Remember your roots

Petrichor — a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. Hmm!!! That smell is nostalgia for many of us, I believe. Or atleast it certainly takes me down the memory lane. Of a childhood, very well-spent, in a small yet sentimental ancestral house. Memories of water laden streets after that first heavy rain. Making paper boats out of newspapers, and sailing them in the muddy waters. The hot and crisp potato fritters made by my mother. Melting the bottoms of candles to stick them onto lids of steel tins, after a power cut. My quite old tomcat napping at the threshold of the door. Hmm! every thing makes me yearn for my country.

world-1466408_1280.jpg

My grandfather always annoyed me, asking me the same question repeatedly — “Do you remember Sir Walter Scott’s poem, Patriotism?” — Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said ‘This is my own, my native land’. I pulled on from there and completed the stanza. And he would inhale snuff from his snuff box, and reminiscence about old days. The snuff box is still preserved beside his thick nerdy glasses. It is he who has perished. I do miss his annoying habits sometimes. I now think of the many people who have dead souls, that never pine for or never favor their own country.

Every one of these beautiful memories of mine are linked to what was and will always remain ‘homeland’. Here in London is what is my marital home, but London can never be homeland. It is a foreign land. And even if it does accept me as its citizen, I will be a British Indian, never a Britisher. Many years from now InshaAllah if I live to reminiscence about my London days, then every memory will identify with my hubby — of the very happy days spent with my dear husband and a few good friends I made here. Perhaps as one grows older, the urge to return to roots gets firmer and nothing soothes the soul as the sight of homeland.

I very well know that India can never be what England is. Indians cannot forgo their desi accent. Yay! even Abdul Kalam spoke in a heavy Tamil accent. Indians can never stop staring at anything awe-inspiring. They can never be as civilized as to satisfy themselves with a smile, where a hard laugh is demanded. India can never have British winters. India can never have spick and span streets, like those of Britain. India might never have that fast a railway service as the tubes of London.

But then! Can Britain give me a taste of the succulent mangoes in the hot summers?. Can the kids of England sail paper boats in rain water as our Indian kids do?. Can one see portable vending carts selling vegetables in the streets of London?. Can one hear the sounds of azaan straight from half a dozen mosques, here in London?. The laughter and gaiety the Eid day brings, London can never gift me that. I can never identify the British countryside with the magical world of Malgudi, I read about in my childhood. Eating ice apples on a hot May day with my grandpa is what only India can give me.

Britain may be: richer, powerful, magnificent and stupendous. But India shall always remain the country that made me what I am today. Being a Muslim in India is a bit worrisome, but that is a completely different story. Putting politics at bay, India has a soft-spot in my heart. I shall never feel ashamed of being her citizen. On the other hand, Britain is really great, I love the comforts and luxuries it has given me. I love the cosy British homes with all the contemporary conveniences. But balancing love and liking is all what life is about. Forgetting that part of life which was one’s foundation after reaching the top, is like deceiving the self, into believing in something that never was. Immigrating to a more prospering country, and forgetting where roots lie is a sign of hypocrisy.

This love and yearning for the roots and homeland grow deeper,as years go by, or perhaps when you never get a chance to return back to where you came from. Maybe that was what made Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, deported to Rangoon by the British pen down his final verses as

Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar, dafn ke liye,
Do gaz zameen bhi na mili ku-e-yaar mein…

(How unlucky is Zafar, he could not even obtain
two yards of land for his burial,
In the beloved land…)

 

Let go of pride and arrogance

Greek mythology has the most peculiar of legends and folklore to diagnose the sicknesses of the human mind. One such legend is that of Narcissus — the hunter who fell in love with his own reflection, he happened to see in a pond. Thus, the term “Narcissism — excessive admiration for oneself or one’s physical attributes” was coined. Narcissist tendency to a minute degree is a part and parcel of the human nature. Who does not like to look and to feel beautiful, to be known for their intellectual qualities or to be famous for some particular talent?. But if this trivial quality of self-love and self-importance exceeds the prescribed limits, it tends to step up a bit further entering the realms of Obsession, Pride, Ego and Arrogance. 

Phonto.jpg

Ujub, Kibr and Takkabur are the three words that describe the process of the evolution of self-love, arrogance and pride.
Ujub — basically means vanity and undue pride in oneself.
Kibr  means arrogance and a feeling of superiority.
Takkabur — is acting as per the feelings of kibr. Behaving in a superior or high-handed manner.

