views. Next we began the trek along the hilly terrain, with marl and mud. At one point, my only way down was to brace myself crab-style on my hands and feet and slide down a gravel filled basin with BH bracing himself to help me. (Others slid down that basin like skateboarders on feet).

We made it to the small beach and I stood while my legs trembled. Brother S was first into the water carrying with him one end of that 50 foot length of rope. It ought to have been 60 to 70 feet because the other end (on the beachside) did not reach land. His initial invitation said walk to Culpepper Island. To be fair, his expanded invite said “Walk cross the beach and then wade out to Culpepper Island..” I think I missed the ‘wade’ part and saw ‘walk’. Anyway, by the time I had reached the beach,  Brother S was in the water, up to his neck (and he and BH are roughly the same height). Trepidation – I have to remember that I can swim and I really prefer my feet to be firmly planted on solid.

BD told me I had misled her – she had flat-ironed hair and she is the shortest in our family. Her friend S/ha didn’t walk with wet clothes. (We all thought we were walking through the water – at not less than knee high).  Nevertheless, we all proceeded to cross the water, holding onto the rope, BD behind me and reminding me he can’t swim when I stopped suddenly having lost traction and indeed, touch with the seabed. At the Island end, I put my footwear back on, and negotiated the very sharp rocks, did not clamber up the side but made it to just about 5 feet below the top of the Island. There faced me a chasm about 1/3 of my width (I could hear the wondering voices from the acme – how was I going to get up that?). BH literally had to haul me vertically up that final Island face. When I topped that Island, everything except my head was a-tremble.  The views were panoramic. From every side of the 100 x 70 square foot top of that Island. And watched villagers run down the path we had walked and jump off a ladder into the sea.

And then we had to make our way down.

I stood and wondered. And pondered. And finally had to make that step of fate/faith by grasping Brother Y’s shoulder and getting off the plateau. Made it down, and across the sea. (NoS carried BD on his back across that water – Youngest had long abandoned us in disgust at the puny figures we posed.) And then back to Skeetes Bay.

Surat Aale Imran: “And to Allah belongs the dominion of the Heaven and Earth, and Allah is over all things. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” [189-90]

Surat Ghaafir: “It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape and made your shapes beautiful and has provided for you sustenance.” [40:64]

Don’t be misled by the Title to this post – visiting it wasn’t on my bucket list (not sure I have one) but we are grateful to Brother S for his invitation, and for having been there, done that.

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My friend

On Saturday morning, I prepared for a workshop on Interviewers & Writers, and an appointment at 7a.m. In the kitchen preparing what would turn out to be crudites and tuna with tamarind dip, post fajr, I could hear my phone pinging, and then ring off after 1 ring.  (I am a checker of my phone messages in the mornings). I delayed checking. When I did, it was to see news that made me check again. Several sources reporting the same thing.

Qalloo nafsin za aqatul mawt – my friend, Maulana Mohmad Kholwadia had passed away. Stunned by its unexpectedness, I checked BH who was awake enough for me to share that news. And later on, BD. And even later on, while at my appointment, and with reddened eyes from various involuntary spurts of weeping, I shared with another friend that I could not go to see the family yet. But this post is not about me. This is about my friend.

We met Maulana almost 14+ years ago, when he became the first teacher of our first child who attended madressa. Our female child who attended madressa at a masjid which did not facilitate female attendees. Maulana was recommended by another friend of ours, who knew of his gentleness with children, his command of English, and his ability to teach Arabic without the urdu influences. Alif baa taa and not alif bay tay. Our second child started with him a year later. Then our eldest and Maulana’s youngest wound up in the same class with each other, and formed a fast friendship that lasted them throughout primary school.

