بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So I’d been debating whether or not to go. Materially, I didn’t feel all that ‘prepared’. I’d ended up packing fairly last-minute.
One tote bag, and one slightly-bigger jute bag.
On the one hand, I don’t like it when things feel messy and ‘everywhere’, and just… ‘thrown in’. On the other hand, I also don’t like the idea of having some sort of ‘perfect list’, and being too neat with things. Or maybe I could like the idea of the latter, but, what with the reality of how life is and all: things are unpredictable, for better sometimes, actually.
And things cannot be so neatly ‘contained’.
Like: maybe you… didn’t manage to go shopping beforehand, for everything you thought you may have ‘needed’. Maybe: no time to ‘perfectly iron’ your clothes. Maybe: luggage gets lost somewhere along the way.
Online, you might find all these ‘hacks’ of things to ‘better’ your travel experience. More things to add. Oh no! What if there’s some ‘better way’ of doing things somewhere?
I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of finding, seemingly, no end to the things you could pack.
Four sets of clothes? Or, five? Flip-flops for walking around inside your hotel room?
Neck pillow? Medicines? Blanket? Cushion? Swiss army knife?
I really think it’s just about making the best of things.
And smiling. For what you do have, and what you don’t.
And not getting too caught up on, bogged down in, the material. That’s just added weight, essentially: enough really is more than enough, I think I should remember.
The Art of Travel.
I think it’s a good thing that each time has been different. I’d been carrying different things each time. AlHamduli Llah , I’ve been able to go to different places, see and meet different things.
For this trip, a minibus had been hired, for eleven of us to go together. The ‘plan’ had been: to take our cat too. A ‘cat-sitter’ hadn’t been found in time…
And then we’d discovered that…
Our minibus had been booked for a place in… South Africa.
We live in East London, UK.
The minibus had been booked, accidentally, for a place called East London, a city in South Africa…
The invoice for the minibus: upon closer inspection, the hire had been paid for in… (South African) rands.
Did You Know?
The word ‘safari’ in English comes from one of the Arabic words for tour or journey: سفر (safar). This word had entered into Kiswahili (which is the native name of what we might also refer to as ‘Swahili’).
Oh, and then: Apple named its famous web browser after it, I guess.
So we had to adapt a bit: c’est la vie. Leave the cat at home. My mum dropped off our keys at my dad’s shop, I think, with the new plan that one of her close friends had agreed to come and care for him.
We went between two cars: my dad’s, and my aunt’s.
One of the biggest things we have to realise, I think: although, on the highly limited human level, it may seem as though oh no! Something’s gone ‘wrong’…
In reality, this is what had been meant to happen all along. It has been solidified into Qadr: Allah Decided, and He Said, “Be,” and it was.
A long car journey: about four hours, if I’m not mistaken. And me, with my little cousin د in the back. We passed the time by… talking, I guess. And playing a little made-up-on-the-spot game or two. He napped for a short while.
At one point, my uncle had jokingly asked his wife, who’d been in the passenger seat, if she’d wanted to do the long drive. ‘New Age Feminism’ and all. She… declined. [We find we don’t actually want ‘equality’ in that sense, do we?]
And my uncle had managed to drive all the way, without stopping at services. He’s actually driven from Italy to Spain (or, had it been the other way around?) with his mates before…
Upon arrival at the hotel: some relaxation. Put our stuff down. I love hotels: it’s the appeal of the clean, fresh white sheets. Fresh towels. The little shower gels and things, sometimes.
The comfort of a good sleep, and just being ‘away’ for a little while.
I think praying (Salaah) in hotels can be very nice too.
I’ve also watched a couple of YouTube videos about how they clean hotels, and it. Is satisfying.
So, eleven people, then. Between four different rooms, and they’d made one room into a ‘central room’, where everybody had sat and eaten. We had biryani, which had lovingly been made by my nan, and it was delicious. With sana (Bengali for chickpeas) and potato fritter bites (I think they’re called ‘aloo boraa’). We also had pizza. And there’d been so many snacks about too.
