SAT 28/01/23: Babies and Crafts. And Wonder, Gratitude, and… Rest.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In a week’s time, In Shaa Allah, I’ll be commencing my Sugar-Free Month (i.e. no added sugars!) to help the local East London Muslim Scouts group raise money for Cancer Research UK.

So far, my page is on £120 out of my personal goal of £500. Please do donate if you can/want!

This is me we’re talking about. Going sugar-free. [!!!]

On Wednesday, in the evening, after teaching at the CCM Madrasah, I felt… surprisingly not-low in my energy levels! Why? Well, I put it down to the Innocent (trademark) green smoothie I had, which only contains naturally-occurring sugars.

I also had a bar of chocolate that contained dark chocolate. And dark chocolate contains good amounts of iron: I’m quite iron-deficient.

Yesterday had begun as a slow day, holding, maybe, some sad promise of it also being a slumpish one. But then: Ding! Postman at the door. Delivering two parcels: one for my housemate Sasha, and one for me.

Hers: her subscription to a monthly zine (homemade magazine, by an online artist). And mine: a handmade ring, made for me by my cousin’s wife Sadia [same name as me. Fortunately, I also have another name].

Saadi [my nickname for her!] is very good at art, Allah hummabārik. At watercolour painting, and canvases. Crochet, and… jewellery-making. She’s recently started up a jewellery-making business, and I wanted to purchase a purple/pink ring from her, to wear to my friend Jade’s wedding soon, In Shaa Allah.

Saadi let me have the ring as a gift. It is so pretty and cute: ‘princess vibes’, ‘enchanted vibes’. I love it! It looks, at least in part, like a ring a young girl would get, in order to play at being a princess.

I do not want the ‘child-ness’ in me to die.

I want to be filled with colour, even though there will also be dark days, and times of sorrow.

And what about wonder, and fascination and amazement? These are very important qualities, and as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad pointed out in a recent lecture he’d delivered to us on the topic of Gender:

Wonder leads to gratitude. It’s true, isn’t it?

I love this ring; the design is wonderful, and I am very grateful, AlHamduliLlah.

[Wooow. Shinyyyyy. You know who else loves colours and shiny things? Babies. Our earliest selves.]

Yesterday my friend and classmate Iqra (the one who is a qualified dentist, did her ʿAlimiyyah course in Pakistan, and is an officer in the Royal Navy) and I met James and Nurjahan’s children. They have four absolutely gorgeous children, Maa Shaa Allah: half-(Irish-)American, and half-Bengali (like me! I’m Bengali)

James reverted to Islam and moved from America here to England, to be with his now wife, Maa Shaa Allah. Although they’re quite different, [I maintain that, while a sense of comfort and familiarity is important, opposites attract] James and Nurjahan held the same values and principles, and this is what ensured their compatibility.

Oh my goodness: they have a baby son called Yusuf. And holding a baby while he rests his little head on your collar/shoulder is just so precious. I find singing to babies so healing, and when they become tired.

Mustafa is one of James and Nurjahan’s other children: he is three years old, and he is so, so adorable, Maa Shaa Allah. So cute, and his adorable chubby cheeks, and the way he talks. Aw!!!!!

Then there’s five-year-old Muhammad, who’d been telling me stories and Did You Knows. Made sure he would go and ask his dad to have his vitamins.

And there’s six-year-old Maryam, the eldest of the children. A direct, intelligent, confident, Maa Shaa Allah, girl whose favourite colour is “black,” and then pink. She: prefers “monsters” over princesses.

Three-year-old Mustafa really likes cuddles, and to be picked up and held. He likes looking in the mirror and sticking his tongue out at himself.

Baby Yusuf likes to smile, Maa Shaa Allah. And James said I’m a natural with the babies; that it looks like I’m a mother already! He asked me if I have experience with children, and yes I do, AlHamduliLlah, on account of my little cousins, and my younger tutoring students. Oh, and: let’s not forget my baby brother. He’d been born three months before I turned twelve, and so I spent my teenage years with my baby brother in da house.

I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But note to anybody who’s thinking of having kids:

Babies. Cry. You will probably lose out on some, or a lot of, sleep. You’ll be tested through what you love.

