بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“Everything of beauty //
Has its thorns.“
— from a song by Safe Adam.
Recently, while I’d been walking to the local supermarket (to get, among a couple of other things, ingredients to make some Korean fried chicken: Dakgangjeong). I’d noticed something, I think.
About three different sets of people who’d been walking the opposite way to me, on the same side of the street. Had crossed over to the other side.
Now, as Muslims: we’re encouraged to think the best of things, and of people. Sometimes: we find that we can be very wrong in our thoughts, and even in our ‘convictions’.
Maybe it sounds at least somewhat egocentric to think that it’s ‘about me’. Maybe: when someone meets you with a cold, unfriendly-seeming glare. [Maybe they’re just tired, or not having a great day.] When people cross the street, even though it seems more-than-wide-enough. [Maybe: they’re especially afraid of contracting Covid. Who knows, but Allah ?]
Truth be told: I’d sort of turned my head afterwards, to see if they’d been trying to get somewhere on the other side of the road. But: no. It looks like they’d just crossed after seeing me. As far as I remember: once, twice, and then a third set of people, maybe a couple.
I remember hearing a white-British Muslim YouTuber, who’d reverted into Islam only a few years ago now, Maa Shaa Allah : saying that he’d felt inclined to cross over to the other side whenever he’d see, for example, headscarf-wearing Muslims. He’d been… afraid, I suppose. Of what he did not know.
When I go outside, I wear a headscarf. And an ‘Abaya: a loose garment that covers my body.
Is it true that some people might look at me: fearfully? Or: in a hostile manner, even? Or: simply just quizzically [quizzically: confused, surprised. In a questioning way. I also lowkey love the way that this word is spelt!]?
Or is it ‘just my anxiety’?
Even if some people really dislike me on account of my ‘apparent Muslim-ness’. I must remember that: I’m simply in love with Islam. I love being Muslim, way too much to care too much. AlHamduli Llah ! Best thing that’s ever happened to me: Allah Guiding me.
- Allah has Guided us to the side, the path, the street, of Truth! And may He Guide those who might feel inclined towards crossing to the other side when seeing us:
to the side of Truth also!
Today my parents and my brother are coming back from a summer trip to Antalya, Turkey.
I didn’t go with them this time, partly because: I’ve been to Turkey twice already, AlHamduli Llah. Plus: I thought something else I’d agreed to would overlap with this trip, so there was that too.
Anyway: in preparation for their return (and, perhaps, for any visitors we might receive), my nan has cooked up… five different dishes, Maa Shaa Allah . Plus rice. In a uniquely short amount of time!
Her baby chicken curry >>>
And her meat-and-potato curry too >>>.
Here’s a photo that my brother (who’s going to turn ten years old tomorrow, In Shaa Allah !) took while on the plane, and had edited himself, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik:
I love my brother, Allah hummabārik. Over there in Turkey, he’d found a cat that looks like the one who lives in our house [I won’t call him ‘our cat’, since… he isn’t property.].
My brother had also… got his hair (temporarily,) spray-dyed his favourite colour: purple. And did one of his favourite things there too: some swimming! [My dad had been updating me with some pictures].
أَلَا بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطْمَىِٕنُّ ٱلْقُلُوبُ
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest/comfort/satisfaction.”
— Qur’an, (13:28).
I really love that, although life in the Dunya gets difficult and strenuous [strenuous: requiring a lot of effort,] we have different ways in which we can…
Rest. And find comfort, and satisfaction.
Allah Tells us that it’s in His remembrance that we — believers — find that rest/comfort/satisfaction that we seek.
It’s actually a very nice thing to do: to rest in your bed or on your sofa or something, in comfy clothes and fresh, nice-smelling, sheets and so on, with Qur’an playing, for one example. [I’d recommend using SoundCloud, and not YouTube, since: no ads! Plus you can click your iPhone off, and still have it playing…]
Here is an accidental screenshot I took this morning:
The Prayer Mat Project.
Today, at Dhuhr time…
I’d asked some friends, and some sisters who are part of a Muslim women’s group that I’m also a part of, to send some pictures, if they wanted, of where they’d be praying Dhuhr (the early afternoon prayer) today.
My little cousin Sarina gave this a name: The ‘Prayer Mat Project‘.
- We had, for example, my friend ز, the one who loves… spoken word poetry, and karate, and the colour yellow. And who is ethnically Somali, and is currently a medical student at Imperial, Allah hummabārik. She’d prayed Dhuhr today in her living room.
The prayer mat, she said, is from Saudi. A “good person” got it for her, as a “gift“.
