Saturday, June 16, 2012

Facial Skincare Products Loved, Liked and Hated

Alhamdulillah I'm 29 now and I've been trying to take care of my skin properly since I was about 25.  I have a lot of freckles and my skin can start to look quite dull if I don't take care of it properly.
I'm blessed in that I've never really suffered from big bags under my eyes though I do have small tiny one, but sometimes I do look a little puffy.

I've noticed that if I leave my skin alone for a few weeks and get into a bad routine where I don't take care of it, I get a lot of fine lines around the corners of my eyes and sides of my mouth, and end up  looking seriously tired, drained and dull, and older than my years.  Also my skin can get very dry  around my forehead and on my cheeks,  to the point where my make up starts to look clogged and/or flaky. In contrast to that I have an oily chin and there's usually where I get spots, if any. Alhamdulillah I've never been bothered too much by spots, generally getting one or two max a month in this area.

If I'm being a good girl and doing my absolute best then generally I will use as part of my skincare routine:
  • An Exfoliator
  • A Face SPF cream
  • An Eye Cream
  • A Day Moisturizer
  • A Cleanser
  • A Night Cream

Sometimes I'm naughty and get lazy and don't use all or any of them as regularly as I should so from time to time, so if my skin gets into a very bad state and I feel I can't turn it around fast enough, I'll go get a facial treatment at a beauty salon. (yes I love spoiling myself with these, at least 2-3 times a year!)

So here is my review of some products I've tried in the past, and what I'm using in the present.


St. Ives Apricot Scrub: LIKE
Feel:A very thick grainy exfoliator, with very large particles. My skin comes out looking sheeny shiny squeaky clean after using this so originally I was very happy,  but using it more than twice a month I felt was too abrasive and made my skin dry, so I stopped using this because I felt it was a waste of money (though in fairness it is cheap about 7 euros).
Smell: The smell is nice and fruity so it is quite enjoyable to use from that perspective.
Overall: Probably better for oily skins that need regular exfoliation.

Dermalogica Microfoliant: LOVE!

Feel: Weirdly when I first used this, I felt very disappointed. That's because I like creamy, lathery products that foam up. This is a powder based product, so you shake out just a little bit of white powder onto wet palms. The ingredients react with water so rub your palms together and the result is a watery, powdery, barely there lather.  On your face it feels watery, not creamy and the powder particles are tiny so it's not abrasive at all, which is why it is a daily exfoliant. However, after you've washed it off, your skin is beautifully soft.

Smell: It's a got a very natural, almost starchy smell, as it's main ingredient is rice enzymes.

Overall: I discovered this in a salon, and while it is pricey, it is definitely worth it. I feel because my skin is dry, it removes dead skin easily, and the therapist advised me to use more water and less powder to help reduce visible pores. This definitely worked. After a week of using this, you will understand how often you need to use it: for me 3-4 times a week is perfect. This bottle is very big so it lasts upwards of a year, I think that's great value for the 50 euros I spent on it anyway -I'm sure you can get it cheaper online.

Face SPF cream:

For a long time I've read beauty editors saying that they would always use an SPF cream. Living in Ireland is a rain-fest; we hardly ever see the sun here. Apart from that, I work full time in an office so I don't spend much time outdoors except on the weekends. So for years I've felt that an SPF cream would be a waste of time and needless expense. Also, many moisturizers have an SPF of about 15 in them, so I thought what the heck, that should be enough. However a therapist told me, the SPF in moisturizers don't really work, because it's too low an SPF. If they make it higher, like SPF 50, the chemicals interfere with the moisturizing properties.  Because I have freckles that always darken in the summer, I started to wonder this year if I should start using a specific cream to help with pigmentation issues.

So this is the SPF cream I have started to use (although mine is SPF 30), and I love it!!

Lancome Genifique Soleil: Love!
Feel: I had reservations that this might be sticky, and sticky is a big no-no for me. While it is creamy it is extremely light and feels gorgeous. It absorbs in really quickly which I love because I put on my eye cream and moisturizer after and I have this weird thing about mixing them all together on my skin, so I wait for each one to absorb before the next and in the morning rush before work, I need that to be fast.

Smell: It's lightly fragranced and does smell a small bit like the sun cream you use on your body.

