FRI 04/11/22: Connection, Compassion. And Being ‘Almost the Prettiest Bacteria’.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“Slowly slow,

Don’t rush, you know:

It’ll all come easy.”


Wednesday.

It’s been recommended to us, by one of our Shaykhs, that the optimum time for sleep at night: is between 10pm and 4am. I really want to follow this advice: as nice as the night can be, and night-walks and so on…

If you sleep in line with natural circadian rhythms, you’ll hopefully wake up feeling refreshed, ready for the day, beginning with Fajr. I just need to make better choices: and then, In Shaa Allah, witness the ripple effects of them.


On Wednesday, my housemate Sasha (whose name, in full, as I discovered the other day, is Alexandra,) and I went to Nisa Local (shop. Mini supermarket). She got her stuff, including some doughnuts. [We both have a ‘sweet tooth’, to employ that idiom. And the other day, Sasha’d asked me what my favourite idioms are. I’m not sure I can state any favourites off the top of my head. But idioms aside: in Bengali, if you do something weird or unfavourable, you may be asked, up front, whether you’re a human being or a cow.]

That was an evening trip to the shops. Things like this: they often just feel better under the blanket of the night, no? The stars, and the strange feeling, the streets being more bare.

I bought two cups of instant noodles [the type with ‘better’ ingredients. Hashtag health.]


Into the Fiqh of it.

Currently, at age 21, I am living away from my family: they’re in London, while I’m in Cambridge. I’m a student at a college/small university called the Cambridge Muslim College, which is like a crossover between studying for a ‘Western’ degree, and also engaging with traditional sources of knowledge and so on.

As far as I know, from a Fiqhi [Fiqh: Islamic Law] perspective, women shouldn’t travel the distance of a ‘day and a night’ without being accompanied by a Mahram, a protective male guardian. Father, brother, direct uncle, husband, father-in-law.

However: I’m living here, in a relatively secure location, AlHamduliLlah. My family members are but a phone call or text away; there’s (hopefully) an operative police force here in Cambridge. Oh, and:

My parents and I have this agreement that I won’t, generally, be out at night. But when I do, however, for example, go to an event, or to the shop with Sasha, or elsewhere: I’ll let them know, and basically seek their permission.

The thing about Islamic rulings, for example concerning the fact that your parents have a right over you, and that you should obey what they say…

Is that, in the moment, it may seem like: ‘whyyy. Why must I? I’m 21 years old! I should be ‘independent’ and ‘free’.’

But Allah Knows best. He’s given parents something special. This parental wisdom. And if I can overcome my Nafs sometimes, and just listen to them: Allah will Reward me with something better.

  • Islamic principle: make choices with your Lord in mind. He will Reward you!

‘Busy’.

These days: I have found myself being… ‘busy’. I’ve even been answering texts while walking. Ping! Ping! Things to do.

Slowly slow, my darling. I’m here for you.’

I only want the best for you.


God will always Smile on you, my child.

So have faith, have faith.


Emails to respond to. Academic readings, academic reviews. It’s certainly not a ‘bad’ thing: to have things, meaningful things, to do.

[Scheduled things, deadlines, for example: may well motivate you to get things done, in a good way, with good reason. Impetus.]

So long as we don’t feel overburdened by them. So long as, sometimes, we’re able to make better choices for ourselves. Put the ‘work’ and so on aside, for a good moment. Relax. Your self has a right over you, too.

On Wednesday evening: Sasha and I made a general plan to ‘eat outside’, in the garden.

But then it was cold. And so she: turned the sofa toward the door that goes out into the garden. Put fairy lights up. And we were ‘half inside’, ‘half outside’. Eating noodles, me. And drinking an energy drink: her. This friend of mine is a real blessing, AlHamduliLlah.

But, in spite of my own ‘stress’, (eustress. Meaning: ‘good stress’,) I need to be present with people, when I am with them. So that’s something else I need to work on, In Shaa Allah.


The fears we often have, concerning our own selves: are often proven to be far from the case, actually. You might think that other people ‘think X, Y, and Z’ about you. While the truths of what they are thinking, and telling you, are the complete opposite!

Le anxiety. She: lies.

Anyway. I have wondered if I am ‘difficult to live with’ and so on. But Sasha has told me that she quite likes living with me. Vice versa, AlHamduliLlah!

And, today: we have a third tenant moving in to live with us, In Shaa Allah. Shirley, who is an international student, from Nigeria.


On Wednesday [?] evening: Sasha just wanted to sit with me, to have a chat. Which was really nice: emotional sharing, connection. Things like this… make a house feel more like home.

We’d spoken about things like… the psychological concept of limerence [intense ‘romantic’ infatuation, obsession, longing. Not ‘love’, more idealising. But can be mistaken for being ‘love’.].

We’d spoken about OCD, just generally. And I really like that Sasha sends me videos and so on that she’s found interesting, and which she thinks I’d like too.

I showed her a ‘translated Arabic song’ that I’d accidentally happened upon, while looking something up for my Islamic Studies [for our Arabic module, I think]:

Brace yourself…

Almost the prettiest bacteria.’ Probably not a very flattering ‘compliment’ to be on the receiving end of…

Anyway. Sharing things is really nice, and in this house: we like connection!


Sasha reminded me about the need for compassion. Towards others, and towards our own selves too.

Don’t beat yourself up over it.

As in: people are not ‘concepts’. Human beings do not belong on pedestals, and we are made of earth. We’re beautiful, and beautifully flawed, beings, we.

And we owe it to ourselves, and to others: to not ‘love’ people as though they are concepts. Movie characters, screens on which to project idealistic ideas and so on. We’re all…

Kinda scared. Kinda sad, broken.

Happy, laughing, learning, and things take us by surprise.

Having more compassion towards myself and towards others, to me, might entail: not being excessive in ‘praise’/admiration, and in expectations. They’re just as human as you are. I want to recognise what is good, and try to be merciful with regard to what is less so.

I know I’ve made mistakes. Completely foolish ones.

Compassion to others would involve trying my best to make it up to them, and to do better. Compassion to myself would be: recognising that these things happen. Where’s your heart at, what are your intentions saying? It’s okay: just try your best, and, to employ a phrase that our Arabic/Hadīth teacher (who is from Belgium) often employs…

Don’t break your head over it.


Thursday.

Sasha and I had drinks from Starbucks in the morning. Not because we’re rich and bougie or anything, but: sometimes a nice hot drink in the morning is nice. And motivating.

She: had a pink drink. Strawberries and cream. I: had a green one. Matcha.

I: worked on a presentation. During this Reading Week, as students, we’ve been having review/consolidation sessions over Zoom (cameras off, thankfully). Yesterday (Thursday,) I’d led the one for our Social Sciences module. Mainly about Ibn Khaldun.

Ibn Khaldun was a (14th C, CE) Tunisian historian/sociologist. He’d cared not solely about the ‘outer’ factors of history: names, dates, events, and so on. But also about the inner meanings: lessons, patterns, the factors underlying X, Y, and Z…

  • Where in the world Allah Places you. The people you come to interact with, for example Ibn Khaldun’s being acquainted with civil servants and so on…

It’s all Intentional. All relevant, and important.

We’re shaped by our environments, including people. We, also, play active roles in shaping our environments, and influencing people!


Christmas Earrings.

Yesterday, Sasha had received a parcel. From her mum. It had: some sweets, and Russian pastries, in it. [They’re ethnically from Uzbekistan, and Sasha’s grandma lives in Russia now.] And some Christmassy earrings.

Sasha let me have a pair: a pair of plain studs, which I really like, AlHamduliLlah.

I don’t celebrate Christmas, personally. But I do love the wintry season. And earrings.

Subhaan Allah: I’d actually been looking at myself the other day, thinking… maybe I’d suit stud earrings. Maybe.

  • Allah Knows what’s best for you!

And when it’s best for you to receive it, also!


Sasha also has a subscription to an artist’s Patreon. This artist: sends her monthly ‘zines’, which are like mini magazines. Apparently, they’d started out – zines – as things that had been produced by marginalised communities, maybe in America.


Sasha and I, it seems: we tend to talk about things like psychology (the contents of her studies) together. [I learn things from her. And sometimes, you may find that conversations with certain people: ‘unlock‘ thoughts/ideas you have, which you wouldn’t otherwise have explored, really.] And we’ve also been talking about capitalism (when it’s rampant, and unchecked. In moderation: it’s good, fosters innovation, gives people autonomy over their money, etc.). Unchecked, immoderate capitalism: we seem to speak about it often in a funnier way, it seems: like about the place of ‘mindfulness’ within it. It seems kind of artificial, to extract such a tradition of ‘presentness’ and peace, into a system that seems to only care about individuals’ mental wellbeing insofar as it then makes them ‘better workers’. Like:

Okay, Joshua, I get that you’re having daily panic attacks because of this unbearable workload that we are burdening you with, and the fact that we are overlooking the fact that you are a human being. We are paying you a substantial amount per hour, so do be grateful, and get over yourself.

So that we don’t get sued, as a corporation we are graciously gracing you with one 50-minute slot of mindfulness coaching a week so that you can get over that problem and be more efficient and effective in working for us!

