Saturday, October 29, 2011

Memorable time at Fresh

One of the things we did this summer was, we had some one on one husband and wife time. One of the things we did was I took my husband to this restaurant in downtown for iftar. Alhumdulillah my mother-in-law was free that evening, so I asked her if she could watch both the kids for a few hours, it was my first time leaving H for this long. It was great for everyone. The kids got some one on one time with their Dadi without the parents. I think grandparents need to have some 'unsupervised' time with their grand-kids, so they have the freedom to do what they want with the kids without the parents always monitoring the grandparents. After all, all parents wait to be grandparents and truly love their grand-kids, ,I also believe that grandparents should respect the limits parents have set for the kids.

On the other hand, hubs and I had a wonderful dinner and walk by the lakeshore :) Although the food was vegan (not my hubs favorite thing) but he admitted that he felt full but light. He was sort of ready to try it since I had tested some of their recipes from their eBook I had in the last few years. Alhumdulillah, I coincidentally found a fairly new looking copy of 'Refresh' at the garage sale in summer for  50 cents!!

It's a great cookbook to have with some great recipes straight from the Fresh's kitchen, in downtown Toronto. They have great recipes for shakes, elixirs, sauces, marinades, soups, wraps, veggie burgers and more. These are recipes for the same food you will find on their menu. Click here to checkout their website.

If you are interested in having a copy of this wonderful nutritious vegan cookbook 'Refresh' by Ruth Tal, please email me at

Glitter Art

In AR's school they made them memorize the hadeeth "Tahabu Tahadoo" "Give gifts to one another, and you will love one another." He took gifts for his friends and he got lots of gifts as well. One of our favorite thing he got was this....

It was a sticker sheet with glitter on the side. He had to peel a sticker area and then spread the glitter. All three of us enjoyed it a lot. 

DIY Children's Easel

We have been wanting to get the kids an easel, but haven't found one that we an get here for a reasonable price. So I decided to designate a wall space for them as an easel. We put an old table cloth on the floor to catch any spills and drips from their masterpieces. Alhumdulillah they're enjoying their DIY easel.

Kids love paints and painting, it give them a creative outlet and also encourages imagination. AR loves talking about his artworks, and we love displaying them. They also make wonderful gifts and gift wraps!

Big girl!

Last week, while AR was gone to school, I did my usual morning routine with H. After that I went to do the house chores for a bit, usually when I do that H normally plays around me, we talk and recite and sing nasheeds and nursery rhymes. On Monday however, H decided to stay in the Rawdah, after about 15 to 20 mins of silence I thought I should check on her.

So I did... and mashaAllah she surprised me with THIS...
Yes...MashaAllah she made the train track all by herself. Also attempted to puzzles at the back. Apparently this was not the first time. When I told my husband he said she did this in last month too, I was not aware of it. We were proud of her little achievement.

I strongly believe when toys and educational equipment is accessible to kids, it gives them more opportunity to learn. Kids tend to learn better when they have the freedom to explore their environment. As parents its our duty to try our best to make the environment safe for them. It's really important to teach kids and supervise them. However, it's as important to give them an unsupervised learning experience. This teaches them to be independent, confident and gives them a sense of responsibility and trust.

YES, at times this unsupervised learning can be messy, but that's okay. Simply in a calm voice just ask the child to help you clean-up, and most of the times they will be more then willing too. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 acts of Virtue in the 10 days of Dhul Hajj

According to many scholars of Tafseer (Quran exegesis) these are the first 10 days of Dhul Hajj. 

