بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
It takes: about 40 days (or, six weeks, we can also say,) for a ‘habit’ to stick. For actions: to become ‘part of us’, essentially.
So, as per the advice of a fellow CMC (Cambridge Muslim College) student: I need to put a good morning routine in place, In Shaa Allah. And make at least aspects of it, for example the beginning: feel more ‘fun’, and not ‘punitive’ [punitive: like punishment].
This particular fellow student: tends to connect with the Qur’an in the mornings, Maa Shaa Allah. With a cup of coffee, and this is something he enjoys doing. And then: a burst of cold [the ‘Wim Hoff’ Method] to wake you up.
There is Khayr in it.
No matter what it has been. All the ‘pain’, everything that has happened. All the ‘uncertainties’.
Allah, alone, is Al-Hakeem. The All-Wise. And He Knows, while we know not.
Even in the things we might mistake as being… ‘just things’. Just ‘random’ things happening. There are wisdoms underlying them, by nature.
Today, I operated a dishwasher again. Specifically: the one at CMC, since I was on Khidmah duty. ‘Khidmah’ means: service. It’s a part of being Muslim: serving others, in goodness.
We have a Khidmah rota at CMC. And dishwashers often confuse me.
The Qur’an is a book of Beauty and Wisdom.
And: over the centuries, people, for example from different lands, different times…
Have decorated MusHafs in differing, distinctive ways.
A lot of the time, with floral designs:
And today’s Qur’an class was really good, and beneficial, AlHamduliLlah. Our only Protector and Helper – and Provider – is Allah; ‘trusting’ in anything else can be said to be akin to ‘trusting’ something as fragile as a spider’s web.
Moreover: Allah’s Victory is coming. Being a believer: typically means that you are going to be tested. You might even: feel absolutely shaken, as a result of the trials and tribulations you are going through.
Whether that be: the rejections of people, including your ‘own’. And/or persecution, and so on. Allah’s Victory is near, and when it arrives: it’s often surprising, in the best way. Miracles. Trust your Lord: for Him, anything, everything, is easy.
Allah Knows, most well, what is in the hearts.
Part of working acts of righteousness is: being excellent towards one’s parents. Beauty in conduct (but: don’t obey them if they’re taking you away from the worship of Allah).
Being excellent towards my parents is something I need to work on.
Have Taqwa, and no matter what kinds of problems you might find yourself facing:
He Will make for you a way out.
And Provide for you, from places you wouldn’t expect.
And whoever places their trust upon Allah: He is enough for us.
In today’s Development session, with Dr Talal Al-Azem:
We’d been reminded about the importance of using our time meaningfully, beneficially. Our time is: our entire lives.
That there’s more to life than just ‘turning up at the factory’. ‘Going from shopping cart to shopping cart’ [a few of our teachers are from America/Canada. So: cart, not trolley.], and so on.
We have to ponder, reflect, and think.
And in this Dunya: we’re like travellers, passing through. We don’t live ‘for the world’. Our Purpose is greater.
Moreover: remember that when a thing, or a person, makes you really happy. That that is only a gift from Allah: people are often wonderful gifts, vessels, through which He blesses you.
There is so much love, and mercy, and lovingkindness that can arrive, at your very door, for you, from Allah.
Sometimes: it’s there, for example, through a spouse, and/or through a family member, and/or a good friend. And sometimes: it’s only meant to be there for a given time. The love was from Allah, and humans are often Divinely-Sent vessels.
[Our fridge, here at this house that my housemate/friend and I are staying at: makes weird noises. Sometimes: like a cow mooing. Sometimes: like a man making an angry-sounding noise: EEEEEEY!]
- This is what my best fren, Tasnim, said to me yesterday, and it really comforted me, and made me happy, AlHamduliLlah: it was, and she is, from Allah.
‘Might be a London thing, I don’t know.’
The builder who is doing works in mine and Sasha’s place:
Picked up a box of Sasha’s incense sticks, and said he likes ‘Josh Sticks’ too. Apparently: that’s an alternative name for them.
