Wow, last year! What can I say?
January – The Revolution, Screen Free Week, Master Cleanse (first attempt)
Egyptian people filled the streets in peaceful protest and successfully ousted a dictator…yay! I talked about our results of Screen Free Week in this post, which was a success with us, alhamdu lillaah, and I also attempted my very first Master Cleanse. It was tough, and even though I didn’t stick to it to a tee, I was very pleased with the results. I lost weight and really felt cleansed and light, mashaa Allaah.
February – A Very Sad Farewell, Sharm El Sheikh
My sister who came here to live back on 2009 (I talked about her in this post, and this post), she and her family thought it best to leave Egypt at the time of the revolution. Her husband’s work suffered and subsequently their income. So, off to the U.S. the went. While I understand their reasons, in all honesty it was probably the most devastatingly crushing life event I’ve experienced in a long time. I can’t explain in words how heartbroken I was. Not sure if I mentioned it here on the blog or not, but our father died back in November 2008 (Allaah have mercy on him), it was very heavy on me and unfortunately I wasn’t able to be with any of my family during that time, so when she came here to live in 2009 it was like an enormous burden had been lifted from my chest. Alhamdu lillaah. And then she left again. Ah well, such is life…nothing constant except change.
H surprised us all with a family vacation to Sharm El Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula. Sharm El Sheikh, you say? Hahaha, I said that too when he first mentioned it. But it was actually quite nice, since about 99% of all the foreign tourists had left the region due to the revolution, and so not only were the beaches free of the usual nudity, but the deal we got was unbelievable! Mashaa Allaah.
March/April – Chickenpox, voting, ESL Tutor, Master Cleanse (2nd attempt)
My two youngest came down with cp. The two oldest were vaccinated as babies in the U.S. but we still weren’t sure if they would catch it or not. Plus, I never had cp as a child so the possibility that I would catch it as an adult was another worry. Alhamdu lillaah, turns out no one beside the two of them caught it. Besides being house bound for about a month, it actually wasn’t a very scary experience alhamdu lillaah.
I voted for the first time since gaining Egyptian citizenship! Yay me! It was exciting and heartwarming to see Egyptian people, who had been though not technically, but psychologically disenfranchised for so long, exercising their rights. Allaahu Akbar!
I started tutoring Egyptian elementary school children in ESL in my home. Not much to say here, the money was excellent, but I didn’t really like it…wasn’t really “feeling it” if you know what I mean. The money was the only reason I stuck with it well into the summer.
Second attempt at the Master Cleanse was very different. First, I started a group on facebook for support and mashaa Allaah from the many people that joined, about 2 or 3 sisters did the Master Cleanse with me. So it was nice to have group support. Second, I stuck to it more than I had the first time. I didn’t do as much nibbling/cheating as in the first time, plus I actually did the salt water flush (YUCK!) which I had skipped on my first attempt, but I could only manage to get it down for about 5 days. On the 6th day, I gagged and nearly upchucked on the first gulp, and so I knew that was the end of that for me. But in the end, again, I was very pleased with the results and decided I’d probably do something like this once a year or so.
May/June/July – Halaqah, Summer Camp Volunteer, Mom’s Visit, Hurghada, Qur’an Milestone
A dear friend invited me to a halaqah (study circle) she’d been attending. Mashaa Allaah, it turned out to be an awesome group of sisters, and although it started in someone’s home, it eventually moved to online, which I saw as a blessing because that was actually more convenient for me alhamdu lillaah.
The girls summer camp at Dar Fajr (my old, beloved qur’an school) asked me to come and do an English activity with the teen girls once a week. I enjoyed myself so much! They were Egyptian girls, but this was nothing like tutoring ESL. These girls were eloquent, smart, funny and very pleasant to be around. Halfway through the summer, another friend who was running a summer camp across town asked me to do the same thing. So we worked it out and alhamdu lillaah, I managed it so I could do both places in the same day. The summer heat here is brutal and a smart person will limit his time outdoors in this season! I worked with both camps all the way up until……………………
My mom came to visit in July!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How awesome was that??? I hadn’t seen her in almost 7 years so you know I was just over the moon! We had a great time mashaa Allaah, did a lot of bonding, the kids just ate her up, and we took a trip down to Hurghada to visit my sister in law. Also got to see this lovely lady while were there 🙂 Awesome trip, but way to short. We’re trying to convince my mom to come live here. Inshaa Allaah!
I’ve been memorizing the qur’an since I got married (Jan. 2000), and by Allaah’s grace and mercy, I was able to complete its memorization one week before Ramadan (July 24, 2011, 11:39am Cairo time). I’m sure many of you are reading this wondering why I would mention something like this on my blog, and that I should try to protect myself from hasad (envy) and riyaa’ (showing off). I thought about that, as well as so many other things before deciding to go ahead and mention it on here. I’ll tell you why. I used to think something like this was not possible for me because I am not Arab. Even all those years ago when I started memorizing, I never thought for a minute I’d actually finish the whole qur’an! I used to think that because Arabic was not my language, that even if or when I learned the Arabic language, I’d never be able to memorize the qur’an, 604 pages of smooth, liquidy, beautiful Arabic! Well, I’m here to tell you, oh reader, that I was wrong! I was wrong and if you are thinking the way I used to think then you are wrong too! We can do this! I meet non-Arab sisters all the time who discuss with me their worries and insecurities about memorizing qur’an. And I tell them that yes, I had those same worries and insecurities, but Allaah is merciful and kind, and He did not make the qur’an for Arabs only. I tell them flat out, “We can do this!” I’m not the first one who’s done it, and I certainly won’t be the last, inshaa Allaah. So don’t second guess yourself, or even let shaytan prevent you from striving for that lofty goal! We can do this! Yes we can! If my story can encourage one person to strive for that goal, then it’s worth putting it out there on my blog. And Allaah is the Granter of Success!