The Prophet SAW gave a testimony that these ten days are the greatest days of this world. He SAW said: "There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than on these ten days." The companions may Allah be pleased with them said: "O Messenger of Allah, even (better than observing) Jihaad for the sake of Allah?" He said: "Even  (better than observing) Jihaad for the sake of Allah, except for one who went out (for Jihaad) with himself and his wealth and returned with nothing of this."
7 acts of Virtue in the first 10 days of Dhul-Hajj for those who are not performing Hajj
  1. Siyaam (fasting) of the first nine days of Dhul Hajj.
    • Abu Qataadah (radiallahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Observing fast on the Day of Arafat; I expect Allah to expiate the sins that were committed during the preceding year, and the sins that will be committed in the year after." (Imam Muslim)
    • On the authority of Hafsah r.a, she said: " Fasting the day of 'Aashoora' (the 10th of Muharram), the first 9 days of Dhul Hajj, three days of each month, and performing two Rakkah before noon."
  2. Recting the Tahleel, Takbeer, Thameed out loud in the markets, homes, mosques, and roads. 
    1. The Prophet SAW said: "There are no days on which righteous deeds are greater in the sight of Allaah and dearer to Him than onthese ten days. So, intensify Tahleeland Tahmeed."
      • Tahleel - La IlaahaIllaAllaah "there is no one worthy of being worshiped but Allaah"
      • Takbeer -   Allaahu Akbar "Allaah is The Greatest"
      • Thameed -  Alhamdu lillaah "praise be to Allaah"
    • Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah (radiallaahu anhum) used to go out to the marketplaces during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah and recite out loud the takbeer and people would repeat it after them.
  3. Repentance - Repenting and avoiding sin to acquire the forgiveness and Mercy of Allah SWT
    • Try to read the Sayidul istaghfar as many times as possible 

  4. Doing extra voluntary (Nafil) good deeds while avoiding sin and disobedience to Allah SWT.
    • Allah SWT says in a Hadeeth Qudsi "I will declare war against a person who shows hostility to one of My Allies (devout slaves). The most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have made obligatory on him; and My slave keeps drawing closer to Me through performing voluntary acts of worship until I love him. When I love him I will be his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, andhisleg with which he walks; and if he asks (something) from Me, I will give him, and if he asks My Refuge), I will protect him"
    • Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah 
    • Sadaqah (charity)
    • Praying all Sunnahs for each Salah (prayer)
    • Praying more Nafil prayers
    • SMILE more! :D
    • Enjoing the good and forbidding the evil
    • Recite! Recite! Recite! The Quran 
    • Be Extra helpful to your parents - If you have them rejoice! If they are far, call them say some kind loving words (and get their duas), send them extra money if they're dependent (and see who your life will flourish wiht Barakah). If they're close... then make it a point to do something extra for them (and I don't mean make them a cup of tea!) 
      • Allah SWT says: "We have instructed man to honour his parents." (29:8)
    • Be the Best spouse! and ask Allah SWT to make you the best one. Go OUT of your way to do things for your spouse.
    • Parent-hood. You are the best Parent (inshaAllah) so be it!
    • DUAS... don't miss out the day of Arafah (9th of Dhul Hajj) in preparing your next day Eid Party!
    • Think of others Ihsans you can do in you Ebadah and Ikhlaaq 
  5. Udhiya - Sacrificing of an animal on the 10 of Dhul Hajj (Yawm-un Nahr). 
    • It's a sunnah of our prophet Ibrahim a.s (Abraham) who was commanded to sacrifice Ismaeel a.s, but Allah SWT at the very moment of sacrifice ransomed him with a ram. Prophet Muhammad (saw) followed ibrahim a.s's sunnah and so do we till this day. 
    • It is important to remember that sacrificing of the animal dose not benefit us or washes our sins, as Allah SWT says "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah. it is you peity that reaches Him." {Quran 22:37}
    • Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: "He who has the capacity, and does not sacrifice, may not approach our Musalla (place of prayer - on the ‘Eid)."(Ibn Majah #2533, Ahmad) 
  6. Things to refrain from for the NON- Pilgims who intend to do a sacrifice.
    • Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "When you see the new moon of Dhul Hijjah, and one of you wants to sacrifice an animal let him refrain from cutting or shaving his hair or clipping his finger nails, or toenails."
    • Allah SWT says: "And do not shave off your heads until lthe sacrificial animal is slaughtered."
  7. Eid Prayer and the Khutbah.
    • Prophet Muhammad SAW said: "The day of al-Fitr, and the day of an-Nahr, and the days of at-Tashreeq (the three days after an-Nahr) are our days of Eid (festivity); and they are days of eating and drinking.” (Saheeh) Musnad Ahmad:1945)
    • Some scholars are of the opinion that it's obligatory to pray the prayer. Regardless of if one holds this opinion or not, one should make it a point to get up and get the whole family ready for Eid prayer and let the kids know from the very start that these are the days Eid WE as Muslims celebrate. It's important to make Islamic celebrations SPECIAL for our little ones so they don't find the urge to celebrate non-Islamic events. On contrary they eagerly wait to get their special Eidi or Eid gift, special Home decor, and family get-togethers.
My personal advice is to make a checklist or a schedule for all the things you want to achieve in these days. It will keep you motivated and help you  make the most out of these days. May Allah SWT grant us the Tawfeeq (ability) to keep the changes we (Pilgirms and non-pilgrms) make in these days a part of our lives. May He the Exalt accept our Ebdaat and accept the Hajj of the Hujjaj. Ameen!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hajj Holistic checklist

Kaba in Ihram for the Hajj! 2010 
Here we come Allah, here we come....

