Jul 6, 2009


Someone once said, I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer." I think that there is some truth to these words. But for me I would say "I accept my past, I try to live in the present, I'm not ashamed of what I've been through, and I am sad because I may have it no longer. We should not be ashamed of the life we have come from because it has made us who we are today, we should look forward to the present because only Allah knows what is in store. Life is full of unexpected changes and when they happen sadness can over take us. But we are suppose to appreciate the good we have enjoyed.
Things have changed for me and my life and I will be leaving Medina very soon. I hope it is only temporary I would be very sad never to return and see Mecca or Medina again. But during this time away I will be happy to see missed family and even some friends. Until I return I pray that you have enjoyed my blog and found it of some usefulness. I thank those who supported me in this and those who emailed,posted comments, sent questions and sincere encouragement.

As salamu alaikum rahmatu Allah wa Baraktu

Jul 2, 2009


As salamu alaiki summer vacation has begun here and everyone is heading home to their respective countries of origin or making travel plans to visit some other place. I myself have been on mental vacation for 3 weeks now just dealing with I guess what people would call "home sickness" for a lack of a better word. In the last week I have cooked chicken cheese steaks, potato salad and french toast. Dishes that must reflect my feelings of missing family and friends. trying to return to visit America at this time of year without advance reservations is almost impossible if you want a reasonable price. Those of us who are not taking a holiday as they say go on with our regular routine and enjoy Medina even still. I did attend a farewell party for a dear sister who is returning to America for good. She will be missed. After 8 years in Medina I wonder how she will adjust to returning to America. I did receive several emails and I apologize in advance because I was unaware I had. Some readers would like to know the cost of several things here in Medina like cars and apartments etc.. I will do my best to address your questions. I honestly do not know how expensive or not cars are. I do know that the variety of vehicles here are the same as the West you can purchase anything from a hummer to small Toyota. Most apartments are unfurnished which means you install your lighting, kitchen sink, hot water tanks and kitchen cabinets. This time of year hot water tanks are not need to much because the main tank is outside on the roof and the heat makes even your cold water run very warm. There are furnished apartment but I am not aware of the cost. I have recently visited a few friends and every one's apartments are so nice mashaAllah. Housing here is generally very spacious the apartments in our building are 3 bedrooms,2 1/2 bathrooms and 2 living rooms 1 for women 1 for men as well as an eat in kitchen. I have seen much larger and of course somewhat smaller. Many of the older housing is larger but maybe not as fancy. But when you arrive you can see all of the new developments that are under construction everywhere. Like so many parts of the world new developments are on going. I hope this is helpful to some who are expecting to arrive.

Jun 7, 2009


As Salamu Alaiki
It has been said that pictures say a thousand words. So I will allow the photos to speak to you about our visit back to Mecca. I have posted a slide show of some pictures that I enjoy very much. I recently was able to experince my first Jummah prayer in Mecca at the Haram. To say the least the experince was breath taking. Being present in Mecca on a Friday is unbelieveable. The masses of people are like no other place. Mecca and Medina are key centers in Islamic history both hold an unspeakable beauty.

May 29, 2009

Somethings to do

Outdoor park near my house

Well another weekend has come and gone so quickly. The weekend being Thursday and Friday usually takes some getting used to coming from the US. Many of my friends say that even after years of being in Medina it still takes some getting used to. It always feels like the weekend when the kids some friends and I spent some time in Al Nur mall. Al Nur mall has many of the retail stores that you would find in the US. Familiar names as GAP, New York&Co, H&M and Aldo are through out this large bi-level mall. Of course there are other stores that are reflective of the Arab retail world where you can buy anything from an Abayah to household goods. Generally after Asr salah on the weekends the malls are very congested with a parking lot full of cars and teens roaming in and out of stores and hanging out in the food court. Everyone who needs to find anything from a new outfit or a wedding gift. But isn't that the case all over the world? Many people ask what are prices like ?Are clothes more expensive? My answer is honestly I do not see a great difference in the cost. If I purchase a long skirt for $100SR at the current rate of money now that equates to approx. $26.66USD this is a great deal in my opinion. Some items that I would find very difficult to find in the US like a long skirt without a high split or a split at all is very easy here. Yesterday the mall was having some small sales offering 10% off as we all know is not much help in these economic times. But all in all we enjoyed ourselves munching on fries from KFC, sipping milkshakes and watching the kids on the rides. Oh yes, many of the malls have indoor amusement parks with a monorail that circles the food court, ice skating ring or roller blade ring which ever you decide, a roller coaster and host of other rides to many to name. Alhumduliah it is very family oriented and keeps the smaller children busy along with offering protection from the sun something that the outdoor parks (as fun as they also can be) lack. We usually go to the outdoor parks in the evening after mahgrib.

