Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
We want to hear your take on it. What do you think about infidelity and "cheaters"? Do they deserve a second chance, and if so, when? Can "cheaters" change their ways, or will they never learn to be faithful? We want to hear your perspective!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
By Munib Arrabi
If you asked any given Muslim about his wish for the afterlife, he would surely summarize it in one word: Heaven! Heaven, according to Islam, compromises multiple levels—and a Muslim cannot earn the privilege of reaching the highest level, where one is closest to Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), unless he fosters an orphan. Prophet Mohammad himself (PBUH) said that those who care for orphaned children will be in Heaven with him, gesturing to show that they would be as close as two fingers of the same hand.
Why such a high ranking?
Those who assume responsibility for the well-being of orphans are rewarded so greatly because, by fostering an orphan—bringing him up, fulfilling his psychological and physical needs and providing him with food, shelter and clothes—they serve as an example and a guiding light to those around them, just as Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) did.
Islam and adoption'Kafala'—bringing up and caring for a child—is not prohibited by Islam; in fact, adoption is encouraged as both a humane act and a great social service. In Islam, however, it is unlawful to claim a biological relationship to one’s adopted child, as the religion seeks to safeguard biological lineage. Chidlren under 'kafala' retain their own family identity, never assuming the name of their surrogate parents.
Orphans in the Koran
In Islam, Muslims are not only urged to care for orphans, but are warned against treating them with cruelty or injustice. Orphans are mentioned 24 times in the Koran, appearing in a variety of different verses and contexts. One verse urging people to foster orphans, for example, reads: “They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans” (Surat Baqara 215). Another verse warns against mistreating orphans explaining that, “[As for] those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter a burning fire” (Surat Nisa’a 10). Another verse further clarifies this, merely stating: “Therefore treat not the orphan with harshness” (Surat Duha 9).
How can you foster orphans?
You can foster orphans through 'kafala' by making them a part of your family, raising them, caring for them and educating them as if they were your own. I once heard a man with three children of his own and three foster children exclaim, “If you asked me who my biological children are and who my foster children are, I wouldn’t really know!”
Dr Husam Din Affaneh, Professor of Fiqh (Islamic Law) at Al Qudus University in Palestine, believes that this type of orphan care prevailed during the time of the Prophet’s companions, as made evident by the Hadith on orphan care.
If you do not wish to bring an orphan into your home personally, you can still sponsor one, supporting his present needs as well as his future hopes and deeds. Many charitable people support orphans through sponsorship.
Other ways of helping orphans
- Preparing treats and taking them to an orphanage.
- Distributing presents to orphans during Eid.
- Participating in activities and excursions held for orphans.
- Reading stories to them on a monthly basis—especially if you are good at storytelling.
Are you looking for a way to soften your heart?
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Bring the orphan close to you, wipe his head and give him some of your food, for that will soften your heart and fulfill your need.” (Narrated by Tabarani).
By Munther Shahatit
As Christians, understanding adoption from a biblical point of view is important, as it motivates us to love and care for each and every child who is in need of a father or mother. Adoption is designed to bring healing to a child that has been abused, neglected, abandoned or simply denied the care of his biological parents. We must, in turn, think of ways to bring healing to those children in need of our help.
Have you ever asked yourself, as a Christian, what God considers to be pure and genuine religion? The answer can be found in the Book of James, verse 1:27, which reads: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world". God Himself places the highest importance on their pain and suffering, their emotional and physical needs and their need to be loved.
Adoption is God's idea—not ours. In the gospel, the term "heavenly Father" is often used to describe God (Matthew 5: 48, 6:14). Furthermore, The Lord's Prayer, the best-known prayer in Christianity, starts out: “Our Father who art in heaven”. Clearly, fatherhood is one of God’s main characteristics and, as such, He encourages us to in turn be fathers to the fatherless and mothers to the motherless. Such is evident in this verse about God almighty: "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you" (Isaiah 66:13).
Further explaining God’s role as our adoptive father, Ephesians, verse 1:4-5, reads: "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will".
As John Piper, the Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, so eloquently puts it, "Adoption is greater than the universe. Adoption was part of God's plan. It was His idea, His purpose. It was not an afterthought. He didn't discover one day that, against His plan and foreknowledge, humans had sinned and orphaned themselves in the world and then come up with the idea of adopting them into His family. No, Paul says, He predestined adoption. He planned it".
There are many ways in which to help orphans in need of financial and emotional support. A woman who used to visit orphanages told me that she once came upon a child who was crying loudly, taking him in her arms to calm him. Even if you cannot provide financial assistance, a hug goes a long way.