"In the blistering bright rays of the sun, amongst the arid grimy sand dunes of a faraway place, no traces of life could be seen. There was only a barren land filled with emptiness. The blurry horizon spread from east to west. Apart from the dry whistle of the bristly wind, a cry could be heard echoing in the distance. What could it be…?
A closer look reveals a beautiful baby boy left lying on the scorching sand under the heat of the sun, lips shrivelled, tears pouring profusely down his swollen eyes. His cry is pleading for help, but where is his mother…?
Not too far away, amongst the rocky hills, another isolated sound can be heard - the voice of a woman gasping for breath as she runs from one mountain to another searching for any signs of life. Alone, bare footed and wounded her tired feet drag her back and forth a distance of more than 450 metres each way in the hope that she can find water or someone who can come to her child’s desperate aid.…" 
These beautifully put words are of Shurma Chowdhury a writer from saudilife. They are so clear in explaining the story behind Hajj. 
The month of Zul-Hajj is almost here. Millions of people around the world are preparing  to leave for this beautiful and the most memorable journey of their lives. Some have already reached Masjid al-Haram or Masid Nabawi. People will be coming from different circumstances, some have saved up all their lives and NOW they get to do Hajj when they are old. All rich and poor, old and young, weak and strong, big and small ALL will unit in one place to perform the Hajj.  "...there is no reward for Hajj mabroor except Paradise" {Al Bukhari}
Hajj preparation for most of people start right when they get the invitation from Allah SWT. If one has the intention one could get rewarded for each of ones steps towards Masjid al-Haram by Allah SWT's Mercy.
InshaAllah in this post and the next I will be sharing with you a few things. Such as, a Hajj holistic checklist some Hajj resources and some Ahadeeth {Prophetic sayings} and Aayat {Quranic verses}. Things to do for those not performing Hajj.

1.  Magic Soap - Its a pure castile soap by Dr.Bronner. The one you have to purchase is the Unscented Baby Mild one. Since being a Muhrim {pilgram} it is not permissible to use anything scented. The good thing about this soap is that it can be used for ALL purposes. For example, washing hand, face, body, hair, brushing your teeth, laundry, cleaning you house or in the case of Hajj your surroundings. We use it when we are in ihram for the whole family. This will also decrease you luggage load, you will put 10 things in one bottle!

2. Fragrance free hand and body lotion by Desert essence

3. Crystal body deodorant stone - Its safe and fragrance free, click here to read more. This can be found in different brands like pure & natural crystal and also in travel sizes as well.

4.  Essential oils - These would be  a good chose to protect yourself from getting sick or catching a flu, since you will be exposed to people from all around the world. These will inshaAllah help stimulate your immune system and help fight any bacteria entering you with the permission of Allah SWT! 
  • Lavender oil - relaxing (works great for jet lag), protects from flu and cold, antiseptic, even by smelling the oil.
  • Tea tree oil - powerful antiseptic and immune stimulator. Its known to be great for cough, cold sores, infected wounds, cuts, and insect bits.
  • Lemon grass oil - air refresher and purifier, great for headaches.
  • Eucalyptus oil - Useful for muscular pains, insect bites and insect repellent.
  • Sandalwood oil - for sore throats, earaches and cough with mucus.
  • Peppermint oil - for fatigue, headaches, digestive system, and muscular pains
Each of these have many other therapeutic uses but these are just to name some that are more relevant. Even if you're not able to get all try to at least get lavender, tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus oils. 

Note: DO NOT use essential oils straight, they are very concentrated and potent,  so they should be diluted at the ratio of 2 to 3 drops essential oil to every 10ml of 100% pure carrier oils such as almond, avocado, calendula, rosehip, grape-seed  aloe vera and jojoba oils. ALSO, keep in mind that these are scents and fragrance is NOT permissible in the state of ihram, so you should use them in a diffuser (buy a cheap one you can dispose there) and a couple of candles. Using them in the diffuser will give you its benfits as well, use it at night when you are sleeping until you are no longer in ihram. Ones out of the state of ihram then you can add them to your creams or oils at the same ratio. REMEMBER to dilute that are high concentrate. 

