The Joy of Home Cooking

Most of us have grown up in houses where food was lovingly prepared at home. Of course, we would eat out sometimes, creating a bustling chaos at home before heading to our favourite restaurant. Eating out was not a frequent activity for most of us.

How many of us cook regularly at home using fresh wholesome healthy produce? And how many times have you grabbed a burger on the go, or order in pizza or takeaway from that nearby Chinese joint. I don’t like the number you’re thinking of.

Now, listen up. I’m not against eating out or having a McD once in a while. All I want to share with you, my brothers and sisters, is simply this….take a good look at what you put in your mouths and what you feed your families everyday. Is it halal? Is it tayyib (good)? Is it wholesome? Was it prepared with love? Or is it simply processed, refined, filled with preservatives, additives, color, and other crazy stuff that only has a chemical compound for a name. We read about it all the time, hormones and antibiotics injected into diary produce, genetically modified poultry, pesticides and chemicals all around. It’s a crazy confusing world – the food industry.

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Sahih International: O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.

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Sahih International: And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.

Almost everything that we buy from the supermarket can be easily prepared at home. Try baking your own cookies with homemade butter. Make your own dips to go with healthy snacking options like carrots (I spent half my childhood with my head in the fridge’s vegetable compartment) or homemade bread sticks. Instead of reaching out for those easy instant soup mixes, make your own. Instant pudding mix? Please! Do you have any idea how simple it is to make pudding? We make our own homemade yoghurt everyday, Alhamdullilah!! Trust me, it will become second nature once you start enjoying the baraka’h (blessings) and benefits of home cooked food.

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Sahih International: And He it is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.

Truly, very little effort is required to go about doing this and the reward you get for ensuring that you and your family eat healthy will be multiplied, Inshallah. You’ll soon love to cook everyday and opt for wholesome healthier snacks.

Here are ways you can achieve the desired goodness:

  1. Make dua to Allah to help us start making positive changes, one by one.
  2. Stock up your pantry with good wholesome ingredients and fresh produce from the local farmer’s market.
  3. Resist the temptation to buy all those instant mix, microwave and ready to eat, cookies and cakes and see what you can whip up at home
  4. A little bit of planning, a little bit of good sensible shopping and making a few preparations for the week ahead goes a long long way. (It used to be take some effort in the beginning to plan ahead but now it has become second nature.)
  5. Make breakfast your priority and try to get most of your vegetable servings right in the morning with your favorite bread, roti or qubz.
  6. Keep a handful of nuts in your desk at your workplace to help you curb any un-toward cravings!!

If we really want to be productive, we need to put some thought and effort into our food. Alhamdulillah, now it’s effortless for me to whip up healthier options at home in no time. And with whatever is available in my pantry. Of course, I do reach out for that cookie (sometimes more than one), I do eat out and I do the quick mix stuff too. But the point is, it doesn’t happen too often.

Experience the joy of home cooking and watch your energy levels shoot up, productivity leap and get sick less often. Lead an active lifestyle, exercise, eat good food and notice the clarity in thought and action that will kick in, Inshallah. May Allah give us the strength and will power to make good choices in what goes into our kitchens and on to our plates.

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Balance and love

An article on feminism that appeared on MuslimMatters by Hebah Ahmed was a very interesting read. In response, my comment was as follows:

Pls click here for the article before proceeding to my response.

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Assalamualaikum,

A thought provoking article indeed. I went through a similar inner turmoil for years, wondering why our mothers used to do so much, until I got married. We’ve always been told about women’s rights in islam, that we don’t need to do much except look after the husband, the children and the house. As women, we had minimal responsibility and more benefits, provided we fulfill the minimum requirement of being a good companion to our husbands.

But when it came to reality, I saw two extremes. One set of women grew up the traditional way, where it was simply expected of them to do everything around the house. In some cultures, it was unquestionable to expect the men to help around the house. The other set of women were growing up assuming that the 1st set was completely off-track and when they do get married, they would assert the fact that they din’t need to do much. Sadly, while our parents’ marriages did last in spite of the cultural perception of do-it-all women, the others din’t. I am not supporting either of them. Although a minority, this generation of women would not cook, clean, change diapers or make any effort to honour and serve the parents on both sides. I’ve seen the way some husbands go all out to provide servants, (who get kicked out quickly), himself cleans cooks feeds bathes children and goes out to work only to return home to a truckload of complains and sour faces. Neither the wife is happy, nor is the husband.

The challenge resides in balance and being realistic.

Alhamdulillah, there is another thought process amongst our sisters that will not only ensure a happy marriage but also reap up rewards in the akhirah.

What I have come to realise is that islam does have minimum expectations from us, the least is to be a good companion. However, we need to understand this. When your husband returns home and you serve him a cold refreshing drink, what do you get? When you prepare a meal for him, what do you get? When you make do with whatever servant is available, or if not available, you do the chores yourself, what do you get? Or you divide the chores and help your husband do his chores. Or if he doesn’t do his share sometimes, you let it go and still be loving to him. What do you get? You spend a few days serving his family and taking care of their needs. What do you get? Girls, all this is Sadaqah!!! If you’re doing it for the sake of Allah, even if you don’t have to…..you get rewards. That’s what you’ll get. Whole lot of rewards, Inshallah. Our mothers will be blessed for all that they did. Inshallah.

Remember that Prophet Muhammed SAW said, “There is a (compulsory) sadaqah (charity) to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allah everyday the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as sadaqah; and to help a man concerning his riding animal, by helping him to mount it or by lifting his luggage on to it, is also regarded as sadaqah; and (saying) a good word is also sadaqah; and every step taken on one’s way to offer the compulsory prayer (in the mosque) is also sadaqah; and to remove a harmful thing from the way is also sadaqah.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

None of us can ever be sure that we will be accepted by Allah SWT. When we are so willing to go the extra mile to study and get good marks and that degree, or to lose weight, when we’re ready to do that extra bit to get something in duniya….what’s the big deal in doing extra for your akhirah?? Look at it as an opportunity to reap sawaab and an opportunity to win the ticket to Jannah. And be grateful to your husbands for whatever help they give you in your household work. If he’s doing a wee bit more than his dad ever did for his mom, be grateful. It’s a slow process, a jihad to change the perceptions of people towards women. We can teach our sons to appreciate all that women do for their households for the sake of Allah. Inspire them to be like our beloved Muhammed (Peace be upon him), Inshallah.

So first things first, we need to change our outlook on life and be realistic. Trying to make our men be more like our Prophet SAW is a gradual process spanning many generations to come. Our Prophet SAW advised the women to be grateful to their husbands. So while our muslim brothers are overcoming their struggle with culture vs islam and doing more that their fathers ever did, appreciate it. In the meantime, we need to deal with cultural perceptions of women by teaching our children by example and, utilise every opportunity to gain rewards today.

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Jazak Allahu Khair for your very insightful comments. I agree with everything you have said. Allah tests each person with their own conflicts and for some women, it is in their husbands. The key is to focus on the positives and use wisdom in changing the negatives.

For both men and women, there are some things that simply cannot be changed in a spouse. The test then becomes to submit to the relationship by accepting your spouse as they are without trying to change them or resent them. Sometimes this approach leads to the desired change and other times, the mere peace that is felt by no longer struggling against your spouses’ characteristics makes the marriage better.

The real lesson in this article is to look forward and see how we can raise a generation of sunnah followers who work to ease the lives of their spouses Insha Allah.

I ask Allah to give peace and ease to all my Muslim brothers and sisters.