Praying in rooms that you’re staying in, which are not your own: can be really nice. And when you might be going through some things, mentally. And they might feel impossible to deal with alone, and then you leave it to your Creator . Ah.
Just before this trip: it had felt like a bunch of things had come together, in my mind, at once. And: how to deal with them? I am so glad that Allah had Decided that, instead of staying behind in London with the cat, I’d be going. My parents and aunts had essentially insisted on me going this time, and I did.
Allah Gives us answers in magnificent, unpredictable ways. It’s quite awesome, isn’t it?
A pro to having been in the ‘central room’ at the hotels: my adorable little cousins, my caring aunties, gently streaming in, in the morning. Like the sunshine.
For breakfast, my mum had given me some money to cross the road outside of the hotel and buy some things from the local petrol pump.
I got a ‘Nomadic™’ yoghurt-and-oat-clusters pot [good ingredients, biodegradable wooden spoon provided, and fully recyclable pot!], and a fruit smoothie. And some Cofresh™ chilli hoops (spicy crisps. ‘Desi style’.).
The person at the counter had been a Muslim uncle. I love exchanging the Salaam with fellow Muslims: it’s one of my favourite ‘little’ things about going to different places, maybe.
Also: at 11:16am that day, my new cousin had been born. My dad’s sister’s daughter. A girl! So I’m looking forward to being a big cousin all over again, AlHamduli Llah …
Then: we had to get ready to go and see… the central ‘point’ of this trip, essentially: my Burnley cousins.
The Burnley Cousins.
Burnley is a town in the English county of Lancashire. As I’d learned on this very trip: it’s actually the first place my (maternal) grandad had lived in, upon his arrival to the UK, before moving to London. He’d been looked after by my Burnley cousins’ grandad, there.
Things are pretty up Noorth. The hills, the atmosphere. Even the water tastes different.
[Fairly random but: someone among our travel group of eleven had pointed out that, after installing some sort of water-softening system in their house, he finds that it has had a positive effect on his skin. Interesting. I’ve heard that soft water is better for your hair, also. So, pro-tip: soft water…]
Upon arrival at the Burnley cousins’ house: we were welcomed in so nicely: we, with several gift hampers, which my (highly creative) aunt had put together.
On the way to Burnley, we had also stopped to drop off a frame that my aunt had designed for, I think, my cousin’s friend’s wedding: flowers and golden lettering and a mirror, if my fallible memory isn’t failing me.
My Burnley cousins are absolutely lovely, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik. You know how you can sometimes walk into a place, and the atmosphere just feels good, because of the people who dwell there? Like that.
I met some relatives I haven’t met before: a recurring thing, it seems, with me. I discovered that I have a little niece, three years old, called Alina, as well as a baby nephew, called Yaaseen.
Alina seems to prefer girl relatives, while baby Yaaseen seems to prefer being around boys. My little cousin Dawud only had to smile at him, to make him laugh in that really adorable way. And my little brother only had to say, “Ay,” and Yaaseen would start laughing a lot.
*Profuse baby laughter*
*Profuse baby laughter again*.
Que adorablé, Maa Shaa Allah
Alina let my aunts and me carry her from the get-go. Such an adorable, gentle little girl, Maa Shaa Allah . I can’t get over how cute she is, Allah hummabārik.
How are we related to the Burnley cousins?
In terms of how we’re related to these relatives: their (maternal) grandad is my grandad’s (half-) brother, i.e. they have the same dad. And so, their mum is my mum’s first cousin.
They are my two-step cousins. And if I ever have children of my own In Shaa Allah (but more on that to come, stay tuned…) then they and Alina and Yaaseen would be three-step cousins.
I’m so happy that I’m an auntie. Auntie me.
And I love that some of my nieces and nephews are little Northerners, they aare.
Anyway, at one point, at their house, I said that if I ever had a house of my own, maybe I could select a nice wall to (try to) map out our extensive family tree. I also thought that if relatives were to come around for the first time, they could maybe put their fingerprints on said tree. In green, maybe: as leaves.
But the only things are: some people might find that too weird. And: if I were to ever then move house, what happens to the tree?
