Costumes, Candy, Cake And … A Puppet Show?

Using Light & Shadow To Teach The Seerah


So few months back my son asked me for an Eid party and sadly I hadn’t delivered. It was all in my head – we were going to have an ice cream theme – party paraphilia had been collected… But Eid came and went and along with it summer and we had had no official ‘Eid party’. In the worlds of Pinterest and Instagram it was basically a mommy fail moment but in terms of real life – it was just that. Real. Life.

It’s around this time of year, that Muslim parents all start asking the same questions revolving around Halloween. Should it be celebrated? If not, how do we say no? Should the kids participate? It’s the same thing every year. One must admit, it is a winning combination. Costumes and Candy? Yes and Yes!  And no matter where on the spectrum your religious views on this fall, most parents find it really hard to be the “bad guy” and say No.  Well, this year too, Halloween is around the corner and kids especially, here in North America, where Halloween is a big (money making!) deal are excitedly taking about it.

Without going into too much detail, we had decided to nip the Halloween spirit in the bud when our eldest was just 3 years old and starting to ‘notice’ it. We told him he could wear costumes anytime he wanted to, and indulged him in buying all manner of fun ones (mainly superhero). As for sweets, it was a always a Friday tradition to give him a mix bag of jelly sweets so he never felt left out in that sense. Plus one year when he was was four, we organised a ‘Costume Eid party’ that was great fun for all his friends and definitely got the Halloween wiggles out of them all!

But that was two years ago… it was high time for another ‘party’. We had already missed the ‘Eid Window’ and there would be no Halloween for us here,  yet, we had the start of the Hijri new year and what an amazing opportunity for celebration?!  Celebrating anything other than the two Eids can come with its own bit of controversy, so when I initially ran this idea by my friends one of them wondered if we could somehow make it into an educational event too.

I was determined, the teaching part should be the most fun part. That was the challenge. I wrote a quick message to my group of Halaqa Mamas, asking if they were up for a kids party. A date was set, this thing was happening!

I must make it clear, this was not a ‘Halloween alternative’ as such, but I do remember the words of a parenting panellist once, who said  if you say ‘No’ to your child for something seemingly ‘fun and enjoyable’ make sure you have two other ‘halal’ options you can say ‘Yes’ to them for. And you know what, this idea has kind of stuck with me.  

Here is how our ‘Hijri Party Planning went down :

Four days before the ‘party’ two friends asked if I needed ‘help’. I grabbed them by their hands and somehow, in the 5 minute brainstorming session between us we came up with a rather ambitious idea of narrating the story of the Hijra using puppets. Not just any puppets.  Shadow puppets.

There would be costumes… I’m afraid for the sake of anonymity, this little fox was the only one I could capture!


There would be candy! (of course)


There would be cake. This beautiful cake was created by my talented friend Leila, who not only made the cake but generously offered her home for the venue too! Can you believe those rocks? (Yes, they are edible!)


And there would be a  Show!




We met up in one house on Friday morning to prepare for a party to start the next day!

Amongst the other 7 mamas and 20 kids in our regular Halaqa group word had gotten around that there would be a ‘special presentation’ but it’s enough to say we suitably wowed everyone with our efforts.

For the shadow puppet theatre :  I googled ‘shadow puppet DIY videos’ and used the second one that came up. The first did seem a little primitive even by our beginners standards.

This is a great step by step, we didn’t use any other ‘tutorial’ at all.

TIP – when choosing the screen, go for parchment paper instead of wax paper. We tried both and the former is better.

We used an old moving box.


Measuring and cutting.


Since our box was pre-used, we spray painted it using Rustoleum in gold (I happened to have an unused can of this at home!)


You don’t have to wait till after dark to put on the show, we used blackout curtains and even left some fairy lights on! The light source for the screen was a simple table lamp. We used  this one  as it was flexible and easy to manoeuvre.


The best thing about this party was that I wasn’t stressed out, the simple reason being that I was not doing this on my own. TIP – DO NOT attempt this all on your own. Ok just a few times before Friday when it was all talk and no action I did wonder what we had signed up for, but once we started rolling it took the three of us all of one day and later on a couple of hours at home, with the help of hubby,  after kids slept to get everything ready.


We printed the illustrations on to plain white paper and then glued it to black card-stock. If you don’t have a scalpel/craft knife – you must borrow or get one – you do not want to be attempting these using scissors!



For the ‘Script’ or the ‘Story’I wrote a narration of the Hijri story – borrowing heavily from Aiysha’s post and from this beautiful book.


The book illustrations themselves mirrored this shadow puppet ‘theme’ , and I absolutely loved that animals were used to tell the story, which is the way we chose to ‘narrate’ our’s too.

Read my narration here and feel free to use as you wish.

For the Shadow Puppets The only really daunting and time consuming task it seemed would be to either draw the puppets or scout the Internet ️looking for suitable images. Here is where we definitely lucked out. We received these hand drawn images to use for the story by our very own MAMANUSHKA artist Zarina !










The name might be familiar to you from all of the wonderful illustrations she has either drawn specifically for us or given us permission to use on the blog. (She is in fact the artist behind our header too)!

And because we love our readers  – we have made these shadow puppet drawings available as a free download for you! See more and download them all right here.  I’m telling you, When the first one came through the printer I was tempted to just put it in a frame and hang it up in my kids room – that’s how fantastic these looked.

TIP- Pay special attention to how the puppet is attached via masking tape – ( refer to video, it’s easy but just do it right)

Seeing as we were in Halloween season, we took  full advantage and made a quick stop at the holiday section in Target. This yielded one one of the best ‘scenes’ of the show!



