to senegal


radianceGirl, my firstborn, is on the other side of the atlantic.
she has run on the shores of what could possibly her ancestral homeland.
she has sucked on salt from lac rose.
she has seen africans in their cosmopolitan glory.
she has looked through the door of no return.

she has been given the gift and challenge
of memorizing the Quran
in a blessed spiritual home of the tijani sufi order.

we miss her..her presence, singing, energy,
and the way she danced around the kitchen
as she added an aromatic slew of spices
to whatever she cooked
with elegant flicks of her wrist.

but this is the time for her to do hard things,
and rise to this challenge
which we pray will be her life’s foundation
from which we expect her to
begin to understand her strengths and weaknesses,
and start to use her talents in the service of Allah and humanity.

30 Acts of Ramadan Kindness For Kids


inspired by Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam’s “30 Days of Kindness – A Ramadan Family Project”
i’d like to share acts of kindness for children to do during ramadan
(or anytime).

do them in order,
or pick and choose.

once you get started it gets addictive.
this is the best kind of competition to get into during ramadan.

download a ramadan kindness calendar or use these suggestions to make your own:

  • leave a kind note on someone’s car
  • do something nice for your neighbor
  • make a treat and give them to friends or a local police or fire station
  • offer to watch a friend’s child or pet
  • take a minute to tell someone’s boss that they are doing a good job
  • volunteer
  • write a letter to someone important to you and thank them
  • thank a soldier, police officer or firefighter
  • make dinner for a friend
  • donate an item to someone in need
  • donate to your favorite charity
  • put change in a vending machine
  • hold the door open for someone
  • do a chore for someone without them knowing
  • return someone’s cart at the store
  • leave a kind note in a library book
  • clean up after iftar
  • feed the birds
  • leave happy notes around town
  • call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood
  • pick up litter at park or playground
  • let someone ahead of you in line
  • compliment a friend
  • clean up after suhoor
  • compliment a stranger
  • wash someone’s car
  • clean out the inside of someone’s car
  • write a thank you note for your mail carrier
  • plant something
  • cook something for a neighbor
  • check in on an elderly neighbor
  • prepare dates & milk for others to break their fast
  • bury treasure at the playground
  • clear the table after dinner
  • leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep
  • tell someone why they are special to you
  • donate gently used clothing or shoes to charity
  • pass out stickers to kids waiting in line
  • write chalk messages on the sidewalk
  • put down the prayer rugs without being asked
  • donate food to a food pantry
  • tape change to a parking meter
  • donate supplies to a homeless shelter
  • take treats to a fire station
  • tell someone how much you appreciate them
  • say hello to everyone you see
  • make someone else’s bed
  • say thank you when you see a soldier
  • make a thank you sign for sanitation workers
  • help make dinner
  • bring your neighbor’s garbage bins in from the curb
  • give someone a hug coupon
  • donate coloring books & crayons to a children’s hospital
  • help someone unload groceries at a grocery store
  • buy someone a reusable bag at a store
  • clean up your toys without being asked
  • make a thank you card for your librarian
  • send a postcard to a friend
  • smile at everyone you see
  • spend the day saying only nice things to and about other people
  • leave an inspirational quote in an unexpected place
  • give a care package to homeless person
  • make dua for your parents
  • bring flowers to an iftar
  • create a handmade Eid gift
  • create a hand made Eid card
  • share an inspirational quote

ramadan mubarak!

make a pledge this ramadan to make your iftar a Zero-Trash Iftar

i’m a typcal homeschooling mom.
i have a litte home-based business on the side
to make pocket change to fund my homeschool dreams for my children.

i sell muslim t-shirts, onesies & bibs.
i sell colorful “i’m fasting” mini-buttons.
i sell magnets to reminding Muslims to eat responsibly.

add Zero-Trash Iftar Kits to the list.
my goal is the help Muslims decrease the amount of waste
— paper, plastic and styrofoam plates, napkins, cups, forks, knives and spoons —
we throw away after every iftar during Ramadan.


for just $1 a day — less than a disposable cup of name-brand coffee — you can make a positive and sustainable impact during the blessed month of Ramadan and demonstrate that you care about one of the greatest blessings we all share: the Earth.

buy a Zero-Trash Iftar Kit and get inspiration about how to green your Ramadan at

1001 amazing inventions from the muslim world

Last Thursday i attended the teacher preview night
for National Geographic Museum’s 1001 Inventions that just opened in DC.
This exhibition has had over 2 million visitors after hitting
New York, London, LA, Istanbul & Abu Dhabi.
And now it is HERE!

1001 Inventions transports you into a bazaar of ideas.

In this exhibition you’ll find connections
to modern day technologies in the realms of
travel & architecture,
education & games,
health & beauty,
art & design,
astronomy & agriculture
and much more,
all from the Golden Age of Muslim civilization
which lasted from the 7th to 17th centuries.

i read somewhere that inventors and their inventions
are like a line of people with buckets of knowledge,
where each inventor takes from previous inventors buckets.
Inventors use the knowledge of those before,
add their own ideas,
maybe mixing in bits and pieces from other disciplines,
to improve upon the stream of human knowledge
or create something new.
During the Golden Age, there were LOTS of buckets a-pourin’
from Spain, deep into Africa, all the way across to China.

A model Al Jazari’s massive Elephant Clock and Ibn Firnas’ hang glider.

One of the inventors featured in this exhibition is Ibn Firnas
who hung in the air for more than 10 minutes in his hang glider,
paving the way for the Wright Brothers,
almost seven centuries before Leonardo da Vinci
made his famous drawings of bird-inspired flying machines.