Upon speaking of this imagined family tree wall, one of my cousins whom I didn’t even know existed until the day we went to their house responded with a somewhat ‘geeky’ reference that I got, and confidently ‘geeky’ people tend to just be the best kinds of people, in my opinion.
The Burnley cousins’ house is gorgeous, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik. And it’s so well colour-coordinated: from what I’d seen, all the rooms have a white-and-grey colour scheme. They’ve basically got two living rooms: the previous resident had converted the garage into a room. They’ve also got a nice conservatory, and a garden that basically looks as though it had been made on some naturally hilly land, so they’ve got a steep part, which the kids seem to like playing on, and on which flowers grow.
It’s got a central staircase, leading up to rooms on all sides. I kind of sound like I’m narrating one of those BBC property shows here.
I think I really bonded with my niece Alina, AlHamduli Llah . We played ‘restaurant game’ together, taking turns to be the cook, and the customer. I love that kids can really just enjoy ‘a little’: that wonderful, admirable ability to be able to make a ‘lot’ out of a ‘little’.
This girl’s bright smile, Allah hummabārik: she simply gleams, and gets really adorably excited about things, and her face just lights up.
At one point, she’d said that she wants to play ‘Boogie Monster’. So I pretended to be a Boogie Monster and chased her around. She found a really good hiding spot: under my mum’s big dress.
I also experienced this little dilemma of what to do: i.e., I’d left my phone back at the hotel, so couldn’t use it as a thing to ‘retreat into’. And after spending time with the kids in that secondary living room and in the conservatory, it’s like: I feel… ‘too young’ to go and sit with the adults at times, and ‘too old’ to sit with the kids the whole time.
I kind of hovered between the rooms. And my uncle said, well, why don’t you try out just going and sitting with the women for a while?
My cousin Jasmin came into the other living room [and, to return to my BBC property show narrator voice: one of the seeming pros of having two living rooms: the men can sit comfortably in one room, the women, comfortably in another]. What timing, Subhaan Allah .
We started talking about her job. She works as a staff member at a care home for teenage girls: girls who, for different reasons, have been separated from their parents.
In their family, they’ve got one sister who is a primary school teacher, two who work at a dental clinic, a brother who is a pharmacist…
The brother who is a pharmacist got on quite well with my brother.
As outgoing as my brother is, Maa Shaa Allah , I think he can often be like me: in that, in certain places, at certain times… we just feel shy, although I think this shows in different ways. My brother had taken my mum’s phone, went and sat and started watching YouTube shorts about football and gaming and memes etc.
Our cousin Rashid said that my brother had been easy to get along with because he’d been a “reserved” kid like that, so relatability. Also, like how my dad’s side, including my little brother, support Liverpool F.C., so too do they Burnley cousins. So: immediate connection there.
I noticed that Rashid, even though he’s on my mum’s side, reminds me of my (dad’s side, first-) cousin Ravi. They’re similar ages, they actually look quite similar, wear the same sorts of clothes, it seems. Both support Liverpool. And: they both seem to have this trait whereby, even though they’re both closer to thirty now, than twenty… They seem to get along with kids so well. Because it looks like they genuinely (still) enjoy things that kids enjoy. [e.g. when my cousin’s family and ours had gone to Saudi together several years ago: my cousin had found one of the hotel’s wheelchairs, reserved for guests who can’t walk for long, maybe. Vacant, not being used. And he’d decided to start wheeling himself down the hallway, having a (wheely) good time].
I think it’s a really nice quality: if someone can sustainedly have, for example, a nine-year-old sense of humour.
- Also, it’s often easier to connect with someone when they already remind you of someone else, isn’t it? When I first started tutoring my little student Erik, who is Spanish and Polish by descent: I had that little thought in my mind that… what if I’m the first visibly Muslim woman he’s closely interacting with? Turns out, as he told me: his childminder’s a Muslim lady. And there’s a teaching assistant at his school who has the same first name as me.
Back at the House.
