For the love of the ICNYU Gala

program for the evening

program for the evening

On Sunday February 23rd, The Islamic Center at New York University (ICNYU) held a fundraiser gala to mark 35 years. I attended with one of my friends. Living in NYC my whole life I bumped into many friends and familiar faces that evening. It was a black tie event and everyone looked fab!

Sadia, Amira and I

Sadia, Amira and I

I graduated 6 years of pharmacy school back in 2007 from St Johns University and directly after was distracted by huge milestones in my life including licensing exams, starting a job,  hajj, pregnancy, birth of my first son, pregnancy and birth of my second son etc. During this time, I felt disconnected with my Islamic community mostly because I didn’t have enough time to attend events and my university- St Johns University rarely held events or I would not get notifications of these events.

ICNYU holds tons of events and I always knew when they were having events due to emails, facebook and word of mouth. I have attended lots of different events in the past. I have been familiar with ICNYU for over a decade, since back when I was in college and because my elder sister attended NYU. More recently I started coming to events at NYU and I never ever felt out of place. The Muslim community at NYU is so diverse and welcoming and it truly depicts Muslims across America. This is one reason why I wanted to attend this fundraiser. The IC at NYU caters to the Muslim population in NYC and it caters to it well.

Laila and Bari

Laila and Bari- the founding members of the IC at NYU. They were both presented with an award

Below are pictures of highlights from the event also including pics of my friends and I and unnecessary solo shots of myself. My apologies in advance.

 

Preacher Moss and I

Preacher Moss and I

Preacher Moss provided laughs towards the end of the evening.

The man of the hour- Khalid Latif- and he's looking exceptionally tall

The man of the hour- Khalid Latif- and he’s looking exceptionally tall

oh, it makes sense now

oh, it makes sense now :)

 

cool cats- Ismail and Khalid. Ismail took the previous 2 pictures

Ismail and Khalid. Ismail took the previous 2 pictures

With Sumaiyah, one of the organizers of the event

With Sumaiyah, one of the organizers of the event

**Up to date, they raised $130,000 from the fundraiser Mashallah. If you were not able to attend and still want to donate, you can donate to the IC at NYU here.

kaftan

kaftan

 

I wore a kaftan which I just purchased from my recent trip to Dubai. I blogged about my trip and you can read all about it here. This beaded and jeweled kaftan was only $40! I thought this gala would be the perfect opportunity to wear it. This Kaftan has light shoulder pads which enhances the shape and flow of the dress. It’s very loose but it has an inside tie belt which practically makes it one size fits all.

 kaftan

kaftan

I paired the kaftan with a turban hijab. This turban hijab was unique because I used 2 cloths. The green cloth on the turban is perfectly matching my kaftan because it was the extra pieces that I had to get hemmed from the bottom of the kaftan because it was extremely long. The 2 inch extra cloth was perfectly wrapped in the gold turban hijab and made both the turban and kaftan complement each other. The heavy detailed neckline required no necklace because that would be excessive.

Ayesha and I

Ayesha looking stunning in silver!

Nabila, Fariqua and I looking black tie event ready

Nabila, Fariqua and I looking black tie event ready

 

my date for the evening

my date for the evening

 

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last one, I promise

last one, I promise

Thanks for reading! Xoxo

For the love of HijabFest

(This post should be properly titled: For the love of HijabFest and Getting Over My Fear Of Public Speaking but I decided due to the longevity I wouldn’t use that as my title. But that’s exactly what this post is)

Hijabfest

Hijabfest

New Brunswick Islamic Center (NBIC) hosted its first ever HijabFest in New Jersey this past Sunday. I was invited to give a small presentation on modest fashion. I agreed. I thought it would be more of a workshop on the side and I didn’t realize I would be on stage front and center. One of my greatest fears is public speaking. I despise it. I get nervous, start sweating, stammering, shaking etc. It’s not a pleasant sight to see and it’s quite embarrassing actually. Some people are scared of heights, bugs, spiders, whatever it may be and public speaking is it for me. Friends and classmates can attest to this fact and they all say it’s the strangest thing because it doesn’t fit my personality at all. For whatever reason, it is what it is. I decided not to cancel after realizing I would be front and center because I had already given my word. I debated taking drugs to calm my nerves but I don’t like taking prescription drugs unless it’s very necessary and so I decided against it. (OTC drugs are a different story. If you have a minor ache, pain or fever take a Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Or take two. You will feel great afterwards)