Things to remember
· We adopt a child not for our own glory but for God’s glory: all good things we do in this life should be not for bragging rights and personal glory, but for the glory of God. The Bible explains: "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:3-4).
· With adoption, we model the mercy and justice of God for others—it is a clear message that we care about what God cares about.
·Caring for children in any capacity can certainly bring heartache, stress and suffering, but it also brings joy.
There are many ways in which you can bring sunshine into an orphan’s life. Just think, pray and be creative and you are sure to find a way.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I have been reading your magazine for the past two years, never missing an issue, and have enjoyed the many topics you cover that are of particular interest to women—pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. You give great tips to new mothers and your advice to parents is invaluable. However, there is a sensitive subject that you have not yet breached: an unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, I have decided to share my painful, life-changing story with you.
A dreaded discoveryI stood, my feet shaking, holding the plastic stick in my hand. Tears started rolling down my face as I saw two red lines materialize on the home pregnancy test strip—I was pregnant! I felt guilty as I thought of all the women out there who would have given anything to be in my shoes at that very moment. But as a working mama of four, with my youngest just 11 months old at the time, getting pregnant was not really an option—especially as my husband was between jobs, rendering our financial situation uncertain.
My husband and I had discussed the size of our family and we were both content with the two girls and two boys God had already blessed us with. We did not plan on expanding our family and were very cautious when it came to contraception. However, in that area, we did not have many choices: because I had varicose veins, I could not take contraceptive pills and since I had my four children by Caesarean section, the loop was hardly an ideal choice. We resorted to condoms. The fact that they are not 100 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy had become all too clear.
My reactionFor two days and two nights I cried like a baby. Through my tears, I discussed the subject with my husband who, though as shocked as I was at first, had started warming up to the idea of having another child. I, on the other hand, could not face the idea of pregnancy—I was as sure as anything that I would never survive it. My pregnancies had always been very difficult and, when I came around from the anaesthetic after giving birth, I had always felt like I was rising from the dead.
There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to terminate the pregnancy. I broke the news to my husband and, when he saw how devastated I was, he agreed.
Going through with itFinding a gynaecologist to carry out the abortion was no easy task. My gynaecologist refused to do it, trying to talk me into keeping the baby, but I had already made up my mind. Finally, I found a doctor who agreed to perform the abortion, saying that she believed it was my right to terminate the pregnancy if I so desired. She did an ultrasound to confirm that I was, in fact, pregnant and it was then that I heard the sound I least wanted to hear—the sound that ripped my insides apart and still haunts me today: the sound of the foetus’ heartbeat. Each beat was like a stab to my own heart.
OverAfter going through the painful procedure, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief—relief that the ordeal was over and that my life would soon go back to normal.
What I was not prepared for was my husband’s attitude. He was with me the entire time and had heard the heartbeat as well. His eyes were the first thing I saw when I woke up; in them, I saw a light that was fading. For days after the operation, he barely talked to me, refusing to look me in the eye and acting angry most of the time. I was devastated at the time—I really needed his support. I knew it was my decision to terminate the pregnancy, but it was not easy and I still needed support; I needed to feel loved and accepted. Because we never told our children what had happened, I was completely alone with my thoughts and feelings. It was such a difficult time.
Moving onOne year has passed; my husband has finally gotten over his deep anger and is back to loving me the way he did before the abortion. We are even more cautious than ever when it comes to contraception now because making the same mistake twice would be fatal. I love my children and I even love the one I aborted, but I know that I would not have been a good mother if I had to look after another child. I hope that God will protect my family and I will always strive to be the best mama I can be. And I pray that the little angel whose heartbeat I heard can forgive me.
It was the last Thursday of November 2009, Thanksgiving Day. I was motivated to make my children a proper Thanksgiving dinner, since they had never experienced the all-American tradition. It has been hard to hold on to family traditions while living overseas for the last ten years, but although some customs are lost or warped, new ones from other cultures have happily become a patchwork of current family traditions. Nevertheless, for my own peace of mind, I needed to at least expose my four young children to this holiday tradition.
Americans have plenty of so-called “hallmark holidays,” on which they celebrate anything and everything: Mother's Day, Father's Day, Halloween, Valentine's Day, National Secretaries Day, Children's Day and my personal favourite, National Grammar Day. Of course, in true American fashion, there are greeting cards galore, themed gadgets and gizmos and loads of décor to properly mark the occasion. There are so many of these “holidays,” in fact, that it is dizzying! Some holidays, however, never lose their importance; Thanksgiving is one of them. Celebrated by families of all races, backgrounds and religions, Thanksgiving Day is marked by an elaborate Thursday meal, football matches and a long weekend of massive parades with elaborate floats and marching bands.
