Not a Leaf Falls.

.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Chapter 1: Raising Roses.

On Thursday, I fell in love with my religion again.

What had it been, about this day?

The thing is: I do feel the part-and-parcel Dunya pains. The quiet, thinking moments; the gnawing thoughts. The various heartbreaks: the heavinesses that can make it feel quite difficult to… keep going. Push forth.

And then: I don’t know. I ended up having a cold drink, and a chocolate cookie. I decided to sit outside for a little while.

Before I knew it: a car had pulled up. One of my dad’s friends. He asked me if I’m having a party or something: presumably after seeing the food packaging on the table. I joked, yep, by myself.

My dad’s friend had come to pick up my dad. Knowing that my dad is currently unwell and unable to drive: some friends and family members have kindly been helping him out. For example, by driving him to and from: his shop, the hospital, the masjid, and the like.

This particular friend of his: from the back of the car, someone had asked, Is that Sadia? [That’s me: my name’s Sadia.]

And: it was… ز.

‎‎ز had been to the same primary school as me, but two academic years younger: in my cousin م’s year. He has a little sister, who’d been sitting beside him in the car, and she is also called م [On this blog, I often replace people’s full names with their initials, to anonymise them a bit.]

It’s very kind of ز’s dad to help my dad out [I didn’t even know that that was his dad].

To have caring friends and family is a very big blessing indeed.

When my dad had to stay in the hospital, just a few weeks ago: people had brought him food, and fruits, and flowers, Maa Shaa Allah . One of his friends had even brought him flowers, presumably in order to brighten up the practical… dreariness of the hospital cubicle. [But: the flowers weren’t allowed inside the wards, and so they’d come home to us instead.]

  • Bromance is just so sweet. To ‘love for your brother what you love for yourself’ [Hadīth].

Anyway, I think I’m fairly awkward, because after a bit of ‘small talk’ with my dad’s friend and his kids, I’d just… gone back to my ‘one-woman party’, while their car had still just been… there.

I think you can tell: the essence of the family, the environmental frameworks and structures, in which somebody has been raised.

‎‎ز and his sister م have clearly been raised by friendly, kind, caring and nurturing people, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik. In fact: when my dad got into their car, ‎‎ز (who is, presumably, nineteen years old currently,) had greeted him as though they are quite familiar with one another. Like friends.

  • If you water a rose, and nurture it well: it will likely flourish.
  • And: the opposite… the opposite. Although: there are exceptions to these norms. Some Prophets’ (Peace be upon them) own family members had refused to embrace the Message of Islam. And, also: certain barren, corrupt environments had given rise to individuals like Ibrahīm (AS), and Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ).

Then, I’d seen my (fellow Muslim, ethnically Egyptian, fellow-plant-enthusiast) neighbour ل, and we’d spoken for a while. About, for example: her plants. The outside of her home is… a flourishing floral array, Maa Shaa Allah . A display of colours, of varying pots and trinkets. And some quite tall roses.

  • Separate-but-connected to that aforesaid Hadīth [Hadīth: Prophetic (صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) narration] is one about neighbours. That we should also love for our neighbour what we love for ourselves.

ل actually advises against feeding plants synthetic fertilisers. Although, as evidently noticeable: those ‘fed’ plants do tend to soar in growth… It can be a ‘little too much’. They can become dependent — addicted — to those substances. And then, they may need more, to carry on. Plants on steroidz, essentially.

ل’s advice for how to get plants to grow well [her garden, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik: contains flowers in bloom. And: tomatoes, and aubergines. Courgettes too, I think. Mint leaves, and so on]. She says: get a little mini rake. You could even get one from a pound shop. And: make sure you aerate the soil using it.

Right next to ل’s blossoming, Allah hummabārik, front-garden, is: something that resembles… a cage. Her next-door-neighbour’s garden. Closed-up in a wooden enclosure. Quite ‘neat‘, granted, and:

He’d boasted to her about how, ah, that part of her garden looks fairly nice, actually. [She’d made a decorated raised flower bed with her own hands, and with the help of her daughter]. But he would want to get it done… ‘professionally‘.

