بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
*The title is a Harry Potter reference. This is another one:
“What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.”
Fear. It’s often: a part-and-parcel by-product of… caring.
Like when you’re ‘scared for your life’. It’s only because you care about living.
When you’re worried about another: you care about them.
When you’re worried about your interactions with certain people: although feelings of anxiety and all are not so pleasant. It’s a good sign: that you care.
One thing I want to reflect on today, In Shaa Allah, is how:
I’ve been worrying about my interactions with people. It’s normal for a human being to care about things; it’s normal for us to fear, at least about some things, sometimes. And to worry.
I worried, for example, for some reason: that I’d been annoying my best friend. By talking too much. That thought burrowed itself into my head, and for a small while: I’d been ‘convinced’ of it.
I’ve learned that it’s good to talk about things, and to communicate things. Even if you think they’re ‘small’ considerations. A good friend will listen and reassure you, and it’s good to not let ‘little’ unfavourable thoughts, feelings, and so on, build up.
I’m glad my personal ‘conviction’ there was corrected by my loving best friend. Because: the next day, I’d been feeling the same with others. Are they… annoyed by my presence?
An Islamic concept that I so love is: Husn-ud-Dhan. Trying to beautify the ways in which we perceive others. Choosing to look at things through beautified lenses.
If someone seems… like their energy levels are lower with me, on a given day. They might just be very tired. So much to think about. Maybe they’re going through their own things: those things are weighing heavy on their minds. With women: certainly, we are affected by our hormonal cycles.
Between one week, and the next: it’s like we can almost ‘be different people’. So many factors come together to result in the ‘human being’. And our fears, our feelings, our moods, our ‘convictions’ that really, actually, have other, better, plausible explanations for them.
Yesterday, I’d received a text from my dad’s phone. But it was actually my little brother on my dad’s phone.
[Almost accidentally AirDropped the above screenshot to a random person here at this station.]
It can bring great comfort to us, to learn that some of the great fears we’ve had… were actually unfounded. That Allah Knew, while we didn’t know, even when we ‘thought’ we knew.
One thing I have worried about greatly is: my religion. My connection with Allah. I’ve felt scared: was maybe even being a little too hard on myself for a small while. Fears of inadequacy, not being/doing ‘enough’, and of ‘doing things wrong‘.
After easing up on myself, AlHamduliLlah: I feel more… ‘me’. [My soul feels aliiiiiiive. Aliiiiiive!]
I feel closest to Allah when I follow the Islamic principles of moderation. Chill, relax.
And Allah Loves the ‘small’ good deeds that are sometimes overlooked. Like: you don’t have to stay up alllllll night in prayer, in order to be a good Muslim.
But: if you have a sandwich, and someone on the street is hungry, give them your sandwich. Allah will Love you for it. [Something I’d seen my aunt do once, when I was younger. She bought a Tesco Meal Deal, I think, for a homeless person we saw. Plus some snacks.]
Religion, and Love (though: the two are inseparable. They’re one and the same. Religion is: to love God, and to be Loved by Him). They are shown most authentically, a lot of the time: through quiet, beautiful ‘little’ things.
Fundamentally, Islam is:
Shahādah. The declaration that Allah is One, and that Muhammad (S A W) is His Servant and Messenger.
Salāh. Daily prayers. [You don’t even ‘have’ to pray ‘twelve units of prayer’ for Dhuhr, for example. If we consider just the Fardh prayers we have to pray, then: Fajr takes about two minutes to pray. Dhuhr takes four minutes. ‘Asr takes four minutes. Maghrib takes three minutes. And ‘Isha takes four minutes. And you can pray more if/when it’s good.]
Sawm. Fasting. In the month of Ramadān. And you can also do additional fasts sometimes.
Charity. You have to give a (very small. About 2.5%, I think,) percentage of your wealth to charity. Plus: charity of your actions. Saying good words, doing good things.
Hajj. The Pilgrimage. At least once in your lifetime, if you are able.