Overall: I haven't yet used this product long enough to see how it really affects the pigmentation in my skin, but there is another very good reason why it deserves my love: It leaves my skin feeling beautifully soft and has seriously reduced the visibility of my pores. This is a huge plus for me, as I've spent a long time looking for something to achieve this! It also leaves my skin very bright and fresh looking. It cost me 26 euros which is a little pricey I think, but I'm happy with the investment. Also we have had a couple of days of sun here recently, (surprisingly) and I didn't go pink in the face which can only be good!

Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunscreen for Face: HATE

I tried this product a few years ago and I really didn't like it, I used it a couple of times and then I dumped it! I bought it specifically for protecting my face under my make up while on holiday. Freckles and sunburn is NOT a good look.

Feel: Seemed like a nice cream, but was extremely sticky and almost did not absorb.  Putting makeup on over it felt very uncomfortable. I had that feeling like I immediately wanted to wash it off - it felt very greasy.

Smell: An aaty, natural smell, I wasn't too keen on it.

Overall: Sticky, greasy, non-absorbent. There has to be better than this for around the same price range (I think it was about 11 euros when I bought it). Not nice, I wouldn't recommend it all.

Eye Cream: 

As I get older, I notice that I have heavy eyelids - you know when the skin over your lids is starting to droop down a bit. Well it's either that or the extra pounds I'm carrying. Anyways, as I said before my eyes immediately start to suffer if I neglect my skin. Lines, tiredness, bags, dark shadows, the whole nasty lot.  In the past I was happy to just use face moisturizer over my eyes, but now my eye area definitely needs more dedicated attention. I have tried some cheap supermarket brands, but always felt that they did no more for me than water, so now I've invested in a dedicated eye cream.

Elemis Pro Collagen Eye RenewalLike

I bought this product as part of a set, and have to say I was a bit dubious about how good it might be. I never really understood what to expect from an eye cream versus a face moisturizer. Well now I'm getting a good idea.

Feel:  This pumps out a thin gel which feel quite cool when you put it on although not uncomfortably so. Generally you should use it twice a day but I use it just in the morning, and find that it's quite refreshing on my eyes after my shower. I massage it in above and below my eyes; it's not sticky but takes a bit longer to absorb. The skin around my eyes is quite sensitive to creams but this does not sting in the slightest.

Smell: There's no real discernible fragrance from this product.

Overall: I think this is a wonderful product but I'm waiting a bit longer before I say I love it, as it's only been a few weeks and I'm hoping to have even more positivity about it after that. In the 2 weeks I've been using it, the skin above my eyes no longer droops onto my eyelid, which I never expected from an eye cream. Fine lines are reduced as are the dark shadows,  even though I'm pregnant, tired and stressed. I also feel it took away puffiness around my eyes, so I'm very surprised and satisfied with this, although I'd want to buy it in a set again because individually it is too expensive for me to purchase on it's own (about 65 euros).

Day Moisturizer:

I once saw my friend's mother, a good looking woman in her mid fifties with peachy skin and almost no wrinkles. I exclaimed to my friend how her mother's skin looked amazing, and she told me that her mother had used E45 cream as a face moisturizer every day since she was 18. Which goes to prove you don't have to spend a lot but you do need to moisturize every day!

Here are some of the moisturizers I like the most at different price points:

Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream: LIKE

Feel: I had heard rave reviews about this product, and then I got a facial treatment at a salon using Elemis products. The therapist used other products from their range that I wasn't too keen on (because of a stinging sensation) but this one was lovely. It's a very light thin creamy moisturizer, and it takes about 10 minutes for my skin to absorb it. I apply this after the Elemis eye cream but not over my eyes. My foundation glides on easily after and my skin feels soft and smooth underneath it and looks bright and fresh. If I don't apply makeup I do look a little shiny faced, so would use translucent powder at least to take away the shine. However it doesn't cause spots, and I don't have to worry about putting this on my oily chin area. I definitely feel it promotes elasticity and hydration in my skin.

Smell: I had heard mixed reviews about the fragrance, some believing it to be cheap and tacky; others thought it was a refreshing feminine scent. I like it, it's summery but very similar to Oil of Olay scent.

Overall: I like this product a lot, there are 2 reasons I don't love it. Personally I like thick rich creams and this is a little too light for my taste, as well as the fact it leaves me a little shiny. Also it is too expensive for me to purchase on its own (at about 70 euros), I got it as part of a set with the Elemis eye cream, and the whole set cost 80 euros including a face serum, so total value was nearly 200 euros. In saying that, my skin feels lovely and soft and well taken care of, so I'm happy with that.

