Faith and Flowers. And some Weapons, and some Wipes.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم.

Chapter 1: Justice, Truth, and Knowledge.

And why wipes are a good idea.

Monday, and:

My dad had to go to the hospital in the morning, and my mum had gone with him.

And so I’d been at home with my little brother. Saif: his name means ‘sword’ in Arabic. And this boy’s wit can sure prove to be sharp, Allah hummabārik.

This week, we both have Islamic summer school. My little brother: as a student. And me: as a teacher, at the same school (but different class).

This is our second year respectively attending, and working at, this particular summer school.


We had to wake up fairly early. My little brother, being nine years old now, can do lots of things by himself now, Maa Shaa Allah .

Before, he’s told me how he doesn’t want me to choose what clothes he should wear because I might end up choosing a “clown outfit” for him. But today, he wanted for me to pick what top he should wear.

I left him to it. Because what if my choice ended up being ‘clown-y’.


Little bro sorted out his own breakfast, Maa Shaa Allah . And he also wanted to go to Waitrose (supermarket): we had to get some snacks for him, for break time. And also: he wanted to buy… football cards. With the money he’d been gifted, on account of doing well with his football, Allah hummabārik. This weekend just gone, my brother and little cousin had attended a two-day football tournament event. They play for the same little club.

I had to arrive at the school a little early [in term time, it’s an Islamic secondary school. After school: it’s a Maktab. Kids and young people learn Qur’an there. It’s also a part-time tuition centre, and a holiday school. Talk about versatility, Maa Shaa Allah ].

At first: (not-so-) baby bro had taken his time to get up. And then I’d taken my time with getting out the door.

But we couldn’t not go to Waitrose (supermarket) now. My brother, like kids in general, has a strong innate sense of justice. [Kids are like… us, in our ‘original’, unadulterated (punintended), forms. Caring about justice is a Fitrah thing. Fitrah: innate human disposition].

So it’s about fairness, and I couldn’t go back on my word.

I’d resolved to: take him to Waitrose. Let him get his snacks and his football magazines, as we’d agreed. And: to ensure that I wouldn’t be late as a teacher, I thought to call an Uber [that — ‘Uber’ — legit came up on predictive text on my phone, after ‘call an’…]

So we got our things. I also bought some wipes: they tend to come in handy. And come in handy they did, today: with a little questionable-stain-on-desk situation, a painting session, a little drink spill

Wipes. What an invention.


A kind lady had been working at the till. She’d been impressed by how my brother had counted his money. She actually… had seen how many coins he’d handed her. And assumed, maybe: that he’d just handed her whatever.

So she gently said the amount again, and endearingly put her hand out and asked my brother to count the money. ‘Can you find a pound for me first’.

And then my brother explained that: it’s all there. He’d already calculated how much his things would be.

We’d also explained what the note he’d been holding had been for: his football, Maa Shaa Allah .

And the lady was lovely, tried to help him sort his things out, and wished him all the best.


The Uber had taken some time to arrive. And when it did: the driver had been a kind Muslim uncle. We exchanged Salaams, and he’d added the ‘Wa Rahmatu Llahi Wa Barakaatuhu’ addition too [i.e. adding to ‘Peace be upon you’: ‘and the Mercy/Lovingkindness of Allah , and His Blessings.’]

The driver also asked for my little brother to put his seatbelt on. Which my brother didn’t want to do, but he had to. And then: he (my brother) had looked at me, to ensure that I would be doing the same [Hypocrisy doesn’t sit well with those who are inclined towards justice, does it?]

And so off we went. This Uber journey had been kind of… expensive. But paying a slightly high fare is probably better than… arriving to the first day of summer school late, as… one of its teachers.

A bit expensive, to be frank…

This summer school starts at 10:30 AM.

My brother had actually been in my friend ر’s class. I hadn’t seen ر in years, but we’d reunited today, unexpectedly: turns out, she’d be teaching at the summer school too.

I had a class of Year Six and above girls. Some of them: I know from before. And some of them: less familiar faces.