“Super fast and super skillfully she spun and spun with all her power and soon a beautiful web covered the whole mouth of the cave. When she finished she sat right in the middle of it as if to say ‘no one shall enter!”


The verdict? AMAZING! All the children were totally into it, from the just under three to the over eights and in between. With twenty five children and their parents –  it was quite an audience! Both kids and grown ups asked for an encore (we obliged!)

Here are some of our favourite scenes :

“…His smile shone like a light in the darkness and not only did all children of Makkah love him, but he was so gentle that the animals and even the plants loved him too…”



“There were two very special things in Makkah. At the heart of the city was the Kaaba built thousands of years ago by the prophet Abraham  and his son Ismail and near the Kaaba  was the special well of Zam-Zam ….”



“…The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was not worried, he asked his cousin Hazret Ali to wear his green cloak and take his place by sleeping in his bed.  He reassured Hazret Ali that no harm would come to him…”



“Hazrat Abu-Baker chose two of the strongest and bravest camels  for the dangerous journey ahead. They felt like the luckiest camels in the world! And with the help of a guide they left the city of Makkah and made their way into the desert, carrying our Prophet and his best friend.”



After the first ‘show’ the children couldn’t wait to get ‘hands on’. They LOVED playing with the theatre and the puppets.




On the first round even the almost 3 year olds were too mesmerised to speak! By the encore. The kids we singing along to ‘tala-al-badrualina’ scene with such warm enthusiasm.




Wouldn’t it be a lovely idea to ‘show’ some more stories of the Prophets or stories from the Seerah in this way? My daughter who is soon to be three, genuinely loved watching it and while narrating I would glance her way to see her face in absolute rapture at the story. You will be surprised at how much even the younger ones understand, she said to me later (randomly and with much excitement!)  ‘Abu-bakr was Prophets BEST FRIEND!”

If you want to try something smaller scale, this actually lends itself really well to home play. The kids were obviously inspired by the whole concept, and a few days later my 6 year old said ‘Mama I want to do something nice with you” Now he uses this exact sentence to basically mean ‘I need you to stop doing what you are doing and pay attention to me’. It was a week day and late, My house was a complete mess but I asked him anyway – ‘what would you like to do?’

‘I want to make a shadow puppet story with you” 

This time I was not worried about scale and measurements or neatness. Using the same method as before, we used an empty diaper box and had this thing set up in less than 10mins.


They decorated it with star stickers and used their toys as ‘puppets’


So much awe and wonder.


Shadow Puppetry is one of the most ancient forms of storytelling, and it felt so inspiring  to share the Hijra story with our kids in this way. The thing is, that wasn’t the most inspiring part. Sure it felt great when a six year old boy, called his dad and asked him to come to the party especially to watch the second show (he came). But it was the fact that we spent some time and effort in doing this for our kids TOGETHER. It wasn’t some ‘super mom’ attempt at throwing an ‘enviable’ or ‘Pinterest Perfect’ party. It was all of us, like minded  mothers and fathers – taking the time out and working together for our children, our community. It might have taken three of us to execute the shadow puppet ‘play’ but the rest, bought food to the table, took time out of their schedules, played with the kids and contribute on other days in other ways.

In fact one of them is here with me right now, while I write up this post. She took time out today to specifically come with her own two year old – to play with my daughter, take her to the park,  read her some books, so I would be able to write in peace and be able to complete this post on time to share it with all our readers across the globe. That is a direct reflection of Prophetic teaching. That is what I am inspired by.

You might not be able to make a shadow puppet show for your kids or take time out to help another struggling mama, but I know there is definitely something that you can do. You just need to figure out what it is and offer it. You don’t need to be able to do it all by yourself. Seek out your tribe, do things together, there is no better thing for your child than good company. A key theme in the Hijra story and beyond, when the Prophet reached Madina, is community spirit. This was my small way of feeling part of it.


Also How We Celebrated The  New Hijri Year



Don’t Be A Judgey Judgeface || Don't Be a Judgey Judgeface || Timeless Advice From Imam al-Ghazali

Whether openly or subtly, accompanied by our actions or our words, out loud or in our own heads, at one time or another, we’ve all made that face – the Judgey Judgeface. The one we make when we’ve convinced ourselves we are better. Definitely not like others – inferior or mediocre.

The truth is, regardless of age, wealth, status or knowledge, the better person is the one who is better in the sight of God and that is one thing there is absolutely no way for us to assess.

So when you are feeling a bit judgemental, a bit mighty – a bit better than those around you, remember that our Beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people. (Sahih Muslim).

Have a read of this timeless advice from Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali and next time think twice.

The assumption that you are better than others is pure ignorance on your part. Nay! It is recommended that you do not look towards another except that you see him as better than yourself and more blessed

Thus, if you see a child, tell yourself –
‘This person has never sinned against God, but I have sinned, and so he is better than I.’

And if you see an older person, tell yourself –
‘This man was a servant of God before me, and is certainly better than I.’

If he is a scholar, tell yourself –
‘This man has been given what I have not been given and reached what I did not reach, and knows what I am ignorant of; then how shall I be like him?’

And if he is ignorant, tell yourself –
‘This man has sinned against God in ignorance, and I have sinned against Him knowingly, so God’s case against me is stronger, and I do not know what end He will give to me and what end to him.’

If he is an unbeliever, tell yourself –
‘I do not know; perhaps he will become a Muslim and his life will end in doing good, and because of his acceptance of Islam something of his sins will be taken away, as a hair is taken from dough gently; but as for me – God is our refuge (God grant it does not happen) – perhaps God will lead me astray so that I become an unbeliever and my life ends in doing evil, and then tomorrow he will be among those brought near to God and I shall be among the punished.’



The above passage is taken from The Beginning of Guidance (Bidayat al-Hidaya) written by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali.
Read more from this passage here.

Also ‘A Simple Trick To Help You Pray On Time’


5 Online Resources I Wish I Had Known As A New Mama || 5 Online Resources I Wish I Had Known As A New Mom || Pen & Ink Illustration by Zarina Teli || Mama & Baby Art

Most of my friends were already mothers by the time I became one. Either I met them as mothers or witnessed them becoming mothers during the course of our friendship.

By the time we were expecting our first baby, I had moved to the UK and almost all of those Mama friends were back in Canada. Busy with their own young families, I felt hesitant contacting them whenever I wanted to talk about something baby-related or was craving advice. This was before the age of whatsapp, so contact meant writing an email or an actual phone call – both of which take time that I felt my friends may not have had.

Thankfully, I had my own Mama to turn to – she patiently and with great care listened to all my anxieties and hypothetical scenarios but fell short of giving me any actual advice.

What would you do Mama?
I don’t know, our time was so different…

This type of answer really frustrated me… so I pressed the question until she finally responded in exasperation I really don’t know Aiysha. We just did the best we could. Why don’t you ask Google?

Cue my flatout disbelief that Mama was suggesting I use the internet to assuage my new mom anxieties! Surely that would lead to even more worry? I wanted to know, from her, what she did and how and why. I wanted all the wisdom she had received from her mother, to be the recipient of some ancient chain of secret maternal knowledge.

But, as it turned out, my Mama – who moved continents away from her own parents and had her own children so far away from family –  never had the opportunity to soak up any great lessons or tips on mothering. She and Abu had a baby, a copy of Dr. Spock and essentially learned on the go.

Eventually, after we had our first baby, my Mama came to stay with us and shared all her hard-earned expertise and invaluable tips with me in person, all the while still encouraging me to ask Google. With a world full of people and research out there, all available so quickly and easily, it seemed senseless, to her, that I would disregard such an incredible resource.

And so, I reluctantly turned to the internet with many of my questions and began to shift through all the noise in an attempt to find sites I could trust, experiences I could relate to and information which would inform (not mislead) me. I was a good “googler” before motherhood but the sheer volume of information and voices out there on babies and parenting and moms was sometimes overwhelming!

I was recently reminded of this when speaking with a dear friend expecting her first baby. I mentioned some sites in passing and realised she didn’t know what I was talking about. But why would she? Even though many of the sites on this list are extremely well known amongst modern mothers, there was a time I had no idea of their existence. Perhaps a friend suggested them to me or perhaps I stumbled upon them during a 3am panic – however it happened, these sites were invaluable to me as a new mother (and beyond).

For when you are considering breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed, your baby is crying, you are worried and your mother, mother-in-law, midwife and pediatrician all have strong opinions and conflicting advice:
Kellymom is the only site dedicated to feeding your baby in which all posts are strictly evidence-based. This means it helps cut through a lot of conflicting opinions by ensuring everything is backed up with published research, not just hearsay.  So whether it’s understanding how breasts make milk, wanting to know what to expect in the first few weeks or dealing with not having enough milk, sore breasts, cluster feeding or tongue-tie – check kellymom first.

For when nothing seems to be working, you and your baby seem to have lost your ‘groove’, you are all sleep deprived and find yourself thinking there must be a better way than this:
Ahaparenting is a an all-encompassing parenting site dedicated to providing advice and suggestions based on the principles of peaceful parenting. There are so many great topics here, from cherishing your baby to helping with that colic phase, which are addressed in a way which promotes a deep parent-child connection and provides plenty of alternatives to more conventional perspectives. This site also grows with you as it’s resources span from babyhood to teenagedom.

For when you may not be praying and feel a bit spiritually distant, with your soul yearning for some serenity and your heart craving a peace deep enough to encompass the new boundless love you have for your baby:
A large amount of time as a new mother is spent alone with your baby. Even if you are fortunate to be surrounded by family and community, you will spend a lot of time rocking and feeding and burping and soothing – just the two of you. It could be in a quiet upstairs room while everyone else chats away in the lounge or it could be in your kitchen in the middle of the night. Sometimes the accompanying silence is nice – comforting. But other times (maybe most times) you may want more – something to uplift and further illuminate all the hours you spend together.

Enter the Qur’an. This is the perfect time to remember that even listening to the Qur’an is an act of worship and a means of attaining Divine Mercy and requires nothing from your tired self except to just listen. This gorgeous, gentle and lyrical recitation by Sheikh Alzain Mohamed Ahmed of the Sudan will melt your heart and fill you with a profound tranquility, all without waking your little one. Turn it on, take a deep breath and be.

For when everything seems so absurd and you need a good laugh:
Parenting comics are one of those things that you either love or hate and most likely, you never even bothered to notice before. But now? Are they ever relatable! Every so often I will google “best parenting comics” and get a great roundup which someone has put together. Here is a good one that still makes me laugh.

For when you want to think of something other than being a mom, having a baby and remember that there is still a world out there you care deeply about:
After becoming a mother reading the news became even more difficult for me. I began to avoid the mainstream new sites, save for a glance at the daily headlines. Their insensitive use of images and endless detailing of global injustice, personal trauma, war and devastation, without context and no call to action, was overwhelming and left me feeling aghast at the state of the world in which we were trying to raise our children. I needed to stay hopeful and motivated in order to contribute to the betterment of our world, both through local community involvement and awareness of international concerns.

So I gravitated towards comment and activist sites – which provide alternate perspectives, smart commentary, analysis and opinion and harnessed people power to affect positive change. Clicking through and reading a post or two from any of these sites will give you food for thought, help you stay informed and keep you feeling like the articulate, thoughtful woman you are – even if your day at the moment seems to revolve around nothing more than diapers and naps.

And one last thing – there are a lot of strong and sometimes mean opinions on the internet and before you go read anything else read this: whether you are pregnant for the first time or the fourth, plan on breastfeeding or not, going back to work or not, feel happy, sad, scared, downright stressed or all of these in combination, know that without a doubt, you are doing an amazing job. Your baby loves you and you are enough.


Also ‘Choosing A Muslim Baby Name‘ and ‘How to Introduce a New Sibling to Your Muslim Child

Original Pen and Ink Illustration by Zarina Teli


‘Mum Why Are There No Female Prophets?’

On Role Models For Your Little Princess AND Your Little Prince



Name two Prophets who didn’t have a father?

Hmmm….prophet Adam?

Yes awesome!

“… aaaaandddd…. I forgot…his name …”

Prophet Adam had neither mother not father but this prophet had a mother. Do you remember now?

Er…..prophet Jesus? But I forgot his name in the Quran!”

We are sitting at the breakfast table on a Saturday morning, and in ‘pop quiz’ style I challenge my son and husband to answering these questions. Something in our conversation had triggered it, something about different families?  I can’t remember exactly what now, but I guess that is the point – I do my best to try and seamlessly incorporate the stories about the prophets into our everyday lives.

“Name a prophet who had two mothers?” I asked next, flipping a pancake at the same time. I liked this one, they would have to think harder.

The stories of the Prophets are important in our family. Ever since that first time when on a whim I started retelling the story of   Prophet Musa (Moses) , ‘a real superhero’ to my then 3 year old superhero obsessed boy, we not only became familiar with the basic stories of most Prophets, but my son also started loving them.  Like really loving them, asking again and again for a particular story, relishing its details. So naturally it started becoming easier to bring a ‘lesson’ from their lives into a conversation.

On asking him to ‘forgive’ his sister for breaking down lego he had spent a lot of time making – Remember how Prophet Yusuf  (Joseph)  forgave all his ‘Big Bad Brothers’ (a term he coined himself the first time I ‘retold the story’)  when they said how sorry they were, even though they had treated him so badly?

I don’t expect these ‘lessons’ to soak in perfectly. His rage regarding the dismantled lego did not just diminish with that one sentence, but I know these reminders are seeds planted which will, I pray,  start to grow and flower later on, to be remembered, maybe,at some other, more appropriate time.

I thought I had it ‘cracked’. Yes, I had found a way to make the Prophets ‘real’ for my kids, but there was one incident which made me think again. A fellow Muslim Mama posed a question that her son had asked her… A question quite profound given his young age, a question that I would be proud of, had my own son asked it to me ~

Mum why are there no female prophets?

I grew up as the eldest of four girls. No brothers.  I used to hear the whispers surrounding my mother, distressingly enough it was always other women who would lament at her ‘misfortune’:

‘Allah has given you everything’ they would say, Now He should have just given you a son’

Never mind the baseless bias toward a boy child –  they didn’t even realise they were questioning the Creator Himself. I thank God, that we had also the voice of our father surrounding us – a voice powerful enough to drown out those other voices. He taught us the hadiths (prophetic traditions) on the virtues of having daughters and so, when I grew up,  I fervently wanted to be the mother of a girl(s) myself.

When I didn’t yet know the gender of my second child, I would make dua for a daughter with a feeling in the pit of my stomach, trying not to desire her so much. When she was born I imagined telling her stories of the ‘Princesses of Jennah”, ( in my head I also debated the more alliterative ‘Princesses of Paradise’ )

I imagined idyllically in a few years time – mother daughter bonding over stories of her namesake, Hazrett Ai’sha, one of the most prolific women the world had ever seen.

What I failed to grasp then and only started to realise now after that thoughtful question from a young boy, is that it is not just our daughters who need to hear these stories – it is our sons too. And maybe more importantly so.

There seems to be this unwritten rule that boys won’t like stories/books with a female protagonist, but it’s perfectly normal and also expected for girls to read about and like books with male protagonists. I was making the same assumptions in my mind already, by ‘saving’ these stories of trailblazing women in Islam for a future conversation with my daughter when my son was already in front of me, at the age to fully understand and comprehend them.

Pondering on from that thought, I realised I NEEDED  my son to hear these stories even before my daughter heard them. I waited for an opportune moment … We had been reading a library book about Kings and Pharaohs of the past…

‘Do you know HOW prophet Musa became a superhero prophet?’ I asked.

Yes, I was about to bust out the superhero’s ‘back story’.  Just like in the movies. Except in this story the hero wasn’t our prophet – the “sheroes”  were three intelligent, persistent and brave women who were the reason for who prophet Musa was to become . His mother, his sister and the wife of the Pharaoh himself – his foster or adoptive mother – the  ‘Princess’ Asyia’ one of the true ‘Princesses of Jennah.

If you are interested, here is how I retold Hazret Musa’s ‘origin’ story (just skip the italics if not!)


Prophets Musa’s mother was very happy as she had just given birth to him – a beautiful baby boy … however her happiness soon turned to tears when the Evil Pharaoh sent his soldiers with orders to kill all the new born boys of the land. You see he had been told by a soothsayer that a boy from the Israelites would be the reason for his demise…

The heart of Musa’s mother sent out a prayer to Allah and Allah answered her, He told her to put the baby in a basket and let it float down stream like a little boat with a precious secret cargo.

Musa’s mother’s intuition made her ask her daughter  – Musa’s older sister to run along and follow the basket … keeping an eye out to see what happens.

The river led to the gardens of the palace where there was another sad lady – the wife of the Pharaoh herself – the Queen of Egypt and her heart was sad because she longed to have a baby in her arms  yet didn’t have one … but look there! What was that stuck among the bushes and reeds of the river? It was a Gift from God Himself – her hands reached out to grab the soft sweet body of a baby! She pleaded with her husband to allow her to bring up the boy – he will be like our son she said. ‘A comfort to our eyes’ The Pharaoh finally relented and as was the custom in those days the Queen set about to find a wet nurse for the baby –  

‘What is a wet nurse? You might ask … a wet nurse is one who can give ‘mama’s milk’ to a baby. Many babies are lucky enough to receive their own mama’s milk but in those days when a mama like the Queen couldn’t give her own milk to a baby she would pay another woman to do it. And guess what? Musa’s clever sister sought audience with the Kind Queen and told her she knew of the perfect woman for the job! Yes in this way through the plan of Allah the baby Musa was able to be breastfed by his own mother and all three women were in peace and loved the little boy with all their hearts. In this way prophet Musa had two mothers.

(Of course one of the most compelling parts of this story is the later episode of Aasiya’s torture by her husband and the ultimate bravery and strength of faith that she showed … The kind of spiritual and physical strength that is almost not of this world! This is something I do not shy away from describing to my child and any child, boy or girl, who hears of it would be filled with awe and wonder)


There is so much we know about Musa (as) no wonder his is one of the most often mentioned names in the Quran. From his birth through to his relationships as an adult. Even down to the detail of a speech impediment he had, which gave rise to the beautiful dua many of us use before commencing any endeavour for eloquent communication.

It’s vital to show our children – these real, true examples of women who were just as important and influential as the men we hear about. As for that question – ‘why are there no female prophets?’  *Although we can not be sure whether female prophets existed or not (and there are some who believe women were given prophethood)* , I hope that by starting this kind of discussion with not only our girls but especially our boys they would both come to know that one doesn’t have to be a prophet to have Allah communicate directly with them and that Allah chose many women to change the course of history with their faith and action.

The story of Hajjar, and therein the whole premise of Hajj, is centered on a mother’s  quest to breastfeed and nourish her child.  Mariam, the mother of our beloved Prophet Jesus, was sent the most special of messengers – the Angel Gabriel with a direct message from Allah. Hazret Aasiya herself, when tortured for her faith, asked for and was shown, by Allah, her palace near Him in Paradise.

I have started to put a real emphasis on these stories with my son. Now he is six years old and through them we have had conversations about breastfeeding and bravery, about adoption and orphans and single parents and recently even about labour, when I described to him how the most ‘honorable woman’ mentioned in the Quran, Mariam (ra)  felt the pains of labour on giving birth to prophet Isa (Jesus). We talk about the amazing scholar, poet, woman of science and medicine that his little sister was named after: A’isha (ra). I want these names to be a part of his understanding as much as the names of the Prophets already are. And I pray that the stories of these ‘Princesses of Paradise’ are not only kept bound for our daughters to read but that our sons may also learn from them and emulate the characters of these Mighty Women.



*Edited to add*



Also ‘Celebrating the Feminine Attributes of God’


Rainy Day “Ice Cream” Cones

Cupcakes Baked in Ice Cream Cones

Who doesn’t love ice cream? Logic tells me that there must be someone out there who doesn’t,  but I have yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t love its frozen deliciousness in one form or another. Whether in cone, cup, sundae, sandwich or milkshake, there is nothing like ice cream.

When we first became parents, we decided to adhere to a strict no-sugar policy for our eldest. The more experienced parents around us hemmed and hawed and rolled their eyes as we attempted to source a no-sugar, no-nasties cake for her first birthday and held back the chocolate. Even baby biscuits were not acceptable. And as for ice cream? Forget about it. No way was she going to have that sugar rush!

That being said, our baby ice cream hack, first introduced to us by a super healthy friend, turned out to be a real all-ages winner. We would buy a tub of silky greek yoghurt and a package of frozen raspberries and when the desire for ice cream struck, we would take a handful of the berries, smother them in yoghurt, drizzle them in honey and wait a few minutes for all to melt slightly – then mash it together with a fork and voila! Baby friendly, whole food, refined sugar free “ice cream”. This is so tasty we still have it… sometimes.

Eventually, I’m not sure when exactly, we eased up on our sugar-free ways and introduced our children to real ice cream, which, of course, quickly became a favourite “most best” food.  In fact, in the moderate heat of our British summer, it was a daily (mostly declined) request. But alas, neither ice cream nor summer last forever and as the days get darker and wetter, icy cold ice creams no longer seem a good idea. However, this in no way deters our children from asking for them all the time.

Enter this totally retro and enjoyable kids cookbook: || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Gifted to my eldest by her bibliophile Nani, this book has been a hit for it’s easy to follow illustrated recipes and minimal reliance on adult supervision. It isn’t as particularly conscious of fats and sugars as maybe a kids cookbook ought to be – perhaps because it’s from the eighties? –  but for an occasional treat, it has some great ideas.

One lazy day, my daughter came to me asking to make ice cream and  I tried to explain that we didn’t have all the equipment (or time!) needed to make ice cream right then. But she insisted that she knew how and came back with this book, opened to a recipe for cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.  Ice cream, without the ice and the cream, perfect for colder days, school fetes, kids parties, half-term holidays or just because – this was genius! || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook

We got to work and, by we I mean mostly she, made these beauties: || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Ice Cream Cones || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


This recipe is super easy – we made a few small adjustments with the amount of sugar and substituting with some wholegrain flour. My six year old and three year old needed minimal supervision (mostly with the stove and oven) and if your children are older, you likely won’t have to do anything at all except enjoy them!

Rainy Day Ice Cream Cones
(Adapted from KidsCooking. Klutz Press, 1987)

Makes between 10 – 12 filled cones

For The Conecakes

10 Ice Cream Cones with flat bottoms
½ Cup All-Purpose Flour

½ Cup Wholegrain Flour
We used wholegrain spelt, but you could use wholemeal pastry, rye or even just another half-cup of all purpose – whatever you have on hand
1 Cup Sugar
Any kind – we used unrefined caster sugar
½ tsp Baking Soda
¼ tsp Salt
½ Butter
½ Cup Water
3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Eggs
¼ Cup Buttermilk
1 tsp Vanilla

For The Frosting

⅓ Cup Cream Cheese softened at room temperature
½ Cup Powdered Sugar also known as icing sugar
½ tsp Vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350°F/170°C

Place the ice cream cones into a muffin tin or stand them in a big baking pan. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


In a medium sized saucepan on medium heat, mix together butter, water and cocoa powder. Stir continuously until melted. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Once the butter is completely melted, remove the pan from the heat and add it directly to the flour mixture in the large bowl. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Using a big wooden spoon, mix everything until it is well blended and all one colour. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla to the bowl and mix again for another minute or two. Don’t worry if there are still some streaks of buttermilk in the mixture as it is better to undermix than overmix. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Pour into the ice cream cones. Fill to about an inch from the top and put in the oven to bake immediately so the cones don’t get soggy. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, or when you gently press the tops they spring back. Once you remove them from the oven, lift them out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool as this also helps to keep the cones crisp. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


While the cakes are cooling, make up the frosting (this part is so simple).

In a smallish mixing bowl, mash and mix together the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add the vanilla, a little at a time, until everything is smooth and mixed together evenly. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


That’s it. Your frosting is done! Time to ice the cakes. Make sure your cakes are completely cool before icing them otherwise the frosting will melt and everything will be a big mess – I may or may not be speaking from experience here.

If you want them to look fabulous and pinterest worthy, then ice them yourself, but most likely, if you are making this with your kids, they will want to do it on their own and I would say to just let them. This is really the most enjoyable part – the one where you get to make your ice cream cones look like “ice cream” – no fancy utensils required, as you can see, we used fish knives! || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


Once iced, feel free to embellish as you wish. We chose flower shaped sprinkles for extra appeal. || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook


And there you have them: cute and easy rainy day ice cream cones perfect to make and share and which, I should mention, are best eaten on the day they are made – not that they’re likely to last beyond then anyways! || Rainy Day Ice Cream Cupcakes || Cooking with Kids || Kids Recipes || Klutz Cookbook



Bonus: For another way to “make” ice cream that isn’t really ice cream, check out this cute craft.


Fun Times & A Surprising Delivery Hack


Recently I was out with my girlfriends. That sounds so North American doesn’t it? And like this is some kind of regular outing I do every weekend. Unfortunately the ‘regular’ part is not accurate but I am blessed to have found a bunch of like minded mamas with whom, once in awhile I really can – kick back and relax.

Within a few weeks of moving to a new city, a fellow Muslim mama had introduced me to a weekly mom’s halaqa group and even before I had attended any halaqa at all, invited me to their Eid party

‘So you can meet everyone’ She said.

That Eid party is one my kids still remember. One of the moms made up this goofy but cute song which, no joke, my kids LOVE to this day and still sing on Eid.

But this isn’t about my kids or Eid.  I was talking about an evening out. No kids. No husbands. Just us mamas and all the hilarity that comes with that, plus, this one cool (and to me kind of funny too) ‘hack’ I learnt that day, which I just had to share with you guys.

So we chose a cosy place for dinner (and stayed till they closed) then went to the nearest dessert place – not only to share some monstrous chocolatey dessert but to sit and chat a little more. As all women know, this is when the conversation got ‘deep’. One friend told the most side splitting story of a ‘glamping’  trip (glamorous camping)  her sister had ‘forced’ her to go on. It turned out the G in ‘glamping’ was really a silent g and that the L was pronounced like ‘c’! 

In the midst of laughter one of our friends remembered her husband would be waiting to eat the food he had ordered for takeout from the restaurant we had just left. The plan being that she would take it to him when she got home, however it was getting late yet at the same time she didn’t want to leave the party !   Without missing a beat she whipped out her phone ordered an über, gave the bewildered über driver her address and the takeout bag of food – and slid straight back into the conversation.

I was in awe! Did you just über the food to your husband?!

What a genius idea! I loved it! Okay so even though there’s no way I would be able to über food on the regular, what a great option for those times when needed in a pinch?

It’s like when you realise you can avoid making a trip to IKEA just to buy a couple of small things (and that ridiculous delivery fee)  by ordering Ikea  items on Amazon. Wait ? You hadn’t heard about that one either? Its a total game changer when all you need is a lamp or a clock  but you don’t want to go through the maze that is Ikea to get them!

It’s “Indigenous People Day” (aka – Columbus Day) here in the States, so I am off to enjoy the last part of this long weekend. Hope you all are having a fabulous Monday where ever you are!



Ps. After writing this I got to know, apparently there is another app specifically for this purpose called ‘favor’. Plus another genius time (and money saving)  (cooking) app



My Mama Before Me


I used to be a Daddy’s girl. Eldest child.  Sure of myself and my place in the world. ‘Aunty ki bachi’ my sisters would mockingly call me alluding to my people pleasing nature. I always thought my dad was right. He was the tallest, the strongest, the ‘rightest’.  The one with the best stories and biggest hugs. I rarely sided with my mum. Papa was like a ‘friend’ to me, Mama was my ‘Mother’ through and through.

But after I married and moved to a different country, I suddenly saw my mother in a different light, a way I had not given much thought to. There was this palpable shift. Suddenly our phone conversations were longer, we were laughing on things that had never before been common ground. I found myself realising that yes, my dad had sometimes been wrong!

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised that this change in perspective happened after I got married, but I was. How was it than in 25 years I had only seen my mum as ‘Mama’. Only appreciated her as my Mother, never seen her as the woman she was before I came along.

Within a week of our wedding day, my husband and I moved to the States. He had been there for a year already, but for me it was my first time travelling across the Atlantic ocean.  Only now,  having to set up life in a new country,  did I pause to think of another young woman who married at a younger age than I did and moved to four separate countries within the first eight years of her marriage.

So, yes, just like Mama,  I too was to move with my husband to a country I had never set foot in.

The first year of marriage is a steep enough learning curve without the added learning that is required when one moves from the place they grew up.

How Mama navigated language, culture, pregnancies and travel without any help from relatives is not easy for me to imagine. 30 years ago very few people in Kashmir had telephone connections and just making a call to her mother was a huge ordeal.

I have memories of her writing letters back home. She couldn’t just send my ‘Nana’ a cute photo of her girls or ask advice about a recipe as I was so easily able to.  And in doing all these things,  I was only  just starting to gain a glimpse into the tip of it all. I mean,  I had no relatives here, but you know, I had The Internet. Compared to her situation, and thanks to skype, I could have my mama right in front of me.

Initially I remember being  pretty blase about moving. I never imagined to equate it with my mum’s experiences – Friends would say – ‘Wow’ New York! Some would say ‘How will you adjust?’

Secretly I thought ‘What’s the big deal? Surely it wouldn’t be that different from the UK. I mean, they all speak English right? It’s not like I was going to live in a country where I needed to learn a new language? Right?

How wrong was I ?!  Suddenly I was the person in the room with an ‘accent’. There were many phone conversations with service people, banks, doctors ect where the person on the other end couldn’t understand a word I was saying! ‘Are you British?’ they would ask, followed by “OMG I love your aaaa’ccent”.

Still,  I had never experienced this strange phenomena before. I was now a ‘foreigner’.  Is this how mama must have felt? 

Although her accented English unfortunately mustn’t have been met with exclamations of ‘I love your accent!’ I felt a sudden wish to hug that strong woman, who despite the challenges of a first generation immigrant went out everyday and showed her young daughters how to face the world.  I might not have needed to learn a new language but the learning of many new things was just beginning.

Once all of us were in school she enrolled in ESL classes and  learnt to drive. Much like people do after they have had their first child and realise what their parents must have gone through, no child in sight for me yet but in sudden appreciation of her experiences –  I called her and said

‘How did you do it?’

How did I never as a child look at you and see the struggle? All I saw was Mama. Mama always there for us, Mama walking us to the local library, then bags heaving with books walking back home with three of us in tow, 8, 5, and 3 years old. Mama welcoming all manner of guests into our home, cooking up the best Kashmiri delicacies. Back then did I ever pause to think how did she learn to cook? Of course not. She was Mama, she must have been born with the talent. Years later while  struggling with you tube videos and calls made frantically to establish how to make certain Kashmiri dishes, I would remember her and only then wonder who must have taught her. 

More importantly I called Papa and told him “You can never imagine how she did it all, but I am beginning to.”

Mama who was the only lady I ever saw around me that wore hijab. We lived in a town near  Newcastle,a Northern city of the UK. Women of my mother’s generation simply didn’t don the hijab, it was certainly not a fashion statement nor was it a common sight on the streets of England as it is now.  In fact I remember my dad and not only him but  other women, ‘aunties’, encouraging her to remove it. Nobody wears it here – you don’t have to. Years later one of those aunties,after herself taking up the hijab, apologised to my mother. “Your mama is a strong lady” she had told me then.

I never thought I would only realise the extent of this statement till much life intervened. There are so many experiences that bind us as women other than ‘motherhood’. Maybe you always saw through to the girl and woman your mother was before you came into her life, but I guess it just took me a while.



How We Celebrated The New Hijri Year

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Banner

This weekend we decided to gather with some friends and welcome the new Hijri year together with our families. A large part of our intention was to celebrate the joy of this with our children and so our afternoon party was a fun and relaxed affair. We made some straightforward decorations to put up, contributed uncomplicated food and, for entertainment (as if food and friends weren’t enough), we wrote a simple version of the Hijra story to “show” and tell the children with the aid of some basic props.

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Food

Focusing on the story of the Hijra itself is a wonderful way to connect the significance of the new year with its actual history, so if you haven’t already, do try to share it with your children sometime this week. It not only marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar years but ultimately, as a journey full of hope and miracles, is both compelling and inspiring. The children at our gathering, ranging in ages from 3 to 8,  sat truly captivated.

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Storytelling

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Storytelling

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Storytelling

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Storytelling || Waldorf Dolls

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Storytelling || Props

And in case you need a quick go-to version, here is the one I wrote. Feel free to adapt or add to it as you feel best suits your family.

Did you manage to do something for our new year? Would love to know what you did and how you made it special!