Upon arrival, Hijabfest was a sold out event (it sold out a few days before the event) and the entire area was buzzing. It was a smaller venue so it was pretty full to capacity. There was a great fashion show from some of the designers there. Each designer showcased 3 looks. I captured a few of them but it was hard to because I was running in and out because I had to make arrangements for my presentation. Some of the designers at the event included: Kotton Love, May Ade Designs, True Faith Apparel, Bulbul, Laila’s Collection, Unique Hijabs, and Amirah Couture. I especially loved the jilbabs from Bulbul, the scarves from kottonlove and I loved the variety and affordability of the hijabs at Al-Mujalbaba.

There was some enlightening speeches which were great everyday reminders. It was a well thought out, well organized event and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

 

Uniquehijabs and their models

Uniquehijabs and their models

 

designer and her models

designer and her models

 

Kottonlove and her models

Kottonlove and her models

My presentation was scheduled for 3:45 and at about 2:30 I met backstage with my models, one of them being my sister. I was going to present 4 outfits and 2 hijab tutorials. I got all the girls dressed in coordinating outfits and hijabs from my personal collection. Then it was showtime. I was shaking, my heart was beating through my chest and I couldn’t even stand. I took a seat behind stage while I was being introduced. My sister and all the models were so supportive and told me to relax and calm down and breathe slowly. That helped a bit. I wanted to turn around and run (just kidding?) but obviously I knew I couldn’t. So there was no turning back, indeed it was showtime.

Prior to HijabFest, I went over what I wanted to say a few times and I went over it with a friend the night before. I didn’t write anything out because that tends to make me more nervous. So I just winged it. No papers, no index cards, no cellphone and I just did it. I was nervous and my voice did stammer at times and when it was done I realized my presentation was 20 minutes long! It was so much easier than in school because this wasn’t a report and I wasn’t getting a grade on it. Also, I was doing something I take pleasure in so that must have made it easier. I was thoroughly impressed with myself. Alhamdulilah. I may have overcome one of my fears in doing something I enjoy. How wonderful! :)

I met some great girls from NYC and NJ. I added some backstage pics with my models and some pics during the presentation on my instagram account @sanahrashid. You can check that out here.

 

here you can see the beautiful flow of the dress

here you can see the beautiful flow of the dress

My Outfit Of The Day (OOTD) details:

Maxi Dress: Loft. I bought it on sale for $28. It has a flowy fall and a black braided rope tie as a belt.

Turtleneck: H&M

Jersey Hijab wrapped like a turban: purchased at ISNA convention

Summer scarf: Loft

Beaded matching brace cuffs: Arden B

Bag: Rebecca Minkoff with rosegold tone hardware and spike details

*This is one of the first times I have experimented with mixing 2 different prints. If they are of similar colors you can totally do it. I think it perfected the outfit by giving it a casual trendy look. What are your thoughts on mixing prints?

hijabfest

hijabfest

 

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For the love of an Iftar Party

husband and I

husband and I

Iftar is the meal eaten at sunset by Muslims. At the end of your long day of fasting, it’s such a blessing to break your fast with loved ones. Iftar parties are the festive and fun part of Ramadan. When people break their fast by food you provide, the host or sponsor gets loads of blessings. This is a major incentive to hold an iftar and it is encouraged to do so. Iftar parties are great because religion is the main focus of the get together.

before we left for the iftar. full outfit details at the bottom

before we left for the iftar. full outfit details at the bottom

2 weeks ago, I held a small iftar party at my in laws house for about 15 girls (not including the 9 kiddies!). It was a great girls only party and we were all able to enjoy the pool for a few hours before breaking our fast. The weather didn’t comply and even through the rain everyone still enjoyed themselves. My mother in law cooked up tons of eats and many of my friends brought food and specialty drinks as well. It was great to see my closest friends. Also, my husband was out of town. He was actually in Makkah because he went to perform Umrah and it was a lonely 8 days without him so it was great to meet up with my girls.