Clarins Multi Active Jour Day Cream: LIKE

This is a product I was first recommended by my sister a few years back, and since then I have returned to it again and again.
Feel: Just the texture of this cream as you lift it out of the jar is gorgeous, it's rich and creamy, not a 'light, thin' cream that spreads out to nothing. It feels gorgeous on your skin, but it does take a while to absorb, I'd have to leave my skin for 10-15 minutes before applying makeup after applying this or else the two are mixing together on the surface of my skin.  It does leave your skin wonderfully soft though, so the patience is worth it. 

Smell: The smell on this is more like a 'perfume' than a 'face cream' smell if you know what I mean. I'd happily wear this scent as a perfume if I could. 

Overall: Leaves me feeling a million dollars. It's so rich, I use it more when I'm not planning to wear makeup as I do feel it doesn't mix well and I notice my skin shinier during the day. It's not anti-ageing so there are none of those benefits either, but it just feels and smells wonderful! It's a bit pricey here at about 50 euros for 50mls.


I have to admit that up to recently I haven't been very good at 'cleansing' specifically and used to use my Dermalogica daily exfoliator to clean my face at night or worse, the skincare sin that is MakeUp Wipes !!! (I got a good telling off from a therapist for admitting to this). Personally I don't see much of a difference between a Cleansing Facial Wash and a Cleanser, so I've lumped them both in here together.

Clarins Cleansing Milk: LIKE
At the moment I'm using this product, it was a birthday gift from my sister, as I felt I should try one out.
Feel: Very lightly creamy and less milky, it has a nice non sticky texture and goes on easy over a face full of makeup. Did sting my eyes a little when it got in, although in fairness that could have been my mascara running into my eyes. I take it off with cotton wool balls and I have to say, it leaves my skin nice and soft (Not like after a moisturizer but soft nonetheless) but very slightly sticky despite the non sticky texture which is bizarre.

Smell: The smell is light and gentle and leaves me feeling calm when I'm about to go to sleep.

Overall: Lovely product, not sure what the price is, but would love it if it didn't leave me feeling a little sticky.

Clinique Cleansing Facial Wash: HATE

I was stupid enough to feel pressured by a sales assistant into buying this, which I lived to regret anyway.

Well it's a get wash, and the first time I washed, it stung my whole face. It was really sore and uncomfortable after a few seconds. My skin was burning and went red, then I got some beautiful red welt looking things on my face. I told this to a therapist later who told me they use Clinique wash to clean the glass thats how harsh it is. I probably had a reaction to some of the plant based ingredients, but I've never had a reaction like that to ANY other product.It didn't smell great, I ended up throwing it out as I was afraid to give it to someone else in case they got the same result. 26 euros down the drain. Now avoiding Clinique products at all cost.

Night Cream:

 Clarins Multi Active Nuit : LOVED!!!

Feel: Very rich and creamy, just like the day cream. I have to be honest I wondered if they had the same ingredients but different packaging, but indeed they do have different ingredients. And the result of this cream is far superior to the day cream. Leaves my skin feeling awesome and after 3 days using it my husband commented on how beautiful my skin was looking (ignorant of the cream). He says I look very bright and currently I have 4 containers of this haha! Love love love it, I often use it during the day also but makeup doesn't sit too well on it.

Smell: Just as gorgeous as the day cream, makes you smell a million dollars.

Overall: Can't rave enough about this, I absolutely love it, it's my all time favourite ever product. You do need to take a break after each tub is finished though, so that your skin can feel the full effect the next time round. But I doubt I will ever stop using this, as long as I can afford it, at 50 euros or so for 50mls.

Nivea Q10 Night Cream: So-So

Feel: This is a very light cream, and I prefer rich ones, so if you prefer light ones, you might like this. It left my skin feel soft but not to the extent of Clarin's products. I was disappointed with the lack of result regarding 'anti-ageing' as it's marked for this. I didn't notice any difference at all on fine lines. 

Smell: I like the smell, not very potent.

Overall: I wouldn't buy it again, because I felt it was good as a basic moisturizer and not much more, so if that's all I wanted I could buy something cheaper. In saying that I don't dislike it. 

Well I have a love for skincare products, so I'll post up more as I try them out :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A lesson in anger...

