Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Simple Life

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Our home is not typical of homes here...well, the actual house is perfectly common, but how we live in it is not. This is our ladies sitting room/family room.

Yes, mashaa'Allah, the room is very large and can easily accommodate 30 or more people. The seating is called masnad seating, being like a firm fitted sofa that is on the floor. The seating for a room of this size - cost around 2,800 riyal (around US$700/400 UK pounds). Just imagine a couple of laptops perched on the armrests and a few books on the seat beside it and that is pretty much how it looks with everyday use.

This room, and how we live in the house in general, is strongly influenced by Rasool Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. He sat on the floor, ate on the floor, and disliked decorations and worldly things. To that end, we made the floor seating, kept the color plain, and chose natural, soft colors of terracotta fabric and sage green walls. All four bedrooms have plenty of empty space, as we all sleep on the floor on simple mattresses with just the necessary storage to keep clothes and things organized.

The thing we have the most of is books and kitchen things. We have the books because knowledge is paramount, followed of course with action, da'wah, and patience. As for the kitchen things, we cook and entertain groups of up to 40 - 50 people at times and we don't use disposable items so we have enough stainless steel platters, bowls, cups, and cutlery to accommodate everyone...and a few big pots! We have hand woven mats made from date palm leaves that we put down on the floor when we eat and large stainless steel platters so that several people can eat from the same plate.

We have no television, no fancy bought rugs, wall units, coffee tables, although we have computers (of course) and a CD/tape player for playing Qaidat an Nooraniyah tapes, Quran, and lectures.

Above is our local masjid, which is literally outside our front gate, across the street and over that dirt lot; it is 129 meters from our house, mashaa'Allah. I see those mountains against a varying backdrop of sky every  time I look outside or go to the roof to do the laundry.

It is 5 miles/ 8.29 kilometers from our house to Masjid an Nabawi.

Our little "escape" to get in touch with fresh air, camping, and nature is no further than our front courtyard - our "khayma" or tent. We sometimes have a barbeque and eat dinner out there on pleasant evenings. As a fun treat, we all camp out in the tent on weekends. It is used as a clubhouse for hubby and his friends from the Islamic University of Madinah and his colleagues from Taibah University. We even piled about 30 girls and women in there on one of our monthly girls' reading club nights.

Our little planted patch of green with three date palms, has benefited from some permaculture practice. We spread two bales of straw on the sandy, cracked, and dry-looking soil that the date palms, a lemon tree, and some fragrant bushes are planted in. 

We also set up a compost heap. The straw has turned everything around, subhaan Allah. It retains moisture and keeps the moisture in the soil, so things are growing like wildfire out there now, mashaa'Allah. We have planted melons, all the date seeds that fell last year have started shoots (too many of course, we will have to take them out eventually and give them away or plant them somewhere else.) 

There are no worms here, but another University professor brought some in and gave us some, so we introduced them to our compost heap about two weeks ago. Inshaa'Allah, it will be something to behold how they get on in there. For all the extreme heat and aridity, our little patch of green has become the "place to be" for families of sparrows and busy little bees buzzing from flower to flower in the date spadix.

This post has been a long time coming, and perhaps you will like or dislike our lifestyle depending on your tastes and preferences, but I ask that you please say upon seeing this glimpse, "Mashaa'Allah, tabaarak Allah" (With the will of Allah, and with His blessings).

Barak Allahu feekum, dear readers.


  1. Assalaamu alaikum,
    Mashaallah tabarakallah.Its heartening to see how people like you, from western countries strive hard to live life according to sunnah, sadly we, who knowingly or unknowingly, led life pertaining to sunnah of our beloved prophet (saw) have moved away from it. The past decade or two has brought us the worst. I long for the good old days when the only piece of furniture even in the house of the affluent was an easy chair for the elderly at home, when hand woven palm mats were just enough to entertain as many people as possible at home,when even breakfast used to be served in plates big enough for four.
    Nowadays these plates are taken out only to display fruits and flowers during wedding ceremonies (something we picked from the hindu culture, asthagfirullah) and to dry spices. For the kind of simple life they led my grandma still remembers how even with 14 children household chores were never a difficult task.

  2. Assalamualaikum warahmatullah

    Alhamdulillah we had been practising this kind of sunnah lifestyle (everything on the floor, eating, drinking, resting etc) in our house since marriage. Sometimes neighbours/friends who came to visit do comment that our house is too empty, just like a mosque. Alhamdulillah I take it as a compliment.