The house had been fairly busy, one could say. Other Burnley relations had come down, and all in all: different people to meet, personal awkwardnesses to deal with and what-have-you. [It’s in my head. Curb your negativity, me @ me.]
And when I say that the Burnley cousins are lovely, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik
I ended up sitting with the women in the dining room. [Awww, I’d asked Alina to give me a little tour of her house. She showed me the kitchen, the ‘diming room‘. And the big word place she couldn’t say: the conservatory.]
After eating a really nice meal, AlHamduli Llah (A1 chicken, A1 salad, and made with love) we had tea together a bit later.
A nice (*Northern accent*) cuppa and conversation. [Random, also, but for naps/sleep, they say they’re taking a ‘kip‘.]
Of this set of cousins, the youngest is twenty-four. I’m twenty-one. So I don’t think I’d been ‘too young’ to have been there. I don’t know if I’m in a phase where I’m seen, among the elder relatives, as ‘less of a kid, more of an adult’ but…
At some point, the conversation had turned towards: motherhood. And giving birth. A woman’s whole life is coloured by motherhood, if/when she becomes a mother.
But, my goodness: there is a lot that mothers do not say. Do not tell us: they just get on with it. The sheer difficulties, the pains, of the birthing process. Wow.
Reader Discretion Advised. Themes of:
It’s actually excruciatingly painful. Really bad tears, stitches without a local anaesthetic.
And a certain part of the labour pains: the part where a head is pushed out of you… is known as ‘the Ring of Fire’. And that, Dear Reader, is not for no reason.
Needles, stitches, contractions.
How do mothers?!
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا
“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, excellent treatment.
His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months.“
— Qur’an, (46:15).
And after the whole nine-months carrying the child in the womb thing, and after labour pains, ‘Ring of Fire‘ and all [some women’s labour pains last for… three days, apparently. Seventy. Two. Hours.] …
Children, undoubtedly, are beautiful little things, Maa Shaa Allah . But what mothers go through!
Sleepless nights, really exhausted energy levels. Feeding. Nappies. Trips to the doctor’s/hospital. Motherly anxiety, not wanting anything bad to happen to your child, which can really affect your sleep too. Postnatal depression, sometimes.
Your life being engulfed by being the mother of a little one. On top of that: it really does seem to ‘take a village to raise a child’, but sometimes, nowadays, it seems as though some women are sometimes just ‘left to it’.
So living in a big family, or around family, and/or in a good community as a mother seems like a very good idea indeed.
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.”
— Qur’an, (31:14).
In Islam, mothers have a high status. Being a mother opens up the Doors of Jannah for a woman, and, no doubt, there’s such blessing in it.
But I think, at this point, and at multiple points before this: as much as it seems nice to have an adorable child who is made of… you… I think I’d rather adopt, you know?
Look at those extremes: playing ‘restaurant game’ with little kids [Alina wanted ‘cola and chips‘ at one point. And her restaurant was called Carly Restaurant], or… talking about ‘Rings of Fire‘ with adults. I guess it’s nice that you can go between both. And also go upstairs, to pray. Have some snacks [they’d also served for us some delicious tapioca pudding with fruit].
Just: try do whatever is best, in the moment.
When it had been time to leave their house, it’s a nice (Bengali, and maybe in other ethnic cultures too) tradition to give kids who are visiting your house for the first time, some money in their hands. So the little kids got given some money.
We went back to the hotel. Prayed, relaxed. Am I missing anything here?
Oh, yes. Earlier that day, when my uncles and dad had gone to the local masjids for Jumu’ah (congregational Friday prayer,) they’d bumped into one of the Burnley cousins there. And, prior to visiting their house that day, at Asda (supermarket) too.
Upon leaving from the masjid, they told us they’d been approached by someone who had also been there for Jumu’ah: a kind older uncle. The uncle had wanted to share a ‘Good Word’, with them, since doing so is an act of Sadaqah (charity). So he’d taught them something, and then gone on his way.
My aunt had pointed out that: Angels do come to Earth in human form sometimes. Like the time when Muhammad (SAW) and his Companions had been visited by Angel Jibreel (otherwise known as Gabriel).