So recently we were visiting my husband's family who are lovely mashAllah. They don't speak English so my husband translates a lot for me, and translates a lot of what they say to me. I do speak a little of their language so I try hard even if I make mistakes I don't mind.

Now in the 3 years we've been married, my SIL through marriage (who is my husband's brother's wife) has never really spoken much to me. Despite the fact that her husband and mine speak fluent English. She never asks me any questions through translation or directly. All this time I've just thought she was a quiet person, and that she was shy.

But the last time we visited, my husband's best friend and his wife of 2 years came to see us all. I knew this girl a little before her marriage, so we weren't total strangers. So, there we were in the kitchen: me, my SIL (my husband's sister), my SIL through marriage and this wife of my husband's best friend. 

Now I knew that the last 2 didn't really know each other too well, and yet as soon as we sat down they chatted away constantly. I tried to ask the wife some questions in her language and she replied, but she asked me nothing back - despite the fact I am 6 months pregnant, she didn't even ask me how I am, nothing, zero, zilch.

I started to feel very angry as they yapped on, nobody making any effort with me at all, and stared out the window. My husband's sister God bless her talked to me a little but the other 2 just completely ignored me.

I started to realise my BIL's wife was actually not the quiet shy person I thought and that all these years she just made no effort, and the wife of my husband's best friend I thought she was just being rude.

As I sat there growing even more intensely angry I started to wonder what this said about me. Being Irish, we are totally friendly to new people we meet and would do everything to make a new acquaintance feel comfortable and included. This is shown by asking lots of questions about a person, and making chit chat, basically showing some interest in them without being over personal, nosy or forward. I have always made this effort with my BIL's wife.

I started to wonder why I was expecting other people to give me the treatment that I would give to someone, and how that wasn't really fair - after all this was a different country and they had a more formal less inclusive culture. My anger started to completely dissipate as I started to feel more sad than angry...sad that they didn't come from a culture like mine, sad that I expected my own behaviours from others, sad that after 3 years my BIL's wife still wouldn't reach out to me.

I asked myself why I felt it was so important for me to get equivalent treatment from people I don't really spend much time with, and realised perhaps it was my own vanity/ego that wanted it, to be seen as 'equal' despite the fact I am older than both of them. I decided in the future I would be nice and friendly without expecting it back.

Because in Islam, isn't that how we are told we need to be? How many examples are there in the Hadith of the Prophet s.a.w.s where he was friendly and neighbourly to people who showed him nothing but hatred, ridicule or insult. InshaAllah I can try to be like him....

And this is what builds Sabr in a person and Sabr builds acceptance and acceptance allows one to accept anything from Allah swt, all trials and tests, and THIS is how to build your Imaan and be successful and happy in Islam :)

InshaAllah I can become like this.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My dream home...

If you're a convert or just someone who has resorted to (non Islamic) credit whether it be a car loan, mortgage or credit card, lots of us have debt and... (gulp) interest.

I'm not here to judge anyone, I have debt myself and am paying interest on this, some of it from my pre-Islam days, some from later. This is debt I am working to clear, and try hard not to increase.

The question is: what attitude do we take to taking credit and paying interest?

Interest (Riba in Islam) has clear rules in Islam: Neither pay it nor receive it.

Surah Al-baqarah verse no.275 
"Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Satan by his touch has driven to madness. That is because they say, "trade is like usury", but Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden usury",

Surah Al-baqarah verse no.278-279
Oh you who believe! Fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for usury if you are indeed believers. If you do not, take notice of war from Allah and his Messenger  but if you repent you shall have your capital sum. Deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly."

While the verses above deal specifically with the receipt of interest, paying interest is also haram.

This is known via various hadith, such as
Volume 7, Book 63, Number 259 :
Narrated by Abu Juhaifa
The Prophet cursed the lady who practices tattooing and the one who gets herself tattooed, and one who eats (takes) riba' (usury) and the one who gives it. And he prohibited taking the price of a dog, and the money earned by prostitution, and cursed the makers of pictures.

 Astaghfirullah. May Allah swt help me to finish out my debt, because having to pay interest is something I truly hate.

Recently we considered getting a mortgage to buy our own home. I was very tempted by some of the beautiful houses we saw, and imagined how sweet our lives could be, using that kitchen, barbecues in that garden, children playing in front of that fireplace...

