October 06, 2005
~*Sister Aishah's Journey Continues...Ramadan 2005 - Day One*~
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu! Insha'Allah this message finds you in the best of health and iman. Amin. My fourth Ramadan...Al-hamdulillah, is being spent in Alexandria, Egypt! However, as we all well know, it seems there will never be a 100% consensus as to exactly what day Ramadan begins. While some may have started their fasting on Tuesday, others did not begin until Wednesday. We (here in Egypt), as fate would have it, landed amongst those to mark the beginning of Ramadan on Tuesday, October 4th. That said, let the Ramadan welcomes commence! *lol* You should have been inside our apartment! There are two phone lines here and believe it or not, they rang almost non-stop, sometimes simultaneously, for about an hour as the news spread throughout the family that Ramadan was upon us. Thankfully my husband's sister was here with us to help field some of the calls as the apartment buzzed with good cheer! After the phones finally stopped ringing, for some reason (excitement maybe?), I was unable to contemplate sleep! Hubby and mom, exhausted from all the Ramadan welcoming on the phones, decided to retire for the evening, so, finding myself alone, I decided to begin preparations for suhoor. There hadn't been any prior discussion about who-would-do-what, but I was just in the frame of mind to take on the task myself. Plundering into the contents of the refrigerator, I proceeded to make one fine mess in the kitchen(ette)...yep...you guessed it...we have quite a small kitchen, so making a mess wasn't hard! *lol* About an hour or so later, the morning feast was prepared and set out nicely on the table, together with juice and hot tea. It was with a sense of satisfaction that I left the kitchen to make the rounds of stirring slumbering souls awake! It was so nice...the three of us sitting together for suhoor. Masha'Allah. But as I sat there watching my husband chat with his mom, I couldn't help imagining what this time would have been like for her had we not been brought together this year as she had been living in the apartment alone prior to our arrival. I found myself, for the umpteenth time, thanking Allah subhanaahu wa ta'ala for bringing us to Alexandria. We finished our meal and Subhan'Allah!! My husband cleaned the kitchen! So here is the drill as established on our first day of Ramadan: Aishah does suhoor, mom does iftar (I get roped into a task here and there for that! *wink*), and dh cleans up the kitchen in acknowledgement for all the hard work we have done! May Allah subhanaahu wa ta'ala reward him most generously! Insha'Allah! *smile* (Brothers take note!! - The Prophet (pbuh) himself set a good example in his treatment of women. He exhorted his followers to treat women kindly. He never struck a woman and een helped his wives with the househould chores! Aa-ishah (Radhiallaahu Anha) said, "He (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasalaam) was a normal husband like others. He stitched his clothes, milked the goats and helped in the chores inside the house." (Ahmad and Tirmidhi) It was about 6 am when I finally put myself to bed. I seemed to sleep well enough until about 9 am. Then between 9 am and noon I re-awoke, count them, five times! Why??? Well...mmm...at suhoor I drank a glass of juice, a cup of tea and a tall glass of ice cold water...I'm sure your imagination can figure out the rest!! *lol* Giving up on sleep to pray dhuhr, with eyes glued shut; I fumbled my way through the sitting room in search of the bathroom to make wudu. The cool tap water felt refreshing as it splashed against my face, Al-hamdulillah. After salat we gathered in the kitchen/dining area, dividing time between chores and our computers (mine and my husbands are temporarily set up in the dining area). I inserted Vol. 1 from my Qur'an CD set into the disk drive of my laptop and adjusted the volume so the three of us could all hear it nicely. As each of us became engrossed in our own tasks, we spent the time until Asr prayer listening to the melodious strains of the Qur'an recited from the Imam of the Holy Mosque in Mecca. After salat, it was time for the ladies of the house to take a short nap. We headed for mom's room where she took the bed and I made myself comfortable on the small sofa beside the balcony door. We drifted off to sleep listening to mom's lively parakeets chirping excitedly about something I am sure escapes me *lol*, the neighborhood children playing on the street outside, and a local brother wandering between the apartment buildings making his clanging noise that sounds like a spoon rattling against the inside a mason jar; this being the call to, "Ya'Allah, come on down and get your fresh foul (fava beans)!!" On a daily basis, generally between 11 am and 4 pm, you can catch the fava bean vendor with his clanging, a bread vendor, and a trader that call out to you from the street offering their services at your convenience...or inconvenience...that is if you're trying to sleep! If you flag them from your balcony, they'll wait for you to come down, or they'll come up, or in the imaginative alternative, they'll conduct their business with you via the basket-dropped-down-a-rope-from-your-balcony system. *smile* Some of the traditions here are really quite interesting...the life is simple, and people, for the most part, are basically just kind, quiet souls, who will generally go out of their way to help a neighbor. Subhan'Allah. As the time approached for Maghrib's adhan, my husband brought to the slumbering ladies of the house, pre-prepared glasses of dates that had been sitting to soften in water throughout the afternoon, and we arose to break our fasts together. After praying Maghrib we re-grouped in the kitchen to fill our plates with the first day of Ramadan Iftar feast mom had spent the earlier part of the day preparing. We decided to eat together in the sitting area of mom's room where we could enjoy the wonderful, cool, early-evening breeze from the nearby