5.  Homeopathy first-aid kit -  Pack your remedies in small zip-locks with labels of each remedy. Zip-locks are light weight and don't take much space. 

    Essential Remedies

    1. Aconite 30
    2. Chamomile 30
    3. Ferrrum Phosphorus 6x
    4. Gelsimium 30
    5. Nux Vomica 30
    6. Carbo Vegetabilis 30
    7. Arnica Montana 30
    8. Kali Mur 6x
    9. Aloe 30
    10. Rhus Tox 30
    11. Lycopodium 30

6.  Accupressure - It's a great pain reliever and has some other benefits as well, such as natural labor induction (I was using acupressure points to induce natural labor for H's pregnancy after the 39th week and during labor as a pain reliever). You can look up on Google or ask a professional about pain different pain relief points.
These are somethings that will inshaAllah help Pilgrims to take the most out of there Hajj experience and Ebadaat (worships). This will with the permission of Allah SWT help us all stay in good health instead of being drowsy and droopy. It's important to remember that NOTHING can benefit you or harm you with out the permission of Allah All Mighty, and these are just means, really protection and relief is ONLY in His Power. So take the means and put your trust in Him.

Some of you asked where you can find this stuff. 

North America 
  • Whole foods
  • Other health food stores
    • Nature's Source
    • Olive Tree Organics
    • Green Health Foods (these are just to name some there are 100s more!)
  • Organic planet
  • Target
  • Loblaws
  • Health Food store
  • Organic stores
  • Holland and Barrett
  • Evergreen health foods
Gulf Region
  • Order from online from anywhere in the will need an address
  • You can also find them at 
  • Check for foreign natural product stores
Hajj Mabroor wa Saee Mashkoor!
“...And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine....” (Surah Al-Hajj, 22: 27)

DIY reusable workbook sheets

I cut opened the kids workbook to laminate it for reuse. It's hard to find nice letter tracing workbooks. We found a really nice Arabic workbook as well and I had been looking for something like this for so long. Alhumdulillah Allah SWT guided us to it.

Although I prefer writing with pencil for kids but I found that AR has been able to practice his curves and straight lines on these sheets without getting too stressed from writing. I never forced or force him to write, we have to help him sharpen his fine motor skills, it gets a bit challenging for all of us due to his strabismus (lazy eye).

It's an eye condition, where the brain sends less single to one eye and it starts to drift in wards or outwards. The other thing it does is, it makes it a bit challenging for him to make hand and eye coordination. He also has weak eyes sight, which has improved and inshaAllah will improve more. MashaAllah we are still proud of him because he has come a long way with making good hand and eye coordination. He sometimes feels frustrate when he can't get to fit one piece of puzzle into the other because he misses it due to the drifting of his left eye ball. 

A lot of time people expect a lot from him, even me and my husband, but sometimes I feel, we should think of him more gently, think of him as a child with a weakness in his body...which is not something small. We take these things (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, and feet) for granted, we us them as if we had the right to have them. 

InshaAllah I will be starting him on Homeopathic remedy course and also a natural eye support supplement. I am currently giving him sunflower seeds and homemade carrot juice almost everyday.

sorry about the tangent :)

I even took a set of these with me to Canada and we would practice them there, whenever he was ready to sit with me for a bit.

While AR practices H wants to imitate him so we give one to her as well to scribble on.

May Allah grant him complete shifa (cure), and teach us the proper manner to deal with his situation. Ameen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book review: Priddy Books

My favorite toddler picture books. 

We bought these for $2 when AR was 2, from Buffalo, USA. Both our kids simply love reading them or just looking at the pictures. I have also labeled some of the pictures in Arabic this way they get to increase their Arabic vocabulary. This can be easily done to any picture book with a permanent marker.

The best part about Priddy books publication is they are very green about their products. They use 40% recycled paper, they use fewer chemicals and toxins, resulting in less pollution in the environment. Their is soy based not petroleum based, which means easy recycling process and safer for children.are very kids appropriate. They use sturdy books, and are made from recycled materials (mostly).

Click here to check out their other products.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A beautiful reminder!

