Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My jouney to veganism and my Islamic perspective

It's very dark and cold here and I would SO much rather be sleeping than blogging but it seems that if I want to get this written now is going to be my only chance. Once the kids get up that is usually my only alone time gone for the day..... It seems my little man has some kind of sensor that wakes him up when I am having suhoor (he only wakes up when I am preparing food and every other time he sleeps through) and once he sees me eating he starts yelling (he literally yells at me in his baby babbling) for me to give him food lol even if he has his own food he still only wants mine. Anyway today he has slept through for once alhamdulillah and so I get to write this blog post which I have been meaning to for such a long time now.

I have been a vegetarian for 16 years now and it started off because as a child I was so grossed out at the thought of eating dead animals, everyone thought it was a phase that I would get over as I came from a huge meat eating family but to my family's shock it was most certainly not. The thing is that being vegetarian didn't make my lose any weight at all, I was still the chubby child I had always been and the problem kind of got worse as I got older even though I was eating far less calories than my friends were eating.

When I hit 24 I was at my largest I had ever been by a long shot, I weighed very, very close to three hundred pounds whilst eating a vegetarian diet, proof that it is possible to be morbidly obese and a vegetarian. Anyway to cut a long story short I first started by adopting a vegan diet and walking three days a week for an hour and a half and I was watched in amazement as the pounds just fell off even though I was eating more food than ever. After I lost the first 30 pounds I started belly dancing classes and eventually I took up running and with all of these factors combined managed to weigh less than I did when I was 12.

When I was pregnant however I started eating dairy again, I was so unhappy and one of my only comforts was in food and as a result I gained far more than I definitely should have! Cheese and chocolate are not kind to me.

However when I converted to Islam and when people found it I didn't eat meat or dairy or wheat it was like a slap in the face to them, they took it sooooo personally and to heart. As one blogger put it "It's like they think it is the sixth pillar of Islam" I have had so many like hour long debates with people, I have even been accused of not being a Muslim because of it! Others tell me it is a huge act of haram to be a vegetarian and it goes on and on.

I really don't get this attitude, I don't care what people eat actually, if they choose to stuff their faces with 10 cheeseburgers then it is not be job to argue that with them, it is their body and their choice and none of my business actually. I have never or will ever state that eating meat is haram however I don't think the cultural attachment of eating huge quantities of meat is the best idea for anyone. There are narrations in fact from Imam Ali (as) discouraging the eating of too much meat.  “Don’t let your stomach become a graveyard for animals” is one; “Eating meat excessively will harden your heart” is another.

I recently watched the documentary knives over forks and it made me think what the heck am I doing by risking my health once again and it was straight back to the vegan diet. But the health issues aside I started to look alot more into treatment of animals who are sent for slaughter but mostly the dairying cows took my interest. I always found it ironic how people would go to huge lengths to ensure they would make sure their meat is halal but at the same time they would happily eat eggs which came from hens that were caged (as we know these hens lead a horrendous, painful, torturous life) if a food has been produced by measures of extreme cruelty , does it make it halal? Well I am not alone in my thinking that because of the mandates of being kind to animals in Islam then most probably it isn't. 

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. (Sura 6:38)

“A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.”

“He who takes pity {even} on a sparrow and spares its life, Allah will be merciful on him on the Day of Judgment.”

“Allah (God) will not give mercy to anyone, except those who give mercy to other creatures.

As I looked more into this dairying aspect and I pored over hours of photos and websites and books I became more and more convinced that this was something I could never take a part in ever again. The following is just a small segment taken from a reputable website.

Because dairy cows are milked so excessively,  dairy cows have increased risks of teat diseases like mastitis. Symptoms of mastitis include include hot, swollen, acutely painful udders, fever, and loss of appetite. When a cow has mastitis her udder may become so inflamed that it is as hard as a stone, and blood bubbles into her milk, which becomes clotted and watery 12. Severe cases of mastitis can kill a cow in less then 24 hours. Modern dairy cows have been bred for milk production to the point where the teats of their enlarged udders dangle close to the ground, and become muddy and infected. 13

Although tail docking is not as common in cattle as in sheep, the tails of some dairy cows are amputated using a tight rubber ring, or a searing iron, in order to “improve comfort for milking personnel, and enhance milking efficiency,” 13 or to try and stop mastitis. However, the scientific evidence for mastitis prevention is inconclusive. A US study by researcher Dan Weary found no health benefits in chopping off cows’ tails. 14

Amputation is very painful, as the cow’s tail is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. Cows need their tails to swat away insects, and possibly to communicate with other cows. Docked cows try in vain to flick their tail stumps, and are likely to suffer from neuropathic pain, similar to the “phantom limb” pain experienced by human amputees. 16  Cattle may also be branded for identification.

Calves are often dehorned to prevent damage or bruising to their carcass during slaughter. Calf's may be dehorned with bolt cutters, scoop dehorners or a butchers saw. This causes pain, bleeding and exposure of the frontal sinuses in older animals. 13 The pain can last 6 hours after dehorning. 15 Dehorning is often done without the use of anaesthetics.

I seriously believe that if our Prophet (saw) was to see this inhumane and cruel treatment he would just not stand for it, yet by drinking dairy am I not supporting it just the same?

For those worried that I somehow am depriving myself or my children of calcium, dairy companies continually promote dairy products for calcium and bone health. However dairy products are actually quite low in calcium, compared to foods like soy milk, almonds, nuts, apricots, broccoli, figs, and tofu.In fact, one serving of sesame seeds has almost double the calcium as a glass of cows' milk and one serving of soymilk has almost 100 milligrams more calcium then a serving of cows' milk.

I understand this is a controversial subject and I am talking about my own belief sytem for myself. Any comments that I deem disrespectful or inappropriate will be deleted. If you feel the need to tell me how I am making something haram which is halal (which I have clearly stated I am not) then I suggest you write your own blog post about it and tell me about it never.

On a lighter note I am off to make Egyptian Pumpkin pie

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup mixed chopped nuts (I use almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp plain flour or corn flour (for a GF option)
  1. This step is optional: lightly toast the nuts in a pan on medium heat until just golden.
  2. Mix the chopped nuts, raisins cinnamon, nutmeg and agave together to make the filling.
  3. To make the almond creme bechamel, whisk the flour into the almond milk and add the vanilla essence in a pan. Bring to the boil and stir continuously until it thickens – add more almond milk or some water if too thick.
  4.  Grease a baking dish with coconut oil and layer half the pumpkin mix on the bottom, cover with the nut mixture, and add the rest of the pumpkin on top.
Depending on how big of a portion you’re making, you could have several alternating layers.
Add the almond creme bechamel on top, and bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, 

Hae a beautiful and blessed day xxx


Monday, 11 June 2012

Fasting through depression

This photo was taken just a few minutes walk from my house, I have found for me to stay uplifted then there is nothing better for me than walking, and I find to be near water particularly helpful as it helps me to be more reflective.

It scares me to think of living in a country with no bodies of water.....

I have made it no secret in the past that my whole life before converting to Islam I suffered from very bad depression, in fact a few months before becoming a Muslim I had a complete mental breakdown where I could no longer eat, shower or sleep for that matter. The day I said my shahadah was the day I stopped taking my anti depressants and sleeping medication.

I have had many times since then where I have felt down or sad but not the kind where I can't stop crying, can't get out of bed or want to end my life alhamdulillah and I plan on keeping it that way.

Mental illness is not shameful, it is not about trusting in Allah more, it is not something the person suffering from it can control anymore than say having cancer or a broken leg. I see a lot of stigma about mental illness and I think people fear what they don't understand but that is no excuse for ridicule.

I want to share something I found last year from Dr Bilal Philip's website, I will post it here but will provide the link anyway. I use this as a prevention is better than cure but I myself in my extensive searching have not managed to find anything that works as well as this.


The steps for a “Fast” cure for depression.
 1. Do a complete focused fast on Mondays and Thursdays.
a) Get up Read in Arabic and English – Inna fee Khalqis samaawati wal Ard (Aali Imraan, 3:191-end) and crying.
b) Make a focused wudoo and Tahajjud followed by
c) a very light Suhoor (brown bread, olives and extra virgin olive oil + 2 table spoons full of canned tuna or one egg) followed by
d) a day of focused sunnah and Fard prayers
e) Utilize throughout the day any of the prophetic du’aas requesting ease like: “Allahumma laa sahla illaa maa ja’altahu sahlaa (O Allah, nothing is easy except what you make easy) wa anta taj’alus sa’ba in shi’ta sahlaa (And You can make what is difficult easy if You wish)
f) as well as the other du’aas for depression like: Allaahumma rahmataka arjoo falaa takilnee ilaa nafsee tarfata ‘ayn. wa aslih lee sha’nee kullah. Laa ilaaha illaa Ant.  (O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so don’t leave me in charge of my affairs even for the blinking of an eye. And rectify all of my affairs for me. Nothing has the right to be worshipped except You. See  Hisnul Muslim – the Muslim Fortress for more).
g) Then break the fast with 3 dates and a glass of water and pray maghrib,
h) Have a light Iftaar followed by a focused Ishaa,
The depression should begin to lift, if not go altogether from the very first day of the Fast cure. It will work if you do it believing with all your heart, strongly that this prophetic formula WORKS and the degree to which it does work depends on how seriously you take it and apply it.

Have a beautiful and blessed week xxx

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Why I deleted my old blog

Some of you may wonder what happened and why I deleted all of my old posts and pictures etc

There are two reasons actually.

The first one is that the woman who started this blog more than a year ago and the woman who writes this blog now are two very different people. A year ago I was in so much emotional pain I felt like I couldn't breathe, like I was drowning and I wouldn't make it. I didn't really believe that blessings could come through trials but I knew at the same time it was a promise that Allah makes and I wanted so badly to trust in that. Each day dragged by like a year and the only thing that got me through apart from Allah swt was my blog friends, a few in particular made all the difference for me.

And then my baby boy came and he was like sunshine flooding into my life, even if things were falling down around me it didn't matter because I had him. I'm pretty sure no one got a better Eid present than me last year ;) And after that things got better and better, in late October I  got a house that I literally wouldn't of ever dreamed of having and just a three weeks after that something else came into my life that made up for every bad thing that ever happened to me. Maybe one day I'll tell you all about it :)

And now I look back and I don't want those posts lingering around for my son to read one or actually for even me to remember, it takes me back to a time that I would rather not focus on. I am grateful for that time in my life because it showed to me just how much Allah loves us, he truly is the ever merciful. But now there are new things to focus on, I wont forget my past but I will not dwell on it.  

The second reason is because of the evil eye. I wont go into this too much but I learned the hard way through my now defunct private blog and mistakes I made after that too much sharing information is not always a good thing, sadly not everyone is as happy for us as we would hope they are. It's not something we should become paranoid about but I think discretion about certain issues is not a bad thing really.

I will always keep my blog address though because if there is one thing I have truly learnt and believe with all my heart is that Allah truly does give our sweetest blessings through trials.