Bosnian Fare, Saguaro, and Paradise

001We had always passed Tucson on the way to Phoenix, but we never actually visited or stayed in Tucson until recently. It was a pleasantly nice place, and what also made it memorable, was a particular meals, or should I say meals, we had there.

Hubs had asked us where we wanted to go for dinner. He had pulled up several halal restaurants, and we even drove past them on the way to the resort, namely Ali Baba Restaurant. I was more personally more inclined to go Middle Eastern, but hubs gently insisted that we should really try out Bosnian food. I’ve never had Bosnian food, and I wasn’t too inclined to try something European,  because I wanted something spicy. My Malaysian tongue considers anything  that is not spicy as bland. But hubs had eaten some Bosnian food back in Ohio, and after discussing with the kids, we decided to give it a try.

It was a different experience. The restaurant looks very nicely kept and ‘European’. It has that clean and western feel to it, which you don’t necessarily feel at most halal restaurants in the US (sorry). You could tell they like purple. The tablecloths were purple and the color contributed to that lavender feeling of calmness and relaxation. They say to use yellow or orange in eating places because it stimulates the appetite. Personally, I don’t like those colors in eating areas. I like spicy food. It already makes you sweat. Warm hues just make it worse in my opinion. I prefer cool colors, so purple was perfect!

When we received the menu, we were lost as to what to pick. Finally hubs decide to pick the meal for 4. From the beginning, he already predicted that we would bringing leftovers home. I was doubtful, because usually, whenever we order something for 4 people, there are leftovers, but not much. With Somali food in Columbus, OH, we usually order a meal for 2-3 people, and we would just cook more of our rice, because the meat portion was a little bit too much for us.

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However, when the food came, I was blown out of my  mind! It was a tray heaped with meat, with tiny (especially to rice-eating Malaysians) mounds of rice along one edge of it. No wonder a tong was placed before the meat-laden tray came. When the wife of the friendly chef brought the tong to our table, she said,

“This is for the meat.”

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Before the meat came however, she brought us salad, which was wonderful! It was my kind of salad. By the time the meat came, I was half full from the salad. I?????????? couldn’t help staring at the meat heap though. To us, our ratio of rice to meat is 3:1. We don’t eat that much meat, so to have a heaping tray of meat as our main meal was … different. I said,

“This would suffice us for our lunches and dinner till we have to go home on Thursday.”

It was Tuesday evening. And yes, the meat did last us till we had to  leave on Thursday. We cook our own rice in the rice cooker that we always bring when we travel due to Z’s allergies.

I have never however, eaten such succulent and juicy meat before! Then again, I never order steak when we do eat out at western eateries in Malaysia. I can’t see myself just eating meat without rice. So I’ve never had steak. The Chef, who is an interesting person as could be judged from the newspaper articles on him and his restaurant (which is a family affair and business) put up in his restaurant, apparently makes the sausages, burger meat from scratch! Their boneless chicken was so moist and juicy! Alhamdulilah for that rizq from Allah!

Saguaro Cactus can only be found in Arizona. We don’t have them here in New Mexico. When we first moved to the Southwest, I had always assumed that you would see that kind of cactus here too. I learned later that these are unique to Arizona. Interesting. It was only then that I began to notice that we don’t see any of these kind of cacti in New Mexico. So somehow, our drive through or in Arizona is always enjoyable to me. I love seeing these cacti for some reason. Maybe I  had watched too much Roadrunner in my childhood.

Hubs took the kids hiking at one of the nearby trails while I was attending class on Wednesday evening, and they took some great snapshots of the Saguaro there, MashaaAllah.

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Another thing that kept tugging at my mind all the time we were at the resort, was the ayaat on Jannah in the Quran. I didn’t really take the kids anywhere while hubs was at his conference. We mostly followed our usual routine at home; Nouman’s Tafseer, Arabic With Husna, CNNStudentNews, etc. It was a change of scenery that I was coveting when we travel. But, the resort had amazing swimming pools and claim to have the longest water slide in the Southwest. So, I took the boys swimming while we were there. The room was one of the nicest hotel room we have been to. I noticed that most of the nicest hotel rooms are in the resorts in Arizona. Then again, it’s not like we’ve been frequenting resorts across the nation.