In the recent years we have heard a lot of talks about what is happening around us, our homes, people, envoirnment, and children, most of which are tangilbe. We/others can see them and  feel them, therefore we are easily pulled to focus on them. On contrary our inner state, our soul, is intangible and we tend to very easily forget about it. The only one who knows about our inner state is us and Allah SWT.  We often find ourselves too busy trying to appear clean and neat, watching out for what our bodies consume and what's in our environment. We are too busy with purifying/cleaning/cleansing our external and in that busy process we conveniently neglect our internal purification/cleaning/cleansing. What is this internal purification?? The Purification of our Souls and Hearts.

It's VERY important to remember that as Muslims all our outward actions are always a means to our inward purification. The actions we do with our limbs (tangible) leave a lasting effect on our hearts and souls. Let us be true to ourselves... and accept that a LOT of times we tend to focus souly on our external on the expense of our inward. A good example of this could be, we delay our prayers to the LAST moment in order to complete a (tangible) task at hand.

Salah (prayer) is one of the first steps to purifying oneself internally. So if we try to perfect our Salah our internal soul will inevitably be purified and be at peace. Salah purifies us in many ways from sins, evil thoughts, diseases of hearts, and helps us attain the pleasure of Allah SWT, which should be our primary focus.

There is no harm in focusing on the external, what needs to be understood is that the outward actions are only a means to obeying Allah SWT, and attaining His pleasure. We have to purify our intention for every act we do. Salah is one thing that lets us connect to Allah SWT, when we say Takbeer Ihram {Allahu Akbar} we cut ourselves from this duniya and focus only on Him Azawajllah. We should always be mind full of Him, pause here for a second and ask yourselves...How many times is that the case with us in this fast paced lifestyle we have adapted.

Is there anything wrong with purifying/cleaning/cleansing our external? No, absolutely not.  Allah SWT says in the Quran "Allah Loves those who purify themselves" {9:108}. Prophet Muhammad SAW said: "Purification is half of Faith" {Muslim}. What we have to remember is that these purifications also refer to the internal cleanse, the cleanse of our soul and heart.

Let us try to perfect our Salah and focus more on our inward then outward... and you will be AMAZED to see how Allah SWT makes all your outward/external matters fall into the right place.

This is a small and beautiful reminder a friend had posted, which provoked a lot of these thoughts in my mind and heart. Lets us try to treat Salah as our getaway from this duniya and not a chore of our fast paced life. Lets us run after Allah SWT and not this duniya. Let us be Dynamic in our Salah!

As our beloved Prophet SAW said "...coolness of my eyes is in prayer". I ask Allah SWT to make the coolness of our eyes the prayer as well and not this duniya and its fame. Ameen.

I have a game plan to try to perfect my Salah inshaAllah, I want to make short but consistent goals with the permission of Allah SWT. I'll let you all know inshaAllah.

What are you going to do to perfect your Salah? Please share and let others benefit as well.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Benefits of Indoor Plants

Indoor plants improve air quality by cleaning and conditioning the air we breathe.  By removing toxins and adding oxygen and humidity, they make the air easier and fresher to breathe for us.

I love having plants in the house for many reasons. InshaAllah in this post I will be sharing with you why I love having plants in our house and what are some good choices for indoor plants and their benefits.

Here are some plants we have in our house. 
Aloe Vera
Indian Jasmine Plant
Madagascar dragon tree
Mint Plant
We were planning to make a nursery on our roof, but now we will not be getting the roof so I am looking for some indoor plants. The kids really enjoy watering the plants and seeing them sprout. I am working on growing some herbs as well, for food and juicing. (I'll keep you updated on that too inshaAllah)

Indoor plants have numerous benefits. They are known to provide physical and psychological benefits and naturally create a healthy relaxing environment.

Benefits of indoor plants
  • Improve Air-quality in homes and offices
  • Absorb harmful substances
  • Work as 'Natural Humidifier' (Why buy a electrical humidifier which suck up energy)
  • Reduce Stress
  • Encourage productive
  • Cooling Effects (when you see the plants you can literally feel the cooling in your eyes)
  • Inspire our creativity
  • Increase positive feelings and reduce negative feelings
  • Improve sleep
  • Add natural beauty to the homes and offices.
  • Can clear congestion (Plants such as Eucalyptus)
  • Improve overall mental health\prevent allergies
  • Reduce carbon dioxide
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help fight colds
These are just to name some in order to motivate you all to add some indoor plants in your homes and offices to give the artificial decor some really beauty! Nothing beats the nature Allah SWT has made to cool our eyes, body and mind. 

