Saturday, 18 August 2012

Confessions | The last taraweeh of Ramadan

At our last taraweeh prayers at the mosque last night me and my sis had to sit somewhere different because there was no space at the front. I finished praying the Sunnah before the jamaat for Isha as I sat there and looked around the masjid whilst doing some dhikr (as you do) I made eye contact with a few people and smiled but everyone just gave me a strange look back =S one of those 'what a weirdo' looks.

My sister finished praying her Sunnah, I turned to her to say something and she just looked at me like o.0 and said 'what is that on your forehead?' as I wiped my forehead I felt something fall on the ground, my sister burst out laughing and I realised it was one of those rhinestones which must have fallen off someones clothing and as I went into sujood it got stuck to my forehead, then me and my sister couldn't stop laughing and people in front of us were asking why we were laughing...then I had to explain what happened -__- which was not funny.

No wonder people were giving me strange looks.

Remember when we were little we used to get sequins/beads that had come off our clothes and stick it on our forehead? xD or maybe I was just a one of those weird kids.

Anyway, hope you made the most of the Ramadan nights inshaAllah, so sad that its come to an end.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Spiritual | 97: Al-Qadr -Night Of Power/Decree

Period of Revelation

This Surah is one of the early Surahs revealed at Makkah.

Major Issue, Divine Law and Guidance:

-The night of Qadr, in which the Quran was revealed, is better than one thousand months

The theme of this surah is to acquaint man with the value, worth and importance of the Quran. Being placed just after Surah Al-Alaq in the arrangement of the Quran by itself explains that in the Holy Book, the revelation of which began with the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq, was sent down in a destiny-making night, which is also called the Night of Power. It is a glorious Book and its revelations for mankind is full of blessings.

The Night of Qadr (destiny) has two meanings, both are implied here. First it is the night during which destinies are decided. Second the revelation of this Book in this night is not merely the revelation of a book, but an event which will change the destiny of the entire world. In other words, this is a night of unique honor, dignity and glory; so much so that it is better than one thousand months.

Thus, the disbelievers of Makkah have been warned: "You, on account of your ignorance, regard this Book, which Muhammad (peace be upon him) has presented, as a calamity for yourselves and complain that a disaster has befallen you, whereas the night in which it was decreed to be sent down was such a blessed night that it is worth more than one thousand months. In other words, a task was accomplished in it for the well-being of mankind which had not been accomplished during on thousand months of human history.

Finally, it is stated that in this night, the angles along with angel Jibreel AS descended with all decrees by the leave of their Rabb. There is peace from evening till morning; that is, there is no interference of evil in it, for all decrees of Allah are intended to promote good.

Taken from 'English Translation of the Meaning of Al-Qur'an the guidance for mankind' by Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik; The Institute of Islamic Knowledge Texas USA...

Check out the review for it here

Monday, 13 August 2012

Confessions | The princess and the pin(s)

Note to self: I must remember where I stick my pins!

Usually when I come home I take off my hijab and dig the pins into the headboard of my bed, that is before I received the lovely cupcake pin cushion from Hijab Pinz. Now I put the hijab pins in the pin cushion, but when I get home all tired I switch my netbook on and sit on my bed, as it loads I take the pins out of my hijab and stick them in the mattress of my bed (because I will put them in the pin cushion later), but one day my bed was done up and I stuck some pins into the duvet on my bed.

I think my mum started calling me or something so I quickly got changed and went down. In the night, half asleep I felt something prick my leg, thought it was nothing, moved around a little and went back to sleep, then as I moved from one side of my bed to the other (the joys of having a double bed to yourself) I felt something scrape across my leg, I jumped up and looked at the long scratch across my leg that started bleeding and thought to myself 'What on earth?!' and then I remembered at 5am in the morning that the pins were still in my duvet -_-

Annoyed with myself and grumpy because of being awoken prematurely, I got up looked for the pins and put them away.

When I was thinking of writing this post it reminded me of the story of the princess and the pea, a girl came to a castle when there was a storm outside, the queen said the prince could marry her if she was a real princess and they would be able to tell if she could feel a pea which was put under a tonne of mattresses, she could feel it, so she was a real princess, they got married and lived happily ever after.....kinda not what happened to me, but it involved a bed and something pricking me?

#MustPutThingsAwayStraightaway #NeedToStopBeingLazy

Monday, 6 August 2012

Spiritual | What are you waiting for?

Stop waiting,
For that eureka moment, or a burst of inspiration
And just begin.
You will never attain perfection,
It is your intention & excellence that will win.

It is an illusion
That age or circumstance
Will bring things into place,
Money is not the solution to all of your problems,
Neither culture, nor your race.

