بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Jade and I met up at around 10:30 AM, at the train station. It’s the day of the London Marathon today: when runners run 26.2 miles, typically in order to raise money for various charities. People sport foam gloves, signs, and inflatables, cheering them on. Roads are closed; the streets lining the runners’ route are busy.
Having grown up a Londoner: I have London-Marathon-related memories. But Jade’s from Yorkshire, and only moved to London not even that long ago: as far as ‘London memories’ go, she doesn’t have as many.
Today: Jade (henceforth: ج) and I went to my baby cousin Sasha’s Aqeeqah party. When a Muslim baby is born, some particular steps are followed, and then a family may sometimes hold a party to celebrate the birth of the child, and invite and feed friends and family.
Sasha, my baby cousin, was ‘meant’ to have an Aqeeqah party a bit of a while ago. But my aunt’s brother, my dad, was sick for a while; she decided to hold off and delay it a little. Until today.
And my aunt had invited ج to go and over to hers one day, when ج, my little cousin, and I had gone on a nice little outing in Central London together. Upon learning that ج is a fairly new Muslim, (for about a year-and-a-half now, Maa Shaa Allah,) and that she’s never been to an Aqeeqah party before: she’d invited her to come along.
[That day: when we’d visited my aunt, we’d ‘practised’ how we’re going to do the balloon arch, which we’d been put in charge of making.]
So that’s where we went today.
Via two trains, and a bus.
One part of being Muslim is: daily prayer. That maintained connection with Allah.
Another part is: giving. With your time, your money, your words and your actions.
Yesterday, my aunt, my dad’s younger cousin, told me she wanted to buy the kids (my brother, and my little cousins,) some Hot Wheels™ cars.
She, as well as studying, currently, for her Master’s, Maa Shaa Allah: works part-time at WH Smith (a book/stationery/etc. shop).
She ended up giving the kids: Hot Wheels cars. Books. And: a[nother] toy gun for my little cousin Shakira.
Now here is a random picture that my brother took on my phone when he hijacked it from me and ran with it. Yet again. Yesterday:
Yesterday I went out and picked out an outfit to wear for today. I decided I wanted to wear pink, since… issa girl. I finally, eventually, found a nice dress. Consulted my cousins and my aunt: always good to get second opinions. They gave me the go-ahead: they approved.
It’s coral-coloured. At first, I was calling it… salmon-coloured. But then my cousin posited that better name for it. [Oh, wait, I just realised that both names for it are… sea-themed.]
This dress was meant for me: it’s part of my Rizq.
[Rizq: provision. Everything that you’ll ever be Provided with from Allah. Food, clothes, wealth, knowledge, friends… It’s Written.]
So I’d worn a cotton coral-coloured dress today. With a light-brown open ‘Abaya on top. Trainers on the Tube, and shoes to go with my outfit in a bag I’d carried with me.
Here is a lovely reminder from today:
A saying of Prophet Muhammad (S A W), according to Bukhāri and Muslim…
Sometimes, my little brother and I communicate in ‘interesting’ (strange) ways. I’ve come up with various nicknames for him. Just naturally. E.g.:
[I had to leave the house early, so didn’t get to see him that morning. So left a note for him. Which, apparently, was not appreciated very much…]
I love that it’s a part of Islamic history, too: giving people you love nicknames, names of endearment.
Today, ج and I arrived early at my aunt’s house. To work on the balloon arch together.
Some of my relatives had stayed up until late last night, setting up the hall [my aunt had booked a local community hall for her daughter’s Aqeeqah. A nearby Scouts hall].
The beginnings of our work with the balloon arch:
When my aunt had discovered that I hadn’t eaten breakfast today, she got a little angry (in that loving way, of course,) and insisted that I go back to hers and eat something, even if it’s just toast.
For breakfast, I ended up having…
Some leftover pizza that they’d had the evening before. Because: why not?
My aunt also wants for her middle child, her daughter Shakira, to join the Scouts soon, In Shaa Allah. As a Cub. Here’s how being Muslim and being a Cub are compatible:
Today, I’d met some of my aunt’s friends; her colleagues from work [they’re genuinely family to her, and I love to see it, Maa Shaa Allah. They definitely treat my little cousins as though they’re their own nieces]. And a lovely (quite elderly,) neighbour of hers, Beryl.
Blood is Thicker than Water, but Love is Thicker than Blood.
You definitely don’t have to be ‘blood-related’ with someone for them to be family to you. ج is my big sister, and I love that and how my aunt welcomed her in, too.
To just make people, authentically, feel comfortable, and welcome. And beloved.
You don’t have to be ‘blood’ in order to be family. Certainly.
Sometimes ‘blood’ won’t love you. Might: want nothing to do with you anymore. I’m referring to two things I’ve learned of recently. Different people, and their lives, and why their own mothers, whether ‘softly’, or straight up and outright: ‘disowned’ them, essentially.
What pain something like that can cause. The scars that that will likely result in.
Beryl — my aunt’s elderly neighbour. Her mother didn’t want much to do with her, anymore, after Beryl had married a man of a different race. An ‘unfavourable’ race. Back then, Beryl explains, if you saw a member of the Traveller community walking down the street: you were told, basically, to go home and shut the door.