Now I'm aware of the European Council of Islam's fatwa that a single mortgage for one home that is to be used purely as primary family residence (not investment, business premises, holiday home etc) is allowed because of the hardship that may be caused otherwise, and I was satisfied to follow this, until I saw the colossal amount of interest I would be paying back over 30/35 years. It amounted to nearly the same price of the house again. Then I started to think about this, and I felt that I couldn't be comfortable to pay that kind of money in interest justified by a fatwa. That is no disrespect to anyone who has chosen to follow it, as I am not a Sheikh and I make no comment on the fatwa itself. Only that for me, I couldn't risk it.

Since there is no Islamic finance available in Ireland, it looks as though we will have to rent for a long time to come :(  This makes me unhappy as I've lived in over 10 different places in 12 years, and would love to have my **own** home, especially with the baby coming.  But inshaAllah we will find somewhere to live that we can stay a few years, and inshaAllah Islamic finance will come to Ireland soon.

And may Allah swt forgive me for paying interest. I've closed the main card down (I keep a low limit second card for small purchases and things like car rentals which require one) but I would love to be both debt and interest free. InshaAllah, ya Allah.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What would I do without you...

At 25 weeks I'm feeling very tired cos I haven't slept too good the last week and have travelled to and from Germany.

My heels seem to be killing me with the weight of Bump which is quite big I think compared to a lot of women. People at work keep saying 'You must be about to pop!', I'm like 'No another 3 months or so to go' and feel bad when they go bright red.

Hubby has been an absolute angel, giving footrubs and setting up the footspa for me, making dinners, doing all the cleaning and laundry,  graciously giving up the duvet when I pull it off and putting up with my pregnant snoring as well as dishing out millions of hugs and compliments...

I actually look at him sometimes and wonder what I did to deserve him, and all I can say is alhamdulillah, and hope that Allah swt has not given me all my reward in this life, in the form of my darling hubby, mashaAllah.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

When I was a kid......Part 2

So as I've said in Part 1, I've had a wave of nostalgia come over me, maybe it's hormones with being pregnant, who knows, and I wanted to capture some of my own childhood memories...

I have 2 sisters, and I distinctly remember how we loved to play indoors when we weren't killing each other. My poor mother was always having her ears chewed off particularly by me and my younger sister :) Some of the happiest family memories I have are when we all got involved; when we all played together.

I liked to think I was 'artsy craftsy', as I child one of my biggest woes was that we didn't use Fairy washing up liquid or have pipe cleaners, as it was always that brand's bottle that was suggested in the kids craft programs on TV like 'Art Attack'. Making endless pencil holders with empty toilet rolls wrapped in leftover Christmas wrapping paper was great fun, but since I didn't have double sided sticky tape I had to ball up regular tape making the whole thing wonky. Still I loved it!

My parents bought me plaster moulding sets and stenciling kits and I spent hours having great fun and annoying the hell out of everyone else with all my creations. In reality, I'm terrible at art, much to my chagrin as a teenager in school.

My sisters and I had a whole selection of board games that we loved and played to death, favourites were The Game of Life which took about 3 hours to complete if the whole family played; my parents later admitted they took to moving the pieces along when we weren't looking!

Cluedo, Ludo (below) and Monopoly were house favourites, as were Scrabble, and card games like Go Fish! and Snap!

When I got a bit older, my best friend and I concocted the idea of having our own radio station, which we played at by recording ourselves on a cassette deck, complete with jingle, keyboard music and fake stories, and then recorded ourselves singing the hits. This was hours of fun although I'm not sure all the lyrics in the songs were suitable for 12 year olds to be singing! I think we called it Bayside FM :)

Do families still play board games together? I think it's definitely not as common as it was, perhaps the kids are left to play them by themselves, but I hope to ensure it's definitely part of my kids' memories inshaAllah that we all played together.

At Halloween we never ever bought costumes (plastic masks the odd time), we always made them, usually an hour before we ran out onto the street with plastic supermarket bags trick or treating for sweets and mandarin oranges. One year my dad halved a black plastic binliner and taped it to my neck so it had a collar, then put tomato ketchup on my chin to look like blood and my mam put some eyeliner on me. We all laughed hysterically at the state of me and I happily tripped along holding my sister's hand and answering 'Vampire' whenever a neighbour asked what I came as!
My dad would sometimes make a treasure hunt for me, with rhyming clues hidden all over the house leading to chocolate or sweets. My mam would spend ages cutting a pumpkin and creating decorations for the house with us from crepe paper and glitter glue.