So, what is the idea behind Thanksgiving? Although there are many ideas about how the first Thanksgiving Dinner was celebrated, most Americans believe it to be the first meal during which early American settlers and Native American Indians broke bread together under peaceful terms. From the history books I read as a young, Midwestern schoolgirl, their menu comprised an elaborate spread of the fruits of the land—wild game turkey, fall vegetables and a dessert of seasonal fruit. The intent of Thanksgiving today is not to replicate this meal; it is following the Pilgrims' example of sitting down together with family and friends to partake in a meal of thanks. There it is…THANKS! Thankfulness is all relative but, nevertheless, thanks. Sure, it could be thankfulness for wealth and riches earned via a healthy stock portfolio or wild success found via the fruits of labour, but mostly, it is thanks for all that God has given us—health, home, family and friends.
After significant meal preparation and careful consideration as to how to make this Thanksgiving both interesting and engaging for my four children, the table was set with the finest the Bentaieb household had to offer. No guests were invited because of my fears about improperly cooking the beast and timing its fixings. With the excitement of preparation and help from my eldest to youngest, it was clear that something good was in the works. No one would have been able to guess in what direction this would lead.
In today's culture of abundance, many families use Thanksgiving as a tool to get back to the basics and remember all that we have (and all that we can give). Some families ask their children to come to the Thanksgiving dinner table with a list of things for which they are thankful. I decided to take the more spontaneous route, opting for fresh, innocent and untainted accounts of my children's thankfulness. As I expected, their responses were sweet, loving and, at times, a bit silly. In addition to being thankful for food, clothing, lodging, transportation, Hamleys and education, they were overwhelmingly grateful for my blind father's guide dog, Intrigue. They were also appreciative of ‘mansaf’ (Jordan’s traditional dish), hair and eyebrows, sushi, paint, footballs, thunderstorms, turtles, tennis…the list seemed endless. It was gratifying and refreshing, however, to see the enthusiasm of their thankfulness
When I explained Thanksgiving to the children, the immediate response of Alexandre, my eldest, was that of bewilderment. He found the holiday to be such a wonderful idea that he was saddened to learn it was celebrated only one time a year. He begged me to begin a monthly Thanksgiving—not only for the tasty food, but to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are. Regardless of the painful logistics of the Thanksgiving feast, I had no other option but to concede.
Nearly a year has passed since then. Even with our busy lives, we have managed to cling to our new-found tradition as ambassadors of the Thanksgiving spirit. Our friends now happily help us celebrate every month by joining us around a table at which we laugh, reflect and give thanks. Although we still reflect on the things we are grateful for, we have shifted the theme slightly to be a Thanks for Giving feast, discussing the contributions—both large and small—that we can make.
Sure, there is the occasional difficulty in locating the “turkey of the month,” but I have managed to convince local grocers that there is no season for turkey—it's not just a November meat anymore. And, as a purveyor of fine cuisine (though I am far from Martha Stewart) I amuse myself with variations on the vegetable dishes that accompany the bird.
For our family, a new tradition has been created by tweaking old traditions, making the Thanksgiving feast more frequent, but nonetheless full of meaning!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Have any other favorite spots to take your children to, or to just enjoy the open skies and a refreshing breeze? Let us know in the comments.
In today's day and age, healthy food has become more and more important for everyone! Now that we know so much more about different foods' effects on the body, we can make wiser food choices, whether we're diabetic, watching our weight, or just trying to keep ourselves energetic and strong! Check out the article on our website for some recipes that deliver some serious taste without adding unhealthy ingredients -- http://familyflavours.com/familyflavours/public/DefaultDetails.aspx?id=107&type=article
But now we want to hear from you!
What are your favorite healthy recipes? Got any special ways to make the kids eat their vegetables--and like them? Let us know what tastes so good, you forget it's good for you!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
For more information on showtimes and ticket reservations, go to Children's Museum Jordan's website here! http://www.cmj.jo/en/whats_new/15701
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
By Austen Murrow
Football, gymnastics, basketball, dance, swimming: how many mothers can actually take their children to so many activities, one after the other? The sporty mamas we talked with somehow manage to fit everything in—and enjoy themselves along the way.