  • Iqra and I: I can already tell that we would have some rather different attitudes to parenting. In Shaa Allah, maybe my future children will be friends with hers. But, for example: there she was, testing James and Nurjahan’s children on what they know. Their Arabic letters, and so on. She wanted to teach them a poem, or about Ibn Battuta. When Mustafa was laying down, ready for a nap, Iqra goes to him (not meanly): “Shut your eyes.” And I sang him a lullaby. What a precious few moments: when a baby’s eyes are closing, closing… asleep. Aw, and just touching their adorable, innocent faces, and listening to them speak.
  • Iqra grew up with three brothers. And her family is quite academically-inclined, it seems: they prepare children for the 11+ exam even from a young age. I’d say my family cares about academic ability and effort too, but we really value play, and childhood. The kids in my family get gifts, somewhat regularly, just for existing, Maa Shaa Allah: they bring joy to homes and to places. Where there are kids, there is life!!

Whittard hot chocolate at James and Nurjahan’s:

This is the lullaby I sang to Mustafa. This one, which I’d learned at primary school, and an Islamic song, ‘Laa ilaaha illaLlah’.

You can just change the words to ‘baby’ instead of ‘lady’. Or to the baby’s name.

Please do check out Saadi’s Instagram:

Insta: sadias_canvas

I love that James and Nurjahan’s home is so beautiful, Maa Shaa Allah. They have a conservatory and a garden, and in the Summer, the kids played with their water-guns. Shooting not each other, but: they were watering the plants with them. [How cute, no?]

They have: paints, big cartons of the three primary colours. And duʿas adorning their home. Their mother either runs or attends a watercolour class. I think, from what I know, she’s a pharmacist, Maa Shaa Allah, but she homeschools her children, so maybe she left her former job towards this noble project.

There’s a sewing machine there too. And a card on the windowsill, sent from their American grandma and grandpa, and they’d also sent gifts from America. The children’s Nan (mother’s mother) lives in a different place here in England, and they see their cousins there too, but Muhammad had referred to his cousins as his “friends” who live near his Nanu.

What a beautiful home and family, May God bless them always.

  • A strong and deep-rooted part of me wants to be a stay-at-home mother. In the near future, In Shaa Allah. [One time, my aunt let me take care of my little cousin Dawud for a day. It is so cute to arrange a baby’s snacks, playtime, learning/story-time. Baking time! Screen-time, when you’re exhausted, walkies, and so on. Dawud is so fun, soul-nourishing and heart-warming, to hang out with, Maa Shaa Allah. And aw, his yellow coat.]
  • And if I stay in and pursue milestone markers in ‘academia’ instead, then: what is my aim, and goal? Can I realistically, meaningfully, and in a way that is good for my health and wellbeing, uphold both? [Rule #1: don’t compare yourself to others though. This is your path, your journey to go on.]
  • What about journalism? The answers to these questions: Allah Knows. But I much prefer the home lifestyle to the idea of spending hours and hours a day working outside of it, this I know.

Yesterday, after visiting James and Nurjahan’s house, I went to CCM to teach at the Madrasah. Awarded the first Student of the Month medal. To Ali, the seven-year-old student who has shown excellence in prayer, in his conduct towards other people, and in his effort in learning the Arabic alphabet. [From Etsy: you can get names engraved in medals!]

I felt exhausted yesterday. AlHamduliLlah for the fact that we can rest. And I worked on the CMC weekly bulletin: the weekly newsletter. I really feel motivated with words of appreciation and kindness. People at CMC have said that they really enjoy reading the bulletin. AlHamduliLlah! This makes me want to create and maintain a high standard, in writing it.

“Indeed with hardship comes ease.”

—Qur’an, (94:5).

Maybe you sometimes, or even often, think things about yourself that are not actually true. I know I have done, and at least sometimes… do.

Consider what those negative ideas and thoughts are, however ‘strongly’ you think you are convinced of them. And now consider when a person, or some people, have informed you otherwise. They’re not lying! They are telling you about yourself.

Did you have a difficult day yesterday?

May you have one filled with ease, goodness, and beauty today. May all the beauty and the goodness take you by (good) surprise. Āmeen.

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