Why grow indoor plants?
Children love plants, I found with AR that it helped me teach him how Allaah gives life and death, how water is such a blessing from Allah SWT for all living creatures. One of our plants died when we came bak from the vacation. Sometimes he will ask me if I watered the plants, or should he do it, since he loves watering them, he has learnt to control himself now. 

Indoor plants improve air-quality by absorbing harmful toxins/pollutants from the air around them. Some of the most common toxins/pollutants in our homes are"
  • Formaldehyde - found in medicines, cosmetics, dish-washing liquids, fabric softeners, glue, adhesives, carpets, carpet cleaners, antiseptics, paper, latex paints, plastics, and pressed wood used for furniture read more.
  • Benzene - Rubber, lubricants, dyes, detergents, paints and plastics.
  • Trichloroethylene - found in paints, adhesives and used extensively in dry cleaning products.
  • Carbon monoxide - found in fuel, water heaters, using gas powered tools in poorly ventilated areas.
All of the above have been proven to cause severe health problems such as, respiratory problems, irritability  headaches, asthma and nausea. One way to help ride these toxins from our homes is to get rid of products/things that cause buildup of these toxins, which is not that easy to do, becuae that includes almost everything in the house. For some of us (including myself) that's not possible, so we can do three things to help our air-quality 
  1. Buy indoor plants, some researchers say their should be one plant every 100 square feet.
  2. Keeping the house ventilated by opening the windows. That will keep the house from smelling fresh, free from odors as well. 
  3. Try to go 'chemical free" or at least buy less chemiclal products. Instead try to make homemade cleaners. Most of these homemade cleaners an easily be made with products in your kitchen cabinets  InshaAllah will be posting some fun homemade experiment recipes and tips soon.
Although all plants improve indoor air-quality, some are known to be better than the others. These are some of the best choices of indoor plants that help improve air-quality better than other plants. 
  • Aloe Vera                        
  • Areca Palm
  • Pothos
  • Philodendron
  • English Ivy          
  • Boston Fern       
  • Mother In Laws Tongue 
  • Rubber Plant                
  • Peace Lily        
Some indoor plants can be poisonous for children and pets and should be avoided or if you decide to keep them its is best to keep them out of their reach. We have a Aloe vera plant and its kept out of their reach. You check this link to read more about which plants and parts of a plant are poisonous. 
Sources:   2  3

