بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yesterday, after Logic (Mantiq) at college: I took a train back to London. And went to my nan’s house: I’d forgotten to let my nan know I’d be visiting. She sounded elated when I said it’s me over the intercom.
My aunt (whose familial nickname is, Sweetie,) was there too. And her daughter, who’s recently learnt a poem or something about Martin Luther King from Nursery recently. My other aunt (who has learning difficulties,) was there too: she is someone who is deserving of additional love. And she loves her nieces and nephews dearly.
My brother and cousin went over to my nan’s also, back from football training, that evening (yesterday).
‘Distance makes the heart grow fonder.’
The love is already there, but the distance just makes you long to be nearer to it, to be honest. And it reminds you not to take it for granted.
My brother sat right next to me. By choice: but he wouldn’t be so eager to admit that, I don’t think. I missed my family, and sometimes distance is a very healthy thing. But, that sense of longing…
In the… twelve… days that we’d been away from one another, spatially:
The first time my little brother and I had FaceTimed…
He wasn’t being playfully mean. He was… telling me about how he’d been taking care of my plant, which I’d left behind, in my old room. He told me about how he’d pierced a hole in a water bottle, and had been watering the plant often.
I’m currently on the train back from seeing him: my parents, brother, and I, went out to eat at Nando’s today. My brother beat me in an arm wrestle. Three times, and has encouraged me to train before the next time I see him [lol!].
Next Stop: Stansted Mountfitchet.
This place holds a particular personal significance for me. That residential trip we’d gone on, back in Year Six. A ‘short’ stay: five days. I had a really nice time there, Maa Shaa Allah. And I remember… our nightly cups of hot chocolate.
Allah is the Owner, the Mālik, of Time itself. He Oversees all of it: everything. Every ‘small’, and ‘big’, thing about you, and/or in your whole entire life.
Five days, that trip had been. And yet: its imprints on who I am, and my memories and knowledge of what I like in/about the world, and so on, has been vast. Subhaan Allah. What an interesting thing time is. And theories of relativity, and so on.
Have you ever felt as though time has stood still, for you?
And how the leaves fall, gliding. Intentional. We forget, but Allah does not.
I’m loving these random bursts of red in the world. Autumns feel important to me.
Today: and some things have been feeling relatively messy, for me, in this life of mine. But I am hopeful, In Shaa Allah, about the mending, making things upright, that will be taking place.
I got through quite a few building-up-in-my-phone texts and so on.
I just feel hopeful. Like my Lord is so, so Loving, and Merciful. I’m hopeful, and everything has been significant.
After my brother Saif’s football training today:
We went to Nando’s. I love Nando’s, and my little brother does too.
My parents asked me questions like: about the shops around my new place. And what I’ve been eating. I told them about a part-time job I’ve applied for. And my mum and brother are going to come down by train to visit me soon, In Shaa Allah.
At Nando’s: I saw someone who went to the same secondary school as me, but in my younger cousin’s year, working there. Aisha. A lovely soul, Maa Shaa Allah.
She asked me if I’m finished with uni and everything: quite a few people, it seems, have ‘expected’ me to be.
But, actually: I’m in my first year at the moment. Since: I took a ‘gap year’. And then a work experience one, essentially. And then an Arabic course, towards the entry requirements for this degree.
My ‘journey’ in that sense: has been at least somewhat surprising. My Lord has Planned it for me delightfully well, AlHamduliLlah!
At Nando’s, I also saw a former student of mine: Yusra, from form 7J.
Bless her, Maa Shaa Allah: even as an ‘adult’ teacher figure, I used to worry a bit that some of my students ‘don’t like me’. Some: generally have quite neutral facial expressions, and so on.
But they’re just children, and they’re just as human as me. They want to be liked, approved of, listened to, and loved also. I don’t think very many human beings at all are ‘immune’ from wanting these things, actually.
Yusra wanted to know if I could let her classmates know that she misses them: she is no longer at that school. Neither am I, at the moment, but I am still in contact with some people who are still there.
And Sasha, my housemate, asked me if I could get some bin bags, and some paper towels, for the house. So my mum bought some bin bags from the nearby ASDA, and took out some paper towels from the garage. I’ve got some leftover Nando’s food with me too, as well as a tin of custard from my mum [Bengalis and food!].
Sasha and I have plans to tidy the house today, In Shaa Allah.