indoor amusement park

Coming from the US and living in the land of the Muslims you start to appreciate little things like being able to enjoy a day out with the kids and still be able to break to make salah in the musellah at mall. MashaAllah just little things like this would be so nice in the US especially in large cities like NYC, Washington DC and Phildelphia where the Muslim population is so large. You are either forced to delay the salah, praying in you car, finding a dressing room or I would many times just wait until after Zhur salah to go out so that I would have several hours before Asr prayer would come in. All of these options become the norm when living in the US depending on various factors like personal time limits placed on you by other responsibilities like work or even your spouse. There many things to do here in Medina from visiting the historical areas like Mt.Uhud, Al Haram, Masid Quba and Qiblatan or simple things like a picnic in the park, coffee or tea at Starbucks or a cafe, amusement parks, shopping in the mall or going swimming. Activities are offered for both men and women and for families as a group. The local universities offer conferences on health and business and sitting in on a Daroos from a well known imam or scholar in Islam can be found in the Haram or Masjids throughout the city. For many just a simple gathering at a family member or friends home for tea and conversation will do.
Womens musellah in the mall

May 24, 2009

16 in Medina

I must apologize I know it seems like forever since I have kept you posted on things here in Medina. I have no excuse other than the daily routine of my life the unrelenting heat of the desert is draining me. Summer is approaching with no mercy. The heat is one of the many things that for some is very hard to cope with. My 16 year old is one of them. I decided to spend this blog sharing her experience and that of some of her friends. I think it is important for anyone who is considering moving to Medina with older children to understand what hurdles you may or may not encounter moving a teenager to KSA. Deciding on an highschool is the common problem many of us encounter. Highschool for a non arabic speaking teen falls into 2 options a priviate international school that uses an American curriculm and English is the primary language, governement school "public" which is a total emersion into all Arabic or homeschooling which can be a problem if you later decided to place them outside the home. Public or private will not recognize homeschoolers as far as placing them in the correct grades. From a parent's prospective moving a teenager to KSA can be ideal concept for other reasons. The knowledge that your teen will not be in same sex classrooms or even exposed to same sex schools (in most cases) or bombarded with negative images about Muslims. Intermingling that plagues the West and many other countries is almost non existent in KSA. I do not want to give an impression of a perfect or even a flawed society. It is easy to fall into a sense of false security about good and bad in Medina. This is true and I have to admit I am guilty of having these same feelings of protection from the outside world but of course there are always exceptions and teens who rebel no matter how religious the family is or is not. All parents must continue to make dua for their children and remind them that the growing pains of a teenager are just one phase of life. We have met teens who have lived in Medina some a few years others their entire lives. One thing that I have learned is teens (girls in particular) are a universal breed no matter the economic background whether they grew up in a large house or small flat, if they are home schooled, attend public or private school they pretty much enjoy just hanging out with friends, walking the malls and are concerned with all the latest fashions. People are a product of their environment and female teens in Medina are influenced by the culture of this country in many ways. From the way they wear hijab to the way they think about marriage and college.
Within a few months of arriving here and getting settled in my 16 year old expressed that she was bored (as every teenager in the world is) and that her daily routine of homeschooling and Quran class was not enough she wanted to socialize with others her age. Once upon a time being a teenager myself I sympathized, she was right we had just moved thousands of miles from what she knew leaving behind friends that she could only communicated with through emails as well as handling a full 10 grade schedule. I decided to email some of my new friends here in Medina and ask if they new of anyone who had daughters in her age range because unfortunately many of the families we had met their daughters were very young or they lived in other cities. After a few weeks I got a call from a friend telling me about a sister who had 2 daughters almost the same age as mine, the family had been in Medina for several years and their daughters were homeschooling also and we set up a meeting for lunch and the girls alhumdulih hit it off beautifully. Like some many other things here it is important to network and allow yourself to be open to others. Meeting other American families at first seemed difficult at times we felt as if we were the only Americans in Medina.
A family friend and his daughter come to visit sometimes but because they live in another city it is not very often. I have learned so much from this young lady about Saudi culture, education and sometimes racism. I find her very interesting being an American raised in Saudi almost since birth. Her Arabic is as flawless as her English. Also 16 she shares with me that life in Saudi is fun and she enjoys spending time with Americans whenever she gets a chance. Most of her friends are Arab but feels a close relationship with the community of Americans because many of them grew up together attending the same schools or living in the same neighborhoods. Even though she has visited Egypt and Europe she has not returned to the West since she was 3 she admits she has no desire to return but still has memories of several family members, the Flinstones and Brittney Spears lol. Just like some other teens she wants to travel the world attend college and has mixed feeling about getting married. Being only in 9th grade she has plenty of time to reconcile those feelings but her passion for reading fiction books and hanging out with her friends are pretty typical. "I still act very American I think, but that's ok I like who I am. I'm very popular at school because I am American".
My own daughter says " Allah is known for giving rewards, my best reward from him was living in Medina".