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

UAE, Saudi in most polluted nations' list


Emerging nations around the world are often heralded for their fast growth but we don't often hear about the downsides of that rapid development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a report on air quality in countries around the globe, on which we based a list of the ten most polluted countries. Almost all the worst offenders are either major oil and gas producers, or emerging economies that are growing rapidly.
10. Kuwait
Pollution level: 123 ug/m3
Kuwait is one of four oil-rich Middle Eastern nations to make the list. It is also the fourth largest exporter of oil among OPEC countries, with the petroleum industry accounting for half of Kuwait's GDP.
Kuwait made headlines during the first Gulf War in 1990 when Iraqi troops set fire to its oil fields, creating massive air pollution and ground contamination. That led to a decades long environmental clean up.
Today, pollution is largely caused by local oil refineries and industrial plants. Last year, 15,000 students protested against pollution but the government has maintained that levels of air pollution are within environmental standards. Some plants though have been temporarily closed to improve air quality.
A 2010 global survey by consulting firm Gallup found that 57 percent of Kuwaitis were dissatisfied with the air quality in the area they lived in. Local residents are reported to suffer from high rates of respiratory diseases such as asthma, cancer and skin conditions.
9. Nigeria
Pollution level: 124 ug/m3
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most populous in the world with over 155 million people.
Rapid urbanization and economic development have led to haphazard industrial planning in cities like Lagos that are struggling with waste management and high levels of pollution.
The country is also Africa's largest oil producer, accounting for 2.3 million barrels of crude per day, according to the International Energy Agency. The Niger Delta region, where the world's biggest energy companies operate, has experienced some of the worst oil spills in history. In August, a United Nations report said 50 years of oil pollution in the Ogoniland area may require the world's biggest and longest cleanup. The 14-month study showed deeper pollution than previously thought in an area that is home to about one million people. The report said it could take 25 to 30 years to clean up the contaminated drinking water, land and ecosystems.
Pipeline vandalism to feed a black-market in oil is common in the region and often contributes to oil spills. In September, Shell said it would shut production of 25,000 barrels of crude per day in the area due to the recent upsurge of oil thefts.
8. Iran
Pollution level: 124 ug/m3
Iran is home to the world's most polluted city — Ahvaz, which has three-times the average amount of pollution in the country. Ahvaz, known for its oil fields, is a heavily industrialized desert city of 1.3 million people.
Iran has the world's third-largest oil reserves and the second largest natural gas reserves. Locally produced, low-quality gasoline has been blamed for the country's extreme air pollution. The high-octane fuel -- much lauded by the country's leaders -- is manufactured in petrochemical plants rather than refineries.
Iran's capital Tehran made headlines last December, when it was blanketed by smog, forcing the government to declare "pollution holidays" for several days, shuttering offices, businesses and schools. Tehran marked nearly a month of continuously high levels of pollution with hospitals reporting a spike in patients with breathing problems. The state's English language television channel Press TV said more than 80 percent of the city's air pollution was attributed to the 3.5 million vehicles on the roads.
7. United Arab Emirates
Pollution level: 132 ug/m3
The United Arab Emirates is the world's fourth biggest oil exporter and one of the most developed economies in the Middle East.
The country has experienced rapid economic growth over the past 30 years. UAE's oil and gas industries and the transportation sector are the main contributors of air pollution. Dubai, the emirate's most populous city, is among the world's worst traffic polluters. Earlier this year, the city's municipal government said about 42 percent of air pollution in the city comes from vehicles.
The UAE is also notorious for being one of the world's biggest producers of waste. Average household waste in its capital city Abu Dhabi and regional hub Dubai is 30 percent higher than the annual average waste produced by countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The UAE's water usage is also among the world's highest. In 2007, the World Wildlife Fund said the emirate has the world's largest per capita ecological footprint, meaning the country puts the more demand on the environment than any other.
In an effort to curb environmental damage, the government introduced a series of measures in the past decade. In 2008, the government launched the largest solar lighting project in the Middle East and North Africa in Dubai, called the Green Community. It's expected to save 351 tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year. The country is also on track to become free of plastic bags by 2013. It currently consumes 20 billion bags out of a global figure of 500 billion.
6. Egypt
Pollution level: 138 ug/m3
Home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, Egypt is one of four African nations to make the list of the most polluted countries.
Egypt's biggest source of pollution are factories notorious for polluting the air with lead, gases and cement dust. In addition to that, vehicle exhaust fumes are a major problem in big cities like Cairo, which had about 2.1 million vehicles on the roads as of 2007. About 95 percent of Egypt's 730,000 motorbikes are two-stroke models that emit hydrocarbons equivalent to emissions from 10 to 15 gasoline-operated cars. In Greater Cairo alone, about 300,000 motorbikes release 150,000 tons of air pollution a year.
The country's struggles with air pollution were further exacerbated this February when thick clouds of tear gas and toxic fumes filled the sky during an 18-day revolt to overthrow president Hosni Mubarak. Egypt's environmentalists have also been battling to control pollution caused every autumn when farmers burn rice chaff and other crop remnants. The pollution, known as "Black Cloud," occurs after the harvest and is responsible for over 40 percent of the air pollution in Cairo during this period.
5. Saudi Arabia
Pollution level: 143 ug/m3
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest producer and exporter of petroleum. It also the second largest oil producer and holds one-fifth of the world's oil reserves.