[I despise the actions of the Saudi Arabian government so much that I shall, instead of calling it ‘Saudi’, call it… the Hijāz region. The part that comprises: Makkah and Madinah, as well as Jeddah, Tabuk, Yanbu and Taif.]
I told ز that the flooring in her house looks nice! She said:
“The whole time I told my mum we shouldn’t change the flooring,” but that “ever since she did everyone’s been complimenting it.
“I guess it shows mothers really know best”.
- Next, we have my little (eleven-year-old) cousin, who’d also sent a picture of the prayer mat she’d been praying Dhuhr on.
She said that her mum had bought it from Whitechapel before she’d gotten married, back in 2009. She’d been in London from her former home in Kent, doing some shopping with family members.
[I think that’s actually the day we’d seen my aunt and the others in Whitechapel, back in 2009. Since: my mum had also been shopping there that day. And: I’d been… in the nearby library, with my friend. Doing homework, and probably thinking I’m being really ‘cool’ and ‘grown up’ for doing Year Four homework, researching Ancient Egypt, I think it had been, at the library.]
- My friend had explained that she’d prayed Dhuhr today “no where swanky.” The hospital at UCL (University College London): she works there as an engineer, fixing hospital equipment, Maa Shaa Allah . This is a picture from the women’s prayer room there:
- A very pretty picture, also, from someone else in the women’s group, Maa Shaa Allah . She’d prayed on a prayer mat that some “friends” had gifted her. This picture is from when she’d first opened the gift up:
- Today, I’d prayed Dhuhr in my living room at home. On a mat that I’d bought as a gift for my dad a couple of years ago, from an Islamic bookshop I’ve worked at, in Whitechapel. The mat is in the style of some of the mats in the Prophet (S A W)’s masjid in Madinah, Al-Masjid An-Nabawi.
And, recently: I cleaned it using some bicarb of soda (which can be good for cleaning carpets and upholstery).
- Finally, a former colleague of mine from an Islamic secondary school we’d both worked at sent me a picture of where she’d prayed today: at her current place of work, “in the stock room”. It’s her sister’s.
You know: from some of what I’d been writing a bit earlier. About, essentially, people perhaps ‘not liking’ you based on your apparent Muslim-ness; based on what they think they know about Islam.
It’s okay to say that certain things… can hurt. At least for a moment.
I’ve heard of examples of Muslim midwives being accused of being ‘terrorists’. Muslims being called ‘Filthy Arabs’ in Paris for no good reason. Etc.
Allah is Al-Khabeer. The All-Aware . He Knows.
He Loves you.
For example: when some of the people around the Prophet (S A W) had rejected his Message. Even though they’d known of the truth of it: some of the Christians and Jewish people and so on at the time. Some of them had branded him a “liar”.
And this… hurt the Prophet (S A W). He’d been… a human being, too.
In Taif, in the Hijāz: rocks had been thrown at him, until he’d bled.
“We know that you, [O Muhammad], are saddened by what they say. And indeed, they do not call you untruthful, but it is the Verses/Signs of Allah that the wrongdoers reject.”
— Qur’an (6:33).
*Note: in the Qur’an, sometimes Allah Refers to Himself as ‘We‘. ‘Our‘, and ‘Us‘. This is, in the Arabic language, referred to as the ‘Majestic Plural’. An indication of Magnificence: to refer to a Singular as a plural.
More from The ‘Prayer Mat Project’.
- Here is my friend ك’s daughter’s prayer mat:
This mat had been a gift from her (my friend’s daughter’s) aunt, from the Hijāz, three years ago.
- Next: ك’s own prayer mat. Is “very precious” to her. Her “youngest son” had gifted it to her when her father had passed away, less than two years ago now, I think.
“I cried with happiness when he gave it to me“.
“Such a thoughtful gift”.
This is what it looks like:
- One of my friends from sixth form had been joined by a “little furry friend” for Maghrib prayer: [Cats. Seem to love. Prayer mats!]
- And: another sister, another one of my former colleagues, had been outside IKEA (Scandinavian-style furniture shop. In case anyone didn’t know that,) at (Maghrib) prayer time. And so:
Wherever we are. This whole Universe belongs to Allah . The whole Earth is a masjid for us, and, as creations and servants of the Almighty : we belong.
AlHamduli Llah .
I also found this on Pinterest, and it’s pretty beautiful, Maa Shaa Allah :
My family are now back home from Turkey, AlHamduli Llah .
And, perhaps since he’s turning ten tomorrow In Shaa Allah : I started watching some old videos of my brother, with my brother.