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Celebrating The New Hijri Year || Muslim Festivals || Storytelling


Why The Lunar Calendar Matters

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Why The Lunar Calendar Matters || Islamic Calendar

According to where you live, either yesterday or today heralded the first of Muharram and with it, the beginning of the new Islamic year!

I don’t know about you, but I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, that for much of my life, I would only begin paying attention to the lunar calendar once it started to approach Ramadan. It’s not that my parents wouldn’t remind me of important Islamic months or dates (they did), or even that, pre-internet, it was difficult to figure the months out (it kind of was) – only that other than Ramadan, it didn’t seem that… relevant to my everyday life.

As a student, the year revolved around academic dates and exam timetables. Then as a creative professional, it was about managing the rush of autumn deadlines, spring campaigns and trying to book time off in between. Where did Safar or Rajab fit in? Most times, nowhere, and so the months passed largely unnoticed.

That is until, some time ago, I became part of a community which, in a very familiar and casual way, seemed always to be aware of where we were in the Islamic calendar. At first I thought this was a nice gesture – a thing that maybe “more” religious people did. And as the months, and then years, moved on, this awareness seeped its way into me. I too began to follow the moon, anticipate the months and could reliably say a little bit about why each was important. But still, deep inside, I wanted to know why this calendar mattered more than any other.

Like almost everything else in life, my answer was found in the Qur’an:

“ God decrees that there are twelve months – ordained in God’s Book on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth – four months of which are sacred: this is the correct calculation.” (Qur’an 9:36)

As simple as it seems, this is it:  The lunar calendar, it’s months and timeless rhythm, were fixed by Allah at the very creation of the universe. It is a sacred marker of time. And to follow it precisely is to honour it as the ultimate way to mark the passing of our years. It is the calendar of our soul – the one which connects us to our Creator but also to the rest of creation.

Being conscientious of the lunar calendar is to be conscientious of the physical and metaphysical world around us. At the very least, it means regularly raising our eyes up into the night sky and understanding that we have to look for the sign set by Allah before our month can begin or  end.  And at it’s best, it allows us to fully participate and benefit from the immeasurable blessings and gifts placed within these Divinely established dates and by them, to be uplifted and illuminated.

So, as the crescent of Muharram hangs in the sky and we welcome this year anew, we ask that it be one of immense blessings and goodness for you and your families. May you grow in peace, shelter in mercy and shine with faith. Ameen.



For more on the sacred month of Muharram,  here is a great summary of it’s importance and  virtues – may it be a good one.


One Simple Way To Teach Your Toddler Reliance On Allah



There was this one book I had been trying to read for the longest time, I was a first time mum and my son was just over his first birthday. After what seemed like years I held a book in my hand that wasn’t meant for him but for me!  It was the bestselling ‘Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. I’ll tell you now my ambitions, considering my motherhood situation at the time,  were a little too high.

The library sent many reminders and I had already renewed it the maximum number of times, so on our next library trip I reluctantly returned it (having never reached the end!). However, not before I had read this one tip in the book that I thought was genius and would stay with me forever in its truth and simplicity.

The writer described what she called one of the ‘Facts of Life’ as ~

‘When you lose something – tidy up, you will most likely find it’

Bam. That was it. It’s one of things that you know is true but you just never, as my son would say, ‘thinked’ it for yourself.

So even before I had heard of that ‘Clean Up’ song every preschooler and their grown up, ever, learns,  I had the best reply for my toddler whenever he came to me asking me to find something for him –

“If we lose something we have to tidy up and then we will find it! Lets tidy up!”

Whenever I had lost something as a child, I would relegate the task of finding it to my little sister. In every family there is always one ‘finder’, and she was ours. Later Mama told me of the simple dua’ (prayer) to recite for this very purpose.  (It is one most of us are familiar with saying at the time of learning about a person’s passing but did you know it is also a Du’a for finding things?)

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un

إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

“Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” 

Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 156

There are others, but this is the shortest and simplest, so simple in fact that even a child just learning to talk could repeat it. And he did.

I have talked before, about how I tried to instil, in the kids,  this idea that we should always ask Allah FIRST and turn to Him first for anything at all. But, truthfully, it was this, this moment on reading Gretchen Rubin’s tip, which was my light-bulb moment in realising  how to capitalise on the idea, and really show my child, not only the power of PRAYER but the power of ACTION with prayer.  

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un

While we tidied up we would repeat this rhythmic line. Sing it, in fact. Even as a 15month old he would smile at the beautiful sound of it and soon he was trying to imitate the sounds “inalilahii…lihai… lihai…lihai …(the lihai could go on for a while) until a triumphant –  “RAJIOOOON”

In my heart I would make that extra dua’ that ‘Oh Allah keep his faith intact’

And … It worked. Every, single, time. (As a bonus we started fostering the habit of ‘tidying up’ too!) Allah is “Al-Wajid”The Perceiver, The Finder, The Unfailing”, who never failed a diaper wearing toddler in finding that small thing. As my son grew older, he found it natural to turn to his Creator. Once whilst driving  and worrying out loud ‘hoping’ to find a parking space on reaching our destination, I heard a voice pipe up from behind me ‘mama let’s ask Allah to help us find a parking space’.

This is a real thing that your child can understand. In fact the younger the child the more readily they will feel this truth. And don’t worry about what your child will think if his ‘dua’ isn’t answered immediately. If love of Allah and a reliability on God has been fostered from a young age – as your child gets older they will start to understand about patience and timing.  As Aiysha mentioned recently  that despite her refusal to  allow her kids to have a pet kitten,  her 6 year old daughter has ‘firm belief’ that her dua for a kitten will be answered one day.


And who knows, you might even get a tidy room out of it!