full outfit details at the bottom

full outfit details at the bottom

One of my cousins held an iftar this weekend. I was speaking to his wife who is having her first Ramadan in America this year. She married my cousin in Pakistan in December (you can read about my Pakistan trip here). She mentioned that she enjoyed Ramadan more in America than in Pakistan. That struck me as so odd. Pakistan is predominately a Muslim country so how could it possibly be more enjoyable in America? She went on to say that Ramadan is made a bigger deal in America because you get to see so many different groups of friends in different atmospheres. Iftars are held at local colleges, community centers, masjids, house parties and parties at restaurants as well. Also you go to different masjids for tarawih. In Pakistan, it’s like daily life there but in America, it brings people together and you feel a sense of community. That I would definitely have to agree with.

 

my friend Mehvash and I. I died over her pleated skirt from JCREW collection

my friend Mehvash and I. I was in love with her pleated skirt from JCREW collection

This past weekend one of my friends had an iftar party at her house as well. The food was a full American menu, with BBQ chicken, asparagus, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken pasta, bread, garlic knots and stuffed mushrooms. The party was held outdoors and the decor was phenomenal. I loved the lights and the Ramadan Mubarak signs. It is great to encourage the festive Ramadan feel especially to the young generation who need to love their holidays. It was perfect outdoor weather for an outdoor iftar. Maghrib was prayed in congregation in the backyard as well.

Ramadan Mubarak and lights

Ramadan Mubarak and lights

outdoor setup

outdoor setup

My friend who hosted the iftar also had a small bday party for their daughter who was turning 2 the following day. She shares a birthday with my son. They were both born on the same day in the same hospital. Fun times! A delicious birthday cake was ordered and they bought a cake for my sons’ birthday as well. I loved all the decorations indoors for the cake and the goody bags that were labeled Ramadan Mubarak. Aaisha Shaikh of BakingPartTime also made 2 tarts for the party which were devoured within minutes! (check out her blog for more tasty treats!)

Aaisha and her tarts!

Aaisha and her tarts!

 

 

loving this red turban style hijab

loving this red turban style hijab

 

before we left for the iftar. do you see the jungle growing behind me? the works of my father in laws green thumb

before we left for the iftar. do you see the jungle growing behind me? the works of my father in laws green thumb

 

My Outfit of the Day (OOTD) details:

Cutout top- purchased at Kara. I love this top because its longer in length and the cut out details is a fun twist to a plain tunic. Added bonus, you can wear it without the shirt underneath for a ladies only party and that’s exactly what I did when I attended my friends ladies only bridal shower.

Black turtleneck- H&M. this was worn under the cutout top

White jeans- C Wonder

Belt- Cole Haan purchased at Bloomingdales

Sandals- Boutique 9

**(I was a little under the weather this weekend. Also, this is me in my own skin. This is me with no makeup as I have not worn any makeup during Ramadan.)**

 

The last ten nights are still amongst us. Make the most of it. And have an enjoyable Eid!

 

cheeeese! this would be me in my most natural state!

cheeeese! this would be me in my most natural and normal state! Ha

 

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For the love of a Mom’s Struggle During Ramadan

prayer mats

prayer mats- momma and child

In the past 4 years, the first 3 I haven’t been fasting due to 2 pregnancies and nursing. Last year I was still nursing my son who turned 1 during Ramadan but I did decide to fast. I missed it so much. Without fasting, Ramadan is not the same. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. And it taught me so much self control and humility.

Due to the fact that I was still nursing I kept all 30 fasts with no break. It was complete and utter dedication and I had not experienced a Ramadan like that before. As a female, it’s rare to fast the entire month uninterrupted. Last year was the first year I could not eat but had to provide food for my kids and spouse. It was the first year I actually worked and fasted. I worked some extremely long 13-14 hour shifts and some days back to back. It was the first year I fasted the true summer fasts in the scorching heat. It was the first year and probably the only time I would be nursing and fasting. And even with all of this it still truly was a beautiful Ramadan.

Obviously you could imagine the toll it had on my body. I lost a lot of weight. I simply did not have enough time to eat and I was in a constant state of exhaustion. But I did not miss a single prayer and I carried that habit on for months even after Ramadan.

One large aspect that I missed out on and I know many mothers also miss out on is tarawih prayer. I hated the fact that I could not perform tarawih but it was impossible with my 1 and 3 year old. I did attend tahajjud prayer a few times because, well that’s the only time I had to myself. The kids were asleep and my husband was home in case they woke up. These tahajjud prayers brought me to tears. After kids I feel like there is a constant struggle with kids and quality prayer time. This is definitely a reason why my Umrah trip a few months prior holds so dear to my heart. I was able to completely indulge in worship without having to worry about the kids because I knew they were in good hands.

Why is it that women love attending tarawih prayer even though we get the same reward while praying at home? Personally, I have better concentration at the masjid and I don’t have to worry about the kids running around (my kids sleep late) and when you are at the masjid your time is devoted to staying there to finish tarawih. It forces you to set aside time for prayer. At home, I tend to remember a million things that need taking care of instead of praying. Also, by the time my husband and I are done putting the kids to bed, I’m beat. In regards to attending tarawih prayer, I am aware that it is your personal time with God and that is why I never asked anyone to watch the kids and I always allow my husband to go without debate because that’s his duty.

Yesterday my friends watched my kids and I actually attended tarawih prayer last night. This was the first time in 4 years, the last time being back in 2009 during my first pregnancy. Could you imagine not having prayed a tarawih prayer at the masjid in 4 entire years?! Try to wrap your head around that. If you are on your break or for whatever reason will not be attending tarawih prayer, I strongly encourage you to volunteer to look after one of your friends’ babies/kids and allow her to pray tarawih at the masjid. There will be plentiful rewards for you both. May Allah accept our fasts, prayers, duas and struggles and make the most of this blessed month. Ameen

(Read all about my Umrah trip here.)

 

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For the love of Umrah

The Holy Kabah

The Holy Kabaa

I was given the opportunity to perform Umrah with my husband and just returned back home on Saturday. We did Hajj back in 2008 before my sons were born and this is the first year where I was not pregnant or nursing so I was yearning to go back. We went to Madina first and then Makkah. Madina is where Prophet Muahmmad’s (saw) Masjid is. When we went for Hajj, I don’t believe I realized just how stunning Madina was but I think that has something to do with the fact that during Hajj we went to Makkah first. After the emotional and spiritual high that was felt the first time I ever laid my eyes upon the Holy Kabaa, nothing else could compare. But for Umrah, we went to Madina first and we spent a few relaxing days here and this time I did fall in love with the city of Madina. It’s so serene and calm and you feel so safe. You can walk to Masjid Al Nabawi (Prophets Masjid) anytime you want. Masjid Al Nabawi is immense, it’s so large and opulent. It’s striking in the daytime as well as the nighttime. In the daytime there are these massive umbrella like structures that open and provide shade.

Masjid Al Nabawi at maghrib time

Masjid Al Nabawi at maghrib time

Inside Masjid Al Nabawi. The never ending arches.

Inside Masjid Al Nabawi. The neverending arches.

Masjid Al Nabawi has the green dome and under it is Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) grave. This is also where Riadhul Jannah is. It is said this is the place where a garden is similar to the gardens of paradise and it is signified by the green carpet. It is recommended to pray 2 rakat here. It was extremely hard to do because Madina was so packed when we went and women have allotted times to go but Alhamdulilah I was able to do it. Every single time you are in Masjid Al Nabawi for prayer, the recitation echoes through the masjid, through the courtyard, through the streets and through your soul. The recitation resonates through your body and my heartbeat was racing a million miles a minute. I’m getting chills down my back just thinking of it. Subhanallah.

Green Dome

Green Dome

Last prayer in Madina. Outside of Masjid Al Nabawi for Zuhr prayer

Last prayer in Madina. Outside of Masjid Al Nabawi for Zuhr prayer

While we were traveling from Madina to Makkah, we had a small tour. We visited a few historical sites in and around Madina including Masjid Quba. If you perform 2 rakat prayers here after doing ablution at home, it is said that you have performed one Umrah and of course we took advantage of this and did exactly that. Makkah is the city where Masjid Al Haram is and this is built around the Holy Kabaa.