Umar ibn Al-Khattab reported, according to Sahih Muslim [source] that:
“We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, one day when a man appeared with very white clothes and very black hair.
There were no signs of travel on him and we did not recognize him. He sat down in front of the Prophet and rested his knees by his knees and placed his hands on his thighs.
The man said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Prophet said, “Islam is to testify there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to give charity, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to the House if a way is possible.”
The man said, “You have spoken truthfully.”
We were surprised that he asked him and said he was truthful.
He said, “Tell me about faith.”
The Prophet said, “Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, his Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in Providence, its good and its evil.”
The man said, “You have spoken truthfully. Tell me about excellence.”
The Prophet said, “Excellence is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He surely sees you.”
The man said, “Tell me about the Final Hour.” The Prophet said, “The one asked does not know more than the one asking.”
The man said, “Tell me about its signs.”
The Prophet said, “The slave girl will give birth to her mistress and you will see barefoot, naked, and dependent shepherds compete in the construction of tall buildings.”
Then, the man returned and I remained.
The Prophet said to me, “O Umar, do you know who he was?” I said, “Allah and his messenger know best.” The Prophet said,
“Verily, he was Gabriel who came to teach you your religion.””
I’m happy I got a chance to remember and write about the above, AlHamduli Llah. I’m also happy that I’m getting an opportunity to relay this particular thing:
I think I’ve met an Angel in human form before.
November 2018. When I’d been 17 years old, and we’d been on a family trip to Agadir, Morocco.
And outside a nice masjid we’d been to: a lady, not quite ‘old-looking’. I can’t even place an ‘age’ on her, since she looked older, and yet not aged. Maybe: around the sixty mark, but in good health.
She looked noble and dignified. Wearing simple, clean-looking clothes. With a subtly illuminated face. And, in a gentle way, she’d also been asking for money.
I think this had been a Calling from Allah . A reminder, and a message. It had actually been kind of symbolic:
I think there had been a group of Muslims right nearby, who had ignored the lady, or maybe they just didn’t hear her. They’d been taking selfies in front of the masjid, I think.
In Islam, we are not meant to repel the one who asks [for money], according to what Allah Tells us in the beautiful Surah: Duhaa.
My mum gave her some money, and I remember that.
This encounter with, possibly, an Angel in human form: part of the string of ways in which my Merciful Creator had Called me home, to Islam, after a period of feeling quite… empty. Alone. Distressed.
In those special moments, I’d been reminded of what Islam, my religion, is. Like my Lord had been Calling me home.
Another incident that had happened around that time: back in London, and also quite symbolic, I think…
I’d been standing on the train platform, at the station right near my school. And it had been sort of late, and I’d been feeling quite… all of the aforesaid negative feelings, inside. Lost is probably the right summary-word for it. And I’d been tired, and uncertain. Depressed.
Social things, existential, academic. I think: we also had guests around at my house that evening. So the thought of having to amass the energy to go and be with them.
What’s more, I think I’d bought some makeup from the local SuperDrug, on account, I think of feeling insecure about how I naturally look.
Just… so many things. But I don’t think many people could tell with a lot of the inner negativity I’d been experiencing. I think that my Snapchat and Instagram posts, collectively, maybe often came to give off the impression of a whole different story.
While thinking about things, and being sad:
Allah had Sent to me, specifically at that time, on that train station platform, a blind woman.
I kid you not: this is no movie, but this is from the Almighty…
The woman had been on the wrong platform, and needed some assistance getting to the other side: the right side, for her.
[I hope this doesn’t count as ‘virtue-signalling’, but I just love this story. So:] I got to guide her to the other side. Symbolic. It was me who needed to be Guided, and, of course, Allah Knew best.
وَوَجَدَكَ ضَآلًّۭا فَهَدَىٰ
And He found you lost and guided [you].
— Qur’an, (93:7).
Allah is Al-Lateef, the Subtle, the Most Generous. He Gives us these ‘little’ signs, these reminders. Of what Islam is: it is being Guided, and it is about helping people.
