Inspirational People

Muslim Women Throughout Islamic History – Zaynab bint Ali

This month I am going to share a little bit about Zaynab bint Ali. She was the daughter of Fatima and Ali (ra) and the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She like her brothers was named by the Prophet (pbuh). We often hear about her incredible brothers, Hasan and Hussain but she was just as an incredible woman as them.

She was born in year 5 AH in Medina and was only 6 when her mother, Fatima, died. She took on a maternal role for her siblings and so the three siblings were really close. She was also really close to her father, Ali. So much so that when Ali moved the capital, she along with her husband moved with him. She was there when her father was assassinated and again at the battle of Karbala.

When Hussain marched to Karbala to claim leadership she went with him along with most of the household. This is where Hussain was betrayed and where her brother Ḥussain and 72 of her nephews and other brothers were killed. She, became the leader of the ahl al-bayt, and was integral in protecting and standing against those who wanted to kill the rest of her household. She protected her nephew, Ali ibn Ḥussain, from being executed by the caliph at Kufa. She threw herself over him and gave such a passionate speech that they decided to release all the prisoners at Karbala. This effectively saved the Prophet’s (pbuh) family line.

She returned to Medina and on her way back stopped at Karbala to mourn the deaths of all those who had died there. It is unknown when exactly she passed away but she passed away shortly after returning to Medina.

She is known for standing up against oppression and injustice and protecting the most vulnerable. She was eloquent in her speech and a passionate person. She protected and defended her family and was incredible leader who ensured the safe release of the survivors of the massacre at Karbala. She suffered greatly in her life but she upheld the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah and advocated for justice.

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Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books

Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Haunted Mansion by Annabelle Sami – Book Review

Thank you to little tiger books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When a new family moves to the village, Zaiba is intrigued to hear about the strange happenings in their home. Things go missing, objects are smashed and unfriendly messages are painted on the walls. There have always been rumours that the house is haunted, but is a ghost really causing all this trouble? Zaiba and her team are convinced that the culprit is very much alive – and won’t stop until they get what they want…

This is the third book in the series and I just love them so much! The stories are fun and exciting and also have such wonderful Pakistani culture rep. I love seeing a young Pakistani girl aspire to be a detective and follow in her mums and aunts footsteps.

This story had some new characters and I really loved seeing Zaiba’s detective agency grow. Honestly we don’t give kids enough credit they are smart and resourceful and can achieve so much more than we believe they can. They also know how to have fun as evidenced by the fact that they have so much fun at the party while investigating the haunted house!

This book introduced new kids and we see how some of them get a long immediately and some take time to learn to work together and it was great to see both sides and show how kids are different. We also get a bit of discussion about jinns and Islamic folklore so that was so great to see because I grew up with jinn stories as opposed to ghost stories and honestly this is why we need representation. So many of us grew up with jinn stories but it’s never in spooky kids books.

The story and how the kids have to catch who is haunting the house was so much fun and how they discovered the history and secret passages in the house. Zaiba is such an observant child and she picks up on so much and it’s so much fun to see them working out what’s happening. Ali is another character I love because for someone so young he picks up so many facts about all different things that end up being useful in catching the person. I love how they kids support each other and work off each others strengths and weaknesses. How Zaiba knows which of them is best for the each job.

This story like the first two is so much fun to read and I love the illustrations too. I love that we get to see Zaiba in Pakistani clothes and that she is told she looks beautiful and not made to feel as though she doesn’t fit in because she lives in the west. Everyone needs a friend like Poppy! I love Poppy because she loves make up and accessories and getting dressed up and she isn’t looked down for it. Contrasting with Zaiba who prefers to wear what’s comfortable and somehow always gets her clothes dirty. Neither is looked down on and it will be so important for kids to see that whatever they enjoy it is accepted.

I just need you all to go read these wonderful books and to give them to all the kids you know!

Musings of a Muslimah, Reflections

My Favourite Duas

Ramadan is only a few days away and I wanted to share some of my favourite duas to read in my prayers. These supplications have helped me in my most difficult times and I hope they are of benefit to you too.

Dua to read on laylatul qadr:

Allahumma innaka afuw-wun tuhibul afwa fa-fu-annee

O Allah you are the forgiving you love to forgive so forgive me

Ibn Majah

Dua for when something is difficult:

Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’altu sahlan wa anta taj-alul hazna iza shi’ta sahlan

O Allah! There is nothing made easy except what you make easy and you make difficult easy if it be your will.

Ibn Hibban

Dua for beneficial knowledge:

Allahumma innee asaluka ilman naa-fi-an

O Allah! I ask you for knowledge that is of benefit

Ibn Majah

Dua for anxiety:

Allahumma inne a’uzu bika minal-hammi wal-hazani wal-ajzi wal-kasali wal-bukhli wal-jubni wa zala id’daini wa ghalabatir-rijaali

O Allah! I take refuge in you from anxiety and sorrow, from weakness and laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men

Al Bukhari

Dua for steadfastness in faith:

Ya muqallibal-qulub thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenak

O Controller of hearts make firm my heart in your religion

Tirmmidhi

Dua for when in difficulty:

La ilaha illah anta subhaanaka innee kuntu minazzalimeen

There is no deity except you, glory be to you, indeed I have been of the wrongdoers

Quran (21:87)

Dua for good in this world and the next:

Rabbana aatina fi’d-dunya hasana wa fil aakhirati hasana wa qia azaban-naar

Our lord grant us good in this world and in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of hell

Quran (2:201)

Dua to ask Allah to accept our worship:

Rabbana taqqabbal minnaa innaka antas-samee’ul aleem

Our Lord accept (this) from us indeed you are the hearing the knowing

Quran (2:127)

Dua for a house in paradise:

Rabbibnee lee a’indaka baytan fil jannati

My Lord build for me near you a house in paradise

Quran (66:11)

Dua for confidence:

Rabbish rahli sadri wa yassirli amri wahlul ‘uqdatum-mil-lisani yaf-qa-hu qawli

My Lord expand my breast for me and ease for me my task and untie the knot from my tongue that they may understand my speech

Quran (20:25-28)

Dua for repentance:

Rabbana zalamna anfusana wa il-lam taghfir lana wa tarhamna lana ku-nanna minal-khasireen

Our Lord we have wronged ourselves and if you don’t forgive us and have mercy upon us we will surely be among the losers

Quran (7:23)

Dua to be steadfast in prayer:

Rabbij’alni muqeemas-salaati wa min dhurriyaati rabbana wa taqabbal dua

My Lord make me an establisher of prayer and (many) from my descendants our Lord accept my supplication.