The path you choose today,
The one you decide to walk upon
Will not only have your footsteps,
Mothers of the believers,
Determined and strong,
Have also taken this journey
Thy faced obstacles in their time,
Yet despite the trials they were given
Its their Lord they turned to
To keep their souls in line.

Aisha faced gossip,
Khadija faced poverty,
Asiyah faced a tyrant husband,
Summayah faced mortality,
These tests did not stop these sisters,
But from it, their iman grew in strength,
They were reminded the life of this world,
Does not hold an eternal length.

Many challenges faced,
Harsh words spoken,
Should never leave you feeling defeated or broken.
Take inspiration from the ones who came before you
Who persevered with this deen and to it stayed true.

Muslim women who laid the foundation
Through living exemplary lives
Sisters please ask yourselves,
What are YOU leaving behind ?

By Halimat Shode 

This poem was written by Sister Halimat for the Solace charity fundraiser we had in June, she read it out for us and touched many hearts that day, her words left an imprint on sisters who will never forget the beautiful poem dedicated to Hikmah Adetunji, a 22 year old sister who was a SOLACE team member, she sadly passed away after suffering from cancer in June...May Allah make her grave spacious for her and grant her jannat-ul-Firdous.

Check out more of Halima's work on her blog by clicking the link below.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Recipe | Bengali Chicken Curry

Salaam girls! (and guys who want to learn how to cook this), I have had loooooads of request from friends, colleagues & others for a chicken curry recipe Bengali style! This is probably one of the only curry's I can cook so here goes. There are many ways you could cook this, this is my mums recipe which I tweaked slightly (just added some vege's to it) today I will show you how we cook it (=

For this recipe you will need:

-1&1/2 baby chicken (the soft one)
-Oil (I use olive oil)
-4 & 1/2 medium size onions (see pic below)
-2 bay leaves
-2 cinnamon sticks (about 4-5cm long)
-3 or 4 cardamom pods
-Turmeric powder
-Curry powder (mixed massala)
-Chilli powder
-Half a pepper
-2 medium sized tomatoes
-Ginger & Garlic (blended together)
-Fresh coriander

Before I start I will warn you, Asian cooking is usually done by guesstimating I never measure anything out but for the sake of this tutorial I did try to measure things =S but the quantities might not be exact and usually you adjust the amounts to the taste that suits you.

Step 1: 

Wash you bay leaves, cinnamon sticks & cardamom pods. Chop 4 and half medium sized onions.

Step 2:

In a non-stick saucepan which is deep enough to hold all your ingredients, pour in some oil (enough to melt your onions in), add roughly 2 teaspoons of salt and your bay leaves, cinnamon sticks & cardamom pods.

Step 3:

Stir with a wooden spoon & cover. Leave this on a medium-low heat so the onions melt but be careful to check they're not burning and stir occasionally.

At this point whilst your onions are melting you can wash and chop your chicken into smaller pieces also remove the skin & fat.

Step 4:

Once the onions have melted you will need your powdered spices & blended ginger & garlic.

Step 5:

Add roughly a third of a teaspoon of turmeric powder.

Step 6:

Add roughly 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of mixed massala (curry powder), this has a mixture of spices such as ground coriander and other things.

Step 7:

Add half a teaspoon of chili powder (or however much you can handle), if it's too less the colour of the curry will be more of a yellowy light orange colour rather than a reddish orange colour.

Step 8: 

Stir the powders together in the pan with the onions and add a heaped teaspoon of garlic & ginger blended together (you can add fresh garlic & ginger, but we usually blend a lot together and keep it in a jar in the fridge)

Keep this on a really slow heat because once you've added all the spices it is more likely to burn leave the spices to blend in together and with the onions for about 5 minutes stirring so it doesn't stick (if it starts to stick add a little water. This forms the base of your curry.

Step 9:

I usually do this step before hand because I want to keep an eye on my curry, but you can get someone else to do it. Basically just wash & chop the 2 tomatoes and half the pepper (remove the seeds).

Step 10:

Add it to your saucepan and stir all the ingredients together. Leave on the slow heat for a couple of minutes until the vege's start to soften. Remember to keep stirring so they don't burn.

Step 11:

Wash thoroughly, drain & add your chicken to the saucepan.

Step 12:

Stir until all your chicken is mixed well with the other ingredients in the pan. Cover the saucepan and leave on a slow/medium heat for the chicken to cook.

Step 13:

Whilst the chicken is cooking you have enough time to chop your fresh coriander

Step 14:

Stir occasionally to ensure the chicken doesn't burn (it shouldn't do at this point but still check. The juice of the chicken and vege's will be released, once it does it should look a little like this...

