Category Archives: People Care

Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

It’s raining, it’s pouring … but you still need to exercise!

Learning the hard way apparently builds strength of character. The kind of character that’s less easily defeated by adversities.

Let’s apply this theory to exercise: It’s cold, wet, and windy outside, so: Get some waterproof running gear on and out of that door you go! It doesn’t look very inviting but a 10–20 minute jog around your block will give you ROI guaranteed (Return On Investment. Clever Personal Training). Soon enough the weight will drop off and you won’t need the sun’s blessing to get out there!

However, if it’s too late in the evening, or it’s more of a monsoon than a drizzle, there is still a way, if you have the will. The Home Gym! Your home – your gym. Make a minimum of three appointments per week to visit your ‘Home Gym’ and give these exercises a go:

1. Step It Up: Whenever you need to use the stairs, go up and down them once or twice more just for exercise. Stepping calls upon your gluts, quads, calves, hamstrings, and even arms if you pump them vigorously enough. Keep your body upright and drive away with those heals from step to step. Take two steps at a time for a bigger workout and faster results in fat burn and toning.

2. Making cocoa: Making cocoa for your family (green tea for you!) will not only give you the feel good factor but it will also tone your bottom and calves IF you: Hold on to the counter, raise one heel up at a time, keeping the tippy toes planted the entire time (like a horse trotting!) and keeping your body nice and tall. Every now and again, raise both heels up and hold for five seconds and come back down. Keep going until the kettle is boiling and your calves are on fire!

3. Make more cocoa: Hold on to the counter, laterally raise your left leg (nice and straight with pointed foot) then lower, 30 times. This great for shaping the thighs and creating those nice dents on the side of your bottom. Repeat with right leg.

4. Sofasize: Grip onto the sides of your sofa/chair (either side of your bottom), tighten your core muscles, breathe in and then slip your bottom off, elbows close and pointing directly behind you staying close to the sofa. Then, whilst exhaling, push through your palms until your bottom is level with the sofa again. This is working the back of your arms (triceps), your shoulders, and your core.

5. Sofasize Two: Bunny Hops: Hold on to the side of the sofa, hands shoulder width apart. Jump, with legs together, from left to right, landing softly on the balls of your feet but squatting low so you can power a nice, high jump.

6. Cardio out of the cold: You don’t need a lot of space to get your heart rate up so to crack on with some decent cardio in the discomfort of your own home …  try jogging on the spot, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, skipping, crunches, or lunges. Do three of these for 30 seconds then repeat. Then, try another three!

7. CONSIDER THIS: KEEP THE WINDOW OPEN: According to a University of Utah study reported on by the New York Times, basal metabolic rate (calories you burn at rest) does increase slightly in colder temperatures as the effort to stay warm requires more work from your body. Keep the window open for better c-c-calorie burn! : )

So, in-keeping with the theme of this issue I have given you some tips on staying fit indoors and outdoors. Whatever the weather and however you’re feeling: You’ll never regret doing a little exercise but you will regret doing none.

“Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves.”

The Qur’an, Surah Younus (Chapter of Jonah) 10:44

Anna Reich is a fit person and as a result, a happy one. She is a Personal Trainer at her studio in London.

 

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Inner And Ouer Me Cover 2

Every day as I walk home from school, I pass a group of men and, if I’m unlucky that day, I will have the pleasure of hearing all sorts of profanities hurled at me, and I will do what I usually do which is play the excellent art of ignoring them and I will be okay with what just happened.

But when did it become okay to insult someone?

I have realised there are a lot of things that are ‘okay’ that are NOT! So I’m going to highlight small things that I think we should be doing without being told so:

POLITE IS RIGHT

We have completely forgotten what politeness means. We have to return to our courteous ways: politeness in speech, in action, and in behaviour.

Don’t be the person that’s shoving everyone at the busy mall, seriously, what’s with the shoving these days? Is there a shoving competition I don’t know about? Manners is what differentiates us from other animals so start being polite in the slightest things.

THE ART OF SPEAKING ONLY GOOD

We need this more than we can imagine. Keep quiet when we have nothing good to say especially when it comes to friends. Give your friends a pass when something they said or did hurt you, don’t go around being vengeful with your tongue, why do you have to be a catalyst? You don’t even like chemistry! Rather, quell explosive situations by keeping quiet when you have nothing good to say.