Dana Barhoush is the mother of three active children; Raad (10) Jenna (8) and Adam (7). Although she works on projects here and there, her primary occupation is ‘dedicated mother’. Dana takes each of her children to basketball twice a week, sometimes waiting for all three to practise in a row, which takes up to three hours. She always stays to watch her young ones play because she enjoys watching them progress. “I remember when my son, Raad, was in KG playing sports,” she reminisces. “It has been eight years now and I have loved watching him improve his skills.” On top of basketball, her children practise boxing at home with their father and also go horseback riding. “It was my idea to get them into sports, starting with Raad, our eldest,” she explains. “I really had to push him to get where he is today.” Dana’s support clearly paid off, as both Raad and his younger siblings love sports now.
The only hectic part for this mother is trying to get everyone out of the house on time, especially on days when she knows she will be gone for three hours straight. Her first priority is making sure homework is done before sports practice so that when they all get back home, they can relax. And what about lunch and dinner? “When my children were younger, I brought sandwiches for the child who was not playing,” she explains, “so when we got home, everyone had been fed.” Since her children are getting older and are now practising until eight on some nights, Dana makes sure the two younger ones eat before going to the gym. “I am thankful that my husband is at home at night to help out while I watch whoever is still practising.”
Dana is very fond of watching her children do what they love. “I think I will miss it when they’re older—when they don’t want me to take them. I’ll give up my time now to be here while they still need me,” concludes the soft-spoken mama.
No other way
Dana Khazendar, full-time mother of Zeena (9) and Yezen (7), spends six days a week—approximately two hours a day—at her children’s sports activities. “Each sport is unique and I like to watch them all,” Dana explains. In addition to dance, both children participate in football and basketball and take guitar lessons. “When the children were younger, it was my idea to encourage them to play sports,” explains the relaxed mama. Her husband supported the idea too. “Even though I needed to really push them at first,” she remembers, “they now love it and cannot imagine their life without sports.”
Why is she so supportive? Dana knows that encouraging her children is a great way to make sure, as she says, that “they are doing something useful with their time” and hopes it will be a productive outlet for them in their teenage years. Dana is a role model too, as she herself does Pilates.
And just how does this organized mother keep track of all the activities? With a calendar that shows her exactly what she needs to do each day and which activities her children have. This way, she is prepared. “I make sure I carry the right amount of food with me,” she explains, “so that Zeena and Yezen can eat after school or between practices.” Although she admits to being stressed out from the full schedule on some days, this lucky mama is often able to socialize with friends who are also watching their children. Her advice for other mothers? “Just enjoy it; it’s fun for the kids.”
A time for everything
Aydah Tubeileh Odeh manages multiple activities for her four children: Aetedal (12), Hussein (11), Hassan (5) and Hamzah (3). Though she recently completed her PhD in Educational Administration, she still managed to support her children, who participate in volleyball, football, basketball and swimming. While chatting with Aydah at her son’s football practice, she tells us: “I have to stay because they feel comfortable and happy when I am here watching.” Aydah loves to watch her children play basketball, as she used to play it herself when she was at school. It was a collective family decision to be involved in sports,. “I knew I should push them to participate because sports are important for their physical and emotional health.” As a mother, she sets an example by partaking in swimming and Ping-Pong herself.
Aydah ensures that the activities are fun and stress-free for her and her children by keeping everyone on track. “There is a time for everything,” she stresses, “a time for lunch, a time for television and a time for sports”. Her advice to mothers who feel overwhelmed? “You can find the time for everything if you manage your time properly.”
Sameera Al Khuffash is mama to three girls: Tala (11) Sara (8) and Maya (3.5). She supports them daily as they practise gymnastics at both a local gym and their school. On Saturdays, Sameera accompanies her girls to dance class, always staying to watch because she thinks that their dancing is beautiful.
This chic mama attends all of her daughters’ competitions and performances. She loves to see them succeed in what they are doing and it makes her proud that they have already won medals at such a young age. “It was the girls’ idea to do gymnastics,” Sameera beams, “and I love that.” She herself participated in ballet when she was younger, so she knows how important it is to keep fit.
“It’s great watching them at gymnastics; it gives them flexibility and beautiful strong bodies,” she explains, smiling from ear to ear. “I’m proud of them,” she states. Does Sameera have any regrets? Not having her girls start gymnastics early enough—they began just three years ago. She is determined that her youngest, Maya, will start as early as possible: at the young age of four.
How does this mama feel about the time commitment? “It’s hard sometimes; I don’t have a lot of time between school, studying and gymnastics,” she admits, “but I’m happy; it’s no problem for me.” Glancing at her daughters, she says: “I will support them in everything they like to do if it’s good for them.” When asked if her support will continue into their teenage years, she answers without hesitation: “Of course!”