Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beginner Islamic Studies Resources

Here are different resources we found to be useful for teaching Islamic Studies.
Most of the materials are suitable for  Grades K-3 or up.

1.  Islamic Studies books from Weekend Learning

The curriculum covers broad aspects of Islam based on the Qur’an and authentic Hadith and the books are child-friendly.

2. General
Learn About Islam Series from Dar ul Kitab Publications (over 25 simple and authentic books for kids). Topics include:
Level 1: Our Creator.
Level 2 books: Remembering Allah at all times,  Keeping ourselves Clean, Doing Good Deeds, Eating and Drinking, When we are Sick, When Ramadan Comes, Some of the Best Times to ask Du'a, Our Clothes, Manners of Reciting the Qur'aan,
Level 3 books: Sleeping and Waking Up, My little book of Jannah, My little book of Jahannam, In the Way of the Sahabah, Shaitan is not our friend, Let's Celebrate Eid, Some Important things we must ask in Our Dua, Angels are Real, The Story of Hajj, Good Manners, Dhikr-Remembrance of Allah, Lets Learn to Protect Ourselves from Shaitan.

3. Lives of Prophets
A) Prophets Sent by Allah, written and illustrated by Moazzam Zaman
Let's Learn About Prophets lessons and activities (K-1)

4. Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wassalam)

 A) Goodnight Stories from the life of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wassalam

B) Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alaihi wassalam) short stories both Arabic and English. You can download the stories here.

C). Self-study activity/coloring books about the Life and Sayings of Rasulullah sallalahu alaihi wassalam and Lets' learn from the Holy Quran Grades K-1.

D) Our Prophet Makkah and Madina textbook/workbooks by IQRA, Grade-2.

5. Story books:
40 Hadith for Children with stories.

Zaynab and Zakariya series and Qur'an stories
Qur'an stories

Dua books are cards

 Ahadith:  some ahadith from Riyad us Salihiyn by An Nawawi 

We read both Arabic and English/Uzbek texts with the commentaries  from the books. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Treating Seasonal Allergies.

I really like spring season. I anxiously wait for it to come especially after the cold and long winter season. But after couple weeks of warm weather tree pollen season starts which means my allergies kick in. It started several years ago. It would really get bad with lots of sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny and itchy noses, and itchy throat. I don't like allergy medication so do not take any.  But during the last couple years I have been able to control my allergies with the combination of diet and a few other natural treatments. Alhamdulillah.
So what is a seasonal allergies?
Our immune system inappropriately recognizes certain external substances  such as pollens from grass, trees, and weeds as harmful invaders and triggers an immune response. Just like having common cold the antibodies provoke  inflammation and produce cold-like symptoms such as  sneezing,  coughing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and itchy throat.

It is possible to treat seasonal allergies with nutrient dense diet, certain natural herbs and a few lifestyle changes. Here is the outline of basic guidelines I followed for the last few years.
(eat year around, but be extra careful during the allergy season)

What to Eat:
  • Meats: grass fed beef, lamb, goat or chicken with their organs;
  • Fish and Seafood: wild-caught fish such as salmon, sardines, herring.
  • Eggs: Free-range, pastured eggs.
  • Vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots, garlic, cabbage, tomatoes, etc.
  • Dark Leafy Greens: kale, mustard green, beet and turnip greens, collard green etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, grapefruit, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries etc.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
  • Healthy Fats and Oils:  Some animal fats, coconut oil, butter/ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, flax oil and cod liver oil.
  • Salt and Spices: himalayan salt/sea salt, garlic, chives, basil, coriander, dill, rosemary, savory and others both fresh and dry.
  • Dairy: Fermented kefir or yogurt, buttermilk, cream cheese, and certain cheese.
  • Fermented Vegetables: sauerkraut, kimchi, salsa etc
  •  Bone Broth
Foods for Limited Consumption
  • Certain Grains: limited amounts of properly prepared gluten-free grains (rice, buckwheat, quinoa) along with some sourdough bread.
  • Natural Sweeteners: rapadura, honey, maple syrup.

What to Avoid:

  • Sugar/Artificial Sweenetars/High Fructose Corn Syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, candy, pastries, ice cream and etc.
  • Too Much Grains: Avoid not properly prepared breads, pastas, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, etc.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas that have not been properly prepared should be avoided.
  • Dairy: Avoid most dairy, especially low-fat.
  • Vegetable Oils: Processed soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil.
  • Trans Fats: Margarine and  shortening found in many processed foods (“hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”)
  • Highly Processed Foods: prepacked, boxed, frozen and fast foods.

During the Allergy Season:

*Avoid any sugar even natural sweeteners such as rapadura, maple syrup except little amount of local honey only!

If you do get allergic symptoms despite all your efforts then:
  • Get plenty of rest;
  • Eat like a sick person (more soups, water, lemon/honey/ginger tea, spicy food etc);
  • Cut out dairy, as it triggers a mucous response;
  • Do not exercise if you are having some symptoms, it worsens the situation;
  • Keep  windows closed, vacuum, dust regularly to clear the pollen out;
  • Do nasal irrigation with Neti pot and saline solution. It really helps to clean the nasal passages from all those pollens;
  • Use natural herbs such as  Stinging Nettle Leaves, Goldenseal and Butterbur roots. You can make herbal teas with dried roots or use capsules or liquid forms;
  • Consume Cmega-3 and Quercitin rich foods during the allergy season;

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Breakfast Frittata


A frittata is ideal for weekend breakfast (or brunch) or weeknight dinners. It can be cooked with different vegetables, leftover ingredients sitting in the fridge or fresh greens picked from the garden.  There is no limit to what you can add; eggs, leftover or fresh vegetables, steamed vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli,  cheese, meat, greens etc.
It is cooked and baked in the same skillet so you need cast iron on ovenproof skillet.
This is just a general recipe, so you can change and adjust to your taste.