This builder: comes to the house in the morning. Fixes himself a hot drink (brings his instant hot chocolate, I think, with him). And works quite efficiently: the house is already looking much better, AlHamduliLlah.
The blessing of these works in the house: from Allah, entirely.
When I’d first arrived at this house: there’d been a child’s scribbles on my walls. And stuff in the sink that I didn’t quite want to attend to.
The walls have since been painted, white, AlHamduliLlah. The old rug removed. The sink replaced, the bathrooms renovated too. Allah had Intended this goodness for me, and for Sasha: we just had to wait for it.
A true Muslim is one who is, by nature, ‘effortlessly’, generous. And who reminds you of Allah, when you see them.
I think it’s easy to be surprised by the levels of goodness that CMC students demonstrate, Maa Shaa Allah. Like: yesterday, someone who is in the cohort above ours, just left packets of biscuits for everybody. Without really telling anybody, I don’t think. Sharing food is such a lovely thing: food, and our social bonds are both absolutely fundamental to our humanity.
And if you go up to somebody and ask them for help: it’s in their nature, as Muslims, Maa Shaa Allah, to do their best to help you. These are people of God, Maa Shaa Allah, and I’m trying to be like them:
The way they pray, silently, attentively, and with Khushoo’. The sincerity that they bring, for example to our Development sessions, Maa Shaa Allah: the questions they’ll ask, quietly, intentionally.
It’s for Allah.
These people very much inspire me, AlHamduliLlah, and I hope I can grow to be more like them.
And every day: we are trying to be Muslim.
Islam. Submission to your Lord, the One and Only.
Īmān. Adherent belief in, and reliance/trust upon Him.
And: Iḥsān. Goodness, excellence, beauty of conduct/being.
When do people best ‘thrive‘?
In times of difficulty, or in times of ease?
Sometimes: people do really well when they’re from wealthy backgrounds, Maa Shaa Allah. They may have access to lots of resources, including excellent human ones. They might: learn fluent Arabic, even though they’d never really been exposed to the language in their youth. They might: do quite well, studying Islam, for example, ‘academically’.
And you can, also, flourish in relative ‘poverty’. Because Allah Decides, and when He Decrees a matter: He only says, “Be!” and it must be.
It is easy for Him.
The means are from Him; the ends, the successes and so on, are all from Him too. And it must also be for Him too.
Thursday 27th October 2022
Yesterday, I had Social Sciences class (in which we essentially had a History lesson. About the world, and why it is the way it is) followed by double-Arabic.
I really do love the Social Sciences, AlHamduliLlah. And as for Arabic: what a gorgeous and vast language. It is also quite complex. All these different types of words and sentences, for example.
Step by step, In Shaa Allah: we can learn more, and get better.
My Arabic teacher: when he’d accepted Islam, at age 18, [also: apparently Andrew Tate has accepted Islam too. So there’s that.] his mother, who had reverted before him, wanted for him to learn the Qur’an. She used to say that if he wants to go outside and play basketball, he needs to learn certain parts of the Qur’an. As well as the I’rāb of words (i.e. their grammatical positions).
There is wisdom in what mothers, typically, do for their children. Soon enough: our teacher had been ready, as a young Muslim revert, to go to places like Sudan in order to further his knowledge and understanding of Arabic, and the Deen.
So, yesterday, essentially: I had classes (with a lunch break in between) from 11 AM to almost 5 PM, since we had a[n optional] Tajweed class afterwards.
And then: my parents, aunt and uncle, little brother, and little cousin, had come down from London. To hang out with me, and to leave me with food, (e.g. homemade chicken pie! Quite a few containers of it in our freezer right now,) AlHamduliLlah. And, later: some things for my current home in Cambridge.