From then until his death, we moved along the path of friendship – this Maulana who always wore white (with occasionally a grey trouser), who always wore a white topi and who I can visualise even now pushing that topi up on his forehead and settling it back into place. A Maulana who when he saw me walking with a child (or was it children) from the doctor’s office, years ago, stopped to give us a lift. A Maulana who was quiet and reserved and who I often teased about stepping up and speaking in public, and who agreed that he should. A Maulana whose elementary schoolteachers thought was mute but whose parents knew otherwise. A Maulana who introduced my family to his family and whose home became a frequent stop for us and the second stop for us on almost every Eid day over the last decade. A Maulana who frequently took my children home with him or dropped them to my office from school or madressa. A Maulana who I think was a foodie – never in excess, but he seemed to like trying new foods, and who was able to share recipes and flavours. Last year, BH was able to let him taste baked turkey, and he thought we should try caviar. A Maulana who was my go-to for contacts for cooks in the community, for questions on inheritance, for easy access to answers on fiqh. A Maulana who smoothed the way for BD when I was traumatised by the early onset of her menses and no one was ready for any of the girls in her class to experience that. A Maulana who was surrounded by family – his parents, his wife, his daughters, his sons, his sisters and all of their families, and to whom we were introduced. A Maulana whose wife and elder daughter now say to BD and me, that when they see us, it brings Maulana to mind strongly. A Maulana, the walimah of whose offspring we attended. A Maulana who allowed his daughter to accompany BD and our family to outings because he felt she should experience them before the expected strictures settled. A Maulana who began teaching BH how to read Arabic and who continued to wish to continue to do so. A Maulana who often said that he wished he could show us India, the birth-land of his parents and spouse. A Maulana who was known for his gentleness with children – and sometimes berated for what was seen as his softness – but whom children loved. A Maulana who I have since come to know was one of the first three Barbadians to travel abroad to undertake Islamic studies. A Maulana who introduced his students to the essay (possibly as punishment). A Maulana who loved Trinidad and who accompanied his youngest daughter there just weeks ago to enrol her in school. A Maulana whose father was a Maulana. A Maulana who has sired three haafiz, and one aalimah and was grooming another. A Maulana who was an obedient son. A Maulana whose doors were open to Muslims from all walks of life, and all ethnicities, and backgrounds. A Maulana who always encouraged and did not admonish/discourage. A Maulana who attended all of the programmes we invited him to. A Maulana who encouraged me by saying some years ago, that soon, my sons would be able to make public Quranic recitations and du’as at events held in our home. A Maulana who embraced email and whatsapp. A Maulana who at one time feared that he was forgetting. A Maulana who was interested in legal matters. A Maulana who was friend to my husband. A Maulana who my office staff knew by sight. A Maulana who was allowed by BH  to drive his car. A Maulana who was brisk but never brusque with us. A Maulana who walked or drove to masjid. A Maulana who was humble and self-effacing. A Maulana who performed the Hajj with his beloved wife last year.  A Maulana who earlier this year, offered with his wife to make gulab jamoon for us to share out when Youngest completed Qur’an . A Maulana whose suddenness of death and whose return to Allah swt, have made both BH and me cry. A Maulana whose friendship we are grateful to Allah swt to have experienced. A Maulana who was our friend and who is and will be missed.

Allah swt says:

To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. 

(Qur’an Surat Al Baqarah 2:156)
“Every soul shall have a taste of death, then to us you will be ultimately returned.”

(Qur’an Surat Al Ankaboot 29:57)

“Truly! The Muttaqun (pious and righteous persons – see V.2:2) will be amidst Gardens and water-springs (Paradise). “(It will be said to them): ‘Enter therein (Paradise), in peace and security.’ “And We shall remove from their breasts any sense of injury (that they may have), (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones. “No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave it.” 

Quran 15: 45-48 

Truly, Allah will admit those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens underneath which rivers flow (in Paradise), wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk. Quran 22: 23 

Verily, the dwellers of the Paradise, that Day, will be busy in joyful things. They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds) and all that they ask for. (It will be said to them): Salamun (peace be on you), a Word from the Lord (Allah), Most Merciful. Quran 36: 55-58

And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: Salamun ‘Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein.” And they will say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah Who has fulfilled His Promise to us and has made us inherit (this) land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will; how excellent a reward for the (pious good) workers!” 

Quran 39: 73-74 

Verily! The Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2), will be in place of Security (Paradise). Among Gardens and Springs; Dressed in fine silk and (also) in thick silk, facing each other, So (it will be), and We shall marry them to Houris (female fair ones) with wide, lovely eyes. They will call therein for every kind of fruit in peace and security; 

Quran 44: 51-55 

The description of Paradise which the Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2) have been promised is that in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine delicious to those who drink; and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure) therein for them is every kind of fruit; and forgiveness from their Lord. (Are these) like those who shall dwell for ever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels? 