1 Large Zucchini, chopped
1 cup chopped kale or spinach
2 -3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon minced Ginger
1 Tbsp of fresh parsley, cilantro or green onions, chopped
4- 5 Eggs
½ cup of Milk
Freshly grated cheese to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of  Olive oil

1.Preheat the oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the zucchini and cook them for about 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Add the kale, greens, ginger, garlic and season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk,  optional cheese, some salt and pepper. 
3. Add the egg and  milk mixture to the zucchini mixture, stir until the bottom sets. Let it cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until its mostly set.
4. Preheat the broiler to high. Sprinkle the frittata with the parsley or greens and some more cheese and bake it until the top is golden brown.
5. Alternately, you can bake it in preheated oven at 375 F for about 5-6 minutes.

Zucchini Fritters


2 medium zucchini (organic)
1 teaspoon sea salt /Himalayan pink salt
black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parsley thinly chopped (or cilantro, green onions, garlic greens etc)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons coconut flour or almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive oil, ghee or coconut oil for frying


1.Wash and grate  the zucchini  in a large bowl and add the sea salt, mix well and set aside for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes squeeze out all the liquid.
2. Add the rest of ingredients and mix well.
3.In a large skillet/cast iron heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil of your choice. Drop about 2 tablespoons of zucchini mixture onto the skillet and cook until both sides golden brown. It takes 3-4 times for one side to cook fully. You can keep the fritters in the warm oven until you finish cooking all the batter.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Islam and Frugal Living (some personal tips)

Children of Adam, take your adornment at every place of prayer. Eat and drink, and do not waste. He does not love the wasteful.” ~ Al-Quran 7:31
Islam teaches us to live a simple life: to be content with what we have, not to waste, not to race in worldly matters and help the needy. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wassalam lived very simple life and we should also try to follow him.
It is so much easy to live a frugal life and that's what Islam teaches. It allows you to be happy with  you have, spend less than what you earn, pay off any debts  faster, save for a good goal/cause (go to Hajj/Umra), help someone and invest in for your eternal life. It is also about caring the bounties of Allah. It is about how you spend what Allah has provided for you. ( especially if you have plenty).

Being frugal is not being cheap or stingy, but it is being smart and making wise decisions when it comes to your finances.
Here are some tips for frugal living:
1.Buy what you NEED not what you WANT.
2.Buy/rent a smaller house (even if you can afford it)-  It is cheaper, easier to maintain (cleaning, heating/cooling etc).
3.Drive smaller car- as long as it works and does its job smaller cars are cheaper to maintain and uses less gas.
4.Don't eat out (maybe once a while )- it is hard to find healthy food while eating out, and even if you can find it is costly. Buy fresh groceries and make wholesome meals at home.
5. Use local library and museums- instead of buying books or education dvds use local resources.
6. Stop paying for TV (cable)- no more monthly fees and it saves your precious time. Instead spend this time reading, bonding with kids, walking, exercising, gardening etc.
7.Cut out costly entertainment (movies, costly traveling to famous recreational parks like disney land etc)- Find halal ways of entertainment. Hiking, camping, cooking together, gardening, building something, washing cars, playing in the park, exercising are all low cost (some even free) way of spending quality time with family.
8. Make your own DIY projects with the family- instead of buying everything, try making it yourself. Also instead of hiring someone for repairs/cleaning try doing it yourself.
9. Give away/donate- if you own too much, give away some to the needy. Try to get rid of you clutter.
10.Own small wardrobe- too many clothes need constant care, cleaning, ironing, storage space etc.
11.Sun-dry clothes in warm weather or line dry them indoors when it is cold.
12.Save energy and gas- turn off the extra lights, turn off the water while brushing your teeth, don't waste water while making wudu etc.
13. Reuse, reduce and recycle-most things are reusable so make the most of it. Reduce what is not really necessary.
14.Grow your own food- if you have some land try to grow some seasonal vegetables, herbs and flowers. Maintaining green lawn is pretty expensive and most of the time not good for the  environment (mowing the lawn, fertilizing, chemical pesticides etc). Instead spend that money to grow your own food.
15.Be your own barber- cut your own kids hair and adults can cut each others hair (which is pretty simple).
16. Stay healthy- healthy eating, exercising and healthy life habits saves you from expensive hospital bills and medication.
17. Exercising should not be costly- there is no need to go to gym or buy expensive workout equipment/clothing/DVD's.  All you need is your own body weight (maybe couple of dumbbells), some space and strong determination to stay fit and healthy. You don't need special supplements (protein bars, shakes so on).
18.Buy clothes on sale/discounted or with coupons etc (buy them only when you need them)
19.Take care of your belongings- try to maintain what you have so it will last longer. Cars, lawn movers, kitchen items, garden tool, grills etc.
20.Make monthly family budget and stick to it.

Saving on Food- groceries is a major expense in our home, but there are a few tips to save and still have enough.
-eat only healthy food, stop buying junk;
-do no waste any food in the kitchen.When you buy quality, whole, organic, healthy food you don't want to be wasting your money;
-don't eat out;
-buy fresh, organic produce (more vegetables, less fruits);
-avoid all prepared convenience foods even if they are organic because most of them are not properly prepared (juice, cereal, cookies, bread, pasta);
-buy in bulk, organic beans, rice, grains, spices, butter, coconut oil can be cheaper if you buy in bulk;
-bring lunch to work or school;
-cook bigger meals (enough for dinner and lunch);
-quality meat is expensive, you eat less meat;
-grow you own food- seasonal vegetables and herbs can be easily grown at home and they are way better tasting than store bought ones.