My housemate Sasha joined us today: first, we all went to the masjid. And I love my baby brother (who is ten years old,) so much. And my little cousin Siyana is AD-orable, Allah hummabārik. And this little girl’s style: Maa Shaa Allah. Checkered blazer that looks like a dress, and her trainers, I think. [Kids’ shoes that flash lights are so cute. Stomp stomp stomp.] And a little blue ring on her finger. “Ice,” as my housemate Sasha had remarked.
After the masjid: Sasha, my brother and I had gone to the Institute of Astronomy here in Cambridge, to listen to a talk about the stars. And then: we went to an outdoor viewing of them. And we also got to walk into, and upstairs in, the Astrodome.
Subhaan Allah: the stars are so gorgeous. And that Allah has Designed this Universe with Precision, and in such Beauty. Subhaan Allah.
My little brother is such a little character, Maa Shaa Allah. Such a bundle of energy and personality.
And: he has… a fairly unique, interesting, sense of humour. Sometimes, he likes to deliberately act like he ‘doesn’t know things’, for fun. My friend Jade says that he’s ‘too smart for his own good’, what with his sarcastic, often double-layered, sense of humour, for example.
Like yesterday, during the talk, the academic who’d been delivering it had addressed some questions to the kids in the audience.
For example: he’d asked about what happens when there is lightning/thunder. What do you hear?
The other kids were raising their hands, saying ‘sensible’ things about how lightning comes first, and so on.
My baby brother thought it would be funny to (bravely) put his hand up and say, in front of over a hundred people, that when there’s thunder, basically:
‘You can hear the dinosaurs roaring from heaven.‘
This boy. Sarcasm, sense of humour 100. And, also, the number of times I find myself saying,
“Saif, you’re on your final warning.” [I don’t think he takes me very seriously…]
[The thing is: I’m not his mum, I’m his older sister. So, typically: I find what he says/does hilarious. I also: have to be responsible over him.
I offered him £1, for him to behave himself, yesterday. He quickly compared the measly £1 to the £10 he’d (apparently) been promised from my mum, if he behaved well that day (yesterday).
I also found out, from a general lunchtime conversation with one of my teachers: that as much as you’re meant to love your kids… You’re also allowed to hit them (not so much that they hurt. And not anything that will leave a mark/bruise/scar,) if it’s for the sake of Tarbiyah: teaching, nurture.
But: I don’t think my brother is afraid of me. I think he finds it funny when I’m annoyed/angry.]
Two of my classmates from CMC had attended this event too. Raiyan, and Ayesha.
Raiyan had asked my brother how old he is. My brother said, ‘Guess.’
Raiyan asked: 25?
And Saif essentially said: Close. 21.
[The boy is ten years old.
As Muslims: we don’t condone lying, not even to make others laugh. But: you’re not blameworthy for your sins until you reach the age of maturity.]
Saif also told Ayesha and Raiyan that… he’s actually my cousin. [I don’t know why. But: Ayesha got the joke. She’s a mother, she has two (now grown-up,) kids of her own, Maa Shaa Allah.]
So. After trying to regulate my little brother’s energetic behaviour (e.g. his dancing in public. e.g. hugging my classmate, talking to him about football, and telling him about how he has a six-pack. e.g. waving, ‘for fun’, at the academic who’d led the talk, e.g. his hitting me in public. But I hit him back,) we’d eventually reached the telescope.
And looked at Jupiter more closely. It looked like…
A random disc of light, to be honest. But the Astrodome in general was quite cool.
And here is somebody’s office, from inside the Astronomy Institute [pretty ‘Big Bang Theory’, if you ask me. And at least some of the offices looked quite nice, actually, for example (not the one below,) with colourful books lining a nice bookshelf]:
The Universe is wonderful. And we are fortunate enough to be a part of the great big mystery.
After the Astronomy event: Sasha came with us, in my dad’s car (which my uncle had kindly been driving, since my dad, after a big surgery, hadn’t been well enough to drive,). We’d stopped off at The Ladz: an eatery that Sasha and I, and my aunt who’s visited Cambridge before, quite love the food from.
