بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
There is no such a thing as things happening ‘for no reason’. Everything has a reason. God said, “Be!” and therefore, and only therefore: it is. And has been, and will be…
This weekend just gone:
On Saturday, my dad picked me up from my house in Cambridge. A mini road trip back to London. Snacks from the Sainsbury’s petrol pump en route: a tuna sandwich and a smoothie for me.
I feel, AlHamduliLlah, more ‘home‘ in Cambridge than I do back in London. In different ways, I suppose: I’ll probably always be a Londoner at heart. You can take the girl/woman out of London…
My family is in London. Known places, to me, are in London. And I’m glad, AlHamduliLlah, that the two are not so far apart from one another, Cambridge and London, London and Cambridge. By train: about an hour-and-a-half. By car: 45 minutes, maybe, sometimes.
Here is a note that my 10-year-old brother left for me, on my laptop, this weekend:
[I love it so muchhhhh. I love my baby brother so much: what a major gift and a blessing from God, AlHamduliLlah.]
We have an interesting relationship with one another, at the best of times…
Saif refuses to ever ‘complete the heart‘:
[Allah hummabārik, my baby brother, my gorgeous homie…
In Bengali, there’s a phrase that means, I think, ‘[significant] piece of my heart‘. It’s: Zaanor Tukra]
Sometimes: Saif throws things at me. ‘For fun’.
And, my baby brother:
He also loves our cat friend, Safi. He loves Safi so, so much. Gives him bird videos to watch on YouTube, covers him in hugs and love and affection…
On Saturday evening, my nan treated us (me, my brother, and some of our cousins) to desserts/drinks at a place behind the masjid, in Whitechapel.
You know what I love? Coffee ice-cream.
I want to try to, In Shaa Allah, have desserts twice a week. Things to quite look forward to, for example at the end of a day of fasting… [Some people here at CMC… fast every Monday and Thursday, Maa Shaa Allah. And take lunch home for themselves, in containers, for when they will break their fast.]
“You can’t nutmeg me: I’m wearing a thobe.”
Said one of my cousins, 16-year-old Moosa, to his younger brother, Isa. A quick game of indoor hallway-football [do you say ‘corridor’ or ‘hallway’? The way ‘Americanisms’, i.e. American expressions, seep into our ways of speaking…].
[Nutmeg: in football, when the ball goes through a player’s legs. Also, quite separately, a spice.]
[Thobe: a long garment that Arab men, and some Muslim men, wear.]
Moosa and Isa had come back, I think, from the library. Isa likes to read, bless him. And then will likely call me a ‘nerd’ if I were to read in front of him. [Because: pro-jec-tion!]
Do I get bullied by little 10/11-year-old boys? Why, yes, yes I do. It’s character-building.
[Once, during Ramadān, when we had a cake for Ifthār: I jokingly threatened them with a knife. After they annoyed me a lot. They were… very scared… as a result of that. And I regret nothing. Brothers.]
Is it better to be loved or feared?
Both, Dear Reader. [Both.]
Life can be really tricky, you know. And also, very, very beautiful: and sometimes, we just have to wait a good while, to really see it.
I can’t believe how massively, undyingly, blessed I am, to have my brother as my brother. AlHamduliLlah! And my best friend Tasnim, as my best friend. And Jade as my sister. Etc.
Today, Dr. Zainab, the BA administrator here at CMC and a very lovely person, Maa Shaa Allah:
She was talking, after we asked about them, about her twin daughters. And about how they catch onto things. Like when Dr. Zainab had been play-fighting with her husband, jokingly saying things that would indicate displeasure…
Then, on a different day, when she was telling her daughters what major blessings they are, and what a blessing it is for her, that Dr. Zainab is married to her husband: they caught onto that. ‘But didn’t you say, the other day…’
- Telling people that they are big blessings: Ni’mah, Gifts from God… in this life of yours… Brings joy to you, and to people you love. And increases us in feelings of gratitude, to God.
When you enter my cousins’ home:
The next day, Sunday:
My cousin Maryam, and Sadia (my cousin Mazhar’s wife,) went to a party at a restaurant: our eldest cousin is pregnant, and her sister-in-law wanted to do something for her.
When the doctors asked my cousin, whom we call Didi out of respect [that’s a South Asian thing: special names/titles to different people who are older than you,] if she would like to know the gender of her child… She said no. But her husband wanted to know. And so: her husband has been in the know, as has her sister-in-law.
Didi found out the gender of her baby yesterday, right before we did. She was shaking a bit as she held the knife to cut the cake: that moment was significant.
After four months in the womb: an Angel blows the RooH, the soul, of the child, into it. And so, it’s a person. I have a niece/nephew, though s/he is yet unborn… AlHamduliLlah. I already know that s/he is a real, real cutie-pie, and may Allah bless him/her, always.
A rainy day in London, before we walked into the restaurant:
The restaurant is called Ticca Tikka, and it’s quite nice there, the food, the atmosphere. And you can buy a range of alcohol-free beers and so on there, even.
Based in Shoreditch, East London.
Good biryani, good bread. Nice samosa chaat. And they do paani puree also. The drinks looked good too, Maa Shaa Allah.
Paani puree [AKA Fushka, AKA some other variant names for it…] is a South Asian snack that involves… crisp shells being filled with a mixture made with potatoes and chickpeas… And you pour a special watery sauce into it, and then you have to eat the whole thing before it gets messy!
The bread there… was really good. Maa Shaa Allah: all goodness, and everything we like, is a gift from God.