Quick icebreaker activity: I told each of the girls to (say what their names are, and) talk about something funny that has happened to them, or that they’ve witnessed, in their lives. Some girls had little funny stories to share; some seemingly didn’t, really. So I said: you can either share a funny story, or tell us a food dish/type of food that you love. We had, in the class, people who love: noodles, Thai food, strawberries, butter chicken

The ‘funny story’ I’d told from my own life had been: the time I had a little orange or two in my pocket, a few years ago. And I’d seen a guy I kind of thought had been… homeless. His clothes looked kind of rough, and he’d been sitting on the ground. So I… offered him an orange. And: he’d clarified that he’s not homeless. Turns out: it looked like he’d been waiting for a friend to pick him up, to go camping or something………….. [the embarrassment. But: in retrospect, it’s at least a little humorous].

Another funny story, I guess: the time I’d mistaken reed diffusers (a present, I think they’d been,) for… incense sticks. Almost set a bookshelf on fire, I think…


After introductions, icebreakers, and laying down some ground rules:

We had an Islamic Studies session on: key dates in the Islamic calendar. For example: Ramadān, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha. ‘Arafah Day, Ashura Day (which one of the girls in my class had taught me more about, AlHamduli Llah . A lovely girl, and we also ended up having a nice discussion about things like… makeup. She said she likes to debate).

Next: an arts-and-crafts session. Floral paintings, using watercolour paints.

Word of the Day: Botany. Meaning:

The scientific study of plants.

Including: what they look like/how they’re structured, how they are related to each other, where they grow, how they are useful in various ways, to us…

And, to close, [students are picked up by their parents/guardians at 1PM,] we played badminton in one of the school’s halls.


At home time, I had to go and pick up my brother, and then tidy the classroom I’d been in a little.

We walked home, and… my brother had a bit of rubbish in his hand. I told him to throw it in the bin. He (jokingly, I hope,) was about to put it in a red letterbox.

“No, no, no, don’t post it!”


Wipes to the rescue. Yet again.

Bins are disgusting. Public bins: simply gross. Both my brother and I would agree on this. (*Pretend handshake, betwixt siblings*).

And so when the rubbish he’d been trying to throw in had bounced off the bin and onto the ground: wipes to the rescue. To pick it up, and to cleanse my hands afterwards. Throw it in the bin, real quick.


After arriving home: I had plans to meet with a relative of mine. Specifically: my dad’s first cousin, but she’s around my age, AlHamduli Llah . She’d been in London, from Kent, in order to attend a Bangla Soc (Bengali Society, presumably from her uni) dinner at a nearby restaurant.

But first: we met up. Sat on a bench and had some bubble tea (an aunt who brings you bubble tea… Heart heart heart).

And then: ‘bromantic’ moment. She (ف) had a gift for me, and I had one for her (from Eid, but it hadn’t arrived on time). My gift to her had been: a little planet-and-star necklace [we both love the stars, and the planetarium]. Her gift for me: a copy of a book called ‘Empireland‘, by Santham Sanghera. A book about Britain’s imperialist history.

My aunt is a cool aunt, Allah hummabārik.


الله أكبر

Allahu Akbar.

Allah is the Greatest.

At 6PM that day, I joined a scheduled Zoom: a focus group headed by an academic called (Brother, Shaykh [Shaykh: a title of respect for men of age/rank]) Salman Al-Azami.

Dr Salman Al-Azami is a British-Bangladeshi linguist and author at Liverpool Hope University here in the UK.

He’s published several books, Maa Shaa Allah , including one entitled: ‘Religion in the Media: A Linguistic Analysis’.

Dr Salman is also working on another book, and got together three separate focus groups to gain our thoughts and ideas, specifically on the topic of:

The Islamic phrase, Allahu Akbar, and: its connotations and framings in mass media.


I didn’t turn my camera on for this conversation. Because I was just chilling at home, and the brother/uncle/academic leading the conversation had said that it’s fine: we don’t have to.

A very interesting conversation indeed, AlHamduli Llah .

And I’d reflected on what Allahu Akbar means to me. I think I’ve since gained some sort of unfortunate ‘double consciousness’ thing about the phrase. As in: I know what it means.

I know what it has come to mean, to some others.


When a baby is born to a Muslim family, a family member — often the baby’s father — says the Adhān (call to prayer) into the baby’s ear.

For example:

This begins with Allahu Akbar.

Allah is the Greatest.

And when we pray, at least five times daily: we hear and say Allahu Akbar numerous times. Allah is Greater than us, Greater than our worries, our troubles. Allah is the Greatest.