My dad bought us meals for us to take home. Lemon-and-herb quarter chicken, with peri steak chips, for me. And a veggie meal for Sasha, since she’s vegetarian. And meals for everyone else in the car.
And, presumably the restaurant manager: very kindly gave my little cousin Siyana a free pink milkshake. He’d also: presented her with a range of straws to choose from, told her to choose her favourite colour.
She’d picked: the yellow one [her favourite colours, as far as I know: pink, and then yellow.]
Children are very important, Maa Shaa Allah. Blessings to the world, and to our ‘individual ones’.
Beautiful people. And the stars.
And cakes, chicken pies, and chicken curry from your family. And some strawberries, and a box of mangoes!
And: a new plate, and saucepan. Bathroom mats. Clean clothes.
The best little brother I could ever ask for. And probably the best housemate also, Subhaan Allah. The people we’re blessed with: exactly whom and how they are. Perfect, by Divine Decree. And being given the chance to be a student at CMC. AlHamduliLlah:
I’m very, very grateful.
Though life is, at times, riddled with difficulties. And sadness definitely exists:
[I know, for example, that in the throes of depression, which is a very real thing to go through and experience, it can be difficult to really feel this, but:]
We’re so very blessed to be alive, Subhaan Allah. As we are. And with all these gifts we’ve been Given.
A Qur’anic, Universal, Law, is that: Allah will increase us, if we are grateful.
And as my History teacher, Dr Mariam, points out:
Gratitude is not ‘just gratitude-journalling‘…
It’s, essentially, looking at where (in the Universe) Allah has Placed you. The very whom that He has Made you.
And: seeking to do the best, best, best, make the most out of whom you are, where you are, what is around you, and what you have been Presented with. Of, very much, what has been Gifted to you!
- To honour what Allah has Honoured us with.
We put the effort in, and try to strive for standards of utmost Goodness, Beauty, and Excellence. Rooted in Truth.
With Allah is the: where we are going. What ‘becomes’ of this. The outcomes. And so on.
Here is a ‘slip’ that my brother took of me, on my phone. A picture of Sasha’s phone screen, when she’d wanted to take a selfie with all of us, presumably, in it:
And here is a reminder that benefits us, as Muslims:
These lives of ours are likely not going to be ‘easy’. You might: go through bouts of depression, from time to time. Difficulties, perhaps even daily. And experience losses, and things of pain, anger, fear, and so on. But:
We will have awesome, incredible stories to tell, by the Will of, and as a Gift from, our Lord.
And, if we are Muslims, Mu’mins, and strive to be
Then, no doubt, our lives, in this world, and in the Next One,
Will be blessed indeed!
‘It’s not your friend[/family member] who is making you happy. It’s Allah who is Making you happy. He is the Fā’il (the Doer).’
[Another pearl from our Development session, with Dr Talal.]
And: sometimes, it’s like an Angel is whispering to you. Reminding you. That you are here for more. You are here to worship and adore Allah, and
worshipping, and being Beloved by, Allah is definitely the greatest, highest of human honours.
Today, I took the bus to college. Tried to do a bit of Theology reading on the way.
And we had our Logic, then Islamic Law, then Theology, lessons in the hall of the church that neighbours CMC.
Our college is situated in an interesting place: sometimes, you can hear children playing/laughing, since there’s a Nursery nearby. Sometimes: you might hear a Christian choir singing.
I think we also have some sort of Cambridge University research centre right nearby. So, yes: we’re in an interesting location, all in all.
Science, religion, and childhood.
Struggles make us grow, if we can make the most out of them. And isn’t it just one of the best feelings: when something was once quite difficult, and then Allah brings about ease, and makes it smooth?
If things were ‘easy’, here in Dunya, ‘all the time‘: wouldn’t that just make these lives of ours… quite uneventful? Boring?
Less real, meaningful things to do, advice to seek, mistakes to make and learn from. Growth.
I know usage of this word might sound trite [trite: lacking freshness. Cliché] by now, on this blog, but:
Academia, as with lots of things in these lives of ours: issa journey.
You’ll likely have your ups, and your correct answers in class [moments like that… give me a bit of a rush, to be honest].
You may well experience your dips, your more tired, and so on, times. And das okay: we recognise times of brightness in contrast with those times that are less so.
Tony, the builder who’s been working on the house: his works are to a high standard, Maa Shaa Allah. He also does some of the works inside the Cambridge ‘eco’ masjid.
And: he brings his instant hot chocolate with him in the morning. And was speaking about how: he’d really been into art, and then set up some kind of design factory with his younger brother. And he’d set it all up for his brother. And then they’d fallen out with one another, had a dispute.
His brother had passed away, in a motorcycle accident, soon afterwards.
And then Tony took up work in construction. He likes to design things, and he’s good at art, Maa Shaa Allah.
Also: I know I need to be careful with how I part with people. Did I hug them sufficiently? What did I say to them last?
Some things that have inspired me, here in Week 5 (Week 6, I think, if we also count Induction Week,) at CMC:
I think, yesterday, I’d seen a fellow student sitting with the Qur’an, in the Prayer Room. We want to be people who truly love the Qur’an.
One of my classmates writes in pencil. Another: records basically everything, across all eight of our modules, in one (Paperblanks, I think,) notebook.
I love how freely, effortlessly, sharing, and loving, they are, Maa Shaa Allah. Generosity is a sign of being close to Allah, you know.
The people at CMC are very generous, Allah hummabārik. These individuals are close to Allah, and I want to be with them. In this world, and in the Next One, In Shaa Allah. They really inspire me.
Smiles and Husn-ud-Dhan.
I love smiling at people, and then: when they affirm it, and smile right back. It’s such a nice moment that you can share, maybe for less than a second, even, with a fellow human being.
And I need to learn to look upon people, and situations, in ways that are better. Make excuses for people.
Like the lady who, once, inside the masjid: seemed like she’d glared at me. Twice. Instead of smiling back. [Maybe: she had vision problems. Or: anxious thoughts, which told her that I’d been smiling mockingly or something. Or maybe: she did think herself ‘better’ than me, and ‘too good’ to smile back. And that would be kinda sad for her.]
Why do the singular negative experiences sometimes seem like they threaten to undermine all of the positives?
Lots of people smile back, AlHamduliLlah. And it’s warming.
Currently, my housemate Sasha and I are at our dining room table, with two girls who are from Nigeria.
A potential new housemate: Shirley. And her sister, Theola.
We had a nice conversation at the table today. People who can make you laugh >
And, also, I have to learn to be really okay with the fact that I can’t force ‘high energy’. Sometimes, I’m likely going to be quiet and so on. That’s okay. And it’s okay to have some ‘geeky’ interests and enjoy things that some others might think are ‘boring’. The truth is: they might just like some of those same things too. So maybe don’t preface it with: “I know this might sound geeky but…”
Embrace it! Be the you that Allah has blessed you with being.
Their (i.e. other people’s,) souls might well be quite similar, in these ways or in those, to your own!
Can we talk about… beauty?
Something that we, by nature: recognise.
Our faculties for recognising beauty: they’re quite innate, aren’t they?
And, it seems: there’s also a ‘political’ aspect. Some of our ‘ideas’, perhaps, are ‘fed’ to us, through the environments in which we grow up in and so on.
Sunsets and sunrises can be very beautiful indeed. Subhaan Allah. Reminders of God, and He is Beautiful, and He Loves beauty.
The stars are quite beautiful. And the sky, as it approaches Maghrib time. And Autumns, and the ways in which the world looks: subtly ablaze.
Small children, as well, can be so, so, so beautiful. Little beacons of beauty (and hilarity!). Like: my little cousins Dawud and Siyana.