Quran 47: 15 

Verily, The Muttaqun (pious), will be in the midst of Gardens and Rivers (Paradise). In a seat of truth (i.e. Paradise), near the Omnipotent King (Allah, the All-Blessed, the Most High, the Owner of Majesty and Honour).

May Allah swt forgive Maulana for any wrongs which he may have committed, and may He grant him mercy in the grave and on yawmul qiyyamah and may He grant him his Book of Deeds in his right hand and grant him entrance into Jannatul Firdaus, and may He guide his family and keep them on the path of those whom He has favoured. Ameen.

Gohstly suprises for Ramadan (and haleem)

Sometime yesterday I read a comment on one of sheenmeem’s posts on Perfume, that unexpected gifts are much more appreciated than expected gifts (think birthdays, anniversaries). I don’t necessarily agree but I know that unexpected gifts received in Ramadan make me very grateful to our Lord.

Yesterday, BD whatsapped (is that a recognised verb as yet?) that Brother S was passing by to drop off haleem for her from his mum, Sister Zulie. The excitement conveyed in her whatsapp message was evident. What is haleem?

Haleem is a stew composed of meat, lentils and pounded wheat made into a thick paste. It is originally an Arabic dish and was introduced to the Hyderabad State by the Chaush people during the rule of the Nizams (the former rulers of Hyderabad State).

When I got home from work in time to take BD to work, the haleem was there and dished for BD to take with her as her iftar. Off, NoS and I went to drop her off, returning immediately after BH & Youngest returned from Youngest’s football practice (while fasting – insert omg emoji here). Sped up the front steps, hurrying NoS to unlock the door to allow me to pray Asr, and there on a chair on the patio is a blue plastic bag with a food container – BH insisting it was the haleem, we trying futilely to explain that Brother S had been and delivered. We pick up the package and take it into the kitchen. Its contents reveal hot gohst. What is gohst? Wikipedia says:

Gosht refers to tender meat, cooked for a long time, and used as an ingredient in a number of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Several South Asian languages have adopted the Persian word gosht گوشت (also spelled ghosht), meaning “meat” or “flesh”, especially that of goat

The number of persons who could have dropped off the gohst (never for a moment did we think it was not meant for our home) were limited, but …………….. nobody had whatsapped us, think, think, think………….. Post iftar and in that post iftar moments of rest between iftar and leaving for isha & taraweeh salaah, BH reads his phone and the gifter is revealed!

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting persons reward.” [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan, Saheeh].

May Allah swt reward the gifters, the gifts, and the recipients this Ramadan.

Sabr & Shukr – Parent of the Year

Again, much time has passed since my last burst of enthusiasm (March) to post here. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) my ideas and blogs in my mind do not immediately transfer onto wordpress, so here I am once again.

In January, I played in the Annual Lawson Nurse Scrabble Tournament, and brought home another trophy! I have since lost the photograph of same. However, NoS and Youngest and BH each brought home a trophy on the same day. (And apparently I have also lost those photos). (This blog needs emojis).

BH was awarded ‘Parent of the Year’ and the other muslimah mother was also awarded ‘Parent of the Year’. So while I could crow about my word tiles, I would rather cite some scripture on parenting:

“…kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them”. (Quran 6:151)

[Quran 25:74]…..”Our Lord, let our spouses and children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous.”

[Quran 14:40] O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! and accept Thou my Prayer.”

Prophet Muhammad saws said, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.  The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.  A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock.  A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock”.

The Prophet (s) said: “Allah (SWT) will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked about the people of his household” (Nasa’i, Abu Da’ud)

O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded” (Qur’an 66:6).

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi va sallam) said, “The best gift to children from parents is their correct training”(Tirmizi).

Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:“Upon death, man’s deeds will stop except for three deeds, namely: a continuous charitable fund, endowment or goodwill; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and a pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously prays to Allah, for the souls of his parents” (Muslim).

Eid ul Adha 2016 – Part 1

I know, it’s too long a hiatus between posts. Sigh.

New school year has brought new commitments as BD, NoS, and Youngest each move into a year in which each faces significant examinations before entry into the next phase of their lives.