    I only have some big pillows thrown on the floor but usually visitors don't sit on it (maybe its tool bulky), it ended up being my kids toys - thrown everywhere. Anyway, I also plan to buy one simple sofa/chair for any elderly/person who might have difficulty to sit on the floor.

    I would like to know where did you get that kind of seating? How is it fitted to the floor? Sorry, I am too naive and never seen this kind of seating before and very interested. I am thinking of getting it or maybe having it custom made for my use in my country insyaAllah.

  3. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Ummu Abdullah.

    Mashaa'Allah,it is so nice to meet someone else who appreciates the simplicity of the Sunnah. I would prefer to have some simple floor cushions, but the room is very big and this is simple and serviceable for guests.

    The seating isn't fixed on the floor, we can pick up the pieces and clean, etc. There are many upholstery shops here where they will take orders and make this seating to the exact size of your room. They make it in sections, so it can be transported and easily fit together. We can remove some sections if we like, or even add some if the need arose. It is made of blocks of dense foam filling, cut to size and covered with material. I imagine if you go to an upholstery shop that can make furniture, you could have it made to order.

    I think that the people who know us are so used to us putting our preference for the Sunnah above "norms" that they don't ever comment on the emptiness, LOL. I know the children love it, as they can run around without worrying about breaking anything. We had the same issue, regarding a guest who couldn't sit down so low, but fortunately we had a high stool,which is used for sitting at a desk we have in the schoolroom, so I usually bring that out.

    Barak Allahu feeki ukhti.

  4. Mai,

    Is there any homschooling co-op in Madinah? Ours is a homeschooling family that recently moved from the USA to Riyadh. There is an opportunity for my husband and myself in Madinah. I love the place and wish to move to Madinah if job wise it is possible.



  5. Asalamelekum warahmatuALLAH,

    JazakAllah, may Allahsubhanhutalla reward you a lot for increasing our love for Madina. Please remember us in your duas. I really wanted to know if women can do Itikaf in Masjid Nabawi in last 10 days of Ramadan. If you have any information in this regards, I will greatly appreciate it if you can share it with us.

    May Allahsubhanhutalla bring us all closer to HIM and HIS Nabi salalahutallawalehwasalm.

    JazakAllah from umm Sulaiman.

  6. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh MadrasiMuslimah.

    Subhaan Allah, it is really something to see how those traditions that are from the Sunnah have disappeared and it is consider "progress." Inshaa'Allah, you will revive some of those beautiful sunnahs, as they reap such great rewards and turn ordinary daily functions into acts of ibadah.

    Barak Allahu feeki, ukhti.

  7. A:

    I don't know of any homeschooling co-ops in Madinah. I know of many homeschooling families, but there isn't any coordination or cooperation that I am aware of. We started a monthly girls reading club/fun night to provide socialization and extension activities for the girls who enjoy reading. All the families involved homeschool. However, this was just an initiative on our part. If I hear of anything though,I will get back to you inshaa'Allah.

    You will find that there are far more social outlets for children in Riyadh and, quite possibly, a homeschooling support group, as I have seen in Jeddah.

  8. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Umm Sulaiman.

    Wa iyaaki and ameen to your dua'! Women can and do stay in Masjid an Nabawi for itikaaf during the last ten nights, or a part thereof, of Ramadhaan. They usually set themselves up in a comfortable place and try to keep it. It can be rather stressful at times as I have heard that there are fights and arguments if someone else takes their place when they go to the bathroom. There are quite a few distractions because of the crowding and keeping one's place, but when Allah's Pleasure is the goal, He gets you through such things. Remember that many people come to Madinah from all over the world to spend their whole Ramadhaan here, so the crowds are notable, because the reward can be so great.

    Barak Allahu feeki, ukthi.

  9. As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah Ukhti. BarakAllahu Feeki for this blog!

    I know you touched upon it a little in a previous post, but I wanted to know if you can provide more information on neighbors, and what type of housing is available in Madinah. Our budget is 35,000 SR/yr. Would love to be maybe 7-10 mins from Masjid An Nabawi. Is there anyway you can provide some guidance?

    JazakAllaahu Khayr!

  10. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Amatullah.

    I think there are two posts that deal with housing, however 35,000 riyal should cover a villa relatively close (by car) to the Haram. Our apartment was only 7 minutes away by car, and for your budget you can get a very nice apartment or a house, depending on your family size and preferences. As for neighbors, it will depend on where you live, but they can range from expatriates of most nationalities to Saudi nationals.