Over the past few decades, as Saudi Arabia's oil industry has boomed, environmental pollution along its 2,175-mile coastline has also grown. Oil, power, desalination and other industrial activities near the coast have led to sewage outflows, and oil and chemical plumes. The country also struggles with high levels of vehicle exhausts, which account for 50 percent of hydrocarbon pollution in the air. That, added to its dry desert climate and windstorms has led to widespread outbreaks of respiratory diseases.
The government has stepped up efforts to clean up the country's air. Earlier this month, French engineering group Alstom announced a multi-million dollar deal to supply machinery to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in Saudi Arabia's eastern Ras Tanura city. The country also launched its first solar power plant this month, which is expected to save 28,000 barrels of diesel fuel annually.
4. Senegal
Pollution level: 145 ug/m3
Inadequate urban planning amid rapid economic development over the past few decades has landed Senegal in the top five most polluted countries in the world.
The West African nation's pollution comes from mining, vehicle emissions and combustion of fuels for domestic energy needs. More than a decade ago, the World Bank estimated that children exposed to smoky stoves in Senegal's Gambia region, were six times more likely to develop acute respiratory infections.
Senegal also has high levels of auto pollution because 85 percent of all vehicles in its largest city Dakar are old and imported ones. The average age for cars is 15 years; for buses, 20 years old. About 40 percent of these vehicles have diesel engines. A World Bank transport study of Dakar, showed that health costs associated with air pollution were equivalent to about 5 percent of its GDP. Like most countries in West Africa, Senegal has introduced regulations to try and control air pollution, but a lack of resources makes enforcing emissions standards difficult.
The country has also been struggling to find a solution for the high concentrations of natural fluoride in its ground water, which ranges between five and 15 times the acceptable standard of 0.7 milligrams per liter. High levels of fluoride can lead to tooth and bone decay. The government is piloting a program of solar-powered water filtration systems in some villages to reduce fluoride exposure.
3. Pakistan
Pollution level: 198 ug/m3
Pakistan's air pollution is nearly ten times higher than levels considered dangerous by the WHO.
Political instability, corruption and a lack of government measures to curb carbon emissions have led to a cloak of thick smoke over major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. In 2008, a government study revealed that every car in Pakistan, regardless of its age, generates 25 percent more carbon than one in the U.S.
Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city has a capacity for only 700 vehicles per hour, but according to the study, there are more than 11,000 vehicles per hour on the roads. The city, which already has more than half the country's 3.5 million vehicles, adds up to 400 new cars a day.
Water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste has also become a major problem in the country. In addition, Pakistan's water supply is evaporating so quickly that it will become a "water-famine" country by the end of this decade, according to the country's Centre for Research and Security Studies.
2. Botswana
Pollution level: 216 ug/m3
It might seem strange that a country with a population of only 2 million people, and the largest proportion of land under conservation in the world, is the second most polluted nation in the world. But, that is the case of Botswana, 80 percent of which is covered by the Kalahari Desert.
The country was one of the poorest nations in Africa at the time of its independence from Britain in 1966. Today, Botswana is one of the world's fastest growing economies, and the largest producer of diamonds. The country has transformed itself into a middle-income economy with an annual average growth rate of about 9 percent, according to The World Bank. Mineral revenues account for about 40 percent of government revenues.
With growing wealth, the southern African nation has experienced widespread environmental damage. Wild fires and pollution from the mineral industry are the main sources of the country's poor air quality. Copper smelting for example has been blamed for sulfur dioxide and nickel emissions.
1. Mongolia
Pollution level: 279 ug/m3
Mongolia is the world's most polluted country and also home to one of the world's most polluted cities — Ulaanbaatar.
The city of 1.2 million accounts for about 45 percent of Mongolia's population. During the coldest months of the year -- December to February -- Ulaanbaatar's horizon is completely hidden behind a thick grey-brown smoky haze.
The country's main sources of pollution are its traditional coal-fuelled stoves and boilers used for heating and cooking, as well as congested traffic and old cars. Heating is essential for the survival of its people for about eight months of year. The country uses everything from coal, wood to refuse, such as black tar-dipped bricks and old car tires to fuel stoves and boilers. Ulaanbaatar's dry climate and severe windstorms further worsen its dangerous levels of airborne dust.
Rapid urbanization has also been a major factor behind the country's pollution problem. Ulaanbaatar's population has expanded by 70 percent over the last 20 years with the city's infrastructure unable to keep up with growth. With an air pollution level 14-times higher than the WHO's standard threat level, the number of premature deaths, chronic bronchitis and respiratory related hospital admissions are on a rapid rise. The government has been trying to mitigate the problems by introducing measures such as cleaner coal-based fuel and modern stoves to address its pollution crisis.

This news really saddened me. Most of countries on the list are Muslim countries! It's sad that we are going so far away from the teachings of our Deen. When we moved here I use to feel so depressed with the all the recyclable items that went in the garbage and also the amount of chemicals they use in EVERYTHING! I have been planning on posting about how we try our best to reduce as much garbage as we can in our home by simply "reducing, reusing and recycling". Also what are something we do to reduce toxin levels in our home. I believe that change starts with yourself and then encouraging others. This post has really motivated me to compile my list of things to help reduce in the polluting of the planet.