So this Eid, while we all made it to the Eid gaah at Wanderers, it was a close thing with respect to our physical attendance at the udhiya aspect of Eid ul Adha. BD’s schedule changed from a packed Monday to a low key Monday, Youngest attends the muslim primary school so he had one week off, but NoS chose to go to school – first day of school in a new form. We were merrily on our way home when the telephone call comes – an excited call – “How far away are you? They’re about to kill your bull.” Egads! How does one respond, and more importantly, evade, all of the traffic that you’re stuck in, traffic borne out of the numbers en route to first day of school?

We made it. Fortunately this year, there was not the large number at our usual venue, so we were all present (along with our Bahamian fresher who had accompanied us to salaat and who was viewing this type of activity for the first time), and as usual, humbled.

The hard work began and continued for BH & BD primarily. The cutting up, the lifting, the weighing, the dividing. Without Brothers Shafik & Tariq this year.

And the usual at home activities of weighing again, parcelling, rushing to cold storage, delivering.

And alhamdulillah, accepting friends’ invitations to visit their homes and be fed. Our home meal was simple – cumin seasoned rice, curried chickpea and potato, and Trini style stewed beef. At our friends’, there was beef gohst, naan bread, rice, pickled condiments, mutton curry, tandoori chicken (there were some who were aghast that that dish made it to the menu), liver (the first eaten meat on Eid ul Adha for most normal people I know – with the exception of my nuclear family exclusive of me – they remain stubborn neophytes), legumes.

This is the type of physical activity that this Eid engenders in the Caribbean – a day full of physical work, humbling, peaceful. A day that is all good.

Beach

 

PicMonkey Collage-Beaches

Hudhaifa reported:

The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: We have been made to excel (other) people in three (things): Our rows have been made like the rows of the angels and the whole earth has been made a mosque for us, and its dust has been made a purifier for us in case water is not available.

So, from left to right (yes, I admit it, I forgot how to get text/captioning done on picmonkey) are beaches in Barbados, where you can pray in solitude or saffs, and purify in water:): Bathsheba Bay, Carlisle Bay (top & bottom images), Bathsheba again (top), and Little Bay (bottom right and visit HIS CREATION for the symphony of images from this bay)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/beach/

Trini reflections on a birthday – be-Fog-ged

The prettily decorated cupcake & server tell their own story. Especially in conjunction with the title of this post. And if I were silent, each of you would create your own story from your own inferences, selective knowledge, and personal views. So many times we colour our silences or our utterances because of knowledge we peculiarly hold. But just as many times, those colours can be filtered or shaded when that knowledge meets the light of reality.

Yes, the cake was served on my birthday. It’s a chocolate chiffon cupcake with homemade whipped cream, fresh strawberries & blackberries & chocolate drizzle. Compliments of BakerDaughter. So yes, my birthday was the occasion, but not the occasion. Be-fog-ged yet? Let us de-mist – the anniversary of my birth date was the time on which the cupcakes were served, but my birthday was not the reason for the cupcakes.

In Trinidad & Guyana, indentured servants/labourers were the replacement labour source for the sugarcane plantations, upon the abolition of slavery in the 1800s. 143,000+ indentured labourers went to Trinidad, almost 209,000 went to Guyana. These emanated from British India. The Fatel Razak which landed in Trinidad in 1838 is reputed to have brought the second set of Muslims to the Caribbean. Indentured labourers also went from other colonies.

It is reported that the ratio of males to females were 3:1 and in some cases 2:1.Despite the labour intensive days on the plantations and the many rules restricting religious and cultural practices, those practices (perhaps modified) survived. It is believed that both Hindu and Muslim labourers attended their respective religious ‘schooling’ on evenings after a day in the field. From one article I’ve read (and I cannot speak to its validity as a source),  those Muslims who congregated to observe their Eid prayers at the Palmiste Estate were flogged for offering their first Eid prayers in Trinidad. On another occasion, defenceless Muslim immigrants attempting to carry out a peaceful observance of a religious occasion  were shot by a platoon of armed policemen. Another source confirms the flogging but provides conflicting information – that Muslim religious practices were controlled and the building of mosques and the Friday congregational prayer discouraged – that Islamic community life was not transported, and the ‘Indian’-originated Muslims in Trinidad were called ‘madingas’ – in recognition of those African Muslims of the Madingo tribe. While used in a derogatory manner, the coining of that phrase by non-Muslims unknowingly reflects the recognition of racial equality amongst Muslims. This second source also states that Muslims succeeded in maintaining their religious practices by practising the fundamentals of Islam and gathering on various occasions. It is these gatherings that the author of the second source describes as an amalgamation of Hindu cultural practices with Islamic traditions.