    Our home doesn't have neighbors on any side as yet. There is a building being constructed next to us which will be perhaps 4 apartments. Often you will find your neighbors to be friendly and generous. Our Saudi neighbors in our apartment were wonderful to us, gifting us with dates before Ramadhaan started, helping with our move, etc. At the type of budget you have, you are most likely to have educated, relatively well employed neighbors.

    Hope that helps wa iyaaki. Barak Allahu feeki ukhti.

  11. Visit our blog, we published an article that illustrates Madinah's history through it's monuments !

  12. Assalam o Alaikum wa rahmatullah

    Firstly, Thank you very much for providing us with extremely useful info about living in Madinah al Munawarah. May Allah bless you and your family always in this world and the hereafter.

    I have two requests, firstly, can you please provide me any information pertaining to a household helper/maid preferably part time. I have been living in KSA for the past 3.8 yrs now but because of my little children who were also born here during this time, with no family around us, has been extremely physically and mentally exhausting for me that I have now come to a conclusion that the benefits of hiring help are paramount for my sanity. The tarbiyah of my boys alhamdulillah 2 and 3 yr olds is extremely lagging as I don't have any time to play or teach them anything at all and because of living in an appartment their physical health is also being adversly effected. Despite living here for almost 4 yrs my knowledge of local Arabic language is nill and we have no friends here as my husband's job is highly committed and so is mine just to keep things tidy and running chores at home. My husband is reluctant to shift in a villa because of lack of security unfortunately. We have relocated to Madinah a couple of months back but I miss going to haram for weeks and I so direly want to get certified knowledge of Islam but DUE to my prime responsibilities as a mom and household caretaker that I get so tired that my prayers are getting effected and I am completely unable to reap benefits/Blessings of Madinah and I cry and feel like a very unfortunate person who lives in Madinah but can't benefit from it. Do pray for me to Allah...!

    Need your advice and prayers.

    Jazakallah khair.

    1. assalamalaikum sister!
      u r living in madina.i have many problems.kindly you &all the people living in madina &makkah.specially pray for me in masjidenabvi& in haram shareef.specially say my salam to rasoolallah (peace be upon him).PLEASE all muslims brothers&sisters pray for me.thanks

  13. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh sister Eman.

    Ameen to your dua'.

    As for maids, I don't know any or where you can find them. However, I believe it is mainly a matter of word of mouth. If your husband works with anyone who has a part-time maid, he may ask if she is available to also work for you or if she has friends who would be interested. None of my friends or classmates have maids, so I really don't have any resources to tap in this regard.

    As for your knowledge of Arabic, is is possible that you and your boys can attend Dar al Haafidhaat? You can enroll in the Tamheedi class, although they are not teaching local Arabic,they are teaching fus-ha Arabic for understanding the Quran and reading books/writing. The teachers speak some local Arabic and you will find the students also know a bit, so you can learn both inshaa'Allah. They have a nursery for children up to 4 years old, so your boys could both be there playing and getting some social interaction with someone else to watch over them while you take your classes and enjoy some time with sisters. It is from 8 - 11 a.m. and several sisters, whose husbands cannot get them straight away, stay until 12 or Dhuhr time when they can be picked up. This might be a good option for you, if it can work with your husband's schedule.

    As for Masjid an Nabawi, I think that the majority of us that come here have ideas that we will be there most days, or at least weekly, and it just doesn't happen. If we were to judge "benefit" as simply going to Masjid an Nabawi, then none of us would be getting much. However, we must judge benefit by how we draw closer to Allah and increase in knowledge, emaan, and taqwa.

    Seek Allah's help, for only He can truly help you, and work to change your situation by taking positive steps to make things better. Whether it is going to Dar Al Haafidhaat, or getting the boys to clean a little patch of floor while you are doing your chores so you can tell them stories from the Quran, of the Sahabah, or titbits of adaab and akhaaq as you work. Bring fun back into your lives...a smile can turn a whole situation around AND you are giving sadaqa all the while.

    My dua' are with you sister.

  14. Assalamualaikum,

    Im so glad that i found this blog. My husband and i are planning to migrate to either Mekkah or Medina in like 5 years time.. insyaallah..We are from Singapore and both of us, we are actually still learning about Islam and my husband is currently learning the arabic language. To see this post, the urge to live there grows more.

    Pardon my english, as its not that good..

    We just want to lead a simple life, insyaallah following our prophet's sunnah. Slowly we try our best to be a better muslim. I've been to Mekkah and Medina twice, perform Umrah with my family.
    But I dont know how the people of Medina live until I see this blog. It amazes me because of the simplicity. :D

  15. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh sister Noor Z.