This reassures me:
“Verily, the religion is easy and no one burdens himself in religion but that it overwhelms him.
Follow the right course, seek closeness to Allah, give glad tidings, and seek help for worship in the morning and evening and a part of the night.”
— Prophet Muhammad (S A W), according to Sahīh Al-Bukhāri.
I am so reassured by the fact that… I’m allowed to be me, as a Muslim. Love what I love, live life, and so on.
And I feel closest to Allah… when I’m doing what’s required of me. Like praying. And also: being gentle on myself, taking it easy. And making sure I’m trying to be grateful.
My soul feels lighter, AlHamduliLlah, and this is when I actually feel the beauty of my religion in my actual heart.
A Muslim is one who: is gentle. Prays. Serves their families. And smiles a lot. That’s when I know I’m being Muslim right.
Extremisms genuinely have no place in our religion. Not on the personal level [what a relief.]; not on the wider ‘political’ ones.
Yesterday, we had our first Islamic History lesson with our teacher, Dr Mariam Sheibani.
It was quite interesting, AlHamduliLlah. With her: we’ll be looking at Islamic History from the time of Pre-Islamic Arabia, all the way through to 2011, the time of the Arab Spring, In Shaa Allah.
I think sometimes, people mistakenly see ‘Islam’ and the ‘Arab World’ as being one and the same. One time, an English teacher I had referred to it as the ‘Muslim Spring’. [She was really apologetic when she’d realised.]
As Dr Sheibani pointed out yesterday: [with the aid of a map. Not to sound like Amy from the Big Bang Theory but… maps are cool.] roughly 85% of Muslims around the world are not actually in the Middle East.
They are: in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia.
Here’s a cool map:
And so, when we’re looking at Islamic History. We have to look at the histories of places like… Iraq. Nigeria. Persia and India. Indonesia.
I’m glad I’m at this point, AlHamduliLlah. It’s been like: an unravelling of so many things I thought I’d ‘known’. And then: learning about things all over again. Even though I’ve already known them, somewhere, all along. But as if for the first time.
I’ve really liked this whole process. I never knew that even ‘back then’: I’d been… Muslim. Working on things like prayer, my character, and so on. Gradually. I didn’t quite know that the clothes I’d been wearing had been modest. In fact: some people would recognise me as being ‘religious’.
But I can point to at least two individuals within the family/community circles I’ve known. That had been extreme in their approaches towards me. Overly harsh, and critical. Completely flouting [flout: disregard a rule. My friend Jade taught me this word while we were playing Scrabble, ngl.] actual Islamic principles.
Like: thinking the best of people.
Not being inclined towards so much criticism. Not fault-finding, not backbiting. Not calling people bad names, even if it makes them a bit uncomfortable. Hiding other people’s sins and faults for them (except when it comes to seeking justice).
Being gentle, loving, and merciful.
I’m glad I’ve been learning about Islam: what Islam actually is, since. I think: ‘extremism’ (which is a contradictory word, when it comes to Islam.
Since it goes against fundamental Islamic principles) has threatened to push me away from my faith.
‘Islamic’ Vs. ‘Islamicate’.
One of the first things we’d learnt in our first Islamic History class yesterday…
Is the difference between the term ‘Islamic’, and ‘Islamicate’.
Islamic: has a theological dimension to it. Anything that is of, from, the fundamental beliefs of Islam.
Islamicate: anything that is relating to the ‘Islamic world’. So, even things that are fundamentally un-Islamic things… like when certain ‘mystic’ poets had been speaking of themselves ‘as though they are God’. Shirk. But they were, at least from the ‘Western’/’occidental’ point of view: ‘part of the Islamic world’.
Like ISIS (Da’esh). Extremism: fundamentally un-Islamic. But: according to the Canadian historian Hodgson’s definition, ‘Islamicate’, since it’s, again, part of that conceptualisation of ‘the Islamic world’.
I’m literally scared, because I care about my religion. But, thankfully:
Allah is the One who Guides.
