Food for thought

Take it easy!

A lot of the toughness in my life is caused by me!

 Seriously, I am my own worst enemy. So many of the things that are driving me crazy weren’t necessary in the first place! I mean I could have achieved my goal with just half the effort!

Why did I over-do it?

Was it worth it?

I learnt this lesson once, when I was in Kuwait and cooking a new dish for a dinner. It took me two days to make all the preparations for a dish with almonds and chicken. Then there was another dish I made called Mexican Chicken – which took just ten to fifteen minutes to cook. Believe me, no one noticed my ‘special’ dish, and everyone went for my Mexican Chicken asking me how I made it, as it looked tasty amazing!

Wow. I learnt my lesson there and then. Out went that recipe from my file, and the Mexican Chicken remained and ended up in my Recipe book, later on.

I guess, it was a simple formula of Physics I had learnt about efficiency: ‘Input is equal to output’. So, if the input is too much, and output isn’t that much, then chuck out the whole project. Be mindful of this, at all times. Your efforts have to be proportional to the output.

It is the same with most things.

But you see there are many aspects to a thing. You have to see if it is worth it or not. Sometimes, some long-drawn-out things are worth it. For instance, it took over twenty years to publish my latest book,- simply because it is important. So, no regrets.

So, the lesson is:

It better be worth it, or chuck it!  


Last year, when I met Fairy in Lahore, she mentioned this. Her mentor told her:

‘One should remain within one’s limitations.’ (The Urdu word is a beautiful one, istata’at.) So, this goes into all facets of one’s life. For instance, when we talk of relationships; most wives are upset with husbands, ‘look at all that I’ve done for you! I did this, I did that, I even went and did so many more things that weren’t my duty, but I still did it. “You didn’t appreciate any of it!” you say, angrily. Well, (wisely,) he keeps quiet.

But he could have said, ‘Sweety, did I ask you????’


No one asks us. We just go out of our way doing things for our loved ones and even the not-so-loved-ones at the workplace etc.. Then we get exhausted, lose temper, feel unappreciated and end up hating everyone.

So, I guess, the point is: do as much as is needed.

Then stop it.

That’s all.

No one asked you to do more, so don’t do it.


If you do, then do it for God’s sake, and don’t expect any ‘reward’ from the person. Allah says in Quran that you should never remind the person whom you have done favors for, about all that you did. Otherwise, it will all go to waste.

The more you think of it, you realize how this approach of overdoing things literally goes into EVERYTHING IN OUR LIVES.

Things, relationships, work and even fun!

So, while doing anything, keeping a sensible ‘limitation’ or ‘scope’ of the relationship/work/play at hand is essential.


For instance: one religious scholar said that only ‘farz’ prayers are needed. The rest we are saying on our own. With the result, other scholars have made praying so complicated that then people end up even leaving out the ‘farz’ prayers.

The price of doing all those extras is too high – this is what we have to realize – so, due to these extras the actual task gets left out.  Just look at it! Is it worth it?

The expenses  of marriages ceremonies are so much, that people keep delaying the function. Though it wouldn’t cost much, if one went for the essentials. My mentor Mahjabeen married off her son within forty days of the death of her own daughter’s death. The situation was such that the son had to go to USA for further studies, and she wanted him to get married and take his bride too with him. So, it was all done in a hurry. She held the Waleema ceremony in her home, it was lunch time. Due to shortage of space, she asked us to ‘eat and leave.’ When I took the salami to her, she asked me to hand it to the bride, without even looking at it. That was it. It was a simple function. No extras, just the essentials. In fact, she didn’t even let the girls’ side give food, she herself arranged the food. She believes the food is for the boys’ side to give to the guests, so it is a Waleema. She applies everything to herself first of all. This is why no one minded, in fact everyone admired her guts for holding a function exactly as she wanted to do, according to the beliefs she herself proclaims. She wholeheartedly invited us through word of mouth, and we happily went along. We felt happy that she had remembered us at this happy time in her life.


The point is: Keep the objective in mind.

(I have a feeling I’m writing this blog for myself more than for you.) Whatever I do, I get carried away. But let me tell you, it is fine to get carried away, if you are doing it as a big ‘thank You’ to the One Above for blessing us so much.

Then it is OK. But let me tell you, He too, only expects within our capabilities. Even He doesn’t demand more from us than what we are easily capable of doing.

So, why go overboard?

It will make life much more bearable all round, if you focus on the important stuff only:

  1. Do what is necessary – stick to the compulsory question first.
  2. Prioritize. That is from an importance, urgency, and value point of view. Start with the most important first, (many urgent things are not so important.)
  3. While doing each task, do the basics and go on to the next point. Instead of getting carried away with the first task and leaving out the others. Give time limitations to each task.
  4. Do keep aside those things to do, which are worth the effort. For instance, one’s writing and other such aspects of life, will stay in this world even after we are gone. So, they are worth it, and should be done as ‘sadqa-e-jariya.’ But then, keep a separate time-slot for creative work.
  5. Do anything extra for God’s sake. But remember, how much He will expect from you? Yes, only what is within your capabilities!

Stay blessed my wonderful Reader. Take it easy, and you will be blessed!

Note: All photographs provided by author. Nataliya has taken four of these photographs.




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  1. I think the crux of all this is simplicity, the more simplicity we adopt the more our complexities desolves.

    I got married around 8.5 (i believe lol) yrs back, we didn’t held any functions, we had our Nikah in her uncles house, we didn’t even made any wedding other, normally ordinary clothes, no jewellery nothing.

    And we both are from decent class of the society, my wife father was a very influencer person.

    But we did it, so that tomorrow we can tell to anyone to do by example.

    We were happy, with the simplicity.

    I think we as a Nation unfortunately, are into, what people will say nexus, and that kills us.

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      I’m very impressed. In this society it takes guts to do what you did. I remember it was my husband and my dream to do so, with our children’s weddings. Kudos to you, your husband and your families.
      We need to take such steps in more ways too.
      Stay blessed.

  2. Mahira Khan-Rea says:

    What a wise and beautiful woman you’ve turned into my childhood BFF. Thank you saying such meaningful truths so simply. It was wonderful to wake up to these thoughts this morning. I shall hold them close in my heart all day. ❤️

  3. Exactly what I needed to read today
    I had only one hour before iftar left and we both were out. I told haaris I have to go home and cook daal Keema and chawal. I was stressed. He told me why should I bother when there is ready made food in the freezer. I decided to listen to him. It made me feel relieved and relaxed. There was less stress too. Totally agree with all points in this blog. So true ♥

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