Organizing and De-cluttering Homes

declutter

When you have to move to new accommodation or get a paint job done in the house, do you feel that there are houses within your house? Whichever closet you open or whichever drawer you slide out, they are stuffed to the brim. You could actually furnish two more dwellings with the amount of things you possess. Well, don’t fret! Most of us get swept away by the tide of materialism. Just read on – help is at bay

Label storage

If you want to find your stow-away, label it – be it cartons, bags, boxes, suitcases, etc. It could have a main heading, such as “winter-wear for kids” followed by maybe three or five names of clothing groups inside, for example: “sweaters, stockings, jackets.” Select the room you want to place the storage in and keep a diary or record of it room-wise. For example: “kid’s bedroom, box 1 – kid’s winter-wear.”

This might seem like a laborious job initially, but you will know exactly where to find stuff even months later. Believe me – it’s worth it, if you want to use your possessions timely!

Keep an inventory check

It is best to consciously observe the things we use the most and in what numbers. For example, if you have loads of outfits gracing your wardrobe, break them into such categories as casual wear, party wear, formal wear, etc., depending upon your real needs (not wants).

Anything beyond your actual need should be considered surplus. You may gift it or donate it to family, friends, servants or the less privileged around you every quarter or even on a monthly basis, if you can.

This assessment will help you keep an inventory check on your belongings. Try this formula for everything you own.

Try the one year retention plan

Sorting and deciding what to keep, what to chuck out and what to give away is a common challenge.

An effective method to resolve this issue is to follow the one year retention plan. Keep your stuff for one year. After that, carefully assess how many times you have used your belongings during that year. If it is frequent, clearly, you are in need of that particular stuff. But if it is seldom, you may reduce its numbers (e.g., crockery). In case you have one annual party every year, you can keep your favourite dinner set and donate the rest. When your party time arrives, order the extra dinnerware from outside. The cost of storage and maintenance of this stuff is greater than the cost of annual rental.

Similarly, this technique will help you identify the stuff you haven’t used at all and can easily part with.

Do not arrange for additional storage space

Believe it or not – not having a big storage space is actually a blessing! You will have all your possessions within sight and efficient usage. Most of the stuff lying in storerooms and warehouses just eats dust and cobwebs, until more room is needed for newer storage and, eventually, the older one is thrown out in a miserable condition.

Make a strict rule for yourself to keep in your closets and cupboards only what you can safely manage. No cellars, basements or store rooms needed.

Broken things are not a bad omen

It takes a great deal of sacrifice to part with our beloved possessions. But caution! This is a real Iman tester. As soon as we are afflicted with some material damage, Satan starts drilling into our head what a calamity has just occurred and spells dooms day!

If things break, just learn to say: “Inna lillah e wa inna ilaihi rajioon.” Allah (swt) had planned for this to happen. Look at it positively – one thing less to be accounted for before Allah (swt). Otherwise, after we die, lying in our graves, we will be held accountable for the tiniest spoon we own, while others would be merrily using all of that stuff we have left behind.

“Sina” – Empower with Honour

Sina

“Hiba” spoke to Mrs. Zartaj Subhani of “Sina – Health, Education and Welfare Trust”, which focuses upon health, education, and social uplift in Pakistan. Mrs. Subhani, along with her colleague, Ms. Iffat, is also running a project under the banner of Sina that empowers women patients who visit the medical facilities running under Sina. 

1. What was the inspiration behind this brainchild and who was in your primary team?

Twelve years ago, a friend of mine suggested that I should start counselling women. I took her advice, and started the counselling. Initially, I was doing it on my own; however, after a while, I realized that most of the issues faced by women were due to a lack of finances. I felt that instead of just giving them handouts, we needed to empower them. A lot of these women could not go out and work due to the stigma in their communities and/or not having caregivers to look after their children. I spread the word around that I needed some volunteers to come and teach these women a skill and to help sell the products that they make. Along came Iffat eleven years ago and, Alhumdulillah, there has been no looking back.

2. What initial challenges did you face and how were they overcome?

We didn’t have any large funds to buy fabric, threads, etc., to invest in this venture. Also, these women were not professional seamstresses, so they did tend to mess up outfits, which we in turn could not sell. That was a drain on our meager funds until, Alhumdulillah, out of the blue, a friend’s husband donated a sizable chunk to really get this venture going. This way, we could afford to build up stock, pay these women much more than the market rate and even give them bonuses for the Eids.