Loads of fun that I hope to recreate for Eid for my kids, apart from the pumpkin and vampire costume maybe!

When I was a kid......Part 1

A combination of my dislike for video games and an article on the Internet that filled me with nostalgia got me thinking about how I spent my childhood and how I'd like my child to remember their childhood. I grew up on a standard Irish housing estate, neither poor nor rich. Video games started to become available at some point during those years, with the original Nintendo with Tetris and the Sony Mega Drive showing up in my friends' houses along with malfunctioning Commodore 64s. My parents never bought us any of these, probably more a cost issue than any concerns about their influence on the minds of children and to this day I'm glad they didn't although it was a great injustice to me at the time.

Consequently I have fantastic memories about the games we used to play and once I got thinking on that well my whole childhood has come flooding back to me and I feel I have to write it down, at least for posterity's sake. I was a child in the late eighties/ nineties and here are some of the games I grew up playing:

Games out on the street:

'Kerbs' was a game of skill and patience. You required two opposite pavement kerbs and a football. Each opponent stood on a kerb and took turns throwing the football at the opposite kerb with the hope the ball would hit the kerb and bounce back. This gave you 10 points. If you could run forward and catch the ball as it bounced back then that was 20 points. Hitting the kerb meant you could progress to the centre of the road and try hit the kerb from there. That was worth 5 points. But if you missed and your opponent caught the ball and could hit you with it before you had run back to your own kerb then you lost all your points. This game could go on as long as you both wanted, hours of fun!

Tip The Can was a game of hide and seek with someone being tagged 'it'. 'It' had to stand at a pillar or gate post -'the can'- and count while everyone else went to hide. Then It had to go and search for everyone and race the found person back to the can to successfully tag them. If you lost the race you were out and could only be brought back into the game if someone else successfully won the race and shouted 'tip the can I free (name)'! If you were the last person hiding and successfully won the race you could free all instead of just one and the whole thing would start again.

Elastics was mostly a girls game with huge coloured elastic bands being stretched around the ankles of 2 girls. You then had to jump over the elastics and from side to side while reciting a rhyme which ended in needing to jump on the elastics. If you failed or tripped you were out, if you were successful the elastics were raised higher and you did it again.

Skipping usually required one massive rope and you had to run in and skip to the rhyme while the rope was being swung.

Rounders was baseball played with a tennis racket or cricket bat since no one had a baseball bat.

Hop Skotch was big but I found it boring.

What's the Time Mr. Wolf was a chasing game where the chaser turned his back on the rest of the gang. They al had to stand well back and chant What's the Time Mr.Wolf?! and had to take the corresponding number of steps forward as the time i.e. 3 o'clock meant 3 steps towards him. At any given time the wolf could shout Dinner Time! and all hell would break loose as the gang scattered and the Wolf chased and caught his replacement.

Red Rover was one I hated because I wasn't particularly strong and I hated pain. Two teams would link hands and face each other in lines. Each team would call someone from the other team over with the chant: "Red Rover Red Rover we call Lindsey over!!" The person called had to run top speed and try to break through the linked hands of two people on the opposing team. If they did they could return to their own team, if not they had to join the other team. When a team was reduced to a final person that person could bring back another team mate if they were successful and so on.

In winter if there was snow, we used to find a hill and have races to the bottom by sliding down the hill on turf sacks. This was great fun but dangerous since our hill was a road on the estate!

In summer water fights would break out, with the cool kids having water balloons and the regular kids having plastic bottles of water. Rarely did anyone have a good water gun then though some had cheap water pistols from the pound shop!

Another summer favourite was grass fights, being just exactly that; hurling grass at each other for ages!

On our bikes we had things like who could ride the longest without holding the handlebars, slow bicycle races where the winner could ride the slowest for longest without falling off and obviously full on speed races. I loved my bike which was a red painted second hand no brand bike with the awesome power of the pedal backwards brake! Ride on!!

Throwing tennis balls against the side or front of your house was another game loved by the girls of my estate. Any number could play as long as you didn't drop the ball and could name a fruit or vegetable for ever letter of the alphabet with each throw you could be the winner!

Other summer favourites involved catching either ladybirds, caterpillars or bees in a jar. Your mammy warned you once about the bee stings you could get then it was your own choice. I distinctly remember ignoring her wise warnings when I was about 5 years old and being swatted away with 'I told you so !' and a dab of Sudocrem when I came crying with a sting!