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The better swimming pools always have these bars. People can enjoy food and drink while  enjoying the pleasures of being in water. Reminds me of,

78:34
Sahih International

And a full cup.[An Nabaa 78:34]

كَأس in modern Arabic is any cup/glass, but in classical Arabic, a cup/glass is only called كَأس when it’s full. And from tafseer, it’s full of expensive, exotic drink, not just water.  دِهَاقَا gives the meaning of a cup that is filled to the point of overflowing. When you see such a cup you feel like you want to drink more.

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We have a certain awe of waterfalls and water slides. Again, height seems to be the key. Look at how many waterfalls in the world become tourist spots. The higher and more thunderous they are, the more attraction they are. Reminds me of,

55:66
Sahih International

In both of them are two springs, spouting.[Ar Rahmaan 55:66].

نَضخ gives the meaning of gushing forth, heavy downpour where water is continuously flowing or gushing our either upwards like a fountain or bubbling out. Imagine the amount of energy and money they  have to spend to keep water continuously flowing down on the above pool.

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Shade, relaxation, drinks. Reminds me of,

55:76
Sahih International

Reclining on green cushions and beautiful fine carpets.[Ar Rahmaan 55:76]

though there aren’t exactly cushions and carpets here. I didn’t take photos of the interior of the resort.
Or,
76:13
Sahih International

[They will be] reclining therein on adorned couches. They will not see therein any [burning] sun or [freezing] cold.

It was raining on one of those days I took the boys swimming, and I sought shelter on one of those pool chairs, under the huge umbrella. When it was hot, I also sought shade from under those umbrella. In Jannah, no worries. No worries.

While I was sitting by the pool watching the boys, one of the bartenders came over and asked if I wanted anything to drink. The first thing that popped to my mind was, guess, the price tag associated with that luxury.

“No thank you,” I said.
But he reminds me of,
76:19
Sahih International

There will circulate among them young boys made eternal. When you see them, you would think them [as beautiful as] scattered pearls.{Al Insaan 76:19]

You won’t have to lift a finger in Jannah. You will be served. For a woman, a mother who is used to preparing and serving everyone in the house, this is bliss. Ahh… Oh, and by the way, no, a man is supposed to serve himself too, for the greatest man, the Prophet saw did.
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a beautiful backdrop

The room was nice, the bathroom was nice, the resort was nice, it has a backdrop of the mountains, and I couldn’t help thinking,

“Whatever we enjoy in this dunya comes with a price. You have all these wonderful things to enjoy, but you have to pay for it.”

Usually, in the room, they provide bottled water. We put these aside since you usually have to pay for them. We can enjoy but we have to watch what we enjoy. There is a price tag on everything!

This reflects the transient nature of this world. Whatever thing you seek, covet, it has a lifetime of its own. Everything has a lifespan here. So, if we seek this world only, we are seeking ultimate loss. It doesn’t last forever. If we don’t believe in the hereafter, what kind of optimism are we adopting? What a miserable life this would be then. Nothing to look forward to but inevitable deterioration as each thing is consumed by its lifespan. That’s not even to mention the injustices, oppression and calamities that occur on a daily basis in this world.

It’s also interesting to note that human beings have this obsession with water and heights.High end hotels and resorts always have pools. Location on higher terrains are always more expensive. This is what Allah mentions a lot in the Quran whenever Jannah is mentioned. Anyone who frequently reads the Quran would be familiar with the phrase,

چَنَّاتُُ تجرِي مِن تَحتِهَا النهَار

It’s something that would appeal to us. But Jannah is more than that, but if Allah were to actually describe it, we wouldn’t understand it because Jannah is something no eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard. All other descriptions of Jannah also appeal to us due to human nature and desires. Yet sometimes, even in reacting to these descriptions of what we won’t ever deserve just by merit of our good deeds, we transgress. We raise objections to why only such things are mentioned and why not others. We begin to nit pick and the transgression begins to spread to other areas of the deen. Without realizing it, we have automatically taken entrance to Jannah as our right. Subhanallah. It’s the attitude of an ingrate. May Allah forgive us and enter us into His Mercy anyway. Ameen.

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