Pride and arrogance are the qualities that are detested and loathed by Allah(swt) and also by other fellow humans. Pride makes one to reject the truth and to despise people. The more one feeds the ego, the more proud one becomes.
Iblees is the best example to be mentioned when the topic of arrogance comes up. He was arrogant and denied the command of his Lord, when he was asked to prostrate unto Adam (A.S).

And when we said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”;
so they prostrated, except for Iblees(Satan),
he refused, was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.
~Quran (2:34)

The feeling of Kibr makes one develop a haughty and snobbish character. The person consumed by arrogance tends to look down upon others. Was it not the same thing Iblees did?

Allah said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?”.
Ibless (Satan) said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay”.
~ Quran (7:12)

Human beings are often victims of these vices of arrogance and pride. Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), the man whom all the believers look up to as an example of good character and conduct, was undoubtedly the most modest and humble soul to have walked the earth. We as Muslims are obliged to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet(pbuh).

Looking at the present scenario, a great number of Muslims have hearts and heads that serve as an abode to their ego, pride and arrogance. People are ever ready to blow their own trumpets of beauty, wealth, knowledge and what not. Bragging and boastful talk are things that reveal a weak self-esteem. If one is really worth the praise, one need not applaud for themselves. Pride in one’s own abilities is a despicable quality. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned the self-conceited ones of its consequences.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“He who has in his heart, the weight of a mustard seed off pride shall not enter paradise”.
~ Sahih Muslim

The above hadith is proof enough, that the quality of kibr is one which shall prevent a believer from entering jannah. Allah (swt) hates pride and arrogance to such an extent that he destroyed communities, clans and tribes who were arrogant and proud. History has numerous accounts of the downfall of arrogant rulers and tribes crushed under the wrath of Allah. Who can forget the most notorious ruler of Egypt — the Pharaoh, an embodiment of pride, vanity and condescension. And remember the Tribe of Thammud unto whom Allah(swt) sent Prophet Saleh (A.S) to bring them to believe in the creator. Haughty people they were, proud of their construction abilities. Allah (swt) sent a wrath upon the tribe and wiped them away from this earth during a single night of his anger.

History is the best teacher. There are numerous lessons to be learnt from its pages. Pride, arrogance, self-admiration, egoism are all qualities of Satan. This life is temporary — our wealth, beauty, knowledge, abilities are all temporary as per the wish and will of Allah(swt).

  • Arrogance and pride are the qualities of Satan. You adopt these qualities, Satan adopts you for life.
  • Never despise or look down upon your fellow beings. If Allah (swt) despises you, remember no one shall ever respect you.
  • Every quality we possess is because Allah(swt) us endowed us with it. It is just a matter of a second for the creator to snatch away what he has bestowed.
  • Walk humbly, talk softly and live a simple life with not much pomp and splendor.
  • The tongue is the root cause of all evil. It is the one that blurts out a lengthy speech in awe of your abilities and riches. So put it in a check.
  • Learn from life. If you are good, there is always someone better.
  • Do not be proud of your faith and never look down upon anyone in matters of faith and belief in Islam. It is an individual affair between Allah (swt) and his slave.
  • Allah (swt) has created everyone with a different purpose in life. Do not detest anyone based on color, creed, wealth, stature or any other physical feature. And learn not to sing praises of self.
  • Every human is equal in the eyes of the creator. If anything pleases the creator, then it is the quality of humility and kindness.

Has not Allah (swt) forewarned mankind in the holy Quran about staying away from ujub, kibr and takkabur???. So it is best to remain humble slaves unto or creator.

And walk not with arrogance,
Indeed you can never tear the earth apart,
Nor can you surpass the mountains in height.
~ Quran (17:37)

Ending on a lighter note…
Do you know what finally happened to Narcissus?
He could not stop admiring his reflection. He lost his will to live. And died staring at his own reflection in the pond. 😀 .Poor fellow self-love led him to self-destruction. Anything in excess is surely harmful!!!