On one of the days of Eid, also: some of my relatives had been playing football near ل’s garden. And I’d apologised to her on their behalf: they’re not meant to play ball games there, really. And: her beautiful array of flower pots… they seem so breakable. I said the boys could relocate to the park instead.

But ل said, firmly and kindly: No! They’re kids! That it’s totally fine with her, if they play there.

Her next-door-neighbour by contrast: had questioned why she’d let ‘the Bengalis’ play there… He’d also shouted at the kids for being enthusiastic, upon seeing (presumably ‘his’) kitten.

  • Arrogance. Through drawing upon wealth and ‘class’. And/or race. ‘Intelligence’. Ideas pertaining to ‘social propriety’. And/or anything else, for that matter. We should try to avoid it, expel it from our hearts, in its entirety.

ل’s next-door-neighbour is not always particularly… kind to her.

Once, he liked a particular type of flowers that she’d had, in her garden. So, she’d given him some of those planted flowers. Yet: when ل had been looking for some sand, in order to work on another one of her DIY garden projects… her neighbour had given her… two tablespoons of sand. ‘No more,’ he’d told her, curtly, straightforwardly.

Because he’d ‘paid‘ for it with his ‘own money‘.

Roses, presumably just like all living things: benefit from good words, too. Including, of course, from recitations from the Qur’an, I would imagine.

Ultimately, it had been language that had brought everything into existence in the first place. When Allah says to a thing, “Be.” And, it is. [See: Qur’an, (2:117)].

Words, environments, affect living things profoundly, Subhaan Allah . Have you ever come across ‘the Emoto Rice Experiment’?

A researcher called Dr. Masaru Emoto had essentially wanted to test the effects of different words, on water. [We know that all living things, including we, have been made from water.]

And the effects are significant.

So: Speak a good word, or remain silent. [— Prophet Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ), according to Bukhāri.]

The opposites of: coldness, arrogance, and miserliness (i.e. stinginess). Are:

Warmth, humbleness, and generosity.

And I love how Allah has Created, for example, women, and our femininity, through which lots of things of this nature are brought into this world. These things, and: things like fruitfulness, in terms of nurturing plants, children, animals. Creativity. Comfort.

Subhaan Allah .

  • Even if one ‘surpasses’ another in terms of: material wealth. And/or ‘status’, children, and so on… It’s not our wealth, nor our physical figures, nor our races, which are actually substantial and meaningful.
  • It’s: how conscious we are, of Allah , and how righteous. In a connected manner: how good we are, to people, to our families, to fellow aspects of Allah ‘s majestic and sublime creations.

ل had also showed me some of her (handmade) interior décor, inside her home. Through to her back garden, where there are more (fruitful, thriving, Allah hummabārik) plants, and handmade things.

In the hallway: the walls, (and the ceiling, if I’m not mistaken) … Are covered in a mosaic made with broken mirror pieces. One of the mirrors in her home had broken, I think ل had said. And so she’d decided to affix them, piece by piece, to the walls. Surround them with gold paint/lacquer.

And this reminds me of…

The gorgeous Japanese art of: kintsugi. The art of embracing ‘imperfections’. When bowls, cups, vases, and other ceramics, break.

[This is Dunya, after all. Things break. Smash!]

And then: you can pick up the pieces. Mend, heal, and repair them: with golden lacquer. It genuinely makes things all the more beautiful, and adds that… human touch. How wonderfully we have been Created, that we are able to conceive of, and do, such things. Subhaan Allah .

  • ‘Perfect’, ‘intact’ things can be cool. Practical. And: kintsugi‘d things are: gorgeous, unique, and… they carry added value, and personal stories!

At roughly 3PM, I went to meet with two of my friends. One of them is back in the UK, from being away in America. The other: has graduated, and has acquired her first degree, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik.

We had drinks (non-alcoholic, of course) and sushi together, AlHamduli Llah . Initially: our options had been… Starbucks. Or: some cafés on the first floor [not cool enough, temperature-wise, for a hot day like that one had been.] But then: we’d ended up selecting a third option, which we hadn’t thought about beforehand. Sushi and bubble tea, from a stall-shop.

And, where to sit down and eat? Starbucks, where one of us could purchase a drink, and the rest of us could just sit there too? Or: upstairs?

Somehow, and also inevitably ( Allah ‘s Plan), we’d been Guided to: outside. Where there’d been a pop-up outdoor seating area. With (real, live) plants. Nice, comfortable seats. And… fans. AlHamduli Llah .

Had our food and drinks, and… delivered a… surprise presentation, to our graduating, Maa Shaa Allah , friend.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is: opportunities, Provisions, from the Almighty . Often: we ‘plan’, but… He plans better. Always. Subhaan Allah .

I love sushi and bubble tea. Sushi: I don’t think I’d previously liked, all that much. Once, my cousin had taken me to Yo! Sushi, and also: I’ve tried supermarket sushi, because it looks kinda cool, how they package things. [Humans, huh? And how much importance we tend to give, in our minds, to aesthetics.]

[Random, also, but: my cousin م has told me that people who use the word ‘cool’ are… simply not what this word seeks to describe.

So… I guess I’m not… cool, then.]

I think it had only been when I’d tried the sushi at the place sort of near me, that I’d realised that I actually love it: the Halāl place, run by two brothers who’d worked at a sushi place in Malaysia. And then, after gaining a good amount of experience: they’d come and opened up their own establishment here. It’s so good, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik.

Chapter 2: What’s your superpower? A heart filled with light!

I had to stay over at my nan’s house, unexpectedly. My dad had to go to the hospital, in the middle of the night, but he’s okay now, AlHamduli Llah .

My brother and little cousins played. Laughed a lot: the sound of real, pure laughter is so cute, Maa Shaa Allah .

And I’d eaten some delicious food, AlHamduli Llah , which my Nan had lovingly prepared for me.

Also drank lemonade. Drinks I’ve been quite liking, in this heat: carbonated (i.e. fizzy) apple juice. Lemonade. Even… sparkling water. Isn’t bad, you know.

The next day, I had to be up early, in order to go and take a test. And I: was sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation is fascinating, though: it tells us something about how much we truly need enough sleep.

Without sleep: it’s like we enter into a state of… drunkenness. It really… ain’t healthy.

I got onto the train, and then: there’d been some things on my mind. And, places where the daughter of Ādam (AS) finds… peace: places like… forests. And/or… mountains, and caves. The ocean, and/or under the stars.

I sat in a little forest, which is adjoined to the college from which I’ve been learning Arabic. There’s a little space, encircled by benches, for campfires, there. As well as: a hammock, hanging from between two trees, nearby.

I’d actually been sitting near where an open-air Islamic Psychology class had been taking place. And so, I’d happened to gain some things, just from being where I’d been. [In Islam: we’re not allowed to eavesdrop on private conversations. But this had been an open class. And the people involved had known that I’d been there.

I’d also tried to eat my little snack, for example, while there, without making too much noise…]

  • Something that I’d picked up from this Psychology class had been: a reminder about our, human, Fitrah: the innate human disposition. The reason, perhaps, why we do love to be in places like forests. We’re made of earth, and of water. We love masaajid too.
  • The Fitrah, essentially, knows what’s up. And so, as Muslims, we try to purify ourselves. To be more attuned with our Fitrah, and more connected among creation, in obedience to Allah .

We’re beings who are destined for Jannah, In Shaa Allah . And, sometimes: the Fitrah can come to feel quite suffocated. Sadnesses can take a hold too. This world is not your Home, but we’ll get there, In Shaa Allah .

  • How connected do you currently feel, within, and as, yourself? How attuned do you feel, with your Fitrah? What things help to facilitate good, beneficial connections for you? And, what things might be obstacles on the paths of such aims?

  • One of the practitioners who’d been leading the class had reminded them that: we’re holistic beings. It isn’t necessarily about treating human friends, and/or patients as… machines. Trying to isolate one ‘problem’, and seeking to exclusively focus on that. What about other important questions, like: did you sleep well yesterday? Would you like to have a cup of tea with me?

  • And: a cute thing that I’d picked up from this class: Dr. Abdallah Rothman, some of whose works I’d come across, prior to finding out that he’s now Principal of Cambridge Muslim College. He’d been talking about a father who’d asked his son what his superpower might be. And the son replies: his heart! His heart gives out light, and that’s how he tackles the bad guys!

Not a Leaf falls…

I’d also been thinking about… where Allah is taking me, I guess. Everything is by His Plan, and by design, after all.

Every step we take: every place we go, every person we meet along the way. It’s by Divine Decree.

We ultimately go where… Allah Invites us to go. To whom He wants for us to meet, and to spend time with, and so on.

‏ وَعِندَهُۥ مَفَاتِحُ ٱلْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَآ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلْبَرِّ وَٱلْبَحْرِ ۚ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍۢ فِى ظُلُمَتِ ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍۢ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِى كِتَبٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ ‎

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea.

Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.”

— Qur’an, (6:59).

None of it is ‘by accident’. Every single leaf that has ever fallen. Every page, in these lives of ours, that has been turned. [The language lover/nerd in me feels the need to say: that, in Arabic, the word for ‘leaf‘ shares the same derivative root as the one for ‘page‘!]

Well, while I’d been sitting outside in that little forest: a single leaf had actually fallen right onto my phone.

I trust, and know, that: Allah Knows exactly where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. It’s all according to His Plan.

Real Humans.

Maybe sometimes we think we ‘know’ people, by skimming our eyes over their social media profiles. And, granted: social media profiles, and what people might say when engaged in conversations with them… These give us parts of truths. They give us some indications towards certain things.

But that’s really not the same as: for example, sitting beside them in a library.

Human beings: we radiate warmth. We do: we get scared, and nervous. We have these… natural scents, which can linger. We laugh, sneeze, do particular things, randomly, unexpectedly.

Who is someone, when: carrying out their quite ‘public’ roles and duties? As, say: a teacher, or as someone who’s quite well-known in their neighbourhood?

Then: how does someone operate and behave when… within the walls of their own home? And, with their families?

And: what changes, when this person is in their very own space, and, on the human level: alone?

  • .خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ
  • In Islam: we know that, “The best of you are [the ones who are] the best towards their families.” [Prophet Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ), Hadīth, Tirmidhi].

And you might come to think that some individuals are just… ‘strong’. Consistently ‘confident’. Like: they, too, don’t hurt, don’t feel sad, and/or confused, from time to time. Don’t… cry. But that’s not true. Irrespective of the walls we may try to build around ourselves: nothing can really alter the truths that remain inside:

The human being, and his/her heart, huh?

What a thing indeed. Subhaan Allah .

In the library where we’d been taking the test: there’d been three male students: brothers. And two female students: me, and another.

Naturally, afterwards: I and the other sister that had been there had come into one another’s acquaintance.

Her name is ا, and her name means (the imperative form of,) Read!, in Arabic.

ا is originally from Pakistan, and she has both ‘Alimiyyah (Islamic studies) and a scholarship dentistry degree under her belt, Maa Shaa Allah .

  • I’ve come across this phenomenon more than once: how, some people, some parents, seem to want to put ‘Dunya’ first, in terms of what their child should ‘focus on’. But: some students, some parents, choose to put Islamic studies and considerations first. Might encourage their children to go and memorise the Qur’an for a few years, undertake Islamic studies classes.

And: it’s Allah Himself who rewards. When they go back to undertaking vocational/otherwise academic studies: it’s a breeze, Maa Shaa Allah . A medical degree? Dentistry? Engineering? It’s Allah who had blessed us with these brains of ours in the first place. And He Grants success to whom, and what, He Wills.

ا (i.e. Alif. Not to be mistaken with the English letter, ‘I’) wanted to go to the prayer room, to pray.

And I (i.e., the English letter, ‘I’: personal pronoun) actually wanted to go to the nearby masjid. To spend some time there. My soul really finds that comfort, that goodness, that it often seeks: in places like forests. And… masaajid. AlHamduli Llah .

After praying in the prayer room, since the masjid had been, according to Google Maps, over twenty minutes away, in terms of walking distance… And how I’d been sleep-deprived that day. I thought: I may as well pray in the college’s prayer room, beside ا. And then, maybe I could just go home instead. [I’d purchased an Open Return ticket for the train home. Which had proven to be a good idea, AlHamduli Llah ].

But ا kindly said: no! She said that I’d now made the intention to go to the masjid. So: she’ll take me there. I tried to politely decline her kind offer (even though I’d wanted to go,) but she’d done that kind-and-firm-at-the-same-time insisting thing.

And so: we went. Our carriage for the little trip: ا’s own white Beemer, (BMW,) Maa Shaa Allah .

Cambridge Central Masjid.

It’s… beautiful, Maa Shaa Allah . Inspired. Natural materials: timber.

Lovely clean carpets, a purity and a peace. Children running, playing.

Just outside: where there are tables and chairs for people… Quite a few kids had been eating pizza. Either the masjid, or perhaps a generous worshipper from the masjid, had bought everyone pizza.

I assumed that maybe those kids had been part of some kind of club or something. At least one of them didn’t speak English, but French.

And, as we’d later come to find: it seemed as though, actually, their respective parents had just happened to be there, that Friday. And so: the kids had come into one another’s acquaintance. Had played and spoken and eaten with one another.

Inside the masjid: people smiling. Being at peace; worshipping. A woman searching for her lost raincoat.

A café section with: 100% compostable disposable cups. People having left food to share: Desi-style (i.e. South Asian) sweets and biscuits. Turkish delight. Lokum, in Turkish.

  • I love Turkish delight: it’s delicious, Maa Shaa Allah . [Still doesn’t excuse what Edmund from Narnia did though… Sold out his whole family for the sweet stuff…]

The Wudhu rooms at Cambridge Central Masjid are really nice too. They even have electric dryers for your feet.

At this masjid, there’s a railing of borrowable ‘Abayas, should a woman wish to cover herself more.

There’s: a nice exhibition room, with some displays and explanations.

A nice garden, outside. A room for mothers and children.

A balcony bit, upstairs. Oh, and: free underground parking.

ا and I had sat down together, to have some snacks and some tea (tea for sleep-deprived me, at least. ا said that she doesn’t drink tea or coffee. Maybe it’s a dentistry thing!)

We… prayed. Read some Qur’an [Surah Kahf, which is Sunnah to read, on a Friday].

And: I also needed to charge my phone. If I didn’t charge my phone: I wouldn’t really have a way to get home using my in-app train ticket.

I had the cord bit of the charger, but no plug bit. I couldn’t see a USB socket anywhere, and was going to look downstairs for one [ا and I had been sitting, by ourselves, on the balcony part, at the back of the masjid. The acoustics there, when you read Qur’an… Amazing, Subhaan Allah .]

But ا had insisted on: going right downstairs, to the car park, to her car. Where she had a charging plug. She’d also brought her laptop up, and managed to get some work she had to do: some emails, and the like. Done. AlHamduli Llah .

At the Train Station.

At the train station, just as in the women’s Wudhu area at CMC, (Cambridge Muslim College,) I’d seen م.

م actually happens to be the sister of someone I’d worked alongside last year, at a girls’ Islamic secondary school, back home in East London.

She’s one of the staff at CMC. And she dresses really elegantly, Allah hummabārik: easily recognisable, even from far away. Has a soft, kind way of speaking, Maa Shaa Allah .

م also had a tote bag on her. With a beautiful design on it. Turns out: the Islamic Psychology Diploma students had gifted each of their teachers these tote bags. Designed by themselves: the calligraphic designs on one side spell out words like, ‘Fitrah’, ‘Nafs’, ‘RooH’, and other Islamic-Psychology-related terms, in Arabic.

On the other side of the bag: a list of the names of all the students and teachers. Students’ names in one colour, and teachers’ in another. What a beautiful, elegant, design and idea, Maa Shaa Allah .

Anyway: both م and I had been tired. And you know that awkward moment when you don’t want to burden somebody with your presence in any way…

I actually said to م that I’m going to sit over there on the train. Let her rest and maybe nap, and that I was planning on doing the same too.

م is a lovely person, Maa Shaa Allah . A kind, elegant heart, Allah hummabārik, and a scholar.

Above: a seating area outside Cambridge Central Masjid.

Chapter 3: Infusions.

On Saturday, one of the American relatives had been visiting my nan’s house. My nan’s niece, whose family lives in New York [her younger brother is also… an NYPD officer. Think: Jake Peralta, but Muslim.]

I’d actually just missed them: by the time I’d arrived at my nan’s house, my aunt from America, and her daughter, and some of her in-laws, had just left.

But I’d seen that: they’d been served some rose milk. It’s something of a Bengali tradition to welcome new guests with some milk, maybe infused with rosewater.

The little cups (of leftover drink) that you see below: had been purchased from… Madinah, I think.

And: I also heard about how my American auntie’s sister-in-law had gifted my aunt (i.e. nan’s daughter) a 50-dollar note. This aunt of mine that she had given the money gift: has learning difficulties. She’s basically a guaranteed inhabitant of Jannah, walking among us here on Earth.

[My aunt wants to buy some dresses with the money. And even ‘little things’ can tend to make her very happy indeed.]

I’d enjoyed a plate of roast chicken, rice, and salad (lovingly plated-up for me by one of my aunts,) there at my nan’s house.

My uncle had also bought for his (both four-year-old,) son and niece: one of those double-child bike trailers. To wheel them around, while any of the adults ride a bike. I imagine that my two little cousins would love being transported around in that. It’s kind of like a rickshaw, you know.

That day, on Saturday, I’d been messaged about an opportunity to go and help out with looking after some kids, at an ‘Alimiyyah graduation event.

And: we go where Allah Invites us to go.

So I decided to go.

[But: not all days feel like they’re particularly ‘good’ days, on the social front. I think I’d felt kinda socially depleted, maybe therefore a bit more anxious, less upbeat, that Saturday.]

I accidentally… arrived at the wrong location. I thought it’d be at the Islamic school. Turns out: the event had been being held at a local masjid. Which is good because: I think I’d forgotten about this particular (quite nice) masjid, for a little while.

So, I went there. Listened to part of a talk about generosity: how Allah rewards us tenfold for what we charitably give away, intending to earn His approval and reward. And: He Rewards us both in this world, and (even better,) in the Real one to come.

The Kids’ Room.

Some board games. Some colouring-in to do. Two little boys playing a game of catch. Some of us sat down and had a ‘story time’: taking it in turns to add to a story, and to… try not to laugh. Bless: one of the little kids kept laughing.

Our story began thusly: a talking carrot. Who lived… on a radiator. Running away from humans — and a fox — who wanted to eat the poor fella. But, somehow: he survives!

And then: the snack room. Some crisps and crackers. Biscuits, tea, squash. All laid out, on paper plates. Some of the little kids went to have some snacks. Including: a little four-year-old who shares the same name as my four-year-old cousin, whom I’d seen earlier that day, at my nan’s.

And this little boy, and his cousin sister, had been so fascinated by how: you add water to squash. Infuse the water with the deep-coloured Vimto. And watch how the colours dance, and how it ends up becoming one yummy drink. [It actually looks nicer if you put the water in first.]

Genuinely: kids don’t require ‘a lot’. The world in itself is: very fascinating, and fun, and filled with good opportunities for us, indeed.

The only thing is: I didn’t feel like I had that much energy, that evening. And kids tend to really pick up on and love: good energy. And they really seem to like authenticity and sincerity.

But, Khayr. Next time, In Shaa Allah .

[I also wanted to wash my hands before eating any biscuits. I was told that there’s a sink in one of the rooms nearby: this masjid has an adjoined secondary school.

So I went there, washed my hands. And found the following display on the topic of generosity, above the sink…]

On my way home, I happened to walk past some kind of gathering happening on a roof. Some teenagers with cups in their hands, I think.

One of them had seen me walking past, and had called out, while putting his arm in the air:

Islam territory!”

I think he’d expected some kind of reaction. But I don’t think any of the people around him had laughed. Some of them actually sounded a bit shocked and disappointed. I just looked at him, and walked past. [Does this guy at least know that Islam isn’t an adjective?

‘Islamic territory’, if anything, my cousin…]

[‘Cousin’ because: we share great- great- great- great- great- (many greats-) grandparents, you see. And their names, of course, are: Ādam (AS), and Hawaa (R A )].

Chapter 4: When in Dover.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.

That morning had been something of a struggle for me. I had a cereal (high-protein!) bar for breakfast. And: I had a train to catch.

11:10, from Charing Cross Station, London.

I, and some friends of mine, and a friend’s friend, had made plans to go to Dover for a day trip. See the ‘White Cliffs of Dover’, have a beach day and all. Maybe: eat some fish and chips.

Well, I’d arrived at the station minutes before our train’s departure. We quickly sorted out tickets: picking them up from the station. [Paper tickets… can make for some nice classic makeshift bookmarks! AlHamduli Llah ]. And, and, and: one of the members of our little group… had been experiencing some difficulty with finding the platform.

Platform 4.

Aaaaahhh! Like, 2 minutes to go.

Thankfully, AlHamduli Llah , one of the people working at the gates of the platform had noticed that we’d been looking for someone, and waiting for them, before boarding the train. He said that, it’s alright: if he sees someone coming, he’ll just open the gates for them, and let them on.

And then: I spotted her. ن. Called out for her a few times, before running to meet her.

Another really good thing that had happened is that: I had ن’s tickets. Since she’d transferred me her money, and then I’d got our tickets. So: she didn’t have to go and print them out. We’d made it onto the train on time, AlHamduli Llah .

  • And: roughly two hours, a good conversation and some relaxation, on the way to Dover.

What does Dover rhyme with?

Range Rover, and … Casanova. [Not an admirable thing to be… A man who… pursues lots of women. But I guess it is admirable to own a Range Rover. Maybe: take it on a drive, all the way to Dover. Make sure you don’t get out of the car and… trip over.

Okay, I think I’m done now.]

I have family who live in the Dover area too, AlHamduli Llah . Including: an aunt who is studying for her PhD in Psychology, In Shaa Allah . And she loves cats. And she and I write each other postcards and letters sometimes too.

She also volunteers (at least, I think she still does,) for a suicide hotline.

That’s also something that the CMC teacher م and I had spoken about, briefly, in the Wudhu area I think: how therapists typically require, or at least really benefit from, having therapy themselves. Unwrapping and processing trauma can be, in and of itself, quite a traumatic experience. And therapists are real human beings, with real emotions and hurts and so on, too.

On the train, some teenagers had also got on at some point, with… balloons on them. Now, my friend ن (who is from South London, while I’m from East,) and I knew: that those balloons were being used for… ‘laughing gas’. Nitrous oxide.

But: my friend ج (who’d grown up in Yorkshire,) had just assumed that… they’re going to some sort of innocent party or something. Just kids with balloons.

And ج’s friend, also ن, also didn’t know what the balloons, and the metal canisters, had been about. She, ن, is from a place called Orpington, a town on the borders of London and Kent. A place where: a child, for example, had asked her (ن is from India and South Africa) if she’d been on holiday to a place like Tenerife recently. Because: she looks ‘tanned’. [Her skin colour is naturally brown].

  • ج and ن said that they’d ‘educated’ themselves on inner-London ‘culture’ by… watching ‘Top Boy’, apparently. A TV series about… drugs.
  • I can assure you, Dear Reader, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen drugs-drugs up close in real life. Ever. Rest assured, I’ve never been… stabbed, here in East London either. [A question that somebody from my sixth form, who’s from West London, had asked me, upon meeting me and finding out where I’m from: have you ever been stabbed?]

Anyway, I think I accidentally made eye contact with one of the teenagers who’d been ‘doing balloons’. He looked a bit ‘out of it’, and enthusiastically gave me a thumbs up in the air.

My friend ن works as a Teaching Assistant at the Early Years department of a primary school. She’s actually the cousin of a good friend of mine, AlHamduli Llah : and that’s how we’d come into one another’s acquaintance.

ن is the eldest of six younger siblings, and is very good with kids, Maa Shaa Allah . Including: with autistic kids. She’s spent a lot of time, at work, with children who are autistic.

Teacher vibes, big-sister energy. Maa Shaa Allah .

And ج and her friend ن had met through: volunteering with an Islamic charity, Human Appeal.

When in Dover.

I saw… a chip shop.

A chippy. And for ‘brunch’, I had: curry chips, AlHamduli Llah . Only: after I’d placed my order… Suddenly the manager or someone had come out and said that the shop’s now out of chips.

It was… a fish-and-chip place. And it was about… 1 o’clock. So: a bit strange. But my order had been the last one possible, and I’d already paid.

Curry chips >>>>.

We went and sat by the beach. The others had some iced coffees, went down to the water. Some people seemingly stared at us quite a lot. But it can be a bit of a power move sometimes, to just stare (and smile) back.

  • Also got a free sunny glow, AlHamduli Llah .

ج and ن went to a different food place, to get some fish and chips. This had been a proper eat-in restaurant. And their takeaway food had looked: like a picnic. With aesthetic boxes, and checkered tissue paper. And wedding napkins, basically.

And ketchup in: little jars.

And (the other) ن and I went to some local shops. Got some drinks, some wipes. ن, throughout the trip, had advised me towards making some better decisions, instead of some… worse ones: again, big-sister/teacher energy, Maa Shaa Allah . She also: thought about her siblings, while outside. Took some little gifts home for them.

  • I was going to do that sneaky thing that my aunts often do: take what the other person’s holding, and go to pay for it yourself.

But: ن already knew. One step ahead: she’d ended up doing the same. Saying that she’s older, so she should pay. So, eventually, I’d given in, and she’d paid.

Christiano Ronaldo!

That randomly popped into my head, because of my little brother, my little homie, Allah hummabārik. I now know about the ethnicity of several football players, thanks to him.

Zieliński is Polish, Ibrahimović is Swedish

We also went for a little hike. Up, to see a nice view: of the sea. The port [geographically, we’d technically been in France, apparently].

And: Dover Castle.

Random, but: apparently, this is a ‘thing’ that many South African people do: saying “Shame” to things. Good and bad. For example:

“I took out the bins today.”


“Also went to the beach.”


“Had some fish and chips.”


“We nearly missed our train.”

“… Shame.

On the way back: more ‘train issues/adventures’. ‘Shame’. We had to rush back to the station, to make it in time for our (16:50) train. But: although we’d arrived there, at the station, just on time, AlHamduli Llah :

Our train to London Victoria had been… cancelled. [How does a whole train get cancelled?! (Maybe… he’d told people that he doesn’t agree with the idea of ‘transgenderism’. Jk Jk.)]

Thankfully, AlHamduli Llah : another kind person working at this train station, on the other side. He asked us what we’re ‘chattering’ about, so I kind of assumed he was about to be rude or something.

He said we could take the 16:49 train instead, to a different station. At no extra cost. And that: if we run into any trouble on the other end… That they could call Dover Station, and that he could explain. I hope this man, and the one from Charing Cross Station, from earlier in the day: have a good day, In Shaa Allah .

  • The toilet on the train: 0 out of 10. Disgusting.

We had a nice conversation. About things like the idea of ‘transgenderism’. It’s interesting: how some proponents of this practice and idea claim that ‘gender’ doesn’t have a ‘biological reality’. And yet, they are the ones who seem to advocate for… the hormonal replacement surgeries, which are, by nature, ‘biological’.

There is definitely: a physical reality to sex and gender. Etc.

And on that note, about gender:

Recently, one of my mum’s cousins has had… a baby girl! Mabrook! AlHamduli Llah .

Here’s a cupcake that had been delivered from his (my mum’s cousin’s) sisters, in announcement and celebration of the good news:

She, the baby, is actually, ethnically: half Bengali. A quarter Moroccan, and a quarter Palestinian. Just like her elder sister.

I think: one reason why I find certain ethnic mixes so fascinating is that…

What had to happen, for him to meet her? And for her to meet, and fall in love with, him? Leading to this child. And, separately, on the other side of the Earth: what had to happen for that child to have been born?

And maybe: they, too, would meet someday. In a city like London.

Get married.

And name their second child, a daughter: Kiara. Allah hummabārik!

  • Subhaan Allah . Allah has Planned our lives so wonderfully.
  • Sabr and Shukr; not a single leaf falls, not a thing happens, within these lives of ours. Except that He Knows. And there’s Khayr [Khayr: goodness] in it, and throughout it!

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