I have memories, also, which I’d spoken about in this Zoom: of going to events at the masjid when I was younger. And, at the end of, say, a talk, or an event, someone would often say, ‘Takbeer!’

And the audience would enthusiastically, collectively, respond with, Allahu Akbar!

I’d experienced this again, last year, at a demonstration for Palestine. There’d been lots of Muslims there, AlHamduli Llah . And in crowds, we’d declared, Allahu Akbar. Though, in my head: I was now quite aware of the connotations and negative understandings that people would have of the phrase at this point.


As a teenager, I’d often be quite afraid in public. Knowing what some may think of me; how the Adhān playing, at prayer time, from my phone might lead to people being uncomfortable, scared.

Having a backpack on the train; on the plane; at the airport…

And knowing that maybe, some would prefer to cross the road, rather than walk near us.

Knowing that acts of anti-Muslim hatred would be on the rise. People saying things, being physical, sometimes. Pushing Muslim women down stairs; dousing their clothes in alcohol [both such incidents had taken place either on a train/at a train station].

And Dr Salman had sent us some newspaper articles, in which the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ had been mentioned. In the headlines, even.

Where: an attacker had been highlighted as having been a ‘practising Muslim’.

We’d spoken about language: words such as fundamentalism. Is it ‘fundamentally’ Islamic, to senselessly murder innocent people?

Who is the more ‘fundamental‘, ‘practising‘ Muslim:

The one who prays, gives charity, smiles a lot, and spends a lot of time with his family? Eats… sandwiches; likes to ride his bike; goes to museums with his siblings sometimes, helps out at the masjid, and likes to read about… Physics?

Or: the one who does not smile very much at all, shouts a lot at his family members, and… advocates for the mistreatment and murder of innocents?

The first example is closer to the Sunnah, which we aspire towards. The second is: far away from Islam. And, yet: some seem to really believe that individuals who are more like this are somehow ‘more Muslim‘, ‘more religious’.


In this focus group, we’d heard from a sister who’d been made fun of at university. People shouting things like Allahu Akbar, seemingly to make her feel uncomfortable. Lots of Muslims, we find, have unfortunately encountered acts of anti-Muslim hatred. And, often: there are evident strains of classism, sexism, racism, within the languages that underly and accompany such attacks. We’d looked at some such examples, in some of the articles we’d looked at for this focus group meeting. From The Daily Mail, and The Spectator. Followed by: a video of Manchester Police officers shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ during an anti-terror training session.


In this Zoom, I think we’d also touched on the concept of… belonging. And on identity. Our identities: they’re not simply to be ‘defensive’. To only ‘combat stereotypes’, and so forth. We truly bring things to the world, as ourselves, AlHamduli Llah .

And: we belong wherever Allah has Placed us. This is His Earth, after all, and it is wide. The whole planet’s a masjid, you know?

So: whether you’re a… Muslim teacher at Eton. A cleaner at the masjid. A Muslim… paramedic. And/or: someone who might feel somewhat out-of-place, at least at times, on account of being ‘different’. You’re a Servant of Allah , and His creation, just like everybody else.

You 100% belong! And not just that: you bring wonderful things too, AlHamduli Llah .


Chapter 2: Embroidery, and Masculinity.

My parents went to the beach today. Meanwhile, I got up, ready, and had to leave for Day 2 of summer school. But not before my dad had handed me £10, and told me to get myself some Subway or something today.

Hmmmm… Maybe Subway got its name from the New York Subway.

Imagine if someone were to open up a sandwich shop — or maybe a pasta one or something — and call it… Underground. After the London Underground.

New York and London, London and New York are kind of like cousins. Quite similar, quite different, all at once, and at the same time.


I took the bus into summer school today. First session: a lesson on success, and what it means to us. From our class discussion today:

I’d spoken a bit about Khadijah (R A ). From a particular book (that I am yet to finish reading. What’s new?) I learnt that she had, apparently, three nice nicknames, which had given to her by others: Sayyida (respected one), Taahirah (pure one) and Jayyidah: on account of her good and intelligent mind and wit, Maa Shaa Allah .