Different types of beauty, and in different ‘ways’. Some children: they can make your heart melt, just by your looking at them. Their smiling. And their very tender, very human, moments.
The other day, when my family, and Sasha, who is basically family at this point, Maa Shaa Allah:
When we’d visited the masjid, there’d been, presumably, a mother, a father, and their son. They looked Yemeni to me. And the lady, the sister, was (is) beautiful, Maa Shaa Allah. And their son: gorgeous too, Allah hummabārik.
He reminded me, quite a bit, of my cousin Dawud, what with his spill of dark curly hair. And beautiful eyes, lined with dark eyelashes. And my cousin Dawud’s skin is… olive-toned? [Describing skin colours/tones via food. A somewhat strange thing to do, no?]
Our family, as far as we know: is Sylheti (Bangladeshi) and with roots in Yemen. Sylhet, in Bangladesh, is quite a diverse place, in terms of ethnic makeup. With: East and Central and South Asian influences. And Arab, Persian…
I’m not sure if I feel that much of a ‘closeness’ to Bangladesh (unlike, for example, one of my classmates. But he’s from Dhaka), except maybe to my family there. And to my roots in Sylhet, and the gorgeous water bodies, and the tea gardens, there.
I feel some sort of connection to Yemen too. It must be a place of such immense beauty, though now it is ravaged by war and by famine.
As far as human (physical) beauty goes:
I think my environment taught me, growing up, that ‘to be beautiful is to have white skin’.
Neither I, nor my cousin Dawud, have ‘white skin’. And what if this leads to some people dismissing my little cousin’s gorgeousness, and mistakenly seeing him as being… ‘not-beautiful’?
When I started to consider… Yemeni beauty. And African and Middle Eastern ‘standards of beauty’: I learnt that the world is wider. And that beauty is far, far more than ‘white skin’, in truth. If we were to have ‘milk-white’ skin: would we have been ‘more beautiful’?
According to some (subjective) opinions: yes, definitely.
But I’ve grown, AlHamduliLlah, to be really quite happy with how Allah Himself has Designed me. And no fellow human being can overstep that, for example with constructs of ‘fairness ‘being’ beauty’.
Human beauty is very diverse. It’s: considering features and so on, and how Allah has Placed them. Maybe I’ve still got some unlearning to do, but when there is harm, and falseness, in some of the things that we have grown up ‘knowing’:
We can come to change our ways of seeing. And see the world through truer eyes.
My cousin Dawud, and that little boy from the masjid, must be one of the most gorgeous little kids alive right now, Maa Shaa Allah.
I really don’t think that, ‘objectively’, whiter skin, blonder and straighter hair, and bluer eyes is, in any way, ‘better’ than browner skin, darker hair, and brown eyes.
I think Yemeni beauty: is absolutely beautiful, Maa Shaa Allah. And Nigerian, and Somali. And German, and Scandinavian. Etc. Etc.
Yesterday, for dinner, I had:
Chicken pie. Straight from the freezer, then into the oven, and which my aunt/uncle had made back in London, and had brought here to Cambridge. ‘Beautiful out of 10’, as Sasha likes to say.
‘Exquisite out of 11,’ as I like to return.
Here is a card that one of my younger cousins had made for her mum. She, along with her little sister I think, had surprised her mum with breakfast in the morning. And a gift or two. And this card, Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik:
You have been Designed Perfectly. The people in your life: some of them more tests, some of them, big blessings.
Some more ten-year-old boy humour:
How do I conclude this ‘article’?
Maybe: in thinking about the mysteries, and the sheer, God-Given, majestic beauty, of the whole wide world [including… dishwashers?! What confusing mysteries they are/can be], and the Universe, around us. Spinning, and in motion.
Islam, the religion that our Creator has Ordained for us:
Is truly beautiful too. Our refuge in what can often feel like a storm. It can be cold outside, and Islam is our home.
Islam is easy, simple, and beautiful. And we should adhere to Allah’s Commands with trust and faith. And also know that He has made things easy for us.