And, before leaving my family’s home in London, I wanted to hug my brother, who’d put on his sliders, came outside, gave me a hug, which is lingering. And told me to be ready, basically, for our next arm-wrestle! [The cheek of him! If I’d beaten him this time, I feel like he’d be saying something different.]
Today, my housemate has informally (not in a mean way,) diagnosed me with ADHD. I do random things. Etc. Sasha herself is officially diagnosed with the ‘disorder’.
Plus: Sasha is currently on a placement year at the University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry, Maa Shaa Allah. So: can I trust her ‘diagnosis’?
A young family member of mine, actually: a member of staff at her school has said something about her potentially having ‘ADHD’. On the one hand: I don’t believe in ‘pathologising personalities’. For example:
I think I’m acquainted with at least a couple of people who ‘could’ be seen as having ‘autism spectrum disorder’, being ‘on the spectrum’. But I don’t want to ever see them as a ‘walking disorder‘. They: are themselves. The reasons as to why I’ve loved speaking to them, knowing them, as people. They: have interesting personal interests. Are really nice to be around; the world needs them, and Allah has Created them beautifully. They may have their particularities, and I don’t think there’s anything ‘wrong’ with us… being us.
As Sasha points out: it’s about what improves your quality of life. If I do ‘have ADHD’, then: I’m not a ‘walking disorder’. There are different parts to all of us. I think it’s about asking: would it be good, and helpful, for me, to allow myself to be ‘helped‘, if and where need be?
I mean, I think I’ve pretty much always been a bit… inclined towards saying/doing some random things. And ‘energetic‘. And so on. I like these aspects of myself, AlHamduliLlah. And sometimes: I think I just need to run around a field or something, to let some surplus energy out; partake in more sports.
I think I’m the now-grown-up version of a somewhat energetic child [For illustration: once, I decided to roll down a grassy hill with two of my male relatives. And got grass in my hair, and on my new dress, while guests had been around. Have I really changed much, since then, at all?], and I’m not so sure if ‘medication’ would be good for me, all in all. Or even a ‘diagnosis’, which might make me ‘lean into’ the ‘problems’ more, if that make sense.
Although: sometimes, it can feel like my mind is on ‘overdrive’ and so on. With these things: I think it’s good to do Istikhārah. Ask Allah for help and guidance.
And Istishārah: ask people, like Sasha, too.
Lots of things, it seems: operate in cycles. Rise, peak, fall. Only to rest, recover, and
Rise again. As if for the first time. [Like the… fiery-ball-of-gas-in-the-sky that we all know and need.]
But you have to do something about it, for something good — or even outstanding — to happen.
- At times, so far, (and we’re now going into Week 5,) aspects of being a student at CMC… I’ve felt behind. Somewhat dishevelled, ‘not doing good’, as a student. [Which is interesting to think about: because, often, people see something quite different to what you’re thinking/’seeing’ of/from yourself!]
But those moments tend to only really mean: that better is coming. We have to meet the different challenges with which we are presented, and (perhaps, when the time is right,) do something about them.
[Impetus: something/a force that makes something happen/move. And/or happen/move more quickly.
A push to action!]
Sometimes, your body/mind, often together, ‘in tandem’, are telling you that: it’s time to slow down. It’s not ‘wasted time’: rest. And you’ll see yourself pick up, get up, again, In Shaa Allah.
Saturday morning: I think I’d rested for a few hours, in the morning. To me: sometimes, it feels nice to just… not do very much at all.
Then we’d gone out to eat and all. I came home, had some tidying to do. I don’t think humans are made to ‘live alone’, and I think part of the value of living with/alongside others is…
You feel you want to have things, like the kitchen, in a good state. Not just ‘for you’, but for them, too.
You can also: be held accountable, more, by them. They might notice when: you seem like you’re being sluggish, and so on. You can also: study at the same table as them. Teach them certain concepts; be taught certain other concepts by them. [We’re fundamentally (spiritual, and,) social beings!]
This, at age 21, is my first experience of having lived away from home, without my family, for this long. At the moment, I have just one housemate, called Sasha, and she is lovely, Maa Shaa Allah.
We like to do things ‘communally’: we have a communal printer [courtesy of Sasha, courtesy of the government]. We like drinking hot chocolate, and Earl Grey tea. She’s bought some things for the house; so too have I [e.g. bin bags. And kitchen tissue. There are a decent number of practical things to consider, when living, adulting, in a house of your own! ‘Little’ things, and important ones.].