You know what they say: time is money! Please help yourself to some complimentary coffee, so that you don’t stop. Don’t you want those new Louis Vuitton trainers you’ve been eyeing recently?

We might even throw in a free colouring book for you! Make sure you continue measuring your human worth in terms of capitalistic ‘productivity’! Thank you for working for us,

Adieu!


Thank You for Existing.

You are not ‘just’ a worker. Not ‘just’ a mere ‘cog in the system of wheels’. Not a rat in some grand ‘rat race’.

But a beautiful, beloved, human being: created, in the best of forms, by Allah.

From Sasha’s zine:


The best way to feel truly connected, on the human level, is: to be a human being, in conversation with other human beings. To let ourselves feel our very real, human emotions [and: also moderate the less-favourable ones. Like anger, like jealousy.]

And maybe, also, as Sasha and I had spoken about: to not let ‘social media’/texting form the majority, the ‘backbones’, of our very human, very real, relationships.

‘Communicating’ online, for example:

So much is omitted [omitted: left out.]. Like tone.

A useful ‘Tone Indicator Masterlist’, again, from Alexandra’s zine:

I’m prone to ‘overthinking’, as many people are. I can wrongly assume the true intents between something someone says/texts, and then find myself being ‘convinced’ of them.

Good, authentic, genuine communication: irreplaceably, indisputably, important for we, le human beings.


Addressing the ‘good’, and effectively, and also compassionately, discussing the (inevitable, very human,) ‘bad’.

Maybe I need to learn to be more straightforward in what I say. Say what I mean, but in a good way. And not expect people to ‘read between the lines’, and so on.

I don’t know if you can relate, but that’s what I often find myself doing: trying to ‘read between the lines’. Maybe I should take words at face value. Or should I? Because sometimes, what people say:

Can really actually be entire ice-bergs, concealing so much of meaning, and feeling.

Ah, being human: kind of complex to navigate, at least at times, no?


Here is a cat that Sasha and I saw yesterday:

Yesterday, we’d gone to a Cambridge University Islamic Society talk, about the Foundations of Fiqh [Sasha is on a placement year at Cambridge University, Maa Shaa Allah. Plus, CMC students are invited to these events, free o’ charge!]

It’s interesting to think about Islamic Law. And about, to quote Sheikh Ma’an, the speaker, how:

Knowledge is Light.

And, to consider just how much RaHmah – mercy, lovingkindness – Allah has Placed for us, in the Islamic way of life. For example: there are the things that we must do, and those that we must stay away from.

And there are leniencies, and grey areas, and contextual ‘passes’, and so on, in between. But we need to learn our Deen, lest we accidentally let it get [what’s the word?] hijacked [? Co-opted? Appropriated?] by individuals who don’t have deep understandings of our faith. Whose hearts, and minds, and what they say, and what they do…

Might just be more ‘darkness’. Than what we are looking for: light.

And now for a pretty gallery of things:

Sasha and I thought we might have an intruder or something in the house yesterday. So we checked rooms, cupboards, and so on. I held a (pink) knife in my hand, just in case.

I also had to deal with a spider situation. I’m not terrified of spiders, but they aren’t all that pleasant to me, either…

Cambridge and its bikes…

Hello, Bruce Wayne?

There was this Hadīth [Hadīth: reported narration of the Prophet (S A W)], whose lesson is very useful, and meaningful:

And [we do text each other from inside the same house]:

In conclusion:

When we love, and are loved, by people: it should be real, and not as ‘concepts’. ‘Concepts’: a small pin-prick, and the whole thing bursts — a balloon, a bubble. Humanity: real, and ‘good’ as well as some sprinklings of problems/challenges. And day-by-day, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment.

Hopefully, remembering this will allow us to be far more compassionate, towards ourselves, and towards others. You’re not meant to be ‘perfect’ here. But keep going, keep trying!

We’re all just human beings, trying to navigate this great big and also interesting mystery of being human, being alive, being rational and feeling beings, aren’t we?


Sasha really loves cats. I: really love being around, playing with, taking care of kids. The cuteness, the hilarity, the insights and fun and pureness that they bring to the world! True, true blessings from Allah.

My uncle’s current profile picture on Whatsapp: is of him being kissed on the cheek, presumably right when he woke up, by his young (four-year-old) son. Allah hummabārik.

So much love, tenderness, and joy, Maa Shaa Allah, that can exist between individual people. As gifts from God: our hearts are tethered to one another, and in spite of the distance, connected.

*Maybe it’s true that if you want to see what matters to a person: take a look at what/whom they photograph.

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