FAMILY COMES FIRST

This needs a whole extensive article because the institute of what family means has been shattered. People have two personalities, Moses to the rest of the world but Pharaoh to their own blood. My cousin once told me, “Family is home.” It’s cliché, I know, but when you’ve been shoved the whole day at the mall, nothing feels better than to be home with people who actually listen to you whine about the shoving at the mall.

WHAT IS YOURS IS MINE

You’ve heard it many times, “Treat people as you would like to be treated.” This goes for property too; take care not to damage people’s property especially when you borrow it and please return it. Some of you take ‘Goods once taken, not returned’ literally, to some new levels!

CONSEQUENCES OF ACTIONS

Let’s just put the religious part of it out. As a person, you need to feel bad when you know an action of yours is going to hurt someone else. Once you start drowning that voice that’s at the back of your mind when you’re doing something wrong, you open yourself to more atrocious acts. All over the news there are unimaginably horrible things happening and you wonder what kind of people would be capable of that, people who turned off the voice of reason. Take control of your actions!

JUST REPLY!

My best friend was going to kill me if I didn’t include this one: replying to people’s messages. I personally do find it annoying as well when you put in effort to text somebody and no reply! So the only sensible thing I can say about this is JUST REPLY! You all know the drill, someone spends time to type that email or message, the least you could do is take some of your time and reply. JUST REPLY!

Are you being the best you can be to those around you? ALLAH SAYS IN THE QU’RAN,

“We have certainly created man in the best of stature.”

Surah At-Tin (Chapter of the fig) 95:5

So the big question is where is this human being? Let it be you.

Fatima Abdulrazak will return with the next instalment of her new rant column in February insha’Allah.

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Shabana water bottle

As a young Muslimah born and bred in the West, Shabana Diouri soon came to realise that her ideals of the perfect Islamic lifestyle could sometimes be challenged by the demands of British life

My experience of the basic foundations of Islam was quite different from the way experiences were portrayed in the Islamic books I had read. This was particularly the case for fasting during the month of Ramadan.

More often than not, rather then enjoying the Ramadan experience of iftars (meals to break/open the fast after sunset) with the whole family gathered around the kitchen table, iftars were instead opened with friends, fellow students, or work colleagues outside the home.

Shabana dish datesI would give anything to have had that ideal scenario of the traditional family focussed Ramadan with three dates in each of our hands, asking each other whether the fast was now open. But in reality it was just simply not possible or practical to achieve this – especially during weekdays.

Life gets busy. We have to revise for exams. We must meet work deadlines. We need to be in so many different places at specific times in hectic life schedules. Gathering our siblings, and in many cases our parents too, everyday for a month at a specified time for iftar tends to get more and more difficult especially when iftar happens early in the winter months. Therefore, being British Muslimahs can eventually compel us to go in search of a life-faith balance that can make us feel like we are progressing on both dunya and akhirah bases.

Instead of feeling short-changed, I found it best to make the most of these special times. I utilised various ways to make the most of the baraqah (blessings) that could be earned in these blessed four weeks.

One of the most effective ways to balance Ramadan with a British lifestyle was being well prepared and super organised

Plan In Advance

Firstly, I found it useful to plan in advance exactly where and with who I would be breaking the fast. I did this every day, a quick text or phone call in the morning would suffice. I would come into work early so that I could then leave early. Sometimes there would be a mad dash home to open it with family members, or I would arrange to go to a childhood friend’s house, or have a restaurant meal with fellow colleagues if I was studying or working. I just felt it was very important to have company at iftar, even if it wasn’t always with family.

Carry Maghrib Essentials

Shabana water bottleSecondly, I always carried a packet of dates and a bottle of water with me just in case Maghrib time came whilst I was in transit to where I would be having my meal, or if I was running late – at least I would open my fast on time. I would also carry a pocket size Qur’an and mini prayer mat to keep up with my prayers and Qur’an connection as Ramadan is the month of Qur’an, but now we can also download apps to our phones for Adhan reminders and the Qur’an with translation or tafseer (exegesis). I would use my travelling time on the tube or bus to fit in this dhikr (remembrance of Allah) – especially when the journey would normally take an hour.

Narrated Salman ibn Amir: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then (he should break his fast) with water, for water is purifying.

(Sunan Abu Dawood Book 13, Hadith 2348)

Give Quietly and Loudly

Thirdly, I would not pass up the opportunity to give da’wah. Both quietly and loudly. Quietly, in the sense that, regardless of my fasting it was business as usual. I didn’t ask for any special treatment or make a big fuss that I was fasting, I just got on with it and did not allow my standards to slip. This seemed to be the best da’wah of all; colleagues were fascinated and asked more questions about how I was managing to stay on the ball and be self disciplined despite the demands of fasting all day, especially without water(!). And also loudly in the sense that at work, with fellow Muslims, we organised an iftar event for non-Muslim colleagues and invited a well respected guest speaker to explain more about what Ramadan is and what it meant to Muslims. Once, we even invited colleagues to fast for the day and it was a great way to go on to share delicious food at the opening of the fast.

Organise Well, Including Sleep Time

Shabana fruit saladFinally, one of the most effective ways to balance Ramadan with a British lifestyle was being well prepared and super organised. This meant planning the day around prayer times, especially Fajr and Maghrib, and setting multiple alarms accordingly. Also adjusting sleep patterns to ensure I didn’t burn out and maybe take up a post-Dhuhr power nap as the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam – may peace and blessings be upon him) used to do. Vitally, I spent some time after ‘Isha’ prayer to plan what I would be having for suhoor (the meal before a fast begins) and placing items out on the kitchen worktop so that I could easily get into gear when I woke up in the early hours. And then doing the same for iftar.

It helped hugely to keep meals simple and healthy. Considering how much the stomach shrinks, there is no need for elaborate dishes or large portions especially when food is not the focus of Ramadan.

In many ways, not having the traditional ideals of Ramadan I imprinted on my lifestyle actually aided me in discovering and unlocking the true meaning and potential of Ramadan….

Whilst many people were rushing around like crazy organising a daily banquet for iftar, I was quietly able to make du’a at that often ignored time just before Maghrib when the du’a of the fasting person is more likely to be answered. Because I was blessed with the freedom to make Ramadan the way I wanted it to be – I was free from pressures to follow a status quo – I was able to find the spiritual high that I was in pursuit of. Shabana plateOverall, I also found that surviving Ramadan in the West had more to do with the company I kept during my thirty day journey and furthermore had far more to do with the ‘feeding’ of the soul rather then the feeding of the stomach.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: Marwan ibn Salim al-Muqaffa’ said: I saw Ibn Umar holding his bread with his hand and cutting what exceeded the handful of it. He (Ibn Umar) told that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said when he broke his fast: thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills. (Sunan Abu Dawood Book 13, Hadith 2350)

Shabana Diouri is an aspiring writer and poet with a strong affinity toward the issues of women in Islam and spiritual needs of the heart. She is a qualified Economist and Statistician whose career began in Whitehall. Currently she spends her time in Edinburgh as a freelance writer and engages in outreach work with the University of Edinburgh to encourage a deeper understanding of Islam and Muslim culture. She currently manages ‘Muslimah Uninterrupted’, her personal blog:http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com

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Anna Reich dumbbells

In June 2013 Anna Reich got the best personal training job she could have wished for when three young girls from Jeddah in Saudi winged their way over to London to see the sights – and sweat buckets

I was contacted by the family’s assistant asking me to pitch ideas that would keep three girls active and entertained for five hours a day, five days per week. It sounds excessive, but it’s not really when you think about what our bodies were designed for, which is to run, swim, and jump from dusk till dawn. In addition, there’s a vast array of exercises to choose from (most of which don’t feel like a workout), so along with a good diet and plenty of snacks, I thought it was a very doable proposition. And, being a personal trainer, hopped to it.

Anna Reich womanThe girls’ father had become increasingly concerned about his girls’ weight gain and inactivity. Obesity among adolescents is a public health problem in Saudi Arabia, he told me, and particularly prevalent among girls.

Obesity is life restricting enough in its own right but it can lead to fatal illnesses such as diabetes, coronary problems and cancer too. I admired the father’s conviction to essentially fight this grim truth in such a dramatic and determined way.

I booked tennis courts, trampolining, zumba, wall climbing and pedalos as well as planned for exercising them in their home gym and in the park – equipping them with lifelong know how of how to stay fit and healthy no matter the financial or spacial constraints. That’s the wonderful thing about getting into training, making it a part of your life – it’s a life changing, life enhancing, everlasting education.