3. Ten years down the road, do you feel the difficulties in empowering these women have reduced or multiplied?

It has definitely helped in empowering these few women that we have taken on. But it is a drop inthe ocean, as we can take on about fifteen women only! Since we just go in once a week and it is just Iffat doing the designing, explaining the stuff to be done, etc., and trying to sell the produce (we don’t have an outlet – selling is done through word-of-mouth from her place), we can’t take on more women. Also, a lot of the women can’t sew and/or embroider, so we need other ladies to come forward to teach them some crafts and then market them. There are too many women and not enough work! It is an uphill task, especially with the cost of living spiraling and their husbands/sons being laid off from factories or not being able to find jobs.

4. Would you like to share one story of success that gave your team immense gratification for the dedicated work you are performing?

Yes, Alhumdulillah! We had this lady come in, who was suffering from tuberculosis. Her husband did not contribute to their expenses – he would only come into their lives every now and then and was physically abusive. She used to work in a factory but, due to her poor health, could not continue.

Her landlady had heard about our clinic and brought her in. She has three children, who were really young at that time, and she had to see to their upbringing, too. Some kind soul was paying for their education, but she did not have enough resources for her day to day living, etc. We took her on and, Alhumdulillah, her daughter finished her matriculation and is now studying privately for her B.Comm and working in our clinic as a paramedic.

Our Trust tries to take on the educated youth from within the community, train them and then place them in our clinics around the city. They are much sought after, as their training involves a wide array of subjects, including communication skills, administration of drips, dressing, checking the vitals, etc. Since we have developed a system of patient records, computerized medical cards and a protocol, which the paramedic has to fill out with each assessment whenever a patient comes in, there is a check and balance, which allows the quality control officer to assess the paramedics and doctors – thus, there is accountability.

Anyway, this lady is now doing the sewing in the neighbourhood and has many clients, while her daughter has now taken on her work with us. Her two younger sons are doing well in school, and in the summer holidays, we enlisted them for summer classes in computers and English, as they were keen to learn. We also put her daughter through similar classes and, Masha’Allah, she plays a large part in helping her mum sustain the family.

5. If you had to advise others to take up a similar project, what would you have to say?

The key to any social work endeavour is consistency, perseverance and patience. There are a lot of well-meaning ladies, who want to help but give up after a while, either because they get bored or don’t think they are making a difference. We have to remember that if we all do something, no matter how small, to help the community, it causes ripples. If we are doing it for Allah (swt), then no deed is small – He sees our efforts and intention and that is of utmost importance. This keeps us in a positive mode and gives us the dedication to carry on with the cause, Insha’Allah. We have to keep in mind that we have to help make them independent and wean them from us gradually, so that they can take on whatever comes their way with a positive attitude.

6. Can your team train other affluent and skilled ladies to adopt your model and make a similar difference elsewhere?

We (“The Mind Health Group”) already did a Counselling Skills workshop for twenty affluent ladies. It was a ten-day workshop with doctors from The Agha Khan University and Hospital, social workers, psychologists, a psychiatrist and volunteers, who were actively involved with the project. On completion, we placed them at our various clinics around the city. Unfortunately, most of them dropped out after a few months due to their various commitments. If a bunch of women can get together, arrange for a venue and give us enough notice, I am sure, Insha’Allah, we can work out something. If there are other, similar/same crafts/skills that they can teach, we can try to arrange for them to use our clinics for getting the access to the women of the community, Insha’Allah.

7. Do you have trained staff to replace the existing team if required?

Alhumdulillah, there are a lot of girls, who are studying psychology, and a lot of women, who know about fashion and have their in-house design studios. It isn’t rocket science; anyone can take over, provided they are dedicated, have empathy and want to help change the world.

8. Having worked with this stratum of society, what is your observation regarding the one critical need of these women?

I can’t pinpoint just one critical need. The closest I can come up with is that they need some sort of education – not necessarily the formal type, but more like Tarbiyah, where they can learn life skills and how to apply them.

After spending many years with them, I have found that one of the main problems (apart from the finances, which is the major one) is that they don’t think out of the box. They have very little motivation to change their lives and get out of the rut they are in. They attribute whatever walls come up in their way, no matter how big or small, as their fate without putting up a fight or finding a solution. This resigned acceptance of their fate makes them complacent and then mentally lethargic. I try to help them come up with solutions for the betterment of their lives, motivate them and get them attached to Allah (swt), but that is done only after they have a comfort level with you and trust you.

9. If you wish to share something additional, please, feel free to do so.

When I go to the clinic every Friday, I really feel that I am so much better off than the majority, and, Alhumdulillah, this brings about a great feeling of Shukr for all that I have been blessed with. I have no reason to complain – ever! Insha’Allah.

Mrs. Subhani can be contacted at: ummefaysal@gmail.com

To learn more about Sina, visit their website: http://www.sina.pk/

In the print edition of the magazine, the name of the organization (“Sina”) has been erroneously mentioned as “Behbud” – the editorial team of Hiba regrets the error.