It’s easy to just look at, say, monetarily-wealthy, societally esteemed people in general, and think that that in itself ‘is’ ‘success’. And we have examples like Khadijah (RA) who had been very wealthy, intelligent, respected and also from a noble lineage, as far as I know, Maa Shaa Allah . She used her wealth towards so much of good; her honour had come from Allah . From Islam, a thing held in her heart, and not solely in her hands.


Surah Mu’minoon.

If you want to know some criteria for what Allah — our Lord and Creator — Himself tells us success is: do check out the first several Āyahs of Surah Mu’minoon in the Qur’an. On the website Quran.com, for example, you can find the Surah as well as translations.

It’s comforting, an important reminder, and a beautiful Surah.


Embroidery.

Today’s arts-and-crafts activity had been: embroidery, for my class (the older girls) at least. We used colourful threads, needles. The girls sewed onto patches, to eventually put into little frames.

Don’t mess with me blud. I do embroidery sometimes. And I use sharp scissors.

*The above picture: I ended up sending to my aunt. Just saying, “I used these today”. Her response showed concern, I think. For what? An impulsive wild self-haircut? To cut through… a cushion, out of rage??? And then I’d clarified:

A fuller picture.

We’re going to carry on with this particular activity tomorrow, In Shaa Allah .

Here’s a nice example of an embroidered piece that I’d found on Google. The quote on it is really nice too.

“The right way to right the wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” — Ida B. Wells.

And here’s an example of one student’s work so far from today, Maa Shaa Allah :

After summer school, I ate some sushi. Salmon and avocado. Simply delightful, AlHamduli Llah . Nom nom nom.


Masculinity.

When I think of masculinity: I think of… certain body sprays. Like Lynx. Ummm, I also think of: fellow humans who tend to have big feet. Facial hair. Great 3D visualisation skills in general, Maa Shaa Allah . [Apparently it’s fairly typical for men to be able to close their eyes and visualise 3D objects in their mind’s eyes. And then rotate them in their minds too. Whaaaaat?] Etc.

‘Masculinity’. We generally know what it is, know that there are necessary differences, between man and man. And also:

It seems there are people who are trying very hard to advocate for a pretty particular image of ‘masculinity’. Maybe… someone whom women didn’t seem to respond well to, in the past.

And then maybe: this strange ‘cognitive dissonance’ thing followed. He knew he was attracted to women; he acknowledged the merits of femininity. And, at the same time:

It seemed he’d ‘grown’ to start to really resent women. Started, I don’t know, ‘hitting the gym’, listening to individuals like Andrew Tate… (Yikes).

And then, when he got ‘ripped’ or something, he: started to speak of/treat women like… worthless little objects. Really only there for his ‘pleasure’, and for him to feel ‘bigger’ via trying to really look down on her and so forth.

‘Revenge’ in such ways. Is not ‘sweet’. It’s… sour. A bit pathetic, and overall… it lacks true substance.

Arrogance is not… a healthy-in-any-way excuse for ‘masculinity’. And true security tends to be: quieter. More humble, more loving, and easygoing. You know?

For example: I cannot process how a certain popular seemingly-very-compensatory-in-his-approach ‘’masculinity’ guru’ gets away with essentially saying that… it’s okay for a man to cheat on a woman. Because: ‘whatever’. But if she were to cheat on him: it’s… ‘game over’, somehow.

  • Masculinity, in the good way that shows respect towards Allah , towards oneself, towards women: isn’t about… simply ‘making your bed’ each morning, hitting the gym, and trying to lull various women into semblances of ‘real’ connections and relationships, only to… treat them like objects to then discard.

The notion of equating inflated egos with ‘good, healthy masculinity’ just looks like: arrogance, insecurity, moral hypocrisy, and… empty noise. Irrespective of how much money and ‘fame’ this guy might have. What a superficial and sorry framework for ‘How to be a Man’.

In direct contrast with: the beautiful, true example we learn about through studying the blessed life and ways of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Physically handsome, respected, beloved. Competent, including physically; respectful, intelligent, humble, strong, and soft-hearted. Trustworthy, honest. And a man of such honour, Maa Shaa Allah . Our example.


Isn’t it quite disturbing how some men frequently and ‘freely’ refer to women in general as… (the cuss word that means) female dogs?

Does that… I don’t know, somehow make these individuals feel more like… ‘men’?