Sasha has also, for example, printed out the bin collection schedule, put it on the kitchen noticeboard. Tonight: we took some bins out. She took the recycling stuff out; I took the food waste out. It smelt like rancid fruit.
Today, also: I operated the dishwasher. I think I’ve had some ambivalent [ambivalent: having mixed feelings] feelings about dishwashers. They’re kind of pointless; they’re also quite useful, you see. And generally kind of confusing, as machines.
Even in a household with just two people: we’re doing our things. The washing-up can seem to pile up.
We’ve been blessed with having this cosy home to stay in. And there are works still going on around us. We also have: food. Enough food. Enough to sustain us, and some extra for our enjoyment. And we’re healthy, AlHamduliLlah. Such blessings!
From our noticeboard, as it currently is:
Some random things. Like ironing. Doing a bit of academic reading. I went outside for a walk, and applied for some jobs [quite a few vacancy signs about, on shop windows]. For some: I’d handed my CV in, in-person. For others: I’ve applied online. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s for me, In Shaa Allah.
And I’m tired, in a not-‘bad’-at-all kind of way, I think. Long day, AlHamduliLlah.
I had couscous for lunch, and put the extra that I’d sort-of-accidentally made, in a container: a cute little (pink) hotpot container that my dad got for and gave to me yesterday.
This morning, I had to wake up fairly early. There are, continually, it seems: things to do. This life is process; we are, at once, experiencers, and active agents, moving through it.
How to respond to ad hominem?
Insults, ‘personal attacks’. Today, a person who is younger than me sent me an email in which she addressed me as an ’embarrassing, dishonest little girl’. Someone who, in some of her previous emails: has said I ought to ‘practise what I preach’ and so on. I have never once met this person in real life before.
How am I feeling about these strange, insulting, out-of-the-blue emails?
I don’t think she, or people who respond to things like this, are attacking ‘me’. She doesn’t… even know me. I think she/they are, overall, unhappy with something/someone, a situation, and seek to unload their feelings onto, and blame, someone else.
I wonder if this person [still] reads my blogs. But: I am not in control of that.
We are not in control of what people think, or say, about us. Or even to us. What we’re in charge of: is what we do, how we respond.
[She just emailed me again. Speaking to me, again, like I’m a child who needs remonstrating [remonstrate: ‘tell off’, take issue with, forcefully.] with.
I… am not about that life.]
It’s when people want to feel ‘powerful’ somehow, right?
And so certain words are used as ‘weapons’.
Definitely doesn’t make them ‘true’, especially the more charged words…
Today I ate half of a caterpillar’s face.
Sometimes I find not-so-pleasant thoughts on my mind, right at the start of the day. Walking is nice: Cambridge is sort of halfway between ‘city’ (like London, which I am, by now, so very used to,) and ‘country’. Like: the fields, the parks, the ‘quaint’ little houses [the word ‘little’ gives me some faint PTSD now. Because of usages of this word in those aforementioned emails.].
Anyway. The past is in the past; BismilLlah.
I had to wake up fairly early today, and I hope there’s a way to block out less-than-favourable thoughts falling upon you in the morning. Somewhere.
I got ready fairly quickly, and then had to leave, for a small (new, incoming, In Shaa Allah,) writing club we’re starting up. Number of people in attendance: 3, including me. And one person was late, since: he’s a CMC student, and a husband, and a father, Maa Shaa Allah.
So: it is possible to get into the college a bit earlier. Get some work done: I’m going to have to learn to be quite economical with time, while at CMC. The workload is fairly intense: but not in a way that makes it feel burdensome. The value of it is intrinsic, AlHamduliLlah.
This morning: I had some Hadīth homework to do. On: intentions. Which I needed a reminder about. And: on Bid’ah (‘innovation’) in Islam.
Some Notes on Intention, from today’s homework:
Intention, in the Art of Intention
Allah is displeased by base characteristics and conduct, and also only accepts sublime deeds when they are based on sound intentions.
We need to be sincere in what we do, and try to attain sincerity. We should hold ourselves accountable, try to purify ourselves, and try not to seek admiration and status. We try to keep ourselves from developing the vices of arrogance, pride, and envy, which can be direct products of insincerity.
‘Ilm al-Ikhlās is one of the most important branches of religious knowledge, and Allah has rights over us. We do not obey the Nafs, but, rather: our Lord, Allah.
Sound Taqwa, and humbleness that is rooted in our recognition of the Truth, leads to wara’ (piety).