The Much-Dreaded Report Card

report card

By Imrana Moiz – Mother of four, lead teacher at “Generation’s School”, holder of a diploma from “Association Montessori International” and a certificate from “Agha Khan Institute of Educational Development” in early childhood education.

Children are the coolness of their parents’ eyes. ‘Coolness of eyes’ is an Arabic expression. It means that if someone is deeply depressed, his “eyes are warm” as opposed to a mother whose “eyes are cool” when she cries upon seeing her child after many years.

When the ‘season of tests and exams’ arrives, the entire parent fraternity is bogged down with preparation, stressing themselves and straining their children. The worst arguments arise during this season. As the D-Day approaches, another storm in the box is waiting to explode. Pre-result day talks include: “Wait till you get your report” and the sanctions are all set to be implemented.

The most important thing at stake is the child’s self-esteem, which should be respected in order for him to achieve success in the future. The aim is to help the child develop a balanced personality, which is neither over-confident nor of an individual who thinks very low of himself.

Some positive ways to turn this occasion into a beneficial event are:

  • Publicly discussing the unpleasant will always bring ill feelings and estranged relationship. It is not very hard to choose between result and relationship. A healthy relationship is directly proportional to good results in all the exams of life. This is the only thing which can positively influence an individual’s way of thinking and living.
  • Praise the child for whatever effort he has made. Tell him what you thought worked for him.
  • Irrelevant is the fact that you are about to receive a good or a bad result. The important thing is it could be a ‘teachable’ moment. Discussing what to do next must be of utmost importance, rather than crying over spilt milk or celebrating out of bounds.
  • Help the child to think through the process. An analysis of actions is a reflective task that will help him throughout his life.
  • Sift through the effective and not-so-effective strategies of self-study. A self-study plan is always better, as it provides an intrinsic motivation to the child to keep trying. Remember, we have to help our children to learn how to fish, rather than to provide them with a fish every time they need one.
  • The worst reaction to a below-average result is “I knew this was going to happen!” The esteem-related needs of children are very important in order for them to reach the state of self-actualization.
  • Never compare one child’s result with those of others, whether to yours when you were young, a sibling, a neighbour or a classmate.

When you are about to receive your child’s result, control the sudden flow of adrenalin and let sense prevail. Just think over what you want: a hardened relationship or an improved result. Your reflection on this important question will help you decide what is to be achieved from this moment.

Inspired by a talk of Nouman Ali Khan, the CEO and founder of “Bayyinah”, an Islamic educational institution in the US. He talked about a Dua from Surah Al-Furqan: “…bestow on us from our wives and offspring the coolness of our eyes…” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

To read the rest of this article, purchase this issue of Hiba Magazine from our online store.

Book Reviews (Women Power)

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Title: Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage

Author: Sadaf Farooqi

Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH)

Pages: 195

Availability: Da’wah Books, Khadda Market, DHA Phase 5, Karachi / IIPH Online Store (www.iiph.com.sa)

Are you getting married or know anybody who is about to ‘tie the knot’? Do consider investing in this informative book by Hiba’s seasoned writer, Sadaf Farooqi, who has done extensive Quran and Sunnah based research into the topic of marriage and Muslim family life.

The book consists of nineteen chapters, leading the readers through the full range of family-related topics: lessons for single Muslims, guidelines on marital intimacy and tips for the expecting Muslims, advice for Muslim parents, insights into living in a joint family system and many more. The writer tackles such debated topics as the Hoor al-Een of Paradise and discusses the contemporary causative factors and issues of divorce. The book concludes on a refreshingly optimistic note – you live only once so start living your life.

In this book, you will find an up-to-date comprehensive guide for overcoming the trials of marital life and building a long-lasting, loving relationship between a husband and a wife.

Title: Great Women of Islam (who were given the good news of Paradise)

Author: Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar

Publisher: Darussalam

Availability: Darussalam showroom and online shop

Online: http://d1.islamhouse.com/data/en/ih_books/single/en_Great_Women_of_Islam.pdf

In this book, Mahmood Ahmad Ghandafar showcases a treasured collection to the readers – the stories of the Mothers of Believers and sixteen other women companions of the Prophet (sa) who, during their lifetime only, were given the glad tidings of being admitted to Paradise.

The book starts with a general chapter on the achievements of women companions, enumerating their successes in the fields of religion, politics, education, fine arts, trade and commerce. The subsequent chapters bring detailed life stories of the Prophet’s (sa) wives and other Sahabiyat.  The author underlines the very active and courageous nature of the women of the time, who nursed the wounded soldiers at the battlefield and worked extensively on the spreading Islam to disbelievers.

The book is an excellent resource for studying the characters of these great women and the qualities which have granted them the elevated status of being admitted to Paradise. Muslim women of any age will find in it role models they can follow and emulate, Insha’Allah.