Ten whole years, Allah hummabārik, of being such an adorable and hilarious little human!
Like: the time he’d tried to – climb into the elephant enclosure at an open zoo.
– Drank little pots of milk (you know: the ones shops sometimes have for tea,) as though they’re shots, as a little four-year-old or something.
– His dancing in public: at a restaurant or two. At Asda (supermarket). Etc.
– Went to a wedding, and started acting like a “zombieeeee.
“Zoooombiiiiiieeeeee.” With a bit of chocolate fountain chocolate on his face, no less.
– Used to give random animals names. Like “Tim”. And his ‘pet squirrel’, “Percy“.
– Once, when he was quite small: I’d asked my little brother what you call a big spider. He was trying to say tarantula: he’d said… a “chancellor”. My little cutie patootie, Maa Shaa Allah .
- I really love humming and singing at home, even though I wouldn’t say I’m particularly good at it. And: there’s a particular song that I sometimes sing. Ed Sheeran singing about his unborn child, I think (back when his wife had been expecting).
Sometimes my brother sings a part or two of this very song. But: he’ll change the lyrics for me, to make it sound like I’m adopted, which he says I am.
About ten years ago now: my baby brother had opened his eyes to the world for the first time.
As far as blessings go: there’s Islam. My Deen, my life.
And there’s: my family, AlHamduli Llah . And friends. And good food, and lots of things to do, and learn and think about!
Sure: things of beauty have their more thorny days, and times. But that’s okay: I promise to love the whole rose, In Shaa Allah .
Recently, I’ve happened upon another newspaper article about…
A trio of violent-extremism sympathisers. The article had been written back in 2019, and here in this article, I’d like to talk a bit about this issue, In Shaa Allah .
‘ISIS’. This is a group I’d come to find out about back in 2015, I think it had been. We’d been coming back from doing ‘Umrah (the semi-pilgrimage) in the Hijāz.
And: we’d found out that three girls had gone to join this… group.
In this particular article: some telling signs.
One of the ‘ISIS sympathisers’: had plans to break into and rob a Muslim-run jewellery shop, and also had plans to carry out fraud. And had been found to have been in possession of thousands of pounds of stolen money.
- In Islam: we aren’t even allowed to steal a penny. From anyone. Aren’t allowed to cause harm. And when it comes to the rules of war [defensively fighting oppression,]: there are rules. For example: trees can’t even be chopped down. So what on Earth is going on there?!
- I think the majority of ‘ISIS”s victims continue to be… Muslims.
The very language that these violent-extremism sympathisers employ: abhorrent. And deeply disturbing. Believing in the senseless murder of innocents.
Anyway, because I sometimes research things of this nature and so on: my electronic devices may well be tapped by the government. Hello MI5 agent, if you’re reading this.
- To clarify: I’m Muslim. I pray, AlHamduli Llah . I fast, and I believe in following the way of Ibrahīm (AS), of ‘Isa (AS) and of Muhammad (S A W). And, to clarify further: some groups that certainly do not have authority over me: the Saudi government. The Iranian one. And ISIS.
- Because I hope that True Religion, and not: Money, and Power, and Pride. Is my goal here, In Shaa Allah .
[One time, when I’d first come to meet someone. It seemed like he’d wanted to talk about… the Saudi government. Just: immediately. And, it’s like: either he’s simply quite passionate about ‘global politics’. Or: he’d seen me, and just thought… Saudi… Arabian… government.]
I’ve written before, on this blog: about some things that show that, fundamentally, violent extremists, and their supporters… are not close to, to draw upon the name of this blog, the heart of Islam.
You’ve got the example of the one who’d purchased an ‘Islam for Dummies’ book off of Amazon, before plotting to carry out some attack.
As well as the example of the pair, I think, who’d recently closed down their wine establishment, before trying to do something violent.
The person who’d stabbed Salman Rushdie: the incoherent nature of his statements. Camping outside, travelling over 19km to get there. Saying he ‘doesn’t like him [Rushdie] that much’, because he’d spoken ill of ‘their’ (i.e. Muslims‘) beliefs.
And: there’s this guy, for example. Robbery, fraud, and… violent extremism.
- Are these people… okay?
As a brown Muslim girl from Tower Hamlets (East London,) myself, I bear at least some resemblance to the girls who’d gone to join ISIS. At least one person has ‘jokingly’ compared me to them.
- One of my classmates from school had made some ‘ISIS’ joke about me. So, because he’s Italian: I called him Mussolini in return.
It’s recently been revealed that it had been a Canadian spy, an agent, who had facilitated their entry into that region in Iraq. [It is in Iraq, isn’t it?]
Calling into question, once again: the role of ‘grooming‘ in this whole situation. As well as: that of trafficking.
- I wonder if these girls: like millions of other practising Muslims, stopped to pray Salaah at the airport. I wonder why they hadn’t been… wearing headscarves, even, while at the airport. But they’d come to this decision to leave their homes, families, and so on. Travel without a Mahram, to some foreign land. Who knows what they’d been ‘promised’, and told? Did they know what they’d been getting into?
I know this might sound scary…
But I’ve actually seen this particular YouTube video, a ‘music video’ of sorts, that violent-extremist sympathisers, apparently, like to listen to/share.
It’s so strange.
A bunch of guys, sitting around a table. Sort of violent ‘gang’-style. Faces covered, I think. Brandishing weapons. And: showing off how much money they have.
- Just because words pertaining to Islam might be on their lips. It doesn’t mean that Islam is what is in their hearts.
There are resemblances between: the works of violent gangs, and these groups of violent extremists. And, maybe: how they seem to promise such things as… a sense of identity, belonging. An ‘exciting’ (in all the wrong ways,) shock factor. And so on, and so forth.
Islam is the religion of: Beauty. Moderation. Ease. Honour. Justice. Love. Gentleness. And so on.
And where are these very things to be found, when it comes to groups that advocate for senseless, and deeply disturbing and spiteful, violent extremism?
Something that my ten-year-old, Maa Shaa Allah , little brother had woken up and found this morning:
A card, as well as a gift hamper with an attached balloon, from our mum’s good friend, our aunt.
[She does this basically every year for him, Maa Shaa Allah . Bringing him presents at around midnight!]
Although I no longer actively celebrate birthdays [there’s our two Eids for gifts and celebration!] I wouldn’t go so far as to say that birthdays are… ‘Harām’.
For breakfast today: my brother wanted Coco Pops with hot milk [I might be… ‘sharenting’ right now. Or… ‘share-sistering’.]. At a specific time (he said please).
[Both our parents had been at work today, so I’d been in charge of my brother.]
The milk: he’d requested for it not to be microwaved. But, made like this, the classic way:
For lunch: well, my dad had left us his debit card before he’d left for work. For food and everything for today.
For lunch: my brother had pizza. And, for brunch: I had an English breakfast. [Please never deport me, okay British government? I had an English breakfast today!]
And: my brother and I had gone to some museums. Someone else had come with us: one of my (GCSE) students, J, whom I’d been tutoring this academic year just gone, AlHamduli Llah . Soon, In Shaa Allah , she’ll be going off to boarding school for sixth form.
[I read somewhere, I think, that it’s good to go places in groups, of at least three.]
One awesome thing about our home city, London (UK) is that: lots of cultural experiences, like going to museums… are free! So, for example:
J’s mum, when we’d gone to pick J up from her house [and my brother didn’t want to go inside. He said, since they have cats at home. And he didn’t want for our cat friend Safi to “smell other cats” on him.], had given me something that she’d got back from France for me, when she’d gone there to attend a wedding recently!
It’s so lovely: a nice bracelet, which happened to have gone really well with my outfit today, AlHamduli Llah .
This is the pretty packaging it came in:
This is another picture that my brother had edited, while on the train to the museums:
And this is the beautiful bracelet [so kind of J’s mum to have brought back!], on my sleeve:
When J and I had been leaving J’s house:
We’d essentially found my little brother just outside, waving at someone. I assumed: the person he’d been waving at had been… I don’t know, someone from football training. Maybe: a young coach/trainer or something.
Turns out: he’d been waving at a complete stranger. For ‘fun’, I suppose.
- J’s mum had also really kindly: given us some money, to treat us all to dinner. Which had also been very, very kind of her.
This Earth is simply an awesome place, Maa Shaa Allah .
Although Dunya certainly has its daily struggles…
What a wonderful world.
What you’re about to see below is: something called ‘stibnite‘.
According to the plaque that had been with it at the museum: it’s one of the main sources of the element antimony. It was actually ground by the Ancient Egyptians in order to make kohl (eye makeup).
Naturally, quite a few things that you’ll find at the Natural History Museum… look like they’re just things that are… straight outta Minecraft.
But… it’s art that imitates reality, isn’t it, and not really necessarily the other way around first. Sigh. Maa Shaa Allah : what a wonderful world.
Here is another picture that my little brother had edited, Allah hummabārik:
Here’s a great fan that we’d found, and had… stood in front of for a little bit, at the museum. [It was kinda warm inside].
A big part of nature is… the aspect, the element of change.
Sometimes: change can feel quite… traumatic. Sometimes: even changes you might have thought had been ‘bad’ are actually… blessings in disguise, AlHamduli Llah .
And some changes, AlHamduli Llah , are just so, so good for us!
I think I know at least three — no, four. Or even: six, or more — people who are currently going through seismic changes in their lives at the moment.
Things like: starting secondary school for the first time.
Things like: being pregnant with her first child In Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik.
Starting boarding school…
And: J’s mum, actually, Maa Shaa Allah : is going into the field of medicine, In Shaa Allah . Initially: she’d been in the field of Finance. Perhaps even: for years.
J’s mum is from America, and recently did some of her GCSEs here in this country, in order to make some steps towards that medical goal.
- I love how: it’s never really ‘too late’. Or, sometimes, ‘too early’. And how, sometimes: things might be right for you for a while. And then: change is right for you.
Another example of this is: something I’d been speaking to my friend Joanna about recently. A girl who’d studied and practised in dentistry. Completed her degree, and worked as a dentist for a few years too, I think.
And then: she’d trained as something like an organic chef in Italy. Making food straight from the garden. And dentistry wasn’t really for her. At least… ‘anymore’.
Things change. We change. But, it’s also really nice, and comforting, AlHamduli Llah , that some things — roots, let’s call them — stay the same.
Allah ‘s creations are simply… amazing.
We’re a part of creation. And, woah: Subhaan Allah . We’re alive!
Fitfully: not happening steadily and regularly. But, for example: in random[-seeming] bursts.
Allah has a Plan for us.
Change is a certainty.
“Even the simplest system may show unpredictable signs of change.”
I somehow managed to drop some hot chocolate on myself: I’d put the cups that we’d used into a paper bag, to dispose of all the rubbish together. But one of the cups hadn’t been empty, and so:
The paper bag had leaked without my knowledge.
Something that is also pretty cool, Maa Shaa Allah , is: how often we use aspects of, elements from, the Earth.
Even in our day-to-day language. For example:
- Nerves of steel
- As good as gold
- Every cloud has a silver lining
- All that glitters is not gold
- A diamond in the rough…
- You’re a gem!
Can you think of any more?
[Imagine spending a night at the museum!]
The last time I’d visited this particular museum had been… some years ago, now. My aunt had taken me, and some of my cousins, there.
And: as far as I can remember, there’s a prayer room there.
There’s also a prayer room in places like… Westfield (Europe’s biggest shopping centre. Which, interestingly, is ‘split’ between two different locations in London).
Selfridge’s has a nice one too.
Universities often have prayer rooms. And hospitals often do too.
So, as we know, the whole entire world: is pretty amazing, Maa Shaa Allah .
And so is… the human being.
“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth.”
— Qur’an, (41:53).
Now. Look. How. Cute. This is:
At one point during our museum outing:
Something had been missing from my bag. Something valuable. Oh no!
Had I misplaced it? Had it fallen out?
We’d (well, I’d) asked someone working at the museum if they’d happened upon it by any chance. And he’d told us to ask at the Information Desk: Lost Property.
And, Subhaan Allah : [I’d told my brother to make Du’a that it’ll be found]. It had been found! And we had to wait for a security officer to bring it over to the Information Desk for us.
In the meantime, while we’d been waiting:
My brother had picked up a museum map, and I’d given him a pen. To circle any places in the museum, any exhibits and so on, that he’d like to see. And…
Today, we’d also been asked by someone at Security where we’re ‘from’. My brother said: ‘London’.
The man thought we might be from “Qatar”. Since: my brother’s top said Qatar [Airways] on it. A ‘Paris Saint Germain’ (football club) T-shirt, from Turkey. Sponsored by Qatar Airways.
- I think I agree with my brother though. As far as places go. AlHamduli Llah : we have Bangladesh, we have the Hijāz. And: I feel like I’m ‘from‘… London.
Aesthetic water bottles [made of another aspect of the Earth: glass.]
And being sold for £1.75 a pop, no less:
Sigh. What even is the best part of museums? The actual exhibits, or… the gift shops?
Three simple words that could, perhaps, instigate [instigate: to bring about,] a whole existential crisis:
[Skip to the next part if you don’t think you can bear the existential weight of it!]
You know what else is pretty… cool? Pretty… pretty?
Rocks laced on the inside with crystals/minerals.
So many colours lace and beautify this Earth: the entire spectrum of them. Isn’t it lovely?
Isn’t it wonderful?
Subhaan Allah .