Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri from The Hakims & First Syawal as Husband and Wife.

1syawal

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my Muslim brothers and sisters! 🙂

(You can also say “Eid Mubarak” which means “Have a blessed Eid to all of you.”)

This year is the first time I am spending Hari Raya with my husband, so it is kind of a big deal. Ok, not kind of. A really really big deal. Hehe. So this year we decided to go green! Why green? Well there is a story behind this actually.

My sister-in-law bought this lace green fabric for my mother-in-law to wear for our wedding. My MIL then made a mini kurung out of it so she only used half of the fabric and had a balance of 2 metres. So not wanting to waste it, she gave it to me some time before Ramadhan. Since I had not bought any fabric or outfit for Raya, I thought, why not make this part of my outfit and go green this Raya. So I asked my husband and family to also wear green for the first day of Raya, because that’s what I tend to do as the eldest. Be the boss of my family. Haha. Actually there’s another reason why I thought of wearing green, because the last time we wore green together was a long time ago… I mean look at this:

An oldie but a goodie photo of us in 1996, I think. My mum sewed for me and my sister our baju kurung that time. This year, I sewed for them their baju raya. #fullcircle

The last time we wore green was when we still had my father with us, and my sister was still that small! So how long ago was that lah kan. Now forward to 2014, a group photo of us this Syawal with my grandma:

the mahmoods
Selamat Hari Raya from The Mahmoods.

We took this photo at night because I only managed to go to my grandma’s house in the evening because… I spent the first half with my husband’s family, my in-laws:

in-laws raya
With hubby’s parents, brothers, sister-in-law, cousin and grandma.

Previously when I was still single ehem ehem, I would go to my grandma’s house with my family somewhere in the afternoon after visiting elders from my mum’s side with my cousins. But of course, there are some changes this year. Because not only do I have my own dad and mum’s side to visit, I also have my husband’s dad and mum’s side to incorporate into the raya visiting schedules. MashaAllah! The challenge is to balance all four sides as fairly as possible.

masjid alkaff view
Colorful view of people walking to the mosque on the morning of 1st Syawal.

The day started with solat hari raya or Eid prayers at the mosque with my husband and my mum. After that, I got ready to siap-siap to go to the first house of the day, my husband’s grandma’s house. Hubby’s brother and my SIL usually spent the first day of Syawal visiting hubby’s grandma and then proceed to SIL’s side, so we decided to tag along before they left for visiting SIL’s side.

Left: Hubby’s grandma, Nenek Nima. Right: My grandma, Nenek Rahmah,

What is raya without visiting our grandparents and elderly family members right? Hubby is left with grandparents from his mum’s side and for me is my dearest one and only grandma from my dad’s side. Let’s treasure our grandparents while we still can… May Allah bless their years with tranquility, mercy and love… InsyaAllah.

Next up were to two houses – my father-in-law’s eldest siblings (hubby’s grandparents from his dad’s side have passed on). And finally, to my grandma’s house in the evening until night time when I finally got to meet up with my grandma, aunties, uncles and cousins.

my family
Ohana.

The night before, the night of 1st Syawal was the first time I did not spend (the first half of) malam raya at my own house. Hubby’s family has a gathering every malam raya for kenduri, takbir together and bermaaf-maafan because his father’s side is large and this was one of the times that they get to meet altogether. So off I go to follow the husband. Luckily for me I had my SIL to tag along with amongst my many new family members hehe Alhamdulillah.

It’s been an interesting experience to go visiting with a husband as compared to being single. The past week of raya roundings have been filled with introductions of the hubby to my relatives, neneks and datuks as they have seen him during the wedding, but not on a close-up level. “Nek/Tok Xxx, ini suami saya…” Hehe paisey dan malu semua tolak tepi lah. Coz you can’t just go into the house and leave your other half to introduce himself/herself to your relative, it’s you who must do the job. And my neneks and toks are the sweetest la MashaAllah. They even gave us presents and special duit raya for pengantin baru! Fuhlaamak, touching beb. Alhamdulillah… 🙂

Speaking of touching moments, I want to record down this moment when one of my closest uncles gave me and my siblings duit raya. We were all like, “dah keje, dah kahwin da etc…” and he said,

“Even if I’m 60 and you’re 40, I will still give you duit raya coz you guys will always be my nieces and nephews…”

*inserts tears rolling down emoticon from whatsapp*

SubhanAllah, may Allah bless my uncle with more rezki InsyaAllah.