Quran (14:40)

There are so many more incredible duas and I recommend using the Fortress of a Muslim and also the app myduaa for more duas.

Musings of a Muslimah

Making the Most of Ramadan When You Can’t Fast

There are many reasons as to why someone may not be able to fast from being on your period to having a chronic illness that prevents you from fasting. Maybe you have to travel or you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

It can seem isolating or frustrating that you can’t fast because it can feel like you are missing out. But Allah has given us this for a reason even if we don’t know what it is. Even if we can’t fast we can still make the most of Ramadan because this month is not just the month of fasting it is the month of the Quran. The month in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) and so we can still build that taqwa to help us become closer to Allah.

And remember that if you had wanted to and intended to fast but couldn’t because circumstances prevented it, you will still get the reward for fasting. We know that we are rewarded for our intention for doing a righteous deed as if we did it, if we were prevented and the same is for fasting.

So here are some things you can still do even if you can’t fast:

1 Give money to charities that provide food to those who are fasting in places that they cannot afford to get food to open their fast.

2 Read and reflect on the Quran as much as you can and set a goal for yourself. What do you want to achieve in Ramadan when it comes to reading Quran. Read it daily, set aside time each day to read the Quran.

3 Pray your salah on time and also incorporate a nafl prayer into your routine eg. salah ad-duha (after fajr but before zuhr)

4 Incorporate Dhikr into your routine. Saying them after each salah, when you wake up, before you go to sleep etc

5 Dua is worship. Learn new duas that were taught to us from the Quran and sunnah. I recommend using Fortress of a Muslim and an app called MyDuaa. Write down your duas, all the things you want to ask for from Allah so that you don’t forget them.

6 Make istaghfar and incorporate it into your routine whether it’s before bed or after each salah

7 Give money to charity throughout the month. Even if it isn’t a lot even 50p is a lot in the sight of Allah. I also recommend spreading out what you want to give each day especially in the last 10 nights to make sure you catch Laylatul qadr

8 Stay up a portion of the night to pray. Even if you can’t pray because you are on your period you can read Quran, do dhikr and make dua.

9 Increase in Islamic knowledge. There is so many incredible Ramadan series running, my favourite is Omar Suleiman’s. Every year he has a different topic. This year is about the Prophet (pbuh). Read Islamic books and reflect on what you learnt and how you can incorporate it into your life.

10 Give up a bad habit or something you do that you know you shouldn’t as it’s haram. This is the perfect time to give up the haram. Replace it with something good. Eg replace listening to music with listening to vocals only nasheeds or play nature sounds instead.

I hope these are of benefit. If there’s anything else you think would be a great tip please do share in the comments!

Middle Grade Books

Deny All Charges by Eoin Colfer – Book Review

This is the second book in the Fowl Twins series and I just love being back in this world.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Artemis’s little brothers Myles and Beckett borrow the Fowl jet without permission, and it ends up as a fireball over Florida. The twins plus their fairy minder, the pixie-elf hybrid Lazuli Heitz, are lucky to escape with their lives.

The Fowl parents and fairy police force decide that enough is enough and the twins are placed under house arrest. But Myles has questions, like: who was tracking the Fowl jet? Why would someone want to blow them out of the sky? These questions must infuriate someone, because Myles is abducted and spirited away from his twin.

Now Beckett and Lazuli must collaborate to find Myles and rescue him – not easy when it was Myles who was the brains of the operation. Their chase will take them across continents, deep underground, and into subaquatic super villain lairs. They will be shot at, covered in spit, and at the receiving end of some quite nasty dwarf sarcasm. But will Beckett be able to come up with a genius plan without a genius on hand…? 

The nostalgia of my childhood from reading Artemis Fowl books and then getting to see how the twins are similar and yet so different from Artemis. I love the dynamic between Myles and Beckett and how they are so different from each other but know each other so well. I love their relationship so much. They each have different strengths and they work so seamlessly together and know that each have different strengths.

The fact that Myles is the brains and Beckett is the brawn and yet in this book they were forced to swap roles made us see each of them in a new light and I loved seeing this other side of them. It increased the stakes and I was truly worried about them at some points in the story.

Eoin Colfer is great at making us second guess ourselves and what we think is happening in the story. We may think we know what’s going to happen but then it takes us completely by surprise. I just loved that so much. How no one is truly a trustworthy narrator and who are truly the “bad guys.”

These books are full of morally grey characters including Myles who’s motivations we can never truly trust and it is often Beckett who keeps him toeing the line to completely go full criminal mastermind. I really loved that about Myles that while he has ulterior motives he still has a moral compass which makes him ensure the safety of others at times putting himself in danger to save the others.

This story is action packed and full of snarky, sarcastic characters which will have you laughing out loud. I love the writing style and sassy characters especially when you see two young boys sassing adults and even fairies because they always underestimate the twins.

This book is fast paced, a great story and wonderfully interesting characters that will leave you wanting more, long after you finish the book.