 

Superstitions and Omens in Islam

Islam is such a straightforward and exemplary religion. It demands nothing more than to declare— that Allah(swt) is the only God and Muhammad(pbuh) is the messenger of Allah(swt). It is the only true and perfect religion, with the best guides for its believers in the holy Quran and the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). It is Islam that is perfect, but its followers— the Muslims have their share of imperfections. There has nevertheless been a major refinement in the quality of the ‘deen’ of Muslims— in the present generation and era due to the continuous striving of many renowned scholars.

moon-969978_1280.jpg

However, there are times when the idiosyncrasies of the human mind (the Muslim mind), get the better off his faith in the creator. Such are the times, when one is convinced by the widespread malady of superstitions. A malady so worse that it destroys one’s ’emaan’, makes one lose his/her faith in what has been decreed to them and makes one believe in things that are against the fundamentals of Islam.

Many of our fellow Muslims, especially those in the benighted countries of the far east possess a greater tendency to fall prey to this practice of believing in superstitions. On a broader scope what does the term ‘superstition’ really connote to?. “Superstition is a widely held, but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such belief”. Performing any act in accordance with such an irrational belief with the notion of it, having a link to luck and fortune leads to one being convinced by their credulous personality.

This belief in superstitions is no new to Islam. It dates back to the time of the Prophet(pbuh), when the Arabs were so ignorant, as to be convinced by silly omens as the sighting of birds—  mainly that the sight of crows and owls brought them bad luck. Thus the Arabic word ‘Tiyarah’ belief in, and acting as per the bad omens, is a word derived from the root word ‘Tayir’, which means a bird. The Prophet(pbuh) reprimanded those believing in bad omens, and acting as per this belief.

Narrated Abudllah bin Mas’ud:
That the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“At-Tiyarah is from shirk, and none among us (it influences), except that Allah will remove it with Tawakkul (reliance).
~Al-Tirmidhi 

So the above hadith undoubtedly states that belief in superstition is considered to be Shirk. It is against the very root of Islam, where one is carried away by self-instilled fear and doubt. This is so because, once a person starts believing in omens, he starts to doubt the decree of the almighty. At-tatayyur – a feeling that something bad is going to happen leads one to change his course of action, in order to evade the concept of bad luck brought about by omens. Thereby the person commits shirk, by believing and acting as per the omen.

Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) discouraged belief in bad and evil omens. He however encouraged optimism about a situation. He backed the concept of belief in good omens. It does not necessarily mean to believe in imbecile predictions. The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged Fa’l – meaning a good word and a positive attitude towards any situation.

Narrated Anas ibn Maalik (R.A):
That the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
There is no adwa’ (transmission of an infectious disease without the permission of Allah, no tiyarah ( belief in bird omens), but I like fa’l.
They said: ‘what is fa’l?’
He said ‘A good word’.
~ Sahih Bukhari 

Believing and passing on the concepts of superstitions, omens and luck is a grave sin. It is as if one is committing shirk and compelling the others(to those whom he has passed on the knowledge to) to be a part of shirk. Just remember.

  • There are no good days and no bad days. (Wednesday is a good day)
  • There are no good or bad months. (be it the month of Shawwal or Rajab or the month of Safar).
  • You can get married in the month of Shawwal. Do you know that the Prophet(pbuh) married Aisha’h (R.A) in the month of Shawwal. There’s is an exemplary marriage for the entire ummah.
  • Black cats pose no threat to humanity. It is just the color of the poor fellow. And  the cat was the favorite pet of the Prophet (pbuh).
  • Solar and lunar eclipses are awe inspiring events, that show the power of Allah(swt). They cannot re-write your fate or destiny.
  • Cut your nails, and broom the entire house or street after magreeb. You will remain unharmed.
  • Sandals turned upside down do not cause a crisis in your life. But it points out your uncouth habits.
  • Be it the number 786 or the number 13, it has nothing to do with change in your fate.
  • Sneezing is just an involuntary expulsion of air from the nose. Be calm if a person sneezes during an important act. Fear not the sneeze, fear Allah(swt).
  • Twitching of the eyelids is due to involuntary spasms. Nothing bad or good is going to happen based on the twitch. If the twitch continues, please visit an opthamologist.
  • Moles are formed due to excessive melanin deposit. They do not decide your luck based on their position.
  • You will not be possessed by demons if you pluck flowers from a tree after dusk. First fight against your inner demons.
    (Tried just to name a few among the sea of superstitions prevalent in the Muslim community.)