We should train our Nafs to think of the hereafter, and not just of this illusive world and its pleasures. Often: we have to do what is difficult, and the rewards for these things are greater.
We are not responsible for our passing thoughts, but for what we resolve to do about it all.
We must try to purify our intentions regularly, and recognise that all of our blessings are from Allah Alone.
The caterpillar cake I ate today: a Tesco brand version of the famous… what was his name again? … Colin caterpillar. This was: Curly caterpillar.
Anjum, who is a lovely, beautiful person, Maa Shaa Allah, from the cohort above ours: casually just walked into the refectory [refectory: dining room, e.g. at an academic (religious) institution] and put it down, gracefully and kindly. For everybody. She said something about how her nephew had like, five to choose from. And this one was for us.
I really have been liking contributing in class discussions, AlHamduliLlah. And asking questions. And doing my work for classes: like today’s bits of Arabic translation for Islamic Theology.
Things, and the work, won’t always be ‘perfect’. But as long as we try, right?
[And maybe fall a bit, (rest, recuperate,) and then get up again. With the Aid of our Lord.]
In Hadīth today, we’d discussed something, for part of the class, that felt particularly relevant. We’re counted as ‘Tullāb-ul-‘Ilm’ now: seekers/students of Knowledge.
Why are we doing this?
And: what makes a scholar, a ‘true scholar’?
In the Islamic tradition: the scholars are the ‘inheritors of the prophets’, and this phrase is on the CMC logo. ‘Faith in Scholarship’ is our college slogan.
We have an apple tree outside, which we can see from the library. Words are very, very important. A bad word is like a rotten seed [Zaynah said that. More on her soon, In Shaa Allah].
كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاء تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا
“A good word is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in the sky, yielding its fruit in every season with the permission of its Lord.
And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will take heed/be reminded.”
— Qur’an, (14:24-25).
A ‘true scholar’ is one who: is rooted in Truth, and her studies may demonstrate various branches. She prays to her Lord, with due reverence. And her works are fruitful; they bring her closer to her Lord.
Dr Harvey, our Theology teacher: his (10-year-old) daughter, Layla, was in attendance at our lecture today. She: was sitting at the back… making her own presentation about Muhammad (S A W). She wants to be a teacher, like her dad. Today, I taught her what the word prodigy means. And, In Shaa Allah: she could definitely be one!
In the evening today, I attended a talk, over at Cambridge University: on the topic of ‘Indigenising’ Muslim communities, where they (we) may be ‘minorities’. Interesting stuff!
I put my hand up and made a point, and I think this matters to me, because at times, I have felt so uncomfortable, personally, in ‘academic settings’, to raise my hand. Sometimes: I haven’t been able to engage with the content of certain things, I don’t think. And other times: I don’t know, impostor syndrome? Fear.
Things have since changed, AlHamduliLlah. I think Islam has made me more confident, AlHamduliLlah (and ‘confidence’ isn’t the ‘absence’ of fear. It’s more… resolving to do something better, even if/when it’s been there).
Knowing that everything belongs to Allah. That He blesses individuals with anything of Knowledge. And: it’s a tree of knowledge. Things are connected, holistic. How fortunate we are, to be alive, and sentient and intelligent beings, and a part of Allah’s Universe, AlHamduliLlah!
Also: knowing that there are academics like Dr Najah (Dr Najah Nadi) out there. Who are, first and foremost: Muslim. Such nice people, Maa Shaa Allah. And excellent scholars, teachers. It’s nice, and reassuring, to know, AlHamduliLlah.
“I don’t care about politics.“
Said a student of HSPS (Politics, Sociology, and Anthropology) over at Cambridge University, today. Specifically: my friend Zaynah, who’d gone to the same sixth form as I’d gone to, in the academic year below ours. [‘Below’ sounds like such a charged word, no? …]
She: had been President of the Politics Society, Maa Shaa Allah.
I saw her, as well as a childhood friend of mine, today, in the CU Islamic Society Prayer Room.
She’d just lifted her head, and I was like, “Zaynah!“
These are some of her laptop stickers:
Here’s one of the stickers that I’ve got, on my own laptop. Gifted to me from le my auntie:
[I’m not actually so antisocial. Nor do I read so many books, really. And nor am I addicted to coffee. But still, I love the gist of it.]
When I asked Zaynah about how she feels about Rishi Sunak becoming the British PM: that’s when she’d said she doesn’t care about politics. [I’d actually made du’a for him to become PM. And thought there must have been some reason, something about him, as to why Allah didn’t accept this Du’a.