Is it ‘okay’ for them to verbally degrade a woman, who is also a daughter, a sister, and so on… in such ways? Would they react well if someone were to treat their own mothers/daughters/sisters in such ways?

Why these discrepancies?

  • Recently, I’d been sitting on the bus, on my way home, I think. And a car had been on the road, next to the bus. Blasting out some song with… really disturbing lyrics, actually. Blatant misogyny, and some man or ‘rapper’ trying to ‘big up’ his own ego. Once again: yikes, and Audhubi Llah . Imagine if some innocent child had heard those exact same violent, disrespectful lyrics as I’d heard that day… Gross, gross, gross.

Misandry.

Among some women, it does seem as though unapologetic misandry — i.e. harbouring such unwarranted hatred/contempt against men — is a significant issue too.

Some people, for instance, simply laugh when they hear that a woman had… slapped her own husband, or had thrown a kitchen appliance at his face or something.

Some women, unfortunately, and abhorrently: refer to men as though they are lowly ‘animals’ too. Why?

Are they talking about their dads? Husbands? Sons?

  • You know that seemingly-quite-popular ‘joke’ about women being ‘scary’ and having control over their husbands in this way?
  • People seem to laugh. Maybe: man seems to be walking on eggshells around his own wife. ‘Hahahaha’. And then: she screams, shrilly, at him. ‘Hahahahah’. Calls him names. Still funny, to some? Maybe: proceeds to hit him, causing additional pain on top of those emotional scars.
  • What are the limits of this ‘running joke’ about the man whose wife is really mean to him? What if the genders had been reversed, in these various individual situations? Would the feelings of fear and suffocation from one spouse to the other not be perceived as being… abusive?

*We need not be arrogant and/or abusive in order to legitimately feel ‘empowered’.

[I personally think that a bit of joke-y meanness can be nice: so long as we know that both people are truly, comfortably ‘in on the joke’.]

But yeah, recently I’ve been coming across couples in which: I don’t know, it seems like the woman truly does not respect her husband. In fact: it may be that she really resents him. She maybe: sees him as an emblem of ‘patriarchy’, which she ‘hates’. And thinks: he ‘deserves’ mistreatment; maybe she thinks she is thus doing her part for ‘Feminism’.


The Story of Our Brother Robert Davilla.

On a more inspiring note. A story I’d come across:

Robert Davilla, May Allah have Mercy on him, was a farmer. In his thirties, he’d suffered from a genetic disorder, which had left him paralysed from the neck down.

So he had to go through the associated difficulties, face those challenges. Including: being the youngest person at a nursing home. Being unable to go places unaccompanied, and without specialist equipment.

Brother Davilla had been from a staunch Christian family.

And his best friend and roommate had also been paralysed. He’d ended up passing away on the operating table: during a liver transplant operation. And Brother Robert ended up keeping an ornament that had belonged to his friend: it had been gifted to him from the passed-on friend’s sister. And Robert kept the ornament by his bedside: a reminder of his beloved best friend.

So Brother Robert continued living his unique day-to-day reality. That is, until one day: he’d seen a distinctive man in his dream. The man had said that his name is… Muhammad.

The man in Robert’s dream had pointed at the crucifix and had explained that God had not sent messengers so that they should be worshipped: He’d sent messengers so that people may worship God .

And Jesus was just a man.

He walked in the markets and he ate food.

And thus had the dream come to a close.

Robert started to Google ‘Muhammad’ (SAW) and learnt more about Islam. He took his Shahādah and memorised some Surahs from the Qur’an, including Surah ‘Asr.

And thus had an American man from a very Christian family, and paralysed from the neck down: been Guided. Subhaan Allah .

*Brother Robert Davilla has since passed on. May Allah Widen and Brighten his grave, and show him his place in Jannat-ul-Firdaws. Āmeen.


Chapter 3: Family and Cake.

Summer school again, AlHamduli Llah . My little brother and I had to decide between taking the bus, an Uber, or the train, to the school. Eventually — because the others seemed like they’d take time — we took the train.

Das my baby bro, das me.

I don’t know why I’d worn woolly boots on a hot day. But they remind me of ‘adventure’, you know?

Some random conversations, betwixt little brother and I. For example: I’d asked him about how he might respond if, say, someone were to be mean to him, try to put him down, with their words.