Building tents or forts in your back garden from kitchen chairs and duvets was another summer fave though it was never warm enough on Irish nights to stay in them overnight. Dads seemed to love helping with this one, the big kids!

Since most of us rarely had pocket money we would each have a day where we would set up all our unwanted toys and junk outside our homes either on the pavement or on a little table and charge 20p for the doll that must have set your parents back a few quid on your last birthday or Christmas. We would all run home quickly looking for this exorbitant amount from Mammy quickly so we could run back and purchase ASAP because we knew 5 other kids were doing the same thing. All the earnings you made from the jumble sale went either to the Ice Cream Van man or on someone else's junk :)) One year my enterprising little sister made the fortune of about 5 pounds from selling painted rocks and leaves as she didn't want to part with any of her stuff!

As I'm no longer a kid I have no idea if the kids of today still play any of these games. I know that the kids in my old estate still hold jumble sales as my enterprising little 5 year old nephew last year held a jumble sale and made a 'catalogue' with prices so his friend could spend some time selling for him while he played a game himself. That's entrepreneurship and leadership with management skills all at the age of 5 bless him! We all laughed our socks off but had to admire him all the same.

I wonder if with health and safety gone mad, as well as video games, the imaginations of little kids aren't as fervent as ours used to be and what the streets will be like when my little baby reaches 4 or 5 years old. Board game anyone?

Friday, June 8, 2012

The beauty of Sadaqah (Charity)

Most of us at some point in our lives experience both the rise and the fall of our Imaan.

When we feel we are low in Imaan, or that it is waning, the fard can become hard, and the sunnah is often either neglected, or relied upon to ease our guilty conscience.  Personally I feel that no matter whether you have a strong fervant Imaan or are struggling to maintain it, there is one action that should come easy to all, rich or poor, and that is to give Sadaqah.

Why rich or poor? Because the Prophet salAllahu alaihi wa selam said :

“Save yourself from the (Hell) Fire even with half a date (to be given in charity). And if you do not find one, then with a good pleasant word. (Al Bukhari).  

“Your smile to your brother is a sadaqah (charitable act) for you. Your commanding the right and forbidding the wrong is a sadaqah.  Your guiding a man in the land of misguidance is a sadaqah for you. Your seeing (showing the way) for a man with bad eyesight is a sadaqah for you. Your removing a stone or thorn or bone from the road is a sadaqah for you. Your emptying your bucket of water into your brother’s (empty) bucket is a sadaqah for you.  (Tirmidhi)

So Sadaqah does not have to be money. Let's face it, half of the world is on the poverty line, and half is in recession - it's a reality that a lot of people can't afford to spend in charity. Those that can often see it as a 'waste', as money with no return. How can this silly view by taken when Allah subhana wa ta'Ala said :

"For those who give in charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit), and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward."
—.Qur'an, Sura 57: 18

People are afraid to give, that they are 'losing' their money. In reality it's a surefire good investment and if you have any kind of belief at all you cannot doubt that the Quran itself is Truth.

But be careful! The trouble with trying to be good is that if you are successful at it, the little niggly voice in the back of your head starts to congratulate yourself for being superior to others and this is a slippery slope to being ostentatious when giving sadaqah, constantly throwing it in someone's face that you gave them charity or feeling insulted if the person doesn't show any or sufficient gratitude.

"O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His example is like that of a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable [to keep] anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people."  Quran Surah 2:264

There is a lovely hadith from the life of the Prophet s.a.w.s where he illustrates to Aisha r.a. how anything you give away paradoxically remains for your good.

The Messenger of God, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, asked Sayyida ‘Aisha, radiallahu ‘anha, about a sheep that was slaughtered [and donated to the needy], “What remains of it?” She replied, “Nothing but the shoulder.” He, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied, “All of it remains except the shoulder.”

Again though, there are exceptions to what counts such as giving something away which you do not want for yourself is not seen equivalent as true charity -

...and seek not the bad (with intent) to spend thereof (in charity) when ye would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise. Quran 2:267

And while there is reward for both charity that is given in public and in private, it is better for you if you give in secret:

If ye disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do. Quran 2:271

And be happy that that you give in charity. Going to the next life, all you can send before yourself in preparation are good or bad deeds, and anyone who spends in charity will be glad to see those good deeds, no matter how small...

That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.
So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it,
And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it. Quran 99:6-8