So that was my first Syawal experience and as a wife so far. We have 3 more weeks to go, and I’m sure it’s gonna be more interesting and colourful as we go along, InsyaAllah. Have a blessed Eid everyone! 😀

Outfit details: Mini kurung top sewn by me. Skirt is part of another baju kurung I already have which I decided to match with this mini kurung (had no time to make the skirt because I was sewing 3 other outfits for my family and closest friend). Satin pashmina shawl from Ameemoo – totally loving the mint green colour. Shoes from Vincci Malaysia bought a couple of years ago.

Ramadhan is Here and Why I love This Merciful Month

Ramadhan Mubarak! 🙂

ramadan-mubarak-3

Alhamdulillah we have finally reached the blessed month of Ramadhan this time which starts on 28th June in Singapore.

I’m always excited for Ramadhan because this is the month of the Quran! What do I mean by that? Well, Muslims believe that the Holy Book of Al-Quran was sent down from God onto Earth on the night of Lailatul Qadr, which falls in Ramadhan. In addition to that, the first verse that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him), verses 1-5 in Surah Al-‘Alaq, was also revealed in the month of Ramadhan.

So this is why in Ramadhan, we are encouraged to spend more time with the Quran, be it in recitation, contemplation, listening, memorizing and most importantly increasing our understanding of the content of Al-Quran, which can be said as God’s love letters to us His humble servants. 🙂

On top of that, Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk, having our morning meal before dawn and breaking our fast when dusk arrives. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and every Muslim of age and health are required to fast in Ramadhan. The purpose of fasting is to clean our bodies, purify our hearts and soul. With an empty stomach, sometimes the body and mind performs better compared to a full stomach. But God does not mean for us to “starve” ourselves, that’s why we are encouraged to do our morning meals, or “suhoor”. Fasting also reminds us of humanity around the world who do not get to eat as much as we do on a daily basis.

Ramadhan is also an opportunity to do more good deeds. The solat taraweeh, an additional sunnah prayer that is only done in Ramadhan is an activity after iftar that I look forward to every year. Done in as little as 8 and usually as much as 20 sets of 2 rakaats each, accompanied by 3 rakaats of witr prayer to conclude the taraweeh prayers. This sunnah prayer can be done individually or as a jemaah. For motivation, usually I like to do it in a mosque especially since I live within walking distance of Masjid Alkaff Kampung Melayu.

The magical thing about Ramadhan is that every year, despite the similar activities and good deeds we are encouraged to do, every Ramadhan is actually very different from another. Of course for me one of the main differences is that I’m spending my first Ramadhan as a wife, and so too for my husband. InsyaAllah I will write another post about this. For now, I am enjoying all the goodness, the rahmah (mercy) that Allah is presenting this month SubhanAllah.

Let me share an incident I encountered this week on the beginning nights of Ramadhan that so embodies this to a T.

Just last Monday as I was doing my Taraweeh in Masjid Alkaff, there sat next to me were 2 sisters – one about 11 years and the other about 5 years old. Such adorable ages! But the thing is I did not notice them until after we were done with the 8th rakaat and the “Ya Tawwab” zikr has finished. When the Imam got up to continue doing the 9th rakaat, I heard the 5 yo girl said to her sister (in a very audible voice nonetheless), “Diorang solat lagi???” (They’re praying again???) Apparently she had thought it was over because some mosques end their Taraweeh at 8 rakaat, but for Masjid Alkaff the 8 rakaat set is only done on Saturday nights.

The big sis then turned and asked me about it, with a confused look on her face. So I explained to them the above, in which she then asked me. “Mbak ikut?” (So will you be continuing to 20 rakaats then? Also, that’s when I knew they were Indonesian; In Singapore Malay language we would refer to a sister stranger as “kakak” but in Indonesian she is referred to as “mbak”) In which I nodded and smiled, and I saw that they then decided to stay and pray until the end of 23 rakaats.

Oh MashaAllah.. Suddenly, I had the strength to continue until 23 rakaats! Even though I had decided to stay, just a couple of minutes ago I was already counting down to 20 hahaha but seeing them decide to leave or to stay, and deciding to stay because there was an older sister beside them (me) who was going to continue on… made me feel so touched and even more motivated. We gather strength from each other…  

At the end of the 12th rakaat, big sis asked me, “Masih kurang berapa?” (How many do we have left?” In which I answered that we had 8 more rakaat to go followed by 3 rakaats of witr prayer. At the end of the 18th rakaat with only 2 left to go, I thought I’d encouraged them, “Lagi 2 sahaja!” (Only 2 more left sisters! We can do it!). And then as we had finished 2 rakaats of witr with only 1 rakaat left, I saw the younger sister gesture to her big sis and holding 1 finger up as if to say “Only 1 more left right kak?” Awwww I swear that moment was just the cutest moment ever. Their semangat despite their struggle was really touching for me. So we finished it together, me and my 2 younger sisters in Islam. It was such a beautiful moment for me. Alhamdulillah.