He said: he’d ask them why they’re talking to themselves.

And: if they were younger than him, he’d remind them to respect their elders.

Sigh. I love this child. Allah hummabārik.

When he’s older, In Shaa Allah : I can kind of picture him being kind of like… the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man. Bit of an edge to him, and… maths equations hidden on the other side of his skateboard.


Day Three of Summer School: in my class, we’d touched on the concept of Sabr. Patience. Something that flowers need, in order to grow. Something that faith requires, in order for it to blossom.

With regard to sports: the girls (well, not all of them. Some of them had sat out, which I let them do. I, too, do not like being made to partake in sports,) played badminton, cricket, and… also had a race or two on the school roof.

Here is a poster that one of the girls had made, for display, Maa Shaa Allah :


And:

After summer school, I went to my aunt’s house (nearby,) for a lunch invitation. It had primarily been in order for that aunt of mine to welcome my dad’s cousin’s wife, who’d joined our family earlier this year, to her home for the first time.

So we had food, chilled. Went on a walk to Sainsbury’s (supermarket). At first, only my aunt (the one whom I’d had bubble tea on a bench with a couple o’ days ago) and I were going to go. But then two of my younger cousins had joined us. And then my little cousin, the seven-year-old.

My aunt had ended up buying the kids some little gifts from Sainsbury’s. Little Lego packets for three of them. My seven-year-old cousin who’d come with us had ended up getting… a toy gun. Sort of like a Nerf gun.

Because she’s quite cute and sassy at the same time, Maa Shaa Allah , people: sometimes like to start on her, as a joke. She tends to have some good responses though. And now: she also has a gun.

Pew pew pew. Don’t mess.

This seven-year-old cousin of mine now also has a baby sister. My baby cousin س. And: what an adorable baby, Allah hummabārik. I got to feed her milk from her bottle again yesterday.

Pictured below:

Shoes, highlighting, at least in part, the amount of… human diversity that can be present, even within families:

And a colourful desserts table, which we’d enjoyed after our little walk, AlHamduli Llah :

I really love how you can be friends with family members. That’s such a lovely thing, AlHamduli Llah.

Two of my younger cousins, for example: they’re currently teenagers, and they are really close with one another, Maa Shaa Allah .

On one of the girls’ room’s wall: there’s a little canvas, with both their initials on it. And their fingerprints, in different-coloured paints, overlapping, to form a little heart. How cute, Maa Shaa Allah !

May Allah keep us all close, with the best people, in goodness.

For Eid this year, those two cousins of mine had come to my house. And: I had some little Eid gifts for them, too.

I’ve gathered that these lil cousins of mine like the ‘sword’ aesthetic, just like me. Swords can be really, really pretty. [Hi, my name’s Sadia, and I named my little brother ‘sword‘ in Arabic.]

So, on Etsy, I’d found: these little necklaces, with little swords/daggers hanging from them. Maybe: a symbol of… love? And… family? Or, just, of: dark beauty, a concept that I (and my cousins) quite seem to like, actually.

Picture from Etsy.
  • I hope the government don’t find out about this though. Because, for example, there was that time that a little Muslim child/his family had been interrogated on account of the time he’d misspelt ‘terraced‘ at school, and had written that he lives in a ‘terrorist house’.
  • Now imagine what might happen if they were to find out that… gasp. Muslim girls with sword necklaces!

Chapter 4: The ‘Sad’ in ‘Sadia’.

Honestly, on Day 4, I’d had a pretty bad morning. I went into summer school feeling quite… overwhelmed, quite sad. For different reasons.

Method of transportation on this day: not an Uber like Day One. Not a bus like Day Two.

Not a train like the third day. But: my dad’s car, for Day Four.

Anyway, I ended up asking for an assistant to cover my class for while. While I went upstairs and hid in the bathroom for a bit… The girls had probably seen that my eyes had been teary.

It’s okay to be human though.

On this final day of the first summer school week, our Islamic Studies topic had been: the rites of Hajj. And I’d learned a thing or two myself, through teaching, AlHamduli Llah .

Later on: I’d seen my aunts again, and some of my cousins. Had some cake from the day before, at my aunt’s house.

Went to see my friend, but: I probably hadn’t been great company. She’s a very emotionally sensitive, intelligent person though, AlHamduli Llah : so she understood.