How fortunate we are, to have not been lost forever, AlHamduli Llah
Back to good old Burnley:
My nan had decided to accept the invitation to stay the night at the Burnley cousins’ house: my cousins’ mum (my aunt) is my nan’s ‘niece-in-law’: i.e. her husband’s brother’s daughter. Both my nan and my aunt have since lost their husbands. And both had been beloved men, Maa Shaa Allah .
So, we’d gone back to the hotel, and my nan had stayed behind, at their house. I really love people who can bring out the happiness in others, and people who make people feel comfortable: like it is in their natures to. And this is what my Burnley family are like, Allah hummabārik.
The next day, I’d wanted to go with my uncle to pick my nan up, since… I didn’t really get to say goodbye to Alina, and because I think she’d told me to come around again tomorrow.
This child. Her mummy had been about to get her ready, but she came to the top of the stairs in her adorable little pyjamas, so excited. I think her mum had said that she really likes it when people come around.
[I really miss Alina, and she lives miles away. As her auntie, I want to spoil her. Take her out for a fancy princess tea party outing or something, if she comes down to London In Shaa Allah ]
After saying goodbye to everyone, my aunt and some of her children, I think, had ended up getting a bit emotional. They were really happy that my nan and her family had come to see them, and sad to see us go.
As we were leaving, they’d also given each family some gift bags, with presents for each of us inside. They’d given me a mini pampering/spa set, as well as a yellow [my favourite colour] envelope with a money gift and a lovely card inside. I can’t tell you how lovely this family is, Allah hummabārik:
Inside the card, they’d signed off as ‘Lots of love,
Khala & the rest of your Burnley family
[Khala: Bengali for ‘maternal auntie’. I think we share this word with Pakistanis and Arabs too!]
I love that whatever Allah Decides is for us: is for us. It’s Provision, it’s Qadr, it’s Rizq. It’s meant for exactly you.
Whether this be: a particular individualised trial we’re going through. A trip we are meant to go on. A niece called Alina we are meant to meet and love. And so on.
Subhaan Allah , also: I think I’d been struggling with some anxiety lately, and, in the hotel room, I’d fallen asleep with some Qur’an playing [I tend to play Qur’an on SoundCloud, since YouTube has ads].
And I woke up with my heart feeling at peace, AlHamduli Llah
What’s more: I’d discovered how dates are good for boosting iron levels, apparently. Dates are nutritional… powerhouses. [Repeat after me: mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell].
Specifically, however: I’d read that Tunisian dates are best for tackling iron deficiency. And I’d been thinking about it, since my iron levels are low. Where to get these dates from? Maybe… online?
Subhaan Allah , I’m not even kidding: at the petrol pump near the hotel, I’d casually been wondering: I wonder if they sell dates here. And then I think I’d forgotten that thought.
They did sell dates. 79p for a tray. And, upon closer look: they were specifically Tunisian dates, no less.
Mushrooms are good for Vitamin D deficiency, apparently. (Not the ‘magic’ variety, however).]
The Trampoline Park.
Next on the itinerary:
I like the whole idea of ‘the middle’. ‘A bit of both’. For example: home, and adventure. Hanging with kids (with invisible tea cups, maybe), and hanging with adults (with actual tea cups). And: having a plan, and being adaptable and spontaneous.
We decided to go to a nearby indoor trampoline park, mainly for the kids. To jump about, climb things. I was asked if they should book a ticket for me, too, but: low iron levels and everything. So I passed this time. Plus, personally, I just prefer things when… other people aren’t around. The private sphere. Where you can be… yourself.
[My little brother: these things are his kind of place. He told me afterwards that he’d managed to do a whole front-flip.]
Two of my uncles stayed with the kids, while the rest of us went shopping. We found a little shopping place, and an indoor market. We also went to Poundland, got some snacks.
I sillily looked at the ingredients of something and saw that it contains alcohol, and (confidently) told my aunt we can’t get it: it has alcohol in it. But, actually: I’d picked up a product that’s from the same brand as what my aunt wanted to get. But: different product.