- At one point, at the restaurant… some food was set on fire. Some of the grilled food: one of those shows…
How it started:
How it went:
In the evening:
We stopped by at Maryam’s boba shop. My cousin Maryam, Maa Shaa Allah, is 19 years old. And: she’s Operations Manager of a chain of bubble tea shops. There are people under her command who are older than her. She hires, she fires…
And, the previous day, (Saturday,) they’d had their opening for their new bubble tea shop branch. We went to visit. Got free drinks, free… ice-cream!
The new shop is very pretty, Maa Shaa Allah. Clean, white aesthetic. Plants. Pale/baby pink.
Maryam also bought me some teaspoons, from Sainsbury’s, yesterday. We had to pop in to get something for the restaurant party. And: I’d just been looking at the small homeware section, thinking aloud at how cute the little teaspoons were. Maryam was basically like, you like them? You think they’re cute? Does your new house have spoons? [Yes, yes it does.] I’m getting them for you.
[Small things: we tend to consider ‘cute’. And also easy and fun to bully, perhaps. I’m probably smaller than 5’1, and these are the stories of my life…
My housemate Sasha says people are inclined to (jokingly) bully me because I seem like I can take a joke. Can I take a joke?! Sasha, can I?!]
What takes place in a mosque?
“Keynes doesn’t actually say this. This guy’s a waffler, bruv.”
A group of boys were studying together in the café of the Cambridge Central Masjid.
Then they say something about SmartPrice fish fingers, compared with Bird’s Eye.
It sounds like they’re studying… Economics.
Is the sort of place where… an Alison might meet a Halima.
Where a Sadia [das me!] might meet an Amina.
And where children are laughing, running, playing. People take off their shoes. The Qur’an recitation is moving, and it is surely beautiful.
I really do love Winter vibes. As a Muslim: I don’t celebrate Christmas, personally. Considering its origins and all [thought to be the ‘birthday’ of the ‘Roman sun god’, Mithra, which was incidentally my brother’s preschool teacher’s name, aw. And then the date had been adopted by Christians as the ‘birthday of Jesus’ too].
I’m not exactly a Scrooge, and nor am I a Grinch: I won’t… tear down tinsel, if I see it. Or turn upside-down the smiles of happy little children, hopefully. I do quite love the aesthetic of festive cheer, and fireplaces, hot chocolates, the cosiest clothes, and lights.
But I’ll say I love Winter, and not necessarily Christmas, you see.
Here’s Caffé Nero Cambridge, this late November morning…
Christmas is, these days, more of a ‘secular’ tradition, isn’t it? A reason for family and friends, coming together, exchanging gifts. My mum’s friend, Auntie Kelly, practically always gives us gifts for Christmas and New Year. And I’m not one to say no to gifts, personally. [She also checks ingredients to make sure any food she’s giving us is Halāl! Bless!]
Still: for me, I have the two Eids. To give and receive gifts, and to be extra celebratory and happy. The days of Eid are blessed by God, and I do. Love. Eid!
Incidentally: this is something I’d been talking to my CCM kids about today, at Madrasa [I teach children at the Cambridge Central Masjid]. Because kids have questions. Like those common ones: why don’t we celebrate Halloween / Christmas / Easter?
Today, we’d spoken about the origins of those festivals. And about Eid, also. We had a Boys V Girls quiz, and I’d managed to make use of… the ‘Team Girl’ and ‘Team Boy’ stickers from the ‘gender reveal’ party yesterday!
I was on Team Girl for this quiz. But then the boys asked if I could be on Team Boy too. I can’t be partial, as a teacher. But the girls did end up winning!
I am very fortunate, AlHamduliLlah, to have the teachers I have, at CMC. A big Ni’mah from Allah Himself.
One of our teachers, Shaykh Sulayman, who is ethnically from Belgium…
His young son attends a majority-Christian school. Where: they ‘pray to Jesus’. Meanwhile, Shaykh Sulayman’s son… prays to Allah.
Yesterday, since his mother is ethnically Moroccan, while his dad is ethnically Belgian…
And Belgium played Morocco yesterday, for the World Cup (2022, Qatar,) Laith [‘Lion’ in Arabic,] said that he’s supporting Morocco.
“Because they are lions and Muslims.”
We saw a video of him saying this. And he’s four years old. God Bless, Maa Shaa Allah. He is so cute.
Here is a picture of Whitechapel in the rain… [From when I was in the car,]
And some of the quietly both eerie and spectacular… mist and haze that enveloped the fields and so on, en route, via train, to Cambridge…
Here is something meaningful that I’d seen on somebody’s WhatsApp status:
[We’re not really ‘made for this world’. Jannah is our homeland; we are, at our cores, empty and homesick until we reach it.]
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.
Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.
I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find until after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.”
— C.S. Lewis
Here is… a super aesthetic pic I took of my cousin Mazhar, and his wife, Sadia [she and I share a first name, but I like to call her Saadi] in the window of the bubble tea shop…
Feat. Rain droplets on the car window, since I was sitting in the car.
[May Allah bless them always…]
Mazhar and Sadia got married when they were 20 years old, Maa Shaa Allah. He’s now 22; she’s 21. They kept it Halāl, and for that Allah has Blessed them!
Now, here are my spoons, which I love, feat. a wedding invite that I’d received in the mail [AKA post. Another Americanism,] today, which I also very much love:
And a follow-up thank you message:
I suppose this article was more photos than actual writing, no?
I think it does actually get tiring, though perhaps in the best way, to go back to London on some weekends. And then come back here. [I came back this (Monday) morning, by train, and went to my first class of the day].
We really do adapt to things fairly quickly, don’t we? We quite quickly, easily, become acclimatised, in Shaykh Sulayman’s words. Things change, things happen. All with Divine Reason. None of it has ever been without reason, and without Purpose.
[Do I end here, or do I compile and write more over the week, to publish it all on Friday? Hmmmmmm….]
This has been a fairly busy weekend. Let’s just publish in 3, 2…