One of my mom's favorite movies is E.M. Forster's "A Room with A View" Two quite famous British actresses, much younger than they are now starred in it: Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham Carter. I remember liking the movie many moons ago, when I was less aware and naive. However, I probably would not like it at present with a more conservative world view. Despite the fact, that I may not care for the Literature, the title is rather catchy. . . and besides, who wouldn't want a room with a view?
Well, I had that and more this weekend, I had a Sister's (Muslim Women) Retreat for 3 days in a resort village in Virginia with a View. Alhumdulilah. It was superb, the sisters were superb, the food was superb, and having time to myself was superb. God is so much better than Superb, He is Supreme.
Besides the singing, there was another sister I connected to at the retreat because of homeschooling. She shared some beneficial information and it is always great to talk to another intellectual. She has written some curriculum on the Ottoman empire and other Islamic history and was willing to email it to me. She talked to me about my children and how I should make sure that I check in with them and ask them about their needs. She reminded me that homeschooling is not for everyone. This triggered my thoughts on being focus on the goals and not so much on the ideals. I can get sidetracked by the ideals and InshaAllah, God Willing, this school year will be about being more goal focused. I do need to put that on my prayer list, so it remains my constant du'a. I really did gain alot from being in her company, however, the best part of meeting her was that she shared a book she was reading, A Journey to God with Ibn Ata' Illah by Jasser Auda. The only problem is that I could not find the book in the US, although the first 80 pages can be downloaded free from Jasser Auda, his website. I was devouring that book, there are 29 chapters for each day of Ramadan. Each day serves as a reminder and a way to purify the heart.
Depending on the Madhab or school of Islamic law you follow, Muslim women are not required to pray in congregation as the men are and in some Madhab women are discouraged to pray in a women only congregation. Many times, I would pray solo on my prayer rug in the quietness of the loft. Although, many of my actions could have been viewed as anti-social, I really just needed the seclusion that being in a retreat allowed me. I was tired, emotionally and physically and I wanted to sleep, do my hair (which is a luxury for me), and spend quiet times praying to God and reading books that would bring me closer to God. On Saturday Morning, two groups of sisters left on different adventures, one group went on a hike and the other to a flea market and I had the chateau to myself. It was the best couple of hours that I have had in a long time, just so peaceful and serene. Another luxury, this homeschooling mom of 4 rarely gets.
We had one sister, that I called the drill sergeant, she really wasn't that bad. She was just a fantastic leader, that not only kept the sisters on their prayers, reading our Juz and in remembering Allah, she encouraged physical fitness also. She made smoothies with avocado and other greens and organized the Saturday hiking trip. She made this awesome kale salad and please believe me when I tell you that she massaged that Kale to perfection. There were other yummy food also, like a great fruit salad, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Moroccan pancakes, Blueberry pancakes, and Salmon. It was definitely a multi-cultural group of women and it was represented in the food and talk. I learned so much more about Jamaica, Morocco, and Kenya. Actually the sister from Kenya, had many great stories that I really enjoyed listening to and laughing to. The whole chateau was filled with laughter much of the time. It really was a beautiful time with the most loveliest of sisters and this final picture tells it all.
* Preparation for Ramadan
* Ramadhan Interior Decoration
* Ramadan for Intelligent People
* Gingerbread Masjid
* I'm Fasting
* Ramadan for Children
* A Retreat with a View
* The Post of Eid Past (yes, this title was influenced by Charles Dickens)
* Eid al Fitr 2012