Always think of the fact that, no calamity shall befall a human being without the wish and will of Allah(swt). Was it not mentioned in the holy Quran

Say: “Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us. He is our protector and on Allah let the believers put their trust”.
~Quran 9:51

So the believers are those who put their complete faith in the Almighty, and pay no heed to the stupid omens and superstitious practices. Even if one says— this is what our ancestors and elders have prescribed and followed, just remember the ‘Tawheed’ – belief in oneness of Allah(pbuh). Is it not more important for us to follow that which has been prescribed by the Lord unto whom we are slaves?.

 

Updating the blog…

Asalamualikum… dear readers!. I feel nervous as hell  so excited typing this post 😀 . I’ll go straight to the point.  Alright, so I have lately been thinking of updating my blog (so soon 😉 ). So you might all have seen a change in the theme. I’ll soon update the categories also In sha Allah. Well as everything is being updated so I decided to update the name of my blog as well. I am such a fickle-minded person 😦 .

smiley-681575_960_720.jpg

I have decided to broaden the scope of my writing. I shall not limit it to the ‘halal’ tag. As I am interested in learning about a variety of things in life, excluding mathematics, so I have decided to name my blog – “The Inquisitive Mind”. I will still be posting any important and interesting facts about food and beauty products. In addition I shall post about anything knowledgeable and worth sharing with my readers. I shall choose random topics of importance in the spheres of ‘Deen and Duniya’ (Theology and World).

It took me a lot of time, to come up with this name. 💡 💡 I will keep the same domain, till my fickle-mind gets the better of me and I decide to change the domain also. Oh! Yes, I also have created a Facebook page for the blog, please do like it. 🙂

 

 

My Liebster Award!!!

A big hello to my readers!. I have been nominated for the Liebster award by Munira. Chowdhury of ‘A messy world‘ blog .I am really thankful to Munira for nominating me. 

Its been a mere 2 months since this blog came into existence. I have received much support from the blogging community, who are ever ready to boost my spirits. Thanks a ton to all my readers and fellow bloggers.

What is the Liebster award?
It is an online award given by bloggers to fellow bloggers. Once nominated you can accept the award— by writing a post complying with the following rules:

  • Uploading a logo of the Leibster award.
  • Acknowledging the blogger who nominated you as a gesture of thanks.
  • Writing 11 facts about yourself.
  • Answering the questions put forward by your nominator.
  • Nominating 11 other bloggers (who have less than 200 followers) and putting up your own list of questions.
  • Let the nominees know that you have nominated them.

11 Facts about me:

I am from that state of India, which was home to the designer of the Indian national flag :-P.

I admire rustic life. I dream of living a countryside life — in the valleys with flowing streams and high hills and lush greenery.

I am a hypochondriac, fretting about every minor illness.

I am a great procrastinator. However I do finally finish the task at the eleventh hour.

My favorite movie character is ‘Sid the sloth’ from Ice-age. He is one crazy fellow 😆

I love rainy days. Sitting by the window with a cup of coffee and a book in the hand is my thing.

I am really annoyed with people who brag.

I hate mathematics as much as I love literature. 😆

I love Egypt— The pyramids, the Nile, Pharaoh, Moses, Hebrew language all fascinate me.

I love comic strips of Calvin and Hobbes.

I love everything vintage and classic.

Questions from my nominator – Munira Chowdhury, and my answers:

Do you have a nick name?
I had one when I was a kid. But now, my name demands respect :lol:.

How do you like to spend a vacation?
I would love to spend my vacation with my hubby, visiting places that have a deep historical significance — Egypt, Germany, Rome, Greece and many more.

What is your recent favorite make-up product?
I started using the Barry M range of products. They are vegetarian, so almost halal. I love their Satin Super Slick lipsticks very much.

How do you like to describe yourself in 1 line?
I am what I am, I only need to please my creator and not his creation.

Do you like playing games in your phone?
No. I do not like playing games either on my phone or on any digital devices for that matter.

What’s your favorite food?
I love sea food more than anything. Among sea food I prefer deep fried prawns. 😛

Do you like pets?
Yes! In fact I have a pet kitty back at my parents home in India.