Sign outside of Masjid Quba

Outside of Masjid Quba

Masjid Al Haram in the day time

Masjid Al Haram in the day time

As soon as we got to Masjid Al Haram we performed Umrah. For Umrah, first you must make intention at the meeqat (designated area outside of Makkah where men put on their Ihram- 2 white unstitched pieces of cloth). We did this on our way to Makkah. Upon arrival in Makkah you must complete one tawaf (7 counter clockwise circuits around the Holy Kabaa) and do Sa’ai which is when you go back and forth between the mountains of Safa and Marwa. Going back and forth between Safa and Marwa shows how much trust Hajjra (Prophet Ibrahim’s wife) had with Allah that she left her son there while going back and forth trying to look for water for her dehydrated and dying son Ismael. She went back and forth between Safa and Marwa seven times and then Zam Zam water sprouted. Zam Zam water has been promised by Allah to have healing properties and is unlimited. After this is completed it is recommended that men shave or trim their hair and women trim their hair by 1 inch. After all of this is complete, you have performed your Umrah.

This was taken outside of Masjid Al Haram after maghrib

This was taken outside of Masjid Al Haram after maghrib

After Umrah was complete we ate burger king (this is an extremely big deal considering America does not have zabihah halal burger king!) and we went back to Masjid Al Haram to do tawaf. Nothing in the world compares to doing tawaf around the Holy Kabaa in Makkah and this is why Makkah is my favorite. For me, Masjid Al Haram is undoubtedly the most gorgeous place in the entire world. There is nowhere in the world that can possibly put my soul at so much ease than here. There are not enough words to describe all the emotions felt while in Makkah. Doing tawaf around the Kabaa is something I pray I will be able to do every single year Inshallah . Such an immense feeling of love, humility and peace. When you are performing tawaf you can smell the ithar (fragrance) on the Kiswah (black silk cloth embroidered in gold which is draped over the Holy Kabaa) as you get near to the golden doors of the Kabaa. While looking at the Kabaa during tawaf, I was in awe but it was impossible to stare at the Kabaa for more than a few seconds. I found it hard to gaze at the Kabaa for more than a few seconds because you are filled with so much humility and are taken aback by the amount of sheer beauty that the Kabaa can hold over you. If there can possibly be a place on earth that can capture your heart, Makkah is it for me.

As I am rereading and editing this post I am getting teary eyed. I know this is an extremely long post but I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Xoxo
-Sana Rashid

me

me

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For the love of Pakistan

From the top of the tower at Wazir Khan mosque in Lahore

From the top of the tower at Wazir Khan mosque in Lahore

 

At the end of December, I took my first ever trip to the country of my birth. Yes, this is an embarrassingly true fact of my life. I was born in Pakistan, and when I was a few months old, I came to America and have never been back till just this December for my cousin’s wedding. My trip was 2 weeks long and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip. Pakistan is so beautiful and it amazes me how the people there are able to do so much even though they have so little.  My one regret is not having more time to see the rest of the country. The wedding took up a lot of time but it was so much fun. All of the pre wedding parties led up to the hype and excitement of the wedding. The flowers, food, arrangements, decor, dance and festivities are not to be missed and I am so happy I was able to see a full-fledged Pakistani wedding in Pakistan. Here are some snapshots of my trip to Pakistan taken from my iPhone. My friends who know me are probably laughing at the title of this post because I don’t speak Urdu and I am so uncultured and so disconnected to Pakistan. This trip definitely brought me a sense of completion with my identity and a greater sense of belonging than before. Oh, and the shopping is out of this world, not comparable to anything else I’ve ever seen!

This is Fort Lahore from inside the arches of the Badhsai Mosque

This is Fort Lahore from inside one of the arches of the Badhsai Mosque

 

 

This was the first time I ever had sugarcane juice. Freshly made and it was delish!

This was the first time I ever had sugarcane juice. Freshly made with lemons and it was delish!

 

This is the Badshai mosque in Lahore.

This is the Badshai mosque in Lahore.

The Badshai mosque is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world.

 

This was my outfit that I wore on my cousins nikkah day.

This was my outfit that I wore on my cousins nikkah day.

Sorry for the horrible crop job but I dont regularly take solo shots! (this trip was before the launch of this blog)

 

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