Curb your ‘self-surety’…
[General note to self: absolutely, don’t be hasty with judgements and decisions.
And, counteract ‘immediate’ negative ‘convictions’: they are too often wrong.]
At the market place: nice little things like vegan soaps. Plant-based things.
And then: we went back to the trampoline park.
My little cousins, as well as some other kids that were at the place, found a hurricane simulator thing there, and they were really excited to use it. Their faces: lit up. They’d been jumping with joy and excitement.
So we eventually put £2 in, and… while the other kids seemed as though they’d been having a blast… My little (four-year-old) cousins just looked as though it had not been what they’d been expecting…
One way to get to know people better is, definitely, by travelling with them. You get to know more about: some of their dining habits. Favourite snacks. Hygiene particularities. Some people love the food aspect of travelling; some really like visiting places of historical interest; some like to visit shops.
Some (like me) really love ‘country retreats’, away from the (*Northern accent again*) ‘hustle and bustle‘, to quote one of my Burnley cousins, who’d mentioned that he likes the same thing.
Having a good cuppa, and also a good kip.
Did you Know that sleep is mentioned in the Qur’an as one of the Signs of Allah ?!
وَمِنْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ مَنَامُكُم بِٱلَّيْلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ وَٱبْتِغَآؤُكُم مِّن فَضْلِهِۦٓ ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يَسْمَعُونَ
“And of His signs is your sleep by night and day and your seeking of His bounty.
Indeed in that are signs for a people who listen.”
— Qur’an, (30:23).
Sleep is actually really fascinating. How you ‘drift off’. Dreams, all the various complex bodily restorations and renewals that take place. And so on.
As per Islamic knowledge, and as per how things have been done historically, (I’ve read somewhere) prior to the invention of the lightbulb and so on: we are naturally predisposed to have and do better with biphasic sleep.
Two segments: some sleep during the day, and some at night, rather than one big eight-hour chunk at night.
So the next time you feel that feeling of a ‘midday slump’: why not follow Muhammad (SAW)’s Sunnah, and indeed the Spanish, by having a nap?
- Why be a ‘fiesta‘ person, when you can be…
A siesta person?
A little more on sleep:
At one point, in the car, my little cousin د had been resting against his mum, sleeping. And he sleep-talks. He commented, it seemed on a dream he’d been having: that it’s “Too boring!”
Random Car Conversations. Vroom vroom.
Some random little things I picked up on from our general conversations in the car: my uncle likes to read a five-minute article on his phone or something, upon waking up. To feel more energised before praying Fajr.
And that one nice way of raising money for charity is by offering things like: DIY services, cleaning services and so on. Things you’re good at/enjoy doing, generally. And letting people know that it’s for charity.
We’d also spoken about things like: the ‘inferiority complexes’ some may come to demonstrate, when it comes to matters of religion and to ethnicity.
About: how my aunt does her craft-y things between houses. Takes her things with her. Between her mum’s, and her husband’s. She is, after all, a traveller in this Dunya…
How racism is a major sin in Islam: it’s a form of arrogance (Kibr), believing that one race ought to be ‘superior’ over another, and to actively boast about one’s own ‘race’, and belittle the ‘other’.
And about why Malcolm X had been so admirable as a historical figure, Maa Shaa Allah : he had his principles, and he seemed to have this real… humble confidence about him. A… gentle solidity.
I admire this about Khabib Nurmagodev too: Muslim, undiluted-ly. Humble, authentic, and solid.
They were/are driven by true principles, and not by a desire to seek ‘approval’ from, for example: post-colonially, the (‘Post-‘) Christian White Man.
[A new phrase I’ve learnt: instead of saying ‘punch‘, e.g. ‘He punched him’, you can say: ‘Khabib and deck’. e.g. ‘He Khabib-and-decked him’.]
Your strength, value, success, ability, intelligence, being:
It’s all from Allah Alone.
Finally, on the way back to London, my family wanted to stop by in Birmingham.
U.K., that is, and not: Alabama.
They wanted to dine at a particular popular restaurant. My aunts also wanted to visit ‘Coventry Road’ in Birmingham, for some shopping: there are a few good places for Abayas there.