Would you like to watch a horror movie alone in your home at night?
No never! It has been 5 years since I last watched a horror movie, and spent sleepless nights. I vowed to myself never to watch horror movies again. This is the only vow I have lived up-to. 😆

What kind of style do you think suites you the most?
I wear only salwar-kameez and that is the only style I feel comfortable in. I am a hijabi, hence I feel modest wear really suits me and I am indeed comfortable in it.

Do you like reading books and novels?
Yes!. I love reading books and novels a lot. I am a fan of classics like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and my favorite author is R.K Narayan. I am an old school reader. :-). And not to forget the great Khaled Hosseini – the most awesome writer I have read.

Which three things you can’t live without?
I can’t live without — food, water and oxygen basically.
But moisturizers, lip-balms and contact-lenses are equally important.

The following 11 questions are for my nominees:

  1. Where do you live and where would you prefer to live?
  2. Whom do you love the most in your life?
  3. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  4. Any weird phobias in life?
  5. If you were rich enough to own the world, what would you do to change the present situations?
  6. Your favorite famous personality?
  7. What is your favorite pass-time on a lazy weekend?
  8. Best thing to have experienced in life?
  9. Which one is your favorite quote?
  10. Best read book of all time?
  11. What is your philosophy of life?

And these are my nominees:

Youth gaze
Peace Lounge
Zadaay Raah
The Revert Miyabhai
Troublesome Thirties
My little breathing space
Diary of a Muslimah
Muslim girl journal
A touch of thyme
Frauen and Islam
Souls journey


Thank you!

Say “Cheese”!!!

Who does not love cheese???. The man who never enjoyed life, I believe :lol:. A few of my favorite foods involve cheese and pasta. My thoughts fly back to a tasty piece of lasagna I had at a potluck party. :-P. So one might be thinking what is the topic of cheese doing in the ‘Halal Food’ section. Please do check out. Is your cheese halal???

cheese, food, market

Say cheese!!! If it is halal 😦

Yes cheese can sometimes be haram. This world is so suspicious that, at times one cannot even trust himself, leave alone cheese. I always was of the view that dairy items are spared from being quizzed about their halal status. Then came a time when I picked up some Cheddar from a local grocery story, and my hubby eyed the ingredients and declared that the cheddar was non-halal. And the reason???. It had animal-rennet.

What is meant by rennet???
Google defines rennet as “the curdled milk from the stomach of the unweaned calf, containing rennin and used for curdling milk in cheese production”. Rennet is a primary ingredient in cheese, as it helps in separating milk into solid curds and the liquid whey.

From where is rennet extracted???
Rennet is most commonly extracted from the fourth stomach of an unweaned calf. Most of the times the calves are slaughtered for veal (the flesh of young calve). And during the process of slaughter, rennet is also extracted from the stomach, to be used in the task of cheese making. In some cases rennet is also extracted from the stomach of lambs and kids.

Classification of halal and haram rennet:
Rennet is not a haram ingredient in itself. If it is obtained from the stomach of calves and lambs that have been slaughtered as per the Islamic law of halal slaughtering then there is no doubt that the rennet extracted from the animal is halal. But if one is not sure about the validity of the slaughter of the animal, then it is best to avoid the by-products of the slaughtered animal.

Alternatives to animal rennet:
The good news for cheese lovers— there is always the alternative of vegetable rennet. This type of rennet is obtained from plants that have coagulation properties— a few examples include ground ivy, nettles, thistles and mallow. Most of the times it is vegetable rennet that is used in the production of cheeses that demand to be met by the halal and kosher food guidelines.

Besides direct plant sources, rennet is also extracted from microbial sources of mold. The rennet extracted from this source is also classified under the vegetarian section. One main drawback of microbial rennet is that it gives a bitter taste to the cheese.

To overcome the defects of animal and microbial rennet, a new variety of genetically engineered rennet is often used as a replacement. In this method rennet genes derived from animals are injected into plant and microbial sources to produce the substance. This type of rennet is classified as halal, kosher and vegetarian only if it is extracted from non-animal sources that have been genetically engineered.

Finally, after much scrutiny  I have found a few brands in London that produce cheese from non-animal rennet. To name a few— B J cheeses, tesco, asda, all produce non-animal rennet sourced cheeses. The best thing to do is to assure one’s self by buying cheese that specifically states that the rennet is from non-animal source, or an even easier method is to look out for the for vegetarian symbol. Rest, Allah should guide us.


References: Wikipedia