August/Ramadan – Eman Dip
Ramadan was supposed to be a time of increased worship and eman (faith). To this day I can’t put my finger on what it was last year, but for some reason I felt lazy, unorganized, unmotivated, and possibly depressed, now that I think about it. I don’t know, but all I do know is the night the moon of Shawwal was sighted, I remember finishing my ishaa’ prayer with this extreme feeling of sadness that Ramadan was leaving, because I knew I hadn’t given it my all, and I felt terribly guilty about that. I felt like what if I don’t get this chance again, and here it was and I just let it slip through my fingers.
September to end of year – Kitty Cat, Back to School Party, Parliamentary Elections, Eman Boost!
We got a kitten from a friend whose Siamese had babies. We’d been promising the kids a pet since we moved to a bigger place, and after asking around and consulting with the kids themselves, we decided to try a kitten. Lasted about a month, then we had to give him away. Not only were the kids not getting used to him, he needed a lot of care, and I wasn’t really feeling the idea of having another “baby” in the house to look after and feed, etc. (I wasn’t getting used to him either….definitely not a small animal type family!)
We had a back to school party for the kids and a bunch of their friends. It was a lot of fun mashaa Allaah. About 12 moms and 25-30 kids!!! One mom brought trivia questions with prizes for the kids. I attempted this chocolate sheet cake decorated with icing and all kinds of candies. It didn’t look too nice (fell apart), but boy was it good! Another mom made a pinata and filled it with all kinds of back to school goodies: pencils, erasers, stickers, pencil sharpeners, hair ponies, etc. That definitely was a big hit with the kids! They had so much fun trying to bust that thing open, it was hilarious!
H campaigned for one of the parliamentary candidates in our area. He didn’t win, but alhamdu lillaah many islamic-minded people like him were elected to the new parliament. Some people see this as a negative and feel that Egypt will become an extreme and intolerable place to live like some other Arab nations. I don’t feel this way at all. I see islam as natural solution to clean up all the filth that has marred Egypt for so long. Islam believes in justice and in a true islamic society, not the fake ones we see in the world today, no one is oppressed. Justice is for all. Still to be seen who the next president will be though…
After that eman dip back in Ramadan, I did some thinking and came to the conclusion that things were not going to change unless I made some changes. I began fervently asking Allaah to keep me busy with only things that will bring benefit to myself, my family and my community. I deleted my facebook account, joined a qur’an review halaqah, enrolled in an online tafseer course, and tried to start a halaqah in my home for non-Arab sisters who wanted to memorize qur’an. Mashaa Allaah, over the months, in addition to the beautiful sister/friends I already have, I met some of the most amazing, beautiful muslimahs, whose striving and steadfastness continue to inspire me to this very day. Allaahu Akbar! I’ve realized again the value of having a good support network. And not made up of just any sisters, but sisters who share your goals in life, who share your dreams for the akhirah, who will remind you when you forget, who will encourage you when you need it. It’s a real blessing that I thank Allaah for daily.
Twenty Twelve – Cold and Long Winter, Two Long Weeks, Liking (no, Loving) What I Do
This winter must have been the coldest that I can remember in my 8 years of living in Egypt! My goodness, when I say my bones were freezing, I say my bones were freezing!!! For those of you not in Egypt, you may wonder how the winter here can be so cold with such “mild” temperatures? Well, first of all, “mild” is a relative term. Meaning, what I thought was mild when I lived in the States, is considered cold here in Egypt. The other thing is that the houses here are not built with insulation so in the winter time, the cold seeps in from outside and the temperature indoors just continues to drop, and drop, and drop, and drop….until you finally have to go OUTDOORS to warm up! Crazy!
For two long weeks during this cold long winter, H went on a business trip. It’s worth mentioning here since it was a totally new experience for us: He’s only ever traveled inside Egypt (outside Cairo), and he’s never traveled for more than 3 days! So two weeks + overseas was something new. It was different for us at home, we missed him terribly. But we all managed alhamdu lillaah, and he came back in one piece!
About a month and a half ago, I started at a center teaching qur’an to non-Arab muslimahs. Most of them are just learning to read qur’an properly. I have never taught anyone at this level before, and in the beginning my self-confidence in my ability to help them was very low. I doubted if I could really teach someone to read qur’an? But, teaching qur’an to people like myself was always one of my goals on this journey, so basically I didn’t give myself a choice except to bite the bullet, put my trust in Allaah, and say “bismillaah” and dive in. Can I tell you that thus far this has been one of the most rewarding, fulfilling experiences in my life? I absolutely love helping other muslimahs to overcome the difficulties of learning to read and memorize qur’an. I’ve been there in their shoes, so I know how hard it gets, and how easy it is to get discouraged and give up. I love what I do. I find myself excited and full of energy while preparing lessons. In the beginning of class I’m usually nervous and self-conscious, but by the end I feel this refreshing sense of tranquility. Yes I love what I do, and I pray that Allaah blesses it, keeps my intentions pure, and accepts it from me, ameen.
So, that’s last year. I promise not to wait til next year to write another update (inshaa Allaah)!!! Thank you for reading, and have a great day!