I went and prayed in the ‘Quiet Room’ of the shopping centre, and someone had fortunately left a prayer mat there, which I’d used.

And then: I went to a place where hearts find rest. The masjid. Learnt some things, ended up having a nap. Read a little bit of Qur’an. Saw some people I know, including my friend ز.

I’m not feeling that great emotionally at the moment, but this is life. And I know that this means that something good is, and better days are, just around the corner. In Shaa Allah .


Spider-Man, Flash, and… Violent Extremism.

Okay, so. Hear me out.

In line with what I’d been saying earlier, about… those ‘masculinity gurus’ with rather questionable views and ways…

I’d like to present the example of… Peter Parker. The third Peter Parker, from the movies. And: Flash Thompson, the guy who tries to bully Peter.

[Imagine my nine-year-old brother here, turning around and asking Flash: ‘Why you talking to yourself?’]

Flash, it seems, wants to compete with Peter in order to be the ‘smartest’. He (Flash) is a bit of a… try-hard, in that sense (no offence). Insecure, but wants to come across as being ‘super confident’. Puts his hand up, gives the wrong answer. Whereas Peter: genuinely is, probably, the most authenticallysmart person in the room.

Flash’s jumpy, bullying, over-the-top behaviour seems rather… compensatory, no? A bid to… make up for the intelligence that he lacks? A mask, to conceal the insecurities he hides?

I see those ‘extreme’ ‘masculinity’ people as being rather similar. Because: the honourably, truly ‘masculine’ men are just… doing their thing, no? Working out, taking their kids to school, giving charity. Praying, holding barbecues for friends/family…

Playing… tennis? Or: golf? I don’t know.

Meanwhile: those who aren’t comfortably, securely, ‘masculine’, might be… trying to blame womenfor their problems. Shouting at people; using cuss words. Bullying people; trying to belittle others, to feel ‘bigger’ themselves. Behaving narcissistically, acting like they’re somehow ‘untouchable’. And so forth.

I think ‘religious ‘extremists” are also similar.

But wearing particular clothes, and trying to put other people down, and behaving unkindly, while seemingly speaking a lot ‘about Islam’: cannot ‘make up for’ authentic religion. It’s antithetical to it. Like how… consistently overconfidently putting your hand up in class without knowing the right answer is… at least somewhat antithetical to (secure, humble,) intelligence, we could say.

Like how… trying to belittle women, and mistreat them, instead of protecting them and honouring them: is really antithetical to real masculinity.

*Religion: a strong, daily, connection with our Creator ; obeying Him , and worshipping Him Alone .

And, connectedly: being kind and loving towards fellow aspects of creation.


On that note, about Spider-Man and Flash and all:

A random story from summer school yesterday…

At the end of the day, I’d been in one classrooms downstairs. And some little kids had been waiting for their parents/guardians to come and pick them up.

One of the little boys had been wearing a Spider-Man top. He had a Spider-Man bag too. So I tried to make some conversation about… Spider-Man, as you do.

Next to him, another little boy. Really cute-and-innocent-looking.

When I’d asked the boy with the Spider-Man T-shirt on what his name is: the boy next to him had answered on his behalf.

Little rabbit.”

I didn’t realise that… the boy that had been sitting next to the one with the Spider-Man top had been… bullying him. He’d ended up pushing the Spider-Man boy onto the floor, right in front of me. With his innocent-looking smile, he’d said that the boy he’d pushed ‘looks like a girl’, on account of his slightly-longer hair [his slightly-longer hair is so cute, by the way. I think it’s actually Sunnah for men/boys to have slightly-longer hair].

And so the boy who’d been bullying the other boy got into trouble. The thing is: just before this whole situation, I’d told some of the girls from my class about how funny and interesting kids’ conversations among themselves can be. Then this happened.

Another Spider-Man and Flash Thompson situation, which had to be dealt with. Sigh.


Now, here is a cool thing that my aunt (the one with the baby. The baby: I might start calling her ‘Brown Eyes’. Because, well… self-explanatory) bought from Amazon, to put wipes packets in [since, for example, sticker flaps often come off, and so wipes dry out]:

In the top left part of the picture: you can also see where my seven-year-old cousin has hidden some of her toy gun ammo. In the cover of her tablet.


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