Anna Reich woman stretchingTo be honest, I was expecting to make a few faux pas as I wasn’t very au fait with their Muslim faith at the time. But I shouldn’t have been worried. The girls were sisters, like any other sisters – bickering constantly, ‘borrowing’ each other’s designer gear, and talking about One Direction, pretty much incessantly. As a sister myself, I understood! We discovered we had a lot in common, in fact. We loved the new Shakira song, preferred Nike as a sports brand and loved to sleep!

The elder’s sister’s attitude to sweating under the scarf was, “Well, I’ve worked harder than you guys!”

The one challenge we faced was that the elder sister was a lot more observant than the other girls and chose to wear a hijab, so when we would attend a fitness class, her headscarf would ‘make her head bake’ and when we would go for a run, we would stop frequently to retie the scarf (everyone was secretly grateful of this!). But we all had a giggle about it and took turns to create sound designs that could probably withstand a bungee jump – her sister secured it so tightly I’m sure it actually made the poor girl more aerodynamic! The elder’s sister’s attitude to sweating under the scarf was, “Well, I’ve worked harder than you guys!” Lovely, lovely girls.

Since the girls have left I have opened my own personal training studio in the heart of the City of London. It’s a beautiful space – red, black and silver … Brand new with second to none equipment.

In honour of these sweet, intelligent, thoughtful girls, wholly committed to friends, family and their faith, The Anna Reich Personal Training Studio in the City of London (EC4R 2SU) will be introducing a body conditioning class purely for Muslim women who would like to keep fit in an environment that honours their Islamic faith and their personal traditions of modesty.

Anna Reich stretchingFrom 2-3pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, I will work on all aspects of fitness from cardiovascular to strength and flexibility. The classes will be for an intimate six, costing £30 per head. The studio will be closed to all other persons during these hours and once the workout is done, there are individual private shower and changing room facilities available.

There is enough time and space in the world to allow people to maintain their differences (which keeps the world interesting), well, there is at my Studio anyway.

It is narrated on the authority of Anas that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) observed: By Him in whose Hand is my life, no bondsman (truly) believes till he likes for his neighbour, or he (the Holy Prophet) said: for his brother, whatever he likes for himself.

Sahih Muslim Book 1, Hadith 73

Anna Reich can be contacted by readers who are interested in attending any of her classes via info@annareichpt.co.uk; her website is www.annareichpt.co.uk

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Writing

Writing

Aisha Davies writes candidly about her own self-doubts in solidarity with yours and shows you how to get past these limits to start achieving

Everyone suffers from writer’s block and nerves at some point in their writing career. Even me. Although I am a writer for a popular Muslimah magazine I haven’t written a single article. Talk about writer’s block.

Why, you may ask?

My own self-limiting belief that I am not as good, as talented or even as worthy as the other established sisters on the roll. Masha Allah their writings are articulate, highly intelligent and just darn good. It’s certainly a lot to live up to!

You may wonder then, why I am writing this. Well several reasons.

One: because my self-limiting belief isn’t necessarily true at all. It’s my own opinion and not necessarily that of others.

Two: How will I know if I am capable of writing read-worthy material unless I actually write?

The gentle reminder often helps. It seems the starting is the hardest part but once you pass the first hurdle the rest of the journey seems easy somehow.”

A sister recently gave me a great piece of advice. She said, “Don’t worry about getting it right, just write.” Wow, so simple and so seemingly obvious. And that is what I am doing. Over time insha Allah, through practice, I will find writing becomes easier and that I have established my style and a certain level of sophistication.

Another sister commented to me that we all have to start somewhere. Again fairly obvious but the gentle reminder often helps. It seems the starting is the hardest part but once you pass the first hurdle the rest of the journey seems easy somehow.

Three: To inspire young talented Muslimahs such as yourself to simply start and do your best. Not try but DO. It’s the doing that is the most important part and will eventually take you somewhere far away from the mere thought of writing to a physical piece published in a magazine, on a blog or in your very own book. Think of the possibilities!

So let’s look at your own limited beliefs.

As a young Muslimah you may feel that:

You’re too young.

No one will take you seriously.

That your writing isn’t good enough.

You may have several more limited beliefs but these tend to be the common ones most people have.

Ok so let’s analyse your limited beliefs. You’re simply too young to forge a writing career and because you’re so young your writing won’t be of a high standard nor will anyone take you seriously.