sea circulating in between the apartment buildings and winding its way through the screened doors that open out onto the balcony. We chatted amongst ourselves and enjoyed our meal as local news played quietly in the background from the television sitting nearby. With full tummies, our Ramadan threesome fell into a state of blissful laziness and settled in for a short siesta before Isha prayer! The evening was capped in a surprisingly wonderful visit to a charitable organization here in Alexandria; the Conveying Islamic Message Society (CIMS). How we came upon this invitation is another story... The invitation was delivered to me via email from a most delightfully wonderful and sincere young man by the name of Mostafa Mohye. After making final arrangements with my husband by telephone, young Mostafa came by taxi to our apartment, whereupon he sat to chat for a few moments in order to properly introduce himself. It was in this conversation that our young guest explained to my husband how it was that he had come to learn about his wife. Mostafa had stumbled upon my little website approximately two years ago after reading posts I had made in an e-group that we had both subscribed to (the former "Islam is Peace"). Little did I know what an impact I had made on this young man's life… Subhan'Allah. As Mostafa's story unfolded, he shared that he had faithfully followed my "Adventures" as a new Muslim in addition to tracking the comments in the website's guest book; earnestly scouring through its contents looking for new Muslims. Why? You may ask... Well, merely to extend an invitation to accept an offer to provide them with free Islamic literature, of course! *smile* After having met young Mostafa in person, and having had the opportunity to speak with him at length, what I would like to say here today is, if you have ever received, or receive in the future, an email from "Mostafa Mohye" asking you to send him your address so he can mail you free books and information about Islam - please feel free to reply! He is not a hacker or scam artist, he is merely one of the finest young Muslim men I have had the pleasure of meeting since embracing Islam in 2002. Masha'Allah! Believe me, his intentions are simple, honest, and purely from his heart. He just wants to share Islam with you! Now for your Ramadan (or any time) gift!! *wink* After chatting for a short while with Mostafa in our apartment, we left to hail a taxi that would take us to meet with the director and some of the volunteer staff of CIMS. As a result of this meeting, the director most graciously authorized me to convey to you that CIMS would be happy at any time to send Islamic literature to new Muslims and non-Muslims alike, absolutely free of charge! Among the selections that CIMS has to offer, the item I am most happy to tell you about is the Qur'an. Al-hamdulillah, CIMS can provide beautiful, hard-copy Qur'an's in 93 different languages! You read that right! 93 different languages! Subhan'Allah! Additionally, the CIMS staff filled up two bags with samples of books and pamphlets that they distribute and presented them to me for review. "The Religion of Islam" - Vols. 1 & 2 are very nice! Masha'Allah. Below I have put together for you a sampling of other reading material available in hardcopy by mail or downloadable* from the CIMS website. These publications are also available in Arabic, French, Deutsch, Russian and Italian: Fortress of the Muslim (Invocations from the Qur'an and Sunnah) The Holy Hadiths The Pillars of Islam Amongst The Prophet's Companions He is Allah En-Nawawi's Forty Hadith* & El-Qudsi Forty Hadith Islamic Facts Refuting the Allegations Against Islam Islam - The Religion of All Is the Trinity Doctrine Divinely Inspired? Is the Bible God's Word? Let the Bible Speak* The Truth About Jesus The Concept of God in Islam* The Muslim's Belief* Contemplations of Qur'anic Verses The Qu'ran on the Universe* What They Say About the Qur'an* Islam at a Glance* A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam* The Religion of Islam* Islam is Your Birthright* What is Islam?* Principles of Islam* Islam Basic Principles* Islamic Facts* The Right Way to Pray* (Flash) Learn How to Pray* Prayers* Supererogatory Prayers* Purification* Signs of Mohammad's Prophethood Series of Prophecies in the Bible for the Advent of Muhammad (pbuh) The Concept of Worship in Islam* Human Rights in Islam* Peace from an Islamic Standpoint* The Moral System of Islam* Prophethood in Islam* Do You Know This Man?* What They Say About Muhammad* Muhammad in the Bible* The Qur'an & Modern Science Women in Islam Women in Islam vs. Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition* Journey of Four Stages* The Instrument of Light Priests Embracing Islam Stories of New Muslims* Lastly there is my favorite: Performing Our Ablutions and Prayers (ISBN 977-261-506-1) this is a wonderful little spiral bound booklet that is very colorfully illustrated with cartoon characters offering a nicely put together step-by-step process for wudu and salat, including the Arabic text and English (also in Spanish) text. This little booklet makes salat as easy to learn as 1-2-3! What I particularly liked about this booklet is that it is designed in a way that makes it easy to toss into any handbag, book bag, or briefcase for learning-on-the-go! I just fell in love with this item! It's a great companion to the "Prayers" book referred to above. If you are interested in any of the above items, including a copy of the Qur'an (available in 93 different languages) simply reply to this post. CIMS is a registered charity (No. 536), Cairo, Egypt. All materials delivered through the organization, postage-paid and sent to you absolutely free! Okay! That's the end of the journey for Ramadan, Day One in Alexandria, Egypt! Hint: Day two was spent, in part, preparing this story!! Stay tuned! More to come, insha'Allah!! Ramadan Mubarak!! Ma'Salaama, ~Aishah P.S. - My dearest Hanane; you are with me always. Copyright ©2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.