Wide Earth Smallholding

Wide Earth Smallholding

And Allaah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.(Qur'aan- 71:19)

Weekly Book Review: Making Home: Adapting our Homes and our Lives to Settle in Place

Self-sufficiency, or as close as we can come to it, has long been something that my family and I have worked towards. We’ve planted vegetables on balconies in Boulder, Colorado, in our backyard in Liberty New York, and on our rooftop in Ma’bar, Yemen, among other places. We strive to live a simple life in every way possible, focusing on minimalizing materialism while stressing the importance of family and community and all that they encompass. It seems clear that with many of the issues facing the world today we all have to be aware and do what we can to live in a manner that accommodates some large changes that could, insh’Allaah, be coming our way.


Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place (Mother Earth News Books for Wiser Living)

Sharon Astyk does not spend a lot of time in Making Home convincing us of the realities of Peak Oil or climate change, or that change will likely come to our society sooner rather than later. Instead, she works on the assumption that the reader already has some knowledge of this, and is looking for ideas on what to do to get through whatever this future may hold.  After a brief first chapter discussing why’s of what is happening, she gets down to the nitty gritty of planning and preparing, right now, for a future without many of the conveniences that many people hold to be necessities, like electricity and flush toilets.

Astyk  understands the need for people to make fundamental changes in their lives in order to adapt and be content in the places in which they choose to live. It goes deeper than actions such as buying a certain type of lightbulb or a hybrid car. Indeed it settles into the very core and essence of our existence, an existence in which we must learn to celebrate simplicity and learn to live without many of the extras we take for granted. Instead of looking for different ways to do all of the things we are now capable of doing, we must instead question why we do those things, and, in many cases, choose to not do them at all. An example of this is in her discussion of heating. Instead of coming up with an elaborate alternative energy scheme that makes it possible for every room in one’s house to be 80 degrees all winter long, Astyk tells us that we have to learn to think of cold and heat differently, focusing instead on wearing layered clothing, drinking warm beverages, rising and sleeping with the sun, and utilizing localized heating in rooms as necessary.

This is also a part of Islaam, Alhamdulillah. Sheikh Muqbil, may Allaah have mercy upon him, once said, The matter is simple, insh’Allaah- it is not necessary to restrict or oppress ourselves, but az-zuhd is better, and the state upon which the Prophet, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him and his family, was upon is best. It has been narrated from ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, and look at its truthfulness, “Prepare yourself for a rough life, as indeed the blessings do not endure.” (Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in “Kitaab al-Aadaab”,  Its chain of narrations is weak, however it has other narrations which support and strengthen it)

It is necessary that we prepare for rough times, and prepare for hunger, so that when the matter occurs we do not remain as though we are young chickens- it is necessary that we become accustomed to deprivation. And Allaah knows best.”  (“Fataawa al-Mar’at al-Muslimah” Pages 368-369))

In Astyk’s descriptions of the ways her family has already made so many changes and are living happy and fulfilled lives on their small farm, I see many of the same adaptations we made when we lived in a mountain village in Yemen with no power or running water. I once explained to someone that it was like cutting the static out of our lives so we could really live, really experience the world in a more immediate manner. Since returning to the States we have striven to retain and continue to practice what we learned there in as many ways as are possible, so that our family of nine has a carbon footprint that is less than most American couples have. It is a conscious choice to do what is right for ourselves as individuals, as a family, and as a part of a larger community and society as a whole.  Astyk’s Making Home is full of practical, sound advice on how to live in a simpler, more immediate manner, and weather whatever storms the future may hold.  And the success is only with Allaah.

(NOTE: As with all of our reviews concerning books that are not directly related to religious issues, please remember that we do not wholly endorse all and everything that is in the book, and that, since these books are written by non-Muslims with a different world-view from our own, you will find content in them that may not be sound within our own Islamic ‘Aqeedah. We review them keeping this in mind, and hope that you will understand them in the same light, insh’Allaah. If you find any statements of scholars that discuss or give more detail about a practice discussed, we advise you to take it from that reliable source.)


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  1. As Salamualaikum!
    This sounds so yummy, Inshaallah I will try to make some! I love silvered almonds, and I like to make a simple cereal using just the almonds or add in some walnuts or whatever nut you want. I coat them in egg whites, stir in some organic sugar, a pinch of alcohol free vanilla extract, and cinnamon,. toss it all together and bake on about 350 for a good 30 mins stirring ocassionally. Also use parchment paper so that it wont stick to the pan or burn easily. Once you let it cool its delicious and crunchy and can be added to milk just like regular cereal!

    1. Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
      We will have to try this, insh’Allaah, the next time almonds are on sale, it sounds really good, and very simple as well. We don’t buy boxed cereals at all, so new ideas and healthy variations are always welcome. BarakAllaahufeekee for sharing this!!

  2. From one low-techie to another low-techie, perhaps you can do what I did and e-mail the photos from your phone to yourself. Then you can open them on a regular (real) computer and upload them. I have decided that rather than let this technology KILL me, I will channel everything to my trusty old laptop so I can function perfectly normally.

    We made a granola with oats, hazelnuts, some apple I dehydrated up on the roof, almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, a little bit of coconut, good honey, and coconut oil. It did cross my mind to make a hazelnut and chocolate version, but I’m scared it won’t last even one hour! YUM!

  3. Yes, this is what I wanted to do, but my phone foiled me, mash’Allaah! I will keep trying it, knowing that you are just as technologically challenged as I am, and insh’Allaah will succeed!
    Yum!! Hazelnut and chocolate, next time I see you, insh’Allaah.

  4. I don’t often add coconut to my granola, but I always add melted coconut oil. I sometimes use maple syrup instead of honey. Depends on the dried fruit I use. That’s where we really mix it up. I admit, I don’t make it as often as I used to because we tend to snack on it way too much – especially the hubbo!

    1. Yes, we too always use the coconut oil in our recipe, but we don’t have the luxury of getting maple syrup here in Saudi Arabia. We do have something quite marvelous though – organic date syrup. I have found that I can use it interchangeably for any recipe requiring honey, raw agave, or maple syrup with excellent results.

      Knowing the health benefits of dates, this syrup is a really nutritious sweetener. I have been looking into making my own, and found both cooked versions where the dates are boiled down to a syrup (much like what I am using now) and also a raw version, which was simply soaked dates blended with water and a bit of lemon juice, which was also yummy. Perhaps that can be a little ‘food for thought’ for a new twist on our granola.

        1. I’ll bring some along next spring, inshaa Allah. It is much cheaper than honey, so I’m planning to substitute it in many recipes that would otherwise be pretty expensive. I already use it in muffins, cakes, breakfast bars, sweet rolls, ginger snaps, and even bread. I’m sure it will be excellent in granola. It doesn’t have any overbearing taste and the consistency is just like honey, so it’s thicker than maple syrup. It would be even more economical if we made it, inshaa Allah.

          I don’t prefer the coconut in any cereal, but I don’t mind the oil.

          1. That would be wonderful! Make sure you plan on us being together enough to whip up some things together, insh’Allaah!!!
            I will try the coconut oil, I think, next week when we make a new batch.

    2. I will have to try that Dani. The maple syrup sounds really really good, and I do like to use coconut oil as much as possible. I can take the coconut or leave it, but if we have it I tend to toss it in there. Thank you for your suggestions!

  5. Really good and easy, best combination! Almost all my favorited things in one go. We use wildflower honey right now, I definitely want to try manuka or Yemeni sidr, more so for medicinal purposes.

    1. For things like this, I would stick with the other honey and save the good (and more expensive) stuff for when it’s needed. That being said, if you try it, let me know, I would love to hear how it turns out!

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