I’ve been calling these negative thoughts limited beliefs which is what they are, but it may be that my negative self-talk started with waswasa, whispers of Shaytan, our avowed enemy who till the Day of Judgement simply does not want any believing man or woman to succeed in anything positive.

I say kick these thoughts and Shaytan to the curb!

Whenever you get one of these self-limiting thoughts remember that you are a believer whom Shaytan is jealous of. Recite isti’adha (a’uthubillahi minashaytanir rajeem). And believe you can achieve refuge with Allah SWT from Shaytan, the accursed. Believe you can achieve and know that Allah SWT has given you abilities and skills to achieve.

You are not too young, your writing through your passion will be of a high standard and you will get taken seriously if that passion and love for writing shines through in your work. It isn’t always about paragraph structure or an impressive vocabulary. It’s about you, your message and love for what you do.

So go ahead, pick up that pen and paper, say bismillah and write!

Aisha Davies is the Adviser for Young Muslimah Magazine and a staff writer so you can anticipate more articles from her as she actively overcomes hurdles to achieving her writing career insha Allah

{And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.} The Qur’an 65:3

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A Handshake

A Handshake

Shabana Diouri decided she wanted to complete an intensive course to teach English as a foreign language. She got lost on her way to class and ended up being the last student in …

I noticed an awkward silence as I entered. The stares and confused looks. I couldn’t understand why. I sat down and busied myself in anticipation of the teacher.

As soon as the teacher arrived, she told me I was, “In the wrong room.” Apparently people learning English belonged down the corridor. In all honesty her assumption did take me by surprise. Not because I thought RACIST! But because I wasn’t used to this type of mentality.

I grew up in East London, my neighbours to the right were Nigerian Christians, to the left Irish Athiests, and opposite were Jamaican Rasta, English. We had an amazing community, we shared food and looked after each other’s houses and pets. We grew up with everyone so race and religion were not really a big deal to me, instead trust and respect were.

Hence the reason I felt so uncomfortable at people reacting the way they did. I felt singled out and the only obvious thing I could put it down to was the difference in the way I looked. I was the only brown coloured women wearing the hijab amongst a room of white people. But the story does not end there. I decided to conduct an experiment.

I could have taken their reactions to heart, retreated within myself and felt like a ‘victim’. But instead I thought of challenging the situation.

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes,

we are wrong and too quick to conclude

what we perceive to be the way people

think of us.

I had studied the theory of ‘self fulfilling prophecies’ in Economics and decided to apply this to the awkward situation I found myself in. Were people really giving me looks? Were they trying to single me out? Did they really see me as someone too different to them for us to even communicate? Was this an outward expression of racism? Or was this my own perception?

I could confirm I was being reacted to, but what I could not say with complete conviction were the reasons and intentions behind those reactions. If I had allowed myself to believe I was suffering from racism, I could’ve internalised that. Negative perception could then actually have caused me to behave ‘different’. I could have become increasingly quiet, keeping to myself and not engaging in dialogue. But I knew such reactionary behaviour could end up causing more of the ‘racism‘ that I didn’t like!

I didn’t want to initiate a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies, and so I decided that I would treat the students like family. They hadn’t got to know me and I would make damn sure I changed that.

I spoke to every student. Though initially I wasn’t asked to join anyone for coffee or lunch, this soon changed. I ended up making very good friends.

This experience taught me something very valuable about the difference between racism and perception. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, we are wrong and too quick to conclude what we perceive to be the way people think of us.

Last year we moved to a new house. My neighbours stood at their front doors staring. No one said hello. No one even smiled. I could have assumed the worst but instead I thought maybe they don’t know how to approach me. After our housewarming party, I sent a plate of food to each neighbour. The hellos and smiles came out instantly.

Not every look or silence is done with venomous racist intent. Sometimes people feel awkward, unsure, confused about how to approach someone that looks different. So why not initiate dialogue? Extend the hand of friendship and see what happens? Be first to initiate the conversation that could potentially turn strangers into friends.

Shabana Diouri is a staff writer for Young Muslimah Magazine so you can look forward to more articles from her inshaAllah. She blogs at http://muslimahuninterrupted.wordpress.com/

 

Excerpt from the Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon (Peace and blessings be upon him):

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action … Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves … Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”

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