    May Allah open the doors of success for you both.

    Although we live like this, it is not how everyone lives here. Many/most people have fancy sitting rooms, full bedrooms suites, ornate dining rooms, etc. Such simplicity seems to be found with the poor and those who, like us, make a conscious decision to live in such a way.

    Al hamdul'Illah, it is very freeing not to spend our chasing material things and to feel a strong connection to our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam.

  16. Assalamu Alaikum, I came across this blog today only and found very nice. In fact I am living in Madinah from last year mid and write occasionally in my blog :

  17. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh brother Iqbal.

    Mashaa'Allah, I visited your blog and found it very beneficial. May Allah reward you richly and give your family great benefit and blessing during your time in Madinah and the ultimate success of His Jennah al Firdaus - ameen.

  18. Asalamualaikum warahmatulahi wabarakatu,

    I am 16 and live in Canada, but I'm hoping that insha Allah I will be able to move there in a couple of years. Mashallah, I wish to live such a life according to how the prophet (SAW) live it.

    However, I would just like to know if it would be hard for me since my Arabic is very little?

    Jazakallhu khairan

  19. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Strivetobe.

    Most of us that come here, speak little Arabic. One of the reasons for coming is to learn. However, you should read the other posts on how you can get here, what you need to get employment or how you might apply to study - if that avenue is open by then.

    Also, please note that people living in Madinah DO NOT live their lives according to how the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, led his life. Most people are FAR from this simplicity or goal. We just happen to be trying our best, despite the difficulties and obstacles, to adhere to the Sunnah as far as possible here. Living the Sunnah is something we can do pretty much anywhere.

    May Allah grant you success, in this life and the next - ameen.

  20. As salam alaikum,

    thank you for giving us a glimpse of different lifestyles in Madina, and also for the nice pics. I came across your blog while googling "living in Madina" as i would like to move and live there eventually, InshaAllah; i have been praying for the same and hope Allah will accept my prayers.

    Its so nice to see such simple living people and I too see life the same way.

    I have been trying to figure out the cost of living in Madina/Mecca to see if i can afford it at this time or have to wait or have to work in Madina.

    It will be very helpful if you could give us some idea of expenses of living in Madina, if you have some time.

    Also, if you could please give your opinion on one of the comments above (from Eman) that lving independently (in villa) involves security issues, i shall be grateful.

    I also have to find out if the Saudi people allow us to live indefinately or not?what type of visa would i need, etc.

    In the meantime, pl include me in your prayers.

    JazakAllah khair,

  21. sorry, i forgot to ask you,

    pl also, if you could let us know about the climate and weather patterns; i heard it gets very hot during the day and also very cold at night time; i wonder why the houses there have very small windows?

    JazakAllah khair,

    1. Syed,

      Wa alaikum as salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. I'm glad you've found the blog to be useful.

      Your questions are answered in other post on the blog. I know this may be time consuming to read all of the post, but this will allow you to have a better understanding and have your questioned answered. You won't believe how many people have asked the same question, that's why we've written the blog the way we have, so we don't have to respond to every query presented. May Allah make your endeavors blessed and fruitful.

      Barak Allahu feek.

  22. I remember when I was in Saudi driving past the university. Your post brought back some nice memories hamdulillah.

  23. Assalamu alaikum dearest sister,
    jazaki Allah khair for the time and effort your putting into has helped to answer many questions...inshaAllah we are seriously thinking about moving to Medina this year from Riyadh..i have 4 small children MashaAllah and am planning to send them to school n homeschool the British curriculum...I know there are no International schools in Medina right? I just wanted to ask you if there are any good quality Arabic schools for my children and do you know what the school fees are?
    InshaAllah we plan to come next week to see villas n find out more about the place...which areas do you think is best to live in for expats n close to good schools and the expat community?
    sorry for so kany questions but would really appreciate any info u can give
    Again jazakibAllah khair ukhti

  24. I was googling for "living in Madinah" when the search result pops up your blog. And I thank Allah for this priceless find. Mashaa'Allah, tabaarak Allah. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful blog with me. Jazaak Allahu khairan. <3

  25. Salaam a lay kum.
    My husband and I with our to children will be moving to madinah soon Inshaallah.
    Can you please advise us on rental prices as we have not Been able to find much info online.

    Syeda Hafsa

  26. MashAllah , may Allah Tallah grants us sunnahs and sincerity. ameen. your blog is beautiful, gives me hope.


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