May 11, 2009


View of the city
Many of my moments in Medina are just little things I find moving, mesmerizing or motivating. Today was a day not unlike many others alhumdulilah Allah allowed us to wake to offer the fajr prayer, we prepared the children for school as we do all the time. I walked my daughter to school this morning but as we walked I felt the cool Medina breeze that so many speak about when coming here. During the winter months the temperature can be cool and you will have the nicest breeze in the mornings sometimes even the need for a sweater or light jacket may be necessary. The smell in the air was different the usual but because of the morning traffic and daily rush I wonder if others also took notice to the slight difference in the atmosphere. I told my husband it is such a nice morning but still a little warm. Later on in the morning through Allahs mercy we were able to enjoy the benefits of rain. Rain is one of those many blessings you began to really appreciate because it is so rarely experienced here in the desert. To the best of my recollection this is the second rain we have in about 7 months. The first rain I experienced here in Medina was a small storm that lasted several days it caused some flooding in many areas, mudslides and rock slides it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. I was told it was the first in years (Allah knows best). In Medina it is not uncommon to hear the Imams make dua for rain in the fajr salahs. The rain brings a welcomed coolness that can be missed in temperatures that can easily reach over a hundred degrees in May. The children ans I began or walk to class this afternoon deciding to take on the drizzle as we walked towards school but after a few minutes the drops began to come down at a faster pace and drench the ground suddenly we retraced our steps back home to escape that rain. All I could think about was sitting on the steps and letting the drops hit my face. Theses are small reminders to increase making dua. The weather in Medina is pretty constant there are winter months like December and January when the temperature is cool in the mornings and late in the evenings in comparison to the West it is still very warm for that time of year. The long time residence here say Medina has 2 months of winter. Areas like Jeddah and Mecca are almost always warm. Lately according to the Internet the last few days temperatures have been reported at 30 degrees Celsius(approx.86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the mornings. Even one day last week was reported to be 106 by the afternoon. Yes it can be very hot but this is an easy adjustment for most. Because of the extreme temperatures this is a society that does most of its business after asr when the sun is declining. Most appointments are made after then. Stores open, and the city comes to life in so many words after asr salah even more so during the month of Ramadan. I will never forget when my husband said the children had a dentist appointment once at midnight. Some say the day is night and the night is day.
The Royal palace from afar

Al Haram before and after prayer