‘Tipu Sultan’ is the name of the restaurant we went to.
I saw an Afghani flag outside, but then we also noticed a Pakistani one. Maybe: to signal that the food at this restaurant is ‘generally South Asian’.
Outside, also: I saw a really nice car. An Audi R8, in a really nice shade of blue. Now that is a classically pretty car, Maa Shaa Allah
Now, I’m no complete ‘petrolhead‘, but I was also wondering why some sports cars have the word ‘Spider’ or ‘Spyder’ added to the end of them (to denote that they’re convertible). E.g. Audi R8 Spyder. The answer, apparently [source]:
Before we had cars, we had: carriages, i.e. horse-drawn.
‘Spider’ carriages – i.e. lighter, generally open-top ones: the thin spokes [spokes, as I just found out: the lines that connect the inner wheel to the outer] that resembled… spider legs.
Tipu Sultan Restaurant.
Good food, AlHamduli Llah . There’d also been nice prayer spaces upstairs: one for men, another for women. Some of my family members had treated my parents with this meal [paying, yes, for eleven people] since that day had marked twenty-three years of my parents being married, Maa Shaa Allah
I also kind of like to ‘judge’ different places by two criteria: what their food is like, and what their bathrooms are like. [And, importantly, what the people are like].
The food at this restaurant had been really good, Maa Shaa Allah
Nice presentation. I didn’t really get to look at the prices: I have some very loving and giving uncles and aunts who just give and pay for our things, and I don’t think I’m grateful enough for that. May Allah increase them in Barakah in their wealth and what they do.
A Muslim sister sitting a little far away: I think maybe all the customers at this restaurant had been Muslim. I smiled at this sister, and even from a little far away, I saw her face beam back, almost as if we’d been saying Salaam to one another, but without speaking.
So: good food. So that passes Part (i) of the Place Test.
And now: for Part (ii). The bathrooms.
Tell me why I walked into the women’s bathroom and found… three kind-of ornate crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, in a row? [Oh, and a fourth one, kind of by the side, above a big dressing table].
Did they pass the bathroom test part of the Place Test?
Yes. But the only thing is: there were bronze statues there too. And statues are always creepy.
P.S. I wonder what the bathrooms at Harrods are like. Their food: apparently they serve £200 (Halāl) steak there.
I wonder how many actual live cows I could buy with the equivalent of £200 in Bangladesh.
Next: Coventry Road.
My aunties did some shopping: they found some nice Abayas. There are some nice Islamic shops there. And then we had tea (masala chai for me) at Chaiiwala™ (a Desi-style tea and snacks place).
Outside, there had been a man who had been homeless, and, upon being asked if he wants anything from inside, he said he wouldn’t mind a caramel coffee. So my uncle bought him a caramel coffee.
And later, we got into our cars again, for that relatively lengthy drive home.
What a blessed trip, AlHamduli Llah
Currently, after the trip, my dad is in hospital because he’d been experiencing chest pains. They’ve said that he has to stay for some days.
He was taken in yesterday, and I went to see him today.
Upon going into the hospital, I saw my cousin م, who’d gone to visit my dad. م’s doing his GCSEs at the moment. I really admire my cousin’s inherent sincerity and goodness, Maa Shaa Allah : he just does good things without telling people. It’s just a part of him.
He also told me to be careful with the lifts: some fire alarm had gone off, so I think he ended up having to walk up/down eleven flights of stairs.
In my dad’s ward: my aunt, his sister, and her husband had come to visit. She’d brought him food and some fruits, and a flask of tea. And then: one of my dad’s good friends had also come to see him. My dad says he doesn’t know how his friend group even found out.
On the phone with one of his friends: his friend had asked him where he is.
And he responded, jokingly, that he’s “On holiday.” [Hospitals, like hotels, I suppose: clean sheets, a bed. And being away from home.]
My dad has been blessed with lovely friends and lovely family, AlHamduli Llah . My dad also supports Liverpool, and of course, their slogan is:
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”.