A third author (Suresh Pillai) states: “Out of the recesses of their minds and memories they pieced together their religious and social practices and philosophies and recreated the institutions that sustain a civilization.” Pillai says: “Koran sheriff was the source of inspiration for Muslims. .There were Muslim scholars who could recite entire Koran sheriff from memory. The story of one Hajji Rukhnudeen of La Plaisance estate in Trinidad was inspiring , for he taught entire Koran to his fellow Muslims from memory under the moon light.” I had to search for the meaning of the term ‘Qur’an shareef’ as I think ‘Koran sheriff’ (a colloquialism perhaps attributable to Indo-Trinidian Muslims) was meant to be. It means the Honourable Qur’an. 

So, for the past 2+ centuries, Qur’an recitation in social gatherings has been occasioned. In Barbados, despite the number of memorisers of the Qur’an, it is not as prevalent, but that may be due to the paucity in comparative numbers. Some persons frown upon it as being innovative.

So, you wonder what any of this has to do with ‘fog’ and my birthday. (And let us accept without contradiction at this time, that the ‘celebration’ of birthdays is frowned upon in Islam because of the rationale that we ought not to be celebrating the nearing of certain death and the uncertain hereafter. It can however, be a time of reflection for us, as can any other random day. What have we done with the object of attaining one of those levels of heaven and how can we improve?)

Each of us has ‘comfort food’ – food for the soul. Each of us also has ‘comfort’ practices. My comfort practice was to invite some close friends to gather in my home to recite the Qur’an and to have lunch with us. Not everyone accepted the invitation. The fog, it appears, may have been in ascribing to me intentions that may not have been mine. A celebration of a birthday instead of a giving of thanks and sharing. An occasion not occasioned by my birthday.

My thanks to those who attended (and ate some Trini-style food). And to those whose efforts assisted in the easy-going camaraderie and fellowship. And that includes my ‘fogged’ friend.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fog/

 

Salaah in a Sanctuary – a Barbados Eid Gaah

EidSalaahCollage

On Saturday past, the Muslim community in Barbados celebrated Eid ul Fitr, and as with all Muslim communities, started the day with communal Eid salaah – the special two rakaah congregational prayers with additional takbeers and a khutbah. Some perform the Eid salaah outdoors, others indoors. In Barbados, there were three Eid gaahs – three outdoor congregations assembling for the performance of the Eid ul Fitr salaah. BH, BD, Youngest and I attended the one held at the Graeme Hall Bird Sanctuary. It was indeed a sanctuary of serenity. We prayed on the Lakeside Lawn surrounded by the greatest landscaper and outdoor designer there is – Allah, swt, whose greenery cocooned us on all sides save the lake, shaded by clumps of bamboo and mangrove, soundproofed by shrubbery. Post-salaah, we lingered, shared, lingered some more. These are some of the photos taken, and I hope you sense at least a scintilla of the serenity which we experienced and which preceded a peaceful and very enjoyable Eid weekend.

The Graeme Hall Sanctuary is a Wetland. See the following article: Thoughts on Graeme Hall Wetland for a better description of what it was and what it is.

Everything we touch we change

2015-05-16 11.49.46

Michael runs Underwater Barbados, and Camp Aquarius. Each Saturday children and swim counsellors turn up at Carlisle Bay, Barbados, to explore the rudiments of swimming in the big blue sea.

Before venturing into the water with varying degrees of trepidation, attendees warm up as directed in the big circle, and end their warm up with Michael’s words/mantra about the effect of each of us on our human and natural environment:

“Everything we touch we change,

everything we change changes us,

the everlasting truth is change,

and who is change?

God is change

To get along with God we must consider the consequences of our behaviour”