Note: no water was added this was naturally released from the chicken & vege's, you might have to wait a while for this stage.
Once the water is released, uncover the pan, turn the heat up and wait for the water to evaporate. A way to tell if your chicken has cooked is to look at the bone marrow (it sounds gross I know, but just look at the middle of the bones of the chicken), once it has gone from a pink/red to brown your chicken has cooked.

Step 15:

Once the water has evaporated until its reached the consistency you prefer (a little dry) then you can add your fresh coriander...see the image below of how it should look after the water has evaporated.

If you want the curry to look like the image above you can add your coriander, pick the saucepan up by the handles & swivel the contents around (I prefer not to stir the coriander in) and turn the heat off.

Step 16:

But my family prefer there to be a lot of sauce and almost stew like, so for this you would add some pre-boiled water to the curry (however much you prefer, but too much water will make the curry runny) Again once you add the water just swivel the contents around in the saucepan and don't stir, I feel that if you stir it at this point it becomes runny. Turn the heat up to full.

Step 17:

Add the coriander to the curry.

Once the bubbles around the coriander have gone (looks a bit frothy like in the image above) you can turn the cooker off and voila you are done.

I would recommend you wait till the curry cools down a bit before serving it with some rice (=

Hope that was clear =S sorry if it wasn't ...it makes perfect sense in my head....let me know how you get on =D

Friday, 3 August 2012

Confessions | The case of the shrinking abaya

So today's confession is a mystery...lets see if you can solve it before you get to the end.

When I was going for Umrah in April my aunt made me and my sisters some plain black abayas. I wore sandals on the way there prepared for the scorching heat of the Arabian land along with the abaya my aunt made.

I remembered my abaya was a little too long that I had to hold the sides up as I walked into Heathrow, as well as being worried about getting it caught in the escalators (I have a phobia about escalators and long abayas/ maxi dresses, but that's another story which I might tell you about in another 'confessions' post)

I wore it in Saudi but I was glad it was long and covered my feet during salah, obviously we had to wash our clothes often because of the sticky heat

When I got back to the UK I put all my clothes into the washing machine as did everyone else in my family, after the clothes had dried we took our own clothes and put them away. The next time I wore the black abaya it felt a bit short (not ridiculously short, but just below my ankles) Maybe I grew? I kept telling my mum how comes 'my abaya feels short for me did it shrink in the wash?' My sister agreed 'yeah mine feels short for me too I think they did shrink in the wash' So I genuinely thought they shrunk in the wash =S

So for the past 2-3 months I wore the abaya with flat shoes I complained to my mum whilst walking to taraweeh 'This abaya is so annoying, I'm still wearing it because I like the material but I feel like a brother wearing a thobe'

Then yesterday my mum comes into my room and goes 'who's is this long abaya that has been in my wardrobe all these days?' Mystery solved...Turns out I was wearing my mum's abaya for the past 3 months thinking my abaya had shrunk -__-


P.s. My mum is like a UK dress size 12 and wears abaya length 52- 54 and I'm a UK size 8 length 56 now you can imagine how funny I looked.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

10 tips for your online hijab company

Assalaamu alaikum all!

I have been having idea's about this post for a while but just didn't how to get my thoughts together so I'm not sure if this will be any good but here it goes anyway!

So I don't run an online business of my own, I don't have a marketing degree nor am I an expert in running businesses but I've done my fair share of online shopping and have done reviews for online companies so I will give some tips from a consumer point of view inshaAllah, but please remember these are merely my views and not guaranteed to work

Tip 1: Be Unique

Do your research and check out other companies out there. At the moment the number of 'online hijab companies' have been growing and there are sooo many companies selling the exact same scarves & accessories claiming to be unique. If you want to be successful think up something different or take a unique angle on the hijab business idea. Brainstorm, pilot your ideas, find out what really makes it 'you'. Don't try to be like another hijab company out there, or steal ideas from other people....although 2 people can have the same idea and similar tastes, deliberately stealing someone elses idea is really not cool!

Tip 2: Market Research

Ask around family, friends and the online hijabi community to see what people are after, then take those opinions and adapt them to make them unique to you. Try to deliver them at affordable prices with a good service.

Tip 3: Photography

One thing I've found especially for myself is that good quality pictures attract me to browse through the items, so invest in a good camera, take your product into good lighting and take clear pictures of the scarves/accessories etc. Professional looking pictures make the company look more reliable and trustworthy, as online shopping is still seen by some as risky business you need people to see that your business is real and you are reliable.

If you can get someone to model the hijabs for you then that is better than putting it on a mannequin because it gives the customer an idea of how the product looks when worn. Using a mannequin works aswell if you do it properly, try to use a simple hijab style and be consistent with all your pictures (lighting, quality, style). Please for the sake of your business just take a little bit longer to put the hijab on the mannequin neatly rather than covering half the eye with the under scarf because as a customer you can really tell when it's been rushed and its not very appealing.

Tip 4: Brand identity

Like I said before your brand identity needs to unique, the more of your personal style/ personality you add to your business the more you can connect with your customers. Give yourself a short and sweet name, preferably not something common 'hijabi...,' or '....hijabs', '...boutique' anything to do with pearls etc' there are just too many out there and it wont make you stand out.

Have a slogan or a saying (again try to make it unique to you and your company), something catchy yet not cliche, something that people will remember you by.

Make yourself a professional looking logo with no more than 2 or 3 colours (don't over do it). The online hijab company at the moment is mainly geared to young women and teenage girls, so with that in mind give your company a look that you will stay consistent with.

Remember sometimes less is more, that goes for your complete look as well as your website/business cards etc, keep it elegant, simple, sophisticated and professional.

Tip 5: Network

Social networking sites are a great way to connect with sisters across the globe. Join social networking sites and use them to advertise and get your company out there! Speak to your customers (not just about the business) but really genuinely speak to them as friends because people are more likely to buy from sisters who they know they can contact easily should there be a problem. This also goes back to the point about proving that you are a reliable company, showing people you are a real, down to earth person makes them feel like they know you and again makes them realise you are trustworthy.

Update your twitter, facebook, instagram & whatever else you can join frequently, the more you post the more people will see you. The more people get to know the person behind the company the more likely they are to become loyal customers.

Upload outfit of the day photo's featuring your products to give people a little taster of them and give them ideas about how they could wear them. Do competitions & giveaways to get people to come onto your page, check out your website and tell others about it.

Tip 6: Customer Service

Customer service is sink or swim for your company, get people who have bought from you to leave reviews and their testimonials, this will encourage others to purchase from you and will also give you ideas about what you can improve on as you go on. Reply to your customers promptly, if there is anything people hate is poor customer service especially when its their hard earned money involved. If you start lying to your customers or making excuses for why things are not being done as well as ignoring customers questions then you've got a problem because on the internet word of mouth (or clicking 'like' 'share') is king. Customer relations is key to making a success out of your business.

Tip 7: Advertise don't spam

I as a blogger on here and FB HATE spam messages from online companies...the ones that go something like 'PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE MY PAGE'...I always delete them and they look really unprofessional (sometimes a little desperate). If you want exposure for your company join forces with bloggers/vloggers and others online to talk about your company and share their views with their readers/viewers. When people hear their favourite youtube hijab guru or hijab/fashion blogger speak about a new company and give a good review or when you have reliable & established businesses speaking about your company, you will see more hits on your website and inshaAllah a rise in sales.

Advertise on people's blogs or websites buy asking if you can put a banner on their page that will either have your website name on it or will link directly to your website if people click on it.

Tip 8: Personal touches

I don't know about other people but I love personal touches to things. Whether its heart shaped confetti in the packages, ribbons, little mini charms on the ends of the scarves, well wrapped products in the consistent colour scheme or simply a business card with the products it all makes it that much more attractive. When the postman comes with a package people forget that they have bought it and its sort of like getting a present, it's different from buying it in a shop so make that moment of opening the package special by adding little finishing touches that show you really care and how much effort you put into your business.

Tip 9: Deals, discounts, sales

People are always looking for a bargain and everyone loves the word sale, once in a while do reduce your prices or make combo's (i.e. 3 scarves for £10), although your profit margin will be smaller inshaAllah it will attract more customers and people will keep checking back to see if there are any sales. Best times for deals are special occasions such as Eid, Ramadan, graduation period as well as back to school period and change in season, these are the times where people are searching for new clothes/ hijabs etc, sell items that tie in with the occasions/seasons coming up and give them an incentive to do business with you.

Tip 10: Sincerity

Be sincere in your intentions and your actions. Know that only Allah provides wealth, if you want your business to be successful make du'a and stay grounded. Be sincere with your customers and with yourself. Don't be greedy with your wealth because it can go just as easily as it came, why not give a percentage of your profits to charity? You can do that without telling anyone or by letting your customers know so that they can also benefit in this good act of yours.

I hope this post was of some use to those with companies or looking to set one up inshaAllah. May Allah grant you success in all that you do for His sake and may your business ventures blossom into something amazing!

Your sister in Islam,