Afterwards, they waited for me to pack up my telekong (praying garments) and we headed to the exit together. Alhamdulillah for these moments. Alhamdulillah that I was able to motivate them to complete the full 23 rakaats, but in fact in motivating them, they were actually the ones motivating me to finish, even if they might not have realized it. MashaAllah, truly Allah is the Subtle and the Knowing. 🙂

Have a blessed Ramadhan this year to my brothers and sisters in Islam 🙂

7 Ways to Say I Love You to Your Spouse

There are 1001 ways to say I love you to your spouse or any of your beloved ones, and from fairy tales to marriage talks, these seven I love yous are the most simple and sweet and in my mind recently.

Point 6 and 7 is specially focused on Muslim married couples, which I learned from talks on Muslim marriages. They are excellent expressions of love to your Muslim husbands and wives, as they remind you to love for Allah, the Creator of Love… 🙂

So here are the 7 I Love Yous…

1. I love you

The original.

(Why is it that it is kind of weird to say this in Malay eh? “Aku Cinta Padamu…” Hubs and me tried and it sounded so funny and weird coming from our mouths. Like, so jiwang kan the line.)

2. I love you too

Your usual reply.

3. I love you soooo much

When you’re feeling more loved and just feeling more expressive XD

4. I love you more

I just watched Tangled recently and what is it about animated characters that make it just so irritatingly cute when they go all “I love you..” and then, “No, I love you more…” but you can watch and not feel so annoyed compared to movies with real people in it? Lol.

5. I love you most

Again, from Tangled. Haha. This will never end.

6. I love you for the sake of Allah

What I learned from Ustazah Norhafizah Musa at the Konvensyen Muslimah Kontemporari 2, last month. I love this because it reminds me that love comes from Allah first and He can also take it away anytime.

7. I love you for the pleasure of Allah and also for my own pleasure

What I learned from Mufti Menk’s lecture on marriage at Muhajirin Mosque few weeks ago.  This, I find is the best way to say I love you to your spouse because it reminds you to love your spouse for Allah and it is also realistic in saying that hey, in striving to be better persons, we’re just human afterall and we derive pleasure from loving our spouses, InsyaAllah. 😉

Strawberry Cheesecake for Love

strawberry cheesecake

Last week I attempted to make a cheesecake for my husband’s birthday. H is a cheese-lover all around so I wanted to impress him with a cheesecake made by yours truly the wife.

(Also wanted to gain extra points for pahala by following the Prophet’s s.a.w sunnah of serving the husband teehee).

This is my first time making a baked cheesecake. Previously I did a no-bake mango cheesecake which ended up tasting like an ice-cream cake – which was pretty yummy actually. I followed the recipe from here.

(The recipe was for blueberry cheesecake which I initially wanted to make but because I only bought the stuff the night before his birthday, shopping at my neighbourhood markets, it so happens that the blueberries were out of stock so I changed it up to strawberries instead).

I had fun making it, and even added some chopped-up strawberries into it. My sister was keen to help and she helped me cracked the eggs, mashed the strawberries and mix the digestive biscuits with the butter for the bottom of the cheesecake.

The funny thing is that it didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it to be, read on to find out why.

One of the ingredients in the recipe was for sour cream, which is hard to get here, and wasn’t available at the shops nearby my house. So I googled and came across a page which said that you can use yoghurt as a replacement but due to its thinner consistency they suggested to add a little bit of baking powder. Which I (foolishly) did. Into my cheesecake batter.

Which turned out to be a big mistake.

(Who puts baking powder into a cheesecake recipe?? Me.)

My oven is the see-through kind so I watched, horrified, as the cake rose and rose and ballooned. Luckily it didn’t explode.

At the same time thinking of justifying and convincing myself that the cake was going to turn out “alright”. While all the while thinking of how silly I was.

After 1 hour as the recipe calls for, I switched off the oven and let the cake cool down. Fortunately, it did and the balloon cake deflated to a flat level. However, that’s why it has the light brown layer on top instead of a smooth cream-ish white cheesecake color it’s supposed to have.

As the rest of the cheesecake actually turned out okay, I decided that, despite the minor blunder, this cake was a success Alhamdulillah. So I made a strawberry jam and spread it all over the top of the cheesecake, also meant to be a “cover-up” for the surface of the cake. Then I sliced some strawberries and decorated it on top of the cheesecake.

What’s important is my husband the birthday boy loves it. 😀

And the cake was eaten up within a day in my family household. Yey *pats back*

I still want to make that blueberry cheesecake though. InsyaAllah. Hehe.