Anyway. Now to make Du’a that King Charles accepts Islam, people!]
Here is another laptop sticker my aunt gave me. Feat.: a crack in my laptop’s protective case. Clearly: the case has come in handy. And, again: ADH-…me?!
The Cambridge University Prayer Room whiteboard:
I had a roughly one-hour walk home today, but it actually felt good, AlHamduliLlah. As aforesaid: I quite like that Cambridge is sort of city, sort of country.
Zaynah said that I give her ‘anthropologist vibes’, basically. But ‘in a good way’, she said.
You know, the first degree course I’d applied to study had been HSPS, at Cambridge. I got an offer for it, to study at Homerton College, which I sometimes pass by, these days, I think. And I’d missed the offer.
I didn’t know it at the time: but Allah had a Plan for me, and each step had been important.
I’d been on some school trips here to Cambridge, back then. Including one on which: in the evening, I remember gazing up at the stars, with two others.
The stars had been quite visible tonight. You could see faint traces of something like the Milky Way. And, still: maybe some light pollution, blocking out the complete view.
I love craning my head up and gazing up at the stars. Can you believe that the stars even exist?!
And that we exist, in this beating, moving Universe, in all the ways in which we do?
Four years ago: I was looking up at the stars.
“Look at the stars, //
Look how they shine for you.“
And I didn’t know that Allah, the very Owner of these stars, Lord of the Worlds, would be calling me to Truth, to His religion, to home, not even that long later.
On our way to the Cambridge Uni Sidgwick site for the talk: basically, my phone had died. And: the others had their cycles. But: three of them decided to walk instead, pulling their bikes along. And it was raining and pouring.
[My bike is still in London. But, Subhaan Allah: I think it’s perfect for here in Cambridge!]
The people at CMC are so, so very lovely, Maa Shaa Allah. And intelligent, and just wonderful people.
On the way to the talk: we talked about things like gender, and Jordan Peterson. And: one of my classmates asked me about how my family felt, about me going to CMC instead of King’s (College London) and so on.
I revealed my ‘Oxbridge’ story as well. I’ve applied to Oxbridge not once, but twice, now. For different sets of subjects. And I ended up missing the grade requirements both times.
One of my classmates had missed an Oxbridge offer once too. He said he’d been “devastated”. But he’d done his Master’s at Cambridge Uni, Maa Shaa Allah.
To me: I wasn’t ‘devastated’ about that. But I have worried about what ‘people might think’, however. I think some, or maybe even lots, of people have seen that as being something of the epitome of ‘failure’. And maybe a newer academic establishment like CMC doesn’t hold as much ‘legitimacy’ in their eyes, since: it doesn’t have that same ‘history’.
But ultimate ‘legitimacy’ is from a place being acquainted with, and rooted in, Truth, no?
And I also understand and accept that different people have different ideas and understandings about what success is.
‘Oxbridge’ might be Written for me, for sometime in my future. And these things: institutions, wealth, status, and so on. Are not ever to be the ‘point’, or the intention.
Muslims: irrespective of where we are, and what we are studying/doing. Though the ‘body’ of things may be different, and change: the essence, soul, and intentions in adherence with Īmān must remain the same.
Whether you’re: having dinner with esteemed academics at, I don’t know, Princeton University.
Or: … paragliding somewhere in Nepal [?]
Or: eating half of a chocolate caterpillar’s face in the refectory of a beautiful, beautiful place, Maa Shaa Allah…
The roots are firm, and they are unwavering.
Today, one of my classmates gave me, and others, a book (Hadīth textbook, basically,) that she’d ordered online. She won’t accept payment for it: gift. The people at CMC, Maa Shaa Allah.
You ever feel like you’re not ‘doing so well’, academically? [This mind of mine often lies to me though, I also know. Because sometimes I ‘perceive’ things that others perceive the opposite, concerning.]
Well: today felt like a good day, academically, AlHamduliLlah. Hadīth was interesting, and enlightening.
Islamic Law: further enlightening.
Theology: I actually managed to translate the Arabic, AlHamduliLlah.
Things, including our academic skills/abilities. Including the problems we face. Including our whole entire lives… do get better, with time, (patience,) and effort. And the Aid, Ultimately and Absolutely, of Allah.
And here’s something that my younger cousin said to me when she’d accompanied me to the local laundrette, back in London, a couple of weeks ago: