The Salve.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Today, I hope to write about the women in black,

for the most part, at least. Headscarves and ‘Abayas: image of modesty and elegance. Niqaab, too, covering their faces, oftentimes. Drinking herbal teas;

eating vegetable soups, snacking on popcorn;

talking about the nutritional significance of bone broth. Discussing whether or not vaccines are a good idea; [read: Rockefeller and the ‘business’ of Western-capitalistic medicine and all.]

Their children, in those moments, under the supervisions of childminders, sometimes; with grandparents (who may or may not spoil them), others. They may be from Oxford, Bedford, Manchester, Scotland; with specialisms in Maths, and/or the natural Sciences, and/or the Arabic language.

Parents and families from Algeria and Spain; Lebanon; Pakistan, and the rest. Travel to the school via train; some drive; some are picked up by their husbands, live with mother-in-laws, have authored a book. Chronic illness, perhaps, but regardless of anything:

ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ

All praise be to Allah.

Some may have grown up as ‘substitute parents’ for their siblings; some of their names, in meaning, have something to do with flowers (‘Gul’). Some know how to make personalised bookmarks out of drying resin, with silken strings.

Some bring in things like samosa chaat, to share with everybody; gift their students with those aforementioned bookmarks, baklawa trays; boxes upon boxes of cupcakes, which they may have stayed up that previous night, making.

Pray Salāh during their breaks; go to Tesco during their breaks. Fast on some days; discuss all these matters of Islamic significance, at the table. Skincare advice and having grown up with brothers. Experiences of war, and those aftermaths: things torn apart.

The labours of childbirth, and all that may precede it. A trip to Scotland, after managing the English department, while pregnant. Her precious ‘vintage-style’ teacup. A display wall, and it looks beautiful:

Cursive writing, and highlighters; origami boxes. Worries, and fears; new learning, and pain. And lots and lots of love, and laughter.

Sometimes a man, presumably from a Christian background, will decide to call you “sister“. And, “God bless you!”

And you, too.

[May Allah love you, Āmeen: something a sister I didn’t know said to me, today.]

It is a type of recognition, sometimes: didn’t Maryam (AS), mother of Jesus (AS: may Peace from Allah be upon him) cover herself too?

And so on, and so forth:

To pray to Allah, and to praise Him always; to speak good words; to give charity and to help those in need.

To believe in our Creator; to trust Him, and to accept the messages given to mankind through Noah (AS) and Ibrahim (AS) and Moosa (AS) and Jesus (AS).

Muhammad (SAW). Compass, map, and guide, to this journey to Islam: journey of these hearts of ours, and in undeniable submission to Allah.

[And when you may be shouted at, to go back to where you came from! Well: why don’t we all? Back to primordiality, back to the basics of humanity, and how we need Allah. We always need Allah. We are made from clay; we were all children once; why won’t we return to where we came from?!]

Sometimes some non-Muslim women will tell you, seemingly out of the blue, that their father was Church of England, you know. Things like this. It is, I think, a recognition:

That, sister, we are children of Ādam (AS) so how could I not recognise you?

And we need Allah, always, even when people may think they do not. Each heartbeat requires its Maker’s permission. (Lub-dub, lub-dub)

And, brother, so much of this world, and our own selves: it is in crisis. Gripping, and nauseating, at times. Heavy.

And the beauty, Truth, goodness of Pure Monotheism… this is surely the salve. Be still.

Islam is family, and generosity. Gratitude, and courage. Patience and forbearance, and lots and lots of hope. You, dear friend, are never alone.

The storms come, as they may, and though the rain may fall, just as it does. But your Lord has not forsaken you, and something in you already knows the truth. How do we learn to be still; to let it be known?

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