بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Today, In Shaa Allah : there will be a movie night happening at my nan’s house. With some of the cousins: girls’ night tonight.
- As far as fun and fulfilment go:
For the Muslim… the ‘clubbing‘ life isn’t really for us. We’re not allowed to drink, or do drugs. Or have illegitimate sexual relations (or even come close to that). Many Muslims also don’t listen to music: viewing it as being a form of intoxicant, something that can corrupt hearts and stir up illegitimate desires within us.
And I know that, perhaps ‘especially’ with that last point about music: some might come to view this as being… ‘too much‘. Some people do find great ‘pleasure’ in music, just as some others do in… drinking wine. But I think I’ve seen before what attachments to music can result in: the effects do seem to mimic those of… intoxication. Losing control, and becoming addicted and all. And so, music is something that I’ve chosen to stay away from.
- There’s always, instead: singing. And: duff drums [a friend of mine is really good, Maa Shaa Allah , at playing the duff drum. She even teaches it to kids sometimes].
Part of having Īmān [Īmān: faith, adherent belief] is: modesty. Shyness, holding back on certain things. Not to points of excess: never to points of excess [and hence why I would strongly disagree with any conception of an ‘Islamic nation’ that enforces the Niqāb/’Burqa’ obligatorily, by law. That step should remain a choice].
When Muslims watch movies… We do tend to, for example… look away/forward whenever there are inappropriate scenes and so on. Truth be told: I kind of assumed that that’s sort of what… anybody would do.
But I think this actually a mark of having Hayaa’, (modesty, shyness, holding back) which, again, is a mark and a branch of faith.
Kind of a funny story, I suppose:
I grew up in a Muslim family, in East London here in England. There are quite a few fellow Muslim brothers and sisters here. In fact: at the secondary school I’d attended, on Fridays, the school building, the corridors, would look so… bare. Roughly three quarters of students at that school, I think, had been boys. And: so many of them had been Muslim boys/men. Friday lunchtimes: Jum’uah time [the congregational Friday prayers. Which women can attend too.].
When the time for the next step in my life had come, [I’d chosen to go to a different school for sixth form: Year Twelve and Thirteen,] I’d spent far less time, I suppose, in East London. And far more time: in Central London. At a school that had brought together all kinds of different people.
‘Lefties‘, ‘Righties‘, and ‘centrists‘.
Muslims, non-Muslims: Catholics, Hindus, and so on. There had been some variety back at my school/area in East London. But not on this new level.
I’d also: come across far more Middle-Eastern people than before. Shi’as, as well as Sunni Muslims. People who came from really wealthy backgrounds, as well as people on the other end of the material-wealth spectrum.
People with different talents, skills, hobbies, and inclinations.
And: I’d come to meet and befriend a range of people, AlHamduli Llah .
Like: an ethnically Portuguese girl who’d explained to me that Portuguese people’s surnames are sometimes based on… types of tree.
And: a girl who enjoyed ballet, and someone who was super good at baking, Maa Shaa Allah . And an artist or two. And so on.
Anyway: one day, I’d been in the cafeteria. Possibly in line to get… a cup of £1 coffee [for some reason, it fascinated me that a school cafeteria could sell coffee/hot chocolate and so on, from a machine, for £1].
There: I’d overheard some people from the year above talking about… a party they’d be attending. And: who’s going to bring the drinks and everything.
I went downstairs to my new group of friends and expressed my surprise. Like: what? This stuff actually… happens?!
It’s not just a ‘Netflix’/American-high-school-drama thing?!
I think my surprise had been met with… something of a calm ‘yeah,… and?‘ attitude. These were things, I think, that they’d been used to.
Slowly: I’d come to know. That people do ordinarily drink, do drugs. Meet with people they’d met on Tinder. Get facial surgeries done, and so on.
I know that it can be easy to struggle. To think, for whatever while: is that what ‘life’ is all about? Am I… ‘missing out’, somehow?
I also came to learn that: Allah was Right. He is always Right.
All that stuff: the Harām stuff, the Dunya ‘glitteriness’ and so forth. They’re pretty-seeming lies.
It’s not what we: might see on Instagram. Instagram pictures don’t shine an accurate light on it all.
Things like: the heartbreak and so on that can come about as a result of engaging in ‘casual’ relationships.
Things like: the addictions and bodily diseases that can be caused by drink and drugs.
Things like: the ways in which your heart, and mind, and body, and soul can be affected, and corrupted, as a result of these things.
- When Allah has Provided us with certain rules: we have to know that it’s for our own good.
- And don’t let the Chief Deceiver: Shaytān. Deceive you into thinking otherwise.
The Movie Night.
We: the girl cousins, as well as our aunt, ended up watching a ‘scary movie’.
I: kind of wanted to watch a family-friendly movie. I’ve been into Arab dramas/movies recently. Like this particular wholesome one about… some kids that get kidnapped by bandits. And their grandmas plan their rescue. A ‘feel-good’, family movie. Egyptian.
[Maybe: I’m actually Egyptian, and my brother’s right, and I was simply adopted by this Bengali family! Because people have said that I look like I’m from there…]
My cousin’s wife, who’d also been there, wanted to watch a Korean movie, I think.
My aunt wanted to watch a thriller.
But we’d ended up watching a ‘scary’ Turkish film. But not without first saying our prayers: this stuff (Sihr: ‘black magic’…) is based on things that actually happen, and which people actually do.
The movie wasn’t really all that scary, to me [sometimes I find that I’m a real scaredy-cat. Sometimes: I’m not].
In our cousins’ group chat, my cousin’s wife (not ‘girlfriend’, but religiously legitimised as: wife,) had asked us:
My cousin’s wife (who has the same first name as me,) had been fine too. But my other cousin: not so much…
[Adhkar: ‘remembrance’. Surahs/Du’as you can say at around Fajr (pre-sunrise) and Maghrib (sunset) times. For protection from evils and harms].
I stayed over at my nan’s, and had… Paratha and crispy eggs with chai for breakfast the next morning.
[I, the writer of this blog, am Bengali. So: South Asian. I know this isn’t supposed to be ‘Journey to the Heart of Bengal/South Asia’, but naturally, a lot of it will be… what’s normal to me.
Though I do, In Shaa Allah , want to explore and write more about… Middle-Eastern ways of doing things. And: West African ones. Indonesian. And so on…]
I fried my food in… extra virgin olive oil. Even though I don’t think you’re really meant to use EVOO for frying. Anyway. The smoke alarm only went off… twice.
And my nan used a broomstick to turn it off, twice.
My nan is a very important, central, figure in our family, Allah hummabārik.
And, every day: she’s busy. She’s doing her thing.
She’s reluctant to allow any of her grandkids to help her out: with cleaning and so on. She just wants for us to relax, put our feet up.
Today, after eating, I decided to do a bit of washing up at her place.
I (being… somewhat anaemic. Let’s use that excuse,) lightly dropped one of her mugs in the sink, by accident. A yellow mug with a flower on it, as well as the word, ‘Nan’.
I apologised for dropping it. And she basically asked: apologise? For what?
If it breaks, it breaks. What’s the matter?
And then: she made it, somehow, about death. ‘We all die anyway.’
Beautiful Blueberry Muffins.
Yesterday, partly ‘for fun’, and partly in order to stunt for this blog I suppose:
I decided to address some people I love and am close to, AlHamduli Llah , as: beautiful blueberry muffins, to see how they might react.
We had one of my cutie-pie relatives, who’d responded with:
And then, my (paternal) cousin who’d recently returned from a summer trip to New York (accompanied by her brother: my… other cousin,) and who’d come back so jet-lagged that she found herself sleeping until around 7pm…
- Later: we’d migrated from the bakery section to… the home section. She referred to me as a ‘curtain pole’.
And then, when I’d called my aunt a blueberry muffin on our group chat, my aunt said nothing, but my (maternal) cousin just said that she wants a blueberry muffin now.
An interesting little mix of responses.
Anyway, my cousin who’d recently come back from New York. Said: she loved the skylines there.
But that there’d been rats. Lots and lots of rats. There. As well as some possums.
A cute text that made my heart smile today:
From my friend ن, who, In Shaa Allah , will be attending an educational Islamic event tomorrow. Tickets for that event cost £60 [it’s going to be held by a quite-popular institute: Al-Maghrib], however you can get a big discount if you volunteer there.
So: she’s thinking of volunteering, I think.
She’d also invited me to come along [but, right now: I’m trying to save money! Though Islamic educational events are always good!] and added:
Truth be told: I don’t think, as a Muslim, that real fun, and fulfilment, are to be found in Harām things, and in things that are far away from Allah : the very Owner of everything.
Muslims: we find a great deal of meaning, purpose, and fulfilment in… prayer. We find a lot of goodness and fun in and with family, AlHamduli Llah .
Some Muslims, also: like… mountain-climbing.
Travelling around the world.
And so on. As Muslims: we do enjoy our lives, AlHamduli Llah . And have fun.
As long as we don’t neglect our five daily Salaah, as well as what Allah has Ordered of us. The world is wide, and there are lots of things we can do.
[As well as some restrictions, which are, we will always find: only for our own good!]
Kind of like: a kid who might… really enjoy eating sandwiches. And biscuits. And cereal bars and fruits. Good stuff.
But then: suddenly… He sees…
Some Tide Pods.
And really wants to eat them.
Because: they have nice colours in them. They look super ‘exciting‘ and so on. And: (in some circles, it seems, at least…) ‘others are doing it!’
However: they’re toxic. And adults with his best interests at heart would guide him away from… eating Tide Pods.
This is what the Guidances are like, for us. As ‘shiny’ and ‘colourful’ as certain things may appear before us, for example on Instagram:
Allah Himself has Informed us that all of that stuff… ain’t the one.
And so… it simply ain’t the one.
Instead of trying to ‘spice up’ our lives with things that are… not beloved to our Creator, [e.g. … the wine can wait for when it’s gonna be amazing, and not harmful. In Jannah!] we can instead legitimately, genuinely, seek to spice up our lives with…
And, sweeten it all up with things like:
Here are some things that rest on the shelf above the radiator you see when you walk into my nan’s flat:
Far left: chilli. Spice.
Next: a pin cushion. For headscarf pins.
Then: a Yankee candle. For things to smell nice.
Finally: a gorgeous, Allah hummabārik, painting of Masjid Al-Aqsa, painted by my cousin’s wife [so: by my nan’s grandson’s wife].
And also: a bunch of cloths, drying off.
Something that my aunt had been snacking on yesterday, I think, had been:
A sweet dessert, a kind of pudding.
Based on what I’ve learnt from this Kuwaiti drama (set in Egypt,) that I’ve been watching: Arabs eat Halwa (also known as Halva) too. The cultural/geographical ‘bridge’, so to speak, between the Middle East and South Asia is, of course:
Persia. From which Halwa originates! [Well: some say it comes more from India, I think. A lot gets shared/learnt as a result of, for example, trade. In the world in general. And: from friendships, from knowing people.].
- If an Arab person finds you sweet/good-looking, they may say that you are: حلو (‘Haluw’). Or, the feminine form: حلوة. Halwa!
Well, I just got a response back from another family member whom I’d texted the whole muffin thing to. At first, she said, ‘??’.
So I said it again.
‘I don’t like vlueberriesb.’
A cool app I’ve come across recently:
Is called Ziffit.
You can get rid of any old books you have lying around. You simply:
Download the app. Scan some barcodes. Get immediate valuations for how much they’d pay for those books.
Put the goodz in some boxes, and label it with a unique code they’ll give you. Et voila! They have them picked up; you get paid!
Another thing I really think you can find fulfilment in, AlHamduli Llah , is: reading. When the book piques your particular interests and so forth.
Istishārah and Istikhārah.
Some of my cousins seem to quite like their… trainers.
You know: some people are, by their natures, ‘petrolheads’ (they like cars). Some: are foodies (we like our food). Some are: bookworms. Or: book dragons, to use a more politically correct, perhaps, term.
And you’ve also got people who are really interested in… trains. Gadgets. Skincare.
Sports. Plants and animals.
And… sneakerheads: people who quite love their trainers.
Today, one of my cousins saw that there’d been a ‘big sale’ on some particular designer trainers. Jordans.
And she wanted to buy a pair, and posted on our cousins’-and-aunt group chat about it.
I said that if I were rich, maybe I would try to buy her love with them… [Iz joke.]
‘alas my love cannot be bought dearest.’
… Which is good. For we are not, AlHamduli Llah , and nor are we meant to be: blind materialists.
Ah, but then:
My cousin’s older brother (so, also my cousin,) had figured and pointed out that: that’s not the Jordan website:
‘Jordans are sold through Nike lad.’
Potential crisis averted, AlHamduli Llah .
“GREAT IM GLAD I TOLD U GUYS BEFORE I ORDERED”
This example of… something that pretty much just happened.
Is an example of the Islamic principle of: Istishārah. i.e.: consulting people before going ahead and making a decision. Very beneficial: you can learn things, get help, get advice, that you wouldn’t really be able to figure out/get if you were to try to do things ‘alone’.
And then: Istikhārah is the next part, generally. Asking Allah for Guidance, and to make it Good for you.
- This website: which markets itself as ‘jordanofficial’… you can WhatsApp it, as my cousin had pointed out. Very likely not legit.
Which sorts of shoes do you consistently seem to gravitate towards? I think that says something about you!
And: which sorts of books tend to pique your interests? Which sections might you feel inclined towards going to, at a bookshop?
How wide the Earth is.
Do you ever find that you… accidentally forget, for whatever while, about just how big this Earth is?
Like: even considering just your hometown / home city. And all the different types of people, ways of doing things, and so on, that it is home to.
Even in one single home with… let’s say, five or six people living there. There’s variation, there’s diversity and novelty and so on, between and among them.
And then: to zoom out more and more. Your family/household. Yourself. And: your neighbours. The people in your entire local area.
The people in your entire city.
And: how wide the continent of Africa is. And Asia: how expansive each country it’s made up is!
Like, sometimes: I think I forget, for example, just how big and diverse the region that we call, ‘the Middle East’ is.
Kuwaitis, for one example, collectively, are quite different from, say, Egyptians. And there are so many people who are Arab, so many people who are Middle-Eastern.
So, so many people who are mixed race. African, European, South Asian.
Latin American. So fascinating to think about.
- Random fact: often, in terms of variation among peoples, even from within the same ‘country’ or region. You see differences in language. Sylheti Bengali is rather different from Dhakai Bengali.
And, in Arabic: one word for ‘why’, for one random example. Is: ‘Li Maadhaa?’. لماذا.
Whilst, for others, in different parts of the Arab world: it’s, ‘leysh?’ ليش.
“That was what made the school special.” [i.e.: not having a uniform. Said my brother]
The school that my brother attends: which is also the school that I, and six of my cousins had attended, at different times.
And: my uncle, and his little sister, my aunt had attended that school.
It’s never had a ‘school uniform’, except, for example, during our time there: a ‘uniform’ top for PE.
Well, now, according to my brother: there’ll be a uniform.
What do you think about school uniforms?
Personally: something I quite liked about the sixth form I’d attended is that… there’d been a general policy about dressing ‘smart-casual’ and so on. But: no concrete ‘uniform’.
- People aren’t so homogenous [homogenous: of the same kind. All the same, basically]. We’re not… ‘uniform’. [Why would we ever want for people to be?]
And clothes are actually… pretty important, actually. They show something about whom you are; they help to inform your character, your sense of self, too.
I like the idea of having, maybe, some baseline things. Like: things that prevent people from turning up to school… in pyjamas, or otherwise… underdressed, being indecent.
But: to tell kids, colourful and unique as they are… that they ‘must’ all now wear ‘white shirts, black trousers, and a tie…’
- I think that schools should be about nurturing people, no? Holistically, and as individuals. And not primarily about: training ‘future workers’, with their ties and corporate-style clothes, maybe: sitting at desks for ages, also, and all.
Is it time to… write to my brother’s school…? Yes, maybe.
These are… my current trainers. A gift from my dad, from two Eids ago.
They got quite muddy quite quickly, I’d say. So I put them in the washing machine: with some washing powder, as well as some stain remover powder.
Advantages of doing that: clean, gleaming shoes.
Disadvantages of doing that: I didn’t put the washing machine on any sort of ‘soft’ setting. And so: part of at least one of the two shoes is now ripped.
I’m thinking: normalise mending things, instead of getting, becoming dissatisfied, and quickly replacing, right? Perhaps some fabric glue or something ought to do it, In Shaa Allah .
Another blueberry muffin. My ‘Didi’: a Desi word meaning elder sister. My Didi is my eldest first cousin.
Well, I’m glad I randomly texted her today. Just found out that she’s going to… Mauritius tomorrow, on a nice holiday, In Shaa Allah .
My best friend is currently with her family in a quite popular Muslim holiday destination: Turkey.
The streets of Turkey are absolutely gorgeous, Maa Shaa Allah . Old stone, and lovely masjids: some hidden, some quite hard to miss. The Bosphorus [the waterway that divides Asia and Europe!].
And, Subhaan Allah : the sunsets in that country. The sunsets on the beach. Wow.
Turkey is a very interesting country/region. Historically speaking: for example, the Ancient Greek ruins and so forth. The House of Mary (AS) near Ephesus. And so on.
- So if we can’t drink/go clubbing/do drugs, what do Muslims do while on holiday?
Well: you can go jet-skiing, dear Reader.
Sit on the beach, eat Halāl food. Hang out with your family, go on historical tours.
Hire a private hot tub/swimming pool or something.
Go camel-riding. Do adventure sports, if you’re into the idea of that. Go shopping.
Again: enjoy life. Engage in goodness. Just remember to pray, go towards good and stay away from evil. Don’t overstep the boundaries that have been Laid out by your Lord .
- A real-life example of something I found out my friend did in Turkey:
In certain Muslim countries, you’ve also got the availability of:
The Importance of There Being Good Alternatives.
If we’re teaching our kids that: all that stuff is not favourable. Well: what if they come to stand… on the edge of things. Look over at the other side, and come to think that that is where Life… is?
Many young people have Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. With people posting things about ‘partying’ and so forth (often isolating, highlighting, and showing a ‘shiny’ (Tide Pod-y. The colours,) image of it all).
We have to give them, and ourselves: healthy, good, truly enjoyable alternatives.
Like: secure family bases. Let home be a sanctuary: a place of fun, comfort, nurture. For ourselves and our loved ones. Family trips. Let them develop their skills, have their hobbies and so forth nurtured.
Many Muslims, including Muslim children, don’t look at Harām and feel tempted by it all. Because: they love their current ways of living too much!
This morning: after a while, I decided to take my brother to school.
And: we’d picked up his friend ر on the way. ر’s mum had essentially said that it might be nice for the boys to go to school together sometimes. They’re no longer in the same class together, but they’re still good friends with one another, Maa Shaa Allah .
We had some time this morning. Went to the park.
My little brother pushed me on the swing! How strange! My baby brother. Is ten years old now.
We also saw a rat carcass in the middle of the children’s park.
The boys climbed the spider-web climbing frame.
And: I called the local council about the rat situation. Kids were running near it. Seeing that — and, worse still: the idea of accidentally stepping on it — could be traumatising!
[The lady on the other end of the call said that she’d get into contact with the right people and everything. Her daughter used to attend the same primary school as me and my brother: right near the park!]
Yesterday, one of my friends, ج, and my little cousin س, and I: went to Regent’s Park here in London.
Two days before the Queen ‘lies in state’ here.
Security was high. Quite a few police officers about, and one of them, when we asked her: said that there are likely to be quite a few ‘VIPs’ about in the area soon: including Joe Biden, the current president of the USA, a terrorist government.
- Terrorism: the use of violence towards political (as opposed to, for example, self-defensive,) ends.
I’m pretty sure I even saw one police officer holding a sniper.
The three of us had eaten breakfast/brunch at a café situated inside the park, and my aunt had insisted that her daughter, my cousin, pays for herself and for me too, using her mother’s card [she’d written down her PIN number on a piece of paper for her daughter].
I love my cousin س. And I love my friend ج. I love my aunt, and her family, too. Including her baby: three-month-old baby Sasha, Maa Shaa Allah , Allah hummabārik.
Next: we got onto one of the pedal boats in the park, on the lake. And: guess what? I didn’t run over any of the seagulls on the water! Although: the boat did end up touching the kerb a couple of times.
[If I can barely drive a pedal boat well: I don’t see how driving a car on actual roads with actual other people around me too… could be a good idea.]
The world (or, at least, the part of it that I, AlHamduli Llah , am fortunate enough to inhabit,) had been looking pretty lately. Autumn is… in the air!
The weather is Halwa!
It’s very nearly… hot drinks and warmth season. And cold that bites the tip of your nose.
Don’t you just love it when the sun shines through?
Some… beautiful blueberry muffins…
We prayed Dhuhr at the masjid: London Central Masjid.
There, we found that a conference/annual general meeting had been taking place that day, (yesterday,) run by the Nigeria Muslim Forum UK.
We have to remember:
That, yes, the Qur’an is written in Classical Arabic, and that the Arabic language is very important to us as Muslims.
We know that Muhammad (S A W) had been an Arab: specifically, perhaps, Yemeni.
And: we know that the best of us are not necessarily… those of us who are Arab. That would not mean that we are somehow ‘closer to Islam’.
Certainly: some of the best Muslims among us are…
Pakistani. Indonesian. Nigerian. Belgian. Spanish. Columbian. Kurdish. English. Malaysian.
And so on, and so on.
Inside London Central Masjid:
This masjid also has: a lovely courtyard outside. A bookshop inside, as well as a little women’s clothing shop. And two eateries, I think: on the Basement level.
There’s: a library. An exhibition room. And, probably: several other events/meeting rooms.
After our trip: we all went back to my aunt’s house. Where: there were balloons all over the living room floor. Since my aunt is preparing for my baby cousin’s Aqeeqah Party In Shaa Allah .
Aqeeqah: when an animal is sacrificed, for example in Bangladesh, and the meat is distributed to the poor, on the occasion of the birth of a baby. This is to celebrate the arrival of new life, and to thank Allah for the blessing. [And then: some families will hold an Aqeeqah party to mark that.]
My aunt, upon hearing that my friend ج is a fairly new Muslim, Allah hummabārik: wished well for her, made Du’a that Allah makes it easy. Because: as much goodness, fulfilment, fun, and so on that Islam brings to our lives…
Being a believer isn’t always an ‘easy’ feat. [Look at the world around us, for example.]
My aunt said that ج is welcome to come to the Aqeeqah party too, In Shaa Allah : it’ll be ج’s first experience of going to one.
She (ج) and I are in charge of… the balloons. And: making a balloon arch. In Shaa Allah it all goes well on the day…
My aunt made handmade burgers for us. And: later, we had rice and curry. ج had eaten hers with a knife and fork, since that’s what she’s used to and comfortable with.
We Bengalis: tend to eat rice and curry with our hands. [Right hand]. So that’s what I did.
- You know: Karl Marx put forth this idea that… human beings come together as groups/societies for… food. Because of food. That’s ‘why’ people form households, families, businesses, and so forth.
I think: Mr. Marx was partly correct. We do like to gather: at Aqeeqah parties, at cafés, at society meetings and so on, and for food to be there. That fulfils, of course, a central biological drive for us.
But we’re not ‘only’ ‘biology’: we’re not just cellular robots, looking to eat, use that energy, and reproduce.
There’s so much more to us, Subhaan Allah . We don’t love people merely ‘because’ they feed us, do we?
As Muslims: before we eat, and before we do things…
Bismil Llah .
In the Name of Allah .
And: as hard as aspects of life can get at times…
When Allah is With us, there’s a whole lot of real fun and fulfilment and goodness that we can enjoy, AlHamduli Llah . Whereby: we try not to… eat Tide Pods [the British versions: Fairy. And Ariel. Washing machine detergent capsules].
And, we hope that our lives, in this world, and indeed in the Next One:
[I also ended up watching parts of this Kuwaiti drama I’ve been watching, at my aunt’s house. And ج and my aunt ended up watching bits of it with me. Drama!]