- But she — Beryl — very genuinely says that: she doesn’t see ‘differences’ as barriers. We’re all “human”. All bleed the same colour and all; underneath our skins, all the same sorts of bones.
I know of at least one other (real) story. Of a mother who dislikes, or even despises, her own child. Why? Maybe because some individuals like to (truly devalue, essentially dehumanise, and) control other individuals. Mistakenly market that as being ‘love‘. And when a child cannot be wrongly, unfairly, controlled anymore: then, by their own constructed definitions, that child is not able to be ‘loved‘ anymore.
[It’s like… the metaphorical ‘golden hair’. They might ‘love’ some things you can do for them. But not you. Maybe because: for them to feel pure, good, and capable themselves. They must make somebody else continually appear as though they are the complete opposite somehow.]
I think some mothers look at their own children and choose, for whatever reason, to see… defect. Not something, someone, to love. But someone to blame [the ‘black sheep’,], and constantly chastise, and… loathe.
Sometimes, ‘blood’ will not turn up to weddings, or to Aqeeqah parties, and other events. Why? Well: they have a ‘problem’ with at least something to do with it.
‘Blood’, at least at times, can be so thoroughly overrated. So morally damaged, and damaging. But it’s alright, In Shaa Allah: as long as you have family. Whether you met them at work, or way back when, at school: you can have brothers, sisters, and so on, who are… from different races than you are.
Bonded with something thicker than just ‘blood’. Something warmer, more soulful and enduring:
We can’t ever make people love us. We’re just… us, AlHamduliLlah! They either love us, or… they don’t, and they might come to even actively dislike us, turn their backs, turn away, not attend things. Pffft. Really their loss, sometimes, isn’t it?
Whoever decorated Sasha’s cake for today spelt ‘world’ wrong:
My aunt also decided to have a second cake at this event, to congratulate my two cousins who have graduated recently, Maa Shaa Allah:
We had the usual. Rice, chicken, sauces, salad. Plus some food that my uncle had brought down from his take-away, all the way in Folkestone (Kent). And some treats that his wife, my aunt, had prepared:
Sasha also received lots of… presents today, Maa Shaa Allah. Including some adorable gifts from ج, who also decided to get a lovely present for the mother, my aunt.
Motherhood seems tough. I think ج really kindly also gifted my aunt a spa set.
After talking about her life [she’s so lovely, and lovely to listen to, Maa Shaa Allah,] Beryl asked me if I have… a boyfriend. But truth be told, the only dates I be seeing around here in my life are:
Life is hard.
Life is hard. That much is undoubtable. It’s not ‘easy’ to be a human being here in this Dunya. And sometimes: [you know the extents and the depths of your own unique challenges.]
Others don’t really see it, do they? The depths, the wildernesses, the widths, of your thoughts and feelings.
When things might feel especially heavy for you, and when you feel… ever so ‘alone‘.
Like… there is no feasible [feasible: possible to do, easily, and conveniently.] way out.
- There is a way out. Though: you might have to wait for a given, Decided while. فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ
Exhibit a beautiful patience.
Everyone has their own challenges — a unique, tailored set of them. You are not alone, and as indisputably tough as various moments and experiences here can be: Your Lord will never burden your soul with more than you can bear. [Qur’an, (2:286).]
And yes, you can cry. You have cried, and you will cry: to cry is to be human. We’re alive in this place that will never be our forever Home.
You can be sad. And scared. Feel exhausted. But, when the time is right: get up again! Give it your best shot.
We can feel things, and we can take some time to rest, and also not succumb to it.
There is a way up; there are ways out of it.
We can do what we can do. We can try, our sincere and utmost [“what’s an ‘ut’?”] best. With whatever we have; what we find around us; whatever we are Presented with.
And we rely, ultimately, not on other fellow (relatively) weak, ailed, hurting. Scared, and uncertain. Human beings.
We rely on Allah. Put our trust in Him. He is Sufficient for us.
At the Aqeeqah party, ج and I had met a friend of my aunt’s whom my aunt has known for years now, Maa Shaa Allah: her friend from school days, Sophie. They used to go to a school in Ramsgate, back when my aunt had lived in Kent.
Beryl, the lovely elderly neighbour (who’d come to the event wearing a striped knit jumper. She felt “comfortable” in it, and said she doesn’t ever like to pretend/‘do things forced‘, and do anything she isn’t comfortable with). She’d asked Sophie, in conversation (and not in an intrusive manner,) how come she isn’t married.
And Sophie, who is in her early thirties, said, because of “work”, and since she hasn’t found the right person for herself and all.
When Beryl had asked me whether or not I have a ‘boyfriend’, I tried to gently explain the Islamic take on it all. I don’t think it made that much sense to her at first. My aunt, I think, is the first Muslim she’s ever been acquainted with; the first neighbour, also, actually, whom she’s wanted to get to know.