The Du’a that Muhammad (S A W) would make the most had been:
يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ
“O Turner of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.“
I have an uncle who is a month younger than me: my mum’s cousin. Random. But:
One time (and this is relating to our fear of what people may think of us, at least at times,) my dad had been driving us home from somewhere, I think. A family party for my baby cousin. [A fancy dress themed party. I was Katniss Everdeen. But adapted a little, since I’m a hijābi. And I don’t think I managed to find a bow and arrow in time, so I used my brother’s Nerf crossbow: he used to have a propah Nerf collection.]
In the car, I’d sat in the passenger seat. And, at the back: that uncle of mine, and I think my other relatives, had been chatting, being loud. And I: guess I like being quiet sometimes.
He (jokingly) asked me why I’m being like an old lady.
In my head: I took that way too personally. Why? Probably because it spoke to, ‘triggered’ and reminded me about, some of my own pre-existing insecurities about myself. Oh no! Am I… being ‘boring’? ‘Unsociable’? ‘Too quiet’?
Quiet really isn’t a bad thing though. Just ask Wednesday Addams.
I think it’s an insecurity that one of my beloved friends, actually, has had, too. But what’s reassuring is that: quiet is actually a hallmark sign of wisdom, according to Islam. More reflective and selective with our words is what we aspire to be!
Here is Platform 93/4, at London King’s Cross Station:
Being a Muslim is like being… a wiz-ard. But better. And real.
They have their special school, their houses, special shops, ways of doing things. Being part of the rest of the world, but also part of their own.
They have their wands. We have our Du’as: calling upon our Lord, who always Responds to us. It’s kinda… It’s almost…
Now here is what I was going to AirDrop to random people at the train station this morning. After almost accidentally AirDropping that thing from before, I suppose.
I stopped myself. I am not a YouTuber. I am a person whose Hufflepuff side of who I am really be making the Ravenclaw side cringe sometimes, you see.
When it comes to ‘Islamic’, ‘Islamicate’, Muslim, ‘cultures’, ‘histories’, and so forth. Look how much diversity there is! Even just here in one city in the world, London.
How distinctive East London Masjid, and the community within and around it, is, from that in and around London Central Masjid. And then Cambridge Central Masjid is something (the same, in terms of fundamentals, but also) different, too.
Where I grew up: around Whitechapel here in London. Is interesting to consider. There are many Bengali people here. ‘Working-class’, let’s say. Hanafi. Isn’t it interesting to consider how the ‘Hanafi school of thought’ had emerged out of… Kufa, all the way in Iraq?
There’s more than one way of doing things. And I find myself moving away from ‘Hanafism’, personally.
I want to be Muslim ‘properly’, and also don’t want to feel bogged down by and into too many ‘technicalities’. [I wouldn’t call myself a ‘Sufi’ either.]
Islam really is simple, easy, and beautiful. Good for the soul.
Recently, a 22-year-old was arrested by Iranian state authorities: the ‘morality police’, or ‘guidance patrol’ or whatever.
On account of ‘not wearing a hijāb properly’. She died in custody, under ‘mysterious circumstances’, although it may well have been that she was beaten by police.
I don’t know that much about the Iranian regime, but I know that it’s not ‘Islamic’ to police things like people’s hijābs. Extremisms, trying to control people: feels stifling. It’s not necessary, and it’s harmful and counterproductive.
In Islam: there are certain prescribed punishments that are in place for certain things. Like when: someone is harmed, and there needs to be some justice.
But what about if/when a woman is beautiful? What if she has a beautiful face, and if some of her hair is showing?
When someone who’d been with Muhammad (S A W) had been staring at a beautiful woman: no ‘morality police’ had been constructed as a result, to ‘punish women’. Instead: Muhammad (S A W) had gently turned his companion’s face away. Thus reminding him of his Purpose here, and reminding him to respect the woman.
The ‘morality police’, ‘guidance patrol’, or whatever: Islamic-ate.
The beautiful Sunnah laid out to us by Muhammad (S A W): Islam-ic.