“Merriam” Al-Astrulabiya made astrolabes,
complex devices used to tell time and navigate,
like a hand-held mini computer predating GPS by thousands of years.
Al-Astrulabiya was highly educated
and had a job working for the Sultan of modern day Syria
in a time when many European women couldn’t even own property.

Pick up the receiver and let Al Jahiz tell you a little something.

Learn about the rags to riches tale of writer and scientist, Al Jahiz,
an African man who grew up in Basra (Iraq)
who later became an adviser to the Caliph in 9th century Baghdad.
Al Jahiz wrote nearly 200 books that spanned science, literature, theology and politics.

1001 Inventions is a text-heavy exhibit
more suitable for older children and adults,
but there are a good deal of interactive features
that stand out making the exhibit available for a younger audience:

Ibn Firnas Glider Game

Flap your arms like a bird
and help Ibn Firnas fly as far as he can
while collecting strong but little cups of (probably Turkish) coffee for energy
and avoiding pesky obstacles.

You’ve got just two minutes to
use the joystick to guide this early Muslim man
throughout a home of today
to find influences from the early Muslim world.

Spin the globe to listen to Muslim explorers, like Zheng He,
tell you about their international exploits.

1001 Inventions will be in DC at the National Geographic Museum
( 1145 17th Street NW Washington, DC, 20036 )
until 3 February 2013.
Museum admission for adults is $8,
with a $2 discount for museum members, military, seniors,
students, and groups of 25 or more.
Admission for children 5-12 is $4,
while school and youth groups 18 and under are free.

Not to be missed is the free 1001 Inventions Family Festival
on September 8, 2012 from 10 AM – 4 PM
with lots of hands-on activities,
artist demonstrations,
dance workshops,
music performances,
and an outdoor arts and crafts bazaar.

And if you do miss it,
you can still check out the family workshops once a month on Saturdays at 1 PM.
There are also drop-in workshops daily at 2 PM.
If you can get a group together, they will do the workshops
at a time better suited for your group.

As if that isn’t enough, there are lots of other events related to the exhibition:

1001 Inventions is the kind of exhibition that would definitely benefit
from some preparatory exploration with the kids,
so download the elementary and middle school educator guides.
Heck! Download them even if you can’t go!

This exhibition is subtitled “Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization”,
but it’s not a “Muslim thing”.
In many cases Muslim scientists — as any good scientist will do —
used prior sources of knowledge
(why reinvent the wheel, right?)
while working along side other scientists from across the globe.
This exhibit is about shedding light and providing perspective
on Muslim contributions to the world
during what must have been an amazing time to be alive
and how these once-forgotten innovations have helped shaped our world today.

There is something at 1001 Inventions for lovers of
math, science, technology, medicine, agriculture, art and history
There’s something for everyone!

If you do nothing else before you go (or not), watch this!:

ramadan and eid books for children

here’s a mix of mostly picture books
with a few non-fiction books, activity books,
and even a young adult (13+) novel thrown in.
i have read most of them with my children,
but not all.
look for them in your local library,
at your favorite islamic bookstore
or online book retailer.

Amira’s Totally Chocolate World, by J. Samia Mair
Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif
Celebrate Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr, by Deborah Heiligman
Celebrating Ramadan, by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
Eid and Ramadan Songs, by Fawzia Gillani Williams
Magid Fasts for Ramadan, by Mary Matthews
Moon Watchers: Shirin’s Ramadan Miracle, by Reza Jalali
My First Ramadan, by Karen Katz
My Ramadan Fun Book (from Goodword Books)
The Night of the Moon : a Muslim Holiday Story, by Hena Khan
A Party in Ramadan, by Asma Mobin-Uddin
Ramadan, by Susan L. Douglass
Ramadan, by Suhaib Hamid Ghazi
Ramadan and Id-ul-Fitr, by Rosalind Kerven
Ramadan and the Quran: Quran Stories for Little Hearts (from Goodword Books)
Ramadan Moon by Naima Bint Robert
Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr by Lisa Bullard
Under the Ramadan Moon, by Silvia Whitman
Welcome Ramadan (from Goodword Books)
The White Nights of Ramadan, by Maha Addasi

are there some that you like that are not on this list? where do you find your favorite islamic books for children?

book: the wise fool

the wise fool: fables from the islamic world
the wise fool: fables from the islamic world by shahrukh husain

i first encountered nasraddin jooha when i studied arabic in amman, jordan.
on a quick visit to cairo, i found a book on him in the hotel gift shop.
these are tales known all over the muslim world
— india, pakistan, turkey, afghanistan, iran —
but also greece, bulgaria, macedonia, albania, russia and china.

the folk tales of mulla nasruddin
— generally thought to have been a traveling suffi in 13th century turkey —
may have a different name depending on the culture
(like khoja or its variations: hodja, hoja, khawaja)
but the stories seem to transcend culture.
through his playful antics and peculiar ways
we learn wisdom;
explore logic, reason and common sense;
and take lessons in how to make a “point without getting in trouble.”

value of the month: trustworthiness or amanah

hippo and mouse trust fall

every month we focus on a value or character trait
that we want to nourish within ourselves and as a family.
this month it is trustworthiness or amanah in Arabic.

in addition to reading stories on this theme from the library,
i also work with character building day by day, by anne d. mather & louise b. weldon,
as well as islamic values for children by lila assiff-tarabin
and a to z of akhlaaaq: moral values for children by nafees khan.

download and print this month’s value
then talk about, read about and be about being trustworthy this month.
studies show it only takes 21 days to make a habit!

do you know any good picture books or short stories about trustworthiness?