But Beryl, too, has, in common with us: ‘traditional family values’, let’s say. I think some have a wrong understanding of the ‘Islamic way’, in this sense: it’s not Islamic to… marry a complete stranger, with no affection and real attraction present. It’s not ‘just so you can appease family/have children’.
It’s: a period of ‘dating’. Let’s say: courtship. For whatever while. Get to know one another, see if you think you might be compatible. It’s ‘dating/courtship’ towards marriage: which we refer to as the ‘NikkaH’. As my friend ج had pointed out: it is at least somewhat different to the ‘Western’ (‘post-Christian’,) take on things.
A NikkaH is a witnessed contract. It outlines some rights, and responsibilities. Gets families involved. And makes things Halāl, and blessed.
Currently: two of my friends, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik, are ‘dating/courting/seeing’ people, respectively. So cute. My friends’ respective families know about what’s going on. I am so happy (and excited!!!!!!!) for both of them.
- Meanwhile: I am the singlest Pringle. I: came home late the other day. Because I paid someone I know — not a boy. Extramarital relationships are overrated. — a visit. She’s from Saudi, and Muslims in general, in part sprouting from ‘Arab (Bedouin) culture… are very hospitable to their guests, Maa Shaa Allah.
She didn’t let me leave without… ordering takeaway for me. Legit. [She said she doesn’t accept no as an answer.] And giving me dates from Saudi. In a luxury flower gift bag, to make it easier for me to carry.
I arrived home late on account of: the takeaway taking its time to arrive. The bus taking its time, so I took the train, and then walked. Imagine how sus I must have seemed, upon arriving at home at around 9 PM instead of 8, with takeaway that someone else had ordered me. And a flower gift bag with dates in it. Anyway. [South Asian household: you could be smiling at your phone. And someone might assume you’re talking to a boy.
It’s not my fault my best friend is funny! Maa Shaa Allah.
(My little cousin Shakira: whenever you compliment her little sister Sasha, she’ll make sure you add, Maa Shaa Allah. If you don’t: she might beat you up, or use her gun on you).]
The last boy I’ve spoken to outside of my family. Was probably the guy at the shop when he packed the dress I’d bought, and I said thank you. Keep it Halāl, keep it 100.
- But after that: I was going to go and stay over at my best friend’s new place in Cambridge for a few days. But now it just seems too sus, probably, to ask my parents. Out of the blue, after the whole mysterious arriving-late-with-gifts thing…
So we’ve established that life is not easy; it’s often quite challenging, in various ways, for us.
At the Aqeeqah event, my aunt’s friend Sophie was curious to know why my sister/(friend) Jadey had reverted to Islam.
ج spoke about how she’d been seeking “meaning” in her life.
This is a very natural (Fitri. Fitrah: the natural, original human disposition. Which all babies — like my cousin Sasha. Like you, and I, at one point. — are born into) inclination for the human being. To seek meaning. Purpose. Seek after the Truth.
Why are you here?
Something ج and I had talked about, essentially, is how: it tends to be when people are really going through it. Which we all do, at given times.
And then we learn that: we have questions.
And that we really want to know the answers.
Try it: ask God.
He Knows you better than you have ever, will ever, know yourself; more than anybody else knows you. He won’t let you down.
May He bless you with Qur’an, with prayer, and with the answers, finally: Islam.
It’s interesting to think about how some people don’t really think about God much, in their own lives. They don’t… see a ‘need’. They don’t… see beyond the material, the day-to-day, and the… distractions, I don’t think.
It’s interesting to think that: the way that ج, I, and my aunt, choose to live…
Allah. There is no God except Him.
We pray to Him every day. We need Him to do anything at all: He is, should be, the most important Consideration in our lives. The One and Only, Almighty, our Creator, our Rabb.
- ج told me that she’s only ever prayed in two Muslim homes so far. My family’s home, and my aunt’s. [ج really inspires me in prayer, Maa Shaa Allah: she prefers to pray sooner, rather than later. And, Allah hummabārik, the way she makes Du’a…]
Yesterday, after the Aqeeqah party (and after we’d gone back to my aunt’s house, where the kids. Were being so loud!) my other aunt had invited ج to go with me to her house. And so too did my uncle’s wife: to visit their home (which is near the beach, Maa Shaa Allah, and) which is in Folkestone, Kent.
Why do Muslims have ‘teapots‘ in their washrooms?
Good question. But: they’re not teapots. We Bengalis call them Bodnas. Jugs, probably, in English. You use them for washing yer regions after using the bathroom. Maintaining cleanliness, purity, is very important to us as Muslims: both on the internal, and external, levels.
Some Muslim households have this hose-like washer you can use. Some use ordinary jugs. If you’re in a hotel or travelling… you can use a water bottle.
I think, since this post is already a bit lengthy: that I’ll be posting another, separate, one on Friday, In Shaa Allah. [My aim is to post something every Friday…]
Now: how to end on a nicer note than talking about… bathrooms?
Let’s talk about how… While taking pictures, someone started a little bit of a ‘cake fight’. And I went back to the table to carry on speaking to Beryl. I find: I’m something of a relatively quiet individual. In something of a pretty loud, Maa Shaa Allah, family.